My job = To find my purpose on this earth and live it.
About 13 (August, 2000) years ago I left my home town in Virginia on a quest. I was spending most of my free time getting drunk, taking advantage of my parents kindness and free rent, as well as pushing away the people in my life that were willing to help me. I was doing absolutely nothing to contribute to either my own well-being or that of the world as a whole.
I needed a change, so I left.
Call it running away if you want but it was something that needed to be done. I was headed west to Southern California.
Eight years later (2008) I finished my Masters Degree from the University of San Francisco. I had just spend 40,000 dollars to tell me exactly what I didn’t want to do with my life.
The eight years I had been gone from Virginia and on my own were easily the most influential years of my life. I had finished both my undergraduate and graduate schooling, started reading (up until the age of 21 I had never read a book from beginning to end), was exercising consistently and eating right, building personal relationships, living on my own and providing for myself. I was on my way… or so I thought.
Although I looked aesthetically fit my health at the time was poor. I was exhausted both physically and mentally from school, working two jobs, and dealing with a long-term relationship that had ended a few months earlier due to my life long battle with vulnerability and failure to commit to anything.
My personal finances were a mess. I was in debt because of impulsive spending based on the idea that more “things” would create more happiness in my life. I was a mess, I had so many questions about who I was and what the hell I was doing.
I was too embarrassed to ask for help from my parents, friends, or other loved ones mostly because of my stubbornness. I had never asked for help before, I didn’t even really know how to do it. I needed a break, a chance to hit the reset button and start from scratch. I knew I had an interest in seeing more of the world and what it had to offer, so I figured this was as good a time as any to start traveling. So I did, I booked a trip around the world that would take me from:
Los Angeles, California – Tokyo, Japan – New Delhi, India – Bangkok, Thailand – Cairo, Egypt – Paris, France
In the spirit of my favorite show of all time LOST, lets flash forward back to my graduation from grad school. This was it right? I was done with school, I now could land that big gig and start living the life I was supposed to be living. The only problem was when I got to this point I realized I had never asked myself if this is what I really wanted.
And as it turns out it wasn’t.
I wasn’t ready for the kush job with the nice salary, the committed relationship, the house, the car, the conventional routine. I wasn’t ready to fall into line and start the march towards traditional living. I had too many adventures I still wanted to seek out, questions to ask, trials and errors to make, experiences to partake, and learning to do.
What was I suppose to do? I knew I wanted to become the best version of myself. To really start to close that gap between what I was capable of and what I was currently doing.
So what I started doing was asking better questions.
When I set out on my trip that was my goal, to get into my head and figure what it really was I wanted out of my life. I also figured that this was the best way for me to contribute to the world as a whole.
So from August 1st, 2008 until now I have been on a relentless pursuit towards becoming the best version of myself. During this time I have read a countless number of books, participated in a number of personal development courses, and even went back to school to study Optimal living (Big ups to Brian and the Entheos crew).
During this time I have kept a few notebooks and journals to document the process. I thought today would be as good a day as any to share some of the goodness with you
I hope that you find it as valuable as I have during your own journey.
BIG TRUTH #1: THE RESULTS IN YOUR LIFE ARE A REFLECTION OF YOUR THOUGHTS
It’s common to think that you’re in one spot of your life when actually you are entirely in another. That’s exactly what was happening with me. I was suppose to be settling down a bit and starting my walk down the traditional path life is supposed to take us on.
Subconsciously I knew something didn’t feel right but I never took the time to ask myself what’s working and not working for me in my life – Physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.
I was in a fearful (dear in headlights) mindset instead of an action oriented one.
For example when I thought about money and finances I would always tell myself “I can’t afford it” as opposed to asking myself “How can I afford this.”
I want you to think of one area in your life right now that you may be doing this. Whether it’s your health, career, or a certain relationship. Where are you telling yourself you can’t, are not worthy, don’t know enough, or are not ready?
Ask yourself what you can do to get there?
Research in now coming out showing us just how important your mindset is in determining your success in a wealth of areas. Negative emotions actually can program your brain to perform specific actions. Sometimes these actions are good, like telling you to jump out-of-the-way of a moving vehicle so that you don’t get run over. Your noodle is turning of all receptors to the world so that you can focus on this one task of getting the F out of harms way. You’re brain wants to keep you safe… thanks brain 🙂
But how often have you had to jump out-of-the-way of a moving vehicle? I’m going to say not many if any at all?
Here is where a few problems arise. You’re brain often responds in a similar fashion when dealing with common stressors and discomforts of everyday life. So when a long-term relationship ends, you look at your to-do list for the day and it looks like a copy of In Search of Lost Time, slip up on your diet over the weekend by eating a single cookie, or miss a workout and you start telling yourself that’ you’re not good enough, don’t have the willpower, or can’t do it you end up focusing the negative emotions associated with those feelings because they; much like jumping out-of-the-way of a moving vehicle, are the fastest way to deal with those emotions.
Prioritizing bad over good acts as a survival mechanism to help keep us safe. The problem lies in that we do it with the most trivial of experiences. What might feel like a gigantic burden on event in our lives is often just a blip in the radar screen in the grand scheme of things.
You gotta start thinking more positive.
Author and scientist Barbara Fredrickson has shown that positive emotions actually serve two gigantic purposed in our lives (1):
- They expand our perception of the world, creating more opportunities, creativity, joy, and options.
- They cumulate over time, allowing us to build up emotional strength, power, and resilience. So basically you get better at dealing with the tough stuff.
“…Dr. Fredrickson has spent years researching and publishing the physical and emotional benefits of positivity, including faster recovery from cardiovascular stress, better sleep, fewer colds, and a greater sense of overall happiness. The good news is not only that positive attitudes—such as playfulness, gratitude, awe, love, interest, serenity, and feeling connected to others—have a direct impact on health and wellbeing, but that we can develop them ourselves with practice…” (adapted from taking charge)
If you wan to start thinking more positively (and by now you should be convinced how important it is 🙂 ) You have to start practicing. Here are a few things you can start doing today.
5 ways to change your mindset.
Journal like a boss: If you want to start eliminating negative thoughts you first have to be aware of them by catching yourself in the act. Carrying around a small little notebook (one that fits in your pocket) or using the notes function on your phone can serve this purpose. Jot down those negative thoughts when you think of them or they pop up in your head. You can also use a buddy to catch you in the act while in conversation. If they here you putting yourself down, doubting your ability, or questioning yourself they can call you out.
Bookend your day with it: There was a study conducted in the Journal of Research in Personality that examined how ending your day by consistently writing about a positive experience influences your mood, health, and outlook on life. Out of the two groups that participated in the study those that wrote about their positive experience each day were in a better mood had less frequent trips to a health care specialist, and had fewer diagnosed illnesses.
Spend some time breathing and in thought: I can personally attest to the power of meditation. It is maybe the one habit I have practiced in the past that has helped me to develop are more positive mindset and outlook on life. In a psychology today article research has shown that in as little as 9 meditation session (15-30 minutes long) over a 5 week period will impact the frontal regions of your brain associated with a more positive outlook on life, action oriented mindset to improve emotional sates, and clearer thinking. I’ve written about my experiences and how to build the meditation habit here, here, and here.
Ask better questions: If you notice that you’re telling yourself you can’t do this, are not good enough for that, I can’t afford that flip it by changing those statements into questions. “How can I do this?” What steps can I take to help me better understand?” “How can I afford this?” This gets your mind action oriented fast.
Make time for the good stuff: I’m as bad as anyone about not making enough time to just “play.” I love the work that I do but an often get too wrapped up in it, prioritizing it above all else in my life. I’m sure some of you do this with other certain tasks in your life. Schedule time each week or even a few minutes every day to play, have fun, watch a silly video, or enjoy a good conversation with someone near and dear.
Do me a favor though would ya? Don’t just read this stuff, nod your head, and say that makes sense. Actually apply it. Put the things that you’re learning into action and start making big changes today. Even if you think what I’m writing is a bunch of fools gold, go out there and put in some research and discover what’s working and what’s not and how you can apply those things.
Assess what’s working and what’s not working and then go out there and make the changes necessary to be the best version of yourself.
Nothing outside of you can cause your experiences. There’s not anything or anyone that can annoy, pressure, or bring you down. Only you can… you allow it.
BIG TRUTH #2: CREATE MORE WIN-WINS
A win-win doesn’t always need to be about you. Sometimes just being real about your losses is a win in and of itself
How do you win?
Seems like a loaded question right? Is it in beating an opponent? Is it getting a prize or award for an accomplishment? Or does Charlie Sheen have it right?
A win to me is in creating value. Value for yourself and to the lives of others. But how to you actually start creating more wins?
- You listen
- You share
- You be more honest (with yourself and with others)
- You foster more positivity and optimism
- You get excited more often
- You allow yourself to be more open
- You think
- You stay present
- You commit
- You believe
- You take action
- You trust
- You risk
- You get comfortable with the uncomfortable
You start getting more responsible for your own actions (blaming others and circumstances is not), you start believing that you’re capable of doing big things, and you start contributing to the betterment of others.
One of the big ways to create more win-wins is something mentioned up there in that laundry list of bullet points… LISTEN.
There are generally 3 ways in which we listen:
Agree with: The need to be right and look good
Disagree with: The need to be right and look good
To be with: The need to be present and open, notice reactions, pay attention to body language, and asking more why’s
Big tip: To start listening better, put the damn phone away.
How to be a better listener to both yourself and to others:
Don’t shut your mouth, instead open it with personal connection in mind: If you google the web about how to become a better listener you may run across some advice that suggests to close your mouth. I couldn’t disagree with this anymore. Listening provides you with the opportunity to respond to people in a way that can make a tremendous difference. Become a “hungry listener” by getting excited about hearing others ideas, perspectives, and insights. Encourage them to elaborate and explain if you do not understand something.
Don’t be a defensive listener: Make listening to learn your goal primary goal. Use it as a way to expand and broaden your horizons. If you go into a conversation expecting someone to try to tear you down or to do the same with others all you’re doing is putting blinders on to other solutions, creative ideas, and new experiences to help each other grow.
The big 3: Bernard Ferrari, the author of Power Listening: Mastering the most critical business skill of all-time suggests that there are 3 behaviors that lead to becoming a better listener. Respect, talk less than you listen (but don’t shut your mouth), and challenge assumptions. Let people know they have a unique and valuable voice, weigh in at the right time, and forget personal biases in order to understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Just because there is already a good way to go about something doesn’t mean that there isn’t another just as effective or maybe even better way.
GET YOUR GHANDI ON AND A HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
I say get your Gandhi on because I consider him a man of action and that’s what I want you to do. Take more action in life.
Just to reiterate, this is post one in a series of posts that will be titled Life’s big truths for phenomenal living. A new edition will be posted for the next couple of weeks.
I’d love to hear your thoughts by posting some of your ideas, theories, and opinions in the comments below or by emailing me directly.
Identify any self-limiting talk (ineffective thinking): and come up with three strategies that can help you eliminate it. Use the examples provided above like meditation, journaling positive experiences daily, or actively making time for the good stuff. Let me know your experiences and if you experience any noticeable changes in your life from the consistent practice.
Spend time becoming a better listener this week: How can you become a better listener to both yourself and others? To do this you actually have to participate in conversations with others. Schedule a coffee and conversation with someone you need to reconnect with or spent time getting comfortable with being alone. Get inside your own head and start asking yourself better questions and paying attention to your own answers. Here’s a few things you can throw out there when with a friend or when with yourself.
What are you (am I) being indecisive with in your (my life)? What are you (am I ) willing to risk in order to get where you (I) want to be? How can I better support you (myself) towards those goals? If you (I) had 1 billion in the bank what would you (I) be doing right now?
Some of you may be totally cool with this and some may find it difficult. But getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is one of the most important things any of us can accomplish in life. Why not start right here, right now?