Monthly Archives: December 2020

5 Reflections about life (Part 2)

(1) Life is a lesson composed of smaller lessons learned over time. At the end is a resolution or form of enlightenment if you prefer. The sad thing is that none of us gets to apply the lesson of all lessons to our daily life. By the time it registers within our brain cells, it’s already too late. We might learn about it somewhere within our lifetime, but there is a difference between learning something by reading about it, and learning something by living it.

(2) Life is the ultimate teacher. Capable of teaching the deepest lessons to even the stubbornest of students.

(3) Life is at the end of the day what we think of it. For those who see life as a stage of joy with a few moments of sadness, more joy will be observed. For those who think of it as a stage of sadness with a few joyful moments, more sadness will be experienced. When it comes to life, you experience what you think you will experience.

(4) Knowing what you truly want out of life is the first and most important step for a fulfilling life. Without it, confusion mixed in with false starts is what your life will be made of.

(5) It’s not only your list of accomplishments that define the overall mood of your life. Your immediate circle is arguably more important in that regard. If you hang out with negative people your overall life mood will be that of negativity regardless of how much you accomplish. If you hang out with positive people on the other hand, it doesn’t matter how much you fail, and chances are that even the low moments will be cast in a positive light by your surrounding circle.

(Bonus) Life, just like people carries with it an overall mood. The goal is to be happy overall not in spikes, even if you have to tolerate a few low moments here and there.

Checkout our post on reflections about life part 1.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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Lesson from the book “Unf*ck your intimacy” by Faith G. Harper

Intimacy is among the most puzzling and interesting topics to humans. On one hand, there is this thing most people need to have go well and on the other the problem of even defining what “well” looks like.

Today there are so many ways to go about the act of being intimate, and the number keeps growing. What’s normal today is very different from what it was in the past. The definition of “normal” is and gets more ambiguous as time goes. What’s normal is essentially becoming more and more about what the ones involved in the act of being intimate think of as normal.

So what do you do when (1) you don’t know what’s normal to you, and (2) you clearly know that what you have at the moment is not what you want?
The book “Unf*ck your intimacy” has great answers for the questions above and much more regarding intimacy and dating. Below are a few lessons.

Do your internal homework

According to the book, the first and most important thing to do before attempting to be intimate in any way is to do your internal homework. Meaning that we all experience some trauma in our lives, big or small, that might have an effect on our intimacy. Your unresolved trauma might just be the thing that makes you pick the wrong partners over and over, or even make it difficult to have the degree of opening up and relaxation that intimacy requires.

Studying and understanding yourself is the first thing to do before getting into relationships of any kind. That way you get to know what you really want and avoid wasting time and emotional stability due to an unnecessary string of failed relationships.

Be your true self

The next lesson is to be your true self. We live in a time in which through social media the person of today has the constant lowgrade feeling of inadequacy. We are bombarded with images of the perfect girlfriend or boyfriend so often that we can find ourselves subconsciously seeking the perfect partner while struggling to be that perfect partner. As you probably know, this constant pursuit of “perfect” is a waste of time since “perfect” is an idea with an ever-changing definition.

” As you probably know, this constant pursuit of “perfect” is a waste of time since “perfect” is an idea with an ever-changing definition.”

Those still stuck in the pursuit of “perfect” will by definition change their behavior to fit the mold. To make things clear, it’s ok to change your behavior if the behavior is destructive to you or society. You don’t have to identify with the behavior. If the behavior is not detrimental in any way to you or society, on the other hand, the change is an unnecessary pain. Meaning that change of any kind is inherently painful, because as humans, we take not only our limbs and organs as a part of who we are, but also our ideas and habits.

“…as humans, we take not only our limbs and organs as a part of who we are, but also our ideas and habits.”

So as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anybody you should show your true self as much as possible to your dates.

Be honest about who you are on dates

Still on the same tone is the idea of being honest about who you are on dates. The last tip was about changing yourself to fit the mold. This one is about pretending to be someone you’re not.

The author advises us to show who we are and what we like on dates. This includes your sexual preference and what kind of relationship you’re interested in. Any lies you tell at the beginning will eventually catch up with you and the result will most likely be a loss of the very important element of trust. A relationship without trust is always on the brink of a breakup, so much so that for the anxiety alone the gains are not worth the suffering.

Final thoughts

The lessons described here were more around the subject of relationships, but there is much more about intimacy you can get by reading the book. Leave a comment below if you would like another post more focused on our favorite lessons on the subject of intimacy. Here is a link for the audiobook.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

5 Reflections on selfishness

(1) First, men learns that being selfish is the way to go. He lives in a world of objects in which he’s the only human. Everything else, including other people, is just a means to whatever end he currently has in mind. Then he learns that if he’s altruistic the world will do the same for him, so his natural and childlike selfishness melts away into selflessness. He realizes that other people like him also have goals and desires. Lastly, he is made aware that if everyone acts on their natural selfishness in the same way that he feels the urge to act on his, then no one can be trusted, and no one can get what they want because no one trusts anybody.

(2) Selfishness is the best strategy in a world of naive altruists. Luckily the world we live in is composed mostly of flexible beings, who will quickly turn to their ugly selves once they realize that to be good means to be taken advantage of. It’s the awareness of the existence of one another’s worst selves that keep our own evil in check. Being good and giving works because it brings the good and altruism on others.

(3) The way to not get what you want is by trying to receive with a closed fist. The way to get what you want is by giving first, and the way to get more than what you want is by giving without an agenda to receive.

(4) To be selfish is to be stuck in a cage of scarcity with bars made of jealousy. What lets you free is not just getting what you want out of life, but also to know that no one else other than you gets what they want.

(5) The selfish mind believes the world is scarce in goodness. This is why it struggles with celebrating other people’s victories. To the selfish mind, life is a zero-sum game someone else’s win is their loss.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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Lessons from the book “How to be accountable” by Faith G. Harper

Accountability is one of the most important traits a human can have, and yet so lacking in today’s society. We live in a time of blame-shifting, where we’re all victims and never responsible for anything. For each wrong he does, the human of today has a person to point to as the cause, and to look for demanding fixing. We’re all to blame for something, and at the same time to blame for nothing. We are always innocent, and guilty, and yet still wonder why change is always slow, and often ineffective in today’s world.

Accountability is both the problem and the solution. The more you make yourself accountable for what happens in and around you, the more control you have over it. Delegating is only reserved for those who actually have the power to make people do things even if against their will. Other than that, any demanding without influence is a recipe for frustration.

The book “How to be accountable” takes us into a journey of self-reflection where you go from blaming the world for everything to learning how to see the flaws in yourself and to correct them. It teaches us how to be more accountable for what happens in our lives, and to identify the instances in which we try to flee from accountability without noticing. Below are a few lessons.

The only person you have control over/can change is yourself

The first lesson is that the only person you can control or change is yourself, and that changing yourself should be your sole focus on your way to accomplishing your goals.

As the author brings to light, there are lots of books and people teachinng people to see how unfair the world is or has been to them. To see how they’ve been victimized, but there is very little teaching us to see how we might be the person doing the victimizing even when the victim is no one other than oursleves.

The truth about change is that it only occurs when the person wants it. As the Buddha once said: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. Basing your life and happiness on the possibility that you might be able to change someone depends on the offchance that the person is ready for change. Which may never happen. Changing yourself on the other hand is completely different and a much easier to play kind of game.

“Therapy like anything only helps you if you are willing to see the problem, and are ready to make the change in yourself” -Faith G. Harper

Apologies mixed in with excuses

The next lesson has more to do with being accountable for our mistakes. We’re not perfect no matter how perfect we may portray ourselves as, or trick ourselves into believing we are. Always keep in mind that you’re not perfect. Always keep in mind that you’re as flawed as everyone else. Prone to the same mistakes, no matter how unlikely they may seem to you.

Not doing this simple and yet so difficult exercise regularly is what leads one to not being able to fully own up ot its mistakes. The author teaches us that the only appology worth askig for is the kind in which you own up to the mistake with no excuses mixed in.

Too often we feel the need to justify why we did what we did while we appologise, naively thinking that the hurt person will magically agree that the mistake wasn’t really a mistake, but an unfortunate outcome caused by us being in an unfortunate positition for which we had little to no control over. But the truth is that this rarely is the case.

When you try to explain away your behavior you inadvertently downplay the outcome. You ignore the feelings of the other person even as you say you understand how they feel. When you try to explain away your behavior you ask for the same empathy you fail to give by not starting and ending in “I’m sorry, I will do better next time”.

One thing I’ve noticed a few times is that whenever I just appologized and vowed to do better, the person became more understanding of what led me to make the mistake. In some cases, they might do the explaining on your behalf, but only once they see the regret in your eyes.

We are more flawed than we know

Continuing from the previous lesson is the realization that what makes one fail to be accountable in general is the same thing that prevents the guilty from appologising without providing excuses. The cause behind all causes is the flawed belief that we are more perfect than we actually are.

The author brings to light the fact that we, as humans, have what psychologists call cognitive biases. At the end of the day cognitive biases are shortcuts in decision making that often lead us to making the wrong decisions. They are in some ways a representation of how flawed our minds can be. Like for example the halo effect is the idea that we tend to attach positive traits like intelligence, and kindess to people we find attractive regardless of whether they deserve these forms of praise. To us our judgment is clear and we don’t notice how cloudy it may be.

The same applies to every decision we make or every conclusion we arrive to. When we believe we don’t make mistakes, the mistakes we do make are explained away or blamed it to someone else. In essence the world is our escapegoat for every mistake. As long as there is someone to blame our image of perfection remains intact, and accountability is only for other people.

Final thoughts

This is a fairly longer book than the author usually writes. Like I always say, her books always have more value in the form of lessons I can ever cover fully in a blog post, and this book is no different. There are lots to learn from it and I definitely recommend the read.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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Lessons from the book “Coping skills” by Faith G. Harper

The stresses of life are powerful enough to bring even a giant to its knees, but subtle enough to make him think he can handle whatever life has to throw at him.

It’s quite a negative way of looking at life I know, but like most true things, life too carries some negatives along with the positives. At some point or another, every human being goes through trials and tribulations; And the desire to quit on whatever the current endeavor may be might not be acted upon, but it will at least cross yours and my mind at some point.

It’s the way one handles stressful situations that determines the near future at the very least, and a whole lifetime in extreme cases. The book “Coping skills” is a guide on how to cope with the challenges of life. The book offers a multitude of scientific explanations for what happens when we’re under stress, as well as a multitude of strategies to cope with these sometimes soul testing moments. Below are a few lessons.

If you don’t find coping mechanisms consciously the brain will find one

The first lesson is that coping strategies are fundamental to our survival. So fundamental that evolution took upon itself to make sure that the primitive brain was able, without a conscious effort to deal with and recover from stressful events. The author teaches us that this strategy-centered primitive mechanism we have will take over in the advent that we fail to not come up with a solution. The problem is that often these solutions are not what one may consider as good, and in some extreme cases may even make what’s considered to be normal living, difficult. So the lesson is that one should try to come up with a good way to handle trauma as early as possible before this mechanism gets into action, and its solution becomes hardwired and difficult to override.

“There is are no such things as wrong responses, only adaptive ones. What you have survived has wired your body to perceive with extreme caution on an unconscious level at all times. This is called staying fuc*king alive” – Faith G. Harper

The stress response mechanisms are faster than the chill response mechanisms

The next lesson is that as humans, we are wired in such a way that stress response is faster than the instinct to relax. This can be observed physically as the areas responsible for stress response have the building blocks needed for high-speed transmission of signals, while the areas one may consider being involved in what the author calls “chill response” are not. The point is that we are wired to pay attention to and respond to stress more than we are about relaxation and trust-building. Which makes sense given that we world we live in s unpredictable and always changing. A few thousand years ago wild animals were the biggest threat known to men. Today the concept is more abstract, ranging from terrorism to viruses. Both of which the average person has a vague idea of, but finds it difficult to explain concretely. Being aware of one’s tendencies is the next step towards control and then deep and meaningful change.

Practice your coping skills not until you get them right, but until you’re incapable of getting them wrong

The next lesson is to not have only one coping skill but to have backups, and backups for the backups. The book teaches us that often people rely on a few coping skills, and when they fail they have nothing else to do. The advice is to have more than one coping skill. If you rely on breathing techniques, then consider adding positive self-talk and maybe herbal teas. Once you have more than one coping skill, then make sure to train their usage as much as you can such that you can use them on a minute’s notice. If you read the book, this is what the author meant about practicing something until you’re incapable of getting it wrong.

We are wired for a negative and the benefits of positive self-talk

The last lesson is that just as we’re wired to pay attention to the stressful, so we are to pay attention to the negative. I guess one could argue that the negative could be a part of the stressful, but this case is still worth the mention. According to the book, we care so much about the negative that we simulate and stress out potentially negative events so we can prevent them from happening. This becomes a problem when you’re already in a stressful situation and it’s important to get yourself out of it as quickly as possible. For that the author recommends positive self-talk, which you might have heard thousands of times by this point, but that remains a piece of meaningful advice still. Being positive can give you the energy and motivation to defeat the stressor while being negative only makes the stressful situation worse.

Final thoughts

There is much more you can get from the book in terms of deep lessons as well as coping strategies. Different people might extract different lessons from a piece of literature. So If you find any other advice you might have found useful, please share by posting a comment below.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

5 Reflections on gift-giving

1.When you gift do it properly. A gift is more than just an object you buy for someone. It says something about how you feel about the person and in some cases even about you as a person.

2.The best gifts are not the biggest or the most expensive but the most meaningful. They are in some ways a demonstration of your thoughtfulness and effort. Money and size impresses only momentarily until the gift goes to the basket of the countless and meaningless gifts we get and give every year. Meaningful gifts have a way of making themselves remembered and cherished endlessly.

3.I’m serious! Don’t just buy anything because you want to get over the task of gifting your loved one as quickly as possible. It shows. If not on the tackiness, the gift itself transpires the message “I’m not for you” to the receiver.

4.A thoughtful gift no matter how small can make even the most horrible of the days a little more bearable. Life might be bad, but at least now you have a reason  to smile.

5.Gifting is one of these actions that when done properly has the power to strengthen connections, and when not it has the power to poke holes in strong relationships and to sink the already weak. So treat the next gift you give as a chess move whose consequences can make or break your game.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Lessons from the book “Unf*ck your boundaries” by Faith G. Harper

A person with no boundaries is like a country with no borders: people come and go as they wish, do what they want, and the sense of self-respect diminishes with each coming and going. Eventually, the person or the country stops being what it is and turns into something less. The person feels less like a person and more like a thing, and the country doesn’t really look like a country.

Asserting one’s boundaries is one of the most important and yet most difficult things to do. Without boundaries, you lose your sense of self and you become nothing more than a sum of all your interactions. Defending them is keen to a battle to keep the walls that make you who you are standing strong. Losing the battle means losing the most important thing you have, and that is your sense of self.

The book “Unf*ck your boundaries” is a guide on how to assert your boundaries. If you’re the kind of person who has trouble asserting itself, “Unf*ck your boundaries” might just be the encouragement you need. Below are a few lessons I picked up from the book that you might find valuable.

1.The relationship between boundaries and attachment styles

The way you look for and nurture your relationships can affect how you set your boundaries. In short, if you’re the kind of person who happens to be afraid of abandonment, chances are that setting boundaries is the last thing in your mind. The logic behind this kind of thinking is that if you say “no” to people, they will lose interest. The funny thing about setting one’s boundaries is that it might have the exact opposite effect. Human beings are weird like that. The more assertive you are the more they respect you, and the more they respect you the more they want to hang out with you. This is up to a point of course, as anything when pushed to the extreme almost always leads to negative effects and this includes assertiveness.

If you’re an avoidant on the other hand, the kind of person who feels the constant need to protect himself from the world, boundaries might the very first thing in your mind. Your belief that the best defense is offense keeps you in a perpetually offensive state. You prefer to be the first to hurt than to be hurt. Your boundaries are as tall as the great wall of china and as strong and well defined as prison walls. You might even be the kind of person who wears your boundaries on your sleeve. People can see that not by your words, but by the way you look, or the way you talk to people.

The book advises us to shoot for the middle. To be a more balanced person. Both extremes are equally bad and the way to change that might just be to be mindful of your attachment style.

2.Boundaries and the golden mean

The next lesson is that boundaries like most things in life also follow the rule of the golden mean. In short, the rule states that the most desirable outcome lies in the middle point between two extremes.

Asserting your boundaries too much will eventually wear people down. You will be respected but at the expense of being an enjoyable person to be around. People will think of you as rigid. Not asserting your boundaries on the other hand might be as problematic. People will enjoy spending time with you but at the expense of your wellbeing. Do that too much and people will start thinking of you as a pushover, which doesn’t make for an attractive quality.

3.Handling high conflict people while trying to set your boundaries

The next lesson from the book is on how to set your boundaries with a special kind of person. This kind of person that the author labels “Hight conflict”, is arguably one of the most difficult to set your boundaries with. Because they are always on alert for any signs of conflict and also ready to go to the offensive, they tend to be less open to win-win solutions to problems. So your attempt to set your boundaries might easily end up in an unproductive argument. For these kinds of situations be the best solution might be to either not try to keep them in your life, thus avoiding the potential argument, or to not respond to any attacks that might come your way. As the author says:

The first question is: do even need to respond?

by Faith G. Harper

Meaning that responding/giving in to such attacks might do more harm than good.

Final thoughts

This is the 4th book I read from the author Faith G. Harper, and like the other 3, this too ranks high in my all-time book list. Definitely worth the read as there is a lot more you can learn by reading it for yourself. In the end, you might even realize that for your particular case there are much deeper lessons to learn. If you do find a lesson you think should be on this list leave a comment and let us know.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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Lessons learned from the book “How to not kill yourself” by Set Sytes

In a world where more and more is demanded from each one of us, the door for depression is not only opened but left stuck open. No one is immune to it, and the buffer between one and societal expectations no longer exists. We judge and feel judged 24/7. No wonder the rates of suicide keep growing.

The book “How not to kill yourself” comes as a guide on how to manage any thoughts of suicide one might have. It’s more than just a self-help book with the kind of tips you usually hear anywhere these days. The author takes a different approach. One that acknowledges the true thoughts of the many people who think about or go ahead with suicide. Below are a few valuable takeaways.

1.Reflections on fake positivity

The first thing lesson is that being positive for the sake of being positive might not be helpful to people with depression. We live in a time of what we can call “fake positivity”. When we see someone going through a low moment, we are quick to tell them to “cheer up”, not realizing that by saying things of the kind, we undermind the person’s feelings.

The lesson is that it’s ok to feel negative and to acknowledge it. It’s ok to not say anything because you don’t know how to cheer a person in a low moment. It’s ok to be the way you are if you’re the one struggling, and that you’re not crazy for not being able to be as happy as other people.

2.The power of laughter

The next lesson is the idea that by being afraid to laugh at something, we give the “something” power over us. If we can make jokes about a bad situation, we can make it a little more bearable by laughing about it. Sure there are cases in which laughing is very difficult, but if you can, the act of laughing about it can do wonders to your mood.

3.The power of anger

The third lesson is that not all anger is bad. In fact, there are cases in which anger can be the very thing that saves one’s life. The author talks about the case of severe depression as an example, in which the sufferer has a difficult time doing anything. According to the author, by giving in to an episode of anger, the person might gain the energy to do more than just expressing his anger. The anger takes you out of the negative loop of not wanting to do anything, making you do nothing, and in turn making you even less likely to do anything.

The book also teaches us that anger is a representation of indignation. Indignation is a representation of some of our expectations being violated, and instead of just accepting things as they are, the anger response is an attempt to change things. It’s an attempt to change the world to our will, which is the opposite of depression. So by changing or attempting to change the world once, it makes it more likely that we will try it again, especially if our attempt is successful

4.The power of movement

The next lesson is a generalization of lesson #3. A part of what makes anger useful is the fact that it inspires us to move. This means that any kind of movement can have a positive effect on depression, which can in turn have a positive effect on any potential suicidal thoughts. This is also one of the reasons why exercising has been demonstrated to be good at managing and in some cases even curing depression.

Final thoughts

These are just a few of the many lessons you can take from the book. There are definitely many more to learn, and for that reason, I definitely recommend you to read the book for yourself. The last thing to note is that the book is not a difficult read. In fact, it might uplift your mood a bit, even as the author talks about difficult topics like depression and suicide while adding jokes in the middle. So give it a try.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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5 Reflections for a new year

1.Remember your defeats and lick your wounds. Remember your victories, no matter how small, and pat yourself on the back. Think about the next year with optimism, and vow to do better regardless of how well you did this time because each new year is like a blank slate. The only way tomorrow can be like today is by intentionally writing the same story all over again.

2.The end of each year carries with it a feeling. That feeling is a summary of who you’ve been over the previous 12 months. It’s ok to not like what you feel at the end of the year. Life is full of ups and downs. What’s not ok is to have the same feeling carry over a decade.

3.New years wishes are more than just wishes. They can also serve as a measuring stick for the direction one’s life is taking. You know you have a problem not when you set very ambitious goals for the year and fail to attain them, but when you find yourself setting the same goals over and over again. The way your goals evolve each year has something to say about your evolution as a person.

4.It’s not enough to reflect on what has happened over a year and to vow to make changes where necessary. You should also reflect on yourself and how you’ve changed over the past 12 months because change can occur in even the shortest of periods. In periods shorter than a lifetime or a decade. True change can occur in a year, and to such an extent that you can’t even recognize yourself. That change can shape not only the next year but also the next decade or even the rest of your life.

5.If anything can be taken from a year, let that be what not to do. This is how wisdom is acquired. Year by year, a little wiser than before. You know you will still make mistakes. That comes with being human. The good thing is that they will at the very least not be the same as before.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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5 Reflections for low moments

1.Life is full of highs and lows. Long highs make lows more likely and so do long lows. In a way, a long low is like a long night where each hour gets you closer to the light.

2.The present is a bi-product of the many little decisions you’ve made in the past. The baby is born already and there is nothing you can do about it now. The future, however, it’s a different story that starts today. The house is not fully built yet, and there is a universe of things you can do about it.

3.Negativity is bound to come in low moments. We find it easy to understand that being positive and optimistic when life is good doesn’t necessarily mean that our positivity and optimism are grounded in reality. So why do we find it difficult to think the same about negativity and pessimism?”. Things may not be as bad as we think, but we behave as if they were.

4.Being positive in low moments is not a luxury but a necessity. Not because being positive will magically make things better, but because it will give you enough energy to at the very least make things a little better than they are.

5.In low moments strategize for a better future. Don’t drown in sadness. In good moments strategize for the rainy and stormy days to come. Don’t drown in happiness.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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