Beyond Happiness, Above Rainbow

I remember way back while in high school, I would get sick just from worrying. I had a harsh inner critic that challenged most of the things I did and planned to do. It was very easy for me to appreciate and admire others but seldom did I find anything I did good enough. Even when people praised me for something I did, it didn’t make me feel any better or less depressed. This negativity that plagued me affected every aspect of my life and eventually I would go to sleep hoping to wake up in the skin of someone I admired. Often I would imagine myself chasing happiness like it is a rainbow, hoping to catch it―wear it round my neck like a shawl against self-loathing―then live happily ever after.

Most people can attest to have experienced depression, stress or anxiety at some point in life. It is the silent ail of humanity no one bothers to talk about because unlike cancer, it is not visual―maybe not as deadly―but this is a misconception. Daily we search for happiness. It is our human nature to do so, but too often, we get lost on our journey to finding it, habitually due to expectations from family, friends, work and relationships.  In an effort to please everyone we lose our focus and in the process; lose ourselves. To which I would say “There is no greater tragedy!”

In the words of Steve Jobs: “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader, sell ice cream!”

In our quest for social validation, we shift our attention to material possessions. We fill our wardrobes with designer clothes and shoes; get a fleet of cars, amass academic diplomas, get married, have kids, tick off every item in society’s happiness checklist. Still, we lack inner peace, that little ingredient that makes life valuable.

Because we are here to live our best lives, we owe it to ourselves to live consciously and deliberately and most importantly, wean ourselves from the delusion that happiness is a destination because it is not. Happiness is an infinite journey with beautiful surprises, it is you when you free yourself from worry and fear; it is you when you realize that your happiness depends solely on you. That is when you do not need to chase the rainbow anymore; – it is always there!

Photo by Leo Wieling on Unsplash

Small Things To Be Thankful For

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

In today’s society, people generally capitalize on the importance of things that are huge. We regularly see in the media people praise celebrities for donating a large amount of money, yet they don’t think to thank the person in front of us in line who is giving a dollar. Because it has become the norm to believe: the more massive something is, the better something is. If someone opens the door for you, you say “thank you” and might think they have to open the door to be polite, but no one has to do anything for you. Saying “thank you” for complimenting a person can literally make someone’s day a whole like better. It makes them feel as valid as a person, and everyone wants to feel valid.

Another thing is being thankful for what you have. Instead of complaining about not having a specific item or person you would like to be in your life, be grateful for what you currently have because, in all honesty, you would be worse off without it. Be thankful for the people you have in your life because socializing is an essential need for human beings. It will help you treasure the smaller things, and you will know what to do when you get bigger things. Because you need to realize that there is a power in more minor items. The one dollar that was donated could be about to change the amount from $99 to $100.

Fresh Start

For starters create a pro and con list for the smaller things you usually complain about. For example, the old car that you bought might not have air conditioner, but at least you don’t have to stand at the bus stop waiting for the bus to arrive. With creating the pro and con list for each small item you might find out that there is the proper usage of the elements more than you thought.

Look Around

Also, be realistic – if you have a problem, find an alternative to fix it. Defeat the whole if it’s not exactly a particular item, then there is no use being thankful for it. My older twin sister believes that she can’t do her artwork as high as she thinks with low price range art items. Not only is that ungrateful, but very problematic because it shifts away from the main focus. Don’t get wrapped up in the norm of the more prominent or, the more expensive because there are beautiful adventures in things that are considered small.

Low Self-Esteem: A Handicap to our Mind’s Stillness?

Self-esteem is a healthy state of mind, whereby we value the person we are and the activities that we do; we cherish and positively view ourselves as normal and capable. It confers a good self-image and allows to lead a happy life, free from self-blame and hate or feeling of anger and frustration about who we are. However, if the opposite happens, it can lead to fatal cases of inability to forgive oneself and a lack of self-confidence. Low self-esteem is therefore unhealthy both for the body and mind as we are to see the reasons here.

What causes low self-esteem?

Various sources give wide-ranging reasons why people have low self-esteem but the most common can be, when we compare ourselves to others and downgrade ourselves. Hating our own body due to many reasons can lead to self-denigration. It is when we fail to understand the complexity of nature and our world; where things do not happen all times the way we want.

The clinical psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen reveals that it can be from our early childhood caused by ongoing stressful life or events where our contribution to resolve issues is insignificant or impossible.

The succession of unfavourable life events such as financial issues, relationship breakdowns, unfair or abusive treatment by others (bullying) can be contributing factors. A doubtful mind where keeping wrong mantras in our mind such as: “I can’t do it” or “I will never overcome this” will eventually evolve in labelling ourselves as incapable beings, and so we remain.

What can be the consequences of low self-esteem?

If unchecked, low self-esteem can lead to mental health disorder, a change in our normal way of relating to others, societal withdrawal, state of anxiety and depression. It can also lead to self-destructive moves such as unhealthy cosmetic surgery, drug abuse (taken to escape stress and fear), self-defence mechanisms to nonexistent dangers, unhealthy eating disorders which in most cases come with its own costs.

Such self-denigration compels us to seek outside ourselves for esteem and force others to treat us the way we believe we deserve. In most cases, it has led to abuse of power or authority, imposing on others our acceptance.

This feeling of low self-esteem can lead people to enforce codes of conduct to be shown to them. This is common for leaders and those in high positions; they will install excessive discipline measures and sanctions when they feel they are not respected or valued as they feel it ought to. They tend to believe they deserve more than how being treated. Lynne Forrest says that “we blame, justify, exaggerate, and manipulate, all in an effort to hide our perceived worthlessness”, and I have seen people turning into aggressive beings to impose their identity. Over spending monies to amass material things, obsessively can be a sign of inner unquenched desire to be better.

When it comes to relationship, low self-esteem in both men and women can lead to move from one partner to the other, searching who will validate them, not love them, and once they find him or her, they get too much emotionally attached to him or her and aggressive when there is a clear indication of relationship break up.

Towards eliminating low self-esteem

Dr. Kevin Solomons states that “it’s not external events that have the most profound effect on our self-esteem. It is how we view our own life and life’s events”. Therefore, since the therapy seems to be from within, the step number one is to know our own problem (be aware of our state of low self-esteem) and work towards improving it. Experts suggest the need to look after our body but care less on how it looks as we can’t change it.

Getting to know the meaning, purpose and goals of our life, the need for a connection to something greater than ourselves, embarking on creative activities, the need for intimacy and connection to others (good and sound friendship), cultivate inner sense of control reflex, developing a positive thinking, mind physical health by mere body exercise and most importantly, mindfulness and mindset coaching through meditation which science has made to be the easiest and most effective way to digest any mind’s related issues. It consists of letting the mind focus on one thing at a time, maximize and prioritize concentration and relaxation. It inherently helps one boost self-confidence, love, compassion and ability to comprehend the complexity of the world especially when we learn to let go that which we cling on, that does not matter at the moment to just remain happy and content of who we are and what we are doing at the moment.

If happiness is contagious, then what makes you happy?

Have you heard that happiness is contagious? Well, there are a few empirically proven studies by behavioural and social scientists suggesting that happiness is not only contagious but it is also positively impacted by the people around.

Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School in his study on ‘dynamic of spread happiness’ shows that happiness spreads through social networks, which means your happiness have positive impact and could influence the happiness of others as well. Further, spread of happiness is comparatively faster than the spread of sadness. Incredible, isn’t it?

If this is true, then the next question is: what makes us happy? Is it some kind of chemical reaction in our mind that is being activated by certain types of action in our regular life or some more specific environment which our mind prefers? Some studies claim that happiness is a state of mind, and if that is true, then what kind of action leads to it? Based on many studies and human experiences, here are some simple actions, easy enough to practice in everyday life, which make us happy and content:

1) Happiness is a Journey, not a Destination
It’s one journey where the path we have taken matters more than the final destination achieved. We always have a choice for the path to be taken, and this is where we decide which kind of life we want to live. Each day has a new beginning and a story to experience. So, make sure, you live and enjoy the very path taken, as it is the last one.

2) Human brain is great but heart is even more incredible
There is an age old debate on ‘logic’ versus ‘emotions’ until we start understanding the deeper science behind our emotions. They are the ones that make us humane. People who lived happy and fulfilling life consider emotions and social aspect while taking decisions about life, partner, children, family, friends and parents. Time to time, its beyond logic but that’s what helps them live a happy life.

3) Live to experience, as money doesn’t buy everything
One of the best use of money is living the experiences and investing our time and energy for creating great memories. They are more worthy than materialistic accumulation including money.  Science has shown that buying experiences – like, going on a skiing trip or taking an art class – makes us happier than material goods. As per several psychological surveys, people who spend more on life experiences are happier than people who just purchase things.

Photo by Carly Rae Hobbins on Unsplash

4) The Joy of giving
When you give to others, it is bound to give you inner happiness. Kindness, generosity and compassion are basic human values, and it’s an open secret followed by most successful and happy people of our time.

5) Small pleasures are collectively bigger than biggest achievements in life
There is an ancient saying: enjoy the small happy moments of your daily life. Because frequent, small pleasures tend to be different every time, whether it’s sharing tea with friends or reading a new book, we don’t adapt to them and become bored as quickly. Also, there are several such opportunities to live and be grateful about instead of waiting for something big.

6) Don’t compare yourself to others
“Compare and despair,” goes an old saying. We all are different and unique, so when you compare yourself with others, it means you are evaluating apple and oranges at the same parameter. People really do make themselves miserable when they focus on their “relative” well-being. That means how they think they’re doing compared to everyone else.

7) Appreciation is Important
The more you appreciate what God has given to you, the more you will be content and happy. Appreciation is also about encouraging the good inside you to grow further. The art of appreciating what you have and staying happy within your limits, is a factor that needs to be practised.

Let’s try something simple, close your eyes, take a deep breath and think what makes you more happy? Is it the money in your bank account, big car or a trip to your most favourable place or country, dinner with your partner or family? Now the decision is yours.

Kuldeep Singh can be reached out at twitter @Kuldeep_lko

Photo credits of the featured image: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

How The Universe Reaches Out To You

In learning and exploring philosophies like ‘new thought,’ it’s great to discover how much is already aligned with my belief system. And whether it’s personal or faith based, or just living and experiencing life and people around you; it takes a keen eye but an open heart to really listen to what the universe is telling you.

For any number of reasons my state in life is, well, unique for my age. As a walking contradiction in any number of ways, I truly believe this path is predestined… Especially that I find myself interested in learning from people who have had opposite journeys. This has led me to align my creative side with my curiosities and lack of knowledge; to create some truly unique concepts and stories. To me, this is the universe trying to get an important message across.

All of that is to say, if you can relate, you may have found some difficulty discerning between feeling what you think you should feel versus a genuine message outside yourself. Are you hearing what you want to hear, or are you listening to the universe with an open mind? With that said, I’ve found there are at least three ways the universe reaches out to you through the many layers and shields we have up around us.

1) Signs

Let’s start with the hardest first and work our way downward. When the universe uses signs, it can literally be anything or anyone, and endless in nature. Let’s say it’s related to taking a new job in a new city, maybe Seattle. If all of a sudden you start getting Starbucks coupons in your inbox but you don’t drink coffee, start seeing buildings that remind you of the Space Needle, or notice an inordinate amount of Frasier reruns on TV; you might begin to think there’s a pattern forming.

In my experience, it’s been primarily numbers that have gotten my attention. This is all semi recent, only in the last few years, that I’ve really become aware of them. It’s hard to explain to people within my circle, because they think I’m specifically looking for them. I can’t say they’re wrong, but the overwhelming evidence says I’m not seeking them out.

Examples include being on the treadmill with varied speeds and levels, with my time or distance ending on a specific series of numbers. Looking up at the TV at just the right moment to see lottery numbers that match my numerical signs. When I look at my stop watch at just that moment and/or find myself woken up at the right time… Trust me, there are more examples, but their randomness leaves me smiling more times than not.

I’ve talked with other people that have noticed similar things, receiving something from outside themselves that relates to their journey. One of the ways to measure how genuine they might be is if you’re not actively looking for them. I don’t look for the majority of my examples but, trust me, they still show up anyway!

2) Energy

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew then what you know now? It would have done me well back in my 20’s if I knew my energy and those around me better. However, it’s that regret and not always positive lessons that have taught me what I know now to be true.

So what does it say when things aren’t going great, but you still have that drive to be positive? That you need to clear out the negative. Or just the same; if things are finally where you want them to be in your life, but your energy is on the lower end, that could mean something as well.

The universe could be using your energy as a way to get your attention… To get you to focus on your talents or opportunities, help you help those around you, etc. This is especially true for artists, that find their energy is at its most positive when they’re expressing themselves. It could also be athletics or cooking, where you find yourself at home in your own mind, body and soul… Do what preaches to all three.

And this doesn’t always have to be something earth shattering or life altering; but just absorbing the message genuinely and emitting the same positively. Learning this took me some time regarding writing, even though I’ve been clicking away on a keyboard forever! And I have found that although some concepts are less common; I’ve been able to use that template to explore some unique story lines when it comes to humour and drama.

3) Destiny

The universe got to me on this one when I was about five. Exaggerate much, you say? Sure, I don’t blame you for thinking so, but allow me to elaborate. Big mop of hair before I had glasses, dressed in what was no doubt considered to be contemporary in the late 80’s. Kindergarten was roaring a long when during library time we were told to go and pick out a couple of books to read. I don’t remember how I ended up in the history section or what number book this was that I pulled; but when I saw a picture of the prow of the sunken luxury liner Titanic and saw that word in all caps, consider my young mind captivated.

And it’s not just how I believe I was led to do so in reading that book, but how pivotal a role fate played in everything that made that historical example exist in the first place. Destiny may be the way the universe moves us in certain directions. And even if we don’t comply, somehow we always end up where we were supposed to be.

Clearly this isn’t an exact science and naturally there are plenty of detractors. And where their hearts and/or reasoning may be in the right place, I have yet to find myself convinced that this isn’t a real thing. It’s not exactly tangible, but the concept is proven all the time. How many examples do we have of meeting people that affect us positively and negatively, zigging when we should have zagged, etc?

It’s always been as basic to me as A leading to B leading to C, and so on! Now I can’t always say I’m a huge fan of where it has led me; but still feel that the end result will have made the journey well worth it.

In The End:

There’s no exaggeration when I say, waking up to all this has been exactly easy. Obviously my natural state and approach with this is positive, and I’m grateful for that. However, as much as I love communicating, I don’t always get the message out clearly of what this all means.

Yet, I’m finding that the universe does just that, but that it’s our reception that isn’t always the best. But that shouldn’t be a reflection on the former, but an example of how the latter doesn’t always listen. A quote that seems more than appropriate for this post is: “The universe never asked you to struggle. It is simply answering your mood.”

To me that says, we should stop being our own worst enemies and truly listen and process. This can be done in many ways, and for someone like myself who tends to be active and energetic, I don’t always take my own advice. But in looking at these three aspects alone, it’s a great template to help focus on what you may be missing. And the best energy may come when you truly listen, and you’re able to share that joy. So, in thinking about how the universe may be reaching out to you, what signs have you encountered?

Photo credits

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

Developing a Bullet Proof Mind Through Cameroon Crisis

What do you do when your hometown has become a place of constant chaos? Sometimes the first thought is to run away. But running to where? We can’t control everything that happens externally but the one thing we can control is our mind. How we react to situations depends on the quality of our mind.

I come from a place that was once a reference of peace but has become a hub for every day violence. Though the option of running away may sound considerable, there are many questions running through my mind in the growing heat of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. What about the stakes you have in the place where you spent your entire life? Where do you start from if you leave? Can you really run away from your mind?

Fear, doubt and panic
This crisis started as a peaceful protest against the government for marginalization (of the English speaking minority as oppose to the affluence of the French speaking majority) and a request to return back to Federalism. As it is with every protest that is not tactically handled, this too aggravated from peaceful to violent and a quest for secession. When this tussle persist, the regular man of which I’m a part of is the one that ends ups confused in the midst of both violent parties.

This state of mind comprised of fear, doubt and panic is that which is shared by many in the community. So, when you look around and realize there is no need to run because the stakes involved and the love for patriotism supersedes any other, the only way out is to find a means to deal with the situation and not run away from it. This conception is what led me through a journey of retrospection where I decided to make use of a skill I once learned in a country far, far away from home.

Visualization and flower garden
Together with a group of peace loving youths, we started the Buea Peace Club which aims at empowering the minds of youths to be calm and resilient towards effect of the sound of frequent gunshots in the neighbourhood. We use the tool of mindfulness meditation which I learned in Thailand to train the mind to disconnect from the negative physical environment and create an imaginary one of everyone’s choice where we visualize, focus and feel the pleasure of being in a positive environment such as a beach, flower garden or anywhere we love to be.

These mental exercises have proven to help the participants of the club deal with the chaotic situation in the community better than before. In one of the sessions, a participant named Joy said: “I felt like I was floating, as light as a balloon during the process. The headache that I came in with has all of a sudden gone away!”. Many others said the process gave them a feeling of freedom and peace instead of the constant fear and negative energy brought by the sound of gunshots.

The chaos has not ended in the region, but we – the members of the club – are not feeling the effect as others may because we know how to control our mind. Hence, meditation has now become the bullet proof of the mind. Hopefully, we can reach out to more people with this approach of peace that is grounded from within.

حكايتي مع التأمل

بداية قصتي مع التأمل

التأمل كلمة تحمل الكثير من المعاني لأن لكل واحد تجربته. وهذه التجربة تجعله يتبنى تعريفًا معينًا أوأن يخلق تعريفًا جديدًا.تجربتي الأولى مع التأمل كانت في ربيع 2015 عندما كنت في نيبال لدراسة اليوغا. كان المدرب يبتدئ حصص الرياضة بالتأمل. وحينها قمنا بتجربة تقنيات التخيل والابتهال والنيدرا (يوغا النوم) وفحص الجسد. دائمًا ما كان يوصينا بإغلاق أعيننا أو فتحها مع التركيز على نقطةٍ معينة. استمرت محدودية التجربة لعشر دقائق في حصص اليوغا إلى أن  تعرفت بعدها على “مبادرة السلام العالمي”.

قمت بإنشاء حساب على موقعنهضة السلاموبدأت برنامج الـ 42 يوم لتطوير الذات. ابتدأت بعشرة دقائق واستمر وقت التأمل في الازدياد حتى شاركت في زمالة المؤسسة الإقليمية للنساء العربيات ” هي 2″. هناك استمتعت ب أربعة ساعات من التأمل يوميًا مع إمكانية طرح الأسئلة على الراهب باسورا واثنتان من المدربات المحترفات هن نسرين وأسيل. بعد عودتي من الزمالة، قمت بإكمال برنامج الـ 42 يومًا فأنهيته، لتصبح العشرين دقيقة التي كنت أتأملها قبل المشاركة ب هي2 تصل إلى ما يزيد عن الساعة يوميًا.

ماذا تعلمت من برنامج تطوير الذات؟

خلال الـ 42 يومًا، تم شرح وتعليم عدد من التقنيات التأملية مع كيفية الجلوس ، واختيار المكان. تعلمت من خلاله الاستعداد للتأمل واختيار المكان المناسب، وكيفية الجلوس بوضعية مريحة تضمن أطول مدة من التأمل ، وكيفية وضع يد اليمين فوق اليسار لضمان تدوير الأكتاف واستقامة الظهر. في البداية لم يكن الأمر سهلًا ، ولكني لم أتوقف واستمريت بالمحاولة. خلال التدريب، بعض الفيديوهات كانت تعاد لتركيز الفكرة والتمرن عليها أكثر، وقد كان هذا أمرًا مساعدًا.

مراحل التأمل

بعد الاستعداد للتأمل وإغلاق العينين، كان الراهب في الفيديو يختار احدى التقنيات. ففي أول أسبوع، كان الاختيار واقعًا على أسلوب التخيل، حيث يخلق العقل مكانًا هادئًا داخله ليبحر به. كنت أحب تخيل البحر بسبب حبي الكبير له، فكان ذلك يساعدني على الهدوء التام. ثم اعتمد الراهب مبدأ الابتهال في التأمل، حيث يختار المتأمل ابتهال (عبارة أو كلمة) يرتاح لها ويكررها حتى الهدوء. كنت أردد سبحان الله حتى أدخل في حالة التأمل العميق. في بعض الأحيان يشرد العقل فلم أنفعل لذلك،  بل كنت أشاهد بدون أن أحكم على ذلك. كما كنت أعتمد التركيز على التنفس، فقد كان مساعدًا جدًا. كنت أعود إلى ترديد الكلمات بهدوء مرارًا وتكرارًا حتى يصبح التسبيح مناجيًا لعقلي.

كما علّمنا الراهب في الفيديو فحص الجسد ، فكان يركز على إزالة التوتر من كل جزء من أجزاء الجسد بالترتيب. وكنت أقوم بمحاولة إرخاء العينين والفم والأكتاف والحجاب الحاجز واليدين وأصابع القدمين وغيرهم. وبمجرد الانتهاء من إرخاء أجزاء الجسد، ينتقل الراهب إلى تقنية أخرى. التركيز على النفس، والتوحد مع الأفق، وتخيل الشمس هم أيضًا من التقنيات التي تمت تجربتها. فتقنيّة  تخيل الشمس جعلتني أشعر أنّي مركزٌ للطاقة ، وكانت تشحنني بطريقةٍ غريبة. ودائما ما كنت أشعر بوجع في فك الفم السفلي خلال التأمل وأظن أن ذلك شيءٌ جيد.

تأمل المشي

من طرق التأمل التي تركت في نفسي أثرًا وجعلتني أركّز أكثر في تنقلاتي اليومية هي المشي التأملي والذي قمت بتجربته للمرة الأولى في برنامج هي 2. وقتها، قمت بالمشي في الطبيعة وتعلمت تأمل الشجر وما يحيطني.أصبحت الآن أنظر للتفاصيل حولي خلال المشي أو السواقة.

تأثير التامل على حياتي 

ساعدني التأمل على التركيز أكثر والتخفيف من انفعالاتي،  كما أنه ساعدني على اتّباع نمط حياة صحي. احرص/ي على التأمل في نفس الميعاد يوميًا لتتمكن من اكتساب هذه العادة الحسنة. ولنشر هذه الثقافة قمت مع صديقتي رشا رستم،  التي تعرفت عليها ببرنامج هي 2 بإنشاء “نادي السلام” وهو نادٍ نقوم فيه بجلسات تأملية في بيروت وطرابلس.

انتهى برنامج ال 42 يوم وأنا أشعر بأني أفتقد شيئًا. لا أريد أن أصف حالتي بالإدمان، ولكن فوائد التأمل وسهولة طريقة الراهب في الفيديوهات جعلته محببًا ومريحًا. والآن أتطلع شوقًا للمرحلة الثانية.

How to save for that big, exciting project you have put off for years!

Save for next big project

How do you save for that big exciting project?

You see something, and you really want it. In fact, you really need it; yet, you can’t afford it. At least not yet; or so you tell yourself.  Sounds familiar? How about this; “you say no to things that really matter to you” or “you window shop based on price tags rather than the inherent value.”

You are not alone. You probably are making your decisions based on a limited perspective of money; as I do too, sometimes.

And if I do, then why am I writing this article in the first place?

Because, exactly 8 months ago, I experienced a shift in my life regarding how I view money. After years of putting off major financial decisions and constantly telling myself I cannot afford it, I realized why I never got far with my personal projects. This shift has created a new realm of possibilities for me and my life.

I learnt special tips on savings and below I will share exactly these tips. Get ready to achieve your wildest most exciting project that before was unrealistic.

First things first, let’s define money.

Money, according to Merriam Webster, is a medium of exchange. Differently put, money passes through you to get things done and moving. That is to say, it’s not how much you have that will matter, rather, what the money makes available for you that carries the day.

What one incredible project would we use as a case? How about a meditation vacation in Thailand as an example? This may not be one thing that you need to survive, but you may need it to thrive. Especially, when research shows that you may need a holiday from your work soon.

The cost to the retreat is USD 900 exclusive of travels, meaning, if coming from the west or down south, you probably need USD 2000 to make the trip worthwhile. While this may seem like a huge investment, let’s see how we make it the tiniest little investment you ever made to your self-replenishment, wonder and aliveness. Notice how we establish the value of the retreat, in relation to both your well being and cost. Do this for any project you are working on.

Map your income expense chart

You now know the value of the project. You want to rest, replenish your mind, body and soul, all at the same time at a cost of USD 2000. Coming back to where you are, its time to map out how much money you make, and how you use it. Create a column for fixed expenses, variable expenses, savings and investments within your chart. Proceed to indicate where each of your monies goes each month, week and day. You will be surprised how some expenses are unnecessary. In some instances, you shall notice that some expenses that often stress you and give you the impression of not having money are not as urgent as you thought.

Make a list of all “your wish to haves” full with a budgetary allocation and timelines of delivery

Having gotten clear with yourself on your expenses, it’s time to create a new list of your entire wish-list. This could be a dream project you have shelved for so long. In this case, we all wish to go for a meditation holiday in Thailand. We figure out the entire cost of the project, in this case, being USD 2000 (inclusive of travels and transfers). When the entire “wish-list is complete, place them in order of priority based on the timelines of each project.

save for next big project
Mortgage and credit concept. Young man planning his future

One project at a time: Choose one major project and focus on it

Having done so, place the major project as the central focus. Others in the list will still receive your attention, yet, this one stands out as immense. Assuming we take the meditation holiday as the central focus, that’s what we put down. Notice the timeline indicated. Luckily, World Peace Initiative provides meditation holidays for each season of the year. Assuming we decide we wish to travel in Dec 2019; we have 16 months in between.

Break down the whole amount into monthly, weekly and daily targets.

Next, break down the amount of the project into monthly, weekly and daily targets. USD 2000 within 16 months will get us USD 125 each month. Into weekly targets will give USD 32 a week, broken into daily targets will make USD 4.5 a day! From USD 2000, we realize that we only need USD 4.5 a day!

Get real on whether you wish to save daily, weekly or monthly.

This realization may be liberating, yet, the liberation may be short-lived if you don’t understand how you operate. While some people are disciplined at saving daily, others prefer weekly while others prefer monthly. Whatever you decide, get real with how you operate and commit to it.

Open a separate account for the savings

To support your commitment, get a savings account to put in your money. Most bank accounts come with a Direct Debit Order that you can install to authorize your bank to deduct a certain amount of money from your account. This means that each time there is money in your account, it auto-deducts the amount you instruct it to. This way, you do not have to worry about missing a payment.

Track your savings over time and re-evaluate

As with any other project, you need to track your savings and notice whether you are on track or not. It’s normal to miss some days or weeks. You want to minimize that. Normal occurrences only happen for average people. Get clear with the days you miss and get back on track. It helps sometimes to task someone to hold you accountable to your goal. Sometimes, due to life’s unexpected turns, you may want to increase the amount, or even reduce it, and the best part is to keep fresh the reason why you are saving in the first place. The “why” will determine your choices.

Maintain an open mind for other opportunities and openings for action

Sometimes, when making saving decisions, opportunities to achieve my projects have emerged in ways I hardly expected. Remember, you may get your chance to achieve your goal in other ways as well. Stay open for when such signs emerge. You may be surprised, that when saving to travel for the meditation holiday, you get the opportunity to attend a global peace on the move fellowship in Thailand! The key is to stay open for the signs of accomplishing your goal sooner!

Expect to achieve your goal, detach from it and focus on the savings.

There are several opportunities in the universe and this goal is one of them. Your focus on making it happen makes it real. Therefore, expect to accomplish it. By expecting to do so, you validate its realization. Next, detach from it. Many times, we want something and still question whether we really need it. We wonder if it’s right for us or even if we shall even make it. By your accepting to have it in your life, it emerges, now let go of it and focus on the immediate actions that shall make it happen.

Get ready to begin your project

Getting ready is an essential part of life. Remember the story of the village that went to the square to pray for rain, and only a small boy carried an umbrella? Your project starts the moment you commit to it and start saving. For the holiday, save the dates, start processing your passport, looking for friends and meetups in Thailand; tell friends who may want to join you. I remember, at one point, wanting to buy a car, and when I started saving for it, I went to refresh my car knowledge and renewed my license. After all, when it comes, I want it to find me ready!

What is that big exciting project you have put off for years?

Its time you made it real!

Take the step today and start saving for it!

And of course, you can save to travel on a meditation holiday too! Remember you can save as low as USD 1 a day and still make it to Thailand next year. It’s all based on where you are and whether you are ready to take the leap into wild possibilities!

NO To Pessimism

In my language Kirundi, we say “Ntawutanga ico adafise” which means, you cannot give what you don’t have. This is similar to how Peace Revolution project envisions peacebuilding  with its PIPO  (Peace In – Peace Out) concept, putting emphasis on cultivating inner peace first before spreading peace to the outer world.

I have been receiving invitations to participate in various peace conferences by different organizations involved in peace building, but one important question that arises is: what are those conferences aiming at? According to my understanding, such conferences are meant for teaching techniques and strategies on how to become a peace activist in one’s community and surrounding. There is nothing bad in that, but if participants are not taught techniques and strategies on how to find peace from within, we can’t expect any sustainable peace. However, if we have inner peace, we spread it to our surroundings from one individual to another. The more this process expands, the more we move towards a sustainable world peace. Therefore, PIPO concept becomes one of the most effective strategies in communities’ peace building.

Moreover, as peace comes from within, so does pessimism and negativity. Imagine, when the mind accumulates a junk of negativity and pessimism, the entire world becomes negative and the subject becomes pessimist. This can happen to anybody in certain difficult moments of their life. Yet, we deserve a healthy, peaceful and happy life which we can only get from a positive mindset. On this note, I would like to share some interesting tips from Henrik Edberg’s Positivity Blog that would help us overcome pessimism and negativity inviting more peace and calm in our life:

1) Start replacing negativity in your surroundings and life: What you let into your mind during your regular day will have a big effect on how you think and feel. So, start questioning what you let come into your mind.

2) Stop making mountains out of a molehill: The easiest way to ground yourself in a situation where you start to sense that you may be making a mountain out of a molehill is to zoom out a bit on your life by using a question like: will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

3) Be grateful for a few of the things you may often take for granted: When your lens (that you view your daily life through) is tinted in a negative way, it is easy to miss the things you can actually be grateful for. Take a minute as you get out of bed in the morning or get into it in the evening and put your attention on a few such things of which you can be thankful for: three steady meals a day; a roof over my head; my caring family, friends, etc. You’ll find many of them that you hadn’t thought before.

4) Come back to this moment (and stay here): When you’re on a train of negative thoughts, you’re often thinking about something that you could or should have done or said. Or you’re thinking about something that could happen. Or maybe a mix of the two of them as a past experience or two build a monster in your mind about what the future may bring. To get out of any of those places, snap back into this moment – to what is right here, right now.

5) Get a positive start to your day: The first few things you do in the morning often set the tone for your entire day. If you get off to a negative or pessimistic start, it can be quite hard to shake those feelings or perspective. But if you get your morning off to a positive start, then it becomes a lot easier to stay with that emotion and the optimism all the way to the evening and bedtime.

Conclusion

Just like peace and happiness, also pessimism and negativity come from within, from the mind. The condition of the mind is actually what determines the view of the world. Hence, mind needs to be consistently taken care of. And this can be done through various strategies and techniques, among which, we highlighted some of the important ones in this article.