Make Fear your friend and ally

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Even the wisest people regularly make decisions that seem rational — but aren’t.

While we often think of ourselves as rational creatures, the bigger a dilemma is or the more important a dream is, the more our choices become clouded by fear.

Have you ever turned down an exciting opportunity and played it safe instead? Have you ever made a decision out of anger and ended up hurting someone you love? Have you ever gotten so stressed that you went into survival mode and started obsessing over tiny things instead of focusing on the bigger picture? Or have you had times where you became addicted to achievement and approval?

I have. And pretty much everyone I know has done so, too. There are many faces of fear and each shows up as a limitation — as a defect that distorts our decisions, sabotages our leadership, and holds us back from the things we most want in life.

However, we usually don’t notice this. Like an iceberg, 90 percent of our fears remain out of sight, stored away in our unconscious mind. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like trying to look through a layer of brown cooking grease that has been spread across a piece of glass, our hidden insecurities distort our vision and color our choices.

Instead of proclaiming themselves as such, our fears most commonly show up as innocent sounding statements that sound so reasonable — yet aren’t.

Looking deep within and in retrospect. I often caught myself on various occasions saying or thinking about the following words:

“I’m upset because…”
“I need…”
“I should…”
“I shouldn’t…”
“You shouldn’t…”
“You must…”
“I’m stressed because…”
“I can’t…”
“Yeah, I’d like to, but…”
“If I could just stop procrastinating, I would…”

Do you ever find yourself saying any of the said lines too?

If so, welcome to the human race. While each of these statements can be rational, I strongly believe that they’re almost always a sign that your choices aren’t clean, and that your decisions are being distorted by your unconscious fears.

For example, I often find myself saying things like, “I’m upset because I don’t have more money.” “I should be working harder.” “Yeah, I’d like to go on a long beach vacation with the family, but I just don’t have the time.”

And of course, “Honey, you don’t understand, I need to buy more gadgets!”

While these statements may sound reasonable, we truly need to recognize when they’re really just symptoms of our hidden fears.

While this may sound disturbing, it’s actually great news because the voice of fear can become one of your greatest allies — once you learn how to listen to it in a more effective way.

Of course, the contention of the matter always boils down to this: how to make fear an ally? 

I believe the answer would be, that is to always open your heart to meet fear fully. Just as good health requires a lifestyle of attention to diet and exercise, being at ease with fear requires an ongoing willingness to meet it directly. If you are receptive to whatever arises, as it is, you will find it does not matter if fear is present or not. Life is so rich. Every experience that arises is a friend, a gift, an invitation to break down your inner boundaries. Allow everything in always, and you will discover the peace beyond peace.

Photo source: quotefancy.com

 

Life is as you SEE it.

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The way you see your life shapes your life.

How you define life determines your destiny. Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships.

Being a youth leader back in my college years and occasionally, these not so previous years of sharing God’s word to other people, I always do get the chance to ask this question: “How do you see your life?” Asking that, you will discover that there are as many different answers to that question as there are people. I’ve been told life is a circus, a minefield, a roller coaster, a puzzle, a symphony, a journey, and a dance. People have said, “Life is a carousel: Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, and sometimes you just go round and round” or “life is a ten-speed bicycle with gears we never use” or, as I’ve also written in one of my posts here, “life is a game of cards: You have to play the hand you’re dealt.”

If I asked how you pictured life, what image would come to your mind? That image, if you will, is your life metaphor. It’s the view of life that you hold, consciously or unconsciously, in your mind. It’s your description of how life works and what you expect from it. People often express their life metaphor through clothes, jewelry, cars, hairstyles, bumper stickers, even tattoos.

Our unspoken life metaphor influences our life more than we realize. It determines our expectations, our values, our relationships, our goals, and our priorities. For instance, if you think that life is a party, your primary value in life will be having fun. If you see life as a race, you will value speed and will probably be in a hurry much of the time. If you view life as a marathon, you will value endurance. If you see life as a battle or a game, winning will be very important to you.

What is your view of life? If you got the time to reply, I’d be happy to read it in the comments below 🙂

As for me, life, basically and fundamentally, is as I see it, and I’ve dedicated large portions of this blog expressing my views about life (and living). Doors are open if you’d like a tour 😉

Photo credit: quotes4sharing.com

“I’m Busy”: said and heard it enough already?

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I’m not sure if this is a recent trend, but it certainly seems to be a growing one. Lately whenever I ask someone: “How are you?” the answer is a resounding, exasperated: “Busy!”

There is a glorification in the word busy – as if it is a badge of honor, something to be proud of. Does being busy mean that we’re important? Does it mean that we are in-demand? On the contrary, it usually means that we are overwhelmed, stressed out, and agitated.

Thomas Edison said: “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Busy connotes that we have not just a lot to do, but too much to do. While “busy bees” are focused on one task, making honey, busy humans are generally more scattered, trying to keep up while typically falling behind. When we’re busy we tend to have our attention divided in an effort to multitask and get things done.

For a moment, let’s put all that “busy” aside and consider how being busy affects our relationships. Since our first relationship is with ourselves, how does this “busy” label feel? Anything that follows the words “I am” defines us. Do you think a busy person is more valued or valuable? Is a busy person more worthwhile or worthy? Why do you choose to define yourself as busy? We need to deeply understand that we are not what we do. Being busy doesn’t justify your existence on this earth. Being busy is really a distraction that takes us away from understanding who we are. When we know who we are, so we don’t have to be busy, we can be fully present. We don’t feel busy, and we don’t feel stressed. Instead we feel present, calm, and self-controlled rather than externally controlled by the many tasks and activities we have taken on.

Being busy affects our relationship with those around us. When we say: “I’m busy” the person we are talking with most likely will take this as: “I’m too busy for you. I have no time for you. My thoughts are elsewhere.” With that response, it’s easy to see how anyone would feel that the “to do” list has been given priority over the relationship. Those two words come off as dismissive – and even rude. “Busy” is a 4-letter word in more ways than one.

The truth is, we all have lots to do. Saying you’re busy doesn’t make you special. But being busy is really a state of mind. We don’t need to let all the stuff we have to do define us. We have a choice where we put our attention. We have a choice in how we prioritize things. We have a choice in how we spend our time and how much effort we put into anything we do.

So before we get into “busy mode” let’s consider where we are putting our attention. Are we too busy for our family and friends? I don’t think so. It’s not too difficult to take a pause for something, or someone, that is important to us. When we are asked how we are, that’s a cue to focus on what is right in front of us — that person, that relationship, that moment. Instead of saying “I’m busy” — replace that thought with “I’m present.”

When we say “I’m present” it sounds more like: “I’m here for you, you are important to me, and you have my undivided attention.” Now isn’t that better? When it comes down to it, we don’t remember all the things that occupied our time and seemed to be so pressing. But we do remember the people we love, and the moments we spent being fully present with them. And they remember that about us, too. That’s special, that’s what life is really about.

Photo source: https://www.inspiringwallpapers.net

 

Personal Luxury

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Luxury is not about money. It is about living a truly authentic life. Contrary to what you may think, luxury products were not created to drive revenue. They were created to help people live a more comfortable life. Today, thanks to technology, that level of comfort is more readily available to anyone who wants to embrace it. Not through some new gadget, but by just slowing down and enjoying the beauty that exists in a life simply lived.

Don’t think you have the time? Read on…

Living simply is not a new idea. It is as old as time. It is just that today’s simplicity is not the same as it used to be. Nor is the idea of luxury. Somewhere along the line people got distracted with the idea that having “more” was the same as having “better.” It is not. Just ask anyone wallowing in credit card debt. Ask anyone fighting to keep a job they hate to pay a mortgage they don’t want and a lifestyle they lost interest in long ago.

You see, true luxury is about authenticity, and you cannot create authenticity simply by buying more. Nor can you create it by buying the most expensive items or by trying to keep up with the latest and greatest that someone else told you was a “must have” for the season.

Luxury is not a matter of more. It is not even about less. True luxury is, and always has been, about creating an environment that liberates your aspirations. This means removing the distractions so that everything around you supports your life, the way you want to live it.

Do not mistake this for living a Spartan life or the life of an ascetic. It is not about reducing for the sake of reducing. Living a simple life is about removing the distractions that prevent you from being who they truly want to be. What remains is your own personal luxury. The idea of giving away everything you own in order to be happy might have worked 2,500 years ago, but today the journey of life is about discovering the right balance between work and play, people and things to help you create a life that is authentically yours — the life you were meant to live.

I know when I mention the word luxury some of you may picture a Patek Philippe Sky Moon watch or a Bentley Continental GTC. Others may think of a Chanel jacket or a private jet, but those things are baubles that, more often than not, end up weighing you down. They can get in the way of personal luxury if you let them. You see, true luxury is not found in a catalog. It is not about brandishing someone else’s logo. It is not about being the first to have whatever the latest marketing campaign is pitching. True luxury is a very personal idea. True luxury is about creating the life that you want to live. True luxury is about being authentically you and being able to liberate your aspirations in your own personal way. True luxury is about creating the right balance in your life so that you have time for the things that matter most.

Those watches and jets and cars and mansions all cost time, not just the time it takes to amass their asking price, but the time it takes to maintain them and to dote over them. They demand your time as you cherish them and adore them.

It is one reason that time has become the new gold standard. After all, there is only so much time in the world. More cannot be created. It cannot be sold or traded. It can only be drawn upon, and the less you waste on the distractions of life, the more you have to spend creating a life that is truly yours; and that is a true luxury few can afford.

Today, the world has 24/7 access to you through technology. Work has become a non-stop schedule, unbounded by office walls. Staying grounded in all of this is the only way for you to create a life that is authentically yours. Only when you find YOUR own balance can you create the kind of simplicity that you need to be happy. Regardless of how much money you have or how many baubles you might cherish, learn to simplify your life and you will learn the value of a minute. That is when you can begin to make every minute count.

The next time you think about spending or splurging, do not think about the money it will cost. Think about the time it will demand of you. Think about what you could have been creating in that time. Would it have been real relationships with the real people in your life, like family, friends and even yourself? Would it have been better spent refining your world in a way that supports, nurtures and helps you grow?

When you are able to see the objects in your life in terms of the time they demand, you will understand the true value of a 20-minute nap. You will understand what it cost you to be home so that you could hug your son or daughter, husband or wife. That is true luxury. That is the real reward that balance and simplicity afford.

In the end, success and affluence and luxury is not about showing off the latest gadget. It is not about having a bigger car or larger house. It is about being able to manage your time and your life, YOUR way.

Take the time to evaluate what is important in your life and let that be the guideline, not just for happiness, but for living a rewarding, successful, and yes, luxurious life.

Do you have a minute to do that?

CHANGE is neither a three nor a four letter word

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Change is an amazingly powerful and often times emotionally-charged word. Change can be a word that seems like such a great idea when directed toward someone else; i.e. how “they” can change in a way that will make your life better. At the other end of the spectrum, the word “change” can trigger fear and resistance in a split-second if someone says you need to do it. Or, it can be embraced and welcomed by choosing to move forward with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities change can bring to the quality of your life.

My whole life, I have been presented to a single element called change. Change occurs in many different forms and is carried out in many different ways. However, just recently, I have come to the realization that change can be the deepest of all subjects. I always assumed that change occurred when you moved to a new town or when you lost someone close to you. Those are elements to change, yes, but change doesn’t have to occur over a single dramatic event. It can just happen overnight when your brain determines it’s time to do something different.

For obvious reasons, people reject change. Especially people who are close to each other because they feel that this change is going to separate them and make them not as close as they used to be. They fight change until they force the person to change. It’s sad how this works, but in reality, it’s probably the single most reason why people change. The people we love, love us so much that they want us to remain the way we are forever. Forever is a long time and not one person can always stay the same. Sometimes if the people we love would just accept the change and go with it, they would understand where the change was originally coming from.

It’s dangerous to try to stop change and argue against it, especially if the person wants to change so much. The reason that somebody wants to change is usually not their choice, but a feeling that the person feels inside their head and heart. It’s almost like a celestial force is making you change and you have no say in the matter but you know you have to because your mental and physical attributes are commanding you to. Maybe the change isn’t the best change, but if you dig deeper, the person that you love and know isn’t really changing, they are just trying to find themselves and the one thing they need the most is the support of the people who they care about the most. When the people they care about the most dismiss their change as something unimportant and try to guard down everything by rules and regulations, the person they loved begins to change out of sadness that the one group of people he or she thought would understand, really has no clue. Maybe change isn’t always good or bad, as I was implying here earlier, but it could be looked at as something to help you grow. So just remember, if someone is changing, be there for them, offer your opinion but help them go through whatever they need to go through because they will do what they need to do regardless of the people that they really do love.

Daily dose of “G”

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When I was younger, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of “preposterously ridiculous” insincerity that one should reject. Considering the fact that we are in a universe that seemed to hurt for no reason and living in a world where children die of hunger every day, it just doesn’t make sense. When it comes to being grateful and thankful, it’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.

Being grateful is a choice. Some make the mistake of waiting to feel grateful rather than choosing to be grateful. Today, you are alive. You have the opportunity to enjoy your abundance, right your wrongs, cling to your hopes, rekindle your dreams or re-live your passions. You and me, we are alive and so be grateful we must and truly live.

The gift of life is the best gift we’re given every single day.

Leave or Love your Comfort Zone?

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We sit in our comfort zones every day … pretending that they’re there to support us.

When you strip everything back and bring it down to the bare bones, life is really just a ‘game’ that we play every day. Well, basically it is. Our lives pass us by and we have no idea. We continue to do the same things, day after day, while in a dark, hidden corner of our minds we secretly hope that things will change.

We tell ourselves (and others!) all sorts of stories about the things we are going to do – when we get a minute to ourselves – and then we go about our day adding as much ‘stuff’ to it as we can so that there is no time to think about the things we really want. It’s easier – and less traumatic – that way.

Why is it that as adults we complicate our lives to the extent that we just ‘have to get away’ or just ‘have to take a break’ for us to survive? It’s almost as if we’ve convinced ourselves that if we just get away we can recover enough to step back into our ‘normal’ life. We don’t ever stop to question where our lives are at, or why we’re so unhappy or under so much stress that we have to take a break before we collapse.

We simply, blindly accept that this is our lot in life – it’s what we do because ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’.

We’ve been fed the message that ‘someone out there is worse off than we are so we should be grateful’ and we turn this into the reason why where we’re at is OK. The reality is that we’re slowly killing ourselves or, if we’re lucky, pointing ourselves directly onto a collision course with chaos … simply because we don’t stop to recognize that there is another way. We accept less than we’re comfortable with because it’s the polite thing to do.

Most of us are programmed to exist rather than live our lives, and we find ourselves referring to our existence as our ‘comfort zone’. We spend our lives with our heads down, thoroughly enmeshed in the ‘stuff’ we’ve got going on. We very rarely raise our heads and look around for the possibility that life might have so much more to offer us.

We’re entrenched in playing our game, but most of us don’t even realize that we are the ones who make the game. Our social conditioning, and how we receive and internalize the messages we’re given, will determine how we set up the rules of our game. For most of us, our game is set up with harsh and critical rules and the game is made so complex that it is almost always impossible for us to win. Why, exactly, do we do this to ourselves?

We’re totally oblivious to the fact that, in reality, we have the power to obliterate the game by simply making the choice not to play any more, or to change the rules, or to change the purpose of the game, or even to start playing a completely different game altogether. Our challenge is to stop and realize that our comfort zone – our game – is usually set up in a way that is at odds with what we want from our life.

A lot of people will tell you that to get out of your comfort zone you have to make uncomfortable choices. It’s often said that you should ‘do something uncomfortable every day to help you eliminate your fears, and to experience rapid growth in your life’.

What if they’re wrong?

Why should we add more struggle to an already complex day? Most of us have had more than enough struggles in our lives without adding any more.

If you don’t want your comfort zone to kill you, take a step back and acknowledge that your ‘comfort zone’ isn’t actually all that comfortable. In fact, looking at it with honest and open eyes, it’s full of things you aren’t comfortable with: the daily grind, toxic relationships, jobs you hate, situations that clash with your values … and the list goes on and on. Then, take action from that realization. Take measurable steps towards the changes you really wanted to achieve in life.

Courage and discipline are words that are bandied around as being the source of great achievements. When we break our ‘stuff’ down into small chunks that we can tackle one step at a time, then it’s much easier for us to set our priorities and take small steps to achieving our outcomes. When we approach things in a simple way and have small, easily achievable tasks, then courage and discipline aren’t required anywhere near as often.

Life becomes simple, and more importantly, life becomes about simple steps that make us happy.