Supercharged or Regular?

Some days I get so pumped up like I’m in my best element and can achieve almost anything. So I do and do and do. You know, strike while the iron is hot.

Other days I slump and feel uninspired. I want to be lazy and just not care too much about what’s going on in the world.

Maybe it’s just me, but I wonder, do I really need to pursue things and work nonstop, or just do things I love, without the feeling of being obligated or even having to meet any deadline?

We fill our days with plenty of to-do lists that life becomes a project instead of an experience. 

Society dictates who we should be. It defines what success looks like and we succumb to this definition. All along we know, that at the end of it all, what would matter is ours and our loved ones opinion of us, not the whole world. The world can go by without remembering how much we’ve made for ourselves, or how famous we’ve become but perhaps how we’ve made an impact to the lives of the people around us.

And yet, how do we accomplish such a thing?

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

Viktor Frankl

A freely chosen task. That’s what struck me the most.

Maybe it’s not the same for everyone. It doesn’t have to be. It can even change at any point in time.  So I guess the question is, “What is it for you?”. “What is your freely chosen task?”. Right now I’m starting to think.

I don’t need to get too hung up with outputs and outcomes. This is my life, my time, and I can freely choose what to do with it.

To Squander or To Make It Count.

More than time being our responsibility, it’s first and foremost an accountability.  It’s a limited resource that reduces in number every second of the day until it finally runs out.  Now what we do with it is indeed our call. It doesn’t have to feel like an obligation, rather, something cherished simply because we’re not gonna get any more of it.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure… but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Francis Chan

In the end, when somebody asks you, “How was your life?”. It’s either, “Well you know, It happened” or “Yeah, I lived it and t’was hell of a ride!”.

Supercharged or regular? I cannot care about your choice any more than I should care about mine. But tell you what. When those white hairs start to stick out , wrinkles and all, come by and see me. Let’s talk about it with a couple of beers. And maybe bring along some pizza! 

This Is Why You Never Get To Fulfill Your Dream

My friend’s biggest regret is not being able to pursue her passion.  “Life got in the way”, she said.  I could feel her deep sense of frustration while we were talking. It was a bit disappointing too. Why? There she was, in her 40s, still young, but already giving up on her dreams. In her mind, there is no room for it anymore.

I think that’s the main problem.  We give up on our dreams even before we could even begin to make them happen.  We come up with a dozen excuses, like not having the time, not being ready, not having the opportunity.  All these limiting beliefs come into the surface and  90% of the time these are self-created.  The obvious question is this:

Who would believe you then if you don’t believe in yourself?

“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” ― C. JoyBell C.

At the root of giving up too soon is FEAR.

Fear of Failure

Who wants to be called a loser, right? Nobody wants to be laughed at, ignored, or rejected. Hence, to avoid the pain and shame, we never try. When we don’t try we feel like a failure- frustrated and angry.  Then we pick ourselves up and attempt again only to get cold feet at the first thought of failure. As you can see, the cycle continues.

Fear of The Unknown

For most of us, we like to figure out EVERYTHING before we begin. We like things to be predictable and certain, so we think long, and research a lot like we have an eternity to do it. We spend so much time planning that we never launch. Oftentimes we get caught up in what we call Analysis Paralysis.

Analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis) describes an individual or group process when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed”, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon.   [Wikipedia]

Fear immobilizes us and kills our dreams. Imagine the power we give it.

There are different ways to cope with FEAR but I believe we could start with two.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Life is too short.  Learn to laugh at yourself, and try again. Ask stupid questions if you must and use outcomes as your feedback, to do better, to know better.  Grow. That’s the more important thing.

Give yourself a deadline when making decisions.

Forget about perfection. Clarify your goal. Break down complex matters into smaller actionable steps. That way you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps. Just like the old days.

I believe it’s always a question of how desperate you are to get something. It’s like gasping for air when you’re suffocating. If you want  it bad enough, you know you have to do something and do it.

sundaewrites

Why Having More Choices Can Make You Feel Less Happy

It all boils down one thing. But first, let’s go through a typical day.

From the minute you wake up, your mind would have gone through a long list of decisions to make.

  • What will I have for breakfast?
  • What clothes do I wear today?
  • Which pair of shoes would go with it?
  • What should I prioritize at work?
  • What can I order for lunch?
  • Which flavor of ice cream shall I have?
  • Which coffee shall I order?
  • Should I opt for plan A, D, or F?
  • Shall I have meat tonight or fish?
  • Which brand of tissues should I go for? Brand of shampoo?
  • Which show do I watch on Netflix? Which program do I watch on tv?

And the list goes on, and longer especially when you are a parent, a spouse, and you’re trying to do all things and squeeze them all in one day.

Is choosing meant to be a joy-stealer? No. Then why is it draining our energy? Mind you,

It’s not the decision that’s exhausting us, it’s the number of options we have on the table.

Think about these.

If you only have one pair of office shoes, you’d just wear them every day regardless of the style or color of clothes you put on.

If there’s only one brand of tissue, one brand of shampoo, your trip to the grocery store would be done in less than half an hour.

If there’s only one show on Netflix, you never have to scroll through it for too long. You just decide whether to watch it or not.

If there’s only one school in your town or city, you won’t have to spend time comparing. Instead, you can focus your energy on finding ways to pay off tuition fees.

Too many options lead us to experience what Psychologists call Decision Fatigue. It’s

the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.

Wikipedia

Why? Because,

We use the same amount of willpower every time we make a decision regardless if it’s important or not.

Having too many options before us can be exhausting. Imagine scanning through a lot of information, choices, and combinations, that you end up feeling like, you don’t know what you want anymore. So when you’re faced with more important decisions, you’re left with depleted energy, no focus, and no wits.

There’s no quick way to fix this, but definitely,

We could start with reducing our choices

Dr. Laurie Santos- Yale University

Perhaps:

  • Have the same thing for dinner every night. Create a routine.
  • Have a fewer set of clothes, or stick to two pairs of shoes.
  • Stick to one color theme at home.
  • Only keep one phone. One tv. One mug, if you’re living alone.

Whatever you decide, keep things simple so it’s easier for you. Remember, you only have limited mental energy for the day. Make sure you use it, where it matters the most.

How To Discover Your Passion

Some of the people I know are lucky enough to have figured at a young age the things that they’re passionate about.  But for most of us, the journey to discovery wasn’t easy.

A mentor of mine once said that if you’re into music and thinking about learning to play an instrument, you have to experiment with at least one from different classes: percussion, wind, strings, electronic, and determine which one feels more like you. Playing an instrument is supposed to be an expression of the music in you, so you have to pick up one which best translates the colors and shapes you silently see or the symphony that rings beautifully in your ear.



Once you have chosen an instrument, you have to go on full gear. Work on learning and improving your skills and fend off any temptation to be good as well in any other instruments. Good is the enemy of the best. Remember that. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. If you want to command a high level of proficiency at playing one instrument then dedicate all your time, energy and wits to it. That way you get to focus on one thing and one thing only.  This is the way of the champions and the path of the people we call experts in their chosen fields.

Proponents of multitasking teach us to do so many things at the same time. While this may fit in some circumstances like household chores or tasks which are more routine, mechanical or predictable, this won’t work if you want to immerse yourself in deep work. The latter would require intense focus to a point where you are oblivious to the world around you. This is where you get to experience the flowa state where you are no longer outside of what’s happening, rather, you are in it, intricately woven into the fabric of what’s unfolding: the process of creating, learning, imagining and expressing.

The flow, is more like being, instead of doing.  Any deep, meaningful work would give you that experience. If any of your work gets you in the flow that reveals one simple truth- that is where your passion lies, the one thing in this world that’s true to you, that speaks of who you are, what’s important to your soul, and what your very core is truly made of.

Discovering your passion takes a lot of time and a lot of trial and error. But the more you open yourself to possibilities and explore the world around you, the sooner you will find your calling.  Allow yourself to get lost so you reach unchartered territories. Your inner compass will point you home.  You see, passion is like a homing device. It will beckon you like a lighthouse when you’re caught in a sea of options, desires, wants or wishes.

Explore. Get out of your comfort zone and your limiting beliefs of what you can or cannot do. It’s only in the process of discovering, that you will liberate your true self. Once you find your passion, know that it is your gift not only to the world but to your self. So take responsibility to nourish it, hone it, and refine it ‘till it feels like you’re holding ounces of silver in your hands.

In The Zone

Five years ago, I had a couple of friends who would come by my place to jam.  With guitars and portable amps, they would arrive at seven in the evening. We would catch up a bit before kicking off our sort of rehearsal with “Hosanna”, a song by Brooke Ligertwood, and play a couple more pieces. That makes three songs in a row, played and sung on repeat mode. Call it passion in action.

These sessions went on for almost two weeks and every single night, we’d finish past midnight. No breaks but just focused work and the occasional exchange of ideas on how we can deliver better.  My roommate would quip, “You guys are definitely in the zone. Anybody could see it”!

In the zone. Wow! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience that every single time?  Unfortunately, we don’t.

Many people don’t get to find their passion as easily as maybe you and I. So for us, we have a responsibility to keep it alive and burning. To have the constant eagerness to strike while the iron is hot. 

 

 

A good friend of mine told me once, “If you stop singing, you’re going to explode. So don’t ever think about quitting”.  She was right. When I did quit, I exploded.  

Letting go of your passion, may not cause you to burst into pieces as fast as fireworks vanishing into thin air. But slowly it will leave you dry, dull and bored. Imagine a canvass with nothing on it, no lines, no shapes, no color, just plain, white, empty space.

 

Yours can be the hand of a painter who could bring colours to life.
Yours can even be the wits of a comic who could make people laugh with peculiar jokes.
Yours can be the words of a poet who could melt any maiden’s heart with a lyrical prose.

 

Whatever that passion is, you are alive because of it. It’s your GIFT, and it will lead you to you’re unique CALLING.  

We are all pieces of a puzzle. If we don’t fit in our piece, the whole puzzle will never be put together. Think about it, in God’s grand design, you are part of it. Quite a responsibility isn’t it? But quite an honor too!

Friend, my desire for you is to find your passion. Nurture it, and share it with the rest of the world.  We’ve waited long enough for you.

 

 

“How do I find my passion”?  You ask.  

Get to know your self.

Explore the many things you’re curious about.

Try. Make mistakes, and fail forward.

Be true to who you are. Stop pretending to be someone else. Stop living somebody else’s life.

Go out there. Get out of your comfort zone.

Get a coach, a mentor or have a role model.

Talk to people you trust and ask them what they think are you good at.

Take heed of compliments freely given to you.

Fill a gap, a void, a lack, or solve a need, a problem, or answer a call.

And to nurture it? 

Find your tribe.

Focus on your WHY.

Yes, it’s always hard at the start. There are many roads out there and it can be confusing and frustrating. But the one who searches, the one who looks, will have increased his chance of finding his true north.

 

Passion. Let it burn you. Leave a glow or better, dazzle the world!

 

Why Care About A Morning Ritual?

It’s important.  At first, I wasn’t a believer myself. But as I got older, life became more demanding. I realized then that we have to be more intentional of our days instead of allowing others to rule it for us. This is where a morning ritual comes in. You have to set up the tone for the day. It’s more like conditioning your mind, body, and spirit before embarking on the day’s journey.

Morning rituals can differ from one person to another. Designing it should correspond to your need. For example, If you’re days are stressful, you might want to start your day with some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. If you feel spiritually weak, then maybe you can dive into your Bible or tune in to a Christian radio station first thing in the morning.  If your typical day, however, involves more physical action, then maybe you can go for a run before the dawn breaks to pump up your adrenaline. 

 

Most people would combine these morning activities with things like having a healthy meal, share meaningful conversations with loved ones, or goof around with kids, anything that sets up a positive mood or fills the air with positive energy. Of course, doing these entails waking up early, which further means not resisting an early nightcap.

Some people start the day planning and writing down priorities.  That way, no matter how chaotic, busy, or demanding the day goes, they go to work with a strong intention and commitment to accomplish what they have set out to do.  This allows them to end their day with a sense of fulfillment.

Morning rituals would do us good especially during these times when most people are stretched out to thin. With lots of responsibilities and expectations to meet, a sense of balance is getting harder to achieve.  Regardless of what your circumstances are, you have to be deliberate in determining the course of your life instead of going with the flow. Else you will find yourself wondering where the years have gone by. You’d regret knowing you’ve missed out a lot in your own life mainly because you became too occupied meeting other people’s agenda.

You don’t want to fall victim to a busy world and a demanding environment. You don’t want to go through your days completely detached from what you want to accomplish meaningfully for yourself and the people who matter to you.  To truly live, you have to be purposeful, and you have to set out that purpose at the start of each day.  

There’s no blueprint for a perfect morning ritual. You can create it and make some improvements along the way. You have to adapt it to your needs. Discover what works for you and continue doing what gives you results.  The purpose of these rituals is to enhance your life, improve your days, increase the quality of your relationships and fulfill your reason for being.

Now the challenge:  Think about a morning ritual that you can start. Create a simple one that you can accomplish every single day and see how it improves your life.

Once

I never appreciated the value of gratefulness until I woke up one day to realize that in my pursuit of happiness it was the missing piece.

Knowing and being thankful for your blessings is one thing.  But naming your blessing and calling them out one by one in the face of sadness and despair is another.

Lately, I’ve been so absorbed with the discomfort of a body pain. I’ve been dealing with it for years. I would whine about it in my mind and blame it for things I couldn’t do, for my short temper, and intolerance to just about anything. Though I never blurted my dissatisfaction out loud nor acted on the annoyance I get to contend with every day, the inner struggle was real and was taking its toll on me. Depression set in, to a point where I questioned, “Why am I even here if I’m up to no good”. Believe me, it wasn’t always my narrative. At at a young age, I already believed I was special- just like everyone else.

My appreciation of every person as being unique and innately good, made me sought and believe in the undeniable gift that every human being can bring into this world- the gift of being their own authentic self.

But though inherently pure and innocent, we cannot deny the truth that as we grow old, our minds get corrupted, we get tempted, we grow frail, and of course, we retire, for good.  Often times we forget about these realities and wonder why people do hurtful things and make bad choices.  We get worried when we start to feel physically weak and we get drawn into the illusion that our strongholds will always be there, till they betray us or leave us.

A time will come when these truths will sink in and find their way to unsettle our steady hearts. Some realities we can change, and some we can’t.  And because not everything in our lives is perfect we have to take the good with the bad. When bad gets overwhelming, we have to start reminding ourselves of things that are actually working in our lives. Mastering this power will help us focus on what we have, instead of magnifying the things that we lack.

“Once I get that gold medal, I will be happy”.

“Once I get a raise I’ll be more passionate about my job” 

“Once I hit the lottery, I’ll be generous to every person I know.

“Once this sickness goes away, I will work to achieve my goals.”

“Once I have everything I could ever want, I vow to love everyone I meet”.

Conditions. We attached them to promises, to our purpose, and to our goals. But do these conditions need to be satisfied before we start doing the things that we know we’re supposed to do?  What if we remove them and declare that starting now,

“I will be happy”.

“I will be more passionate with my job”. 

“I will be generous to every person I know”.

“I will fulfill my dreams”.

“I will love all the people around me”.

Anything is pretty much doable, don’t you think? Getting rid of conditions we set for ourselves, rewards us with the freedom of making our own deliberate choices, regardless of our circumstances.  And that ultimately defines the person we become.

We can only go as far as we allow ourselves to go. So enough with conditions and excuses. The world doesn’t owe us anything. But we owe one thing to the world- – a better us.

 

Question.

What conditions have you set for yourself? How did it limit you in any way? What big decisions did you make? Share your thoughts. Love to hear from you.

FOMO

“Run your own race, and most importantly, own it”.- sundaewrites

I have struggled with the fear of missing out (FOMO) few times in the past. My schedule was filled with commitments I thought I have to make and responsibilities I felt I needed to take, else nobody will. In all those cases I believed I could do everything and on my own. I barely had enough rest, rarely gave myself space or just little moments to breathe life in. I was always breathing out- giving and doing ‘till I felt so drained, so used up and figured I needed to get away from all of it.

Believe me, it was so difficult with FOMO dancing before my eyes like wildfire. I faced a lot of questions in all shapes and sizes:
-who’s gonna do this when I’m not around,
-what if no other opportunity comes
-what if I miss the fun
-what if this business succeeds and I failed to be a part of it
-what if I abandon this project and it fails
-what if my teammates can’t handle this on their own

At that point, I knew I needed to let go and trust. Let go of the worries, fears, the scarcity mentality, and believe that I need some time to rest and give God room to do His wonders.

This introspection did bring some old fundamental questions:

What is my WHY? What path do I intend to take? Is it leading me to where I want to go?

Am I traveling light, or do I have heavy loads on my back filled with stuff I don’t really need?

Am I answering a call or just drifting through my days, or worse, climbing someone else’s ladder?

 

When you unplug from the world and all its cares and just enjoy a sunny afternoon outside with the sweet warmth of northern breeze touching your skin, it’s refreshing. As what a good friend said, “When you spend time with nature, you get to slow down everything by losing yourself in the moment”.  And I do believe it. Pulling yourself away from the noise and distractions moves you closer to your heart, your thoughts, and yes your very soul.

Like a garden, our inner core needs nurturing too. If we want to give meaningful gifts to the world, we need to feed our entire being. We have to give ourselves time to grow deeper roots, so we can bear more fruit, and good ones at that.

My friend, I don’t know what you’re filling your days with. But I hope whatever you do today is really meaningful because you’re exchanging a day of your life for it. If right now you’re in a place where you feel like you’re swamped with a lot of urgent and important tasks, I invite you to pause for a moment. Empty your table. Take seven deep breaths. Inhaling through your nose and breathing through your mouth. Then slowly, pick the things that you really need at the moment, put them back on the table, leave the rest on the floor. In your life, try adopting this mental exercise too. Take just what you need and carry on. Be fluid.

Abundance-think of it, believe it. Once you do, you’d never be haunted by the fear of missing out. You’ll begin to see the world with more than enough for everyone. Yes, you can pursue anything you want but make sure it counts. Let it define the beauty of your unique existence. Run your own race, and more importantly, own it. Don’t let the world run it for you nor let it decide for you.

Your life is your responsibility, and whatever good thing you have today, there’s more where that came from.

 

 

How To Handle Negativity At Work

“Your inner peace, like everything that’s personal to you, is your responsibility. Don’t let anyone or anything outside of you disturb that peace. It’s too precious to be annoyed”.- sundaewrites

 

 

So you show up for work, happy and excited. You open up your email and see three glaring entries.

-from your boss, disappointed with results, urgently demands improvement
-from a colleague, urgent demand for an explanation why something was not —-done or not done right
-from a customer, angry, dissatisfied with your service, urgently demands action

 

Do this email entries change your mood? Oftentimes, yes. Will it affect your good intentions? Well, It shouldn’t.

 

Though we did not assign weight or intensity in the three cases above, we can agree that most of the time, they come with a lot of anger, blame, and loads of negative energy.

 

If you’ve seen that facebook video about people carrying emotional garbage and dumping that to everyone they come in contact with, the cases above are classic examples of it.

 

In this fast-paced world, where most of us are expected to work like machines and process floods of information all at once, the pressure that people get is too much, the stress, intolerable. And oftentimes, pressure and stress get the better of us. We forget the reality that we’re actually dealing with human beings.

 

In such an environment, the fight or flight mode is activated in people’s mind. That’s what causes bosses to shout at subordinates, employees to find someone to blame, clients to harass service providers or the other way around. We obviously want to lift the weight from our shoulders and demand other people to carry it for us. Bluntly, yes, we dump our garbage on to other people.

Photo Credit: Tim Goedhart
Photo Credit: Tim Goedhart

If you are at the receiving end of this relationship, what do you do? Personally, my used-to-be default tendency was to retaliate: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But now, I know better.

 

One of my mentors taught me to change the rules of the game. Not any more to react, but instead, to influence. To change the atmosphere of whatever room I go into.

 

Call it taking the higher ground, changing your normal stance, attitude and intention will do a lot of benefits not just for others but more so for you.

-to give rather than to take
-to help rather than to restrain
-to serve rather than to hurt
-to understand rather than to strike back

 

Recently, I was faced with a blaming game at work, and instead of defending myself or highlighting the other person’s negligence, I thought to myself, “This is not one of the battles I want to spend my energy on”.

 

So what did I do? I changed my stance. I thought about where this person is coming from, what is he going through and what made him say the things he said.

 

I believe that inherently, people are good. So understanding where this person’s anger and blaming are coming from, allowed me to see through him and the situation. Then I asked myself. “How can I help this person”? “How can I best serve him”?

 

So I end up pacifying the guy and we were able to work out a solution to the situation.

 

If only I could replicate this approach every single time, then I’d be someone who becomes a part of the solution instead of a contributor to a problem.

 

Sure, losing your cool is the easy way out. But that comes with a price. While patience and endurance, you get a far more fulfilling reward.

photo credit: Denise Altindas

Your inner peace, like everything that’s personal to you, is your responsibility. Don’t let anyone or anything outside of you disturb that peace. It’s too precious to be annoyed.

 

Question:
Have you encountered someone who’s dumped their garbage on you? How did you react? What did you learn from that experience? What insights did it give you regarding people you work with?

The Power of The Mind

“Our brain is a gift. But like any other gift, it has to carefully choose its master”. – sundaewrites

 

 

 

Mind Power.
Brain Power.

Have you stumbled upon these words? Searching it on google would give you numerous results. Try it. You’ll see.

When you get hundreds of search results on a subject, it conveys two basic things.

The subject is important.
The findings are valuable.

The topic of Brain Power has been determined to be very relevant these days, and the discoveries of how it influences a person’s success have proven to be a very useful knowledge.

A friend and I were on the road one night. We talked about the struggles we face every now and then and realized that most of these battles begin inside our head. If we’re not careful and we don’t fight back, the battle could easily be lost, way before it happens in the physical space. Joy gets stolen. Future grows dim.

What we feed our brains can give birth to a platoon of little soldiers who will serve either the good or the bad. Negative thoughts can breed envy, self-pity, worry, blame, hate, vengeance, and fear, to name a few, while positive thoughts can create a garden of dreams, hope, beauty, joy, forgiveness, serenity, and contentment to mention some.

photo credit: Cristina Gottardi
photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

How we look at things, act or speak is determined by the set of thoughts that plays the loudest in our head. If you want some thoughts to be more audible than the rest, you have to lower the volume of the unwanted ones or at best invalidate their entry pass. That way, you maintain harmony inside your head, and you get the results you really want.

Our brain is a gift. But like any other gift, it has to carefully choose its master. If you are to use it to serve the greater good, then, like owning a garden, sow good seeds. Water and nurture your brain by allowing it to grow, to develop, to imagine and to dream. Eliminate the weeds by imposing discipline. Don’t allow it to wander irresponsibly into useless, destructive territories.

Our brain is very vulnerable so we have to guard and protect it to ensure it treads the path leading to meaningful success where our life gains fulfillment and joy, growth and contribution, contentment and peace.

The conversation I had with my friend that night led me to realize that I could have done things differently in the past had I practiced the art of mastering my mind. A lot of bad choices could have been avoided, progress could have been more easy, seamless and fast. But I am not one to live with regrets. It’s water down the bridge and I can still take hold of my future by exercising my power now.

So today, I resolve to discipline my thoughts, to carefully choose what I feed my brain. I resolve to magnify what’s good, pure and meaningful and ignore all other thoughts that don’t fit in. I will “mindfully” do this in the course of three weeks to eventually turn it into a habit. If you’re in, journey with me in the next 21 days and let’s find out together how our lives can change by mastering our mind.

photo credit: Josh Applegate
photo credit: Josh Applegate

 

 

Question:
Was there an experience in your life that made you realize the power of your brain? How are you nurturing this power? How do you intend to use it?