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Who are the writers, musicians or actors you have enjoyed for a decade or more? Take some time now to think about them, enjoy their work and feel gratitude towards them. They are your personal evergreens.
At work it’s the most obvious: something goes wrong and immediately new rules are created to govern against it. The government is another obvious candidate. This not only leads to more and more rules but more and more wasted energy. Furthermore this way of responding undermines people’s sense of responsibility: if you are not allowed to learn from mistakes but have to wait like a child for new rules to be established for you, chances are you will not remain the proactive employee or citizen people apparently want.
Let’s not make the same mistake in our private lives. Let’s leave people the space to do things wrong, without establishing tighter and tighter rules.Instead we can review the lessons together.
There are many kinds of happiness: the happiness of sharing a hilarious joke, the happiness of talking or working on something you are obsessed about, the happiness of a perfectly still moment with spider webs glittering with rain drops or the happiness that comes after exercise when you can crash on the couch and enjoy it.
We need to recognize all of these and many more as happiness, not only the top 3 things that make us happy.
I was just sitting at my desk recording the podcast but I felt impatient. I was clearly not in the moment and as much as we hear about that, we have to recognize it while it’s happening to be useful. I paused the recording and did a 10 minute meditation. Drifted off all the time, even felt tired but although I couldn’t focus on my breath the way I wanted to, it was still good to catch myself rushing towards the next hour.
We know that one key to becoming happier is to change our thought patterns. To do that we need to consistently pay attention to things that are interesting, inspiring and are in line with our values. It can be hard to maintain this focus by ourselves. It’s too easy to slide right back into old patterns. Books, videos and other media which are in line with the thoughts, feelings and actions we want more of help us pay sustained attention. We should value them for that, even if they don’t contain any brand new insights.
In daily conversations people let openings go by to make a conversation more fun and playful all the time and it breaks my heart. Chances are we all have plenty opportunities to be serious all day long. Why oh why persist beyond the opening? If someone makes an outrageous statement don’t freaking research it on Google if it’s true or not. Build on the story and ask more questions to help them make it even more outrageous.
Similarly if someone is telling a story and you know the punch line swallow it. This is not the time to show how perceptive and smart you are. You can brag all night about that but don’t ruin other people’s stories.
If we pay attention to the openings and avoid doing the closings we can all have some fun together that will lighten everyone’s mood.
When I hear the word excitement I think of things like bungee jumping, parkour or diving with sharks. But in my life, as I am re-learning again right now, less sexy and Facebook-awesome stuff are exciting: taking a humour writing class, the possibility to have dinner with refugees or sticking to a training plan that is challenging.
So in your life what is the difference between theoretical and actual excitement?
If you’re anything like me you will sometimes wonder whether to exercise or enjoy doing the sweet nothing. If we invest 20-40 minutes the following hours will feel much sweeter.
What is the highest standard you are capable of today?
In our head we know that whatever hardship we are going through we are not the first human to experience it. The problem is that we a) don’t remember this when it counts and b) even if we know it in our head it’s not enough: we need our whole body to believe it. That’s why one line in a song, book or conversation can make all the difference: the recognition that the person is not only talking about themselves but captures exactly what we are going through, that is the biggest solace and pain relief. It doesn’t solve our problem but it releases us from the existential fear that we are completely alone.
The concept of sin is unpopular outside of religious circles.To me the term is loaded as well. Yet it makes a lot of sense not just to define goals but also define minimum standards for ourselves. Breaking them is not a sin because a book you don’t believe in says so but because it undermines your self-respect.
I talk a lot about ease and how we underestimate it. But does it mean that something that doesn’t come easy is the wrong goal? Not necessarily. It might mean, that we should keep looking how we approach something. When a goal and the way we go about it align with our existing patterns and resources things can be surprisingly smooth and easy. If that’s not the case we might have to consider other approaches to reach the same goal.
When it comes to advice about our inner world it can be frustratingly vague. Stuff like ‘listen to your body’ can be confusing: ‘my body is telling me to eat sugar. Does it need or just crave it?’ Or ‘I don’t feel ready. How do I know that I am ready?’ This led some people to say that you should ignore all of this because in their words ‘you will never feel ready.’ I disagree. I know exactly how it feels when I am ready for something: I stop looking for excuses. Even in situations where I could make up a plausible excuse I go through with my plan. That doesn’t mean that it will be that straightforward forever. But the moment I stop making excuses without coaxing myself to do so I am ready. What about you?
Everything you click on means that you request more of the same for the future. Whenever you click on something it communicates that that thing is able to generate attention. This is true for blog posts, porn or news about Mr. Trump.
I know every note in every song, the whole history of it, even parts that were there and are gone.-Enya
Tools such as apps generate sometimes more excitement than is warranted. It is easy to get lost in the hunt for tools and get distracted from what we are actually trying to achieve. However tools come in handy to remind us of things we want to do anyway, to track our progress and to mix things up if we have gotten into a rut. Do you have the tools in place which help you progress without distracting you from your goal?
As Woody Allen has pointed out just for dentists alone it’s great to have been born into modern times. Yet as much as I appreciate what we have built for ourselves it sometimes helps to put things into perspective: we lived for ten thousands of years without most things and were fine.
We can glean ways of approaching work in fresh ways from different jobs. Who or what would you like to emulate?
- Lots of writers write every single day a minimum number of words
- Comedians try out their material and refine it constantly
- Endurance athletes appreciate the importance of a structured training plan and make sure that they also eat, sleep and rest accordingly
- Actors employ a broad emotional spectrum (instead of being stuck in the same emotions routinely)
- Managers track performance
- Photographers perceive the physical world in a rich way
- Painters copy the masters to learn basic skills
Each of these techniques can shed some light on the way we need to work to reach our own goals.
We want to be sure that the energy and resources we invest will turn out to be a good investment. According to that logic we will never be the people who help bring anything worthy into this world because we will always wait for those signs of success. That leads to a chicken and egg problem for most creators: people would support their campaigns and buy their products if they only knew that it would make them look good.
The one place where the majority of the world deviates from this principle is when having children: we have nothing but hope and possibly faith that it will turn out okay. And with that attitude the majority of the people end up being good people. What would happen if we could adopt this mindset to support others, regardless?
We are socialized to believe that you are only supposed to do things in one way and if you can’t do it that way, we don’t consider other options. You don’t have to be a mother to nurture the world. You don’t have to be bought out by Google to be a successful start-up. You can be a granny with a new tattoo or a compulsive product lover who opens a museum one day. If we truly believe that the path is the destination we should reward others for being on the path and not for arriving at a particular destination.