You were born to count the stars PART 2

Have you ever received a genuine compliment? I’m sure you have. And have you ever had an opportunity to give a compliment that came from your heart? Probably also.

But we do it way too rarely. And this is a huge pity.

I believe that compliments are the best feedback you can give to someone. BUT (!): Compliments have to be real, genuine and based on facts. Otherwise it’s just plain small talk that in best case keeps the other person amused and in the worst case she/he might feel offended that you make fun of them. In order to be able to think of an appropriate compliment, you have to learn to listen to certain skills and values within the person you are about to compliment. And to do this, you can not listen to their problems, nor can you take a judgemental position.

I regularly run exercises on compliments when I work with groups. And I use it all the time with my clients. Why? Because I want to make them feel better? No. I use this as a feedback to show them their own resources. And it works.

Such an activity I prepared for my youth exchange group I told you about in Part 1 of this blog post. The activity was to write on our backs some things we appreciate about the other person. The key was that we were not allowed to see what’s on our backs, nor who is writing. In the second part we wrote our own qualities that we believe we possess ourselves, on a special piece of paper and later on combined it with what was written on our backs. It is much fun to observe people’s reactions as they read messages from random people. Often it happens that the messages are accurate and even much more appreciative than what you dare to say or think about yourself. To sum up the exercise, we read aloud three things about ourselves that touched us the most. It was a very special moment and some people reported that it was hard for them to read aloud positive things about them, but because we created a very safe and intimate atmosphere, they took a chance and were not disappointed afterwards.

Just for fun, try to use a compliment as a feedback when somebody asks you a question or expects you to comment on a current debate issue. You might be very surprised what you’ll get in return. I do it all the time and sometimes the boomerang hits me back with unexpected surprises.

Take this for example: while I was in the UK, I got pretty attached to a certain cup/coffee mug. It was a very funny cup with cute small sausage dogs drawings. I always had my tea or hot water (a strange habit, I’ll tell you more about it on some other occassion) in that mug. Always. Then as the family noticed how much I like that mug, they took me to the store where they bought it. But unfortunately it was last season’s model and they ran out of it. I was quite disappointed, but hey, it was not meant to be. I took a picture of it and promised myself that I’ll make my own one day.

Then, a couple of days ago, I got a package. Didn’t look carefully where it came from, because I was expecting something and thought that was it. But inside there was something wraped and a message enclosed. It was the sausage dog mug! I couldn’t believe my eyes. R. made special efforts to look that mug up and she said it was the last one. And I knew she liked this mug as much as I did, but she bought this one and sent it to me from England. I was really really touched and grateful. To have friends like that who remember you and make something so nice, is a true gem.  A gem to value and nourish.

Try. Compliments work. If you don’t know how, come to some of my workshops and I’ll show you ;). You’ll learn it quickly.

back feedback

My back feedback. I was deeply touched.

sausage dog

THE sausage dog mug

You were born to count the stars PART 1

A Touch of sLOVEnia broadcasting internationally.

A youth exchange in an organic farm, somewhere far away from factories and shopping malls. About 25 people from all over Europe. And my very first time as a trainer in a setting as such.

Dear reader,

all you really need is not a great pair of shoes. I just came back from the above event and as I’m going through the photos and am trying to organize memories. I feel the time is right to share with you what’s up.

This youth exchange was something beyond special. It was an opportunity to stop time, unplug wifi, forget the phone charger and throw makeup into a trash. As always, at the beginning when I have a group to lead and a message to deliver, I get a bit nervous. But not this negative nervousness, but more of an excited one. I was worried whether the group members would understand the message and whether they would have it difficult adapting and simplifying their way of life for the time being at this exchange. Besides solar showers and compost toilets, there was also very strict non alcohol and drug policy as well as vegetarian food.  Not everybody is able adapt to this, yet alone to understand what to do and how to spend the time instead of browsing and tweeting. Will the group of people who don’t know most of the others and are aged between 16-25 be able to manage?

This group managed and they managed the first day already. The energy we created was so inspiring and I think they (and hope) learned soooo much in such a short period of time. For example, take an exercise: you get a certain social role assigned and you have to place yourself up the scale according to what the facilitator asks. Questions like “can you vote, are you able to bring your friends over for dinner, are your children going to be safe in the future, can you afford to buy new clothes every 3 months”, etc. etc. Each member had a different role. And as we climbed up the scale, many were left behind and some were progressing forward. In the debriefing phase we discussed about this. And people who were way in front (privileged) noticed that none of them was there because of their own efforts. Maybe it was a rich daddy’s influence, maybe a political party they belonged to or maybe they were children of successful traders. But none of them was privileged because of their own work.

It touched us deeply. As we shared the emotions in the end, a girl who was among “well off” members said, she was disappointed. And she was right. Society isn’t just. And the position we are in, has most of the time nothing to do with our work or efforts. Equal opportunities suddenly gain importance and at the same time become a vague concept.

Anyhow, this was just to illustrate about the group’s maturity.

I’m sitting in front of this stupidd screen now. And am going through what has happened in the 3 days we’ve been together. The exchange isn’t over yet, just I had to leave because I have some other obligations to fulfill. So I think right now the group is having dinner and is hopefully checking their “gossip box”. I hope they will find something nice in there.

More to follow …


Mandala of trust, understanding, respect and love.

One thing to try that will blow nearly all your worries away in matter of seconds!

Dear reader,

I once read somewhere in some research newsfeed that nearly 90% of all worries we might have, never come true. Impressing, huh?

Though this fact might make a difference to your worries, it on the other hand may not. However I’ve got a brilliant tool for you that you can try and this will definitely work. This exercise is very easy to learn and everyone can do it anywhere and anytime. And you don’t need anything to make it happen other than five minutes.

Here it goes.

1. Find a quiet and peaceful place where you can spend five minutes in stillnes and alone (as you practise it, it may be even less than 5 minutes and it is not necessary that you are in no one’s company).

2. Close your eyes. Think of all your worries that are currently bothering and killing you. What is it you are worried about? Is it a forthcoming meeting? Something you are afraid might happen? A fight you had yesterday? Worries that you don’t have enough time, money, worries about your health? About your future? Whatever it is, think about it and try to husk them out so you can see it clearly.

3. When you have an idea what worries you at the moment, think about whether any of these worries is happening right now. Right this very moment. Play with this thought a little bit. You will most probably find out something amazing:

Namely that this tiny present moment is just fine. You are ok. Most or all of your worries when you look at them right now, are not happening. You are ok.

4. In this state, try to think about whether there is anything you can do within the next moment (let’s say half an hour) to better prepare and to do something about your worry. For example if you are worrying that you will miss the deadline, what is it you can do within the next half an hour that will help just a little bit to do more of your task and get you just a little bit closer? Or if you are worrying about your health, what can you do right now not to make it worse? Think small – anything you do is better than worrying.

5. If there is nothing you can do, because it’s not up to you but rather to some external factors and consequences, then think again about the present moment. You are okay now, so there is nothing wrong with this present moment. Enjoy it. Relax.

6. When the moment is over and you are back to your routine and you notice you are worrying again, repeat the exercise. Is what you are worrying about happening right now, this very moment? Or is it in the past that is already gone? Or is it in the future that hasn’t happened yet (and may not happen)? Most likely you will find out that, the present moment is just fine. The present moment is in fact … perfect.

Practice as long and as much you want. The more you do it, the sooner you’ll get used to it. It works. Welcome to the present moment. Give yourself permission not to worry.


The greatest ideas you’ll generate when you are alone

Dear reader,

today in a modern world it appears and is advisable that all the work should be teamwork, team-building, connections, networking etc. It is indeed precious to have a circle that supports you and that you support back, that you turn to when you need advice and that you invest into, so that the circle can prosper and grow.

However, teamwork might be somewhat overrated. To generate and develop the best ideas, you need time to be alone. If you dig into this a bit further, you’ll find solid evidence in the social psychology literature that says groupwork has limits in creativity and productiveness (or you can write to me and I’m happy to provide you with the research). It’s great to exchange ideas and to point to some possible overlooked directions, but each member has to work on her/his idea alone, at least  sometimes. Alone doesn’t equal lonely. But in order to truly concentrate, focus and develop something amazing, you need some time in stillness and quiet.

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

I’m beginning to notice that I’m being most creative during my morning runs. Even though I concentrate on running, my brain looks for connections that were not there before, explores and plays with ideas that seem appealing but utopic and I find myself smiling on the inside when the run is over. It doesn’t happen every day and even if it does it needs time to evolve and that can last the whole day or two or a week, sometimes even month. It requires reading, research, consulting with others, but the final shape, the cherry on the top, happens when I’m alone and when my mind is unleashed.

I’ve seen a client from some other faculty (I’m currently working with other faculties and students) the other day. She said she’d like to be more productive, focused and not procrastinate so much. After she told me a bit about her, I made a comment at the end of the session that she might try taking the stairs home instead of the elevator (she lives in the 7th floor). I suggested she might do this once a day and notice if there is any difference. It seemed a totally unrelated comment and honestly, I don’t know where I got the idea to propose this from and it was just a side comment, not a big concluding remark.

She came back after three weeks and said that her life had changed so much, she began to find joy and was really pleased with her ability to do something good for her every day. And the fact that she was able to do this regularly, grew her confidence in the discipline she needed for her studies. If she could do the stairs, she said, she could do the studying. It was our second and last session. I’ve read somewhere on the pinterest a quote that caught my attention and I’m happy to share it with you today as it fits very well into this post. It’s about exercise being the most underutlizied antidepressant. And also a very powerful idea-generator. Certainly works for me. Perhaps it might work for some of you too.