Category Archives: Personal Development
Original post by Leo Babauta, however it’s just so brilliant it needed to be re-posted:
“The proper function of man is to live – not to exist.” — Jack London
Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before it.
That’s fine, and comfortable, until you have gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life.
That’s fine, until you have reached old age and look back on life with regrets.
That’s fine, until you see your kids go off to college and realize that you missed their childhoods.
It’s not fine. If you want to truly live life, to really experience it, to enjoy it to the fullest, instead of barely scraping by and only living a life of existence, then you need to find ways to break free from the mold and drink from life.
What follows is just a list of ideas, obvious ones mostly that you could have thought of yourself, but that I hope are useful reminders. We all need reminders sometimes. If you find this useful, print it out, and start using it. Today.
1. Love. Perhaps the most important. Fall in love, if you aren’t already. If you have, fall in love with your partner all over again. Abandon caution and let your heart be broken. Or love family members, friends, anyone — it doesn’t have to be romantic love. Love all of humanity, one person at a time.
2. Get outside. Don’t let yourself be shut indoors. Go out when it’s raining. Walk on the beach. Hike through the woods. Swim in a freezing lake. Bask in the sun. Play sports, or walk barefoot through grass. Pay close attention to nature.
3. Savor food. Don’t just eat your food, but really enjoy it. Feel the texture, the bursts of flavors. Savor every bite. If you limit your intake of sweets, it will make the small treats you give yourself (berries or dark chocolate are my favorites) even more enjoyable. And when you do have them, really, really savor them. Slowly.
4. Create a morning ritual. Wake early and greet the day. Watch the sun rise. Out loud, tell yourself that you will not waste this day, which is a gift. You will be compassionate to your fellow human beings, and live every moment to its fullest. Stretch or meditate or exercise as part of your ritual. Enjoy some coffee.
5. Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, worried about what might go wrong. Be bold, risk it all. Quit your job and go to business for yourself (plan it out first!), or go up to that girl you’ve liked for a long time and ask her out. What do you have to lose?
6. Follow excitement. Try to find the things in life that excite you, and then go after them. Make life one exciting adventure after another (with perhaps some quiet times in between).
7. Find your passion. Similar to the above tip, this one asks you to find your calling. Make your living by doing the thing you love to do. First, think about what you really love to do. There may be many things. Find out how you can make a living doing it. It may be difficult, but you only live once.
8. Get out of your cubicle. Do you sit all day in front of computer, shuffling papers and taking phone calls and chatting on the Internet? Don’t waste your days like this. Break free from the cubicle environment, and do your work on a laptop, in a coffee shop, or on a boat, or in a log cabin. This may require a change of jobs, or becoming a freelancer. It’s worth it.
9. Turn off the TV. How many hours will we waste away in front of the boob tube? How many hours do we have to live? Do the math, then unplug the TV. Only plug it back in when you have a DVD of a movie you love. Otherwise, keep it off and find other stuff to do. Don’t know what to do? Read further.
10. Pull away from Internet. You’re reading something on the Internet right now. And, with the exception of this article, it is just more wasting away of your precious time. You cannot get these minutes back. Unplug the Internet, then get out of your office or house. Right now! And go and do something.
11. Travel. Sure, you want to travel some day. When you have vacation time, or when you’re older. Well, what are you waiting for? Find a way to take a trip, if not this month, then sometime soon. You may need to sell your car or stop your cable bill and stop eating out to do it, but make it happen. You are too young to not see the world. If need be, find a way to make a living by freelancing, then work while you travel. Only work an hour or two a day. Don’t check email but once a week. Then use the rest of the time to see the world.
12. Rediscover what’s important. Take an hour and make a list of everything that’s important to you. Add to it everything that you want to do in life. Now cut that list down to 4-5 things. Just the most important things in your life. This is your core list. This is what matters. Focus your life on these things. Make time for them.
13. Eliminate everything else. What’s going on in your life that’s not on that short list? All that stuff is wasting your time, pulling your attention from what’s important. As much as possible, simplify your life by eliminating the stuff that’s not on your short list, or minimizing it.
14. Exercise. Get off the couch and go for a walk. Eventually try running. Or do some push ups and crunches. Or swim or bike or row. Or go for a hike. Whatever you do, get active, and you’ll love it. And life will be more alive.
15. Be positive. Learn to recognize the negative thoughts you have. These are the self-doubts, the criticisms of others, the complaints, the reasons you can’t do something. Then stop yourself when you have these thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts. Solutions. You can do this!
16. Open your heart. Is your heart a closed bundle of scar tissue? Learn to open it, have it ready to receive love, to give love unconditionally. If you have a problem with this, talk to someone about it. And practice makes perfect.
17. Kiss in the rain. Seize the moment and be romantic. Raining outside? Grab your lover and give her a passionate kiss. Driving home? Stop the car and pick some wildflowers. Send her a love note. Dress sexy for him.
18. Face your fears. What are you most afraid of? What is holding you back? Whatever it is, recognize it, and face it. Do what you are most afraid of. Afraid of heights? Go to the tallest building, and look down over the edge. Only by facing our fears can we be free of them.
19. When you suffer, suffer. Life isn’t all about fun and games. Suffering is an inevitable part of life. We lose our jobs. We lose our lovers. We lose our pets. We get physically injured or sick. A loved one becomes sick. A parent dies. Learn to feel the pain intensely, and really grieve. This is a part of life — really feel the pain. And when you’re done, move on, and find joy.
20. Slow down. Life moves along at such a rapid pace these days. It’s not healthy, and it’s not conducive to living. Practice doing everything slowly — everything, from eating to walking to driving to working to reading. Enjoy what you do. Learn to move at a snail’s pace.
21. Touch humanity. Get out of your house and manicured neighborhoods, and find those who live in worse conditions. Meet them, talk to them, understand them. Live among them. Be one of them. Give up your materialistic lifestyle.
22. Volunteer. Help at homeless soup kitchens. Learn compassion, and learn to help ease the suffering of others. Help the sick, those with disabilities, those who are dying.
23. Play with children. Children, more than anyone else, know how to live. They experience everything in the moment, fully. When they get hurt, they really cry. When they play, they really have fun. Learn from them, instead of thinking you know so much more than them. Play with them, and learn to be joyful like them.
24. Talk to old people. There is no one wiser, more experienced, more learned, than those who have lived through life. They can tell you amazing stories. Give you advice on making a marriage last or staying out of debt. Tell you about their regrets, so you can learn from them and avoid the same mistakes. They are the wisdom of our society — take advantage of their existence while they’re still around.
25. Learn new skills. Constantly improve yourself instead of standing still — not because you’re so imperfect now, but because it is gratifying and satisfying. You should accept yourself as you are, and learn to love who you are, but still try to improve — if only because the process of improvement is life itself.
26. Find spirituality. For some, this means finding God or Jesus or Allah or Buddha. For others, this means becoming in tune with the spirits of our ancestors, or with nature. For still others, this just means an inner energy. Whatever spirituality means for you, rediscover it, and its power.
27. Take mini-retirements. Don’t leave the joy of retirement until you are too old to enjoy it. Do it now, while you’re young. It makes working that much more worth it. Find ways to take a year off every few years. Save up, sell your home, your possessions, and travel. Live simply, but live, without having to work. Enjoy life, then go back to work and save up enough money to do it again in a couple of years.
28. Do nothing. Despite the tip above that we should find excitement, there is value in doing nothing as well. Not doing nothing as in reading, or taking a nap, or watching TV, or meditating. Doing nothing as in sitting there, doing nothing. Just learning to be still, in silence, to hear our inner voice, to be in tune with life. Do this daily if possible.
29. Stop playing video games. They might be fun, but they can take up way too much time. If you spend a lot of time playing online games, or computer solitaire, or Wii or Gameboy or whatever, consider going a week without it. Then find something else to do, outside.
30. Watch sunsets, daily. One of the most beautiful times of day. Make it a daily ritual to find a good spot to watch the sunset, perhaps having a light dinner while you do so.
31. Stop reading magazines.32. Break out from ruts. Do you do things the same way every day? Change it up. Try something new. Take a different route to work. Start your day out differently. Approach work from a new angle. Look at things from new perspectives.
33. Stop watching the news. It’s depressing and useless. If you’re a news junky, this may be difficult. I haven’t watch TV news or read a newspaper regularly in about two years. It hasn’t hurt me a bit. Anything important, my mom tells me about.
34. Laugh till you cry. Laughing is one of the best ways to live. Tell jokes and laugh your head off. Watch an awesome comedy. Learn to laugh at anything. Roll on the ground laughing. You’ll love it.
35. Lose control. Not only control over yourself, but control over others. It’s a bad habit to try to control others — it will only lead to stress and unhappiness for yourself and those you try to control. Let others live, and live for yourself. And lose control of yourself now and then too.
36. Cry. Men, especially, tend to hold in our tears, but crying is an amazing release. Cry at sad movies. Cry at a funeral. Cry when you are hurt, or when somebody you love is hurt. It releases these emotions and allows us to cleanse ourselves.
37. Make an awesome dessert. I like to make warm, soft chocolate cake. But even berries dipped in chocolate, or crepes with ice cream and fruit, or fresh apple pie, or homemade chocolate chip cookies or brownies, are great. This isn’t an every day thing, but an occasional treat thing. But it’s wonderful.
38. Try something new, every week. Ask yourself: “What new thing shall I try this week?” Then be sure to do it. You don’t have to learn a new language in one week, but seek new experiences. Give it a try. You might decide you want to keep it in your life.
39. Be in the moment. Instead of thinking about things you need to do, or things that have happened to you, or worrying or planning or regretting, think about what you are doing, right now. What is around you? What smells and sounds and sights and feelings are you experiencing? Learn to do this as much as possible through meditation, but also through bringing your focus back to the present as much as you can in everything you do.
It’s 5:30am on a cold winters morning. It’s raining outside. You’re sound asleep, your body in that perfect comfortable position that you could just spend all morning in without moving. You dig yourself in a little deeper under your warm duvet, mentally more than ready to settle in for another solid 4-5 hours of peaceful rest and relaxation…
… then without provocation, a sudden piercing siren shatters the calm as your alarm clock goes off beside your ear. You fumble about in the dark trying in desperation to coordinate your sleeping / numb limbs to find the off button in the dark. Disgruntled, you slump back into bed waiting for your heart rate to slow back down and thinking bitterly about what must inevitably follow. A few moments later you draw up the courage to get out into the cold night and feel your way to the bathroom. Closing the door behind you, you switch on the heat-lamps which turn the dark room brighter than the surface of the sun and leaves you standing there helpless for a few moments with your eyes pressed shut while you wait for your pupils to slowly adjust under the lids… eventually you start to progress through your morning rituals once your gift of sight has returned to you.
A short time later you depart your home with one of two prospects to look forward to; 1. A commute on public transport where you get to enjoy long queues, odd smells, crowded buses and then of course the same experience again on your way home… or 2. Take the car and try to make it into the city early enough to catch the concession parking, however all the while anxious about getting caught in some freak traffic congestion which will write off your morning in a rhythmic clutch destroying exercise, only be rewarded with a full fair parking fee at the end of it all. And the insult to injury, having to suffer endless talk shows on every single radio station with not a song between them to calm the rising beast within.
… so where am I going with all this? Well ask yourself, how is this scenario in any way, size, shape or form, quality of life? I mean, how is anybody seriously supposed to spend 30-40 years of their adult working life living like this?!
But with every dark cloud, there is a silver lining…. right? Anthony Robbins talks in one of his seminars, that in order to create action or motivate somebody to implement change in their lives, they either need to feel a strong favorable emotion toward that thing, or a strong negative emotion pushing them away from it (the latter generally being the stronger motivator). And with this is born the motivation and drive to push yourself toward achieving more with the life you’ve been given. And if you’ve found this not to be true, then it simply means that pain or unfavorable emotion isn’t strong enough for you to really want to change it, or you’ve normalized it and now believe that this is just how life is and you can’t do anything about it… what I like to refer to as ‘learned helplessness’ 😛
So next time you’re annoyed or frustrated with some aspect of your life, it’s important to remember that the choices ALWAYS remain with you to make the changes you need to make in your life. Every dark cloud will always have a silver lining, even if that silver lining is little more than the reminder you need to get off your bum and do something about it.
… a little food for thought 😉
Some of the smartest people I know continuously struggle to get ahead because they forget to address a few simple truths that collectively govern our potential to make progress. So here’s a quick reminder:
#1 – Education and intelligence accomplish nothing without action.
It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action. There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. It’s as simple as that. For some practical guidance on taking action, I highly recommend The Now Habit.
#2 – Happiness and success are two different things.
I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Every entrepreneur I know considers her to be wildly successful. But guess what? A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed. Why? “I’m burnt out and lonely. I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately,” she said. “Wow!” I thought. “One of the most successful people I know isn’t happy.”
I also know a surfer who surfs almost all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego. He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – always smiling from ear to ear. But he sleeps in a van he co-owns with another surfer and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money. So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.
“What will make me happy?” and “What will make me successful?” are two of the most important questions you can ask yourself. But they are two different questions.
#3 – Everyone runs their own business.
No matter how you make a living or who you think you work for, you only work for one person, yourself. The big question is: What are you selling, and to whom? Even when you have a full-time, salaried, ‘Corporate America’ position, you are still running your own business. You are selling one unit of your existence (an hour of your life) at a set price (the associated fraction of your salary) to a customer (your employer).
So how can you simultaneously save your time and increase your profit? The answer is slightly different for everyone. But it’s an answer you should be seeking. The 4-Hour Workweek is a good read on this topic.
#4 – Having too many choices interferes with decision making.
Here in the 21st century where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers. But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to indecision, confusion and inaction.
Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy. After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices. If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.
So if you’re selling a product line, keep it simple. And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option. Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, choose something else and keep pressing forward.
#5 – All people possess dimensions of success and dimensions of failure.
This point is somewhat related to point #2 on happiness and success, but it stands strong on its own as well…
Trying to be perfect is a waste of time and energy. Perfection is an illusion.
All people, even our idols, are multidimensional. Powerful business men, polished musicians, bestselling authors, and even our own parents all have dimensions of success and dimensions of failure present in their lives.
Our successful dimensions usually encompass the things we spend the most time doing. We are successful in these dimensions because of our prolonged commitment to them. This is the part of our lives we want others to see – the successful part that holds our life’s work. It’s the notion of putting our best foot forward. It’s the public persona we envision as our personal legacy: “The Successful ABC” or “The Award Winning XYZ.”
But behind whichever polished storyline we publically promote, there lies a multi-dimensional human being with a long list of unprofessed failures. Sometimes this person is a bad husband or wife. Sometimes this person laughs at the expense of others. And sometimes this person merely takes their eyes off the road and rear-ends the car in front of them.
#6 – Every mistake you make is progress.
Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself. In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it!
And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win. Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.
#7 – People can be great at doing things they don’t like to do.
Although I’m not suggesting that you choose a career or trade you dislike, I’ve heard way too many smart people say something like, “In order to be great at what you do, you have to like what you do.” This just isn’t true.
A good friend of mine is a public accountant. He has told me on numerous occasions that he dislikes his job – “that it bores him to death.” But he frequently gets raises and promotions. At the age of 28, out of nearly a thousand Jr. Accountants in his division, he’s one of only two who were promoted to be Sr. Accountants this past year. Why? Because even though he doesn’t like doing it, he’s good at what he does.
I could come up with dozens of other examples just like this, but I’ll spare you the details. Just realize that if someone dedicates enough time and attention to perfecting a skill or trade, they can be insanely good at doing something they don’t like to do. For an insightful read in this department, I highly recommend The Talent Code.
#8 – The problems we have with others are typically more about us.
Quite often, the problems we have with others – our spouse, parents, siblings, etc. – don’t really have much to do with them at all. Because many of the problems we think we have with them we subconsciously created in our own mind. Maybe they did something in the past that touched on one of our fears or insecurities. Or maybe they didn’t do something that we expected them to do. In either case, problems like these are not about the other person, they’re about us.
And that’s okay. It simply means these little predicaments will be easier to solve. We are, after all, in charge of our own decisions. We get to decide whether we want to keep our head cluttered with events from the past, or instead open our minds to the positive realities unfolding in front of us.
All we need is the willingness to look at things a little differently – letting go of ‘what was’ and ‘what should have been,’ and instead focusing our energy on ‘what is’ and ‘what could be possible.’
#9 – Emotional decisions are rarely good decisions.
Decisions driven by heavy emotion are typically misguided reactions rather than educated judgments. These reactions are the byproduct of minimal amounts of conscious thought and primarily based on momentary ‘feelings’ instead of mindful awareness.
The best advice here is simple: Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.
#10 – You will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.
The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready. In other words, they believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity. Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth.
The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.
Just remember that significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and development will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes in your life you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.
See the original article by Marc and Angel.