How to clear your mind – a daily practice

Photo credits: Corina Negriuc

When I make decisions, I don’t like questioning them on and on. When I go about daily life, I want to live in the moment as much as possible, without drifting away on a thought or getting caught up on emotions. This is why having a clear mind is one of the most important things for me. It is like a basic need.

What does it mean? Imagine you are driving on a road for the first time, you have some idea about the destination, distance and time it will take you to get there, but you have no navigation system and you need to pay attention to road signs and maybe ask for directions as well. Now compare doing this on a sunny spring day versus doing it in pouring rain.

I do think that emotions are and should be a part of our lives. However, there are good emotions and bad emotions (some even toxic), depending on the influence they have on us. How we feel should be a consequence of what we do, not the other way around.

For example, if you make a decision in anger, disappointment or in another negative state of mind, it is bound to be flawed, clouded. The same is true for acting under the influence of excitement, butterflies in the stomach or wearing pink spectacles.

People feel. People also enjoy daydreaming. It was proven and makes sense that some daydreaming is healthy and actually contributes to generating ideas.*

For the reasons above I have made a daily practice out of taking 15-30 minutes to do nothing, think about whatever comes up, explore what I feel. When I come across an idea, I write it down. When dark thoughts emerge, I acknowledge them and accept them. I’ll welcome any overly optimistic view, but treat with skepticism. Won’t these thoughts come up all the time? Yes, but then I set them aside for latter and “ignore” them temporarily.

After getting enough sleep, taking the time described above is the most powerful tool for keeping a clear mind. It works 95% of the time. If there are serious issues to be dealt with, involving other people, then by all means don’t dismiss them as “negative thinking”. Telling the difference between toxic thoughts and actual problems is a skill worth developing as well. But this deserves its own post…

*) here are the links to a couple of articles on the importance of daydreaming:

why daydreaming is good for us

the benefits of daydreaming

NEW: If you would like to receive my posts directly to your inbox, on a weekly basis, click here to subscribe.



What not to do for succes

Photo credits: Corina Negriuc

I like to make plans and I like even more to see them through.

The human mind is extraordinarily complex and the mechanisms of our thought process make the difference between action and just an idea. Are you determined to do something?

In my view there are two fundamental elements that ensure successful transition from thought to action: a clear mind and favorable circumstances. Moreover, I think we can influence both or at least use them to our advantage (the case of external factors which cannot be altered).

Here are 5 methods to do so.

1. Don’t forget to do something for yourself everyday (take care of the way you look, of your health or just read a book). A strong personality needs to be nourished, otherwise it turns against us.

2. Don’t try to seem less intelligent for the sake of others. There will always be people around you that are less or more prepared than you are. Progress means wanting to be better and actually doing something about it. If other people don’t get it, it is their problem and not your responsibility to solve.

I’ll also mention the case when you may want to play dumb as part of your communication (better word would be manipulation) strategy. Do so at your own peril and be prepared to face the consequences.

3. Don’t take the little mean things personally (either intentional or not). If those around you chose to make use of they time in this way, you are either more important to them than you thought or they are having a bad day (or several bad days) and you can go ahead and feel sorry for them.

Winning the war is more important than winning the small subtext battles. I don’t recommend that you ignore them, it is important to acknowledge the malice in others in order to distinguish friend from ally of circumstance.

4. Don’t accept abusive or manipulative language. It may seem harmless (even just a bad joke), however, as I wrote in a previous post, words have tremendous power. If you feel you have to respond, do so, it is up to you how you do it, depending on context. Very often it is based on their words that we discover someone’s true nature, their intentions and how they position themselves in relation to us. Intimidation through language is very common, when another person tries to seem stronger.

And last but not least…

5. Do not compromise your image or work. Never, ever, no matter how tired or in a hurry you are or…insert favorite excuse here.

To many success stories!

The Power of Words

I like being straightforward and say what I think. I admire those who do the same. However this is not easy. I am constantly working to find the balance which assertiveness ensures.

One of my main beliefs is that you can tell what type of person one is and how successful they are from they way one communicates and expresses oneself.

Words have an immense power. They shape our image of the world, influence our mood, they can hurt and manipulate, but can also win hearts and open doors.

Say it out loud, don’t just think it. Measure your words so that they serve your plans, but don’t break any bonds.

How many times have you missed the opportunity to say some kind words ore give a compliment? Moreover, how many times did you say something in anger and then wish you could take it back?

All human beings wish to be happy. Whatever form happiness takes for them, they have this one thing in common. Once you acknowledge this, your thoughts are open for a deeper understanding of the world. Sounds like a bit too much? Maybe, but there are too many times when inferiority or superiority complexes stand in the way of an open and successful communication.

There are countless rules for communicating, but here are the ones which I have found most effective and use most often:

⁃ see yourself as the peer of the person you are talking to (not superior, not inferior either).

⁃ speak respectfully (to the other and to yourself as well) and show understanding.

⁃ if you start getting aggravated/emotional and you know this will affect your discourse, take a deep breath or take a break.

⁃ avoid generalizations (like “you never do this or that”) as they are most likely untrue.

To your fruitful conversations!

Note on the picture: it is of a drawing I made, called “Freestyle in Watercolor”


Did you ever get the feeling you are living in a bubble? Everyone around you mostly agrees with you, likes the same movies, has the same dream holiday and buys clothes from the same stores. Until one day you wonder where did everybody else go.

This pretty much sums up our virtual life on social media. Algorithms make us comfortable.

The term “filter bubble” was coined by Eli Pariser in 2011 (listen to his TED talk here) and has since sparked debate on the ethics behind tailoring our search results and news feed for us, implicitly, not explicitly (meaning not by direct choice when we set up our accounts). Are people blinded by their own past choices and clicks? Or is this a matter of self-inflicted isolation?

One can argue and prove that algorithms have a minimal effect on what information people are exposed to (like the study “Burst of the Filter Bubble? Effects of personalization on the diversity of Google News”, by Mario Haim, Hans-Bernd Brosius and Andreas Graefe). The fact still remains that what you don’t know, doesn’t hurt you (directly at least). The bottom line is that companies make money and political parties get ahead while using social media and search engines. You can’t really blame them, that’s their goal. The problem arises when this happens using false information and manipulating the truth.

People will by default like to be in circles similar to themselves and yes, they benefit from a personalized web, to some degree. The matter leaves us with one important task: to open our eyes, practice awareness and have a filtering algorithm of our own.

The ones who manipulate information and data to their benefit are waiting for an audience. Do yourself a favor and skip that show.

About resilience. What I learned from my orchid

orchidSome time ago I accidentally broke the growing stem of one of my orchids. I felt so sad because I thought that it had been trying so hard to grow and all that energy would now go to waste because an outside factor made its purpose disappear.

I started thinking about how this parallels with our existence. Sometimes you do all the right things : set a goal, make a plan, follow through and suddenly you find that because of something unforeseen you have to stop. Even sadder, right? You can say that this is the risk we are taking when starting something new – there’s always a possibility of failure even when we give 100%+.

What happened to my orchid later on? Well, surprise, surprise, the broken stem started growing again. True, it was a bit smaller in diameter and I thought it did not stand much chance. However in a few weeks it grew tall and strong and flower buds appeared. How amazingly beautiful!

Coming back to the parallel I first made, this was the best lesson possible. Sure, failure happens, we get sidetracked at times, but as long as we commit and know in our heart and mind that the goal we had set is what is right, then we will find a way to accomplish it. It is not failure when you learn and grow stronger!

Even if motivation seems hard to come by, look around you and you will find inspiration in the most unlikely of places (like your flower shelf).