On Paradigms…

We are all born with a specific set of rules ingrained in us. Some are genetically written, others are environmentally derived. These rules form the patterns and models we grow to live by, our paradigms.

You might have heard of the expression “paradigm shift”. This is the phenomenon of experiencing a fundamental change in your paradigm. In order to make an impactful change in your life, it is imperative to first recognize, then address, the paradigm you hold. How can you do this?

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On Judgment…

“Do not be the judge of people; do not make assumptions about others. A person is destroyed by holding judgments about others.” – Gautama Buddha

We all face (and, let’s be honest, dish out) judgment every day. What matters is not the judgment itself, although we can often learn something from it. What matters is how we react to it. If we let it get under our skin without cultivating any lesson from it, we lose. We don’t generate any luck by feeling insulted. For the record, we also do not generate any luck by judging others.

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On Fear…

In The Alchemist, Coelho writes: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”

This was proven true to me by my two little Pomeranians, Mocha (female) and Twix (male). Yes, we have a thing for naming our dogs after our favourite treats. Mocha has always been tentative and fearful. Despite the fact that her breed is well recognized for surprisingly high bunny hops and the zoomies, Mocha prefers to remain very snuggly attached to mother earth. It can take her a full 5 minutes to muster up the courage to jump up a small step, and she often resolves to roll up in a ball and cry until we pick her up.

1.5 years into having Mocha, we adopted her half-brother, Twix. Polar opposite to his sister, Twix fully embraces performing the high jump. He has lept up and jumped off furniture so high that I’ve dropped my jaw in a high-pitched soul shuddering shriek as my heart shattered, certain that my beautiful puppy has tumbled down to a concussion, or to his demise. Contrary to my expectation, he has always come hopping back up with not a care in the world.

Mocha gets injured much more frequently than Twix, although she leaps less than a tenth of the distance.

In this way, my dogs have shown me that there is no greater obstacle to success than fear. Overthinking about what could possibly go wrong causes us to take shorter leaps, and results in more frequent injuries because it deters from our focus.

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On Thoughts…

You’ve probably heard the expression “you are what you eat.” This is logical… if we eat well, we become healthier, proactive and energetic. If we eat badly, well… garbage in, garbage out!

Let’s take this a step further. Did you know that you are also what you think? Thoughts are invisible to the naked eye… nobody can see or hear them (or so we hope!). What if I told you that, over time, these thoughts have such a profound impact and manifest so clearly in our lives that they might as well be put on a display buffet, spotlights blazing? Scary and a little disarming, isn’t it?

I didn’t come up with this idea. I grew up listening to my parents’ stories and advice that pointed to it: “if you think you can do it, you will,” and “what you think, you become”. I connected the dots much later in adulthood when I started recognizing the dramatic shifts in my luck relative to my state of mind. This encouraged me to read more about the power of thought. Our thoughts shape our characters, behaviors and habits, so why is it so far-fetched to believe that they also shape our luck?

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On Rest…

Depending on your cultural background, the words that you associate with past decades would probably elicit nods of appreciation and laughter from people who share the same memories. If you come from an unfortunate history, these key words could also elicit dread and sadness.

As the world becomes more globalized, the dominant notes that come out of the international business language in the 21st century are… you guessed it… “Everything’s good, it’s been very very busy!”

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On False Friendship…

Show me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.

The people we choose to spend time with play a fundamental role in who we become. If you do not believe this, observe two people who spend a lot of time together and try to map out the similarities between them. Do they have a similar laugh? Do they debate a conversational point using the same rational strategies? Do they share a similar unique behavior, like rubbing their noses when they think, or using words that are uncommon, like “I’m flabbergasted“?

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On Comfort…

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

My mouse-pad has an image of a woman jumping off the edge of a cliff into the deep blue sea, and these words are scribbled in bold across the image.

I intentionally chose this mouse-pad during my first week on the job because I knew that I would need the reminder. It has certainly served its purpose of keeping me on my toes, all too aware of the dangers of getting too comfortable.

I grew up with an unconventional childhood, to say the least. Moving from country to country, chasing after my father’s career (I’m very proud of him!), made it quite impossible for me to get too comfortable. I did not have a consistent home, school, or friends. I did not have any roots or life-long activities to boast of. I never really knew what “settling down” would be like until I started my first stable job, got married, and bought a house. What could be defined as everyone else’s “American dream” is the absolute nightmare of a Third Culture kid like me, because my family and our lifestyle taught me that growth and development go hand in hand with movement and change. This is why I am acutely aware of just how dangerous (and boring!) excessive comfort can be.

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On Solitude…

Solitude has been exalted by history’s greatest writers as the foundation of enlightenment and, as would naturally follow from this newfound wisdom, good writing. One of my favourite authors, Gibran Kahlil Gibran, reflects on solitude as “a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches [yet] sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth.” This kind of solitude is creative, self-reflexive, and critical. It is very unlike the isolating solitude you and I may be experiencing today: empty, detached, and quiet despite all the movement, noise and people surrounding us.

It’s safe to say that we are more connected than human civilization has ever been. A short 3 decades ago, had I told my grandmother that she would be able to send me pictures and voice notes instantaneously from half-way across the planet, she would have laughed off my silly childhood faith in that kind of impossible magic. Today, my grandmother can enjoy a roller coaster ride with me in high definition 360° virtual reality if she wants to, and it wouldn’t even surprise her.

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Luck be a Lady

Whoever you may be, you have probably performed some kind of cultural ritual to call on Lady Luck once or twice in your life. For me, it was often a cross of the fingers and a quick prayer: “please, please, please, be on my side today!”

We tend to believe that luck is a wild card. “Lady Luck,” the Contemporary Western sister of the Roman goddess of luck, Fortuna, awards fortune and misfortune on a whimsical gamble. Nobody, including herself, knows which lot they will be given.

This is the backstory popular culture has fed us for generations. We have been told that big successes are for the few, the world is unfair, and we all have to accept and live with our lot in life. In the meantime, we are all hustling along, trying to find the next Superhack to make our lives a little bit easier. We have so many big dreams, and so little time!

I have now learned that all of this is false advertising. We’ve been fed a lie, and I am breaking the silence.

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