Category Archives: Self-Nurturing

Shining on a rainy day

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– Happy Birthday! I greeted my colleague the morning of her B-day. I wish you all the very best. 

– Thank you. I wish for a better weather than this, she said pointing at the dark grey sky outside in disapointment. 

– YOU ARE shining, I responded. 

– This is the nicest thing i was told in a long time. And she shone even more. 

Let it rain. Shine. 

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How to be 1% Better Every Day – re-post

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View story at Medium.com

we want it all. we want it today. the wanting mind becomes the master… you know the rest of the story. there are many ‘how to’ out there. this is simply one that resonates with me.

How to be 1% Better Every Day (The Kaizen Approach to Self-improvement)

“Compounding is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.” — Albert Einstein

The quest to become a better version of yourself often feels like a roller coaster ride. It’s hard. And it’s usually so uneven. You can end in failure. But life is a journey, not a marathon, so you always have another opportunity to restart and improve.

Many people practically look out for secrets, tricks, and hacks that will make EVERYTHING better right now. But unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. There are no “overnight successes”. Think of all the incredible people you truly admire. They didn’t succeed becasue of one giant move, but rather a series of small and consistent actions over time.

Stop aiming for radical personal change!

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” — Stephen Covey

A magic bullet cannot save you! You’ve got to embrace the process and enjoy it. You can’t escape the hard work it takes to get better. Every incredibly successful person you know today has been through the boring, mundane, time-tested process that eventually brings success. So, stop looking for “quick hacks” that bring faster results.

Instead of reading every self-improvement post for the one golden tip that will make you superhumanly efficient, focus on doing the actual work that needs to be done. You can inspire yourself to take action. The hard, long process is the only way though. You can’t achieve tremendous life success with a quick fix. Nobody gets it that easy.

Your big, audacious goals are not inspiring you!

“Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.” — Helmut Schmidt

Your attempt to be better usually ends in failure because you life-changing goals overwhelm you into inaction instead of inspiring you into action. Unrealistic goals make it insanely difficult to make any progress. You will get “stressed” over what is supposed to help you take action.

Your performance and ability to get things done is inextricably bound to brain performance. A big, audacious goal looks scary to your brain. And when your brain encounters scary, it goes into “freeze” mode. You don’t want that. If you constantly overstretch yourself, you will lose the required energy you need to take the necessary action to get better.

Setting a goal, no mater how simple is always the easy part. Everyone has goals. The real challenge is not determining if you want the result, but if you are willing to accept the sacrifices required to achieve your goals.

If you want to achieve your goals at all times, create a system that works. Instead of a goal, design a great system or process. That way, you will always win. Even when your short-term goals are achieved, your next goal won’t be a struggle. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process makes a huge difference.

James Clear explains:

We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.

Self-improvement is not a destination!

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily”— Mike Murdock

Learning should not end after formal education. Lifelong learning, the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge can enrich your life and make you a better person every day.

Self-improvement isn’t a destination. You’re never done. Even if you have some success, and you want to maintain it, you have to keep doing the things you were doing that got you that success in the first place.

Your first step to improving your life and becoming the best version of your self won’t be easy. Nobody can promise you that things will be easy but they will get better. It pays to take a small action–any action–and grow from there. Remember, you are better off trying and crawling than anyone else who isn’t trying.

The Kaizen Approach and how it works

“Little strokes fell great oaks.” –Benjamin Franklin

Kaizen — Japanese for continuous improvement

It was developed by Depression-era American business management theorists in order to build the arsenal of democracy that helped the U.S. win World War II. The Japanese took to the idea of small, continual improvement right away and gave it a name: Kaizen — Japanese for continuous improvement.

While Kaizen was originally developed to help businesses improve and thrive, it’s just as applicable to our personal lives.

The idea here is to focus on consistent improvements in your life, every day, not matter how small the step you take to be a better you than you were yesterday.

According to Brett and Kate McKay of The Art of Manliness:

“Instead of trying to make radical changes in a short amount of time, just make small improvements every day that will gradually lead to the change you want. Each day, just focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve. That’s it. Just 1%.

It might not seem like much, but those 1% improvements start compounding on each other. In the beginning, your improvements will be so small as to seem practically nonexistent. But gradually and ever so slowly, you’ll start to notice the improvements in your life. It may take months or even years, but the improvements will come if you just focus on consistently upping your game by 1%.”

Here is why Kaizen works

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.” — John Wooden

The Kaizen approach is a reminder that all improvements must be maintained if we wish to secure consistent gains. Think of the smallest step you can take every day that would move you incrementally towards your goal.

Becoming 1% better every day is a simple, practical way to achieve big goals. 1% seems like a small amount. Yes, it is. It’s tiny. It’s easy. It’s doable. And it’s applicable in most things you want to do or accomplish.

It feels less intimidating and is more manageable. It might feel less exciting than chasing a huge win, but its results will be stronger and more sustainable.

If you enjoyed this post, you will love Postanly Weekly. It’s my FREE weekly digest of the best productivity, career and self improvement posts from around the web. It challenges you to become the best version of yourself.

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

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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

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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. http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/11-things/

My Horse Lessons

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The year of the horse is almost gone. It may stay a bit longer though, if I stick to the Chinese calendar. It was more of a herd year. It brought plenty. It had the grace of a Friesian horse. It had the strength of a Belgian draft horse. It had the speed of a racing horse. It had the lightness of a Paso Fino. It was a year of learning. Both academic and life learning.???????????????????????????????????????????????????

I learned about the healing power of forgiveness through one phone call I learned the happiness of ignoring the buzz. Both internal and external. More they tried, more ignorant I became. Oh, glorious ignorance.

I learned that a mentor is very much human. He can make mistakes an apprentice would not make and he can still stay my mentor.

I learned that pretty anyone can be a mentor, as the experienced barista at my favorite coffee shop smiles at his new colleague’s clumsiness.

I learned that even after 10 years people in civil service go back to what I’ve written for them back then and find it helpful (although this makes me worried about their progress :).

I learned that appreciation comes at most unexpected times and colleagues’ prize for “best coach and support of others” in the organisation are best given in absentia. To my highest delight though.

I learned that a graffiti Christmas tree on a flipchart is best decorated by post-it notes each member of the team writes their wishes on.

I am more environment conscious now. I learned the joy of one item for breakfast.

I learned to enjoy four times less cloths orders this year compared to last year.

I learned that people whom I admire share my admiration to tears of joy.

I learned that my partner is a better lover year after year.

I learned that my child and I can have the same dream and share it in the morning.

I learned that blessing others brings peace to all.

I learned to say goodbye just to say hello to something else the minute after.

I learned the value of a place where my coffee cup waits for me. Always.

I relearned the joy of organizing parties: Butterflies Fairy party in Winter, Strawberry party in Spring, Ratatouille cooking party in Late Summer, Bowling and Art party in Fall….

I learned that a stranger can grow into calling me “mom”.

I learned that a stranger can grow into calling me a “gift”.

I learned to allow myself to feel and let go.

I learned the power of No. With a big smile.

I learned the power of stillness.

I learned the power of vulnerability.

I rejoiced in the thought of what the power of No, the power of stillness and the power of vulnerability can do.

I started to be around only people who love and support me. Reciprocity creates magic.

I learned that confidence comes from fearlessness. Fearlessness comes from faith. Faith comes from freedom.

I hope I was a good life student. I am ready for more. I want to know more. I want to learn to play chess. I want to learn to dance like a pro. I want to learn to swim. I want to do more to help others. I want to explore my 21 year old sexuality. I want to discover the world with my children. I want to prosper in building lasting memories for my loved ones. I want to embrace minimalism; a day a week without consumption is my first small step. I want to learn to heal through compassion. I am open to everything Life brings. Only the best comes my way. These are not New Year’s resolutions. Or maybe they are 🙂

Pledges

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I have a black dress with a beautiful flower print, three quarters sleeves, midi length. I call it my 90s dress. As in “a dress to wear in my 90s”.image

I picture myself in my mid ninetees wearing it with an orange scarf, a flirtish small purse, mid heels, by my partner’s arm, heading to my daughter’s house for an afternoon picnic.

This is my pledge. A pledge to a long, healthy, happy life, surrounded by people with whom I share a commitment to nurturing. I love the feeling this pledge gives. It makes me grateful and wise about how I use my life resources.

I once met a psychiatrist who cautioned me about the way I use my resources, in a period I worked for five big clients simultaneously, under tough tight deadlines. A did not know the word No at that time. From an Yes person, I turned into a robot. The psychiatrist asked me to pay a visit to her hospital. Seeing Mentally alienated people was an wake up call. It showed the bottom which brought in the salvaging perspective. The mind is a servant. Put it to good use and it will serve you. Make it run endless, meaningless errands and it will rebel. Payback time will get tough. The bottom will be quick to hit. Regaining balance will be challenging.

Back to my dress. It was on my “to donate” list. Until its orange flower print gave me that sense of perpetuation. Was it its stand-out orange pattern, with its energising sunny colour? Was it the contrast between black and orange as in a competition for a bet on the bright side of the life? It can be both. It regained now a prominent place in my wardrobe. This pledge is printed out, folded and kept in my diary, as a claim made with an open heart and humility to a long, healthy, prosperious, loving, fulfilling life for the good of all.

Pity and motherhood: do they bond?

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I have written on a number of occasions about mothers vulnerability and my own motherhood journey. E.g. https://lovevonbeautyvonlove.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/working-mothers/

I am child-centered parent and I believe this perspective enables an optimum anchoring into my livelihood. Motherhood, and parenthood for that matter, is not only about us. It’s also about that little human being that has questions, doubts, challenges, ups and downs, as many as we do, or even more sometimes.
I believe in sharing experience in a non-judgemental environment. What sadenns me is when it becomes a mere publicity tool for business interests, even if hidden under a noble “healing” promise, which comes with more side effects than health benefits. Or, what’s even worse, usng vulnerabilities for promoting interests of a particular group with clear net gains. Here is one example of what I mean: “Throwing a new mom pity party” by Kate Rope http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-rope/throwing-a-new-mom-pity-party_b_5022680.html

When things are tough, going extreme is the least helpful approach. Been there. Done that. It made me search for a middle way between “sickeningly hard” and ” constantly cheeriful”. The door to this path had two keys. One was to look at it through my inner child eyes retrospectively. The second key was to look at my motherhood through my own child’s big eyes.

My childhood was harsh, shadowed by meds my mother’s doctors prescribed, out of best intentions probably, with the knowledge and abilities they had at that time. What they missed was that meds effects went beyound her body and mind, spreading into my mind. I know now why people call me tough.
My child will become a parent one day. Would I like her to feel guilty because of my doctor’ s choice to prescribe heavy medication? Would calling my life with “a wife, kids and a house “the full catastrophe”” (quote from Kate Rope) help her grow into a happy, balanced, generous adult? My answer is No.
This perspective brought a doctor into my life who, when prescribing remedies for me, asks about my relationship with my child, and similarly, when prescribing remedies for my child, asks about her relationship with us, her parents.
What I try to always remember is that we, adults, make choices and these choices impact our kids lives to levels we may not even suspect. I choose not to bond with pity on my parenthood path. I choose to bond with empathy and love.