Quiet Contemplation on Decisions

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On occasion it’s good to have no structure and enjoy the chaotic connections and insights that arise. In order to prioritize we must determine and decide what is important. For that the time to reflect and weigh different options is necessary.

It seems I need to spend at least a day of a week in this kind of quiet and reflective in order to stay operational and to be able to function.

Life is rather easy if we think about it: we just need to prioritize spiritual, social and physical wellbeing and then when the time to do something comes, we are able.

Yet a life of growth is a bit different, because we are not facing the same challenges every day, instead we are facing progressively more difficult challenges.

Stress challenges our mind, body and spirit, and with rest all these grow stronger. Rest is much more than sleep: in physical terms it’s also everything that maintains our body. Our mind also needs healing: thinking practices, social bonding and emotional intimacy. Our spirit needs also nourishing: from social life and spiritual practices.

If we each day and week face increasingly more difficult challenges, how come we spend so little time to prepare for such?

I feel that we have plenty of time to prepare if we do it economically, each day a little bit. To do it economically only thing we really need to do is to keep doing the practices and reinforce the decisions we have made for example to exercise, meditate and socialize with friends and loved ones. Quiet contemplation lets us to appreciate and feel grateful for everything good we have in our lives and to work for those most important things even harder.

What Are You Investing Today?  


Exercise is an investment for tomorrow. Well being of others through comes through your health.

Learning is an investment for tomorrow: what you have learned by heart, you get to keep.

What are you doing today, to make your tomorrow better? When I realized this a couple weeks back, it changed completely the way I view my time.

Exercise wasn’t a chore anymore. Learning is a fun opportunity. Well both of these have been part of life for long, however now I found a new fun way to look at it: as an investment for tomorrow.

Exercise builds physical capacity, which enhances in turn the mental capacities to learn. Both of these capacities are at work at work. Working is therefore essentially building your capacity.

From work you might get paid in a way or another. What do you do with the money you get? Are you researching investment opportunities to make the money work for you?

If not, perhaps you should be. Because best investments for you require deep understanding, which can only come if you are looking at what market has to offer.

Investment becomes investment when the investment sum starts to work for you by returning more money that you put in.

Cognition Advantages


A common misconception is that intelligence is fixed. It’s not so much at all.

In fact I dislike to use the word intelligence at all, because it is so emotionally loaded.

I’ve contemplated the topic of intelligence a lot especially from personal development / intelligence improvement point of view, from which I wrote a popular reply to Quora on 2013.

The more I’ve learned the less I’ve liked the word intelligence. If we are thinking along the lines of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences there are so many kinds of intelligences that it’s absurd to claim any kind of intelligence.

Therefore I am more in line with ability to think and learn. When it comes to thinking and learning it’s all about cognition.  When we are talking about cognition we are also talking about great health, because these two are strongly interconnected.

Here are some cognitive advantages:

  • Basic acknowledgement when it comes to cognition is that our brains do consume a lot of calories, one fifth of all our intake. Quality of calories for sure matters in the long run as well. Pay attention to your diet from your minds perspective.
  • Unrested mind is literally the same as drunk. Have good quality and quantity sleep.
  • Fear literally shuts down our cognition at worst, or any kind of fear inhibits our higher cognitive function. Learn to recognize fear.
  • Stress, especially the stress about safety (i.e. income, relationship, home…) reduces our cognitive capabilities.
    • Build income buffers to reduce this.
    • Work to create more opportunities for income (=diversifying)
    • Learn to invest and manage money.
    • Learn what is in your control and focus to that.
  • Be happy first. Success follows happiness, not the other way around.
    • Start a journal and find three good things about each day.
    • Start giving to others, that way the happiness lasts longer.
  • Learn to control your breath: meditate
  • Exercise, even walking is better than nothing!
  • Work proactively with the numbers on your side
    • This reduces both stress and fear plus it gives you good night sleep knowing you’ve worked from the probabilities.
  • Emotional first aid: learn to forgive yourself.

Everyone is Better Off With Increased Sense of Security


 Fear is deeply motivating force. We are either safe or we are in danger. And for danger there is danger and then there is life threatening danger.

As a species we have persisted mostly because of this advanced fear motivator. We are risk mitigating pack animals. Sticking to the groups is a way to mitigate the risk.

When the basic security is achieved, then other needs to tend to pop up and through which we start to want to influence through the group and even control the group. That’s when the other motivators come in like having a social status and power.

Because of pack mentality, some kind of hierarchy always exists. A good question to ask is how high the hierarchy needs to be? The higher the hierarchy is, the more likely it is to be used wrongly and unethically. The more involved all the members of the group are, the healthier it is.

Also the lower the group hierarchy is, the better we can use our individual and collective wisdom. Even physically and biologically in a secure environment we can use our higher cognitive functions better and if we can think better and can communicate better the results are going to be better as well.

Humans are risk mitigating pack animals, always creating hierarchies. However in those groups everyone is in the end better with increased security.

Three Things That Make Healthy Opportunism Happen


Few days ago I wrote about Healthy Opportunism, which was a rather short story. However, now to open up a bit more the healthy side of the opportunism.

First of all, people who prepare to be in the moment; put a lot of effort to be there. Already that effort makes a huge difference between people.

By a lot of effort I mean things like:

  • Ability to seriously delay gratification
  • Proactively creating chances for tomorrow
  • Mindfulness, the ability to be present and skillfully master oneself in order to be present

When these kind of things are in check, we can start to begin to discuss about healthy opportunism. It’s about having and following a plan, but being able to prepare to toss the plan away when even a better chance happens to come across.

It’s like pursuing a goal, yet not getting fixated upon the goal, because in the end is not the goal we seek, but something in the direction of the goal, which may be even a greater summit we couldn’t see before.

Five Thinking Habits That Helped Me to Process Break and Rejection


I use my personal life as an example often, so I will do today. My relationship status sort of changed to a more complicated as we agreed to have a break. I had sensed something is deeply wrong and I initiated the dialogue to understand is it fixable. In the end we do not have answer, but to go on to our own soul searching for now.

All this happened two weeks ago. It does take a lot of time for me to process everything and only now I’ve realized that his kind of change in my personal life has been biggest and quite sudden in a long time, yet I’ve remained calm and slightly even optimistic, while still processing the change.

There are few close people who I’ve told about this so far and they’ve been rather supportive. What I found interesting is thought that my mom actually guessed that something is wrong after just a few replies over a phone… That’s amazing! Well this observation just proves that the feelings are conveyed in the tone of voice even over phone to those who know you very well.

Sometimes we ourselves are not so aware of feelings, we are not willing to think or talk about them, yet they are obvious to those who we know well.

For me this whole process has been rather positive overall, despite being the one who got sort of put on shelve so to speak. Because I’ve learned that it was more about the relationship than about me.

I remember my self-worth despite the rejections.

Now that I began to write, I also realize that in my professional life I’ve been doing cold calling past two and half years, and I get rejected a lot. I realized that the reason I am still in this kind of environment, sane and loving is the realization that I’ve been able to form healthier thinking habit for rejection.

Healthier thinking habits:

  1. Rejection is rarely personal. Actually it almost never is and even if it is, I know forgiveness is the way forward. By forgiving, we let go, raise ourselves up and choose to focus on what we can control.
  2. Accept the life as it is. The only place we can continue the journey is the present moment and there are no alternatives. So whatever comes whatever it’s obstacle or achievement, the mind of a human is ahead.
  3. Non-violent communication, emphatic, courageous and win-win-win –seeking.
  4. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy there is idea that emotions that produce actions are originally thoughts. When you realize this and become aware of your thought -> emotion -> action patterns you can actually take smarter, more objective look on what kind of thoughts you are having, to what kind of emotions and actions they lead to. In the end we are not our thoughts or our emotions. If you are further interested in exploring try Joyable, there is a 7-day free trial.
  5. Obstacle is the way. Stoicism or Buddhist philosophy has a lot of ideas that are helpful in turning the obstacles as the way. I also wrote about this in Convert Sh*t to Opportunties by Being More Responsible, good often comes from the exact opportunities that are abandoned by others.

Equipped with these, there are only reasons to have more dialogue about things that do not feel right.

Be Present and Create Value


Ability to produce value in the moment is the driver of growth and fruitful relationships.  Ability to create value is based on understanding and the consideration, take the needs of others into account and then from the personal experience, skills and knowledge able to produce something that is valuable to other as well.

Value is the driver that everything else obeys and follows.

Understand and create value.

To be able to create value we need sufficient energy and attention in the moment. Do the basics right: physical (health & fitness), mental & spiritual (clear mind) then stay present and you will start seeing the each moment as several opportunities to create value.

Systematic Way to Increase Your Possibilities


Luck as defined in Merriam-Webster means a force that brings good fortune or adversity.  So good luck brings good fortune, whereas good is desirable.

Luck doesn’t work, it’s a superstitious concept. Probabilities are more right, yet our understanding is still very limited about the unprovable events actually occurring.

We have very limited ways to influence our future odds, however we have some and one that comes to my mind is called work. We can work to increase our own capabilities (cognitive, physical) to better understand the world and see the world as it is, in order to make more right decisions based on what we have learned.

We humans are a capable of improving the system which we operate. A human is a system, that is capable of improving the system itself.

Yes, you are capable of changing yourself both mentally and physically to a certain degree. In any case the changes are significant enough to matter. A noteworthy side note here, is that each of the human system is somewhat unique, so that each of us may have different strengths, weaknesses, talents and tendencies.

I believe that we should leverage our existing talents and tendencies, explore our curiosities and seek to link up with other interesting strengths.

Based on these thoughts I was thinking up the pro activity meter (Image 1) below:

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(Image 1 pro activity meter)

To the pro activity meter, I decided to add axis of “other & me” to describe how selfish or unselfish the action is. This matters, because most of the currency we have is actually social capital. When we are doing things for others, we are building social capital, so it’s sort of investment (or repayment).

When we are solving systematic problems, we need more people spending time in the proactive and others side of the box, solving big problems proactively that impact many people.

I thought of this today, in the Saturday morning as I woke up too early. Last night I was working too much and my mind immediately started racing even though I didn’t have that many hours of sleep and it was six a clock. The experience however, put me thinking that am I really now doing the things I should be doing? Are my actions proactive? Are they for the good of many?

Well my next actions surely weren’t I ate morning porridge which barely took my hunger away. My appetite lost during last week and now it was certainly recovering,  a better sign for my health. I couldn’t really get much done in the first three hours, until I visualized this image: I need to start thinking again how I can focus most of my available time to the upper right corner of the box. Thinking about what to eat today should not take too much of my time, so I should come up with automated, cost efficient solutions to this and be done with it.

For the longer and more proactive time perspective we are able to work, the better our all odds are.

Decision Making Tool: Net Gain or Loss


 In the past few months as I’ve had time to read a lot, I’ve been thinking that most of our habits can be broken down to a daily net gain or net loss:

  • With personal finances, money this is very easy: if you earn and keep more than you spend you are saving up money. Would you be happier if you would have more wealth?
  • Same concept applies to health, however instead of clear numbers we get better health, fitness both of which are hard to appreciate until they are gone. Would you be happier with better health?
  • Did you progress towards your goal today? If not, when will you?

“Ultimately there is only the one impediment, and that is laziness.” – Peck, M. Scott, The Road Less Travelled

Simply by setting measurable goals, and asking yourself what you can do today for that goal you will know what can and must be done. Then it’s the matter of doing that small thing. Make each day a net gain in your life.

Three Ideas for Fulfilling Life


Values are only values when we are willing to sacrifice for them. So values require a sacrifice. Since values are so deep thing, it would be quite odd to let a day go by without sacrificing for your values. Whatever you want to achieve in life, make sure you know what you are sacrificing for.

Are your values consciously chosen or unconsciously adopted? Be mindful, because values are also what you are sacrificing for. To put it more simply: what you do influences also who you are.

Potentially values can become uplifting positive forces for you; you’ll become person of virtue. There is also the danger that you are sacrificing for values which further increase the downward spiral.

All our actions are indicators of our values. As an example: today I went to the shop and I was willing to pay for the frozen wok mix and broccoli, because I value my health and the nutritious food. From this we can deduce, that when I decided to adopt a new value about health about six months ago, it has started to root, because even after that time I am willing to make such sacrifices.

The same way actions can be indicators of destructive values as well. When I am craving for chocolate and eat way more than two bites I am valuing the short term gratification higher than my long term health.

One might say that such small things do not matter, yet it is exactly these small actions do add up. Tom Rath says it well in his book Eat, Move, Sleep that when it comes to nutrition the net score of each meal or day matters. I really like that thinking, because it simplifies each day into conscious choices which we have the ability to win.

Making the small choices does not happen with willpower or discipline. Making small choices happens by creating habits out of those choices, making those small choices easy and the difficult ones hard. I.e. give away the chocolates, spend most of the time in the veggies department in shop and always have healthy snacks at hand.

Two more ideas to make small choices happen every day:

  1. Make sacrificing for your goals fun. For example, pop hits are short and fun, they become memorable and fun therefore their listeners just can’t stop it. And then we have earworms. And yes, you even might use the power of popular music to associate with your cause.
  2. Connect your values with a bigger cause and a story. It helps if your choice does help others in their i.e. it is easier to refrain from eating beef if you know that beef is one of the most energy inefficient foods on earth and thus a big problem for our climate.

I choose to use the words sacrifice for the values, because until virtues become our second nature, we are easily misguided beings in the midst of many emotions, external influences etc. We must sacrifice the past selves, in order to grow more closely to our potential selves. Fulfillment comes naturally when we strive to live the life of virtue.