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Your Life on Purpose
9 minutes | Dec 29, 2016
Hard Choices on Purpose
The other day I talked with someone who read my article about living inspired (and therefore “in spirit”). Like what often happens, we talked BIG PICTURE. Like a 'I only have so much time on this earth and what I do with my time matters' kind of conversation. When I asked him a question that Dr. Wayne Dyer often asked (“What’s your intention?”), he spoke about his desire to build a legacy. He doesn’t care about whether or not someone will remember his name, but wants more than anything for people to benefit from his life’s work down the road, well after he leaves this life. He wants to create something that matters. And something tells me you do too. Much like how you may not know Thomas Edison, but you surely will benefit from using a light bulb. Or how you may never have heard of Tim Berners-Lee, but you surely will have used the World Wide Web. Or you may not know Elon Musk, but you certainly have used e-commerce (i.e. Paypal). He’s also the guy behind sending monkeys to Mars (i.e. SpaceX), bringing the electric car to mass production (i.e. Tesla), and cladding our homes with solar panels to fuel our energy use (i.e. SolarCity) I understand this drive to build a legacy that matters. That’s the hero inside of us calling. Screaming. Reading to be activated and charge into legacy-building combat. But being a hero on this level requires some hard choices. The man I sat there having this conversation with happens to also have a beautiful two-year daughter, a loving wife, and also is a co-caretaker for his parents. Would building an epic legacy mean that he can’t also play these equally important roles? History teaches us that’s not so easy. In Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs, he equally celebrates the genius gifts that Jobs has given all of society while also exposing that in his formative years at Apple, he was an absent father and husband. It wasn’t until his later years and the birth of his son Reed that he began to take his family role seriously and did a 180 degree turn. He quickly switched from staying late at Apple to being home every evening for a meal with the family. But this was after he had already established his legacy at Apple (and Pixar). A similar story goes for Elon Musk who has achieved extreme success. Musk is notorious for spending so much time on his projects that he is absent in his role as family man. His ex-wife, Justine Musk, wrote very publicly about how difficult it was to be married to someone so devoted to his work. On her popular blog, she wrote that “Extreme success results from an extreme personality and comes at the cost of many other things.” In this case, it was the cost of their marriage. But do you have to give up being a loving partner and parent because you have such an internal drive to create something that matters? Of course not. Just ask my friend Stephen Tracy. For the past several years, Stephen has held one of the most coveted positions by millennials all over the world. Tracy held a high-level position at Google. He scootered between meetings, traveled all over the world on the company dime, and filled his belly with Google’s free delicious food. While working at Google, Tracy’s spirit kept egging him on to leave Google and start his own project that matters. Besides, Tracy’s position at Google required a tremendous amount of time. Time that Tracy couldn’t choose how to use. And that time included being away from his husband. So Tracy had a spark of insight and lit his entrepreneurial candle, quite literally. He made the hard delicious on purpose to leave Google and start up a for-purpose candle company. Tracy has a tremendous love for his former employer, Google, but has not looked back since taking the leap. When we sat down for a chat, he said: “I've found so much more purpose in every single day since leaving Google. The biggest change is in the alignment between how I want to spend my time, and how I actually spend my time. Now I choose where my time and energy goes. I feel liberated, empowered, and excited by the future. It's been the best decision I ever made.” Tracy partnered with his husband to create KEAP and just recently launched on Kickstarter, already raising well over their 25k goal! —- So, what about YOU? As you activate the hero within and walk your heroic journey, how do you choose to spend your time? It’s the age-old question of work vs. life balance, but with the entrepreneurial revolution that’s upon us, finding this balance is quite difficult when it’s your work that brings you life. And now, I need to make a hard choice on purpose. This episode will be the last episode for season 2. Season 3 will be here before you know it, but in the meantime I have to press pause on the podcasting fun for a little while. Of course, I want to hear from you. What do you want to see in season 3? Also, if this happens to be the first time you’ve tuned into the show, make sure to listen through the over 90 episodes that nearly 100,000 thousand people have listened to. And if you haven’t checked out yourlop.com yet, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. And lastly, I will be creating more meditations because i’ve been touched to see that over 30 thousand people have listened to the meditations I created on Insight Timer. How awesome is that!? From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for joining me on this journey and I seriously look forward to season 3. It’s a beautiful time to be alive and I thank you for joining me on the stage.
10 minutes | Oct 4, 2016
You Are What You Read
On today’s episode, I’d like to talk about quality over quantity when it comes to the information you hear throughout your day. With literally millions of books published each year (traditionally, not even counting self-published), along with all the many articles that circulate around our social media channels, just how do we know we’re actually reading high-quality information and not just product-placed marketing mediocrity? Or worse, how do we know that we’re not just feeding our own confirmation bias and growing ignorant in our own little bubble? If you’re like me, you love to read information: data, case studies, new theoretical research findings, tips and tricks, and so on. But we only have so much time! Unlike the world Before Google (B.G.), the problem now is not finding an answer when researching a question, but rather sifting through the abundance of information. There’s just so much! The thing is, when it comes to making major life decisions like choosing a new career path, a new area of study, or embarking on a new hero’s journey, what we read directly and what we listen to significantly influences where we point our feet. So, how do we know if what we’re actually reading is of high quality? Here are five questions to consider whenever you dig your nose into some prose. Who is the Author? Whether you’re reading a major blog syndicate like The Huffington Post, New York Times or Elephant Journal or you’re reading someone’s personal blog, dig into the author’s background. Most of the time, all you need to do is just copy and paste the author’s name into Google. You’ll find that most writers for these platforms are like me (and perhaps you). They run their own media platform because they have a message they want to share and then guest-post on these larger sites to help grow their reach. In the old days, an author was merely credible depending on what college they graduated from. Now…not so much. A degree is only one source of establishing ethos (or credibility) and unfortunately a college degree doesn’t mean as much anymore (even if it’s Ivy League). Take a microscopic look into the reader. What did she study in school? What is her life’s work? What books do they cite in their work? Just understand that every author has an inherent bias due to his own background. Where is the Source of The Information? Just like we shouldn’t trust a commercial that boasts some new research study that proves this new magical healing pill (because the study was very likely funded by the same company that sells the pill), we shouldn’t trust any advice we read without looking deeper into the source of information. In academia, the most credible of sources are peer-reviewed articles: articles that have been written by professionals in a field then critiqued and revised by other professionals in the field. Unfortunately, these are often very dry articles that are no more fun to read than watching paint dry. Traditionally in academia, the lowest credible source is a subjective opinion like what would be found in a personal blog. These, however, are often the most enjoyable to read because they have as much flair as Barbra Streisand on Broadway. This is where it comes down to purpose. What are you reading for? If it’s for an academic article, then stick to peer-reviewed articles. If it’s for personal growth or entertainment, then most often a blog with a unique voice will stand out. Is This Long Form or Short Form Content? Trust me, I understand the limits we have on our time. Most people are only able to read a few articles a day or listen to a short podcast episode on a morning run. Reading a book or listening to an entire audiobook can be daunting. Understand though that a 750 word blog post or one podcast episode will rarely dive as deep as a full-length work. Sure, you can squeeze the message in a book into one-liners, but doing so is like going swimming in a kiddie pool. It’s fun to splash around, but you can’t really go for a swim. Did a Company Pay for This? Many companies have jumped on the inbound marketing bandwagon to grow their business. And why not? It’s a great long-term affordable marketing strategy. How it works is that a company hires writers (sometimes in-house staff, but most of the time virtual assistants through 3rd party companies) to write 2-3 articles per week, if not more. Using rich long-tail keywords, the company’s goal is to land that coveted first page ranking in Google without having to spend a cent on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. And it works…for the company. The content, however, is typically mediocre and incredibly biased. Why? Because the whole purpose behind the content is to drive users to the company website. Not all company blogs are bad, however. I’ve helped a number of companies build up their blogs. The better company blogs focus less on rich long-tail keywords and focus more on sharing customer stories or personal employee experiences. Is this Click Bait? When you’re reading online, if you have to “click to read more” that’s a volcanic red flag. Website owners do this typically for a “top ten” list or something like it. Every time a user clicks to read more, a new series of advertisements fill the screen and the company behind the website gets paid a few more dollars while your valuable time gets wasted. — We live in a beautifully connected world where anyone with a keyboard can share their story with the click of a button and we can read a personal blog (or watch a Youtube channel), pick up a copy of a major newspaper, or dive into a peer-reviewed scholarly book. We live in a world of abundant choice and it’s a beautiful time to be alive. But in this world of abundance comes the art of choosing. We need to choose carefully what we listen to and read. In college and as a teacher, I’ve often stressed that high-quality information comes from long-form content that’s backed with cited peer-reviewed research. I still believe this holds true for academic writing. Take, for example, my latest read: Lisa Randall’s Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. But there’s certainly something beautiful in reading personal writing backed by nothing more than life’s magical experiences. What about YOU? I’d love to know how you decide to take in your content information. Wishing you all a beautiful week ahead, full of love, light, and adventure. Just remember, life is a dance.
9 minutes | Oct 4, 2016
3 Questions to Find Your Purpose
Dr. Dyer was a bit obsessed with the work of Abraham Maslow, the founding psychologist who introduced the theory of self-actualization to the world. It’s the concept where a person needs to fulfill certain biological needs before one can work on developing into higher consciousness and evolve into the greatest version of oneself (and then sharing that genius to better the world). Before someone can start thinking about “What’s my purpose?”, for instance, they need to have a steady supply of food, shelter, water, and feel safe. As I was listening to Dyer’s memoir, I started thinking about my own path and while it’s been incredible receiving emails from people all around he world who have been touched by my writing, lately I’ve felt like I’ve just been going through the motions. So, I’d like to share with you three questions I developed in my journal writing this morning. My hope is that it will inspire you as much as it helps me be confident on my own path. Who am I Serving? Dyer said that the answer to the question “What is my Purpose?” is always the same. Your purpose is to serve others. It’s as simple as that. The trick is to find out what you (and only you) can serve to others. That means activating your unique genius and opening it up to the world. Our amalgamation of unique experiences have molded us into who we are today. We all have a beautiful story, full of “coincidence”, that led to you developing your unique genius. It’s up to you whether or not you’re willing to offer it to others. Are you willing to share your unique genius with the world? For me, I’ve learned that I have a unique talent to help people feel comfortable sharing their own stories. Because I am so open with my story and my struggles, I allow other people to be real and vulnerable. What am I Creating? In The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, she says that finding a sense of purpose in life comes through creating art. Cameron argues that so many people in the rat race of a 9-5 get caught up in constantly serving others through either parenting, working a job that doesn’t fulfill the soul but provides a pay check, or maintaining our possessions (i.e. home, car). We all need to find time to create art, says Cameron. This could be crafting a compelling article, painting, singing, dancing, or building a desk. When we create art, we’re activating our innate form of self. We’re tapping into the divine source of creation. So, take your self on a date. Cameron suggests that even the busiest of people can find time to create art. Once a week, find a time (and put it in your calendar) to take your artist self on a date. It could be only for 20 minutes or so, but it’s focused time on inspiring the artist that is within all of us. If you played trombone as a kid and stopped playing it when you became a parent or starting working a 9-5, spend twenty minutes with your trombone or listen to a your favorite music artist. If you painted as a kid, but haven’t picked up the brush and easel in years, spend just twenty minutes putting paint on white canvas. See what happens. It doesn’t matter necessarily what you create. You can erase your writing or even throw out the painting when you’re done if you want. What matters is that you consciously spend time with your artist self. You take part in the act of creating art for the sake of saying hello to the artist that lives inside all of us. What am I Scared of? What’s often not talked about with Maslow’s research is that self-esteem needs to be fulfilled before someone can play in self-actualization. We talk ourselves out of things that can have the most impact in our lives. Like Jay Stolar pointed out to me, so often we just need to get out of our own way, I see this all the time with college students who enter the university and take “the safe route” because they want to make sure that their degree will guarantee a paycheck that will pay back student loans and provide for a future family. But I think we’ve all learned that there’s no “safe” degree. We all know MBA graduates who still haven’t landed the coveted CEO position, right? Five years into a job that doesn’t fuel their soul, many students often come back to tell me that they’re thinking of going back to school to go into a career that fuels their soul. We can’t ignore our souls. Our internal intention is with us all the time. It’s up to us to recognize it, shake hands with it, and empower it. What about you? These are the three questions I asked myself this morning. What questions help you steer you down your path on purpose?
11 minutes | Oct 2, 2016
Breaking Through Personal Limitations
“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past the limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization.” - Joseph Campbell It’s entirely normal for us to run into some sort of wall in our lives, whether that’s in the work that we do or in our personal lives. Remember though that feeling like you’re in a rut is actually a good thing. Why? Because you’re aware of the rut in which you are in. And that’s no easy truth to acknowledge. David Foster Wallace made that quite clear when he gave his “This is Water” commencement speech: “It is extremely difficult to stay alert & attentive instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your head.” So, how does one break out of a rut and push through personal limitations? Try this, Take Your Artist Self on a Date The whole purpose of art is to evoke awareness in another, to break a mold, to get someone to think. So, take your artist self on a date. Yes, seriously. I repeat. Go ahead and take your artist self on a date. Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, argues that when we take our artist self on a date, it helps us think beyond our own barriers of thought. So, what does this look like? Consider like I did last week and go to an art gallery with a notebook to write down your thoughts on a few pieces that call to your attention. For instance, last Sunday I went to COSM, a beautiful new-age art gallery which displays Alex and Allyson Grey’s psychedelic artwork. The Grey’s work is awe-inspiring at least with huge paintings that take cubism and turn it internal. One image stood out to me in particular: a beautiful painting of a woman nursing her child that shows the outside, inside, and ethereal energetic systems of both the mother and child. Okay, I honestly cannot put their art into words, so take a look here to see what I mean. For one hour, I walked around the art gallery (both indoors and out) and then sat down with my notebook to write a poem, then a journal entry where I flushed out my thoughts. It was only an hour, but it was enough to tilt the way I look at things. Consider taking your artist self on one date this week. The only criteria is that you go alone. Go for a walk through nature, visit an art gallery, go to the library and read something new, or just walk around a new neighborhood to break routine. Read a Challenging Text Even if it’s just 30% of a book, consider checking out a book on something you know absolutely nothing about. It’s amazing, right, how reading from the comfort of an arm chair can get the mind to travel? For example, I knew very little about organizing and picked up Marie Kondo’s book, Spark Joy, and it has opened my mind to the freedom that comes from tidying up our lives. Stoic Discipline When I read the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca’s letters, one thing stands out to me. And that’s the habit of discipline in which Seneca professes. Seneca argues that if we discipline ourselves to experience a worst-case scenario for a short time, we no longer allow fear of that scenario to control our lives. For instance, if you fear losing your money, say from leaving a salaried job to pursue an entrepreneurial dream, then Seneca would suggest you experience living in poverty for a short time, from one day to one week. Or you could try living off a dollar a day like two college students did in the powerful documentary, Living on One Dollar, but I understand if that’s not in your cards right now! Or if living off of rice and water scares you, consider trying it just for a day. Once you shake hands with that which scares you, it no longer has any control and this propels you further down your path on purpose. Philosophical Inquiry Consider joining a group at a local coffee shop that dives deep into philosophical inquiry. Doing so forces us to think outside our own confirmation bias. Meaning, while surrounding ourselves with empowering people is great, doing so traps our thinking into a bubble. Do people actually do this, you ask? It turns out, yes they do, and it’s gaining in popularity. Socratic Cafes, a meet-up that engages in Socratic inquiry, continue to pop up in neighborhoods across the world. For instance, I joined one such discussion at a library in New York City where we discussed what it means to live authentically. And boy was it a unique evening because of the variety of people who showed up. Who showed up to chat? One college professor at Columbia University, a few homeless who live on the harsh streets of Manhattan, one middle-aged woman in need of career change, a couple college students, and a marketing consultant. We disagreed more than we agreed and had a heck of a time doing so. One thing is for sure: I walked out of that discussion with my head spinning with new thoughts. Leveling Up Mastermind Consider creating a small mastermind group of 3-5 people where each of you has a similar goal: to launch a business, to create a podcast, to better your teaching practice, to be a better mother/father, for a few examples. The thing here though is to have one A-level person in the group who has pushed through the barriers you are working to push through. For instance, if you are working to launch a new business, ask someone to join the group who can coach you all through the difficulties in starting up a new business venture. Do you need to pay them? Most of the time, no. They will equally gain much from the mastermind because here’s a secret: When you teach something, you really, really, really, actually learn it. Teaching concretizes learning. Sometimes though, it does pay to hire a coach who will mentor your group to push through the barriers. This holds true for sports just as much as it does for personal growth. ------------- What about you? Which of these tips ring true for you, if any? Like always, I’d love to hear from you and learn of other ways to break through personal limitations. Wishing you all a beautiful week ahead, full of love, light, and adventure. Just remember, life is a dance.
10 minutes | Oct 1, 2016
Affirmation from Within
On this episode, let’s dig into affirmation and how we can find affirmation from within. Because really, The affirmation you need comes from within, not from what someone else tells you. — Even before writing legend Stephen King sobered up, he would keep the door shut tight to his writing studio. When he felt his writing was ready, he’d open the door only to his wife whom he donned his supreme editor. King has what he calls “closed-door writing” and “open-door writing”. Closed-door writing is the crap, the stuff that he doesn’t want anyone to see. It’s the muck that all professionals and top-performers still muddle through to create something of high value. It’s what Anne Lamott would call the “shitty first draft” in her book on writing, Bird by Bird. (One of my personal favorite reads). To move beyond the first crappy draft, King finds the affirmation he needs from his wife. He describes in his book, On Writing, a scene where he gives his wife a manuscript on a road trip and she reads it in the passenger seat while he drives. He describes biting his nails in nervousness as he waits for her to laugh or gasp when he knows she’s at certain parts. If she doesn’t laugh, he questions whether or not it’s actually funny or not. If she doesn’t gasp at a horror scene, then he questions whether or not it’s actually well-written. Perhaps you can relate? When are there moments your confidence depends on the approval of others? This is The Fulcrum of Affirmation. It’s the place we reach when creating something new and look for affirmation. This affirmation brings us through the turning point on our hero’s journey. But I’m reminded of what Dr. Wayne Dyer teaches us through his book, The Power of Intention. Dyer writes that it’s incredibly important to find your affirmation from within. He says that living your life on purpose has everything to do with living out the best version of yourself, not following dogma or constantly caving to peer pressure. Living your life on purpose is the effect of tuning into who you really are. Dyer says that if you have a passion for something like fixing cars and have developed a talent for it and the community really needs a stellar auto mechanic, then yes, of course, being the best auto mechanic you can be is your tried and true purpose. But if you don’t want to be an auto-mechanic or a doctor or a lawyer or (Fill in the Blank), then perhaps it’s time to dig deeper to find your purpose. (pssst...it's okay to reinvent and redefine yourself at any time you'd like) Here are three tips to find the affirmation within to live your life on purpose. We are only a reflection of those we keep close to our heart. We’re a social species. We thrive on relationships and seek connection with others on emotional, platonic, and physical planes. We learn best through what pedagogy wou ld call “Constructive Learning,” meaning we learn best through connecting with others. Before the days of smart-phones and industry, we sat around the campfire and told stories at night, sharing in that day’s feast. But we’ve since lost this aspect of ourselves as storytelling animals and are inundated with messages from the media telling us what we should look like, act like, and model. We've moved from a campfire society to a billboard society. So how can we be picky with who we allow into our sphere of influence? The truth is…it’s not so easy. Our parents, religious leaders, teachers, friends, community leaders, and others offer what they believe to be the best advice. And this advice comes from a source of love, but this energy can strongly influence the way we make decisions. People often ask me how I am such a positive person, an optimist they say. I tell them that I am only a reflection of those I keep close to my heart. Even when I’m making a decision on my own and not asking for anyone else’s approval, the decision I make still stems from those I’ve allowed to help build my sphere of influence. The books I’ve read, the people I admire, the conversations I have with others, and the lessons I’ve learned from my sphere of influence all morph the decisions I make. For me, I try to surround myself with positive people because I know how easy it can be to be held down by fear and negative thinking. I’m picky about who I let into my sphere of influence. So, even though you may not have complete control over your sphere of influence, who and what do you personally invite into yours? Meditation I forgot who it was who said it, but meditation allows us to experience what the other senses cannot. It helps us tap into our intuition. Meditation gives us control. It teaches us when to dance with our thoughts, when to sit still, and when to be an observer. It’s ironic, isn’t it? That the art of sitting still in meditation helps control our outward actions and reactions? Staying still helps to make more precise movement. Moreover, it’s been said that meditation opens up the third eye which points inward and is said to help reflect the divine spiritual truths inside of us. When our third eyes are open and not blurry, it’s easier to tap into the spiritual truths. It’s easier to find the affirmation from within. Say No to FOMO and Ship So often I find myself caught in FOMO: the fear of missing out. If I don’t do this, will I be missing out on an incredible experience? If I commit to this project, will I be missing out on another one? or If I don’t commit to this project, will I be missing out on my big break? Especially when it comes to affirmation, we sometimes don’t take action when we think that there’s something bigger and better out there. We look for affirmation that we’re on the right path. But fearing to miss out on something stops us from even experiencing what we have right here in front of us. Getting caught in the rabbit hole of FOMO is the rat race and stops us from shipping our best ideas. It’s another name for the thing that many of us try to avoid getting caught in -- the daily grind. Whenever FOMO pops up ask yourself, Am I living in the present or caught in a hypothetical future? Am I creating or procrastinating? Many of us go to our graves with the best ideas still trapped inside of us. Use this imagery as the catalyst to help you commit to ship your idea and move forward. — What about you? Like always, I want to hear your thoughts. Just hit reply and say hello. I’ll be sitting here finishing my coffee and reading before diving into experiencing the day.
8 minutes | Sep 30, 2016
I recently shared that a dream of mine came true. I became a monk….for a weekend. I joined a small group at a monastery in the mountains of New York and, nestled amongst the rolling snow-covered peaks, we shared mindful strategies to balance the desires in daily modern living. See, we’re living in one of the most beautiful times in history. It’s a time where since you can learn anything with the click of a button, you can truly be anything you want to be. It’s a time of beautiful abundance, where, as more and more people rise above poverty, we can all have our basic needs met. When our basic needs are met, we can focus less on surviving and more on thriving. We can all activate our genius and live out the greatest version of ourselves. We can all live self-actualized. But in this world of abundance, it’s also a time where we can go crazy buying so much stuff that we lose sight of our greater purpose in life. I’ve desired experiencing the life of a monk for a long time. On summer break in college, I once sat cross-legged by a tree in the woods for an hour outside my mother’s suburban home. I had just read how Siddhartha sat by the trunk of a tree for forty days and so I wanted to see what that was like. I lasted an hour, not nearly the forty days as planned, but still learned quite a bit. This dot in my life continues to forge my present spiritual path. As I sat in stillness, I experienced what some may call oneness.I felt invisible in my connection to nature around me. Miraculously, a deer came within ten feet and ate the grass nearby as a fly paced back and forth on my arm. Outside, I remained still. Inside, my voice screamed with child-like excitement: “There’s a deer just feet away from you and it doesn’t even notice you! How beautiful is this!!!” I’ve had similar transcendental meditative experiences like that throughout my life (ask me another time about the crabs on the lava rock in Hawaii) and each time I walk away desiring the life of a monk. Now, granted, these thoughts last for all of five minutes, but they are profound nonetheless. I dreamed of spending days on end tuning inward to my consciousness and tuning outward to nature at the same time, pondering the delicious gigantic existential questions that we all at some point in our lives try to answer. I never entered monkhood because a.) it felt too selfish to me to avoid my responsibilities b.) I’ve never been good at being told what to do and monasteries are surprisingly rigid and c.) I find meaning in life through experiencing the world's palate. I thirst for travel and hunger for human interaction and I enjoy sensual pleasures that heighten the human experience whether that’s a hike through nature or the feel of drag racing a hot-rod. At the monastery, I pondered something that’s been hard for me to figure out my entire life. I’ve always found it difficult to balance desire with non-attachment in a world where we have so much beauty to experience. Some say the only way to practice non-attachment is to own nothing at all, much like the nude Jains in India or the communal living of modern-day priests. No Objects Owned + Eating Simple Foods like Rice and Drinking Water = Bliss Via Non-Attachment Other schools of thought make it seem that the only way to practice non-attachment is to not let your possessions own you, as in it’s okay to have possessions but don’t let the possessions own you. Possessions + Mindful Ownership + Ability to Let Go of Attachments = Bliss Via Non-Attachment I subscribe to one or the other depending on what time of the day it is. I once lived off of macaroni and cheese for a whole year and now eat clean green organic foods and micro-roasted coffee. I’m attached to the organic foods I continue to desire and cannot fathom going back to gas station coffee. I once rented a fancy BMW when in San Francisco and drove to Big Sur with the sunroof open in awe of the majesty of Big Sur and the incredible cornering ability of the BMW. I continue to drive an old used Honda Civic because it does the job of a car without the weight of debt, but I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t think of that BMW every so often. But now that admiration for the BMW has been replaced with a small obsession with Tesla, but I digress. I once spent years living out of tiny apartments or rooms the size of a closet. For many years, I could easily fit everything I owned into my car. Now, my two-bedroom apartment is full of my wife’s gorgeous gemstones and we have the space to spread out. The only way I’m moving back to a smaller place is if it’s on the shores of San Diego and the beach is my backyard. — As I continue throughout my day and go through my many things, I’ll separate them into two corners. One corner will possess the few things I actually need to help me walk down my path on purpose. The other corner will house the many things that don’t. But rest assured knowing that my coffee will be in the first corner. What about you? As you experience the beautiful majesty that is all around us, how do you balance what you desire with that which you need to walk down your path on purpose? Well, thank you so much for joining me here today and like always, I want to hear from you. Your stories are the fuel for my life’s work. Send me your note at email@example.com.
6 minutes | Sep 29, 2016
1 SIMPLE QUESTION
On this episode, I’d like to talk about your purpose. Because really...your purpose is simple. It’s to create something that you — and only you — can create. So, the next time you wonder if you’re doing the right thing, just ask yourself this one simple question: What am I creating? Because you came into this world through creation, in the answer to that question lies your divine-inspired purpose. Your unique life. Your unique beauty. Your unique story. There’s something only you can create. To help break this down a bit, here are three simple steps to answering that question. What inspires me right now? When you’re living inspired, you are living “in spirit”. You are living in tune with what you came into this world with. Inspiration is the air that fills you like a hot-air balloon. It’s a natural high that no drug could ever reach. It’s the flow where your life’s work pours out of you like water from a natural spring. What can I create with this inspiration? Out of what inspires you, what can you tangibly create this year…this day? If you’re into setting SMART goals, go for it. SMART stands for goals which are specific, measurable, action-based (meaning you can start right now), realistic, and time-based (they have an end stop). They’ve worked well for me in the past and while I don’t use them all the time, they are extremely useful, particulary if you have a history of not following through. Put it on your screen saver, write it on the ceiling above your bed, or set up calendar reminders to ping you every week to remind you. If SMART goals aren’t for you (but something tells me you dig them), then try this. Just ask yourself every day, “What can I create today?” Consider setting up a daily meditation practice and saying this daily affirmation to yourself at the beginning and end of your meditation (or creating one of your own): “I am living inspired, listening to my spirit, and using my gifts to create.” Who am I serving? From billionaire to pauper, I’ve never met anyone whose source of encouragement comes from material objects. Lust for money, power, or fame can only get us so far. True motivation comes from recognizing who you are serving. Let’s face it. We need encouragement to create. Creation takes a lot of long days and late nights. “Good Job” star stickers may have worked well as children, but they fall flat as adults. And that bonus you get after an annual review? That only works for a while. Deep and meaningful encouragement — the type of encouragement that pushes you to create something that matters — comes from a simple “Thank you.” Knowing that something you worked so hard to achieve in your life had a positive impact on another’s life will take you further than any gold star or holiday bonus. And the funny thing? The more thanks you get for your work, the more people you’ve served in your life, the easier those gold stars and bonuses come your way. They just don’t matter as much anymore. —— So, ask yourself this simple question: What am I creating? Answering that question will help steer you down your beautiful path on purpose. —— Religious ideology set aside, somehow we came into this world. Somehow we came into the being we now call the self. Somehow, we were created. Through nine months of magical creation and beyond, you grew into the beautiful creation of you. Asking ourselves, “What am I creating?” simply brings us back to day one.
11 minutes | Sep 27, 2016
Finding Zen Through Positivity
On this episode, The other day my friend asked me to help her find zen and calm in her life. It was before 7am, I hadn’t had my coffee, and I just come back from rushing around running errands. I was anything but calm. “Who am I to offer such advice?” I quietly thought to myself. She went on to say that she has a lot going on, is mourning the loss of her parents, and could really use the advice. Wanting to help, I told her I’d be happy to offer some advice. Just let me have my coffee first. The truth is, I work really hard to find peace and calm in my life. I’ve rearranged my home decor, my schedule, my food intake, and my friend circle to adopt a calmer and happier lifestyle. I’ve found that happiness takes a concerted effort. It’s anything but accidental. Three years ago I lost my zen happy-go-lucky nature My wife and I had just spent the past year going from honeymooning in Hawaii to having a doctor tell my wife she’d have to “deal with being disabled” and “just live with Lyme Disease.” Mentally exhausted, frustrated, and angry at God, I found myself doing something I thought I’d never do. With a milky white pill in hand, I swallowed my doctor prescribed anti-depressant. Lexapro tasted stale and like chalk and left me feeling drugged throughout the day. I immediately hated myself for taking this pill. I threw out the pills and decided that I would try a holistic approach.I invested heavily into eating a diet that made me feel good and fueled my body with the proper micro and macro nutrients. I decided to deepen my yoga practice and soon after built up my daily meditation practice. When I connect the dots looking backward, I can now see that I’ve been training for this type of challenge my whole life. As Patanjali reminds us, “At various points in our lives, or on a quest, and for reasons that often remain obscure, we are driven to make decisions which prove with hindsight to be loaded with meaning." I’ve found a bit of zen and it’s a beautiful feeling. But I’m nowhere near — I stress no where near — calm and zen all the time. Here are five tips to help you find zen and calm in your life on purpose. Keep It On The Positive It’s only natural to focus on the negative. It’s our natural instinct. We’re attune to pay attention to stressors in our life and fire up the fight-or-flight survival mechanisms we have. As Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct and TED speaker, points out, “Though our survival system doesn’t always work to our advantage, it is a mistake to think we should conquer the primitive self completely.” We have a choice whether or not to focus on the positive or dwell in the negative. As Wayne Dyer also suggests in his film, The Shift, making small choices each day to consciously focus on the positive will shift our habitual negative thinking into positive thinking. Connecting the dots in my life, I can see clearly now that this has been a central theme in my life. My adoption, my father’s alcoholism, and helping to raise an older sister with a learning disability—- these situations only made me into a greater person because I was able to see the positive in each. Being adopted gave me that extra edge to feel special as a child and helped me learn self-reliance on a primal level. It also taught me that love and caring for others goes beyond blood relations. We’re all connected. My father’s alcoholism helped me see that people deserve a second chance. After over a decade of alcoholism, my father found AA and has been sober the past 15 years. His once cold heart is now plush like a teddy bear. I also learned that men of his generation had to deeply suppress their emotions and bottling up emotions only deepens the pit of despair. This understanding of cultural gender norms guides my writing on evolving masculinity along with shaping a men’s retreat I’m putting together in 2016. Helping to be the big brother to my older sister taught me that we as a society love to place labels on people. And these labels do little to show the true beauty of the individual. My sister may have a learning disability, but she has taught me more about love and kindness than anyone in higher education. Food Zen As a personal trainer, I saw so many people struggle to get a fit body by throwing around weights in the gym, but then ignore what they ate only to be constantly disappointed with their body image. In triathlon, food is called The Fourth Discipline and those who master proper nutrition feel calmer, more align, and have more mental and physical stamina. They also tend to have an incredible physique. What do I eat? I’ve tried everything from paleo-eating to vegan and have found that there is no one size fits all for finding your proper diet. I tend to eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of fruits, veggies, grass-fed or organic meats, and coconut oil. Sleep Zen It’s not as simple as getting eight hours a day. Many other factors influence our quality of sleep. I’ve found limiting my food intake an hour before bedtime is crucial to waking up refreshed. As much as I like eating a big meal then taking a snooze, I also feel like I need two more hours of sleep after my alarm goes off when I do that. Meditation There simply is no substitute for meditation and anyone from any religion could practice it. It’s not just for yogis either. Meditation is simply calling attention to the self. It grounds a person and forces someone to look deep inside. Meditation helps you see the real you and offers such a beautiful glimpse of the soul. Meditation helps you gain or regain control of what drives you. It helps break bad habits and helps create good ones. When we sit in meditation, all kinds of thoughts and emotions rise to the consciousness. Sitting in stillness helps teach our brains that we have a choice to go for a ride with these thoughts and emotions or to let them pass. And for those who want that part of it, meditation also helps you grow a closer relationship with the divine. Self-Help Zen I find it really funny that we no longer have “self help” sections in the book store. They are now called “personal development” or something like that. As a kid I would go to Borders, order a latte with way too much sugar, and read through a large stack of books I picked up from self-help section. I saw self-help as a way to level up much like Mario would level up when he ate a mushroom or any other video game hero would level up after learning a new skill or reaching a new level. In essence, video games taught me that self-help is a good thing. And self-help is a good thing. We so easily get caught up in our own ego and don’t want to appear to others that we need help. Instead, we bottle up our struggles and shoulder on. In my interviews, I’ve found that the most successful people are the ones who ask for the most help. They are open about their struggles and call on friends, family, therapists, community members, and anyone else who can help them get to where they want to go. Asking for help is anything but a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. — What about you? As you connect the dots looking backward, what events have shaped you to find zen in your life?
7 minutes | Sep 26, 2016
The Lore of FOMO
On this episode, I’d like to talk about my greatest fear. I’m talking about FOMO. Also known as Fear of Missing Out. And FOMO, unfortunately, I find myself chasing it over and over and over again. Perhaps you can relate? The thing is: Sometimes not giving into FOMO allows you to focus on the things that matter most. It allows you to not be afraid that you’re missing out on a great time with friends or something like that. —- I’ve been hearing a lot of people around me talk about FOMO. . As in my good friend Dan who wanted to join a small group with me last night for a full-moon festival that involved fire-dancing, a great DJ, and live visionary art paintings. The festival was like Burning Man meets Cirque Du Soleil. Like I promised Dan, the night turned out to be incredible fun, full of insight, great conversation, and connecting with inspiring people. But Dan couldn’t go to the festival and choose to say no to FOMO and recognize the excitement in the path he’s currently on. He found himself at the train station in Washington D.C. with a potential 6-hour train ride to come stay at my place. He had nothing packed: no change of clothes or anything. As he almost spontaneously boarded the train, he realized he was chasing FOMO. He was afraid that by not coming up to visit me, he would be missing out on an adventure and a memory that he could tuck away into his mental scrapbook. Even though I’m honored to be his friend, I’m glad he chose to stay home. So he let the train go by. He listened to the whistle blow and returned to his car to dive further into his firefighter training. He has a couple of weeks to prove himself to the fire department in D.C. that he is a high-quality hire and will add incredible value to the firefighting team. Dan is choosing to be the best version of himself and determined to be the best firefighter he can be. He’s choosing to recognize FOMO which is something I, myself, am slowly getting better at. As Dr. Wayne Dyer would put it, Dan is living his life on purpose because he is diving headfirst into what he is passionate about and better serves humanity as a whole even when this dedication comes at the cost of missing out on other things like meeting up with friends. Dan saves lives. He spent the last decade serving the fire department in Memphis, Tennessee, and now rides the red firetruck through the crowded D.C. streets. His last 24-hour shift had twenty house fire calls! But even though he loves his job and finds a deep seed of purpose in his life’s work, that doesn’t mean FOMO doesn’t creep up. Because when you live your life on purpose, you dive into excitement. You choose excitement. You recognize what makes your heart dance and aren’t afraid to move your feet. As Anne Lamott once said, ‘Don’t look at your feet as if you’re doing it right, just dance.” Perhaps you can relate to Dan? I know there isn’t a week (or day) that goes by where I don’t stop and recognize FOMO. Right now, I’m thinking about the yoga class that I’m missing or the book that's still unread on my bookshelf or the friendships that I haven’t been able to nurture much over the past years or the cultures I have yet to travel to or the other many bucket list items I still have to explore. But I’m choosing to be here with you and that’s more purposeful to me. I’m honored that you signed up for this newsletter and I’m determined to be the best version of myself for you. So, here’s one tip that I’ve pulled from all of my interviews and research. Whenever you’re faced with a fork in a road, be confident on the path that you currently walk on and recognize that FOMO is out of “ the deficit mindset” as my friend Jill calls it. The Deficit Mindset is feeling like missing out on an event will mean I am less of something by not going to something or experience something. The opposite is recognizing how fully alive you already are -- right here, right now -- and don't need the event that triggered FOMO to live your life on purpose. Sometimes not giving into FOMO allows you to focus on the things that matter most. Sometimes the path you are currently on (the project you are working on instead of spending time with friends, the work you are doing instead of building your hobby, the children you are raising instead of vagabonding around the world, and so on) is your hero’s journey. It’s a beautiful path that fulfills you without the need to chase FOMO. —- What about you? When have you chosen not to chase FOMO and chose a higher path on purpose?
6 minutes | Sep 25, 2016
Kindness Breeds Kindness
On this episode, I’d like to introduce you to Leon and how one simple act of kindness can spawn a slew of others. ——————— When Leon decided to kill himself, he was literally at the end of his rope. But before he slipped away from us, he had one last thought: What if I did something so crazy, so ‘out there’, and gave this life one more chance? With nothing to lose, Leon filled up his motorcycle’s gas tank and set off from his L.A. flat east to New York. The clothes on his back, one tank of gas, a smile on his face: everything else he’d need would have to come through kindness. His goal? Ride across the world. No big deal, right? (face palm) In his book, The Kindness Diaries, Leon goes into detail just how he accomplished this quest. Inevitably, his story made him an international celebrity and his thought-experiment became the evidence that people around the globe needed to prove the world’s benevolence. People all around the world offered him gas, food, clothes, entertainment, and a roof to sleep under. The only place he had to sleep on the street was in…New York City. Bummer. When Leon and I sat down for an interview, I was in awe of his story and his so very upbeat and optimistic character. This guy almost killed himself, I thought, and the world could have never benefited from his quest. That could have been a terrible shame and thankfully, Leon chose to live. And live he is. Leon’s story teaches me that kindness breeds kindness. Around the same time that I interviewed Leon, I learned that two of my friends, Heather and Jessica, had lost their battle with cancer. Heather was like a sister to me in high school and Jessica and I were accountability partners to help the other transform education. The last time I saw Jessica, we both spoke at Apple on the art of transforming education. The last time I saw Heather, we reminisced about the time we made a wall of photos of all the many mullets we saw on our day-to-day. Like most people, I wondered what I could do to help. I also needed to respect the grieving process. So, I made the simple choice of donating my hair to help another warrior in need. And a couple years later, I finally was able to. I just got it cut yesterday and while I miss my manbun, I’m happy to know that my hair will go to someone in need. A warrior who is on such a beautiful hero’s journey who will receive recognition that the world loves and cares for them. Like Leon’s story teaches us, each of us play such an integral part in this world and we all have a choice to be a negative force or a positive one. When we choose to be a positive force, we elevate the world’s collective conscious. Meaning, when we spread kindness, kindness exponentially grows and grows and grows. One smile sprouts another. Our attention then focuses on the positive in the world. As you continue on your own hero’s journey, join me in trying this: Ask yourself this simple question just once today. How can I spread kindness? Pay someone’s toll behind you. Pick up the tab for the person in back of you when in line. Perhaps consider donating your hair. Or, just smile, establish eye contact, and say hello to all that you meet today. We live in such a magnificent world and I thank you for creating it with me. Wishing you all a beautiful day, full of love, light, and adventure, And oh yeah… Reach out and tell me a story in your life where kindness bred kindness. As a thank you, I'll then randomly select one person and send them a Be Good To People t-shirt. Send me your note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8 minutes | Sep 24, 2016
Creating Your Own Ethos
My coffee's cold and I have Yoda, Joseph Campbell, and a blissful meditation to blame. Instead of writing first thing in the morning like I usually do on the weekend, I read Pathways to Bliss from Campbell, played fetch with Yoda then stayed in meditation beyond the 20-minute timer. But alas, I really excited to share this episode today. On today’s episode, let’s dig into establishing credibility and defining our own ethos. There are 3 Ways to Create Your Own Ethos which I’d like to share with you. By the way, I tend to flip flop the two wrods, credibility and ethos because traditionally they were the same thing. Aristotle, when he wrote the rules on rhetoric, defined ethos as how to establish one’s credibility. Now, ethos is also often used to define one’s own personal beliefs. Pursue Your Mastery A man in his thirties wanted to pursue a Ph.D — the cream of the academic crop. He talked himself out of it because it’d take about five years to achieve the Ph.D — and he’d be forty-nine years old or older after completion. When asked what age he’d be in five years without pursuing the degree, he realized he’d be the same age regardless. The only one holding him back was himself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that we can be anything we want to be, regardless of age. Just take a look at Edwin Dannen who at age 93, still pursues mastery on a daily basis. Lately, the Ph.D has been bashed because it no longer holds as much societal clout any more. Plenty of Ph.Ds file for unemployment. While often times academic goals do hinder our ability to create our life’s work in the present, if a Ph.D is what you strive for, go for it, no matter your age. You define your own means to mastery. Your Rite of Passage (Own Your Ethos) It’s amazing how the world’s many cultures have defined the transition from childhood to adulthood. Whether it’s a tribal celebration around a bonfire that culminates in a post-pubescent circumcision or donning a long black robe w/ cap and tassel to receive a slip of paper that says “You Are Now Credible”, each culture has attempt to clearly define the transition from childhood to adulthood. In Freudian logic, it’s where we transition from looking to Mommy and Daddy for safety and become Mommy and Daddy ourselves. > In Western culture, academia plays a key role in our cultural rite of passage. You are an adult when you get your diploma. > But it’s so easy to put off ownership. It’s a lot easier to blame someone else for the mistakes we make. Instead, recognize your genius right now. Understand that you came into this world with a beautiful unique set of gifts that no diploma, mother, father, or ceremony could grant you. > Your rite of passage came with your first breath. And breathe deep my friends, because the air is as crisp as a fresh apple. Create Your Life’s Work Now (Even If You Want a Ph.D) So often we hold ourselves back from putting our work out there in the present, mostly because of imminent failure (even in small doses). In school, students write essays and create projects that don’t go further than the teacher’s desk. The world outside academia rarely gets to see all the incredible work students create on a daily basis. So we wait until we don a cap and gown (w/ tassel) and receive a slip of paper that hopefully proves we won’t make a fool of ourselves. But we will (even in small doses). And that’s okay. Without getting too grim, we like to think that the sun will always rise tomorrow, but it doesn’t have to. And that breath you just took? It’s a beautiful gift. So create your work now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now. Just take a look at Bhavani Esapathi who recently won Wired’s Creative Hack Award. Diagnosed with a severe chronic illness at a young age, Bhavani has gone on to create Chronically Driven — a collection of real stories from people around the globe who have persevered through chronic illness and created a better world. For these people, illness has not doused their flame. It’s set their life on fire. Remember that it’s a beautiful world we live in that needs you and each of us play an integral part in helping another.
8 minutes | Sep 23, 2016
Lessons from The Lotus Flower
Have you ever learned something that apparently the rest of the world knew, but you didn’t? For me, that came in the form of a lotus flower yesterday. I’ve seen the flower all over. It’s about as ubiquitous as the zen Enso symbol in the business of mindfulness. I just never knew its story. So when a new yoga instructor spoke about the lotus flower during class and an old friend shows up to a dinner party with a new lotus flower tattoo, I took this coincidence as an opportunity to learn more about the flower. What makes a lotus flower so unique is that it’s a little beautiful bright flower that sits atop the water with roots that travel deep into the muddy muck far below. Its symbolism represents the beauty that can grow out of the muck in our lives. What can it teach us? It turns out, quite a bit. Two Simple Lessons from the Lotus Flower Out of the Muck, Create Something That Matters The muck in our lives can be life’s greatest teacher. As Pema Chodron reminds us, “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy can be our teacher.” When you put a microscope to the muck in your life, what can it teach you? For Billy Starr, creator of the Pan-Mass Challenge charity bike ride which has raised over 500 million for cancer research, that muck came in the form of losing his mother to cancer. After losing his mother to melanoma at the young age of forty-nine, twenty-five-year-old Billy hit a new low. It became hard to focus on anything other than the memories of his mother. So he went for a bike ride. Then another. And another. Instead of ignoring the muck in his life, he dug in deep and grew roots. These roots blossomed into one of the most successful charity race-like events to date. Billy’s story is not unique, however. A number of people I’ve interviewed have turned the muck of their lives into an opportunity to create something that matters. The formula? Multiply the muck times your unique talent and add in a big, hairy audacious dream that inspire you. The sum total will be far greater than anything you could have imagined before digging into the muck. Bring Your Muck Into Focus At the beginning of this new year, I sat down to write with the full intention to continue work on a book I’ve been putting off. What happened instead, however, grew into over 2,000 words that I splashed in my journal like Jackson Pollock threw paint on a canvas. My stream-of-consciousness led me to discover that I have a bit of a problem with perfectionism. But I learned that just writing can sometimes be the best self-help. As Julia Cameron put it in her book to help people discover their unique art, called aptly The Artist’s Way, “Just as a good rain clears the air, a good writing day clears the psyche.” First, I wrote out all the things I really want to do in the near future, like getting my yoga certification. Then, I wrote out why I feel unable to do it. In the yoga example, I had a deep desire for quite some time to immerse myself in an ashram in India for a two month-long yoga certification. Since I couldn’t do this without sacrificing a job I love along with being a caretaker for my loving wife, I put it off until the timing is right. All or nothing was my logic. And I’ve always been a “go big or go home” kind of guy. Perhaps it’s the snowboarder machismo in me. Compromise has always been a dirty word — a bit like sipping tea when craving coffee. But this logic is perfectionism in a mask. And while perfectionism can be a beautiful trait, it can also lead to never getting anything done. So, I left it up to the power of intention. I literally wrote out that if a yoga certification class were to come to my attention that day in a timeline that allowed me to keep my greater responsibilities, I’d move to make it happen. It just so happened that an hour later I entered a new studio who just announced a yoga teacher training program that looked to fit in perfectly. And you all know the end of this story. I ended up focusing my efforts and joined that yoga teacher training program and gladly walked away with my certificate to teach. —- If you can’t stand your job and feel drained at work, identify what it is exactly that drains you. Is it because you’re not inspired or feel pulled down by negative coworkers? If you’re feeling held back, what is it exactly that’s holding you back? Is it feelings of self-doubt or a disempowering relationship? But instead of just thinking about it. Pull the tangled ball of thoughts into a straight line by grabbing a pen or opening up a word processor. Type. Write. Dig your hands in the muck. “Multiply the muck times your unique talent and add in a big, hairy audacious dream that inspires you. The sum total will be far greater than anything you could have imagined before.”
6 minutes | Sep 22, 2016
Avoiding Mid-Life Crisis
On this episode, I’d like to talk about keeping that New Year Resolution Feeling Alive. Every new year, millions of people around the world celebrate this new beginning. Millions share new resolutions and goals knowing that they have 365 new chances to live out their greatest self. During the new year every year, our culture shifts the idea of a normal conversation. Instead of being asking, “What do you do?” at networking events or dinner, for instance, we’re asked about our resolutions and the conversation focuses on the meaningful changes we all want to have in our lives. The collective positive energy around this time of year is palpable — like a race car driver waiting for the green flag to start. One foot on the brake, the other revving the supercharged engine. But for many, this feeling lasts only a few weeks at best. Like you also do, I create a list of yearly goals I intend to achieve that range from books I intend to read and experiences I intend to attract into my life. I fully intend to achieve these goals. But here’s what I’ve learned. So often in my life I got way too attached to a goal and had a sort of tunnel vision. The destination, the goal, blinded me from the beauty of the journey. Being attached to the outcome of a goal, we lose the beauty in each day. So, how do we live our lives to the fullest, set goals, and soak up the marrow of life (As Thoreau would put it) without being too focused on an outcome? Practice and Non-Attachment Practice your intentions which could lead you to your yearly goals on a daily basis. If you intend to be more mindful, then set up a daily meditation practice, join a yoga studio, or find a new mindful mastermind group that builds you up to be a better person. If you intend to attract a positive cash flow in your life, then set up a daily practice towards building passive income, mastering a skill that would increase your hourly freelance cost, or delegate more tasks to automation or a team of assistants so you can focus on expanding your business. Dig deep into your practice. Work to achieve mastery. Just don’t get too caught up in it. Practice non-attachment to your goal. If you have a goal to make “X” amount of money, try not to be so attached to that number that it causes you to act in a malevolent way towards another person and be less humble. If you have a goal to lose 25 pounds by summer, don’t get down on yourself if you lose 20. Treat the means to the goal (each day) with just as much love and appreciation as the intended outcome. Goals can help us drive forward and live out the greatest version of ourselves only when we’re not blinded by them. Perhaps attachment to resolutions and goals comes from a source of emptiness, as if we need a goal to feel a sense of being. This makes sense too, considering the overwhelming amount of messages that we get through media that tell us that our lives are not complete without a new gadget, a slimmer waistline, or more money. If we allow this type of messaging to control our feeling of well-being, we’re attached to the outcome that a goal may bring and we’ve already lost the whole point of setting goals.The point of setting goals is to build us to be a better person so we can live out the greatest version of ourselves, or as Abraham Maslow would put it “living self-actualized.” Practice. Practice. Practice. Just be open to spontaneity. Aristotle reminds us that “We are what we repeatedly do.” If what we do every day is work so hard that we lose sight of the present, then we enter what Carl Jung called enantiodromia: a.k.a. a mid-life crisis. That’s when one day, says Jung, after many years of working so hard that keeping busy becomes habit, we lift our heads up from work and wonder where the years have gone. As we continue throughout our lives, join me in remembering to look up every day. To see the art of the woodpecker as he meanders through the tree branches looking for that perfect spot to find breakfast. To witness that beautiful prism of color that fills the sky right before the sun rises above (or dips below) the horizon. To notice the way your partner looks at you with a smile when she thinks you don’t notice. Yes, love, I see those looks you give me and I love em. — What about you? How do you enjoy both the journey and the destination of the goals we set in our lives? Reach out and tell me by sending me an email at email@example.com
10 minutes | Sep 21, 2016
What Story Do You Tell Yourself?
On this episode, I’m going to share with you two simple ways to find the story that drives your decision making. Most likely unconscious, we all have an internal narrative that either pushes us to grow or holds us back from reaching our unlimited potential. But before we talk about our internal narrative, let’s talk about how stories drive our lives. ———- King Arthur, Twilight And Our Parents All Have This in Common We are a culture obsessed with myths, legends, and story tales. Just pick up any children’s book today and they are full of the same stories we once listened to as children. And our parents listened to. And their parents. And so on. We’ve been telling stories for millennia. Which makes sense since the word “myth” derived from the Greek word “mythos” which translates literally as “story”. We’ve been telling stories all the way back to when my good friend Lucy roamed the African plain around 3 million years ago: the days where we hunted and gathered for food then sat around the campfire telling stories. From dragons to vampires, we continue to tell stories that take us into the strange world of The Unknown: a mystical world that both enchants us and terrifies us. And teaches us lessons to live by. While we may not be hanging around the campfire anymore, we still sit around light at night and listen to stories. They just flicker through a television or smartphone. We continue to be the storytelling animal. Beyond the fictional stories we share in our world, there are other stories that we live by and perhaps don’t even know it. These are the myths that we tell ourselves. Our inner dialogue. Our inner voice. The story within which we write our lives. For example, Oh, I can’t do that. I can’t be a writer. I can’t travel the world. I can’t be a mother AND a CEO of a company. I can’t take a gap year. There are stories that we live by that regulate our lives and perhaps stop us from living out the greatest version of ourselves. Thing is, once we realize what stories control our lives, this awareness lifts the myth into a fog that blows away with the slight breeze of your breath. Here Are Two Simple Steps to Find Your Myth Right-Brain Writing (10-20 minutes) Our left brain loves to get in the way of our thinking. The left brain loves to chime in and tell us that spelling words and putting proper punctuation are more important than expressing creative ideas trapped inside. So, put your left brain to rest and unleash your right brain. To do this, you just need to act fast. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and open up a word processor or notebook. Personally, I have to type when I do this because I write a lot slower than I type and have found typing to be more conducive to this activity. At the top, write down this question: “What stories do I tell myself and where did they come from?” Then start writing. And keep writing. Do Not Let The Pen, Pencil, or Cursor stop from moving onward. You may write gibberish: non-sensical prose that should your mother have found it when you were a child she’d most certainly hire a therapist. That’s okay. You need to flush out your thoughts. You may want to start off by defining what a myth is. You may write about your favorite stories. You may even write about the stories within a religion you believe. When you get stuck and are not sure what to write again, ask yourself “Why did I write that last sentence?” and answer that question. If that doesn’t work, go back to the original question and start brand new. Talk about a new story. Just let go and keep writing. When we speed write, we allow our unconscious mind to speak through our words. Myth Meditation (20 - 30 minute) There are many types of meditation. In Zazen Meditation, we think of nothing but “just breathing”. In a Loving Meditation, we breathe love into our hearts and breathe out fear, perhaps with an affirmation like “May all beings be free from suffering and find peace.” In Japa Meditation, we say a word for God or “Ah” while visualizing the life we wish to grow into. In what I’m calling here Myth Meditation, you sit and meditate on this one question: “What stories do I live by and where did they come from?” Find a quiet space and sit in a comfortable position with eyes closed, perhaps put your tongue gently to the roof of your mouth and ask yourself the question. Thoughts will begin to emerge — perhaps related or unrelated — and will take you on a journey. Every time you drift away, just ask yourself the question again. And again. And again. Perhaps you will just float there with the question for a while. Memories may surface of your childhood (like they did for me), some good and others not so much. Whatever comes to the surface, just let it be. Recognize it and then let it pass through. When your timer goes off, journal out your thoughts much like you would write out a dream. Find the common thread that ties your thoughts together. This is the story that drives your life narrative. —— What are some examples of stories that I have lived by? My self-worth depends on the approval of others I do not have enough time All my life, I’ve tried so hard to fit in. In high school, even though my friends tell me I was quite popular, I always felt estranged from the other groups. I floated between the many cliques in school and remained friendly with all, but never felt like I found my kin. Funny enough, I was voted “Best Figure” as a senior superlative when all I felt was skinny and flabby. I tried so hard to fit in, when all I needed to do was fit into my own mold of me. Lesson here: Instead of watering down yourself to appease others, follow what inspires you to live out the greatest version of yourself. If we came into this world already complete as Lao Tzu teaches us in the Tao Te Ching, then instead of trying to fit into another person’s mold of what is right, try instead to fit into the mold of you. The Book of Matthew has a similar message in 10:49: “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” In other words, push aside the ego that tells you to fit into the mold others create for you and instead fit into the divinely created being that you already are.
7 minutes | Sep 20, 2016
Living Inspired "In Spirit"
I’ve just made a French press (a Costa Rican slow-dry of sorts for all of you coffee lovers) and am listening to the dance of a morning drizzle outside my office window. What a beautiful morning. I’m thinking a lot about inspiration. Join me for one simple thought this morning. On this episode, I’d like to talk about what it means to live inspired. "Let inspiration be your guide. When you're inspired, you're literally walking ‘in spirit’." —- Ask yourself this simple question... Are you inspired? It’s an amazingly simple question that can help us steer down our paths on purpose. When we break apart the word “inspired”, we find it comes from two words "in" and “spirit". So, the word literally means "in spirit." In other words, when you are inspired by something, it means that you are living in line with your spirit, says Dr. Wayne Dyer. The idea goes that if you are inspired, you are walking your spirit's path, and that is when things just click. Work is easier. Coincidences happen that help you move further down the road. It's just that simple. What’s interesting to me is that I’ve been asking this simple question to my students for the past ten years and I keep finding the same situation. Teenagers have a heck a time figuring out what inspires them. But I don’t think teenagers are alone because when I open this question up to other people — many in their forties and fifties — there’s still tremendous confusion. The philosopher Krishnamurti would suggest that it only makes sense why many people have trouble identifying what inspires them simply because we have grown up in a culture that seldom focuses on inspiration. Instead, we focus, says Krishnamurti, on taking a safe route of job security and live under the fear of failure. Instead of walking down a path of inspiration, we follow cultural dogma that keeps people in check and idolizes the shiny “next big thing” over following inspiration. We’re under the illusion that walking down The Path of Inspiration is the riskier path. Risky because no one has walked it yet. Risky because of the unknown. But here’s the thing, says Dr. Wayne Dyer, The Path of Inspiration ( walking “in spirit” ) is the safest path of all. Because when you follow your bliss and walk comfortably down a beautiful (albeit perhaps scary) untrodden path, God (and the universal powers that be) are on your side. What am I currently inspired about? This past week, I was featured on a new large media platform, The Good Men Project. On there, I wrote a piece that dives deep into a very personal story and what I'm learning about being a great husband. I share what’s been going on behind the scenes in my life over the past four years as my wife and I grow through her healing from Lyme Disease. Just Google “Mark Guay (space) The Good Men Project” if you’d like to read the article. Just keep some tissues nearby. The article has already gotten over 1,000 shares and I’ve received emails from people I’ve touched with my story — one of which is a highly successful naturopathic doctor in the Seattle, Washington area. At the same time as this article reaches virility on a major platform that focuses on living authentically, an idea my friend Cov and I have been throwing around for a few weeks just seems to be clicking so smoothly. We’re looking at creating one-day design thinking workshops to help inspire people to have more creative confidence. The design challenge? How can we better solve the major problems facing our global and local community?” Time will tell where this goes, but as I gain more creative confidence in myself to live more inspired, I'm learning so much about what it means to truly, deeply, live. It’s a beautiful time to be a live. A beautiful time to dance our own dance and sing our own song. Like I’ve said many times before, it’s a new rennaisance that we live in today and each of us need to play our part. And our part is embedded in living inspired. I'm walking inspired and I invite you to join with me.
12 minutes | Sep 19, 2016
Five Accountability Strings to Pull You UP
I just poured a piping hot cup of holy basil tea and am about to make some serious superfood pancakes as I wait for the sun to peak over Mt. Beacon (coffee will come later ;) Before all that, I’d like to share with you some thoughts on building up an accountability system that keeps the creative engine churning. And churning. And churning. Because let’s face it: The truth is real extraordinary work requires a team. Yes, you are strong on your own. But you are much stronger when you surround yourself with people who build you up. ---- Allow me to take you back to an event in my life that changed my life. My feet felt like slabs of concrete and as my body shivered, the thought of a hot shower and a bed to collapse into taunted me like the sirens in Greek maritime lore. As I passed the mile 20 marker, a bed of green grass poked through the Philadelphia snow and I thought how convenient that it was just the perfect size for my 6’2” frame to lay down for a nap. I could lay down right and drift off. I could end the pain, I thought. I looked over to my left and nodded to Rich, the guy I’ve been training with for months to get us ready for the Philadelphia Marathon. I puffed up my chest and forced a smile and as he continued to run I did too, shadowing his movements pretending like I wasn’t struggling. Inwardly, however, I wanted to quit. It was November. It was freezing cold. I was tired. Step by step -- like a pendulum -- I bounced on and turned inward for empowerment, repeating my positive mantra meditation, and in what now seems like just a few minutes later, Rich and I celebrated our victory with a warm pretzel, chicken broth, and, in the kind of celebration that screams irony at an event that celebrates fitness, we drank beer. Delicious, sugary, glutenous, chest bumping beer. My drive to finish the race propelled me forward. But sometimes I struggle to regain this level of motivation. -- The other day as I sat down to write, for instance, I stared at a blank screen: the cursor taunting me like Medusa’s eyes. Frozen in stone, my fingers just hovered over the keyboard. Eventually, I closed up my laptop and said to myself that tomorrow is a new day. A few hours later, one of those tiny miracles happened. There, at the top of my email inbox rested a beautiful message from one of you. As I read through the email, I felt like on cloud nine. The message said my podcast and positivity had helped them greatly through a very difficult time. “My podcasting!? You mean someone actually listens to my stuff” I thought as the internal voice of criticism shot up like a firework on Independence Day. Motivated once again, I reopened my laptop and words poured out of me like a spring of water. This wasn’t the first time a tiny miracle motivated me to push through a creative block. It seems that every time I personally struggle to create something myself, something comes my way that says "HELLO....DUDE...YOU NEED TO CREATE MORE OF THIS AND THAT… YOUR WORK IS IMPORTANT" That email brought me to tears and reminded me of an email from five years ago when a former student had explained that my positivity as her teacher had kept her on the positive when secretly at home she had considered suicide. When I struggle to create something, I want to learn how to grow through it and that becomes the seed which blossoms into my creation. But I’ve learned that’s not enough to be consistent. To continue to create consistently, I pull from multiple strings of accountability: five of which I’d like to share with you today. You may have some of these strings, but if you don’t, I urge you to try them out. Five Accountability Strings to Pull You Up When You’re Down Motivation From The Inside Some days (not that many to be completely honest) I just feel super inspired and get out of bed, ready to rock and roll and create something. Other days, I force myself to sit in meditation and after twenty minutes of mindful meditation followed by repeating positive affirmations, I feel inspired to create. Motivation From The Outside Some days, I will read an email like the one I shared above that will motivate me. Other days, I know my wife, Kaitlyn, and I will be having dinner where we’ll share our stories of what we created that day. I want to show up for that conversation with something, mainly because she always shows up and I’m always inspired by her creative genius. Other days, I will need my accountability partners. Each week I talk to two accountability partners who ask me what I created that week and what I plan on creating the next. Knowing that these two people are counting on me help turn on the creator inside. My friend Chris Spurvey and I chat every Wednesday for a quick 30 minutes. Chris is a highly successful vice president for a big wig bank in Canada. He is the one who helps me realize that “selling” is not a dirty word and that when what you sell comes from your heart, it’s sharing. And sharing your art with others may just be the divine purpose we’re all here to fulfill. My friend Covington Doan and I chat every Thursday. Cov is a design-thinking website development wiz in Texas who also owns a fantastic coffee shop called Stupid Good Coffee in Dallas. We met at Stanford d.school a few years ago and have each helped the other to follow through on turning ideas into creation. Progress is Better Than Perfect (Just Ship It) I have always believed that done is better than perfect. Otherwise, the perfectionist will always tell me it’s not good enough to share. The fight-or-flight part of the brain will creep in and tell me my work is crap and no one wants to read it. But if I never took a first step I never would have ran a marathon. The Perks of Being a Student When I’m learning something that inspires me, I churn the creative engine faster. For instance, when I went through my yoga teacher training I was once again humbled and excited to create. Humbled because I realize how much I needed to learn and excited because there was so much to learn. When we’re learning, we’re growing, and when we’re growing we push through to create something newly remarkable. Just make sure to choose the right teacher that motivates you. My yoga teacher trainers, Richard and Liz, are extremely dedicated to their craft and every week they come to the studio excited to share something they are personally working to improve along with a lesson they’ve learned through their years of experience. Their expertise weaved together with their own humble trials help motivate me. Build Yourself Up With Empowering People I once hired a high-profile ( i.e. ridiculously super expensive) book editor who was really helpful…at making me feel like a terrible writer. Yes, we all need to be open to criticism (I certainly learned that through my brief stint as an actor). It takes many critical eyes to create something of perfection, but it equally requires a lot of people to help cheer you on. Like the marathon, for instance, just imagine how many people would never ever finish the marathon if there wasn’t a giant crowd cheering them on as they ran. I can tell you from personal experience, endurance racing is a heck of a lot harder when there isn’t a giant crowd cheering to propel you forward. Build a crowd of encouragement through the friends that you choose, the accountability partners you pick, and the places you choose to spend your time. — Sometimes, however, all it takes to push through a creative barrier is a bit of trust in yourself knowing that whatever your marathon is, it all begins with one step. As Van Gogh put it, "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
8 minutes | Sep 18, 2016
The Growing Edge
Just ask my wife, I’m the worst person to watch a movie with. Why? Because I ask question after question after question. Why did the director choose to cut that scene short? What makes what he just said ironic? What are we being taught to believe here? I confess. I’m a serial deconstructor (holds hands out to be cuffed). But this is what I’m trained to do after all. I’m trained to deconstruct stories. I’m trained to see what stories teach us. And I’m trained to show you what I see. And stories, my friends, teach us way more than we may think. From our ancient days of community campfires to the bedtime stories of our youth to the television flickering in front of millions every day, stories continue to shape how we define normal. Stories continue to teach us what we can and cannot do and what we should and should not do. Stories define status quo. So, why am I telling you this? Because sometimes the stories that we listen to hold us back from activating the greatest version of ourselves. For example, there’s a story I’m sure you’ve heard of before that involves a guy named Icarus and wax wings. Do you know it? Perhaps you do, but very likely you only know half of the story because only half of the story continues to be passed down. The story goes that a father and son are trapped in a prison in a tower and the father creates wings for both of them to fly away. Wax binds the winds to their backs so they can coast out of the window and fly free. The son, Icarus, is told that he shouldn’t fly too close to the sun for the sun would melt the wax and he’d fall into the ocean, drown, and die. Bummer. So what does the kid do? Pretty much what any kid with too much energy would do. He has all sorts of fun: twisting, performing aerial acrobatics, feeling the true extent of his freedom. But whoops, he gets a little too carried away and flies too close to the sun and bam, the wax melts off his back and the teen falls to his grim demise to drown in the ocean. The lesson: Hubris, overbearing pride, leads to arrogance and arrogance leads to a mighty fall. Don’t push yourself too high to the sun lest you melt your own wings. Pretty good advice, right? It’s definitely a story I’ll share with my children. But that’s only half the story. In The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin points out that our culture continues to only share half of the story and only half of the lesson is learned. We learn not to become pompous and arrogant in our ways, but because it’s not countered with the lesson in the other half of the story, this dampens our sense of what we can do in our lives. This story holds us back from actually achieving remarkable things, what Godin refers to as our art to offer the world. What’s the rest of the story? Icarus was also told not to fly too close to the ocean for the waves would lap up, harden the wax on his wings, and he’d fall to the ocean unable to fly away and would drown. The lesson: Don’t think too low of yourself. Don’t set your bar so low that you suffer the same exact demise as flying too high. Since reading Godin’s book, I’ve spent the past few years asking my students the story of Icarus in hopes that students would eventually begin telling the whole story and feel comfortable once again with flying closer to the sun. But alas, that hasn’t happened…yet. One day I know it will, but for now, my students continue to only share half the story. And I continue to see my students afraid to really push themselves out of fear that they will fail. And yes, failure sucks. Flying too close to the sun (failing) sucks. But flying too close to the ocean sucks just the same. We’re just not sharing this message enough. I honestly believe that we (yes, you) are capable of far more than we’re taught to believe. In school, perhaps we should be pushing our students to fail more because what better safe space to fail do we have? In the world of high-stakes testing and a tracking system that sets some students on a rigid path to Ivy League beginning as young as kindergarten, our students are taught not to fail. But what if failing sometimes signifies that you’re pushing yourself to the limit? That you’re growing your edge? So that tomorrow when you go to the edge, you can walk out a little bit farther. It’s like this: When your edge grows and my edge grows, we all walk out a whole lot farther. Just imagine the beautiful view from there. It’s stunning, right? Here’s to you growing your edge with me.
12 minutes | Sep 17, 2016
Branching Beyond Playing It Safe
On this episode, I’d like to talk about playing it safe. As a teacher, I hear this all the time: -- I’m going to go to college to get the four year degree -- I’m going to get my dream job -- I will be happy But, I have to admit, while college was so important for my own personal growth, I’m not really sure if a four-year degree is worth it for everybody. Well, at least it’s not worth it anymore to take the safe route. Why? Well, because quite honestly, I’ve met many former students who went to college for what their parents wanted them to do instead of what they wanted to do and a few years after college, I often hear them talk of enrolling once again in college to get the degree they actually wanted. Take Brian for example. The last time I saw Brian, he had just gotten his prom photo taken and ran a 5-minute mile on the school track team. But now, as I looked in front of me stood a grown man with a beard donning a set of nurse scrubs. “Mr. Guay…is that you?” he said as I carefully adjusted my paper-thin gown that doctors give patients before a physical exam. “Why yes it is.” I replied with a sheepish grin feeling a bit like a celebrity on one hand and on the other hand making sure my gown covered my buttocks. “How have you been Brian? You still running these days?” I said. He shot back a look of surprise. “You remember me?” he said. “Of course” I replied. We talked for a few minutes and in that short span of time as Brian took my height and weight before the doctor arrived, he had said what I cringe to hear. “I’m currently working as a nurse, but thinking of going back to school for business so I can open up a food truck.” Brian explained to me that he originally went to school for nursing because his parents had said it was the smart thing to do. But he’s bored — really bored — and he feels the calling to follow his inspiration and open up a food truck. Brian is not alone and unfortunately, I hear this quite a bit. Like Brian, many people leave high school to begin a career or get a degree in something that is safe. I don’t blame them at all. Growing up in a blue-collar family, I know the feeling of depending on the next paycheck. It’s a terrible feeling. So I get safe. But playing it safe rarely works out. So, what holds people back from following their bliss and living inspired? A bit of ancient wisdom may have the answer. The Four Branches That Hold Us Back We are a deeply rooted species that is resistant to change say Chip and Dan Heath, two sociologists at Stanford who have devoted their lives to helping make large-scale societal shifts a real thing. Their book Switch changed my life and got me to better understand how to make real large-scale change on the systematic level. The Heath brothers explain that over time and through generations, we have come to define (and very slowly redefine) the idea of “normal” or “common sense”. This clouds our perception as we go through life and steers us away from any path that isn’t considered safe. In yoga, we call this Avidya which translates as the film that covers our ability to see clearly. To see clearly, we need to let go of the following: Attachment Attachment is the tug-o-war between owning things and having them own you. It’s what makes some people need a Rolex to feel successful and others (like some Jains in India) to literally have (or wear) nothing at all to feel content. It’s getting upset when you can’t find that favorite pair of yoga pants and getting upset when someone offers unsolicited criticism. It’s that feeling of disappointment when a dream you held on to for so long is holding you back from living the life that is waiting for you. Join me in trying this: In meditation or perhaps when you have only a few seconds in the subway commute and are feeling upset, repeat the mantra “Let Go”. On a deep inhale say to yourself “Let” and on the exhale say “Go”. Ego Like you can’t see the current when in the river, but can easily see the swift moving water when sitting on the shore, ego is there with us as we swim through life. Ego is the wall we put up to separate ourselves from another. It’s the identity crisis that follows losing a job and the reason we stand in line for hour on Black Friday to get the shiny new object for a price we can actually afford. It’s the fancy letters we put before our names to represent a degree and the selfie I took at the gym yesterday. But it’s also feeling guilty when you do have the shiny new objects, the fancy letters, or the bulging biceps. Join me in trying this: When I feel emotions getting the best of me, I turn inward to my breath and through meditation begin to see ego hiding behind my emotions. When I call out ego, the curtain gets pushed aside and it no longer controls me. The next time you find emotions getting the best of you, ask yourself “Is this my ego talking?” Fear Fear is doubting our ability to slay the Arthurian dragon that hides the gold. It’s not taking that first step because you don’t feel ready to run a marathon or not joining a yoga studio because you don’t look like a Lululemon model. It’s bundling up our kids so much they look like a fluffy marshmallow when they board the morning school bus. It’s the voice inside our heads that like to say “you can’t do that” and it’s the reason we idolize celebrities as if they were any different than us. Join me in trying this: Often times, we fear most what we can’t control. So, find something you do have control over that you’re scared of and do something about it. For me, I’m terrified of heights and I can control whether or not I go rock climbing in a safe indoor facility. And boy, you should see me. I shake and quiver as I climb up those rocks and probably look ridiculous. But I’m pushing through fear. Rejection Rejection is falling off the proverbial horse and not getting back up on it to try again. It’s getting bullied on the playground and taking a new route home to avoid the bullies. It’s appearing on Shark Tank in hopes to land that needed seed funding only to be laughed off the stage with no money in the bank, then never starting up a business again. Simply put, it’s settling for anything less than the greatest version of yourself. Join me in trying this: Whenever you feel scared to try again, read the biographies of the people you wish to emulate. Like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison, living out the greatest version of oneself always has a not-so-beautiful trail of failures that lead to that one ten-year-overnight success. So be patient, trust in yourself, and go after whatever it is that is in your heart of hearts.
7 minutes | Sep 16, 2016
On this episode, I’d like to share a bit of what we can learn from coincidences. After you get home from your run, get to work, or just have a minute to send a message, send me a message with a story of how a coincidence shaped your life. If you have one that is. Because coincidences...well, they are a seriously interesting dot that happens in life. My mother and Paulo Coelho would agree: there are no such thing as coincidences. In fact, Coelho, author of The Alchemist, goes further to say that “coincidence is the language of the stars” and that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” Let me share a quick story. A few days ago, I sat there listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer’s memoir on audiobook. Read by Dyer himself, he shares the personal stories that have evolved him as a being. A few particular poignant moments were the times at which Dyer stood up against injustice: once as a 3rd grader and another time as a U.S. Navy soldier. It got me thinking about how I sized up to Dyer’s noble record. I thought about times in my life where I was more of a wallflower than an activist, like the time where a racial slur was said at the dinner table and I didn’t call out a man’s ignorance because I didn’t want to upset the dinner host. A bit hard on myself, I got in the car to pick up lunch. There, at the deli, I "coincidentally" bumped into a former student of mine. He approached me at the deli and said, “Hey Mr. Guay, can I ask you a question…” to which I replied “Of course, but call me ‘Mark'." He told me about a new college class of his. There’s a classmate whose gender is ambiguous and his professor apparently makes jokes about whether to call the classmate “he” or “she”. My former student sits in class steaming with anger, unsure of what to do. So he asked me. “What would you do in this situation Mr. G…I mean Mark?” he said. And I laughed. I thought about how just thirty minutes earlier I was thinking about similar times in my life where I had a similar crossroad. I talked him through a few hypotheticals and offered what I thought to be good advice for him to make up his own mind about what to do. He thanked me and walked away and told me he’d keep me posted about the outcome. —- I have no doubt that this "coincidence" was meant for a reason. I do not know the reason nor may I ever, but that doesn’t shake my confidence in the causality of this meeting. There have been many what appeared to be random coincidences that led to beautiful miracles in my life: * Making a last minute random decision to enroll in a BFA Acting program and philosophy class, both of which led me sitting next to my now wife, Kaitlyn. * Feeling extremely burnt out from teaching and thinking of quitting then getting a letter from a former student telling me how my positive outlook on life stopped her from putting a knife to her wrist. * Reading Jean Kilbourne’s research on gender identities in college, interviewing her ten years later as a journalist, and then randomly introducing Jean to someone I just met which led to her being a guest of honor at Omega Institute. And of course there are many yet "coincidences" in life that have yet to appear less than coincidental. But that’s okay. I don’t need to know the ripple effect of all of these events. Because that’s not the point. — What about you? When have there been moments in your life where what seemed to be coincidences turned into beautiful miracles?
10 minutes | Sep 15, 2016
Today I’m drinking something unusual which I thought you’d like to know about. It’s a type of mushroom called Chaga. Have you heard of it? Some people at the coffee shop down the street were raving about it, so I decided to give it a try. . Yes, it tastes mushroomy. Yes, it’s totally legal. No, it’s not psychedelic. Why am I drinking it? Because I’m intrigued by the many health benefits it supposedly offers. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not I grow the ability to shoot fireballs out of my hands, run really fast, or grow taller, but for now I’d like to introduce to you my friend Michael Grimes. On this episode, let’s take a look at how one guy is following his SOUL and reinventing a brand new public school system that centers on mindfulness. —— When news of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction spread throughout the U.S., Michael knew what he had to do. So, he packed up his belongings and drove to New Orleans to build up a school system in need. Thousands of displaced students needed quality education and Michael heard his calling to help. He heard The Call to Purpose. In just ten months time, Michael developed the curriculum needed for three pop-up charter schools and brought much-needed structure to an area flipped upside by Mother Nature. Was it easy? No. Was it safe? Definitely not. But Michael knew deep down that this was just something he had to do. Transforming the lives of students through education reform is in his DNA. Why? Because before all of this, a dot occurred in Michael’s life that many, myself included, can’t even begin to emotionally understand. Michael lost his younger brother to suicide. This unimaginable tragedy could have easily caused Michael to grow deep into depression, which he admits he, understandably, did struggle with at a time, but Michael found the power within him to continue to walk forward down his path. The world needs a better education system, Michael thought, one that doesn’t just teach to the intellectual needs of students and he was going to help build it. As he put it, he felt a calling to help students “understand who they are, to connect with their passions and purpose, or to develop the social, emotional, physical, or spiritual aspects of their beings.” Katrina, his brother’s suicide, a passion for education reform — these dots in Michael’s life connected him to his deep seed of purpose. They further led him to create the truly audacious goal of a new public charter school system that is designed for the entire individual. Called SOUL — School of Universal Learning — Michael and his team have created a system that teaches “to all parts of the being, mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.” The first SOUL school is scheduled to begin in 2017 in Southern California. So, what can we learn from Michael’s journey? Turning Muck Into Opportunity Like the lotus flower that grows out of the muddy muck in a swamp to blossom into a beautiful flower that rests gently atop the water, we all have our own share of personal tragedies we encounter throughout our lives. Sometimes it’s these bits of tragedy that direct or re-direct us further down our paths on purpose. Losing a loved one, facing a chronic illness, or perhaps getting let go from a stable “safe” job — these events reshape our lives. They can build us up or break us down depending on what we choose to focus our mind on. We may not be in control of the events themselves, but we do have control over our reaction to them. As John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost: “The mind is its own place, and it itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Here’s a bit of what Michael had to say about how he stays focus: Believe in Inspiration Like many others who have followed similar audacious footsteps, Michael trusts in his intuition knowing that when he is living inspired, he is living “in spirit” and that, as Wayne Dyer often suggested, is the compass to guide our spiritual calling. Here’s a bit of what Michael said when I asked him how he learned to tune into his intuition. Grow an Empowering Community When I first met Michael in person, he invited me to one of his monthly potluck dinners where he invites friends to bring guests for an evening of food, music, and deep conversation. It’s events like these that attract the mentors we need in our lives to help us on our own path. As Joseph Campbell reminds us, the hero’s journey may be a personal journey inside, but it’s not taken alone. Mentors and guides will join us on our journey and we need to decide whether or not we’re going to accept their help. The question here is then, are you open to receiving help? I know for me, this has been a struggle in the past. Growing up as an adopted child, I thought what most adopted children do: that I didn’t need any help and could thrive on my own. I’ve since learned that independence is great, yes, but we are stronger together. Together, we can lift all of us a little bit higher.
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