Poland, bouldering and yoga – a lesson on emotions

I had planned to fly to Poland to take a short vacation there last week. On the eve of my departure, Lufthansa gave notice that due to their pilots’ striking my flight was cancelled. The same evening I looked for alternative flights but couldn’t find any reasonably priced ones that would have allowed to spend enough time in Poland before the return flight. I decided to seize Lufthansa’s offer of cancelling my flights and having the full ticket price remunerated.

Having received the news on the cancellation I was disappointed after anticipating the trip for a couple of months. On the same day as the flight to Poland was cancelled, I went bouldering with my colleagues in a nearby hall. For me it was the first time and I was immediately fascinated. After the bouldering I searched for the alternative flights but couldn’t find any. I then decided to sign up for a basic course on bouldering and to visit the hall two times during my vacation. Somehow this made the disappointment go away, which was kind of strange. I wouldn’t have thought that bouldering in my home town would be equal to traveling to Poland and spending a long weekend there. Coincidentally, I quickly learned that they actually were and that there was a simple explanation to that.

Why do you feel that way?

Last Saturday, instead of being in Poland, I went to the regular yoga class. Our yoga teacher told us about how we should always probe our feelings and the reasons behind them. For example, if your spouse comes home from work and sits at the dinner table and just eats without saying a word, you might get upset. If you asked yourself for the reason, you might answer yourself that receiving no thanks from your spouse for the prepared dinner makes you feel bad. You might also find that saying this aloud helps no just release your bad feeling, but might also fix the problem: your spouse might realize the effort you have put in and thank you for it.

Instead of immediately blasting your bad feelings at your spouse, you might say that not receiving any recognition for your efforts makes you feel bad. Arguably this is more efficient communication and gets to the root of your feelings. This probing also helps you get better in touch with your emotions and their causes.

During the yoga lesson I quickly realized why I had been hardly upset by the cancellation of my flight. First I asked myself, why I had wanted to travel to Poland in the first place. The answer was: to try something new, to get out of the rut. Second I asked myself, why I was so keen on getting more into bouldering. The answer: to try something new, to get out of the rut. So obviously, although my vacation in Poland did not take place, the ultimate goal of trying something new was realized in bouldering. Also, as I found bouldering to be something I want to do more, it should provide something new on the long-term.

From business consulting to emotions

Probably all business consultants and many industry managers know the so called “five times why” -method that dates back to the 1950’s Toyota and Taiichi Ohno. The method is known for its application in business and engineering problems, but I have never heard of it being applied to human emotions, which is kind of strange. The method on its own is not dependent on any problem domain, but lends itself to any problem where asking ‘why’ is sensible. As my yoga teacher made me realize, we should ask ourselves ‘why’ when feeling a certain emotion. The answer might help us understand what we are missing, what needs to be fixed and how to communicate this to others.

The root cause of our feelings, be they good or bad, might be caused by people around us, our wanting something or any other reason. Whatever the reason, by asking ourselves “Why do I feel this way?”, we can find that reason and act upon it. If we ask ourselves why we are happy in a given moment, we are one step closer to finding the keys to our own happiness.