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Release Into Love

“Repression is the hidden force behind illness.”
– Dr. Arthur Janov

We all hold onto so much unwanted baggage. Most of us go through life brimming with repressed emotions, desperately attempting to keep the lid on it all.

Combine our spongelike subconsciousness (particularly in childhood) with a society heavily based in fear, sprinkled with social taboos regarding expression and you have a perfect recipe for the unhealthy repression of emotions.

Our essence is love. We just have so much fear, trauma and baggage piled on top of it. Anyone with a regular meditation practice knows this firsthand. When we clear all of our thoughts, fears and worries we’re left with an indescribable sense of blissful, peaceful love.

Cultivating our well-being is more about letting go of the unnecessary than about adding things. Once we give our body, mind and spirit some space, it all naturally harmonizes. It’s self-correcting, if we simply allow for it.

primal release

How Do We Let Go?

How do we release? It ranges from simple daily activities to extreme forms of therapy, and everything in between.

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”

– Gabrielle Roth

Do you laugh every day? Do you sing every day? Do you dance every day? Do you cry when you feel sadness or grief? Do you exercise? Do you get out in nature? Do you have any creative outlets? These are all simple things we can do on a daily basis to let go of pent up emotions and lighten our spirits. Most of us “mature adults” do almost none of these things, yet continue to accumulate emotional stress throughout our lives. So no wonder why our emotional stresses just keep stacking up.

While you can clear a whole lot of emotional baggage through the simple ways listed above, some things you’re repressing may be more stubborn and shadowy. For some of the most ingrained traumatic emotions, especially from childhood, you may have to engage in a more intensive release practice or seek the help of a professional.

Unwanted emotions are not only held mentally, but in the body as well. This is important to remember – the most effective forms of release include the body.

Let’s take frustration as a simple, day-to-day example. If you’re feeling frustrated, does it help to just mull over your frustrations in your head? Of course not. You only let go of frustration if you act it out physically, maybe through working out or screaming when you’re alone. And this is also where being mindful comes in, as healthy outlets are important. You don’t want to just be reactive and take out negative emotions on other people. While holding everything in is internally destructive, taking things out on others is externally destructive.

It’s of crucial importance to find healthy outlets for release, which is why I created Primal Release. Primal Release is an in depth course that provides you with all of the tools you need to release into love. It will literally shift your entire state of being. You won’t even believe how light and free you can feel.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW TO RELEASE

Develop a practice of release. Learn to let go of the things that don’t serve your highest good.

You don’t have to hold onto it all.

Release into love.

– Stevie P!
 

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The Simple Secret to a Fully Fulfilling Life

mindfulness

We’ve all had those truly special moments in life: being on top of a mountain looking out at an amazing landscape, at a party singing with a group of our best friends, a wedding day, getting off of the plane in a new country…etc.

Those are all beautiful moments in which we forget about our fears, leave our problems behind and bask in the blissful infinity of the present moment. We all chase this feeling throughout our lives. We fall into the trap of thinking “I’ll be so happy when [insert desire] happens.” Some of us even squander our present well-being for the mere potential of “that feeling” in the future.

What if I told you that this feeling is available to you in every moment?

I’m all for those cliché amazing moments listed above, but why can’t every moment be amazing in its own way?

Well, every moment is. Each moment is brimming with bliss, peace, joy, love and happiness. We just never stop to see it. The secret portal is right under our noses and it exists within one simple word: Mindfulness

Most people are so lost in thought that they hardly ever actually experience the present moment in its full brilliance.

When we live with mindfulness, even the simplest moments are infused with that feeling of blissful presence that most people only experience a handful of times in their lives. It’s like living life in high definition, a much richer experience than just going through the motions while neurotically thinking about everything other than what we’re doing right now.

Mindfulness is like a happy drug. It’s a happy drug that comes from within us, is inexhaustible, always available and has no adverse side effects. Who wouldn’t want that?

The great irony of humanity’s plight is that we search everywhere except for within ourselves for that sense of fulfillment. The truth is that what we’ve been searching for has been within us all along.

Happiness, joy, bliss, peace and love are not waiting at the end of some illusory rainbow. Those feelings we deeply crave don’t reside in the future when this or that will happen. They’re always with us in every moment, if only we’d pause, dip into the present moment and look within.

That feeling we’ve been searching for is right here, within us. It always has been. It always will be. All we have to do is be fully present.

mind full or mindful

6 Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness

1. Meditation – Engage in some kind of meditation practice on a daily basis. If you’re a beginner, try my Snooze Time Meditation. Meditation naturally begets mindfulness. The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless and well-documented, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to have some kind of regular meditation practice.

2. Practice Mindful Eating – When you eat, just eat. Don’t watch tv, don’t look at your phone, don’t walk, don’t drive. Just eat. Focus on the taste of the food, the subtle textures and smells. When you do this, you’ll enjoy food like you never have before.

Also, mindful eating builds awareness regarding what you eat, helps you listen to your body and helps in overcoming unhealthy eating habits. You can even create a practice of blessing your food before you eat to create more mindfulness around eating.

3. Try Phone Fasting – Smartphones can be weapons of mass distraction. Everyone knows that the constant notifications, social media scrolling and email checking makes focus almost impossible and sucks you right out of the present moment.

Here’s a solution: Make a practice of taking some time to not use your phone. I personally don’t look at my phone for an hour before I go to sleep and an hour after I wake up every day. At night, this creates time to unwind, undistracted. In the morning, this creates time for me to engage in a morning routine and start the day off peaceful and centered, instead of instantly leaping into the fray of distraction. Another strategy is to not use your phone for a day (you can take a day off once a month or even once a week). Both of these practices are surprisingly freeing and cultivate focus, empowerment and mindfulness.

Phone fasting creates a pattern interrupt. It allows you to become more aware of your phone usage and helps you transcend the habit of mindlessly looking at your phone.

4. Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Situations – Practice being completely present in conversations, while walking outside, while listening to music, while drinking coffee or during any other day-to-day activities. So many of us live life on auto-pilot. A bit of mindfulness makes life more vibrant and exciting, as if you were a kid again.

5. Practice the Five Sense Walking Meditation

6. Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Try out all of these and make mindfulness a part of your daily life. Like everything, mindfulness is a muscle. The more consistently you practice it, the stronger it becomes.

Meet each moment with blissful totality.

– Stevie P
 

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Are You A Negative Nancy? (Signs That You Are)

negative nancy

Note: This is a guest post by Matthew Snider.

We all know someone who is always the first to point out a flaw. They find the bad in a situation, or highlight an obstacle. These people tend to swim in the negative and have a propensity towards bringing others along with them. While no one really appreciates or thrives in this negative zone, these types are fairly common in today’s world.

Psychological studies suggest that people naturally react more strongly to negative experiences than positive ones. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “negativity bias” and dates back to the days of the cavemen. It is an evolutionary psychological concept and is very powerful in determining future behavior. Although negativity has a natural and instinctive way of pervading our thoughts and actions, if it becomes a habit it can really push people away.

Here are a few telltale signs you might be allowing negativity to dominate your mindset:

You Make Generalizations

One tendency of a Negative Nancy is to make broad generalizations in the negative. For example, if a letter you recently sent gets lost in the mail, you automatically assume the entire postal system is flawed. In another example, your assistant fails to copy you on an important email. Your response is to assume that all administrative assistants are incompetent. These mass generalizations can be very dangerous and even damaging to your psyche. If you find yourself starting to think in generalizations, take a moment to reflect on all of the scenarios in which these generalizations have been proven false. This will help you keep things in perspective and avoid some of those crazed thoughts.

You Assume Obstacles Are Long-Term

Assuming all obstacles are long-term setbacks is another sign you live in the negative. This chronic attitude tricks your brain into believing there are no alternative solutions to a problem and really hinders your ability to problem solve. For example, you present your budget for a new project and when the financing is not approved you automatically assume your idea is a lost cause. This hopeless thinking can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so be very aware of these defeating thoughts and begin to think in a solution-oriented way.

You Are Critical of Others

A negativity bias can make you hypersensitive to the faults of others. For example, your child might get four As and a C on his report card. But your mind jumps immediately to the C, which you offer a lengthy critique of, yet fail to comment on the positive marks. Additionally, you may attend the wedding of a close friend and instead of enjoying the evening of love and laughter, find yourself critiquing every part of the party. This attitude can be exhausting and can also push people away. No one wants to be in a situation where people constantly criticize them. Next time you find yourself nit-picking at a person or situation, try to sandwich your criticism in between two positive statements. This trick has a way of softening the blow and of making you think in a different way about your critique. It’s a win-win solution for everyone and will help you reverse some of your negative thoughts.

Your Close Circle Is Highly Negative

Highly negative people tend to flock together. They also tend to ostracize anyone who challenges their comfortable nit-picking habits with a dose of positive attitude. If you find that your work and social conversation is centered around negativity, complaining, and gossip, you are likely under the wrath of negativity bias. Additionally, if you and your posse find yourself bristling with irritation anytime someone tries to put a positive twist on a situation, you are swimming in the Negative Nancy circle.

If you identify with any of these common situations, you are most likely engaging in overly negative behavior. If you’re looking to reverse this trend, try one of these simple tactics. Your body, mind, friends, and family will all appreciate the positive change.

  • Write a daily list of things you’re grateful for
  • Name two positive qualities for every one piece of criticism you make
  • Practice gratitude – Say thank you at least two times per day
  • Smile and exude positive body language
  • Give a gift
  • Give a genuine compliment
  • Surround yourself with other positive-minded people (Remember, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with)
  •  
    About the Author
    Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets. Matt, with his one quarter Asian descent, did not start out as a writer, but he says, “the love for a subject is the most important aspect of writing. The readers want to read something written by someone who understands them.”

     

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    7 Simple Rules to Make Life Simple and Happy

    happiness

    Note: This is a guest post by Sophie Addison.

    You have that inner longing to be authentically happy, and if you could only get hold of a simple formula from any lifestyle news that would spell out the tips on how to be happy, you would surely gladly exchange everything you have to get hold of that simple formula. There are indeed some simple rules in life that—if you practice on a regular basis—would readily help you become a happy person. These simple rules are quite ordinary that you would never think that they actually hold the secrets to a happy life. Here are seven of these simple rules:

    1. “Consider every day as a gift.”
    You may find it not easy to develop this habit of treating each day of your life as a gift. Once you begin to see each day as a gift, you would soon become the happiest person in this world (Stevie P note: at least top 5 haha). The reason for this is that you would seldom find a person who is not thankful for a gift, and a gift always brings in a happy disposition to the recipient of the gift. Therefore, once you look at each day of your life as a gift, you will begin to be appreciative of your life. Your appreciation of each day will imbue all aspects of your life, and soon, you will radiate happiness from deep within you.

    2. “Accept the things that you can’t change.”
    Stephen Covey, the author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” once said that there are two circles of life—the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. The Circle of Influence includes the things that lie within your control such as yourself, your habits, your mind, and your behavior. The Circle of Concern, on the other hand, includes the things beyond your control such as the behavior of other people, politics, your boss, the world, and many other things. If you dwell on the things within your Circle of Concern, you will inevitable end up feeling depressed, bitter, and anxious, because you do not have control over them. If you dwell on your Circle of Influence, you will feel fulfilled and happy because you are in control of these things. Anxiety and depression usually set in when you dwell on things that you are out of control, and for this reason, the more you focus on the things within your control, the happier you will become. As for the things beyond your control, you simply have to accept them.

    3. “Choose to be happy.”
    Being happy is a decision to be happy and to let go of the things that burden your heart. You can only effectively decide on things and matters that lie within your control. Your behavior is always within your control, in the same way, that your mind is within your control. Hence, you can decide on how you are going to react to any situation; and you can either choose to react happily or sadly.

    4. “Start to live in the present.”
    Living in the present is also a great habit necessary to live a happy life. “Living in the present” means you are fully immersed in the present moment and enjoying it without cluttering your mind with future and past problems. Once you start living in the present, you begin to appreciate the simple things that life brings and become fully alive. If you cherish every moment, you would naturally find yourself sporting an optimistic and happy outlook on life.

    For more on this: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

    5. “Minimize your wants!”
    Happiness comes easily when you realize that the many desires and wants of your life are making you dissatisfied with life. Happiness is usually tantamount to being satisfied. Thus, if you develop the habit of minimizing your wants, you will unburden your heart and mind with unfulfilled wants and desires, and your outlook will eventually lighten up, and your mind will be free to appreciate the simple things in life that you have.

    For more on this: The Joy of Minimalism

    6. “Wish always the best for your beloved.”
    There is no greater joy in life than that of seeing the person you love so much achieve in life. Likewise, once you see that those you love are improving and succeeding in life, you will in turn feel light and satisfied. Real love is wishing the best for the beloved, so it’s a win-win to pray and wish that those who are dear to your heart are achieving, growing, and maturing along the way. The more you wish them happiness, the happier you will become.

    7. “Lastly, you should get in touch with your inner self.”
    Happiness comes from within; it can never be feigned nor faked. It is a satisfied state of mind wherein you feel at peace deep within. It is akin to the feeling of satisfaction after having eaten your favorite food. More importantly, you feel happy when there is no conflict deep within your mind and heart. Hence, for you to be truly happy, you need to resolve the inner rumblings deep within your heart; and there is no better way to do it than to engage in a relaxing meditation and self-awareness activity on a regular basis. Stay in contact with your inner self and you will surely find a center deep within that will serve as your source of happiness.

    About the Author
    Sophie Addison is a popular blogger and skincare expert. She is very passionate about writing on skincare and beauty. She has posted articles on tips for fine lines under eyes, weight loss and fitness news. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Pinterest.
     

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    The Purpose Formula

    gate

    What’s your purpose in life?

    Why are you here? What drives you? What keeps you going?

    Have you ever thought about it?

    Do you even know the direction you wish to head in?

    As humans, we need some sort of purpose in order to be truly happy and have a deep sense of fulfillment in life.

    Without a clear purpose, we find ourselves floundering, paralyzed by indecisiveness, drowning in existential dread and living out other people’s dreams instead of our own.

    Life is a journey and purpose gives us a direction to travel in. It provides a central theme to our journey.

    The journey of life is filled with mystery, unpredictability and spontaneous changes. So while it’s crucial to have purpose, it’s also important to surrender to the process.

    Your purpose isn’t fixed. It can change and evolve as you change and evolve. The only constant is change, so it’s a good idea to periodically reevaluate your purpose, especially when starting new chapters in life.

    Your purpose can be very simple as well. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose like being president or being a billionaire (those things don’t necessarily make life fulfilling anyway), it can be as simple as cultivating a beautiful garden or as familiar as being the best parent you can be.

    Here’s a hint regarding purpose: Your purpose is most likely going to involve helping others in some way. We’re social beings and giving just feels good. If you get really honest with yourself, you’ll realize that the things that give you the most fulfillment have something to do with giving, sharing and connection.

    For a clearer idea of your purpose (or purposes) in life, I highly recommend reading the following article and truthfully answering all of the questions: Reveal Your Life’s Purpose by Asking These 15 Questions.

    The Power of Purpose

    Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.
    – Viktor Frankl

     
    It’s incredibly important to find meaning in life, as a sense of purpose is an undercurrent to genuine happiness and fulfillment. Research in positive psychology shows that people who feel a sense of purpose (or meaningfulness) have less physical pain, less anxiety, less stress, less depression and have reduced tendencies toward substance abuse. It’s no coincidence that one of the major commonalities of centenarians (people who live over 100 years) is a sense of purpose. With centenarians, purpose is often tied to religious faith, but it doesn’t have to be. Anyone can find purpose no matter what their beliefs are.

    Purpose is like a magic wand. If you feel stuck in any area of life, wave your magic wand of purpose. If you feel depressed, reevaluate and reestablish your purpose with conviction. If you feel anxious, shift your thinking towards your purpose. And really feel it too. Feel that sense of purpose in the depths of your nervous system, igniting your body, mind and spirit. By focusing on your purpose, you naturally shed everything that’s not in alignment with it.

    Find a real purpose that’s going to give you the strength to keep it going, no matter what the fuck you go through; no matter what obstacle presents itself.
    – Crooked I

     
    When in doubt, focus on your purpose. It works.

    Mark Twain why you were born

    The Purpose Formula

    I came up with this technique, which I call “The Purpose Formula.” It is designed to give you a clear sense of purpose and how to move in that direction on a daily basis. Here’s what to do…

    The Steps
    1. Write down your personal mission statement for your life (in one sentence). This is your big picture purpose to always keep in mind.
    2. Choose 6-10 major categories in life (see my example below).
    3. Write your purpose for each category (there can be more than one per category).
    4. Next to each purpose, write down a habit, routine or tangible things you can do every day (or every week) to move in that direction.
    5. Do it! Implement the habits you’ve outlined, focusing on your most important one first.

    My Purpose Formula

    (Note: I wrote this first, which actually led me to develop The Purpose Formula, so I’m sharing the prelude which created the catharsis for me as well)

    Now, since I’m beginning a new chapter of my book, I want to set clear intentions. I want to set a clear direction to head in, to use the metaphor of a road trip.

    I need a big picture purpose, but also something that translates into tangible daily actions.

    Personal Mission Statement:
    Continuously expand my perspective and inspire the hearts of others.

    Health:

    • Eat natural, local food – Go to Farmer’s markets at least once per week.
    • Balance alcohol consumption – Limit 2 drinks (good craft beers of course) per night out then switch to water or club soda.

    Fitness:

    • Get even leaner and stronger – HIIT every morning, walk a lot, bodyweight workouts 5x per week (improving each workout).
    • Become more flexible – Stretch every morning, yoga at least 2x per week.

    Spiritual Progression:

    • Meditate more – Meditate every morning upon waking and afternoon/night as well.

    Writing:

    • Continuously improve and express myself through writing – One blog post per week, work towards the completion of a book every day.

    Career:

    • Writing – Continuous improvement, expressing potent truths, inspiring and entertaining (daily practices outlined in Writing section).
    • Inspire more people – Through writing, making videos (every day), creating more courses and just living my truth in daily life.
    • Expand my healing abilities – Meditate more, promote my online coaching and Reiki practice. Spark that brilliance within people in a one on one setting
    • Other – Getting involved in other projects that resonate with me to earn more money, learn new skills and broaden my life experience (ex/ freelance writing opportunities).

    Relationships:

    • Attract a beautiful partner to learn and grow with – Embody the qualities of a person I wish to attract, do things I love and don’t hesitate to say hi or reach out to people.
    • Attract or find a tribe and deep relationships – See above.
    • Deepen my connection with friends and family – Speak my inner truth. Embrace human connection. Reach out to people. Genuinely be interested in them. Be there to help. Show gratitude. Never hold back genuine compliments.

    Travel:

    • See more of the world – Visit places that are calling me. Plan an interesting trip within the next 6 months.

    Nature:

    • Hike more – Hike a mountain or trail at least once per week.
    • Connect with nature – Visit a cool natural place at least twice per week (park, body of water, hiking, ocean…etc.).

    Knowledge:

    • Read more books – PhotoRead at least one book per week. Read every night too.

    A Note on Habits

    Attempting to establish multiple new habits at once will just overwhelm you. So if you outline your Purpose Formula and see that you have several new habits which you want to implement, focus on one habit at a time.

    Also, make sure that the habits you outline are as simple and easy as possible. If habits are not simple and easy (especially at first), they can become intimidating and you probably won’t stick to it.

    Set one habit in one area of life as your priority and focus on creating that habit first. Once it becomes embedded and is second nature to you, then move on to implementing a new habit. Habits take 66 days to become automatic, so implement a habit for at least 66 days before starting a new habit. Remember, your purpose is the epitome of a long-term endeavor, so there’s no need to rush.

    Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
    – Bill Gates

     
    Know where you’re headed and embrace the journey.

    Now I’ll leave you with the obvious question: What’s your purpose?

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

    classical music notes written

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

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

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

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

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

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

    10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

    1. Increases Physical Performance

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

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

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

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

    2. Increases Sleep Quality

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

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

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

    3. Eases Chronic Pain

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

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

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

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

    4. Improves Mood and Fights Depression

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

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

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

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

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

    5. Lowers Stress Levels

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

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

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

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

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

    6. Boosts Brain Function

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

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

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

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

    7. Sharpens Memory

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

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

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

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

    8. Decreases Blood Pressure

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

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

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

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

    9. Enhances Creativity

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

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

    10. Improves Productivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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

     

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


     

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    The Fine Balance of Bodyweight and Happiness

    Fitness Model

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What Happiness Isn’t: The Fitness Fanatic

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Is that your idea of a happy, fulfilling life?

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

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

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

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

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

    overweight

    What is “Overweight” Anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Fine Balance

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

    It’s a balance…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Social Media = A Highlight Reel

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

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

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

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

    fake mustache

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

    Being the Greatest Version of Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

    One love.

    – Stevie P!

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


     

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    Why Learning is like Jet Fuel for Happiness

    Teahupoo1

    I found myself wading into the alluring blue-green Caribbean Sea, with my right hand on a surfboard and my eyes fixated on an immense wave approaching. I’ll admit, it was a bit intimidating: an ominous undulation, already taller than me, quickly rising out of the infinity of liquid power. But the fear within, which had risen along with the wave itself, was immediately transmuted into childlike excitement as I snapped into action, spinning the surfboard around and hopping on, belly first.

    Exuding exuberance, I glanced over my right shoulder to see the wave swiftly advancing toward me. My warrior ethos kicked in and I paddled with powerful, staunch strokes, building just enough momentum right as the wave tasted my heels. The wall of water surged upon me, thrusting me into a realm of slowed time and total focus. The board was no longer a lifeless object, but a kindred spirit, conspiring to maximize my moment. It was a beautiful communion between beings, conceived through coalescence and driven by synergy.

    With a blast of pizzazz, I popped up onto my feet, landing in the classic surfer stance (totally, dude). What a feeling! The inner child within me was jumping for joy as I cruised towards the shore with a beaming smile on my face.

    That was the conclusion of my very first surfing lesson. It was a true climax of bliss, fueled by the magical phenomenon of… LEARNING.

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    Learning is an integral element of the human experience.

    We came into this life to learn and grow. And without learning, no growth is possible.

    All inhibitors of learning and growth (stagnation, monotony, boredom, fear, comfort zones…etc) drain the joy out of life and deaden the spirit. On the other hand, learning, growth, progress and perpetual new experiences infuse life with a euphoric vivacity. This feeling of elation is a tell-tale sign that you’re in alignment with your inner truth.

    “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

    Life’s tendency is toward progression. Life is defined by growth. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

    Learning is a precursor to growth and an undeniable catalyst of happiness.

    The act of learning doesn’t have to be strictly intellectual either. If it’s something physical, like surfing, your mind and body work together in the learning process. This weaves threads of cooperative harmony through all levels of being.

    It is undeniable that learning is crucial to the human experience. Learn to love learning and your life has no choice but to change for the better.

    Think about how good improvement feels. Think about how good personal evolution feels. That feeling is the child of learning and growth.

    Be Willing, Eager and Open to Learning

    Willingness to learn is as equally important as the learning process itself. If you’re open and eager enough, you will learn anything you wish to.

    Three Manifestations of Willingness that Will Greatly Accelerate Your Life Learning Process

    1. Embrace curiosity – Einstein put it perfectly when he said, ““I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
    2. Listen – Listen to what other people have to say, instead of talking all of the time. Listen intently, listen with curiosity and listen with an open mind.
    3. Ask questions – Question everything and entertain any idea.

    Be willing, eager and open to learning and the doors of understanding will eagerly open to you.

    There are, of course, ways to refine and streamline the learning process as well.

    An effective model for rapid learning is Tim Ferriss’ D.S.S.S. strategy from his book The Four Hour Chef. The acronym D.S.S.S. stands for Deconstruct, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes.

    Deconstruct
    “What are the minimum learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?

    Selection
    “Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?

    Sequencing
    “In what order should I learn the blocks?”

    Stakes
    “How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?”

    Read more about Tim Ferriss’ D.S.S.S. strategy here.

    Another Useful Tip for Learning

    The human attention span is not very long, so learning in short stints (30-60 minutes at a time, with short breaks in between) is a great way to leverage this. The percentage of information you’re able to retain drops in the middle of any learning session. This is why most people only remember the beginning and end of a long, study marathon. So instead of trudging through things for hours, engaging in short sessions with breaks allows you to function at maximum capacity and actually get more done. Plus, it just feels better (which is a subtle hint itself).

    This is why many schools found it more effective to have 50-minute classes, because after that point, kids stop paying attention.

    I personally thrive off of getting things done in 20-30 minute chunks, followed by breaks. This is a great strategy for learning, writing and really accomplishing anything.

    Tim Ferriss (again) beautifully charts this phenomenon in The Four Hour Chef:

    4HC

    Why Surfing is the Perfect Medium for Learning

    Surfing is both physical and mental – Surfing simultaneously engages the body and mind, and is healthy for both. You use both simultaneously, which creates harmony between the two. Plus, it’s a form of exercise (which, as everyone knows, has a ton of benefits itself).

    Nature therapy – You’re outside and connected with nature while you’re learning. You get your feet in the sand (grounding/Earthing), the sun on your face (Vitamin D), the breeze in your hair and you’re in the water (which comes with benefits too). It’s a beautiful, healthy combination of learning and the four earthly elements.

    Surfing engages the warrior ethos in a healthy manner – It’s a positive outlet for your warrior spirit. Surfing is both a physical battle and a cooperation between you and the ocean. For those like myself who have a deep connection with the warrior archetype, positive expressions of it are necessary for your well-being. For too long, the warrior ethos of humanity has been relegated to war and other forms of senseless violence. Learning to surf is also learning to bring out your warrior ethos in a healthy way.

    As you can tell, I love learning. And learning how to surf was a tremendous experience for me.

    Keep learning. Keep growing. Find happiness along the journey of continuous expansion.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    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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    Should We Always Be Happy?

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    People have asked me this question many times…

    Should we always be happy?

    The short answer…

    Of course not.

    The long answer…

    We all just want to be happy, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Something is cherished only when you know its opposite.

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

    Everything is a Learning Experience

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

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

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

    Working Out: A Microcosm of Life

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

    Success and Failure

    Highly successful people persevere through struggle and hardships.

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

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

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

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

    Video Games, Novels, Movies and Stories

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

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

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

    My Personal Perspective

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

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

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

    The Takeaway

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

    Life is a video game.

    Have fun.

    – Stevie P!
     

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