George Andersen

Philosophical Counselor

14 June

Beauty as motivator

Created by the Russian artist Sceith.

In one of my previous posts I wrote about the fact that people can change to became better human beings. Among the things that could motivate us to change and improve ourselves is beauty. Beauty goes beyond our cultural backgrounds and the environment in which we live; it appeals to that part of our soul that can transform and purify us. Sometimes beauty touches us through the eyes of a loved one, or through the fragility of a flower. Sometimes it is revealed to us through a dream. Sometimes it comes from within and sometimes from the outside.

When we see beauty we may feel the need to look at it, to let her go through us, to understand it, to learn from it, to make it part of our lives, and to let our thoughts and actions be permeated by it. Beauty can be a powerful motivator for change. If we can accept its presence it makes us more human, gentle, and compassionate. In order to be touched and motivated by beauty we have to tend to our soul, open our eyes so that we see it when it appears in the fleeting moments of our lives, and open the door for it.

04 May

Counseling is a dialogue, not a lecture

Created by Shannon May.

Philosophical counselling, or any other form of counselling, is sometimes thought as being a passive act in which the counsellor provides the counsellee with some form of insight or knowledge that is supposed to address the issue at stake.  This view is inaccurate, for it disregards the dialogue, the common exploration, and the collaboration involved in working towards the well being of the counsellee.

Recently, a friend of mine stated that I “fix” people. Surprised by the remark, I responded that the ideas, perspectives, and examples that I present to people are tools to be employed together, as appropriate for the circumstances. People I counsel have a responsibility to work on the things they want to change for better. To the best of my abilities, I walk with them, as equals, through their philosophical inquiry. Counseling is a dialogue, not a lecture.

23 April

We can change

On occasion, we reach a point in our lives when we feel caught in a situation from which we cannot move further. We have a feeling of “being stuck”. Some people realize that in order to get “unstuck” they have to change something and work on specific steps they have to take. Others accept the situation and concentrate on maintaining a level of stability and not falling into despair. It is important to understand that it is up to us to do something to change the situation.

We can change.

28 March

On the importance of meetings

Every now and then we suddenly meet people that have a positive influence on us. Through their way of being, these people inspire us and help us realize that we are not alone in our quest for the life goals we set for ourselves: understanding the world around us, improving ourselves, helping others, etc.

It is important to acknowledge and cherish these meetings as great parts of our lives for they are moments in which we “give and take” from our hearts. It is this exchange that crosses both nurture and nature that shows the beauty in the meetings of the minds.

12 February

The risk involved in presenting ideas for improvement

Even when doing it out of good intentions, sometimes presenting ideas for improvement to other people could be perceived as an affront. Especially in situations when people do not expect to receive advice or recommendations, our intention to help could be misinterpreted.  For example, when we recommend the reading of or reflection on a particular thought, the other person could think that we are showing off, or that we are making a judgment about her or his character.

In real life, we do not always gauge exactly others’ openness to new ideas. If we truly want to help, it might be necessary to take the risk of having our intention misinterpreted. One way of mitigating this risk is to keep in mind that people are different and that a “one size fits all” counselling approach does not work. As much as possible, we have to match the ideas we would like to impart with the audience intended, so that the act of helping unfolds and is perceived as such, and not as an offence.

21 January

Let’s find the right speed

As children, we feel that time passes slowly. As adults, we try to keep up with the demands on our schedule. Why are we running through life?  Here are some of the reasons that come up after a brief reflection:

  • we attend to tasks we need to accomplish
  • we feel that we need to make the most of the time we have
  • we believe that the more we do the better it is for us and our dear ones
  • we work more
  • we need to be busy for various reasons
  • we do not have the time to think about what we do
  • we do things because others do them too
  • we think that we have to do more than others to succeed

These reasons and many others are behind the rush that permeates our different roles in society (human beings, citizens, employees, parents, spouses, etc.). When is it good to be on the run and when is it not?

The “right” answer is different for each of us; each of us have their own ways of being in this world. As Carl Honore suggests in his book “In Praise of Slow”, the idea is to live at a pace that is conducive to a healthy and happy life. It is up to us to define what such a life means and then adjust accordingly: neither too fast, nor too slow but at the right speed for each situation.

Let’s find the right speed.

03 December

Let us be vigilant

“Since the beginning of our conversation, we have come closer to death.  Let us be vigilant while we still have the time.” – a monk’s reflection

I found this quote a while ago and it stuck with me. Thinking about our own mortality brings forth the question of how should we live the rest of our life and encourages us to examine our pursuits, and values. Moving from where we are to where we want to be as human beings requires change, and change requires effort. Let’s make an honest effort to improve ourselves.

16 November

Elegance is a display of good character

If elegance comes from within, it is likely the display of a good character.  Not all people with a good character show elegance, though. They have certain positive traits but elegant behaviour requires more than a few good traits.

In my humble opinion, these are some of the main character aspects the employment of which would likely result in elegant living:

  • Being able to let go
  • Belief in goodness of others
  • Care for others
  • Composure
  • Common sense
  • Courtesy
  • Good judgment
  • Intuition
  • Observation
  • Openness
  • Patience
  • Respect for oneself and others
  • Sense of duty
  • Simplicity
  • Thoughtfulness
19 October

Elegance is both an art and a science

It is an art because it requires subjectivity and finesse. It is a science because it requires objectivity and precision.

20 September

Elegance comes from within

To be elegant, it is not enough to be dressed well. Elegance comes from within effortlessly and it is not tainted by need for attention or interest.