Category: Self

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

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

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

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

Where do you want to be?

Only four months until the end of the year. Still, enough time to do fun things and also (re)build habits. The question is: “Where do you want to be in life on December 31st” The following questions can help you form this person. write down:

one thing you’re excited for

one new thing you like to try

one person you want to catch up with

one area you want to grow in

the way you want to feel

The second step is to implement the answers to these questions daily, weekly, and at tops on a monthly basis. Set realistic deadlines that are easy to write off as accomplished or not yet accomplished.

How fun would it be if you answered these honestly, really stuck with them for the next months, and actually saw results at the end of the year?

Source: Unsplash, by Jorgen Hendriksen

How green is your grass?

We live in an era of the Internet where you can post anything. And few social media applications are filtered to what you want to see. Yes sure you can follow the accounts you like. But the explore page is still feeding you with more accounts to “consume”.

Do you really want what they have?

When you see someone with a shiny car do you really want that car? You can see someone being super happy with what they have, applaud them. But at the same time you don’t have to want what they have. Do you want a partner, a social media career, or children, to be traveling constantly? Think about it: what if you can’t post anything on the Internet or show off in public, would you still want that? Well, there’s your answer.

People don’t notice you

When you have an expensive car, you park it and walk out.. people don’t look at you but at the car. So even if you really want that car. be aware that people will not admire you but rather that car. The same goes for all other materialistic stuff. While it has become part of the culture to constantly celebrate an accomplishment and signal your hustle online. What you’re doing with that is watering society and social media platforms. You are not focusing on your “lawn” but rather on how your “lawn” is perceived by your neighbors.

The grass is greener where you water it.

What you give attention to grows. This means that if you spend a lot of your time and energy looking at other people’s lives, that will grow in your eyes. You are nurturing their “lawn” while yours turns brown. No wonder you think their life is much better because you have been putting all YOUR time into theirs.

Finding contentment

It is certain that every human will experience ups and downs in their lives. How do we find contentment during those times? Usually, people handle good times better than bad times. So in this post, I will focus more on the bad times.

No expectations

When we feel disappointed it is usually because we were really looking forward to something. It could also be that you had a different expectation of that situation and things turned out differently. By having high expectations you’re setting yourself up for failure. But you could also look at it the other way around. Namely, during good times you expect that something bad will happen so only thing negative thoughts.

Resilience

  • Shit happens
    suffering is part of every human experience. But somehow we forget this because we only show the shiny side of our lives on social media. The more you accept that you will experience ups and downs. The more you can heal when a situation arises.
  • Being selective with their attention
    people who show resilience accept the things they can’t change and act on the things they can change. This allows for more peace of mind.
  • Help or Harm
    people who show resilience also ask themselves: “Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?” Some things are not helping us in our healing process but feed the emotion we are in at that point.

Practicing gratitude

By writing or thinking about all the things you are grateful for daily or weekly, you are looking at the good that is happening in your life. This way you will always find something positive during good or/and bad times. It also might be easier to cope with the thing you’re dealing with, because there is always something to be grateful for.

Image: Unsplash. by Dave Herring

Take the good with the bad

A rainbow arises when rain falls and the sun shines simultaneously. This is one example of the quote “With hardship comes ease”. It is important to take the good with the bad and end up with a beautiful site like a rainbow.

Inna ma’al ‘usri yusra

In Arabic we have a saying which is translated to “With hardship comes ease”. And for years I have interpreted this as: “After hardship comes ease”. Usually, people say this to reassure you and make you realize that after the hard times, the sun shines again and better days will come. But actually, life is more complicated than that. Because in reality the good and bad times happen intertwined. Yasmine Mogahed writes it beautifully in her book Reclaim your heart. She says:

The ease exists at the same time as the hardship. This means that nothing in this life is ever all bad (or all good). In every bad situation we’re in, there is always something to be grateful for. With hardship, Allah also gives us the strength and patience to bear it.

Jasmin Mogahed

Yin and Yang

Is a Chinese philosophical concept. It explains that opposite forces need to exist together in order to have harmony. Yin (black) is receptive and yang (white) is the active principle. They need each other for example; night and day, black and white, etc. It could also stand for positive and negative. This would mean that in order to live in harmony, one must have positive and negative in their life at the same time.

Don’t go looking

Now it is not wise to go looking for the bad at times when things are going well. Sometimes everything in my life is going great; career, private life, health. And during those times I often worry about what will ruin it all. Thus, which hardship will crash this good time. But by looking for hardship you firstly are not fully present during beautiful moments in your life. Secondly, you are also manifesting and inviting that bad energy into your life which ultimately becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Image: Unsplash, by Yulia Gadalina

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