Recently I have had a phone conversation with my father in which he has asked: “so what is your plan going forward?”. After many years of planning, trying to have… Continue Reading
If I tell you that failure does not really exist, you might be skeptical at first. We go through our lives with worry about the past and the future. Worry that is generated by our ego, more specifically by our prehistoricOS. One of the objects ego generates is FEAR (with capital letters). We FEAR not to fail. Not to fail others, not to fail ourself or more precisely, not to fail our belief system. All these objects are products of the past or future but when we realise, that they are not real, that they cannot really exist in the now, interesting things start to happen. All this might sound too woo-woo, but lets take a story from a real life. My own story.
As humans we have evolved through millions of years of evolution programming. Most of that time we have spent hunting and gathering, being part of the tribe. That millions years of programming has created a neurological wiring that helped you back then to guarantee you two most important things for the human gene to last: survive and reproduce. In my older post I call this programming a prehistoricOS or Kernel. Something what drives you in every decision you make. We constantly seek comfort and path of least resistance. We seek pleasure and connection. The more we are tapped into the “old programming” the more reactive we are and it is easy than ever to be controlled by simple manipulation techniques that does not even have an intension to harm us but just do what is “best” for our old programming. These techniques can be both external (your circle of friends, your search engine, your youtube channel, your instagram account) and internal (your fears, your self-talk, your belief system, your identification with all of that). I will leave the external for another post and focus on the internal now.
As famous designer Dieter Rams puts it, “less is more”. But more of the “right more” can be also beneficial. When we are faced with any obstacle in life, we have tendency to solve it with external stuff. Path of least resistance. For sure, just around the corner there must be the latest greatest gadget that can solve the problem for me. Better stuff. Better race I can attend to forget and feed the ego. Better thing that can improve the quality of my life. Better food, better YouTube hack. Better Instagram post. The problem with that is that you always have to run for external, for something what is outside the circle of your control.
Probably at leats once in your lifetime you must have heared the phrase “you must burn all the bridges”, so there no other option then to succeed. Although I belive in doing your best, pur severing in the times of adversity, fighting as much as you can to succeed in your endavour, unless your life is at stake, there can be another approach as well. When all bridges are burned, you are putting yourself into a situation where only winning is possible. But what if during the fighting you figure out, that thing you have chosen is not the thing you have thought it would be. What if your health or health of your loved ones derail you from winning? What if, along the way, life throws at you a path that seems just much more fascinating? What then with all the burned bridges? Repaired them, build new one, hire a boat? I belive that going through the difficult times, facing the adversity is already hard enough and you dont have to make it even harder for you. Working hard is great, but I would rather work smart and suffer with enjoyment 🙂 any time of my choosing. So dont burn the brigdes. One way how to ease the suffering is to … stop, relax a bit, take couple of deep breaths, close your eyes and then … imagine how you fail in what you want to terribly succeed. Imagine yourself, with all the details, how you failed misserably and the thing you wanted so much to work, is just one terrible clusterfuck. Live vividly through that experience in your imagination. See yourself how you are coming home and saying to your parents, wife, friends that you have failed. You have failed but you did your best, learned and even with all that failing feel much stronger then ever before. See how they react, how you feel, where you are. Imagine all of that. The more colorful, the better. Then open your eyes and smile, imagine that all those fears dropped like a heavy stone of your shoulders. You have just convinced your brain, that failing is not so bad in the end and you dont have to fear it so much. You can now get back to a thing you want so much to succeed in and hopefully see, that little bit of unnecessary pressure that keept you in tense, was released. It is the imagining the unimaginable failure that can give you that little ease and increase your chances to enjoy the struggle little bit more.
You are starring at your todo list, it is 3PM and you feel like you have not accomplished anything today. From the morning it felt like you are super busy but suddenly when you have time to work, you notice you have taken the tasks of least resistance. Read an email, replied to some, talk to colleague about some important task that needs to be done and collected data for your work. An hour ago you felt super productive, now you are starting to feel little anxious. The big tasks, the important tasks are still there. You have worked on the illusionary important tasks, the shallow tasks. Yet the important tasks, those that require your deep work and undivided attention are still there. Why? If you are like me, living in the current times, we are hugely distracted. There is so many tasks our brain need to handle, something this brain has not been manufactured to do. Those minuscule tasks are little dopamine rewards. Those big tasks are like big nuts that need to be cracked first and that cracking takes a bit of time when no dopamine is present. All leading to this formula …
It is a million dollar question. How to live happy life while enjoying the uncertainty of everyday life? How to live a happy life in the face of adversity? How to live a happy life and being dependent on the external, on the temporary dopamine spikes. The more I walk on the path of uncertainty, the more I am realising what one person explained to me about stoicism but somehow I did not get it. “You can’t become stoic, by reading about stoicism, you must live it”. Two years ago, I theoretically understood the concept of stoicism, but I asked the universe to give me a challenge in which I could test my theories and hell yeah I got couple of them :). I got tested! And only recently, in the last two months I am finally starting to truly understand what stoics meant by focusing on the virtues like courage, wisdom, temperance or justice, focusing on the internal. All that time I was missing a link between stoic theory and true practice. What does it mean to live it. I have finally understood, that one must truly love himself/herself first regardless the achievements in the external world. Only then the true magic can start happening. But how can one achieve that, when we live in the society of constant comparing and in search for constant approval? Faith! One must believe blindly, that everything is happening for a reason and there is a universe that has always plan for you. Because faith is a killer of all fears, angers and anxieties. But how come can one build faith? By removing all biases that hold you back. All things you feel you must be, you must prove to others who you are, you must achieve this or that to yourself. The magic starts happening, when you start walking the path towards true self-love, regardless the outcome in a way, that you enjoy the ride, you enjoy the process. That self-love can start by repeating self-loving affirmations to yourself after you wake up. That self-love can start by allowing yourself errors and inefficiencies when making mistake without giving yourself a beating. That self-love is that you start loving truly the process and give up on the outcome. You almost must become agnostic to the outcome, you must let loose your wilful will. I believe that through deep self-love building, you can start trusting the universe and build that faith. So what is the formula?
Its 5AM and my brain is buzzing with thoughts. My fight or flight regime is in full spin, cortisol by the roof and my body is chained by the warmth blanket of overnight sleep. I kinda feel turned on but deep inside I can feel that something is wrong. I have been here. The moment I will get out of the bed, I ll start to get exhausted, bit by bit. Not immediately but soon after the reality will hit me in the face. What woke me up? A billion things I wanna do, I wanna be, I wanna make, I wanna build. This anxiety of fighting with time is secretly exhausting all my power reserves. It is not obvious at the first sight. It seems like energy but actually I am burning it from the wrong source. I keep asking myself. Why I want this? Why I have to keep chasing the endless things I wanna be? Why I constantly thrive to be better every day? Can’t I just rest and not feel guilty for doing so? Deep down I am aware it is actually huge insecurity that is driving my thrive for excellence. Is it bad? Once your over-reach certain point, it is more harmful than helpful. Because this sneaky bitch, this feel of insecurity that has ignited my drive many years ago, is actually killing my body inside now. As the day goes by, my digestion gets worse, my cravings for sugar and junk food increase and only thing I have left at the end of the day is tired body and depleted will that has been resisting all the body temptations all day. I am exhausted yet not satisfied. Although I have completed everything I wanted, my inner voice, my internal judge always reminds me that I could have done more. I could have been more. I know, that something is wrong and I have to change it, but I do not know how. I go to bed, tired as hell and I know, that the burning excitement in the morning is fake. Fake that keeps burning my batteries to the bone until there is nothing left. I have to start facing those insecurities that relentlessly keep me going otherwise in years ahead, there wont be much left.