By Alix Strauss
Judith Matloff, who teaches crisis reporting at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, has found herself in some tight situations, like being trapped in a hotel during a civil war in Angola. The experience, she said, was dicier than, say, staying inside a New York apartment to avoid a dangerous virus, but there were some similarities, too.
I was thinking natural disasters were on the rise, but I thought of them as being climate-related. I didn’t think about sheltering for a pandemic.
What do you predict the next two weeks will be like?...
by Zat Rana
Before dying at the age of 39, Blaise Pascal made huge contributions to both physics and mathematics, notably in fluids, geometry, and probability.
This work, however, would influence more than just the realm of the natural sciences. Many fields that we now classify under the heading of social science did, in fact, also grow out of the foundation he helped lay.
Interestingly enough, much of this was done in his teen years, with some of it coming in his twenties. As an adult, inspired by a religious experience, he actually started to move towards philosophy and theology.
Right before his death, he was hashing out fragments of private thoughts that would later be released as a collection by the name of Pensées.
While the book is mostly a mathematician’s case for choosing a life of faith and belief, the more curious thing about it is its clear and lucid ruminations on what it means to be human. It’s a blueprint of our psychology long before psychology was deemed a formal discipline.
There is enough thought-provoking material in it to quote, and it attacks human nature from a variety of different angles, but one of its most famous thoughts aptly sums up the core of his argument:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.
The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude.
The perils of being connectedToday, more than ever, Pascal’s message rings true. If there is one word to describe the progress made in the last 100 years, it’s connectedness.
Information technologies have dominated our cultural direction. From the telephone to the radio to the TV to the internet, we have found ways to bring us all closer together, enabling constant worldly access.
I can sit in my office in Canada and transport myself to practically anywhere I want through Skype. I can be on the other side of the world and still know what is going on at home with a quick browse.
I don’t think I need to highlight the benefits of all this. But the downsides are also beginning to show. Beyond the current talk about privacy and data collection, there is perhaps an even more detrimental side-effect here.
We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves.
If Pascal’s observation about our inability to sit quietly in a room by ourselves is true of the human condition in general, then the issue has certainly been augmented by an order of magnitude due to the options available today.
The logic is, of course, seductive. Why be alone when you never have to?
Well, the answer is that never being alone is not the same thing as never feeling alone. Worse yet, the less comfortable you are with solitude, the more likely it is that you won’t know yourself. And then, you’ll spend even more time avoiding it to focus elsewhere. In the process, you’ll become addicted to the same technologies that were meant to set you free.
Just because we can use the noise of the world to block out the discomfort of dealing with ourselves doesn’t mean that this discomfort goes away.
Almost everybody thinks of themselves as self-aware. They think they know how they feel and what they want and what their problems are. But the truth is that very few people really do. And those that do will be the first to tell how fickle self-awareness is and how much alone time it takes to get there.
In today’s world, people can go their whole lives without truly digging beyond the surface-level masks they wear; in fact, many do.
We are increasingly out of touch with who we are, and that’s a problem.
Boredom as a mode of stimulationIf we take it back to the fundamentals—and this is something Pascal touches on, too—our aversion to solitude is really an aversion to boredom.
At its core, it’s not necessarily that we are addicted to a TV set because there is something uniquely satisfying about it, just like we are not addicted to most stimulants because the benefits outweigh the downsides. Rather, what we are really addicted to is a state of not-being-bored.
Almost anything else that controls our life in an unhealthy way finds its root in our realization that we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs.
We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious in spite of being so intimately connected to everything else around us.
Fortunately, there is a solution. The only way to avoid being ruined by this fear—like any fear—is to face it. It’s to let the boredom take you where it wants so you can deal with whatever it is that is really going on with your sense of self. That’s when you’ll hear yourself think, and that’s when you’ll learn to engage the parts of you that are masked by distraction.
The beauty of this is that, once you cross that initial barrier, you realize that being alone isn’t so bad. Boredom can provide its own stimulation.
When you surround yourself with moments of solitude and stillness, you become intimately familiar with your environment in a way that forced stimulation doesn’t allow. The world becomes richer, the layers start to peel back, and you see things for what they really are, in all their wholeness, in all their contradictions, and in all their unfamiliarity.
You learn that there are other things you are capable of paying attention to than just what makes the most noise on the surface. Just because a quiet room doesn’t scream with excitement like the idea of immersing yourself in a movie or a TV show doesn’t mean that there isn’t depth to explore there.
Sometimes, the direction that this solitude leads you in can be unpleasant, especially when it comes to introspection—your thoughts and your feelings, your doubts and your hopes—but in the long-term, it’s far more pleasant than running away from it all without even realizing that you are.
Embracing boredom allows you to discover novelty in things you didn’t know were novel; it’s like being an unconditioned child seeing the world for the first time. It also resolves the majority of internal conflicts.
The more the world advances, the more stimulation it will provide as an incentive for us to get outside of our own mind to engage with it.
While Pascal’s generalization that a lack of comfort with solitude is the root of all our problems may be an exaggeration, it’s isn’t an entirely unmerited one.
Everything that has done so much to connect us has simultaneously isolated us. We are so busy being distracted that we are forgetting to tend to ourselves, which is consequently making us feel more and more alone.
Interestingly, the main culprit isn’t our obsession with any particular worldly stimulation. It’s the fear of nothingness—our addiction to a state of not-being-bored. We have an instinctive aversion to simply being.
Without realizing the value of solitude, we are overlooking the fact that, once the fear of boredom is faced, it can actually provide its own stimulation. And the only way to face it is to make time, whether every day or every week, to just sit—with our thoughts, our feelings, with a moment of stillness.
The oldest philosophical wisdom in the world has one piece of advice for us: know yourself. And there is a good reason why that is.
Without knowing ourselves, it’s almost impossible to find a healthy way to interact with the world around us. Without taking time to figure it out, we don’t have a foundation to built the rest of our lives on.
Being alone and connecting inwardly is a skill nobody ever teaches us. That’s ironic because it’s more important than most of the ones they do.
Solitude may not be the solution to everything, but it certainly is a start.
by Suzie Doscher - Executive and Life Coach for Personal Development in Switzerland
To reach your potential as well as feel confident, strong, motivated, energetic and content in the course of your life, having Life Skills is essential. They are the “software” you acquire along the way. You are born with the “hardware”; your body. Your behaviour comes under the heading “software” because this can be changed, improved, modified, extended or even deleted if necessary.
Many of these Life Skills are received in the home and at school while growing up, others you learn later in your development, taught by “the school of life”, friends, colleagues, courses, books, teachers, trainers, and coaches. Experiences, both positive and negative ones, are wonderful opportunities to learn from and grow.
What makes one person successful while others keep struggling? Everybody goes through difficult phases, has obstacles to overcome and disappointments to heal. This cannot be avoided. How you cope with all of these is the key to making your life a success.
Life Skills offer support with how you handle your life. They can be defined as a group of cognitive and personal abilities that enhance your capability to lead a life in which you reach your potential.
Every person has strengths and weaknesses; getting to know them is important in the process of finding out “who” you are and therefore “what” you want. Not everybody has the same dream.
You should not judge others but find your way forward based on your own values. The success of some people is not a matter of luck; they will have learned how to manage their life, and they will have acquired the “software”.
Understanding that life is about change, which is inevitable, is one of the first steps on this ladder to the top! Your personal worth will benefit knowing you have the necessary skills in life to face everything that comes your way with confidence.
an excerpt from BALANCE - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments by Suzie Doscher
I enjoyed not only the content of this book, but the way that it was organized and broken up. Very interactive so that you weren’t just reading, but also applying along the way. Great Book!
by Marcel Schwantes
So much has been written about the burgeoning happiness movement. While combing through my own research and notes on what happy and successful peopledo, it struck me how intentional they are about choosing the right mindset to become happier and more optimistic.
While countless books have been written on happiness, I'm narrowing this article down to a working template for living life to the fullest.
Here are seven sure signs of the happiest people.
1. They choose to have healthy relationships.
I've learned to be picky over the years about whom I let into my inner circle of friends. Why? Because I believe close relationships are the key to sustaining happiness.
One profound longitudinal study proves this. For 80 years, researchers followed 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age.
Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the current director of the study, told the Harvard Gazette: "The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation."
For participants, half of whom are still alive as of this writing, the only thing that really mattered was their relationships to other people.
Jessica Hicks, Assistant Editor at Thrive Global
If you had a dollar for every time you hear “new year, new you,” leading up to 2020, you’d probably be a millionaire by the time the clock strikes midnight. We all like to talk about starting fresh when January 1 rolls around, yet we often set ourselves up for disappointment by making resolutions that are products of wishful thinking, instead of focusing on realistic and achievable goals. The key to making goals that last is starting small, with Microsteps — and there are so many minor changes you can make in your daily life that will have a major impact down the line.
These eight science-backed strategies — implementing the very latest research — are simple enough to incorporate into your daily or weekly routines, and are sure to change the way you work and live in 2020.
By Alexandra Hayes, Multimedia Reporter
While at work, I find myself looking for ways to be a productivity wizard. Often, I tend to hit a wall around 4 p.m., but my job, which consists mostly of writing, requires my brain to function like a well-oiled conveyer belt, delivering fresh, coherent thoughts as they are needed (and I like it this way!).
Not all assignments require the same level of focus, so one way I’ve learned to optimize my time is by doing the labor-intensive tasks first. I’ll start whatever it is early in the morning, and I’ll chip away at it for however long my brain continues to produce quality work for. For the most part, this strategy works for me. I dedicate my most productive hours to my most demanding tasks, and getting a head start on those items alleviates the anxiety that can be induced by intimidating deadlines, and the disappearance of time.
by Suzie Doscher, Executive Coach and Life Coaching focusing on Personal Development, Self-Help Author: Balance - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments
Coaching your team? Add this skill to your coaching style – being non-judgmental.
There is an abundance of articles on being a coach to your people. I enjoy reading the quality information provided by the Harvard Business Review.
The desire to increase, enhance or maintain the quality of work, and in some cases even the quality of life at work, is evident.
The article in the HBR: Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach. But They Can Learn, offers wonderful insights on what coaching is all about and aims to achieve.
Your responsibilities include leading, motivating, inspiring and with your coaching you hope to further their growth, development and enhance their skills.
'Balance - A Practical Handbook and Workbook for Life's Difficult Moments' by Suzie Doscher supports you improve the quality of your life, supports you in difficult moments and overcome life’s challenging every-day situations.
'Balance' is about change and learning the necessary everyday skills required for life = life skills.
Read or listen to it when you feel vulnerable, unsure of yourself, or ineffective in difficult and stressful moments.
With the Workbook section explore where you stand relating to issues from your past, present, and where you wish to be in the future.
Bear in mind that there is no balance where there is stress – stress contradicts calmness and happiness. Learn how to handle your stress effectively with the help of the insights in the book.
The goal of this book is to help you create new opportunities, learn new behaviors, and become the best version of yourself. It is all about practical action oriented insights, steps and behavior change.
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