Online Radio Show -- Finding Your Oasis

Interested in voluntary simplicity, living a green lifestyle, decreasing stress and finding fulfillment in your life? Want to explore some of the unique ideas that others have embraced, unusual inventions to improve our lives? Looking for alternative concepts to find your oasis in life, whether it be a mini-oasis to break up your day or a radical new approach to living? Subscribe to our newest online radio broadcast. Just email us at, and we'll provide you with a link to the broadcast site.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friendship The Greatest Inconvenient Way to Relieve Stress

Friendship is inconvenient.  It is trying and often fragile.  Friendship frequently requires effort. Yet, in spite of all its impurities, friendship is the best salve for the fatigue of a hard day, the anxieties of a stressful experience or the melancholy of a tragic loss.

When one begins the search for his or her individual oasis away from the travails of everyday life, the single best place to search is in the company of a friend.

An apt adage declares that, “the best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.”

Many of us find friendship difficult, either because we feel we are imposing on that friend, or that the friend may impose on us.  Most frequently, when we are despondent, our first inclination is to seek solitude.  It is less true that misery loves company than that gloom makes no room for others.  Yet, by interacting with people, we are less able to focus on our own distresses.  Intuitively, then, when we least want company is when we should seek it out.  How lonely it would be to struggle across that barren desert, searching for our oasis, only to be trapped at that abandoned waterhole, having no one with whom we could share our sanctum!

Friendship is inconvenient, though.  It requires that we be prepared to give of ourselves, and to be there for our friends in need.  Need arises at greatly inconvenient times.  So how do we justify giving of ourselves to friends (and strangers) in need?  Do we selfishly do so, expecting that whatever favours we grant will be repaid?  That is a certain route to disappointment and resentment.  Giving to and being there for a friend should be viewed as the reward in itself.  Attitude determines the colour of the world around us.  The pleasure we derive from the comfort that we provide to a friend should be the selfish reward we seek; consequently, we should be selfish often.

Friendship can be fragile, though.  Disagreements – trivial or intense – occasionally threaten the fabric of interaction with friends.  How we handle those fractures determines our own emotional security, more so than that of our colleague. 

A friend lost may soon be found in the ranks of those whom you count as enemies.  Yet, by allowing a man the privilege of being your enemy, you strengthen him and weaken yourself.  Aristotle said, “The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.”  In truth, make as many of those enemies into friends as you can, for, like warm hugs, we can never embrace too many friends.  

Friendship, fortunately, is not fading as the television or computer screen replaces the face of a friend.  Yet, we need to be diligent in keeping human interaction in the forefront of our lives, if we wish to reduce the everyday anxieties that our fast-paced world throws at us.

Finding our individual oasis of comfort in life is less likely to be found in financial wealth than it is in the wealth of friends.  While friends may be found cheaply, they are the most precious possession we have in a stressful, combative world.

As Thomas Edison stated, “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favour of the kings of the world.”

Friends are, in fact, the kings and queens of the world.  Bow to them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finding Your Oasis: Turning Life Into Luxury

We all seek a safe, pleasurable life, or moment in life.  We all seek an oasis of comfort, safety and well-being.  Finding our own oasis is a quest, and it is a quest that is individual.

This article, on finding your own oasis, is really about you, so to confuse things, and to appear completely narcissistic, I want to start by talking about me.  About what I regard as being important.  About what my dreams are.  About my beliefs.  About the things I do.  And, most significantly, about to whom I relate and love.

Actually, I intend to do very little of what I have just claimed.  Quite simply, I approach life with a maximum focus on living it, and a minimal focus on owning it.  I rent life.  And my supplier makes no promises to me!  That is the basis on which I operate.  Do, feel and live it now!  That is, be and do the best you can be, today.

What each of us deems to be “the best” is extremely subjective.  However, there are a few very definite principles that should guide our direction.  I would like, in this introductory article on “finding your oasis,” to elaborate on those concepts, and help you to discover that idyllic spot – figurative or literal – in this world that is meant just for you.  This quintet of canons are: 1) Know what is important to you.  We evolve throughout our life, so what is important may change periodically.   2) Have a dream.  Better yet, have dreams! 3) Believe in something, energetically.  Stand up for your beliefs, too.  4) Live life, and do so with commitment. 5) Love life, and the things in it.  Even love that which you hate.

I began by threatening to talk about me. I find that difficult, since I have been indoctrinated with the belief that I should always place others first, and that modesty requires that I not talk about myself.  It is a belief that I have analysed, and found that, even though it was impregnated in me as a child, by my parents, it still remains true.  That is the beauty of adulthood.  I can choose to embrace or reject those tenets and moral imperatives that others hold to be absolute.  I can make the choice as to what principles will guide my actions and thoughts.  It is choice , in itself, that impacts on our drive to seek a sanctum or haven from the rest of the world.

According to psychologist, Dr. Richard Lazarus, "Stress resides neither in the situation nor in the person.  It depends on a transaction between the two."  Yet, one of the primary reasons that people cite as to why they may want to escape from a situation, a circle of influence, a way of life or a job is that they are stressed.  And, combining a lack of control over our stressful situation with a lack of tools to deal effectively with stress seems to heighten that need to seek relief from the stressor.  Occupational psychologist, Cary Cooper, suggests that even the new technologies that should have been relief mechanisms for stress are contributing to greater stress on individuals.

So, since stress seems to play the pivotal role in our need to “find our oasis,” many of my future articles will examine ways to deal with that stress.

Much of the lives of many of us is spent doing things that we loathe, or, at least, would prefer to not be doing.  The majority of us, for example, count the seconds until the end of the workday, because we are labouring at a task that we do not enjoy.  We either have to “suck it up” and endure, leave the job, or discover ways to turn the tasks into fun.  That is the essence of one scene in the Mary Poppins musical.  We should, regardless of our job or circumstance, be seeking out those things that are important to us, and embracing them, while, at the same time, finding significance in what we do.

For some of us, ironically, the most important thing is money, and we are willing to endure unpleasant consequences in the pursuit of it.  My wife and I live a life of voluntary simplicity, living with the minimum of acquisitions.  In my blog on Lean and Green Living, I elaborate, though, on some of the stressors that such a lifestyle generates, even though the way of living is intended to reduce stress.  If money is that important, then you need to find ways to achieve the goal of acquisition, in order to find your own oasis.  However, a word of caution:  money, most often, is not the objective.  It is what that money signifies, so look deeper, to find the truly important things that you believe that money provides.

Hand in hand with discovering what is important to you is understanding and elaborating upon what your dreams may be.  Dreams are viewed as being distant goals, rather than immediate rewards.  In fact, dreams can be close at hand, or even instantaneous.  My dream is to share a way to live harmoniously, with every one of nature’s gifts, free of intolerance, and to live magnanimously.  While I have not reached that goal (and never will, since the goal constantly moves, and I frequently stumble), I have enriched my life by keeping that dream in focus.

The third tenet in finding our unique oasis is to believe in something, energetically.  I believe in the idea that, in everything I possess, ownership is transient.  Therefore, since I also believe that I am “my brother’s keeper,”  I should not waste or frivolously destroy what I have been given, and should, indeed, seek to improve what I possess before passing it on.  Tied with each of the other four canons of living, I spend much of my leisure time exploring energy and conservation concepts, in the hope that I can improve on what is available currently.  It may be vain, but it is satisfying.

How many of us live our lives with commitment?  How many of us passively watch our lives expire?  By doing little to rescue ourselves, we contribute to our stress and our feelings of being lost and helpless.  Stand up and be counted.  You may be standing up on the side opposite me, but that neither makes you right or wrong.  It makes you dedicated and enthusiastic about that which you choose to embrace, and that takes you a step closer to finding your oasis.

Lastly, we need to love life, and everything in it.  My severed finger, or my long-distant failed marriages, or my infrequent financial crises may not be pleasant, but they reveal to us that we are not observers of life: we are participants, and we should as eagerly endure these hurdles as we do those special, wonderful moments in life, that occur far more frequently than the bitter ones.

There is no one answer to how all of us achieve the goals and objectives outlined in our guide to finding our own oasis.  There are thousands of ideas and routes, as well as side trails and detours.  Nonetheless, when we set out on the journey toward our oasis in the desert, we will already have begun to find it.