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simple and beautiful

I know I didn’t write for a while, I had my reasons. But I read recently this book, “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” by Mark Haddon and I wanted to quote a part of it- because it’s beautiful, simple and so logic. The narrator is an autistic 15 years old boy.

“In the bus on the way to school next morning we passed 4 red cars in a row, which meant that it was a Good Day, so I decided not to be sad about Wellington.

Mr. Jeavons, the psychologist at the school, once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 3 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don’t speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don’t eat my lunch and Take No Risks. He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn’t very logical.

I said I liked things being in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order. And that was why I had Good Days and Black Days. And I said that people who worked in an office came out of their house in the morning and saw that the sun was shining and it made them feel happy, or they saw that it was raining and it made them feel sad, but the only difference was the weather and if they worked in an office the weather didn’t have anything to do with whether they had a good day or a bad day.

I said that when Father got up in the morning he always put his trousers on before he put his socks on and it wasn’t logical but he always did it that way, because he liked things in a nice order, too. Also whenever he went upstairs he went up two at a time, always starting with his right foot. (…)”

I think most of us have some kind of “thing” or “ritual” that makes us think “well, this is going to be a very good day!” or just the contrary. And why not? Today I had one of these things happening (nice dream, then positive phone call) and maybe it will be obvious to all of you, but I just thought “maybe I have a Good Day and something special will happen to me”. This is just the proof of how apparently meaningless events can be meaningful to someone. We are to decide whether something has an importance to us or not. Then, this is up to us to try to make each day a Good Day and keep a positive attitude, even though I know that it can be extremely tough sometimes. So I will see how my Good Day continues :) And I wish lots of Good Days to all of you!

My nephew, this was definietely a Good Day with a great smile!

My nephew, this was definitely a Good Day with a great smile!

hope

We don’t really think about it until the day we are in such despair that hopelessness is the only word to describe our state of mind. Usually we have hope, more or less of it, depending on what we are thinking about, but we have it. If we are also motivated to achieve the results we are looking for, it is likely that we will succeed in our actions.

But we don’t think about hope on a daily basis. It is just present somewhere in our mind. We don’t even notice it. If I applied for a new job and I am now waiting for an answer, very nervous, it obviously means that I hope that I will be positively judged by the interviewer. If I was totally hopelessness, I wouldn’t be stressed, I wouldn’t think about that job in that way. I wouldn’t check my email, or look at my phone more often than usually. I wouldn’t imagine myself in the new office, having new responsibilities and enjoying it. I wouldn’t let my mind wonder how my life would look like if it wasn’t for hoping that I will actually succeed.

Hope is one of the factors that motivates us, whether we think about it or not. Even though this is only one of many factors, it’s the crucial one, the one without which nothing is possible. When we stop hoping for a better life, when we just don’t believe anymore we can get a job, when we start to think that life is not worth any effort, we are driven into a very dangerous state. Because nothing makes sense anymore. It’s not that we don’t move forward and the present moment is “ok”. It’s that we can’t even stand the present moment.

A person that became truly hopelessness needs help and I believe that he or she won’t do it on its own, because that person doesn’t see the point of doing anything. If nothing makes sense, there is no action that can change that state. Fortunately, most of us have a support system, people who love us, people who, if aware of what’s happening to us, are willing to help. It’s a very difficult situation to help a hopeless person and this is why it might be too hard only for one person to do it. Get the family or friends together, explain them how they need to be more present for the one they love, how they all together can make a huge difference in his life. Maybe also look for a specialist who will know how to talk to the person, help in a different way. You just need to create a support system.

When we recuperate some hope, we are able to undertake some steps to achieve whatever we want. We are able to think about the future. Imagine a better tomorrow. Get out of bed. Smile.

Hope is so important, you really wouldn’t like to see what life looks like without it. I’m trying optimist today, so let’s hope for a better future!

every element at the right place

every element at the right place

In his book about creativity and creative people (see book shelf) Csikszentmihalyi affirms that “(…) it is possible to single out seven major elements in the social milieu that help make creative contributions possible: training, expectations, resources, recognition, hope, opportunity, and reward. Some of these are direct responsibilities of the field, others depend on the broader social system. If our argument is correct, then creativity can be substantially increased by making sure that society provides these opportunities more widely.” (p.330)

It is impossible to disagree with this statement- these 7 elements seem in fact necessary to the development of creative people as such. But if you think about it, isn’t it what most of us need to be satisfied in our professional lives?

Would you be able to do your job if no one showed you how to do it, if you didn’t go to the appropriate school, university, attend the courses, etc.? Would you be so ambitious if you knew that no one expects anything from you? How do you feel when your boss never recognizes your good performance? If there wasn’t any reward (such as salary or bonuses), would you still go and work?

Most of us eventually find professions and employers who provide the 7 elements that allow us to feel satisfied, fulfilled and happy with what we do. But I believe that if people are so often unhappy, the reason is that more than one of this element is lacking. Of course, it is also a personal question of what is really important to us- one will put “recognition” as the most important factor, while another person can need in the first place “expectations” or “training”.

Seven elements that can make most of us happy at work. Seven simple elements. Why is it then so hard to find not a perfect, but at least a good job?

new design for my website

I just finished (almost) redesigning my website http://www.coachingyounow.com/

I will appreciate all the feedback and suggestions :) Thank you!

let’s experience life

experience life

experience life

I am reading now a book written by M. Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and professor of an impressive reputation, the author of “Flow” and “Creativity (…)”. The book is not as much about the creativity itself, although the author looks for patterns that lead some of the people (that I would qualify of genius or at least extremely talented) to be creative and therefore able of great achievements. He had the opportunity to interview individuals whose work is world wildly recognized and rewarded by prizes like Nobel’s or Pulitzer. There are researchers, mathematicians, physicists, writers, etc.

This is a very interesting and useful lecture that I am also reading with pleasure, but I can’t agree with one particular statement of the author. “(…) the reigning stereotype of the tortured genius is to large extent a myth created by Romantic ideology and supported by evidence from isolated and- one hopes- atypical historical periods. In other words, if Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy showed more than their share of pathology it was due less to the requirements of their creative work than to the personal sufferings caused by the unhealthful conditions of a Russian society nearing collapse. (…)” (p.19)

Therefore, according to these words, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy would have been equally genius even if they wouldn’t suffer because of what was happening in Russia. I am not so sure if they would have been so creative and wrote those remarkable novels if it wasn’t for suffering, if it wasn’t for the difficulties they were encountering, for knowing how pain feels, for wanting to understand human behavior and looking for answers. They would still become writers, probably, but would their work be so fascinating? I guess we don’t have and won’t have the answer.

My point here is that I strongly believe that what is called today a “wealthy” society does more damage than good on a creative level. Each day more and more people chose TV instead of a book, we live easy, we live fast, we want what is effortless and often superficial.

Therefore, a child growing in a wealthy society who is developing his perception of the world and his unique thoughts about it, is less likely to be curious, less stimulated on an intellectual level, less likely to want to explore it because he explores it by watching DVD’s and maybe, if lucky, Discovery Channel instead of brainwashing tv shows. If his family is more or less a “normal” one, where he isn’t exposed to any difficulty like a parent’s alcoholism, someone’s health problems, he will just live in this pink, false and easy world of the future to be “normal”, ordinary person. He will not know the taste of pain, he will not grow as strong as he could. Schools, especially the public ones, do not encourage creativity so much because it means more work for them, for the teachers, the adults. Wealthy societies are a place which is everything but creativity and curiosity stimulating.

I believe that one has to experience life- its beauty and ugliness- to contribute on a greatest level to it. There are lots of factors that are necessary so a person can achieve something extraordinary and Csikszentmihalyi explains them all. My point, nevertheless, is that beside some exceptions (and there will be less and less exceptions as we allow children to become stupid because of their parents and teachers laziness) a wealthy society and a healthy family is not so much able to give birth to a new Dostoyevsky.

There is no good way to approach this subject. Stupid people will have more or less stupid kids or children even more stupid than their parents. Just as will the lazy or too busy to be good parents ones. Experiencing life, again, its beauty and ugliness, is the way to stimulate a mind. Politicians, parents, teachers could also take more care of their kids- less tv and more books, less indoor activities and more outdoor excursions, etc. Teachers who do teach in a passionate and remarkable way should get some recognition. A society can be wealthy but does it has to mean that it produces brainless people? Then what kind of future will this “great” society have? Why do best novelist write inspiring novels only if they are able to live and experience life 100%? How would they be able to describe a country if they had never seen it or at least read about it? How can they talk about colours, smells, feelings that they never experienced? One thing is sure, our kids won’t find out the taste of life while watching Big Brother.

a visionary person

Who is a visionary person? It could be “someone guided more by ideals than by practical considerations”; or “a person with unusual powers of foresight”; or “a person given to fanciful speculations and enthusiasms with little regard for what is actually possible”, according to the Thesaurus dictionary.Little would be achieved in this world if it wasn’t for people who believe in their dreams, who have an extraordinary ambition and great capacities that lead them to incredible discoveries.

While we do all have a great potential for achievements- the long-term ones that would change our lives and other people’s- we can also use the technique of “vision” to help us with more immediate goals. Coaches sometimes suggest a simple thing to do, and even if it might seem childish to some of you, it is also extremely useful. A notebook with dreams and goals. Or a collage that you prepare yourself, made of pictures that represent what you want to have and then put on the wall so you can see it and remind yourself of what is important or why you are working so hard. It can have the form that is more convenient to you.

What kind of things do people put in their dream notebook? A house, something they associate with health, the photo of the country you want to travel to, the picture of the women whose body you admire and looking at this image will help you to stick with your diet. It can be literally everything!

A similar technique can be used to “anchor” your dreams. Close your eyes and think of something important that you want to achieve. Now, make it precise. Let’s say that you imagine your dream travel to Paris. Imagine the city. Is it day or night time? Where are you? What do you see? What can you smell? Isn’t the weather just perfect? Take a walk. Go to the hotel where you’re staying. Is it a big hotel or a small one? How is your room? Are you alone? Where do you go for lunch? etc. Just get the perfect picture and as if you were a photographer get the images from this travel, make photos, anchor your dream and goal. Since now, every time you will have doubts concerning this travel, every time it will be hard to save some money for this dream, go back to your mental pictures. Remember that you have the freedom to change them, adapt them to new circumstances, but try not forget them- after all, it’s your dream. Go and get it.

picture your dream

picture your dream

it’s a disaster

This morning I thought: “it’s a disaster” and seconds later my own thoughts told me “no, it’s a challenge”. This simple switch of perspective that my brain or conscious thoughts made automatically allowed me to take or plan different set of actions- I know myself and if I would stay with “it’s a disaster” idea, I wouldn’t do anything in particular to change it (because it’s impossible to change a disaster, isn’t it?) or I wouldn’t do anything in particular full stop (the “disaster mode” serves as an excuse for not undertaking any kind of action, not trying, therefore not risking failure or not risking success [for fear of success read my previous posts]). The word disaster, itself, has strong emotional connotations, almost extreme. A word of this strength can easily lead to what is called catastrophic thinking and trigger a feeling of anxiety, helplessness and maybe panic.

I am not exactly sure how I made the switch of perspective into “it’s a challenge”. It’s true that I am interested in positive psychology, I am making some exercises to boost my optimism and I try to read about this subject. But honestly, I was having some serious doubts if it works because I wasn’t feeling more optimistic (or simply less pessimistic), I couldn’t observe any positive changes in my life, etc. And today that thought. The new, empowering perspective.

If I am going through something very difficult, there is nothing (or little) that could have the power of a “challenge” perspective. The challenge motivates me, it gives me strength to persevere in actions I have to undertake, my ambition somehow wakes up and assists me like a supportive friend- “don’t give up” “you are able to achieve it” “you can do much better” “it’s worth the effort”. I like to be able to see things as challenges and then be the winner instead of being the loser from the very beginning (only because I think that there is nothing I can do to change my situation). Challenge feels good.

Different researches in the field of Positive Psychology (mostly by its founder, Dr. Seligman) proved that we do not all have the same predisposition for optimism. Whether you are an optimist or pessimist depends also on the package of genes you received from your family. Of course, the external conditions in your life have also a great influence on your thinking, on your mood and how you perceive what is happening. But still, some people have a predisposition for optimism while other can work on it.

Actually, this discovery is something extremely useful for people who, just like me, don’t have the predisposition for optimism. The lack of predisposition will remain, but you can include in your daily schedule some simple and short exercises which have the potential to enhance the greatest change for you. If you would like to find out more about these exercises, please read Dr. Martin Seligman books or email me for more information. After all, we can all have a good day even if it started with a “disaster” !

is it really a disaster or can you switch perspective?

is it really a disaster or can you switch perspective?

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