Inspirational Articles

What I have learned on my journey…so far!

What I have learned on my journey…so far!

Vitality Magazine- Conscious Living

By Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak


Over the past few months I (Gord) have been ruminating over what seems to be the speed and passage of time, this being sparked by having had just celebrated a landmark birthday. In reflecting back over my journey so far, I decided to I would commit to paper some of the things I believed I had learned about my life. This self-reflective exercise was not someone else’s theories or experience, it was things I now know to be true for me, my life and my values. They are a lived and felt sense of the reality I had somehow created and co-created throughout my increasing and surprising longevity to date. The first part of my ruminations about what I had learned so far was published in the November 2014 newsletter of Transformational Arts, which maintains an archive of previously published articles, and I invite you to visit and read our collection, the address is at the end of this article.


In watching the results of not accepting responsibility, I have learned the importance of personal responsibility, complete responsibility for our adult lives. The emphasis is on the adult because, although we could not have controlled our childhood and the forces that shaped us, we can change how we allow those influences to continue, by taking control of our adult life and no longer blaming our past for our present situations. As adults we have the right to self-determination and choice which can only occur when we no longer look to others to blame and accept the responsibility for shaping our own lives from right here and now.

I also have learned that no matter what you do or how you do it, right or wrong, someone, somewhere, will neither like nor approve of your actions. Which has led to- do whatever makes you happy- as long as neither your self nor others are in harm’s way. We are ultimately in charge of our own happiness, now that is accepting a big responsibility. That happiness occurs when we allow what is on our inside to be shared with what is on the outside. We all have a private persona and a public persona which are often at odds with one another, much like keeping our secret self locked away as it attempts to be set itself free. Peace comes when both the public and the private are in harmony. It is true laughter really is the best medicine.

How we experience Life, and for that matter anything, rests solely on our attitude towards things, and our attitude is established before an event, through our pre-judgement and thoughts. We do choose our attitude which means that with some awareness we can also choose how we want to positively experience an event.


I see how negativity zaps us of our energy making us lethargic, and withdrawn. Whether the negativity comes from our thoughts, or from outside via other people, events or media it all has an impact on our energy. I have learned that thoughts are random bits of imagery and circuitry running through our brains, most are meaningless snippets of which we pay little heed to nor do we want to. We may have an idea, a thought and discard it because we like to change our mind. Sometimes though we grab on to one of these snippets, perhaps because it is similar to a familiar life situation and the race is on as our mind fills with ideas, warnings and cautions. If we allow this process to pick up speed and circulate within us we release a series of emotional triggers including fear, irritability, and worry. We have now moved into survival mode so that every one of our senses is escalated into a heightened state of stress, and vigilant to stop any outside invaders. For many this negative thought cycle is the norm and any change to this cycle is vehemently rejected in favour of the status quo. As most of us will admit though, 90 percent of what we worry about never happens.

If we can change our minds as we are wont to do then we can change our thoughts and attitudes from negative to positive, from feeling miserable to embracing possibilities and yes, I learned it is hard work. In feeling hope we can view our self with compassion and empathy and not view our self or the world so critically. It is not easy being human. We often find ourselves in a situation that doesn’t match what we imagined it would be and are faced with reconciling our fantasy with reality. It is in having compassion for our self that we can extend compassion to others who find themselves in far less fortunate places.

Compassion is that urge to want to help others, I learned how it is a selfless act of caring where our ego and its needs are put aside and place another ahead of our self. We seek to help without regard to whether there is a payback for ourselves. True compassion seeks to act outside of our own small world.

Research studies have shown over and over that the act of helping others is very high on the list of things we do that make us feel happy. It helps us to focus on something and someone other than our own problems. The act of compassion is not sitting at home or in your office feeling sympathy, it is necessary to have empathy and a true desire to make a difference, to be of service. Many who help others in Service industries from Medical to Counseling feel they have made a contribution, that there is no doubt, but to do things for others without regard to how much you will get paid moves into the realm of true spiritual compassion.
As the Dalai Lama said: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Acts of altruism and kindness make us feel good and can spread out in a ripple effect to reach people three degrees of separation away from us.

Research has also shown that meditation and mindfulness, along with practices for deliberately cultivating empathy and compassion, can bring a wide range of benefits. Compassion training programs have proved to be effective in protecting healthcare professionals, caregivers and teachers from the effects of stress and burnout, and to enhance their ability to care for others.

Life is precious, fragile and fleeting. Any number of things from financial problems, illness to accidents can change your status quo in a heartbeat. Be mindful of the gift of Life in all people and how quickly that life can be taken from us. Live your life compassionately for both yourself and others. Every human being is on a spiritual path, whether we understand it or not, it is not for us to judge. We do not know the soul learning of others. Most do not know the soul learning of our self. A life lived in gratitude and with compassion are truly qualities that can make a life well lived.

Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are therapists and co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, and Coaching. Personal growth courses through a 10 part program “Discovering the Total Self” is registering for January 2015. The part-time Holistic Practitioner Program plus many other courses have on-going start dates. For more information or to obtain a calendar, call the College at 416-484-0454 or toll free 1-800-TAC-SELF or visit To receive our monthly e-newsletter email