Spiritual Balance – Week 44: Make Time for Creativity

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We are all creative and we enjoy, even crave expressing ourselves through that creativity. You might not know, but you are creative as well. It might be painting, writing, making music, sculpting, writing poems, working with flowers or gardens. Whatever it is, find the creative expression that is yours and embrace it.

Identify your creative passion. Embrace it. Block time. Have a regular date with your creativity. And don’t do it for anyone other than yourself.

For the longest time (about 50 years), I thought I didn’t have any creative talents or passions in me. Then one day it dawned on me, that I actually enjoy writing. And I have done it in one way or another my whole life, starting from early childhood. I have not given it the space it deserved or the acknowledgment I should have, but I’ve subconsciously done it anyway.

For Uli it’s painting and flower arrangements, for our 7 year old son it’s building stuff, and our daughter is just writing on her first horse book at the age of 9 (she only has about 10 pages so far, but that’s not the point).

Find out what fuels your creativity. If you already know, awesome. If you don’t, experiment. Try things out. Take a few classes. See what sticks.

Not knowing and exercising your creative passions leaves a big gap in your life.

Once you identified your creative passion, make time for it! Whether you block an hour every day, a few evenings during the week, or some time on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t matter. What matters is that you book that time with yourself and stick to it. Make an appointment. Have a date with your creativity.

Enjoy to witness as you create something new that you are passionate about. Most important, don’t worry about others. All that matters is what you think about your works and how you feel about the outcome.

Right now I’m sitting on a deck, in the sunshine, on a trip to Germany. The whole family is taking a nap while I can indulge in my creativity, writing down these thoughts.

‘An audience of one’ is a great book to explore that thought a little more.

Whatever it is for you, writing, painting, music, photography – do it, make it a point in your life!

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 42: Get Inspiration

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Just as our body needs food and nutrients, our mind needs inspiration. We usually get that inspiration from being exposed to new experiences, information and stimuli. The more we work in our comfort zone of the things we already know and the routines we already master, the less our minds are challenged, inspired and nurtured.

Seek out new experiences that challenge your existing beliefs. Nurture your mind. Get inspired and work hard for new insights, instead of being dulled by passive consumption.

Treat yourself with a new stimuli every day. Opt for active experiences and information over passive consumption. Active stimuli are those that you need to process and work for like learning a craft. Passive Stimuli are those that you can mindlessly consume like watching TV.

Ditch your TV (we did that many years ago and never regretted it), delete your computer games, limit your social media times.

Instead seek experiences that extend what you already know, push your boundaries and challenge your comfort zone.

There are many ways to stimulate and inspire yourself. Pick a few and make time for them. Pick a fixed time in your day or week that is devoted to those experiences and inspirations to make sure you prioritize them.

Reading – Read a non-fictional book about an area that interests you, or even a completely new topic. Read a chapter every day and reflect on it.

Learning a craft – Learn a new craft or a new hobby. Push yourself to learn and grow all the time. Maybe your job provides those opportunities, if it doesn’t, either seek out new challenges in your work or find them in your personal time.

Pursuit of mastery – Push for mastery in something that you are passionate about. Find something that excites you long-term and go deeper and deeper, exploring the core ideas and concepts (for me it’s my martial arts journey that kept me exploring and discovering for over 25 years now).

Different perspectives – Talk to interesting new people and try to understand their views. This is not about talking to the same people you already know and meet all the time. Those are often echo chambers, only confirming what you already believe. Rather seeks out new perspectives and opinions and reflect on them. Avoid negative people though, they are not worth the negative impact they will have on you.

Seek surprises – Expose yourself to situations that surprise you. Travel, seek out new experiences. Change your context and challenge your frameworks. Break complacency whenever it creeps up.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 38: Focus on Experiences, Not Stuff

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We’re living in the age of consumerism, in which most people see the purpose of their lives in accumulating stuff. However, instead of gathering stuff, following the latest marketing fad or competing with your neighbors, you should invest in experiences.

Invest in experiences, not stuff. Plan for experiences and then make it a point to follow-through on them. If you are too tired when it’s go-time, do them anyway.

Most stuff won’t make you happy beyond the rush of the purchase. In many cases, it’s even worse, with buyer’s remorse kicking in just a few hours later. The gadget that you so badly needed often ends up sitting in a drawer after just a few uses.

Instead invest in experiences. Preferably experiences that are shared with friends and family. Experiences create memories and memories stay with you forever.

You can always come back to memories to pick you up when you’re down. Looking at last year’s cool gadget won’t have the same effect.

The additional benefit of investing in experiences is also that the positive effect is not limited to the time when you actually have the experience.

The three phases of an experience

We enjoy the planning of an experience that we are looking forward to. We can derive fun from the excitement weeks and months before we even take off. I usually plan summer vacations in the dark months of winter. It feels good to think about upcoming adventures and helps to pass rainy days.

The actual experience is of course the fun part. At times it can be challenging and exhausting as well, but that’s ok. The more challenging an experience is and the more it pushes us to the limits of our comfort zone, the more memorable and positive it usually is. You only value something if you had to work hard for it.

The last part of an experience stays with you forever – your memories. You can relive an experience as often as you want. No one can take it away from you. You can look back at pictures, recount stories with your partners in crime, make a photo book or plan to repeat the experience at some time in the future.

Do it anyway

One last advice on experiences, from the book ‘Off the Clock’ by Laura Vanderkam: even if you’re tired and just want to sit on the couch when the time to venture off on your experience comes – do it anyway.

“Plan it in. Do it anyway.” from ‘Off the clock’ by Laura Vanderkam

While we get excited planning for an experience, once the day approaches we are often so worn down and tired that we just want to plop down and turn on the TV. Resist the urge! Go anyway. Get yourself over the hump, it will be worth it!

Plan for your experience and when it’s time to get going, go. No matter what. Plan it in. Do it anyway! You will be glad you did it.

Invest in buying time, experiences and life memories. Preferably shared with loved ones. Leave your kids with memories and experiences, not stuff that they will need to throw away later.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 35: Open Doors

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I’m a person of lists and plans. I always want to have a plan for the short and longer term. I need to be organized to feel comfortable and be in control.

However, I was also taught by my teacher early on in my martial arts training, that situations constantly change and we need to adapt to new opportunities and challenges. As they say in the military: “all plans are outdated upon first contact with the enemy”.

Have a plan and follow it. However, watch out for unexpected opportunities and be flexible enough to change your plan to embrace them.

We need to have a plan and a goal to know where we want to go to, and to make progress towards that destination, instead of wandering aimlessly around (“going nowhere fast”). However, that plan must not make us myopic and oblivious for necessary change.

Throughout my life, I always had a plan, but the best things happened when an unexpected opportunity presented itself and I reached out for it. Even though many times I was scared to my bones.

Having a plan and working towards it, prepares us to be ready for the moment when opportunities present themselves. However, if we don’t make the leap and grasp them, all the preparation was for nothing.

Have a plan, work on it. Prepare yourself, but be ready to drop your plan and adjust to the moment when needed. Don’t be scared of unexpected opportunities. They are when magic happens in life.

I recently read a very similar idea in ‘Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail’, by Kyle S Rohrig. It goes like this:

There are always doors that open unexpectedly for us. Walk through them. After you walk through an open door, new doors will open up behind, eventually leading to an endless universe of open doors and opportunities. You find good thing behind open doors.

If you close the door, the opportunities end right there. That’s it, end of story, you’re stuck. Being stuck is stagnation. Stagnation is the beginning of the end.

Or in the words of Daoism:

When we are young we are flexible, we push out, we try new things and grow. When we stop being curious and flexible, we get hard. When we get hard, we break, crumble and fade away.

Be open, be flexible, see opportunities!

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 32: Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

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First we have focused on developing healthy habits to lay a sustainable foundation to go through our days. Then we explored ways to be more effective at work in order to free up time. Let’s take both to good use and move on to exploring what really matters to you and then making time for those things – your purposes.

Put on your own oxygen mask first.

When you travel on any commercial airplane, you will need to go through the safety briefing before taking off. One of things that stuck with me was the advice to “put on your own oxygen mask first”.

It seems to go against our instincts initially. We want to help our kids or the elderly before we turn our attention to our own needs. However that is shortsighted. Even if we want to help others, we first need to take care of ourselves.

Let me repeat this – before we can help others we need to take care of ourselves first!

In the specific example for airlines, there is no use in putting on the oxygen mask on your first child and then passing out before you can help the second. You have to get yourself into a stable spot before you can help others in a sustainable way. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

The same is true for less dramatic settings. You need to get yourself into a good spot first, before you can have positive impact on your family, friends, community or society at large.

Get yourself a healthy basis, de-stress your work, find the things you really care about, explore your passion, purpose and spirituality, and allocate time and energy to it. Then help others and make this world a better place. This is what these tips, hacks, habits and suggestions are all about.

Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Most likely the most important piece of advice of all.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.