“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”

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This quote seems very fitting for the present circumstances and I wanted to take some time to dig deeper into the meaning behind it and how entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can all use it to their advantage.

We are going through an unprecedented time right now where the entire world is experiencing a pandemic. 

In some way shape or form each and every one of us is impacted by it, whether it be our own health, business or job, a family member, close friend, or friend of a friend. 

Despite the turmoil, there’s never been a better time than right in this moment to work on improving every facet of ourselves as well as increasing our capacity for appreciating life. 

Focusing on self improvement isn’t as attractive as the desire to start a business. 

The majority of us, myself included, typically come up with an idea and dive head first into taking action, separating ourselves from others who just talk.

We go through the rollercoaster ride of emotions of being an entrepreneur, experiencing a surge of euphoric highs as well as unexpected, unfortunate and unpleasant lows. 

For most of us it takes YEARS of persistence, consistency and resilience to make headway before we ultimately reach milestones that we consciously or unconsciously set for ourselves.

Any entrepreneur would attest to the above wholeheartedly. 

However, before you can achieve in business (as well as in life) you have to master the self, the mind, the mental aspect of the game. 

It’s all mental. 

This starts by focusing on developing self discipline. While it’s possible to accomplish goals and become successful without it, you’ll likely do so in a rather destructive manner that will leave you feeling unfulfilled, which is the ultimate failure.

This is done by taking the time to intentionally create habits that align with characteristics and an overall identity that you aspire to be more like.

A few ideas…

Habits such as stretching, exercising and not sitting for extended periods of time, meditating, journaling, visualizing, practicing positive self talk and what you’re grateful for, sitting alone and disconnecting from digital usage to become more aware of your thoughts, reflecting on your life experiences, how you react in certain situations and naturally uncovering ways to improve upon them in the future. 

Reading, opening your mind to new perspectives and beliefs, being strict on the type of websites you visit and the kind of information that you consume and setting aside time to be fully present with loved ones to further build relationships. 

When you discipline yourself to take action on these habits day in and day out, despite how difficult it may feel some days and regardless of circumstances that may arise, you’ll create an unshakeable sense of confidence and peace within yourself and become the person that you’ve longed to be.

Armed with these convictions you’ll be able to elevate your life to a new level and overcome any adversity that is thrown your way. 

You’ll be able to do so with a sound mind that’s backed by reason and logic versus impulse and emotion. You’ll experience the journey more fully, be present in the moment and experience life with a deeper sense of joy and appreciation than you would have ever imagined previously. 

This is the true meaning of success.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” – Robert Schuller

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Taking Control of Life by Learning to Upgrade Your Mind

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Throughout the course of life it becomes apparent that many situations we find ourselves in are out of our control. As much as we like to believe and sometimes convince ourselves that we have more authority over outcomes in our life, it’s simply not reality.

Fortunately, there is something that we do have complete control over and that’s our thoughts and feelings that we tie to life’s circumstances. 

Epictetus once said, “Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.”

Many people go through their existence without ever questioning why they act or react in certain ways as a response to what happens in their lives. 

Luckily you can steer clear of being like this by understanding and then applying what you read below!

Just like our phones and computers receive occasional software updates, our minds are fully capable of being updated as well.

Past conditioning that might’ve worked well for you during your childhood years can now be an impediment on your ability to maintain a healthy relationship, hold on to a job or even just be able to deal with daily life. 

Take a few moments to disconnect digitally and sit alone with your thoughts.

Ask yourself questions such as:

“What emotions do I feel often that are negatively impacting my life?” 

“What typically triggers these emotions?” 

“Why do I feel these emotions during these trigger situations?”

Let’s take for example my impatience for getting stuck in traffic. 

Immediately I begin to get agitated and if anyone is in the car with me they can quickly sense it. I may become short with them or act rude, and in return I destroy my peace of mind, which can end up lasting long after the traffic subsides.

I’ve been working on upgrading my mind for quite some time and I’m always seeking out situations where negative emotions are triggered so that I can debug and improve my livelihood.

Once you determine the specific emotions that are impacting your life negatively, the trick is to become consciously aware of it as the situation begins to unfold in real time. 

This can be difficult at first and in most cases you’ll end up recognizing it only after your emotions have already gotten the best of you, but this is positive as well because you’re still becoming aware of it. 

As you practice with consistent repetition, you’re providing your subconscious with new context that is related to the present moment. You’re telling yourself that getting annoyed during traffic is an outdated automatic behavior that no longer suits you. 

According to John Yates, author of The Mind Illuminated, the longer we can be mindful in a particular situation, the more new information becomes available and the more mindfulness can work its magic…consciousness can continue to pick up on and communicate the consequences of the event and their effects on our mental state long afterward.

Essentially, by making a conscious effort to become aware of your triggers and the emotions that follow them, you can reprogram your mind to react differently the next time the scenario presents itself. 

It is in your capacity to control how you react and feel about anything and everything that happens in your life, for better or for worse. 

This is a very special gift that is bestowed upon all humans, and if taken advantage of, can produce positive changes in life and provide a profound sense of empowerment and salvation. 

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Attaining Happiness by Detaching from Outcomes

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In this modern world that we live in, everything is about instant gratification.

You’re phone makes a noise and instantly you know that you just received a text message, so you stop what you’re doing to open your phone and read it. The same goes for social media posts, every like or comment you get gives you a high feeling. 

Yet, when it comes to happiness the majority of us are perfectly content with delaying the gratification until an arbitrary or set goal is achieved.

But why? 

This widespread mindset and attitude is totally flawed. 

By holding off on feeling happy, you make the goal you strive for as the end all be all. Without much conscious thought, you automatically determine that only once you’ve attained this goal will you then feel happiness and all of the positive feelings that accompany it. 

You’re subconsciously deciding to give yourself permission to feel happy only based on an outcome.

While there’s a strong possibility that once you do reach your goal you’ll feel like you’re experiencing joy and/or pride, in reality it will be more so a fleeting sense of relief. Once these short lived sensations pass, you’ll simply move on to the next goal in front of you and repeat the vicious cycle again and again. 

This is no way to live life. 

Happiness lives in and can only be felt in the present, not in the future when you hope to achieve your ideals.  

Do you really think that once you reach your aspirations you’ll just magically and permanently feel happiness and everything that isn’t going well in your life will instantly turn around for the better?

I call bullshit. 

Instead of focusing so much of your time and energy on a big event/goal, it’s essential to shift your mindset and attitude by detaching from outcomes. 

F the BS: It’s time you realize that you can be happy right NOW, regardless of your circumstances. 

It starts by realizing that you are both your best friend and your worst enemy. Mastering the self is the most difficult yet most rewarding thing you can do in your life.

You can begin to create positive habits and routines in your daily life. Instilling rituals that enable you to slow down, reflect on your life and discover and release regrets/resentment about your past and anxiety/stress about the future. 

Once you can take a deep look within and eradicate these negative emotions, you can start to live in the present moment. When you live in the present, you’ll enter into a state called flow which will naturally make you feel happy and grateful (paradoxically it will also allow you to attain goals easier). 

As you practice with persistence and consistency, you’ll begin to realize that life is all about the journey and trying to live in the moment as much as possible. 

Our daily habits and routines are what remains long after any big goal is ever reached. It’s actually the small wins that we constantly achieve that cumulatively add up throughout our lives that have the most profound impact on us.

Only when we become enlightened by these revelations can we truly attain a lifetime of infinite happiness, despite any specific situation that we find ourselves in. 

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” Gautama Buddha

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The Mind Illuminated Book Summary/Notes

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Samatha – tranquility/calm abiding

Vipassana – insight

Samadhi – concentration/stable attention

Sati – mindfulness

The untrained mind produces distractions that lead to forgetting, which results in mind-wandering.

Spontaneous introspective awareness – the moment you realize that you’ve stopped focusing on your meditation practice. Appreciating this moment allows it to happen quicker, making mind wandering shorter and sustained attention longer.

You can cultivate this awareness through the practices of labeling and checking in. These techniques allow you to catch distractions before they lead to forgetting.

Intentions repeatedly sustained over the course of many meditation sessions give rise to frequently repeated mental acts, which eventually become habits of the mind.

Set and hold the intention to be vigilant so that introspective awareness becomes continuous, and notice and immediately correct for dullness and distraction.

Attention and peripheral awareness make up conscious experience. Both are worked on to cultivate stable attention and mindfulness, the two main practice objectives of meditation.

Attention is typically something you’re focusing on, singling it out to analyze and interpret, and dominates your experience.

Peripheral awareness is normally in the background, focused on sights, sounds, smells and sensations, providing the overall context for the experience.

Stable attention – being able to choose and focus on an object and keep attention continuously fixed on It.

Repeating simple tasks with a clear intention can reprogram unconscious mental processes.

Mindfulness is the optimal interaction between attention and peripheral awareness.

There’s limited conscious energy, but we can learn to increase it for both attention and peripheral awareness to thrive in.

If the mind is agitated, it doesn’t accurately reflect experience. Instead we’re caught up in projections and lack perspective.

Stage 1

Prior to meditating

-Ask yourself what’s your purpose for meditating. To improve peace of mind, inner calmness, etc?

-What’s your goal for today’s practice? Better control of attention, returning to the object quicker?

-Think about potential distractions and resolve to set them aside if they arise. Just setting this intention will make them easier to handle.

Four Step Transition

Step 1 – focus on the present, sounds and sensations, by opening your peripheral awareness fully. Keep attention on the here and now.

Disregard any thought that has nothing to do with the present moment. Memories and thoughts about the future will naturally occur, and being fully present means being aware of them, but not engaging in them.

Step 2 – focus on bodily sensations exclusively (touch, pressure, warmth, movement, coolness, tingling, etc) and let everything else remain in peripheral awareness. Any sound or thought that arises, return to the body.

Notice any pleasant sensations, distinguishing between the sensation as sensation and your minds reaction to it, and spend a few moments enjoying the pleasure.

If you get distracted or feel restless, return to step 1 by focusing on everything in the present. Then slowly go back to step 2 and focus strictly on bodily sensations.

Step 3 – Focus on bodily sensations related to the breath (nose, face, chest and abdomen). Savor or even purposely induce feelings of peace and happiness.

Step 4 – focus on sensations of the breath at the nose. Wherever the sensations are clearest (just inside the nostrils, tip of the nose, upper lip, etc).

Don’t try to follow the air as it moves into the body or out of your nose, just observe the sensations from the air passing over the spot where you’re focusing your attention. Remember, the meditation object is the sensations of the breath, not the breath itself.

***Counting the breath – once you’ve gone through the first four steps, start silently counting each breath. The goal is to follow the sensations around your nose continuously for ten consecutive breaths, restarting each time your attention slips. (Consider the beginning of the out-breath as the start of the cycle). Once you hit ten, stop counting and focus just on step 4.

Stage 2

Conscious intention and affirmation powerfully influence our unconscious processes.

By savoring and valuing your aha moment (and encouraging yourself to have more of them), you’re training the mind through positive reinforcement to wake you up more quickly in the future. Perform this gently and easily.

Find the beginnings and endings of each part of the breath cycle, and the pauses in between. Then try to observe all these points with equal clarity.

Don’t limit peripheral awareness. To cultivate mindfulness, allow sounds, sensations, thoughts, memories, and feelings to continue in the background.

The best way to avoid or resolve impatience is to enjoy your practice. Focus on the positive. Notice when you feel relaxed or focused, relish in these feelings. Be proud of yourself in your sense of accomplishment, and encourage these feelings to grow stronger.

By making meditation satisfying and enjoyable the mental processes in your mind come into harmony, creating a harmony joy feedback loop which is crucial to achieving unification of mind.

You must cultivate peace, contentment, happiness, and joy at every opportunity.

Success comes through repetition with a relaxed attitude, rather than from effortful striving.

Stage 3

Two types of distractions, subtle and gross.

When less time is spent on the distraction and the meditation object remains the primary focus of attention, it’s called a subtle distraction, as they make up the background of conscious experience.

Subtle distractions are always present.

When a distraction takes center stage, occupying most of your attention/putting the meditation object in the background, it’s called a gross distraction.

Following – discern between the start and end of the in and out breaths as well as both pauses, with equal clarity.

Once done, begin to focus on recognizing the individual sensations that make up each in and out breath. First, carefully observe the sensations between the beginning and end of the in-breath (until you recognize 3-4 distinct sensations every time).

Continue to observe the rest of the breath cycle just as clearly as before.

After you consistently do this, do the same with the out-breath.

You must maintain extrospective awareness during this process.

Connecting – extension of following that involves making comparisons and associations. (Not necessary right now, but simply just asking questions such as is one breath shorter than the other, is the breath shorter or longer when the mind is distracted, etc).

Labeling – A practice to identify the distraction in the very moment you realize you’re no longer on the breath. Give the most recent thought a quick and simple label (thinking, planning, remembering) and then let go of it gently and easily and return to the breath. Avoid analyzing the distraction.

Checking in – during your session turn your attention inward to see what’s happening in the mind, called introspective attention.

This is a key to cultivating introspective awareness, by using attention, making awareness of the minds activity a habit.

Always check in very gently and briefly, to evaluate how much scattering was just occurring. This helps you determine if any distraction is about to turn into a gross distraction. If so, label it and tighten up attention on the breath to prevent forgetting.

The labeling of distractions trains awareness to know which distractions to watch out for in the future when you’re checking in.

This practice of checking in allows you to correct for gross distraction before it causes forgetting. You should check in regularly (every half dozen breaths or so, without counting) until it becomes a habit.

Don’t try to eliminate distractions entirely from awareness. As long as they stay in the background, let them come, let them be, and let them go.

When pain or discomfort becomes too much to ignore make it the focus of your attention. If the urge to move becomes irresistible decide in advance when you will move and what movement you will make, then be very observant as you move.

Interlude

-Staying mindful means you’re calmer, don’t react so quickly, or be distracted by your own emotions. With mindfulness you recognize more options, make wiser choices, and take control of your behavior.

-when we are mindful (steady dose of both attention and awareness), we provide the unconscious mind with new real time information that is directly relevant to what’s happening right now (this info tells us that it’s normal knee jerk reactions to the situation are harmful and not helping). This allows for reprogramming at the deepest levels of the unconscious.

The longer we can be mindful in a particular situation, the more new info becomes available and the more mindfulness can work its magic.

Consciousness can continue to pick up on and communicate the consequences of the event and their effects on our mental state long afterward.

The duration and consistency are equally important.

Being truly mindful of your actions and their consequences alters how you react in the future. Whenever something triggers one of your invisible programs it’s an opportunity to apply mindfulness.

When your mindful enough in daily life for long and often enough, then consciousness can communicate the actual context and consequences of your conditioned reactions to their unconscious sources. This produces real change.

Stage 4

Need to start emphasizing the introspective part of peripheral awareness. It’s like standing back a bit from the meditation object, just enough to keep the breath at the center of attention while taking in everything else happening in the mind.

Connecting – observe changes in the breath over time and how those changes correspond to shifts in your state of mind (when there’s more or less subtle distraction/dullness)

Become aware of the activities/mental processes of the mind itself and how it behaves: movements of attention, the way thoughts, feelings and other mental objects arise and pass away in peripheral awareness, and any changes in the clarity or vividness of perception.

By using the breath as an anchor while you mindfully observe the mind, you’re “watching the mind while the mind watches the breath.” This is called metacognitive introspective awareness.

Whenever you can’t disregard a powerful distraction, finesse the situation by intentionally making it your new meditation object.

Whenever you judge instead of just observing, mindfulness is less effective. By simply allowing material from the unconscious to come up, by mindfully bearing witness and not reacting, you reprogram the mind more deeply than you ever could through intellectual analysis.

Fourth interlude

Experience is divided into individual moments of conscious.

We can only be conscious of information coming from one sense organ at a time. Moments of seeing are distinct from moments of hearing/smelling. Therefore each is a separate mental event with its own unique content.

Each moment of consciousness is like a freeze frame, nothing changes.

Ordinary consciousness includes a significant proportion of non perceived mind moments. The more of these you have, the more you’ll have in subsequent moments.

Most moments of consciousness are moments of attention with the breath as their object, but others have knee pain or thoughts about lunch as their object.

Attention isn’t actually moving between a breath and these distractions. Successive moments of attention hold different objects. Interspersed among these moments of attention are moments of peripheral awareness of other bodily sensations, sounds, thoughts, and emotions, creating the background.

A strong intention to perceive in every moment of consciousness is the real antidote to dullness in meditation.

Stage five

Focus on the sensations around the surface of the abdominal region, not just the concepts of expansion.

Once established, choose an isolated area of the body away from the abdomen to focus attention on and examine all the sensations in that area, specifically those connected to the breath. Keep sensations of the breath at the abdomen in peripheral awareness.

Repeat this to a broader area (half foot to full foot, upper arm to entire arm and hands).

Fifth interlude – the mind system

Two main parts – conscious mind and unconscious mind

The conscious mind is not the source of its content. It’s more like a space or a screen into which the unconscious sub minds project their information and intentions.

The unconscious mind is divided into two major parts, sensory mind (taste, touch, smell, etc) and discriminating mind (thinking, emotional, reasoning/analysis), which produces moments of consciousness with mental objects. Each are composed of many individual sub minds that function automatically and simultaneously.

The conscious mind is like a boardroom, where all sub minds can communicate through.

The conscious mind acts as a universal recipient of information from these sub minds, but also as a universal source of information in that when one sub mind sends its info to the conscious mind, that information becomes available to all unconscious sub minds, allowing them to interact/communicate with each other through the conscious mind.

The collective interaction of sub minds and its resulting outcome is the executive function process.

Instead of immediately identifying with anger, if there’s some hesitation (because you remember to observe the situation mindfully) the delay allows information from other sub minds to rise into the conscious mind, offering different courses of action.

Conscious intentions that are repeatedly acted upon eventually give rise to automatic actions that no longer require conscious intention.

The narrating mind (sub mind in the discriminating mind) takes in all of the content in consciousness from all other sub minds, and constantly processes/organizes it. It then projects the information back as a binding moment of consciousness, becoming available to the rest of the mind system.

There is no “I” or “self” as an entity, just many unconscious sub minds exchanging information via the conscious mind.

The experience of consciousness itself is the result of the shared receptivity of unconscious sub-minds to the content passing through the conscious mind.

Stage six

Conscious intention is the key to developing exclusive attention (several sub minds agreeing to the intention, making it stronger and more effective). Simply hold the intention to observe all the fine details of the meditation object and ignore everything else.

Define your scope of attention much more precisely (a specific area + exclusively the breath sensations of that area) and ignore all other sensations from attention, allowing them to remain in peripheral awareness.

Keep increasing the scope of attention to include larger areas, while alternating between large and small areas, until you expand attention to include the entire body.

After a while shift focus back to the breath at the nose (or shift attention first to the abdomen then the nose). When exclusive focus fades, repeat the exercise of experiencing the whole body with the breath.

You don’t have to go part by part through the entire body each time (you can do it all at once) unless it’s helpful.

You create exclusive single pointed attention not by shrinking your attention down to a small point, but by expanding it to focus on the entire bodies sensations so there’s no room for distracting thoughts and other mental objects.

Metacognitive introspective awareness is cultivated by being aware of the ongoing activities of the mind (what attention is doing/being directed at/changes of objects) and by the state of mind (clarity, happy, impatient, etc).

The more intention you put towards increasing this awareness, the more availability there is in consciousness to achieve it.

Jhana- a shift in mental state when your mind slips into a groove and “flow” occurs for a little while.

Sixth interlude

Pacification of the sense comes from consistently ignoring sensory information presented in awareness. Sensory subminds eventually stop projecting their content into consciousness.

Stage 7

By enjoying the experience of exclusive attention (through constant repetition), the executive functions are overriding the intentions of other sub minds, which trains those sub minds to adopt the intention to be vigilant and immediately correct for distractions.

It becomes effortless to sustain exclusive attention because the sub minds are as active as ever/actively participating in the intention to sustain it.

If you feel doubtful, stuck and restless cultivate an attitude of acceptance and patience. Take as much satisfaction as possible in how far you’ve come and remind yourself of the rewards that will surely follow if you continue.

Walking meditation

Stage 1

-Focus on sensations in your feet as you walk, use this as your anchor when you get distracted

-Intentionally allow the mind to observe whatever is in the present

Stage 2 and 3

-Complete one full step before lifting up your back foot, focusing attention on sensations in the moving foot.

-Stop walking when you get distracted in your head and label it.

-When an outside object gets your attention, stop and focus on it. Be alert to the way you react to things.

The idea is to maintain intentional control over the movements of attention so you take in the totality of experience.

-Check in periodically to examine one of the three sensory fields, sound, visual, or body sensations.

-Limit verbal self talk, focus on being in the present silently.

Stage 4 and 5

-don’t stop walking for distractions, continue to examine them if you want and maintain an awareness of the walking sensations in the background

-when attention is stable, stop as you please to freely investigate your surroundings.

-observe and investigate visuals, sounds and sensations. Look at things close and far, how clear or less clear they are. Hear things close and far, how clear things become when you focus on them and others get pushed to the side.

-notice the difference between hearing the sound and identifying it. Practice hearing separately from identifying. Investigate without analyzing.

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Achieving your goals by becoming who you want to be

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We all have deeply held values and beliefs, some of which we consciously know of and others that are buried within our subconscious.

When it comes to achieving a certain outcome these convictions can help us or they can hurt us. 

Unfortunately most people don’t ever attain worthy goals primarily due to two reasons.

The first is that they use the wrong approach to accomplishing them. 

As James Clear details in his book Atomic Habits, most people focus on outcome based habits (I’m going to start meditating) when the secret is to focus on identity based habits/who you want to become (I am going to become a person who meditates and finds profound peace in my life by blocking out 30 minutes each morning specifically to meditate).

The second is that most of their beliefs are outdated or unknown (I failed a writing class 15 years ago in college so that still makes me a bad writer today).

To fix this, it starts by taking the time to think about your values so that they are perfectly clear and understood. It’s quite possible to uncover that you don’t like some of these beliefs that have gone unquestioned and not even consciously recognized for years, decades or even a lifetime. 

If you’re having a little bit of trouble getting started, use the powerful scenario below:

You are ill and going to pass away very soon. You have one piece of paper and a pencil to leave your unborn children with (if you have children, imagine them still being very young). Use this paper to write down the values, wisdom and insights that you want to leave your children with in hopes that they apply and embody them throughout their lifetime. 

Below are mine.

-Practice to appreciate what you have right now in this very moment, as nothing is permanent and all can be taken away without asking or notice. 

-Don’t compare yourself to others, but rather focus on the potential that you are capable of becoming/achieving

-Be aware of the thoughts in your own head and focus on turning negative ones into positive ones.

-Realize that the little moments in life are what living is all about and are what make up our lives.

-Smile, laugh, be silly and don’t take 99% of life seriously.

-When you find yourself stressing, worrying, anxious or sad just remember that you have the option to try to look at the situation from different perspectives, ones that can bring out more positive emotions and minimize the others. 

-Breathe!

-Your body and your mind are your temple, take care of them and put them in an environment where they can thrive.

-Don’t solely rely on others for anything, remember that everything you ever need can be found within.

-Stand up for what you believe in and never fear failure (it’s temporary), but rather welcome it with open arms as when you fail you gain experience/value lessons that help long term.

-Read books, as many as you can on topics of interest/what you think may help you grow, and be sure to take notes and revisit them. 

-Take time to disconnect and be with your thoughts.

-A positive attitude and persistence is the secret to attaining any worthwhile goal.

-Be impeccable with your word and always ask questions.

-Writing/journaling is a powerful medium in becoming happier and more grateful, as well as an effective way to motivate yourself to become who you want to be.

-Share your learnings and experiences with others. As you strive to learn and grow, you can help those around you do so as well. 

-Fall in love with the journey and your daily routine of rituals, as this is one of the secrets to true happiness and success, not any specific goal or accomplishment.

 

By thinking about and then writing down the values and beliefs that you’d want your children to possess, you’re naturally creating the identity and person that you ultimately want to become. 

Whether you consciously pursue these virtues or not, your subconscious mind has already begun to activate them and before you know it you’ll start to act in alignment with and become them (which paradoxically helps you also achieve your outcome based goals). 

Before you can do something you first must be something. Act as the person you wish to become.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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What’s the Point of Life?

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Taking the time to stop and realize just how small we are in the grand scheme of things can help one see life from a refreshing perspective.

Imagine zooming out from the city you live in and seeing the entire city from high above along with a tiny dot of where you are, then zooming out from the state and doing the same thing, then from the continent, the entire planet of earth, the moon, our galaxy. Then try to fathom the concept that we live in just one galaxy amongst billions to trillions of other galaxies in a universe that is ever expanding. 

It naturally makes you think of asking the question, what’s the point of life?

While it’s quite possible that there is no true meaning of life, here’s my take on it.

We are here for a short blip of time, and then we die. There’s no guarantee that we will still be ourselves when we pass away, or that we will even know that we once lived and existed in this world that we call our home. Or that there will be anything at all.  

So why not take the time to strengthen our minds through the power of reason and thought?

Why not take the time to better understand our true values and beliefs, so that we can then create rituals to act upon each day that serve as our guide towards achieving and maintaining those subconscious convictions deeply rooted within? 

To take the time to become disciplined so that we can discover and unlock our potential and push ourselves to the limits on what we are capable of.

To take up the technique of meditation, so that we can slow our minds down, feeling the calmness and peace from within that can be carried throughout each passing day and utilized to help navigate the plethora of decisions that must be made practically every second. 

To learn the ways of the ancient Stoics, such as that life is filled with impermanence. That everything we have is on loan and can be taken back at any moment without any given notice.

That it isn’t just about living every day as if it were your last, but every moment as if it were your last.

That’s the unique thing about life, most of the time we never know the exact moment when it will be our time to go. Taking the time to recognize that each time you do something could be the very last time you do that specific thing can exponentially increase your capacity for joy and gratitude. 

So while we are here, through my life experiences up until this point, it makes most sense to me that we focus on figuring out what is truly important to each and every one of us, and then fighting for it and never settling for anything less.

That we take leaps of faith into the unknown, we view fear, mistakes and failures as allies and the golden ticket to being able to strengthen ourselves and take our lives to a new heightened level and more improved version of what we once were.

That we realize that time is the greatest and most valuable currency of all. That we are given the same amount of hours in a day regardless of our net worth and that it’s in our control to choose how we spend it. 

True success isn’t about the amount of money you have in your bank account, the material possessions you own, the recognition you receive from others or about reaching a specific goal. 

True success is the feeling of knowing that you have chosen the right path in this one life that you have to live, of who you have evolved into becoming while on the journey and ultimately what you’re able to give and share with others because of it. 

While we may be basically meaningless in the big picture of the universe, in this very moment of time we are breathing and alive and have it in our hands  to live purposeful and fulfilling lives.

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Our Capacity for Joy

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Most of us don’t take the time to disconnect. 

To sit and relax by taking a few deep breaths. To close our eyes and meditate or reflect on our lives and just how precious, delicate and incredible it truly is.  

Life races by while we are on auto-pilot, never fully present.

It’s usually not until something devastating happens that we really get a wake up call. That our senses and emotions kick into high gear and we begin to consciously think about our lives and its impermanence. 

Life. is. Impermanent.

We know that nothing lasts forever, that all good things come to an end. 

Yet, we take those good things for granted and before we know it, they’re gone. Never having truly appreciated it. Never having intentionally set aside the time to just exist and mindfully contemplate over how grateful we are for what we do have. 

With the recent death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter and the other people that were on board the helicopter that crashed in California, grief has reverberated throughout the world. 

Powerful shock waves of life’s impermanence and times of cruelty have pulsated through our mind, body and soul, forcing us to confront the hard truth that we own and control next to nothing in this world. 

And it’s in these times of realization that we come alive, fully present and alert, and start to focus on what’s truly important in this concept we call life. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

We can become more present in our waking moments. We can stop taking what’s valuable to us for granted and start appreciating and loving more, both big and small. We can begin to feel how lucky we are for life and cherish waking up each day, being able to breathe, smile, laugh, hug, speak, hear, walk, feel, see. 

Through the practice of both positive and negative visualization, we can achieve all of this. And when we decide it’s finally time to engage in and pursue this technique that dates back to thousands of years ago, we can do something that every human being consciously or unconsciously strives for. 

We can increase our capacity for joy. 

“By contemplating the impermanence of everything in the world, we are forced to recognize that every time we do something could be the last time we do it, and this recognition can invest the things we do with a significance and intensity that would otherwise be absent.” – William B. Irvine

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One Year Left to Live

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You’re at a routine doctor’s visit. The doctor brings you into his office where he sit’s you down and begins to read you the results on your X-ray that you recently had done.

Very bluntly, he tells you that you have some rare form of a disease you’ve never heard of before and cannot even pronounce. You quickly go into a state of shock and total disbelief, no longer listening to what the doctor is rambling on about.

As you go in and out of this unconscious like state, you hear him say “you have roughly one year left to live”.

You leave and walk out of the office building and into your car.

Sitting there, you begin to think of how little time you have left. How many things there are to be done that you simply will not be able to do. A future that you were so sure of that you no longer have.

Besides the turmoil going on within your stomach, you suddenly feel tranquil and complete clarity in your mind. Your brain is providing you with a clearly obvious sense of purpose and direction, and for the first time in your life, during this rare heightened state of total awareness, you choose to go with it.

Let’s pretend that the scenario above really happened to you, TODAY.

Ask yourself this question…

“If I had one year left to live, what would I do?”

So you head home and you take out a piece of paper and a pencil and begin to write out your list of what you absolutely must do before it’s too late.

-Quit my job and tell my boss to suck it
-Tell my family/friends that I love them, maybe even go and give them a hug right now if they live close
-Book a flight (or flights) to a few different places that I’ve always wanted to visit, including a few different excursions, retreats, etc that have been on the top of my bucket list
-Max out my credit cards to pay for the above, maybe even open up a few more bank accounts as well
-Spend some time with people who are going through a similar disease as mine
-Buy or lease my favorite car
-Start a business that I’ve always wanted to, maybe a non profit
-etc, etc.

Now let’s say immediately after you wrote down your list of must do’s, this newfound motivation was bountiful enough to push you to actually commit to all of them. Regardless of how uncomfortable some of them made you feel, and most likely why you never did them to this point in your life, you accepted and even encouraged with open arms this sense of discomfort and “stepping into the unknown”.

Fast forward 12 months later.

You’ve transformed, transcended and have turned into a completely new person.

You took a leap of faith and forced yourself to do things that a year and a day prior you never imagined being capable of doing.

You’ve raised your levels of awareness and have learned to recognize and follow the messages and signals that your body and subconscious have shared with you.

You’ve discovered how many limited beliefs you had about yourself and life in general that were holding you back, and how much easier it was then anticipated to dismantle them and grow new and more powerful and positive beliefs.

You’ve realized the true value of time, how it’s the most precious resource that we have on this planet, and spent each and every waking moment of the past 365 days completely living in the present.

You’ve explored new cultures on the totally opposite side of the world.

You’ve expressed your gratitude and unconditional love for your family and friends.

Even though you quit your job and had barely any savings to your name, you’ve become extremely resourceful and have taken every obstacle standing in your way head on and plowed through them.

You’ve gotten a brief taste of living life on your own terms, and the extraordinary feeling of positive momentum, freedom and empowerment that comes along with it, and you’ve become absolutely addicted to it.

You’ve become a success. You’ve done and experienced something that 99.99% of all human beings NEVER get the chance to or take the chance to do. And that’s to live.

Rewinding back to that day when you were sitting in your car minutes after being delivered literally the worst news of your life, instead of letting death consume you, you made a stern decision to maximize the time you had remaining.

While the bad news is what pushed you over the edge, it was still YOU who put together your bucket list and YOU who committed to achieving them.

Now come back to the present, and imagine that at your most recent doctor’s check up he tells you that you no longer have the disease…it just magically went away.

With the experiences and positive mindset that you now possess within, and after already facing death head on and giving him the finger, do you really think all of your prior fears, doubts, limited beliefs and concerns can prevent you from continuing to live a life that you choose to live? A life of freedom?

None of us truly know when our time will come to leave this world. With only this life to live, we must stop playing it safe, seeking comfort and running away from our fears.

When we learn to push ourselves past our comfort zone, we become who we deep down have always wanted to and were meant to be.

There’s no better time than the present to take control of the steering wheel and navigate ourselves towards living the life we’ve always dreamed of living.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

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The Road Less Traveled Book Summary/Notes

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Discipline – a system of techniques of dealing constructively with the pain of problem solving (instead of avoiding that pain) in such a way that all of life’s problems can be solved.

-delaying gratification – dealing with the pain first so that you can enjoy the pleasure later.

-your upbringing/childhood and how your parents raise you is immensely important and helps shape you for your life.

Time- if you take the time, you can accomplish many things that may currently be viewed as limited beliefs.

Problems – do not avoid them, they do not go away. You must work through them so that they do not remain as a barrier to growth. Even though they are painful in the moment they won’t be once they are resolved. IF you allow them to persist, the pain will be much more intense and last longer in the future.

-beliefs and revising – need to be open minded and flexible, and constantly tweak our views of the world.

-self examination – the life of wisdom must be a life of contemplation combined with action. We must not just examine life but examine the examiner simultaneously.

-truth – in order to seek truth, we must have the discipline to revise our views and overcome pain. Truth must be more important to our self interest than our comfort. Personal discomfort is unimportant and should be welcomed in the search for truth. We must be dedicated to true reality at all costs to sharpen our mental health.

-self-discipline – complete honesty takes less energy than lying. It enables you to be totally free and open.

-healthiness of depression – the process of unconsciously or consciously the feeling of giving up something of the self that is loved or familiar is depression.

The feeling of depression is a signal that major change is required for successful adaptation. Most people aren’t ready or willing to accept or recognize this.

Balancing – being able to discipline your discipline

Bracketing – subtype of balancing, the act of balancing the need for stability and assertion of the self with the need for new knowledge and greater understanding by temporarily giving up one’s self to make room for the incorporation of new material into the self.

Mature awareness is possible only when biases and prejudices are put to the side. It involves a double movement of attention: both silencing the familiar and welcoming the strange. Bracketing the preconceived world to allow the strangeness into the perceptual world. The ego must be neutralized/eliminated.

In order to grow and travel further through the journey of life, one must have multiple deaths (giving up familiar views and things) and rebirths (retaining of new information and views). One must learn to endure and accept both pleasure and pain.

For to exercise power is to make decisions and the process of making decisions with total awareness is often infinitely more painful than making decisions with limited awareness.

Love – the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing ones own or another’s spiritual growth.

As we extend our limits (through effort), we grow into a larger state of being. This act of loving is an act of self evolution even when the purpose of It is for someone else’s growth.

Love is not effortless, it’s effortful.

“Real” Love occurs when the feeling of love lacks, and when one acts lovingly despite the fact that they don’t feel loving. This is a permanently self enlarging experience.

Falling in love is a temporary and partial collapse of one’s ego boundaries. It is sexually instinctual/rooted/stimulated (a deeply genetic and natural experience which serves to increase sexual pairing/bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species).

This happens outside of one’s control, effortlessly. This is not an experience that facilitates growth.

Children – by giving them undivided attention (total focus on them without doing anything else), they will feel valued/valuable. The more valuable they feel, the more things of value they will say..they will rise to your expectation of them.

Listen to them enough and you’ll realize how extraordinary they are, leading to you willing to listen more and learning more from them.

The more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to teach them.

The more you listen to them, the more value they feel, the more willing they will be to listen to you and learn from you.

Growth and religion

-our understanding and view/outlook on life is our religion, and everyone has one.

-the path to holiness lies through questioning everything.

Evolution of consciousness

-everything, all knowledge, is within our subconscious. It is when we become more aware that we discover this knowledge consciously.

-our unconscious mind is god. God is within us.

-those who have attained spiritual growth are aware that their unusual wisdom has its origin in their unconscious. That their knowledge flow to them through this connection.

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What to say when you talk to yourself Book Summary/Notes

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Our thoughts and beliefs have been hard wired into us from a very young age.

The brain believes what we tell It most. And what we tell It about ourselves, It will create.

How successful you will be at anything is tied directly to the words and beliefs about yourself that you have stored in your subconscious mind. And what is stored there was decided for us by someone else.

Growing up we are told No and what we cannot do more than 148,000 times, while being told yes and what we can do very few times in comparison.

77% of everything we think is negative, counterproductive and works against us.

75% of all illnesses are self induced.

Our mental programming is majority fucked up.

Neuroplasticity – the ability to rewire the brain throughout our lifetime and ability to strengthen and weaken synapses, and create new ones – can help us make vital changes in the programming we accept from others, and what we say when we talk to ourselves.

There are three essential ingredients in order to making lasting and permanent positive changes in our lives.

1 – the concept has to become physically wired into the brain
2 – understanding how the brain gets wired and the role we play in the wiring process
3 – a new word for word set of directions, new programming to both your conscious and subconscious minds. Specific “programming vocabulary” worded in a certain way that can be used at any time to replace old negative programming with positive and productive new directions.

The only solution that includes all three of the essential ingredients that create lasting change in the brain is “self talk”.

To make long lasting change we must begin by fixing our old programming ways, the years of conditioning that keeps us doing things the old way.

Self talk – the practice of consciously and actively rewiring the brain with a more successful and new picture of oneself.

“Whatever you put in your mind, in one way or another, is what you’ll get back out, in one way or another.”

Repeated messages that we hear are wired into our subconscious mind. If allowed, which typically happens without our awareness, these affect, direct and control everything about us.

Every thought that we have is always tied to something else that we already know about.

Even new thoughts are instantly tied/compared to something else in the mind to connect the new information to so that we understand It.

The more we believe something, the more we accept other similar ideas about It.

“The more you think about yourself in a certain way, the more you will think about yourself in that same certain way. The more you think about anything in a certain way, the more you will believe that that is how it really is. The mind works that way because the brain always tries to tie any new thing you think to something you already believe.”

“The longer you have bought the thought, the “truer” It is.”

“Everything you tell yourself about yourself becomes a directive to your subconscious mind, and anytime you make a statement about yourself that is negative, you’re directing your subconscious mind to make you become the person you just described, negatively.”

“The human brain will do anything possible you tell it to do if you tell it often enough and strong enough. If you tell It the wrong thing about yourself that is what it will accept and act upon.”

“Our internal programming mechanism treats anything we tell it with equal indifference.”

“What we put into our brains is what we will get back out.”

“The subconscious mind is a sponge; It will believe anything you tell It – It will even believe a lie – if you tell It often enough and strongly enough. That part of the brain makes no moral judgments; it simply accepts what you tell it.”

The self management sequence

The five steps that control our success or failure

1- behavior/actions

If you do right, you’ll progress, and vice versa.

Why we find it difficult and don’t do things we know we should is because of our feelings, which influence and control all of our actions.

2- feelings

Actions are first filtered through our feelings, which determines or affects what we do and how well we do It.

Regardless if the feelings are rational, they control and influence the actions we take. If they’re positive and productive, your action will follow.

Feelings are created, controlled and influenced by your attitudes.

3- attitudes

Positive perspectives allow you to see opportunities ahead and set our sights to reach them. In order to process the kinds of feelings which work for us we have to have the right attitude to start with.

Attitudes are created by our beliefs.

4- beliefs

What we believe about anything will determine our attitudes about It, create our feelings, direction our actions and helps us succeed or fail.

Our belief about anything is so powerful that it can even make something appear to be something different than what it really is. It does not require that something be the way we see it to be, only that we believe that it is.

“Belief does not require something to be true. It only requires us to believe that it’s true.”

They’re created by our programming.

5- programming

What we have accepted from the outside world and have fed to ourselves has tested a cause and effect chain reaction sequence which cannot fail to lead us to what we program/believe.

Programming creates beliefs.
Beliefs create attitudes.
Attitudes create feelings.
Feelings determine actions.
Actions create results.

In order to change your results you must change your programming.

“Self talk is a way to override our past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with conscious and positive new directions. Self talk is a practical way to live our lives by active intent rather than by passive acceptance.”

It offers a way to stop being a product of conditioned response, but governed instead by personal choice.

5 levels of self talk

Level 1 self talk (most harmful self talk)
The level of negative acceptance (I cant…)

Saying something bad about yourself and accepting It. The most frequently used self talk of all, the backbone of everything that works against us and stands in our way.

Doubts, fears, misgivings and hesitations are all programmed when we use this verbiage.

Level 2 self talk
The level of recognition and need to change (I need to..I should..)

Recognition of a problem, but creates no solution.

Level 3 self talk
The level of decision to change (I never..I no longer..)

Works for you instead of against you. When you make the decision to do something about it, stating the decision in present tense as though it’s already taken place.

“I no longer put off doing anything I want to get done.”
“I never get upset in traffic.”

Automatically rephrasing old negative cannots in a new positive way that tells the subconscious mind to wake up and make the change.

Level 4 self talk
The level of the better you (I am)

Most effective self talk (stated in present tense), what is needed most.

It’s positive, inspiring and encouraging. It excites and pushes us forward.

“I am a winner. I believe in myself. I have determination, drive and self belief. I am living the life I choose, and I choose what’s right.”

Level 5 self talk
The level of universal affirmation (It is..)

“People who typically think positively actually grow more neurons in the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain. This area of the brain is in part responsible for our ability to seek alternative solutions to problems, deal with challenges and maintain an even balance. The research shows that the value of a can-do spirit of positive thinking has had its core and important basis lender on structure of the brain itself.”

External motivation is temporary. When you rely on others to motivate you, once you lose that person the motivation goes away with them.

This is because we still have our old programming in the back of our minds, in our subconscious just waiting to turn things back to our old normal way of living.

The brain cannot store motivation.

We can decide for ourselves what should motivate us, versus having someone else decide for us.

The right self talk creates internal motivation that can help us stay motivated. You must practice to become your own motivator.

“Self help permanently rewires neural pathways in the brain through the use of conscious repetition.”

“With self talk, you’re in control, and instead of temporarily overriding programs, you’re actually rewiring neural networks to create long-term changes to the structure of your brain itself.”

In order for any self improvement concept to work, It must be easy.

We are constantly fighting against our time, energy and mind. When strategies are time consuming and difficult, our programming pushes them off to the side for the majority of us.

Five different techniques for using self talk

1- silent self talk

More awareness than effort.

Anything you think about yourself or anything else around you. Level 1 (I can’t) and level 2 (I should, I need to) shifting to level 3 (I never, I no longer) and level 4 (I am).

Subtle shift of no longer viewing from a negative lense to a positive and productive one.

Most of what we call problems are really only perceived as problems, The way you look at each of them determines whether they really are or not, you need only tell yourself to see them in a better way.

Don’t let your old programming talk you out of this as it’s just an old and negative habit that can be combated.

How we feel is mental and chemical it is physiological, if we tell ourselves that we feel energetic or enthusiastic when we are really tired at some point of this repetition we will convince ourselves that it’s true.

2- self speak

Anything you say out loud. Makes up an important part of the pictures and directions we feed to our subconscious.

What you say is a determining factor in whether you win or lose in life. The better your self speak (positive attitude regardless of any circumstances) the better off you’ll be.

“Listen to everything you say when you speak. Do your words paint a picture for your own subconscious mind you want it to be seeing? If not, change the words. Rephrase them.”

3- Self conversation

Holding both sides of a conversation with yourself, out loud.

In the morning tell yourself how great this day is going to be, hold a convo about It and how you feel about It. What you can achieve versus what you cannot.

By speaking out loud you force yourself to put thoughts into words and allows you to ask yourself questions and get straightforward answers. Surprisingly we are very factual in our responses and help us stop kissing ourselves.

4- self write

Self talk written word for word for yourself.

“It focuses your attention makes you think and gets you actively involved in the process of erasing the old negative programming and actively participating in the process of replacing old with the new. That kind of focus and involvement fine-tunes your initiative and adds energy to your determination.

5- recorded self-talk

Listening to positive self talk (podcasts, interviews, videos, etc), even while doing something else or not always agreeing with It can help rewire your brain, as your subconscious begins to program the positive new info regardless if you are consciously thinking about It or not.

3 step process for getting started

Monitor – mindfulness through meditation, being aware of being aware.

In order to change our self talk dialogue we have to start by being aware of what It currently is. As we make it a habit to monitor and observe our daily thoughts (the words we see out load, as well as what we tell ourselves in silence), we can see what’s positively and negatively impacting our lives. This can then help us with determining what we must change.

We are aware of less than 10% of all the self talk going on in our brains.

Edit – as we become more mindful we must eliminate any negative self talk that may hinder us. The moment we notice it happening, we have to edit it immediately and rephrase It in a positive light.

“When you hear yourself say something like “I’ve really got a problem with this…” turn It around and say “I can handle this. I’m a capable person and I handle problems well.”

By turning our negativity that we think and say into positivity, we are sending messages to our subconscious mind and through repetition they begin to physically program into our brain!

Do not underestimate this. Our subconscious has capabilities beyond the limits of our understanding. Self talk can vastly improve every facet of your life for the better, it’s just a matter of wiring it into your mind so that It then works automatically like a habit.

Listen – by listening to self talk phrases, and specially worded self talk recordings (even just in the background for a few minutes per day without any conscious effort), your subconscious automatically will rewire your brains programing.

“The key is repetition. The more often the same messages are repeated, the stronger the brain wires them in.”

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