Art by Melody Khachikian
Articles by Berjik Kurkjian
Translation from Farsi into English by Karine Armen
No. 11 Communication
Human beings have the privilege of talking and expressing their thoughts and emotions. Animals do not have this gift. They have feelings, yet they can not talk. The ability to talk and listen is a great blessing that many people take for granted.
We are born with many talents that stay untapped and not stimulated. Kids listen for a while before they can speak. They use the vocabulary that they hear at home and in their environment. Therefore, we need to be good role models and use positive thinking. How we talk will be transferred to our kids and the next generation. We need to learn how to be good listeners, to be patient, and to speak in a timely manner.
We need to let the kids talk and express their thoughts. In many cultures, people don’t allow children to express their opinions about different issues. “You are still too young to talk.” they are told when they ask questions out of curiosity. Kids get confused about when and how to ask questions. They learn to suppress their curiosity and not talk at all. Later, as adults, they feel anxious about speaking in public and expressing their opinions.
For our inner peace, it is essential to learn to talk positively and be a good listener.
September 19, 1987
No.12 Choice of Words
The choice of words and use of vocabulary in our daily lives can affect poor mental health.
Certain words can change us from feeling happy to having a sad state of mind. Negative sentences and negative words can create negative thoughts and, in turn, sad emotions.
One of the mood-destructing words is “difficult.” We say, “My job is difficult,” or,
“Life is so difficult.” We use these words not with awareness but out of habit.
Knowing how the choice of words can affect us can help us be in control and
change our attitude toward work and life.
Children learn negative attitudes and repeat our sentences as well as the manner in which we talk.
They grow up with pessimism and avoiding difficulty.
We look at daily chores differently and enjoy the benefits of living in a clean home with clean clothes.
Instead of nagging about the problems of parenthood, we can enjoy our kids and their childhood.
When we change our attitude towards life’s difficulties and problems,
we can be good role models for kids. They will grow up with optimism.
September 26, 1987
No. 13 “I don’t feel like it.”
“I don’t feel like it” is a typical expression used in our lives.
Sometimes, we give negative energy to people we deal with by saying,
“Oh, you have energy for that,” or, “I don’t have energy for that kind of stuff.”
We kill their excitement and enthusiasm. Using these kinds of expressions is habitual,
and many of us are not aware of its effect on our mental and physical well-being.
Suddenly, we realize we have less energy. We need enthusiasm for our daily
tasks and chores to continue life happily. Let’s look at the reason we use these negative expressions.
In the past, people were very superstitious and believed in bad-eye karma. If they were always successful, others would find bad karma. Many of us are still victims of these superstitions and always look sad and angry. Somebody has to change this. We need to be positive role models by sharing our happy
moments and accomplishments. If we all focus on sharing our happiness, we will have a better and healthier society. By freeing ourselves from superstition and negativity, we will get more energy. Remember, we cannot buy energy; we need to create it. Instead of saying, “I don’t feel like it,” we can say, “I am not ready now,” or, “I don’t have time now.” Then, we can plan our time and be more organized instead of relying on our mood to finish projects and work.Let’s be aware of our choice of words. Let’s create a positive language for us and the future generations.
October 3, 1987
No. 14 Gratitude
Having a sense of gratitude and gratitude and appreciation for our blessings is one of our healthy feelings.
Despite having health, beauty, and good families, many of us feel dissatisfied with our lives. Our friends or neighbors have happier lives. We are not able to appreciate all the blessings we already have. It is a habit not to feel satisfied. It’s a learned behavior that can be changed. Our emotions are connected to each other like a chain.
Here is a technique (suggestion) to use for feeling thankful for our blessings. As soon as you sense dissatisfaction and frustration, jot down the positive factors of your life in a journal or paper. Write down both good and bad parts and compare them.
This way, you will see all the amazing good things in your life that you might have been taking for granted or had forgotten. This exercise will bring them to your attention.
You will then be energized and can handle difficulties with a sense of control and enthusiasm.
You might say, “Who has time for all these activities?” but remember, by spending a few minutes to bring the positive up, you can save lots of time that was wasted on negative thoughts and feelings of being drained.
October 10, 1987
No. 15 Hope, the Inner Light
Hope is also known as inner light. Hope’s source is our inner Positive and Negative Channels. The two Positive and Negative Channels always function and are directly related to our thoughts. Knowing this, we can improve our positive thinking process and feel happy and energized.
Let’s see how we can improve our positive and be hopeful. We lose hope every time we are faced with little disappointments and letdowns. First of all, we need to distinguish between reality and an ideal. We have to be realistic and set realistic goals. When our expectations are not realistic, we get angry and start blaming bad luck or fall into negative, hopeless thoughts. We need to stop and say, “It was meant to be. There must be reason for this.” There is a success in each defeat. We may not see it at that moment, but later, we realize the reason our wish did not come true.
We can practice this thought process daily to fuel our hopes and not get disappointed over unimportant stuff.
October 24, 1987
Guilt and regret are related. Negative thinking is due to a lack of self-awareness. We need to recognize the roots of feeling guilty.
Many of our negative thoughts are the same put-downs that we heard in our childhood. If parents’ negativity compared us to our siblings or other kids, we felt powerless to become as good as others. This leads to fear of failure. We don’t want to do anything because we are not “as good as” others. Fear of failure changes to a feeling of incompetence and, in return, guilt.
Guilt makes us restless and angry. We project our negativity to our kids. We become overprotective and do not allow them to experience life.
We have inherited guilt from previous generations. It is a learned behavior. We can refocus our attention by recognizing its roots.
Instead of comparing ourselves and our kids to others, we can affirm them and find the good in each person.
Criticism is the base for regret and guilt. The only remedy to be free from guilt is self-awareness and self-help.
No. 17 Contradiction
We grow up listening to contradictions and hypocrisy. As kids, we are told to be kind and polite to people who do not practice it themselves.
Every day, we see people preaching what they do not practice. This creates a moral dilemma. We know it’s better to be honest and kind, and then we see people get financially ahead by not being honest.
We want to be like the dishonest person but we are not able. We feel guilty and shameful.
These contradictions and dilemmas are exaggerated when we seal them with our cultural issues and identity. We feel neither American nor Iranian. We want to keep the old culture, yet we see particular challenges. These contradictions drain our energy.
The way to deal with it is self-awareness and self-help. We need to recognize the positive and the negative, the function of each. We can not live only with daylight. We need night, too. It is best to live with a clear conscience and to preach to your own kids. Then, they will not have to deal with hypocrisy.
We can live with the good memories of the past and an optimistic image of the future. However, we need to live in the present.
November 7, 1987
No. 18 Seeking Negativity or Positivity
Sometimes, we can see all the problems and shortcomings instead of the beauty. The pessimist view vs. the optimistic.
We learn pessimism and blaming from childhood. As children, we listen to many expressions such as, “Don’t touch it,” “Shame on you,” or “Don’t interfere, you are too young to understand.” This negativity is given to us while we are forming our personality. We grow up with a habit of blaming everyone, especially ourselves. This creates a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Because this is a learned habit, it is harder to get rid of it. It makes it very difficult to see the good in things and in ourselves.
We need an inner revolution. We can improve our positive thinking and strengthen our optimism in ourselves. People need reconstruction of their inner world. Many spend more time reconstructing their outer beauty with makeup and clothing. We need and can rebuild our emotional and spiritual well-being.
We can start by counting our blessings, starting with our health, “I have legs, hands, eyes, ears,” and then make a note of the inner resources that we never use. Tap into all that potential by increasing our belief in ourselves.
Of course, we need to be careful not to be narcissistic while we are appreciating our inner resources and potential to live fulfilling lives.
We need to express and talk about our inner talents and say that these are exercises to become more self-confident. In time, this will become habitual, and we will see the good in everything instead of looking to blame and excuses.
This good habit can create an inner heaven. We will transfer this to our kids, who will be future adults.
November 14, 1987
No. 19 Smile and Laughter
Laughter is a healthy activity. It is the symbol of happiness and inner peace. We all crave to have more laughter and smiling faces. In many cultures, people look at laughter differently. Some say, “I am laughing, but my heart is sad,” or, “I am too distressed to laugh.” One of the best expressions about laughter is, “Smile, and the world will smile back.”
There are different kinds of laughter. Sometimes, we laugh at something amusing. Other times, we laugh to be polite or sarcastic. When we laugh from the bottom of our hearts, we feel content. We express our happiness through laughter. However, if we are with someone sad, our laughter can have a harmful effect.
If we are laughing and smiling because of social pressure, it is not sincere, and we do not enjoy it. Sometimes, when we are hurt by someone’s actions, we show our anger with sarcasm. Another problematic laughter is when we make fun of someone.
As I have mentioned before, we have both Positive and Negative channels. We are constantly informed by these two factors. We cannot always be happy. We need to know the elements and factors that affect our emotions. By self-awareness, we can use laughter to feel happy and not put down others' sarcasm.
I am ending this article with the quotation, “If your inner and outer self is the same, you are closer to God.” We can reach that point and see a peaceful world.
November 21, 1987
No. 20 Having Expectation
Having expectations of others is a learned habit. In our culture, emotional dependency causes us to have expectations of each other.
I am starting this article with the quotation, “Less expectation means better life.
Expectations between friends and family members can create a sense of responsibility, which is good. However, we need to consider our time and abilities so we do not feel resentment.
We will feel resentment if we do not know the reason we do favors. As soon as you do a favor for someone, do not expect a favor back. It was the right thing to do.
One destructive expectation is expecting our kids to fulfill our needs. We want them to take care of our emotional needs. We tell them that we have sacrificed our lives for them and create guilt in them.
When we do this, the value of our kindness diminishes. We become restless and sad. We grow older with resentment for spending our lives with our kids.
We need to realize that it was our choice to have kids. We need to do our job with satisfaction and not expect our children to fulfill our needs.
November 28, 1987