motivation/inspirationFocus on the small things in life that can make life a bit easier.

Recently I read the blog of The Thesis Whisperer. In this blog, Inger Mewburn ponders why we are all so tired. And how she noticed that more PhD students don’t show up at training sessions or courses. That it seems that the social aspect of PhD life seems to deteriorate. Life seems to be difficult with so many existing crises.

I also notice the lack of reactions to my emails and the diminished numbers of PhD students that enrol for training or courses. Many of the PhD students I am in contact with, are quite confused.

Life can be more difficult at times. What could help is to focus on the small things you can do to make everything a bit easier.

The Thesis Whisperer’s tips

Some suggestions from the Thesis Whisperer

  • First, check with a medical professional to figure out your lack of sleep. If that is all okay: ‘tell tiredness to just fuck off!’
  • Stay in touch with your creativity, like writing. Or cooperating with others can give you a boost of energy.
  • Have less exposure to social media.
  • Take action wherever you can. Do you want to stand up against climate change: plant a tree, find others with the same interest, take action.

Susan Cain’s tip

Recently I received Susan Cain’s newsletter. I don’t recall registering for her newsletter, but she shared a poem from Danusha Lameris from her book Bonfire Opera.

I was touched.

Small Kindnesses


I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk

down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs

to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you’’

When someone sneezes, a leftover

from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.

And sometimes, when you spill lemons

from your grocery bag, someone else will help you

pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.

We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,

and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile

at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress

to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,

and for the driver in the red pick -up truck to let us pass.

We have so little of each other, now. So far

from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.

What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these

fleeting temples we make together when we say, “here,

have my seat,” “Go ahead – you first,” “I like your hat.”


Susan wrote that she shared this poem with her husband, he then commented to the barista where he has his regular coffee, that she worked so hard with little colleagues and how great her coffee always is. The barista’s eyes filled with tears. From then on they greet each other every day in just a bit more special way.

Susan Cain’s question is: which small act of kindness can you do to create a ripple of chance?

Read: ‘Highlighting the positive aspects of being a PhD student’

Often the focus is on everything that is difficult and complicated with your PhD. This article sheds a different light on the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of a PhD.


  • developing specific skills to become an expert
  • the opportunity to cooperate with others
  • improving your communicative skills while sharing your knowledge.

What are the positive aspects of your PhD?



Get your free PhD tips


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