Power to the Peaceful

ISIQ-0262

“Power to the Peaceful” – Michael Franti

Today is a new day. Today is a new day. Today is a new day.

Sometimes, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, my reaction is to get angry, yell a bit, then feel guilty about yelling and getting angry, then slide into a depression.

Yesterday was one of those days.

 

I had been getting enough sleep, eating well, doing a bit of exercise, meditating and affirming my self-love. (These are my 5-pillars of mental resilience and inner happiness – Sleep, Exercise, Food, Peace, Love.)

The fact that I still ended up feeling depressed taught me that even when I think I’m looking after myself properly, there are still always improvements that can be made. A little more self-love, perhaps, or a more structured mindfulness practice. Maybe, even, more strenuous exercise – like going for a run.

The key seems to be that my depression lifts once I a) start taking big steps forward, or b) find my inner peace again.

 

Yesterday I tried ALL DAY to take big steps forward. For a variety of stupid, minor reasons, I didn’t really start moving forward properly until around 8pm. The big steps I was trying to take were all related to my work as a photographer, and I had (still have) a huge backlog of production and marketing work to do. I have found that a bit of momentum, the old “getting sh!t done” principle, has helped hugely in clearing a depressed fog.

Yesterday, though, no matter what I tried, I felt like I was trying to run through treacle – everything was weighed down by minor issues, problems, challenges, that sucked the energy out of me.

Which takes me to item b) – finding my inner peace. I had been sleeping well, eating well, and doing some mindfulness practices. However, I still let these little challenges get the better of me, and let them dictate the mood of my day. Clearly my mental peace and calm wasn’t as resilient as it needed to be.

 

Today is a new day. Today is a new day. Today is a new day.

 

I heard several things yesterday that have made a difference. One of my friends, Srini, runs a fantastic podcast called BlogcastFM. I chatted with him briefly yesterday around lunchtime (which is scotch-o’clock for him) about the funk I was in. He recommended a brilliant podcast by Shawn Achor – a happiness expert, who has used science as a platform for identifying how to become sustainably happy in life.

The interview was awesome. I’m going back for a second listen this morning while I go for a run. Look it up in the iTunes store, on your podcast device of choice, or something.

Another thing I heard was part of that interview – a phrase called “activation energy”. It’s a term used by chemists, and defined as the minimum amount of energy input into a chemical system to cause a chemical reaction. In the context of Shawn Achor’s work, he uses it to describe a process of removing as many barriers as possible, between him and a new habit he wants to form.

For example, he wants to play guitar every day. He bought a cheap guitar stand, took his guitar out of the closet, out of its case, and left it out on the stand, visible, and beckoning to him to play. Result? He played his guitar more, because he minimised the activation energy needed to get playing.

I took the same approach last night. I knew I needed to create this IQ, and I also knew I wanted to go for a run to Maroubra Beach, swim, and run home again. I laid out my running gear right next to my bed, and decided that the first thing I’d do when I woke up was get changed into my running gear. Minimise activation energy.

 

Today I’ve been far more peaceful already, as a result of a few choices:

1) I chose to go to bed at 10pm, despite lingering guilt that I had left a mess of a house for my wife to clean up. I negotiated this with her, and it was all OK. (Still felt guilty.)

2) I got 8, solid, beautiful hours of restful sleep. My alarm went off at 6am, and I felt refreshed and happy.

3) I changed into my running gear straight away, putting me in the “I’m going to go outside and exercise” headspace immediately.

4) I stayed peaceful, despite my children deciding that 6:15am would be a great time to beat each other up, and yell and cry at the top of their lungs.

5) I left a half-completed IQ image open on my computer, so that when I started work this morning, I wouldn’t need much activation energy to create this IQ and publish it.

 

Minimising activation energy seems to be working. I highly recommend it.

Being peaceful also seems to be working. I’m going to be making more time for a structured mindfulness practice, as this is the one aspect of my 5-pillar strategy that has been neglected the most. I’ll let you know how I go.

 

As I look back on what I’ve written this morning, it appears to be a more meandering IQ than usual, filled with lots of personal sharing and odd snippets of science and meditation.

Please understand that I don’t write about my own personal circumstances because I’m just a chronic over-sharer. I write because I believe that I’m not the only person going through challenges like these, and I believe that by sharing it honestly and authentically – along with how I overcame or started addressing the challenges – it might be helpful and beneficial to you.

If it freaks you out, I apologise. If it serves you and helps you get through your own life, then I’m pleased. I’m here to help; I only want to serve others.

 

May you have a peaceful day, filled with power, self-love, and happiness.

 

With lots of love, good vibes, and zen habits,
Israel. xo

 

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