Questions for a better life
I have set out a series of questions on this page dealing with depression and suicidality and provide the most important answers.
The questions about a new life are small questions but they are powerful. Their power only becomes apparent when you think about them. Not just for five minutes, no, for half a day or a whole day. Think deeply about them or form a question to think about in your daily meditation. This area will grow steadily. So it's worth coming back to.
How can I recognise depression?
Depression always shows up slightly differently in each person, in form and strength. But there are signs. Typical symptoms in varying combinations and degrees are
- feeling of worthlessness
- increased disinterest
- deep sadness
- a feeling of inner emptiness
- sleep disturbances
- strong fears
- panic attacks
- deep sadness
- inner emptiness
- increasing feelings of guilt
- increasing problems with concentration
- frequent rumination
- feeling of numbness
- loss of the ability to feel joy or sadness
- mood cannot be lightened by encouragement
- increased fatigue
- inhibition of drive
- decreasing self-confidence
- worry about the future
- tendency to hypochondria
- suicidal thoughts
- perceived meaninglessness of life
- reduced appetite
- extreme emotional reactions
- daily early awakening before the usual time - about one to two hours
- severe morning low
- inner restlessness
- morning low
- loss of appetite
- sudden weight gain or loss
- weak to no sexual interest
When do we speak of chronic depression?
We speak of chronic depression when the symptoms last for at least two years.
Depression often occurs once or in episodes. The intervals between such episodes can last a few weeks, months or even a few years.
Is depression curable?
Chronic depression can be managed well even after a long period of time. This requires intensive therapies and it can take a while to find the right treatment for you. Medication can also be very helpful.
I can say from my own experience that medication did not lead to zombie-like behaviour in my case. On the contrary, it saved my life.
How long does depression, or depressive disorders, last?
Depressive disorders or episodes usually last between four and eight weeks. Nevertheless, there can be big differences here too. Depression can come on suddenly and go away just as quickly. In other cases, it comes and settles in.
Anyone who has suffered from severe depression for many years and no longer feels it, after having had successful treatment, should always be aware that it can reappear at any time in the event of psychologically stressful changes.
Which doctor should I see for depression?
Are anti-depressants addictive?
Why does depression occur during and after pregnancy?
Many mothers struggle with a depressive episode after the birth of a child. This is called postnatal depression. It can last for several months. The reason for this is thought to be hormonal changes in the body and the radical change in the life situation, for example, less sleep due to the frequent waking, crying or breastfeeding of the newly born. The targeted administration of medication and appropriate psychotherapy are considered suitable treatment in such cases.
Does sport help against depression?
Exercise is indeed an important measure in the fight against mental moods and crises. The important thing is to do it regularly. The type of sport is irrelevant. From hiking to boxing, everything is possible. A sport that can be done in the fresh air is definitely helpful. In any case, the sport should be fun and not stressful.
Do I have to accept my depression?
Do I have to accept depression, suicidality and other nasty illnesses? Nope! I should take it seriously, and I should try everything to get rid of it. Acceptance is definitely good to become aware of the problem. But accepting and coming to terms with the illness is the worst way to go.
You are allowing the depression to settle in for good. You have more or less come to terms with it. You are paying attention to it and giving it the food it needs to continue to grow. Of course, it's easy to rest on your depression when you want to get some sympathy for it, because it's the only affection you can still feel. But everyone knows that it won't go away.
Pay attention to the ways that help you get out of the crisis. Why think of all the unfortunate people who didn't survive something instead of looking at those who did. There is not always luck involved. What is decisive is your non-acceptance of the illness.
Can anyone get rid of their depression?
My personal opinion is: Yes, definitely.
Getting out of depression and a suicidal crisis is not easy, but it is possible. I had a suicide attempt, my boyfriend took his own life, I had depression for decades and today I am so far free of all that and I can lead a normal and happy life again.
To get this far, you have to change your life completely, if necessary, and say goodbye to all the things that make you ill. If you have a shitty job or one with too much stress, change it. If you're in a terrible relationship, get rid of the old geezer or the girlfriend. If you are surrounded by people who get you down, then separate yourself from them. Separate yourself from everything that makes you unhappy and down.
This is possible - and your "but I can't" is only an excuse for your fear. If you have the courage to take the first step, you are already half healed. Those who continue to say that it is not possible to bake smaller bread rolls or to live alone do not feel a sufficient enough degree of suffering or do not want to change deep inside themselves because a known suffering is easier to bear than unknown well-being.
But it is important to be honest and unfortunately also to say that the course of an illness may make an escape no longer possible. This is especially true if you have been severely depressed for many years and have not had any treatment. My experience shows, to my greatest regret, that there are phases in which it is no longer possible to reach those affected. That's why it's important to pull the emergency cord immediately after a depression becomes known and to take countermeasures. Then healing is guaranteed in the vast majority of cases.
Are there warning signs of an impending suicide?
Suicide is not really predictable, but there are signs that can point to it. The whole thing is made more difficult by the fact that those affected trivialise suicidal statements or even deny them. My partner used to say, "Oh, I've had this since I was 16 and it's always gone well". A suicide is often also a sudden irrational act carried out without any warning. Signs are unfortunately not always recognised as serious intent.
Psychological signs can be:
-long-lasting sadness in connection with a lack of future prospects and deep hopelessness
-long-lasting depressive moods / crises
-aggressive and irritable behaviour in connection with anger
-unwillingness to talk
-the idea of suicide takes shape and you distance yourself less and less from the possibility that ...
-Neurotic behaviour, possibly also compulsive behaviour
-Those affected withdraw more and more from society and their circle of friends
-Increasing feelings of guilt and accompanying self-deprecation
-Affected persons perceive their inner world as a prison and negative.
-Risky behaviour, e.g. extremely aggressive driving. We know the question whether someone is tired of life to do this or that.
-Sentences such as "You'll soon be rid of me", "Nobody remembers me anyway", "I'm not worth anything anyway", "I'm only a burden to you anyway", etc. are heard more often.
-Neglect of mental health and physical appearance. Affected people take increasingly less care of themselves.
-Change in eating habits (not eating at all or binge eating)
-Concentration problems and decline in professional or academic performance
-Giving up hobbies
-Feeling of being paralysed and not being able to get off your arse for anything anymore
-Physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches and permanent fatigue increase.
-Praise, reprimand, compliments etc. no longer arrive
-Joyless when receiving gifts
-Affected persons start giving things away as a kind of passing things on or "sorting out".
-Breaking off friendships for no reason
-extreme mood swings, especially when an extreme high occurs after a severe depressive crisis
-increased interest in death, the afterlife, God
-low frustration tolerance
-high sensitivity to criticism
-stressful situations are subjectively felt to be much worse than they are when viewed objectively
-increasingly frequent and urgent suicidal thoughts
You should pay particular attention if:
-there have already been suicide attempts or extreme mental behaviour, such as self-harm, etc. in the past.
-there have been suicides or suicide attempts in the family.
-addictions play a role (alcohol, drugs, medication, gambling).
-traumatic experiences took place in childhood or in the past (e.g. violent parents or loss of an important person)
-Presence of financial worries, divorce, moving house, pressure to succeed, experiences of violence
-physical illnesses severely impair the quality of life
-there is increasing loneliness in old age
-other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, occur.
Unfortunately, there are two problematic factors in dealing with people who are suspected of suicidal tendencies:
1. the refusal to recognise a combination of symptoms as problematic and worthy of treatment.
2. people around belittle the person who openly worries and insinuates that they see ghosts.
If you have friends or relatives who you think are suicidal, offer them constant help, don't pressure them, but don't be put off. Make it clear that you are concerned and remember that a human life is more important than being degraded by those around. If a suicide does happen, it is important for your own mental health to know that you have done everything possible. What if you were right and did nothing because your friends said: "Oh, he or she will be fine. It's not that bad"?
If you observe some of the things listed above in yourself, then confide in a friend and seek treatment. It's better to spend a few hours with a psychologist, even if it wasn't serious, than to be dead in six months.
How can you move on after a suicide in the family?
Even if we do not know exactly how the great movement works in which our lives are involved, I do not think that there is a plan somewhere that punishes us and even if there were, it could not comfort and would be no more than a crying injustice. Do we live once? Do we live many times? Are we responsible for what happens to us over many lifetimes? Does the soul have its own plans and do what it has to do? Is a long healthy life a gift or a punishment because we have not yet reached the goal in life? Is early death a gift or a mercy because we have taken a step further in the development of our soul? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe everything is completely different, maybe we humans will never be able to understand it because we lack certain abilities to do so. We simply don't know and therefore have to accept our fate as it is. That is the first step to start a new life, to somehow recover and let the terrible wounds heal.
Don't ask yourself why, how come, for what reason and whether you could have prevented the suicide. You couldn't have. And there will be no answers to all the Why questions either. Suicide is the last symptom of various mental illnesses. I always compare it to organ failure in cancer. At some point the mind reaches a point where it fails, can no longer cope and also cannot grasp the implications and wants to be rescued. From my own experience I can only say that when I attempted suicide there was no form of free will. I was a puppet and could not interrupt what was happening.
In the post-suicide period, apart from grieving, the most important task is to accept death without questioning it further. It is simply not negotiable. What happens, happens. Without being reconciled with what happened, you will always be emotionally stuck in the past and you will not get any further. Your mistreated emotions will dictate your life unless you can rewrite history yourself. Therefore you have to build a new relationship with the deceased. You have to learn to live with the deceased again. Challenge again your everyday life together, separate and create space and you must be reconciled until each can go their own way which you will nevertheless go together. Sounds a bit abstract but if you imagine that the person is still there, just no longer has a body, completely new possibilities open up.
Be strong and don't let yourself fall into an emotional hole. It's difficult, I know. You need friends who are there for you. Accept the help that comes from people you never expected. Together you can contain the emotionally difficult moments.
What you are experiencing at the moment will not pass overnight. It is a process that you unfortunately have to go through. Grief, anger, helplessness, self-abandonment, not wanting to believe it and the eternal question of Why. For me it was really bad in the first six months and in the morning I didn't know whether I would survive the day or want to. There was no tomorrow and I experienced the present surrounded by terrible nightmares, alternating with panic attacks. There was no tomorrow. The prospect of a normal life was unthinkable and the possibility of ever falling in love again was almost absurd. This condition lasted for three years until last year, when I fell in love again, completely unexpectedly and without a plan. It didn't last, but at least I can do it again. What I want to say is that you have to give yourself time. A new partnership is not important right now and the question of whether you can ever love again is unimportant. You can - for sure. It will just feel different. First you have to find yourself again and have a secure footing in life. This life will be new because there will be a before and an after and nothing will be the same again. You will set new parameters and you will learn to deal with fears. Your horrible images and sad memories will slowly diminish but they will always be there. Your way of dealing with them will change one day. This goes hand in hand with acceptance and a new way of dealing with grief, which you first have to find for yourself. For some people this works quite well after six months, for others it takes years. For me it took three years and there are still areas that just don't work. I can't look at pictures of my boyfriend without bursting into tears. Each of us is different. Having other thoughts, looking for a distraction doesn't work at first either. But when you have gained a little more strength, it might help you to fulfill a long-awaited dream or, together with your wife, girlfriend, husband or friend, to work through the bucket list in your heart that these people have created for themselves. You could do this for them and thereby create a new connection between you. Of course, TREES of MEMORY helped me a lot. Creating a meaning in life changes whole worlds, creates new universes and suddenly you're jumping out of bed every morning because there's so much to do. But even that wouldn't have worked for weeks after my boyfriend died. I needed time for that too. Above all, I needed the strength to live, which grief and death had robbed me of. Both drained me and left me like an empty, howling shell. It takes months before things suddenly start to happen again, hardly noticeable, but at least a tiny bit of the morning appears, which I thought was dead and I crept along, carefully feeling my way.
Although I thought I was more or less finished with the matter after four years, writing my book - #psychischerkaeltet - showed me once again that there were still outstanding concerns that I could work through for the most part with my writing. It is important to find words for what hinders, stops, paralyses or even moves you forward. There is no alternative to being able to name the emotions that drive actions that are not good and lead you back to a dead end. Recognising all this is an important process. Hard and painful work that is worthwhile. Try intuitive writing. You will find a lot on the internet. Write for yourself alone. For no one else, just for yourself. It will help you. Write letters to the world beyond.
All this is an agonisingly slow process. If you accept it, the suffering will diminish a little bit from month to month, but there will still be days when the bad times of the past take you by surpirse and knock you out for a brief moment. That is also part of it. Then sit up, wait for the dizziness to pass and stagger on until you can walk safely again. Oh yes: and smack anyone who says: Straighten your crown and keep walking. Crowns on the head are a real hindrance. Have you ever seen the Queen riding or shopping with her huge crown on?
Forgive the people who now come to you with platitudes. If you haven't experienced suicide yourself, you can't understand and empathise with it. They want to help, mean well and say the wrong thing. They say they want to do you good and your mind screams at them: You can't. ..... But yes, they can. If they are just there, bear you up and take your hand, hold you in their arms or just listen. You can also tell them to just shut up or to hold you in their arms for ten minutes and let you cry or make you soup. Being there and persevering is the greatest help, but it is also a difficult task that many people run away from and do not realise what it does to the soul of the bereaved.
You have been given an incredibly difficult task with a suicide:
You have to find your way out, like in an Escape Room.
You will find your own solutions, which are often very unconventional without the questions that go with them. Nobody has to understand them as long as you feel them and can apply them in your favour. You will move forward step by step. Be patient. Listen to your inner voice and follow your feelings. Only one person knows the truth and the right path: you. Pain is part of it. Maybe it is a bit like the pain of childbirth, because at the end of time, you will step into the world as a new person with wounds, scars and experiences which you have to create for yourself.
How can you help suicidal people?
What can you do if you come across an acutely suicidal person?
Talk straight and direct to him or her. Ask: Do you want to take your own life? Do this calmly and be matter of fact. You don't have to be afraid that your question could provoke the suicide.
Usually it is a relief for a suicidal person to be able to talk to another person about the tormenting thoughts. However, a short conversation about it may not be enough. Is it a friend of yours? Then just stay the night. Offer to stay, cook and talk about everything.
But make it clear that you are not a therapist and cannot replace one. Therefore, professional help should be sought. Therefore, you should support the person in getting help. Do the exhausting work of phoning therapists and write to every psychotherapist within a radius of 50 km. You can also get emergency numbers from the clinics. Many of them can be found on the internet.
It is important that you also care for the person over a longer period of time. Show the other person that you are there for them. Take responsibility for the other person in an acute situation. Accompany him or her to the doctor or hospital. At night, this can be the psychiatric emergency unit, but also the medical emergency service.
The most important thing in cases of acute suicidal tendencies is that this person should not remain alone in the seemingly hopeless situation. Sometimes these people feel shame and guilt and do not want to confide in another person. Try to reduce this feeling.
If a person is in imminent danger of suicide and can no longer be reached in any way through conversation and is not willing to seek help together, the emergency doctor should be called in order to protect them.
Report the situation to the emergency doctor in detail and do not leave the person alone until the emergency doctor arrives. I remember a situation where I had to beg people to help and call the police because I heard several times in a row: But what if you are not right? No one, and there were quite a few, asked themselves the question, what if they are right? These people put the fear of embarrassing themselves above someone else's life. That still makes me mad as hell. In the end, the woman was found and even with the police I had to speak up and point out Trees of Memory until they finally sent a patrol car after agonisingly long minutes that felt like hours.
The most important thing in an acute emergency is to buy time. The desire to die is almost always a temporary condition. Even in difficult life situations, the courage to live often returns.
And for the helper it is important to know and accept that if you have done everything in your power, everything you could do at that moment based on your existing knowledge, and the person at risk still takes their own life, you must know that you did the best you could, and could not know that sometimes the best you could do will not be enough. You are not responsible for the consequences of an illness. especially if the person did not want to be helped.
Is it possible that you do not believe that the deceased is really dead?
The dead person comes back, that's just a bad joke.... I believed this for almost 12 months after my boyfriend took his own life. I was sure that at any moment the doorbell would ring or that he would jump out from behind the shelves in the supermarket and shout: "aha fooled you!".
I am not the only one. A lot of bereaved people tell me about it. I wasn't allowed to go to my boyfriend's funeral and I couldn't see him, but people who buried their loved one tell me that even three years later they were sure it was just a bad joke. Every time the doorbell rang, my heart stopped - somehow also with fear.
I read the messages on Whats App for months, scrolling up and down again and again, because I was sure that he would definitely be online again at some point.
Are depression and suicidality interdependent?
Depression and suicidality are closely linked. Studies show that 10% to 15% of all patients with severe depression die by suicide. Around 40% of those who have survived a suicide attempt will make further suicide attempts in the course of their lives, because the inhibition threshold has dropped significantly after the first attempt. I can only speak for myself, but in my mind suicide has actually lost its horror since I made an attempt and survived it through resuscitation. I wouldn't have any fears now, but I don't intend to let it get that far again and I very much hope that my new life will prevent me from doing so.
Between 40% and 70% of all depressed people report suicidal thoughts. That's how it started with me. Read the extract "Death as a Puppet Show", here on this website. When friends tell you about suicidal thoughts, you should be on high alert. They do NOT just go away, but become bigger, more powerful, more threatening, more deadly! If hopelessness and feelings of guilt are also reported, this person needs urgent help. If concrete plans are expressed it is 1 minute to 12!
If you have the feeling that someone is having suicidal thoughts, ask him or her about it and explain why. If you are turned away, reaffirm your support. Let the person know that you are there for him or her.
Psychological pain, such as self-harm and cutting yourself, is used to relieve psychological pain. But it is no guarantee that it will not go to extremes. In such cases, try to talk to the person affected. No accusations, no stupid sayings such as "it will pass". Take them seriously, let them talk and ask how you can help.
It is important not to take suicidal thoughts lightly. It is also not true to say that anyone who tells you about it won't do it anyway. The opposite is often true.
inspiring questions encourage change
How can you increase mindfulness?
The writer Marcel Proust said: "The real voyages of discovery consist not in getting to know new lands, but in seeing something with different eyes". And that is what mindfulness is all about. In everyday life we do things automatically that we don't pay attention to, such as brushing our teeth, tying our shoes or washing up. This is efficient, but also a waste of time, mentally speaking.
Instead, by performing such actions in a non-judgemental and conscious way, with full attention and mindfulness, you come a little closer to yourself, in a certain sense you are also meditating. In Buddhism, for example, people often eat in silence and the monks pay attention to the flavour, how the food feels in the mouth or how it tastes.
The senses help us to be consciously in the here and now. What does it smell like in the morning when you go to the train? What sounds do you hear in the park? How does the path feel under your feet?
It is not necessary to do this all day, but once in the morning, at noon and in the evening, mindful behaviour will bring you closer to yourself and reduce stress.
How can you improve mental health with little effort?
It's often the small steps that get us further. Big steps often fizzle out in the stress of
can you improve mental health with little effort?everyday life. You take it upon yourself to jog every day, to meditate or to eat less and smoke less, and before you know it, the day is over and you haven't done anything about it.
How about just calming down for two minutes. This is highly effective.
Sit down, close your eyes and count backwards from 20 to zero. Inhale and exhale with each count.
You will see that it will do you good. Just counting backwards does something to you. When you count from 1 to 20, it hypes you up. It's like "On your marks, get set, go". Counting from 20 to 0 calms your mind down. After that, just sit for a moment. You can do this several times a day, even before you go to sleep.
How can using appreciative language benefit me?
Our thoughts and our language are very closely connected. If you have a thunderstorm raging in your head, you will not be loving towards yourself and even less towards others. I know this well. Sometimes my temper gets the better of me when I'm angry and I say things that are not always beneficial. In such a case, you shouldn't react at first but wait a day. Then the world usually looks different. But I confess that I don't always succeed in doing that either.
However, if I find myself in a good situation and I'm doing well, I talk to the other person in a mindful and appreciative way. This not only creates a good atmosphere at the time, but you also remain a pleasant memory to the person you are talking to.
If you want to use your language more lovingly, try to avoid any form of "should and must" in conversation. Replace them with "want, can or may".
You can find lists of positive and negative words on the internet. If you build up and use your language in a friendly way, positive feelings will arise, for you as well as for the other person.
Sometimes we don't think about what we say and how we say it. Even a "No, I disagree with you" can lead to aggression from the other person. I have just experienced this. But if you don't address the other person with a "no", but a neutrally formulated "I had the experience that...... and therefore we are allowed to.... " then what you say fits in with your friendly face and resonates positively.
Just try it and you will see how your language will have a positive effect on your mind.
How can you simplify the way of life?
There is probably a vast amount of literature devoted to this topic. Some talk about lists, others about clear structures and others about 5-minute fun breaks in between.
It may all help, but I don't think much of it. Your life will only be simplified if you are willing to let go of everything that is unnecessary. When you admit to yourself that there are burdensome jobs, situations and people that stress you out and that you can let go of them without experiencing any real loss. Everyday life becomes easier when you stop chasing after what you have and focus on who you are. Simplification starts in the mind when you follow your gut feeling. If something feels heavy, then leave it alone. If it feels light, then do it. Follow only your gut feeling regardless of the arguments for or against. Don't believe me? Try it for a week. Every action, every decision, even shopping.... Take or do only what feels light. If you don't get the right gut feeling, don't do it.
Do you know your desires and needs?
The Greek philosopher Democritus said: "Happiness does not reside in possessions or in gold, the feeling of happiness is at home in the soul".
If he were not right, all the beautiful, rich and famous would be the happiest people in the world. But they too are plagued by depression, suicidal thoughts and doubts, just like many of us.
Do you know what is good for your soul? Do you know your real needs and desires? To answer this question, ask yourself if your desires are fuelled by fear or pleasure.
Do you go to the sports centre because you enjoy it or because your parents force you to? Do you do your job because you are afraid of being put out on the street or because you really enjoy it?
Check whether your goals really correspond to your innermost and unadorned self. Don't think about how you want to be, but allow yourself to be who you really are.
Who are you really?
Can role models do you any good?
"Being a role model does not mean being the best. It means making the best of people," and a further quote, from David Tatuljan, says that people who do not have role models can never become role models. People who don't have values will never be somebody. People who do not stand up for others end up standing alone. People who have no faith will perish in doubt. People who don't give respect will never be respected.
Everything you see in your role models is also in you. Sometimes more, sometimes less and yes, sometimes not at all, if you watch shows like Britian's Got Talent. Whether blessed with much or little talent, taking someone as a role model does something to you. It makes something of you. It is a way to experience inspiration for your own life. Role models can help you to develop your own potential, step by step. Or they can help you to discover and promote completely new areas of achievement.
You also know that we live in a world of opposites that cannot be without each other. Where there is light, there is also shadow. Where there are the greatest singers, there are also those who can never hit the right note. Sexy voice or not.
Have you ever thought that maybe the opposite of what you want is perfect for you?
Maybe you can't sing but you might have a talent for songwriting. Maybe you don't have the stamina to write a novel but you are a gifted short story writer. Have you ever written down the positive qualities of your role model? Do it, because it will tell you a lot about yourself!
A role model can also show you where the road is not going for you.
But a role model is often a morally valuable yardstick. How do you want to be? What do you want to become? What message can you convey?
A role model is usually living proof that you should persistently believe in yourself.
Follow your desires, question your dreams and dream them anew and differently, look at them from other perspectives. Adapt yourself to the reality of the moment. Be as you are in the here and now. Pretending and behaving as such, doesn't work in the long run and will cause you enormous damage. Just go your own way and one day maybe a child will say: I want to become like you.
Just be yourself. Be a role model.
Can having a meaning in life help us to lead a better, happier and more fulfilled life?
Walter Kohl advised me to read Victor Frankel's book "Yes to Life". I didn't know it at all. Frankel is an important psychologist, a Jew and a survivor of the worst concentration camps ever. At the time, he wrote down what he had observed and found that only those people who had real hope survived
No matter what happened, these people had never given up hope of seeing their families again, of being able to return to their homes and, when the war was over, of simply starting again. Hope alone became the meaning of life, or rather, the meaning of survival.
And then they were liberated and found that nothing was the same anymore. All their family members had been murdered, no country in the world would take them in, some Germans were still Nazis and there was nothing left of their belongings. All meaning was suddenly gone. Many former concentration camp prisoners did not survive this.
Others told themselves that no one should be murdered in vain. There had to be someone to re-found the family, to let it live on and to live life for the forgotten and to warn. Many of these people are no longer alive. But we should all listen to those who are. We cannot imagine the horrors they saw and experienced. We can really learn from these people.
Frankel became the founder of existential analysis and has written several books. He says that having a meaning in life is a huge advantage for mental health. Something you really long for and something that is worth getting up for every day and going on.
I have experienced this first hand. TREES of MEMORY has given me a meaning in life that I never had before. One that is worth fighting for. A meaning that will be there long after my time is over, even if it is only the trees that stand for hundreds of years and bear witness to what we have all pushed for and hopefully achieved.
Developing and having a meaning in life should be learned in school. Having a meaning also implies being happy. It is a very different kind of happiness to the short-lived happiness of lots of money, good food or a great holiday. It does something to you, deep inside. It keeps you from falling ill. It helps you to grow beyond yourself every day. That's what I feel every day.
How do I find the meaning of life?
We do not know in what great movement all our lives are involved and what great meaning lies behind the universe, whether God really exists or whether we have cosmic neighbours. We will not get answers to this question as long as aliens do not visit us.
Nevertheless, the search for a personal meaning in life is important and the definitive building block for a happy life. Sometimes you stumble upon a topic and immediately feel: this is mine, this is what I want to do. Unfortunately, this does not happen to everyone. Waiting for a personal meaning to emerge can make you ill.
But it lies in your hands. Shape your life's meaning according to your longings and needs. Become a diving instructor, breed blue poodles, build the biggest house in the world, search for the Amber Room (the lost Russian priceless piece of art) or found and manage a homeless shelter, everything is possible and legitimate. If your purpose is a tiny bit bigger than your own life and maybe even supports other people, then maybe something will last long beyond your life. The meaning of life is indeed to create your own meaning. Whether it is big or small is irrelevant. It has to make you happy and no one else!
How can you tell that you have been richly blessed?
Lao Tzu said that a rich person is one who knows that he has enough.
What do you have enough of? Is it money, is it housing, is it holidays, food or drink? Do you have enough free time or colleagues? Enough time to travel? Enough rest? Enough knowledge? Enough independence?
You see, there is a whole list of what you can have enough of or what you never have enough of.
After my suicide attempt and everything that followed, I realised that material goods would not have brought me any more wealth, or that no amount of money in the world would have improved my situation. What actually enriched my life were non-material things, such as my experiences. In the meantime, I have met many thousands of people on my wandering through Germany and it seemed to me that those who had the most were the unhappiest and those who had a little were willing to share and that what they experienced together made them a little bit happier. On my travels in Africa, as a 20 year old, I experienced that a full plate of food every day is a real luxury. After months in hospital, because of my depression, I really appreciate the fact that I am healthy now. The many great people I have met through my TREES of MEMORY project and who support me every day with their loving messages have become my wealth.
When I lie in my hammock on my hikes through Germany and watch the starry sky, I feel like the happiest person in the world, because I am grateful to have simply survived and to have found a new meaning in life.
In general, when I am part of nature and hike for days through forests and magnificent landscapes, there is no greater happiness.
This is only surpassed by some thoughts in meditation that give me a deep peace through insight or knowledge and just make me smile.
I didn't have all that before my suicide attempt. The only thing I am still missing is the one person with whom I would share everything.... but come time, come love. Being able to be patient has also become a little treasure box for me that keeps giving me gifts and rewards. That was also different in the past.
What reasons are there in your life that make you feel richly blessed? Have you ever thought about it?
How can art reflect your soul and do you good?
Art is not only a mirror of life, but also a reflection of our soul and much more than just a mundane painting, a simple song or some sculpture.
During my six-month stay in hospital, art therapy helped me a lot. Even right after the death of my partner, I often painted on wooden boards for more than 10 hours on two paintings measuring one metre in size until I was physically exhausted, without knowing what I was really doing. I simply let out what was inside me and usually surprised myself by the result. After that, I always felt much better.
I discovered painting for myself.
I have also written a song before but if I can't sing or compose and no one wants to sing what I feel, it is frustrating for me. But I know that the singer Kovac would be just the right person for it.
It doesn't matter if you can really paint or are a gifted lyricist or sculptor. The important thing is to put all your emotions into what you do and let it surprise you. If you need a little guidance, watch YouTube tutorials on how to paint or compose or whatever. It doesn't matter if it takes you forever to finish it. I've been working on a painting for weeks and haven't made any progress. But that also has to do with feelings that develop, change and suddenly want to come out in a completely different way.
Even if it sounds strange and unbelievable, if you sit down and just do it, you will see how it turns out. The important thing is that you don't judge yourself. It is not good or bad. It is simply what it is!
If you open your heart so that the message of the artwork can come out, or in the case of other people's art, touch you, it will inspire you for your life. It will help you to let go of emotions and at the same time keep them in your art.
How do you recognise good opportunities?
About 400 years before Christ the Greek orator Demosthenes said that the starting point for the greatest undertakings lies in barely perceptible opportunities.
A key approach for yourself in mindfulness is the ability to recognise when life suddenly reveals an idea or a task. It doesn't come in the post and the universe writes a letter: "Dear Mr Mario, please do this and that tomorrow and be somewhere at 2pm".
No, when suddenly such a small clue appears, for me always emotional, which unfortunately I don't always recognise either, then I feel it. My intuition cries out and I immediately get a positive gut feeling. When that happens, I know that something is happening and that I should look or listen again. Then I feel that the idea I just had is spot on. I then check it again and ask myself if it feels light or heavy. If it feels light, everything is good and I can do it.
So far I have always been right. Sometimes there are arguments against it, but all our minds are limited. What is supposed to be good for us is far from perfect for our soul and therefore our health.
There is a connection between the brain, heart and gut feeling. This connection is mostly lost because we only listen to the mind. You can learn intuition again at any time. Just ask yourself with every decision whether it feels light or heavy and consistently listen to the voice from your gut. Just try it for a few days at a time. No matter if you're going shopping, choosing a film or signing the contract for a flat. How does it feel? Light or heavy?
How can you develop your creativity in everyday life?
Every human being is a creative being. We are all capable of being creative and creating something completely new. Everyone has had a new and original idea. Many ask themselves, why isn't there actually this or that? People have good or bad experiences, become victims of misfortune and they develop something completely new out of their own strength
That's what happened to me when I started the TREES of MEMORY project.
Being creative does not always mean wanting to create the world anew. It can also be done on a small scale, for example when cooking or baking, when writing texts and stories, in garden design, when making music, philosophising, painting and countless other creative processes.
Your creativity will always explode when you find something you enjoy enormously. But even things that annoy you can be a trigger for creativity. Never let anyone tell you that this or that won't work because at some point someone always comes along who just does it.
Just test yourself to see what works and what doesn't work. Go beyond your limits. Failures are small steps towards success. That's how you learn. Some people always think that failure is something very bad. But people who have never failed have never exceeded their limits. Failure makes you smart, takes you forward and gives rise to new ideas.
When you start trying out your creativity, you will reconnect with your inner creative power and with your personal and unique genius.
Each one of us is unique, including you. That is why you can always, if you want to, create something unprecedented.
How do I recognise that I am something special?
You are special because you exist only once in the world. Even twins differ in their thinking, in their character and in everything that makes them special as human beings.
Discover your own individuality by exploring your talents, trying things out or simply trying things you think you can't do.
I never thought that I would become a TV journalist, the way my grades were at school. By chance, I ended up at a TV station and suddenly discovered a talent I didn't know I had within me.
Study yourself, discover new facts about yourself which set you apart from others. Don't chase the one-size-fits-all look and try not to be like everyone else. That will make you ill because no one will ever be like everyone else and there is always someone better.
Reflecting on yourself and appreciating who you are, how you look, what you can do and what you can't do is what makes you special. Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet and philosopher once said that what lies behind us and before us is nothing compared to what lies within us.
If you only knew what incredible surprises are hidden in the stillness within yourself, waiting to be brought to light. The best thing is to start searching for yourself today.
How can you consciously decide?
As simple and unsatisfying as the answer may be: By simply doing it.
Every decision you take makes your life go in a different direction. A decision, whether big or small, releases energies. They keep life flowing, as they say.
If you put off a decision, then you are at a crossroads and cannot move forward. You block yourself. If things go badly, a storm tide comes and destroys the road behind the crossroads and the chance is lost. That's why it's important to keep your life energy going and that can also be done by making decisions consciously.
This also enables you to stand behind the decisions, that a good feeling builds up and you can move on with ease. Decisions that have been made with discomfort and unconsciously, i.e. sloppily and just like that, burden you, make you ill and soon turn out to be wrong decisions.
Your subconscious will support you in all mindful decisions. Yes, you can even choose to be in a good mood instead of burdening others with your bad mood and thereby creating bad energies and atmospheres.
If you cannot decide because every option is equally good or equally bad, then listen to your intuition. Listen to your feeling. Which option feels light and which feels heavy? Always follow the lightness.
If both feel equally light or equally heavy, if each option is equally advantageous or equally bad, then just flip a coin and let fate decide. I used to carry a dice in my pocket and the six decided the paths I took.
How can I create my daily dose of happiness?
When I think of great happiness, I usually have the image in my mind of a million in the lottery or a marriage to the right person. But let's be honest. If I concentrate on that, I'll probably be very unhappy in a few weeks. Unfortunately, that's what many of us do. We hope for great happiness and overlook the many daily moments of happiness that ensure we get through bad days reasonably well.
For me, such moments of happiness are when I lie in my hammock in the evening and look up at the starry sky. Also when my dog Tyrion lies deeply relaxed on his back in the grass and daydreams, it becomes a moment of happiness because I feel how much he trusts me and how well he is doing on our hiking. The scoop of ice cream is also a moment of happiness that I like to enjoy in the blazing sun. Sitting in the grass and watching a ladybird run over my arm is also a moment of happiness. Moments of happiness for me are also the many encounters with people who tell me about their misfortune and let me share in their lives. And although the occasion is a sad one, every single tree which is planted for Trees of Memory is a great moment of happiness. I could list a whole series of them.
However, it is important for me to say at this point that you can create moments of happiness. You are not forced to sit unhappily on the couch or to plod along haplessly during a stressful day. For example, you could take a three-minute break and listen to your favourite song with your eyes closed. You could let a sinfully expensive piece of chocolate melt in your mouth and indulge in the taste for a few minutes. When I have fragrant flowers in a vase and I walk past them, I keep sticking my nose into the bouquet because it just smells so great. When I'm in love, I think of a great situation with my partner and when I need to do something really good for myself, I just cook myself something delicious. A small moment of happiness is also giving a homeless person a euro without being asked, because the smile really warms my heart.
Write on a card a moment of happiness that you can easily create yourself. Whenever you think you could use a little happiness, pick a card and give yourself a little happiness boost by doing what it says. You are not only the forger of your life, but also of your own happiness.
Does it make sense to give yourself a present?
A French writer in the 16th century once said that the greatest gift is the ability to recognise the true value of things.
Is the value really in the price or in the motivation with which I give myself a present? Three years ago, I bought an outdoor wristwatch for 114 euros for my birthday. That was all the money I had. Since then it has accompanied me day and night, works perfectly and still looks like new despite my outdoor life. And that is what makes me most happy about this present. That feeling of having something that won't let me down and that still pleases me three years later. A Rolex on my wrist would only worry me. 30,000 euros and a scratch on it? Or leave the watch in the shower at the next campsite?
The motivation behind the purchase was only to a very small extent due to my birthday. The predominant reason was that I wanted to do something good for myself. And that is something we should all give ourselves every day. Me too.
Doing something good for yourself doesn't have to involve a purchase. Simply sleeping an extra hour, having a big breakfast together with your partner or treating yourself to a shave at the barber's on your way to work can be a nice present.
For me, on my wanderings, a present is also just sitting down and drinking a cold beer. Or taking the liberty of responding to a kind invitation and accepting it, even if it upsets my plans. I can also give myself a present of not hiking and reading a good book instead.
No matter what comes to mind, big or small, expensive or free, simple or special, complex or easy, you can give yourself anything you feel like and you should do it, once a day.
Why should you do it? Because you are worth it.
Those who suffer from depression often feel worthless because they base their value on the feedback they receive from others. But these others do not know your value because they have never walked in your shoes. However, you know very well what you have achieved and overcome and how well you have mastered it all. Therefore, you should give yourself a present and give yourself a little pleasure whenever possible.
How do you recognise a talent?
What comes easily to me, what gives me pleasure, how do I recognise a talent?
When I started with Trees of Memory and gave the first speeches at the planting of a tree, someone just said that I must also have a talent for writing and giving funeral speeches. At the time I thought that was absurd and didn't want to get involved because I didn't want to have an additional topic of mourning. But the idea took hold and one day I gave it a try. In the meantime, it has become my winter job, which gives me a lot of pleasure.
In 2006, when I was doing further training to become an online editor at the Academy of Journalism, I had to take over from a very incompetent lecturer when it came to producing TV features, which I had been doing for more than 15 years. As a result, the academy management thought I was quite good at it and I was appointed as a lecturer straight after my training. That turned into a permanent job at four different universities for almost 10 years. I would never have believed earlier in life that I would be able to do this, that I would like it and that it would give me so much pleasure.
In both cases it was outsiders who came up to me and told me what they saw in me. It's worth listening to complete strangers because they have an unbiased view and perceive something completely different from the people who know us.
You can also reflect on what gave you a lot of pleasure as a child and derive a talent from that. What feels light in your current life and what causes more of a stomachache? If you discover a possible talent, you can ask yourself how you can develop it, adapt it or adopt parts of it for yourself? Following your talent and doing something that comes easily to you and makes you happy will be crowned with success. It will also be extremely good for your mental health.
You just have to dare. Unfortunately, that's where it all too often fails. The first step requires courage. Everything else will come on its own. There is a great treasure waiting to be found within you and this treasure is the key to a fulfilled and happy life. Your gifts and talents give you the clue where to look. Sometimes the clues also come from outside, from people who have confidence in you and don't want to keep you down.
There is no such thing as "that's not possible" because it is only a matter of time until someone overcomes it and simply does it. That could be you.
What do I want to let go of or what can I let go of?
We don't usually ask ourselves what we could let go of because we are all conditioned to want to keep our possessions. However, the more possessions we have, the more burdens we accumulate which make our lives difficult.
Letting go doesn't just refer to material possessions, but also to mental baggage which makes our lives much harder than any old storage cupboard.
Before I started Trees of Memory I gave away and sold everything I owned. I carried 14 large suitcases full of clothes to the homeless shelter, plus 3 bags of 40 pairs of shoes. I gave away all the souvenirs I had collected over the years to friends and the works of art on the walls I had to sell off at knock down prices because I couldn't get rid of it otherwise. Even a hand-woven carpet, worth several thousand euros, I had to give away in the end for 100 euros.
At first, despite the great goal I had, it was really hard and not infrequently tears flowed, because it was so hard for me to let go of everything and end up with nothing. But with each piece that went, it became easier in my heart. After 50% of the things were gone, the desire to get rid of all the things as quickly as possible grew. In the end, I just put boxes full of kitchen utensils on the street, where collectors really fought over them. Nobody wanted to buy anything from me, but on the street they fought over the best pieces. Absurd!
By letting go of my possessions a mental lightness appeared, which made it easier and easier for me. Like old stuff from the basement, old memories, fears or worries surfaced and I realised that I can just let go of those too because I no longer had any attachment to them. Other thoughts, which kept coming back and going round and round in my mind, I couldn't get rid of so easily, but by devoting myself to them in meditation with full concentration, I was able to let them go after a while. This process can be practiced.
Today, three years later, it is still the case that everything I have to buy no longer pleases me, but rather burdens me. The things I buy no longer have any value and are not designer items. I only buy with the feeling that I can throw it into the rubbish tomorrow with a clear conscience.
I also try to avoid new mental attachments and give them no more room to take hold. This works in 90 percent of all cases.
Have you ever heard the beautiful sentence that you should let go of what you love? If it comes back to you, you can keep it forever. At the beginning of this year I received an e-mail from the woman who took the carpet from me. She wrote that it had always belonged to me and that she only ever saw herself as a guardian of it and that she would like to give it back to me. Now it is in my winter room in front of the bed.
There is a movement in America to reduce personal possessions to 33 things. Women are reducing their wardrobe to 33 items of clothing, etc. The experiences they are having are really great. Digital nomads reduce everything to the capacity of a rucksack. With that, you can just go whenever you want. What I still carry around with Trees of Memory is still far too much. I don't need it all. When it was less and I only had one rucksack, I was very often treated on the street like a homeless person. Now with my high-tech vehicle, I suddenly get the attention it needs. But this is also a bad sign in our society. I have to come along with the Hiking-Bugatti so that people will listen to me. I am defined by some by "having" and "being" is subordinate to that.
Having doesn't define me and having doesn't make you a better person either.
What can you let go of? Just try to give this or that away to friends and acquaintances and feel what it does to you.
How can you increase the joy of life?
Confucius once said that joy is everywhere. You just have to discover it. How right he was. But I also know the times, after the death of my partner, when I could not discover a glimmer of joy. Everything was black as night and every feeling was dead. No joke, no smile, no loving embrace could trigger joy in me. The sadness was simply too great.
The joy came back when I was actively doing things that had always brought me joy. When I went hiking for the first time again and the birds were singing in the forest, I sat on a bench and cried for joy and also partly because of the sadness. Most of all, I was happy to feel something again. Later that day I bought some flowers and put them in my room. This also triggered joy in me. At some point I also listened to music again and started to cook something good for myself while dancing.
No matter how bad things are, try to force yourself to do something that used to bring you joy. You will see that it will touch you again, even if not immediately. Do not keep yourself in a false low, because the pity of those around you will not bring you joy. Be aware that it is always about you and therefore everything is allowed.
You have earned the joy of life, no matter what.
What is really important to you at this moment?
Buddha says that it is your task to find an activity that suits you and to devote yourself to it with all your heart. For me, such an activity is everything that has to do with Trees of Memory. This includes hiking, planting Trees of Memory, talking to people about depression and suicide, or even my book "Mental Health Book: How I am Dealing with Depression".
You also surely know situations in which you want to do a thousand things and while you are working through them, you don't even have a chance to look at whether it is important to you. Many everyday tasks are also more of a must and not really liked. We think it is a must, but actually we don't always have to.
So that you can take the time for the things that are of high importance, you should find out for yourself what is relevant and what is not. Is it worth spending a lot of time on something if in two weeks no one will be talking about it anymore? Does the activity still have a high significance for the coming year? Do other people or tasks depend on the result of your work and what depends on it? How do you feel about the implementation of your tasks? Do you feel light or does it rumble in your gut and a feeling of heaviness spreads?
Which of your tasks can you leave out altogether upon closer examination? What can be postponed until later? What is important to you and what less important ?
Once you have clarified this for yourself, you can stop and relax and devote yourself to the things that are important to you, that mean something to you. This not only leads to a certain ease but also automatically improves the outcome.
What feelings are there in you that want to be felt right now?
Every one of us has had that moment when we listen to a certain song, knowing that it will make us cry. Or we dig out an old letter and read it laughing, with our hearts skipping a beat. Or that moment when we take the hand of our friend and quietly feel the other person, consciously letting the love tingle in our fingers.
Every feeling is important and it always has a message. That is why we look for such moments in which we feel and accept emotions affirmatively. It just feels good to have a good cry or to get the smitten feeling again.
Attentive feeling can be learned and it doesn't hurt to consciously pay attention to it, because these are important parameters in terms of mindfulness. Emotions can tell you how you are feeling ahead of time.
To learn this, start with body sensations. Are you hungry or thirsty? Are you warm or cold? Are you tingling or itching? How does it feel? Try to describe it. What does it do to you? Is the itch annoying or just interesting? Do you feel it a lot or just a little? Do you mind it or can it stay? Does it come in intervals or is it a permanent condition? What triggers it?
If you find answers to such questions easier over time, you will be able to perceive your feelings better. Keep the principle of not judging anything. Feelings are simple. No more, no less. They are not good or bad. They are. You simply perceive what is. Nothing more.
This attitude helps you to let go of negative feelings over time. The first step in letting go is always acceptance and only then can you send the emotions away. Imagine you have to move a chair that is in your way. First you have to acknowledge that there is a chair. Only then can you hold it and push it away. If you didn't acknowledge and accept the chair, you would just walk on and trip over it. It is the same with emotions.
There is a lot of light and clarity hidden in your feelings. Looking at them helps you to discover them.
Where have you ever felt really good?
There are moments in life when you felt really good. For example, the first time I really fell in love and it was reciprocated, I danced and sang with joy for days. When I sailed through the Lemeyer Channel in Antarctica in a sailboat, the moment was of such profound beauty and peace that this image will still accompany me on my deathbed.
Such memories are like a treasure in a chest that we guard. Every time we remember it, the emotions of that time come up again. These emotions also help us make decisions. What is interesting is that our brain makes no distinction between whether the memory is 10 years old when it feels that emotion or whether something is happening in the present moment that triggers the emotion.
You can create a moment of happiness for yourself every day by calling to mind a great memory for a moment. Close your eyes and feel your way into it, let yourself feel good. Remember all the details? What did you feel, hear, smell, touch, taste? Did you hear voices, sounds, noises, animals or just the rustling in the wind?
Don't you believe me that this can do you good? Then just close your eyes and think about the most beautiful moment of your life so far.
Does it make sense to try something new?
The inventor Alexander Graham Bell said: "Don't always follow the path that leads where others have gone before". If no one followed this advice, there would not have been a single invention in the past millennia.
Unfortunately, we are all creatures of habit. We walk the same way to work every day, we always buy the same things and at our local pub we also only eat what we know. Habits inspire our comfort and give us a feeling of security. That gets boring quickly - at least for me.
It really makes a difference to try a new way. Why not buy a different kind of strawberry jam or pasta every time you go shopping? Why not buy a different newspaper and let life show you new incentives? You can't find the better way by sticking with the old ones.
The unusual, the new and the surprising will bring you new incentives, promote your creativity and you will be served plenty of life experience and knowledge without having to make any effort. All you have to do is walk this one path in the forest that will change your life.
What do you like most about yourself?
We all want to be loved and respected. But the old saying, "As within, so without", prevents this return of love and appreciation. If you feel like shit about yourself and think that there is nothing great about you, then nothing can come back.
You feel the same way when you go out and want to pick someone up. If you feel like you're the hottest thing on the dance floor, then you'll find someone who sees you the same way and flirts with you. However, if you think you are the ugly duckling, then no one will see you.
Therefore, you should realise that self-acceptance and self-love is not a bad thing, but the beginning of a lot of positive things that come back.
I don't like everything about myself now either and have declared war on my belly. But take a look in the mirror and become aware of what you really like. What do you find great or unique about yourself? Your long eyelashes, the special green of your eyes, the funny freckle on your nose or the scar next to your eye that makes you so sexy? If you practise this, you will discover more and more unique things about yourself and become your own friend with whom you can go out and have a lot of fun with.
Have you smiled today?
The Roman philosopher Cicero said that "he who begins the day with a smile has already won it". And that's not silly talk.
Have you ever observed how people smile at you and what effect you have when you smile at someone? You do it when you're flirting, so why not at work or at the bakery?
Has anyone given you a smile today or have you smiled at someone?
A smile stimulates actual positive emotions and leads to the release of the happy hormones endorphins. You don't have to run around everywhere like a grinning cat all day, but just try to use a smile consciously.
Just like that, for no great reason. Please smile now!
Do you really want to make this thought you are now thinking your truth?
The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said: "The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts".
This statement can be added to. Your thoughts will turn into words and into deeds whose origin does not always correspond to the truth. When I collapsed with severe depression a few years ago and ended up in hospital, my thoughts had nothing to do with reality. I suffered from terrible thoughts going round and round my head which gradually took on a life of their own. At some point it was hardly possible to distinguish reality from the misguided thoughts. Especially also because our emotions automatically generate thoughts that truly have nothing to do with reality anymore, even though the truth felt may feel real.
Therefore, it is important to realise that thinking has an influence on our emotional worlds. It is worth taking a step aside every now and then and looking at your own thoughts. Ask yourself if they really correspond to reality. Did it really happen that way? Is it possible that only your perspective gave rise to these thoughts and emotions and that someone else, from a different perspective, developed completely different feelings and thought patterns? What happens when you acknowledge your thoughts? Is the individual truth that develops good for you or does it feel bad?
If a thought really doesn't feel good, then seriously ask yourself if it really reflects what is happening or has been distorted by some circumstance. Let me give you an example. You see your new girl friend smiling at a man across the street, talking to him for a long time and very intimately, and at the end they say goodbye with a heartfelt hug and a kiss on the cheek. You are irritated, you are angry, you feel rage and jealousy and you ask yourself what kind of a slut you have picked up. Your thoughts are going crazy and you can no longer think normally. If someone were to tell you right this minute that the man is a cousin or your girlfriend's brother, your entire world of thoughts would turn out to be useless theatre.
The opposite of what you think and feel is often the truth. Therefore, put your current thoughts to the test and listen deeply into the silence of your soul and feel what is real and what is not!
What step can you take today towards your future?
What step can you take today towards your future?
I am often told that my walk around the world is very courageous. I don't feel that way. For me, the only courageous thing was to take the first step.
If your goal is huge and cannot be tackled in one step, then create small intermediate steps. Think about the smallest possible first step and implement it. If it still seems complicated, simplify it. All you have to do is adapt each task to you and your ability. If you lack a skill, the first step is to acquire that knowledge by taking a course or getting technical literature.
If you succeed in even a minimal step each day, you will feel positive feelings develop and the anticipation of achieving the big goal will grow each day. You can always reward yourself for achieving intermediate goals.
Starting is the most important part of work, as Plato said in ancient Greece.
Start. Now. What are you waiting for?
What goals are important for your life?
We all have goals in life. Big ones, small ones, important ones, unimportant ones. Many of us do everything we can to achieve this goal. Once we have achieved it, we are happy, proud and satisfied. At least for a certain time. But what if life, fate, karma or the universe throws a spanner in the works? When the big dream of becoming a professional footballer fails due to a broken leg?
It is not uncommon for the entire pack of cards to collapse and we become depressed and are among the unhappiest people in the world. I know what I'm talking about, you can believe me.
As a long-distance hiker, I have always set myself goals and I regularly check my GPS to see if I'm still on the right track. It's not uncommon for me to discover that the route indicated doesn't suit me and my needs, and then I have to make a decision. Either I look for a new route or I look for a new destination. So every day becomes a challenge.
However, I have also had the experience that whenever I could not achieve a goal, the next opportunity was suddenly much better. That's why I don't hang on to goals any more. Rather, I listen to my intuition and try to interpret the signs correctly on the hike through life and make the right decision now and then.
Every now and then it doesn't hurt to sit down and review your current life path. So regularly ask yourself which goals are really still important to you or whether there aren't new goals that would suit your current situation much better. Be realistic, because having unattainable goals will make you ill and unhappy.
What are you most grateful for?
There are two particularly good and intense feelings that have a lasting effect on our being. One is love and the other is gratitude. That's why there are meditations that focus on these areas. Think back to when you achieved a special goal or when a great heartfelt desire was fulfilled. How grateful were you then and how did it feel? That's right, it feels great and when you allow that feeling into your memory, it does something to you. For my part, I usually smile to myself and I can be happy.
You can learn to be grateful and use it every day. When you lie in bed at night, you can focus your thoughts on something you can be really grateful for that day. The praise from your boss, the completion of a job, the "I love you" from your partner or the small gift you received today. Just close your eyes, remember it and say thank you and dwell on the feeling.
You can also do this in the morning when you wake up. Then you might focus on the great moments in your life for which you can be grateful. I often lie in my hammock and shout a big thank you to the sky, because I am really happy and grateful to have been able to experience all this after all the bad years of depression and suicide that have had such a lasting effect on my life.
If you regularly look at everything good and are grateful for it, you will increasingly feel a bit happier and somehow also richer. You can also pass on this beautiful feeling by giving a "thank you" with a smile. It doesn't hurt, but it makes you and the other person happy.
Have you said thank you today? If not, what are you waiting for? I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for listening.
What are you glad you did?
It may sound strange, but it's worth thinking about. For example, I am very happy that I followed this thought in the shower and decided to do TREES of MEMORY, because it changed my life so dramatically for the better. I'm also grateful that I gave in to being in love last time because it taught me a lot about myself again and more importantly, it taught me that I can do it again. I didn't think that was possible for over three years after my partner died. It didn't last, but that's not a bad thing because being able to do it is much more important.
I am mostly happy about all the things I have done that have brought something good to another person or animal. No matter how small the positive contribution we make to the world or to others, it makes us happy.
Each of us, consciously or unconsciously, has done small or big deeds that have made a positive difference. Remember this and feel how it feels. What you have done at some time or other can become permanently fixed in the other person's mind and he or she will always think positively of you. You don't necessarily have to know about it. In fact, I sometimes get emails describing such a situation and it almost makes me cry. Such lasting encounters are what life is all about, they make us grateful and humble and incidentally they are also good for karma. In the end, a life that arises from cause and effect becomes a life for which you can be grateful one day, even if you don't see it at this moment.
What are you glad you did today?
How can you increase your motivation?
We all know it. We have a task in front of us that we put off because we don't feel like doing it. Especially when we have to do it. For me, it's doing my taxe return every year. Honestly, what a crap job. I can't understand how anyone can really enjoy it. But there are people like that. As the saying goes: To each his own.
No matter what I do. Sorting and completing tax documents, typing figures and doing the accounting is not nice, it doesn't make me happy and it only gets better when I'm done with it. But there are three tricks that can help a little to get out of motivation paralysis:
Close your eyes and imagine how it feels when the goal is achieved and you have the tedious work behind you? Maybe this will also give you a reward. Others always get money back when they have done the tax. Unfortunately, I always have to pay, but my reward is hopefully paying very little tax and not getting fined.
The second step is to see what you have to do. What do you have to do first in order to tackle it at all? Once you've taken that first step, the rest will almost take care of itself.
As a final tip, I advise you to start simple. Don't plan a whole day or a whole week for it, but just say: I'll start now and when I don't feel like it any more, I'll continue another time. You will be surprised how suddenly everything develops and then you sit all day and suddenly you are done with it.
You can also motivate yourself with a nice reward if you find it hard despite everything. Always remember that a big fire always starts from a tiny spark.
How would you think, decide, appear and act if you were already the person you want to be?
Are you happy and content the way you are behaving and acting at the moment? Do your actions and thoughts correspond to who you would like to be? I ask again a little more simply or more strikingly and with a picture. Would you like to follow in the footsteps of Mother Theresa and be recognised for your social commitment? If so, do you already act and think like that at present, i.e. do you carry out social services free of charge and take care of the poor and the elderly in your free time?
Or do you want to become a great Formula 1 car mechanic? Then why do people only see you riding a skateboard and never working on an engine?
When you enter into the vision of your ideal self, then you are able to think and act like that. When you do that, you create thoughts that automatically contribute to becoming that person. If you don't do that, you become the person who creates your actions in the now. So if you are always stealing chewing gum and thinking that you will stop later when you are earning real money, you will probably never earn money because you will soon be caught and punished as a thief.
Therefore, and it is never too late, put yourself in the position of your perfect self or the superhero you want to be and ask yourself how that person would deal with the current issue in your life? How would this person feel? How would this person live? What would you do and what would you let be?
This image of yourself will help you to create the life you want. That's why it's not too early to start behaving like that. But beware: You won't become a millionaire just because you behave like one and squander your money. This will only make you insolvent and an idiot. Most millionaires have worked hard for it and started living their dream early.
It's not a disadvantage if you still don't have a vision at 18. You can be indecisive and still not have found what you really enjoy. But you can still have an image of yourself by the time you're 40. If it still turns out differently, then your karma has other plans for you. And yet it will help you every day to think and act as the perfect version of yourself would do.
So, how do you want to be?
Why is your voice one of the most important instruments of your soul?
The poet Johann Gottfried von Herder said that the voice is the power of the soul and adorns the body. The man is not wrong. The voice as an adornment of the body can trigger all sorts of things in us. A great voice is soothing or sounds extremely erotic. Its sound can put us to sleep, carry us away or be extremely annoying. It is unique and a powerful, distinctive instrument that you can use at any time. It is the mirror of your emotions and reveals with every note how you are feeling. The question is whether you want that or not?
You certainly know people who answer in a whiny, almost whispery and timid voice, no matter what you ask. What impression do you get from such a person? Would you put them at a sales counter as a boss or bring them into a customer meeting? Then there are the guys who shout as if they were in a barrack and still others speak so fast that you have to ask three times. Such characteristics make it difficult.
That's why it's advisable to play with your voice and train it. Let it become melodic and listen to how it sounds when you speak softly, loudly, uncertain or firmly. Make your voice your business card. You don't have to sound like a pop star. Be yourself, whether you have a low, high or medium pitch. Especially if you step out of line and you're a guy with a really high voice, it's important that you're still clear and decisive and earn respect with every sentence. None of us can do anything about what nature has given us. Whoever mocks and belittles others is nothing but an arsehole and will sooner or later reap what he or she sows.
Make your voice heard. Stand up straight, breathe deeply into your belly and then speak whatever comes to your mind and feel the sound of your voice. Learn to use it and practise the pitches for different situations. This works well when you read aloud.
As a teenager, I never had to speak a single word of High German. By chance I ended up as a trainee in a TV editing room. I was almost 30 at the time and they all laughed their heads off when I opened my mouth and spoke Swabian. I only got a chance because they saw that I probably had talent for the job. I was given 6 months to change my speech and with it my voice. So I took elocution lessons and suffered a lot from the loss of my vocal and linguistic identity.
It's best to spare yourself such an experience. It was not nice. One of the phrases I had to practise at that time was like the following, which will perhaps help you in your exercises. Imagine, like an actor, how the sentence should sound when it is spoken by a superhero or a professor or whoever. It's fun and has endless possibilities. Have fun with this: Here we go:
Betty Botter bought some butter but, said she, the butter’s bitter.
If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter will make my bitter batter better.
So she bought some better butter, better than the bitter butter,
put it in her bitter batter, made her bitter batter better.
So ‘t was better Betty Botter bought some better butter.
How much time can you give yourself today and every day?
If the Roman poet Seneca is to be believed, then the ancient Romans lazed away a lot of time because it was not used sensibly for themselves.
If you are honest, you too will fritter away time, just as I do, instead of allowing myself a few minutes of downtime every day that is just for me and serves to regenerate. Each of us always has a few minutes and anyone who claims that this is not the case is lying or making themselves important or simply doesn't want to take some time out for themselves.
You can even create your personal moment in the queue at the supermarket or when you are on the train. Instead of simply reading the news on your mobile phone, you could just turn on some music, close your eyes and gently focus on your breath. Try this and you'll be surprised at the positive effect five minutes of quiet can have on your mind.
There is also plenty of research material on this topic, which says that it is not the long hours of rest or the weekend that brings lasting recovery, but the many minutes in between that you simply give yourself.
As a TV editor, you often sit in the editing room totally tired out and finish your films. We always allowed ourselves a minute's nap, which I still do today. I sit down comfortably right at my desk and keep one arm propped up vertically on the table and hold my bunch of keys. At some point I fall asleep and it doesn't take long for the keys to fall and bang loudly on the table. Then you're awake again and much fitter. A minute's nap like that is really very beneficial.
So, think about when you can give yourself and your mind a few minutes of well-being?
What little things in your everyday life can you change in order to benefit from them permanently?
Most of us spend the whole day following fixed routines and often bad habits. We don't usually notice this and it's actually not a bad thing as long as we're doing well. But when we start to develop a depressive disorder or are close to burn out, habits are often a bad guide to recovery. When I was in the hospital for almost 6 months, the doctors introduced various fixed rules. Not everything made sense to me. One of them was dinner at 6 pm. I was always used to eating when I was hungry. Whether that was at 6pm or 11pm didn't matter to me. In fact, after a few weeks I found that the change simply did me good, without me now being able to explain it exactly.
In my winter home in Berlin last year, I felt that something had to change. Somehow everything was drab, functional and not really homely. So I started working with bright colours and I put a photo wallpaper on the wall in the kitchen. Now, when I step into my brightly coloured hallway or fall into bed at night surrounded by my flower meadow on the wall, I feel much better.
Sometimes it's worth just following your intuition without thinking about the why or the consequences. Just do it and let yourself be surprised what is triggered by the changes. It doesn't have to be big changes, sometimes the little things will do.
If your habits are the result of what others expect of you and are not really in tune with your own heart, get rid of them first, because they are the ones that make you ill.
Socrates said that good success has a certain size but always starts with small things. The old masters and philosophers definitely had a deeper view into what life means because they had the possibility to delve deep into the matter. There was no smartphone or advertising and all kinds of other shit to distract them. I don't presume to be a philosopher, but I have one thing in common with the gentlemen of those days. As long as I'm hiking and I'm alone for months at a time, I have time to look at life and I see more and more things that were hidden from me before and that make my life so much easier and more beautiful. It's a big change that just happened.
Where and how can you live your style of life today to feel good about yourself?
The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig once said: Once you have found yourself, there is nothing left in this world for you to lose.
How right this man was and how great his underlying message is. It also goes hand in hand with the question of being and having. You can always lose your having, your possessions, but your being, your character, your charisma will always remain, even if you lose everything else and have to sleep under the bridge.
If you think about which people impress you the most, it's often those who have their own style, who have always remained true to themselves and whose style is the perfect expression of their character. It starts with the punk and ends with the grandmother who has always worn her hair in a perfect way since she was 15. These are the people who have always remained true to themselves, regardless of the change over time, and for whom there is no need for change.
However, style does not mean that with all the money in the world I can afford the most expensive designers and drive big cars. Nor does owning all the Apple gadgets have anything to do with style. People often hide behind their wealth because they don't know what good qualities to bring to the surface and how to express them in a personalised way. You can't buy style and taste.
What suits your character? What can you associate with it? What can you use to emphasise it? What could accompany you throughout your life? What message do you want to send non-verbally when people meet you?
If a certain object or piece of clothing gives you a really good feeling, then you are already on the right track. Today, try to dress or act in a way that underlines your message.
At this point, a student comes to mind who I once taught in Hamburg at a so-called elite university. He had adopted the habit of wearing his trousers in such a way that his entire backside could be seen in his pants, a strange fashionable appearance known as sagging pants. I once asked why he was doing that? His answer was that he just wanted to be different. ... mm.... Well, maybe he would have succeeded if he had worn really weird pants, but with the forever boring faded grey fine ribbed pants I think he was just a slapper. I couldn't see any style there. But he was certainly different.
How can you better integrate and expand relaxation and recovery times in your everyday life?
In winter, when I work to raise the money for my hike, I often have a 15-hour day. It's almost a normal state that I work all the time and the more enthusiastic I am about what I'm doing, the fewer breaks I take. Yes, sometimes I even forget to eat. The only thing that gets me out of this very unhealthy behaviour is walking the dog. In the evening, when I watch TV, I unfortunately can't help monitoring my mobile phone and join discussions that don't need me. It's almost like an addiction that I have to stop. That's why recreation times are extremely important.
I realise that you can't have a quick nap in the workplace and of course not everyone has a desk job. If you work on the assembly line at a car manufacturer, which I have done, you don't even have the opportunity to go to the toilet and you have to wait until the break.
So what can you do? It has been scientifically proven that so-called micro-breaks spread throughout the day are almost better than two 15 minute breaks. Most of us have the opportunity to close our eyes and breathe deeply and consciously for 60 seconds every hour for a maximum of 2 minutes. You can also do this whenever you have finished a task and need to start the next one. If you feel weird or feel like you're being watched, just go to the bathroom. If you are on the toilet for two minutes, it doesn't cause a concern, but if it does then just say that you have a weak bladder. Just don't stay there for five minutes.
Try closing your eyes for 50 seconds and breathing deeply in and out. You'll see, it's good for you and you won't be as tired at the end of the day as you were before.
How are you breathing at this moment?
Are you one of those people who just breathe automatically without noticing it or are you one of those people who have heard that conscious breathing brings about a lot of change?
Zen Buddhism says "Life only happens in the here and now. The breath is the key to it."
Those who suffer from depression, those who do yoga, those who meditate, those who are mindful, have learned that the breath is an important tool to ground themselves again and arrive in the here and now. The breath can control fear, suppress panic, give the energy to cope with a task or to digest information. After all, we often say, "When I heard that, I had to take a deep breath." Such sayings usually stem from a deeper wisdom that has long been lost in modern society.
Taking a deep breath means that when you take a breath, you straighten your spine and get a better posture. More oxygen enters our body and we feel fitter and can think better. The deep breath massages the organs located under the diaphragm. In addition, a lot of waste products are transported out of the body when we exhale from deep breaths.
Try to pay attention to your breath. Is it shallow or deep? Do you breathe into your belly or into your chest? Is it slow or frantic? If you pay attention to your breath regularly, even if it's only when you take a micro-break to recharge your batteries, your breath will deepen and over time an inner calmness will bring you relief.
The breath is the connection to life and sets the boundary to death. Feel your breath and let it bring you life and become aware of it.
Can you learn and grow from it?
We've all had a hard time when it comes to learning. Many of us associate it with compulsion at school and many unpleasant experiences. It's the same for me and there are areas where I find it incredibly difficult. Memorising is one of them. Cramming vocabulary is almost impossible. And I have the feeling more and more that my brain is no longer capable of remembering anything. I'm jealous of people who can remember everything and anything, who read a newspaper article and store the information like a computer and can still quote the written context a quarter of a year later. I really take my hat off to that. I'm more the type who reads something once and there was talk of xyz, and that this and that somehow affect each other. But I can't really say exactly anymore. But when I see the answers on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", I immediately recognise the right answer because I have a photographic memory. I can also find the hidden 6 in less than 5 seconds on pictures that show the eight 1000 times. ... I simply have other qualities that do not include a good memory.
I have always learned the most important information for my life while travelling. First of all, my trip to Africa when I was 20 years old. It took me a year to get from Senegal to Madagascar. I experienced many great things there, but also saw people dying miserably on the streets. This trip has left its mark on me to this day and has given me a completely different picture of the people, the cultures and the economic opportunities. My one-year stay in Los Angeles also taught me a lot, and at first I had to relearn a lot. Because what is taken for granted here is not valid there. Try to get a mobile phone contract without a social security number. Or deal with the question of what freedom means in America and what freedom is in Germany.
And now, or rather in the past three years, I am having the ultimate learning experience and am entering areas that go much deeper than some stupid national insurance number or algebra. The multitude of existing connections in nature and in human nature, the connections between joy and sorrow and what give and take really means on a mental level teach me values that existed long before our society. No teacher can teach you the experience of enduring grief every day, hiding it and bringing a relaxed smile to the other person's face in spite of everything. Only you can find this experience within yourself and put it together like a puzzle to form an instrument. The possibilities for action available in the world represent an inexhaustible reservoir of learning opportunities.
The world, nature, animals and people offer an incredibly exciting scope for discovery. You don't have to know everything by heart, you don't have to be able to explain psychology for a textbook. It is enough to feel it and to feel the truthfulness deep inside. Make your own experiences. The universe will always show you only what you can use and what is important for your life.
Take it upon yourself to absorb a new piece of information every day. Whether it's an article in a science newsletter, or a different Wikipedia article every day, or the five minutes a day you spend watching ants go about their business, it doesn't matter.
In the end, you become wise not through knowledge, but through experience. Experience that life brings. So live!