Style is a state of mind.
Strength (noun): ability to withstand applied stress without failure.
I’m not a die-hard believer in motivational quotes, but some adages bring comfort in their brevity. You note them, you internalise them and then you move on. They keep you from overthinking stuff and living your life more.
So, I said a while back that I would update you on some of the lessons I’ve been learning since reaching my first half-life. Well here’s a list of the first few…
(Disclaimer: yes, the list is written in the imperative, like most adages. And yes, this can sound a bit preachy. But please know that’s not my intention. These are just my personal lessons and I’d be glad to hear about yours.)
1. Pain brings strength.
This is an obvious truth when we’re talking about physical fitness. The more it burns, the more you ache, the stronger your muscles become as they repair. But what I’ve discovered is that this is just as true for mental fitness. It’s an exercise in burning, aching and ploughing through it to develop strength of character. And at some point, when you’ve burned enough times.. in love, friendship, or work you start to find your ability to overcome it almost pleasurable. That’s the point where you’ve added a layer to your mental muscle or developed a thick skin, so to speak.
2. Success comes from determination, not struggle.
If you see challenges as struggles, then you will undoubtedly fail. Success, and the very path to attain it, actually feels good.
3. Loneliness is a perspective.
If you’re creative and curious, you won’t ever feel loneliness. People who feel lonely are depressed, they have low confidence, they are dissatisfied. If you feel lonely, I’m not stigmatising you. You are suffering, and you need to nurture your mental health with friends, loved ones and maybe even professional support (a psychologist and/or exercise..). You are not abnormal, it’s ok. You’ve been through a lot. But I promise you that loneliness isn’t a fact of life you have to live with forever. You don’t need to contend with it rearing its ugly head every few months, years, etc. Be assured that it is truly a temporary state of mind you can overcome.
The truth is, when you know yourself, nothing feels quite as good as having time to yourself to chill or to make new plans. I recently bought a world map and have begun ticking off all the places I want to visit over the course of the next 2 years. Since my early teens I’ve also been making lists of things I want to achieve in my life, things I have achieved and things I reckon I could achieve pretty quickly. On one of these lists was singing (and I am now well on my way to setting up a cool little band). another was cycling which I loved as a child but had a rather traumatic accident and never felt confident again. So I’ve finally got back into cycling (and as luck would have it I’ve managed to find a great job working in the rider-friendly city of Amsterdam for part of every week).
4. Friendship is the purest kind of love.
Invest in friendship – without innuendo, without expectation for an ROI, just simply for the pleasure of knowing someone. But with all relationships, know that spending too much time together with one person simply isn’t good for either of you. So make lots of friends, take time for them, empathise with everyone because it will make your experience of your own life and your friendship much richer. However, spending too little time maintaining contact (whether in person, by phone, email, or text) isn’t good either. Friendship is a delicate balance of caring for one another, being available when they need you, being grateful when they are there for you whenever they can be, and giving each other lots of space to do your own thing, without question or assumptions. This is work, but like all good work it’s a pleasure.
5. Bananas in the morning improve your day.
Ok seriously, this is important. Bananas are high in magnesium and give you energy, fight fatigue, make your eyes bright and your skin smooth. (Tip: Eat them on their own and slightly unripe in the morning, don’t mix into your porridge, yoghurt or cereal because that dilutes their nutritional effect, and the high sugar content on fermentation can hurt your waistline. However, if you have porridge half an hour later you can reap the benefits of both meals).
6. Handstands are fun.
Feeling low or lethargic? Do a handstand. Sorts you out. Come on, you did them all the time when you were a kid and they made you feel awesome.
7. You can never work too much, but you can under-recover.
This is true not just of physical fitness, but also of partying and working hard. Take time to rest. Sleep earlier if you need it, take a nap in the afternoon if needed. But don’t sleep in in the morning. That extra sleep doesn’t promote recovery, it’s simply a sign you’re burnt out. If you find yourself sleeping in in the morning, make a change to your daily routine to ensure you are getting worthy rest at another point in the day.
8. Anything is possible.
It just is. This is not just about believing it or having a positive outlook. It’s simply true. You want things to be different, but you want to make chnages with dignity and grace. Well you can do it. It’s about being engaged with your desires and needs and making each decision with purpose, realism and patience… and never with regret.
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