I believe it is important to focus on the positives of life. There is so much beauty and wonder in this world to be grateful for and making a point to celebrate it all is a great way to live. It puts you in a state of constant appreciation and joy at having the opportunity to be a part of this big, wide, random chaotic world. But I also believe that you can develop a deeper appreciation for the majesty and the experience of life when you look at some of the deeper, darker truths that we cannot deny. If we are mindful and present when we are staring into the dark caverns of life’s terrible truths we have the opportunity to draw a whole lot of light from them. But only if we bring the right attitude and the right wisdom.
With that in mind, here are 6 terrible truths that we all must face in order to live a more meaningful life.
You will have regrets.
We all have our regrets. A lover never kissed. A chance never taken. A dream left to die. A road left to dust. Regrets can consume us and pile up, shadowing the future of our progress, but we don’t have to let regret be that desperate shade of mediocrity. Live bold. Do crazy things that scare the shit out of you. Never stay in your comfort zone for longer than it takes to catch a breath and dive back into the deep, terrifying waters of endless possibility and limitless experience. There are so many beautiful things and people out there and you seriously risk missing it all if you don’t start taking some chances. Make some mistakes. Get your hands, heart and mind dirty. Regret the things you do sometimes, but never come to regret not doing something. As Lucille Ball once said;
“I would rather regret the things that I have done, than the things I have not done.”
You will fail.
I have talked about how failure is actually a blessing in disguise, but in the heat of the failing moment it is easy to forget that little life lesson. The truth is, you are going to try something that is really difficult and you are going to fail and when you do you are going to beat yourself up over it. It happens to all of us, but we don’t need to keep dragging that failure around. Everyone has failed. It’s not something unique to you and that makes it normal. And if you are living with enough force and intensity, you will fail again. But not everyone learns from their failures and presses on again, adjusting and finally succeeding. If you are going to fail you might as well use it and learn from it, because that is the only thing that separates you from the rest of the failing universe. You will fail, but you do not have to be a failure.
You will get sick.
I hardly think about being sick, or the ensuing misery of a prolonged illness, until I am right in the middle of it. I never seem to appreciate my health so much as when when I am ill. We all get sick, and by remembering that terrible truth, we do a better job of trying to keep ourselves as healthy as we can. Exercise and eating right can go a long way in staving off illness and the more you keep the inevitability of sickness in your mind the more motivation you will have to stick to an exercise plan or to a healthy diet that will keep you healthier longer. Physical health is such an underrated component of a life worth living. The body has an enormous ability to affect the mind. The fact that we will become ill at some point should help us appreciate the moments that we are not, and should spur us towards doing whatever we can to keep our health about us.
You will lose someone you love.
Be it a death or a break-up, you will lose someone you love in your lifetime. If you are lucky, it will happen more than once. Yes, I said if you are lucky it will happen more than once. Why is that lucky? Because it means you had the courage to open your heart, again and again, and you were able to hold a whole heap of love inside of you despite the cracks and cuts. Losing a love reminds us that we are capable of love and to be capable of love is the greatest revelation we can bloom inside ourselves. Yes, in the heat of the moment, when a love is severed, it can cut your very soul, but time is the healer of all wounds and you will be able to love again and you can be sure of that because you were able to love in the past. Appreciate the lessons that the person you lost has taught you about yourself, about what you want out of life, and use that loss as a means to take action. Make that loss your gain.
You will be hurt.
Life is full of many hurts and it is inevitable that it will happen to you. Someone might cheat on you. Someone might abuse your friendship. Someone might steal from you. Someone is going to come around and do something that will leave you shocked and shattered, because you never expected that of them. It will happen a bunch and each time it will feel like a freshly opened wound that makes you want to seal up your heart in a tiny little box and throw away the key so no one else can ever get in there. It’s a natural reaction. But you can’t do that, because if you do you are going to miss a lot of really amazing opportunities for friendship, love and companionship. The best revenge against someone who has hurt you is to be extraordinary after they leave. Live a life that will leave them envious and small. Never stop putting your heart out there because most people are going to cherish it and you are going to meet some really amazing people who will help you do some really amazing things.
You will die.
The saddest and most liberating truth of life. We are all temporary things on a temporary world in a temporary universe. No matter your money, your status, your intelligence or your number of Facebook friends, you are going to die. And what’s more, you have no idea how much time you have left – anyone has left. You can let that eat at your soul and gnaw away the hours of your precious life with worry and sadness or you can come face to face with that truth and look it dead square it the eyes and say, “You can take me when you have to but before then I am going to make it count!” Death is not a sadness for the dead, it is only a sadness for those of us left, because we see it as the end of the things we can do.
Well, you are not dead yet and have the chance to do those things now! Use the inevitability of death as a motivator. A great, big, universal kick in the ass to do all of the crazy, amazing things you want to do in this world! Travel. Love. Get out of your comfort zone. Do the things you always wanted to do and stop putting anything off that you really want, because everything, and I mean everything, could be taken away from you at any moment.
Sometimes, the terrible truths are the ones we most need to face in order to move past the most difficult trials in our life. Sometimes we have to admit some painful things to ourselves in order to make the changes we know we need to make because pain has a way of driving us forward; of snapping us out of the numbness that living often expects towards a vitality that living so desperately needs. And oftentimes, when you face the darker truths of life, you can see deeper and farther than you ever saw before and with that vision comes a strength, and a knowledge, about where you want to go and who you want to be.
It’s up to you if you want to look at the terrible truths or not, but make no mistake, seeing them or not, they will find you. Will you be ready when they do?
For most of us, the way we look at love is a mix of awe, reverence, fear and hope. We see it as a thing that happens without our knowing – something that finds us and something we fall into. Most of us see love as this grand and beautiful fairy-tale that we experience without effort. Art has contaminated the mythos of love in that way. We read the poems, see the movies, or hear the stories and we move to recreate these epic, transcendent romances, never looking behind the scenes at the effort and struggle that is required to create these tales. It is a great and destructive myth that love exists in this facile, Hollywood way. There is so much more to love than this destructive delusion.
I consider myself a pragmatic romantic. I am open and flourishing with my declarations of romance when my heart moves towards another. But I also pride myself on my ability to be sensible and realistic in the face of love’s many great joys and obstacles. I have learned that love requires passion and practicality in equal measures to be truly successful. Love is a many faceted gem and, though I honor and admire the myriad angles of artistic love, I also take the time to notice the many other ways that we should cherish and explore it and this is what I have found:
Love as orientation
Love is an attitude. It is a position we take in relation to all other things around us. Love is not something we fall into, it is something we move towards with varying speeds and varying degrees of interest. Sometimes love comes on hard and fast, because we sprinted towards that source with blind abandon and sometimes, love develops slow and secret, like a puzzle being carefully put together in our hearts. No matter how it comes on, it can only be possible if we set our direction of life towards the ability to love. We have to be open to the possibility and to extend our hand and heart in that direction so that we will be ready when it approaches. If we are facing love when it comes we have a better chance of seeing it.
Love as discipline
Love is an effort. It is something that must be manicured and cultivated and honed and sharpened through hard work and diligent intention. Just as habits can be gained or lost through hard work or a lack of effort, the truest and most honest of love can be equally gained or lost through the pursuit or negligence of our efforts. And just as a well entrenched habit becomes less and less of a chore and simply something we do the longer that we do it, love practiced with discipline becomes a habit that is easy to maintain and is a simple, natural expression of our very being. Sometimes maintaining the discipline of love is hard, but the more effort we put into it the easier it will become.
Love as faith
Love is trust in the unknown. It is a blind leaping of your heart towards the heart of another. There is no net. You cannot know if they will catch you. You cannot know where you will land and in that unknown exists the excitement, trepidation, and beauty of all the possibility that love offers. You must have the courage and confidence to trust the intentions of another, as well as the self-esteem and integrity to trust your own intentions. You must be bold in the face of the unknown and you must overcome the narcissism of conviction that you know what is next. You must be willing to risk your hearts safety and security for the million unknown possibilities of love. Because love is always a foggy sort of weather, where you can lose sight of things right in front of you, and you must learn to trust the promises and intentions of another, with nothing in the way of explanation, if you are to blindly traverse the winding roads of love.
Love as awareness
Love is a presence. It is the constant and unrestrained awareness of yourself and the other. It is being in the moments of joy and difficulty with equal ease and to equal benefit to you and your partner. It is dropping your judgement of how you want things to be with someone and instead being present in how they really are. Being truly aware when in the presence of your partner allows you to perceive and relate to their emotions and views. This builds a greater level of connection and understanding. Awareness compliments communication and without both, there is little hope for lasting connection. As poet Alexander Smith once said, “Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and a delight in the recognition.” That recognition and that delight can only come through awareness.
Love as decision
Love is a choice. It is an agreement reached with your mind and your heart that the person you are pursuing is the piece that completes your puzzle. We would like to think that love is something that envelops us and leaves us with no opportunity to choose, but everyday that we stay with someone, that we love someone, is a choice that we make. Sometimes, when in the throes of passion, we think that we are shackled to the love we have created, but we always have the choice to stay or go. The strength of love is in the choosing. The fact that it is always something we choose makes it valuable and wholly ours. It is not something thrust upon us, it is something we pursue, and the way we pursue it makes all the difference.
Love as action
Love is an activity. It is not something to be passively experienced, but something to be actively created. You are not a submissive observer watching an already written story unfold, you are the lead actor creating the show and your role in it. You have a chance to be the heroic protagonist or antagonistic villain in your own love stories. Act accordingly. Love is movement – a growth of two individual vines. You have the chance to intertwine and grow with great strength, tearing down walls you would never have had the strength to tear down alone, or you can grow apart and tangle on other less substantial things. How you love will determine how you grow. Pursue your love as doing. Saying is not enough.
There are so many ways to look at love and so many ways that it manifests itself in our lives. It is impossible to distill the experience of it down into a few salient vantage points that encapsulate the enormity and personal reality of that experience. What I hope you take away from this writing are the many ways that we can appreciate, experience, and strengthen our ability to love – the ways that we can look at love in order to find it deeper and wider than before – because love is a fluid, changing thing and if you don’t find a way to relate to it properly you risk losing it, or even worse, never finding it in the first place.
Every day I wake up at 4:00 am. I jump right out of bed – bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to tackle the day. There is always a smile on my face and stars in my eyes. I know that every day will be an amazing blessing; filled with patience, peace, harmony and joy. I am always focused and moving forward and each day is always brighter than the last. I always accomplish everything I set out to do every day, because I am a perfect example of personal development. I workout every day. I read meaningful literature that advances my mindset every day. I am perfectly poised, confident, healthy and wise. I never waver. I never flounder. I never doubt and I never screw up. And all of this is complete and utter bullshit.
The truth is, I am constantly slipping between a state of confidence and disillusionment. I sometimes doubt my ability to move forward in my life. I over analyze mistakes and relive past failures. I give myself permission to do stupid shit I know I shouldn’t do. I get angry, impatient, depressed and closed off. And I look at myself in the mirror and wonder what sort of authority or ability I have to give anyone else advice about how to live a happy, productive, exceptional life.
Inevitably, if I stare long enough, I remember how far I have come and how much I have changed and I remember; I am not an imposter. I am not spouting off some fake shit that I don’t believe or practice or that hasn’t made such an enormous difference in my life. I am just a regular human being – perhaps only exceptional in my resilience – and this personal development journey is not a straight and wide path paved with gold, but a meandering, narrow passage of dirt and mud across the precipice of failure and success and doubt is par for the course.
Everyone who is trying to improve their lives, establish good habits and make a difference is going to have those moments of self-doubt and unsteady confidence. It is natural. We make great progress only to have it all wiped away by a bad day or a tragic circumstance. We fall back into old habits easily and we can become very critical of ourselves – doubting our drive, discipline, progress and ability. We feel like imposters in a world we are trying to create for ourselves and it undermines our efforts and all too often it pushes us to just give up.
Well, it doesn’t have to and here are some of the lessons I have learned walking this path and trying to help others walk it.
It’s ok to doubt yourself.
I doubt myself because I am usually doing or trying things I have never tried before. Establishing new habits, new ways of thinking, new means of thriving. I don’t know what success looks like sometimes and that makes me search for signs that I am on the right path. I see foreign landmarks on my personal development journey and I wonder if these are the things that should I should be seeing; if these are the signs that I am on the right path.
You are going to run into some things on your journey that make you question why you are trying to do some of the things you want to do and if you are on the right track. Some really important new habits are going to be a serious struggle and you are going to doubt you can handle them. But you can. You want to. You need to. Because discomfort, doubt and struggle are the true signs of that you are on the right path to progress in your life. You chose to undertake these struggles and changes for a reason. Revisit those reasons frequently, and let occasional doubt be a normal part of the journey. An expected road sign that signals you are on the right path, but one that you never follow on a tragic detour.
Nobody gets this right all the time.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is getting this living thing right all the time. I don’t care what anyone says or what image they portray to the world; everyone has their faults, bad habits, emotional baggage and regrets. Anyone who tells you different is a seriously full of shit. No one is happy all the time. No one is always confident. No one is always bright and shiny and brilliant. It’s just not possible, so get it out of your head that you always have to get everything right. You won’t.
You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be steadfast. Every setback should rent only a small room in your mind and be evicted immediately to make room for more progress, more hope, more discipline and more resolve. These are the things that should take up most of your subconscious living space in your mental neighborhood. Consider every failure; forgive yourself, learn from it and move on. That is how you get it right and that is what the people who seem to always have it working are the best at.
Self forgiveness is part of the journey
Every time I make a mistake I over analyze it. I wallow in it, like a pig in shit, and smear it all over every part of my life and let the stench of it contaminate my being. Forgiving yourself for mistakes seems to get harder and harder the further along you get to creating a really incredible life that you are truly proud of. You feel like you should be beyond silly mistakes. You should know better. When you are in the infancy of your personal development journey, mistakes are tolerated, like forgiving a child who doesn’t know any better, but the further we get the harder we are on ourselves.
One of the most important and freeing lessons I have cultivated in my life is self forgiveness. Accepting the apology in my heart for the mistakes of my mind is such a powerful weapon that I sharpen as often as possible. I don’t have to linger in the stink of my mistakes. I can forgive myself and move forward and that means that those things that I mess up don’t become reasons for continued failure but lessons for future success.
Never Give Up
No matter what – no matter how much I doubt myself, no matter how much I fail, no matter how much I get this shit wrong – I will never give up. Ever. It’s not an option, because I would rather fail a million times at something I really wanted, then never fail, for lack of trying, and never even have a chance at the things that matter to me. I don’t care how long, how hard, how much blood, sweat, tears and pain that I have to endure to be successful, I will do it, and so will you.
Because we keep trying. We learn our lessons, we let our bruises heal and we keep trying. We let people talk shit about us, we battle the self-doubt and discomfort, we weather the storms of life but we never give up. We might feel like complete and utter imposters sometimes, doubting our abilities and our efficacy for change, but we never forget our reasons for the things we do and we scream those reasons, loud and frequent, to be heard above the doubt.
We all feel like imposters sometimes. We make mistakes, we over burden ourselves with regret and anxiety and depression over things that are out of our control or things in our past. We are scared that we are not doing enough or that we don’t have it right or that someone else is doing it better. This is normal and sometimes you will get it wrong. But we don’t need to live in that space all the time and think that we are not deserving or worthy of the praise we give to ourselves for the progress we have made. We are not imposters if we continue to try. We are not imposters if we never quit and we are not imposters if we are honest with ourselves, no matter what we show the rest of the world.
“Failure is a bruise, Not a Tattoo” – John Sinclair
If I have learned anything about myself in my 37 years on the earth, it is this; I am really great at failing. I have found a million ways to do it and I will find a million more ways in the future. I am a natural at it. Most of the time, it is because I am going out and trying something I have never tried before. Sometimes, it is because I neglect the advice of those that came before me, and every so often, it is because I fail on purpose to see what will happen. Whatever reason I fail, I know that I am really good at it and that has made my life just that much better.
What makes me good at failing and why would that make me life better? Because I know that if I am failing, I am learning, and when I do manage to succeed at something, it is because previous failure has made it possible. All the failures in my life have led me to the moments where I succeed and without them I would never have been able to get there. I would not have the strength, the courage, the audacity and the endurance to keep moving forward despite the doubt, the fear, the discomfort and the naysayers. I would not have the expanse of lessons, stories, parables and experiences if I did not have my failures. Sure, they are uncomfortable things, but they are temporary, and nothing is so good a learning or teaching moment as a failure.
The problem most of us have with failure is that we don’t see it that way. We latch onto failure and we forget that the wounds of it are fleeting and fading. Like a bruise, we often see a failure and press on it over and over, reliving the pain of that experience and making it harder to heal and thereby thinking it is an eternal tenderness on our lives. We see our failures as permanent marks that will always follow us because we keep poking it and never allowing it to heal but that is not the case. The black and blue dims and before long you forget it was ever there. You forget there was a tender spot there that hurt to touch. You forget that it was some ugly mark that you wanted to hide away from the world because they might ask too many painful questions about how you got it. You forget in a way that allows you to ignore the tenderness of that failure and approach it again in a better way and, before long, you are just not failing anymore and you forget you ever were.
But in order for failure to be a useful for growth and success you need to view it as such. Failure is a powerful development and learning tool, when looked at properly, and here is why:
Failure gives us a means of re-calibrating our strategies.
Failure is simply a means of correcting the trajectory of our ideas, our activities and our lives. If we know what direction we want our lives to head in, failure is a way of constantly correcting ourselves so that we do not stray far from that path. Think of an interceptor missile, zig zagging through the sky as it approaches its target. It’s doesn’t fly perfectly straight. It is constantly recalibrating itself to the movements of its target and to the terrain it is flying through. Failure is our calibration method. We evaluate where we are and we remember where we want to be and if those two places are not in alignment we adjust. It is your way of judging how far you have overcorrected or undercorrected in order to reach your target. No one flies straight through life to a target without some adjusting on the fly. The successful people in this world know how to recalibrate quickly, not let the failure set their permanent course and consequently hit the target.
Failure makes us stronger.
Failure puts callouses on your soul. It enables you to do the heavy lifting in life without fear of constantly ripping open a blister. The more often you fail the harder it is going to be for that failure to do any real damage to you, and the more likely it is that you are going to be able to absorb that failure and become stronger for it. It’s like lifting weights. When you lift, you tear muscle fibers so that they can rebuild themselves stronger so that, next time you lift, you can lift more. That is what failure can do for us. It can tear us up to make us stronger, but only if we get right back in the weight room of life and keep lifting the heavy shit. Because, just like in a weight room, If you don’t keep at it, you may lose the strength you gain from those failures and have to start over again.
Failure gives us wisdom.
Failures are an opportunity for reflection and with reflection often comes wisdom. Failure is our chance to take a step back and consider the cause and effect that created it. We can identify our part in our failures and identify the external things that were out of our hands. We can use failure to investigate, contemplate and eliminate the weak points in our life, and bring about the lessons to be learned and the wisdom to be passed along in order to improve. Failure is something we should loosely catalog away for future reference, because we never known when we might need to call upon those lessons again. A failure in one aspect of life can easily cause a failure in another and the learning that comes from any failure can improve the likelihood of future success in all. You fail in a relationship because of jealousy? This failure is deeper and wider than any one relationship. I guarantee it affects other aspects of your life and it is holding you back from success in the places, in some really fundamental ways. Really consider the depth and reach of your failures and use the wisdom gained from this contemplation as a source of future action.
Failure shows us other opportunities
Failure opens the doors to other opportunities and options that we had no idea we could pursue. If we keep our perspective on failure, and see it only as another stop on the way to our success, we can use it to find new ways to succeed and to find new things we want to succeed at. Failure is opportunity, in and of itself. Once you fail you have every opportunity to do anything at that moment. You can try again the same way, you can approach it differently, you can learn from it, you can hide it, you can hate it, you can beat yourself up over it, you can blame someone else, etc. There are so many opportunities that exist after failure, some that will ensure you never succeed and some that ensure you always will, and it is up to you to find the opportunities in that failure and use them to get it right.
You are going to fail in life, and if you are not failing in life you are not trying enough of the difficult shit that matters. You are going to attempt something that is just too far out of your reach. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to do some shit that you regret and, if you let it, it is going to leave a permanent mark on every aspect of your life, but that doesn’t have to be what you get from the bruises of failure. You can let them heal and you can learn from them, like a child learning to walk and falling down constantly; you pick yourself back up and you try that shit again. Because that’s how you learn and that’s how you get better; through failing and learning.
In fact, my challenge to you is to fail on purpose sometimes. I am not saying go out and do something that you have already succeeded at and half-ass it so you fail. I am saying, go do something you know you will fail at and use that failure in the ways I describe above. Watch what happens. You will see that a bunch of little bruises are not enough to stop you from eventually succeeding. In fact, all those bruises are temporary badges of missions accomplished and meaningful changes approached, lessons learned and wisdoms gained. And what it all adds up to in the end is someone who is unstoppable in the face of failure, someone always moving forward despite the setbacks. Someone who wears the tattoos of success over the bruises of failure.
Ahh, resolutions. Those empty little promises of change that we make ourselves that feel so heavy in January and become like airy bubbles floating away into nothingness come February. For most of us, there is nothing that rings so hollow as a New Year’s resolution spoken aloud.
Oh, we mean well. We want to change so bad. We want this year to be different and we genuinely have a desire to change, but why do we fail at our resolutions so often? Why do we lose that motivation, when we really have this sincere desire to change something or adopt something? We get so excited and inspired and motivated and we swear it will be different this year, but within a few weeks, we are right back to our old, shitty shenanigans.
Why is this? It is because most of us rely on motivation to change and motivation is a bullshit way to maintain anything. It relies on you to constantly convince yourself to do something that you are not used to doing, and your mind and body doesn’t like doing things it is not used to doing; so it is going to try to talk you out of it any way it can. It is going to leverage every excuse it can think of to get you back into your usual grind and disrupt the change you want to make because change is hard and maintaining something hard is not what motivation is good for.
What motivation is good for is STARTING something. Motivation derived from inspiration helps to get you moving on that new healthy habit or goal, but to truly make a habit stick – to maintain the hard work it requires to seriously change something you have been doing for a long time – you need discipline, because that shiny sparkle of motivation is going to fade and eventually leave you staring at a polished turd of disappointment. When it does, discipline is right there to kick you in the ass and keep you moving forward!
What it boils down to is this:
Motivation is like a supplement. Discipline is like a muscle!
Motivation is a big pill you have to swallow every day to see results and discipline is something that, when worked out constantly, is always there to give you the strength to do the heavy lifting required to maintain change. You can improve your discipline; make it stronger, harder, more difficult to ignore, but motivation… You need to keep feeding it and you are going to build up a tolerance after a while and need more and more as you continue to add things to your life that you want to improve. Eventually, you just can’t get enough and you give up completely.
Think about it like this; If I have to rely on a sense of motivation every time I want to get my ass to the gym, then I am always going to have an inner motivational dialogue with myself about that and it usually goes something like this:
“Hey buddy, don’t forget you need to go to the gym today.” Says my gentle, motivational voice.
“Oh shit… That’s right… Ugh… I don’t know if I have time today, though.” Says my lazy, unmotivated self.
“Come on. You can make time. You said you wanted to lose some weight this year.”
“I know, I know, but, it’s just so cold outside, and then I have to drive to the gym and back and I wanted to get some laundry done and I need to make dinner for the kids. It’s just not a good day for it.”
“Yeah. That is a lot of shit to do. Well, maybe you could work out tomorrow?”
“Yeah! That is a good idea. I will work out extra hard tomorrow!”
“Good plan! Now, let’s go home and binge-watch Netflix and eat a whole fucking pizza. We totally deserve it!”
Rinse, repeat, every single day and before long you don’t even bother with that dialog, because motivation curls up in a corner and plays dead, just so he doesn’t have to talk to your lazy ass anymore and hear all your excuses.
That is what you have to do if you rely on motivation to keep moving on anything you want to change about your life. That shit is exhausting. Seriously. If I had to have that argument with myself every day I would get nothing done. I would spend all my energy on debating and weighing my options and none of my mental capacity would go towards just doing the things I should do. So, instead of relying on motivation you should rely on discipline.
Because discipline doesn’t go for your bullshit excuses!
Discipline is a drill sergeant and it knows what you have to do and it is going to scream at you until you get it done. Discipline doesn’t suggest; it demands, and it makes a plan and follows through. It doesn’t give you a choice, so you never get to weasel your way out of whatever it is you are trying to do to better yourself. You don’t get to make excuses. You just do what is necessary, no matter what.
So, how do we maximize the presence of discipline in our lives?
Make the number of steps TO do something less and the number of steps TO NOT do something more.
You want to create the habit of getting up in the morning and working out? Have your gym clothes already picked out and waiting by the bed. Sleep in them if you have to. Shit, drive to the gym the night before and sleep in your gym clothes outside the gym. Or, if you are really serious about working out, sneak into the gym the night before, sleep there in your gym clothes and just try to find a goddamn excuse not to work out in the morning! That’s right. There is none because you cut down the steps needed to do it.
The point is, if you make it easier to accomplish the change you want in your life and make it harder to not accomplish the change you want in life your motivation never has to be bothered with your excuses, because there are none. You are already so close to doing the thing you want to do, so you might as well just do it.
Instead of saying “I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t do that” say, “That is not a priority to me.”
I love this one. Say this out loud next time you are trying to make excuses for not doing something you really want to do. Going to the gym is not a priority to me. Quitting smoking is not a priority to me. Spending more time with family is not a priority to me. Getting my shit together and changing for the better is not a priority to me. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? What you wanted to change about yourself is a priority to you so stop making excuses and just be honest. If it is really not a priority, then screw it, don’t do it. I don’t care. The world doesn’t care. If it is a priority, then make it one and drop the bullshit. You decided you wanted to change that thing for a reason. Remind yourself of that reason often and remember it is a priority to you by saying it out loud.
Screw how you feel.
You need to forget all this shit about being in the mood to do stuff. Your moods are going to come and go and they will try to sabotage your new habits all the time. Changing takes effort and discomfort and you are not always going to be in the mood to feel uncomfortable. If you wait until you are “in the mood” or are “feeling it” then you are setting yourself up for failure because you are making your changes contingent on some arbitrary measure of your emotions at some particular moment in time. Most of the time you feel shitty because you DIDN’T do the things you wanted to do to change, so stop waiting until you feel like doing those things and just do them. I can almost guarantee that the confidence and strength you get from being disciplined enough to do those things will make you feel better anyway and that will get you to a place to make more changes.
Listen, change is hard. Sticking with something like a new gym regime or quitting smoking is fucking toil and strain until it’s not. I am not sitting here saying I have always succeeded in trying to change some bad habit or introduce something good into my life. I fail all the time and I will continue to fail, but I know that when I stop relying on that initial burst of motivation, and I start getting disciplined, that I succeed more often than not and that is the point.
Use your initial inspiration and motivation to set up a plan for discipline. If you do that you are relying on something that you can’t argue with. You are relying on a muscle that can be worked and strengthened and that will seldom fail you when exercised to the proper degree. What’s more, it will seep into other parts of your life and you will see the change you never expected and you will develop a strength, confidence, and courage that can make any change possible.
When I think of goals, I think of destinations on the map of life; places that we want to get to because we believe these places will provide us what we want. Having hard and fast goals in life is a good way for most people to set their sights on what they want to accomplish. Many of the most successful people in this world have maintained the efficacy of diligent goal setting as a means to focus on moving forward in life. Setting goals gives us a certain drive. It gives us something distant to focus on as we traverse the winding roads of life. The problem with goals as destinations, though, is that we cannot guarantee that we will be able to reach them, no matter how much effort or discipline we have. Life has a way of constantly sending us on unplanned detours that end up completely derailing our ability to achieve a goal we set or, we find that the goal we were trying to achieve is no longer something we want. This leads to a sense of failure, lost effort and a deflated sense of confidence, because everything we were doing was simply to achieve our destination.
With this in mind, here are 4 reasons that you should have a direction in life rather than a destination:
Moving in a direction is always possible. Achieving a destination is not.
Ugh. People don’t want to hear this shit. They want to visualize and achieve! They want to believe that, no matter what it is they set as a goal, they can attain it through hard work and diligence and patience and mantras and magic. Well, I am sorry to tell you, but there are some goals you are just not going to be able to achieve; through no fault of your own. While it is not always possible to achieve your goals, no matter how hard to try, it is always possible to maintain your direction. A destination is usually some external landmark we are trying to get to. A million dollars. A smoking hot girlfriend. A ripped body. Sadly, these things are not directly under your control no matter how hard you work for it. Focusing on a direction allows you to internalize your goals so that nothing is out of your control. It allows you to always make progress and making progress is what life is all about.
Direction allows you to enjoy the scenery.
Having a direction instead of a destination allows you to enjoy the ride. When we are focused on a particular goal we want to accomplish in life we can lose so much of the journey in the progress. We develop tunnel vision and see everything that is required to achieve our goal as nothing more than temporary stops to be endured so that we can get to where we want to be. The beauty of setting your direction in life is that everything can be a part of the journey and we don’t see anything as some meaningless stepping stone only passed because we need to get somewhere else. Living this way will never fill you up because you will spend a lot more time looking forward and not enough time looking around.
Direction celebrates all forward progress.
Having a direction in life instead of a destination allows you to always feel like you are moving forward, because you are. If we decide that financial stability is a direction we want to take in life, any movement we make towards that is something we can celebrate. We save. We can celebrate. We pay off a bill. We can celebrate. Anything is a celebration of our progress because every movement we make is a movement in the right direction and all we care about is moving in that direction. With a destination, we never feel we can celebrate that until we achieve the exact goal. This can lead to fading momentum and an eventual abandonment of our destination all together because we just feel all the work and none of the accomplishment.
Direction is malleable.
Having a direction allows for a lot of flexibility. We might find, while moving in the direction we want to take our lives, that we find something important to us that we never even considered. This might take our lives in a completely different direction, but one that is more relevant or important to what we want to accomplish. Direction is just a sense of where you want to go. Moving in that way allows for you to adjust quickly, be malleable, make adjustments and still make progress. By setting a direction you are less likely to get lost as you move forward because forward is always the way you want to go.
Life is full of twists and turns and detours and backroads. Destinations in the form of life goals can be a huge motivator to begin us moving towards what we want, but if we set our sights on a destination, we might never actually be able to get where we are going and the pains we suffer getting there might never let us celebrate the small victories to achieving our goals.
You see, a destination is a place you are going; a direction is a way of getting there. Moving towards a destination is much different than moving with direction. Moving with direction allows you to enjoy the ride and that is what this crazy life is all about!
The world of personal development and self-improvement is a jungle. There is so much information out there that cutting a path through the undergrowth of all the bullshit is where you are going to spend most of your time. You are going to get tangled in some really shady shit that promises you instant returns, but instead stops your progress in its tracks and you are going to climb some trees that seem impossible to climb but help you see the extreme vastness of your possibility.
It’s hard to know what can help you personally without your learning about a lot of the stuff that is already out there. Some things are going to hit you harder than other things because the voice and the tone and the message resonate with your mental makeup. We all learn in different ways. Finding what works for you is an enjoyable part of the journey, and it helps you develop your own self-improvement style; one that sticks. There is no shortcut for putting in the time and effort to accumulate as much information as you can so you can find out what works for you. This means reading as much as you can, learning as much as you can, seeking out mentors and coaches and groups that can help you find what works for you. There is no magic to be had there.
With that being said, all the information you digest is useless without one single, solitary rule that every person who is trying to make a better life for themselves would do well to remember:
NOTHING WORKS IF YOU DON’T APPLY IT!
Personal development is about effort more than information. You can read all the shit out there. Every book, every website, every blog, every scrap of new age or ancient wit and wisdom, but not a single bit of it is going to matter unless you apply it. Personal development can work. You can change. You do every day for better or for worse. Sadly, this change is usually in the form of growing a bit more morose, a bit more complacent, a bit more accepting of the insignificance of your life and the impossibility to change anything, but you can shift the entire rotation of your world the other way if you just put in the effort.
It is not enough to be able to puke up a bunch of self-help mantras or quote meaningful lists of ways to improve your life. You need to put your fucking nose to the grindstone and bleed for that shit. You need to get really uncomfortable in a way that forces you into a corner where you grow or die. You need to get used to a small bit of suffering and restraint to hit a further reaching goal. You need disciplined application.
If you seriously, honestly, and completely want to change your life, but you are only willing to dip a toe into the world of personal development by reading a few books and reciting a few quotes, then you are never going to learn how to swim the constantly shifting tides of your life in a way that moves you forward. You will be pushed and pulled in whatever direction the waves of life take you. People working personal development are treading in deep, deep waters and we are sometimes scared and confused and tired and distracted, but we keep going, because we know that personal development is not a sprint, it’s an endurance event and just being in the race is something we are proud of. First or last doesn’t matter because we are all running together and there is no finish line.
So keep researching and finding what works for you. Meet new people who are wiser than you and have meaningful advice to give, but remember the Rule. The one rule that transcends all advice, all styles and all approaches to personal development. Nothing works if you don’t apply it!
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So, I have a problem with all this authenticity shit being tossed around in the personal development world. I don’t have a problem with telling people to be authentic. That is an obvious means to happiness and satisfaction. What I have a problem with is expecting people to know what their authentic self is when, for so long, they have had to be something they were not. I know it took me a long time to decide what the authentic me would look like. I had to work on figuring it out because I was already wearing a lot of masks that were forced on me by external influences. Family. Friends. Co-workers. They all influenced me to think I had to be something I wasn’t until I actually became that. My authentic self didn’t exist because I hadn’t the time to decide what it was. God knows I wanted to be authentic, but I had to discover it, decide what the hell authentic meant to me, and then create it.
My point is this. You don’t get to just be authentic because you choose to be or because some new age hippy wisdom says you should be. It doesn’t work that way for most of us and we are looking to build a different kind of mojo here. One that we get to create. So how do we find out our authenticity and keep it among all the other people that are trying to force us to be something we are not? Well, it takes effort and some heavy, repetitive mental lifting. It also takes some brutal fucking honesty and sincerity but it matters, because the only way you are going to find your mojo is if you figure out who the hell you are and what you are trying to accomplish in this world.
So what do you need to do to find your authenticity?
Get really honest about what your core values are and be brutally committed to them.
The hardest thing to do is admit that you do a bunch of shit that doesn’t serve you and often goes against your core values. It makes you feel guilty and sad and sends you further away from what you are trying to accomplish. Are these negative things we do part of our authentic self? No. These are the coping mechanisms we put in place because we couldn’t defend our authentic selves when we were growing up. We all have a set of core values that drive our lives. Things that, when we live by them, fill us with mojo. You do something that really agrees with a core value, especially when it is a hard to do thing, you feel stronger. Core values are the building blocks of authenticity and they are our implicit claims to what we value in others of the world. They are not the only things we value, and we do not have to value what someone else does, but we need to figure out what values truly move us. If you don’t know what your core values are or don’t know where to start then go here. After you figure out your core values you need to commit to them fully and decide how they can be amplified in your life. This means making time for them by any means necessary. You value intelligence? Make time to read. Etch it into stone and know that it’s just something you do now, no matter what. Like blinking and breathing. You value health? Then shop better, eat better and exercise better. In stone. Never changes. Is that hard? Is that easier said than done? Why? Because that’s just not you? Because you need to take it slow and ease into it? You don’t even know who the hell you are so you don’t know what you are capable of! Listen. You just wrote out the things you value most in this world and I bet my life that you want to fully embody those things because you know they will change your entire life for the better. Well, if you want it that bad, then write it in stone and be that value no matter what it costs. As German philosopher Nietzsche has pointed out, and psychological studies about the short and long term happiness levels in parents versus non parents has reinforced, we do not always pursue the path to lasting satisfaction directly, sometimes we take a harder path and embrace the struggles of that path, because we know it has something of greater value to offer us at the end. We defer our smaller fleeting pleasures in order to grasp the grander prizes that we deserve. Finding and maintaining your authenticity will be a struggle, but it’s worth the effort.
Forget who you are right now.
Yes. You need to forget what you are shaped into. You have been melted down into a hunk of malleable material that can be reshaped into what you should have been. You can’t dwell on the shape you used to be. You just need to focus on doggedly pursuing your values, because that pursuit will form you into what you should truly be. There is a quote by Aristotle that goes;
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
That is the goal. Do not spend any energy focused on all the crap of your past. Conserve your energy to spend on the change itself. You knew what you were. You lived it. It doesn’t matter though now because you are not going in that direction anywhere. You are going to where you should be. You know where you should be going now because you decided on your core values and everything points in that direction if you want to find your authenticity. So forget everything about who you used to be.
Find and emulate someone who you think embodies your core values.
Sometimes pretending we are something we are not is exactly how we get to be who we want to be. Sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I am not saying lie or deceive people about frivolous or big things. I am not saying lie to yourself about the effort that will be involved in all this. What I am saying is, how do you learn how to do things quickly and efficiently that you might have never done before? You watch someone else do it and you copy them! If I am not trusting of people, I can pretend that I am by acting in a way that shows trust based on an example of someone who is very trusting. The fact is, the actions I commit to define who I am and what I think. Now, my thinking might require some time to catch up to what I actually, authentically, believe about myself, but acting in a way that is compatible with my values will build up the stores of confidence in me that I am becoming authentic because I am acting like the person that I want to be. The first step in this is emulating the actions of someone else that embodies our core values. We emulate them until our thinking is able to catch up with our actions and we are not just acting in accordance with our core values, we are living in accordance with them! So read about people you look up to. Biographies are perfect because they are usually the idealization of someone and this gives us the opportunity to copy the extremes of our core values. Another great option is to find a mentor or coach that embodies the values you espouse. They can hold you accountable and give you guidance when you waver. Whatever you need to do, find someone who can be the compass to which you set your ship until you become someone else’s compass.
And that’s that. Authenticity is a struggle. It is not a childlike discovery of wonder. It takes some hard work to peel back all those layers and get committed to who you are. It will take time and it will take effort, but when you are done, you will have the start of some serious mojo. Now go do the work.http://www.syn-scape.com
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Mojo is a fluid thing. It can come and it can go. You can be strutting your shit one minute and falling into the gutters the next. You have to be vigilant and you have to be steadfast. You can’t be complacent and you are going to have to do some things that are hard to do and avoid some things that are hard to avoid. Here is a list of 11 things that will kill your mojo real quick.
You eat like shit.
Ok. Everyone eats crap sometimes. We cannot all eat raw, organic, healthy fruits and vegetables from our own gardens grown with the animal shit of a grass fed cow named Bela who frolics in an open meadow. If you just replace some of that junk food for something a little less shitty your body will thank you by not groaning and creaking and swearing up a shitstorm of sweat and tears when you try to climb the stairs. You want a candy bar? Get a low calorie protein bar instead. You want some ice cream? Go Greek yogurt instead, and skip the syrups. You want McDonald’s? Well… ifyo u are still eating at McDonald’s I have no sympathy for you, so move along. You are a lost cause.
You don’t move your ass.
There is no secret to feeling better and regaining your mojo. It is proven that exercise does it. It just works. It releases some feel good endorphins and affects the brain chemistry and a bunch of technical crap that you can read anywhere. Who cares. It works. Science doesn’t have to get involved for me to tell you to just get off your ass and get some exercise and your life and your health will be a whole lot better. Everyone who you see looking ripped or slim at a gym was scared or embarrassed to start, but the only way you get to where they are, or wherever you want to be, is by getting to it. So move your ass!
You are mean to strangers.
Listen. Life sucks enough for all of us without random people making it worse. You don’t like it when some asshole blows up on you for something stupid and out of your control so don’t do it to other people. You know you are not really mad at them anyway and you really want to punch your boss in the face because he is a dick for making you work late and missing your son’s baseball game so don’t add to other people’s shitty lives by adding your own shit to it. Smile. Be cool. Be helpful. It sucks for everyone to be breathing, so you are in good company.
You don’t appreciate those closest to you.
I suck at this one. If I had a dime for every time I was a complete ass to someone I really cared about I would not be writing a god awful blog that no one reads in an obscure corner of the internet. I would own an island. Maybe two. And I would probably be alone because no one would want to be around me. The point is, even if you are an angry, grumpy dick like me sometimes, you should still reach out to those people you care about and just let them know. You love them. You appreciate them and most of all you owe them. Shit hits the fan really quickly in life and if you don’t take time to tell them that now you might never get a chance.
You don’t read.
No. Reading a People magazine that you found in the bathroom of the dentist’s office doesn’t count as reading. Reading this shitty blog shouldn’t count either. Though I am thankful you do. I am talking about reading books. Real books. Yeah. Groan. Pick up your smartphone. Flip to TMZ and watch cat videos. What the hell happened that reading became so terrible? We are losing a mountain of potential for improving our lives by not setting aside time to read and learn and grow. Just read a fucking book already. I shouldn’t even have to say that.
You spend too much time on Facebook.
All I have to say to this is that; STOP GIVING A SHIT ABOUT PEOPLEs FAKE, MANICURED FACEBOOK LIFE! Stop liking everyone else’s experiences and insights and start having and creating your own. Oh, and when you do create some amazing experiences and have some incredible insights because you started living with some fucking mojo, you don’t have to share that shit on Facebook for it to matter. I am just saying.
You don’t save money.
I hate saving money. I made it and I want to spend it now! I deserve nice shit and why does Dave get a brand new 50 inch tv and I have this piece of shit 42 inch tv. His little football guys are ⅛ of an inch larger than mine and that is not cool and Dave is such a dick!!! Ok. Saving money sucks. But not having money when you need it sucks more. Your car will break down. Something you need will break. Someone you love will need you. Life is cool like that and when that happens it is nice to have some money squirreled away. It will help you sleep at night. Which get’s me to number 8.
You don’t sleep.
Your body is a battery and it needs a serious recharge every day. Now you can trickle charge that bitch and get a few hours here and a few hours there, but you will always be running on the bare minimum of what you can accomplish if you do that and your mojo will constantly suffer. Do yourself, and your body, a favor and make time to sleep. You will be more productive when you are awake and you will enjoy that time a whole lot more.
You believe everything you read or hear on the news.
Don’t ever tell me anything you have heard on any cable news channel or any mainstream newspaper as though it were fact. Ever. I don’t care. I don’t want to hear about it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I stay up to date on the news. I just don’t always believe what I read and I work to find verification and accuracy in the morass of bullshit being slung around. Every side is playing some angle and every side is trying to get their hordes of followers. Don’t be a sheep. Question everything; the news, especially. Do research. Get both sides. Form your own opinion based on facts and shit that is as close to the truth as you can get and then spread that truth around like a sweet perfume to cover the stench of everyone else’s bias, uninformed bullshit.
You don’t have a hobby.
Hobbies are not just for kids or old people. Finding something you enjoy doing in your down time to distract you from the general banality and frivolity of life is halfway to surviving this shit without going insane. Pick up painting or scrapbooking or photography or whatever other else you like to do. It’s all nonsense to everyone else but if it eases your stress and keeps you engaged in life and genuinely makes you happy then fuck everyone else and do it. It will keep you cool and calm and full of the right stuff to build your mojo. Besides, you might find a talent somewhere that you can turn into something more than a hobby.
You watch too much tv.
Admit it. How much? How much do you watch? 2 hours a day? 4? 6? Is it your favorite pastime? Does your DVR tell you to back the fuck up and stop smothering it? It’s ok. We all get lazy sometimes and just plop down in front of the idiot box, but turn it off sometimes. Take your least favorite show and drop that 30- 60 minutes right now in your life bucket. Spend it walking or reading or painting or writing or ballet or Voodoo or being the creepy guy who rides one of those really tall unicycles. I don’t care. It’s all a means to building mojo because it is stuff that defines who you are. So, just turn off the tv and do something better with your life.
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