6 Paradoxic Truths of Life

Turning obstacles into advantages, thanks to a painting from 1961

Heyo,

Nik here with a weekend read for you. It's inspired by the first painting I can remember: Waterfall by M.C. Escher. Escher was famous for his optical illusion paintings, and I spent hours staring at this particular one.

Thinking back to it, I can spot a valuable lesson: Just because we can’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s not there by design.

Life is full of paradoxes. Little inconsistencies we rack our brain about. But what if they're not puzzles? What if they're just tools? Tiny helpers to make our lives easier by giving us more options to form and change our perspective.

That's how I like to see paradoxes now: A way to turn obstacles into advantages.

In the essay, I share six of them that can give you a sense of calm, acceptance, and empowerment. Hence, the post is called 6 Paradoxic Truths of Life.

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If you liked The 7 Cardinal Rules of Life, I think you'll enjoy this one as well. If the paradoxes make you feel calmer and provide a sense of ease on this beautiful Sunday, you can add up to 50 claps and share it with a friend. 👏🏻

Thank you! 🙏

-Nik

How To Become Emotionally Self-Sufficient

Feel like you can handle anything

I was sitting at my desk, crying. I must have been 18 years old.

There’s a German saying that translates like this: The worst way of missing someone is to sit next to them, knowing they’ll never be with you.

For three years, I had sat next to her, and it was never going to work. The day I finally admitted this to myself, I cried.

It’s one of those rare, distinct memories you can access like a Youtube video. You hit play and, instantly, you can see it. Of course, it plays out the same way each time.

The clearest part of this memory, however, is not the sadness. It’s the relief. I sat in my desk chair, thinking: “Well, at least I still have myself. I guess I’ll always have myself.”

Yes, I had made a huge emotional investment that failed, but I also learned something else that day: My parents have raised me to be my own best friend.

That was a lot to take in - and that’s why I was crying.


Emotional self-sufficiency is the foundation of good mental health. It’s the soil on which happiness is built. The better you can deal with your emotions, the more positive moments you can extract from even the worst of situations.

It’s also attractive in the most literal sense of the word. When people realize you can handle them, opportunities, relationships, and freedom will gravitate towards you.

I know I was lucky. I had a wonderful childhood. Not everyone gets that. You can’t change your upbringing in hindsight, but you can work on emotional self-sufficiency.

Even after I found out I had a good baseline level of it, I worked hard to maintain and improve it. I have done so for the past ten years. Today, I’d like to share three habits with you that have helped me the most in doing so.

May they help you become your own best friend.

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All my posts are part of the Medium Partner Program, but since you’ve given me so much of your trust, I want you to have this one for free. It’s called How To Become Emotionally Self-Sufficient, and, with the button above, you can access it any time without running into a paywall.

I hope the three habits I describe - meditating, writing, and, most importantly, sitting with your emotions - will help you comfort yourself when you’re down. If they do, please consider adding up to 50 claps and sharing it with a friend. 🙏🏼

Maybe, the next time you have to cry, you’ll even remember that, at least you’ll always have yourself.

-Nik

The 5 Qualities of Emotionally Mature People

We all grow, but not everyone grows up

We all have that one family member who's hard to be around. Often, it's because they seem unreasonable, but the truth is, they may have never developed something we think comes natural to us: emotional maturity.

Unlike physical development, emotional ripeness isn’t something we just “pick up” as we get older. We have to cultivate it. Deliberately. That can take a long time, but it’s an effort we expect people to make.

When children act out, we show them how to calm down and analyze their emotions. When adults do the same, we just shake our head - they should have learned this when they were younger.

The sad reality, however, is that many people never learn to process their feelings, despite it being one of the most crucial skills in living a good life.

I don’t want you and I to be one of those people. I want us to do better. That’s why I’ve been working on an article called…

The 5 Qualities of Emotionally Mature People

The piece highlights five qualities we should cultivate in order to not let our emotions rule our lives. You can use it as a test to see which ones you already have, as well as a guide and reminder.

I hope it’ll help you find the emotional maturity we need to form lasting, rewarding, beautiful relationships.

As always, you can read the article for free here. If you benefit from it, you can add up to 50 claps and share it with a friend. 👏🏻

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Thank you for reading!

-Nik

How To Set a One-Word Theme for 2020 (+ EYC Will Stay Free)

For the past few years, I have set a one-word theme. A theme is different from a goal in that it has no ending. There’s no number attached to it and no way to reach it. So what’s the point of a theme?

The point of a theme is to make you happy. Goals can’t do that. You set them, you feel bad until you hit them, and, when you do, you celebrate for a moment, and then they disappear. You set a new goal, and the cycle of incompleteness restarts.

A theme gives you an achievable, meaningful, daily standard you can live up to.

If you go to bed knowing you have acted in line with your theme, you will feel happy.

Good themes are verbs and nouns at the same time. “Focus,” “Love,” and, my pick for 2020, the word Empty Your Cup has been based on from the beginning, “Balance.”

With a theme, all you have to do is ask one question: Is this aligned with my theme?

There’s a clear answer, yes or no, for every thought you have, decision you make, and action you take. Align more with your theme, and you’ll go to bed happier. If you fall off the wagon, no biggie, you can get back on it any time.

Themes support goals in that they reduce the pressure they create. At the same time, they replace the need for your goals to make you happy. Using both makes for a winning combination.

I’ve written before about the differences between themes and goals, but, to start this year, I thought I’d explain how to pick a theme properly. In today’s post, I did:

How To Set a One-Word Theme for 2020

In other news, I have decided what to do with Empty Your Cup right now: Nothing. It stays as it is - free and infrequent.

I already have three major projects that I’m working on each week (Medium, Four Minute Books, Better Marketing), and I simply don’t want to add more recurring work at this time. I do love the daily format, the idea of a book, and the potential for a paid newsletter, but all of these are something I’ll have to revisit in the future.

In the meantime, I’ll share my best ideas when I have them, and hope they add value to your life in the same Bruce Lee approach to life as before. I think a one-word theme certainly will. Especially if the theme you choose is “Balance.”

As always, reading the article is free. If you enjoy it, you can add up to 50 claps and share it with a friend. 👏🏻

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-Nik

Your Habits Will Determine Your Destiny

Never give up your power to shape them

I don’t know you, but I know this: You have habits.

There are certain behavioral patterns you repeat, every single day of your life.

I even know some of them: You wake up, get out of bed, brush your teeth, drink water, get dressed, interact with people, read, browse the internet…

That’s a lot of data for someone halfway around the world who doesn’t know your name, isn’t it? Here’s something else I can glimpse from that data:

The outcomes of your life are determined by your habits.

Your finances, your health, your relationships, it’s all a result of these patterns of repetition, steering you like a pair of invisible hands.

So while you might not think much of your habits nor think much about them, your habits don’t just matter. Your habits are, in fact, everything.

Your habits are your only weapon in a lifelong struggle for meaning, happiness, and making the most of your time.

Luckily, they’re also the only weapon you need. I have been working with habits for almost eight years now. My own. Those of others. The science behind them.

To start the new year - the new decade, really - right, I want to share with you the most important lesson I’ve learned in all these years: Your habits will determine your destiny - and you have the power to shape them.

To back this claim up, I’ll show you that our habits aren’t just “some routines.” They affect our identity, our worldview, and even control our attention.

Using the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey and the work of James Clear (Atomic Habits), we’ll understand how deep our connection with habits really runs - and how we can use that connection to create the life we want.

The title of the piece is, you guessed it…

Your Habits Will Determine Your Destiny

It’s designed to give you clarity, motivation, and the conviction you need to live your best life. I hope it’ll help you start the year on your terms.

As always, you can read the article for free here. If you get something out of it, you can add up to 50 claps and share it with a friend. 👏🏻

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Thank you for being your best. Have a great start into the new year!

-Nik

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