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What do you do when the sun sets? You push the damn brakes!

How do we break through the dread? How do we wake up consistently and find hope everyday?

All I know is that it is immensely difficult, and whenever I or anybody else over simplifies the practice of living well, that’s disillusion. Sweat and tears my friends, it takes overcoming negatives in all of their forms on an hourly basis, the overt and covert kind. It takes a lot of courage and faith. It takes faith to look at a difficult situation and somehow deep down translate it into hope. It takes persistence and trust to produce something good out of your life. And I am here to tell you, if you can do that at least 50% of the time; well then good job. You are trying, and happiness follows that process always. You deserve this moment.

The movie Moment

silhouette photography of woman
Photo by Pete Johnson on

Let’s go back together to that movie scene that is always so enthralling, so freeing- the Hollywood movie moment- where one stands atop a mountain and looks onto vastness and a never ending horizon. The sun is setting, and the character finds peace, a scream breaks from the pit of their stomach, and it echoes past the softest winds, the sky paints itself in violet and orange. Brilliant ending, fully orchestrated by character breaking free, and nature being itself, as it always is. End credits start rolling, and you are frozen to your couch wondering what that character will do next? How will she start over? What will her life be like now that she managed to unravel and just be?

The trend nowadays, is one where struggle in most of its forms is undermined, because everyone struggles, it has become an arbitrary given, one that provides the monotone style to all that we preach.

The triumph of a good attitude over every hardship is preached like religion. And it is true, but one tiny loophole in that is the biggest pit ever.

Why should you have a good attitude?

When life gets too real, days get too rigid and boring, time collapses into a routine set of actions that almost always amount to the same outcome, our good attitude compass gets stuck on an autopilot neutral mode. Welcome to the challenge of identifying that and breaking free of it.

It is easy to know when you are feeling down, when you have a bad attitude everyone around you can tell you too. Determining the steps towards fixing the “broken” attitude come next as the natural progression to make a better life. However, the biggest dread of all is the neutrality. The “meh” attitude, the harmless sideline, the “I will just watch this day through, because I don’t want to participate”. The wallflower, not the weed.

I find this mode to be the most difficult to overcome because it is sly, it is soft. It is the comfortable couch you lay on and scroll through your Instastories, to watch other people live; in their good and bad attitudes. It is the autopilot, that tells you its good, but not good enough for you to pay any extra attention. And what happens when we live every day without paying enough attention? Well, nothing.

Nothing happens, the good and the bad all pass, and we don’t flinch. We Miss Out.

Welcome to my struggle

How do we push harder to make our experience amount to something more? How do we make sure that we do just enough to fully take in the moment? The truth is that we will miss out on a whole lot, but we will also be able to take what we get. We are able to navigate, the way way we want to, so better navigate into adventure, love, creativity and wonder.

Because i have a deep rooted fear of missing out on so much wonder in the world, because I feel bombarded by negativity, by dreadful individuals and ideologists, as though the entire world is on a good route to hell; and because nobody wants to take the wheel; I cannot shake the dread.

So maybe the best advice I can think of to myself and to you, is this:

Turn off the engine. Take some time off. What happens when the autopilot is turned off? You will have to look around, you will have to assess, you will be able to learn and determine what needs to be burned to the ground, and what must be revived at all costs. On another note, I find big well acted, brilliantly produced moments to be essential too. Freedom can be taught, we can drop aspects of ourselves that are absolute trash, and we can learn to be better. We must understand how overwhelming life is, and we must be brave enough to push the brakes, and just stop, watch the damn sunset and figure out where the hell we want to go.

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The Power of Anchoring

Look here,

A ship drops its anchor so that it doesn’t drift away. It sails through waters shallow and deep, through conditions stormy or mellow. It adjusts. A ship’s most important purpose is to sail, not sink. Sounds simpler than it is?

You might think that this is an article about sailing, and you are right, it is. Except, you are the ship in this scenario. Try to entertain the image for a second; hold on to it, I’m going somewhere with this.

Now that the ship metaphor is set, remember Inception? you know, the movie about the double and triple layers of dreams; where nobody knows what’s real? Leonardo DiCaprio? I hope it rings a bell. If you’ve seen the movie, then you surely were left questioning its end. Was he still in limbo, or was that his reality? His totem never came to a halt.

Totems are objects carried by the characters through reality and in their dreams, where a single aspect of the totem (rotation, falling to one side..etc) helps them determine whether the current situation is a dream or reality. Those little objects were important queues to their sanity, to their perception of reality, they determined the kinds of decisions they made.

Can you tell where I’m heading with this?

Introducing the concept of anchoring in your daily life

Fortunately for most, determining the difference between dream and reality is not a major problem, Yet acknowledging the ridiculous levels of stress you have is. Wanting to stop mid day and scream that you profoundly don’t care about most of the things you pretend to pay attention to is not unusual. But, that stress is yours, your thoughts are yours and those experiences are yours to be lived. Still with me? In the chaos of everyday, you deserve a pause, a small time out where you anchor, where you remind yourself of what’s real. Anchoring helps you assess your surroundings, and act accordingly. To panic or not to panic? That is the real question.

How do you anchor?

There are many techniques to help you anchor despite the difficulties. Here are two that I’ve experimented with:

1- Carry your own totem, could be a bracelet, a key chain, a marble…etc anything tiny and portable. The trick is to mentally link that totem with a series of thoughts that center you. Picture this: You are in a stressful situation, you reach into your pocket to find your phone, but your fingers graze the soft surface of the marble. Now there is your queue. That is your anchor. Take a deep breath, don’t say anything, another deep breath, think about anchoring, as though your mind took a break, assess your situation, are my thoughts necessary? are my actions necessary? Do i really need to feel this way right now?

Consider your totem a stop sign asking you to calm down, a sign to straighten up your thoughts. It requires practice, but it is highly beneficial.

2- Physically remove yourself from the situation even if for a few minutes and take deep breaths, with the mental plan of calming down. Take yourself on a visual imaginary journey to a location you love, if only for a few seconds in your mind. I usually take myself into the center of lake Como, in Italy; it always does the trick. Other times I imagine myself seated at the highest top of a snowy mountain but feeling absolutely warm, and distant from every human and place on earth; also does the trick. Our minds can’t tell the difference between a physical and mental vacation, it’s all about conviction and attitude.

Lastly, Why is anchoring important?

In the midst of anger, frustration and hotheadedness you rid yourself of clarity, when you let your intense negative thoughts take over, you become blind, and most of the times you lose. So try identifying the situation and attitude you are having right now. Does it seem too difficult, overwhelming, stressful, dark and ominous? Then there is your queue to anchor. Once you do, your temper goes down, your heart races less and you notice the little clues surrounding you telling you exactly what to do and say.

Anchoring allows you to slow down and let go, it allows you to recalibrate. Think of it as a reloading of energy, reassigning of seats. You are the captain, not the situation. And a captain either sails with her ship or sinks with it.

So learn your anchoring techniques and give yourself a tap on the shoulder for not sinking today.