A Cushion Called Excuse

stockvault-labrador-dog-lying-on-pillows130868I would like to start this post with a question to you, my dear reader.

And better think it through before you answer.

Which word is used as commonly as it is used out of context?

It is not “thank you” nor “I’m sorry”, though I get why you may think so 🙂

Nevertheless, the answer that I am going for is “I hope.”

“I hope I pass the exam”

“I hope we can resolve our issues”

“I hope she will see me in a different light”

Now, do you really mean that? Do you really believe in a positive outcome of the situation, as theoretically being hopeful for something indicates? ‘Cause I don’t. Whenever I say “I hope” it is followed by “but” and a whole litany of counterarguments. Like: “I hope I will get better with my writing, but it is hard to put your thoughts on paper, to present your ideas in a clear and comprehensive way, and to be able to remain interesting for your readers at all times.”

All of that is true; true but unnecessary. I should have stopped on the first part, leaving all buts aside. Why do I let constrain myself with fear and negativity? Why do I allow empty hope followed by excuses to undermine my life decisions? If I want to write better I will because I consciously chose to. As simple as that!

Of course I will have to work hard on it, because nothing comes easy in this life: every skill needs to be polished and taken care of, but the first big step has already been taken. I allowed hope, this warm comforting feeling that prevents us from resigning from our goals, to work its miracles: to motivate me, to make me feel good about myself.

Hope for better is not only a vague concept, you can actually physically feel it swarming through your body, energizing it as if to warm it up for future battle with obstacles. Hope is as tangible as fear which is a usual culprit to blame for a crime of negative thinking. Yes, a CRIME! A crime of striping yourself of every chance to succeed even before you start.

Feeling truly hopeful relaxes our body and contributes to our lower level of stress, whereas fear tenses our muscles as if we were being on a constant watch for a punch to hit us. Hence, we often tend to describe fear as a knot in a stomach. It happens because we expect the worst, and our body adapts mentally and physically for something unpleasant to happen, and what is more unpleasant than being punched in a stomach.

We tend to create many possible negative outcomes to every goal we strive to achieve. Why? Because it prevents us from feeling utterly devastated in case we fail. “I saw it coming anyway,” we usually conclude with a resigned nod.

This attitude unfortunately goes further. Even if we succeed, we are no longer able to be happy about it, but we diminish our achievement to protect ourselves from being hurt in the further future or not to look stupid before people we ranted during the whole process of achieving the goal.

We and many people around us use the same tactics to protect our fragile ego so prone to the opinion of others as much as to self-evaluation which very often is so much harsher than it should.

We surround ourselves with the whole bunch of cushions of “buts” for our fall to seem less hurtful. But those cushions as much as they absorb the shock of a potential failure, they do the same to success; they contaminate our true feeling of victory as well as they keep us negative throughout the whole journey that leads us to our chosen goal.

My mother once told me that a person does not fail; they just take a step back and begin one more time choosing other path which may happen to be even more exciting and eventful than we expected. Thinking in these terms makes us see the world totally differently; it allows us to see it as a never-ending adventure full of challenges rather than a gloomy jungle full of traps and horrific monsters ready to eat us alive.

So, here and now, I would like to make a statement.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby announce that from this day on I get rid of all my safety cushions of “buts”, “howevers” and “I- told-you-I-can’t-do-this”.

I pledge to live up to my goals enjoying not only the happy ending but also the journey leading to it.

And I invite you to do the same. Maybe you have already done so or you are thinking about it. I would really love to hear all about your experience with your cushions 🙂

“Yes, we can!” How to Allow Motivation to Change us for Better

stockvault-smiling-daisy-air-balloon133312Is it possible to change the world, and to make a visible difference? Or is it just a fleeting dream of visionaries and a quality of a superhero?

The answer is both yes and no, depending on the approach you take. If you consider the world and its overwhelming size, you can get frustrated. Naturally, you are not able to change something that is magnificently huge.  But what if you consider yourself as a part of a whole – a whole that can be broken down into little pieces? A friend of mine once told me that a way to manage an unmanageable task is to divide it into many manageable pieces, which put together are powerful enough to make a difference.

So how can you as an individual change the world? Setting an example or initiating something meaningful can be a good start. Although, big endeavor can be overwhelming at first, you should remember that nothing is as hard as it seems. Try shifting your perception: start small, aim big. Focus on one step at the time, and allow a small change to grow bigger with the natural course of time.

“Be the change…”

It is impossible to change the world immediately and single-handedly, but we can be a part of it starting with our own contribution. Ghandi says that it is you that should be the change you want to see in the world.

In Poland, where I come from, many people are engaged in a campaign of collecting plastic bottle tops. Instead of throwing them away, they put them into special containers which when full are transported to sell-out points, and sold as plastic waste. The money is used to purchase supplies for people in need.

When I was working in Spain in a primary school I felt uncomfortable having to throw the whole bottle away, so I checked if there is anything similar done there. It occurred that the nearby university is also engaged in the same campaign, but due to poor advertisement not many people knew about it. I decided to spread the idea in my school, so I talked to one of the teachers, who started the bottle campaign in her class. Soon, the whole school was engaged in the project, and it took one more month to engage other primary schools.

Cast the first stone

Mother Teresa once said that she alone cannot change the world, but she can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. You do not have to start with something big, let it become big with time and participation of others.

In the time of economic downturn it is small business that is fundamental for recovery and further development of the world’s market. Entrepreneurs strengthen local economies: they respond immediately and accurately to demand, they even invent jobs that have not previously existed.

According to the research done by economists from the University of California small businesses create more job than larger ones. They also saturate the local market with customer-tailored services and products on which there is huge demand. Making a difference on the local level, small business influences the world’s economy being the very first stone that contributes to the creation of many ripples.

Step by step, little by little …

As adapting to specific conditions enables small business to be vital for the whole economy, as should we, accordingly, adapt ourselves to the world around us. Start with adding little routines that will not change your whole life fundamentally, but with time will contribute to shape your better self. A good e-book on your iPod on your way to work will serve you better than listening to maybe soothing, but in the long run meaningless music.

Stressed about not meeting deadlines? Next time prepare a timetable with all the small steps you need to accomplish in order to perform a big task. Such small changes are important, because they shift our perception of the world: we start to be hungry for more, seeking deeper fulfillment, and abandoning our comfort zones.

However, as good and motivating as it all sounds, we also have to remember that change cannot be measured, and something that is a milestone for you, can be a pebble for somebody else. Nevertheless, remember that positive influence can have an impact on more people that you can imagine. You never know the outcome unless you tried. So, I say: cast the stone, and wait for the ripples!