A tiny bit of nostalgia can’t be that bad

We wouldn’t be human beings if we didn’t feel nostalgic once in a while. We easily miss the present by getting lost in the memories of the good old times. Undoubtedly, we need to learn how to stay present to our daily experiences in order to discover the authenticity and depth of the surrounding reality. I wonder though if a tad of nostalgia can help us be more prepared to live the present?


I believe in the healing effects of mindfulness. By learning how to stay focused on the task at hand, we can become more aware of our emotions and improve our wellbeing.

One mindfulness technique is to focus on the breathing in our body whenever we feel we lose touch with what’s going on at the moment.

For example, whenever I realise I am too much into my thoughts and don’t cherish the presence of my toddler, I take a deep breath, I leave aside any other task I  might be doing and delve into playing with him.

His laughter is melting my heart. I feel blessed for sharing that moment with him.

Yet, there are moments when nostalgia kicks in and I let it be.

Nostalgia is human

I want to feel the “don’t forget the loved ones” type of nostalgia.

It’s my way of keeping in the heart the people whom I dearly loved once but who passed away. I indulge myself in the past where I can still see their faces and hear their voices.

It was a sunny day, one of the first days of late Spring, as it usually is in Helsinki. I was with my toddler at the playground and I started a game of the mind. I imagined how they would play with him.

My grandfather would have played hide and seek with him.

My uncle would have cracked some jokes and did a few hocus-pocus tricks.

My grandmother would have just waited for us with some pancakes when we returned from the playground.

Sometimes, the past and present are one

Where were we? Ah, on the playground, my son is playing in the sand.

The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, compensating with some cold, for the warmth of the sun rays.

Without the past, we wouldn’t have the present. Thanks to the people who loved us once, we have a frame of reference for loving in the present.

Nostalgia awareness

I believe that it does good to us to invite the past in the present every now and then. In my case, nostalgia comes with a precious reminder that love is the only thing which is eternal. I received it in abundance, now it’s my time to pass it on.

It does good to us to travel back in time as long as we are able to maintain a faithful memory about the past. If we are truthful to the past, we can tell better how we turned into who we are today. And we’ll feel more comfortable about who we are today.

We were not perfect back then. We are not perfect now. But we can try to become the best that we can be.


How about you? Do you get nostalgic often? How faithful recollection of the past do you believe you have?


I am not ready yet

When the natural rhythm of life is disturbed by acts of violence, terrorism or forces of nature, the humanity in us wakes up. We feel for the victims, we weep for them, we may even say a prayer for them. At the same time, the tragedy is a wake up call for our tendency to procrastinate living fully.

The Boston explosion

On Monday, the 15th of April, the marathon runners in Boston were the victims of two bomb explosions, which took place in the proximity of the finish line.

Three people were killed and more than 100 injured, as New York Times reports.

The breaking news gave chills down on my spine. I avoided seeing images from the carnage. It was hard enough to read the report.

Pretend you were there in the midst of the smoke and panic

Imagine being one of the marathon runners. You happily participate in the annual event that is supposed to be a celebration of the Spring when you get caught in the middle of a blast.

Suddenly the only thing that matters is survival.

You may have been in a relationship where you felt you couldn’t get too involved. Or, you were waiting for the other one to commit.

You may have been eagerly waiting for the newly appointed manager, who as the rumours has it, has better people skills than the former.

You may have been trying to have a baby.

You may have been excited to get to pension so that you can finally do whatever you want with your time.

Then, the explosion comes from a garbage can and changes your life for ever. Ready or not, you need to cope with the consequences. Maybe you lost one leg.

Why are we waiting?

For those of us who only read or heard on the news about it, the Boston explosion should make us reflect upon what is going on in our lives at the moment. Hopefully, most of us will realise that our life is great just the way it is.

Yet, some of us may want to start working on the list of pending personal projects.

Do we want to … start writing a diary?

… renovate the kitchen?

… lose weight?

… travel to a remote destination?

… learn how to tango?

… study for an MBA?

… find the soulmate?

Then, what are we waiting for? What holds us back to take action?

Is it that we are afraid of the unknown? Of what the loved ones might say? Or of failure?

Are we waiting for the right time and place? What does that mean anyway?

It is true that when it comes to big life changing events, such as finding the soulmate, it is not quite up to us. There is the will of the Universe, which decides the right place and time when it happens.

But this does not mean that meanwhile we can just stare at the moon each night, sighing with longing.

We need to go out there and look for the right one, for example, at the gym or while walking the dog.

The Boston bombing is yet another tragic illustration that our life ends in the split of a second.

Most of us are not ready for that second, but when it does come, the least we can do is to have no regrets.

How about you? How many times in your life did you feel that you are not YET ready to make small or big changes? Did you take any actions eventually and what made you do that?

Negative feedback – an opportunity for personal growth

In professional relationships, the purpose of negative feedback is to help the person receiving it to improve specific skills. For example, part of a language teacher’s job is to test the students’ proficiency in spoken and written language. Most of the people I know are uncomfortable with being criticised, so how can we manage our emotions resulting from negative feedback and focus on the information content of the criticism?

Working towards a common goal

Both the person giving the feedback and the person receiving the feedback play an important role for the effective communication of the content of the feedback. In an ideal world, the person who criticises should be aware of giving the feedback in such a way that the other person does not lose the motivation to improve.

Assessing someone’s work is not strictly about the technical mistakes but also about the non-verbal communication, which if it was to be translated into words should sound like, “It is not the end of the world to make mistakes. I am here to help you work on them.”

It feels good to be the expert

One must be acknowledged as an expert or as a superior in order to be in the position to assess someone else’s work. Being in a power position, one may think that there is no time to consider the impact that the feedback might have on the emotional state of the person receiving it.

And if the emotions are reflected on the face of the person being criticised, some people may even enjoy giving the negative feedback in a harsh way.

Remember to believe in yourself

Receiving negative feedback can have a detrimental effect on self-confidence and motivation.

For example, when the teacher says, “Your essay contains major grammar mistakes.”, the information content of the feedback can be overshadowed by the pair of eyes looking daggers at you.

In that instant, say to yourself, “I am allowed to make mistakes!”

Negative feedback could be given with style

By paying attention to the tone of voice and the choice of words, it can be possible to give negative feedback in a neutral or even friendly manner. If you are the CEO who assesses the performance of the marketing manager, or a language teacher assessing the essay of a 12 years old boy, a friendly behaviour can make it easier to receive the feedback.

If the words convey a feeling of support, it is easier for the person being criticised to commit to improving. The giver of feedback will know that the feedback is well received when questions are asked and further steps for improvement are discussed.

The positive side of the negative feedback

In the end, receiving negative feedback can be the source of more creative ideas about the work we do. It helps us come up with something new and better in our work.

Criticism is a reminder that we are doing a good job and we can do it even better!

How do you deal with negative feedback? You are welcome to share with us in the field for comments.


When expecting from others, remember the joy of not expecting

Expectations on others can put lots of pressure both on ourselves and the ones we expect from. Even the expectations backed up by good intentions, such as “I am sure you’ll pass the exam.”, can cause more stress than calm to the person we want to support. Have you ever wondered how the lack of any expectations – implicit or explicit – can influence our relationships?

Expectations since early childhood

I don’t remember having any expectations as a child but my parents do. My aunt was one of the persons from whom, I was told, I expected gifts.

They fondly relate that I used to fumble in her bag for bars of chocolate. I don’t have any such recollection but what I do remember is the anticipation of the 18-year old girl who was about to start her student life.

Sixteen years later, I became aware of how much anguish, stress and frustrations originated from expectations on family members, friends, acquaintances and even strangers!

After turning 30, epiphany stroke – something must be done about expectations on others

It was high time to let people be as they want to be. For example, have you felt how enriching it is to pay attention to the true nature of those who are present in our lives? Setting them free from our expectations is an invitation to harmony in the relationships with our husbands, wives, parents, siblings etc.

It was high time for changing the way of communicating with others. Being in touch with our own emotions, clearing our head and speaking with the heart brings more authenticity in the relationships.

It’s true that for most of us, interacting with others without expecting anything from them is a goal which is hard, if not impossible to reach. Yet, even those of us who are overly stubborn and addicted to micromanagement can develop the habit of becoming aware of our expectations and ignore them.

Cultivate the joy of interacting with others

We can replace expectations with joy. The joy of communicating freely with another person without any constraints of the mind. For example, greeting our new neighbour cheerfully and ignoring the expectation that he/she invites us to their home warming party.

Joyous attitude brings along wonderful changes in our inner lives. Joy can transform us from being a fortress of expectations into an explorer of people, with their good and bad sides.

How about you? What’s your take on expectations on others? Feel free to express your point of view in the comments below the post.