How To Take Action

“To be surprised, to wonder, is beginning to understand,” said the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. To be surprised we need to act, we have to do something that will foster astonishment. It is not enough to read, to think or to observe what other people do. “The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life,” said Leo Tolstoy.

To find the meaning of life and to define ourselves we need to interact with other people. Do not isolate yourself! If we live in isolation we will find ourselves on a lonely mountaintop in stagnation and tedious boredom. When we feel down or bad we tend to isolate, but what we really need to do is interact with other people, we have to do something that will bring surprise and understanding.

Based on action learning I have made a model that can lead to action and understanding; I call it the MAKS model.

  1. Mapping
  2. Action, observe, adjust
  3. Knowledge
  4. Sharing

The MAKS model serves to give an overview of a situation and helps to create reflection and action. When we reflect on our actions we reach understanding and that is the most important part to get on a good life path. We start by mapping the situation (see mental maps) by defining the topic we need to learn about. Then we choose at good way on the map and clarify what we expect to experience on this path.

Next we take action and test our theory in practise. On our way we observe the results of our actions and if the outcome does not agree with what we expected, then we adjust the map and try again.

Finally we reflect on the experiences the path has presented and share these reflections with our social environment. This will create feedback that we can use to map a new situation that will take us even further in life.

In my following posts I will elaborate each item.

What Is Happiness?

We like to be happy and there are many ways of being happy. The concept of happiness is a bit fuzzy but I believe that our hormone system is affected by a happening and that makes us feel happy. But happiness is much more than just a feeling, because happiness subsides if it is not continuously stimulated. It is the constant stimulation that evokes the emotion of happiness.

Like everything else in this world happiness is not constant and it depends on activities that keep up the feeling of happiness. Happiness is much like success, because when we have success we also feel happy. In order to be happy we have to do well as human beings, and doing well does not mean to be good at specific disciplines, it means to be good at being human.

To be good at being human we need knowledge about life and I think it is important to take control of our own life and destiny – take responsibility for our life and find a purpose. The more knowledge and understanding we have about our own life the easier it is to get on a good path in life. The good path in life will offer both good and bad, but we have optimised this path by taking control and making good choices.

Our purpose in life is closely related to our identity and if we loose our identity then life will seem pointless. E.g. we loose our job or go through a divorce and our life seems without meaning, because the things we lost defined us, they were part of our identity and purpose of life. To be happy we need to have a purpose and an identity that will move us to take action.

What Is Good?

Aristotle said that all actions we take have a purpose and that purpose is to strive for something better. It is not human nature to take action towards something worse; it would not make sense to us. This is worth considering when people do something that seems to worsen the conditions for other people or themselves, because their original intentions may actually have been to improve the conditions.

If something is good is a matter of perspective. If there is something we want then this thing must be good; if there is something we dislike and do not want then this thing would be bad. Since we do not have the same feelings towards wants and do-not-wants we will experience conflicts where something good to one part is defined as bad for another. Let us say I want to eat peanuts because they make me feel good. I decide to share my good feeling and I offer them to you, but you reject the offer because you are allergic to peanuts and they will make you feel bad. In this case peanuts are defined good in my worldview but in your worldview peanuts are bad.

Something good does not stay good permanently. E.g. when I have eaten enough peanuts I do not want more of them. If I continue eating the peanuts anyway then I will start to dislike them and they will become bad in my worldview. I will probably want something else instead, like water.

To feel good you need to take action and do something else than you do now. Actions means change and change will conflict with your peace of mind and that is what I will write about in my next post.

Challenge: Try to see the good intentions in actions from people you dislike. E.g. Hitler; Lenin; Saddam Hussein; your government; or maybe just someone in your social circle.

How To Smile

Have you noticed that when people relax in their facial muscles then the corners of the mouth turn downwards? That often happens when you are very concentrated about something and it is quite natural, but think about if it is suitable for the situation. When the corners of the mouth turn downwards you look grumpy and distant. It does not mean that you are grumpy and distant but the world around you will perceive you like that.

If you feel depressed you do not feel like smiling, but do it anyway because smiling will make you feel better. People around you will seem more kind and happy to see you. If you have to ask someone about something, then who would you rather ask, they grumpy one or the smiling one? If you want other people to care for you, to notice you, to do something for you or to listen to you, then smile and you will get all that. Your smile will make other people happy and they will return the smile and make you happy.

You can smile by turning your corners of the mouth up a bit. They do not have to turn upwards, just make them at least straight. It does not take much effort; practise this in front of the mirror and you will see the massive change it makes to your face and attitude. You also have to pull the muscles at the corners of your eyes, just a little bit. It does not take much energy or effort, just practise this in front of the mirror and be aware of your smile when you are among other people.

I will give you two exercises that helped me:

  1. Do 100 smiles in front of the mirror every day. You need to tighten the muscles completely. It makes you look funny, but I will strengthen the muscles you need to smile.
  2. Collect smiles: Walk through town and catch peoples eyes while you turn your muscles a bit to straight or upward. Notice how many will smile back at you and notice the feeling inside yourself. It will give you self-confidence.

How To Be Visible

Being noticed is a large topic and is also called marketing. This post is merely food for thinking and maybe it will give you some ideas to focus on.

Do you sometimes feel like you blend in with the walls and the pattern of the wallpaper? Do you feel like you are invisible walking down the street? Are you the one who end up along the wall of a room or in the back of a crowd? Are you the one people bump into without even noticing? Are you the one people do not hear if you try to say something? Well I could go on with these familiar questions, but you can turn this around and become visible.

First of all you have to find out who you are. I can recommend taking a lot of personality tests that will give you an idea of who you are. Start out by testing your foundation. You need to work intensively on this for about one year and after a while you will start to get to know yourself. This can be quite scary because people who are invisible often try to escape who they are. Your visibility comes from within yourself.

If you want people to listen when you talk, you first of all need to convince yourself that you have the right to talk. Then step out of your body and look at yourself, listen to your voice – is there anything you could change in your attitude?

If you want people to see you, then look at your clothes. Are you mostly wearing grey colours and worn shoes? Do you pay any attention to fashion at all? You need to break some personal barriers and get a smart haircut and wear bright clear colours that support your personality.

And today’s most important tip: Smile!