Make Your Why Burn

In one of the last posts (The dreamer who dreams a dream), you read about the power of setting goals. Today you’ll learn how to persist in your goals. Why are you reading this article? And why am I writing it? Motivation is the answer to the question “why am I doing it”?

It is the gasoline that allow us to persist on our goals. It is the intrinsic energy that you find in doing something, and the invisible or visible rewards that you think you’ll gain from that. Being motivated is what make the difference between a sofa dreamer and an enthusiastic artist. Between a great athlete and an average one…The word “motivation” is composed by the words “motive” and “action” and it is the overall combination of forces that moves someone to use his energy for doing something.

The Burning Why

Last week I read an interesting article by on Psychology Today. The author, Russell Grieger, psychologist and adjusted professor at the University of Virginia, tells about the reasons that enlighten his everyday path. After teaching for years, he found himself without that light and energy that had guided him since the beginning of his career. He had to stop and think about again of why he was doing what he was doing. He forgot his burning “why” and as long as he didn’t know anymore his purpose of doing what he was doing he felt lost. An automaton moving without any big role.

Sit at a table with pen and paper and take some time for writing down something that is going to be amazingly useful for you.

Step One: What is the main theme of your life? what do you love more? What is that make you enthusiastic? Think about how can you make an impact on the worlds, on how can you contribute in your little. What kind of person would you like to be? Take your time and find the answers to some of this question.

Step Two: Decide your purpose. Is it not the same of doing a list of goals, but speaking about the fuel that make your car moving. The purpose is the “why” that lyes behind your goal. If you will be able to believe in your purpose you will be like an unstoppable train. Choose why you want your life to go in a certain way. And remember you can construct what you want of your life. And once again, Decide!

Step three: Live your purpose. You’ll think, “Easy to say! And how?!”. Is it far away from being enough reading a post on a blog to change everything. All the experiences will be up to you. And all the effort to live your life will be yours. What I want you to communicate is to think about what you are doing. If you are following the way that you think and you decide that is the right one for you, nothing will stop you. Your purpose will guide you in difficult moments. But if your are struggling for something, stop and ask yourself if are you motivate in doing it.

Live your life, not the one of someone else. Remember it as long as you can. If you are going to struggle just to reach something that you don’t want, you’re gonna give up when the first difficulty will came…and they will. Sometimes is useful to stop, make your mind silent and listen to your heart. Call it also instinct or God, as you prefer to refer to it. Whatever is it name, In some way it will tell you if you’re doing what are you meant to be. And if it is saying to you that your are going in a wrong way it will already be an enormous sign and gift.

Thanks for reading, and see you at the next post,

Alberto

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The beast and the god – How do you see solitude?

“loneliness is listen to the wind and cannot tell anyone”  

Jim Morrison (?)

I have been thinking many times to find mentally a solution to the loneliness loop. I love solitude. It has become part of my character, of my being. In the life we know only two things. You was born alone (except if you are a twin brother, you are lucky man 🙂 ) and alone you will die. And so why don’t spend time with the person who will stay with you whatever will happen, no matter what? Solitude gives me the possibility of doing things that I love. It gives me time to reflect and to take distance from the chaos of the words.

And in all this, sometimes happens a change and I start feeling a sense of isolation and loneliness. And when it happens, I realize that I have been alone in a room for a long time, far from friends and people that I like and love.

Man a Social Animal

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” 
 Aristotle

What is loneliness? In this quotes he explain that humans are social animals and only beasts or gods can live separately from others without a need for social life. A man who is free from the need and constriction of social interactions has always been seen like an animal or a god, depending on the point of view of the observer. Hermits, ascetics have always been seen with a dual gaze.

When we meet someone alone there is also something in our instinct that say us to don’t be trusting. This may lyes in the fact that we perceive alone people as someone who has been already rejected by others, excluded by the group or the society. “No one want him, be careful” says the instinct voice in our mind.  We are like animals. Our instinct say us to be alert about.

That says, I personally believe that there is no limits to the greatness of a man. And there is no limits to our power. We are gods that has forgot how to fly. 

The difference between the god and the beast lyes as I said, in who is observing. Opinions are subjective, and is really difficult to define something with an eye that goes out of our believes. So if you think that the “right” life should be living with surrounded by friends in a big house with a job that gives you a lots of money, you will see like a beast, like a mad, the man who lives alone in a forest with no one but himself. Choosing of living alone without feeling loneliness required a great self awareness and ability in directing the thoughts and the emotions. In my opinion ask for a more deep conscience of the world.

In a historical period in which people live so close to each other we have reached the maximum level of ignorance of our similar.  Our neighbour is unknown more then ever. But we want to know who is the president of that state, how many children are dying in central Africa, what is the favorite song of Lady Gaga, instead of knocking to the next door and ask to the person how does she/he feels. I’m not saying that is more important to help our neighbour then helping people that are far away. I find hypocrite fighting mentally battles, against the bigs of the world, when in front of our doors we let just cold and indifference. So maybe, it is not so misanthropic who choose for solitude. He or she is probably just affirming his/her need for reality, authenticity.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 
― Henry David Thoreau

Solitude and loneliness are two different concepts. I really understood it when I was sixteen or seventeen. It was the second time in my life that I was going to a club. I went with some friends. When we get inside we was dancing on the dance-floor. After one hour of just dancing I started to get really bored. So I tried to approach some girls, but at the time I was quite shy with woman and I didn’t know even how to dance with someone else (actually I still don’t know, 🙂 but I just don’t mind now). After a pair of attempts I stopped and I was going around for the club without knowing what to do. There would have been 3, maybe 4 hundred people, and I was alone. I remember that I went back home at about 3 o’ clock and I started writing.

I wrote for long time in the night about this feeling. How was possible to feel lonely while surrounded by so many people. And I started to understand that the two concept wasn’t strictly tied together.

A man who brings love in his heart, will never feel lonely, even in a desert.

See you at the next post.

Thanks for reading,

Alberto

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The dreamer who dreams a dream

One time I read a sentence. “I have a dream…to have a dream”.

Movies and book deals usually with the dreams of the characters. A person who want to be a champion, presidents of the USA, a soldier, a teacher, or a simple man with wife and kids. Recent history is the story of men who had a dream (sometimes nightmares) and knew how to reach it, and make people follow them.

But many times we see ourselves moving for inertia in a blind direction. And just when the flow of the moment disappears, we find ourselves in the middle of a dark way that we haven’t choose.

What I want to deal with you today is the power of decisions and of setting goals.

The video below is a video of Anthony Robbins, one of the most known life coach in America:

Bunker Hunt, a former billionaire one time said “Success is simple. First, you decide what you want specifically; and second, you decide you’re willing to pay the price to make it happen, and then you pay that price”. I find this sentence one of the most true for me. Success, and with this word I mean reaching results, is almost all a play of persistence, will, patients and enjoyment.

Decide what you want

Life will pay any price you’ll ask on itAnthony Robbins

Nothing else can really be done if you don’t decide. You can let the fate to guide you, but it would be a very random game. It’s really important to decide what you want to be, who you want to be and what that would mean.

This is the most important part. How can you go where you want to go, if you don’t know where you want to go? You could also drive your car in the wrong way without noticing. Choose between many different options could seems hard. To do it you need courage. It couldn’t seem easy, but you are the only one who can do it.

Let’s set clear Goals

When you decide what you want, you’ll need to be the most possible specific. A way to be it is setting clear goals. Image that you are driving on an highway, in the direction of a city that you have never seen before. You just know the direction and that you want to arrive there. But on the street there are no signals that tells you when to turn. You would possibly go on and on ad infinitum. Or if you get tired about it, you could also came back just before reaching your target. If you don’t know where do you want to go, you won’t know what direction take. But if you just barely know what would you like, you’ll know the direction, but you’ll probably won’t find a way to reach it.

Set specific goals. In the video Tony Robbins made a clear example: “I want more money. Ok, take a dollar and go away”. How more money do you want? When? Fix a date and an amount and work for earn it.

Strategy

The other essential point for succeed is to make a plan that will lead you to achieve your goals. Strategy means using well the resources that you already dispose. Time will be your most important resource. Organize your time and focus on what you want to achieve. Do something for it every day.

One time I read: “Do something for fifteen minutes every day, and you’ll achieve every target”.

In this process is very useful to know what are the most effective and efficient strategies that will bring you to your goal. Coming back to the example of the driver. You want to reach the unknown city and there are not signals on the road, and you neither know how the city looks like. Should be a smart idea to bring with you a map, or give a look for some pictures of the city before leaving. Or why not, bring whit you a GPS.

Motivation

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life – Confucius

Why do you want it? What is your point? Do you want to graduate with best marks? Why? Quest yourself. You have to do things that you really want. Things that motivate you. Things that make you wake up early in the morning. You have to find your passions. In one of the last post we talked about Flow and his power. When you do what you really love, everything is simpler. Everything comes as automatic, and it’s easier to persist during tough times.

But other motivation could also guide you, and they can be worth enough. There is plenty of stories of people who wanted to changed their life and their condition, also passing through pain and suffering. They was motivated to do it. An italian song by Fabrizio De Andrè that tell the story of a dwarf whom for revenge became a judge. He wanted to feel the power in his hand, so that no one would have never offended him again.

I hope that revenge won’t guide your hand, so, in the meanwhile look to this video of Steave Jobs:

Thank you for reading.

See you at the next post,

Alberto

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Hesse’s advice for happiness

Some years ago I read a short story about happiness. An old cat seeing a young cat that was trying to catch its tail asked him why it was running after it so anxiously.  “I’ve heard” answered the young cat ”that the best thing in life is happiness and that it is in my tail. It’s because of this that I run after it, and when I’ll catch it I will be happy”. “My dear” answered the old cat ” I have also considered the matter of happiness and I arrive to understand too that happiness is in my tail. But I’ve notice one thing. That the more I run after it, the more it flee away from me. Otherwise when I do other things it can’t do nothing but follow me”.

This little story explained me how sometimes can be crazy the pursuit of happiness. It’s one of the thing that I’ve been learning (and that many times I forget) from great men of the past and from my personal experience.

Today I don’t want to use my words to explain what happiness is. Is a quite difficult concept. In the story of humanity, after men achieved to satisfy their basic needs, a new and more raffinate good started to be researched. Food was no more enough to fill their bodies. Water and all the other drinks didn’t prevent them of being thirsty. Happiness started to be a need. Religions base their existence on the pursuit of something that goes over the material world. Something that could get everyman totally fulfilled. As I wrote in the last post Aristotele said that happiness is the engine for everything we do, or we look for.

Many times I’ve been thinking about happiness. It is maybe something that doesn’t exist? Happiness is only a concept. A linguistic box in which we can put definitions and pictures of our happy stories. But happiness is a human creation. Is not nature. Nature doesn’t live comparing sad and happy moments. The world exist for what it is. And there is no wrong or right that can be identify in an objective reality. Right and wrong are only subjective concepts. What can be right for someone can maybe be wrong for someone else.

One of my favourite books is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. My brother gave this book to me as gift last christmas. Some days later I started reading some pages before going to bed. I was sucked in the story. I read half book that night. And in the morning I couldn’t wait to finish it. I woke up at 6 am and I just started reading. I was astonished and amazed. My intention is to give you a taste of the wisdom of the writer.

He came to the river and asked the old man to ferry him over, and when they got off the boat on the other side, he said to the old man: “You’re very good to us monks and pilgrims, you have already ferried many of us across the river. Aren’t you too, ferryman, a searcher for the right path?”

Quoth Siddhartha, smiling from his old eyes: “Do you call yourself a searcher, oh venerable one, though you are already of an old in years and are wearing the robe of Gotama’s monks?”

“It’s true, I’m old,” spoke Govinda, “but I haven’t stopped searching. Never I’ll stop searching, this seems to be my destiny. You too, so it seems to me, have been searching. Would you like to tell me something, oh honourable one?”
Quoth Siddhartha: “What should I possibly have to tell you, oh venerable one? Perhaps that you’re searching far too much? That in all that searching, you don’t find the time for finding?”

“How come?” asked Govinda.

“When someone is searching,” said Siddhartha, “then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.”

Many times happiness become a goal in the life of many of us. But what happiness has to be is a companion during our path in this life. A blind journey it is non sense, even if at the end of it we will find what we are looking for. Life is meant to be tasted everyday. So…also today thanks for reading  🙂

See you at the next post,

Alberto

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Flow – A secret for succeed

“Your concentration is very complete. Your mind isn’t wandering, you are not thinking of something else; you are totally involved in what you are doing…. Your energy is flowing very smoothly. You feel relaxed, comfortable, and energetic.”  a dancer describing the feeling during a performance.

Have you ever experienced a moment in which you was totally focused on what you were doing, forgetting about everything else but your task? Minutes passed, the light from the windows changed it’s angle, but you nether noticed it. The italian writer Vittorio Alfieri in order to commit for a long time to literature arrived to ask his friend to tie him with a rope in his studio. What he was trying to attempt was the devotion to writing, in order to achieve a moment of total focus.

What makes life worthwhile, if we are not involved in what we experience? Many times during the day we pass through different states of focus and differnet emotions. But try to remember the happiest moment of your life? Where were you? What was your thoughts like? Was you over-thinking everything? Or maybe you was “inside” your actions, being like an observer of a mysterious and funny plan?

What you will read today is about the Flow or Optimal Experience.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, considered one of the leading researcher in the field, describe the Flow as a state of mind or a state or experience in which we feel totally involved in what we are doing. “TWENTY-THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO Aristotle concluded that, more than anything else, men and women seek happiness. While happiness itself is sought for its own sake, every other goal—health, beauty, money, or power—is valued only because we expect that it will make us happy. Much has changed since Aristotle’s time. […]

And yet on this most important issue very little has changed in the intervening centuries. […] people often end up feeling that their lives have been wasted, that instead of being filled with happiness their years were spent in anxiety and boredom. […] What I “discovered” was that happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. […] is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. […]

The “best moments of our lives“, marks in our memory how our life should be, and from here comes the name of Optimal Experience. As Csikszentmihalyi says “It is what the sailor holding a tight course feels when the wind whips through her hair, when the boat lunges through the waves like a colt—sails, hull, wind, and sea humming a harmony that vibrates in the sailor’s veins. It is what a painter feels when the colors on the canvas begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and a new thing, a living form, takes shape in front of the astonished creator “.

This moments comes usually when the person’s mind and body are stretched to the limits in order to win a voluntary challenge. Flow requires effort, at least at the beginning, but this could lead to a state of ultimate enjoyment. And here is the main difference between enjoyment and pleasure. Pleasure is passive and effortless.

Csikszentmihalyi point out 7 key elements common in many persons who experienced the Flow. It’s important to understand that this condition was felt from person coming from very different conditions of age, social state, culture etc.

1- Complete Involvement

We concentrate their attention in order to achieve our task. All other thoughts disappear. The difficult assignment for the next week, the housework to be done, hunger…everything seems irrelevant in comparison of what we are doing.

2- Inner Clarity 

Every action comes with order and seems automatic. There is almost a direct correlation between thoughts and action. No wondering, but actions. Furthermore we can assess how our “work” is going through immediate feedbacks.

3- Serenity

“Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.”  J. S. Mill,

There are no worries in the air. Whatever will go in the right way. There is no time and no focus left to ask us if we are happy or not. We are too involved in our actions.

4- You can do it (Skills)

Our skills and competences are stretched at the maximum level in order to achieve our task. But there is a believes. We know how to do it. Also if in now we don’t have the answer….in some way we will find it.

5- Intrinsic Motivation

This should be a memorandum for all we do in our lives. The action that people under Flow do are self rewarding.  Doing the action is already the end. The journey and not the destination is the important thing. Person who do things for their own sake, rather than in order to achieve some later external goal, have more possibility of entering a state of Flow.

“The mystique of rock climbing is climbing; you get to the top of a rock glad it’s over but really wish it would go on forever. The justification of climbing is climbing, like the justification of poetry is writing; you don’t conquer anything except things in yourself…. The act of writing justifies poetry. Climbing is the same: recognizing that you are a flow. The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow. It is not a moving up but a continuous flowing; you move up to keep the flow going. There is no possible reason for climbing except the climbing itself; it is a self-communication.” from the words of writer and rock climber.

6- Ecstasy

The word comes from the greek  “ex-stasis“, being outside. Many persons describe the Flow as a kind of transcendental experience. They stand just as observer while everything seemed to go on it’s own way. Experiencing the Optimal Experience, we feel more then out from the ordinary life routine, we feel like disappearing.

“You are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist. I have experienced this time and time again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching it in a state of awe and wonderment. And [the music] just flows out of itself” a composer describing the experience of Flow.

7- What time is it?

Time’s perception is altered. Hours seems passing as minutes. Everything flows (again this word) away.

Here is the video of the speech of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at TED Talks:

Thanks for reading this articles.

see you at the next post,

Alberto

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 Music has the Power

Just yesterday I was listening a piece of music titled “La Follia” by Antonio Vivaldi. Just listen to it and let your imagination free to fly. When I hear the sounds of the strings playing all together, I feel myself flying in a sea of pictures and emotions.

I can see a crazy inventor that, absorbed by a magical intuition, starts writing or drawing his art. I imagine a strong wind, blowing from everywhere, moving leaves and trees. And suddenly I feel a great strength in all my body and in my soul.

So I started thinking about the power that music has on me. I mean the pure music, the instrumental one. Music without lyrics. In fact throw a text it’s easy to relate a word to its meaning. If I say “table” you will think about what for you is a table.

Music use a different approach. For a long time I have been thinking music has a kind of transcendent power. It seems like a secret language. But instead of speaking to our mind, it communicate directly with our heart.

But what about this is true?

What make us feel music as an emotional communication vehicle? How can we feel strong and joyful, or tired and sad, after listening to music?

Scientist agree on the fact that music has real effect on human physiology. Depending on what kind of music we listen to, our body can modify our heart beating and blood flow. It can release dopamine and endorphins. It allow our mind to access more easily to specific mnemonic contents.

These are only some of the reactions that we have when we listen (notice that I wrote listen… with listen I mean being present in the action of listening not only heard a sound) to music.

Ok, and what about emotions?

First of all, let’s put a simple definition. For me an emotion is a phsico-physics situation that a person feels (consciously or unconsciously) and that influence strongly his/her believes and behaviour. In few words an emotion is how we perceive the world in a specific instant.

We represent our reality through the filter of our senses (visual, audiovisual, tactile etc.). And thanks of it we create an internal representation of our reality. Emotions depend both from our internal representation and our physiology. So, if music changes our physiology, emotions should change too.

Wow! One point! But what about our internal representation? Why music make us daydreaming? Make us picturing imaginary images?

Stephen Davies, philosopher in ascetics of music, supported the Appearance emotionalism theory.  Music is not emotional itself. We just expect it to be , because we identify the meaning of music in something else. We define a song as happy or sad, because we see an analogy. Sounds and rhythms of music are identified as other experience that we have already lived. So when we hear a series of sounds, we give them specific meanings, basing on our experience.

For example, when we hear a strong unexpected sound while we are comfortably at home (reading this blog 🙂 ), our first reaction could be fear. This because our mind has a sort of “database” of  instinctive reactions depending of the situation. As the verbal communication (the words) mean something to us, so it do music. The difference is that music is a different language and it doesn’t follow strictly the roles of human communication. We hear something and we translate it in our way. The way in which we translate that languages, brig us to specific reactions. And this means that it could be different from person-to-person.

So, for today it’s all.

Thanks for reading and see you to the next post,

Alberto

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