Take Advantage of the Crisis in Life


Existential crisis takes over every now and then. Despite that the crisis word has negative connotations, it doesn’t have to be. Existential crisis refers merely to the questioning state of being, which at times may be exactly what is needed.

I was just going through my journals and it’s not uncommon to have such crisis during the spring for me. Mostly this is great time for reflection and then taking action based on that reflection.

Victor Frankl suggests the point is not to try to answer the question about meaning of life with words, but with actions: our life is our response.

Another thing about crisis personal or collective is that we should use it to make lasting decisions and changes: to leverage that.

Become the Programmer of Your Life by Reflecting on Your Stress Responses


When we are born into this world and grow up, we cannot choose the environment much at all where we are brought up. From the environment where we grow up, we inherit, learn and copy models for responding to stress. Let’s call these learned models scripts from now on.

Script is essentially a sequence of thoughts, emotions and actions that happen automatically and effortlessly in mostly unconscious mind.

Stress should be defined as influence that alters an existent equilibrium. Therefore inherently stress is not good or bad, it’s merely a sign that something should be done and thus triggers thoughts and emotions in us.

So when we grow up, and a stressor enters our world we automatically take actions according to the learned scripts. If we get hungry, we may go to the fridge and grab whatever we would like to eat at the time.

Since life is complicated, these scripts that are drilled into unconscious mind save a lot of time and energy for us. Yet to live a happy and productive life, scripts we have inherited, learned and copied may not always be optimal. The reason is simply that we are the very first version of ourselves the moment we become aware of this. Before we are aware of this, we are a product, not a programmer.

When we become aware, we become the programmer of our lives. Conscious time and space for reflection is one way to be aware. I write journal every day and try to meditate as well. From these activities I write down all thoughts I can get.

Best of all habits is to have time during weekend for such reflection, because then we can contemplate more deeply on what actions we have taken and have they been optimal.

As an example today I had such a reflective day which I spent mostly in quiet long walk. It’s during this walk I happened to go upon sea where I rested a bit and start my mobile phone and entered upon the realm of social media where I saw an update by a friend.

My reaction then and there was rather negative since the emotions like  uncertainty, inadequacy and jealousy a rose. I caught myself a few minutes afterwards thinking, why would I choose an emotional response to that?

I had to accept that I had a script that lead to rather unskillful stress response. Now that I had become aware of such unskillful script and accepted its existence, I could do something about it. Since I knew, I could choose the way I respond to stressors, I began to think what would be mature way to respond to this? I quickly found more positive things such as happiness for others, belonging and acceptance.

Actually it is through this reflection that changed the whole lense I am looking now at the happiness of others that is shared often through social media. I have to admit my ignorance: it’s a bit scary that I haven’t noticed this earlier in myself.

During the walk, I also decided to start practicing and deepening my bond with the virtues even more. In 2013 I used the virtue list, an idea from Benjamin Franklin. Yet now in 2017 since I’ve put more thought into my values and virtues as well, I thought I need to start practicing these in the same way, one virtue each week. Humility is on that list too.

Remember as long as we live, we are never the final versions, we are always under development. Are you a code produced by the chance and the environment or are you the coder of your own life?

Three Reflections About: Shame, Learning and Leadership


Today I’ve had wonderful time reflecting on my painful experiences and trying to learn from them. Having gone this process I am sure that many of these lessons could be beneficial insights to anyone and therefore I decided to summarize it all in a one blog post.


Shame is the central human experience and a tool to deal with it

Upon waking up and pondering, the last party night and past weeks I began to depress. A question came to me: what is it exactly that prevents me from living the life as fully as I would like to? After journaling it became clear to me that it is the experience of shame.

Shame is a very limiting emotion, actually a collection of emotions as I further studied and recalled. Feelings that can be connected to the shame are:  feeling of insufficiency, inability, weakness, helplessness, feeling different, feeling of failure, imperfection, feeling of rejected, feeling of being hurt etc.

I discovered many of these feelings in the social interactions. The story of shame is the story of my life quite simply. However, what I’ve found increasingly awesome is that I’ve been able to begun to process it, which is necessity to get ahead in life. Only that which we acknowledge we can begin to heal from. So, although I still might suffer, I already remembered that I’ve begun the process.

Seriously finding a good and working with a good therapist would be a shortcut in this. However, writing journal, friends and family can good ways and addition to process some of it as well.

For me it’s mostly journaling, reflection, friends and on these kinds of days its’ also studying. Always when I get into the mode of reflection I start to study and recall as well what is the root cause all about. Then I finally try to recall or learn some kind of tool to help to deal with it more productively. Today I found one really useful tool from my online coaching materials by Jari Sarasvuo: “In 20 years, who cares?”

That’s very powerful! It gives the proper time perspective to all things in the present. Time is on constant flow.


Life is so limited, so what you going to do about it?

In life we can achieve only so much. Today I was also learning about history a bit, because of earlier discussions with friends and then I happened to stumble upon documentary about Silk road. In particular I was interested about the fate of Persepolis, which was ruled by the Darius I. It was interesting, that Darius had subdued all his enemies and therefore the city was left unfortified. This was for a while of course a great idea, until there came the Alexander the Great and pillaged the city.

Darius was Great. Persian Achaemenid Empire was great. Alexander was Great. Later on world has seen even greater empires. However, I think there is a one particular quality that strikes in all the greatness and it is the leadership ability to get things done.

There are different kinds of greatness, because in each civilization there is someone who really gets things done and manages to organize the common successes.

Alexander was a man of ambition. Did you know he left a will? The will goes on like this according to Wikipedia and its’ sources:

  • Construction of a monumental tomb for his father Philip, “to match the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt”
  • Erection of great temples in Delos, Delphi, Dodona, Dium, Amphipolis, and a monumental temple to Athena at Troy
  • Conquest of Arabia and the entire Mediterranean Basin
  • Circumnavigation of Africa
  • Development of cities and the “transplant of populations from Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction from Europe to Asia, in order to bring the largest continent to common unity and to friendship by means of intermarriage and family ties.”

Alexander was a military commander, and my ideals would lie in nonviolence, however I still gotta admire most of this list and the level of the ambition. I believe he had the ability to organize these successes, only if he had the time.

That’s why I am saying time is of the essence in life. Most great people get done great things, however they would benefit from the ability of more leaders.

So few people are actually born leaders, they taught. And there are few people who are able to teach leaders. I’ve recognized this path as something that I would like to do, to teach about leadership.


Feel the Burning Desire of Leadership? Here Are Some Ideas to Get Started

Jari taught me about four levels of learning:

First level is to learn.

Second is to learn to learn.

Third is learn to teach.

Fourth level is learning to teach about teaching.


I really like this kind of thinking and thus it is rather guiding thought in what I do. However, what is central here is the learning skills as well as the teaching skills. Where and how does one exactly acquire all this? Short answer is by constant practice.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” ―  Albert Einstein

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” ― Isaac Asimov

By constant practice I mean there is no way around it: we have to do it by ourselves. We do not have to do it all the time by ourselves: we can involve others, however there is just no way that we can skip the part of learning by ourselves.

Self-education is called autodictatism.

When graduated from university of applied sciences with my bachelor’s degree in business, I knew I was just getting started with learning. I had started my thesis by reading a single book about organizational culture, ended up going through some hundred books and I still wasn’t satisfied. I am still on the quest to learn more and to describe exactly what it is that I want to teach.

We may have unlimited information available through search engines, however what we need to be also aware of is train our minds for the task of recognizing quality information. This is what learning is all about. When learning is applied we get results.

When learning is applied so that it can be taught to many, we are talking about teaching as well as leadership and the results can be multiplied.


I started the story and the blog very personally by admitting that my shame still limits me. The key learning here is to get moving and a good question to get moving is, “in 20-years, who cares?”

Decades are good timespan to think anything meaningful. I decided to try some different beliefs about ten years ago and from that point to this point I am living in utopia. This was utopia back then, yet  it is just everyday life now. There is still a lot of work ahead of me, a lot of shame and all kinds of inner demons to be dealt with, however there are tools.

Main tool in here is learning, serving the needs of others first and then organizing common successes.



How to Have More Realistic Expectations


 Expectations may cause quite a bit of suffering. Reality does serve already plenty of reality, so we should not have too much suffering on something that has not yet happened. Expectations can do this, especially the unrealistic or wrong expectations.

I thought about this earlier this week on one morning and I asked myself: “How I know that my expectations can be in line with the outcomes?” In fact I didn’t have strong idea what kind of outcomes to expect at all.

So I decided that a simple way to start correcting my expectations would be to write down those expectations and then see how it turns out (the outcome), at the end of the day.

Now I’ve been writing down the expectations in the morning metro, just a few lines what I am expecting of the day. And on the way home I write down the outcome.

Writing my thoughts down has been a sort of magic. Although I’ve been journaling for about eight years now, it hasn’t occurred me to do this so realistically on a day level. Even more so to build upon this this idea, I picked up yesterday from Scott Dimsores TED talk the idea to reflect on a day and week level what went right, and what went wrong.

I am quite confident that by observing the expectations and coupling those with the actual results will give us a better sense of realism and ability to have more accurate expectations.

What Is Your Stress Response?



Before you answer, let me define stress first. As I looked up definitions of stress in first few online dictionaries they didn’t seem right. Fourth choice on Merriam-Webster seems to describe stress in the context I am talking about:  “a state resulting from a stress; especially:  one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium <job-related stress>.”

So stress is something that comes from outside, to alter existing equilibrium or balance, as simple as that. When I was looking up the many of the other definitions of stress, I am not surprised people are suffering from stress, because if they are operating with that kind of definitions.

With this definition, stress is merely something that comes and it is our own choice to choose how we react. This is definition is in harmony with the circle of control – thinking I’ve been writing about, so we may choose our stress response.

If you now, suddenly get rushed by surge of internal excuses by your inner voice, write all of it down, on a paper, word or any other noting tool of a choice. By writing down your internal dialogue, when faced with a “novel” idea, you’ll start to process your internal resistance and just by doing that you’ll be able to uncover the path which allows you to get ahead in life.

Alright, so we may choose our stress response. Why don’t we and what does prevent us from doing that? We may choose our response, however that action takes place after the feeling of our emotions, unless we are in charge of our emotions: i.e. unless we can feel the emotion through and let it go, we cannot choose the response. To put it in other words: if we let emotion or feeling take over and act upon the impulse without thinking, we are not choosing, we are reacting.

On the other hand, if we have put considerable thought and training into our lives and life situations, we are able to effortlessly act on the right stress responses. Yes, I mentioned training, because we can train on the proper stress responses, and through training the proper responses become automatic and effortless. During first time, the proper conscious response takes a lot of effort in compared to responding impulsively. Therefore, if we think that we can consciously modify or change our responses to all stressors, we are wrong: our mental energy is limited, and if we have poor stress responses, our capacity to maximize our mental energy is also less than optimal.

Be in the game of optimizing your stress response for the long run, for all the good things happen through persistent training. With right habits, good things are guaranteed to happen and they keep on happening.

Creative use of the past

Past is past, nothing can change that. But we can use that to change our present. Most significantly I would point out the power of creative force, through which we can express even painful memories and experiences and then through the act of creation redefine them.

Using the past and even present this way, then all the experiences become unlimited source for creation, rather than suffering.

We can also learn a lot from the past. For these few days I’ve been struggling quite a bit with the long distance relationship and I’ve been losing my focus. So therefore, I decide to revisit some of my old journals to find some better coping strategies. And from the last year, around the same time we were last time separated for a longer while, I did find something helpful: poems. The actual poems from last year already made my heart warmup, however also the brilliant thought that I should use now this opportunity as well to create some new ones, the pain of the separation is the best creative source after all.

Of course past journals contain a lot of unforgotten wisdom as well. Our mind has tendency to forget that which we do not not use, which means most of it. This way the journals also become a sort of filtering system for useful information. The more often some thoguhts are mentioned in a journal, the more likely it is that the thought has been useful.

Do not be defined by your past, but use the past experiences to define your present in a way that serves you better.

Tell your own story and do not despair


Originally I got idea of journaling from the movie Postman, probably somewhere at the end of nineties. However, I did not put the idea to action, it was just a very interesting idea that resonated with me.

I do have regrets, in the present moment I try to view them as a source of energy and power to create new things, instead of cling to and complain about the old.

Example of such regret is the period of my teenage years and early adulthood as I was literally lost, without taking the reins of responsibility.

One thing that journaling finally when I started doing it an ten years later on 2009 is that it allowed me to start writing my own story about myself for myself. Finally the world started to become more fair place for a sensitive person like myself. I discovered a tool that gave me more power to structure my thoughts and experiences in a safe way.

It’s a tool I did not have during that period, from which not everything is regret, however the direction or the lack of therefore was. Since I felt powerless, and I was unaware of the power of the words in this world, I wished for an easy life.

Nothing good comes out of easy life, or wishing for one, it makes only one weak. And world is not kind place for the weak.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” ― Bruce Lee

After ten years, I adopted the idea of journaling, I became self-aware and I started developing myself through challenges and find a relief in the means of meditation to cope with the pressures and anxieties of life.

There is no growth without the challenge, if we do not have any challenge we will grow weak. Robert Greene in the 48 laws of power suggests to find enemies and rivals to force yourself to stay strong.  In the Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, the Rich dad suggests to pay yourself first in order to keep the pressure on yourself to grow and therefore grow strong.

When I was at my weakest, I did not have enemies or rivals or anything really to push me to get out there. Even to my own liking it took way too long for the societal pressure to build up and thankfully I was at last ready to start blasting through myself and start from the bottom, not even level 1, but level 0. Just going outside to a public place with people would be a struggle.

Experience of being there and coming to here is still valuable reminder that we shouldn’t stop. We should keep moving and not worry too much about the speed of moving yet, because acceleration can happen rapidly, but to start moving takes time.

What comes to the stories, we can always rewrite and reinterpret those and change the meaning for ourselves and others as well. If we do not know how to tell stories of our past experiences, we are letting others to do it for us and that too was a part of my weakness. I rarely even verbally spoke my stories so others got to dictate the meanings. Journaling changed this for me as I first told more accurate stories to myself and in the end to others as well.

Like Ajahn Brahn always tells, we are all crooked trees, and they are the most wondeful!

Now I tell stories of growth rather than the story of being stuck on one place. What is the theme of your story?

Journaling, the tool for creating fulfilling life


Journaling has been the feedback loop in my life, which has allowed me to transform myself. Transformations take time, and so does journaling. As I may be writing thoughts down today, it might take years to resurface the thought and fully start working with it. This happens by getting back to the things I’ve written down later, when I am not in that emotional state anymore and then reflecting and thinking how I should do.

Keeping a journal and reflecting to the text resembles very closely to the meditation or psychotherapy where aim is to observe emotions, without attaching to them. This kind of practice helps us to start mastering ourselves, in example by learning more mature ways to deal with emotions and channel energy into action.

In this distraction and action filled world, we rarely give ourselves this time, although we should. We should appreciate our old selves more as well. We are wise in our inexperience as well.

“Who you think you are is like a grain of sand on the beach of who you really are.” – Ram Dass

It applies to the past and present. Therefore I would recommend journaling – reflecting process to create a feedback loop which allows us to have dialogue with ourselves. In simpler terms, write and reflect regularly.

In the action and attention filled world, reflecting upon past is often frowned upon. Yet we are wise in our own inexperience as well. I do think it’s beneficial every once in a while to reflect the life through journaling, what we’ve been doing and what do we still want to do in life.

When we know ourselves, we can start to flourish and live more fulfilling life.

Harnessing the dual energies of optimism and pessimism


Out of two thinking patterns, I thought that the pessimism was doomed and optimism was the only way to go. A lot more recently I’ve come to understand that of course there are merits to both of the thinking patterns when used correctly.

We have our natural temperaments tuned to either one, however we can also train our minds to certain extent to see to world in a different light. One such way is priming your mind by journaling and finding three positive things from each day. Another way is gratitude meditation.

To try, to get to action the optimist spark is very useful. With gloom outlook we are rarely going to try anything if we do not think we have a chance to succeed.

Pessimist outlook is not particularly bright about the future, that’s exactly it has tremendous potential power to prepare for the worst cases, see the risks and minimize all the possible negative consequences.

What I suggest here is to channel both energies in where they are most useful. Worry can be turned into action of researching and thinking of the worst cases, the optimist spark into long term vision which can help us to handle the gloom times as well.

It is possible to have both of these gears, another option is to have people who have different kind of thinking tendencies than yourself and listen to that. Acid testing ideas with different mindset, and especially worst cases are a mature way of going about things. Once that all is done, we should light the candle of optimism and trust that the shelter we build for the fire is strong enough or even if it’s not we are prepared and competent to face the storms.

Great feeling does not mean great results


In my early professional days I learned a valuable lesson: great feeling or state of mind does not guarantee great results. However what the great feeling does help, is to produce the action that is prerequisite for the results.

Therefore, learning to change the negative into positive emotions, into a great feeling is really useful skill that will in the long run  alter the odds to your favor.

Another thing I learned about feelings such as anguish and anxiety is that we are not really our emotions. We can create our emotional life, but we are not what we are feeling at the moment. If emotions are the wind, then we must learn to sail with that wind, to alter and use them to get where we need to be.

Greatest tool, to discover and tame the emotional root causes I’ve so far stumbled upon is stillness called meditation. Second greatest is journaling and writing, which allows to let loose the emotions in non destructive way. Also talking about them can help.

Often I’ve found great creativity bursts after talking about anxieties, because it somehow helps to relax and asses them more objectively and thus also come to a solutions through that point of view.

Emotions are part of us, we are not our emotions. To conclude, here is something that Nelson Mandela found to keep him going, and something that pop onto my mind while trying to scrape together thoughts after a long day.

Enjoy Invictus poem by WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.

Out of the night that covers me,

     Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

     For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

     I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

     My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

     Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

     Finds and shall find me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

     How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

     I am the captain of my soul.