When the Future Arrives. A Letter to My Nieces and Nephews For 2022
You are living in a different world than the one I grew up in. I feel like living in a transitional world.
Being part of generation X, I know a world without the internet, smartphones, or social media platforms and a world where we played with friends outside, rain or shine, returning home at dawn, hungry and dirty from playing.
Then I find myself writing my thesis on a thing called a computer. Meanwhile, your generation and the previous generations are holding a tiny hyper-fast computer in our hands with a high-end camera and calling via facetime friends in Australia at no cost. For you this is normality.
What a transition.
And you wonder, what will stay the same and what will be different?
I suspect, eventually, the issues you come up against will not be that dissimilar.
What are the questions you are facing in the future, starting with 2022 right in front of you?
How will you cope with change in a world where uncertainty is the norm and information overflow is twisting our brains? What goals should you set yourself and how can you find purpose and fulfillment in your life?
I believe that there are some fundamental concepts and values that are as important and helpful in the future as they were in the past when it comes to navigating your daily life.
See the bigger picture
In our fast-rolling, constant on-demand, and the overwhelmingly stuffed world we get lost in detail and lose sight of the big picture.
We can look into every corner of the world, can get information about everything, are constantly tinkering with our networks, and yet we seem to lose sight of the big picture, that everything is somehow connected.
Despite the intensity of your daily lives and surroundings, the world is not all about you, me, or us. There is a bigger picture out there which we are able to grasp if we are just curious and open enough and consciously turn our attention outward.
As Marcus Aurelius describes: "Everything is intertwined as if by a sacred bond. Almost nothing is foreign to itself. All that is created is ordered to one another and aims at the harmony of the same world."
It is about the ability to be aware of the world around us in order to better perceive and understand the overall contexts, to see, analyze and assess situations with an alert mind.
Gratitude is power
You fight. You get annoyed with yourself, with others, and the world around you. Do you think about the good stuff that you have, that you experience, that you see?
What are you grateful for? Do you sometimes take time to reflect on that?
Being grateful has so much power.
As research has meanwhile shown, gratitude can be a very effective booster of mood, mindset, and health.
Being grateful takes conscious time. Take the time.
Because: A little bit of gratitude goes a very long way.
Kindness is the biggest strength
Kindness is the currency that connects us all.
Kindness can boost happiness. It can improve mental health and kindness has a physical impact on the brain. Kindness creates opposite internal effects from stress. This is not just empty talk, it is scientifically proven.
The Norwegian business philosopher, author, and public speaker Anders Indset wrote: I don’t want to live in a world where kindness is mistaken for weakness.
Kindness applies to every part of your life and every person. Prioritizing kindness at work leads to happier, healthier working environments and thriving employees.
Gary Vaynerchuk emphasizes over and over again: “To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness.”
Choose kindness more often, and more effectively.
Give kindness to yourself. This will make you much better at bringing more kindness to others, your life, and your community.
Curiosity is the key to growth
Curiosity is key to our growth and self-exploration. Curiosity makes you move forward and to keep going.
If you are curious about yourself and the world around you, you are aware and alert, and you want to understand.
A naturally curious mind is interested in a wide range of topics and likes to find connections to help solve problems. Curiosity is something that prepares the brain for learning, for finding ideas and solutions, for being creative.
With an open mind and curiosity, you open yourself to a world of knowledge, people, cultures, skills, and experiences.
A sense of wonder
Where did our sense of wonder go? Have we lost it?
In a world that bombards and distracts us daily with way too much everything, we often miss the magical opportunities, a sense of wonder in the moment of now.
A sense of wonder, or fascination, gives us a sense of vastness that makes us feel small. But this tends to decrease our mental chatter, clutter, and worries and helps us think about ideas, issues, and people outside of ourselves. It improves creativity and collaboration as well as energy.
Like gratitude and curiosity, fascination, or a sense of wonder, can leave us feeling inspired and energized.
I admit it, I am an undeniable optimist.
Some people react to situations with an optimistic posture or others with a pessimistic mood. You see how things unfold and make a decision, optimistic or pessimistic, about what to expect.
From my reactions to things and situations I notice I am predisposed to being optimistic. I appreciate that. But look around and it becomes obvious, we humans can be anywhere on the scale between optimism and pessimism.
And we can change our outlook. Our outlook and mood are a choice.
And that choice of an attitude towards a situation determines how we behave and what impact we not only have on the situation but also on the people involved.
Optimism helps to feel energized, to be motivated, and to spread some encouragement. That doesn’t mean being unrealistic. Is being realistic the golden mean on the spectrum between optimism and pessimism?
The Dalai Lama is producing a vividly contagious optimism. Author and travel writer Pico Iyer who is talking for 35 years to the Dalai Lama, and “covering him everywhere from Zurich to Hiroshima, as a non-Buddhist, skeptical journalist” writes: “The Dalai Lama I’ve seen is a realist (which is what makes his optimism the more impressive and persuasive).”
“An optimist understands that life can be a bumpy road, but at least it is leading somewhere. They learn from mistakes and failures and are not afraid to fail again.” - Harvey Mackay, American businessman, author, and columnist
Do you realize how good it feels to be appreciated?
How come that being appreciated makes your day?
Because it gives you the feeling of being valued. If someone takes the time to pay attention to you, to listen, and put himself into your shoes, he shows you how much he values you.
Because it makes you feel being liked. There is something about being liked and liking people which warms our hearts and gives us a sense of comfort and happiness.
Why? Because it connects us. Feeling appreciated strengthens the bond between people because as human beings we long for connection.
Embrace uncertainty and make “starting” a daily habit
Do you think you have to feel more confident and prepared before taking the next step?
You will never be “ready” and keep procrastinating with the excuse “oh, I am not smart enough, not educated or trained enough, or not experienced enough…” Enough of that!
You don’t need to have it all mapped out. You just need to take the first step and get started.
And you can practice getting started by just “starting” every day. Every day there is something, even tiny little things, that challenges you to get out of your comfort zone, that gives you the opportunity to start with one first step before you feel ready.
And this will make you ready and experienced with each step forward.
You are in control
In this world today we are more in control than we think of designing a life filled with intent, kindness, and purpose.
And we don’t have to make it so difficult. When we stay motivated, optimistic, and focused on things that actually matter, we can live every day to get one percent better.
Keep the bigger picture, gratitude, kindness, curiosity, a sense of wonder, optimism, and appreciation as anchors and guidance always with you on your path forward.
And don’t forget that it’s never too late to let go and step forward in the right direction.
Here’s to 2022.
Now it’s your turn.
Photo Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash