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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Inspired by Stefan Sagmeister’s wonderful project “Things I have learned in my life so far” I have made my own list of things life has taught me. Having learned something doesn’t mean you are automatically able to put it into practise – but defining and writing it down can definitely be a good start!

So here we go:

  • Everything is possible. I am the creator of my life, and in charge of what happens to me. The only thing holding me back is myself.
  • Doubt is useless. Make a choice – and take responsibility for it!
  • Every time a door closes, a new one will open.
  • The purpose of my relationships is not to make me feel safe, but to make me develop.
  • Everything feels better in the morning.
  • My body and my mind are deeply connected. The way I think about things and the way I talk about things will influence how I feel.
  • Consumerism kills my creativity.
  • I need to pay more attention to my own reactions than to other people’s actions.
  • By giving, I will receive.
  • What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. The strongest part of my body & soul is where my scars are.
  • The process is much more important than the result.
  • I am not my feelings. I am something much deeper, hidden behind layers of emotions & thoughts.
  • A crisis always contains a possibility to learn something.
  • I shouldn’t be too protective about my heart. A broken heart is also an open heart.
  • Everything is connected to everything. Whatever I do will come back to me – one way or the other.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.
  • Face everything, avoid nothing. Courage is the key to freedom.
  • Just do it! The only way I can possibly fail is by not acting, not daring,  not fully embrasing my life.

Hopefully this list will keep growing…

Click here if you want to check out Stefan Sagmeisters website.

And here and here if you want to see some brilliant Ted Talks on how he is using the things he has learnt in his life so far to create beautiful & inspiring design.

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A couple of months ago I got an idea for a poem. It seemed to come out of nowhere – a moment of true inspiration! Suddenly everything seemed so clear. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, so I grabbed my pen and my notebook…and then, after writing just a few sentences, the feeling of clarity disappeared.

This happens to me quite often. I get inspired, and then I loose the feeling again. I have numerous notebooks filled with unfinished texts, an outbox full of half written emails, a devilish to-do-list that never ends and a head full of ideas that have never been given the chance to become more than just ideas.

I used to think that this was a part of who I was; that being chaotic, restless and unable to finish things was unconditionally connected to being me. But I’m slowly starting to realize that this is a myth. It’s a story I tell myself to feel more comfortable; If being unorganized and unable to finish stuff is my default -something buried deeply in the darkness of my genes – I can’t really be blamed for not getting things done.

Since January this year, I’ve been trying to meditate on a daily basis. It’s giving me a lot of epiphanies, and one of them came to me just a couple of days ago. I was listening to a speech given by the spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen. And all of a sudden I became aware of an important link between learning to meditate and learning to create.

Cohen was talking about the fact that meditation comes in two forms. Every once in a while you will close your eyes and fall spontaneously into a peaceful and empty place, being perfectly still and perfectly unattached to thoughts and feelings. But just as often (especially if you are a beginner) it will be a struggle. It will be hard work, using everything you have to let go of the distractions that arise in your head.

The main point of the speech was that the spontaneous road to meditation isn’t necessarily better or more important than the hard one. Experiencing effortless meditation feels great. But taking the hard way will teach you a lot about having a clear intention, making a real effort and eventually reaching your goals.

And this is where I realized that meditation and creation are closely related. Whenever I’m inspired, creating feels like the easiest thing in the world. But 9 out of 10 times it’s a struggle. And then I tend to put my ideas on hold. Just waiting for inspiration to show up again, instead of accepting that creativity is also about hard work.

I need to change my tactics. Inspiration is a blessing, and I absolutely love experiencing the bright and powerful moments where the sky seems to open and everything makes sense. But sometimes the most important thing is to get started. To make something happen. To take small steps.

So. For the next 40 days I will be writing a small passage of my poem every day. 40 x a little bit = a lot! And writing a few sentences is something I can do, no matter how uninspired I feel when I wake up.

And who knows what will happen as I walk down the bumpy road of everyday-writing: spontaneous inspiration might even show it’s face…

Putting yourself out there can be terrifying. Like starting this blog, for instance, it makes my heart beat 10 times faster than usual! What if people find what I write boring? Or stupid? ? Or naive? Or pretentious? What if it turns out I’m not good at what I’m doing. What if I make a fool of myself? What if I fail?

I’m tired of being afraid.

Fear has been keeping me from saying what I want to say and doing what I want to do for too long now. I’m ready to fight it! So I’m going to keep writing, even if I’m overwhelmed by insecurity, anxiety or doubt. And what is the worst thing that could possibly happen? I might stumble. I might fall. But if I do, I will just get up and keep going. Life is too short to spend precious time worrying about everything that could go wrong.

I find it helpful to remind myself that overcoming fear is something that everybody is struggling with. Here are some inspiring quotes from brilliant people who definitely did some work in this field:

Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain (Mark Twain)

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free (Jim Morrison)

I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage (Anaïs Nin)

Work only starts when the fear of doing nothing finally exceeds the fear of doing something badly (Alain de Botton)

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristoteles)

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them (Hannah Arendt)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover (Mark Twain)

The secret of happyness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage (Thucydides)

 

The black death of white lies

I often get quite sad when I think about all the brain dead entertainment that is produced just to make money (and at the same time keeping us lazy and paralysed). But every once in a while I am reminded that there are still people out there working hard to make media productions that have the potential for changing our lives!

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to an episode of my favourite podcast Radiolab, while riding my bike to the office. It blew me away. Completely. And by the time I sat down at my desk, I knew I had some changes to make.

The topic of the podcast was deception, and the story that affected me the most was about an American scientist called Paul Ekman. After years of studying facial expression and body movement, focusing for instance on how lying is communicated through our body language, he made a very big decision. The day his first child was born, he promised himself that he would never again tell a lie.

Ekman is giving examples on how the habit of not lying has affected his relationships, his work and his self-confidence. By looking for a way to be truthful in every situation, he is learning a lot about himself and how he wants to live his life. Off course, there are difficulties, like every time his wife is wearing something dreadful, asking him for his opinion. Classical. But in the long run, telling the truth has made him feel happier, healthier, more authentic and more alive.

I found this story incredibly inspiring, and after hearing it I started paying more attention to my own words and habits. And to tell you the truth (pun intended), I was actually quite surprised to find out how much I lie. It’s not like I’m cheating or stealing or spreading false rumours about people behind their backs, my lies are whiter than that – but hey, they are still lies.

I’m cancelling appointments because I’m too lazy or tired, and I tell the people involved that I cancel on them because I have to work late. I’m telling my mom that I earn more money than I do, to keep her from worrying about my economy. I tell my colleagues that I have an important business meeting, when I’m actually just going for lunch with a friend. I say yes when I mean no, I leave things out, and I pretend to be a whole lot smarter than I am.

Why is it so hard to tell the truth?

Most of us are doing a pretty good job staying away from the big, fat, black lies, but avoiding the white ones is much harder. They are sneaky! And often very spontaneous, slipping out because we want to avoid embarrassing moments, to protect ourselves or other people, or to simply make us look better than we are. We are afraid of confrontations and disagreements. We are fleeing from commitment and responsibility. We are lying because it feels a lot safer, a lot more easy and definitely a lot more comfortable and convenient than admitting how things actually are.

Is it possible to live an entire life without lying? I don’t know. But I do know that Paul Ekman’s story affected me. And that I want to make a serious effort trying to extinguish the most stupid and unnecessary lies from my life. I might not succeed right away – things take time, especially when they are difficult. But I like the idea of being less insecure and weak, less afraid of confrontations and less scared of what other people might think.

So wish me good luck.

The future is frank, direct and brave!

Click here if you want to  listen to the Radiolab episode about deception.

And here if you want to subscribe to the Radiolab Podcast.

Hello!

My name is Hanne Hvattum.

I’m 28 years old, and I’m a writer and a photographer. But first and foremost I’m an incurable optimist and a curious investigator of life.

I want to be free. I want to be able to make a difference. I want to live consciously and authentically, without being afraid. Halfway to whole is my personal journal, a place where I can organize my thoughts and my questions in my search for development. At the same time, I’m hoping that the topics I write about can inspire others. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one around here trying to live a positive and meaningful life!

I will be writing about creativity and courage, fear, faith and freedom. About people I admire and stuff that inspires me. About mistakes I make, actions I take, habits I break and everything that pushes me to become more awake. Nothing is too big or too small. The only rule is that everything posted on the blog should be life confirming, thought provoking, inspiring or just good old fun.

As I write this, I have no idea where this blog will take me. But at least it will take me somewhere, and if you are ready for the ride you are more than welcome to join.

xxx

HH