maandag 24 januari 2011

Use the willpower wisely

Today I watched a thirty minute video by the RSA on how to become slightly happier - somewhat reluctantly.

I stumbled upon the RSA through a friend.

What is the RSA actually, I wondered after sitting out the vid.

For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.


The title of this vid has been sitting in my iGoogle for over a week now. I felt reluctant to watch it, because, well, didn't Smile or Die, a brilliantly illustrated column by Barbara Ehrenreich tell me all I needed to know about positive thinking? And BTW, who did that brilliant animating?

Also, I felt reluctant because, well: I have been on this quest before. If searched for directly, the holy grail of happiness will keep eluding us knights.

However: today I am in need of guidance. And will happily jump into Internet's chaos fresh. Not expecting any holy grail, but knowing anything I do will be a step on my quest to find my purpose. In other words: I am stuck and will try to blog my way through.

Now that I sat through the longish video, I will share with you what I took away from Oliver Burkeman's research (in random order):
* writing down problems
* micro goals
* mindfulness
* willpower is depletable

If you write down your problems, this will help you. You will be able to distance yourself from them and find new perspective (e.g. blogging my way through).

Micro goals: Burkeman carries with him a kitchen timer (keukenwekker) at all times. If he has to do something, but keeps procrastinating: he will work at it for just 2 minutes a day. He showed his kitchen timer, during the lecture he did actually carry it in his pocket. I am still wondering however, how this tip could work for me. I like the idea of downsizing seemingly insurmountable projects/problems to digestable bits, however.

Mindfulness meditation: take time out regularly to consider your situation, your problems, your life. Look at what's going on, look at what you do not want to look at, accept that it is there and that you may not want to look at it, and most of all: acknowledge that you may want to change something, but you may not be able to. Stop trying to feel happy, upbeat, chipper etc. Stop trying to feel different than you do. Look, feel, experience what you are and who you are without trying to be something or someone else. Accept that you may want to be something else, but stop trying to for just a moment - only observe. Well, this one is very helpful I think, but can be hard. Maybe here's where the timer comes in? Try the meditation for just 30 seconds?

Because (this one I really love) Burkeman states: willpower is depletable. If you make yourself go to the gym early in the morning, you may have depleted all your willpower for the day, and may not be able to resist that cheeseburger and fries for lunch. Burkeman says this has been proven in many research efforts. This is an eye-opener to me: I guess I thought willpower trainable, like a muscle: the more you exert it, the stronger it becomes. It also explains why you may feel so tired from doing nothing. Maybe you've been exhausting your willpower reserves restraining from all kinds of things that you would really love to do?

Finally, one more seemingly unrelated remark: Leidenschaft. I have started reading of late. Or would it be more accurate to say: I quit restraining myself from reading? I fell completely in love with Franziska Stalmann's Annas Mann. With her writing, the german language, with the way her main character lives. One of the descriptive words on the back of the book is Leidenschaft. I have been wondering what it means and the word keeps coming back to me. I feel it has to do with my pursuit of happiness. Another piece to the puzzle. To be continued. I'll start by reading this Wikipedia description.

1 opmerking:

  1. Great piece! I am so glad that you came to visit and that you seem to still be a seeker; stay connected please!!! Hugs! Vanessa xxoo

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