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.

    individual

    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?

    You can get a free copy of my new book, Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth.

    It’s on Kindle Scout right now, which is a platform that allows readers to choose what gets published by Amazon. Basically, books that a lot of people nominate and show interest in get published. So I need your help to get Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth out there. It only takes a minute of your time.

    Here’s what I need you to do:
    1. Go to this link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/WNJWEXEM3HEZ
    2. Click “Nominate me”

    That’s it.

    And if the book gets selected for publishing, you get an early, free copy!

    Let’s reshape our world.

    – Stevie P
     

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    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.


     

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

    the path to freedom

    As humans, we have an insatiable desire for freedom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What are Positive Constraints?

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

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

    Why Are Positive Constraints Useful?

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

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

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

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

    The Freedom to Choose to Concede Freedom

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

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

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

    Family and Oneness

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

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

    How to Apply Positive Constraints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Enjoy your journey and much love to ya.

    – Stevie P!

     

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    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.


     

    Stop Consuming Culture and Create Your Own

    hands create sculpting

    Are you creating the life you want? Or are you just absorbing a version of reality that has been projected upon you?

    Are you living life on your own terms? Or are you letting your hopes and dreams become the desires of someone else?

    Are you maximizing your own state of being? Or are you focusing on external distractions?

    We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.
    ~ Terence McKenna

     
    Absorbing culture, as opposed to creating your own, is an insult to both your potential and individuality.

    We’re all super-creative beings, it’s just been systematically suppressed with most people. The potential that resides within every human being is almost unfathomable from the “poor little me” perspective. Every single person has unique skills and talents that, when cultivated, will be the building blocks of a better world. Are you cultivating and expressing your gifts? Or are you wasting your time on celebrity gossip or debating the latest sideshow act that the media has programmed you to react to?

    The Low Information Diet

    Many top performers in various fields (and happy people in general) consciously limit and filter the information they expose themselves to, particularly the news. Why? Because they’re focused on creating! And you should too if you care at all about living your life to the fullest.

    I’m focusing my energy on growing stronger myself; which means exploring new ideas, trying new things out, not being afraid of experience, becoming a role model that can support other guys in becoming stronger versions of themselves. Because if I don’t do that, I’m just contributing to the fucked-up-ness of the world.
    ~ Elliott Hulse

     
    The biggest culprit, in terms of information that hinders your well-being, is the news. When have you ever felt good after watching the news? And what did you personally do about the latest popularized tragedy? You’d be much better off working on yourself and helping those around you.

    The ‘news’ is nothing more than outrage porn. Or fear porn. Or literal porn. Completely ignore it and spend your mental energy focusing instead on being healthy, being creative and improving 1% each day.
    ~ James Altucher (check out his article on this called “Go On a News Diet, Starting Today”)

     
    It’s your choice whether or not to consume something. I’m not saying to never watch a movie or read a book again. Just be conscious about what you’re consuming and filter out the nonsense that doesn’t serve your best interest. Be mindful of your informational ingestion. Is what you’re consuming in alignment with your highest good? Is it making you a better person? Is it making you more of a role model to those around you?

    Author, investor and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss has an entire category on his blog entitled “Low-Information Diet.” Yes, being conscious about the information you choose to absorb is that important.

    If you’ve noticed, I’m quoting a few people in this article, yet I’m synthesizing these sources to create my own unique work here. Also, the information I’m sharing sheds light on things within you that you may not have been aware of. There’s a big difference between consciously seeking information that will help you improve and mindlessly consuming asinine gossip and spiritually paralyzing fear-mongering (“news”).

    Our brains have a hard time processing what’s happening to billions of people, especially all of the horrors which the news seems to be keen on feeding people. Every person has a threshold of trauma which they can tolerate in their lives before the accumulated trauma becomes their primary operating system. The news creates information overload and forces people into a fear-induced paralysis.

    Focus on what you can do right now. Tune into yourself, start expressing your inner gifts, spread love to everyone you encounter and inspire by example.

    Lifting the Veil

    Even the most conservative and closed-minded people can sense the blatant dysfunction of the culture we find ourselves in, although many refuse to admit the sheer grandiosity of the lies we’ve been sold.

    Examine all of the major systems in place and you’ll find common themes of fear, deception, separation and scarcity. Mainstream media, education, religion, energy, healthcare (sick-care), politics and economics all operate under this paradigm. That’s why disharmony arises everywhere mainstream culture touches.

    Thankfully, there are alternatives emerging across the board. And you can be a catalyst for positive change as well. Everyone has something amazing to contribute. But that will be stifled if all you do is focus externally.

    Projected Reality

    The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.
    ~ John Wheeler

     
    Reality is not as we’re told. It’s not as fixed and machine-like as we assume it to be (without any investigation), but more of a quantum soup of information that we’re decoding and projecting into simultaneously.

    The building blocks of our reality, atoms, are not solid. They’re more than 99.999999% empty space. So how can a universe consisting of these non-solid atoms be solid? Well, it’s not. We just decode it that way. Just like how objects in video games appear solid, yet they’re not.

    And we’re exactly in this situation in our world. We look around and it doesn’t seem that mathematical at all, but everything we see is made out of elementary particles like quarks and electrons. And what properties does an electron have? Does it have a smell or a colour or a texture? No! As far as we can tell the only properties an electron has are -1, 1/2 and 1. We physicists have come up with geeky names for these properties, like electric charge, or spin, or lepton number, but the electron doesn’t care what we call it, the properties are just numbers.
    ~ Max Tegmark

     
    The human brain processes approximately 11 million impressions every second that it decodes into the five senses. These 11 million are filtered down to about 40 and from that our sense of reality is constructed. The brain also “fills the gaps” of the unprocessed information based upon what it believes should be there. It’s all about how we decode this sea of information. So if you change the way you decode reality, you experience a different version of reality.

    Along with decoding the general informational template of reality, we’re all perpetually projecting into reality as well. The observer effect and the double-slit experiment show that the observer actually influences what is being observed. How crazy is that? Everything is interconnected and your consciousness creates ripples upon the web of reality whether you like it or not.

    So it is highly important to be mindful of your beliefs that are decoding reality in a certain way and your focus/emotions/thoughts/words that are constantly being projected upon reality.

    Energy flows where attention goes. What are you giving energy to?

    Imagine your focus as life force energy flowing wherever it is directed. If you’re watching the news, you’re draining your own energy (it really is energetic vampirism) and energetically contributing to the fear, destruction and violence. Instead focus on what you can do to improve yourself and make the world a better place. Objective awareness is crucial too. I’m neither ignorant nor apathetic to what’s going on in the world. It’s just that I choose not to focus my energy on it and focus instead on improving myself, writing, inspiring, being kind to everyone I encounter, being a role model…etc.

    The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
    ~ Dan Millman

     
    Television is like a hack into our reality interface. It programs the subconscious, which then makes you decode and project reality based on that program. When you watch television, you’re in a state of light hypnosis, meaning your subconscious mind is primed to pick up hypnotic suggestions in the form of advertisements, subliminal messages, beliefs, ideals, opinions…etc. Of course there are some good shows out there, but the majority of it (especially news and commercials) are psyche-hacks to make you decode, project and act under a paradigm of fear, ego-enslavement, disempowerment and inadequacy. If you notice, most people exhibit predictable programmed reactions based on events publicized in the media. It’s all engineered that way.

    There are six companies that control 90% of the US media. This is a ridiculous centralization of information sources. Combine this with how insidious television is and it’s the perfect storm for mass brainwashing. Get your information from various democratized sources (to have multiple data points for reference) and form your own opinions.

    It’s all in plain sight too. Remember, television is called “programming” for a reason.

    television programming

    Culture Creation Case Studies

    Look at what the downtrodden youth of the Bronx, New York created when American culture did nothing but oppress them. Neighborhoods were impoverished, schools were underfunded and traditional musical instruments weren’t available. They had limited access to many modern conveniences and a burning desire to express themselves. So what did they do? They created their own culture, hip-hop, which revolutionized music, poetry, art, dance, fashion and language.

    The hippie movement of the 1960’s is another example of culture creation. During this time period, the Vietnam War (a horrible campaign of violence predicated on lies, like every war) was going on and the American way, up until that point, was characterized by unquestioning obedience towards authority. But the hippies bucked the system (some by protesting the war and aiding the civil rights movement) and created their own counter-culture instead of passively absorbing the culture projected upon them. That movement planted the seeds for alternative thinking, questioning authority, open-mindedness, various forms of artistic expression, spirituality beyond religion and a foundation of love instead of the undercurrent of fear that pervades mainstream systems.

    Changing the World Starts with You

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

     
    You are the leverage point from which the world changes. Trying to change the external world without changing yourself first is like trying to comb the mirror instead of your own hair. And reality is a sort of mirror of our internal state (see the evidence above).

    Also, if you’re changing things without a foundation of self-mastery, that change is coming from a fundamentally compromised place. An external focus on change is like standing on top of a boat yelling at things to move out of your way, while internal change is simply steering the boat.

    How to Change the World

    Know thyself – Get in tune with yourself. Go within, meditate, observe your thoughts and emotions, do the inner work, rid yourself of limiting beliefs, let go of trauma you’re holding onto, continuously improve yourself and find/create your purpose. You are the hinge from which the door to all change swings on, and inner work is the opening of the door.

    Focus on your experienced reality – Not what’s on tv, not what’s on the news, not what Kanye West is doing. Focus on your experience, your personal relationships, your family, your community, your skills, your home, your joys, your passions, how you treat the people you encounter…etc. Everything else besides your present experience is just conceptual. What action can you take right now? (No, sitting on your couch moaning about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton doesn’t count.)

    Vote with your dollar – We live in a consumerist society and corporations run the governments. These companies cannot exist if people don’t buy their products/services, it’s as simple as that. Are you contributing to the problem or solution? Be mindful of where you spend your money, because that’s the real voting (it’s democratized, direct and not rigged).

    Find your gifts and express them – When you do the inner work and focus on your experienced reality (not manipulated “tv reality”), you will inevitably find and develop useful skills. Everyone has something useful and incredibly potent to contribute. You just need to shed the societal conditioning and find out for yourself. And each person, by sharing their gifts, will contribute to the creation of a better world. Some will invent ways to harness free energy (rendering oil dependency useless), some will be architects who design eco-friendly buildings, some will be great gardeners, some will be writers, some will be musicians…etc. All you need to do is look within and you’ll find that you’ve had brilliant gifts all along.

    There are millions of other people that would benefit from a little bit of insight or wisdom from you in the way you choose to offer it. Maybe you want to become a coach. Maybe you want to build a business. Maybe you create a non-profit organization. Maybe you make videos. Maybe you write books. Maybe you make poetry. Maybe you play the violin. Whatever it is, you’re adding beauty to the world. You’ve gotta keep that balance. If you let the death and destruction weigh you down, you’re becoming an anchor!
    ~ Elliott Hulse

     
    Be a beacon of love – Never underestimate small acts of kindness. The little things you do in each moment matter immensely, and they add up. Who knows how profoundly you can inspire someone with one simple act of kindness? Are you spreading love or are you contributing to the disharmony? The choice is up to you in each moment.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!

     

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    Do You Even Feel, Bro?

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    Here’s your life…

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

    All you do is think.

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

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

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

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

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

    Ask yourself these follow-up questions right now:

    What sensations are going on in my body?

    What emotions am I feeling?

    What feelings or emotions are accompanying my thoughts?

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

    Can You Feel Me?

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

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

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

    Why is Feeling Even Important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Ways to Hone the Power of Feeling

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

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

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

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

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

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


     

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    5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game

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    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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    You are the Captain of Your Vessel

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    As humans, we tend to learn best through metaphor. That’s why the most profound spiritual texts are gloriously allegorical.

    To leverage this effect, I came up with an illuminating metaphor for the mind, body and spirit:

    Life is a voyage and you are the captain of your vessel.

    Life is the journey, the expedition, the adventure. It’s truly a tremendous experience.

    “Reality” is the scene upon which your voyage takes place. It is the ocean, the weather, the wind…etc.

    Your body is the ship, or vessel. Your mental and emotional states are the sails of the ship. And you (the ‘I am’ presence) are the captain of the ship.

    Let me elaborate a bit…

    Life is like a “choose your own adventure” game as well. You select your ship and set out on your own unique voyage.

    Reality, the ocean, is the stage upon which life is set. Can we control the weather, the wind or the scenery? Perhaps. Maybe reality is participatory and co-created by all of us, like a highly advanced, completely customizable online multiplayer video game. But until we know that for sure, this quote provides potent advice…

    “When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails” – H. Jackson Brown

    Sail towards your purpose. Sail towards your passions. Sail towards your essence. And realize that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey itself. The deep sense of fulfillment you’re looking for is found by fully embracing the bliss that lies within every moment of the experience.

    Harmonizing all aspects of self will maximize your journey. Neglecting any element of yourself will inevitably result in a less-than-enjoyable voyage.

    If you neglect your physical body, your vessel, you’ll become a shipwreck prematurely. A damaged ship will gradually sink, no matter how nice the weather or how competent the captain is. And before it sinks, it will move slowly and require constant maintenance, leaving little time for enjoyment.

    If you neglect your sails, you’ll always be at the mercy of the weather. You will be a victim of circumstance. The winds will have their way with you. You will have trouble avoiding turbulent weather. No matter how adept your captain is or how strong your ship is, it won’t last long being battered by constant storms.

    If you neglect your spiritual self, the captain, then you essentially become a vessel without a pilot. You will be aimless, with no awareness to experience the beauty of the journey. The absence of the captain makes the voyage meaningless.

    To harmonize the totality of self, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to be the perfect captain, or have the perfect boat or have the perfect sails. But you cannot neglect any of them if you wish to make the most of your voyage.

    A harmonious self would consist of a fun-loving, skillful captain, sailing a strong vessel. The sails would be well-kept and adjusted to each unique circumstance. You will be able to enjoy the good weather, and when storms come, persevere and become stronger as a result.

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    How to Maximize Your Voyage: 2 Actionable Items for Each Aspect of Self that You Can Implement Today

    Regarding Your Body (The Ship):

    1. Just Eat Real Food – The 80/20 of healthy eating is as simple as eating real food. If it has a commercial or a mascot, it’s probably not good for you. Like Jack LaLanne said, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”

    For a simple diet that will help cultivate health and strength, I highly recommend Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet (click here to get it).

    2. Move – Move your body daily. Walk as much as possible, practice yoga, lift weights, hike a mountain…etc. Our bodies are built to move. So much dysfunction comes from too much sitting and stagnation. Even gentle movement (like walking or light stretching) allows for lymphatic circulation, blood circulation, chi circulation, effective digestion and normalized hormones; all of which are absolutely crucial for good health.

    Regarding Your Mind/Emotional State (The Sails):

    1. Don’t complain for a day – Complaining is utterly useless. It’s passive and negative. Either let things go, or take action to change them, and continue flowing through life with a sense of empowerment. Challenge yourself to not complain and your life will never be the same.

    2. Be present – Be here now. The present moment is all that ever exists. Only refer to the past or future when they’re completely relevant to the now. Presence is where inner peace is found and creates space for awareness. From that awareness, you are in the position to change anything in your life.

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

    Further reading: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

    Regarding Your Spirit (The Captain):

    1. Meditate daily – If you’re new to meditation, set a timer for 2 minutes and do absolutely nothing. You can sit or lay down, whatever is more comfortable. Simply observe your thoughts while breathing deeply. Meditation, like presence, begets awareness. Meditation allows you to use the mind as a tool without getting overwhelmed by it. Make it a daily habit.

    2. Show gratitude – Every day, write down at least three things that you’re grateful for. Show gratitude for everything in your life. This will not only make you happier, but also open the door to all forms of abundance. The feeling of gratitude is so fulfilling and it aligns your spirit with the other aspects of yourself, uniting the wholeness of your being in joyful harmony.

    Remember, you are the captain of your vessel.

    Enjoy the voyage.

    – Stevie P
     

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    33 Harsh Truths to Recognize (If You Want to Wake Up)

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    The first step toward change is awareness…

    1. We are far from free (Yes, even in ‘Merica). Slavery is now covert, subtle and insidious. And it will continue indefinitely until people realize their bondage.
    2. The ‘official’ 9/11 story is complete bullshit. It just doesn’t add up. And that treacherous fairytale has become a major source of fear-based programming used to re-shape society.
    3. Chemtrails… You can’t deny that they’re spraying something.
    4. We’re being systematically poisoned by the big institutions (Pharmaceuticals, flouride, GMO’s, fast food, soda, high fructose corn syrup, factory farmed animals pumped with antibiotics…etc)
    5. Governments have a long track record of manufacturing “terrorist attacks” on their own people and blaming a scapegoat. (USA, Israel and their intelligence agencies are masters at this.)
    6. Organized religions, as they exist now, are a distortion/inversion of spirituality and essential truths.
    7. Materialist science has become as dogmatic as the religions they criticize.
    8. Mainstream science is now driven by profit, not curiosity.
    9. Mainstream education = indoctrination.
    10. Most doctors and med schools are in the pockets of big pharma.
    11. Monsanto is raping the world.
    12. Politics are a stage show.
    13. Governments always come up with money for war, but there’s never enough when it comes to actually helping people.
    14. The history we’re taught in school is a big lie.
    15. Consumerism is driven through the conditioning of the masses to feel inadequate. (Especially with women.)
    16. The global economic system is fiat currency based on IOU’s (thus having no “real” backing) and being leveraged to funnel wealth into the hands of a few.
    17. So many aspects of society are designed to distract us from finding truth (work to keep us busy, entertainment, obsession with sports teams…etc)
    18. A small group of “people” control society here on Earth (or they’re trying to).
    19. This reality is some sort of hologram or simulation.
    20. There is so much going on that we aren’t perceiving (at least right now). We exist in a 3 dimensional reality and perceive that 3 dimensional reality with just 5 senses. Do you really think that’s all that exists!?
    21. Every major system in place is a big fear-generator (religion, education, media, government…etc.)
    22. There is an unseen force parasiting off of humanity and inhibiting our inherent potential.
    23. Television is a form of mass mind control. It’s called programming for a reason.
    24. Mainstream “news” is fear-based programming. (This also applies to most “alternative news” as well)
    25. The energy sources we’re using are creating a false sense of scarcity. There are many free energy alternatives out there, they’re just being suppressed (because they will relinquish any form of control.).
    26. Time is an illusion. And it’s designed to take us out of the present moment (the cause of so much anxiety and worry).
    27. Most big charities aren’t creating the positive changes they promise. (Billions of dollars have been raised for cancer research, and cancer is more prevalent than ever. Something doesn’t add up…)
    28. ‘The system’ does not want to cure disease, only treat it. Treatment is profitable, cures aren’t. There are cures to every disease. They’re just suppressed.
    29. Technology exists to control weather and trigger “natural disasters.”
    30. The issue of “global warming” is being exploited by ‘the powers that be’ to further control humanity.
    31. Your beliefs are the filter for the reality you perceive. All input gets processed through the brain. We all have cognitive biases that distort our perception of reality.
    32. The reality you experience is a reflection of yourself.
    33. We have way more power than we’re conditioned to believe. We’re not hopeless victims. The potential of humanity is being stifled. You can’t suppress something forever. That’s why our rise is inevitable.

    Remember, nothing is absolute truth (in this reality at least). I strongly encourage everyone to do their own research and form their own conclusions.

    “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” -Buddha

    Use your intuition and let love be your guide, not fear. Always ask yourself “Is this motivated by love or fear?”

    Yours in ruthless love,

    -Stevie P!