Learning Archives

creativity

Photo credit Jef Safi, available from Flickr.

 

Have you ever seen a woman whose wardrobe is full of clothes but she has nothing to wear?
Have you ever seen a child whose room is filled with toys but he doesn’t know what to play with?
Have you ever caught yourself in an endless analysis of all possibilities yet unable to make a single choice?

I bet you have.

Yet ….

The very same woman can survive a month with a suitcase of clothes only.
The very same child can be thrilled by playing with airplanes made from paper.
The very same you can make a choice when presented with two options only.

***

We live in the world full of junk. We are overcrowded with toys, tools, ideas, gadgets and possibilities. Yet, the more is possible, the less clear it becomes what is important. Too many things and too many ideas. All of them seemingly important, of course.

We are stuck, unable to move forward.

More is less, because more overwhelms. The huge amount of information, possibilities and choices, keeps us in a state of indecision. This is very much related to the process of rational decision making. The brain wants to take all the information into account. However, once you have more than 5-7 pieces of information to consider, your brain runs in vicious circles. The brain needs a simple criterion to optimize, but with the abundance of information, some partial or contrary, it becomes a mission in vain.

Unless you choose a path with a heart, you may get stuck in analysis paralysis for years.

***

When I was a kid we used to have a very few toys because they weren’t many available. At that time, we developed lots of both simple and sophisticated ways to play with everything that was at hand. A long piece of elastic, a few skipping ropes, pebbles, sticks, conkers or old tires could have provided us with endless fun.

I don’t remember being ever bored. Why? Because everything around was potentially an inspiration for a good play. The imagination was wild enough to make use of it.

It is exactly the limited resources that inspire us to be creative. It is the lack that helps us move forward. It is the shortage that encourages us to invent.

Creativity lies in reduction. Creativity lies in limitation. Creativity lies in subtraction.

Open your eyes to recognize it.

***

Look at your life. If you are in a position in which you feel inferior to others because of your scarce resources, blessed you be!

It is exactly your lack of money, your lack of experience or skills that is your blessing in disguise.

Perhaps you lack communicating skills or perhaps you have some physical handicap. Perhaps you struggle to meet your ends. Perhaps you don’t know how to make a transition to a new carrier.

Blessed you be! 

Find a way around it. Make use of what you have at hand and ignore all shortcomings, resistance and social pressure.

As a child, you can have a great fun by playing with elastics, running games or role playing. You don’t need the best gadgets in the world to become highly intelligent, earn good money or have a great life. Once your creativity is awaken, you will forever enjoy your learning and hacking solutions to life setbacks.

You can have a fulfilling carrier by amplifying your skills and finding ways around or through the shortfalls and deficiencies. Once you unleash imagination and feel the excitement of working through and despite of your paucity, you will slowly develop novel ways of using the skills you do have. And with time, you will not only develop new skills that lie dormant, but also find new resources. You will become strong, visionary and innovative.

If you thought you could achieve this or that once you had a better education, richer parents or just by being smarter, you could be very wrong. Once you got everything you needed, you would likely find yourself unmotivated. You would be uninspired to act because there would be no satisfaction in getting things the easy way.

The fun comes through the rough ride, not an easy and smooth wandering. The toughness and roughness of the path make you excited and alive.

It is exactly what you didn’t have that made you who you are today.

Open yourself to the inspiration that comes from limited possibilities or scarce resources. Welcome your creativity back.

Life is a development process. It is a thrilling journey. Make it creative.

Blessed you be!

 

 

self-respect2

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

 

Self-respect is the courage to be yourself in any circumstances. Independently of how others think of you. You can simply face the inconvenience of not fitting in.

Indeed, self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others. It has nothing to do with reputation, achievements or recognition, either. It is a moral trait of Self that Self can only cultivate.

***

Life is hugely a learning journey and it helps to see yourself as a process that develops along or with it. Self-respect originates from knowing and liking the Self that unfolds in this learning.

If you have self-respect you have a kind of toughness and a moral discipline. You know your intrinsic value not because it has been acclaimed loudly, but because you can put your life in perspective, even when your exploration leads through a dark valley.

You train yourself to be resilient in any circumstances. You have the guts to be the norm and you have the guts to be a deviation from it.  It is ingrained in your consciousness.

***

Our grandparents knew everything about self-respect. They were raised in discipline that required them to do things they did not necessarily like or want to do. Things had to be done with diligence and obedience. And they were.

Doubts had to be kept away. Adversity was a daily encounter. There was a purpose of goals higher than their Selves.

***

Hardships shape character. Adversity makes us awake and active. It calls us to invent novel solutions.

Trials test patience and elicit talents which could have remained undiscovered, otherwise. They mold, groom and prune the sense of intrinsic worth, so much related to self-respect.

Learning to live a life of discipline and a delayed gratification is a way to build your self-respect. You are able to make a sacrifice of the immediate comforts for the sake of  higher goals or possible (yet unsure) future rewards. By doing this repetitively, you learn to discriminate between what is important and what is spurious.

People with self respect make mistakes and face the consequences of their decisions. Without self pity or complaining. They can even live and die unappreciated and disregarded, knowing that for themselves they reached for the highest goal.

***

If you have your self-respect, you have everything. The ability to discriminate, to love in freedom, without putting chains of dependency on others, and to remain indifferent, if necessary.

If you lack in self-respect, you are locked inside yourself, unsure of your decisions and moves, incapable of true partnerships. In the extreme case, you are merely doing things to please others, unable to set borders and limits. In search for approval, yet so empty inside.

***

Luckily …

Self-respect is a habit of mind, which can be developed and exercised. It starts from self retrospection, finding a place of reconciliation within. This is your haven, a place of authentic appreciation.

***

If there is one thing you can change it is daring to be yourself without the need of approval.

Step by step take responsibility for your life. Your thoughts, words and disciplined actions.

Enjoy spending time with yourself only. Appreciate your own presence. Observe your thoughts.

Become consciously grateful for your life.

And …

Stop being bothered by the opinions or comments of others. It is their view.
Stop looking at others for approval. No external prize will fully satisfy you.
Stop feeling intimidated by authority.  They are there to your service.

Stand up. Do ask questions to learn.
Accept errors and mistakes on your journey.
Be strong.

Above all …

Enjoy your journey.

***

In a society where many teenagers and adults lack the meaning of life, self respect has been vanishing too. Perhaps it is high time to discipline our minds to do things which we don’t particularly like to do. So that we can gain a perspective on whom we are becoming.

 

pomegranate

Photo credit Chany Crystal, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

 

“Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.”
John Bytheway

That’s a great wisdom, indeed. A cinch means an easy task, something natural such as a child’s play.

Taking small steps

When we focus on life as a whole, we can’t master it. When we focus on a big problem head on, we are overpowered to face it. When we focus on an important life decision, we get stuck.

Future apprehends.
Size overwhelms.
Analysis becomes paralysis.

Yet … when we approach problems and decisions by taking small steps, the solutions are being slowly created. Or revealed.

***

Have you ever eaten a pomegranate? It is a fruit with an interesting structure. Some nations consider it as a symbol of prosperity and fertility. It makes me think, indeed.

A pomegranate has a hard exterior and an interesting inner side. The dark red seeds are fully hidden inside. They are embraced by a yellowish, rough skin. The seeds live in small compartments, as if in their tiny “rooms”. It is a beautiful organization.

The seeds are sweet and juicy, but the skin is very bitter. If you happen to take a bite of a pomegranate, you will get shocked ;). The bitterness of the skin dominates the taste. The roughness makes it impossible to chew. It is a totally unpleasant experience, to say at least.

On the other hand, if you choose to eat pomegranate one seed at a time, you will experience joy. Not only will you cherish the process of removing seeds from the rooms one by one, but you will be rewarded with delicacy and sweetness. Eating pomegranate this way is a calming and meditative act.

A metaphor

Pomegranates make a great metaphor for your life.

First, everything (substantial in life) is a process.

You don’t wake up with a new skill fully born in you. Even if the foundation is there, it takes you months or years to master it.
You don’t recover from a loss overnight. It becomes a healing process in which you live your life day by day until you renew your Inner Self and overcome the sadness.
You don’t educate your children in one go. It becomes a journey of growth, in which you are challenged to walk your talk.

Secondly, when you focus on small steps in the now, you move forward with breeze.

If you face a huge problem now, don’t attempt to solve it in its complexity. Concentrate on the solution of today’s part. That’s it. And, you are further on towards the solution of the whole problem.

If you consider all your problems, then life may seem too difficult to handle. If you have a dissatisfying job, insufficient money, personal problems, unhappy relations, kids to grow, serious health issues, chores, duties and responsibilities, life can become unbearable, indeed.

But …

You don’t have to deal with all the problems of life, do you?

If only can you deal with the problems of this day. If only can you withstand the pain of this moment. If only can you take this hard decision now, to move forward. If only can you focus on your tasks today.

Your Inner Power is there, inside. It has always been there. Ready to serve.

If only can you give. Attention. Listening Ear. Love.

Things will move forward.

Inch by inch

As for a pomegranate, cherish the seeds of life, one at a time. Neglect the rough skin of negative thoughts, nay-sayers or circumstances. Just appreciate the seeds of the moment. For beauty. For sharpness. For pain. And for being alive.

Take them by an inch. Soon, your pomegranate is happily digested 🙂

***

Live by an inch, make life a cinch!

 

“Life is a lot like Jazz… it’s best when you improvise.” George Gershwin

6924445131_4fbe8457df_z
Photo courtesy, Hailey E. Herrera, available on Flickr, under Creative Commons.

 

There comes a moment when you begin to grasp how to live your life. Maybe it is not so prevalent all the time, but you have got a glimpse.

You know.

You are present in the moment, totally aware of it and absorbed by it. You are in the unity of what is and what is going to be. This is the feeling of flow. There is the expression. And there is the sensation of an inner sound.

Your own voice.
Your own rhythm.
Your own music.

It dwells in you waiting to let it be free.

***

As a small girl I fell in love with rock music. It was easy, indeed. And the times of change made it all possible.

On the other hand, it took me years to appreciate jazz. This love was slowly born out of curiosity and built through experience.

The experience was not always easy. I remember a time when I sneaked out from a jazz performance on a big Jazz Festival, because the music was totally and utterly disturbing. It was horrible, to say at least. I couldn’t stomach it, so I had to escape. 

The music was totally awkward, impossible to listen to, blowing not only my mind but shattering my body, too. The main guy, the conductor, seemed in trance. He led the musicians to create sounds that were not only disharmonious to my ears, but making my body shake with disgust. Yet, to my shock, many people in the audience seemed to enjoy it. It was a perplexing experience.

But there were many good ones, such as listening to JazzyFatnastees.

***

It takes time to appreciate jazz, while rock music seems easily lovable.

The foundation of rock is security. There is the beat, the cyclical rhythm and the assurance. You know what is going to happen next. This feature has an attractive pull to the masses because rock offers stability. One can easily identify with the music to express the bottling emotions.

Rock music offers grounding. To hear it, listen to the piece below:

The foundation of jazz is uncertainty. This uncertainty permeates the music in all levels and forms.It creates tension. There is the surprise, the unknown behind the horizon and the unexpected. This feature is attractive only to the ones who are eager to wonder and wander. One can identify with the music when one is ready for an opening.

Jazz music offers exploration. To hear it, listen to the piece below:

Many can play and sing rock music but only some can play jazz.

Jazz is good when a musician who plays it, does with courage. He must flow with the music, so that at some point music is not being created any longer, but it is creating itself. Music is an elemental force, which searches expression. Jazz rides on exploration into the unknown.

***

Follow your own rhythm. Listen to your own music. Sing it.

If you can’t find it, start listening to jazz. It will lead you into exploration and encourage you to take a path of genuine curiosity. Listen to the piece of Możdzer, Danielson and Fresco:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC5XhqUgY38

If you listen to jazz long enough, you will get comfortable in dealing with uncertainty. Even more, you will become curious and interested in all aspects of life. Once you welcome the unsettling, the unknown and the unpredicted, you will begin to appreciate the life for its richness of experience.

If you listen to jazz long enough, you will begin to realize that everything is interconnected. Any false tune, any off-sound or any lie will distort the whole piece. If you deceive in one area of life, it is going to permeate all your being. Your song is distorted.

If you listen to jazz long enough, you will be invited to play with uncertainty, summon your courage and become creative. You will learn to express your authentic self. You will learn to joyfully improvise.

Immerse in life. Feel it. Love it. Indulge in it.

Jazz in you searches an expression in the world.

 

“Jazz is one of the best things that you can find in your life, it can always be your friend.”  George Gershwin

 

principles of focus

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available on Flickr, under Creative Commons.

There are simple principles of Focus. Perhaps, I have heard of them, or perhaps I have re-invented them. They are in my head now.

The principles of Focus

1. Focus on what you want to create, not on what you want to avoid.

2. Focus on what brings the most value to your life, work or business, instead of keeping busy.

3. Focus on tasks in chunks of uninterrupted time, such as minimum of 90-120min.

4. Focus on what will produce the most value now and in the future, not in the past.

Helpful questions

Whom do you want to become? What do you want to achieve?

What is the cornerstone, the single most essential activity, skill or task to concentrate on such that when it’s done, it will sky-rocket your improvement and progress? (hint: Look at the Parkinson law)

How can you guarantee the sacredness of focus? How can you organize your day so that you guard your time?

How can you summon courage in order to move outside your comfort zone? How can you work on the needed change or a change of direction?

How can you create a ritual to encourage your focus flow?

***

Focus is your personal power. Immerse in it.

 

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