self-improvement

What if you already have everything you need?

Here’s another example of the “smart things patients told their therapists” category.   Story prompt time:

 

A patient recovering from body image issues told me: “We spend our whole lives trying to get to a certain place or acquire certain things so that we may be happy. But true happiness is when you realise you are never going to get to that place or that even when you do you will still be dreaming of a new place or new things. So happiness has to start now, with what we have.” Basically sums up the whole message of therapy for me to be honest.

– Jagerboi11

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Can you see the story?  Take a character through this journey, trying to do “things” to get “feelings”: approval, love, peace of mind, positive self image.  He chases after fame, wealth, love, while ignoring the people around him who love him, need him, the lifetime of worthwhile work right around him.  He might travel the world or scale the heights of power, only to return home after learning “there’s no `there’ there.” Find love with the girl next door.  Take over the family business.   Teach at the schoolhouse where he was educated.  

The “Secret Formula” of GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE comes to mind.   I leave it as an exercise for the reader how you could use this set-up to explore the concept.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Using a story prompt

We posted a list of “best things a patient ever said” to a psychiatrist.  I thought I’d take the list and show how you can create ideas from any springboard.

 

1. “People don’t do drugs to feel good. People do drugs to feel less bad.”

– vasovist”

 

Ask: is this true?  From your observations of people using drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or other sensory distractions, does it hold water?   When have YOU used these things to distract yourself from pain?  Or someone you know and love, or observed closely enough to have a solid opinion?

Did they get out of it?  Through it?  Were they consumed by it?  You have several  basic options: show someone  getting better, getting worse, or staying approximately even.  As I think the “approximately even” is an illusion, what you really have is UP or DOWN.   

So…create a character.   What is the pain they are escaping?  How do they escape?  What was their turning point up or down?  

Run through the chakras.  What level is the pain on?   Run through the Hero’s Journey.   Look at every point along the path.  What do they lack?  Have?  Where are they damaged, and refusing to move forward?

By the time you have done this, you will have a very good idea about the person, their issues, and what they need to move on. You then get to decide if they do.

(Warning: if YOU have not healed these issues in your own life, you are likely to believe it isn’t possible to heal.   So…I suggest that you choose an issue you HAVE healed. Then decide if you want the person to rise or fall. That is a responsible choice, rather than a self-serving one)

Remember that a short story is about a moment when someone changed. A decision or action that changes the course of a life.    Focus in on that, if possible maintaining the integrity of a 24-hour time frame.   

Again…what could YOU do with this story prompt?

 

Write with passion!

Steve

Faith has no limits…save your own heart

 

“In the spiritual life, movement has to be constant.  Either you move forward or you move backward.  If you try to remain motionless,  the ignorance of the world will pull you right back to your starting point.”-Sri Chinmoy

 

GOALS X FAITH X CONSTANT ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS

 

Yesterday, a student was delighted.   She had rejected the concept of “Faith” as a religious artifact.  Objected to the phrasing (“why can’t you say `confidence’ or something?”) because “faith” implied bowing to an old man on a throne, or something.

 

Well, that’s what’s in HER mind.  If she wants to change that to “confidence”, no one can stop her. Then she can tell be how that works for her, and I’ll pay attention.  Results, not reasoning.   Reasoning is symbolic. Results are real.   If she can’t roll with a word that means several things (including but not limited to the metaphysical or religious) HER mind is frozen in a particular position. She is in reaction to something: cultural?  Familial?  Someone rammed “God” down her throat when she was younger?  Secular humanist? Militant Atheist?  Simple Agnostic?  If you don’t have “heat” on it, you roll with it and see what value there might be there.

 

Clarity of goals (where do you want to be in three years?) , depth of faith (in yourself, your companions, OR a “higher power), constant action (what do you have to do TODAY to make it happen?) and the fullness of gratitude (the antidote for fear and resentment, things that slam on your brakes) all working together, is the closest thing to the miraculous I’ve ever encountered.

 

She told me that once she “got over” the idea of Faith connected specifically to religion, once she connected that faith to herself, her allies and mentors (aww shucks, ma’am) and the sense that the universe is an action-reaction machine, she was able to function better, with an immediate result of earning a two thousand dollar commission.

 

What do I think of that?  It is interesting. Fun.  Predictable.   This “formula” needs to be anchored in every day.  Preferably while MOVING with purpose.  What you will notice once you do are a whole buncha interesting phenomena…

 

  1. You are happier all day.  You have BEGUN the day with joy, rather than thinking you must “do” something to be happy.
  2. Everything you or anything else with a nervous system has ever done is to move away from pain and toward pleasure.   When you address this directly (with gratitude and positive motion) you are cutting out the middle-man.  People will claim you are selfish.  Often this is because they are limited by that perception.  Too often it is because they fear losing a way to manipulate you.
  3. You get more done, with less resistance. You start (and/or end) the day clarifying your long-term goals AND the short term actions that will lead to them. There are no more meaningless days or actions.  None.  It is all part of the same flow.  If you think there is anything you have to do in life that is “meaningless” you have not applied your imagination, or clarified your goals and values.  
  4. You begin to attract “luck”.  I cannot explain exactly how this works, but I can tell you what it FEELS like: it is as if the harder you work, the clearer you are, the more energy you invest in your dreams the more “gravity” you get, as if there is a thing called “intentional mass” which bends the time-space around you.  People will come to you with offers and options.  It is really strange how this happens, how when you bury yourself in living a balanced, dynamic life you not only accomplish what is right in front of you, but there are unplanned ancillary effects, as if passing meteors of “opportunity” that otherwise would have zipped right by get pulled into your “gravity well”.   

 

A potential downside, by the way: you have to be careful to prioritize.  You have to learn how to say “no” (which becomes easier when your values and goals are clear), and how to recognize which things on your list are “musts” and which are “optional actions if you have time and energy at the end of the day” type thingies.   

 

As I’ve said, this is mysterious, and may be just an artifact effect, just a matter of beginning to ignore the dips and downs and distractions, and notice the good things that are always there anyway, but unseen when in a “stress tunnel.”   I don’t know. What I DO know is that it happens.

 

Try it for 30 days and see.  Walk, stretch, dance for 10-20 minutes while speaking aloud your Goals, Faith, Actions, and Gratitude.  Connect with the childhood dreams and deathbed values.   TRY IT, and then share with us your issues or discoveries.   Prove that I’m wrong, or discover that this is real.

 

Its up to you.

 

Namaste,

Steve

http://amzn.to/1NwhjOq

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Baby, it’s cold outside

Just got this blurb this morning:

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The Ancient Child meditation is the most powerful and effective meditation

I’ve ever done. A daily practice has me more focused on three things:

my professional goals, the life I want to live, and the woman I want to be.

I highly recommend this meditation for every man and woman on Earth.

 

And as a side note for you: the meditation has me honoring little girl me

and deathbed me. Life is a series of choices, and I want to honor and

respect both aspects of myself.

 

I can’t thank you enough for sharing this meditation with the world.

 

hugs

Althea

 

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There are just a few pieces of the “Awakened Adult” puzzle that seem central to me.  The “Ancient Child” is one such piece, which is why it is incorporated into STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE, my first non-fiction book. It ain’t perfect, but it is a pretty clear statement of a path by which a soul can progress.  Not the only path, not even the best.  But an honest path.

 

It is powerful because it uses a simple but deceptively complex rubric–”life is lived best when you live in alignment with both your childhood desires (the Dream) and your ultimate values, those you will hold on your deathbed (enlightenment).   The Awakened Adult seeks to navigate both simultaneously, to operate in the “Dream” world with an eye on the “Real.”

 

To “be in the world, but not OF the world” is a statement of this.  As is the concept of the “Householder Yogi”, which is one way to describe my own path.

 

In short, the process is to learn to listen to the “voice” of your “inner child.”  And then the “voice” of your inner elder, eschewing any illusion that you can avoid death.  And then live with joy and purpose as you walk the path between them.

 

One thing that results is living in alignment with your values.   In the Bible, there is a moment when Satan offers Christ all the wealth of the world if he will but bow before him.  Wonderful metaphor.   In more mundane terms, there will come moments when you will be offered power, money, fame, ego-boost, or sex if you will only abandon your values.

 

In yoga there is an idea that as you progress the spiritual path you develop powers such as precognition, unusual charisma, the unnatural ability to generate wealth, and so forth.  These things appear in your “peripheral vision” as you walk the path. If you focus on them, you leave the path, lose your way, and they evaporate…and you may not be able to find your way back onto the path.

 

If you keep your eyes on the actual goal–awakening to what is true–these other things come to you automatically.  You can enjoy them, be amused by them, integrate them into your life, but must NOT pursue them. It is so damned easy to become lost.

 

A month ago I had a conversation with a lady who is lost.  She is moderately famous, and rails constantly against dishonesty, manipulation, certain political positions, and so forth.  She condemns these things .  

 

But…she exhibits many of the precise same qualities she objects to, which she believes are destroying the world, or our country.

 

She complains about exaggeration, and exaggerates about it.

She complains about people who generalize to condemn, and generalizes to condemn.

She complains about identity politics, but practices them.

She complains about people not taking responsibility, but when challenged on ugly behavior, points her finger and says “THEY do it!”

 

And she followed the cheers of a poisonous crowd, upping the ante on her act until she actually achieved a certain minor level of fame, surrounded by a sycophantic echo chamber

 

I woke up this morning, and heard her “child” crying.   How far off the path of actually living in accordance with childhood dreams of joy and love must she be?   How out of alignment with the values that will actually remain at the end of life, after all ego has fled, and the roar of the crowd has proven to be nothing but the echoes of braying donkeys  every Awakened Adult knows them to be?   

How much fear is masquerading as love or strength?   

I feel so sorry for her. She has lost her way. She is standing in the rain, outside the road house where those who actually walk the path gather, warming themselves, sharing company and building a fire of meaning, love and connection.  She watches them pluck  the thorns out of their children’s flesh and cries “why are you talking about thorns all the time???”

It was sadness I felt this morning.  But then…I read that blurb, and know that I’m doing the work, to the best of my ability. That all I have to do is live one day at a time with the greatest integrity I can.  That my child, deep in my heart, sings to me, comforts me, wipes away my tears.

 

People say: “why do you bother with her?  When will you cut your ties?”   They are not my ties.  My connection is to the Path, not to any things or people I meet along the way.   I believe that her engagements with me are a cry for help.  I have,  many times, sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  And the wonderful men and women who have mentored me did not throw me away, did not discount me, opened the door again and again and welcomed me to the fire…if I would leave my ego at the door.

 

I will leave signs for her saying “this way to truth.  This way to awakening.”  It is up to her to travel the road. She is not on it, but hallucinates that she is, which tells me that she yearns to be free, and honest, and live in love instead of what may well be one of the deepest wells of self-loathing I’ve encountered.

 

There is nothing in her to fear, or generate anger.  Just the hope that she finds peace and love.  

 

And when she does…

 

The fire will be here, waiting.

 

Namaste,

Steve

(The Ancient Child can be found at:   http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=2198967)

How much can you do in ten minutes?

The single most important success practice in my life is the “Morning Ritual” of Tai Chi, affirmation, gratitude and goal-focus.    I make sure to cover the “Secret Formula” elements: GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS.   If I do that, and NOTHING ELSE directed that day, I’ve still won.  

 

In those ten-twenty minutes (and if I didn’t know Tai Chi, I’d use Tibetans and Joint mobility.  Not the same, but a decent match that covers one heck of a lot of territory) I cover:

 

  1. Basic health.  The health of your joints and back and connective tissue are the health of your body, in general.
  2. Basic skill.  Working on unconscious competence in integration of breath and movement.  
  3. Proper stress response.  Stress never hurts you if you keep the physiological reactions under control.  In other words, if you breathe and move as if you are relaxed, your brain believes it.  You are in the eye of the storm.
  4. Goal focus. Clarity on my long-term intentions.
  5. Goal focus.  Clarity on what I need to do TODAY to take another step toward long-term goals.
  6. Modeling success–I do this while envisioning a powerful role model who has the ability to navigate the territory ahead.  One of the most amazing things you can do, “stepping out” of your ego or perceptual limitations by asking: “What would X do?”
  7. “Secret Formula” work.  NOTHING is more powerful in my experience.  The people who think that “if you focus on what you want enough the universe will provide it” are missing a critical question: how do you know what “enough” is?  I’ll tell you: when you are a fanatic about taking action every day. Can’t wait to get up out of bed and get to work.  Go to bed at night with happy ideas buzzing in your head.  In other words, if you aren’t motivated enough to get your butt off the couch, what the @#$$ makes you think the “universe” is going to give a damn?   
  8. The order is different, though.  I go from gratitude to goal to daily actions to faith.   By knowing what my long-term goals are, what I have to do TODAY to make them happen, focusing on happiness NOW, finding belief that I CAN and SHOULD accomplish these things I create a context for every action, every motion, every breath.  Everything has meaning, all the time.  Everything is a way of asking “who am I” or “what is true?”
  9. I define the minimum action that will take me one step toward my goal. I can do more, but cannot do less.  One sentence written. One page read.  Three Tibetans.  Scanning my goals on 3 x 5 cards.  Meditating for sixty seconds five times a day.  Make it so small that there is no rational reason not to do it.  The “Morning Ritual” is one of those “minimums.”  If I don’t do it, then I KNOW my “small self” is seeking to limit me.  It stops becoming “how” or “when” and becomes “who am I?  Am I a liar?  Do I keep my promises to myself?”  When you anchor things THERE, you have a very clear path: tell the truth, keep your promises.  Choose your promises with care.

 

What is your morning ritual?  Because if you tell me what you do, every day, I’ll tell you where you’ll end up in ten years.  If you don’t like the direction you’re going in, if you constantly generate enough drama to knock you off your path, you need to look at this.   Why aren’t you owning your life?  What is the real pay-off?

 

Just some thoughts to start your week, or end your year…

 

Namaste,

Steve

Thanksgiving as a key to life

It occurred to me that holidays over the next couple of months give us a lovely opportunity to look at that “Secret Formula” equation in a different way.  Due to the communicative property, we can change things from my usual formulation:

GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS

To GRATITUDE X FAITH X GOALS X ACTION = RESULTS and it works precisely the same.

THANKSGIVING is gratitude.  A time for contemplating all that we have to be happy about in life.  For me, it is family, health, all of the wonderful mentors and students life has brought me, the amazing experiences I’ve had.  Watching “Steve Jobs” yesterday, it opens with a clip of Arthur C. Clarke lecturing about the future of computers, against a backdrop of an entire room of IBM punchcard machines. I laughed because the laptop I was working on has far more computing power (heck, my Iphone does) but felt a very special warmth because I actually sat and had a private lunch with Sir Arthur at Larry Niven’s house, long long ago.  What a wonderful memory!

FAITH is Christmas.   Now, personally, I’m a Christian, and this holiday stems from a celebration of the birth of Christ, and revolves around the meaning of this in the Christian tradition. But it is also a cultural holiday, a time that most of us can tap into memories of joy and peace and possibility, of believing in flying reindeer and jolly fat men shimmying down chimneys and bringing toys to every home in the world.  Magic.  Faith in things unseen, and with the stress so many of us feel right now at this time in the world, a little Peace On Earth Good Will Toward Men action is pretty healing.

GOALS is New Years.  How many of us set New Years Resolutions?  The end of a year and the beginning of another year opens our eyes to the passage of time, the need to shake off the dust, open our eyes and choose to live in closer accord to our hopes and dreams and values.

ACTION of course, is what is necessary to bring our goals to life. Constant action.  And you WILL take action if you have Gratitude for where you are now (this vanquishes fear) and Faith that you CAN and SHOULD pursue and achieve your goals.  Action. Every day.   Do this, while modeling success and being prepared to be flexible about your approach, and you maximize your chances of external achievement…and are 100% guaranteed to win.  Why?  Because ultimately, all we want is to be happy, and when you BEGIN your day with gratitude, you are a winner, no matter what happens the rest of the day.  But guess what?  You have also maximized your chance of actually performing at your very best, because joy and love are an even more powerful motivation than fear and anger.   The last time you fell in love, didn’t it feel like you could fly?

 

You can feel like that every day.   So tomorrow…before you slip into a Tryptophan coma, think of all you have to give thanks for.  EVERYONE has things, even if they were in your past. Find them and hold onto them. Just as an incident of childhood abuse can poison an entire life, a single act of kindness or joyful memory can light the rest of your life, if you hold it close in your heart.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, whichever you celebrate, and however you celebrate them.

Namaste,

Steve

(p.s…I also considered suggesting Valentine’s Day for “Action”, because if you get your sweetie the right gift…oh, never mind.  That’s naughty, and with Christmas right around the corner, I’d rather be nice!)

Do Not Think Dishonestly

I hadn’t realized how badly I needed to write STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE (available on Amazon Kindle) and get the most important 20% of the principles that lead to success down in print, so that we can reference and correlate them. All of them are shadows of another truth that can’t quite be put into words. But this book, silly as it might sound, comes as close as I’ve been able to come.

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“Do Not Think Dishonestly.”  This is the first principle in Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, and it is more important than I can say.  Human beings have a serious head-in-the-sand tendency, and when it kicks in, the amount of dishonesty that results can be life-shattering.  Here are some of the beliefs that trigger this response

 

  1. “If I don’t know of an answer, there is no answer.”   
  2. “If there is no answer, it is better to deny there is a problem.” (And it’s corrolary:  “If I don’t like the answers my political opponents offer, it is better to deny there is a problem.”)

 

Here are empowering beliefs:

  1. It is ALWAYS possible to define a situation such that it is possible to win.
  2. For adults, the harshest truth is better than the most comforting lie.
  3. The “Mastermind” principle suggests that two or more people operating in harmony have far greater intelligence than the separate individuals.  Therefore, harmonious discussion of an issue can find answers unknown to any particular individual, regardless of education or intelligence.
  4. The usefulness of a map is in knowing a) where you are on the map, b) where you are going, c) directional orientation.  Thus the necessity of telling the truth, having a definite goal/purpose, and clarifying your values.
  5. We become paralyzed when it seems there are too many moving parts, too much to do.  But if you simply deal with the “low hanging fruit”, the things you CAN do, you can always get to the “next step.”   What are some of the first steps?  Clarifying the current situation.   Forming a “master mind” of people in alignment with you.  Clarifying the desired goal, and…
  6. We must model success.  There is no human problem so bizarre and unique that no other human beings have ever faced…and successfully coped with…a similar or analogous issue.   No matter what your situation, there is someone who had less and did more.    STUDY THEM.  There is nothing sadder than a talented person who thinks they can “figure out” everything by themselves, eschewing the gathered wisdom of an entire species over thousands of years of written records.   
  7. GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS

 

I’ve never seen anyone, not a single person, who has applied these notions and remained “stuck”.  Not even close.   If you can’t change a situation, you can change your attitude towards it, such that you can find happiness…which is as close to the “meaning of life” as you’re going to express linguistically.

Just take one step a day.  Just one.   1% changes, over time, will transform your life, just as compound interest builds a fortune.    Your life, your time, your energy is YOUR fortune.  Invest in yourself today…one step at a time.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Our First Review!

 

“The stories of this family come together to pretty much prove what I would like to call a fact.. If you apply what this book was teaching then you should be able to achieve the things you want in life.. Change yourself internally and take action externally to achieve what you want..”Star Wars

 

http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Saved-Life-adventure-ebook/dp/B0186DYDVY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448289945&sr=8-1&keywords=Star+Wars+Saved+My+Life

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Great!   Been asking myself for years what the best way to move forward with my goal of one million awake, aware, adult human beings, and we’ve taken the next logical step, the creation of STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE, our self-help book for lovers of SF films.   And while we made it to #4 on the Amazon bestsellers, the real reward is being able to engage in a conversation with the world, to look at every comment, positive or negative, and answer from a consistent framework.

Our first review (above) is five-star (Yayy!) and of course we’re eager to see the next ones, but let’s look at it.   The most important idea is the “IF” in “If you apply…”   It touches on the truth, the central truth in the book (if’s short, and can be read in a couple of hours, max).  If.

The truth is that most people who buy self-improvement books do not read them.  So we made it short: you can read it in a couple of hours, max.

The truth is that most people who read such books don’t implement them.  So we give you tiny steps you can take that will make a huge difference.  Just the “Five Minute MIracle” technique combined with the Morning Ritual (move while focusing mind and emotions for 10-20 minutes) will change your life…

And BECAUSE they can change your life, if you aren’t very careful, your ego won’t let you do them, not even something that small.  So we make it clear that no matter what your goals are (and we touch on the Big Four: saving money, creating career, finding love, losing weight) if you take certain actions regularly, you will reach your goal. The problem is sustaining a consistent acceleration, even if small.  Our emotions, habits, beliefs, values and previous associations all impact our ability to do this.

So…we must have passion. Must believe in ourselves, or our goals, or our companions, or the contribution we wish to make to the world.  Must have SOME belief larger than our egos, to keep us going through the inevitable “Dark Nights”.  And when I say inevitable, I mean just that.  There is NO way to move from one level of life to another without cracking our current “ego shell” and that means fear and aversion.  

Small, constant steps.  Improve 1% per week.  Write one sentence per day.   Get conscious of what we’re eating and how little we move.   Learn to love ourselves, and find joy in life. Spend less than you earn, and invest the rest.

 

Small steps.   The difficulty is less in defining what those steps are than being able to maintain that forward motion, let alone a constant mild acceleration.  Focusing on our goals, having faith we can and should have them, taking action daily, finding reasons for gratitude every single day.

This is the gift I want to give to each and every one of you–putting your hands on the “wheel” of your life, perhaps for the first time.  And you can.  GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS.

Try it for just thirty days.  Test me.  Prove me wrong….or give yourself the gift of a new life.

 

Namaste…and May The Force Be With You…

Steve

Your Life Is Not A “Lemon”

There is no “magic bullet” for depression, anxiety, obesity, internal issues of all kinds. No therapist, meditation, operation, or whatever. Nothing you can do once that will “fix” years of issues.

The ego is a tricky bastard, and will try to convince you that habits that took years to implant, problems that took decades to ripen, should be handled in days, weeks or months.

You need to have a daily ritual of thought, movement, and emotion.

Tell me your daily rituals, and I’ll tell you your life.

Exercise daily and keep a food journal? That’s one body. No exercise and food unconsciousness? Another?

Daily meditation and journaling? One psyche. Allowing the cess-river of daily news, political debate, human negativity and existential angst to flow over you unchallenged? That’s another. Daily checking your Mint.com account to see your finances and net worth? That’s one financial path. Inability to balance your check book? That’s another.

Re-writing your goals daily and being crystal clear on what a perfect “today” would be to implement them? That’s one life. Vague or no goals, and hoping for “luck” to bring your dreams to you? That’s another. Daily focus on goals, actions, faith and gratitude? That’s one life. Rooting in the trough of our unfulfilled dreams, betrayals, failures, fears, guilt, blame and shame? That’s another.

It isn’t fair that we have to take control. It isn’t un-fair. It just “is.” Stand on the beach and scream at the waves that it is “unfair” your shoes are getting wet. Or…back away. Or…take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the wet sand.

The problems of life are always there. But so are the beauties and gifts. People who experience joy in life don’t necessarily have better external circumstances, but they have internal RITUALS when events occur, ways they sort events, filters that see both positive and negative events (you need both–negative to know what to move away from, positive to know what to move toward), beliefs that say they are Children of God (or some other positive construct).

And they maintain those structures with meditation, prayer, journaling, associating with positive people, seeking flow state, moving toward their goals, taking daily action, loving themselves, getting hugs, or whatever else they need to remain balanced and dynamic.

I remember listening to a group of folks, long ago, complaining about their bodies. They were upset that the human body was so badly designed. Your spine is such an inefficient and ineffective structure, you see, and we fall apart so easily…

I looked at what they were eating, their passive habit patterns, lack of healthy sleep, and other issues and realized they had been given BMWs and never changed the oil, checked the tires, tuned up the car, and that they poured sugar in the gas tank every day…and then complained about having a “lemon.”

So foolish, so childish, so sad.

It’s your choice. You can have a lemon of a life, or you can have a classic.

Just tune-up daily, would you, please?

Namaste,

Steve

Every Damned Day

There’s a great scene in Steinbeck’s “Once There Was A War” where a naval cook wears a weary, discouraged expression, as if realizing that “there is no way to feed a man once and for all.”    I love that.

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I have a dozen different ways of looking at a story, and with the new book, “Entanglement”, I needed them all.   I had to look at the tale from each character’s position.  Look at the characters from the neutral perspective of the events, as if researching a newspaper story.   Broke the scenes out on 3X5 cards.   Covered the wall in Post-It notes.  Used outliners, mind-mapping, wrote the novel as a script, condensed it into a 3-minute pitch, a 30-second “elevator pitch”, visualized it as a comic book, and told it backwards from the climax.

None of them worked.  All of them worked.  Each revealed just a tiny bit of what I’d not seen before.   Needed every single one of them.

 

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I have an obsessive compulsion to jigger with my workout routines, have filled notebooks with ideas about kettlebells, clubbells, martial arts drills, yoga, Tibetans, synaptic facilitation, visualizations and freehand drills.

With ruminations on the difference between health and fitness, of how my body and goals have changed over the decades, with the interactions of cardio, strength, agility, flexibility, mobility, balance, immune system strength, reflexes, and perception. What is efficient?  What is effective?  How must action and recovery be balanced?  The illusion, one that I enjoy feeding, is that there is a “perfect” routine out there, and that I will one day discover it.  Keeps me emotionally and intellectually engaged with what many consider purely a physical activity.

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What is the meaning and method of success?  My mother started me on this road by playing 33 ⅓ records of THINK AND GROW RICH, THE STRANGEST SECRET, THE GOLDEN KEY, PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, ACRES OF DIAMONDS and AS A MAN THINKETH.  Stuff wormed its way into my heart.  But then what is success?  Health?  Happiness?  Love?  Money?  Fame?  Freedom?  Balance?  Evolution?  Spiritual growth?   Adulthood?  Security..?

 

And what are the most important roads and methods to achieve it, whatever “it” is?   Visualization?  Goal setting?  Raising energy?  Managing emotions?  Finding Allies?  Modeling behavior?  Constant action? Self-love?  What are the best methods? What ratios of one to another?  What syntax of performance?

 

If I accept the idea that the core will be found either in some combination of  opening the heart and mastering the body, which is more important?  How do you recover from the inevitable failures?    How to handle temporary successes? What is the “I”, and what is the word the “I” perceives?

 

All of this can be viewed as infinite complication, or endless fascination.  It’s up to you.

 

What I do know is that every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, I awaken and feel my heartbeat, then find my child self and my inner elder.   Love that little boy and listen to my inner wisdom.  EVERY SINGLE DAY I perform my morning ritual of goal, faith, action (what do I need to do to have a perfect day today?) and gratitude.

 

EVERY SINGLE DAY I eat I work my body.   EVERY SINGLE DAY I write a thousand words, and every other day I polish 25 pages.   I also read 10X as much as I write (yesterday, a terrific Hornblower short story. But I’m leaning toward more Mark Twain…)

 

And every day, I count on it that life will throw everything at me, that if I don’t remind myself who and what I am, and what my life is about and why I give a damn, that I’ll be overwhelmed and bogged down and poisoned by the negativity constantly vomited at you by the media, by your environment, by what you remember of your history.  I have to DECIDE to be positive.

 

And that means that every single day I use everything I’ve learned in six decades of life and research.  Leave nothing in “the locker room.”  Every day is the Superbowl, and I’m the quarterback, the coach, the audience, and the owner of the team.

 

I never asked for an easy life: I asked for an authentic one.  And all it takes to get everything I need is everything I’ve got.

 

Every damned day.

Namaste,

Steve