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What New Year’s resolution could you make that would have an impact in ten years?
Many of us are thinking back on what happened this year but why not shake up things a little bit? Let’s take any of the emotions which we don’t often talk about and look at the year through their lens:
- What amused you this year?
- What gave you hope?
- What triggered you to forgive?
- What made you feel at peace?
- When did you feel awe?
Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You’d never wholly know you.-Marilyn Monroe
How well do you know yourself? And do you see the passage of time as an opportunity to understand yourself better?
In an attempt to feel happy we often try to get the best out of everything: the best food, drinks, presents and activities. Yet there’s also this zombie truth sneaking through our head occasionally: happiness is not necessarily when we get everything we want. How to reconcile the two? Look at your life in the last two weeks: were you the happiest when you ate exquisite Christmas meals? Received the newest presents? These are not rhetorical questions. Maybe that’s precisely when you felt the most happy. If so how long does this happiness last? Were you also feeling happy when you were eating the left overs? Or when you were just walking to the bus stop for no particular reason at all?
Many of us will be enjoying the presence of family, good food and holiday themed music and decoration in the next two days. In the midst of all the preparation and the unusual proximity it’s easy to become stressed out. If we embrace that reaction inside ourselves we might free some space, that would otherwise be used to battle our stress, to actually enjoy what’s happening: the candle light, how each delicious bite tastes (no need to rush, there’s enough) and the singing.
Merry Christmas to all of you.
Negativity is often in your face or gut. The good stuff is more subtle and when good changes happen, they often happen in subtle ways, like how the sky changes from moment to moment but so gradually that it’s hard to believe, things haven’t always been like this. So it’s not just about creating positive things, it’s about training our vision to see shades of colour we usually don’t pay attention to.
We all have an in-built bias towards information that confirms our view of the world. Yet strong opinions with which we are not familiar with help us to progress because it makes us ask questions we have never asked. Our brain does not want to do this usually, as it’s all about saving energy. Just reading the opposite of what you believe will not do the trick, as you have probably rehearsed some arguments before. It’s really about the stuff that’s just left and right from what makes you feel uncomfortable.
There is this fear that if we pay more attention to our strengths we will get lazy, rest on our laurels and stop growing.
Apart from the fact that strengths make us feel so good that we want to expand without prodding from the outside even if that is not the case try doing something you do well without expanding. Boredom will set in soon enough and with it the motivation to grow. We don’t have to beat ourselves up to grow or constantly run.
When we actually rest on our laurels too long it becomes boring and that is a blessing. If we never rest on them it’s very hard to ever feel satisfied with what we have achieved. So let boredom help you guide the way.
Language makes us believe that we are either ‘open’ or not. Yet openness, like most other things, is better understood as a continuum than a yes-or-no-quality.
Completely closed off = I don’t want to know anything or listen to anyone when it comes to this topic
Closed off = I will only listen if it confirms everything I already believe
Tolerant = I will listen to what you have to say, but I have no real intention of changing myself and the best I can do for you is to not say anything bad about you.
Open = I will listen and then try to make an analysis that is as objective as possible pointing out the good and the bad.
Appreciative = I will listen patiently because I truly want to learn something and change how I relate to the subject and I believe you can help me. The ideas I don’t like I will simply box away for the moment.
Loving = I am absolutely convinced that you have love and light to offer even if I don’t understand your point of view or you are unable to articulate it.
This is not just the case for openness but other qualities such as forgiveness or gratitude as well. How open are you with whom and in what situation?
The Olympian athlete trains before the competition. The fire-fighter before the fire happens. But when it comes to psychology most have it backwards: we ignore it until we’re in the middle of whatever mayhem makes us wish we had better psychological fitness. The body and mind are absolutely the same in this respect. So if you’re feeling good start training now. If you just got out of a crisis: start training now. If you’re in the middle of a battle: have patience with yourself.
The big epiphanies of our lives often sound really obvious. But we need to arrive at them in our own time and very often through our own experience. No need to compare ourselves to others. They were dealt different cards.
We are obsessed with making things compact so that we can do as many things as possible. That’s why titles such as ’10 day diet’ or ‘5 min workout’ sell so well. But what about the things that are so enjoyable that you don’t want anything more efficient?
There’s research that says you can get lots of the health benefits of long distance running when you train right for 20 min. I have zero interest. I love being outside and I love the feeling of knowing ‘you just did a 10K’.
Never seen the movie The Help despite the fact that it’s my favourite audiobook in the world. Even if it’s superb why would I spend only two hours in that world when I can stretch the fun to 17 hours?
Look for the things you don’t want to shorten or find some kind of hack and do more of it.
Today think about the people, animals, plants and other things that are better off because you exist.
On days like these when I am not entirely sure what to write my autopilot steers me towards the news sites. Maybe you will find inspiration there. No my dear autopilot, I don’t think I have ever had an idea for a morning blog post based on the news. That’s you, wanting to save energy, by shifting from writing to distraction.
Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk turned worldly meditation teacher, encourages his students to repeat the techniques they learned in previous sessions. He points out that actually there’s no such thing as repetition because through practice our minds change and we evolve. So therefore why not revisit material more often?
What idea, goal or quote is helpful in so many situations that you should keep it in your wallet or stick it to your screen?
For work at the company mine is ‘you are looking for logic in all the wrong places baby’.
My parents’ mind was set: my name was to be Carolina. Nothing wrong with the name but it would have been a totally wrong name for me my mum concedes now. Then destiny intervened: one day my mum was passing by some playground and with the thickest of Swiss accents some unknown person I will eternally be grateful to shouted Kkkaaaroliiiiiiiiinaaaaaaaaa . In that instant my mum understood that that’s what it would sound like, when others would call me. And she changed her mind.
Some days we might find it hard to be grateful for something that happened. Why not be grateful for something that did not happen?
What do you like about the holiday season? If don’t like anything what could you start liking? There’s a lot of beauty in anticipation and ritual and the time around Christmas is perfect. I get lots of joy out of:
- street choirs and cool Christmas concerts
- mulled wine
- rich smells emanating from the Christmas markets
- watching some of the same movies every year
- baking cookies with my Godmother
If you want to accomplish anything that is not mainstream such as to become self-employed or dare to start a cool side-project some people will always feel like it’s their job to drag your deluded ass back to earth. They will inform you about things such as ‘you don’t understand, it’s hard’ or scare you into seeing their point of view (‘I know self-employed people who haven’t had a vacation for 7 years. But they are successful.’ Err, no, not having a vacation for 7 years is the opposite of success, but there you go.) What these people have in common is that they have gleaned their wisdom from observing others, haven’t tried it themselves (or have and failed and hence everybody else will fail) and this clearly qualifies them to lecture you. These people are annoying but they are a small price to pay for actually going after what you believe in as opposed to sitting around and telling others what to do.
To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken.