What’s It Like To Be Colorblind?

5181903845_121bf85bc4Once I heard Tony Robbins do an interesting exercise with his audience. A few days later I tried it with several different groups too. Here’s how it goes: first, you look around and take notice of everything brown. Then you’re asked to close your eyes and remember everything green or blue. Usually it’s hard to remember what you weren’t paying attention to. You might think of a few green things but definitely not everything because when you looked around, all you fixed your eyes on was of the brown color.

There are three main conclusions I want to draw from this exercise.

1. How we see our life.

Some people live their life seeing only brown, grey and black colors around them. What’s even sadder, they constantly blame others for that or even the whole world for lacking bright colors.  It’s easy for such people to see the negative and the wrong, to notice failures, faults and problems. On the other hand, it’s hard for them to see the good in people. It’s terribly difficult to notice opportunities, potential and success.

I hope it’s not about you. I pray you learn to see the silver lining in every cloud. It might not be easy at times, but as soon as you open your eyes and choose to see the bright colors, you will see them.

2. How we live our life.

Another important point is that we hurry through our life and forget to notice the beauty. We fixate on the wrong things. We worship productivity and strive to be achievers of this world. Is that what life is all about? Unfortunately, there are so many people around us who spend their days working from 9 to 5 and hate their job. They get up every morning counting hours and days till the weekend or vacation.

Let me ask you something, do you remember the color of yesterday’s sunset? Or all you can remember is the screen of your computer, the colors of your TV or the glare of your smartphone?

     3. How thankful we are.

I once saw the video of a colorblind dad who received a birthday gift – the glasses that let him see colors. When he put them on and saw the color of his kids’ eyes for the first time he started crying. And I started crying with him. This man has never seen the sky in all its beauty. His world was different from mine, but suddenly everything changed. He saw what he had never seen before, and his heart was filled with gratitude and joy.

How often am I thankful for the ability to see the world in all its colors, the way it meant to be, the way it was created? My mom is a diabetic and has lost almost all her eye-sight. Her one eye is completely blind, and her other eye can only see 5%. And she is thankful for these 5%! She can at least see something, and she is incredibly thankful!

What can we do about it?

  • Let’s try to see the good in people even if they hurt and wronged us.
  • Let’s count blessings every day and see the opportunities in every challenge, trial or drawback.
  • Let’s slow down in the craziness of this world and enjoy the beauty of our life.
  • Let’s never take anything for granted and be thankful for every little thing.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me in the comments what is hardest for you – to see the good in people or situations, to stop and notice the beauty in our hectic world or to always be grateful? What’s most challenging for you?

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5 Ways A Second Language Boosts Your Creativity

Everybody knows how important it is to learn new languages. Your brain activity improves, the risk of getting dementia or Alzheimers decreases, new opportunities for career growth arise, traveling becomes easier and more fun. I could enumerate many more but we will focus on one crucial reason – creativity development. If we choose the skill that’s in the biggest demand in the world right now, creativity will definitely be the one.

So, what are the ways learning a second language can help you boost your creativity?

  1. Leave your comfort zone.

We all understand that new ideas arrive as soon as we start doing something unusual for us. I’m sure you heard phrases “think outside the box” and “get out of your comfort zone”. Why does our brain require new information and fresh circumstances for creative juices to start flowing? Well, tell me, do you like eating the same food every day for months? I can eat the same dish for a few days, but not more. Our creative brain also gets tired of the same food and will appreciate new challenges. Learning a new language will force you to leave your comfort zone. It’s something new and unusual, it’s challenging and fun!

     2. See the world differently.

If we want to develop creativity, it’s important to open our eyes to new things. When I started working on this skill, one of the tasks was to pay attention to the world around me. And that’s when an amazing thing happened – I started seeing details, noticing places that I have never seen before. Learning a second language teaches us to pay attention, discovers a totally new world for us. It gives us new eyes for structures that we’ve never used before in our native language.

     3. Learn about new cultures.

One of the ways to learn the language faster is to immerse yourself into the culture of your target language. Read about the traditions and the history of that particular nation. Travel to the countries where people speak the language you’re learning. Communicate with native speakers and try to learn about their culture as much as possible. All of this will not only help you master the language, but will also create new pathways in your brain and help develop creativity.

     4. Change the way you think.

When we’re in the process of learning a second language, we encounter a lot of new structures and words that make us think differently. I always encourage my students to start thinking in their target language. When they do that, it changes the way their brain works and the way they think. For our creativity to flourish we also need to learn how to think differently. Is it hard? I don’t think so. It’s just something we’re not used to.

     5. Use memory techniques.

Have you ever learnt new words in a second language? It can be pretty challenging. If you want to make this process easier and more fun, you will start using various memorisation techniques: finding associations, creating images, making up sentences and stories with them. All these and many other techniques involve our creative muscle. The more you use your creativity, the stronger it becomes. Just like with everything else – the more you practice, the better you get at it.

Let’s bring it all together. The conclusion is obvious: learning a new language will help you boost your creativity, develop your brain and achieve more in life. The next step is to decide what language to learn!

If you could learn any language in the world in three months, which language would you choose?

 

 

10 Ways to Feed Your Imagination

25744338382_d66a368856_kDo you think you have good imagination? I think you do. If you disagree, maybe, you just need to feed it more often. Give it some food every once in a while and it will pay you back with boosted creativity, unique ideas and spot on solutions.

I used to think I am not a creative person. Then several incredible books and videos changed my understanding of this notion. The problem was connected with my inability to use creative power and God-given imagination. Even though my rich imagination was always a source of entertainment for me, I didn’t connect it with creativity. It took me years to learn how to use it. What’s even more important, it took me too long to realize the huge value of our imagination. Its effect on our creative abilities, critical thinking, and decision making process can’t be overestimated.

So, let’s dive into 10 ways to feed our imagination.

1. Books

This is probably the most obvious one of all, that’s why it’s number one. When you read a book or listen to an audio-book, you can’t help but imagine what is going on. Your brain creates images and stores them in its supreme filing system. You will be able to retrieve those images when you need them.

First, I wanted to say, read fiction – it will feed your imagination more. However, there were lots of non-fiction, educational, spiritual and self-help books that gave me most useful ideas and inspired me incredibly.

2. Movies

Yes, I know. Movies and TV shows can be very addictive. They can throw you into the prison of wasting time, and the escape is not that easy. I’ve been in that prison and still get there once in a while. And nevertheless, watching movies and TV shows in moderation is good for us. Good quality films and serials are made by creative people who spent thousands of hours using their own imagination. I am sure we can learn from them, tap into their creativity and draw out a few ideas for ourselves.

3. Art

There is a variety of opportunities unfolding  in front of us when we think of art. You can be a spectator or a participant of art. Go to a dancing show or take dancing lessons. Attend a concert or learn how to play a musical instrument. Visit a museum or participate in a pottery master class. Musicals and plays, opera and architecture, exhibitions and galleries – all of this is the endless source of nourishment for our imagination.

4. Speeches

Have you heard of TED talks? In the last several years these short speeches have been my constant source of inspiration. Go to http://www.ted.com, and you will see: their mission is to spread ideas. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Do you have a favorite speaker? I have several and like to watch them on YouTube or TED regularly. There are two or three preachers whose sermons I especially enjoy, and who motivate me to grow spiritually. So, choose those speakers who inspire you the most. Find the way to watch their speeches on a regular basis and your imagination will never go hungry.

5. Educational events

Just like speeches and talk, educational events can boost our creativity and feed our brain new ideas. You can attend a conference, a seminar or a even a webinar. Go to a workshop,  a master class or participate in a convention. Usually such events give us an opportunity to meet new interesting people. You will hear speeches, learn new information, get a new experience and have a chance to interact with other creative individuals.

6. New Experiences

Several points on this list can be seen as new experiences. I am sure you are aware of our brain’s feature to develop connections between neurons when we learn something new. That’s how our intellectual abilities grow and our creativity flourishes. New researches show that our hippocampus even continues to create new cells into old age.

So, when will those new cells appear? The moment you experience something new. Another question: where can you get a new experience? Go to your friend’s party and meet new people. Take up a new hobby. Do something you have never done before. Try new food, travel to new places, jump with a parachute or go hiking. The sky is the limit.

7. Travel

I know I already mentioned travel before, but it’s so important that it deserves special attention. Seeing new countries, cities, and continents broadens our worldview, expands our horizons, develops our brain and, of course, feeds our imagination. Saint Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, it’s time for you to open this book and start reading one page after another.

8. Walks in the nature

Do you live in the city or in the country? Are you stuck at the office all day? How often do you get in touch with the nature? There is SO much it can teach us! God’s creation is magnificent! The beauty of it is mesmerizing! Take a walk in the park, go to the nearest river or lake. Look around and allow yourself to relax. Your brain craves that so much. So, give it what it wants, because, oh man, you do owe it.

9. Time with friends

I can say without a doubt that my friends have always been my inspiration and the biggest gift of all. Of course, you can brainstorm with your friends and deliberately work on generating ideas together. However, you can even just spend time with them, talk, laugh, cry, and have fun.

Surround yourself with creative people and constantly learn from them. And since everybody is creative, you can just spend quality time with your friends. Pick their brain, ask them questions, discuss the topics you’re both interested in. Your imagination will thank you later.

10. Daydreaming

And finally, my favorite one. Oh, daydreaming… I used to think it was a huge waste of time and a sign of weakness. And, of course, it can become pretty addictive and kill our productivity, but it can also be very useful. Daydreaming for our imagination is like weight lifting for our body. It builds our creative muscle. It helps us create images in our brain that never existed in reality. That’s pure imagination, my friends.

Sometimes I create whole movies in my head visualizing myself in various desired situations. What a treat it is sometimes to go into that imagined world. What are the benefits if that, you will ask? Lots of them. It’s a workout for my brain and for my imagination. It helps me live through situations that I will have to go through in reality. It gives me more confidence in the real world. It boosts my creativity and inspires me to pursue my goals and dreams!

A little piece of advice – don’t ever get sucked into your own daydreaming. Be reasonable.

Bringing it all together

There is an enormous number of ways to feed your imagination. Get on with it. Don’t underestimate the value of it for your life and your professional career. Good luck!

Happy Women’s Day!

It’s an International Women’s Day today. Did you know? The world is celebrating all women, not just mothers, and it’s a great thing. No offense to you, guys. Men are very important, but we’ve known that already, right? The majority of cultures in the world are patriarchal, so men established their influence and importance long time ago. Although, women started defending their rights only in the past few decades.

I wish all women to believe in their great potential, wonderful gifts and talents, abilities and strengths. I wish us all to unleash our creativity, use our potential and do our best to change this world for better. Steve Jobs said that only those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. I believe we can, ladies! Let’s do it!

I wish all men to appreciate their women, see their wonderfulness, and regularly tell them about it. Let her blossom! If your woman flourishes, your life will change, and your success will soar! I dare you to try.

7 Rules for Running In Cold Weather

7679767b-f6c7-4e0e-b557-8c8b2b5eba37If you’re interested in running, I bet you also like to do that in different places of the world and in the variety of weather. It makes it more exciting, challenging and unique. One of the best things about traveling is that you get to run in all these wonderful countries, cities and states that can be pretty diverse and absolutely fascinating!

Recently, I had a chance to travel from cold Ukraine to warm and sunny Arizona and then five days later to snowy Minnesota. It’s an incredible experience to be able to run in just a T-shirt and then almost right away to have to put on tons of cloths and endure minus 15 F which is minus 26 C.

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So, here are some tips for those who don’t want to wait for spring and are ready to run in cold weather. And when I say “cold”, I mean below zero whether in C or in F.

  1. First of all, make sure you don’t dress too warmly. A lot of people think that because it’s cold they have to put on warm jackets or a lot of sweaters underneath. Big mistake! You will start running and very soon it will be unbearable. You’ll get too hot and too uncomfortable.
  2. It’s better to put on layers, and nothing should be too warm. Pick a base layer, a fleece and a running jacket or another very light kind of jacket.
  3. If you’ve always been wearing tights for running, make sure you have special ones for winter or be ready to put on shorts underneath or on top of them. Another choice would be to put on sweat pants on top of your tights. When the temperature is below freezing, your legs might get too cold especially if the wind is strong.
  4. I assume everybody knows it’s important to wear gloves, although if the temperature is below -10 F, you might want to wear two pairs of gloves.
  5. The same goes for a hat. A few days ago I ran in only one hat and got extremely cold. Of course it was about -17 F or -28 C with windchill. It felt like my head was going to explode. So, don’t forget to put on two hats and two pairs of gloves.
  6. I always wear a buff around my neck and usually pull it up on my nose when running in a freezing cold weather. Although, a few days ago it was not enough anymore. I had to also put on a scarf which made quite a bit of a difference.
  7. A lot of times when it’s this cold, the sun rays are extremely bright. So, a pair of sunglasses would be a must. The combination of sun and snow have the potential to burn the surface of our eyes, causing a temporary but painful condition known as photokeratitis.

One more additional rule would be to put on extra lotion on your face before getting out of the door. Last week I made a mistake of forgetting to do that. The result was horrendous – my face got covered with red spots because of extremely cold wind and for two days I looked like I had just eaten tons of chocolate.

So, if you are not afraid of challenges and love to test your level of endurance, if you’re a strong personality ready to take it to another level, try this amazing experience of running in cold weather. It’s usually incredibly beautiful when it’s this cold! You will love it! And I am sure, you’ll feel really good about yourself afterwards.

Victory or Loss – How Can You Know?

What is a victory for you? Sometimes what we think is a win turns out to be a loss. And at the same time, what we consider a loss is actually a wonderful thing and should be perceived as a victory.

There were so many times in my life when something sad and painful led to incredible consequences. We can’t see the future, that’s why our normal reaction to losses is frustration. Although, if we exercise our ability to think a few steps ahead, we could spare ourselves a few moments of anxiety and disappointment.

Not every loss is a loss, and not every win is a win. They might look like that at first, but just wait and see.

Don’t be in a hurry to make conclusions about everything that happens in your life. Every cloud has a silver lining, and hope is a wonderful thing!

Value of Friendship

552367_4401288427013_1158976548_nI strongly believe that every one of my friends is a gift from God! Each relationship is unique, and I value and appreciate them greatly. Do I tell them about it? Not enough.

Think about your friends and try to remember when was the last time you told them how much you love and respect them, how much you value their friendship. Each of them brought something special into your life. It could be encouragement and trust, or criticism and brutal honesty. They might have been your source of inspiration or somebody you can always come to in the moment of pain. Even if this friend seems to always take from you and never give, think harder. I am sure you will find that their input is of a different kind – you learn how to be more generous and compassionate, you develop empathy and patience being in relationship with them. And believe me, these are the qualities that are of great value even in the business world right now.

Appreciate your friends and never doubt that each one of them enriches your existence. Don’t ever dare taking them for granted. Be grateful and go tell them that! These words might be of huge importance for them. And for you as well.