What is ‘Normal’ Anyway?

By Florence Scialom

We all feel a pressure to be ‘normal’ at times: to live up to societal expectations, to fit neatly into a category, to be clearly understandable by others. But what does it really mean to be normal? And is it actually a desirable state to be in? Through practicing mindfulness, I’ve been able to gain confidence in embracing the ‘abnormal’ aspects of myself and those around me. I have come to realise: that which is out of the ordinary can at times offer us the most beauty, joy and wisdom in life.

Allowing room for difference

The pressures we feel not to divert too far from mainstream behaviors can come in response to different choices, large and small: from what you eat, wear and spend money on, to who you choose to love and how you choose to spend your life. Unfortunately, these pressures can cause a feeling of quiet desperation in those who feel that they just don’t fit in. Continue reading “What is ‘Normal’ Anyway?”

Who Are We: Economic Man or Holistic Human?

By Florence Scialom

In economics, human beings are often viewed as caricatures, based on an exaggeration of certain identity traits: a desire for personal wealth and hedonistic luxury, a resistance to work and being motivated by personal gain alone. Yet in reality we are both more messy and more beautiful than this image of homo economicus allows.

Recently, I’ve been reading Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth. She explains in detail that in order to update economics for the 21st century, we need to move away from perceiving ourselves as ‘rational economic man,’ and acknowledge that we are in fact socially adaptable, holistic humans.

Rather than isolated and selfish, we are interdependent and reliant on each other and upon nature. Rather than being motivated by personal gain alone, we often get satisfaction from helping others and having a deeper sense of purpose. Continue reading “Who Are We: Economic Man or Holistic Human?”

Vulnerability is a Strength: An Ode to Stretch Points

By Florence Scialom

I love reaching my stretch point; just outside of my comfort zone, but just before I step into the panic zone. That point at which I really feel like I’m extending myself beyond my usual limits, testing my abilities and hopefully growing as a person. This point can be reached in the actions and choices I make in my life. Plus, as a result of practicing mindfulness, I’ve regularly experienced stretch points in the way I communicate with myself and with others too.

What creates a stretch point?

I experience a stretch point when I push myself to achieve something I’ve long dreamed about. It is often something that makes me nervous and excited at the same time (there’s no English word for this, but in Dutch the word is “spannend”). Continue reading “Vulnerability is a Strength: An Ode to Stretch Points”

Reasons for Hope in a Changing World: Chandolin Retreat Review

By Florence Scialom

“The last thing the world needs is our despair… if we want to be agents of change we need to cultivate qualities of hope, understanding, happiness and love”.

These are the words of Ha Vinh Tho, one of the teachers at a retreat I recently attended in Chandolin, Switzerland. The retreat was called Transformation and Healing: Ancient Wisdom for a New World, and explored how we can bring more hope and positive action to these changing times we live in. Continue reading “Reasons for Hope in a Changing World: Chandolin Retreat Review”

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