Why should we choose an alternative lifestyle?

Being animals, we are all quite similar in the matter of needs, such as represent on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs included below.

hierarchy of needs

That should lead us to think that we all need equal environments to fulfil those needs, but that is not what happens in that daily basis. Our individual characters, created both by genetic inheritance and experiences, lead us to be very specific about those needs.

Looking at the physiological bottom of the hierarchy, there is food, for example. While my brother will happily settle for a huge piece of dead cow, I would probably rather starve than eat that (how stubborn of me). He would not settle for my plant-based diet either. Even though the physiological need is the same, we choose different paths to fulfil it.

How many hours we sleep, the way and with whom we have sex, the amount of family members we want to have around us, the amount of property we need to own and to live in, the amount of friends we need, are all examples of how diverse our needs may get.

Lately I have been studying a little more about properties, mainly through watching videos online. There are so many different ways to build your house and so many different ways to live in it. I grew up in a big house, with plenty of room unoccupied. Watching these videos for the past few weeks I realize how much money and effort my parents put into a house that is only partly being lived in. I probably will not want a house this big but I will definitely give more use to the space surrounding it. This house worked for my parents and mine will work for me.

These are small examples of how alternative lifestyles may improve our life. If we would all live the same way, there would be no room for our personalities. Being vegan or having a tiny house may work better for someone than eating corpses or having a huge mansion. And that is fine.

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Wicklow Mountains | Ireland 2017

Before starting on what happened in the Wicklow Mountains, the five of us got together for the first time on the 14th July 2017, when we had dinner at Veginity, my current favourite restaurant in Dublin… in Ireland… oh well, in the world! I have only been there this one time but you can be sure I will return.

On the 15th July 2017 we hit the road, even though late that night we came back to Dublin to spend the night before starting the main road trip. We went to Wicklow Mountains in this first day, including The Great Military Road, Glencree and Glendalough Monastic Site.

 

Our path in the Wicklow Mountains with a little history…

Wicklow Mountains National Park was established in 1991. Originally covered with forests, it was cleared by neolithic farmers.

The Great Military Road (R115) was constructed between 1800 and 1809 to open up the mountains to the British Army to help them put down insurgents from the 1798 rebellion.

Glencree includes the barracks (used by the British Army from 1800 to 1815, then as a reformatory school, then to house german prisoners during the WWI, then to house german pilots and agents who planned anti-British activities who crashed in Ireland, and finally to care for german and polish war orphans), the German War Cemetery (which includes 134 graves of mostly German personnel and civillian from WWI) and Glencree River.

We have only seen Lough Tay, a lake shaped like a guinness pint, from up above because it was a long way down to see it and it was freezing (not literally)!

Lastly we went to Glendalough Monastic Site, a christian monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. We saw the gateway, the round tower and the cathedral, but my favourite part was the lake we explored afterward.

 

On our way back to Dublin we passed through Blessington, even though we did not actually stop there. Back in Dublin, we went to a place called Yogism, where we ate amazing pancakes and crepes, since we were too hungry to settle for a frozen yogurt.

The travellers | Ireland 2017

Even though this may not be the most exciting thing I have got to tell you about our road trip around Ireland, I think it is important to take time to consider the people you are going to travel with beforehand. That may avoid problems further down the road.

There were five of us traveling around Ireland back in July 2017. Alexandra (me), Diogo (my ex-boyfriend), Hector (our friend who lives in Ireland), Camille (our friend who lives in the USA) and Betty Marsha (Mil’s mom). Each one of us brought something to the group and I think that is what made the group work.

I was the initial organizer of the trip, and Hector helped me a lot later on when I got tired of making most of the decisions. I believe we made a great team when it came to leading our trip and deciding what to do. That being said, it is not fair to exclude Betty Marsha, since she would be the deciding element whenever no one else could do it.

Hector was the driver and I must admit he is the best driver I have ever met. We would always feel comfortable in his car.

Mil and Betty Marsha were the peaceful people in the car. They were never upset, which helped to keep the general good mood.

Betty Marsha was the link that would ask everyone questions about themselves. That trait helped in the development of relationships between the five of us. We ended up knowing a lot about each other.

I am not going to lie and tell you that everything went according to plan. Unfortunately the final days were ruined by my break-up. Nevertheless, I think the group was great in several aspects. There was a driver, two leaders, a third decider, two peacekeepers and a moderate chatter. Those are ingredients I find essential in a road trip team (because that is what you end up being – a team).

All the planning payed of | Ireland 2017

We did not plan that much ahead for our road trip around Ireland and, most times, we ended up discovering what to do a day prior actually getting to do it. Here are some aspects that may be useful for you to know before starting to plan your own road trip, even if you are not much of a planner.

Before getting to what we actually did, you ought to know why we did it. I am dietary vegan and Mil is vegetarian. Due to our dietary specifications, we would always need to plan where we would go to eat in advance. Some days we would plan what to do basically based on where we were eating.

Our notebook

I brought a notebook wherever we went. I wrote down where we went each day (we would only know where we would go the day before), some of the main attractions that could be interesting for us to visit there (including some facts about their stories), where we could eat and where we were going to stay for the night. I found it important to write everything down since that allowed us to have a quicker view of all our possibilities and which one would better suit our current schedule.

Housing

We knew where we would be staying beforehand since we booked all the places we would be staying in prior to the trip. I found that comforting since we did not know where we would go the next day but we always knew we had somewhere to sleep.

Food

I researched possible places to eat the next day using Happy Cow. The problem we faced was that there were places that were not open for business anymore and others where the opening hours differed from the ones shared online. It was very important to have several possibilities in several different locations along our planned path. We were never forced to skip a meal but there were times where we would have to eat far too late.

What to see

It was very easy to decide what to see since everyone was quite open for suggestions (most of them mine). I would find some places we could visit the other day and the group would give their thoughts on them while we were already in the car. That proved to be an effective system since we did not feel restricted to a previous plan but we still managed to visit interesting places, unknown to the main public, places we would not have seen if we had only relied on our impulsiveness.

 

I hope this is useful for anyone planning on traveling. Even though I believe we ought to leave time open for pleasant surprises, and simply to relax whenever needed, I think planning ahead may save you unpleasant moments and help you go to places you would not discover just by traveling around. It is specially important if you have dietary needs that differ from the norm in the country you are traveling to, since most places you will find along the road may not sell the food you want to eat

 

Miserable present

Carpe Diem

Being the Dead Poets Society‘s enthusiast I am, I was supposed to follow that simple ancient statement that urges us to seize the day. That is not what has been happening over the past few months.

Being in a country you do not want to be in, working at a job you are not so interested in while working another that you simply love and can’t get enough of and living away from who you want to be close to, your life can easily lose its purpose. When I think about why I am doing all this, I keep telling myself it is because I want to work as a sports physiotherapist in Ireland. Even though that goal still pushes me forward and helps me keep going, I noticed I have not enjoyed my past few months. I am idling and I do not want that.

I feel truly miserable most days. I keep crying all the time. I keep complaining about most things. Surely there are happy moments, but those are not so common. Those positive moments are not enough to make up for all the negative ones that fill my days.

Spending an average of 2 hours a day driving between jobs is not the recipe for happiness, I find. It rather feels like a key ingredient for a burnout. I probably should give up on one of my jobs but it is not that simple since I can’t actually choose one that I am willing to give up on.

My social support system is also falling apart. I feel lonely all the time. I do not feel I have someone to talk to. I do not have meaningful relationships at the moment, mostly due to how far I am from my friends.

As of today, at half past ten pm, I feel like I am not doing things right. I am not living in the moment. I am miserable and I keep watching these videos of people that changed their lives through minimalism or living in tiny homes or quitting their jobs, and I keep wondering when I will be able to do the change I want and if I will feel happy by then.

 

Sunday, 22nd October 2017

The Goal Getter, by Gerry Duffy

Image result for the goal getter

 

The Goal Getter, by Gerry Duffy, is a self help book, even though it felt different from what I recall this genre feeling like when I read it. It did not come across as cheesy or cheap. It sounded like good achievable advice.

 

Gerry Duffy, the author, took on some very interesting sports challenges throughout his life and, even though he may be successful in other areas, it was him running 32 marathons in 32 days that made me believe in pretty much everything he wrote in this book. It is important to trust a writer when you are reading a self help book and that was accomplished even for someone who just stumbled upon it without any previous knowledge of the author. Someone who overcomes a challenge like that must have some good advice to give on the topic of achieving goals.

This blog post is only a hint of what you can find in The Goal Getter, which I certainly advise you to get your hands on. There are only two things I should warn you about before reading the actual book: lots of the examples are sports-based, which I found interesting, and there is an abundant use of repetition, which I felt pertinent. (If not mentioned otherwise, quotes included in this post are literally transcribed from the book.)

 

What you can learn with The Goal Getter

1. On how to face life in general:

Be thankful

‘Getting’ to do something is the true blessing that we often forget in life.

Stop saying “I have to” and start saying “I get to”. I am able to work at three jobs at the same time because I have got a support system that helps me accomplish that at the same time as I keep working towards my other goals. I am not obliged to work, nor am I forced to work this much, I do it because I love it and because I can.

Be positive

The “happiness advantage” is showed in this video from TEDx Talks that Duffy shared. In it the speaker exposes how a positive attitude may help you changing how you interact with the world around you and reaching your goals. He gives a list of five “positive changes” to help you engage in a more positive mindset (3 Gratitudes; Journaling; Exercise; Meditation; Random Acts of Kindness).

“We create success or failure on the course primarily by our thoughts”, Gary Player

Commit to speaking a new (positive) language from here.

Be daring

Don’t limit your possibilities by saying you are too old to take on a challenge.

Underneath each one of us there may be a hidden talent waiting to be uncovered. It is our choice either to try and maybe find it or else to idle while life passes by.

Take care of your body

It is important to eat a healthy breakfast to get your body started each day. It is also okay to have a treat once in a while but most of the time wiser choices should be done in order to feel good.

Eat well, perform well.

Exercising before your day starts wakes-up your body and gets it ready for what is ahead of you later. Exercising regularly may improve your perspective on life, helping you set a positive mindset. It is important that people do not stop working out throughout the years or else their body will act accordingly and, besides losing the benefits of regular exercise, they will suffer the consequences of sedentarism. A usual excuse to not exercise is not having time for it, to which Duffy answers:

You will find time for anything you are committed to.

The first week working at those three jobs I currently have exhausted me, both physically and mentally. I had an 11 day rest period, which helped, obviously, but then I needed to get back to my schedule. The plan I came up with was not to do too many extra hours and to keep trying to sleep the same 8 hours that have been part of my routine for the last two years. We have to respect our body and give it the rest it asks for. Even though we have to work hard to achieve our goals, it is also important to stop sometimes and recharge. The key is to push yourself when you are in conditions to do so but, if you feel unwell, you have got to respect that first of all.

Our body is a vehicle that takes us to our goals. If we overuse the vehicle, it will not perform at its optimum and if pushed too far, it will become very uncooperative.

 

2. On how to set goals:

Write your goals down and keep them visible – it helps you hit them more often.

Writing down our goals is something probably most of us have heard before. I have done it before but not in a way in which I was committed with them. Invariably, I drop the paper or the digital document. It is necessary to make a contract out of it and write something specific, including a deadline. I will give you the example of a few of my next goals:

  • I will be completely vegan by December 2018.
  • I will have ran a 10k run by April 2018.
  • I will have a zero TBR by December 2019.

When planning something daring, alongside you ‘goal’ and your ‘how to get there’ list, write down your ‘whys’.

The idea behind joining our “whys” to our goals on paper is that keeping connected with the reasons why you want to achieve your goal may give you that extra motivation needed to achieve it. Here are the ‘how to get there’ and ‘whys’ related with one of my goals:

  • I will have ran a 10k run by April 2018.

     How to get there:

  1. I will restart running on the 2nd October 2017.
  2. I will run at least three days per week.
  3. I will have ran a 5k run by December 2017.

     Why:

  1. I want to be mentally stable.
  2. I do not want to feel tired.
  3. I want to meet other people that enjoy running.

 

3. On how to get goals:

 Create a clear vision of success

Create a clear vision of what your success looks like and store it in your mind. It has to be a detailed vision, you will use it all the way until you reach your goal. When you feel like you are lacking motivation, look back at that vision and you will find strength to achieve your goal. After giving this theory some thought, I realized I indeed had a vision, which involves working as a physiotherapist for a sports team in Ireland. As you can imagine, this will be a massive undertaking. Using that picture of me standing in a football field successfully treating a football player will help me keep going. If losing the desire to do something you need to do in order to accomplish a future goal, “visualization followed by actions can reignite your enthusiasm”.

Respect your goal

Respect your goal and stop accepting less than initially intended. It is not at all unusual for me to start by aiming for an unrealistic goal and to stop when I achieve what seems close enough. The solution may be to aim for realistic possibilities and go all the way. There are no 90 something per cents.

 Undersell and over-perform

If you are still way behind the goal you want to achieve, it may be wiser to avoid sharing it just yet. In case it does not turns into a reality, it will damage your credibility. Get closer to your goal before you share it with other people.

Practice

“The more I practice, the luckier I get”, Gary Player

“Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.”, Gretchen Rubin

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”, Michael Jordan

It is through little stretches every week that we will reach goals that seem out of our abilities. If feeling you are not as apt for something as other people are, the solution may be to practice more than those others in order to achieve the same results.

Divide your goal into parts

In order to reach a goal, it may be easier to tear it apart into several stages. Let us say four, such as instructed in the book we are studying. As you get closer to your destination (may it be whatever your goal is), it is the norm that you will be more challenged and it is possible that you may even need a little help to get through the final stage. That is okay. Divide your goal into stages and enjoy reaching each one of them, being aware not to give a step bigger than your leg. When you reach each stage, it is time to evaluate what you have done wrong, since it is that experience that will help you not repeat those mistakes again.

You may also devide a goal that will take some time to achieve and split it into the incremental amounts that you will achieve each day or hour.

A mental trick that also can be used is to give the final goal a number. Every step of the way will then be related to a number before the final one, which you need to pass through to reach the final one. The important thing is to keep going and the final goal will surely arrive.

Face your achievements

“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved, you can actually enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgement and appreciation are what give you the insights and the awareness to move forward towards higher goals and accomplishments.”, Jack Canfield

Instead of thinking back to all of the failures in the past, face the achievements you have accomplished. This may help you reach the realization that you are able to achieve what you are currently proposing to yourself. If you score your achievements according to how hard it was to achieve them, it may help you compare your current project with those and possibly realize it is even easier to achieve than some of your past ones. That may encourage you.

My proudest achievements to date are:
1. Getting three jobs approx. a month after graduating college (difficulty 5)
2. Graduating Physiotherapy (difficulty 7)
3. Publishing a story for the Madeira Torres school paper (difficulty 2)
4. Writing two books, even though they weren’t accepted for publishing YET (difficulty 4)
5. Creating and managing the YouTube channel Gaming Readers (difficulty 6)

As you can read from the list of my proudest achievements, I haven’t done anything worth over an 8 difficulty wise. It will surely happen in the future but I am still young and inexperienced and I am not worried about that. Instead, I am proud I did all this with only 22 years of age. The reason I am so proud is the fact that I overcame my depressive symptoms along the way to the final goal.

Also, if you have done something similar in the past, it is likely you will be able to achieve what you want to now.

Talk with other people

Talking with someone who achieved what you are committed to achieve, or even something similar, may be what it takes to give you the ability to do so. As a new graduate, I am currently learning a lot only by exchanging throughts with other physiotherapists. Phone a friend who you think can help you with your task and you can save yourself days of worry.

“I have also (…) learned that we are the sum of the average five or six people whom we spend the most time with.”, says Duffy. In order to help you achieve your goals, you may surround yourself with people that have skills important to you, people who motivate you and role models in general. Beware of negative people that may have an impact in your positive mindset and set you back. Be inspired by other people that achieved what you are trying to.

Feedback is the key for us to know what we could improve next in our behaviour. Since we are bias when we analize our behaviour, other people may be better judges of it than we are. It is not about accepting every criticism but at least giving it a thought and knowing when it is valid. It also works for a business, where you may benefit by asking your clients what they think went wrong with a particular transaction or experience and what you could do to improve. One option is to use questionnaires to gather feedback from your clients, as long as they are open to writing instead of simple rating, such as explained by Duffy.

Be committed even though you are struggling

If you are struggling at something, simply project yourself forward in time, to how you are going to feel when it is accomplished.

Sometimes I find myself caught up in something that terrifies me. My mind gets stuck in the fear of it, which only makes the possibility of succeding at the task ahead diminish. The simple solution offered here is that we keep thinking about a time in the future when the task we are dreading is over and just keep going towards that time. Time will not stop because we are afraid of something and that is why we can be sure that that something will be gone by that specific time. This works if you are running a marathon, if you are giving a public speech, if you are treating a lot of patients in a day at your private clinic. It is about just keep moving forward, delivering what you are expected to deliver, and knowing it will be over.

Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.

 

Formula for success

1. Decide what you want:
2. Take action;
3. Notice what is or isn’t working (and admit it);
4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want.

 

Between stability and development

Today I made a choice I have been questioning myself about for the past few weeks. It was a choice between a stable full-time job at a clinic and a more diverse intervention at several places throughout the week where I will possibly learn a lot more.

I graduated in late July, started working by mid-August and had three jobs by early September. I like to think I was not only lucky but also proactive while I was unemployed. I recall how terrifying those two weeks were and I do not like the possibility of ending up at the same place now due to turning down the stable job we are discussing here. That being said, there are other facts that have to be considered.

Having worked full-time at a clinic for three weeks I found that the cases I was studying were not very diverse. I ended up craving time to research different interventions and wishing I could manage other pathologies aside from the usual supraspinatus, rotator cuff and pes anserine tendinopathies. I became comfortable being there and I think that is not the environment that will push me forward.

Something missing in my life is also a role model, such as the physiotherapists I used to spend time with during my internship. And even though I know I can learn a lot through studying the evidence, I also know I can learn specific interventions by observing other people working.

I declined the offer. I do not know if I am making the right choice and I do not expect to know that until it is too late to change it. I believe I will find something else that will make me uncomfortably improve myself as a physiotherapist and I believe I will do some interesting things in the future as a physiotherapist. Those beliefs do not make those two thoughts a reality but they may help me achieve them in the future.

 

Monday, 2nd of October 2017