How and Why to Develop Your Everyday Creativity

A recent study shows that engaging in something creative, on a weekly basis improves our general well-being, by experiencing increased positive emotions. Moreover, this study encourages everyone, no matter the personality types, to tap into their creative energy and find ways to express your creative self.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what creativity is and what it actually means to experience life more creatively.

What is creativity?

 

We grow up with favourite figures of writers, musicians, painters, etc that enrich our emotional life. Who hasn’t heard of Dostoyevsky, Queen and Picasso? To normal people, great minds set an unreachable standard of what it means to be creative and gifted. Ever since childhood, my understanding of creativity has been that of a personality trait with which only genius people are blessed with. I only dreamed of writing fiction but didn’t dare to try it out because I knew I was not one of those blessed with the talent of creative writing.

It wasn’t until one fortunate event about 10 years ago, when I got an invitation to join an amateur theatre group and I hesitantly accepted. I started experimenting with playscript writing. Impassioned by developing the stories, my life got a whole new meaning. Ideas were blossoming in my mind like the Spring flowers under the first warm days of sun. Who was this person originating those ideas?

I became more observant of my inner and external life. As a result, I was coming up with new ideas to incorporate into the scripts. Overall, I experienced more joy, although I was very much aware that my scripts would not be brought to life on the stage of the Finnish National Theatre or Svenska Teatern. I was happy not taking myself seriously but at the same time, diligently challenging my writing potential.

Like me, there are others longing after expressing themselves in a creative way but don’t dare to because they believe, without further investigations, that creativity is a personality trait of geniuses.

Geniuses make the world a more beautiful and comfortable place with new books, new songs and new inventions. To this kind of creativity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as the big C creativity. The big C creativity requires originality, usefulness and a surprising element.  

We can’t deny that some people are more creative than others. The less creative ones enjoy the outcome of the work done by the big C creativity individuals. The more creative people are skilled at both solving and finding problems. Most likely, you have bought, at least once, some goods from Amazon, the online store. Behind the successful business story of Amazon, there is one of the more creative minds, with expertise in the field of computers.

Computer engineer, Jeff Bezos, had been observing for a while how the internet is used as an insider’s tool in the USA government and the academic circles, when he had the vision to extend the use of this tool to ordinary people. Jeff came up with another way for people to buy goods. I don’t know about you, but I buy most of my books from Amazon.

The fact that some people are more creative than others in terms of the big C creativity, this does not mean that ordinary people cannot be creative. Neuroscience research suggests that the normal brains have a creative functioning that can be activated and amplified with conscious effort and a little practice.

We are all wired to create in the realm of our personal and work lives. We can all bring in some originality, usefulness and surprising element in the way we dress, we work, we behave and we manage ourselves, day in, day out. This is our small c creativity, which may not result in national and international fame, but can help us feel we live a full life and can have a positive message for the others around us.

 

Why well-being and small c creativity?

 

Researchers from different fields analyze different dimensions of well-being: emotional, physical, social, economic, psychological, engaging activities and work, and life satisfaction.

The common aspect of all these dimensions of well-being is the presence of positive emotions, transformation of negative emotions, and fulfilment.

People who engage in small c creativity – like daydreaming, playing guitar in their free time, or findings ways to pleasantly surprise their close ones – report to have a greater sense of well-being and personal growth compared to others less engaged in everyday creative activities.

Small c creativity is about looking at your life circumstances and finding ways to express yourself. The basic human need is to be seen and to be heard. Being creative about how you allow yourself to be seen and heard is a fun and daring way to live.

 

What does it mean to make a habit out of creativity?


One of my dear friends is a good example of what it means to express yourself in a creative way. Journalist as a profession, he dedicated hours of his time to playing and singing in a band, to directing and acting in theatre plays. The music is his way to express his joys and yearnings. Theatre is his ways to connect with others.

Another example of creative living is an important person for me who has been a long-life entrepreneur. Now when he is at pension, instead of taking it easy, his mind continues to come up with visions about how to improve different aspects of the society.

Once you find your creative way of living, it is harder to let it go. But how can you start? Here are 3 things to consider when embarking on the creative self-realization.

 

Playful attitude

Have you happened to notice, what is your tendency when you get involved in a new project? Do you take yourself seriously to make everything perfect or do you have a more playful attitude of experimenting with ideas and feelings?

When we learn new skills and make habitual changes, the brain is working harder in order to hardwire these new skills and habits. Therefore, we need to put in more cognitive effort, which may be frustrating at times. But keeping a playful attitude of exploration can keep the motivation up.

Choose your interest

What is the area in your life where you want to be more creative? Is it your morning rituals, finding an engaging activity to boost your energy, your home design, the way you manage your emotions, your love relationship, or your relationship with your child, etc?

Whatever area you choose, find your problem and think how you want to feel when you solve the problem. Then start with the first small solution.

For example, you may want to find an engaging activity to make you experience more positive emotions but you think you are not passionate about anything in particular. Start thinking about few things you are interested in, choose one and try to get curious about what you can do about this interest. It can be playing an instrument, cooking, gardening, building a house, poetry, politics, etc.

Let’s say you choose gardening. It can be that you realize you want to subscribe to a gardening magazine. Or, if you are more of an extrovert, you may go to the flowers shop in your neighbourhood and start a small-talk with the seller about the season flowers.

 

Find the time and space for curiosity

When we start doing something new and we want to make it a habit, it’s preferable to choose a favourable time of the day and a place where it’s more likely we don’t get interrupted or distracted for the duration we are engaged in this new activity. This means that we may want to pay closer attention to what activities we do daily and make some changes to make room for the new activity.

Continuing with the previous example on developing curiosity for gardening, we may want to dedicate 30 minutes to reading more about it, every Sunday evening, when the house is quiet.

Don’t beat yourself if you fall asleep over the gardening magazine. If your curiosity is not awaken, move on to another field of interest. Explore until you feel the spark of curiosity. This is a good sign that you are in a spot where you have high chances of finding out how to express your creative self.

Music is the first love of my friend I was talking about earlier. This Summer, while driving around the picturesque roads of the French countryside, he got in touch with a stream of consciousness which aroused his interest to get back to his second love: writing. “I need to learn more about developing plots, though. ”, he mused.

The retired entrepreneur could enjoy sleeping late in the mornings. However, his visions, implementation ideas and the perceived obstacles make him continue with a disciplined lifestyle. He wakes up at 5 am to have brainstorming sessions on his own. He frequently goes to the gym and takes walks in the nature.

As for myself, I am exploring my creative potential, as a parent, by making up bedtime stories weekly.

Once you tap into your creative energy and find ways to express it in your life, you become one with your creative potential, you grow with it and you allow it guide you to the next chapter in the adventure of your life.

On Building Inner Motivation To Taking a Break for People with High Sense of Responsibility

Taking a break from everyday work and family life is crucial for understanding yourself better. Whether you meditate, take yoga classes, or take a walk in the neighbourhood, the aim is to allow yourself to disconnect from the external world and connect to your wisdom, the intelligence that connects you to higher consciousness and that shows with clarity what’s important for you.

When you find yourself in that place of wisdom, you can think deeper about why you do whatever you are doing and what else you would like to do. However, for some of us who have an extreme sense of responsibility, it is more challenging than it sounds to walk out of the office or home and go out somewhere else where you allow your body, mind and soul to relax.

When I meet friends and ask, “How have you been?”, it’s highly likely that I get answers, like “busy” or “I can’t remember”. Daily, each one of us has so many things with priority 1 to deal with that we easily end up thinking we don’t even have time to get sick.

Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit”, talks about the importance of creating habits that allow us to think twice about what do we really want to get done.

For those of us who have a strong sense of responsibility to do everything for everyone and can’t stop easily, the first step in creating such habits is to find the intrinsic motivation for the activities that would create the space for thinking.

Here are some suggestions about how positive emotions can motivate us to start the habit of taking breaks.

Positive emotions

As superficial as it may sound, positive emotions are strong behavioural drivers. Just think why you keep on eating the piece of strawberry cake. It is human to want to indulge ourselves in pleasure, fun, laughter or soothing, nurturing activities for the soul.

So, what is it that you would love doing?

Make a long list of loads of crazy, daring, fun, simple activities you would love doing. Tap into your creative thinking and try to come up with a long list. Then, choose one activity that you can incorporate in your work life, with minimum effort and that takes less than 5 minutes.

You may want to read a joke.

You may want to listen to an energizing song.

You may want to do a breathing exercise.

You may want to look at your child’s photo.

You may want to look through the window at the sky, etc.  

What time of the day you would like to take the break? For example, it can be after the dreaded team meeting on Mondays, at 9am. Or before meeting an important client. Or, before leaving the office.

Book a date with your positive emotions

Find one or two words to describe the positive emotions you had during the short break. Schedule the next break and what you want to do during that break. In the second week, try to have two short breaks during the day. By the fourth month, you can have 3 breaks of maximum 5 minutes each.

In addition, after a month, you can choose another activity that you jotted down on the list. This time, choose one activity that takes about 30 minutes and create the opportunity to do it in between work and family time. For this activity, you would need to put in slightly more effort than for the short breaks at work. For example, it may require you to put the sneakers on and go walking, jogging or biking.

Now that it’s Summer in Helsinki, I chose to go walking in the sunny afternoons, for half an hour. This means that I end the work half an hour earlier than before. And since I am one of the persons who can’t go out for a walk just for the sake of it, I think of the lovely flowers I will encounter during my stroll. Some hectic days when thinking of the flowers is not enough, I take a look at the photos I took in the previous walks.

The photos are loving reminders that for me, walking becomes a therapy of colours and scent. This is an experience that makes me want to have the walk.

So, when deciding to move on to doing activities that take longer time, remind yourself what is the positive experience you are going to have. Positive experiences are not a luxury, are a necessity. They are crucial for healthy living.

New thoughts that may come to the surface of consciousness

When we live positive emotions, we become more relaxed and thoughts and emotions from the unconscious part of the mind are flowing in the conscious part.

We become aware of material, emotional, intellectual or spiritual needs that are waiting for further exploration.

It may dawn on you that it’s time to move to the country-side.

You may admit to yourself that you need better sleep.

You may want to be more social.

You may want to learn to live in joy and beyond your own thinking.

You may want to make stress a friend by looking into how you can relate to the uncertainty of life, etc.

Get curious and be mindful about new thoughts in your awareness. These are the thoughts springing from our inner wisdom and that show clearly how it is important to live.

I would love to hear from you. If you are one of those people with a strong sense of responsibility towards everyone and everything in life, how do you motivate yourself to take breaks?

In search of your true self

Chances are that we have a deeper sense of fulfilment in life when we know who we are. Most of us, when we are new to a group, we introduce ourselves by describing the job title or describing ourselves in relation to someone important in our life, such as your wife, your child, your parent, etc.

These ways of presentation are important because they give to others an idea about what is it that we have achieved so far or what is it that we hold dear.

However, in order to develop the deeper sense of fulfilment, we need to know more about ourselves. We may not need to share it with everyone but it is crucial to have it clear for ourselves. If we gain clarity on that, we have the foundation from where we experience life.

 

How do you gain clarity into who you truly are?

Recent research on personality , shows that our personality can change for the better as we experience life. The degree of extroversion, the openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional instability can positively change as a result of special attention we give to the different dimensions of our personality and of the positive intention behind the exerted attention.

In different life circumstances, varied and salient sides of ourselves may come to surface. For example, when spending time with the children, the playful trait may surface. When working on a project, the supportive side of you can kick-in. When presenting your idea in front of a group, the insecurity may be dominant.

The key aspect is to be mindful to all the feelings, thoughts and attitudes we embrace and decide to what extend they represent who we truly are.

 

“When we recognize a subpersonality, we are able to step outside it and observe it. In psychosynthesis we call this process “dis-identification”. Because we all have the tendency to identify with – to become one with – this or that subpersonality, we come implicitly to believe that we are it.” (Piero Ferrucci, What We May Be)

Being present to what we feel enables us to create for few seconds a distance between who we may think we are and who we truly are.

 

Life circumstances can help us recognize our true self

To my mind, this is one of the reasons we are living this life: to experience who we truly are. An attitude of curiosity and playfulness can ease the discovery. For example, for a person who moves to another country, it may be easier to get in touch with different sides of his personality and with his core by accepting and being interested in other nationalities.

Such a person may be closer to finding his true self by allowing himself to change the perceptions on the world and at the same time, reminding himself about the set of beliefs that keep him grounded in the midst of changes.

Life circumstances make us revisit the most important beliefs. There are times when we may choose life circumstance to fit with these most important beliefs. And there are times when we choose to give up some beliefs that do not serve us very well in the new life circumstance.

Continuing the example with the person moving to a new country, the first step would be to look for like-minded individuals to spend time with. If you are a curious mind, you may want to look for other curious minds in the area of your interest. For example, Internations is a community of foreigners and expats that offers plenty of interest groups for different tastes to ease up the adaptation to the new cultural environment.

At the same time, this person who has recently relocated to a foreign land, may want to reevaluate his nationalistic views to develop a healthier attitude as a foreigner. You cannot have a smooth integration to another country by fostering negative opinions about the new culture.

We know who we truly are when we feel in harmony with ourselves and with the life circumstance we find ourselves in. Meanwhile, we keep on searching, holding onto the belief that each day provides a glimpse into our true selves. We need to be present enough to recognize it. The true self is already in us.

 

Ten abilities that may enable forgiveness

Letting go of the past suffering is a meaningful process, which requires that we search deeply inside to find our motivation and strengths to continue life with love and light in the heart. In this article, we discuss ten abilities that we may choose to develop as part of the forgiving attitude.   

To revenge or to forgive?

In the best slapstick GIF we’ve ever seen, according to James Vincent, London reporter at The Verge, we can observe a hilarious chain of events which ends with the revenge of one of the five players. 

The action starts when one of the players, whom James calls The Hitter, enjoys a snack while caressing a cute dog standing in front of him. The second player, The Stander, gets up from the bench to caress the doggy too. The bench tips over the third player, The Faller, who on his way to the floor, grabs the pants of the fourth player, The Spiller. The Spiller happens to pass by, carrying a pan of water in his hands. The tipping bench hits the pan of water which spills in the head of The Hitter. The Spiller turns around to pull his pants up while The Hitter hits him in the head with the pan.

Let’s imagine you are The Hitter. What would you have done if you suddenly got some water spilled over your head, while you enjoyed a snack and caressed a cute doggy?

 Would you have reacted differently if the water was warm or cold? Clean or dirty?

Would it make any difference if the person who spilled the water in your head was a complete stranger, your mother, your girlfriend or any other person important to you?

Scientific articles on human forgiveness show that the desire to revenge is built-in the human nature. The desire to revenge is evolutionary explained by the fear to be perceived weak in the enemy’s eyes.  Social psychologists have done studies showing that if two people fight in the street and there is the third person passing by, the fighters start fighting even harder.

The action in this GIF ends when The Hitter hits The Spiller. We don’t know how The Spiller reacts to the blow. Now let’s now imagine you are The Spiller. How would you have reacted if you got a blow in the head while pulling your pants up? You turn around and you see that it was The Hitter who caused you pain.

 

Motivation to forgive – Mandela’s story

 

The capacity for forgiveness is also built-in the human nature. The environment has a great influence on whether the capacity for revenge or the capacity for forgiveness are developed. One hypothesis for explaining the desire to forgive is the “valuable relationships” one. Primatologists believe that by forgiving and reconciling, our ancestors were more capable for group cooperation, which increased their evolutionary fitness. 

The hypothesis of “valuable relationships” may hold as well in the case of The Hitter and The Spiller. Maybe they are brothers and may decide to have a good laugh as a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation.

What if The Hitter and The Spiller are complete strangers who happen to be in the same place, at the wrong moment? What would motivate The Spiller to forgive The Hitter?  

When Bill Clinton asked Nelson Mandela how he brought himself to forgive his jailers, Mandela’s answer was “If I continued to hate these people I was still in prison.”

Mandela was part of a society torn by racial segregation, which gave more rights to the White South Africans than to the Black or other ethnicity South Africans. In 1963, at the Rivonia Trial, Mandela was accused to life sentence for revolting against the state.

After 27 years of prison, he became the 1st president of South Africa starting with May 1994 till June 1999. In 1995, the new South African government put in place a “truth and reconciliation” commission to investigate human rights abuses during the apartheid era when the rights of the Black and other ethnic groups were curtailed and the White minority rule was maintained.

Mandela had forgiven his jailers and wanted to help his fellow citizens forgive the abuses they had suffered during the apartheid era.

What motivated Mandela to forgive?

His dream society was the one where people of different skin colors and races live in harmony. He wanted a future of equal opportunities for all South Africans, as he declared in his speech at the Rivonia trial in 1964:

“During my life I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die for. ”

 

How about you? What wrong-doings did you suffer in childhood, school, romantic relationships, professional life, etc.? What aspects of the environment where you lived so far might motivate you to forgive?  

Choose one of the wrong-doings that had the biggest effect on your inner life. Would you choose an inner or an outside motivation so you can commit to forgiving your wrongdoer?

Defining forgiveness

Forgiveness has a unique connotation for each individual who suffered a wrong-doing. What do you think of when you hear the word “forgiveness”?

Researchers at GreaterGood Center define forgiveness a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards a person or group of persons who have wronged you, irrespective they deserve to be forgiven. 

When we decide to forgive someone, it doesn’t imply that we accept that the other person continues behaving in a way that could hurt us. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we come up with excuses for the respective behaviour.

Forgiveness means taking responsibility for a non-violent attitude to the wrongs we suffer.

Benefits of forgiveness

Forgiveness liberates the soul…” says Morgan Freeman who plays Nelson Mandela in the movie “Invictus.”

The Bible teaches us to forgive others so that God may forgive us.

Buddha said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting hurt.”

Researchers confirm that more forgiving people are in a better physical and emotional health. Practicing forgiveness helps to release all the hatred, resentment, hostility and anger that are accumulated as a result of ruminating over the transgression. On the contrary, dwelling on unforgiveness makes your blood pressure rise, face muscles become tense and heart rate increase. For example, people with unforgiving attitudes towards their romantic partners experience jumps in cortisol, the stress hormone which metabolizes fat in the body.   

Second, people who have more tendency to forgive report greater quality relationships and greater commitment to relationships. Try to forgive for the sake of having healthier and happier relationships.

Third, forgive so that you can understand better what it means to forgive. You are more able to teach a forgiving attitude to your children or others you care about.

The Journey of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a unique process of inner life discoveries for every individual who commits to forgiving. For most of us, forgiveness is an emotionally sinuous process, with moments when you think you managed to let go, followed shortly by moments when you find yourself in deep resentment about the wrongdoer.

In the moments when you feel disillusioned that you’ll never be able to forgive, it is time to strengthen one or more of the following abilities in yourself: intention, honesty, acceptance of grieving, expectations, empathy, identity, humility, patience and courage.

1. Intention

Choose your destination – What kind of attitude would you like to have in face of the everyday life challenges?

What is your emotional baggage resulting from unforgiveness?

Your life is now with its present challenges. Are you aware how this emotional baggage mixes with the emotions resulting from the present challenges and how it affects your life?

When you set the intention to forgive for a being able to love again, to trust again, to feel joy again, your psyche is prepared to deal with the resentment and other negativity resulting from unforgiveness.

2. Honesty

Identify your pain - What are your negative emotions caused by the wrongdoing? Try to label them and see what emotions are more frequent.

Be honest with yourself and observe how the pain of not being able to forgive is affecting you. Maybe your self-confidence is low, maybe you don’t trust anyone around you, maybe you become bitter, unhealthily angry and hateful in every day life.

How else does the pain affect your inner life?

How many years do you think that one can live with the pain and other negative emotions resulting from unforgiveness?

For the English historian of Jamaican origins, Colin Grant, it took about 30 years to finally forgiving his father who rejected him. The forgiveness happened when Colin wrote the memoir “Bageye at the Wheel”, in which he explores the emotional differences between his world and his father’s.

Be honest with any negative emotion you might have struggled with for the last 5, 10 or 20 years. Sometimes, it may take a life-time to forgive.  


3. Accept the grieving

Accept your grieving, be willing to go through sadness, anger, pain, loss, fear, guilt whenever you are aware feeling that way.

How do you know when you don’t accept your pain? When you see yourself as a victim, thinking Why did this have to happen to me?, I always end up being hurt, etc. Perceiving yourself as a victim keeps you stuck in the moment when you suffered the injustice.

Instead, try to find an outlet for your pain, which doesn’t involve hurting yourself or others. Find meaning in your grieving. Find your ways to cope with the grieving. For example, some choose to do service to others in need. Some choose to talk about their emotions to someone they trust or complete strangers.

Prayer is a coping technique for many people who seek forgiveness or to be forgiveness. For example, in the biographic novel Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, describes the first time in her life when she prays to God. She starts her prayer by saying, “I’m a big fan of your work” . She hopes that by praying she would get an answer to her indecisiveness of whether to stay married or not. A few months later, after divorcing and after a failed romantic relationship, Elizabeth embarks on a one year trip of self-discovery around the world.    

What way would you chose to cope with your grieving?  

4. Expectations

When you commit to forgiving one person, it is best if you set the expectation of yourself to develop the habit of forgiving in general. Next time when another person causes you harm at emotional or physical level, it may come more natural to you to let go of the resulting resentment and other negative emotions.

Also, in the daily interactions, review your expectations of things that other people should have given to you and they chose not to.  

What are your expectations from the most important people in your life (e.g., family, friends, lover, etc)? Can you remember one expectation you had on one person and in what ways that expectation caused you suffering?

5. Empathy

Practice empathy – think into more detail about the life of the person who hurt you. How his childhood must have been? How much love and affection he must have received as a child? What situations he must have gone through as an adult? What must have made him hurt you? 

As we can see from the empathy game we played in the beginning of this article, there can be different versions of the story if we put ourselves in the shoes of The Hitter or of The Spiller. Similarly, by developing your cognitive empathy regarding the wrongdoer, you may understand more about his world. You will inevitably take more distance from your pain.  

You may even realize you have something in common with your wrongdoer, like Nelson Mandela did. Mandela befriended a white jail guard who “reinforced my belief in the essential humanity of even those who had kept me behind bars”.

6. Nothing personal

When someone hurts you, it says a lot about the level of consciousness of that person at that moment, his interpersonal skills, ideals and goals in life. He didn’t hurt you because of You, he hurt you because you happened to be in his way at that moment.

The slapstick scene we discussed in the beginning is a good example. The Hitter just happened to be in the way of the Spiller. The Spiller didn’t even mean to spill the pan of water in The Hitter’s head. In a similar way, persons with lower levels of consciousness have sometimes no choice but to react in a hurtful way towards the closest people.

In 1995, Mandela invited for lunch a man called Percy Yutar. Yutar was the state prosecutor at the 1963 Rivonia treason trial and asked the death penalty for Mandela. While enjoying their lunch, Mandela told to Yutar that he forgave him because he was only doing  his job. 

When you suffer a wrong-doing in professional life, it is slightly easier to understand that there is nothing personal because it is your professional identity which is harmed. This is a good time to ask yourself what do you identify yourself with. Do you identify with your job, with your family, with your country, etc?

Think of this scenario in professional life, when your boss criticizes you in front of your team for making a poor report. How would you feel the moment when you hear the criticism? If you take the criticism very personally, it might be an indication that you identify partly with your profession.

7. Humility

Humility is defined as the quality of having a modest view on one’s importance. How you consider humility, as a virtue or as a sign of weak character?

Seneca, a Roman philosopher and dramatist, said “Errare humanum est”, which translates into it is human to make mistakes. Practice humility by reminding yourself that both you and the ones who wronged you are humans, with bigger or smaller imperfections. We thus avoid the feeling of superiority to the faults of those who wronged us and judge less their intentions.

Can you think of an experience when you hurt someone with your words, for example?

By practicing humility, we learn to understand more than we try to make ourselves understood. Madela’s life was an continuous practice of humility in service of his society torn by the racial segregation, as he declares, “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people”.


8. Patience  


Finding peace in your heart after a being hurt requires lots of patience. In general, how patient would you say you are, on a scale from 0 to 10? How willing are you to build patience in yourself?

The American poet, Mary Oliver describes in her poem, Patience, how the moon cycle inspired her to be more patient.  


What is the good life now? Why,

look here, consider

the moon’s white crescent

rounding, slowly, over the half month to still another

perfect circle —

I used to hurry everywhere,

and leaped over the running creaks.

There wasn’t

time enough for all the wonderful things

I could think of to do

in a single day.  Patience

comes to the bones

before it takes root in the heart

as another good idea.

I say this

as I stand in the woods

and study the patterns

of the moon shadows …

 

 

What or Who could inspire you to learn the ability of being patient when forgiving?

9. Self-compassion

The wound in your heart resulting from being hurt needs your kindness. Embrace your pain as if you embraced a frightened child. Smile to your suffering and validate it. Say to it, “Yes, I know it sucks to suffer but I am here with you.”  

10. Courage  

Courage in forgiveness means to continue life by being true to yourself, your values and principles. For example, courage may mean to continue life with goodness in your heart despite witnessing human cruelty. Courage may mean praying for the wrong doers to find their peace and start spreading goodness.  

Mother Theresa wisely portraits what being courageous in forgiveness means.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

 


After losing someone you loved dearly, to be courageous may mean accepting your shuttered inner life and hope for the rebirth of a new you, a better you, as Elizabeth Gilbert writes in the biographical novel Eat Pray Love, “Ruin is a gift, ruin is a way to transformation”

Considering the circumstances where you’ve been hurt, in what ways could you show courage to forgive?

Choose your motivation and preferred ability and let forgiveness begin! :)

More reading material, useful self-help guides that enable you realize at what stage of forgiveness you are and what to expect next:

 

Robert Enright’s 4 phases model of forgiveness 

 

Fred Luskin’s Eight nine steps to forgive  

 

Jack Kornfield’s 12 principles of forgiveness 

 

Be brave, embrace the happiness

We can choose to practise living with joy. For that, we need awareness that we are the ones who can do something about our genuine happiness.

If someone said to you: “ Here you have two pairs of glasses: through one, you can perceive life colourful . Through the other pair of glasses you can perceive life in white and black. Choose one pair. You’ll wear it for the rest of your life and you’ll perceive the surroundings accordingly.”

Which one would you choose?

I would choose the glasses which allow me to have a colourful vision. I love colours. They make me feel alive! They inspire me.

It’s the same with the choice between worries and joy. We can choose which one we want to prioritise and follow with interest. If we prioritise worries, we may risk to develop the habit of seeing bad in everything we do.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to develop the habit of seeing the good and positive side of life situations. This does not mean that I would ignorantly dismiss the worries. It means that I’d rather maintain the inner joy while doing self-inquiry into why and what worries me.

Lately, I’ve felt under the weather, swamped in worries about my future delivery and burdened with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction about myself. One day, I remembered the words of the Balinese healer, Ketut Liyer, from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love”:

“To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver. Practice tonight at hotel. Not to hurry, not to try too hard. Too serious, you make you sick. You can calling the good energy with a smile.”

I started smiling with my belly where my second baby is growing. I felt deeply in my heart that I have a choice. I can choose to not take worries too seriously. When worries are out of the way, what emotions and thoughts are in us?

When worries are under control, happiness may have more room for manifestation. Happiness coming from the people around us and from the experiences we live – built on the joy that sheepishly lives in us.

But how can we find our inner happiness? I’d say that we need to increase our awareness about the emotions and thoughts that burden us, such as:

  1. Expectations – they are such a big and silent part of us that it may take some time to realise we have them. We may spend years in sufferance until we realised that the solution is simple: stop having expectations as the reference point for living. Things go the way they do. Others behave the way they are. If our expectations are met, that’s great! If not, we can learn something from the experience of unmet expectations and move on wiser than before and with a broader outlook on life.
  2. The negativity in us that creates the dirty energy that Ketut Liyer was talking about. Joy can’t live in the same place with envy, jealousy, selfishness, hatred, etc. I wonder if anyone can be happy when such negative feelings rule. And since most of us are prone to feeling negativity, how about doing something about the roots of any negative feeling we may feel? Inquiring into negativity is an amazing way to know more about ourselves.

At the same time, we need to increase awareness into what boosts the inner happiness:

  1. How to become a better human – practising empathy, compassion, unconditional love and humbleness can help us cross the borders of individualism and find the beauty of human connection.
  2. Living meaningfully – such as dedicating ourselves to loving someone, raising kids, a noble cause or the pursuit of other dreams. Turning dreams into reality is a process that can make us see things (such as skills or flaws) about ourselves we were not even aware. It may challenge us reassess our core values and beliefs. All in all, it can help us grow out of the limits of our own minds.
  3. The know-how of relaxing – in times when individuals are required to excel at efficiency and productivity, it’s very important to discover what relaxation means for each one of us and to find time for it.
Next time when you’re worried to death, do yourself a favour by trying an exercise of awareness. Bring a tiny bit of smile into awareness and the good energy will follow.

 

PS. This is the last blog post before taking a break. My second baby is due to be born this March. Therefore, I feel it’s time for me to focus on my toddler, my husband and the tiny human being who will come into the world. A big Thank You to the good people who have been by my side since I’ve started the blog. Looking forward to the next time we meet!

You may also like reading:

When expecting from others, remember the joy of not expecting

Human connection – a beautiful and rare thing

How can mothers relax

 

I Dream of Seeing More Compassion

The art of helping through conversation 

Is there any sense in making new year resolutions?

Making new year resolutions can improve our lives if we diligently work on them. Even if we never carry on with them, by writing down resolutions it gives us the chance to dream of a better life. Yet, if we are wholeheartedly dedicated to our resolutions, there are a few tips to remember in order to avoid disappointment at the end of the year when we do the maths and we see that we are far away from reaching our goals.

When a new year is about to begin, some of us like to make a list of resolutions. For the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve made resolutions that would help me live my dreams.

Throughout the year, I would get entangled into the events that life brought in my way and I would lose focus of my resolutions. At the end of the year, I would have feelings of failure and disappointment coming from my incapability to kick-start or complete my personal or professional projects.

Dan Puric, a Romanian actor, once said “If you want God to laugh, tell him about your plans.” Many of us don’t see the point in making one year plans. Some of us succumb to higher forces of life and cope with life situations that require different skills, emotional reactions and actions than those that would lead to reaching goals.

I am somewhere in between pursuing goals with determination and waiting to see what plans the destiny has in store for me. For example, for years, I’ve been planning to write a book on spiritual development in a foreign environment. I’ve started two drafts already. But year after year, I faced other challenges, which required my energy and time that I would have otherwise put into writing my dream book.

I’ve learned a few things about reaching goals:

  1. Have a list of huge and ambitious goals to work on. Keep it short – two, three at maximum.
  2. Have some self-discipline and break the big goal into smaller steps to follow through each month of the year.
  3. Be ready to put on hold the work on a project in favour of more important life situations that you didn’t envisage in the beginning the year (i.e, the birth of your child, the illness of a parent, etc)
  4. Keep focus on what is more important, that is your wellbeing. Therefore, no matter what happens, don’t beat yourself up if at the end of the year, you have still to work on your list of top goals. As a matter of fact, it is very valuable what you’ve learned from the unexpected experiences you lived. What insights into yourself did you gain? For example, if you maintained your inner peacefulness through challenging times, most likely you’ll have the energy to get back to where you left your work-in-progress.
  5. Be flexible to revise and even change your new year resolutions throughout the year. Goals may be too idealistic or unrealistic. Unexpected opportunities may come along. You may lose interest in pursuing a certain goal. For example, you may have aimed at finding a job abroad but then something happens and you realise you want to stay close to your family. You may have aimed at losing 20 kg but by the time you lost 15 kg you feel that it is time to stop because the respective weight is just perfect for you. Life is about change, so allow your goals to change as you gain more insight into your life.

Reaching goals can give feelings of satisfaction, achievement and meaningfulness. Above all, it is a process that challenges our beliefs and skills. If at the end of the process we are better persons than before, than this is the most priceless achievement.

How about you, do you like making new year resolutions? How do you manage the process of turning them into reality?

You may also like reading:

Living without desires?

Embracing braver attitude towards change

Who said that it is easy to follow your dreams

In the pursuit of healthy self-esteem

My intuitive belief, backed up by findings of researchers in psychology is that a healthy dose of self-esteem is necessary for individual happiness. Self-esteem, the way people perceive their own worth, lays the foundation for the thoughts, emotions, actions and behaviours that we adopt. The problem is that each individual has too high or too low of a self-esteem, which affects our inner life, relationships and professional life. It is possible though to discover a balanced perception on our worth in order to live deeply and in harmony with who we truly are. 

Healthy self-esteem means the ability to perceive our own worth as realistically as possible, by reviewing our current relationships and achievements and further challenging ourselves. It is less important whether the outcomes of our challenges are successes or failures. It is more important to develop a healthy self-esteem, which enables us to feel content and learn from our personal endeavours. In other words, a healthy self-esteem means feeling good in our own skin while we are improving different aspects of our life.

How can we feel good when we are under the stress of reaching goals? A healthy self-esteem can take away the focus from the stress and increases our awareness into how we can meet are our most important needs as human beings. For example, a healthy self-esteem can make us see how to live meaningfully and take steps in that direction. A healthy self-esteem can help us have “feel good” interactions with different people.

However, reaching the balance point where we possess healthy self-esteem can take years of our life. Each one of us has to first fight with either too high or too low self-esteem, which results from the parenting style we were raised with and from the culture where we grew up.

Having a too high self-esteem means being overly confident about everything we do. We believe that we are much better than the people around us. Thus, there is the risk that our ego inflates and we may miss out opportunities when we could learn something valuable from others.

Especially in love relationships, the too high a self-esteem may turn us into egoistic individuals who become blind to the needs of the loved one. Relationship conflicts may result from excessive pride and too high expectations about “what I want and I need”.

On the other hand, others may struggle with too low self-esteem, the depressing feeling that “I am not good enough, so I deserve less”. As a result, the job, the love life and everything else are a reflection of the lack the confidence to even hope for good things to happen to us.

Having too low self-esteem brings us down and keeps us away from exploring our true potential in life. For example, thinking that “I am not smart enough to study mathematics”, may prevent us from at least give it a shot. Instead, if we think, “I will study mathematics and see how I feel about it”, we may be surprised to see that mathematics is an exciting discipline.

If indeed, you start studying mathematics and you see it’s not your cup of tea, then nothing prevents you from studying other more interesting topics.

How can we develop the sense of a healthy self-esteem? Each one of us knows it deep inside on which side of self-esteem we are. It is a matter of admitting to ourselves that we have too high or too low self-esteem and get motivated to do something about it.

Learning to be humble about everything we do can be useful for those of us with too high self-esteem. This means that we need to become aware that we are not the centre of the world. Our work, while it is fascinating for us and useful for a group of people, may not be interesting for some others.

Learning how to ask for what you want is a skill that those of us with low self-esteem may need to work on. This way the people around us may start paying attention to us and respect us for who we are.

Thinking, acting and behaving according to who we truly are, bring joy, satisfaction and healthy relationships. When we master the skills to live according to healthy self-esteem, we have the chance to discover authentic happiness.

So, let’s start 2014 with a very important resolution: to find our healthy self-esteem! Good luck to everyone who is interested in such a pursuit!

For a detailed analysis of internal and external factors that can influence self-esteem, you might like reading:

Six Pillars of Self Esteem by psychotherapist and writer Nathaniel Branden

 

You may also like reading:

Why you owe to yourself to find your true self and what it implies

The gratefulness for 2013

Today, in the last day of 2013, I look back at the year that seems to have passed at the speed of light. The first word that comes to my mind is gratefulness.

I’d like to thank to all the wonderful people who have inspired me to keep on writing on my blog. Your emails, comments and post likes fuelled my mental energy and creativity during days when I mostly needed them.

Having a healthy body and mind is of outmost importance for a happy life and this year has offered a few experiences which proved just that! So, cheers to a healthy life!

I’d like to express gratitude for the dear ones in my life. More than in the previous years, I have lived through frustrations and disappointments in close relationships. Despite the temporary emotional pain, in the end, I have felt how my love for them helped to become a better person, with broader view on the mystery of life.

I feel thankful for carrying in me a new life and for experiencing for the second time how a tiny fetus grows inside. The second pregnancy reminded that maternal love and sacrifice go hand in hand.

In the last day of 2013, it is time to stop for a while, contemplate on our experiences over the year and look with confidence, positive thinking and excitement towards the new year! To many new life experiences that will make us feel closer to God or the Life Source from where we all come!

Let’s start 2014 with love!

 

How about you? What thoughts of gratefulness do you have today?

What is the magic of Christmas?

When it’s Christmas time, the world becomes more beautiful and miracles seem closer to reach. Even little towns and small shops in Christian countries embellish themselves with lights and decorations. Shops play traditional carols, probably much to the despair of the shop assistants but, most likely much to the delight of the shoppers who like Christmas. I’ve always loved Christmas but this year, I reflected deeper why I feel this way about this religious holiday.

When I was a child, waiting for the Christmas day meant living in a fairytale. The thrill revolved around the Christmas gift, which was the symbol of making the impossible possible. If normally, I was just a simple girl, in Christmas day, Santa Claus, coming all the way from the North Pole, made me feel special by visiting me.

Even after finding out that our chubby neighbour impersonates Santa, I could hardly close my eyes, the night before the Christmas day. The gift in itself was not important, but the fantasy created around it.

As an adult, I like to put on the Santa hat and buy gifts for the loved ones. I’ve learned to disregard the inherent stress and look upon the mission of finding Christmas gifts as an opportunity to take time to think about the dear ones. What are their needs? What are their hobbies? Any new ones? What is their favourite music? etc

This is the third Christmas as a mother and I became aware that the most priceless gift is to offer the love and joy that you possess. Yet, offering this special gift is not exactly a walk in the park. I need some time to prepare my soul for getting to the space inside where pure love and generous joy live.

Over the year, frustrations, anger and complaints accumulate and dominate the inner life. Some Christians fasten for six weeks before Christmas. This year, my way of fastening is to spend the last week before Christmas with the thought, “Joy, love and relaxation. Spend each day accordingly!”

Daily interactions come with opportunities to turn my attention inwards and focus on the goodness and kindness in me. The anticipation of Christmas gives the strength to let everything be and feel the love, joy and peace that are at the core of my being.

As Gina Lake writes in her book, “Ten Teachings for One World, Wisdom from Mother Mary” ,

“When your attitude is to let everything be, this acceptance allows you to relax and feel at peace with whatever is going on! What a relief it is to not to have to fight with the way things are! How exhausting it is to feel angry, sad, or afraid…Instead of being upset and overwhelmed, you relax and let everything be as it is. Life is much easier that way.”

For some reason I am not aware of, waiting for Christmas makes it easier to accept who I am, who the loved ones are, how my life in general is, the political and economic situation of the country I am originally from, etc. If the Christmas day brings stillness and immense joy in my soul, then, this shall be the Christmas magic to me!

How about you? What is the Christmas magic to you?

You may also like reading:

Report on two weeks of trying a complaint-free life

When expecting from others, remember the joy of not expecting

How tolerant we should be with others’ intolerance

 

Embracing braver attitude towards change

Most of us like our comfort zone, with the people and activities that are integral part. In these modern times, changes to the comfort zone take place without asking for permission. The hope for future can help counterbalance the fear of uncertainty and attachment to what we have. Personal insights may arise and show the way to a balanced life while coping with change. 

In general, human beings are resistant to change. Especially when we have love in our lives and we are thriving, why should we want to change anything?

We may not like changes but changes like us. The idea of permanence, about which some of us may feel comfortable and safe, becomes slowly an utopia. We may live in different homes at different stages. There are more divorces. Friends move abroad and other people take their place.

Even when life is not so satisfying, we may still muse and ponder whether to make any change. This is the case of a friend who feels that she works in an organisation where she can’t use her full potential, and yet, “I’ll keep this job for three more years. I shall see after that.”

Sometimes we may be forced to make a change. The company where a friend was working closed its activities this Summer. Despite that he was previously considering to look for a more rewarding and meaningful job, he didn’t take quite well the news that he is jobless.

The way I see it, being able to cope with change is a must-develop skill both personally and professionally – in particular if we specialise in knowledge-intensive fields.

The way we embrace change is an interplay between uncertainty, emotional attachment to what we have in the present and hope. After going through quite some changes in my life so far, I’ve concluded that life is all about changes. So, how can we use hope to shine through fears and attachments in order to live fully?

Initially, fear may be the queen of our emotions about change. While fear is natural, we have the option to give it a positive twist by trying to manage it. This may be more difficult when we are not be willing to admit we have any fear. Instead, we blame others for circumstances that led to changes in our life.

For example, we may think it is our boss’s fault for lacking the competence to maintain the profitability of the department. As a result, the board decided to outsource the activities of the department, including our job. We may blame the persons with whom our partners cheated on us.

While these accusations may be well founded, it’s better for our wellbeing to stop giving them importance. It’s a better use of time to turn the focus to ourselves and sort out how we can go through the change.

We could try visualising how our life will be in one or two years after making the change. Creating positive scenarios of the future may give us the boost to make the first baby steps in the process. For example, taking a short vacation or long walks daily – anything else that relaxes the mind and brings peace to the soul. The more we open to a new stage of life, the more we’ll be able to recognise and react to the opportunities that come into our way.

When we loosen up from the grip of fear, we can start getting curious about how we can improve whatever happens in the present. Who can help us? How we can reach out to the people who can be helpful? Moreover, there is another kind of curiosity that we can sparkle – the curiosity about any personal insights into our inner lives.

Self-inquiry may make us want to explore:

  1. What it means to accept our fears. Fears may teach us some useful lessons about how we live our life. This requires that we get over the stage when we are stuck in the realm of fears and expand out attention to what lies beyond them. For example, you get dump and among other things, you are afraid you won’t be loved again. Why would you have such a fear? What is it about you that you feel that another person won’t fall in love with you? What kind of a person you dream to be in order to make someone fall for you? etc.
  2. What it means to look with anticipation at the future. Hope about tomorrow may increase our ability to dream today and get some inspiration for how to live in the present. In the case of my friend who lost his job in the Summer, while he was seeking for another job, he remembered about an old passion for which he hadn’t had time. He contemplated changing his career to follow the respective passion. This led him to starting to study a new field.
  3. What it means to wait for the right opportunity. When we send our resumes to companies, we may finally get more offers to choose from. The offer that suits the best may not be the first one that comes. Intuition and peace of mind may be help while we are waiting. Continuing the story about my friend, while his studies were in progress, he was invited for an interview to a firm where he felt it is the work place for him at the moment.
  4. What it means to discover hidden sides of your true-self, such as the intuitive nature, the strength and flexibility. It can happen that while we are focusing on a particular goal during change, other opportunities come up and are very beneficial. These are opportunities we haven’t considered ever before but which may be just the right thing for us in the midst of change. Returning to the scenario when you get dumped, receiving a job offer in another country may be the best thing that can happen to you.
All these inquiries can lead to the realisation that mindfulness is very important for a balanced life through change. By mindfulness, I mean the orientation of one’s experiences in the present moment, orientation characterised by curiosity, openness and acceptance. Life does not end at the bumps of change. Life continues!

Now, please share with us how do You cope with forced change?

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The value of personal belongings


Your Life, With or Without Soul Mate

Why does falling in love not always have a happy ending?

Who Said That It Is Easy To Follow Your Dreams?