fear and intuition

I can’t remember when I exactly realised how much fear was dictating my life. It wasn’t a revelation as much as the result of patiently fitting tiny puzzle pieces of life together and guessing what the overall picture was. Either way, somehow about a year ago it became clear to me that most of my choices and life decisions were driven by fear. Fear explained why it took me about 4 months to plan a holiday, as well as several excel sheets with pros and cons for hotels and excursions. Fear was the reason I decided I didn’t want a serious relationship ever ever again. Fear was the reason I was always more comfortable baking cakes, where the instructions are detailed and clear and remove uncertainty, than free-style cooking with random ingredients.

Actually, the road to my slow epiphany was through ‘gut feel‘.

I’m on a lifelong quest to happiness. This manifests in me greedily reading every book on the topic and attempting every exercise statistically proven to increase happiness. Most of them are actually quite relaxing and come to me quite easily, such as dancing or practicing gratitude. But the one that I just couldn’t do, no matter how hard I tried, was trusting my instinct.

All the mindfulness books and happiness experts tell you to trust your instinct. They claim that somewhere, deep inside you, is a well of wisdom that somehow ‘knows’. Knows whether you should trust person A, take job B or decide what to eat on restaurant menu C. I tried listening to this inner voice. I tried while meditating. I tried while writing. I tried while getting tipsy. I expected the voice to speak clearly and give simple instructions, but I only heard silence. I concluded that I must be more shallow than average and not have an inner wise women after all.

But somehow, gradually, I noticed myself making rather ‘rash’ decisions. At first it felt like being disorganised and uncaring. Going on holidays in 2 weeks and still not having booked a hotel? Foolish! But I just told myself ‘what’s the worse that can happen?’ and went with the flow. And I had a GREAT time. Comforted by the fact that this new attitude was saving me a lot of the time I would normally have spent obsessing, I started applying the ‘what’s the worse that can happen?’ attitude to the rest of my life. More holidays without having prepared the schedule to the minute. New extracurricular activities. Sports, performing, bragging about myself at work. Before I knew it, I was swimming next to a whale shark.

I started to notice that shutting down my brain was basically the way to find my intuition. As opposed to thinking ‘I need to find my gut feeling‘, not thinking is the way to go.

Sure, I’ll never be the devil-may-care, sky-diving, not-knowing-where-the-next-pay-check-comes-from type of person. But I am no longer the stay-at-home, obsessively-plan-every-scenario, can’t-decide-anything-without-excel type of person either. And that is something my inner wise woman feels very good about.

Facebook and happiness

I’ve read many studies that suggest that social media makes people less focused and unhappy.

Researchers usually are unable to explain why but some of the theories they hazard are around the fact that:

– virtual relationships are not as warm and fuzzy as ‘real’ ones

– fear of missing out accentuates our natural envious ‘the grass is greener’ unhappiness

– the speed at which your streams get new content makes your mind jump from one topic to the next and leaves you unable to concentrate.

I disagree.

As someone who can be moody and never enjoyed the telephone, I have developed warm, fuzzy relationships with many people purely thanks to social networks. Because I decide when I engage and what I read, I’m able to stay away from humans on my werewolf days, and be a (hopefully) supportive friends when I have the energy. It’s also easier for me to share my emotions in my facebook status than to vocalize them aloud, and I must say that looking for the right word to describe how I feel at this moment has helped me get more in touch my emotions.

The fear of missing out aspect is an interesting one. I make a conscious effort to only share positive or constructive, debatable facts and opinions on social networks. This is on one hand because I don’t want my web history to show a life of grumpy posts, but also because I think there aren’t enough positive news facts or comments in my life. I want my stream to be a source of happiness for those who chose to friend or follow me. And by forcing myself to find the positive for my facebook friends, I find the positive all around me. And I realize that I’m continuously practicing gratefulness and mindfulness. The sunrise this morning, which on a busy day like today I would have ignored, became something beautiful enough for me to spend a few min to share with my posse. I find myself thinking less negative thoughts and finding the beauty and pleasure in all the little things.

So facebook has made me a happier person.

On the last aspect – concentration – well, I do have the attention span of a goldfish, but maybe jumping from one happy topic to one brilliant idea to one interesting article is not the worse way to live, is it?