These are stories from the life of Steven Barnes, science fiction writer, martial arts expert, hypnotherapist, teacher, public speaker, father, and lover of life.

Bless their hearts

I remember seeing a girl crying at a science fiction convention.  I approached her gently and we began to speak.  I don’t remember the content of the conversation, but I know she stopped crying, and laughed, and seemed better. Many years later, I found out she was the niece of a friend.  Even later, she told me that I was the only man who had ever helped her without wanting sex in return.


I don’t like politics.     I respond to the world from my instincts and feelings, informed by my intellect and perceptions.   I get criticized all the time because I don’t accept THIS political position about race or racism, or THAT position about gender and sexism.  Not my responsibility.  My only responsibility is to be true to myself, and to tell the truth about the world I see, and to be happy and spread joy.  Do I sometimes bend over backwards to see the good in people?  No more than I do to see the good in my own heart.


I’ve fucked up, friends.  Hurt people.  Burned ants with a magnifying glass like every other kid, until it hit me one day that those ants were living things.  Trapped butterflies in our old Studebaker to toast them until I realized they could feel pain.  Swung kittens by their paws until I realized they felt fear.


At some point, it CLICKS IN and you start seeing yourself in others.  They have feelings to. You feel your own blood pulsing in their veins.  It is transformative, and from that point on, you cannot deliberately and capriciously hurt ants or butterflies or kittens or people without being an evil thing.  You are no longer DOING evil…you are BEING evil. An enormous difference to me.


We all DO evil things from time to time in our lives, but if we ever awaken and realize what we’re doing, and continue to do it, we ARE evil.


Only if you’ve done your work, and rarely even then.  No, its about you, and the person in the mirror.  WE are the problem. There’s no one out there.


There is nothing more absurd than people fighting on Facebook, arguing about how the politicians in Washington are these corrupt monsters who never get anything done. Don’t they notice how difficult it is to get consensus on the simplest things once you are dealing with a person with an opposing position?   Don’t they grasp that if THEY held the reins of power, they would be just as inefficient and  excoriated?


Not to say there aren’t sleepers, snakes, and monsters. Oh yes.   But the monsters need us to be at each others’ throats.  For the sheepdogs to fight among themselves while the wolves steal lambs.


If men cannot understand women, and women not understand men, the only possible conclusion is that those who cannot are blind.   We live amongst each other.  EVERYONE knows someone of the opposite sex. Everyone.   Without exception.   The only possible answer is that those who don’t grasp the humanity are blind to their own emotions, cut off from their own strength or softness.  You need BOTH to be a human being, but we have agreed to specialize for the sake of efficiency.  In the 21st Century, in a world of automatic weapons, machines, and birth control, the artificial differences between male and female are being reduced.


What we are left with is the realization that we are they, and they are us.


Love yourself.  Love one other person.


Could the Harvey Weinsteins of the world do what they do if they really loved themselves? Really knew how to love another human being? Really SAW others?


I think not.  Maybe he is a monster, who sees, and does not care.   But he may also simply be a twisted, stunted, broken man on a level that is difficult to see through the surface charm and intelligence and success.


Would he want someone to treat his mother that way?  His sister?  His daughter?  Yes?  He is a monster.


No? Then he lacks that crucial capacity to extend his own humanity to others.  He may think to himself “hey, if all I had to do to get ahead was fuck someone, I’d do it in a heartbeat!”  without realizing that to believe this, and act upon it,  he has to have deleted countless screams and struggles and protests.  There is no way for him to be simply asleep: it happened too many times.   He may be a snake.  It is not the fault of a snake to be born venomous.


But there is a part of me that thinks he may well be beyond that category. Too much deliberate planning. Too much corruption of others to support his actions. Too much convenient denial and leaning on the ‘I’ll go to rehab!” trope that really means: “I’ll manipulate you into forgiving me, sucker.”


No. For the sake of our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, it is safest to do a bit of “mind reading” here and assume he is a monster.   It simply isn’t safe to assume him even a snake.


Come little girl.  I am the guardian of the gate to all you dream of. All you have to do is exchange the most precious thing in the world, the path to the creation of life, everything you were ever taught was beyond rubies, and let me treat it like used Kleenex. Then you can have that career.


But you will never, ever be able to feel that you earned that success through your heart and soul and talent. I will always be leering at you from the other side of the spotlights, sniggering and whispering and telling my drunken buddies what you did to get that role.  I’ll know. They’ll know.


And YOU’LL know.  


I’ll own you..


And Satan took Jesus to the mountaintop and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and said, all this and more can you have, if only you bow before me…


Get on your knees, bitch.



I am beyond anger about these things.  Human beings have been exploiting their power for their own gain forever.    Men do it their way, women do it theirs.   The problem is a human one, and no, I won’t take sides.


But if you touch my sister, my daughter, my mother and hurt them, shame them, I want you to know that they are under my protection.  Yes, I train them to protect themselves.  Want them to clarify what they would die for, and be prepared to blind a predator who will not respect them.


I like the IMAGE of the European knight.   Not the historical reality, but the image. All of that martial skill, and the sword, and the lance, and the armor, and the fiery steed and lethal intent.   But all of that aggression was supposed to be:  “At your service, m’lady.”


That is the image in my heart, that I swore to live up to.  I don’t always succeed. But that is what is there.


And here’s the bad news: EVERY woman is my sister, my daughter, my mother.   Yes, I’m an asshole. No, I don’t play politics and will say what I see.  But when the rubber meets the road, the fact that a girl can tell me I’m the ONLY man who ever helped her without asking for sex makes me want to vomit.  Yes, I once burned ants and butterflies, and swung kittens by the paws, and didn’t understand.  Just…didn’t understand.


And then woke up, and saw myself in them.  It costs us to awaken.   Means that we have to deal with the fact that we don’t have the right to do as we wish to others. That we are EVIL if we treat human beings as means rather than ends.


But…we cannot really love ourselves, or anyone else, if we don’t treat every human being as an end in herself.


Be gentle with others, and you can be gentle with yourself.  Love others, and you can love yourself.   Protect the children of the world, and you can protect the child within you.  Protect the women of the world, and you can protect the feminine within your heart.  And ladies? If you don’t see the implications about protecting the masculine, you are sleeping too.


The kingdoms of the world are made of shit if you have to trade your soul for them. And you are a monster if you ask another to do what would be wrong for you, or your own family, assuming that you manage enough humanity to care about THEM.


I remember a documentary about “The Iceman”, a professional hitman who killed without remorse.  Even he managed emotion about his own family, his own children. Maybe it was pretend emotion.  Just putting on the mask of caring because it serves him to do so.   In which case he is an alien.  A total monster.


Or maybe he is damaged in some way it is hard to see, so broken that he cannot connect with that space.  FUNCTIONALLY THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. We can empathize with the child he once was before whatever happened to him happened, but if that damage had occurred to me, and I saw what I was doing in the world…I would want someone to kill me if I could not be healed.


I believe that any unwarped soul would feel the same.   It would be a blessing to be stopped.


So… while I cannot approve of a death penalty wielded by society, when it comes to the monsters of the world,  those who would hurt my daughters and sisters and mother,   I am sorely tempted to say what my Southern sisters say….


Bless their hearts.





Never Quit

When you admit you want something, inability to have it will cause pain.   You will then either put that pain into working harder, or you will let it shut you down.

In my early days of martial arts training, I had great success, taking 2nd place at the National Korean Karate championships in 1972.  I was feeling froggy. Then I saw Steve (Sanders) Muhammad at the Martial Arts Expo in  1974. The speed, power and precision of his motion in a “Mass Attack” skit were devastating. And just as impressive was the fact that despite all the chaos, he never seemed to hurt anyone.   Knees, elbows, palms, fists…all flying with unbelievable speed, focusing within a half-inch of the faces, groins, knees and skulls of the four young men attacking him with no evidence of actual contact or damage.

Steve Sanders_001.jpg

(I knew I was looking at something special.   In later years I was actually one of those four attackers, and rather than practicing exhaustively, Steve just told us: “Come at me.”   Unreal. And yes, I felt his palms and foot-scoops impacting with a loving precision that was beyond anything I’ve ever seen since, like Aikido randori taken to some strange and alien level of mastery.   Unreal.  I digress).


One day I was in the BKF school on Crenshaw boulevard (across the street from Jim Kelly’s school with ‘Black Belt Jones’ in a karate pose above the window. Another story) when a kid, maybe fourteen years old, asked me to spar.  “Sure,” I said. And…


He totally kicked my ass. I mean I couldn’t touch him. He just…smoked me. And then strutted around bragging “I beat a man!!”


And…it broke something inside my head.   Suddenly, I was right back in junior high school, getting my ass kicked by Rudy or Mark or Bryce.   I’d never learned anything. I’d never BE anything.  Logic fell apart and I fell into an abyss, the gap between the ego I’d developed to protect me and my actual feelings about myself.


(To be fair, that fourteen year old was Alvin Prouder, who later became Welterweight Champion of the World. It had been like playing a duet with Baby Mozart.  No contest.)


Years later, a young black belt sat quietly next to me and asked “when will I stop being afraid?” and I had no answer. And about six months later…he killed himself.

That “gap” will kill you.   Yes, you have to “throw your hat over the fence”, move forward on faith dragging your real sense of self behind you trying to catch up.  If the “gap” is too large, the inevitable disappointments are shattering.   Killing your body will seem less painful than watching your ego-shell crumble.  If it is too short, your lack of daring and ambition will kill your dreams.   Being pessimistic can  your life as much as being  “too optimistic.”


For the next years I dropped out of that school, started up somewhere else, got better until the senior students wanted to work with me, and I got scared and dropped out again, repeating that cycle again and again and again.  Unable to quit.  Unable to move forward. I remember one day leaving a Levi jacket in a school and being terrified to go back and get it, for fear someone would  ask me to fight.


Trapped in the “gap.”   I remember driving down La Brea avenue, tears streaming down my face, begging God to either give me the strength to go forward, or the wisdom and clarity to quit. I could just quit.   Couldn’t I?  Why keep beating myself up, banging my head against the wall?


Because somewhere, on some level, I knew that if I quit, I would never know who I was.  Never find my true strength.  Always be afraid.


I went from instructor to coach to therapist to guru to sensei to sifu, begging them to help.  No one did.  I remember sitting in front of a famous Kenpo teacher named Larry Tatum, baring my soul, and asking for help. He stared at me and said: “have you read my book?”  Yeah, I had. Nothing there.


Being sent to Fred “Dr. Squat” Hatfield, a fabulous strength athlete known for his master of the “inner game” of iron, interviewing him for Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness magazine, and taking the opportunity to ask him if he knew how to help me.  He was wise and kind, hooked me into a biofeedback machine, and got me to visualize the problem situation, then relax.


It didn’t help.


Not his fault.  This poison went deep.   For over a decade I struggled with this, SOMEHOW, somehow, keeping faith that if I kept pushing, kept going, kept sweating and bleeding and crying and feeling like I wanted to vomit every time I walked in the door…


That some day I would be on the “other side” of the problem.



And then one day, I asked my fateful question for the thousandth time, with no hope that there was an answer.  Asked it of a man named Terry Lettau, a Shorei-Chito Ryu instructor who taught in his garage.  And for the very first time, I got an answer.   He spoke with such clarity and simplicity that I was stunned.  I tried what he suggested, and…and…


In about a month, something happened.   I…shifted.   I saw who and what I was, and what the problem had been, so clearly that it was devastating.  I was stunned, and asked him “where in the hell had he learned that technique?”


He pointed me toward a man named Harley “Swift Deer” Reagan, a martial arts master who also taught spiritual practices and sexual magic. I sought out Harley (definitely one of My Most Unforgettable Characters), and through him met extraordinary people like Dawn Callan and Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari, and learned to connect the physical with the spiritual in a way that made sense of everything I’d learned before, opening the door to a personal evolution I’d craved all my life…


In an instant. In a single conversation, everything changed.


There really is “another side” to the walls you’ve run into.   There really are answers. But you have to keep going, keep asking, keep moving.  Keep the faith.  Otherwise you’ll stop, until the pain gets too bad, at which time you will move forward. Until you reach the point where faith is required. And devolve.


Forward and back, and forward and back, until you run out of life, and energy, and lie to yourself and say you never wanted it in the first place.  A horrible lie. A terrible place to live out the rest of your life, pretending you didn’t want more.



Some forget about finding soul mates.  Others despair of fighting for the career they deserve. And then another group never connects mind and heart with body to produce a natural animal grace and function.   They never saw the honor and joy in the process, in keeping FAITH with the childhood dreams, in honoring the wisdom of their Elder self which says: “no matter how small you live, death will not ignore you.”


You want it.  On some level you KNOW you want love, and success, and the kind of body that you yourself are attracted to.   And you KNOW when you lie to yourself, and that lie will cost you more than you can imagine.


Tell the truth.  Find the people who have achieved your goals.  Ask the question. Take the action.  Over and over and over.   Realize you are fighting for your childhood dreams, and that NOTHING is more important.


Never quit.





What can you do in five minutes?


I think we’ve all been “down” at times.    Other than chemical, clinical depression (for which you should seek a doctor’s help) our emotions can simply be balled into a knot.   Remember the discussion of violence, anger and fear.   Much violence stems from anger, and anger is the way we mobilize fear.    We are never angry about things we are happy to have happen to ourselves, our loved ones, the people we empathize with.  Remove the negative stimulus, you remove the angry response.


About twenty-two years ago my first marriage dissolved, and I was alone in a strange state with no friends, separated from my family, my career damaged.  All I had was a bed, a television set, my dog, and a gun.


Not a great combination.   For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could want to commit suicide. I wasn’t over the waterfall, but I could damned sure hear the rapids.  I was losing myself, that sense of “Steve” that had sustained me all my life. And trapped there, the walls closing in, I got another of my “cubic inches of opportunity.”


I asked: “what would I tell one of my students to do?”


The conclusion was: “answer the question: Who Am I?”


But how could I do that?  I felt lost.   And in that darkness was an inspiration: “I don’t know who I am” I thought.  “But I do know what I’m attracted to.”


I could use that.    I decided on a tactic: to define clearly, on paper, EXACTLY what I was attracted to in a woman.  Everything I desired and needed.   The notion was that if this was what I wanted, then what I wanted was to be the kind of man who would attract a woman like THAT.


All I had to do was find women close to what I described, get them to talk to me about what they wanted, and I’d have the path clarified.   What happened next took months, led to the creation of the SOULMATE PROCESS, and eventually meeting and bonding with Tananarive.




It is critical to understand that.   Our emotions are controlled by three things:

  1. How we move
  2. What we focus on
  3. The words we say.


The instant I focused on an answer, I was taking my mind off the problem.  My spirit lifted. There are two potential “Five Minute Life Hacks” to be extracted here:


  1. Focus on what you  want to be, have, and do with your life, so that you can think of the good to come, rather than the current negative situation. You are CHANGING FOCUS.
  2. Write out the qualities you desire in a partner.   What your heart yearns for is complementary to your own self image.  You are CHANGING LANGUAGE.   You might not be able to change the words in your head, but you can control what you say or write.
  3. Integrate the things you learn above into your MORNING  RITUAL.   Once you have integrated the “Five Minute Miracle” into your schedule, the next step is definitely a full Morning Ritual, moving with power while focusing and chanting affirmations.


You know darned well that if you spent twenty minutes a day crying, moping, and saying negative things about your life it would poison your day.    It works in reverse, too. IT WORKS POSITIVELY, TOO.


Starting with just five minutes.   Yes, you will hit walls. Everyone does.  YOUR job is to define what you want then generate the emotions that will allow you to take the actions that bring your desires into your life.


WHAT DO YOU WANT is the goal.

WHY DO YOU WANT IT is the emotions.   These are the first two steps.  After that, you can focus on the “how”. The “to do.”


With Jason, we have a FIVE MINUTE ACHIEVEMENT CHECK which, IF he can do it perfectly, would teach him focus, emotional control, and the strategies necessary to succeed in school.  That means that every day we can get him to do it, he is taking a step along the route to a happy future.


WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?  “Happiness” is the simplest meaningful answer. Everything else is the ROUTE to happiness, the route to this ultimate goal.


Why should Jason do his homework?  So long as he does it to escape pain, he is associating pain with them. So at the least, we have to put pain on one end, and pleasure on the other.  Punishment AND reward.


Ideally, he will start to associate study with success and pleasure.  But…we then have to deal with his self-image.  These actions will change him. His old self image will feel threatened, will react with anger and fear.


If you’ve ever wanted to know why it is so difficult to make basic changes, there it is.




This is where we start: convincing you that it is possible.   To do a “Morning Ritual” for at least five minutes every morning.  To commit to doing it for seven days. During those seven days, use the “Five minute miracle” to check on your mood. Every time you find yourself in a negative space, you have sixty seconds to shift back to the positive, using your breathing.  If you do, great.  But if you can’t, START THE SEVEN DAYS OVER AGAIN.


You will find that these two things, in just seven days, can shift you so that you will have one of the happiest, most productive weeks of your life.


But YOU have to do it.  You have to find something inside yourself to believe in, that you are willing to fight for. If you are so beaten-down that you cannot, I strongly suggest professional help. Don’t play with your life.


But if you can manage this, you can move on to powerful tools like THE ANCIENT CHILD and HEARTBEAT MEDITATION.


But the foundation is just five minutes for seven days.  If you can do that…you can change everything.





(P.S.–I’m doing another Webinar on the FIVE MINUTE ACHIEVEMENT CHECK for your student/child tonight at 7pm Pacific.  It will be on my FB page:


If you have a kid to help, or want a sense of how much can be accomplished in just five minutes…join us!

Wedges and Webs

Tananarive boggles me, really. She just does what she does, and it can often look like nothing is happening, and then BANG, everyone from Entertainment Weekly and TMZ and BET are talking about her UCLA class, and opportunities are coming from unexpected directions.   Powerful.    Unpredictable.   It fits into the M.A.G.I.C. formula, but because its coming from my peripheral vision, it just stuns me.  I think there is a primary difference between “male” and “female” energies in this sense, and I talked to her about “wedges” and “webs” this morning.  I need to think about this more, but there may be something important.


The “RPM” “Rapid Planning Method” also calls itself a “Results focused, Purpose driven, Massive Action plan”.    And it is in the “Five Minute Life Hacks” system because I think we can produce an adult version of the “Five Minute Achievement Plan” for students.


What can I see happening in that program for Jason?



This morning, he woke up early, took his shower,and got dressed. All perfection. Then…he “crashed” just before we were starting our Five Minute ritual at 8:00.  Why? I don’t know, but it is reasonable to assume that he is dealing with massive fear, inertia, doubt.   And this isn’t even factoring the reality that some days you just regress.


It is simply impossible to progress toward a life-changing goal in a straight line.  There are ALWAYS set-backs.


But what I had to do was keep my own fear (for his future, for his “flaunting my authority”) and keep my voice mild, my expression pleasant, my words loving even as he curled up on the couch and refused to come to the table.    Fear. Fatigue.  Confusion.


If he had defined himself partially as someone with behaviors and capacities “X” (bad student, independent and blasé), and I am asking him to be “Y” (open, honest, good student, trusting) there will be chaos. Fear.   He KNOWS who he is now. But…who is this other person? And if he starts to care, and fails, won’t that hurt more?


I see the precise same thing with any number of other human issues: poverty, ignorance, obesity, loneliness, personal safety, and more.   “If I take personal responsibility, won’t it just hurt more if I fail?”


Yeah, it will. But if you DON’T  care you are 100% certain to fail.  Your only hope is to take action, and for that, you have to have more POSITVE emotions associated with action than NEGATIVE emotions.  Otherwise you won’t act.


You have to have…faith.


CHALLENGE: To be a good student.

CONFLICT: He looks at his past, and it says he is not.

ACCEPTANCE:  He is presented with a challenge: for five minutes a day, to have hope. To trust.

THE ROAD OF TRIALS: Five days a week, he spends this five minutes.

ALLIES AND POWERS: His own intelligence and energy. His parents. Teachers.  Any co-students with ambition and clarity.

CONFRONT EVIL-FAIL: Bad test results reinforce the negative self-image.  He falls back on “I need to do it my way!” even if “my way” doesn’t work, because anything else is mysterious and dangerous.

DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL: Curling up on the couch.  Not wanting to face the negative test.

LEAP OF FAITH: Loving parents gently encourage him to spend just five minutes looking at the test.

CONFRONT EVIL-SUCCEED: He needed to split his attention between an Iphone  game and the morning work, but came to see that he had made a consistent mistake, and once identified, he could solve any of the problems.

STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER:  He MUST become his own teacher.  One day, he will be able to teach others. But right now, the development of “executive function”, things like syntax, and emotional control, and realistic expectations.


This will take many, many repetitions of the basic program.    I’d say that he shouldn’t expect any visible change for 6 weeks, any real change for 100 days, or any lasting imprinted results for a year.   So WE have to be the “Executive Function” for him. We have to have the faith that he don’t have.


And that, of course, is assuming that we’re on the right track. If not, we’ll try something else, and then something else, and then something else…until we succeed.


His greatest danger, then, is EXCESSIVE OPTIMISM.  Such that when something goes wrong (bad test results) he then crashes into despair.  This is EXACTLY like the obese, or poor, or lonely person who tries a “quick fix” for a lifelong problem.  “I TRIED a diet.  It didn’t work!”  “I TRIED to get a job/save money.  It didn’t work.”  “I TRIED a date.  It didn’t work!”


All of these issues yield to slow, careful movement over time. But the part of you that doesn’t want to change will trick you: you can lose because you have NO faith, or because you are OVERLY OPTIMISTIC, setting yourself up for failure, which then “proves” that you can’t do it…


Man, our egos are sneaky.


The point of the “101 Five Minute Life Hacks” is to take very simple steps like the “Five Minute Achievement Check”, and “The Five Minute Miracle” and “A sentence a day” and “The Ancient Child” and say…wait a #$%% minute.  Can it really be boiled down that far?  What if it can?


What is the shortest period that might actually help?    I say…a week.  6-7 days.  Thirty minutes minimum.    If I’m right (and I’m betting I am, based on ten years of research) then anyone who is willing to trust me for just 30 minutes CAN LEARN FOR THEMSELVES if I’m bluffing.


And if I’m not…if the hundreds of people who have tried this approach are correct…then all that has happened is that fifty years of research has finally opened a new door.  I can’t push you through it.


With Jason, I need to take all the love, all the trust, all the faith that he has and get him to give me just five minutes every morning.  He WILL backslide. It is inevitable. But I believe in him.


As I believe in you.  In US. That there really are small secrets and investments of time that can make massive differences.


Can you spend just thirty minutes to find out if I’m for real?  Pretty please?   I’ve made the first step as easy as I can: A free seven-day version of the 101 day program.   Free, guys.



The next step is yours.





Evaluating Damage

I am going to be deliberately oblique here, so as not to fall into a politicized rut.


In a recent conversation about a specific crime, I was asked if I believed in the death penalty. I do not, as I don’t trust society with that level of power over a human life.    The other person thought that the death penalty was appropriate for Crime X, as there is no other way to be certain it will not happen again.


When I repeated my disagreement, I was asked how I WOULD punish Crime X.  I said that off the top of my head, I thought that whatever the punishment for, say, cutting off someone’s arm was, that might be equivalent.


I was asked how I came to that decision.   While admitting that I don’t know what that punishment is (about 10 years?) I figure that the point at which 50% of people would prefer X to Y, “Y” being a carefully scaled series of alternatives, you’ve found the rough equivalent, and know what the punishment should be.  Would you rather X or have your wallet taken?   Wallet?  X or have your bank account emptied.  Emptied?  X or your finger broken.  Wrist. Arm.  Blinded in one eye. Both eyes.  Arm cut off…

Ding ding ding! We have a winner.   At least 50% of people would prefer X to having their arm cut off.

See where this is going?  You let people decide at what point they would rather accept X than the alternative damage. Whatever that is, whatever the punishment for doing the alternative becomes reasonable to apply to X.


That’s the way I think.  Was, for instance, slavery worse than death? Apparently not, because MOST slaves didn’t commit suicide.  I let people demonstrate their actual values to me, and then I believe that demonstration.  This doesn’t endear me to people who want to place infinite value on their personal wounds.  Nor those who want to value the damage they have done to people far more cheaply than do  the victims.


But it seems to me fair to let the victims decide the value of the damage WITH THEIR ACTIONS, not their politics.




Need Permission to thrive? Here it @#$$ is.

There is nothing, no reward, not sex or money or fame or fitness…that is worth losing
yourself for. Giving up who you are. That is your real power in life, to shed your mask
and just…be who you are. You’ll know you’ve shed the mask when you feel lighter, more
energetic and spontaneous and like “you could do this all day.” Creativity, aliveness, joy
all streaming out, and while you take shit from no one, you feel love for all. All you have
to do it commit to being yourself, and then spend your life discovering and expressing
that wonderful thing. Contributing all you can to the world, giving others permission to
do the same.
So…just in case you need it, today, and for the rest of your life, I give YOU
permission to be yourself.
You are enough. If no one ever told you that…and you needed someone to say it, I just
did. And if  your demons and pretender voices wanna fight, I got three black belts, I’m
sixty-five year old, and I ain’t gonna be sixty-four next year.   Life is not a dress rehearsal,
and I’ve got no more fucks  to give.
Bring it on.
Let’s all go to the next level. Together.

The Morning Ritual

THE FOLLOWING IS AN ADAPTATION OF THE MAILING LIST MATERIAL.  IT IS MY COMMITMENT TO GIVE YOU EVERYTHING I CAN, AND EVERYTHING BASIC THAT YOU NEED HERE ON WORDPRESS.   Got a lot more for you.  A phenomenal amount more. The results of FIFTY YEARS of research, teaching, testing.   The “101” is just the cream of all of that.  Trying to get everything out of my heart and out into Cyberspace. At least a year of work.      But…I think I can open your mind to the potential in a week.


The free seven day program is designed to give you the basic building blocks to believe that you can make serious change in five minutes if you have the right strategies.  The “Five minute/Seven Days” is just the minimum buy-in.

I CAN’T DRAG THE MOTIVATION OUT OF YOU.  I’m not a motivator.  I’m a philosopher interested in how human beings can be healthy, happy, loving, contributing, awake, aware adults.

Quite a mouthful…but if you can commit just thirty minutes, half an hour…five minutes a day for six days minimum…You can discover whether I’m “full of it” for yourself. You’ll believe. Then we can roll up our sleeves and get to work.


So now you have basic breathing (Be Breathed), how to apply it to end the negative effects of stress (5MM),  an understanding of ONE way you can organize five minutes to drastically improve daily efficiency (Five Minute Achievement Check) for kids, another way to improve it for adults (RPM), and the simplest, shortest exercise that still provides maximum benefits (Joint Mobility) for health, which is more important than “fitness” but often neglected.


The next is the “Daily Ritual”–we’re putting all this together.  This is done for 5-20 minutes, preferably in the morning, or at night.  If I was in an emergency, and needed to change FAST?  I’d do it morning AND night.


We’ll go into the “M.A.G.I.C.” formula more later, but I want to mention it here:


Magic =

Action X

Gratitude X

Intention X



Magic equals Action times Gratitude times Intention times Conviction.  That means that you need to know:


The ACTIONS you will take on a daily basis.

The Things you are already GRATEFUL for in life.

Your INTENTIONS (goals and outcomes) on a short and long term basis.

Your CONVICTION (faith) that you CAN and SHOULD take these actions and have these results.


Got it?  Now, this can be very difficult if you have a hard time loving and believing in yourself.    So there will be “Pretender voices” in your head, and you may feel like an idiot while you do it. That’s o.k.  Fake it until you make it. We’ll work on helping you access the most powerful positive emotions–you have them, somewhere in your memory.  And just as I still “flinch” when I think about blowing my lines in the school play when I was seven, I still smile when I think about my first REAL kiss, with a girl named Daphnaia, when I was fourteen.    She had a roll of Certs, you see, and I asked her for one, and she gave it to me in the best possible way…

See?  I’m smiling right NOW!

So for these few minutes every day, you are going to shift your emotions, focus, and physical energies so that they are all aligned to accomplish your goals.   Your ONE BIG GOAL should be simple: to perform your MORNING  RITUAL with impeccability.  ONE BIG GOAL.  If you do this thing, these five minutes, you can change your entire life.   Focus ALL your attention on these 300 second.


  1. WHILE MOVING VIGOROUSLY (walking, running, rebounding, Tai Chi, Joint Mobility, etc)
  2. Chant OUT LOUD and focus on the following in the following Order the  pieces of the “M.A.G.I.C.” formula
    1. An affirmation of CONVICTION about  your increasing ability/capacity.   SAMPLE: “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better” is a classic.  Find your own.
    2. An affirmation of GRATITUDE for your past and current blessings.  SAMPLE “I’m SO grateful  for the people who love me and trust me…(name them)”
    3. An affirmation of gratitude for the successful completion of your INTENTIONS short and long term.  SAMPLE:  “I’m SO grateful I was able to help so many people today.  SO grateful for the ten new clients this week…” See it and feel it with the same certainty you have for the things in your past.
    4. An affirmation of CONVICTION that you have everything you need to accomplish your aims with joy.   SAMPLE:   “All I need is within me now. All the energy I need is within me now.  All the commitment I need is within me now…”  etc.   Find your own.


If you know what you need to do TODAY to have a good week, this week to have a good month, this month to have a good year…all you have to focus on is THIS FIVE MINUTES and you set up the first domino.

Make sense?   Are you starting to see how this works?

You may not be able to affect the events of the external world, but if you can do THIS you can control your emotions and actions, and that will start having a great effect, over time.


That’s the beginning.   Take it and run!





An example of why I’m optimistic…

Want to know why I believe the South is changing regarding racism, and for the better?  I’ve criticized it in the past, and it is only fair to mention an instance of why I believe it is healing…


This happened in a Southern State…


A martial artist I know, a man of mature years, call him William, was standing in a bank to cash a check.    Everyone in the bank was black.   Except for two  young customers ahead of him in line, one of whom  began loudly complaining about “all the niggers” in the bank, taking over the bank, and how it had been ruined thereby.


William looked around in shock.  The tellers pretended not to hear. The other customers were nervous.  Some began crying. The security guard pretended not to hear.


So…William walked up to the man, and punched him.  Just once. Dropped him like a rock.

Broke his jaw.

When the police arrived minutes later, the guy was still unconscious.  White cops, I might say.   William was thinking “oh crap. Oh shit.  What have I done?”   They looked at the man on the floor, talked to the customers, then  looked at William, and asked what had happened.

Without blinking, William said: “he was making a terrorist threat.”


The two cops looked at each other ….AND ARRESTED THE MAN ON THE FLOOR.


Get that?


A week later, the guy’s brother in law, a county sheriff, called William.   AND ASKED HIM IF HE WANTED TO PRESS CHARGES.


Are we seeing this picture?  These men were very clearly seeing the situation FROM WILLIAM’S POINT OF VIEW. They extended their own humanity.  They may or may not have wanted William’s son to marry their daughter. But they damned well knew the guy with the broken jaw was in the wrong.


They wanted NOTHING to do with supporting Brokejaw’s perspective or behavior.  Were looking for a way to let the old guy who had clocked the young bigot go free.  They’d taken sides. The right side.


You know, if your grandfather kills someone, it is not your sin.   If you help him bury the body, it is.

These guys weren’t helping to bury the body.


Wow.  LOVE that story.   I cannot imagine this happening fifty years ago.  Just…can’t.  Maybe if they knew William PERSONALLY. Good things happen between human beings who get to know each other.  But when it just…happens?


That’s healing. Good for the cops, and the Sheriff…

And William, of course.   One punch.    Heh heh.




Good Lord Willin’ and the River don’t rise…I’m ready to change the world.


About ten years ago, I returned to California from a decade in the Northwest.  I figured that I would pick up the pieces of my career and barrel forward.  I got some bad news:

My beloved agent, Jonathan Westover told me that in the time I’d been gone, that the structure of Hollywood had changed, and they were no longer buying scripts from freelancers–it was all done by staff. And that they didn’t hire anyone over 40 for staff positions! I was 55.


Worse…he was retiring from the business, and that made me an orphan, without decent representation.  I realized I’d moved my family to the most expensive part of the country with little means of supporting them.   Tamping down the panic, I focused on what I could do, day by day: care for my family, keep my body healthy, write, and seek openings and opportunities.   It took SIX YEARS, but I managed to piece together enough work to move, one step at a time, toward healing the damage.   I had just created the “Tacfit Warrior” program with Scott Sonnon, finished a stint at BET as story editor, gotten an animation agent, and started feeling that maybe I’d survive…


And then Tananarive’s mother in Florida was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and everything went out the window. My entire life plan, from childhood, was DESTROYED.  I was lost. The ONLY thing I knew was that I loved my family. I had lost my sense of self, and lost the plan of action that had carried me all my life…but I knew I loved them.   I remember at one point curling up on the floor, sobbing my eyes out, no idea how I was going to survive…


But I loved my family.  My son.  My wife, who was just doing what a good daughter is supposed to do: comfort her mother in her final days.   I was ripped to shreds with self-pity and despair.


But…I loved my family. I KNEW that.  I had NO DOUBT of that.  I was willing to die for them.

The question was…was I willing to step out of the wreckage of my dreams and LIVE for them?


Yes, I was…but HOW?   WHAT COULD I DO?


What I could do was have FAITH that there was a way through this, even if I couldn’t see it.  Faith.   I could take another step, just one more step…if I had enough faith.  In myself. In my family. In God, or the divine order of the universe, or The Force, dammit. Something bigger than me.


But what would that first step be?  Research.  How do you find an answer?   You have to take actions, lots of actions, trying different things, until you find something that works.


But taking actions requires BELIEF AND POSITIVE EMOTIONS.   Without them, you stagnate.  So…how could I control my emotions?


And the life time of research on human performance began to come back to me. I “judo’d” myself:  “Steve…if one day your son, your daughter, came to you in this situation, what would you tell them?”


I’d sure as HELL not tell them to curl up and die.  NO way. So…what would I say?


FIRST SHIFT YOUR EMOTIONS.  But again, how?  And researching, I clicked to something I already knew: Your emotions are controlled by three things:

  1. What you focus on.
  2. How you move your body
  3. Your internal language.


If you focus on the pain, if you hunch your back and frown, if your internal voices are doom and despair, you will spiral into the negative, stop taking action, and create a feedback loop that drags you down and drowns you.


But…THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE AS WELL.  If you focus on joy, if you hold your posture and facial expressions with power and purpose and gratitude, and if you deliberately use positive language, you will create an UPWARD spiral of actions, feedback, positive results, and positive emotions.


But…THAT TAKES ENERGY. The natural tendency is for things to fall apart UNLESS ANIMATED BY LIFE FORCE.   Emotional energy.  “Where attention goes energy flows and results show” as Tim Piering said.


What to do?


That was the day I began my Morning Ritual.  10-20 MINUTES of positive motion, emotion, and mental focus, all while doing Tai Chi.  Six days a week.  NEVER less than Five Minutes.  And…it saved me.  Saved my heart.


I could set myself up in 5-20 minutes to be the father, husband, writer, son-in-law, martial artist I was committed to being.  I could guarantee myself a great day just by controlling the first five mintues.  And seven great days made a great week. Fifty-two great weeks made a great year…


I’d found my way out, if only I could keep a simple promise to myself: “For a minimum of 300 seconds a day, I WILL MOVE, THINK, AND FOCUS only positively.   I will do this for seven days, come hell or high water.  At the end of that seven days, I will let myself look at the results, but not before then.   For seven days, I will have faith that the wonderful men and women who trained me were right.”


Saved me, and changed my life.   A month ago I discovered “How To Double Your Child’s Grades” by Eugene Schwartz, which detailed a FIVE MINUTE PLAN to help children succeed in school.  And in the month we’ve been using it, I’ve been absolutely shocked:

  1. Jason’s homework has improved 100%
  2. He is now positive about learning.
  3. He is spontaneously practicing his basketball shots (!)
  4. He is more polite and loving.
  5. He hasn’t had a single “brain fart”
  6. We’ve gotten a note from his Learning Center teacher in essence asking “what the #$%% are you DOING???”


THIS IS AMAZEBALLS.  Never seen anything like this. And…I remembered Atlanta. And how I saved myself. And something just “clicked.”


So…I’m going to be doing a webinar, hopefully tonight (I think I can get ready in time) on “Five Minute Mastery for your Child (and the Child within you).”  Totally free.   I have to make final plans after I get back from Larry Niven’s house (we’re finishing the very last Niven-Pournelle-Barnes collaboration, and want it to be as close to perfect as possible). But…I really want to share this.  Because this might be the breakthrough I’ve been looking for, the door to creating those ONE MILLION AWAKE AWARE ADULT human beings: a system that you can prove for yourself in just five minutes and one week.



I CANNOT just connect our hearts and pour my blood into you.  Wish to God I could. But I can’t. But I think that if you’ll give yourself a single week, you can determine for yourself if I’m right.  And then…


Oh, the fun we’re going to have!





Like Any Good Halloween Monstrosity, this one won’t stay dead

Oh, it pops up about once a week in my stream, and about once a month someone says it directly.  So I’ll answer it directly:

A reader said:

I’ve read a lot of things you’ve had to say about race, and they seem to be well thought
out and balanced, even if I don’t always agree with everything. However, I can’t
remember hearing you speak on a specific topic related to current culture. I found the
following quote on someone else’s wall, and wondered if you would be willing to express
your thoughts on it.

“The Black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has

disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state.” — Thomas Sowell

I  think Sowell is entitled to his opinion. But he’s fallen into what I call the “Current
Southern Apologia”, the urgent desire by slavers and the descendants of slavers to avoid
responsibility for 350 years of rape, torture, murder, kidnapping and brainwashing by
blaming the damage on 50 years of free sandwiches.
It really does remind me of a pyromaniac blaming the damage in a burning house on the
firemen who axed down the door.  Or a child molester blaming the damage to his victims
on the neighborhood gossip that followed his arrest and conviction.