The Paradox of Personal Freedom: How Positive Constraints Can Enhance Your Life

the path to freedom

As humans, we have an insatiable desire for freedom.

It’s only natural. Freedom is our essential state and we feel this in the innermost depths of our being. When freedom is blatantly denied, it is an excruciating hindrance and not tolerated for long.

However, every great truth is paradoxical from the perspective of the mind and through the filter of language. The idea of freedom is no different. You would think that total, complete freedom would mean total, complete happiness, right? But that’s not the case (in this reality, at least). Absolute freedom does not necessarily equate to absolute happiness.

Infinite options equals ultimate prison, in many circumstances. You end up with this paradox of choice issue. It’s like standing in front of shelving at a Safeway with 300 brands of toothpaste and just wasting 15 minutes of your life trying to pick a toothpaste. You don’t need that kind of cognitive burden and decision fatigue.
~ Tim Ferriss

 
Focused perspective allows for desired experiences to come to fruition, as a specific choice concentrates your reality based upon our intention. This focused perspective, or in other words, constraints on experienced reality, is the foundation for learning and evolution as humans. Limitation fosters creative solutions, resistance catalyzes growth and darkness is needed to truly appreciate light.

If you think about it, absolute freedom means sitting in infinite possibility without choosing a possibility. So in a way, you’ve chosen to compromise complete freedom just by participating in the 3D human experience.

Ok, metaphysical musings aside; what I’m getting at is this… In order to have a highly rewarding, fulfilling and purposeful life, you need to consciously apply the power of positive constraints.

You’re always making choices and assumptions (in every moment) that are condensing the light of your freedom/possibility to a focused area. And the key question is: Are you consciously aware of the choices and assumptions you’re making?

What are Positive Constraints?

Positive constraints are constraints that you consciously place upon yourself in order to direct your life in a desired direction.

For example, if you know that writing a book is something that will add immeasurable value to your life, you’re going to have to sacrifice other activities in favor of a regular writing habit. And you’re going to have to write even when you don’t feel like it. But as a result of this positive constraint, your life will be more fulfilling and you’ll create more freedom for yourself long-term.

Why Are Positive Constraints Useful?

Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.
~ Paulo Coelho

 
Positive constraints focus your experiences towards what you want to prioritize in life.

They actually create more freedom in many cases. If you want the freedom to travel the world, you have to make sacrifices to get there. You have to save money (though not as much as most people think), quit your job (or work for yourself and do it remotely) and decide where you want to go. All of those things are positive constraints to bring you to a place of freedom to travel.

Being an entrepreneur epitomizes attaining freedom through positive constraints. In order to work for yourself, make your own decisions and have freedom of time and location, sacrifices must be made to get there. A lot of groundwork is required to get any business or entrepreneurial project off the ground, yet once the ball is rolling, it can create long-term freedom in many aspects of life.

The Freedom to Choose to Concede Freedom

Having the freedom to choose your own constraints is what makes life fulfilling and worthwhile. If you’re forced to do something, that’s a blatant form of slavery. If you’re programmed into thinking you don’t have a choice, that’s a subtle form of slavery. Both are extremely disharmonious and antithetical to human happiness.

Ultimately, everything you do is a constraint on freedom. The Latin root of the word decision means “to cut off.” By making a decision, you’re literally cutting off all other possibilities. So it’s important to be mindful of your decisions in every moment, because you’re always making decisions whether you’re aware of them or not. It is choice (decision) that collapses the wave-form of all possibility and gives us a specific experience. Without choice, there would be no experience. Having free will without making a choice is to not have an experience.

The key is being conscious of the choices you’re making and being aware of what you’re keeping and what you’re “cutting off” by making a decision.

Family and Oneness

One of the most gratifying positive constraints is choosing to start a family. By starting a family, you are choosing to give up some freedom, but the rewards of caring for others, giving and sharing can greatly outweigh the emptiness that comes from just sitting on the prospect of possibilities. Plus, taking care of someone besides yourself can be immeasurably rewarding if you already have some degree of self-mastery to build upon.

Creating a family is unique in the sense that it imprints and amplifies your impact on other people (particularly children). If you haven’t released your own demons, you’re going to infect your family with your dysfunction. This is why families tend to repeat the same patterns generation after generation, unless someone becomes very conscious and grounded in their own power. On the other hand, if you’re harmonious within yourself, you’re going to spread the light of your love even more and that’s a snowball effect too. So from this higher perspective, you have the potential to create more freedom and happiness for the whole (which we’re all a part of) by choosing the positive constraint of starting a family.

How to Apply Positive Constraints

1. Decide what you want – This is the decision that cuts off other possibility and focuses your reality. Make sure you’re consciously focusing your reality and being mindful of where your intentionality is being directed.

On a larger scale, figure out your purpose. Find what you want to prioritize in life and cast aside the things that aren’t in alignment with it. Also, you don’t have to have a fixed purpose for the rest of your life. Your purpose can change and evolve as you change and evolve.

For a clearer vision of your purpose, read my article: Reveal Your Life’s Purpose by Asking These 15 Questions

2. Implement habits to get there – Once you decide on what you want, action must be taken. Form daily habits to bring you in your desired direction.

Decide on 1-3 habits that are your “big wins” for the day and set aside blocks of time to do them, no matter what. With me, I set aside a 50 minute block for writing every morning and I record a video as well. Those have become things that I just do. Because I’ve built the habit, there is no decision to be made or questioning myself, they’re just what I do.

Don’t forget about the first hour of your day either. Your morning routine is the foundation for your day. Make your morning routine the leverage point from which you build positive momentum for the rest of the day. Ideally, it should consist of drinking a lot of water (re-hydration and cleansing), meditation and some form of stretching/mobility exercises/yoga to prime your body for the day.

More on morning routines:
How to Own Your Day: Tim Ferriss Shares His 5 Morning Rituals
The ‘Carpe Diem’ Morning Ritual

That’s it. Applying positive constraints is essentially just focusing and following through.

Enjoy your journey and much love to ya.

– Stevie P!

 

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The Challenge Perspective

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
― Carlos Castaneda

There are no problems, only challenges.

This is the lens through which I’ve looked at life lately. I’ll call it “the challenge perspective”; and it’s been utterly transformative for me.

Viewing everything as a challenge closely ties in with the idea of life being a video game of sorts. Would you play Super Mario if all you had to do was just walk to the right the whole time, unopposed by any obstacles? Of course not, the challenge is what makes it fun. Pushing our limits makes it all worth it. We only grow when we’re subjected to resistance.

How are you viewing and addressing “difficult” situations in life? Are you stepping into your inherent power and taking them head on? Or are you playing victim and wallowing in disempowerment? Your experience of life can (and will) vary radically depending on your perspective.

When your significant other is angry or frustrated, do you react with similar anger or frustration? Do you run away because you think you can’t handle it? Or do you take on the challenge and embody love and lightheartedness in the face of fear?

When you’re running low on money, do you dwell in self-pity and victimhood? Or do you embrace the challenge and work to better your situation?

When you have to do something you despise doing at work, do you throw your hands up in defeat and complain? Or do you say “challenge accepted” and get it done, knowing that it will make you a stronger person?

When you’re pushing your physical limits, do you succumb to fear and doubt? Or do you tap into your indwelling fortitude and power through?

I had to tussle with that last set of questions recently while hiking Mt. Washington with the beautiful, wonderful Wander Woman (evidence below). She set a rigorous pace, to say the least, as we ascended the highest peak in the Northeastern USA (on its toughest trail too). We donkey konged up steep slopes of snow and ice, scrambled up rock faces, and scaled serious inclines for hours on end. There were points where I was exhausted and felt self-doubt creeping in, but I tapped deep into my reservoir of empowerment and pushed through. Because of that, I’m a stronger, more resilient person.

When you break on through, a greater version of yourself appears on the other side.

Mt Wash

You see, it’s not really about what happens to you in life; it’s about how you perceive each situation and how you act based on your perception. That’s what determines your subjective reality.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Life isn’t easy for anyone. But that’s the beauty of it. We all have our unique struggles which shape our character. We all have obstacles to overcome. We all face challenges that facilitate continuous growth and development.

Diamonds are created under extraordinary pressure. Mighty swords are forged in fierce fires of intensified heat.

Embrace the challenges presented to you. They’re perfect for your evolution into the best version of yourself.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Learn, grow, persevere, and, most importantly, have fun.

– Stevie P!

An Open Letter to the Spiritualist

Medita

Yes
You are a spiritual being
Having a human experience

But don’t ignore the fact
That you are in a body
A wonderful one at that

Are you going to take it for granted?
Are you going to overlook the vessel you inhabit?
Are you going to neglect the flesh?

Make the most of it
While it lasts
Embrace the experience
Savor the voyage

Make an impact
Spread love
Embody consciousness

Be totally aware
Immersed in the world
Yet not of it
Wholeheartedly engage
In the wonders of corporeality
The sights
The sounds
The smells
The tastes
The touch
The pleasures and pains
The smirk-inducing, physical bliss

The Universe
Is experiencing itself
Through you
For the opportunity
To taste coffee
To flex a bicep
To have amazing sex
To do whatever it is
You’re doing right now

Cherish this video game
Become lucid in the dream
Before it’s over

For life is euphorically fleeting
Paradoxically serendipitous
And meant to be

 

It’s All Research, Therefore I Cannot Fail

This is a guest post by Alton Eckel.

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My mother taught me one of the greatest lessons in life: it’s all research. It was a lesson that I took with me into my first Ironman race last summer. When I felt exhausted, or my body ached, I re-evaluated my current state and redirected myself to a more constructive frame of mind. What could I do differently next time? What had I done properly that day? How had my training prepared me for the day’s elements? I can confidently say that I have never “failed” due to this outlook. When something has been unsuccessful in training or racing (or anything in life for that matter), I simply consider it a disproven hypothesis.

I am an adolescent when it comes to the world of endurance racing and triathlons; I still have a sense of immortality and innocence to me. I have not heard of an obscure race that I would not try or a distance that I did not believe was achievable. My ambition has carried me to many daunting start lines and my tenacity has pushed me across the same number of finish lines. That’s correct: in more than one hundred races ranging from 5k’s to full Ironman triathlons I have never shown a DNF (Did Not Finish) next to my name.

I did not run during high school. As a matter of fact, a telephone pole length was a distance event during my teenage years. I was an All American cheerleader who had avoided her bike since middle school. Then, one day, a middle aged, slightly overweight man asked me to join him for a two mile run. He tore up the pavement and left my ego at the door. This shifted my perspective. I became lit up at the idea of improving my run. Not to mention getting out of the gym and stationary machines. Within five months of my first official run I did my first half marathon. My sense of accomplishment fueled my interest in continuing with the sport. And in less than a year I ran my first marathon.

I also bought a bike and entered a sprint triathlon around the same point in time. This was where I faced my greatest challenge, since swimming has always been a struggle for me. I used a noodle on the swim. It may as well have been an inner tube. Out of two thousand women, I was 9th from last on the swim. Then I kissed my bike, made my way through the crowded streets and ended up finishing in the middle of the field. I learned a great deal during that race about my self and my ability. I was not invincible. I needed to practice swimming. I needed to train with more brick sessions. I needed to alter my nutrition.

The following year, I returned to the same sprint triathlon determined to test out my new skills. I had done my research. I had taken swim lessons. I had done weekly bricks. I had tested my nutrition through trial and error. The hard work paid off. I finished that race first in my age group and nineteenth overall. I discovered how a challenging experience could be used as research toward a more positive one in the future. Now I’m always excited for my next race, as it’s an opportunity to test my hypotheses once again.

While recently juggling triathlon training and attending college full-time for my Master’s in Psychology, I have realized that the two are closely intertwined. The cognitive aspect of training and racing is an exercise in mental toughness and inner dialogue. I have self reflected over and over again and discovered the therapy that endurance racing offers.

This also elicited the question of why I’m able to use my inner dialogue to push forward, while some athletes are paralyzed by self-defeating thoughts and fear. I am not the bionic woman; my legs feel like lead bricks at mile 18 of the run during an Ironman, my back aches from a 40 lb pack after my seventh summit of the day in the White Mountains, and my vision becomes impaired at mile 90 of a hot century ride. Yet, somehow, I push through this feeling while others surrender to of the pain, turn back, or give up.

What separates us? I propose that it’s my inner dialogue, which is motivational and empowering. I have a drill sergeant within my own mind. When I grow tired or ache all over, my internal self says, “Suck it up, this is nothing!” My exhaustion and desire to slow down is overcome by my excitement and drive, while other athletes’ exhaustion and desire to slow down are exacerbated by feelings of disempowerment and defeat. The same thought creates a different inner dialogue for different athletes. The perception of our thoughts produces different behaviors and subsequent outcomes. As it turns out, endurance athletes are in a continuous process of engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with themselves.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is therapeutic intervention in which thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intertwined. The way we choose to react to a triggering event is dependent on our interpretation and thoughts surrounding it. Following our thought is an emotional response, which in turn affects our behavior. Therefore, our thoughts and emotions control our actions… even when training and racing.

CBT

How can we use CBT to improve performances and interpret failures in a motivating way? First, pay attention to what your inner dialogue is saying to you. To use running as an example: The next hard tempo run that you go out for listen to your thoughts and physical responses. Do you give up on the fast pace a half mile prior to your anticipated distance? If so, then what were you thinking when you chose to slow down? Was your body tense and in a state of fear?

Understanding what happens within our body and thoughts just before we decide (yes, it’s a decision) to give up or slow down helps us to change future outcomes and improve performances. If we have self defeating thoughts such as, “I cannot meet my goal, I’m too tired” then working on a more productive thought pattern such as, “I’ve felt this tired before, time to dig deep and work toward closing in on that goal” can improve our performance and boost our confidence.

Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in training and racing. Challenge yourself to improve your inner dialogue and find the lesson learned in unmet goals. Work toward using difficult days as motivation. As my mom states, it’s all research. None of us have failed, just disproven hypotheses.

“Do not dedicate your life to your sport, but rather, dedicate your sport to your life.”
-Dan Millman

“There is no failure, only feedback.”
-Mark Allen

About Alton:
Alton is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. She’s also a trail runner, triathlete, wolf mama and part-time superhero.

Follow Alton on Instagram: @trailbright

Alton

6 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone

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Last weekend I took a solo weekend trip to Acadia National Park in Maine… And it was an amazing experience. (Acadia is a definite must-see for everyone in my opinion. If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.)

The entire island (Mt. Desert Island) is sprawling with pristine wilderness. Acadia has miles and miles of well-kept hiking trails. There are mountains with ridgelines that look like the spines of gigantic creatures, merging into the scenic, rocky Maine coast. Then there’s quaint town of Bar Harbor, with a nice selection of quality restaurants and shops. Endless awesomeness everywhere you go.

I had a great weekend in Acadia. Every time I travel alone, I’m ridiculously spontaneous. I consciously let go of any fears, do everything on a whim and get into all kinds of random adventures. Plus I always meet more people than when I’m with people I already know. (Don’t get me wrong, traveling with others is awesome too. It’s great to bond through experience. But the benefits of solo travel aren’t valued and enjoyed enough, in my opinion.)

Be open and spontaneous; not closed off and rigid. You need to be open to new experiences, because that’s when the magic happens. Cultivate your inner lone wolf and enjoy the experience of life.

“We came here to be free.” -Ralph Smart

 

6 Reasons to Travel Alone

1. You meet more people.

When you’re traveling alone, you just end up talking to more random people. And that’s part of why it can be so fun. Make friends at the top of a mountain. Go out to dinner by yourself and talk to whoever is around. Venture into a bar by yourself and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Talk to some friendly people on the street. New experiences… That’s what life is all about.

2. You’re completely free.

Solo travel entails being dynamic and spontaneous. You can do anything on a whim. There is no one else to please, no one to ask for approval and no limits. The only constraints you have are those created by your own mind. Traveling alone allows you to follow your heart on whatever spontaneous adventures it may bring you on.

3. You become more present.

When you’re solo, you don’t worry about anyone else. You’re able to more easily get “in the zone” when you’re by yourself. Especially when alone in nature, you slip into a deep presence; a connectedness with all that is.

4. You’re forced into personal growth.

You can’t depend on anyone but yourself when traveling alone. You have to constantly step out of your comfort zone. There’s no one to hold your hand or do anything for you. Traveling solo fosters so much self-improvement, and puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life.

5. You become comfortable in your own skin.

You have to learn to be comfortable with yourself to travel alone. And the more you do it, the more comfortable with yourself you get. Traveling alone cultivates self-love and self-acceptance, which is so crucial in maximizing the human experience.

6. You get to know yourself better.

It’s just you… When you travel alone, you give yourself space to reflect as you accumulate experience. Solo travel adventures give you the opportunity to ‘look within’ even as you’re exploring the outside world.

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” -Lao Tzu

 

Explore, stay spontaneous and keep metabolizing awesome experiences.

Much love.

-Stevie P!

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How To Be An Alchemist When Faced With Rejection

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Rejection helped propel me to where I am now.

It was borderline comical at one point… I faced so much rejection and missed opportunities with women, to the extent that I thought something was wrong with me. But before I threw my hands up in defeat and hurled myself into to vicious cycle of self-pity, I used rejection as a major catalyst for self-improvement.

The story goes…

I was a virgin until I was 21, and not by (conscious) choice haha. I wasn’t comfortable with myself, desperate to fit in, had no genuine confidence and the assertiveness of a limp noodle. The perfect recipe for great (un)success in the female department. But on top of that, because of societal conditioning, I was hopelessly dead set on “getting girls.” It was like an eagle living on the ground just because all of the other creatures are doing it.

During college, I had a streak of (almost) sexual encounters that were painfully close to coming to fruition, but nothing happened. It was frustrating to say the least, but the Universe was welcomely whispering to me that I needed to be more self-confident and assertive.

I took heed. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, this series of experiences became a catalyst for my personal growth and development. It sparked something deep within, and I’ve been on a journey of continuous growth ever since.

Literally everything changed once I cultivated self-love and started to become comfortable in my own skin.

As Ralph Smart says, “love yourself 100%” because that’s the point from which everything else falls into place.

Note: I’m not saying that I changed and went all Wilt Chamberlain. I just honed the genuine confidence to go after what I wanted. Nothing was done out of spite, fear or ego, which is why I’m still on good terms with every woman I’ve had an intimate relationship with (oh heyyy, if you’re reading this). And this improvement carried over into every other aspect of life as well.

What actually sparked the idea for this post was an interesting weekend I recently had. I went out Friday and Saturday night in Portland, Maine (great little city btw). I must have talked to 30-40 different girls over the weekend (young women, if you want to be politically correct), but nothing came to fruition. It was a bit disheartening, but these so-called rejections are actually a blessing in disguise. Why? I’ll get to that soon.

The main point is this… Turn rejection into self-improvement, not self-pity.

“Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” ― Steve Maraboli

 

It never seems like it in the moment, but with hindsight that quote always proves true.

Now let’s get to the action items…

How to change your perception of rejection (and become a ‘rejection alchemist’):

1. Don’t take things too seriously.

Why are you taking things so seriously? Let go and enjoy life. Drop all the self-created fear and step into your true potential. Not taking yourself, or the world too seriously, is a major factor in cultivating genuine happiness and self-confidence.

Have fun with your life, and you’ll end up attracting kindred spirits (see #3).

“I asked the girl at the coffee shop out on a date. Unfortunately she said no, probably because I asked her out to coffee.
” ― Jarod Kintz

 

2. Rejection is a tremendous learning opportunity.

Rejection reveals great opportunities to fine-tune yourself. It shows you of any character flaws you have, guiding you along the path of self-mastery.

It’s also an opportunity to stop overanalyzing everything; a sign to let go and unleash your unique brand of awesomeness.

“Bad luck with women is a determined man’s road to success. For every affliction, he makes, out of indignation, yet another advancement in order to exceed the man that the woman chose over him. This goes to show that great men are made great because they once learned how to fight the feeling of rejection.” ― Criss Jami

 

Use rejection as fuel for self-improvement. It provides a golden opportunity to get better at something, or a lot of things. Rejection lays out the path to continue growing into the greatest version of yourself.

3. You attract the same energy you put out.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

 

Like attracts like.

Sometimes those people just aren’t compatible with you on an energetic level. Maybe you’re looking in the wrong places. This is why I don’t have much “luck” in bars. Because the setting usually (though not all the time) attracts people with a certain energetic/mental-emotional state. And that state isn’t too compatible with where I’m at right now. I’m probably better off meeting women at a yoga studio or something like that. (Where my yoga girls at!?)

Be who you want to attract, live your own truth and reality eventually conforms.

4. Sometimes it’s just them.

Maybe they were too consumed with their own inner turmoil to see your awesomeness. Most people are too preoccupied with their own dysfunction to effectively interact with others. So don’t take it personally if people don’t respond well. Just don’t be captain creeper, of course.

Be yourself, without harming yourself or others, and let go. That’s what allows everything to naturally fall into place.

Every rejection presents potent opportunities to better yourself…

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Just as this blog is the mental/emotional manifestation of ‘rejection alchemy’, this picture is the physical manifestation. Self-improvement > self-pity.

 “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” -Lao Tzu

 

Our society focuses on manipulating or changing others to get what you desire, but changing yourself is the only way to bring about change.

Be grateful for everything you have, while continuously improving. Always grateful, never complacent.

Turn rejection into self-improvement, not self-pity.

Swords are only forged in intense heat. Diamonds are created only through immense pressure.

Uncover your inherent greatness.

Infinite Love.

-Stevie P!

3 Quotes To Help You Fully Experience Life

A little picture I took at Fort Williams Park, Maine.

A little picture I took at Fort Williams Park, Maine.

Life is defined by experiences…

Our experiences make us who we are. Experiences mold our character and sculpt our unique personality.

It is through a diverse array of experiences that makes the most interesting people who they are. These experiences come to fruition when we consciously choose to step out of our comfort zone. When we travel to different places, learn a new skill, or really do anything new (no matter how small). This is what allows our true essence to manifest through our character.

So without too much rambling, here’s the 3 quotes that will help you fully experience life. These quotes deeply resonate with me and act as the spark for me to experience everything life has to offer (while embracing and enjoying every moment).

3 Quotes To Help You Fully Experience Life

1.

“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

 

2.

“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

 

3.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Just let those sink in for a little…

Then go out there, and like Osho said, “experience life in all possible ways.”

My Recent Experiences

I’ve been traveling a lot for work in recent weeks, spending a lot of time in Portland, Maine. And I’ve experienced so much in such a short amount of time. I’ve tried a different restaurant every night; sampled dozens of local, craft beers; met so many random, awesome people; explored the surrounding countryside and coastline; the list goes on. I’m truly living in the moment; spontaneously doing whatever my heart tells me. It’s led me on some great adventures and I absolutely love it. I’m just going with the flow, and feeling magically alive.

Marcus… aka Marcus the Maine Event

I can’t discuss truly experiencing life without mentioning my friend Marcus, who I met through work in Portland. This guy most definitely epitomizes everything discussed in this post, and he is the living embodiment of those quotes. Marcus has had such a multitude of diverse experiences, and not surprisingly, he’s probably the most interesting person I’ve ever met. There is no fear behind his motivations in life; he simply lives through the love of experience.

Marcus has owned his own company, traveled the world, been rich, been broke, partied with “royalty” and the mega-rich, and meditated with gurus. He even took a six month “retirement” in which he gave up everything and lived without using fossil fuels at all (he’s a hippie at heart), getting around mostly by bicycle. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. He experiences life from every angle, all while leveraging the power of the present moment. Marcus has stories for lifetimes. The guy just loves to experience everything, resulting in the wildly interesting, entertaining character that he is (his true self). And I genuinely admire that.

Go and experience everything life has to offer.

Truly live, instead of just merely existing. Do some crazy shit; but do it from a place of love. Step out of your comfort zone. Try something new. Be spontaneous. Follow your heart. Follow your excitement. Be weird. Be uniquely you. Feel deeply alive in every moment.

Enjoy this wonderfully fleeting life of yours.

Much love.

-Stevie P!

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Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to Groups

Well… really the title should be more like “Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to Groups… If You Want to Be Extraordinary in Any Sense.”

Don’t get me wrong, groups can be awesome and tremendously helpful. But the problem comes when you attach your whole identity to a group. In that case, you concede your brilliant uniqueness and take on unnecessary limitation. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

Not identifying with a group doesn’t mean never stepping foot any place of worship, or never playing for a team again. It means not attaching your identity, your sense of self, to it. You can participate in anything and everything, without being bound to the limitations of one group. You can get useful insights, experiences and wisdom from literally everywhere. You’re free to be your own master, create your own destiny and journey wherever you please.

“Never belong to a crowd; Never belong to a nation; Never belong to a religion; Never belong to a race. Belong to the whole existence. Why limit yourself to small things? When the whole is available.” -Osho

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Fly free, my friend

Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to  Groups (10 Reasons):

1. Not labeling yourself is pure freedom.

Being relentlessly yourself is the ultimate freedom. You’re free to entertain any idea. Free to travel wherever life takes you. Free to experience everything life has to offer. Don’t be your own jail-keeper. Step outside of the prison cell.

There’s no need to slap a label on yourself and attach your identity with being a Christian, or Jewish, or a republican, or a democrat, or a janitor, or a lawyer, or American, or Italian, or a Pokemon Master (that might be an exception though 😉 ). Just be you! Just BE. Allow yourself to live with the joyous delight of flexibility. Embrace the enlightening capacity of entertaining any idea or immersing yourself in any situation.

“It’s what you can let go of that determines how high you fly.” -Ralph Smart

Let go of the weight of all the labels you’re carrying, and soar to new heights.

2. Your life becomes the Bruce Lee quote “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”

You gain the ability to draw useful information, experience and wisdom from anywhere. You also gain the flexibility to let go of anything that doesn’t serve your best interests. And you put you own unique spin on everything. This allows your life to be a dynamic, flexible and blissfully free dance with “reality.”

“Think about the power you have when you can readily entertain and deviate from ideas.” -Elliott Hulse

3. The ability to evolve more quickly.

As an individual, you can be far more dynamic in your evolution than if you’re attached to a group. Groups have a hard time adjusting to new environments and accepting change, while individuals ride (more like joyride) the winds of change.

Think about decisions. When you have a big group of people, it takes forever to decide where to even eat dinner. But as an individual, you just spontaneously do things. Spontaneity is the playfulness of the spirit emerging through you.

Being an individual allows you to follow your intuition; to take heed to the signs and move wherever life takes you.

Because an individual is far more dynamic and adaptable than a group, individuals are able to more easily transcend cognitive dissonance. (“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.” –Wikipedia) Groups tend to be paralyzed by cognitive dissonance when they encounter accurate or truthful information which contrasts their inherent beliefs.

Individuals can readily entertain and let go of ideas, while groups cling to ideas. Groups only exist because they’re based around a certain idea or collection of ideas. And if there is information contrary to these ideas, it causes cognitive dissonance and irrational thinking for those who attach their identity to the group. This is why many rigid groups simply ignore factual or new information, even information that can be massively beneficial. Why? Because it contradicts the ideas that the group is based upon, and they don’t no how to deal with it.

Be an individual, adapt, evolve and keep becoming the greatest version of yourself.

4. Existing in Love (as opposed to fear).

Many people cling to groups out of fear. Many label themselves as Christians, not because they strive to be Christ-like, but merely to avoid going to hell (or they’re too afraid to do something other than what they were born into, or they’re afraid of what their family would say…etc). People contemptuously cling to nationalities, because they’re afraid and ignorant of people who are different from them. This type of misled pride is often driven by the ego’s need for a convenient, classifiable identity. Ultimately, the ego fears for it’s own survival if not firmly attached to a label. Because when you just BE, you’re able transcend the limitations of fear and ego.

Letting go of labels allows you to let go of fear, and live in love. The more you operate in love, the more you will naturally let go of destructive behaviors, people, and situations. You will follow your bliss, existing in a state of pure love (well, most of the time, because nobody’s perfect, right?).

Love is our essence, re-familiarize with it and experience the life you were meant to live.

5. Objectivity.

If you identify strongly with a group, you’re inheriting the biases of that group. And on top of this, you’re constantly going to be around people with the same biases as yourself, which will further solidify any biases you already have. If you draw information from everywhere and engage with a variety of different people, you’re going to have far less biases, and a clearer picture of “reality.”

You’ll never be completely unbiased, but as an individual you can avoid the severely limiting biases that a lot of groups have.

6. Not succumbing to groupthink.

“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.” (Wikipedia)

It’s groupthink that has driven the large-scale tragedies we’ve seen in the world. The phenomenon of groupthink allowed the likes of Hitler and Stalin to perpetuate immense atrocities on humankind. These things would not occur if people weren’t so quick to conform (out of fear). These things will not occur when we all embrace our uniqueness, think for ourselves and live based in Love (not fear).

“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.” – Albert Einstein

We’re social creatures, needing interactions with others. But with this comes conformity. People tend to conform to ideas and standards in groups, even if they wouldn’t when alone. A great benefit of not rigidly identifying with groups is that you develop the awareness to choose your own actions, in every situation. Individuals recognize that they don’t have to conform to detrimental ideas or standards that many groups propagate.

“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.” -Deepak Chopra

7. You will experience more.

People who are individuals will develop relationships with a variety of different people, come across a myriad of diverse information, and expose themselves to a vast variety of life experiences. And that’s what life is all about, the experiences.

“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

“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

8. Harness the power of solitude.

If you don’t rigidly identify with groups, that means you’ll get more quality alone time (or at least the freedom to come up with your own thoughts and ideas). It’s during these moments of solitude that you get to know yourself, and allow for creative inspiration to come through.

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” -Aldous Huxley

Solitude allows you to take a break from the incessant external noise, and tap into your inner awareness.

9. Just being you allows your true self to shine through.

As an individual, you have the flexibility to express your own brilliant uniqueness. You have absolute freedom to express your innate, one-of-a-kind creativity; something that is virtually impossible when you completely identify with a group. Attaching your identity to a group is like making a pact to suppress your intrinsic uniqueness; to be more like other people and less like your true self.

Not expressing your individuality is a complete disservice to your unique existence.

Why fit in, when we were meant to stand out?

“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” -Victoria Moran

10. The people who have made the biggest impact on the world have been distinct individuals.

Think about the “great” people we’re all familiar with… Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Leonardo Da Vinci…etc. Sure, some of them may have associated with groups, but they’re remembered for their brilliant individuality. They truly did their own thing, living their essence, and that’s what makes them so memorable. No one achieves any greatness by merely maintaining the status quo.

Think about all  successful people, or people you admire as well. They’re all unmistakably themselves. If they merely blended in with the herd, they wouldn’t be who they are.

“What attracts people to me is that I’m relentlessly me, to the point that it’s fucking weird.” -Elliott Hulse

Groups aren’t inherently “bad.” Many groups can greatly contribute to one’s personal development and life experience. But rigidly attaching identity to groups is so limiting. 

You don’t have to abandon every group you belong to and live the life of a hermit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Experience everything life has to offer, and draw upon as many people as possible to create your own unique journey.

And remember… Just be you!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P!

Live It

 

023

It’s all about experiences
The people
The places
The “good” times
And the “bad”

The human experience
Is to be wholeheartedly embraced
Thoroughly enjoyed

Be fully aware
Feel the wonder of existence
From traveling to new lands
To the simple pleasure of air entering your lungs
It’s all magical

We are the Universe
Experiencing itself
From a perfectly unique perspective
Treasure the vantage point
That blink in the eye of eternity

Cherish the moment

Life…

Live it

1

Dive Into The Human Experience

“The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.” 

                 -Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Life is defined by experiences.

Moments that ripple through time, enriching the ever-present now of our existence.

That’s why, in my opinion, experiences are infinitely more valuable than any material good (besides the necessities for survival of course).

And speaking of experiences, I went on vacation last week! Woo wooo! It was a six day cruise in the Caribbean on the awesome Carnival Breeze, and I’m basking in gratitude for the experience.

Carnival Breeze

Sailin’

Vacations like this epitomize what I call “the 3D human experience.” Food. Drinks. Partying. Flirting. Dancing. Singing. Socializing. Spectacular scenery. Sunsets over the sea. All things that exemplify our experience on this plane (or boat 😉 ) of existence.

We, as human beings, are much more than meets the eye though. Like the old saying goes… We’re not human beings having a spiritual experience, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.

However, I’ve noticed that as many of us go through a “spiritual awakening”, we often find it difficult to stay grounded and fully immerse ourselves in this material world we’re inhabiting. I like to call this “floating on the ceiling.” And the thing is that if you’re too identified with being a “spiritual being”, you’ll miss out on the wonderful 3D experience at your fingertips.

My man Osho said something along the lines of “A spiritual man is just as comfortable in a bustling village as he is meditating on a mountain by himself.” I couldn’t agree more. (Note: Osho is referenced multiple times in this article, and for good reason. He delivers this message perfectly, with a healthy sense of humor.)

The whole point of this human experience is to dive in. Fully embrace it. Live, learn, laugh, have fun, connect with others and experience as much as possible.

“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

That’s what I realized that I was embodying on the cruise.

I usually eat healthy, but I indulged. I ate what I wanted, and made damn sure that I enjoyed every morsel. (Of course, health is of utmost importance, but occasionally you gotta say fuck it for a short period of time.)

I don’t usually drink alcohol too often, but I drank every night. I drank more than I should have a couple nights too. But hey, it’s all a learning experience and part of the journey of our being.

These kind of things become a problem when they’re done consistently. You become what your consistent behavior is. It would only be problematic if I had continued on that path. Just like how an obese person is not going to be fit after eating healthy for just 6 days.

Ok, back to the topic at hand…

On the cruise, I literally talked to every friendly person in my vicinity. I struck up conversation with every girl/woman I was attracted to (and got denied a few times, but it’s all in good fun). I made new friends at the bar, on the deck, waiting in lines, in the bathroom, wherever. I went zip-lining in Jamaica (ya mon). I swam with dolphins in Cozumel. The list goes on and on.

And I ended up meeting some great, like-minded people as well (hey Nickee and Amanda). Who would’ve known that I would get involved in deep, meaningful conversation within minutes of meeting people? Who would’ve thought that I would form deep-seated connections in the midst of such a seemingly “surface-level” atmosphere? I even randomly ran into someone who I’ve met before (hey Brittany). How crazy is that!?

Life is miraculous when you’re unshakably yourself. Life is magical when you embrace your inherent Love Aura and dive into the river of life.

Experience the world. Experience your physical body. Experience the connection with others, with animals, and with nature. Experience the miracle that is your life right now.

What are you waiting for? Dive in to the human experience.

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P!

Here’s Osho elaborating on this topic. He beautifully describes integrating spiritual awareness with worldly experience…

The traditional concept of man was that of a materialist or spiritualist, moral or immoral person, sinner or saint. A divided man is miserable. He is neither healthy nor whole; the other half that has been denied will go on taking revenge. It will find ways and means to overcome the part you have imposed upon yourself. You will become a battleground, there will be civil war.

In the past we were unable to create real human beings; we made humanoids. A humanoid is one who looks like a human being but is utterly challenged. He has not been allowed to bloom in his totality. He is adhoora, and because he is half is always tense; he cannot celebrate. Celebration is the fragrance of being whole.

Only a fulfilled tree will flower. Man is yet to flower. The new man will be earthy and divine, worldly and other-worldly. The new man will accept his totality and he will live it without any inner division, without getting split. His god will not be opposed to the devil, his morality will not be opposed to immorality; he will know no opposition.

He will transcend duality, he will not be schizophrenic. With the new man will come a new world, because the new man will perceive in a qualitatively different way. He will live a totally different life. He will be a mystic, poet, scientist. all at once.

The moment a child grows to become whole, society starts to suffocate him, stifling and cutting him into fragments, telling him what to do and what not to do, what to be and what not to be.

Losing his wholeness, he becomes guilty about his whole being. He denies much that is natural, and in that very denial he becomes uncreative. Now he will be only a fragment, and a fragment cannot dance, a fragment cannot sing. And a fragment is always suicidal because the fragment cannot know what life is. The humanoid cannot decide on his own.

Others have been deciding for him — his parents, the teachers, the leaders, the priests; they have taken all his decisiveness. They decide, they order; he simply follows. The humanoid is a slave.

My concept of the new man is that he will be Zorba the Greek and he will also be Gautama the Buddha. The new man will be Zorba the Buddha. He will be sensuous and spiritual — in the body, yet with a great consciousness, a great witnessing.

He will be Christ and Epicurus together. Religion failed because it was too other-worldly. It neglected this world. And you cannot neglect this world; to neglect this world is to neglect your own roots. Science has failed because it neglected the other world, the inner, and you cannot neglect the flowers.

Once you do that, neglect the innermost core of being, life loses all meaning. The tree needs roots, so man needs roots, and the roots can only be in the earth. The tree needs an open sky to grow, to come to great foliage and to have thousands of flowers. Then only is the tree fulfilled, then only does the tree feel significance and meaning and life becomes relevant.

Religion talks only of flowers that remain philosophical, abstract; they never materialise because they are removed from earth. And science has failed because it cares only about the roots.

We now need a new humanity in which religion and science become two aspects of one human being. And art will be the bridge. That’s why I say that the new man will be a mystic, a poet and a scientist.

PS- Videos too!