The Philosophy of Life Blueprint

We all innately seek out to feel certain emotions. 

Joy, gratitude, success, peace, contentment, humility, fulfillment, a sense of meaning and purpose, contribution, etc.

But how come so few of us actually succeed in attaining these feelings consistently over the long term? 

How come instead of bathing in them on a daily basis, we live our lives chasing after them and typically come up partially or completely empty handed?

It’s my belief that the reason we lack the ability to feel these emotions on command is for the simple fact that we were never taught how to do so. 

And because we never learned this skill, the majority of us mindlessly wander through life struggling to truly feel alive.

Despite age or circumstance you can acquire the competency necessary to taking more control of your life and mastering the emotions you want to feel each day.

A Philosophy of Life 

It all starts here. 

The foundation which your life is built upon. 

The detailed roadmap that paves the path for you so that you can succeed at life.

One of the main reasons we typically feel a nagging sense of discontentment is for the fact that we are deep into the game of life without having ever learned the rules to winning. 

A philosophy of life holds the key and provides you with the necessary guidelines to follow. 

So what is a philosophy of life?

It could be a religion or an actual philosophy that has different modes of thinking that if followed enables one to have certain perspectives, as well as more clarity on what is important in life. 

For example sake, and because I have a philosophy of life that I practice, we will go with the Stoicism philosophy.

Below are some of Stoicisms most important perspectives/lessons:

-Life is impermanent, which means that we can lose anything and everything in our lives at any moment. Because of this, we must cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the present moment at all times since the “now” is all we truly have.

-There are a lot more things that we cannot control in life than there are things that we can control. Instead of spending most of our time focusing on what’s out of our control, which typically leads to the arising of negative emotions, we should work on what is in our power, such as our character. 

-Focus on what you do have (your body/health, food/shelter, family/friends, etc) and not what you lack (material possessions, status, etc). 

-Take time to think about what can (and in some cases will) go wrong in life and use it to increase your capacity to appreciate, as well as better prepare yourself for when it does happen. 

The above are a few of the Stoic guiding principles that are of the utmost importance to me and absolute top priorities that I fully believe in and practice each and every day. 

You must find your philosophy of life that speaks to your soul. 

But finding it is just one thing. 

Actually implementing its principles into your life is another story. 

So how does one become more grateful.

How does one strengthen their character and become successful in life?

This is achieved through mindfulness


Mindfulness is the answer 

By practicing meditation, you can start to “awaken” to the incredible and unique human ability to closely monitor and observe your mind. 

Instead of being fully engulfed and identified through every single thought, you can take a step back in your mind and simply notice them arise and fall.

This strategy leads to becoming much more aware of your daily thoughts, emotions, impulses, opinions and beliefs. 

The benefit of this is that it allows you to not just recognize, but also slowly begin to take conscious control of the dominating forces that are incessantly churning in your head. 

With enough practice, you can stop being a servant to your mind and actually take over the reins as the master of your mind. 

Attaining this superpower helps you steer those forces into alignment with your principles. 

Asking yourself the important question

So instead of asking yourself the conventional question, “what do you want to achieve in life”?, instead ask yourself “who do you want to become”? 

What principles from your philosophy of life do you want to embody? 

Daily seeds of reminders 

With increased awareness through meditation, you’ve become more conscious of what is going on in your mind. 

Now it’s possible to begin chipping away at the old and outdated habits and beliefs, the negative thoughts and judgements and emotions that arise, etc. 

You essentially can start to optimize your mind into focusing on, thinking and feeling the way you want it to (according to your principles). 

This is done by planting tiny seeds of reminders throughout your daily routine. 

In doing so, your ideal identity begins to take sprout. 

There are a multitude of ways to remind yourself to do these rituals, so it really comes down to preference and whichever is most effective for you. 

A few examples include:

-habit stacking – adding them to a habit that you already do each day, such as when you brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, take a sip of coffee, etc, 

-adding them to your phone’s calendar for a certain time of the day so that your phone notifies you of when to do it, 

-using a habit app that sends you a push notification to remind you to perform it

For increasing gratitude

Because gratitude is a major part of the philosophy of Stoicism, I’ve made it a priority of mine to practice ways to become more grateful for my life. This focus of attention has literally rewired my brain, enabling it to consciously pick up on new things to be grateful for throughout my day to day of living that I never would’ve recognized prior. With enough consistency and time, you can train your brain to do the same! 

The most important thing you can do is begin a Gratitude Journal. Each morning I think of three new things that I’m grateful for, ponder over them, as well as write them down in my journal. 

Below are a handful of other smaller seeds that I ensure to sprinkle throughout my days. Some are quotes or tiny reminders that I simply take the time to bring into my center of attention and experience in the present:

-“Do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life.”

-“You can die at any moment, let that determine what you do, say and think.”

-Take brief moments to sit back in the mind and pay attention to my thoughts

-Look at life from someone else’s perspective.

-Don’t judge anyone or anything today

-Remember yourself: Try to simply remember yourself as often as possible, so that you can become aware of the present moment, your thoughts, the way you feel, etc. (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.”)

-What are the qualities in those you love/care about that you admire most about them?

-External considering: put yourself in another person’s shoes so that you can see yourself from another’s objective perspective.

-Prospective retrospection: thinking about this moment right now from the perspective of your future/older self, reminding yourself that right now you are living a life that your future self will miss and wish they can re-experience and live back in. 

-Negative visualization: thinking about losing the things that are most important to you in your life, experiencing them in vivid detail, and then realizing how much you appreciate them in your life right now. 

Others I try to remind myself of when I am in the midst of experiencing a certain trigger of emotion or impulse:

-“Coping calmly with this inconvenience is the price I pay for my inner serenity, for freedom from perturbation; you don’t get something for nothing.”

-Recognize incoming impulses, label them, try to not let their emotions take over, try to understand why they exist, and in that moment use your clear headed reasoning to make the decision not to allow them to disrupt your tranquility. 

-What would Marcus Aurelius think or do?

-What would someone who has much more humility than me think? 

-What’s great about this situation?

-How can I use this situation to my advantage in the future? 

For becoming successful in life and the person you want to be

Because character building is a major pillar of Stoicism, being a virtuous person that lives with integrity is an ongoing life goal of mine.  

By asking yourself questions like the few below, you can begin to paint a clear picture of who you genuinely want to be and provide yourself with a blueprint to follow.

-How does the person you want to be live on a daily basis? 

-What kind of emotions do you want to feel each day?

-What states of mind do you want to experience and how do you know if/when you’re experiencing them?

To wrap things up

As you go through the process of determining your philosophy of life and the principles that are most important to you, as well as begin to meditate and plant the daily seeds of reminders into your mind, your capacity to experience all of the emotions and states of mind that you want to feel will naturally expand. 

Prior, your mind would have been filled with static, having no real awareness or control over your life and living off of your conditioned impulses and habits. But now, similar to an antenna seeking to pick up a clear signal, having achieved mastery of your mind, you’ll be perfectly tuned into this new frequency and opportunities in your life will be bountiful. 

At this stage in the game of life, what more could we possibly want? 

It’s possible that the sense of fulfillment and contentment we feel within by living according to our philosophy of life’s principles are what we all truly seek in our lives that no other accomplishment can ever come close to matching.

The only way to find out for certain is to give it a try and find out for yourself. 

Your principles have life in them. For how can they perish, unless the ideas that correspond to them are extinguished? And it is up to you to be constantly fanning them into new flame.” – Marcus Aurelius

The Magic Power of your Imagination

Our unique human ability to have an imagination is something that most of us certainly take for granted.

If you take a moment to think about it, there is definitely some magic involved in the concept of utilizing your imagination.

To start off we can gain external inspiration, whether from another person or a group of people or possibly from a situation that unfolds in front of us. 

For example, we can see the way an influential person goes about living their life. Take for example Tony Robbins who inspires millions of people to better themselves and take control of their lives, while also living himself in a manner that aligns with what he preaches. 

From there a seed of thought or an idea can be planted within our mind. 

To continue with the example, Tony Robbins’ impact can inspire us to want to better ourselves, and even more specifically, live in a way that allows us to find happiness and appreciation for our life. 

We can then harness the power of our imagination to envision in the eye of our mind what that concept would look like in tangible form.

This could include visualizing the habits we’d need to instill into our life, the steps we’d need to take in order to implement them and imagining how that new and improved person would go about living their life and how it would feel having attained the goal. 

It’s been said that imagination is the key to motivation. 

Since our brains don’t know the difference between a real experience and a vividly imagined one, we can create the reality we seek through visualization paired with tremendous emotional intensity.

By taking the time to visualize and imagine, we can build up the courage, discipline and positive stimulation to work towards taking care of and growing that seed. 

Through consistent and continuous repetition over time, we can literally create what we imagined into physical form within our reality.

Magic is defined as “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces”, and the above scenario definitely describes that to a T! 

Typically we stop using our imagination as often as we age, piling on the excuses that we don’t have the time, that we are fearful of what others would think or that we have too many other responsibilities to do so or to even entertain our imagined ideas. 

This is a sad fact in today’s society, but it doesn’t have to remain this way. 

We have the rare potential to literally envision ideas and concepts in our mind, blend them into the cocktail of our own individual references, experience, perspectives and beliefs in life, and then magically create them into our world. 

Don’t undervalue yourself and your potential. 

Don’t let your imagination muscle atrophy. 

Harness the wizardry powers of being able to imagine and take maximum advantage of it. 

“Anything real begins with the fiction of what could be. Imagination is therefore the most potent force in the universe.” – Kevin Kelly

Existence over Consumption

With worldwide news being instantly available to us on a 24/7 loop, and the vast majority of that information being bad news, it’s no wonder that a negative attitude towards many aspects of life has become a common and pervasive outlook in this modern age. 

Most of us consume and consume and consume, from the moment we wake up until the final minutes before we go to bed. 

Have you ever stopped for a second to think if there’s a better way to live? 

Wouldn’t you agree that a life with a little less consumption would do our minds and souls a lot of good? 

Imagine a life where we take a mental break from technology, even for just 30 minutes to an hour at first and expand from there, where we simply just exist and learn to recover from the unhealthy habit and addiction of needing to constantly grab our phones to check social media or the news every few minutes. 

Why not try to pursue a healthier daily routine that is filled with extended periods of complete disconnection from the rest of the world, where you spend time intentionally existing in the present moment, self reflecting and discovering who you are, just to see how it makes you feel? 

We call ourselves human beings, yet ever since smartphones and social media and push notifications came into our lives we rarely have even a split second of time to just “be”. 

We are all attracted to the idea of having peace of mind, feeling more calm and composed (especially during stressful situations) and living in periodic states of joy and contentment, yet our actions typically push us further away from attaining them. 

The solution isn’t complex. 

Stop overdosing on consumption. 

Take charge of your mind and your actions. 

Make the time each day to do what nature has prescribed for us all. 

Just exist. 

With consistency, the results will forever change your life for the better. 

“Disconnect with the world. Reconnect with yourself.”

Harnessing the Vacation Mindset

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When we go on most vacations, once we arrive at our destination we typically settle into a calm and relaxed mood. 

If it’s a tropical trip, we lay out by the water and soak up the sun’s rays. We become more aware of our new surroundings and radiate a sense of relief and appreciation for the time off and escape from reality. 

Throughout the trip surges of excitement and laughter fill the air, especially when we are enjoying our vacation with those we love and care about. We express our gratitude for the memories and experiences we are creating in that moment and truly feel them.

Just reading the above can place you into a more peaceful state of mind and remind you of a past trip that you took, and that was the point of it!

Now, what if I told you that it was possible to harness the “vacation” mindset without having to go on vacation? 

That you can live with those feelings of emotions throughout each and every day of your life, EVEN if you don’t absolutely love the life that you’re currently living? 

Well, it’s possible and if you take the time to read the below and apply it into your life, your world will change for the better almost instantly. 

The average person has about 16 waking hours each day, of which typically around 8 of them, excluding most weekends, are spent working. 

With just 2-3 weeks of vacation time each year, we are talking about roughly half of our waking hours in our life being dedicated to work (potentially more if your thoughts, emotions and actions before and after work are focused on work related matters and concerns).

The bad news about these facts is that we spend a LOT of time working, the good news is that we have a LOT more time than we realize to spend how we choose to. 

Whether you know it or not, every impulse, habit and belief that you have was created either by your family and friends while growing up or by yourself over the years. And just as they were created, the ones that aren’t beneficial to living your best life can be eliminated and recreated. 

The Vacation mindset is composed of three primary habits. If you intentionally plant these seeds into your mind and make the effort to water and nurture them, they can and will grow into beautiful and flourishing trees with roots and branches that extend into the lives of those you love. 

The three habits are: Meditation, Practicing Gratitude and Visualization.

Meditation 

It’s well known today that meditation has many positive benefits, it can make you more calm and peaceful, heighten your awareness, recognize your thoughts, help you sleep better, etc. 

By taking the time in the morning to meditate (even for a few minutes) you can start your day in a relaxed manner. Many underestimate the power of meditation and just how much of an impact it can make on one’s life. 

When you meditate and focus on simply recognizing your thoughts each time one comes about, (then returning to your breathing, or the sensations of your body, or the sounds that you’re hearing) without judgement but simple recognition of the thought, you’re starting to train yourself to catch your thoughts as they happen. 

This exercise then begins to spill into your day to day life, allowing you to become mindful of the thoughts you’re thinking in your mind and actively deciding whether or not they serve you and should be pursued or quickly shot down and put to rest. 

Meditate in the morning and you’ll soon notice how much more clear your mindset and approach is towards the rest of your day. 

Practicing Gratitude

When you take the time to think about what you’re grateful for (I recommend thinking about three different things each day, and writing them down) you shift your focus from your typical daily cares and concerns to intentionally contemplating things that have tremendous meaning and purpose in your life

When you’re grateful for a certain quality that you possess, maybe that you acquired from a parent, you start to feel the appreciation you have for your mother or father, as well as the pride and humility you have that you’ve taken it upon yourself to instill that quality into your life. 

When you’re grateful for something that you were born with that was simply provided to you the moment you took your first breath (if you’ve been fortunate to possess these), such as your ability to breathe, your legs or arms or eyes or heart, you start to realize how for decades it’s always performed its function without you ever having to do anything for it. What an incredible thing to think about and feel, right!?

As you practice this for a few minutes consistently (could even be repeated a few times each day), the effects begin to compound over time. 

You start to seek out more and more of what you’re grateful for throughout your day, and when you take the time to not just think about what you’re thankful for but actually feel it, your life begins to transform as well as for others around you. 

Visualization

Just like when you’re on vacation and you envision how life would be if you could do this forever, you can apply that same technique into your daily living.

By taking the time to visualize yourself meditating and practicing gratitude, and trying to recreate the scene as vividly as possible in your mind, you begin to produce the feelings that derive from actually performing those exercises.

Since the mind cannot tell the difference between a real experience and an extremely detailed one performed through visualization, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying these powerful effects on a daily basis. 

Now you may be thinking a handful of rebukes to the above, but just realize that despite your present circumstances, you have much more control over the way you think, feel, act, and react than you currently give yourself credit for. 

If you’re not happy with certain aspects of your life that you have decided cannot be improved (which is more of a you problem than the actual problem), you can at least learn to put up with them from a new light by cultivating these three habits into your lifestyle (after all, wouldn’t it be better to go through life this way?). 

You can harness the Vacation mindset and become similar to a thermostat, where your energy and presence instantly regulates the temperature of any place you may find yourself to your positive level of being, undoubtedly uplifting all others around you. 

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“Do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life”

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There are endless cliches about living your best life. 

Live every day like it’s your last. You only live once, and so on.

While you’ve most likely heard these hundreds of times, have you ever taken a moment to really contemplate the meaning behind them?

In one of the greatest books of all time (Meditations by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, written nearly 2,000 years ago) Marcus said:

Do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life.” 

Imagine what our lives would be like if we strived to keep this at the top of our mind day in and day out.

By putting in the effort to intentionally experience each thing we do in life as if it literally was the final moments of our existence, our entire world and perspective would change instantly. 

Life would take on a much deeper significance and meaning. 

This technique would bring a heightened sense of awareness to the present, enabling us to live in the moment without distractions about the past or the future. 

Our capacity for appreciating and seeing the beauty in our lives as well as the love and compassion we have for others would increase tenfold. 

Time is finite. 

We all know for certain that one day our time will come to depart from this world. 

Instead of drifting through life and allowing our impulses to dominate our state of mind, we can apply this concept and find the positive in nearly everything that we do (even the things that we don’t always enjoy doing). 

We can inject a sense of urgency into the here and now and unlock the treasure chest of gratitude that is within all of us, leading to an enriched life filled with passion for simply being alive. 

While it may not be realistic to live this way all the time, this method could be a valuable tool to enhance life during both good and bad times, when emotions arise of both positivity and negativity. 

Tony Robbins once said, “If you can learn to love, or at least appreciate, start to enjoy the things you used to get upset about, how much freedom would you have? How much more joy would you have?

As you journey onwards with this insight and new point of view in mind, if you find yourself struggling to enjoy many parts of your day to day, then take it as a sign to make a change in your life for the better. 

All we have is right now. Why not ensure we can make the best of it? 

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius

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Icing on the Cake Perspective

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I realize that many people struggle in their lives, dealing with a wide range of negative emotions and thoughts on a daily basis.

Regret for not taking advantage of past opportunities or making the wrong decision during a pivotal moment. 

Stress and anxiety when it comes to finances and being able to pay the bills and afford a way of living. 

Unhappiness with a career (or lack thereof) that doesn’t provide the chance for advancement.

But what if there was a better approach to all of this? What if there was a way to change your views on life so that your daily 50,000 or so thoughts (the majority being the same more or less as yesterdays and the day before) aren’t dominated by negativity but instead with feelings of gratitude and possibility? 

I call this the Icing on the Cake Perspective.

Right now you are alive (that’s your cake!). 

You got out of bed this morning (willingly or unwillingly is beside the point) and you are breathing, feeling, thinking, and experiencing life. 

Think for a moment about the thousands of people that die each and every day. From the ones who were sick, to those who got in an accident, to those that simply went to bed and never woke up. 

You are living. You have the precious opportunity to continue experiencing the most incredible thing that we as a species are capable of fathoming. Life. 

Your past is over and done with. The decisions you made back then are kaput, but the ones you decide to make right now are in your control.

Why not look at this present moment, and all the future potential moments that may come as an added bonus, as icing on the cake for your life?

Instead of taking the same old run down perspective that’s filled with negativity, it’s in your power to view everything from a refreshingly new vantage point. 

We all have problems to deal with, some increasingly more significant than others. But at least you have the opportunity to work on and get through them, to learn from them, to become a better and improved person because of them.

Just ask yourself: would you rather be dead?

Our time on this planet is transient. We all understand this superficially, but it’s critical to truly comprehend the magnitude of this statement. 

One day we will die. 

One day will be our very last day. 

That means that there will be a final time that we get to experience many of the things in life worth living for, and we most likely won’t even know it

If something is important to you that you don’t do often enough or at all, make the time to do it. 

If you’ve wanted to make a positive life change but have been too fearful to take the first step, make the time to do it. 

If your life is currently not on the path that you want it to be on, make the time to change it. 

As Paul Graham said, “Cultivate a habit of impatience about the things you most want to do.” 

Do not wait. 

Leave your past where it is. 

Take the present and every future moment you’re fortunate to be blessed with from an icing on the cake perspective.

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“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”

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Are you happy with your life right now?

Is life going in the direction that you anticipated or preferred?

Are you proud of yourself for the life that you’ve created?

If there is any hesitancy in response to these three questions, the changes you seek are within reach. 

It starts with using the right words and asking the right questions. 

Unfortunately, most of us ask the wrong questions in order to produce real and long lasting change. 

When you ask yourself, “How can I be happier?”, you typically respond broadly and leniently saying something like “if only I made/had more money, enjoyed my job, found love, etc”. While they may make you happier if you acquire them, these answers don’t bring much constructive value to the table to actually create the results. 

When you invert the question, simply asking the question in the opposite form, you’re forced to respond with the hard truth and the answers become much more straightforward and productive. 

Ask yourself: How can I ensure I stay miserable for the rest of my life?

Common replies could be: by continuing to fill my head with negative thoughts and emotions, comparing myself with others and being concerned with their opinion more than my own, not taking a risk to change my life for the better, etc. 

These responses are the actions that can be pursued (in reverse form) if you decide to put your foot down and work towards mastering your mind

Right now your mind is anarchy. It follows no laws and does whatever it wants through pre-conditioned impulses, and you are the one that gets stuck dealing with the consequences.

By flipping the script you can take advantage of this extraordinarily complex and powerful function and use it as a tool and as your servant versus blindly accepting it as the supreme ruler of your life.

You can map out principles and values that are important to you and start to create the discipline to adhere to them on a daily basis.

You can direct your mind to remain vigilant and bring it to your awareness if or when you begin to slip back into old routines that no longer follow your new code of living (so that you can prevent yourself from doing so). 

The only limits in our lives are the ones that we allow our minds to make for us.

Take control of the most advanced mechanism known to mankind and unleash the potential that is within you. Choose how you want to feel and think, what you want to say and do, and leverage your mind to open the floodgates to that way of living. 

Your life is passing you by. If you aren’t at peak happiness levels, progressing towards achieving your goals, and profoundly proud of the life you’ve built, the time is now to use the world’s richest soil, which can be found between your ears. 

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn

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Reframing Your Outlook On Setbacks

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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

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How Being Proud of Yourself Can Change Your Life

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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

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Trading Your Expectations for Appreciation

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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

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