Look Inwards, Act Outwards

Personal growth happens from the point where we can be at peace with difficult questions, with thoughts that are troubling us, from the moment we can celebrate good qualities without the rise of ego. It happens when we allow the space to apply certain methods to find out what our passion and mission is.

In the words of Antoine de St. Exupery “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” One needs to be willing to put in the time and effort to identify those aspects connected to one’s passion, mission, vocation and profession and proceed with consistent planning.

Genuine answers don’t often come when we are busy, running, stressing out and feeling exhausted, but from the place of inner balance and calm.

Apart from this, a crucial aspect is to be able to look outside yourself, to be outwards oriented.

To know your life purpose, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I do?
  3. Who do I do it for?
  4. What do these people want or need?
  5. What they get out of it, what changed as a result?

Here’s what you can do to make the process easier: don’t overthink, be honest, don’t judge, it’s OK if you are still working on some aspects and you are on work in progress. We are never done with learning.

Having a sense of purpose is an essential requirement to be driven and fulfilled. The important people in life, those whom we rely on and who rely on us, whom we love, cherish, respect constantly help refine our sense of purpose and connection.

Photo credits: Joey Kyber@unsplash

Know Your Passion To Lead a Happier Life

Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have. To access and manifest the best version of ourselves, we first need to look inside with honesty and apply careful and persistent effort. Learning as much as we can about our passion and mission in life is directly related to the amount of happiness we experience.

The quest for self, the “why am I here?”, “what is the reason for being?” never gets out of fashion. If we begin with asking ourselves “why am I here?” – we might not get too far. Instead, here is a simpler and a more structured way to start:

Ask yourself and write down the answers to the following questions:

1) What you Love (it helps identify your Passion)

2) What the World Needs (it helps identify your Mission)

3) What you are Good at (it helps identify your Vocation)

4) What you can get Paid for (it helps identify your Profession)

Then, you can answer some additional questions to help you get more detailed answers about yourself:

1) What do you Love? What aspects of your life bring you into your heart and make you feel most alive?

2) What are you Great at? What unique skills do you have that come most naturally to you? What talents have you cultivated and what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying?

3) What Cause do you believe in? What change would you most love to create in the world? What would you give your life for?

4) What do people Value and pay you for? What service, value or knowledge do you bring? Something that people need and are happy to pay for or share some value in exchange.

Keep the list close and update it each time you feel like you discovered something new about yourself or connected with what you already know. The answers usually reveal when we are in the flow and engaged completely in what we are doing. Look back with honesty and identify these moments in your life.

Doing this will help refine your focus, attention and be more selective with your time and what you engage in. Allow less time and space for activities that take away your energy and do more of what gives you the positive energy. Don’t be afraid of failure. You won’t know if something is rewarding unless you’ve tried it. Life is made by our daily choices and habits, not predetermined. Knowing your mission and passion will bring more happiness and joy on daily basis.

Photo credits: Jenna Anderson on Unsplash

What is really going on with addiction?

The first thing that comes to my mind when seeing the word addiction, is drugs. On a second glance, I associate it with alcohol, cigarettes, sex or sugar. What is really addiction all about?

According to the Webster’s Dictionary, addiction is the “compulsive NEED for and USE of a habit-forming substance (heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; a persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”

Yet, most addicted people use no drugs at all. Moreover, addiction cannot be understood if we restrict our vision of it to substances, be they legal or illegal.

Beyond drugs

In fact, addiction is manifested in any behaviour that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in, but suffers negative consequences as a result of. Yet, the person has difficulty giving up, accompanied by effects such as craving, relief, pleasure, suffering, impaired control, violence and more.

Therefore, the definition of addiction goes beyond drugs or alcohol, it stretches across any human behavior, from sex to eating, shopping, gambling, extreme sports, TV and compulsive internet use – the list is endless.

Addiction is neither a choice nor a disease, but originates in a human attempt to solve a problem: the problem of emotional pain, overwhelming stress, lost connection, loss of control, deep discomfort with the self.

Treating addiction or pain?

Testimonies show, without failure,  what addiction compensates for: “It helped me escape emotional pain… helped me deal with stress… gave me peace of mind… a sense of connection with others… a sense of control… a sense of power”.

Hence, addition is one aspect of the urge to stop the pain. To treat the addiction, which is a symptom, without treating the pain underneath means to deal with effects rather than its causes, prolonging cycles of suffering, ruining lives.

Often childhood trauma is associated with addiction.  Not necessarily horrific events, but any event that imposes more pain on the child than his or her sensitive being can process. Any failure to respond to the need to be seen, held, heard, made to feel secure. And each of us has an inner child.

“Trauma has become so commonplace, that most people don’t even recognize its presence.” Peter Levine

Developing connection: an example from Portugal

Connection, belonging, safety can be learned and accepted as opposite to the addiction. Hence, developing healthy interpersonal connections as a part of recovery and healing is not easy, but it generates the desired sustainable life changes compared to approaches based solely on isolation and medication.

A story of success is Portugal and how the country chose to handle the situation with drugs differently,  in a way that can help people, one at a time. For 40 years the authoritarian regime of António Salazar imposed measures to keep the population docile. In the 70’s Portugal opened to new experiences, including marijuana and heroin, however in 2001 it became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances.

It led to a cultural shift, where health services, psychiatrists, employers, housing services started to work together to serve the communities, saving one individual at a time. The country’s policy rests on three pillars: 

(1) There’s no such thing as a soft or hard drug, only healthy and unhealthy relationships with drugs;

(2) Individual’s unhealthy relationship with drugs often conceals a lack of  relationships and support of loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves;

(3) The eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal.

There is no one-size-fits-all or universal solution, just the daily search for balance, inner peace, diversity,  connection and meaning.

Sources:

https://drgabormate.com/opioids-universal-experience-addiction/

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201509/the-opposite-addiction-is-connection

 

Photo credits: Emily Lau @unsplash

What We Can Do With A Sense Of Awareness

A realization that comes with an age is that we don’t get a second chance at the days that go by. Have you ever felt that you move through your life like a sleepwalking person, feeling demotivated and drained? How to cope with that and how to make the most of each moment that we experience? The answer is awareness.

Once we realize that we are endowed with a sense of awareness, we see how it can greatly support our life purpose and passion. Moreover, we are better prepared and  able to cope with the challenges that life gives to us. Here are some tips that may help put you on the right track of understanding some aspects of life, and hence staying more aware in day-to-day situations: 

1) Know that highs and lows are a part of a life and accept it

Life seems to constantly move towards a greater complexity. The secret to happiness is to spend more time in appreciation of life in all instances, no matter if they seem positive or negative at first glance: hunger, inspiration, loss of someone, making decisions and facing the reality of what we really want. Observe your feeling in those situations and stay aware, realizing that each situation comes to prepare you for even greater challenges in the future. 

2) Let go the fear of  time

We often hear that there was not enough time or simply we did not know what to do, we wanted something and did not have the courage to get it or did not see the way to achieve a certain goal.

It is not that there is no time, it is more that we sometimes take too long to start something. We can experience a fear of missing out or the pressure to make a decision. Know that difficult decisions can lead to a happy life, and easy decisions can lead to a miserable life.

3) Know that clarity is power

To have clarity, one needs to be aware; aware and clear on what we want to achieve: in personal life, in our bodies, in our relationships, at work, in our career.

Why? Knowing the reason gives you motivation. It’s not easy, life is not easy, there will be obstacles. Yet, knowing the reason and motivation gives you the drive to make it happen.

When you have a sense of awareness, you can easily channel your energy towards what matters. Energy goes where our thoughts go.

Ask yourself: how can I nourish myself in the next hour, in the next day so that I build up the life that I want and  deserve.

What we can do with a sense of awareness is serving our life purpose, allowing ourselves to experience a change from inside out and making the most of each moment that we are blessed with.

 Photo credit: TN NGUYEN@nguyentrungnguyen

 

The Top 5 Regrets To Avoid for a Happier Life

Have you ever wondered if there is something you could learn in this moment of your life; if there is a source of wisdom you could access by connecting with those who are your seniors that could give you some advice on how to save your time, energy and prevent you from repeating the same mistakes?

One way to do it is to go through the top 5 regrets that people express as they reach the end of their lives:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself

It is important that on everyday life you accept yourself as you are in the present moment, get in touch with your feelings as often as needed, listen to your inner talk, be honest, forgive yourself, and feed your curiosity.

Then, dream big and know your heart’s true desire, – and the path will reveal.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

Stress, burn out, feeling overworked and underpaid from taking on too many responsibilities is the cause of many stress-related illnesses. In order to maintain work-life balance, set appropriate boundaries and intentionally look for a career and a position that will allow you to make a good living and enjoy your life.

Health brings freedom and a multitude of possibilities, so use it right. Money is not the goal, but the means to fulfil your desires.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

What we feel but don’t manifest is often not fulfilled. Bitterness and resentment affect both the mind and the body. Here are some steps to get the courage to express your feelings: clarify your intentions, consider the risks and benefits involved, take accountability for your own emotions, start small and practice regularly, respect others and keep a positive attitude.

4I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

It has been proven that the quality of our relationships with others will dictate our level of happiness. Wondering what you need to do to stay in touch with friends often? Call them, set weekly reminders, meet regularly, contact close friends in times of “crisis”, be present on important occasions, find ways to show appreciation and know when to say “sorry”.

5I wish I allowed myself to be happier

Here’s what you can do to be happy every day: wake up early and plan your day, prioritise your health, make time for regular meals and being outdoors, learn something new, declutter – social media included, spend time with your loved ones and do something nice for yourself every day.

Happiness is a choice. Feeling comfortable in patterns that keep you miserable shuts the door to happiness.

Be bold and set compelling goals that are motivating. Take time to get a clear vision of what it is you would like to achieve and try to see yourself in 5 years, having achieved all these goals. Imagine yourself having accomplished your goals in bright colours and fine details, turn up the volume and hear the excitement in other people’s voices. Keeping yourself busy, motivated, surrounded by the right people leaves no space for regret.

Photo credits: Leon Liu@unsplash.com

How To Program Your Mind For Success?

Our time and energy in this life is limited. A person can spend a great deal of time worrying and doubting, especially when feeling stuck. This way, one would end up wasting a lot of time, often not realizing that the solution is to channel the willpower, to start with one thing, then slowly build it up. How to make sure that the time we spend here is not wasted? A lot depends on how we program our mind and what we feed our mind with. Here are some techniques to help you.

1) Check your habits

What we feed our mind is what creates the patterns according to which we operate; it determines the life and passion that we experience at each given moment. This leads us to the rate of success and happiness that we enjoy through our life.

In order to take control of this, we need to start by checking our habits. Are they taking us to the path of success and happiness? Let’s remember, that though we are endowed with the awareness to feel the weight of negative patterns, we also have the ability to rise and make our dreams come true by putting a conscious effort into patterns that we are creating. Ask yourself: how can I nourish myself in the next hour, in the next day so that I build the life I want and deserve?

2) Visualize success

Visualisation is a powerful technique that allows to picture and project ourselves where we wish to be to the greatest detail. We can grasp that feeling, use the energy we get from it to make it happen.

Make a conscious choice to give yourself time out. Walk in nature, cherish the moments that give an opportunity to disconnect from everything that is distracting and preventing you to be completely honest with yourself. Create your own rituals to start and end the day. Make time for meditation as often as you can. As you work with your willpower and attention, especially in meditation, you will notice the length of time, attention and concentration varying. As time expands, you will come to a point where you can feel comfortable and enjoy  longer practice sessions which give you the chance to sink in and touch the depths of what visualisation has to offer.

3) Be bold and imagine your own funeral

A bold exercise is to imagine your own funeral. Imagine walking into a room. Inside the room are your friends and family. And as you walk into the room, you see a box. You realise that you are in the box and it’s the day of your funeral. What kind of things do you want people to remember about the life you lived, about the kind of person you were, about the things you did and the way you made them feel when they were around you?

4) Empower your thoughts

You have the power to take control over your thoughts. Use the energy you save here for doing good. Replace the negative thoughts with those that support you. No one can do it for you, you are alone in this. Start to move towards your goal: visualise it, imagine it happening, feel it happening right now. Get clear on what you want to see happening and your life will change. You are worth it! A happy life is not an accident, and you can make it happen.

Whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself or your plans and abilities, replace it with something wholesome.

5) Dig into yourself

Everyone has the opportunity, the right and the obligation to be happy.  What do you love doing? What can you do about it? Where are the people with similar ideas?

We are versions of many possibilities. And definitely more than the sum of our thoughts. Be aware of what the mind is telling you and ask yourself if it helps you become the person you want to be.

Conclusion

Every day is a new chance. You can get your mind to figure out where you want to be, what you need to do to achieve it, why it means something for you and then program your mind to do it. It is often that what you’ve been postponing  to do is the place where to start, the game changer. The one that can break the rut. The one that helps you start the day with fresh energy. You can program your mind for success.

“Owning your story and loving yourself through that process is the bravest thing that you’ll ever do.” (Brené Brown)

  • To learn more about visualising your own funeral see Michael Gerber The E-Myth Revisited
  • Photo credits: Vasilios Muselimis@unsplash

Do I See Myself From The Right Angle?

How to stand your ground when you feel you have lost yourself?

Or when you are sitting and wandering why this is happening to me, why I can’t be free from the pestering thoughts. Let’s all take a deep breath and a step backward!

When we are sitting too close, we often can’t see the whole picture. Some aspects can be seen and understood only from the right angle. Same as in Hans Holbein’s anamorphosis* The Ambassadors (1533).

Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors. Photo source: http://bit.ly/2rCsc3a

Meditation often inspires positive traits such as focus, clarity, willpower, empowerment and deep trust in individual capabilities and success towards what we commit to. How understanding ourselves goes hand in hand with the right type of meditation?

Through our lives, even in the course of a single day things can change and a person can go through a wide range of emotions. Meditation helps see more clearly and identify the dominant traits we are aware of. The ability to put a label on how we feel is empowering. The complicated mind can find comfort when it’s able to recognise itself.

Finding the right word and recommended meditation technique is validating and helps feel cool and collected. Here are some traits and the corresponding meditation technique that is recommended when we experience a certain kind of mind:

  • An indulgent mind – is helped by the recollection of the body, starting the meditation in the body
  • An irritable mind – by practicing loving kindness meditation
  • An oblivious mind – relying on the breath helps
  • A doubtful mind – relying on the breath
  • A susceptible mind – can go back to being at peace with the exercise of making a reflection of values
  • A questioning mind – the recollection of peace is more than reassuring

The above is just a quick mapping, try not to get too caught up in the technique and enjoy the process.

“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” Randy Armstrong


*anammorphosis – a distorted projection or drawing which appears normal when viewed from a particular point or with a suitable mirror or lens.

Featured Image photo source: http://bit.ly/2E5fhtc

How Nature Can Inspire Some Habits

I have been observing the curious life of meditators for a certain number of years. From the journals of people who are writing their daily thoughts and experiences, I have come to notice that we often feel motivated to pay attention to the patterns arising in the mind, the quality of our inner talk and learning how to access the feeling of a mind that is settling down and, at the same time, be less patient with our bodies, the connection between the way we feel physically and how far we can get, mentally.

A meditator can patiently wait for hours for the mind and thoughts to settle down and have the feeling of inner calm restored in the process, yet be less tolerant with a back pain, cold, sleepiness creeping in at the end of a long day.

In the words of Alan Harrington “We must never forget that we are cosmic revolutionaries, not stooges conscripted to advance a natural order that kills everybody.”

Health is wealth and for that to be attained or maintained we must honour the nature in ourselves.

One of the best things we can do for our health is to fill ourselves with fresh air and leave aside the city hassle as often as we can.

I am not talking about the-once-a-year big get-away in the heart of nature or a retreat in an isolated place, but rather about making time to be in nature as often as we can.

In the past year, I feel nature has taught me a lot and there is much more to explore. 

From overcoming laziness to getting an early start for the day and spending time in the quietness of the forest at least 4 – 5 times a week.

Changing the weekend routine from sorting out things I did not have time to deal with during the week, shopping, eating out and catching up with friends to hiking from sunrise to sunset and sharing a lunch box with friends out of wifi reach and preferably somewhere at high altitude. From relying on my phone to tell me how to get to places to paying attention to the landscape, mentally recording landmarks so that I would be able to make my way back, learning about the clouds and the direction and intensity of the wind so that I would be able to tell which way I’d need to move to be out of storm’s reach.

The rules of nature are clear and nature respects everyone. Nature is welcoming and it makes space for all the plants and the trees, allowing all projects to grow and to flourish so that when one does not work out, not all is lost and the soil is not barren. I often feel that the rate of personal success and growth depends on clarifying our goals and the habits that support us. Nothing is lost and everything can be re-purposed. 

Two years ago, I have written about health and how peace starts on our plate.

photo source @seanafnan

Eat Well. Live Well

food body mind

I have to confess I have been on a journey of self search and self realization for some time now. It started and is still unfolding as a gradual awakening- mostly to reality, of becoming a little more conscious of aspects of myself, of how all is interconnected and one does not live as an isolated self sufficient cell. It started as a quest journey of inner peace and in recent years it began to manifest more on the outside. Continue reading “Eat Well. Live Well”