The man who wasn’t there

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”  Oscar Wilde

I don’t know about you, but some days I feel fully present. On other days, I feel as if I have somehow dissolved into the background.  

I can recognise the symptoms and also the feelings that come with it. When I am fully present, I feel in the moment; grounded; focused and alert to events and people around me. In effect alive.

When I feel dissolved, I feel disconnected from life around me; alone; weak and vulnerable. Existing from moment to moment. Reacting to the events around me. Feeling as if I am being battered by the winds and emotions of the people, events and life around me.

I am not sure what might trigger it, though I know of a couple of scenarios that can bring on the feeling. One is where I start to ruminate about the past and the future, rather than living in the present moment. Another is where I feel that I am loosing a friend or companion. That self-generated sense of impending loss can also trigger the feeling.

With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day running around your head; it is no wonder that we can all get caught up in the feelings that they generate and can get trapped in a cycle of rumination, self-think, and stress. If you sit for a while and observe people, you can almost see the patterns of thought criss-cross their face. We all have the ability to take a thought and travel a journey into an imaginational thought journey. Something similar the following:-

“If I do this, then, that will happen”.

“Having done that, then so and so will be affected.”

So and so will feel angry / sad / hurt / afraid and….”

“…. and I will feel I should never have done this in the first place”

It is hard to describe explicitly, but hopefully you get the meaning.

Sometimes I do feel as if I am “The man who wasn’t there”.

What does this mean to me? Caught. Trapped in my thoughts and their associated feelings. a cycle of rumination. Thoughts going round and round, self-triggering physical feelings of fear. Yes, a physical sensation that pervades me. And don’t forget, this is just thought that is doing it. Nothing physical, like a physical shock or the sight of an accident. Just the thoughts in my head. Creating an imaginary world.

So what can I do to stop feeling as if I am “The man who wasn’t there”?

We can not escape our thoughts or stop them completely. What we can do though is we can try to dampen them. Some use drugs. Some use alcohol. Some use the adrenaline of sport or adventure.  Some try to fill themselves with the mundane of life.

There is an alternative, though. That is to try to recognise and accept them for what they really are. Imaginary thoughts. Thoughts of fantasy. Illusion. That is what Mindfulness teaches you and that is what I use.

I try to practice every day. Moment by moment. However, I have to admit it does not always work.

Last Friday, for example, was a challenge. The announcement in the morning of the UK leaving the Euro Zone [called the Brexit referrendum] and the ramifications; the prospect of a friend not being around for a long time and a series of time bound activities at work, all came together in one moment. It caught me completely unawares. I was I caught up in it for a moment. Then, having recognised it. I Held it and breathed into it. Recognising that the thoughts were just thoughts. Nothing more. It took a couple of minutes for me to turn myself around but I did.

I am not going to claim that Mindfulness is a cure all. Rather for me, it has certainly helped me over the past two years. What do you use to help you? If you want to know more about Mindfulness, do get in touch.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”  Oscar Wilde

The power of habit

“1 in 5 people have dandruff. 1 in 4 people have mental health problems. I’ve had both.” Ruby Wax


When I get the opportunity to meet someone who is a keen advocate of Mindfulness and who is also a personality, I jump at the chance. Last week, Ruby Wax gave a talk at an Action for Happiness event in London. She was promoting her new book “A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled.”

Ruby, in case you are not aware, has suffered from depression all of her life. As she shared during the evening, her quest has been to find ways to minimise the impact of depression and also to lengthen the interval between the depressive episodes. As the quote at the start of this article describes, 1 in 4 people have mental health problems and the number of people with issues continues to rise.

Approximately seven years ago, Ruby came across Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy or MBCT. The programme was created and is run by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, by Doctor Mark Williams (the person who wrote the book, Finding peace in a frantic world, which introduced me to Mindfulness). Ruby graduated with a Masters degree in MBCT and has been practising Mindfulness every day ever since.

Ruby went on to talk about how “frazzled” we are. Thousands of years ago, we were more present, living in the here and now. Our focus then was hunting, gathering food and looking after our loved ones. Our current world is made up of so much more and is predominated by our thoughts and perceptions of the past, the present and also the future. We ruminate and continually go back over thongs, creating a negative spiral that can lead to anxiety, fear, worry and ultimately depression.

Depression is often kept going, from one moment to the next, by streams of negative thoughts going through the mind (such as “My life is a mess,” “What’s wrong with me?” “I don’t think I can go on”).

Redirecting attention away from these ruminative thought streams by becoming really aware of what we’re doing while we’re doing it can “starve” the thought streams of the attention they need to keep going. That way, we “pull the plug” on what is keeping us depressed, and our mood can begin to improve. That is what Mindfulness does. And that is how Ruby uses it every day.

One of the points that Ruby raised during the evening that made a real impression on me was:-

“If you repeat your thoughts, they become an action. If you repeat an action, it becomes a habit. A repeated habit creates a fixed persona. A fixed persona becomes your destiny.”

You have to ask yourself if we can create a physical habit – be it smoking, drinking, or driving for example – how long does it take to create a mental habit?

The time and the effort are exactly the same.

Mindfulness can help break the negative mind habit.

Both the MBCT Mindfulness programme Ruby was talking about, or the MBSR Mindfulness programme that I followed, is approximately eight weeks in duration. 56 days in total and you can start to say you have developed a mindful habit. In fact, modern scientific research seems to indicate that it takes about 66 days for a habit to stick. [Check out the following link for the scientific stuff –].

In mindfulness, we pay attention to our experience rather than being lost in it. This means that over time we develop a different relationship to difficult experiences. In particular, we can see negative and / or depressive thoughts for what they really are – just patterns in the mind, arising and passing away, rather than “the truth” about what kind of person I am, or how the future will be. In that way, we weaken the power of these thoughts to drag our mood down further and keep us trapped in the rumination and depressive cycle.

And, of course, getting into the habit of knowing what we’re doing as we’re doing it allows us to know more clearly what we are thinking and feeling in any moment. In that way, we put ourselves in a better position to deal promptly and effectively with issues that may arise.

Ruby’s honesty and humour made a real impression. And the results for her have been amazing. She has gone from a previous depressive episode lasting 3 months, to the last one only lasting 3 weeks. In addition, she was able to prepare better when she realised the depressive episode was approaching and the dive into the depressive episode was less deep.

I rarely recommend books but I would recommend hers.

I leave you with the following quote:

“I’ll say it again – mental illness is a physical illness. You wouldn’t consider going up to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s to yell, “Come on, get with it, you remember where you left your keys?” Let us shout it from the rooftops until everyone gets the message; depression has nothing to do with having a bad day or being sad, it’s a killer if not taken seriously.”

Ruby Wax

What you see and hear isn’t always what it seems

Our prisons are other people’s eyes; our cages are their thoughts. – Ruby Wax, from her autobiography, How do you want me?

The world revolves around the events and the interactions that we all participate in. We create our own world inside of us; recreating and reinforcing our thoughts and perceptions, moment by moment, every day of our lives.

Our challenge to ourselves is that we are biologically and mentally stimulated by the negative as well as the positive. Unfortunately, we have a natural born tendency to think more negative thoughts than positive ones. In fact, it is a 9:1 ratio. Yes, we have nine negative thoughts for every positive one. When you consider that the average person will have upwards of 70,000 thoughts per day; that means you are whacking yourself with upwards of 63,000 negative thoughts and only 7,000 positive ones.  

We reinforce this from a cultural perspective. Think of the news you might have seen or heard or read today. How many articles were positive? Uplifting? That made you feel that the world was a great place to be? Advertising does the same, but in a more subtle manner. ‘You can change and become this’. ‘Better, faster, cheaper’ A consumption led idea of tomorrow that is going to be different and positive, rather than recognising for most of us, what we have now is sufficient and in many cases what we want.

It’s no wonder then that our internal dialogue is so negative and we can suffer from depression.

We all go through the rollercoaster of emotions – in relationships, in friendships, at work, or even when we play. If you are not careful you can end up in a negative spiral, where you feel completely out of control and not able to deal with any situation. That level of negativity can be terrible to experience and can be equally horrible to see someone else go through. Your instinctive reaction is to reach out to them. To try to help them. You may even offer words of support or guidance. Don’t.

It is a painful lesson to learn. Our perceptions of others are not the reality that they feel.

Words expressed by yourself to say one thing can so easily be picked up in a completely different manner by others. Your offer of support can actually be regarded negatively. You think you are being helpful when in fact you may be reinforcing negative thoughts in the other person. It is so hard to not step in. Harder still if you feel that you can help.

What advice can I give when you are faced with such a situation?

When I am faced with these situations, it takes a real effort on my part to try to stay positive and not to jump in with advice and offers of help. To remain calm. To remain focused on the other person and not let my own thoughts and perceptions take over. Sometimes a walk and some “self-talking” helps. Be careful though you don’t get noticed walking the streets talking to yourself. You could be considered one of the “special” people!

My mindfulness practice really comes into its own as well. The compassionate practice is one of my favorites and helps to centre yourself both in the present moment and allow you realise that the thoughts you are experiencing are only transient, not permanent. If nothing else, being able to feel calm. The practice uses the mantra of:

“May xx be safe and free from suffering”

“May xx be happy and healthy”

“May xx have ease of being”

The first time you internalise the words, the xx, is “May I…”. The second time you internalise the words, the “xx” is the name of the person who is suffering. Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

What do you do when you are faced with the situation? Suggestions always welcome.

I leave you with the following quote. With kind wishes to my brother…. As his most recent blog post prompted the title of mine.

“Stop judging long enough to understand that what you see and hear isn’t always what it seems.” – Julian Summerhayes


You can check out Julian’s post at:

The cynical view of Mindfulness

“Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?

Lord Darlington: A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

Much of the recent press coverage on Mindfulness has been overwhelmingly positive; where the benefits both to the individual, as well as to the wider community are widely highlighted. However, there is an element within the press that appears to be cynical about the benefits. Comments such as “it is just another self-help fad and will fade” or “it is being used in the business world as another load of executive bull”, are just a couple of examples I picked up on.

In some respects, Mindfulness and the practices that support it – both the formal meditation, as well as the informal, in the present moment focus – is not a universal panacea for all of the ills of people. Some people believe that it will cure their depression; or will stop them feeling so angry; or will make them a happy person. In business, it is being touted as a way to make the employee more productive and to get managers to be more focused on the work itself.

Mindfulness, of itself, is not designed to fix all these issues. There are many different forms and practices of Mindfulness meditation. Almost too many to describe. These include such practices as Breathing meditations. Body scan meditations. Sitting meditations. Sound. Thought. Light. Loving-kindness. Even walking meditations. The focus for all of these is being aware, in the present moment and recognizing the thoughts and feelings as they arise.

Then there are different types of programs you can follow. The two most common are MBCT and MBSR. MBCT, or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is used in support of treating people with mental health issues, especially depression. MBSR, or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is used to help people “de-stress” and become more focused.

And just like food, people will prefer one type of meditation to another. Some people prefer to be in groups. Some prefer to be on their own. Some, prefer to practice in complete silence. Some prefer guided practice, where you follow instructions. Some, prefer to practice in the morning or in the evening. I know someone who can only afford the time to do it in their lunch hour at work.  

I have my own preferences and have my own preferred style of practice. It works for me, but equally, might not work for you.

The beauty is, nothing is wrong. All are equally valid.

The point is this, the practice itself. And just like any activity in life, it takes time, patience and the desire to create a long-term habitual change, that makes the difference. So if you have started practicing mindfulness and are finding it hard going. Or if you have tried it and given up, don’t despair. Instead, contact someone you know that practices Mindfulness on a regular basis. Or possibly, join a group session in your local area. Feel free to contact me for some help if you would like.

Finally, apologies for the small break in articles. I took some time off for Easter to recharge and reflect. Oh, and I spent quite a bit of time reading some great books.Or as I call them “brain food”.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde


The four constituents of Well-Being you can change


“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.”  

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Achieving well-being has been the concern of philosophers since Aristotle, and is, in many respects the essence of human existence. In recent years, well-being  has come to the fore and there has been much research on the roots of well-being.

I have heard a number of talks on well-being and one of the most recent was as part of a talk given by His holiness the Dalai Lama. The host was Richard J. Davidson. He is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder and Chair of the Center for Healthy Minds, at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His is the chap that measured Matthieu Ricard’s brain and was able to prove that Mathieu is one of the happiest men in the world.

Anyway, Richard has identified four, scientifically and well-researched constituents of well-being. There maybe others but these have been well researched. There is the concept that we can take more responsibility to develop these constituents and thereby, further develop and improve our own levels of well-being. Since our brains are structured in a way that allows for neural plasticity, it means that we can develop skills and techniques to strengthen these constituents. The four constituents are:


  • The first is called Resilience. It is defined as “the rapidity that we recover from adversity” that defines resilience. The faster that you are able to recover from an adverse situation or event, the more resilient you are. Mindfulness meditation helps in this area as it helps to build resilience to adverse situations and helps you recover more quickly. The only downside is that it takes about 6,000 hours before the neural pathways in the brain change.


  • The second is called Positive Outlook. The idea is about seeing the positive in situations, in other people and in life’s events. The  supportive and forward looking. People with this element have lower levels of stress and may actually have better physical levels of non-stress in their lives. Loving Kindness and Compassionate mindfulness meditation are the key ways to do this. However, unlike resilience which takes time, using loving kindness meditation practices can rapidly change the neural pathways in the brain. How quickly? Only seven hours or about two weeks are sufficient to make the change.


  • The third is Attention or a Focused Mind. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. On average, about 47% of an adult’s time is spent with a wandering mind. The ability to bring your mind back into focus is critical. Being present with another person, intently listening. Learning to pay attention to the present moment and to accept what happened in the present moment is critical in this area. Being more contemplative helps in this area. When was the last time you too time out to just sit and be? Sunday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and it was warm outside. I just sat in the garden and appreciated the day.


  • The fourth is the most important. It is Generosity. This is the one that drives everything else. This is not just about money and giving to charity. It is more about altruistic generosity. Here are a few tips to help in this area as well.
  1. Get connected: Feeling connected to other people, even by just reading words like “community” and “relationship”, makes us more altruistic.
  2. Get personal: We’re more altruistic when we see people as individuals, not abstract statistics. So if you want to encourage aid to people in need, give their problem a human face.
  3. See yourself in others: In general, people are much more likely to help members of their own group. Finding a thread of similarity with someone else, even something as simple as liking the same sport or team, can motivate altruistic action toward that person.
  4. Give thanks: Grateful people are more generous, perhaps because they’re paying forward the gifts they appreciate receiving from others. Receiving gratitude can also encourage altruism.
  5. Lead by example: People who constantly display altruism encourage others to follow suit.
  6. Put people in a good mood: Happy people are more likely to be generous.
  7. Finally, fight inequality.


The conclusion is that Well-being is a skill that you, me, or anyone can learn and develop.

To watch a talk on the four elements of well-being, go to:

To watch the talk given by His holiness the Dalai Lama, go to:
I leave you with the following quote:

“There are many aspects to success; material wealth is only one component. …But success also includes good health, energy and enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind.”

Deepak Chopra

Kindness, Resilience and Mindfulness

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine……….  ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

At work, we recently ran whole organisation management meeting day. I am not sure if you do these in your place of work, but in ours, we have a day where we bring together all of the managers, supervisors and team leads from across the division, to share key messages and also help develop and share common programmes of activity across all the teams. Our theme was all around leadership and employee engagement.

We try to get external speakers along to these events. It makes them more interesting and also, helps to provide a different perspective on the day. FOr our event, we invited Dr Risk Norris, who is a visiting Consultant Psychologist at a Hospital in the Midlands where he counsels clients suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. He has also written a book on positive thinking Think Yourself Happy – the simple 6-step programme to change your life from within. So my interest, both work-related, as well as from a counselling perspective was peeked.

Hs talk was around leadership and he introduced the results of a Gallup survey on “Productive Culture at Work”. The top ten items people rated were listed and he asked us to choose the single most important one, that most people rated, above everything else. The list is below. Take a moment and you choose.

The Gallup “Productive Culture Survey”,

  1. know what is expected of me at work
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work well
  3. At work, my manager gives me the opportunity to do what I do best everyday
  4. I receive recognition or praise for good work from my manager
  5. My manager seems to care about me as a person
  6. My manager encourages my development
  7. At work, my manager takes my opinions into account
  8. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work
  9. I talk with my manager about my progress
  10. My manager gives me opportunities to learn and develop


Did you choose one?

Now, you might be surprised, or not; that THE most important aspect that people rated was……. drum roll, please………………………



Number 5. My manager seems to care about me as a person.



The idea of caring for someone else. Not the artificial “have a great day” variety. But genuine, honest kindness in another human being. Something that is at the heart of the Loving Kindness meditation practice that I practice. Caring for your colleagues at work has long been discussed, but few managers actually engage with their staff and care. I checked out the latest global engagement survey results from Gallup and they make for really sad reading. Check them out below.

Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 2013 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace. In other words, about only one in eight workers, are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. Even if you read the latest UK reports, employee engagement is in the low 30% mark in the UK.

This means, that for most people, 70% or more, feel disengaged at work. Work, that is the greatest part of their lives. No wonder, stress, depression and loneliness are on the increase. You can talk about employee engagement programmes. You can send managers on training courses and retreats. However, it is the everyday acts of kindness that we show to each other that make the difference. Genuine, honest individual acts of kindness.


The question is, is the ability to stay focused on the present moment in a non-judgmental way a powerful catalyst for resilience? New research from India points to a partial answer: Mindfulness breeds resilience.

That’s the conclusion of researchers Badri Bajaj and Neerja Pande. Writing in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, they confirm that psychological resilience is more pronounced in mindful people. The researchers also provide evidence that this highly useful quality produces many of the practice’s much-touted benefits.

They describe a study featuring 327 undergraduates (236 men and 91 women). The students completed a series of surveys measuring their mindfulness, life satisfaction, emotional state, and level of resilience—the ability to cope in difficult situations, and bounce back from adversity.

Mindfulness—or a lack thereof—was measured by their responses to 15 assertions, such as “I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.” To gauge their resilience, participants were presented with 10 self-descriptive statements, including “able to adapt to change,” “can stay focused under pressure,” and are “not easily discouraged by failure.” They responded to each on a five-point scale (“not at all” to “true nearly all of the time”).

As predicted, the researchers found “individuals with higher mindfulness have greater resilience, thereby increasing their life satisfaction.” “Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down (emotionally),” they write. “Pausing and observing the mind may (help us) resist getting drawn into wallowing in a setback.”

Put another way, mindfulness “weakens the chain of associations that keep people obsessing about” their problems or failures, which increases the likelihood they will try again. in addition, mindfulness also promotes self-compassion, which leads to higher levels of happiness.

I leave you with the following quote……. it is the second half of the quote that started this article.

…….. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


How you can forgive Yourself and Other People

““The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections

One of the biggest issues we have, at work, in our social interactions and personal lives, it the ability to forgive and move on. Too often, people bring up issues and commentary about people that is generally conjecture and opinioned. We also individually beat ourselves up constantly when we fail to do something; when we fail to achieve a goal;, when we have failed in our own personal expectations or when we believe we have failed to meet someone else’s perceived  expectations.

Part of living a balanced life, I think, is the ability to forgive. Not necessarily forget, but our ability to forgive ourselves and others for a perceived transgression. For some people, forgiveness is a foreign land, never to be visited, shunned and avoided. They carry the hurt and issues like a snail carries its shell, permanent and unyielding. What then tends to happen is that the hurt and issues become so embedded, that they affect how the person thinks and feels and acts. More negative, less trusting, quicker to anger, quicker to resent, etc, etc. You may agree, or you may not.

I have always sought to forgive and move on. At times it has been difficult, but since taking up mindfulness, there is one of the meditations that is taught in the eight-week Mindfulness Stress Reduction program, the Befriending Meditation, that can really help you.

It is also known as the Forgiveness meditation. This is one of THE most powerful practices available. Having practiced it regularly, I can feel the difference in my normal day-2-day activities and the engagement that I have with people. I am less self-critical; more open; honest; forgiving and engaging. People have reacted to the change in me, by becoming more open, honest and engaging themselves. At work, when an issue arises, rather than seek to do the “blame game” on someone, I seek to understand what the issues was, what caused it and how to prevent it in the future. People feel more trusted and self-aware of their actions. In fact, the number of issues has fallen as a result.

So what is the Befriending Meditation? This is focused on helping you‘… bring kindness back into your life – kindness not just for others but for yourself too.’ This is where you are guided through the concept of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Once you have started to move along that path, you extend it to your loved ones, your family, etc.

The meditation focuses on these three key phrases as a gateway into a deep sense of  friendliness towards yourself:

May I be safe and free from suffering

May I be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May I have ease of being

It is about repeating these slowly and silently in your mind. The analogy is further extended by imagining dropping a pebble down a deep well and listening for the ‘sound’ as it hits the water.  Being aware of any thoughts. Feelings. Or physical body sensations.

You are then encouraged to extend the phrase to holding a person, or even a pet, in mind who in the present or past loved you unconditionally. At this point, I think of our dogs and specifically Mitzie. She is always running up to me and giving me licks and showing complete unconditional love, even when there is no food involved!  Though if there is food, she goes nuts.

You are then asked to repeat the phrases while holding a loved one in mind and wishing them well.

May they be safe and free from suffering

May they be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May they have ease of being

Next a stranger or someone you see regularly, perhaps on a bus, or at work, but you didn’t know their name.

May they be safe and free from suffering

May they be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May they have ease of being

Next, and this is where is can become harder, extend to someone whom you have found difficult at the moment. Perhaps a member of the family or someone at work. For a lot of people, it is very difficult to remain calm, but with this practices, it leads you to it slowly and you feel in control.

May they be safe and free from suffering

May they be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May they have ease of being

Finally, to close you extend loving kindness to all living beings on the planet, including yourself. That is the rhythm and approach. I would suggest you give it a try. It is amazing what you might feel.

May all be safe and free from suffering

May all be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May all have ease of being

If you have specific ways that you practice or ways you have developed, feel free to share.

The specific Befriending Meditation for you to listen to, can be found at:


I leave you with the following quote:

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience