Ways to be more present

Stay-Present

It seems like such an easy thing this living in the present, doesn’t it? In reality it can be very difficult, after years of living your life in the past or always trying to ensure a certain type of future. I struggle with this inability to live in the now on a daily basis, so much so as I have become an Eckhart Tolle junkie, owning just about every audio book that Audible has offered me. I wrote a book review a while back The Power of Now on one of my other blogs InspirationalBookReviews.com, that you might enjoy. I highly recommend this book and have listened to it more times than I can remember.

For those of you already enlightened and living in the now fully you can just quit reading this blog right now and I hope you have a great day, but if you are not quite living in the now on a consistent basis, read on. Our minds produce thousands of thoughts per day and it seems like we have little control of all this shit that is happening in our heads. If we stand any chance of experiencing the present moment we are going to need some tools or techniques to combat all that silly shit going on in our heads. Maybe all we need is a way to quiet the mind if you will. Now what I am going to advocate is not necessarily new or unique, but stick with me here for a moment, after all we all need to find some reprieve from all the noise in our heads that is preventing us from enjoying the present moment.

Here are a few things you might try to allow you to consciously experience the present moment:

Winston-Churchill

  • Do one thing at a time – This sound stupid at first, but think about how many times you put on your head phones start listening to an audio book and look at your Facebook or Instagram feed at the same. Even if you do not realize it, you are multi-tasking and pretty soon you missed some of the passages in your audio book as your mind focused on something visual in your social media feed. You have trained yourself to need audio and visual stimulation and your mind is trying to process both at the same time, and while this might be your version of living in the now, it is a pretty fucked up reality. Do this at work and you will find that what you attempt to get done takes longer and the quality suffers. This is really about the power of focus, which facilitates a better experience of the present moment. The lesson is try to do one thing at a time.

yoga and meditation

  • Yoga and Meditation – Oh now here we go again, off on the yoga and meditation tangent, please save me from this mad man. Fine, I said it for you, now let me continue. The simple fact is that it’s pretty hard to live in the past or future once you learn to practice yoga and focus on your breathing. The same is true for meditation where you can use some techniques that will help you stay focused on the present moment. I will not belabor this point, but I do encourage you to start your day with yoga and meditation if you want to experience what living in the present can hold for you.

546290-Rajneesh-Quote-Remember-frustration-is-out-of-expectation-and-ego

  • Expectations – If you are continually filling your mind with expectations of what your life should be like or how the next thing you need to do should turn out; well then you are living in the future. We all do this shit! I can’t tell you how many times I wake up early worried about some stuff at work that isn’t getting done the way I think it should or isn’t turning out the way I think is should. How in the hell can I enjoy the present moment if I continue to have all these expectations? I can’t focus on living in the present moment until I can say fuck it. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I accept whatever happens instead of torturing myself with all the stupid expectations of the future.  The lesson here is expectations are living in the future and preventing you from living in the present.

Really anything I’ve written today seems on the surface pretty straightforward:

  1. Do one thing at a time

  2. Practice yoga and meditation

  3. Stop expecting things to turn out a certain way

None of this shit is easy, but each of these things is possible with a little practice, or in my case a lot of practice. Doing one thing at a time or practicing yoga not only provides an opportunity for you to live fully in the present moment, but also has many other benefits. Why do you think so many people drink, ingest or smoke cannabis, take prescription pain killers, or other forms of mind altering substances? It helps them experience the present moment and quiets their minds, but the problem is it is not sustainable and ultimately causes more trouble than it is worth.

Being the owner of a goal driven, super active, future based thinking mind I am challenged everyday to maintain a focus on the present moment. I would love to hear some of the ways you have found help you stay focused one the present moment.

Namaste

 

 

 

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Discipline

discipline-for-Random Thoughts post

It has been a while since I’ve written anything philosophical as I’ve been writing mostly book reviews of late. If you read my last blog post on InspirationalBookReviews.com called Cant’ Hurt Me you might wonder what affect a book like this might have on your life. There are a lot of takeaways from that book but for me the primary ones include:

  • Toughen up – Both mentally and physically. If you read the book David Goggins uses a lot of physical challenges to toughen not just his body, but also his mind.
    • Are you seeking some kind of easy life where people throw money or accolades at you because you think you deserve it?
    • Are you expecting certain outcomes, that all work out due to your magnificent plans?
    • Neither of these scenarios are likely to happen and most likely you will be challenged on a daily basis and you will need more than a little toughness, perseverance, relentlessness, or whatever you want to call it to make shit happen.
  • Discipline – Get your lazy ass off the couch or chair and do something everyday that you can be proud of. This might be going for a run, practicing yoga, martial arts, Pilates, strength training, studying, writing, playing music or whatever floats your boat. Don’t say it’s too cold or it’s raining outside, just lace up the shoes and go do it. You can’t just hope you will gain some form of mastery or health sitting around thinking about it. You need to do it and do it over and over again, because that’s what discipline is all about.
  • Complaining – We have a litany of excuses such as my legs are sore, I’m just too tired, or I am just not feeling it today. Maybe something happened at work and we feel it necessary to complain about some perceived injustice committed against us. The list of things to complain about goes on and on and on. Stop this shit! Complaining about anything serves no useful purpose and will only drag you down and increase your level of despair.

The next little bit of advice comes from the book Unfu*k Yourself by Gary Bishop that I wrote a review for in July of 2018. Let me preface this with saying this is my list of stuff that pertains to my life and you can just insert your own list. Gary Bishop essentially said:

If it doesn’t serve your goals, then quit doing it.

The context that he was using that statement was around free will and he was saying if you want to know how much free will you have just try and stop doing all the shit you know you shouldn’t be doing. However for me I looked at it as more of a challenge to identify all the crap I was doing that didn’t serve me.

Now we all have a list of shit we need to stop doing because these behaviors don’t even remotely serve us in any capacity. My list of shit I need to stop doing, which is on my whiteboard as I write this includes:

  • Living in the future
  • Resenting people and situations
  • Letting my ego control my thoughts
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Caring about what other people think
  • Unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and eating crappy food

This is by no means an exhaustive list for me as I continue to find ways to mess stuff up in my life, but it’s a nice start.

If any of this resonates with you I would love to know what your list of things you are going to give up that don’t serve you anymore.

I am a strong believer in incremental improvement, so you might start with just one of the items on your list. Maybe you are not exercising or can’t seem to get your work done on time, so the thing you want to stop doing is “procrastinating”. The incremental approach to un-fucking your life dictates that you start slow and go for a walk in the morning or go to work earlier than usual and work on your assignments. Now you are starting to build some self discipline that begins to replace your tendency to procrastinate. Guess what your life is getting better and it wasn’t all that painful or was it?

Giving up something also implies you will need to replace it with something else. This helps you fill the void left by abandoning that thing that didn’t serve with something that is either the opposite or a healthy substitute. So in my case some endless fascination with “Living in the Future” would imply I need to start “Living in the Present”. I’m not going to go into details about how I am doing that in this blog post; that is a topic for another day.

I wish you all the best!

Namaste

 

There is no destination

Ralph-Waldo-Emerson-Quote-Life-is-a-journey-not-a-destination

I am a Project Manager by profession, and as such I do a lot of planning for the future. One of the things we found over the years is that it is difficult to predict the future with any degree of accuracy and thus agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban were born. Well if you can’t even predict what needs to be done and how long will it take for something as finite as a project then why do you expect to do this in a more complex scenario called your life.

I’m not saying you should not have goals or for that matter you should not plan things out that can be planned. The problem lies in having some stupid attachment to the plan while watching the failures accumulate as you doggedly follow a plan that is flawed. Like I said it’s good to have goals, but think of them more in terms of what you need to accomplish in the next couple weeks or a month instead of having detailed plans that span months and years. If you use an agile method like Scrum you would have a backlog of goals (Epics) and things you need to do to achieve the goal (user stories and tasks). Instead of making yourself crazy just pick a couple user stories from the backlog that will help you achieve your goal and focus on those for the next couple of weeks.

As your journey through life happens your goals will change, some may disappear and others will become more grandiose, and this is good even though it might not adhere to the plan you had in your head. Remember your not married to the plan, at best your just dating it. Life is unpredictable and when it’s all said and done the journey is your life. The plan is just a manifestation of your need to create some form of certainty in the future and deep down you know this is just bullshit. Let your belief in your goals or dreams drive you, but abandon the fucking plan. So what happens when you quit the long term planning game and focus on the short term; you might just find you will be living in the present moment and shit starts to happen for you and I don’t mean bad shit.

Eckhart tolle realize the present moment

Again dream big, have goals, and work towards them, but try just for a while to bring that planning into the short term as tasks that you can actually accomplish. I personally like Google Tasks because it shows up in Gmail and Google Calendar. I then see these tasks when I’m using my laptop, tablet, Chromebook, or my phone. Choose some things you need to get done today, tomorrow, and a week from now and leave it at that. I encourage you to stay focused on today and guess what all the rest of the shit begins to happen for you. Do this for a week and let me know if you start to see and feel the difference in your life.

Namaste

The Happiness Illusion (updated)

 

happiness is not good enough

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden

You are constantly bombarded by self help gurus that preach the mantra that happiness is the primary goal for you life. Take some time to observe your own life and calculate the amount of time each day or week where you feel truly happy. I’m not talking about the times you feel content, challenged, or at peace, but instead the emotion of feeling very happy or elated. If you are forever chasing some state of happiness where the majority of the hours of the day are filled with happiness, then you are setting yourself up to experience yet another emotion, which will be a feeling of disappointment. You immediately jump to the conclusion that there is something wrong with me. I must be doing something wrong or I would be happy all the time, instead of the brief forays into happiness I am currently experiencing.

I’m guessing your day is filled with time spent in some or all of the following emotions:

  • Feeling anxious.
  • Frustration with yourself, others, or some man made process or rule.
  • Feeling challenged by your work and/or people you work with.
  • Loving others or feeling loved.
  • Feeling the fear of the unknown or known.
  • Anger or being pissed off about something or someone.
  • Self loathing for not living up to your own expectations or the expectations of others.
  • Envy for things or envious of what others have.
  • Fleeting moments of bliss or happiness.
  • Satisfaction with accomplishing something or learning something new.
  • Feeling uninspired or tired.
  • Feeling appreciated or unappreciated.
  • Desiring stuff, money, sex, or some mind altering drugs or alcohol.

I could go on and on with this list of emotions we experience often on a daily basis. We are filled with all these thoughts that affect our well being and all the yoga and mediation in the world will not eradicate them from your mind, believe me I’ve tried. Give yourself a fucking break, you are an emotional bundle of somewhat uncontrollable thoughts and you know it. Don’t and I mean do not let some dumb ass on YouTube tell you that if you buy this, or practice this, all of this will go away, and your life will become one big vacation. You can’t exist in some state of continuous bliss; you are not the Dali Lama. Sure you can seek enlightenment and end all this suffering and discontent, and I hope you achieve it someday, but on the off chance you don’t then you are going to have to learn to live in the world you currently inhabit.

I think happiness is overrated, there are many other emotional states that should occupy your mind; those that are more valuable to you and to others. I’m not saying you should live in some state or misery, but chasing a state of happiness is an illusion. Replace that quest with these feelings or life goals:

  • Taking responsibility for you life, your work, and your decisions.
  • Feeling challenged by your work and the fulfillment you feel when you step up to take on the challenge, win or lose.
  • Feeling good about yourself because you are working at being more disciplined.
  • Being grateful for all the shit you have; just look around you and notice the type of life that many are merely existing in, and you will see you have a lot to be grateful for.
  • Developing an appreciation for the people in your life, family, friends, co-workers, and customers.
  • The quiet satisfaction you feel from learning that came from reading, studying, experimenting, watching, and listening.
  • Desiring more from yourself or desiring more from life than you are currently getting. Desiring more for your life is not a bad thing. A lot of great things have been done by people with a burning desire to accomplish something.

Suffering builds character

In fact I would challenge you to consider that happiness as your constant state of mind would put you at a big disadvantage in life when it comes to achieving what you want. You need to experience difficult times, challenges, and a certain amount of pain to grow as a person. Maybe you can be satisfied by all the obstacles you have overcome to be where you are today, instead of wishing for a life of ease and self gratification. If the totality of life consisted of sitting on a beach in the Caribbean and drinking one Margarita after another how happy would you be then?

Think back on all the things you have accomplished, the events in your life that bring back good memories. What about the time you landed that job you wanted, or met that special person, or obtained that degree or certification you worked so hard for. I’ll bet you weren’t sitting around bullshitting yourself in some blissful state of euphoria; instead you got off your ass and took action. Quit wishing for happiness and start doing something constructive; in the long run you will feel a whole lot better about yourself.

I used to watch all this motivational shit on YouTube from Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Eric Thomas, Les Brown, and Bob Proctor, but instead of motivating me it made me feel dissatisfied with my work and my life in general. To tell you the truth these people have some good ideas, but ultimately they are trying to sell you one of their books or have you come to their seminar. Meanwhile they make you feel unfulfilled about your life so they can generate more sales and then you just feel like shit when you could have been enjoying the life you have.

You already know what you need to change in your life to progress. You certainly don’t need someone else to tell you the areas of your life that are pretty fucked up.

Let me leave you with this quote from Gary John Bishop that comes from his book UNFU*K Yourself:

I expect nothing and accept everything!

Try living your life for a while expecting nothing and accepting everything that happens to you. If you expect to be happy all the time and can’t accept it when life sucker punches you then you are doomed my friend. Drop the stupid expectations and take life as it is served up to you, then you can at least control the suffering and enjoy the good stuff.

Namaste

Airline Travel

Resultado de imagen para small airline seats

I must admit this is kind of a rant if you will. In the last few months I have been traveling about every other week, so I have had the joy of flying with a particular airline that has its headquarters in Dallas Texas where I live. I won’t name the airline, but if you know anything about Dallas it could only be one of two airlines. Let me first explain my company does not purchase first class tickets for their employee’s so I fly coach exclusively.

Let’s start with the seats and their lack of size and comfort. I weigh about 160 pounds, so I would be an average sized man, and I barely fit into these seats. I’ve noticed some pretty big guys and gals on the plane and I can’t believe they can squeeze in these tiny seats. Recently I needed to pull out my laptop and get something done for work before I landed. I was in the middle seat, although I’m not sure that mattered all that much and let me tell you I could barely type and the screen on the laptop was vertical. There is not enough room to comfortably use a computer on these planes with the exception of flying first class. I try to get an aisle or window seat, but there have been a few times I was in the middle seat, which is maybe 5 times worse than the aisle or window seat. In any case these seats are way to small, with no consideration for the customer with the only objective to jam more people on the plane to make more money per flight.

Now what about flight times? I love it when the airline says we have a 2 hour flight, but what they don’t tell you is they intend to board the plane 30 to 45 minutes prior to take off and then they close the door having you nicely trapped on the plane. Now you are likely to sit around for 30 to 60 minutes on the runway before departing to your destination for all kinds of reasons usually related to their inability to understand logistics. You start to feel some sense of relief when you land, but wait there is more. During a recent trip we taxied around the runway for 25 minutes before getting to our gate and then it took them 10 minutes to hook up the walkway so you could actually leave the plane. Add another 45 minute Uber ride and then I am finally home. Here is the total time:

  1. Uber to the airport 45 minutes
  2. Get to the security check area and get through it 15 minutes
  3. Sit around the airport for 1 hour before boarding
  4. Board the plane 30 minutes early
  5. Sit on the runway waiting for weather or other planes to take off (say 45 minutes)
  6. Two hours for actually flying
  7. 30 minutes once you land before you actually get off the stupid plane
  8. 45 minute Uber ride home

Grand Total = 6 hours and 30 minutes

Let’s talk about the TSA, also known as the people that work at the security check you need to go through to get to your gate. If you are TSA precheck then life if much better for you, but if you are not you are treated like a potential terrorist. Take off your shoes, your belt, take your laptop out of your backpack, empty your pockets, and now you get to stand in a full body scanner with your arms raised like you are under arrest. To add insult to injury they do random body searches, which I think is more like every 10th person or so. Now if you don’t have anything on you because you are trying to hold up your pants and you just went through a full body scanner, why in the hell do you need to be patted down?

I won’t even go into cancelled flights, the airline employee’s, the smell of fuel in the cabin while you are sitting on the ground, the louder than hell cabin, other passengers babbling incessantly,  or how hard the fucking seats are.

Unfortunately a two hour flight can take you places over a 1,000 miles away, a lot further than you could comfortably drive in a day. So flying is a necessary evil for many of us and it is a shame the airlines and airports can’t make this a more tolerable experience.

Well I feel much better now. Sorry about the airline rant and if you work for an airline as a pilot or steward I’m sorry for you, as you are not to blame for what has become one of the worst ways to travel.

Namaste

 

 

 

Listening to Ego

ego quote Richard Rose

It often starts like this “Well I need a healthy ego to bolster my self confidence and achieve things in the world”.

Here is a definition of ego that I think is pretty good:

a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
“a boost to my ego”
synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-image, self-confidence

I highlighted self-importance because this is where the destructive side of ego is unveiled. We get ourselves into all kinds of life limiting thought patterns, when we are controlled by our egoistic mind. Here is where we come up with ideas like I’m better than someone else, or I deserve to have something. To start out with your not better than anyone else and you don’t really deserve anything. Our ego will limit what we do because instead of working for something we end up  trapped in our egotistic thoughts and become resentful thinking we deserve it.

Here are a few examples of ego driven thought patterns:

  • My boss is such a moron and doesn’t deserve his or her position. I’m much smarter than them; why am I stuck in this mediocre job? – Now that’s a nice judgmental attitude and to top it off a bit of entitlement thrown in for good measure.
  • You tell yourself that I’m so fit and healthy, and when you see that overweight person walk by, you think to yourself wow they are fat and should lose some weight. Nice now your ego facilitates physical comparisons, judging people by how they look without knowing anything about them.  
  • You are driving your 10 year old car and you see someone with a new 100k Tesla, and you think why don’t I have a car like that? Again a sense of entitlement mixed in with unhealthy comparison.
  •  Everyone is an idiot, the conservatives and liberals in this country are completely clueless. Everyone in government is corrupt and worthless. Sure you are qualified to be the judge and jury for just about anything.

Do you see a pattern here? As you let your ego drive your thoughts a few patterns of behavior emerge. The egotistic mind results in being judgmental, critical, comparing yourself to others, and a sense of entitlement. All of these thoughts prevent you from doing something productive with your time and will only chip away at whatever level of happiness you currently have.

Stop this shit!

You don’t deserve anything. If you want something go out and get it, but quit thinking you deserve it, because you don’t. You not entitled to anything that you haven’t earned.

Stop judging people! You just met someone and you begin judging how smart they are or how attractive they are. This is bullshit and you know it. You just met them so you don’t know anything about them; quit judging and get to know them. You might be shocked at how reserving judgement allows you to get to know some really great people.

It’s your ego that keeps telling yourself that your better than everyone else. Another ego trip that we indulge in is we begin to think we are the role we play at work. Maybe this role is well compensated or comes with a big office and lots of perks. You feel pretty special as the Director of ______________ (fill in the blank). Your sense of identity and most of your waking hours are wrapped up in living out this role. The egotistic mind loves it when you become some role, as it just makes life so much simpler.

Stop kidding yourself, that role you are so fond of is temporary and you know it. What happens the day you walk out that door and are no longer the Director of x? If you are driven by your ego, you may be crushed or madly searching for another role to attach yourself too.

Just for a while observe your own ego and catch yourself when you become judgmental or begin comparing yourself to others. You will come to a realization that your ego is getting in the way of you having a real life. Kill the ego and begin enjoying your life.

Namaste

The Cure for Expectations

house_sitting_expectations

I recently wrote a review on the book UnFu*k Yourself where one of the authors rules for life was “I expect nothing; I accept everything”. As you think about this for a while it begins to make sense. Expecting things to turn out a certain way or for people to act a certain way is the road to disappointment. To start out with it takes you away from the present and instead you are living with expectations of the future. Let’s take a few examples:

  • While I’m driving I expect people to follow traffic laws. Little things like stop signs, traffic lights, speed limits, etc. Now this is one hell of a stupid expectation. When humans get behind the wheel of a car they turn into complete morons.
  • I expect that I will be recognized for my work at my place of business. Occasionally this happens, but never enough to live up to our expectations.
  • I expect that my significant other will appreciate the things I do for them. So what is it that they must do to live up to these expectations?
  • I expect that my children will be as motivated and driven as I am. That’s a real crock of shit.
  • I expect that my government will spend my tax money smartly and not build up trillions of dollars in debt. How silly is that?
  • I have expectations for myself surrounding being constantly happy or healthy. Set the bar high my friend and disappointment will find you.

These are just a few examples of how we all live with expectations that are literally sucking the fun out of life. There is no better way to mess up living in the present than by having all these stupid expectations. I’m not advocating that you don’t have dreams or goals, but be aware that if these are laden down with heaps of expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things rarely turn out the way you expect, often things turn out much better or much worse. You have so little control about how things will turn out, or what someone thinks of you, and planning on how things will turn out is a risky proposition. Do the best you can but don’t be so definitive about the outcome.

So what is the cure for this never ending life of expectations? I’m guessing if you read Gary Bishop’s book you know the answer. One little, but powerful word Acceptance is all you need to understand. By accepting things as they are, you are taking a big step towards living in the present. Give yourself a fucking break; you can often be accepting of others, but you can’t cut yourself some slack. If you can start living with a mindset of accepting life as it is, you will begin to really enjoy what you have and maybe even the things you do. Here are a couple of different ways to look at acceptance:

Acceptance-1Acceptance 2

You don’t need to throw away all your dreams or vision for the future, but don’t get so specific that you put yourself in a corner when things don’t turn out exactly as you expected. Throwing out those silly expectations leaves you open to a whole new perspective and to enjoy how things unfold. All of this can provide amazing levels of joy instead of comparing what happens to your expectations.

I will leave you with one other quote from Gary Bishop that really resonated with me.

“Plan for victory and learn from your defeats.”

Here are a few quotes on acceptance to ponder.

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. George Orwell

The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Brian Tracy

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Nathaniel Branden

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Michael J. Fox

Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. Eckhart Tolle

Namaste