Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Slow Movement

I first got introduced to the Slow movement by Anne Marchand, someone who was also holding meetings for the Voluntary Simplicity network. It had started off as a slow food movement and contributed to the creation of the latter group. I still apply its basic tenet in my everyday life.
One of the most difficult jobs you can have is dealing with the public, whether in person or otherwise. I'm not referring to someone like me who makes appointments, but when you need to go to work and deal with the mass influx of people. Another stressful aspect of work or life is deadlines. In these and other situations, it's speed that's the problem. Not the actual physical speed of things, but the stress endured by our brains that muddle things up and build up the anxiety. This in turn uses up our endorphins and leaves us tired at the end of the day. Repeat this and it's the beginning of the destruction of our immune system.  This will eventually lead to burnout or other illness.
When I was going through this, I decided to consciously try to control my amount of negative excitement, or stress,  throughout the day so as to feel almost as fresh after work as I did in the morning. This took a very big conscious effort on my part and affected my production at first for the worst. It then slowly made me capture the control my mind needed over the once mixed up potpourri of inarticulate matter. My results got better and the time the task took me was often reduced.
This can be applied to every sphere, or aspect, of life.
This conscious empowerment soon becomes innate and very rewarding.
I can help you achieve this in any aspect of your life.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Bard and the Beauty

There are many beautiful things in the world. It was through an acquaintance that I found out about my happiness lying in living within a framework of honesty, truth, and knowledge on the one side and helping on the other. It is my job to eliminate dead ends and put forks on the road instead.
It was after my university days that I bought a one way ticket to rural Greece and wrote 2 books of poetry and another of short stories. I lived alone in a house with limited running water, an out house for a toilet, and no hot water. I gave up many everyday things like human contact for days on end and I also decided to lose any type of footwear. No injury came to me. When I walked to main street I made sure I looked presentable, but people knew of my unique behavior and I soon had ladies bringing me meals for days on end. I made art and created great literature.
Most of all, I experienced serenity and set out a life plan. I started helping others and it felt okay. It was a bit later that I realized that I had not empowered anyone since I hadn't empowered myself. I continued to meditate and create. It was a bit later that I became interested in politics and participated in aiding the marginalized.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Story --- Ted Kouretas' Tough Road to Optimal Empowerment

When a person is born, they need to be raised properly in order to be successful.  Success also depends on your environment and, unfortunately, your means. Some people are born in more enlightened households and others will have to struggle to the top. In a world of inequality, there is little to do but accept our position and work our way up. There are rules to follow and obstacles to overcome. As an experienced empowerment trainer with proven success, I need to tell you that anything is possible. If I could do it, anyone can.
I was born in a time of plenty to immigrant parents new to Canada who knew just enough to scrape by.  Having sent me to Greece to be raised by my grandparents to age 7, you can imagine what kind of a transition I was in for starting the second grade with almost no knowledge of the English language.  It was tough to even know how to communicate with my teachers. I managed to pass the 2nd grade with fairly good marks, thanks mostly to my math skills and the way I quickly picked up grammar. In grade 3, I was put in a class in the basement of the school called BP  (basement paradise ). It was a nice way of cramming the less successful students in an underachieving class. But I loved it. I soon became the smartest kid in the class. This was due to my mother's constantly looking over me and making sure my work was done and often sending me next door to a retired teacher's house to make sure I was progressing.  My uneducated parents unknowingly planted the first seed of empowerment in me --- EDUCATION. Education is a broad concept that people often mix up. I will touch on this later. I was soon a star student and overcame my obstacle of succeeding in school quite easily.
My life got a lot harder as I started high school. I was bullied a lot. I was very sensitive and unable to cope. I was unable to go to school without having trouble breathing or getting depressed.  Age 13 was a terrible and pivotal time in my life.  There was the bullying followed by epileptic seizures.  Then there were the anti depressants I had to take.  I was given permission to miss a year of school by the doctor, but I decided to stay. I felt that stopping school would have been beginning of the end.  I fought with depression for almost a decade. I am glad this happened because it brought about my creativity.
I was not bullied for long because a gang member that I helped with his homework warned the bully to stay away from me or he'd break his arm.  I had other bullying incidents, but this one that affected me so much had been taken care of. I recently met this bully and saw a pitiful man, which truly saddened me. It seems bullying was the only way he could fill the void in his life.
Bullying is perhaps the greatest impediment to happiness and success, breaking us down during our formative years.  I strongly encourage all of you to join an anti - bullying campaign in your area in order to help empower children to deal with bullies and empower the bullies to better understand their life and seek help. I will get into this in depth in the future. After all, this is the greatest problem to youth and to adults currently, affecting the increase in suicide rates and depression.
I will write a much bigger bio on my upcoming website and when I publish my short stories. Suffice it to say that even after all these setbacks, I never lost focus on my goal. Not for one minute. Not even through panic attacks and tearful confessions. During my darkest moments, there was always that light at the end of the tunnel that made my current moment worth living. I now understand that it was all a learning experience leading to now.
All my successes I attribute to turblent times and growth experiences.  My political career would not have been possible had I not learned how to be eloquent in my creative years. My leadership skills in special interest groups were possible because I had acquired the education to be able to empower myself. My being one vote away from being a member of the Canadian parliament was no fluke, but rather a question of will. And although I lost the runoff to the eventual winner, I took that as a sign that better days were ahead. After all, how many had gone as far as I had?
My proudest moments are less glorious. They are filled with gratitude from people I've helped. From dirty soup kitchens to heading support groups in upper class neighbourhoods, the smiles of gratitude and a human smile of grace under pressure are my biggest reward.  My biggest achievement to date is helping myself get out of dire straits and empowering others to do so.
Thank you for reading and I hope to have you at my website when it is up.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Calm Down Before We Go On

I discovered  a couple of years ago and have recommended it to many people for their relaxation needs and to sometimes facilitate flow experiences. ENJOY!

Enjoy the silence

While Depeche Mode and Mad Men are become spiritual and silent by accident, we need to understand that epiphanies are often obtained through meditation and inner peace even in pop culture.

Whether one is religious, spiritual, or agnostic, they need to find and manipulate the mechanisms that brings about inner peace within them.

The numerous ways of doing this are explored more in depth with happiness practitioners.

The Secret to Success

No two people have the exact same goal and the reasons for similar goals are varied. There is also not one road to success. We all know our strengths and weaknesses and we need to concretely identify them to set a path to success. But that's the easy part. The rigid part is sticking to the outlined steps to success.
You will notice that extremely successful people have never put their foot off the gas. They never stop their run to the finish line. They find a way to survive when mere mortals would have thrown up the white flag.  While Ronda Rousey and Justin Trudeau are classic models of success, showing perseverance and commitment no matter what may be going on,  Charles Bukowski and Nelson Mandela show a commitment that goes beyond mere everyday challenges to overcoming the extraordinary or even the impossible. Bukowski had a goal of speaking for the disenfranchised in a way no poet has ever done. An alcoholic and mired in poverty, he manages to  cope and find ways to survive while trying to meet his end goal. While Bukowski always had the talent, he needed it to shine through. He got his break because he managed to get noticed. Isn't that what we're trying to do now?
Nelson Mandela is perhaps the most inspirational man to have ever been born. All he wanted was equal rights. Imprisoned for decades,  he came out of prison after the international community gave the apartheid government in South Africa no choice but to free him.  He immediately blamed no one for what happened and didn't forgive his oppressors. He went a step further and just turned the page. Only in this way could he stay committed to his end goal. Letting hate, the vehicle of the week, take control of him would not have led to his success. Wanting revenge would have caused tumult. The smooth transition that took place was smooth because Mandela was a strong man. He was beyond reproach in his commitment.  This is what heroes are made of. This is also what leaders and people who want control of their lives need to be made of. You don't need to have anyone to look up to. You need to have the passion and love to see your path to happiness through to the end.

Slow Down and Smell ....

We need to use our senses optimally in order to enjoy all the joys life has to offer.  For me, the smell of nature is optimal, as is the smell of the salt water when closing your eyes to hear the ocean waves. Then there's the taste of grilled octopus or whatever else tastes good with some lemon and olive oil on top. I love the touch of smooth skin or the feeling of sand between my toes.  And boy do I love to see autumn leaves in Canada. And who doesn't like the unending horizon of sky and ocean.
I love the feeling of spending time with friends over coffee. I love barbecue pool parties.
Mostly ,  we need to count our blessings and the time to do it.
I have been a part of the Slow movement, first started through the concept of eating food that cooks slow and savored even slower. My logical next move was Voluntary Simplicity. I became the coordinator and got to understand that people from all backgrounds were interested in downsizing their lives, be it one less car in exchange for a bike, or great natural food with no additives.
I will speak of simplicity and optimal empowerment in depth in a future article.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Zen and the Art of Flow

You may have noticed by now that I try to write well. Well, I do.  I try to put art, creativity, and proper grammar into everything I write.  I can lose myself for hours in my writing. No matter how hurried I am or how close a deadline is, I make sure all is optimally written. This is my zone. My flow. I have my flow experience when I write. All else disappears and I am living in a perpetual moment of me and my activity. The activity needs to be interesting to me and I need to have it mastered to an extent that won't cause distraction. As well, it needs to be something that will push you to go one step further. 
One awesome flow I crave is the one experienced by the long distance runner.  There has to be so much concentration in your mind and the endorphins must bring you to elation. A car mechanic is another person that always seems to take pride in what he does. But my first thought of a flow activity is the Bonzai tree trimmer.  Such concentration and such exactness.
We hear of athletes who lose track of everything but the game at hand. When asked how they were able to make such an impossible play, they simply reply  "you need to be in the zone ". Focus gives us extra power and will. Losing track of time and the mundane keeps your brain healthy and your will at optimum capacity. If we could lose ourselves in flow every day, then we can empower ourselves that much more quickly. 

Flow can exist in all situations. It can help people excel in their jobs by challenging them through activities they have mastered. How many times have we been unable to complete simple tasks? We need to identify what a flow experience is and how we can use it. 

I would be glad to help you towards finding flow experiences in your life that would energize you towards optimal empowerment. 

Forgive and Heal

People love holding grudges. They love hating other people.
I  can honestly say that I am an eternal empathist.  There's a reason why I was bullied when I was young. It had nothing to do with me. It had nothing to do with the bully's true character. It had to do with his life experience. The bully made my life a living hell when I was young. I went behind him one day and had a stone in my hand ready to bash him behind the head with it. I was actually risking ruining both our lives because I needed immediate gratification. He turned around and looked at my outstretched arm and a fear gripped him. It is then that I saw him as human. I found out some time later his father had been abusive with him. But at that moment, I saw a helpless and pitiful teenager. I threw the rock away and he tried to bully me again. From that moment on, I was immune to bullying.
I later learned to forgive him. This is when all the baggage of having been abused by this child finally started rolling off my body. I was then in a position to choose a proper life path, one which included empowerment against bullying.
No matter how heinous a crime one may have committed against you, forgiveness doesn't make you weak or a loser. It helps you be happy. In the end, the best reason to forgive someone is for your happiness. There is no one more important than you, after all


How many friends do you have on Facebook?
You may not know these people, but they are part of your social network. You can ask them for guidance in times of need. But does looking at people's thoughts on paper and what they had for dinner last night make you happy? In one word, No. Interaction makes us happy. We need to belong. At the same time, we need to exist as we want to. We need to evolve more fully and this goes beyond the Internet. We need to feel love. We need to feel respect. We need to know we have achieved something. 
This is perhaps the most frustrating part a lot of my clients have when it comes to defining where they belong. All the apparent freedom involved with the ease of social interaction online takes away from reality. It fragments and truncates while making everyone just another cog in an undefined whole.
The magic is within you, and I can help you find it in order to empower you on the road to optimal empowerment.

Conquer Your Hurdles

 It is often overwhelming when a seemingly tragic situation overtakes us. It does not leave us alone and often takes away our ability to function in our everyday lives.  Often it leads to tragic and dire consequences that  could have been avoided. So many poor, abused, homeless, and unhappy people have had tragedy overtake them to the point they could no longer do what they wished. I have had clients who have had years of therapy that didn't help. There is no complex theory or a set of pills needed in most cases. What is needed is a life plan; and planning for the tragic is a big part of that plan.
I tell clients to treat every event as a hurdle in their life path. Hurdles can be merely goals that are easy to attain or seemingly heavy and overwhelming obstacles. The clearer the vision for your life path, the easier it is to make a plan on properly utilising coping mechanisms appropriate to the situation. Some are easy fixes. A seaside vacation. Meditation camp. An impromptu voyage. Joining a support group. But many situations are very serious and hard to overcome. I advise people to look at death and what may be involved in coping with it. If you can overcome that, then you can overcome anything. Many have learned to see death as a passage. Learning to appreciate life is the embryo to empowerment against death.
This is not to say all will be great right away. But suffice it to say that we are lost without anything or anyone to turn to.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness seem to be growing in popularity. But what exactly is in it for you?
For centuries, we have heard of people being humane to the less privileged.  We have recently seen big corporations giving to their community. Athletes go visit moribund kids in their hospital beds.  These are high end things that are often well meaning but that don't usually catch the essence of giving.  Especially if you're looking for a photo op.
What I'm referring to here is someone who receives as much happiness giving as the ones who receive his kindness. How often do we hear of anonymous donors?
When these acts of kindness become random, the self has learned to instinctively respect humanity by always striving to do the right thing. Kindness becomes commonplace and inner fulfillment follows. There are few greater rewards and paths to enlightenment and success more positive than respecting others.

Be Yourself

Almost all successful people avoid overthinking and social comparison. If one is part of the crowd, it makes it impossible to stick out from  the crowd and become great.  It stunts our growth and makes us resistant to success.
CM Punk, pictured, has labeled himself as The Straight Edged Superstar. Thinking this  to be a gimmick for his wrestling character, we were proven wrong when he was fired for not fitting in. He has since had a bigger following of people with clean bodies and free thought. In their straight edged world, there is no regret for your actions, just learning derived from them.  The group don't take any drugs, alcohol, don't smoke, and even cut the caffeine. They have built pride within themselves and can be true role models ----but without delving into social comparison.


How Can You Be Smiling at a Time Like This?

Cultivating optimism is even harder than it sounds.  It takes resiliency and even courage to look overboard of a difficult situation.
I went to the clinic waiting for a very young doctor to come see me. I didn't thing Dr. Yung would be able to diagnose something as serious as a stabbing feeling  in my colon. She went through the motions of examining me and looking at the ultrasound results.  She informed me there was a mass as big as a small olive yet again.  She was puzzled, saying the mass must be an indication of something too benign to be seen.  She looked at my frightened face and posture and stopped smiling. She touched me and said that the scan would alleviate some fears but that positive thinking may control the outcome of the scan. Either way, she said, the scan results would make me feel better. She rubbed my shoulders and said that it'd all be fine.
The scan was good. There were no problems. The stabbing went away and my digestion would slowly go back to normal. Dr. Yung knew all was well.  She was reinforcing the power of positive thinking. When I met her at a book signing a few months later, I thanked her for helping me understand.  "My friend is the author of this book and he taught me about cultivating optimism. He had a full time job and wrote at night after getting divorced and his  children moved out of province. He'd be poor and lonely were it not for his optimism. " She gave my cheek a slight pinch and said goodbye.
I often think of Jack Layton and other leaders who have performed small miracles and see that they all had to cultivate optimism in their assent. No pill or drug can do this.
The power of the mind is something that needs to always be explored and mastered on the road to optimal empowerment.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Expressing Gratitude

  The secret and starting point to everlasting happiness is gratitude.  We need to be thankful for what we have.  And there are so many things to be thankful for. Just sit down and make a list of all the people and things that inspire you and that you love and gratitude begins right there. We can be thankful for our health. We can be thankful for our family and friends. The list is endless.  The everyday mundane things we take for granted are building blocks towards happiness. The more we realise their significance and the more we see their role towards optimal empowerment, the more we will show gratitude towards them.
    As an exercise, think of a goal you have attained and then write down the steps you took in achieving that goal.  Who and what were involved in the accomplishment? Were you grateful for all these people and situations that brought you there?  Did you feel that some seemingly negative situation may have helped you?  Are you grateful for that?
    Gratitude is karmic and when we master the art of gratitude, it becomes  apparent that we receive it back.  That's what inner peace and serenity are all about.

How Happy Are You?

    The diagram below shows the tendencies of happy people. Isn't this what optimality is? It is peace and serenity.  And even though you may not want to do all of the 12 things listed in the diagram, you will no doubt agree the all these acts are part of a euphoric whole. This is a lasting euphoria, so it is subdued, low -key, and eventually everlasting.
    Most people may see this as something associated with yogis or people who have some kind of demons to exorcize.  What they don't realise is that these acts encompass what is empowerment.  When happiness is achieved within, it is later given outwards.  We are ready to empower others. Read on for a closer look. 

Welcome to your Optimal Self

    Optimality is the state of self -awareness that allows us to properly pursue our life goals. The pursuit of happiness is the goal of everyone, whether they realise it or care to admit it. Optimal empowerment is how we reach this state of optimality, or self -awareness. 
    There are a series of steps that need to be carefully experienced and understood before we can be in the state of optimal empowerment.  The first step begins at birth and the last one will take decades to attain. With proper guidance and coaching, almost anyone can gain this state of enlightenment that they thought possible only in a small number of select others.
    It took me over 3 decades to achieve optimal empowerment and I feel it's high time I helped you attain it. Follow me on a journey to self -awareness you have never thought possible.
    Thank you for deciding to make a difference in your life and potentially those of others.