It’s Easy

I want to reverse our perspectives for a moment about our lives. Humor me. I dare you to lighten up your load for a minute. Especially during a time of so much stress and anxiety. With so many of us in need of a break, I offer this.

Maybe, just maybe, our lives are suppose to be easier than this. Perhaps we weren’t meant to struggle so much. Could it be that the only reason it seems hard is because we tend to move against the natural order of things? Yes, we are all going through changes, through difficult times. Moving fast and fighting the flow.

What if your complaining brain turned its mantra upside down. What if we changed our thoughts from this is hard to -this is simple. This living is easy. What if we said to ourselves each day, “I was born to be happy, joyful and at peace.” Without strife.

Why not try going with life, instead of against it.

I know I’ve personally had enough. I’m going to give the east ride a whirl.

Featured artist:

Anna Tsvell

It’s a Good Day, All Day

Understanding what triggers you emotionally and setting yourself up for a good day. By Madeline Johnson

Mondays can bring so much promise. Like a new year, Mondays can offer a clean slate. A fresh start. A chance to begin again as you plot and plan for a better, more productive week.

Setting out to have a good day, a good week or a good year begins with a conscious knowledge of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires. It starts with knowing who you are and how you will navigate your day to get where you want to go. You understand there will be inevitable distractions.

You need to know what sets you off. What disrupts your day. What makes you feel angry, needy, shutdown and frustrated. What triggers a bad mood for you.  Anything that makes you experience a negative emotional response that could pull you off course.

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Understanding how you react to people and situations throughout the day will help you identify patterns in your life and develop a better understanding of the events in your life that usually lead to a problem, similar to what Mei does at work. Mei is an artificial intelligence messaging assistant that warms of personality changes based on communication with co-workers.

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Knowing What Set’s You Off

What triggers you? It’s important to identify when you feel the need to be accepted by others, understood, in control of the situation, paid attention to, at peace. Understand if it is important for you to have things in order, to feel safe and secure, to have a bit of fun during the day. Are you getting the respect you think you deserve? Do you feel like your talents are needed?

Do you always need to feel right? Are you comfortable? Calm? Do you feel as if your life is balanced? Are you spending too much time on work and not enough with your friends? Is your life way too predictable? Are you a bit bored with what you are doing?

Could you use a bit of challenge in your career? Your relationship? Are you feeling like you are liked, valued and being treated fairly by others?

Does everything feel a bit too chaotic around you? Like something could break, crack or fall apart at any minute?

Do you believe that others are ignoring you? Avoiding you? Do you feel included?

Make it your mission to understand how you operate.

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If at any point during the day you feel out of sorts, off, emotionally frustrated, take a pause.  Breathe deeply. Calm your mind. Don’t get so worked up.

Try sitting up straight and breathing deeply to the count of six. Breathe through your nose for six counts and out your mouth for six. Go slowly. Deep, deliberate inhalations and exhalations. This will calm you down.

Take a moment to understand what you need right now? Do you need to be patient? More tolerant? Less tolerant? Perhaps you need to explain yourself again? Let others know how you feel? Show some compassion? Walk away?

Before you take action, question your own thinking. Know if what you are thinking and feeling is actually true, or if it is a projection of what you negatively think is true.

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What might trigger you?

  • Someone rejecting you.
  • Someone leaving you (or the threat that they will).
  • Helplessness over painful situations.
  • Someone discounting or ignoring you.
  • Someone being unavailable to you.
  • Someone giving you a disapproving look.
  • Someone blaming or shaming you.
  • Someone being judgmental or critical of you.
  • Someone being too busy to make time for you.
  • Someone not appearing to be happy to see you.
  • Someone coming on to you sexually in a needy way.
  • Someone trying to control you.
  • Someone being needy, or trying to smother you.

Read more here

You’ll probably want to avoid them, but find out why they are behaving the way they are – and why you are reacting they way you do.

Realize everyone is trying to trigger you.

Advertisers and marketers bake emotional triggers into their brand messaging. They know how strong emotional triggers will motivate you to act from feelings like fear and desire.  These emotions have effect on you, whether it’s feeling like your life is lacking excitement, adventure and love from an Instagram story to feeling like you are a lonely, loser and not enough from a YouTube ad. The messages are incessant. Turn them off.

Getting a leg up on emotional triggers. Face them . . .

  • Do the most important things first this morning. Understand what you need to do vs what you want to do.
  • Watch what you tolerate.
  • Expect yourself to be triggered by something or someone and have a plan. Avoid or face it.
  • Spend some time alone during the day.
  • Practice being more compassionately assertive.
  • Decide how you will respond to how others mistreat you. Not react. Respond.
  • Try to understand others. God only knows what they are going through.
  • Protect your time at all costs. Tech apps below to do just that.
  • Let others know when you won’t be available. Make something up – like you have an important meeting to go to. They won’t know. Or tell the truth. You are working on something big and need to focus.
  • Decide what you will pay attention to today. If you can, put your phone on airplane mode for a while.

Be strong.

8 Things Mentally Strong People Do Everyday

Technology to help you say no to distractions and to help you have a better day, all day.

Freedom app helps you protect your time, so you can focus on getting things done during the day.

One Big Thing ensures that you focus on your main priority, that one big thing, all day long.

Headspace is like a gym membership for your mind. 10 minutes of meditation a day to help burn off the busy in your brain.

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Featured Art

Indonesia based artist Roby Dwi Antono works meticulously in painting, illustration, and drawing.  His paintings are especially detailed, depicting dreamy scenes.

Peace of Mind, Your Highest Goal

Let peace of mind be your highest goal. Madeline Johnson for Undisputed Origin

One day, after so much anxiety, you wake up and realize that peace of mind is everything and you do nothing that disturbs it and you guard it with your life.

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APPLY WITHIN

You once told me
You wanted to find
Yourself in the world –
And I told you to
First apply within,
To discover the world
within you.

You once told me
You wanted to save
The world from all its wars –
And I told you to
First save yourself
From the world,
And all the wars
You put yourself
Through.

 

Poem by

poet, writer and philosopher Suzy Kassem

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Recommended Reading

40 Ways to Create Peace of Mind  by Lori Deschene the founder of Tiny Buddha and author of Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions

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Featured Artwork by

Jason Limon is a painter and sculptor that was born in San Antonio, Texas.

The Endless Struggle to Think Well of Ourselves & Living in a World Where Everyone is Real

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

T.S. Eliot “The Cocktail Party”

 

 

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Fact: A complete stranger upon meeting you within the first five minutes of getting to know you, will know more about your flaws than you will ever learn in a life time. 

-Alain de Botton

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Caught up in their own self-centered drama, most wander the planet fantasizing that they are a caring and kind person even when inside they know they are a absolutely reckless and uncaring.  We all walk the fine line of wanting to be accepted and appreciated while anxiously defending our ego.

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I agree with Alain de Botton –

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However, there is a difference between living for approval and connecting with others without ego.

Living in a world where everyone is real. (an excerpt from Radical Acceptance)

One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed about the Dalai Lama is how he treats everyone equally. When the Dalai Lama says “My religion is kindness” he is expressing his commitment to live with the unconditionally open and loving heart of compassion. Kindness is a facet of the jewel of compassion.  It is the desire to help that arises when we remember that we are connected with every living being we meet. Each person is precious, each person is fragile, each person matters.

Remembering we are all real.

 

Read:

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Be Who You Are, Not Who You Wish You Were

How to be authentic with Madeline Johnson, writer, thinker and strategist.

I am helping this genuinely lovely couple build their wellness empire. They own a mine, a mine with liquid gold. Lucky them. So blessed. I consult them about business, marketing and growth plans. I help them build actionable strategies and tactics. We have weekly FaceTime conversations and tonight after yet another long call they blew my mind with something they said to me.

They said, “Madeline, We are so happy we met you. You are so positive and you make us believe we can do anything. You make us feel so strong. You open our minds and you have made us understand that being around positive people is very important.”

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They didn’t know it but I was melting inside. My heart filled with a lightness, a brightness I haven’t felt in a very long time. I know that what I need is to feel valued.  Yes it is true, we all need to feel deeply appreciated. Tonight I felt recognized, respected and prized.  I also felt happy, light and free.

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I use to think feeling happy was practically impossible.

Now, honestly, between you and I well, I abhor the word “happy” and it’s my father’s fault.

So, Why The Hell am I So Happy?

I’ll never forget what my father, a depressing kind of dude at times, said to me when I was about 15.  You see I am a smiler. I smile through everything. I smile when I am sad, when I am angry, by myself, with others. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I just feel a sort of smile in my heart.  So Mr. moody swinger, daddy O passes me in the hall and asks me –

Why are you so “happy”?

Nice thing to hear from father dear during my formative years.

My automatic response  because I am. I am happy.  Genuinely happy.

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Doesn’t matter what’s going down, I am always going to be happy. It’s just my nature. Sure I feel grief, sadness, anger, rage – yup, even rage, but for some reason, I always swing back to happy.  This is where the good vibes grow.

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P.S. If you want to be happy, be aware of manipulative ass hats with selfish agendas.

Hardwired for Happiness

Changing your thoughts to create your future by Madeline Johnson with Dr. Joe Dispenza

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza in this lecture, 95% of who we are by the time we are 35 is a memorized set of behaviors, a pattern of emotional reactions, continual unconscious habits, hardwired attitudes, rigid beliefs and perceptions.
We become very predictable people.
If we decide that perhaps we want something better, perhaps change in our lifes, we must start with our thoughts.

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If you agree and believe that the way you think has some effect on you life, than changing the way you think is the only real solution for transformation.

In order to become better versions of who we are for a better life, we must change our personalities.

Terri Duan

How Our Personalities Are Formed

We have around 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s an average of 2500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. Out of those 60-70 thousand thoughts that you think, 90% of those thoughts are the same thoughts as the day before.

If you believe (like I do) that your thoughts are some how connected to your life, then the same thoughts always lead to the same choices, which eventually lead to the same outcomes.

Thoughts for Change

Since the same choices always lead to the same behaviors, the same behaviors create the same experiences.

The same experiences produce the same emotions.

Those very same emotions drive those very same thoughts.

A vicious circle and a predictable life.

Your thoughts, fueled by emotions effect your entire life, including your biology, your neurocircuitry, your neurochemistry, your neurohormones, and even your genetic expression. It is all equal to how you think, how you act and how you feel.

How you think, how you act and how you feel is called your personality and your personality creates your personal reality.

Art by Robert Jahns

 

What Makes Life So Damn Complicated

You.
You make life complicated.
You think you’re so important.
You want it your way, or no way.
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You have a choice right now. A choice that can change everything. You can continue to choose to push against reality and struggle with it or you can choose to move with the world and use that energy to create something new.
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Use the forces you have within your power your strength, courage, and conviction.
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You always have something within your reach.
Today it may as simple your smile, but the energy of a smile can light up a room and lift spirits.
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Life is not complicated at all. We make it that way.
It’s when we behave selfishly.
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Take advantage of every moment that presents itself as an opportunity to be kind, compassionate and easy to be with today.
And if for some reason you don’t have the bandwidth for that, then do no harm.
How can we uncomplicate things today?
Be the missing ingredient.  The one to soothe each situation and to raise the vibes. Be the listener, the lover, the mender, the healer and the bigger person with a generous heart.
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Read The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

 

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Artwork by Peter Beard.

He married a supermodel, photographed rock stars and came from a wealthy family.  Easy on the eyes too.

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Peter Hill Beard is an American artist, photographerdiarist and writer who lives and works in New York City and Kenya. His photographs of Africa, African animals and the journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published since the 1960s.

From Recklessly Selfish to Radically Selfless – The Way of The Warrior Queen

No matter what happens to you, remember you control the direction of your life.

cffa4b5a79e30829272a43dac1860688“If you have strength of character, you can use that as fuel to not only be a survivor but to transcend and thrive. You must use an internal alchemy to turn something rotten and horrible into gold.”

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“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualist concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. . .so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness.”  MJK jr. Read the entire brilliant thing here.

Take note: this post was inspired by the King himself and the incredible speech above and another interesting dude, Jocko Willink, decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead & Win.

Not Dead, Don’t Quit

Serving with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield, Jocko believes we can all benefit from creating our own code of conduct. Call it what you will, standard procedure, a moral code, rules of road, your manifesto. . .Jocko and Martin Luther King Jr. had me thinking about what I aspire to be less and more of.

Note: two habits I have recently adapted into my daily practice of MJ’s experiment in human development include . . .

  1. “wishing others well”, inspired by Sakyong Mipham author of Turning the Mind into An Ally and . . .
  2. creating this creed below (my principles, modus operandi, approach to life), which I read every morning, to remind myself to hold the standard, because well . . .

If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to make the progress you want, take a look around you. Most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves. They have what psychologists call an “external locus of control,” where they believe factors outside of them dictate the direction of their lives.

No they do not. YOU CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF YOUR LIFE.

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A Warrior Queen’s Creed 

(hey, this is a major step up for me, I use to be a worrier queen)

  • A Warrior Queen is very discerning about who she aligns herself with, befriends, spends time with – for they must energize her, not deplete her.
  • A Warrior Queen awakens to each day with absolute gratitude and appreciation for the breath that gives her life.

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A Warrior Queen knows that she is a tiny, vulnerable being riding on a blue dot in space, not the center of the universe. (this is the money right here).

A Warrior Queen is always willing to help others rise up and become the best that they can be. Even when she mistakens a friend’s call as an interuption in her day.

A Warrior Queen knows what motivates her, for she is very self aware, to the point of calling bullshit on the lies she tells herself.

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  • A Warrior Queen understands that REAL forgiveness keeps the flow of love pumping through her heart.
  • A Warrior Queen acknowledges both life and death, good and evil, joy and sorrow and never dives into escapism or fantasy about how she wishes the world to be. She sees everything for what it is, with radical acceptance. (OH MY GOD THIS WAS NOT ME A MONTH AGO, I SWEAR)

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  • A Warrior Queen looks for the FACTS, not fiction in every situation. Everyone should try this one, a game changer really. (inspired by episode 216 of James Altucher’s podcast with author of Sapiens, Yural Harari.
  • A Warrior Queen respects all living beings, especially her worst enemies. Soooooo hard to do, yet a very strategic move.
  • A Warrior Queen is always learning, reading, listening to those with the brightest brains, highest intelligence and gathering wisdom along the way.
  • A Warrior Queen practices extreme self care. She moves and exercises (her demons too), eats healthy, rests well to stay strong and energized throughout the day.
  • A Warrior Queen trains in earnest with a meditation ritual each day to remain focused and in the present moment, awake and alive.
  • A Warrior Queen is full of compassionate empathy and loving radical acceptance and kindness for what is.

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  • A Warrior Queen has a heart that is ready for anything.
  • A Warrior Queen sees situations as they are, not bigger than they are.
  • A Warrior Queen guards her mind, her words and her wishes, always thinking thoughts that lead to positive emotions. (this one is a huge challenge for me, but I am improving).
  • A Warrior Queen is comfortable with the uncomfortable truths of life.

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  • A Warrior Queen appreciates every single encounter each day, for she knows life is sacred.
  • A Warrior Queen does not fantasize about catastrophes that might happen in the future. She stays present and prepared in this moment.
  • A Warrior Queen is centered, calm, cool and collected. She moves with purpose and confidence throughout her days.

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  • A Warrior Queen does not resist reality and does not desire permanence for she knows the unchanging truth of change and relinquishes attachment to any outcome. This includes people, places and things. Her shift in perception of reality, that everything is impermanent helps her appreciate the nature and master of life. This world is made of infinite and ever changing moving parts. There is nothing to hold on to.
  • A Warrior Queen wakes up to what samsara is, the suffering of life. She rises above the suffering and emerges with the understanding that everything is impermanent.
  • A Warrior Queen knows what creates more sufferingacting in non-virtuous ways out of bewilderment, fixation, aggression, jealousy and pride. (oh my family would have a field day here – hey guys if you are reading this,  I Love You, work with me here).

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  • A Warrior Queen acts with intention of kindness, love, patience and non-attachment because these intentions elevate the mind above negative emotions. (Sometimes so hard to do when waiting on a long line at the UPS store. But you do it. You just do it.)
  • A Warrior Queen wishes others well throughout the day, knowing her heart can melt even the harshest judgement and suffering.
  • A Warrior Queen is never selfish. She has a noble heart that desires all to find their true happiness (pro tip: this is another thing that is really hard to do when you want to punch someone in the face really hard- but you just do it). She works for all to go in the direction of their hearts.
  • A Warrior Queen doesn’t burden others with her suffering, but shares the wisdom she has gained. (inspired by a Ted Talk from Carolyn Myss “Choices that Can Change Your Life

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  • A Warrior Queen acts from the sacred self and chooses throughout the day to be at peace. (and sometimes that means avoiding people who are a real pain in the ass).
  • A Warrior Queen moves through life from a deep conscious knowing and has NO DOUBT that she is a warrior queen and so are all her brothers and sisters on this spinning planet.
  • A Warrior Queen is filled with only unconditional love for all beings.

I am the Warrior Queen.

 

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“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” Tony Morrison

Asylum Art sketches Januz Miralles

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Seeking What Makes Us Feel Calm & Confident

I was thinking today about how it feels to be continually thrown off balance. To be provoked and manipulated by others, especially those that are harder-to-handle.  I was wondering how it is we can become reactive to every annoying thing that is thrown our way and what we need to do to remain composed in the face of unreasonableness. How we can train ourselves to cultivate an inner calm beyond meditation. How we can feel more centered and even more balanced, maybe top that off with a deeper faith and confidence in ourselves and humanity, and ultimately feel downright comfortable in our own skin.
When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit. 
All day today, I thought about what makes us feel that we are all right with the world. What connects us with the wiser part of ourselves and what activities bring us the necessary strength to deal with the chaotic and the craziness that every day daily living can conjure up.  I look at these activities as the stamps in our passports to getting our own power back.
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They are the things we do to help strengthen us and stay balanced when life knocks us around. When we are beaten and busted and feeling agitated and disgusted. When we are overwhelmingly frustrated.
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A part of seeking what makes us feel strong is deciding the places and spaces and situations we put ourselves in order to build back that serenity and peace and stillness that keeps us sane.
I believe it is our responsibility to seek what makes us strong. I think it’s easier to do if we begin by relinquishing control of what we cannot possibly change.
One of the most rewarding moments in life is when you finally find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.
So what do we do to travel back home, to comfort ourselves, to relieve that pain and suffering brought on by this daily struggle called living.
Things we do to be present to our own selves. To show up for ourselves. Praying in church, meditating in the morning, running in the rain, crunching and squatting at the gym, journaling for ourselves,  browsing through a book store, enjoying coffee and croissants with friends, a long walk by the water. . .
We start by carving out some time for ourselves.
Seeking what brings us back to center gives us a sense of control, a boost of needed energy and a dose of self love that keeps us sustained and encouraged to keep the party moving forward.
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A healthy practice to embrace, we have become use to a low-level of generalized anxiety and confusion as we navigate our daily lives. We are so entrenched in the movement of go, go, go that we don’t even acknowledge how revved up and in knots our spirit and our essence has become.
Of course we are more reactionary when we lose ourselves in the daily nonsense and bull shit of life.
While turning inward can be helpful to touch the peace you oh so need, I also believe it is the activities we do, the places we choose to go and the people we decide get our attention that also activate and/or deactivate our inner peace.
We must seek more pleasurable moments. First we must identify how many we are having in a day.
Inspired by “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham.
Cheryl Richardson: Personal Growth: How to Give Yourself a Radical Upgrade
on The James Altucher Show.
Joe Dispensa – guided meditations
artwork by Barbara Kruger
 
I am experimenting with capturing the art of daily living on camera while creating short shorts that emotionally resonate on some level in your mind and heart.

How Good Can it Get?

Because I am more prone to incessant worry about future events than I am to anticipating good outcomes, or pleasant surprises, I continue to struggle with my pessimism bias. That is I tend to exaggerate the likelihood that negative things will happen in the future.

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This morning, walking back from the gym, I had a thought drop in from the sky. A simple little question just popped into my head.  The question I pondered. . .

I wonder, how good can it get?

or better said by Alan Cohen . . .

 

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Here, a cheat sheet to the many cognitive biases that keep us stuck.

Featured image “Open mind” ceramic series by Johnson Tsang