Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Principle 2: Realm of Control Recognition

Recognize what is inside your realm of control and do not worry about things that are outside of it.
After a simple google search enquiring about the definition of the word realm, it becomes obvious what the meaning is because only one word defines it....kingdom. A bit of thought about the connotations the word 'kingdom' conjures up mentally and it gives us a bit of insight into what this principle really means. America is no kingdom. It is a republic (allegedly). A kingdom implies the existence a person who rules over it, hence the name KINGdom. A king rules over a kingdom sovereignly and his word goes unquestioned.

There is a piece of very exciting news in this new information. You and I and every single other human being on he face of this planet is a king (queen for you ladies). I know what you are thinking...if I am a king, then why am I having to eat this disgusting McDonalds every day? Regrettably, due to the idea of scarcity, everyone simply cannot be rich. In some ways the kingdom over which you and I rule is much more precious than any of great amounts of land and riches. We have the unbelievable opportunity to be sovereign over everything in our lives. Of course we are not in control of the situation that we are born into, that is not my assertion. I assert that we are one hundred percent in control of our reactions to things. The first step to that is realizing what is inside your kingdom of control and what is outside.

How to totally eliminate stress

Two kinds of things that can cause stress/worry:

1. Those things that you cannot influence or assert some amount of control over.
2. Those things that you can influence or asset some amount of control over.

The second that you start seeing the stressful events in your life as one of these two kinds of things, you will be on a new road toward living a very low-stress life.

The step that follows identifying the type is simply to stop wasting time thinking and mulling over those things of type 1. It is absolutely a waste of the most valuable thing that you possess on this planet and that is time.

Being in control of this life is akin to being a captain that is in charge of a ship out to sea. No matter how rough the waters or high the swells, the captain never worries about anything outside of the metal walls of his ship. Sure, he might observe the waves, but there is nothing that he can control outside of those walls. Any good captain knows that he must be aware of what is going on outside of the boat, but the place where he can make a difference and impact the outcome is on the inside of the boat. That is where all of his gauges to determine what is really going on outside are. The steering-wheel and motor is on the inside. These are the things he can use to navigate the sea. Spending time dwelling on what is going on outside of his boat is extremely disadvantageous and has the potential to be deadly in the wrong situation.

Defining what our own personal ship is seems a bit difficult at first glance, but after some thought it becomes clear; the walls of our ship extend as far as our ability to affect a given situation does. I will preface this by saying that worrying for any reason is very dumb. Worry does nothing but make life less pleasurable and serves absolutely no purpose. However, worrying is very natural. It takes conscious effort and the development of awareness to eradicate worry from your life.

There are two separate forms of worry.

  1. Type one is the necessary kind of worry. The mental act of worrying can serve as a trigger to alert you that there is something going on that is very important to you. 
  2. Type two is completely unnecessary and outright counterproductive. This is the kind that is outside your realm of control.                 

If you have a problem with worry, then I just gave you the key to minimizing that more than ever thought possible. So many people go through life stressed to the max because they continuously run scenarios that are completely fictional and most likely will never happen through their head; thus, creating drama that does not actually exist. The stress extends far beyond that however. It stretches from worrying about what decisions relatives and friends are going to make all the way to the line that will be used in the next conversation with that special someone. No matter the root, all of this worry can be eliminated by simply consciously beginning to become aware of the things that you can have influence over. If you decide that you do have a way to influence the outcome, then take the steps toward doing so. If not, then discard the thought from your mind and move on to the next task. This is the only reasonable and sensible way of dealing with stress. It also takes you a long step toward being more happy because much of what it is to be happy has to do with being void of stress.

I hope this helps someone live a little happier life. Now that you are done reading, go live it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Thought Experiment to Gain Perspective

Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness of life, the boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter. Marcus Aurelius Meditations, book XII. 167 AD 
Let's talk scale. Assume that the atom is the smallest thing in our body; it most certainly is not, but amuse me for the sake of this thought experiment. A human body is made up of millions of those tiny little things. So think about how small one of those are in relation to your body. Next imagine your body in relation to the size of your house. At this point, you should seem a bit smaller. Now think of your body in relation to the town in which you live. Your body as it compares to the country you are in.  At this point, you are past the line of insignificance. Your body in relation to the entire Earth.

An aside must be made from the thought experiment for a brief moment. The movement of the celestial bodies in our Universe are controlled by the natural force of gravity. The thing that causes gravity is the shear mass of the celestial bodies in our Universe.

Continuing the thought experiment. The Sun is so much larger than Earth and the rest of the planets in our solar system that the gravitational pull from the sun locks them into orbit around it. With that in mind, consider that there are black holes at the center of every galaxy and their mass is so unfathomably large that stars, both larger and smaller than our Sun, are locked into orbit around them. This is precisely what holds a galaxy together. Scientists are recently reporting that these black holes are actually in rotation around even larger super-massive black holes. Beyond that, I venture to speculate that upon further exploration scientists of the future will discover that those super-massive black holes are indeed in rotation around even larger bodies whose existence we are oblivious to at this point.

Go back to the beginning of the experiment and try to wrap your head around how big one atom in our human bodies is compared to a super-massive black hole. It is literally unfathomably large. We cannot begin to understand how large they truly are.


There is a lesson to be learned within this experiment. The pearl of wisdom that can be found upon reflection is our true insignificance in the grand scheme of this Universe. We humans are no more important to the functioning of this Universe than a single atom is to our human body. In fact, we are many times less important than a single atom. For many people, this is very sad news. They believe that insignificance translates into meaninglessness. In my opinion, that could not be farther from the truth. I believe we can use this information to shake off the seriousness with which many people live this life. It is just way too short and ultimately insignificant to waste away by being caught up with small, silly things. One of the great tradgedies of this existence is when a person goes through their entire life fooling themselves into thinking that it all matters. This leads to them carrying on as if everything has to be serious. The most liberating lesson to be learned from this experiment is that we truly are insignificant, so it is very foolish to be serious all of the time and miss out on having fun. Happiness can only be experienced a second at a time, so the sensible thing to do is stop wasting those seconds on meaningless serious repetition.

As for meaning, one of the most fantastically beautiful and optimistic results of this experiment is the realization that each and every one of us can choose and ultimately craft the meaning behind our lives. Whatever you want the meaning of your life to be, it can be. All it takes is choosing that and then carrying on to pursue it with determination and tenacity. I hope this news puts a smile on your face like the one it puts on mine. Now, go. Go create your own reality!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Dreams and Their Pursuit

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” - Paulo Coelho  

Dreams tend to be intangible. They have this ethereal quality that almost immediately makes them unreachable. In everyday life, if a person talks about chasing their dream, then they are usually dismissed as being unrealistic. You want to be a musician? Well good luck paying the bills. You want to be a movie director? You better know somebody and get a good job first. The problem is that true dreamers do not come along very often. Many people have dreams, but that is all that they are. Dreams just represent what would be done in a perfect world, not what can be done in real life. Comfortability is what traps people into believing this. The average person knows that to pursue their dreams they would most likely have to be uncomfortable and that is a very scary thought. Life, for the average person, is about maintaining a feeling of comfort and safety.

The good news for all the true dreamers out there is 99% of people are not willing to do what it takes to pursue their dreams. Therefore, they are pushed down a path that is not what they want. But comfortability is waiting on them at that job that they will end up hating. Typically, a person is willing to give up eight hours a day, five days a week so there is a regular paycheck coming in and there is no risk in losing that car, or that house, or that trip to Wendy's when they get off. What is being sacrificed to maintain this comfort? Everything. Happiness is not something that can be bought; it is a byproduct of doing what you love to do everyday. Happiness is not the end, it is the result of the means. It cannot be achieved. It is experienced every day in even the smallest of actions.

The great lie of capitalism says that if you go to school and get a great-paying job, then one day you can be happy once you have that car or house that you have always wanted. Once you have those things is when people will love and respect you. The truth is that the people that are going to love and respect you probably already do. This is not to say that capitalism is bad; it most certainly is a good thing. It just must be seen for what it truly is, which is opportunity. As humans, especially Americans, we have opportunity at our fingertips, but we are too busy chasing that next dollar to realize it. The trick to life is doing what you love to do every day. If you get to wake up and do what you love to do, and you can make a living doing that, then you are a success. In my opinion, that is the trick of life. Do not go and do something you are going to hate just because it pays better. Do what you love and get undeniably good at it! The money will follow.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

Even more scary than being uncomfortable is being honest with yourself and trying to figure out what it is that you really love. It is much easier to just do what people tell you to do and go get a job that pays well. That doesn't take any self-evaluation. All that needs to be done is choose among the careers that are presented. Real work comes in looking inward and asking yourself the tough questions.

  • What do I love to do?
  • What interests me?
  • What is important to me?
  • How do I want to impact the people around me?
Once these questions are answered, the action questions can come. 

  • How do I achieve this goal?
  • What steps can I take NOW to move myself in the direction of this goal?
  • Who in my sphere of influence can help me along this path?
The beautiful thing about this life is that it is set up for dreamers. The formula for achieving your dreams is very simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Decide what your dream is.
  2. Cut everything that is not helping you achieve this dream out of your life.
  3. Develop a game-plan that includes action steps.
  4. All that is left to do is continue down this new path with determination and not take no for an answer. 
This post is as much for me as it is for the people who read it. I hope it inspires you. If there is anything that I can do to help you achieve your dreams, do not hesitate to ask me. Everything at my disposal is at the disposal of fellow dreamers. Now get off this blog and get to work. Our time here is brief. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Clouds (The Song): Meaning and Background

I paint for you a picture of my heart with a guitar and a melody.


I am on a stage
You are in the crowd
Marlboro reds burned all the way down
In the midst of the noise and perfume
The Muse is there to guide me through
(I call out to her and say)

Clouds that's where my head is
When I'm with you all I can do is just dream
Clouds baby you take me there
When I'm with you all I can do is just dream

Take me to forever by your chariot of air
Majestically guide me through this world, through this world unknown
Swimming in your wake, take me to your lair
Walls through gods lips, through gods lips blown


The writing of this song was very unusual. I actually wrote it in reverse. The last verse was written on the plane that brought me back to the United States from Spain last summer. These are the words that came to me from looking out the window at the incredible world of the Clouds. The clouds were so fantastic that it seemed almost disrespectful not to write something about them.

The rhythm and chorus of the song just kind of came to me in the shower at home subsequent to my trip to Spain. The blues type nature of the song really turned me on because of the awesome opportunity to lay some lead guitar over it. I'm not the best lead guitarist, but it is fun to try. Plus, I have found that you can't do anything until you just start doing it. Improvement is made along the way. I love this little tune.

The first verse is what came to me last. The only thing the song needed was a setting and a purpose. This verse gave it both of those things.


Clouds has become my mantra. Over the last six months, I have realized how important creativity is to my happiness. Creation is the life-blood of this existence and steps are being taken for me to make it the focal point of my life. Upon recognition of this, I decided to start reading up on creativity and the creative process. Throughout a string of books, a universal idea continued to show its face. The idea of a power source for creativity exists and has always existed. The Greeks believed in the Muse. The Muse were a group of nine sisters who also happened to be goddesses  They are the offspring of Zeus, the mightiest of all the gods. They were believed to be the source of creativity. The Muse were the inspiration that every artist strives to find.

For Clouds, the song is being sung to the Muse. It is a cry out to that creative spark and source. For me, this song is about recognizing that there is something greater that gives me the ability to feel the flow of creation come out of me and into the world. It is never mine, and it never stays long. The Muse represent the universal consciousness. The overlying thing that keeps this world moving forward; that which causes our existence to be perfect. That thing is the source of my creativity, and this song is my way of attempting to repay it for the gift.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Principle 1: Reaction Awareness

Become aware of how you react to the things that happen to you.

Using this principle is exactly how you can shape who you are because essentially all that you are is an accumulation of the decisions you make. The perception that people form of you is simply the collection of these decisions that they know about and whether they were right or wrong based on that person's mental framework. The paradigm, or mental framework, of a person acts as a sort of filter that is used to push facts through and decide whether the other person's actions are in alignment with whatever the previous person believes is right and wrong. The majority of the time people make an assumption/judgement of you way before finding out the whole truth; most judgements of other people are based on partial and fragmented information.

With this in mind, there is some good news and some bad news. You want the bad news first? The bad news is that many people have formed an opinion of you and it will not change no matter what you do. The good news is two part:

A. If the person whose opinion of you is in question is so closed-minded that he cannot get over something that you did in the past, then there is absolutely no requirement that this particular person be in your life at all. Therefore, kick him out of it! This might seem drastic and will most likely be emotionally difficult to perform, but it is most certainly essential. Life should be looked at as a beautiful rose bush that must be pruned to assure that growth is optimal. The health of the flowers is the most important thing, and anything that hinders that health must be trimmed away. The truth is that this life is just too short to tolerate negative people that do not improve the quality of life itself. They are the thorns of your life and the only way to grow and move forward is to cut them out. Their sole purpose is currently serving to take up valuable time that could be filled with other useful things and to make your mindset a bit more negative than it would have been otherwise. Here is a quote from none other than the Emperor Marcus Aurelius himself to illustrate life's brevity.

"Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness of life, the boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter."

When you truly make an effort to understand the vast and unfathomable concept of time, it seems inevitable that you would end up contemplating the shortness of this life. Death looms and makes itself known. It is inevitable and no man will escape it, so what sense does it make to worry about it? The Stoics stressed the importance of being ready for death at all times. Their reasoning was that death could arrive at our doors at any time, and to not be ready would be foolish.

Becoming aware of how you react to things is the first step to taking control of your own life. Up until this point, you have been controlled by the way you have always done things. The ways that you have learned how to react to things up until this point have determined your mood and ultimately how happy you are. So this is a tool that provides the ability to control your own happiness.

B. The second part of the good news is the most potent. Upon full realization of the impact that this principle can have in your life, not only can you begin to shape relationships, you begin to shape life. If you make the decision to start making the people around you happy, then they will certainly be happy and you will be seen as the person who is a good friend to be around. Their happiness will lead to your happiness. Paradoxically, if you work to make them happy, you will become happy. This is the teaching of all of the greatest spiritual teachers. If you want to do absolutely anything, then do it with vigor and passion and set your path toward that thing and magical improvements will begin to be made.

The source of this magic is the positive feedback loop that starts to become created. Slowly, over time, momentum is built up and good things begin to leap-frog off of one another. The next thing you know, the path that you pursued because you believed it would bring happiness ends up bringing multitudes more than previously thought possible. The extent of the power of change this principle can bring lies solely within the heart and will of the person using it. If you want radical change, then take radical chances and make radically different decisions than you do now.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Essence of Life

All of life boils down to identiftying the ideal self and the actual self and then working to merge the two. Too many people across the globe simply react to the things that happen to them, rather than being proactive. This is precisely the reason that the majority of people are in situations in which they do not want to be and this inevitably leads to unhappiness. The thing that gets missed is the identification of the ideal self. Very few people take the time to actually decide who they would be if they could do anything in the world. This identifies one of the great tradgedies of our society.  My mother, like many mothers, told me that I could be anything when I was a child. You hear this so much that it becomes cliche and carries no weight. One of the great realizations of my college experience has been understanding the scope of what this statement really means. In most cases, people say this only pertaining to vocation. I understood that I could be a doctor or a lawyer if I worked at it. The problem is that I did not want to be any of those things. It turns out that I wanted to write the whole time. The stark reality is that you can literally become whatever you want to in this life if you simply identify what that is and start taking steps toward it.

The even greater understanding of this principle that we are taught so early is that it carries over into all facets of life. You want to be a great father, mother, son, or daughter? Then be one! You want to be in excellent shape? Start exercising and eating better. It will absolutely lead to being in better shape. You want to learn a language? Go buy Rosetta Stone, or start taking classes!

It really is as simple as that. Identify who you want to be across all fronts of your life and then move toward that! This is certainly one of the keys to life. What is at risk if you do not do this? Your happiness, health, and mental wellbeing. This is a list of things that are the most important. So do not let this life mold you into the person it wants you to be. You mold this life into exactly what you want it to be. This is a skill that is specifically unique to humans; therefore, take advantage of it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Divergent Paths of Philosophy and Society

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
Throughout history all the great societies had great leaders and thinkers at their helm. Rome, Greece, Colonial America, and Great Britain are just a few good examples. Rome had Marcus Aurelius and Augustus. Greece had leaders like Pericles and philosophers such as Socrates and Aristotle. Colonial America was founded by, in my opinion, some of the greatest thinkers in human history; men such as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and John Adams. Great Britain has had its share of great contributors to human thought also, with people such as John Locke and David Hume.

Almost invariably, the great civilizations were founded and continued by people who had taken the time to subscribe to some set of philosophical ideals. These great men used axioms and principles to form a sort of moral framework through which to live their lives. Whether conscious of it or not, every person has formed what is called a paradigm for themselves over time. A paradigm is simply a way of seeing the world. In other words, it is the context or filter through which a person perceives the outside world. A large amount of the general populous has no idea that this exists. Some others know about it, but choose not to make any actions of change. Only a very select few- including those that are listed above- figure out the secret to getting the most out of this life. That secret is simply realizing that paradigms exist and understanding that the greatest power known to man is the power he has to change his own paradigm.

Paradigms are malleable and can be adjusted and tweaked. Once a person understands this, he can begin to shape the way he sees the world into whatever is desired. If a positive outlook that is motivated and forward-minded is the goal, then it can be forged with desire and force of habit. Over time momentum is built through habit and repetitive practice. That is how lives are changed, and virtually the only way.

The worry: the leaders of this great country have moved away from pursuing this philosophically constructed worldview and are now focused much more on bureaucratic bullshit and getting re-elected. It really is a shame. A brief review of the history of all great societies will reveal a scary fact: the fall from grace and loss of power is inevitably aligned with the leaders moving away from having a philosophical foundation and toward greed.

With that being said, the United States of America is a very young country in the grand scheme of things and it is certainly not too late to right this ship! This generation has an opportunity to become enlightened and slowly edge out the old powers-that-be while realigning the government with moral and philosophical ideals. The only way for this to happen is for many citizens to start forging their own framework which includes becoming educated on important issues. This framework can only be created slowly by systematically overhauling the paradigm that has been inadvertently adopted up until this point.

For you that want to impact the world for the better, this is a quest that you must undertake and one that will be lifelong. The ball is in your court now. Take the reigns of your life and lets change this world!