I stepped out of my journal routine lately and with it lost the grip on my steering wheel. I let myself go with the current. It felt great to let go, relax and just enjoy a few days. It felt so human to just be and focus on being with people. I found a new motto, which is not really new to me yet I never had it so present and felt so strongly about it before:
To live is to love. To live is to feel.
It means many things to me. It’s a form of saying carpe diem - to enjoy the moment. To love myself, what I am doing, my weaknesses and flaws. To be aware about my feelings, appreciate and express them. It’s also how I see relationships. By spending a few days among girlies I also shifted my ideal of friendship toward it. Meaningful friendships are formed by a genuine interest to get to know each other deeply, by showing care and safety to express whatever is on your mind. Friendships are about sharing feelings - yes, this also applies to boys! My guy friendships all lack on this. I have the impression that girls have deeper connection and understanding for this reason. Nevertheless I also appreciate the side of my male friends, since all this emotion stuff can also get quite heavy.. ;)
Another epiphany was to realize the importance of emotions even outside of friendships. Emotions make us human and they catch our interest. Think about it. All types of entertainment: movies, shows, music are aimed to talk to our emotions. Hardly anything dull speaks to us. A great idea or insight can be exciting, but when something is dull you will probably lose focus and interest way before you might find an insight.
Days ago, I enjoyed a great talk on building a blockchain. It was a difficult topic and a bit too fast paced. Yet the talk was so fun. I wondered what it was and realized the key was the speakers liveliness. He was attentive about the audience, encouraged questions, had a very chill and casual speaking style, dropped some humor here and there and gave lively examples. He was very confident and yet humble and kind. Besides, attracting our attention emotions also play an important role in forming strong memories, yes also learning. My point is that sharpening awareness of your own and others feelings is immensely helpful even when the matter is evidently not about emotions.
The role of feelings also made me come to another realization. I used to be very purpose driven. All I did ought to serve a purpose: get work done, develop skills, learn something new, maintain health, show gratitude..
But not everything needs an objective. I should not feel the need for a purpose to call my parents or to connect with a friend. The body is not designed to always work and “be productive”. It’s good to remind myself that a fulfilled life is one balanced with objective meaning (work, skills) and emotional meaning (love, friends, humor, fun activities). I want to be more aware to connect emotionally: Show love, to observe and understand their feelings, to get to know yourself better. Be playful by saying something bold and unconventional. Act foolish once in a while. Play with your tone. Show emotions. If you are excited, show it. If you are disappointed, in grieve, show it. But being emotionless is unattractive. Be anything but boring.
So this is my new maxim to live by. Yet putting it into practice is hard and I asked myself what is hindering me. At times, I am already living up to my ideals. Through stoicism I got more appreciate about life. I have deepened some of my friendships. At times, I show affection with my family and am engaged and curious to understand and learn about them. Sometimes, I give compliments and show gratitude. Sometimes, I am enthusiastic, courageous and not afraid to make a fool of myself.
But at other times I am thoughtless and feel disconnected. I realize that this happens when I struggle with my emotions and have too many things in my head. This would also explain why meditation and time alone are so helpful. I see that working drains my energy and isolates me from the world. Why? It requires focus, i.e. it suppresses my emotions and always leaves me with open problems. This closed loop of never being done might make me feel overwhelmed. The solution? I hope that awareness helps to step out of this state and to make myself take time to refill energy through meditation and exercise.
I am also highly sensitive to information in that it stirs up my mind and prevents me from focus and being present. My protective measures are to put my phone away and get time in the morning to just think for myself without any input or stimuli. Meditation is also great to reset the mind but nothing is better than sleep. I need this thinking time to set my intentions for the day.
Whenever I have distracting thoughts or stirred up emotions that I do not talk about, I get into safe mode. I act conventional, don’t take much space, am nice and mostly a listener. Safe mode was the default for most of my childhood so it’s hard to unlearn. In this mode I was accepted by almost everyone and never got into trouble. But it also prevented deep connection. The bad thing about safe mode is that it is undirected. It is really just comfort for the moment.
Comfort for more than a moment is bad because it compromises higher priorities. All of value in life is hard and takes effort. So I challenge myself to fully live up to my new motto.