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Stop Consuming Culture and Create Your Own

hands create sculpting

Are you creating the life you want? Or are you just absorbing a version of reality that has been projected upon you?

Are you living life on your own terms? Or are you letting your hopes and dreams become the desires of someone else?

Are you maximizing your own state of being? Or are you focusing on external distractions?

We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.
~ Terence McKenna

 
Absorbing culture, as opposed to creating your own, is an insult to both your potential and individuality.

We’re all super-creative beings, it’s just been systematically suppressed with most people. The potential that resides within every human being is almost unfathomable from the “poor little me” perspective. Every single person has unique skills and talents that, when cultivated, will be the building blocks of a better world. Are you cultivating and expressing your gifts? Or are you wasting your time on celebrity gossip or debating the latest sideshow act that the media has programmed you to react to?

The Low Information Diet

Many top performers in various fields (and happy people in general) consciously limit and filter the information they expose themselves to, particularly the news. Why? Because they’re focused on creating! And you should too if you care at all about living your life to the fullest.

I’m focusing my energy on growing stronger myself; which means exploring new ideas, trying new things out, not being afraid of experience, becoming a role model that can support other guys in becoming stronger versions of themselves. Because if I don’t do that, I’m just contributing to the fucked-up-ness of the world.
~ Elliott Hulse

 
The biggest culprit, in terms of information that hinders your well-being, is the news. When have you ever felt good after watching the news? And what did you personally do about the latest popularized tragedy? You’d be much better off working on yourself and helping those around you.

The ‘news’ is nothing more than outrage porn. Or fear porn. Or literal porn. Completely ignore it and spend your mental energy focusing instead on being healthy, being creative and improving 1% each day.
~ James Altucher (check out his article on this called “Go On a News Diet, Starting Today”)

 
It’s your choice whether or not to consume something. I’m not saying to never watch a movie or read a book again. Just be conscious about what you’re consuming and filter out the nonsense that doesn’t serve your best interest. Be mindful of your informational ingestion. Is what you’re consuming in alignment with your highest good? Is it making you a better person? Is it making you more of a role model to those around you?

Author, investor and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss has an entire category on his blog entitled “Low-Information Diet.” Yes, being conscious about the information you choose to absorb is that important.

If you’ve noticed, I’m quoting a few people in this article, yet I’m synthesizing these sources to create my own unique work here. Also, the information I’m sharing sheds light on things within you that you may not have been aware of. There’s a big difference between consciously seeking information that will help you improve and mindlessly consuming asinine gossip and spiritually paralyzing fear-mongering (“news”).

Our brains have a hard time processing what’s happening to billions of people, especially all of the horrors which the news seems to be keen on feeding people. Every person has a threshold of trauma which they can tolerate in their lives before the accumulated trauma becomes their primary operating system. The news creates information overload and forces people into a fear-induced paralysis.

Focus on what you can do right now. Tune into yourself, start expressing your inner gifts, spread love to everyone you encounter and inspire by example.

Lifting the Veil

Even the most conservative and closed-minded people can sense the blatant dysfunction of the culture we find ourselves in, although many refuse to admit the sheer grandiosity of the lies we’ve been sold.

Examine all of the major systems in place and you’ll find common themes of fear, deception, separation and scarcity. Mainstream media, education, religion, energy, healthcare (sick-care), politics and economics all operate under this paradigm. That’s why disharmony arises everywhere mainstream culture touches.

Thankfully, there are alternatives emerging across the board. And you can be a catalyst for positive change as well. Everyone has something amazing to contribute. But that will be stifled if all you do is focus externally.

Projected Reality

The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.
~ John Wheeler

 
Reality is not as we’re told. It’s not as fixed and machine-like as we assume it to be (without any investigation), but more of a quantum soup of information that we’re decoding and projecting into simultaneously.

The building blocks of our reality, atoms, are not solid. They’re more than 99.999999% empty space. So how can a universe consisting of these non-solid atoms be solid? Well, it’s not. We just decode it that way. Just like how objects in video games appear solid, yet they’re not.

And we’re exactly in this situation in our world. We look around and it doesn’t seem that mathematical at all, but everything we see is made out of elementary particles like quarks and electrons. And what properties does an electron have? Does it have a smell or a colour or a texture? No! As far as we can tell the only properties an electron has are -1, 1/2 and 1. We physicists have come up with geeky names for these properties, like electric charge, or spin, or lepton number, but the electron doesn’t care what we call it, the properties are just numbers.
~ Max Tegmark

 
The human brain processes approximately 11 million impressions every second that it decodes into the five senses. These 11 million are filtered down to about 40 and from that our sense of reality is constructed. The brain also “fills the gaps” of the unprocessed information based upon what it believes should be there. It’s all about how we decode this sea of information. So if you change the way you decode reality, you experience a different version of reality.

Along with decoding the general informational template of reality, we’re all perpetually projecting into reality as well. The observer effect and the double-slit experiment show that the observer actually influences what is being observed. How crazy is that? Everything is interconnected and your consciousness creates ripples upon the web of reality whether you like it or not.

So it is highly important to be mindful of your beliefs that are decoding reality in a certain way and your focus/emotions/thoughts/words that are constantly being projected upon reality.

Energy flows where attention goes. What are you giving energy to?

Imagine your focus as life force energy flowing wherever it is directed. If you’re watching the news, you’re draining your own energy (it really is energetic vampirism) and energetically contributing to the fear, destruction and violence. Instead focus on what you can do to improve yourself and make the world a better place. Objective awareness is crucial too. I’m neither ignorant nor apathetic to what’s going on in the world. It’s just that I choose not to focus my energy on it and focus instead on improving myself, writing, inspiring, being kind to everyone I encounter, being a role model…etc.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
~ Dan Millman

 
Television is like a hack into our reality interface. It programs the subconscious, which then makes you decode and project reality based on that program. When you watch television, you’re in a state of light hypnosis, meaning your subconscious mind is primed to pick up hypnotic suggestions in the form of advertisements, subliminal messages, beliefs, ideals, opinions…etc. Of course there are some good shows out there, but the majority of it (especially news and commercials) are psyche-hacks to make you decode, project and act under a paradigm of fear, ego-enslavement, disempowerment and inadequacy. If you notice, most people exhibit predictable programmed reactions based on events publicized in the media. It’s all engineered that way.

There are six companies that control 90% of the US media. This is a ridiculous centralization of information sources. Combine this with how insidious television is and it’s the perfect storm for mass brainwashing. Get your information from various democratized sources (to have multiple data points for reference) and form your own opinions.

It’s all in plain sight too. Remember, television is called “programming” for a reason.

television programming

Culture Creation Case Studies

Look at what the downtrodden youth of the Bronx, New York created when American culture did nothing but oppress them. Neighborhoods were impoverished, schools were underfunded and traditional musical instruments weren’t available. They had limited access to many modern conveniences and a burning desire to express themselves. So what did they do? They created their own culture, hip-hop, which revolutionized music, poetry, art, dance, fashion and language.

The hippie movement of the 1960’s is another example of culture creation. During this time period, the Vietnam War (a horrible campaign of violence predicated on lies, like every war) was going on and the American way, up until that point, was characterized by unquestioning obedience towards authority. But the hippies bucked the system (some by protesting the war and aiding the civil rights movement) and created their own counter-culture instead of passively absorbing the culture projected upon them. That movement planted the seeds for alternative thinking, questioning authority, open-mindedness, various forms of artistic expression, spirituality beyond religion and a foundation of love instead of the undercurrent of fear that pervades mainstream systems.

Changing the World Starts with You

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Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
~ Rumi

 
You are the leverage point from which the world changes. Trying to change the external world without changing yourself first is like trying to comb the mirror instead of your own hair. And reality is a sort of mirror of our internal state (see the evidence above).

Also, if you’re changing things without a foundation of self-mastery, that change is coming from a fundamentally compromised place. An external focus on change is like standing on top of a boat yelling at things to move out of your way, while internal change is simply steering the boat.

How to Change the World

Know thyself – Get in tune with yourself. Go within, meditate, observe your thoughts and emotions, do the inner work, rid yourself of limiting beliefs, let go of trauma you’re holding onto, continuously improve yourself and find/create your purpose. You are the hinge from which the door to all change swings on, and inner work is the opening of the door.

Focus on your experienced reality – Not what’s on tv, not what’s on the news, not what Kanye West is doing. Focus on your experience, your personal relationships, your family, your community, your skills, your home, your joys, your passions, how you treat the people you encounter…etc. Everything else besides your present experience is just conceptual. What action can you take right now? (No, sitting on your couch moaning about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton doesn’t count.)

Vote with your dollar – We live in a consumerist society and corporations run the governments. These companies cannot exist if people don’t buy their products/services, it’s as simple as that. Are you contributing to the problem or solution? Be mindful of where you spend your money, because that’s the real voting (it’s democratized, direct and not rigged).

Find your gifts and express them – When you do the inner work and focus on your experienced reality (not manipulated “tv reality”), you will inevitably find and develop useful skills. Everyone has something useful and incredibly potent to contribute. You just need to shed the societal conditioning and find out for yourself. And each person, by sharing their gifts, will contribute to the creation of a better world. Some will invent ways to harness free energy (rendering oil dependency useless), some will be architects who design eco-friendly buildings, some will be great gardeners, some will be writers, some will be musicians…etc. All you need to do is look within and you’ll find that you’ve had brilliant gifts all along.

There are millions of other people that would benefit from a little bit of insight or wisdom from you in the way you choose to offer it. Maybe you want to become a coach. Maybe you want to build a business. Maybe you create a non-profit organization. Maybe you make videos. Maybe you write books. Maybe you make poetry. Maybe you play the violin. Whatever it is, you’re adding beauty to the world. You’ve gotta keep that balance. If you let the death and destruction weigh you down, you’re becoming an anchor!
~ Elliott Hulse

 
Be a beacon of love – Never underestimate small acts of kindness. The little things you do in each moment matter immensely, and they add up. Who knows how profoundly you can inspire someone with one simple act of kindness? Are you spreading love or are you contributing to the disharmony? The choice is up to you in each moment.

One love.

– Stevie P!

 

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Obsession With Self


 

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10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

classical music notes written

I’ve been hanging out with a few old friends lately: Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Bach, Chopin, Handel, Wagner and the rest of those OG’s.

Classical music has become a staple in my life. It’s a truly beautiful form of music that comes with a seemingly endless list of benefits which we can all reap. The first thing I do each morning is put on those harmonious, orchestra-driven melodies of classical music.

Why do I listen to classical music all of the time?

I like to call it “serenading the space.” Playing classical music instantly turns any room into a church of good vibes, a temple of celebration or your own tranquil sanctuary. Turn on some classical music and you’ll instantly experience this for yourself (if you haven’t already).

Classical music is the background music to my morning stretches, my writing routine and almost everything else I do. It weaves a fundamental layer of peace and harmony into the fabric of my life.

Now this is coming from a hip-hop head. Classical music was never really my thing. I don’t necessarily sit down and listen to it very intently either, but its benefits as background music are utterly unparalleled. Here’s why..

10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

1. Increases Physical Performance

Classical music, especially fast-paced classical music, has been consistently shown to increase physical performance.

We’ve all experienced that extra push that music can give us when working out. It gets you to squeeze out that extra rep, or run that sprint a little bit faster. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like the hero of a movie whenever I exercise to some epic classical music.

Also, because it doesn’t have words, classical music allows you to focus more on what you’re doing, instead of focusing on the music. If I listen to hip-hop when working out, I get a surge of motivation, but I’ll be less mindful of the exercise I’m doing. But with classical music, I get a similar surge in motivation, but I’ll be completely mindful and more present when performing the exercise.

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10573664

2. Increases Sleep Quality

Classical music calms the mind, and when the mind calms down, the body follows. Listening to classical music is greatly effective for people who suffer from insomnia and other sleeping disorders. The soothing effects of classical music are tremendously conducive to sleep.

The conclusion of one study (entitled “Music improves sleep quality in students”) reads “Relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems. Nurses could use this safe, cheap and easy to learn method to treat insomnia.”

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426457

3. Eases Chronic Pain

Classical music has inherent healing properties and has been shown to reduce pain. Along with distracting people from the pain they experience, the relaxing and stress-reducing effects of classical music actually reduce pain as well.

Many hospitals have caught on to this and now play classical music because of its potent effects on pain reduction.

On top of easing chronic pain, classical music actually accelerates healing too. But whether it’s just the relaxing effects that stimulate healing, or if the sound vibration itself is healing, is up for debate. But the bottom line is that classical music reduces pain and helps the body heal. So drop the pain killers and put on some Mozart instead.

Sources:
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0021-75572006000300006&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21704068

4. Improves Mood and Fights Depression

Classical music is well-known to boost mood, relax the mind and increase dopamine levels. Anyone can experience this too, just play some classical music and notice your mood shift for the better.

Classical music also has the same physiological effects as a massage, which is an impressive testament to how much music (frequency and vibration) really affects us.

The flipside of the coin of happiness is depression. So because classical music makes you feel good, depression naturally fades away, making classical music a powerful anti-depressant as well.

A large-scale example of classical music’s positive effects on mood is that it literally fights crime. Classical music is like a super hero and has been shown to reduce crime rates when played in public places.

Sources:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000689930400736X
http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/10/05/how_classical_music_can_reduce_crime_benefit_your_mood_and_increase_your_spending.htm

5. Lowers Stress Levels

Going hand-in-hand with its mood boosting properties, classical music notably reduces stress. This makes sense, of course, due to its relaxation and mood enhancing properties.

Classical music has been repeatedly shown to lower cortisol levels as well. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone,” so it’s a way to tangibly measure stress responses in people.

Stress is an epidemic in modern society, so listening to classical music is a great way to fight back against the chronic stress we’re all faced with in our day-to-day lives.

How can you be stressed when you’re relaxed and happy? You can’t.

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1069901/Listening-classical-music-relieve-pregnancy-stress.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110826/

6. Boosts Brain Function

The positive effect of classical music on brain function is so well known that it’s referred to as the “The Mozart Effect.”

Here are some examples:
In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board Service conducted a study of all students taking their SAT exams. Students who sang or played a musical instrument scored an average of 51 points higher on the verbal portion and 39 points higher on the math portion of the test.

In a controlled University of California study, students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart before taking SATs had higher scores than students who didn’t.

In a University of Washington study, people who listened to light classical music for 90 minutes while copyediting a manuscript caught 21% more mistakes.

7. Sharpens Memory

Being so beneficial for brain function in general, it’s no surprise that classical music improves memory as well.

Studies have shown that music enhances the memory of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. One of these was a UC Irvine study, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer’s patients improved when they listened to classical music.

There’s a slight caveat regarding classical music and memory though. In the 1960’s, a Bulgarian psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Georgi Lozanov found that different pieces of classical music were more beneficial to memory than others, depending on what stage of the learning process they were used. The learning process can be divided into three stages: relaxation, active learning and memory consolidation. Lozanov, after 30 years of experiments with music and memory, found that specific pieces of classical music yielded better results in these different stages of the learning process. Some pieces were better for relaxation, some were better for active learning and some were better for memory consolidation.

Sources:
http://www.rocketmemory.com/articles/music-and-studying/

8. Decreases Blood Pressure

Among classical music’s health benefits is that it decreases blood pressure. The tempos of music have a profound impact on both heart-rate and blood pressure. Slower, gentler music is relaxing, which slows the heart-rate and reduces blood pressure, while music with a faster tempo does the opposite.

Many pieces of classical music are also in sync with the body’s natural rhythms. For example, blood pressure rises and falls every ten seconds or so, which is a rhythm that many composers mirror in their works.

Another fun fact is that the second part of Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony is called the “music of a healthy heart” and it is especially recommended for high blood pressure.

Sources:
http://www.techtimes.com/articles/59065/20150610/your-heart-loves-music-operas-and-classical-music-can-lower-your-blood-pressure.htm

9. Enhances Creativity

Classical music is like a magical creativity catalyst. The good vibes put you in a clear, creative mood which acts as fertile ground for harvesting new ideas and insight. Combine this with enhanced cognitive function, being stress-free and relaxed, and you have a recipe for great creative work.

Classical music, because it doesn’t have words, doesn’t disrupt the creative process either. I personally get into much more of a flow state, especially when writing, when listening to music without words. Music with words tends to be distracting when doing any creative work.

10. Improves Productivity

Want to be more productive? Classical music helps with that as well. An often overlooked advantage of listening to classical music is that it can make monotonous tasks more tolerable. If you’re engaging in a repetitive task, classical music can “get you out of your head” and help pass the time in a more enjoyable fashion.

I personally would listen to classical music whenever I had to do a repetitive task at my job. It would transform an assignment, consisting of hours of manual data entry, from torturous to “this isn’t so bad” in a matter of seconds.

Lyric-less music aids productivity as well. According to studies from Cambridge Sound Management, intelligible words can force us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying (that’s why it can disrupt creativity too). According to Cambridge’s 2008 study, speech distracts about 48% of office workers. So while classical music can boost productivity, other more-wordy genres of music may actually hinder it.

Sources:
http://cambridgesound.com/sound-masking-references/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003687072901019

Oh, and did I mention that listening to classical music instantly makes you well-cultured?

Classical music comes with a whole host of benefits that you can leverage to optimize your well-being. The composers were geniuses who could create audio medicine, gently speaking to our subconscious mind and harmonizing the totality of who we are.

So put on some Mozart and compose art. Play some Handel and handle your business. Bump some Bach and get “bach” to being happy.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

PS – I wrote this whole article while listening to classical music.

 

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Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


 

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Master Travel Anxiety with this Simple Technique

Flight cabin passengers travel

Travel is the ultimate perception-expander.

It forces you out of your comfort zones and catalyzes tremendous personal growth in a short period of time.

While travel is often quixotically romanticized, very few people address the other side of the coin; and that is the anxiety or fear that often accompanies travel. Anything that causes profound transformation carries with it an equal but opposing force of resistance.

Travel can be uncomfortable, scary and stir up anxiety in even the most zen people. The personal growth that comes from travel is a byproduct of constantly working through the resistances and fears that arise within you.

For me, anxiety tends to arise when I have to catch any form of public transportation or when entering an area deemed as unsafe. But I’ve learned to release myself from the clutches of travel anxiety by practicing a little ritual. And each time I do it, the clapperclaw of anxiety has less and less of a hold on me.

I came up with this self-guided meditation, or affirmation ritual, on a bus ride in Costa Rica and made the habit of doing it whenever I’m in transit. You can use it anywhere, any time or make a habit out of it like I do. But it’s especially useful when you feel that travel anxiety coming on.

The Travel Gratitude Ritual

Step 1: Close your eyes and take three deep breaths (into your belly) through your nose.

Step 2: Say these affirmations to yourself:
I am grateful for being able to travel
I am blessed
I am safe wherever I go
I attract positivity like a magnet
I relish in new experiences
I trust the process of life
Life is good

Note: You can repeat the affirmations as many times as you want. Sometimes, if you’re really overwhelmed, it might take 3-4 rounds before you calm down.

Step 3: Bring your hands to your heart and say thank you three times.

That’s it. Your travel anxiety will be gone, or at least greatly reduced, in a matter of seconds.

It’s also important to genuinely feel gratitude while you do this ritual. Not just think about it, but FEEL IT in your heart. Gratitude and fear cannot coexist.

Travel anxiety doesn’t stand a chance against the combination of gratitude, deep breathing and a reassuring faith that everything will be alright.

Try it out and enjoy the journey.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

Check out some of my other travel-related articles too:
11 Unique Ways to Optimize Your Travel Experience Wherever You Go
9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life
5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game
The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage

 

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The Power of Surrender

hand-846092_960_720

In our modern Western culture, the word “surrender” is thought of as negative.

The basic definition of surrender is “to yield to the power of another.”

It has become synonymous with giving up and viewed as an irrevocable display of weakness. But, contrary to popular belief, the act of surrender may possess far more power than you’ve ever imagined.

Let’s look at another interpretation. In the religious context, surrender “means that a believer completely gives up his own will and subjects his thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power.” (Wikipedia)

I’ve come to view surrender as something slightly different than what both the dictionary and religious definitions imply. To me, surrender is letting go of your egoic sense of control and allowing the rational mind to yield to a higher purpose. (“Higher purpose” meaning that it’s beyond and more expansive than the ego, the rational mind and physical reality.)

While the religious perspective has some innate wisdom, I don’t believe that this higher purpose or higher power has to be something separate from us. Separation is a physical illusion, as everything is connected on some level. We are multi-dimensional beings, whose layers eventually roll up to Source, God, the Infinite or whatever you believe is the essence of everything. However, simply heeding this intuitive wisdom, whatever that source may be, is more important than debating about exactly what it is or if it’s something separate from us or not.

This higher purpose often comes in the form of subtle intuition that the conscious mind can’t quite grasp. It can also be a deep-seated feeling (aka gut feeling) that you can’t completely rationalize but know to be true.

Surrendering to the Flow of Higher Purpose

I’m not going to say it’s God or angels or spirit guides or higher self or Zordon, because I don’t know for sure. But there is undoubtedly some source of intuition that subtly feeds us information and guides us in certain directions. I’m just calling it “higher purpose” for the (higher) purpose of this article (see what I did there?). Plus, it reminds me of the great Buckminster Fuller quote “God is a verb.”

Surrendering to the flow of higher purpose is ultimately a surrender of the ego and its controlling tendencies. It’s also a surrender of the problem-solving/problem-finding mind to heart-wisdom or intuition. There is less logic and rationality involved, but more feeling, trust and an intrinsic sense of knowing. You release all fear and flow with a higher aspect of yourself that sees beyond what your conscious mind does. While the conscious mind only sees the next step, the intuition sees the entire journey.

Trying to control life with your egoic mind is like trying to walk on your hands (your hands being your egoic mind and your legs being your higher purpose/intuition/heart-wisdom). Sure, you can walk on your hands, but your legs are so much more capable of walking. Besides, your hands are of far more use when they’re free. It’s just like how your mind is sharper and more useful when you’re not exhausting or stressing it 24/7. Let go of that inner egoic control-freak and surrender to the mysterious wisdom of your heart’s intuition. Remember, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

Think of this higher purpose as a stream carving through the landscapes of life, always leading to the ocean called “What You Need Most for Your Growth” (Yeah, it’s an ocean with a long name). You can choose to flow with this higher knowing, or go against it. And we all know what happens when we go against our intuition…

Additionally, surrender doesn’t mean being a victim or just sitting around waiting for things to happen. It means heeding your intuition, surrendering to that higher knowing and moving with faith, knowing that your intuitive compass is pointing you in the right direction (because it always does). Another major component is surrendering to the moment.

For more in depth articles on ego, intuition and all of that good stuff:
How To Hone Your Intuition
What Does Your Ego Look Like?

Surrendering to the Moment

Though blind faith in man-made systems without any critical discernment can leave you vulnerable to manipulation, not having faith in anything is just as debilitating (if not more so).

Trust the process of life. Have faith that everything happens for a reason. Trust that life is unfolding for your highest good. Well, what’s the other option anyway? Living in perpetual fear and doubt!? Eh, no thanks.

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Surrendering to the moment doesn’t mean not changing anything. It’s simply an acceptance of what is, accepting that what is happening is indeed happening. There is none of the paralyzing, insidious self-denial that slowly gnaws away at your well-being. Accepting the moment (what IS) actually puts you in a better position to change or maximize your situation than not accepting the moment.

For example, if it’s 2PM and you surrender to the fact that you’re stuck at work for three more hours, it puts you in a position to make the most of it. But if you resist what’s happening, you guarantee yourself complete misery for the next three hours. Here’s another one: If you’re overweight and you accept it, only then can you make the lifestyle changes to make yourself fit and healthy. But if you’re in denial of the situation, that self-delusion will prevent you from facing reality and making a change.

The Journey of Life

Learn to let go of your sense of egoic control and trust the flow of life. And paradoxically, when you do this, more of your desires come to fruition. Life is strange, right?

Your intuition is your built-in GPS (higher purpose), trust that it’s bringing you to the right place. Just keep your eyes on the road (be in the present moment) and your hands upon the wheel (ready for action).

Feel the paradoxical power of surrender.

One love.

– Stevie P!
 

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Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


 

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A Friendly Reminder to Breathe


 

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The Fine Balance of Bodyweight and Happiness

Fitness Model

When your body, mind and spirit are in harmony, an intrinsic sense of well-being permeates the totality of your existence.

However, this harmony of self is a perpetual balancing act.

Neglect any layer of yourself and the others become compromised as well. Think of yourself as a bicycle. Your physical and mental health are the two tires and your spirit is the handle bars, or steering system. If you neglect one of the tires, your bike will undoubtedly be compromised. If you neglect your steering system, sure you might move quickly, but there’s no control of direction or any purpose to the movement.

The body, of course, gets the most attention, as it’s the most tangible and measurable aspect of self.

When it comes to the body, it’s a balance between accepting your unique physicality and not being complacent. For example, the obese person who claims to be fine the way they are is delusionally complacent. While the fitness model who thinks they’re out of shape is delusionally unaccepting of themself.

Ultimately, achieving mind-body-spirit harmony boils down to this: Whatever makes you genuinely happy and enables you to make the most out of life.

What Happiness Isn’t: The Fitness Fanatic

You’re not genuinely happy if you’re posting pictures of your ass on Instagram every day, fishing for compliments. That’s extreme attachment to the body and essentially pimping it out for external ego-validation.

You’re not genuinely happy if you have anxiety over “hitting your macros” every meal. That kind of obsession is a miserable existence. But to each their own; if someone wants to prioritize neurotic calorie-counting over peace of mind, that’s their choice.

I’m not saying that you can’t be a bodybuilder or a fitness model and be happy. You can. But it’s a balance. Also, especially when you’re doing something as your main source of income, you’re going to push beyond the point where it starts to intuitively feel not right for you.

I feel bad for all the Instagram fitness celebrities whose whole identity is wrapped up in the aesthetics of their body. I believe that everyone should optimize their body and health (because being obese isn’t the greatest version of yourself either), but to obsess over it is neurotic, egotistical and painfully vain.

In this phenomenal interview with former fitness model Madelyn Moon, she discusses that she always had a nagging feeling that her body was never good enough. She also candidly describes her state at the moment of all of the fitness pictures you’ll find of her online:

“In every one of those pictures you’re looking at the most anxious, depressed, bloated, gassy, miserable, angry person I’ve ever been.”

Is that your idea of a happy, fulfilling life?

What Happiness Isn’t: The Other Side of the Spectrum

You’re also not genuinely happy if you’re obese and your body isn’t functioning optimally.

The person who is obviously overweight and unhealthy and says “I like the way I am” is delusional. It’s the other side of the coin of delusion compared to the skinny person with body dysmorphia who sees themselves as fat. You certainly have to accept yourself wherever you are along your journey, but to use self-acceptance as an excuse for complacency is when things go downhill quickly. Essentially, self-love should act as the wind beneath your wings, carrying you along your journey of continuous improvement.

Are you able to perform normal human body functions? (Assuming you didn’t have some kind of accident that severely injured you.) Can you walk for long periods of time? Can you pick something up off of the ground without pain? Can you squat? Can you dance or jump for joy if you feel happy? Can you play with your children or grandchildren? If you can’t do these things without strain or pain, do you really think you’re making the most out of life?

While a society that projects images of sickly skinny, fake photo-shopped women creates a deep sense of inferiority in the average woman, the knee-jerk reaction to that dysfunctional propaganda (an overweight woman glamorizing eating a bag of chips like that’s “what’s really real”) is unhealthy, and a bad example, as well. Again, it’s all a balance.

Obese

What is “Overweight” Anyway?

All of these terms – fat, skinny, fit, overweight – are completely subjective! Remember that.

On top of subjectivity biases, classifications can be manipulative and deceptive. And they are heavily manipulated and manufactured because there are billions of dollars being made off of people feeling inferior (with women being subjected to this much more than men).

So don’t let a chart tell you what “normal” is. Don’t let the magazines tell you what an ideal body is. And certainly don’t judge it by weighing yourself either. Your weight is a combination of fat, muscle, bone, water, blood and everything else your body consists of; so it’s a poor measure of health or fitness.

A more accurate indicator is body fat percentage. Here’s a general guideline: for a male, everything (mind-body-spirit) will function optimally from about 8-18% body fat. For women, everything (mind-body-spirit) will function optimally from about 17-27% body fat. Remember, these are estimates (not rigid lines in the sand) of an optimal zone, where your body, mind and spirit are going to be most harmonious.

The ideal body fat percentage FOR YOU may be on the lower or higher end of the spectrum, depending on who you are, your age and what goals you have. Also, two people with the same body fat can look radically different based on how much muscle mass they have. So keep that in mind as well.

Here are two highly informative articles on body fat percentage:
Everything You Need to Know About Body Fat Percentage
Body Fat Pictures and Percentages

I would say that “overweight” is slightly different for everyone. One general indicator of this would be if your body fat is significantly higher than the percentages outlined above (18% for men and 27% for women). Another indicator would be when things start becoming compromised for you: hormonal health, cognitive function, mood, energy levels, sleep quality, ability to move, range of motion…etc. Note: Much of the same symptoms apply to being underweight as well.

The Fine Balance

Being relatively lean isn’t all about aesthetics either. Holding extra body fat comes with an exponential risk of various health conditions and most chronic diseases. Also, toxins are stored in fat cells, while muscle cells are cancer resistant, so keep that in mind as well.

It’s a balance…

Your hormones get out of whack when you’re too lean (extremely low body fat percentage) or you’re too skinny (lacking both fat and muscle). They also get out of whack when you’re overweight.

Your cognitive function gets compromised when you’re too lean or too skinny. It also gets compromised when you’re overweight.

Take an objective look at yourself, naked in the mirror. Can you do that? Do you like what you see?

Deep down, you know which side of the spectrum of delusion you’re on (if at all). Are you a woman who’s never skinny enough or a guy that’s never muscular enough? Stop using food/exercise to feed that compulsion and do some mental, emotional and spiritual work to love and accept yourself. Are you overweight but lying to yourself that you’re “average”? Shake yourself out of that delusion and do something to improve your health. Eat healthier and begin a simple exercise routine (nothing complicated) and you’ll find a sense of empowerment you’ve never felt before.

If you’re obsessed with diet, working out or how your body looks, chances are that you have some form of body dysmorphia and are viewing yourself through a skewed, overly-critical lens. And if you go out of your way to not think about diet or fitness, chances are that you’re more overweight than you’re letting yourself believe.

It is absolutely crucial to be able to view yourself without cognitive biases or egoic attachment.

Read this article for an in depth discussion on how to be more objective with yourself:
What are You Hiding From Yourself? 14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

It’s also important to not be too critical and love yourself no matter what. If you’re obsessive about working out, you’re not loving yourself. If you’re eating fast food every day, you’re not loving yourself. That’s why I write so much about the inner work, because the ideal body is but a hollow shell without inner peace.

Most men will never look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and most women will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model, but everyone has an optimal version of themselves. And that optimal version is where the body, mind and spirit have a harmonious, seamless relationship.

So ask yourself: “Is this the optimal version of myself?”

There is a Goldilocks zone of leanness that harmonizes your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. You have to find your own balance, and that balance will be slightly different for each person.

You’ll never know your ideal balance if you stay in one box your entire life either. If you’ve been obsessed with fitness your whole life, ease up on your diet and workout routine and focus on other things (art, family, learning a new skill…etc.). Or if you’re on the other side of the spectrum and have been overweight and sedentary your whole life, try eating healthier and exercising a few times a week. You might find out that this lifestyle change might give you a level of happiness you never thought was possible beforehand.

Also, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re sacrificing. If you want to enjoy the taste of Twinkies every day, you’re going to sacrifice your physical and mental health (as well as any sliver of self-discipline). If you’re dieting down to 4% body fat for a bodybuilding contest, your mental/emotional health, hormonal state, relationships, and enjoyment of food will all take a backseat for the fulfillment of that goal.

Let’s look at primal attraction too. Relatively lean and curvy women are most attractive to men (not sickly skinny, not obese and not ripped with no curves). Athletic, relatively lean and muscular men are most attractive to women (not sickly skinny, not obese and not some colossal muscle ox). Sexual attraction has a lot to do with deep-rooted genetic components from our primal origins. A curvy woman would be more fertile and healthy. And an athletic man would be more able to provide and protect. Of course, we’re not relegated to rigid gender roles now but these factors still influence us on subsconscious levels.  They also serve as hints regarding the physical state that best facilitates mind-body-spirit harmony.

Social Media = A Highlight Reel

At this point, most people know that the models in magazines and tv ads are photo-shopped and in depleted states during the photo shoots. But another important point to keep in mind is that social media is the highlight reel of people’s lives.

People only post the highlights of their life. Everyone’s profile picture is the absolute best looking photo of themself that they can find. Comparing yourself to others on social media is a rigged game, as it’s not a realistic depiction of most people’s day-to-day reality.

And why are you comparing in the first place? That’s your ego dragging you into its fear-based self-deceptions.

We need to learn how to celebrate our uniqueness and our personal journey into becoming the greatest version of ourselves.

fake mustache

Don’t be deceived, my mustache isn’t as cool as it looks here ;)

Being the Greatest Version of Yourself

I feel my best when I’m in a state similar to how I am right now. I’m relatively lean, I workout 4-5 times per week (and enjoy it) and I eat healthy for the most part (but I don’t obsess over what I eat). There’s no compulsion around my behaviors, and though I keep my body fit and healthy, I’m not obsessively attached to it.

If I were to let myself really slip and pack on body fat, my self-discipline and cognitive function would be compromised (along with all of the other downstream effects of holding extra fat). And lugging around the additional weight would be useless baggage that I’d rather not hold onto.

Or, on the other hand, if I went on a strict diet, worked out for hours every day and tried to get really lean, I wouldn’t be happy either (I’ve tried it).

I also accept the uniqueness of my body (it’s been a long time coming though). I’m hairy, and even when I’m lean, I look more like a viking than a fitness model. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve come to truly love this 1988 edition Stephen Parato. I keep it optimized, and in return, it’s the perfect vehicle to bring me on this road trip called life.

At the end of the day, your body is a vessel, a one-of-a-kind, custom-made flesh vehicle driven by your consciousness. Keep your vehicle healthy and make the most out of your road trip.

Love your vessel, but always remember who you really are.

One love.

– Stevie P!

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Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.