3 Steps Towards Positive Thinking

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!

 

3 Habits that Help Me to Live in the Present Moment

Do you know this feeling of losing control over your time and energy? This feeling of being controlled by external forces? If not I envy you. These days I feel like I’m burning out a bit.

Jobwise but also socially a lot of commitments gnaw away my energy – finishing video projects in one job, long nights at the bar-job, mulled wine at the Christmas market ;), family meetings and so on and so on. Plus: I stress myself out in order to finish my personal goals for this year. The end of the year should be the time to hibernate or at least recover and reset, but somehow it is the opposite – busy as f***.

Of course it is up to me, but somehow I can’t help myself right now. Well, there is something I can do in order to reclaim control: Aiming for a life in the present moment!

Time to pull the handbrake – Another threesome is overdue! 😉

1. Breathing actively

Yes, the good old breathe. Without it our whole body wouldn’t work. It doesn’t only provide every cell in our body with oxygen. It also relaxes us. If we pay attention to our breathe we become aware of our body. And as soon as we focus on our body we forget our daily and mainly trivial problems.
That’s why I started to breathe more thoughtfully. Especially in stressful situations a few rounds of deep inhalation and exhalation release a lot of tension.

I always imagine how clean air is flowing into my body. From my nasal wings the air flows into my lungs, where it spreads out into every tiny fibre of my chest. All of a sudden my chest is filled with fresh air which starts circulating through the rest of my body. It wanders through my arms into my fingertips and from my belly into my legs and toes.

Every part of my body gets subserved with oxygen. Through this image I arrive in the present moment as my thoughts become obsolete. Just try it yourself.

2. Acknowledging my location

Well, often the breathing goes hand in hand with locating myself: On the way to the subway I acknowledge my surrounding – the trees, the sky, the colours, the air. I try not to think about my tasks at work.

The other day I read something interesting about “stress”, which made me realise that stress is just an invention of the western society. In Namibia for example the word stress doesn’t even exist. They divide time into rooms. In every moment you are present only in one room. You only act, live, love or work in one room. The next action will eventually take place in a different room. But now you exist only in this one room, so there is no need to be bothered about the next room.

Everything, every action has it’s time and it’s space. If you brush your teeth you don’t tie your shoes. If you tie your shoes, you are not at the subway. If you are in the subway you can’t be bothered about your job. If you experience the present moment – the room you are in – you can’t be bothered about the future.

3. Remembering that I am not my thoughts

We were born with the absence of thoughts. When we were born we didn’t have thought in our head. Basically we were the essence of life, pure existence, true love or however you want to call it. We didn’t have all these doubts and questions in our head. Sometimes in stressful situations I really like to go back to this place in my head. It helps me to take things more easily. I try to see my thoughts just as something temporary that can’t effect my mood.

Just give it a try and drop all your thoughts. Remember that your thoughts are just something superficial you can easily leave behind. Feel the relief and the freedom. This is meditation too.

“That is the simple secret of happiness. Whatever you are doing, don’t let past move your mind; don’t let future disturb you. Because the past is no more, and the future is not yet. To live in the memories, to live in the imagination, is to live in the non-existential. And when you are living in the non-existential, you are missing that which is existential. Naturally you will be miserable, because you will miss your whole life.”

Osho

 

3 Habits That Make Me Happy(ier)

I still suck at meditating. I’m far away from being a non-smoker (after announcing “I quit smoking” several times.) Sometimes I even leave the house without brushing my teeth (luckily I store a toothbrush at the office). I feel so ill-disciplined in many ways.

BUT in order to stay motivated in the process of incorporating positive new behaviors, I want to share even my small successes and learnings with you. (That’s the whole idea of growthbuddy). There are some healthy things I integrated (nearly) without any effort into my everyday life that improve my day.

I figured that “three” is a good number to skim through. 🙂

1. Showering Cold

In July I read a facebook post about cold showers. This friend was literally raving about the revolutionary effect of cold showers on his life. I was fairly impressed. The benefits of contrast showers in “Kneipp” manor in order to increase the blood circulation were not new to me. In the past I experienced cold showers as an unbeatable hangover-cure. So I gave it a go.

The water in Munich is freezing cold, but luckily it was boiling hot summer during that time. “Why not have this feeling of jumping into a mountain river every morning?”, I thought to myself and ever since I’m finishing (not beginning;) my showers cold.

What can I say? The effects I’ve noticed after three months are staggering:

  • I feel more awake – also during the whole day. No coffee can unleash this level of energy.
  • I feel stronger and happier, because I already master a challenge before I even leave the house. 😉
  • My body is toning automatically: Hot showers increase the blood circulation too, but cold showers are also triggering the so called “brown adipose tissue”. In other words: They burn more fat! Besides that cold showers help draining fluid retention in the body.
  • My hair is more healthy as cold water treats the hair structure.
  • Hungovers are easy to tackle as cold showers help detoxing.;)

2. Stretching and Squatting

During the past ten years I’ve been trying different sports: Yoga, Functional Training, Parcours, (Russian) Martial Arts, Qi-Gong, Running. During the last years I went to the Bouldering gym regularly, but the gaps between my visits vary a lot.

I still exercise as often as I can, but I just don’t really stick with anything. But there is something I found out, that helps me to improve my over-all well-being during the day: Stretching!

What do I do and why?

  • Before I go to bed and in the morning I do back stretches like a forward bend, some qi-gong movements or tricks of my favourite youtube fitness trainer in order to relieve stress and sleep (or wake up) easier.
  • Bridge or downward-facing-dog or even practicing handstand at lunchbreak before the afternoon-low is kicking in (or to cure it).
  • Writing an e-mail or brushing my teeth or doing whatever (sometimes even waiting for the bus, if not too many people are watching) in deep squat position.

Stretching is good. We all know that. The trick is, that I try to integrate it into my day-to-day life as often as I can. I don’t need to “find the time”. But these small exercises help me to relieve stress or tension in my back and my whole body feels more refreshed. I can’t really give you the scientifical reason for it, but it feels like my feet are warmer as well.

3. Walking Different Ways Home

Even if I live in the self-pro-claimed “bike city” Munich, I prefer walking to riding the bicyle. Sometimes I move my ass on the seat of my mountain bike to cruise down Isar – the river in Munich, but I avoid the city traffic completely.

Mainly I’m just lazy, but also I’m afraid of dying – it might sounds ridiculous, but I’m paranoid because of the traffic and the other bikers (because they are so fast and rude, haha.) Instead of stepping into the pedals I read books in the subway and go for extensive pavement walks across the city.

After work I’ve started to drive one station too far or I take a different line to a different area from where I can reach my home within a 20 minutes to two hours walking distance. (depending on how much time I have).

On Sundays the “left-right-left-game” became my favourite occupation. Instead of choosing a route, I navigate into a rough direction and turn left and right alternately. It always leads me to surprising places. I discover new interesting restaurants and meet different people. Sometimes I even walk home 10 km from the city centre just to get “a better feel” for the distances.

What are the benefits of walking?

  • Walking calms my nerves down, when I feel over-exerted or brain-wrecked it improves my over-all well-being.
  • An additional plus to the physical and mental benefits is the fact that I get to know the city much better. Sometimes I even walk slow intentionally to acknowledge my surrounding.
  • I walk between 8 and 15 km nearly every day.
 

3 Tricks That Will Boost Your Productivity

I am a procrastinator. Everyday I find excuses, why I’m not able to achieve my goals. Sometimes a dentist appointment is hindering me. On other days time-consuming social commitments are filling my day. On some days I’m just too tired, too lazy, too ‘uninspired’, too hungover, too “busy” with anything else apart from what I actually want to do. There is always something, that holds me back from doing, what really matters to me.

You find yourself in my distractibility? The first step is to ACCEPT, that life is an unpredictable mess sometimes (my life most of the time).

Let’s not resign ourselves to the situation of being a procrastinator. Instead of punishing ourselves for being non-productive and expanding our lack of self-confidence, let’s start to develop strategies! These tricks already helped me.

1. Go for 10-minutes Slots

I’m postponing things ALL THE TIME, but under pressure I can work effectively. So why not produce the pressure myself before the deadline is scratching the neck?

This is an advice I already got from different resources: Go for ten minute time slots! Setting an alarm is not only useful when boiling eggs, but also when you’re brain is bubbling over. Interestingly Blender Guru Andrew Price was my final eye-opener. (Video below)

The trick is to focus on one thing you have to do, one idea or one project. You start the task and within ten minutes you work as fast and intense as you can. After these ten minutes you will notice, how much you can get done within only ten minutes. After these ten minutes you find yourself either highly motivated to keep working (getting into the flow) or you move over to the next task/appointment or commitment. Either way – YOU GOT SOMETHING DONE.

Everybody should watch this video (not only people, who use Blender).

2. Fast Writing

“Writing is thinking” – This is a direct quote from the book “Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing” by Mark Levy, which I read recently.

The key is: The faster you write, the faster you think. According to Levy you have to toss your perfectionism overboard in order to reach the “essence” of your thoughts. You don’t “plan” your thoughts, right? And sometimes you have genius ideas? So why not write down your thoughts exactly the way they leave your brain?

For me this book was groundbreaking in many ways. It didn’t only revolutionize my approach, when writing an article, but also when starting a new project at work. Every project starts with a written concept, so you can apply this trick to a lot of tasks. Combined with the “timer” this trick is your master weapon.

3. Do the First Step Immediately

You are thrilled by an idea. You really want to realize it – but when? I had this feeling with this website. This growth buddy rattled around in my head for a couple of weeks. Than I decided to just buy the domain – Et voilá, the first step was made. Of course, there is still a long way, but every journey starts with the first step, right? In case of this blog, the domain was the first step.

But sometimes you might come up with ideas you can’t realize, because you don’t have the skills or the knowledge. In this case you should share it with a friend or at least write it down in your ideas book or other document – but I highly recommend you to TALK ABOUT YOUR IDEAS. It helps.

 

Hopefully you find yourself in these tricks. Do you have more advice/resources about productivity? Leave them in the comments.