The New Year is here. We all get excited about new things- they hold a promise for new opportunities, renewal and thrilling surprises.
But sometimes reality doesn`t materialize according to our expectations and the grass is not so much greener on the other side. So how do we keep the energy up in rough times?
For me the key is two-fold. On the first place it is about staying connected to universal truths that matter to us and not getting carried away by external forces pulling us away from our true selves. And of course- stay inspired. Inspiration animates our souls, and gives us a healthy boost; it is through inspiration that we get all those great ideas that ignite the spark to act and change our lives. And trust me- inspiration is everywhere- you can find it a book, in a beautiful picture, inspiring act or even in silence. It is all about paying attention and being opened.
This is exactly the idea of the “Stay True and Inspired” series – to share pieces of inspiration that make us remember/ smile/think and uplift us. So we can all have a year that inspires us to live our life in a way that makes us feel truly alive.
The day started as a typical working day with no major signs of inspiration on the way. But as usual, it came just in time in the form of beautiful blossomed trees in Westerpark!
Earlier I`ve shared more about the Bulgarian tradition celebrated on the 1st of March ( you can read more about it here ). Well, the time has come to take off my Martenitsas according to the tradition. And there she is, surrounded by blossoms, a hand made evidence of our Bulgarian culture, identity and a never-ending reminder of the power of tradition! What bigger inspiration than that do we need? 🙂
When starting the “Stay true and inspired” series I was energized to build momentum and also to discipline myself to post every day. My frustration with the server crash that has made the webpage inaccessible for the last few days was beyond words – “Nothing like this has happened since I started the blog. Why now!?”
Well. It happens. And experiencing it made me realize something very important- it just doesn’t make any sense to brag about it and to let it stop me from following my plan. What makes sense is to think of solutions. And here it is – sharing my posts in Facebook works perfectly fine for the time being.
There are things to worry about and things to let go. The ones which we can`t control belong to the second category. It`s like a mental garbage bin where you through your mental trash. My lesson and inspiration for today is to practice throwing the wasteful worried thoughts in the bin and focus on the solutions.
The idea for the “Stay True and Inspired” series came up super spontaneously and my intention is to also be spontaneous with the writing of the daily posts. I am not planning to do pre-work, but would rather like to share the stories as they unfold. Because I believe the “right here and now” are what truly matters.
My spontaneous approach seemed to work over the last few days, but today I`ve been experiencing a sort of a writers` block which discouraged me and made me question if I can really pull this idea off…
And then it happened. I looked outside the window and saw the snow! The long awaited, white, soft beautiful snow covering the earth like a soft woolen blanket!! The same snow that you see on the picture. What more does anyone need than to make a cup of tea and enjoy the view?
If only I had trusted the way events would have unfolded today, my day so far would have been a lot lighter. This is what I will practice today – trust. I remembered John Lennon`s quite just in time to turn it into the perfect ending:
But sometimes, and we have all been there – there is a friend who needs a favor, but on that day and time you need to go to work, there is another plan and the most intuitive answer would be “I can`t make it.Sorry!”.
I have been in a similar situation years ago, this time on the receiving side- I was abroad on a student trip and needed to urgently go to a hospital, but it happened that all the people around me had important plans that they could not come with me. No need to tell you how that felt.
I`ve afterwards decided that the best way to make a difference is to learn from the experience and not to be like this and I`ve tried to stick to it even when I have plans, I am busy and seemingly nothing can be done. This is how today went – instead of following the plan that I`ve made I chose to spend time with a dear friend who needed my presence.
Being present does not discriminate between weekends and weekdays. Between having the time or not. Being present allows us to exercise an important power that we have- the power of choosing to breaking the circle of plans and obligations and making time for what matters.
But very often it doesn`t come some naturally and is not there in the moments we need it. So how do we find it? This is a something that I`m reflecting upon quite often and I can share three observations:
The first of them is a quote from a very dear friend who helped me reconnect to the artist within and who once told me “Inspiration is like a diarrhea, it doesn`t come often, but when it does- it`s unstoppable”. This is super valid for me and I`ve learned that when it comes it is best to take advantage of it while it lasts. It was one of those instances of being taken over inspiration when the Christmas tree on the picture came to life.
The second one is that the more opened to the world around me, the more inspired I get. New information, places, new activities, new experiences and even foods enrich us and help us develop and grow.
I am sure that all of us have their own sources of creativity and inspiration deep within and we just need to tap into them by simply engaging in activities that we enjoy and getting in their flow. The art of going for what brings you joy can be an immense enabler of creativity if we allow it to.
With that being said- I am wishing you and myself a creative and inspired week ahead!
It has surely happened to all of us to have been mistreated – do you remember the rude person who pushed you while passing by, the cranky cashier who snarled at you while you were looking for your change or the colleague who rolled their eyes when you were telling a story. Everyone has a few (or maybe many) examples of these situations when we felt wronged and inevitably developed one or another negative emotion towards the person who did it. In those occasions we tend to label these people as “assholes”, “morons” and whatever other names come to our minds as means to separate them- “the bad ones” from us- “the good ones”.
But if we turn the mirror around and look at ourselves we`ll be able to also pinpoint the times when we were “the assholes”. The times when we judged a friend, screamed at our partner or were simply rude with a perfect stranger who pushed us by accident. Are we then “the bad ones”?
Today my during my class in Svaha Yoga the teacher shared a brilliant insight that is linked to this:
“Feel good. Be good. Do good”
A common underlying factor of all situations when we didn`t behave at our best is the that we didn`t feel good- we were often tired, overwhelmed or stressed out (or sometimes just hungry 🙂 ). Can you think of an example when you acted poorly, but were feeling great? No, right? In the same way, can we assume that others who mistreated us could also have been overtaken by negative emotions and were suffering in one way or another?
This leads us to two pieces of food for thought closely linked to compassion. The first one is to try to overcome the tendency to feel victimized when being wronged and rather than reciprocating the aggression and negativity to see the “bad ones” as the ones who are suffering. To have compassion for others.
While reading the “Happiness Hypothesis” today I stumbled upon a quote by Aristotle:
“Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just; by doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave.”
It sounds very logical that we learn skills by practicing them, but somehow in our minds that doesn’t transcend to developing qualities in ourselves. Very often when we react in a way that is not the best we say”that’s how I am”, ” can’t change” but that is completely not true. We are alive and a part of this is our bodies changing constantly. Our thoughts as well. That means that our behavours, attitudes and qualities can change. And just how empowering is that!
So next time when you are not happy with yourself, instead of feelings bad and hopeless- remember that you can always improve and become a better version of you. And give it a try 🙂
For more insights from the ‘Happiness Hypothesis” – have a look here 🙂
One of those things for me is spending time outside and just walking around. Ideally, it would be nature (the less human involvement, the better 😉 ), but a beautiful city walk is something that works perfectly fine as well!
Funny enough, it is always difficult to make myself go out- there are always plenty of things to be done and never enough time, so often need to “push” myself.. But it always pays off. Especially today. There are few sights that are more energizing and inspiring than the canals in Amsterdam surrounded by early spring green! It is a good day.
Focusing on yourself is an art and a form of a self-care (more about it- here). One of the practical ways to do this is to explore the power of silence.
The conventional ways to perceive silence is as absence of external noise. But in its essence it is much more than this- it transcends beyond the external to reach our core and to manifest itself into silence of the mind and a feeling of piece.
Spending time in silence is therefore not so much about staying in a noise-free place, but about keeping your mind silent.
Silence allows you to connect to yourself and to hear yourself. Silence also helps you to unleash your creativity and to generate new ideas.
It gives you the space to observe your thoughts, to take distance from them and to change the ones that are taking energy away from you, such as worry, fear and anger.
Spending time in silence is one of the most challenging endeavors- there never seems to be time, it makes us sleepy, and it is something that we need to do alone. Indeed, nobody can do it for us.
The power of practice is in your hands and it is also one of the best investments that we can make. Give it a try!
More about my experience with a ten-day silent meditation called Vipassana – here.