Finding What’s Really Important

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Past is past, we should accept that and move on.

Future has yet to come, we shouldn’t worry about it too much.

What we are left with is the present. Using the present moment in smart ways to do important things is the one key skill that we need in life. We need to have the capacity i.e. courage and social skills to have the difficult discussions for example.

Time flows. Experience is of the time is relative. We if we feel pleasure our focus is in that and the flow of time seems quicker. If we feel pain the experience of time slows down.

It’s our abilities to identify the critically important things, in smaller and smaller chunks and then do that which is most important and get that done that makes our time spent feel very meaningful.

In fact it doesn’t involve a lot of work, but a lot of prioritization skill. Also with prioritization it’s very easy to think that doing this or that. However, have you ever considered are these the actual tasks that need to be done? Skillful people learn to recognize and break down the tasks that actually need to be done, instead of just looking and retaining the status quo, they challenge it completely.

Often the tasks that are at hand can be broken down into further tasks that are actually important.

Do What Makes You Better

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Living things go upstream, while dead things flow with the stream.

What makes life fun is the learning and progress. Sometimes these take time and frustration takes over first. Learning happens often in breakthroughs and come with emotional cost.

I’ve felt this frustration lately and I haven’t been able to pinpoint it. I’ve reached saturation point in my interest to absorb new ideas and at the same time to refresh myself with the old ones. This is feeling and just my experience. Probably this is not even true: I probably could get interested about yet many things and I still learn a lot.

Yet at this point I’ve accepted the feeling that every now and then I do not have interest for such things. Instead of finding something new or getting excited about the old I’ve been meditating a lot lately and I’ve tried to pinpoint the thing that I need or should focus on at the moment. Yet I’ve not found the thing, however I’ve had some breakthrough thoughts.

Such as the title: Finding the stuff to do what makes my life better.

Yesterday I was pondering what would my life look like if I were the hero of my life.

What would you be if you could be the best you?

Identity is the greatest leverage and we should think therefore carefully who we are and what kind of things we want to further during our lives.

We Have All That We Have

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We do not have anything more than the present. We do not have our past and certainly not our future.

Suffering is created by clinging either to the past or the future.

If we go to past or the future we are distancing ourselves from the present. This in turn creates a vicious cycle of suffering, because if we are going to past or the future, we will lose present again.

All that we have is now, the present. Present includes everything. Buddha understood this very well and he also understood about the thinking and action which leads to these results.

In addition to the present, our present mindfulness or our thinking is all that we have. In fact we are not our thinking, because we can observe our thinking. Yet only few of us consciously exercise this human superpower called ‘thinking critically what we are thinking.’

We shouldn’t let our thinking taint our present experience, because present is all that we have. We should come to accept what we have and be happy with that 🙂

15 Thought Provoking Quotes and Book Recommendations

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Line taken from its original context may be surprisingly curiosity arousing, thought provoking or even misleading. Fifteen lines from some of my favorite books:

  1. Sugar is cancer” – Tom Rath, Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
  2. Everybody is in sales.” – Daniel Pink, To Sell Is Human
  3. Everybody works on straight commission.” – Brian Tracy, The Science of Money: How to Increase Your Income and Become Wealthy
  4. There are leaders and there are those who lead.” – Simon Sinek, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
  5. Ask no more or less of anyone than you would of your own child.” – Bob Chapman,  Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family
  6. What if optimism is a learned skill, one that can be permanently acquired?” – Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
  7. Spend your free time the way you like , not the way you think you’re supposed to .” – Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
  8. There’s a common belief that creativity flourishes when criticism is withheld, but this turns out to be false.” – Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
  9. You can’t extinguish a bad habit , you can only change it.” Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change
  10. Once a person stops searching for information and self-knowledge, ignorance sets in” –  Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!
  11. We give too many fucks when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  12. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life.” – Neil Pasricha, The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything
  13. One word, one action, or one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring him joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  14. People often experience big breakthroughs… and then find a way to avoid relishing their achievement.” – Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level
  15. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people.” – Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future

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

Living Meaningful Life

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Living full life to me means much of the time and energy is focused to action, movement, doing something meaningful and then taking care that there is enough energy in both short and long term.

In between the action and movement, I’ve inbuilt moments for quiet pause as well. These pauses can be either meditation, just stopping in front of mirror and dropping the worries of the life for a moment or taking a short walk. Often the sacred time is the mornings and evenings, when I am with my journals.

Through every day experiences I try to record as much what I am going through as possible. If I’ve particular concern, I might use my previous journals and knowledge to reflect upon the issue as I’ve already dealt with similar situations, there is often a lot of buried wisdom that I’ve forgotten.

If nothing else, when the weekend when I don’t have any particular plans comes up, I get super excited. There is mountains full of information on my computer that I am ready to reflect and contemplate upon. Often time this contemplation reads to further study and research and compiling of the already learned wisdom into a new kinds of formats.

Today was Sunday, and I had a day for my favorite reflection. There is nothing like revisiting my current goals and purpose to question their relevance. Today I found out that many of my priorities have changed since the past year and a half. I clarified my current priorities in satisfying manner.

As we never have time for everything, yet we have always time for the most important things. It’s alright to revisit the priorities and goals as well. For priorities I recommend a three category system critical, big, small, which I use.

  • Critical priorities are things worth sacrificing for, virtues and values that are not up for negotiating.
  • Big categories are the important things in my life.
  • Small category is the things that are nice, they come last after the big categories are done each day.

I realized that our purpose should be at the top of the critical category, because our purpose makes us immortal in a sense. When we are living our purpose, we do not fear death. My second priority is good health, so that I may live up to the purpose. As third I list metta (loving kindness), which again guides how I do things.

Big categories are more every day, where I’ve again prioritized learning and results over people and selfless service over positive cashflow. Final item on the list is a reminder to love myself too, which is a tendency that although should be included in metta, is easily forgotten.

Small category has things I enjoy: salsa, games and red wine.

To my surprise overall number of items on my list has gotten smaller. Above all it means I managed to combine many of the qualities I appreciate. I think that having less priorities is better if we consider focus and focus is good for the results. I’ve more time for the most important things and I feel like I am progressing more.

And I think you should clarify your most important things too: think what really matters in your life and what do you feel meaningful. You have only one lifetime to live, so cut out things that do not further your purpose.

Best Parts of Life Are Unknown Before They Are Known

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This phrase keeps coming to my mind. Whatever it is growth, learning or leadership, we often need to have the courage to face the unknown, a life without any assurances.

By unknown I mean that something that is unknown to us. Meaning we do not have personally experience with that. If we do not personally experience something we cannot really know what is anything like, no matter how hard we try.

Try simulating weightlessness (microgravity) for example? In a pool we might get pretty close, yet that is pretty far away from the actual experience.

Only way really to know is to see ourselves, to experience by ourselves. Only by getting to know the unknown for as long as we live, we can have more accurate sense of reality. We need to go towards the unknown to know what life has in for us.

Ability to Find Positive in Daily Experiences Increases Positive Experiences

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Ability to find the positive in what happens increases the likelihood of future positive experiences. This is because our mind has a sort of lense through which we look, if we look positive we shall also find it. When finding positive becomes a habit we tend to find the positive experiences more easily and thus we experience more positive experiences.

About six years ago I started writing to my journal the at least three positive things from each day. At first it was a bit challenging, however in few weeks I could find effortlessly several positive things from the day. Now years later days are filled with positive things and half-dozen positive things come effortlessly and dozen with a bit of thinking.

This habit of training myself to find the positive has also rippled in many ways to the everyday life. I’ve learned to apply it to whatever happens and I try see most events from many perspectives and finding the value of the experience.

Value of positivity is such as:

  • Seeing challenges as chance to get stronger
  • Seeing past as a treasure trove of learning
  • Not being something yet, is call to adventure

By being more positive means merely focusing on what is good with the world, rather than what is wrong. It is constructive approach to the strengths and possibilities.

Learning Begins With Ignorance

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Life is a learning experience, about the world and about ourselves. About ourselves, not everything is not revealed even during lifetime. Thinking about this: even though we are with ourselves, yet we barely can comprehend this.

If we cannot know ourselves fully through lifetime, how can we expect to do so about others, or about our environment?

Learning begins when we acknowledge our ignorance or the lack of understanding. It’s often about the things we take pride in, that we have to admit that we do now know much at all. If we can do this in healthy manner we can rise to a higher level, where again eventually we will face the place where we have to admit to our own ignorance.

Where ever there is ignorance, there is also potential for learning.

Learning to admit our own ignorance is one really useful skill to have and to recognize.  Ignorance is often focusing on one kind of thinking and shutting down the other possibilities. Total openness and awareness about the possibilities could be at the other end of the spectrum.

For the word ignorance, antonyms are for example understanding, intelligence, education or wisdom.

More important than absolute states I think is the direction which we are going to: is it opening or closing. Enabling possibilities or shutting down possibilities.

Learning means progress and thus increasing liberties. Ignorance means satisfying what is and shutting off possibilities.

However, we learn the quickest when we recognize the ignorant thought patterns in our lives, accept them and then we can start to notice that over there is actually a lot to learn!

Smile Your Way Through

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Smile has power to change negative to positive in our own experience, we can counteract the effects of pessimistic thinking by forcing a smile for example. Even a forced smile makes our brains and bodies to re-evaluate the situation: “is this really so bad?”

Eventually smile can rewire our experience, and the fake smile can become a real one.

Fake it till you make it, William James said and so does positive psychology.

Smile manifests positive emotions, which in turn create cycle of positive emotions. Emotions are contagious so why not spread some smile?

With smile action can be more fun, pleasant and thus also productive.