Do Things You Hate, Love Yourself More

People would always tell me, do what you love.

It’s sound advice, and I get that they only want the best for me — which is being happy and fulfilled in life. But the truth is, doing things you love makes you weak.

For me, I’m obsessed with Yelp. Every day, I spend a good 30 minutes scrolling through the “hot and new” restaurants that I want to try out — similar to how people on Tinder swipe through a list of candidates, hoping to find the ‘one.’ Any restaurant I bookmark, I end up eating there within that week.

I just love the feeling of being the first to try out brand new restaurants and expand my taste buds (as many of you would too). But then this created a bigger dent in my wallet, a very uncomfortable feeling for someone struggling to make ends meet. And because I had one extra thing to worry about, that meant one less task I couldn’t bring myself to finish at work.

Takeaway: The things you love doing can bring you instant gratification and make life worth living for. But in the long run, it may end up hurting you, especially if you go overboard.

Eating fried foods. Smoking. Online shopping. Drinking booze. Playing computer or video games. Netflix binge-watching. Gambling. Sleeping in.

It’s not until long before we become weak in our ability to control our temptations. The thing is, when we get too comfortable with our lives, we no longer have that fiery drive to be better.

Which is why I honestly respect those who tell others to do things they hate. Because what truly makes us better, smarter, and stronger is simply building discipline — for both our bodies and our mind.

Exercise: You look good. You feel good. There’s less problems you deal with when you become old.

Eat vegetables: Those fibrous goodies you pushed to the side of your bowl, well, that’s the secret to slimming down and living longer.

Go to school: All you need is a college degree that tells companies that you’re worth paying for. Plus, you get the opportunity to meet very smart people, who you never know might become the next Steve Jobs.

Clean: Little would you know, cleaning is a huge stress reliever and can reduce depression. Not to mention, studies show that productivity shoots up when there’s fewer distractions in the room.

Take medicine: It’s not tasty, but the sooner you take it, the sooner you can taste. 😉

Wake up early: One of the habits successful people do, and something you should do too. Because when you wake up early, you train your brain to stay on top of things.

Write: Writing helps clears your mind like how yoga rejuvenates your body. It helps you focus better while talking, working, and thinking.

Argue: If possible, we would avoid any argument. But actually, arguing helps us make better comebacks and expand our logic for reasoning. More importantly, it brings out our real voice.

Work: How else are you going to pay the bills and live your dream if you don’t work?

Words of Advice

You might shut your mind to what I’m suggesting here, but let me tell you this. If you always avoid what you hate, you can never get better. And it’s not until long before everyone else transforms into someone you respect (more than yourself).

So do yourself a favor and do the things you’ve always been avoiding that is good for you.

In the beginning, you may feel stupid while learning a new skill or frustrated while sacrificing current pleasure for a future payoff, but when you make the choice to go through the pain early, you get to enjoy the benefit of delight later on.

~James Clear (written on Buffer)

Be persistent. Be patient. Push your limits.

Because once you’ve reached your greatest pain, it becomes your greatest strength. That’s when you’ll realize how much potential you have to be better, and that’s when you’ll look back at your old self and love yourself even more today.

The Real Key to Success


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We need to understand how we can present ourselves to the best advantage and to know what role the ego plays in our life. Your unknown is God, and the self is otherwise considered to be the known. But when you want to know what you have yourself, do you really know your self? Do you want to know your self? Have you worked to know your self? My self is very important to me. Yet this is the only thing which I ignore in my life. I want to be known as a doctor, as an attorney, or I want to be known as a business manager. Because I have never worked on my self. I have never introduced my self. I have never cared to represent my self. I do not identify with my self. I do not proportionately appropriate my self. I do not proportionately understand and distribute my self.  And still, I want to be very successful, myself.

I’ll tell you the mystery of life: life is not a mystery at all. It is a simple mastery of the Self. For example, if a problem comes to me, then I look at that problem with these guidelines: I have to work through this problem, I don’t have to confront it. I have to solve it. Then I ask myself – how will I solve it as the Siri Singh Sahib? How will I solve it as Yogi Bhajan? How will I solve it as Har­bhajan Singh? From which area has the problem come from? If it is a problem of Dharma, I don’t have to care whether I benefit or I lose. I have to solve that problem as the Siri Singh Sahib.

If it is a problem in the emo­tional or mental realms, I have to solve it as Yogi Bhajan. I don’t have to solve it with Dharma. Dharma is a path of the human. Those with emotional or mental problems are not yet human. A person does not know what the path is. I have to make a person human and then deal with the human. Therefore I have to deal with it as Yogi Bhajan.

If someone has a relationship with me as a father, then I am Harbhajan Singh. But, I am using the same ego to solve these different kinds of problems.

The other alternative is that a problem comes to you and you con­front it. The moment you confront the problem, either you win or you lose. That is called self-destruction. You don’t need to confront anything. It is not worthwhile, because every­thing moves. The problem will move. (You won’t move because your ego gets hung up.) But you can’t solve a problem by confronting the problem. Then it becomes a hassle and the neighbors will know about it and people will hear about it.

realkey1 (1)What is the secret of success? OPI OPM: Other People’s Intelligence and Other People’s Money. Your own intelligence cannot solve every problem. Your own intelligence is how you employ and successfully deploy the environment, the sur­roundings. That is OPI. Employ and deploy the surroundings. When you employ the surroundings, don’t involve yourself in it. Because it is not you in the problem, rather it is your interest in the problem. You should see that you get the high­est rate of interest, but it is not you.

Once I was asked if I wanted to have a certain inspector working under me or not. I questioned why I was being given an additional in­spector. I was told that nobody wanted to have him working under them. I agreed that I would take him, but I asked that inspector why the other officers did not want to have him working under them. He told me that other officers were threatened be­cause he was so sharp and efficient that they felt that their own jobs might be taken over by him. I decided to take him. I just outlined to him my area of responsi­bility. I told him that I would give him a specific area of my duty and he could take total charge of that area and do whatever he wanted to do with it. I can tell you that I never bothered with that work at all, and he came out perfect. Because he was very intelligent, very righteous, very honest and very sincere. You may get a good worker but it is rare to get a sincere worker.

Another example I want to share with you. I had a pesonal servant named Ramu. His job was just to serve me and personally attend to me. One day while I was eating with my friends he just came and picked up my plate. Then he brought me some other kind of food and served me. I understood his habits, but after a while I just called him to explain to these people why he made me eat something different? He said:

“Baba, you are not to eat this food because yesterday you worked very hard and this food is very delicious and you would definitely overeat. You are to go on duty in half an hour and you won’t be in a position to digest it, therefore, I am sorry, I couldn’t give you that food.” I said, “But, you never gave it to me, someone else gave it to me!” He added, “Another person is another person. I am responsible for what you eat.”

Now, as Americans you cannot tol­erate this kind of situation. Whereas, I have been trained that when we give somebody a duty or a responsi­bility and we find that person is loyal and honest, we totally do not inter­fere with that person. That is the way to use other people’s intelli­gence. But if you insist on playing it according to your ego, then you’ll be stabbed in the back. It doesn’t matter who you are. Because there is no security for that person. When he gives all of his intelligence to you, puts all of his loyalty at stake, is will­ing to devote himself to you and you still have the ego to limit him, that means that you can turn him upside down right in the middle of his work.

No human mind can tolerate this. The way you Westerners have been trained, you have learned to achieve something, but you can never maintain that thing. You can learn to maintain the same situation with a simple attitude. You can discuss with your ego and then begin to consider when this person is giving you trouble or when this staff is giv­ing you trouble. How can you use them trouble-free? That is what your ego is for. Whereas those who live by a hire and fire policy, they always get fired in the end.

realkey3The mind can go through a lot of changes. And the last and worst of all changes is when you deny your teacher the privilege to poke you. It is the worst of all because when your ego is inflated like an elephant, you need that needle in you. When you throw it away, you go astray and when an elephant goes astray it meets death

You should keep your ego to serve you. You should use your ego and direct it to just behave as if it is a servant. Ego is the biggest disease! But it also has the solution in it. In India, it is a common practice to take mercury (which is known to be a deadly poison if you take it raw into your system) and in the science of Ayurvedic medicine, to use it in al­most 80% to 90% of the cures. It is very effective, and very well recog­nized. In this way, poison becomes the cure. In the same way, you can go out and burn your skin in the sun and you can have skin cancer, or you can tan yourself and look healthy. How you use your ego is a technol­ogy. When you start living in your ego, then you will not grow.

I was reading the life of a person who started his professional life with one thousand dollars. He was a sur­geon and today he is a person worth forty million dollars. He was asked how he became so successful, and he said that he believed in benefit sharing. He would offer his employ­ees the opportunity to work out a situation for him and whatever in­come that would bring, he would offer to give them one-third of it. He never signed any contract because his people knew his word was a con­tract. The result was that he gave one-third but they gave it to him totally. He earned 66% more!

How rich you are has to be considered from the expense point of view. Richness is not considered from the income point of view. If your monthly expense is a thousand dollars but my expense is fifteen thousand dollars, you are fourteen thousand dollars richer than me. An economic fool is a person who measures his richness from income. An economic wise man, or economic wizard is one who measures his rich­ness from expenses. That is what rich people do. They go on a fixed income expense and then they kill them­selves. They become victims of heart attacks and no doctor can cure them. Because what should they do, if they have to maintain a standard of thirty thousand per month?

realkey4I know of one organization where for the last nine years it has made three hundred to four hundred mil­lion dollars in a year. Their bud­get was fixed at seven hundred mil­lion a year. Then for the last two years, they were making only two hundred million a year. So there is a budget difference of five hundred million a year and they do not know what to do. They are selling their equipment, they are selling their land, selling this, selling that and they’re in bad shape. One of their employees who is my student called me and asked me how to man­age himself. I told him that it is very simple. If I make ten cents, I spend one. If I make one dollar, I spend ten cents. When I have ten dollars in my pocket, I only know that I have a dollar. I consider the other nine dol­lars as OPM, Other People’s Money. Out of every ten dollars, one dollar is mine, and nine dollars are to main­tain what is mine. For every one dol­lar you require nine dollar to main­tain the grace of one dollar. Do you know this law of economic expansion?

If you represent yourself with the image that you are ten dollars rich, somebody will ask to use it for one hour, and you’ll give it, and then you’ll stand at a bus stand and the driver will not let you on because you don’t have a penny. It’s called “showing off.”

In India, in economics we call it “balloon-talk”. Balloon talk is a con­versation where you present your account multiplied or exact. Even suppose you speak the truth, that you earn fifty thousand dollars a year. The fact is that you don’t make fifty thousand dollar a year, because in America, if you make one hundred thousand in California, you earn ex­actly thirty-nine thousand. Exactly.

realkey5Now you can wangle it, you can multiply it, you can play around, but when you’re dead, your estate will be found in the estate shop on Beverly Blvd. Why does that happen? Because the children are asked to pay the Estate Tax, and they don’t have it. So, they sell the estate and get rid of it. Or, they make a founda­tion. Paul Getty’s family cannot take a statue from his estate. You can in­vest in your self, or you can invest in your name. Paul Getty would have been very fine, if he had in­vested and made his own body a museum where at least he would have gone running on the beach once a week.

Just decide. Sit down and ask your self what you want to be. Do you want to be a healer? If you want to be a healer, let God heal through you. If you want to be a dealer, then go on, pushing this, pushing that, trying this button, trying that button. Every profession has buttons.

Your presentation, your art of presentation, your secret of presen­tation, lies in one fact: you must not confront the energy, you must circu­late the energy. What is God? Every­thing is circulated. Earth revolves. It revolves on its axis. The whole galaxy, the other stars, the sun moves around other suns. It’s far out and it’s nothing but movement! It keeps going! And your success is, keep going! Don’t stop anywhere, for any reason. Don’t say good-bye. The only good thing is to don’t say “good­bye.” Just say “bye.” Perhaps some­day you’ll need that person. Because what will keep the energy going? It is the movement of your thought form, and the movement of your mind and thought and the move­ment of your solving the problems, and your movement penetrating through the problem. How can you do it? If you know that you HAVE to do it.

Anything and everything, logical­ly, psychologically, socially, commo­tionally, emotionally, personally, collectively, individually, is nothing but you completing the circuit.

realkey6What is required to be learned by you is the Self. Because the Self is the solution of your environment. It’s the hub. It is the axle. It is everything. The fact is that you have to understand that you can’t fall in love with a girl, you can’t fall for anything, before knowing yourself, and knowing what you are fall­ing for! If you do not know how to swim, yourself, and you jump in eighteen feet of water, you will drown. But if you get into four feet of water and you are two feet above the water, you can make it. To become commotional, emo­tional, get into turmoil, and not care for things, not to listen to advice, and not to wait for truth, though it is bitter and it hurts, is to cause a problem. Multiple prob­lems are like multiple sclerosis. There’s no solution for it.

The law of diminishing return is that you can handle X amount of problems. There’s a relationship between play and work. Work and play have a relationship which is propor­tionate. For X amount of work, you need X amount of play. For X amount of play, you need X amount of work. If they are out of balance, then you are out of balance and you’ll never be a successful person.

Please remember that without Self consciousness you cannot properly present yourself. And without Self knowledge you cannot have Self consciousness.

Copyright The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan 

What You Truly Believe About Yourself Determines Who You Become

What You Truly Believe About Yourself Determines Who You Become

“As a man , so he is. As he continues to think, so he remains.” -James Allen

Do you believe you’ll soon become 100% financially independent?

Do you believe you’ll never get divorced?

Are you positive you’ll ever travel the world?

What you believe determines what you become. You see what you look for; you attract what you are.

Most people don’t realize their beliefs determine the rest of their life; what you believe today has real effects on tomorrow. Your income, success, health, and who you ultimately become are based entirely on what you believe will happen.

As Michael Jordan once said:

“You have to expect things of yourself before you cando them.”

If you believe you can can, odds are you probably will.

But the opposite is also true — if you know you can’t, you’re probably right.

Bruce Lee put it this way: “One will never get any more than he thinks he can get.” What you truly, deeply believe is true about yourself and your future is most likely what will happen.

What do you believe?

The problem is, most people don’t have powerful self-belief in themselves. Most people think this is about as good as it gets. For the most part, most people believe the best they can be is merely “good.”

Why? Because it’s easier to stay in mediocrity than undertake the difficult process of upgrading your belief system. It’s easier to relax in “good” instead of busting your ass towards greatness.

If you want to have an incredible, successful life, you need to begin believing success is the only possible option.

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone

It’s Easier to Stay Mediocre Than Evolve

“It is easier to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit.” -Seth Godin

It’s not that most people wake up every day and declare, “Today is going to suck!

Most people have tried to evolve in some way. The problem is, once they fail, they quickly give up and settle into their mediocrity. They tried improving, it didn’t go as planned, so they gave up.

It’s easier to stay mediocre than face the pain of attempting and failing.

Said motivational speaker Les Brown:

“Most people knock on the door of their dreams once, then run away before anyone has a chance to the open the door. But if you keep knocking, persistently and endlessly, eventually the door will open.”

It’s easier to quit. It’s what most people do.

But here’s a secret most people stewing in mediocrity don’t realize:

It’s actually harder to live in mediocrity than work towards greatness.

Waking up every day knowing today is going to be average-at-best is exhausting. It’s depressing. It sucks all your energy out before you even get out the door.

It might seem easier to simply stay where you are; it’s not great, but why rock the boat, right?

Wrong. Remaining in mediocrity is more exhausting than working towards success. It takes energy either way — why not get what you want in the process?

“If you keep on living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have.” -Jim Rohn

Warren Wong on Unsplash

If You Want to Upgrade Your Life, Upgrade Your Mindset First

“If you want to have more success, you need to become more.” -Jim Rohn

If you want to upgrade every area of your life — your income, your health, your relationships, your potential — you must become more.

How do you become more?

By upgrading your mindset first.

Prolific author Napoleon Hill once wrote:

Success comes to those who are success-conscious.”

If you have a mindset that is always looking for success and improvement, you’ll find it.

I blogged for 4 years, and after 4 years I had accomplished…nothing. I had no followers, no views, and no income. Frankly, I eventually began believing I couldn’t succeed. I didn’t think my writing was good enough for the big leagues…and it wasn’t.

But last year, I finally got serious. I believed I was going to be one of the best writers on the Internet. As a result, I invested heavily in myself. My confidence grew. I built momentum, reinforcing my belief. After years of failed pitches, suddenly CNBC and Business Insider came to me. I’ve gained 20,000+ new email subscribers. I just signed a book deal!

“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” -Hal Elrod

Strong belief attracts success.

But no belief guarantees failure.

Richard Wiseman, a former street magician turned researcher and author, conducted a study with two groups — one group of people who thought of themselves as lucky, the other self-proclaimed they were “unlucky.”

For one study, Wiseman placed a $20 dollar bill on the street. The group that believed they were lucky spotted the bill almost every time; the “unlucky” group almost always ignored it and walked right past!

Success, in all its forms, isn’t something you seize so much as it is something that is attracted to you. The most effective, productive method of becoming a more successful person is believing you already are one.

Wrote best-selling motivational author Dr. David Schwartz:

“Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figure out ways and means how to.”

Most people don’t truly believe they can achieve greatness. They don’t believe they can actually live an extraordinary life.

As a result, this becomes true; they aren’t successful. They don’t attract opportunities. In fact, they actively miss them — even if it’s right at their feet!

But if you believe — truly believe — in your ability to succeed, you will. Your mind will figure out the means how.

“Whatever the conscious, reasoning mind of man believes’ the subconscious mind will accept and act upon.”

-Joseph Murphy, The Power of the Subconscious Mind

If You Always Let Others Think For You, You’ll Never Become Who You Want to Be

“Do not let others do your thinking for you.” -Joseph Murphy

The fact is, it’s easier to let others think for you.

It’s so convenient. If others are calling the shots, you bear none of the responsibility! If you try and fail, it’s not your fault — it’s theirs.

Grammy-award winning artist Kendrick Lamar once wrote, “I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning.” This is an uncommon mindset, one always found with highly successful people, and almost never found with unsuccessful individuals.

Most people aren’t willing to take full responsibility of their life; they might want the credit for the successes, but hate having to own up to the failures.

The result? Most people let others do their thinking for them.

This may save you from experiencing unpleasant responsibilities — admitting you haven’t made any progress after all this time while you could have, but didn’t — but you suffer far more in the long run.

When you are not your true self, that part of you begins acting out. As best-selling author David Kadavy wrote:

“When our true self doesn’t get a chance to follow its desires, it acts out in strange ways.”

The more you let others do your thinking for you, the farther you drift away from what you want.

Don’t let others do your thinking for you. It’s easier, more convenient, and hassle-free, but every day your future grows more boring and mediocre.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

-Steve Jobs

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Acting “As If” Becomes Acting As Is

“What you think, feel, and do is what you see, hear, and attract.” -James Altucher

There are powerful mental, physiological, and emotional shifts that happen when you begin believing you’re the best.

The only way you become a leading man is by treating yourself like a leading man and working your ass off,” wrote Arnold Schwarzenegger is his autobiography.

Author Darren Hardy put it this way: “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon… must inevitably come to pass!

Tony Robbins once made the point that you get what you tolerate. If you tolerate mediocre, that’s exactly what you’ll get. If you act as if mediocrity is OK, then you’ll begin molding your beliefs to fit this reality.

But the opposite is true, too. If you act like the best, you’ll begin making choices and behaving in ways to make that a reality.

  • Why do you keep tolerating mediocrity?
  • Why do you keep believing you’re second-class?
  • When are you going to finally get serious?

The world’s top performers don’t tolerate anything below extraordinary. They are tireless in their quest for progression, learning, focusing, and growth. They become addicted to becoming better every day.

In the words of Darren Hardy:

“The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.”

If you begin acting like the best, that’s what you’ll become.

Every day, your conscious mind takes orders from your belief system. Every choice you make, every word you say is based on these beliefs.

In his book, The Power of the Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy explained, “As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment.” What this means is simple: what you tell yourself is what you become.

If you act “as if” you are what you want to be — a professional athlete, a CEO of a $10M startup, a loving husband and father — you’ll eventually begin acting as these individuals actually act.

But if you continue to act in the ways you always have, you’ll never have anything more than what you already have.

“If you want to get to the next level of whatever you’re doing, you must think and act in a wildly different way than you previously have been.” -Grant Cardone

In Conclusion

“You cannot see what you don’t look for, and you cannot look for what you don’t believe in.” -Darren Hardy

If you have more than 2 close friends, you’re part of the minority.

Over half of Americans are on track to retire with less than $10,000.

There are actually more Americans that are obese than simply overweight!

Why are so many people living in mediocrity? Why don’t people have the lives they want?

A fundamental reason is because they simply don’t believe their ideal life is even possible.

You cannot gain what you don’t look for. Whatever you believe about yourself becomes true. Your belief system is incredibly powerful — it determines how successful (or unsuccessful) you’ll ultimately become.

Your thoughts are the reason you are where you are right now. If you’re not where you want to be, ask yourself: how are my thoughts limiting me? What beliefs are holding me back?

If you want more, then start with upgrading your mindset. Because what you believe about yourself determines who you become.

11 Things That Will Happen When You’re Ready To Give Up A Bad Habit

https://unsplash.com/photos/n7h67IvrAmw

There are two types of passion: obsessive and harmonious.

  • Obsessive passion happens when an individual feels controlled or pressured to do something. When obsessively passionate, your self-image is tied to the activity. This activity is done in unhealthy ways and creates conflict in the other areas of your life.
  • Harmonious passion is an activity that you do not feel pressured to do, except pressure you may autonomously place on yourself. Your self-image is not tied to the activity. This activity is done in a healthy way that is “harmonious” and beneficial to all of the other areas of your life.

Obsessive passion generally leads to addiction, whereas harmonious passion does not.

If there’s something in your life that you do compulsively, it’s probably an obsessive and unhealthy passion, or even a complete addiction.

If you have to do this behavior secretively, then it’s an unhealthy passion or addiction.

But you’ve reached a breaking point. You let life get out of control so you could finally regain control.

You’re ready now to get back to alignment. To get back to purpose and productivity and the long-term vision.

How do you know you’re finally ready?

Here’s how:

You’ll Begin Seeking Out Information Showing The Negative Consequences Of Your Behavior

“What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” — Warren Buffett

Most people seek to confirm their own bias. Rather than getting the facts or facing the truth, people prefer to justify their own mediocrity.

The most successful people, on the other hard, act as scientists toward life. They want the truth. They want data. Rather than seeking to confirm their bias, they are continually seeking to disrupt and disconfirm their bias.

You’ll know you are ready to make a change in your life when you stop seeking information and relationships that justify your negative behavior.

When you start studying (with an open mind and heart) the negative consequences of your behavior, you’re getting on the right track.

When you start reflecting on the negative impact your behavior is having on the other areas of your life, including the lives of your loved ones, you’re on the right track.

When you begin to sincerely think about what you’re truly missing out on — as a person, you’re on the right track. Because the truth is, any negative habit or addiction is short-term thinking. It’s dopamine-dependent. And in such a state, you’re willing to throw-away some of the most important things in your life. You’re not thinking straight.

You’ll Admit To Key People That You Have A Problem

“You’re as sick as your secrets.” — Joe Polish

The first of 12 Alcoholic’s Anonymous steps is:

  • We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

If you cannot admit you have a problem, you’re not ready to make the change. If you still don’t believe you have a problem, then the negative consequences of your behavior haven’t become real enough for you. If you continue going against your gut, eventually things will become so chaotic — whether in your physical health, emotional well-being, family, or work — that you’ll be forced to address the problem.

Don’t let it get to that point. Put your ego aside and own up to where you’re at. Instead of judgement, you’ll generally get compassion and a desire to help.

You need to face the truth, and begin telling certain people in your life about your problem. Specifically, you need to tell your family. If you’re married, you need to tell your spouse.

You then need to get help. The opposite of addiction is connection. Overcoming a bad habit or addiction through willpower is without question, the worst possible approach. As addiction expert, Arnold M. Washton, Ph.D. said, “Many people think that what the addict needs is willpower, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

Willpower is trying to fight a silent battle. It’s trying to be perfect before you tell people you have a problem. It’s focused on suppression rather than actually moving forward. It’s fixated on the one challenge and misses the holistic picture.

You’ll Begin Thinking Much Longer-Term About Your Choices

In the book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Dan Buettner details the lifestyle habits of people who have lived to over 100 years old.

There are many important themes in the lives of these people. A few among them are:

  • Eat wholesome and real foods — especially plants and nuts. Plant-based eating with moderate meat is solid. Said Tony Robbins, “Nothing tastes as good as looking good feels.”
  • Don’t consume stimulants regularly — caffeine for example, is the most widely used psychoactive drug on the planet, and is indeed addictive. People who live the longest focus on long-term sustainability rather than dependance and short-term stimulation.
  • Exercise daily — but not too much. Many of the people interviewed in the book walk around 5–8 miles per day. This is all the cardiovascular exercise you need to remain healthy, especially if you’re getting healthy sleep and eating wholesome foods. Intensive weight-lifting a 1–2 times per week has also been shown to help longevity.
  • Family first According to Buettner, this is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do to change your lifestyle for the better: Surround yourself with family members and close friends who share your values.
  • Have some form of religion or spiritual practice — to be a part of community and have higher ideals.
  • Never retire — Living a long life requires a strong sense of purpose, something the natives of Okinawa, Japan (Okinawans) call “ikigai.” Having a powerful reason to live can be a strong antidote to early death. Hence, Buettner says the year people retire is one of the most dangerous years of their lives. The word “retirement” isn’t even a word in the Okinawan language. 85-year-old Warren Buffett says he tap dances to work every day and plans never to retire — investing is his ikigai.

You’ll Feel Optimism Again For Your Big Picture Dreams And Goals

“What I like most about change is that it’s a synonym for “hope”. If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, “I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it.” — Linda Ellerbee

When you know you’re ready to make a powerful shift, the floodgates will open. You’ll feel optimism and power again about your big picture dreams and goals.

While in your addictive and negative pattern, your thinking became more narrow. You fixated on the short-term with more regularity than you focused on your WHY, your values, and your true goals.

In an obsessive state, you begin to justify away what you truly want from life. Yet, in a moment of clarity — of seeing life without your unhealthy passion — you feel immense hope and joy again for the life you seek to create.

You’ll Immediately Begin Living To A Much Higher Level

When you finally make a big change that’s been gnawing at you for a long-time, you immediately feel empowered in all other areas of your life.

Those other areas have been crippled due to your over-focus and obsession with your addictive behavior.

When you can’t stop thinking about your obsessive passion, that subverts your mind from the other core areas of your life. It keeps you from being present with your loved ones. It stops you from really being healthy — mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It has you seeking short-term wins at the expense of long-term, sincere, and sustainable growth.

Yet, once you free your mind of that crater-of-the-mind, you’ll stunned by how much mental and emotional capacity you actually have. It’s quite stunning really, how paralyzed you allowed yourself to be for that one obsessive and bad habit.

Immediately, your eating starts to line up. Your “willpower” seems to shoot through the roof. Although this is simply a reflection of being aligned and congruent.

You’re more caring and interested in your relationships.

The people around you seem more empowered as well. And indeed they are. Because your energy levels have spiked dramatically — and thus are not bogging down the invisible energetic environment around you.

You’ll Create An Environment That Facilitates Your Commitment

“The amount and type of food we eat is usually less a function of feeling full and more a matter of what’s around us. We overeat because of circumstances — friends, family, packages, plates, names, numbers, labels, lights, colors, candles, shapes, smells, distractions, cupboards, and containers.” — Dan Buettner

When you’re ready to change, and have begun making powerful steps, you’ll immediately begin creating a more harmonious environment.

  • You’ll reach out to friends and tell them about your struggles and seek support.
  • You’ll complete projects you’ve been procrastinating.
  • You’ll cancel commitments you should have never had in the first place.
  • You’ll eat healthy foods.
  • You’ll listen to more uplifting and powerful music.
  • You’ll clean your house.

You’ll begin living more holistically in general. You can’t separate yourself from your environment. And no that you’ve heightened your standards, you’re anxious and excited about upgrading all areas of your life. You’re desirous to be a steward of what you have. And to cultivate the garden of your life.

It’s powerful.

It’s available to you, right now. Amazing energy and clarity. But you have to get yourself out of the fog of your short-term dopamine you’ve gotta obsessively conflicted about.

You’ll Track Your Progress

In THE 4-HOUR BODY, Tim Ferriss provides a very compelling and effective method for eating better: Take a picture of everything — EVERYTHING — you put in your mouth.

The very act of having to pull out your phone is enough time to really think to yourself, “Do I really want to eat this?”

Taking the idea one step further, when you have accountability, you’ll want to share your progress (or pictures!) with an important person your tracking metrics.

When you really care about progress, you start tracking and measuring how you’re doing. You have accountability. This is the essence of “Deliberate Practice.” It means you take seriously your metrics. You take seriously how well you’re sleeping. How well you’re eating.

You take everything into account, and try to maximize your performance.

You’ll know you’re serious about growing in a positive direction when you begin tracking your progress again. That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.

When you give up your obsessive passion, and get harmonious again, you’ll accept and even be grateful for where you actually are. Even if you have a really long ways to go. You’ll embrace where you are and you’ll embrace the reality of what you must do to get there. You’ll get serious about working again, instead of trying to cut corners and seek short-term boosts. You’re back to the long-game.

You’ll Get Organized

It can be quite easy letting life get disorganized when caught up in an obsessive or addictive state.

Small things lead to big things.

Everything physical is energy — and has an impact on your psychology. In a disorganized environment, with disorganized and scattered communication — life starts getting a little out of control.

It’s impossible to move forward swiftly without being organized.

But now that you have the renewed energy of mind and body, you are capable to get things organized. And when things become organized, clarity and productivity are automatic.

You’ll Begin Crushing It At The “Fundamentals” Again

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” — Jim Rohn

The fundamentals are what helped you succeed in the first place. Then they stopped becoming as powerful to you. Sure, you may have been going through the motions. But they lacked powerful and sincerity. You were to fixated on that one thing that was pulling your attention away.

Yet, now that you’ve stepped out of the fog, the simple basics are back in full sway. Their electric power is back in your skin. You can feel it. It’s so natural and simple. And you knew all along, yet you would not know.

You’ll Enjoy The Small Moments And Be Far More Present

“Every moment in our lives is a miracle we should enjoy instead of ignoring.” — Yoko Ono

When obsessed or incongruent due to a pressing bad habit, it’s very difficult to be present to the moment. Sure, you’re there every once and a while. But it can fade fast.

Yet, now, now that you’re feeling much more aligned. Now that you’re getting your confidence back. Now that you are no longer sacrificing what truly matters — you can embrace THIS moment. You create moments. You make small things meaningful.

You appreciate the little things in those you love. And you tell them so. You’re far more sincere and kind and thoughtful. Because you have the mental and emotional bandwidth to think beyond your fixation and regret.

You’ll Begin Making Huge Progress In Your Life Again

Finally, now that you’re aligned, you can get more done in a day than what you were getting done in a week or month.

Your activity is focused. Your direction is much clearer. There’s no regret.

You’re aligned and moving. And flow is back in your life. Therefore, progress — extreme progress — becomes your new normal… all over again. And thus, big progress is your future. Big leaps. Deep connections.

Enjoy.

The Toxic Ego That Will Ruin Your Life

The artist Marina Abramović has said that the moment we begin to believe in our own greatness, that we kill our ability to be truly creative. What she is talking about is ego — the way that self-absorption ruins the very thing it celebrates.

So how do we keep this toxic ego and selfishness at bay? How do we prevent ego from “sucking us down like the law of gravity?” The primary answer is simple: awareness. But after that, it’s a matter of hard work.

In the course of researching Ego is the Enemy I was exposed to many strategies for combatting our arrogant and selfish impulses. Here are 25 proven exercises from successful men and women throughout history that will help you stay sober, clear-headed, creative and humble. They work if you work them.

1. Adopt the beginner’s mindset. “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows,” Epictetus says. When we let ego tell us that we have arrived and figured it all out, it prevents us from learning. Pick up a bookon a subject you know next to nothing about. Walk through a library or a bookstore — remind yourself how much you don’t know.

2. Focus on the effort — not the outcome. With any creative endeavour at some point what we made leaves our hands. We can’t let what happens after that point have any sway over us. We need to remember famous coach John Wooden’s advice: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Doing your best is what matters. Focus on that. External rewards are just extra.

3. Choose purpose over passion. Passion runs hot and burns out, while people with purpose — think of it as passion combined with reason — are more dedicated and have control over their direction. Christopher McCandless was passionate when he went “into the wild” but it didn’t work well, right? The inventor of the Segway was passionate. Better to have clear-headed purpose.

4. Shun the comfort of talking and face the work. “Void,” Marlon Brando once said, “is terrifying to most people.” We talk endlessly on social media getting validation and attention with fake internet points avoiding the uncertainty of doing the difficult and frightening work required of any creative endeavour. As creatives we need to shut up and get to work. To face the void — despite the pain of doing so.

5. Kill your pride before you lose your head. “Whom the gods wish to destroy,” Cyril Connolly wrote, “they first call promising.” You cannot let early pride lead you astray. You must remind yourself every day how much work is left to be done, not how much you have done. You must remember that humility is the antidote to pride.

6. Stop telling yourself a story — there is no grand narrative. When you achieve any sort of success you might think that success in the future is just the natural and expected next part of the story. This is a straightforward path to failure — by getting too cocky and overconfident. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, reminds himself that there was “no aha moment” for his billion-dollar behemoth, no matter what he might read in his own press clippings. Focus on the present moment, not the story.

7. Learn to manage (yourself and others). John DeLorean was a brilliant engineer but a poor manager (of people and himself). One executive described his management style as “chasing colored balloons” — he was constantly distracted and abandoning one project for another. It’s just not enough to be smart or right or a genius. It’s gratifying to be the micromanaging egotistical boss at the center of everything — but that’s not how organizations grow and succeed. That’s not how you can grow as a person either.

8. Know what matters to you and ruthlessly say no to everything else.Pursue what the philosopher Seneca refers to as euthymia — the tranquility of knowing what you are after and not being distracted by others. We accomplish this by having an honest conversation with ourselves and understanding our priorities. And rejecting all the rest. Learning how to say no. First, by saying no to ego which wants it all.

9. Forget credit and recognition. Before Bill Belichick became the four-time Super Bowl–winning head coach of the New England Patriots, he made his way up the ranks of the NFL by doing grunt work and making his superiors look good without getting any credit. When we are starting out in our pursuits we need to make an effort to trade short-term gratification for a long-term payoff. Submit under people who are already successful and learn and absorb everything you can. Forget credit.

10. Connect with nature and the universe at large. Going into nature is a powerful feeling and we need to tap into it as often as possible. Nothing draws us away from it more than material success. Go out there and reconnect with the world. Realize how small you are in relation to everything else. It’s what the French philosopher Pierre Hadot has referred to as the “oceanic feeling.” There is no ego standing beneath the giant redwoods or on the edge of a cliff or next to the crashing waves of the ocean.

11. Choose alive time over dead time. According to author Robert Greene, there are two types of time in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second. During failure, ego picks dead time. It fights back: I don’t want this. I want ______. I want it my way. It indulges in being angry, aggrieved, heartbroken. Don’t let it — choose alive time instead.

12. Get out of your own head. Writer Anne Lamott knows the dangers of the soundtrack we can play in our heads: “The endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one’s specialness, of how much more open and gifted and brilliant and knowing and misunderstood and humble one is.” That’s what you could be hearing right now. Cut through that haze with courage and live with the tangible and real, no matter how uncomfortable.

13. Let go of control. The poisonous need to control everything and micromanage is usually revealed with success. Ego starts saying: it all must be done my way — even little things, even inconsequential things. The solution is straightforward. A smart man or woman must regularly remind themselves of the limits of their power and reach. It’s simple, but not easy.

14. Place the mission and purpose above you. During World War II, General George Marshall, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan, was practically offered the command of the troops on D-Day. Yet he told President Roosevelt: “The decision is yours, Mr. President; my wishes have nothing to do with the matter.” It came to be that Eisenhower led the invasion and performed with excellence. Marshall put the mission and purpose above himself — an act of selflessness we need to remind ourselves of.

15. When you find yourself in a hole — stop digging. “Act with fortitude and honor,” Alexander Hamilton wrote to a distraught friend in serious trouble of the man’s own making. “If you cannot reasonably hope for a favorable extrication, do not plunge deeper. Have the courage to make a full stop.” Our ego screams and rattles when it is wounded. We will then do anything to get out of trouble. Stop. Don’t make things worse. Don’t dig yourself further. Make a plan.

16. Don’t be deceived by recognition, money and success — stay sober.Success, money and power can intoxicate. What is required in those moments is sobriety and a refusal to indulge. One look at Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful women on the planet is revealing. She is plain and modest — one writer said that unpretentiousness is Merkel’s main weapon — unlike most world leaders intoxicated with position. Leave self-absorption and obsessing over one’s image for the egotists.

17. Leave your entitlement at the door. Right before he destroyed his own billion-dollar company, Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies, overrode the objections of one of his employees and bragged, “I could put the Ty heart on manure and they’d buy it!” You can see how this manifestation of ego can lead you to success — and how it can lead to downright failure.

18. Choose love. Martin Luther King understood that hate is like an “eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life.” Hatred is when ego turns a minor insult into a massive sore and it lashes out. But pause and ask: has hatred and lashing out ever helped anyone with anything? Don’t let it eat at you — choose love. Yes, love. See how much better you feel.

19. Pursue mastery in your chosen craft. When you are pursuing a craft you realize that the better you get, the humbler you are. Because you understand there’s always something you can learn and you are inherently humbled by this fascinating craft or career you’re after. It is hard to get a big head or become egotistical when you’ve decided on that path.

20. Keep an inner scorecard. Just because you won doesn’t mean you deservedto. We need to forget other people’s validation and external markers of success. Warren Buffett has advised keeping an inner scorecard versus the external one. Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of — that’s the metric to measure yourself against.

21. Paranoia creates things to be paranoid about. “He who indulges empty fears earns himself real fears,” wrote Seneca, who as a political adviser witnessed destructive paranoia at the highest levels. If you let ego think that everyone is out to get you you will seem weak…and then people will really try to take advantage of you. Be strong, confident and forgiving.

22. Always stay a student. Put yourself in rooms where you’re the least knowledgeable person. Observe and learn. That uncomfortable feeling, that defensiveness that you feel when your most deeply held assumptions are challenged? Do it deliberately. Let it humble you. Remember how the physicist John Wheeler put it, “As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”

23. No one can degrade you — they degrade themselves. Ego is sensitive about slights, insults and not getting their due. This is a waste of time. After Frederick Douglass was asked to ride in a baggage car because of his race, someone rushed to apologize for this mistreatment. Frederick’s reply? “They cannot degrade Frederick Douglass. The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are inflicting it upon me.”

24. Stop playing the image game — focus on a higher purpose. One of the best strategists of the last century, John Boyd, would ask the promising young acolytes under him: “To be or to do? Which way will you go?” That is, will you choose to fall in love with the image of how success looks like or will you focus on a higher purpose? Will you pick obsessing over your title, number of fans, size of paycheck or on real, tangible accomplishment? You know which way ego wants to go.

25. Focus on the effort — not the results. This is so important it is appearing twice. If you can accept that you control only the effort that goes in and not the results which come out, you will be mastering your ego. All work leaves our hands at some point. Ego wants to control everything — but it cannot control other people or their reactions. Focus on your end of the equation, leave them to theirs. Remember Goethe’s line: “What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass should not bother him.”

The Meaning of Life

Photo by Erii Gutierrez on Unsplash

The Meaning of Life

A tiny answer to a massive question.


God could very well exist. However, the burden of proof is on the believers to produce and provide evidence of her presence. I am not one of those believers. It doesn’t define my life; I don’t think about religion much. I do, however, think about something religion thinks about quite often, which is What It All Means. I found it, curiously, in the slightly-above-average mainstream American comedy City Slickers. Really.

“You’ve got to find that one thing,” says cowboy Curly, played by Jack Palance — who was nominated for a fucking Oscar for that performance! — before riding off into the actual sunset. Billy Crystal asks, “What’s the one thing?”


So, what is the one thing? What is the meaning of life? I turn back to various cultural institutions and systems of rule, including religion: capitalism, feudalism, socialism, democracy, military, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, sports, communism, imperialism, on and on … We can debate the merits and validity of each of these until we’re blue in the face — but I keep coming back to the one overlapping idea that crops up in everything: Service.

Bob Dylan once sang, “Gotta serve somebody.” And although he was specifically talking about god (or the devil), there are plenty of other definitions for service, largely qualified by exactly whom you are serving. In capitalism, it’s the market. In feudalism, it’s the lord. In democracy, it’s the electorate. In the military, it’s your country. In religion, it’s god. In sports, it’s your team. But, distilled to its essence, life — and the ways in which we attempt to organize it — is largely about serving other people. Where we tend to disagree — liberals, conservatives, Buddhists, Christians, imperialists, liberators — is on the “how.” And the “how” is very important.


Remember that one thing? That’s the how. It’s your own tiny way of impacting the world through the service of others, your own behaviors which ripple across society. If I could lay a few ground rules down for how to serve, I would propose the following:

  1. When possible, err on the side of kindness.
  2. When possible, err on the side of empathy.
  3. When possible, err on the side of justice.
  4. When possible, err on the side of flexibility.

A society that does not openly encourage kindness, empathy, justice and flexibility is a rigid, intolerant one — one that forces servitude upon its people in the name of greater good, while creating miserable lives for most with the exceptions of a select, privileged few. There is a net-increase in suffering.

A person who does not openly embody kindness, empathy, justice or flexibility is a tyrant — an authoritarian who believes others should exist only in service of this select, privileged few or face punitive measures. There is, again, a net-increase in suffering. No matter where you live, you’re probably thinking of someone in particular right now.

You can easily ask yourself if a society, culture, institution, humanity itself or the individuals it’s comprised of serve properly by answering this simple question: Do the people (and the environment!) they touch suffer less today than they did before?


And, couched within that question, is the meaning of life. To ease the burden of suffering of others. That is humanity’s greatest challenge. We address this challenge through service. It’s how we connect, aid, empathize, love, raise a family, save lives, enrich lives, cure disease, cultivate, create and fight. We do it to ease the burden of suffering. To lessen it. To divide it. To, hopefully, vanquish it. All service, no matter the name nor the god it is performed in the name of, must be done with this north star in mind. The meaning of life is to serve others with the purpose of easing the burden of suffering. That’s it. That’s the one thing. Your one thing, well, that’s still something you gotta figure out for yourself.


I — and perhaps you, too — often wrestle with the question of what constitutes “enough?” Namely, enough as it pertains to “how much should I do to ease the suffering of others?” The obvious answer is “as much as you possibly can,” but then the follow-up question is, “how much is that?”

After mulling over, I think we can frame the answer thusly: For as long as there is suffering in the world — and there will always be suffering somewhere — the answer is “it will never be enough.” I think what we were all put here to do, rather, is to gravitate a little closer to what “enough” could be, as long as we recognize that we are all enough in our little way. We all die eventually, often alone and with little fanfare, but what we do within our brief period of time spent as living, breathing humans, will have some measure of impact. I think it is our mission — neigh, our duty — to ensure that impact is kind, empathetic, just and flexible to change, able to bend ever closer to where humanity finds itself tomorrow and long after we’re gone.

Our lives serve something greater, and whether you believe that’s a god, or a country, or a city, or a team, or a business, or whatever, remember this: When you strip all that away, we serve humanity and Earth as a whole. We are cogs in the great universal machine. Where we find our freedom is in the way in which we turn, and in the way we help others find freedom for themselves. That’s What It All Means. Well, it’s one thing it could all mean, anyway.

Refresh Your Brain to Restore High-Level Thinking

How to Immediately Refresh Your Brain to Restore High-Level Thinking

Photo by Felipe P. Lima Rizo on Unsplash

Mental clarity can escape anyone.

Surely even Einstein and Shakespeare had their moments. It happens.

It’s your ability to recover that matters.

You can impact your brain function and cognitive abilities by making simple tweaks here and there to your daily routine.

If you are looking to improve your concentration to perform better at work, or simply to make everyday life easier, you will find these ideas useful.

It only takes a few minutes to completely clear your head and restore higher-level thinking.

Recognise and name your state of mind

At our best, we feel calm, confident, focused, enthusiastic, and optimistic.That’s when we’re most productive and get along best with others.

At our worst, we typically experience self-doubt, impatience, irritability, defensiveness, and pessimism and we tend to lose focus.

Most of us move along the spectrum between our best and our worst all day long, depending on what’s going on around us.

To maximise your output and make the most of your brain energy, it’s important to recognize your state of mind at any point in time.

Naming your emotions tends to lessen the burden of being at your worst.

The physician ans psychiatrist Dan Siegel refers to this practice as “name itto tame it.”

David Rock argues that when you are experiencing significant internal tension and anxiety, you can reduce stress by up to 50 percent by noticing and naming your state.

In “Your Brain at Work, David Rock says, “Without this ability to stand outside your experience, without self-awareness, you would have little ability to moderate and direct your behavior moment to moment.”

He writes, “You need this capacity to free yourself from the automatic flow of experience and to choose where to direct your attention. Without a director, you are a mere automaton, driven by greed, fear, or habit.”

Schedule blocks of time for different modes of thinking

Our brains have two modes. When you are doing creative work, learning something new, or working on your most important tasks, you are in the “focused” mode.

Your brain assumes “diffuse” mode when you are relaxed, taking a walk, or day dreaming. Studies have shown that activity in many regions of the brain increases when your minds wander. Your brain solves its difficult problems while you daydream.

Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman argues that “mind wandering serves multiple adaptive functions, such as future planning, sorting out current concerns, cycling through different information streams, distributed learning (versus cramming), and creativity.”

According to engineering professor Barbara Oakley, author of “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra),” inaddition to this “focused mode” — which relies on your brain’s prefrontal cortex — we also learn through a “diffuse mode,” rooted in the operations of a variety of different brain regions.

In fact, the brain switches back and forth between these modes regularly.

Barbara explains “When you’re focusing, you’re actually blocking your access to the diffuse mode. And the diffuse mode, it turns out, is what you often need to be able to solve a very difficult, new problem.”

Schedule purposeful breaks

According to research, the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. You lose your focus and your performance on the task declines.

Studies have shown that workers are most focused and productive when following the rhythm of a work/rest ratio.

When faced with a long creative problem, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task and improve your idea generation approach. A structured downtime can help you do your best work.

We tend to generate redundant ideas when we don’t take regular breaks. If you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression. Your brain needs downtime to remain industrious and generate better ideas.

Your brain needs downtime to remain creative and generate its most innovative ideas.

A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves creativity and that skipping breaks can lead to stress, exhaustion, and creative block.

Idleness is not a vice, it is indispensable for making those unexpected connections in the brain you crave and necessary to getting creative work done.

If you are struggling to solve complicated problems might be better off switching to “diffuse” mode and letting their mind wander.

Take proper breaks, often. Sometimes you just need a break — a chance to reboot the system.

Take a walk. A few minutes stroll can increase blood flow to the brain, which can boost creative thought. Charles Darwin took long walks around London.

Dickens wrote his novels between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. After that, he would go out for a long walk. He once said, “If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.”

Find time to doodle. Let your mind wander as you embrace pen and paper, again. Research shows that doodling can stimulate new ideas and help us stay focused. Make time to exercise. Exercise can give you more energy and help you gain focus. Try this 7-minute workout.

Embrace meditation. Meditation lowers stress levels and improves overall health as well as creativity. Take a nap. A number of studies have established that naps sharpen concentration and improve the performance.

Completely clear your mind and begin again. Your next big idea depends on it.

7 Reasons People Give Up on Their Goals Too Early  

Nicolas Cole Instagram

Too many people judge success by the day — which isn’t realistic, and here’s why.

They set a really big goal, usually something that combines the proficiency of multiple skill sets, each of which would take years to master. That goal is then tied to some sort of hope relating to external validation: “When I achieve thisthen everyone will respect me!” And finally, to top it all off, they vow to themselves to work relentlessly toward said goal, all without first examining their daily and questioning where in their busy schedule they are actually going to put pen to pad, brush to easel, nose to the grindstone and do the work required.

In short: they have failed before they’ve even begun.

Chances are, you are one of those people.

That’s because everyone on earth is “one of those people.” We all, no matter how goal oriented we proclaim ourselves to be, have a knack for expecting things of ourselves that are unrealistic.

The dream chasers take a statement like that and say, “You can’t stop me!” But even they fail to realize that their own success is not the result of brute force. Succeeding over the long term has far more to do with stepping back and subtracting distractions, rather than voraciously pushing forward. The latter is how you burn out.

All of that is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are the real reasons people give up on their goals far too early:

1. They want the outcome more than they want to obtain a skill.

How many people do you know that speak often of something prestigious they want to be, and yet never actually take the necessary steps in order to become that very thing?

A lot.

Human beings love to fall in love with the idea of something grand. We love the thought of being a famous tech entrepreneur, far more than we love sitting in a dark room for years on end learning how to code. And what happens when that first road block is reached? Failure is assumed and the whole path is given up entirely. Because knowledge and mastery over a skill wasn’t the driving force — the shiny reward at the end was.

2. They care too much about what people think (and fear judgment in failure).

Sabotage.

It’s what people do to avoid the fear of rejection. You see, by sabotaging yourself, you can see the failure coming ahead of time. You can prepare for it. You can make up a whole story about how it wasn’t your fault. And all of that is much safer than putting it all on the line and giving the world a front row seat.

People give up because they fear what other people will think if they fail.

3. They mistake failure for lessons learned.

The best goal-setters know that failure is nothing more than a lesson in disguise.

In fact, a quote I live by is, “Never mistakes, always lessons, forever masters.” This is the motto for the path of true mastery.

Those that give up on their goals, however, treat failure as a label. “I’ve failed,” they repeat to themselves over and over, entirely missing the opportunity right in front of their eyes.

It’s only a failure if you see it that way. To everyone else succeeding, it’s nothing more than a hard-earned lesson.

4. They would rather throw in the towel than pivot.

Find me one company that knew exactly what it was going to be in every way, shape, and form from the onset.

It doesn’t exist.

That’s because companies, brands, ideas, and visions are not stationary ships. They are not constructed at a table in advance and then brought to life in exact form. They evolve over time, they grow, they gather feedback and adjust.

People who give up on their goals stay entirely too attached to what their vision was at the onset, unwilling to compromise with the new information their journey has provided. They would rather chalk it all up as a failed venture than take what they’ve learned along the way, apply it, and allow their idea to change shape.

In short: they can’t let go of their original expectation.

5. They do not have the discipline to stick with their idea long enough to see it live.

Everybody wants to be “the idea guy” (or girl).

Everybody wants to walk into the room, listen for five minutes, shout out a crazy thought, and then drop the mic and leave. Very few people want to get in the weeds and bring that idea to life.

The reason is because being in the weeds is hard work. You have to get your hands dirty. You have to really, really know your stuff. You have to embrace the unknown every single day, and push forward regardless of what challenges arise.

Most of the time, people give up on their goals simply because they lack discipline. They can’t get themselves to see something through to the end, regardless of how small the project. They haven’t yet cultivated the habits required to work not just on the days they feel inspired, but the days they feel uninspired as well.

6. They get distracted by what someone else is doing.

Entrepreneurs are notorious for wanting to build the company someone else is building successfully.

In an analogy, people give up eating what’s on their plate because they want what they see on someone else’s. Especially when what you’re looking at appears to be an easier-to-execute business model (which it rarely, if ever, is), it can be so easy to be distracted.

What this leads to is a lack of patience, which encourages a lack of discipline, which only speeds up the process of your giving up.

7. They don’t believe in themselves enough.

And of course, the most overused but brutally true cliché known to man: the fastest route to abandoning your goals is a lack of self belief.

Mindset is everything, and without an iron clad and positive frame of mind, you will fail. That’s just the cold hard truth of it all. No matter how talented you are, no matter how many opportunities are handed to you on a silver platter, if you lack belief in yourself you will find a way to squander it all.

On the flip-side, those with a finely tuned mindset prepared to endure can and will see an idea through to its success. An average person with average skill sets but a persistent mind can make it past the finish line. A talented individual with no self belief cannot.

If any of the above resonate with you, I highly suggest you question how you can begin forming positive habits to shift its direction.

Success is yours for the taking.

This article originally appeared on Inc. Magazine.

How To Be Mindful Of The Ego’s Control

Attention To The Darkness

“It is the nature of the ego to take, and the nature of the spirit to share.” — Proverb

Being mindful of the ego’s control could be the single factor that leads to your salvation.

Alternative medicine advocate and author Deepak Chopra affirmed, “If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.”

Many people are asleep to the vice-like grip the ego has and fall victim to it because they are unaware of its influence.

The ego is the wounded and scorned child that poses a threat to a person’s self-esteem. It manipulates you into the belief of separation, which is nothing more than an impulse intended to reinforce its position.

The ego thrives on dividing you from the wholeness of your authentic self and conspires to lure you into its ways.

It is the splintered part of the soul serving to admonish you of your limitations.

The ego takes its power from identifying with the “I” of your being. Every time you affirm, “I am lazy”, “I am hopeless/incompetent”, etc., it reinforces its influence.

When this voice becomes overwhelming, it leads you further away from your soul nature.

The ego undertakes to prove your unworthiness by bringing attention to the damaged aspects of your character.

“All ego really is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real, and the absolute truth about how things are,” states Buddhist nun Pema Chodron.

You are complete beings, embodied in the duality of light and dark — yin and yang. The ego, however, prefers to bring attention to the darkness by reminding you of the concealed self, replete with faults and vulnerabilities. However, this is not who you are but merely a snapshot of your being.

It seeks to be heard to ensure its survival, since focusing attention on your soul nature diminishes the ego.

The Authentic Self

“Give up all bad qualities in you, banish the ego and develop the spirit of surrender. You will then experience Bliss.” — Sri Sathya Sai Baba

To find harmony, acknowledge your unconscious or suppressed thoughts and transform them into empowering states.

Author Mario Martinez states in The MindBody Code, “The solution to all your impasses and suffering is not to kill your ego or detach from your negative emotions. You need your ego to deal with the practical aspects of life, and all emotions are essential biological information that tells you how your body is responding to the interpretations you make about your circumstances.”

To draw attention to your authentic self, realise that underneath your tangled story lies your core essence which is love and light. For the ego is merely a facade masquerading as a Venetian mask to conceal the real self.

Consider this, why do you identify with the egoic voice instead of the expression of the soul? Maybe it reminds you of the parent who criticised you, in contrast to the nurturing parent. Naturally, you are drawn to the negative parent to appease them and justify your self-worth.

The ego is the worn-out script that plays out in your head to convince you of your unworthiness. This is coupled with recalling negative thoughts that have you believe you are less than perfect.

To transform the voice of the ego, become conscious of your limiting self-talk and examine your hurt and pain for what it actually is — a smoke screen.

Undertake this by going into silence which allows you to connect with the stillness of the inner self. Meditation practice is an effective means to connect with your soul, because it drowns out the mental chatter in place of connecting with your authentic self.

“The authentic self will never lead you to believe that you have anything to defend, prove, or be puffed up about, because your true identity is not determined by what your ego or the world has to say about you,” affirms author Dennis Merritt Jones.

Regretfully, many people distract themselves with extraneous noise that isolates them from associating with their core self. If they retreat into silence long enough, they discover beneath their thoughts is someone they don’t like.

The Principle Of Wholeness

“Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.” ― Chögyam Trungpa

There is a vast undercurrent of longing to be noticed within. This pure awareness is known when you shift your attention away from incessant thoughts and focus on the stillness.

It was during meditation practice one day that I reached deep into my being and experienced this breath-taking stillness. I sensed returning home and yearned to associate with this pure silence. The clue to developing a relationship with this aspect of your being is to turn down the narrative of the egoic voice.

You shouldn’t try to destroy the ego, rather integrate it into the wholeness of your being so you are not a servant to it.

Meditation teacher and psychotherapist Loch Kelly validates this position in his book, Shift into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness. “What we let go of is our ego-identification. Our ego functions and ego personality become less stressed, defensive, and constricted; ego-identification is no longer experienced as the centre of who we are.”

Avoid supporting the ego’s view of separateness, and instead highlight the principle of wholeness.

Disempowering thoughts linked to fear is your soul calling you to reconnect with your authentic nature. Accordingly, fear is a signpost pointing you to the quietness within.

So, when a disempowering thought appears, simply notice it through pure awareness. I am reminded of the phrase my six-year-old nephew learned at kindergarten — “stop, look and listen.”

So, stop what you are doing, look within and listen attentively to the voice calling your attention. As you practice this, the less the ego will reinforce its control, so in time it rescinds into the background.

Afterall, if you seek to attain a state of bliss as Deepak Chopra affirms, you must reach beyond the ego while being attentive to its control.

20 Things Nobody Tells You About Growing Up

Life.

It’s a journey of twists and turns, peaks and valleys, mountains to climb and oceans to explore. Good times and bad times. Happy times and sad times. But always, life is a movement forward.

No matter where you are on the journey, in some way, you are continuing on — and that’s what makes it so magnificent.

What nobody ever tells you, though, when you are a wide-eyed child, are all the little things that come along with “growing up.” The things pull you down from your dreaming cloud and force you to plant your feet on the ground.

1. Most people are scared of imagination.

They’ve disconnected with their inner child. They don’t feel they are “creative.” They like things “just the way they are.”

2. Your dream doesn’t really matter to anyone else.

Some people might take interest. Some may support you in your quest. But at the end of the day, nobody cares, or will ever care about your dream as much as you.

3. Friends are relative to where you are in your life.

Most friends only stay for a period of time — usually in reference to your current interest. But when you move on, or your priorities change, so too do the majority of your friends.

4. Your potential increases with age.

As people get older, they tend to think that they can do less and less — when in reality, they should be able to do more and more, because they have had time to soak up more knowledge. Being great at something is a daily habit. You aren’t just “born” that way.

5. Spontaneity is the sister of creativity.

If all you do is follow the exact same routine every day, you will never leave yourself open to moments of sudden discovery. Do you remember how spontaneous you were as a child? Anything could happen, at any moment!

6. You forget the value of “touch” later on.

When was the last time you played in the rain?

When was the last time you sat on a sidewalk and looked closely at the cracks, the rocks, the dirt, the one weed growing between the concrete and the grass nearby.

Do that again.

You will feel so connected to the playfulness of life.

7. Most people don’t do what they love.

It’s true.

The “masses” are not the ones who live the lives they dreamed of living. And the reason is because they didn’t fight hard enough. They didn’t make it happen for themselves. And the older you get, and the more you look around, the easier it becomes to believe that you’ll end up the same.

Don’t fall for the trap.

8. Many stop reading after college.

Ask anyone you know the last good book they read, and I’ll bet most of them respond with, “Wow, I haven’t read a book in a long time.”

9. People talk more than they listen.

There is nothing more ridiculous to me than hearing two people talk “at” each other, neither one listening, but waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can start up again.

10. Creativity takes practice.

It’s funny how much we as a society praise and value creativity, and yet seem to do as much as we can to prohibit and control creative expression unless it is in some way profitable.

If you want to keep your creative muscle pumped and active, you have to practice it on your own.

11. “Success” is a relative term.

As kids, we’re taught to “reach for success.”

What does that really mean? Success to one person could mean the opposite for someone else.

Define your own Success.

12. You can’t change your parents.

A sad and difficult truth to face as you get older: You can’t change your parents.

They are who they are.

Whether they approve of what you do or not, at some point, no longer matters. Love them for bringing you into this world, and leave the rest at the door.

13. The only person you have to face in the morning is yourself.

When you’re younger, it feels like you have to please the entire world.

You don’t.

Do what makes you happy, and create the life you want to live for yourself. You’ll see someone you truly love staring back at you every morning if you can do that.

14. Nothing feels as good as something you do from the heart.

No amount of money or achievement or external validation will ever take the place of what you do out of pure love.

Follow your heart, and the rest will follow.

15. Your potential is directly correlated to how well you know yourself.

Those who know themselves and maximize their strengths are the ones who go where they want to go.

Those who don’t know themselves, and avoid the hard work of looking inward, live life by default. They lack the ability to create for themselves their own future.

16. Everyone who doubts you will always come back around.

That kid who used to bully you will come asking for a job.

The girl who didn’t want to date you will call you back once she sees where you’re headed. It always happens that way.

Just focus on you, stay true to what you believe in, and all the doubters will eventually come asking for help.

17. You are a reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Nobody creates themselves, by themselves.

We are all mirror images, sculpted through the reflections we see in other people. This isn’t a game you play by yourself. Work to be surrounded by those you wish to be like, and in time, you too will carry the very things you admire in them.

18. Beliefs are relative to what you pursue.

Wherever you are in life, and based on who is around you, and based on your current aspirations, those are the things that shape your beliefs.

Nobody explains, though, that “beliefs” then are not “fixed.” There is no “right and wrong.” It is all relative.

Find what works for you.

19. Anything can be a vice.

Be wary.

Again, there is no “right” and “wrong” as you get older. A coping mechanism to one could be a way to relax on a Sunday to another. Just remain aware of your habits and how you spend your time, and what habits start to increase in frequency — and then question where they are coming from in you and why you feel compelled to repeat them.

Never mistakes, always lessons.

As I said, know yourself.

20. Your purpose is to be YOU.

What is the meaning of life?

To be you, all of you, always, in everything you do — whatever that means to you. You are your own creator. You are your own evolving masterpiece.

Growing up is the realization that you are both the sculpture and the sculptor, the painter and the portrait. Paint yourself however you wish.

This article originally appeared on Inc Magazine.