We can always improve ourselves in small ways. But when we stop believing in our ability to make a change, we begin to suffer. If we try to live a life detached from reality (usually characterized by a false defeatist mantra of “life sucks”), this can translate into trying to live vicariously through others (i.e. parents’ expectation for their children, friends expectation of friends, etc.) because we relinquish accountability for ourselves. Sometimes, we expect so much more from people other than ourselves, that we forget that we are the only person that we have the most over. The foremost person we should expect anything from is ourselves, and the rest is just icing on the cake. We all have the infinite potential to create an inspired, joyful life; but only if we believe that there is more to life than our current difficulties.
Quote: Tom Bilyeu
Whenever we revisit the past, we must make sure to enjoy the good moments as much as we scrutinize our bad moments. It’s easy to spend time scrutinizing every mistake you’ve ever made – who else besides us knows every mistake we’ve ever made? But for some reason, it’s so easy to forget the things we do correctly: the good decisions. The decisions where present-day you would be proud of younger you for making that choice. Most of us (when invited) would easily celebrate the victory of a good friend or someone else we care about, but why do we forget to celebrate our victories as greatly as we scrutinize our pain? Perhaps we’ve contlditioned to look for the faults in others, instead of improving ourselves, because the former is much easier than the latter – judging others is easy, yet changing ourselves requires a lot of failure, pain and introspection. Is there a painless way to learn? No. Pain is an integral part of the human experience. Suffering however is optional. What we choose to do with the pain is what ultimately transforms us into the person we want to become. We’ve learned to become who we are from the pain of our mistakes. Pain is guaranteed, but suffering is optional.
Whenever you have a lot of big changes happening all at once, the most important action is to focus on one thing at a time. If you try to focus on everything, you focus on nothing; so we have to prioritize. This is difficult because everything right now may seem important. But when we get overwhelmed, usually its a reminder to take a step back and remember your major goal right now. And then focus on that thing first. And then knock it off the list. The other things further down on your goal list will be there if they’re meant to be there. You won’t regret prioritizing your goals over them.
If you’re unfamiliar with Newton’s First Law of Motion, it states that an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an equal and opposite force. So how can we apply this law of physics into our personal lives?
Okay, so imagine yourself as a moving object (which you are): a person with their own thoughts and energy, going about their day and interacting with various different people and situations. Maybe you get a phone call with some bad news, or have to work with an insufferable coworker. Or maybe you got a promotion at work, or finally asked that person out on a date. If you’re like most people, your thoughts and temperment will change several times throughout the day: you’ll be in many different mental places. But regardless of how we feel, we all somehow manage to make it to the end of the day, going through the highs and lows of life.
Many of us look for ways to make our lives easier and happier, especially when we notice an imbalance towards negativity. Life can become overwhelming and exhausting. While this may be the end for some people — quitting on their endeavors or feel as if nothing is worth it anymore — this is not the case for powerful people. Because we recognize that there is no obstacle greater than the potential within us – the potential that we can convert into the moveable kinetic. The only thing that can completely destroy our dreams and motivation is any obstacle that we think that is greater than us. But there are very few people and obstacles that can equal our energy. To stay in motion towards our goals, it is important to acknowledge and believe in the inherent power within us: no obstacle is greater than you. Keep moving towards your goals, and recognize that often the obstacle is the way.
One of the things that many of us have in common is a past we cannot change. We’ve often heard many life coaches and motivational speakers talk about continuing to work on the present and moving forward, that we should keep the past behind us. As appealing as this advice may be, I feel that ignoring an important part of ourselves isn’t really complete advice. Ultimately at the end of the day when we are by ourselves and we become introspective, where does our mind go? Often to the past.
Since the past isn’t something we can change, it’s important that we look at it from different perspectives. Just like with people and situations in our lives, if we can’t change them, it’s important to change our perspective. As I sit here, I think about all of failures I’ve had in the past. For some, reflecting on things that’ve gone wrong might be debilitating and discouraging. But with the right perspective, it can be liberating. Each time we’ve failed at something, it means we’ve displayed courage and took a risk. And most importantly that we’ve survived.
We fell down seven times, but something made us stand up an eighth time. What was your reason for continuing to keep trying? And can we cultivate that into a passion that keeps us interested in life?
Bruce Lee would’ve been 78 yesterday. So to commemorate his birthday, I wanted to talk about one of his most popular sayings, of being “like water.”
Water can represent so many things: it is ever-present in our ecosystem. It can change shape from solid to liquid to gas. It moves everywhere, through many things, without doing much. It has no form, which then allows it to take the shape of anything.
In Taoism, this malleable form of water is what makes it such a common metaphor for the universe. There are many things in play in the universe – undiscovered energies, planets, stars, etc. And we as humans are also a part of this vast universe. It is no secret that one of humanity’s greatest strengths is the ability to adapt and survive. We’ve developed technology, communication and culture to find various ways to survive over the years — all products of adapting to the changing environment.
I feel that one of the things Bruce Lee talks about while advising us to be like water, is to be malleable so that we can adapt to life and its challenges. If we are complacent and rigid in our life, we take away our greatest strength as humans, and subject ourselves to a life of suffering. But to be formless means that nothing (external) defines you. You define you, nothing else. Then, our ego is minimized and we become capable of living to the capacity of our full potential. We become more aware and more powerful: two things that I would wish for everyone to be.
When I used to work as a cashier, occasionally a parent would come up to the counter with their child and have them pay (usually from the parent’s own money, sometimes from the kid’s own allowance). But regardless of where the money came from, wisdom was being shared with the child on how to ask and communicate.
So many of us grow older, but we might not have learned the correct way to ask for things; we are afraid to ask for help because maybe we feel like a burden to others. Sometimes we don’t feel like owing anything to anyone. Or maybe asking might make us look weak and unable to provide for ourselves. Often times when we go through difficult moments in our lives, we know that we should ask for help, but we don’t know how. No one person has everything figured out, yet we have this exceptionally high expectations of ourselves that we should have it all figured out.
But this is mostly ego. For some reason, there seems to be no price tag high enough of being fiercely independent – be it depression, self-isolation, financial constraints, or one of many other reasons. There appears to be a lot of respect and demand for appearing capable and stoic. But those who do a lot, may also suffer greatly in private. Is it worth it to assume that people will think less of you for asking them for their time? Is it worth it to suffer in private rather than risk being vulnerable and connect with someone who might also need encouragement to speak?
There is nothing glamorous and stoic about being trapped in the mental prison of our minds. By working together and communicating, we can surely begin to heal. Maybe we didn’t have anyone to teach us how to ask, but maybe the “how” won’t matter if we learn “who” we are. Are we slaves to the ego, or sentient beings who favor growth?
How are you today? I hope you’ve been well. Today I wanted to share some wisdom I recieved that helped me respect the idea that small, consistent changes are often prerequisites for big change.
There’s a popular Taoist quote that is often misattributed to Confucious: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I recently learned that this version was a mistranslation of the original Chinese text. There was no symbol or character that represented “one” or “single” to signify the step (and of course they didn’t use miles as a measurement of distance then). A much better interpretation is the following: “The small piece of ground beneath your feet is the starting point for a long journey.” Epic adventures begin from the point on the ground where you stand. Seeds become trees, water vapors become torrential rains and great journeys have humble beginnings; most great things are a result of many small actions over a period of time.
If there are changes you’d like to make in your life, try not to underestimate the smaller actions. Many people might think it’s pointless, or a waste of time, but many of them lack foresight and humility for real change. Try not to be fooled by the words of nearsighted people when your goals are much bigger. Persist and win.
I’ve learned that packing lightly when travelling is important because carrying too much weight can quickly become exhausting. Travelling can be nerve-wracking if we think about everything that can go wrong: being away from the familiar and transplanting ourselves into new locations and cultures can be stressful. But stressing about the future robs us of our current peace, and carrying the weight of future anxieties will exhaust us today. We should learn to travel with fewer fears in our life, otherwise it will become exhausting for us to carry them into everything we do.