2020 was my year! … in Retrospective
EVERY person reading this article faces at least a couple of personal or professional challenges during their lifetime. Be it learning a new language, moving to a new city, making new friends, learning a new technology, learning processes for a new job role or spending 3 months in lockdown due to Covid-19 in an unfamiliar city.
An overwhelming list, isn’t it?
When I decided to move to Lisbon my life gave me a gift: A wonderful combination of all the above challenges with a ribbon tied on top. And of course, my mind and body were not ready, so I had to improvise.
Brain and body power must be working in optimum conditions to face any challenge coming on our way. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy ride, so my mindset was ready, or at least I thought so.
Having to face many challenges simultaneously evokes numerous emotions and occupies a lot of room in one’s head, and eventually turns into a slow-simmering soup on the back burner of headaches, insomnia and anxiety. This turned me into one Grumpy Smurf.
Those personal and professional challenges have driven me to adopt a different mindset and habits in my life that I still follow to this day and consider them as the best thing that I’ve ever discovered. I call it: The Formula of Happiness.
This is a case of a journey of the self, involving several months of intense trial and error testing that may not work for everyone.
1. Foremost, SLEEP MATTERS. This is what worked for me, I started by controlling my caffeine intake. By researching about optimum caffeine levels for my body weight and age – a good opportunity for a geek like me to well… geek out, yes? I ended up learning a lot about brewing coffee techniques and coffee quality. This led to a change of habit: having coffee in the mornings and tea in the afternoons.
2. Secondly, I researched about the hormones that make you feel happy and how I could naturally “produce” them to have as many happy moments as possible. These magical hormones are dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. Realizing that doing certain activities will free those chemicals in your brain was life-changing.
- Exercising regularly, I now work out regularly (30-40 min, 4 to 5 times per week) using just my body weight and sometimes play Padel with Cisco friends or run 5k. Endorphin is freed with exercise.
- Socializing makes part of this too (virtually also counts!). I call family, friends and co-workers more often now. Fellow Cisconians made this easy since the Cisco family feels like family when yours is far away. I could feel the work climate making a difference every day.
- Eating healthy is one of those cliché topics but it’s very true – those hormones are released differently according to the food you eat. This was quickly adopted at the beginning of my journey and led me to research on how my body feels after eating certain foods. This was also boosted by Cisco-led activities such as the recent Well-being Week and CiscOlympics. I’m allowing myself to cheat meals sometimes, especially during the Cooking Contest that Cisco organized last December.
After putting these into practice, I felt way better, but still had a lot of hostile emotions that eventually appeared, and that endless twister was fogging my thoughts, capacity of analysis, and disabling me to enjoy my life, so there was one more change to be done:
3. You must be thinking “please don’t say meditate, please!” But here it is – YES. MEDITATE! It has racked up a bad reputation but is in fact super nice. There are many types of meditation and techniques, including yoga, but the guided meditation worked best for me. This was an entry-level basic course that helped me learn how to recognize malefic patterns, hence being able to “control” my mind, and consciously stepping out of the twister, and working out on whatever caused it analytically. This was THE PERK I needed in my life.
I had the opportunity to join a couple of Virtual Yoga sessions with colleagues through Webex for the Pavelka Wellbeing week and this definitely helped to change the panorama – they brought peace where a storm was.
Having discovered all this, one of the hardest things to achieve was incorporating all of these habits into my everyday life, especially exercise. But we are animals of habits and discipline and, after roughly “21 days”, I was on track to become Alejandro v2.0.
Cisco culture and employee activities were always present with positive influence over my journey.
It’s not a secret that 2020 was hard for all of us collectively. And yet here we are stronger than ever, with ourselves and the near and dear ones around us, both personally and professionally.
Looking back in retrospective, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned so far, and wholeheartedly prefer staying disciplined and continuing to refine my formula and create happiness for myself and my loved ones. I am sure that you can discover how to create happiness for yourself and your own custom Formula of Happiness.
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