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Lessons From Books: Awaken The Giant Within

The self-help genre can fall into this pseudo-intellect space where the writers make false promises with some half-truths hoping to sell a bunch of books. They will promise to fix every issue you have and turn your life around completely. If you read that on a book cover it’s best to avoid it. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins isn’t about turning your life around completely through some magical words. Robbins promises changes, but the change is more gradual and realistic, much of which falls upon the shoulders of the reader. The book is about the small practical changes, shifts in focus, new habits, and mindset that can help different aspects of your life. The goal is to slightly change the trajectory of your life towards a more positive direction. 

Lessons

How To Create Lasting Changing

  1. Raise your standards. Demand more from yourself. More than what you think you are capable of at the moment. When you set a higher standard, it causes you to focus on what you can potentially achieve and your actions guide you towards that standard. Thinking big plays an important role not just in the goals but in the individual you want to become.
  2. Change your limiting beliefs. Often, we don’t achieve our goals or become the person we wish to be because we don’t believe it’s possible for us. So, right away we start on the back foot and never gain enough momentum to meet what seems to be an impossible standard. Along with the new standard, you need a new self belief. You have to believe that you can achieve your new standard. That you can implement the change that you are seeking.
  3. Change your system. Your previous mode of operation resulted in your previous failures. So, repeating the same system but with lofter goals isn’t sufficient enough. What you need is to change your behaviours and routines which will give you the best chance for lasting change. One way to do this is to study the people who have accomplished what you wish to accomplish or have the characteristics and habits that you want. Simply adopt their routines, systems, and mindset and act accordingly.

Areas Of Your Life That Require Mastery

  1. Emotional Mastery – How you feel can determine how you act. So if you have limited control over your emotions and allow them to dictate your actions, your life will be erratic and out of control.
  2. Physical Mastery – One of the few things you have control over is yourself. If you allow your physical health to suffer, then you curb the potential experiences of life. Additionally, being disciplined with your workout and diet can act as a foundational piece to developing good habits and mindset.
  3. Relationship Mastery – Life revolves around relationships. If you don’t have good relationships with your family and friends, then you will have a hard time feeling fulfilled.
  4. Financial Mastery – Often you spend money to satisfy your immediate craving or want but in the long term, it can leave you with more problems. Understand when you are simply pleasure seeking The disciplined choice supersedes the undisciplined one.
  5. Time Mastery – You have limited time in this life. No one knows exactly how much time they have. There is a possibility you have used up most of your time so, it is best to guard your time and use it towards things that will improve your life and give you experiences that you don’t forget about.

The Power of Decisions

I believe that it’s in your moment of decision that your destiny is shaped.

Decide the structure of your life. The ruleset and principles that you want to abide by which will allow you to maximize your experiences and give you the best chance at becoming the individual you wish to be and to achieve your goals.

If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.

The decision to commit rather than to just wish and hope is scary. Wishing and hoping give a false sense of comfort in some ways because you can live in that daydream without exposing yourself to failure. The daydream is fun but in reality, you are hurting yourself. You are wasting your time.

Commitment comes with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of humiliation. Fear of disappointment. These are true feelings that cause us pain. But commitment is the only way to achieve your dreams. Be open to failure because in doing so, you give yourself a shot a success. 

Making a trust decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility.

Like most things in life, your ability to make better decisions increases the more decisions you make.

Don’t waste time thinking over and over, procrastinating your life away. Just decide and move and once you have acted, then reflect on the outcome and act again after. Rinse and repeat that cycle.

Your life changes the moment you make a new congruent, and committed decision.

Important of Self-Affirmation 

Self-affirmation practices help to cultivate the right attitude.

This is who I am. This is what my life is about. And this is what I’m going to do. Nothing will stop me from achieving my destiny. I will not be denied!

Although it sounds cheesy to read and think about, the major benefit of the practice is the thoughts you have afterward. Your thoughts will be about fulfilling those affirmations which then charge you to act. The day then begins with positive momentum. The affirmations, in themselves, are not life changing, but they can act as a trigger that leads towards positive actions which can be life changing.

Have a Skill Mindset

You can fall into the trap of thinking that either you have a certain quality or you don’t. Either you are disciplined or you aren’t. Or that you are born with work ethic or time management skills. But, in reality, these things are a skill. You can improve your skills. You can get better with more practice and repetition.

Repetition is the mother of all skills.

Making decisions is a skill.

Discipline is a skill.

Hard work is a skill.

The more you do, the better you get. This is true for the negative and the positive, so you have to be careful what you choose to repeat over and over again. 

Decisions That Shape Your Life

  1. Your decision about what to focus on. Ability to prioritize.
  2. Your decision about what things mean to you. Figuring out the ‘why’ behind your actions. This requires self-reflection.
  3. Your decision about what to do to create the result you desire. Can’t act blindly. Create a logical plan that will give you a chance at achieving your goal and then act and adjust along the way.

The ‘Why’ Behind Your Behaviour

In order to change behaviour you have to deal with the cause of it and not just the effect of it. Typically, we focus on the effect of our actions and get the urge to change our behaviour. But this type of change rarely lasts long term because we never addressed the cause of the behaviour in the first place. For example, procrastination is something many people struggle with. One cause of why you procrastinate is that somewhere in your mind, you truly believe that present action will cause you pain and discomfort and you don’t want that. You can’t see the future benefit. So you avoid action through procrastination which will cause a failure to achieve your goal. So, just saying that you will work harder next time won’t solve the issue.

All too often, the security of a mediocre present is more comfortable than the adventure of trying to be more in the future.

What you need to do is change your mindset and how you view present action. That although you may have discomfort in the present, your future will be much better because of it. Additionally, you can change your attitude and practice to not view the present action in a negative light but in a positive one. This may require something like keep reminders nearby of what you wish to accomplish and who you want to be. Both things can override the voice in your head that wishes to avoid discomfort in the present.

How To Rewire Pain and Pleasure

  1. Write down actions you need to take that you have been putting off.
  2. Write down the answers to this question under each action: Why haven’t I taken action? In the past what pain have I linked to taking action?
  3. Write down all the pleasure you’ve had in the past by indulging in this negative pattern.
  4. Write down what it’ll cost you if you don’t change now.
  5. Write down the pleasure you’ll receive by taking each action now.

Ask The Right Question Of Yourself

Our questions determine our thoughts.

Questions lead to thinking. If you constantly question your behaviors, actions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, future plans, and so on, you move from a surface level of understanding to a deeper one. Once you truly know the why behind your wants and needs, it is then easier to plan for them.

Ask questions that will empower you.

An example can be something like asking yourself why did your previous attempt at achieving X/Y/Z failed? Instead of asking why you are a failure? The latter is negative and results in negative, self-loathing thoughts. The former can cause actionable changes when answered. 

When faced with a problem you need to be objective by asking yourself:

How have others solved a similar problem?

What are you doing to add to the problem?

What can you stop doing?

What can you start doing?

Answering questions like these give you actionable results. 

Choose Your Words Carefully

Be aware of the words you’re using. See how negative and positive they are, how emotionally charged they are, how empowering or disempowering they are. One person you can never escape is yourself. Your thoughts are always with you and with it, are your words directed towards yourself. The last thing you want is someone who is negative towards you living in your head.

Something that didn’t go your way, you can either label that humiliating or illuminating. By focusing on the label we give the experience, that experience then becomes the label. 

Study Your Emotions

If you are feeling happy and fulfilled, note why and act on that. If you are feeling sad and depressed, note why, and act on how you can change those emotions. So, if the feeling of sadness comes from a lack of success, make a list of things you can act upon right now that will bring you closer to what you want. 

What do you feel when you act out a bad habit? What do you feel when you act out a good habit? Note them so you can remind yourself of the feeling you are potentially about to have before you act. 

Emotions are then signals. Signals of you doing good or bad. Don’t avoid them. Learn from them. 

Ask yourself:

What do I really want to feel?

What do I have to do to feel the way I am feeling?

What am I willing to do to create a solution?

What can I learn from this about myself?

Have Giant Goals

Giant goals produce giant motivations. Big goals create pressure and resistance. When these two things are present then you know that you really want the goal you have set for yourself. However, goal setting must be followed by a developmental plan and massive and consistent action. 

Goals are dreams with a deadline.

Two practices that can inch you towards what you want are visualization and prioritization. Visualize achieving your goal daily. How you will achieve it. How your day should go to give you a chance at achieving it. How you’ll feel when you achieve it. Along with this, making the right sacrifices is important. Prioritizing your day, your week, your weekends so that you are using your time effectively and not wasting it.

A new level of thinking is now required in order to experience a new level of personal and professional success.

The actions, mindset, and habits of yesterday have brought you to your present. If you are unsatisfied then you have to make the right sacrifices to change your actions, time management, mindset, and habits so that your future can be different.

10 Day Mental Challenge

You will not indulge in or dwell on any unresourceful thoughts or emotions.

This may include things like daydreaming, pleasure seeking and/or pessimistic thoughts.

Instead, focus on improvement: What do I need to do right now to make my present better?

Great Quotes:

Virtually everything we do is to change the way we feel.

Information is power when it’s acted upon.

Success truly is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is often the result of bad judgment.

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.

The way to expand our lives is to model the lives of those people who are already succeeding.

Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning you give it.

The greatest leverage you can create for yourself is the pain that comes from inside, not outside. Knowing that you have failed to live up to your own standards for your life is the ultimate pain.

In life, never spend more than 10 percent of your time on the problem, and spend at least 90 percent of your time on the solution.

Lessons From People: Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse was a poet and a writer who wrote many great works, including Demian, Steppenwolf and most famously Siddhartha. His works mainly concentrated on the need to become an individual and gain self knowledge. He was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946.

The following are lessons taken from his essays which range from a wide variety of topics such as psychoanalysis, Anti-Semitism, to his thoughts on individual writers, painters, and intellects.

Lessons:

Find Joy In The Everyday Life

There is a state of urgency associated with being alive because we don’t know how much time we really have. So, there is this need to do as much as possible as quickly as possible because tomorrow is never guaranteed. However, Hesse speaks against living like this. He calls that kind of life a hurried life, which he considers to be an enemy to a joyful life.

But the high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most as the most important object of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy.

A hurried life would be the kind where you are always focusing on the next thing, on the big projects and goals. Always jumping from one thing to another. In this manner, life goes by without us realizing it and we’ve missed out on appreciating the time we were alive. 

Even leisure is hurried in this way of living. We are more worried about how many shows we can watch, how many things we can do, how many bucket list items we can cross off instead of appreciating each individual thing.

The motto of a hurried life is:

As much as possible, or fast as possible.

But this only allows for quick dopamine hits instead of actual pleasure.

Hesse’s formula for joy:

Moderate enjoyment is double enjoyment and don’t overlook the little joys.

What are little joys?

The play of colors in nature or in a painting, an appeal in the voices of storm and sea, or in man-made music, as long as beneath its surface of interests and necessities the world can be seen or felt as a whole, consisting as it does of interrelationships from the curve of a young cat’s neck to the variations of a sonata, from the touching eyes of a dog to the tragedy of a poet, an interconnection of thousandfold riches of relationship, correspondences, analogies, and reflection, out of whose eternally flowing language their hearers derive joy and wisdom, entertainment and emotion—just so long will man again and again triumph over his ambiguities and be able to ascribe meaning to his existence.

It’s good to remember Hesse felt this way prior to the internet. Now, this hurried life has been kicked into overdrive and we can spend every minute of our day jumping from one thing to the next.

An exercise in moderation: Don’t have to be the first in line to a premiere. Don’t have to jump on the news show trend, wait a few weeks and see if you still want to. Instead of reading book after book, or skipping from song to song, think about why that piece of art makes you feel the way it did, whether it’s good or bad.

Know Your Why

There are two things associated with actions: the what and the why. The ‘what’ of an act is usually simple. If you want to start a business, the product you want to sell is the what. Often times figuring out the what is the depth of our understanding behind our actions. But the ‘why’ behind our actions is a lot more significant.

For those high qualities, tasks, and goals which you ascribe to the poet, that loyalty to himself, that awe in the face of nature, that acceptance of unusual self-sacrifice, that responsibility which is never satisfied with itself and gladly pays the price of sleepless nights for a successful sentence, a well turned phrase — all these virtues are the hallmarks not only for the true poet. They are the hallmarks of the true human being per se, of the unensalved, unmechanized man, of the revert and responsible human being, no matter what his profession.

The why should be related to the observation of life, to emotional sensibilities, to stand against something, to say something of value, to be free, to find solitude, to improve oneself, to dedicate oneself to a cause higher than yourself.

When the why is pure, the what becomes valuable.

Personal Refuge 

When we think about relaxing and decompressing, images of beaches or resorts come to mind. We look at them as a utopia that will provide us with refuge. However, Hesse doesn’t believe in this kind of refuge because no matter where you go, you are there. There is no perfect utopia for you to go to because your thoughts/emotions/feelings go with you. Thoughts influenced by others, emotions stirred up by loss or pain, feelings of loneliness or needing solitude all disturb whatever outer utopia you have in mind. 

But we need a refuge, a place of solitude that will allow us to disconnect from the outside noise and to simply concentrate and focus. 

Leave, O World, leave me in peace!

Ideally, the perfect solitude or refuge should be our own inner state. You, yourself, must be your refuge. Your thoughts must be clear so you can find comfort within them. You shouldn’t have to distract yourself from yourself. You must achieve harmony within yourself.

Hesse achieved a stable inner self through meditation, journaling, and by communicating truthfully with himself. Essentially, you have to have a desire to create an inner refuge and then work relentlessly upon yourself so that you can make this refuge a reality.

View People Without Desire

The eye of desire dirties and distrusts.

It is almost natural to view others through the lease of desire because we often start relationships in order to gain something for ourself. So, even prior to actually communicating with the person we wonder if they will like us, if they are arrogant or humble, if they will respect our work and so on. In doing so, we don’t truly connect with the individual because we have already created a picture of who they might be and how they act and think.

In order to have a genuine connection with someone, eyes of desire must be closed.

What is required then is for us to stop seeing people as useful or boring or strong or weak. Only by stopping such desires do we see who the person is and come to appreciate them regardless of how they can benefit us. This way, the quirks or mannerisms or characteristic that we might find annoying at first become a unique quality of that individual. The things we appreciate and like about someone become even more valuable.

Seeking Suffering

Just suffer, my son, just suffer and drain the cup to the dregs! The harder you try to avoid it the bitterer the drink will be. The coward drinks his fate like poison or medicine, you must drink yours like wine and fire. Then it will taste sweet.

Acceptance.

Being alive comes with pain and suffering. It’s better to make use of suffering by seeing it as a challenge to overcome than it is to try and avoid it. Suffering is there for us to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. By trying to avoid it, we only harm ourself.

And so my condition and radius of experience was this: On one hand endurance of great sorrow, on the other a conscious striving to master this sorrow, to achieve complete harmony with fate. This was approximately the judgement of my consciousness, or rather a first voice audible within my consciousness. A second voice, fainter, but deeper and more resonant, put the matter differently. This voice (which like the first one I heard clearly but far off in my sleep and dream) did not call the suffering wrong and my vigorous mental struggle for perfection right, but rather meted out right and wrong to both sides. The second voice sang of the sweetness of suffering, it sang of its necessity, it had no interest of mastering or eliminating it but only in deepening and illuminating it.

Why He Admired Goethe

He (Goethe) did not content himself with little goals, that he sought the greatest, that he erected ideals that could not be attained.

On Getting Old

Growing old is one of the universal fears. Hesse overcomes this fear by viewing aging as just another question life asks you and it is your new responsibility to find the appropriate answers. Now, as you age, the set of questions you face in your youth or adult life change to:

Can you be patient as you age?

Can you age gracefully?

Can you find joy in what has happened?

And many more.

It’s all about your mindset. You can be young and full of life, but a negative mindset can kill you. At the same time, when you’re old, you can focus on the negative, the things you used to be able to do, the people that you used to have around you and let it weigh you down or you can see it as another challenge, another question of life and focus on finding the answers. 

Old age is a stage in our life, and like all other stages, it has a face of its own, its own atmosphere and temperature, its own joys and miseries.

On Writing

Write poetry because it is a practice to sharpen your skills. Poetry forces you to come up with new analogies, similes, metaphors. Additionally, use poetry to clarify your thoughts and experiences. 

Novels, on the other hand, can be viewed as models for life and how to act. 

Almost all the prose works of fiction I have written are biographies of souls.

The focus is on the individual and his relationship to the world and himself rather than on plot, or creating suspense and so on.

An eager longing, a will to devotion, born of misery. And these are the prerequisites of everything great.

Any work, but especially creative, requires truth, accuracy, charm and neatness. Don’t overlook the details and the minute. If you are a careless writer, then the substance of the work can be questioned. You allow corruption into your work by being careless and overlooking the details. 

Respect for the material is what the author ought to feel, not the reader.

Lessons From Books: The Prophet

A hero’s journey has three parts. The journey starts with the call to action, where the hero leaves his known world and ventures into the unknown. The second phase is the adventure itself, which is full of trials and tribulations that result in inner growth and often with external reward. Last, the return home, the hero returns and shares his insight, new found knowledge, and his boon with his people. In The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, we find the central figure, Almustafa, The Chosen and The Beloved, about to start the last step of the hero’s journey and return to his isle of his birth. Before he departs, he shares the insight he has gained living in the city of Orphalese over the past twelve years. 

On Love

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him.

You don’t possess love but rather you follow it. When you give yourself up to love, you get both the highs and the lows. The highs of feeling loved, of loving someone, of carrying love within, but because you are so committed and vulnerable if that love leaves you or it diminishes over time, you feel heartache and sorrow which leaves you wounded. But you can’t have one without the other. You can’t truly feel love if you’re shielding yourself from the possible wound that may come with it. In a way, you know you’re in love if you’re willing to take on the potential pain that may come.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. 

Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Love requires a letting go. It requires trust. It requires obedience, so even when you’re hurt by it, next time you encounter it, you follow it anyway because life is more vivid if you experience it with love.

If you want love’s light, then you need to accept its shadow as well.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

And ultimately, you have to love for the sake of love itself. To live with that feeling inside of you. It’s a choice that you must make.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

On Marriage

The point of marriage is to nurture each other to become the best versions of yourselves. It is not to take from the other to fill some hole inside of you and vice versa. When you come together, you don’t become one, but rather, you stand apart, as individuals, who help the other share the burden of life and with it, help with the maturation of the individual. 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

To be married means to become two capable individuals. Not two people who need each other to become capable. Each has to create a solid foundation for themselves. Two people can share one foundation. In a marriage, you help the other in strengthening their foundation, but don’t take from the other to strengthen your own. 

On Children

Your children are not your children.


They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.


They come through you but not from you,


And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Your children don’t belong to you. They belong to life. Your duty is to raise them for life. They are individuals, separate from you. With their own identity, likes and dislikes, passions and beliefs which may contradict with you but that is okay because they have to be themselves and not a version of you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,


For they have their own thoughts.


You may house their bodies but not their souls,


For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.


You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

Nurture the individual, don’t try to mold them. You are to provide your child with stability and allow him/her to leave that stability behind and go seek, find and create their own stability. Don’t burden your child with your own hopes and dreams, rather let them find their own and then guide them towards fulfilling them.

On Giving

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”


The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.


Who are you to judge who earns your giving? You take from nature, nature doesn’t judge you. You are truly selfless if you can separate your judgement from your giving.

On Working

For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

Life is about working. It is about moving, changing, progressing, acting. Everything on this planet is in motion and working. It is natural to work. All animals work. So dreaming about retirement, to be idle and passive is to go against nature. At the same time, you’re not obligated to work every day but you must have something to work towards. 

And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,


And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

To work is the dream. Hopefully, that attitude can apply to your career, but if not, then towards your hobbies and interests, towards your family life, your community, and society. Working always to build something better.

What It Means To Work With Love

And what is it to work with love?


It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.


It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.


It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.


It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,


And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”

On Joy and Sorrow

Joy and sorrow go hand in hand. The more you open yourself up to one, the more you open yourself up to the other.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.


And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.


And how else can it be?


The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

The duality of life. Often if you want to experience the highest joy, you have to open yourself up to the highest sorrow. Chasing your dream will bring you great pleasure, but failing to achieve it will leave you full of disappointment and pain. Being in love will feel better than anything, but losing love will cause sorrow unimaginable.

On Crime and Punishment

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.


But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,


So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

Each individual is capable of the highest virtue and lowest vice. If another man does something heinous, understand that you could have done that too. You are not special. In different circumstances and environments, you would have been that individual who commits evil. You are not above evil. Observe and learn from your fellow man. 

So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.

Don’t just condemn the bad action. See why it took place. You are not trying to justify the bad but rather, seeing how it could have been avoided. 

And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation.

On Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

Pain is associated with understanding. You feel pain when you think you understand something, but it turns out you are wrong. Although that causes pain, through it you gain a new understanding. So, pain isn’t something that should be avoided at all costs. It is a part of your progression. It is painful to have your ideas, viewpoints, relationships, dreams, habits, and beliefs challenged and even proven wrong. But through this pain, you make new ideas, viewpoints, relationships, dreams, habits, and beliefs which stand on sturdier foundations.

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

View pain like this and you know it shall pass. As the season’s turn, your pain will change. But also remember, joy follows this pattern too. So on joyful occasions, understand that it will pass and pains downpour will come. So, while you are in the moment, enjoy it. Both things are part of life and both things will not last. 

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

Only things you care about cause you pain. So, be careful about the things you care about. Ask yourself, are you willing to experience pain on its behalf? 

On Self Knowledge

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”

Much of life is about finding your way of life. The truth that works for you. Not universal truth, but a truth to satisfy your soul, your being. Your methods of living will not satisfy other people. Other people’s methods will not satisfy you. The sooner you understand that, the better. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of your precious time living someone else’s truth or trying to convince others to live your truth. 

On Friendship 

And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

On Good And Evil 

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Don’t lie to yourself.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.

Help others.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,

Don’t lie to others.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.

Have an aim.


You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,

You are only loitering and sluggard.

Good can also become evil through desperation. This is an important reminder. You never know what you are capable of until you are pushed to your limits. People are rarely evil from birth. It is often circumstances and their environment that cause them to do evil. Don’t just judge people who have done bad things, but try to see why they did it so you can know what you might be capable of doing and how to stop yourself from getting to that point. 

Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.


For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?


Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

Self Perspective 

You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.

This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.

To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.

To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.

Don’t harp on the negative, on the failures, or disappointments. Those things easily stand out and focusing on them too much can cause you to develop a negative self-image. The weak links of your actions can make you think you are weak too. Life is full of weak moments but it is also full of strong ones as well. Remember, you have achieved things, no matter how minute they may seem, but anything that required effort, hard work, discipline to achieve is something to be proud of. Cookie Jar. Those achievements are the strong links and focusing on them lets you know you are strong as well and that you can achieve other things that require strength. 

Lessons From Books: The Obstacle Is The Way

In the book, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday takes lessons from some of the most notable men and women throughout human history on how they overcame their specific obstacles and compiles them in one place. As the book title suggests, the book is about overcoming obstacles and Holiday believes we overcome obstacles through three critical steps: Perception, Action and The Will.

One thing that is stressed throughout the book is not to walk blindly through life. If you do, then you’ll be constantly thrown about. Instead, what you need are principles and frameworks that are specific to you so this can include working on a positive mindset, self-affirmations, set of reminders, principles to live your life by, being cool-headed and having self disciple like Rockefeller, building the habit of taking action and practicing to overcome your weak spots like Demosthenes, humility, endurance and compassionate of Lincoln, and so on.

By doing so, he shows what we require is a

Method and a framework for understanding, appreciating, and acting upon the obstacles life throws at us.

The following are lessons to help build that framework.

Lessons:

On Perception

Perception plays a key role in overcoming obstacles. Our perception can aid an obstacle in becoming an obstacle. Also, “through our perception of events, we are complicit in the creation—as well as the destruction—of every one of our obstacles.”

There is bad perception and good perception. Bad perception comes from being emotional, subjective, and shortsighted. If you cannot perceive the obstacle in the correct manner, then overcoming them becomes difficult because your aim/method will be wrong. It’s not about the obstacle, it’s about our reaction and attitude towards it. A failure to one individual can be critical, but the same failure to another can propel them onwards because they perceived the failure correctly and didn’t add to it with their own emotions or attitudes. 

A good person dyes events with his own color…and turns whatever happens to his own benefit – Seneca

You can’t see the opportunity if you can’t control your emotions and are subjective and impulsive. Every situation is an opportunity to prove your worth, to better yourself, to practice virtue or discipline, but the right perception is required.

Desperation, despair, fear, powerlessness—these reactions are functions of our perceptions. You must realize: Nothing makes us feel this way; we choose to give in to such feelings.

Fear and panic are two emotions that breathe life into bad perception. If your decisions are rooted in fear or caused by panic, then you are most likely creating further obstacles.

The perceiving eye is weak; the observing eye is strong – Miyamoto Musashi

Practice objectivity when you can. Acknowledging an event happened is objective, believing that event was bad, is subjective. Besides, your problem isn’t unique. People have tackled the same problems for centuries, find examples of how people overcame your situation.

That we are scared of obstacles because our perspective is wrong—-that a simple shift in perspective can change our reaction entirely.

Have A Clear Vision

Work ethic combined with vision gets things done. Vision provides the aim, the target, and the work ethic provides the movement towards that target. Some people have poor vision because they believe in the obstacle more than in the goal. You are conceding to the obstacle before you even attempt to overcome it. We can relate vision to the importance of belief. You have to believe that you can overcome whatever obstacle is in front of you and achieve your goal. Once that is settled, then you can create a plan of action that achieves your goal.

Take Action

The right and effective actions are made up of deliberation, boldness, and persistence. The action is performed in the service of the whole. The whole is the goal. So, the small steps, movements, efforts, habits, what may seem like insignificant choice of discipline, all add up to the completion of the whole. It all moves you towards your goal.

A part of overcoming obstacles is ownership.

No excuses. No exceptions. No way around it.

No one is going to get rid of the obstacles for you. You have to do it yourself. This may require self-reflection and change of habits and mindset and/or making new habits, developing new skills, getting out of your comfort zone. Whatever it may be, the primary requirement is yourself and the actions or the inactions you commit. Make it happen; create the change. 

The start doesn’t matter. What matters is the momentum. So say yes and ask yourself: Could you be doing more?

On Persistence

Genius often really is just persistence in disguise.

Persistence is defined as a firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Life is hard. Achieving your goals is difficult. There are and will be many obstacles in your way. These are facts that you have to accept. Your first steps will not work. Accept that reality. Accept the reality that many failures await you. Persist towards your goals anyway.

Working at it works. It’s that simple.

A way to persist is by living in the moment and controlling what you can influence right at this moment, which are your actions. Don’t be overly concerned about the end goal. There is a lot of room between the start and the finish. If you’re constantly thinking about the finish, it’s easy to get discouraged when that line seems like it hasn’t moved. Instead, in order to persist, focus on the small multitude of steps you have to cover before you can get to that finish. Do the right thing, right now, in the present moment. Don’t worry about the rest. Just one clean movement after the other.

Excellence is a matter of steps.

Concentrate on making the tough choices, the hard decisions, ones that will bring long-term benefits, ones that sacrifice short-term pleasure.

The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up – Chuck Palahniuk

Have Pride

It is cliche to say that you should try to do whatever job it is the best you can, but that really matters. Putting your best effort into what you’re doing, no matter how trivial, reinforces positive habits and mindset.

You are the sum of your actions.

These are the steps that will matter when you get a different opportunity. If you get into the bad habit of half-assed effort, then when you start your “dream” job, that habit will poison it.

But you, you’re so busy thinking about the future, you don’t take any pride in the tasks you’re given right now. You just phone it all in, cash your paycheck, and dream of some higher station in life. Or you think, This is just a job, it isn’t who I am, it doesn’t matter.

Foolishness.

Be Pragmatic

We spend a lot of time thinking about how things are supposed to be, or what the rules say we should do. Trying to get it all perfect. We tell ourselves that we’ll get started once the conditions are right, or once we’re sure we can trust this or that. When, really, it’d be better to focus on making due with what we’ve got. On focusing on results instead of pretty methods.

A form of self-sabotage is this need to have perfect conditions. Instead, you have to find the way despite your conditions.

Think progress, not perfection. 

Find the best approach to get the desired results. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t the “right” way. The way is the one that produces results.

Have a strategic approach to your goals. Don’t just have a goal out in the future, instead, break it down into smaller and smaller steps. Steps that you can put into action and will help you make progress.

The process is about finishing. Finishing games. Finishing workouts. Finishing film sessions. Finishing drives. Finishing reps. Finishing plays. Finishing blocks. Finishing the smallest task you have right in front of you and finishing it well.

The root cause of our dissatisfaction and failure to achieve our goals is our attitude and approach. Don’t have this fixed mindset where if you fail once you just assume that you’re not good at it or this goal isn’t meant for you. Instead, assess your performance and failure and approach again with a slight tweak. View your approach as a hypothesis. If the hypothesis fails, you have to make adjustments to it and run the tests again.

On Will Power

Will power means to have the endurance for the long haul. Your will is under your control and you can apply it when the going gets tough, which it eventually will because life has many difficulties. You will fail many times at attempting your goal but to keep on trying, that’s what it means to have endurance. 

One way to strengthen your willpower is through physical exercise. To put your body through tough regimens that will cause you to question whether or not you want to do it again. Every time you can overcome such thoughts and feelings, it will strengthen your resolve. 

We craft our spiritual strength through physical exercise, and our physical hardness through mental practice […] Many (Ancient Philosophers) saw themselves as mental athletes—after all, the brain is a muscle like any other active tissue. It can be built up and toned through the right exercises. Over time, their muscle memory grew to the point that they could intuitively respond to every situation. Especially obstacles.

Perseverance is another aspect of willpower.

Persistence is an action. Perseverance is a matter of will. One is energy. The other, endurance.

Staying power. It is by sticking your ass to the seat and not leaving until the work is done. It is the quality you need, along with discipline, to make progress in life. The ability to grind.

There are far more failures in the world because of a collapse of will than there will ever be from objectively conclusive external events.

Perspective Towards Life

Life is a process of breaking through these impediments—a series of fortified lines that we must break through.

Each time, you’ll learn something. Each time, you’ll develop strength, wisdom, and perspective. Each time, a little more of the competition falls away. Until all that is left is you: the best version of you.

Concentrate on making progress and not trying to hit the home run with each swing. The big swings and misses cause discouragement. Instead, live a purposeful life that consists of several small steps in the service of the whole.

Great Quotes:

What such a man needs is not courage but nerve control, cool-headedness. This he can get only by practice – Theodore Roosevelt

With the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You must never lower yourself to being a person you don’t like – Henry Rollins

Death makes life purposeful.

Behind mountains are more mountains – Haitian proverb

Cheerfulness in all situations, especially the bad ones.

To be great at something takes practice. Obstacles and adversity are no different.

Action, Action, Action! – Demosthenes

My formula for greatness in human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it…but love it – Nietzsche

Lessons from Books: The Magic Of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz tackles many fundamental qualities needed to excel in life. Qualities such as belief systems, positive thinking, discipline, taking action, overcoming fear, making relationships, setting goals, creating value systems, and much more are not only defined in a way to show their significance, but Dr. Schwartz also gives practical guidelines and practices to follow which will embolden these qualities in the reader.

The following are some of the main takeaways from the book.

Lessons:

The Importance of Belief

Belief works this way. Belief, the “I’m positive-I-can” attitude, generates the power, skill, and energy needed to do. When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops.

Belief is the initial step to taking action and is often the step many people lack because they cannot see themselves achieving their goal. If you lack the belief then you will never try to figure out how you can accomplish your goal. However, once you believe you can accomplish ‘X’, then you can ask:

How will you make this belief come true?

When you answer this question, you may realize that you are lacking in certain skill sets, or understandings, or developments, or relationships that you will need in order to turn your belief into reality. This is a good thing. It means there is a path towards achieving your goal. So, what was once just hopeful wishing can become a reality through your actions.

But if you lacked the belief in the first place, then you would not have been able to formulate a plan of action. You would not have objectively seen what is required to get to your goal.

Belief releases creative powers. Disbelief puts the brakes on.

Similar to the chain reaction that occurs when you believe, disbelieving also leads you to a path. But unlike the path believing creates, disbelieving shows you a path away from what you hope to achieve by giving you excuses and reasons not to work for your potential future.

By disbelieving, you narrow your worldview, and with it, you narrow your potential. The easiest thing in the world is to find reasons not to work and sacrifice your present comfort.

Thinking does make it so. The fellow who thinks he is inferior, regardless of what his real qualifications may be, is inferior. For thinking regulates actions. If a man feels inferior, he acts that way, and no veneer of cover-up or bluff will hide for long this basic feeling. The person who feels he isn’t important, isn’t. On the other side, a fellow who really things he is equal to the task, is.

How To Overcome Fear

The old “it’s-only-in-your-mind treatment” presumes fear doesn’t really exist. But it does. Fear is real. Fear is success enemy No. 1. Fear stops people from capitalizing on opportunity; fear wears down physical vitality; fear actually makes people sick, causes organic difficulties, shortens life; fear closes your mouth when you want to speak.

You can find reasons to avoid your fears. One way to do that is by thinking it’s all in your head. This type of thinking avoids fear because you never confront it. What you need to do is take what causes you fear and give it life. Take it from the abstract and write it down on a piece of paper. This way you know exactly what is causing you to fear and once you know that you can make an actionable plan to overcome it. 

An exercise such as Fear Setting can help you practice how to confront and overcome fear.

Two interconnected ways to overcome fear are confidence and action. Often your fears arise from a feeling of inadequacy. Thinking that you aren’t up to the task or don’t have the ability to achieve your goal. This goes hand in hand with action because typically, the lack of action creates self-confidence issues which results in second guessing your capabilities and giving power to your fears.

All confidence is acquired, developed.

Action is vital to living a good life. Through action, you can build confidence because as you achieve things, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, the achievement creates positive momentum which can lead you to overcome bigger fears. It can work the other way around too. You can almost delude yourself into believing that you can overcome fear and then create a plan that does so. When you act, then what seems like this big scary monster comes undone and you can pick it apart slowly. 

Action cures fear.

Ask yourself: “What kind of action can I take to conquer my fears?”

By asking this question, you can then isolate your fear and make it easier to build a plan around it. 

Growth Through Self Reflection

Practice adding value to yourself. Conduct a daily interview with yourself. Ask, “What can I do to make myself more valuable today?” Visualize yourself not as you are but as you can be. Then specific ways for attaining your potential value all suggest themselves.

This is where keeping a personal journal can be helpful. You can use the journal as a daily interview, almost as if it is the journal pages ask you questions such as:

How can you improve from yesterday? What did you do yesterday (or the past week/month) that you disliked? What is one habit you want to change? What is one habit you want to implement? How can you make progress in your work? How can you improve your relationships? What is one dietary change you want to make? What are your workout goals? What can I do to make myself more deserving of the next opportunity? And so on.

In reality, answering any one of these questions one time won’t result in a grand change. But the process is important. Repeatedly thinking about these questions and answering them. Most of the time you require hundreds of repeatable actions before you see change. So, consistently answering self-reflective questions will slowly change your trajectory towards the potential individual you wish to be. 

Journals can also help with self-criticism. However, there is a proper method to being self critical. You don’t want to be overly negative and belittling towards yourself. That will damage your confidence and momentum, but at the same time you want to hold yourself accountable.

Don’t, of course, try to find your faults so you can say to yourself, “here’s another reason I’m a loser.” Instead view your mistakes as “Here’s another way to make me a bigger winner.

Practice positivity even when you are dissecting your mistakes and actions. After all, any improvement you make will move you towards a better version of yourself so the outcome is positive, hence, the view should be positive as well. 

Comparison can also be a good way to reflect and be critical. Once again, you don’t want to compare yourself to others in a way that damages your psyche. But if you pick four or five individuals who are successful in parts of life where you’d like to be successful as well, and this doesn’t have to be work, it can be health, relationships, hobbies, you can then compare your attitude, beliefs, habits, actions, mindsets to these individuals and see how you differ and what changes you can bring about that will align you more towards these individuals. 

Take Care of Your Mental Diet

The body is what the body is fed. By the same token, the mind is what the mind is fed. Mind food, of course, doesn’t come in packages and you can’t buy it at the store. Mind food is your environment—all the countless things which influence your consciousness and subconscious thought. The kind of mind food we consume determines our habits, attitudes, personality. Each of us inherited a certain capacity to develop. But how much of that capacity we have developed and the way we have developed that capacity depends on the kind of mind food you feed it.

In order to be physically healthy, you need a well-balanced diet. Keep your fats, carbs, and sugar in check. Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Fasting has important benefits to the body and as do well-timed cheat meals.

The same principles apply to your mental diet. Make sure you’re not consuming too much junk, such as mindless forms of entertainment or web browsing. Have a well-balanced mental diet which can include fiction and non-fiction books, documentaries, varied forms of news intake, and even taking classes on subjects you find interesting. Similar to how you would lower your sugar intake to a specific level, you can lower your social media consumption to perhaps two ten-minute breaks a day. View fasting breaks as disconnecting from the internet or television. But don’t forget to give yourself a break and cheat by watching your favorites shows or reality television in a structured manner. 

Effort Before The Reward

You don’t get a raise on the promise of better performance; you get a raise only by demonstrating better performance. You can’t harvest money unless you plant the seeds that grow money. And the seed of money is service. Put service first and more takes care of itself.

Your work comes with a degree of faith. Faith that someday your efforts will produce the fruits that you desire. But you cannot expect the fruits of your labour before you put in the effort. In today’s climate, where it seems as if people can become rich and successful overnight, especially because of social media, you can get this false sense of obligation. As if you are obligated to the reward right away. That if you put in a few hours, you should see an uptick in your bank account or likes and follows. But that mindset is not correct because it puts the rewards before the effort. Work for the sake of the work.

Reminder: The work is the dream.

Always give people more than they expect to get.

Be About The Action

Being active is a mindset that can be built, and for there, the habit of acting comes. When you create a resolution to be active, your mind gets ignited to think of ways to accomplish goals and to take action. 

A lot of times your inactivity stems from fear. You are afraid to fail, get embarrassed, be disappointed so you choose the option that will avoid that potential outcome, which is inactivity. However, passivity only avoids short-term suffering but compounds long term suffering as you come to live with regret and think about the “what ifs” all your life. And evidently, the thing that can cure your fear is the very thing you are avoiding: Action.

Use action to cure fear and gain confidence. Here’s something to remember. Action feeds and strengthens confidence; inaction in all forms feeds fear. To fight fear, act. to increase fear—wait, put off, postpone.

Verbalizing and/or writing the worst-case outcome can help you make better decisions. Write what’s the worse thing that can happen if you choose to act, and if you do not act. Often when you write it down and accept the worst case, you realize it was more frightening in your mind. And that in reality, you can handle that potential outcome or at the very least you can prepare yourself to dull the impact of it.

Another way to make sure that you are focusing on acting is by creating routines and habits that lead towards action. You can rely too much on your mood or feelings. Everyone has said at least once in their life “I don’t feel like it,” or “when I’m in the right mood I’ll do it”. Having to rely on something that can change at the whim of the moment isn’t exactly the smartest thing. Instead, have to remind yourself that you’re ready to go right now, that you can work now. 

Action must precede action. That’s is a law of nature.

Routines that lead you towards your primary task are actions that will create actions. Think of them as warm-ups or stretches before your principal work. Let’s say you want to be more active in the morning, then a simple action that can lead to more productivity is having your alarm clock away from your bed so that you have to physically get up to turn it off. This makes it easier to start your day because you are already up, rather than lying around in bed for twenty-thirty minutes after your alarm has gone off and now you have to rush through the morning. So the routine changes from hitting the snooze button to throwing your blanket off and leaving your bed right away.

Importance of Having Goals

Goals are as essential to success as air is to life. No one ever stumbles into success without a goal. No one ever lives without air. Get a clear fix on where you want to go.

View yourself as a business. Every corporation has things like a ten-year plan. What is yours? Not just for future goals but the future you. What characteristics, habits, routines do you see your future self having?

The person determined to achieve maximum success learns the principle that progresses made one step at a time. A house is built a brick at a time. Football games are won a play at a time. A department store grows bigger one new customer at a time. Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments.

This is why it’s important for you to figure out your personal, career, and health goals. Once you have the end goal or at least a future mark, you can then work on the little steps you need to take in order to get there. 

Do this: Start marching toward your ultimate goal by making the next task you perform, regardless of how unimportant it may seem, a step in the right direction. Commit this question to memory and use it to evaluate everything you do. “Will this help take me where I want to go? If the answer is no, back off; if yes, press ahead.

Great Quotes:

You must feel important to succeed.

Practice uplifting self-praise. Don’t practice belting self-punishment.

The success combination is do what you do better (improve the quality of your output) and do more of what you do (increase the quantity of your output).

But you can wager every cent you have the bricklayer who visualized himself as building a great cathedral did not remain a bricklayer.

Success depends on the support of other people.

We can try and try, and try and try and try again, and still fail unless we combine persistence with experimentation.