I must confess I felt the stress this afternoon. Specially because a last minute obligation came along. You know how it’s like, every time we decide to take on a challenge, to change something that needs changing, something comes along, just like we needed the added pressure. I guess that is what separates the making from the breaking.
I was returning a bookto a friend of mine and, on the way to his house, I decided to flip it through it. I had not read it, nor is the topic related to my post, but I found funny that I landed on page with the following quote from a middle school student:
“To be under stress,
To have a mess,
To sit ‘n’ hide.
I am happy to clean my mind.
Thank you so much for helping me stress”.
Middle school student.
Very appropriate for the moment. 30 day challenges are about adding a bit of ‘good stress’ to life. The type of stress we know it’s needed, but we keep avoiding. The problem isn’t the stress, I reckon, the problem is choosing to be affected by it. As my good friend and mindfulness expert, Gustavo Cestari, usually says: “Just acknowledge it, and sit with it.”
Anyway, shall we?
Some 8 years ago, I started questioning whether it was possible to feel constantly happier and engaged. I realised there were instances when time stopped and everything seemed to flow naturally, these were moments of happiness. Furthermore, I realised those instances were mostly outside work and I thought that sucked! I guess we don’t need a rocket scientist to figure out we spend a very large portion of our adult life working. Happy and engaged only outside work? That did not make any sense.
So, was there a solution to this problem? I questioned the people I knew, but most of them, if not all, did not have an answer. Some suggested I read self development books. The problem was that most books I found were full of subjective airy-fairy stuff. Most of them didn’t make sense to me. After all, I come from a family of very critical people, it would be a ‘crime’ to my heritage to believe it was all about repeating to yourse
lf: “I love myself, I love myself, ….” until you believed it.
Anyway, let’s cut the story short.
I’ve learned living is mostly an inner-game (a self-talk game driven by motives, beliefs and past experiences) and the actions that are a result of it. If we want change and evolve, we should start by learning the person who is running the show – YOURSELF!
How to learn more than what you already know about you? I recommend self-reflection combined with personality assessments. I also suggest YOGA and any form of mindfulness meditation. If you leave in the Gold Coast, I know someone I can recommend to help you take the mindful path. Results guaranteed !
If you are interested in the scientific validated stuff, rather than the airy-fairy, there are a few assessments I found quite helpful (always make sure you study the theory behind the tests so you know how to interpret them). These are my suggestions: Myers Briggs Type Indicator; The Enneagram; StrengthsFinder 2.0; DISC Profile; Theory of Multiple Intelligences; and the best of all, VIA Survey of Character Strengths. The later, comes from a branch of Psychology called: Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is know as the ‘science of happiness’ . There is lots to learn from it. The work of its founder, Dr. Martin Seligman, and Dr Christopher Peterson, was quite life changing to me. Seligman and Peterson, believe psychology should be more than just the study of mental diseases, it should also be about the study of historical virtues and character strengths. These are an avenue to help people evolve towards their highest potential, so they say.
Studying Positive Psychology was beneficial because it made me understand how important it is to apply our perceived character strengths and virtues almost on a daily basis. We are happier and more engaged when we do so (see this ted talk). Even at work, believe it or not! Actually, we can design our job/day around them (I’ve been trying it).
I strongly recommend you have a look on the “Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification”, known as “the manual of Sanities”, and I recommend you take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths here, find your top 5 strengths and share your
thoughts with us. There are a few videos on their youtube channel for you to watch.
A throughout self-reflection helps highlighting the best in you (and the worse). Choose to focus and to maximise the best. Live the best daily. Live the combination of strengths and unique abilities you know you have. Don’t ignore what you are not good at, be aware of it, but be careful not to design your life around it. If you design your life around the best, you will find that, slowly, the worse becomes insignificant. So small that it does not bother you.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any suggestion on how we can better understand ourselves and take control over the self-talk that drives us? If so, I would love to hear them.
If life is an endless inner-game, any idea to improve our performance is welcome.
Thanks for listening.