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Grab a chair and sit

A monkey eating and looking straight at the camera
19:00 | June 28, 2020

Grab a chair and sit

A new way on how to understanding and controlling emotions

Hi beautiful soul, I got a beautiful new inspiration today. Hope you enjoy it!

Emotions are weird things. They trick us into doing things we don’t want. As well as make us scared or angry. Yet they are part of this human experience and there is something we can learn from them. Controlling emotions might be something you want to learn, but I can tell you controlling them won’t solve anything. It will only make things worse. You don’t want to cage a wild monkey. The chair method is one that might just help you understand your emotions better. It is simple and easy to understand.

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Your emotions are weird things. Almost like little rascals running around wild in your head. My favorite analogy is with our closest relatives, the monkeys. Monkeys are wild, obnoxious, loud, and all over the place. They scream at one another then suddenly decide to climb up a tree and swing on some branch. Then go down again and smack their rival in the face. After which a fight starts and more loud noises are produced and chaos is everywhere. Still, I’ve always loved monkeys. They are weird, unpredictable, funny, and act the same as we do in a lot of ways. 

A few weeks back I was at the zoo. On my own, with my camera to take some photos of animals. I just love to photograph animals, it makes me relax and slow down to their speed. Now the monkeys are always interesting to watch and I am not the only one thinking that. There is a crowd leaning on the fence almost all the time. Watching them, laughing when they do silly things and trying to get their kids to stop crying. These animals are always interesting to watch, because they aren’t that lazy as let’s say, the lions. These are hunting animals who rest a lot of the day and then only ones or twice a day go out and hunt. In the zoo they can’t of course so, they are resting almost the entire day. Now the monkeys move throughout the entire day. There is always something to see. Always something to do or try. That is why I think they are the perfect symbolism for our emotions. 

Jawning Pandabear
Photo by Daan Uijterwaal

The obnoxious monkey

Your brain is just like a monkey. It’s not something new, a lot of people have heard this analogy. Yet never understood how they could use it. Controlling your emotions is something we like. We would love to take control of our emotions just so we can be productive and energetic at work, feel the love with our partner, happiness with friends, and pumped when exercising. Yet a lot of the time the coin ends up on the other side. Making us stressed at work, therefore annoyed with our partner, unpleasant with friends and too lazy to exercise. So we seek a way to control our emotions so the coin always falls on the right side. 

We suppress them and try to tell ourselves that we should be happy. Confirmation in front of the mirror, awkward smiling, and addictive behaviors are just a few of the things we do to change how we feel. We all want to live a happier life after all. The key here is with the monkeys. Yes, we can learn from our ancestors. No, we shouldn’t run around like crazy, swinging on branches and smacking one another in the face to show our strength. No, we can learn from them by understanding their behavior and seeing the link with our minds. Monkeys don’t care. They run around all the time and are all over the place. Except when they sleep or are fed. Then they are perfectly relaxed, peeling their fruits, eating nuts or plants. They are fully focused on the food because they have to focus on how to get to the food first. They need to peel off the banana peel. Open up the nuts or find a way to get ants out of an ant hole. 

Your emotions are just like these monkeys. All over the place, loud, obnoxious, and in your face. If something triggers them they smack you in the face to let you know they are there. Then a few minutes later it is occupied with food. Another moment you feel in love with someone. Which is quickly followed by pain because she or he declined your invitation to a diner. So the cycle goes on. One after the other emotion arises throughout the day, week, month, year, and eventually your entire life. You can’t get rid of them. Just the same as we should not get rid of all monkeys on the planet. That would, one: be crude, and two: be disastrous for the environments they live in. If you put it this way, it suddenly isn’t all that hard to understand why we can’t control or get rid of our emotions. Isn’t it? Just a simple comparison between monkeys and your emotions can do wonders. That’s also a part of the brain, understanding things. The only way a human brain can make sense of things is through comparison to what it already knows. Monkeys work the same way. The copy one another to learn new skills or behavior. So could you. 

Photo by Daan Uijterwaal

Grab a chair and sit down

Even though you might now understand how your emotions work, you still don’t understand how to work with them. It still is uncomfortable to have a lack of energy when you have to work or feel angry with your loved one. After all, you don’t want to be angry with them. It is just something that happened and you can’t control that. The first thing to understand is that by grabbing a monkey and forcefully holding it will only make the monkey go wilder. We have all seen the videos of monkeys in small cages banging the bars or running around. That’s something we should try to avoid. To not put our emotions into cages. Trying to hold them in. If you put a monkey in a cage to calm them down, they will only scream louder. Your emotions work the same way. By putting them in a cage, so you can control them, you only make the problem worse. They start to get louder and in the end, they will burst out or brake the cage. Now what? You are overwhelmed and by that, you feel horrible. 

That’s why I want to give you some advice on this. Grab a chair. One that is large enough for your monkey to sit on. Of course, this is figurative. There is no need to grab a real chair if there ain’t a real monkey in your house. The chair is meant for your monkey mind. For your emotions running everywhere. It will help to get your emotions in ‘control’. Now place that chair somewhere in your head where you think it looks nice and stylish. Allow your emotions, as they arise, to sit on it. Once they sit down let them sit for as long as they like. As well as let them leave the moment they want to leave. Just as allowing them to come when they want to come. Just keep in mind that you can just handle one at a time. After all, there is one chair to sit on. After a while, the emotions get used to this. Sitting there and just being. They don’t need to run around anymore to get your attention. They start to quiet down, slow down, and feel loved and recognized. That is all you have to do if you want to control your emotions. 

Controlling your emotions isn’t about deciding when you want to feel something. It is about allowing the emotions that arise to just be there. To not have to scream for your attention. You’ll see that emotions like anger, sadness, or fear will leave quite soon. All they needed is someone to give them attention. Someone that allowed them to be themselves. You wouldn’t like to be ignored or forced to change just because someone doesn’t like you right? So don’t do the same to your emotions. It’s sad for them. They just want to warn you or express their worries about you. Then you can just tell them it is all okay and keep going. You will see that happiness will enter the room and sit on the chair instead. That doesn’t mean the others will never come back. They just don’t stay that long. 

Pushing out anger

Now for the real-life stuff, what does that mean? Okay for example you get angry with someone. Instead of trying to control your anger and push it away, allow it to be there with you. No that doesn’t mean you should hit the other, again like the monkey smacks the other in the face. No, it just means allowing the anger to be there. The hardest part here is to not act upon the anger. Your best option is to simply tell the other you are angry and that you need some time to process it. That’s all. Than anger feels heard and after a while, it leaves. It will only stay a while if it has already been pushed away many times. Because then the anger nestled within you, rooting itself as firm as possible. Hoping to get some attention. Yet you never gave it to him and pushed him away. Sad anger. He only wanted to be heard.

Two emotions one chair

Just one more example. You feel distracted and unfocused. Yet you have a deadline in the upcoming week. Whether that is for school or work doesn’t matter. There is a deadline just around the corner. Now that deadline kinda scares you and makes you feel fearful. That is the first emotion to allow in. Allow it to sit on the chair and give it some attention. Just before letting in distraction. You see what I normally did with these cases was both let in fear and distraction at the very same time. Only there was just one chair so they were fighting over it. So my emotions would go from fear for the deadline to unfocused because I felt fear, to fear again, and so on. Allowing two emotions in your brain at the same time can become stressful. Yet it sometimes happens and that is just the way life is. I want you to understand that all I just said is something that won’t be perfect. It never will. You will not always be so focused on the chair method. You at times forget it and push some emotions away or allow multiple to come in at ones. That’s just fine. Don’t blame yourself for it, because blame is an emotion as well. Just start over. Grab the chair and make your emotions sit down again. There is no one golden ticket to this. It needs practice and understanding that you can’t be perfect. Just remember that you are doing fine, that you are doing your best to make all your emotions feel loved. That you are doing your best to control them. 

So next time you realize two emotions are in at the same time. Ask one to just wait outside for a minute. Then focus on one emotion and when that emotion is fulfilled and leaves. You can let in the other one. If you feel distracted and fearful at the same time. First, allow fear to sit on the chair. Let is speak and comfort it. Then let distraction come into the room. It will see that the thing that made him come in the first place, which was fear, has left. So there is no need for him to be there and he almost instantly leaves. Then you are left with yourself and you can focus on your deadline again. 

These things take some time. Some emotions take longer to leave and that is all completely fine. It’s more about understanding these emotions and comforting them instead of trying to go through them as quickly as possible. After all, emotions are what make us human. That connects us and they are here for us to learn from. 

If you liked hearing about emotions, it is something I am really into you should for sure keep on eye on the blog. I will be sharing more about emotions as long as I keep writing. You can keep up with the blog by either subscribing to the email list, which automatically gives you a free gratitude calendar or you can follow me over on Instagram or Pinterest. I’ll let you know when a new post is up over there. I want to thank you for reading or listening and if you love it feel free to share it with others. For now, thank you don’t forget to grow and experience life. Remember that Today You Lived!

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About me

Today I lived is a three word quote that reminds me and you to live. To enjoy this life and look for the sunshine in your day! Cause “beauty is everywhere”

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7 Tips to improve your focus at home

Glasses on a book
19:00 | May 31, 2020

7 Tips to improve focus

Simple things to do to improve your focus at home

Hi beautiful soul, I got a beautiful new inspiration today. Hope you enjoy it!

You are probably working from home, attending school from home or just working for yourself in the comfort of your own home. Anyway we have to sit home a lot, that doesn’t mean we should be lazy and do nothing. I have had a lot of struggles with focussing on my work these are 7 unusual tips that will help you!

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At about seven in the morning, the alarm would go off. Jay gets up at this time every morning. He dresses, goes to the bathroom and splashes some damn cold water in his face. “Woeeww I am awake” He would say. Then he packed his bag for school. His laptop, water bottle, chargers, and a book to read while commuting from home to school. Going downstairs he grabbed his shoes and put everything nicely on the kitchen table. Then it was time for breakfast. Your standard yogurt, fruit, and granola combination. He’d eat it and then go poop for about 15 minutes because taking your phone to the bathroom means that it becomes a dangerous time-wasting device. After a few minutes, his leg would start to tingle and that was his cue to get up. He’d brush his teeth after of course washing his hands and then grab his bag, shoes, and coat and cycle to the train station. He had done that for well over half of the last three years. Day in day out. Except for the vacations, of course, that time he spends in his bed to about 9 am. 

After doing this for about 600 days, which is about three years of school things started to change. The first three years of his school were easy on him. It was just like doing your job day in day out. He followed the rules and after school would spend some time doing what he loved. Which was painting and writing poems. He wanted to become a professional painter at that time. The rest of his spare time was spent playing video games with Tha Boyz. Yup, that’s what he called them. Because he loved painting and poems so much he started to dislike school more each year. So when he had to choose what to do in his final year he didn’t know. He decided to follow a half-year course on writing skills. That would massively improve his storytelling capabilities. That just wasn’t meant to happen yet. The thing he wanted to follow so damn badly was closed already. So what to do next? It was almost the end of the year and all other options were closed already. Okay fuck, this means I was gonna have to take half a year off. No school. 

“Wait a minute,” Jay thought, that doesn’t sound as bad. I could focus on painting and becoming better at it. He set out to write down his intentions for that upcoming half year. Which where: become better at painting and earning money with it. Wow, good job Jay very clear goals. That was sarcasm. These were unrealistic goals and completely unclear on what to do. Jay thought differently and started just as he would normally. On his first day of school, or rather the day when everyone else continued school he got up at seven. His alarm clock had woken him up. This time, he smashed it to oblivion trying to stop it. “Let me snooze it for about half an hour. There is no big rush on getting up right now. I can do whatever I want!” So the story goes. Each day he would get up later. By the end of the first week, his schedule had completely changed. He got up at nine sometimes even at ten and then go down in his sweatpants to eat breakfast and watch YouTube videos till about twelve. Then he would have lunch, but… he had promised himself to focus on important things in the afternoon. 

He ate lunch and watched an episode of his favorite show, chefs table, on Netflix. Then clean up the dishes and go attend to his ‘important work’. “What exactly might that be?” He asked himself. In his drive to focus on ‘getting there,’ jay forgot to write down specific goals. The entirety of the next half year he spend doing absolutely fucking nothing. He sat on every couch and chair in the house watching YouTube video’s on how to earn money online. He would then try one method for just a second and got distracted again by the shiny red icon on his home screen. At the end of his half-year off he looked back. There where only five weeks left until his next semester would start, and what had he done? NOTHING! None of his goals become true and he felt shit. The next five weeks he wanted to focus but couldn’t. He couldn’t think of anything but his failure. He was so furious on himself that he started to blame others for his own mistakes. After all, they had made him lousy, unfocused, and lazy. 

Skip forward about half a year and he would be on top of his game. Not working productively but effectively. Starting his workday at 10 ending it at 4 or 5 and then continue to work on his projects. It had finally worked out for him. He started on his long-awaited project to create a book full of poems and he started to look less at his goal of earning money and focused more on the art of painting. He wanted to become a master at it. 

This fucking dude was me. Not complete of course. I can’t paint nor am I a good poet. I did start creating a book, only on the topic of gratitude. I called him Jay because I didn’t want you to think of me at first. I intended to write this story just as an example for you. I didn’t want to be this vulnerable and show my bad qualities of the last year. Then I thought to myself, nope I am gonna say that this story is about me. I want you to see that everybody is beautiful yet has his ugly sides as well. A lot has changed over the last months, I learned my lesson from doing absolutely nothing all day long and got back on track. When I then heard so many people struggled with getting to their projects I decided why not share my personal story. So I have gone through the same struggles as you did. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I want to give you some ways to maybe learn from me instead of making the same mistakes. I have divided them into three useful ‘yet overly accounted for’ tips and three extremely useful ‘yet less accounted for’ tips. 

cassiano-psomas-BIQqTZjG-zA-unsplash
Photo by Cassiano Psomas on Unsplash

Three highly useful 'yet overly accounted' tips:

1. Get out of your bed

As you can probably tell from the story my morning routine was great. I got up early and took the time to eat breakfast and sit on the toilet for more than 15 minutes. Perfect morning routine don’t you think? Well, when I had to do it on my own it turned out to be awful. How could you sustain something that is not making you happy? You just go through it unconsciously. So I decided to change some things. I still get up at 7 am, yet I decide to always put on fresh clothes and splash some cold water in my face. After that, I would make breakfast and sit down with it. No phone has been touched at this point. I just simply sit there and eat my delicious porridge. Then after finishing my breakfast I am allowed to finally touch my phone. I still sit on the toilet way too long and often grab my phone before finishing breakfast but that’s completely okay. Then after doing my thing there I move on to reading about twenty pages a day. There it ends. I make myself a cup of coffee and then start to work on my book and blog. 

Oh, by the way, I would highly recommend getting ungrounded coffee beans, a grinder and a French press to make your coffee. The taste of freshly grounded beans is nothing compared to filter or machine-made coffee!

Crafting a routine that you both love and motivates you has proven to be essential to getting shit done. 

2. Craft your ACHIEVABLE To-Do list

The second thing that is incredibly powerful is a To-Do list. It’s such an easy tool. You can write it on a piece of paper or download one of these nifty apps. I love using TickTick, just because I can schedule task per day and have a build-in habit tracker. It doesn’t matter what you use, just try to find your way of doing this. There is one catch to it. Write it so you can ACHIEVE it. Take that in for a second. ACHIEVE. Don’t be like ‘go hard or go home me’ that wanted to achieve the world in only half a year. Write a to-do list of small individual tasks. Don’t go beyond more than 2 big tasks a day. It just doesn’t work to do more than that. It will either make you go insane out of pure anxiety of not finishing it or make you go nuts and not start at all. Both have no benefit to your productivity or health. 

So craft one that you can achieve. Make it as simple as 4 tasks you know you can finish before noon. Yes, only 4 things. If you can tick those boxes before twelve it means there is so much time for you left that you can not resist but do more. Well most of us. Some will take this advice way too literally and just do four tasks which consist of: making breakfast, going upstairs, sitting down on my chair, and looking at my screen. Those are four things everyone can do. Yet they don’t benefit your productivity nor effectiveness. So get those suckers off your list and start doing some real work. Start small and build up to a larger to do. 

3. Work towards something you are passioned about

The last one that is kinda obvious, but that is hard to neglect is working on something you are passionate about. Now I don’t mean that you should just quit your job if you are not passionate about it. I mean that you should take time out of your day to work on this. Especially if you work on it at the end of your day. That way you are working towards something you love. For example, if you work for a law-business and absolutely hate the job because you want to become a gardener then spend just a few hours a day, maybe even at work on gardening. Because no one actually spends his full 8-hour workday on working for the business. You browse through the internet at times or talk to your colleagues. Then just take half an hour of that at google places to work as a gardener. Next to that try to work on it once your home. Create a mini garden or just work in the garden you already have. It’s an easy fix to getting more energy out of the day. 

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Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Three highly useful ‘yet not mentioned often’ tips:

4. Watch a YOU CAN DO IT NOW video also known as motivational videos

If the satisfaction of ticking off boxes doesn’t make you more effective and focused then this might help. If I ever feel like not doing a damn thing and clicking one after the other ‘recommended YouTube video’, I decide to watch one of these. A motivation video. One of those a bit cheesy video’s where famous people who build up million dollar companies from scratch scream or talk loudly. Those are the kind of things that will get your ass fired up. You will find your heart lighting up knowing that it is damn powerful and you start writing one after the other essay for school. Trust me this is freaking powerful. 

5. Schedule not doing anything

Normally people would tell you to schedule your time to go hard and work on your dreams. I like to think of this differently. Try to schedule the time when you can be your lazy fucking self. We all have this characteristic within ourselves. At times that demon of laziness comes out and tries to lure you into doing nothing. The best way to help him is to give him a schedule when to come out. That way the demon can rest during the day, leaving you alone. You can go hard at school and feel focused. Then, let’s say 4 pm, that demon is allowed to come out till 7 pm. Viola, there it is. Your demon of laziness. Perfectly satisfied with only coming out of its cave for about three hours. There is nothing wrong with him, you will find him quite useful. He kinda feels relaxing. So try to schedule your off time instead of your on time. Sound counter-intuitive, just try it. 

6. Don’t look at others

Don’t you dare compare yourself to someone else? Your beautiful as you are. I don’t just call you a beautiful soul for no reason, right? You carry all the skills and powers within yourself to start doing it. It’s okay to look at others for inspiration or go through self-development videos or blogs to learn something new. Just don’t forget that it is more about implementing that knowledge than just getting it in there. I love that you are listening or reading this story, but I hope that after this you start to implement it instead of going on to the next video or blog post. 

I know that can be hard because you will be lured into one after the other post. The titles of some of these videos are just to catching to dismiss. What I am trying to say is, just try to love the other for their progress or ability to focus. Then take what you love from them and implement it. Don’t let it bring you down because you aren’t there yet. You will be, only it will take you the same amount of time falling and getting back up again. 

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Photo by yns plt on Unsplash

Last tip

7. Sit the fuck down

Yes, sit down. Not the entire day of course but sit down and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just stare at a wall, a flower, the ground, a picture, or the calendar on the toilet, you probably spend 15 minutes on their anyway. I can’t be the only one to do that right? 

I am not kidding just sit for 5 minutes a day. Quietly observing everything happening around you. The word meditation has a ‘woshy washy’ sound to it. Although I adore that, some might find it scary to even attempt or just find it plain stupid. “Who would want to be with their thought anyways? That won’t change anything!” It might not, at the same time it might as well. You don’t know. The key to meditation is the act of sitting down and doing nothing. Calming the mind. Now that is something we can all appreciate. If you want to focus that means that all the outside distractions and voices inside your head should just hone down on one individual task. Not at a million at the same time. 

If you want to read a book thoughts like “did I close the door behind me? or what shall I eat tonight?” are not useful at all. They distract you from reading and in that means from being here with your attention. Not doing anything forces you do focus on these thoughts and just allow them to flow. In the end, if all the thoughts have been gone through your head there is nothing for you to think of anymore. You have just answered all of their questions. You now know that you closed the door and you decided to eat taco’s tonight. Well great, that is two fewer thoughts. There might come up a few more and that is okay. Just answer them and let them leave again. 

Now you have all the tips I can share with you. Go and focus on what you adore! “You still can’t focus?” you say. What? Why not? I just gave you all the tips I have for you. Okay, I get it, this is the final thing I will add to the list. It’s not a tip but something you should take into every aspect of your life. 

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own!” ~ Bruce Lee

The thing is I as well as so many other individuals on the internet can give you list after list of how to developer yourself. Yet you will not get any better if you don’t make it your own. If you just take everything from the other person you will try to become the other person. Instead, try to mix what you love about the other person with what you hate about yourself. Then you can discard the things you lacked and kept the things you loved about yourself. You could love to make a better to-do list and feel that is the best way for you to focus better. That doesn’t mean you should also use the other six tips. Just take that one and implement it within your life. 

Absorb what is useful and discard what is useless. It’s simple yet the most effective way to become a more effective human being. With these tips or at least one of them I can assure you, you will not be that lazy prick, Jay (or me), at the beginning of the story.  

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to the email list!

Do you want to be notified when I upload a new blog post, get extra stories or get my monthly gratitude calendar? Then you should subscribe to my emailing list. 

About me

Today I lived is a three word quote that reminds me and you to live. To enjoy this life and look for the sunshine in your day! Cause “beauty is everywhere”