Ancora Imparo – I am still learning

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“If anyone can prove and show to me that I think and act in error, I will gladly change it – for I seek the truth, by which no one has ever been harmed. The one who is harmed is the one who abides in deceit and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.21

Read: The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

It is okay to change my mind today. I don’t need (or want) to always be right.  Go ahead, prove my thinking wrong. Correct me. When I stand corrected, I change for the better,  for resisting may only harm me. 

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If I am not changing, then I am not growing and isn’t growth the whole point? To slip into a better, bigger version of myself each day. Sometimes this requires a real change of mindset.

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Sometimes, the script in our head runs on automatic for years, unquestioned, unchallenged. What if you flipped the script? What would it be like to challenge our thinking? Read: You’re One Moment Away From Being Who You Want to Be

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We might neglect our future selves because of some failure of belief or imagination. – Dereck Parfit.

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Whatever it Takes. Four New Ways to Grow Today

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Surrender and Slow Down

Expect some pain today. When faced with problems during the day, I like to think of them as growing pains.

You see, the counter-intuitive (and funny) thing about embarking on the path of personal growth is that it’s not going to be all cake and cookies. Read: 7 Harsh Truths About Personal Growth.

However, whatever you do, don’t add to your pain and problems. Slow down, see life as it is, not worse than it is. Please don’t make it worse with a second  arrow.

What’s a second arrow?

“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?” 

If we look at the way we move through the day, when something happens, when we have pain in our body, when somebody treats us in a way that feels disrespectful, when something goes wrong for someone we love, that’s the first arrow.

Our mind and body go into a reactivity that does not help to bring healing. We blame others, we blame ourselves. That’s the second arrow. – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance.

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What I’ve come to learn and accept is that there is always a solution of the highest good, but it may not be aligned with what we think we need.  Our job is to surrender to the fact that the Universe has a plan far better than ours. I’ve found that the more I surrender to the Universe’s plan the easier it is to move through the discomfort of uncertainty.  @GabbyBernstein Read: The Universe Has Your Back

 Connect meaningfully

Heart to Heart

If you look at it this way, it becomes clear. If you don’t add value to another person’s existence, then you will not be missed when you are gone.  Read: 13 Simple Ways You Can Have More Meaningful Conversations.

 

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Understand the Payoff

of Putting Things Off

The payoff you get for procrastinating is that you don’t have to do the work. You don’t even have to try. It’s so much easier to stay the same, to stay small.  Hell, you’re use to it. It’s comfortable. You may not like it that much, but it kind of works. You know what to expect from your day. The work is easy. You are complacent, but you can deal with that. That’s the payoff.

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Once you begin to realize that doing the same things you always do will give you the same results you don’t want, then you realize the hard part is starting.  You have to put in the effort and be okay with stumbling and bumbling around for a while. It’s like walking through a dank and dark tunnel without a torch. Starting something new is really hard and frightening sometimes.

 

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The Temptation to Control and Repair Everything Around You

When life is uncertain – and when is it not really? – I feel the need to try to control the people around me. It gives me a false sense of security. If I can control what they do, then maybe I can control some of the results. The outcomes.

And we all know, no one really wants us to control them. So, this only has me feeling more frustrated. I am wasting all that control energy doing something that is absolutely frustrating. The only thing I can control is me and my attitude.   I must be like water.

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Go with the Flow

Try this. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless. Be water My Friend.

In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. This is the true meaning of ‘Be water’. It is the complete and unconditional acceptance of the self. Where the self itself melts and becomes formless, fluid and flexible. When you attain that state, you are water

Read: How to Stop Trying to Control Everything

The Rhythm of Life Unfolding

Trying to figure out why certain things happen in life is like attempting to piece together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle while having only a few pieces of the puzzle in your possession.

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You cannot fully understand the present situation using the logic of your finite mind. Just know that a bigger picture exists, even though it is not possible for you to see it at this time.

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Trust, for all that is happening is an act of love; ultimately you will discover the blessing. Have patience! You will look back on this period of your life and be thankful for all this is occurring now.  The Matrix card from The Magadalene Oracle

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Respecting the “timeliness” of an action. 

Welcome to “Indian Time.”’

It’s not easy to explain what Indian Time is. It’s more complicated than assuming everything will be late (though, that’s often a safe bet). I’ve heard Indian Time described as “the time it takes for moss to grow on a stone,” or as one elder put it “the time it takes to do things in a good way.”

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It’s an enigmatic idea based on a uniquely cultural relationship with time. Simply put, things happen when they happen. There are not 24 hours in a day. Time is unlimited, impossible to cut up into chunks. 

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If something is to happen at 11 am, it might happen at 11:01 am or 12:26 or 1:11 pm. It will happen when it will happen. The universe has its own heartbeat, and who are we to speed it up or slow it down? To some, it’s an excuse to be late. To others, it’s a way to avoid ulcers.

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“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”
Dalai Lama

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Every single moment gives us an opportunity, a choice. Close the gap of what you are capable of doing and what your actually doing. Be the best you, right now. How do we live consistently as the best version of ourselves?  Read: The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly

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Inspired by human potential thought leader Bryant McGill author of Simple Reminders

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Minding What Really Matters

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Observing what happens around us without filters or prejudice. Now that’s something to soak up. A life skill worth practicing.  Try rewiring that into your brain. How often we get frustrated because life is not suppose to be this way or that way?  As if it was always our call.

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It’s so easy to get mad when things don’t go our way. It’s even easier to sleep walk through our days. On autopilot, we just cruise through the hours without even taking notice of the small things that need real care.  The tiny pain points that pop up, that if we just focused on now, would never get out of hand.  The things that really matter. Perhaps this is how bigger events and problems suddenly catch us by “surprise”.  When we avoid the smaller, seemingly “meaningless” things in life. We shrug them off. “It is what it is.” “She’s just like that.” “I’ve been meaning to take care of that.”

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An important skill to learn is to know how to sniff out the unexpected before it scares the hell out of you. It starts with paying attention to your life.

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I am sure you realize that more often than not, there are usually many warning signals before something goes surprisingly wrong. It’s just that we were so distracted at the time.

To detect early warning signals, you need to build up your curiosity. Paying attention involves asking many questions and developing a wide network of friends and family willing to tell you the truth, even when it is spiked with anxiety and panic.

Collect all the rumors and paranoia that blow around you and your life and then separate the signal from the noise. Now, that’s paying attention.

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Paying attention also asks that we ask the important question –

“What can you do today that will make a difference, not only in your life but in others?”

Becoming a More Attentive & Thoughtful Human

Encourage yourself to grow with quick and easy learning (YouTube), and create a personal mindset that allows you to make well-intentioned mistakes while paying attention. Taking notice, trying new ways of problem solving and staying awake at the wheel of life – it’s all a skill.

Don’t let your mind turn into a black hole where bright ideas go in but nothing useful ever comes out. Be an idea-driven human that values fresh thinking and doing.

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Understand your strengths and weakness which will show you where your vigilance is strong and where you are vulnerable. That’s paying attention to yourself.

Minding What Matters

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‘What actions can I take that will benefit not just myself, not just my  family, not just my community, not just my work, but all it’ – that’s when you start to see possibilities for greater freedom.”  That’s when you start paying attention to what matters. Inspired by “Leading the Life You Want“.

Happy and successful people focus on what really matters and who really matters to them. And then they take actions that are consciously and deliberately designed to make things better for them and the people around them.

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Find meaning in mundane tasks while playing on your strengths. Apply skills you have in one area of your life to another.

Act with creativity and courage—and continually experiment with new ways of getting things done. An exercise for enhancing your skill in being innovative is called Scenarios. Identify a goal in any part of your life, and describe the results you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can. Then identify three alternative courses of action that would achieve the same results. For each potential path, list the resources you will need, the people whose help you’ll draw on, and how much of a stretch beyond your comfort zone this would be for you. By taking time to think through different options, you increase the flexibility of your thinking. Brainstorming about creative possibilities puts your focus on the goal, or results, rather than on one way to get there.

Inspired by Leading the Life You Want and 18 Questions that could change your life

 

 

 

Dismiss What Insults Your Soul

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“Life requires of man spiritual elasticity, so that he may temper his efforts to the chances that are offered.”

Viktor E. Frankl

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“Change is essential for survival. All life forms must adapt to their fluctuating circumstances. All form of life result from the process of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. The universe is in a constant state of chaos. We each have chaos implanted into our bones. Nature wires all of us for change.”

Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

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“One of the most remarkable of man’s characteristics is his capacity for becoming used to conditions of almost any kind, whether good or bad, both in the self and in the environment, and once he has become used to such conditions they seem to him both right and natural. This capacity is a boon when it enables him to adapt himself to conditions which are desirable, but it may prove a great danger when the conditions are undesirable. When his sensory appreciation is untrustworthy, it is possible for him to become so familiar with seriously harmful conditions of misuse of himself that these malconditions will feel right and comfortable.”

F. Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self

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“Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.”

Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

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“There’s no such thing as a mistake, really. It’s just an opportunity to do something else.”

Ralph Steadman

 

A snake doesn’t mourn when it is time to shed it’s skin.

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Featured Illustration – Walt Whitman

 

 

The Case for Being Cautiously Optimistic

Being cautiously optimistic keeps me informed and realistic while remaining hopeful about the outcomes I wish to manifest.

Being too realistic can dry up my soul, but being too optimistic can make me extremely delusional.

If I see only the worst, it destroys my capacity to do something and if I only see the best, I may become blindsided by the bullshit I’m telling myself as things go horribly wrong.

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A case for remaining causiously optimistic throughout the day.

1. I remain clear and focused

The optimism bias (also known as unrealistic or comparative optimism) is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

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Four factors exist that cause a person to be optimistically biased: their desired end state, their cognitive mechanisms, the information they have about themselves versus others, and overall mood.[1]

The optimistic bias is seen in a number of situations. For example: people believing that they are less at risk of being a crime victim,[2] smokers believing that they are less likely to contract lung cancer or disease than other smokers, first-time bungee jumpers believing that they are less at risk of an injury than other jumpers,[3] or traders who think they are less exposed to losses in the markets.[4]

2.  My decisions are realistic.

The are based in reality, not in some daydream of how I want reality to be but more focused on how I am designing and producing the outcomes.

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3. I carefully weigh the pros and cons

I weigh the pros and cons and stay focused on the results I want – knowing I can achieve them, because I am optimistic that I will get results.

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4. Turning worry into work

Cautious optimism has me turn my worry into work while remaining positive about the outcome because I do a combination of what is tried and true while experimenting with fresh new solutions.

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5.  Impulsive vs Intentional

I am less prone to make impusive and spontaneous decisions – I am more strategic when I am cautiously optimistic.

6. Time is on My Side

I don’t waste or maybe I should say, I  waste less  time. Grounded and focused in reality and humble and hopeful for the future, I am purposeful. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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7. Open to Opportunity & Outcomes

I move forward and do what needs to be done, but I am not holding onto a set outcome – I am open to different visions and versions of what winning looks like for me.

8. Celebrate the Moments

My careful optimism has me recognize the small wins throughout the day. Celebrating the bits of wins throughout the day – acknowledging my small moments and accomplishments.

9. A Reminder to Be Here Now

Caution + optimism has me locked in to being present to what needs to be done now for the future.

10. Correct and Certain

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When I am cautious, I correct my mistakes. Having a sense of certainty and understanding and knowing what needs to be corrected in order to continue to make certain that I achieve everything I want to achieve.

11. Awake & Aware

I  remain on the look out for problems and I dare to make them opportunities. I ask myself, what’s great about this problem? Does it propose an opportunity to make something better?

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12. Hacking Away without Skipping the Essential

I recognize that there are no real short cuts – just smart strategies and in turn I am less delusional while focused on great outcomes.

No skimping – no scamming – just making sure I take each step carefully while remaining hopeful while proceeding with intelligence and faith.

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Having faith in the outcome while I am willing to learn, grow and make corrections.

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As We Are, So It Is

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Our perception builds and constructs our reality; which in turn becomes our life. With the help of our good, bad and indifferent judgements, our choice of language, our cognitive biases, past experiences and memories, we  assemble how we choose to see the world. All of these inferences paint the way we experience our lives and effect the lives of those closest to us.

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What we see is one thing, what we perceive is a completely different matter. Our reality is a co-production. Everything is a projection of what we hold inside our mind. So, I wonder, what if everything we see is really our very own optical illusion?  Everything in a way, our own private hell hall of hallucinations.

Like this beautiful parrot. . .

 

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That’s really a woman painted to look like a parrot.

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What if we could change the way we see everything, to see more clearly, to expand our mind and in turn our world?   What can we bring to this next moment, day, week, year so that we may live a life filled with more purpose and meaning?

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Instead of allowing our brains to create a haphazard existence based on our misconceptions and judgements. . .

What if we played a more active role in the process of creating our lives?

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Perhaps we begin with examining some of our cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that affects the decisions and judgments that people make.

Cognitive Biases can screw up our thinking and decision making.

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I am curious, which cognitive biases do you relate to?

 

Side note: a fascinating look at some of the most impressive optical illusions.

Featured photography by Laura Williams

On Thinking Clearly & Writing More Nobly

The Goal: A Completely Transparent & Unclouded Mind

I am not an online shopper. I don’t buy much stuff at all. But this week I’m anxiously checking my mailbox daily. I’ll try (almost) anything to tame my unsettled and restless monkey mind.

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What did I order, you ask? A brain boosting mushroom (minus the visuals ) coffee with lion’s mane (supposedly good for memory and in a category of safe, smart drugs or nootropics) as well as chaga and Rhodiola which was used by the vikings to calm the nervous system while enhancing immunity from Four Sigmatic.

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I am also creating my own filters so I can focus on. . .

Paying Attention to What Matters Most

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As I listen to Jason Silva at The Sydney Opera House explore the exponential growth of technology and how it is shaping our personalities, I realize how much a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.  In a world of abundance, the only scarcity is human attention. Recommended reading: from Kevin Kelly The Inevitable, Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future.

How Time Totally Trumps Money

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With all there is to be distracted by. . .hell, time moves oh too quickly.

So as I focus on what to study, read, learn and create, I tell myself, I can always make more money, but I can’t create more time.

Listen to How to Waste Money to Improve the Quality of Your Life

 

On Writing More Clearly & Nobly

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Studying Lu Chi’s Wen Fu: The Art of Writing

From Catalogue of Genres

A body of writing may take any of a thousand forms,

and there is no one right way to measure.

One whose language remains muddled cannot do it;

only when held in a clear mind can the language become noble.

10 Ways to Really Thrive

I think to some extent we all want to improve our lives. We all want things to be better. A better career, more money, less weight, more adventures, loving relationships. Right? I don’t know if I have met anyone who doesn’t want some improvement somewhere in their lives. So what’s the problem?

I think what’s difficult is the change that is required to improve. That’s where we get stuck.

It’s really hard to change you, but it’s much easier to change your patterns

Patterns, habits, ruts. Whatever you want to call them, these are the ways in which we typically face the day and approach everything we do. Today’s post is about altering the way we behave to rapidly improve the way we live.

  1. Understanding that the Foundation of Stress is Fear. 

We many not want to admit it, but anything we are stressed about usually stems from fear. Think about it. Stress at work may be the result of fear of losing our jobs. Stress at home may be about fear of speaking our minds and rocking the boat.

Facing our fears and creating safety nets and back up plans will usually help reduce our stress. If you are stressed about your job than perhaps it’s time to update your resume, build your skill set, take on technology. If your relationships have you stressed perhaps it’s time for the talk, therapy, trying something new or changing the way you communicate.

2. Getting Others to Really Listen

So much stress in our relationships can come from not being heard. You can improve your communication skills and ultimately get others to listen to you when you first understand that people aren’t listening to what you have to say, they are listening for what they want to hear. The faster you give them what they want, the quicker you have them. – Nancy Halpern, Leadership Coach

Don’t communicate for the sake of talking. Be more thoughtful and think about who you are talking to and what their fears may be first. Instead of trying to muscle your message down their throat, think about what the other is fearing and the results you want from the message.

Empathy is the current that connects us all.

3. Managing Your Perceptions & Understanding What is Possible

Transforming your life also begins with managing your perceptions. I truly believe we lie to ourselves daily. We think things are so much easier than they really are and that we are so much more effective than we truly are. You cannot live naively in a fantasy world and just believe your way to a better life. Whatever “better” looks like for you – more money, more free time, more peace-of-mind, more friends. Real change begins with understanding what is actually possible.

1. Understand what is possible for you.

 2.Prioritize what you think is truly important to change.

3. Construct how you will go about creating what you want.

And then fiercely, with a plan and with energy, but also with flexibility and an open mind, begin the steps to improve your circumstances.

4. Designing a Life That Works for You. The Step-by-Step Plan

Reality check. Do not deal with the world the way you wish it was, deal with it the way it is right now. In order to design the life you want, you first have to fully accept the way it is right now. Truth is, your situation might be quite bad, but. . .

Although self-doubt can feel very real, it has little bearing on what is or isn’t possible.

Start with what you’ve got. Hold on to your strengths, grab what’s good and build from there.  Reality is your friend and the foundation for success. Inspired by Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is the Way

5. Self-Awareness Leads to Success

Pay damn close attention to the stories you play inside your head. Those scenarios that scare you. That negative self-narrative can be massively destructive (I’m not smart enough, not athletic enough, not strong enough, not liked-enough. . .) or massively empowering (I am a life long learner and a student of life, I build my mental and physical strength daily with practice, I meet life head on and take challenges on the chin and I let kindness lead the way, as I become the friend I want to have.)

Changing Your Story, Changes Your Life

Changing your thoughts, changes your story

Changing your story, changes your behavior

Changing your behavior, changes your relationships

Changing your relationships, changes your life

6. Turning Expectation into Appreciation

Everything at our finger tips. Google this, download that. Plug into this, link to that, tag, search and find.  Everything we need is an instant away. It is no wonder we expect so much with so much available to us. This sets high expectations for getting what we need whenever we want it in an instant. The downside of immediate gratification is that it doesn’t always show up.

Instead of expecting things to always go your way,

start appreciating what you already have. 

7. Raise the Bar on What Suffering Feels Like

Sure it is easy to get frustrated when your website doesn’t load fast enough or you haven’t met sales goals for the day or you had a blow up with your partner. Most of it is all BS, not important and nothing that will ruin your life for good. But in the moment, oh how we can explode.

The only real problems are health problems. Everything else, especially if money can solve it, is not suffering. Aim to suffer less.

8. All Problems need Energy to Live

When you remember what problems are really serious than you just wont give the daily challenges the same amount of energy. All problems big or small need your time and attention to live. I don’t recommend ignoring problems all together, because sometimes left ignored, small problems can turn into big ones. Just keep it in perspective and get into solution. Expect little problems. Keep some time on the calendar each day to put out those little fires before they flare up. Just don’t let them flare you up.

9. Problems are Easier to Solve in a Better State of Mind

When your head heats up and your mood turns to a mild rage because of a problem that’s really just an expected challenge, the best weapon is to slow down. Cool off. Take a few breaths before you start to think. A boiling brain will not build a better way. To be cool and collected is a more elegant way to live.

10. Show Up with All You’ve Got

When we show up with everything we have, we give it our best shot. This is what we have to give the world. To be fully present in a conversation, at our jobs, in our roles. We remain ready, willing and able to serve. To serve is to care and to care is to love.

Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. Love is energy and energy takes effort.

Go ahead. Make the effort.

Inspiration

Ryan Holiday, Author of The Obstacle is the Way interviewed by London Real

The Obstacle is the Way, one of the best self-performance books to date. A must read.

Marie Forleo interviews Tony Robbins about what it takes to have an extraordinary life.

Lessons from Geniuses, Billionaires and Tinkerers with Chris Young

 

Habits of a Strong Mind

All of us are facing some type of personal challenge and this post is meant to help you, my  dear reader, face your challenges with a new outlook and a stronger mind.

“The perceiving eye is weak, the observing eye is strong.”- Miyamoto Musashi

The observing eye sees events, clear of distraction, exaggerations, and misconceptions. The perceiving eye sees “insurmountable obstacles” or “major setbacks”.

In our own lives, how many problems seem to come from applying judgements to things we don’t control, as though there were a way they were supposed to be?

How often do we see what we think is there or should be there, instead of what is actually there?

If you are facing a problem today, hold back your emotions. Observe the problem, see things as they are and nothing more than they are.

Read: