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Archive for the ‘Art of Living’ Category

Time management, making resolutions, or anything influencing your quality of life.

Before Living Our Talents We Need Love

Posted by Peet Brits on April 26, 2011

In my previous post I introduced the concept of focusing on your talents to live a strength-based life. There is, however, a much deeper psychological need in every human being, and that is the need to feel loved. When the need is met you can move out and meet your potential. If unmet, we simply struggle to survive. [1]

When I say “love” I’m not simply talking about the love from a dating relationship. In our culture love has sadly become a synonym for sex or relationships. Limiting love to such formal parameters really robs us of great experiences. We fall in the trap where we keep searching and wishing for such relationship, and when we blindly jump to fulfil it it quickly turns sour because we entered with the wrong intentions.

That, however, is not the point I am trying to make. The point is to get closer to the true meaning of love, and prevent the paralysed effect of feeling unloved.

Love Languages

Let’s look at love from a different angle. The author Gary Chapman introduced the world to the five love languages, and according to him, these languages are the way in which we prefer to express and receive love. The five categories are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. You can discover yours from this quiz: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/

A single person might quickly point out that this will not help you much until you are in a dating relationship. Well, actually we are already in many relationships where we can begin to practice the concepts. Relationships include, among other, parents, family, friends, and even people at work. For example, take Words of Affirmation. Tell your parents you love them. Tell your colleagues that you appreciate it when they do a good job or help you out. Don’t just assume they know you appreciate it. Give them feedback and let them know how their effort helped.

Reference

[1] Five Love Languages for Singles, Gary Chapman

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Fulfilment from Living your Strenghts

Posted by Peet Brits on March 5, 2011

As of the end of last year I got qualified as a talent coach with the Strength Finder, and it is about time I write something about it. Below is the post that I originally posted on the “Sharing Insights” blog.

Probably the single most important reason why people struggle to reach their full potential is the traditional fallacy that in order to be successful you need to improve your weaknesses. As a result people waste years and decades trying to become better at what they struggle with and do not enjoy, often completely neglecting their natural strengths and the talents that makes them unique and potentially highly effective.

Strength-Based Living

The difference between strengths and weaknesses is not about how easy the task is, or even how good or bad you are at it, but realizing that strengths fulfil you and weaknesses drain you. For example, if you are a type of person that loves new ideas, then you will quickly become bored and unfocused if you do not have an outlet for new ideas. Many people hate their jobs because they spend all day on draining activities, so work has become the “necessary evil” to gain the money required for other things.

This is where the Strength Finder comes to the rescue. They say that it is not so much your job, but your role within the job that matters. If things like your passion and career choices determine your job, then your talents determine the nature of the tasks within the job.

Once you know your talents, you can start with just your top five talents and begin to integrate it into your daily program. Talent integration is not limited to individuals and teams at work, but due to its fresh out-of-the-box approach, one can easily apply it to things like couples coaching and other aspects of life.

“Once you do something you love, you never have to work again.” ~Willie Hill

The quote sounds simple enough, but HOW do you do it? Well, by living your talents, which the Strength Finder will help you identify. The Strength Finder changed the perspectives of many lives over the last thirty years, and the Gallup organization prides itself on having the topic well researched.

Conclusion

I am convinced that behind almost every frustration and argument lies an unrealized or misunderstood talent. These talents will fulfil and motivate you when employed. Let me help you find your talents and turn your life into a success story.

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The Law of the Garbage Truck

Posted by Peet Brits on August 6, 2010

This is my repost of The Law of the Garbage Truck™ by David J. Pollay. I found the message in my e-mail, and it was so good that I had to share. The message is a practical picture to help us avoid toxic human behaviour.

Here is David’s story…

Garbage Truck

Garbage Truck

How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood?  Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day?  Unless you’re the Terminator, you’re probably set back on your heels.  However, the mark of your success is how quickly you can refocus on what’s important in your life. Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson.  And I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened.

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station.  We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.  My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.

I couldn’t believe it.  But then I couldn’t believe what happened next.  The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us.  How do I know?  Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face.  And for emphasis, he threw in a one finger salute, as if his words were not enough.

But then here’s what really blew me away.  My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy.  And I mean, he was friendly.  So, I said, “Why did you just do that!?  This guy could have killed us!”  And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck™.”  He said:

Many people are like garbage trucks.  They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment.  As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it.  And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally.  Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on.  Believe me.  You’ll be happier.

So I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me?  And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the street?  It was then that I said, “I don’t want their garbage and I’m not going to spread it anymore.”

Download the picture version. (Great for forwarding in e-mails.)

Read more about the book, which will be released in October this year.

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Does true love exists?

Posted by Peet Brits on May 25, 2010

Or to rephrase the question, is it possible to fall in love and stay together with the same person your entire life? Even if this love is your first love?

The mushy short-term loving feeling is to pull people together, and once they are together they need to commit to make it work.

My grandfather died a few weeks ago. I was always amazed when I looked at my grandparent’s marriage. They were always together, worked hard to maintain the house, and always did everything as a team. Yes they argued a lot because they got frustrated with each other, but even then it was as if they knew that, no matter what, they were always better off together.

This mindset that life is hard and you have to make it work, no matter what, is something that died away a few generations back. We no longer know the meaning of commitment. We no longer know the meaning of family. Life has become too easy and too comforting. We sit lazily on the couch and watch TV. We quit our job and get a new one. People enter relationships only to have fun, kiss and have sex, and when things get rough, they quit and get a new one. Etc. etc. etc.

And yes, all people are not like this, but this has definitely become the trend. My point is not that true love does not exists any more, but that our modern society has suffocated it.

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Health Risk: Toxic Human Behaviour

Posted by Peet Brits on April 27, 2010

It is important not to return other people’s negative behaviour or things will only get worse. Dr. Kim wrote a great article about what a person can do about negative behaviour, which he labelled toxic behaviour.

Toxic behaviour is bad for your emotional health, as it influences your organ system health, especially the nervous and endocrine systems. Emotional health is largely affected by our daily interactions with others. You know that you are a victim of human toxicity when another person’s behaviour makes you feel bad regularly. This includes intimidation, hurtful gossip, excessive complaining, discouragement to follow your dreams, and taking advantage of kindness and resources while pressuring you with guilt.

I strongly suggest that you read Dr. Kim’s article for more detail. In this post I will only summarise his suggested process of dealing with toxic people and behaviour in four steps:

A) (The first step applies to anyone.) If you are the cause, then apologise. Ask a trustworthy person for their opinion to help you clear your mind. If you are not the cause and the person is not a frequent contact, then silently say goodbye and move on. (For example, an unkind customer.)

I applied this concept in my own life while in traffic. Normally road rage leads to the blowing of horns, shouts of insults, and displays of unspeakable sign language. Instead of returning the behaviour like everyone else, I started repaying evil with good. Whenever someone got angry with me, even when I was completely innocent, I would simply smile and wave. This is not a wave loaded with negative emotions, but a wave that said, “I am sorry and I forgive you, no harm was done.” Most peoples’ faces would soften immediately, and once a woman even blushed. I must tell you, it felt great, much better than the rotten after-taste of anger.

B) Develop compassion. (This step applies to someone that is at least a regular contact.) Toxic behaviour is learned or caused by hurt, disappointment or anger, so your compassion must become greater in order to overcome or quell your own hurt, but do not become a doormat.

C) Have patience. (This step also applies to someone that is at least a regular contact.) Wait for them to apologise. Teach them that you want them to treat you with kindness and respect.

D) (This final step only applies to someone close, in a deeply committed long-term relationship.) If there is no apology for too long, then you have to initiate a make-up session (proactive and even martyr-like). Hopefully your initiative will motivate them to take more responsibility for their actions next time. The key is to reach a peaceful and loving environment, with the hope of increasing understanding and intimacy.

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When should people divorce?

Posted by Peet Brits on January 22, 2010

The question of divorce is a very significant one, especially with the increasingly high divorce rate. On the one extreme, Christians would say that people should not divorce, because they made a promise before God. I cannot help but feel that they are somehow dodging the real question. The other extreme would say that people should simply live together, or use their first marriage as a trial marriage. Do these people even realise how much hurt this can bring, especially to the children?

I am happy to say that I have recently heard a discussion on the radio that would properly answer the question. This is from someone who attended a marriage counselling seminar. The topic eventually turned to divorce, and the professor made an interesting statement.

Note: This was a secular event, so there was no religious bias in the reply.

This is how the conversation went:

“So doctor, when should we suggest a divorce?”

“Never.”

“Never? Did you say never?”

“Yes, never. The person you married is the person you were supposed to marry. If you divorce and marry again, then you will marry the same person, just with a different face and a different name.”

I think that speaks for itself. I only have one thing to add. Lately I have become convinced that the family is the foundation of society. If you destroy the family, then you will eventually destroy society.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your comments.

The question of divorce is a very significant one, especially with the increasingly high divorce rate. On the one extreme, Christians would say that people should not divorce, because they made a promise before God. I cannot help but feel that they are somehow dodging the real question. The other extreme would say that people should simply live together, or use their first marriage as a trial marriage. Do these people even realise how much hurt this can bring, especially to the children?

I am happy to say that I have recently heard a discussion on the radio that would properly answer the question. This is from someone who attended a marriage counselling seminar. The topic eventually turned to divorce, and the professor made an interesting statement. Note that this was a secular event, so there was no religious bias in the reply.

This is how the conversation went:

“So doctor, when should we suggest a divorce?”

“Never.”

“Never? Did you say never?”

“Yes, never. The person you married is the person you were supposed to marry. If you divorce and marry again, then you will marry the same person, just with a different face and a different name.”

I think that speaks for itself. I only have one thing to add. Lately I have become convinced that the family is the foundation of society. If you destroy the family, then you will eventually destroy society.

Posted in Art of Living | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

The Couch: A Look at Human Lifestyle

Posted by Peet Brits on January 7, 2009

Tempting Sofa

Tempting Sofa

I might not be posting anything anytime soon after this article as my studies started this week. (Whoohoo!) It already feels like I am behind! Now I quickly need to get this topic off my mind in order to focus. Focus comes from self-discipline, which is partly what this article is about. All right, enough advertising. Hope you enjoy my latest idea.

Introduction

Often one might notice people striving towards a goal, or living a healthy lifestyle, but as soon as they reach their aim, they abandon the good habits and relax in the comfort of it. For example, a person being fit and healthy in high school gets fat the moment they start earning their own money. Another person’s dream was to get married, and the moment they cross that milestone they start behaving in a very different manner towards their partner.

What happened? Why did it happen?

I call this idea The Couch.

How Does It Happen?

Path To Couch

Path To Couch

Consider that we are all walking along a path. This is the path of human life. We could reach two types of milestones on this journey: one of comfort and one of a challenge. Comfort represents life’s luxuries, such as your first income or a raise. Challenges represent problems, especially those seeming too big to overcome.

This is where the couch comes in. It tempts us to sit down and rest when we are not yet tired. If we fail to overcome these milestones, whether by relaxing in comfort or defeated by our challenges, we end up sitting down on the couch (hypothetically speaking). This poisonous state of rest is the danger zone that keeps us from progressing on the road of life.

Many people might still be aware of this and attempt to get up. They would try to move one, but many times all they end up doing is walking right around it and then sit back down again. Once they enter this cycle they rarely move on without a huge amount of effort or help from some external motivator.

What the Couch Is Not

The couch is not a bed. A bed is a well-determined state or rest. You sleep totally; maybe a little lazy over weekends, but then you get up and go through your regular daily activities.

With the couch, you are neither sleeping nor awake. You are in some undefined state in between. It is like watching too much television: it makes procrastination feels good. This state of neither good nor bad is the main reason for the lack of motivation to change our behaviour.

To give another example, this is probably why people find it so hard to stop smoking, even once they know it is bad for their health. It feels good and they do not see any immediate damage done by it, so there is no threat to make them change.

They Come In Different Sizes

There is not a single path passing along a single couch, rather many different paths representing different areas of our lives, and many types of couches appearing on all of them. There are smaller ones, which you can easily get up from if you tried. The medium sized ones require a lot of effort to get up from, and you have to keep yourself in check for a few months in order not to sit right back down again. The big couches are almost impossible to move away from without additional help.

The longer you sit on a couch the more hard-wired it becomes in your brain and the harder it gets to move on. Self-control is in my opinion the biggest challenge any human being could possibly face. One can enforce self-control by healthy habits and routines, but then you must be aware that it becomes easy to overindulge once we break away from these routine. Overindulgence is an enjoyable form of self-abuse, coming from excuses like “well I am on holiday”. Urges have consequences, and we should prepare ahead [1].

Observations and Tips

Before people reach the couch it would seem like they are living towards a goal, but because this goal is not concrete, not written down or well thought about, it quickly fades away over time. Enjoying every moment of life is important, but one must never do so without any concern for the future or in ignorance of the past.

Some people live in denial. I have personally heard people say that they hate something, but once the wheel of fortune turns in their favour they immediately become what they once despised. I think they actually envied it, hating not having it.

Do you think this is ironic? To be able to pretend is uniquely human [2]. No man can lie like the man lying to himself.

One thing that I learned over the last year is to stop thinking about what you should be doing, how long it is supposed to take, how nice it would be once it is done, and just do what you are supposed to be doing.  That is right, stop idle planning and JUST DO IT.

NOW!

Resources

  1. I read this tip in a 1Time airplane magazine.
  2. This is from an article in Scientific American, comparing human two-year-olds with monkeys.

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What makes time tick?

Posted by Peet Brits on December 13, 2008

[I wrote this article over a year ago, 16-Nov-2007 to be exact, and originally published it on my facebook account.  I decided to publish it again on this blog because I really like the message.]

Did you ever wonder why time passes so quickly when you are enjoying yourself?  Why does water never boil when you are staring at it?  More importantly, have you ever came to the end of a year and wonder what you did during the past year?  What happened to the time?

I noticed something interesting by comparing these last two years.  This past year went by at an amazing speed.  It still feels like yesterday when I started with my new job in March.  The previous year, on the other hand, felt like a decade.  This is not because I was bored; in fact, I probably had many more activities that year than this.

So, what is the difference?

Where did I miss out?

As I pondered over these questions, I thought of all the things I did over these two years.  What I noticed was that two years ago I had a certain event that was a highlight of every week.  My whole week would build up towards that certain activity.  This year, however, the time just seemed to pass by.  Sure, I still had fun activities every week, like my rock climbing, but somehow each moment simply dragged on into the next.

This year I also spent most of the time wondering what happened to my time.  I noticed that I spend many more hours at work and in traffic.  This is something that I plan to change in the near future.  I no longer see the point in working overtime.  It is a fact that I am far less original and inventive when overworked and tired, but that is a completely different topic altogether.

What is the point of this?

Why would I even write this if it feels like I have no time to begin with?

I am still putting together all the pieces, but it seems like one must make time count.  In a world where everyone believes time is money, I must stop and quote what I heard from a certain Jean Symons: “Love is time”.  Find what you love in life and dedicate your time to it.  I believe you will surely reap the rewards.

Quotes

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t
own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it
you can never get it back.
Harvey MacKay

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
Douglas Adams  (I couldn’t resist…)

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin

My history is like a long dark tunnel with a few lighthouses of significant events on the way.
The Textures of Silence, (my own translation)
(Thus, if you do not add the significance of passion, love, or any other strong emotion into these moments, your whole life falls into a series of events simply flowing into one another.  Then, when you look back on a year, all you see is a dark tunnel).

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Limiting Your Struggles

Posted by Peet Brits on October 5, 2008

All of us have days where our frustrations and struggles completely break our spirits. It is days like that when I begin to wonder why I did not rather become something like a Latin dance instructor. Whatever job you have, there is always some cause of frustration, and in this article I will be taking a closer look to a possible cause of this irritation.

Adding Up

Let me divide it into two sides. The first side we will label “A” and call it struggling. Struggling is something that you do that wastes time, and it becomes frustrating because the more time you spend on it the more you get the feeling that you are not getting anywhere. The frustration is magnified as it usually is something that should just work. An example would be a broken computer software installer. You need to get it working, but you cannot find out why it will not do so. The effect is usually increased by lack of knowledge and tediousness of the process.

On the other side, which we will label “B”, we have challenges. A challenge is something (usually) difficult that you need to overcome, but you are to some extend in control of what is happening and understand and see the progress. An example would be a mathematician solving a mathematical challenge. Usually, as with “A”, it is also something that you need to get done, but is sometimes also done out of sheer enjoyment.

A challenge might seem like a struggle, but it is not. The difference is that when you solve a challenge you feel good about it, but even when you eventually complete the struggle you will still want to throw your PC out of the window because of how stupid it all is.

Now we have two sides of a scale, measured by time and energy invested. The amount that side “B”, the challenges, outweighs side “A”, the struggles, is the amount of job satisfaction that the person perceives. On the other hand, when the first side “A”, the struggles, outweighs side “B”, the challenges, then it will lead to major frustrations, boredom, or even motivation to start looking for a new job.

Balancing Out

It is interesting that these two sides are very much the same. The only real difference is how it is perceived. Further, because different people have different interests, one person’s struggle is sometimes another person’s challenge. To use my example from earlier, the very mathematical problem that is a wonderful challenge for a logical person with mathematical interests will at the same time be an absolute frustration for someone else with no mathematical sense or interest.

As this is not an ideal world we sometimes need to do other people’s unfinished jobs. We need patience for this, but always remember to balance it off with something challenging or fun to maintain a healthy balance. Yes, force yourself to do so. When you notice the warning signs, immediately stop what you are doing for a while, before it is too late.

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