Get Uncomfortable

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Recently, I’ve found myself in positions I’d really rather not be in. This goes for work life, day to day tasks and personal life. Being uncomfortable can be absolutely nerve-wracking for some people, and that’s actually a good thing! Some people may strongly disagree, but I’ll do my best to explain what I’m getting at here with a few short examples.

The other day, I decided to purchase a book. It’s called The Real Book and it has a collection of jazz standards that musicians should really give themselves time to learn. I’ve been playing guitar for 10 years this year and have branched out into other instruments. I’ve done 4 years of formal music school and played many gigs both domestic and international. Some people would consider me a very confident musician, but here’s where all that starts to trail off into something else. I went through a few of the standards and found out two things. One: I really enjoy playing the jazz standards I can play and two: there are a lot of chords in this god damn book that make me so frustrated and uneasy- not to mention all of these notes that I can’t sight read.

This makes me extremely uncomfortable. I’ve been playing music for 10 years and for some reason I’m all of a sudden stumped by a bunch of chords? Surely if I can pick up a metal song by ear within an hour I should be able to play jazzy chord progressions. Wrong.

This discomfort gives me the drive to want to move forward with my musicianship and mature as one. The unfortunate thing is that there are so many of us that take this feeling of discomfort and try to push it away and not use it to better themselves. If you’re comfortable then you’re in routine. If you’re in routine you’re not moving forward, and if you’re not moving forward then where are you? At the exact same place you were when you started to get comfortable. That feeling of being uncomfortable is your friend. Why should we settle for stagnation when we can move forward at the cost of a bit of stress?

I invited a friend of mine over a few hours before a gig. We played jazz standards. There was a lot I didn’t understand and a lot he understood. He tried to get me to play some funky chords and show me all kinds of chord replacements. I felt like an idiot for a split-second and then realized that I was no idiot. I’ve just been in my comfortable pentatonic solo power chord chug chug box for so long that I was unhappy with the fact that I couldn’t quite grasp fully what he was talking about. I took that feeling of being uncomfortable and did my best to turn it into energy to focus on learning and I did a pretty good job of keeping up with the jazz man. By the time I went up on stage to play classic rock, I felt like it was absolutely no problem at all.

There are a lot of uneasy feelings that I deal with every now and again. I used to have a tendency to push them to the back of my head and let them just sit there. Whenever I would encounter a situation that would call on one of those uneasy feelings, I’d panic and bail. I never really dealt with those uneasy emotions until I finally said stop. Over time, I’ve been forcing myself to just deal with these situations. Running away will just keep me from growing as a human being and that’s the last thing I want to do. My new years resolution is always to be better today than I was yesterday. How can I follow through with that without being uncomfortable every now and then? I can’t. So I embrace these feelings of discomfort and power through uncomfortable situations. The reward? I’ve gained a new skill. I can now deal with that problem when it comes up again and it will be easier next time. I didn’t know how to do said thing. I got uncomfortable at the thought of making a mistake. I made mistakes. I learned to do said thing. Problem solved.

Go out there and get uncomfortable. Okay, maybe not willingly, but do something you’ve been afraid to do. Say something you’ve been wanting  to say, but say it without trying to hurt people. Pick up that instrument you’ve been wanting to learn. Sing in the shower even though people said you can’t sing and for the sake of everyone on the planet, do it for no one other than yourself.

Yoga – My experience so far

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So it’s been around 6 or 7 days since I started following a yoga routine that I do daily. I’ve been very fond of yoga poses for two years now and have used many of them to give me a quick fix with any tension I had in my body. I never could say though that I had practiced yoga. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Yoga is not a joke. I consider myself to be in very good shape, and I’d like to think of myself as flexible in a practical way. After practicing yoga daily for around a week or so- I can’t say I’m flexible. A flexibility routine winds me. The deep stretches burn (in the good way) and when I’m through with the routine, I’m a sweaty mess. Albeit a very happy sweaty mess. There’s something about stretching your body to the point of total relaxation that deepens your connection with yourself. When you’re in the final corpse pose of the session you feel tired, but euphoric and refreshed. The fun starts when we get into strength and balance routines. Somehow I have not yet managed to fall flat onto my face during these routines, but boy do my muscles burn. A 30 minute intermediate strength session really takes a toll on the body and you feel like you had a proper work out.

Yoga is deeply relaxing. This is usually obvious to some people before the actually do a proper routine. Even during high intensity yoga sessions you come out relaxed. So doing a routine built on a low-intensity relaxation scheme should be deeply relaxing, right? I can give that a definite yes. I do two sessions a day. One workout session sometime during the day (I make sure it’s been at least two hours since I last ate before I start) and one during the night to stretch out and relax. I’ve been sleeping better every night. The tension we build up in our bodies during daily life is something we need to get rid of before we crawl up into bed and drift of to dream land. It usually takes me two hours to fall asleep, but now I knock out much earlier and wake up more refreshed and in a better mood. Even a 10 minute session works wonders for your physical and mental health.

Yoga teaches you to listen to your body. A vital part of yoga is listening to your body whilst you’re going through a routine. A friend of mine said that if you’re in a certain pose and you can’t breathe down into your belly- you’re over-stretching. If you don’t listen to what your body is telling you when you’re practicing yoga, you will definitely end up hurting yourself in the process. Here’s the beautiful part though. The poses are perfect. They are made for our bodies and help us align ourselves so we can reach balance. If you listen to your body rather than your ego whilst practicing yoga then you will never do harm to yourself. An added bonus of this is that your body starts to tell you what food you need during the day. I’ve found that my body all of a sudden wants more fruit in its diet and that’s not a problem anymore. I happily eat more fruit now and less junk (junk food is definitely still in my diet though, this is a slow process).

Yoga teaches you self-discipline and patience. Have you even tried to hold a half-moon pose fora minute? If you have and succeeded then give yourself a huge hug. Some of these poses and routines require so much self discipline to hold. If you don’t have patience, you sure as hell will get some with yoga practice. Medidative yoga helps a lot here. Laying down in corpse and watching your thoughts from a distance for 20 minutes without a single body movement requires discipline. You can bring this into every day life and I promise you will be a better person afterwards.

Everyone should practice yoga. From age 0 until age dead. Either for a good workout or just even a few low intensity poses will do wonders for your physical and mental health. Your days will be better. You will be happier. You’ll eat better and you’ll be more thankful for everything that happens to you. The more good you do to yourself, the better you will be to others and that’s just another way to spread out any positive energy that we can muster into a world that can seem rather grey every now and then. Don’t buy a mat. You don’t have to buy anything other than a yoga book, an app or classes with a guru. Use your bed covers if you have to and use old clothes if you have to. Do yoga naked if that makes you feel good. Yoga is so readily accessible now and days that you can even start right now.

Yes right now. Go on, I’ll watch.

Or not.

I’ll just go and do a routine now, feel free to join.

Smile

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Some people say that we use more muscles to frown rather than smile. Some people say the exact opposite. Either way I’d say a smile is always the better option. A smile in extreme cases can save people’s lives. A smile can not only brighten another person’s day, but it can also brighten yours. Yes, the picture of my dog (Pjakkur) was put up there in hopes of making you crack a smile!

The importance of smiling is often over-looked in our society that chooses to be rather non-expresive from what I’ve observed. Appearing aloof or non-chalant seems to be trending these days so we can portray ourselves as cool. That’s not cool. Why would we choose to be expressionless and try to demonstrate lack of emotion when we are very emotional beings. Why should we try to suffocate our emotions, especially the postive ones, by sealing them in an air-tight jar and putting them up on a shelf somewhere far back in our heads.

I remember reading an article that says even forcing a smile produces endorphines causing your mood to tip over into a more positive state. Now if that’s not the case I’d say it doesn’t really matter. Why? Even if it’s a placebo effect and you’re not producing any endorphines, but you feel better, then forcing a smile should be good for you. As a person who believes in the importance of expressing your emotions truly this may seem contradicting, but if we can make ourselves feel better just by moving our facial muscles then I’d say that making a concious effort to smile, even when you’re down, is a wonderful tool in our arsenal that we should use more often.

Smiling to others encourages comfort in your presence. I’m not sure about the majority, but I know for sure that when I’m talking to a person that smiles a lot I feel a lot more comfortable during the conversation. I appreciate it when strangers walk by me and smile as they say, “Good day!” or even a simple “Hello!”. Just by doing that they spread out positive energy and therefore they recieve positive energy back. Don’t go staring at people with a wide toothy grin on your face though. The intention behind the smile is something everyone can read very easily, and I’m pretty sure a lot of us woud feel uncomfortable if a stranger was staring at us with a smile on his/her face.

If we go a bit off track for just a moment. Energy is a give and take system. The energy you give is more often the energy you will recieve back. In most cases, if you put out positivity you will recieve postivity. Same goes for negativity. It gets even better when negative energy is taken and turned into positivity. Someone scowls at you and in return recieves a smile from you. Many things can happen here. Sometime the person sits up with the negative energy because you decided not to take any part in it. Sometimes that negativity disappears due to the fact that you reacted with positivty. Either way, in a battle of the forces, the positive force is always the victor.

I’m sure everyone has a reason to smile. The fact that you woke up this morning is enough to justify a smile, not that a smile needs any justification. That first sip of coffee. The food you’re eating. The story that stranger on the bus told you. All reasons to smile. When we start looking at what we have to smile about, everything that we want to pout over suddenly disappears without a moment’s notice.

So do me a favour. Smile more often. Express your happiness, and even if you aren’t happy right this moment then that’s ok. You don’t have to smile right this moment, or all the time as a matter of fact. Just try to make a habbit of smiling. In the long run you won’t regret it. If the article about wrinkles and frowning is true then you have even more reason to show us that pretty smile. Remember to always express your emotions truly and have a great day.

This song always makes me smile. There’s something about whistling that just makes me happy.

Slow Down

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We need to slow the hell down guys. This car is doing 200km/h and we’re burning up fuel and engine oil at an astounding rate. I mean come on, if you’d just drive slower then you won’t be putting yourself and others at risk. You’ll arrive at your destination safe and sound even though it might take a little longer.

Ok enough with story time. What I’m trying to say is- we need to slow down in daily life. This instant gratification society that we live in today is putting so much stress on us that we can barely function anymore. Your phone won’t load the page right away? Louis C.K. said, “Just give it a fucking minute! It’s going to outer space! Gosh!”. When you think about the distance that information travels these days- you become a bit more patient.

Food isn’t ready right now? Trust me, if you cook the chicken a little bit longer then you’ll be in for a salmonella free and tender meal.

What about all those tasks piled up on your desk? You have a lot of deadlines to meet and a lot of work to do. Why not just take it easily and finish what you’re able to without producing so much cortisol that your body decides to eat itself since you haven’t given it any fuel through the day.

Slowing down and looking at things one at a time can be so beneficial to our mental and physical health. I’m writing this because that’s something I need to remind myself everyday. As a musician with a full-time job and responsibilities to fulfill you can imagine I have a lot on my hands. I’ve noticed that when I’ve stopped trying to multi-task all the time and finish what I can, when I can, I end up putting in a much better effort which results in a better product.

The best way to learn a song is to play it slow. When you first learn to ride a bike you do it slowly. You drove slow during your test and you took your time preparing that meal you made for someone special. In most cases, the result was that you either learned that song note for note, you learned to ride that bike, you passed your driving test and the meal was delicious. Why not keep up a good habit or atleast make a habit of slowing down.

You might say, “Every minute counts!” or “Life is short!”. That’s all true, but why try to do everything as fast as possible only to have to come back to the task later to do it properly? That sounds like time wasted to me. We should be maximizing our efforts in what we are doing so we don’t have to come back to it later and therefore waste time. Again, as I write this I realize that I need to slow the hell down myself.

You don’t need to be worried. Your barber can wait for a moment or two. I’m sure he/she will be forgiving that you misplaced your car keys which is what made you late for your haircut. Not only that, but because you slowed down for a moment you were able retrace your steps and figure out where you left those car keys.

Make a concious effort to slow down and be patient. You’ll smile a lot more and develop discipline that we so sorely need these days.

Music and Emotion

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Music. It’s become something we play in the background today. We sort of half listen to what’s on our radios or phones and form strong opinions on what falls under good and bad music. Sounds a bit silly, right?

As a passionate musician I listen to a lot of music. For the last year or so hip-hop and David Bowie have taken over my library which was once over-run by rock/metal music. Now when I go back to rock/metal I’ve noticed a change in taste. I’ve changed as a person in the last two years and noticed what that’s done to my music taste. I prefer something a bit more calm most of the time, and this progression peaked my curiosity.

When we’re sad we play sad songs. We put on upbeat songs when we’re getting ready to go out to a party. Some people put smooth jazz on in the mornings to wake up, whereas others prefer something more a long the lines of Pantera to wake up during the day. Not only does our current emotional state jurisdict what we want to listen to, but the feeling of the song and the way we interpret it aswell.

One of my favorite songs is Farewell by Boris. That song means a lot to me. Back in the day I used to listen to that song when I felt sad, but as I matured I started to listen to that song to feel happy. Now, a lot of people will disagree and say it’s a emotionaly heavy song, and it is. That’s why it makes me so happy. I love the fact that a 3-piece band from Japan can make me feel such a strong emotional reaction with a 7-minute song. A so

This is the reason why we get so defensive about our musical tastes. Music, for many, talks to our soul and it has an effect on us. We get very emotional over various songs. Tears of joy and sorrow fall for the same song. Feelings of ecstasy and despair can fill us by listening to a 3 minute beat. That is beautiful.

Have you listened to a sad song when you were down, felt you could relate to the musician and then felt better when you were through listening to it? I’m sure you have and doing so is such a healthy response to dealing with sadness. If not, then try it sometime. Or just do whatever works for you!

What about a happy song when you’re overjoyed? Listening to a happy song keeps your motivation going and your endorphins high. A tight groove is the best pick me up I’d say.

Take the time to do as we did years a go. Sit down in front of a good pair of speakers, put an album on and just listen. Pay attention to the lyrics, melodies and beats coming out of the tweeters and woofer. Let the emotion come in and then say goodbye to it when the song is over.

Thank You

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Have you ever woke up and the first thing you said was, “Thank you”? I ask people this question and usually I get a “No.” or “Well, I don’t really know, haven’t thought about it”. I’m not sure what your answer is, but mine is that I have done so and try to remember to do so every morning.

Thank you has replaced “I’m sorry” in my vocabulary. I saw a post on the internet some time ago, on 9gag if I recall correctly, describing how nobody wants to hear I’m sorry all the time. An example from said comic was, “Instead of saying I’m sorry for being such a drag. Say thank you for spending time to me”. Take anything negative and turn it into something positive. Showing gratitude to people will put smiles on their faces and in return you will be paid in happiness. Everyone enjoys gratitude. That present you gave to a friend. He was grateful and expressed his gratitude. You got a shot of those endorphins that we love so much and felt great. You put out some positive energy and got paid in it.

Saying thank you is so important for us mentally and spiritually. Being thankful for whatever reason is a great way to start your pursuit of happiness. Even if it isn’t expressed in the presence of others. I wrote in my last blog post that I was thankful for the sun, and I truly am. We have so much to be thankful for even if we can’t touch what we have. We have people’s smiles, air to breathe, life to live and songs to sing. Everything we experience is something we can be thankful for and the more thankful you are the happier you will be. I guarantee it.

If we go back to the first paragraph we can now see the value of starting the day off with gratitude. Saying thank you when you wake up is a great way to send out good vibes and start the day off right. Being grateful that you woke up to experience another day kickstarts the system and prepares you for the day to come. Any hardships that you may encounter through the day suddenly seem so much easier to deal with, and in a world where stress is becoming a real problem; any help is appreciated.

So do me a favor. Try saying thank you when you wake up tomorrow. Try to make it a part of your morning ritual. It can be hard at first, but I know you can do it. Make a concious effort to draw in positivity so you can spread it out to others. It’s just like the hydrogical cycle.

Water is in ground.

Water evaporates.

Water becomes cloud.

Cloud starts to rain water back down on to the ground, and then the cycle repeats itself. See, even rainy days are something to be thankful for.

Sunrise

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In Iceland we don’t really get any sun during the winter months. Some people think that’s dreadful and others aren’t too bothered by it. When I lived in the Bahamas there was no shortage of sun so you’d think I’d be affected by the sunless winters. Truth be told it does have some effect on me, but I don’t get any sort of seasonal depression.

It does make me curious though. Going for such a long time without the sun, when you think about it, is tough in many aspects of life. Just think about what the sun does for us. Without it we have no food, no water, no summer hikes or picnics and the absolute worst, no natural Vitamin D or sunburn! Our beautiful sun has been taken away from us and the only thing we can do is to go somewhere else on the planet to sneak a peak of it or wait until late January or early February for it’s return.

Here’s the thing though. I was used to having the sun all year around way back when and I took it for granted. I notice that during the winter months I’m more drowsy and tend to keep at home where it’s warm and cozy with enough artificial light to keep my day bright. Sure, I practice more on my instruments and go more often to the gym, but I do tend to miss the summer weather. Not so much as to have a bad effect on my mood, but enough to look forward to the spring months. This lack of sunlight has made me appreciate not only the sun a lot more, but nature as well and what it does for the community. We have sun pancakes to celebrate it’s return and during the summer; the towns are filled with life and people are smiling and happy. People start eating healthier and feeling healthier when the sun comes back and that makes me happy. I think we should take a moment to appreciate something that we use daily without giving too much notice too. Thank you Sun, for giving us enjoyment, life and beautiful summer tans.

Positive Energy

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A friend of mind called me the other day. I really enjoy talking to him because he has such a good vibe about him. What he has to say is always interesting. You can always learn something about life when you talk to him and during our last phone conversation we broached the topic of positive energy.

Now we didn’t hang on said topic for too long, but it got me thinking. During the conversation he told me how he had been talking to a friend of his who had been talking about a friend of said friend (are we on the same page here?). Now during said conversation there was a misunderstanding and my friend thought, if I remember correctly, that his friend was talking about my friend’s friend, but he was actually talking about his own friend. Jeeze, I’m even getting confused whilst writing about this. Either way there was a whole funny misunderstanding about it and my friend managed to make said friend burst into laughter. As he was telling me this story I started to laugh. He then told me that making me and his friend laugh was a great thing not only for us, but for him aswell. Why? He was spreading positive energy and therefore putting out good vibes into the world. Doing so doesn’t only fill us with positive energy it also filled him with positive energy.

That got me thinking. Spreading out positive energy not only for the benefit of others, but for yourself aswell. Think about it. Making people smile and laugh, personally, fills me with joy. I love to see people smile and get a lot out of it. Have you ever told a joke, made a fool of yourself or even smiled to another person and their reaction was a smile or laughter? I’m sure it made you feel great. Shouldn’t we all try to strive to atleast make one person smile a day just for the benefit of our own mental health?

Now I’m not saying that you should become a stand-up comedian and try and force a smile on someone, but making a concious effort to spread out positive energy in any way possible; even if no one is around to witness the act is a beautiful thing that anyone can accomplish once a day. Even if you managed to laugh at your own joke you’re still spreading out the good vibes, and with that I wish you a happy day!

Here’s a song that always manages to put a smile on my face.

Why?

First blog posts. No wait, scratch that. First posts on any form of the internet are always meant to be introductory. I’ll give it a shot. Some of you may already know who I am, most of you don’t though. I’m Daníel. A musician at heart that has decided to dabble into writing about his thoughts and publishing them for everyone to see.

If you would ask me why I’ve decided to add hobbyist writing to my repertoire of things that fill my days; I could honestly not answer you with a simple answer. I’ve always wanted to give writing a shot and where better to start than a blog?

What can you expect to see from this blog? In all honesty I can’t be certain as to where I’m going to be heading with this blog. I’ll be writing mostly about people’s behaviour, our inner self, spirituality alongside music that I create and enjoy. As for how frequently I’ll be writing, that’s a mystery that will be solved later down the road when I get my footing in this writing business.

As for the melody part of the blog. Here’s what I’m currently listening too. Lo-Fi hip-hop makes me smile. I hope it makes you smile too.