Simple Success

sunset-3087145_640.jpg

Succeeding in life is easy:

  1. Determine what is important, what does success mean?
  2. Figure out concrete actions
  3. Prioritize: decide in which order and when you perform these actions
  4. Learn and return to 1.

People get caught to a story loop, in which they are constantly convincing themselves why they cannot achieve this. Watch your self-talk, be mindful and accurate of your thinking and your words. Then keep returning to the first rule. What is the success for me, what is really important?

Groundwork also involves a lot of self-knowledge, your values and you goals. If you do not know yourself, you cannot start succeeding, how could you if you do not even know what you want and need.

In life results come from nothing. It depends on your creativity and ability to organize common successes how much you can get from nothing and in what time. We all have limited time and no-one really knows how much.

What can be done depends only on your capacity to draw things from the unknown, the creative world. World we know today has been made from nothing. We are the shapers, we create the change.

What kind of change you want to create?

My advice is to create reasons for succeeding in creating this vision rather than excuses to obscure it.

Give Up Wants and Find Out How Little You Need

 

statue-5998_640.jpg

One of the authors I’ve been fascinated with past year and half has been Neil Pasricha. Especially the wisdom of positive psychology what he has summarized very well in his book the Happiness Equation: “Happy people don’t have the best of everything. They make the best of everything. Be happy first.”

In life you get what you are willing to give up. You always get something you really need in turn for what you are willing to give up. It takes a lot of humility and also presence. Often when things happen quickly, our minds have tendency to cling on then our capacity to prioritize and on to give up is also measured.

If we really try, how much we are willing to sacrifice for our wants? What we truly want to get accomplished, we can, but what price we are willing to pay? Those with a true purpose, mission or calling know this intuitively: they are willing to give up much for something greater story.

We all have the capacity to delay the gratifications of lower level needs, for the higher level gratification. For what story are you delaying gratification? What story is worth the sacrifice?

Attention is Our Might

il-2028946_640.jpg

Deep down, we crave for attention. Attention is the currency of love and power.

What makes life so difficult, is that we do not recognize our own might. We crave something, which makes fools of ourselves in the process.

We do not need the titles of kings and queens, gods or goddesses to have such like powers. When we are given life, we are destined to become the creators of our lives. This creation begins which the consciousness and ability to choose how to respond to that feedback which life constantly gives us.

The cognitive ability to choose our emotional response what makes human.

What will be the definition of homo sapiens? We can still influence this. Will it be the being who found the way, or lost the way?

How you will use your attention, will contribute to this definition and to the story of our species. Recognizing that all the power is in the present moment and how you will use each moment will determine everything.

We should direct majority of our attention to the present moment, because that is the source of our love and power. When we love ourselves, we become more lovable. When we do good to others, they will want to reciprocate.

World is abundant place when we start to see everything that is available in the present moment.

Winning Culture

sword-790815_640.jpg

Winning culture is a story that manages to sell itself over and over again.

There is a big but!

A culture, where people do not hold on to the common values, tends to become decadent drug ring type of thing.

In culture where people have personal and shares values,  the cultures ability to sell itself to increasing audiences does make the culture.

Follow that string!

light-677062_640.jpg

Today as I was waiting in the shops cashier line, I observed the people ahead of me paying for their groceries. People purchase goods based on their own value systems if options are available at affordable levels.

People are willing to sacrifice for the values and more importantly for the bigger story that’s at hand. However, if those choices are not made easy and affordable it does not happen.

Most of the systems are not in place to serve the bigger story of win-win-win. In shop queue I observed several such: plastic bags, cigarettes, betting, sugar… Just to get started.

The longer the stronger is connected, the more powerful it is. True value-chain.

When we want to consciously observe our actions, we have to look these through our habits and follow the string up until consequences.

Following up enough many strings helps us to make better decisions with all our most important resources: time and money.

Become the Protagonist of Your Story with Skillful Thinking

 

photographer-1436917_640 (1).jpg

On Thursday I wrote the You Are the Beginning of Your Story. There we observed the power of spontaneous thoughts to become stories that we tell to ourselves and to others. With mindfulness we can notice these stories.

In life we lack nothing. Yet, we may suffer. Why is this?  Present is constructed out of all this input (paste experiences, present sensory, future expectations etc.) in our minds. Unconscious overwhelms the conscious.

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” – Buddha

Without the skillful conscious thought, no happiness last very long, no matter how much you’ve. On the other hand, if you are skillful in thought, you lack nothing.

In particular we need to be skillful in being present. There are needs and wants to be fulfilled, in order to feel truly happy. Well wants are not needed so we can forget about them. Wants are just the rather social constructs inside our minds.

Needs are deeper than that. We need water, we need oxygen, we need a meaning. Our minds are craving for meaning and that’s why it is so good at constructing narratives.

Our actions branch into three ways by each moment. In example an opportunity of courage, we could be either coward (lack the courage), reckless (has courage, but does not see consequences) or valiant (taking action despite of the fear). Then from these branching we get the equivalent emotional feedback, to further construct on the upcoming present moments…

We are constantly revising our internal narrative.

Narrative and needs are related. Narrative tells us what we can or cannot achieve, and that path we follow. That’s why you are the beginning of your story.

You Are the Beginning of Your Story

background-2009159_640.jpg

Start by acknowledging who and where you are. What you are feelings? Note you are not your feelings, or you are not your thoughts either.

What do you want to do? What are you telling yourself about that what you want to do? What kind of story are you telling to others about what you want to do.

That story which we tell; decides what we can do. You could rewrite that story if you wanted.

As an example I noticed seemingly harmless story to repeat to myself and to others where I would say that I’ve outsourced my memory to writing. The original intentions may’ve been a momentary comedy relief, however whenever stories are repeated they start to hold on to others meanings as well. With mindful introspection I started to think that this story has been particularly convenient excuse for whenever I’ve been too lazy to put the conscious effort to recall and explain.

The story that was maybe spontaneously created, started to seem so good to that I’ve got to the habit of using it. Unconsciously formed habits do not come without downsides: the motivation to use this particular story comes from desire to save energy. While that might be alright some of the time, there are also cases where I would be better serving my purpose actually bothering to recall and use mental effort have meaningful dialogue.

With a bit of space and time, we observe ourselves and become mindful of our stories. When we recognize the mental, emotional states we are in and where we would like to be with these stories we can write better ones. Better stories serve everyone and your story can become part of our story.

Three Ideas for Fulfilling Life

hot-air-balloons-1984308_640.jpg

Values are only values when we are willing to sacrifice for them. So values require a sacrifice. Since values are so deep thing, it would be quite odd to let a day go by without sacrificing for your values. Whatever you want to achieve in life, make sure you know what you are sacrificing for.

Are your values consciously chosen or unconsciously adopted? Be mindful, because values are also what you are sacrificing for. To put it more simply: what you do influences also who you are.

Potentially values can become uplifting positive forces for you; you’ll become person of virtue. There is also the danger that you are sacrificing for values which further increase the downward spiral.

All our actions are indicators of our values. As an example: today I went to the shop and I was willing to pay for the frozen wok mix and broccoli, because I value my health and the nutritious food. From this we can deduce, that when I decided to adopt a new value about health about six months ago, it has started to root, because even after that time I am willing to make such sacrifices.

The same way actions can be indicators of destructive values as well. When I am craving for chocolate and eat way more than two bites I am valuing the short term gratification higher than my long term health.

One might say that such small things do not matter, yet it is exactly these small actions do add up. Tom Rath says it well in his book Eat, Move, Sleep that when it comes to nutrition the net score of each meal or day matters. I really like that thinking, because it simplifies each day into conscious choices which we have the ability to win.

Making the small choices does not happen with willpower or discipline. Making small choices happens by creating habits out of those choices, making those small choices easy and the difficult ones hard. I.e. give away the chocolates, spend most of the time in the veggies department in shop and always have healthy snacks at hand.

Two more ideas to make small choices happen every day:

  1. Make sacrificing for your goals fun. For example, pop hits are short and fun, they become memorable and fun therefore their listeners just can’t stop it. And then we have earworms. And yes, you even might use the power of popular music to associate with your cause.
  2. Connect your values with a bigger cause and a story. It helps if your choice does help others in their i.e. it is easier to refrain from eating beef if you know that beef is one of the most energy inefficient foods on earth and thus a big problem for our climate.

I choose to use the words sacrifice for the values, because until virtues become our second nature, we are easily misguided beings in the midst of many emotions, external influences etc. We must sacrifice the past selves, in order to grow more closely to our potential selves. Fulfillment comes naturally when we strive to live the life of virtue.

Dealing with Excuses

board-1848736_640.jpg

Having started to adjust to the local time and climate after the flight here in Ho Chi Minh. Somewhat jet-lagged in midst of another culture, I take this as a wonderful chance to make the room for many new experiences and activities while keep just those most critical ones to me: i.e. writing & reading.

In theory it is very easy to do this just by forgetting everything that I cannot control, and focusing the present moment and then making time or do the writing and reading.

So far so good, excuses didn’t hold me in the bed after napping for the afternoon and I got down to writing.

I’ve recently become acutely aware, that most of the action is prevented because of my internal dialogue, stores and excuses. To counter this, thankfully there are some living examples that the excuses hold us back, such as Wung Deshun who exemplifies the ikigai, living purposefully spirit very well.

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ― Jordan Belfort

By living courageously and consciously we can grow each day, each moment and thus develop ourselves towards the excellence of being that we still have possibility to become.

We’ll never reach perfection, so excellence will have to suffice.

Excellence is about doing your best, with what you have. It’s internal standard, internal sense of control about things. It’s about doing your best with things you can control and not worrying about things which are not in your control.

Stephen Covey, who introduced us to the circle of influence and circle of control in his book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People are useful tools here.

What things you can decide about? What are fully in your own control?

It’s all about focusing to that which you can do, which is in your control and the decision to do it. Build yourself identity of delivering to your decisions.

You can proactively help yourself to stick with your decisions by choosing the environment to support yourself as much as possible. Take cover of the basic necessities well ahead of time. Build strong social network and financial buffer to be able to sleep your nights well, knowing that you will be alright no matter what happens.

And/or alternatively just learn to live with so less that you are certain that no matter what happens you will be alright.

Excuses are at their weakest when they are just born in the form of story to your mind, be mindful about this and kindly remind yourself of the crawl towards your goals: even a little bit adds up to something. Zeroes do not add up to anything, work to get any results for today and then rest.

What kind of story are you telling to yourself?

woman-1262450_1920

Lao Tsu said if you correct your mind, rest of your life will fall in place.

And it’s so right. It is how we think that our world is. Stop and think, what kind of story are you telling yourself?

What kind of elements there are in the story? Anything can be viewed in a different light. Failures are valuable learning experiences, which help you grow as a person. They are the foundation where you lay your success brick by brick. Soon you will have a temple of success and then you see that each failure was necessary to get it done.

Present is your gift, the possibility to forge a future. Use your imagination to build your temple first by imagining the best possible life you can. What does it require?

Start working humbly from where you are, and you may get there. Present is more valuable than we know.