I hate to break the news…

…but that person next to you, that you may or may not care so much about, they’re not going to be here forever.

For your own sake, I encourage you to take a moment to love them, right now, because you value them. Then, love them a bit more because you don’t want to feel the emptiness when they’re gone. Love them some more because they might feel the same way about you. You can also love them even more than that for no good reason. Lastly, love them just because you’re a loving person.

Love as much or as little as you want, just don’t wait to do it.

The Great Motivator

I don’t know Diane Ransom personally, but I do know the person she writes about here: http://www.dianesansom.com/2011/10/the-great-motivator/

This post describes an excellent example of “tough love”, of love with respect. Children ideally get love and guidane like this, and are then able to organically internalize it over time, providing it for themselves as they mature into adulthood. People who seek this later in life are able to “reparent” themselves by finding appropriate mentors, healers, and counselors; then healing/growing/developing as an adult. This level of personal responsibility is incredibly necessary to have in place in order to maximize any other personal development/growth/education..

Not getting this healthy form of love and guidance is a major contributor to people developing, what I call, “personal hell”; that being a common tendency for holding others responsible for our happiness. It’s called a “personal hell” is because it’s our own; no one else is responsible for it. Many people don’t receive this very clearly, though, and the dysfunction it causes is prevalent (reality TV, tabloid sensationalism, unnecessary drama, etc…).

The crux of this is the Power of Choice. We get to choose how to perceive our situation, what we think about it, and how we choose to respond. This goes for every single situation, every moment in our lives. We live in “hell” when we don’t take responsibility for this power that belongs to us.

While it may be beyond our imagination to see ourselves as Roberto Benigni in “Life is Beautiful”, he epitomizes this power of choice. Anthony Robbins describes countless ways for understanding how and why we can master this power. I’ve heard many examples of people overcoming their horrid situations by using their abilities to choose their “reality”.

While it may take a person of authority to speak to us with tough love, especially if we’ve never had it modelled successfully for us in the past, the bottom line is that we are all capable of being the “Great Motivator” that we each need for ourselves. That, too, is a choice.

Opportunity and support is always available

“The support you need is always here for you.  It is simply a matter of opening to receive it in the form it shows up in.” –Nancy Parker

As my friend Nancy Parker says, “You’re not alone.

Ever.

In a professional capacity, I offer help only when it’s requested. It’s oddly ironic… I recently mused over my reluctance in the past to ask for help myself. I had an over-developed sense of self sufficiency, and an unconscious lack of trust for others — a stifling combination.

I’ve come to see clearly, though, that the stricture was clearly within myself. On the other side of that blockage, I’ve enjoyed the profound and sometimes-strong-sometimes-delicate nature of cooperation, and many of those experiences have been borne out of my own requests for help.

The people I’m most interested in helping are those that have disbeliefs. There may be someone feeling alone, that just can’t imagine someone helping them, someone relating to their experiences. Perhaps someone has become discouraged because they’ve exhausted all the possibilities that they could imagine themselves. Maybe they find themselves exhausted from overwhelming circumstances.

I can relate to all of those thoughts and feelings. In addition, I’ve found that most people can relate as well.

I’ve found that much of the apprehension comes from specific experiences that lead us to certain beliefs. The problem is that many of those beliefs no longer apply and/or are based on false assumptions. Perhaps a playground incident led us to believe that people were mean. Maybe a painful relationship led us to believe that it would be impossible for find a suitable partner. Have you ever asked for help and been turned down, disappointed, or maybe discovered that the cost was far higher than you expected?

If those experiences occurred in emotionally charged circumstances, they may have felt more significant than they really were. All of those situations may have been true at the time, but they’re probably no longer relevant or “real”. Situations change, and so do people. Continuing to live with those beliefs means that we’re “living in the past”, continuing to respond according to circumstances that are no longer present.

Seeing the truth of the matter, we have opportunity to change. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see these truths; it can be as easy as asking a trustworthy person for their perspective.

Note: Just as a “for instance”, if you’re looking for healing or development within your body, people like Nancy or Monika can help. If you need support in some other facet of life, I can help with that as well — I know a lot of qualified people that can help.

If you, or someone you know, feels stuck or discouraged, or if there are aspects of your life that no longer work for you or could use improvement, seek help. It’s out there.

Has your chewing gum lost it’s flavor?

“Man rising above death, reaching upward to God and toward Peace.”

Spoiler: this is a thought experiment arguing for the virtue of meditation.

This feels like an epic post that’s been brewing for a while. I think it was finally spurred by a friend turning 50; he posted some thoughts about where he’s been, where he is, and where he’s going. I could relate to much of it as we’ve both gone through a significant number of life-altering events. All of that was in the context of an “auspicious date”, as the traditional Chinese might say; an opportunity for reflection and consideration.

So, I’ve had the luxury of enjoying some amazing food in my life. I’ve been to 5-star restaurants, worked in one myself that was award-winning, and I’ve got a lot of friends who are amazing chefs. I live in a community that celebrates good food; fresh, flavorful, rich, healthy, decadent… you name it, you can probably find it. I know it gets better, especially in cosmopolitan cities like New York and San Francisco, let alone places like Paris or who knows where else.

A thought came to me, though, that there are limits to the indulgence of food. I imagine, if I had limitless resources, that I could thoroughly enjoy food for my entire lifetime, constantly seeking whatever I wanted, satisfying my every taste. If I lived long enough, I could repeat my indulgences until I got bored, tired of the same experience, ever moving onward. But setting aside the limits of time and resources, could I experience satisfaction and fulfillment forever, just from food? At some point, I think I might actually tired of the pleasures of food.

I could imagine the same for adrenaline, and I know this from personal experience. I used to be a speed junkie — ask anyone that’s known me for a while. I’ve owned more than a dozen motorcycles, tuned my own vehicles, I’ve even won trophies. To be sure, I still love going fast, but my taste of speed has become more sophisticated. I yearn to master the vehicle, to control my travel at speed. That, too, becomes an indulgence, in my self image as a skilled driver, the owner of a “cool car”, prestige, accolade, self-importance. At some point, given enough time, I might tire of that pursuit. Probably not in this lifetime, but as an experience that I seek for fulfillment, I think there’s an end, a limit.

My satisfaction as a father, oh boy… It’s a common thing to relate with other parents about, that insistence by our children to grow. They just keep getting older, more mature, more independent. As much as I beg, plead, cajole, and insist, my daughter keeps getting older. Thus, my time of fulfillment and pleasure with being a dad is limited. It will continue for as long as we both live, and my love will never end, of course. But as a source of fulfillment, parenting is limited.

I’ve gone through my mind, and tried on various other pleasures in life: toys, career, money, books, music, relations, sex… I can see them all as being fulfilling for a lifetime, but what about beyond? What would come next after all my personal wants, needs, and desires were completely fulfilled?

The answer that comes to me is to build, support, and develop; to provide for others. Yet, even that as a pursuit, as honorable as it is, could exhaust itself. So we achieve every wonder in our science-fiction universe, explore every star, colonize and build every corner of the universe… then what?

For me, it comes down to the act of meditation — achieving a sense of completeness, fulfillment, peace, bliss; nay, actually attaining the essence of being beyond all that, the Hindu Brahman, the state of Zen, a God-consciousness. This is the end that I see from this experiment.

But, I’ve got this lifetime that’s in progress. I do have a chance to enjoy every bite. I can indulge in speed, even on my feet. I am in the midst of my daughter’s childhood, and I’m loving every minute of it. I have rich, wondrous relations, a satisfying and challenging career. I even have chances to build, support, and develop; and every opportunity to do so brings deep joy and satisfaction.

I have a choice, though, to simply indulge in the physical pleasures, or to keep striving; to transcend this existence, or at least to try. Why would I do this? Mostly, because I can. It’s easy to include this as part of a lifestyle, a priority, a core value. I do it because it’s been shown to me by countless others as being a Good Thing. I do it because I’ve been in touch with it, and I can’t help but try to share it with anyone that will listen.

It’s like having a never-ending gift, and wanting to share it with everyone.

Since I’m not immortal, I strive to embody that state of Zen, and bring it into this life each day. In my experience, it adds a little something extra (actually, a lot!) to all those other pursuits. Carrying a sense of peace from all things, and a connection to all things… it helps to transform and transcend this human experience.

So, what do you value? Is it enough to simply pursue indulgences, luxuries, experiences and “stuff”? Is that enough for your lifetime? If you follow my thinking, why wouldn’t you value and honor meditation, the end-of-all pursuits? If you don’t agree, what would you strive for instead?

Language — we all have a duty to “tone it down”, until we don’t.

I do my very best to be respectful of others, and in doing so, there are times when it’s appropriate to take responsibility for a situation. I do so almost 100% of the time with my daughter, as she’s a minor child; those times I don’t are when we’re allowing her to stretch and grow into her own independence.

There are also times when people demonstrate that they are clearly not being responsible — people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people with mental instabilities, etc… Even in those cases, I do my best to respect their choices, unless they are threatening harm to myself or others.

Using that as a working context, there are times when I need to apply the same thinking to my language. Again, in the case of my daughter, it would be ineffectual and possibly harmful to her if I used language beyond her ability to describe something to her. I also need to guide her towards more sophisticated aspects of life with consideration for her developmental level — openly discussing adult sex in explicit terms with her as a child would be harmful, even traumatizing.

So, as in that case, there are times when I have a duty to “tone down my language”. In fact, as a coach, it’s in everyone’s interest to find the most appropriate and accessible way to communicate. If I don’t, then I’m thinking more for myself than for the person in front of me.

The same goes for many other concepts and ideas. As a technology consultant, I need to speak the language of my client, otherwise I lose them; they can’t keep up, they lose interest, they feel uncared for. That’s bad business.

This can be applied in any context where there’s an inequality of knowledge. Consider a husband-wife relationship. If a husband doesn’t understand the complexities of his wife’s needs, she has an obligation to bring him up to speed. By presuming that he knows her needs, or that he ought to forecast and intuit them, she’s not honoring and respecting the necessary growth in the relationship. The very same rules apply in the other direction as well — this isn’t just for one gender or the other.

At the same time, I need to keep my ears open. I need to pay attention to when they do comprehend what I’m saying, so that I can give them something progressive afterward. Continuing to talk in overly simplistic terms can hold back development, and even become an act of coddling.

If I don’t pay attention to these aspects of communication, then I’m paying less attention to my client; and they’re the one’s paying for it.