Monday, 19 December 2016

Your second life begins when you understand that you only have one (Ta deuxieme vie commence quand tu comprends que tu n'en as qu'une) - Raphaëlle Giordano

A feel-good book to begin with, but not much otherwise.  That was my reasoning for purchasing Ta deuxième vie commence quand tu comprends que tu n'en as qu'une, after a colleague recommended this for my French book search (I make it a point to read books in languages other than English, so as not to lose touch...)

This would then be my go-to book for travelling, for evenings when I'm dead tired, in general for occasions when I don't need to think hard about the subject at hand.

What a surprise, then, when I realised that underneath the "light" packaging, this book actually has a lot of substance. I could identify with the main person of this story: I'm at the exact same point in life, I'm going through very similar thoughts, and I get the same type of reactions when I express my worries.

Camille is a middle-aged woman, living a comfortable, albeit full and stressful life.  Like many people nowadays, there is nothing really wrong in her life, and yet, there seems to be nothing right either.  An accident will result in her meeting Claude and their interaction will uncover many facets of Camille's life that need elaboration... the second shot at life we wish we had, can actually happen in the current one!

The book may be fiction, but the author is a known professional in motivation and personal development.  As such, there are everywhere in the book points made and advice offered, that I have certainly heard before but this time around I intend to note and further work on them:

- the blank canvas/unclutter exercise - first,to  from within, eliminate all toxic feelings in relationship to people in the family, to friends, colleagues - what feelings I no longer want (exercise to do asap).  Then, move on to the environment around me and eliminate the objects that do not / no longer serve any purpose.  No more extra baggage!
- Any change has to come from within - it will only be my decision that will make me change (what I've been tring to convince many people around me).  But here's something new for me too: Do not ask what I am capable of changing, ask what do I want to change
- There is no time limit, only a mental one.  If I think that I don't have time to do something, then indeed I will not have time to do so. Such a simple notion, it has already helped me with plenty of activities...
- Return to nature - more than money, it brings a positive influence with no comparison
- Make a list with all my positive attributes - exercise to follow asap!
- Everything is change, but not because it ceases to exist, but to become what it is not yet - why not design the person we want to become? (Didn't Coco Chanel say something similar about designing the life we want to live???)
- Use a perception filter - consciously focus on the positive aspects of whatever, instead of the instinctively see only the darkness (that may take a little more effort)#
- Turn the hand pointing to who's responsible to ourselves.  (case in point: I don't think you love me anymore - what about whether I love me anymore?)
-In our time of hyper consumption, we are encouraged to throw away rather than mend and repair -- be it a an object or a feeling or a relationship.  Which is a pity, because we take pleasure from the little things we do (chinese proverb: the big pleasures comes from  heaven, the little ones from effort)
- Do not depend on others to be happy - have a series of happy thoughts / places, where I can put an anchor in times of stress
- If that is not enough, have a piggy bank for every negative thought - 1 euro worth each time!

- Do not make a fuss about every single thing - as the saying goes, "get off your cross, we need the wood".  Pick your battles!

- Once the transformation begins, it's refreshing to shake up the impression we give to colleagues and friends (up to a certain level)

- And, lest we forget: bad things may continue to happen - we have to know that we have the inner strength to cope with whatever may turn up

These are universal truths that I've heard time and time again.  Still, at this point in my life and in view of some changes I do want in it, I feel it's the right moment to introduce little help-me tools that can guide my future path.  The book reads very easily, it does not create any major emotional ups and downs, but I believe this is the essence in everything we do: know how to glide through the ups and downs of life with an air of serenity, knowing that we have the necessary qualities and strength to do so.

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