|« Mar||May »|
I am often surprised at the random comments and events that people remember about our time together. Today let’s just sit back and acknowledge that we have no control over the bits and pieces will remember. The only thing we can influence is that we treat them over and over again the way we want them to feel.
The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.-e. e. cummings
We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.-Mother Teresa
Change needs space and time to unfold. This space is not filled with activities but is designed to have insights bump into each other and fuse. Time spent reflecting 10-15 min each day is more helpful than 10-15 min of additional work. For this to happen we have to accept that we will not have great insights each time we do this. We have to accept that these insights might happen at completely different times but that the space and reflection is needed nevertheless. We also have to let go of control, of this notion that everything happens in a linear fashion and instead trust that something good will happen, even if we don’t yet know any details about it.
The author Paulo Coelho doesn’t believe in taking notes for his books. He believes that you should live and what you remember, that is the stuff that is truly important. Everything else just falls away.
Your municipality has a mechanism to get rid of excess water and other dirt. Your body absorbs what it needs and removes everything else daily. How often do you do this mentally? What routine can you put in place so that the crap of the day doesn’t block everything else?
I wish this morning I had just written my daily blog post no matter how early it was. The reason is that now my resistance can take me hostage. It knows I want to go to sleep. So this is to remind me and remind you: if you do something then when you are supposed to do it it is usually easier than if you try to squeeze it in later.
Let’s distinguish between negativity that tells us that something is wrong that needs to be addressed and thoughtless habitual and totally avoidable negativity. When it comes to valid negativity this can be addressed through empathy, kindness, compassion and acceptance. Bullshit negativity on the other hand has to be reduced, excluded, eliminated and challenged if we want to be happier and make space for more meaning.
Teenagers talk to each other for the heck of being together and having fun. Then we get out of the habit and fall into functional communication: we talk mainly to get things done. Today let’s focus on talking more connection and less function.
When we are trying not to do something we come up with all the reasons why we shouldn’t do it. Somehow that makes it more appealing. What if we ask ‘how will this co-exist with my goal to be generous?’
Sometimes we take comfort in how easy and simple things are. We remind ourselves to zoom in on what matters and that brings us relief. Yet sometimes simplicity causes us to lose the nuance, to incarcerate ourselves in a black and white world. In those cases reminding ourselves how rich and complex a topic is can give us equal comfort, knowing that we might have been too myopic and that there’s more to the story. Comfort is not one or the other but the skillful switching between these two extremes.
If we can’t see the trees for the forest one reason is that our time frame is so very narrow, that it’s hard to distinguish between what is urgent and what is important. Pausing and asking ‘how does this matter in three months?’ can give us some much needed perspective.
Sympathy is more likely to cause than to heal shame.
Sympathy communicates that someone else is poor or a screw-up or affected by really bad decision making in a way that the other is not. Compassion on the other hand makes us equal since we connect to our own hurt and mistakes emotionally without feeling superior.
We are often worried about the bad things that other people might be thinking about us. Rest assured that people have nice thoughts of you that you don’t know about. If you don’t believe it think about whether you tell people every time they come to mind or compliment them for every good deed. You don’t and neither does everyone else.
There’s a lot of talk about abstract things such as values, beliefs or passions. While people enjoy learning and discussing these abstract concepts it can be hard to apply to real life. If we want to grow in the direction of our goals and values we have to fill them with life. This means that we understand in the moment that the email we are writing, the phone call we are making, the dish we are cooking and conversation we are having could be had in many different ways but that we choose the one most consistent with our goals.
Every time we blame we miss an opportunity to show empathy.
I just read this comment: ‘I am afraid Africa is a lost continent.’ It’s understandable to despair about people, a company, a country or even an entire continent. If you feel that way about anything chances are you are not getting the whole story. You are fed the worst bits and keep thinking and revisiting them. As the idea that someone or something is lost enters your mind you are responsible of whether you want to keep that thought alive or not. I would give in to my fear that Africa is a lost continent if that resignation would create any kind of positive change in someone. But it doesn’t. All it does is breed helplessness and strengthen the status quo.
The harder but ultimately more rewarding path is asking ‘what am I not seeing? What resources are there that nobody is talking about? How are people dealing with the challenges? What are the actual statistics over a period of 30 or 40 years? Have they solved similar challenges in the past? How?’
Sometimes the you have to gather more facts than the pessimist to become an informed optimist. This isn’t just true for Africa but for anything we feel hopeless about.
If we keep doing something long enough there will be days when nothing gets done whatsoever. It feels like the brain is curiously disconnected from everything else. In those cases let’s take comfort that tomorrow we can set the reset button and start afresh…
When we struggle with depression or helplessness it can be hard to come up with three good things or what we are grateful for. The reason is that our brain supplies us with information and memories which match our current feeling state: if you are happy it’s not that easy to come up with sad memories and vice versa. So if you are having a hard day, week or month and you want to move forward a way out of despair can be to look for the less shitty, the marginally better and collect and appreciate that. As we feel slightly better our efforts to come up with 3 good things or our gratitudes should become easier.
If you want to achieve something that you can’t get done in the safe confines of a traditional job you might need others to support you. This is often called ‘finding your tribe’. When looking for a tribe people usually connect to people with the same interests. If you just want to chat about how things are going that is great. If you actually hope to achieve something together the people around you should match your ambition. Often we first turn to our loved ones but chances are they don’t have the same goals and ambition as you do. That can be difficult to come to terms with but ultimately we all need very different kinds of people around us.