Monthly Archives: January 2015

“The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance and Happiness”, by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher


The book is centered around stories told in turn by authors. These are personal lived through stories and examples. I read it twice before writing this review. I am certain I’ll reread it soon. The is structured in the following Chapters: The No That Chooses Life The No That Brings True Love, Creativity, and Abundance The No to Phony Storytelling The No to the Angers of the Past The No to Scarcity The No to Noise The No to “Me” The book commences with a Bill of Rights: the Right to Defend Your Life, the Right to Healthy Relationships and Real Love, the Right to Use Your talents and Allow Abundance into Your Life, the Right to Assert What You Want, the Right to Choose What Stories You Believe In, the Right to Take Your Time, the Right to Be Honest, Above All, with Yourself, the Right to an Abundant and Fulfilled Life, the Right to be Here Now, the Right to Silence, the Right to Surrender.

The authors have the perfect explanation on “Why this book is for You”. The book goes into the seven levels of No, “from the very gross energies involved in protecting our bodies, our lives, and our basic boundaries to the more subtle energies that, when channeled well through the Power of No, bring about real love and compassion, to the highest levels of discrimination and wisdom, that sprout from being exactly who we are”.The-Power-of-No

Powerful things I collected as precious wisdom: “Being grateful is the bridge between the world of nightmares and the world where we are free to say no”. “Sometimes it’s important to do less in order to attract abundance”, as authors are adepts of minimalism. Complaining is a No: stop complaining to see opportunities. When to say no to rules: the power of no is the power of discernment. Authors give a road map, including the reason for cultivating compassion for your own sake. Exercise daily your idea muscle. Otherwise it atrophies just like any other muscle. Squandering physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health brings loss on all accounts. “Being clear about which relationships and which people we let into our lives is the key to access our creative forces”.

The book suggests quite a few practices/exercises. My favourites include (a) sending letters or emails of gratitude to anyone who have done you a favour as an abundance practice, (b) how to say No to stress, (c) keys to stop negative chatter, (d) the daily practice to get off the floor, (e) who is your inner circle?, (f) where did my creativity go?, (g) how to get unstuck, (h) what thoughts are useful or unuseful or how to separate yourself from your brain, (i) burn the excuses (I cannot change, I have too many responsibilities, what would they say….), (j) the no-complaints diet, (k) taming the over-thinking mind and many others.

I tend to disagree on one point with the authors, i.e. the employment. I can stay centred being employed and/or be intrapreneurial even in a corporate culture.

I loved the concept of “Homo luminous” this book introduced. It felt indeed enlightening.

The simple art of confidence


I remember my younger days when I was confident enough to walk into the woods all alone, to get into dark cellars, to pass through a cattle herd, to travel unaccompanied by bus to my grandmother.
These experiences taught me to trust. To trust my instincts. To sharpen them. To trust people. To believe I am safe.
My trust in Life moved me into untested waters. It helped me pioneer things unheard of in my family. It made me unsettled and unsettling. It made my parents ask one day “Who’s child are you?”. “Life’s” is my answer.
My confidence grew to heights where high winds are unsettling. Doubt settled in. It brought my spirits down. “Down to earth”, as the convention says. Not for long though. Once I tasted the sweetness of freedom from doubt, freedom from fear, doubt could only be a visiting guest.
My last year birthday wishes from my colleagues read “Happy to have such a confident colleague!”. I am thankful they let me see the way they see me. Especially, after a year of doubts, lows and struggles.
Some think confidence is built-in, genetic. Some think it’s about habits and choice. Might be both.
I am happy to share the ingredients of my confidence.self_confidence A. I know that fear and doubt are good signs. They save me from complacency and push my boundaries. I know I made it last time and there is no reason I cannot do better.
B. I say a polite “No, thank you” to my comfort zone. I have a public speech anxiety? I’ll ask my manager to book 15 min in our next meeting for an intervention. Once on the agenda, noblesse oblige.
C. I breath. I listen to my body. Its signs. I feel my heart racing? Good. My brain and body get more oxygen.
D. I move. I am relentless. I get things done. procrastination? Fine, allowed sometimes. Bothering? Get off my ass and do something. Bake. Prepare home-made chocolate. Water my plants. Go to colleagues and ask if they need help.
E. I have fun. Once I drew a funny faced carrot on a flip chart in a difficult Carrots-and-sticks policy dialogue.
F. Some say confident people don’t care about what others think. I do. As long as I can learn something from it. Confidence in others strengthens my confidence.
One time, I had to share the feedback from an important partner with a consultant. It was very good to excellent. I handed it over in a sealed envelope with a grave face. “Is it bad?” He asked. “Yes, it is”, I answered and watched him turning red as he took off the papers. One minute later: “I knew you are bad. But you are very bad!” And we laughed. I took his point. Confidence does not need to be associated with bad.
G. I am staying on a judgement-free territory. Judging and gossiping is a waste of time and energy. I give everyone the benefit of doubt, even if this was a hiring mistake.
H. I am resourceful. I know I do not have all the answers, but I have ideas where to look for solutions, whom to ask. I learned this from my first Human Rights professors. “A good lawyer does not need to know the law by heart. Knowing where to find answers makes a good lawyer”. I practice the same with people I work with. There are clear “Who’s monkey is this?” rules and I always ask if problems people face come with solutions and options to consider together.
I. Comparison is the thief of joy. I admit to the sin of comparison only with better and seek inspiration from most unexpected sources and people.
J. I build a network of friends and supporters. Sorry, negative perspectives and people with tendency to drag back are not part of it. I also know I cannot please everyone in life.
K. I do it my way. It’s my life and I am solely responsible for choices I make. I do not go with the flow. Everyone goes to the same doctor. I’ll choose the one I trust. Everyone follows the same baptism ritual. I’ll agree mine with the priest. I’ ll listen to my child first, then to my doctor.
L. I keep trying. A failure? Good. Learned something. A mistake? Is it an interesting mistake? Oh yes, come in, and teach me. I am ready to try again.

Thank you Alden Tan for inspiration.

Boys. Girls. Girls. Boys


-Mami, would you have liked me to be a boy?
– I love you, my child.

I was boyish in pre-school and notorious for boy’s companionship in school. My teachers were relentless in attempting to persuade me to play with girls, dolls and the like. Harder they tried, higher I got on trees, roofs and closer to boys I became. I wonder what impact this had on them, boys that is. Certainly, in my case it removed any gender barriers that might have been culturally implanted in my head. And there were plenty. My pre-school teachers would remove me from boys’ party with “go play with girls”. Their “Mother-daughter” play was sinfully boring to my childhood energy. I preferred Kozaki-Razboiniki, hide-and-seek, trees climbing and the like. That left marks on my skin. My brain also learned how not to fight just because of the gender difference, how to make allies, how to give and take in a world of equals. I was a boy when I needed to. I was a girl when I needed to. I still juggle roles. And I love it. Because I am human, with all that it takes.1303140068

I often get from other parents a gender based feedback. “You are lucky, she is a girl. Girls behave like this. My son cannot do it because he is a boy”. My response is constant “her gender is irrelevant. Her behaviour would be the same if she would be a boy”. When offered a a “girls toy or game”, my first reaction is “would you buy it for a boy?”. Kids mirror parents’ attitudes and internalize immediately any labels you stick on them. Furthermore,
a new study, which relies on an unusually large sample of 31,000 people, has found that cognitive differences between men and women are not largely a result of their genes. Rather, living standards and access to education probably bears far more responsibility for men outperforming women on tests of numeracy, for instance. The results suggest that, to a degree hitherto unacknowledged, such cognitive differences are learnt from the roles a society expects males and females to perform.