patience

This post is dedicated to myself, from a wise Ela to a down-to-earth one.

Patience

Our life experience is rich. Our days are intense. With the amazing speed of technology we have slowly been loosing a sense of gradual development. We become witnesses to high progress jumps and we forget the slow pace.

Our personal development doesn’t match the technological one. And with the ever present push for newer, faster and better solutions we have lost the virtue of patience.

Not surprisingly the words “patient” and “patience” are related. Patients need to be patient. Diseases, health issues and accidents teach us to appreciate slow progress, no progress or even regress.

The most difficult part of being patient is when dealing with ourselves and other people. This is a skill necessary for life.

Ourselves

Patience is a virtue, moral excellence to be kind and respectful to yourself and others. It has a tremendous impact on personal growth.

When it comes to physical changes, we understand that patience is necessary.  We don’t expect to have a new house built in a week, a profitable business set overnight,
or a child speak after they are born. We know there is a slow progress to be expected.

Personal growth requires tremendous patience. It doesn’t necessarily take years, although it may, of course. What is more important is that the attachment to outcomes is misleading. Personal growth requires work, conscious acts and adaptations when we carefully observe how things develop. Although it is often slow, it does eventually work.

The time is needed because there are many interconnected factors that need to change together, such as limiting beliefs, behavior, environment, values, relations and so on. Any small change in one area may cause a cascade of changes to happen in the other ones.

We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, especially when we start a new project or work on a new skill. However, we badly underestimate what we can accomplish in five years. Check it out for yourself!

How happy are you with the progress this year?
It is possible that the progress is much slower than you anticipated.

What did you expect to have had achieved by now while you look from the perspective of five years ago?
It is possible you have moved mountains in some areas that you have not even expected.

As difficult as it may sound to accept it – it is OK if a change takes five years. It may be slow but the time is there to pass anyway. We may consciously choose to have a life of a better quality in five year time than the one  have now. It is about the appreciation of the delayed reward.

And then there might be times when there is no progress, or even a regress it feels. It is OK too. Be patient. Wait. You may sometimes lack the skills, understanding or knowledge for the challenge or situation you have at hand. It will ultimately improve when you gain the right perspective or skills.

Other people

When people become upset or irritated easily, they may call you names or speak in non-respectful ways. Bitter words are being said that hurt deeply. Some are sharp as
blades and may leave open wounds for years.

When people have strong opinions they may stay blind to other points of view,  and judge you badly on the spot, especially when a conflict arises.

When people are overworked, stressed or overtired, they become vulnerable. A simple act that goes against their expectations may cause an emotional outburst and blames.

When people are ill or suffer from dementia, they become difficult to their care takers. Harmful things are being said and deeds done, yet we need to remember that this is not the person we used to know but the illness acting in the moment.

There is a huge cost to impatience and, on the contrary, patience leaves us free.

When you react immediately on the flow of emotions you may easily end up blaming others or doing harmful deeds. It is usually difficult to work out a compromise or a good relation again if the conflict has run out of hands.

It is a good idea to be careful with what we say and how we say as words have a tremendous impact. If you feel that you may burst out – it is best to call for a stop and communicate it to the other party. If you are upset, it is best to sleep things over, a few nights or even weeks, and take a few iterations in your thoughts  or writing before you speak out.

And this is where patience come in. It makes us wait to choose the proper words that express our concerns yet are respectful to the other person. In my personal experience, it takes between 3 and 7 iterations before I can say things without the blame or other unnecessary emotions. Patience and kindness are related.

Cost of impatience

There is a bigger cost of impatience than the one described above. People tend to make wrong deeds or commit crimes because, at the bottom, they lack patience in their lives. They are in favor of instant gratification and they miss the virtue of patience. They want something and they want it now. Action on such an impulse is based on the emotional-cognitive brain, while waiting or working towards a solution requires conscious thoughts and actions.

Such people go and steal, because they can’t wait to save the money while working at a job. It is just too slow.

They go and kill somebody because they want their possessions now or they don’t know how to solve a conflict with the person involved.

They beat up their pears because these pears just called them names. There was no way to stop the overwhelm of emotions.

Patience is however a skill that can be learned since childhood. If you have a child and always give him a toy/pleasure he wants, you certainly strengthen his expectations to instant gratification. It is a good idea not to do it often and introduce challenges that involve a delayed reward. Read also about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment to find out how important it is.

Finally

When as a young person you feel impatient with your parents because they want to know what you’re doing or where you have been, it is not because they want to be mean, but because they care.

If you feel impatient with your kids because they misbehave, it’s not because they are nasty, but because it is their natural inclination to test the boundaries and challenge authorities. They will learn from it.

If you feel impatient with your colleagues, because they have changed the agreement, are blind to the “obvious truth” or blame you for (non-)doing things, it is not because they are arrogant and disrespectful. Perhaps, it is so, because that are unable to think with you or see a bigger perspective at the moment.

If you feel impatient with your husband/wife, friends or  family members because they seem to make stupid mistakes or stick to their limited point of view, it is not because they are against you on purpose. Perhaps, it is so, because they have underlying fears and concerns that need to be addressed first.

The cost of impatience is big. You don’t need to pay it if you just pause and think of the alternative.

***

Photo courtesy Aussiegall, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

more with less 

The mantra “be more with less” or “less is more” resonates perfectly with the idea of conscious living.

Not surprisingly, it has become one of the two challenges I work on this year. It is a huge challenge for me as my natural inclination is to elaborate, which usually mean to do more than less.

Over the years it has become clear to me that practising “less”: owning less, doing less and becoming less, is a necessary pursuit on the path of personal growth. “Less” coincides with the ability to choose. Consciously.

In this post I present three cases where less is more important than more.

Stuff

I grew up with the idea that “more is better”. I used to imagine how easy was the life of rich people, who were living happily with the abundance of goods. Yet, I knew that there was a limit to such happiness. As a child I was touched by a Greek myth about the king Midas. He was supposed to be a happy man – able to turn everything into gold just by touching. It seemed perfect in a while until his beloved one turned into a gold statue as well. Clearly, it was too much.

Even with this story in my mind, I still imagined the life was easy for wealthy people. Many years forward and I now understand how (too much) goods and stuff become limitation instead of liberation. The overwhelming stuff stops being enjoyable. Moreover, it becomes a hindrance for development.

A huge house surrounded by a large garden and a few cars may sound great but there is a hidden price to it. You need to take care of your large possessions. If you don’t do the daily/weekly/monthly maintenance, cleaning and repairs yourself, somebody else has to do it. And such services need to be supervised as well.

As a stuff collector, you need both space and place for your valuable clothes, shoes, toys, books, computers. technological gadgets, videos and other things. Stuff multiplies fast and needs extra maintenance.

Basically, more stuff means less of your precious time. This is the time you could spend in nature, relaxing, exercising, reading, learning or enjoying activities with your family or friends. Or whatever else you would choose.

More stuff = work + headaches
Less stuff  = breathing space + expanding mental space + creativity

Take the challenge.

I am not a minimalist and I don’t aspire to be one. But the overwhelming stuff makes me learn to say “no” before the new stuff arrives. Learn it too.

A good challenge is to get rid of 20% of your stuff: clothes, shoes, books, old gadgets and equipment, furniture and so on. You can denote these to a charity, sell on Ebay, give away or recycle. Possibilities are plenty.

An even greater challenge is to get rid of 50% of your stuff. You can perfectly live on less.

If you are nostalgic about your stuff because it holds precious memories, I have a great solution. Photograph your stuff, one by one and store the photos on a hard disc. Hold a picture of every thing in your mind, thank for the precious memories and set them free. Let the stuff start a new cycle of life.

Ideas

One of the breakthrough in my life concerned ideas. I used to think that great ideas were special and belonged to a few chosen ones. With time and experience I’ve understood it was not true.

Generating ideas is relatively easy. You can observe it in any brainstorming session. Ideas are simply shared and belong to the Common Space. We may paraphrase Plato to say that the ideas live in the Cave of Shadows and we simply discover them. Alternatively, we may say that ideas are inspired from God so they come from a single Source.

Yet, we often think that a particular idea is ours. It is both true and false. The idea is ours in the sense that it is proposed through us, but it is also not ours because it is not totally exclusive to us. Oftentimes the same or very similar idea it being proposed, discussed or executed by other individuals at the same time. This is particularly noticeable in science, but I’m sure that you can recognise this phenomenon in your daily life as well.

The consequence is this observation is far fetching. We merely discover ideas (and perhaps share them with others) but we don’t own them.

Such a concept is is a hard pill to swallow for some. They will guard their best ideas, tricks and practices with life. They want to keep the ideas confidential, hidden or patented as it is a common practice of some companies or corporations.

The point is this. There is abundance of ideas, thoughts, concepts and books, easily available. Just look over the internet and you will find a plethora of ideas. Free. How many of them have you executed?

The simplest ideas are often neglected or discarded, because they are either old or known. Nothing exciting in them. Alternatively, ideas are neglected because they require focus and discipline.

Isn’t that interesting that successful professionals thrive on simple ideas, perfected over time? Think medical doctors, engineers or researchers who constantly improve their solutions.

Isn’t  that interesting that the most successful brands describe narrow niches (=ideas)? Think Coke, SunwarriorBlendTec, Lexus, and so on.

Isn’t that interesting that successful companies offer either a limited choice of products or a limited and specific service? Think AppleEvernote37signals or FedEx. 

More ideas = confusion + procrastination + difficult choice
Less ideas  =  clarity + execution

Guard yourself from the flood of ideas. The more ideas around, the bigger the overwhelm and the harder the decision which one to execute. You may easily spend ages trying to find the best idea.

The truth is this: the best idea is the one which is implemented.Why? Because a direct experience will teach you much more than any thinking or reading.

Take the challenge. Limit the number of ideas to consider for any decision taking. Choose the most appealing one and execute it with devotion.

Time

We often think of time as if it was our resource. Yet, we can neither buy time nor generate it on request. Time is limited, yet we often live in an illusion that we have still plenty of time to do many things. This makes us careless with respect to how we trade our time (and effort) for money (call it job or business), or how we let the time pass.

When we look at people who suddenly discover that they may live one more year at most because of a terminal illness, we will often observe the following. After the initial shock, disagreement and rebellion, there comes a moment in which the person accepts his/her fate. There is nothing more to loose but everything to gain.

The time limitation sets the person free. He/she can now take actions and decisions which were perhaps postponed until some day in the future. Such people often spend their last months of life in the most active ways, renewing relations, repairing mistakes and following passion. Some become healed and continue such a practice for years.

Time is limited. If you knew you would die in a year, how would such a perspective have changed your life? Which decisions would you take today? Which job would you commit to? Which experiences would you choose? Which discoveries would you make?

While such a perspective may seem as too far fetched for some, think about time in a different way.

Your time is precious. There is no other today as this day. When this day is gone it will never return again. The challenge is to be the one you want to be and to do the important things.

When you give yourself less time for specific tasks and challenges, you will force yourself to become more creative in order to meet the time constraints. It may not work perfectly the first time, but you will become more resourceful when you use this strategy on daily basis.

More time = indecision + procrastination
Less time  = action + creativity + resourcefulness

Take the challenge.

  1. Every day determine your most important (one to three) tasks for the day, tasks which contribute to the growth and well being of yours or your family/friends. Commit to them with 100% effort. They really need to be done!  
  2. Use the Pareto rule and Parkinson’s law to do the most important things in less time.
 
 How can you become more with less? It is only through a conscious choice and dedication.
 
***
Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.
 
*** 

“It is an old ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.” 
Rollo May

Paraphrazing the quote above, we run faster or attempt to do more when we are lost, overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.

Turning back, being still or letting go may be the hardest things under the sun because they require trust.

Instead of stopping what we have been doing so far, we often prefer to act even more. Taking action and handling urgent tasks leaves us with a tangible feeling that something is being done. We feel as if we are moving towards a solution.

The higher the level of busyness, the faster we seemingly move. 

What if we are moving in a wrong direction?

***

I’ve been busy, oftentimes too busy, most of my adult life. If this busyness had been directly related to the results I would have moved mountains by my achievements. I didn’t, however. I curved shapes in a few rocks, instead. 

There are two strong reasons behind it. First, I grew up believing that only hard work for long hours would produce results. I have spent countless hours working very hard. I believed these were necessary for success, even though many hours were unproductive. In fact, I could have better used them for rest to maintain balance

Secondly, I’m a polymath i.e. a person who has too many interests to selectively focus on a few only. I want to be an expert in multiple unrelated fields, but not necessarily the top 1%. Top 5% sounds good enough 😉 

Understanding. It took me years to understand the following. Hard work is essential for success. It is hard work, but not arbitrary hard work. It is hard work of a certain kind and quality, in agreement with the principle of rhythm. This means that rest, thinking time and playful creativity are as important as intensive work is. 

Being busy the right way

I believe a structured busyness is healthy for us. What I mean is a daily structure in which you work on your goals, projects, products or ideas. Following your vision.

Any meaningful achievement requires dedication and effort, which is work. At the same time, any meaningful achievement consists of multiple small steps and some “a-ha moments”. Such insights only arise when there is sufficient space and stillness in which the creative process is able to unfold on its own.

Being still or playful is a necessary ingredient of the structured busyness. Knowing how to follow the rhythm of work and rest is an indispensable skill to master. It is the key to success.

The danger comes from overwork and being too busy all the time. This means an endless to-do list and flood of tasks, projects, ideas, and work to handle. Such an approach is especially draining on the mental level. Over-busyness and hard work all the time is counter-productive and often leads to permanent stress, burnout or an illness. I guess we all know that. 

What lies beneath continuous busyness

I see three factors behind overwork and busyness.

The first factor is rooted in either an inaccurate self-image or/and self-esteem, or fear. The fear may be of various kind but it is usually a fear of rejection, loneliness or failure. This manifests as the inability of saying “no”, when we want to please everybody and be friends with everybody. We are afraid that people may stop liking us with all the consequences of this.  

On the other hand, the same factor may manifest as having too high standards for deliverables, which is related to perfectionism and feelings of obligation. We believe we have to be spotless and expect the same from others. In both cases, the inability of saying “no” or perfectionism lead to more tasks and responsibilities than it is possible to handle. 

Partial solution: Accept yourself and value yourself.  Learn to simplify and say “no”. It is a laser focus that delivers results.

The second factor behind busyness is ineffective work. Busy people are usually quite efficient, but not effective. Remember that efficiency means doing things right, which is about doing particular tasks well. Effectiveness means doing the right things i.e. things that matter in the context of our job, goal, task or purpose etc. 

Example. Imagine you receive 100 emails daily on average. To handle this you have perfectly optimized your inbox structure. Your inbox structure is complex to allow for all type of messages and actions to be taken. While this may be a great solution, it is hugely inefficient. Assuming that it takes you 2min per email, we arrive at more than 3h of handling emails daily – time that could have been spent better otherwise. 

In this context an effective approach is to first eliminate your incoming email perhaps by developing detailed FAQs on your products or discouraging clients from contacting you unless truly necessary. The next step is to have a simple system for inboxing and automation as much as possible. This should ideally cut your emails to 20 or less per day.

Partial solution: Pay attention and become aware. Ask questions on how repetitive tasks can be simplified and automated. Look for ways to improve the given process.

The third factor behind busyness is a defence or resistance to face the challenge that matters and, oftentimes awaits us anyway.

By keeping ourselves too busy we leave no time for thinking, questions and introspection. Overwork is an excuse to postpone an important decision taking because we may not like the consequences. By buying busy we avoid a challenge ahead in a false hope that this challenge will vanish or be solved somehow. Busyness often masks for lack of trust.

Partial solution: Create trust. Gather your courage and face the truth. There is no growth if you try to escape the challenge in your face.

***

The partial solutions above address some important points, but they do not expand beyond busyness. The growth beyond busyness relies on deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice

We need the long hours for developing expertise, estimated by some as much as 10 000 hours (see Gladwell’s book Outliers). It is however not the hours alone that reach the conclusion. Expertise requires much more than hours. With the hours alone we are destined to mediocre at best.

What we need are the hours dedicated to pushing through and outside our comfort zone, i.e. handling challenges and tasks we don’t know yet or are not comfortable with. It becomes a deliberate practice. And there are only few who would follow this path.

Why?

Because this path requires discipline to endure pain of uncomfortable tasks or uneasy experiences beyond what is known. This is necessary to train the mental and physical muscles as well as myelin towards a development of new skills and deeper foundations.

While developing a skill you need to deliberately choose challenges of an increasing difficulty within the field or in the neighboring fields. What is however interesting is that such laser focus and uncomfortable action is needed for relatively short times, say hours a day instead of the whole days. Such days become highly disciplined in which intensive yet uncomfortable practices are structured at specific times.

Committing to such a training is a path of personal growth. See this article for more details. 

Example. Let’s say you need to develop your presentation skills because you will be giving talks on conferences. You start by preparing your slides and then training your talk. In the beginning, people often write it down and memorize sentence by sentence, or train by repeating the whole talk endlessly to make it sound smooth. While this is a good strategy for newbies, when you need to handle your fear of public speaking, it is an ineffective strategy when you have already spoken a few times. 

You need to practise, but rehearsing a complete talk multiple times is counterproductive. The challenge is to focus on the difficult pieces only and leave some space for the story to emerge.

The next step is to consequently increase the difficulty from an event to an event. This may be training your voice in smooth talking, only a light preparation beforehand and improvization at the spot, introducing an interesting side story, making a joke that fits, becoming interactive with the audience, and so on.

Strengthening your myelin

In the book the Talent code, Coyle develops further the ideas presented by Gladwell. The book gives arguments why talents are merely grown through a hard work and practice. Coyle points out to the role and workings of myelin.

If we see a human movement or thought as an electrical impulse travelling through a circuit of neurons, then myelin is the insulation which wraps around these fibres and increases their signal strength. Coyle says “The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become”.

In short, the book postulates three necessary ingredients behind any talent or expertise. First, you start with a burning desire to become great at something. Secondly, you follow great mentoring or find good teachers. Finally, you need a”deep practice”, a deep focus of doing the thing you are working on and constantly improving it. The goal of the practice is to strengthen the myelin strand coatings in the brain in order to strengthen brain connections made during practice.

The conclusion of the book is that passion and persistence are the key ingredients of talent and success. Why? “Because wrapping myelin around a big circuit requires immense energy and time. If you don’t love it, you’ll never work hard enough to be great.”

Pareto principle and Parkinson’s law

Now we know that practice is necessary for success. Such a deliberate practice relies on tools, techniques and systems. In my opinion, it has to incorporate two rules, one by Pareto and the other by Parkinson.

Pareto rule (80/20): 80% of the results are achieved through the 20% of effort.

Of course the proportion is approximate, but it gives you an idea. This rule reminds us that the majority of time is spent on the details while the essential things (80%) can be achieved with minor focus. This principle challenges us to produce results instead of producing them perfectly.

Example. You can easily observe this in real life. E.g. you can easily create the whole article in the 20% of the total time , the remaining 80% is spent on getting all the details right, rewriting, editing, grammar checks and formatting. These are often endless repetitions.

Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
If you have only one task to be done in a day, say, writing and posting a letter, it can easily take the whole day. As a result if you reduce the time given for the completion of the practice, you will force yourself to use the time well.

Applying the two rules. The challenge is to give ourselves limits and deadlines and stick to them so that we are forced to cut unessential, eliminate distractions and arrive at innovative solutions to meet the time constraints. 

Finally

What’s the point of this article? 

Except for the obvious side effects, overwork and/or busyness kill creativity. Creativity unfolds in undisturbed time and space, when mind becomes explorative and playful.

Introduce a structured approach to your busyness which incorporates silence and empty space. Limit the time for the tasks and you will become more resourceful. You will be able to focus on the essential things and master them to perfection.

You need this step. For breath. For being. For your own presence and joy.

***

 The coaching questions about busyness

If you want a change, start by becoming aware. Explore the questions below and learn more about yourself. 

  • What do you avoid facing by keeping yourself permanently busy? What is the challenge beneath that you need to face?

Perhaps you need to communicate to your family or supervisors that your plate is too full.
Perhaps you need to organize a helping hand or a system to simplify the tasks.
Perhaps you are not happy at your job and need to  choose a new direction of your growth.
Perhaps your marriage is at risk and you need to learn new ways of communication.

Change is inevitable and the only way to go through a change is to manage change.

  • What do you loose when you are so busy?

It is important to realize what your price is. Do you have time for rest, thinking, exercise, reading books and learning new things?

  • What would you be doing if you were not that busy?

Perhaps the key point is here. Work is an important aspect of our lives. It nourishes when we can express ourselves and become creators, be it on the level of product development, programming, team management or organization structures. However, sometimes works takes everything there is in life. And then you begin to dread your free hours as you simply don’t know what to do.

Maybe it is the time to go out, find new hobbies, start volunteering or seeing others.

  • How can you become less busy and more successful?

The combined Pareto rule and Parkinson’s law are helpful here.

***

Alternatively, you can ask the questions below exploring your towards and away motivation as well as hidden aspects.

  1. What would happen if I continued to stay permanently busy?
  2. What wouldn’t happen if I continued to stay permanently busy?
  3. What would happen if I stopped being busy?
  4. What wouldn’t happen if I stopped being busy?

***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on www.ingeduin.nl.

 

 

 

Wealth creation

Photo courtesy Jan available on Flickr.

Getting rich or wealthy is a dream of many.
You would like that too, wouldn’t you?

Let us begin with the four pillars of wealth creation.

According to a dictionary, wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions. Interestingly enough, we often think of wealth in terms of accumulated money or possessions. We forget that wealth is so much more than money.

In short,

Wealth creation is about habits, practices and systems that provide you with the abundance of resources. Of various kinds.

This can only be achieved and maintained through conscious thinking and actions.

Rich vs wealthy

Let me first clarify the difference I perceive between “rich” and “wealthy”. Even though they may be considered as synonyms, their meanings are different in the practical use of the English language.

Richness is about a series of events in which we earn money or receive money. We may think of a well-paid job (but not necessarily secure), investments, inherited money or lottery wins. When we hear “rich”, we think of “being rich” or, more frequently, we think of “getting rich”. Ideally, fast 😉 The later expression describes external events that help us to earn or receive money, or collect valuable resources.

Wealth is about a process in which we create and deliver value, maintain the resources we have and accumulate new ones. When we hear “wealth” we think of “creating wealth” or “maintaining wealth” which are about long term approaches that involve a personal change.

In my opinion, “rich” is to “wealthy” as external circumstances that force you or help you to grow are to a self-inspired personal transformation. The difference lies in the details: the level of consciousness, value creation, independent thinking, self-discipline and the set-up of right systems.

Wealth creation

We are now at the core message here. There are four pillars of wealth creation. These are:
– Health
– Education
– Relationships
– Assets

Your health is your wealth

As you know it is hard to fully enjoy life when health is poor.  There are multiple limitations you will need to deal with, including low energy levels, possibilities for taking action and perhaps even the level of independence. Surely, you can achieve great things in any situation, but only when you take sufficient care of yourself first. When your health is compromised, you will spend lots of effort, time, money and energy to get yourself back on track.

Choose to become responsible for your health now. It may take some time before you get well, perhaps even years, but it is worth it. Even if you cannot become perfectly healthy, you can still create habits that support you in the optimal functioning on daily basis. Decide to take health as a life-time project and you will discover what serves you and what depletes you. In addition, you will learn to optimize both (maximize the former and minimize the latter).

Improvements will not likely happen overnight but they will come if you persist. Educate yourself on eating well, healing with whole foods, exercise, release of emotions (such as grudges, disappointments or anger), life in kindness and gratitude, meditation, prayer and rest. It is simpler than it sounds.

The challenge is that nobody can tell you what is right for you. There are theories, practices and guidance available. But there is a lot of confusion even with respect to the basic things: how to eat well or how to exercise well.

For any diet or recommendation you will easily find a diet with the opposite ones. E.g. raw food diet vs all-cooked diet, high-protein diet vs low-protein diet, eating small meals frequently vs fast-5 diet (eating only within five consecutive hours and fasting the remaining 19h – imagine that!), whole-grain based diet vs no-grain diet.

Obviously, the same holds for the exercising plan.

Finding meaning in chaos

How can you find out what makes sense?

I think that the first step is to learn about yourself. It can only happen through self-reflection and paying attention how particular food (or exercise) effects you during a day. Example questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you usually warm or cold? (too warm? too cold?)

If you are too warm you may need to eat more raw vegetables. If you are too cold, you may need to eat more cooked and spicy food.

  • What is your tendency under stress: anxiety or depression?

Anxiety is about confusion and expansion so you may need to eat food that encourages contraction such as naturally salty food (e.g fish) or drink herbal teas such as peppermint tea. Depression is about contraction, so you may need to eat food that nourishes and support expansion such as sweet root vegetables (carrot, parsnip, swede, sweet potatoes, pepper), lamb, lettuce or drink liquorice tea.

  • How do you feel satisfied after a protein-rich meal? Energetic or sleepy? Hungry soon after or heavy stomach? How do you feel after a carb-rich meal? Energetic or sleepy?

Depending on the action of protein and carbs on your body you need to find the optimal ratio. Warm people are often slow metabolizers, so it is the best to include more carb-rich food in their diets. Cold people are usually fast metabolizers and it is best to include more protein-rich food in their diets.

  • Which cravings or additions do you follow? Caffeine? Sugar or sweets? Energy drinks? Salty food?
  • What climate do you live in?

Hot climates will need more cooling foods, eating in their raw forms. Cold climates will need more cooked foods (such as soups or stews) to warm up the body.

  • What type of food depletes your energy soon after the meal?
  • What type of food make you feel energized hours after the meal?

Pay attention to what you eat and how it effects you. Health is a complex project and only through self-education, experimenting, reflection and observation you can determine what is best for you.

Why is health so important?

I believe that taking care of your physical, emotional and mental health is the first step to wealth creation. Why? Because your creative power, clear mind and good performance depend on your being well both in the mind and in the body.

More importantly, in the process of learning how to optimize and maintain your health you will learn how to deal with confusing information, cut through chaos, find meaningful suggestions, experiment and test various approaches. This is all done in order to set up habits and systems that promote your well-being. It is not an easy process, but possible!

Having learned how to take care of your health will teach you skills that can easily be transferred to creating abundance in your life. In the end, the maintenance of your health is about the right habits and approaches to which you stick daily.  It will prepare you to handle similar challenges, but now with respect to independent thinking, saving, investing and business.

Eating well

I think that eating well is very important. What “well” means, however, depends on a person. One person’s healing food may be a poison to another. And I mean it.

I don’t advocate any particular diet because I don’t follow any to the letter. Moreover, it is a personal choice. I eat meat, even though I experimented with the vegetarian and vegan diets in the past. I drink green smoothie every day, self-made juices a few times a month and protein drinks most of the days.

I was very enthusiastic about the raw food diet and experimented with it for a few months, but I ultimately decided against it. Not because the diet is bad, but because it is not optimal for me. In the cold / rainy climate, where I live,  I feel more nourished by warm, cooked meals than by raw meals. As I also long for leafy greens and vegetables, I eat both raw food and cooked meals.

When I cook I often follow the ideas from the traditional Polish cooking modified by the principles of the Paleo diet or the five element theory from the traditional Chinese medicine. I also use fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, pickles) in the kitchen and lots of herbs, where turmeric, wild thyme, ginger, basil, marjoram, cumin, cloves and black pepper and chilli are my beloved standard. They are pretty healthy, by the way.

Books

There are a few books that are thought provoking. Please don’t take them as dogmas even though the authors have strong opinions. Avoid to be biased in thinking by beliefs of the authorities or gurus. take what speaks to you and adopt the ideas to your personal circumstances.

Traditional foods

Five elements cooking / whole foods

Paleo diet

Green smoothie and high raw diet

Health is your first foundation towards the wealth creation. Please treat it with respect.

Your education is your wealth

I understand education broadly as an inspired learning, not necessarily bound to particular diplomas or titles, schools or universities. All education is self-education as you will ultimately learn things by yourself. The help of mentors, teachers or masters will usually speed up the learning process or allow you to better understand the foundations. Mentors are not necessary though. Schools or universities provide teaching systems which will serve some but may be too limited for others.

The truth is that you can learn new things all the time by studying books, online learning, following courses, learning from a mastermind group or a mentor, training at university, and so on. And there is plenty available for free. Just look around!

You can also learn through observation, experimenting, reflections and discussions with others. There are many ways to enquire knowledge and put it to test. And yes, testing it is necessary to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

My experience is that new skills and new techniques add to your repertoire of life experience. A new skill creates new neuron connections in the brain. As a result, there are more paths for information processing. And you would rather choose to have your brain full of connections than empty, wouldn’t you?

Your intelligence depends on the recognition of patterns, observing the difference and connecting seemingly unrelated ideas. The more connections in your brain, the higher your intelligence. The more you know and can, the more interesting your life becomes.

Skills developed in one area can often be transferred (after some modification, obviously) to another area. This is a common phenomenon in science when new inspiration and creative solutions arise from the marriage of particular ideas in e.g. computer science and physics, neurology and computer science, organic chemistry and math and so on. But the same applies to our lives too.

Your knowledge on nutrition and cooking skills can help you to organize your clutter-free life. Your organization skills can help you to become a good teacher. Your talents with kids can help you to become an artist. Your musical trainings can help you become a good scientist. Your engineering skills can help you become a great climber. And so on.

Your knowledge and your skills are your valuable resources, your second pillar to wealth creation.

Always look for learning something new – there is no better way for increasing intelligence. Moreover, learning is fun.

Your relationships are your wealth

It’s hard to exist alone. It is certainly possible and even greatly serves a few individuals, but without community we lack both reference for our growth and a place where we belong. Relations create a context and a domain of knowledge. It is a matrix where we live in. They reflect to us who we are and help us develop. They also pose challenges, which we understand here as possibilities for growth.

Most importantly, relationships allow us to receive love and to give love to others and live in a flow. This is the optimal state of being in which we feel deeply alive. We keep balancing between the polarities of similarity and difference, independence and interdependence, giving and receiving, sorrow and joy. Without relationships we loose the meaning of life.

It is the quality and depth of relations that matter most, not the quantity. We long for meaningful connections with others, for the recognition of ourselves and own vulnerabilities in others. We are tired of surface courtesies and polite talk for the sake of keeping manners.

If this is true for you, start to meet people where they are – in their weak spots and in their achievements. Seek to understand first, listen actively and develop empathy. Cherish their achievements. Be kind. Volunteer to help. Spread love. And your life will become meaningful.

Seek to connect with inspiring and positive people and cut off draining relations. Find good teachers. Make friends with people who already have the skills you want to develop. Because it matters.

Recognize you are not alone. Your wealth lies in the matrix of people who are supportive of you. Appreciate that.

Your assets are your wealth

Assets as possessions are the usual ingredient of wealth. But there is some confusion about assets and liabilities. For instance a house or a car are usually considered as assets, definitely on the balance sheets. They are not necessarily so.

Let’s keep things simple. Assets are possessions or resources which bring us money. Liabilities are possessions which cost us money.

A house you bought with a 20-year mortgage is not your asset. It is your liability. First of all, you don’t own it. Secondly, you have to make repairs or investments as things worn out. The house costs you money. Even if you pay the mortgage, there are still taxes and maintenance costs – the house does not bring you income (until you sell it, obviously).

On the other hand, a house becomes an asset when you rent it and the monthly payments cover the necessary investments (and mortgage if there is one) and leave you some money on the top.

Clearly, a car is a liability. Its value deteriorates quickly with time and there are high maintenance costs. For this reason the best advice is to drive 2nd hand cars, and, ideally until the end. A piece of land that you own and lease to a farming business is an asset.

Saving accounts look like an asset because you seem to earn some money by interest. However, many banks do not keep up with the rate of inflation. For instance a bank may offer 1% interest while the inflation rate is 5%. Consequently, by keeping money on your account you basically loose money. Isn’t that ironical?  It is usually much more profitable to invest the money wisely in a business or to buy gold or silver.

Please educate yourself on the subject of finances. Ramit Sethi, who also published the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich, is an example to learn from.

The biggest asset for wealth creation

It is you.

Yes, it is you.

Surprised?

It is who you are and whom you are becoming.
It is your being: your vision, your purpose and your integrity.
It is your doing: your traits, your skills and your actions.

Finally

Wealth creation is like farming. Improve your soil first (health and assets) so that you can plant quality seeds (education), support their growth (education and relationships) and collect your abundant crops. It is possible.

***

It has been a year since I started blogging, so it is a good moment to cherish my first year online. I say to myself “Congratulations, Ela! You have made it.” There are many who give up blogging after a few months.

Even though it was hard to continue, I did not have the idea to give up. Why? First, because I have cultivated a vision bigger than myself and, secondly, because I have been stubborn to stick to the ideas and make them work.

So, the moral is this: A powerful vision helps you to go through difficulties.

It was a year of profound learning about blogging and entrepreneurship. I truly enjoyed it. I have spent lots of time on reading, watching videos, experimenting and testing the tips and ideas. I have also read blogs of other successful bloggers and watched their undertakings.  It was a hard work behind the scenes, but I am happy with the little results I had. And I am ready to learn much more.

So, the moral is this: Appreciating of whom you have become opens you for learning and change.

The first decision I made about blogging was to write long or/and meaningful posts instead of the suggested short ones (300-400 words). Obviously, I can only do it once or twice a week because writing such posts takes a lot of dedicated effort.

Such an approach is actually against the advised strategy of posting frequency which is 3 x a week, and ideally, (multiple times) every day. My goal, however, is to write meaningful posts and quality articles for conscious people and not for web crawlers (although they need to be taken into the account as well). I want to write in order to help myself and others grow, hence I will continue with this practice.

So, the moral is this: Follow your heart desire but account for other factors as well.

Learnt from blogging

If you are curious what I have learnt from the blogging journey, here are some points.

1. Blogging is a great tool for personal growth.

Why?

Because of the commitment you make with yourself to write and deliver. Writing is about thinking, planning, discipline and action. Delivery depends on learning everything behind the scenes and producing the results.

2. Blogging is an art.

Why?

Because it involves the skills of mastery. And we talk about a few skills at least. Apart from the obvious crafting with words and inspirational writing, there is much more about the presentation, touch and feel, choice of keywords or long-tail keywords, selection of images, SEO (search engine optimization) and so on.

Words can hurt, discourage and kill the spirit. But words can also give hope, encourage and inspire for change. The right use is what makes a difference. The inspirational or action-provoking writing is what makes it art.

3. Content is the king, but marketing is the queen. And they are happy together 🙂

Why?

Because even the best ideas and practices are useless if nobody learns about them and practises them.

4. Writing is a real work.

It may not  feel like that to an outsider. But writing is an act of creation. This creation is a product such as a post, an article or a book.

Writing original posts takes a lot of time.

Why?

Because of the process that is necessary for the development of the ideas. It is an enjoyable process but it takes time. It takes lots of thinking. It takes lots of writing. And it takes lots of editing.

The hard part is to prune the tree of all ideas, half-baked ideas or weak ideas, and stories into a single seed of inspiration. This seed is then planted on various soils of experiences where creativity is called to work. Then multiple views are inspected and some of them are combined into a particular view. Finally, a (more or less) coherent story is created.

Any post you read in 2-5min often takes days of thinking and hours of writing. Perhaps it gets faster with experience. And speed typing 😉

Writing quality posts is a good exercise for personal growth.

Why?

Because you need to collect own ideas and experiences, reflect on them and organize them in a new, creative way. By doing so you will see new patterns that will help you to develop a deeper understanding. And such an understanding will ultimately lead to a new testing.

Writing valuable posts is hard.

Why?

Because the judgement is in the eye of the reader.Even if I write about the ideas that have been tested by me and others, there is no guarantee your will find them inspirational or useful.

5. It is busier behind the scenes.

Why?

Because blogging is also about maintaining the chosen content management system (such as WordPress or Drupal) and self-promotion. The first includes updating content, formatting text, improving articles and correction errors, plugins, backups and so on. The latter includes research behind the keyword selection, creating inner links, taking care of back-links, working on SEO and so on.

For every post, there is on average 2-3h of additional work, not even mentioning the beautifying of the theme, installation of new plugins, updates and many other tasks. There are many hours of work behind many successful blogs. Something that I have not realized before.

6. Generating traffic (=getting readers) is hard.

Why?

There are two reasons. First, because there is a lot of confusion how the organic search works. Google and other search engines change their algorithms all the time. There are numerous strategies and approaches suggested and it is extremely difficult to choose the good ones. Why? Because you need to follow them for a few months to judge the results. Multiple strategies are used at the same time, some perhaps counter-effect each other, so it is usually difficult to point which approach made the greatest difference. Many bring little results.

Secondly, self-promotion is necessary in one form or the other. And it is not easy to act upon this.

7. Spam is there. Deal with it.

Why?

Because clutter is an inherent challenge in life.

In the beginning there was virtually no spam. I started to get spam messages or comments after the first two months. Until the end of January, I have looked at every single message marked as spam by my spam detector. It grew from 30-50 spam messages a week to 50-100 a day. So I stopped this practice.

For the last few weeks I have been under attack, it seems, and I may close the Comments sections. I now receive about 2000-3000 spam messages daily. In addition, about 20000 -25000 (yes, 20 thousands) messages are blocked from considering it even a spam.

It took me quite some hours to find a proper detector and deal with the spam in my mailboxes. Yet, I take the challenge with a smile. Clutter is something we need to learn to deal with.

8. Vision is the key.

Why?

Because without vision I would not have made through the first year.

I received very little feedback about the value of my efforts – only a few people expressed their opinions. I got more criticism than applaud, I must say, but I don’t mind criticism at all. Still, I prefer to learn what works than what doesn’t.

And, by the way, if you find some articles valuable I will appreciate if you let me know what was particularly useful. Many thanks!

Growing the seeds

This year is essential for growing the seeds I have planted so far. I want to see them grow beautifully so that they can provide great value and help both me and you to change. My goal is to create a platform for personal growth: practical tools and systems, learnings and courses, people and experiences. I want to create my own valuable products.

I hope you will stick around.

And if you want to start blogging, but are hesitative, I want to encourage you to go for it. You will experience an enormous growth. No doubt about it.

Best wishes,

Ela

***

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