Sometimes it’s hard to view the green between the rocks when you are in the desert.
And sometimes its hard to see the positive when you’re alive. I had quite a busy summer with a tragic car accident, an unexpected travel to morocco, an injured kid, a struggle with my land lord, a broken laptop, a broken car and a 100 miles ultra race I failed to complete.
While all of this happened in the last 6 weeks I didn’t manage to write my posts bilingual. If you know some German, check the German side of this blog or stay tuned, I am going to translate the written posts soon.
Anyhow, most things are on track again and I learned to accept that things happen the way they do. Once they did, you can’t change them.
Make the BEST of now!
Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes it’s just the wrong time, sometimes it’s a bad thing altogether. Often we become angry, when things go wrong. At least, that happens to me all the time. Then I ask myself: why now, why me, why again, why so bad…
I don’t like being angry and when I am, I often become more angry because I’m angry with myself. Do you know what I mean?
Not long ago… yesterday to be exact, it happened again. I had so much stuff to do on the opposite side of town and I had to take my car, which as you may know is a 40year old 6t camping van: EMMA. I had to get some stuff for maintenance of the car. And voilá: half way through town my clutch stopped working. That sucks especially in inner city stop’n’go traffic. I somehow made it into a smaller street stopped and immediately climbed under my car. I wanted to find out what the problem is and keep going. I was in a hurry.
It took me a while to figure out that bars of the clutch were broken. Nothing I could do about it.
Oh boy, I was angry: Why now, why here, why me etc. The rest of the day I was pretty pissed off.
This morning I had another look at it and came to the conclusion:
I am so lucky it happened yesterday. I wasn’t somewhere in the mountains or in the desert. I wasn’t in Switzerland but in Berlin. I found a parking spot right away and was allowed to stay there for free. I was able to make all my yesterdays appointment by foot and on time. I already fixed (another part) of the clutch a year ago and knew what i was doing this time and the broken part is easy to replace after I found out which part it was. My MercedesBenz Oldtimer dealer is located near Berlin I could pick up the spare part by public transportation. And I hadn’t plan to drive anywhere special, today or tomorrow.
Well, its still a lot of stress and work, BUT it’s a question of your perspective. Once again I realized that it`s up to me to see the good or the bad, in any situation. If I compare any given situation with the best possible or do I take into account what could be worse. After all I can’t change the situation. I (or you) can just try to make the best out of it.
Every single moment, you decide about the quality in your life. Do you see the good or the bad? Do your best!
In late 2013 I had the idea that it might be right for me to work for a while from a far away place. I was sick of going into the same office every day. I had the feeling that nothing would change ever again in my life if I kept doing exactly the same every day. I came to a point that I worked only for the money and not for the love of it.
I was and I am looking for a reason in my life and for what I do. I want to do something special. Last winter I fulfilled a dream of mine and chose one of the most beautiful places to work at: Zanzibar. This is exactly the point. I want to work. I just don’t want to have the feeling that I am missing my life while I am at work. I strongly believe that I need to follow my inner motivation, to be good in what I do and to create a lasting difference.
Furthermore I thought that an external view on my daily life and my routines could help me find out what I truly want.
After traveling through northern Tanzania on a beautiful three week vacation, I went back to Stonetown, Zanzibar on Dec. 25th to work from there for one month. I was were I wanted to be. I had plenty of time and I had such a big problem starting to work. I found out that Stonetown didn’t provide any space for me to focus on my work and still feel good. My room was small and had no real windows. The small windows of mine were covered by mosquito nets and the house on the opposite side of the road was only about 1 1/2 meters away. Not what I regarded as a beautiful view.
When I was working inside the building I had to switch on the light because it was too dark. The lights were fluorescent lights. That was not what fired up my inspiration either. Next to my Laptop I kept a towel because every few minutes my table was so wet with sweat that my hands kept gliding away.
I wanted to be outside, I wanted to work outside. I had my laptop with enough battery and I had an internet dongle with a ZANTEL card to work online as well. But guess what: That’s not what you do in Africa, sitting somewhere in the park with your laptop. First there were no parks, second there was either beach or shade. Third: if there was an open place to sit, my laptop would attract many people to sit directly next to me and stare on my screen and/or talk to me.
I figured, I had to work from somewhere else. Rooftops, although plenty of them could be available are not common in Zanzibar. If you have sunshine all year round, that might push you into the shade.
No work on a rooftop either. I tried different cafes that seemed to work and walked a lot to discover new places. As you can imagine I felt quite unsatisfied during my first days. That was not what I had expected. Every morning I thought about where to go and where to work and ended up running around Stonetown to find a place. I got lost every time. I had to walk straight in one direction until I reached the end of Stonetown and then run around it until I found a place I already knew. Otherwise there was no way finding home for me. Funny how much effort it costs my brain to find my way. My brain put full concentration on creating new routines to make my life easier again. Actually time went by quite fast when I was wandering around town. My mind was completely occupied with scanning my surrounding trying to find any hints where I am and how to find my way back. Slowly I found out about places where I could sit for while, where they had coffee and some even good coffee. I could even remember how to find that place again and how to go back home. My days became easier and I could focus more and more on the work I wanted to do.
When I came to Zanzibar I wanted to get rid of my routines because I thought that they might be in my way of working happily. Then the complete lack of any routines (where do I sleep, how do I sleep, breakfast???, where do I eat, when do I eat). Basically everything made me so insecure that I even thought it was a mistake to go there in the first place. Then I started creating new routines and when I finally was at an ease with myself the month was over and I flew back.
Now looking back at my time, I realize that it was the best thing I could have done last winter. I developed such a clear focus on how I want to work and what I want to do. I developed new routines not by accident but because they helped me to achieve my goals. And I was actually able to take these routines with me to new places. I work so much more efficient than I did ever before. And I am happier with it.
Some of my lessons from Stonetown are:
What makes a remarkable life remarkable is not the chances you get, but what you make of your chances!
Are you interested in working without an office, too? I put all my learnings from Stonetown into my Webinar: officeless office!
I love to own things. In my past I always wanted to own everything that somehow seemed interesting to me. I sometimes still have the tendency to do that. Most of the times I nowadays realize that it is not important to me to own stuff, but to actually use stuff.
So more and more often, before buying I ask myself the following question: Do I have any other possibility to use what I am aiming to buy other actually buying it. Often I come up with an idea of trying it out for a few times and then letting go again. Sometimes it works just fine to share stuff with somebody else. Sometimes I buy already used stuff because, it will be used the same the minute I unbox it.
I also buy things that I now I will hand on to somebody else and/or I am going to resell. That would even be better when I already bought it used. That’s almost like sharing.
Sharing is the new owning!
But, you know… sometimes there are these things that I just want to have. I am sure I am going to use it every day. For me those things have to be according to the BUD principle.
BUD: beautiful – useful – durable
I love beautiful things. I want my things to be beautiful. If resources are used and people put their time into producing something that I will spend my money on it shall be worth the effort and be something beautiful.
I also don’t want to carry a burden with me either. Stuff I own has to be useful. There are definitely many beautiful things that are not useful to me. They might be useful to somebody else. If I can’t find a reason why they are useful to me, they are meant for somebody else.
I want it to be durable. Why? If something is not durable and basically produced for the trashcan I don’t I want to buy it. I don’t want to own garbage.
When you buy stuff at all, always remember BUD!
After my last post I received an email from one of my (now former) subscribers of the newsletter. He wrote, that he feels very sorry, but that I was fundamentally wrong with my approach of simplicity. What matters is „the one true essential“ in life. The question that I should ask is “what matters most in life? But I ask myself: Is there only „one way“ of living life the right way to be happy?
Just in case you are wondering because it might seem as if I am preaching the ‚one way to happiness‘… I am not. I am only suggesting potential ways. I tried many ways for myself and want to share what I experienced. I heard through others about their approach to happiness and found much truth in what they said. I saw that the struggles they had, applied to my life as well. So I tried different ideas from different people and I am creating my own mixture for happiness now. And you can witness it while happening.
At the moment I can say: I have never been as much in peace with myself as I am now.
And still I know it’s still a long way to go.
It is remarkable that I heard about these concepts long ago in my teens when I tried to find what life is all about. But I did not want to listen. I thought there is so much more in the world. I didn’t want to be in peace with just myself. I thought, whenever I reach the point that I can do everything in the world I could ever dream of, I am free and then I will be in peace with myself.
And while I grew up more and more (material things) showed up in my life. I wanted to have them all.
Today I understand that it is not enough to read about these ideas. They have to grow from the inside. From your own understanding. That is why my ideas are just offerings.
One day frustration hit me. To put it simple: More stuff didn’t mean more happiness to me.
So I tried to focus on the basics of life, but I couldn’t focus on what I really wanted. There were just too many options. My life was pure procrastination.
To find the basic meaning in my life does not stand in contrast to living ‚simplicity‘ and to declutter my stuff.
The more I gave up, the more:
I discovered in my life.
We are human beings not machines. We are able to perform, create and manage but above all we have a soul and feelings. The more we focus on doing, producing and functioning the more we lose our inner nature, the interaction with others and we end up suffering.
For example, after I have given away a lot of my possessions and started traveling intensively I deeply understood how connected everything on earth is. It made me realize that I don’t want to live on more resources than can be reproduced during my lifetime. I understood that all I am consuming is just borrowed from the next generation and shared with present generations. I have the desire to focus on more spirit and less stuff.
To sum this up, it is not about the right way to live a happy life. It is about showing ways to declutter your life so much than you can discover the essential in your life.