How to Use Tension in a Productive Way

Photo by Monica Leonardi

We tend to want to eliminate completely built-up stress, either through activities that clear our mind, such as meditation or exercise, or through activities that give us pleasure at the expense of our long-term wellbeing – drinking, stress eating etc. Focusing on tension release without accounting for the long-term impact of how we do it creates a bigger negative impact in the long run than the immediate positive effect.

Experiencing tension is a good opportunity to pause and understanding what led us to this moment. Is it frustration with our own decisions or some things that are outside of our control. Once we understand the root cause, we can empower ourselves to change the way we react to situations. Reactions are natural, but they are also specific to each individual. We react based on what we perceive as normal. A broader example is how some cultures celebrate death, while others celebrate the birth of a child. Our values are specific to us.

Tension is our body and brain reacting to events throughout the day and storing a sense of alertness that cannot be maintained for a long period of time. Managing tension is a life skill that allows us to clear out the clouds and see the sky clearly. Under a clear sky we are more likely to stick to our path than in semi-darkness. Also, seeing more friends than threats in people will attract more kindness.

Anyone Can Mold Us if We Allow Them to

Thanks to Sharon McCutcheon

Regardless if we have children and young adults in our lives, molding people doesn’t stop with age. Walking into our first workplace, we all had to make adjustments. Maybe you were told that we laugh too laud, dress informal, speak too formal, or that your green hair doesn’t match the neutral tones of the office furniture and of the people that came with it. Or maybe you were made to feel aware of all these things.

There are situations in which people want to sculpt our identity and take away our confidence, pride, humor or just that little something that is so personal to us that it would mean taking away a big part of who we are. And they have the power of doing so, if we allow them.

How can we prevent identity loss? It takes introspection or self-reflection. The genuine nature of who we are will allow us to form honest relationships. That’s the part of who we are that we must preserve. We might be part of a group of people for a specific amount of time, but if we easily change who we are that will take away our ability to resonate with other people. Who will you resonate with if you are less of yourself and more of what others want you to be?

Daily Practices to Save Your Groundhog Day

Photo by Samuel Toh

Do you get a sense that you are waking up and living every day as if it’s the same? Wash your face, prepare breakfast or a protein shake, do mindless activities that might include work, watching tv, scrolling through news feeds, get groggy in the morning and grumpy in the evening etc. Well, a day is only as good as you make it.

Making Yourself Happy

Waking up with a smile on your face is not an old wives (or husbands) tale. It takes as little as practicing gratitude before going to sleep – the last thought in the evening will be your first thought in the morning. Add a 10-15 minutes meditation practice and you’ll be able to make smarter decisions by removing some of the stress buildup.

Meditation – where do I begin?

You don’t have to go fancy with learning how to meditate. If you’re new to the practice, an app as simple as Oak can get you a long way. Ultimately is about the intention of doing better choices and building yourself up for success. A happy is a life built through discipline, trials and errors and an ongoing competition with ourselves. You can get the life you want without waiting on that lottery win. Build yourself up.

Wake Up with Intention and Take Control of the Day

Photo by Ioana Tabarcea

Are you a snoozer or a napper? Do you dread morning? It won’t come as a surprise to you that these habits are false friends that entice you with a fun activity only to later realize that it derailed you from your goals. And even more, all these sentiments, conditions and limitations that we put on ourselves are sabotaging the great work we have achieved in the day before. How?

Action requires commitment, discipline, passion and motivation. By indulging in habits that are destructive we break the chain of uplifting qualities that we’ve built the day before, having to redo it all. Neutral attitudes, such as leaving the bed with the first alarm, making yourself a cup of warm water, stretching, reading, exercising, without necessarily being over the moon, allow you to make things happen.

While waking up with a smile might not come naturally for a while, stick to routines you can build by using your environment. Build strong processes and your emotions will follow.

Focus Means Saying No to Cool Ideas

Photo by Toa Heftiba

It was more than once that I was called an idiot which at a very young age was described to me as ‘a person with ideas’. It didn’t take long to understand that ideas are worth something, so I would explore every corner of my creativity trying to impress my audience. Only later to understand that ideas that are not implemented are mere entertainment.

Focus and creativity can make a great pair, but creativity needs discipline. To complete any piece of work we need focus. We need to take out our notebook and write down our ideas. Picture a child chasing a butterfly until a more flashy, beautifully painted one comes along. Chances are that the first butterfly that was chased is at a considerable distance by the time the child realizes the distraction.

Eliminating distractions can be painful in the beginning, which is why seeing our life through the eyes of our future-self numbs the pain and allows us to accumulate uplifting decisions and actions that will bring change and rewards. Become now who you want to be tomorrow.

Waiting for the Right Time

Photo by Tom Morel

Will there ever be a right time to start working on your garden? Start on a new project or learning a new language? Similarly to the dresses and suits we keep on hangers for that ‘special moment’ that never comes, we put our dreams and big ideas on hold.

Even if the circumstances we find ourselves in might not allow us to give twelve hours a day towards building our dream, start slow. One hour invested consistently can help us build the fundamental skills that we need to be able to claim more of our time and invest it into what we truly desire. Dream big and start small.