April 2014: Istanbul and the secret of happy work.
It’s finally really spring! I spent the first week back home embracing a more relaxed pace. After spending the past two years working on “The Decoded Company,” it felt a little surreal to not have to write or research anything that was big data and culture related. The completion of a big creative project is always an emotional transition for me. Happiness that I’ve seen something through to the end, elation (and relief) at the positive reception but also a little sad that it’s over.
I know myself enough by now to recognize that I need a few weeks to just let all of those emotions settle in order to be able to move on to the next adventure.That being said, once I was at home, I ignored everything I knew to be true and threw myself into a frantic and borderline insane state of mind by putting pressure on myself to immediately figure out what the next thing was going to be. It didn’t go well, and I ended up feeling very unhappy.
After pounding my head against the wall, Jesse rationally suggested that I should just relax and enjoy the feeling of having completed an intensely challenging and very rewarding project. So, I decided to give my brain a rest and go play on the Internet. I stumbled upon a very timely TED Talk by positive psychologist Shawn Achor called “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” He talks about how most of us follow a formula for success that argues that working harder will yield more success which in turn will make us happier.
Achor thinks this formula is flawed. “First, every time your brain has a success, you just changed the goalpost of what success looks like. You got good grades now you have to get better grades…you got a good job, now you have to get a better job,” he says. “And if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society.”
He argues that we have linked success to happiness in a way that has become detrimental to our mental health. He recommends cultivating a more positive mindset in the present, where happiness isn’t linked to any necessary output. Activities like exercising, journaling, and even meditation have been shown to help boost mood, and overall perspective. Even a simple trick of writing down 3 simple things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days will create a shift in your brain that will train it to scan for positives in the world instead of negatives.
Funnily enough, the second I decided to cultivate that sense of daily happiness, I got an idea that I think is going to be my next book project. 😉 It reminds of me of trying to chase a butterfly: to catch it, we just have to sit and be still.
Istanbul, Turkey: Private Corporate Event & Adventure
I was invited to speak at a private corporate event mid-April about technology and the financial sector, which is one of my favorite topics. Our relationship with money is something that I find fascinating, and I love looking at how technology is influencing the way we interact with our financial institutions. I had never been to Turkey before and Jesse and I decided to extend the trip by a few days in order to explore this amazing country.
I haven’t fallen for a city this hard since Paris. Istanbul just completely blew me away. The hip vibe, the history, the food, the people, everything just called to me and I loved it so much I’ve already planned another trip in the fall with my parents. We cruised up the Bospherous, visited the bazaars and stood in awe of the great Mosques. I even tried a traditional Turkish Hammam, which was…a little weird, but I was into it.
We left Istanbul and headed to Cappadocia where we stayed in one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever been in. The Argos is an authentic cave village that has been converted into a hotel. When the owner found the property, it was being used as the city dump, with residents having moved away from hilly landscape to flatter ground. When they started restorations they uncovered something amazing: a two kilometer underground tunnel, and a monastery that was 1,500 years old! The property is nestled into the side of the mountain and overlooks the beautiful “fairy chimneys” that the region is well known for. The staff were unbelievably friendly, especially the adorable resort dog, Badem, who has his own instagram account!
We took a tour of some of the carved stone villages and lounged around sipping turkish Chai. It was wonderful.
More pictures can always be found here.
Paris: The Orient Express and Some Cafe Inspiration
Coming back to Paris, I visited an amazing exhibit at the Institute du Monde Arabe about the Orient Express – including the actual train itself! It was fun to walk through it, especially since we watched Murder on the Orient Express, the night before. It was especially relevant since we had just come back from Istanbul, the most iconic journey the train was known for.
I felt inspired and energized after my trip and I was ready to work on some new ideas, with my VP of Innovation, Pixel.
Other Updates: Artist’s Way, Novel News and Upcoming Travel
I am just about finished the Artist’s Way, though I am a little behind on posting about it. I can’t emphasize how helpful this process has been and if you’re feeling stuck or just want to get a creative boost, the program is stellar. You can read about my progress in detail here.
I finished my novel manuscript and sent it out to a structural editor. It was nerve wracking but I’m expecting feedback in the next few days!
May is gearing up to be busy, I’ll be heading to Ottawa, New York, DC for work and to Florence for a little weekend trip away. I have some fun announcements in the works, so stay tuned and come again soon!