Facing Unhappiness

Why do people get resigned to being unhappy? Why do so many vehemently deny their own unhappiness and stubbornly convince themselves that everything is ok? Or worse, why do beautiful, resourceful people get stuck in the role of the victim and keep on saying that they have just been unlucky in life or that they are now paying for their old mistakes and nothing can be done about it? I have lived in the first category – of those unaware of their own unhappiness – for a long time. I have met and worked with countless in the second category – aware and resigned to being unhappy. The “WHY” in all this still intrigues me. Over the years, my own and others’ experience has brought some interesting answers, which I’m now sharing with you, inviting you to reflect on them. 1. The known unhappiness is much better than the unknown – whatever that “unknown” may be “I have many problems in my relationship, but at least I know my partner, with all the good and the bad. Who knows what other misfortunes I might run into if I leave?“ – this is the staple statement of those who choose to keep their current status-quo, although it makes them miserable, out of fear of the unknown. Not knowing what the future may bring might be scarier than suffering in the present moment. Actually, some hugely interesting experiments where volunteers agreed to receive mild to severe electric shocks, show that people prefer feeling severe pain now than expecting milder pain at some random moment in the future. The idea that pain, even mild one, might come unexpectedly, was simply scarier than the certainty of pain in the present moment. This explains why so many people are scared to leave their dead-end jobs or relationships. It doesn’t make these people right though. If you knew for certain that your brain is trying to trick you by painting the future in scary terms just to prevent you from...

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Life Equations: Gentle self-honesty x Congruence = Authenticity

What I have noticed lately in many people whom I meet through my work or otherwise is a deep desire to live more authentic lives. Two years ago it would have been unheard of for a workshop participant to mention “spiritual evolution”, “self-discovery” or “self-acceptance” as his personal objective for the seminar. To make things clear, I am not talking about workshops with a specific spiritual theme, but about workshops taking place in a corporate environment, whose participants are managers and whose subjects range from “leadership” to “coaching”. I cannot tell you how glad I am, however, to be hearing such aspirations from people attending our workshops. I am even happier at the end of the 2 or 3 days we spend together, when they say they feel that the experience we shared together has brought them one step close to that goal. Apart from my joy of seeing people’s increasing preoccupation for their inner universe, I have started to pay attention to the ways people who actually progress quickest towards self-actualization are able to achieve that progress. And what I noticed is something very interesting, that I’d like to share with you and get your opinions and perspectives on. I noticed there are many paths people take towards increasing their own happiness, self-understanding and self-development. I chose to analyze two, which I find most interesting. One is gathering as much information as possible. These are those people who read a lot, are preoccupied by spirituality, psychology and all other subjects that promise to bring them closer to themselves and their purpose in this world. While most of these self-taught people are fascinating to talk to and an inexhaustible source of knowledge for anyone curious enough to ask them what they know, there is one thing that seems to be holding, at least some of them back: their reluctance to actually live what they are reading about. It is as if these curious minds are afraid to put theory into practice, to experience what...

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A Trip to Wonderland

Aug 13, 11 A Trip to Wonderland

Posted by in Featured, Thoughts/Ideas

It took me days to get started on this post. I simply felt I had so much to say and no inspiration of putting this experience into words that would do it justice. A lot has happened lately – not necessarily so much on the outside, but on the inside of me. I fell like I’ve just gone through a storm of amazing insights prompted by a host of diverse experiences I’ve had in the past few weeks. Today I’ll just stop and write about one such experience that marked me in more ways than one. It’s a trip I’ve taken last week, to a place in the middle of the mountains, a hidden haven at the heart of Romania, one that I had never visited before in any of my trips. The place is called Plaiul Foii and it’s a real Wonderland, a sunny clearing surrounded by fir trees and emerald grass. How did I get there? I was invited by my friends in CROS (Centrul de Resurse pentru Organizatii Studentesti) – an organization run by some of the most passionate people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. This handful of young people have dedicated all their creativity, time and energy to one goal – changing the education system in Romania. Their ultimate goal is to create the first alternative university in the country. In the meantime, they run a yearly alternative education program for members of student organizations, where every participant has the chance to choose, autonomously, among a variety of educational resources and options. It’s a self-directed learning program where CROS creates the learning framework and the participants decide how to navigate it. Every year, CROS kick off their education program in a week-long camp, where all participants, old and new, along with mentors from the business and NGO world gather for a Relating, Learning, Playing, Sharing and Planning/Dreaming marathon, where every day is dedicated to one of these 5 themes. This year, for the second time, Plaiul Foii was...

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Three Fascinating Life Lessons on Turning Adversity into Greatness

I have come to believe that life brings our way those people, contexts or stories that best serve us in whatever stage of personal development we might be going through at that particular moment. All we need to do is pay attention and learn. This is precisely what I did in the past few weeks, when, thanks to some of my friends who generously shared stories that moved them, or thanks to my sheer curiosity, I stumbled upon three people who, I believe, might teach us all a powerful lesson on courage, greatness and the amazing capacity for turning adversity into opportunity, which we all have inside, but most of us ignore much of the time. I decided to share these three stories with you, hoping that you too will find them inspirational and that they will manage to stop you in your tracks and think about your life, your own challenges and inner strengths in a whole new light. The first story is that of an athlete, actor and activist -Aimee Mullins. Because she was born without fibular bones, she had her legs amputated below the knees when she was just 1 year old. If you think that stopped her from leading an extraordinary life, then you’d be dead wrong. She went on to become an Olympic Athlete and set a world record in running in the Paralympics in Atlanta, as well as being a double major (History and Diplomacy) from Georgetown University. And she didn’t stop there – she became a model, walking the runway for Alexander McQueen, an actor and currently advocates the latest trends in prosthetic development. She has 12 pairs of legs, most of which are real works of art, and gives inspiring talks about the amazing power for greatness we all have. She managed to turn disability into beauty, weakness into strength, helplessness into empowerment. You can read more about her story here. And do watch her wonderful speech at TED below: [youtube JQ0iMulicgg]   The second story...

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Three Great Lessons Children Teach Businesspeople

Feb 07, 11 Three Great Lessons Children Teach Businesspeople

Posted by in Thoughts/Ideas

During the years I’ve been training hundreds of people from various companies I noticed a pattern that seems emerge every time when a group of 12 adults or more are brought together to learn something new, regardless of subject. People seem to have an urge to play that they fight very hard to keep under control, because apparently it’s not “professional”, but which seems to wait for just the right opportunity to manifest itself. For example, I always give my seminar participants something to keep their hands busy while their minds are immersed in learning – an anti-stress ball or a funny pen, or, the star of the show – colored molding clay. The joy these small toys create and the creativity that is unleashed when given the opportunity to mold bear no connection with the status of the participants. People of all ages and professions seem to enjoy playing just the same – that is A LOT! I have proof of this in the form of two gorgeous cherries molded out of clay by a CFO, which sit proudly on my desk, alongside a cute green cappuccino cup created by a 20 something IT whizz. So what if people like to play with molding clay? What’s the point in writing about this? – You might wonder just about now. Actually, the point is that this “hunger for play” and the extraordinary creativity people exhibit when given the chance might actually be harnessed for more “serious” and “business like” purposes. This whole thing got me thinking about all those childhood joys that we seem to lose somewhere on the way to becoming grown-ups and that we later in life reject as “not befitting an adult”. Maybe there is a reason why we behave a certain way when we are small and maybe, just maybe, it’s wrong to leave all that behind when we grow up. Is it possible that holding on to some of that “childish” stuff might actually have tangible benefits? Learning from...

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