An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth | Coffee Time

Say hello to a brand new series on Distinctivemode! Previous to relaunching this blog, something I was never able to share was my love for reading. Yet it’s reading and learning that has been a major influence upon journeying with Distinctivemode, as well as developing my character. One of the first things that I did when I sat down to think about what I wanted to change, was find a way to incorporate these influences and affairs.

I came up with “Coffee Time.” Coffee time is a monthly opportunity to sit down, grab a coffee, and discuss what we have been learning. Personally, this will be a chance to review the books that I have read, the world affairs that have perhaps taught some valuable lessons or simply words that have inspired. It’s a time set aside to reflect upon the things that have captivated us, shaped us and enlightened us. For learning is valuable – discussing what we have learnt in forums even more so! It’s a chance to celebrate our influences!

Grab a coffee and let’s get started!

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This month I have journeyed through the awesome, inspiring and intellectual autobiography by Chris Hadfield titled, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.” To this day I have never read anything so informative, intriguing and influential (aside from the bible of course!). In summary the book walks us through Hadfield’s career as an astronaut: his first tip toe steps, his setbacks, space flights, and small neutral moments.

I want to share three points from this book that stand out completely as inspirational:

Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

  1. Dream’s are possible. This seems like such a cliche but immediately I can reassure that this in no such thing. Hadfield starts his book with a flashback to his childhood, 1969, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. From that moment, 9 year old Chris Hadfield set his heart upon becoming an astronaut. However from day one he knew that it wouldn’t be easy – he never spoke a word about this dream to anyone knowing that he wouldn’t be taken seriously at such a young age. Instead he set his mind upon doing whatever he thought may prepare him for space should the opportunity arise. This started small, by simply asking, “would an astronaut eat vegetables or potato chips? Sleep in late or get up early to read a book?” later leading to pilot training and a degree in mechanical engineering. He sweated the small stuff – just in case. When the opportunity did arrive, he was as prepared as he could be, providing him with the very best chances – and he made it! It took years of “just in-case” preparation, but he succeeded. Reading this has motivated me to never waste a moment, to constantly question and to always be looking to learn more! Then I may be ready to run at all the opportunities and adventures that present themselves in the future!
  2. Aim to be a zero. Throughout his book, Hadfield refers to a personality scale, centred around a neutral. Simply put, you can either be a -1, 0 or +1. The minus one is somebody who causes setbacks, brings negativity and who is simply no use to a task in hand. The plus one is everybody’s goal however in reality, those who make themselves known as a +1 genius, contributing massively and standing as most important, often end up being seen as a -1. Nobody likes a self-obsessed personality. Zero however, is completely neutral. They neither add to a situation nor detract. They balance the scales. For example in space, a zero astronaut neither mistakenly reduces progress, nor acts arrogantly, controlling all advances. Effectively a humble zero will be seen as a plus one – but only because they have aimed to be a zero. This lesson has humbled me to aim to be zero in all that I do.
  3. Coming down the ladder – reading this book unleashed such a passion and interest into space exploration! There is a whole universe out there full of stars, galaxies and wonder. Reading about Hadfield’s experiences and the small quirky changes to life in the ISS fascinated me greatly. So much so that I found myself dreaming of going to space myself – as a British Woman with poor eyesight and no flying skills/scientific degree what so ever, I have extremely slim chances! But as he concludes his autobiography, Hadfield discusses his retirement. As an astronaut he found his job roles changing often, and more often than not, this involved climbing down the ladder, rather than up. Something Hadfield mentioned towards the end of his book, is that he had to learn that his time in space was over and that he had now accomplished his dream. But that didn’t mean that he should be fearing, “what if that was all there is?” It really made me think – we may not have the same once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as everybody else, but there is always joy in the small things! I will never get to space myself but I can still fuel such an interest through books, research and artistic exploration! One day like Hadfield, I’ll unknowingly experience the best of my days. That doesn’t mean the rest of my life will no longer be valuable  – every moment is precious!

I cannot recommend this book enough! If you want a little motivation to run at your dreams, some tips on achieving success or simply an insight into what life in space is really like – from toilets, to research, to spacewalks – then this book is definitely for you! You wont be disappointed!

I hope you enjoyed the first of our Coffee Time explorations.

What have you been reading, learning or thinking about this month? Let’s discuss below!

Eleanor ♥

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