New job. Day 1 & Day 2:

Day 1: Love people, use things.

Visiting apartments that make you wish you had the capacity to hold your breath for 15 minutes at a time is humbling. Wading through the piles of old stuffed animals, piles of old grocery advertisements, stacks of loose pictures without names, dusting clocks, glass bottles, and only to realize there’s also a downstairs. It’s heartbreaking to see a person with so many things, living alone, who doesn’t even know the stories behind the things he stares at everyday. What’s even more heartbreaking is that the son who does care for his ageing father doesn’t realize how far away his father has become. He assumes there’s a reason his father leaves 2 knives and a saw by the entrance door, and there’s probably another story behind why there’s an apartment advertisement taped onto the floor. It feels chaotic, messy, and cluttered in there, but I can only imagine how it feels to slowly empty his mind full of memories, and try to cover up that wound with things, sweets, and humor.

A lot of faces, a lot of loneliness, a lot of ignorance from their loved ones, a lot of selfishness revealing itself in different ways. I felt more motivated than ever to 1. go home and clear out my apartment 2. live out my priorities, make sure the people who I admire and love know that and 3. come back to work the next day and learn new ways of how to let these people know that they are loved. Maybe 4. would be to tell the young people around me that the crap they’re working so hard to collect is so so sad. It’s important to see these things from a different perspective- from your grandma’s perspective, from an older self, from your dad’s perspective, getting older should mean growing in relationships not collecting more things.

Day 2: our bodies are temples

I looked into many eyes that were less confused, but for that reason, also more heartbroken. I had less patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and more with muscular deterioration, old age, ALS, humbling, humbling… Watching an elderly man, living at home, all dressed up in a tie, wool sweater, with a fresh haircut who takes pride in fastening his belt. I never thought that helping someone– who is still totally there mentally, but stuck in a body that’s not at all connected to his strength in wisdom and experience–would make me want to cry, but at the same time, not take for granted one trip to the bathroom on my own! Not take for granted any day I can go out and buy my own groceries. Our bodies are truly temples, and it’s sad to see youth- or even elderly mock that and take our bodies for granted.

On the second day, I was welcomed by so many people who loved the assistant I was shadowing. How much JOY I saw in their faces to have a loving woman, who also had recently learned Swedish, coming to take care of them. I feel honored to be able to share some of my joy, love, humility, peace with these people living in what feels like a trapped scenario.

I came home and cried and cried as I retold stories to Alex about these people I had met, these families who are so distant from their elderly loved ones who ONLY talk about their grandkids with so much pride, elderly people telling jokes only to hide what they’ve forgotten.

Day 3.

I may have caught a cold from one of the patients, or I may have just been emotionally, mentally, and physically tired from two full days. I was heartbroken. Not only for the elderly people, but the people around me in town–who walk around town in their fancy outfits, a look of disgust on their face, avoiding eye-contact, who can’t wait to get home and watch their show. I can’t describe how much I felt for them! I definitely had to laugh with Alex how often I would burst out in tears after a “cheesy” statement like how people aren’t grateful for the life that we have to live! Anyways, the first days hit me hard, so I was in bed on the third day, reflecting on the people I met, and also reflecting on how I can make sure that when I’m at that age, or in a condition like ALS, to make sure that I can say I didn’t waste a day or intentionally lose touch with any of my friends or loved ones.

I definitely want you- or any people that I meet- to feel like I love people and I use things, not the other way around.

Broken Parable

It’s already the end of January! You all probably are well into your new year’s resolutions, good habits set in place, endurance building at the gym, plenty of money saved from not buying candy or cigarettes, or not? Maybe you’re just in the process of writing these lists and imagining these goals to create the best version of yourself.

The last months have been somewhat hectic for me, especially in terms of traveling, job security/clarity, lack of routines in general. However, somehow when you get turned up on your head, some fresh blood flows into your brain & some clear thoughts are surfaced, which is why I’m writing some of them here (along with some pictures for Mom)!

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Something I’m working on this year is really building up my self resilience. What does that mean exactly? For me, it means building my confidence but also my humility in a way that I am secure about what my skills are, who I am in the present moment, and how I can interact in a positive way with whomever I’m encountering, all while still moving forward toward my goals.

Ah, my goals. Something always worth revisiting. It’s funny how dreams and goals can be once so clearly and simply defined, but as time passes, priorities change, ideas pop up, etc. and that clear goal bubble becomes blurry to the point where it’s dissolved. (Just me?) I’m frustrated that I put so much weight into the importance of even having a “title” in my goal. For example, my goal used to be to be the best sustainability consultant possible. There are two problems with that… One is that I didn’t even know what a consultant was when I thought of that, as well as I had nowhere near enough experience to call myself a consultant. Secondly, sustainability is so vague & constantly changing, so that title is impossible to reach. And thirdly! A job title is one thing to work for, but once you get there, there are guaranteed to be many more important non-things to focus on which should’ve been prioritized in this “goal.”

So. Goals. We once worked with workshops around creating visions during our master’s program- a vision is basically something that you work towards that encompasses your purpose for striving for this goal, your values that you believe in and which support it, and just to imagine & stretch a bit farther, you paint the really extreme Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Still, after playing with different values and priorities, I often find that my core purpose comes down to helping people in my current environment as well as in future generations. That’s one thing that remains constant. In the process of reflecting on it, and writing it down, I almost always meet my biggest fears, or even new ones.

Language truly shapes our thoughts and opinions, people! The act of writing or speaking out your goals is important in this process of moving forward. I know it’s difficult, scary, making yourself vulnerable, but it’s a (if not THE) first step. Well, this is after you set aside what you’ve been taught and really reflect inwards. Not to go too mushy here, but what I mean is setting aside society’s expectations and setting your own, based on YOUR own real values (again, not what you’ve been taught to recite).

Our ability to think and communicate clearly is what keeps us focused, what allows us to reach our goals.

My life story is at this intersection right now. I’ve been living in Sweden for three years. THREE years. I studied my Master’s of Science because I knew- and really knew in my heart- that I wanted to work with sustainability. What I didn’t know was that it is and was okay to take a leap first into the working world & try to gain some life experience. Had I done that, I would’ve had more context to work with & translate the theory into during my Master’s program. No regrets, but had I not been so insecure about my fear of not fitting into a box or a title, I could’ve had a different learning experience. I’ve realized that this is one of my biggest fears! I’m afraid that society, my friends, my family, my coworkers won’t recognize my potential, my skills, my previous knowledge and achievements because of what I’m doing now. A lot of the things I love to work with aren’t always using my degrees or the full range of my intelligence & experience. Often they’re putting me in humble places that are even looked down upon in society–helping others, listening, serving people, very-non-sexy-unimpressive jobs.

Anyways, I’m back in this situation of not having a title. I’ve been working with social entrepreneurs which is a big group of people who help other people and group themselves under this awesome title. I’ve been enabling social entrepreneurs to help other people, but now I’m wondering what other skills, passions and needs (or gaps) in the society that need to be addressed that I could work with!

It’s been a lot of fun, inspiring, and sporadic mind-mapping work. Keeping myself organized is one of the hardest parts because I have so many interests, so many people and groups I see that need help, so many skills I’d love to devote myself to learn, so many people I’ve met who can connect me with cool projects, …Soooo that’s where prioritization comes into place.

Who are the people that need my help the most? What are my biggest fears that are standing in the way from letting my heart truly sing? What skills do I need to learn to help this group of people?  Will working with this group bring me closer to my goal, or at least serve as a platform for other steps to bring me there? Will it provide enough resources (mentally, emotionally, financially, etc) for the continuation of my goal-chasing journey?!

Man, I’m working on the answers, but maybe this stream of consciousness resonates with some of you, or not. 🙂 Either way, it definitely feels like I’m finding some clarity and peace by overcoming some of these fears & opening up possibilities of helping some groups of people very close to my heart. Stay tuned!

Train thoughts

It occurred to me, even before I sat down on the train down to Lund (in southern Sweden), that most people around me never live up to their potential.  Most of us are limiting ourselves with our thoughts, fears, the put-downs from other people. I think these dark shadows grow so quickly because they have a piece of a truth, or a piece of our past, or something we fear we’ll become, that we can envision becoming a reality. Before you just gloss over the rest, I promise it gets brighter…
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I just came back from a huge conference called Slush in Helsinki, Finland. It was pretty awesome actually- amazing concert-type lights, thousands of startups, thousands of investors, executives, volunteers, students- you name it (ok, no clowns). They had talks hosted simultaneously on topics such as technology changing the food industry, how to overcome failure, stories from giant founders of startups like Skype, pitches on top of pitches of new ideas, talks on the challenges and trends in investing, etc. I learned so so much, not only by listening and absorbing information from the stages, and one-on-one encounters, but also just by trial and error of talking with others. I literally would walk up to anyone who looked remotely bored, friendly, or super successful (almost anyone could fit into this category, including a sleeping person—which is another funny story of how I almost got in a fight). To be honest, I thought I would make a fool out of myself more than I wouldn’t. I am NOT an expert on Alex’s product, and I’m quite clueless when it comes to the jargon of investors, and even the startup journey. I have to say that I picked up a lot quickly and held onto the goal to get Alex’s product and my fearless smile in as many people’s faces as possible at the event. I’m not saying that I was living up to my greatest potential at this event, but I took any fear that bubbled up and I would throw it back with a shot of espresso (also because the coffee line is the easiest approaching spot). I needed to put my best forward, which meant focusing on the things I knew to be true and good about what I was doing. It enabled me to learn a lot more than I otherwise would’ve if I had turned up that tiny voice telling me I was a fake, I was inexperienced, not even part of the company, that I’d get myself into a conversation I couldn’t get out of, etc.
I was able to meet a ton of inspiring, kind, hopeful, successful people. Heard a lot of cool stories of startups and entrepreneurs trying to make the world a better place, pushing themselves into the zone of discomfort, the unknown, and quite honestly, putting themselves in a very vulnerable position.
I’m sitting on the train processing these encounters, as well as recalling a negative experience I had at the conference (not talking about where I woke up someone during a presentation to chat, when he definitely wanted to nap)… It was a confrontation from an acquaintance who got to know me through couch-surfing. After harassing me online, he felt enraged by my average review and proceeded to attack me personally with a hurtful email. I shouldn’t have let this get to me- I shouldn’t have even read it, but similar to one’s own thoughts, negative attacks with even the slightest sliver of truth in them can slip through the cracks and try to break your optimistic attitude down. Thankfully, I was quickly reenforced with positive people around me, like Alex and Yones, who know me well and could support me when I turned to them. But wow, was I surprised how easily I was torn down from one moment to the next when I let the mean and negative thoughts re-absorb in my mind. Now that I definitely see it with a clearer perspective, that the negative words thrown at me were not true. The person saying those things actually doesn’t know me, but haters are going to hate- even if you didn’t think you gave them a reason to… So now, it looks like it was just an exercise for me to wrestle that, to ask for encouragement and love from myself and Alex, while trying to stay positive, optimistic, energetic, and show people my best side. I would say I passed!
I’ve been reading this book, Talk like Ted, actually for the last couple months. I’ve been piecing through it slowly, but savouring a lot of the lessons in public speaking, entrepreneurship, as well as personal development. I’ll add an excerpt from Carmine Gallo’s note at the end of the book that spoke to me with a recurring thought in my head, but was needed in that moment as a reminder. Maybe you need to read it today too:
“If you’re like most people, you’re capable of so much more than you’ve imagined for your life. You have the capacity to move people, to inspire them, to provide hope to the despondent and direction to the lost. You have the ability to educate and electrify, inform and inspire, but only if you believe in your ability to do so.
     Don’t let negative labels hold you back from achieving your destiny. Some people might tell you that you’re not good enough, that you don’t have what it takes to make a compelling business pitch or to give a great presentation. Often the worst labels are those we place on ourselves. I find that leaders who are nervous about speaking in public say the most awful things to themselves—words that they would never say to anyone else. I’ve heard leaders say: ‘I’m terrible at giving presentations’ ‘I got nervous once and it ruined me. I’m a horrible public speaker’ ‘Nobody wants to listen to me. I’m boring’ If these are the type of phrases you repeat to yourself day after day, it’s no wonder you get nervous! You can’t control what other people say about you but you can control the things you tell yourself. Instead of replaying negative thoughts over and over again, reframe your thoughts and replace those negative labels with words of encouragement, empowerment and strength. Remember, ideas are the currency of the twenty-first century. Your ideas will change the direction of your life and potentially change the world. Don’t let anything—including negative labels—stand in your way. … You don’t need luck to be an inspiring speaker. You need examples, techniques, passion, and practice. You also need courage— the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply, and express what makes your heart sing.”
MAN I LIKE THAT. I feel as though those words were written for me. I’ve been feeling so uninspired by my thoughts and the truth is, that that is the case because I allow it to be. It takes courage to stand “in the fire” or in an uncomfortable place, where it may require discipline, focus, or simply honesty with yourself to really reflect and become aware of what you’re thinking about. Also in line with this, was a video that Alex had sent to me:
It reminded me so much of my master’s program’s framework for being aware first, then looking at the next steps, prioritizing, keeping your goal in mind, and surrounding yourself by the thoughts, people, and actions that allow you to get there.
So, even if you aren’t trying to start your own company, or start a revolution, but you simply want to inspire yourself and others to be better human beings for each other, it starts with the personal power and strength that you already have inside you! Flex that brain of yours- sit in that uncomfortable spot & work through those thoughts, connect it with your heart, & off we go to making our dreams come true.
Awareness. Discipline. Patience. Gratitude. Love. Progress. …Wishing you all of these on top of success, (whatever that means to you).

Empowering others as a job?

A lot has changed in the last week and a half. I was ready to write the next post then and there about my project, but I’m actually glad I didn’t! Still, it’s better to just jump right in rather than putting more weight on the importance of the perfection of a post, eh?

So. Here’s what I’ve been working on the last couple months. It’s called the Social Impact Award. It’s a program for students all over Sweden who want to learn more about social entrepreneurship, and maybe even want to start their own company that works toward making a difference on a social issue. Our program provides workshops for inspiration, business planning, business modelling and then we incubate the applicants with the best ideas based on innovation, social impact, feasibility, and the strength of the team.

I’ve never ran a program before, never even wrote a budget before, never cold-called coca-cola before and asked for a meeting to discuss a €100,000 grant! Ha. It’s been rocky. I’m not always rocking it, but I have met amazing people in the last couple months because of it!

I went to Vienna to meet the founders of the program, the other country coordinators, and even the winners of 2016 from the 10 countries that have been running in in the last 6 or so years. It was so inspiring to see the sparkle in their eyes, that you can really enable others to follow their dreams. Many of us feel like we miss that window, or we doubt our abilities or our ideas. I’ve kind of felt that way this week actually…

I admittedly didn’t think I’d get so down about the elections. I think that’s all I’ll say about that, but I also must say I haven’t given up hope for what’s to come. It did affect my mood, my motivation, my feeling of being helpless, and somehow, my feeling that any damn thing is possible. I’m hoping that people believe in their dreams that bring about helping others, because that’s the core of my pitch. If people believe in the fear, hate, and the greedy grind that happens so often around us, then I’m in trouble. No one is going to give me a million Swedish crowns to run a program that helps inspired students believe that their dream or their idea DOES have the power to make a difference. Even if it doesn’t change the world, I want them to see that living with a purpose of helping others changes your outlook on living for the better.

That’s the main reason that I’m still working on this program. There’s a high probability that the program will not come to fruition this year in Sweden. Mostly because it’s just me finding these leads, because my pitch is not perfected, my fear of failing keeps me in bed far too long some mornings, and my scattered thoughts keep me from reassuring myself that I’m still learning.

I’m finding over and over again, that it’s important to remember why we’re doing something. Remember what we’re thankful for, how blessed we are, and then how we can bring that to someone else. Remembering small encouragements helps me also, but we don’t talk about our fears so often, so I don’t open up that opportunity very often!

It’s not news that you’re growing when you’re uncomfortable. But it’s how we respond to that discomfort and the feeling of being a failure, and the fear of failing that defines our success. That’s what’s helping me move forward. I know that I want to be helping others find their purpose, their joy, their mission in life. I want to see their eyes sparkle and get excited about what they’re doing. Is that even a job?

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

So, whatever happens with this program, I’m going to continue to reach out to people and stay optimistic until the last minute. I’m open to the cyber hugs, 100,000 grants, connections, and the encouraging words of my friends and family who know me best, though! 🙂

Reverse culture shock is still real

I’ve been back on Minnesota soil for about 4 full days now. It’s been so fun, relaxing, and re-energizing to be around my family, around familiar places, taking my favorite bike trails, and reliving old, fun memories. STILL. There are some things that keep resurfacing in my mind that I can’t believe I didn’t notice before. I’ll write about it here so that I can stop annoying my parents and friends every time I think about it.

  1. People are SO friendly and chatty.
  2. Sugar is literally covering everything we eat
  3. We are attached to our cars
  4. The sunrises and sunsets are more beautiful here (probably because you can see the sun)
  5. TV commercials are convincing me of all these new diseases I have
  6. There’s a lot of water in the toilets.
  7. I only learned how to use silverware as an adult because we eat with our hands

I felt so lucky to visit the apple orchard we’d always go to as kids with the whole family, to bike with my dad to the city hall & vote, to make apple sauce with my mom, to drive with my brother and sister, to sit around a bonfire with my high school friends and laugh so hard about nothing just like old times, to visit my university in Wisconsin & witness all of the amazing changes and improvements, to visit my other home (Luna cafe!) where I learned a lot about service and working long hours for smiles and granola, to cry with my friends about our quarter-life confusion and congratulate eachother about our progress, to get buzzed off of two beers (so not like old times when we could tolerate alcohol!), and to sleep on my friends’ couches and beds and really reconnect. That’s what this visit was about, and also because 11 months is too long to not have hugs from the people who shaped me.

It’s something special to be able to go home to the house I grew up in. I realize now, at age 25, that my family really created a beautiful and amazing environment for me to grow in. Not only did they encourage me to pursue whatever I wanted (including acting classes, professional careers in tennis, softball, running, cycling, dancing, etc.) but they really established the value of spending time with people and acknowledging others’ dignity. My parents didn’t care if I didn’t win, if I was actually terrible at acting, or if I was never on the varsity team. They did care however if I was trying my best, and if I was using my powers for helping people, not hurting them. “Do your best” was more of a mantra than something I understood at the time, but now coming home & seeing what an oasis it is to be surrounded by love, support, and the comfortable feeling of knowing that you’re accepted, included, and loved no matter what you end up doing is definitely the source for a lot of my success.

It’s hard to come home & see things gradually changing without me. In some ways, everything is the same- a lot of the routines, the stunning sunsets over the cornfields, my favorite dirt roads & steep hills & smell of manure in the morning, and also the love that still fills the rooms in our house. I do however feel helpless and maybe even guilty that I’m not home more often to see the changes that scare me. It’s natural that people get older and maybe lose the motivation to go for walks or find new recipes to incorporate healthy and varied food, or even doing something different or special to show that you care about someone.  In a big way, I have to accept that I’m choosing this life to live abroad. Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities and learnings that I’m experiencing here. However, I also have to make the most of this situation of going back and forth, and only seeing the big changes when I’m there in person. Skype, snapchat, and messaging helps keep us updated, but the deeper questions, insecurities, and connections are only surfaced in person. At the same time, I love entitling myself to just jump into those conversations when I’m there. It’s with my friends too. Since I know I won’t see them for months, it’s so important that I don’t hold those juicy questions back, really digging for what their challenges are, how they’re really feeling in this or that relationship or job, what they really think they want to be doing. I love being able to dig into these conversations when we have our coffees, and I don’t think I do that even with the people I live around in Stockholm so often, nor did I do it as often when we lived close by. I can ask them, “Are you doing your best?” and really walk through what they’re going through. I love that.  I want to be doing that more everywhere I am, and I want to bring that joyful and safe environment that I remember so well to everyone I meet.

So that brings me to this new …thing/project/program/job I’m up to these days…I’ll post it in a new blog though!

Anywhere

2 months since my last post?! Sorry you guys, I’ve started several drafts since then about Norway, Åre, mundane job hunting, etc., but I think my thoughts have been quite scattered in between my trips and cafe shifts this summer. I’ll dig up the drafts and maybe post them after 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ll share a song that got me in the mood to write this post:Anywhere

I’m writing to you with a belly full of a very-non-vegan “Full Irish” brunch (See below). Potato bread, soda bread, fried eggs, sausage, ham, white and black pudding (still not sure what that meant), and a bonus scone because I made a new friend last night with the very lovely waitress here! I made my way to Ireland this week because the tickets were cheap from Stockholm and I had some time to step away from my usual routines of working and searching for work. It’s actually been a positive schedule lately- feeling better about managing my time and staying motivated to learn new things, meet new people, work out, give time for myself (spiritually mainly as the focus), and realize when I’m spinning myself crazy…Usually my step tracker tells me when I’ve lost it (when it hits about 25,000 steps! ha). So I’ve been making some steps in Dublin and now in Galway. The purpose of the trip was just to get that adrenaline of the unknown pumping through my blood again! Alex stayed behind to work, and even though I didn’t know anyone in Ireland really, I am hopping around with couchsurfing (and am still alive, Mom!).

I’m working on writing an application to start a new program at the Impact Hub in Stockholm. The program is the Social Impact Award, which supports brand-spanking-new entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas to start an initiative that works toward making a difference in social issues (it could be something hot like climate change, migration issues, or stuff that’s been around forever like including elderly people in technology communication, or creating solutions for people with disabilities.) I’m so on fire for it! It’s so refreshing to be reading scientific articles about  social entrepreneurship in Sweden, Europe and the US and where they converge, it’s fun to read the impacts that working with a purpose has on people’s living quality, as well as the impacts THAT itself has on society (less trips to the doctor, less crime, and overall just a positive ripple effect), not to mention the ripple effect of their initiative to making the world a better place (and believing that it’s happening).

Anyways, I just thought I’d share my excitement and update on my job hunting perspective… It’s not always so easy to run into something that you love to work with, especially if you’ve been working with something for a long time and you realize you don’t see the passion or purpose of it anymore. If any of you want to have a chat or skype about what it is that you want to work with, or even just eliminating the things you don’t want to work with, I’d be more than excited to brainstorm with you!

I love the quote by Thoreau, which I saw on the wall at an “eye-sight” gallery in Dublin, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” It reminded me of the quote on my notebook by Marcel Proust, stating that “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Ironically, Alex noticed this quote before I left for Ireland, which was a point in his argument that I didn’t need to travel to have these fresh and deep epiphanies. It’s true, but the discomfort of traveling, and the excitement of new people, new accents, unknown roads and imagining life in different places can make you appreciate the opportunities that, indeed, are right in front of you!

Just Do It

Amidst the chaos in life, I’ve been finding some peace in nature. Connecting accidentally with my inspired, motivated and creative self. I’ve also had the privilege of hosting a 4 American girls just after my last blog post at the end of June, which was just fun to take a step back, explain what I’m doing, why, why I’m doing it here in Stockholm, and be reminded that even though I’m definitely not in an American, loud, open culture, I can still find that open, energetic, goofy self. Maybe that sounds strange to you who haven’t been in contact with me in the last 3 years as much, but I’ve definitely learned to be more reserved these years… NOT that that’s bad, it’s just that I still have a good dose of extrovert in me, so I haven’t been getting that side of my energy income lately, which made it that much harder to say good bye to those beautiful, curious and adventurous American friends!

Hmmm after that was Midsummer, which was actually not wildly eventful, like the stereotypical celebration. To celebrate the 4th of July, I went up to Norway! Wow. Pure bliss, stunning fjords, peaceful mornings on the water, cute Norwegians delivering bread by boat, etc. Just an awesome kickstart to my summer mindset of thinking creatively and with bravery.

Bravery, though. It takes a leap of faith, and courage to change paths of what you’re doing. I’ve been telling myself that I have enough “discomfort” in my life by living in a different culture and country, but the truth is that I’ve become a bit too comfortable in my “discomfort”- if that even makes sense. With a lot of thought and reflection this summer, I’ve realized I’m not making the active, brave, time consuming, thought-provoking and challenging steps that I need to (and used to) do in order to move more toward my goal at being the best example and teacher and inspiration toward sustainability. I do a lot by connecting with others, but I need to take it a step further by putting my words into action.

I’m going to start with spending more time outdoors, connecting with people- both near and far, really trying to find and make the most out of every situation and encounter I have. I can focus on where the positive aspects are- what I’m learning, being grateful for what’s around me. It’s a far too easy spiral to go down: criticising yourself, your surroundings, your thoughts, your progress, your goals…unless you’re quickly looking at the up-side of those criticisms, there’s nothing good coming from that negative track. Surround yourself with the people, activities, and beliefs that you love and inspire you and then zone in on your own thoughts and goals.