Small Pleasures by The School of Life (Part 2)

Sunday Mornings. It is a quiet morning and you do not have much to accomplish or do. Sundays are the days for us to explore ourselves and to rediscover ourselves. In the past, Sundays were set aside for religion. However, your time on Sundays are special and should be protected. It can be frustrating if your day is filled up with distractions. One has the opportunity to re-engage with the wider horizons of one’s life. We can focus on the silent and the eternal. This is a place of tenderness and beauty. Sunday mornings are our distinct, unusual time which should be guarded at all cost.

You’re briefing liberated from the pressure of watching the clock; you don’t need to keep up. No one will be expecting anything of you until tomorrow morning. – The School of Life

A Beloved’s Wrist. The skin on the inside of the forearm is smooth and delicate. Looking at your beloved’s wrist can renew tender feelings. It can lead to remember why you first fell in love with them. You can trace to their hand actions and remember things from their past which triggered them to perform as such.

A Favorite Old Jumper. It’s one that you hardly wear. There is a hole in it now. However, you know that it has been through a lot with you. It was lovely to wear it. People will come to love us precisely for the small things.

With the jumper we rehearse something key. It is a transitional object that helps us along the path not from childhood to adulthood but towards old age. – The School of Life

Holding Hands with a Small Child. We try to be encouraging and sweet to the little ones we once were. You are fascinated by how charming the kid can be. You become fascinated with the world, just like the kid.

And for a brief pointed time one is astonished by the utter strangeness of the course of human experience which gradually takes everyone from childhood to death. – The School of Life

Old Stone Walls. You do not know the exact date the walls were built, but centuries of harsh weather has affected the stone. It has been around for ages. Time usually brings things to ruin. Thins can be get better as they age. The old wall looks better as it ages. The idea of a wall is something we welcome with a feeling of joy.

The old is a good image of ageing and endurance: it’s not getting worse; strangely, it’s nicer because it is older, counteracting our fears that to be old is to be worn out, unlovable, useless and ignored. – The School of Life

Realising You Both Dislike the Same Popular Person. Somehow, you have learned to be cautious and avoid certain types of people. Sometimes, you don’t like those who keep accommodating and prefer those who speaks their mind. Shared antipathy can bond people together. You feel bonded over the hatred for someone.

It’s lovely not having to explain or defend one’s feelings in a hostile environment. It’s a relief not having to politely nod in supposed agreement just to keep the peace. – The School of Life

Feeling at Home in the Sea. It might require some courage to dip yourself in the ocean, but you gradually realize that it isn’t too difficult. You will bob up and down. You use a mask and snorkel, which enables you to breathe. Now, you can be yourself underground. Shapes and things look bizarre underwater. You are now thrilled by the adventurous part of you.

And when you emerge, dripping and pleasantly tired, and make your way to the warm beach, you bring that part of yourself with you back from the sea, where it had been living in exile, waiting for you. – The School of Life

“Bad” Magazines. You would probably not want to buy such magazines. You wouldn’t want to be seen outside reading it too. It can be oddly pleasing. We are encountering different ways of being. By reading these magazines, we can get more in touch with our other selves. We also become less dismissive of others after reading about them. It is a small pleasure.

The lives we actually lead are tiny slivers of what is imaginatively possible. A slight shift in the past could have led to a very different kind of existence. There are lots of ways we could conceivably have turned out. – The School of Life

The Song You Want to Listen to Again and Again. The song has grown on you. You might have heard it before but have forgotten about it. But now, you want to listen to it all the time and can’t get enough of it. But we can’t explain why we love the song so much. Our brains take cues from sounds. ‘Ave Maria’ enfold us in tenderness. Music has the power to move us and influence us. Hey Jude lyrics – Don’t be Afraid is very powerful indeed. Some songs encourage us to recognize the vulnerability in others. Mozart’s music can be gracious and sad.

A Book That Understands You. A book gets you. The author never knew you but it seems like he did for a long time. Everything is on target. You might feel lonely even though you are surrounded by people and loved ones. Such a good book will tackle problems which you normally ignore. The book can actually validate your sufferings, telling you that it is okay to be who you are.

Our weirder sorrows – or enjoyments – are recast as valid parts of human experience, which can be met with sympathy and kindness. – The School of Life

Crying Cathartically Over the Death of a Fictional Character. Why do we mourn their deaths? Lovely things might seem weak. Things can be transient. We feel sorry when we disagree with them. We often do not express our love fully when the person is still around. We are angry at the idiotic randomness of death. No one deserves to die. When it comes to death, death reorganizes our priorities.

We may only realise the full extent of our love for people too late. We are being agonisingly alerted not just to a possible loss, but to a failure of our own. – The School of Life

Pleasant Exhaustion After a Productive Day. It is 9:45pm and you are happy with your work progress made. Your body is aching slightly but you feel good. You make a nice cup of tea. Your brain has done its work. You thought that it couldn’t be done initially, but you accomplished it nonetheless. You feel confident about solving your own problems in your outside life, come what may. We feel honourable tiredness. It is pleasant tiredness and feel like sleep is our reward.

The pleasure we feel after a good but hard day’s work is linked to a positive experience of willpower. It was tempting to break off; you could have put it off until tomorrow, but you didn’t. You stuck with the big thing. – The School of Life

It’s also to do with a sense of mastery: in anticipation we slightly feared the task. But we got on top of this tricky thing and we tamed it. – The School of Life

We’re capable of rousing ourselves, of focus and of sustained effort. We can stick with something difficult and keep going through the temptations to break off and seek distraction. We’ve been just a little bit heroic and we know it and it feels nice. – The School of Life

Old Photos of One’s Parents. You spot a young photo of your mum, when we was about 8. What was it like to be alive back then? You also spot a photo of your dad when he was much younger. By from these photos, we realize that we hardly know them when they were younger. We know that our parents are trying our best. Our parent’s life wasn’t mainly about us.

Whispering in Bed in the Dark. You are talking to your partner in the dark. Whispering feels sexy. Deep privacy can be very liberating. Whispering in the dark is important. We need the assistance of cues. You can be tender without much fear. You are joining forces with your childhood self.

And this what gives whispering in the dark its special place in our lives. We have all the liberating benefits of being alone – but we are also with another person. – The School of Life

Cypress Trees. You have a soft spot for them, just that you didn’t know. They feel both shy and aloof. They feel private. The tree is a sermon of endurance and can live for ages on end. It will be around long after you are gone. The trees can grow well in places that are not hospitable. It is an image of resilience.

A tree is stuck in the single place where it was planted or where the seed happened to fall into a little crevice. Naturally, we’re attracted to the idea of being able to alter our condition, but sometimes we just have to put up with difficulties. Our bigger commitments tie us to a situation. – The School of Life

News of a Scientific Discovery. It can be charming. All science is interesting. However, scientific discoveries are linked with progress. Nature is a dark mystery but we like to investigate it. We can work together towards these discoveries. It is not by pure luck. Thorough research went into the research. This is the collective power of humanity. A lot of areas have been researched on and understood. Hopefully, these discoveries will be translated into textbooks and synthesized for the young.

Feeling Someone Else is Wrong. Sometimes, we know deep down that someone else is wrong. We feel good because we are absolutely right and they are absolutely wrong. We get an appreciation of our own intelligence. For most of the time, we don’t know for certain whether we are right. It is satisfying to us. You can cope with your terrors and can hold your own in conversations etc. We feel a sense of cognitive progress.

The Teasing of Old Friends. You don’t mind being teased by friends and are okay with it. A lesson is delivered in an interesting form. We do not see it as a form of criticism. However, if knowledge is wrapped in a wrong way, we may reject learning it. You know your friends are not malicious but only want you to learn. We despair knowledge and love – being united. However, when it comes to friends, it is possible to find the sweet spot. You can also tease them back and you know that they won’t mind at all.

Getting Over a Row. You got angry because you wanted to make a point which they couldn’t see. You don’t want to apologise. As we cool down, we might experience small pleasures. At work, you do not dare to be angry because you fear to be so. It also feels good to have cleared the air. You can look at them in a more measured way. At least, you both tackled the troublesome issue. Forgiveness is also important. Sometimes, we can just make do with small problems.

A relationship has to include the madder, more unreasonable parts of ourselves. If I can be overtly angry with you, it’s because you have made me feel safe enough to be so. – The School of Life

Conflict is a pretty much unavoidable part of living closely with another person and being involved in big, complicated mutual undertakings. But we’re all right now and that’s nice – until the next time. – The School of Life

Planning the Ideal Routine. It is nice to write out a plan for your week ahead. Having a schedule means that we should be using our time wisely. We should assign the tasks to distinct slots. You can also include tasks like napping and thinking. Make time for thinking about your past etc. For chores, plan them at one go in a week, followed by a small reward after the chores. A routine can keep you on track and on the ball. You always wanted to be more organized, productive and a routine will help you get there.

You won’t have to decide to do them and summon a special burst of willpower: after the first dozen times they start to become semi-automatic. The day begins to flow. You’re not always prodding and badgering yourself to get on with what you should be doing. – The School of Life

Finally Gaining the Respect of a Previously Suspicious Colleague. Now, your colleague smiles at you. They are happy to see you around. They have sweet sides for you too. They wanted to see if you could prove yourself. Prove yourself you did. It is normal for people not to warm up to you from the start. But that’s okay.

This person’s goodwill is worth having because they don’t give it away automatically. They have warmed to you because you have proved yourself. Their approval is a measure of your own development. – The School of Life

‘Getting’ A Great Work of Art for Yourself. We are worried that we will seem ignorant. Why should one even care about art? Sometimes, you might find works that speak to you. Mood is a crucial ingredient in the experience. In the right mood, things look great. Understanding a piece is a very personal thing. The works exists for you.

That’s why getting one work of art opens a door to the enjoyment of many others. Because you’ve discovered in yourself the key to engagement. – The School of Life

Midnight Walks. You need to get away from something. You glow in the night. The street lamps seem fascinating. You try to touch the moon. Midnight walks help the brain to think. In reality, there could be many things bugging you. Select one to think about when you are walking. Avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly. You don’t really know what is going on in another person’s mind. Our complaints are endless but a stroll in the night will lead you to forget that. Our life’s problems are legitimate and normal. We are mapping some emotional terrain. Learn to define the need. Why am I really stuck with an annoying partner? Sometimes, you must understand that not everything is in your control. Life is short and yet humans want to feel important.

But at midnight, away from others, we can briefly get enough distance to recall the strangeness of being human. We are deeply peculiar organisms; we are mysteries to one another and to ourselves; we don’t really know why we ourselves do what we do half the time. – The School of Life

In the night it’s a little easier to keep in mind that the human condition is sombre; we are frail creatures inhabiting the outer crust of a minuscule lump of rock orbiting a very average star. – The School of Life

But at other points it is sweet to feel that maybe our actions don’t matter – they will be lost in the greater tides of human existence, and all our follies and errors will melt away very soon, as if they had never been. – The School of Life

Flirtation. You often have to speak to someone else from another company over the phone. He seems to be flirting with you. It’s a flirtatious moment. You might flirt with an old friend at a party. Flirting is a mating ritual. However, it might not be erotic in nature but more aligned with friendship. Not everything should be viewed as foreplay. We need reminders from others that we are lovely. Flirting can be also seen as a demonstration of kindness and interest. Flirtation is safe in a workplace environment. It is a safe version of seduction.

Essentially, when we flirt we are showing another person that we like them and find them attractive. – The School of Life

The First Day of Feeling Well Again. You were sick for the past few days. Being unwell sucks. Someone bought you a gift to make you feel better. When sick, you suffered from low energy levels and didn’t bother much about work. Your sexual appetites waned and you felt calm. Feeling energetic is important. Your appetite is now back in order and you feel much better. When sick, you start to imagine things, just like a child.

Daisies. They are simply too small and can live from year to year. It is one of the nature’s most charming colour arrangements. The petals close up when in the dark and re-open in the day. Like the daisy, biological factors dominate and control us too. We get affected by events and it affects our moods etc. Daisies are abundant.

We disdain the daisy for an unfortunate reason: it is abundant. It’s a victim of the unfortunate idea that to be special something has to be rare. – The School of Life

Figs. You might encounter it once in a while. You don’t think much of it. However, it seems charming and tastes pleasant. Rituals are important. It provides a sense of appreciation in order to get us into a valuable state of mind. The ritual comes as a timely reminder for us. Rituals are usually developed over a large period of time. Similarly, small pleasures need rituals. The pull of it is smaller and that is why we need reminding.

The pull of small pleasures is much weaker than that of sex or video games or drinking wine or wolfing down a bar of chocolate; these are pleasures we need no reminding of, and we often have to painfully struggle to limit their sway in our lives. With small pleasures it’s the opposite. We’re more likely to lose touch with them. They easily get crowded out. We actively need to build up their presence in our lives. – The School

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Are you Fully Charged? by Tom Rath

The 3 keys to energizing your work and life. They are ‘Meaning’; ‘Interactions’ and ‘Energy’.

When you are fully charged, you can perform at your optimum. You will also be able to do more for others. It is difficult to integrate knowledge from books into your daily routine. Learn to create daily well-being. It is important to measure life on a daily basis. Technology can allow you to measure a lot more than is necessary. Having a higher salary does not change your daily happiness once you have hit the income threshold. Once you have met your basic needs, income is unlikely to increase your happiness. Daily experience is important and should not be underestimated. Focus on improving your own happiness. Take small and meaningful steps today. Energy refers to both mental and physical health. Most people struggle on a daily basis. You do not need to do anything drastic to change yourself.

Meaning

Creating Meaning with Small Wins. If you know your time is limited, you will want to make a difference every single day. I ended up feeling more energized. I can continue to invest in my future. Little and value-adding moments create substance and meaning. People who search for happiness are unlikely to find it. Pursue happiness for your loved ones and community. However, seeking your own happiness is unlikely to work. Meaning is centred more around others. Humans love to pursue meaning. Create meaning for yourself and for those around you.

The essential thing people want in a job today is work that will allow them to create meaning for others. My research suggests that the odds of being completely engaged in your job increase by more than 250% if you spend a lot of time doing meaningful work throughout the day. – Tom Rath

Pursue Life, Liberty and Meaningfulness. Since young, people always have the need for meaningful work. The book cites Viktor Frankl’s “Man Search for Meaning”. Intrinsic motivation is richer than extrinsic motivation. Those who exhibit intrinsic motivation are more likely to persist and not give up. It is easy to fall in the money trap and forget about meaning. Carrot and stick methods are not very effective anymore. Find activities outside work that can appeal to your intrinsic motivation. Create your own meaning. Look at the big picture. Focus small first. Attach the dots and start by having small and meaningful interactions.

Creating meaning can be practical – and relevant – to the people you care about most. Start by asking why your current job or role even exists. In most cases, jobs are created because they help another person, make a process more efficient, or produce something people need. – Tom Rath

Make Work a Purpose, not just a place. Some people see their work as a calling. Identify your work with a larger purpose. Find bigger meaning in what you do. Have meaningful interactions with your co-workers. Work should not be just about a pay-check. Work in the modern context should be a lot more and be packed with meaning. People work in teams now. In the past, people worked like machines due to industrialization. Job satisfaction levels are at an all-time low. People need to change their relationships with employers. Derive meaning from your work. Meaningful work is highly associated with job satisfaction levels.

Find a Higher Calling than Cash. Money is not main concern now. Non-financial incentives can work as well, or even better. Do not get caught on the hedonic treadmill. Money should not be the primary determinant. Rather, ask yourself whether you have made a difference? Doubling your income will not make you twice as happy. However, do note that financial security is important for your well-being. Avoid upward comparison. Wealth can cause you to embark on more stressful tasks. Money tends to make one behave more selfishly. Incentives on a group basis is better than at the individual level.

A fortune will always be relative to the person who has more, and fame is fleeting. While you may be rewarded with a large bonus or major recognition at certain times, most days consist of making a little forward progress without external reward. – Tom Rath

Ask what the world needs. Apply your creativity whenever you can. It is important to know your talents and passions. Find a way to make a difference. Start with what the customers want. Instead of following your passion, ask what you can give. Look at everyday problems that need addressing. Find the intersection between ‘Interest – you want to do’; ‘Needs of others and the world’ & ‘Strengths – What you are good at’. Find your unique purpose in this world. Find where you are naturally at or in. Start building knowledge and skills. When you use your strengths, it tends to bring better job satisfaction. Spend a lot of time at something to be very proficient at it. Double your energies on something. Act now before today is over. Try to find tasks that can match your interests. Most people do not spend their time on meaningful pursuits. Do not let time fly by without you realizing and then it might be too late.

Don’t Fall in the Default. Most of the time, you are following the dreams of someone else. Most people want to follow in the footsteps of a mentor or a sibling. Some people act because of peer pressure. There is a high chance towards gravitating towards something which your parents chose. It is not wrong to follow their dream. However, sometimes you must follow your own too. As humans, we need to forge our own path. Identify certain traits in children when they are young. Ask ‘why’. Everyone grows up with different expectations. Find your area of passion by exploring. Do not live in the shadow of others. Craft your dream into your job. Find activities that recharge you. Seek small things that you can see progress in. It could be something like boosting your spirits of those at work. One good way could be volunteering with the community. People forge good jobs, rather than finding them through job postings. ‘Effective “job crafting” starts by looking at how much time you dedicate to specific tasks which give you energy every day.’ Spend more time in your element, if possible. Spend less time around those people who will not energize you.

Initiate to Shape the Future. It is easy to spend your whole day responding and reacting. It is what you initiate now that matters. Most people spend more time reacting than initiating. Try to initiate something new every day. Are modern people too busy nowadays? Activity may not mean real progress. A lot of people multi-task too much and that doesn’t lead to much productivity. Chances are that if you are too busy, you might be missing out the important things in life. Work smarter, not harder. Information is coming fast and people are always connected. Due your mind wandering, it is difficult to concentrate on any task at hand. Sometimes, disconnecting from distractions can be very useful. Write down tasks which waste time and try to avoid doing so much of that. Dogs can be conditioned to salivate. Do not treat information as a form of reward. Most people spend too much time checking their emails. Modern people check their mobile phones way too often. Learn to shut off your notifications. Most phones have a switch off notifications function. Set aside time to focus on one particular task alone.

Focus for 45, Break for 15. In schools in Finland, kids are given a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes of work. This method was good and allowed the kids to feel energized. People are more attentive when they receive timely breaks. During the break, learn to take a stroll. Intense bursts, followed by short breaks, is the way to go. This is a purposeful way of work. Finding a purpose in life helps to combat ageing and improves cognitive health. Let employees try to see the results of their work. Infuse each day with a reminder of your mission. Always recite the mission to keep you motivated.

Interactions

Make Every Interaction Count. Widowhood effect affects the ones around you as well. We are influenced by those around us, and they might not just be our friends. Your actions affect those around you. Those with higher positive interactions have a higher chance of having a better well-being. Negativity can affect positive exchanges. Do not assume bad intent in others. Be peace loving. Constantly try to build good relationships with others. Physical proximity matters. Close relationships can have a profound effect over time.

Be 80% positive. If you are constantly positive, you tend to feel frustrated. The ratio of positive to negative interactions matter a lot. When stressed, your body produces more cortisol. Positive emotions result in a release of oxytocin. In general, people need 3 to 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction. Managers should spend more time focusing on what works as compared to what doesn’t. Positive words help to bind relationships. Try to use positive words as much as possible in daily conversations. Do not ignore people and always pay attention to others. Negative feedback is better than nothing at all.

Start Small and Be Clear. Do not get caught up in the rat race. A warm interaction with your spouse is very important. Small gestures can help to boost others’ well-being. Use questions to spark conversation. Learn to ask good questions and probe. In general, people love to talk about themselves. Be vulnerable and humble to gain another person’s trust. Talk about your fears in general. Friendship enables you to connect with one another. It is common to mirror another person’s body language. A good level of trust is required for friendships to thrive. Sharing problems with one another is a great way to strengthen relationships. Good relationships at work are very important for well-being.

Take a Break for Relationships. Lack of cohesion leads to poor work dynamics and work productivity. Relationship building is crucial for work productivity. Influence amongst friends is contagious and you can catch the bug very easily if you are not careful. Continue to create positive experiences and your well-being will be improved. Do not text on the phone too often when having conversations with friends. Do not ruin conversations by not paying attention to friends. Give friends your undivided attention. People can easily tell if you are not focused on them. Do not allow your mind to wander.

Put Experiences First. If you recall happy memories, that can help to create some form of happiness too. The anticipation of a vacation can bring happiness as well. Experience-oriented products lead to happiness. In the long while, material items fail to provide long-lived levels of happiness. In modern societies, too many people spend on material items. People who choose to buy experiences end up being more fulfilled. The key is how you spend your money. Plan ahead for your well-being. Try to plan for your vacation a few months down the road.

It turned out that looking forward to a vacation or event provided even more happiness than the event itself. Even the memory contributed more to long-term well-being than the actual experience. – Tom Rath

Avoid Flying Solo. There is too much emphasis on solo achievement. Events with others are treasured more than solo experiences. Humans are social creatures and keep a certain level of bonding to thrive. A relationship is not a zero-sum game. Others win more when you succeed. Pro-social incentives work better than individual incentives. Try to allow others to give more than they receive.

Build a Cumulative Advantage. Focus on others’ achievements rather than their weaknesses. High levels of confidence is linked to increased level of benefits. Learn to encourage others. Use your knowledge to motivate and bring out the best in others. Bring things to life in words. Find and develop talent in others. Use praise and recognition techniques to aid you.

Energy

Put Your Own Health First. People in the healthcare sector need to take care of their health more. Invest more time in your energy and health. Star performers who work long hours tend to experience burnout. If you want to thrive in the long term, focus on your health and energy above everything else. Use short-term thinking for better health. Find the most pragmatic solutions. Make sure to get some physical activity in the morning. Ensure a good night’s sleep. It is a good idea to tackle multiple elements of health at the same time. It is very important to have enough energy so that you will feel recharged.

Eat Your Way to a Better Day. The food you consume affects your energy levels. You can’t simply measure quality of food by calorie intake. Avoid fried food. If you eat the right foods, your energy will be increased in the long run. Learn to make every bite count. Modest intake of protein is good for health. Consuming protein increases dopamine, which decreases your craving for sweet food. Go for egg-whites, berries etc. Ideally, one should consume more protein and less carbohydrates. It is better to shop when you full as compared to when you are hungry. Put vegetables and fruits at eye level. The food you eat can affect your mood and work performance. Avoid too much fatty and processed food. Learn to make better dietary choices.

Start with the basics: Avoid fried foods. Eat few refined carbohydrates. Eliminate as much added sugar as possible. Build meals around vegetables. Substitute whole fruit for sweets. Drink more water, tea, and coffee instead of soda or other sweetened drinks. – Tom Rath

Learn to Walk Before You Run. The key is to be active every day. The human being is not built to sit down and lead a sedentary lifestyle. The more you sit, the less beneficial it is. Build as much movement as you can into your routine as possible. Walking increases your energy levels too. Avoid sitting and waiting for long periods. Small bursts of energy are good. Use a pedometer to measure how many steps you have taken per day. Set a target for a minimum number of steps per day. According to research, 10,000 steps per day is a good target. People who exercise tend to experience better moods. After exercise, people will get a 12-hour mood boost. Exercising in the morning will give you energy for the rest of your day. Start by incorporating some activity into your daily routine.

Sleep Longer to Achieve More. Sleep is not a waste of time. A lack of sleep affects your well-being, productivity and health. However, most people tend to sacrifice sleep at their own expense. Ideally, try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Add an extra of sleep to your routine. Sleepless driving is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all cost. Get a vaccine for the rhinovirus. You are more likely to catch a cold if you sleep little. A good night’s sleep has benefits on physiological health. Using a cell-phone late at night can affect sleep quality. Avoid noise and bright lights when close to sleeping hour.

Eat, Move and Sleep to De-Stress. Stress can decrease the length of telomeres. Always keep active and eat well. Keep stress levels from snowballing. Stress is cumulative in nature and can soon lead to chronic levels. Avoid inheriting stress from others. Be conscious of your words and avoid stressing others out.

Respond with Resiliency. React to a situation as a challenge and do not see it as being stressful. Reframe stressful situation as challenges instead. Humans are remarkably resilient. Control your responses and do not do anything rash. Smile through difficult tasks. Force yourself into a smile and move on.

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