Self-Help Signals

hand-3067236_640.jpg

I used to get easily annoyed by almost anything. In fact word “self-help” itself was a bit red alert for me. Yet I felt like this is exactly the time I need to use this word that I’ve almost banned from my dictionary.

This is so fun topic: the signals that we need to find in order to help ourselves.

Helping ourselves is the second best option, right after the fact that there might be someone who is more qualified to see what we really need. Self-help is almost the best option!

How do we know that we need self-help? I think understanding that we need to help ourselves and to accept this are the most difficult parts. Who would like to admit that they are insufficient? Who would, because we are not!

In fact we are masterpieces in construction and never to be completed. Life is an oscillation rather than linear start and finish point. However, it’s each day we must wake up and start to chisel at our masterpieces.

Have you ever wondered how do the masters know that their masterpieces are ready? I think there are several unfinished masterpieces of art out there in the exhibition.

In the same way, ourselves we are an unfinished masterpiece which we must ourselves work on each day. This is why we need self-help: it’s part of the cure, not the only cure. Rest of the cure comes from those who can see what we really need.

Good way to know if you need some self-help is that if you do not get any help from outside. So then you might need to help yourself a bit, so you can receive a bit from outside 😀

Have a great day!

Janne

11 Questions to Reduce Hurry and Worry

composing-2925179_640.jpg

When you start to teach people about something, it gives you yourself more pressure to be example as well. This is mostly positive thing, because then you start deepen your relationship with the things you are teaching. Often this deepening means that you are thinking what you are teaching learning at the same time from different perspectives.

What I learned this morning about feeling of hurry is this: hurry is just lack of preparation.

This means, if we feel hurry, we have failed to anticipate the stuff we are stressing about presently.

What helps here is to accept the present circumstances and prioritize and think what is truly important, and how important. It’s through prioritization only way that we can live through our commitments and learn to make commitments that are most relevant to us.

Uncertainty makes life difficult. Or life is suffering like the Buddha came to understand.

The ability to accept these and to have a set of thinking skills in the present help to handle almost anything that happens and still live a worthwhile life.

Do not be affected by hurry.

Here are some helpful questions to cope:

  1. Do I have any problems right now?
  2. What is the most important priority right now?
  3. Am I doing my best?
  4. Is there something I or we can do?
  5. What would be the first step forward?
  6. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  7. What is positive about this situation?
  8. Is the worst thing that can happen?
  9. Is this the end of the world?
  10. What is the upside?
  11. How to benefit from this situation?

Have a great evening!

Janne

Live Your Purpose and Plan

quest-1565522_640.jpg

Do you have a dream? Have you made the dream into a goal by setting some due dates?

My purpose is good karma, which means trying to live everyday virtuously according to my values so that the after the day I would’ve done more good than harm. This is a bit difficult to assess to be honest, because even with best intentions one can end up causing harm. Knowing this, I try my best to do good and mostly that starts with myself.

My purpose shows in daily actions as following the vegetarian diet, exercising, writing journal, reading books and meditating. I try to apply it to everything I do and work, this is described as “karma yoga” or yoga of action as described in Bhagavad Gita.

After the important daily actions which I mentioned, I still usually have quite a bit of energy left: this goes to work of serving other people. Usually most of my energy goes to my professional work. After my professional work has been done and the daily actions are done, I do not have much energy left for the day. Usually with the reminder depending on the day I spend with friends, family and finally try to write and publish a blog post. Then there is also perhaps a bit time during the week or perhaps weekend for reflecting and planning for the future and reflecting of the past. Especially life planning and financial planning are perhaps weekly themes that I check, if everything is going as I feel they should.

Even though I feel like I am living a purpose, I feel like I must still have some sort of action plan and vision for life. I’ve vision about better future, where we could succeed together in bigger and more audacious projects such as discovering the potential of the human mind, space travel and exploration.

This requires learning and that’s why I am big advocate of learning: I wish everyone would have the opportunities get the basic schooling to be able to read and write. Then get the access to knowledge through teachers, mentors, and coaches. Internet is important place to learn and share the learning,

Civilization, becoming civilized I think is the answer and that happens through learning. With learning there are few necessary skills such as critical thinking and learning and the abilities to learn and required. Then with reading and language skills, access to knowledge such as teachers, internet and libraries we are finally unlocking the vast potential of human curiosity. I value highly projects such as Wikipedia, Youtube and Khan Academy.

Planning and having this positive desire, does not need to mean to having to attach to this plan or the result. Life is prioritization all the time, it’s not skillful to get attached.

Karma yoga

Your work is your responsibility,
not its result.
Never let the fruits of your actions
be your motive.
Nor give in to inaction.

Set firmly in yourself, do your work,
not attached to anything.
Remain evenminded in success,
and in failure.
Evenmindedness is true yoga.

—Bhagavad Gita, 2.47-49

Yet having a plan, means that you’ve given a thought for the future and when the future meets present, you’ve ore options. At best you’ve a different plans plan a, plan b and so worth and then you can choose the closest options or the hybrid of these plans and continue with that. Planning is proactivity and probabilities. Planning means recognizing risks and working to minimize those risks.

Life is rather short and no one exactly knows how much time we have left. Thus living a mindful, present and happy life with a sense of purpose is a sound piece of advice. Yet what could be more inspiring reason to get up than inspiring vision, that today’s actions do good today, but perhaps tomorrow as well?

Because of the shortness of the life, we have to live the purpose every day. Where we spend most of our time we should stay focused there. Yet we should be aware of the future potentials, plan for different skenarios and be awake to take advantage of them. If we could be even greater service through planning, shouldn’t we take advantage of that?

That’s exactly what I had in my mind today as I broke down my previous cash flow calculations into a more actionable goals. About a year ago as a part of the real estate investment coaching I calculated the following cash flow requirements from assets per month to feel secure, wealthy and rich.

cash flow.png

It’s still holds true I feel. However, as I had these stages thought out, I didn’t have much plan to how to achieve them. I had a bunch of separate ideas hanging around, yet crystal clear action plan or scenarios thought out.

Three scenarios I did manage to write for the near future, that was rather rewarding. Then in regards to this stages, I also considered the potential vehicles. Mostly I’ve come to the conclusion that real estate investing is the way to go, the vehicle of the choice so to speak. What now made these stages now really feel achievable was that I was about to calculate with my conservative numbers how many apartments I would have to own in order to achieve these goals. First earned euro from real estate asset is of course the first step, however now I also know that the first milestone is 13 apartments. This feels very energizing and great to know that it is doable number, although there is a bit of how still remaining: planning helps us to visualize the potential outcomes.

Then it is just up to us to live the life mindfully in the present and enjoy whatever life brings without an attachment!

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.

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

artificial-intelligence-2167835_640.jpg

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?

Why Do We Compare Ourselves with Others?

fantasy-2824304_640.jpg

Good thing about suffering is that is that it’s mostly subjective experience. This morning I noticed that I am again in the present state suffering quite a lot, because of unskillful habit of comparison.

So I decided to take a moment and reflect upon this question. Quickly I decided to take Google with me and I asked the question there. So then I found Quora reply by Awdhesh Singh to this same question.

I am not surprised that I found answers online, however the particular answer put me to work some more. What I love about world and net, is that our understanding is not perfect yet. We can construct upon it, and even challenge the knowledge we have and this is exactly what I did.

I think this kind of positive constructive dialogue is way ahead. So instead of accepting wholly the original reply, I began to break it down, reflect and comment upon it.

Awdhesh begins by writing that “We have a natural desire” and contradicts this in the next sentence with “We are not born with the desire of comparison.”

In life often many things can be true at the same time. I considered here the possibility as well. However, after reading through it several times and reflecting these statements to all my previous knowledge, I would argue that the first statement is wrong. We do not have natural desire to compare, instead we have a habitual desire like he mentions in the second paragraph. Mostly my argument would be founded to I’ve learned in the Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habits and Gretchen Ruben’s books.

In third paragraph he mentions a brilliant keyword “believing.”

“However, slowly we were told that we must be better than others. This starts happening since a child goes to the school. You are constantly told to get the top rank in the class or stand among the top. If you play a game, you must play to win and be the best player. If you get a lower rank, you are shamed and even humiliated. Gradually, we start believing that in order to be happy and make others happy, we must be better than others. You must work harder to be better than others by any means.”

This was a breakthrough for me personally, because I am fascinated by habit and belief formation. As I mentioned earlier the Power of Habits book, that habits have three elements: cue, routine and reward.

When I began to reflect this question “Why do we compare ourselves with others?” in the habit context, I see that these three elements are in place:

  • Cue, for example work place results or in games the scoreboard. In life we have all kinds of scoreboards as well such as status symbols, clothes etc. All of these are triggers for the habit routine.
  • Routine, “how well others are doing vs. I am…”. Personally I noticed that the routine itself is deeply rooted in our identity and memory, what we have done, who we are now, who we are striving to be…
  • Reward: at simplest forms it is the feeling of momentarily gratification of being better. However when I started to probe deeper I noticed that for me it is linked with a belief of being worthy as well. Being good, means being loved, means attention is the currency of love. Belief that the better we are, the more we are loved.

From here we get to the belief levels: beliefs what we focus the most are the strongest. I.e. this belief that the better we the more love we deserve is not necessarily the best belief to hold. In the end, we want to be loved, we want attention. Surely at the top we get attention, however what kind of attention it is we so much desire?

Also aren’t we worthy of the kind of attention already as we are? I think we are. Our own beliefs just might contradict each other and if we end up thinking that we are worthy only when we are better than everyone else, we might not end up so well.

Be careful on which kinds of beliefs you decide to focus on. The reason why we compare ourselves to each other is a result of a belief and habit. Habits cannot be simply discarded as Awdhesh mentioned, yet like Charles Duhigg points out in Power of Habit, habits can be transformed. Awdhesh suggests some positive practices such as Count Your Blessings, Learn from Others, Respect Good Qualities which are actions in the right directions.

However, personally I do not feel like these are merely enough. I notice that the process needs to begin much earlier by being mindful of cue-routine-reward situations and the beliefs we operate on. Then we need to start working towards transforming the unwanted patterns into more healthy and helpful ones.

Life is What We Think

chess-2730034_640.jpg

Life is what we think it is: it’s the sensory input and then however we interpret that.

Much of our suffering is caused by ourselves, because if we would have thinking skills we would focus to what is best at each present moment, instead of thinking too much of the past or worrying about the future.

Our life is a construct of our thoughts and these feelings that follow. And yes through conscious thought intervention (called stopping and thinking) we can actually affect how we feel in the long term. Actions lead to results, which come back to us as feedback which causes feelings.

What is in our control is our attitude towards life.

If we think like is cool, then it is cool. What we focus on grows stronger and we will find the strength to live.

If on the other hand we do not see life as an opportunity, then we the negative begins to strengthen and grow, which then in turn causes more negative intended and unintended consequences.

What we focus on, grows and determines how our life is. We have the choice.

Your Life is What You Make Out of It

fischer-2739115_640

Life is a gift, an opportunity to do something – to make an idea into reality. We might have an idea, then we have beliefs and fears that prevent us from doing it. That is, unless we are willing to see if our beliefs and fears are true.

It’s our decision to get curious and see how good understanding we have of our reality. Often we do or avoid things, because we have distorted world views.

We have to risk it. We have to start risking with bets that we are able to lose. We need to take more risks we can lose and bigger risks we can lose.

In life we have plenty of time to do everything we deem important. Big question is then when are you going to do it?

If you do not start right away, you are likely to fail. And when you start, decide and put to your calendar also the next time you are going to get back to it.

You have the gift of life, it’s up to you to make use of it.

We are the Creators of Our Own Emotional Rollercoasters

rollercoaster-801833_640.jpg

Mammals have this amazing quick and effortless ability to feel. Feeling emotions makes communication incredibly quick.

In groups of animals there is the emotional contagion effect. Same is in humans, the strongest emotion in a group will take hold after about two minutes and set the tone for the rest of the group.

Because emotions are quick and effortless, they become easily chaotic. There starts to swing many emotions around and soon emotions are difficult to control, especially if you do not have any training.

With chaotic emotions, it is very easy for people to get hurt either really or through misunderstanding. Most often the time we hurt each other simply because we do not understand each other well enough. We may jump to conclusion or misinterpret even good intentions without full understanding.

At times we are right and the fault is not in us at all.

We have right to feel what we feel. That being said, although we feel, does not mean we are what we feel. We are not our feelings, because we can observe them.

Understanding the passing by nature of the emotions helps us to manage the chaotic nature. First things is to recognize and give a name for the feelings. Through recognizing we take notice, and because we can take notice – we can let go as well.

Recognize and let go. Deep breath.

Our feelings do not dictate our emotional life. Feelings come and go, emotional life is what stays. We are working for longer term emotional life. If feelings are the ups or downs of the rollercoaster, the emotional life is the whole ride.

We are the makers of our own rollercoasters. We can determine beforehand what kind of ups, downs and loops we add there. We can then accept that this is our rollercoaster and enjoy the whole ride even though some turn might feel bad, the overall is our awesome creation.

Quick Personal Life Audit: Does Your Values and Actions Match?

wood-1346918_640.jpg

I’ve noticed there are a lot of people who talk, then there are few people who do.

As in life, this is of course overgeneralization, because there are no absolutes in this sense. Even those who do and have the habit of doing, fail to do so every once in a while. Nobody is perfect.

Sometimes for a person who likes to talk it would be good to be more, doer and vice versa. Certainly. We all should focus to our strengths, and even as these strengths have weaknesses, we shouldn’t obsess over them. Nobody is or can be perfect.

What we can be, is a little better. And how does that happen? Through picking some values that we think are important and then putting those values into action (also known as virtues).

Two questions to know if you are living up to your values:

  • Where are you spending your time?
  • Where are you spending your money?

These two meters tell pretty quickly the story what kind of person you are.  With the time usage you can get really deep and complicated, i.e. what are you doing and what are you getting done during the time? However, in here just the basic glance over the calendar is enough to give some picture. Through honesty you will discover the rest.

With money it’s easier, because numbers tell the tale rather truthfully.

What you value is where your time and money should be!

Janne