The Circle of Happiness or Why Self-Care is an Obligation

“When are you going to honour yourself?” During my morning meditation on my 31st birthday it comes crashing down on me.

My construct of negative thoughts can’t sustain itself anymore.

Like an avalanche boulders of anxiety, self-doubt, misgiving and hesitation fall off my back. Lightness captures my whole body.

My energy level rises headspinningly quick.

The ‘doer’ is taking over. There is only flow – no fighting, no dispute. The imprisonment is over. Finally the refreshing breeze of freedom is rejuvenating my senses.  

All the tension is released. The vibration amplifies apruptly. There is nothing but sympathy and concord. I’m expanding. Tears of gratefulness turn my face into a riverbed. The salt water washes away the remains of my resentments.

Every fiber of my body screams “FORGIVE YOURSELF”. Release is imperative.

Happiness updates its definition. Destiny welcomes me with open arms. I saw it coming, but it doesn’t downgrade my reverence.

It is here – doubtlessly: The reward of my journey.

For a long time I was obsessed with improving my productivity. A long time I tried to learn as many skills as possible – I still do to some extend. I wanted to read one book a week, learn two languages at the same time, learn coding, web design, improve my motion design skills, produce music and get better at writing, public speaking, coffee making, barkeeping and so on and so on.

‘On the side’ I wanted to volunteer, learn sailing and in the meantime I was trying to meet my friends, find a boyfriend, eat healthy, start a business, travel… Hahaha, now only writing this down I feel dizzy. How could I think I would ‘succeed’ with this ‘attempt’? And how could I think I would be beneficial for others? And at the end – beneficial for the planet? (This is what I’m modestly aiming for.)

Nowadays my life choices maneuver me further and further away from the work-hard-play-hard mentality.

After all the ‘paradigm’: “If you are not stressed out you are not working hard enough.” still dominates the heads of us westerners. This applies to all areas of life. ‘Having time’ for oneself doesn’t seem to be worthwhile in a society where any activity is always on our fingertips. If you are not busy, you are doing something wrong.

Our time is scheduled from the day we are born. Isn’t it crazy!?

Anyhow: I ended up being completely exhausted with my attempt to do as much as possible. I’m surprised my nervous system hadn’t collapsed yet (Knock on wood!).

Beating The Torturer

“Before you can save the world you need to know who you are.” This was a piece of advice by a friend I couldn’t get a hold of in years. He addressed my – let’s be a bit pathetic here – desperate try to ‘do good’  in this world.

What he meant was that I always searched for the me in the outside. By achieving or doing something that I considered as meaningful I expected ‘to move along’ the path of self-discovery.

In reality the opposite was the case: The more I did the more I moved away from my path. I moved away from the core of my being.

Instead of finding out about my deepest needs I jumped head over heels from one challenge to another. Don’t get me wrong – challenges are good in order to find out what you are capable of. But by being obsessed with challenges I only distracted myself. I wanted to proof myself that I’m strong enough to accomplish everything. If I wouldn’t succeed I would beat myself up.

There was this voice telling me: “You are not doing enough.” – every single day. A voice that kept beating me up with reproaches all the time.

Something big had to change. Taming the torturer in my head – this became my real mission instead of being my own punisher.

“We better be nice to ourselves. Nobody wants to hang out with assholes.” Unfortunately I don’t know who this quote belongs to. Maybe I flung it into my notebook myself.

In any case – the message is clear: Be nice to yourself. Have self-compassion. Love yourself more. How many times have I been repeating these phrases? How long have I been trying so hard to cultivate this compassion with myself? I even wrote about it many times.

Become One With Yourself And Then Become One With The World

Before you can connect with the world you have to connect with yourself first. And how can you connect with yourself if you are your hardest critic?

In order to spread love and positive energy on this planet you have to love yourself first. Treat yourself like you want to be treated by others – it sounds so simple and platitudinous but yet it is crucial.

We can only make a contribution to this society if we attempt every action with a positive mindset. If we want to make the world a better place we better be happy. Happiness is contagious. Malcom Gladwell explains it very well in “The Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.”

“We normally think of the expressions on our face as the reflection of an inner state. I feel happy, so I smile. I feel sad, so I frown. Emotion goes inside out. Emotional contagion, though, suggests that the opposite is also true. If I can make you smile, I can make you happy. If I can make you frown, I can make you sad. Emotion in this sense, goes outside-in.” Malcom Gladwell

Demasking Your Desires

Recently I found out that in order to cultivate this compassion I have to go through the process of what I call ‘demasking my desires’. My journey is re-conditioning. Back to root level. And only from there I can carry out something.

The process of learning about my needs is a painful one. The pursuit of carving out my personality provokes disappointment and loneliness. Like a snake I’m peeling myself as I grow out of my old skin. Over and over I shuffle off one layer at a time. Every layer requires its own technique. I really need to take the time to learn about these techniques.

Why is it such a long and complicated process? If I don’t take the time to question my desires I eventually won’t find out about my real needs. I need an example for this:

If I have the desire to get drunk every weekend or I’m obsessive about my relationship then I might distract myself from something. To be more precise: I distract myself from connecting with my own self and fulfilling my own needs.

I might want to ask “Where I am avoiding life at the moment?” This process requires honesty and courage. It is not easy. It’s time-consuming and there are a lot of forthright questions to answer.

Self-compassion is crucial for this process. Self-compassion is nothing else than self-care. And self-care is another word for self-love.

Self-care is not just treating yourself once in a while, it is nurturing yourself with what you need for your survival. And what do I need? I need to do what makes me feel the best version of who I am. It is my obligation to take these needs seriously.

Repeat After Me: “My Energy Resources are Limited.”

I only have a certain amount of lifetime and according energy to spend on this planet. It is important to spend it wisely. Okay, pseudo-hyper-human, repeat after me: “My energy resources are limited.”

So, in which area am I going to invest my energy? In the area where I’m not good at? In the area where I have the most deadly learning curve? Haha, ‘nice try’ the universe is laughing out loud.

When do my eyes sparkle the most? What parts of my job do I enjoy? Who do I admire and why? When do I feel myself the most? When do I feel the most alive?

The answers to these questions are the ones that are pulling us in the right direction. What draws our attention smoothly is where we find fulfillment.

When our eyes sparkle the most we are able to connect with each other and share our gift. When we feel the least exhausted and the most alive we are able to share. And this is also when we are able to be in service for other people.

So, it is my obligation to make sure that my glass is always full. Nobody can benefit from me when I’m not my best self.

Yes, it is that simple. This is following your bliss. This is self-care. It sounds pretty straight forward, but getting there is the challenge of a lifetime.

Since I started to invest in my strengths, I manifest positive change in my life. I become the change that I want to see in this world. The circle of unhappiness had ended and this is the beginning of a new circle. The circle of happiness.

Finally I’m following my excitement and the excitement is following me.

Treat Yourself With Not Giving a Fuck

There are always people who disagree. People who are disappointed, because I don’t do what they want me to do. It took me an disproportionate time to understand that it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of me or expects of me.

I want to be my best self and this is why I take care of myself. I can only serve a higher purpose if I’m in peace with myself. It’s not that I want to not give a fuck, no, I have to. It is healthy for me and necessary in order to live up to my own values.

Self-care is crucial in order to fulfill our purpose on this earth.

So, “When are you going to honour yourself?”

 

Overdoing Life

I admire people who target one goal at a time and just go for it. For me every day is a new beginning. I want everything at once everyday. I exhaust myself with constant input. My goals are changing constantly. My dreams are chasing each other like clouds in the sky.

Is this insanity? Or is this detachment? I’m not quite sure. For sure it doesn’t get me anywhere – where I’m wishing to be. And THIS is attachment. The idea of having an idea, where I want to be. Haha, take this life.

My perception of time is completely off. What is possible within a day, a year or a lifetime? I really don’t know. There are these moments that change everything. These moments are out of my control. But I can control which direction I’m heading.

Yeah, yeah – My energy resources are limited. I only have this one life. I need to stay grounded. I’m aware of all these things. I’m not stupid. But the concept of ‘making a living’ seems so foreign to me – so ‘made’ up.

I don’t know how all these people ‘do’ life? To me it just happens.

Am I ‘overdoing’ it or is everyone else?

 

The Universe Doesn’t Understand “No”

Imagine you grow a tomato plant on your windowsill. You plant the seed and a couple of days later a tiny seedling is making its way towards the sun. Would you think: “This is not a tomato plant.” ?

No, you would water and nurture it. At some point – sooner than later – this plant will carry fruits and provide you with vitamins and minerals.

I get nothing done by being busy telling myself “I’m so unproductive”. My perfectionism clearly is holding me back from growing on any level. I screw myself deeper into the spiral of negative thinking with every negative thought that I phrase.

Instead I need to focus on the progress I already made. Not even this – all I have to do is to set my intention right, the rest will follow. To rephrase this: “We learn despite of ourselves.”. This is something the wise Don Juan is pointing out in Castaneda’s learnings. (“The teachings of Don Juan”) And it is so true – to me still surprisingly true.

Right now I’m not able to make any decisions for the future. I beat myself up and up and up for being so confused and unable to set my target right. Instead I should be grateful for having many opportunities and directions to go – the decision will come by itself anyway as soon as I go along.

It is possible to project this belief on any given situation, any “subject of learning”. The limiting belief of “not having” something [love, money, health, success] is holding us back from receiving it.

This seems to be not my personal problem, but a problem of our western society. We don’t even see the wealth and the opportunities that we have. Instead we always need something more. “I have enough” is the new “I want more”.

Now I’m sitting here in the shine of the candle light. It is early morning of what we define as christmas eve over here on my end of the world. I’m still protected by the dark of the night. I’m a bit irritated, because I don’t understand how this thought could dawn me only now?

But hey, here we go again. There it is again: the limiting belief system. A healthy thought should be: “Thank you for the insight, universe (or who ever feels responsible)”.

This is another example for: “Our thoughts become our reality”. If something is not happening yet, it is still about to grow.

Let’s keep watering the plants. We can only harvest the fruits of the seeds that we sow. Instead of being afraid of creation I turn my fear into creation.

Peace out and merry christmas to everyone!

 

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