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8 Mind-Changing Books I’ve Read in 2014

Just before I start, I must admit that I’ve listened to most of these books, rather than read them. I’ve just used the word “read” in the title because I couldn’t find a better word, and “finished” was too long and inexpressive. To me, it doesn’t matter what the method was, as long as I’ve gained the knowledge, but Audible has been a great addition to my life in the past 2 years.

I’ve always loved books. I love browsing through libraries and bookstores, I have a notable affinity towards places full of books from ground to ceiling (literally), I was just never self-disciplined enough to read when I was younger. I love knowledge, and I always have, but as a kid, I just always felt overwhelmed by long books, and I usually didn’t commit to reading the books I bought.

In the past few years, this has been gradually changing, and a few days ago I realized I’ve finished 27 books in 2014. If you’re a reader, I’m pretty sure you’ve finished more than that 2 and a quarter books per month. However, as I’ve stated earlier, I’m a person who’s always loved books, I just always kept them stored, so this is the year’s proudest accomplishment.

Unfortunately, with my current obsession, I’ve realized that my life won’t be long enough to read all the books I’m interested in as well as still have a life outside them, so I’m becoming more picky and experienced in choosing my books, and this year I’m aiming on selecting books with a deeper meaning, and which help me go through an even deeper level of exploration.

I’m writing this blogpost to share my top 8 books of 2014, promising that they will not be a waste of time for you, or at least I hope they wont. So here they are in random order:

Quiet – Susan Cain

I’ve written a whole post dedicated to this book and how it made me start questioning many things in my past, present, and future. What I’ve learned most through time is that being an extrovert is not ideal for everyone, and that I should feel comfortable in my own skin, not always strive to fit in that ideal. What I’ve learned from the book is that most people think the same, but that introverts have so many natural benefits that we can learn from, and that when communicating with others, we should be empathic enough to understand where they’re coming from.

This book is worth a read, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert or something in between.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

If I would choose one of these books as my favorite, it would be this one. This book was the most influential for me this year, to the extent that I recommended it to many friends, and even bought it as a gift to a dear friend of mine, with complete conviction that she will love it.

In the War of Art, Steven Pressfield discusses his ideas regarding procrastinating on our biggest dreams, and how our fear (like fear of failure, or even fear of success) creates resistance which gets us stuck. He criticises the artist in us who’s often a dreamer, a perfectionist, and not a doer, at least not consistently. This book is perfect for you if you’re always dreaming about what you want to accomplish, but you’re not doing anything about it. It’s going to intrude deeply and within your soul and show you how to connect to your inner being. This book isn’t about being more productive, it’s a guide to connect to your creative self and really break the barriers of resistance.

Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

Know nothing about philosophy but want to at least have an idea? Sophie’s World is gonna give you more than that. Jostein Gaarder tells a story of a little girl who one day gets a letter asking her, “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?”.

Ignore what I said about learning philosophy, yes the book does help with that, however, this book will feed your mind with questions, and confuse you. It’ll ask you the same questions it’s asking Sophie. You will realize that everything you thought you knew is actually an infinitesimal amount of knowledge you can know, which is way less than what you will never figure out. You will find your story in Sophie’s.

What Are You Hungry For? – Deepak Chopra

If being healthy, fit and light is a priority for you and something you’re willing to focus on, this book’s definitely for you. Deepak Chopra helps you realize that hunger doesn’t have to be hunger for food, and that the reason you’re unhappy with your body is most probably not even related to the fact that you overeat. This book taught me a lot about how my view of myself, self-limiting beliefs and insecurities are the real reasons I fill myself up with food, which is only a short term satisfaction. Dr. Chopra has guided me into digging deeper and getting to know myself more rather than just my body, and that our bodies follow our innermost courage or fear. This book fed my soul.

The Secrets of the Power of Intention – Dr. Wayne D. Dyer

The Secrets of the Power of Intention is actually a lecture presented by Dr. Dyer. It might seem a bit too religious or spiritual for some, but I personally loved the concept of the field of intention. Dr. Dyer discusses the difference between “doing” and “being”. We all know that doing is very difficult, we barely start new projects, and when we do, we barely finish them unless we absolutely have to. In this lecture, Wayne Dyer turns doing into being, being part of a field of intention, an energy field and the choice to feel good that give us the effortless momentum we often lack when we’re just focused on action. Loved listening to it, and I would do it over and over again.

One More Thing – B.J. Novak

Some might argue that this book doesn’t teach you a lot because it’s a couple of comedy, short stories. I completely disagree, because I’ve enjoyed this book beyond any other form of entertainment. The stories were so unique and interesting, and I fell in love with B.J. Novak, that I’m now convinced I should watch all of his creations.

If I have to say what I learned from this book, it would be the fact that you can always take something further, creatively. A lot of the stories here are based on other, older stories, but the way they changed throughout really astonished me. This book is bold, the ideas in the stories are things you probably never ever thought of.

David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my most respected authors. He’s the perfect example of how you can provide scientific research and results in the most fluid manner. It was difficult for me to recommend David & Goliath, because I love all of Gladwell’s books including Blink, the Tipping Point, and Outliers, and I think they’re all worth reading. However, this one’s the most meaningful to me.

Gladwell discusses the advantages of disadvantages and the disadvantages of advantages, it helped me comprehend that I can find positive things in my hardships, and that I have to use my privileges right so they don’t go to waste. It also makes me believe in everyone, no matter how unfortunate or fortunate they are. With plenty of stories presented as examples, Gladwell will also ask you reflective questions which might help you set new values and find unfamiliar ways to approach some major life decisions.

Creative Confidence – Tom Kelley & David Kelley

And last but not least, Creative Confidence. Before you skip to the end, this book doesn’t target creatives only. On the contrary, this books tells everyone that whatever they’re doing, they can be creative and they can change the world with that. Design thinking is a huge part of this book. The book is also rich with examples and stories from all over the world of how people created impactful products, services and startups in a very short time, and how they’ve pivoted along the way, away from their initial solutions.

This is a great read for creatives and non-creatives, but especially for people in or approaching the startup life.

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Mindset, Clarity, and Loving Life

More often than not, I come across friends and strangers who are completely unaware about how they’re choosing to see life. Many of those people then go through a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts, getting them to end up feeling ungrateful, worthless, depressed, and even suicidal. Even though almost everyone in this life will go through a life-changing challenge or a few, I’ve seen that the people who have a mindful and aware mindset come out of these challenges strong and powerful rather than beaten.

Some people I know have gone through very difficult things like death of a parent/child, or being abused as a child, and seem to still be able to appreciate the small things and feel grateful about the life they’re living. While others, could go through something like a heartbreak or being rejected by someone they love, which in retrospect, is trivial, and end up feeling worthless and disappointed in God or life, not wanting to live another day.

I am not belittling pain, and I hope that I am right about the fact that I will always have an option about how I choose to see things and feel about them. The thing is, it’s not what you’ve been through that breaks you, it’s your mindset of feeling powerless and giving up, instead of doing something about it, or working on how you will accept it. If you want to be ungrateful, you will always find something to make you feel that way, no matter how good life is, and the opposite is also true.

Another thing is, it is never too late to alter the way you think. Never. Our brains are fascinating, they make it easy for us to change anything, even if this has been a thought we’ve been thinking everyday since we were born, all we have to do it know that we are capable of physically reshaping how we think. Our brains have synapses and neural pathways which work in a certain way. The thoughts and things we do (physical and mental) over and over again carve specific pathways, when we replace that thought or habit, our brain follows new pathways, and forgets about old ones.

Think of it this way, the first time you ever drove to a new job, you might have been a little bit confused. However, the fact that you drove to the same job everyday for a while got you used to it, that it started to feel like your car just knows which turns to take. It became very automatic. You just had to practice it a few times first, and then the road was engraved.

Neuroplasticity is exactly that! It’s proof that our brains are not static organs, you can reshape your brain over and over again however many times you want, all you have to do is show it which stream to follow, and it will keep doing that, using the older streams less and less. All it takes is a decision.

If you’re going through a negative phase right now, here are some things I like to do that help me get out of being overwhelmed with negativity. Remember that what you want to do is change your brain to feel this less often, that means that you can’t jump from total sadness to extreme joy, it’s just not realistic. You won’t believe it, you’d just be numbing it out, which is not the point. Again, if you can’t change the situation or what got you here in the first place, the next action step should be to accept and forgive.

1. Focus Wheel (Extracted from Abraham Hicks’ many teachings):

One of the things that help me feel better almost instantly is usually diminishing my troubles and gaining perspective. Your problem, it’s not that big, there are people who are in way worse circumstances. The first step is to identify how you’re feeling, and the fact that you want to take an active role in changing it. You need a pen and paper for this exercise, feel free to do the steps as you read this. Do not right down the negative emotion, just know it in your head. What you want to draw is a circle, with the outcome you want in the end, inside it. So if you’re feeling demotivated to get a job done, you want to write something on the lines of, “I am feeling enthusiastic and motivated to finish this task with ease.” Don’t worry, you don’t have to believe it yet, you just want to expect this outcome with optimism, and write it as if you’re really feeling it now, don’t worry about how.

Draw another big circle around the one you started with, and divide the space between the 2 circles into 8 to 12 equal steps. Number these sections from 1-8/12. Starting with 1, write down your current (negative) emotion or problem. It would probably be something like, “I am feeling lazy and shitty.”

The aim from step 1 until the end is to choose a slightly better feeling thought every step of the way, so your brain can actually believe it. In 2, you could accept the fact that you’re feeling lazy. After that, 3, you can express that you know you’ve had way more difficult/boring tasks before. Then you want to, 4, take it to the next level telling yourself that it’s an unworthy burden, so you might as well get it done. Then, 5, write about how it actually won’t take as much time as you think. Keep going and going until you’ve filled up all the steps, choosing something better every time, with the purpose of feeling enthusiastic/joyful in the end.

Take your time with each step, and really raise your emotional level to that thought, don’t just write it, the point is to become more aware about how small and insignificant in your life this can be once its over.

2. Count your blessings/Write a list:

Being consumed in the big unfortunate thing happening in your life at the moment will keep you stuck there, when it’s probably not something that is worth it. You know what they say about gratitude, “count your blessings.” So do that, don’t just count them, write them in a list. If you’re feeling worthless, write the things you love about yourself, and if you can’t write a lot, ask your friends and family what they love about you most. Negativity makes us blind to all the good things around us, but if you just take 10 minutes to be thankful for the bed you get to sleep on and the roof over your head, it will make you realize that no matter how bad you’ve got it, there are people out there who are in way more gruelling predicaments.

3. Meditate:

Meditation is all about being fully aware of the present moment, and watching your thoughts pass by but without them rushing into your mind and staying there, also without judgement. It’s all about clarity. Meditation isn’t only done while you’re sitting in a certain position and being guided by a recorded voice of a Buddhist monk. Meditation could be anything that calms your mind and settles it. Find your own meditation, whether it be writing, painting, taking photographs, or anything that keeps undeserving thoughts from ruining your clarity.

If you do prefer to meditate in the more traditional way, there are phone apps like “Stop, Breathe and Think”, “Digipill” as well as loads of Youtube videos to help you become more soothed. So take a short break that will get your mind off the problem, and you will realize that it no longer has to occupy space in your head.

4. Sleep it off, but decide to wake up feeling better:

“Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.” Because of our, once again, fascinating brains, we should all agree with this quote by Henry Ford. If you’ve got the confident optimism that you are powerful, your brain will believe that and help you accomplish whatever it is you’re wishing for. Maybe all you need is some sleep, so call it a day, and promise yourself that once you just get some rest, you will be waking up feeling fresh and crisp, just believe that without thinking about how, and it’ll come as long as you don’t doubt it. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to do everything yourself, your brain can help, even while you’re sleeping. You can do it!

5. Cleanse your anxiety away:

With dust everywhere around us in Cairo, it’s easy to say we’re all pretty contaminated after a long day outside. What you can do is actually use this to your advantage, and imagine that the dust and mud represent your worries and anxiety. Go for a shower and really savor it, enjoy the heat or the chill of the water, whichever you prefer, and imagine that you’re not only cleansing your body, you’re also cleansing your soul. Turn the everyday experience into a non-physical one as well.

6. Give:

Did you know that it’s scientifically proven that if you give away a small percentage of your money to others, you become happier about how you spent it? Now I’m not saying you have to buy someone a gift (unless you want to), all I’m saying is, if giving money makes you happier, wouldn’t giving positive emotions give you joy as well? Don’t you feel happy when other people around you are happy? Doesn’t joy multiply infinitely when it’s shared, rather than become depleted? Next time you’re feeling low, try to give someone a hug rather than asking for one, you’ll be surprised at how good supplying love makes you feel. Be like the Queen of Fire:

“The Queen of Fire is so rich, so much a queen, that she can afford to give. It doesn’t even occur to her to take inventories or to put something aside for later. She dispenses her treasures without limits, welcoming all and sundry to partake of the abundance, fertility and light that surrounds her.”

Extracted from the “Sharing” card from Osho Zen Tarot.

7. Walk/Dance/Skate it off:

When you’re feeling stuck with a problem, you want to, in a way, distract yourself, and not think too consciously about it. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Just cut off thinking about the problem, and do something that your body knows how to do, which would keep your attention on something general like your body. You will feel better, maybe because your blood flow will increase, or perhaps because good ideas will rush towards you making you feel better than A-OK.

8. Trust the process and the outcome:

Lastly, more frequently than not, we feel confused, lost and unhappy due to things not happening like we want them to, or taking too long to flourish. This is when you need to remember to trust the process. Stop working so hard on how you’re going to make everything happen, everything is happening as long as you’re positive about the outcome and you trust it. Just relax, and let things be, knowing that everything will fall into place. You’re here for joy.

I feel substantially good just to be writing this. Thank you for reading.

Many of the ideas in this blogpost were inspired by:

Abraham Hicks

Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley

Osho Zen Tarot – Cards

The Positives of the Negatives

Chaos that is constant in places including, but not limited to, Cairo really affects me negatively, every single day. People, whether I work with them or deal with them in public places are also a source of that negativity, partly. I think this is the story of everyone’s life, but we don’t realize that the unclear haze is within us. Condemning the outside world never changes anything, and here’s my take on how bad things make you believe and stay positive by choice.

Being a person who often falls in the above trap, I’m trying to exercise having more compassionate and patient habits. I started taking mental notes of the positives and negatives in my daily life. It feels great to wake up in the morning feeling enthusiastic about the day and looking forward to it, but with the inescapable negative stimulation I encounter, I feel drained and therefore end up feeling sorry for myself (doesn’t feel good), or blaming other people and the outside circumstances (only feels good for a short while). In the long run, this doesn’t do me any good or give me the inner peace I’d rather thrive with. Reacting mindlessly and with anger, or even not realizing that I have an option gets me behind, it never takes me forward, and this is why I’ve decided to get myself more aware about it.

Reacting and responding are too very similar yet very different processes. They’re usually outcomes of a situation, and they can both be good or bad. Reacting is easy, it’s quick and it’s usually a bad habit, but it could also be a plus if you’re avoiding an accident. While responding is a more well-thought, possibly kinder, practiced acknowledgment of a certain thing. It’s usually the right thing to do unless speed is needed. Mindfulness is the trick. It’s the catch. Mindfulness isn’t the easiest of practices, but once you’re aware, the path to mastering it only gets smoother.

Last week, I’ve talked about passion and how our choices can affect us from accomplishing what we’re most passionate about. Believe it or not, mindfulness has got a lot to do with passion. I’ve mentioned how things like gossiping, not having alone time, and doing things without savoring them can be huge barriers, and they’re obviously negative things that keep you in that same state, not on the bright side of life. I believe that instead of dreading our lives, we should get a thrill out of them and they should mostly be joyful!

This is what I’m reminding myself of from now on:

There’re a positive in every negative, and by focusing on it and relying on your power to be disciplined with your thoughts rather than letting go to anger and frustrations, you will start experiencing control over your life and emotions, instead of feeling powerless and being controlled by your environment.

The best part about having the choice is that you can always find a way out. A few days ago, I was sitting with a dear friend, and she went on and on about how her boss is unfair and judgemental. I don’t mind listening to my friends when they need someone to lend an ear, but at some point, the venting makes things worse, not more relieving. This conversation made me realize that I really am convinced that energy plays a big role in our life, and whichever type we feed, grows.

When my friend continued, I decided to stop her at some point, and reminded her that her boss is probably at home having fun with her family, while she is sitting and discussing a person who consumes 8 hours of her day already, still wasting her own time.

Since the attitude exchanged between people can really affect their moods, I’ve learned that the way to keep both sides feeling good was to engage in some energy Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu, a martial art, combat sport and self defense system, asserts that a smaller/weaker person can practice the technique and defeat a person who’s larger and believed to be stronger. The catch is, Jiu Jitsu, in its core, is basically the tactic to expertly seize the strength and power of the opponent and use it for your advantage.

Relating to the conversation I wrote about before that, the concept of Jiu Jitsu can easily be applied to negative and positive energy and how it doesn’t have to affect us. Consider the negative energy to be the larger opponent, if not taken a responsive action against, it will stay scary and big. If, however, the technique is done right, what seemed to be fragile can win. I’m assuming focusing can be shattered by distractions when you’re new at it.

So in the event of being surrounded by someone who’s in a negative frame of mind, take that person’s energy and remind them that they’re only affecting themselves by staying in that place. Be persistent and assertive, you will nourish your own belief, you’ve just benefited from someone’s complaints. We all have the tendency to take the easy way out and join in the whining about how the world is unfair. But that attitude will never change the world, just like worrying about a sick person will never make them healthier.

Another way to bring out the good is by being grateful. Gratitude and appreciation are both beautiful experiences, and they’re so easy to experience, even when you’re sad. Use your sad moments to appreciate your conditions, the fact that you have a roof over your head, the luxuries you have in your life. And appreciate knowing that whatever’s making you feel sorrowful probably wouldn’t matter in a week. Somedays are going to be brilliant, while others just won’t. Being aware of the difference is a gift.

Even if you’ve reacted, and even if you’re on your negatively programmed autopilot system, be thankful that you’re learning. Take your emotions as warning signs, things that you can change, things that aren’t worth feeling. Being reactive will teach you to be responsive, it will push you in the right direction. Acknowledge your bad reactions, forgive yourself and move on.

The heartbreaks and hardships make you who you are, they give you your edges and perks. They help you define your values, they help you get to know yourself, let them happen, let them help you. Learn to be the hero, not the victim. Your excuses won’t get you anywhere, and the more robustly you evolve out of a situation, the better you will be at life. Instead of being the person people want to avoid, be the person who carries the sunshine around, your long face will repel the rest of the sunshine, not attract it.

Long story short, nothing’s worth a troubled mind or moment, so admit it and move on. There’s virtue everywhere around us, when we choose to see it. Blaming the world won’t fix you, only you will.

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You’re Probably Living Without Passion

Most people are mediocre. Most people, just exist without questioning. They fall prey to trends and then go with the flow of whatever’s buzzing, never contemplating what’s within themselves. Most people, aren’t even aware that their lives are void.

I believe that everyone in this universe has something remarkable to offer, but they may never get to express that one-of-a-kind gift if they don’t unlock the door that’s guarding it. So here I am, writing this, because maybe I have something valuable to offer, and maybe by setting someone who’s unaware in motion, I will give them the momentum that will help them carry on.

If you’re living without passion, you’re probably just waiting for everyday to end, expecting the next day to be the same, not trying to identity what is it that fires you up. You probably don’t believe that you can accomplish something impactful one day. So whoever you are, this is a wake up call for you to step into a slightly deeper, maybe more confusing territory, and enjoy the ride!

Here are 9 signs you’re likely to be living without passion:

1. You spend time gossiping about others rather than assessing how you can make your own life better

You’re not honest. You think you are, and you tell yourself you are, but you really aren’t if you spend most of your time on other people’s business instead of yours. Yes, gossiping is that much easier. It distracts you from connecting with your inner self and makes you feel like you’re better off than other people. That might be true, but if you keep that on, you’re going to lose the race.

When you catch yourself talking about others, just make a note of it, and remind yourself that you’re not perfect either, if you were, you would have been busy building up your expertise, rather than throwing around shallow comments.

2. Your life revolves around a job you aren’t enthusiastic about

“I’ll quit when I save up enough money, or when I can say I’ve worked there for a long time.” Stop basing your life on money, and stop making life decisions considering how the next employer is going to see you. You might be good at that job, really good, but you’d be way better as an expert after practicing your unique talent. Or you might as well climb that ladder of fame, fortune, and unhappiness. People can’t thrive if they’re no longer healthy, and even though it might take you a while to become the best at what you love, the time’s going by anyway, so you might as well spend it wisely.

3. You fill your time with short-term, shallow activities instead of giving yourself time to rest in silence

Here you are again, distracting yourself from the things that really matter. You go out with the same people every time, and you prioritise your time with them over your time with yourself, getting replenished and realising that you enjoy your own company just as much.

4. You spend too much time dwelling on how someone might have hurt you and plotting your revenge

Don’t be a victim, please. That person probably didn’t mean to offend you, and they don’t even remember what happened. Becoming vengeful depletes your own energy, the energy you could be using doing things like: spending time with your family and loved ones, painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, or maybe even finding a cure for cancer!

5. You dream about what you love doing the most but think it will never be your reality

You get lost in thought before bed every night, thinking about how dreams are merely dreams, they don’t come true except if you’re lucky. And then you wake up the next morning doing the same things again. Get this, your mind and brain are versatile, you can actually change what your brain looks like by practicing new habits. As cliche as it sounds, practice does make perfect. You choose your reality, and you start where you are. You come up with a process, and you make it happen by taking baby steps. Don’t just sit there dreaming.

6. You avoid trying anything new

You’ve lost touch with your inner child, and you’ve grown up with a solid frame of mind of what you like and what you don’t. But that thing you think you don’t like, whether it is food, a game, a music genre, or an activity, have you even tried it to judge? Don’t stop yourself from doing things just because you’ve somehow managed to like or dislike them without coming into contact with them. Some experiences are bad, and some are good, but there’s always a lesson anyway. Trying new things will help you break the barriers of self judgement and judgement by others.

7. You care about how other people see you rather than how you see yourself

We all love being approved of, believe me, I’ve lived most of my life being a people pleaser. What have I learned when I’ve gotten that out of my system? I’ve become confident in my own skin, I’ve learned to trust myself and my decisions, and I’ve realised that even the oldest, most experienced people will limit you through their insecurities. You’re old enough to know whether what you’re doing is right.

8. You surround yourself with “cool” people who don’t truly love you, and neither do you love them

Yep, they’re just “cool” because they’re popular. Not because they create mind-blowing art, and not because they read books in 5 languages regularly. Instead of surrounding yourself with people who don’t even know what you love other than your favorite kind of food, be a part of a community than engages in deep knowledge regarding many interests. Hang out with the girl who takes dance classes behind her parents’ back because she’s most alive in those moments. Or the guy who reads about chemistry in his free time and wants to change the world. You will love them even if you have nothing in common but this zest for life.

9. You are inspired by people who do what they love, but you still criticise them because it probably means they’re “selfish, irresponsible, and/or lucky”

Again, don’t be a victim, please. Life hasn’t chosen to be nice to them and evil to you. You make your life. If you’re jealous, it’s a bit better than criticism, if that might fuel your fire. Now do something about it! Don’t be selfish, but be compassionate towards yourself without forgetting about others.

Are you living with or without passion?

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Visionary Becoming

I’ve always admired that girl you see on her way home from the gym or some sort of physical activity. She’s confident and fit. She’s dressed in a regular t-shirt, and regular training pants, she really isn’t waiting for your approval. She’s definitely not skinny, but slender and strong. She’s so beautiful in her own nature and comfortable in her own skin. She’s independent.

She is not pampered by everyone, and she won’t pretend to be dumb to try to get your attention. She’s just her, she’s innocent yet not naïve. Her life is clean, because that’s how she eats, but she doesn’t do it because it’s the hip thing to do, she really does enjoy real things. She sure does have an appetite, but she doesn’t feel guilty about the burger she has every once in a while, and she doesn’t pretend to be a light eater in front of you.

Our girl is definitely not a pro at what she plays, but she’s a pro at balancing it along with the many other stimulating things she turns her life into. She’s not working out for gold medals, she’s doing it because it cleanses her body, mind and soul.

She’s not a showoff, but she appreciates it when you notice her untaught charm. She’s the middle of all extremes, she’s the combination you don’t easily find. She’s bonafide. 

James Clear wrote some great stuff about identity-based goals and habits. He mostly writes about habits, and how to change them. When I first read his blog, the idea of identity-based goals and habits was completely new to me, I prefer to call it visionary becoming though. Because to find out what you want or who you want to be, you have to creatively and intuitively let your imagination run wild, without limits. You can read more about the idea here, but in a nutshell, it’s about choosing goals that are identity based rather than any other type of goal. For example, if you want to be more physically active, tell yourself “I’m the type of person who always takes the stairs,” or “I enjoy taking a walk everyday,” instead of, “I want to lose 10 kilograms.”

Doesn’t that feel better? Isn’t it more likely that you would accomplish it?

Like a lot of people, I used to beat myself up a lot about not losing weight, mainly because I never stayed consistent with my eating habits or workouts. This is changing. This is the girl I want to be. I want to be admired by people like me, to help them realise they should believe in themselves. I want my few good values to affect how productive my life is in all its other aspects. I want to be strong, even if I don’t look perfect to you. I want to love the self I have crafted with compassion. Why did I just write this? Because I’ve lived most of my life thinking that that skinny girl is better.

What I forgot to tell myself along the way was that, it isn’t about anyone else, it’s about me. She isn’t better, and I’m not better either. She might be better off though. Might

Still, I’m the hero of my own life. I am not going to be the victim, I’m going to own it. At least I have a reminder early on in my life to be healthy, I wasn’t just born skinny. I’m on my journey to fitness.

PS: Remember to really savour your good genes, your fast metabolism, and your health and wellness. They don’t last long if you’re not aware. I would know.

So next time you’re setting a goal, think about who you want to be, rather than what you want to be. 

 

Looking Within

We spend so much of our time consumed by everything and everyone around us. Our senses are always gathering information from all around, turning situations into memories that are perceived by us in ways we aren’t even conscious about. We grow up into the precious human beings we are. Most often than not, living safely, limited by our pasts, even though they’re subliminal. Some people spend their lives on the surface, where it’s safe, waiting for the next thing someone suggests for them to do. Others question, and those are the ones who change the world.

It’s fascinating how memories are formed and then stored mostly in our unconscious, especially that the ones that give you your core values, insecurities and fears are mostly formed when you’re a child. The downside of that is, when we’re children, we don’t know what’s wrong and what’s right. I’m not talking about the obvious things like touching a mug that’s too warm or playing with electricity sockets. I’m talking about not being able to recognize healthy/unhealthy patterns of communication between the people and things that are in proximity to us. We are naturally more innocent, we are compassionate and we do things out of love. This also means that seeing people around you fighting constantly might have you justify this as normal in your head, because you love feeling positive, rather than feeling down.

Think of all the different small and big, subliminal and obvious, things that we’re surrounded by everyday. Give it a minute or two to really absorb that information. No wonder a lot of us are screwed.

This last statement sounds like it’s coming from a complete pessimist, while on the contrary, I would definitely call myself an optimist. I try to focus on the better side of the world, and I have hope about change, I have hope about humanity. Here’s the catch, knowing that we’re screwed is what makes us better. In fact, the more honest about it with ourselves, the more true to ourselves, and thus the closer we are to reaching our potential.

I always hear that we’re all here for a reason, we’re all here to impact in a way or another. And even though I believe in that fully, I would say it’s more out of optimism, rather than evidence. Because why do some people live without trying to find their purpose? Am I super intelligent for going on that journey, or is it pure luck? Was I just born this way, or have I done something that made me earn this? It’s a matter of nature vs. nurture for me.

These questions keep floating in my head, and I don’t have a guarantee that I’ve found the cure. But this one goes to honesty, letting go, and compassion.

Why do some people live without trying to find their purpose?

– Because it’s not easy to be honest, not at all. The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. They range from, “Life doesn’t have to have purpose because in the end we will all die and get a reward from God if we just suffer in silence,” to, “Who am I to impact others? I am not good enough.” It’s so sad how we respect and await other people’s approval so much, when we don’t even approve of ourselves. I admit it, it’s easier, it’s way easier to be on auto-pilot, blaming everything on our circumstances, when we aren’t anything but who we are. We aren’t the people who have influenced us, we are what we’ve chosen to be, and chosen to not be. My point is, we really are here for a reason, and this reason doesn’t have to be a goal or result, it could be the journey we take to find our purpose, this is where the magic happens.

Am I super intelligent or is it pure luck?

– Both. I am lucky, but I’m as lucky as anyone. We’ve all been blessed with something special, even those of us who are disabled are blessed. There have been loads of cases where people have been deprived of some senses, but they’ve proven to be equally gifted in another way, becoming prodigies.

And it’s not about intelligence, it’s about giving yourself the freedom to question, letting go of the should’s and shouldn’t’s that people expect from you. And finally …

Was I just born this way, or have I done something that made me earn this?

– You and I were born with compassion. Whether it’s been affected by our past is our choice, and it’s never too late to reconnect and align to it. You might not show compassion to the people around you, but that’s not what matters. What matters is, being compassionate to yourself, because if you really are, then you can’t be the opposite with people. Remember to give yourself the benefit of questioning, it might take a while of ups and downs, but in the end, you’ll be giving yourself the love you deserve, you will go to a place of joy, and this joy is what will change the world.

 

 

 

Savoring the Small Stuff

I wrote this article last week, and it took me a while of contemplating whether I should publish it or not. I guess a part of me feels a bit “too” positive, if there’s such a thing, but I thought I’d take the chance anyway even if it’s not my best article. Would appreciate positive or constructive feedback.

I just went on a 5 minute walk, and I never thought it would be that pleasurable. I wasn’t walking to burn fat, I wasn’t walking because I was bored, I wasn’t looking for something, or anything. I was mainly walking because I had been sitting for too long, and my body was starting to ache. My day at work has been productive, and it’s a chilled one. I’ve been focusing on enjoying the tasks I used to feel apprehensive about, and I just decided that I will experience them with life. I was walking because 10 years from now, I don’t want to have health issues arising because I sit for too long, I don’t want to feel like I’m stuck in a white box all day long. I wanted to somehow get out of the system.

This walk has been inspiring though, because when I savored the small stuff, I’ve discovered that the tiny street I once viewed as poor, old, and value-less surprisingly is special after all. The street is narrow and short, there isn’t much scenery, there are just a bunch of grey buildings, no effort put in their design, but they do what they’re designed to do. I came across some lovely wood work though when, instead of driving by the buildings unconsciously, I walked slowly and looked at the cramped up garages. Each building had a different door on display. Shamefully, most of the old trees are harshly cut, they are leafless. But in spite of the fact that they’re the farthest from green, these trees are so old, their stems so sturdy and thick, and their branches and limbs intricately hugging one another exquisitely. It’s something you might see everyday, but you don’t notice or appreciate. I’ve discovered that the embassy of Cuba is on the corner of the street, I had never seen it before. I loved the fact that there was minimal security, it felt safer. There was just one security guard taking a smoke across the street. Instead of an uptight, formal vibe, he gave a casual one. I also stumbled upon a retirement home called Beit Al Habayeb, (Home of the Loved Ones), and I could have sworn I saw the 40’s in there. The residents were spending some time outdoors since the weather isn’t too cold today, and the sun is shining. It seemed like an old fashioned tea party as they settled on the worn out wooden chairs. You could see they’ve given up on life, yet not in a bad way. They were still alive, but they’ve gotten over the fear of death which a lot of us possess, and that makes life better, I think.

Despite the many existing “newer” road and building signs, authentic calligraphy was chiseled in other metal signs. They were rusty and genuine, overpowering the bogus blue ones. I wish there were more of them around.

Life is all about savoring the small stuff. Instead of rushing through it, we should take it one step at a time. We often look back and feel like a part of it has passed us by, and that’s mainly because we forgot that we could turn even the simplest things into something that is better than neutral. My walk is just a metaphor, and maybe mostly developed in my imagination, because I had decided to see those things around me in that way. We take our senses for granted, and we forget about gratitude. Our lives are precious, and the things existing around us aren’t just there to exist, they’re there for a reason, if only we’d see it.

How I Made 2013 My Best Year Yet (And How I’m going to Make 2014 Even Better)

I’ve started 2013 spending the night on top of a mountain, after a tedious hike I wasn’t prepared for neither mentally or physically. I was suffering from the cold, and I was dreading the fact that in a few hours, I’m going to wake up and hike all the way down that same mountain. I had no choice, there was no easy way out. In the morning, after getting some rest, waking up and experiencing the scene in full sunlight, I remembered that I’ll be done shortly, and that I should work on keeping a positive mindset. Back then, I didn’t know I was going to learn great lessons from this challenge, but after numerous reflections throughout 2013, I’ve realized that this trip really did inspire me even more than I thought.

2013 began on a positive note. I arrived home on the 1st of January tired as hell, however, never in my life have I felt this victorious. Not only did I hike up the highest peak in Egypt, but I also learned about how much our perspective on things can make an experience good or bad. Also, that every physical challenge is based on a mental or emotional test.

I didn’t have a specific new year’s resolution, but I was so fuelled up, that I decided that I will always keep challenging myself, and never again take the easy way out. To be honest, I still haven’t mastered that, but I have made a lot of progress. Learning about the benefits of challenging myself created an abundance of other lessons in only 1 year, and that’s a pretty short time for transformation!

Here are some of the things I learned, and how I plan to beat the awesomeness of 2013 (with all it’s ups and downs) in 2014:

1. Taking Risks:

I’ve taken so many career related risks this year, even though I strongly fear the lack of financial security. I’ve quit 2 jobs, without having an exact plan, but if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to independently work harder and gain extensive freelance experience in a very short time. Take a risk, quit your boring job if it isn’t what you’re passion about, and pursue what you actually love! Even if you end up broke for a couple of months, you will definitely be happier without money and in the comfort of your own home (or maybe a friend’s) than at a depressing office stuck behind a screen, realizing you’ve been sitting for too long.

2. Perspective is Everything:

Yes, it really is. We all have good and bad days, but I guarantee that the bad days aren’t necessarily negatively eventful. We all sometimes forget to focus on what we have rather than what we lack, and we give in to our negative emotions. I am not saying we shouldn’t acknowledge our problems, I’m just saying it would turn our results into more positive ones if we call those problems challenges instead.

3. I Am in Control of My Actions and Reactions:

This is very related to the previous point. I’ve been going through road rage a lot since I started driving 3 years ago, and it’s never a good thing because it only affects me. I have never been a person with a short temper, but it was becoming so bad that my friends were starting to refer to me as a driving monster, they said I transformed as soon as I got in my car, and I honestly don’t blame them. This has been causing me a lot of unnecessary stress over the past year, but I’ve decided that enough is enough. I am in control of my own actions, as well as my reactions. I’m going to remember that anger only negatively impacts me, and it would rarely change the behaviour of anyone around me. It’s ever more likely that they’d become more stubborn if they see it.

4. The More You Know, the More You Know You DON’T Know

I’ve been reading a lot this past year. I’ve bought several books, and I signed up for an Audible membership of 2 books a month. It quickly turned into an obsession, a thirst for knowledge, which taught me that there’s so much in this world we know nothing about. It really is true, just when we start thinking that we know everything, we notice that what we know is really as much as a drop of water in an ocean. Remember to enjoy it, even though it’s probably always going to offer with abundance. Read, travel and thrive!

5. Happiness is a Choice

For me, happiness is one of my top values in life, and it’s definitely a journey. This was surely an interesting find to me (check out http://www.happify.com). It is scientifically proven that when you maintain those 5 things in your life, you become happier. So remember to:

  • Savor: To savor is to truly live the moment and enjoy it! Savoring can turn even the most mundane tasks into enjoyable ones. Instead of dreading that long walk from your house to the metro station or the closest road you can get a cab, walk slowly and look around you. Look in places you’ve never looked. Savor the nature, or the lack of it, bring out ideas, or simply just appreciate an old building, it could really make your day.
  • Thank: Did you remind yourself to be grateful today? If you haven’t, remember that you have a roof over your head and a place to stay warm on this cold night. We take the things we have for granted, and we completely forget about the others around the world who still don’t have the basic human needs like food, clean fresh water, and a place to live. I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty, because I’d be in that line as well, but I’m just reminding you that gratitude is better than complaining.
  • Aspire: We humans are greedy, we always want more. I don’t see this as a bad thing, as long as we want more of something meaningful. Aspiring reminds us that there’s more to our precious life than what we’re doing right now, which we will eventually grow out of, so make your dreams big, because one day you’ll find yourself close to accomplishing them, and you will!
  • Give: Giving is like listening, which is something I am planning to do more often this year. It makes us feel a lot better, and it flows right back inside of us and increases every time we share. Remember to give more, and you will definitely feel that you need less.
  • Empathize: It keeps us sane and reminds us that where we are right now might not be that bad after all. Also, that by being in a better situation, we can find more ways to give and help others, and no matter what their reaction is, it’s theirs, not ours.

6. It’s Okay to Be Alone

For some reason, a lot of us are raised to believe that being more talkative, social and outgoing is always better. I have to admit, that’s what I used to think. I never understood introverts, I always used to place them into the “shy” category. But this year I’ve gotten to know a very special introvert, and he’s taught me about how being alone and being totally okay with it makes a huge difference with my peace of mind. I’ve decided to feel confident about being alone, because it doesn’t mean that I’m lonely. It’s great to be around people, but it’s also great to sit and meditate, think, write, reflect, or simply be.

7. Don’t Dwell, Move On and Try a Different Method

We all get stuck at some point, or a few, but that’s totally okay, as long as it doesn’t turn into a waste of time with nothing out of it at the end, not even a lesson. When you’re feeling lost, give yourself permission to feel that way for a certain period of time, and then decide to snap out of it. You don’t have to lie to yourself and tell yourself you’re happy if you’re not, even though that’s sometimes a way out. However, you can try different things that you think could bear positive results, breaking you out of your misery. Don’t just sit there and cry, watch a funny sitcom or hang out with a friend who can make you feel better. I’m sure you know that this is just a metaphor, but it really is all about doing again and again until you reach the point of realizing what was missing all along.

8. Believing in Yourself Goes a Long Way

If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never get anything accomplished. In this scenario though, it’s totally okay to lie to yourself, or fake it till you make it. Are you overweight and trying to become fit? All you need to do is believe that you actually can, not that you’ll “fail like all the other times” you’ve tried. That would just lead you to the same exact things that didn’t work for you. Instead, focus on your ability, and you’ll find yourself trying until something works.

9. Old Habits Die Hard, but New Habits Can Replace Them

Habits actually never die, they are always there, but you can create new habits to take their place if they’re negative ones. Habits stick for 3 reasons, 1. A cue (But I always order unhealthy takeout at work!) 2. A reward (Oh yes, I feel so fulfilled right now.) 3. A craving (I can’t get over how crispy and salty those fries were, shut up and take my money!) That’s a bad habit though! And you probably want to quit it. Well, you can! All you need to do is think of alternative rewards and cravings for the same cues. Instead of ordering takeout, bring a homemade salad, and get creative with it, use dressing that adds flavor! Even if it’s a bit fatty, it’ll never be as bad as takeout, and if it’s good, you will crave it once your habit is consistent. (Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg)

10. Rules are for the Times You’re Demotivated

This is derived from the previous point as well. Everyone sets rules for other people, but we don’t always set rules for ourselves, and even when we do, we give excuses. Rules are not meant to be broken, they’re actually for the times you’re demotivated. If you’re integrating a new habit in your life, it probably needs dedication and consistency. If you have been failing with it previously, it’s probably because you haven’t been consistent, and that’s the role of the rule. Respecting yourself and your own rule will help you stick with your new habits and feel good about yourself instead of the consequences of feeling crappy, and that’ll be your reward!

11. Change is the Only Constant

As cliche as that sounds, change really is the only constant, nothing else is. Your life won’t be constant, and you probably don’t want it to be. We’re not designed to love boredom, we’re designed to get rid of it as soon as we can. This could be done by being open to change and going with the flow, or by working on developing and improving ourselves to add more and more meaning to our life. Instead of resisting it, embrace change!

12. Documentation Pays Off Infinitely

Finally, I wish I had more specific and vivid examples for some of the previous points, but unfortunately I don’t because I haven’t been documenting enough. The best part about documentation is looking back at it and seeing how much progress you’ve made. We usually document things like our outings or our weight, but we should think about this deeper and document things like the books we’ve read, the most influential people we were fortunate enough to meet, and/or the new realizations and discoveries that changed our thinking and our attitudes. Imagine looking back on December 31st, 2014, wouldn’t you like to see how clueless you were on the same day last year and be proud of how much you’ve progressed.

How will you make your year awesome?

Where I Think Courage Comes From

I recently started training with the amazing CaiRollers, we’re the very first roller derby team in Egypt. Before I started training, I literally knew very little about derby, I still don’t know the rules of the game very well, and I only attended my 2nd practice today, and I also had no idea that the moves so effortlessly performed by the more advanced girls are so difficult!

During the first practice, I literally fell as soon as I put on my skates. I hadn’t skated in years (at least 10, if not more) and I remembered this to be easier, a lot easier! I was happy with my first fall because it was quick and not painful at all. Eight falls later, I was laughing it off, wondering about how many bruises I’ll have on my butt and thighs when I get home. Even though I got the hang of skating quickly again, I realized that my perspective on this whole thing is what helped me do that, not the fact that I used to skate when I was younger. I didn’t have the memory of bad or serious falls before the first practice.

Derby needs courage in the beginning, and that applies to everything else in life. But the beginning doesn’t only mean that the first time’s the hardest, because on your second time, memories of the first time could either make it easier or harder.

I got to my second practice today, and as soon as I put my skates on, I didn’t want to get off the bench because I was too scared that I was going to fall. I looked at the gravel underneath my feet, and I was certain, that I was going to fall as soon as I got up. I felt uncomfortable and out of control. I eventually talked myself into it, got up, and actually didn’t fall. The thought of falling was still on my mind though. All I could think of were the 9 times I tripped last time, turning my own spinal cord into an accordion, the sounds of cracking bones replacing real music. I dwelled and lingered. I skated, almost freely, but then again, I dwelled and lingered on the thoughts of falling. Until I thought to myself, “Don’t think, don’t try, just do.”

I’ve heard this saying a few years ago, and I don’t specifically remember where I heard it, but I recall it was something related to the law of attraction. Now when I look it up, I can only remotely relate it to Horace (Roman poet). Before you start wondering, don’t worry, I won’t be telling you more about Horace in this post.

When I first heard the saying, I didn’t really feel like I grasped it. I was automatically skeptical about the not thinking and not trying parts. Why can I not think? Actually how can I not think? And isn’t everything really about trying? And trying again if you fail? Well yes, but not quite.

Now I know this is paradoxal, how can I agree and disagree at the same time? This honestly confuses me probably as much as it’s confusing you right now, but hear me out.

We’re raised up to always think about things before we do them, decisions before we take them, people before we become friends with them, and practically everything else in our lives. We’re warned about taking hasty decisions, and we’re labeled as “too emotional” when we base decisions on our feelings or intuitions. We must always think logically about things. All of that sounds safe, just safe.

Also, when we’re attempting things for the first time, this is just what it is, an attempt. We try and we fail, and then we try again and maybe even fail again. And this is exactly the problem. We expect failure. Isn’t that negative?

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve been really repetitive in the paragraph where I was telling you about the story of my second derby practice. I’ve done this on purpose, because this is exactly how we think when we’re thinking about things we shouldn’t think about.

Thinking makes us miss out on the good stuff. It’s good to be prepared, but it isn’t good to obsessively check whether you are or not. I was prepared today at practice, I had all my protection gear on, and it was very unlikely that I would get injured when I’m covered from head to toe. My thoughts about falling held me back. I wasted some of my own time, and I reached my goals in a longer time than I should have. Maybe it doesn’t matter that much when it comes to playing derby, but it matters a lot more when it comes to other things in life that need courage. Derby’s just a small example.

Trying makes us focus on failure. We focus on failure more than we focus on success. Trying gives us the option to fail, not taking into account the fact that if we don’t even have that option, and if we gather up courage, we’re actually more likely to succeed.

By the middle of today’s practice, I repeated this in my head, again and again, “Don’t think, don’t try, just do.” I skated freely, I attempted a correct way of falling, I fell, not perfectly, but I stopped myself from thinking and just took a leap of faith. I should do this again next time (and more often in my life.)

This is where courage comes from.

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The Imposed Dilemma of Growing Up

There comes a point in everyone’s life when he/she wants to be a better person. Wanting to be that better person doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad person now, but you know that the world’s got a lot more to offer, and once you know that, you can’t un-know it. You go into those different phases of doing different things, doing the things you’ve been afraid to do for a while like quitting your dead-end job or finally deciding to move on from that one person who’s been taking up all your head space. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not necessarily unhappy in that dead-end job, and you’re probably very good friends with that person, so you convince yourself that, “at least I have a job,” or, “at least we’re friends.” Then you start realizing, a little bit everyday, that this indeed is a dead-end job that won’t take you anywhere you want to go. You also become brutally honest with yourself, finally letting your thoughts wander, until deep down, you’re truly convinced that this person isn’t even close to what you want, at all, and that you were just infatuated with a projection you’ve built about him/her.

A bit over a year ago, this is exactly where I was. I had an amazing job. The environment was awesome, my bosses were the coolest, I was given opportunities to actually practice things that were completely out of my field, and I’ve always appreciated that. I was happy to be working with such amazing people who not only made a hilarious, one of a kind team, but were also close friends, friends that will always be friends. I was on and off about a guy who was head over heels about another girl, and I wasn’t even in control of the on/off button, it was always his choice to give me some extra attention. I was trying to distract myself with shallow, empty crushes of people I barely even knew. However, the realization started happening, and it was mind-blowing. I have a great job that started out as a great opportunity, but it wasn’t even close to what I wanted. And just like all human beings, I wanted more!

I’ve never been the type to settle, not for a job, not for a guy, not for satisfactory aspects in my life. I’ve always been a dreamer, for as long as I can remember. I wanted the big, important career. I wanted the guy who’s as crazy as I am with my optimistic vision for life, and I wanted happiness, true happiness. I also wanted the balance that’s hard to come with all of it. Obviously, I didn’t have any of that. Again, I wasn’t unhappy, but I’m greedy, and I wanted to come closer to perfection. I also believe that happiness is something you make, it’s a mindset and an attitude, it’s a journey, it’s a realization, and you always want more of it.

So, I decided to start with transforming my life, one more of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but never actually took action with. Then I remembered that I’ve always wanted to travel and explore the world, and I started looking for opportunities abroad. Soon enough, I was matched to go for a 3 months internship in St. Petersburg, Russia, and I gave my one month notice (actually in my case it was 2.) It was scary and exciting. The type of thing you can’t believe is real and finally happening. It would be my first time to ever travel completely alone, as well as live alone, since I live with my parents like most other 23 year old Egyptian girls. I also completely let go of that person I was constantly thinking about, as I believed that when I start doing the things I loved, I will attract the right person. So I’ve decided to not search or even think about it, and just observe as things happen.

My bosses were flipping out back then, since it was an important time for the company, and I was one of the very first people to work there. It was a startup, and I was the very first designer. I, however, reminded myself that I’m not the only designer on this Earth, and that I know for a fact that it will work out for them. I talked to them about my dreams to travel, to work in something different, to get more involved in other projects as well as completely start my own, and that was my plan! Everything was falling into place.

My plans for Russia became more real. I also started working on my fitness, since I knew that when I go there, it will be a lot easier to integrate new healthy habits. Life was looking good, I was more terrified than I ever was before because I felt like what I was doing was risky, who quits a full-time job for a 3 months internship? But again, I challenged it, and I remembered that nothing will ever change if I don’t take initiative in changing it. And to prove my previous point, I, very randomly, came across a guy that seemed right as soon as I had started focusing on me. We were talking day and night, him supporting my transformation, regardless of the fact that he neither knows old or new me, and I, becoming more and more inspired by him everyday because of his own transformation, and how life had the same meaning to us.

About 10 days before I was supposed to finally travel, after I had booked my tickets and confirmed all plans, I got news that the internship had to be cancelled due to problems with my planned internship and unavailability of other relevant opportunities. I was instantly crushed for a couple of minutes. I was at work, trying to enjoy my last few days with the team I knew I’d miss so much, and I started thinking about what I’m going to be doing now, since I’m working the last few days of my job, and then I’ll literally have nothing to do. My more optimistic self kicked in, and reminded me that everything happens for a reason, something I have always believed in solidly (and still do) . It’s just a challenge, I need a break from work anyway, besides, I could just freelance. That was during October, 2012.

Today, on the 9th of November, 2013, I regret nothing. In fact, I’m happy exactly where I am, even though it’s not where I imagined to be. I wouldn’t have said this yesterday, and no, I haven’t transformed over-night, I just shifted my thinking to a more positive mindset. I’ve been dwelling on everything that’s lacking in my life. I’ve been living in fear of failure. I have so many great ideas, but I’m so afraid of criticism or trial and error. I have the same guy I mentioned earlier (who’d proven to be truly remarkable), and I’ve also been so scared of him seeing me fail, that I had sometimes stopped trying. I’ve been so afraid of getting another full-time job, that I’ve managed to completely persuade myself that I will/can never be a 9 to 5 type of person, and that freelancing is my best scenario. I’ve worked at other new places, but I never ever gave myself the chance to actually fall in love with the places, or the people, rejecting anything that I don’t see as right from the very start. I’ve been meeting amazing people, but I’ve also been telling myself that I have enough friends, and that being distant is better. I’ve been aloof. Finally, I’ve only been writing meaningless things in my diary, not realizing that this has been a challenge worth writing about in my blog. I’ve been living in fear, but I’ve been mostly afraid of myself.

Last year at this time, I was confused. I was dreaming big, typical me, and I wanted to accomplish huge things. Have I accomplished what I had vaguely planned? Nop. I haven’t traveled the world, I haven’t started huge projects that I’m totally proud of, I haven’t yet reached my fitness goals, but I have done so much more. Today, I realized that I’ve been beating myself up over not accomplishing things that I still want in my life, but that it’s only been a year of my life. A year might be a long time, a long time to be dwelling on wanting things, and not actually doing them, but it’s still only a year. The amount of things I’ve learned today due to this year is astounding. Just the fact that I now know all of this changes everything.

We all live in this imposed dilemma of growing up. We keep wanting more, forgetting that the more you have on your plate, the harder it is to manage. We have such high expectations, and we forget that we can’t do everything at once. Yes, growing up is imposed, it happens sooner or later, even if we don’t want it, because we want the good parts of it, but not the bad parts. But growing up doesn’t have to be all that bad, remember that it’s called growing up, not growing old. It’s what we do that keeps us young. I had lost a part of me this past year, and even though I can’t quite define what it is, I’ve managed to bring it back and feel it now. I now remember that the past is always behind me, and that when I choose to see it that way, my present is always worth it. I don’t make perfect plans, and even when I do, I don’t always follow them, but I always end up exactly where I should be.

I believe that I, and everyone else who’s going through something similar, should let go of their past, remember to focus on the positive and on what’s there, and be grateful. The past can make us miss out on so many things we have right now, and so many magical things to look forward to in our futures.

Ps: I am currently starting a new full-time job after a year or juggling freelance projects and part time jobs. I have never felt more ready to commit and challenge myself. I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I reckon I’m going to learn a lot from this.

 

 

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