Archive for January, 2014

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Eckhart Tolle talks about life purpose as being divided into 2 levels.
The outer level, one of accumulation, is what concerns us most. It’s what we see when we look at others.
“More stuff will make me happy.”
“Better stuff will make me really happy.”

Or so we think. (more…)

Right now, you are the sum of the experiences you have had in your life and the decisions you made about yourself afterward.

Actually, the decisions you made about yourself are more important than the event itself.

But first, a story.

Soon I am being interviewed in a podcast on iTunes. In the initial process, I sent in 10 stages of my life that had brought me to where I am now. I only had a few minutes so this was a good way, I thought, to give the interviewer a snapshot of me. They are mainly associated with martial arts business but it sort of morphed into a personal journey.

Here they are:

10 Sean

It was quite interesting to read so I shared it with some friends. One friend, a lady in her early 40’s sent in her stages of life.

They are:

Innocence

Breaking free

Falling in love

Discovering the world

Committing

Unconditionally falling in love

Juggling

Supporting

Breathing

Smiling

What would your 10 look like?

Remember that your emotions about any event in life depends on your perspective.

As I stood still for the picture to be taken in Washington DC, I remember thinking how Wash DC 2000realistic the statues were and I could imagine them walking. If I was older it may have moved me to tears. But the point is that the value is in the exercise of deciding what the ten stages of your life have been. Do you mention an experience as making a profound impact on you? Or do you mention a time period that shaped you? It can even be a decision that was made after an event.

Remember the process has value as it makes you judge how you reacted to an event.

In the comments section below post your ten and follow this blog to see every time more are added. Remember we will defend ourselves by saying, “But I am the result of more than 10!” Yes you are. But limiting us to 10 makes us prioritize the most important. Good exercise.

Go on, join in.

I’m looking at the diary of the darkest period in my life.

Page after page of negative thoughts, complaints and aggression.diary

As the months have turned into years since these dark days, I look back at this time and it seems like a dream. I remember the feelings … but that is about all. They are just a memory.
A friend reached out to me recently and asked how I got through this time. You see, it’s his turn now. He is struggling.
This article is my effort to shine some light where there is none. To make sure others can follow advice that worked for me.
But when it comes down to it, my Mother gave me the best advice. “Put one foot in front of the other,” she said.
Smart lady.
Logic
Through counselling, I looked at emotions from a logical point of view. I was asked to imagine that I firstly was a lawyer fighting for my opinion. Why I was right. Then I would list the reasons why I was entitled to feel that way. Then I would be the defence lawyer arguing why my assumptions were incorrect. Why I was not entitled to feel that way.
Writing a journal.
Writing a journal of your thoughts and feelings does two things. Firstly it allows you to get intrusive thoughts off your chest and onto paper. These thoughts often happen at inappropriate times. For example, when you are trying to sleep at night. I looked back at the diary of my worst days and looked at the times I wrote many of my posts. 2, 3, 4 and 5 AM in the morning.
Putting these thoughts down on paper allowed me to go back to sleep. Even if I was only to wake up an hour later I would still write down what I was thinking. The second reason is that in the light of day, you look back at what you have written and can balance your emotions better. You realise that feelings are transitory. They rise and fall sometimes with a mind of their own. In my darkest days I seemed to only be experiencing lows. Then occasionally I would feel slightly better and record that. This helped me realise that if I could have one good period, then I could have more.
“Don’t do the things that cause you to get upset”
I remember deciding on this. I traced why I was feeling negative and realised that sometimes the cause was something I had control over. I committed, if at all possible, to stop doing things that created negativity in my life. This is a lesson I learned that helped me pull through the darkest period. But as an unexpected benefit, I still use this mantra 10 years later. My experience of depression is behind me, but I realise that it is the small things we do on a daily basis that make a massive difference in our future.
Small seemingly insignificant habits that reap a massive return years later.
So there you go. Writing a journal, logic and not doing the things that cause you to be upset. I used these three techniques to get me through a period of time that seemed to go on forever.
One more thing. A counsellor asked me at the end of that period why I had never done anything fatalistic. To end my life. My response was that I didn’t think it was in my make up. But I suppose no one who takes that final step would say it is in their make up. One thing was that I have always wanted to leave a positive legacy as a result of my life. This intent allowed me to look into the future and see something worth working towards.

In conclusion, I remember reading about a conversation between a student and a teacher. The student asked, “How will I know if I haven’t achieved my life purpose?

The teacher responded, “If you are still alive, your life mission is still in front of you”.

Midnight Express

Midnight Express

I originally wrote this article for my martial arts blog.

It went around my head for quite few days as it relates to life in general so I have changed it to relate to us, our thoughts and our direction.

The basic idea is that any human endeavour is driven by three questions. What, How and Why.

‘The What’ is about you. What you want.

‘The How’ is about action taken by you to get what you want.

‘The Why’ is about others. Your effect on the world.

No real problem, or at least not yet. Here is the reason:

You see, 99% of endeavour is about the What and the How.

What do I want?

I want a better job.

I want a better car.

I want to visit another country.

I want more money.

Easy to create this bucket list.

‘The How’ is the action plan for achieving ‘The What’. It is your daily activity and how you achieve goals.

The Internet is full of advice on how to achieve. Follow this plan, implement this system, get this result. And results usually follow even if you have to change the systems to suit you. But the result is still empty. That’s the reason for most entrepreneurs wanting more, bigger and faster. Sort of like a treadmill.

The ‘Why’ is what’s missing. It’s usually only confronted later in life. Or after trauma. Questions like:

“Why am I doing this?”

“What is the reason I am here?”

True purpose and meaning in life comes from a clear “Why.”

The good thing is that a clear ‘Why’ makes the ‘What’ easier to define. With clarity comes ease of decision making.  It’s easier to say no to time wasting activities that slowly bleed you dry.

Finding your ‘Why’ is hard. No advice or process makes it easy.

One way to start is to identify the things that you care about. The health and safety of you and your family must be a priority. But what about giving life meaning? It has nothing to do with the accumulation of wealth or how good looking you are. Or even how good you are at your sport. These are all fun and do give you a heightened sense of self in the short term. But internal struggles continue even if you are surrounded by wealth and success. The rich and famous get depressed as much as the majority (sometimes more).

Now having said all of this, the urgency is not on ‘The Why’. You really can put it off. All you do is lose yourself in a flurry of activity and accumulation of stuff. The days and years roll by.

But ‘The Why’ will become very important to you one day.

One day you will stop in your tracks and contemplate ‘The Why’.

This, I guarantee.

Ready to start thinking?

Here are some resources to get you thinking of ‘The Why’:

My personal ‘Page Of Meaning’

An article on regrets

A great Minimalist Living website