Collecting quotes

Thanksgiving celebrations took place this past week across the United States, and if you have been taking a look at social media, you will probably have seen (in between Black Friday sale ads), a whole heap of inspirational quotes about gratitude.

(If you feel like reading a post about gratitude, here´s one from about a year ago)

Wooden scrabble letters forming the phrase "Say thank you"

My usual readers will have noticed that every now and then I like writing quotes in this blog, but not all the time, because even though I looooooove quotes (we could say I´m a quote collector), I get the impression that sometimes we get bombarded with so many of them that we end up overwhelmed, and then they no longer get our attention. That´s why I prefer to use them in small doses.

Today I do want to show you two quotes that are basically telling us the same thing, and they´re not the only ones by any means. It´s a message that´s been said a thousand times in a thousand different ways, precisely because it´s as true and as relevant nowadays as it was back in the ancient times of Greek philosophers:

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey

Banda sonora

If your life was a movie, what would its soundtrack be?

Vynil record playing in a record player

Today I remembered again a movie scene I watched a long time ago, which gave me a lot to think about back at the time. The story takes place at a university, and the camera alternatively takes the place of one of the two main characters, a boy and a girl, who are walking along the corridors, about to meet each other for the first time. They´re both wearing earphones, and listening to completely different things: the girl is listening to classical music, and the boy is listening to heavy metal or something similar. The moment arrives when they meet, they look at each other, and each of them perceives the other from their own point of view, with their own soundtrack in the background.

To me, this is a scene of incredible storytelling powers. Without needing to use words, it perfectly conveys how different the world is for each of the two main characters, and how differently they experience that exact same moment, with the same external surroundings...

Creo que todos hemos experimentado momentos en que una canción o una música en concreto nos ha hecho ver la vida de otra manera: tal vez nos ha alegrado el día, nos ha dado un chute extra de energía o nos ha traído buenos recuerdos. Otras veces, a lo mejor hemos aprovechado una música más triste o melancólica para permitirnos experimentar un ratito esas emociones. Lo mejor de todo es que podemos elegir en cada momento nuestra “banda sonora”, y no me refiero solamente a la música que escuchamos (que también, y qué suerte tan inmensa tenemos de que exista Spotify).

Nuestra “banda sonora” también son esos pensamientos que repetimos constantemente en nuestra cabeza sin darnos cuenta, esas historias que nos contamos a nosotros mismos, y que según cómo sean, puede que nos ayuden o que nos perjudiquen, que nos den energía o que nos la quiten. Por supuesto, no podemos controlar del todo los pensamientos que aparecen por nuestra mente, al igual que no podemos controlar qué canción suena en la radio. Pero sí que podemos estar atentos y cambiar de emisora cuando haga falta, saltando a otra cosa que nos guste más y nos resulte más util. Y también viene muy bien de vez en cuando editar nuestras “playlists”, y así aprovechar para quitar canciones viejas que ya no resuenan con nosotros, y añadir canciones nuevas que nos apetezca probar.

What do you think of this idea? What is your life's soundtrack at this very moment? And do you feel like keeping it, or is it maybe time for a change?

Untranslatable sentences: walking down memory lane

Hoy os traigo otra expresión de esas “intraducibles” que me encanta en inglés, porque me parece una metáfora muy chula: walking down memory lane, que en español sería algo así como “darse un paseo por la calle de los recuerdos”.

And that´s precisely what I´ve been doing this weekend: accompanying my friends in their own walk down memory lane, returning to places they hadn´t visited in many many years. It turned out to be a wonderful walk, both in the literal and figurative sense, and inevitably, we created new memories (thanks a million ladies!)

Stack of old black and white photos

In Spanish, the closest thing to memory lane that I can think of is something called the trunk of memories, from a famous song by Karina:

Searching through the trunk of memories
Any time in the past seems better than now.
Taking a look back is good sometimes,
Looking ahead is living without fear.

Another interesting metaphor, I think. And also during this weekend, I found myself searching inside that trunk, rescuing special moments with someone very close to my heart who passed away recently, and to whom I would have liked to be able to say goodbye.

Estoy de acuerdo en que de vez en cuando viene bien mirar un poquito hacia atrás y recordar con cariño las cosas que fueron, ya que al fin y al cabo, como decía my abuela, “aquellos tiempos trajeron éstos”. Aunque eso sí, tengamos cuidado de no regodearnos demasiado, que no nos impida aprovechar el presente…

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

Robert Brault


Today I'm writing this post from Dublin airport, I'm about to cross the pond to spend a couple of days with my American work colleagues.

Crossing the pond, interesting expression. It's one of the many metaphors we use every day.

Close up of a red flower floating on the surface of a pond

Según el diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua, una de las definiciones de metáfora es la “aplicación de una palabra o de una expresión a un objeto o a un concepto, al cual no denota literalmente, con el fin de sugerir una comparación (con otro objeto o concepto) y facilitar su comprensión”. Dicho así puede parecer un poco complicado, pero lo cierto es que nos pasamos el día utilizando metáforas, muchas veces sin darnos cuenta de que lo son, por ejemplo…

  • Me encontraba entre la espada y la pared
  • He was kicked out of there
  • I'm starving

And so many others.

Las metáforas nos ayudan a explicar situaciones de la vida de una manera fácil de entender, y no sólo funcionan hacia afuera, cuando hablamos con los demás, sino también hacia adentro, en nuestro diálogo interno. A veces nos resulta más fácil conectar con una emoción cuando “le damos forma” a través de una metáfora, e incluso podemos hasta dibujarla, si eso ayuda 🙂

And when we're facing a problem or a difficult situation, playing with metaphors can help us a lot in terms of changing perspective and looking for alternatives. For example, if a person is feeling that every time they try a particular thing they bang their head against a wall, they may even visualize that wall in their mind when they think in whatever it is they want to try, and get blocked. Following along with the metaphor, we could ask, where is that wall? What is it made of? How high is it? And what's behind it? In which other way could you get there? And then maybe this way, exploring ways to jump over the wall, or go around it, or even break it, this person may come to a realization and find solutions that they wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

También es muy interesante plantearnos metáforas al reflexionar sobre algún aspecto de nuestra vida, o de nuestro trabajo. Esto es algo que se hace a menudo en las metodologías Agile, en las retrospectivas de equipo: “si nuestras dos últimas semanas hubieran sido una película, ¿qué película sería, y por qué?” Una vez que añadimos ese toque de creatividad y humor a la conversación, es soprendente todo lo que puede sair de ahí.

So this week I'm proposing two things for you to do this week, if you feel like it: one is to listen with extra attention to see how many metaphors you find around you, and the other one is to find your own metaphor: if today you were a colour, which colour would you be?