Year 2017 Expectations, Outcomes and Summary

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Life is ongoing change project, whatever we want it or not. Consciously we might have several ideas what to change, yet consciously we can only live a moment by moment, doing one thing at a time.

To reflect this, I took a peek into my journals and now offer the same chance to you to see how the expectations turned out.

My 2017 expectations and outcomes:

  • Keep writing and publishing every day. I later adjusted to 330 published posts. With this I’ve been successful and happy with. Important lesson right of the bat: do not be afraid to adjust your goals because the long run matters.

    As I wrote in habit combinations recently, writing somehow links so many important habits for me. Although I’ve recognized that it’s not writing per se what drives me, it’s more about the clarifying thinking, learning and then to be able to share that. Writing is medium for that, however the daily habit of writing ensures all these habits do progress to the currently desired direction.

    Outcome: 337 posts published in my English blog. In addition I started writing in Finnish to Posinkautta blog where I published five a bit more invested posts. To reflect back even further back in 2016 the growth from 261 posts to 337 or 29%! Next year the gains in publishing quantity are marginal, so therefore I’ve to write even better quality 🙂

  • Read 40 books. This I exceed by 42 as of present, audiobooks banzai! As a side note on 2016 I struggled with my reading goal of 36 books, however then I didn’t listen any audiobooks compared to this year 20.
  • Meditate at least 5 minutes every day. Meditation is my refuge even if it’s just as short while. However, especially when I am feeling upbeat I tend to forget about this which is sad. I still have to remind me that meditating does lead to my ultimate goal which is the good karma.
  • Exercise at least 5 minutes per day. While this may sound silly and little on a week level, my idea was more to kick start my morning routine or the jog, my logic went like this: if I’ve minimum standard for starting, keeping going is more interesting and many times I would indeed.

    Exercise goal has changed dramatically during the 2017. In the second half of the year I started Salsa, which I enjoy a lot and I’ve to make time to practice this in the upcoming year.

    Another thing that changed was my birthday gift, a polar watch which allows me to track my activity levels more accurately. Now I’ve daily goal of 10 000 steps which I try to keep on 7000 minimum. This has become rather attainable everyday if I just keep on moving right from the morning. Starting the exercise still feels like a chore so I’ve to work on to make it perhaps more social and through that meaningful.

  • Travel 2-3 times. I’ve tried to follow Dalai Lama’s advice to travel twice a year. During 2017 I felt I succeeded in this especially since I spent most of my summer traveling in Croatia, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. From my previous travels I had also noted that I should allow more freedom during the travel so I decided to try with no fixed come back date and went to solo travel with only one way ticket. That worked wonders! #learning
  • Form a mastermind group around investing. This idea I didn’t manage to further. On the positive side I did meet and befriend several people who are into different forms of investing and I’ve had great conversations about the topic. My network around the topic grew. Actually now looking at this idea, I think it would be more rewarding to over line the investing part of the mastermind group and just to have a group who has ambitious life goals and then to work on attainment of those. Finances are big part of the life, however there is much more as well. I’ll keep this idea in mind.

    Mastermind requires commitment because it’s a regular meeting format around once a month would be ideal. It’s more purposeful and intentional than just the interesting conversations I am at the moment having.

Summary

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Planning is preparing and preparing is everything in succeeding. Yet once the moment is at hand, we must be prepared to discard the plan, because something greater is at hand. Life is constant prioritization if I were to do similar reflection on the other past 29 years of my life, I would be proud and say that the 2017 has been the greatest experience of my life.

Past can be either a prison or a library, source of learning. Therefore we shouldn’t attach too much ourselves to the past. We should learn from our past and then keep on going. Greatest experiences today come when you understand your mistakes before and decide to find or create a new path today.

I started the year with a piece of wisdom from Mark Manson: “Focus to what truly fucking matters.” By now, at the end of the year I’ve forgotten this advice, a failure? My suffering for example yesterday was cured by simply remembering this phrase. Letters and words put together create what we call magic. As a writer I am a wizard.

Life is full of uncertainty of and consciously unexpected events. In 2017 year biggest this kind of change was in my relationship status back to single life in the summer.

Life is too complicated to comprehend and control, yet we are in control of our fates no matter what happens. We are the captains of our own souls and fates. Plans are the blueprints for our fates, and what we do each day towards those plans are the tiny manifestations of that fate.

Human mind tends to overestimate what we can achieve in short time and underestimate what is possible in a longer time frame. Therefore do not think your life only in terms of year, find a bigger perhaps three year plan! Year is a good measure to see some results, yet do not attach or condemn yourself too much because you did not achieve your goals, life is greater than that! Most important thing is to keep doing, keep doing, keep raising up and doing what you want to become!

On the following days I am going to follow Mark Manson’s advice and focus on what matters. And I am also going to follow the advice that I sometimes do not enough: trust my own judgement on this.

What’s your focus for the upcoming year and for your life? What do you want to achieve? What are you going to do about it today?

Janne

Positive Desire: the Art of Creating Better Life for All

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Positive desire is desire where all the selfish desires have been recognized and let go of. Only the desire that leads to win-win-win or in other words the good of all, remain.

When I began my conscious growth journey in 2007 I misunderstood desire as evil and then I tried to abandon my desires. This of course did not lead to good results; as my own growth stagnated the growth of others did so as well, which wasn’t a win at all for anybody.

Later on I learned that there is a difference between a positive desire and selfish desire. Positive desire is something that has been recognized to be win-win-win, something worth sacrificing for, whereas selfish desire is harmful, either “just win” or “win-lose.”

As a word desire encapsulates these both, however when specified as positive or selfish desire they become recognized, that’s why I choose to use these adjectives to keep my own and your thinking more accurate.

Reason why it is important for us to have accurate thinking is that we forget so easily! I am speaking now of experience: I have forgotten the concept of positive desire, even though it had great impact on me when I first recognized it.

Learning is remembering and forgetting. Over time our minds try to compress our knowledge into smaller and smaller space and thus the adjectives might drop out. Yet I think it’s very important to distinguish that there are different kinds of desires, and the ones that lead to win-win-win solutions are positive desires that should be cultivated in life.

 

The Middle Way

In life, saying just yes or no is easy. Yet there is alternative path, the middle way. This is the road less travelled. Someone might have gone through it, however jungle has a long time ago reclaimed it and no trace remains.

Creating the alternative path requires risk, energy and effort. Not very pleasant words for our comfort loving characters.

The very definition of love by Dr. Scott M. Peck is the willingness to grow in order to nurture the growth others. Our good intentions never actualize unless we are willing to sacrifice some of our time, energy and comfort for the sake of others.

Combining the drive, or positive desire for results with right intentions are the energy that help us to create the way.

The path to pursue win-win-win is a long, but worthy one.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Where to Start?

Path of the positive desire, is the middle way. The path begins by saying no to the no and no to the yes. Instead of saying no or yes, you say: “no and yes?” You say no to everything that is against your values and then create an alternative offering that is good for everyone involved. You are not willing to compromise anything important. Therefore you’ll need to know what is important to you, what do you value, what do you stand for?

By making a stand you will reject and you’ll be vulnerable for rejection. Yet you are confident in your ability to communicate your message in caring and nonviolent, so that everyone understands that you are doing it for them, them and them.

And if this does not happen, you’ll keep on learning and honing your way until you become the way.

One the way you’ll risk everything you have without any guarantee of any return.

 

Have a great day!

Janne

Thoughts About Doing “Good” Deeds

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One of the most useful beliefs I’ve stumbled upon is when you do good deeds, good things happens to you.

This sentence has good intentions. Yet in everyday life it falls fairly insufficient, because the content of the “good” is so different with people with different values.

When faced with choice I am contemplating the dilemma that, should I do what is good for them from my value system or theirs? Well in the end I don’t think that the personal values are any value if I am willing to be flexible on them, so that’s why I choose my own values. I do what I believe to be good to other people.

The moral responsibility comes with it. Often times, I’ve hard to time putting my lot thought values into words. Yet each time I face such situation I do my best and at least after that situation I can finally craft a right way to say for the next time.

Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world.” That resonates very deeply within me.

They also say that “road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This is good to keep in mind when it comes to values, virtues and good intentions. Most importantly we should be able to reconsider who do these values serve? Even personal values can change. Smart people are willing to consider the change even, when they learn that such change would be necessary for the benefit of the greater picture.

World is as Wide and Abundant Place as are Our Beliefs About It

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 World is enormous. Even collectively, we know very limited amount of it in quantity of factual knowledge. What do you think this means for individual?

Have you had time to read and study every book ever written, then memorize at least the key lessons of it?

I assume no, and it’s alright. My point is merely that to make up this gap of all knowledge every acquired collectively and between ourselves, we rely on beliefs.

Literally individuals’ sense of the reality is very limited. This makes our beliefs hit off the mark. Therefore the greatest gift you can do for yourself is to start calibrating your beliefs and the sense of reality. You can do this for example testing are they really right by taking small manageable risks.

In 2009 when I finally decided to make something more lasting change in my life I decided to try some new beliefs. I picked up the core from especially Buddhist philosophy, beliefs about the nature of suffering. I began to ponder about the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path. These became tools for me to understand better the difference between correlation and causation. When I combined this understanding with the practice of meditation, for first time ever I started having something that was in my control. I could now process my experiences in some meaningful fashion and through practice of meditation I could actually find enough peace to try again next day.

Through starting to living we gain the experience, and then we can adjust our sense of reality based on that experience. In my case it was rather having so poor sense of reality that I hardly tried. However as I said earlier, world is as wide and abundant place as are our beliefs about it.

We may never have a perfect sense of reality; however we may have better sense of reality. When we reach this point we can help others to rise above their level of beliefs, by pointing out everything that is within their reach, especially when they do not see it themselves. This is probably the greatest gift you can do to anyone:  to treat them with the potential they’ve to become.

Nature of Willpower

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Although willpower sounds very powerful, it’s power within the context of making the change happen is rather momentary and fleeting. To make a more lasting change, we need to harness the power of more recurring forces, like habits and culture.

Willpower is however interesting phenomenon that can trigger very important changes. With willpower we can finally have the spark to do a thing we have been procrastinating. Right use of willpower, in the key moments is like pushing down the first domino. To make sure that the rest of the dominoes line up we need to be aware of the power of habits in our personal life and of culture on a more social level.

Willpower is momentarily force that cannot be sustained for very long. Like all conscious efforts, willpower drains a lot of energy and therefore it’s just a spark in the dark.

As we become aware of the energy system we are. We can understand our actual needs, and then we can use this willpower in the key moments: when the dominoes are lined up so to speak to have the maximum impact.

Stories Have the Potential for Profound Change

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(Picture 1, Stories Bypass Defenses and Beliefs)

Have you noticed ever that a person has changed? Biologically I think its takes about 7 years for just about every cell in our body to have renewed itself at least once. However, that necessarily doesn’t change the way we think.

On a personality level this change can happen a lot more quickly. I noticed such profound change in person whom I’ve been close to for several years now. This morning I was able to pinpoint “why” the change has happened, as well as what. It is simply the story that she tells herself is different.

Stories we tell ourselves, also are observable to outside as well. Stories profoundly change the way we act and therefore stories are strong drivers to change the way we repeatedly act (habits).

How does this change happen?

  • Automatically and effortlessly most of the time. Human mind is a narrative weaving machine. We are incredibly good at telling stories that are cohesive with our pasts. Most of the time, we accept the narrative that comes by default, meaning naturally in the present moment.
  • Spontaneously some of the time: whenever we discuss our experiences with friends, family or collegues for example, we open up ourselves to construct a new narrative. I guess most of the time we do not “buy into it”, in a profound change sense, however sometimes we might buy into it fully or at least partially which then later on becomes integral part of who we are.
  • Consciously, if we so choose to do. e. journaling reflecting and reiterating particular experience is possible, if we so wish to do. This work is usually done either alone, or with trusted companions, friend, therapist, loved one or anyone who you feel safe with.

Most of the time the changes to the story we tell ourselves, do not happen so easily. Our story is who we are, therefore there are also defenses that protect our identity, which is a good thing. Only that which is in line with our values and hopefully correct beliefs should be part of us.

Story has the potential to bypass defenses and beliefs (Picture 1). In a same way music does. Pop music with thoughtful lyrics is indeed one of the effective forms of storytelling I’ve observed. There is repetition, a lullaby and the message, it feels good and therefore works for our ancient brains.

Our brains are after all, mostly ancient constructs, our consciousness is just the latest add-on.

When we buy into a story, or a feeling, we buy into a why. Something that feels right and is in line with everything we believe in.

Change the World with Word Choices

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“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.”― (presumably Gautama Buddha)

Words are vessel of change because they influence both the internal and external worlds. Words are always not even necessary.  “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” said Mark Twain. Right speech of noble eightfold path is the best guiding principle I can recommend.

Here are few practical examples:

  • At Trainers’ House we apply this process by encouraging the use of uplifting and professional language, rather than the spoken style language or professional slang/jargon.
  • In my personal life I would rather use nonviolent language than violent one.
  • SSM health has kind of non-harmful or non-competitive language culture as well, as described in Pre-Suasion by Robert Ciadini (2016)

“Metaphor is a matador to change. If you want to change the world, change the metaphor” Joseph Campbell said. I would go in as far to say if you wanna change the world, change the word.  Changing the word can mean two things:

  • Changing the meaning i.e. defining the word again.
  • Coming up with a new word and setting up the definition again.

Align your words with your values.

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Books and Ideas Start a Life Inside You

 

book-863418_640.jpgLearning is breakthroughs at the time. When the year changed I had a breakthrough in my reading and that has had tremendous effects in other areas of my life as well. I’ve doubled what I used to read in month. And now I am ready believer that that I could double it again in time and when it is the time for that.

What I noticed through all this is not that much how much I read, but what I do with the books which are read. Although in casual conversation there might be references to the books, even present a few ideas here, some recommendations there… Yet it does not itself convince much change.

This is when I realized how much of what I’ve read I apply to my life on daily basis. Most influential books are of course starting their own life inside of me. Ideas take such a strong shape that they automatically shape my actions and decisions as if it were the new normal. There is no going back. Even better, I do not need to consult other people what I do, because I know I am doing the right decision.

Be careful what you read, those ideas might become reality.

Future is in Our Hands…

 

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…what are we going to do about it?

There is a lot we can do, trust me.

The belief, that we change the fate of the planet for example or that “I cannot do anything, because of X” is wrong.

Three are two major bottlenecks for positive change:

  1. Learned helplessness. Martin Seligman’s definition: “learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter.”
  2. Access to knowledge.

If these two bottlenecks are lifted, everyone has a choice. Most people living in the western world has the access to knowledge opened them in a big time through libraries and internet. Yet somehow big parts of the population fail to leverage all that access to tackle the greatest problems we are facing.

What’s wrong? My guess is beliefs. We all behave as we believe is right. I’ve been reading the works of Martin Seligman and I’ve begun to think that his theory about learned helplessness is on to something.

Learned helplessness is the response follows from the belief. Our beliefs change, so we can change. Our behavior can change. We all can change and the change can be for the better for everyone.

What I’ve come to believe now, to change the course of humanity as a whole is to change the beliefs into a more right beliefs, which then will lead to more right actions.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela

I like Mandela’s words, however I would define the education as the process of self-learning, which is possible when we believe we can change things, we have the right questions to ask and we have the access to knowledge.

Everybody has to become a student, educator and a facilitator. To keep doing that we all need to embark upon the quest of lifelong learning.

“The path of light is the quest for knowledge.”  ― Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom: Great mind

For many generations the biodiversity of our home planet has been going down due to human activities. Mostly this has been caused by the ignorance and the misbeliefs, so we should now be the better people, forgive and do the right choice. We have the potential to turn the tide, and start leaving more to our children, the future generations than we all were given collectively. We have the true chance to start adding value, instead of taking it.

Future looks brighter thanks to your right decisions today. Right choices echo in eternity.

Kindful Internal Dialogue

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I am about to read Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism, where I should learn a great deal about internal dialogue, a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

So far all of my knowledge is based on pieces of information I’ve picked up here and there, so it’s finally great to dig deeper at the source.

My interest to internal dialogue is the same as why we are so interested in stories. Internal dialogue is essentially continuation on the narration we tell ourselves. Therefore what we say to ourselves will influence greatly our futures. So I want understand more about to that, to be able to create more positive spirals in life.

At the moment I see the relationship between language, thoughts and actions interwoven: all have the potential to change each other, however since changes do happen I would be curious to know which habits are the most influential of them all. Is it the thinking? Or is it the way we speak? Or does indeed actions create more positive narrative by themselves.

Our effortless and automatic habits create most of what we see in our everyday life. That which we do, determine what we are going to get. Same goes to our internal dialogue: it is the dialogue between who I think I am and who I think I can be.

The power of the narrative is powerful, we constantly narrate our lives and events. Recognizing negative self-dialogue and finding something more mindful to say, I guess is a one thing we can do. However what kind of others tools there are to rewrite more positive self-dialogue there are? What can we do for others to help them to be more kind to themselves?

For some of these questions I am hoping to find answers.

Meanwhile what I do know, is that which we repeatedly do, let’s say each day: can become very integral part of us. It can be very small task each day: write a sentence or two. Think of five gratitudes or three positive things during today? Even small things as this over time will make a huge difference. I started to write “three positive things” through each day on 2010 and I keep doing that each day. Usually I find way more than three, however we all have to start somewhere.

Honestly I do not remember which magazine I picked up the advice from, however I remember it was a free ad magazine perhaps some kind of pharmaceutical ad where a doctor or something shared this advice and I did put it to action. Now over six years I’ve followed to action and what I’ve found really powerful is the way I can relive those positive memories from six years ago.

Although I use journal to write everything, what I do most enjoy doing to visit to the end of the day where I’ve summarized only the things I’ve found pleasant and life worth living. Small things can have huge impact!

Pop music is a good example of how big ideas can become huge. A song under three minutes a day can influence hugely to a person and to large crowds with its message. It takes only a few minutes to listen to a song, and repeated over days they go to our hearts and minds as well. Songs like stories cross our defenses and are thus able to influence our lives in a deepest ways.

We need more stories and songs of growth and acceptance, more of what can be done and what we can become!

All that starts with kindful internal dialogue: being mindful what is going on and saying it in the kind way instead.