Top 3

#1 – Your decisions.

I’ve already said that I believe you choose your own destiny. You have to find your own way, your own recipe, your own craft, and be proud of your own weirdness through it all. All you got is you and your decisions.

#2 – Your execution.

You’ve committed to something, and now it’s time to execute. Maybe you hit your mark, maybe you don’t. All you got here is your best effort, and your best effort to learn from your best efforts.

#3 – Your grit.

This is a common #1 in my motivational audio lately. I really can’t argue, because it stands by my core principals. Throughout the course of your decisions and their executions, you will be faced with a variety of emotional reactions. How you manage these, and the grit you pull out in face of your darkest emotions will determine your glory. Whether you want success, love, happiness, you’re going to face your own beasts.

I would apologize for bringing any fights to your doorstep, but I think that’s what I’m here to do. At least I can say, I’ve come to fight with you.

Love!

Appsolute Tools

If you’re trying to check some goals off your list, there’s undoubtedly some tools out there to help you. Here’s some of my favourite apps that help me stay on track with my goals:

“Hay House VB” is a vision board app that allows you to make classic peg-board-like collages of your goals. It’s super simple to use, and the backgrounds I have made with these are by far my favourite, keeping my goals in front of me on the regular.

“Google Keep” is my new organizer. I use it to create my checklists, take notes, and to write my blog. I colour the backgrounds red/yellow/green so I know how complete the idea is. The app stays synced across google.keep.com so I can start an idea on my phone and pull out my computer to pick up where I left off.

“Technique” which is formerly “ubersense” is a great video app, for athletes especially. It has frame-by-frame scrolling, side-by-side or overlayed videos for comparison, and the ability to draw lines to check your trajectories.

“MyFitnessPal” is a dietary tracker with a database so big you can scan a barcode and get all the nutritional info loaded instantly. I used it mainly to track sugar, but whatever your fitness goals, this app has its uses.

“Mint.com” is a great financial tracker. You can build a budget and it will automatically categorize your debit expenses based on the location you used it. It can also warn you if you’re approaching or going over budget limits.

And lastly, though it is not an app, I use YouTube-to-mp3 converters to turn all my favourite motivational videos into audio on my phone. Some days I prefer to turn off the radio and listen to something that feeds my soul.

Hope you find something useful. Love!

#1 Lesson Not Taught in School

The most important thing I find nobody ever really talks much about, is the war within, the mind. There’s no doubt our minds have been instrumental in the incredible growth of mankind. But there’s also no doubt that our minds have been instrumental in the growth of suffering. And I don’t even want to start on the industries built on human suffering, so I’ll stick to the brain itself.

Our brains have some very primitive ways of protecting us. Take for example the way pain programs us. When we experience pain, our brains will seek to avoid or be cautious of situations that could cause us that same pain again. This is rather useful of course, because if you lose an arm to an alligator, you probably won’t try to pet the next one. Your brain will tell you “all alligators can bite off your arm” and you will proceed with caution. Unless of course, you’ve really lost your balance since the first alligator, and you want to even things out. 

But if you apply this programming to more complex things, like relationships for instance, your brain can work against you. Let’s say you were cheated on or mistreated in a relationship that has ended, and that it hurt a lot. Your brain is going to apply the same survival instinct, and tell you “all partners can bite off your feelings”. So then maybe, your next relationship, you protect your feelings so they can’t get bitten. But then your relationship can’t be as deep as you want it to be, because you’ve built a vault to keep partners from getting deep. The very idea of opening yourself up to complete vulnerability is like sticking your arm in alligator’s mouth, you need to trust that fucker.

If no one ever tells you to check what your brain is saying, you may just wind up following the primitive program. Sometimes if you protect yourself from harm, you might protect yourself from joy as well. My advice: don’t date alligators, they’re always on their stomach so they never want to cuddle.

Destiny – Is It Real?

Well, mostly no. But kind of yes.

Unless you believe all your decisions have been pre-determined, the freedom of choice alone rules out destiny. At any given moment, you can make a choice that changes the course of your life.

But what if we imagined for a second that destiny was real? Let’s say I reach some magical destiny, slay some monsters and save the world. When I got “there”, I could look back and see that every little circumstance and decision in my life was necessary to bring me to this moment, in this way. The parents I was born to, the friends, teachers, jobs, relationships, decisions, challenges, failures, successes, everything I’ve been through, it all led to this moment.

My conclusion: when you are looking forward, destiny is not real, but when you look back, it is. 

That’s the beauty of life, everything is true, and you get to decide. You choose your destiny every step of the way, and you can choose a new one any time.

Some day, you may look back on today, and realize today was part of your destiny. Even if your life is currently a mess, your future self might look back and see that this mess was necessary to push you to clean yourself up to become that better, future you.

For me, this belief has been a rather healthy choice. Whether my belief is accurate or true doesn’t matter as much as how it serves me. With this point of view, I can see my obstacles as necessary challenges to take me farther along my journey. Had I not been through a long depression, I would not have grown to be the person sharing this with you today. 
Keep moving forward. Love!

My Sight on Eyesight on my Site

I was once reading a magazine article about eyesight, on which they printed a bunch of big black dots all over the two pages, and only one green dot. The article explained that our eyes have a blind spot, and that our brain fills it in. 

They demonstrated this by having me hold the magazine one foot from my face, and focusing on a specific dot in the middle. From this focus point, my peripheral vision covered beyond the entire magazine, but I could not see the green dot at all, unless I moved my eyes. It was clear that my brain was filling in the blank. My mind was kinda blown.

I sometimes wonder how much someone can influence their eyesight. I had a friend who was prescribed glasses but didn’t want to wear them because he thought people would call him a nerd. In the 90’s, being called a nerd was actually still an insult. My friend said his eyes eventually fixed themselves over time. Surely, once you begin relying on glasses to fix your vision, your brain won’t be fighting to make any adjustments. At least, that’s my non-expert opinion.

I’ve always felt that my ability to decipher words and writing, has helped my vision. Sometimes when I’m trying to read a distant sign and I can only make out a few letters, deciphering the word allows me to give shape to letters that were blurry, helping them come into focus.

We live in a world that pushes us to solve from the outside. We take medication for pain, we think laws will stop crimes, we think riots will stop hatred. I don’t really see a better solution to most problems than one that works from the inside. If we could breed our children to listen to their bodies and be their own doctors, we could breed physically healthy people. If we could teach people to think about their feelings and be their own psychologists, we would breed mentally healthy people. And if we could simply breed them to love everyone and themselves to a depth that connects us all, we would breed a spiritually healthy human race. Maybe that could stop pain, crime and hatred. I should start a riot about this, that’ll work.

I guess all I’m saying is, let’s look within before we’re left without. Love!

Once I Was 7 Years Old

When I was 7, I had a tooth pulled. My mother made me take a Tylenol that I did not want to take. To me, it did not make sense that if I had a pain in a small area, I should take a pill that gets absorbed into my entire bloodstream. I hated that people were being taught to rely on pills for pain. I was furious with myself for letting her make me take the pill. So, I vowed to never take a pain killer again. I believed that I could teach my body and my mind to deal with pain. I knew that, to some extent, pain is in the mind. I often trained myself to deal with pain in various ways. When my fingers would hurt from bowling, I would squeeze them and abuse the skin to harden it. I would deprive my body of oxygen just so I could hold my breath longer next time. When I had no hot water, I took cold showers facing them like they were mental exercises. I chose to see pains and challenges as a way to develop mental fortitude. Fast forward 26 years, and I’m one of the few people who never gets headaches. The longest headache I’ve had in those years has lasted about 8 seconds. I can’t say with certainty that there is a correlation, but there’s certainly probably a correlation.

When I was 12, I was not very disciplined when it came to eating, my parents let me eat what I want when I wanted. One of the challenges of staying thin was what I called the “stretching stomach”. I observed that, when we went to a buffet for dinner, I would stuff myself for maximum value and of course, feel completely bloated. The next day, I would always be able to eat bigger meals than usual. Instead of feeling full after a usual meal, I could eat almost double. I later learned that champions of eating competitions, use this concept as part of their strategy.

As such, the “stretching stomach” concept was formed in my 12-year-old mind. I imagined that when I devoured a delicious meal and felt full, the bloating feeling was literally my stomach stretching. My strategy for dealing with this was what is called “intermittent fasting” nowadays. After over-eating a delicious meal, which I often did, I would fast generally somewhere between 12-20 hours, using liquids and sleep to push past hunger. I imagined the feeling of my stomach grumbling as the processing of stored fat. I believed that I was teaching my body to process its reserves more regularly, essentially increasing my metabolism.

Now I am no medical expert, so I do not advise you to try what I have tried. I listened to my body and I essentially pioneered intermittent fasting for myself. All I can tell you is that staying thin for me has always revolved around regulating the size of my inner stomach. After fasting, if I could limit myself to a small meal, I usually fell back on track. It took some time to develop the discipline to limit the first meal after fasting. Over time, I found myself dealing with hunger with multiple small portions roughly every 30 minutes. This was a natural response to avoiding the full/bloated feeling, which is essentially the key.

This also stuck with me because it resonates with some deeper concepts of mine. I’ve always believed that time and change are interrelated, if time is moving forward, everything is changing. You are getting stronger or weaker, you are getting more skilled or less skilled, faster or slower, smarter or slower. I believe we ride all these rollercoasters and many more…

I can only hope I’m helping somebody along the ride… Peace!

Guess Who’s Back

I took a little break from writing because I needed to sort a few things out with myself. For one, I needed to understand why it is that I blog, at least a little more completely. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately, as my life changes in little ways every day, and in big ways in the background.

I don’t get a whole lot of feedback, so I had to ask myself “Who am I writing for?” In many blogs I began writing, I realized I was writing for myself. I needed to sort things out, understand myself better. I’ve been doing this periodically for years, when I feel the need for change. Usually, it involves me writing down things I want, asking myself a series of whys, and realizing I have conflicting desires.

Essentially, my writing has been the same. Writing puts me face to face with a number of conflicting desires that I have. For a few examples: I want to teach, but feel unqualified because I’m still learning; I want to beat my addiction to thinking, but writing is essentially me expressing my thoughts; the conflict between writing for me, and writing for you, because I don’t actually know who you are. Well maybe I do, but really I don’t. You see all these conflicts?

It took some time, but I realized a few things. I’m not actually writing to teach, I’m just here to share ideas and experiences in which someone may find valuable lessons. I’m simply sharing what I’m learning as I go, even though I don’t have it all figured out. And maybe, someone will find lessons that help them.

I understand now that I am qualified to speak about my experiences. After all, they are mine. I am definitely qualified to speak how I beat a decade-long depression without doctors or medication. I am definitely qualified to speak about how to use your mind more effectively. I also understand that there are things I am not qualified to talk about, like how to stop thinking.

My thinking has taught me a lot, but there are times when I am unable to turn it off, and in my attempts to sleep better, this is a problem for me. Now that I’ve separated that issue from writing, I am back.

Anyway, I just want you to know that I needed some time. It’s not you, it’s me…

I’m Addicted, You’re Addicted

We may not all be addicted to the same things, but we are definitely addicted. Addiction is an interesting paradox to me because the more you are aware of it, the less it is a problem. But the less you are aware of your addiction, the more trouble it can cause without you understanding why.
Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve been addicted to sugar, to alcohol, to sadness, to anger. I’ve been addicted to the thrill of fast speeds, to video games, and countless others. And I’ve had friends who are addicted to sickness, to working, to mayhem, to attention, to you name it.
It’s not really the obvious ones that concern me. It’s easy to realize you’re addicted to cigarettes or candy or Facebook, but it’s difficult to realize you’re addicted to something like sadness or anger.
For a long time, I didn’t know I was addicted to my emotions, and that caused some serious problems. It’s pretty easy to look back on it and see it, because I can see that when I was addicted to sadness I would literally choose to be sad, I would even play sad music all the time. Sadness built a home in me.
I didn’t really know it until I had a solid stretch of happiness. I was finally overturning my depression, and after being happy for a while, I caught myself feeling like a hole or a void for sadness. Something happened that made me a little sad, and that “home” feeling came back, like I had “missed” sadness. It was a big moment for me, because catching myself was key. If I didn’t notice, I could have easily started making decisions that would lead me to sadness, even at an unconscious level, just to fill that void.
I know people who are addicted to work and stress. If they aren’t busy or stressed, they’re not “at home”. I know people who are addicted to conflict, they can’t handle calm and don’t even know it. I definitely know people addicted to anger.
I do okay with anger but it’s tricky. I catch myself at least once a day getting addicted to anger on the road. For 1-5 minutes I want to be angry at bad drivers, slow drivers in left lanes, and I want to ask angry questions to absolutely nobody. I basically direct all my focus at things that make me angry about driving right now. 1-5 points for anger, almost every day.
You see, that’s why emotion addictions are the ones I worry about! They score points and you don’t even realize! That’s why I do okay with anger, I can generally catch it before it gets too far ahead to cause serious problems. Like where it rolls over into my work day and I think the entire universe is out to cut me off and shit on me all day. Then tomorrow comes and anger’s got a tent setup now, ’cause he’s been camping on my front lawn for a day. He’s on the lookout for things to be angry about, and he’ll be sure to point them all out to me. After a year, he’ll have a watchtower built and a telescope. Then I can be angry about everything everywhere. Anger and I will live happily ever after.
I’m not the greatest painter, but I hope you can see the picture I’m painting. Even if it doesn’t make sense, I hope it still has some meaning to at least someone.
We’ve all got addictions. It’s the ones you don’t know about that really get you. When you know about it, you can do something to score some points and get back in the game. But when you don’t know, you wake up like me one day and see a scoreboard for “Sadness vs You”. The score is 26000 to 12.
Sure makes for a glorious comeback though…

Good luck!

Turning Bad Into Good: The Happiness Skill

The first breakthrough (recognizing the I’ll-be-happy-when cycle) wasn’t really a complete breakthrough. All I really figured out was that happiness would come from enjoying the entire journey, all of the ups and all of the downs, all the baggage, all the hardships, and all its rewards.

I needed more breakthroughs though, so I called the kool-aid man. After busting through my wall, he told me I was addicted to sadness. He said that I was choosing to focus on things in a way that made me sad, instead of choosing a happier perspective.

I was too young to fully understand the kool-aid man, plus there were bricks, drywall and kool-aid everywhere, so it was difficult to focus and take advice about gratitude. “How am I supposed to be happy about a big hole in my wall, kool-aid man!? The couch is ruined! You want to have a serious conversation about life and happiness, and there’s nowhere to sit?” But unfortunately, he was right. He made it very clear that sadness was a choice, and I chose it often. I chose to focus on lack of friends, lack of girlfriend, lack of car, lack of money.

I was like a fish who never left the water, and didn’t even know I was in water. Surrounded by one of the greatest resources on Earth, water or love, and I couldn’t even see it. Finally I was pulled out of the water, and I could see where I had been swimming. Sometimes the love needs to disappear for you to realize it was there in the first place.

Ultimately this was my question, the question I needed to answer to really make happiness click in my life. In the worst of circumstances, whether I’d lost someone or something, lost everyone or everything, or whether I felt like I’d never even had that someone or something to lose, how am I supposed to be happy?

If I could solve that, and turn the worst of sadnesses into happiness, I would solve happiness. While the solution is essentially my third and most major breakthrough, it’s really been years in the making, and I’m definitely still learning.

During a phase of self-help books, there’s really only one that stands out as a game changer for me. It was the piece of the puzzle I needed. This book was all about beliefs. The basis was that our perception defines our reality, and that our beliefs define our perception. To fully absorb this concept and this book in one sentence, I would tell you that you need to understand how it’s possible for God to exist to you, and to not exist to someone else, and you’re both right.

The takeaway for me was that I needed to choose beliefs that served me better. It doesn’t matter whether or not I believe in God, it matters how that belief serves me, how it drives me. If I’m out murdering people, it doesn’t matter if I believe in God, if I’m male or female, or if I’m any kind of different, I’m murdering people!

But what if you’re murdering yourself? I mean internally, what if your beliefs about yourself, about what you can and can’t do, who you can and can’t be, what if they’re sabotaging you? On the bright side, nobody died from your beliefs, but they might still be worth a look.

Essentially, I think of happiness as a skill. To me, it’s like bowling a great shot. If I succeed, it’s still only one great shot. If I want continuous happiness, I’m going to need to do it again and again.

The skill to takeaway from this is like any other: simple to learn, but hard to master. I challenge you to take a shitty situation in your life right now, and name 2 good changes that it’s bringing to your life. The more you get good at this, the better you are at happiness.

If you’re more systematic, here’s a 2-step system, and the good news is step 1 is super easy.

Step 1. Shit happens, you feel some kind of bad about it.
Step 2. You figure out how to see things in a way that serves you better.

Concept in perspective: I’m driving home from work, and some guy cuts me off. I make some sarcastic comment like “nice signal” and I’m a little angry now. But now I want to be angry, so I’m watching like a hawk for the next bad driver I see, and I’m going to be twice as sarcastic on my next comment! “Oh look at me, I’m a driving magician! I don’t need signals! If I just move over slowly enough, I don’t need to look because people magically move out of my way! Abracafuckingdabra!” So now, by the length of my conversation with myself, and the elevation of the tone of the conversation, you can tell I’m pretty aggravated. My breathing is shallower, muscles are tighter, and I realize I just let some asshole or idiot, or idiot asshole, make me upset. Somehow, I’ve given him the power to upset me, to ruin my day. Then I’m mad at myself for letting someone steal my sunshine. I should be happy, I’m on my way home!

Concept in a much more serious perspective: I lost my mother and naturally I was sad. Step 1 complete. But step 2 meant finding good ways to look at her death. Obviously, challenging. Looking back, I see this as a defining moment in my ability to change my beliefs. Your problems will always be unique to you, so you will always have to find your own solution, but if it helps, here was my solution to my greatest challenge.

I decided that I didn’t want to think of my mother and be sad, I wanted to think of her and be happy. I knew that when she was alive, she was suffering, and so I chose to focus on the fact that her suffering had come to an end. I promised myself that every time I thought of her, I would focus on our love for each other, and how grateful I am for it. Not only does this serve me better, I also feel that it’s the best way to honour her.

Occasionally I have caught myself missing her really bad, bad enough to break into tears about it. But sadness is something on which I’ve also changed my perspective, I actually really appreciate my sadness. I am quite lucky to have been able to experience such a great loss.

Every scenario is different. I am certain that happiness is a skill or habit. I’m still working on mine, but for me it’s all about catching myself in a bad feeling, then choosing to focus on things differently. It may be easier said than done, but I’ve done it many times, so now I’m saying it. In the words of the kool-aid man: “Oh yeah!”

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