Arianna Huffington's book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder spoke to my heart. I also believe it's time we took greater care to observe the many wonders in our daily lives that we too often take for granted.
First of all, it's very important to know what we love to do. Everybody has a special talent, and I believe this talent, which I also call energy, is there for a purpose - to share with the world in order to make life more vivid and worthwhile. But focusing on what we love to do takes discipline and organization. I've learned that I can accomplish more every day by making a list. That, in turn, gives me a chance to focus on the things I love: writing and reading books, watching animals and nature, enjoying the Greek sunshine - and, yes, doing nothing. I love to observe my surroundings. It gives me such a sense of freedom and space for creativity. My thoughts and body relax. In those moments, I enter the world of sensuality and receptivity, which for me is an essential element of a happy and successful life.
Giving and being receptive belong to the female world. In our modern culture, money and power have taken on great importance, but it's more important for women - and men - to learn to apply their natural wisdom in their daily lives and work. We know what's good for us and for the planet, but we've lost the ability to follow our inner voice. Instead, we follow random thoughts in our heads that try to tell us what to do to be 'right' or 'good' or lovable. But the right decision always comes from the heart, not from the head.
As a personal development coach, I teach relationship seminars mainly for women. Women recharge their feminine battery when they gather with other women. This feminine battery is loaded with creativity, passion, fun, sensuality, wisdom and nurturing. But often I realize that instead of giving, women tend to give up or give away. What lies behind that is mostly fear - fear that we might get rejected or that we're not attractive or good enough. Yet when we acknowledge everything that exists, and when we understand that we are already perfect whether or not we accomplish anything in life, then we step into the state of self-love. In that moment, wonders begin to happen because we connect with the universe.
Things we can acknowledge include the wonder of our breath, of love, of birth and death. Our biggest fear lies in the fact that we will die. That's the basis on which the health and cosmetics industries create hundreds of products and earn billions of dollars every year, and this too causes us stress. At least several people have managed to wake up when they developed health problems, and they then started to heal themselves. Our souls live forever because they are energy and energy cannot die, as it's said. For the short time we have on this planet, I believe that we've come to learn something. We've come to discover the excitement of loving physically, of feeling self-love and of contributing our talents to this planet.
During my training as a life coach, several different mentors asked me the same question: 'What do you want?' At first, I created a list. I wanted to have a house, to create more money, to live by the ocean, to have nice clothes and so on. My first mentor looked at me very attentively, and after a while he said, 'Yes, that all sounds nice, but what do you really want? You don´t light up at all. What you really want comes from your belly and your heart, not your mind.' I wanted so deeply to find out what that was, and it took me a long time and a lot of discipline.
When I spoke about my dog, I beamed - my eyes shone. And I spoke about my dog all the time. Finally, I wrote a book of dog stories. In my book Who's the Coach Here? (Wer coacht hier wen? in German), dogs talk about their lives and experiences with human beings and other animals.
I am not a trained dog coach. I approach dogs from a soul-searching and creative angle. In overcoming my dog phobia by painting their portraits, I came to realize how sensitive they were. Having lived with several dogs and taken care of them at the Friends of Animals rescue center in Athens, I've learned how to live in the present.
Dogs tell me very quickly what is working and what is not. I admire their curiosity and willingness to engage in teamwork. They love to play and are easily surprised by sudden changes, but they're also good at defending their territory. My heart melts when I see those doggie eyes ... 'Hey, buddy, don't you wanna play with me?' Many of them are neglected, some are abused, and some, even after living with a family for 12 years, are abandoned.
I've noticed that animals are curious and willing to learn. Dogs teach me all four pillars of the third metric on a daily basis: well-being through the enjoyment of sunshine and cuddling, wisdom through reconnecting with our real natures, and wonder. How? Because dogs always live in the present moment. What about giving? The unconditional love and tenderness I get from animals is something we human beings can also adopt. There's a reason why dogs are our close animal friends, and for me, one of the most important elements of success is to respect and learn from the world of animals.