Unlikely Sources of Enlightenment

It’s easy to fall into negativity because it’s a survival mechanism. Having ambitions way past your current situation triggers a danger response. In the background there’s always a silent voice coercing you into doing the thing that has been known to get people by. You become your environment and the common environment is not very inspiring. If anything it’s depressing.

There’s inspirational/motivational/rational speeches and videos that are part of my routine although not my daily routine. I see them more as my religion than I do self-help or motivation.

As much as I believe in what they have to say, not being surrounded by others who believe what you do as deeply as you do diminishes the potential of the possibilities. Being the lone attendee at a powerful sermon does not make for a spiritual environment that lingers on. Instead, you might look around, see no one and think you’re a fool. Power in numbers.

There’s this guy on YouTube who looks like a meathead but has some inspiring videos. I watch one of his videos regularly and try to burn his words into my brain.

“…don’t complain about it, don’t whine about, don’t tell other people how destitute you are. You followed your heart. You own your heart and balls. Now eat the cake associated with it. That’s the problem. People want to follow their hearts but they also want the guarantee of the traditional path.”

“…you will be cast out, you will be a weirdo, you will be eccentric, it’s just the way of the heart. But it will be your way.”

“…the difference is that the traditional path has a ladder of success, you can look at it, go to college, get a career…which is no longer a reality. It’s a hope. It’s a wish. Get a pension plan, retire, blah blah blah. There’s a linear approach. When you start following your heart there’s no guarantee. You don’t know where that motherfucker is going to take you.”

It’s true. You don’t know where that motherfucker is going to take you.

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1950s Tony Robbins

Based on your actions on their site, YouTube will recommend what it thinks you might be interested in. There’s motivational and inspirational type videos that I watch on some days. Not videos with spiritual gurus but more similar to TED Talk type videos where it’s more about information than pep talks.

On my YouTube homepage there was a recommendation where the thumbnail of the video was black-and-white with a guy in a suit and it was titled, “Why do you go to Work?” First thought was that this must be old. Second thought was I wondered what someone back then had to say about this subject.

Everything he said is still relevant today. Most of it is the same advice and ideas that many people think some 40-year-old person originally thought of today. Earl Nightingale’s content in the video is good but I’m also drawn in by the accent. What is it, a Transatlantic accent?…the way that a father would speak to his son about life and family. “You listen here young Johnny. A man is nothing without his job or family. Now be a good boy and go tell your mother you love her.”

I downloaded an Earl Nightingale 16 hour recording. “Stealing” digital entertainment is a grey area especially if the guy is dead. I highly doubt the pirate police are tracking Earl Nightingale enthusiasts. They’re too busy hunting the Game of Thrones thieves.

 

Until the Bitter End

Like Blockbuster Video when the obvious end was near the game plan was to preserve life and hope for a turnaround. It’s always easier to hope and pray than to begin the transition onto seemingly nothing. I’ve often opted for the bitter end as it gave me the permission to do nothing. If someone or something chose to end it for me then in my head it released me from any possible regret of making the wrong choice. If I was the one to cut the cord then it was likely I was 99% sure it was over…almost nothing is 100%.

When the bitter end arrives the time to jump ship was long time ago. Inaction is often as detrimental as bad action but at least with the latter you tried. Doing nothing can be the same as rolling over and giving your attacker your neck. Hoping something will happen by staying the course can be just an excuse you tell yourself so that you don’t have to admit you’re a coward.

Paralyzed by the possibilities of feeling dumb the convenience of time is another reason to not make a move. Every moment you’re thinking of justifications to do nothing though is a moment you’re taking away from thinking about doing something. It’s a common practice to do nothing hoping that you’ll wake up one day on the shore of a paradise island. Taking action involves effort and discomfort.

It’s advantageous to know what you want in life because then it’s easy to decide what’s going to take you there or not. Not knowing leaves you floating in an ocean only to make a move when a storm appears. You only get so many chances before the last storm sucks you in while you look back at where you could have navigated to.
Daily Prompt: Bitter

 

Measure of Success

The true measure of success is how much better you think you are than everyone else or at the very least the people who you associate with. Yes, it is based on a comparison basis. Some might label the bench warmer of a major professional sports team unsuccessful but that bench warmer is probably more successful than 95% of people on Earth.

The cliched true measure of success is living every day of your life doing what makes you happy. I’m not saying it’s not true but it’s what everyone will tell you these days even if they’re constantly trying to fool themselves and everyone else that their life fits the mantra. To succeed means to win but most are playing not to lose.

It’s rare that people live life doing what they want since most people work very hard doing the opposite. Giving up that job you hate that sustains your place in society can feel like the equivalent to death. Hardly anyone strives and holds out for greatness. Instead, most solidify their place in hell so that they can stay warm by being close to others.

The chance you take by shooting for success is loneliness. The road to success rarely comes with an entourage. You’re stupid until you make it and especially if you don’t. To succeed greatly you must be willing to fail greatly.

 

Daily Prompt: Measure

 

 

Procrastination and Motivation

Over a decade ago I illegally downloaded an mp3 file of a Tony Robbins talk. Awake the Giant Within, was the title and after listening to it in its entirety I was motivated. The unfortunate part was that I had no goals or wasn’t honest to myself on how to achieve them.  Just like having a bad day, I returned to my baseline normal after a good night’s sleep.

Though potentially effective the giant within will go back to being a midget if the motivational environment returns to its uninspiring regularity which is often the case. If I woke up to Tony Robbins kicking my ass every morning, life would be different. Unfortunately he’s not willing to give up millions of dollars every year to change my life. The only ones who might are your parents and chances are they’re not very inspiring.

Last night I was browsing blogs and came across one about a young man who grew up where I did. Around his 3rd year of university he decided his initial plan wasn’t going to take him where he wanted so he just upped and left to the oil fields of Alberta. After reading a few posts I felt like a loser. He’s 23 years old, owns 2 condos, a new BMW convertible and he’s far from the point of sitting back. Those are just material possessions but his work ethic, future endeavours and motivation are inspiring.

He’s been working in the worst Canadian winters for the last 3 years doing double digit hour shifts, studying and lifting weights so after reading a few more posts this morning, the least I could do was clean up my room! I’ve been putting it off forever, quietly telling myself, later. Even if I cleaned my room every day for the last 10 years I still can’t compare to this guy.

When the disparities are so vast, summing it up to motivation is just too simple. Every little piece of your environment from birth shapes your mindset. Perhaps this guy takes himself too seriously or is so unlikable that it’s easy for him to just dive into over-achieving…I don’t know. But it proves that how much you want something is dependent on how much you think you need to do it.

Typically most people won’t try harder than what they think is expected of them from the group they identify with. And often the people you do surround yourself with are your comfortable excuse to not accomplish more. “Later” is often an excuse to avoid discomfort hoping that you won’t have to deal with later.

 

Daily Prompt: Later

 

 

A Year of Unemployment

Unemployment and I are no strangers to each other. The only difference is that I get older but unemployment remains ageless. I’m still unemployed, in the classical sense anyway. What’s not so typical is that I’ve somehow managed to be in a better financial position than when I was employed. If it continues to work out I’ll let you know. If it doesn’t I’ll also let you know.

The idea of grinding it out 5 days a week is horrifying to me now. I see people working their jobs and if it wasn’t for previous experience I wouldn’t be able to understand how they do it. There’s a different set of reasons on why people work their jobs but 2 of the main ones are to not be homeless and to maintain a certain degree of status within society. Being part of society usually translates into doing what most people do.

My previous job was neither stressful or difficult. It was a comfortable gig but one can often become comfortably miserable. It can be easier to play in the pit of fire if you’re used to the burns than to jump out to the unknown.

The periods of unemployment during my 20s always had the hope that a better job would come along which I guess it did but it always left me with the same eventual feeling of wanting to quit. The jobs were only better because they were either less shitty or paid more money, both of which will always lose their luster.

Having learned the hard way which will tend to happen when you don’t grow up having inspiring and supportive people around you, I knew I had to do something vastly different. Sometimes you only learn when you’ve exhausted all other options.

I gave in to advice that many people preach but never practice. “Do what you want.” I wanted to help people who needed help so I signed up to volunteer to help old people buy groceries and to also get them to their medical appointments. It’s been an exceptional experience and between that and taking care of the dog I believe I have improved immensely as a person. I have new appreciation for the line, “do what you would do if you didn’t need the money.”

Another adage that finally burned into my consciousness is, “no risk, no reward.” If you take the route that offers security it’s almost guaranteed to show you mediocrity at best. Mediocre is subjective but if you’re not feeling proud about what you’re doing then it’s probably mediocre and it’ll probably lead to misery.

“Who cares what other people think.” I care because it pisses me off sometimes but I just don’t care as much. Every big decision that I have made in the last 5 years has been met with immense criticism from people and conventional wisdom. Amazingly they’ve been appearing to be the best decisions I could have made. If hardly anyone is criticizing your life decisions then you’re probably doing something wrong unless if your main goal is acceptance. However, if everyone is telling you that the person you are about to marry is a bad idea then you might have to reconsider.

It’s not all roses around here. It’s more like a garden that has potential to bloom. But it’s still better than a garden waiting to die. All of this could still end up blowing up in my face. At least this time I’m trying. All the other times I just surrendered. We’ll see what happens.

Daily Prompt: Year

 

 

 

Aiming High From Way Below

michelangelo-set-your-aim-high-post

There is a lot of truth to this quote just like many other quotes.  And just like many other quotes, it is easier said than done.  There are other factors that come into play when it comes to goal setting.  It would be great if you could just read a quote from some dead guy and apply it to your life.  You might have heard the saying, ‘You can choose to be happy.’  Maybe, but for how long?  It is obviously not that easy.  Maybe you have little power over your emotions but being able to set your goals high should be a different story.  So then how come so many people don’t try to achieve more?

Setting goals is a process just like any other process.  You have to have ice skates before you can learn to tie them.  You have to learn how to tie them before you can attempt to skate badly.  Once you learn how to skate decently then maybe you will think of trying to skate faster and then maybe you will want to learn how to power stop.

In life, some people start at level 1 and some people start at level 5.  When you start at level 5 it’s much easier to see level 8,9 or 10 and believe you can get there.  If you start at level 1, level 8,9,10 seems as unbelievable as being able to grow a third arm.  When you are at level 1, you think you can be happy for the rest of your life if you reach level 5.  When you start out at level 5, you don’t think you can happy forever staying at level 5 and definitely don’t want to go to 4 and under.

Then it will just take someone who starts out at level 1 longer to reach level 10, right?  Probably but most of the time it just won’t even happen.  Another factor in life is age.  Age is just a number but as the number goes up, it can take a toll on your mind and inner strength.  You get tired of fighting and you’re less optimistic and hopeful.

Another major factor is the people you have along side you in your developing years and after.  If they can inspire you and guide you then that will make all the difference.  If you’re stuck surrounded by people who inspire you that good enough is good enough then that might just be good enough.  If your parents are lawyers, doctors or are successful in their occupation then it’s not likely that you are going to decide to be an auto mechanic.  Plus if they are successful they have a decent idea how to teach you to be successful.  I guess if you’re afraid your girlfriend will dump you then that can motivate you as well.  “Okay Okay, I’ll do it.”

And of course, you will always have people tell you about some shoeless refugee who came from nothing but now has everything.  There is also that guy who has no arms but can play guitar with his toes better than most people with their hands but I think he’s the exception.  I’m not saying just because you came from not much that you can’t or shouldn’t shoot for the stars.  I’m just saying there’s more challenges. Challenges that people don’t seem to be aware of and don’t want to believe would impact the position they are in life if they had to face those hurdles themselves.

Perhaps always wanting more can be for egomaniacs but I think not wanting more too soon will often leave you feeling lifeless.

 

Daily Prompt: Successful