The Tripple Socratic Filters To Overcome Gossiping Habit

Have you ever had the urge to gossip about your neighbour, colleague or a celebrity that you don’t even know in person? Though we often feel pleasure doing so, gossiping can lead to establishing a bad habit. Moreover, it defiles the mind with negativity that comes from jealousy, envy, waste of time and energy which prevents the mind from being creative. Fortunately, there is good news. This habit can be overcome if only one decides to take a look at it seriously.

The word “gossip” from the old English godsibb, originally meant ‘godmother’ or ‘sponsor in baptism’, and illustrates a phenomenon called ‘semantic degradation’, where a word of high prestige loses some or all of its value[1]. In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, one who delights in the idle talk about personal matters.

Socrates, one of the most reputed philosophers in the ancient Greece, gives us a great inspiration on how to overcome gossiping habit through his triple filter test in his conversation with an acquaintance.

 THE TRIPLE FILTER TEST:

One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

  • “Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”
  • “Triple filter?”
  • “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is: Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
  • “No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it and …”
  • “All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?
  • “No, on the contrary…”
  • “So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”
  • “No, not really …”
  • “Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good, nor even useful, just forget about it!”

CONCLUSION

Most of the time, gossiping subjects are neither true/real, nor good or useful to anybody. When it becomes a habit, the result would be more likely breaking or developing less trust within existing  relationships.   It’s a high time then to look into this habit through the Socratic triple filter for the sake of our mind’s positivity and creativity, especially when it comes to developing our positive and constructive talks or speech.

[1] Encarta Reference Library 2009

Photo credits:  Ben White on Unsplash

NO To Pessimism

In my language Kirundi, we say “Ntawutanga ico adafise” which means, you cannot give what you don’t have. This is similar to how Peace Revolution project envisions peacebuilding  with its PIPO  (Peace In – Peace Out) concept, putting emphasis on cultivating inner peace first before spreading peace to the outer world.

I have been receiving invitations to participate in various peace conferences by different organizations involved in peace building, but one important question that arises is: what are those conferences aiming at? According to my understanding, such conferences are meant for teaching techniques and strategies on how to become a peace activist in one’s community and surrounding. There is nothing bad in that, but if participants are not taught techniques and strategies on how to find peace from within, we can’t expect any sustainable peace. However, if we have inner peace, we spread it to our surroundings from one individual to another. The more this process expands, the more we move towards a sustainable world peace. Therefore, PIPO concept becomes one of the most effective strategies in communities’ peace building.

Moreover, as peace comes from within, so does pessimism and negativity. Imagine, when the mind accumulates a junk of negativity and pessimism, the entire world becomes negative and the subject becomes pessimist. This can happen to anybody in certain difficult moments of their life. Yet, we deserve a healthy, peaceful and happy life which we can only get from a positive mindset. On this note, I would like to share some interesting tips from Henrik Edberg’s Positivity Blog that would help us overcome pessimism and negativity inviting more peace and calm in our life:

1) Start replacing negativity in your surroundings and life: What you let into your mind during your regular day will have a big effect on how you think and feel. So, start questioning what you let come into your mind.

2) Stop making mountains out of a molehill: The easiest way to ground yourself in a situation where you start to sense that you may be making a mountain out of a molehill is to zoom out a bit on your life by using a question like: will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

3) Be grateful for a few of the things you may often take for granted: When your lens (that you view your daily life through) is tinted in a negative way, it is easy to miss the things you can actually be grateful for. Take a minute as you get out of bed in the morning or get into it in the evening and put your attention on a few such things of which you can be thankful for: three steady meals a day; a roof over my head; my caring family, friends, etc. You’ll find many of them that you hadn’t thought before.

4) Come back to this moment (and stay here): When you’re on a train of negative thoughts, you’re often thinking about something that you could or should have done or said. Or you’re thinking about something that could happen. Or maybe a mix of the two of them as a past experience or two build a monster in your mind about what the future may bring. To get out of any of those places, snap back into this moment – to what is right here, right now.

5) Get a positive start to your day: The first few things you do in the morning often set the tone for your entire day. If you get off to a negative or pessimistic start, it can be quite hard to shake those feelings or perspective. But if you get your morning off to a positive start, then it becomes a lot easier to stay with that emotion and the optimism all the way to the evening and bedtime.

Conclusion

Just like peace and happiness, also pessimism and negativity come from within, from the mind. The condition of the mind is actually what determines the view of the world. Hence, mind needs to be consistently taken care of. And this can be done through various strategies and techniques, among which, we highlighted some of the important ones in this article.

Overcoming Frustration With A Happy Body And Mind

Body and mind are two main components of every human being. It’s actually amazing how our body interacts with our mind. Ever since I started my journey with Peace Revolution practising meditation and mindfulness on daily basis, I have come to learn how mind and body mutually influence each other. In this article, I would like to share some of my personal experiences about body and mind interaction with a special emphasis on how to go about frustration and bad moments.

Softening the mind

In psychology, the word frustration is defined as  “a common emotional response to opposition, related to anger, annoyance and disappointment. Frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfilment of an individual’s will or goal”[1].

It’s obvious that as human beings, we have to face frustration from time to time; yet, the way we react to it differs from one individual to another. When I get frustrated, I soften my mind in three simple steps, which I have learnt from my favorite blogger Henrik Edberg:

Step 1: Be here now

Frustration often comes with the state of mind getting somewhere in the future. This is somewhere you wish to be or you are reliving a stumble or failure from your past.  Snap out of those headspaces and calm down by focusing your mind and attention on what is now, right here at this moment. During day I find 1-2 minutes when I focus my attention 100% on my breathing or what is around me at this very moment with all my senses.

Step 2: Appreciate what you have

After I’ve pulled my attention back to where it can be most helpful, I focus on what is still positive in my life.  The quickest and easiest way to do so is to focus on appreciating what I have and becoming grateful for it.

Step 3: Focus on what you can do right now

With attention in the present moment, it’s now time to get constructive attitudes about what frustrates me. This can be done by asking oneself a simple question:  what is one small step I can take right now to improve this situation?  It may be seeing what you can learn from what frustrates you and trying another path towards your goal.  Or it could be trying one more time and keep going (because not all things in life will come to you the first, second or third time you try).

Freed from frustration

“Sometimes a bad day will just be a bad day; this is because no matter what habits you adopt, life will never be perfect, positive or awesome all the time. And that’s OK. That’s life. But the interesting thing is this: if you accept that life is like this sometimes – and let go of the dream of perfection – then you’ll create less suffering for yourself. And life will become lighter, simpler and happier……” Henrik Edberg.

From my personal experience, when you manage to get rid of frustration, you feel as if a heavy burden is being pulled out of your shoulders. With such a feeling, your mind and body create a kind of enthusiastic harmony which leads to happiness, joy and above all you are driven by a very strong positive energy.

The opposite applies as well; frustration and negativity affect the mind, and when the mind accumulates negativity, the body becomes weak and sometimes driven by negative energy which most of the time leads to aggressive reactions and bad actions.

Conclusion

Mind and body are good companions; they entertain a very close relationship with the mind being the central source of positive or negative energy. The mind, thus, needs to get a good care through a constant mindfulness practice or any other stress management technique.

[1]  Botton, Alain (April 2011). The Consolations of Philosophy, Vintage Books: New York, P. 80.

Du paradoxe Socratique à la libération totale de sa rancœur

Platon[1], un des fervents disciples de Socrate[2], affirme que connaitre le bien veut dire faire le bien. Cette affirmation est, sans doute, écho fidèle du paradoxe Socratique quant à son enseignement éthique. Dans le domaine de l’éthique, on appelle « paradoxes socratiques » un certain nombre de points de vue défendus par Socrate et allant à l’encontre de l’opinion communément admise. Quelles sont ces fameux paradoxes et surtout comment peuvent-ils paver le chemin à la libération totale de sa rancœur ? Les réponses à ces questions, que nous allons donner dans la suite de cet article nous donneront, sans doute, une bonne compréhension d’une liaison très étroite entre les paradoxes socratiques et la redécouverte de soi. D’où un début du processus de libération.

1. Du Paradoxe Socratique à la redécouverte de soi à travers la méditation

Le plus célèbre des paradoxes Socratiques  est celui selon lequel la vertu est une science. Selon l’opinion répandue chez les Grecs, la vertu était un don naturel ou divin, ou encore pouvait s’acquérir au moyen de l’exercice[3]. Mais pour Socrate, la vertu est une connaissance,  c’est-à-dire que savoir ce qu’est la vertu est suffisant pour être vertueux et à l’inverse que pour être vertueux, il est nécessaire de savoir ce qu’est la vertu.

Si Socrate affirme ainsi que «Nul ne fait le mal volontairement, et que l’Homme fait le mal par ignorance »[4], cela ne veut pas du tout dire l’ignorance du mal. Il est très facile de connaitre le mal. Aucune personne sensée ne va pas dire qu’elle ignore que tuer, voler ou infliger l’un ou l’autre mal à son prochain est mauvais. L’instinct suffit lui-même pour apprécier ce qui est mal.  Le paradoxe Socratique fait plutôt référence à l’ignorance du bien.

Selon Platon, disciple fidèle de cette opinion socratique, la vertu suprême consiste dans le détachement du  monde sensible et des biens extérieurs pour aller vers la contemplation des idées et  spécialement l’idée du bien et enfin dans l’effort pour réaliser cette idéale de perfection qui est le bien.[5]  En d’autres termes, la connaissance du bien requiert, selon nos deux fameux Philosophes, un authentique détachement des distractions du monde physique autour de soi qui constituent de sérieux obstacles à la découverte du BIEN idéal.  C’est dans ce processus même que l’esprit, dans son effort de se détacher de ces distractions et des impulsions particulières, amène le sujet à se redécouvrir  soi-même et à découvrir enfin « le bien » idéal.

On peut ainsi équivaloir ce processus à la méditation qui, tout comme dans la théorie platonicienne du détachement du monde sensible à la contemplation  du bien dans le monde des idées, ramène l’esprit de son vagabondage vers le centre du corps. Notre esprit, de part sa nature même, se préoccupe de toute chose dans un laps de temps. Il  s’inquiète du futur, des échecs du passé, des mémoires agréables et/ou désagréable etc.  Ce que nous faisons au fait pendant la méditation, c’est  éduquer l’esprit à se concentrer sur une seule chose à la fois, et qu’il se repose au centre qui est d’ailleurs  sa demeure naturelle. C’est alors dans ce centre que l’esprit peut être tranquille et la personne pourra ainsi être en communion avec soi-même et par la suite découvrir le bien à faire.

 2. Paradoxe Socratique à la source du pouvoir de pardonner  

Si Nul ne fait le mal volontairement, selon le paradoxe Socratique, et que garder sa rancœur est un mal, alors quiconque garde  sa rancœur ignore le bien, les vraies récompenses du pardon. Autrement dit, d’après cette simple logique, la personne qui n’arrive pas à pardonner dérape de ce qu’il/elle appelle le bien. A ce stade du non pardon, le bien semble être plutôt continuer à nourrir sa rancœur.

«Ma femme et moi imaginions que la mort de l’assassin de notre fils nous rendrait nos nuits de sommeil. Or cela n’a rien changé. Ça nous a seulement donné de la compassion pour ses parents qui perdaient leur fils, comme nous. C’était il y a cinq ans et je commence à réaliser que je ne serai en paix que lorsque j’aurai pardonné : à celui qui a tiré sur mon fils, au chirurgien qui ne l’a pas sauvé et à Dieu qui a laissé faire. Mais surtout, et seulement, quand je me serais pardonné, à moi-même, de ne pas avoir été celui qui a reçu la balle fatale (…)» Témoignage d’un jeune couple qui a préféré garder l’anonymat  

Nous devons l’avouer, dépendamment de la profondeur de la blessure,  le pardon n’est pas du tout une chose facile, voir même impossible pour certains. C’est dans son effort de sa rencontre et de communion avec soi-même que l’esprit découvre enfin le bien idéale et de là y trouve son plein pouvoir du pardon. Cela peut être réalisé à travers une introspection en 10 étapes proposées par Fabrice Renault[6].

3. Du pardon à la libération totale de sa rancœur et de son esprit

«Pardonner c’est libérer un prisonnier et découvrir que ce prisonnier était toi» Lewis Smedes (Traduit de l’Anglais).

La rancœur et tous les sentiments de vengeance y associés constituent, sans doute, un obstacle à la paix et à la joie de vivre. De tels sentiments négatifs iront  même plus loin jusqu’à souiller l’esprit quitte à ce qu’il n’ait plus la capacité de percevoir le monde tel qu’il est. Il est à ce moment comparable à de lunettes teintées de saletés qui, à travers lesquelles, il est impossible de percevoir  clairement les choses. Une fois qu’on est parvenu à pardonner, l’esprit regagne sa pleine habileté parce qu’il n’a plus de souillures qui constituaient son obstacle. Il est libéré de sa prison. Bien évidemment, une personne libre peut faire beaucoup plus de choses qu’un prisonnier. De même, l’esprit libéré est créatif et innovant parce qu’il est focalisé. De plus, la libération totale de sa rancœur redonne à l’esprit ainsi libéré, sa tranquillité et sa joie de vivre.

Il n’est pas facile de pardonner son offenseur. La blessure peut être beaucoup profonde qu’il semble même impossible pour certains à se libérer totalement de sa rancœur. Pourtant, il n’est pas impossible; ça demande seulement de prendre une décision radicale à aller à la rencontre de soi pour découvrir le bien à faire et cela à travers la méditation et l’introspection.

[1] Platon,  philosophe grec de l’antiquité (vers. 428-347 av. J.-C.)

[2] Socrate  Philosophe Grec de l’antiquité (vers. 470-v. 399 av. J.-C.), dit créateur de la philosophie occidentale

[3] Voir : Platon, Lachès, 194d, Gorgias, 460b-c, Protagoras, 349d – 361b, Hippias mineur, 375d-e, République, livre I, 350d

[4] Platon, Criton, 49 c-d. Trad. E. Chambry

[5] Louis-André Dorion, « Socrate et l’utilité de l’amitié », Revue du MAUSS, 1/2006, no 27, Pp. 76-77

[6] Renault Fabrice, dans https://www.mieux-vivre-autrement.com/dix-etapes-pour-pardonner-vraiment-et-se-liberer.html

The Key To Success Is In You

Millions of people, mostly young ones, are struggling day and night to achieve “success” in their lives. Unfortunately, given hundred people questioned about what they call success, the chance to have less than 80 different answers is very little. In such situation, there are many possibilities that the majority of those answers are somehow missing the target. What can we really call “success”? And what should be the road map to success? These are some of the important questions that we will discuss in the following paragraphs.

What is success?

One day, at the end of my lesson at one of the university institutions in Bujumbura where I lecture, one of my students followed me to my office and asked: “Sir, looking at the current situation in the country where the unemployment rate keeps on increasing, the economic situation is more or less chaotic, do you think our generation can still hope for a successful life?” Hmmm, the question took me quite some minutes to think of what to answer. “How do you describe a successful person?” I asked the student. And from there we continued our beautiful conversation which led me to search more on this topic.

     Nairobi-Kenya:  One of the “Youth empowerment” clubs’ gathering

The above images mean a lot for me in the context of this article. As I was collecting ideas,  my mind flashed back to Nairobi some years back to my youth empowerment clubs that I was coordinating, from which I drew many inspirational memories that I linked to this topic.

Most people see financial security as success. Yes, but partly, because I have known and heard about many wealthy people committing suicide or living a kind of hell in their everyday life; this cannot be called success, for sure.  Yet, financial well being is a part of the elements that when missed, one has less chance to be happy. In fact, every grown up and responsible person has four responsibilities which are:

  • Physical well being,
  • Social responsibility,
  • Economic responsibility,
  • Mental well being.

All these responsibilities are very important and when well handled, constitute a good package for happiness. Certainly one needs to have a good balance to satisfy the four responsibilities. However, this cannot be the end in itself; the four responsibilities are just some of the means to happiness. Hence, inspired by famous John Lennon’s quote, I came to realize that success is HAPPINESS, the Ultimate goal for life.

“My mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon

 The road map to success

  • A happy mind is an empowered mind

Knowing the fact that a human being is composed of two main components – mind and body – and that the mind controls the body, one needs to take a very good care of their mind for the sake of happiness. When the mind is happy and empowered by positive energy, all other actions of the body are also positive. The opposite applies as well; when the mind is negative, actions are negative. Hence, every human being is entitled to happiness.

What often deprives us from that happiness and peace is, in fact, the nature of the mind itself; it keeps on wandering and being anxious about many things at the same time, about the future, the past and many other external occurrences around us in which our mind hovers consistently. Many times they will not be pleasant to the mind, and in this case we won’t be joyful.

What can be the remedy to this fact?

Meditation is the best remedy, and it has been proved scientifically. Through meditation, we bring the mind within and by doing so we limit its distractions and thus we experience peace and joy. When you practice meditation and manage to bring your mind to a standstill point, you will not only feel peaceful and happy; it will become a stable and continuous feeling because the mind is at the centre of gravity.  What we do during meditation, is to train the mind to stay focused and standstill at one point/one particular thought where it can enjoy the present moment.  When the mind is happy and at peace,  it becomes more creative because it is focused and has no more obstacles of negativity that prevent the mind from thinking clearly. Its positive energy is the power itself which brings it to the highest level of creativity. Hence, a happy and peaceful mind is an empowered mind.

  • An empowered mind empowers

“Our doubts are traitors and make us loose the good we often might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespare

One of the most important characteristics of a happy and empowered mind is positivity. Definitely, a positive mind would be much more optimistic and by being optimistic a person with a positive mind is successful in his enterprises. The clarity and focus of his mind empowers the person with self esteem and self confidence so much that they become more and more successful in business, in school or in any of their other endeavours.

We understand consequently that real success does not follow the pursuit of wealth without happiness but rather a pursuit of success through happiness. Hence, actually the key to success is not from your high studies, your money or whatever external factor but it is in YOU.

Conclusion

Every human being would prefer to be successful in their life. The problem is that many set a wrong target. The real success is Happiness, because a happy mind is an empowered mind and when the mind is empowered, it empowers and leads to an authentically successful life.