Life, an Incredible Opportunity

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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

Motivation

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I’ve spent whole day preparing for Tuesday’s speech at work and important component there is motivation. Because it has been all I’ve been thinking today I shall write something about it here as well.

Interesting thing about motivation is that although it is very popular concept, the scientific definition behind motivation tends to be forgotten. Then you can easily find articles which describe motivation or sources of motivation without really defining what the motivation it is.

One particularly satisfying part was for me to deep into the etymylogy of the word and break it down. According to Dictionary.com motivation appeared in English around 1870 consisting of the word motive and suffix –ation, meaning action. So motive for action could be understood. The source for the word was in latin “movere” which means to move.

Makes sense!

Motivation has been theorized and researched a lot, no wonder many businesses are interested what makes us tick in order to make more profit.

To put it in simple terms there is internal world: your interests and strengths. From this internal world you can decide quite a lot, or little depending on your own decision. Those who are conscious and control are strongly driven through these internal worlds.

Then there are people who do not ask themselves these questions such as, why I do this, where I am good at and what else there is I could do to increase the wellbeing of others… Are instead moved by external world’s demands such as having to pay the rent, then they motivate to do that in order to be motivated to pay the rent again in 30 days.

Internal needs are always there. External pressures only add to those.

We all actually can operate from internal world if we come to accept our current situation, what we can control, what we can decide about. Then we should work to clear the urgent external demands out of our needs list and lastly focus to prepare for the important things in life.

This is the nature of motivation. Reasons for action.

Often our basic needs are rather simply taken care of. Then there are loved ones whose basic needs we want to take care of. After that we are not driven so much by needs, we have time to contemplate greater things.

We still could be fooled to be driven by external needs, demands, however we could choose as well not to.

Ask yourself why you are doing what you do five times, find the underlying reason and think if there could be better match for your strengths, interests and the external worlds needs.

Focus to Important, Empty the Excess

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Accept where you are now, it’s the only place to continue the journey. You are not where you want to be, where you once where or where you would like to be. You are only where you are now.

So next what do you think of as important in life? What is this important thing as daily doing?

Make sure to do it every day. Do not focus to the distractions, focus doing what is important. This way you will do the important things first. Then you can do the big things, which are probably nice. Lastly you can do that which are nice, but not so important.

You’ve enough time for everything important.

Do Each Moment the Most Important Thing

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If you do each moment the most important thing for the day, you will have done everything by the end of the day.

Ask yourself once every hour, what is the most important thing at the moment? Time is the only leverage we really have, we better start using it to the important things.

When we direct our attention to the important we may not get necessarily more things done, but we get that which is important done and that’s all that matters in life.

I’ve been trying to practice asking myself about the important things for about a year now. Yet the breakthrough happened quite recently when I realized that if I just do the important things I am done, I do not need anything else.

With this thought I get:

My work done.

My exercise done.

My writing done.

My reading & studying done.

Preparation for the next day done.

A good night sleep.

What more I could ask?

 

Determine what’s important for you.

Small Steps Taken Daily  

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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!

Power of Full Focus

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Yesterday I was lagging three books behind my reading goal for this year and now I am lagging two books behind. I am really proud that I was able to read and study both of the books in such focused manner.

Both of the books had to do with personal development, one book was by Lauri Järvilehto, a Finnish philosopher and his book Tee itsestäsi mestariajattelija (“Make yourself a master thinker”) and the second one was Sisäinen sankari (Inner hero) by Jari Sarasvuo.

Some topics can feel rather intimidating as the Lauri’s book did for me. I had browsed and glanced through it several times, however never quite got there to read it deeper. Not until on Friday I happened to see what the book description promised “a stress free life.” On conscious level I didn’t particularly feel like I am stressed however, that promise seemed so good that I decided I’ve to read the book. So on the Saturday I decided what’s important: my reading goal and to read the book.

I am amazed what this kind of decision to focus does: I made quite a bit progress and by lunch time I had finished 60% of the book. Next I took fresh air and ate lunch outside. After lunch had a rather long nap, after which I was able to continue reading and finished the book in timely manner.

From the book I actually also learned about human mind and focus as well. Unlike my earlier understanding that came from Mihaly Chikzenmihalyi it appears human consciousness appears to be more limited than I’ve thought. Instead of 110 bits of conscious capacity, according to Ap Dijksterhuis and Loran Nordgren have estimated our conscious capacity varies between 10 – 60 bits per second. If one unit of information is about 8 bits it would be about 1 – 7 units depending on how tired, hungry and what else we are.

We are more unconscious than we know. This is interesting topic that I’ve been pondering a lot. Most of our seemingly conscious actions become so automatic that they are being done unconsciously. In fact if you look at drunk and tired people, they may be unconscious and not register much what is going on at all, yet they somehow find their ways to operate in the world.

Key take away here is that the conscious is more limited than we know. We should use the limited consciousness to harness the capabilities of habits, which is essentially outsourcing the important things to our unconscious which is far more powerful than we could hope our conscious to be.

We can learn all the important skills and habits, most important decision is what to prioritize and finish right now?

We Get What We Are Able to Give Others

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Life is not so much about ourselves, but what we can do for others. Then in turn if there are good people around you, your needs will be met as well.  We get what we are able to teach others. By teaching we have internalized the thoughts and transferred into something valuable for others.

When we first help as many people to get what they most need in life, then eventually in time we will get what we need. All of us are in service profession, from different skill sets we need to look how we best can benefit the lives of others.

Giving happens through selfless service with no expectations of return. With no expectations of return we can focus truly to serve, without getting distracted by rewards. Working this way allows us to truly prioritize the human and the needs.

 

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.

How to Succeed with Your Most Important Dreams or Goals

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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?

Conscious Growth

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Definition of ‘conscious’ according to Google: late 16th century (in the sense ‘being aware of wrongdoing’).

Being aware of wrongdoing! To be aware of the wrongdoing would require some sense of the right. And for this there are some simple questions to ask yourself:

What is my purpose?

What is my mission?

What is my vision?

What are my values?

 

Pause, Don’t Panic

While the set of questions may be daunting, pause for a minute first.

Often we are living our lives without personal life statements such as these, yet many organizations have their purposes, missions and values which we are exposed to. Although we might be unconsciously gravitating towards what feels right, I think everyone owes it to themselves to be aware of their own values and drivers.

The ability to love others come only through our own growth. And growth can only begin if we know where are a standing, and then where we want to go. So this is essential groundwork to be done on the journey of growth.

 

Example

My purpose is simply to grow, explore so that I may nurture the growth of others. As for my mission, it’s more about how good karma is my guide and I try to lead a good and virtuous life through example. These serve my vision which is to organize progressively challenging successes together, so that we could maybe one day work towards exciting goals such as interplanetary travel.

I admit that in an everyday situation I would probably be unlikely very well articulated about these. Yet I am recognizing the importance of knowing the purpose, mission, vision and values by heart. Often many organizations such as companies and churches have their values in many places so that people will remember theirs easily. Yet why is it so that we do not have our own values memorized?

 

We Are What We Remember We Are

Our understanding of the reality pretty much of what we remember, either through experiences or knowledge. It is the memory and identity that dictate what we think we can do.

Therefore we should remember our purpose, values, mission and vision by heart. If you are young, some of these might be still working versions, which is totally fine. It is the sign of a wise person to be able to have dialogue with the world and change their behavior upon learned experiences and wisdom.

Quick and permanent judgement does not simply work, because all life is in constant flux and fluid like water. It’s like saying the water in a running river is today same as yesterday. Well although its water, a lot of water has passed already! Understand the impermanence in life.

 

Paradox of Life

You have to prioritize the needs of other people and your own growth at the same time.

Again, pause and breathe! Two things can be true at the same time: think of circle overlapping each other or the atmosphere of the earth. Because in fact there is no clear point where space starts and the atmosphere ends it’s seamless!

 

Sustaining Growth

To sustain growth, we need energy.

Prioritizing the needs of others eventually drains ourselves. Yet there is no greater purpose in life to serve others and nurture their growth.

For this reason, we need to prioritize our own growth at the same time. We need to take our own energy. and growth. There are many forms of energy: mental, physical, spiritual and intellectual and you must attend to all these parts in your life.

Due to the seamless nature of life we ought to become the masters at prioritizing each moment according to what will serve our overall purpose the best.

I’ve attempted to describe the prioritizing with the following picture:

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And right away contradicting with my own model I dare to say it is possible to rest in motion if you are well prepared. Likewise it is possible to have rest that does not feel like rest at all if you have taken too much action.

What I find interesting, the more you shift between the action and preparation, the better of you actually are. As extreme example: Elon Musk has his days split into chunks of 5 minutes. This kind of schedule would be really fluid between burning energy and recovering it.

I am trying to have split my focused work to 45 minute spurts and then something else between.

When it comes to sustainable growth, we are all individuals with different drivers (values, purpose, mission…), so some are willing to sacrifice different aspects of their lives than others. However, be aware of your choice.

Path of the Conscious Growth

Conscious growth means acknowledging your responsibility over your own growth in order to benefit others. Conscious growth is essentially recognizing the potential in yourself and then starting the work to actualize some of that potential.

Next think: what is it you want next?

Based on the previous questions, you should know by know that the time and energy are limited. We still what we want and setting a goal towards that can be beneficial, at least you will be going to the right direction.