Essentialism: The Philosophy That Will Change Your Life

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“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” – Bruce Lee

The key to success, the key to peace of mind, the key to making your dreams come true ultimately boils down to one thing: focusing on the essential.

Simplicity, minimalism and the like may imply that blindly removing is the key. It’s not. Essentialism, however, is about finding what is essential for you and letting go of the unnecessary.

What is “essential” can be different for everyone. For some people, that may be their family, for others it may be music, for some people it may be travel. It all depends on what you want to prioritize in your life.

What are your priorities? What do you want to focus on? What is your purpose? What direction do you want to travel in? In order to make the most out of life, we must ask ourselves those questions and prioritize accordingly.

If you don’t have priorities or purpose, then you will fritter away your days in a muck of endless distractions, yet feeling empty inside. Without focus, the world around you has more than enough distractions to keep you preoccupied, passive, stagnant and depressingly mediocre.

Let go of the unessential and cut out distractions. If you want to write a book, watching tv for 2 hours a day won’t help. If you want to get in shape, prioritize your workouts and healthy meals. If you want to meditate, center your morning routine around it. If you want to be a better parent, spend more quality time with your kids by any means necessary. Find out what is essential to you and let go of the unessential.

This applies to everything in life, from business to relationships and everything in between. A company will be successful if it focuses on its core mission. A relationship will be harmonious if both people place love first. A person will transcend mediocrity when they focus on their purpose.

Make Essentialism an “essential” part of your life, and help bring your dreams to fruition.

Want to learn how to tap into the power of Essentialism? Check out my new book Essentialism And the Art of Not Giving a Fuck!

Much love.

– Stevie P!

PS – You see how short and sweet this article is? That’s Essentialism at work!

Simplicity: Your Key to Lasting Happiness

Simplicity

If you’ve been indoctrinated into modern society, you’re conditioned to believe that accumulation equates to happiness.

You go through life accumulating – money, gadgets, relationships, cars, houses, degrees…etc. – thinking that these additions will make you happy (And how’s that working out for everyone?). But actually it’s removal that begets happiness. Once you clear all of the bullshit, there’s nothing left but peace, joy and positive emotions.

Happiness comes from removal, not accumulation. Remove fear, remove doubt, remove expectation and you’ll find that you’re left with happiness. Joy is your natural, essential state. You’ve just piled so much on top that you’ve forgotten the bliss that lies beneath it all.

Meditation is the perfect example of this. Meditation is a “non-doing” in which you slip into the silent space between thoughts. It’s a transcendence of the neurotic thought loops of the mind, bringing you to a state of no-thought. It’s the ultimate removal. And guess what? Everyone feels positive emotions when they meditate (peace, bliss, joy, happiness, serenity…etc).

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
– Bruce Lee

And living a life of simplicity doesn’t mean being a simple-minded simpleton. It’s really about being intelligent enough to let go of what doesn’t truly serve your best interest.

“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
― Henry David Thoreau

Simplicity & Lying
In the phenomenal book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.” Speak with integrity, say only what you mean, avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or gossip about others and use the power of the Word in the direction of truth and love.

Being straightforward and truthful with your word harmonizes your emotions, thoughts, words and actions. That’s why it feels good. Because everything is in alignment.

Morality aside, lying just makes things too complicated and tedious. For me, having to build and maintain a complex web of lies is much more difficult and emotionally taxing than being brutally honest (even when it’s not politically correct).

Think about the relationships you have where you’re the most honest. Though your ego may take a few slaps to the face, those relationships are far more fulfilling than those which you wear a mask. Life is far simpler, genuine and enjoyable when honesty prevails.

“Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
― Isaac Newton

Simplicity & “Stuff”
The accumulation of “stuff” is a huge problem plaguing so many people. Buying things to make you happy is a quick fix that quickly fades. And soon enough, you’ll need another hit of it. Buying things can really be like a drug addiction.

This also leads to the accumulation of stuff, which can bog you down and hinder your freedom on multiple levels. With less stuff, there’s less to clean, less to upkeep and less to distract you from your natural state of happiness.

One of the first posts I’ve ever written here is on this topic: Possessions vs Experiences: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Simplicity & Desires
The vast majority of the desires you have are the result of societal programming. If you strip all of the conditioning away, all we really desire are simple things like love, happiness and personal growth. When you simplify your desires, you remove the self-created walls between yourself and happiness.

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
– Epictetus

Simplicity & Busyness
Work smarter, not harder. Focus only on what you really need (or want) to get done, instead of dozens of asinine tasks. This will allow you to prioritize and accomplish the most important tasks while being less stressed throughout the process.

“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
– Tim Ferriss

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
– Peter Drucker

Read my post on busyness here: 15 Ways to Cure the “Busy Syndrome”

Simplicity & Your Body
Create lasting health and happiness by simplifying diet and exercise. You’ll enjoy it more and it’ll become a natural part of your lifestyle.

With diet, it might look something like this: Just eat real food (JERF), eat when you’re hungry and have fun splurging every once in a while.

Regarding exercise, I’ve personally made the most progress using simple, basic routines. Just consistently improving at the most fundamental exercises has worked wonders for me.

Simplicity & Your Mind
Think of the mind like a computer. If you have too many programs running at once, the computer will slow down or even crash.

Focus only on what’s really important, and focus on one thing at a time.

Having a regular meditation practice will greatly help you in clearing all of the unnecessary programs running in your mind.

Simplicity & Presence
Simplicity brings you more into the here and now (all that really exists). The simpler life is, the more conducive it is to cultivating a state of present moment awareness.

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and
not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms
of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

– Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now)

Read more: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

Simplicity & Minimalism
Minimalism is a form of simplicity. Once you clear all of your baggage (physical, mental, emotional…etc.), you have less burdens, less weighing you down and less obstructions to your happiness.

“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.”
– Linda Breen Pierce

Read more: The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage

Simplicity & Quality Over Quantity
Quality over quantity is a common phrase, but how many people really put it into practice? It applies to everything, especially relationships. If you build a few good quality relationships, instead of just trying to please everyone, it’s far more fulfilling and rewarding.

Simplicity & Money
Prioritize your happiness, instead of making decisions solely based on money. Budgeting and worrying about every penny you spend is a miserable existence. Feel abundant, and abundance will permeate your life. If you have an abundance mentality, you will, by the laws of the universe, attract more abundance.

Here’s a personal example: I was just in Goa, India and the town I was in (Arambol) only had one working ATM. It was a long walk away, always had a long line and had a limit to how many rupees you could withdraw. Basically, going to the ATM was about as fun as being the wicked witch of the west and caught in a tsunami. So what I did was I would go to money exchange places, which were closer and much, much easier. They charged a 3% exchange fee, but the convenience was so worth it.

Another aspect of this is simplifying the bills you pay. Evaluate what you’re paying on a monthly basis and figure out what you really need (or want). Get rid of the unnecessary. Also, automate your bill payments, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay them (less programs running on the mind-computer).

Simplicity & Distilling Information
The skill of distilling information is being able to simplify and concisely assimilate information. This allows for more clarity on whatever you’re learning about, prevents you from succumbing to information overload and puts you in a position to effectively implement the information.

If you can’t simply explain a subject to a young child, you don’t truly understand it.

You can build this skill of distilling information by succinctly summarizing things on a regular basis. This could be through writing, verbal explanations or even giving presentations on certain topics.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
– Confucius

Find bliss in simplicity.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

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Should We Always Be Happy?

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People have asked me this question many times…

Should we always be happy?

The short answer…

Of course not.

The long answer…

We all just want to be happy, right?

Why do we want a good job? Why do we want an awesome wife/husband? Why do we want to travel the world? Because we (falsely) believe that those things, once attained, will make us happy.

Bliss is what we yearn for in each moment. But here’s the key point: We would have no appreciation for bliss if it was all we ever knew.

“If you want to know what the water is like, don’t ask the fish.” – Chinese Proverb

Without experiencing an alternative, we have no perspective. We need the negative to be able to fully enjoy the positive.

As human beings, we need the “bad” to appreciate the “good.” Challenges and struggle make our lives a fulfilling, worthwhile experience.

We need darkness to recognize light. We would not even see anything if reality was all darkness or all light. We would not hear anything if reality was all noise or all silence. The law of duality permeates our universe, birthing a continuous dance of the yin and yang, helping us gain perspective.

Who appreciates a warm, sunny day more? Someone in Southern California? (Where it’s like that every day.) Or someone in Alaska who just experienced months of blistering cold and darkness?

“Sunny days wouldn’t be special if it wasn’t for rain
Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain”

– 50 Cent (Yes, I just quoted 50 Cent. That’s a great line.)

Something is cherished only when you know its opposite.

That’s why we’ve incarnated into this reality; to experience limitation and challenges in order to spur growth. This state of physical limitation allows us to fully appreciate the infinity that we’re all aspects of.

Everything is a Learning Experience

Experience the negatives and view them as a learning experience (because they are).

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of a greater or equal benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Wallowing in victimhood and self-pity has never benefited anyone. We have to work through obstacles, learn from “failures” and use challenges to spur growth.

Working Out: A Microcosm of Life

Just as avid weightlifters learn to love the intense resistance of the weights, we can all apply the same mentality to life in general. Workouts are inherently challenging, but that’s why the practice is worthwhile. You must push yourself and struggle with weights you can barely handle to grow stronger. If it were easy, there would be no benefit or sense of fulfillment. Life is the same.

Success and Failure

Highly successful people persevere through struggle and hardships.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” – Bruce Lee

Heroes work through struggle and overcome obstacles. Life would be boring and consist of no growth if it was one big cakewalk. There’s a reason why sheltered, spoiled kids grow up to be incapable, unpleasant people. They’re never forced to challenge themselves and grow.

Note: Though all things negative are crucial to any learning experiences in life, you have the choice to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. For example, getting depressed or beating yourself up because of a perceived failure instead of using it as fuel for future success. A lot of people get hung up on their struggle and attach their identity to it. This is what creates a victim mentality, where you will limit your experiences to the “negative” side of the spectrum until your mentality changes.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

Video Games, Novels, Movies and Stories

Would you play a video game if it was too easy? Hell no. You would be as bored as Michael Vick at a PETA meeting.

Think about the best video games, the best novels, the best movies and the best stories. They all involve tremendous struggle that has to be worked through and overcome.

While things like war, in my opinion, are unnecessary forms of struggle (because they’re manipulated into existence), some form of struggle is necessary for a worthwhile experience.

My Personal Perspective

I’ll admit that I’m more positive than most (which is why I write about this stuff). But I’m not happy all of the time, nor do I pretend to be.

Like everyone, I experience the full spectrum of human emotions. And I’m grateful for it. It’s in feeling the brilliant diversity of emotions that we can call ourselves truly alive. However, it’s a choice whether or not to be consumed by these emotions. This is where things like meditation and mindfulness provide tremendous help.

Sometimes I’m frustrated. But I acknowledge the frustration and observe it without judgment. Then I’ll do something like deadlift while bumpin’ some Sean Price (RIP!) to release the frustration. Next thing I know, I’m back to my feelin’ good, feelin’ great self.

The Takeaway

Life wouldn’t be the miraculous learning experience that it is if we were always happy. We need darkness in order to truly appreciate the light. Embrace the struggle and persevere. Everything is a learning experience.

Life is a video game.

Have fun.

– Stevie P!
 

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The Spontanist

Note: I use the pronoun “he” in this post (mostly because I included the picture of myself below). But if your vessel is of the female variety, feel free to substitute it with “she” while reading.

Spontanist

The Spontanist is the physical embodiment of spontaneity, living in perpetual celebration of the present moment.

The past can be learned from and the future can be used to plan, but the now is where life happens. The present is where the Spontanist resides.

The Spontanist welcomes change.

The only constant is change. The universe is in a state of continuous flux and so are we. Atoms are 99.999999999999% empty space and electrons are blinking in and out of existence. There is no real solidity! The world around us, as well as our bodies, are amalgamations of slowed vibrations. So to think that we are rigid, fixed and unchanging is utterly insane. The Spontanist leverages the permanent impermanence of reality. He rides the winds of change without resistance.

The Spontanist embraces the unknown.

He does not fear the unknown but greets it with open arms. Life is mysterious. Existence is enigmatic. There are so many unknowns. Certainty is an illusion but we all have the ability to handle anything life throws at us. The Spontanist understands this and gratefully accepts mystery as the key to adventure.

The Spontanist does not confine their entire identity to a label.

He has no need to box his identity inside of a nationality, race, gender, political party or name. Why imprison the self within a label, when you can choose the whole? (And the liberation that comes with it.) The Spontanist just is.

Yes, the word “Spontanist” is a label, but it is only a signpost, not an identity. And a signpost to describe only one aspect of being, at that.

When asking the question “Who am I?” the only plausible answer for the Spontanist is “I am.”

The Spontanist has no rigid, static personality to uphold.

(Nothing is rigid and static anyway, though we might delude ourselves into thinking so.)

He is free to be however he wants to be. His sense of self isn’t relegated to adjectives that describe behavior. The Spontanist isn’t quiet or loud, athletic or nerdy. He embodies any adjective, depending on what the moment brings. The Spontanist dances, not because he is a dancer, but because he feels like dancing.

The Spontanist is guided by intuition.

Intuition is his inner compass. The Spontanist flows through life, surfing streams of intuition into the magical mystery of existence. He uses inner judgment to determine his path, not the opinions other people or the standardized norms of society.

The Spontanist is dynamic.

He happily adjusts to any situation. He is strong yet yielding, flexible yet empowered.

The Spontanist epitomizes water as described by Bruce Lee…

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

The Spontanist doesn’t suppress desires.

He knows how to differentiate between genuine desires and deceitful desires. The Spontanist operates through intuition, not ego. He is motivated by love as opposed to fear. Acting out of a place of love, the Spontanist is confident with any decision-making.

The Spontanist has faith.

The Spontanist has faith in himself. He has faith that everything happens for a reason and everything is a learning experience. He has faith that he harbors the ability to gracefully flow through even the most turbulent of life’s waters.

Spontaneity is the spice of life and the Spontanist is a master chef.

Now is always the perfect time to cook up some freestyle fun.

 

20 Powerful Quotes to Live By

 

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1. “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

 

2. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

 

3. “Infinite Love is the only truth – Everything else is illusion.” – David Icke

And him expanding on it… “I have been saying and writing for so many years that one sentence can encapsulate the totality of life, of existence, of being: Infinite Love is the Only Truth – Everything Else is Illusion.”

 

4. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

It’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy. We create our own “reality.”

 

5. “Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.” – Osho

PS – At the end of your life you will regret more things that you don’t do, as opposed to things you do.

 

6. “Never forget that you are not in the world; the world is in you. When anything happens to you, take the experience inward. Creation is set up to bring you constant hints and clues about your role as co-creator. Your soul is metabolizing experience as surely as your body is metabolizing food.” – Deepak Chopra

 

7. “Let go or be dragged.” – Zen proverb

Holding onto things creates so much unnecessary pain.

 

8. “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ― Eckhart Tolle

Whatever you focus on, you hold into form.

 

9. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

 

10. “The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind. The mind always seeks to deny the Now and to escape from it. In other words, the more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer. Or you may put it like this: the more you are able to honor and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering – and free of the egoic mind. Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

11. “Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.” – Roy Goodman

 

12. “If man made it, don’t eat it.” – Jack Lalanne

Best dietary advice ever. Just eat real food, not processed, factory “food.” Don’t be neurotic though, apply this at least 80% of the time and you’ll be alright.

 

13. “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Connect the dots and see the bigger picture.

 

14. “Follow your bliss… And the Universe will open doors for you where there were only walls before.” – Joseph Campbell

Everything just falls into place when you let your heart/intuition guide you.

 

15. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

16. “I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.” – Albert Einstein

 

17. “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

 

18. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

“Reality” is a mirror. Change yourself, and the reflection in the mirror has no choice but to change.

 

19. “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha

Be open-minded, without being naive. Trust your own intuition. (There are rumors that Buddha never actually said this, but it’s a great quote either way.)

 

20. “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean

 

Any comments or other quotes that you live by? Leave ’em in the comments section below. Thank you.

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Get Rid of All Preconceived Notions of What a “Spiritual” Person Should Be Like

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In mainstream Western society today, the keywords surrounding someone deemed as “spiritual” look something like this:

Emotional, feminine, hippy, vegetarian, vegan, yoga, meditation, tea, psychic, tofu, soy milk, passive, positive, pacifist, unique, in tuned, dreamer, unrealistic, out there, creative, artistic, New Age, free spirit…etc.

You get the idea.

Though some of these are great attributes, it paints the overall picture of something like an unemployed hippy chick with no sense of reality. Or a frail, overemotional man who lacks strength and vitality.

Is that not the stereotypical image that is conjured up when someone is described as “spiritual” in mainstream culture?

Well, fuck that (you gotta emphasize things sometimes haha). Let’s shift the paradigm.

Shatter those preconceived notions. Actually, shatter all preconceived notions. They do nothing but put the world you perceive in rigid little boxes. Don’t attach to a preconceived image of what something should be or look like.

But, before we go further, what is “spiritual”?

My definition of spiritual is being aware.

Being… Being in the moment… Simply being. And awareness… Being aware of the tranquil stillness deep inside… Being aware of infinite potential… Being aware.

Here’s another sign post pointing down the road of spirituality, courtesy of Bruce Lee. This is one of my favorite quotes of all-time.

A spiritual person doesn’t have to do yoga. A spiritual person can achieve the same body/mind connection by deadlifting the weight of a small car.

A spiritual person doesn’t have to sit cross-legged and meditate. A spiritual person can use any activity as meditation.

A spiritual person doesn’t have to be a vegetarian. A spiritual person can thank the animal that gave it’s life to provide sustenance for another being.

A spiritual person doesn’t have to be passive. A spiritual person can live through action!

So don’t judge anyone. And don’t judge yourself either.

DON’T PUT OTHERS, OR YOURSELF, IN A BOX.

Just because you’re a guy doesn’t mean you can’t express your emotions.

Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t be strong (physically and mentally).

Just because you’re a trucker doesn’t mean you can’t meditate.

Just because you look like you can pin a grizzly bear in a wrestling match doesn’t mean you can’t be spiritual.

Just because you work in the cubicle farms of the corporate world doesn’t mean you can’t be spiritual.

But, then again, we’re all spiritual beings anyway.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” -Teilhard de Chardin