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 43: Go Outside Into Nature

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Find some time to get out into nature!

Science has shown that getting out into nature on a regular basis boosts your health, and mental wellbeing. Make it a point to spend time in nature on a regular basis.

Get out into nature. The less manicured, the better. Pay attention to what you see, to the smells and sounds. Breathe! Live!

Walk your dog, hike, bike or play with your kids outside. Tend to your garden or backyard, get your hands dirty with soil. Whatever gets you going, do it. If you can’t get yourself to walking regularly, buy a dog.

Make it walking time in nature though, not the concrete deserts of the city. Human beings are animals at their cores. We need nature, we need the green and we need to see some natural messiness. Parks are ok, but the more natural ‘wilderness’ you can find, the better.

Find trees, mosses, green, dirt. Go out in nature and explore the small and big wonders.

There seems to be a fancy new term and movement for everything these days. Naturally there is also a fancy japanese way of walking in the woods. It’s called Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) and really only means to walk in the forest, be mindful of what you encounter and watch your breath. I leave it to you to decide is you need a Shinrin-yoku instructor or just some sturdy boots. Personally I opt for the latter, but I’m also a simple person.

Go low-key (dog walking) or fancy (Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing), whatever meets your needs, but do it!

 


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 41: Come Back to Yourself

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Who is the most important person in your life? It’s you. It has to be you!

You might be as altruistic as you may, you always have to take care of yourself first. “Put on your own oxygen mask first.”

Make time to meet yourself. Plan in me-time. Experiment and find the best way to connect with yourself.

Take time for yourself

There is no way you can take care of yourself if you don’t slow down every now and then and make time for it. Embrace the downtimes and slow down. We grow from stress and relieve, not from constant stress.

Come back to yourself

Not every method works for every person the same.

What is the best way for you to get back in touch with yourself? Experiment with different methods and find out what works best for you.

  • Mindfulness – Spend a few minutes with mindfulness, giving your attention to every single detail of a given experience, as mundane as eating a piece of fruit.
  • Walk outside – Go out side for a walk in nature and experience all the sights, sounds and smells that present themselves.
  • Meditate – Do some meditation, Yoga or Tai Chi. Listen to your breath. Watch your thoughts come, and then send them away again onto their journey.

Embrace the Yin and Yang. Most times of the day we are high-powered and push through our days, completely externally focused. Balance that external orientation with deliberate me-time. Experiment what works for you.

 


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 39: Buy Fewer Things But Things That You Really Like

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No, I’m not a monk. I possess things and I take pleasure from working with and using tools and gadgets that I really care about.

Have fewer things, but things that you really value.

What I learned and changed over time is to have fewer things, but things that I value.

When I was a boy my dad always told me to spend my money for fewer things that are higher quality and will last and give me pleasure longer. As in so many cases, I should have listened to him closer. It took me many years to re-learn the same lesson on my own.

How many different jackets do you really need versus having a few that you want to wear every day? Do you need all those different gadgets versus a phone and tablet that you really like? How many different shoes do you need to own? How much silverware do you need? How much stuff to decorate your home? How many stuffed animals? How big does your house have to be? How many cars do you really need? What are you going to do with that bigger property?

The more stuff you have, the more your mind and life get cluttered. Also, the more stuff you have, the more time, energy and money you will need to manage and maintain that stuff. The more stuff you have, the more of your time you will spend with the things that you don’t like as much or feel guilty that you don’t, and the less time you will spend with the things that give you joy.

I developed a process to deal with shopping urges. When I get excited about a new gadget, I will read all about it and then put it on my Amazon wish list. That’s already half of the gratification with nothing spent so far. I will have it sit on that wish list for a while and only if I still think after a few weeks that I really need that gadget I will buy it. In most cases, I end up deleting it from my list.

You don’t need to become a monk. However, do focus on fewer things that give you real joy. Rather spend more money on fewer high quality things that you love dearly, than the same amount on a lot of stuff that you don’t care about much.

Even better, invest in things that help you create experiences rather than things that sit on your shelf.

Also remember, that many things that create experiences can be rented rather than bought. It takes a lot of boat trips to warrant the purchase of a motor boat.

 


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 37: Have Dinner with Friends and Family

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We already talked about the importance of spending time with family and friends. One great and proven way to do that is by sharing meals together.

There is plenty of science, as well as just age-old experience, that sharing meals together serves a strong bonding function.

Share meals with friends and family. Talk about the day, thoughts, dreams and worries. Make it a priority every day.

Share meals with your teams, friends and family. Cook together or go out to eat together. While you’re sharing food, spend time talking and laughing. Play games, listen to the stories of the day.

Make this a priority every day.

Do NOT check your messages, play with your phone or read the news. Meal time is ‘together time’. Value the time others spend dining with you by giving them your full attention.

If you want to bond with your kids and share your values and priorities with them, it is critically important to share meals together. Those occasions allow for catching up on the day in a relaxed environment, sharing ideas, thoughts, passions and even worries that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Studies have shown, that sharing meals is critical for a healthy development of children. Leaving food in the fridge and having everyone snack at different times just doesn’t cut it.

 


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.