Let others keep on searching for Mistakes and stay happy! – 27 Nov 14

Experience has shown me again and again that some people will always keep on searching for mistakes. If you want to be happy, you cannot care much about them. All you can do is live authentically, honestly and with full confidence for your actions. After that, you can ignore such people without worrying about it or giving importance to their words.

I have given you examples for such behaviour throughout the week. I chose a picture for my blog entry, clicking through many photos of happy children. I decided to use one in which they were smiling at the camera. The result: someone doubting on the quality of our food and our concept of equality. My friend does huge efforts to support a charity and gets insulted for his sexual orientation – which has nothing to do with the charity at all! I write the recipe for making yoghurt and I get comments saying ‘Everyone knows this, it is so simple! Why do you write that?’

There will always be people like this. I have seen this my whole life long. I am a very happy person and have always be successful. When you are successful, people are jealous. When you are happy, people are jealous. It doesn’t matter it is due to a personal problem with you or just simply an inferiority complex, they are just jealous because you are successful and happy and they apparently are not.

They won’t be able to do anything against your success. They obviously feel that they cannot be happy for you because of your success or with you in your happiness. That’s how they try to feel more equal to you by bringing you down. Or at least they make every effort to bring you down.

Do you let them?

It is really your decision! You can choose if you would like to give them this success or not. It won’t actually make them happier. All it will do is make you unhappy if you let them bother you! They don’t see that your happiness is alone your decision. That you are successful because you choose to see it this way. That they could be happy as well, would they just take things the way you do!

It is not your duty to make them see this. It is your duty to stay happy no matter what such people say.

What to do when your Ego just got hurt – and you need to react? – 1 Oct 13

In yesterday’s blog entry I focused on the positive aspects of the ego. Today I would like to write a bit more about the downside of having too much ego, especially in spontaneous reactions to your outside.

In life, we often have situations in which we have to react immediately – be that a friendly conversation on phone, a work situation or some new information by a family member. And I believe everybody has already made that experience that in some encounters, your ego brings you in trouble. You react in a way that makes the situation unnecessarily difficult.

After your ego-filled reaction, when you have had a bit time, you regret your quick answer but then it is mostly too late already. You feel like banging your head against a wall for having brought you in this situation. You could have well done without this self-constructed problem!

What happened was that you were presented with something that triggered your ego instantly. As the situation required an immediate reaction, your ego took over and gave an answer that was soaked with ego.

Let me give you an example. You are talking with your colleagues about a recent project at work. You all had been convinced that you had done good work but somehow the result was the opposite: it was a big flop and nobody liked it. You are talking generally about it when one of them says ‘I believe nobody actually liked the design.’ Ouch, the design was your part of the project! Your sense of reasoning shuts down and your ego rises up. Your head gets heated and maybe even red, there seems to be the sound of waves in your ears and finally your hear yourself say with piercing voice: ‘Well, the text sounded like written by a pre-schooler!’ – an attack on the writer who had pinched your ego with his remark. Not a very clever retort, not impressive at all but drawing everyone’s attention on you and your ego!

Depending on the amount of ego that is involved in the matter, you will regret this reaction immediately or after some time. But you normally do, knowing that your ego won in that moment. It is embarrassing and doesn’t make you feel good at all. What to do?

If you notice such problems frequently – or just from time to time but want to avoid them in any way – I would recommend getting used to thinking before talking. Practice not replying to anything immediately, no matter what you are talking about. Take a second and then talk. In critical situations, this second can give you enough time to restart your logical thinking and stop your ego from blurting out something ridiculous which you only regret later. Often it is even alright if you don’t say anything – just smile and remain quiet. If that won’t do the trick, maybe take a sip of water until you have cooled down your mind and could think of an answer without involving your ego.

If somehow, this all did not help and in the spur of the moment your ego took overhand, try to take action as soon as possible for controlling the damage. In the example above, after it slipped from your mouth, just smile, say sorry and tell your colleague that you didn’t mean what you just said, that you were just stressing out about the problem and that you just had a problem accepting his direct criticism. Name the problem directly – the others will understand!

Try to keep your ego in check the next time – just to avoid unnecessary ‘ego panic reactions’.

Ego and Perfectionism – a dangerous Combination – 7 Dec 12

Yesterday I said that criticism is never well perceived by people with ego problems. It is obvious – any kind of criticism, be that with good intention or not, means that there is something wrong with who they are or what they have done. Their ego is not able to accept this and they will get angry and won’t change anything. Especially when this ego is paired with perfectionism, a person will have the biggest problems with even a small piece of criticism.

A perfectionist who does not have ego-problems may not have as much of a problem if someone points out a mistake in his work. It will still sting – because it means his work was not perfect – but he will go and change that detail to make the complete work as perfect as possible. In the end, he may even be thankful to the person who pointed it out because that made it possible for him to be perfect, at least in his own eyes.

The definition of perfect means that it has reached the highest level of being good. If something is called perfect, it means it could not have been better. A perfectionist tries to reach this level with his work. He will practice again and again until he reaches there or he will closely examine every piece of his work, correct it, modify it and go in detail to make sure it really is perfect. A small piece of imperfection will disturb him.

A regular perfectionist also knows that nobody is perfect and that perfection, although it is by definition the point where you reach the limit, actually has no limits. There is always something that could be better. You play the guitar perfectly but then there suddenly is a player who plays even better than you! You create a perfect piece of art but then you see another piece of art, just like yours, into which the artist added an element that could have improved your work, too! Perfection in itself has a contradiction: it is the limit, the best, but at the same time there is always something even better.

The perfectionist knows this and is caught in the conflict of wanting to be perfect while knowing that there always be someone or something a little bit more perfect than him.

When ego crawls into the mind of a perfectionist, the situation changes. Ego makes him believe that he is perfect. This is the point where this person becomes an explosive danger for his surroundings and especially to each person who dares criticizing or questioning any of his actions or results of his work.

In that case, the inner conflict of the perfectionist with the fear ‘oh, did I miss something?’ clashes the thought of the ego ‘This cannot be, I have thought it all through!’ and the result is a direct attack: ‘If you know it better, do it yourself the next time!’ or ‘Okay, I just destroy it all and then you can see how you want to do it!’ or something along those lines. The perfectionist will regret this later while the ego keeps on shouting in his head ‘I was right, I am perfect!’

For everyone who finds himself in that situation, I have one advice: control your ego. Whenever you hear someone criticize you and you feel the blood rushing to your head, remind yourself that this is the ego pumping up your blood pressure and making your ears ring. You don’t need to get that excited about it! Take a moment, consider what the other one is saying and then reply. If you are in mid-conversation and it would look funny to just remain silent while you calm yourself, simply excuse yourself for a moment. You don’t want to regret anything later, so think first.

Work on controlling your ego and know that nobody is perfect. Nobody expects you to be, either. Just be you.

Criticizing and taking Criticism in the Light of Ego – 6 Dec 12

Yesterday I wrote that it is not good to constantly criticize everything and everyone around – you will make others unhappy and yourself, too. There is however of course the question of positive and constructive criticism – when is it actually good to criticize or to be criticized? The answer sounds of course very simple: whenever your criticism helps. The action of only voicing such criticism that helps is however much more difficult!

The main aspect of this is your intention of saying something at all. If you are criticizing the other one simply because you criticize everything you see anyway, just like I explained yesterday, there is no way your criticism will be received positively. You did not even want it to help, you were searching for a mistake.

If your reason for saying something negative about somebody else’s work or behavior is genuinely only that you wanted to help, it will look very different. You see what the other one is doing and you had the wish to see something nice and something great. You want to praise but there is this small thing that disturbs your experience. You believe it would disturb the experience of others in the same way and that is the only reason why you really say something in the end – so that the other one can get praise and success in future.

The result of your criticism should usually be according to your intention – if you just want to nag, the other person won’t listen, won’t care and won’t change. If you honestly and politely suggest a change, the other one can be in the situation to accept it. I consciously write ‘can be’ – because there is always one more obstacle for positive criticism to actually work: the ego of the person criticized.

At this point I want to appeal to everyone to put their ego aside whenever they hear someone evaluate their work. Listen to the other person’s words and take your time to think about what he or she actually said and wanted to achieve with those words. Was the other one trying to help? Thank him or her and consider actually taking their advice. If it helps, it is great – but if you think it won’t, you don’t need to. You should however appreciate their wish to help and feel their support instead of getting all angry about them having the nerves to criticize a piece of your work! Take it easy, they wanted to help, you are of another opinion, it is fine. But maybe there is a piece of truth to what they say and you could do better next time.

What about the other case? Was the other person only pointing out the negative without any appreciation or wish to help? Well, even then, I would say you should thank the other one because if you get angry or upset, it won’t help either of you. Maybe, if you give a positive response, the other one will not react as negatively next time.

There is a right way to criticize and there is a right way to deal with criticism. Learn both of them, you will need them regularly!

Constant Criticism – a foolproof way to make yourself unhappy! – 5 Dec 12

Yesterday I mentioned that comparing your life constantly to the life of others will most probably make you unhappy. As usually you are the one that makes yourself unhappy, there are many other ways how you can achieve that, too. Another example is constant criticism. Practicing the art of criticizing everybody and everything else around you is a pretty sure method to reach unhappiness.

Constant criticism means that you see something and the first thing that will leave your mouth is not a praise for what you see but criticism. You meet someone and although you may even like the other one, you will mentally note all the points that you could criticize about him. Even if you get to appreciate something, for example a dish that your partner cooked, you will not say ‘Wonderful, just perfect!’ but instead something like ‘Yes, that is quite nice but you could have added some cinnamon!’ or ‘Great but don’t you think the salt is a bit too much?’

The worst thing about it is that it makes you a very negative person. Criticism becomes your habit, your all-time thought and makes it impossible for you to really enjoy the good things in life. You see something nice and you could really actually enjoy it but instead you investigate it and try to find anything that you can criticize. On the long run this will make you unable to enjoy anything because you are focused so much on the negative that it is just impossible to see anything positive.

Once you have reached this advanced state of being a criticizer, you will notice how people in your surrounding will find it difficult to be with you. It is not fun! Whatever they show you will be criticized. Whatever they say will be criticized. Never a good word coming out of your mouth without at least a tiny edge of criticism! Who would enjoy spending longer periods of time with you?

If you wanted to make yourself unhappy, you are now really getting close. You have reached the point where things happen nearly on their own – people don’t enjoy being with you, so they just don’t get in touch anymore. You get more and more lonely and are longing for company but know that you cannot enjoy with them either because nobody is perfect and nobody can escape your criticism. Unhappiness follows straight and its symptoms are physical and mental problems. Congratulations, you have succeeded in reaching complete unhappiness!

Now if you prefer going the other way instead and try to achieve happiness, I would suggest stopping your tongue before you voice a lot of criticism. If someone asks you for your honest opinion, check yourself before you reply: what are the positive things you can say? Are the negative things you are about to say really what you think or did you forcefully search for them? Stay positive and keep your criticism low – your chances of succeeding on the way to happiness increase!

Don’t embarrass your Partner in Public – Signs of Disharmony in Relationship – 30 Jan 12

I don’t know if you have ever been in this situation but probably everyone has experienced it at least once on some kind of social gathering, be that a party, a family meeting or just a get-together of friends: You all are talking and enjoying and there is one couple who seem to have a small fight with each other with each sentence one of them says. It is not an open argument but one of them always seems to either criticize the other one or to make fun of him. Not a good situation for those around, is it?

If you realize that you are in this situation, it is time for you to consider some improvement in your relationship. Nobody likes to be criticized and get embarrassed in front of others. Some partners however seem to be doing it intentionally. They make fun of a habit of the other one which is actually a very private matter for example. Or they ask ‘Why do you always do that?’ when everyone is around. That happens in front of children, family, friends and relatives. Would you have mentioned this topic in private, alone with your partner, there would not have been any issue – the problem is that you did it on purpose in front of everyone to embarrass the one about whose feelings you should care most.

Sometimes it comes to a stage where the partners don’t even find valid or important points to criticize anymore but start picking up every little sentence and every small action of the other one just to find a mistake in it and to either laugh about it or to criticize it.

If you notice this, it is a clear indicator for you that there is no harmony in your relation. You might have already noticed this before because you already take your fight out of the bedroom into the public. You actually show everybody that there is no harmony in your relationship.

Before you do this, you should however think about what it will bring you. Why do you do it? You are obviously in a situation that you cannot normally talk to your partner anymore. Do you think your partner will realize his mistakes and your relationship will improve? This is not the right way to improve your relation, it will not work! You will only bring more bitterness in between you.

Are you trying to get help from your friends or relatives? Let me tell you, that won’t work either in this way. You actually make fun not only of your partner but also of your relationship and everybody else feels awkward through your comments, too! What should everyone say now? Should they answer to your comment? But they won’t want to hurt or embarrass your partner, even if it seems to be your intention! Should they favour one of the two of you? No matter whether they are your friends or your partner’s or common friends, they won’t feel good in this situation!

The consequence is instead that your friends don’t want to meet you both together anymore. They feel unwell when you come together because there is no chance for a normal, peaceful conversation. They don’t know what to say because the answer always is some kind of unnecessary criticism, a nasty comment or a joke at the expense of the other one. So they would rather be only with one of you – it is just more peaceful!

If you are with a couple who is in harmony and love with each other however, you feel happy to see them together, to see their joy and to feel how happy they are. Why wouldn’t you want to bring your relationship to a point where people would love to be together with both of you?

I don’t mean to say that you should put on a mask and hide your feelings in front of other people. You don’t need to pretend that you are a great couple while you actually fight every day. You need to look at the root of your problems. Ignore all the little things that you say to the other one in front of others and go deeper. If both of you agree and really want to have a change, any problem can be solved!

A Day without Criticism – Help for a more positive Attitude – 19 Jan 12

In the last days I have written about criticism, how you can voice it and how you best take it. I also described people who always criticize others, even if there is no reason to and people who use their friendship as an excuse for constant criticism. What should you do however if you realize that you are one of these people who criticize too much?

It can happen that you realize this especially after having read the diary entries of the last days. You notice that you yourself are always the first one to say ‘But’. You realize that others are careful when they tell you about something because they are afraid of your immediate rejection. You notice their hesitation and you notice that you seek for something negative to say even if you see something that looks completely beautiful to you.

If you have realized that you are too negative and too used to criticizing others, it is already the first step to change. The next step you need to take is to vow not to criticize anybody and anything anymore. Of course criticism is not only negative, as I said before, but in order to change your habit you first need to fully come away from saying negative things. See the positive side, not the negative one.

The next time when someone shows you what they did or tells you of a new idea, don’t say the first thing that comes in your mind. Wait for a second and find something good to say about it. Praise the other one. Say something that shows your appreciation without any ‘but’. Spend a full day without criticism.

After one day, you will notice that it is already much easier not to be negative. Until now you always saw the glass as half empty and now, aware of what you are doing, you can change your glass, see it from the other side and say that it is half full. In the same items, things and questions which you previously criticized, you will suddenly see something beautiful.

This way of thinking will change your complete perception, your consciousness, nature and mind. On a day without criticism, feel inside yourself. Do you notice how calm you are on that day? It is also exhausting to permanently find something to criticize and then deal with the reactions, too.

A positive attitude from your side will also change your surroundings. If you have noticed before that people hesitate telling you about a new idea, you will now notice that they come to you because they want to hear your opinion – a positive but honest one.

Try it, see how it feels like and I can guarantee you that you won’t regret it!

A Friendship should not be an Excuse for constant Criticism – 17 Jan 12

Some days ago I mentioned that some people always offer some negative response and some criticism to whatever you do and whatever you say. I also said that you can, if you know the person, tell him or her that you have noticed the criticism. There is one very popular excuse that people give for criticizing you: I am your friend and I want to help you. That is why I am telling you about your mistake.

You have probably heard that sometime already. Someone starts talking to you about a subject, about something you did or said or maybe about a habit of yours. He or she heavily criticizes what you did and that mostly in a way that makes you feel bad about it. In the end of the lecture the other one looks at you seriously, puts a hand on your shoulder and says ‘I am telling you all of this honestly because I want to help you. I am your friend. Others will not have the courage to tell you anything negative, so I decided to speak openly to you!’

In general these sentences really sound nice and there is nothing wrong with them. If a friend really speaks out about a topic and makes you aware of something you could and should change, it is something good. The problem is however when you get this situation with the same person again and again. The situation is even stranger when you have the feeling that the other one is not really your friend at all. Then you know that this is just another way of wrapping constant criticism into nice words.

As I said before, criticizing can become a habit. Someone who has noticed that permanent criticism is not really appreciated by the surroundings may have found this way of saying something negative which makes the other one feel he cannot really protest. Would you reply and say ‘Listen, you are not really my friend and have no business criticizing this?’ No, you would most probably not.

The reality is however that this seemingly nice wrapping does not make constant criticism and negativity any better. People notice when others are negative. Someone who voices such words regularly will notice that his friends will distance themselves from him. They get afraid to share openly with what they feel. Even if they share something, they may hold back on other parts or not be fully honest. They know that the reaction will be criticism – wrapped in nice words. The result is that these people don’t have a lot of friends if seen on the long run.

Again, don’t understand me wrong, constructive criticism is something good and especially valuable if it comes from a friend who sees deeper into you than most others and may understand the reason for you acting as you do. Constant criticism or negativity however is never appreciated, even if it is said in seemingly nice words.

Don’t criticize only to oppose – show unconditional Appreciation – 13 Jan 12

As I have anyway been writing about criticism, there are a few more thoughts that I thought I can share with you. As I said, criticism is not a bad thing per se. It is actually very useful because it can help you develop yourself further and avoid mistakes in future. Constructive criticism, in which someone offers you another solution or an idea to do something better should always be appreciated. I do, I listen with an open ear when someone tells me ‘You know what, I think you could also do it like this…’. There are however instances when people criticize you and you know exactly that their criticism will not really help you any further. Why do you know this? Because they criticize things even if there is nothing to criticize.

Maybe you have heard people say something like ‘This is great but…’ and the next time ‘This is awesome but…’. The ‘but’ is usually followed by some piece of advice for a tiny, unimportant thing. It is never really anything important. They could have simply said ‘This is wonderful!’ but it seems as though they had to add some kind of criticism or advice.

I wonder why some people don’t show unconditional appreciation for something when they really like it. One reason could be that they want to prove that they are able to do corrections. This could be the consequence of an inferiority complex. They see something nice, which was done in a nice way, and want to show that they could do it even better.

There are other people who always criticize, too. They don’t even tell you that it is actually nice what you did but they just right away criticize. If you know them, you know that they are just like an opposition party to the ruling party in government. If you say black, they have to say white, if you say yes, they have to say no, no matter whether they actually agree with you or not. They cannot agree with you because they feel the need to oppose you. The reason is mostly a personal dislike of your person or one of your character traits.

The point is that you get to know about these two types of people relatively quickly. You may be disturbed the first few times that this happens but later you can already calculate their criticism into your equation and you won’t be disappointed or angry about it. Learn to ignore or accept it as it is.

If it is a friend of whom you think he has a too negative attitude and never gives you the appreciation you think you deserve, talk about it. Tell the other one about your feeling because it can become a nasty habit that the other one doesn’t even notice anymore.

If you are told or notice yourself that you have this habit, change it. Be more positive. Swallow unnecessary criticism and don’t try to be better than everyone else. Appreciate another person’s work honestly and don’t just oppose for the sake of opposing.

You will see that this will make your relations to others much easier and calmer.

Taking Criticism the right Way – 11 Jan 12

Day before yesterday I explained how you best voice your criticism if you actually want to change something. You avoid anything that could cause an argument. The good outcome depends however also on the person who is criticized. So what is the best way to take criticism?

In the first place, you need to listen calmly to what the other person has to say. Just as the other one should try expressing himself with as little emotions as possible, you should listen and try to stay calm. Too many emotions easily trigger an argument. Some people, especially perfectionists, tend to be immediately angry when they are being criticized. They always want to do everything just perfect and are under a lot of pressure which is mostly self-imposed. When someone now comes to criticize them, they are immediately in self-defense. Learn to listen to any kind of criticism calmly.

After listening and taking in the information, which was ideally just clearly to the point and presented matter-of-factly, you can take your time and consider whether it is true. You may really take your time for that, thank the other person for their opinion and consider in peace what you were just told. If you have any emotions about this criticism, this time can help you to get some distance from them and be honest with yourself. Is it true, maybe even only a little bit?

If you calmly and honestly thought about it and decided that the criticism was completely unjustified and that there was no truth in the words the other one said, you can explain the other one exactly that. Tell him why it is wrong what he thinks. Explain why you did something the way you did it. If you have thought about it, you may have even understood why the other one thought the way he did. If it was a misunderstanding or a wrong point of view, now it is up to you to explain it. You may even ask some further questions as to how the other one came up with the opinion that you had done something wrong.

The other possibility is that you notice that the other one is right. This may be hard to accept but if you came this far without getting into an argument or shouting out your emotions, you can also go on and accept a mistake or simply a better way of doing something. If you have understood the criticism and believe it to be right, thank the other one for telling you about it. And of course, make a change in future.

The main thing about accepting criticism is not to take things too personal and to see constructive criticism as something positive. We are always learning and changing for the better. If someone opens your eyes about a bad habit, an injustice from your side or a simple mistake, be happy about it! It means that in future you can take care of that and you won’t hurt or harm anybody or yourself anymore by it. Be ready to change yourself for the better!

I believe the following two lines of the great poet and writer Kabir make a beautiful summary of what I want to say:

„Nindak niyare rakhiye, Angan kuti chawai,
bin pani sabun bina, nirmal kare subhaiy“

Translated this means:

„Keep those who criticize you close to you, prepare a room for them in your courtyard,
They will clean your nature without water and without soap.”