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Self-Help Uncategorized

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? read on …

What is the problem with the World? There are endless problems in the world too many to list, but I was thinking that it would be an intellectually challenging exercise to try to put my finger on it. A foolish endeavor you may think. Maybe. Only a fool or a wise man could seriously pretend to know the answer to this question. I happen to know a wise and eccentric philosopher (Bertrand Russell [1]) who pondered over this question and who came up with an answer that is quite remarkable.

The problem with the world is that fools, and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are always so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

Et voila, in just one sentence Bertrand Russell sums it up. So, now that we have the answer to the question, let’s look at this more closely to see what we find out when we dissect Bertrand Russell’s statement. Pretend you are sitting comfortably in a theater to see the latest production of this Shakespearean tragedy or comedy, depending on your sense of humor, titled: “What Is the Problem With the World”. There are three main characters on stage, the Fool, the Fanatic, and the Wise Man.

Act I – Do you want to know what is the problem in the world ? Ask the Fool he believes he knows best

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? The Fool knows best – Photo by Kapone via freepik.com

The fool is grandiose (borderline annoying), confident (borderline arrogant), flamboyant (borderline tacky) and walks through life feeling absolutely certain about everything. A fool is set in his opinions and feels that he has a duty to share his way of thinking about this and that and everything important. A fool does not care to take counsel from others nor listen to their opinions, because he knows best. He has no fluidity of mind and is set in his ways.

New opinions are rejected and opposed just because they don’t fit the accepted idea and concepts that the fool has adopted as hard truth. The fool’s arrogant certainty about everything is set in stone and even King Arthur would not be able to dislodge him from that position. The problem with the fool is that he doesn’t know enough to know that he doesn’t know about the things he thinks he knows.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king – Erasmus

Act II – Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? Ask the Fanatic he believes he has access to absolute truth

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? The fanatic believes he has access to absolute truth. Photo by Anna Oddi via freepik.com

The fanatic is not a fool because he is a true believer in his cause and spends a substantial amount of his time learning about the cause he is fighting for. But just like the fool, he feels absolute and resolute certainty in his belief. The Fanatic refuses to hear and contemplate opposing views. You can find fanatics in all areas of life religion, politics, sports, media, etc. Fanatics can be leaders or followers, they are people who indulge in a toxic concoction of self-affirming, know-it-all confidence believing that they have unique access to absolute truth, truth so perfect that they have to impose them on everyone.

It is not what they believe that makes them fanatics it is how they believe it – no need to provide further evidence, no need to question or doubt. They operate in an irrational and emotional manner hiding their irrationality by rehearsed arguments that have been repeated and learned over time, not refreshed, updated, or put to the test. Fanatics are rigid in their thinking. The problem with this is that nothing is really certain what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one”

Voltaire

Our two main Shakespearean characters, the Fool and the Fanatic will not give a second thought to Voltaire’s adage because they remain certain and dogmatic in their beliefs.

Act III – The Wise Man believes that he knows nothing

Do you want to tknow what is the problem in the world? Photo by user 24028417 via freepik.com

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself. That Motto knows thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Socrates

According to the Wise Man of Ancient Greece, you may find the path to wisdom, if you start from a position of humility and if you accept the extent of your ignorance. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as pretty smart, rational individuals and funny too. But what if we’re wrong? Do we overestimate our own abilities? Are we completely blind to our own failings?

Socrates is known as the wisest man in Athens, but he doubted this very much until he put it to the test. Socrates’ favorite pastime was the pursuit of Truth. His reputation as a philosopher spread across Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi revealed to one of his friends that he was the wisest man in Athens, Socrates responded, not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

Socrates decided to find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, as anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He questioned everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead, they all pretended to know something they clearly did not. Finally, he realized that the Oracle might be right after all; he was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

The Wise man is humble in his knowledge, he is open-minded and recognizes that he has limited knowledge; and because he knows that there are so many things that he doesn’t know, he has doubts. The Wise Man understands that someone else may have knowledge that he doesn’t have, and this could lead him to change his opinion on this and that. He has fluidity of mind, he is not rigid in his view and his pursuit of the truth will lead him to question everything.

Ladies and gentlemen we are coming to the end of this production, thank you for reading this Shakespearean piece. And with this said, I will give the floor to the man himself for the final word.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Shakespeare.

PS: If you like this piece, feel free to applaud and comment. If you didn’t like this piece, feel free to criticize it not in a fanatical kind of way but after careful consideration just like a Wise Man would do; and I will try my best not to react to your comments in a foolish kind of way.

[1] Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872- 2 February 1970), British philosopher, mathematician, historian, political activist, and Nobel Laureate.

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

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Self-Help

do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset?

There are two types of people in this world: the scarcity type and the plenty type. Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset? If you are one of those who are constantly worried that there will not be enough of anything; enough money, enough time, enough food, enough of … well, you fill in the blank, then you belong to the first category, the scarcity type. If you are one of those who think that if there are not enough slices of pie for everyone, then the best thing to do is to make your own pie, then you belong to the second category, the plenty type.

Having a scarcity mindset is pervasive and is literally eating away your energy and mental capacity. In the world of science and psychology, this is called tunneling. We have very limited cognitive space and bandwidth. When you focus heavily on one thing, there is just less mind to devote to other things and as you devote more and more time dealing with scarcity you have less and less for other things in life.

In the world of economics and psychology, having too little means so much

The starting point is to acknowledge the fact that resources are scarce and limited. How much something costs depends on how scarce it is in relation to another resource, and the price will be driven by supply and demand. Sellers will charge you more for a product if they can convince you that this product is scarce or available only for a short period of time. It always baffled me to see how travel tickets and hotel rooms hyper-inflate around Christmas time, Easter, and summer vacation. I understand the concept that a lot of people would want to travel around those vacation times to meet up with family and friends, but I found it reprehensible to see how the service providers are taking advantage of this surge of demand, but I digress.

In the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” economist Sendhil Mullainathan and psychologist Eldar Shafer discuss the effects of scarcity mindset on our ability to think clearly and make informed decisions.

“Scarcity captures the mind… when we experience scarcity of any kind, we become absorbed by it. The mind orients automatically, powerfully towards unfulfilled needs. Scarcity is more than just the displeasure of having very little. It changes how we think. It imposes itself on our minds.”

Scarcity has a good, a bad, and a very ugly side. The good side of scarcity shows its lovely face when you have a limited amount of time to complete a task due to a pressing deadline, this can help you be hyper-focus on the task at hand. The bad side of scarcity shows it preoccupied face when all your energy is wasted away on the feeling of lack, leaving little mental capacity to focus on more important matters. The ugly side of scarcity shows its ugly face when you are creating your own self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and gloom because you are unable to make good decisions based on your unhealthy obsession with scarcity.

In the world of self-help and self-development, having a plenty mindset is the way to go

Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset? Do you see the glass half-full or half-emplty? Photo by Goonerva via freepik.com

An abundant mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody. People with a plenty mindset see opportunities everywhere instead of limitations. If you have the choice of hanging out with someone who sees the glass half-full or half-empty, for sure you will decide to spend time with the person who is positive, vibrant, who sees life as half-full, and who is feeling grateful for the things that they have.

People with a scarcity mindset believe that if one person wins, another must lose. It is very black & white. It is natural of course to want to be winners and not losers. The good news is that there is something in between losing or winning, it is called win-win scenarios where both parties get something from the transaction. So, instead of staying stuck in the paradigm win-lose all the time, try to create win-win scenarios.

Opportunities are everywhere but some people are blind to them because they have tunnel vision which triggers them to focus too much on one particular aspect of the issue. If you have a propensity to do that, you will not notice other possibilities that are right in front of you. If you keep repeating to yourself that you can’t do something and if impossible is part of your daily vocabulary, your brain will absolutely believe it. What you believe is what you receive.

Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset? Go or not go? Photo by Talexey via freepik.com

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”

Henry Ford

It is possible to switch from a scarcity mindset to a plenty mindset by following those tips [This list is non-exhaustive, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment box]

1. Hang out with the right type of people, i.e., people who see the glass half full.

2. Be grateful for what you have and don’t wallow in self-pity if you want a piece of the pie and there are no more slices, go and make your own pie.

3. Create win-win scenarios in your professional and personal life.

4. Train your mind to recognize the possibilities that are all around you.

Given the choice would you rather be a farmer or a nomad?

Before you decide to switch off on me and quit reading the rest of this article, there is a point to this question. Your answer will indicate whether you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset. In the early days of civilization, you had two groups of people: the farmers and the nomads.Young farmers were taught to use resources intelligently in order to create plenty of food. Young nomads were taught to take from a world of limited resources. The nomadic existence was based on a plunder model, placed on top of a clan model. The farmers’ model was based on creativity and collaboration.

Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset like the farmers? Photo by Nadya 1971 via freepik.com

The nomads lived in a very rigid structure. At the base was the family clan, in these small groups, there was a great deal of sharing and cooperative decisions making, but the important and final decisions would have been made by the senior, dominant, patriarchal male who had an enormous amount of clout on the rest of the clan. Clans tended to constantly compare themselves to other clans and opposed any change of status between them. The rigidity of these structures led to rivalry, conflicts, and hatred between clans that sometimes endured for centuries.

The farming society operated as a decentralized structure. These farming groups kept alive an old tradition to gather in much larger groups for a few weeks every year. At these gatherings, ceremonies would be conducted, and festivals held, to make marriage arrangements and trade goods. The farmers became prosperous, food was plenty, goods could be accumulated, large communities could be formed, specialist activity could be developed, and innovation could take place. Music appeared, written language, basic mathematics, and sciences developed. The creative capability of men and women could be exchanged within the various groups and they could inspire and teach each other.

The farmers were living happily and peacefully on their land, growing their crops, exchanging resources and ideas with their neighbors, and using their creativity to fill their days with arts, music, and newly acquired knowledge and connections. At some point, the nomads who were roaming around the country bumped into those farmers’ communities. They became jealous of the farmers’ prosperity and their wealth, which made them look like second-rate. So, they mounted numerous looting missions on those farmers. These attacks drove some of the farmers away, pushing them to pack their belongings and leave to find a more peaceful area to settle and start all over again.

The nomads realized that instead of looting the farmers and driving them away, they could instead steal a limited amount from the farmers, so as not to drive them away. Those nomadic groups sustained plunder at a level that was low enough for the productive farmers to accept their rulership and “protection” from other thugs. For the farmers, giving a fifth of his crops to a thug was less bad than facing death or going back to a traveling gardener lifestyle. This way the nomads could work the same ground for life, and this is how the first rulers were born – out of plundering!

The moral of the story: Having a scarcity mindset eats away your energy and mental capacity. Switch towards a plenty mindset. If there are not enough slices of the pie, make your own pie. And if you think that it is easier to steal from the baker instead of making your own, accept the fact that that will make you a thug.

You can find a more detailed analysis of this fascinating subject in Chapter 7 of my book, This Is Your Quest.

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

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Self-Help

Insignificant, Yet Important

Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it because you can’t know. You can’t ever really know the meaning of your life. And you don’t need to. Every life has meaning, whether it lasts one hundred years or one hundred seconds.”

Mahatma Gandhi.

This quote from Mahatma Gandhi is profound in many ways, it teaches us that the insignificant is important, and who we are and what we do have an impact on people around us and on the world at large; we have more influence than we think.

The insignificant is important because small choices + consistency + time = significant results.

Have you heard about the concept of compound effect? The compound effect is the strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. Darren Hardy wrote a whole book on this fascinating subject. Success is doing half dozen things really well, repeated five thousand times. Your life is a result of your moment-to-moment choices and the compound effect is the operating system that has been running your life whether you know it or not.

Compound Effect. Photo from Alfah via freepik.com

Small changes done consistently each day can add up to a big reward further down the line. The doubling penny example illustrates this point quite well. If I offer you $1 million dollars right now or a penny that would double in value each and every day for the next 30 days, which would you choose? Most people would jump at the opportunity to grab $1 million and make a run for it. However, if you spend a little time thinking it through, you would be better off choosing the second option. If you double a penny every day for the next 30 days, you will end up with $5.3 million dollars. Sure, you may be thinking nobody knows where I would be in the next 30 days, I may be dead, so might as well grab $1 million now. The chance is, you will be perfectly fine and alive in the next 30 days and if you opted for the second choice you would be sitting on $5.3 million dollars. Not insignificant!

The insignificant is important because no man is an island

Every life matters because we operate within a chain of existence where everything we do or don’t do affects our environment and the people we interact with. Every person you come in contact with is somehow impacted by your presence.

Today you wake up happy and in a good mood, ready to make the most of the day ahead of you. You go out of your building, cross path with a stranger, and decide to hold the door for that person to let him in the building; that gesture will likely trigger a positive reaction from that person who will smile back, say thank you, and wish you a pleasant day. Good manners go a long way and can create a positive ripple effect. So now we have two happy people out and about with a smile on their faces.

At the end of a stressful day in the office you come back home, you are tired and in a bad mood. You walk towards your building, cross paths with a stranger by the front door, and lash out at that person for being in your way. Your lack of civility will have a ripple effect on that person’s mood and you may have just ruined the rest of their evening. So now we have two unhappy people out and about with a grumpy expression on their faces. Those examples show that you have the power to make someone‘s day a great day or a shitty day.

Insignificant, Yet Important. Photo from Alfah via freepik.com

The majority of people go about their daily life without considering the impact their words or actions could have on someone else. Our impact on others is largely unconscious. We do things without considering the repercussions or even realizing that our actions and words matter. We dish out our opinions on social media without a second thought about the possible ripples effect that our comment may cause to someone. We wrongly believe that our words and/or actions don’t matter that much because who are we to think that we have the power to shape the world around us?

This belief is wrong. Each and every one of us has a great deal of power over our environment, there is no doubt that we can have a positive or a negative impact on this world through the choices we make every day. You do not need to be famous or wealthy or write a book to be influential. Assuming that you don’t live under a rock, you will be surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, random people you come in contact with all the time, and this in itself gives you some kind of influence.

Do not underestimate the impact you have on others. The impression you leave on this life and on others is your legacy, and this in itself is a big deal. Be intentional about the way you live your life, because that is your legacy.

“Please think about your legacy because you are writing it every day.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

It’s the little things that count. Way too often, we just stop. We stop trying, stop caring, stop moving. For sure accomplishing great deeds of valor is a worthwhile pursuit, but at the same time, we should not underestimate the power of doing small acts that are just and right, a touch of a hand, a smile, a kind word, and doing them over and over again, no matter what; those are the things that count. Insignificant, yet important!

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

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Self-Help

Why Being Confident Matters

Confidence is difficult to define because it is subjective, elusive, and hard to pin down; but you know it when you see it, and you know what it feels like to be around it. Being confident is an experience. We also know when we don’t feel it when we hide underneath a blanket of self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity. Confidence and lack of confidence are some of those rare qualities that are infectious. When you act confident you exude good positive vibes, people want to be around you, follow your lead, and be inspired by you. When you feel wary, insecure, and defeated people tend to stay away from you. Being confident matters a great deal. Please read on to find out why.

Why being confident matters?

Being confident matters a great deal because whether we like it or not being successful in our professional and personal life depends to a great extent on what we do and how we do it. On a professional level, what we do is a matter of technical skills, and how we do it is a function of confidence.

“Skill and confidence are an unconquered army.”

George Herbert
Why being confident matters. Photo from @raulmellado via freepik.com

Confidence should not be an end in and of itself, and it will never compensate for good old-fashioned hard work. Even the most confident people need to be confident about something, themselves, their work, their identities, and confidence divorced from content will fall apart sooner rather than later. Confidence isn’t just about style, it’s also about substance; the two are intimately connected.

Rule 1 of Jordan Peterson’s book “The 12 Rules for Life” is to stand up straight with your shoulders back.

“Attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them, at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.”

Jordan Peterson

Confidence manifests in a number of highly visible ways: our body language, vocal tonality, verbal cues. Confidence matters a great deal because it acts as a protective shield. Bullies and predators’ favorite types of victims are those who are weak, easy to conquer, and less likely to put up a fight. If you are walking in the street with your eyes on your feet and hunched around, you broadcast to the world your vulnerability; but on the other hand, if you stand up straight with your shoulders back, if you walk tall and stare forthrightly ahead you broadcast to the world that you are solid and ready to face whatever life is throwing at you.

Use your body language and your vocal tone like you mean business. Operate in a calm-assertive-mode with the ability to turn into fighting-mode if and when required.True confidence is a process, it is not constant. It comes and goes. It ebbs and flows. It takes a hit and has to recover. It’s always evolving during the course of our lives as we take on new situations, challenges, and goals. So, we have to keep working on it as we go along.

Be confident without trying to fake it

Why being confident matters. Photo from @raulmellado via freepik.com

One of the recipes for success promoted by many self-development gurus and authors is to fake it until you make it. Confidence is a quality that can be projected or faked. Deep insecurity can masquerade as confidence, politicians are experts in the art of faking it. Confidence can be hacked acquired and learned if you spend enough time practicing talking, acting, and looking a certain way.

The question is how long can you fake it? My take on this is that you can fake it for a little while until the entire act of faking confidence will become too exhausting, confusing, and alienating, as keeping up appearances becomes your primary objective. And here starts a vicious circle of faking it, being fearful of being found out and doubling down on the illusion.

Wouldn’t it be easier if instead of faking it you practice the real thing, by being more authentic, more grounded?

“True confidence is a feeling of self-assurance that is grounded in an authentic experience of our own ability, perspective and sufficiency. It is also a sense that we are enough, that we aren’t lacking in some fundamental sense that prevents us from navigating the world in a healthy, positive, and productive way. It is a quality we all inspire to have. With it we feel engaged, purposeful, inspired. Without it, we feel wary, defeated, fearful.”

Jordan Harbinger

A few tips to help you be more confident

  1. Stand up straight with shoulders back. Confidence is expressed most profoundly through our bodies. No matter how well we speak, the way we feel about ourselves will always manifest in our posture, our hand movements, and our facial features.
  2. Dress for success, for the job, and for the life you want. We have to remember that people’s first impressions are made when they see us, not when we first interact with them. This is why you should pay attention to your physical appearance. Wearing the right attire for the right occasion is important. Showing up at a job interview wearing garments that are inappropriate for the job on offer, will for sure not get you that job and will also knock down your confidence level a few notches. This rule doesn’t stop when you are at home, you can wear comfortable clothes, and still look fabulous, ready to have a fabulous day.
  3. Speak as you mean it. After body language, our voice is our most powerful tool to make a good impression. Vocal tonality, which includes not just the physical quality of our voice but also our pitch, articulation, syntax, volume, and intention, expresses and reinforces our innermost sense of self. And remember that our voice tonality could act as a protective shield, if you find yourself in a situation where someone is invading your personal space, taking liberties that make you feel uncomfortable, assert yourself through your words and voice tonality, put some boundaries and make it very clear that you are not to be messed with. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by someone who is taking too much liberty.
  4. Be authentic. Being authentic means being emotionally honest, clear about your experience of the world, and free of pretense. It means responding to every moment of life, the positive and the negative, in your own way, without faking it. True authenticity owns and acknowledges those less than pleasant experiences in our lives in a way that ultimately enhances our sense of self. In other words, we don’t become confident by never feeling insecure. Nobody feels positive, upbeat, and confident at every hour of the day. I got news for you; everybody is as lost as you are. If you respond authentically to your experiences (good or bad) and are able to share those experiences in the appropriate amount (too much self-pity will turn you into a victim – avoid this at all cost), in an appropriate way, in appropriate contexts, you are all set. If you do it right, those moments of vulnerability can turn into an asset and a strength.

Be confident without being arrogant

There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and it can be hard to distinguish between the two. Working to boost self-esteem is a good thing but taking it to excess can encourage arrogance and narcissism instead.Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance that comes from an appreciation of our abilities or qualities. Arrogance is characterized by having an exaggerated sense of our importance or abilities, and self-righteousness. Arrogance often masks an insecurity. Confidence on the other hand stems from true self-worth. Ultimately, arrogance repels us. I don’t know a lot of people who like to spend time with arrogant people. Confident people are the opposite: they inspire others. Never underestimate the power of being confident, it matters a great deal. And this, my dear friend, is your Quest!

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

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

Categories
Self-Help

Want an Adventure? Then Break Free From Your Comfort Zone

Want an adventure? Break free from your comfort zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone is an art, it requires practice, dedication and will power. Nobody likes being uncomfortable, but there is a certain consensus in the self-development arena, that you have to step outside your comfort zone in order to grow as a person.

 ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’

Neale Donald Walsch

This is a fascinating concept to explore; in this article I invite you to join me on this exploratory trip where we will get uncomfortable by stepping outside our comfort zone. But before we do that, let’s first familiarize ourselves with the concept. A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one size-fit-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned with is keeping you inside of it.

Your comfort zone is warm and cozy, but comfort kills

A lot of people will have a natural inclination for staying inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled,  first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped-up in their little cocoon, preferring staying warm and cozy.

The only problem with this is that even if you have a strong desire to stay warm and cozy forever and have no inclination to do more than is absolutely necessary, sometimes life doesn’t give you that choice. Say for example that you are perfectly happy doing your day to day job. You wake-up every morning feeling perfectly content to go to the office and do the tasks that you have been very comfortable doing for the past 15 years, surrounded by a pleasant boss and nice colleagues. At the end of the day you go home, cook dinner, relax in front of the TV with the family, before going to bed. You wake -up the next day and you do the whole thing again desperately waiting for the weekend to have some fun and some rest. You can’t get more comfortable than that. There is nothing wrong with this until one day you show up to work to find out that the office will be close next month because of some force majeure event, never to re-open. This is where your life starts feeling very uncomfortable, and before you know it you are in a total state of panic. That safety zone where you cocooned yourself for the past 15 years has just vanished with no warning.

Comfort Food – Photo by Viktor Taashuk on Unsplash

Feeling uncomfortable reading this? Fasten your seat belt, it is going to get more uncomfortable. I told you this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.  Now, let’s take a trip down Comfort-Food Lane. There is a reason why comfort food is called that. It makes you sloppy, it turns you into  a couch potato, a blob and it is totally addictive. Comfort food is enjoyable to eat and fills you with a sense of contentment in the moment, although it may not be very good for your health. So, your philosophy in life is that there is nothing wrong with affording yourself a little treat from time to time; you start with a treat here and there, and before you know it your treat is turning into a daily habit. Years later, your bad eating habit is causing you serious health concerns leading your doctor to put you on a strict diet where no treats are allowed. Now, you start feeling very uncomfortable, so much so that it makes you feel even sicker with worry.

“Nobody ever died of discomfort yet living in the name of comfort has killed many ideas, more opportunities, more actions and more growth than anything else combined. Comfort kills.”

T. Harv Eker

Be fearless, step outside your comfort zone

Fear is a valuable thing, it keeps people safe and encourages caution when caution is due, but fear can also be a limiting factor, because not everything you are afraid of should be really feared.  Statistics show that a vast majority of people work in a job that they don’t really enjoy but they stay there because it pays the bill. A lot of us have some secret ambition to develop our true passion into a lucrative business; but few people will take actuals steps to pursue their dream because of the fear of failure. My take on this, continue to work your day to day job and work on your dream as soon as you step foot outside the office.

If it works, then fantastic, you will be one of the few people who turned their dream into a reality. And if it doesn’t work, then you would have learned some additional skills that you can make good use of in your next venture, and those new skills may even help you do your normal job better. So, instead of spending hours going brain dead in front of the TV every day, step off your comfortable sofa and into your home office to work on your dream each and every day until it becomes a reality.

As soon as you step outside your comfort zone, you enter into the realm of personal development and greater achievement where you will learn how to stretch yourself, push your limits, discover your hidden potential and become the best version of yourself and doing more than you ever thought possible.

Feeling at home – Photo by Steven Feldman on Unsplash

Stepping outside your comfort zone will help you grow, but it is important that you do it properly; be mindful of not putting yourself in a situation where  you will push yourself to do something that falls way outside your comfort zone to the point of jeopardy. There is a fine line between being courageous and being stupid.

So, let’s take a comfortable walk with Professor Andy Molinski  who is a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University International Business School and the author of ‘Reach: A new strategy to help you step outside your comfort zone, rise to the challenge & build confidence’.

According to Molinksi there are 3 zones when it comes to comfort. The first one is the comfort zone, where you are in a familiar situation and you are experiencing very little anxiety. The second zone is the stretch zone, where you are experiencing some level of anxiety but at a point where you can turn it into motivation and good productivity level. The third zone is the panic zone where you are experiencing extreme level of anxiety and where you are feeling completely overwhelmed.

Molinski stresses that the optimal level of discomfort is in your stretch zone. It is important to understand that comfort zone is a subjective concept, and each individual has to understand their tolerance to discomfort.  Humans react to new situations differently, it is very possible that what one considers to be their stretch zone might be another’s panic zone. There are several factors that will help you determine your tolerance level, such as your values and interest, your personality and tolerance to stress. The key is to understand how you work. You need to know yourself. Having that kind of insight relies on a great deal of self-awareness and if you are unsure, the only way to find out is to experiment.

Want to change the world?

Does wanting to change the world make you step outside your comfort zone? Yes and No. To conclude this exploration trip, I would like to take you to China where we will follow in the footstep of a young Chinese man who was consumed with the desire to change the world.

The Man Who Wanted to Change the World

This is the story of an ambitious young Chinese man who on this 20th birthday became consumed with the desire to change the world. He spent the next 20 years trying to do that but couldn’t.

At age 40, he settled for trying to change China. He spent the next 20 years trying to do that but couldn’t.

At age 60, he settled for trying to change his village, and for the next 20 years, he tried to do just that, but failed.

At age 80, he decided to focus on changing this family, so he spent the next 20years trying to do that but couldn’t.

At age 100, he decided to focus on changing himself. After all these years, he came to realize that by changing himself first that would change his family, then his village, his province, impacting his country and ultimately changing the world. But the next day. He died.

Be the Change you want to see in the world

And this, my dear friend is your Quest.

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.