This year, I attended a visual branding course with creative director Sandra Chau whose focus is on minimalist aesthetics. In one session Sandra explained the concept of negative space in photography. Negative space (also called white space) is the uncluttered area in a picture around or next to the main subject of a photograph or picture. It is space that does not contain any visual information. Very often it is a white area, or a plain background, for example a simple wall.
This is no blog post about composition. But Sandra‘s explanations resonated with me beyond photography. I strongly feel that the concept of negative space can add value to our everyday lives, by showcasing and framing what should be the focus, and what is truly important. Here are some more thoughts on this.
Negative space is something that is not there - in a positive way. It is not...
He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
There are two ways in which we can use the word „enough“.
In one way, we use it when we are fed up with or tired of something or somebody. That is the kind of “enough” that I think of in connection with Trumpism, Corona or after having stuffed myself with too many mince pies at Christmas.
This is not the kind of „enough“ that I want to write about.
I want to focus on the other side of the coin, where „enough“ refers to sufficiency and fulfilment.
We live in a culture that incessantly strives for improvement and perfection. For example, this is particularly evident in the smart phone market, where gadgets are updated on an annual level, with an increase in performance, speed, storage volume and so on.
My phone is not the most advanced or expensive one on the market, but it lives up to its purpose and...
My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I’m not sure how you feel, but in the moment I fear that the world is turning faster and faster, and I cannot catch up. No matter how fast I run, I always run behind.
I thought that I had quit my hamster wheel a couple of years ago.
But there are many hamster wheels on different levels, some more obvious than the other. There is the job level and the family level, the health level or the society level. We currently are stuck in a Corona hamster wheel, feeling fed up, being confused and facing a plethora of contradicting information which makes it very difficult to plan for the future. Previous convictions do not hold true any more. Jobs are no longer secure. Friends and family members can‘t meet, and our sense of community is dwindling away.
Hi, are you a procrastinator? What do you procrastinate on right now?
Whatever it is, it probably makes you feel slightly guilty, but hey, you’re going to do it tomorrow, right? Or next week. Or whenever the deadline is.
I know that feeling. I am a procrastinator, too. I could have done my tax declaration in March, and now it’s July... so guess what I will be doing next weekend, rain or shine!
The tax declaration is one thing. Or handing in that research paper.
Basically everything that has a deadline - or an angry boss - behind it eventually gets done. But what about those things that don’t come with a deadline?
Things that we tend to postpone all the time, just because we are so stressed out and postponing them is so easy and seemingly without consequences. Important things such as spending time with our kids, having deep conversations with close friends, bringing the family together, moving to another place...
Low recognition, lack of engagement, high pressure work environments: according to the 2018 Manpower Study in Germany, half of all employees are unhappy with their work and on the lookout for a new job. But will a job change give you the satisfaction that you’re looking for? Often, after a couple of months at a new job, old desires reemerge, work starts feeling like a rut, colleagues and bosses irritate you and the unhappy cycle starts again. With a job change, you often only exchange one hamster wheel for another.
The common saying “just follow your passion” doesn’t quite cut it either. Passion alone won’t necessarily generate the desired income. Or once it does, it might suddenly not feel so fun anymore. If your escape from the rut is going to last, you have to start with an honest evaluation of your intentions. Uncover the true...
When I feel sorry for myself and toy with the idea of going back to a 9-5 full time job (knowing well that I will be unhappy with it in two years‘ time). When I have the diffuse sensation that I am stuck in my life. When my usual remedies against the blues – like a brisk walk, or a good book – do not seem to help any more.
On such days I feel as if I’m stuck in the fog on mount Rigi (one of the mountains surrounding Lucerne). Visibility of no more than 10 metres. Sense of balance uncomfortably disabled. Floating free in a muddy nothingness, without gravity, without orientation or control. My step is disheartened, my fantasy running wild – what if my next step leads into the abyss? What if the diffuse shadow over there turns out to be an eerie Yeti? What if the fog closes in for...
I had a full-time position in the finance sector and worked as an intercultural trainer in my free time. I commuted more than three hours every day by car and train. I spent my short evenings in the gym, at networking events, singing with my choir and trying to meet up with friends. On weekends I tried to do some more sports, spend time with my partner, cook something healthy and to maintain contact with my family in Germany. But instead of feeling energised by all my activities, I felt exhausted.
Just a normal life – or maybe not? It didn’t work out. I started burning out. At, first, I became aware of some physical manifestations. I noticed
One thing is for sure: we spur on the hamster wheel out of our own volition; even though we don’t like acknowledging that. It’s tempting to blame outside forces: the company, the colleagues, the partner, the family, the circumstances, the economy… But today, there’s no slave driver with a whip standing behind us, and we’re no longer subjects of an aristocratic despot. We live in a time and in a culture in which many options are open to us. We push our hamster wheel because we decided to do so at some stage, consciously or subconsciously. Our drivers have been internalized and our actions have become a habit.
What are the drivers for your hamster wheel?
Fear is a main driver.
Fear of failure, fear of missing out, fear of...
When was the last time you took a time-out to reflect on your life’s direction? Would you like to take stock of your current situation and refocus on the essential, but you just can’t find the time to do in the middle of your busy life?
You know that there is a lot of promise, of unrealized potential in you – your creativity, your compassion, your dreams. But you are stuck in the tunnel vision of the hamster wheel – a wheel in which you labor, rush around and burn yourself out. A wheel that is turning quicker and quicker but never reaches a destination.
The steps of the hamster wheel are manifold and individual. The common denominator is that all people who are treading...