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“I Made It” Moments (The Bittersweet Truth)

remote work

I just had an “I made it” moment.

Digitally, I was on a conference call. But physically, I was on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, with my bare feet on the grass, the sun shining on my face, looking out at some of the most stunning landscapes I’d ever seen.

“I made it!” I thought to myself as I smiled at my “office” view.

“This is what I’ve been visualizing for the past 7 years… To be able to do this very thing I’m doing right now… Working remotely, having freedom of time and location, living life on my own terms and exploring beautiful places.”

Gratitude swept over me like a divine breeze. I basked in it, breathing in the incredibly fresh British Columbia air.

Then something unexpected happened…

As the euphoria faded, two bittersweet realizations hit me:
1. This isn’t the end. Although it feels like my dreams came true, there’s no feeling of closure here.
2. This feeling of having “arrived” is actually available in EVERY MOMENT, not just the ones we label as special.

You see, the moments when you’re able to live out your dreams are bittersweet. On one hand, it’s incredibly blissful. Yet on the other hand, it’s never perfect and it’s not an end.

My “I made it” moment actually manifested a bit differently than I expected when I first read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. That’s the book that first opened me up to the idea that this lifestyle was even possible.

Here’s the truth. I worked a lot more than 4 hours this week. And no, I don’t earn a full-time living off of this blog or my own products. But I do have a remote job that allows me to do this. And I’m making a little more money every month with my own projects. So although I “made it,” it happened differently than I originally expected. And who knows; if I had rigidly clung to my expectations, and not flowed with the opportunities that presented themselves, this dream may not have come to fruition.

lifestyle travel

The only constant in life is change.

Nothing is static. This means that even when you achieve something, you can’t hold onto it, because it has already changed, you have already changed, and the circumstances have changed.

Every destination is really just a checkpoint along your journey. Every summit is a false summit, a checkpoint, showing you that there are always more peaks to climb.

There is no finish line. There is no destination. Life is a continuous journey!

Why do you think “successful” people are constantly looking to raise the bar? Why is everyone trying to chase their next preferred high? Because most people are caught in this endless, elusive game of future fulfillment.

Here’s a profound reframe: Every moment is an “I made it” moment. We just fail to see it in day to day life. But if you live mindfully and learn to enjoy the process, you will find that “you’ve arrived” in every moment.

“Where are you really headed? How is it really that much better than right here?” – Corey Sheikh

Of course purpose is important. Goals are important. But it’s not the achievement of goals that is rewarding. The reward is who you become in the process of working towards your goals or purpose.

Yet the ego constantly projects into the future, hoping for salvation there. This creates the trap of thinking happiness lies somewhere in the future, while continuously missing the present moment. It really is a trap. And here’s the thing; the present moment, not the future, holds all of the bliss, happiness and peace you’ve been searching for.

It’s been here and now all along.

Learn to love the process. Learn to love the journey. Learn to love the open-ended flux of the eternal now.

Realize that every moment is an “I made it” moment.

You’ve arrived. Or more accurately, you’re ARRIVING… Always.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

The 5 Best Self Improvement Podcasts

podcasts

I’ve always wished to sit in on insightful conversations; to be a fly on the wall during brilliant exchanges between interesting people.

Now I can, whenever and wherever I want. This is the allure of podcasts.

21% of Americans now listen to podcasts. To put this in perspective, that’s the same percentage as Americans who use Twitter. Podcasts are becoming ubiquitous, and for good reason. They are changing the way we experience both entertainment and learning.

The Audio Advantage

I prefer audio to other mediums for the simple fact that you can listen anywhere. It allows you to be a time management ninja and learn while going about your day. You can listen to podcasts while driving, walking outside, cooking, stretching, cleaning, performing monotonous tasks at work or just sitting in the dark while resting your eyes (which I personally love doing). Audio is so much more versatile than something you have to watch. Plus, we all spend too much time looking at screens, so it can provide a much needed break from that.

Authenticity

Podcasts are usually raw and authentic. I really love and appreciate the authenticity of podcasts. They’re generally unscripted and not edited much. So whether it’s a conversation, interview or a one-person rant, podcasts feel much more genuine and real than radio shows or any traditional media. Many people can no longer tolerate the plastic fakeness of overly scripted, heavily edited and excruciatingly politically correct interviews and/or conversations.

Choose Your Own Adventure

With podcasts you choose what you listen to, when you listen to it, when to stop, when to resume…etc. Gone are the days of being relegated to what’s on tv or what’s on the radio. Interactivity, freedom, authenticity and the democratization of information are highly valued in today’s culture.

Want to learn about health? Listen to a health podcast. Want to laugh? Listen to a comedian’s podcast. Want to hear an interview with a celebrity that’s unscripted and more like a conversation? There’s a podcast for that.

There is a podcast for every possible niche you can think of. The choice is yours.

The Perfect Blend

The authenticity factor of podcasts allows the podcaster to be him or herself while conveying the information they wish to convey. That’s why, more than anything else I’ve found, podcasts have the unique ability to create an experience of learning, mixed with entertainment, all while feeling like you’re there listening in on an interesting conversation.

I also love the funny quirks and unique sense of humor that people have. When these genuine qualities and “imperfections” shine through, it allows the listener to relate to whoever’s speaking on a deeper level.

The 5 Best Self Improvement Podcasts

1. The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is an author, entrepreneur and human guinea pig. His podcast focuses on dissecting all forms of greatness. In Tim’s own words, “Each episode, I deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more.”

2. The Model Health Show

This is the best podcast on health that I’ve come across. The host, Shawn Stevenson, has the uncanny ability to break down and eloquently explain complex health concepts. Each show often focuses on one specific aspect of health, making it highly informative and actionable. Shawn is well-read, with an amicable personality and a holistic, big picture perspective. The Model Health Show really is the model of health shows.

3. ReWild Yourself Podcast

The ReWild Yourself Podcast, hosted by Daniel Vitalis, is incredibly interesting and packed with useful information. If you want to maximize your entire being and embrace your primalness (instead of ignoring or repressing it), you should definitely check out the ReWild Yourself podcast. Here’s the short description of it…

“I’m Daniel Vitalis, and I’ll be your guide through the world of human zoology and lifestyle design. We’ll explore the strategies that ancient apes need to thrive in a modern world, awakening our instincts, and freeing our bodies –– and minds –– from the degenerative effects of human domestication.”

4. Aubrey Marcus Podcast

Aubrey Marcus is the CEO of Onnit and a master of “total human optimization.” He’s fascinating to listen to and shares valuable wisdom on a wide variety of topic. Anyone interested in practical spirituality and using consciousness to optimize and enjoy life will find tremendous value in Aubrey Marcus’ podcast.

5. The Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan is a comedian and UFC commentator. His podcasts are long, hilarious and interesting conversations about everything imaginable. Joe Rogan literally explores every subject under the sun. His comedic wit makes the podcasts laugh out loud funny while discussing often mindblowing ideas with interesting people.

Though The Joe Rogan Experience isn’t directly self-improvement related, it exposes you to a multitude of topics that will undoubtedly catalyze self-improvement.


I highly recommend you check out these podcasts and see if they resonate with you.

Keep laughing and learning.

Much love.

– Stevie P!


Resources: Apps to listen to podcasts on your smartphone

  • Stitcher (this is what I personally use)
  • Podcasts
  • Overcast
  • 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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    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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    Why Learning is like Jet Fuel for Happiness

    Teahupoo1

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

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

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

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

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    Learning is an integral element of the human experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Be Willing, Eager and Open to Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Another Useful Tip for Learning

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

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

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

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

    4HC

    Why Surfing is the Perfect Medium for Learning

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

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

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

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

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

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    Simplicity: Your Key to Lasting Happiness

    Simplicity

    If you’ve been indoctrinated into modern society, you’re conditioned to believe that accumulation equates to happiness.

    You go through life accumulating – money, gadgets, relationships, cars, houses, degrees…etc. – thinking that these additions will make you happy (And how’s that working out for everyone?). But actually it’s removal that begets happiness. Once you clear all of the bullshit, there’s nothing left but peace, joy and positive emotions.

    Happiness comes from removal, not accumulation. Remove fear, remove doubt, remove expectation and you’ll find that you’re left with happiness. Joy is your natural, essential state. You’ve just piled so much on top that you’ve forgotten the bliss that lies beneath it all.

    Meditation is the perfect example of this. Meditation is a “non-doing” in which you slip into the silent space between thoughts. It’s a transcendence of the neurotic thought loops of the mind, bringing you to a state of no-thought. It’s the ultimate removal. And guess what? Everyone feels positive emotions when they meditate (peace, bliss, joy, happiness, serenity…etc).

    “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
    – Bruce Lee

    And living a life of simplicity doesn’t mean being a simple-minded simpleton. It’s really about being intelligent enough to let go of what doesn’t truly serve your best interest.

    “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
    ― Henry David Thoreau

    Simplicity & Lying
    In the phenomenal book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.” Speak with integrity, say only what you mean, avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or gossip about others and use the power of the Word in the direction of truth and love.

    Being straightforward and truthful with your word harmonizes your emotions, thoughts, words and actions. That’s why it feels good. Because everything is in alignment.

    Morality aside, lying just makes things too complicated and tedious. For me, having to build and maintain a complex web of lies is much more difficult and emotionally taxing than being brutally honest (even when it’s not politically correct).

    Think about the relationships you have where you’re the most honest. Though your ego may take a few slaps to the face, those relationships are far more fulfilling than those which you wear a mask. Life is far simpler, genuine and enjoyable when honesty prevails.

    “Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
    ― Isaac Newton

    Simplicity & “Stuff”
    The accumulation of “stuff” is a huge problem plaguing so many people. Buying things to make you happy is a quick fix that quickly fades. And soon enough, you’ll need another hit of it. Buying things can really be like a drug addiction.

    This also leads to the accumulation of stuff, which can bog you down and hinder your freedom on multiple levels. With less stuff, there’s less to clean, less to upkeep and less to distract you from your natural state of happiness.

    One of the first posts I’ve ever written here is on this topic: Possessions vs Experiences: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

    Simplicity & Desires
    The vast majority of the desires you have are the result of societal programming. If you strip all of the conditioning away, all we really desire are simple things like love, happiness and personal growth. When you simplify your desires, you remove the self-created walls between yourself and happiness.

    “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
    – Epictetus

    Simplicity & Busyness
    Work smarter, not harder. Focus only on what you really need (or want) to get done, instead of dozens of asinine tasks. This will allow you to prioritize and accomplish the most important tasks while being less stressed throughout the process.

    “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
    – Tim Ferriss

    Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
    – Peter Drucker

    Read my post on busyness here: 15 Ways to Cure the “Busy Syndrome”

    Simplicity & Your Body
    Create lasting health and happiness by simplifying diet and exercise. You’ll enjoy it more and it’ll become a natural part of your lifestyle.

    With diet, it might look something like this: Just eat real food (JERF), eat when you’re hungry and have fun splurging every once in a while.

    Regarding exercise, I’ve personally made the most progress using simple, basic routines. Just consistently improving at the most fundamental exercises has worked wonders for me.

    Simplicity & Your Mind
    Think of the mind like a computer. If you have too many programs running at once, the computer will slow down or even crash.

    Focus only on what’s really important, and focus on one thing at a time.

    Having a regular meditation practice will greatly help you in clearing all of the unnecessary programs running in your mind.

    Simplicity & Presence
    Simplicity brings you more into the here and now (all that really exists). The simpler life is, the more conducive it is to cultivating a state of present moment awareness.

    “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 (The Power of Now)

    Read more: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

    Simplicity & Minimalism
    Minimalism is a form of simplicity. Once you clear all of your baggage (physical, mental, emotional…etc.), you have less burdens, less weighing you down and less obstructions to your happiness.

    “Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.”
    – Linda Breen Pierce

    Read more: The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage

    Simplicity & Quality Over Quantity
    Quality over quantity is a common phrase, but how many people really put it into practice? It applies to everything, especially relationships. If you build a few good quality relationships, instead of just trying to please everyone, it’s far more fulfilling and rewarding.

    Simplicity & Money
    Prioritize your happiness, instead of making decisions solely based on money. Budgeting and worrying about every penny you spend is a miserable existence. Feel abundant, and abundance will permeate your life. If you have an abundance mentality, you will, by the laws of the universe, attract more abundance.

    Here’s a personal example: I was just in Goa, India and the town I was in (Arambol) only had one working ATM. It was a long walk away, always had a long line and had a limit to how many rupees you could withdraw. Basically, going to the ATM was about as fun as being the wicked witch of the west and caught in a tsunami. So what I did was I would go to money exchange places, which were closer and much, much easier. They charged a 3% exchange fee, but the convenience was so worth it.

    Another aspect of this is simplifying the bills you pay. Evaluate what you’re paying on a monthly basis and figure out what you really need (or want). Get rid of the unnecessary. Also, automate your bill payments, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay them (less programs running on the mind-computer).

    Simplicity & Distilling Information
    The skill of distilling information is being able to simplify and concisely assimilate information. This allows for more clarity on whatever you’re learning about, prevents you from succumbing to information overload and puts you in a position to effectively implement the information.

    If you can’t simply explain a subject to a young child, you don’t truly understand it.

    You can build this skill of distilling information by succinctly summarizing things on a regular basis. This could be through writing, verbal explanations or even giving presentations on certain topics.

    “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
    – Confucius

    Find bliss in simplicity.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    3

    How to Own Your Day: Tim Ferriss Shares His 5 Morning Rituals

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    In order to achieve any big win, you must first achieve the prerequisitory* small wins which compound to make the big win.

    Think about it… A painting is a series of brushstrokes, a war is a series of battles and a sports game is a series of plays.

    Likewise, your life is a series of days. So consequently, you maximize your life by maximizing each day.

    “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” – Henry David Thoreau

    If you want to have a good day, you must proactively create a good day.

    If you want to be successful at anything, you need to know what you want and apply persistence towards it. On a day-to-day basis, this persistence takes the form of a ritual, routine or system.

    I’ve stopped thinking about goals, in favor of systems (which are basically interchangeable with routines and rituals). Systems are more effective than goals, especially regarding any major undertaking. Systems are more easily implementable, they take you in the right direction, and they’re flexible. While lofty goals can become irrelevant as you get closer to them, systems can unfold as dynamically as your life unfolds. You can adjust a system to hit any target.

    Which is more effective?
    Doing some form of exercise every day, or having an ambiguous goal of “losing weight”?
    Implementing a system of writing a page a day, or having the goal of writing a novel?

    Obviously, the former is much more effective in both cases. What do they have in common? The establishment of a daily ritual.

    A major commonality between all successful people is that they all have daily rituals. And not obsessive or neurotic rituals done out of fear. I’m talking about routines which are consciously implemented to keep you moving in a desired direction.

    “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” – Mike Murdock

    The most effective rituals are morning rituals. Why? Your morning is your pivot point which the rest of the day hinges upon. The morning is your origin point of momentum for the day.

    And you don’t need to be obsessive about a morning routine. If you don’t partake in a morning ritual one day, it’s not the end of the world. It’s about consistency, not perfection.

    “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

    In one of his latest podcasts, Tim Ferriss shared his 5 morning rituals. I found this particularly insightful and validating, as it’s very similar to My Carpe Diem Morning Ritual. Establishing a morning ritual has been a powerful, success-propelling force in my life. And it’s wonderful to know that I’m in good company.

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    Tim Ferriss’ 5 Morning Rituals

    1. Make the bed
    The first thing that Tim does when he wakes up is that he makes his bed. (This is something I need to incorporate.)

    Why it’s effective:

    • Gives you a sense of control, no matter what else happens that day.
    • Start your day on the right foot. Plus, you come back to that accomplishment at the end of the day.
    • Creates an organized environment that limits distraction.

    “If you see distraction externally, you end up creating an internally distracted state.” – Tim Ferriss

    2. Meditation
    Tim does 21 minutes of transcendental meditation every morning (one minute to get settled and twenty minutes of actual meditation). He also emphasizes the fact that meditation is a common routine among almost every ultra-successful person he’s spoken with.

    Why it’s effective:

    • Clears your mind
    • Strengthens how you deal with distraction
    • Tim states that he gets 30-50% more done on the days he meditates. I can attest to this phenomenon as well.

    For more about meditation, read my Introduction to Meditation.

    3. Hanging
    He hangs from a pullup bar for a few minutes.

    Why it’s effective:

    • Decompresses the spine
    • Improves grip strength

    4. Tea
    Tim makes what he jokingly refers to as “titanium tea.”

    Why it’s effective:

    • Caffeine (And it benefits like cognitive enhancement and alertness)
    • It tastes good

    5. 5 Minute Journal
    The last part of Tim Ferriss’ routine is writing in his 5 Minute Journal, which I personally use as well.

    Why it’s effective:

    • Helps you focus on your most important tasks for the day
    • Cultivates gratitude

    Check out the podcast HERE.

    So there you have it. You don’t necessarily have to copy Tim or myself, but these habits will give you an idea of ways to help you win the day.

    READER CHALLENGE: Pick one ritual and start it tomorrow morning.

    “Make each day your masterpiece.” – John Wooden

    Stay feelin’ good feelin’ great.

    – Stevie P!

    *I’m not sure if “prerequisitory” is even a word, but it sounds cool and gets the point across.

    1

    12 Signs That You Need More Freedom

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    Freedom is a tricky term. It’s a word that has been dragged through the muddy waters of assorted interpretations and biases for some time now. I could write a book philosophizing about what freedom is and what it entails…

    But instead, I’ll share a simple definition that I found fairly accurate and useful: Freedom – Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. (Dictionary.com)

    With that being said, we won’t find absolute freedom (in this reality, at least). Limitation is just a part of the game here on Earth. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have more relative freedom than what we’re experiencing now. Perfection is unattainable but we strive for continuous improvement. That’s what we do as humans. That’s what life is all about.

    Some of us are finding that we deeply feel fulfilled by more freedom. Not more money (although this could be a means to more freedom), not a bigger house, not a comfortable, safe job…etc. Those things may make some people happy, but this post is for the free spirits, those of you who yearn for freedom from the depths of your being. Those of you who recognize that something feels absent when you politely nod your head and swallow orders; knowing that deep down, your heart doesn’t agree.

    Tame birds sing about freedom. Wild birds fly.

    12 Signs That You Need More Freedom

    1. You don’t like being told where and when to be somewhere – Instead of feeling like you have to be somewhere (think work), you prefer to determine where you want to be. You live by your own instincts, which usually don’t coincide with rigid, predetermined group models of time and location.

    2. You value your time – You thrive off of prioritizing your time and doing things that are in your best interest. You enjoy being able to choose who you spend time around. Having to participate in time-consuming activities that are disharmonious with your goals makes you uneasy to say the least.

    3. You prefer to create your own schedule – You’re independent and self-sufficient. You’re in tune with your natural rhythms. You know when you’re most productive and how to leverage your own unique “body clock.”

    4. You trust yourself – You have faith in yourself to make the right decisions. You have confidence in your own inner judgment and intuition. You don’t need someone else dictating what you can and cannot do.

    5. You think for yourself – You’re an individual who celebrates a unique world view. You have trouble aligning all of your thoughts, beliefs and actions with a one-size-fits-all group structure.

    6. You’re self-motivated – You don’t need people to tell you what to do. You’re driven and productive by your own accord.

    7. You’re spontaneous – You live in the moment and by your own intuitive guidance. You don’t like planning every minute of your life. You would rather go with the flow of the moment. The idea having to get approval for vacation time months in advance is ludicrous to you.

    8. You cringe at being inauthentic – You just don’t feel right when you compromise who you are. You can’t feign enthusiasm. You struggle to put on a fake smile. You don’t want to make borderline (or blatantly) unethical decisions based on orders from others.

    9. You question authority – You don’t accept anything at face value. You don’t blindly take orders out of fear, you would rather act on things you truly believe in. You question everything, even the fundamental beliefs that society is based upon. A passionately curious mind cannot be relegated to a state of confinement.

    10. You don’t take yourself too seriously – You have a sense of humor. You laugh deeply and genuinely when something is funny. You’re not overly serious. Being “professional” and politically correct feels like you’re suppressing your inner child. You often ask questions like “Why does everyone have to be so serious all of the time?”

    11. You’re highly creative – People who are highly creative have trouble staying inside of the box. Artistic freedom is paramount. So if you’re a creative person working in a job that doesn’t allow you to express your inherent creativity, you will constantly feel stifled and unfulfilled.

    12. You have no desire to control other people or be controlled – Live and let live, this is the crux of freedom.

    And you don’t have to be a single twenty something to attain more freedom (although that does help). You can make all of it work if you’re married with kids as well.

    This idea of freedom will look differently for everyone (and is intimately connected with work and money in today’s society). For some people, they might be happy with a traditional, corporate office job. For others it might be working for a more innovative and flexible company, or manual labor, or some form of freelance work or entrepreneurship. For others it might even be checking out of society entirely and living off the grid. It’s all unique to each individual. Find out what more freedom would look like for you.

    I personally fall somewhere around the freelance/entrepreneurial part of the spectrum, which is why I’m writing this post. It’s become glaringly obvious to me that the traditional, corporate office structure is absolutely antithetical to my intrinsic nature. I’m actively taking steps in the direction of more freedom (more on that soon) and I already feel as though a weight is being lifted off my shoulders.

    Remember, we came here to be free.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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