Looking for balance in life, work, and relationships. #1000 days because the first 365 were pretty easy.
37,520 words
antoszek.me

Supporting Creativity

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The world is a magnificent place. Although there are many people & organizations that through their actions may make you believe otherwise, the world is a good place overall.

I think that one of the most important things in this world is creativity.

Without human creativity, there wouldn't be growth, there wouldn't be innovation. Think about it: everything we've achieved as a human species can be attributed to creativity. It's a key human trait and there's no denying it.

Yet, I feel like in present times we've put common creativity behind. It's not that there aren't artists, makers, inventors, storytellers etc. It's just that it's not yet common among most people. The default is non-creative, and it shouldn't be that way.

Most people don't even care about being creative. For them, a life made of repetitive cycles is a fulfilling life. Don't get me wrong: I don't think it's their fault, or that they should be ostracized for not being actively creative. I just see an immense amount of untapped creation.

So, how do we mitigate this?

By supporting creativity. Taking your friend to an art class, buying some random dude's photos from the Internet, donating to a Science training foundation, or just gifting someone a book. It's that simple - even just a book may sparkle creativity and "unblock" someone.

Whenever you can, give and support others. It always pays off.

Motion Of No Courage

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The pandemic is still going on in full capacity in my country. Although some restrictions have been lifted, it's still pretty unwise to go around other people; infections are rising.

In trying times, courage is something we all need to exhibit to survive and thrive during a time like this. The courage to be responsible, considerate, caring, and most importantly of all, a nonconformist.

A lot of people are managing their courage pretty well. I'm really proud when I see people wearing masks out in the open, donating to relief efforts, supporting their older neighbours, and just being a good person.

On the other hand, I see a lot of people declaring "mental bankruptcy" - basically submitting a Motion Of No Courage, where they just give up. And I'm not talking about people directly affected by the virus, or people with mental problems. I'm talking about completely fine people, with healthy finances, healthy relationships etc.

Why? are they giving up? What is their breaking point? Where they just can't go any longer?

I don't have an answer to that question yet. I'm really curious to learn why that's happening, so that I could know how could I help them.

One Day, And One Day Only

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Habits are the most important thing in our daily lives. They make us. They determine our succesess, failures, relationships, and most other things that happen every day.

I've written about habits plenty of times. They are probably my most common topic. Or at least in the top three. Yet, there is one rule I seem to have missed:

Never miss more than one day

This rule applies both to habit-building and habit-breaking.

When building a new habit, the first dozens of times you'll have to conduct it as a concious action until it becomes automated. If you let it slip for more than one day, the whole automation process will fail and you'll have to start again. Just a single day may be a tiny anomality, unnoticed by the unconcious.

Also, if you're working on breaking an exisiting habit you've dermined as bad, and so you'd like to get rid of it, breaking the resistance for more than one day will break your progress. For example, if you're restraining from eating bad food (whatever that is for you), allowing yourself a treat once will not do much damage. But, if you buy a whole container of bad food, and eat a portion of it every single day for five days, the bad habit will come back and hurt you.

Emergencies do happen. But they also always end. In some way or another.

Baking Your Own Bread

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One very interesting thing I see people started doing during the pandemic is baking your own bread. For some reason, while being locked down at home, baking bread is suddenly a popular activity. Not that I think it's a bad hobby - we've been baking our own bread for months now in my household.

This has made me think of an anology.

See, in the Western kitchen, bread is consider basic. It's considered "commonfood" by everyone. It's cheap, it's pretty easy to make, lasts a few days, doesn't require refregiation, what else could you want?

What's the bread of your life? What is something truly basic, truly common, that you don't have control over? But you'd like to? Why can't you start baking your own bread? Gaining control over the basics of your life?

For me, and probably for most people, the "bread" are habits. They are those tiny little actions that make up most of our lives. They're the true basics. The true "commonfood" of the brain.

Find your bread. Learn how to bake it yourself. And most importantly, don't be worried when you burn it the first few times.

Mental Restructuring

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To keep your mind fresh and agile at all times, you should do a bit of mental restructuring from time to time.

Memories, emotions, dreams, and everything else that sits in our brain make us who we are. Without all of that "data" I wouldn't be me, and you wouldn't be you.

All of that "mental luggage" compounds over time; the older you get, the more memories you have. Our brains are well equiped for this, that's why healthy people are able to remember things from their childhood on their deathbed.

Yet, as we all know, keeping a clear mind all the time is incredibly difficult. Sometimes, strong negative emotions may "cloud over" our true self. Other times, when we're learning a lot of new information at once, it may be hard to understand it thoroughly in the beginning.

Here comes the concept of mental restructuring: giving yourself time & space to re-form thoughts, past memories, dreams about the future and everything else that is sitting in your brain. Of course, we can't physically enter the brain and move around stuff - even if it would be possible, it'd still probably be very dangerous.

By giving yourself uninterrupted time with zero to no distractions, surrounding yourself with something calming and beatiful - preferrably, nature, you get a chance to restructure yourself. To set things in a clear manner. Getting rid of the unnecessary, and revamping the useful.

No one thing survived without change. Even your own thoughts deserve that too.

Dissolving Negativity

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Negativity is always around us. It's a key part of life, and there is no avoiding it. People who try to be always positive usually turn out miserable and unfufilled.

Yet, negativity doesn't deserve to be always present. It simply doesn't. A life full of negativity is also a miserable life.

Negative emotions jump from people. When one of us gets upset for whatever reason, and then passess that negativity to another person, through rude, arrogant, hurtful behavior, the chain goes on. I can remember myself many, many situations when I received negativity from one person, and then passed it onto another.

To stop this chain, one needs to dissolve negativity within themselves. It's not easy, of course - someone, who's psyche is fragile, will not be able to handle this. Only someone with a reasonably clear mind can truly get rid of incoming negativity.

So, how do you do this? Well, instead of shouting back at the person that just "sent" you some negativity, just stop, apologize for any misunderstaing, and let them calm down. Then, go for a walk, do something creative, do something joyful, something that makes you feel fulfilled, whatever that is. As with a touch of a magic wand, you'll see how slowly the negative feelings will become weaker and weaker, ultimately disappearing. And the world will be a better place, because you managed to destroy a tiny bit of bad.

Be a hero. Stop the chain.

On Reverse

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There is this great quote I came around recently:

Reverse is often the most important gear

And I'll be honest with ya; it resonated with me deeply.

I like pushing forward. Just like driving a car: you go forward. Forward is the default direction. You can turn, of course, but the main "feature" of the car is going forward. There are six gears that make you go forward, and only one that makes you go backward.

When we're speeding down a highway of succes, of joy, and of fulfillment, it's easy to not notice an upcoming obstacle. The faster we're going, the longer the braking distance. We can either crash straight into that obstacle, or break fast enough to stop & back out on reverse.

Be careful with gears four through six. And don't forget how to use the reverse.

We're All In This Together

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Let's be totally honest: It's hard right now. No matter who you are, what you do and how you live, things are different. At least some aspects of your life have been impacted.

And it will continue to be harder for a while. The economic fallout of this situation might linger for years, and we'll all be impacted in some way.

As with every single thing on Earth, there are a few positive things caused by the pandemic.

There's one that I'm specifically interested in:

The shredding of individualism.

This situation is requiring an immense level of cooperation - mostly in a non-physical way. But still, we have to work together to solve this. Even by just respecting others through staying at home and slowing down the spread. The only way get out of this is by tru cooperation, togetherness, collectivism.

Don't get we wrong; I still think that personal independence and freedom are crucial to a good life. Hell, I do consider myself a fiercely independent person most of the time (probaly more often than I should). But, ultimately, as with this pandemic, the true solutions to our problems lie in cooperation.

Effective interdependence can only be built on true independence. - Stephen Covey, 7 Habits

When we'll start realizing that we have to shred our ego, our desire for more, and our undying need for external validation, we will start solving this crisis.

I do think that this process has already started, but to really succeed in fighting the virus, every single one of us has to re-calibrate his/her values, and shred the menace that individualism is.

Not Enough Fuel

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I've been writing on this blog every single day for almost a year. A year. It still sounds too crazy to be true. I could never have imagined how far could this go.

All it took was a simple idea.

Today, I recorded a podcast episode with my friend. I was a guest on his podcast, that is. He was asking me about life, things I do, things I did etc. Just a casual chat. Yet, at some point, he asked me about this blog. The question was something along the lines of How have you managed to write a new post every single day? Where do you get all that motivation?.

Once you build a habit out of something, it's really not that hard to continue doing it. Right now, writing this blog is a pleasure for me. Not a chore by any means. It's just easy and automated.

But still, sometimes there are moments when I feel like I'm totally out of fuel. In those moments, even such an activity as writing this blog becomes incredibly hard to do.

What's the solution? How can we re-fuel?

My solution is simple: just disconnect. Not just from the Internet, but from your responsibilites, friends, family, even thoughts. Just get away for a while.

Some may say; I can't get away from my family!. You always can. Go for a 5 minute walk. Sit down in the corner of your room for a short while and breathe deeply.

A great thing about life is that fuel is always around us. Within us, even. We're just not noticing it often enough.

Do What Can't Be Done

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It's really easy and really common to create certain boundaries within our minds.

We create such limitations inside of our heads out of fear, conformism, laziness etc. Most of them are created sometime in our childhood, but not only. Later in life we just slowly bring them down one by one while discovering the world.

Today, I was confronted with something past me wouldn't be able to handle. I'd say "this is out of my zone, I can't". I'd miss an amazing opportunity to help and establish a connection with someone very interesting. Yet, I somehow managed to overcome that fear, or maybe; limitation, and initiated a conversation.

How many opportunities do we miss in life because of our own limitations?

How many more will we miss?

Do what can't be done.

Infinite Refinement

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It's always good to have ideas. To be curious. To want to learn new things. Without our drive for the new, the world wouldn't grow.

Yet, in that drive what often gets lost it refinement. Refinement of things that already exist. Things that already have been created, used, and maybe even discarded.

Everything deserves polishing. Nothing human is truly perfect, and so, everything may need that extra bit of refinement. We cannot underestimate that power of taking old, used ideas, and re-creating them in a new fashion.

There is always place for improvement. Don't waste it.

Talk It Through

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Decision-making is not an easy feat. It takes a lot of mental clarity and decisiveness to make good (or at least conscious) decisions. Not one teaches us that at school, nor are there many well-written guidebooks on this. We usually learn this through painful practice.

I've written many, many times on this blog about the art of making a decision; it's something I'm deeply interested in, yet still learning the basics.

Today's idea is this: Talk everything through, even with just yourself.

I find saying things out loud, even just to myself, very useful. If an idea I have is bad, it'll sound so when said out loud. When something needs more polish, it'll be easy to catch that. On the other hand, if an idea has really formed well inside of my brain, I'll be able to communicate it swiftly and reasonably, no matter the circumstances.

Of course, whenever possible, I try to talk through my ideas with another person. The don't even have to be a good listener or feedback-giver. Often times, it's just their presence that makes me think more constructively about my ideas and thoughts.

So, don't freak out when you see me walking around my lawn and speaking out loud like a lunatic.

Let's all be lunatics sometimes. For a wiser world.

The Only Way Is Up

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I've written about the art of failing many times on this blog. It's a process I consider crucial to human development, I deeply believe that there is nothing wrong in failure.

Today, I'd like to share with you a few thoughts about what happens after failure. Here we go:

When a person fails, in whatever aspect, they usually feel worse, or down. It's obvious; you've had a shot at something and you didn't do it well - negative feelings arise.

After a failure, it's incredibly easy to get into a nagative cycle. See, the worst thing about negativity is that it always produces more negativity, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. So, when most people feel down after a failure, they get into a negative cycle. It may take a lot of time for them to get out of it.

But there is one very, very important truth we often seem to forget when we're down:

The only way is up

It's simpe, it's obvious. The more you fail, the worse you'll feel. But also, if you fail hard, there is very little chance for you to feel even worse after time; most likely you will recover, go up.

The only things you really have to do when you fail are simply understanding and realizing the specifics or your failure and creating an improvement plan. That's all. You don't have to worry about "Oh, will I be able to be as good as I was before I failed?" - such thinking will only make it harder to go up.

Life is circular and so is failure; after going down, the only way is up.

A Change Of Pace

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Every once in a while we all need a change of pace. Sometimes, we might need to accelerate; do more, faster, more decisively. Other times, there might be a need to slow down, deccelerate.

All of that is completely normal. Life is evolving, and so are we. We need to adapt and appreciate the changes all around us. Understanding and appreciating this is not particularly hard, for most.

What is hard on the other hand is realizing when to change pace. When we're caught up in the tasks and chores of the daily life, it might be very hard ro realize the need for such a change. Usually, this self-realization occurs when it's too late; either when we get left behind because of a slow pace, or when we burn out due to a fast one.

Noticing the clues early is hard. It requires practice. One needs to practice for years to truly understand his or her internal and external clues for such a change. The early ones are usually very small and easy to look over. Regularly setting aside some time to listen deeply to your body, mind, and soul is very important in this case. Only through that you'll be able to find the clues and adapt your behavior quickly.

Of course, our goal is not to be in a constant state of worry: oh I can't figure out if I should slow down or not!? What if I crash??. It's simply to be a little bit more proactive than most.

Just a little bit more mindful about your life.

The Good Place

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Recently, I've been watching a show called The Good Place. It's a fun, intelligent, and well-writen show about a few people that got into The Good Place - a modern rendition of heaven. The key diea of the show is that all people are judged when they die by the things they did while on Earth. There is a "point system", where every single action one does is accounted as good or bad. Very good actions bring you a lot of points - very bad ones take away from your point total. There is a specific thershold one needs to reach to get into The Good Place. Everyobody else goes to The Bad Place - which is pretty similar to hell.

I won't talk about the show's story - although I highly recommend you watch it in your spare time - it's great.

This idea of everything being either good or bad is pretty common in our culture. Of course, I hope that most people understand that most things are mixed; they lie in the grey area between absolute good and absolute bad. Still, it got me thinking about ethics.

What if there actually was such a system? What if every single action you'd do would be judged as good or bad?

If we knew that, our motivations to do good things would be corrupt. Most of us would good things just to get into heaven. Not for the sake of making the world a better place.

So, I've been asking myself this question; what am I doing good things for?. Is it because I want to feel better? Or maybe because I want to be seen as a better person by others?

I've been trying to shift my motivation to just doing good for good itself. And that's how, I think, we can create a Good Place here on Earth.