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When I’m not longer rapping, I want to open up an ice cream parlor and call myself Scoop Dogg.-Snoop Dogg
Something that I observe when doing strengths coaching is that people feel liberated by taking a strengths test. By seeing their strengths but also the activities which take energy away from them on paper people often take the results as permission to do what they always wanted to and reduce the activities that take energy away from them. What they tell me is that the confirmation of their strengths has this effect. So tell the people around you what they think they do best without expecting anything from them. Every once in a while you might be surprised to see that you either planted a seed or provided that last drop to make them finally prioritize something important to them.
Even if you failed miserably at every sport you ever tried you can be an athlete. For some reason our society defines athleticism within the confines of the body but you can choose to adopt the athlete’s mindset for anything you want. The world could definitely do with more kindness ninjas or marathon lovers (interpret this however you like). The athlete’s mindset is about dedication, endurance and ongoing development. In psychology lingo it’s called mastery.
For a long time humans were convinced that the entire universe revolved around them. As science debunked this notion it went on to create similar illusions itself: the idea that humans are special because we are the only ones using language, having feelings or being able to use tools. The more we learn about animals and even plants it turns out that none of this is true. Yet we somehow need to feel special. And it seems that we can only feel special if we think about what others, be it animals or other humans can’t do that we can. We want to be exceptional. Think about your definition of being exceptional. Of course it is wonderful if someone else acknowledges our abilities. While it’s nice to hear that someone thinks I am exceptional at something the only reason this is so, is that most other people do not display this quality. I would happily pay the prize of never being called exceptional again, because it would mean that we live in a world where people freely share their innermost love.
I am a self-confident human being who doesn’t need the animal kingdom to feel or think nothing so I can feel good about myself. Rather than being exceptional I like that whales can feel our emotions so clearly, that they just leave if we are giving off negative vibes or that we can let their energy influence us. Rather than being exceptional I prefer to think that each person’s or animals’ individuality is used in a way not to make them more exceptional, but to bring everybody up a level.
A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou
Have you ever thought about what you are saying when you say ‘I love you’? What do you mean? In which situations do you say it? Take a pen and write down at least 15 different situations or meanings.
People often think that not feeling enough is a personal problem to be solved. While it can be solved on a personal level instilling the feeling that we are not enough is integral to many things working the way they do: imagine if you didn’t need Loréal to tell you that you are worth it. Where would it leave them? Or how about employers keen on getting every ounce of work out of you while paying you the smallest possible amount? What would happen to them and their tactics if people knew their worth and knew what is fair and what is not? I am not saying there’s a giant conspiracy going on. However lots of companies and institutions can only work on the premise that people feel they are not good enough. If you feel good about yourself you might enjoy putting make-up on but you won’t buy every product they come up with. You might enjoy shopping without spending every weekend at the mall. So you are not alone. We are all made to feel this way. However we can decide to take back some of that power by finding other ways of feeling worthy. One way is to learn to appreciate your strengths and the strengths of others. By not owning your strengths you give others the power over you to use you through your weaknesses.
You have planted seeds in this world which haven’t bloomed just yet: seeds of love, compassion and many other kinds as well. They will bloom and you don’t have to do anything except trust the process.
It’s not new but worth remembering: whenever we put out a constant stream of work some of it will be less good than the rest. Sometimes we even know it and still it needs to be put out there. Because without the humility to fail and make mistakes it’s impossible to move forward.
When thinking about how to get better at something we most often look for ideas that we have not yet come across. What is often forgotten is the fact that the right ideas do not equal success. Among lots of other things implementing positive change is about doing things in the right sequence. Examine processes in your life. Does the sequence make sense? Sometimes it’s not a problem we can solve with our head but we need to experiment. So what kind of processes could you shake up a bit by experimenting with the sequence?
It is almost comical how schizophrenic our relationship with our ego is. On the one hand we have this lingering sense that having an ego is a bad thing and that we should really get round to getting rid of it one day. The next moment ego takes over and makes lots of decisions on our behalf.
Like anger or other modern day ‘undesirables’ we are somehow under the impression,
Today is the International Day of Happiness. How do you feel about setting aside special days to focus on something? Christmas, Thanksgiving or the International Day of Happiness. Does it help you focus? If you could set aside a day or several days a year what would you celebrate?
Off the bat I can think of a sparrow appreciation day. To me they perfectly remind us of the less obvious but nonetheless sweet kind of beauty we pass by often without acknowledging. Or what about a day for massage?
And maybe, just maybe, you can turn one of those invented days into something special for you and your family.
Every once in a while I love looking at pictures of space. Even the tiniest stars are so much bigger than whatever is bothering me. It’s extremely likely that whatever the problem is today you will not remember in three months.
Often when we want to change our behaviours we forget to make some space for the new behaviours first. Then we often fail, not because it’s not worthwhile, but because we don’t think we have time.
So if you look at everything you do everyday what takes energy away from you? What leaves you in a more negative state than you were in before? Which thoughts, habits and activities can you remove or at least reduce to make space?
Assumptions are a way of simplifying the world. They can be useful or the source of lots of unnecessary negativity. What kind of assumptions are part of your mental furniture? What happens if you rearrange or even replace some of those old thinking patterns?
- ‘I trust you’ instead of ‘you have to earn my trust’
- ‘You’re having a bad day’ instead of ‘you’re a jerk’
- ‘There is good in you’ instead of ‘are you a good person?’
Our society teaches us that this is naive. Yet how do people react when you interact like that? To me it’s more naive to hold on to unhelpful patterns than to try something different.
This doesn’t have to be some difficult or painful truth. It can be something as trivial as your current mood that you can’t really put a label on. If words fail me I like to put my music playlist and shuffle and press next until the songs that I resonate with start to play. Often through music I learn how I am feeling. A friend of mine said that’s what painting does for her. Sometimes gazes and facial expressions can convey what words can’t.
What about you? How do you express that which cannot (yet) be expressed in words?
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.-Rumi
When you look at a child or a baby animal chances are you feel love. You couldn’t feel it if it weren’t inside of you already. What if the poet Rumi had a point?
Many so called ‘primitive’ cultures saw in animals the embodiment of certain qualities. What qualities do you see in these elephants? How do you feel when you look at them? We are not limited to human role models. Animals, landscapes or even just tiny moments can contain an essence that we can connect with. What can you connect with today?
We are all very aware of how humanity is destroying nature. What we tend to forget is that we are part of it too. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to acknowledge the perfection with which natural systems work: just study a bit how your lungs or heart function biologically, the seasons or how water moves through clouds, rain and snow. There is no rush in that. Yet nature is always on time. So are we if we respect our innate rhythms.
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
So can we all become each other’s dragons if we don’t take care of our need for love?