Stop Being Afraid

I’ve been watching a Chinese drama called Nothing but Thirty (三十而已) and recently, I watched one episode where the character says the something like the following:

When we’re little, people around us tell is to be brave, to get back up and walk, or get back on the bike and keep pedalling until you succeed. You learn to be brave and not be afraid of failure. As you get older, in a turn of events, people tell you not to take those risks. They say, “don’t do it, the cost of failure is too great” or “you’re going to get hurt and it’s not worth it”. And with that, years of courage is tossed away.

That hit me hard.

I reflected on how I lost my courage and let fear dictate my every action and thought. I’ve become afraid of being me. I’ve become afraid of trying. Worse of all, I’ve become afraid of living.

So this very moment, I dedicate myself to not being afraid. I want my childhood mindset back, where it was all about problem solving, learning, and exploring. I’m not afraid to fall of my bike.

I am working on something new and I have been afraid on how to transition into it, but I am ready. I am done calculating all the risks, the right moves, the right way to not fail.

I promise to do it everyday and share it with you.

Thanks for reading.

And.

Check out the drama too if you’re into life lessons!

This Book Made me Reflect on 2020

I know 2020 hasn’t ended yet, but so much has already happened.

I was on a mission to clean my wardrobe, allotting 3 hours to the task when I decided to listen to the audiobook of Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.

A little bit of context: I had been reading positivity quotes, productivity books and hustle material for a while at this point. Reading Tuesdays with Morrie gave me a “fresher” perspective on life. Self-care, self-development, selfie–all about the “self.

I thought it was a fictional book, but instead, it made me think. There was no hustle “bro talk”, positivity quotes or mind-boggling questions. Instead, it made me think about how I treat others, how I treat myself, my character and putting good into the world.

Tuesdays with Morrie with encouraged me to take a look at my purpose. It talks of compassion too. That one really hit hard because Morrie said (something like this) that if we all had compassion, then there’d be no judgement–racism, sexism, prejudice etc. That’s all the problems that have surfaced thus far in 2020.

If you’re in need of reflecting without the pressure of “self-development” and want to put good into the world, then this book is for you. There’s also a movie on the book too. I don’t think I’ll watch it though.

I didn’t write a summary but here’s Spark Notes if you want to get a gist of what this book is about.

I suppose this is your 2020 hindsight prompt.

How I get Motivated in 20 mins

We’ve all gotten stuck before. There are days we wake up and we feel like life is becoming redundant. Even the things we used to enjoy don’t seem appealing.

If this has ever happened to you, I get it. I was in a slump this morning. (I was actually describing myself above.)

I’m not seeing the results I want at the moment and I think that has been getting to me. I also think the anxiety/boredom of COVID-19 has begun to hit. I want to get out.

Anyway, there’s this one thing I do that has helped me, pumped me up.

It’s listening to this podcast called The Motivated Mind.

The host is Scott Lynch and what I like most about this podcast is that he is brutally honest–not mean, but honest. He doesn’t amp you up with bro talk and it’s not a casual chitchat. He’s a mentor telling you what you need to do to get going. The best part about all this is it only takes 20mins. Not too short that it won’t have substance and not too long that it will overwhelm you. For myself, this is just the right amount.

I also appreciate him telling his audience to not waste time consuming motivational material like his podcast. He wants you to take action.

Please give it a listen and share your thoughts below or private DM on IG @sy.dor.

Positive Emotions Broaden Our Mind

I continue my watercolor painting journey with Emma Block’s The Joy of Watercolor. If you haven’t read the previous post and are interested, you can check it out here. I share what I learn about taking things one step at a time to enjoy the process and how you can apply this to your life.

Evening painting

I wasn’t feeling so great last night, because I was worried about another problem. Then I kept putting this painting off until the evening, past 8pm. My anxiety tinted my perspective dark. I felt like I couldn’t complete the painting…until I was halfway done! It made me feel better gradually. Unfortunately, I resumed worrying about my other problem and forgot about my painting.

BUT. Looking at it the next day–looking at it right now–I think I did a good job and the colors are so much fun. I get excited looking at it and I am most definitely proud that I did it.

Admiring the colors today!

So, what happened?

Anxiety is a negative emotion. It tells us that something is important to us, but too much of it can “narrow” our field of vision.

In Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory, it says that when we are experiencing positive emotions, we are able to see the bigger picture, and hence, innovate, create and have energy for life. Negative emotions makes us narrow minded.

That sounds right to me. I felt a lot better after painting and seeing it today makes me feel even better. This is my second blogpost I have finished in two hours too!

Feeling much better.

Now I look back and I will implement a few of these activities to help me manage my negative emotions, especially when I need to get work done:

  1. Take some time away
    Painting made me feel better and I called it a night afterwards. I have the same problem I need to solve today, but I feel energized and I can see possible solutions.
  2. Have faith, have hope
    I am Christian, so I try to remind myself everything will work out in God’s timing. It’s not easy and it takes practice. This is an action I have only recently adopted. If you are not Christian or religious, you can recall a time when things worked out for the better. Remember that it can happen again.
  3. Write one thing you are thankful for today
    Gratitude is super powerful because it can shift our perspective. A quarter of my whiteboard is dedicated to listing things I am grateful for. I want to do that throughout the day and especially when I’m not feeling fantastic. I didn’t use that space yesterday. I will have to give it a go again today. Practice makes perfect.

Bringing joy into our lives is a deliberate action. When we make such an investment with our time and energy, the return is exponential. I will work on making the above list a habit and let you know how it goes!

What activities do you do to bring the happy back?

PS. Here is a video of Barbara Fredrickson’s talk about positive emtions:

Kindness Gives Confidence

@nininana.land / Source: Pinterest

“Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re in anxious or shy in a social situation.” ⁠
– From “Kindness Health Facts” by @wellnessatdartmouth⁠

I shared this above image on my studio Instagram account.

We all know we should be kind because that is the right thing to do, but it’s easier said than done.

Below are a few ways I practice kindness when I don’t feel great:

  1. Feeling Anxious
    Let’s not let this anxiety spill into other people’s lives, but be kind to ourselves. I find it helpful to say out loud, “I don’t feel great (or awful!). I am anxious, but this is what has worked well so far today.” Then I list out a few things that has gone well in the day. Acknowledging the negative feelings first then reminding myself of the good has helped me directly shift the situation to a positive one. This is like when you burn your tongue. What are you going to do? Let it hurt? No! Go get that ice cube or cold water to soothe that pain!
  2. Feeling Angry/Upset Towards Another Person
    This is a hard one, but I say one kind thing the other person has done for me out loud. In my experience, this has dissipated my negative emotions immediately, stopping me from gossiping, arguing, or feeling hurt. If it gets especially hard, I remind myself that God, my family and friends love me and say in what ways.
  3. Feeling Sad
    Sadness can suck the life out of you. It makes being around people hard. In situations like this, it is the most effective to be kind to others in order to give yourself a boost. I have found saying “hello” to strangers or finding something you like about them (ie. hair, shoes, smile…etc.) and compliment them on it very helpful. This changes how you view things to a “happy lens”.

What other ways do you practice kindness when it’s challenging? Please share!

How Watercolor Painting Taught Me to Enjoy Process

The Joy of Watercolor: 40 Happy Lessons for Painting the World ...
The Joy to Watercolor by Emma Block

Watercolor painting intimidated me for years. Then one day at the library I found The Joy to Watercolor by Emma Block. This book is so amazing because it includes clear and simple step-by-step instructions. By the end of each painting, I really felt like I could do it and it made me feel so satisfied! So, here is my experience:

I have done the first few paintings in the book already. I decided to work on this painting today:

I was so excited to start, but also worried. Yes, worried. It looked complicated with all the tiny details, color blends and layer—how was I going to do it all? So, before my mind spiralled out of control, I remembered how my other paintings turned out–fun. Each time midway through painting when I thought it was ruined, the final result is always better than I had imagined.

So, with that, I proceeded to PAINT.

My painting process!

During the painting process, I focused on each step individually. I didn’t worry about the end result, I didn’t worry about the big picture. I laid out the ground work for each step, then moved on to the next. As I finished each section, I felt more confident to add my own “spin”. I used what I had and did what felt right. That’s why you can see that I painted a different sleeve and background.

When I was done painting, I felt very accomplished. I learned that sometimes our vision can overwhelm us, but we only need to work through one step at a time. This reduces the amount of distraction of the end goal.

The fun part actually was pivoting in the process. I didn’t have all the colors, brushes, skills to do what Emma Block demonstrated. So, by working with what I had it gave me an entirely different vibe in my painting. I adjusted, tested and tried a few more things. I love my version of the painting more than the one in the book, because I was able to express myself.

Side by side comparison

The biggest lesson of all is that I can do it. We can do it. The vision is always exciting. The journey is a struggle. By focusing on one task at a time and doing our best at it, we can find that joy in the process. We will learn to adjust to detours and get back in our lane. When we reach our goal, it will surprise us because it will be us.

If you have a goal that you want to reach but sometimes get overwhelmed, give this book a try. I am still in the process of retraining my thought patterns, but I know it works. I always come out with joy when I complete a painting. i believe with practice, this will help retrain our thought process pattern and bring small joys along the way.

I have included a video below of me painting if you are interested to see the actual experience. I also have the same video in loooong form so we can paint along or hear some of my thoughts as I do this.

If you do any different activities that bring you joy and improve your mindset, please do share below!

Timelapse video