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Posts Tagged ‘possibility’

Clutter and mind

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

august10_unclutter-your-table

A strong autumn wind found its way into the office, ecstatic about all the papers, post-it notes, pens and nicknacks on the desk. Spinning them around, leaving nothing unturned. Until it had played enough and dropped everything.

This is how my office desk looked like, every day. Piles of paper, important documents, funny things, notes, pens, you name it. When I would start my working day in the morning and looked at my desk, I felt overwhelmed. My breath became heavier, my shoulders carried an invisible weight.

Nothing seemed to stand out.

Everything was important.

Where to start.

Kadira at Unfolding Creativity has written a great post about developing a working habit that supports you. Originally written for artists, it can just as easily be adapted to any kind of work you do. One of the things Kadira is emphasizing is that clearing your work space helps you clear your mind and therefore helps you focus on your art.

Filling your desk with clutter is a habit. A habit you might want to examine about its usefulness and its role. Many people tell me that they can’t live without clutter because this is who they are. They need it, they say. And I understand. It took me a while to create a new habit of keeping my desk clear of unnecessary clutter.

Our brain has the tendency to focus on what is right in front of us. Now that I keep my desk empty, I find it easier to decide what is important, where to start and to keep focused. The weight on my shoulders has lifted.

When was the last time you looked at your working habits. Review them from time to time, to see whether they support you or undermine your efforts.

You might also want to read:
How to reduce distractions and stay focused
Create space for clarityA fresh sheet of paper

Images: Some rights reserved by neofob
Some rights reserved by aloshbennett

Do your strategies still work, today?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

august10_do-your-strategies-still-work

I have been reading Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. In this book he asks us to question the current work system and whether we want to be part of an old or a new one.

Although most of us might assume the system we work in is how it has always been and will be, Seth makes a point in questioning those assumptions. He urges us to explore different, and maybe unfamiliar, ways of working. Ways that make you stand out, and are essentially more aligned with who you want to be.

This got me thinking. While he talks about business, I am wondering when you last questioned the approaches and strategies in your personal life?

Are you disappointed about outcomes that seem to repeat themselves? Do you regularly discover ways of doing that might not work anymore? Maybe there are some that belong to your younger self, not the current self.

From the day we are born we learn how to react to all kinds of situations, consciously and unconsciously. We develop coping strategies that help us deal with difficult situations. In the past they helped us a lot, but are they still useful today?

The point is that we often apply those learned responses and coping strategies without thinking twice about it. If you are not happy with certain outcomes, maybe it is time to start exploring whether you might be able to do things differently.

You might also want to read:
What motivates you
Do you know your why?
Ten important questions to ask yourself
Do your beliefs support you or hold you back?

Image: Some rights reserved by hojusaram

Wherever you go, there you are

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

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Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Wherever you go there you are” is one of those books I haven’t put back on the bookshelf after I finished reading it. From time to time I just re-read one of its short chapters. Sometimes as a reminder, inspiration or to regain some simplicity in my life.

Over the last few years I have gradually integrated mindfulness in my life. This practice helps me live my life fuller and more aware. It fosters my curiosity and opens a door to all my emotions, feelings, thoughts and visions in my life. The more mindful my way of living becomes the more freedom I feel I create wherein I can make choices and welcome changes.


I want to share with you a few things I have learned

1. Become aware of what is going on in your body and your mind.

2. Get in touch with the many aspects of your life. The dark faces, the pain, the fear, the happiness, the joyous moments, habits, assumptions, judgements, struggles, your beliefs.

3. Acknowledge that what is happening is happening.

4. The more you practice mindfulness the more you will see things clearly and you will be able to position yourself differently in relationship to them.

5. Let go: Holding on to your struggles, your likes and dislikes, hold you back in discovering and expanding your possibilities. Allow things to be as they are for you to find your own way.

6. Find your moments of simplicity: Even in a life where you have to manage family, work, children, friends, etc.
Choose to do one thing at a time. Start with small things. Do them mindfully.

7. Stop what you are doing: From time to time, take time out to observe what you see, hear, feel, what is happening around you.

8. Ask yourself “Where is my mind right now?” Do this a few times a day. You will be surprised how often your mind is not here, but visiting other places.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”

Swami Satchitananda in “Wherever you go there you are”

You might also want to read:
Video: Mindfulness with Jon-Kabatt ZInn

Dream, Dare, Do

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

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Thinking about the kind of changes you want to make in your life is an important first step to take. Maybe you want to feel better, improve the relationship with your partner or want to have a better job. Where most of us get stuck is how to translate our wish for change into actions. There is often a big gap between knowing what you want to change and actually doing it. At times it can be overwhelming because you don’t know where to start or fear comes in the way.

Ben Tiggelaar, bestselling author, researcher and speaker in the field of leadership, change and human behavior has written about what it takes to go from thinking to doing in “Dream, Dare, Do”.



Here are some useful tips from his article I want to share with you:

1. Your daily behaviour determines the results in your life. The things you do every day are critical.

2. When you translate goals into specific behavior you significantly increase your chance to achieve those goals.

3. You don’t have to become a different person, when you want to change. Just be more like yourself as you are in your best moments.

4. Become aware of your exceptionally good moments and describe in detail what you are doing in those moments.

5. Plan ahead. Come up with actions you can apply in times when you encounter obstacles or setbacks.

Read in more detail how you can make lasting change here.

Create space for clarity

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

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In the weekend I listened to an interview between Björk and Arvo Pärt. Two of my favourite musicians. Both of them, though in different genres, have developed their own unique style of music. In this short interview Björk describes to Arvo Pärt how she experiences his music: “you give the listener space”. This really fascinated me. An image immediately emerged: I was moving and floating between the sounds in a white room. It also reminded me how much clutter there often is in our life. This clutter or noise prevents us from moving around. Arvo Pärt uses sounds sparingly. He doesn’t want to waste musical notes as a filler or background. If you are interested listen to his piece “Für Alina”.

This interview reinforced the message that there is this space where we have the freedom of choice. Take this excerpt from Victor Frankl’s book “A man’s search for meaning”*

    Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.



Unfortunately, sometimes we fill up this space with clutter and forget it even exists. The result. We don’t think we have any choice but are at the whim of what is directing us. Think of a time when you were highly stressed. Did you feel you had the power to make decisions within that situation?

How can you re-create this space?

Simplify and emptiness

    “ I felt the need to concentrate on each sound, so that every blade of grass would be as important as a flower” - Arvo Pärt

In his music Arvo Pärt is giving the listeners time and space to give attention to just one sound at a time without being distracted by any background noises. Also photography, art, or story telling, aims to direct our attention to just one spot. Artists create a focal point and therefore create clarity and space for us to move around and to make meaning for ourselves. Each sound or focal point has an empty space in and around it. This space creates the possibilities for growth, for explorations, for improvements and for change.

The more clutter we have in life the more confused and uncertain our life seems. Take the beginning of your day, how did you wake up this morning. Already planning the day while you were brushing your teeth? This is a great way to fill your empty space before the day has even started. Maybe you want to start your day tomorrow by just focusing on what you are doing. When you brush your teeth just observe how you do that, how the brush feels. When it is time to plan what you have to do on that day, just do that.

Here are a few questions that you might want to ask yourself

How much space do you have between the sounds in your life?
What area in your life you feel is too cluttered, or maybe too foggy to see clearly?
How could you start to create some empty spaces?
What are the sounds that you make? Which of them are necessary, which ones are just fillers?

I am curious what you do to get more clarity and transparency for the different areas in your life?

You might also want to read:
How to reduce distractions and stay focused
Do you know where you are going
A fresh sheet of paper

* “A man’s search for meaning”: this is Frankl’s personal essay of his imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps and describes the psychotherapeutic method that he pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps.
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