What do you like about your suffering?
More than one year ago I published my personal “Not-To-Do-List” , but somehow I withheld the counterpart. I can already tick off a lot of the items. The pursuit of happiness is bearing fruits.
Things I Want To Do
1. Being happy.
2. Being proud of myself.
3. Talking about positive stuff.
4. Exploring my own desires.
5. Living up to my own values.
6. Living the moment.
7. Seeing the good things in every moment.
8. Walking slow.
9. Eating mindful.
10. Focusing on one thing at a time.
11. Being confident.
12. Loving myself.
13. Positive self-talk. (Whatever that is, but it sounds good :))
14. Not smoking.
15. Reading before I go to sleep.
16. Changing my perspective/considering another point of view.
17. Drinking more green smoothies.
18. Stop hesitating.
19. Making decisions.
20. Being committed to my own dreams.
Things I Want To Think
- “I’m strong.”
- “I can handle it.”
- “I can achieve everything I want.”
- “I can learn everything I want.”
- “I am loved.”
- “I have all the time in the world.”
- “I have a lot of positive energy to share.”
- “I’m happy.”
- “I’m beautiful.”
- “I love myself.”
- “Today is a great day.”
- “Life is great.”
To be continued….
Alright, it is time to revive the threesome. I’d like to call it writing exploration. What do I explore here? There are a lot of insights that I want to integrate into my life myself. In order to manifest my discoveries I need to write them down here. This growthbuddy is here to help me and hopefully you too. The other day I watched a talk that inspired me to write this article. I condensed the most valuable insights here.
1. Make timetravel a routine
What do you have in mind right now? Are you consumed by negative thoughts? Do you feel stress or tension inside of you? Take a moment to recognise what is going on inside of you. And now think about something really really positive. Some event that made you really happy – no matter if it was in the distant past or recently. Go back to this emotion and smile. Was it this amazing sunset at your last holidays? The birthday of your daughter or your son? Extensive dancing last Saturday?
Be as happy as you were in this moment. Take a moment to really go back to this place and enjoy the feeling. It’s the best if you do this with your eyes closed. But really take a couple of minutes to dive into this experience that lifted your heart higher.
Wow – that was intense. But isn’t it interesting? You were able to relive a feeling only with your mind. Imagine you have all these positive memories in your head. Like in a house with a very sunny balcony, where you spend a warm autumn afternoon, there are these positive thoughts in your mind where you can always go back to. So why go back to the dark and damp basement of your mind all the time?
How we feel depend on where we are in our head. What I realized over the past years of self-exploration: I can actually control where my thoughts go if I really want to. And it is actually not that hard.
2. Cultivate positive thoughts
A long long time I thought. “I’m just a pessimist.” “I’m paranoid.” “I’m different.” Until I found out that it is only me who focusses on negative thoughts. I’m actually addicted to negative thinking. “THIS is inanity.” – I thought to myself. But this time I didn’t say it with the bashing voice in my head. No, I actually understood that this is not insanity, it is just the wrong conditioning. I always felt like a slave to my thoughts until I figured that I just have to change them. Now that I write it down I can’t believe I didn’t understand that earlier. I just took my own thoughts way to seriously all the past 30 years. And this became my reality.
Okay, it is easy to change my thoughts from negative into positive once. But how do I manifest positive thinking as a mindset? Well, how do I get better at anything? Yes, by practice. It is just like going to the gym. I need to exercise positive thinking. As soon as a negative thoughts hit me I acknowledge them. I say “hi” and then I switch to the warm soothing voice in my head. This voice reminds me that there is a lot of positive stuff happening in my life.
Like our home we need to clean, maintain and sometimes refurbish our mind. A bed of beautiful flowers stays beautiful as long as we care for it. I always thought positive thinking is rocket science. I need to study it. But fortunately not – I can just do it. I can just think positive.
3. Create your happy place
Okay, this one is a bit over the top, but for me this metaphor helps me to survive my vivid travel life: I made my mind the most wonderful place on the planet. Well, sometimes it’s still messy, haha. But having a cosy home in my head helps me to bare my own presence. If I really think about it, where else would I feel really at home in this messed up world apart from “in my head”?
Sounds crazy? For me too!
Time is money.
Time is flying.
Time is relative.
Time is just an illusion.
Time is space is time.
Time is killing me softly.
Time and time again.
Time is the enemy.
What’s the time?
The time is now.
Boooom – there it is: The here and now. The essence, synchronicity, timelessness – however you want to call or not call it. A sudden energy-flow captivates my body. Within a fraction of a second a harbouring warmth unfolds from my core. I breathe in and out. Something is bursting and broadening – all of a sudden I feel nothing but complete.
I ask myself, how could it NOT be there in the past as I’m obviously a part of it – a part of the omnipresent miracle of life. This staggering big soul revolving around itself within this universe. Nothing more and nothing less.
With eyes wide open I can actually see my surrounding. I can move within my full range of motion. I’m not alone. And I realise that the presence was right here all the time. E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E moment it was there. The “now” was just right here behind this heavy, dusty, filthy curtain of thoughts, doubts and hesitation.
Now the gloom of this insanity is lifting. From a place of fear I’m lifting off into my own power. From absence I launch into presence. The doubts are still there but they are crystal clear. If they narrow my field of view I can just look through them. They don’t define my reality anymore.
Life sent me on this quest. Now it reveals its secrets.
Every step, every struggle, every pain had a purpose. At the beginning I had no idea what this is all about. At the very beginning I didn’t even know that this was about something. “The mountain without the peak” seemed inapproachable.
Luckily life equipped me with tools: My breath is a mean of transport that conveys me to the present moment. With my feet I’m able to attempt the climb up the mountain without a peak – one step at a time. There is nothing else to do.
All of a sudden I realise “I am at the right place at the right time”. I always was. “I am working hard for my dreams.” I am actually fulfilling my dreams RIGHT NOW. And I have been fulfilling them since I left my first footstep. I thought I need to choose. I thought I need to decide. “I just have to work harder.” For what? There is nothing to achieve, because it is already there.
Without the slightest idea I catapult myself far out there. Violently and relentlessly. I keep facing the challenges. I keep resisting the temptation of loosing it. But going crazy is not an option. I roll. I fall. I’m moving on. That’s all. That’s what I’m here for.
I close my eyes. I let it happen. I surrender. There is no safety net, no false bottom. No, there is only the free fall, raw emotions – everything is out of my control. But the path towards the (no-)peak is here in front of me. How could I not see it?
The quest is the pursuit of happiness. The reward is the present moment.
You are standing on the edge of a cliff. Beneath your feet the blue of the ocean is hypnotizing you. Waves are breaking powerfully on the rocks. “You can do that!” – “Can I do that?” – “You just dive in” -“What if I crash?” – The voices in your head are fighting a running battle. Finally with the heartbeat up to your chin you jump. A rush of adrenaline is taking your breathe before you plunge smoothly into the water.
For a fraction of a second you lose your sense of direction. One moment later you are already back on the surface. A smile arises from your inside while you are swimming with ease back to the boulders you climbed before. “The next time I gonna do a cannonball.”, you think to yourself with a sense of fulfillment.
Jumping down these five meters was just a matter of overcoming your fear of failure. By making a leap you became aware of your true capabilities.
It is by diving into the unknown that we learn. We are learning to swim, we are learning to jump off cliffs (or three meter towers), we are learning to interact with others, we are learning a different language, new skills. At the beginning we are making mistakes: We might land on our belly the first time we jump off the cliff. Or we can’t wrap our head around the verb classifications of a new language. But we are getting there slowly. Our brain gets there, because it creates new connections everytime we supposedly “fail”.
A long time I’d rather do nothing than doing something wrong. What I didn’t understand was that I only learn through my mistakes. More and more in the process of learning to appreciate my own suffering I’m understanding that this “suffering” is just the pain I feel after making a what I consider “wrong” decision. Or it is caused by this fear of making the wrong decision.
At the moment I’m fighting a lot of battles with myself about which way to go, which job to keep, which friends to meet or which new destination to target. Whether if it is on a personal level or on a professional level – these thoughts are stealing my energy and shattering my last nerve.
What I’m practicing is the acceptance of this pain AND the ability to make a decision anyways. Yes, making a decision not the (the only right) decision.
Mistakes are invariable in the process of making anything better (a life or a product). To put it differently – failure is inevitable on the way to success. The inventor of the light bulb Thomas Edison and his team tested around 3000 (!!) different designs for the light bulb before they found a solid solution. It took years.
Without failure also personal growth is not possible. We don’t learn, if we do everything perfect all the time. Because if we do everything perfect we only adjust to the demands, but we never actually seize our full potential.
I’m repeating myself: What had always been holding me back from achieving personal or professional goals was my fear of failure!
Now I’m trying a different approach: I prototype my life. I define, I try, I fail, I improve – “trial and error”. How ever you want to call it – the idea is the same. A prototype is not perfect. It improves in iterations and so does my life.
Okay, so far so good. That’s easier said than done. But how are we going to put this in practice?
1. Don’t be attached to the image you have of yourself
We don’t realise that we become the slaves of our own thoughts by saying: “This is just how I am.” These thoughts are planted into our head – either by ourselves or by our surrounding. Maybe we are still attached to the idea we had about ourselves when we were twelve years old?
You don’t consider yourself as creative? Maybe you just didn’t find the right way to express yourself or you simply have the wrong idea about “somebody who is creative” in your head? You are not a rational thinker? Only because you spoiled your physics exam in school doesn’t mean you can never be an engineer. The most important thing is to understand, that these thoughts are not us – even if we are the ones telling them to ourselves. What if you have skills you never thought of?
2. Don’t fall in love with your ideas
There is a rule in the method of design thinking (and other lean/agile working methods) that links to the written above. “Don’t fall in love with your ideas”. We have this overall image about ourselves in our head. On the other hand we also vision the necessary improvements: Things that need to be done in order to become the person we are supposed to be being.
“When I achieve this and this I gonna be happy.” “If I was just a little bit more rational/outgoing/talkative/had more knowledge/more friends my life would be perfect” or “If I just had that much money, I would be able to live a happy life.” Don’t get me wrong – it is good, no it is neccesary to have goals in life, but by focussing on only the things that we already have in mind we might miss the opportunity to find something else that lights up our heart. With this attitude we close ourselves towards our own truth. So, don’t fall in love with your ideas and stay flexible.
3. Be willing to change
What teaches me the most in life? Basically the situations where I let go of old patterns. The moments when I try something new. The moments when I have to adapt to a new situation. In these moments I can literally feel how my ability to live life properly (whatever that means, I will think about it) had improved. Exposing myself to adversity, trying new jobs, learning new skills – this is what really teaches me the most.
“Invent yourself new” – is not only a slogan from the fashion industry (?). Sticking with the same hobbies, the same interests, the same people can only lead to stagnation. Our brain literally needs stimulation to build new connections. Once in a while it is important to do something where we once said “I’m not the type for this.” We might fail, we might don’t like it, but if we never try we will never know.
4. Be open for advice
The great thing about living amongst other human beings is that we can learn from each other. Everyone of us makes their own experiences and creates their personal reality.
In order to broaden our horizon we need to listen to others. We can’t change our perspective by standing at the same point of view. Sometimes others know better what we are capable of. A lot of times we limit ourselves with the idea about what we can and what we can’t do. If we take our desires and perspectives too seriously we obstruct the outlook for new opportunities.
5. Drop this f*cking perfectionism
… and cultivate a healthy failure culture. Aiming for perfection leads nowhere. Nothing will ever be perfect or to put it differently: everything is already perfect. With this approach every new start becomes easier. There is nothing to achieve, there is only something to learn. Don’t blame yourself for being a failure only because things don’t turn out how you wish. Accept your mistakes as being a part of the process.
6. Be willing to start again and again and again…..
“Nobody said it was easy….” In order to improve anything in our life we need patience. Sometimes I ask myself: “Will I ever learn?” I feel like I’m doing the same mistakes over and over again. But with this question I already hold myself back from learning. Instead I have to acknowledge: “Hmm, again the same mistake. What have I learnt this time?” The lessons we face are always confronting us for a reason. The same mistakes are just reminding us to keep digging. This is the peaceful war with ourselves.
While we grow older we lose our sense of adventure a little bit. We are trying to predict the future by considering risks, opportunities and values of a decision. A lot of times we are trying to make “the right decision” instead of allowing ourselves to leave things a little bit more open.
What if we admit that we can’t predict the outcome of a decision anyways? Instead we remain in a state of fear. This fear is leaving us in a state of faint. I don’t say we need to fail on purpose, but I say we should allow ourselves more often to jump off the cliff into a deep blue ocean of the unknown.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
We can only heal ourselves from the inside. There is nobody, who could ever heal us apart from ourselves. We have everything we need already within us. We have the power. All we have to do is to choose to heal.
But how? Some brief reminders:
- Look into the mirror with all honesty. Do you see you? Can you see your true self? Are you ok? Are you bullshitting yourself? If yes, are you willing to change? Do you really know what you want and what you need in life? If no, are you willing to find out?
- Listen to the signs of your body: Is there anxiety, aggression or even panic? Are self-doubts sucking your energy? Are you in physical pain? What is itching and aching?
- Give yourself time – rushing doesn’t lead you anywhere. Like a wound doesn’t heal within one day also your inner wounds need time to heal.
- Allow yourself to crack. Crack like a seed. Every new beginning starts with destruction. A seed has to crack before the seedling can follow the sun.
- Do the clearance work – clean out the debris of former destruction. Clean the pathways of your energy before you are starting something new. This is a sweat inducive process. You might need a couple of runs, check the dark corners again and again and maybe consult an expert in order to move along. But it is worth it. How do you want to build something new without a solid foundation?
- Trust your intuition and release. All of a sudden help will be naturally given. Like a plant you start growing as soon as you follow your intuition. The energy comes from the inside. It is already a part of you. If you are willing to listen to your inner voice you automatically start to heal. A plant doesn’t ask for permission to grow, it just grows.
Okay life – let’s do this.
Instead of playing hide and seek I’m accepting your challenges.
Instead of distracting myself I’m connecting with your energy as often as I can.
In a state of meditation I am minding my steps, my words and my actions.
But without hesitation I am acting out of consciousness instead of “re”-acting out of fear.
Yes, I throw myself out there. Out of the blue into the deep end.
The blur of my mind will vanish.
Life – I’m taking you in. I let you flow like the waves in the ocean and the clouds in the sky.
You won’t scare me anymore, because you gave me the power.
When I hit rock bottom you gonna lift me up again.
I’m making the most of it – sleepless nights, confusion and heartaches won’t drag me down.
No, I trust you one hundred percent.
Living life to the fullest means a life full of gratitude, full of trust and appreciation.
I commit life not suicide.
I share my struggles, my challenges, my weaknesses, my brain-clutter on this blog. This is something else – a burst of appreciation:
A wave of gratitude is rolling over me. I’m grateful for all the people who have been and keep crossing my path recently, within the last years and within my lifetime.
I’m so grateful to walk with you.
I’m grateful for the random strangers who tell me the right things at the right time.
I’m grateful for my friends who remind me to believe in myself – who help me to appreciate my own gifts.
I’m grateful for the people who share their vulnaribility with me, the people who are willing to crack and to grow with me.
I’m grateful for the people lighting my way – the people who are pointing out in different directions showing me open doors, where I only see them closing.
I’m grateful for the people who are holding the mirror for me – showing me truth – no matter if I want to see it or not. (it helps)
I feel so lucky to have met all of you and I’m so fucking excited to meet you again.
We will laugh, cry and fall together and always stand up, move on, make our own way.
We rock this world. We are the change and I’m so proud to be a part of this all together with you.
The loneliness has an end.