Fear is not the enemy. Fear is the friend who keeps you safe – grabs your shirt and holds you back from dangerous leaps and treacherous bounds.
Fear is not an enemy who means to hold you back. It’s just that… he’s afraid. Afraid you won’t succeed, that you’ll embarrass yourself. Afraid that you’ll get hurt or won’t ever recover from missing leaps and tripping on bounds.
Fear is also the friend who hangs around too much, comes over uninvited and interrupts you when you’re trying to get things done.
He’s the friend who nags you to do what he wants you to do, even when you want to do something else.
He’s the guy who calls late at night when you’re trying to sleep, who thinks he knows everything and ignores what you have to say. He overshadows your accomplishments with his own victories and “I told you so’s”.
He’s a friend. But not always a very good one.
Though you shouldn’t shut him out completely, you may have to kick him out when he won’t go home. And though shouldn’t ignore him, you’d do well to remember he’s not your only friend.
Confidence is also your friend – the one who’s got your back. Who says “You can” and celebrates when you do. He’s the guy that listens and nods when you tell stories of success and gives you a nudge when you confess your failures.
He’s the friend who wants you to succeed because he knows you can. He’s the one who consoles Fear then gags him and sticks him a closet so he doesn’t ruin the party.
Fear and Confidence… they’re both your friends. But it’s up to you which one you hang out with more.
Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.
We know that good eating, sleeping and exercise habits promote health. Likewise, stress management and positive thinking foster good mental health. However most of us want more than health. We want happiness too.
Imagination is a key component of happiness. For one, it allows us to recognize what a happier life would actually look like. But more importantly, it gives life a more magical quality to it, rather than just the same old-same old.
Imagination is Magical
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Albert Einstein
Imagination is the one human attribute that has no limits. Your muscles, attention span, even memory – all have a maximum threshold. Imagination has no parameters. This gift, as far as we know, sets us apart from other beings.
For creative-types who invent, innovate, and make the world a more entertaining place – imagination is a vital function that must be exercised regularly. Without it, creativity wouldn’t exist.
Use It or Lose It
Just as laziness leads to muscle wasting, a life filled with activity and no “mental play” leads to an emaciation of imagination. Your mind becomes satiated with pre-frontal cortex stuff like planning and organizing, while imagination withers away.
Ideas to Exercise Your Imagination
If you want to give your imagination a workout, here are some exercises to try:
1. Photo-bomber Fun
Examine the background stuff in a few of your photos, like the people who became unknowing photo-bombers in your holiday snaps. Who are they? What must their lives might be like? Why were they there? Write a short story about them.
2. Take a Test
Developed by JP Guilford in 1967, the Alternative Uses Test challenges your creative boundaries. Examine an ordinary household object, like a coffee cup or paperclip, and think of as many possible uses for it as you can. The more absurd or random the better! Try this game with a kid – they will teach you a lot about removing the boundaries that confine imagination.
3. Have a Brain Dump
Set your timer and write for ten minutes – about anything and everything. Let one thought flow into another, even if there is no real association or logic between the two. Play with words – try out new combinations or ridiculous metaphors. The idea is to write fast and frenzied, then see what comes out of it.
4. Play the Free-Association Game
Talk with a friend (or yourself, if you’re so inclined). Shout out one random word, then the next that comes immediately to mind. Don’t think too much about it. Write down each word that comes to mind, and see if you can find a connection between them. Again, this is game is a great one to play with a kid.
5. Thought Experiments
Use your imagination to investigate the nature of something you don’t fully understand or to explore all the potential consequences of a particular theory that may not be provable in real life. Here are some mind-blowing examples to get you started.
6. Nap or Daydream
Give your brain a break from tedium of the day to get its creative juices flowing. Dreaming is the ultimate expression of an unrestricted imagination. Take a cat nap and as you fall asleep, notice the images and sensations that send you off. Or, spend some time relaxing in a daydream about … anything you can possibly imagine! Notice what comes up when you don’t force your mind to think about anything in particular.
These are just a few ideas to help you exercise your imagination. Feel free to share what comes out of these exercises for you, or share a few ideas of your own!
Positivity… we all know it can help you go farther in life…
Positivity, at best, inspires you to keep going, move forward and reach for your highest potential. At worst, it softens the blows when something doesn’t work out like we hoped it would.
The most successful people in life are not those who have had no obstacles. They are the people who have fallen and gotten back up – tougher and stronger than before. They are the positive people, who no one can hold down for very long.
But positivity isn’t something that can be achieved easily for everyone. For some of us, we are negative by nature. We don’t mean to be downers, but our set point simply hovers around zero. For others, life has thrown so many curve balls, the only way they can avoid getting hit any more is to constantly look down.
But there is, objectively, no more reason to look on the downside than there is to look up. Looking up can actually inspire you to get back up – try harder, do better, push yourself until you achieve the success you desperately want. On the contrary, negativity does nothing more than hold you down in the trenches with the heel of its boot pressed up against your ear.
How do you get more positivity in your life when can’t find anything to be positive about?
You have to fight for it, of course!
You have to pursue it, relentlessly, until it can escape you no longer.
No one said that positivity has to come easily in order for it to be worth it. You need to look for the reasons to be positive. You need to search your soul and itemize every single thing you have to be grateful for, no matter how small. You need to dig deep, find the beauty in every moment, and be glad simply because you are alive. Turn the other cheek, not to get smacked again – but to see what you have been missing. There is always a silver lining. If you don’t see it, maybe you haven’t opened your eyes all the way.
I know its not that easy…
But you have to treat positivity as something to be sought after… coveted. And anything you want that badly – you’ll fight for.
The harder and longer you chase positivity, the more likely it is you will find it.
Ever wonder what your significance in this world is???
Today’s post is a little different. Its actually based on a video.
My husband and I have been working on a project together, creating motivational videos in a 360 Virtual Reality format. Being that he is a 360 videographer, and I like to write motivational scripts… it seemed to be a natural fit.
When we created them, we really had you in mind. Countless times I have been emailed by ADDers telling me that it is difficult to focus when they’re reading. So for these are for you – no reading here. On top of that, you get to “look around” while you watch the video. The 360 format allows you to look left, right, look behind – even above – if you want.
About this video:
If you ever doubt the meaning of life, your significance in the world, or whether or not you make a difference – this 360 video is for you. Shot during sunrise over Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia on New Year’s Day 2016, we’ve captured the inspirational beauty of the sun and assimilated it to the magic of being human. We hope that watching it moves you as much as the moment moved us when we shot it.
At motiVRations we help you unplug from all the distractions in your life, and get in touch with your inner strengths. By immersing yourself in stunning scenery and focusing on life affirming messages, our 360 videos are the perfect pep talk to kick-start your day or a great way to visualize your future before drifting off to sleep. These videos are best viewed on a Virtual Reality (VR) headset but can be watched on any device.
We’d love to know what you think. Does this format work for you? Could we make it BETTER? Please share your comments or stop by and check out our Youtube Channel: motiVRations . Make sure to like us and share!
Life can feel pretty empty at times. Yet I hate all the stale maxims about passion out there.
Follow your passion and … what???
It’s fine advice for retirees with nothing else to do. When you have mouths to feed and heads to put a roof over, passion is the last thing to worry about.
Besides, most of us don’t know what we’re passionate about. They don’t teach passion in school, unless you count teenage experimentation as extracurricular instruction.
Even if we were lucky enough to feel rapturous about something, who’s got the time to do anything about it?
Just stop wasting time, they say. Productivity experts propose cutting out TV or social media as if they are soul-sucking, passion-decoys. Give up these time wasters and you’ll have at least a couple of extra hours a day. Great advice, but it neglects the reason we rely on these crutches in the first place.
After a long day, your brain is numb and you have no energy for anything else. That’s why you flake out in front of a screen every night. A fatigued and dazed mind isn’t apt to feeling passionate about anything. Screen time asks nothing of you. Which is good because, most nights, you have nothing left to give.
Get up early, they say. Successful people start their day while everyone else is still in bed.
I don’t see the logic… passion is an entity awoken by an alarm clock?
Day in and out, we go through the motions, exhausted by the sheer irrelevance of the “to do” lists we serve. The lists that are, by the way, fertilized by pen ink and grow larger each time we strike an item off. We make a bed, it gets unmade. We wash a dish, it gets dirty again. We pay a bill… whammo! It comes around again the next month.
Not exactly the ideal life we imagine we’d have when we find our passion, is it? Yet beds will still get unmade and dishes will get dirty, even when you’re living out your dream.
There is one quote I do like, really like, about passion.
Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) writes:
“Naturally successful people want you to believe that success is a by-product of their awesomeness, but they also want to retain some humility. You can say passion was the key to your success because everyone can be passionate about something or other. Passion sounds more accessible. If you’re dumb there’s not much you can do about it, but passion is something we think anyone can generate in the right circumstances. Passion is very democratic. It’s the people’s talent, available to all. It’s also mostly bullshit.” (How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big)
Thanks Scott, I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Here’s the solution.
You were hoping I’d get to the part where I make you feel better about the problem by now, weren’t you?
Well, here goes.
I don’t think that the key to a happy life is to do what you’re passionate about. We do what we do to get by. And most of the time, what we do kind of sucks. But it pays the bills.
Some of us will be lucky enough to find passions that pay well. Others do what they’re passionate about only to find that making a career out of it actually kills their passion.
Most of us, however, will go through the daily grind feeling less than satiated. Perhaps we’ll even feel a bit numb. Or bored. Or empty.
What we can do, in these instances, is this:
We can learn to be more passionate about living.
Let me be clear: by this I don’t mean Nike-advert, just get out there and do it, carpe diem, seize-the-moment passionate.
I mean this kind of (real life, accessible to all) passion:
Holy crap, I’m alive! Of course, I’m dying every day (as each of us are) but for now, I am still alive. I get to work and live in a first world country, where I have access to food, clothing, shelter and health care. Every day I wake up, without fear of violence or violation, because my world is basically safe. So safe, in fact, that I actually have no bigger concerns than what might or might not happen in the future. I have responsibilities and people that need me, which culminate in endless to-do lists demonstrating how rich my life really is. And the fact that I feel empty, despite all the busy things I do in a day, means that I am the owner of a brain capable of higher level, self-analyzing and reflective thinking.
In essence, life is not about following your passion.
Being alive is something to be passionate about. You could very easily be dead, or at least – much, much worse off than you are now.
Look around. See the beauty in the world around you. Eat some chocolate. Listen to music. Talk to a friend. Hug a child. Dance with your partner. Take a long shower. Run down a beach. Wear fuzzy pajamas. Draw a picture. Try a new recipe. Drive a different route to work. Smile at a stranger. Pray to God. Meditate. Think. Cry. Laugh. Love.
If you feel empty, be passionate about finding meaning in the small things in life. That kind of passion is not bullshit.
It’s been a busy summer. Like every summer, the days have slipped past me faster than the plummeting price of oil.
I love having the kids off from school. No lunches to pack, no early morning alarm bells (for them, anyway). No arguing over what to wear or when to go to bed. Just pure, blissful, organic, moment-to-moment living.
I treasure these stolen moments with the kids, to laze around and (yes, I’ll admit) watch Vat19.com videos on Youtube. It’s guilt-inducing that I allow them to pollute their minds with pointless tripe, but redeeming to find communion over a shared sense of humour.
Admittedly, there have not been enough “stolen moments” like these. (I count stolen moments as extra moments to do out-of-the-ordinary things that can’t be done within the confines of your normal schedule).There have been even fewer quality moments doing things of substance and value. Because, like I said, we’ve been busy.
Work, business, blogging and website building. Basement renovations, deck building, hardware shopping and garbage dump deliveries. New puppy, summer parties, sleepovers and play dates. Garage sales and grocery shopping. Carpet cleaning and yard clean up (like I said – NEW PUPPY!). Company from afar and from across the road…
All the things that occupy the stolen moments supposedly called “free time”.
And yet with all the busyness, it’s hard not to focus on what hasn’t been done. It’s easy to feel unfulfilled.
Yes, we have a new deck – but it’s overshadowed by the proliferating weed-monstrosities overtaking the garden. The neighbours must hate us.
Yes, the basement is now finished after twelve grueling months, but the spot-washed carpet is a mere homage to the cleaning that remains to be done. What the company must think!
Yes, the kids have had fun with so many of their friends and the puppies have been exercised and fed. But what none of them have had is enough of me. Because, you know – the new deck, the basement, the company and ++ more.
I started out the summer with a master list of everything I wanted to accomplish during these respite months. What I forgot to include was list of everything I didn’t want to do. Being happy and productive is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.
So with a month left to go, time is of the essence to make that list right now.
My Oath to Fulfilling Productivity
I vow that however I spend my time, I will do so by being fully present and in the moment with that activity. When I am working in the yard, I will work in the yard. When I am with the kids, I will be with the kids. I am one person, with one my mind. I can’t split my body into two people, so why should I spilt my mind?
I promise that I will give equal time to activities of substance and productivity. Guilt will not rob me of fulfillment in either. I need to spend quality time with my family and I need to get things done. These needs are not mutually exclusive and they both deserve my attention.
I assert that I will let some things go. Busyness will only be allocated to activities I endorse as valuable, regardless of how others may perceive me. So yes, the garden will remain overgrown. I am busy with other things this summer, and that’s nobody’s business but mine.
I commit to making productivity a by-product of fulfillment, rather than the other way around. Getting things done is not important activity in and of itself. On the other hand, fulfillment as a precursor to any activity lends itself to greater focus.
No matter how busy I get, I will always make time for stolen moments. In fact, I will get myself busier by making more of them. Renovating or yard work can be interrupted to laugh and love more freely. Work and business can be punctuated with impromptu cuddles and smiles and silliness. Company can be stalled or sent home sooner than anticipated because nobody should get more of me than my family does, and nobody should get be more of my family than me.
Before I engage in any activity of productiveness, I will start with a clear sense of a good-enough outcome for that moment. Aiming for a “finish” often means other important things (i.e. family) get relegated to second place in pursuit completion. Finishing is mot more valuable than balance.
You can make more money but you can never make more time, warns Randy Pausch. But you can make more of the time you have by choosing to spend it in fulfilling ways, even if that means learning to find your busyness more fulfilling.
I know that if I took more time to write this post, I would certainly think of at least a few more oaths I would like to make. But for now I am practicing “good-enough”.
I’m interested to hear what oaths you would make to create more fulfilling productivity in your life, and more specifically – what you would start “not doing” in order to achieve it. Let me know in the comments below 🙂
You remember (last post) when we talked about curiosity being one of your biggest assets? I have more to say about that.
I forgot to mention that you have another big asset at your disposal: creativity.Before you shush me with a modest “But I’m not creative!”, let me pre-empt you. You most certainly ARE creative (infinity, no return!).
We all have the capacity for creativity. It’s not an innate skill blessed on an auspicious few. It’s a seed implanted at birth, but one you must cultivate in order to experience its rewards.
Our Best Assets are Already at Our Disposal
ADDers tend to be a highly creative bunch. As we already know, we are also incredibly curious. Lucky for us, creativity and curiosity go really well together, like fried fish and tartar sauce. When you use them together deliberately – the results can be transformative (like… fried fish with tartar sauce!).
I’m really intrigued by the way ADD can actually benefit you and, at the same time, benefit itself. Creativity and curiosity can help you do amazing things in life (see: Richard Branson or Diana Gabaldon). They can also help you do amazing things with your ADHD challenges. It’s like using a sneeze to cure the sniffles.
Getting curious about your ADHD mind and your ADHD life helps you unravel the mysteries of those two things and make them infinitely better. Add an ounce or two of creativity and voila! You have concocted a recipe for an extraordinary life.
Which of These Two Worlds Do You Like Better?
Let me whisk you away for a moment, to a land not-so-far-away – the land of the Ordinary Life. In this place, you get up and go to work, keep your nose to the grind, then come home to the same old thing – whatever that thing is for you. Most days are okay, perhaps even fun once in a while, but on the whole they are rather ordinary. Other days are not so okay. You’re late, you forget your mother’s birthday or argue with your spouse then make up (or out – depending on how serious the argument was). The particulars may change from day to day, but like most human genomes, you approach those particulars the same way every time.
Now imagine, if you will, an entirely different land: one much like the other, but different. It’s called the land of the Kick Ass Day. In this place you engage with your life, and whatever happens in it, with curiosity. You approach life with wonder and awe, keeping your eyes open for new details or different lenses through which to view it. You become a detective in your own life – with a widened perspective that sees old situations with fresh eyes and acute inquisitiveness.
And then seeing your life from this novel vantage point, you allow the messiness of your creative mind to seep through and shine “in a good way”. Curiosity lends to experimentation, the ultimate playground of creativity. You try out a new way of being or interacting with your life, not because you want fix things, but because you are truly curious about seeing what happens. Will it work? Will it not? I don’t know, but let’s see!
Curious & Creative Parenting
Here’s an example. My kids arguing drives me crazy. Usually, I end up telling them off or making idle threats about early bedtimes or sanctioning their technology. But then I started to get curious.
What is it that makes them argue? How do they argue? I wonder, what is each one thinking and feeling as they are arguing? What does their arguing-style say about each of their personalities? When do they tend to argue? When they’re tired? When they’re hungry? When they’re breathing? What is the benefit of arguing? Is it safe practice for real-world skills – to argue with a sibling rather than a friend or a teacher?
Then I got curious about my role in their arguing.
Do I intervene? At what point? What happens if I wait a bit longer before I intervene? What happens if I don’t get involved at all? How do they react? What if I react to their fighting in a completely different way – how does that affect them? How does it change their arguing?
Even if I never figured out the answers to those questions, do you know what I did do? I stopped the cycle of knee-jerk reacting. Instead of reacting to their fighting, only to result in pleads to each’s defense, ensuing in me telling them off some more and everybody being ticked off…
I took a step back. I diffused my emotion. I chose my reaction. And then I got creative. If the fighting doesn’t stop on its own, I get serious. Ten minutes on the couch for each of them watching… the Legislature Channel. A bunch of politicians, arguing over their agenda like overgrown children. Boring suits, using big words, acting like imbeciles. If they keep arguing, that’s what they’ll grow up to be – at least that’s what I want them to think.
My brother-in-law has an even more creative solution to sibling rivalry. It’s called The Love Shirt. One of his old t-shirts with a giant heart painted on it, that both kids must wear in tandem while they hold hands and recite love declarations to each other (they’re 7 and 10). The shirt does not come off until they’ve done it.
Do any of these children stop arguing from then-on-in? Of course not! But it disrupts the cycle and lightens the mood. And it’s funny – there’s something to be said for that. We get to walk away from the situation feeling pretty good about how we handled it, because we didn’t do the same old thing: the shouting-empty threat-crying cycle. It makes you feel like a creative parent.
Curious mindsets open the door to creative solutions.
Curious & Creative Relationships
What happens if you DON’T argue about “that thing” you always argue about? What happens if you do something completely unexpected, like admit to being wrong, or bringing home flowers, or picking up your underwear off the floor?
What if you acted curiously and creatively even without an impasse? What if you joined your spouse watching football on TV or made her breakfast in bed? What if… the possibilities were endless when we get curious and creative?
Curious & Creative Life
Imagine you approached everything in life with curiosity and creativity? How could you make house cleaning more fun? Relationships more interesting? Your drive to work more inspiring?
I’m not saying that you can solve every dilemma this way. But I am saying this:
You can certainly make most things in your life better by changing the stance you take when you deal with them.
It’s certainly an experiment worth trying. Remember: the ADHD brain is built on curiosity, expressed through creativity, and is driven towards fun and novelty. You have the power to put yourself into that mindset – any time you choose.
Life can never be perfect, but it can be better.
Indulging your creativity and curiosity will go a lot further towards giving you a Kick Ass Day then doing the same old thing will.
I start today with a deep, but not-so-heavy, sigh.
I am about to present to you the idea of non-doing, the second transformation step in this series of four (check out the first one here).
However, I’m perplexed. I have no idea how to present this topic. I really want to write a post so fascinating, that you feel compelled to read this post over and over again. My biggest problem: I’m not sure I can do it justice and explain it fully, without making it confusing.
So the only way I can express it appropriately is to “practice what I preach”, so to speak.
As I write this post, I am practicing non-doing.
How can that be?
In Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn tells us:
“But non-doing doesn’t have to be threatening to people who feel they always have to get things done. They might find they get even more “done”, and done better, by practicing non-doing. Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way.”
We often think of non-doing as synonymous with meditating and doing nothing. But that is not the case. Certainly, the practice of sitting down and doing nothing can help us become more attuned to the present moment, to experience the richness and fullness of life as it unfolds in the here-and-now. However, that same presence and awareness of “now” can be achieved, just as easily, as we go about our day, doing whatever it is we do.
What does this mean?
It means that we can be present and allow our lives to unfold, to do the activities of the moment in a non-clinging way, without being attached to any particular outcome. We can appreciate the beauty of simply being, the wonder of what it means to be alive and wash the dishes or drive to work or do nothing at all – without clinging to the need to get more things done, figure things out or change our state of being.
We can let things be exactly as they are, and (as Kabat-Zinn says) “drink in the beauty of being alive”.
When we get caught up in the need to get better at something, to do more, or change the situation we find ourselves in, we attach ourselves to a notion that things are not okay – that we are not okay. Moments become minutes, become hours, become days – time that slips away unnoticed, and essentially – un-lived. Un-lived because we were somewhere else in our minds, thinking we should be anywhere but where we were.
When we embrace the perfectness of each and every moment, the absolute wholeness of who and how we are in it, we find ourselves in flow with the natural rhythm of the force behind life itself. When we start from this place of non-attached acceptance, we are able to go ahead and do whatever it is that needs to be done, in an effortless way.
Kabat-Zinn describes this: “The inward stillness of the doer merges with the outward activity to such an extent that the action does itself. Effortless activity. Nothing is forced. There is no exertion of the will…”
We, as ADDers, all have ample experience in doing things mindlessly, of being in action with detached minds that don’t concentrate on the task at hand. We also have the experience of getting lost in our activities – of being ultra-busy in pursuit of getting more done, often trying to catch up on those things never seem to get done.
My curiosity about the topic of non-doing for ADDers is this:
What if we practiced “doing”, more often, with full presence and non-attachment to particular outcomes? We know what it is like to be mindless and not-present, and at the same time worried about results or if we are going to achieve something. We don’t know what it’s like to do things, being fully immersed in them and present, and not really caring how they turn out at all.
This is how I practiced what I preach throughout the writing of this post. I wrote this post word-by-word, without editing or changing it (apart from a spell-check). I was in the moment, writing – being present with the idea, the keyboard, and my fingers typing away. I wanted this to be a good post, one that you liked. But I detached from the desperation that it must be so. I let go of any desired outcome and instead… I wrote it and let it be okay as it was. In essence, I let the post write itself.
You may or may not have enjoyed it. But I enjoyed the experience letting it unfold. I cannot say that it would have been any better if I had put pressure on myself to write the best post of my writing career.
The ADHD mind’s biggest enemy is pressure. If you drop the pressure, what becomes possible in your life? If nothing else – an appreciation of the moment and a life lived more fully-present. In the spirit of curiosity, I encourage you to try “non-doing”, even if for only a moment or two over the next couple of days. Share your experience in the comments below.