Reframing Your Outlook On Setbacks

Setbacks are frustrating.

One moment we are on a roll, everything is going smooth and then bam! A curveball is thrown our way, completely unexpectedly, and our mood goes from all smiles to borderline pissed off.

We all experience this, some certainly more than others. 

But what if there was a way to take setbacks in stride? Where they punch us right on the chin, but like a great fighter we keep pressing forward as if it meant nothing?

I recently read a book by the author of one of my favorite books of all time (A Guide to the Good Life, highly recommended) called The Stoic Challenge

In summary, he introduces the concept of framing and how we are in charge of the way we perceive everything in life, especially when it comes to setbacks. 

From a young age most of us hardwire certain triggers into our brain. For example, when we really wanted a chocolate bar growing up, if we weren’t allowed to have one we most likely had a temper tantrum. 

Now as adults when we go to a restaurant to pick up our to go order expecting the food to be ready, if they were to tell us that they never received our online order, that there’s a delay and it will take another 30 minutes, or if they gave us the wrong food, we’d probably let this situation affect our peace of mind and aggravate us (at least it would for me!). 

As you can see, a trigger like this no longer serves us. It may have worked like a charm when we were a child to get our way (chocolate, yum), but now it’s bringing on unnecessary negative emotions that affect our mood (as well as impacting others around us) that end up lasting much longer than they should. 

So back to the book and the concept of reframing our outlook on setbacks. 

Instead of looking at them from a negative perspective, we can view them as an intentional challenge or test that has been bestowed upon us (it’s up to you to decide who has presented you with the setback, it could be the Stoic Gods, someone you admire and respect, a loved one, etc).

Running into unexpected car problems? Did the air conditioning in your house break? Are you late to an appointment because of traffic? Did someone cut you off and give you the finger? 

You can leverage these setbacks as opportunities to put yourself up to the challenge. 

Try to become aware of them as soon as they arise. At first your triggers will inevitably go off, but if you can recognize and catch them before they escalate, significant progress can start to be made.

Through consistency, we can win the battle over the multitude of setbacks that we must deal with in our lives. 

One way or another, it is completely in our control on how we perceive them. 

Consciously choosing to see them as a test to improve our patience and maintain our tranquility seems like the obvious route to take versus letting our decades old and outdated emotional triggers unconsciously take over and destroy whatever peace and happiness we might’ve felt in the moments leading up to the event. 

Who’s up for the challenge?

You never know, after a while you may even start to enjoy them 😀

“If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.” – Marcus Aurelius

“Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.” – Marcus Aurelius

How Being Proud of Yourself Can Change Your Life

As we go through life, we are typically our own harshest critic. We are unjustly hard on ourselves and rarely take time to instead think about reasons that we should be proud of our lives and the accomplishments (however big or small) that we’ve achieved.

When I graduated college (with a Journalism degree I figured I’d never use) I decided not to attend graduation for the fact that I felt like I hadn’t really accomplished anything of value and that there was no reason to be proud.

Fast forward a bit, and I had been working for myself for a few years at that point, yet I continued the automatic and unquestioned behavior of not giving myself much credit at all for my endeavors and achievements.

Instead of taking the time to really think about what I’d been able to pursue and do, I shrugged it off and pushed it to the side and told myself that when I accomplished something of significance, of more value, I’d then be proud of myself.

And there lies the problem.

Deciding to postpone being proud of ourselves for some arbitrary time in the future, only once we determine that we are worthy of it.

Sound like something you do in your life?

The great thing is we can change this ridiculous way of viewing life… right this instant.

It all starts with gratitude.

When you pause from your day to day living and intentionally take the time to reflect on your life and what you’re grateful for, you become exposed to a whole new world, a much better and improved one that is incredibly satisfying to live in and be a part of.

Through the consistent practice of gratitude, you inevitably uncover and shed light on the multitude of situations throughout your journey on earth that you are proud of.

Finding the person of your dreams, the job you thought you’d never get, the discipline and habits you’ve instilled to live a healthy lifestyle, your growth and maturity, the lessons you’ve learned from facing adversity, your impact on those you love and care about, and the list goes on and on and on.

By focusing our attention on what we are proud of, we naturally begin to increase our happiness and joy for our lives, leading to a growing and nurturing sense of self love for ourselves that we’ve never experienced before.

These positive emotions radiate through us, becoming easily recognized by others. They are also massively contagious and impactful to those we hold dear in our hearts.

All of this momentum accelerates our confidence and our ability to keep pushing ourselves to further grow, achieve and find meaning and purpose in life.

Flashing back to my days of delaying being proud of myself for some day in the future, I now look at that period of time as a learning lesson as well as a missed opportunity where I could’ve been proud of myself the entire time. I without a doubt had an infinite amount of reasons to be extremely grateful and proud of my life to that point.

Fortunately, over the last few years I have more than made up for those missed chances.

Through a daily morning practice of gratitude (going on 2 uninterrupted years now), where each and every day I think about 3 new things that I’m grateful for that I haven’t already thought about prior (yes, there are a LOT of things to be grateful for), I’ve been able to attain an unshakeable sense of inner peace and feeling of pride for the abundance in my life.

Instead of pushing the feeling of being proud for some other day, I now dive head first into it multiple times a day.

I have so much to be proud of and I’m certain that you do too.

Being proud of yourself is the greatest proof and act of self love and care for oneself and one’s life.

Don’t postpone it any longer.

“You’re so hard on yourself. Take a moment. Sit back. Marvel at your life: at the grief that softened you, at the heartache that wisened you, at the suffering that strengthened you. Despite everything, you still grow. Be proud of this.” –Unknown

Trading Your Expectations for Appreciation

Let’s face it, most of us are way too hard on ourselves.

Don Miguel Ruiz once said in his book The Four Agreements, “The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake.”

Some of us set the bar high in hopes of achieving tremendous things while others don’t set one at all in hopes of getting lucky one day or as a way to point the finger externally.

While it’s perfectly normal to want to attain goals and better ourselves, setting expectations of desired outcomes (whether consciously or unconsciously) typically leads to negative emotions such as feelings of disappointment, stress, anxiety, humiliation and failure.
And yet we are all guilty of doing it…

Tony Robbins once said something in an interview that has stuck with me and has since opened my eyes to a new mode of thinking that completely changed my views on expectations and goal setting.

He said: “Trade your expectations for appreciation. It’s a whole new world instantly. If you can’t appreciate this moment, if you can’t find ecstasy in this moment, in a conversation with a friend, or looking in your wife’s eyes, being with your children, going on a run. If you can’t find ecstasy now…I’m here to tell you: more money, more people, more love, more business, more anything is not gonna give you more… If you can’t do it here and now, you’re not going to do it then when you’ve got more.”

Now before you brush this off and get back to your normal thinking routine, try to really understand the essence of what he is saying.

He’s not saying to not aspire to want to obtain things. He’s not saying that in order to be happy you need to become a monk.

He simply is stating that if you stop focusing so much on a desired outcome and learn to appreciate the present and the abundance that you’re surrounded by internally and externally within this very moment, you can gain access to all of the deeply meaningful emotions that you have sought after your entire life.

Money, success, fame and tangible items are great in moderation and can bring us bits of the feelings we want to possess, but they are fleeting and temporary.

Feelings of love, joy and fulfillment are what we truly seek. Acquiring permanent inner peace and gratitude for a life that is well lived is the ultimate objective.

And the crazy thing is that it is possible to achieve this state of mind by trading our expectations for appreciation.

We like to think that in order to make drastic changes in our lives we must take drastic measures, but the opposite is true. A tiny seed of thought that is planted today can blossom into the most beautiful tree if you make the effort to water it each day.

Make the decision right now to begin looking at life from a new lens.

Start appreciating all that is both inwardly and outwardly. Express gratitude for each and every minute of your waking days and realize that any time you do anything may very well be the last time you get to do it.

Don’t stop striving to attain ambitious goals in life, just remember to make the effort to look at them from a different perspective. One where regardless if you achieve them, you’ll appreciate the entire process and journey of being able to pursue it.

And most importantly, make it a priority to become more aware of the gratitude we should all hold in our hearts for the opportunity to be alive right now, breathing, feeling, sensing, thinking, growing, and loving.

“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.” – Seneca

The Richest Man in Babylon Summary/Notes

The seven cures for a lean purse

-A part of all you earn is yours to keep. Save at minimum 10% of all that you make. It shouldn’t affect your livelihood to do so and you’ll begin to fatten your wallet.

-Spend only on what’s necessary. As your income rises, it’s naturally that your expenses do as well if you allow them to. Make it your goal to realize that not all desires can be gratified, and to find fulfillment in desiring to be able to save.

-Compound interest. Put your money to work for you so that over time it continues to produce more and compound.

-Invest wisely. Don’t let the desire of making wealthy rapidly cloud your judgement. Allows have your principal in mind and to ensure you don’t lose it. Consult wise people who already have experience with investing and making money and gain insight from them. Focus only on what you have experience in or within your circle of competence.

-Own your home. Your rent goes towards owning it vs throwing it away, and at some point you will fully own it and only pay taxes, allowing you to reduce your cost of living/use it for other desires.

-Plan for the future, whether you’re in it or not doesn’t matter as it’ll be there for your family. Make investments that can compound over time for when you’re unable to work or have passed away.

-Master yourself, cultivate your powers by acquiring knowledge and experience and skills so that you can gain respect and confidence for yourself and ultimately attain your desires. Preceding accomplishment must be desire. Have strong and definite and specific desires to focus on.

Good luck is attracted to those who take advantage of opportunities when they are presented, without hesitating. Good luck follows opportunity, and favors action, rarely does it come otherwise.

If you lend to others, make sure that they have expertise in the venture they are pursuing with a plan. Make sure there is some form of collateral in the event things don’t go well so that you are guaranteed your principal.

Instead of lending to family or friends, try to help them in other ways so that you do not take on their burden.

“Where the determination is, the way can be found.”

The Freedom, Creativity and Growth Theory

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The other day I was enjoying a peaceful disconnecting session where I intentionally sat alone with nothing to distract me but my own thoughts (a practice that everyone should really try to do every so often to really put life in perspective and to gain clarity).

During this time I asked myself to describe who I am, if I didn’t know me.

I started by mentioning my name, age, where I live, what I do for a living, etc, all things that describe me that can easily be understood and seen externally. 

But then I started to explain the inner description of myself, and how I’m very optimistic, motivated, filled with energy, disciplined and grateful for my life. I went on to think about how if my life were to end today, I would be content with how my 30 years of living have gone.

How I’ve been able to acquire inner peace that allows me to feel a sense of fulfillment and meaning in my life. 

I realized that unfortunately most people do not feel this way, so from there I tried to understand how and why I do, what triggered the start of it and how did it evolve into what it is right now? 

These questions sprouted a theory that I’ll attempt to detail below. 

Obviously, this is from my viewpoint and experiences and it may not align with your thoughts and beliefs. Regardless, my hope is that the words to follow can be of inspiration to whoever may be reading this. 

So I’d like to call this theory: The Freedom, Creativity and Growth Theory

Freedom

When I reflect on life, I race back to my days in college/the few years after graduating and how very fortunate I was. 

My parents had fully paid for my education in advance and provided me with an “allowance” to live off of, without ever having to worry about finding a job. After graduation, they welcomed me back home with open arms, without ever asking me to pay for rent or for the food on my plate each night. 

With money not being a concern, my responsibilities consisted of simply going to school during college days and trying to find a job/start my own business when I graduated, and then having the freedom to do whatever I wanted to afterwards. 

At the time I didn’t truly understand the value of this free time, but years later I have come to see it as one of the most important periods of my life. 

With all that extra time, I was able to start my journey into the path of creativity. 

Freedom Theory

In order to advance to the second stage, Creativity, one must gain freedom in the currency of quality time. 

Quality time doesn’t have to be bountiful initially, but there must be enough of it to begin down the path of creativity.

You may be thinking that it’s easy for me to say all of this because of how fortunate I was/am, and you’re probably right. It is easy for me to say it.

All of that free time enabled me to take action, learn, experiment, fail, get back up and try again, and so on and so forth.

But just because I had copious amounts of free time and lack of concern regarding if I’d have food on the table, it didn’t necessarily guarantee me anything in life. I had to have the discipline and the will to want to achieve certain goals. 

We all have 24 hours in the day, and more likely than not you spend 8-10 hours of it commuting to work and working, as well as another 7-8 hours sleeping. On the low end, that leaves you with roughly 6 hours per day to do whatever it is you have to do. Factor out another 1-3 hours for daily responsibilities and maintenance, and you still have at the low end 3 or so hours of time that can be of the quality currency if you choose to make it so. 

The point I’m trying to make here is that you don’t need unlimited free time, you just need to proactively decide right now to give those few hours of quality time each day to yourself. 

Honor yourself with them, make them yours, choose to use them effectively and never let anyone or anything take them away from you. 

Creativity

In P.D. Ouspensky’s book “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution”, the author states that there are four centers in the body, the Intellectual (thinking), the Instinctive (automatic), the Moving (having learned/been taught) and the Emotional (feeling).

Within these four centers, are three sub centers, the Intellectual, Emotional and Mechanical. 

The Intellectual sub center of the Emotional center is the gateway to creation. 

When we have free quality time and decide to use it wisely, our emotions begin to think for themselves. 

Inspiration and motivation allow us to start taking action, and the unraveling effect that this has cannot be overstated. Momentum kicks in and we lose track of time, some call it flow state. 

This sense of creativity is when we feel most alive. 

Flash back to my college/post college days and this is exactly what my freedom enabled me to dive deep into. 

I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what exactly I wanted to create, but I did know for certain that making a lot of money was a main priority and leading motivator. 

And so I went, trying to wrestle my way through the business world. I took initiative, I tried to think outside of the box, I simply did not stop and kept moving forward. 

Each day I woke up with a sense of vigor, excited and determined to make something happen. 

Through consistent effort and resilience, one thing led to another, which led to another, which led to where I am today. 

All of those experiences and lessons pushed me to seek out and realize my potential and what I’m truly capable of, leading me to growth. 

Creativity Theory

In order to advance to the third stage, Growth, one must learn to consistently access and flex their creativity muscles. 

I know exactly what you’re thinking right now…you don’t know what to do, how to do it, or where to start. 

The best part about having free quality time and entering a state of creativity is that you don’t have to know what exactly you’re doing or going to do. You don’t have to have set plans or goals, you can figure it all out on the fly.

I realize that uncertainty is scary for most people, but you have to realize that anyone who’s ever acquired any form of success, be it financially, spiritually, physically, etc, encounters, deals with and thrives off of the feeling of uncertainty on a daily basis. 

If you keep an open mind and attempt to look at uncertainty in a different light, one where it can be leveraged and used to motivate you versus make you timid, you’ll discover just how far you can go and how much you can transform and grow into the person you want to be. 

Seneca once said “There is nothing that will not surrender to persistent treatment, to concentrated and careful attention.” 

Growth

With freedom and creativity in your hands, it’s inevitable that growth will shortly follow. 

Over the years my experiences and lessons have led me to seek out various books, many of which have deeply impacted my life. 

With the accumulation of first hand knowledge and collective wisdom from some of the greatest creators of all time, I’ve been able to make leaps of progress in my life in all aspects (financially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, etc).

But even more so than just making the progress, I’ve been able to extract the seeds of insights from those personal experiences and books to raise my level of consciousness and awareness so that I can see the progress, feel it, be grateful for it and ultimately be genuinely proud of myself for it. 

I have attained meaning and fulfillment for the fact that I’ve been able to apply these teachings into my life while simultaneously influencing those I love and care about the most. 

This has led to gaining a clear understanding of certain principles and modes of thinking that enable me to live life with much more capacity for gratitude and joy than one could ever imagine. 

Growth Theory

Having chosen to give yourself the quality time, diving head first into the state of creation and sticking with it despite any feelings of uncertainty, you ultimately arrive at growth.

The fruits of your labor harvest in this stage. You transform into your potential. 

With the abundance of wisdom you’ve gained, you realize that whatever your goal may have been at the start (for me it was simply to make a lot of money) is no longer what you truly seek. 

The theory comes full circle here, where as you grow you discover that what you want most is the freedom to continue creating and growing

That the feeling of uncertainty and pushing yourself to reach new heights of potentiality and the sense of aliveness and growth it pulsates throughout your body is what brings the deepest recognition of meaning and fulfillment into your life. 

To wrap it up…

This theory doesn’t discriminate. While everyone’s circumstances are different, just know that many others in much worse off situations than your own were able to overcome the odds, and so can you. 

For all we know, this may be our one and only life to live, the ultimate question boils down to: How will you choose to live yours? 

“Circumstance doesn’t make the man, it reveals him to himself.” – Epictetus

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Reality Unveiled Book Summary/Notes

Our bodies are built to only see a very small portion of what’s visible to us on the electromagnetic scale, and that’s only .00005% of what’s possible to be seen in our world, the same goes for seeing physical things (only 4% of physical world do we see).

We view only what we see as reality, but we really don’t see or know what reality even is.

Albert Einstein “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Atoms make up everything in the universe. They are essentially empty space, which means humans are mostly empty space.

Everything is one, interconnected from the same source of pure energy. The reality we see, everything being separate and solid on its own, is an illusion.

Everything is conscious and aware, even inanimate matter (water) and plants, even though they may not be as advanced as animals or humans and have self awareness and reasoning capability.

We are severely limited by our sense perception, a prisoner of sorts that isn’t free to ultimate reality.

E=mc2 means matter and energy are one and the same.

We know the earth is round, despite our senses understanding of it being flat since we cannot see the curvature. We can use this concept to override other limited perceptions that we have.

Reincarnation – we choose our lives in advance so that we can experience certain situations and learn from them.

People aren’t good or bad, they are all teachers for us. We can learn lessons from all, to be patient and have compassion for someone who isn’t friendly or offends.

All paths lead to cultivating unconditional love. That is the ultimate objective and how we advance to further stages of density and get closer to the creator.

Treating others how we want to be treated has been said in various forms from all religions and spiritual influences, it is the underlying message and insight.

Practicing compassion – see the person as a little child, bend down and hug them and console them, even if they did something that doesn’t align with what you deem as right or wrong.

Practicing love – feel the love you have for yourself, your loved ones, your home, your city/country/world, people you don’t like. Now picture everyone else feeling that same love. Now turn it all around and feel the love that everyone else has for you.

The Psychology of Mans Possible Evolution Book Summary/Notes

Man is a machine, brought into motion by external influences and impacts.

Man doesn’t “do” everything simply “happens”.

Man doesn’t know himself, not even in the smallest things.

Pretty much without awareness of ourselves we are all just sims characters and don’t know our ass from our elbow.

Psychology has two definitions.

1 – the study of the possible evolution of man, what he may become.

2 – self-study, study of oneself.

The highest moments of consciousness create memory.

It’s possible to become conscious continuously with the right practice (developing awareness/self remembering) and help (guidance from others who have achieved it).

Four states of consciousness (living only in the first two)

Sleep
Waking state
Self consciousness (objective of the self, knowing the full truth about ourselves)
Objective consciousness (knowing full truth about everything, studying things in themselves and the world as it is).

Seven functions of the human machine

Thinking (intellect)
Feeling (emotions)
Instinctive function (inner work done without you)
Moving functioning (outer work you need to learn)
Sex
Higher emotional function (can only appear in higher states of consciousness during “self consciousness” state.
Higher mental function (only in objective consciousness state).

When in waking state, sleep/dream state is still functioning and influences everything. We live more in dreams than in fact. We do not know that we live in sleep, do everything in sleep and are asleep.

Harmful features in man that we must observe and recognize

Lying – speaking about things one doesn’t know and even cannot know, as though one knows and can know.

Imagination – constant thoughts/distractions taking one away from consciousness

Expression of Negative emotions – from bad temper, weakness, incapacity to keep grievances to himself. Must be resisted so you can observe.

Talking – if you talk too much to others or yourself, you can’t observe.

To overcome these we must overcome two things.

Identification – identifying with everything we believe in and associate with ourselves. We must separate ourselves from ideas, feelings or objects that absorb us. Remove identifying with from the equation and you can begin to see the world for how it really is.

Considering – identifying with people. Focusing efforts on what other people think about us. Must eliminate.

Man lives under two kinds of influences.

The first consists of interest and attractions created by life itself such as interest of ones healthy, safety, wealth, pleasure, security, pride, etc.

The second consists of ideas not created in life but are taught and learned via schooling, through philosophy, science, religion, art, etc.

Four Centers in the body

Intellectual – mind/brain/head – slowest
Instinctive/moving – spinal cord – 30,000 times faster than intellectual
Emotional – solar plexus – 30,000 times faster than instinctive/moving

Within these centers are 3 sub centers, intellectual, emotional and mechanical (includes instinctive/moving).

This gives instinctive/moving and emotional centers longer time to do their jobs, as their time is operated differently from how we measure our ordinary time. Our quick reactions and processes in the body may take a second in our time, but on instinctive time it is up to eight hours.

Our time isn’t the only time which exists. A kind of cosmic process almost like light years speed.

Negative emotions arise from imagination and identification. They bring no value and do not help us advance our growth. We invent them.

“Man must sacrifice his suffering.”

Begin to remember yourself. We can not control when we are conscious but we can wire our minds/thoughts to focus on and bring about consciousness by directing it to what they’d experience during being conscious. Be more aware of yourself.

“In order to understand a thing, you must see its connection with some bigger subject, or bigger whole, and the possible consequences of this connection. Understanding is always the understanding of a smaller problem in relation to a bigger problem.”

Observing attention and trying to control it through will and effort is when we are working in the intellectual parts of centers.

Intellectual part of the emotional center is the chief seat of the magnetic center and is a way to higher centers when fully developed. It includes artistic creation.

Intellectual part of the instinctive center is the mind behind all the work of the organism and one can come into contact with it through the state of self consciousness.

In order to do so one must consistently practice self remembering/awareness of ones self and sustain it long enough to feel and understand the different functions belonging to different parts of different centers.

In order to see the parts of centers, one must practice attention, which requires efficient ability to practice self remembering.

Awareness leads to being able to focus attention on what you’re becoming aware of.

Atomic Habits Book Summary/Notes

Tiny improvements/habits compound over time and can have dramatic positive effects. (Patience is key, small changes often appear to make no difference until a critical threshold is crossed).

Example – ice cube doesn’t start melting until it reaches 32 degrees, so at 31 degrees and below nothing changes.

Try to get 1% better each day.

Focus on systems/processes to get results, not goals. Achieving a goal is not just about setting one, and once you achieve it then what?

True long term thinking is goal less thinking, it’s not about any single accomplishment, but rather constant and never ending improvement.

Commitment to the process determines progress.

In order for a habit to stick, it needs to be part of your identity. Most people focus on outcome based habits such as a goal they want to accomplish, but you must focus on identity based habits and who you want to become.

It’s hard to change a habit if you never change the underlying belief that led to creating this past habit/behavior.

Research shows that once a person believes in a particular aspect of their identity they’re more likely to act in alignment with that belief.

The stronger the belief (I’m not a morning person, I’m bad with directions, I’m always late, etc), the more you’ll do everything in your power to maintain that self image.

Two step process to changing your identity

The word Identity is derived from Latin and means “repeated beingness”

New identities require new evidence that can then be used to reinforce that you are capable of being this person if you continue to perform the habits.

1 – decide the type of person you want to be (who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?)
2 – prove it to yourself with small wins

The focus should always be on becoming that type of person not on achieving a specific outcome.

4 steps of habit formation

Cue – a bit of information/signal your brain receives
Craving – the motivation to want to act on it
Response – the actual habit in action
Reward – the pleasure received from taking the action

4 laws of behavior change

Make it obvious
Make it attractive
Make it easy
Make it satisfying

Implementation intention – a plan you make beforehand about when and where you will act out a certain goal/implement a particular habit.

The most common cues that trigger a habit are time and location.

When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.

I will (behavior) at (time) in (location).

Research shows that people who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through with it. **setting the start date for action at the first day of the week/month is beneficial as it’s when hope is higher for people.

It’s not a lack of motivation, but a lack of clarity!

Habit stacking – a special form of an implementation intention. Start by identifying a current habit you do daily and stack your new behavior on top of it, the key is to tie your desired behavior into something you already do each day (this allows you to create a set of simple rules that guide your future behavior).

Make sure the cue is highly specific and immediately actionable.

(behaviors don’t happen in isolation, each action becomes a cue that triggers the next behavior. Ex- going to the bathroom leads to washing hands which leads to throwing dirty clothes in the hamper, etc).

Habit stacking formula

After (current habit) I will (new habit).

Advanced stacking based on situations:

Mood. When the phone rings, I will take one deep breath and smile before answering.

Phone. When I grab my phone just to do so, ask myself if it’s necessary to use it right now.

Minimalism. When I buy a new item, I will give something away.

Inversion of make it obvious is make it invisible.

The secret to self control is to optimize your environment so that the cues/triggers that lead to a bad habit are removed from the equation (reduce exposure to the cue), leading to you not acting out the habit. Willpower is short term, focus on tweaking your environment for long term.

People with high self control tend to spend less time in tempting situation. It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it.

Repetition of an action is what leads to the creation of a habit, which then becomes automatic on an unconscious level.

When you repeat a habit it leads to physical changes in the brain to become efficient at the activity, called long term potentiation, strengthening of connections between neurons. “Neurons that fire together wire together”.

Habits form based on frequency, not time.

Human brain is similar in size to our ancestors from 200k years ago. It hasn’t developed for the modern day. It’s still wired to living in an immediate return environment (finding food, shelter/protection) versus present day which is a delayed return environment (you can smoke today but might not feel the long term effects for decades).

This leads to time inconsistency, where our brains evaluation of rewards is inconsistent across time. We value the present more than the future. The cost of good habits are in the present, the cost of bad ones are in the future.

What is immediately rewarded is repeated, what is immediately punished is avoided. We must focus on delayed gratification versus instant.

To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful even if it’s in a small way. By making it satisfying and rewarding yourself at the end of performing the habit, it increases the odds that the behavior will be repeated next time.

Use a habit tracker to provide clear evidence of your progress, leading to a satisfying feeling. Never miss a habit twice in a row!

We need to build habits that work for our unique personalities, where we have an advantage. What comes easy to you? Where do you feel like you make progress rapidly and receive positive feedback?

Goldilocks rule – a way to maintain peak motivation (flow state) by working on tasks right on the edge of their abilities, of just manageable difficulty, not too easy or too hard.

A Guide for the Perplexed Book Summary/Notes

There is nothing that compares to contemplating and seeking truth in life.

Humans seek for something higher than what we can understand and reason with in our lives, to rise above “the whole state of the present life”.

Levels of being, the four elements

Mineral – m (matter)
Plant – m + x (life)
Animal – m + x + y (consciousness)
Man – m + x + y + z (self awareness)

Self awareness is being able to not just think but also being able to be aware of his thinking. consciousness/intelligence open up unlimited possibilities for learning and accumulating knowledge.

M is visible, x y and z are invisible.

“While the higher comprises and there in a sense understands the lower, no being can understand anything higher than itself.”

A human can expand its understanding by striving towards a higher level of growth.

“Once a human potentiality is realized, it exists.” – Werner Jaeger

The higher level of being not only possesses power additional to/exceeding the lower, but also has power over the lower, the ability to use it to their benefit.

“Are there powers that are higher than self awareness? Are there levels of being above the human?”

Minerals/matter is passive, plants are mostly passive, they are objects.

Animals are active, humans are active, they are subjects.

“No matter how weighed down and enslaved by circumstances a person may be, there always exists the possibility of self-assertion and rising above circumstances. Man can achieve a measure of control over his environment and thereby his life, utilizing things around him for his own purposes.”

Humans have a lot of passivity in them, and remains an object in many cases due to circumstance and dependency. They use imagination/intuition to get past this, and in return become “beings”.

Physical cause – stimulus – motive – will

Capax universi – capable of bringing the whole universe into his experience

The present is broader for humans as we have the ability to make the past present through memory and the future made present through foresight, allowing us to embrace it more, of which is simply past and future for lower levels of being.

“Self awareness is a power of unlimited potential, that not only makes man human but gives him the possibility, even the need, to become superhuman.”

In order to truly view reality for what it is one must have a certain level of adequacy (adaequatio) or grade of significance, backed by knowledge and not by what he has acquired through society.

One must become aware of his thoughts and presuppositions and how they tie into ones perception. In order to find truth one must be open to everything without any prejudice.

If one lives through the lense of society, in set and limited ways, he will remain at a lower “level of being at which the search for knowledge and understanding is to aim.” There is potential to learn more and find truth but it’s prevented due to narrow mindedness.

“We must shut the eyes of sense, and open that brighter eye of our understandings, that other eye of the soul, which indeed all have, but few make use of it.”

Bodily senses help us decipher outer differences.
Ideas produce insight and understanding/meaning and is found within.

Science in modern times is manipulated and served to purpose economic and political efforts for power, versus to help man understand and find truth and be liberated. This leads to unhappiness and unfulfilling lives despite our high standards of living.

Self awareness is the power of directing attention vs being captured by outside or inner forces. Directing is living, captured is being lived.

It’s our objective to achieve a state of awareness/mindfulness that is continuous and controllable, or else we are like machines.

The development of this is an increase in intensity and quality of attention, a clear and single mindedness of what’s happening to us and in us, without judgment or reaction, taking note of and then releasing.

In order to find truth, we need to see it, not think it. Our thoughts need to be pushed to the side, our ego must dissolve. Our reason must first be supplied with genuine and absolute material before we can begin reasoning. Detachment from self interest, when the striving for power has entirely ceased.

When you have control over the body (postures, gestures, breathing) you can then work on gaining control over the mind and it’s thinking function.

Theory from William James that the emotion we feel is nothing but the feeling of some bodily changes. We cry therefore we feel sad or sorry.

There is a bridge connecting inner feelings (invisible) and bodily expression (visibility).

“External considering” putting yourself in another persons shoes so that you can see yourself from another’s perspective.

Uncritical self observation is the goal, having objective pictures of what’s really happening, not pictures retouched by our current opinions of right or wrong.

Instructional and description science. Instructional is restricted and focused on only parts of the truth to deem as proof. Description is observable through the senses or seen as signs through consciousness/self awareness and deemed as acts of faith since they can never be proven.

Reinventing Your Identity Through Writing

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Many of us want to make changes in our lives that would enable us to become a better and more improved version of ourselves. 

We all want to be and feel fit and healthy in our personal lives and feel successful in our careers. 

Unfortunately, the majority of us rarely make the necessary changes to attain these aspirations for the simple fact that we are not focusing our efforts on the right task. 

New year’s resolutions, the latest diet craze, seriously? 

These are ephemeral actions that lead to failure and disappointment 99.9% of the time.

Luckily there’s a way to produce real change. 

According to one of the greats, Tony Robbins, “the strongest force in the human personality is the need to stay consistent with how we define ourselves.”

However you are living your life right now is how you define yourself and every day your conscious and subconscious thoughts, beliefs and actions reinforce this identity. 

What you must realize is that this “person” is built up of a compilation of outdated programs that have been installed into your mind since you were a child. 

Can you imagine going into a computer store today and seeing a bunch of huge and ugly computers from the 70s or 80s? Well, that is what your mind looks like and is running off of.

It’s time to say F the BS and upgrade your mind’s software so that you can reinvent your identity. 

Think about the people you aspire to be more like. Who are your heroes, who do you look up to?

Write them down.

To name a few, mine are Tony Robbins, Marcus Aurelius and Earl Nightingale. 

Once you have a few, think about what qualities they possess that you want to instill into your identity. 

Write them down.

For example, Tony Robbins has a deep passion for constant and never ending self improvement, learning how the best of the best improve themselves and then sharing and giving back to others by providing them with the insights he uncovers. 

Now that you have a few, do some research on these people if possible and read/listen/watch as much content on/about them as you can. If they have interviews, podcasts, documentaries, their own books, etc, make it your top priority to consume and digest all of it. 

As you do so, write down information that you find interesting, it can be a quote you really like or a specific concept that you would like to learn more about. 

Armed with this information, take out a piece of paper (or type it out on your computer) and start writing down everything that you can think of that is related to what you’ve learned from this person (or people). Write it as if you were going to send it to a friend and explain to them, through your own words, what you’ve learned. 

The method to the madness

When you have the intention of writing down what you are learning as you are consuming it, your brain kicks itself into a higher gear where your focus is heightened and a surge of energy flows to you. 

When in this incredible state, your mind begins to associate past experiences and references with the incoming information of knowledge and automatically attempts to connect certain pieces together for you to make sense of it all. 

And when you take these thoughts floating around in your mind and concentrate on formulating them into structured and coherent sentences, you start to better understand the context. 

With a clear comprehension of the material, you’ll subconsciously seek out and naturally find more relevant knowledge that reinforces what you have begun to learn. 

This momentum and feeling of progress is invigorating. 

You slowly start to become what you think about. 

This is the secret to creating a change in identity.

To take things a step further and really accelerate the process, actually share your writing with family and friends. This produces a social contract of sorts where you will begin to convince yourself and feel more confident in the fact that that you know what you are talking about and that because you do so, that you now have to live in alignment with the information that you are writing down. 

Identity = changed

“It is not until you change your identity to match your life blueprint that you will understand why everything in the past never worked.” – Shannon L. Alder

P.S. – Now that you have written down the people you admire, the qualities you aspire to possess, and the knowledge that you’ve retained and shared with others, it’s really helpful to create your own database/bible of “principles” (that you can constantly update) that you strive to live by (here’s mine for reference – Principles to live by)

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