One Apple A Day #492 – embrace your emotions

In the early 1990s, the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and his wife Hanna where studying patients with brain lesions that were affecting their ability to feel emotions but not their reason capabilities. They observed that when emotions and feelings are impaired, we are unable to make decisions.

Anytime we need to make a choice, we all want to make the most reasonable and objective one. This is particularly true in working environments. We are often pushed to leave our emotions out and make rational choices. The incredible amount of data to which we have access at any moment should always allow us to make the right or at least a good decision.
But does it?
I remember when we had to choose our second flat to rent in London. We spent weeks browsing websites, talking with agencies and viewing options to find the perfect fit. In the end, we choose one that ticks all the boxes. We never really enjoyed that place. After one year we started looking again. Only this time we left more space to our feeling. We ended up with the most unexpected, and a bit fool choice, where we had our best time in London.

What would happen if, instead of ignoring them, we observe and become aware of our emotions and feeling?

“It is emotion that allows you to mark things as good, bad, or indifferent.” — Antonio Damasio

One Apple A Day #485 – being in awe

Last week I was in Rome and, no matter how many time I’ve already visited, I’m always in awe before the majesty of the buildings, temples, fountains, squares, churches, palaces. Everything in Rome is monumental.
I was reminded of this article I read about the positive effect of experiencing awe in our life.

Being before a temple that is more than 2000 years old, forced me to redefine my perspective on time. It the same feeling I had when I was driving in Patagonia. That vastity redefined my perspective on space. Art is another source of awe, a glimpse into the vastity of human beauty and creativity.

According to Amie Gordon, PhD, Principal Research Scientist in the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of California-San Francisco, awe is about novelty and vastness. Something that doesn’t fit with what we already know and forces us to change our perspective.

It would be easy to think that the only sources of awe are external experiences.
But look at children, they live in a state of awe. Because they know less they create the experience of newness and vastity our of everything.

We should learn from them the art of being inspired.

One Apple A Day #479 – something to die for

“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.”

With this sentence, Jane Philpott, Treasury Board President of the Canada government closed the message in which she announced her resignation.
This message struck me because yesterday night I was reflecting about another, more famous, quote.

“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Albeit I love this quote, it always makes me feel a little uncomfortable.
Martin Luther King was fighting for a high but dangerous cause. A cause that was going to change the world, or at least his country, forever. He was aware of the risks of pursuing his vision and, in the end, he died for it.

But, how does it apply to me?
Since yesterday, I’ve been pondering on this question.
Nothing I do is putting my life at stake.
Sure, I have my values and principles on which I’m not willing to compromise, but saying that it’s something I would die for seams a bit of stretch.

Then, this morning I was reading this article about the political crisis in Canada, and I found that sentence. And it hit me.

If I abstract MLK’s message from his historical context then “to die for” means “to give up everything”, including that same thing you are fighting for.

The question then becomes “what are you willing to sacrifice your career for?” or “what are you willing to let your company die for?”.

These are questions I can work with.

One Apple A Day #475 – a meaningful job

We are all aware of the importance of finding meaning in what we do. In this McKinsey’s article, the authors say that “increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work” has a huge impact on people’s performances.

If you do a quick search online, you will find plenty of articles with suggestions on how to find a meaningful job.
However, there is a high probability that the quest for a meaningful job will be delusional for many.
Because a job does not have a meaning on its own. It is just a job.
As much as an object is just an object.
We infuse meaning in things, including jobs.
We can not expect for our job or for anything else to give meaning to our life. We are the only ones who can give meaning to our lives.
We must look inside, dig out our values and aspirations, understand what really matters for us and then we can infuse meaning in what we do.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly.” — Viktor E Frankl

One Apple A Day #470 — my life council

You’ve probably heard or read about the “board of directors” or “supervisory board” concerning big companies.
A board is a group of persons having supervisory or advisory powers over a company. They usually hire, support and supervise the people leading the company, the CEO and the executive directors.

When I think at a board the image that comes to my mind is one of a council of wise and elderlies people. I’ve never been part of a board, but I’m pretty sure my image is not accurate.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I believe that everyone should have a board. A council of wise people ready to give advice and support.
How easier would it be if you could ask for advice when you have to make a tough choice?

So, every year I appoint my “supervisory board”, or as I prefer to call it, my “life council”.
Within there are a few people that inspire me and to which I turn to in search of wisdom.
When I have to take a tough decision, or I don’t know what to do, I summon my council and ask for advice.
In my council, there can be people that I never met such as writers, historical figures or fictional characters. There are also people I know, but they don’t need to know that they are part of my council.
It is, indeed a virtual council.

Fancy creating your own life council? Just take a piece of paper and jot down the name of a few people whose words and actions are sources of wisdom for you. Then, anytime you feel stuck just open that piece of paper and ask yourself “what would they do in this situation?”.

Be aware, they can just give advice.
The responsibility for your choice is all yours.

One Apple A Day #465 – being real

“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.” — C.G. Jung

We all want to be loved, liked and appreciated.
The desire to belong is one of the basic human needs.
Sometimes thou, this can get in the way of our ability to live fully.
Particularly at this moment in history, when we are all overexposed.
We begin to focus more on being, or I should better say appearing, good than on being real.
At least, this is what happened to me.
Growing up I’ve always been a good guy.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing.
But at some point, I got stuck in that role.
I believed that being “the good guy” was the reason why people loved me.
So, I did that.
For the first thirty years of my life, I sealed any potential shadows away.
I wanted everyone to see only the lights.
Including me, and that’s the worse part.
I was deliberately ignoring my shadows.
But they didn’t go away just because I ignored them.
And in doing so, I was neglecting my wholeness.
It didn’t last.
You can’t sustain an entire life without substance, without being whole.
I had the opportunity to restart, and I started by acknowledging and taking care of my shadows.

It was nice to be good.
But it’s even better to be real.

One Apple A Day #463 – Honest conversations

I began journaling years ago.
It’s one of the morning rituals that help me reconnect with myself.
Over the year I’ve adapted my journaling to my changes, but one thing never changed; I never read what I write. Never.
Once my thoughts and feelings are out of my mind and heart, black ink on white paper, they are gone.
I don’t read what I write in my journal because I soon realized how hard it can be to have an honest conversation with myself.
Every transformation starts with an honest conversation. One in which we acknowledge that we want to change something and we bring it out in the light.
I always knew that these kinds of conversations with others are difficult. There is the fear of the judgment, of the pain that we can feel or cause, of the unknown that can emerge.
But it was only when I started journaling that I realized how hard it can be to have an honest conversation with myself.
I never thought that I could be so good avoiding the truth when talking with myself. I could lie to myself even when I know, obviously, that I am lying.

Yet, no transformation can start without an honest conversation with myself. My never-read-it-again journaling ritual is a safe space where I can have a frank dialogue with me.

Do you have a safe space where you can talk honestly with yourself?

One Apple A Day #450 – Breathe

Take a pause.

Breathe.

In the last two days, I discovered the power of slowing down.
It is as if all the parts of me, that have been flying around while I was busy doing stuff, all of a sudden sank back and I’m whole again.

You are pulled in many directions every day; your attention and energy split in small streams.
But the world around you spins so fast that you struggle to keep the pace while keeping all the parts of your life together.
All of you together.
You’ve learned to prioritise and focus on one thing to maximise your performance. And in doing this, sometimes you feel you are sacrificing your integrity.
Your wholeness.

I see you.

I feel the same.

That’s why I’ve decided to take a pause last days.
To slow down until I was staying still.
And while all those streams, all those part of me were coming home, I began feeling whole again.

If you feel you’re losing your integrity, just breathe.
Take a pause.
Even if only for a few seconds.
Take a pause and just breathe.

One Apple A Day #449 – One love

“Our longing for love comes from the intuition of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira

What is the shape of love?
What is its form?
What objective qualities does it have?

Because, if we want to hold or own something, then that thing must have a form in time or space, some objective or material qualities.
Only when something can be objectively defined, we can perceive it as a separate entity. Something separated from ourselves and everything else. Something that we can observe.

But love?
Love has no shape.
Love is transparent and non-objective.
Love is formless.

How can you observe it? How can recognise it as different from something else? How can you say what it yours and what not?

So, if love is formless, then it can’t be divided into pieces.
The love I experience is the same love you experience.
Our experiences are different, but love is the same.
This is why our mind can not grasp it.
Our thoughts are objective and limited.
Words are limited.
So, we ask artists to describe something that cannot be explained but only felt.

We all are immersed in the same love.
But sometimes, layers or resistances and obstacles keep us away from feeling it.
The quest for love is not a journey to something.
It’s not about doing something.
It’s about sinking in our own being.

“The experience of love is precisely that experience, the experience of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #436 – you don’t have to fix everything

The other morning I was waiting at the traffic light for my turn to cross the road. Before me a couple with two dogs, a big one and a small one. Both beautiful and sociable. The smaller one, in particular, was cute and playful. When the light went green, and we all cross the road, I noticed that it cannot move one of its legs, but it was walking and jumping around as if everything was normal.
It made me think about our ability to adapt to our own limitations.

At the end of 2015, I realised that something had to change in my life.
I began my self-awareness journey reading, studying and doing self-development programs. I quickly realised that I was the one that had to change. I needed to transform myself so I double-in my commitment to self-development. I read and studied more, completed better programs, talked with many people to seek advice.
With every insight I was discovering about myself, new opportunities to grow and change were emerging.
It was an exciting journey.
The feeling of transformation was addictive, and I wanted to change everything. To become better and better.
Until I got stuck.
A few things were not changing despite all my efforts.
And I felt like I wasn’t making any real progress.

That was the moment when I learned that there are parts of me I can not change. No matter how hard I try, I won’t change them.

We don’t have to fix everything. Sometimes we have to accept that there are things we cannot change and with this valuable insight move on and live our life.

“When we let go of the things we cannot change, it frees up the energy to focus on changing the things we can.” — Tasha Eurich