What are we free for?

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. By Madeline Johnson

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. Free to experiment and do more with your day.  Free to build what you can’t find but you know you need. Free to have an original thought and express that thought elegantly.

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Why then do we so often choose to waste this freedom? Why are we so careless with the free time we have? Why do we waste our weekends, our evenings, any free time we have in idol pursuits? Surfing the internet, watching bad Netflix series and trolling through Instagram?

I argue, like Colin Wilson that to be truly happy most human beings need a certain amount of stimulus during their free time or they will grow dull, lethargic and perhaps for some, even depressed. This is not a motivational rant about having a positive attitude or being grateful.  This is about doing more with our minds and our lives. This is about using the free time we have to create something new and original.

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Playing it Safe is The Riskiest Thing You Can Do

Many people will account their lives to be successful if they get through them with only minimal pain.  Few aim to rise above a plodding existence. And this, not-withstanding that they often have within them the ability to do something that which perhaps no other human being has done before.

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Merely to do what others have done is often safe and comfortable; but to do something truly original, and do it well, whether appreciated by others or not – that is what being human is really all about and it is alone that what justifies the self-love that is pride. 

From Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride.

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Occupy your day with interesting tasks, challenges and problems to solve.

Strive to spend the majority of your free time creating, exploring, learning, doing.

Challenge your capacities and improve your talents.

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Creative risk taking requires perseverance, struggle and the short term sacrifice of pleasures and comfort, to explore and cultivate the gifts within us, and thus to enjoy the fruits of genuine pride.

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The goal: to attain personal excellence of the kind that sets you apart from others.

Read Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride

Watch Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity 

Featured Artist

Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz. She came to Tehran to study at the Azad University of Tehran where she got her degree in Graphic Design. Sajedi’s creativity, technique and powerful presentation are sure to ensure her an elevated position in the world of Iranian art. She has several motifs she enjoys portraying. However, whether she is depicting her Japanese people, her clowns or her theatrical personages she only portrays women. In all her works her women’s faces are highly made up be it in pain or joy to show how she visualizes women when they leave the security of their homes to enter the world outside. “Women have often told me how much they enjoy using make up because it allows them another face,” Sajedi exclaims in despair. She confesses that she has been highly influenced by Heinrich Boll’s Clown and by Gustav Klimt. She uses Klimt’s depth of color to vivify the pain of the modern woman in any role she decides to thrust herself into. Red plays an important role in the works of this painter. “It’s an aggressive color,” Sajedi says, “and I love aggressive colors.” Sajedi has participated in four group and four solo exhibitions. She is presently living and working in Tehran.

 

 

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.

A Heart-Breaking, Soul-Healing, Amazingly Awful & Ordinary Life

Some of my recent morning notes from inspiring books I’ve been reading. Links included.

Our humanity is expressed must fully in our treatment of others. 

Performance psychologist, Jim Loehr in Tribe of Mentors

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Spencer Tunick’s Nude Installations

It is okay to wander. It is never a mistake to get lost looking for the psychic and soulful kinship of our desires. 

Women Who Run with Wolves

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When we get lost, we need only pause and look at what is true and relax in our heart. We arrive again. Remembering the light of our nature.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

When I feel overwhelmed I realize I am bottlenecked. Bottlenecks help me prioritize.  Feeling overwhelmed can prove to be very useful.

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Attitude before anything. It all starts in your head. Anything can be done with ease when you have the right mind set.

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Discipline equals freedom. Discipline with our time by keeping to a schedule; discipline with our sleep, keeps us awake and energized; discipline with our meals and exercise keeps our health optimal. When we are feeling fully alive, we are free. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

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Everyone has the freedom of choice to express either their high self or something else. Sacred Poetry & Mystical Messages

 

Featured Art 

For nearly seven decades, June Leaf (b. 1929) has created a deeply imagined world of unreal creatures and settings that metaphorically probe the human condition.

 

In Omnia Paratus – Ready for All Things – Self-Awareness & Other Life Advice My Mother Never Told Me

I strongly believe it is everyone’s responsibility to create a firm daily devotion to committing oneself to life long learning and the continual development of waking up with honest self-awareness.

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This morning I was thinking about some of the teachings of spiritual catalyst, Teal Swan, specifically her guidance about the importance of having an emotional wake up call.

“Our emotional selves are children. And they never grow up. We just learn how to parent our emotional selves better.”

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Yes my parents gave me good guidance, but they couldn’t possibly have told me everything. Here are a few lessons I am learning along the way . . .

  • This moment, right here, right now is the only one you have. Feel it, see it, taste it, hear it and take it all in. Be here now.  The book by Ram Dass

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  • Hold sacred an unconditional, nonjudgmental relationship with reality as it is right now.
  • omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis All things change, and we change with them.  Adapt every day.
  • Trust your basic wisdom.
  • Everything takes time. It’s okay to live life on your time. You don’t have to run with the herd.
  • Watch how you talk to yourself. Realize when you are too self-critical. Stop the pattern. Break the loop.

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  • Do not worry about how others look at you, what they are thinking or whether you fit in.  Being “normal” will get you nowhere.
  • When all else fails, be kind.
  • Again, try to be gentle and soft with yourself and with others.
  • Stop pressuring yourself. Rushing anything simply ruins it. Slooooooowwwww down.

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  • There is rarely ever anything to be nervous about.  Face what you think makes you weary.  Get curious about that.
  • Remember you are a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle.
  • Time is precious. There is none to waste.

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  • You have what it takes to try anything you want. There are many options, choices and directions you can go.  Experiment with your life.
  • You are dying with every single breath. Appreciate every single moment. Even the most annoying ones.
  • At any given moment, everything is always as it should be. Acceptance brings serenity.

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  • You can not control everything.
  • You must control the way you respond to others.
  • Get to know what triggers your strongest emotions. There’s the work that needs to be done.

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  • At any given moment, you will know the right thing to do.
  • Be thoughtful about everything, even if others are not.
  • You don’t have to be larger than life, famous or popular. You simply have to play your part in this wonderful life to the best of your ability, every day.
  • Do something ridiculously fun every single day.
  • Whatever action you take, whatever word you say, make sure it decreases pain in the world.
  • People may disappoint you if they aren’t working on themselves. Forgive yourself for being impatient with them. For they no not what they do.
  • Anger and resentment are poison and will manifest into physical ailments. Let go everyday. If you feel yourself getting overly heated and enraged, step away for awhile. Retreat, think, respond.

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  • Your emotions are important for they tell you what to do. Yes, some of them are signals, but they are here to guide you, not take over your day and life.
  • Some emotions are false, yes they are you, trying to protect you, but don’t fall prey to every single one, over reacting to situations is usually related to an over sensitivity to past trauma. The problem arises when you start to react in a bigger way than justified. Read: How to Stop Overreacting.
  • Stop making up doom and gloom stories about what might happen in the future. Not everything is going to be a disaster.
  • When in doubt about what to do, do something good. Good for you, good for others.
  • Open up your heart, be real, be vulnerable. Life is not meant to be lived in the safe zone.
  • The painful moments are the lessons. Move through your problems by facing them for they will tell you a lot about yourself.  What haunts you must be addressed. Release your tendency to run away, to seek pleasure before pain.

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  • Have an unconditional, loving relationship with the world. There is no escape, no exit. There are lessons to be learned every day. Everyone you encounter is your teacher. Pay attention.  Pema Chodron.

I would love to know what lessons you learned on your own. Share below in the comments.

 

 

 

Deep Self Awareness & The Numbness We Call Normal

It’s pretty damn simple really. It all boils down to how we experience our lives. How alive we are in the moment. How we show up.

How we experience life depends on how conscious we truly are.  

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The question is, how deeply awake we are as we experience our life. If we were radically honest with ourselves and woke up enough to notice, we’d admit that the majority of us are just sleepwalking children.

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Everything we do is so habitual. Well, at least for me.

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The God You Would Like to Believe In

Into the sixth week of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and I am actually realizing that what we really want to do is what we are really meant to do and that the notion of striving, sweating, clinging, falling and staying small is just a terrible idea.

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The notion that there really isn’t enough time in our days to do the things we want to do is ridiculous. In the “Recovering A Sense of Abundance” practice, Julia has us writing and thinking about the God consciousness that has remained unexamined since our early childhood. A God that will hold back anything from us is absurd. This includes the freedom for us to let go and live the creative lives we were meant to live.

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She inspires us to awaken to our creative and generous genius God who wants us to have fulfilling, enjoyable and creative work. We are the ones who deny ourselves the luxury of designing a new life for ourselves. We do that. Not God. Now let’s get out of our way, shall we?

Embracing Great Souls & Wacky Assholes

I give my husband the credit for turning me on to this video from philosopher Tim Freke this morning. I am so glad I remained open (yet stubbornly so) to get back in bed to watch Tim explain how to become more deeply awake to our breautifully complex humanness and to our lives.

It’s remarkable how with a simple new thought, we can create a tremendously different new world for ourselves. It’s about waking up from this numbness we call normal. Waking up to our oneness and celebrating our individuality. 

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How to Have A REALLY Good Day

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Keep it simple. If you want to have a good day, do some good.  Take a good nap. Read a good book. Make a good meal. Have a good call. Watch a good movie. Workout Good. Have good sex. Have a good cry.  You see all that good adds up.

More stoic wisdom from Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living.

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How to Elevate Your Everything

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This post is for me, but if you read something that resonates with you, please let me know. Comment below or send me a tweet @marketcouncil.   I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Way You Do Anything, is the Way You Do Everything

I’m thinking about why my successes are not more consistent.

Why my life seems so yo-yo-ee.   A bit up and down. 

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Why I haven’t achieved all that I want by now. Why I don’t have more time for wonder and wander. Why I work so damn much.

How come I still hold on to the last ten pounds of weight? Where is the additional savings in my account? How come I don’t laugh more, have more fun each day?

I’m thinking about how I can improve so that I can have deeper relationships with my friends and family, more sacred moments with less worry and more time for self-care.

I’m thinking about how I can execute for more excellence in my life. How I can improve my life in ways that really matter. 

Perhaps I need to raise my personal standard of performance.

I am inspired by Bill Walsh’s tenets of mental toughness. His dedication to focusing on what should be one, how it should be done and when it should be done.

It’s the deceptively small things that when done every day, make transformation happen.

The counting of each calorie, taking advantage of promotions when shopping, putting aside a few dollars a day to build up our savings, dressing the part for a big meeting or interview, taking a moment to breathe, going to the gym instead of sleeping another thirty minutes and planning the night before to get closer to completing a project I am about to launch.

It’s about making the call, sending the text, holding on to that hug. It’s about realizing that life is so fleeting. Make the time to smile, breathe and enjoy – in-between all the work.

It’s a commitment to never slack off, to maintain the effort each day and to return and perhaps raise the standards that initially fueled my success. To push past my self-imposed limits and test my endurance and performance each day.

Bill’s Tenent’s of Mental Toughness

  • Maintain a ferocious and intelligently applied mindset directed at continual improvement.
  • Demonstrate respect for everyone you meet. Everyone is your teacher.
  • Be deeply committed to learning and practicing what you learn.
  • Be fair and honest with yourself and others.
  • Demonstrate good character.
  • Honor the direct connection between details and improvement, relentlessly seek the latter.
  • Show composure and self-control, especially under pressure.
  • Demonstrate loyalty to your core values and beliefs.
  • Use positive language and have a positive attitude.
  • Be willing to go the extra distance for what you know is important.
  • Deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation.
  • Promote internal communication that is both open and substantive.
  • Seek poise in yourself and those you lead.
  • Put other’s welfare and priorities ahead of your own.
  • Maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high.
  • Make sacrifice and commitment your trademark.

And may I add –

Be soft, gentle, curious and flexible and feel the freedom of racing like a Mustang.

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The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us as we live.

The Importance of Self-Reliance & Taking Responsibility

This post is about taking responsibility.  Responsibility requires constant readjustment combined with increased clarity and purpose.

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Real improvements never happen without changing your behaviors. A change in outcome is a benefit of changing habits, attitudes and skills you acquire.

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True success, steady ongoing, sustaining success, is systematic. It’s made of incremental improvements in the way things are done.  It is a (daily) relentless attempt to eliminate the unnecessary activities, delay and waste.

Where we decide to put our energy decides what we will actually accomplish.

 

For me, it begins with identifying the obstacles and problems; tackling the issues I have been ignoring.

I commit to trying to get to the root of the problem.

Asking Why????

  1. Write down your specific problem clearly and completely. A good statement of the problem often points to its own solution.
  2. Ask “why” the problem happens and write your answer.
  3. Continue asking “why” to the previous answer until you or others agree that the problem’s root cause has been identified.

I will use today as an opportunity to do what I have needed to do.

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Elevating My Everything

  • Triple check my work for errors before publishing, sending or presenting.
  • Be more considerate of everyone’s time and attention.
  • Review my priorities and ask myself, is this really necessary? What tasks can I eliminate?
  • Review and measure the outcomes of each day.
  • Give credit to those who have contributed to my success.
  • Thank others for their help.
  • Look and ask for feedback and follow up when that feedback makes my performance stronger.
  • Don’t react to every little thing that happens.
  • Make note of the important tasks at hand and the follow up that must be done.
  • Watch for signs along the way and know how to read them.
  • Stay calm, composed and true to my mission of self-improvement.
  • Never stop and never get lazy.
  • Pay attention, focus deeply and never get distracted.
  • Try not to get side-tracked.
  • Seek to work with the very best.
  • Raise the standards around me, including my environment.
  • Practice what I preach.
  • Attempt to decipher the urgent from the important. Do the important first.
  • Refrain from enticing short-cuts.
  • Respect others, especially when I know they are giving 100%
  • Continue to do what really worked in the past.
  • Learn new ways of doing what I have always done but also sticking to what really works.
  • Devote myself to a daily discipline of focused work.
  • Be extremely patient.
  • Learn to utilize what is around me.
  • Work with a mix of humility, acceptance and strength.
  • Face my biggest problems head on.

Ego is the Enemy

Do not wait to elevate your everything. Raise your standard of performance, make everything you do better and better.

From Emerson’s Essay on Illusions. . .

`Set me some great task, ye gods! and I will show my spirit.’ `Not so,’ says the good Heaven; `plod and plough, vamp your old coats and hats, weave a shoestring; great affairs and the best wine by and by.’ Well, ’tis all phantasm; and if we weave a yard of tape in all humility, and as well as we can, long hereafter we shall see it was no cotton tape at all, but some galaxy which we braided, and that the threads were Time and Nature.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays

Feature illustrations Lion-Comp & Bubbles the Snow Leopard from Daryl at Cargo Collective.

 

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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.

To My King Bee Rider – A Time for ThanksGregging

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Today I honor, acknowledge, applaud, celebrate and recognize the watchful one, my husband, partner, collaborator and best friend, my Knight and Day, Sir Gregory Johnson on his birthday.

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My wish for him today and everyday – that he may remain awake, alert and aware to the divine truth within him and continue to co-create and prevail with God.  Stand tall in the tower Gregory. I support you in every way.

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Gregory, extraordinarily beautiful yet slightly out of focus, this raging river runs madly deep. This meditation from Marcus Aurelius sums you up for me.

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Having been terribly misunderstood by many, I believe it was but Aristotle who said –

No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.

How to Spot a Genius, Deadhead and Follower of Rhythm Devils, Space Jams and Shows that were The Sacrament.

According to Roman mythology, the genii were gods who watched over particular people and places. Each man had a genius (he not was not “a” genius), a genius was a spirit who had given him being, who taught him and protected him.

No Wasted Time

Sometimes we wonder what happened to our past and linger on whether we took the right path.

dragonTo make the contributions for which they are known, all geniuses depend on the same general process. It starts with an unrestrained search for ideas without foresight into their utility. This hunt takes a creator down many dead-end roads, causing him or her to backtrack and start over. This trial-and-error process eventually leads a solution that works. For anyone who has engaged in a project for which progress is hard to measure or that seems to stall or meander, this theory is heartening.

When a problem or endeavor is difficult, we should probably not expect our research to proceed in a linear fashion. The many seemingly wasted hours exploring roads that lead nowhere may really be necessary to find an effective and innovative solution.

Or in words that resonate with Greg

“There is a road, no simple highway

Between the dawn and the dark of night”
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You got to listen to the heavens, you got to try to understand. The greatness of their movement is just as small as it is grand. – Grateful Dead, Walk In The Sunshine

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The Art of Not Panicking, Keeping Your Composure and How to Re-Write the Rules of Life

John Glenn“When America raced to send the first men into space, they trained the astronauts in one skill more than in any other: the art of not panicking.

When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. At 150 miles above Earth in a spaceship smaller than a VW, this is death. Panic is suicide.”

A quote from Ryan Holiday’s fascinating book

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

ObstacleDuring his orbit around earth, American astronaut John Glenn’s heart rate never went above 100 beats per minute. Consider that for a moment, he was in a tiny space ship miles and miles above our planet and he never lost his cool.

Every Day Work Day Panic and Anxiety

Flash to the average work week. Think about how some of us react to what happens throughout our day. Even some of the smallest challenges become ridiculously big obstacles (in our minds).

  • Our hearts begin to race while mind-ruminates and body tenses as we frustratingly fret over how to respond to a mean-spirited and snarky email from a co-worker.
  • Our stomach churning as we hold our breath before an important sales pitch presentation.
  • We run for the bar before we work the room at yet another after-hour “networking” event. Our minds not in the game and just going through the motions.

We become stuck, paralyzed by obstacles of and not of our own making. The daily struggle lies in turning trials into triumphs and the awful into opportunity. Want to dive deeper? Read more about the secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai here.

Pause, Breathe and Take a Moment to Compose Yourself

xanaxIf you have read this far, I would imagine that you are not rummaging through your bag for another .5 mg dose of Xanax, but looking for a healthier and more mindful way to deal with every day panic and anxiety.

Research shows meditation-style breathing can make you courageous,increase your attention span, and even boost happiness.

Take just five minutes each day to watch your breath go in and out. While you do so, try to remain patient. If you find your mind drifting, just slowly bring it back to focus. Meditation takes practice, but it’s one of the most powerful happiness interventions. Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.

What matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.

Ambition with Meaning

Lately I have been listening to many a friend and family member share their concern and desire to change they way they are living now, moving away from the driving demands of a 14 hour work day to a more purposeful, peaceful and calmer life. Yes ambition is necessary and can even be wonderful but ambition with meaning, well that shit is sacred.

Navigating your life with Poise, Grace and Power

Some of these more mindful millennials that I refer to have the resources to enjoy a ten day getaway to discover meditation and mindfulness on solitude retreats. A ten-day stint in a tree house in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico on Airbnb with water cleansing massages and sun basked mud masks.

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I have noticed a huge movement of those waking up earlier in life to realize, “not my rules, not my purpose.”  The intention: Re-write the rules, make more room for meaning in their lives. Make money, but with pleasure.

Truth be told, you don’t need to go away and remove yourself from your environment to make a change. You don’t need to quit your job right way either. What you can do, is change your perception to what is happening around you right now and focus on designing a life filled with daily habits that are more conducive to a meaningful life.

Ground Control

It all starts with controlling our perception. When something is happening to us we need to ask, How am I perceiving this? What meaning am I giving it? It is really a horrific experience or is it an opportunity for growth?

I have a big secret to share. A vulnerable moment for me. I  use to suffer from severe anxiety, panic disorder and fear. Movement, meditation and mindfulness have become my daily dose of medication.

Curious, how are you managing your panic, your anxiety? How are you adding more meaning to your life? How are you re-writing the rules?