Childhood and Adulthood

I like minimum investments, the smallest amount of work that will maintain forward momentum. Get them down small enough and you have an amount so tiny that there is no LOGICAL reason not to do them.  The real reasons are revealed as emotional.


Here are some examples:


  1. The “Smartphone” diet.  Simply take a digital picture of everything you eat before you eat it.  Don’t have to modify your eating at all–just be sure you are 100% conscious of every bite.  Amazing how hard this is. And how effective.
  2. “Five Minute Miracle”– one 60-second breathing breaks, one every three hours. A total of five a day.  Re-patterns your stress response.  Amazing.  Combine with your very best abdominal exercise, done very slowly (one sixty-second rep), and you up the game.
  3. A sentence a day.   First step of the Machine.  Because of a variety of logistical and psychological factors, you can ride a sentence a day to a book a year.  Again, it is amazing to watch.
  4. Morning Ritual. 10-20 minutes of movement combined with affirmation and dynamic focus.    “Flooding” yourself with positive emotions.


One of the saddest things that I see is people who feel that, without their pain, they would not be creative.   All I can wonder is: whose voice is that in their head? Who told them this?  What is their experience of joy?


Both pain AND joy can motivate us.  If I had to use one or the other, would definitely choose carrot over stick. If you cannot find pleasure to focus on, then pain will do…but wow, would you treat your own most beloved child like that?  And if you wouldn’t, why are you doing it to yourself?


Consciousness, speaking the truth, is a sovereign remedy for most of what ails us, even if it leads to temporary pain.  “These cigarettes will kill me” causes the temporary pain of discipline, guilt, withdrawal. And saves you the long-term pain of mortal disease.


Adulthood is about speaking the truth. Keeping your word to yourself.  Choosing long-term pleasure over short-term pain.  Taking responsible for your own emotions and actions.  We know this in raising children…

Why do we forget it for ourselves?

Don’t lie and say you don’t have “the talent” to do something: you don’t want to spend the thousand hours.  The fact that others might get more results for that investment of time is irrelevant. You can ALWAYS find someone doing better, or worse, than you.

Don’t lie and say you don’t have “the time” if you can start with five or ten minutes a day.  Ummm…you had time to read this, correct?

Don’t lie and say you have nothing to be grateful for.  You can read, correct?  You have the resources to get onto the internet, correct?  Wouldn’t you miss your eyes and computer if they were gone?  Then you can be grateful for them now.

Your focus determines how you feel. Your ability to tell the truth creates an accurate map. Your ability to keep your word to yourself determines whether you will take the small, constant steps that can lead you to love, or health, or success.

  1. Start by loving yourself.  (why change if you don’t love the person who will benefit?)
  2. Love one other person (we will do things for others we won’t do for ourselves.)
  3. Understand the world without guilt, blame, or shame.  (Forgive yourself. You’ve done the best you could, with the resources you have.  This will require that you forgive others as well–the same is true for them)
  4. Find your tribe.  (you cannot rise to your next level without allies and mentors.   Mentor and support others, and you gain the cosmic chips to ask for allies and mentors to help you.)
  5. Win.  (Define victory so that you can achieve it, EVERY DAY.   Five minutes a day will start you.  And from there…the world looks and feels like a different place.)







Don’t settle for less than the best you can do

David Roel is kind enough to dig through my archives to find thoughts he thinks will be of interest to his Buddhism mailing list. It is gratifying to see things that stumbled their way out of my thoughts a decade ago helping people today. Here’s a note:

“Thank you. As usual, exactly what was required this morning. I think we all play with the “Soul Mate Process”, but it withers away as soon as we find someone remotely close to the goal. The fear of being alone is louder than the fear of working on yourself. Thanks for the bump.”

This was sent in response to this series of my thoughts:

Wow! So busy yesterday I forgot to mention that August 1, 2008 was my tenth anniversary with Tananarive. She is absolutely the love of my life, and my perfect partner.

We had such a narrow window of opportunity to find each other. I was living in Washington state, and she, in Miami. We’d each gone through a massive amount of internal work preparing ourselves to find a partner. Such work involved, variously, therapy, meditation, self-discovery, journaling, and more. I believe in love, and that each of us, if we wish, can find a deep and lasting connection with another human being, one we can cherish and who cherishes us, who supports us without reservation, and is prepared, and willing, to be one of our better angels. There is an old saying: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I have a corollary to that: “When the lover is ready, the beloved will appear.”

Somehow, we recognized each other, and within 48 hours after meeting realized that we had to take a chance to be together, that the potential was simply too wonderful. In maybe two months one or the other of us would have met someone else: we were both ripe. It was a minor miracle.

On my own part, the most important things that prepared me for this were:

1) Convincing myself, totally and permanently, that I could get laid any time I wanted, and with the quality of lady I’d always desired. All insecurity about this was just gone, due to some very specific energetic work I’d done. Frankly, it was spooky how good I was getting at attracting women. I realized I could be a REALLY good Lothario, and realized that wasn’t me at all. That what I wanted, more than anything in the world, was a friend and partner, someone I could just be myself with. And I was willing to be celibate until I found her.

2) I had made a very clear list of all the attributes I wanted in a woman, without ANY compromises at all. Then I did one of the two or three smartest, most courageous things I’ve ever done: I found a woman who measured up to that list (a dancer of my acquaintence) and sat her down, asking her what SHE wanted in a man. What she described became my road map. I compared what she said with what I currently was–subtracted who I was, and what remained was what I had to become in order to attract a woman at her level. As soon as I began working in that direction, everything changed.

BTW–what were the differences?

1) she wanted a man with more of a spiritual life than I had at the time. I realized I’d stopped meditating, and promptly began again.

2) She wanted someone with less body fat than I carried at the time. I realized I’d stopped running, and began again.

As soon as I did both, it was as if I began “vibrating” at a different level, and women began reacting to me differently.

I have no idea how I came up with that, what I now call the “Soulmate Process”. Thank God I did. Another piece was realizing that the kind of woman I wanted was a lioness. She would be satisfied with nothing less than a lion. That meant that I had to be a hunter, and project that energy. I couldn’t be focused on finding a woman–what a lion hunts, he kills. So I had to cultivate an attitude of “intense but slightly distant” if you know what I mean. Once I found the right balance, the effect was absolutely devastating.

And then, I had to be willing to cast it aside, and just be myself. But without absolute confidence, and a real commitment to doing Whatever It Took to find a genuine heart connection, without a speck of bullshit, and be prepared to wait my entire life if necessary…while simultaneously working every damned day to be the perfect partner for that imaginary woman of my dreams…it wouldn’t have happened.

Don’t compromise. Decide what you want. Find out what it will cost. Commit to paying the price. And the price is passion, and commitment, and self-love, and self-respect, and honesty.

Ten years. And it’s gotten better every year.

I believe we can all have this, if we are just willing to actually reveal ourselves.



Where is God?

(from 2005)


One of the most frequent questions I get is, “Where is spirituality in your equation? Fitness, relationship, career… doesn’t seem to be much room for God there, now is there?”

I’d laugh, if this weren’t such a serious issue. And if I have to explain this a thousand times, it could never be too often. Look again at the chakras. Spirit is the tip of the tree, the top of the chakra ladder. As such, it is dangerous to attempt to approach it directly. “You can awaken the kundalini from the base up, or from the heart out, but never from the top down.” I have known many, many people who considered themselves spiritual, but were completely blown out in the more basic arenas, and spent their lives wandering from church to church, guru to guru, seeking inner peace. They craved relationships or material success, and hadn’t the slightest idea how to find it. They wanted healthy bodies, but would rapidly lose the first five or ten pounds… and then be stymied. And not understand why. After all, they are spiritual. God (in all His/Her worldwide aspects) promises health and happiness to those on the true path. The ability to manifest miracles. Why, then, are these simple arenas of fulfillment denied?

All right, I’m going to come out of the closet on this one, and speak plainly. Because these people are deluded. They think they have spiritual connection, and what they have is a desperate grip on a mirage. Yes, I’ve known people I considered deeply spiritual who were “overweight”, or “broke” or “celibate.” But that is not the same as a person who fails at diet and exercise, struggles with their finances through failed business after business, or is stuck in a loveless, sexless marriage. Sorry. You can’t take your failures and hold them up as badges of honor. The ascetic “small boat” is not for most of us, and I’d say that better than 99% of the people who claim to have a direct connection to God while their families splinter into dysfunction are simply conning themselves. It is so sad.

The reverse, on the other hand, is much more direct. It is my belief that in 99% of the cases, a person who is healthy in body, who provides goods and services valued by his community, and has the self-love and self-respect to demand what he is worth, and has a healthy, sexy relationship with his spouse and a loving intimacy with his children… that person lives in the light of God. It is very difficult to imagine otherwise, although I’m sure there are cases out there. It is the “big boat”, the path to spiritual development that is available to all who are willing to take responsibility for their past results, and commit to a balanced, healthy future.

Connie Rae Andreas of NLP Comprehensive in Colorado has a process she calls “Core Transformation.” It is unbelievably beautiful, and a major breakthrough in my conceptualization of these things. What I believe she proved is that all human behaviors, no matter how brutal and destructive, are attempts to access the divine. That’s right–including rape, murder, arson, and robbery. We are trying to satisfy those basic Maslovian needs for power and security in such a way that we can feel secure and rise to the next level. And if those needs are fulfilled, the natural and indeed inevitable result is that evolutionary surge. It is natural, as natural as all water eventually making its way to the sea.

God is like the wind. Invisible. You can’t see the wind, but you CAN see the effects of the wind–the grass blowing. Our eyes and minds cannot directly address the divine. But by choosing our “grass” carefully, we can see which way the wind blows. I’ve chosen body, career, relationship. Some of those on this board have made other choices, and I honor and love them. I can’t pretend to read minds, to know if those choices are genuinely satisfying, or if they are deluding themselves (as, indeed, I may be deluding myself. There are no absolute answers this side of the grave. That’s why they call it Faith). However, I’ve never seen a single person hurt themselves if they DO take responsibility for these three arenas as I’ve described them. And, as long as they understand progress is slow and gradual, and will involve many Dark Nights of the Soul along the way, they grow and change and blossom. That is what I wish for all of you.

So where is spirituality? It is in the center of the triangle described by body, career, and relationship. It is the place behind your eyes, the thing you cannot see. It is the human soul itself, hidden in the last place you would ever look.

Within you.

-Steve Barnes

Overview of the Soulmate Process

(a post from about 2007)


Let’s think some more about the heart, and how wounds to it manifest in other arenas. I’ve known heart chakra wounds to trigger suicide, and a loss of willingness to live. A dear friend was raped, and within a year contracted terminal cancer–It ate her alive within months. Fear, guilt, shame and anger cripple the sex drive, as well as resentments: I know several women who completely withhold their sexuality from their husbands, and several men no longer sexually active due to a lifetime of stuffed emotions. And anyone who has read this blog knows I think that people stuff negative emotions into their bodies. Rape, child abuse, fear, disappointment–all can manifest as obesity. I’ve had women tell me they were afraid that if they were sexually attractive, they’d cheat on their husbands. Men who say that they feel non-existent unless they are huge. Others who hide behind a wall of flesh. And of course heart wounds kill relationships: marriages, friendships, and the most critical relationship, the one with yourself. Heart wounds cripple the chakras above, as well: the ability to communicate is based on belief in self, and a sense that it is safe to be honestly expressive. My mother, who grew up in the lynch-happy South during the 30’s, warned me that “if you show white people how smart you are, they’ll kill you.” Can you imagine what this does to a young man’s head?

Probably the majority of fine writing is about wounds to the heart, and the ways we cope with them, try to heal them, how they poison our lives. Or about the glory of love. As much pain as love causes us all, the only thing that makes it worthwhile is the fact that, when it’s workin’, there is just nothing better. So next time (or real soon now) we’re going to address the question of relationships–how to find one, how to nurture one, how to keep one.

Fourth chakra wounds damage the health, cripple the sexuality, create obesity and anorexia, limit communication, and confuse the intellect. The expression “you can awaken the kundalini from the heart out or from the bottom up, but never from the top down” was making direct reference to the primacy of the heart. In Lifewriting, we use two major tools for connecting with the heartspace: heartbeat meditation and the dream diary. There are other meditations and therapies, but in many ways the very best medicine for the ailing heart is a healthy romantic/sexual relationship. For many people, the quest for love is a long, lonely road. I wanted to provide a few perspectives, and then in a day or two we’ll re-visit what I call the soulmate technique, an approach to finding and keeping the love you want.

I’d like you to consider a homily: “In life, you don’t get what you want. You get who you are.” If you find that you aren’t attracting people who you are attracted to, you may well have an unrealistic self image. Your lovers are mirrors for you, friend. You ARE your husband or wife or significant other, albeit flipped for gender and mirror-imaged. Searching to understand the ways that you and your partner are two halves of the same creature is one of the most fruitful things you can do–as well as one of the most educational. It can free you from anger and resentment. Folks, if you could have done better than your partner, you would have. If you misjudged them, whose fault is that? If you didn’t have the awareness, the self-confidence, the clarity, whose fault is that? Every human being does the best they can with the resources they have. You traded your intelligence, your sensuality, your beauty, and your power and energy and mental health for the greatest good you could find in the arena of relationship. When you stop blaming and start grasping that we are all both victims and beneficiaries of the human condition, you are on the road to healing.

Weight issues. This one is tricky. I think that the first 5-15 pounds of excess weight or so is no big deal. Just lifestyle and personal preference stuff. But by the time your secondary sexual characteristics become obscured, by the time joints are hurting, backs hurting, and it becomes a burden to walk up a flight of stairs, this is no longer lifestyle. It is no longer a little metabolic situation. It is emotional. I’ve simply had too many former obese people tell me that when emotional issues cleared up, they were able to drop the weight. Too much evidence that it relates to depression, anger, pain, fear, loss, and grief and resentment. I just don’t believe what I was told growing up: that overweight is simply a choice, or that it is a physical condition that can’t be helped. No. I don’t. Sorry. I’ve had too many friends die. DIE. From obesity-related illness. If I had spoken the truth to them, maybe they’d still be alive. But they surrounded themselves with people who would tell them pretty lies, and allow them to continue on down the road to self destruction. I will be damned if I will EVER do that again.

What we consider attractive usually relates to damned good reasons. Much (not all) of human behavior relates to survival of self and family. Most of what we consider beauty relates to health: clear complexion, strong bones and teeth, symmetrical faces, high energy. Or emotional health, like discipline, self-love and respect, clarity of purpose, emotional endurance, resistance to fear. When women say they are attracted to ambitious, intelligent, successful men–what the living hell is wrong with that? Aren’t they supposed to seek out the healthiest mates possible? And men are attracted to women who, by visual appearance, give them sexual stimulation: secondary sexual characteristics, self-confidence, sensuality… all of these things relate to mothering and fathering. Subtract these from the equation, and the entire human race collapses. So if you have moved beyond the need or desire to raise a family, fine! But better than 80% of the human race wants these things, so it’s legitimate to address them. In no way do I suggest that those in non-reproductive relationships are unhealthy, any more than if you’re in a marriage you are automatically somehow healthy. No. But if you’ve had a string of failed relationships, I suggest you want to look at that closely.

I don’t consider myself enlightened. I do consider myself on the path of enlightenment. This isn’t just about having a good life. It’s about having a good death, to be clean with myself about who and what I am in this world, and to do absolutely everything I can to leave it a better place than I found it.

I offer what seems to me, at this time, to be a pathway.
1) Be clear on who you are, and where you are going.
2) Be certain that you love yourself. Not just like–love. Be certain you have internal permission to be ecstatically happy.
3) Make a list of the qualities you desire in a partner. Find the person you know, or can find, who comes closest to that list, sit them down and ask them what they are looking for in a partner. Look at the gap between what they describe and where you are. To the degree that those changes are positive, incorporate them at the rate of about 1% per week.
4) As you head toward your dreams, make it clear to the people around you who and what you are, what your dreams are. Walk your talk. Begin to eat, sleep and breathe your intentions in the world. Make them positive, and loving, and powerful.
5) Don’t settle for less than you are worth. As you begin to express your beauty and power, people will be attracted to you. Be choosy. Be certain to spend your intimate time with those who actually match your values, needs, and desires, and empathize with your goals. Don’t waste your energy.
6) If necessary, celibacy might help you concentrate your energy.
7) Be honest, and kind. Treat prospective lovers and partners the way you would want someone to treat your brothers and sisters, your mom or dad, your own children. There is enough pain in the world. Don’t add to it.
8) Have faith. Believe. Love is real, and powerful, and transforming.
9) Be certain that you are heading in the direction of the values you want in a partner. Want a tight body? You’d better have one. Want someone successful? You’d better be manifesting. Want someone emotionally healthy? Lover, heal thyself. Remember the saying “you can’t have a relationship with someone crazier than you”? Well, you can’t have one with someone saner, either. If you want to go old-school, guys may well be able to trade a higher level of power for a greater amount of beauty in a lady. This has worked for thousands of years, and will likely work for a thousand more.
10) If your aspirations are higher than your accomplishment, be willing to partner with someone else who is “becoming”. After all, if you want someone to overlook your flaws, you had better the hell be ready to overlook someone else’s. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you wouldn’t want to jump into bed with you, live with you, love you, you’ve got your work laid out!
11) The meditation, goal-setting, exercise and self-reflection tools on this blog can help you. There are other tools scattered around the world. Find and use them. But start by loving yourself, and giving yourself permission to have a passionate, committed, long-lasting, healthy, supportive, bountiful, sexy relationship. It’s worth it!

-Steve Barnes.

If you can’t trust people, who can you trust?

(modified, from 2008)


We can’t predict the future behavior of others, but I remember something one of my teachers said: “Do not trust people. Instead rely upon them. Rely upon them to do whatever it is they consider to be in their own self-interest.” The only way to do that is to be able to determine what that self-interest is. And in my mind, the only way you can possibly do that is to know yourself. To look fearlessly at your own flaws and fuck-ups and take responsibility for them, to get real about the way you’ve lied and sold yourself out… or stood up for yourself and been courageously honest in the face of pain and disappointment.



If you take responsibility for all three aspects of your life, you have a good chance to see right through other people’s B.S., because you’ll know all the rationalizations. Over and over again, I’ve had people with weight problems straight-up lie about being “unable” to lose weight because of physical issues, when eventually it turned out the problems were really emotional. A student recently emailed me, confessing that when she loses weight her sex drive increases, and her husband’s lack of sexual interest frustrates her more deeply, risking their marriage. In other words, she slows herself down to remain hobbled to a man with low energy.

I’ve run into versions of that many, many times. But here’s the trick: I’d bet ANYTHING that there are parallels in the domain of money and relationships: people who blame external circumstances for lack of financial success, but actually cripple themselves out of resentment, fear, or programming. It isn’t the economy: in the worst economies, the top 20% are still doing fine. The real question is: why aren’t YOU in the top 20% of your field?

Or ladies who say that there are more women than men, and that’s why they’re not in a relationship. Really? All that does is explain why X percentage of your group is unmarried, NOT why YOU are one of them. Stats don’t have that much to do with the individual.

(You know the joke: “I don’t have to outrun the bear.  I just have to outrun YOU.”)

But I suspect it is miles easier to blame genetics, or the economy, or gender statistics, or racial statistics or whatever than it is to examine your own motivations, beliefs, values, and actions. So easy. For one thing, when you stop behaving like a typical member of your group, you lose your protective coloration. You stand out and become a target.

You take the chance of being alone. The trouble is that we are all “alone” and the “protective coloration” is just an illusion. I am male, American, of mixed ethnicity, a writer, etc…. but all of these are just interesting labels. If I hide behind any of them, I inherit not just their strengths but limitations. It is simple: in terms of playing the game of life, either you take responsibility or you do not. Life doesn’t care. You can be happy, healthy, and successful, but the doorway to adult rewards comes from adult responsibilities. And the instant you blame society, your family, or your genetic circumstances for anything that can be modified by action, you are being a child. Adults realize that they are all that stands between the next generations and chaos, and that they are going to die… and vow that their death, and therefore their life, will have meaning. That that meaning will be found in their actions.

If you can’t admit the ways in which you sell yourself short, lie to yourself, are asleep, you cannot rise to your greatest level, and walk the world awake and alert. Complaining about injustices is one thing. Suggesting that those injustices control how you feel about life is quite another. Every day, you have to polish your perceptual lens, and take responsibility for living fully and honestly. Either you make that commitment, or you allow the external world to control your internal experience. And that is one of the great existential fallacies.

Who you are to yourself influences the way you are with others. The lies you tell yourself will blind you to the lies others tell to you. The more honest you are with yourself, the harder it is to be conned.

-Steve Barnes,

If you can’t be sure of a good apple…

(I’m enjoying these “classic posts.”  This one was from 2008)


Maybe you can at least avoid some of the rotten ones.

More specifically in terms of relationships, we may not be able to come up with a way to ensure success. But we can probably look at some things that raise the chances of success–or pretty much guarantee failure. Each of the following has doomed at least two relationships I know of:

1) Track record. If you have to ignore the person’s track record with relationships… watch out. If they’ve left a trail of angry partners, willing to lie about abuse, drugs, infidelity, etc: you have to ask why they’re so angry, or why your potential mate has such terrible taste in partners. And… what if it’s true?

2) Lack of track record. What if you can’t find out anything about previous partners? There is no discernible dating or mating history? Based upon the instances I’ve seen, be VERY careful. Can you speak with his/her friends about previous relationships? Their family? If not, if there is no one you can trust to give you a sense of why their past relationships went wrong, keep your guard up. Example: when I met Tananarive, I wanted her to have every chance in the world to know if I was good for her. The first chance I got, I put her in a room with my ex-wife Toni, and daughter Nicki, told them to talk about whatever they wanted, and left the room. She deserved to know if I’ve left a trail of destruction behind me, didn’t she?

3) Dishonesty. There is a gap between what they say and what they do. 90% of your opinion of someone should be based on what they do–or have done. In comparison, what they say is irrelevant. Do people deserve a second or third chance? Sure, but you have no obligation to be the one who risks your heart, home, finances and family to give it to them.

4) A serious mis-match in values and life goals. They need to be either similar or complementary.

5) Sexual heat is a very nice thing. If your partner doesn’t groove to you, and vice versa, don’t think it’s gonna get better.

6) Financial security and calm. I hate to say this, but finances screw up more relationships than infidelity. If you can’t save and balance your checkbook, if you’re still living with your parents or working a job you hate, don’t be surprised if others can pick up on this subliminally, and you find yourself unable to attract an appropriate partner.

7) Someone who does not like/love themselves. Danger, Will Robinson. Someone afflicted with self-loathing CANNOT be loved enough to “fix” them. They do not see the divinity within themselves, cannot make contact with the loving child within them… were not loved without reservation by their parents… this person has work to do. Unless you want your bedroom to turn into a battleground, stay away.

8) Someone who expects you to follow their commands. Unless you like being dominated, stay away.  (UPDATE NOTE: I recently heard a story about a Silicon Valley billionaire.  On his wedding day, at their “first dance”, he whispered in his beautiful executive wife’s ear:  “I’m the Alpha in this relationship.”   How long do YOU think that marriage lasted?)

9) Someone who expects you to read their minds. Often with the b.s. “I know what you’re thinking/want/need. Why don’t you know what I’m thinking/want/need?” Utterly infantile, but we all do it a little bit, and some of us do it a LOT. Buy into this crap, and you’re sunk, locked in a can’t-win position with someone who has never gotten over the fact that, once upon a time, all needs were eat/sleep/change me/love me. When they grow up, they might be fine. Until then, beware.

10) Someone at a very different level of energy. This might be intellectual, physical, spiritual–whatever. “Energy” here is a deliberately vague term. You should feel either matched or complemented by their strengths and weaknesses.

11) You can’t be in a relationship with someone crazier than you. If crazy people keep falling into your life, YOU are the one who needs help. Something is very wrong, and you may have a blind spot large enough to swallow your entire life.

12) Don’t expect people to change. You can’t fix people. If they have taken responsibility for changing, you can support them (there was a GREAT scene at the end of the second episode of the second season of Dexter that deals with this. I LOVE that show!)

13) Don’t expect people not to change, either. Human beings are dynamic not static. Note the direction of their growth or decay. Does it match their stated values, beliefs, and goals? If so you can be pretty sure they’ll continue on that path… but there will be change. We grow, we are wounded, we learn, we advance, we decay.

14) Know yourself first. If you’ve had a bad relationship history, take a year off and journal every day. Watch relationships around you. Specifically seek out people who have been happily married for ten years or more. I PROMISE that they did different things than you. Find multiples of them. Interview them about their relationship attitudes. Overlap the resulting data: where do they agree? Disagree? How does this agree or conflict with what you have done? Assume that your external relationships mirror your internal aspect. What would this say about you if this were true? The conclusion may not be “true” but it is likely to be embarrassingly fascinating. At the least, it points out potential directions for growth. And frankly? I’d rather assume it was true and do the work… and have it turn out that the work wasn’t needed… than ignore the evidence, assume it was “those women” (or “those men”)… and years down the road, after myriad heartbreaks, finally realize it was me, after all.

That all I ever had to do to find happiness was take responsibility for being an asshole…and change. I sometimes suspect that such insights come to too many of us only after we’re run out of places to hide from ourselves. For too many I suspect that doesn’t happen until we are old and broken. And God, that would suck.

-Steve Barnes

(Go to WWW.SOULMATEPROCESS.COM for your free copy of TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FINDING YOUR SOULMATE.  Do it today, please.  The heart you save may be your own.)

The connection between “The Morning Ritual” and “The Machine”

I’ve been talking about both these things, and wanted to pause and make it more explicit.  I’m just a guy who wanted a particular kind of life.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to create a life of meaning, and knew that if I couldn’t do that, my life would implode in fear and bitterness.  I remember the day a bully chased me out into the middle of the street–the only place I was safe, even though there were cars and trucks whizzing past on both sides.   HERE, IN THE MIDDLE OF DANGER, I WAS SAFE.


OMG. The realization that I could risk my body–my ego–or risk my heart–my dreams–was stunning, and one of the strongest images of my entire life.  I chose my dreams. Decided that I would rather die here, now, than be a ghost in my own life.

I hallucinate that you are the same, or you wouldn’t be reading these words.

I never wanted to be a teacher.  What happened is that, over time, people kept asking me how I was doing the things I did.   And I couldn’t keep it to myself.   I’d traveled across the country, driven a thousand miles to spend ten minutes with someone who could give me an answer, and finally compiled, from countless teachers, a path that actually seemed valid.   Two expressions of this are “The Morning Ritual” and “The Machine.”


“The Machine” is the path ahead.  It might take years, months, at the least about 100 days.   With writing it is “100 stories”.  With the body it might be “100 weeks of dietary and exercise discipline”. With martial arts it might be “1000 classes”.   With your spirit it might be “100 days of meditation”.  With your heart, seeking your soulmate, it might be “100 different dates.” The point is that you set a number that is HIGHER than what you will probably need to reach your goal.     Most writers start selling about 30-40 stories in.  Most long-term marriages happen after the people have dated fewer than twenty people.     Most physical training programs will give you addictive results within about thirty classes.  You design your “machine” so that it is so powerful that all you have to do is operate it, and you’ll get there.   It makes logical sense to you, modeling the very best information from people who have actually achieved your goals.


Here is “The Machine” for writers.  It takes only a little imagination to create one for ANY goal you might have:


  1. Write at least one sentence every day
  2. Write 1-4 stories a month
  3. Finish What you write
  4. Put them in the mail, keep them in the mail until they sell.
  5. Don’t re-write except to editorial request
  6. Read 10X what you write
  7. Repeat for 100 Stories.


Get it?  Have any doubt that if you DID this, you’d be at a different level of your dreams?  See how to adjust it to other goals?


But…HOW DO YOU KEEP ON TRACK?   The “Hero’s Journey” says a terrifying thing: you WILL hit the “Dark Night of the Soul” and slide into the pit of despair. You literally CANNOT move from one level of your life to another without killing your self image a bit.   I mean–if you could already do it, you’d have already DONE it!   Your ego thinks it is you, and doesn’t want to die.  So it will generate fear, convince you that the inevitable rejections, aches and pains, failures or doubts are dream-killing demons that will eat you alive if you continue.

IT WILL HAPPEN.  100% guarantee.


So what do you do?  You inoculate yourself against it by creating micro-cycles.  You make EVERY day a miniature version of your entire life, setting small challenges that are a push, but not big enough to break you.  Then, all you have to do is keep track of what you did TODAY.   And if you are off track, you get another chance tomorrow. But if you kick butt, you celebrate!

The “Morning Ritual” is a Sigil, a magical symbol, a compression of countless different principles into a form so compact that just this single action, performed for 100 days (there’s the “Machine”, get it?) will change your life.  And so powerful that you can feel the results within ten days.


THE MORNING RITUAL IS THE WAY YOU GENERATE THE FUEL TO FEED THE MACHINE.  It is also the way you create and read a “map” to be sure you are on the road to what YOU want.  YOU desire.  One day at a time, you are creating the life of your dreams, walking the “thousand mile road” to your destiny.  Here are the steps again:


  1. MOVE YOUR BODY for 10-20 minutes, moving with power, authority, and positivity. Walk, run, yoga, tai chi, joint mobility, dance.
  2. WHILE YOU ARE MOVING “flood” yourself with gratitude.  Think of all the things in life to be grateful for, all your blessings.  Are you lying to yourself and saying you have none?   Try this: you have the economic, cultural, and physiological resources to be reading these words on the internet. Would you miss your computer, your internet, your eyesight, your ability to read if they disappeared?  Then what the HELL is wrong with you?   Do you only appreciate things when they are gone?  That is no way to live–but it is a GREAT recipe for misery.
  3. Do Gratitude for 2-5 minutes.   Really connect with that feeling.   Then spend 2-5 minutes focusing on victories of the past.  SPEAK IT OUT LOUD.   Again, are you lying to yourself that you never had any?   I’m gonna bop you.  Once upon a time you couldn’t walk, or talk, or read, or ride a bicycle.  I PROMISE that when you learned to do these things, you were OVERJOYED.   All you have to do is reconnect with that emotion, those memories, and you are filling your tank with emotional gas.
  4. Now…THINK OF YOUR LONG TERM GOALS. SPEAK THEM OUT LOUD.   What do you want to be doing in 3-5 years?  Set a goal in your physical, emotional, business, and financial arenas.  BE SPECIFIC.  And here is where a bit of magic comes in: take your PAST positive emotions and flood them into your FUTURE PLANS.  Feel it.  Experience is.   And remember–you are MOVING while you do all of this.  2-5 minutes
  5. Now…what do you need to do TODAY to make these long term goals happen (your “Machine!) speak OUT LOUD what you will do TODAY to take just one more step toward your goal.
  6. If you need to re-make yourself, be sure you give yourself at least a year to do it.    A common mistake is to set such a short time frame that you have no prayer of doing it.  Then you can say “I tried!” and your ego grins like a thief in the night, slinking back into its cave, content that it has, once again, convinced you that it is the limit of your capacity.


That’s the basic pattern.   I could take any piece of it and make a month-long workshop out of it, but wanted to give you the overview.   If you are serious, define your “Machine” clearly ON PAPER.  Design your “Morning Ritual” ON PAPER.  The goals. The path. The affirmations you will speak aloud with passion.  Then perform your Morning Ritual EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.


That’s what I committed to doing.  Part of MY morning ritual?  Talking to you.  Every day.  Because I see you as me, at an earlier phase of my life.  Not that I’m better–you have things to teach me, too, if we ever meet, and I hope we do.  But I know THIS stuff. And I’m paying back my teachers by teaching you.

That’s how it works.

This pattern, along with other wisdoms, is what makes the LIFEWRITING PREMIUM program so powerful for writers.  Most programs supply tactical tools of structure and characterization. We stand that on its head, saying that YOU are the hero in “the adventure of your lifetime” and invite you to create your career, your life, as if you were writing a story about an intrepid explorer.  And we’ll cheer you on, help lift you up, tell you the truth about the journey ahead, as well as open our rolodex and introduce you to our friends and allies, so that they can tell you from THEIR perspective what it takes to succeed.


Help you build your “Machine”.  All YOU have to do is perform your Morning Ritual, and take your daily actions…and you will have a better chance of reaching your dreams than you’ve ever had.


Join us! The first month is only ONE DOLLAR!


Be the hero in the adventure of your lifetime!


Re-stating a basic path

I wanted to re-state the process of growth in this hyper-politicized atmosphere:

  1. Love yourself.  Take care of yourself.   Protect yourself.  When stress becomes strain, you develop tunnel vision, go into “survival” and cannot see resources that are right in front of you.   Fear dominates, and the “all is lost” switch is stuck in the “on” position.   Sad to watch.  Suggestion: 15-20 minutes of heartbeat meditation, and/or a morning ritual of movement, gratitude, and focus on outcomes.
  2. Love another.   The bond between two human beings is primary to all human existence, and has a powerful effect on our psychological health. While this is most fully explored between a bonded pair in emotional, sexual, familial, and business connection, “mere” friendships are also nurturing.
  3. Understand human history.   There is nothing happening now that isn’t explained by human psychology, nothing that has not occurred in our past.   If you can’t understand people without needing to condemn or consider yourself superior, cannot see that violence is usually rooted in fear (far more often than predation) you are not honest with yourself.   By loving yourself first, you develop the ability to see into your own heart, claim your own wounds, and have compassion.   That does NOT mean being a victim: see #1.
  4. Find your tribe.   Stop wasting time arguing with those who are asleep, or see a different world.   Accept that they are different, and know that you will achieve more by nurturing those who already agree with you than trying to twist the arms of those who are marching to a different drummer. And the people who are of your tribe need your protection and healing.
  5. Win.   Nothing succeeds like success.  If you are happy, and healthy, and successful people will AUTOMATICALLY want to know what you are doing, and want to move in your direction.   And if you cannot succeed…what makes you so sure your map of reality is accurate?  Anyone can have a theory about where Disneyland is, and how to get there.  Only those who are actually taking pictures with Mickey can be sure their theories were accurate.  Plus…don’t you deserve to have FUN?  Your creativity is fueled by your “child” self.  If you stop rewarding her, she’ll cut off your life force.


Any questions?




Dreading Valentine’s Day? No more!

This note is for those who have not yet found love. If you are one of the lucky ones, please pass it to someone still in the search!




O.K….just the single folks here now?  Good.  Not good that you’re single, but good that we can actually help you.


If it hurts to think that others find love while you remain alone,  your search is over.

We’d like to offer you a FREE micro-course: The Ten Commandments of Finding Your Soulmate

You don’t have to be alone and unhappy…I promise you I’ve been there, and fought my way to “the light” in terms of understanding what was necessary to escape that trap.

We believe you the love you yearn for.

And we are so certain you’ll find the years of research we’ve put into THE SOULMATE PROCESS that this report is totally free.

You can find out more here:


You’ll learn ten eye-opening principles. This isn’t some fake “Pick Up Artist” nonsense (I hate that crap!)

Nothing designed to manipulate a man or woman into falling in love (or in bed!) with you. This is about real love, real connection, and how to start TODAY to become who you need to be to find it.

I realize that many people aren’t sure about the idea that real love even exists, usually because of a life of unhappy experiences.   Rest assured that we understand, and empathize.

THAT IS WHY WE’RE GIVING THIS AWAY.   You will understand, right up front, exactly what we’re talking about, and why THE SOULMATE PROCESS is so different.

And you won’t have to pay a dime.

Just go to WWW.SOULMATEPROCESS.COM to get your free copy RIGHT NOW.


Love is your birthright!



Remove one lie every day

(a post from 2008.  Still valuable.  Touches on that “I don’t have to run faster than the bear. I just have to run faster than YOU” that is such a part of the real world)

“I’ve always felt that men and women with a wretched relationship history are merely externalizing something damaged within themselves. There are plenty of great men and women out there. The fact that statistics show a shortage of one or the other in some specific age range, income range, or context has a lot to do with groups, but nothing at all with individuals. The question to ask isn’t “why are 20% of X  unmarried” but rather “why am I in that 20%?” Personal responsibility kicks in the exact same way it would if the issue was getting a job, or protecting your health. SOME percentage of any group is always in trouble. The truth is that you don’t have to be the best in your field to be employed. Just be in the top 20%. The top 20% in any field is always employed. The top 20% of your age bracket in fitness is in decent shape. The healthiest, happiest and most loving 20% of your gender have terrific relationships.

What does it take to get into the top 20%? Daily work and care (or good luck and good early education). Every day, think of your long and short term goals. Be certain that they are in alignment with each other, and with your deepest values and beliefs. Can you accomplish them in a loving way? Can you see how bringing them into reality will increase the net amount of light, warmth, and love in the world? What can you do today to bring those goals one step closer to existence?

Every day, learn one new thing to improve your career skills, your health, your relationship with self and others. One new thing.

Or conversely, every day peel away one lie. More on that tomorrow.”

Allow me to be even blunter.  The worst unemployment rate in U.S. history was 25%, in 1933.  That is horrible. But do you understand the implications?  YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE IN THE TOP 20%.  YOU JUST HAVE TO AVOID THE BOTTOM 25%.

And the same thing will be true in relationships. Aren’t enough X in your category?  All you need is one, dammit.   Let the statistics be someone else’s problem.   My brother Patric Young has a great philosophy about work: “If there are only two jobs left in the world, I’m getting one of them.”

No one with THAT attitude, who constantly upgrades their skills at producing goods and services, who upgrades their understanding of marketing and sales with the intent to get into the top 20% is going to have much problem avoiding the bottom 25%.   Spend 80% of your time thinking of the solution, only 20% obsessing on the problem.

Stop wanting someone to come rescue you.  IT WON’T HAPPEN.  NO ONE IS COMING.   Yes, your ship will come in…but you also have to row out to meet it.