Yesterday I took the train to Ossington station and waited for the bus. I didn’t know the schedule so I stood among 20 other people without a clue how long I would have to wait.
While I was standing there, I got the feeling that the bus must be late because the people around me started getting impatient and upset. In this moment I realized that the only difference between me and the other people was that I didn’t have any thoughts in my mind about when the bus was supposed to arrive.
They were annoyed. I wasn’t, simply because I didn’t know what to expect.
We were all together in the same situation with no control over the arrival of the bus, but their thoughts prevented them from having a good time. The thought that “The bus should be here by now”, was ruining it for them. I, on the other hand, had no expectations. I was looking around staring at a beautiful mural with painted angels and watching two young people flirting with each other.
Now, usually I’m getting annoyed about things too. Anything that doesn’t fit in my agenda has the potential to make me upset. You know this feeling, when you get to work and you’ve already planned your whole day, but your boss has a completely different project for you. Or maybe you're expecting somebody for a visit and the person cancels at the last second. Situations like this happen all the time and they can annoy us or even make us furious.
A friend told me once that her husband deleted an excel sheet by accident and he was so mad at himself that he punched his fist into a wall and broke his hand.
This shows that the more you’re attached to your expectations the more frustrated you are if they don’t match up with reality.
What I realized on this ordinary day at this ordinary bus stop was that every single situation is, per se, neutral.
In this case the situation was: No bus, -10 degrees, 20 people standing on a platform with warm winter jackets. The reactions to this moment differed from being extremely annoyed to being a little impatient to not reacting at all.
I became aware of the fact that your thoughts about any given situation make the situation either positive or negative or in my case neutral because I had no thoughts. I simply enjoyed this moment as it was. You could say I really experienced it, because I wasn’t trapped in my mind thinking about it.
If every moment is neutral, then it’s up to us how we perceive our lives.
This is the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Both experience the same thing, but they choose to have a different perspective about it.
Now, you might consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist, but there is actually a third way to look at life. You can be a “no-ist”.
To have no expectations towards any situation is the most liberating thing you can experience. It means to follow the flow of life without being attached to a particular outcome. It means that you do not perceive life through rose-coloured or black-coloured glasses, but that you take your glasses off and experience this moment.
You transform yourself from being an interpreter to being an experiencer. You look around, you smell the roses, you taste the pies, you experience the people around you, but you don’t take your thoughts too seriously that say: "This moment shouldn’t be." Or "this moment is finally going to make me happy."
Somehow, by accident, I caught a glimpse of what it feels like if you live in a state of no thought. It’s liberating. You don’t get high from a situation like an optimist, but you also don’t get down from a situation like a pessimist. You’re in the middle and you’re inner state is not dependent on the form that this moment takes.
I used to always bounce back and forth between being in a good mood and being in a bad mood depending on the situation that I was in until I realized that it’s so exhausting to live like that.
Sustaining peace in my body and mind is becoming more important to me than experiencing these highs and lows. I still get upset sometimes but that’s usually when I want things to go my way and life wants to go its own way so I’m trying to resist the flow of life. I’m realizing that this is too painful and that it makes no sense to be at war with life no matter what you’re experiencing right now.
The truth is: You’re not a slave to the situation that you’re in. Only if you’re judging this moment with your thoughts do you allow it to have power over you.
Wayne Dyer used to say:
"The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment."
Stop judging this moment as a flower or a weed. It just is what it is. Use it as an opportunity to be present and to go deeper into it.
It is there where you will find aliveness. It is there where you will find peace.
Can I ask you something?
Do you sometimes want to speak your mind but you feel scared how people will react?
Or do you make decisions based on other people's approval just to find yourself in a situation that you regret having said yes to?
Do you feel scared to show people the real you: what you like, what you dislike and what you're dreaming of, because you don't want others to judge you or misunderstand you?
If your answer is YES, you're not fully connected to your authentic self and you don't allow others to see the real YOU.
This can lead to so many uncomfortable situations. For example, you say yes to things you want to say no to, you find yourself in situations where you think,"This is so not me!" You do things that don't bring you joy and you probably overcommit and do more than what feels good to you. I've been there and it really sucks and it can go so far that you're causing yourself not only emotional but also physical pain.
I wrote down 7 QUESTIONS THAT YOU CAN ASK YOURSELF TO RECONNECT TO YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF and I try to ask myself at least one of these questions every single day. They keep me sane and help me to not end up in situations where I think: THIS IS SO NOT ME! HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS?
If you're curious, you can get them here.
I’m a self-observing freak. What does that mean?
I constantly check what makes me feel good and what makes me feel like s*** and I notice that everything I do or don’t do has an effect on my energy level. Everything.
It will surprise you, but the main thing that gives me energy is not coffee. No. It’s being creative. Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of coffee, but it doesn’t wake me up, it makes me hyper and sometimes even anxious. That’s why I usually stick to the decaf version.
Every day I hear at least one person say: “I’m so tired, I need a coffee.” I don’t know who made us believe that coffee wakes us up (probably the coffee industry), but here are a few things that wake me up - without side effects like dry mouth, bad breath and yellow teeth.
1. Doing what brings me joy
If I do what brings me joy, I’m so pumped about my day. Remember when you were a kid and you had to fall asleep the night before Christmas. It was hard. You had a lot of energy, because you were excited about the next day. You might feel the same before you go on a vacation that you’ve been looking forward to. No coffee needed.
Imagine you would create a life that you could look forward to every single day of the year? Ok. I’m honest, I’m not excited every day, but when I do what I love, it’s very easy for me to get up in the morning and feel motivated throughout most of my day.
Do more of what brings you joy!!!
Also check out my 7 Questions To Reconnect With Your Authentic Self. You can sign up for it right here.
2. Getting some fresh air
I promise you this: If you would take a fifteen minute walk or do a 5-10 minute mini-workout every time you’re craving a coffee, you would feel so energized. You wouldn’t even know what to do with all that extra energy. In the last two months I’ve been taking a 30-minute walk every morning and I feel fantastic afterwards.
Get out and breathe in some oxygen!
3. Doing something creative
Almost every single person I know watches TV every night. At least two hours, probably more. They tell me “When I come home from work, I feel so tired, I just want to sit on the couch and do nothing.” Oh, I totally get it. I used to think “If I feel tired, resting is the best thing for me.” But after my studies of self-observation I found out something crazy. Ready? You’re gonna flip out. When I’m tired and I do some yoga, take a short walk or have a dancing break in my living room, I don’t feel tired anymore. If I lay down on the couch instead, I’m done for the rest of the night.
Of course, you have to check in with your body. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes our bodies do need a rest. But most of the time, we're tired because we're suffering from not being challenged enough - mentally and physically. So do yourself a favor. Shut the damn TV off and start creating stuff. Knit a scarf, paint something, write a letter or at least move your bones!
In a previous article I wrote about the most common numbing strategies that kill our creativity. If you feel depleted and you don't feel like creating anything, take a look at them here: 14 Numbing Strategies That Are Killing Your Joy and Creativity.
4. Surrounding myself with non-drama people
You know what, life isn’t always easy. We all have ups and downs and things can happen, like a loss of somebody you love, or you lose your job or something else that's tough. On top of the lemons that life throws at you, you don’t need people around you that produce extra drama. That is so draining. Be kind to these people, maybe distance yourself as much as possible and surround yourself with people who are creative, supportive, authentic and who are interested in solutions and not problems. If you’re born into a family that is addicted to drama don’t feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with them. You have the right to detach yourself from people who are not supporting you - even if they’re members of your birth family. Look out for souls that you can be yourself around and that feel like home. I call these people my soul family.
5. Listening to some good tunes
Music is healing and can get me out of a bad mood in 5 seconds. I’ve just shaken my body to Simon Garfunkel’s song "You can call me Al” and now I feel like I’m 7 again. I just want to be goofy, laugh, create things and enjoy the rest of the day. Seriously try it out. The next time you feel that you’re falling asleep or you’re having a bad day, put this song on.
6. Doing less
You will automatically start doing less and have more energy if you focus on No. 1 and No. 4 - do what brings you joy and surround yourself with people who lift you up. If you stop doing all the things you do half-heartedly or because people expect you to do them, you will have so much more time in your life to hang around and eat ice cream on your porch. That means: If you don’t feel 100% excited about going to the baby shower that you’ve been invited to, don’t go. If you don’t feel 100% pumped to go to the charity event, say no. If people ask you to volunteer for a bake sale, and you would only do it to not feel guilty, please stay at home. It’s not selfish to say no. You’re taking care of your energy. And if you’re feeling great, you can do more great stuff, be kind to others and spread the love.
If you feel stressed and burnt out, this is what you are going to bring with you and this won't help anybody. I also wrote two articles about the art of being lazy and how to afford a lifestyle that supports doing less. Read them here:
Remember: We’re all connected. What’s good for you is good for all of us. Even though it doesn’t seem like that sometimes. If people want to make you feel guilty for not participating in certain events, stand up for yourself and take responsibility for your own wellbeing.
I also want to mention some things that make me feel tired and suck out my energy. Here is a short list. Maybe you will discover that it’s the same for you.
I don’t want to make it sound like I’m always full of enthusiasm. I have days, sometimes weeks, when I feel heavy and lethargic too. And when that happens it doesn’t do me any good if I ask myself continually: “Why do I feel tired now? Or why do I feel like doing nothing today?” The best thing for me in those days is to accept how I feel because fighting against being tired causes more fatigue. But then, when I come out of a low energy phase I try to make sure to take responsibility for the things that I do.
Hope this article gave you as much energy as it gave me!
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