Sunday, December 16, 2012

How 12-21-2012 Could Change Our Lives:


12-21-2012. This date has been on peoples’ minds recently and has naturally been getting much media exposure. The day is the reported last day of the ancient Mayan calendar and in combination with other Mayan beliefs, has led many to believe that something tremendous will affect us all. This cryptic day of ones and twos has led an innumerable amount of people around the world to believe that a series of transformative events – whether apocalyptic or Utopian – will occur in the form of celestial transitions, theological revelations, or a change in universal consciousness. Whatever the case may be, many are hopeful that something drastic will happen and it will undoubtedly be an exciting day.

I refuse to debunk it as a myth because, quiet frankly, anyone who claims to know what will or will not happen on a future date is arrogant and disillusioned. Uncertainty is a universal phenomenon and like many things in life, our future needs to just play out and requires patience. But there is overwhelming evidence that would lead one to think that this is just another pipe-dream that fuels the fires of hype and fright throughout the world.

I’m sure we all remember the Y2K scare in 2000 but that is just a drop of water in the ocean of end-of-days predictions and date setters. (I was originally going to write some examples but it became too exhaustive.) In short, there are over 250 historically documented doomsday dates, false messiahs and second comings, raptures, and miscalculations.

This outrageous number is embarrassing and it highlights how so many have grossly taken advantage of the natural human desire for liberation and connection. But many really believed their convictions. When they allowed their entire lives to revolve around one date – only to see it pass without monumental changes – they committed suicide or lost their sense of life’s purpose and direction. Much like what happens when you violently shake a snow-globe that has been untouched; their confident and settled beliefs soon turned chaotic and wreaked havoc on their minds.
     
Why are we so addicted to this phenomenon? It literally blows my mind and I can’t wrap my head around it.
     
Surely this is a universal infatuation. From the search for extra-terrestrial life on other planets, paranormal activity, and doomsday prophesies to conspiracy theories, espionage, and beautiful blood-sucking vampires that thrive at twilight, nothing gives life a surge of excitement quite like mystery, mysticism, folk-lore and the unknown. Could this just be another part of the trill of it all?

Perhaps, subconsciously, many of us want a revolution in our lives. Some drastic event that would change our daily routines, break down the barriers of human interaction and connection, and pave the way for something new. Something that would shake our realities and send humankind on a thrilling new tract.
      
Either way, I think 12-21-2012 and new years can be a great opportunity for us all. Like any day, it can be a bigger turning point in our lives than we could ever imagine.
    
Maybe we just need an opportunity to forgive or apologize or reconnect with a friend or family-member. Perhaps we need an excuse to be honest, ask questions, break fear, and take a stand. Maybe we need a reason to try something new, break a bad habit, or start that new exercise regimen. It could be that we’re waiting for the right moment to tell that special someone how we REALLY feel about them.

In that case, make today, the 21st, or New Years THAT day. If you knew you were going to die soon what would you want to say or do? It’s the biggest motivation. Also, a New Years resolution is a perfect opportunity to start something new or finally get it done. So, take a healthy risk! It will change the course of your life and pave the way for new and exciting moments that have never been experienced before.

Sometimes, you just need an excuse.

And who knows, maybe our lives really will change on 12-21-2012… ;D

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hi, I'm Human: We're All in This Together

There is a longstanding philosophical dialogue about how we identify with ourselves and who we are. Most times, if you meet someone new they will tell you their name, profession, and where they are from. 

It's no wonder that many people identify themselves this way. This small talk gives others a glimpse into our lives -where we are coming from and where we are going - without divulging too much personal information. While some believe it is an ethical imperative to not solely identify people by what they do for a living, the aforementioned practices are an accepted form of social etiquette. 

But there is a fine line between formalities and fallacies. 

My experiences in the professional world have shown me that many people are living a facade. Yes, we all fake it at times and many of us are damn good actors. Sometimes, we have to be. But I think that some people need a reminder that we are all human. 

I was recently assigned an article for the magazine I write for that will be featured in an upcoming issue on influential women in the workforce. The article is a profile on a woman who works for a government organization called FEMA which has recently merged with the United States Department of Homeland Security. As I did some research to write the paper, I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the past professional positions she held: 

Applicant Services Manager for the Maryland National Processing Service Center

Disaster Assistance Employee for the Department of the Interior’s South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

Special Assistant to the Acting Deputy Director of the Inter-Agency National Disaster Housing Task Force
 

“What does that even mean??” I asked myself rhetorically. 

After further research, I saw it all as a thought-out game. It was as if they are playing one big performance – like on Broadway - with acting and formalities. Characters that have funny names and hide behind masks and big words. It’s one big behemoth amount of business-like bull5#!7. 

Yes, I do understand the need for professionalism and intellectual formalities, and I mean no disrespect to the government agencies that provide for the people, but I try to find a balance so I don't get stuck playing "the game". 

We are emotional creatures. Show some life! Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people suppress there emotions because they think emotions are a sign of weakness. This is false and if used properly, our emotions can single-handedly be the greatest tool we can work with in our lives. 

Personally, I don’t think that we can afford to be too haughty. Many of the commodities that we enjoy in society are relatively new: the gadgets, the fashion, the media revolution, even basic liberties and forms of civility. Not too long ago women and blacks didn't have equal rights and in many places throughout the world they still don't. The terrors of the holocaust and other wars and genocides throughout the world can still be felt today and in parts of the world atrocious, barbaric, and simply unfair acts take place on a daily basis. The fact that I can type this up on a subway, sharing a train with women, Asians, Moslems, blacks, Europeans and countless others is nothing short of miraculous. 

I’m not minimizing our growth as a people but our history should put things into perspective.
 
Aside from the newfound glory we experience from our technological treasures and other freedoms, there are universal bonds that connect us all.

Many of us have experienced our fair share of teenage angst, love and loss, struggle and internal battle, pain and sensation, joy and laughter, self-doubt, and hard work. Uncertainty and the inability to predict the future is a universal phenomenon. Strangers can share a laugh. It’s part of the human experience – which we share. We all make mistakes. We are all somebody’s child. We have a heart in our chests! Why so serious? LIGHTEN UP.

There are 7 billion people in the world, yet we cannot even agree on how we all got here. Sure we may have managed to find work, meaning, love, and fun but we were all thrown into existence, many times having to figure it out by ourselves. Rarely do we stop and think that we are moving 1000 mph on earth (trip on that!) and that it comes full circle every 24 hours. We are small. Don't get-ego death but it is true.

As my good friend so eloquently put it:

"Everybody poops." 

So don't hesitate to let your guard down and truly connect with the people around you. We may have a lot more in common than you think.

Surely, we are all unique. But the people who truly understand their worth and are confident with who they REALLY are, don’t spend their energy playing pretend.

We are all part of the human race. Ideally, we can all find equilibrium and know when to put up our proverbial fences and when to let our guard down. How to not be too open and never be too closed. When to be professional and when to have personality.

Many thinkers have pleaded for the use of empathy and emotional intelligence in our interactions. These useful tools can strengthen ties that bind us together as emotional beings and pave the way for closer human connections that we all crave. 

We are all human. We are all growing. We are all in this thing together.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What are you thinking about?

The mind can be a very tricky thing. At times it can be funny - other times it’s no laughing matter. On a personal note, I know that I need to take a balanced approach when dealing with my thoughts. Whether trusting my instincts, entertaining memories, or analyzing my stream of consciousness, I’ve found that, at times, I need to yield and not take my thoughts too seriously.

To a certain degree, if many of us placed our minds under a microscope - judging them according to medical textbooks – we’d end up in the loony bin:

Having trouble concentrating? You must have ADD

Feeling down? Clinical depression

Changes in mood? Bipolar disorder

Have a change of attitude? Schizophrenia

Dark thoughts?  Psychopath

Don’t care? Sociopath

Like things orderly? OCD

You may also have anger management issues, social phobias, substance abuse issues, and autism… If you inspect your mind for flaws you will find what you are looking for. Obviously, for most people, this is foolishness. We may have extraneous thoughts and emotions but we’re not crazy! (Okay, mental illnesses do exist in some people but only a diagnosis from a licensed professional can determine that.)

From a psychological standpoint, it is not always wise to suppress one’s thoughts or muffle their "inner voice". I have learned from personal experience that if you constantly try to shut off your mind you will one day be successful. This can be a terrifying experience! When you finally want your identity back you will find that it's not so easy to start the motor again and this can lead to dire consequences that will be manifested in your personal, social, and work life.

Our minds can be both our best friend and worst enemy. There are so many factors that can affect our thought-processes and sometimes we may feel that our thoughts just aren’t ours. However, if we want to enjoy the benefits of positivity, clarity, understanding, creativity, depth, and social finesse, we must learn to cope with the negativity, fear, doubt, low self-esteem, and occasional fog we all experience from time to time.

But is it safe to turn down our thoughts or at least ignore them?

An influential mentor of mine once told me that on some days he's so plagued by negative thoughts that he has a "no thinking day". Obviously, he doesn't just shut down because as a father, teacher, and international self-help guru he has responsibilities. But when he knows what needs to be done, yet is faced with his own venomous thoughts, he puts his mind on the back burner and focuses on action.

"Sometimes, you need to stop thinking and just do it. Once you entertain negative thoughts you can lose confidence, increase doubt, and even convince yourself not to do what you know needs to be done," he said. “DON’T THINK - JUST DO.”

The opposite is also true. Sometimes, in life, I know exactly what needs to be said or done but I’m faced with a combination of fear and lethargy (the two go hand in hand.) In a way, laziness is the worst trait to have. It’s a curse because I may KNOW exactly what needs to be done but laziness will prevent me from doing so.

This is the phenomenon of opposition. Many times, if it doesn’t come from outside influences it will come from within. But when you need to act, you may just have to ignore the resistance. Many people have the ability to do many great things – it just requires work. At times, you just need to do what you need to do regardless of how you feel, what your fear is telling you, or what others say.

And remember:

When the mind says go and the body says no just remember who's in charge!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sometimes, Life Hurts:


As I write this, I’m sitting in a small cafĂ© by the bay in New York City. After the subway got stuck in a tunnel and sat idle for over 20 minutes, I got off and ran to the bus-stop where I intended to travel back home for the weekend. When I frantically reached the platform, huffing and puffing and with fire in my eyes, the ticket manager could barely look me in the face as he told me I had missed the bus by only a few minutes.

There is an old saying “when life gives you lemons - make lemonade”. I’ll be honest; I didn’t think that at the time. I petitioned for a new slogan “when life gives you lemons, squeeze them in the eye of the closest person next to you”. I was a bit bummed by the unavoidable blunder but I soon focused on maintaining a mature mindset. So I set out to make use of the plentiful free time I found myself with.  Thankfully, I can catch the next departing bus in only a couple of hours and for only a small fee.

As I settled in and collected myself, I had an insight. I think you can relate:

Sometimes, it hurts.

It hurts when you miss your bus
It hurts when you run in the wrong direction
It hurts when you get your hopes up only to have them shot down
It hurts when you get laughed at or ridiculed
It hurts when you don’t say or do something because you’re afraid
It hurts when you hurt others
It hurts when people don’t return your calls or emails
It hurts when you fail, slip up, or make a mistake
It hurts when there’s too much work to be done
It hurts when you can’t practice what you preach
It hurts when you’re late for something important
It hurts when you love someone who doesn’t care much for you
It hurts when you feel like a stranger
It hurts when you get chastised or yelled at
It hurts when you need to do something you don’t want to
It hurts when you lose control
It hurts when people don’t appreciate your hard work
It hurts when you care for somebody more than they care for themselves
It hurts when people just don’t get it
It hurts when you try to do something nice but it crumbles to the ground
It hurts when you get abused, cheated, or lied to
It hurts when you’re stuck
It hurts when you’re out of luck
It hurts when you forget to duck
It hurts when you just don’t give a

Sometimes, life hurts.

But it’s worth it to BE positive when things don’t work out because, quite frankly, the alternative can really suck and make the situation a lot worse. Focus on a positive solution and never lose HOPE. Make one more effort and don’t give in. It's a thoughtful and proactive decision, deserving of recognition and applause.

Although, sometimes, there is nothing that can be done and you must helplessly watch as things transpire before your eyes. Incompetence can be a terrible feeling but take the hit. Face it boldly and keep on truckin’. You will get through it and there are good times around the bend.

Pain is temporary – it will pass.

Sometimes, it just takes some time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

ENERGY, ANXIETY, & EXPRESSION:


“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways”

-Sigmund Freud


Basic physics teaches us that we cannot destroy energy. But what is energy? Scientific technicalities aside, (and for the sake of this article) energy is potential for human action. Force, drive, vitality; call it as you wish, but since you can’t destroy energy it can only be transformed or exerted into activity.

Traditionally, the term ANXIETY is defined as the feeling of worry, fear, dread, or uneasiness. I’m not a medical authority but I disagree. Anxiety is energy. Surely, once someone entertains their negative thoughts the energy is used to fuel bad feelings, but the charge itself isn’t harmful. Energy is not good or bad - it’s neutral. It is only when the charge is directed that it takes on a constructive or destructive purpose.

One of the most important techniques to develop in life is the ability to express oneself. Without expression, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions - all energy - don’t have an escape route and are trapped in the body. Human energy needs expression – to air out, if you will. If we try to suppress our energy chances are it will manifest itself somehow in some other area of our lives. And it is how this energy is expressed that will determine if the action is constructive or destructive.

If our body’s energy is not properly expressed it could have a detrimental affect on our emotional and physical wellbeing. If we don’t have the proper positive attitude, the energy will only fuel the opposite negative side of us. Instead of using our energies in the pursuit of happiness, knowledge, creativity, or to give, the force will feed brooding, fear, shame, and low self-esteem. These consequences will not only harm the mind but also the body. Negativity is known to zap the body’s energy and can make one feel lousy, sluggish, weak, and unmotivated. This is why many people sleep when they are depressed.

Caffeine, the most commonly used drug in the world, is well known for its stimulant effect. Somewhat of an illusion, caffeine gives people MORE energy and if this extra boost isn’t channeled properly the affects can be even more harmful. If your body is tense when you drink your morning coffee you may be in for a bad day. If your over-stimulated blood is not flowing freely through relaxed muscles it can cause tension, discomfort, irritability, and heart rhythm problems. This usually puts the person in a negative mindset and those bad thoughts will spiral down faster, stronger, and scarier. If this hyper-negativity isn’t stopped soon the extra energy may manifest itself in anger, destructive and irrational behavior, or sexual frustration. Since eating and swallowing increase the heart rate, your body will trick you into hunger and you may want to gorge yourself with food because the extra energy has nowhere to go and it wants out.

Fortunately, for many, there is a cure for this downward spiral. Positive thinking, relaxation, stretching, and light cardio can get the blood flowing freely. Personally, I do yoga throughout the day to relax and stay loose and I know others who hum, sing, dance, laugh, or meditate when they are feeling uncomfortably wired or anxious.

A not-so-close friend of mine once took a decent amount of the drug MDMA for “recreational use”. I ran into him about an hour later and he was clenching, grinding his teeth, and in a dramatic fit as he bemoaned how bad his life was. “My life sucks, I’m so depressed, I’m such a crack-head, My mother doesn’t love me…” He looked terrible. I immediately recognized what was happening. I ran over to him, sat him down, massaged his back and shoulders, and told him to get a grip. No more than a minute later he was glowing with bliss and radiating love and happiness! Clearly, he was so tense that the drug only made him more uncomfortable as he continued rolling down a dark road. He wouldn’t stop thanking me...

(This was to prove a point and wasn’t meant to offer a failsafe way to use narcotics. Drugs are bad. M’kay?)

Whether or not you use drugs (legal or illegal) our bodies need to express the energy that is running through our veins. Most importantly, the energy that comes from our minds – like from memories, feelings, and desires – must also be expressed in some form or another.

There are an innumerable amount of things that can be bugging us out in life: Our past, present, or future, friends and family, school, career, money, problems with our Spirituality and personal philosophy, depression, fear, war, love or lack of love, feelings of inadequacy, social issues, guilt, drama, addiction, boredom, facial acne, lack of direction, health issues, pain and past trauma, bereavement, not living up to our own expectations, obesity or eating disorders, resentment, troubles with the law, male pattern baldness, self mutilation, lack of justice, peer-pressure, hormones… The list goes on and on. (I purposely excluded “stress” because it is simply potential energy.)

Whether or not our troubles can be immediately fixed, they need to be EXPRESSED! We cannot allow them to swim around our psyches and zap up our ENERGY! We owe it to ourselves to free our minds from their constant bombardment and intrusion into our daily (and nightly) lives.

For as many problems that exist there are ways to express them. Whether using thought, speech, or action there is a way. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable speaking to a friend, family member, spouse, or therapist? So speak to yourself or your Higher Power or write it down. Can’t find the words? Hum, sing, paint it in a picture, or create music, food, or whatever from the emotions that you feel. Exercise, dance or go crazy. Boogie - woogie it out of you. Cry if you have to.  Personally, I enjoy writing but there have been times where I filled up whole stacks of papers with my junk and then burned them in a fire. Not everything we think has to be said and not everything we write needs to be published. Sometimes, things are private or scary or humiliating or gross. But we can still get it out of our mind’s eye without exposing the secrets of our Soul to society.

When we are painfully honest with ourselves and express  our deepest and darkest emotions, we can attain higher levels of our personality that were previously inaccessible. We can gain tremendous personal clarity and literally free up space in our brains for novel thoughts and ideas.

And if you’re really cool, you can catch yourself in a high-octane negative moment and reverse the charge by thinking, speaking, or acting positive with determination. The momentum will still be there and you can hit the ground running in a more positive direction. You can turn darkness into light and have it guide you through a great life.


Today is a New Day:


"But this is not my time to go
Grace has brought us another day
But if tomorrow were to bring my turn
What would I leave unsaid?
What would I leave undone?
What would I leave behind?"

 - String Cheese Incident 'SIRENS' 


Today is a new day with new opportunities:

To think
To speak
To act
To create
To exercise
To laugh
To be free
To be me
To believe in myself
To love myself
To care for myself
To trust myself
To introduce myself to myself
To have faith
To give thanks
To connect with friends and family
To connect with a community, a unit
To develop a lifestyle
To achieve or at least pursue my goals
To try new things
To express myself
To be happy and experience pleasure
To grow and feel good in the process
To love - to hope
To hope to love
To see what I am capable of 
To pursue knowledge, clarity, and understanding
To better myself
To face reality
To face my fears
To break barriers
To love - to give
To give to love
To contribute in conversation
To pray
To meditate
To break bad habits
To make good habits
To use my imagination
To reach out 
To get involved
To be a leader
To change the world
To realize who I am
To recognize who I am not
To identify with who I want to become
To find rhythm
To ask
To listen
To learn
To be aware 
To pursue my dreams, goals, and ambitions
To be responsible
To be positive
To give it one more shot
To make one more effort
To live life 

TODAY

Have a great day :D








Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Illusion of Age:


Age is a number that represents the amount of time someone has spent in this world. It in no way represents how much knowledge or experience one has gained during that period. Age does not equal capability.

I don't feel my age. I never have. Some-days I feel like I'm 35. Other days I feel as if I'm 95. On occasion, I feel 15 years old but never do I feel my age.

Awhile ago, in conversation, my mother told me something enlightening:

"Age is just a mindset," she said.

Truer words have never been spoken! Throughout the world there are men and women in their old age that run marathons, play with their grandchildren, and pretend to be young. They never stop embracing life. My friend’s 85 year old grandfather works daily, travels the world, and plays golf – he’s still got it.

The opposite is also true. I know teenagers and young adults that are as unproductive and incompetent as paralyzed patients in a nursing home, while others are innovators (think: Facebook) or on their way to become tomorrow's world leaders. Anthony Difruscia, who I recently interviewed for the magazine I write for, was elected Massachusetts State Representative at the young age of 26! Age is just a glorified detail of life that holds little to no importance unless you’re trying to buy alcohol or collect social security checks.

It's important to recognize that we have the power of choice. We may not be in control of all aspects of our lives but we can certainly choose how we live with them. By turning one’s desires into goals and actively pursuing their dreams, anyone can thrive in life regardless of age. Attitude is the key and nothing impedes growth more than thinking “I am still a child”.

So, what separates the men from the boys?

WISDOM.

Keeping aware, learning from history's mistakes, and at least thinking about the advice of those who care about us can actually give us the experience without ever going through the motions. It streamlines the growth process, builds character, and can thwart avoidable setbacks in life.

So, keep an open mind and learn from everyone and everything. Even if what you learn is what NOT to do, that's half the battle…

Never hesitate to learn from a child. Sometimes their honesty and simplicity is what we really need in our lives.

After all, “AGE IS JUST A MINDSET”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

HIGH expectations -- LOW self esteem


“When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed…
…Find a bigger place
‘cos when you have more than you think
You need more space…”

-Eddie Vedder’s ‘’Society’’

A mentor of mine relayed to me an insight from his brother, a prominent psychiatrist. He told me of a unique type of low self-esteem that is masked by over-achievement.

When one is too ambitious, yet does not live up to their own expectations, they feel deflated.

This can be tricky because we live in an ambitious society. Our world is amplified, fast paced, and in constant motion. We are living in the most advanced period in history. Along with this honor, privilege, and responsibility come the demands, expectations and pressures of keeping up with the “norm”. Everyone loves a challenge but it requires honesty, a constant balance, and the ability to yield in this supercharged society we all dwell in. While we should never UNDERESTIMATE ourselves, we cannot OVERESTIMATE ourselves either.

Similarly, another snafu can send us spiraling down the slippery slope of low self esteem: The Control Freak. If we expect to be in control of every aspect of our lives we will be harshly reminded that it is not so and if we set the bar unrealistically high we will feel unworthy due to our incompetence.

Chances are if you are ambitious you will achieve a lot in life. After all, it’s a great mindset to have! But it may not come on our terms or in our time-frames. In this fast paced society, we want results and we want them quickly but we may be jumping the gun. As crazy as it sounds we may not be able to handle our own dreams. That is the beauty of growth – it sticks. It would be foolish to run a marathon without training properly or attempt to ace a test without studying. One does not simply BECOME president of the United States (although it sure seems like it sometimes!). One may have the potential but it requires more to transform qualifications into actuality. To turn our dreams into reality.

In our “All or Nothing” society, it is important to remember that every advancement made, in any area of life, builds our capacity for greater things. Perhaps it’s building stamina, endurance, or experience and is turning you into a more capable man or woman. Maybe it’s emotional weightlifting that is opening new channels within your psyche and personality. Think of it as a chance to prove that you can do it.

Surely, this is all hypothesis and theory and like many things in life, cannot be validated. We can’t fully understand life but we can try. It all starts by customizing our own lives with the tips, tricks, tools and techniques that we all pick up along the way.

HAVE A GREAT LIFE! :D

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Debauchery and the Pursuit of Pleasure:


Debauchery is defined as an extreme form of immorality and an unbalanced form of indulgence in things that give person sensual pleasure. Some examples include: Gluttonous gorging of food, excessive sexual activity and physical companionship, extreme laziness and over-sleeping, drugs and alcohol, risky thrills including gambling, and of course, emotion addiction. In essence, debauchery is undoubtedly pleasurable. As stated above, it’s sensational! But at what cost?

Epicurus (341-270 B.C.)  the Greek philosopher writes: "No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail disturbances many times greater than the pleasures themselves."

Too much food can make one lazy and lethargic. Certain substances can leave the user slow and foggy.  Gambling can leave you broke (or in debt) or lead to other bad behavior. Debauchery can leave you lethargic, angry, empty, lonely, hazy, broke, diseased, incarcerated, or all of the above. Shooting heroin sure looks like it would feel fantastic! But not without the side affects that would infiltrate your life, family, future, society, and the world at large. So, in short, pleasure is not a BAD thing. Pleasure is just that. It’s pleasurable. But it may not be worth it.

Many forms of debauchery have a common theme – they are all easy, comfortable, and short lived. But not all lasting pleasure is easy or comfortable.

Other, more valuable types of pleasure are longer lasting and worked for. For example, if you give your time and listen to someone who is emotionally distraught or help the old lady cross the street or provide for the needy to buy food, you are creating something everlasting. By giving, we not only feel good once but are creating memories that can be accessed time and time again and can continuously make us feel good.

Other types of long term pleasure can be an investment. Loving and building human connections, consumption of knowledge, creativity, personal development… these are all things that progress and grow with time and effort. Breaking barriers, trying new things, and stepping out of our comfort zones give our lives an element of mystery, excitement, and surprise. This sharply contrasts with the almost mundane and predictable outcomes of debauchery.

Another, more specific type of investment for long term pleasure is facing our demons and tackling issues that are so much easier to ignore than take care of. By patching up our past - as daunting of a task as it may be - we can attain levels of our personality that were previously inaccessible. In short, make PEACE with your PAST so it doesn’t screw up your PRESENT.

No vice, object, or drug can produce a greater feeling than that of love and hard work. Ironically, they are one and the same…

Just because it’s easy it doesn’t mean that it’s worthwhile. Real human growth comes from breaking routine, taking risks, and blasting past the fear of failure and rejection. Life is change. But there is a big difference between just being ALIVE and really LIVING. Let’s all make the investment.

It's been a pleasure :D

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Delight of Human Nature:


Throughout existence, there are many parallels and similarities that can be found between nature and human life. The following examples are part of what I believe is a “Majestic System” that is, simply, way over my head. Regardless, I will try and present it in an agreeable, informative, and poetically pleasing manner. I hope you enjoy reading this paper as much as I have found delight in writing it.

The human mind is to the body as the universe is to planet earth. From an outsider’s point of view, the body is a physique frame with arms, legs, a torso, hair and other features. While the human body is nonetheless complex and intricate, it is the limitless mind that holds the information, memories, desires, and secrets of the person. While cloaked in the shell of a skull with hair, the brain is the motherboard of a human being.

A resemblance can be found in regard to the relationship with planet earth and the universe. On a superficial level, planet earth is a green sphere with mountains, valleys, oceans, and fields. But it is the universe and its vast solar systems that have witnessed earth’s history; through our phases and experiments, our ups and downs. Just as the information in the brain is unseen, so is the vast majority of outer space.

The human eye – traditionally know as the gateway to the soul – shows others our emotion and experience; the epicenter of our personalities. But we can only catch a glimpse… In a striking similarity, we can peer into the perplexities of our vast universe when we look up into the sky on a clear night, yet, it has proven impossible to fully grasp the intricacies and infinitude of the cosmos. Furthermore, I find it mysteriously thrilling that the iris (color) of an elegant eye looks similar in appearance to a cluster of stars in a galaxy…


PICTURE:  





















Photo Credit: Jessica Ossa Photography 

As a side note: The earth is 2/3 water and a healthy human body is 65% water. Our attitudes can be compared to nature’s four-fold seasons: Bright, fun Summer, the pitfalls of Fall, cold as Winter, or warm and growth-oriented like Spring. Albeit an illusion, nature sleeps with the absence of the sun much like a healthy human sleep schedule. Just as the globe spins without fail the human heart doesn’t miss a beat…

Additionally, we cannot feel ourselves moving on this ever-spinning globe we dwell on. In parallel, we sometimes cannot appreciate or recognize the mammoth advancements we all make in our personal lives on a daily basis.

In human life, unfortunate circumstances such as disease, accidents, or injustices can strike as unexpectedly as natural disasters occur in nature. A personal tragedy can shake our lives to the core, in ways similar to that of an earthquake. Just as destructive lava explodes out during a volcano’s eruption, a similar reaction – of our own emotions, words, and actions – may occur when angry or in a rage. Sometimes, our emotions are so unbearable that they manifest themselves through tears much like a torrential downpour. Other times, we are so full of passion that we sing or vocalize, in a strong wind, like a gust in a tornado or hurricane.

Water, grains, and produce – a divine charity – help plants, animals, and humans survive and grow. So too, a man’s seed and woman’s milk help create life and sustain, nourish, and cultivate it into development.
  
Besides for the obvious similarities that human beings have with animals – such as the need to sleep, eat, pass toxins, and the desire to procreate – humans share personality traits that are stereotypically found in animals: We all have the potential to be bold as a lion, swift as a deer, loyal as a penguin to its unborn offspring, or graceful as a gazelle prancing through the prairies. We can also be sneaky and conniving like a fox, lazy as a sloth, or stubborn as a mule. Or perhaps, like a parrot, we can offer lip-service to our family, friends, and acquaintances. Animals are merely the potential of humans and ultimately, we as humans, have the power to choose how we live our lives.
  
A butterfly that is trying to emerge from its cocoon must first develop the strength to break out of its original protective shell. This requires tedious and painful work but, ultimately, it is this painstaking labor that gives the butterfly the fortitude to not only break out of the cocoon, but survive in the environment it is so desperately trying to push out into. Perhaps, this too, is the system that we, as humans, must battle in order to spread our wings and fly and emerge as successful and prosperous individuals in societal and personal life.
   
Much like plant-life, we have roots. Along with our ancestral origins, the ideas of our intellect, like a tree, will bear the fruits of creativity if watered properly. The seed that we plant is the seed that we sow - if we are so lucky to see the fruits of our labor…

These parallels prove that we are not only dependent on nature but we are one with nature. We share life and death, growth and beauty. But as humans, we are the intelligent life – the top of the food chain – and with power come responsibilities. We have the ability to use nature or abuse nature. To work with its systems or deny how influential they are in our lives.

We have the freedom to choose, let’s make the right move.

FIN




Saturday, September 22, 2012

EMOTION ADDICTION:


Emotions are basically feelings of the mind.  There are an innumerable amount of emotions that exist, each more complex than the other. The following is a tentative list: Love, Anger, Enjoyment, Fear, Sadness, Surprise! Disgust, Shame, Excitement, Boredom, and Optimism.  Some are neutral but most fall into categories of positive or negative.

Emotions play an important role in our lives. They are a life-force that can be a springboard to take initiative and can give us the drive, momentum, and desire to take action. Emotions can motivate us, give meaning and emphasis to our words, and help us identify how we FEEL.

FEEL is the key word. Emotions are sensations! Most emotions create a feeling in the body and the more powerful the circumstance the bigger the sensation will be.

I am not a licensed psychologist nor am I a medical authority – but this is what I believe:

The world is full of emotion addicts.

As with all sensations there is a risk of dependency. Anger can produce a rush of adrenaline and can give some people a sense of passion. Fear can have a resonant affect while producing a large dose of anxiety. Memories also induce powerful emotions that, if not regulated, can lead to emotional enslavement. The power of resentment can cause people to latch onto negative feelings for years as it continues to affect them over and over again. (For more on this topic please read RESENTMENT AND FORGIVENESS)

We cannot fully understand the troubles in other people’s lives and we must never minimize their pain, however, some people who feel terrible emotional distress - to the point where they self-mutilate – can also be hooked on that pleasure. The twisted and misunderstood practice of cutting and burning oneself actually releases endorphins in the brain - the same chemical released when we eat and during exercise and sex.

While those feelings can lead to confusion and make life a hot mess, emotions aren't all BAD:

Empathy or sympathizing with others pain can also send an emotional charge through the body. Bodybuilders and sports enthusiasts may experience the power of triumph when they break barriers or score points. Even a researcher in a science lab will experience a jolt of ecstasy when there are positive results. Simply speaking to another, face to face, releases dopamine in the brain and feels pleasurable. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to be socially active.

But emotions and feelings are EVERYWHERE. They are so prevalent and it is certainly possible to get hooked. Below are all examples of how media outlets target our emotions. By changing how we feel they can influence how we think, what we want, and how we present ourselves. Big organizations understand this emotion addiction phenomenon and look to capitalize on it.

Emotion in the Media:

Music: Music is beautiful – I’m not even going to try to explain it. Music can be powerful because it can also have a resonant effect on the listener. Piano and violin are actually known for their emotional side-effects and the strong bass of a drum can be felt pulsating through the body.  A performer who bellows in a rage onstage is undoubtedly hooked on those emotions and knows his listeners… By sharing in the sorrow of a prolific poet or songwriter one can latch onto those emotions and feel the same way.

Movies: Movies are similar to music only more extreme because they offer an audio-visual-emotional experience. The action, the suspense, the sex, the thrill of a horror flick, along with the fast pace, bright lights, loud and heart tugging music is enough to give any emotion addict their fix.

News: As a business journalist, I’ve experienced this firsthand: Most news today is sensationalized and headlines and stories MUST be captivating! With so many news outlets, there is competition for readers and the one with the most eye-catching headline wins.

News outlets that cover breaking news work with any lead they can get. Unfortunately, because of the pace of their publication, some focus more on the emotional effect of their story and put little emphasis on content. Most news agencies also have agendas and write what they want you to feel, giving them tremendous emotional clout on their readers. Other news outlets love drama. They take serious political issues and portray them as if they took place on a playground while they instigate fights, rabble-rouse, spread propaganda, and fuel the fires of chaos throughout the world.

Advertisement and Marketing: This is a big one. Most ads focus on influencing your emotions so that you will buy a product. Car sales, insurance, political ads, fast food, beer, sponsor a child for a penny a day… It’s not very difficult to spot out.

The aforementioned are all examples of UNNECESSARY emotions. My goal isn’t to persuade the reader to discontinue all association with the media, but to help them recognize their influence. Have you ever cried from a movie, song, or article? Have you ever felt compelled to think, feel, speak, or act a certain way that isn’t you?   

Emotion addiction is a problem because it can decrease happiness. Emotions are EVERYWHERE; if not from outside stimuli it will come from within. There is no escaping it but we must not expose ourselves to unnecessary emotions that can affect our mental health, personalities, and quality of life. There is a big difference between feeling good and being happy and we must not confuse the two and get caught in the trap of relying on strong emotions and feelings for our well-being.

Emotions are tools that are extremely powerful and valuable, but to live a productive life we must take the tools we have and build something for ourselves.  Just as a carpenter wouldn’t sit in a rocking-chair and twiddle his hammer in his hands, we cannot sit idly and allow the electrical current of emotion to rush through our systems. Our energies are too valuable to waste on sensationalism and drama.

As I sat down to write this I realized that it may seem as if I am trying to “debunk” life. (“Maybe we should all live in the caves of the Himalayas so as not to drown in the heavy waters of emotion that are EVERYWHERE,” I mused) That is in no way my intention. But I do believe that it is important to recognize that this phenomenon does exist. We must not get sucked into our emotions (and outside emotions) - that will only zap our energy and leave us disillusioned. We need to be cautious as we dance with the influential emotions that surround us all...

I guess if you WOULD choose to get addicted to emotions, at least get hooked on the good ones :D

I LOVE YOU ALL.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SWEET DREAMS


“Don’t let your Dreams be dreams.” – Jack Johnson

I have crazy dreams when I sleep. Whether it’s a beautiful excursion, a chaotic stream of distorted memory, or a terrifying nightmare, my dreams are intense and (feel) very real. It is amazing because I can feel sensations and emotions in my dreams. I can think, speak, and feel like I am excerting myself with real human activity. Sometimes, I have to collect myself when I awake because I’m confused. “What the hell just happened – how did I get HERE?”

Personally, I am fascinated with dreams. After reading some captivating books I became interested in lucid dreaming, but it was short lived. I was terribly inconsistent in practicing the techniques and the whole idea seemed very spooky, but I did manage to catch a glimpse into the art of dream travel. I remember one dream where I was very aware and felt connected with my personality. It then struck me that I was dreaming and I consciously exclaimed “Hey! I’m dreaming!” I then tried to slap and pinch my leg (something I learned from pop-culture) but since I felt the pain, I assumed that I was NOT dreaming. Thinking this must be my reality, I continued “living” in my dream (albeit a little dazed) while trying to figure out where I was and what exactly was going on. I remember waking up and laughing at my incompetence.

So I dropped the idea. I can’t imagine myself mastering lucid dreaming. I mean, forget living in my dreams – I can’t figure out what to do with myself during waking life!

Whatever the lifestyle or belief system, one cannot deny the inability to explain the crazy brain adventures we have when we sleep.

So what is it about our dreams? What makes us dream when we sleep? Do others dream of us when we dream of them? Do dreams take place in an alternate reality/world that we enter when we sleep or is it simply the creation of a powerful imagination?

I HAVE NO IDEA.

Dreams have forever been a mystery. Throughout history, many psychologists, philosophers, and theologians have theorized about dreaming but, to this day, no DEFINITE answer has been given to explain the brain’s phenomenon during sleep.

Certain factors can influence dreams. Food (specifically fatty foods and dairy) before bed, drugs and alcohol, and grueling schedules or high stress, even hormonal changes in the body can cause vivid dreams, but for the most part it is unexplained. It is truly a wonder.

My experiences intrigued me so I asked a handful of psychologists and thinkers what their thoughts were about dreams. Through their theories I have come up with possible explanations:

1) Just as we have extraneous, wacky, cruel, perverse thoughts throughout the day, it also happens at night. The brain never stops working and things are running through our sleep. Because the rest of the body is inactive, the brain is super-active and these thoughts cause bigger and very real sensations.

2) The subconscious mind seeps out during sleep. If our deepest needs, fears, and other thoughts are not properly expressed or suppressed, the subconscious will expose them during sleep.

So express yourself, get it out! Talk to a friend or yourself. Write it out down or paint it in a picture or play it in a song. Whatever your personal form of expression is – do it. It is terribly unhealthy and counterproductive to keep thoughts and feelings and fears suppressed inside.

I was always told not to take my dreams too seriously. I believe that we should focus more on our REAL dreams; the aspirations and goals in life that give us direction and keep us driven. The dreams that give our lives meaning and focus.

Either way, SWEET DREAMS :D 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We are small but POWERFUL; powerful yet not in CHARGE. While we cannot control the ACTIONS of others, we are responsible for our REACTIONS :D

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gone with the Wind


“Anyway the wind blows
Is-a fine with me
Anyway the wind blows
It don't matter to me”

-Frank Zappa


Life flows like the wind. Sometimes, the wind is blowing behind you, hitting your back, and you are literally being pushed forward. Everything you do is effortlessly done in harmony, almost as if you are in tune with the Universe and all its forces are on your side. You socialize with finesse and your movements are like a prowling leopard. You feel bold and radiant. You think clearly and have rhythm. You’re on point, on your game.

Sometimes, the wind switches direction. The wind blows TOWARD you and everything changes. Mundane tasks become difficult and you are sluggish. You choke on your words and trip over your feet. You lack confidence and grace. You don’t feel that you are maximizing your potential and it’s frustrating. Kind of like walking home in a strong wind, you feel the resistance. It’s as if life is rejecting your very movements.       

Sometimes, a big gust comes, unexpectedly, and blows you off track.

The cycles in life, much like the real weather forecast, is a mystery of life. One could theorize that it is because you did something wrong. Maybe it was something you ate or drank (or didn’t drink – like WATER!) or something you smoked… Perhaps some guilty feelings are distracting you. Maybe you’re tired. Maybe you just have a lot going on in life!

You must understand that it is in no way because you lack the capabilities to live a productive and prosperous life. There are many many factors that play pivotal roles in how we live our lives. Things like the weather, proper nutrition, stress, moods of loved ones, and the attitudes and vibrations of those around us can be extremely influential. They do not dictate our lives but they can certainly have an impact.

Just do your best. Always do your best – then you have nothing to regret. When you try your best, under grueling circumstances, you build immunity to those conditions. (For more on this concept please read POSITIVE CALLOUS)

It’s growth. It’s all about growth.

So keep on truckin’