i've been reading the book 'the art of possibility' by rosamund and bejamin zander, and i have to say, it has been an absolute eye opener. i've recommended it to a few people, and think that really everyone should read it. in case you aren't able to buy the book, or make it to a library to check it out, here are some passages from the chapter 'the way things are':

From the film Babe:
The scene: Christmas day on the farm. The pig, cow, hens, and Ferdinand the duck crowd by the kitchen window, craning their necks to see which unfortunate one of their kind has been chosen to become the main course at dinner. On the platter is Roseanna the duck, dressed with sauce l'orange.

Duck (Ferdinand): Why Roseanna? She had such a beautiful nature. I can't take it anymore! It's too much for a duck. It eats away at the soul...

Cow: The only way to find happiness is to accept that the way think are is the way things are.

Duck: The way things are stinks!

The cow expresses an oft-repeated philosophy, while the duck, if truth be told, speaks for most of us - not only about the way things are, but also about the cow's sanctimonious and resigned attitude toward life. Presumably, the cow will go like a lamb to the slaughter, while the duck will look for means of escape. But what if there is no apparent way out? Will the duck spend what he conceives to be his last days in misery, flapping against the walls of his cage?

The practice in this chapter is an antidote both to the hopeless resignation of the cow and to the spluttering resistance of the duck. It is to be present to the way things are, including our feelings about the way things are. This practice can help us clarify the next step that will take us in the direction we want to go.

The calculating self is threatened by such an attempt: "Why hang around and feel like a sucker?" it asks.

But the central self expands and develops with each new experience:
"What is here now?" it asks, and then,
"What else is here now?"

Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are in the resigned way of the cow. It doesn't mean that you should drown out your negative feelings or pretend you like what you really can't stand. It doesn't mean you should work to acieve some "higher plane of existence" so you can "transcend negativity." It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense.

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Mistakes can be like ice. If we resist them, we may keep on slipping into a posture of defeat. If we include mistakes in our definition of performance, we are likely to glide through them and appreciate the beauty of the longer run.

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When we dislike a situation, we tend to put all of our attention on how things should be rather than how they are...When our attention is primarily directed to how wrong things are, we lose our power to act effectively. We may have difficulty understanding the total context, discussing what to do next, or overlooking the people who "should not have done what they did" as we think about a problem.

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Speaking in Possibility
Often, the person in the group who articulates the possible is dimissed as a dreamer or as a Pollyanna persisting in a simplistic "glass half-full" kind of optimism. The naysayers pride themselves on their supposed realism. However, it is actually the people who see the glass as "half-empty" who are the ones wedded to a fiction, for 'emptiness' and 'lack' are abstractions of the mind, whereas 'half-full' is a measure of the physical reality discussion. The so-called optimist, then, is the only one attending to real things, the only one describing a substance that is actually in the glass.

Being with the way things are calls for an expansion of ourselves. We start from what is, not from what should be; we encompass contradictions, painful feelings, fears, and imaginings, and - without fleeing, blaming, or attempting correction - we learn to soar, like the far-seeing hawk, over the whole landscape. The practice of being with the way things are allows us to alight in a place of openness, where "the truth" readies us for the next step, and the sky opens up.

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