Categories
Self-Help

when the going gets tough, be tougher

We are living in uncertain times, there hasn’t been a time like this in recent memory. People are feeling worried, anxious, scared, and helpless. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive, and even thrive, when the going gets tough, be tougher. Nobody knows what is going to happen next, so we should get comfortable being uncomfortable while uncertainty reigns.

“Uncertainty is the very condition that impels man to unfold his powers. As we navigate our own uncertain times together, may a thousand flowers of sanity bloom, each valid so long as it is viable in anchoring the human spirit it animates. And may we remember the myriad terrors and uncertainties preceding our own, which have served as unexpected awakenings from some of our most perilous civilization slumbers” Erich Fromm.

Erich Fromm

When the going gets tough, be tougher.

When the going gets tough, be tougher. Terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

We live every day with the knowledge of our staggering fragility, and we know how physiologically vulnerable our body and mind can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your quest as a Human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind. When the going gets tough, be tougher.

This knowledge of our own vulnerability makes us go back and forth between ecstatic optimism and sheer despair. In order to cope with that awareness and to counterweigh the heavy sense of our own fragility we often rely on the hope that somehow, we will be strong enough to withstand rare and unexpected events, which the author Nassim Taleb refers to as Black Swans Events.

The concept of a Black Swan Event originated from German philosopher Karl Popper. In his famous essay “The problem of Induction’, Popper said: “A scientific idea can never be proven true, just because no matter how many observations seem to agree with it, it may still be wrong.” Popper noted that many people believed all swans were white; millions of observations of white swans seemingly proved this theory. Yet, it was the discovery of a single black swan, living in Australia, which invalidated a theory based on millions of prior observations.

Nassim Taleb, a former options Trader, wrote his book, The Black Swan in 2007. The book focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable events or Black Swan Events which are events impossible to predict due to their extreme rarity. Taleb’s book popularized the term which is now commonly used to describe an unexpected event with dire consequences. As Black Swan Events may result in catastrophic consequences it is important for people to always assume, however unlikely, that they are possible, and plan accordingly.

In his book, Taleb urged his readers to not attempt to predict Black Swans Events but to build robustness to their negative impacts. The world is too complex for anyone to understand or predict exactly what is going to happen, and rather than naively try to predict Black Swans Events, we just need to be aware of the possibility and adjust to their existence, by becoming antifragile. All systems can be categorized as fragile, robust, or antifragile. Fragile things are exposed and destroyed by volatility, Robust things resist, and Anti-fragile things benefit from it.

When the going gets tough, be tougher. Some things benefit from shock. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

“Some things benefit from shock; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, stressors, and uncertainty. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shock and stay the same, the antifragile gets better.” Nassim Taleb.Taleb urges people to stop using the observable past as an indicator of the future, the don’t be a Turkey Rule. Turkey is fed for 1000 days and thinks that everything is all right and food will be coming, on day 1001, the day before Thanksgiving, everything changes.

“Uncertainty is our discipline and understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.” Karl Popper.

Karl Popper

Four tips to become tougher.

1. Become tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing, sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from your diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.

When the going gets tough, be tougher. Become antifragile. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

2. Become tougher by being healthy. Treat your body as a temple, worship it every day. Being unhealthy makes our immune system weak, which makes us more prone to disease, which in return makes us fragile. Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. Hippocrates is known for saying: “ let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”. According to his doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance and heal itself. Hippocrates was reluctant to administer drugs; his favorite treatment was fasting and apple cider vinegar. He recognized when people ate mainly a fresh, plant-based diet, they developed fewer diseases. (I wrote a whole chapter on Hippocrates in my book “This Is Your Quest”, feel free to check it out.)

3. Become tougher by optionality. The more options you have, the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to Black Swans Events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt yourself and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise.

4. Become tougher through trials and errors. Try new things and find out through a process of trials and errors what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one. Play safe in some areas of your life and take some risks in others.

And this my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

Categories
Self-Help

Essential Life Lessons. Me, Myself and I.

There are many essential life lessons that we know but forgot. Practicing stillness is one of them. You may be one of those people who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the well-intended advice that is flowing freely on all social media platforms. There is an abundance of therapists, dieticians, life coaches, gurus, motivators who will happily share with you their best advice, and a list of 15 inspirational life lessons that you must learn and practice every day. But by the time you arrive at number 7 on that list you forgot the first 4 pieces of advice.

Instead of trying to remember 15 life lessons in one go and try to implement them all at once, I propose focusing on one life lesson at one time. This is the first article in a series of articles where I will be sharing essential life lessons you know but forgot. People know what’s good and what’s bad for them, the only problem is that they lack conviction and willpower. Constant repetition carries conviction. So, my mission in this article is to kindly remind you of something you already know but fail to act upon and push you in a gentle kind of way to take the first step towards practicing those life lessons more regularly and consistently.

Essential Life lesson number 1: Me, myself and I. Practice Stillness

Practicing stillness is an essential life lesson that is being taught by wise men. Let’s be guided by the words of two wise men, Socrates, and Blaise Pascal.

According to Socrates: “The source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself.” And according to Blaise Pascal “, All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”.

Too often our minds are caught in a cycle of stimulus and mindless distractions, practicing the art of being still will definitely help you unclutter your mind and help you get accustomed to being in your own company, free to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.

Essential Life Lessons. Me, Myself and I. Photo by Mallivan via freepik.com

Being still is not an easy state of being, humans are social creatures by nature, we dread boredom, and we are unfit to endure extreme cases of isolation. If we are alone for too long our mental faculties can degrade leading to a state of insanity and deep despair. The use of solitary confinement and exile are effective tools of punishment.

But our modern-day fears are not restricted to extreme cases of isolation, rather many of us fear being alone for any period of time, and being alone is something to be avoided at all costs. Not only are we afraid of being alone individually, but we are also afraid of those around us who seem to be very happy in their own company. We see them as dangerous, unsocial, or maybe even unwanted.

The paradox these days is that we have never been so connected to each other and feeling so alone at the same time. Information technology is everywhere, the invention of the radio, the telephone, television, mobile phone, and the internet has brought us closer together allowing anyone in the world instant access to another person via video conference call. These days, you just have to press a button and instantaneously you are transported to the other side of the world. The problem is, we now live in a world where we are connected to everyone except ourselves.

Life lesson number 1.1: Stillness and solitude allow you to tune into your intuition.

The question is: why would I want to be alone when I don’t have to? Because it is only in solitude that you will learn to know yourself and learn how to tune into your intuition. An essential life lesson is that practicing stillness allows you to tune into your intuition. It can be uncomfortable to sit quietly in a room by ourselves and most of us will use all the noise of the outside world to block out that discomfort; except that this discomfort will not go away, it is still there and will remain there until you address it.

Moments of solitude allow us to be more tuned into our intuition. Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. Intuition and insights can come to us through many forms, a deep inner feeling, an image, a word, an inspirational thought, or from a book, whatever form they take, it always gives us a deep sense of inner knowing that brings clarity and joy. If we are operating in a state of constant agitation, hustling and bustling constantly, we will not be tuned in the right frequency to pick up those insights and receive such gifts.

Essential Life Lessons. Practice Stillness. Tune into your intuition. Photo by Mallivan via freepik.com

Moments of solitude put us in the right state of mind, ready to accept the gift of insight with gratitude, humility, and appreciation.

“Solitude for the mind is as essential as food is for the body. In solitude we can forge our character away from the often-constricted external demands of others and maintain our independence in the relationships we cultivate this ensuring we do not, like many today, lose our identity in them.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Essential Life lesson number 1.2: Stillness is the key

What does stillness mean? Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you. Socrates tells us that philosophy begins with wonder, and wonder is rooted in stillness. Other philosophers from various schools of thought have come to a similar conclusion, namely that the ultimate destination in our life journey is to master the stillness that is required to become masters of our own life. Ryan Holiday’s book Stillness Is the Key, describes the philosophy of stillness, or the art of being still, and how important stillness is for self-mastery, discipline, and focus in our modern noisy world.

Stillness is an attainable path to enlightenment, excellence, greatness, and happiness, it can inspire new ideas, sharpens perspective, and illuminate the mind. Stillness slows the ball down so we can hit it, it generates a vision, helps us resist the passion of the mob, and makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere, to succeed, a key to unlock the insights of genius.

Stillness is not some soft, new-age nonsense of the domain of the monks or sages but in fact an essential component to peak performance in every domain of life. Among the various philosophical and religious schools, such as Buddhism, stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc., it is impossible not to find a philosophy of stillness that does not venerate inner peace or stillness of the mind.

A paradox of stillness is that it requires you to think very deeply, but also clear your mind. In fact, this is not a paradox as once our mind is cleared and emptied insights and breakthroughs can occur. Muddy waters clear themselves through stillness; if we let them settle the truth will be revealed to us. Another paradox is that stillness does not require that you stop moving or even to be somewhere quiet, stillness can be cultivated while chaos swirls around you. Those moments, in a busy shopping mall or airport, when somehow all the external noise is filtered out and you feel a sense of calm and can focus on what is in your control, that is stillness.“If solitude is the school of genius, then the crowded, busy world is the purgatory of the idiot” Edward Gibbon, Historian.

Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly not only when you are meditating, but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry, or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

Learn the art of being able to sit quietly somewhere and be still with just you and yourself for company.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code.

Categories
Self-Help

deep impact

“Deep Impact” was a 1998 Hollywood disaster movie starring Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, and Tea Leoni depicting the story of survival of the human race when a comet is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. As doomsday nears, the human race prepares for the worst. Eight hundred thousand ordinary American people are selected via lottery tickets by the government alongside 200,000 scientists, soldiers and other officials to be saved in underground bunkers in order to keep the human race alive.

The word “impact” used as a noun is defined as the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another; used as a verb the word “impact” means to have a strong effect on someone or something. This article is not about the doomsday, end of the world, or extinction of the human race, it is about the impact we leave on people around us and how impactful our life is.

Do you have a deep impact on someone or something? How impactful is your life?

Whether people admit it or not, most of us have a desire to make a difference, to have an impact, or some level of influence on others. It is part of human nature, and it is admirable because it implies that we want to live a life that is bigger than us and our immediate entourage. We want to leave something of value after we leave, we want to leave a legacy. The thought of being forgotten and having had not much impact during the course of our life is troubling and distressing.

“The World needs able men and women, people who can do things that are thoroughly worthwhile; people who can think great thoughts and transform such thoughts into great deeds.”

Christian D. Larson
Deep impact. How impactful is your life. Photo by KJ Pargeter via freepik.com

John Dunia from Shame Doctor wrote a beautiful article about this. He explained in this article that regardless of what the aspiration for leaving your legacy is, the actions and motives affecting your day-to-day lives are what ultimately determine what your legacy is.

There is a distinction between being remembered and being well-known. Fame or celebrity is not what leaves a lasting impression on the future of the human race. It is often the insights of a grandparent or a stranger imparting wisdom and altering the course of impressionable lives. These conversations are rarely planned. It’s as though the circumstances beckoned the elder’s experience and intuition to enlighten the younger, yet never fully comprehending the tremendous influence those words would permanently render. In most cases, the motivation which sparked those transforming words was none other than love itself. According to John Dunia, Love and nothing less should be the determining influence in every aspect of our legacy. A true legacy is not how many people remember you, but how your memory is cherished. How your love changed the lives who were blessed to know you.

Falling in or out of love is one of the strongest emotions that people can experience. Love can be kind. Love can be cruel. Love is everything. Love has been called “one of the most studied and least understood areas in psychology.” Everyone has been experienced feelings of love to some extent or another. There are those who found love and lost it, those who found it and kept it, and those who are seeking it in odd places. There are also those who don’t know they have it, not realizing it is closer than they think.

There are indeed many types of love. Romantic love, the love that perhaps most naturally springs to mind, has been the inspiration for countless ballads, stories, and pieces of art and has captured the imagination of singers, artists, and poets throughout history. However, there are many flavors of love, from brotherly love, family love, the love of God, and self-love. And Love is indeed our unending legacy. The greatest gift we can bestow.

To be or not to be impactful?

Deep Impact. To be or not to be impactful. Photo by Ipopba via freepik.com.

To be or not to be impactful? This may seem to be an odd question for some. Some people are very content with a quiet life away from the hustle and bustle. They are happy the way things are and don’t have any inclination to change things and even less inclination to change the world. Fair enough.

Sadhguru (my favorite yogi, philosopher, sage) has an interesting point of view on this issue. Every one of us is free to capture as much life as we want. If you capture a substantial amount of life you will become a significant presence, you will radiate, and that presence will draw people to you. It is not the knowledge you accumulated in your head, not the social status, the successes nor the muscle you built upon your body. It is just how much life emanates from you.

If you have the opportunity to go out in the world and do something impactful. Good, go out there and be impactful. But if not, don’t worry. Concentrate on being happy and content. The world needs more of these types of people. An oak tree sitting outside is not trying to create a significant impact on anyone. By just sitting there in a calm and assured state of being, the oak tree by its mere presence is being impactful without even trying. If someone just happened to walk past that oak tree on a hot and sunny day, wishing to rest and cool down for a little while, that person will find refuse under the oak tree and will appreciate its presence and the shade it can offer in that particular day, at that particular time. The oak tree has had an impact on that person, just by being there.

Storytime. The man who wanted to change the world

Deep Impact. The man who wanted to change the world. Photo by Ipopba via freepik.com

This is the story of an ambitious young Chinese man who on his 20th birthday became consumed with the desire to change the world. He spent the next 20 years trying to do that. But couldn’t. At age 40, he settled for trying to change China. He spent the next 20 years trying to do that. But couldn’t.

At age 60, he settled for trying to change his village. And for the next 20 years, he tried to do just that. But failed. At age 80, he decided to focus on changing his family. So, he spent the next 20 years trying to do that. But couldn’t.

At age 100, he decided to focus on trying to change himself. After all these years he came to realize that by changing himself first, that would change his family, then his village, his province, impacting his country, and ultimately changing the world. But the next day he died. Be the change you want to see in the world.

And this my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal note.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code.

Categories
Self-Help Uncategorized

the truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know

The truth, is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out because we are so stuck in our narrow-minded way of doing things.

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence”.

Charles Bukowski

This is a brutal statement from Charles Bukowski but it contains a lot of truth in it and it encapsulates a lot of what is indeed wrong with the world these days. It is concise, straight to the point, and quite difficult to argue against.

According to Sadhguru, I Don’t know holds tremendous possibilities. We should learn to say I don’t know more often, instead of jumping to conclusions. The moment you destroy, I Don’t know, you destroy all the possibilities of knowing. Confusion is better than stupid conclusions. In confusion, there is still a possibility.

The problem is that everyone is pretending to know things they don’t. In fact, too many people are dead certain about things that just aren’t true. The next time you hear something you are not sure about, instead of picking a side and believing or disbelieving, why not admit the truth: I don’t know. By refusing to draw a conclusion you keep your mind open, and you give the truth a chance to get in; but by drawing a conclusion you naturally become close-minded and dismissive towards all other possibilities.

The truth is, true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing – Socrates.

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself. That moto Know Thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Socrates
The Truth is, true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing Photo by freepik – via freepik.com

According to the Wise Man of Ancient Greece, you may find the path to wisdom, if you start from a position of humility and if you accept the extent of your ignorance. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as pretty smart, rational individuals and funny too. But what if we are wrong? Do we overestimate our own abilities? Are we completely blind to our own failings? You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. When put to the test, most people find they can’t explain the workings of everyday things they think they understand. There is great power in knowing what you don’t know. When we accept our ignorance and limitations, we become wiser.

Socrates is known as the wisest man in Athens, but he doubted this very much until he put it to the test. Socrates’ favorite pastime was the pursuit of Truth. His reputation as a philosopher spread across Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi revealed to one of his friends that he was the wisest man in Athens, Socrates responded, not by boasting or celebrating but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong. Socrates decided to find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life as anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He questioned everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead, they all pretended to know something they clearly did not. Finally, he realized that the Oracle might be right after all; he was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

Too often we fall into the delusion of thinking we know a lot more than we really do, this concept is commonly known as illusory superiority. Recognizing what you don’t know actually puts you in a unique place of power. It can improve your choices in life because it’s an honest view of your knowledge and capabilities, as well as your ignorance and limitations. Understanding the limitations of your knowledge puts you at an advantage over people who overestimate their knowledge or aren’t aware of their own ignorance.

This isn’t a negative thing, this is about being honest with yourself which means acknowledging both your strengths and your weaknesses. If you are willing to keep an open mind about your beliefs and the possibility that you don’t have all the facts, you will be much better off than if you were to just take everything you believe as complete truth. See things the way they are, not how they could, should, or might be. Same with people. Look at people as they are, not how they could, should, or might be.

“Most people take their thoughts so seriously believing every thought that passes through their heads as if their thoughts represented the undeniable and irrefutable truth of the matter. But thoughts aren’t facts, what you think isn’t what it is. Thoughts are just thoughts. Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it is true.”

Sadhguru

The Truth is, uncertainty is uncomfortable, but certainty is an absurd one – Voltaire

The Truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Have you heard of the Lemon Man? Photo by Mak Labs via freepik.com

McArthur Wheeler is also known as the Lemon Man became famous for his total lack of self-awareness and an incredible level of stupidity. In 1995, McArthur Wheeler was arrested for robbing banks in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise. He believed that the lemon juice he wore on his face made him invisible to surveillance cameras.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias characterized by inappropriate overconfidence about mastery of a subject. The term was coined by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger in 1999 in a study called Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. The Lemon Man story is an example of self-awareness, or rather a lack of self-awareness that ended disastrously. Why do people fail to recognize their own incompetence? Because people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence.

Dunning himself stated that “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent”, but also noted the reason for this seems to be ignorance, not arrogance. So, why is this a problem? It is a problem because if you have a tendency to overestimate your abilities you will end up making sub-optimal decisions until your misassumptions catch up with you.

Should you overestimate or underestimate your competence?

As well as showing that less-competent people tend to overestimate their abilities, the Dunning-Kruger effect study also showed that competent people tend to underestimate their own competence. This ability to underestimate our capabilities can also produce sub-optimal decisions but does have some positive impact by increasing our capacity for humility, curiosity, and a drive to improve ourselves.

The Truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Fake or fact? Photo by Diloka 107 via freepik.com

That drive to improve ourselves can be deeply rooted in culture; researcher Dr. Steven Hein, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, did similar studies to Dunning-Kruger but looking at the issue from a different angle y comparing North American and East Asian People. When asked to self-assess their abilities, Hein’s study reveals that East Asians tend to underestimate their abilities, with an aim toward improving the self and getting along with others, whilst North Americans tend to overestimate their ability and competence.

There are cultural, social, and individual motives that explain these tendencies. As Western society becomes more individualistic, successful life is equated with confidence, self-assurance, and high-self esteem (often to the verge of arrogance). Conversely, East Asians tend to adopt a self-critical self-view, the downside effect of this being they tend not to feel so good about themselves. Knowing thyself, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important so that you can exploit your strengths and seek help in areas where you are weak.

To know who you are is important, but in addition, belief and confidence are as big a part of the equation too. There is a robust body of scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggests that people who believe they will become successful at something are most likely to succeed. Similarly, there are countless stories of cancer patients who credit their survival to a positive mindset and their determination to survive this terrible illness. Inspirational quotes such as Your thoughts determine your future are popular in the self-help sphere.

So, is it better to overestimate yourself or underestimate your abilities? The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Overestimate your futures and underestimate your past; acknowledge the fact that the more you know the more you realize you don’t know, this will give you the benefit of humility, but overestimate the future, because these positive expectations will give you the benefits of higher performance.And this my dear friend, is your Quest!

Personal note.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code.

Categories
Be Happy Uncategorized

Life is a double-edged sword. Learn the art of not hurting yourself

Life is a double-edged sword. A Knife is only as good as the one who wields it. You can use a knife to cut vegetables and cook a beautiful dinner, but if you are not careful you can cut and hurt yourself with that same knife. There are times when our greatest strengths turn out to be a source of weakness as well; this occurs when we overplay on our strengths or rigidly work to them.

The starting point is to know and be aware of what your strengths are and know when and how to use those strengths bearing in mind that self-awareness and flexibility will help you stay the course. Life is a double-edged sword the way you communicate and express yourself can be good or bad depending on your communication style. Every communication style has its strong points and weak points. The strength of your communication style can turn into a weakness if people rely too much on it.

For example, a reflective and cautious person is admired for her thoughtful approach to every problem and decision-making process. However, this strength can become a problem if it is exaggerated. A reflective person can turn this strength into a weakness if their reflectiveness makes them suffer from analysis-paralysis and make them unable to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem. This reflective person turns into a way-too-cautious-and-inflexible person unable to arrive at any decision without detailed and complete information. Anyone who is expecting to have complete information before making any type of decision is doomed because it is an impossibility. Things change all the time, what’s true right now at this minute can turn out to be untrue 5 minutes later. Every day we make decisions based on incomplete information.

But I digress. Let’s go back to the main point of this article which is to explain the concept of why life is a double-edged sword. To help me do this, I tapped into the wisdom of Jay Shetty and some interesting concepts that he explains in his book “Think like a Monk”. Jay Shetty explains that there are 4 types of people in this world. 1. The Leader. 2. The Guide. 3. The Creator and 4. The Maker. All 4 types have strengths and weaknesses and depending on how you play those, you will find yourself operating within your mode of goodness, or within your mode of ignorance. The rest of this article will be based on Jay Shetty’s explanation of this concept.

Being a leader can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. being a leader can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.comfencing. Mixed media

Originally, leaders were Kings and warriors. Today you have politicians, military personnel, law enforcement personnel, justice personnel who occupy that position. The skillset required for this type of position is good communication, honesty, and integrity, being driven by a noble cause to defend and protect your people; being inspiring and engaging is definitely a plus.

Those who are operating in this group are natural leaders of people, movements, associations, and families. They are motivated and directed by courage, strength, and determination and are driven by the need to protect those who are less privileged. They are led by higher morals and values and seek to enforce them across the board. They provide structure and frameworks for the growth of their people. They like to work in teams. They are focused and are dedicated to a mission.

Throughout history, there are countless examples of leaders who proved that holding this function is a double-edged sword, and not in the best sense of the word.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

If a leader operates under a Mode of Ignorance as Jay Sheety describes it, you will witness a shift happening. That person would go from being an honorable individual to being a despicable character who gives up on change due to corruption and hypocrisy, develop a negative and pessimistic viewpoint, and loses his moral compass in his drive for power. They use their talents and influence to serve themselves and not humanity.

Life is a double-edged sword. Stay the course. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Guide can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. Being a Guide can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.com

Guides are teachers, coaches, gurus, mentors. Their skillset is learning, studying, sharing their knowledge and wisdom. A coach and a mentor want to bring the best in the people they connect with, they want to help you be the best version of yourself and will help you find your purpose. Their quest in life is to find meaning, fulfillment, purpose, and share their wisdom with the world. They are here to serve. They enjoy intellectual pursuits and meaningful conversations.

If the Guide operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from sage to fool; not practicing what they preach, and not leading by example. They could also use their knowledge for strength and power and not for the good of humanity.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

They are countless examples throughout the world of mentors/gurus/spiritual leaders who became corrupted by the power of their position and the unconditional devotion of their disciplines. Those supposedly enlightened individuals became harmful, destructive, taking advantage of their followers, clients, disciples in the most despicable ways, because those people were extremely vulnerable, desperate, lost, and confused.

Life is a double-edged sword. Stay the course. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Creator can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. Being a creator can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.com

Originally Creators were merchants and businesspeople. Nowadays they are marketers, salespersons, entertainers, producers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. Their skillset gravitates around brainstorming, networking, innovating, making things happen. They have great sales, negotiation, and persuasion skills, they can convince themselves and others of anything. They are highly driven by money, pleasure, and success, they are very hardworking and determined. They are status-driven. They are dynamic, charismatic, and captivating. They create products and ideas that make money but also serve others. They provide jobs and opportunities for others.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

Still, if the Creator operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from a great negotiator to a scammer. Creators can become corrupt they can lie, cheat and steal to sell something with no value. They can burn out, and become depressed, moody, difficult, and very unpleasant characters.

Life is a double-edged sword. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Maker can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Originally Makers were artists, musicians, painters, writers. Today, the same list applies but you could add engineers, architects, programmers, coders, carpenters, cooks. Their skillset gravitates around inventing, creating, implementing an idea, a vision, a concept. They like exploring and experimenting with new ideas. They tend to choose meaningful goals to pursue. They are driven by stability and security.

Still, if the Maker operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from creative to destructive, when they feel anxious, stuck, and unworthy. They focus more on money and fame instead of focusing on honing their skills.

Life is a double-edged sword. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Moral of the story

Whatever you do, whether you are a Leader, a Guide, a Creator, or a Maker, life is a double-edged sword. You have to stay alert and stay on the straight and narrow path with some flexibility thrown into the mix.

“A Knife is only as good as the one who wields it.”

And this, my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal note.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

we are all explorers

We all have in mind a romanticized idea of what explorers look like i.e., a Marco Polo, a Christopher Colombus, or a Ferdinand Magellan surely fit that explorer stereotype. We should also include in that list Hollywood characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Those explorers and adventurers are truly exceptional individuals with a very special set of skills and a level of courage and determination that set them apart from the rest of us. For sure those explorers have been real trailblazers and we should give them the respect and recognition that they deserve, but from my perspective, we are all explorers.

We don’t have to be navigators, scientists, archaeologists, adrenaline junkies to be an explorer. You can call yourself an explorer as soon as you decide to start a journey of discovery that will unveil some hidden knowledge, myths, truths, and lies about the world as we know it. As a modern-day explorer, you represent the human specie that is in danger of dying from conformity and an inability to think critically.

We are all explorers. Olden-Day explorers & Modern-Day explorers

We Are All Explorers. Walkabout in the Savannah, Reunion Island. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed

Explorers have been the driving force behind humankind. Everything we know today has been the result of explorers who have gone before us. The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know has provided significant benefits to our society for centuries. From the beginning of time, humans had an irrepressible impulse to move, to discover, to cross new frontiers, to adapt to new environments, and to appease an unquenchable curiosity.

Travel started as a survival necessity and throughout history travelers and explorers have sought adventure for various reasons such as the search for trading routes, religious sites, pilgrimages, fame, and fortune. And doing so meant testing the limits of their endurance, their willpower, and their capacity to withstand pain, discomfort and discover their own limits whilst contributing to science and exploration.

It is important to remember that we don’t always have to look at the past for inspiration. Modern-Day explorers exist and are here to remind us that there are people out there who have a different take on how one should live. They are people with a dream and with the resolve to achieve it, able to face “insurmountable” hurdles, opposition, criticism, and adversity. Being an explorer isn’t just about discovering something new that wasn’t there before, it goes much deeper than that.

We Are All Explorers. Walkabout in the Savannah, Reunion Island. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed

You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be brave. Being brave is waking up every day to face all that life is throwing at you with courage and determination. Being brave is being able to stand strong in the face of rejection, criticism and continue to work on your life purpose without loss of enthusiasm. Being brave is being able to be alone without feeling lonely because it is in solitude that you can hear that little voice inside you who has been trying to tell you what you already know deep down but you were too busy being distracted by all the noise around you. Being brave is taking care of your body, mind, and spirit and make yourself strong, healthy and resilient each and every day.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.

Marcel Proust

A voyage of self-discovery. A walkabout Down-Under

Let’s go on a journey Down-Under to explore the different facets of going on a walkabout. Indigenous Australian culture requires that young males between the age of 10 and 16 years old go on a walkabout for an extended period of time, which can last up to 6 months, as a rite of passage to adulthood. Their mission: survive, find sources of water, hunt for food, not get hurt by all kind of creepy crawlies, develop their survival skills, gain in the process confidence in their own capabilities, reflect on life and gain a sense of their own spirituality before returning to their community. Quite a program (you cannot learn these skills in a classroom for sure) and failing is not an option!

We Are All Explorers. Walkabout in the Savannah, Reunion Island. Photo by Joanne Reed featuring Alize Reed

Despite what most people believe these walkabouts are not random wanderings. If you want to survive in the Outback, there are several things you must know before you go on your journey. Having an intimate knowledge of the environment is the only way to not die. These young boys must know which plants are edible, where to find animals to hunt, and most importantly where to find water holes. How do they find their way around? Safe paths are known and are transmitted from generation to generation through songlines made by their ancestors. A songline is a traditional song or story describing through lyrics the paths across the land (and sometimes the sky) which mark the route followed by their ancestors. Songs, stories, art, dance, and paintings were also used to record information about species of plants, plant remedies, and animals across Australia.

Exploration is an excuse to find out who we really are. In Aboriginal culture and tradition, a walkabout is not just a journey in the wild to prove that you can survive alone in harsh conditions; it is also a time for reflection. Being alone for 6 months or so gives you space and the time to reflect and think. Aboriginal spirituality derives from a sense of belonging to the land, to other people, and to one’s culture. In Aboriginal culture, the quest is to find through that journey in the wilderness one’s own person and test one’s own abilities. Geographical exploration has limits, but the exploration of ourselves as human beings is infinite.

We Are All Explorers. Walkabout in the Savannah, Reunion Island. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

St Augustine

What you need is to start looking at life with a sense of curiosity. You want to become an explorer. You want to keep learning and growing. Be open and receptive. Become involved in life. Be in the arena. You want to venture to places you haven’t been before. You want to do things you haven’t done before. You want to connect and engage with people you wouldn’t normally interact with. You want to taste new dishes. You want to climb to the top of a mountain, canoe across a lake, ride your bike to work, walk barefoot in the grass. You want to sing in the shower, dance in the living room, have pajamas parties with your friends. You want to wear outrageous and colorful clothes. You want to dance in the rain ad get wet.

We Are All Explorers. Walkabout in the Savannah, Reunion Island. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed

You want to take your time to think and pause and meditate, to reflect on who you are and what you want to be. You want to gaze through a window and breathe, taking in the beauty of the scenery.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

This article contains some extracts from Chapter 1 & 2 (Olden Day and Modern-Day Explorers and Adventurers) of my book “This Is Your Quest”.

Personal Note

One-to-One Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI).  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset?

There are two types of people in this world: the scarcity type and the plenty type. Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset? If you are one of those who are constantly worried that there will not be enough of anything; enough money, enough time, enough food, enough of … well, you fill in the blank, then you belong to the first category, the scarcity type. If you are one of those who think that if there are not enough slices of pie for everyone, then the best thing to do is to make your own pie, then you belong to the second category, the plenty type.

Having a scarcity mindset is pervasive and is literally eating away your energy and mental capacity. In the world of science and psychology, this is called tunneling. We have very limited cognitive space and bandwidth. When you focus heavily on one thing, there is just less mind to devote to other things and as you devote more and more time dealing with scarcity you have less and less for other things in life.

In the world of economics and psychology, having too little means so much

The starting point is to acknowledge the fact that resources are scarce and limited. How much something costs depends on how scarce it is in relation to another resource, and the price will be driven by supply and demand. Sellers will charge you more for a product if they can convince you that this product is scarce or available only for a short period of time. It always baffled me to see how travel tickets and hotel rooms hyper-inflate around Christmas time, Easter, and summer vacation. I understand the concept that a lot of people would want to travel around those vacation times to meet up with family and friends, but I found it reprehensible to see how the service providers are taking advantage of this surge of demand, but I digress.

In the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” economist Sendhil Mullainathan and psychologist Eldar Shafer discuss the effects of scarcity mindset on our ability to think clearly and make informed decisions.

“Scarcity captures the mind… when we experience scarcity of any kind, we become absorbed by it. The mind orients automatically, powerfully towards unfulfilled needs. Scarcity is more than just the displeasure of having very little. It changes how we think. It imposes itself on our minds.”

Scarcity has a good, a bad, and a very ugly side. The good side of scarcity shows its lovely face when you have a limited amount of time to complete a task due to a pressing deadline, this can help you be hyper-focus on the task at hand. The bad side of scarcity shows it preoccupied face when all your energy is wasted away on the feeling of lack, leaving little mental capacity to focus on more important matters. The ugly side of scarcity shows its ugly face when you are creating your own self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and gloom because you are unable to make good decisions based on your unhealthy obsession with scarcity.

In the world of self-help and self-development, having a plenty mindset is the way to go

Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset? Do you see the glass half-full or half-emplty? Photo by Goonerva via freepik.com

An abundant mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody. People with a plenty mindset see opportunities everywhere instead of limitations. If you have the choice of hanging out with someone who sees the glass half-full or half-empty, for sure you will decide to spend time with the person who is positive, vibrant, who sees life as half-full, and who is feeling grateful for the things that they have.

People with a scarcity mindset believe that if one person wins, another must lose. It is very black & white. It is natural of course to want to be winners and not losers. The good news is that there is something in between losing or winning, it is called win-win scenarios where both parties get something from the transaction. So, instead of staying stuck in the paradigm win-lose all the time, try to create win-win scenarios.

Opportunities are everywhere but some people are blind to them because they have tunnel vision which triggers them to focus too much on one particular aspect of the issue. If you have a propensity to do that, you will not notice other possibilities that are right in front of you. If you keep repeating to yourself that you can’t do something and if impossible is part of your daily vocabulary, your brain will absolutely believe it. What you believe is what you receive.

Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset? Go or not go? Photo by Talexey via freepik.com

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”

Henry Ford

It is possible to switch from a scarcity mindset to a plenty mindset by following those tips [This list is non-exhaustive, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment box]

1. Hang out with the right type of people, i.e., people who see the glass half full.

2. Be grateful for what you have and don’t wallow in self-pity if you want a piece of the pie and there are no more slices, go and make your own pie.

3. Create win-win scenarios in your professional and personal life.

4. Train your mind to recognize the possibilities that are all around you.

Given the choice would you rather be a farmer or a nomad?

Before you decide to switch off on me and quit reading the rest of this article, there is a point to this question. Your answer will indicate whether you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset. In the early days of civilization, you had two groups of people: the farmers and the nomads.Young farmers were taught to use resources intelligently in order to create plenty of food. Young nomads were taught to take from a world of limited resources. The nomadic existence was based on a plunder model, placed on top of a clan model. The farmers’ model was based on creativity and collaboration.

Do you have a scarcity mindset or a plenty mindset like the farmers? Photo by Nadya 1971 via freepik.com

The nomads lived in a very rigid structure. At the base was the family clan, in these small groups, there was a great deal of sharing and cooperative decisions making, but the important and final decisions would have been made by the senior, dominant, patriarchal male who had an enormous amount of clout on the rest of the clan. Clans tended to constantly compare themselves to other clans and opposed any change of status between them. The rigidity of these structures led to rivalry, conflicts, and hatred between clans that sometimes endured for centuries.

The farming society operated as a decentralized structure. These farming groups kept alive an old tradition to gather in much larger groups for a few weeks every year. At these gatherings, ceremonies would be conducted, and festivals held, to make marriage arrangements and trade goods. The farmers became prosperous, food was plenty, goods could be accumulated, large communities could be formed, specialist activity could be developed, and innovation could take place. Music appeared, written language, basic mathematics, and sciences developed. The creative capability of men and women could be exchanged within the various groups and they could inspire and teach each other.

The farmers were living happily and peacefully on their land, growing their crops, exchanging resources and ideas with their neighbors, and using their creativity to fill their days with arts, music, and newly acquired knowledge and connections. At some point, the nomads who were roaming around the country bumped into those farmers’ communities. They became jealous of the farmers’ prosperity and their wealth, which made them look like second-rate. So, they mounted numerous looting missions on those farmers. These attacks drove some of the farmers away, pushing them to pack their belongings and leave to find a more peaceful area to settle and start all over again.

The nomads realized that instead of looting the farmers and driving them away, they could instead steal a limited amount from the farmers, so as not to drive them away. Those nomadic groups sustained plunder at a level that was low enough for the productive farmers to accept their rulership and “protection” from other thugs. For the farmers, giving a fifth of his crops to a thug was less bad than facing death or going back to a traveling gardener lifestyle. This way the nomads could work the same ground for life, and this is how the first rulers were born – out of plundering!

The moral of the story: Having a scarcity mindset eats away your energy and mental capacity. Switch towards a plenty mindset. If there are not enough slices of the pie, make your own pie. And if you think that it is easier to steal from the baker instead of making your own, accept the fact that that will make you a thug.

You can find a more detailed analysis of this fascinating subject in Chapter 7 of my book, This Is Your Quest.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

How To Navigate Between Order And Chaos

How to navigate between order and chaos

In the beginning, there was chaos. According to Greek mythology, the universe began as an abyss. There was no matter, no light, no life or consciousness outside of this primordial chasm. Yet out of this very void, known as Chaos, sprung not only the Titans (and later the gods of Olympus) but existence itself. Order and chaos have thus been eternally linked. Chaos is a place where everything is complex and unpredictable; order is where things are so rigid that it’s repetitive and restrictive. Navigating between the two, it is possible to find a meaningful place where you’re partly stabilized and partly curious.

Order is masculine, chaos is feminine

In his book, 12 Rules of Life: An Antitode to Chaos, Jordan Peterson did a wonderful job explaining the difference between order and chaos. A Guardian article hilariously and succinctly summarized part of Peterson’s concept:

Order is Masculine and Chaos is Feminine. Therefore to move towards Order, we all need to man up. Happiness is pointless. We are all on this Earth to suffer. So learn to suffer like a man. Not everyone can be as rich and successful as me, but try to be less of a failure than you already are.

John Crace

What Peterson actually says is, Stand up straight with your shoulders back (Rule 1) and accept the terrible responsibility of life. The point is trying to make is that life is not always a party and we need to learn how to shoulder the burden of being. In Eastern philosophy, this heroic path is known as the Middle Way. We are living in interesting times and learning to navigate between order and chaos is crucial. This article will help you do that, guided by the wise words of Jordan Peterson.

Order and chaos are the most basic subdivisions of being

Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness. We eternally inhabit order, surrounded by chaos. We eternally occupy known territory, surrounded by the unknown. We experience meaningful engagement when we mediate appropriately between them.

The meaning of order

Order is explored territory; it is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. It’s the warm, secure living room where the fireplace glows, and the children play. It’s the flag of the nation. It’s the floor underneath your feet and your plan for the day. It’s the greatness of tradition, the rows of desks in a school classroom, the train that leaves on time, the calendar, and the clock. We’re in there when things are going according to plan and nothing is new and disturbing. Order is the place where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and our desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to. We like to be in there. In order, we’re able to think about things in the long term. There, things work, and we are stable, calm, and competent. We seldom leave places we understand – geographical and conceptual – for that reason.

But order can be tyrannical when its demands for certainty, uniformity, and purity become too one-sided. Where everything is certain, we’re in order. You are in order when you have a loyal friend or trustworthy ally. When that person sells you out, you move from the daytime world of clarity and light to the dark underworld of chaos, confusion, and despair.

We are living in interesting times. Learn to navigate between order and chaos. Photo by Alexanderku via freepik.com

The meaning of Chaos

Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the stranger represents the rustle in the bushes at night, the monster under the bed, the sickness of your child. It is the place you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is where new ideas destroy old and comfortable certainties. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we’re doing, and when we don’t know where we are going.

When the ice you’re skating on is solid, that’s order. When the bottom drops out, and things fall apart, and you plunge through the ice; that’s chaos. Human beings have a great capacity for wrongdoing. We can and do make things worse, voluntarily, with full knowledge of what we are doing as well as accidentally, and carelessly, and in a manner that is willfully blind. There are so many ways that things can fall apart or fail to work altogether, and it is those with fortitude and perseverance who valiantly fight their way through chaos who will come on the other side, battered but victorious.

The Yin and Yang

In Eastern philosophy, order, the known, appears symbolically associated with masculinity (as illustrated in the yin and yang symbol). This is perhaps because the primary hierarchical structure of human society is masculine. It is because men are and throughout history have been the builders of towns and cities, the engineers, stonemasons, bricklayers. Order is the peacetime army of policemen and soldiers. It’s the political culture, the government, the corporate environment, and the system. Order, when pushed too far, when imbalanced, can also manifest itself destructively and terribly. It does so as the concentration camp or the gulag.

Chaos, the unknown is symbolically associated with the feminine. This is partly because all the things we have come to know were born, originally, of the unknown, just as all beings we encounter were born of mothers. Chaos is the substance from which all things are made. In its positive guide, chaos is possibility itself, the source of ideas, the miracle of gestation and birth. As a negative force, it’s the mother-bear, all compassion to her cubs, but who marks you as a potential predator and tears you to pieces.

Order and chaos are the yang and yin of the famous Taoist symbol: two serpents, head to tail. Order is the white, masculine serpent, chaos, is its black, feminine counterpart. The black dot in the white—and the white in the black—indicate the possibility of transformation: just when things seem secure, the unknown can loom, unexpectedly and large. Conversely, just when everything seems lost, new order can emerge from catastrophe and chaos.

Order & Chaos – Yin & Yang

For the Taoists, meaning is to be found on the border between the ever-entwined pair. To walk that border is to stay on the path of life, the Middle Way or the Divine Way. The Taoist juxtaposition of yin and yang doesn’t simply portray chaos and order as the fundamental element of being – it also tells you how to act. The Way, The Taoist path of life, is represented by the border between the twin serpents. The Way is the path of proper Being. The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”.

To saddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security and the other in chaos will lead to growth and adventure. Everyone understands order and chaos, good and evil. We all have a palpable sense of chaos lurking under everything familiar. We’ve all been to both places many times. When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping, and meaningful, when time passes, and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing, you don’t notice – it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos. It’s the right place to be in every sense. Chaos and order are fundamental elements because every lived situation is made up of both.

No matter where we are, there are some things we can identify, make use of, and predict, and some things we neither know nor understand. No matter where we are, some things are under our control, and some things are not. The fundamental reality of chaos and order is true for everything alive, not only for us. Living things are always to be found in places they can master, surrounded by things and situations that make them vulnerable. Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while learning what you still need to know.

Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control, and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.

This is where meaning could be found. And, this my dear friend, is your Quest.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

Transformation and Growth. How Does One Become a Butterfly?

Transformation and growth. How does one become a butterfly?

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”.

If one of your New Year resolutions is to pursue transformation and growth in order to become the best version of yourself, I invite you to study the life of a butterfly and learn from it. But how does one become a butterfly?

Transformation and Growth – How does one become a butterfly? Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The butterfly has one of the most fascinating life cycles of all creatures. It starts its life as an egg perched on a leaf. When the egg finally hatches, a caterpillar emerges from the egg. The whole raison d’être of the caterpillar is to eat as much as possible in order to reach its desired growth. During this stage, the caterpillar will outgrow and shed its skin as many as four or five times.

As soon as the caterpillar is done growing and it has reached its full length and weight, it takes refuge into a cocoon, also known as the chrysalis, where it can safely rest and digest all the food that has been consumed in the previous stage. Though the chrysalis appears unchanged from the outside, there is a dramatic transformation taking place inside, this process is called metamorphosis, whereby the body of the caterpillar is slowly dissolving to create a brand-new being.

At last, in the final stage of its metamorphosis, the fully developed butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis. The butterfly breaks free from its cocoon with wings that are folded and wet, so more rest time is necessary to allow blood to flow into the wings. Finally, when the wings are fully dry, the butterfly is ready to take flight and share its beauty with the world.

If we look closely at the process of the butterfly transformation from one state to another state, we see it is not an easy process. It takes time and each phase is necessary before the next stage can take place. If your New Year resolution is to transform yourself into the best individual you can possibly be,  I invite you to emulate the transformation process of the butterfly when you are working on your own transformation and growth.

The caterpillar stage

In this stage of the butterfly’s life (which follows right after the hatching from an egg) the main task is consumption. For us, we can assimilate this stage with the stage of growth when we are consuming as much knowledge and training as we can about something new that we want to understand and master.

Transformation and Growth. How does one become a butterfly? The caterpillar stage. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

This is the stage when we learn how to master our craft, and it is also the occasion for us to keep an open-mind about how things are done  and ‘shed’ old ideas, concepts and habits that don’t work anymore. Sometimes we have to unlearn the things we learned and take the path less traveled by. This is often a stage of great excitement and energy as we enjoy the flow of creativity and inspiration it brings; but the learning process can also bring with it its fair share of  hard work and loneliness.

It is important that we do not rush through this stage and have patience to go through the not-so-glamourous part of the learning process. A house built on sand won’t last very long. In the olden days, if you wanted to enter a profession you had to find a master who will be willing to take you under his wings and enter into an apprenticeship to learn the craft.  The normal length of an apprenticeship was 10 years; learning the craft required patience, discipline and dedication. The modern concept of this is the 10, 000 hours required to master a skill as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers.

Robert Greene calls this Mastery. He wrote a whole book about it.

Anyone who would spend ten years absorbing the techniques and conventions of their field, trying them out, mastering them, exploring and personalizing them, would inevitably find their authentic voice and give birth to something unique and expressive. Embrace slowness as a virtue in itself”.

Robert Greene

We have a tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, we are impatient and want to see results quickly, but remember “there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” The best way to cultivate our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain – like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.

For more on this subject, you can read my article Want Good things to happen to you? Try Patience.

The chrysalis stage

In this stage the caterpillar takes refuge in a protective cocoon where it can safely rest and conduct its metamorphosis quietly and privately.

Human beings tend to skip that stage or confuse it with a period of a downturn or treat it as a failure. In fact, this stage is a necessary stage where you should learn the art of being still. What does stillness mean? Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you. Socrates tells us that philosophy begins with wonder, and wonder is rooted in stillness. Other philosophers from various schools of thought have come to a similar conclusion, namely that the ultimate destination in our life journey is to master the stillness that is required to become master of our own life.

Transformation and Growth – How does one become a butterfly? The Chrysalis Stage Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Ryan Holiday’s book Stillness is the Key, describes the philosophy of stillness, or the art of being still and how important stillness is for self-mastery, discipline and focus in our modern noisy world. Stillness is an attainable path to enlightenment, excellence, greatness, and happiness, it can inspire new ideas, sharpens perspective and illuminate the mind. Stillness slows the ball down so we can hit it, it generates a vision, helps us resist the passion of the mob, and makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere, to succeed, a key to unlock the insights of genius. Stillness is not some soft, new-age nonsense or the domain of monks or sages but in fact an essential component to peak performance in every domain of life.

A paradox of stillness is that it requires you to think very deeply, but also clear your mind. In fact, this is not a paradox as once our mind is cleared and emptied insights and breakthroughs can occur.

“Muddy waters clear themselves through stillness; if we let them settle the truth will be revealed to us.”

Another paradox is that stillness does not require that you stop moving or even to be somewhere quiet, stillness can be cultivated while chaos swirls around you. Those moments, in a busy shopping mall or airport, when somehow all the external noise is filtered out and you feel a sense of calm and can focus on what is in your control, that, is stillness.

The ability to intentionally find stillness, in a busy environment or just by shutting your eyes and focusing your thoughts and attention on one thing, is important because we have to move and live our lives; intentional stillness takes effort.  Active stillness is effective because we can’t simply think our way to peace or pray our body into better condition.

Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly, not only when you are meditating, but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

For more on this subject , please read my article  The Art of Being Still.

Transformation and growth – How does one become a butterfly?

At last, in the final stage, the fully developed butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis sharing its beauty with the world. The butterfly is considered a wonder of nature, it symbolizes personal transformation, changes, rebirth and the lightness of being. The butterfly as a spirit animal will remind you that life is a dance. You should not take things so seriously. Transformation and changes don’t have to be traumatic. They can be sweet and gentle, so you can accept them with grace and joy.

Transformation and Growth. How does one become a butterfly? Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

When you are ready to display your new you to the world, move forward with courage, while recognizing the fragility of your ‘new wings’, and when things don’t work out the way you expected, best to let go of your expectations. It is natural for human beings to seek validation; we thrive on being seen and being appreciated for our work and effort. We all want to become a beautiful Monarch butterfly admired by the people around us and for the most ambitious admired by the whole world. But the reality is many of our endeavors will turn into tiny moths instead, and that’s Ok. We have to resist the temptation to be only driven by the desire to create something grandiose and earth-shattering; it is Ok to shoot for the stars but if you don’t get there, it is also Ok to be fully satisfied with whatever emerges from the chrysalis, for nature has a need for moths as well as beautiful butterflies.

Advice from a Butterfly from Ilan Shamir

Transformation and Growth – Advice from a Butterfly? Photo by @freepik via freepik.com
  • Let your true colors show
  • Take yourself lightly
  • Look for the sweetness in life
  • Take time to smell the flowers
  • Catch a breeze
  • Treat yourself like a Monarch
  • And this my dear friend, is your Quest.

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

Why You Should Never Let a Good Crisis Go To Waste

Why you should never let a good crisis go to waste

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to never let a good crisis go to waste. This article is my attempt to offer you some pointers on how to do just that.  Life is a journey, sometimes the road is nice and pleasant and other times it is rocky, arduous, dangerous and most unpleasant. 

No one voluntarily chooses to go down the unpleasant road, except that sometimes there is nowhere to go but down that road. Picture yourself being on Route 2020 (which looks a lot like the year 2020). Route 2020 is one of those roads that gives you the chills when you are on it, danger lurks at every corner, there is no good visibility, it is isolated, rugged, with many up and down hills and unexpected turns. Since the beginning of this year, we have been driving down that road, it has been rough.

A lot of things are happening this year are outside our control. Instead of worrying about things we can’t change, it is better to focus instead on the things that we can control. There is always a silver lining on the horizon, even if we can’t see it yet. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Some roads are rugged, difficult, dangerous – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity” –

John F Kennedy

The whole premise of this article is that you should never let a good crisis go to waste because they could be an opportunity in every crisis. John F Kennedy and the Chinese understood that concept quite well. Once you are aware of the danger, y acknowledge it, calm your nerve and then do something about it preferably that turn things around to your advantage. One way to achieve this is to focus your energy on a purpose, a mission, a passion, something that keeps you in a state of flow. And this is how you find your opportunity, your silver lining.

Never let a good crisis go to waste. Find your passion

Life can be hectic and it always feels like there is so much that needs to be done. Your to-do list is filled with essential items requiring your attention, (thanks for adding check out Joanne Reed’s blog on your list of essential things to do today. I appreciate it very much.) The problem is that non-essential activities rarely make it onto that list, and if they do, these low-priority items will only be completed if there is time left. The problem is that there is never enough time left.

Time is of the essence. Make time. – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Except that this year, it is different. Suddenly all of us find ourselves with a lot of new-found-time because the government has ordered their people to stay at home, to work remotely, to do online schooling, to only go out for essential trips to the grocery store (there is nowhere else to go anyway, everything is shut)? Make the most of it. Never let a good crisis go to waste and don’t spoil it by turning yourself into a couch potato.

Instead of laying on the couch in a state of semi-torpor binge-watching TV, fill your to-do-list with activities you never had time to do before the crisis, such as cooking, getting fit, gardening, singing, painting, writing, becoming a YouTuber… whatever lights-up your spirit and get you in a state of flow.

How do I find my passion?

For some people finding their passion is easy, they were born knowing what it was; what is less easy is to get started and to do it consistently. For others, finding their passion is not so obvious. The problem is that a lot of people believe that their passion is hiding somewhere, maybe behind a tree or underneath a rock. The truth is that our passion comes first from doing things, and then doing them right.  We should get into the habit of injecting passion into all the things that we do. If we do this consistently, a time will come when something will stand out above all the other things, and that is the very thing that we should devote more time to doing passionately. That’s all there is to it, just do it .

Find your passion . Make your Life a work of art – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

It is possible to have a passion and still feel demotivated and deflated because you can’t see any results. The problem these days is that people are impatient, they expect instantaneous results. That’s not how things work. Being successful at something requires hard work, sweat, tears, discipline, and patience. Don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the work itself. Pursue the things you love doing and devote yourself to hone your craft on a daily basis. Eventually, people will not be able to take their eyes off you.

If you still feel dispassionate and have no passion to create anything, listen to the philosopher Carl Jung who may give you some ideas.

“If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself. To give style to one’s character is a great and rare art.”

Carl Jung

What about turning yourself into a work of art? Maybe the healthiest person you could be? Or maybe a deep philosophical thinker? And when you got it, flaunt it.

“Consider making your life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be who you are, even though you may be quite content with who and what you are; it will not be hard for you to think of something greater than you might become; it need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of.” Make your life a work of art!

Richard Taylor

Be an artist, create, innovate

Each creation showcases my own personal journey. My worries, dreams and ambitions. Everything I love and everything I fearPhoto by @freepik via freepik.com
  • I am an artist
  • I am a creator of ideas
  • Swimming in a sparkling see of imagination
  • A magician of sorts, turning thoughts of
  • Wonderment into pieces of originality
  • Each creation showcases
  • My own personal journey
  • My worries, dreams and ambitions,
  • Everything I love and everything I fear
  • All that I was yesterday and all that I’ll be tomorrow
  • Is neatly contained in my glorious creations
  • When you glance over my work, you are catching
  • A glimpse of my soul,
  • For a part of me is each piece I create
  • I march to my own beat, and wildly dance to my own rhythm
  • Passion runs through my veins,
  • As emotions are fuel for my craft
  • Certain pieces I protect and keep to myself
  • While others I’ll share with the world
  • I am a creative beacon shining my light brightly
  • For all the universe to see.

The Artist

And this, my dear companion, is your Quest: think – create – innovate – from dawn till dusk every day.

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or you may also like:

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

Categories
About the Book

Breaking News! The Second Edition of my book “This Is Your Quest” is out!

By popular demand, the Second Edition of “This Is Your Quest” is out! In this new edition you will find some new analysis on some current events, some points have been refined, and some new wisdom has been added! There is more to it than there was before!

Watch the trailer below:

Second Edition of “This Is Your Quest” is out!

In this new edition you will find some new analysis on some current events, some points have been refined, and some new wisdom has been added! There is more to it than there was before!

Pick up your copy today and follow me on this Epic Adventure!


If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

 

Categories
About the Book

Breaking News! Joanne Reed’s Interview with Ariana Diaries

My gratitude goes to Ariana Diaries for giving me the opportunity to talk to her about How to discover your Life’s Quest.

When asked why her self-help book is different from others Joanne Reed said:

People who read self-help books are interested in personal development and self-actualization. Most self-help books are written from the perspective of the author and through their own expertise, knowledge & personal experience in a particular area, and it usually takes the form of a list of rules which the reader should follow in order to achieve whichever objectives they set. My approach was different, I used a multi-dimensional angle to the story. I did not tell people what to do and how they should lead their lives; I did not set rules, that they should abide by. Rather lead readers on their own Quest, that will lead them to the right path for them. I shared wisdom and life-lessons that I found through sources in history and myriad philosophies. As a reader, you must be ready to work your own path, while shadowing in the footsteps of explorers, philosophers, authors & influencers who succeeded in their own Quest.”

For the full article please check Ariana Diaries blog

And keep tuned-in here for regular updates:


If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.