Life, an Incredible Opportunity

adventure-1807524_640.jpg

Life is an opportunity that over 108 billion people before us have had and then as lost as is the nature of life: there is a beginning and an end. Therefore to be alive is wonderful opportunity to do something!

In addition to biological evolution, there is also the evolution of culture and spirit. Spiritual evolution means becoming more human. As G.K. Chesterton put it: “a dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” We are blessed with brains that create the human mind, which allows not only to go with the flow, but to go upstream or any other direction we wish.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

The difference and human blessing of life lies in our brain, which allows us not only to live, but to learn and live better as well. This means we are no longer bound only to progress through the biological evolution, but through cultural evolution.

Other animals certainly are social and therefore have the ability for cultural evolution as well. However, very few of them are able to stop and contemplate on life on such level as humans can. We learn comparatively fast and therefore our culture, way of doing things evolves as well.

On individual level, it’s our own decision to exercise this superpower of choice each day. Well actually thinking and deciding something new for each day would be possible, but not very convenient. Although we have the ability to contemplate, it is rather energy intensive. Therefore it’s useful to use both of the abilities, the ability to contemplate and the ability to do in a harmonious way.

Contemplate and discover your values and goals. Then work on these goals every day habitually.

Do not dream of life without work. Work is the opportunity, ability to create something greater than what you were given. What will then happen? According to the law of karma, if you do good things, good things will happen to you.

Put your priorities straight using the priority category method and then live your purpose and plan.

In life you will get more things done, if you are really good at prioritizing and deciding what is important and where you can add the most value. You will be able to create more value and well-being to your environment, which then again means that you will also receive more and then we all flourish.

* * *

I’ve taken it as my mission to help other people to realize the love for life. This comes from my personal experience with the meaninglessness of life, which led to depression and sickness.

Have a great evening!

Janne

The Happiness Equation: book highlights

sunset-1226113_640.jpg

Out of 34 books I’ve read this year and out of 36 that I read last year, there are few gems in there. Among all the books, one that makes almost any day better for me is the Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.

Yesterday I reviewed my notes thoroughly and they made me so deep impact that I ought to share the main points with you today.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future”

Life is happening now, we must learn to be present is the present for a reason. To be more present, mindfulness is a good practice it makes us happy and success follows happiness. Be happy first.

Distractions in life are major obstacles for happiness. Like we are in the present, we shouldn’t focus to external goals, but to internal drivers. Internal motivation is a driver of excellence. Happy people do things, because they are happy and interested about doing things.

While external motivations can get ourselves distracted, it is only our own judgements and criticism that often makes us discouraged and sad.

Buddha says, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Be happy first, and start with yourself. You are worthy of attention, love and affection. We cannot control most of what happens in life, however we can control how we react to it.

So now we have the groundwork covered. Next is the difficult part: the purpose, the work and social life. To put it shortly, we are social animals and we need social context. We should work in something where we can increase our collective happiness. As it is pointed out: giving is the simply best way to increase your own happiness. Doing good for others.

We need to stay active with the giving and kindness as well, here we get to the purpose or what is described in the book as ikigai. Never retire, what you do not use you lose: this applies to happiness, your brain and your health as well.

Like Gandhi said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

I ought to read the whole book again soon and I recommend it to you too.

Small Steps Taken Daily  

sand-768783_640.jpg

Wishful thinking about big changes is easy, yet not very realistic fantasy. At the same time human mind tends to underestimate the change that is capable by doing small things every day.

List your most important priorities. Okay now go through the list, what are you doing today for:

Health

Loved ones

Financial status

Purpose / career / dream..?

You need to know what is it you want to achieve, and then ask yourself what it is you can do for it today. Then simply start building the discipline to do it. Eventually that discipline becomes habit, your identity and your identity is the biggest leverage you can get. You’ll start doing things because you are the action, you are the verb, you are your own doing.

You are the master of your fate.

It’s not the achievement that matters, but the journey. It’s the sense of progress that brings lasting satisfaction, not the single achievement. Even when you happen to achieve the object of your desire, you do not last very long satisfied. At best it is about five seconds.

However, nothing expect yourself can take away the sense of progress and that you get from taking a step each day towards the grander horizons.

Only by trying out how far you can get, you’ll know how far you will get. You might surprise yourself, or the world might surprise you. However what won’t change is the satisfaction you’ll get from the journey and from each step.

Start valuing the small steps and the journey. Start walking now, because present is the only moment we really have control of.  Every day is like a new life, we can remember some of the lessons of yesterday and we do not know yet if we can make it until tomorrow. Place emphasis on the journey today and take the step!

Values in Action

mountains-9262_640.jpg

Values are wonderful. However, if they are not put in action they are nothing real. Values in action are called virtues.

I’ve thought quite a bit what do I value and so far I’ve been rather satisfied with these seven:

Value Virtue (value in action)
Love Kindness, compassion, metta, forgiveness, mercy
Aspiration Excellence, purpose, openness, curiosity, courage
Responsibility Sustainability, effort, courage
Courage Positive action despite of fear, growth, rightfulness, effort
Truth Seeing the world as it is, open mind and learning.
Gratitude Awareness, meditation, metta
Humility Service, gratitude

 

It’s not perfect, yet it shows what I value the most. While these I review every day, it’s not really the same as thoroughly reflecting and deepening the bond with these values and virtues.

When I read Frank Bettger How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling and Dale Carnegies How to Win Friends and Influence People, I picked up an idea from there that they picked up from Benjamin Franklin about the virtue list. A theme virtue for every week.

First six days are now in behind with the love theme. What the theme does, is forces me to contemplate further how do I practice each day and what could I do more. I’ve found it to work like magic.

What are your values? What do they mean in action? What are you willing to do and on the other hand what are you not willing to sacrifice?

The Limitations of Our Attention and the Cure

fantasy-2861107_640.jpg

We have limited attention, we can only be at a one place at a given time and we can only focus to one person or a task at a time. In this sense we are rather limited.

Because of our limited nature, we should also be forgiving for those who wrong us and merciful towards ourselves, who cannot always meet our expectations. At very least we can learn at the end of the day and move forward slightly smarter than we were previously on today.

Humans have deep desire for attention and desire. Attention is the currency of power and love. We realize this as children that we are not the center of the world and we are not really omnipotent either. From there on we are seeking for some kind of drought for this deprivation.

A cure that cannot be given, unless we are first willing to give it to others.

How do you treat that who has no power above you? That is the measure of our being. We get that wellbeing which we create to our environment.

It’s not even the ill words that hurt us, it is when we get no attention at all. Yet do not hold grudge to those who ignore you by purpose or without purpose, because most likely they have no purpose they are merely not mindful. And if it was on purpose, who would like to have the attention of such person anyway as it would only mean trouble?

Being present and forgiveness are the cures for our deprivation of attention. We must first administer what we wish to have.

Your Emotional State is in Your Control

blue-2705642_640.jpg

Human beings are emotional creatures, emotions are contagious. In the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor there was the two minute rule: the dominant emotion after two minutes will prevail in a group.

Because nothing worthwhile can be achieved by our own, we take part in social groups. It’s in these groups that emotions are more contagious than ever. In life business the emotional states affect the much desired results of a business and this of course isn’t good for the business.

These things being said, we are human & emotional creatures. We cannot turn off our emotions, so we have to accept that what we are and work from there. It turns out, as I have many times written we cannot choose how we feel, however we can choose how do we respond to it. Our total emotional life is dictated by our responses to different feelings.

Annoyances in life will occur. How we react depends on our own values, self-awareness, imagination, free will and conscience. We can identify our values, we can improve our self-awareness, we can use our imagination to explore alternative options, we have free will to decide otherwise…

When we are with others, we can choose what we bring to the table. We can choose the attitude with which we partake in the common effort. Use your imagination a bit, and think that you have a task to get completed, then you ask two different colleagues for help:

A reluctantly accept the job.

B enthusiastically accepts: “I do this and…

Try it yourself. Instead of just doing your work you add “and…”, you take the work further without asking. If you do this consistently and thus challenge yourself and raise the bar you’ll get really good. The difficult becomes easy. Attitude matters.

We are all in service profession.

Why to bother with any of this? Love.

“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
― M. Scott Peck

Takeaway from Bhagavad Gita: World is Us

320px-Arjuna_statue.jpg
Arjuna – pic by Ilussion – Own work, CC BY 3.0

Bhagavad Gita is a book that is little known in western world. It’s called the holy book of Hinduism, however it’s actually just a part of greater epic. Bhagavad Gita or Gita just in short is rather practical guidebook to living a life.

Gita is written in the form of dialogue between an Indian Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna. Krishna represents selfless servant, who gives advice to the prince who struggles with the questions of life: love and war.

The themes in the book are very practical. As example, Arjuna is in a difficult position where war seems inevitable and yet he wouldn’t want to go into a war where he would have to face his relatives and in the end he wouldn’t be happy even if he would go to war and win, so he is struggling with the fact that should he then just accept defeat and be done with the life?

Krishna teaches and clarifies Arjuna’s thinking through giving Arjuna a better understanding what really matters. As Krishan is representation of something greater, his advice has perspective about purpose of life.

Krishna helps Arjuna to see his life as part of something greater as well and therefore helps Arjuna to see purpose.  Basic message is that there is a greater self beyond what we can see. A self, that is interconnected.

World Is Us

World is us, even though we live ourselves in the illusion of separateness.

Also because we can observe ourselves, it means we are greater than merely our thoughts, emotions and our bodies. While this concept is a bit difficult for me, it could be either the greater self, or soul in more Christian way thinking. The greater self or soul is indestructible unlike the body.

Because of this indestructible part, our purpose is longer term than just this life. This life is wonderful opportunity do take this longer term perspective and start doing the good and right things for the whole interconnected system we are part of.

This concept could be described best as the middle way saying no the bad options, yet being courageous about values and virtues. From this kind of thinking, the greatness has risen, as example the non-violent movement: people remain courageous while still withholding their human rights and not succumbing to the oppression.

Because world is ourselves, it would be foolish to hurt ourselves purposefully. When we hurt another, we hurt ourselves. Therefore the suffering we cause the others is also suffering caused upon ourselves. Cycle of suffering continues and increases. This was communicated in such clarity that I decided to go vegetarian.

Attention Makes Us Thrive

seal-2469335_640.jpg

Attention is the currency of love and power.

As humans we literally crave for attention. Lack of attention is worse than negative attention.

Attention to people doesn’t cost any money, yet this is one of the most easily overlooked sides of leadership. Attention does take time and caring effort.

It’s not money, luxuries or drugs we care, it’s attention and caring.

It’s hard for us to admit it, however it is so.

I think the way to give the attention is the caring way. It’s at least better than the denying angry or upset way. Because in the end all of us crave for the attention at least the caring way is a  very nice to give the attention.

How to Succeed with Your Most Important Dreams or Goals

king-1256645_640.jpg

Strategy, is the ability to lead the strengths so that the decisive battle will not be lost. Strategy is therefore and verb: the act of leading.

So if in your life you are dreaming of something; in fact anything you want to do or achieve for example, you start putting your strategy to action.

Now put your dream or goal into context: what are the priorities at present in your life? List values such as: health, career, family, activities, hobbies,  friends, lovers… Think about all these priorities in relation to your goals and dreams.

What values you do not want to fail at? Do not accept the failure at these tasks. Prioritize the most important things in your life: i.e. if you value your health as you should, then you should ensure that the health will be taken care of no matter what. That’s why many people prefer to take morning for their exercise, they are serving first and foremost themselves with this, so that they may nourish the growth of others.

I repeat: do not fail to do that which matters most to you.

To see what matters most to you, break down your big dream or goal first to a concrete five year goal, then to a yearlong goal, then to month, week and a day goal. Remember strategy is a verb, what are you going to do today to progress at your most important dreams or goals?

Growth is About Capacity to Love

love-1318104_640.jpg

 Love is the unrelenting desire to nurture oneself in order to help others grow. The thought of Dr. Scott M. Peck.

For me this is probably the third game changer definition. Two earlier ones are:

  • The decision to try the beliefs of others, as I recognized that maybe I am not the first one to have pondered about these things.
  • Whatever I am rich or not doesn’t matter as long as my mind is arid. Therefore riches are in the mind. This is what ever riches one is looking for.

All of these three thoughts have to do with the growth. However, the love makes the story all the more beautiful.

Of course neither I, or Dr. Peck is talking about romantic love, although the love that he is describing is essentially extending the ability to love to everyone and to yourself foremost so that you would have so much capacity to love.

Love is a leadership innovation. There is no better way to lead an team or organization than through love.

With love everyone and everyone grows.