Repeating myself

I know I am repeating myself with this post, but I was Skyping a friend and we were discussing decisions, and I remembered this post and recommended it to her. I immediately realized I could benefit from its wisdom, too. I know it’s quite bold of me to recommend and to suggest that my posts are full of wisdom, but bottom-line is, I truly think they are! :-) (I’m sorry but it’s true, and don’t forget I’m often sharing the ideas of wise folks, other than me, so that sort-of works in my defense . . .) 

I’ve used the method detailed below, many times, and know first-hand it works. I’m happy I mentioned it to my friend today, because in the next few months I will be facing tons of decisions, and rereading the post was great for me, too.

I would like to start by saying, please don’t let decisions make you crazy. Rather than worrying about deciding, take some quiet time to tell yourself you can do it, and remind yourself it is not the end of the world. Many of us, myself included, have a way of over-dramatizing the impact of the decisions we make – seldom are they as life or death as we make them seem.  

Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that sooner or later the dilemma you are facing will be over and done. Picture yourself looking back, and without being specific about the course you took, simply imagine yourself comfortable with the outcome; the decision has been made, and you are smiling about how much time you spent worrying for nothing. Now, feel that for a bit.  

You can use a past decision as a starting point. Remember when you thought _____________ (fill in the blank) was a huge decision? (Finding/picking a girlfriend/boyfriend, car, job, school, college, major, house, school for our kids, wedding invitations and venue, etc.) In the end, did it matter as much as you thought it would? It may have turned out differently than you expected, but probably did not impact your life all that much one way or the other. (I’m not saying our choices don’t impact our life – they do – but ones we agonize over seldom have the impact we predict.)  

So relax, take a deep breath and read or reread: “Instead of either or”

Do you have a hard time making decisions? When faced with two equally positive or negative options have you ever felt stuck?

Most of us at sometime in our lives have been paralyzed by the thought of having to choose between door one and door two. Here’s an idea that might help:

Instead of either/or, add one more

Huh? I know it sounds odd, and is counterintuitive, but it works . . .  

Instead of either/or, add one more!

The idea is not mine, but making it a cute little rhyme is. (And, as silly as the rhyme sounds, it’s more memorable, and I think it’s a line worth remembering.)

Instead of either/or, add one more.

Picture this, you’ve inherited a huge sum of money, never have to work again, and have been house hunting for months. You finally found two homes you love, and although they are very different each offers you a lifestyle you have always wanted. You can’t decide whether to go with the brownstone in Manhattan or the cattle ranch in Colorado and rich as you are, you can’t afford both. 

Or, you have two great job options, life coach in Florida or actress in Hollywood – naw, that one is way too easy, I’d choose being a life coach, anywhere! But, I digress.

I was recently reading brothers Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick”, and their comments about the paradoxes of how we decide things, led me to come up with my little ditty:

Instead of either/or, add one more. 

The decision-making research they cited reveals the value of adding one more choice to an either/or mix. Adding “one more”, helps us prioritize, which makes it easier for us to recognize what we truly prefer. We tend to think that by making things black or white, or narrowing down our choices to just two – this or that, we are making things easier on ourselves, but the opposite may be true. It appears that is easier for us to choose, when we look at and compare three options rather than two.

EX: Brownstone in Manhattan, cattle ranch in Colorado, and beach house in Florida. Did the picture get any clearer for you, it did for me. 

  • Manhattan/Colorado/Florida

Comparing three options rather than two, changes the way we think, and may lead us to faster and maybe less regrettable decisions. (It’s easy to spend our lives regretting either/or decisions; I think comparing three options reduces the drama, which may in turn reduce lingering regrets.)

So what would you choose, brownstone, ranch, beach house? There are no wrong answers, pick what appeals most to you.

Try applying the rhyme this weekend if you are faced with any either/or dilemmas. It works well on the big or little stuff.

My most immediate dilemma is, do I want coffee or tea? Adding one more, a Mimosa sounds good, it’s Friday, and the weekends begin early on the Southwest Coast of Florida . . .

I chose the coffee, adding the Mimosa sounded wonderful, but within seconds of adding the option I realized that a perfect cup of coffee was what I really wanted. 

PS I also recommend, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”. It’s a great book.

WTW Dandelion

Up next

Patrice Koerper, American Corner, Bitola, Macedonia

That’s me. Happy and fulfilled because I was using my strengths and was very grateful to be where I was, doing what I was doing – talking about positive psychology at the American Corner in Bitola, Macedonia to a great group of people!

For my next project I am heading to the Republic of Georgia for three months as a Response Corps Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps. I love the Peace Corps; 2011 is their 50th anniversary. Who knew during the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps I would be a volunteer with them again! That’s the fun of creating the life you want, it is often a mystery – until it unfolds in front of you, like Macedonia and Georgia have done for me.

I will live in the capital of Tbilisi, and will work with the Ministry of Environment Protection writing a public relations plan for them. Before becoming a life coach, I worked in public relations for 25+ years, but could never have predicted I would someday be using those skills in Macedonia or in Georgia.

Georgia and Macedonia have a number of things in common, they have both been republics since 1991, and they are both beautiful mountainous countries with lots of vineyards; wonderful, warm people and rich histories. Their climates are similar, and much like Cleveland, Ohio were I was born and lived for 36 years.

I cannot wait to begin my assignment in Georgia, but it is just as difficult to say goodbye to Macedonia and my friends and “family” here, as it was to leave my family and friends in the States. Change and courage go hand in hand with each new adventure. We can never be certain where our journeys will take us, but I know that happiness is my constant traveling companion if I only remember to open my suitcase!

I hope wherever you are in the process of creating the life you want, you are experiencing fun, flow and fulfillment and are surrounded by friends and are finding ways to use your strengths, because as noted on the screen in the above photo those five things combined are the key to creating the life you want, PERMAnently.

Below is the next stop of my journey, where will yours take you? (Please remember, the internal places we travel and the friends we make are as important, and are usually more life changing and lasting, than the locations we visit.)

The Republic of Georgia

And, in true Georgian tradition, I will toast to you and your journey as soon as I can in my new location. You see, in Georgia . . .

“Toasts, however, are not simple declarations; they are expected to be speeches mixed with mirth, spoken verse and insight. Toasts are usually made with wine, toasting with beer is an insult to the one toasted. We are very generous with our wine, but since toasts are the only time you are supposed to drink your wine, we have many toasts (we have always been a practical people). In fact, we will use just about anything as an excuse to toast, a foreign guest happens to work quite well. So get used to your family, your country and friendship and your character being toasted. ”

http://georgia.travel/culture/food/toasting/

And, since Georgians never toast without a table laden with delicious homemade food, I know I will be feeling at home very soon!

PS  This post is filled with interesting links and videos about Georgia and posts about Macedonia and Wishful Thinking Works. Please take a minute to scroll up and click to learn more about where I am heading next, where I have been and what I’ve been thinking about along the way.

Uniquely you

 

Did you know that you are really very cool and are a unique combination of a series of virtues and character strengths?

Yes, you.

You are uniquely designed to be good at certain stuff. The specific “stuff ” you choose to do is up to you, but  one of the best ways to feel happy and fulfilled in your life is to identify and use your personal strengths to choose the stuff best suits you.

I’ve mentioned all this before (click here to read more about your Signature Strengths). Having and using Signature Strengths is nothing new, but sometimes we have to be in just the right mood to move forward on something, so I am mentioning it again. 

I was thinking that this weekend might be the perfect time to take the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) Survey and find out more about yourself and what makes you uniquely you. It’s free!

It could be the beginning of a whole new you or maybe just a more fit you, because once you know what your strengths are you can begin exercising them on a regular basis. Consider it a workout for your soul.

I love exercising my strengths, my top six are capacity to love and be loved; creativity, ingenuity, and originality; gratitude;  zest, enthusiasm, and energy; curiosity and interest in the world and judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness. They provide a great foundation for creating the life I really want – your strengths are waiting to support you!

Here are the general categories and traits to get you in the mood to explore the real you. 

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, innovation
  2. Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality
  3. Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  4. Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
  5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self control
  6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_psychology

 Enjoy your weekend, and I hope you find the time to exercise what makes you, you!

Why positive psychology matters

This Thursday at 6 p.m. I will be presenting my second “Why Positive Psychology Matters” talk in Macedonia at the American Corner in Bitola. I presented my first via the Internet in March at the American Corner in Skopje.

We will be discussing gratitude, the 3 F’s of Happiness, PERMA, personal stories and strengths and how are brains are designed to help us create the lives we really want.

If you are in the area, please join us! If you can’t make it, clink on the links above to read some of what we’ll be talking about. It may change your life.

And, if you like what you read, you can subscribe to Wishful Thinking Works, and follow on Facebook.

Stepping back

 

 

Going to the rural village of Dihovo just outside of Bitola, Macedonia is like stepping back in time.

I think stepping back, taking time to absorb life and see what rises and what really matters is a very good thing. In 2005, stepping back from my life led me to one of the best decisions of my life – to join the Peace Corps. In 2006, I found myself in Macedonia and soon after in Dihovo.

Dihovo is a place where the word quiet is a way of life and soft-edged stone homes hug the winding narrow roads. Natural time is the only clock that really matters here – the light of the sun and the tilt of the earth’s axis predict activities.  If you rise early you may meet a shepherd and his flock heading up the mountains, if you stay-up late you will experience the deep, rich sounds of silence. If you visit in late spring, lettuce will be ready to pick and flowers will be blooming everywhere. If you wait until fall, someone is sure to be stirring ajvar or fermenting grapes. 

Dihovo is nestled in the foothills of the Baba Mountains, where each step you take, every move you make is an uplifting experience – all puns intended. 

Under the protection of the mountains, the summers are cooler; the winters a bit warmer. Fall weather adds vibrant color to the surrounding hills, and on a snowy day nature’s gifts seem to almost too much to bear. Like an over-eager guest, who brings more than wine or chocolates to dinner, nature has presented Dihovo with an abundance of goodies. 

I first visited this tiny enclave at the invitation of one of its summer and weekend residents in 2007, my love of the village and its people quickly grew and has expanded over the years. Dihovo is alway on my mind, often on my lips, and can easily be found on my virtual fingertips as I find new ways and places to write about its peaceful wonders.

This weekend I was in Dihovo when Macedonia’s summer-like weather abruptly ended as rain fell and the temperature dramatically dropped. This brisk change served to enhance the village’s beauty as the dark sleek colors of stones emerged and the aroma of wood burning stoves, roasting red-peppers, and slow-cooking meat dishes filled the air. Walking the streets with my collar-up and umbrella opened, here is a bit of what I was lucky enough to enjoy this weekend in Dihovo. There is an emphasis on the chimneys that warmed the homes and my heart:

 

 

 

As always, lots more photos, but will save for another day. If you want to visit Dihovo, I suggest Villa Dihovo or Villa Patrice (named for me, not mine). Both are also listed in the Macedonia section of the Lonely Planet Guide Western Balkans (pg 315) and on Facebook. You can “Like” us all there! Also there are lots of great videos for Macedonian foods on You Tube. 

If you would like to create the life you really want, try stepping back by giving yourself a bit more free and alone time to see what happens. Turn off the TV, put down your book, and stop trying to do everything at once. Stretch a bit or take a walk and try not to think too much. It might feel odd at first, but if you keep trying you may find there is something entirely new or something you have wanted but have ignored, waiting for you. Stepping back can help you discover your dreams.

Stepping back is leading me on a new adventure; next Monday I leave Macedonia for the Republic of Georgia for a 3 month assignment with Response Corps Peace Corps. I’ll tell you more about it when I’m settled in there. Until then, I will be spending time with all my wonderful friends in Macedonia.

When a door closes

 
 

When a door closes, a window opens . . .

I believe this to be true, and seem to be spending a great deal of time wandering the streets of Macedonia and Greece capturing these beautiful and motivating symbols of change. Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I do. Your window of opportunity may be just around the corner.

 

Hmm, closed and locked seems impenetrable! Ohrid, Macedonia

Don't let appearances or the number of closed doors deter you. Bitola, Macedonia

What about a gate half open? Go with your guts; it's always up to you. Ohrid, Macedonia

Mixed messages; "Should I knock or should I go?" Choice is yours. Bitola, Macedonia

A lost cause, time to let it go? Ohrid, Macedonia

Not all your options will be neatly laid out in front of you. Leptokaria, Greece

Sometimes, you may need to pause and reflect before the answers come. Bitola, Macedonia

Some choices may seeming confusing or a bit cluttered. Bitola, Macedonia

Some options will sit squarely in front of you. Ohrid, Macedonia

Others may seem whimsical or unusual. Bitola, Macedonia

Some will be super sweet, like curly rolled baklava. Leptokaria, Greece

Some may be salty. Leptokaria, Greece

Some will be combinations, and still like a seem warm and cozy option. Bitola, Macedonia

Previously closed doors, may reopen. Bitola, Macedonia

Fancy opportunities may materialize. Ohrid, Macedonia

Simple and yet stunning openings exist all around you. Ohrid, Macedonia

Moments you might miss without quiet reflection. Bitola, Macedonia

 
 

Recessed and waiting. Bitola, Macedonia

You truly never know what may open before you. Bitola, Macedonia

 
 

Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Bitola, Macedonia

With an open mind, you will surely see . . . Bitola, Macedonia

. . . the possibilities, are endless. Ohrid, Macedonia

 

Have a great weekend, pondering the possibilities.

PS Thanks for the “Likes” on Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook!

One year ago today . . .

This week I finally got back to Dream Café, and had a perfect cup of cappuccino and a delicious Choco Loco! If you live in Bitola visit Dream Café in New Bitola by the pazzar for a one of their delicious hot or cold coffee drinks – they are dreamy! I will be there this Saturday.

One year ago today . . .

As bad as our economic crisis is, the economics of life in Macedonia are much worse.  Double digit unemployment is a way of life – 30%+ is normal, and yet the entrepreneurial spirit prevails.

I am continually humbled by the number of people here, who are creating the lives they want as they tip-toe through and leap over the obstacles in their paths. 

Here are the results of believing your dreams can come true . . .

Dream Cafe, Bitola, Macedonia

My friends Pece and Marie are a unique couple in many ways.  They have successfully blended their cultures, and use their many talents to combine their dreams.  I was thrilled to be here for the opening of their new café.  I spent many, many Saturday mornings with friends at their previous café in the old Turkish market in Bitola.  “Dream Café” is in a great location, next to the new green market in Bitola.

Pece and Marie

Their cappuccino is the best in Macedonia. (My close up shot of a perfect cup was not so perfect – next visit!)  Pece is a coffee connoisseur, blending each batch of beans with just the right amount of options for his customers.

Every special event means great chocolates will be on-hand for guests.

 

Lots of delicious choices, even better then Starbucks - alcohol allowed. :-)

 

Friends old and new, Nikola, Jovan and Dan, enjoying coffee.

Pece and Marie make and serve each cup with pride and precision!

Pece capturing a moment. Seating inside and out.

Congratulations again, to my two wonderful friends Pece and Marie and their sweet little daughter and son. I can’t wait for my next cup of cappuccino.

 

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