Categories
Self-Help

The One Thing I Would Like to See Happen in the New Year is the End of Alienation

The one thing I would like to see happen in the New Year is the end of alienation

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! Thank you for taking the time to read my work and interact with me through your comments. I appreciate every single one of you. Starting a new year is always filled with much anticipation; 2021 carries with it a lot of hope bearing in mind what we all went through in 2020.  There is much to say about last year and if I can succinctly summarize it in one word, I would use the word INSANE. Moving on, if there is one thing that I would like to see happen in the New Year is the end of the state of ALIENATION where we all seem to languish.

My name is Estrange – The one thing I would like to see this year is the end of alienation – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The word ‘alienation’ comes from the Latin word ‘estrange’ and is defined as the separation or estrangement of human beings from some essential aspect of their nature or from society often resulting in feelings of powerlessness or helplessness.

We spent the whole of last year being alienated from each other, being forced to stay at home away from friends, family, colleagues and, customers. Spending all our time in-door in our own-little-sanitized-virus-free-bubble; being linked to the outside world only through our electronic devices is becoming the ‘new normal’ and this in return alienate us from one another, from nature and from ourselves.

Alienation from one another

No man is an island’

Humans are social creatures, connections are a core human need; we need healthy relationships to thrive.  It is through connections that we accomplish virtually everything that happens to us in life. It is not just a preference, it is a survival need. It is not surprising therefore to see connection and the feeling of belonging to a group coming in 3rd place on Maslow’s Pyramid of needs just after food, water, shelter which is the first basic needs that are necessary for our survival and the need for safety through employment health, property, which is Maslow’s 2nd basic needs.

As a quick refresher, Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist, best known for writing A Theory of Human Motivation and Towards a Psychology of Being; he defined the concept of Self-Actualization. Maslow’s unique approach to psychology came from the fact that he decided to study mentally healthy individuals, instead of people with serious psychological issues. His focus was on Self-Actualized individuals who had a better insight of reality, deeply accepted themselves, others and the world and who share qualities such as truth, goodness, aliveness, uniqueness and playfulness.

My Name is EsteemThe one thing I would like to see this happen in the New Year is the end of alienation and for people to feel recognized and appreciated for what they doPhoto by @freepik via freepik.com

At the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, you can find basic needs of human beings such as food, water, sleep, sex. The next level is safety needs or the need for security, order and stability. Once individuals have achieved their basic nutrition, shelter and safety needs, they are free to accomplish more; and this is how they move on to the next level i.e.love, belonging to a group, connection. The fourth level i.e. esteem is the need to feel competent and recognized; this level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished through professional success and status. At the top of the pyramid, you have the need for self-actualization which occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they are engaged in achieving their full potential.

Coming back to the main point of this article, several studies have demonstrated the fact that connecting with others is good for our physical and mental health. Real connection is more profound than mere conversation. True connection can happen without words and with someone we don’t even know. On the other hand, constant contact such as working with someone every day is no guarantee of actual connection.

True connection happens when you make yourself open and available to another and the other person does the same towards you. We feel connected to someone when we are being physically embraced, emotionally understood and supported by another being; you add to this mix some empathy and compassion and you have the secret recipe for a great connection.

Scientists looked into this and science is clear on this issue, how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health and happiness. The Harvard Study of Adult Development[1] is the longest study on adult life ever conducted, allowing researchers to collect a huge amount of data on men’s physical and mental health. Women were not part of the original study because the college was still all-male. The study started in 1938 when scientists started tracking the health of two hundred and sixty-eight Harvard sophomores; they hoped that the study would reveal clues to leading healthy and happy lives. Scientists expanded their research to include the men’s offspring and more than a decade ago added their wives to the study. From the pool of men who participated in the study some went on to become successful businessmen, doctors and lawyers, while others ended up as schizophrenics or alcoholics. The surprising finding was that our relationships, and how happy we are in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health. The revelation is that: taking care of your body is important but tending to your relationships plays a critical role in living long and pleasant lives and is a form of self-help too. Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. These close ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline and are better indicators of long and happy lives than social class, IQ or even genes.

The one thing I would like to see this New Year is the end of the current state of alienation from one another that we are experiencing right now. I wish for 2021 to be the year where we are safely able to reconnect with our family, friends, colleagues and customers.

Alienation from nature

In a world where we spend more and more time indoors and glued to our screens, we should add go outside and immerse ourselves in nature as one additional item on our New Year resolution list.  There is nothing better than a walk in the park, or in the woods, or a stroll by the beach to invigorate our senses and give us a feeling of happiness and peace. Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, stress and improve our immune system.  

Researcher David Strayer of the University of Utah confirmed that brain scans show unequivocally that we are physically and mentally healthier when we are interacting with nature. Science is demonstrating what we intuitively knew that nature makes us happy.

My name is SunshineThe one thing I would like to see this New Year is the end of alienation and for people to go out more to enjoy feeling the sun on their skinPhoto by @freepik via freepik.com

“We must cherish the natural world because we are part of it and we depend on it.”

Sir David Attenborough

A day out in the sunshine can provide us with vitamin D which is vital for a good immune system. A large chunk of the population today is Vitamin D deficient and this deficiency is often found to be the root cause of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s to name only a few. This problem can be easily solved by spending more time outside in the sunshine.

The environment is a natural purifier. Spending some hours outdoors helps in releasing the toxins from our body and leave us feeling fresh and rejuvenated.  Moreover, time spent outside will naturally push us to do more physical activities, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming surfing, kicking a football. Any exercise outdoor will help burn fat and improve your body’s metabolism.

If you live in an urban area and are not within close proximity to a park, having some plants at home can work wonders. Growing plants at home can add aesthetic beauty to your living space, but it can also contribute to purifying the air you breathe.

Advice from a Tree from Ilan Shamir

Advice from a Tree – Ilan Shamir

The one thing I would like to see this New Year is the end of the current state of alienation from nature. I wish for 2021 to be the year where we go outside and embrace the changing seasons, the energy and birth of Spring, the growth and contentment of summer, the wisdom to let go like leaves in the Fall  and the rest and quiet renewal of winter.

Alienation from self

Do you know who you are and what your true nature is? Operating within our true nature is often put on the back burner because there are more pressing things to attend to on a daily basis. People tend to get lost within their never-ending obligations, domestic chores and ordinariness of life.

Everyone has to bear the burden of their own internal struggles.  Life will bring you a series of  good fortune and misfortune. Learning how to respond to the resulting joy or pain and confusion is always a struggle; but if we learned to act from our true essence, it would be less of a struggle.

One way for us, human beings to regain our sense of connection to ourselves is to be mindful and present in the moment and pay attention to our feelings about a particular situation, such as fear, greed, envy, jealousy, anger, hate. The idea is to let those feelings envelop us and try to deal with them with as much compassion and wisdom as we are capable.

What is fear? Non-acceptance of uncertainty. If we accept uncertainty it becomes an adventure. What is envy? Non-acceptance of good in others. If we accept good in others it becomes inspiration. What is anger? Non-acceptance of what is beyong our control. I we accept it, it becomes tolerance. What is hate? Non-acceptance of people as they are. If we accept each other unconditionally, it becomes love.

Native American Wisdom
My name is Clarity – The one thing I would like to see this New Year is the end of alienation and for people to have more clarity – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to Know Thyself. That Motto Know Thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. With this inscription, the Oracles at Delphi invited people to gaze inwards and discover that the essence of one’s life is not be searched outside ourselves, but within, this is where we find clarity.

“Way too many people are going to spend 30–40 years of their life trying to check the boxes of the things that they’re not good at and waste a fuck load of time and lose.”

Gary Vaynerchuck

Self-awareness is a conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires; without self-awareness, many of your choices are made unconsciously; who to love or not to love, why you feel sad, why you feel happy, why you stay in your current job?

The one thing I would like to see this New Year is the end of the current state of alienation from self a lot of people are experiencing right now. I wish for 2021 to be the year when people reconnect with who they are and find the clarity that eluded them before.

And this my dear friend, is your Quest for 2021.

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code


[1] The Harvard Study of Adult Development – https://www.maelstrom-research.org/mica/individual-study/hsad

Categories
Self-Help

Transformation and Growth. How Does One Become a Butterfly?

Transformation and growth. How does one become a butterfly?

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”.

If one of your New Year resolutions is to pursue transformation and growth in order to become the best version of yourself, I invite you to study the life of a butterfly and learn from it. But how does one become a butterfly?

Transformation and Growth – How does one become a butterfly? Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The butterfly has one of the most fascinating life cycles of all creatures. It starts its life as an egg perched on a leaf. When the egg finally hatches, a caterpillar emerges from the egg. The whole raison d’être of the caterpillar is to eat as much as possible in order to reach its desired growth. During this stage, the caterpillar will outgrow and shed its skin as many as four or five times.

As soon as the caterpillar is done growing and it has reached its full length and weight, it takes refuge into a cocoon, also known as the chrysalis, where it can safely rest and digest all the food that has been consumed in the previous stage. Though the chrysalis appears unchanged from the outside, there is a dramatic transformation taking place inside, this process is called metamorphosis, whereby the body of the caterpillar is slowly dissolving to create a brand-new being.

At last, in the final stage of its metamorphosis, the fully developed butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis. The butterfly breaks free from its cocoon with wings that are folded and wet, so more rest time is necessary to allow blood to flow into the wings. Finally, when the wings are fully dry, the butterfly is ready to take flight and share its beauty with the world.

If we look closely at the process of the butterfly transformation from one state to another state, we see it is not an easy process. It takes time and each phase is necessary before the next stage can take place. If your New Year resolution is to transform yourself into the best individual you can possibly be,  I invite you to emulate the transformation process of the butterfly when you are working on your own transformation and growth.

The caterpillar stage

In this stage of the butterfly’s life (which follows right after the hatching from an egg) the main task is consumption. For us, we can assimilate this stage with the stage of growth when we are consuming as much knowledge and training as we can about something new that we want to understand and master.

Transformation and Growth. How does one become a butterfly? The caterpillar stage. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

This is the stage when we learn how to master our craft, and it is also the occasion for us to keep an open-mind about how things are done  and ‘shed’ old ideas, concepts and habits that don’t work anymore. Sometimes we have to unlearn the things we learned and take the path less traveled by. This is often a stage of great excitement and energy as we enjoy the flow of creativity and inspiration it brings; but the learning process can also bring with it its fair share of  hard work and loneliness.

It is important that we do not rush through this stage and have patience to go through the not-so-glamourous part of the learning process. A house built on sand won’t last very long. In the olden days, if you wanted to enter a profession you had to find a master who will be willing to take you under his wings and enter into an apprenticeship to learn the craft.  The normal length of an apprenticeship was 10 years; learning the craft required patience, discipline and dedication. The modern concept of this is the 10, 000 hours required to master a skill as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers.

Robert Greene calls this Mastery. He wrote a whole book about it.

Anyone who would spend ten years absorbing the techniques and conventions of their field, trying them out, mastering them, exploring and personalizing them, would inevitably find their authentic voice and give birth to something unique and expressive. Embrace slowness as a virtue in itself”.

Robert Greene

We have a tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, we are impatient and want to see results quickly, but remember “there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” The best way to cultivate our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain – like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.

For more on this subject, you can read my article Want Good things to happen to you? Try Patience.

The chrysalis stage

In this stage the caterpillar takes refuge in a protective cocoon where it can safely rest and conduct its metamorphosis quietly and privately.

Human beings tend to skip that stage or confuse it with a period of a downturn or treat it as a failure. In fact, this stage is a necessary stage where you should learn the art of being still. What does stillness mean? Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you. Socrates tells us that philosophy begins with wonder, and wonder is rooted in stillness. Other philosophers from various schools of thought have come to a similar conclusion, namely that the ultimate destination in our life journey is to master the stillness that is required to become master of our own life.

Transformation and Growth – How does one become a butterfly? The Chrysalis Stage Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Ryan Holiday’s book Stillness is the Key, describes the philosophy of stillness, or the art of being still and how important stillness is for self-mastery, discipline and focus in our modern noisy world. Stillness is an attainable path to enlightenment, excellence, greatness, and happiness, it can inspire new ideas, sharpens perspective and illuminate the mind. Stillness slows the ball down so we can hit it, it generates a vision, helps us resist the passion of the mob, and makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere, to succeed, a key to unlock the insights of genius. Stillness is not some soft, new-age nonsense or the domain of monks or sages but in fact an essential component to peak performance in every domain of life.

A paradox of stillness is that it requires you to think very deeply, but also clear your mind. In fact, this is not a paradox as once our mind is cleared and emptied insights and breakthroughs can occur.

“Muddy waters clear themselves through stillness; if we let them settle the truth will be revealed to us.”

Another paradox is that stillness does not require that you stop moving or even to be somewhere quiet, stillness can be cultivated while chaos swirls around you. Those moments, in a busy shopping mall or airport, when somehow all the external noise is filtered out and you feel a sense of calm and can focus on what is in your control, that, is stillness.

The ability to intentionally find stillness, in a busy environment or just by shutting your eyes and focusing your thoughts and attention on one thing, is important because we have to move and live our lives; intentional stillness takes effort.  Active stillness is effective because we can’t simply think our way to peace or pray our body into better condition.

Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly, not only when you are meditating, but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

For more on this subject , please read my article  The Art of Being Still.

Transformation and growth – How does one become a butterfly?

At last, in the final stage, the fully developed butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis sharing its beauty with the world. The butterfly is considered a wonder of nature, it symbolizes personal transformation, changes, rebirth and the lightness of being. The butterfly as a spirit animal will remind you that life is a dance. You should not take things so seriously. Transformation and changes don’t have to be traumatic. They can be sweet and gentle, so you can accept them with grace and joy.

Transformation and Growth. How does one become a butterfly? Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

When you are ready to display your new you to the world, move forward with courage, while recognizing the fragility of your ‘new wings’, and when things don’t work out the way you expected, best to let go of your expectations. It is natural for human beings to seek validation; we thrive on being seen and being appreciated for our work and effort. We all want to become a beautiful Monarch butterfly admired by the people around us and for the most ambitious admired by the whole world. But the reality is many of our endeavors will turn into tiny moths instead, and that’s Ok. We have to resist the temptation to be only driven by the desire to create something grandiose and earth-shattering; it is Ok to shoot for the stars but if you don’t get there, it is also Ok to be fully satisfied with whatever emerges from the chrysalis, for nature has a need for moths as well as beautiful butterflies.

Advice from a Butterfly from Ilan Shamir

Transformation and Growth – Advice from a Butterfly? Photo by @freepik via freepik.com
  • Let your true colors show
  • Take yourself lightly
  • Look for the sweetness in life
  • Take time to smell the flowers
  • Catch a breeze
  • Treat yourself like a Monarch
  • And this my dear friend, is your Quest.

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The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Be Happy

What You Should Know About New Year Resolutions

At this time of year, when some of us are already thinking about our new year’s resolutions, I’m encouraging you to invest a little time trying to understand a few things we could resolve that would help make us happier. We want to be happier, living a life of flourish, but we often chase both the wrong things and the wrong paths to get to them. It perhaps sounds strange but, people are awful at predicting what will make them happy. Even more disturbing is the fact that we are often disappointed when we get the very things we think we want. There are a few things that you should know before making your New Year Resolutions.

2021 Goal List?… Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

In one of the strongest statements against the possibility for change, Lykken and Tellegen, a pair of researchers from the Minnesota Twin Family Study suggested that “trying to be happier may be as futile as trying to be taller.” This study, which also coined the phrase, the hedonic treadmill, implies that our efforts to get somewhere, to be happier, don’t get us anywhere. I don’t believe this to be true, and below are three things that you may want to take into account when setting your goals for 2021.

New Year Resolutions the choice between possessions vs. experiences

What you should know about new year resolutions is that often it is a matter of choosing between possessions or experiences. There’s a logical assumption many people make when spending their money, that because a physical object lasts a long time, it will make us happier than an a one-off experience, like a vacation or a night out. But, a 20-year study by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, found the opposite to be true. “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Gilovich. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while, resulting in no permanent gain in happiness. Worse, according to this theory, as we make more money or buy more things, our expectations and desires for them rise in tandem.

Possessions v Experiences – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Experiences on the other hand tend to provoke more satisfaction than time using material possessions. A possible explanation is the endurance of experiences in people’s memories, while the perceived value of material goods weakens over time. Moreover, our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

Dr Thomas Gilovich

Another reason that experiences win over possessions, is that they connect us more tightly to other people. You’re much likelier to feel connected to someone you went to school with, went on holiday together, than say someone who just happens to buy the same type of car or smart phone.

Add to your new year resolution list: conquering negativity

Negativity is, in general, thinking that whatever happens is most likely going to turn out bad. It doesn’t help that we are hardwired such that negative events have a much greater impact on our brains than positive ones, psychologists refer to this as the negativity bias, but there is a subtle difference between negativity and negative thinking.

New Year Resolutions – Conquer NegativityPhoto by @freepik via freepik.com

The good type of negative thinking is why your mum checked if you packed a spare pair of pants on school trips. When your daughter is borrowing your car, when someone is asking you to take a risky investment decision, there’s good reason to think about worst case scenarios, it allows you to look at things more realistically, slows down decision making, and might save you money, or your life. Negative thinking often involves contemplating future events or outcomes where it is still possible to change the outcome; negativity, on the other hand, typically involves a habitual attitude of anger, cynicism, helplessness or sadness about things we cannot change. If you find yourself dwelling on an insult or fixating on your mistakes, and you keep playing it over and over in your mind, this is negativity, and it’s probably not doing you any good.

If you are someone who after an event takes place, finds yourself thinking “I shouldn’t have done that,” or focuses on things in a negative way, try to look for ways to reframe the situation in a more positive light. What did you learn? What would you do different next time?

Salvaging a funny story from your misfortunes can be a great way to turn the tide of negative thoughts. That old adage, “misery loves company,” is only partly true, “misery loves miserable company,” is more accurate. Humor is good medicine, the search for a funny aspect in a difficult moment can help us endure it, and when used to help others to copy, can be altruistic.

The Paradox of Choice

Psychologist Barry Schwartz took aim at a central tenet of western societies in his book The Paradox of Choice. Freedom of choice, in Schwartz’s estimation, has not made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied. Choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress.

In his book, Barry Schwartz explains that choice, the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being, impacts the challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs, and paradoxically becomes a problem instead of a solution.

Having too much choice, or choice overload, is a cognitive impairment in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options. Another factor which makes us less happy is FOMO, or the fear of missing out. To illustrate how FOMO works, imagine that you were shown 5 juicy oranges and told that one of them was the world’s tastiest, but you could only pick and eat one. Maybe you enjoyed your orange, but simply not knowing what the four other oranges taste likes lead to dissatisfaction. And, the more choices you have the worst it gets; if you have ten available choices, and you make a wrong decision, it’ll hurt more than if you only had 5 choices and made the same decision.

New Year’s Resolutions

So, when it comes to making your new year’s resolutions this year, try not to set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are vague, unrealistic, or influenced by what others expect of us. Because, if we ‘fail,’ we’re left feeling guilty, disappointed, and self-loathing—a far cry from the sense of confidence and empowerment we were after. Limit your choices, keep it simple, and try looking for something experiential. Happy new year, and here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021!

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code