This is the time of the year when the constant flow of emails, messages, and notifications is slowing down and stopping. That time when people stop working and start focusing on others. The feeling of generosity and love is taking over, and we are able to be present. There is room for reflection and change. This is the perfect time to re-calibrate your life.
I am writing this blog on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning. There’s no wind, the water in the bay has frozen, and there are wonderful ice artefacts shaped by nature in our pergola windows. I’m with my wife Sari, and our Labrador Jade, and we are listening to the Mary J. Blige Christmas album. It’s all so beautiful, but how often do I note this kind of beauty during a normal day?
You can’t control everything
This year has been challenging in many ways. Aki, our founder, was diagnosed with cancer last year, and only couple of weeks ago he passed away after a long and courageous battle. This reminded me about my mother’s fight against cancer 40 years ago. She also lost the battle, but she got 5 years more than the doctors predicted. I also remember many friends and family members, who have battled against cancer and other serious illnesses. The reality is that we are not able to control everything, but there is a lot we can control if we choose to do so.
Our lives are very busy nowadays. Constant news from the worldwide economic and political insecurity to jobs being replaced by robots raise worries in our mind. It is difficult to keep in control and stay positive. Yet it is crucial because the human brain works best when it is in a state of hope.
Assess your wellbeing
Considering core motivation
For some reason, it is difficult for us to stop, reflect and change proactively. It seems that we need to experience serious difficulty in our life before we truly stop, and reflect where we are heading and whether that is what we really want and need. When Aki got the news about the cancer, he became very conscious about his core (his identity, purpose, and control).
Aki was always very creative and curious, and he took his doctor’s oath very seriously, i.e. whenever someone needed help, he was there. This meant that he sometimes even forgot his own wellbeing, as he was sharing his attention and energy with everyone else. But in July 2015, things crystalised in his mind, and two things became of paramount importance: his family, and his mission of “Better Life for everyone” – in this order. After July 2015 Aki really lived accordingly to this. Furthermore, he focused more on himself and his wellbeing.
Three areas of focus
Fundamentally it seems that we have three areas in our life we need to focus on:
1. Focus on yourself, but not in an egoistic and selfish way
Self-awareness and self-management should be the foundation of our life. Clarity of self and positive self-esteem will lead us to the right path and will generate intrinsic motivation and perseverance to keep us on that path. Self-management is the skill of translating our positive vision of our life to real actions and impact.
2. Focus on your family and friends
Focus on those people, who give you unconditional love, who encourage you, who challenge you, and help you to learn in a constructive and balanced way – and vice versa. These are your core people and are part of your solid foundation. They will stay with you whatever happens. You need these people, and they need you. Remind yourself who they are, and invest in those relationships.
3. Find your purpose
Everyone should have a purpose. There is an inbuilt urge in everyone to have a life which is meaningful, not only to ourselves but also to others. Studies by “the father” of positive psychology Professor Martin Seligman, found that doing acts of kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in wellbeing of any exercise they tested. Your purpose needs to be aligned with who you are, your experience and personality. It should not be something forced, but something you have been dreaming of and what your life so far has been leading up to. It is something that you are capable of doing, but it will require courage to take those steps. There is a level of uncertainty and risk involved. It will not be an easy ride, but it will be rewarding.
The holiday season is approaching. Mary J. Blige is on in the background and singing about hope and joy. These do belong to everyone. It is possible to be content and happy, to enjoy life, and to have an impact in this world!
This is the perfect time to re-calibrate your life!