How To Practice Vulnerability and Honesty And Live A Meaningful Life

“Don’t show your weaknesses to anyone”

Sound familiar? I grew up in a culture where expressing your emotions and voicing your opinion would not be appreciated:

  • “Show up” – be strong, numb your emotions;
  • Talk about your achievements, your status and always be sure to avoid controversial topics;
  • Follow your traditions, culture or religion;
  • Meet the expectations thrust upon you by people around you;
  • Don’t make your boss mad.

In school you’re a student that should follow your teacher, at home – you’re a kid who needs to listen to your elders.

For society and relatives – you should grow up to be someone on the “right path”.

I hated this culture: wasting time on talks that don’t matter, maintaining relationships that do not provide fulfilment, making choices because it is “good to do it” in the eyes of society.

Hiding things, stressing out if you’re not perfect.

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It’s a culture of shame. A culture of fear that we’re not good enough

Dr. Brene Brown – a research professor, spent the last thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame.

(she is my teacher, guiding me on the path to becoming a “wholehearted” person, and I recommend that you study her work).

She found that shame is the most powerful emotion. It stops us from being vulnerable and authentic.

Her research shows that for both women and men, shame feels the same way,
but is triggered differently – there are certain expectations that society dictates, that if you don’t meet, cause you to feel shame.

For women, the main trigger of shame is: “Do it all, do it perfectly and never let anyone see you sweat.”

It’s about looking perfect, having the perfect body and appearance, being perfect in all roles – as a wife, a mother and at work.
Women are supposed to be small and quiet, submissive and agreeable, the desire for sex is seen as shameful.

For men, the number one trigger of shame is being perceived as being weak.

It’s the fear of not being wealthy enough, tough enough or smart enough.
It’s also about emotional control, primacy of work, the pursuit of status, and displays of violence.

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I went through my journey of escaping the trap of shame triggers and being vulnerable.

During University, I felt tired to prepare “speeches” for my parents, thinking twice about what to tell them about my life.

We would talk about exams, but not about social work or friends.
Sharing plans but not dreams.
We would talk about achievements but not learnings.
I was running a show called “Everything is on Track”.

But I wanted to be able to share anything – quitting a job, falling in love, failures, crazy dreams.

For a long time, I was scared of changing my relationship with my parents.
On a very deep level we all want to be loved, supported and appreciated, and being imperfect and not matching expectations is a risk that seems to be unacceptable.
A risk that may involve losing their respect.

But when I opened up, it wasn’t that dramatic. All those societal triggers were just stupid bullshit!

Yes, it was hard for them initially to accept something that they might have preferred not to hear.
It was hard for me to accept that I was not matching my parent’s vision for my life.
However.. people who love you – won’t give up on you.
Our connection completely changed and became really strong.

Since then I started to be authentic. It really changed the way I experience life.

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6 simple steps to vulnerability and honesty

When you’re vulnerable and honest – you don’t hide anything, you have only people around you who accept you, you have only meaningful conversations, you spend energy and time on what matters, you simply live a life that you want.

The contrast is like moving from a cloudy and hazy city to an environment filled with mountains and clear skies and fresh air, enjoying every colour, sound and smell.

It feels as though if you were to die tomorrow – you won’t regret any moment you spent on your well-lived life.

It’s not an easy path, because you need to be ready to hear the truth. To lose some relationships or jobs…. but if you want to have only true connections and meaningful projects – It’s the only way to live.

The good news is that you can build a habit of vulnerability.

Here are 6 steps based on my experience:

  1. Know your values and connect with them daily.
  2. Express emotions.
  3. Observe and notice.
  4. Be kind to yourself.
  5. Empower others.
  6. Move your body.

An explanation of  these steps is in this infographics:

Learn 6 steps to practice vulnerability and honesty and live a meaningful live.

Enjoy! I promise you, it’s an incredible journey.

I changed from being a person who didn’t know how to share my opinions and express my feelings to someone whose friends tell me “I know you’ll tell me the truth”

It’s a fun, colourful and meaningful life!

Thank you to every teacher I have met along my journey. Thank you for giving me feedback, thank you for accepting me. You’re the reason I have become a more wholehearted person

P.S. Photographs by Snaps N Straps Photography

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How to Create an Environment to Flourish

90% Of Who You Are – Is Your Environment.

“No, you create your reality from the inside!” – you might say.

True, I believe that everything starts from your thoughts and your internal world, but. If you want to grow a flower, you plant a seed and provide the right conditions: temperature, light, water, air.  If you want to grow yourself, do the same: create an environment that supports your growth, success, and inspires and help you flourish. It’s as important as working on your internal world.

I’m inviting you to evaluate your environment from 1 to 10 and think what do you want to change:

An Environment that helps you flourish

An Environment that helps you flourish

What about you? What will you do today in order to create an environment that helps you flourish?
P.S. This post is inspired by my recent trip – attending A-Fest, staying with Kai and Admir, visiting Lorenze & Yakobo, Vic & Diana, talking to Diletta. Thank you, guys, for inspiration, I’m changing my environment 😉

How to Create Your Life Power Bank

Do you have situations in life where you feel unhappy, or you judge yourself and you feel helpless? How often do you react on people’s anger or on external stress?

I had a lot of situations when I would freak out if something is not happening in a way I planned, I would feel miserable and judge myself because of negative words from other people of if I failed. And guess what – I can get sick because or reaction to external events and processing all emotions from outside.

And I started to question myself: “How can I be healthy and happy no matter what?”

Imagine, if each of us will have a life power-bank and can recharge ourselves anytime. So I decided to create one for myself.

And I started to think what makes human beings in general and me to stay still and happy, I started to explore different practices, analyze my level of health and my mood in correlation with activities I do.

Because I like systematic approach, I have chosen as my system or coordinates levels of existence and different types of energy that human needs for each of them.

There are many theories like that, but combined everything in 5::

  • Physical level (Body and Breath)
  • Intellectual level (Mind)
  • Spiritual level (Soul)
  • Subconscious (Memory)
  • Connection (Ego)

Once I found sources of recharging each type of energy, once I discovered practices and activities, once I built my lifestyle – I feel stable and strong, no matter what happens in life – I have my unlimited life power bank :)

Improving any of these types of energy by itself can change life, seriously!

But you can go further and build habits and lifestyle supporting you – then you’ll have a personal recipe of being resistance and happy and you won’t depend on external factors anymore. The beauty of this power bank – it’s portable, because you carry your lifestyle anywhere, no matter which country or city you’re travelling to.

I’m sharing here my practices that I experienced and that I do on daily basis, only proven information:

Let’s start from physical level:

1. Eat right, sleep well, drink more water.

Have you ever observed your mood and productivity level in dependence on food you eat?

There is a direct correlation between it. You feel the difference of how your car moves depending on petrol quality, right? The same with a way you treat your body.

There are many studies on each product and it’s good to understand what’s your grocery basket should look like.

I have chosen to eat mostly “greens” and “proteins” – veggies, fruits, berries, eggs, chicken, fish because they provide me needed “power”, but don’t take a lot of energy to digest it, the opposite from bread, rice, potato, fried food.

My menu is simple: fruits/smoothie/juice/berries/oats/eggs for breakfast; soup/chicken/chickpeas or fish with veggies for lunch; salad/cereal for dinner (with light dinner next morning you’ll feel yourself younger).

Although I love to taste different national dishes, to have family dinners – but it’s more an exclusion rather than a daily habit.

Another rule I have is to drink 3 liters of water a day – it’s helpful for a skin and general well-being (plain water, not soda or juice). Once I started doing it – I don’t have headaches.

There are also life-hacks on how to stimulate your brain – bullet-proven coffee is a good example of it.

Do measure quality and quantity of your sleep and influential factors?

The quantity is all about the discipline going to bed at the same time, and better – earlier (this is tough for me). Also 15-30 minutes of napping after lunch is good for a health – a quick refreshment.

Quality comes with being relaxed when you are about to sleep, slowing down your mind and body processes (bathing/reading/tea/good blanket) can help, definitely not exercising 1-2 hours before going to sleep.

2. Move, exercise – choose practices that raise not only your muscles but your emotions and limits.

I prefer multifunctional and conceptual sports like yoga, dancing, surfing, climbing, running instead of going to gym.

You learn a new discipline and it’s a new lifestyle, it’s a new concept that expands your brain and limits.

You become part of world-wide community who shares same values with you.

It’s a game with rules, levels and while you’re focusing on the routine you’re strengthening your body.

You also stay in flow and it’s a wonderful feeling that makes people happy – you’re focused, fully in process, no other thoughts disturb you, you live the moment fully and connected to your inner-self.

Emotional fulfillment comes with constant practice when you master your skill and progressing, you overcome new challenges  – and it also develops your character, it became your life experience, learnings on how to achieve your goals no matter what – your brain will store this habit and you can apply it in any sphere of life.

My favourite physical activity is outdoor sport (surfing, snowboarding, hiking, cycling, running) – it’s also spiritual experience – it’s a fun form of meditation for me – because you’re connected to nature in addition to all other benefits like being in flow, exercising – you’re living a beautiful memorable moment.

Team sports in addition to other benefits give you social connection, you learn how to be a good team-player, how to compete. Also you learn how to use different types of emotions in a right moment – sometimes you need to be fast and overexcited, sometimes – calm and focused.

I started loving sport quite late – last years in high school and then in university, when I joined aerobics classes my trainer was asking us: “How can you control and level up your life if you can’t even pull up your body?”.

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3. Breath: in and out.

Breath connects body, mind and soul – and we forget that without breath we can’t live even more than an hour.

I recently added it to my morning routine between yoga and meditation 10-minute breathing – and it’s kick-ass practice! It really helps resist stress, clean-up all morning worries and doubts, refill your body with air and new energy. So you start your day fully alive and excited about upcoming events, you also more still and calm if anything stressful happens.

This habit takes time to implement, but I never knew so simple and powerful tool to stay healthy and live longer.

Now, Intellectual level:

4. Clarity and life vision – it’s the most important step. 

A human brain works better, faster and more productive on one goal in the opposite of when there are many tasks – brain gets lost trying to figure out what problem to solve. That’s why an uncertainty gives us worries, fears and depressions. And that’s the reason why clarity is so powerful.

Once you have a clear goal – it’s easy to say “yes” or “no” to any new opportunity, you have your personal compass for decision-making process.

Secondly – if you have not only plan but a vision that consists of your dreams, that truly makes you excited and emotionally engaged – then magic on a metaphysical level is starting – you attract right people, right projects, right things happen even without your involvement. Because your dreams and emotions make you connected to a higher power and laws of the Univers start working for you.

That’s why if you don’t have a vision or you’re not excited enough to wake up every morning, or you have “to-do” list that you created being logical, but not emotional – then it’s time to change it.

Life vision – it’s sounds like something big and you might think: “I’m not ready for it” or “I don’t believe, it’s just wasting time”. But it’s not hard and there are many tools to create it. You need not more than 2-3 hours for any of exercises that help you in life vision creation. Choose a place where no one will disturb you, clean and free up your mind, don’t limit yourself and list down things that you really want in life – I have several favorite exercises – vision board, future interview, 20-lives-exercise, 3 most important questions.

If creating a vision is simple, following it requires daily actions. Once you have it – make it visual, create a board, or put your list somewhere in your room, so you can see it every day. That’s how you will connect your thoughts with it, you will visualize moments when it will happen, your brain will find solutions how to get there.

Of course, life will make its corrections and changes on the way, will open opportunities that you didn’t see – it’s normal and it’s also important to go with a flow sometimes, listen what is around you. Life is a journey, not a destination, but we all die one day, and as Steve Jobs said “Death is very likely the best single invention of life.

It is Life Change Agent”, if you won’t take responsibility on how to live your life, it will just pass really fast.

So I choose to create my journey instead of just following a flow that society created for me. What about you?

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5. Train your brain.

Our brain has its a main function to keep us safe, and if any stress happens the brain will find a solution in order to bring us back to a safety zone. And it stores our reactions based on the previous experience and keeps this information as different triggers: if eating chocolate brings you joy, when you’ll be stressed your brain will give a solution: go eat chocolate and decrease your stress (just because chocolate triggered as a joy).

Knowing that we can create brain triggers that we want, because experience for brain it’s not only actual actions but also what you’re telling it to yourself on conscious and subconscious state of mind – you can consciously trigger your reactions, you can train your brain – the same way you train your body.Let me give you an example of triggering reaction on crisis: let’s say, a software is down and you’re handling this system and you’re losing new customers every minute it’s down: you can be stressed, angry on all the developers, shout or cry or, instead, you can be excited about the situation – and take it as an opportunity to find new solutions. So the trigger will be “crisis situation => wow, new opportunities” instead of “crisis situation – this is stress, this is so bad, we’re dying”. Positive triggers also help your brian focus on solutions, so you’ll actually convert any bad situation into something interesting.

Here are several attitudes as new reactions and triggers to respond to stressful situations in a positive way:

Gratefulness – just be grateful and excited about any kind of situations – just tell to yourself why you’re grateful for this moment and, surprisingly, solutions will immediately come. It’s proven that gratefulness is one of the most powerful practice, so I recommend to start with practicing it by listing (writing or during your meditation) 10 things that you’re grateful for today – it’s a first step, it’s a daily practice – and if you do it you’ll go to another level of being grateful every single moment.

Acting with love – just do with love everything – eating, hugging, working, listening – and your brain will also trigger so many new things to be happy about.

Being present – a habit of enjoying the moment will actually make you live longer (because you’ll live all 15 minutes of eating this cake, not being distracted by hundred thoughts during 10 of them and only 5 enjoying your food). (the trigger: I’m enjoying the moment => I’m happy). So once your brain will be trained for it – you’ll be much more focused and happy.

Stop criticizing yourself – if something happens talk to yourself the way you’ll talk to your best friend instead of treating as the worst person. Talk to yourself not in a manner “I’m wrong” but “I did it wrong”, so you won’t critisise yourself, but analyze actions you took.

And here are some habits of how to expand your brain capacity:

Make more decisions – it’s also a trick on how to go over annoying doubts in your head, because uncertancy, not having a clear goal – that what bring mess and your brian doesn’t know what to do, that’s how you feel nervious.

Constantly learn new things. Your brain needs to expand itself (remember we’re using only 20% of our capacity), that’s how you will not only grow your potential, but also it activates new areas of your brain, it helps you to look at situations differently, react faster, adapt to new situations. Read more, listen to podcasts on topics that you’re intersted, watch documentaries – free up some time for it, do it together with your family/friends.

Travel more or live in different places – exploring new places, cultures, languages give you another perspective of life, it teaches you to be more tolerant and see more ways on solving one problem, it gives you new ideas. Imagine how many new pictures will be stored in your brain every second.

Eat elephant by pieces – again, your brain needs focus and clarity. Complex issues or situations don’t give clarity, only mess and stress.

6. Do you work with your subconscious mind and memory? 

Sometimes even you have you vision and making effort to achieve it, but some beliefs from childhood and standards that was given you by society, your parents and you teachers stop you.

Most common unlimited beliefs are: “I can’t be my real self or I’ll be judged”; “I can’t ask for what I want lest I get rejected”; “I don’t have enough resources”; “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have education in order to start something”, “I need to work hard to have enough money”, “I need to be the same as my family and relatives. etc.

You probably even don’t remember some moments, but our long-term memory works in a way that heartful moments will stay for a longer time – probably your first days in a new school and how other kids were judging you, painful words of your auntie, failure in relationship, some hard moment with your loved once…

Especially in childhood then whatever teachers, parents, your school friends, TV advertisement or movies tell us about money, relationship, success, health  – our brain stores it as a true statement. They make us helpless – because we usually don’t even realize that we have them. They are in our deep level of long-term memory, it’s almost in our DNAa, it’s in subconscious mind.

The good news is that you can remove and/or reprogram them.

And it’s a first step if you want to live your dream life.It’s a shortcut, your 20% of 80% of results. It’s like preparing right soil for a gorgeous garden you wanna grow.You’ll ask me how – here are list of my favorite books and practices:- Richard Bach books (“Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, “Illusions”)
– “The Secret book” by Rhonda Byrne
– “Conversation with God” by Neale Donald WalschBut reading books – it will give you ideas, in order to remove/reprogram some belief – you need to practiceIf you read those books – you’ll have an idea and will be able to do first steps, but it’s not enough – you have to practice it, it takes time to be free from something that was in your blood for so many years – or you can work with specialists.

While working in Mindvalley, I started to practice EFT – Tapping – it’s something powerful and what you can do by our own, as well as meditation!My favorite authors – Marisa Peer, Christie Marie Sheldon, Tony Robins, Joe Vitale, Jeffrey Alen. If you have a chance to go to their seminar or go through their program – it will be much more efficient way.

7. Do spiritual practices – it’s easier that you think.

Spiritual practice is not only leaving for a month among monks and meditating the whole day or spending one year in silence – it’s about being connected to yourself, listening to your intuition&soul and being connected to a higher power – you can call it the Universe, God, Cosmic Energy or something else.
It’s quite stupid not to use these sources – you don’t need anything – just “plug-in” – done, another source of energy is there for you.How? I found a lot of ways, these moments usually happens when you’re:
– fully present, you don’t have any distracting thoughts in your mind;
– focused on what you do, you’re in flow;
– grateful for the moment and happily enjoying life.

Here is a list of my spiritual practices: 

– Nature – mountains, sea, forest – when I seat at the top of the mountains, observing beauty of Earth, breathing life – I feel pure happiness, nothing else matters;
– Outdoor activities –  snowboarding, hiking, surfing, cycling, walking… When I surf I feel in flow, my emotions are dancing and I feel connected with each wave that I’m trying to catch;
– Extreme sport and adventures – high-hiking, parasailing, skydiving – all of these activities require letting go all your fears, you rely on the Universe;
– Painting, creating art, crafting – generally creation process requires focus and you usually do it because you like it, you also trying to listen to your soul while creating;
– Listening to your intuition – when any doubt on any decision trying to shut up voices and listen to true yourself;
– Energy healing practices. Simply “energy ball” exercise or meditation – you don’t need any environment or equipment for it – no need to be at the forest or go to the mountain – it’s just 5-20-minute daily practice – and whatever you can make a daily habit – gives you stronger impact. I implemented it to my morning & evening routines and it completely changed the way I live. I can definitely recommend Jeffrey Alen or Marisa Peer programs for it.

Once you’ll start doing spiritual practices, whatever it is for you – you’ll be surprised that things are going smoothly, you get things you want, your thoughts easily become reality, magic is around and the Universe is there for you :)

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8. The connection is a top factor for a fulfilling long life according to a biggest Harvard’s study. 

Harvard researchers studied people for 75(!) years and found that one major thing makes people happy – connection with others. And connection means not a quantity of people you know, but the quality of relationship with your close ones.First of all – choose wisely people with whom you want to be, don’t waste time on people who don’t excite you or don’t value you. But if you find ones you want to be with – make an effort and make sure you build a connection with them.

Your family, life-partners and friends – make sure that you are involved in their lives, make sure it’s not only one roof that you’re sharing with your family but also feelings – it’s easy – you can start with simple things like asking open questions during your dinner or call: “What are you grateful for today?”, “What did you learn today?”, “Is there something that bothering you?”, “How are you feeling”…

Remind them that you love them – not once an year, but evey day. Spend more quality time together where you can know each other more, do some team activities, or simply talk.

Your coworkers – sometimes we talk only business with our project partners, but we probably miss a chance to spend working days with friends instead, if you’ll turn your business partners into your friends. How often do you invite your colleagues for lunch, how curious you’re about them? Don’t wait when you’ll be invited – act first. (Or if you don’t feel any interest in your coworkers – you might be in a wrong field or company and it’s time to change it).

Volunteering and being part of communities based on mission or interest – it’s how you can find people with same values and understanding of life. I found most of my closest friends by doing social projects together. And it’s not only that – by volunteering you’re connected with something bigger than you – with your mission and idea. It’s a powerful and higher level of connection.

Give. By giving you’re separating your true self from your ego and being true self. Give by helping people around you – just one act of kindness a day, give by working on something that impacts the society, put your emotions to anything you do. I see it as the only way to live a fulfilled life.

Final part: ou might ask: “How to implement all of these practices – too many things?” 

The answer is  – start simple. Choose one habit at the time. You don’t need to do all in once, it doesn’t work this way – just choose one for the next months and do one simple action every day, in other words, instead of committing to do yoga during 60 days for 60 min in a fancy yoga-center, promise yourself to just do yoga every day during 60 days, some day you’ll do it for 60 min, other days – 5 min and that’s ok. I usually pick only 2 habits at the time, one that

requiresome physical (food, yoga), second something for the mind (like gratitude, etc.)

Here are simple steps on how to create a habit:

– simplify your practice into 1 single action that you can do every day, do it during 30-60 days (yoga 5-20 min a day)

plan specific time for your practice

– do it first, start your day with it (you’ll be so proud of yourself, it will bring your day up, also you’ll have less “opportunities” for excuses before your busyness has started).

make a ritual out of it and prepare all needed equipment in advance (put yoga mat near your bed, download online yoga course, charge your laptop, then the only thing you would need to do in the morning is to pull yourself to the mat)

– plan a reward, once you accomplish your goal but delay celebration until it’s done (no excuses – just repeat your ritual during 30-60 days, then celebrate and get something great for yourself. Why delay it – because you have to accomplish it fully, there is no way to jump over the precipice by 99%, right?)

be accountable to someone, even better – publicly announce your commitment – other people will support you, you’ll inspire others and will be inspired back, plus you can’t screw up when you do something public :)

– be conscious on how your practice benefits you – that’s how you create a new trigger in your mind: after you finish your yoga practice – enjoy the feeling, think about benefits that your body gets: that every day you look better, your organs become healthier, etc. Your brain will store this information as a sequence: action => reaction and if you’ll trigger your practice as a joy – your mind will push you to do it. (like your mind triggered that chocolate brings you joy, you can trigger that your good habits are also bring you joy and brain will remember it) .

Try new things, observe your reaction and keep in your life practices that are truly your sources of energy.

Nature it or running, spending time with your loved one or reading. Or you need many of them? Probably you’re happy to work 10 hours a day because you have fulfillment and joy at work? Probably cooking dinner for your family is the best event of the day? Whatever it is – if it makes you happy in a long-term way (there are many simple ways to feel short-term joy), make a daily habit out of it.  If only you’re ok with the concept of retirement and waiting to be done with job and then start

If you don’t want to wait until “you’ll leave this job”, or “when you’ll earn more”, or – don’t say you’re one of these people – your retirement. Life is here and now. And you can make it beautiful, joyful and be happy every day.

Just make your choice right now.

Thanks for your attention,

with love,

Alsu.

 

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My story on how one decision changed my life

How one decision changed my life

This post is for everyone who thinks there could be more to their life but isn’t sure how to change it.

Starting from December 2012:

I was working in Moscow at a very good company in terms of societal standards –-world-famous brand, good salary plus benefits (car, food, gym..etc), smart and result-oriented colleagues, and all at a national level of operations.

My parents were thrilled that after several years in AIESEC (and other crazy projects), their daughter finally was on the way to “setting up a stable life.”  I even had great friends close by, great living conditions, pursued my own hobbies and even had my own small business. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Yes, good. But not great.

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I wasn’t happy enough. Though my job was interesting, it was not meaningful to me and not in an area I saw myself longterm. Everyday I felt that I gave energy nowhere–spending time but not living life.

I thought to change some things, but was faced with so many hesitations. My parents were happy, and I had a “future” at my current job. Plus, why change everything? I thought, “other people don’t have even this,” and I was not sure if I would find something better.
I still attempted to find a new job, but had no immediate success. I was so busy – I didn’t have time and energy to even think about what I wanted.

Time was running out… each day, week, month… I kept telling to myself: “Next month I’ll look for something else– I’m too busy to think about it now.”

One year passed.

In November 2013, it finally happened.

And It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. people kept asking me “Why did you do that? It’s economical crisis now”, or “What did you find better? Nothing yet? Ummm…” That time I had only my personal business, operations weren’t huge, and my day-to-day living conditions were dependant on what I sold that day.

It was the most unstable time of my life, but worth all the rewards it would bring…

Today is November 2014 and I am living a completely different life, I will share just several things.

In just 2014 alone I have gone from completely instability to having one of the fullest years of my life.

1) I was part of organizing committee to one of the biggest world events–the Olympic games in SOCHI. This opportunity came to my life randomly. I spent 2 months in a great city near the sea and mountains, with wonderful people, all whilst creating an epic event. It’s one of the best experiences I had.

1016444_10203338717297471_740239410_n SOCHI 2014, Winter Olympic games: I lived near lovely mountains for 2 months

1926848_10201601886671638_429692397_nSOCHI 2014, Winter Olympic games: my team, at the half-pipe stadium

2) My friends came to my city and we spent time in the winter mountains together;

3) After the Olympics, I was living a lifestyle that I currently plan for my future – I had my small business, a part-time job within an amazing INTERSELIGER team, I even ventured out and explored other professional areas.

I had opportunity to work from many different places, to make my mornings as i like –  with yoga and meditations, to meet with friends. It’s maybe small things, but life consists of small things, right?

10256912_10203961213059476_7237450038766756972_nWorking from park :)

5) I spent almost 1 month with my family;

6) I found my place to live and work for next couples of years – after a 3-4 months selection process, Imoved to a new country, Malaysia, and began working for Mindvalley where I found all I want for my current period of life – international extremely talented team with different backgrounds but the same values, I’m making on-line products that changes lives of people and creating new education. And I’m working in a small team, where I can do a lot of different things, so it’ learning every day. Plus new country – I wanted to live in different countries for a while. I’ve now been here for a bit more than 3 months, and I don’t remember one day when I wasn’t happy.

10671222_10154569887475459_2403495589783540336_nwith my international colleagues celebrating success of a company in August

10329075_10205375063394796_2088328168482561703_nexploring new places in Malaysia

7) And I’m sure, that a lot of awesome projects, people and events will come to my life, that I will achieve all my dreams.

I know that every single day brings me love, learnings, meaningfulness, great people, and interesting experiences!

My 2014 has been one of the greatest years in my life (by the way, I have 2 months ahead, wo-hooo!!). I didn’t expect that my life would ever be like that.
So how did I do that?

I made a strong decision that I will be happy every day. I decided that i will do only what I really like. This was my new way of living, no matter what changes I had to make or no matter how scary.

Now, Getting there wasn’t easy for me.

While searching for jobs, I felt disheartened by the lack of good matches for me. There was also so many interviews and applications.
Also I didn’t have a stable source of money.
I felt that I failed while others achieved so much more than me.
I was trying to understand what i wanted – not based on education or society standards, but based on what I really wanted. But…

I started to meditate, visualise, feel gratitude for all moments I had and, most importantly, I believed that everything was great and had faith in my small steps forward.

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The scariest thing for me was telling my parents that I had quit my job. I had always wanted to make them happy, to “meet their expectations” and they had always told me to not even think about quitting the company I worked for.

I called them: “I quit my job. I have no options ahead and I don’t know what I want, and it will take time to me to understand and find”  (I was really really nervous).

But, unexpectedly, my father replied: ”Don’t take it so seriously. Life is too short and you are too young to worry about it – it’s just a job! You will find your way. We love you”.
That was so huge surprise for me, I realised that sometimes we create fear to be more than what it actually is! And we will never know “what will happen if” until we try that thing and face it.

Why do I share this? Because this is not just “quitting the job story.” This is making a decision about life.
At this moment, I don’t care what society tells me what to do, I live MY life.

I want to share my main learnings and I hope it will inspire at least someone:

1) Life is too short to just spend time without happiness and meaningfulness. Create it for yourself and make the decision to do it.

2) We always think our problems are bigger than what they actually are. Life is simple.
3) Everything big starts with one small step.

I wish that if you don’t like something in life, have the courage to change it and start with that one step you’ve just dreamed of taking (you know what this step should be). Most importantly, be happy every day of your life. From my experience, it can make a world of different and open your life to so many beautiful possibilities.

Please, feel free to leave your comment below.
With love,
Alsu

Rames Krishnasamy on How He Found His Passion in Art-Design

“I Have a Dream for Every Single Day” – Rames Krishnasamy on How He Found His Passion in Art-Design, Photography and Became a Master in it

“Trying is a first step — always try, don’t just sit there with your negative thoughts — eliminate it and just go for it”.

Rames is one of the most talented art-designer and photographer in Malaysia, he has 100+ artworks, runs exhibitions.  It’s always a pleasure to work with him – he is my colleague in Mindvalley. I asked him to share his story  because he is a role-model for me – he created himself,  he loves what he does and supports his lifestyle by doing it.

You’ll find a lot of insights about finding your talent and growing it to a master level and also Rames shares some secrets on how to be a great designer.

Check the video below or read an article – depends on which format you prefer.

I realised my passion in the bus

I was born and raised in Malaysia, my parents are from Kuala Selangor, I studied in primary school here in Kuala-Lumpur and then in Binary College in Pouching — I studied business, which is the most weird fact here, because my passion is more towards design.

While studying business I could feel that it’s not something that I really wanna do — I didn’t feel the excitement. And I started to search for something I like. While  travelling back and forward from home to college via bus — I had some books and magazines in my bag and I started reading them and watching designs and I thought to myself: “Wait a second,  why am I feeling more towards design than business?”

I saw ads in a magazine and I thought “I can do better. Why don’t I study it all by myself?”. It was the initiative that I took for myself, I downloaded 30-days trial software and that’s where it started.

I would see a movie poster and replicate it.

me-ironmanSince I knew that it’s my passion — the excitement gets better and better every day. Nothing works unless you do something.
 after
So, after time in college, I spent many hours on searching and enhancing my skills. I would see a movie poster and try to replicate it myself.
One of my favourite movies is “Iron Man” — he is the character whom I would love to be — so I started photoshopping myself as Iron man.

Open up magazines, trying to replicate movie posters, then trying to match back to the original poster –  that’s how I started learning design.

How to turn your passion in your profession and source of money? I created portfolio using whenever I have designed. 

Knowing that I don’t have any certs to use for interviews I created artworks on behance.net and then went to this job platforms and applied for several jobs using whenever I have like a portfolio.

And then surprisingly I had few replies and actually 3 offers. I was really shocked! My first job was in “DFA consultant” — I worked there for 4 years as a web-designer.

My first work was not in business, my passion moved me towards design, and I havr learnt a lot while working there — not only in design but also communications, interacting with different types of people. 

First thing you should do in order to become a better person in what you’re doing — to PRACTICE.

Practice is important in any job — not only in design, but also if you like photography or drawing or anything else. The way I do it — I’ll fix the time during weekend. Weekdays I’m pretty busy with my work — so on Saturdays and Sundays I’ll spend some time in front of my computer – I’ll go to any cafe nearby and start drawing.

Try to log down some hours to spend for yourself. Sundays I spend with my family but everyone knows about Saturdays: “Today we shouldn’t disturb Rames because he is in his zone, he needs to do something for himself”.

Do practice a lot — do not just think, do not just plan, saying to yourself “I’ll get it done tomorrow or day after” — instead spend some time and get it done today.

If you think you’re interested in design or art – try to know what you really want – it’s very broad.

The art is very broad — if you into drawing — start to purchase some books or go to the library — see what kind of art do you really wanna do — not only open up your canvas and saying to yourself: “Oh, I wanna do something, but I’m not pretty sure!”.

Design is very broad — there is web-design, there is graphic design, design for billboards, for CD covers, for TV ads… try to see what is that you’re interested in more, try to do research: how this was done, how I can do it better.

There are many artists in this world — think how will you stand among the rest, what is your uniqueness, how do you know it’s not been done before, so people will start look up to you.

If you know what you’re passionate about – start looking for devices.

Next steps would be slightly expensive. What do I mean by it? You should start looking for devices depending on what you do — like iMac for me — I need fast-processing computer, if you’re into drawing — you need canvas.

And you need to start to come up with a concept, let’s say if you want to design a billboard — start to do research — start with a sketch first, try to utilise your imagination. That’s where everything begins.

Imagination helps to process – when I open my computer I know from where to start

Inspiration comes… like even now, it’s hard to say… When it comes — I will open my phone and notepad in it and write points that I wanna do. Let’s say when I drive home — ok, do not try this yourself  (me: that’s how Malaysians drive) — but I’ll just put down things to my phone and I know what to do in a weekend.

Then I’ll open my points and start imagining. The imagination helps to process — when I open my computer and sit — I know from where to start, where to get these sources of images.

As I love to do photo-manipulations — I know where to find assets for it. And after I will check if this is what I really wanted, I’ll do design tricks and share it in social media.

My sources of inspiration? It’s in every moment, it’s magic! 

Firstly, it’s definitely, movies, the second is just thought when I am driving to the office, also while I’m working on a serious project, while I am talking to someone, while I am sipping a coffee, it’s just..how to say.. magic!

My first artwork is photoshopping myself as half-human – half-horse
hormes

 It’s basically photoshopping myself with a horse — half-human — half-horse — until now it’ve been talked by my colleagues and friends — so they kinda tease me with it.

My artwork is mostly movie-based. And it’s something that my audience like. 

I love watching movies. Also, I know that my audience is waiting — they know that Rames is going to do something.

lifeofpi

That’s how you utilize social media — because there are people who know that you can do it and they’re waiting for your next project. It motivates me as well! Facebook, twitter, instagram — it’s not only for photos but also a place to share artworks — that’s how I gain audience.

My favourite my artwork called “Cry me a river”

It’s an eye that tries to cry over a river. I got this idea from Michael Bubble — I was listening to the song “Cry me a river” and thought: “Such a nice words, what if it’s real!”

I made this artwork 6 years ago — still if I’ll open my flickr.com — a lot of people are commenting it. That’s actually how I decided to do more photo manipulations — and I’ve done hundreds of them until now.

 crymeariver

“How you can do it differently” – it’s the most important thing to understand for the artist.

How can someone get into you and ask: “I know you did this artwork!” and you’ll be like: “How do you know?” because even without your name on it — it has your style. If you wanna stand out — find your own uniqueness.

Resources and tools that I can recommend…

I spent some time on behance.com — you can find there a lot of artists and their artwork. What I’ll do — I won’t copy, but I’ll see how can I do differently.

I would also go to coolvibes.com and I’ll find top artists and their ratings according to top rates. Just surf there, it will inspire you.

When it comes to tools – my main tool is photoshop — that doesn’t mean that of you took landscape picture without clouds and you’re starting adding them. It’s more for colour corrections. Let’s not use photoshop to make your photography absolutely different from your original. Let say you made night shot and you’re editing the moon — let’s not do it — photoshop is for basic editing when it’s about photography.

When it comes to manipulation — we all know that it’s not real — so it’s ok to add multiple layers. I use about 6–10 images for one artwork.
So I’ll start looking for photos related to that artwork, I’ll go to devianart.com — they have tons of stock photos, you just need to request your need. But even as a model I often use myself.

I started my photography with my Nokia phone.

The first device that I used was my nokia phone — pretty shity camera.  I started taking pictures and discovered that I’m into landscapes — and I started to invest money there — I knew that I need to buy a better phone, then I bought my first camera — DCLR D50 and then D90 — so, I’m using full frame camera now.

And I like to travel — so thinking about landscapes — I just got back from China — amazing landscape of mountains.

china-mountain 

I tattooed mountains in my hand

I love hiking because you need to suffer first and then you see something amazing on the top. I spent some time hiking Broga Hills, Bukit Tabur — it’s local hills in Malaysia and then my first big trip was to Nepal and I discovered that mountains is a most majestic thing that God built and we always look up to mountains.me_n_mountain

rames-tattoo-mountains

So when I got back I tattooed mountains in my hand. And then I went to other mountains near Tibet and it was mind-blowing experience — people are friendly there and mountains are epic.

 

Discipline is crusial. If you know you wanna get this done — no excuses.

 What helps me to achieve what I want — first of all, discipline. You’re paid to do work — I’ll get that done it first and follow by my other projects. When you go home you have some free time — lock down this time and you go like: ”You know what — I have several hours before going to a bed, let me try to do something now, let me practice now”. If you know you wanna get this done — no excuses: “Oh, I kinda feel sleepy, I don’t think so I can do it”.

Try — it’s a first step — always try to not just sit there having all this negative thoughts — eliminate that and just go for it.

I wanna do something new every day.

That’s the first thing I have in my mind every single morning — whether it’s at work or doing my personal stuff. Because we are here just for once, I am not sure if we’ll be rewarded after, I don’t want to waste this life by doing something which is not good for myself. That’s how I start my day — doing something new every day.

My Dad is my biggest role model in life. 

Many years ago, when I started to work as a designer — there are frustrations – for example, we all know that clients like to change stuff — so I came back from work and smashed my bag, my Dad saw it and asked me:
– “What’s happening there, you look frustrated”.
– “I don’t think that design is something I can do”
– “Why?”
– “Because clients keep on changing stuff (designers get mad on that) — it’s pretty hard”.

My Dad just pulled me there: “If you think it’s hard will Neil Armstrong go up there, touch a moon? Do you think that’s hard compare to what you’re doing right now?”

From that day till now it motivates me to not give up. And in that case I started to think: “How can I talk to my clients to identify their problems and how can I help them?”

To younger version of myself I would say: “Do not give up!”

If you have a dream — work on it, don’t leave it as a dream, you have to suffer in order to get something better.

Youth nowadays is lucky — devices are cheaper compare to my times (I’m 35 years old btw) — I struggled — it took several years to buy even computer. Utilise what you have now for a better future.

I have a dream every day. 

Guys you might think that it’s something really big like to be the best designer ever — not really. I have a dream every day — dream to get this done next week, I have a dream to finish this artwork today. It’s me — my passion. I don’t want to have distraction, I feel satisfied when I get things done.

Time is something very important.

This second that you’re watching right now — it’s already passed — you can never get that second back — it’s just passed. Do you have anything to do? No matter what — something important — passion that you have — you wanna sing a song, you wanna write a blog, you wanna draw a canvas, you wanna design this manipulation — don’t wait tomorrow — today is the day that you thought about it — start today, tomorrow no one could promise that you will be alive. No one knows if this world is gonna be there. Time is something important. Don’t waste it.

I have a feeling that I wasted many years not discovering my passion.  Do what you like, do what makes you happy, do something good for other people, inspire people, start today.

Check the full interview here =>

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