10 Recipes for Guaranteed Unhappiness

Over the past few years I learnt that there are no accidental encounters and there are no moments, however mundane, which cannot be turned into a lesson or a source of inspiration. Today I had the gift of such a meeting and such a moment. One of my workshop participants, with whom I discovered I had common interests and even common friends, was telling me over lunch about Luminița, the author of the popular blog Purpose Fairy, a fine place where I often go for inspiration. We ended up talking about an article she wrote — “15 things you should give up in order to be happy”, which I hadn’t read (yet), but whose message resonated with me and a thought I have been having lately: How come we keep getting lost on our way to happiness and yet many of us are masters in the “art” of unhappiness?  After this talk and reading that article I realized I have no idea if there is any formula for happiness, but I could easily come up with a list of recipes for unhappiness. It’s becoming clearer and clearer, in my work with people, that fulfillment, inner peace and joy can be achieved in countless ways. I know what makes me happy but I could hardly offer that as a general rule for others. I read so many books — scientific, psychological, spiritual — each taught me something valuable. I help people experiment with happiness every day, I can make suggestions, offer perspectives, but I cannot tell anyone what they should do to be happy. Along the way I learnt so much about happiness, but was left with few, if any, certainties. Today I realised, as a revelation, that on my search for happiness I’ve come across some (I could call them) certainties on unhappiness. I have met and continue to meet so many unhappy people every day that I dare say I have unintentionally become a sort of an expert in the most effective ways one could render oneself completely, profoundly...

read more

Celebrating the Magic of Life

May 05, 13 Celebrating the Magic of Life

Posted by in Featured, Thoughts/Ideas

Are there days when you feel completely happy with no special reason? Days when it seems as if you are a child once more and a Cosmic Santa Claus wrapped up the whole world as a special gift just for you? Today was such a day for me. As I sat on the beach lost in the sight of the swirling ocean I fell into a state of grace and complete joy for life itself. I was is awe of the sun, the sand, the waves, the birds singing in the palm trees above my head, the people laughing and playing on the beach, enjoying the day as I was. I was unbelievably grateful for it all. I gave thanks for my loved ones, for the smiles, for the playfulness, for the passion, for the sense of purpose, for all there is in my life that makes it worth living. Today I felt the MAGIC. The magic of life itself. I felt life is like a huge playground inviting me to let out my inner child, a spark of light in the vastness of nothingness, an amazing opportunity the Universe is giving me to exist, to breathe, to build, to  feel, to grow, to give away something of myself into the world. I felt this opportunity itself is magical and every single day is truly a precious gift that should be enjoyed and cherished. Perhaps it’s not by chance that I had this feeling of bliss today of all days. For all of you celebrating Easter as a time of rebirth, this may be a reminder. We are reborn with the dawn of every new day. Don’t let the shadows of yesterday creep into today. Every single morning is a new chance to live differently, to choose to connect to that magic, to look at the world with the bright, innocent eyes of a child, to take nothing for granted and to be grateful for every opportunity to live beautifully. I leave you now with...

read more

Kindness and the Magical Equation

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness” – Dalai Lama This is one of my favourite quotes in the whole world. These days I had new opportunities to think about the extraordinary gift of kindness and the miracles it can do for our lives. I have come to believe that all people are fundamentally good. You don’t need to agree with me – I am aware this is a very controversial topic – but it is my model of the world and I choose to share it with you here. I believe we all have light inside of us and we are all capable of amazing things. We are all absolutely wonderful in the beginning, as any adult looking at a small child can easily notice. What happens later on? How do we become embittered, egoistical, cruel, depressed, aggressive, victimised, dependant, demanding, judgemental, impatient, jealous, unforgiving and unloving of ourselves and of others? Where do all these states and feelings come from? It is obvious they don’t make us happy, it is clear as daylight they destroy relationships, families, self-esteems and yet we bring them into our lives and perpetuate them for years, sometimes for a whole lifetime. We end up hurting ourselves and those we love. We end up angry and lonely and wondering why life can’t be easier. Yet we are blinded to the fact that it is us, and nobody else, making our own lives hard. Our disappointment in others in nothing but a reflection of our disappointment in ourselves. Our anger and judgement against others is, in the end, just the shadow of our anger and judgement against our own faults, mistakes and perceived weaknesses.  It is my belief that it all starts with parents projecting their own unsolved emotional issues on their children. It all starts with an adult caught up in what psychologists call “the drama triangle” and I personally call “the dreaded triangle“. It is the triad of roles most adults tend to adopt in...

read more

Peeking Through the Keyhole at Life

I was talking to a friend the other day about the amazing studies on human consciousness which show that only 400 bits of information/second reach our conscious mind out of a staggering 2 million bits of information hitting our senses every second! Much of the rest we process unconsciously. That means we are aware of 0.02% of reality every single moment of our lives! It also means we could potentially have access to the rest of 99,8%, if only we learnt how.    I found it brain bending to grasp the real implications of this. It is as if we were peeking through a keyhole at reality and we are not even aware of it. Moreover, most people live their lives convinced that their perception of reality IS reality. And they strive to convince everyone around them of the same thing. The fact that the limitations of our conscious mind allow us to perceive a small portion of what actually lies in front of us is just the beginning. To this we add a host of limiting beliefs that plague our consciousness and make that keyhole even smaller than it actually is. Many of them come from education, others we simply adopted unconsciously along the way, as a response to life’s challenges. Here are just a few of the most common limiting beliefs I have heard of or have or had myself: – I am not good enough – This is how things MUST be – Life is unfair and there’s nothing you can do about it – Every good thing in life comes with suffering and hardship – you can never separate them – I simply am not as lucky as other people – It’s too late to change anything And, my favourite one: I don’t have time! The list could go on and on. We all have limiting beliefs and most of us are seldom aware of them consciously. They distort our view of reality and what is truly possible, making our...

read more

Man’s Search for Meaning

This is the title of one of my favourite books of all time, written by Viktor Frankl, a great mind and a remarkable human being, who survived the worst of the Holocaust only to come to the conclusion that, even in the worst of circumstances, we are still free to choose our destiny. Frankl was an Austrian Jew, a professor with a more than promising career in psychiatry, who refused an offer to emigrate to the US when the Second World War broke out because his parents had not been granted permission to leave Austria and he felt he couldn’t abandon them. This brave choice led him to a gruelling 3 year journey in the Nazi death camps, where he sat next to his father as he died and then lost both his wife and mother. He survived through a combination of unique attitude and a series of fortunate circumstances, or, as some may say, dumb luck – although I believe there was nothing dumb about his luck. He witnessed people becoming noting more than animals in their fierce struggle for survival in the camps. Inmates torturing inmates or robbing them of their last piece of bread only to prolong their own existence a little while more. But, amazingly, he also witnessed people becoming heroes, creating a meaning for themselves in that meaningless circumstance by helping others, often at a risk or even at the cost of their own lives. What is the difference between them? Between the brutes and the heroes?  His answer to this was that we, humans, have both these potentials in us. We can become brutes or heroes and the only thing that creates this difference is our own free will. We have a choice. Even when all other freedoms have been taken away from us, he said, we can still choose our attitude in front of those circumstances.  Frankl’s legacy to mankind, which he built in his very long life post death-camps (he lived to be 92 years old)...

read more