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How to turn suffering into success
Using the power of your mind to get the life you want.
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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.
Desires. Ambitions. Goals. Inspiration. Dreams. Motivation.
Doubt. Fear. Worry. Failure. Regret. Anxiety. Depression.
Emptiness. Oneness. Clarity. Peace.
I didn’t make any specific new years resolutions this year, but I did look at the coming year as a clean slate, a new opportunity, and a fresh start. And I have to tell you, my burst of “New Year Motivation” lasted nearly to March, which is way longer than usual. I was getting things done around the house, keeping up with my obligations at work, and feeling good about myself in general. I spent zero time on social media, and could rarely be found wallowing in depression and self-loathing.
Well, now its April, and here I am blogging when I am supposed to be working. My motivation has left, and in its place is incurable laziness. It’s making my work more difficult, making my home life more difficult, and really dragging me down emotionally. and I just can’t seem to shake it. I can’t seem to get back on the inspiration bus.
Part of the problem may be that I have no clear aim in life. No ultimate goal or direction. Or maybe its the constant nagging feeling of meaninglessness, or fear of failure. But I’m not completely without hope, because this is just one part of a cycle I have been repeating for years, and soon enough I will be back on top, getting things done, and making stuff happen. Another reason I am hopeful, is that I have been consistently working to stretch out the periods of inspiration and productivity, and slowly abbreviate the lazy lump periods.
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you
don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or
less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have
problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will
grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive
effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason
and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no
reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you
understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
There are a lot of things about myself that I would like to change. My eating habits, my organizational habits, my tendency to put things off, my fear of failure. I have been going about the process with the idea that I just need more self control, or I just need more grit, or a commitment, or a magic word, or a rubber band around my wrist that I can snap every time I reach for a brownie. And while these can be good things, they aren’t really working for me. In fact, they never have. Why then, would I continue to use methods that do not work? Because I believe they work. I have written them into my story.
From the moment we are born, we are writing a story, the story of our perception of reality. This story covers every aspect of our lives, and answers questions such as “Can people be trusted?” “Am I worth loving?” “What is Truth?” “What is Justice?” or “What will it take to make me happy?” Most of the important questions are answered before we even know we are asking them. Each of us has written a unique story, and none of them are perfect reflections of reality.
In the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant, each man experiences a different part of the elephant, and each man comes away with a different idea of what the elephant is, and what it’s for. Each man possesses the same amount of truth regarding the elephant, but what they have to gain from each other is perspective. So it is with our stories. None is any more or less true than the other. We do not need to seek truth from others, we have it within ourselves, but what we do need to seek is perspective. With understanding, and without judgement, there is much that we can learn from our fellow humans, about life, and about ourselves.
But other people are not the only ones who need our understanding. We need to stop judging and blaming ourselves. There is a reason for our behavior, and if our behavior needs to change, it is easier done with love and understanding than with any amount of self control.
Last week, I came to the conclusion that if I was going to help others, I would have to Help Myself First. The plan was to create some new good habits, and to quit the old bad habits. Sounds like a good idea. Well, I was trolling my old blog, and found that I had come to the same realization just six short months ago. I made a plan of action, which involved meditating, exercising, and free-writing for 10 minutes a day each, and let me tell you it was not successful.
What Went Wrong?
So, why did I fail?
- The changes were too big
- I took on too many habits at once
- I didn’t commit to a certain time of day
- I had no accountability
- I did not have any reminders or habit triggers
So this time, I am committing to exercise vigorously for 2 minutes upon rising in the morning. I will also be placing a little sign that says “Exercise” on the bathroom mirror (one of the first places I look in the morning).
It may seem unimpressive, but I would rather have a one humble goal that I can achieve than a hundred impressive goal that I will never accomplish.
(From “Do You Believe That?” on 4-10-14)
I have been reflecting lately, on the purpose and meaning in life. I have found that, no matter what you believe, the ultimate calling on our lives is to help others. There is nothing more fulfilling than positively impacting the life of another human. to give them something that they could not have attained on their own.
However, in order to effectively help others, I must first help myself. If my life is a wreck, and I have no direction, and no clue how to handle my own situations, how can I ever hope to benefit another person. But how do I help myself? I would say, the first step is to learn about myself. In doing this, I will be learning about all human life, as we share the same desires, the same fears, the same ambitions, and the same needs.
In an effort to accomplish this, I have started three new habits: Meditation, Free-Writing, and Exercise. I plan to do each of these every day for 10 minutes a day, for at least the next month.
In our fast paced society, we do not often take time to sit quietly with ourselves, and just observe our own thoughts. There is always something flashing, making noise, moving around. We live in a world of constant distraction, and do not get the opportunity to just be. Meditation is a great opportunity allow the world to simply turn underneath us, with no worries, being confident that, at least for now, the earth will take care of itself.
When I meditate, I do worry about perfect posture. I simply sit in a relaxed position, and focus on my breathing. I do not worry about emptying my mind. If a thought enters my mind, I acknowledge it, let it go, and go back to my breathing.
I have found this to be very relaxing, and a big stress-reliever. It releases any thoughts that have been weighing on my mind, and helps me to expound on ideas for projects and articles. I hope this will help me to be able to express myself more freely and easily when I write, as well as helping me to learn more about who I am.
In my search for self-awareness, I not only want to become more familiar with my mind, but also my body. Exercising regularly will help build discipline, and help me to be aware of my physical body. I have not started this habit yet, but when I do, I plan to keep it simple. Running, walking, yoga, anything that will get me moving, and increase my physical self awareness.
Thanks for reading, folks.