We are all living, without doubts, a challenging situation. What is happening is shaking the foundations of our world at all levels; personal, professional, individual, social, economical. Our habits, routines and rituals have been disrupted. Most of the cues and frames through which we were able to read the reality around us, are useless now.
At least, this is what is happening to me.
And I’ll be honest.
There are moments, during the day in which I feel lost and powerless. It looks like no matter what we do, things keep getting worse. The flood of news and messages is not helping for sure.
This morning I woke and realised that this tension is getting under my skin. I slept with my jaw tight, not a good sign.
So, this morning I enter my meditation with the only aim to relax, let go of the stress and find peace.
And some words came up.
“I am the one who’s asked to change and evolve.”
When I opened my eyes, I remember one of my all-time favourite books, “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor Frankl.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
So, my question for today is “How can I change to thrive in this challenging time?“
My life is blessed by the presence of fantastic people with I can engage in inspiring conversations.
The other day I was telling my dear friend Luca, that sometimes I feel like a child lost in a crowded place.
I don’t know if it ever happened to you as a kid. Or maybe you’ve witnessed it. A child going around with her parents in a crowded place, like a square or mall, side by side. Then, maybe because she sees something fascinating or her parents got distracted for a second, the child loses the grip on her parent’s hand. All of a sudden, the parents are nowhere to be seen. Everything becomes big, dark and scary. The child, frightened and desperate, begins running around frantically to find her parents.
Sometimes, I feel like a lost child. And I find my inner child running around looking for the adult version of myself.
Though, we all know that the best solution is to stand still and wait to be found, fear pushes me to run around. Wasting energy and time.
Luca helped me see that, in my running, there may also be the desire to get out of a painful situation as soon as possible. The faster I run, the sooner I’m out.
How often does it happen in life? Because we are in pain, we accelerate thinking that this way, the pain will go away sooner. Instead, too often, we are just wasting energy, and a pause would help us see things more clearly.
Then the day after Giulia reminded me that, in our continually accelerating and changing society, we teach people that they must go faster if they want to keep the pace.
Run baby run.
But is true? What if we challenge the idea that faster is better?
Maybe, if we try to stand still, breath and wait for a moment, the way forward will find us.
Last Friday morning I went walking on the beach. The air was chilly, as you would expect on a late winter morning after a stormy night. But the sun was finding its way through the clouds, opening up large patches of deep blue sky.
The sand, dark and firm for the rain of the days before, gave way beneath my feet, leaving a long trail of perfect footprints behind me. I notice how many different traces were visible on the shore. Footprints of all sizes, shapes and depth. Some neat, others messy. Some perfectly aligned on a long and straight invisible line. Others scattered around without order. Some part of a solitary walk, others involved in long conversations.
Each one revealing a unique story. A human story.
Until the sea or the rain, wipe the canvas for new stories.
I kept observing all those signature left by other human beings, while I was leaving my trace.
Thinking that we all leave a unique mark on this world.
Pillar 1: Starting small
Pillar 2: Releasing yourself
Pillar 3: Harmony and sustainability
Pillar 4: The joy of little things
Pillar 5: Being in the here and now
These are Ken Mogi’s 5 Pillars of Ikigai. I found them in this article while I was doing some research on the subject.
These days most of the conversations I have are about the spread of the infamous coronavirus. I bet it’s the same for most of the people around the world.
Here in Italy in particular, but soon everywhere, this disease is creating visible and tangible effects on the way we live. The most challenging aspect of this situation is our inability to predict what’s next. We don’t know what will happen, how long it will last, how the whole situation will evolve. Individuals, businesses, communities.
I feel that we are all lost in the dark.
What do you do when you can’t predict the future?
While I was pondering on this question, I remembered those five steps. Somehow, I feel they can help me navigate through this uncertain and challenging time. Instead of hanging desperately to the past, hoping for this storm to pass quickly. Or trying hopelessly to predict the future. These pillars invite me to rediscover the power of the here and now. To focus my energy into bringing my full essence in every little thing I do.
“First is an intention.
Then a behaviour.
Then a habit.
Then a practice.
Then second nature.
Then it is simply who you are.” – Brendon Burchard
I love this recipe for transformation. It is not even a recipe, to be honest. In my experience, this is how life works. How we grow, and we become who we are. The things we love and the one we don’t.
They all started with an intention. One that too often, we are not fully aware. And that intention triggers a behaviour that, through habit and repetition, becomes who we are. It’s a long and slow process, like a drop on a rock. When an apparently harmless and insignificant behaviour, becomes a habit, its power multiply and its effects compound.
The secret ingredient in this recipe is self-awareness. Having clarity of your intentions, observing your behaviours and deliberately choose the habits you want to cultivate. Creating the discipline to transform those habits into practices. The rest will be a natural outcome. And this is the beauty of this recipe for transformation. It’s not about making big things or incredibly disruptive actions. It’s about paying attention and being aware of the tiny things that count, and then let time do its magic.
In the last weeks, this virus that’s disrupting our lives is the topic in most conversations, directly or indirectly. On the news, on social media, plenty of experts are doing their best to explain what’s happening. And, most importantly, what is going to happen.
On this second aspect, I heard many different, often contradicting forecasts in a range that goes from “it’s nothing” to “we are doomed”.
Only a few openly say that they don’t know.
“The human brain is a prediction machine. The primary reason the brain remembers the past is to better predict what will work in the future.” – James Clear
But what if the past can’t give us any clues about what is going to happen? What if even the people who are supposed to know what’s next, don’t have answers?
We are so used to know what’s happening next that this uncertainty is frightening.
How can we make a decision today, if we don’t know what will be the scenario tomorrow?
It is a challenging time. Even more, a defining time at a global scale.
In this chaos and uncertainty, I’m reminded of a magic formula, taught to me by a dear friend a while back.
“I don’t know.”
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” — Albert Einstein
Sometimes I find myself trapped in the “I don’t know enough” game. It’s a game I play when I have to decide something or when I’m going through an uncomfortable experience.
It is usually triggered by fear or insecurity and fed be the illusion that, by knowing and understanding more, I’ll be able to make the right choice or to find peace. Too often, unfortunately, this game paralyses me. While I’m lost in the game of knowing more, the rest of the world keeps moving forward.
Knowledge is power. But it’s only when we act that that power manifests in the world. When we don’t act, we are just wasting that power. So, what’s the point in accumulating power, if I miss the opportunity to use it?
Plus, knowledge and experience can quickly become a cage. They set the boundaries of what we can and can not do. Of what is possible. Children are great teachers in this. Because they know very little, they use their imagination to go beyond, explore and grow.
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” — Albert Einstein
A few days ago, I had an inspiring conversation that made me reflect on the risks of oversimplifying reality. I’m talking about that tendency to view every situation through a binary filter. Such as “right or wrong”, “us and them”, “good and bad”, “winners and losers” and so on.
In Being At Full Potential, we call this the State of Binary Awareness. A state of awareness from which everything is reduced to a duality.
Reducing things in life to a binary perspective, it’s a way to cope with its complexity that comes from our need to belong; my tribe and the rest of the world.
Though in this increasingly connected world, I feel that this simplification makes life even more complicated. It creates tensions, conflicts and divisions.
It is a kind of paradox.
Maybe, if we accept that life is complex and that there are infinite nuances in everything, we can relax all these tensions and free ourselves from the dividing walls we built.
Everything and everybody needs energy to perform work.
We say that we feel energized when we are involved in something that increases our desire and ability to perform in any way. It’s something we can feel at a physical level. Our body is vibrating, ready to release, or I should say transfer that energy through some creative or transformative work.
This morning I woke up feeling all but energized. I crawled out of bed more than an hour later than what I planned and wanted. My head heavy and my body ached in a few places. With a bad mood about a day started with the wrong foot, I dragged my self to the kitchen to do some stretching when I realized I was wrong.
I wasn’t late at all. All of a sudden, I’ve been gifted with an hour.
I felt a surge in my energy, at all levels: physical, mental and emotional.
And that made me think and ask myself: Where is my energy coming from? What is my source of energy?
I haven’t found a clear answer yet, but I have two new questions to work on, Today. And that is definitely energizing.
Plus, I learned about “Potentiality and actuality“, two principles defined by Aristotle about which I want to learn more.
Three weeks ago, my partner moved abroad for a project. She’s going to be away for a while, so we’re both dealing with the challenges that this experience brought in our lives.
Obviously, the biggest one is the distance, but there’s another one I wasn’t expecting; the loss of rhythm.
We’ve been apart before, but it was always for shorter periods. This time we’re talking months. And something happened in my head since the very first week.
My flow and productivity got disrupted like never before. Since day one, I’ve been struggling to keep my routines and habits.
It took me a while to realize what was happening.
I’ve lost my rhythm.
Over the years, we built our own unique rhythm. A rhythm on which I can improvise, create and follow the flow without getting lost. A rhythm that keeps me grounded.
I feel like I’m without my metronome.
And it is clearly affecting my energy and my flow.
Everyone is unique, but I’ve learned how important it is for me to have a basic rhythm in my life, on top of which I can improvise and move freely.
So, now my new challenge is to find a new way to keep the beat until she’s back.