Closing an intense weekend with a friend requires an appropriate final night. Living in a foreign country means you need to dive deep into local drinking habits. So do we. Belgium beer and two rounds of rye & dry thus far. Both in good mood ready to save or fuck the world. The next hours will tell… Decided to put more life into my years rather than more years to my life. Both would do good, yet in doubt you better live the shit out of the few decades given to you. Deep relationships emerge from much alcohol, not Quinoa with sprouts. Let’s team up to do something meaningful or less for us and not wait for things to happen. They will anyway but not in our favor if we don’t take impact. Good or bad, we better take initative. Now.
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.” Jeremiah 17:9-10. What a deep and profound truth. This old bible verse deserves to be put into modern world context the ExperienceZone way.
Life, love and light
Read this universal anaphora as follows: Life is granted to you. You’re born to spend some decades on this planet in your body. To reach what? The light. It stands for your aims in life, mission and ultimately fulfillment. Everlasting happiness or even enlightenment if you will and/or aspire. Being alive is a rather neutral state though. Moving from one state to another, i.e. numb existence to vibrant satisfaction requires energy. As you probably learned in school, it requires effort to transform a substance from one state of aggregation into another (e.g. heat changes H2O from ice to water to steam). Same applies to your states of mind. The form of energy required here is called… you guess it… love.
Love vs. knowledge
Love is the reason we’re born. Your father and mother expressed love in your physical production process. So, essentially love is our natural energetic state. It emerges from our gut as a raw emotion and communicates through our heart in form of various feelings. However, society, church, culture, media and school (or whoever else you want to blame) made us focus on thinking. Consequently, we mutate into heady people throughout life – especially in the “developed world”. This is dangerous, since thinking bears an illusionary certainty that we can explain the universe. In fact, we weren’t, aren’t and won’t ever be able to. The world around us is far too complex to grasp for the human brain, which is powerful yet limited in its capabilities.
The heart reaches further and deeper though (mind its electric field spans almost 5 meters). Its capacities are much larger and its intelligence goes far beyond the one of the brain. It’s fair to state “where the brain ends, the heart just gets started”. Hence I invite you to realign to your energetic roots as a human and claim your birthright of a primarily heart-driven being. Yet be aware that the journey to your heart bears risks. It’s a dark and sometimes dirty one. Introspection can be painful but is valuable and even necessary to come into terms with your past and thus yourself (since you’re a physical manifestation of your experiences). Also, if you decide love to be your driver rather than logos, you’ll step into uncharted territory. Love bears uncertainty but makes you tap deep into your earthly existence. Logos comes with the illusion of predictability plus only scratches the surface of inside experiences. I plea for love, but recommend you to get your heart in shape.
How to strengthen your heart
Your heart is your most important organ – physically, energetically and spiritually. Hence you want to treat it well. Here’s how:
- Embrace the concept of oscillation: Zigging and zagging. Our world moves in rhythms. Day and night. Warm and cold. Ebb and flow. We’re part of this earthly theater and thus tied to circadian cycles. Same applies to your heart. It requires regular challenges, such as endurance sports but likes to rest as well. So you want to find a sport, which makes fun and your heart to beat in a healthy range per minute but immediately afterwards dedicate some time to rest.
- Come into terms with yourself: Your body stores all experiences energetically. Everything, which happened in your life and you gave meaning to, is captured on a subtle level. Your heart continuously deals with these imprints. Especially whilst you’re sleeping. Dreaming is nothing else than your subconscious processing your past. Your heart plays a key role, as feelings cause the most prevalent and deepest memories. Therefore you want to engage in heart-intelligence exercises plus try supporting techniques, such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, visualization and affirmation to equip your heart for its night-shifts.
- Fall in love unconditionally: Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It shines through your heart as the most powerful tool. Love can make you fly high and fall deep. Both are equally important stages of the emotional roller-coaster ride. Consequently, you need to appreciate both without judging them. Many people want the highs without the lows. But you’ll never be able to appreciate the peaks if you haven’t been through the valleys before. Recognize and accept all feelings resulting from the uncontrollable adventure called love.
Why do people find each other? And why do they break up? Apparently there’re internal and external factors driving those decisions. Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.
How we make choices
There’re subtle differences between buying a soft drink and falling in love. However, both are decisions – taken rationally or emotionally. Engaging in human relationships, no matter if it’s a friend or partner, is a highly complex process, which happens subconscious to a large extent. Therefore we want to wrap our minds around it to demystify its rationale and understand ourselves better.
Let me pose a truism here: The more complex a decision, the more likely we take it emotionally. This makes sense as our brain is only able to manage a limited amount of parameters. Of course, we can use frameworks to support decision processes logically. Yet rating potential lovers on a one-to-ten scale and making a choice based on who scored highest, bottom line doesn’t only sound utterly unromantic but also bears the illusion of behavioral predictions. In fact, we’re really bad in forecasting the future when it comes to romances. So let’s drop this thought and put our heart in the driver seat.
It seems like we need to trust our intuition and feelings here, which is totally reasonable given that love as an emotion is the strongest force in the universe and emerges from our gut. Up it moves into our heart and creates derived feelings, such as attraction, compassion and joy. Hence the cheesy advice to listen to our heart rings true.
Why outsides open doors
Vision is our dominant sense. Of course, there’s differences between us. Some are prone to listen, others like to touch, smell or taste things. Yet, most of us are primarily visual beings and our brain thinks in pictures. Memories are stored in mental images and visualization is a powerful tool, which often trumps affirmations (repeating positive beliefs). Observing animals when they’re pea-cocking to make up or fighting to show off proves evidence that dresses and alpha-behavior attracts females – if authentic and backed up properly.
In fact, the beauty and fashion industry play on these evolutionary facts and equip us with the latest make-up and hair trends as well as haute couture to impress our social network – in particular prospective partners. We all want to be acknowledged, recognized and appreciated as to who we are or at least what we represent to the outside world. Attractive appearance creates that first impression in split seconds. That’s the reason why you actually cannot overdress as it impacts not only your perceived status by others but also your self-confidence. “There’s no second chance for a first impression”. This especially applies to dates and includes your overall appearance – from facial expressions, body languages to clothes.
Beware that there’s other unconscious non-visual drivers of appeal, which includes the tone of your voice and your smell though. But let’s go down these rabbit holes in another blog post…
Why insides make you stay
Congrats: You met each other and informally agreed to dive into an adventure called love. This might last for some time – hopefully a lifetime. The quality and length of a relationship depend on many factors. Primary on internal ones. Outside attraction is the door opener. Commonalities and differences propel you into a virtual or vicious circle. The entire joint roller-coaster experience is a function of your similarities, willingness to compromise and emotional stability.
Similarities set the foundation. It determines whether you saw the seed of love on fertile or dead ground. Whereby you and your partner don’t need to be clones of each other, who don’t need to speak at all but communicate telepathically, have the same world views and values as well as engage in exactly the same hobbies. But: You need to have some things in common: Those, which are important to both of you. Healthy differences in fact can complement and thus enrich your lives.
This builds the bridge to the second ingredient: Willingness to compromise. Oh dear, one of my weak-spots in previous relationships. “I don’t like your personality, attitude or habits.” How superficial. Anyway, good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. Now I know that willingness to compromise is key to a happy life in general and hope you do too.
Last but by no means least is emotional stability. You cannot love someone without fearing to lose her. Love and fear are two expressions on the same emotional scale and alternate depending on your mood and… …stability. Stability comes from knowing yourself and your mission and aims in life. The more confident you’re, the calmer you behave when the stuff hits the fan. And it will in every relationship…
How to build fulfilling relationships
There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for a love-pill, which leads to everlasting attraction, a continuous stream of romantic moments and progressive mutual growth. However, there’re some dos and don’ts:
- Find a good match: Our modern “developed” world creates the illusion of perfection. You’ve to look like a model, be successful like a superstar and live a happy life until everyone commits suicide upon your death since there’s no reason for them to live on without you. Drop the idea of perfection. Seek for a good match, not the perfect one. Someone who’s flawed but complements you. Otherwise you’ll die alone.
- Learn to compromise: This is a skill, not a talent. Latter are overrated anyway. Nurture beats nature always. Genes make up only a quarter of most attributes in life. No excuses. Discipline yourself rather than your partner. But: Define some must-haves. Find someone who embodies them. Then learn to deal with her imperfections exposing along the way.
- Learn and grow together: In a relationship, switch into a beginner mindset. Discover the individuality of your partner with curiosity and appreciate it for what is: A mirror to your self and chance to learn from each other. Instead of judging, you want to seek for growth opportunities. Everyone has something to teach you. Just open your eyes, ears and soul.
All beings struggle for pleasure and want to avoid pain. Yet is pain really inherently bad or is there something deep and transformative to it, which justifies a second look? Let’s do it the ExperienceZone way.
What pain really is
I’m a huge fan of Osho. An Indian guru who passed away too early. He posed an interesting hypothesis: The only problem is psychological pain. Physical pain is a non-issue, as once it manifests itself, we’re forced to accept it. Here’s an example: You break your arm during sports. Now, you might feel physical pain, which disappears after a while. However, the psychological pain might last, since you are worried not being able to work out soon again or being handicapped at school or work for some time.
This leads us to the second provocative statement: Psychological pain is an intense continuous negative feeling. Feelings are the children of thoughts and emotions. Negative feelings derive from the only negative emotion: Fear. Worries about the future are forward looking thoughts contextualizing fear. Regrets about past events are backward looking thoughts mixed with fear. Do you get my point? The root cause is our mind wandering into the past or present and putting negative meaning onto situations. If we run into a vicious thought cycle fueled by never ending fear, pain emerges.
Why pain is a blessing
Believe me: I learned the lessons below the hard way and still need to remind myself every time when my expectations don’t match reality.
- Pain makes you find yourself: A recent break-up led to a heartbreak. This type of pain is somewhat interesting since it relates to another person. Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, I go deep into it, which meant contemplating about the time spent together. After some whiles in those conscious meditative and unconscious dream states, I got increasingly self aware. Self-awareness is not an epiphany moment but construction work. You peel the onion until the naked self lies in front of your mind. Admittedly a disturbing process and discovery for an extrovert like me. Anyway, self-awareness is the necessary prerequisite for self-acceptance, which might be equally difficult to obtain. Full acceptance of my failures and weaknesses as they made me who I am today: A unique yet flawed, a complete yet vulnerable person.
- Pain makes you change your life: The final stage of the continuum is self-actualization. Once you know who you are, you can change your belief-system based on your natured and nurtured personality. You can give up of all limitations and let go of all restrictions you’ve put on your self because he said or she said. You can fully express yourself and completely align your words and actions to you inner core. You can define your calling, mission or raison d’etre based on your uniqueness, the portfolio of passions and god-given set of gifts.
- Pain makes you value pleasure: Everything in our world is relative, i.e. happens on one dimensional scales and is subject to individual perceptions. In fact, there’s no objective reality but only the meaning or quality we give events. Visually we separate brightness and darkness. Yet there wouldn’t be darkness without us knowing what brightness is. It’s just different intensities of light. Hot and cold are tactile perceptions. Yet there would be no experience of hot water if we wouldn’t know how cold one feels like (mind the hands-in-the-bucket-test). It’s just different qualities of temperature. Same applies to pleasure and pain. We only appreciate pleasure if we experienced its counterpart: Pain.
Some words of caution: I don’t urge you to seek pain. There’s good reason why we’re wired to avoid pain. We’re meant to live a happy life. Pleasure doesn’t make you happy though. It only scratches the surface. To become truly fulfilled, you need to look at the dark fruits on the pain tree. You can only harvest those if you step back and change your viewpoint.
How to make pain your ally
Here’re my takeaways and actionable advises after dealing with psychological and physical pain all my life as a human being.
- Appreciate it: Welcome pain once it’s there. Pain is your teacher. Open the door. Embrace it. A private mandatory coaching session hosted by the universe is nothing to be ashamed of but a chance to become whole again, learn and eventually grow.
- Dive into it: Learn to contemplate or meditate over pain. Listen into yourself. What kind of pain are you feeling? Why are you experiencing it? What does it have to do with your life? Then take full responsibility instead of blaming anyone for “hurting” you.
- Draw conclusions: Think about what you want to change. Pain will vanish, yet might return if you don’t transform fundamentally. Stay vulnerable as this attitude bears most learning potential and is the real essence of being alive.
One of our favorite ambiguities. First find the genius within you and then share the gift with the world. Why and how? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.
What is your genius?
Some things, which go without saying need to be said loud. Among these the fact that you’re unique. Yeah, your mum might have told you already. And you even might believe it. But do you know why? Do you embrace the concept? Do you further live and breathe it? This is not your kumbayah inspirational blog but a career management gem. To this end, uniqueness means your individual set of passions and thus strengths. It’s tied to you as a person and only exists once on this planet (duh, that’s why it’s…unique).
Follow me here. Your individual way to see the world, to approach challenges and to find solutions is called genius. Its potential is as large as the ones of Mozart, Einstein and Steve Jobs (funny that latter still requires the first name) but also the one of the beggar asking you for a dime on your way to work. Bottom line, we all come equally equipped to this world. Yet, potential is raw material and useless until unfold.
How do you evoke your genius?
Talent is overrated. Mozart’s father made him play the piano as a baby. Well, I hear you argue that only children learn new complex things fast and if you’ve miss the train, you’re doomed to a mediocre life just because your evil parents didn’t stretch you enough. Neuroscience doesn’t let us off the hook though. Your brain changes all the time. Your life-style, incl. your diet, social network and mind-food, determines your brainpower.
Assuming you want to become smarter or happier, you first have to find out what you like to do. Passions are the things you’re naturally interested in and the fun activities, which don’t require external reward. Those you love to sink your teeth in, work extra hours and feel connected to yourself without feeling stress or even loss of energy along the way. So, grab a pen and write down your passions. Finally, boil them down to 3-5 core passions.
How do you contribute your genius?
Once you’ve identified your passions, you want to think about related strengths. If you like to talk, you might communicate effectively. If you swallow one book each week, you might be a fast reader. If you find joy in art, you might be good in drawing. After you jotted down your strengths, creatively find jobs, which are based on these. Communication skills are important in politics, consulting and healthcare (just to name a few). Reading is necessary for the education sector, journalists and authors. Drawing is a key skill of visual artists.
You’ve got a job already? Then reflect upon whether you’re able to bring your genius to work each day. If money were no object, would you still go to work? If you’re forced to take a sabbatical of one year, what would you do? If you picture yourself on your deathbed, would you regret your career? Be honest but don’t stress: I’m bad in navigation and names. Einstein had problems memorizing texts. Where there’s light, there’s shadow.
The corporate world is being haunted by a specter called “stress”. No matter if we’re working 9am to 5pm in an apparently laid-back job or in a 24/7 sleeping under the desk start-up environment. Stress seems to be an ubiquitous yet highly subjective phenomenon. Hence, let’s take a closer look in an ExperienceZone manner.
When lives turn into rocket chairs
Many of us spin our wheels but never go anywhere. I witness this when I step into the social network trap. Trying to stay in touch with everyone usually results in loosing connection with myself. Superficiality is the price for the desire to not miss out on anything. Modern technology seduces us to do it all at the same time. Multitasking leads to inefficiencies, stress and eventually dissatisfaction. If we take a shot-gun rather than sniper-rifle approach to our lives, we experience a lot. But: If we lack focus on the things that really matter, life leads us astray into distraction and ultimately depression.
What does really matter?
Those activities, which make you happy and you invest most time in. Assuming you’re neither an aristocratic heir nor a downshifter, society requires you to work at least eight hours of your day. Imagine you spend a third of your day and half of your wake time in your job. This very fact justifies to think twice about your profession. For many decades the social axiom was “Get good grades, study something meaningful and you’ll be just fine being employed to take care of your family”. Those days are over. Asia, automation and abundance made job security a myth as Daniel Pink states in “A whole new mind – why right brainers will rule the future”.
So, what’s the bottom-line?
Let me come full circle here: I argue that people are stressed since they avoid discomfort by working in a job, which doesn’t build up on their passions and thus strengths but gives them the illusion of job security. They think they can take the way of least resistance. Yet, if you neither define your raison d’etre nor think and act big, you’ll never get a healthy stretch and experience the feeling of remarkable accomplishments. Instead, you’ll feel severely underutilized, bored and thus stressed. Reason being, you don’t find meaning or purpose in getting up in the morning.
What is your game plan?
- Stay in bed: I’m not kidding! Keep on lying in bed if you feel that your job doesn’t provide any meaning to your life or the ones of others. This is the best use of your time. Call sick or request a PTO. Go on a trip or at least a day hike. Fresh aur and physical exercise will get your mind in motion.
- Define your mission: Either in bed, on a walk or at your desk: Contemplate why you’re here and what you really want to do with your life. You’re only a few decades on this planet and it’s your damn duty to bring the best of you to the world. If you don’t, you’ll waste your life by finding creative excuses why you shouldn’t make a move (e.g. your financial obligations, the job security myth, you name it).
- Follow through: Once you know what you want to do, you’ve got to do it. This might sound like stating the obvious. Yet, many never bridge the knowing-doing-gap. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. At most, they put the best foot forward and then drag the other one behind. Bear in mind: The safest way to success and contentment is to play on your passions and thus strengths.
Recently, I saw a TED talk about acquiring wisdom instead of knowledge only. Why should you care and how do you make the leap? Let’s dive into this one the ExperienceZone way.
Putting things into context
Everyday our senses are being swamped by piles of data. Our brain does a remarkable job to contextualize and thus transforms data points into information. A price tag paired with a bottle of water triggers our decision about whether to buy it or not. Actually marketing is a corporate function designed for the very purpose to make data relevant and thus generate explicit purchasing decisions in our minds. Best case, it speaks to our hearts instead to our brain only, since especially complex decisions are usually not taken rationally but intuitively. To this end, the add needs to be relevant to our lives (yeah, water vitalizes) plus helps us to understand why that is (well, approx. 70% of our body is actually water) – ideally on an emotional level. As we increasingly relate this the marketeers want us to get hooked up with and understand its additional value proposition (the founders might be up to save the entire rain forest), we evolve our minds from receiving information to being knowledgeable about this company, its mission and resulting products. Knowledge is acknowledging a pattern behind naked information. Furthermore, knowledge requires and generates a certain level of understanding and relation to a particular subject. So far the job of the marketing guys…
Knowledge without application is useless
In the last decade I read around one hundred books. Did the cheer act of inhaling words put into fancy sentences make me any smarter? In no way, shape or form. Well, it certainly helped me to express myself in a specific way nowadays but doesn’t improve my life a tiny bit. In contrast: Book knowledge is a tricky thing. It tends to make you presumptuous. I can tell you in a thousand words how honey tastes, yet it only becomes relevant once you taste it. This is my plea for action. Only once you leverage the stuff you’ve read to help yourself, others or our planet, it turns into value. Until then it’s unused potential. Raw material, which lacks an acid test. Latter turns knowledge into wisdom through application. You try. You fail. You learn. You improve.
How to turn knowledge into wisdom
Some argue wisdom is understanding the principles behind knowledge. I’m going further: Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge – in both ways, failing and succeeding. Failed attempts are actually often a necessary prerequisite for success. No one learned to ride a bike without falling at least onece. No one learned to play the piano without hitting the wrong keys. Thomas Edison admitted to have failed many times until he invented the light bulb. So, how do you evolve to a wise person (unrelated to your physical age)?
- Read and watch: There’re two ways to absorb new knowledge. The first one is reading. I highly recommend you to read as much as possible, yet allow time to contemplate and execute thereafter. Read about divers topics. It makes you a well rounded person. Yet do only read stuff you feel naturally drawn to. This increases the chances that you make it through the article or book. After you read, take some time. Either close your eyes, go for a walk or talk with others about what you read. All of these habits ensure that you properly digest the mind food. Then think about how you can put the stuff you’ve read into practice. By the way: Another highly effective way to learn is through imitation. Watch others failing or succeeding. It helps you to build up on their experiences.
- Execute upon it: A strategy is nothing without execution. A decision is a choice plus a plan. Innovation equals creativity plus action. In fact, ideas are worthless without trying them out. Effective execution based on a clear intention is one of the most powerful gifts human beings have been granted. Hence I invite you to try things. The only thing preventing you from achieving your aims in life and pursuing your mission is fear. Smart people say fear is the abbreviation of false expectations appearing real. In terms of future states, this is true. So, we need to shake off irrational fears and jump in to the cold dark unknown.
- There’re no mistakes: There’s only feedback. I like this one, as it puts things into perspective by pointing out that every expression of reality is subjective. Reality only exists because a subject observes it. Your reality is watched and thus judged by yourself only. Therefore, the meaning you give to events in your life is of utmost importance. If you see every hardship as an opportunity for growth it will unfold as such and deliver long term reward. Only repeating the same behavior although it didn’t bring the desired results can be considered as stupid or insane, as Einstein put it.
Life consists of perceived ups and downs. The meaning we give to events determines our mood and thus the quality of our lives. No one can always be happy. In fact, it may not be our ultimate goal. Only after we walked through valleys, we can fully appreciate the peaks of our existence – in the present moment and in hindsight. Highs require lows and vice versa. Hence, satisfaction is a relative phenomenon. There’s one key behavior to soften the dips though: Smiling.
(Don’t) let it go to your heart
I allowed many events to pull me down: Accidents, diseases, challenges at school, university and work, relatives passing away as well as break-ups with loved ones. Surely, you experienced similar challenges. What actually happened in these moments? We generated negative feelings. Sadness, disappointment, depression. Now, you might argue that the expression of those is important for your emotional hygiene and personal growth. And I agree. To a certain extent. There’s a thin line between
- Superficial Ignorance: You just disregard or repress your own feelings and thus prevent yourself from growing emotionally, getting to know and coming into terms with yourself
- Toxic Long Suffering: You fall into and spend too much time in a deep hole, which hurts you mentally, emotionally and physically in the long run.
This sweet-spot, on which you learn from suffering (since it offers the greatest opportunities) but avoid falling into the vicious circle of sadness needs to be determined individually. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for how to cope with events and deal with your feelings in different situations. At least I cannot provide any, since I’m neither a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Everything I’m writing and talking about is based on my own experiences, which taught me one thing though:
Smiling helps to cope with negativity
This is not new. Researchers found out that smiling lowers stress and anxiety, releases endorphins and thus strengthens your immune system. It also makes you more confident, approachable, attractive and is above all contagious. Instead of bothering you with these discoveries, which you can read on every self-help page since a decade, let’s make it actionable. Many of us absorb similar small shots of awe every day but never execute upon them. Knowledge without application is useless.
How you make smiling a daily habit?
I’m on my journey to become a “master of smiling”. Still searching for the appropriate occasions, dose and behavioral mix. Here’re my take-aways:
- Observe and accept your inner processes: Learn to listen to yourself. Due to the requirements of my daily life, I became a heady person. Thankfully, I learned to observe my thoughts but still have challenges to deal with my feelings. However, if your chatterbox talks destructively or you feel dissatisfied with yourself or other people (latter is only an indirect expression of former), hold still. Negativity indicates that something is wrong with your self-image and thus attitudes. It’s ok to be in a bad mood. We all have negative thoughts and feelings every day. One of our tasks in life is to deal with them constructively. Hence, first accept them. They’re part of your inner processes repertoire. You’re a healthy and complete human being. However, take an inner step back and observe them. Check why you’re thinking or feeling the way you do. What triggered it? Awareness and recognition are always the first step to change behavioral patterns.
- Smile whenever appropriate: Once negative thoughts and feelings creep up in you, force yourself to smile. Not because they vanish straightaway but it lifts you up to a relaxed state of mind and helps you to step back as mentioned above. Smiling effectually requires awareness and practice. Fake it until you feel better. Yet beware: Some people might get irritated if you smile whilst you’re arguing with them as you might come across as someone who doesn’t take them or the topic serious. I learned this the hard way. In those situations you want to engage in alternate behaviors like deep breathing. It too lowers your stress level and thus enables you to cope with difficult human interactions.
- Become an inner Aikido master: Aikido is a Japanese martial art, in which one channels the opponent’s energy to end a fight. Mind someone running towards you in rage and you just redirect the physical force by putting him on the ground. You can apply this principle to your inner processes by leveraging embodiment. Embodiment describes our capabilities to combat unwanted inner processes with physical actions, like smiling. There’re a couple of supporting behaviors I found functional to deal with negative inner processes. Next to smiling and deep breathing, I recommend you to take a walk when you’re feeling down – especially outside with exposure to sunlight and fresh air. Physical motion triggers mental flexibility and thus helps you to think about solutions creatively. Sunlight raises your mood and fresh air provides oxygen, which supports the ideation process. In addition, you can put your hands up, which improves your self-esteem and thus mood. Actually every physical action, which makes you larger in terms of height or width increases your self-confidence. That’s a heritage from your ancestors and can be observed in the animal kingdom. Mind your social environment to avoid being perceived as a freak though.
Last night I finished up the bestselling book “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. It inspired me to write this article. I felt that I stumbled over something very profound. Meaning seems to be a buzzword and highlighting its importance for our lives like stating the obvious. However, diving into the “why” and “how” can open minds.
Meaning as our main driver
Frankl was born into a Jewish family and locked for years in Nazi death camps. During this time he discovered that the daily struggle for survival can be won by finding and focusing on meaning in life. No matter the circumstances, we are always in control of our attitudes. We can give meaning to the hardships in our lives if we want to. No one can take this freedom to think and act away from us.
Upon his release, Frankl founded logotherapy. A science, which is based on the concept of meaning (logos) as the main driver for human survival and design of life. Unlike the will to pleasure (on which the Freudian psychoanalysis is centered) and the will to power (which the Adlerian psychology is based on), the “will to meaning” seems to be a sustainable concept that doesn’t kick in once the Maslow’s basic needs are satisfied but already in the beginning. In fact we pursue our search for meaning in parallel to all other ones and it seems to be superior to power and pleasure. In fact, latter are shadows or side-effects of meaning but can never substitute it.
How do you find meaning?
At ExperienceZone, we translate meaning with mission. Our mission is our individual and unique reason for existence. We believe that there’s no subordinate or superior missions. Founding a family is equally important as colonizing Mars (as Elon Musk strives to do). Only one rule applies: Your mission needs to contribute to humanity and/or planet earth. Why’s that? Our actual desire is to be connected. Neurologically we’re wired to contribute, feel part of a larger means and want to be appreciated for what we do. So, there’re three steps:
- Initiation: You need to feel the need to define your mission first. Frankl says this either happens through a) suffering, like in his case. Once you’re existence is stripped to its bare bones, we recognize what is really important. Nowadays, we’re swamped by external stimulus (mind media), which distracted and ultimately detached from our natural desires as human beings. Another way to find meaning is through b) other people. In particular: Love. Love is way more that physical attraction or emotional attachment. It’s seeing a potential in someone, which didn’t actualize yet. It results in admiration and unconditional giving. Last year, I met someone, who opened my heart and thus helped me to shape my mission “use my energy and enthusiasm to inspire others and support them in unfolding their own talents in meaningful and harmonic ways”. The third trigger to discover you mission is via c) doing a meaningful work or deed. This is especially important for those who focus on the area career & financials in their lives.
- Definition: You need to write down your mission and best case paint it in bright colors. Vision is our most important sense. Vaguely knowing what you want to do with the few decades you’ve been granted on this planet is not enough. Make is explicit. Commit to it. Place your mission statement at prominent places in your living area. This way, you’ll always be reminded and thus win over your subconscious to support its manifestation.
- Execution: Strategy is nothing without action. Come up with a plan. What do you need to do to make your mission come true. I founded ExperienceZone. The first stepping stone towards materializing my dream. Just to be clear: There will be stumbling blocks along the way. People might not support you but laugh at or turn their backs on you. That’s totally fine. You’re not on this planet to please others but to fulfill your mission. Stay true to yourself and your individual reason for existence. Let others inspire your change but never kill your dreams. The means you’re putting in place might be suboptimal. Feel free to listen to others’ advises to become better in executing against your strategy but stay authentic and listen to your heart.