Gratitude: Your Secret Weapon

Gratitude

What if I told you that you have a secret weapon available to you at all times?

This secret weapon is not physical, nor destructive. Its power actually extends far beyond the reach of physical constraints.

It lifts the illusory veils we build, the many forms of fear that hinder our experience. You see, the fears we have in our modern western world are almost entirely psychological. We face almost no real danger. This means that the fears most people walk around with are overwhelmingly self-projected abstractions.

If we were facing the invasions of orc hordes every day, we would need mighty swords to fight them off. The orc hordes we face, however, are the fear-based ruminations of our own mind. The ultimate weapon against the forces of fear is the sword of GRATITUDE.

That’s not even a perfect metaphor because gratitude doesn’t involve fighting or resisting at all. Gratitude is so powerful because it’s essentially fighting by accepting. Let me explain…

Gratitude naturally and effortlessly transmutes fear.

Gratitude is like a laser beam that magically transforms insidious inner demons into Casper the Friendly Ghost.

It’s a calm breeze that refreshes your inner landscape.

Gratitude is the zenith of “positive” feelings. Actually, gratitude is beyond the duality of positive and negative. And it must be felt to be truly understood.

Where There is Gratitude, There is No Fear

Gratitude and fear cannot coexist. It’s just like how darkness is the absence of light. Once you shine the light of consciousness, the shadowy fears simply disappear.

This goes for any form of fear too. Fear is the undercurrent of all so-called “negative” emotions. Anxiety, worry, jealously, resentment, regret, stress, guilt…etc. are all children of fear. For example, stress is putting pressure on yourself for fear of an unwanted outcome; and being judged, by yourself and/or others, as not good enough. Anxiety is the fear of some possibility in the future. Can you see the trend here?

If you feel fear of any kind, shatter the illusion with gratitude. When you can feel gratitude, you’re letting go of fear. Don’t just think gratitude, FEEL gratitude, EMBODY gratitude.

The Great Transmuter

Gratitude is the master transmuter. Transmutation is the act of changing or the state of being changed into another form, which is exactly what gratitude does with what you would label as “negativity.”

It’s all a matter of changing your perspective. Show gratitude for the so-called “negativity” in your life and it transforms. Failures become lessons, crises become opportunities and imperfections become beautiful symbols of uniqueness.

Since gratitude and fear cannot coexist, all you have to do is be in a state of gratitude and all “negativity” dissipates.

Gratitude won’t necessarily change a situation, but it will change how you view the situation. And when you change the way you look at things, surprisingly, the things you look at start to change.

Remember, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

The Magic is Right Here!

Gratitude is all about accepting where you’re at, at any given moment. It’s about seeing the big picture and being able to show compassion towards everything, positive or negative.

Through gratitude, you’re able to both accept situations and accept yourself as you are right now. Gratitude is a reminder that you are good enough, no matter what. Here’s something I’ve experienced over and over again: When you love and accept yourself in each moment, you’ll grow, effortlessly and continuously, without having to force it or put pressure on yourself.

Gratitude is also rooted in presence. We only get lost in fear when we forget about the present moment and enter the obsessive thought-patterns of the past or future. There are no problems in the present moment. Show gratitude and bask in the blissful realm of the eternal now.

Gratitude Practices

There are so many ways to express gratitude. It really comes down to anything which allows you to truly FEEL gratitude. Here are some ideas…

  • Write down what you’re grateful for (a great resource that incorporates writing things you’re grateful for every day is The Five Minute Journal)
  • Give thanks every morning when you wake up
  • Express gratitude as many times as you can throughout each day
  • Practice Ho’oponopono
  • Say “I appreciate you” to someone you care about
  • Thank “negative” situations for the lessons they provide – For example; I know a lot of people who were living life at a frenetic pace, and the thing made them slow down and appreciate their lives was a car accident.
  • Even if you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, you’re alive! The chances of you being born are about one in 400 trillion! Now that’s something to be grateful for. If you’re not grateful for life, you’re just going out of your way to make yourself miserable.

    When in doubt, be grateful.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

    How to Practice Ho’oponono

    Hawaii

    We all want to see the world change for the better. But we’re doing it all wrong…

    We want to change other people. We want to change situations. We even externalize our power to politicians and religious figures to come save us.

    But how many people focus on changing themselves?

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

     
    We do so much to stay victims, blame others and avoid taking responsibility. Are we that afraid of our own power? Are we that hesitant to make our own decisions?

    The only way that any change happens in your version of reality is if you change yourself.

    There’s a reason why Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Not change other people (you can’t), hope someone else does something (*cough* politics) or passively complain about things, but simply embody the change you want to see.

    You can only control yourself, not anyone else and not what life might throw at you (for the most part). But there’s a beautiful paradox here; when you change yourself, everything around you begins to change. Think about your perspective as a filter on reality. Change your filter and you experience a different version of reality.

    We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    – Anais Nin

     
    Here’s another aspect of the fallacy of trying to change others. How are you going to be an effective parent, teacher, psychologist, leader, coach or any other position where people are learning from you, if you’re blinded by your own biases, blocked by your own fears and possessed by your own pain? Everything you do will be based upon fundamentally skewed premises. If you’re disharmonious within, your actions will be from a place of disharmony.

    The best teachers are essentially clear mirrors, leading by example and reflecting back to others undistorted answers to their questions.

    Enter: Hoʻoponopono

    There is a simple practice that leverages the truth of inside-out-change, and it’s called Hoʻoponopono.

    Hoʻoponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It means “to make right” or “rectify an error.” Hoʻoponopono is based on the actuality of healing a situation by healing oneself.

    The practice of Hoʻoponopono consists of using these four affirmations:
    I love you
    I’m sorry
    Please forgive me
    Thank you

    Hoʻoponopono has been traditionally used to solve family and community problems, and has similarities to many other shamanic and mystical practices throughout the world.

    Think about it in terms of common sense, a family dispute will never be resolved if everyone blames each other. Forgiveness provides space for a solution.

    So how do I get that across to people — that we are each 100% responsible for problems? If you want to solve a problem, no matter what kind of problem, work on yourself. If the problem is with another person, for example, just ask yourself, “What’s going on in me that’s causing this person to bug me?” People only show up in your life to bug you! If you know that, you can elevate any situation, and you can release there. It’s simple: “I’m sorry for whatever’s going on. Please forgive me.
    – Dr. Hew Len

     
    There’s even a story that Dr. Hew Len healed a hospital ward of mentally ill criminals by using Ho’oponopono. Who knows if it’s actually true? But anything is possible.

    No Fuel for the Fire

    Any pain that people are carrying needs something to react with. If you don’t give it anything to react with, it doesn’t become part of your reality. If you do react to something, it’s because someone or something triggered pain that already exists within you. Can you see how important clearing yourself is?

    Here’s a relevant insight on relationships by Eckhart Tolle: (Note: This can apply to every kind of relationship, not just intimate relationships)

    If you both agree that the relationship will be your spiritual practice, so much the better. You can then express your thoughts and feelings to each other as soon as they occur, or as soon as a reaction comes up, so that you do not create a time gap in which an unexpressed or unacknowledged emotion or grievance can fester and grow. Learn to give expression to what you feel without blaming. Learn to listen to your partner in an open, nondefensive way. Give your partner space for expressing himself or herself. Be present. Accusing, defending, attacking — all those patterns that are designed to strengthen or protect the ego or to get its needs met will then become redundant. Giving space to others — and to yourself — is vital. Love cannot flourish without it. When you have removed the two factors that are destructive to relationships — when the pain-body has been transmuted and you are no longer identified with mind and mental positions — and if your partner has done the same, you will experience the bliss of the flowering of relationship. Instead of mirroring to each other your pain and your unconsciousness, instead of satisfying your mutual addictive ego needs, you will reflect back to each other the love that you feel deep within, the love that comes with the realization of your oneness with all that is. This is the love that has no opposite.

     
    Ho’opononopono distills these principles of clearing oneself into a simple, effective practice. You only have control of yourself and it’s the leverage point for all change. There really is no “out there” out there. Reality is a subjective experience and our interpersonal interactions are the intermingling of unique worlds.

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

     
    How to Practice Hoʻoponopono

    If you want to solve a problem, no matter what kind of problem, work on yourself.
    – Dr. Hew Len

     
    The practice of Ho’oponopono consists of visualizing a person or situation that is creating disharmony within you that you want to clear, then saying the four affirmations: I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you. You can just say the affirmations once or repeat them as many times as you like (either aloud or to yourself). Whatever works for you.

    Affirmation 1: I Love You

    Start with being in a state of love. It’s that unconditional, compassionate love which has no opposite. Literally become love. You can bring your hands to your heart if this helps.

    Affirmation 2: I’m Sorry

    This is simply acknowledging something in your reality that you want to clear (no need for guilt or shame). Think of your life as like a movie: If something is in your movie, you have to deal with it, because it’s in your movie.

    Affirmation 3: Please Forgive Me

    Don’t worry about who or what you’re asking for forgiveness. The point is to bring forgiveness into your being.

    Forgiveness is more about clearing negativity from yourself than it is about another person or situation. Forgiveness is not something you do for someone else, it’s something you do for yourself to heal and move on.

    Affirmation 4: Thank You

    You don’t have to thank anyone or anything in particular. Just say “thank you” and feel the gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that opens the door to healing.

    Ho’oponono

    Are we 100% responsible for everything within our reality? Who really knows?

    But it can only help if we use tools like Ho’oponopono. Think about it this way… How could the world around us not get better if we stop playing games of blame and judgment and incorporate practices based in love, forgiveness and gratitude?

    It’s time to embody the change we envision.

    Much love to us.

    – Stevie P! (aka Just Another Aspect of Yourself)


    UPDATE: There is even an online Ho’oponopono certification available now. If you enjoyed this article, consider becoming a master of this phenomenal tool here: Ho’oponopono Certification.

     

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    Master Travel Anxiety with this Simple Technique

    Flight cabin passengers travel

    Travel is the ultimate perception-expander.

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

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

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

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

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

    The Travel Gratitude Ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Try it out and enjoy the journey.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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

     

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    The Real Reason Behind Blessing Food

    Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Last_Supper_(copy)_-_WGA12732

    I’m that interesting character at the restaurant, hands hovering over my food as I silently mouth a couple words and sport a slight Buddha-smirk before eating.

    No, I’m not a Jesus freak or a “broccoli whisperer,” and I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little bit). As you’ll soon (re)discover, there’s a method to this madness.

    Expressing gratitude, praying, saying grace and all forms of blessing food before a meal are among the most universal and ancient behaviors of humankind.

    Almost every religion has some tradition of blessing food. And many religious people do it at every meal. But I’ve never come across WHY blessing food is important. (Like with most religious practices, people just do it without asking questions.)

    There is, of course, a core of truth to these traditions. However, you can obtain all of the benefits of saying grace without all of the dogma attached to religious rules and regulations.

    In today’s society, we tend to discredit and undervalue the unseen. If we can’t physically see changes, they must not be happening, right? Yet when we get out of our egoic minds and become more in tune with the unseen, we realize just how profound something as simple as expressing gratitude can be.

    The Benefits of Blessing Food

    1. Blessing food brings about a state of presence and mindfulness.
    Showing gratitude over a meal forces you to stop and be present. From this state of undistracted presence, you will eat mindfully and enjoy the food more. It turns every meal into a holy communion.

    If you eat mindfully, you become more in tune with the food and your body. You’ll know if what you’re eating is beneficial for you. And you’ll be unmistakably aware of the signals your body is sending you to stop eating (making it hard to mindlessly overeat).

    Mindful eating also will break compulsive eating and food addictions if done consistently at every meal.

    2. Blessing food heightens your senses.
    Pausing with gratitude, communing with your food and being in a state of mindfulness will engage and heighten all of your senses.

    Here’s an excerpt from Natural News

    Thus, whether seeing, smelling, inhaling, or, most strongly, touching the food, changes to the person that occur during blessing of natural food include:
     

  • Salivation increases, as full attention is place on the natural food’s unique, distinct aromas
  • More digestive enzymes are secreted
  • The circulatory system routes blood to the digestive tract’s organs
  • Hormones benefiting metabolism are released
  • Breathing patterns shift from one best suited for working to one best suited for eating.
  • Abdominal muscle contraction changes from a tightness that supports hard work into a different, more relaxed state, which relieves pressure around the digestive tract
  • The brain becomes in a receptive mood ready to enjoy, experience sweet gratitude, and eagerly pay attention to the stomach’s stretching sensors, to trigger the neurotransmitters which engage peristalsis
  • The eye becomes aware of both the food’s beauty, which enhances digestion, as well as alert to any danger signs in the food’s appearance
  • The senses of smell and taste, when focused and entrained on the food about to be eaten, becomes enhanced, increasing enjoyment and sharpening the ability to notice anything “off” or spoiled in the food.
  • And finally, firing patterns of the enteric nervous system (the neurons lining the gut like a sheath) shift to better control the digestion and absorption of food. Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain (as described by the Chair of Anatomy at Columbia University Medical Center) consists of “sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus.” There are 100 million neurons in the enteric nervous system, more than in the spinal cord, and more than in all the peripheral nervous system.
  •  
    3. Blessing food relaxes your digestive system.
    Holding gratitude and blessing food will switch your nervous system out of sympathetic mode (fight or flight) and into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). As a result, you will digest the food and assimilate the nutrients much more effectively than if you’re holding stress.

    This concept is common sense. For example: try to eat while driving in traffic, with cars beeping all around and see how well you digest.

    4. Blessing food infuses the food with positive energy.
    This may seem a little woo-woo, but bear with me here. Food, like everything else, absorbs energy from its environment. If food is being prepared in a hectic kitchen and the chef is stressed out, the food absorbs that. If the beef your eating is from a tortured cow, it’s going to carry that energy. It’s vitally important to instill food with positive energy before eating it. And this can be done through something as simple as holding the intention of gratitude before eating.

    Dr. Emoto’s water experiments beautifully demonstrate how words and music affect the molecular structure of water. All life on Planet Earth is water-based and therefore, affected by words, intentions, music and any other vibrations in the environment.

    5. Blessing food leverages the Placebo Effect.
    If you believe that the food carries good energy, it will. If you believe that the food will make you happy and healthy, it will.

    The placebo effect, though overlooked by modern science, is a profoundly powerful phenomenon. It’s a testament to the power of the mind. Whatever you believe, in the depths of your heart, determines the result you’ll get.

    If a placebo knee surgery is just as effective as real knee surgery, think about what it can do to the food on your plate.

    6. Gratitude itself improves health.
    Do not underestimate the power of gratitude. Gratitude has been shown to lower stress levels, improve sleep, improve heart health and enhance overall well-being.

    Gratitude also opens the door to abundance. When you’re grateful for what you do have, you attract more.

    Feel gratitude, and feel every aspect of your life change for the better.

    Egyptian_food_Koshary

    A Simple Food Blessing (Do This at Every Meal)

    1. Pause for a second and center yourself.

    2. Express and feel gratitude for the food in front of you.

    3. Thank everyone involved in the process of getting the food to you.
    It might look something like this: “Thank you to the Earth for growing this and all of the people that handled it. May it assimilate into my body with health, happiness and vitality.”

    4. Send energy to the food through your hands.
    Feel the tingle as energy flows from your hands into the food.

    5. Feel gratitude in your heart.

    6. Eat mindfully and enjoy the food.

    Commune with your food. Eating is both pleasurable and necessary. Be grateful for having food on your table, enjoy every bite and reap the benefits.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    Do You Even Feel, Bro?

    feelBRO

    Here’s your life…

    Think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think.

    All you do is think.

    You’re so caught up in your head that you’ve forgotten how to FEEL.

    “Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” – Qui-Gon Jinn (Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace)

    Feeling is understanding. Feeling is both your inner guidance system and the means by which life becomes fully, deeply and totally experienced.

    Pause for a second and allow your awareness to drop from your mind and into your body.

    How do you feel? (This isn’t some ambiguous, hippie question to have you hold hands and sing kumbaya. It’s both practical and unfathomably important.)

    Ask yourself these follow-up questions right now:

    What sensations are going on in my body?

    What emotions am I feeling?

    What feelings or emotions are accompanying my thoughts?

    Establish a habit of asking yourself these questions, every day, in different situations and build your “feeling awareness.”

    Can You Feel Me?

    Fully inhabiting my emotional state was always difficult for me to do. I was so conditioned to always use my mind, to be consumed in thoughts and to (over)think things through instead of feeling things out (especially as a man being born in the US). Western people, and particularly western men, are so dominated by the mind that feelings and intuition are suppressed to the point that many of us aren’t even aware of them.

    I would always understand things conceptually, but I never realized that most of the time, I wasn’t really FEELING the truth of the matter. To reiterate the point from before, feeling is true understanding. There’s an indescribable feeling you get when you deeply know something to be true.

    Gratitude is a great example of something I’m finally learning to feel. I always thought that being grateful was merely thinking about gratitude (all in my head). But I rarely actually FELT gratitude. Now, when I’m grateful, I not only think it (in my head) but I feel it like waves washing over me (usually in my chest/heart center). And sometimes the feeling is so intense that I feel like I AM GRATITUDE. It’s a different world than just thinking about gratitude. It’s magnificently real.

    Why is Feeling Even Important?

    I’m a man (in this lifetime at least), so I’ve often wondered about the usefulness of feeling. Something like “I thought that feeling was some overly-emotional, feminine, drama-queen shit. How would feeling benefit me anyway?” And you might be thinking something similar, especially if you’re the product of western (mind-dominant) culture. I’m not saying to be a drama queen or a slave to your emotions, but just to simply be aware of your feelings. Here’s why:

    Feeling is your inner guidance system – Your feelings and emotions are your compass, your inner guidance system. It is through the awareness of feelings that you tune into your intuition. This taps into the wisdom of the heart, which perceives from a much more expansive perspective than the mind. As you know, the mind can be deceptive. It’s so easy to trick yourself with the mind, or let self-doubt restrain you from your full potential. Go into your feelings and access the wisdom of the heart. It’s the only guidance you’ll ever need.

    Feeling allows you to fully experience life – What is a sunset without the feeling of peaceful bliss associated with it? What is sex if you’re in your head, not feeling the ecstasy flowing through your being? What is hitting the game winning shot if you don’t feel it? The shot is taken through instinct, not by thinking about it, and followed by a feeling of tremendous celebration. Life is an experience, and experiences are to be fully felt, not merely thought about.

    Feeling supercharges your manifestation abilities – Most people are familiar with the law of attraction. What you focus on is what you bring into your life. Your thoughts help create your experienced reality. But, here’s the thing, thoughts are only powerful attractors when combined with passionate emotion. It’s the emotion that makes your focus a strong magnetic pull.

    This was something I never fully grasped until very recently. I would merely think thoughts, or write them down, thinking that I was attracting the object of my thoughts. And guess what? My manifestations have always been slow going. In contrast, many women I’ve been around are very powerful manifestors. Why is this? Because every thought of theirs is blended with powerful and passionate emotion.

    This is why visualization is so powerful. Visualization is imagining something you desire like it’s already happening. You feel it and all of the emotions that come along with it. Successful athletes have famously applied the power of visualization to excel at their sport. It’s a secret weapon of elite athletes and it works astonishingly well.

    Here’s an action item (if you want to improve your feeling, visualization and manifestation abilities):
    Take 10-15 minutes each day and visualize yourself living the life you desire. Feel it like it’s already happening. Go through all the facets of life; your body, your relationships, your career, your life experiences…etc. Visualize and FEEL it, and you will be a powerful magnet for whatever you focus on.

    More Ways to Hone the Power of Feeling

    Cultivate body awareness – Practice bringing your awareness into your body. When you have a thought, go into your body and feel the feeling associated with it. When you feel an emotion, notice the corresponding feeling in your body.

    Yoga – Yoga is meditative movement, bringing you out of your head and into your body. The practice of yoga is one of the best ways to cultivate bodily awareness. You will naturally be able to intuitively feel things out more. In addition, many yogic poses are heart-opening, opening you up to the world of feelings/emotions (and positive ones at that).

    Do anything to get out of your head – Meditate, express yourself creatively, write in a journal, exercise, walk outside, go for a hike, watch the sunset…etc. Anything that helps you to get out of your head will allow you to become more aware of your emotional state.

    Drop into your heart-space – Practice bringing your awareness out of your head and into your heart-space (the heart chakra in the center of your chest). Allow your consciousness to reside there. I’ve been doing this a lot recently and it’s been profound. I’m more intuitive and a deep feeling of love pervades my being when I drop into my heart-space. For phenomenal resources regarding this topic, check out the HeartMath Institute.

    The mind is a phenomenal servant, but a terrible master. Let your heart be your guide, but don’t forget to take your mind along for the ride.

    So I’ll leave you with one question: Do you even feel, bro?


     

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    2

    5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game

    IMG_0644

    Pai, Thailand

    Here you are…

    You materialized in the third dimension, popped out of your momma and ended up a resident of planet Earth.

    So don’t you want to explore it? Don’t you want to see what it’s all about? Aren’t you curious?

    I know I am (to say the least). And deep down, beneath all of the fear, you too want to explore as much as you can before you’re gone.

    The concept of life being like a video game fascinates me. For many reasons, I think it’s such a profound (and accurate) comparison.

    Beyond the argument that so many signs are pointing to this universe being some sort of grand holographic simulation*, the principles of video games also apply to life in general. That’s the aspect which I want to focus on here.

    Read another post of mine about life being like a video game here: Life is a Video Game: The Challenge Perspective

    We only grow through overcoming obstacles. Everything is a learning experience. If life weren’t challenging, it wouldn’t be fulfilling, rewarding or fun. Think about it this way, would you play Super Mario if all you had to do was casually stroll to the right the whole time, meeting no obstacles? Of course not. That would get boring after two minutes. The same theme applies to life.

    Travel is an aspect of life where the video game comparison is unavoidable. Here’s why…

    5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game:

    1. You Expand Your “Mental Map”

    The mental map is a concept that my friend (shout out to Cole King) and I came up with while we were working as pizza delivery drivers in high school. We compared learning new streets to the maps found in many video games. You know how in video games the map starts as completely black, and as you explore it, it clears? (You can see a good example of it in this video.) Well, the same applies to your own mental map in life. Everything is just a mysterious abyss when it’s unknown. And you “clear out” and materialize that abyss by personally exploring it.

    It would be a damn shame to die with only a tiny speck of your mental map cleared out. There’s so much out there (and in there) to see and experience. Make your story exploratory!

    2. You Level Up Through New Experiences

    I love the concept of “leveling up.” When traveling, I find myself gaining new insight (like whoa), broadening my perspective and developing skills at a mindblowing rate. Improving at anything is leveling up, and travel is conducive to improvement in many facets of life.

    When traveling, you continuously expose yourself to new experiences. You’re perpetually launching yourself out of you comfort zone. You don’t learn or grow by going through the same monotonous routine all of your life. New experiences provide the fertile ground for you to grow, level up and evolve into the greatest version of yourself.

    3. You Meet New People (Allies)

    If you’ve done any traveling, you know that you meet so many awesome, interesting people. You learn from all of these people too. Everyone you meet is a teacher. People you meet are like allies you encounter in a video game.

    4. Each Place You Go to is a New Level

    Each and every place has its own unique culture, landscapes, architecture, quirks and personality. They are all different levels within the video game that is your life.

    5. You Must Defeat the Bosses

    In most video games, there are bosses to defeat at the end of each level. The “bosses” in life, however, are often intangible forces and/or fears to overcome. For example, You may have a fear of heights that you defeat by cliff jumping.

    “Bosses” that I’ve defeated on this trip:

    Travel anxiety – The fear of missing a flight, not finding a place to stay…etc. All of that fear based on projecting into the future. I’ve learned to do what I can, let go and be present instead of uselessly worrying about the future.

    Fear of rejection – This fear would come up when approaching women. But I’ve acted in spite of this fear so many times that it’s no longer is a big deal. And you know what? Every time I’ve said “fuck it” and approached someone I wanted to talk to, it turned out well (or it’s a funny story). I’ve even met some really, really amazing people doing this. Maybe I’ll elaborate on it more in another post.

    Striving syndrome – I’m hyper-critical of myself most of the time. I constantly put pressure on myself to keep improving, be a better person, learn more, write more and stay focused on goals. This is good when it comes to achievement, but it can rob you of the bliss of allowing yourself to just BE. There have been many moments where I had to stop and give myself permission to just BE; to simply enjoy the moment, with no goals and nothing to strive for. It’s difficult to balance being grateful for where you are right now and continuously improving. But I’m finding that balance. Due to my awareness of this tendency within myself, the “striving syndrome” now has less of a grip on me.

    Kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Where I’ve been to so far on this trip (aka the details of my mental map expansion):
    Marseilles, France
    Barcelona, Spain
    Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar Island, Zagreb
    India – Pune
    Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai
    Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur

    This trip feels like I’ve squeezed multiple lifetimes into this journey called “Stephen Parato.” I’m so grateful to be doing this and I want to inspire you to follow your heart as well.

    Have fun and keep leveling up.

    Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    – Stevie P!

    PS – For pictures and some short goofy videos of my travels, follow me on Instagram @steviepthatsme

    *Resources regarding our reality being a holographic simulation:
    Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation
    The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot

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    3

    Always Grateful, Never Complacent

    I said this phrase to myself in the shower the other day. Not sure why or how it popped into my head… But I like it.

    Did I just quote myself? ;)

    Did I just quote myself? Yup 😉

    Sounds like a good motto, slogan, or a tag line for a motivational Youtube video, right?

    Well, first thing’s first. What is gratitude?

    I’m glad you asked. Here’s the ol’ standard dictionary definition.

    Gratitude- The quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

    Gratitude is a deep appreciation. A conscious expression of Love. Gratitude opens up every aspect of our being to infinite possibility. If you’re not truly grateful for anything, you close yourself off; damming the river of life.

    And I don’t know what it is, but gratitude creates abundance. It really does. I’ve personally experienced this. When you’re grateful for something, you open yourself up to more. Maybe it’s the law of attraction. Maybe it’s the power of positivity. Maybe it’s a magical genie, secretly granting your wishes. Whatever the exact mechanism is, it works.

    Ok, now here’s the ol’ standard dictionary definition of complacency:

    Complacency- A feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.

    The key part, in my opinion is “…often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like…”

    Complacency is comfortable stagnation. It is trading growth, and everything new, for monotonous security. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Gratitude is an attitude. (Yeah I got rhymes)

    It is a state of being, not a goal. If you exist in gratitude, you carry it with you as you accomplish goals. It becomes a part of your being.

    Life is an ever-flowing stream. Apply gratitude to the flow of life.

    Gratitude is a raft, helping you stay afloat on the flow of life. Complacency is like a dock. Sure you may be floating (content), but you’re not going anywhere. So go with the flow (of life). And use the attitude of gratitude to love the journey.

    Why EVERYONE should be grateful:

    • If you’re reading this, you’re alive (hopefully). Be grateful for life. When you realize that life is a gift, gratitude is a part of your natural state. And to be blunt about it… If you’re not grateful for life, then what are you even doing here?
    • Someone has it worse than you. No matter your situation, there’s always someone out there who has it worse. There’s always someone who would do anything for your situation. So stop being negative and start being grateful. This too shall pass.

    Those are the two fundamentals of being grateful, applicable to everyone. The finer details of gratitude are all individualistic (ex/ meeting your girlfriend/boyfriend, finally leaving your stoop…etc)

    5 Ways to express gratitude (and open yourself up to abundance):

    1. Awareness. Just be consciously grateful. All it takes is simple acknowledgement. Awareness is powerful in and of itself.

    2. Write what you’re grateful for every day. Even if you only write one thing. The act of writing makes things realer, and helps bring your desires to fruition.

    3. Say thank you/ verbally express gratitude. Thank people when you appreciate what they do, compliment people, give em the metaphorical pat on the back, talk about things you’re grateful for…etc.

    4. Let your actions speak. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk as well. Grateful for your body? Treat it right. Grateful for your girlfriend/boyfriend? Show them Love. Appreciate your holographic Charizard Pokemon card? Frame that shit. Actions speak louder than words. Actions reveal where priorities lie.

    5. Give. Express through giving. Giving is a transfer of gratitude. It’s lighting other candles while still maintaining your own flame. It’s spreading Love, and opening yourself up for more Love. For more good things to come.

    6. Smile to yourself. Give yourself a lil Mona Lisa smirk when you think about things you’re grateful for. It’s fun. I do this all the time, especially when I think of something while in public.

    So it comes down to this… You can open up and high-five the Universe; or you can close yourself off and leave it hangin’.

    The choice is up to you.

    Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great, my friends.

    -Stevie P!

    Turn Negative Thought Patterns Into Positive Thought Patterns… Like Magic

    Yesterday I got to work absorbed in negative thought patterns for whatever reason. It happens. But within 20 minutes, my mind state did a complete 180. And I got more done in an hour than I did the entire day before.

    So, I know you’re on the edge of your seat asking yourself, what kind of crazy wizardry did he pull?

     All I did was write down (well, typed) everything I was am grateful for regarding my job.

    I listed everything from reasonable hours, to the people I work with, to financing my living in NYC. And once I finished writing down what I was am grateful for, my mood changed almost magically.

    Take one of these and call me in the morning

    Take one of these and call me in the morning

    I always thought that writing down things you’re grateful for was one of those “woo-woo”, new-age, floating on the ceiling-type things that people just talk about. But here’s the kicker, it actually works. 

    There’s something about writing things down that helps brings them to fruition. It makes thoughts more tangible. Like what everyone says about goals. You’re way more likely to achieve them when you write them down. And there’s something about being grateful (for what you already have) that naturally results in more positivity and abundance.

    So here’s the action item for this post:

    Try it for yourself.

    Next time you find yourself consumed with negative thought patterns, take a minute and write down what you’re grateful for. You’ll notice a positive shift immediately.

    Reclaim your awesome day.

    -Stevie P!