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The Power of Fiction

Ralph Waldo Emerson Fiction quote

Bold statement: Fiction can be a more effective teacher than nonfiction.

The epics, the classic myths, the primordial fables, the transcendent archetypes and the phenomenon of story have all been omnipresent undertones of human culture since time immemorial.

Fiction has the unique ability in which one can use words as arrows of intention to penetrate the infinite dimensions of abstraction. In other words, truths which exist beyond the limits of our collective analytical mind are able to be conveyed through fiction, metaphor and myth.

The deepest truths are often expressed in this way. Just take a look at any sacred text or brilliant piece of poetry. If they were to be written in a strictly analytical fashion, it would be confined to a sliver of interpreted reality. But with fiction, the words conform to the unique consciousness of the reader. They act as a range of possibility to be decoded subjectively, not a rigid pillar of force-fed predeterminacy.

Literary works can cut through and transcend cultural biases and blindness, giving the reader a taste of a completely “novel” reality (see what I did there?). It allows one to see outside of the box they’ve existed in their whole life, and presents the opportunity to step outside.

Along with being a vehicle for consciousness expansion, fiction comes with a whole host of other benefits as well…

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

  • Improves brain connectivity
  • Increases empathy (and better relationships as a direct result)
  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances memory
  • Increases imagination
  • Expands vocabulary
  • Enhances creativity
  • Increases happiness
  • Enhances focus
  • Helps you be yourself (instead of conforming because the weight of social pressure is released when reading fiction)
  • Helps with approaching and overcoming obstacles (the influence of the hero’s journey)
  • Sources:
    The Surprising Power of Reading Fiction
    7 Benefits Of Reading Literary Fiction You May Not Know

    Stephen King Fiction quote

    How You Can Help Support Fiction

    Speaking of fiction, I recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for my new novel Sozwik. CLICK HERE to view the campaign and provide your support.

    Expand your mind with the wisdom of fiction, embrace the power of story and dare to dream.

    Much 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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    The Visionary’s Creed

    This is for the new wave of hard workers, everyone out there grinding towards their vision, not someone else’s. All of the self-starters, hustlers, artists, entrepreneurs, this is dedicated to you to help you keep going. Ultimately, these words are just a confirmation of what you already know deep down; that you’re living your truth.

    artist

    I know what I want
    I know how to get there
    They may think differently
    But I know me

    Doubt arises
    I set it aside
    I know in my heart
    That I’m walking in the direction of my truth

    I see my vision
    Crystal clear clarity
    I meet it with persistence
    Bringing dreams into reality

    Fear grabs a hold of me
    I hug it with courage
    It fades back into illusion
    Propelled by my truth
    I keep moving

    The path may be difficult
    The road may be rough
    Obstacles will present themselves
    Unforeseen challenges may delay me
    And my route may shift
    But that’s a part of the pilgrimage
    The challenge is where the magic is

    It’s not about where I end up
    It’s about who I become through the journey
    More of myself

     

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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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    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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    Solitary Refinement: The Profound Power of Solitude

    solitude-455768_640
     
    “Above measure the singular pleasure of solitude” – MF DOOM (Bookfiend)

    That line serendipitously seems to seep into my consciousness whenever I’m immersed in the unique euphoria that solitude brings.

    Solitude can be indescribably blissful, or utterly torturous, depending on your state of being and self-love. Solitary confinement? Or solitary refinement? The choice is up to you.

    I spent the majority of this past weekend in solitude and it was completely cathartic. That’s why I’m even writing this right now.

    We live in a society that overly praises extroverted tendencies and dismisses introverted tendencies as being “anti-social.” Noise is excessively celebrated, while the silence that all sound comes from is overlooked.

    With this imbalance skewed towards extroversion, the word “alone” has become synonymous with “lonely.” But that’s not the case at all. You can be lonely in a crowd, or feel connected with all-that-is when alone.

    I’ll ask you this: Have you mastered yourself, accepted yourself and do you love yourself enough to bask in the glory of solitude?

    “Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.” – Albert Einstein

    You must view solitude as a necessary practice in order to become the best version of yourself.

    Solitude comes with an abundance of benefits. It’s no coincidence that many of the greatest people to walk the planet engaged in a regular practice of productive solitude.

    Getting to know yourself.

    The phrase “Know thyself” was famously inscribed at the Temple at Delphi. Knowing oneself is absolutely crucial for any form of self-awareness or personal growth.

    Solitude is the fertile ground upon which the seeds of self-mastery of sewn. When it’s just you and your thoughts, you’re able to bring the subtleties of your own nature into conscious awareness.

    “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Lao Tzu

    Empowerment.

    Everything you desire, is first and foremost, an inside job. External peace is not possible without inner peace. External harmony is not possible without inner harmony.

    If you choose to be happy, you’re empowered. But if you rely on external factors to be happy, you’re giving your power away in exchange for victimhood.

    By engaging in productive solitude, you build a solid foundation to become the master of your own destiny.

    Idea generation.

    Solitude gives you space to reflect. It provides the golden silence necessary for you to receive the subtle gems of the universe.

    Ideas just flow effortlessly when you’re alone and in a good state of mind.

    Recharging.

    Solitude acts as a rejuvenating self-reset. It gives you the opportunity to take a break from the chaos of modern life and bring yourself back to equilibrium.

    The ability to give more when around others.

    Just as you’re able to perform at your physical peak after a good night’s rest, you’re able to give more to others after engaging in solitude. Restful yin energy is what allows for the maximization of the active yang energy.

    Someone who has developed themselves simply has a greater capacity to give. Remember, you can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself.

    Also, independence is cultivated in solitude. So this means that you’re far less likely to be a nuisance or unnecessary burden to others. Conscious alone time is essentially flexing your handle-your-business muscle.

    You’re most free when alone.

    There are no compromises, no voting and no worries of pleasing people. Every decision you make is entirely up to you. That’s why it’s easy to be boldly spontaneous when alone, which can be a lot of fun.

    Solitude fosters creation.

    “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” – Pablo Picasso

    Almost all artistic creation occurs in solitude. There is a level of concentration reached when alone that just doesn’t happen around other people. Combine this with the idea generating nature of solitude and you have a recipe for prolific creation.

    I create my best work when alone. I’m also hard pressed to create anything with others around. A subtle reason for this is that I give everything I’m doing my full attention. So if I’m with other people, connecting with them is my focus.

    Great people have always embraced solitude.

    People who have made a significant impact on the world spent a lot of time in solitude.

    Buddha and Jesus went off by themselves for years. This solitude was a major part in both of their breakthroughs into the level of consciousness available to all of us.

    A major aspect of the hero’s journey (described by Joseph Campbell) is this form of self-discovery.

    “Opportunities
    To find deeper powers
    Within ourselves
    Come when life
    Seems most challenging.”
    – Joseph Campbell

    Writers and any artists thrive off of solitude.

    This goes hand-in-hand with the last two points. Solitude begets creation, as well as the self-reflection to produce timeless works of art.

    Henry David Thoreau (The Notorious HDT) epitomized productive solitude with his two year getaway at Walden Pond, where he produced some of his best work.

    “I’ve never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” – Henry David Thoreau

    Don’t worry though, you don’t have to go to the extreme that Thoreau did to leverage the power of solitude. All it takes is making some productive solitude a regular practice.

    The point of solitude is not in becoming a recluse, but in returning to the world as an ever-evolving version of yourself.

    Cultivate the power of solitude.

    Thoreau-ly enjoy yourself.

    – Stevie P!

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    Creativity on Demand: How to Become an Idea Machine

    So, living up to what I wrote about in my last post, I released a new book on Amazon Kindle! It’s called 11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine. This book is seriously life-changing for anyone, especially if you’re someone who wants to transcend mediocrity and make an impact on the world. I provided a bit of a preview for you below.

    11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine (A Glimpse)

    Everything made manifest by humanity begins as an idea…

    The airplane once only existed as an image in someone’s imagination; then eventually materialized in the physical world.

    The same applies to the entire spectrum of human creativity and invention. From the wheel to paintings; from clothing to philosophies; from nuclear bombs to Pokemon. They all began as an idea.

    Ideas serve as the building blocks from which we create reality.

    Ideas are prodigiously powerful. They exist beyond time and space. Once shared, a potent idea has the ability to reshape reality as we know it. Anything and everything of the material realm is subject to the dominion of underlying ideas. 11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine provides you with a template to leverage the strength of ideas, empowering you to steer your life in whichever direction you choose.

    What is an idea machine?

    An idea machine is an individual with the ability to come up with ideas anytime, anywhere and under any circumstances. An idea machine embodies confident creativity. An idea machine is dynamic, open-minded and impeccably clever. An idea machine adds ever-increasing value to both themselves and those around them. An idea machine is remarkably generous, as hoarding ideas only blocks one’s ability to receive more.

    This book shows you, step-by-step, how to become an idea machine. Each step concludes with a challenge to help you integrate the information presented. In addition, there is a consolidated list of challenges, which serve as a simple guide for implement the steps into your daily life.

    Ideas and Action…

    There is a world of difference between the average person with one great idea who fears to pursue it, and the idea machine who chooses, out of thousands of ideas, a few to bring to fruition. The average person is stagnant, while the idea machine is dynamic. The average person is afraid to take action, while the idea machine takes action when he or she chooses to.

    If you come up with an idea you wish to pursue, then yes, you need to execute it. Action is absolutely necessary in this case (which is detailed in the bonus chapter). There is no question about that. But as you will discover, idea generation, in and of itself, comes with a plethora of pleasantly surprising benefits.

    Imagine what it’s like to always have access to an infinitely abundant stream of fresh ideas. Can you say wizardry?

    Do you want to be more creative than most people can fathom?
    Do you want to always be the most interesting person in the room?
    Do you want to provide immense value to others?
    Do you want to have more opportunities?
    Do you want to be empowered and shape your own destiny?
    Do you want to maximize your life in every way?

    Become an idea machine and join in on the fun.

    And here is a sneak peak of the actual steps:

    1. Write Everything Down (The Keystone)
    2. View the World as an Idea Playground
    3. Meditation (Master Your Mind)
    4. Maintain a Healthy Antenna
    5. Walk the Path of New Ideas
    6. Reading is Fun-(for)-da-mental
    7. Engage in Productive Solitude
    8. Shower Power
    9. Travel AKA Idea Tripping
    10. Ask Yourself…
    11. Flex Your Idea Muscle

    Click here to get your copy of “11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine” today.

     

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