People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept.
- where we are
- what we have to work with
- who is within our company (including our crappy-ass selves)
“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.
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.
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
We might neglect our future selves because of some failure of belief or imagination. – Dereck Parfit.
Sunday seems like as good a day as any other to start thinking about ways I can strengthen my mind. To start with, I stumbled upon this smart list of brain training, mind-soothing exercises.
A Mind Clearing & Expanding List of Good Thinking Skills
The truth is, the quality of your mind determines the quality of your life.
I have to diligently guard what enters my mind. Note to self: stave off the temptation to randomly search YouTube. Consume Quality. Read and watch only quality books & films.
Don’t believe everything I think. Don’t hold onto every little thought. Release, and let it go. Meditation can help you with this.
Give my mind some well-earned rest. The importance of self-care.
Brighten my mind with hopeful, peaceful and positive thoughts. Training my mind to be calm and to ward off the alarming effects of long-term, chronic stress.
Focus on what I want, not what I don’t want. This ain’t easy. The mind always wants to go back to ruminating worry and concern.
Develop a healthy rule book for good thinking.
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Understand & know what I value. Freedom, truth, a sense of security, peaceful living and love.
Take my mind on adventurous trips. Inspire it by doing more of what I enjoy.
Feed it good food. Each brain cell gets a boost from healthy nutrition.
And know that I have a choice – how I react to any given situation.
Avoid negative people, gossip, bullshitters and crazy makers at all costs. Like the plague.
Learn new skills. Study what I am curious about. Dabble.
Free my mind of unnecessary pain, guilt and fear. Ask questions instead. Stay curious. Continuously ask yourself, Why are you doing what your doing? Like right now, why are you reading this? I know why I am writing it. To help me become a better version of myself than I was yesterday.
Organize my surroundings. Remove what is useless. Declutter my life and my brain.
Most of us value intensity. Intensity makes us feel like we are busy, productive and important. Not. True. Slowdown.
Our breathing can shift our minds. Breathing to conserve my energy. Yes, there is a direct link between emotions and our breathing patterns.
Expand my mind in the great outdoors. Clear my mind.
Beware of Brutum Fulmen. Apparently coined by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, a brutum fulmen is a harmless or empty threat. It literally means “senseless thunderbolt.”
Lot’s of things in life are empty threats. Even those you scare yourself with – ignore them.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
‘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.
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.
This morning I imagined what the 80 year old version of myself would tell me, if I asked her, “What do I do now?” “What should I focus on?”
What wisdom would she have, nearing the end of her life? What would she have focused on today?
She’d tell me to bike more, write more, film everything. Tell everyone I love how much I love them. Hug more, kiss more. Squeeze them tight. Use my creativity to connect with those I love and those I will love in the future. Arms and heart wide open, she would tell me to vulnerably step into the world and be me.
She’d tell me to fuck fear. Let go of the negative thoughts. Skin the skeptic. Look for the beauty in all. There are so many good people to love, sweet creatures to care for and wonderous places to inspire. Find them. Get out today and connect on purpose. Smile, it’s a great heart opener. It’s your super power. Laugh. Enjoy life to the fullest each moment. Find your tribe. Seek out those who inspire you and meet them with open arms. Exercise. Move your body. Play outdoors.
Seek what you want to find. Chase what makes your heart beat. What makes your heart pound out loud. Friends, food, books, music, work. Go out there and get it all.
Be thoughtful and intentional about everything you do. Your writing, your film, your drawing. Do it on purpose and with a purpose.
Think first, but don’t regret anything. Try not to hurt anyone, including yourself. No time for that. Problems will come and go. It always works out in the end. Stop getting so angry and frustrated. Sail through the storms. There is no time to waste.
Life is a banquet. There is so much to choose from. Taste it all.
Visit friends, follow the inspiring, touch and taste everything that draws you in – that pulls you closer. Feed your curiosity.
Let go of control. Just love.
Four weeks into The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and I am drowning deep in dark emotional pain. Ugggghhhhh, I have protected myself from this real work for way too long. I knew it would be hard, I have avoided facing the truth about what I really fear for a very long time. Looking for short cuts, life hacks. . .rushing through self-repair is never really possible. And damn it, I knew that.
I raise my face to the sky, my mouth wide open, gasping for air. It feels like I am flailing about in the dark, deep cold water, like a helpless, frightened child that has yet learned how to swim confidently through life, exposed to the unwelcome and unknown that I have hidden from myself and the world around me. I do all I can do to avoid facing what is real, my own dark unknown vulnerable mind.
I don’t want to to do this real work. I don’t want to know that I am broken. I don’t care to admit that I am confused, anxious, uncertain, vulnerable, frightened and angry. That’s not who I want to represent me. I want to skip past these ugly emotions. Run from them, crucify them. So what do I do? I strive too hard to heal. I don’t want to do the real digging, fear-facing work. I don’t want dig too deep into my truth to find a fearful young child who must let got and feel all of these unwanted emotions.
Who the hell wants to do that? Yet, I am inspired by the possibilities, by the words of Albert Camus
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”
It’s not easy being real with myself. It doesn’t feel good to actually observe the thoughts that ruin my plans each day. To actually accept how much pain I feel and inflict on myself each morning, as I awake with feelings of lack, insecurity and an incredibly raw feeling of being very, very lost and uncertain about where my life is going. It hurts me and in turn, it hurts others. Some how, some way, I must bring these feelings along for the ride, learning to befriend the parts of me that I find undesirable.
The key to reaching our potential while feeling less shut off and shut down is linked to the ability to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing. Going even beyond that, to the why we do what we do. What triggers our emotions and actions. What pain is behind the purpose.
It could possibly begin with opening up to the Five hard truths you need to accept about yourself.
Our inner critics negatively control the outcomes of our decisions. Our critical and suspicious thoughts place a black cloud and huge road blocks before our well-intentioned plans. We ruin the day before it begins when we don’t become honest with how we really feel and who we really think we are.
Underwater photography by Harry Fayt.
I’m not sure when I adapted such a stressed out, hard-charging approach to life, but I did and it sucked and I am over it. I don’t regret much, but I do feel as if my fretful, grinding approach to work and life has exhausted me with very little more to show for it.
All that grind, all that toil, leading to very little added reward.
What a waste of energy.
Sure I feel successful, but I have over exerted my energy and worried my way to fatigue. The added busy motion, flying headlong into my days, pressing to get things done quickly, hasn’t adding anything of value to my life.
I could have had so much more fun enjoying the process.
So now I am on a mission to change the habits that have led me to feeling exhausted and sometimes even sick.
Make it Simple, But Significant
Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style,” says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health.”
Good Riddance to the Strain, Struggle & Strife
Eliminating the Need to Over Exert my Energy
My plan is to transform my Type A personality to a self-healing nature that is more curious, secure, constructive, responsive, and conscientious. These traits translate to enthusiasm for life, emotional balance, and strong social relationships. Read more about how your personality traits effect your life here.
Barring any states of emergency that require immediate action, I ban all short and unreasonable deadlines. No more guarantees, pressure to promise results or setting up impossible goals.
I will only take on projects that I am exited to tackle and that I will enjoy completing.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t creatively challenge myself.
If there is anything I regret, it is having spent so many of my years moving through my days, huffing, puffing, red-faced to get the maximum out of every day.
I could have done it without the pain.
Rushing ruins the whole thing.
I want to move with more grace and elegance. I believe that with a calmer approach, much of my day can be effortless, enjoyable and effective.
More ways to eliminate the stress from your life.
JR x Blu
In 2007, JR collaborates with Italian artist Blu on a mural installation in Berlin.
Artist Nick Cave
Doubts don’t kill dreams, delusional thoughts do. Our half-beliefs and uncertain thoughts are trying to tell us something very important and it is our responsibility to listen up and act.
Negative mind chatter
These annoying worries that wake us up early and keep us from moving forward, hold the power to help us grow and become stronger.
While most of us tend to drown out the worry, anxiety and concern, I am interested in finding out what happens when instead of tuning out self-doubt, I give it an ear. What is my self doubt trying to tell me?
Listening and questioning about my worry and ruminating thoughts of . . .
Do I have my priorities straight? Am I doing what is most important to me? What is best for all? What have I been ignoring? What should I take care of now?
How have I let others down? Am I treating others and myself in a caring and endearing way? What have I neglected to do?
It tells us that we are not finished, that we can and we should try to become more . . .thoughtful. . . honest, intelligent. . .loving, patient, wise. . .compassionate, empathetic. .
The uncertainty and apprehension of self-doubt, the emotions that ride along, that keep us fearful and manifest into worry and anxiety can really improve us. If we listen and take action.
These feelings don’t have to drown us and we don’t have to drown them.
Yet and while we are at it, we must hold on to some confidence. Anxiety and worry should push us to power on, to move forward and to hone our skills, better our behavior and become an improved version of our former selves. Not break us down.
BUT. . .
First things first, we must cease and desist the ongoing self-delusion.
“you think I’m crazy,” she said.
“no,” he said, “you’re not crazy enough”
Few people nowadays know what man is. Many sense this ignorance and die the more easily because of it . . . I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people . . . I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves. (Hesse 105)
Hesse, Herman. Siddartha, Demian, and other Writings. Ed. Egon Schwarz. New York: Continuum, 1992.
I am deceiving myself every time I . . .
Those who are slow to confess their errors are busy constructing lies to conceal them. – Unknown.
Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938 by Salvador Dali
According to one of my favorite thinkers, change must happen individually, before it can happen on a grander collective scale. Oh to be the change we want to see in the world.
. . .society gains nothing whilst a man, not himself renovated, attempts to renovate things around him. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essay on New England Reformers
Our ability to really influence our reality around us first calls for purposeful self-transformation. Renovating the way we think.
. . .for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost. . .
It starts by being brutally honest with ourselves and realizing there is no need for any of this thinking, if we don’t have each other. Sure we could live like hermits. . . or
understand that we need and belong to one another, love says – we are not our own.
I think the hardest part, the most difficult, is letting go of our ego. First we must know what should be changed, the thoughts that lead to unwanted emotions of anger and pain. Things that can get in the way of real progress. We might study ourselves and thought by thought, we must address the behavior we want to change.
It’s difficult to acknowledge the pain. To take responsibility for the problems we cause in our lives. The hurtful things we say, the anger and lashing rage, the shut down of communication. The selfishness and greed.
Self-awareness can be very difficult for this reason. Our ego does not want us to acknowledge our own faults.
Here are some signs that your ego is in control (inspired from Simple Life Strategies)
1. You get a cheap thrill from gossiping about other people’s problems.
2. You have a power surge to the brain after winning an argument. You just knew you were so right about that.
3. You compare yourself to others who you feel are better or worse off than you. This takes the focus off of you. An easy way out.
4. How dare he, she, they treat you that way? Haters are just going to hate. No, not really. Sometimes it’s just not you.
5. You feel a tinge of jealousy when you see other people having a real good time. Especially on Instagram and Facebook.
6. You go on and on about yourself before addressing anyone else in the room.
7. You’d rather look great than try harder next time.
8. You’re often upset when your not recognized at work. We’re not in pre-school anymore people.
9. You create impossible goals and then beat yourself up when you don’t reach them. This is where I live.
10. You blame others when things fall apart in your life.
Self-awareness starts by admitting our mistakes, looking at our behavior, taking responsibility for our actions.
So I begin by acknowledging my part in all of this.
For not knowing or understanding ourselves is like grabbing the tail to direct the head of a dragon. First we most know.
Next on my reading list
The Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday
There are so many lovely wonderful distractions in life to keep us from doing what we must be doing. Our hobbies, our family, our friends. The things we truly enjoy. And then there are ridiculous distractions. We need to get rid of these to focus. If you want to focus and achieve something important you need to consciously remove unwanted distractions. This practical tip is inspired from a six minute podcast from Leo Babauta, creator of Zen Habits. “Redesigning Your Life’s Interface“.
Leo recommends removing notifications, pop ups and emails, phone messages, blogs as well as news that continues to bombard us throughout the day so we can concentrate on the one important task in front of us.
A Distraction Free Day
Say no to sales pitches, to interruptions. No one walking into your office unannounced anymore. Pay for ad free music on Spotify. Avoid sales meetings at all costs. Read articles that strip out ads. Unsubscribe from ads disguised as newsletters and unfriend people in your life trying to get you to buy into a multi-level sales thing. We’ve got work to do and this important work can’t be distracted by unwanted interruptions. Here is an article I plan to read on the new ad blocking apps.
The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight