Discover more from Un-Rush by Claudia Brose
3 Brilliant Lessons To Maximize Your Life Potential
Learn and adapt from the old Romans – or modern people from Cologne
What we can learn from the people of Cologne on how we can live and work less stressed, more satisfied, and as productive as ever – insight not so far removed from ancient Roman philosophies
Don’t we sometimes look to other cultures or historical figures to see what we can learn from their way of living and possibly apply to our lives? The way of the samurai, the everyday togetherness of the Scandinavian lifestyle hygge, or the thinking patterns of the Greek philosophers.
People sometimes ask me why is it that I am usually calm, in a good mood, see the bright side of things, and often find some positive aspects in not-such-great situations. I think I found the secret.
The secret might be that I am from Cologne (Germany).
So let me share some valuable lifestyle aspects of my culture with you - realizing how similar some of the descriptions of Cologne people are compared to the insights and lessons we learn from ancient philosophers.
The Roman Roots
There is hype about Marcus Aurelius and his brilliant thoughts on how to conquer life. And I am one of Marc’s fans. But hey, no wonder! We have the same roots! Namely, the Roman Empire.
Marc Aurelius (who we consider today a stoic philosopher) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and my city of Cologne was founded in 50 AD as the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, a city under Roman law. We joke in Cologne that we (used to be) the most northern Italian city in history, hence being more laid back and knowing how to enjoy life.
City developers to this day hate having to construct something in Cologne because every time they start digging, they hit on some ancient Roman masonry or mosaic that first needs inspection and protection. And as a child, you learn early on that the Romans had a good time - and the Cologne native can definitely relate to that.
Let’s dig into modern insights from the people of Cologne on how to live a good and happy life that is not so different from the insights we try to adapt from ancient Roman guys.
It Comes As It Comes
There are things that are as they are, and you cannot change them. But you can change how you perceive them (next paragraph on the power of perspective) and you can focus on what you CAN change.
Stupid, annoying, time-wasting stuff happens all the time around us. Cologne people just live by their set of 11 self-proclaimed “rules” (the Cologne Constitution), one of which says It Comes As It Comes – and you cannot change it. And the next one after that says: in the end, it always turned out well.
Or, ss Ryan Holiday explains from the Stoics, who have the attitude: that there are things that are up to us, what is not up to us. Up to us are emotions, judgments, creativity, perspective, attitude, desires, and decisions.
Lesson to take with you:
You don’t have to see every dilemma as a super drama. Accept the things you can’t change, let them go, and focus on the stuff you actually have in your hands to change.
The Power Of Perspective
A typical waiter in a Cologne pub is unfriendly and in a bad mood – but funny at the same time. It’s like a show, they say things straight up and it’s part of the game being in a typical Cologne brewery pub.
Here is the thing, if others are in a bad mood that doesn’t mean you have to be in a bad mood. In Cologne we outsource moodiness. This is one of the many ways Cologne people manage to go through life in a good mood.
It is all a question of perspective. You look at a situation from a new angle.
You are stuck in a traffic jam? This is a free break for some reflection time. Does your partner annoy you? Well, at least you have a partner, your single friend might wish she had one. Your business negotiation went down the toilet? Probably because there is a better business opportunity waiting for you, but you haven’t seen it yet. It’s just around the corner waiting for you. That is not positive thinking. Call it Cologne thinking.
The stoics say it is not about ignoring the problem, annoyance, or disappointment. It is about our choice of how we look at things. And with that, you will find solutions you hadn’t thought of before.
Lesson to take with you:
Adapt the Cologne Thinking method and realize that half the stuff you want to get upset about is a waste of energy. It is your choice how you look at an unpleasant or problematic situation. Bring some humor in. And that changes the power over your mind and mood.
If Everyone Is Fine, I'm Fine Too
In Cologne, we have a simple formula we believe in. If everyone is fine, I'm fine too.
This is the opposite of the popular, but not really well-working, formula: when everyone thinks of themselves, everyone is thought of. Nope. Sorry.
Cologne people are empathetic and care for each other. Because alone you only get to a certain point. You give your attention without expecting something in return. You know each other, and you help each other. And if you don't know each other, you still help each other. Because someone you know will know you and at some point, you will get your share of support.
Here is another supporting thought by Coach George Raveling: "As positive difference-makers and agents of change, we are in the business of managing and caring for people. No matter our industry and craft, we have the unique responsibility to lead ourselves and others with compassion each day. It is important that we approach our efforts from a mindset of WE instead of ME."
Lesson to take with you:
Be an example. If you are kind and care for others, you not only feel better yourself and lift up the other person, but you are also a role model for the world around you – who will hopefully get the hint that if everyone is fine, they are in good shape too.
More Timeless Art of Making Your Life Less Complicated - Insights you can learn from Cologne people - might follow.