Evolving to Resolve Ourselves

There is nothing more thoughtless than a life unexamined. Make some time in your day to confront your existence. By Madeline Johnson

Three simple ways to have a more interesting and enriching life.

Tell the truth.

Say what you mean.

Don’t do things you hate.

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Thoughts about turning your

resentment into resilience.

A recipe for becoming a self-reliant, immovable force.

We all want to feel strong, empowered, confident and ready to take the world head on, but more often than not, we are a mixed bag of worry and concern about our day-to-day existence.  It’s time to make some time.

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There is nothing more thoughtless than a life unexamined. Make some time in your day to confront your existence. Think about the people and problems in your life that you believe are holding you back, weighing you down and making you miserable.

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Step 1

Separate fact from fiction. Think objectively about why you are feeling burdened. If you are bitter, angry or believe that life should be treating you better, examine that.  If your heart is hardening and you are disenfranchised with the world, proceed with intelligent caution.  Strive to understand that part of the problem might be you. Maybe you just need to grow up, mature a little.  Perhaps you are whining about your resentment towards someone, instead of truly owning and accepting your part. How can you be better, stronger, smarter about this problem? Stand up for your better self.

Step 2

Humbly face your enemies and your problems in a brave new way. Once you have sorted out the part you are playing in the anger game and you are ready to own that bit of it, you must know what you want and need and have the courage to ask for it.   You cannot move forward without first forgiving yourself and making a pact with your soul never to betray yourself again.  Next. Do the thing that most of us never want to do. Pick the right place and the right time and humbly open up and confront those who aren’t respecting you. So often we play out conversations in our heads, but we don’t actually have them. We aren’t brave enough to actually speak the words. It’s time to learn how to do just that. Let others know what you need and specifically what would make the situation better.

Step 3

Then put it down. Shed those past grievances. Release your clenching grip of control. Practice and proceed with intelligent caution. Start fresh and move forward with realistic optimism about your future.

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Featured Artwork

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How Much Good Can You Do In The World?

Do what you can to make things better. Find out how much good you can do in the world. By Madeline Johnson

Not my words, but definitely a great notion and something I believe is worth asking yourself.

This idea, that we have the capability to make things better with what we have is inspired by professor and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson author of 12 Rules for Life.

His wisest advice –

Learn what you need to learn to become wise and work for the betterment of being.

Do what you can to make things better. Find out how much good you can do in the world.

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Do it in a forthright, courageous, noble, eyes-wide open, articulate and embodied manner.

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How to bake better into your every day beingness.

Not sure where to begin?  I like what Brianna Wiest recommends. . .

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Recommended Reading

101 Essays to Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Maps of Meaning by Jordan B. Peterson

The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton

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Featured Artwork

Borda D. Adrian is a surreal painter and lives in Reghin, Romania. He is an inner traveler, exploring the mysterious and extremely complex subconscious world. In his real life as well as in his art, I don’t care about conventions and the taboos, there are no sacred memes that cannot be touched. His paintings are deep meditations full of symbols about life and our most intimate tendencies and reactions…not necessarily to create something most people like, but to open a window to haunting images impossible to forget.

Flowing Not Forcing

Slow down and let your breath anchor you into this moment, where you remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.  By Madeline Johnson

Today is the day I let go.  I let go and for damn good reason. I let go of attaching myself to what I think I need and want. This is true freedom.

I have no control over when my last breath will be, so if I cannot control something as essential as my breath, which keeps me alive, who is to say I can control anything else.

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The only thing between me and death is my breath. I don’t want to catch my breath, I want to slow it down and let it anchor me into this moment, where I remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.

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Recommended Reading

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao–the Way, the guiding light, the very source of all existence. According to Lao Tzu (a name meaning “the old master”), the Tao is found where we would least expect it–not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in “not-doing.”

Poems by Cristen Rodgers 

“Once I made it through the darkest and most difficult parts of my personal adventure, I came to realize that this magic key wasn’t meant just for me – it could be a gift to others as well.  I could use my pen to throw the doors wide open and allow the truths that had so profoundly improved my life to find their way to others who are stepping upon the path that I walked myself.”

Featured Artist

@miles_art on Instagram

Miles Johnston  was born in the UK in 1993. He spent the first few years of his early childhood living in Brunei, Borneo, something that he is sure had a major effect on him. The totally different environment gave him the intuition early on that there is no true ‘normal’.

Calm in the Chaos

Recognizing that our perpetual emotional  struggle to reconcile the past and control the future is ultimately futile, not to mention extremely exhausting. by Madeline Johnson

Some days are so difficult. We make them worse by worrying and overthinking.

Recognizing that our perpetual emotional  struggle to reconcile the past and control the future is ultimately futile, not to mention extremely exhausting.

 

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Featured Artwork

Anne Faith Nicholls

Anne Faith Nicholls is an American contemporary artist based in California. Best recognized for her Neosurrealistic paintings, Nicholls has exhibited in collections, galleries, museums and fairs around the world

You Are Built for More

This post is about becoming a stronger version of who you are, so you are better equipped to take life full on, because despite the fact that life can be tragic and tainted by malevolence, your human spirit thrives under these conditions. You were built for maximal load.   Eyes open, wit sharp and your words at the ready. (words inspired by Jordan B. Peterson.)

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Read: Twelve Rules for Life: An Anecdote for Chaos

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The first rule in Peterson’s book is to stand tall. Yes, improve your posture.

So, with your shoulders back, head up and back strong, you stand tall.  Focusing on standing up straight may actually increase testosterone and decrease cortisol levels in your body while helping you to feel more empowered and confident.  Read more here 11 Surprising Ways to Get Your Brain to Release Serotonin and Other Happiness Chemicals. Read more about the high T and low C effects of standing tall here.

Learn more about the science and renewed interest in the systemic role of testosterone in pain, well-being, and cardiovascular function in women and men alike.  Testosterone’s benefits include increasing your competitive spirit and possibly your confidence.

A note about cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. It’s important for helping your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release in response to many different kinds of stress. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels, increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Studies have show that high-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers (slouchers and slumpers) exhibited the opposite pattern. Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance

Can’t remember to correct your posture throughout the day. There is new wearable tech to help you stop slumping. 

Wareable is a website that reviews and rates numerous technology breakthroughs to stand taller, from pulsating yoga pants to chairs with sensors

Upright Pose is a posture corrector and trainer that you place on your upper back. It reminds you to sit or stand up straight with a real-time gentle vibration reminder. 8 out of 10 Upright users report a posture improvement of 92% in less than 2 weeks. Available here on Amazon.

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Why you are standing up tall, the second way to improve your mental strength is to reevaluate the way you assess your own competence. Why? Because we tend to believe we are smarter than we really are.

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– A quote from Stephen Hawking

Never Overestimate Your Knowledge

In order to preserve our sense of self-value there is the possibility we are wired to assume we are better than others, when we might be of only the same or worse standard.  It has also been suggested that the worse we are at something, the more likely we are to overestimate our performance at it.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.

While almost everyone holds favorable views of their abilities in various social and intellectual domains, some people mistakenly assess their abilities as being much higher than they actually are. This ‘illusion of confidence’ is now called the ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’, and describes the cognitive bias to inflate self-assessment.

Most people are genuinely unaware of how much they have been misled by their illusory superiority.

Illusory superiority is a condition of cognitive bias wherein a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, in relation to the same qualities and abilities of other persons. Illusory superiority is one of many positive illusions, relating to the self, that are evident in the study of intelligence, the effective performance of tasks and tests, and the possession of desirable personal characteristics and personality traits.

The problem is that when people are incompetent, not only do they reach wrong conclusions and make unfortunate choices but, also, they are robbed of the ability to realize their mistakes.

The trick is to not be fooled by illusions of superiority and to learn to accurately reevaluate our competence. After all, as Confucius reportedly said,

Real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance.

Read the full article Studies find high achievers underestimate their talents

Read: Twelve Rules for Life: An Anecdote for Chaos

Jordan B. Peterson

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, #1 for nonfiction in 2018  in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil and Norway, and now slated for translation into 45 languages.

Featured Art

Lisa Ericson

Portland, Oregon-based artist Lisa Ericson blends her hyperreallist painting style with a vivid imagination, resulting in fantastical combinations of plants and animals. Ericson tends to focus on one specific flora/fauna combination at a time, like hybrid mouserflies or coral fish. Her most recent series, Mobile Habitats, highlights turtles that support small ecosystems on their shells. From mossy knolls surrounded by fireflies to gnarled trees leafed with monarchs, each turtle-world evokes a specific time and place.

Ericson chronicles her work on Instagram, where she shares, “these pieces are all about turtles and what they can carry on those amazing half-a-globe shells, and about things that need saving.”

 

 

 

To Be Real

Seeking wisdom and being true and real to oneself. Madeline Johnson

To be absolutely real with ourselves. Stop playing it so safe. How freeing. What a release. What a relief.  True to you. No more disjappointmenting yourself because you put your needs on the back burner.  You said yes, but you meant no. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so you over promised. You took that project for the money.

When we are not true to ourselves, we starve ourselves of care and respect. Integrity begins with honoring our hearts. It’s not selfish. It’s healthy and it helps us all.

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Stripped of all of our masks and desire to be needed.  To understand ourselves fully, to know more about our own existence.

Why I am seeking wisdom. 

  • Lie to myself, no more!
  • Life is tricky. People are strange. I contradict myself. Why?
  • Decisions are difficult. Which are the best ones?
  • Worry is constant. I shall remain calm.
  • This wisdom helps with clarity. Clarity is freedom.
  • I know I don’t have all the answers. We are here together for a reason. I learn from you.
  • Life moves too fast. My strong desire to slow down. Savor. Relish.

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Why I seek wisdom.

  • To be more emotionally and intellectually intelligent about myself and others.
  • Because I am realistically insecure and my experience will only take me so far. What can I learn from your experience?
  • I want to accomplish more of what is important. What is important to you might inspire me.

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Featured Artwork

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College in her hometown before studying painting in Chicago (haunting the Art Institute where she learned what painting was.)   In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona (a mere outpost at the time).  Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out: The Guest RoomThe Truth About CometsEine Kleine NachtmusikInterior with Sudden JoyInsomniasPalaestraTamerlaneFar From. By 1956 Max and Dorothea had chosen to live and work thenceforth in France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture:  CousinsDon Juan’s BreakfastFetishRainy Day CanapéTragic TableVerbXmasEmmaRevelation or the End of the MonthHôtel du Pavot Room 202.

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

Such a refreshing thought – to actually meet someone who is genuinely real and speaking the truth.  Now that is some rare shit.

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Sometimes the very people we are closest to become unreal to us. We might easily assume we know what life is like for them and forget that, like us, they are always changing, their experience is always new. We lose sight of how fully they too are living with hurts and fears, how hard life can be on the inside. – excerpt from Radical Acceptance 

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Now I’ve been accused of being too tough on my family.  My tone too harsh . . . .coming in too hot. . . way too aggressive, they cry.   I’m not soft enough, gentle enough, kind enough.  I don’t give them enough room to be human.

I have also been described by my family as angry, enraged, and demanding and someone who can never be pleased.  This in turn has made me a lightening rod for blame.

It’s a terribly messy situation and it has also alienated me quite a bit.

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Recognizing Our Humanmess & Pulling Our Emotional Weight 

I had to ask myself, am I really that emotionally insensitive? or . . . .am I perhaps emotionally exhausted, with very little patience to have the “tell me what I want to hear conversations“. You know how they go.  The one you where you are trying to give some good sensible advice and it sucks all of your time and energy. . .and the troubled one cries, moans and complains and then goes on to make even bigger, unavoidable mistakes.

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Now having a mentally-ill ex who uses the children as weapons does nothing to elevate the family dynamics one bit.  He is sick, he is weak and the weak grasp onto anything they can to stay afloat. It’s truly painful and pitiful and annoying as hell.

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Growing up with a bullet-proof, hard-headed immigrant family I have been trained to do one thing and one thing only. When we have a problem we fix it. Simple as that. No added drama and delusional ego defense tactics. We simply make the repairs. . . . we change our behavior, our environment, our thinking, whatever it is we need to do, including removing ourselves from the messes left behind.

I was taught to humbly take complete ownership for myself, my life and my actions.

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Yet I do believe it is okay to ruminate for a solution and to sometimes overthink things – -but it’s not okay to go around thinking badly or poorly. The world is not out to get us. The real problem is you, it is very, very rarely what happens to you.

This lack of desire to sit with another and hold space for them for a very long time, when they do nothing to face their challenges – is the issue.

You see when I think about their complaints about me, I realize its not just my tone that they don’t like.  It’s how they interpret the tone.  When I am firm, they hear you’re not good enough, you’re a mess, you are just terrible and you really don’t have it together” and there in lies the suffering – the sever in the relationship.

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Stuck, it’s my lack of desire and willingness to placate them. To sit with their suffering. To buy into their woe is me helplessness.

For this I have been pegged as emotionally unaware, arrested in my growth and a non-compassionate person. Which is the farthest thing from the truth. I am wildly compassionate and loving but also a huge fan of the being absolutely honest with ourselves.

So, I do two things at once. I call bullshit on their desire to expect me to sit and stir the pot of sadness and sorrow that they decided to make for dinner and eat for left overs.

But, more importantly, I apply a bit of compassion to their pain and suffering by asking myself two questions before we begin –

What does she need right now?

What does this person fear right now?

These two questions help bring us closer together as humans.

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To Express The Creative Capacity of Our Essence

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.  – Joseph Campbell

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Absolute freedom. A life devoted to creative self-expression.

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A life that is fundamentally free is one that is free of certainty.  Purpose, passion, goals. . .they do not matter. The only guarantee of success is that every outcome is uncertain.  Their is no guarantee. Our purpose is not to be found or “discovered”. Our essence is to be expressed or we may fall into arrested expansion.

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To become completely comfortable with uncertainty is total freedom.

To live a life that is full of curiosity, enthusiasm and wonder.

To be free to live open to every situation at one time that we imagined would be difficult or a conflict.

To express the creative capacity of our essence.

This is how our lives become a work of art.

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To live in direct contact with the perpetual, dynamic uncertainty that is implicit in the power of life itself.  To appreciate the mystery of life.

This is equal to living in the heart of intimate freedom.

When we simply are, we are free.

There is no purpose to be found. Just the creative expression of life itself.

As you stroll along, if you’re awake enough, you will be led by your curiosity and excitement.

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Recommended Reading

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life

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Links

Why Finding Your Passion is Bullshit @ThoughtCatalog

The Bullshit Question Your Ego Loves

Screw Finding Your Passion @markmansonnet

 

Quotes

The granddaddy of the consciousness movementGeorge Leonard was a co-founder of the Aikido of Tamalpais dojo in Corte Madera, California. He also developed the Leonard Energy Training (LET) practice for centering the mind, body, and spirit.

Art

Arrested Expansion by George Grie

Cairo is my muse by Huda Lutfi

Featured Art by Penelope Slinger

How to Be More Like You

How to be authentic and original. Thoughts from Madeline Johnson, writer about human development.

E. E. Cummings wrote, “The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.

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People just put facades out there. They even admit that one facade is a little more real than the other. You go to work and get lost in your professional facade, but then you say. “I’m going home to be with my family and friends where I can just be myself.” So your work facade drops into the background, and your relaxed social facade comes forward. But what about you, the one who is holding the facade together? Nobody gets near that one. That’s just too scary. That one is too far back there to deal with. 

from The Untethered Soul The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer.

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Oh, the armor we put on every morning becomes heavier to bear, year-after-year.  Tara Brach calls it our “spacesuit strategy“, we slip it on every day as we head out into the world to attract attention, admiration, and appreciation. No wonder why we are so mentally exhausted, always trying to be something we are not for temporary shots of counterfeit recognition.

Emotional Masks

These emotional masks, the masks we hide behind because of fear. For example, if we are insecure, we might hide behind the mask of name-dropping. If we are unsure of our power, we can hide behind mask of being a bully. If we don’t think the world loves us, we can hide behind mask of anger. We mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford; we pretend things are fine at work, when our jobs are on the line; we pretend things are okay in our marriages when there is distance. 

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It starts with just noticing when you are not being you. When you are saying things and doing things just to get attention or acknowledgment. Just think about how nice you are to people when they behave in accordance with your expectations.

Artwork by Dimitra Milan

 

Opportunities to Seize vs. Temptations to Resist

Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

 

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What if I make the wrong one?

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” 
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” 
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?

– Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

 

The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available.  Examples of overchoice include college options, career options, and prospective romantic relationships.  Many increased by technology. In today’s world, we have easy access to more of everything at our fingertips.

Overcoming That Overwhelming Feeling

It helps to remember your final destination. Where have you set your sites? Your goals?

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Recalling your dreams helps to distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.

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“If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.”

 

Featured image by  Remedios

Surreal Horses

Girl with Binoculars by Bernie Fuchs