Reframing Your Outlook On Setbacks

Setbacks are frustrating.

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

We all experience this, some certainly more than others. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s up for the challenge?

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

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

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

How Being Proud of Yourself Can Change Your Life

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

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

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

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

And there lies the problem.

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

Sound like something you do in your life?

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

It all starts with gratitude.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t postpone it any longer.

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

Trading Your Expectations for Appreciation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Freedom, Creativity and Growth Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

Freedom Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creativity

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

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

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

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

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

This sense of creativity is when we feel most alive. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creativity Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growth Theory

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

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

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

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

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

To wrap it up…

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

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

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

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Reinventing Your Identity Through Writing

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

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

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

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

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

Luckily there’s a way to produce real change. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write them down.

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

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

Write them down.

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

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

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

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

The method to the madness

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

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

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

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

This momentum and feeling of progress is invigorating. 

You slowly start to become what you think about. 

This is the secret to creating a change in identity.

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

Identity = changed

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

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

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Expressing Gratitude for What We’ve Been Given For Free

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When was the last time you contemplated and expressed gratitude for the things that you were given for free in this life?

Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease. 

Almost 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss.

Around 795 million people around the world are deprived of enough food to lead a healthy active life (1 in 9 people on earth). 

Your health, your ability to create new memories/recollect old ones and where you were born/raised are some of the many things that were given to you for free, without you ever asking for them. 

It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in the day to day of our lives, focusing on external goals and possessions that we seek to attain or pay for.  

Unfortunately when we do this, we typically leave no room for thought or consideration about what matters most. 

Instead of being actively grateful and truly appreciating what’s been given to us for free, it’s put on the back burner and taken for granted.

Can you imagine no longer being able to use your memory? 

It’s something that is constantly being used throughout your entire life and helps connect you to the world.

Without memory we wouldn’t be able to remember past experiences, and without past experiences we wouldn’t be able to have any references to who we are as a person. 

How scary of a world would it be to wake up one day and not know who you are? 

Stop what you’re doing for a while. 

Make the decision to pause for a moment and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

Give priority to focusing your attention towards what you’re grateful for, especially those things that you’ve been blessed with for free.

Once this is turned into a habit, your life will permanently change for the better. You’ll begin to strengthen your inner peace of mind and develop an unwavering sense of happiness that lasts forever. 

“Everything that’s really worthwhile in life comes to us free – our minds, our souls, our bodies, our hopes, our dreams, our intelligence, our love of family and friends and country. All of these priceless possessions are free.” – Earl Nightingale

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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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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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