Power of action

Power of action

What I do every day is determining what direction I’m going in.

If every day, I do things which are not beneficial for me and others in the long run, I will go in the direction I don’t want to go in.

If every day, I do things which are beneficial for me and others in the long run, I will go in the direction I want to go in.

There are several things which a person can do which have been proven by science to improve well-being and sense of happiness, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Cold showers
  • Breathing exercises (e.g. Wim Hof method)
  • Waking up at regular times
  • A balanced and healthy diet

For me, making these things an everyday habit had amazing benefits. Being more present, feeling happier, feeling less stress, being more productive, improving relationships just to name a few.

I think positive habits are important because each one of us has a negative side, which has the potential for actions which are detrimental to us and others. Solid, positive habits remind us of the value of positive actions and provide us with a system for moving in a positive direction.

I recommend you try it out for a week, it might just change your life. Choose the light.

Negative thinking

Negative thinking

One of the biggest challenges I faced throughout my life was being stuck in negative thought spirals.

When I was younger, I sometimes spent weeks in loops of health-related worry. People tried to explain to me how useless it is to obsess over something that is beyond my control. I didn’t see it. I remained stuck in my head.

I cared about those negative thoughts, I allowed them to shock me, I invested energy into them. I was living an illusion that I’m solving a problem by endless thinking. This made those unpleasant thoughts bigger. This made a habit of obsessing over negative content of the mind grow stronger.

Recently, I began realising that thoughts are just ideas… movies… images… products of an extremely complex human mind.

Remembering this is a way to not get lost in them. Have the perspective to see what you’re investing your time into right now. And ask yourself, is this how I want to use my time?

Worry

Worry

When I engage in worrying, I’m actually rejecting reality. I choose to focus on thoughts which are just images in my head, an expression of a mind which is incredibly complex, instead of focussing on what’s around me in the present, on reality.

When knowing this is not enough to keep my worry in check, I try to ask myself the following questions:

In my past, how many times did the things I was worried about later happen?

What is investing energy into unpleasant thoughts (which are not real) actually giving me?

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

When tomorrow comes, I will deal with the challenges of tomorrow. Today is a time to focus on today.

Being authentic

Being authentic

A year and a half ago, when I was in India, every evening I sat outside and discussed deep subjects with my friends. One night, the topic of cheerfulness came up. The prevailing opinion in the group was that we have a duty to be positive towards others. That even when we are having a bad day, we should make an effort to be nice towards others, making them feel good.

My reaction was that… it’s bullshit. I thought it’s a dishonest approach. I thought that by not expressing my feelings at a given moment, I am disregarding what is best for me and doing something to my detriment. At the time, I liked the idea that to take care of others. I need to take care of myself first and what’s a better way to take care of myself than being an honest person and expressing how I feel?

I recently discovered that I was completely wrong.

It comes down to this. When we feel bad, it’s usually because our emotions tell us that. That’s why it’s called “feeling bad”, not “thinking bad”. Since our emotions tell us how to feel, how we feel is not directly in our control. And so giving into our feelings and letting them make us act in a given way is surrounding to our weak, irrational self.

I think the much better approach is to take control of our actions, be above what our emotions dictate us and instead, base actions on values and principles. Act like the people that we are striving to become. Because only if we act like our ideals tell us, we are moving towards those ideals.

And for me, possibly the most important of those ideals, is trying to have the best impact I can on others. Not surrounding to my weak, emotional self.

Small Actions, Big Results

Small Actions, Big Results

When it comes to success, a lot of people have the idea of the big break. That all we have to do is wait patiently, do what we are doing, and then one day, success will arrive. This is why lottery tickets are so popular, in general people like the idea of getting to a place they want to be in quickly.

The truth is that even though that view of the world is very attractive, it’s not realistic. Of course, some people were lucky and got rich, but the number of them is low compared to the amount people who were in that position and didn’t achieve what they wanted to.

I first understood this when preparing for my Leaving Cert (exams before college). About three months before the exams, I realised that the better approach to achieving something is focusing on the small things that on their own don’t change much but accumulated over time, produce great results.

So in the months leading up to the exams, I would, among other things, get up early in the morning to spend half hour on revising all of my subjects. Of course, half an hour spent on this on its own didn’t make a huge difference, but the impact of this relatively simple habit was immense over time. For example, I found that just by repeating definitions every day, I was able to memorise over one hundred Physics definitions in about four weeks. And this is coming from a person who has a pretty bad memory and was never good at memorising things.

In the end, I ended up improving my results from Ds and low Cs to high Bs and As in the space of three months. This is the power of small actions done consistently over a period of time!

Overcoming the routine

Overcoming the routine

When routine takes over, days all look the same. Life becomes dull and flies by. At some point, you can’t even remember what happened two or three weekends ago. You start making excuses that you will do something exciting, travel somewhere, one day because now is not a good time. This day often doesn’t come because as you’re stuck in this dullness of repetition, curiosity slowly dies and eventually, you lose motivation to do exciting and new things.

I think the above scenario is something that everyone experiences to some extent, I know that I have, quite recently. This is what helped me to get over it.

The important realisation for me was that if I’m saying that I will do something tomorrow, I practice that way of thinking. Then tomorrow, I’m likely to say the same thing, and the day after, and the day after. By realising that if I put something off, I’m probably not going to do it, I am motivating myself to take action today.

The next challenge is knowing what to do. What helped me is just setting a time for myself where I sit down and write down things to do that pop into my head, sky being the limit. Here are some examples:
– Driving to a lake for a breakfast-picnic
– Going to an abandoned city (Pstraze, Poland) and surviving a night there
– Finding a roof of a tall building which is open and having wine there

I’m always surprised at the number of things I can come up with. I found that it’s good to pick things which don’t require a lot of time as it’s easier to do them on weekdays and weekends and keep the excitement in life!

From Chaos to Order

From Chaos to Order

How easy is it to get lost? How easy is it for the order of our lives to turn to chaos?

Extremely easy. We might think that we sorted, that our life is sorted but something can easily come up which will shake this “truth”.

That happened to me a couple of months ago, I had a bad day, I had another bad day, and then another and I found myself forgetting all the good things that I learned that have kept my life in order and kept me heading in the right direction.

Value of being honest with myself, the value of passion, the value of goals, all gone. After that, I lived day to day just fine, went to a job that I enjoyed and for which I got paid, I travelled to some places, I met up with friends and things were grand. However, underneath that, there was a feeling of being lost, a feeling of lack of direction. There was no more doing extra, no more going beyond the minimum effort necessary, no more pursuit of passions and improvement.

Eventually, after a few months, I realised this. At that time, when I looked back on things I’ve written a few months back, I wondered “how can I go from having life sorted to the opposite in a space of a few weeks?”. It doesn’t make sense. I worked hard on figuring my life out and I got quite far but then just stopped?

Eventually, I got it!

It’s not about how good or “sorted” you feel at a given time. And it’s definitely not about how much cash you have, or friends or travel destinations under your belt.

It’s about knowing the process and having things in place that, even when you get lost, will guide you back on track and set you your way towards self-improvement and life becoming better.

These things are unique for every person. For me, these include, writing in a journal every day, daily affirmations, going to the gym regularly, and spending a few hours each week on a personal project which will benefit me in the future. All these things don’t take long, an average of an hour to two hours each day, but it’s enough to keep me going in the right direction.

The Most Important Thing

The Most Important Thing

The last few weeks have been very eye-opening for me.

I think it’s like that with every period of intense changes. When we are stuck in the comfort of routines and things are not changing, it’s difficult to get a good perspective on our lives.

In the last weeks, I got out of my comfort zone and rediscovered something that I have forgotten in the last year. The power of progress and growth.

When studying for the most important exams in my life (those before college) in the first half of 2015, I was very much focused on growth. Learning and improving everyday was my life purpose. I even reminded myself of that every morning through affirmations. “I will no longer settle for less than the levels of success and fulfillment that I am truly capable of and deserve”.

Then as I finished my exams, I felt I can relax during the summer. I moved away from progress and growth and focused more on short term pleasures. This continued through the summer, first semester, Christmas, second semester and yet another summer. Of course, I was doing great things and having a great time in that year! However, it wasn’t the same as before, progress and growth was not my purpose in life.

The changed in the last few weeks and subsequent loss of comfort have showed me that progress is the most important thing. Main reason for this is that outside circumstances could always change for the worse, you might loose some things in life but the one thing you can’t loose is what you learned through progressing. Really, the thing that’s more important than outside circumstances is the person you are because you attract the outside circumstances by who you are.

In addition, if a person is not progressing, he is stuck in one place or even worse, he is degenerating. I choose the path of progress and growth. I will not settle for less than I’m capable of.

India: Small Things I Came to Appraciate

India: Small Things I Came to Appraciate

Not having to worry about washing hands. At home, we are used to the germs that surround us so we don’t have to wash and disinfect our hands throughout the day. In exotic locations however, even the most common germs can cause us to be sick.

Not having to think on the road. In Ireland, the traffic is predictable and it’s easy to be a pedestrian or driver. In India, rules of the road are constantly broken and even crossing at lights can be dangerous.

Having clean tap water. Rinsing our mouths with water after we brush our teeth is something we take for granted. It’s handy to not have to use a water bottle for that.

Modern education system. After we spent three weeks teaching in an orphanage, a young boy told us that he appreciates that we didn’t beat him.

Being born with a greater freedom to do anything. In India, the class system is strong. How people are treated often depends on the wealth of the family. This is especially true in schools where the poorer children are often bullied.

India: The Key to Happiness

India: The Key to Happiness

After a few days in India, we decided to see the coastal area of Mumbai. On our way there, we walked through a very high class area. Entire 10-storey apartment blocks were owned by individuals with tens of luxury cars around them. As we got closer to the coast this scenery changed. The homes of millionaires and billionaires were replaced by slums. Slums with dirt roads and houses made from corrugated iron. It was raining heavily since it was the middle of the monsoon – the rainy season. As I was walking through the slum, at one point on my left there was little courtyard and in it about ten young boys playing football. Despite the heavy rain and a life in what we would call appalling conditions, they had big smiles on their faces. They were happy.

This was a breakthrough moment for me. I heard many times in my life that all I need is myself to be happy but never before has it been so clear to me.

Living in a materialistic world, we think that we need favorable conditions in the outside world in order to be happy. You often hear people say “Once I get a new phone, I will be happy” or “Once I get my dream job, I will be happy”. The truth is different. If you are not happy now, you will not be happy when you add a phone to your life or change your job or make any other external change.

Unhappiness is having a habit of not appreciating what you have and focusing on what you don’t have. The only way to be happy is getting rid of that bad habit. One of the best ways of doing that is appreciation. Sit down once a day and appreciate how good your life is, thank for your family, friends, health, intelligence, life experiences. This will take you one step closer to being happy.