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Trip To Thailand – The Aftermath

Every trip is making me better in some way. Every travel enrich me so much and every time I am back home I discover myself a better person in so many areas. I’ve already wrote extensively about that in Travel As A Personal Development Tool post series so today I’ll just get practical and tell you how I benefit form my trip to Thailand that you’ve read so much about in the last week.

Challenged Concepts

Exposing myself to a new culture, to a new country and to an uncontrolled flow of experiences seriously shook some of my already established concepts. In some cases those concepts enlarged, showing me that they can cover a lot more than I thought, and in other cases they become more profound revealing deep layers that I didn’t even thought possible to exist.

Size Does Matter

Bangkok is a huge city. My concept of size was seriously challenged during this trip. On the vertical dimension Bangkok is almost incontrollable. I was able to stay a week in the modern center of this city, a fast developing area with lots of skyscrappers and new buildings. Even smaller blocks – compared with the super stars – are already huge concrete compounds overwhelming your intention to understand them.

The overgrown vertical dimension is present only downtown, but on the horizontal dimension of Bangkok is even more impressive. After cruising on the Chao Phraya canals I can remember endless lines of houses, almost growing out of water, over and over again. Each house hides another house and that house makes room for another house. The huge river hosts an impressive horizontal layer of small but ceaseless buildings.

My understanding of “big” was deeply modified during this trip.

Beauty Is Everywhere

Is surprising how everything can be beautiful in such a crowded and hot city. The first impression is visual: the colors are strong, bold and contrastive. Everything, from the color of cars to the color of clothes, from the colors of sky to the colors of buildings is a continuous visual dance.

Even the concrete jungle holds gentle lines and integration with older architecture. Harmony is the second word you find after “huge” when you try to define the modern areas of Bangkok. The buddhist temples are also living proofs of an inner beauty ready to be expressed along with vibrations of respect and devotion. So far, the temples visited in Thailand are the most beautiful religious buildings I ever saw.

Of course, not only what was man made is beautiful, but also natural areas. Being so little out of the big city I can only guess, but I do know that other parts of Thailand, like Phuket island (which I intend to visit quite soon) are ready to confirm and enhance the natural beauty of this place.

Last, but not least, the beauty of women is something completely mind blowing. It’s so different than our western definition of beauty, yet so close to it. It’s a gentle mix of harmony, fragrance and shyness, a soft silhouette floating around you with a promise of something yet to be discovered. A silence created by no need of words, a sense of completeness and still the drive to find out more.

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Raw Food Primer

It seems that I’m not the only one interested in keeping a raw food habit around here. Not only the twitter reactions I got after publishing my last article on raw food, but even a comment on my blog seem to show quite an interest on this topic. So, I decided to write a post in which I’ll describe the basic requirements for starting a 30 days raw food challenge.

Please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist, I’m only sharing my personal experience here, which may or may not apply to your situation. If you are going to start a raw food diet in order to overcome a medical condition I highly recommend you to consult a doctor first. In this post I’m assuming that you are already a moderately healthy person, with a normal emotional balance who’s trying to improve something in his eating habits. This disclaimer in place, let’s get started.

Raw Food Goal

If you’re starting a raw food challenge please make your goal really clear. Not only in terms of duration, but also in terms of raw food / cooked food balance. I am on a 100% raw food diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have it the same way. Maybe you’ll want a 75% raw – 25% cooked diet, which may be a little easier in the beginning.

The milestones described in this post are for a 30 days challenge on a 100% raw food diet, so feel free to adjust them downward if you’re going to have only 20 days 100% raw, or 30 days on a 75/25 diet.

Having a clear raw food challenge goal is very important. You’ll know every moment how far or close you are from the finish. You will also know how to evaluate the changes.

This goal will include the initial assessment of your situation. This assessment contains a realistic image of your current eating habits (all meat, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, etc) and your current health condition, including your current weight. It will be important to re-evaluate your assessment after the challenge. Take the time to write this in a secure place, even if it will take you an hour or two, it will pay off well in the end.

Raw Food Gear

Eating raw doesn’t mean you don’t process your food. You just don’t cook your food by exposing it to high temperature. But you will cut it, blend it, mix it, whatever. And for that you will need some gear. It’s possible to make it without those modern appliances but it would be quite difficult.

You will need at least one big blender for making smoothies, and a mixer for chopping roots or sauces. I call blender the one with the knife inside the recipient, and mixer the one with the detachable knife and handle. Maybe they have different names in your culture, but I guess you got the idea. You can also use an all-in-one tool, as long as you can chop, blend and mix together fruits, water and vegetables. You will also need a juice maker, but that’s pretty straightforward.

You don’t need to have super professional tools, but keep in mind they will be used a lot so if you don’t have them yet, please buy on the higher price scale. It’s easy to get caught in a “this juicer is broken again, I won’t continue this silly raw food diet, coz I don’t have the tools” pattern, so make yourself a service and buy good stuff.

You will also need a lot of storage space. Eating raw means eating fresh and eating more. I had to bring in another refrigerator after I realized I won’t go back to cooked food, only to accommodate the produce for my own meals. I also conquered around 1 square meter from our kitchen space for storing fruits and gear.

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The Gratitude Experiment – Follow Up

A few weeks ago I started a gratitude experiment. I wanted to understand more about how gratitude really works for me. I read a lot about the force of this attitude of gratitude, and also noticed how it was praised in “The Secret” and other motivational works. So, I wanted to put it to test for myself. If you came here directly I suggest to read first the original post about gratitude, in order to grasp more details. If you don’t want to go there, feel free to read on.

The experiment has 2 areas: one personal and one public. The public area involved a Twitter hashtag, “”#gratitude” and a daily tweet about things I am grateful for, including that hashtag, of course. Also, there were some invitations to my twitter followers to join this experiment. A few days after starting the experiment I put together a page on my blog listing the last 20 tweets with the hashtag gratitude.

I plan to write more about the public area after the end of the experiment, which will come somewhere around February 10th, because I really want to involve more people and learn from their experience. So, if you want to join this and then share your experience with it, feel free to tweet once a day (or even more if you feel the need) and include a hashtag #gratitude in your tweet.

For now, I want to share something about the personal area. The personal part of this experiment is in fact just a little exercise of noting down each day at least 5 things for which I am grateful, in an open and honest way. And see what happens to me during this interval.

Initial Excitement

In the first 5-6 days, everything was smooth. I noted each evening the things I was grateful for and gave each day a rating from one to five stars. Sort of an “excellence” mark. I sometimes noted those things even before the clock alarm I set on my iPhone for this experiment. It felt nice.

But after the 6th or 7th days, it become a little difficult. I got caught in the daily routine and if I didn’t have that clock alarm I would surely miss some of my gratitude sessions. For the next 5-6 days I did the exercise really quick and only when the clock alarm reminded me.

And after this period, meaning in the last 3-4 days, it become even harder. I had to postpone noting those gratitude things several dozen minutes after the alarm clock, sometimes close to midnight. Right now, after I decided to write this blog post, the gratitude attitude finally resurfaced and I feel really good.

But what happened? Why it was so difficult? My guess is that is something to deal with the punishment / reward mechanism. We humans, have a strong tendency to follow this mechanism. In the beginning there was a good deal of direct reward from this activity. Knowing that I’m doing something interesting and new made me happy about. That was my little reward. Each evening when I noted the results I felt good. For 4-5 evenings in a row. But then the reward circuit was closed.

You know, the reward mechanism is an incremental one. It needs more and more. If you set up a reward for something you want to do, you’d better be prepared to raise the bet every now and then, otherwise your actions will stop sooner or later. This is how punishment and rewards works, they need more and more of each other in order to sustain the activity. So, after the initial excitement, and in absence of a direct reward, I had to rely on self-discipline in order to express my daily gratitude.

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The Making Of An Online Business – Promotion

This is the last article from the series The Making Of An Online Business. So far, we talked about starting your own business, your projects, your teams, money management and partnerships. Today, we’ll focus on the last crucial topic in making an online business, and that is about promotion.

If you came here directly I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the articles, and the summary by following the links below:

What Is Promotion?

Promotion is basically spreading the word about what you do. It’s not advertising. It’s not lobbying. It’s not SEO, or direct email. Promotion is the simple fact of letting the world knowing that you started to operate your own online business. It’s so simple that in 99% of situation gets overlooked. Just tell people that you started it.

Why it’s so important about that? The real stake here is not to grow your client base, although you will have to do that sooner or later, but the shift towards your new identity. You will be a different person that the person that didn’t had that business. You need to be in that persons shoes and you need to do that faster.

It’s also important to tell that to as many people as you can in order to reinforce your choice. In other words, to use the outside world as a reflection of your choice. There will be times of trouble and you will tend to go back. It’s human and it’s a sort of a necessary strength test at some point. But if you’ve already told the Universe that you are a new person, going back to the old one will be harder. Might sounds funny now, but it works, believe me.

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The Gratitude Experiment

The experiment is out and running, check out the new page listing the last 20 tweets tagged #gratitude on twitter.

It’s funny how a certain path we chose leads us to realms we never knew to exist. Or puts us on roads far more adventurous or enriching than we thought. In today’s post I’ll share one of those twisted yet so rewarding situations in which a certain path lead me to another, much deeper one.

The iPhone Situation

I can say in all truth that I’m using an iPhone even since before it was launched. One of the most read posts on my blog is about iPhone and GTD – total black belt productivity, a post featured on the official forums of David Allen company. That post was written weeks before the launch of the iPhone. What can I say: it’s a useful device which combines my needs for communication in one little tool.

But I use my iPhone for much more than communication. In a post about Law Of Attraction and Action I gently let you know that I exercised with the Law Of Attraction by using my iPhone. It was a very simple exercise: I set up reminders in the calendars with my goals and took time to read them and interiorize them. I kept this habit for several months and of course, it worked. I also used my iPhone for getting in touch with my Personal Mission Statement, another interesting exercise which I am still using.

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Social Networking Versus Real Life Relationships

We live as cells of a giant body: the society. We have rules to manage this body, rules we learn very young. The whole giant structure is sustained by an invisible yet so powerful web of rules about when, how and why we interact with each other. Relationships.

I think the first rules of real life relationships are learned around the age of 3. After that age we know how to act and react in order to integrate in the society at the very basic level. Of course, after that comes school, job and other social interaction games that we learn along the way. But the core is learned at a very young age and so we act almost unconsciously when it comes to real life relationships.

But the last 10 years of history created another layer of relationships, on top of the traditional way of interacting, a layer powered by the online revolution. Right now most of our relationships have a strong online component. Either we met somebody online, either we keep interacting with somebody exclusively online, fact is a larger part of our relationships pool is now over the web. World Wide Web.

My approach with what we call social networking was a little slower. Although I had my share of enthusiasm and hype toward every major social networking service, I haven’t had the time, nor the curiosity to go deeper. I only started to immerse myself deeply in this new web only several months ago. And what I found there really surprised me. In this post I’ll share with you the differences I found between social networking (as in digital social networking) and real life relationships.

Consistency

One of the first differences I noticed was the higher degree of consistency needed in  social networking. One must be very strict about his identity and message in order to gain some attention. If you present yourself with an image of a blogger, you should closely stick to this identity. If you chose to be a environmental activist, by all means, stick to it.

If your presence is not consistently reinforced your identity will weaken. The only thing by which you are known is what you say and do about yourself. That will also ignite what others are saying about you, but the first spark is always you. If you change course just a little bit, your identity will be skewed.

In the real life you don’t have to do that. As long as you correctly channel your change, people will know about you. For instance, if you change your job and announce all your friends, they’ll know you’re doing something different now, but it is still you. You don’t lose identity if you change your message. The real life rules are strong enough to keep your identity solid.

Social networking is still a fragile medium, the rules are to a minimum level. This is why this medium is still so vulnerable to various infectious factors, like identity theft. In a space with loose rules you have to be the strong factor, hence consistently push your identity until you create what you want.

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