Jakub, as his name is known in his native Poland, is living in the UK, organizes inspiring retreats in the Polish mountains, and is a devoted ambassador of Gratitude. He’s the author of the book The Gratitude Guide. He also happens to be a stand up guy who’s always looking to contribute to the greater good. Oh, and he looks a bit like a member of the cast of Vikings, whereby we hope to attract more female readers (see pictures below). You’ll find his answers to be very thoughtful.
What do you absolutely want to focus on today?
This is one of those questions I struggle with, because I don’t have a one-word answer for it. One of the ways I could answer is I focus on what I do at the moment and try to give it my best. So for me it is a very dynamic process.
Overall answer would be: I focus on being mindful and expressing myself as truly as I can in everything I do.
How are you going to create more value than you did yesterday?
Value depends on perception so it is very much determined by the observer. What I see as valuable other people might find silly. We can play a semantics game here for a while, but I am trying to improve myself as a human being, sometimes just for the art of improving and raising standards (by the way – I haven’t come across a convincing argument to lower one’s standards).
I believe in being authentic and I find a great value in being with authentic people. Work in progress… all of it.
What new approach can you try to come closer to your vision?
I am trying to implement reversing or trying something counter-intuitive. For example I was observing my cat recently. One of her claws got stuck in a piece of fabric and she instinctively started pulling her paw towards herself to free the claw – it kind of makes sense on the surface, but has the opposite effect, the claw was only getting deeper. She freed her claw the moment she pushed towards the fabric.
There are a lot more examples like that but we need to pause for a moment and think, which we don’t do anymore. We are so distracted that we don’t have a moment to observe and draw conclusions. This is part of the reason I refuse to be well informed (by news and other media). In a sense I do something counter-intuitive because we feel like we need to know. But getting hooked on the news and information significantly increases anxiety about things we cannot control anyway. I reduce my input to maintain clarity. Reverse to the obvious.
What are you excited about?
I think I am still very much a kid deep down. I get excited about so many things. Sometimes very small things… a scattered sunlight right after it’s rained, the complexity of an ants’ nest and big things – human connection, compassion, the universe… and I very often come to the conclusion that it is all the same on different levels – and that excites me as well.
What are you grateful for?
This was a mistake to ask this question because I can go on and on about gratitude.
Gratitude changed my life. Rediscovering it was one of those monumental events which change the course of the whole future. Without this emotion nothing would have changed and I would be the miserable bastard I was before.
I noticed some patterns emerging while practising gratitude every morning and decided to share it with others. After a while people began to ask me a lot of things regarding this subject and I discovered that I could actually share more insights, and of course people were giving me fantastic insights and sharing amazing discoveries of their own. After some time it turned out I had enough for a book… so I wrote a book (WARNING: Self-promotion! Haha!)
I try to be grateful for everything. Everything can be awesome and magnificent even the bad things, even the small things that we don’t notice anymore. It is just a matter of training and of conditioning oneself to see more and more things we can be grateful for.
What are the habits you are building right now?
Again I have to mention mindfulness. For me this creates a lot of other very beneficial emotional states like gratitude, compassion, atonement. Being mindful also allows me to relax and stop pushing. For example letting go of the attachment to the outcome I am trying to achieve and thus allowing the universe to unfold in its own way and “assist” me with my pursuits. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from good at it. I often get in the way trying to control too much and loose all the flow (I prefer to call it Wu Wei). Again, it’s a work in progress, learning, observing, failing then drawing conclusions and trying again.
Going back to mindfulness – my big and frequent downfall is drawing conclusions too quickly especially regarding other people. Being mindful helps me in that regard too. I take more time, allow myself to cool down if needed. I use patience to see how a situation unfolds. On a good day… I am still learning.
What’s something you did right?
I am not afraid of doing something wrong anymore.
Come up with some new ideas.
Not everybody can do that. Today there is so much pressure to be creative, be entrepreneurial, be this, be that… We should give ourselves a chance to be who we really want to be and explore our potential to realise this in the most authentic way possible. If some people are not creative they should not push themselves. When they reduce the pressure, who knows what can happen? When they reduce the pressure it might turn out they are very creative in some way or another.
What is a decision you are absolutely committed to?
I want to know myself and be able to express my essence in everything I do. Everything else follows this notion.
What have you learned recently?
That I have learnt a lot of unnecessary stuff like behaviours or ways of thinking. Getting rid of that brings me back to how I felt being a child. I have no idea where this is leading to but it certainly is interesting.
How do you want to feel today?
A person can control his or her emotions but we should also be aware of what we feel because this is amazing feedback we get about ourselves and the world around us. This brings us to being mindful and present in the moment again.
So I guess my answer is: “I want to be mindful, thus aware of my feelings.”
How do you want to treat others?
I treat others how I want to be treated. For example the booking page for the retreat you kindly shared, we spent 3 weeks hiking how not to do just a landing page with all the usual bullshit, you know, with all the amazing testimonials, discounts, countdown timers and so on. We wanted to be transparent, say what we have in our hearts and what we offer. That is it – honest and respectful… I think so, at least.
There it is. I think honesty is the way to go and as far as respect goes I have worked with people who I did not like (which was a mutual feeling) but because we were able to establish respect towards each other we could help one another when needed – that was amazing stuff and so many of our colleagues did not understand it. What is more, if we were working together we were quite efficient – respect, honesty and a task-oriented approach seemed to be more than enough to get the job done, while maintaining a very high standard.
How are you going to reward yourself today?
A real man does not eat honey, he chews bees!
I’m kidding – I don’t feel a need to reward myself, probably because I feel happy most of the time… maybe the word “content” is more appropriate.
Or maybe a reward system for an achievement requires a punishment system for any failure to be consistent? I am failing a lot in a sense but that is the process. I concentrate on the process instead of the end result. Success or failure – either way, there is learning to be done.
And I will have to go back to mindfulness – there is no reward in being except of the being itself..and it feels great!
What sort of people are you inviting into your life today?
Good, honest, respectful people who want to give some value they possess to other people. I meet amazing, fantastic and inspiring people nowadays!
What do you need?
I might have everything I need, I just need to learn how to utilise this abundance better.
Name a question you’d really like to see answered.
The first thing that pops into my head is: “Who am I?”
But it seems the universe is unfolding exactly how it should unfold so maybe a better question would be: “How can I be atuned to the universe on a deeper level?”
What does your ideal day look like?
A day when I am mindful is a great day!
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
I feel I evolve more when I have to work despite my limitations. It seems fear is needed in my life. I do things even though I am afraid. Fear is an emotion, as good as any other – it is there to tell us something, why not explore it and learn how to control it and maybe even use it to our advantage?
When you’re 100 years old and you look back over your life, what would make you think your time was well spent?
Ask me in 60 years. I have no idea who I will be when I’m 100 years old. I hope I will be able to live an honest life, learn from my mistakes and help other people reach their potential to live wonderful lives.
What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
Don’t give advice! (joking)
I am not sure really. This is almost like meddling with the time continuum. You change one event and a new future with alternative events is created. If I changed myself in the past would I be different now?
I think I would tell myself not to push so much, let the world unfold. But picturing myself when I was 20, I would most likely have disregarded this advice.