Give and it will be given to you – the Paradox of Gratitude

Surprisingly a thankful heart benefits the thankful person the most. Although people will be smiling and happy when you express your gratitude towards them, you will be feeling this warm and comfy emotion of happiness, too. It is you who feels the joy and calmness resulting from a heart of gratitude.

I am always astonished of these paradoxes of life. Though I am giving, I don’t lose anything. Even more – I am winning. Winning friends, good relationships and a heart that is at peace.

Give, and it will be given to you.

Jesus [Luke 6, 38a | The Bible]

This principle can even be found in the bible. It seems to be one of these deep truths in life that it true for everyone regardless of age, culture and gender. The effect of expressing gratitude is deeply rooted within us. When we are truly thankful, it is us profiting the most from that state of heart.

As we are heading into the christmas season, it is a good moment to pause and reflect on what you are thankful for. Interestingly the effect of gratitude is only working, when thankfulness is expressed unconditionally. It’s when thanks is given freely, without expecting anything in return, that the true power of happiness and inner peace is released.

Having that in mind: Whom do you want to say “thank you”? Which people in your life – family, friends, colleagues, clients – need to hear that you are thankful for their support, help, work or just being there?

Get practical and write a WhatsApp or christmas card. You will be surprised how happy people will be hearing an honest ‘thank you’.

If you have thanked people in your life, reflect for what you are thankful for in your life. Say thanks to the universe, God or whoever you attribute your blessings to. Health, a home, your job and your family are only partially in your hands and when you see blessing in your life, it’s a good moment to be thankful.

Merry Christmas.

My life is f***ed

When bad luck is piling up, it is easy to get lost in despair. Losing sight of the blessings in your life, will leave you empty and defeated. Get inspired how to handle those moments.

Emptiness. Thoughts are running and yet there is no precise idea. Every inch of my body is hurting. I have fought. Argumented. Given my best. And yet: didn’t win. And then again, it doesn’t really feel like ‘not winning’ but rather losing. Losing 100%. While my mind is still spinning, this feeling of failure is creeping in. The emotional journey is hitting fast forward button and all of a sudden I am convinced that I am a failure. The failure in person.

From a lot of talks I know that this vicious cycle is quite common to many people. It is invisible. It starts slowly. It intensifies when energy level is low. And then it drags all emotions down and sucks up all energy, hope and vision of a person.

It can hit you in your educational journey, family life or business endeavour. It can hit you for a few minutes or follow you over weeks. It can affect your smile only for a day or your whole life for a season.

So, what can be done when sensing that emptiness or when you are in these moments of despair?

Very often the emptiness starts due to one or two moments that didn’t go well – e.g. an argument with someone or a hope didn’t materialize. Because a strong emotion is connected to these moments, our brain tends to focus on these occasions much longer than on others. This in turn leads to increase of the bad emotion and the start of the vicious cycle.

In order to escape this cycle – at any stage – you need some strategies. Here are some proven ones.

When certain parts of your life are in turmoil it is helpful to actively focus on other areas of your life. Your life doesn’t consist of that one educational path or that one relationship or the one deal you didn’t win – although your brain is telling you that this is THE ONLY PROBLEM.

Write

Take action and write down everything you can be thankful for. Especially in the area you feel defeated. Yes, the one relationship didn’t have an awesome moment – but what about all other relationships!? Yes, the one teacher gave you unfair feedback – but what about all other teachers!?

Start reminding yourself that you are more than your feeling of emptiness. You are more than failing in a moment.

While writing you will feel stress leaving and calmness settling in. Your brain is forced to think proper sentences and put your thoughts in order. That’s why journaling is such a great tool when your emotions are spinning.

Move & Create

Once you are calm, it’s time to check what you need in order to recharge. Most likely, movement should be involved, independent of how you are feeling. Maybe you meet some friends and just relax with them (but don’t start the vicious cycle again by complaining about your problem). Or you get some creativity started by writing, cooking, baking, drawing … creating something. Creating requires concentration and new thoughts – shifting your focus actively.

Think & Decide

Once you are recharged you can go back to the moment of despair and check if you need to change something in your life. Maybe you really need to change your path. Or maybe you just need to learn how to deal with the situations you are in because these moments won’t change even if you change your studies / relationship / job.

A pinch of energy

Use your finest memory to regain strength during the day and relax even under pressure. Get mentally strong to conquer your toughest days.

English chitchat mixes with french laughter while the chinese lady next to me is writing text messages in her beautiful font. I am in the middle of Germany and yet surrounded by the world. This is a moment I cherish – being just another art piece in this international patchwork. I am smiling when I think back at that moment – and instantly I am relaxing. Suddenly, life seems brighter and better.

Having these moments of relaxation during the day is important. It strengthens your resilience and energy level during the day. And it is that energy, that you need to be at your best. Being inwardly strong so you can cope with failure easier, smile at the client even under pressure and handle challenging tasks smoothly.

The technique that is used in the first paragraph is called “visualization” or sometimes referred to as “inner balcony”. You use this technique by recalling your favourite places, situations and people. While thinking of that very moment, your brain experiences the same emotions (or lets say: dopamine-rush) as you experienced when you were in that moment. Your brain doesn’t care whether it is actual happening or if you run through a memory – it will react. And you will get the relaxation, happiness and stress-detachment you need.

What is your favourite memory to indulge in?

A compliment a day keeps burnout away

They are doing an experiment: walking to people and tell them that they are beautiful. The result is captured on video and the faces are stunning. Everyone smiles. Shy. Proud. Happy.

Watching these clips even makes me smiling. Seeing happy people resonates within me and I get happy, too. Can you relate? When we smile during the day all of the sudden the tension of a moment is gone and life seems easier.

What if we could use this effect at work?

Last week I could see this effect on my colleagues, too. I actively looked at my colleagues’ reaction when I had the chance to speak support, hope and encouragement in their lives. They all smiled.

Getting in contact with someone who has good and honest intentions for us opens our hearts and gives us a moment of relaxation. Having those moments at work gives back energy and people can progress in their day more energized. All that is needed is you. This one person that is watching out where to spend the next honest compliment or the next story of hope.

Let’s do a challenge this week: Find one person a day that smiles because of you.

The cycle of success

Add more components of what you love doing in your workday and your job will become easier. With you feeling lighter and more joyful, your clients and colleagues will be touched, too. This is how you start a positive cycle of success…

“For my job I like getting up in the morning”, my friend smiles. Four years ago he quit his studies. Low motivation and missing focus led to bad grades and slowly to the conviction that he was on the wrong path. Still, giving up on a lifestyle that is socially accepted and getting on a perceived lower track isn’t easy on the ego. Today he is happy with his daily tasks. Consequently, his joy and power transfers on his clients and colleagues, leading to success in business which nourishes the positive feelings towards the job. “When you love what you do, success is inevitable”, he says with a broad smile.

When you love what you do, success is inevitable

Experience

Is your cycle of “I love my job and my job loves me” working?

What is happening for you when reading this question? Do you even believe that there is a job constellation for you in which you would actually love working? Or are your already there?

Independent from which angle you are looking at the cycle-question let me give you a few questions to reflect on. Take some time to think about each one and take notes of what is running through your mind. These moments of reflection are healthy to become aware of your status quo. Sometimes life rushes by and without noticing a year passed and you didn’t live intentionally and with purpose. But it is in your hands to add components of what you truly love to your workday and thereby keeping the cycle of success spinning.

What did you like doing when you were a child? – Reflect and write down what comes to your mind. This questions assumes that you have been doing things as a child that felt natural and joyful to you. Maybe you won’t do exactly the same things today – but you might find tasks that use the same skill that you have trained as a kid.

With what kind of people do you like spending your time? – The answer to this question might also be: no people at all. That’s totally fine, too. The important thing is that you know what you like and find as many moments in your day that reflect your preference.

How do you recharge? – The idea of this question is simple: if you recharge while doing the work you get paid for, you will not leave your workplace exhausted but rather thrilled and excited. If you could add a few components of the aspects of how you recharge, you will have more power during the day and feel much happier at work.

How do you express thankfulness and love? – Usually human beings get happy when they can show their thankfulness to others. Therefore it is an easy exercise to increase your happiness during the day. You choose whether you need to give a gift, speak words of affirmation or clap someone on the shoulder. If you know yourself, you can activate these resources in you anytime.

Start your cycle of success

No matter how well your cycle of success is already working, you can keep it up and running by investing in yourself. Your personal well-being during the day and your mindset towards workplace situations are keys to your personal success. Start by integrating short components of your favourite situations and expand the timeframe to your energizing moments whenever possible. Soon you will see how your positivity and power will affect your colleagues and clients positively.

3… 2… 1… Reboot.

Every device needs to reboot every once in a while in order to install all updates and run smoothly afterwards. Same is true for human beings. Whatever your days are filled with – there need to be times when the routine stops and your body, soul and mind can reboot.

But how does an update for you look like?

Body – Often a change of location will support detaching from the daily hustle. Bringing your body physically to a different place will automatically give you new things to see, different smells to encounter and new sounds to hear. Whether that is the noise of a vibrant city, the calmness of the mountains or the fresh air in a park nearby – your senses will work with something new. Same is true for sporting activities – especially those where you have to learn something new. Get yourself out there!

Soul – Let’s call it “emotions” for simplification. Take some time and check on your emotions. What are you feeling when you are in your daily routine? Do you like what you are feeling? Do you want to continue to feel that way? Take some time to think about these questions and become honest with yourself. Even if you don’t like the “emotion-stuff” – as a human being it is part of who you are. Emotions are an indicator whether you are in a healthy state and whether you need change.

Mind – Everyone knows the moments when thoughts are just running through your mind and you can hardly find peace. The open to dos on the list, that upcoming meeting and the next deal ahead – they all require attention. Your mind is constantly powering. During a reboot find yourself some time to stop that rollercoaster in your head.

Here is an inspiration on how to do that: Start by writing down the most important things that you don’t want to forget. That helps you to get at ease to relax. Those things will not be forgotten – they are safe on a piece of paper. Then start in a meditation session. There are tons of apps out there to help you.

At first it might feel weird to actively go into reboot – especially for soul and mind. But by training relaxation and meditation you will soon feel how much pressure is lifting off – and how much more effective you will be when returning into your daily life.

How to effectively recharge

Give your body, soul and mind a break from the daily hustle in order to get new power and creative ideas for your life. Find in this article some inspiration on how to effectively recharge.

The warmth of the heated towel is wrapping me softly and I gently sink into the relaxation chair. I slowly breathe out. My eyes wander to the snow-covered mountains behind the glass front. The sun is just touching the tip of the granite giant before it settles for the night. My recharge weekend starts.

When was the last time you took time for yourself? Time solely dedicated for rewinding your body, soul and mind. Time unplugged from your daily rush and from your online presence lets your mind and soul settle. Overflow of information can be processed and while doing “nothing” your brain gets the chance to recharge for new creativity.

Let’s dive into some thoughts what could help you to relax.

Change places

As long as you are in your usual environment your brain works on autopilot and you don’t discover new things. You even stay on track what to eat or what to do at what time. When you change your place, your brain is forced to find new ways. You are in explore-mode. And automatically you will “forget” to think about your problems and stress factors.

Work out

Use your time off to move your body. Especially when you are in a job that rather requires thinking than moving, use your time well for some activity. Doing your favourite sport helps your brain relax. Or you find yourself a new activity that challenges you mentally in a different way as you learn new movements.

Let go

If you come from a time of great stress, take some time for your soul to calm down as well, e.g. by journaling or meditation. You probably know that spinning of your mind that continues although you are in the middle of paradise. In that case your soul and mind need some help.

Suggestion No. 1 if your mind is stuck on open to-dos: Take a piece of paper and write down all to-dos that are still bothering you and that you will solve after your return. Put that piece of paper away and tell your brain to relax. It has been taken care of; now it is a decision to lean back.

Suggestion No. 2 if you have trouble with people: Take a piece of paper and start to write a letter – to that person, to a friend, to the universe or to God. Whatever suits you. Write down all complaints, unfairness and bad situations. Let your soul be honest and write as graphic as necessary. Maybe you have to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Write everything down. For sure that letter will never be sent. Nevertheless, just by writing you will feel on how the pressure lifts. (Destroy the letter after finishing.)

Mindfully Relax

Allow yourself some hours – or days – of relaxation. Forbit yourself to work or think about problems. Just be. Look at a sunset, a mountain, the ocean … whatever relaxes you. Give your soul and mind time to unwind. Maybe do a mindfulness exercise by precisely answering the following questions: What objects do you see? What colours do you see? What sounds do you hear? How does the air taste? How would you describe the smell around you? Answering those questions draws your attention to the present. And in the present your body, soul and mind are in the same space. Your thoughts do not wander and you will feel alive.

The goal is to fully get into the present. Let go of the past for a while and don’t think about the future. Just stay in the present. It is the place where you fully recharge and get new power for the upcoming tasks. It calms your brain and by erasing all negative thoughts and stress, you are set into a state of new creativity. In one of the next articles I will share some ideas on how to use that state of mind and the creativity within to create a new vision for the time ahead. But for now: stay present and relax.