Author: Oliver Briny

December 26, 2017 Oliver Briny 4 comments

Potential is within you.


As we discussed in Work It Out, you should seek to find an environment where you can be who you are, not just do what you love. But how do you find out who you really are and what you’re good at anyway?
I often have discussions with people who don’t think they’re particularly good at anything. I’ve learned to choose my battles when it comes to voicing my disagreements, but these are cases where I find it hard to be quiet. Everyone has unique potential. Some of you might be thinking “oh come on, you’re just saying that you over the top, you”. 
So what is my ground for making such a claim? Are some people just doomed to keep being stuck, not being excited or particularly good at anything? I’ve grown in a culture that’s not always the best soil for finding one’s true potential. Thankfully, I also spent very important years in a different environment, which showed me that the ground your in matters significantly. Here’s my argument.
A seed usually germinates and sprouts when it’s planted underground. In its beginning stages, it is autonomous in its growth, but after a while, it’s going to need some external nutrients. I believe we as people work in the same way. We can develop up to a certain point in our own strength, but to reach one’s full potential we need external input. We need people who openly encourage and show their belief in us.
Now I talked about having been raised in an environment where finding one’s true potential was challenging. The reason for this is that where I’m from, giving positive feedback is not common. It isn’t, unfortunately, a problem exclusive to Finland. However, as a country it is an environment where positive communication is not at its most fluent. It was only when I moved into a different culture that I started to find who I really was. The reason for that was because there was an abundance of acceptance, love and encouragement: the ingredients necessary for a person to flourish. 
The gifting of a person unlocks when planted into an environment of love. When I was encouraged like never before, I was built more than ever before. The encouragement was often undeserved, but it was rooted in people seeing and believing that there was potential in me that I never saw myself. I’m eternally grateful for that. And I don’t intend to merely be grateful. I want to pass it on.
I’m a solid believer that when a person tastes and feels the effect of unconditional love, they are changed forever. You understand the importance of encouraging and building others around you, when you've felt it yourself. People who enjoy unconditional love and encouragement from others are often successful. People who are successful build others around them, because they understand that their success was ignited by people who poured into them. Success isn’t necessarily defined by a person’s position, but rather by the posture of their heart. 
Even if you don’t know about any gifts and talents you have, live expectant! Live life knowing that there’s something to be discovered inside of you. Find an environment where people are for you - a place where people call out the best in you. If they have time to joke about you, they should have time to encourage you. Sometimes we need to fight to change our environment. Life is too short to waste time with people who don’t want to see you win in life. 
Most importantly, be this kind of person for others. Imagine where we’d be if we took this heart-posture. Imagine all the gifts and talents it would call out. We can’t change people, but we can be the change ourselves. Let’s take this into our new year and go places we’ve never thought possible.
December 9, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

The Formula Of Fulfillment

My sister - call her Lila - told me about a time where she had a peer review session at her university. Lila’s group had worked extremely hard for their assignment, and were anxious, but rather expectant to hear what their peers had to say about their work. They honestly believed that it could further the health of immigrant women - a topic they were sincerely passionate about.
The group of four walked up to the front of the lecture room, opened up their work for everyone to see and sat down waiting. Finally, the reviewing team began. “The first paragraph of your introduction is a bit odd. We didn’t like the tone you set.” 
My sister’s group was shocked. What a negative tone their peers had set from the very beginning! Unfortunately it was exactly that: the beginning… Closer to a half hour the peers bashed their work, dissecting it into pieces they were displeased about.
A silence fell into the room… The four classmates felt a deep sense of disappointment. Suddenly a voice stood out filling the void. “I’m sorry for interrupting, but I have to speak out. I think your work is incredible.” My sister’s group felt so uplifted. So quickly that one comment relieved their misery. What a sense of fulfillment they felt for finally having their hard work recognized.
What surprised me was that Lila and her group decided that they didn’t want any other group to go through a bashing like they did. They decided to break that chain right then and there. The group they were to review next, had a lot to fix in their assignment. However, their decision stood: no matter how bad the work in review, they would do what is right. Lila’s group reviewed them with grace, even if constructively so. They acknowledged the good, and gently pointed out what they could improve on. 
I thought this was just amazing. What would ever be the reason someone would be so kind and responsible, even after being treated so unjustly? One word: Character
Character is what sustains you, when the manure hits the fan. Without character, things that come your way, such as hardship and injustice, will make you react in a way contrary to who you want to be. You will face challenges, but how you respond to them is what makes or breaks success.
Even with all the talent in the world, alone it is incomplete. It’s possible to achieve many wonderful things through talent, but to make talent-produced success fulfilling, its natural counterpart is required. That counterpart is character. 
One quality of character is consistent deciding to take responsibility of your life regardless of your circumstances. In this case, the circumstances are different variables in our lives, some of which are the external pressures that can come in between you and your mission. The good news is that though we might not be able to change every circumstance, we are able to decide the perspective through which we look at things.
Most of character development is done alone somewhere where no one else can see. You willingly let go of entitlement and take on an attitude of humility and thanksgiving. The difference between entitlement and humility is that a spirit of entitlement says ‘I have the right to’, when a spirit of humility sees the world as full of opportunity. You decide to let go of the debt you feel the world owes you and figure out your fueling inner purpose. 
Consistency in whatever it is you want to accomplish is very hard to build without character and an internal desire that outweighs external pressures. An internal desire such as the admiration of others or a high status within one’s family and friends is not a sustainable solution. When life gives its worst, a purpose limited to only oneself won’t be able to withstand the pressure. Sooner or later, life finds people with such motivations with an emptied tank. 
Lila’s group faced great injustice in the way their work was evaluated, yet they still chose to do the right thing. I think the people who are most admired in life, are like Lila and her three friends. The best leaders and heroes show character similar to them. Stories like this are so encouraging, because they show us that with a strong character, doing the right thing - even when life feels unfair - is possible. I personally can’t wait to see what people like my sister and her three friends, will accomplish in life.
In the same way Einstein’s most famous formula E = mc² is one of the most foundational equations in the world of physics, so is the Formula of Fulfillment in life: Fulfillment = talent x character².
Add talent and character together and time and time again you’ll find yourself sitting at the fountain of fulfillment.
Sow character and what you reap is a bright future.
November 25, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Breaking Bad

As the night fell, I felt remorse as the episode came to its end. “This is a mistake”, I thought to myself. I had begun watching a series, which I hadn't done in ages. I’m very hesitant when it comes to shows, because I know I could be using my time better. Another issue is that if I start something, I have to watch it all the way through. 
Breaking Bad was one of those shows that was constantly on people’s lips coupled with great acclaim. My interest didn’t have much to do with the accolades. The appeal was Bryan Cranston, whom I'd previously seen playing a carefree and whimsical father in the show Malcolm in the Middle. Having an interest in acting myself, I wanted to see how he’d pull off a character so different to what I’d grown so accustomed to. 
A couple of episodes in I was feeling conflicted. Breaking Bad very quickly takes a dark twist: dying Mr. White, the main character, becomes a crystal meth cook in an attempt to provide for his family. I try to be careful with the material I expose myself to, as what you choose to entertain grows. Now I’m not worried of becoming a meth cook, but sometimes small steps can take you on a path you never wanted to take. When you think about it, isn’t that exactly what happened to Mr. White…?
Around a dinner table I discussed Breaking Bad with a fresh acquaintance. I was a couple of seasons in, and was regretting the decision. I told him I couldn’t understand the story: how could such a decent family man do such horrible things, with a motive like that? 
His response blew my mind. “Isn’t it quite a precise description of us? Even the most benevolent person has all the ingredients of evil in them. Small decisions, piled on top of each other, can lead to big consequences.” 
His comment completely changed my outlook on the show. Mr. White loved his family. He was a decent tax-paying citizen. His family, friends and colleagues enjoyed him. He had a good motive together with a hasty decision. This slowly escalated into lies, conniving, betrayal and ultimately murder. 
'Breaking bad'. It’s a slang expression which means to give up on the typical morals and follow one’s own path. Yet the expression has a sense of continuity about it. Change, no matter the direction, is gradual. It takes a motive to power it, and steps to further it. Change can also be powered by a lack of motive. There’s no such thing as staying in one place in life: you either go backwards or forwards. People who lack a purpose have a tendency to fill the void with something noxious. 
I’m writing to you about this because this is an important principle to be aware of in life. I’ve always strongly identified with “the good team”. Ever since a kid, it was evident to me that I’d always be one of the good guys. I’d never be one of the baddies. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I’m not above getting lost. 
In the process of time, all of us go through change. Our small decisions do have a great impact on the direction of that change. There’s a proverb that says that the prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.¹ Sometimes being wise can be as simple as understanding the law of cause and effect. What you decide today has an effect on your tomorrow.
“Never give up control. Live life on your own terms.”², said Mr. White with a hardened heart. A series of sequential steps had brought him to a place of constant fear, lies and deceit. He never gave up control. He lived life on his own terms. The price, however, was heavy.
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” 
–Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, and philosopher, 1817-1862

1. Barker, Kenneth L., and Donald W. Burdick. Zondervan NIV study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
2. Breaking Bad, Season 4, Episode 8. Directed by Johan Renck. By Vince Gilligan, Sam Catlin, and George Mastras. Performed by Bryan Cranston.
November 11, 2017 Oliver Briny 2 comments

About Women

Through this past year, hardship has been one of the themes that’s been on my mind. I’ve been through some myself, but it’s something that I’ve examined as an idea rather. Sure there have been seasons, where it seemed like everything was just right. There have been seasons where I was in control of all the important aspects of my life. However, every now and then I would come across quotes, such as “doing something important involves difficulty”. The previous thought can make you worried, if your life currently feels just right - am I doing anything worthwhile?
With that said, I’ve started to think about hardship and my outlook on it. Is it something to fear, or something to embrace, and from whom can I learn about it? As it turns out, some of the biggest champions when it comes to fighting through obstacles… are women. 
So what credibility does a 24-year old guy have to speak about women? I might not be an expert, but I was raised by them. I was raised by an immensely strong mother and two caring older sisters. I was also born and raised in Finland, one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. To me there’s no question that women’s rights and well-being are critical factors in the success of any society. 
When living abroad, one of the biggest avenues of growth is to think about who you really are. There are many environmental influencers that have affected your upbringing. So as my eyes opened and world-view broadened beyond the small borders of my own culture, I wanted to look at the history of the country i grew up in. One of the biggest discoveries was that women are giants in their mental prowess.
In 1918, only months after the Finnish Declaration of Independence, Finland went through a civil war. Only after about 20 years, Finland was faced with the Winter War and the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, a country with a size about 65 times that of Finland. All of the previous in just its first 30 years of independence!
With a population between only 3-4 million, Finland had to use every resource at hand. As the world wasn’t as technologically advanced as it is now, the resource was mostly… manpower. In other words, while the men were in war (and honorably so), the practical running of the country was on women’s shoulders. Women were truly an enormously strong pillar that the whole country was leaning on. Just imagine the weight of that: the uncertainty, being a support for the family, taking care of the young and the old, caring for possible animals, running the household… On top of that women formed a voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organization called the Lotta Svärd, which was possibly the largest of its kind in World War II.
In every success story there are multiple parts and contributors that made it possible. Obviously the veterans who fought in the wars are greatly honoured and regarded as heroes. Today in 2017, Finland celebrates its 100th year of independence as one of the safest and most prosperous countries in the world. I’d like to highlight that without the bold stance women took, there wouldn’t have been a country to come back to after the war. 
My country’s history is an example of what great fortitude women carry. Don’t crucify me as I say that it’s a lesson that can sometimes be hidden from some, maybe because women more easily voice their worry. On the other hand, maybe this is one of the factors behind the (often) superhuman ability women have in bearing burdens. Not only from a man’s perspective, but also in light of what we know through psychology, women are generally more relationally capable and thrive in community. Seeing firsthand how loneliness is one of the biggest problems in the world, we all have a lot to learn from that quality.
This is not only about the women of Finland. This is about the power that lies in womanhood, all around the world. I am standing on the shoulders of both men and women alike who, in face of adversity, stood strong and fought for a better tomorrow.
Thank you - no matter your gender - for all the hardship you choose to face as part of a greater battle for a better tomorrow.
October 27, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Freedom To Bind

I sat down to write, according to my writing schedule, so that I’ll make the cut for the next week of publication; every two weeks, as promised. It’s always a slight stress-factor, as I approach the deadline. I take it quite seriously, as I have the opportunity to bring encouragement or comfort to someone’s life. I’m drawn to write about the process, as it fits into this week’s topic: freedom and discipline.
As I started the writing process, I thought about the different areas of my life, where I have to apply discipline. Interestingly, I found myself thinking about all the things I’m bad at! This is so interesting, because I went over to the negative and self-critical mode immediately. I felt guilt for all the things I could improve on. I would hope I were in the minority of people who automatically think this way, though I’m afraid that’s not the case. Luckily we’re not slaves to our thoughts, remember! Suddenly I had an aha moment: discipline and guilt have a causal relationship. The absence of discipline causes guilt.
We’ll never be perfect however. We’ll never be perfectly disciplined. So are we bound to living lives of constant guilt? Great question, and to be honest, I’ve sat here an hour thinking about an answer. Here’s how I’d like to begin: freedom can be used to produce freedom. But it can also be used to produce captivity. Take a very simple example: freedom to use credit cards can produce a shackling debt. An opposite example would be to use freedom to doing consistent healthy exercise and reaping the benefit of well-being and increased agility. This means more freedom.
So freedom has the potential of creating either more freedom or captivity. Maybe we could come to the conclusion that true freedom isn’t necessarily doing whatever one may want. I’d like to see discipline as something that’s not restrictive, but rather as a tool that has the potential of creating freedom. For example, one of my passions is to financially live like no one else now, in order for me to live like no one else when I’m retired. What this means is that I want to be disciplined in my finances, in order to achieve a greater financial goal. In other words, my discipline now will produce freedom in the future. 
A key to the guilt issue is motivation. I’ve heard a thought that discipline never works, because only through motivation, can you accomplish a change in behavior. What’s the difference? I like what J.D. Meier, the best-selling author of Getting Results the Agile Way, says: "I like to think of discipline as 'what to do' and motivation as 'why to do’.”¹ So discipline and motivation work hand in hand. When you have your motivation figured out, guilt isn’t what’s driving you anymore. Now the real force behind what you do is why you do it. 
Why do I bear the weight of writing, when it’s something that brings stress into my life? Because I’m passionate about filling a void I see in the world. I love wisdom, because of its life-bringing properties. I’m able to use my freedom to either fulfill every surface-level desire I have and achieve nothing, or I can sacrifice in order to invest into others and find true fulfillment. 
We have to stop thinking that saying "no" is binding, but rather understand that it has the potential to bring more freedom.
Glued down to my writing chair, yet I feel more free than ever.

1. Meier, J.D. “Discipline vs. Motivation.” Sources of Insight, May 18, 2009.
October 13, 2017 Oliver Briny 3 comments

losing control

I remember a conversation with my friend where we were talking about hosting birthdays. I told her very bluntly that I can’t stand hosting birthdays for myself or being the focus of a celebration. I explained that it’s just not something I find necessary - I feel like I’m already loved by people around me. “Oliver… What if other people want to celebrate you? Are you going to rob that from them?” Ouch… That hit me quite hard, but it started a good thinking process in me. 
In the above example, the idea of celebration was so hard, because it has to do with receiving. So why is receiving so difficult then? It might be because we feel like we’re not good enough. We often feel like every good thing has to be deserved. We know ourselves so well: the thoughts, the feelings or, in some seasons, the lack thereof. That’s why it’s so easy to think we’re not worthy. This requires a change in mindset, because if we feed the idea that everything has to be earned, we kill the potential to love others unconditionally as well. 
A friend of mine recently showed me a beautiful painted cup he purchased. He told me about how he’d been thinking about that specific cup for quite a long time. It was a special edition of a brand he’s collecting, and was only going to be made this year, after which the production will cease. He thought to himself: “Will I regret it if I don’t buy it? Yep probably will. But do I deserve it…?” He came to the conclusion that.. no, he’s not worth it according to his own standards. 
That sounds so sad, doesn’t it? But you know what blows my mind? He decided to buy it anyway! He understood that real love is unconditional - even towards yourself! Later on he explained, that it’s extremely hard to understand unconditional love. It’s hard, because you need to humble yourself and receive with nothing to give in return.
Another obstacle to receiving is control. Deep inside, a person that needs to control knows that the root lies in fear: we’re afraid that if we let others close, we then have something to lose. It’s vulnerable to let others love you, because it reminds us (of the reality) that we need other people. When we admit that in order to live a full life, we need other people, we’re on a journey of losing control. Control means to always have it your way. To always have it your way means you’re unable to truly love. What is true love then? Have a look at our last post A Life Of Meaning
There’s much less risk in being alone you see. Alone you feel like you’re in control. Don’t let anyone in, and no one will break what’s inside. But it’ll also be dark. A life of control is lonely. A life of freedom, however, is full of closeness. Control has to do with fear. Freedom has to do with trust. 
That year I decided to host a party. I remember creating that Facebook invitation and hating every moment of it. But I did it. I grew. In the end, it was a great experience and through it I got to communicate to the people close to me, that even though it was challenging, I honored them through it. 
I want people to know real love. The kind that is sacrificial. The kind that communicates respect towards others. The kind that is genuinely fulfilling. It’s available to you too.
September 28, 2017 Oliver Briny 1 comment

life of meaning

Most worldviews agree that the time we have on this Earth is precious. Many go as far as to say that time is your most valuable asset. An asset is defined by being useful or valuable. So if time is the most valuable asset, what do you use it for to get that value out of it? Well now I just have to ask, what can be uniformly defined as value? What does a life of meaning actually look like?
Lots of questions this week, but they stem from a sincere curiosity. From my perspective, it seems that most people - I dare say - struggle with finding meaning in life. We live in an age of subjective moral reasoning, which means that everyone individually defines for themselves what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. So with more freedom available to us than ever before, wouldn’t you think we’d be more satisfied?
"If you’re living a sensually driven life right now, you’re moving towards total emptiness.”¹
Is there a uniform right and wrong when it comes to living a life of meaning? It seems that we’ve found some pieces of that truth. No one wants to live a life void of true meaning. Even people with a naturalistic, scientific worldview, want meaning in some form. Paradoxically, it seems that our satisfaction in life positively correlates with having goals that have to do with putting others before us. It’s interesting; it's as if when we lose our lives, we find it.
I believe one form of meaning is found within genuine encounters with people. You can’t have intimate relationships without genuineness. A necessary ingredient when it comes to relationships is having the grace to allow one another the freedom of genuine expression. The difficulty lies in that sometimes we need the maturity to listen when it’s something we don’t want to hear.
There’s a really powerful video circulating online, where Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski talks about love². He describes the way we currently love as selfish. We often fail to genuinely love the other person; we just love the feeling the person gives us. When the person fails to meet our needs, we feel wronged and violated. Sadly, this means that we focus on our needs before anyone else’s. That’s not love for the other. That’s love for oneself. We constantly try to find our own sensual fulfilment - maybe that’s why we’re so empty.
It is selfishness that kills intimacy and meaning. Its rise has given birth to more still-born relationships than ever before in human history. It disperses the safety of expression necessary within an intimate relationship. What if it’s suffocation of expression itself, that breeds shallow living?
Selfishness is usually a manifestation of long-lasting pain. In a way, we need grace with ourselves before we can have it with anyone else. When a person learns to truly love who they are, their being is not phased by other people’s expression. This is because without an intimate, graceful disposition towards ourselves, it’s enormously difficult to be intimate and graceful towards other people.
So have a think. Do you allow yourself to express yourself genuinely? Are you able to allow others to express themselves? This is so important, because it’s a huge factor in unlocking the door to a life of meaning where you can truly connect with others. You are irrevocably unique. Opinions are many, but know that I, and many others, think that it would be such a shame if you hid your personality from the world. You are valuable - there’s a world of meaning out there.
"Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain, meaninglessness ultimately comes from being weary of pleasure."
-G. K. Chesterton

1. Zacharias, Ravi, Dr. “Questions of a Man in Agony, Part 2”. RZIM. August 8, 2017.
2. Twerski, Abraham, Dr. “Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Love.” Speech.
September 15, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Work It Out

At the age of 15, I had the opportunity to get my first (legal) summer job at a local shop and restaurant as a quad bike driver. I’m eternally thankful for the opportunity, as it laid the foundation for my future work endeavors, and was a challenging but positive environment for the young lad I was. I worked there every summer until the age of 18.
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to work in different jobs in different countries. I’m lucky - not particularly special - to have gotten those opportunities, as I never went and hunted for those jobs. They were jobs that came to me for being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I always did my best and received good feedback from (mostly) amazing bosses. Most people, however, have to get out there and find jobs. 
Because I was so (undeservingly) blessed when it came to jobs, I was always the annoying person in my circles, who'd proclaim that there are always opportunities out there, there are tons of jobs waiting for you - you just have to step out and find them!
And… yes, I still think that way. But after experiencing it for myself for the first time, I understood that it’s hard work finding those opportunities. 
So, for the first time in my life, I was in a place where I knew my job contract would end in a couple of months and I knew I needed to take some fresh steps employment-wise. I decided to allocate a specific, consistent time for job-hunting within my week schedule. What I did before applying for a single job turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done in that situation. I sat down, gathered some work-related resources, quieted down and contemplated. What would be the wisest thing I could do? 
I thought about the most important thing there is when it comes to work. Passion is an obvious one, and we often hear the question "what are you passionate about?” being thrown around. It’s a great question, but I’ve personally heard it so many times that it’s become obsolete. I needed fresh insight. In her speech¹, Ashley Stahl blew my mind in the simplest way when she said that you should do something that you are, not just what you love.
It clicked right away… Of course! Passion is the fire that happens when you rub two sticks together. So what you should go by is not passion (a feeling), but rather who you are as a person. Find a job where you don’t have to become someone else every day in order to make it work. When you can be yourself and utilize your own personality as a tool to get your work done, you’ve found yourself a good thing. Changing yourself to something who you’re not is exhausting and inefficient. Naturally, when something you do is aligned with who you are, there’s a lot more enjoyment, a lot more passion, and a lot more power in your life.
What are your interests? What do you do with delight even without being paid? Which quirk about your own personality brings you joy? For example, some people love being organized. Others love serving people. Some enjoy building things. 
Working a job that you actually love is a relatively fresh idea. Work is almost never free of challenges, but it doesn’t have to suck. Doing something that you are, doesn’t come easy. You need stops, steps and brainwork. 
So, who are you?

1. Stahl, Ashley. “Three Questions to unlock your authentic career.” Speech, TEDxBerkeley, California, Berkeley.
September 1, 2017 Oliver Briny 3 comments

The Circle Of Influence

You lie down after a long day, snuggle up into your cozy bed and close your eyes…
How much was the rent again? I wonder how hard my new term will be? I wish I could take back what I said to my colleague today…
Congratulations! You’ve entered the circle of concern, so you can kiss sleeping goodbye now.
You might have heard that our minds can be compared to an iceberg. The small tip above the surface is the conscious mind - the part you’re aware of. The gigantic rest of the berg under the surface, is the subconscious mind. To recap: in comparison, the conscious mind is minuscule and the subconscious mind is enormous. 
Putting this into numbers, the conscious mind can process up to 20 thousand bits per second. Our subconscious mind processes 400 billion (400,000,000,000!) bits per second.¹ Is your mind blown as well, because mine sure is. So one would think that our conscious mind is really just the place where the subconscious spews all the information, and the conscious just blindly obeys.
I used to think this way growing up. I thought that we are just the product of our subconscious wiring. Whichever way we were wired by our childhood, past experiences, family and friends, that’s the way we were going to be. I accepted all of my mindsets and thoughts as they were. “I can’t help it, I was wired this way.” 
I couldn’t have been more wrong. 
Sure, the subconscious mind has an enormous effect on our thoughts and behaviour, but scientists have come to understand that it’s the other way around - we can consciously rewire our thinking! Our conscious mind has the power of changing our thinking, mindsets and chemical stability in the long run. The thoughts you choose to entertain, grow. 
I’d like to introduce a simple principle with which to start empowering your thinking. All of your thoughts can be categorized into two circles: the circle of concern and the circle of influence
The circle of concern is exhausting. It’s the place you often spend your time in before going to bed. It is the domain of the thoughts that you have very little power to influence, such as past mistakes, the bad things that are happening in this world, the weather - the list goes on. Focusing on the circle of concern makes you negative and cynical. It saps your energy and joy in life. It leaves you stressed and powerless. 
But worry not. As we’ve established, we’re actually capable of changing our focus by using our conscious mind. Decide to reside in the circle of influence. When you choose to focus on the things you’re capable of changing, you enter the circle of influence. It’s focusing on the things you can actually start breaking into steps and accomplish. It will require energy at first, but will soon become a habit.
You are not a slave of your subconscious mind. You’re not at the mercy of your past. When you feel negative, and feel like you’re dwelling in things you cannot change, shift your mind onto the things you can influence. They sometimes look like smaller steps, but rest assured, the steps will push you forward. You will start radiating as you become proactive. You’ll have a surplus of energy, as you no longer waste it on the dark abyss of concern.
Now you’re ready to start having some good nights’ sleep!

1. Leaf, Caroline. Who switched off my brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions. Dallas, TX: Switch On Your Brain, 2008.
August 17, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Winter is Coming

The contrast between a Finnish summer and winter is profound. The sunny season of summer is underlined by light all through the day - the twilight only brushes the outline of the horizon, and up the sun comes again! The winter, on the other hand, is something else. Where in the summer the sun barely goes below the horizon, winter hardly gives us any of those sweet rays of life-giving goodness.
The winter is long, dark and cold. As much as the Finns enjoy the magical time of summer, they know that the diametrically opposed season, winter, will come inevitably. So it is with life as well.
Yes, my personal negative bias towards winter might be oozing out of my text: I’m a summer guy. But objectively speaking, winter isn’t a bad thing - quite the contrary. If we didn’t have the seasons, the polar ice caps on our planet’s North and South Poles would not be the same; that would be a major problem. Although we’ll not go deeper into the geography of our beloved Earth, we understand that the consistent shifting of seasons is not a bad occurrence. Similarly, our lives have cold and warm seasons. Are they all necessary though?
We love the warm seasons of life. These are the times, when all of our circumstances are favorable towards us. We’re financially stable, have beautiful people around us and have no social issues - they are seasons of overflow. Why wouldn’t we enjoy such seasons? The thing is that these seasons are never permanent. If we wanted summer to stay, we’d need to stop time. Stop time, and you stop growth as well. But if we want lives of ever-increasing adventure, dreams and significance, we need growth. This is where winter seasons come in.
A life-winter doesn’t feel good. It’s a time of mournful silence. The hopes that seemed so possible during the sunny days of summer now feel so distant from reality. It can affect your hope, your joy and your peace. Every one of us knows what a personal winter season looks like. Sometimes winter begins with a chaotic event: something negative that we never expected to happen. Other times it slowly creeps into our lives, eventually enclosing us in its cool and static embrace - we sort of wake up to it. It’s a season of overpowering circumstances - it’s where we feel helpless.
Wouldn’t we just be better off without the cold and dark seasons? I don’t think so. Take it from me, a person who absolutely loves a life of sunny smooth sailing. Who wouldn’t? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have everything you touch turn into success? Are you ready for a reality check…? A life of sustained success, needs a strong character to sustain it. As much as a winter season is an opportunity to fail, it’s also an opportunity to grow. Stretching is painful, but without stretching, we won’t be able to reach the next step we want to take.
I’ve personally felt such freedom, when I’ve changed my outlook on darker seasons in life. It simply isn’t just ”bad”. It’s a season of challenge and developing character. When this shift of attitude takes place in you, the darkness looses much of its potency.
Everyone loves watermelons. 
They grow in the heat of summer, so we look forward to it.
Character grows in the cold of winter, so why don’t we change our thinking when it comes to the hard seasons?