thoughts, ideas, inspiration, motivation, mindset, productivity, passion, purpose, lifestyle, work-life integration & other dribble.

  • When to Proceed and When to Quit

    Recently I listened to a podcast by Tim Ferriss on knowing when to quit and when to persevere with something. He had a bunch of special guests report their thoughts and advice to this question, most of which he has interviewed in the past. Have a listen if you haven’t already.

    In this article, in parts one and two, I wish to share my thoughts on this question. I may not be as highly regarded as some of the guests on Tim’s show, but I have had my fair share of times when I’ve quit and when I’ve stuck with it. Including times when I should have quit or stuck with but didn’t that have resulted in both favorable and unfavorable outcomes.

    I think it is necessary first to determine what it means to quit and what it means to persevere because sometimes the image or definition we attach to words can skew the meaning and affect our thoughts and how we behave.

    The word quit has various uses but often the definition most of us would think of immediately would be to ‘stop’ or ‘discontinue.’ I quite like Middle English origins of the word meaning ‘set free.’ Stating that it derives from the Latin word ‘quiescere’ meaning to ‘be still,’ which is kind of what we do when we quit something, we no longer act or move on it.

    The word ‘persevere’ means to continue in the course of action even in the face of adversity or difficulty or with little or no indication of success. The origins of this word derive from the word ‘perseveare’ meaning ‘to abide by strictly.’ ‘Per’ meaning ‘thoroughly’ and ‘severare’ or ‘severus’ meaning ‘severe.’

    In my personal experience and observation, I think it is fair to say that many of us associate quitting as an indication of failure. And regardless of whether it is ourselves or another, this image of failure is too often used as a representation of our character, used to define our self-identity further, used to make judging, and used to make future decisions that can have both negative and limiting effects.

    We must rid ourselves of this association. To quit is not to fail! This association between quitting and failure makes us see or feel it as a sign of weakness, but it’s not. It can if we allow it to, decrease our sense of self-worth and be damaging or limiting to personal progression.

    It is limiting to our progression because it affects our underlying motivation to try new things in life. It causes a restriction to our desires and narrows the opportunities and paths that may be available to us. Why would we push ourselves towards something that we fear we may quit?

    If we base all future decisions and actions on past experiences, and this is precisely how the brain works, we are less likely to act on those which we perceive will lead to quitting, to failure, to ridicule, judgment or pain. Our survival tendencies tell us to move towards pleasure and avoid pain.

    The problem is that decisions not to act based on poorly formed concepts or misinterpretations of past experiences or word associations will keep us doing what we’ve always done. That will limit progress.

    Whatever we start that is new there will be a level of uncertainty. It is based on past experiences, and new information gathered then used to help predict possible futures. The more information, the less uncertainty.

    It is natural not to like uncertainty due to the fears of approaching the unknown, but this is the best way to form new concepts and have broadening experiences that enhances the information we can use for future endeavors. In facing uncertainty, we create progress. However, for as long as we associate quitting with failure, we will be less inclined to start new projects or adventures. It is an unwanted fear.

    “Fear-setting” is a discussion for another day. If interested Tim Ferriss just did a brilliant TED Talk on fear setting that you can watch here.

    I think no matter what we do in life we should not approach it with either thought of quitting or failure. I believe it is healthy to understand all possible futures including those that may result in quitting or have other less desirable outcomes because we can then be better prepared. But we must not do something just because we think we will quit or we believe that we will fail.

    We will likely have many failed attempts in life, and that is okay. And for those who don’t fear failure or use it as a reason not to start new things will likely quit more times than they proceed and that raises their likelihood of success.

    It appears that our education has a large part to play in our association with quitting as a failure. And I think this has just as much impact on our ability to persevere. I wrote an article on that explains the implication on this here – The Roads to Self-Mastery.

    In summary, when we are graded poorly we use that as an indication of what we suck at. Rather than searching for a reason why we failed or scored lower than the average and seeking improvement we quit. We move onto other things, and very quickly we develop a pretty particular definition of what we are good at and what we are not. It determines what we move towards and what we avoid throughout our life. We must not accept this conditioning.

    I sucked at English at school, often just scraping by with my grades. For a long time, I used this concept as a reason not to pursue individual paths and opportunities in life. Limiting! If I continued to use this as the basis of my decisions, I wouldn’t be writing this article. In many ways I still am inferior with many aspects of the English language, reading, writing and speaking, but am learning as I go and continually improving.

    It is often easier to quit than to persevere. It is challenging to try figure things out. Unfortunately, this is the kind of mentality we form in school. Both because it is challenging for us to self-learn and for teachers to individualize educational techniques. It is why one on one tutoring is beneficial as is coaching and mentoring. It individualizes the student teacher relationship allowing greater focus on specific areas of learning difficulty that will benefit the student greatly and achieving what they desire to accomplish.

    The association, many of us, have to the idea of persevering is that it will be difficult. We will find it challenging. It links us back to thoughts of quitting or failure, and that prevents action. Here is some dialogue that might sound familiar.

    “That’s going to be hard! I might quit. What if I fail? What will people think of me? What happens if I do quit, what then? Will it just be a big waste of my time? I’ve never really been too good at that before, what makes this any different? Perhaps it’s best I just stick with what I know. Why bother.”

    The internal voice that guides us yet as it does it often prevents us moving into newer and greater life experiences, and if this is the case, it is a bit of a shame.

    Life is all about persevering. It is when we stop walking into the challenge, into the fire, into the adversity that we stop living. We find happiness in the pursuit of life, and if we are not facing a challenge we are not in pursuit. We are not moving.

    To persevere is hard. Challenge is unpleasant. Without challenge, we wouldn’t grow, we wouldn’t progress, and we wouldn’t know. And on the other side of all challenge is reward regardless of whether we succeed or not.

    With challenge, we learn. We have new experiences. We gain more information that makes future problems that little bit more approachable, not easy, just more friendly. It will reduce the level of fear we have when trying something new leading us to more experiences, more learning, and likely greater success.

    However, with all that being said, how do we know when to quit and when to persevere? How do we know what paths to pursue and what to leave alone? The truth is we don’t. We can only improve the decisions we make by being more informed, and we become more aware from experience, not inexperience.

    To deepen our understanding of our “why” and Life Compass we must act. It will evolve as we proceed. We will quit, and we will persevere, and that is fine. What we must avoid is not taking action towards new and uncertain situation based on poorly formed concepts and interpretations of our past conditioning.

    We are better off to embrace uncertainty, discomfort, change and all that is new if we wish to create and live a meaningful life. As we do and as we become more deeply connected with our intuition we will be better able to decide when to quit and when to persevere.

    In part two, I will discuss some more practical thoughts that can be applied to our lives to help us better understand when to quit and when to persevere. If nothing else, I hope this article and thought will inspire you to act, encourage and welcome new experiences in life without getting put off with thoughts of quitting, failure or challenge because that is the key to making more internally informed decisions in all aspects of life moving forward. And that is the key to living the Ultimate Life.

  • The Roads that lead to Self-Mastery

    The Roads that lead to Self-Mastery

    Is self-mastery a mindset? Are we all able to achieve our full potential or is mastery only available to those with the resources of pre-existing talent?

    Success is a result of accomplishing whatever we set out to achieve. Completing a goal or achieving a set aim or purpose. This doesn’t, however, mean we reach mastery. Actually, I am not sure if “self-mastery” is indeed absolute or possible.

    Here is a quote by Sarah Lewis that inspired this thought.

    “Masters are not experts because they take a subject to its conceptual end, they are masters because they realise there isn’t one.”

    I can learn how to bake a really good thick chocolate mud cake. I could repeat the process again and again until every time I complete the process the end result is consistently exceptional. I become an expert mud-cake maker. Does this make me a master?

    One could argue that yes, I am an expert and have masters cake making of one kind, however, this largely depends on the perspective of the individual being asked. As it relates to “self-mastery” however, that relates only to the Self. I don’t believe that external perspective doesn’t play a role in the assessment of mastery.

    From an internal perspective I could rest easy on the belief that I have mastered the process but while it is healthy to be proud of what we achieve finality in progress is never ending. There is always room for improvement. There are levels of mastery.

    Accepting success and assuming mastery that results in an end to the pursuit of a particular subject is fine. It allows us to passionately become experts in other fields. And there is an unlimited number of areas in life we could focus on with a desire to become experts the issue that we face is a limitation of time – we have to choose our focuses wisely.

    As we jump from one passion to pursue another our expertise in the previous area will weaken.  We will not entirely forget what we’ve learned through the years of dedicated practice but we will become less effective. Practice and mastery in any field is a never ending pursuit.

    If we throw down our arms and call an end to pursuit, there will surely be others who take our place becoming experts as we were. As things advance they will learn new skills and develop the expertise to an even higher level.

    Modern life is moving that rapidly that this is becoming more and more evident. Just as one skill is learned it becomes obsolete or just as one skill is mastered another skill is discovered that raises the bar in that field once again. Those that can master learning, particularly that of complex if difficult nature, and do so quickly will be more prone to success and the evolution of their self-mastery.

    In a TED Talk by Sal Khan he describes the issue we face with our educational system and learning. The learning trap creates limiting mindset and impacts one’s potential of achieving self-mastery.

    Here is a summary. When we learn something we are graded. The better our result that better our chances to learn the next level up. And regardless of our grade, we are often moved to the next level before mastering the one we are on. Unless we completely fail we progress.

    Here is the issue, how can we learn next level knowledge when we weren’t able to grasp and completely learn the concepts in the previous grade. This concepts and learnings are the tools to help us level-up. Without them, we will be at a disadvantage.

    The question must be asked is why? Why is there a learning gap? Upon analysing this we can then assess how we can better teach or learn the material before proceeding any further. If we don’t we risk creating limiting mindsets.

    When we don’t close the learning gap and keep progressing to the next level the learning gap widens. As the subject of focus becomes more difficult we struggle, we lose interest, we give-up. We then find our self-narration that says something like the following, “I am just not good at… (insert subject here).

    This system that we rely on is flawed and I believe based on the current trends it is becoming more and more flawed. We must master the process of learning if we truly want to achieve self-mastery.

    If we have a mindset that is limited to what we can and cannot do that will obviously impact our potential. It not only puts a barrier to what we can try and experience but it will also lead to less motivation to desire to try new things.

    Motivation is what get us up in the morning. It is the spark that propels us towards learning new things. The desire to learn new things, experiment, explore and discover is what ignites passion. It is the fire of desire and without desire, there is not progress.

    If we are limited by a mindset that tells us we simply aren’t cut out for greatness we will put self-limits on our desires and this will limit our motivation that is essential for the journey towards self-mastery. Sarah Lewis stated in her TED Talk that a journey of self-mastery is to always have more desires that what we can accomplish.

    If I feel like I’ve mastered cake making that should mean the evaporation of all other desires. There may be room to improve in the field of baking but this should limit desires and the pursuit of other passions.

    Self-mastery isn’t limited to one particular field. The self and the reality we live is infinite and therefore mastery is finite. For as long as we have fuel to burn our desires there is more to learn, improve and progress towards.

    The source of our fuel is a growth mindset, not a limited or fixed one. A belief that how we live and be, and what we can do and have is abundant and entirely within our control. We must not put limits on what we can do or what is possible, that limits passion, that limits to desire, that limits a life of continual self-mastery.

    Mastery is said to be comprehensive knowledge or skill on a particular subject. We can become an expert on baking cakes but the knowledge and skill that can be applied to this subject are always evolving.

    As it relates to the self, knowledge, and skill that can be learned on this subject is never ending and therefore self-mastery is a continuous, infinite and forever expansive.

    “We thrive not when we’ve done it all but when we still have more to do.” Sarah Lewis.

  • Two Sorts of Thinking, Part 2 – Thoughts of Sensuality, Thoughts of Ill Will, Thoughts of Harm

    Two Sorts of Thinking, Part 2 – Thoughts of Sensuality, Thoughts of Ill Will, Thoughts of Harm

    “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with non-ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with non-ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmlessness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmfulness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmlessness.”

    This is a follow on post from my post last week titled, “What is Thinking. Consciousness & Mindfulness.” If you haven’t yet read that post you might wish to start there as it will give you better context to my thoughts shared in this post.

    In the above discourse Buddha outlines “two thoughts of thinking.” These are thoughts of sensuality, thoughts of ill will and thoughts of harm or conversely thoughts of non-sensuality or renunciation, thoughts of non-ill will and thoughts of non-harm.

    As I discussed last week, thanks to the work of Lisa Feldman-Barrett, the brain operates in prediction based on a construction of thought through experience. I attempted to explain what thought is and highlight that majority of our behaviours today and consequently our reality is largely automatic and without free will.

    The good news, however, is that if the reality we are living today is not desirable then we must attempt to change the experience we live today. Because we are highly efficient and automated beings, at will of the predicting brain this is not always easy – nonetheless very possible.

    To do this we must disrupt our patterns of thought and the best way to do this is to slow down and become more aware of them. This is the power of meditation and mindfulness.

    We have no control over our thoughts. Something fires off in the brain causes us to think and as the brain processes these thoughts it creates meaning in attempt to predict our future and how we should behave. Now, I know I might be repeating myself slightly but it is important to understand this concept.

    We are usually very quick and behaving based on the prediction of the brain that often doesn’t give us a chance to intervene. There is a saying most of us are told growing up, “think before you act.” This is a flawed statement because quite simply it is impossible not to. It would be more appropriate to say, “be aware of your thought before you allow it to predict your actions.”

    It is often the case that we think we react to the current moment. According to Feldman-Barrett this isn’t correct. The brain is fast to process information and adjust to error but for the rest of the body to follow suit is not so quick. If we were reactionary beings, we might find ourselves in a little bit of bother. No, the brain has constantly predicting our next move so that the body is always prepared.

    To put this into context think about touching something hot. Actually, I just experienced this today. If you see fire or see that something is hot you will likely not touch it. If on the other hand you think it will be cool to touch, like the pot on my stove this morning, you will touch it. The brain has predicted that it is not hot. If however, it is because someone left the flame burning after use and the brain still predicts that it is cool, upon picking it up there will be a delay before you notice its hot and you then drop the pot. I had the pot picked up and moved from the stove almost to the sink before my brain realised the error and moved me to drop it.

    This is more reason why a pause and higher attention to the moment of thought is beneficial. In meditation we are able to focus on the mind and the thoughts that arise. This allows us to really assess them without attaching ourselves to them. In this process you will notice that thoughts seem to come and go.

    What I have found is that in such focus you can really begin to understand the source of thought. The time and silence of meditation is conducive to this. You can better question why they exist and in doing so determine whether you want them to influence any actions or behaviours. If they are not desirable you can then try produce counter thought to help combat and remove them.

    A mindfulness practice in time allows us to become more present in each moment of our day. While we are not in a place of silence and there is much noise and action rolling out all around us you will find yourself becoming more attentive to the moment and thought.

    Insert Buddha’s discourse. The first set of thoughts, thoughts of sensuality, thoughts of ill will and thoughts of harm, are conducive to self-suffering or affliction on both ourselves and others.

    The second set, thoughts of non-sensuality or renunciation, thoughts of non-ill will and thoughts of non-harm, are conducive to a sense of calmness that reduces the suffering we experience and that which we may inflict on others. This minimises our overall displeasure, dissatisfaction, and feelings of restraint in life.

    Therefore, in mindfulness and as we grow our awareness bringing ourselves more presently into each moment of our day, those thoughts that are negative in nature and result in some level of suffering may be more easily adjusted for or changed.

    Next time we have thoughts that are purely pleasurable in gain or intent, harmful to the self or others, or of ill will we may think twice. Rather than allowing such thoughts to automatically influence our lives we may ask ourselves the question, “How does this thought benefit my life? Does it take me or others not towards unwanted suffering but towards deeper happiness?”

    Such a process is not immediate but the more attention we give to our thought the better thoughts we can bring in and ill thoughts removed. This will absolutely influence the experiences we walk into in each moment of our life. And that is how we go about changing the way our brain predicts our future.

    This is why mindfulness and meditation practices are so powerful because everything in our reality arises from thought. The good and bad habits we have. The quality of our health, relationships and overall life. Our ambition and motivation. Our success and ultimately our happiness.

    There is a great deal more I would like to discuss on this topic such as why is thought of sensuality necessarily a negative – or is it? However, for the purpose of this post and the previous one I hope this encourages you to give meditation and mindfulness a try. It has been one of the key reasons for the improvement of my overall happiness in life and it has been reliant on no external factors to shape it.

  • Two Sorts of Thinking: Part 1 – What is Thinking. Consciousness & Mindfulness.

    Part 1 – What is Thinking. Consciousness & Mindfulness.

    “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with non-ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with non-ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmlessness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmfulness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmlessness.”

    In this post, I will reflect on a sutta in which Buddha discusses Two Sorts of Thinking. You can find it in Majjhima Nikaya – “The Middle-length Discourses.” 19: Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking.

    First, suttas are Buddhist scriptures that include readings or teaching of the enlightened Buddha. This particular collection or “Nikaya” is the second of five and contains 152 discourses (written or spoken communication or debate).

    Secondly, let me just highlight that I am not a monk, Buddhist or religious expert. However, if I were to attach myself to any particular religion it would be Buddhism as this is the religion that I refer to, reflect on and use to create a better understanding of my existence. For the purpose of this post, these are simply my thoughts of introspection on this particular discourse. I hope it brings value to your life as it does mine.

    The two thoughts are thoughts of sensuality, thoughts of ill will and thoughts of harm as opposed to thoughts of non-sensuality, thoughts of non-ill will and thoughts of non-harm. The first set of thoughts will be conducive and purposeful to self-suffering, affliction on others or both while the second set promotes the opposite – a sense of calmness that reduces the suffering we experience, that we may inflict on others and the overall displeasure,

    The first set of thoughts will be conducive and purposeful to self-suffering or affliction on others, or both. While the second set promotes the opposite – a sense of calmness that reduces the suffering we experience, that we may inflict on others and the overall displeasure, dissatisfaction, and feelings of restraint that come to a life that is bound by the more “negative” set of thoughts as above.

    What are these thoughts? Let’s first take a look at what is thought. “Thought” is described as “an intention, idea or opinion produced by thinking.” It is the attention of the mind. They come without will or control are often very abruptly.

    Neuroscience, the sciences and psychology that studies the functions and structures of the nervous system and the brain, suggest that thought is produced without “will.” It is now understood that humans do not have “free-will.”

    Thinking allows us to process and model our reality based on the arrangement of ideas through direct experiences of our world. In thinking, we are processing this information to interpret, predict, and to make meaning of our reality.

    This subject is deeper than I wish to attempt to explain here. It is possible that I am incorrect, however, to put simply, our thoughts are our interpretation of our life experiences, based on our physical senses and external environment. The brain uses this process in finding meaning that is used to predict and produce the reality we live in.

    Our thoughts become our reality. Now, while we have little control over the firing of thoughts that occur spontaneously within our brain we can direct our experience. This is perhaps both good news and not so good news.

    The early years of life we experience are mostly dependent on others and so our conditioned state and the thoughts we produce today have been largely influenced externally wth little self-influence. As we a freed from the harness of dependency and allowed to navigate our life’s journey the experience of life becomes our responsibility – this reason we must take ownership of our journey.

    This doesn’t, however, eradicate or remove thoughts that are non-beneficial for they have become our systems “go to” in order to create efficiencies in predicting future experience. As I have recently learned and had to change my perspective is that we do not react to this world and as a result create our experience or reality. We predict our world and create our experience/reality. And so our past years may bind us to a certain path unless we become more mindful of our thoughts.

    As I have recently learned and had to change my perspective is that we do not react to this world and as a result create our experience or reality. We predict our world and create our reality based on past experience. Therefore, our past years may bind us to certain paths in life unless we become more mindful of our thoughts.

    We are conscious beings and without consciousness, we are nothing. The idea is arguable but if I cannot think, process and interpret this world and my experience than what truly does exist? Do I exist? To you, I might appear to exist but if you too are not conscious, what then?

    I like this thought, it’s kind of humbling. It makes me feel less pressured by the reality that I live and all of the chaos and external happenings that are consistently taking place. It is not because I wish to retreat, escape or abandon responsibilities – it is actually the quite the opposite. I wish to become more effective in truly living a high-quality life and I find myself better doing this the more I understand that my reality is really just a matter of my consciousness.

    The majority of the knowledge I share in this post has been inspired by Lisa Feldman Barrett and her book, “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of The Brain.” 

    In the closing of one of the chapters in her books, this is what she states.

    “If your brain operates by prediction and construction and rewires itself through experience, then it’s no overstatement to say that if you change your current experiences today, you can change who you become tomorrow.”

    The issue that arises from all this is that if the brain is constantly predicting the future and in the process causing us to behave in a way that meets this prediction how are we then to able to influence our experiences we have? If there is no free-will and we are simply acting in automation can we change our experiences?

    The best answer and method I have found is through mindfulness. This is the practice of focusing on the mind. To be more aware, to view our thoughts and their source and consciouses attention to what they mean, why they exist so we can better interpret them. This attention forces the brain to seek more information that will assist to influence and even better direct our behaviors and that can change our experience and our reality.

    In Part 2, I will discuss Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking. The thoughts of sensuality, thoughts of ill will, and thoughts of harm and how by focusing our attention on our thoughts we can produce more positive outcomes for the course of our life.

  • Tell me, what brings you joy? The Art of Self-Expression.

    Tell me, what brings you joy? The Art of Self-Expression.

    How open and honest are we with ourselves? How open and honest are we with others? Do we avoid the direct approach to truly expressing ourselves? If so, why?

    I often find myself hoping for things to happen or change without taking direct meaningful action. I wonder if we weren’t afraid of the consequences that may result from what we think, say and do how much more cooperative and congruent would life be, for all of us?

    It is not that I am dishonest, lazy or unwise. I work hard, I put my best efforts in being congruent and authentic in all my actions, and I think I am highly organized and purposeful. Yet still, for what I desire in life I am not always full-frontal. I am sure I am not alone.

    How do you feel? What do you desire? What are your dreams? How does life taste? What are your pains? Who do you love? What brings you joy?

    Why do we shy away from fully expressing who we are, how we feel and what we desire? I believe self-expression is the doorway to an abundance of all things in life. Self-expression is defined as the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas. The power of expression is held in its expansion.

    As we tell people how we feel. As we share our thoughts and ideas. If we are as open a book as we can bear to be we allow our internals out. When they are exposed and we give them a chance to breathe, a chance to be in the light, a chance to flourish, a weight is lifted from our shoulders

    Like a seed that sprouts and meets sunlight, it begins to grow and expand and eventually allowing itself to blossom into something truly amazing and beautiful. It has the potential to bear fruit not only for the benefit of itself but for all those fortunate enough to be present and near.

    And yet we still hold back from authentic self-expression. We still struggle to open our hearts up to the world. We are still reluctant to share.

    Have you ever watched children play and be? They have no fear of self-expressions or openly being how they are or wish to be. They have not yet been exposed to a life of conditioning in which we are programmed by reward and punishment.

    Yes, conformity brings order to life but it can also be the death of self-expression. If we were without rules, those that are externally imposed and those we create for our own benefit, we might find the quality of our life failing us. However, some rules deserve to be broken including rules that limit authentic self-expression.

    Here is why. Expression is the ultimate innovator. The exposure of our thoughts, ideas, and feelings assist us to creatively solve problems. From those little things that seem quite insignificant to those larger issues of life that cause much suffering. Innovation advances our personal lives and the lives of humanity as a whole.

    Expression is also a chance to explore who we are. If we don’t reveal how we feel, if we don’t get to touch and experience what we are thinking, what we desire or have the chance to play with our ideas, we don’t grow. Expressive experience leads to progression. It evolves who we are, it reveals what’s most important to us, it shows us more meaningful paths forward in life, it expands our purpose – our “why.”

    The pure journey of life isn’t lived by being dragged down paths by external forces to places we don’t want to go. The pure journey is lived by leading ourselves down paths that we wish to go.

    For each of us the paths that we take will be different but by remaining curious, interested, fascinated and by authentically expressing what we desire, who we are and how we feel we will be united in were these paths take us and that is towards greater happiness.

    The next time you find yourself reluctant in expressing yourself think twice. What is the worse of the two options? Denying freedom of being, receding into conformity and concealing inner happiness or expressing as beautifully as you can all your feelings, thoughts, and ideas so that the inner happiness that always exists can have a chance to shine.

    Tell me, what brings you joy?

  • Why Was My Friend SO Happy With Life? What Was His Secret?

    Why Was My Friend SO Happy With Life? What Was His Secret?

    I was feeling dissatisfied with my life. I wasn’t really aware of this at the time. I felt normal. I held the belief that this is how life was. I kept telling myself that things will improve thinking that perhaps I was just in a rut. However, all of this wasn’t really helping me and I wasn’t experiencing any noticeable changes.

    Days, months and years passed. I felt quite the same – dissatisfied! I wasn’t really angry or pissed off. I didn’t think it was only my life that sucked. I wasn’t a victim of life. I knew I wasn’t alone but I couldn’t really see that. I was trapped in my own suffering and this was limiting my externally held perspectives. It was limiting the quality of my life.

    I couldn’t see the fruit through the leaves. Actually, at the time I wasn’t sure there was any fruit.

    I kept thinking that if I had more money or a better job that then I would start feeling better about my experience in life. The old case of “if… this, then… that.” A belief I am sure we are taught and conditioned to believe from a very young age. I think it’s a message that is designed to give us hope that things will get better yet as I discovered this path seems never-ending.

    I got the house, the job, the money, the girl, the car, the investment property, the holidays, the new job, the promotion, the bigger TV, the nicer car. I even found myself moving from one location to another. I was desperate to find “this” so that I could become “that.” At the time I had no idea what “that” was. In hindsight, I guess it was a search for satisfaction or at the very best less dissatisfaction.

    Nothing changed. If anything life became more displeasing as I began to wake up to the flawed model that so many of us live by. I began to realize that waiting on this or that to start really enjoying my life was a fucking ridiculous concept. It made less and less sense.

    If you looked at my life from an external perspective, you wouldn’t have seen a life that could possibly be dissatisfying. I had it all. But did I? There is always more to be had yet I certainly wasn’t without.

    I feel this is a part of the problem. We look externally to define our lives. If we see our neighbors, friends, colleagues living with everything society teaches us to do, have and desire we perceive that their quality of life must be great. How could it not be, right? “Jimmy just got a pay rise and now he’s booked a holiday and getting an extension on his house. He’s laughing! He’s living the dream!”

    External search to seek validation for our own quality of life, for our own satisfaction is cause for an ever expanding case of “if… this, then… that.” We think to ourselves that when we get the promotion we too will be able to finally take that holiday to Europe. And if we do, things feel good for a while until we find life’s dissatisfaction slowly creeping back. “Okay, what’s next?” “What’s Jimmy up to?”

    This is how my life was. In constant chase of something, that next best thing, to take me out of this rut. The problem was that my dissatisfaction wasn’t a rut – it was a constant reality. I felt hollow, empty and as if something from my life was lacking yet I couldn’t put my finger on it.

    That is about the time I began to do some internal investigation work. I started to ask questions. What is this all for? Does this really matter? How is this necessary? Do I really want to do this? Do I really need that? Will this make a difference? Is my dissatisfaction self-caused? Am I being unreasonable? What is life all about? What’s the purpose of life? What’s my purpose?

    This leads me to the ultimate question, “Why?” To me, it is the most powerful word in my vocabulary. When applied to everything I think, say and do it generates a profound level of awareness, it changes perspectives and for this reason has been the most instrumental tool in my personal transformation.

    It has taken me from living a dissatisfied life to a satisfied one. And the amazing thing is that nothing required change other than my perspective that shifted thanks to this amazing word, “Why.”

    Andy Andrews in his book The Little Things, who I should add is also a fan of this word – “why,” said this about perspective, “Perspective is the only thing that can dramatically change the results without changing any of the facts.” When we start asking “why” how we see the world begins to transform and that will have a profound impact on the quality of our life.

    Now, things didn’t change immediately. Progress takes time. I was however committed to figuring out life because living a dissatisfied existence didn’t make any sense.

    I started to think that perhaps I didn’t need more of anything – achievements, possessions, status, money, time, love or any number of other things we use as the scapegoat to our dissatisfaction or a mask to our pain. Yes, they can be important but what did they all mean? And why, in chasing after them, did I believe they would improve my discontent with life, especially considering that they are ever expanding. Why?

    I began to wonder, what is it that I truly want. I knew the “if… this, then… that,” model was flawed but I wasn’t sure why. Surely having more money would allow us to do more things and that could only be good for our satisfaction, right?

    That’s when I made the realization that life is not about what we do, what we have or even who we are, it’s about how we are! Life is about our state of being. How do you truly want to be? How did I really want to be?

    And then it clicked, if I wasn’t aware of how I truly wanted to be in life then all that stuff, the chasing, the cars, the money, the job, the need to define myself by external measures, won’t account for shit. Just because Jimmy is doing well with his house extension and holidays, is that really what I want? And from an external standpoint perspectives can be limited. Is Jimmy really as satisfied with his life as I think he is?

    So what was it? How did I really want to be? What was important to me? I think these are essential questions for anyone to ask if they wish to seek more purpose, meaning, and satisfaction in life.

    I began to look at the lives of others. Were these people really all that satisfied? Was what they did and had conducive to a positive state of being? Were their achievements really adding value to the quality of their life? Or, like me, was most of this stuff just a cover for how they really felt about life, dissatisfied and empty? Are we all just trying to fill a void?

    Then I ran into an old school friend. As life has its course over the years we drifted apart. The beauty of true friendships and relationships is that the deep bonds live forever. As soon as we caught up we connected immediately like it was yesterday.

    He looked happy. I told him that. I said, “Man, you look really happy! How’s life?”

    He smiled as I said this and responded, “Life’s great! It’s certainly got its challenges but in for most of the time, I feel really good. I can’t complain. I’m really happy.”

    He then asked me, “What about yourself?”

    I probably wasn’t entirely transparent. I may have buttered up my story a little but I said, “Recently I’ve felt a little dissatisfied with my life and am not really that sure why. I’m not depressed as such, and I’ve got many things to be grateful for but something feels amiss.”

    And then I asked him, “What’s your secret?”

    I could see he was humbled by my question. He paused for a moment to think before responding. “I am not sure it’s a secret, I’ve just set my life up in a way that’s aligned with what’s truly important to me. I do what I’m passionate about because that keeps me motivated and happy and I try to be as purposeful as possible, doing only what is necessary. I’m certainly not perfect but I have a large amount of freedom, fulfillment and ultimately happiness in my life. I think that is how we all truly desire to be.”

    I reflected on this conversation for some time. I still do! Freedom, fulfillment, and happiness. That’s how we all wish to be in life. There are many paths to get there and for each of us, they will be different. When we are internally aligned with what’s important to us, our “why,” not guided by external expectation, we will find the journey is an amazing one. As my friend said, “A journey that is filled with passion and purpose.”

  • Find Effectiveness and Purpose: The Value Exchange Assessment

    Find Effectiveness and Purpose: The Value Exchange Assessment

    Time is our most valuable resource, which is a phrase you’ve probably heard before. The truth is that to be able to develop our full potential in daily life we have to master effectiveness, and that requires the wise and purposeful use of our time.

    Effective time management is the art of extracting true purpose from all moments in life. To discover more purpose in life, we have to start thinking, behaving and being more purposeful.

    Purpose is a reason something exists or why something is done or created. To understand if something has a purpose it is beneficial to develop awareness of the correlation between the resource exchange and the perceived or expected value to be gained. (more…)

  • Everyone Wants You to Succeed - How to Overcome a Victim Mentality

    Everyone Wants You to Succeed – How to Overcome a Victim Mentality

    According to Wikipedia, Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of clear evidence of such circumstance.

    There are a few distinctions that need to be made. Number 1, Victim Mentality is an acquired or developed trait. And number 2, it relies on attribution that is the process in which humans assign causes to their actions and behaviours.

    It is further suggested that in the majority of cases people that have a victim mentality have been wrongly done by through no fault of their own. This leads to the creation of a universal victim mentality, those that constantly consider themselves to be a victim despite evidence that may suggests otherwise. (more…)

  • The Fly in the Ear of the Bull

    The Fly in the Ear of the Bull

    In an interview I heard on the James Altucher Podcast, Yuval Noah Harari made this comment,

    “In a way, a terrorist is like a fly that tries to destroy a china shop. The fly is so small and weak. It cannot move even a single teacup. So how does a fly destroy a china shop? The fly finds a bull, gets into the ear of the bull and starts buzzing. The bull becomes so enraged that it loses its temper and destroys the china shop. This is what happened in the middle east over the last 15 years,” Yuval said.

    Since then I have found another story about a little fly and a bull. The moral of the story was about one’s self-perceived importance. When the fly attempted to get the bulls attention by buzzing in its ear and landing on it horn the bull simply said, “Little fly, I don’t care if you stay or leave. You are so tiny that your weight does not make any difference to me, so please be quiet and leave me alone.” (more…)

  • Numbing Emotions – We Cannot Target Specific Emotions

    Numbing Emotions – We Cannot Target Specific Emotions

     I listened to a great Ted Talk by Brene Brown recently titled The Power of Vulnerability. Amazing talk and to no surprise about the great benefits that can come from being vulnerable. More on vulnerability another day.

    One thing that she said within her that talk that stood out and was so powerful was this, “We numb vulnerability. We are the most in debt, obese, addicted and over medicated adult cohort in US history. The problem is that we cannot selectively numb emotion.”  (more…)

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