Author: Salma Mallouk

How to give like a monk

Do you feel stuck in your life? Do you lack direction? Well, today we are focusing on purpose. And what better way to kick off this month’s theme than with Jay Shetty. Jay Shetty is a former monk and is globally known for his work in the (mental) health world. He has a podcast called: “On Purpose” where he interviews celebs as well as scientists.

Jay Shetty discovered his calling during his time as a monk. In his book “Think Like a Monk” he describes the meaning of purpose. In Sanskrit the closest translation is Dharma which is loosely translated to your calling. Jay Shetty describes it as:

Dharma:
when your talent and passions connect with what the universe needs, 
you are living in your dharma (purpose)

How to find your Dharma

If we keep our minds open and curious, our dharmas announce themselves. Jay breaks it down into four categories: passion, skill, compassion and usefulness.

Source: Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty

Moving on to gratitude

I am a deep thinker and sometimes I find it difficult to understand what I am doing here, i.e. on earth. It could be because I have a lot on my mind, or that I see people suffering and ask myself why I worry about all the small things happening in my life. Instead of being grateful for all that I have, I just focus on the negative feelings. As a result, I lack the motivation to do the simple stuff in life. But if you stay in this state too long you can get depressed. The solution is being grateful through acts of service.

Why should we be grateful? Well first of all the practice of gratitude makes you realize all that you have. But also, Jay Shetty said, When you’re present in gratitude you can’t be anywhere else. So you can’t be in your mind with all those (negative thoughts).

Gratitude through service

By doing for others we do for ourselves because charity does as much for the giver as for the receiver. We like to think: I’m doing this selfless thing but in hindsight, we are getting something out of it. Service helps you transform negative emotions.

Acts of service can be anything. As long as you help someone. It could even be doing groceries for your elderly neighbor or helping your sister/brother with their young children. Simultaneously, it could be helping someone who has less.

The benefits of gratitude through service:

  • You feel needed (usefulness).
  • You experience compassion.
  • You become grateful for the life you have.
  • Or you realize which aspects you want to add to your life.
  • You access a broader view of life, and problems, by giving.

Source image: Unsplash, Quinten de Graaf

How will you know if you never try

We all have 100 good ideas and dreams as humans. Personally, I would like to start my own café every time I walk into a cute coffee place. I already envision myself as the owner and part-time barista welcoming customers. Other times I see something online and I think to myself, I could do a better job at this. I know the audience better. But the truth is: how will we know the outcome if we never try?

Priorities

Before you try

Where to start

Okay so now the fun part. Suppose you have your priorities straight and you are done with all the planning and preparations. Then comes the time to walk to that starting line and take off. But in reality, this can be really scary. No worries below you can find helpful ways to kick-start your idea.

1 | Allow yourself 5 failures a day

2 | The beginner’s mind

No regrets

Another incentive to start is the realization that if you don’t start, you won’t know how good it gets. We all know the quote: “What if I fail? Oh darling, but what if you fly.” You need to ask yourself whether the cost of not trying weighs heavier than the cost of regret. And with that, I leave you this week. I hope this article was helpful to you!

Source image: Unsplash, Jared Poledna

Harsh Truth: Life goes on

Time doesn’t stop for anybody. Sometimes we would very much like it to pause for a moment though. In this life, we will all experience loss or a traumatic situation. And as much as we would like to “move on from it”, we would also like to take a minute and process. But the harsh truth is that time doesn’t stop for anybody. For everyone the threshold is different. Also, the situation where loss is being experienced may differ from person to person. Having kids can be challenging. Losing someone you love dearly can be heartbreaking.

Sex and the city

This comparison is for my Sex and the City women. Remember when in Sex and the City 2 Charlotte was so overwhelmed with having two kids and societal expectations on what a nanny should look like? She reached her limits while making cupcakes and went into the pantry to grab something, but in hindsight, she just needed a minute (find the clip below).

Personal loss

However, after a while, you have to get back up. Because in reality life, or rather, time goes on. In business everybody is replaceable. But more importantly if you stay too long in that rut, you will miss out on so many beautiful new memories. This is also very apparent when you have young kids around you. They won’t wait for you to take their first steps or to say their first words. And when you aren’t present you will miss a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Reach your full potential

You are also doing yourself a disservice when you are not getting everything out of this life. I once heard Rob Dial mention the following in his podcast. “When someone dies, all the unused potential dies with them.” We are still here so we owe it to ourselves, and maybe even the person that passed away, to do the best we can to reach our full potential.

Source image: Unsplash, Maico Amorim

Peace: to be calm at heart

This month’s newsletter is centered around why certain clichés are true. One of them is to protect your peace. And while some might think: this feels too zen for me. It is in fact the very base of attaining happiness or succes. Because you can’t pour from an empty cup but contradictory you also can’t fill a cup that is already full.

Pouring from an empty cup

Oh gosh, another cliché. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Imagine this, we are looking at a movie where someone is constantly doing the same thing. Where the character’s daily routine is very boring. Even the character themselves are not enjoying the activities they are doing. This is very hard to watch and even more difficult to live. Some people are burned out or miserable living their own lives. Their peace is compromised. Now for them, it is time to change things up. To conduct a new activity or maybe a change of scenery.

Filling the cup

On the contrary, you can’t fill a cup that is already full. Which refers to the fact that when you are already overworked, are dealing with too much stress, you can’t really handle much more. For example, you had a busy day at the office and your colleague then asked you to handle another project. You do it anyway because you can show your expertise to more people in management. Then, on your way to your commute, you find out that the train has a 20-minute delay… Which is going to make you arrive late at a friend’s birthday party. You arrive at the party but honestly, you look tired and are not even enjoying the company around you.

Now I’m not saying that you have carte blanche to blame your grumpy behavior on these events. Because at the end of the day, you are responsible for the way you act. But we have to realize that we can’t enjoy the moment when our social battery is running low. Therefore, protect your peace and prevent yourself from becoming too overworked.

Peace is the base of everything

Whether you want to empty your cup or fill it up, you have to prioritize your peace. Now first, let’s establish a definition of peace. To have peace is to be calm at heart. This can be established by setting boundaries on these aspects:

Mind

  • decrease screen time
  • read 1 book a month
  • guided meditation
  • surround yourself with positive people
  • saying “no” more often
  • cleanse your space
  • write things down
  • self-care day

Body

  • strech daily
  • more your body more
  • cut out fast food
  • go for a relaxing massage
  • nourish your body

Soul

Source image: Unsplash, Mahosadha Ong

Do the best until you know better

We tend to torture ourselves with past events. For example, when we gain new knowledge or insight. We like to dwell on how things could’ve been if we had that information sooner. But guess what … you didn’t. So why would you even entertain that thought? Instead, try to think of ways to become better now.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a writer of beautiful poems amongst others and an activist. She had so much wisdom. Every time I read or watch something of her work, I catch myself contemplating the message behind it. One of her best-known works is the poem: “And still I rise”. Another phrase she wrote is: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I first encountered this quote while listening to an episode of Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. Below is the interview with Maya Angelou where she shares a lifetime of advice in 40 minutes.

Do the best you can until you know better

Now back to the quote related to this post. When you do the best you can, it also brings you peace because you can let go in a way. This way you can look back without any regrets. It also may give you a feeling of giving it your all in the present moment.

Then when you know better, do better

When you have gained that new insight, you owe it to yourself to do better. Because if you live by the phrase: “do the best you can”. You have to constantly improve. It is also fun to actively find new ways to innovate and gain relevant knowledge.

5 AM club

Source image: Unsplash, Karolina Grabowska

It’s exhausting becoming your emotions

Take a step back from your emotions

So the first step seems obvious. You may have been told to count to 10 as a child, to regulate your emotions. When you take time to take a step back from your emotions, you get to self-reflect. Afterward, you feel more conscience and might figure out the best way to process those emotions.

Don’t be consumed by your emotions

Remember that you are not your emotions. Whether it is insecurity, anger, or feelings of hurt. We can make emotions part of our identity. The consequence is that you limit yourself to behaviors that are in line with that emotion. Second, you will let that emotion consume you and as a result, you will stay in the state of that emotion. The fact that we are human beings and can reflect is such a beautiful thing. Because we can process the emotions and eventually let them go.

Exhausting

Also, it takes a lot of energy to become that emotion. Whenever we feel an emotion, we spend a lot of time thinking about it and how it affects us. For example, what someone or something has done to ourselves. Or how stupid you have reacted to someone or something. First of all, that event is in the past and we can’t do anything about that. What we can do is notice the emotions we have and evaluate how to handle them. This will be a lot less exhausting. In the end, we have to actively decide to not be consumed by emotions.

Full range of emotions

Source: Unsplash, Hendrikke Due

The circle of influence, how to take action

In the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey talks about two kinds of circles. The first and the larger circle is called the circle of Concern. Which contains all the things you are concerned about. In other words, all the things that take space in your mind. For example, your loved ones, your health, your job, the weather, the economy, etc. Some of these things we can control, in other words, we influence these things. They reside in the smaller circle: the circle of Influence.

Source: dplearningzone

One way to determine in which circle to categorize things is to distinguish the “Haves” from the “Bes” Examples of the “Haves” are:

I'll be happy when I have ...
If only I had a more patient partner ...
If I could just have more time to myself ...  
I can be more resourceful. 
I can be more understanding.
I can be dedicated. 

Source: Unsplash, Yiran Ding

How to be more proactive

  • self-awareness
  • imagination
  • conscience
  • independent will

Taking the initiative

Some people are in a situation (which could also be a stimulus) where they would like to change things in their lives. But the initiative to make those changes is still challenging. Sometimes these people are waiting for something to happen or someone to take care of them (it).

Act or be acted upon

If you are not willing to act and take responsibility for a situation/stimulus. Then your environment will shape your situation. When you are faced with adversities for example in your business. Ask yourself these questions: What is our/my response? What are/am we/I going to do? How can we/I exercise initiative in this situation? Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean only thinking positively and saying ” Oh we’ll be alright”. By taking a proactive attitude you face reality but also choose to see the positive side and work towards improving the situation.

Listen to your language

The easiest way to check whether you have a proactive attitude is to listen to your language. And specifcally your choice of words. Examples are:

"I can't do that, I just don't have the time"
"That's me. That's the way I am"
"There's nothing I can do" 

One thing that these sentences have in common is that the person who said it gave all the freedom of choice away. They didn’t take responsibility for their priorities (I know again with the responsibilities). Stephen Covey even wrote: ” That language comes from a basic paradigm of determinism. And the whole spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. I am not responsible, not able to choose my response

One example of changing the narrative to owning responsibilities mentioned is the book is called “The Haves and the Bes”. And will be discussed in the upcoming post.

Source image: Unsplash, Rocco Stoppoloni

The way you act

Imagine this: someone is blaming or accusing you of something. One of your reactions might be to; be defensive, react the way to other party expects you to react, respond from emotions. In some situations, you may be inclined to think that you are pushed in a corner. We may even feel like we had no choice, that we were forced to respond that way. But the hash truth is that we always have the freedom to choose our responses.

We are responsible for our actions.

It may be a bitter pill to swallow. Because it is easier to react instead of act (I’ll come back to the difference). It is easier to say: “That person was pushing me to say this or that”. Or ” That person made me so angry/sad/furious I had to say it”. “That person was attacking me and I had to stand up for myself.” But in all those sentences you blame someone else. Now I’m not saying that you don’t have the right to defend yourself, but it is your responsibility to choose how you respond.

Space between stimulus and response

Now between a stimulus (= whatever made you angry/sad/furious) and your response there is an empty space. Viktor Frankl refers to that space as “man has freedom to choose”. You get to elaborate how you want to respond and what the best way forward is. Stephen R. Covey best describes this freedom in his book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

Act instead of react

So basically when you react to a stimulus you immediately respond. Which is equivalent to talking before you think. But the better option might be to act on the stimulus. This means that you spend some time thinking about your response, with self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will. Which is equivalent to thinking before you speak.

Source image: Unsplash, Nadine Shaabana

Leave the table when it’s no longer serving you

Have you ever heard the phrase that quitting is for losers? Or have you heard someone say, you should finish what you’ve started (almost with an undertone of disappointment)? But why SHOULD we do anything that is no longer serving us? For me, it didn’t click until Steven Bartlett mentioned that quitting in different scenarios is actually the wisest decision.

Quitting framework

In his earlier book, he talks about the quitting framework. In life we glamourize starting, but dread quitting. Let’s dive deeper into why it is frowned upon to quit. Mostly, because your environment or society will look at you as a failure. They will think that you are not good enough or didn’t have enough skills, guts to finish that task. So this fear of finishing what you started is founded on the perception and opinions of others.

Let’s look at a simple example. Let’s say that you bought a book that you thought was gonna be really inspiring. You read the first 50 pages of the book and actually, you have a hard time following the narrative. What do you do? Do you finish reading the book because you started already and you invested money into it? Or do you close your book and maybe donate it to a second-hand shop? The wiser decision here would be to quit reading the book.

To start something new, you have to let go

Whenever you would like to start something new, you need to let go of something else. So quitting something makes sense. I also think that if you truly know yourself and the path you would like to follow, it is bold to quit something. You’re making a statement that says: “This activity/ relationship/ task is no longer in line with who I am and trying to become.

Is it really difficult or is it not serving you?

Now I’m not saying that you should quit something right the second it gets difficult. Through the quitting framework, you should ask yourself a couple of questions. Is the hardship worth the rewards? But if the hardship isn’t worth the reward it’s best to quit because then it becomes hard and meaningless. The other question is: “Do you believe you can make it not suck?” For example, in a relationship. The second question: “Is the effort that it would take, worth the rewards?”

Well, there you have it. A simple framework to decide if things are still serving you.

Image: Unsplash by Tungsten Rising

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