Now

“The time is now…”

“No time like the present…”

“Just do it…”

Familiar phrases all, often used with the intention to inspire, with a hope that they will promote and propel people to act. Such phrases impress on us that the only time to act is now, that the present moment is where you live your life and that is where you can impact it most.

But exactly when is “now”?

The German psychologist and neuroscientist Ernst Poppël suggests that our perception of the present moment, of “now”, is a period of time three seconds long. That’s a small packet of time. By four seconds we are starting to experience the past, and a mere one or two seconds is perceived to be our future.

Of course, as soon as we’ve opened our packet of time and gobbled down the three seconds of “now” we’re onto the next, and the next, and the next… The three seconds constantly refreshes so we have no perception that “now” is only three seconds long.

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Reality Sucks

Reality can sometimes be quite dull. In films, TV programmes, or even the news, reality gets changed and made more dramatic and exciting. It seems that we want the altered, edited and “sexed up” version of reality more than reality itself.

Perhaps this is the reason why so many people get caught up (or caught out) by fake news stories; something that is more sensational than reality is far more exciting.

When a Supreme Court case relating to Britain’s exit from the European Union was televised many people commented on how dull it was. Although this was a momentous and historic case, many on social media complained that it wasn’t as dramatic as fictionalised courtroom dramas they had seen on TV.

The film “Sully” based on the true events of the Hudson River plane crash invented tension and conflict around the subsequent investigation that, according to the real Captain Sullenberger’s accounts, never occurred. The real story wasn’t deemed dramatic enough for Hollywood and had to be embellished.

Are we turning our backs on truth?

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The Uniqueness of Uniqueness

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We are all unique, in almost every way. From our DNA, to our fingerprints, our eyes, our hair, our personality, our dreams and desires – our uniqueness defines who we are.

Funnily enough, uniqueness is completely ubiquitous, it is present throughout the universe. Everything in the universe is unique. There are no two snowflakes, no two grains of sand, no two clouds in the sky that are exactly the same.

Even manufactured items produced by machines with incredible precision, and which may appear uniform at first glance, contain small differences – albeit microscopic – that make them ultimately unique.

I find this infinite variation in our universe awe-inspiring. Everything should be appreciated for its unique beauty in its own time and place.

The fleeting manner in which we encounter so many elements in our lives – the uniqueness of the human experience – should make it even more precious. Whether it’s a friendship which makes a difference when you need it, a chance moment that pushes your life in a new direction, or the simple crunch of leaves under foot on a crisp autumn day, our lives are filled with uniqueness every single day.

And of course, each day is unique in its own way. We can be guilty sometimes of forgetting this; it can be too easy to forget the unique awesomeness that each day brings, and the endless possibilities contained within it.

It can be easy to brush aside a day as just another day – the same, hum-drum, monotony. We wish away the days so we can get to the weekend or the next holiday, when we can feel alive!

To truly appreciate the gift of the possible, to embrace the uniqueness of our lives, of our experiences and of our potential, we have to take ownership for what can be done, what could happen, what we make possible.

Every day, month and year of your life offers unique opportunities to live life on your terms, to seek happiness and fulfilment. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but what other option have you got?

Something as unique as your life shouldn’t be wasted, wished away or spent in a rut of unhappiness. Do what you want. Live your life. Be you.

Embrace your uniqueness.


Image credit: Jude Beck | stocksnap.io

 

Life Is Not A Game

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Like many millions of people, I love to play video games. I enjoy them; they’re fun, they’re engaging, they’re distracting. I can easily get obsessed with what level I’m on and how I’m progressing.

It’s good to progress, it feels great to level-up, but lately I realised that I was feeling a sense of achievement, when in fact I’d achieved nothing.

That’s the power of a good game – it makes me feel like I’ve achieved something in my life when, in fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve achieved nothing, or at least nothing that I actually had on my to-do list.

I’m sure many people have things they want to do, things they want to achieve, but getting a certain level on Candy Crush probably isn’t one of them. If that’s what you want, then go ahead and do it. There’s no harm in it. Be my guest.

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When We Can We Will

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We all have things we want to do, things we want to achieve. Changing career, learning a language, clearing out the spare room. Some of them are big, some of them are small. Some are dreams, some are goals, some are just “stuff”.

We all also have reasons we don’t get round to doing some, or all, of these things. We seem to be under some sort of illusion that there is a time in the near future when we will “get round to it”, a magical time called “when we can, we will”.

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve fallen into the trap of “when I can, I will”; there are a couple of things on my goals list that seem firmly entrenched in that position. No one is perfect, right?!

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Time: Capital or Income?

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“How are you spending your time?”

“Has it been a valuable use of your time?”

“Time is money, you know.”

We use economic terms to describe our use of time, so why not extend the economic terms to our definition of time, not just our usage? Do you consider time to be capital or income?

How you view your time can impact significantly how you spend it. If you view time as income, then it is in essence never ending. Yes, we all know that eventually our time “comes to an end”, but that point is hopefully far off in the distance. And we don’t want to morbidly spend our time considering our demise. But if you view time as income, it gets refreshed, every minute, every hour, every day, week and month. There’s always more time, in the same way that our income gets refreshed each month (hopefully!).

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What Do You Really Care About?

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We are often told what we should care about. We are regularly force-fed an agenda of what is important to us and what isn’t. We are told that the economy is something we should all care about, and be fearful about, and be protective of.

Whilst the 2008 economic crisis was very serious, we also talked ourselves into it. In the six months before the recession hit, the news reported that we were heading for a recession; as a result people stopped spending, people stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars, on the basis that there was a recession coming.

When it did hit, it hit us very hard. And lo and behold, the news reported that it hit us harder than expected because people had stopped spending, stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars! The economy will often take precedence in the news above so many other stories.

We are told what we should care about, we are told what we should know, we are told when we should be scared and even when we should feel joy.

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We Are All Gamblers

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I’m sure some of you will disagree with the statement in this blog title. Many of you will maintain that you have never gambled in your life; and by gambling you mean putting down some money on a bet or the outcome of a game. Many people consider it morally wrong. Others consider it a silly way to throw away money.

Some people, only a few, manage to make a healthy living from it. Casinos certainly do well out of it.

But what is gambling? Most of us think of gambling as an activity which involves exchanging cash, placing a bet, putting money on a prediction of what will happen next.

And, in reality, we all do that a great deal of the time. We all have a sense of what will happen tomorrow, and based on these assumptions we build our lives. We build our sense of who we are, of where we are going on an assumption that we are pretty certain what will happen tomorrow, and next week and even next year.

This is not a bad thing; we buy houses, take loans, plan holidays. Like gamblers in a casino, we sometimes lose. Things go wrong that we didn’t expect, and sometimes these things can have far reaching consequences.

Like gamblers in a casino we are subject to ‘gamblers fallacy’. This is the notion that the odds change over time: if your number hasn’t come up in the last hour, maybe that means it’s ‘due’. It is the primary reason many people play the same lottery numbers each week; it’s the belief that over time the odds will mean that their selection of numbers is ‘due’, when in fact there is no increase in odds compared to playing completely random numbers every week.

In life, with our goals and dreams, it’s easy to fall into the trap that given enough time you are ‘due’ a win, a breakthrough. Surely you’re bound to achieve what you want, given enough time. And as more time passes, as those goals and dreams continue to grow, a sense of urgency develops that a bigger win is needed.

It’s like trying to lose weight in time for the holiday of a lifetime – when you’ve got 12 months to lose 40 pounds it’s perfectly achievable. As time passes it becomes less and less achievable, but the desire for that goal doesn’t dissipate. In many circumstances it increases, with the insane belief that 6 weeks before the holiday you can drop 40 pounds!

In just the same way that the gambler in the casino needs a bigger win the more time that passes.

One of the problems many of us face in our lives is falling into a trap of thinking that ‘time’ actually does something. When in fact time does nothing, other than relentlessly march on. The only thing that will move you forward is action – doing more.

The wins are small, and sometimes barely seem worth the effort, but the compound impact of the regular actions make the big difference. No one will notice if you’ve lost a pound in weight over 2 weeks, you won’t feel a difference in your clothes and may still be unhappy with what you see in the mirror, but the pounds over the course of 12 months will be noticed.

A gambler in a casino puts down cash that they will more than likely lose, with nothing they can do to influence the outcome of their bet. By contrast, you’re gambling with something worth far more than money – your goals and dreams, the very purpose of your existence. But the great thing is, you can do something to influence the outcome, through the actions you undertake every single day.

You have no choice on whether you place a bet, you’re already doing it, every day. But you do have a choice about whether you win or lose, through the actions you choose.


Image credit: Michal Parzuchowski | stocksnap.io

The Hardest Part of An Easy Life

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Not doing something is often all too easy. Like not making a difficult decision. Or postponing a difficult conversation.

Or not writing a new blog post in six weeks. That’s easy; I just don’t do it.

Not exercising is easy. Not dieting is easy. Not prioritising your goals and dreams is easy. Being a passenger in your own life is easy – sit back and just enjoy the ride. See where life takes you.

Anything for an easy life!

The problem is that it isn’t easy, in fact it’s hard. The weight of your inaction presses down more and more on your mind, and it can become unbearable. Because you do have dreams, you do have goals, you do want more…

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Cover Versions

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Creating original content can be very hard, no matter what your field.  Whether it’s writing, composing, leading a business or even inventing, chances are someone has done it before you.

This makes for challenging times, as everyone is trying to bring something new to market, trying to saying something original, trying to tell a new story.

It’s not impossible to be the creator of something truly original, but it’s rare. The narratives of most films can be traced back to stories in Shakespeare, which in turn echo folk tales that were passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years, long before Shakespeare was born.

Your dreams, your goals, your aspirations, it’s likely someone has gone before you and done it already. Does this mean you shouldn’t bother? Of course not. There’s nothing wrong with a “cover version”. The beauty to embrace is that you already have your originality – you.

There is only one of you.

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