How Stories Shape Our Culture

story book

What stories shape your life?

Take a moment to think about that.

We all live based upon stories. Collective stories are the basis of culture and personal stories are the basis of how we view ourselves as individuals.

Stories are the underpinnings of human reality. Humanity is built upon stories. Stories shape our culture, our lives and the way we perceive the world.

It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false, if a story is believed, it becomes a blueprint of reality.

Cultural Stories

Every culture has stories that act as the very basis for how people live their lives.

In ancient times, mythology shaped the way people viewed reality, the world around them, society and themselves.

Any religious culture is dominated by the stories of that religion. People’s whole lives, down to the finest detail, are dictated by those stories.

Our modern western culture is based on a combination of science, religion and history (his-story). Science is constantly updated, disproving older theories, while failing to explain the “why” questions of our reality. Most organized religions are distortions of spiritual truths for purposes of control. And his-story is merely the story told by the winners of wars.

These cultural belief systems are attempts at explaining truth, at best. And at their worst, they’re attempts at control and manipulation. I’m not saying that all of these are false; I’m saying that regardless of being true or false, these stories shape our experience of reality and every aspect of how we live our lives.

Let’s take the scientific paradigm as an example. According to this story (again, I’m not saying it’s necessarily true or false):

  • We are our bodies, or more specifically our brains.
  • We live on Planet Earth, which revolves around the sun, in an incomprehensibly large universe.
  • This universe started with the Big Bang (the Big Bang THEORY).
  • On Earth, we evolved from apes, growing smarter and more and more sophisticated, until we’ve dominated nature and now live in the wonderful culmination of all of that evolution and “progress.”
  • You see, this is a STORY, or the background program that we run our lives by. And that’s not even getting into the stories of history, money, work, relationships, purpose, pleasure and everything else that makes up our belief systems. These things determine how we perceive and interact with reality.

    Where does this story get us? Well, take a look at the world around you. Check out the “news.” If it seems a little disharmonious (which anyone with eyes can see), we have to start reevaluating the stories we’re living by.

    grand central station

    Your Story

    What stories are you telling yourself? What is your identity based on? What labels do you identify with?

    In the midst of the trend of collective stories, we have the personal stories we tell ourselves. These are our individual stories that shape the way we view and interact with the world.

    Let’s use a man named Henry as an example, whose personal story might look like this:
    I’m Henry.
    I’m a white man.
    I’m an American.
    I’m a Christian.
    I’m not good at math (because my third grade teacher told me that and I’ve believed her ever since).
    I’m good at fixing things (because my dad said I was when I fixed his truck).
    I’m an introvert so I don’t have many friends.
    My favorite color is blue.
    My favorite food is steak.
    I’m a car mechanic, so I’m not good with computers.
    I’m a lower middle class guy.
    I go to work every day, then come home, drink a beer and turn on the tv to relax at night.
    I don’t have time to eat healthy or work out.
    I’m a fan of the Tennessee Titans.
    I wear boots and flannels because I’m manly.

    Ok, you get the point. This is all a STORY. Almost all of those things could be dropped and changed instantaneously. Our friend Henry could literally have a completely new life tomorrow, if he chose to.

    Programming and patterns are incredibly hard to break for us humans. But simple awareness of the stories we tell ourselves puts us in the position to consciously choose what our stories are.

    So what stories are you telling yourself? What identities are you carrying with you day in and day out? What patterns do you have? What are you building momentum towards?

    Gain some awareness of the stories you’re telling yourself. Only then can you choose to change your life for the better.

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    Creating New Stories

    We can create new stories in each moment.

    It is a choice. But you have to first be aware to even know that you have a choice.

    We can tell new tales and shape reality in our own way.

    What do you want out of life? What is your purpose? What’s on your bucket list? Who do you want to be?

    Be open and willing to change.

    Find your vision and start working towards that. Only tell yourself stories which help to create that vision of yourself.

    The Power of Fiction

    The importance of stories is why I love fiction so much. Whether reading or writing, fiction helps to reshape our world.

    Truths which exist beyond the limits of our collective analytical mind are able to be conveyed through fiction, metaphor and myth. Paradigm-shifting truths are often expressed in this way. Just take a look at any sacred text or brilliant piece of poetry.

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

    This is why I read and write a lot of fiction. If we change the stories we tell, we change how our world is shaped.

    Want to get your hands on an example of a paradigm-shifting story?

    I just published a new book, Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth.

    It’s a story written from the perspective of a dog, told in a journal-like format.

    And the twist is that dogs aren’t just dogs. They’re actually multi-dimensional superbeings checking out Earth and humanity.

    This story will stretch your mind, provide you with insights, entertain you, make you laugh and a lot more. It’s available for both paperback and Kindle.

    Get your paws on it here: Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth

    Let’s reshape our world.

    – Stevie P

    A Journey Through Existential Crisis

    cave

    Act I: You

    You’re different.

    You feel like you don’t truly belong anywhere.

    There are things you feel and experience that are unexplainable. And most people wouldn’t even be able to grasp it if you told them.

    Most aspects of society are disillusioning to you. Many facets of physical reality are limiting to you, but you’ve tasted both the infinite bliss of the present moment and the fearless abyss that exists beyond. You know your own power, you feel your deepest truth and that’s what gives you the strength to keep going.

    You’re a tightrope walker, walking between worlds. Sometimes you fall into one or the other, sometimes you jump into one or the other, sometimes you dance along the tightrope and sometimes you find yourself paralyzed, looking down from unfathomable heights with existential dread. Whatever it is, it is. Let it happen. It’s just a circus act.

    You’re a pioneer, exploring uncharted territory. You brush up against the walls of mystery only to realize that they’re just thin veils.

    You see through the illusions. Your vision pierces through the darkest night.

    You paint the unseen with colors imperceptible to the human eye.

    You’ve awakened from the slumber of a fake, gift box reality and burst into the infinite swirling layers of existence.

    You throw yourself into the ocean of the unknown. And as scared as you are, you understand that you’re really a drop in that ocean; an intrinsic part, a microcosm of the whole.

    You’re not content on the surface. You dive deep, just to see how far you can go. Because, to you, the thought of leaving so much unexplored is far worse than drowning in the depths.

    This is the path of the seeker and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

    You’re different, you’re unique, but you’re not alone.

    Act II: Me

    I’m different.

    I feel like I don’t truly belong anywhere.

    There are things I feel and experience that are unexplainable. And most people wouldn’t even be able to grasp it if I told them.

    Most aspects of society are disillusioning to me. Many facets of physical reality are limiting to me, but I’ve tasted both the infinite bliss of the present moment and the fearless abyss that exists beyond. I know my own power, I feel my deepest truth and that’s what gives me the strength to keep going.

    I’m a tightrope walker, walking between worlds. Sometimes I fall into one or the other, sometimes I jump into one or the other, sometimes I dance along the tightrope and sometimes I find myself paralyzed, looking down from unfathomable heights with existential dread. Whatever it is, it is. Let it happen. It’s just a circus act.

    I’m a pioneer, exploring uncharted territory. I brush up against the walls of mystery only to realize that they’re just thin veils.

    I see through the illusions. My vision pierces through the darkest night.

    I paint the unseen with colors imperceptible to the human eye.

    I’ve awakened from the slumber of a fake, gift box reality and burst into the infinite swirling layers of existence.

    I throw myself into the ocean of the unknown. And as scared as I am, I understand that I’m really a drop in that ocean; an intrinsic part, a microcosm of the whole.

    I’m not content on the surface. I dive deep, just to see how far I can go. Because, to me, the thought of leaving so much unexplored is far worse than drowning in the depths.

    This is the path of the seeker and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I’m different, I’m unique, but I’m not alone.

    Act III: We

    We’re different.

    We feel like we don’t truly belong anywhere.

    There are things we feel and experience that are unexplainable. And most people wouldn’t even be able to grasp it if we told them.

    Most aspects of society are disillusioning to us. Many facets of physical reality are limiting to us, but we’ve tasted both the infinite bliss of the present moment and the fearless abyss that exists beyond. We know our own power, we feel our deepest truth and that’s what gives us the strength to keep going.

    We’re tightrope walkers, walking between worlds. Sometimes we fall into one or the other, sometimes we jump into one or the other, sometimes we dance along the tightrope and sometimes we find ourselves paralyzed, looking down from unfathomable heights with existential dread. Whatever it is, it is. Let it happen. It’s just a circus act.

    We’re pioneers, exploring uncharted territory. We brush up against the walls of mystery only to realize that they’re just thin veils.

    We see through the illusions. Our vision pierces through the darkest night.

    We paint the unseen with colors imperceptible to the human eye.

    We’ve awakened from the slumber of a fake, gift box reality and burst into the infinite swirling layers of existence.

    We throw ourselves into the ocean of the unknown. And as scared as we are, we understand that we’re really a drop in that ocean; an intrinsic part, a microcosm of the whole.

    We’re not content on the surface. We dive deep, just to see how far we can go. Because, to us, the thought of leaving so much unexplored is far worse than drowning in the depths.

    This is the path of the seeker and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    We’re different, we’re unique, but we’re not alone.
     

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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.


     

    Language is the Envelope of Your Reality

    child bubble universe reality

    How are you going to really wrap your head around something that you can’t put into words?

    Well, you inherently can’t.

    Those mysterious inklings that you subtly feel, but can’t quite express, are vague phantasms floating right outside of your realm of possibility.

    The envelope of your reality, the outer bubble of your realm of possibility, is limited by the lexicon and lineaments of language you have in your inner library.

    Along with being the raw material for formulating thought, language is also a vehicle for your intentions. With a wider variety of vocabulary and languages at your disposal, there is larger conglomeration of vehicles available to carry your intentions. If you have an extensive vocabulary, multiple languages in your mental rolodex, or use a language which is phonetically and/or alphabetically expansive, you can more readily transmit specifically desired intentions.

    Symbols are also language, with the vehicle of communication being the symbols themselves instead of words. Remember, reality is much more malleable than we’ve been taught. In this co-created reality, we’re simultaneously decoding it and projecting into it with our intentions at all times. The words and symbols we use are the mediums through which our intentions are expressed.

    Alphabet and Vocabulary

    The alphabet is the foundation of vocabulary, as letters make up words. (Although in some languages, the symbols are actually words instead of letters.)

    The bigger the alphabet of a language, the greater the potential realm of possibility, as there are more building blocks to work with (though there are other factors, like phonetics, that can determine the actual “reality reach” of the language). The English alphabet consists of 26 letters. To give you an idea of how English compares to other languages: Sanskrit has 46 letters in its alphabet, Arabic has 28 letters in its alphabet, Hebrew has 22 letters in its alphabet, Greek has 26 letters in its alphabet and Russian has 33 letters in its alphabet.

    Vocabulary is a crucial aspect of language because words are arrows of intention crafted to match objects, qualities, abstract concepts, emotions, feelings…etc. Words are like sign posts to describe the things you perceive, imagine or experience. The more adept with sign posts you are, the more accurately you can navigate and describe reality.

    Here’s a good example of perception-expanding vocabulary. The word “vibe” didn’t exist in the English language before the hippie movement. The word “vibration” existed, but it’s more general and doesn’t specifically describe the phenomenon of feeling people’s energy. People of course would feel the “vibe” of others before, but it was a mysterious phenomenon outside of the realm of Western possibility beforehand. But after there was a word to describe that specific feeling, it was in the collective realm of possibility and could be readily expressed between people. It’s like the use of that word became a gateway, which opened up that new dimension of possibility to people.

    Another example, one that English hasn’t found a perfect match for, is the Sanskrit word “maya.” When translated into English, the connotation is something like “a magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem.” It’s often used to describe this physical, three-dimensional reality we’re in. For someone who is fluent in Sanskrit, that one word is all they need to conceptualize the meaning. But for an English speaker, you would need to watch the movie The Matrix and study quantum physics to even glimpse the tip of the iceberg.

    Phonetics

    Phonetics is defined as “a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign.” (Wikipedia)

    Phonetics is another aspect of a languages realm of possibility, just in terms of sounds. Sounds are vibrations or frequency waves. And remember what Nikola Tesla said, “If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

    The range of sounds you can make is another parameter influencing your range of possibility.

    Different sounds stimulate different parts of the body, which can activate or heal when used with positive intentionality. Chanting demonstrates this. If you’ve ever done a form of chanting, you know that there is an experience or tangible feeling associated with it (and it differs depending on the chant).

    Spelling = Casting Spells

    The word “spell” is an intriguing hint at the power of language. The word can be used in terms of “spelling words” or in terms of “casting spells.” But essentially, both meanings are one in the same. We literally cast spells with words. Our intentions, through the vehicle of language, are projections into the quantum soup of reality.

    It’s no coincidence that the first of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements is to be impeccable with your word.

    Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
    ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

     
    Language is the array of tools you have to build the house of your reality. Think of using words like wielding a hammer, are you using it to build something beautiful or hitting yourself over the head with it?

    word cloud

    The Ultimate Paradox

    Beyond all bubbles and boundaries of perceived reality, the totality of existence is stillness. So although expanding your language capacity undoubtedly broadens the horizons of your human experience, the essence of everything is the divine tranquility of all possibility.

    It is infinite potential, that which everything comes out of, the omnipotent silence which begets all sound.

    These quotes are beautiful hints at this paradoxical truth…

    Be still, and know that I am God.
    ~ Psalm 46:10

     

    The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be defined in words is not the name that never changes.
    Non-existence is what we call the source of heaven and earth.
    Existence is the mother of all things.
    From eternal non-existence, therefore, we observe the beginning of the existence of the many hidden qualities of the universe.
    From eternal existence, therefore, we clearly observe the overt qualities of the universe.
    These two, the hidden and the overt, are originally the same at source, and become different where they manifest themselves.

    ~ Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Translated by Chou-Wing Chohan, Abe Bellenteen and Rosemary Brant)

     
    How to Expand Your Envelope of Reality

    Read more – especially books that come from a different paradigm from which you’re in. For example, if you grew up in the US, read the Tao Te Ching, which provides great wisdom through ancient Eastern philosophy.

    Increase your vocabulary – Reading more will naturally increase your vocabulary. While reading, look up words you come across that you’re not familiar with.

    Like Uncle Bun once said, “Go read a book you illiterate son of a bitch and step up your vocab.”

    Here’s another technique that has helped expand my vocabulary: Whenever you’re writing, use Thesaurus.com to incorporate the most fitting and flowing words in every sentence. In doing this, you can and learn new vocabulary while doing any kind of writing.

    Learn more languages – Learning another language will greatly expand your perceptions. It will literally open up a new world of possibility for you. Use something like Rosetta Stone, the Pimsleur learning system or take the plunge and learn by immersing yourself in a new culture and actually speaking another language (which is the best way).

    Be mindful of the words you use – Be mindful of the “spells” you’re casting. Is your internal dialogue negative and/or limiting? Is your external dialogue negative and/or limiting? If so, your experienced reality will be a reflection of that. Be aware of the language you’re using. From this place of awareness, use language that serves your highest good (and the highest good of others as well). As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

    Engage in reality expanding experiences – Partake in travel, meditation, plant medicine (in clinical or sacred settings), listen to lyricless music and get in tune with what you feel…etc. Put yourself in situations that leave you awe-struck and at a loss for words. When you’re in a state of awe or when you have your mind blown, you’re experiencing something that is shattering your previous boundary of reality. This sets the space for you to enter new territory.

    Reality is strange, huh?

    Cast “spells” that serve the highest good of yourself and others, and have fun expanding your possibilities.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

     

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


     

    What are You Hiding From Yourself? 14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

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    I thought I had it all figured out a few months ago…

    My ego loved the (false) sense of elitism that came from the (small) amount of wisdom I had accumulated and the personal growth I had achieved.

    This sense of egoic comfort allowed my blind spots to subtly suffocate my growth and choke out my compassion towards others. As Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars would say, “It’s a trap!”

    Luckily, I realized that my ego had snuck in through the back door. Deep down I knew that, in the grand scheme of things, I had next to nothing figured out, so I decided to shake things up a bit. In a hopscotch of faith, I leapt into innumerable experiences that shattered any sense of “having life figured out” and launched me to unforeseen levels of self-discovery and growth.

    These experiences included 5 months of (mostly solo) world travel through 10 countries, meeting hundreds of amazing people, journaling every single day of my travels, having cathartic experiences at the Osho center, attending a few yoga retreats and workshops, getting certified in kinesiology, learning Siddha healing, practicing many different meditation techniques, jumping into new relationships, communing with Ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon, struggling to communicate with my weak Spanish speaking skills, hiking Machu Picchu in pouring rain, learning how to surf, going to the Envision Festival alone and embarking on countless other adventures that catapulted me out of my comfort zone. All of this intensely illuminated so many of my blind spots, quantum-jumped my knowledge of self and spurred so much improvement that I still haven’t assimilated it all. And I’m still riding this momentum.

    “We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” ~ John Wheeler

    The more you know
    The more you realize you don’t know
    And you don’t know
    What it is that you don’t know
    Until it’s known
    But you do know
    That you don’t know everything
    So rest in the fact that there’s always more to know

    We all have blind spots, forces that we’re completely unaware of that may be holding us back.

    The human mind, though it’s an immensely powerful tool, is littered with self-deception and cognitive biases. It’s so easy to trick ourselves, and over time, deepen the groove of a skewed view of reality.

    That’s why one of the most important things you can do is take an objective look at yourself and reveal your blind spots.

    What if your comfort zones are actually false fortresses of security that are doing you far more harm than good? What if everything you’ve been basing your reality on was a lie? What if every aspect of your life is really based on false assumptions, feebly held together by other false assumptions to rationalize the former false assumptions?

    We’ve all seen the extremes of self-denial and glaring personal blind spots… The religious zealot who ignores overwhelming evidence contrary to her rigid, literal interpretation of the bible and believes ridiculous things like the idea of Jesus riding dinosaurs. The corporate guy, whose identity is so wrapped up in materialism, that he goes to great lengths (buying fancy clothes, watches and cars, having beautiful girlfriends just to impress others, exorbitant vacations to show off…etc.) in order to fill that feeling of emptiness inside. The high school friend, who has hesitantly convinced himself that he’s happy still living in the same hometown, working the same job and going to the same bar every Friday night. These epitomic cases may seem sad and even pathetic to us, but we’re all guilty of self-denial to some extent.

    In order to become the greatest version of yourself and make the most out of life, you need to be able to observe yourself from an objective perspective. You need to call yourself out on your own bullshit. Everything from your most fundamental beliefs, how you view reality, your sense of what is possible, your identity, your habits, your patterns, your limiting beliefs, your assumptions, your false confidence, your fears, your egoic desires, your intuition, your intrinsic motivations, your reactions to external stimuli, your view of others, your freedom (or lack thereof), how you move your body, your choice of music, your choice of entertainment, your sources of information, your biases, your community, your inhibitions, your different personalities among different people, your dietary habits, your addictions, your vulnerabilities, your childhood pain that you’re still carrying, your biggest fear for the future, your self-judgments , your comfort zones, the excuses you make to yourself, the labels you mindlessly slap on things, the little lies you tell yourself, the secrets you’re hiding in the depths of your psyche, the truths you’re afraid of being true, the reason why you were born…etc.

    As you can see, there are a lot of potential blind spots out there (or in there). Here’s how to develop a perspective of increased self-awareness, put yourself in a position of continuous personal evolution and be genuinely YOU-nique.

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    14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

    1. Meditation

    Meditation cultivates a state in which you can objectively observe your thoughts and emotions. We often go through life completely consumed by our thoughts and emotions, not being able to witness them. This is why meditation is so crucial. With practice, you will create awareness regarding your emotions, thoughts, habits and patterns.

    This state of awareness makes change possible. If you go through life oblivious to your patterns, because you’re too engrossed in them to know what’s going on, you’ll never be in a position to make a change. As the old proverb goes, “The fish would be the last to discover water because they’re immersed in it.” Meditation can take you out of the metaphorical water of your assumed reality and help you realize “Wow, I was really IN THERE this whole time?”

    If you’re new to meditation, try starting out with my 21 Breath Salute. It’s so easy and takes less than 5 minutes to do.

    2. Intimate Relationships

    Intimate relationships are the most powerful tools for showing you your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

    Your partner is like a mirror of your own internal state. Your fears, limiting beliefs, doubts, delusions and repressed emotions are reflected in intimate relationships.

    One example of this is getting angry at your partner for forgetting something. Chances are that you get angry at yourself for forgetting things, and because this person is so close to you, you do to them whatever you do to yourself. So get to the bottom of why you get angry at yourself for something so asinine. Did your parents do it to you? Do you put pressure on yourself to never make mistakes? (And where does that belief come from?) Share this revelatory process with your partner as you go through it. You’re on the same team, right?

    Here’s another example. If you have a fear of abandonment from, let’s say, your father leaving you as a child, you will find yourself desperately clinging to relationships, even when it’s obvious that it’s not to your benefit. But you have to have some degree of self-awareness to be able to see this play out in your life (as well as a self-aware partner who can help you to realize these things as they come up). Otherwise, you’ll just blindly repeat the cycle over and over again.

    You need to open to love to be in a relationship. And when your heart is open, you’re also vulnerable. This is why past pain that you thought you had hidden resurfaces. This is why your ego takes many bruises and why certain words penetrate to the core of your fears.

    When an intimate relationship is honest, open and transparent, you will see all of each other’s deepest blind spots. Then you have the choice to work through them, or ignore them, letting them forever influence your life from the shadows of your subconsciousness.

    3. Close Family and Friends

    Family and friends can be similar to intimate relationships, though less of a “mirror” because our focus isn’t on them like it is on an intimate partner. (Although it can be very strong if you have children, because your complete focus is often on them. This is why having children can teach you so much about yourself.)

    With family and friends, honest relationships are paramount. Surround yourself with people that love you enough to call you out on your bullshit and wake you up from your self-delusions.

    I’m not saying to obey everything that other people say, but pay attention to the words spoken from the heart of someone you care deeply for.

    4. Plant Medicine

    Plant medicines are some of the most powerful catalysts for self-realization and growth. Some examples of plant medicines are “magic” mushrooms, Ibogaine and Ayahuasca (which I’ve done myself and wrote about here).

    Plant medicines will help you see where your blind spots are, reevaluate your life, examine your fundamental beliefs and aid you in breaking out of the patterns that don’t serve you. It’s like a crash course in self-improvement. Before you dismiss plant medicines as drugs, be aware that there’s a growing body of research regarding the healing effects of psychedelics on addiction, depression and mental disorders such as PTSD.

    When used in clinical or ceremonial settings, these sacred plant medicines have profound healing properties.

    5. Be Aware of Cognitive Biases

    A cognitive bias is defined as “a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input.” (Wikipedia)

    One prominent cognitive bias is called the backfire effect, which is when you reject evidence that contradicts your viewpoint or conclusion, even if you know that the evidence is true. How many times have you seen people do this? A lot, right? And I bet you’ve done it too. I know I have.

    Another notable cognitive bias is the bandwagon effect. This is when the probability of one person adopting a belief increases based on the number of people who hold that belief. The bandwagon effect is a testament to how powerful groupthink or herd mentality can be. Don’t overlook the possibility that your most fundamental beliefs may be based on false premises and they’ve only been collectively accepted, not because they’re true, but because of phenomena like the bandwagon effect.

    This article outlines 57 different cognitive biases that us humans can have. And there’s probably more too that we very well be unaware of.

    Get familiar with the many variations of cognitive biases and ask yourself the tough questions: On which topics are my views biased? What cognitive biases do I have? Which ones am I most vulnerable to? In what kind of situations do they arise? What viewpoints am I vehemently or even irrationally defending? What am I desperately trying to justify? Maybe there are cognitive biases at play.

    6. Build Ego Awareness

    The ego is sneaky, cunning and a terrible master. If you become a slave to the ego and let it run your life, you will be engulfed in a world of endless fear, judgment, deception and self-sabotage.

    Know when your ego is trying to run the show. Learn to differentiate between your egoic desires and the genuine desires of your heart.

    Your ego will wrap its identity in labels (nationality, race, religion, gender…etc.) and constrict you in the process. It will have you stubbornly defending ideas that you’re not quite sure are true. It will have you clinging to comfort, blocking out any exposure to growth.

    Read my article “What Does Your Ego Look Like?” for a deeper dive into the ego.

    7. Investigate Your Resistances

    Resistance is the ego at work. If you have great resistance towards something, look into it. It will often be your ego resisting something that is actually beneficial for you.

    The classic examples of resistance are politics and religion. People are so emotionally attached to their ideologies (and there are so many cognitive biases involved) that even a mild counterpoint is met with hostility and defensiveness. If you notice this kind of resistance in you, see where it comes from. Are you afraid that what you cling to will be gone? Do you think you won’t have an identity if you step outside of the box of the political/religious ideology you follow? Are you merely following an ideology based on the fear of consequences if you don’t?

    If you have extreme resistance towards something, it’s probably something you’re desperately trying to suppress and it’s driving you crazy in the process. Examine everything with an open mind and meet resistance with love.

    8. Be a Beginner Again

    Try something new where you have to start from square one. If you’re an intellectual, try learning how to surf. If you’re an athlete, try playing chess.

    Taking on something completely new and foreign will shake you out of your comfort zones, make you vulnerable (in a good way), uncover weaknesses (or strengths that you never knew about), highlight any stubbornness you have, enable you to connect dots from seemingly unrelated areas and catalyze so much learning in a short period of time.

    9. Get Out of the Echo Chamber

    This is closely related to trying something new.

    An echo chamber is “a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.” (Wikipedia)

    Sometimes, we get so caught up in our niche communities (especially online), that we don’t realize that it could be an echo chamber. The extreme version of this is something like Scientology, but I’ve seen various degrees of “echo-chamberism” from spiritual communities to scientific communities and everything in between. It’s cool to connect with like-minded people, but just make sure that you’re not illogically rejecting things to hold up false premises. Question everything and always exercise your critical thinking faculties.

    If you’re a floaty spiritual person, switch it up and read some scientific literature. If you’re scientific-minded, read some spiritual stuff. If you’re a hip-hop head, listen to some classical music (the real OG’s). All of this will give you a completely different perspective on things, make you more well-rounded and spur so much new insight it will blow your mind.

    10. Find a Group Setting that Facilitates Self-Discovery

    Attend a retreat or a workshop. These kinds of events are designed to be learning experiences provide you with new perspectives in a concise package.

    Every retreat and every workshop I’ve ever attended has revealed profound insights that were previously blind spots for me.

    11. Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes

    See the world from someone else’s perspective. Visualize their perspective in detail. Think about their motivations, point of view, beliefs, fears and how their experiences have shaped who they are. Have empathy and compassion and truly understand their point of view.

    This kind of empathetic visualization will greatly expand your perceptions give you a unique perspective on your own life.

    Also, studying the behavior of others will create an awareness of those same behaviors within yourself (if you’re willing to look within).

    12. Keep a Journal

    Journaling is one of the best tools for self-reflection. Deep-seated revelations arise when your thoughts and emotions are externalized.

    The process of writing itself also creates objectivity and newfound understanding. Journaling allows you to witness your state of being from a higher perspective. And reading about your past experiences will give you more clarity for the present (hindsight is 20/20).

    13. Travel

    Travel is the ultimate perspective-expander. You experience new cultures, new ideas and new ways of living. You also meet tons of interesting people, often travelers themselves, who grave great wisdom to share.

    Traveling also forces you out of your comfort zone. After any stint of travel, you’ll be able to step back and look at yourself and the world around you with new eyes.

    “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    14. Read Books

    Reading is one of the best ways to learn and grow as a person. Every book you read is a rung of your ladder of knowledge, helping you climb above the walls of your own ignorance.

    Here’s a tip to spur even more self-discovery and growth: Once in a while, read something that is completely different than normal for you. I stubbornly only read nonfiction for a while, thinking I was being practical and learning a lot (which I was). But once I started reading fiction, I unexpectedly learned so much more, and in ways I never would have expected. My imagination bloomed like a flower in spring, my power of visualization strengthened, my vocabulary greatly expanded and my writing ability reached new heights. Also, because I read fiction before bed, I started falling asleep more easily. Imagination and visualization were blind spots for me, and I probably never would have thought about them if it weren’t for reading fiction.

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    There you have it. Those are some excellent ways to illuminate the caverns of your psyche and bring awareness to your blind spots.

    Don’t just read this and then fall back into the same patterns you know don’t serve your highest interest. Apply! Apply! Apply!

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

    Life gets excruciatingly stale when you’re held down by the shadowy forces you refuse to face. Release the fear of what you’re afraid of discovering, because it’s all you and, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all love.

    Uncover your blind spots, keep learning and keep growing.

    Make the most out of your short time here on Earth.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    Should We Always Be Happy?

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    People have asked me this question many times…

    Should we always be happy?

    The short answer…

    Of course not.

    The long answer…

    We all just want to be happy, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Something is cherished only when you know its opposite.

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

    Everything is a Learning Experience

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

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

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

    Working Out: A Microcosm of Life

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

    Success and Failure

    Highly successful people persevere through struggle and hardships.

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

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

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

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

    Video Games, Novels, Movies and Stories

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

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

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

    My Personal Perspective

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

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

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

    The Takeaway

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

    Life is a video game.

    Have fun.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    The Challenge Perspective

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

    There are no problems, only challenges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mt Wash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – Stevie P!

    It’s All Research, Therefore I Cannot Fail

    This is a guest post by Alton Eckel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CBT

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Follow Alton on Instagram: @trailbright

    Alton

    The Potent Secret About “Bad” Experiences

     

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    So… I recently came across this thought-provoking insight from Bashar that gave me an aha! moment…

    “Analogy: You have on your planet
    the occupation referred to as “piano tuners”.
    When you are playing your piano instrument,
    and you find the sound of the music pleasing,
    and then all of a sudden you come across
    what you call a sour note, “plunk… plunk… plunk… plunk”
    Do you run away in panic and go and hide in the closet?
    “I shall never touch my piano again!”
    No. You say, “Ah, I require to tune the piano,
    so that the note becomes harmonious with all the other notes.”

    Each key is like unto a definition… a belief.
    When you come across one that gives you the sensation of fear,
    all that’s telling you is, “Hey… hey, hey, hey, hey, hey… pay attention,
    you have a belief in this area of your song
    that is out of alignment with the whole rest of the piano”.
    Fine tune it… bring it back into harmony… don’t run away… explore it:
    “Bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk… what would I have to do to tune this?
    How would I have to redefine it?
    How would I have to tighten this string
    in order to bring it back into tune… into alignment?
    Play with it… find out until finally,
    “Bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk… it’s back.”

    (read the full version here)

    This is a fantastic analogy, in my opinion. And it reveals some secrets of the Universe as well…

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    1. “Bad” experiences are the best learning experiences.

    Everything is a matter of perception. Are you going to use “bad” experiences as an excuse to be a victim, feel guilty, or beat yourself up? Or will you use “bad” experiences as learning experiences to fuel your personal growth and evolution? The choice is yours.

    Think about it… You learn way more from “mistakes” than when everything goes perfectly. It is through the hiccups in life that we are nudged in the right direction.

    With everything in life, you start from square one, and progress through trial and error in order to improve over time. That’s what being human is all about.

    Going back to the piano analogy, you fine-tune your piano by discovering the disharmonious keys and correcting them. Just as no piano comes perfectly tuned to your liking, no human being is perfect. The beauty of imperfection is that it allows for uniqueness, as well as continuous growth.

    Here’s a personal example of this principle in action…
    One word that I never spell wrong is “committee.” Why? Because I misspelled it in my 5th grade spelling bee in front of the whole school (Seriously, who put that last “e” in there?). And because of that “mistake”, I’ve made a point to spell it correctly each and every time since. Lesson learned.

    You came here to experience, learn and grow (and have fun doing it). The “bad” things that happen are really life-changing learning experiences in disguise.

    2. “Bad” experiences are a sign.

    So-called mistakes that you make are actually hints, guiding you in the direction of learning and development.

    “Bad” things that “happen” to you can also act as tremendous learning experiences, and build a stronger character.

    Everything you experience is perfect for your personal growth. Pay attention to the signs.

    3. “Bad” experiences should be embraced.

    Your power comes with how you react to these so-called “bad” experiences. Your growth comes from how you view them. It’s all a matter of perception.

    Don’t ignore the “bad” things that happen. Don’t hide them. Don’t fear them. It’s when you cover things up or ignore them that they sabotage you. Everything you hold inside eventually manifests in some way or another. Don’t hold onto or bury the “bad” things that happen to you. Transmute them into growth and development.

    Story time:
    One of the “worst” (actually best, in hindsight) things that happened to me was when I was a 19 year-old college sophomore. I ended up in the hospital after drinking way too much one night. Yeah, it was really stupid, and I’m so grateful that I was able to walk out of the hospitable the next morning. So instead of marinating in guilt, shame, and self-pity because of this “stupid mistake,” I used it as a catalyst for personal growth. It was my sign that I needed to re-prioritize my life, and it became the spark for the development of my mind, body and spirit. I immediately began working out and making better food choices. I also started reading voraciously, mostly books on spirituality (notably Eckhart Tolle and Osho). I not only read them, but made a point to apply the information provided. Change came quickly. I noticed improvements in my body. I was happier. I was more positive, more confident, less stressed, and had less fears. I was in college, so I still partied. But it wasn’t my sole focus any more. My focus switched from partying (fitting in and trying to be cool), to personal growth. I used the “bad” experience of a drinking-induced hospital visit as the spark for my journey of personal growth and development. So in a weird way, it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

    4. “Bad” experiences forge an unshakable character.

    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    Diamonds are formed through immense pressure. Swords are forged in intense heat. The same applies to humans. Great men and women are defined by how they view and act upon their “failures.” They use “failures” as fuel for success.

    Build the resilience of a mighty tree. Storms will always come, but they will pass over you, and you will use the rain from those storms to sustain your tremendous growth.

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    I’ll leave you with a few quotes from Viktor Frankl, a man who completely embodies everything I’ve discussed in this post. He was a holocaust survivor and author of the classic book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” His horrific experiences forged a mighty and admirable spirit. Viktor transmuted his extremely difficult experiences to gain a new outlook on life, a deep sense of empowerment and the burning desire to live life to the fullest. The man is a true inspiration.

    “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

    “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

    “Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.”

    “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

    So here’s the question: Are you going to use the “bad” experiences you encounter as catalysts for growth? Or an excuse to set up residence in victimhood?

    The choice is up to you.

    Stay awesome.

    -Stevie P!

    2 Easy Tricks To Build Self-Awareness

    Self-awareness is the precursor to any personal change or growth.

    You have to be aware of something before you can do something about it, right?

    To lose fat, you must first recognize that you have fat you want to lose. To become more assertive, you must first recognize that you lack assertiveness. To become a Pokemon master, you must first recognize that you gotta catch em all.

    Ash Charmander Laugh

    Awareness, then action. That’s the name of the game.

    But the thing is, most people lack self-awareness. Because we are completely absorbed by our thoughts 24/7, we gain no perspective. Like the fish who is unaware of the water surrounding them throughout life. We become oblivious to ourselves. We fail to recognize useless (and sometimes destructive) reoccurring patterns, let alone give ourselves opportunities to correct them.

    Nothing like a first-grade-lookin-cartoon-drawing, right?

    Self-awareness is turning on the lights, allowing you to see everything you couldn’t see when in the dark.

    It is the first step in creating any change in life.

    So here’s 2 easy tricks to build self-awareness and assess your own behavior:

    1. Draw your perception back.

    Don’t be absorbed by your mind. Exist beyond it.

    “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” -Robin S. Sharma

    You’re not your thoughts. You’re the consciousness behind your thoughts. You’re the sky and your thoughts are  merely clouds passing by.

    Deepak Chopra sums up that concept nicely here (at 1:37):

    Allow yourself to witness your mind’s incessant activity, without attaching to it.

    Draw your perception back and you’ll be able to objectively assess yourself. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, behavior, habits…etc.

    2. Write things down.

    Writing things down makes them more tangible. It also allows us to assess ourselves from different angles than we’re used to, providing useful new insights. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something magical about the act of writing things down. It always does the trick.

    Keep a journal. And write unfiltered. Just write everything on your mind. No one’s going to read it. It’s for your eyes only. Writing with no filter will give you an objective look at yourself, which is crucial.

    Log how you act/react in different situations. Write about experiences in your life and your thoughts about them.

    Log how your body feels in different situations. Being conscious of your body is an invaluable skill to have (because we only get one in this lifetime). One idea is writing how you react to different foods. This has really helped me familiarize myself with my body and nutrition. It builds tremendous body awareness as well. I’ve had a lot of realizations by doing this, like recognizing that pasta bloats me like Snorlax at a chinese buffet (that’s Pokemon reference #2 if you’re keeping track).

    Write down your goals, desires and aspirations. Make a bucket list. Recognize what you want out of life, and give yourself things to work towards.

    Write down any noticeable changes in your life and how you feel about it. The mere act of writing things down results in self-awareness. And from there you can make the decision to do something about it.

    Okay then.

    Apply those 2 simple tips and you will greatly increase your self-awareness. You’ll be able to recognize your thoughts, feelings, emotions, habits…etc. And once you become more self-aware, you have the power to steer your life in any direction you choose.

    Self-awareness acts as a platform to launch from.

    Blast off.

    -Stevie P!