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?

Gratitude Saves the Day When Death Lurks at Crossroad

We live each day as if our life is about to start tomorrow. Today it’s only the rehearsal. Today, we experiment with negative emotions, toxic thoughts and harmful behaviours.

Tomorrow, the real life will start. In the real life, we feel happiness and meaningfulness, we will observe our thoughts without identifying ourselves with them and we will have a healthy life.

Tomorrow never comes. All we have is today, when we feel trapped in something like a mouse wheel, where we have no energy or willingness to get away from. Until something tragic happens. Something that shakes up our emotions and thoughts and forces us to contemplate the face of death from few inches distance.

We feel small and helpless in face of destiny, like a newborn baby in the arms of the midwife. A tiny bit of regret creeps into our hearts.

Why didn’t I live intensely up until today?

Why did I keep procrastinating the day when I laugh and love wholeheartedly, when I accept myself as I am, and when I would do what represents me the most?

Why?

The tragedy comes unexpectedly today and there may not be tomorrow. Is it Life or Death who is going to win by the end of the day?

In such a day, we have the opportunity to reinvent how to live. When contemplating upon death, I chose to breathe from the very core of myself. I chose to search for the strength to love and hope.

One ordinary afternoon, my phone rang and the friendly voice at the other end announced, in a hesitating tone, that my father and a close friend had a car accident. “They are in the ambulance. The doors to the ambulance closed before I had the have a chance to see your dad, I don’t know how he is. I did see your friend. She looked quite pale.”

In that moment, I instinctively returned to the core of myself, which is FAITH. As the pain in the heart was growing stronger, faith became a necessity, like the air that I was breathing.

Faith, the belief that we come from the same source and we have a deep, yet unexplored, connection with this source, was like an anchor in the sea of uncertainty.

After faith, human connection turned out to be the second pillar of stability. Talking with people who cared and praying together were immediate responses to the bad news.

In the following days, while struggling to accept that the car accident happened and choking in emotional pain, I had a moment of illumination when I felt gratitude about the goodness in my life. I started counting three things I felt blessed for the day. The blessings were small things, like being embraced by my child or feeling the sun rays on my cheeks. Small experiences of life, with a tremendous healing effect on my suffering.

My father survived the car accident. Our friend didn’t.

They say that time heals. Tomorrow I will accept that the tragic accident happened. Today, I thank for having my father alive. Also, I cherish the memory of our friend and feel grateful for having met her, a force of life and embodiment of joy.

Today is time to love, laugh and be kind with whoever crosses my path.   

 

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.

 

Facing Life Changes With Wisdom

Life comes with changes, big or small, wanted or unwanted. Since the human nature seeks for certainty and security, one way to cope the best that you can with the unwanted changes is to focus on your inner wisdom. Fumble through the different layers of your identity, recreate your life, reframe the reality, adjust your expectations and experiment with living carefree.

 

The human brain likes certainty. And when changes come our way, we are faced with the opposite of certainty, which is uncertainty. The limbic system of the brain gets activated and we experience all sorts of emotions, positive and negative, big and small.

 

As a person who has experienced major and less major changes in the last 15 years, at intervals of 3 to 5 years, I thought I have a good relationship with change. I thought I tamed my mind to look at change straight in the eyes, and say, “Let’s just do it!”

 

Faced with yet another change, not so big this time, I was surprised to observe my panicky, anxious and sentimental reaction. I was informed ahead of time that the change will come. Yet, when the change happened, there was a dominant voice in my head asking, “Do we really have to go through this?”

 

Yes, unwanted changes do happen. One of the best things we could do is to go deeper in our inner world, beyond emotions and thinking, and tap into the inner wisdom that can teach us a few things about ourselves.

 

Layers of personal identity

 

Change in life makes us revisit the idea of personal identity. Who did you think you were before the change? Who are the people and what are the objects you feel a strong attachment to? What capabilities and qualities do you discover about yourself when managing change? What are the weaknesses that consume you the most?  How do you believe your identity is expanding?

 

In the first phase of change, it can happen that we stubbornly hold onto who we thought we were before. For someone who may go through a divorce, you may think of yourself still as a wife or husband. We refuse to accept that new status is of a divorced person. In the second stage, which can be sooner if you’re lucky or otherwise, later, we may become aware that we experience groundlessness. Groundlessness is the state of being where nothing makes sense anymore, what you thought to be true is not valid anymore.

 

Personally, I find this groundlessness to be a magical opportunity to expand the personal identity, to grow out of whatever roles we may have in different life circumstances and look upon our identity from a larger perspective – the perspective of eternity.

 

Let’s play for few seconds with the idea that in 1000 years from now, someone will stumble upon your photo. What would you like that person to know about who you were?

 

Recreating your life

 

Changes bring opportunities to do things in daily life, differently. In between the moments of emotional turmoil, when we have few glimpses of peacefulness, we may want to ask ourselves how do we want to live. What higher purpose would we like to have?

 

We may not be able to control everything in life but we are very much able to test our limits to do the wonderful things in life. For example, now when I moved house, I have a different scenery when I look out of the window. This new image inspires me to dream about new habits, such as the habit of taking action and implementing one of my dreams.

 

Reframing the reality

 

Change does bring in some moments that we actually love. Let those moments sink into your soul. For example, when moving to another country, there may be something that you love experiencing in the new culture. And when faced with another round of groundlessness, when you believe everything in your life goes wrong, it’s beneficial to remember to be hopeful about what we haven’t lived yet.

 

Adjust the expectations

 

After managing a life change, celebrate yourself for going through whatever it was thrown at you. Make a mental map of the skills you’ve developed. Enjoy observing how the respective skills are now part of you. In hindsight, look upon sensitive moments with humour. Appreciate the people who have been by your side. However, don’t expect to be well-prepared for the next change. Just trust yourself that when the change forges into your life, you’ll be able to tap into your inner wisdom again and tackle the change, one step at a time.  

 

Living carefree

 

Normally, we have the tendency to worry. There is no limit how much a human being could worry. Someone like myself, living in Helsinki, may worry on a sunny day that in the next hour the clouds may come and the sun will be out of sight for weeks.

 

Experiencing change may shed light on an important personal decision about how much we want to worry and what are the things it’s worth to worry about.

 

With each and every change, we have the opportunity to get closer to living freely and embracing life with courage.     

 

I’d love to hear from you. What insights did you gain out of experiencing changes in your life?

  

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 

 

The Capacity of Awe in Focus

We are most likely to experience awe when we are faced with a new and unexpected phenomenon, such as thunder, lightning or when we spend time in nature. The emotion of awe has psychological benefits, such as giving us solace in moments of trial. It also has physiological benefits, such as keeping to a healthy level the cytokines, the proteins that help the body cells fight infection. Since feeling awe does wonders to our mind and body, what can help us be more open to awe and what strategies can we adopt to feel awe in our hectic lives?

 

Can you think of a moment when you saw or heard something which was so unimaginable beautiful and breathtaking that your mind entered a state of stillness? Time stopped ticking and you were overwhelmed with wonder and curiosity. Tears in your eyes, you may have even felt like kneeling down in the midst of the uncanny event. This is how an awe-inspiring experience might be.

 

The need for beauty – a story of awe

 

One morning last May, I woke up with the desperate need to see the beauty around me. On the usual way to the playground where I would spend the mornings with my boys, a violet crocus was blooming on the side of the road. My hands hurriedly fumbled for the iPhone in the bag. I asked the boys to wait for three seconds and the first photo of a crocus was joyfully taken.

 

One month later, my husband gave me as a gift a more professional camera which became my best friend. I started making time in my hectic daily life to stroll around in search of stunning flowers of intense colors and mesmerizing perfumes. Those flowers had been there the previous Springs and Summers but I only noticed them last year. It was such an fascinating discovery for me to observe that there are so many types of tulips, with different shapes of petals.

 

The camera lens allowed me to go closer than ever to the soul of flowers. I felt reverence to their perfect and symmetric beauty. I was perplexed at the universal intelligence that can create such beauty. I came back home relaxed and with a big smile on my face.

 

This year, I am much more aware about the beauty of the nature during my usual walks. Flowers, trees, grass, clouds, birds, insects are my companions. Every day, this is a new parade of clouds in the sky. Some flowers wither, some others are ready to blossom. There is life in every one of them and I watch it unfolding.

 

By now, you might have guessed which is my new hobby. I lose track of time when taking photos of flowers. I feel free and connected to some sort of flower sisterhood. I am in awe!     

 

What is Awe and why is it so important?

 

In the Old English, awe was used to express fear and dread. Now, the meaning of awe has evolved to a positive emotion “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear.”, as leading researcher Dacher Keltner describes it. 

 

In collaboration with researcher Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Dacher Keltner carried out a study to find the location of awe in the brain. The participants of the study were shown a series of slides that evoked sensory pleasure, pride, compassion and awe. While the participants viewed the slides, an fMRI scanner was taking photos of their brains.

 

The awe slides activated the left orbitofrontal cortex, which is a brain area that is lit when we are physically touched, when we are involved in a goal-oriented action or when we reflect upon our internal experience from a broader perspective. Therefore, it seems that we are wired for awe and feeling awe may change our perspective upon the world.  

 

Furthermore, research has shown that the experiences of awe can have plenty benefits such as: boost our health, make us live in the present, give us hope and appreciation of life, help us feel connected to nature, create a paradigm-shift, broaden our identity and boost creativity.

 

The challenge is to be open to awe experiences when they present themselves to us. You can be standing in front of the most spectacular rainbow and yet fail to be touched by it because you either are busy to notice it or if you do notice it, you do not savour the awe-feeling because your mind is churning some urgent issues.

 

What makes a person be open to awe?    

In 1930, Albert Einstein wrote in his credo

“ He … who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

 

Einstein believed in awe.

Mary Oliver, the American poet, believed in awe when she wrote:

“Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled—

to cast aside the weight of facts …”

 

Kirk Schneider, humanistic psychologist, believes in awe when he writes in his blog post, Ode to Awe:

“Awe is the God beyond God, the origin and the destination, the expanding question and the expanding answer. It is our humility and wonder before creation; our astonishment before creation.”

I believe in awe and if you are reading this post, it is very likely you also believe in it.

The sources of awe-inspiring experiences

 

In the English Oxford dictionary, awe is

“… caused by profound reverence in the presence of supreme authority, moral greatness or sublimity, or mysterious sacredness.”

As this definition indicates, the belief in awe is rooted in transcendent values such as truth, goodness, and beauty. These three values provide the inner motivation and the need to seek for awe-inspiring experiences in everyday life.

Truth, goodness and beauty are subjective values and precisely the observation of the subjective manifestations of these values can create the awe-inspiring moments in the observer.

Truth

Truth may mean faith in God or in a Higher Power that governs this Universe. Truth may mean the physical laws of the Universe. Truth may mean morality and justice of social system. Truth may mean history and a political ideology. Truth may mean pursuit of our goals.    

This was Einstein’s truth as he writes in his Credo:

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.

 

It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.“

 

What is your truth?

The subjective truth guides our actions, influences our decisions and perceptions on reality. Each moment when we observe a manifestation of our truth could be an awe-inspiring moment.

Goodness

Goodness is the second transcendent value which can be the source of awe-inspiring experiences. You do not have to believe in God in order to believe in goodness. Human beings can essentially be kind, compassionate, empathetic, loving, generous, as studies at the research center Greater Good Science also show it. Goodness refers to all the qualities and virtues that people reflect in their behaviors.  

For Mary Oliver, the dynamics of nature and the love for parents represent goodness, as she warm-heartedly writes in her poem, “Of Goodness”.

“How good

That the clouds travel, as they do,

Like the long dresses of the angels

Of our imagination,

 

Or gather in storm masses, then break

With their gifts of replenishment,

How good it is that we travel from one side of the family to the other

On this Thanksgiving weekend

 

Disappearing fathers on one wing and diminishing mothers on the other

But what I would give to see a teal to deal

With the heartache and the loss

And so on and so on.”

What else does goodness mean to you? Search for goodness in people and when you find it, that goodness will become part of yourself.   

Beauty

Beauty, the third source of awe, involves ideas of taste, aesthetics and passion in nature, art, music, science, technology, etc. The same properties and sounds of an object in nature or in artistic/scientific/technological works can terrify some of us or make some others stand in awe. The encounter with a snake can make some freak-out and run, whereas others may stand still and observe the snake with fascination.

To Einstein’s mind,

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. … To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms— this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.”

 

Beauty may lie in the expression of emotions captured in a poem, a song or a dance.  

Beauty may mean your passions. What are your passions and how living your passions can be awe-inspiring? For example, if you were passionate about mathematics, a novel mathematical formula could be a source of awe.

What else does beauty mean to you? How important is to surround yourself by beauty?

Eventually, beauty lies in anything that touches us deeply and makes us live for.

Creating awe-experiences in everyday life


In everyday life, it is more challenging to live transformative awe-inspiring experiences, like standing on a mountain top – unless we live near-by mountains. Researcher Rick Hanson suggests that 30 seconds of focus on a good fact, such as a cup of coffee, can be extremely efficient to rewire the brain to remember positive emotions. In a similar line of thought, how can we create some space in our everyday life for awe-inspiring moments? Here are four strategies:

Design your home space – The animators at Pixar, an American computer animation studio, have their offices designed as wooden huts or caves, awe-inspiring symbols. How about designing some awe-inspiring corners in your home? What awe-inspiring objects would you put in those corners? Now and then, change the symbols or the places where those symbols are so that your brains can react to the novelty.  

Listen to a video of an influential person you think highly of – YouTube is an abundant source of talks of talented people in different fields of your interest. Recently, I discovered Jason Silva’s channel Shots of Awe, which I listen to whenever I feel the need to be enlivened. How about you? To whom would you like to listen to sparkle your imagination?

Get into a child-like mind – take some moments to be playful. Play with your kids, your partner, your friends. How would you like a drawing game, for example? Chose a photo of a famous person and draw a caricature.  Who has the funniest drawing? You or your kid? If you like cooking, how about arranging creatively the food on the plates for the people who are going to taste the food? If neither drawing not cooking are your cup of tea, there are so many domains out there for you to choose from and get playful. Playfulness shakes off the jadedness and brings to surface the curiosity to investigate further. Surprise yourself!   

Reorganize your daily life – make a list of your values and describe how these values are reflected in your everyday life. There may be some conflicts between some of your values and daily activities. There may be some values that don’t serve you any good and some activities that don’t reflect your deeply held values. Most importantly, be ready to change for the better version of you. What touches you most in your everyday life? How could you explore it closer and more often? How much time would you need for that? What else do you need to carry out your exploration?

According to Protagoras’ myth about the origins of human beings, Zeus endowed humans with the capacity of awe. Therefore, let’s make the most out of this capacity. We wouldn’t want to make Zeus angry, would we?

If you have a personal awe-story, I’d be glad if you shared it with me, at discoveriesinto(at)gmail.com. With your acceptance, I will publish it on my blog. Awe-stories inspire people, so how would you like to inspire someone with your story?       

When toddlers push parents buttons

On a scale from 0 to 10, how satisfied are you with yourself as a parent? What is your reaction when your children have bad tantrums or other crises? We, parents, like any other human beings, may have accumulated negativity and this can be a hindrance to constructive communication with children. Luckily, we can learn to go beyond negativity and help our children grow happy and loving adults, who in their turn can help others.   

“We would like to believe that only a disturbed parent responds in a way that is damaging to a child. Unfortunately, even parents who are loving and well meaning also blame, shame, accuse, ridicule, threaten, bribe, label, punish, preach and moralize.”, Dr. Ginott, Between Parent and Child.

When my second child was born, the elder brother’s jealousy for mother’s attention was sparked. The new baby born is now an active 15-months-old toddler who cries when I hug his brother. The initially simple and crude jealousy manifests in more complex and violent ways. I find myself yelling more often and getting frustrated with the lack of improvement in the interaction between my boys.

“Parenthood is an endless series of small events, periodic conflict, and sudden crises that call for a response. The response is not without consequence: It affects personality and self-regard for better or worse.”, Dr. Ginott, Between Parent and Child

Being a stay-at-home mother, I’ve experienced all too well how fast and how often I need to respond to conflicts between siblings. Inappropriate responses such as my emotionally stirred reaction to the boys’ argument set an undesirable example of how to solve dispute. Furthermore, shouting, threatening or punishing may lead to further frustration in children, and thus the conflicts can become more frequent.

We may want to help our kids understand that it’s perfectly fine to have negative feelings but it’s not fine to shout or hit others around just because we feel bad inside. In order for children to learn how to deal with their negative feelings, they need guidance from us.

The challenge for us parents is to overcome our own emotional unbalance so that we can communicate effectively with our children. The following 8 steps may help in getting in touch with the inner space inside us where there is peacefulness and from where we can connect and talk to our children:

Step 1

Have no expectations that kids will behave as adults (maybe it’s for the best they don’t behave like us). Kids are playful, creative, imaginative and without boundaries. They like eating while standing instead of sitting. They like to jump in pools of water even if they don’t wear the proper shoes. They express awe in a loud voice.

As soon as we become aware of any expectation, it’s best to ignore it, take a deep breath and think to ourselves, “Kids are kids”. This does not mean that we should allow kids any kind of behaviour such as, writing on the walls, jump from the top of the cupboard, or play with knives.

By ignoring the expectations on kids’ behaviour, we avoid moments of unnecessary fury. Instead, we become more creative in explaining what is acceptable and what not.

For example, when my eldest son used to drop water on the floor, I was very much tempted to shout at him “Don’t do that!”. Instead, I said, “There is water on the floor. The water can damage the floor. Let’s wipe it off together.”Did he keep on spilling water on the floor? Yes, many times and I reacted in the same way to him.

Nowadays, he stopped doing that. I don’t know if he understood my explanation. However, in the long run, I hope he understands that there are consequences to our actions and if we make a mess, then we are responsible to clean it up.

Step 2

Expect that anger is unavoidable. In such moments, we may shout something undesirable, such as “If you hit your sister one more time, I’ll pull your hair”. Such statements are threats, which if we don’t keep, then kids learn that we don’t really mean what we say. And if we do really mean what we say, threats become acts of physical violence which can traumatise the children and disturb the wellbeing of the whole family.

Bursting out in anger is unavoidable but anger should NOT be expressed in acts of physical violence. For other ways of expressing anger, such as blaming, labelling, ridiculing or accusing, we can apologise and openly talk about it with our children.

Each time when I become aware that I overreact, I apologise to the boys and explain what is happening. For example, “Mommy didn’t sleep well last night and is a bit tired today.” Apologising shows respect towards the child. At the same time, the child gets the message that shouting is not a constructive solution. Raising the voice does not give us what we want and furthermore, it can hurt the person we’re yelling at.

Step 3

Become aware of our emotional state when interacting with our children. For example, we can be emotionally unbalanced because we just had an argument with our partner. When we turn our attention to our children, we may overreact to what they do or say. We may take the negativity out onto our kids. Awareness can help us disconnect from the negative emotions and tune into our children inner lives. They will feel the connection and they’ll feel safe to be next to mommy or daddy.

Step 4

Increase awareness of the present moment. When we feel the anger is taking control, it’s time to start taking deep breaths. If the tension is still at its peak, verbalize what we feel about the particular crisis. For example, “I am so angry because you pushed your brother”. When the fury is fading away, I usually turn towards the toddler and ask him to forgive his brother.

A crisis is a good opportunity to teach important values to children. For example, I want to make sure that my boys will eventually understand that violence against another human being is not accepted. Since neither boy can talk articulately, I can’t expect them to explain in words what feeling drives them to resort to violence. The best guess is that it is the jealousy. But what if it isn’t that? What if there is something else that one of siblings did and the response comes under the form of hitting?

Instead of guessing and going on and lecturing based on what my guess is, I chose to state only that it is not allowed to hit each other.In addition to non-violent behaviour, there may be other values that we may want to share with our children and our behaviour and communication should reflect those values (i.e.,love, forgiveness, etc).

Step 5

Let empathy towards our children shine through the anger. If we want to understand something about our children, we’d better focus on questioning why they behave the way they do and not on what they do. When there is physical violence between siblings, being empathic can help us see the conflict from both kids’ perspective: from the perspective of the child who hits and from the perspective of the child who is hit. What is the reason for which a child hits his sibling? How does he feel hitting his sibling? How does a child feel when is hit by his sibling?

Step 6

Set up a strategy to follow in moments of crises. Even if we may not always be able to put it into practice, at least we can keep it in our minds to help us keep calm.

For now when my kids are at the toddler and pre-school age, the strategy for handling bad tantrums consists of three steps: 1. I explain why I can’t grant a particular wish, i.e., eat chocolate for breakfast. 2. When the heartbreaking cry starts, breathing helps to calm myself down. Words are unnecessary. The kid can’t listen because he wants one thing only – to have his wish granted. 3. Maintain eye contact once in a while and look compassionately at the child. When the storm is over, he asks for milk, which is always granted to him as a sign that we made peace.

 

With every new situation, we take stand based on what feels natural to us. But it also has to be an attitude from which our children can feel that they are understood. Think about how you feel when you tell to your partner that you’d like to buy a dress but it’s slightly expensive. How would you like your partner to react? Would you like him to say, “Honey, I think we have enough expenses already, forget about the dress.”, or, “I would also want to buy loud speakers, so let’s both buy whatever we want”, or “I wish I could buy that dress for you. I am sure you would look gorgeous! Maybe next month, you can buy it.”.

When feeling understood, children, like adults, feel loved. They become thus empowered to find acceptable solutions to manage their lives. They learn to be responsible for the choices they make.

Step 7

Spend short moments of daily relaxation. It is crucial to relax daily during short breaks and gain the much needed emotional balance and patience. It can be more efficient to relax 10 minutes every 2 hours than wait for that one evening in the week when we can go to a Pilates class or for a coffee with a friend.

I don’t know what can help you relax, but as far as I am concerned, meditation is a good way of creating inner space. The method of relaxation is less important, the effect matters – that of creating inner peacefulness. We can thus become more patient when bad tantrums come out of a blue.

For a few weeks already, I started doing a daily 10 minutes meditation focused on nature’s beauty. It is a project I plan to carry on for half of a year. I will share the details in the following blog post for anyone who may be interested in this type of meditation.

Step 8

Dedicate time and effort for the development of parental abilities so that we can keep up with the developmental stages of our children. For example, I find parental self-help books on how to communicate with kids to be sources of inspiration that provide new perspectives to parenting. Talking with other parents about how to become better parents, writing a diary of the most tensed moments with our kids, etc, may helps us expand our consciousness as parents and build bridges to our children hearts.

When the next moment of crises comes, let’s all do a small exercise. First, think how the situation may look through the eyes of our children. Second, how would we want to be treated if we were the child in that situation.

I wish to you a meaningful journey of parenthood!

Lessons of Motherhood

On my 37th birthday, I came to realize the importance of shifting from the “me and myself” thinking to “us” thinking for the wellbeing of the family. When small personal expectations are not met due to unexpected events of the present moment, inner conflict arises. Despite that, if we allow ourselves to express the love we feel for the family, before we know it, we are back to inner balance.

Daydreaming

I’ve recently turned 37 years. My husband rented a boat and we went off sailing around the archipelago of Helsinki till sunset. We enjoyed the serenity of the still dormant nature of March in Helsinki. We had some white wine and blue cheese while sharing whatever thoughts budded in our minds. We danced salsa and played board games.

As a matter of fact, the related events are but mere imagination.

The reality

Being a family with two small kids, we had a silent agreement that we would focus the energy on our boys. Our family of four spends most of the free time together. Yet somewhere deep inside, I was hoping that my birthday or my husband’s would be spent with a tiny bit of focus on ourselves also.

 

The morning of my 37th birthday followed after a bad night’s sleep. Yet, the joy of life surmounted the sleepiness when my hubby informed that he’s taking the day off to spend it together with me and the boys. The first half of the day was spent at an indoors playground, where we were switching between the two boys. On way back home, I was thinking which tasty dish we would have for dinner while our boys would be sleeping like angels.

 

Hardly did we arrive home when our youngest son started crying. With every scream of help, my soul was overcast by worry. The face of our baby was furrowed by pain and we were watching helplessly. Half an hour later, which felt like an eternity, we figured out what the problem was. One hour later, our baby felt better but I was in an emotional blockage.

 

I was doing my best though to fake an “Everything is fine” smile to the boys. My hubby gave me a heartfelt hug while whispering, “You must feel awful now!”

Lessons of a meaningful moment

My birthday may not have been a day of celebration and romance, yet it was a day that showed to me the power of love and living meaningfully. I would not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world, but right there, in our flat, holding our baby in the arms during his moments of pain. I felt lost for not being able to find a rapid cure for his ailment. I felt guilty for ever thinking to put him earlier to bed so I can enjoy the birthday evening solely with his father. Most of all, I felt how my love was soothing him despite the pain. And this was a remarkable feeling!

 

As for our marriage, the love that we feel for each other has been expressed differently since we became parents. We passed the stage of salsa parties (where we met) or walking under the moonlight. We are at the stage of supporting each other in parenting the best we can. We certainly miss being just the two of us. However, we are aware we are at this stage when we have to wait for our turn to have a hug. The little ones are first in line.

 

It became clear to me that at this stage, living meaningfully means giving up on any other plans of enjoyment or must-do errands and be present with the whole being when our children need us the most.

 

Every new day may bring unexpected challenges for our family – i.e., the entire family waiting in the emergency room. Facing such challenges while finding new ways to express love strengthen the family bonds. The challenge remains a memory upon which we look back and say heartedly, “We did it together!”

 

How about you? What changed in your life after becoming a parent and how do you feel about it?

 

PS. On the 4th of March 2014, our second baby was born. I am still at home with both boys. Being a mom is the toughest job I ever got and the most meaningful at the same time. I feel lucky to be the mother of two wonderful boys who make me want to be a better person. Each day is a storm of emotions, such as love, empathy, joy, anger, irritation, frustration, etc. At the end of the day, there is the feeling of contentment for spending a full day together when I discover new faces of the boys’ personalities.

 

I will continue writing on my blog each time I get some time on my own. Considering how our life has been so far, the most realistic scenario is once a month. I hope you’ll enjoy the new posts! :)   

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