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Functionally Dysfunctional

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Functionally Dysfunctional

Functionally Dysfunctional

    A Shift of Focus

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    business man watching his business finances grow

      Yesterday I spent some time with a bloke who wants to shift his life focus, change his career and begin doing some work with people who are struggling with certain challenges in their world. Over the last year he has had a few significant experiences which have given him a different perspective on life, a better understanding of certain things and a much greater level of awareness, consciousness and empathy for other people; all good things.

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      Here’s part of our conversation:

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      BLOKE: “When I’m a little more organised and I’ve got all my crap together, I want to be able to help people turn their lives around and make a difference in a real and practical way – kind of like you do.”
      CH: “In that case, you’ll never help anyone.”
      B: “What?”
      CH: “You heard.”
      B: “Why do you say that?”
      CH: “Because you’ll never have all your crap together.”
      B: “What do you mean?”
      CH: “I mean everybody has issues and if you wait for personal perfection before you start to help others, you’ll never help one person. It’s simple.”
      B: “Hmm…” (thinks deeply)
      CH: “Nobody has all their crap together, everybody has issues on some level and we’re all works in progress. It’s called being human. In fact, the person who tells you that they have no issues is usually the one with the most!”
      B: “I guess so.”
      CH: “What many people don’t understand is that it’s in our efforts to help others – despite our own issues – that we begin to help ourselves also. By investing into something bigger than us, we stop being so self-focused, paranoid and egotistical and we begin to see the world – and us in it – from a healthier and more balanced perspective.”
      B: “But I would feel like a fraud helping people while I still have my own issues to deal with.”
      CH: “Welcome to the I-feel-like-a-fraud club; it’s a whopper.”
      B: “Are you a member?”
      CH: “A foundation member.”
      B: “You?”
      CH: “Yep, I have felt like a fraud many times over my journey but I arrived at the point where I realised that being human and being perfect are incompatible. Doesn’t happen. I have issues and I always will. Sometimes helping others is less about ability and more about availability. I have simply made myself available. Despite my flaws. Far too many people inhabit the I’m-not-good-enough paradigm and that – not their ability- stands between them and their potential to impact the lives of others in a meaningful and positive way.”
      B: “But what about the things I’m dealing with right now?”
      CH: “Keep dealing with them but don’t be obsessed with them. Do you think that someone like Oprah might have a few issues of her own? Imagine if Miss O waited for perfection before she decided to impact the lives of others or seek to do good in a tangible and practical way. Just because she has some personal challenges doesn’t mean she can’t help other people – clearly. She’s been a very public work in progress for decades and along the way she’s managed to help a lot of people – despite her imperfections.”
      B: ”Yeah, that makes sense.”
      CH: “A few years back I mentored a dietician for about six months, helping her work through some issues. She is a very successful and competent health professional, she consistently produces great results, she’s in high demand and at that time… she had a major eating disorder. Specifically, she was bulimic.”
      B: ”Really?”
      CH: “Yep and despite her own challenges, she consistently produced great results with other people. She’s better now, but that challenge in her life has made her an even better dietician and teacher.”
      B: “Hmm..”
      CH: “Every mentor, teacher, coach and personal development guru (whatever that means) has secrets, insecurities, doubts, fears and destructive habits. Every one. Every outwardly-strong person has fears and internal struggles. Don’t necessarily assume that the shiny cover of the book is a reflection of the pages that lie within. In order to know the book, you need to read the pages…. all of them. And most people will never allow that.”
      B: “You have those same fears?”
      CH: “Of course.”
      B: “When?”
      CH: “Every once in a while when I’m about to do my regular television segment, the insecure, fourteen year-old fat kid drops by before I go on air just to remind me that I really shouldn’t be handing out advice on national television; being a stupid fat kid and all. I thank him for dropping by and do my segment anyway.”
      B: “Okay, I’m in.”
      CH: “Good for you.”

      There’s a big difference between self-improvement and self-obsession and sometimes in our quest for “better” we actually create worse. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t consciously and consistently work on “us” (natch), but I am suggesting that sometimes the best way to help ourselves, is to help others. A little holiday from your issues might be just what you need. Works for me. Give it a bash.

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      More by this author

      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on January 27, 2022

      5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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      5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

      Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

      “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

      Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

      Food is a universal necessity.

      It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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      Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

      Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

      Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

      Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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      The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

      Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

      This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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      Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

      Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

      Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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      So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

      Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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