The Daily Teacher Podcast – Episode 9 – This Too Shall Pass

In today’s podcast, I talk about those really horrible days where everything seems to go wrong…and some strategies to deal with them.

Listen to the podcast in mp3:

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Follow me:

Twitter: @thedailyteacher
Blog: http://www.thedailyteacher.com

Some important stuff:

Intro Music: “Take a Chance” from Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. Released: 2013.

Outro Music: “DarxieLand” from Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. Released: 2013.

Check out Kevin’s other music at http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/collections.php

Kindred Spirits

I have the pleasure of meeting a lot of different people in my every day. I work with a lot of different people from different organizations. I socialize as often as I can, and that leads to new connections. No matter how many people I meet, there are always those who stand out as “kindred spirits”.

These are people who come into your life, sometimes at random, othertimes not so much, whom you have an almost instant connection with. You are comfortable around them, you enjoy talking to them, you’re genuinely curious what they have to say (and they, you), and there is just a general sense of friendship even before those ties have truly been forged through the experience of time. You may see these people here or there, but each interaction is truly a delight and leaves you energized, happy, and perhaps a part of something greater than yourself.

These kindred spirits are rare. They come and go, but when they do, I’ve noticed how radiantly they stand out. There’s just a naturalnesss that comes with the interaction with them as you share stories, experiences, hopes and dreams. Its like we are all little puzzle pieces, and a kindred spirit is a person who fits next to us in the grand puzzle board of life.

When you find a kindred spirit, you’ll know. And it is important to pause, appreciate that natural connection, and help it flourish when you can.

Our lives are busy and we come across many hundreds of people in our day to day. But every once in a while, a kindred spirit comes along and stands out in your life, even if only for a small fraction of time. Cherish those times, cherish these people. They’re rare, and they make life absolutely delightful.

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Kindness in Rage

I had a recent experience where someone was absolutely frustrated and angry and hurting. As the nearest person in the area, that anger became directed towards me. At first, I felt my own frustrations rising (just further proof that these negative emotions can be quite contagious).

But realizing that returning the anger would only increase the source of the anger even more, I decided a different tactic. I listened. I replied with good intention. I demonstrated I understood their pain, and their hurt. And despite a bit of pushback, I kept being kind to them.

It worked. Within a few minutes, the anger had subsided and the person was feeling much more calm. They were very appreciative of my response, and I was grateful that I hadn’t just inflamed the situation.

I’m going to keep an eye out for opportunities to combat negative emotions with kindness, and see how well it works in other areas as well. Looking forward to it.

Getting Away

Over the long weekend, I had the chance to go up to a cottage. It was 2 hours away from the city, surrounded by trees, surrounded by farmland. In essence, it was in the middle of nowhere. And that was a great thing.

The drive up there was very relaxing a half hour out of the city. There were green and yellow pastures as far as the eye could see, gorgeous white puffy clouds against a backdrop of sky blue, and the air just kept getting crisper and cleaner as I went.

Having the chance to sit at the cottage outside, things were different compared to my time in my backyard. The air flowing through many trees created the perfect white noise, a calm hiss like waves against a beach. When it began to rain, you could hear the rain approaching as the drops on the leaves would get louder and louder. Sitting and reading for several hours in this area, with its clean air, surrounded by nature, was nothing short of refreshing.

Then, driving back late at night, I found myself becoming even more relaxed. There was hardly any civilization to worry about. It was just me, my car, the moon, and the silent whir of the motor. It was a fundamentally different experience driving up at night than in the city. No distractions. No lights. Just calm, tranquility. The solitude provides an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself.

I hope you had a chance to get away from it all. If you haven’t, you should. You may find parts of yourself that you lost.

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Why so Frustrated?

Just yesterday I had received a nasty email from a lawyer. As I read through it, I could feel my blood boiling. I wanted to hit “REPLY” and give them a piece of my mind. But since I started writing again, whenever I find myself getting emotionally reactive, I am curious to find out “WHY?”. It has served me well so far.

Why ask “WHY?”? There are a few benefits I can think of:

  1. It immediately places a bit of distance between you and reacting. The process of thinking about this could very well give you enough time to cool down a bit.
  2. Emotions are natural. Anger, frustration, hurt, these are all normal. Trying to understand them can help us uncover the reasons why we do things, which can help us react better in the future.
  3. Looking for the reasons why we do things triggers our pre-frontal cortex. Rather than looking at things as simply ‘just the way they are’, we treat it like a problem that should be solved. It’s a puzzle, and there’s a bigger picture that needs uncovering. This too could give the necessary space from the problem and the emotion allowing us to deal with it with grace.
  4. By shining the spotlight on yourself, instead of the subject of your anger, you give yourself the chance to grow and to improve. There is no limit to how much we can improve, and the only person we need to best is the person we were yesterday.

So the next time you feel yourself growing angry, or frustrated, and want to lash out, pause and ask “WHY?” to try to uncover the reason why something triggered that reaction within you. Responding to these situations with calm, grace, self-awareness, and self-love/care not only makes the situation better, but it makes us better humans overall.

Changes in an Instant

With the hurricane happening in Texas, I’ve turned my attention to the people down south who are suffering. Up here where I am, everything is dry, cool, crisp. When I put myself in the shoes of the people currently in the hurricane, it makes me realize a fundamental truth: life can change in an instant.

Maybe it’s a hurricane. Maybe your house gets robbed. Maybe a loved one dies. Maybe you are diagnosed with cancer. The point is that in an instant, EVERYTHING can change. What creature comforts you once had may suddenly become unhelpful. Things you enjoyed, may no longer be accessible. People you love, may no longer be around.

Writing this, it can be difficult not to feel depressed with the fragility of life. The fact that things can change so quickly to something so much worse could feed the pessimism in the optimism of most people.

But what if you looked at it another way…What if you looked at it as a way to value everything and everyone you have in the here and now? What if you paused, right now, looked around you at the people in your life and the things you have, and simply realized how fortunate you are to have those things.

What if rather than pessimism, you were filled with gratefulness? I think that’s the more important lesson here, to be grateful for the things we do have, and to really appreciate them.

Take time to slow down when you eat food.

Listen and love the people who matter in your life.

Marvel at every day objects.

Appreciate every moment and the things/people in that moment. Because in another moment, all of that could change.

Solitude

When was the last time you sat in complete solitude? In our day and age, everyone is constantly connected. Connectivity is great: it is convenient, it helps us keep in touch, and it gives us a sense of something greater than ourselves. But in excess, it has its downsides too: we become dependent, or addicted to constant connectivity, we are forced to remain plugged in, and we don’t get a chance to slow down in our lives.

I had the opportunity to sit in solitude yesterday. My bag was torn so I decided to sew it back together. In the half hour I was trying to do this, I sat alone in my living room. There was no social media, there was no music. Just me and the world around me. Sewing became a form of mindful meditation, each thread of the needle, each poke of the bag, each pull of the needle.

Emerging from the other side, I had a repaired bag, but also a newfound appreciation for the value of solitude. I’m an extrovert and so I value connections and find myself energized by interactions with people…but there was something wonderful being energized by the simple act of being in my own presence, doing something.

Many think that solitude can be lonely. Like many things, in excess its not a good thing. Solitude can be an opportunity to find yourself.

Give it a shot. Set some time aside to just be by yourself, with no distractions.

Not to worry. The world will still be there when you choose to connect again.

Overcoming Writer’s Block – Talking it Out

Last night I was sitting at my desk, wanting to create. There had been plenty of time for Netflix, for work, for social media, and relaxing. Now I wanted to produce. The creative process was calling out to me. But when I sat down to write something, I hit a complete blank. I stared at the screen, nothing coming to me.

After a few moments, I realized that I wasn’t having a dialogue the way I normally do with my ideas. So I started asking questions. What do I want to write about? Something about humans? Sci-fi? Philosophy? When I settled on writing something sci-fi, I started asking myself some basic questions:

  1. What is the world in this story like?
  2. Who are the key players? Why are they the way they are?
  3. What are the rules of this world?
  4. What is the major conflict or problem that needs resolving?

Those questions got the creative juices flowing.

An hour later, I was talking to my partner about some of the ideas. Telling her about them helped me flesh out this world even more. Then she started asking some questions I hadn’t even thought of. This was perfect. Answering those questions helped flesh this world out even more.

And then she and I started talking about the world, about the characters, and the more we talked, the more excited I became, the more inspired I was. Talking it out with her had sparked the creative energy that may have been missing. We had a great exchange of ideas, and her questions helped fill in the blanks perfectly. Our dialogue was exactly what I needed.

My point in writing this is that sometimes throughout the creative process, the roadblocks we face are created by ourselves. Sometimes we’re able to break through them by asking ourselves questions but the creative energy still doesn’t come back in full force.

During these moments, I’ve learned to talk out some ideas with someone. The exchange of information, being able to explain to them what it is I am writing about, and answering their questions can help spark the creative process yet again.

This isn’t surprising. I’ve found that some of my best ideas didn’t happen in a vacuum, but when I was interacting with someone. Having an outside voice can help trigger the internal elements that result in the creative flow of ideas.

What are your experiences with writer’s block?

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