The Journey to Enlightenment

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“If you take a journey to the place that you are, you will visit many other places. And perhaps, when you find through some long experience that all the places you go are not the place you wanted to find, it may occur to you that you were already there in the beginning.”  ~Alan Watts

There are so many of us running, striving, stretching, searching.  Looking for purpose and meaning, looking for enlightenment.  Trying to find a way in, or a way out.  Trying to fix or improve ourselves. “If only I could get in shape.”  “If only I could control my temper.”  “If only I could be successful.”  “If only I had a little more money.”  Listen:  We have already arrived.  For starters, we live in one of, or perhaps the only, great concentration of consciousness in the universe, riding a small but fertile rock.  We are surrounded by trillions of companions, (some more sympathetic than others)  And while it is true that it is a world of suffering, all suffering (and each sufferer) comes to an end in due time.

Take a moment and rest in what you have.  In what is.  In who you are.

You are the Universe.  You are doing fine.

~Dadosaurus Rex

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Daddy Performs For the Neighbors; Yardwork; Happiness

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I Am The Sun

It’s Springtime, and there are all kinds of projects to be done (or more likely half-done) in our yard.  One such project involved the use of bricks as landscaping material.  As this particular project was in the “half-done” column, there were still a few bricks strewn about the yard.  My son, Stegosaurus (2.5 years old) had moved these bricks into a line, and was cautiously standing on the first brick, one foot on the brick, and one foot raised slightly above the ground.  We made eye contact, and the look on his face told me that some brilliant idea had just popped into his toddler brain.

He hopped down and said, “You stand on the brick.” I quickly obliged (This being my fourth two year old, I knew I really didn’t have much of a choice) and stood as he had, on the brick.
“Now sing.” he ordered.
“Sing?” I asked, “Okay…what would you like me to sing?”
The Planet Song.”

Stegosaurus settled in on the porch.  I cleared my throat and began.  Just as I belted out, “I am the Sun,” I noticed my neighbor walking by.  I was not too far from the sidewalk, and in plain view.  Stegosaurus (still on the porch) was obscured by a wicker rocking chair, and was also the only other person outside at the moment.  So there I was.  Balanced on a brick and singing (apparently) to myself.  I couldn’t bring myself to finish the song until the neighbor was out of sight.

What Is That!?

While we were outside, I took some time to clear off the bit of sidewalk that goes from the porch to the road.  When I had nearly finished, Little T-Rex (7) walked out and exclaimed, with both shock and excitement in his voice, “What is that!?” Pterodactyl (5) followed closely behind him and shouted, “It looks like…a walkway!”  I guess I had neglected the yard work for a little longer than I thought.

Setting An Example

I had a friend, who has recently passed, that I spent a good deal talking to about..well..everything.  I had once told him that I wanted my kids to be happy (Isn’t that what we all want?), and without missing a beat he asked me, “Well, are you setting a good example?” I had never thought of it that way.  But, just like anything else, if we want our children to be happy we need to model happiness.  We need to take care of ourselves, and we need to be aware of our emotions, habits, and thoughts, and their effect on our overall well-being.  The best way to have happy kids is to be happy ourselves.

How To Be Human

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Yesterday’s Post outlined my plan to focus on my own continued improvement.  The meat of the plan had to do with changing habits, removing the bad, and adding the good.  However, this is not something that I have done well with in the past.  I often set out to make changes, and start strong, but soon my will power runs out, and I am left in a far worse position than where I started.

Coincidentally, a friend shared with me yesterday a website that he has created called How To Be Human,  Which he described as “a self-help site that will deliver therapy-grade psychoeducation accessible to everyone.”  As a good friend would, I immediately clicked on the link to check out his creation, and it absolutely blew me away.

I have been on a mission to resolve my personal struggles. To live free of anxiety, depression, self doubt, shame and regret, to connect with those I care for, to live in the present moment, to feel and enjoy it, to think clearly, to sleep easily and fitfully, to breathe, to find balance in what I eat, to be comfortable in my own skin whatever that looked like, to not fear being confused and vulnerable, to be warm and caring, to be authentic to myself and others, to find joy, meaning and harmony in how I live, to love, to be happy.

Every step of the way I wondered “what’s the link? How do all these diverse goals hang together? There has to be a simple answer.” This series is that simple answer. It is all part of being human. I have spent the last nine years learning something I didn’t ever expect I’d need to learn, how to be human.

The Series has 11 modules, the first of which is called CHANGE.  The CHANGE module explains our ability to re-program our brains through learning, solution shaping, and enacting change.  It also covers factors that may derail attempts to change, and those that help to facilitate change.

That just so happened to be exactly what I needed, and It has given me a little extra guidance as I begin (once again) my journey to make the most out of life on this planet.

How To Be Human is written with a very easy to read style, while still being extremely informative and educational.  I can’t recommend this series highly enough, and I look forward to reading the second module MONITOR AND MOVE which is scheduled to be released on October 14th, 2014.

Thanks for reading folks.

Help Yourself First

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I want to help people.  I want to make a difference.  My goal with this blog is to create content that encourages people, motivates them, makes them think, and reminds them of what is really important.

In my estimation, there are two main steps in writing this kind of material, and I have all but ignored the first.

Step 1:  Change Your Own Life

This is not to say I haven’t been trying.  Every day I strive to become a better father, a better husband, and a better person.  I work on quitting bad habits, eating healthy, being happy, and staying organized.  I have made vast improvements, but I am still on the first leg of my journey.

How can I be so bold as to say “This is what you must do to be happy” or “This is what you must do to have good relationships” when my own life is in shambles, and my relationships are unsteady at best?  I may very well be speaking the truth, but only as a spectator.  I might be giving good advice, but if I have not fully experienced the change in my own life, how can I speak it with confidence and authority?

So, going forward, I will be focused on my own continued improvement, until I reach a point when I am comfortable taking on Step Two (Using What You Have Learned To Help Others)

Plan Of Action

  1. Evaluate my current situation
  2. Find out what’s working, and what’s not
  3. Make a list of negative habits (over-eating sweets, losing my temper, spending too much time on social media, et cetera)
  4. Make a list of positive habits (Eating fruits and vegetables, meditating, exercising, and so forth)
  5. Choose one habit each month to work on, until I run out of habits, and thus become superhuman
  6. Save the world (or something)

Accountability

I have found that accountability is a very strong motivator for me.  So (whether you like it or not) you all are now officially a part of my accountability team.  Help me stay on track, and don’t be afraid to tell me when I am going astray.

I am probably breaking blogger etiquette by doing this, but if you made it through this post, and you’re willing to help me out, go ahead and leave me a comment or a “Like,”  just so I know I have your support.  I promise I’ll never ask again.

Thanks for reading.

Is It Reasonable to be Happy all of the Time?

HappyOver the past few years, I have begun to understand that happiness is not a destination.  There will be no point in my life when I look around and say, “Yes, all is in order, perfection is achieved,” and commence to live “happily-ever-after” as it were.  I have also learned that happiness that is dependent on outside circumstances is a frail, fragile, and temporary happiness.

Armed with this knowledge, I set about to find a deeper happiness, one that is not swayed by the turning of events, or eroded by the passage of time.  A happiness that comes from deep within oneself, and remains steady through various circumstances.  In this journey, I have encountered an unexpected enemy.

Guilt.  How can I be truly happy, when there is so much suffering in the world?  Even in my own town, and in my own family?  What kind of monster would I be to slap a silly smile on my face in the midst of horrid atrocities?  Famine, disease, war, rape, murder, oppression, genocide:  and I am…happy?  And as I write this post, I realize, I am not searching for happiness, though that is what I call it.  I am searching for an anchor, for steadfastness, for stability, and for peace.

So, there is no more need for guilt, because I am not laughing in the face of suffering, I am looking for a way to stand strong in diversity.

Learning From Trees Part 1: Grow Like A Tree

“For a plant or stone to be natural is no problem, but for us there is some problem, indeed a big problem.  To be natural is something we must work on.”  ~Shunryu Suzuki

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”  ~Hermann Hesse

What better place is there to learn about naturalness, than nature?  Over the past year, I have spent much time contemplating nature.  Watching, listening, observing, and meditating.  I have learned a lot, but I have to admit, I am a bit jealous of the birds, moss, and trees.  What makes it so easy for them to be natural?  They don’t even have to think about it!  To say that a tree is behaving naturally is redundant.  Of course it is natural, its a tree!  But what does a tree actually do?  And how can we learn from it?

Continued Growth

The first thing, and most obvious I suppose, is that a tree grows.  And it never stops growing, even when it is old.  In the same way, we can continue to grow and develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, up to our dying day.  Not being content to stay where we are, but always deepening the roots of our understanding, and broadening the trunk of our wisdom.

Overcoming Obstacles

A tree never asks permission to grow, and as it tree grows, it can break through cement, or consume barbed wire.  Its strength lies in patience, slowness, and indifference.  A tree neither attacks obstacles, nor avoids them, but simply grows according to its nature, and if a sidewalk or a fence is destroyed in the process, so be it.

No Regrets

It is also interesting to note that while the most recent growth is nearest to the surface, and is the part of the tree that is alive, it is the growth from years past that becomes the heartwood, and holds the tree up.  It does not regret its past form, or failures from years ago, but builds on them, and uses them as a source of strength.

Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” ~Herman Hesse