Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Are You Excited About? The Key to Happiness

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This is a slightly different theme to my usual Blogs and a little less tongue in cheek. One of the most baffling contradictions I see in life is the prevalence of unhappy joyless people surrounded by an environment of milk and honey and more choices to do, have and experience than ever in the history of the world. Are we pre- programmed to be cynical or just blind to the 'miracle' of existence, or is it a mal-adjustment of our perspective lens? You be the judge

Excitement, anticipation, aspiration or however you want to label the charge that gets you up in the morning is probably almost completely aligned with you happiness quotient.

Some of the most cranky, uninspiring people I’ve ever crossed paths with have invariably shared a couple of personality traits. One is ambivalence, that devil may care attitude, that on the surface presents as cool and unruffled, but upon closer examination manifests its true essence, that of disenchantment.

A second trait shared by these joyless poor souls is a lack of empathy. Perhaps this is not a trait, but certainly a common denominator. An inability to care about another individual is as big a barrier to communication and rapport development as you can get. 

I suspect the latter affliction is genetic, but the former, that air of boredom is a learned handicap and often a precursor to depression.

It’s hard to be bored, ambivalent or dare I say depressed when you’re excited. So what’s exciting you right now? What are you aspiring to? When was the last time you rekindled those childhood feelings of Christmas Eve, awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus?

Alas for many, those feelings have remained lost in the memories of childhood.

Some reasons to be excited: 

• Start or end of a relationship!
• Starting a family.
• Moving in to a new career or business venture.
• Training for a marathon or triathlon.
• Building a house, or writing a book.
• Losing 15 kilos.
• Connecting with lost family or friends.
• Learning a new language or pursuing an adult education program.

There are an infinite number of inspiring projects that we can focus on and yet for many, there is another route taken. This route is that of expedience. Expedience is the trade off of a quick fix that is tension relieving rather than goal achieving. 

An hour at the casino can seem temporarily exciting and fruitful, whilst simultaneously seducing us into believing there is any substance or foundations beyond the momentary thrill. A snort of C or a shot of H can have a similar effect. Short-term gain, life time misery.

Excitement is rarely something that happens to us. Rather it is an outcome of pre-planned intentions. Waiting to win Lotto or bump in to good fortune will produce a very predictable outcome, that of disillusionment and frustration. 

Setting unrealistic goals however creates a new energy. New ventures become adventures and lead to destinations often unpredicted. Limitations become less clear and reasons to be cheerful emerge.

We have a choice. We can focus on the countless reasons to justify our misery, and I’m sure they literally are immeasurable. Or we can choose to focus on new horizons and possibilities, which are equally infinite. Yes I’ve spotted the paradox-but you know what I mean.

If you can find just a half a dozen reasons to be genuinely excited and focus your attention almost exclusively on this for the next 21 days, your energy, enthusiasm and happiness will change utterly.

Hoping this finds you with a compelling reason to get out from under the covers-Cheers Kiaran - all comments appreciated-

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Having Too Many Followers Maybe Killing Your Social Media Experience.

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I have way too many Twitter connections. Let’s not delude ourselves that they are Followers-that’s a misnomer if ever there was one. Yep that’s the price you pay for accepting every request. What you say! How can you have too many? Isn’t the goal to have an infinite number of Tweeters in your tribe? Those with the most followers win-surely.

Ok perhaps I’m being overly wry. But have you considered the downside to building a large Twitter base?

  • Too many tweets from anonymous twits create a din, not an orchestra.
  •  The tweets that you actually see are completely random and virtually impossible to engage.
  •  Too many ‘followers’ assume that they now have an intimate relationship with you that justifies them sending you automated direct messages-that under any other circumstances would be considered spam.

Why bother then? Well of course it’s not ALL bad! A few minutes browsing especially following the retweets (those are usually the interesting ones) can be very illuminating, diversionary and lead you in directions that you’d never expect. 

There’s also that nagging feeling that Twitter is a social medium that hasn’t fully evolved yet and perhaps its better to be in it and see how it all unfolds than be a bystander.

Enough about Twitter. This Blog was originally supposed to touch on that nebulous concept called engagement. This is somewhat different to connectivity. Hook me up to your Facebook page and I guess we’re connected perhaps never to directly communicate. Engagement is immeasurably more powerful than a degree or two of separation. 

We may share an acquaintance, but that doesn’t mean we are now related. We do however have a reference point that gives us an excuse to become acquainted.

It’s ironic how much time many social networkers spend chasing people to add to their collection and then proceed to sprint off into the distance with barely a wave.

Here’s a thought. Not very original but I would suggest profound in its effectiveness. Make a decision to actively engage 10 or 20 of your connections per day for the next 21 days and be prepared to see a quantum shift in your online experience.

How? Sorry If I’m over doing the rhetorical questions!

Respond to comments. No I don’t mean copy and paste the same response all over the place like a poodle introducing herself to the neighbourhood! Check out someone’s Facebook profile and see if you have anything in common that you can make a genuine comment about. If you have nothing in common why are they in your social network? Not many people do this and when it happens it creates a much bigger impression than you’d think.

Check out people’s blogs-and yes you’ve guessed it-leave a relevant comment. I don’t mean something like ‘hey dude great Blog check out my GRQ affiliate program it’s awesome!”

Once you’ve built some genuine connections you can then ask them to visit your Youtube channel or blog and many will reciprocate. Imagine if just 1% of your social media connections popped by your site and left a friendly and supportive comment. You’d feel like an absolute celebrity. How come? Well work out how many people that is. More than likely 1 in 1000 will take the trouble to so unprompted.
Authenticity takes time to become second nature. Human nature has a natural default towards competitiveness, which alas is not great glue for social adhesiveness. 

  • Instead of trying to impress, try being impressed.
  • Be interested instead of trying to be interesting
  • Give compliments rather than chase them.
  • Tell people how inspiring they are.
You get the message. I know, you already know all this-we all do-but sometimes we kinda get sucked in to the vortex of following the crowd-shouting ever louder to get our message out there-only to realise no one’s listening. 

Hope this doesn’t sound too evangelical!

If you can be bothered leave a comment and yep I do practice what I preach and I’ll gladly reciprocate-of course if you think it’s all rubbish then feel free to ignore.

Hope your universe is unfolding well for you!

Cheers Kiaran

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Hope Your Delusions are Working Well for You!

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“I read the news today, oh boy” The Beatles lyrics echo like a broken record in my head. If you’re under 30 I’ve probably lost you with the insect and antique references!
As an avid scanner of newspapers, another soon to be outmoded medium, I’ve been wondering lately if there is any correlation between media exposure to ignorance or wisdom.
In Ireland there is an idiom, ‘cop on to yourself’, meaning to get a life and not to be so stupid. It’s one of those neat rebukes that is rarely taken offensively, but serves to highlight and dismiss pretentiousness and stupidity. Which I would argue are one and the same anyway.
I would also argue that the degree to which we are exposed to the latest media expose is actually more likely to delude us into believing we are savvy, attuned and wise. If you didn’t tune in to the latest current affairs show, read the newspapers or even listen to the radio, what would happen?
No doubt the world would continue to unfold on a daily basis. However your prejudices might subtly change.  They would become intrinsic and less a factor of the editorialized view of your friendly local media mogul!
Imagine how you’d act if you were ignorant of the Great Economic Global Recession 2, imagine if you’d even missed the first one. You would probably go about your life, in the eyes of your colleagues as an idiot savant, blissfully unaware of how ludicrous it is to be optimistic in such times of crisis and doom.
I have recently been informed by someone ‘who knows’ that the whole economic world as we know it is about to collapse in a heap, don’t worry, it won’t happen until September! Wow, I’m glad I know that, it would be such a shame to be unprepared when it happens.
Bad news sells. All news is heavily edited. The headline news that ‘yet another surfer has been killed by a shark,’ is scary enough to make you think twice about venturing in to the water. Curiously you’ll probably still cross the road and take a far greater risk of getting run over by a bus. Not so newsworthy perhaps.
House prices maybe tipped to drop dramatically. Interest rates maybe predicted to go through the roof. Global warming may destroy the icecaps whilst simultaneously leading to a dramatic increase the sales of sun cream in Ireland!
Funnily enough it’s almost certain that those who choose not to tune into the ‘truth’ and continue on a daily basis to be proactive, learn new skills, aspire to new challenges and ignorantly go against the flow will mysteriously thrive.
The closest definition I have of the meaning of life is pretty simple. ‘All truth is contextual.’ If this is so, then all our prejudices and behaviour triggers are at the mercy of those that create the context. 
So I think I’ll just ‘cop on’ to myself and ignore the conventional wisdom of the better-informed preachers of doom and destruction.
Hope your delusions are working well for you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are You Depressed or Just Having a Bad Hair Day?

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The following Blog is written with intention of providing a wry observation on Life Matters and I am flattered if it encourages commentary-however no offense is intended to those, celebrity or otherwise who are under the curse of depression and a link* is provided below to some resources that may prove useful.

In a celebrity obsessed modern culture which parades the foibles, inadequacies and fallibilities of these tabloid icons on the red carpet of our social consciousness, I ask the question: When did it become quaint to embrace serious malaise as trendy?

Depression seems to have taken over the mantle from suicide as the new chic of uber-modern social currency. How so?

I don’t expect delinquent athletes, supermodels or rock stars to provide a moral compass or embrace the mantle of role models. And yet by virtue of the sheer visibility of their every stumble and muttered obscenity, they do indeed have a profound influence on the malleable mind.

A demise of a tenuous flirtation leads to headline quotes of suicidal consideration. A couple of unfortunate set backs become the trigger for a confession of the debilitating effects of lifelong depression.

This craving for social sympathy camouflaged behind the crocodile tears of a self obsessed need for attention completely undermines and dilutes the very real misery suffered by those with clinical ailments.

If my goldfish dies perhaps the appropriate emotion is momentary sadness. If my football team loses the emotion is escalated to disappointment. My wife no doubt would find it unfathomable that I would have any emotion about the result of my football heroes! Bereavement crosses into the realm of grief. These are all normal symptoms of all but the local sociopath.

Suicidal tendencies are an obvious indication of a severe mental health issue. At the microscopic core of our human essence is a survival instinct that has evolved since time began.

Depression and disappointment should not be confused. Disappointment is the precursor to many a great endeavour. There is an innate need to prove ourselves to our parents and later to our children and those whom we look up to. The fear of coming up short is the fire that fuels many a great expedition.
Depression however is debilitating.

Disappointment is a signal that something needs to be changed. An indication that we’re not getting the results we’d like. The response? Change job, relationship, country, diet, attitude, or any number of daily choices that lead to our status quo. Voila! Disappointment dissipates as new life experiences manifest.

How we label our emotions can become self-fulfilling. I’m irrationally optimistic. If I can recalibrate an emotion back a click or two it invariably helps. Outrage morphs into disappointment. Disappointment dilutes to become irksome. Annoyance is barely worth the effort.

Of course this all falls by the wayside in the event of dodgy refereeing decision against my team, then all bets are off!

Here’s hoping your emotions are treating you well.

*Link to Resources