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Dec 29, 2008

Tons of Things to Be Grateful For

I'm working from Starbucks today, internet here is far faster than at home. Today it's a national holiday here in Malaysia and nobody is in the office. I had my holidays during Christmas when large part of malais was working - 60% of the population is Muslim and only 10% Christian, so Christmas here is visible mainly in shopping malls.

Starbucks has somehow a special atmosphere which makes it really easy to focus, even though I'm surrounded by so many people.

Sitting here today, composing a newsletter, checking new applications to MindValley and filling my notebook with new ideas that pop up I'm filled with gratitude.

I've discovered that expressing your gratitude is one of the most powerful shortcuts to happiness, so I let myself just be filled with it.

I'm immensely grateful for the:

  • huge diversity around me - different nationalities, races and people at all ages, who look so relaxed and happy. I love the diversity in this country.
  • for finally living a "normal" life with Maru and having a better routine for him - I can take time to learn together with him and I feel our relationsship moving to a new level
  • for most exciting challenges waiting for me in 2009 - I can't wait to start working with the new education project Gifted. I'm thrilled by the idea that I can be part of building a new pre-school education program and start something great in the area that I see as my life mission. Never hoped to get so directly connected with the education area through MindValley, but right things just keep happening.
  • for Maru who learned how to swim and dive - helping your child to swim without pressuring him in any direction was such a profound lessons about how kids learn. I learned so much about natural flow of learning and building on the natural curiosity of the learner
  • for having most fun and smart colleagues whom I can really rely on and who walk the extra mile even when things are not always 100% perfect. I love the teamwork in MindValley and I feel so motivated to do more than is expected from me
  • for my "bosses" who are real rolemodels for me, I'm fully grateful to have a chance to learn from the best people in business and be challenged by expectations that make me stretch a lot
  • for having great friends in Estonia and other places in the world - I feel so much connected with them even though I've moved away so far. Had a chat yesterday with one amazing person and a close friend who's first son was born at Christmas Eve. I'm so happy to share these moments
  • for being in the flow when I work with the things that truly excite me and talking with people with whom I have click-match
  • for a new exciting web-project I'm building with one of the click-match people from Estonia - love being in the same flow with him
..and honestly there's so much more.

Life is good not because it's objectively good - if I would think about it I could probably put together a whole list out of the things I DON'T LIKE in my life - but because I choose to focus on things that make me happy. And the more I do that, the happier I become and the more success I attract to my life.

It's so simple.

PS: I'm using more and more gratitudelog.com to express my daily gratitude - really simple, but powerful tool. Find me there and let's get connected

Dec 22, 2008

Several Good Reasons to Be Grateful for Being Attacked on the Street

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.
-- James Thurber

My life in slow motion, let's wind it back.

It's 1 AM in the night of Kuala Lumpur. A girl and a guy are walking on the street, absorbed in a conversation to catch a taxi to a birthday party. Yes, it's me and Andries, a wonderful person who has become a good friend of mine, visiting me in KL. We're walking and talking - and suddenly surrounded by around 8 guys on motorbikes.

This is when the slow motion gets switched on.

They're aggressive and in a rush to take everything we have. We don't have much - a mobile, an iPod, a few hundred ringgits, keys to my house, a lipstick (wonder what they did with that?:). Being part of this scene seems a bit unreal - Andries on the ground, taser flashing in the night (and you hope they don't hurt your friend), me pushed around, someone shouting: "Shut up!" (did I say anything? Slow motion...).

And then it's over.

You hear the cars driving on the main street again, see the houses nearby and life gets back in the rhytm as you know it. A hug from a friend connects that moment with gratitude and connection.

So today it's a lucky girl writing here. Seeing the dark side of life certainly makes you value more the bright side. The best thing to take with us are the lessons, so here you have mine from a negative situation out of your control:

1. Forgive. There's always two (or more) sides of the story, don't get stuck with yours. Seeing the other person might sometimes take a bit, but in the end of the day forgiving is the only way to love and healing. I guess these kids had their reasons for ending up with this life style, I just don't know the story and was a very random episode in theirs.

2. Forget. No negative energy from other people should bitter us nor make fearful. It just doesn't make sense to double the harm by becoming a more negative person yourself. In the end - it's nothing personal and it's not your problem either. If you can't do anything about it - stop worrying about it and move on.

3. Prepare. Don't lose the lesson. Make sure the next difficulty that crosses your way meets a better prepared you. I start from asking how to avoid the same situation in the future - using taxi to move around after dark seems like a nice idea.

4. Love your people. I think this is the most important lesson. It's a thought from mother Teresa that Andries shared with me when we sorted the things out in a conversation. Loving the world starts from loving the people close to you. If you don't love your family first, then how can you love your employees, community, society, the world? Mother Teresa called it the Hierarchy of Love - love flows from close, healthy relationsships and heals the world. So I don't intend to change the life of all the bittered, unhappy youngsters attacking people on streets - but make sure I have enough love for My People first.

I'm fully grateful for getting to know different sides of life and growing in the process. We should never judge, but learn to understand. We should never build negative energy in ourselves. And we definitely should have as much fun as we can - life's such a wonderful thing, every day's a gift.

Dec 18, 2008

11 Songs You Want to Listen



You probably already know how important it is to surround yourself with positive people. "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are."

So true. Going even further - show me what you're surrounding yourself with and it becomes quite obvious what you're becoming.

2 years ago I spent 10 days in a meditation camp in Germany, spiraling into my inner world, cut off from all communication with the world and other people. While wondering around in the depth of my mind, I started to notice there's a lot of crap that I've collected throughout my life.

Everything that you see, hear, think, smell, touch and even sense leaves a trace. All the songs you've ever listened in your life are there, all the movies, conversations, sights - everything is stored. You think you've forgot, but your subconscious mind keeps feeding you with information you thought doesn't even exist.

This discovery made me realize that it's absolutely vital to carefully choose your experiences and feed yourself with high quality information.

One of the first places to start could be your own playlist. You might have not even noticed, but many pop-songs are inserting into your mind most pessimistic and pathetic messages, full of self-pity.

There are so many songs about broken hearts, waiting for someone to come and save the day, passive lingering, misguiding concepts of love, self hatred, lost hopes, loneliness. Why to listen these negative messages? Yeah, there are bound to be some setbacks in life, so what? We're capable for so much more and getting stuck in a moment (as U2 sings) should not be stressed - move on, you can.

So the idea of the day - every time you encounter a pessimistic song in your playlist, delete it. Seriously - you don't need it. Why, to feel even worse? Aah, that sweet self pity again - move on, you can.

Want to share with you a playlist with some of my favorite boost-up songs. Surely there are lot more, would be grateful if you'd share in comments, always looking for inspiration. Thanks a lot:)

My Good Mood Playlist

3. Right Said Fred - Stand Up (this song helped me to get ready before Local Committee President elections in AIESEC Tartu, still works in certain moments it's my you-can-do-anything mantra)
5. Coldplay - Everythings Not Lost (this song helped me through some tough times in life - "When I counted up my demons, Saw there was one for every day, With the good ones on my shoulders, I drove the other ones away")
10. Mike Oldfield - To Be Free
11. Aplhaville - Dangerous Places (original song is not in YouTube, but the song has amazing lyrics - "But you got ambition, you got the face, come on, let's go to a dangerous place, come on - let's go, come on - let's go, come on...")

Are We Running Out Of Time With Education Reforms?


E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N.

Sometimes I hate that word. I want to skip it, erase it, make it disappear.

What I actually want to do is to replace the content of that word, to bring back it's real meaning, which would be
L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G.

It's not that I don't like education, but it's that I don't like the system. The School House - as it is today - almost makes me want to do something physical, squeeze a lemon until not a single drop of juice comes out.

That's how I feel when I hear new stories about most creative creatures entering the school house - and coming out as scared and average individuals with not much of a contact with their real self. And even in less drastic cases - it's just painful to see the process of re-building ourselves after coming out of the system.

Makes me wonder - what if I had just skipped the
E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N and went straight to the L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G when I was 7?

Now here's a few tough questions to chew.

Can we actually reform the current education system? What if it's just wrong from its very core and the logic what current schools are based on is not working?

Truth is that majority of schools - as they are today - don't teach children to learn. Majority of schools - as they are today - don't prepare kids for the actual life. Majority of schools as they are today make kids dependent and lose their natural talents.

Reforms - not good enough, not quick enough

Now what I've noticed is that many people know that. Yes, there are problems, yes, the system should be more child centered, yes, we must take a more personal approach.

Good, but not good enough.

Yes, there are education reforms prepared and delivered in almost every country. But what they mean by all this reforming is just changing a few elements in the existing system - in good case adding more life skills classes, integrating development talks into the curriculum, educating teachers to offer better support for their individual students, worse cases just updating biology curriculum and debating if religion should be taught in school or not.

Not bad, but notice one thing? Most of these reforms concern everything external to the child, child STILL has absolutely no control over his own life. These help attempts can actually make children more dependent, so it's just a new way of still doing a wrong thing.

Until the whole logic of approaching to schools and education will be different - and it will - then these attempts don't make much of a sense (ok, I admit - not even trying would be even a greater loss for children learning in schools today, but still it's not the solution).

But you know what's almost unbearably painful - we are too slow. We need to speed up - because we're not only talking about tremendous amount of lost human potential, we're talking about the whole world's future.

Everything starts with the education system. Are the future generations prepared to live in the complicated world we're creating every day? Are they ready to make responsible decisions? Are they mature and self aware enough to connect with each other?

Alternative scenarios?

Around half a year ago I discovered myself playing around with a thought that has become my subconscious lighthouse ever since.

What if schools would not exist at all, how would children learn then?

Some of my friends found that a bit too radical to even consider.

I don't think so. Looking alternatives in education system doesn't have to start from looking at the current situation. Let's look at the need. And even if we end up still having schools - I bet they would be drastically different from the ones we would have created with a question: what should we change in the current system?

Because really - can you reform the current education system or is the system outdated and should be replaced? If it's outdated, then what's the new system? What's the role of a school house in this system? What's the role of internet and other new communication tools? What skills should kids learn and how should they do that? What's the role of a teacher?

We need to create some answers. And by we I mean we, not them.

PS: This one was written on the inspiration wave after reading a brilliant book "Kindergarten Is Too Late" by Masaru Ibuka

Dec 14, 2008

Bravery - Screw It, Let's Do It!*

* added later: which is also the name of Richard Branson's new book. Yep, that's how my subconscious mind reminds me about my reading list:)

Where to get the courage to do things you've never done before, but truly desire to? How to know that you're ready?

This is something that I'M NOT asking myself before starting with new things.

Here's why - asking yourself wrong questions can actually drain you out of energy, so you never even get going. The definition of bravery can be very misleading, found one from internet - bravery is fearlessness, feeling no fear (wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). This assigns doing extraordinary things to heroes and historical figures, because all the rest of us are bound to be afraid every now and then.

Well, I'm more into the Everyday Heroes, here's what I mean by that. When I look around I see lot of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They have no super-abilities that would excuse others for not following their example.

So please ignore the former definition, this is what defines courage for me: acting despite of fear.

Yesterday ran into one of these Everyday Heroes, will tell his story to illustrate how it works.

Jose, a former leader of AIESEC Spain was on an internship in a Malaysian company. However after a while he felt that he's not really moving anywhere with his job - his ideas were rejected, salary delayed etc. All these bothering details built up a real frustration.

Now imagine this - you're in a foreign country, financially dependent of your monthly payroll, with no previous business experiences - what would you do? Safer way would be to try to meditate yourself out of the frustration every evening and continue coping with the same company.

This is not what Jose did.

I met him yesterday at a pool party here and had a WOW-experience. He had just returned from a trip to one of the paradise islands here to plan the business with 2 of his Spanish friends-business partners. He had quit his job that, well - kinda sucked and is now a selfemployed Spanish entrepreneur in Malaysia. He and his mates discovered a demand for palm oil in Spanish market - and as some of the highest quality palm oil is produced in Malaysia a new business venture was born.

Imagine this - Jose is now meeting with palm oil producers in Malaysia to select the most reliable local producers, Spanish companies are already filing in pre-contracts - even though the new palm-oil company isn't officially registered yet. Exciting stuff - and soon the first shipment of palm oil will sail across the globe.

Easy and brilliant, with no big investment to get it going.

A good friend of mine and a huge inspiration, Kristiina started her own business recently (www.incase.ee). What she told me was : "People are never ready to start their business. So you just have to start."

That's what I call bravery - doing what you desire without having 100% guarantee of the end-result. How could you ever have it, anyway?

This one is for all the everyday heroes acting despite of fear! Be it in business, relationships or anywhere else where we decide to fill our deepest desires - and enjoy the benefits.

PS: My goal is to get rid of the grammar mistakes in my English. I'd appreciate tons if you would correct in comments some of my major f-ups.

Dec 12, 2008

OMG - I'm Living With A Chauvinist!!



Recently I've been just blown away by some of the statements from my 5-year-old companion. I've always been conscious about the values that children pick up from their parents while they grow up together, but what if he comes out with things you never thought you taught him?

In the end of the day children are separate individuals with their own world and belief system - and sometimes all we can do is just smile (or burst out laughing in some occasions) and wave...

PS: Mentioning chauvinist in the headline is - a joke! Just in case...

Story 1:

Showed the other day to Maru an advertisement in a magazine, where you could see around ten different people sitting and doing various business stuff.

"Maru, which one of these people you would choose as your kindergarten teacher?", I asked.

"Well, if there's no-one prettier then - this one would do," he replied, pointing to one of the prettiest girls on this page.

What????

Story 2:

We were preparing ourselves for the official alumni dinner here at AIESEC conference. I was getting dressed, putting on my make up.

"Mummy, I don't like it when people call you a woman."

"Why so?", I asked.

"I like MISS much more - people should call you Miss, it's beautiful!"

Hey, what's going on here??

Story 3:

Went to his new kindergarten and the manager showed us around. She told me that the girls are gonna love Maru and will take good care of him. On our way back home I told Maru:

"You know, the manager just told me that the girls are gonna take such a good care of you!"

"What??" he burst out with this unbelievable tone in his voice. "The girls are gonna take care of me?? I'm a guy, I'm gonna take care of the girls!" (and continued later in the evening the story about him, the strong man, getting married in the future and protecting his woman from all the dangers).

------

I'd love to know - where is he picking up all of this? Any opinions? Raising a child is a true adventure - the map is there, but the actual landscape - well, that's a whole different story...

Dec 10, 2008

Getting Back Probably the Most Vital Skill of All

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."
-- Henry Ford, Industrialist

Do you ever think how you learn?

So - how do you learn? What's your answer?

Wonder what would it be.

That was one of the questions I was asked in my interview to Mindvalley.

Got me thinking, because the question was bizarre. You don't really think about it, you just assume that you learn. You know - when you're reading a book, talking to people, participating a training. You learn, right?

So thinking about HOW is not too much of a question.

Is it not really?

I'm working now in one of the most striving companies in the world. Innovation here is huge, expectations massive, field just full of amazing opportunities. It's a very new playground, I feel a little bit as a child again, who is just about to discover what the world is like.

Except - according to my age I'm an adult. And adults know how to learn, right? So you kind of assume there is no problem in picking up the knowledge and master in your skill, because you KNOW how it works.

WRONG! Dead wrong!

I think that one of the most crucial skills that people lose while growing up is their natural, unforced, speedy way to learn. The very same assumption - I'm already learning - very often slows down the learning process so that you become a snail-like learner.

Adults tend to see many things as a bit overwhelming, impossible - or they just don't see their learning edge at all. Blind. They don't even try. They give up before they even get a taste of the real knowledge.

I find my ability to learn one of the most crucial things to foster. I need to be CONSCIOUS about HOW I LEARN. Seriously - I need to maintain my curiosity, need to remind that learning happens step by step - and before I master anything I need to go through the painful process of failures and trying again.

I have to, no other chance! If - just IF I want to make sure I truly achieve my goals....versus getting stuck in the point where I had developed by the time I turned 20.

You can't give up of your learning just because it's hard -- nor can you assume it happens by itself. You must have a ROCK-SOLID belief that you too can master any skill you desire. And an internal flame that keeps you excited about the vision that YOU'RE ALREADY DOING IT.

Whatever that would be. For me becoming fluent in English, mastering my communication skills, learning how mind works, learning to meditate, maintaining high energy levels every day etc etc.

These goals are absolutely NOTHING if I'm not conscious of how I learn.

So back to the basics, back to the very first steps in the world - full of curiosity, free of the fear of failure, free of the need to succeed, master of sucking in the knowledge as a sponge.

Step by step, step by step, better and better.

Dec 8, 2008

Negative thought? Get rid of it, quickly!!


After my divorce a few years ago I stayed living in the same apartment where we'd been living for the last years. Unconsciously I felt that these walls had gathered some negative energy - a couple of bitter thoughts, low energy moments and everything else that comes along when people drift apart.

Additionally I had an old drunk living downstairs, who was regularly causing some problems by turning off the water, screaming at night and generally failing in many areas in his life. The house was old and wet with probably not the healthiest air to breathe.

So kind of this run-away-fast environment you wouldn't want to live in.

What I started to do quite automatically was "inserting" positive energy into my surroundings. I told myself that this place has to be full of love, me and Maru have to feel it the very moment we enter the room. It has to be a safe haven, the most positive place on earth despite all the obstacles.

This mindset brought along many positive small changes - we actually built a habit to keep everything clean - something Maru is still doing automatically and not refusing to clean after him. We bought some nice accessories that made the place look nicer etc.

But most of all - I believe the THOUGHT itself made the place what it became, this positive environment where you just FEEL GOOD. Afterward my ex moved to the same place and made it even nicer, so now it's just an absolutely great place to live in.

This experience lead me to think more about what we can do with our thoughts. Seems that only the way we look at our surroundings is transforming what it is. The same story in Malaysia - I don't put too many expectations on my apartment and the country, I work with my mind to create the wonderful experience I want to have (btw - keeping the house clean is still one of the basics of keeping your thoughts clear, seriously).

So it's just amazing how you are actually creating the world you are living in. My vision is that whoever would come to live in this place after us would have the sweetest dreams ever and would feel certain internal peace we've left here.

These kind of little crazy ideas have probably influenced me more than long list of self-analysis.

And when I think about - almost everyone is actually acting as if material things are carrying energy, though they probably don't think about it. Example - it's so common that people make some changes after they move on from a relationship - cut hair, give back the presents, change address etc etc. As their subconscious mind feels that these materials objects are still carrying the negative energy in them which they want to get rid of.

It's just so freaking important to think positive thoughts!

PS: Promise to tell more about my work here in Mindvalley soon. But so far - above my wildest expectations and a bit more...life's a true adventure:)