Finding Your Way - Through Your Why

Month: May 2021

joyful adult daughter greeting happy surprised senior mother in garden

Become a Person of Value Instead of Success

Most of us in life are looking for a means through which we can classify ourselves as “successful.” However, the majority of people frame this up backwards. What exactly is success? How do we define it and attain it? In my life, I have lived the experiences that have taught me that when we become a person of value instead of success, we obtain more from life.

What does it mean to become a person of value? How does this lead us towards more meaning, happiness, fulfillment, and success? If these are questions that you asking yourself, then you are walking the path of self-discovery. You are beginning to see how the world and the energy within it works. It is a masterful design that once truly seen, yields amazing and life changing benefits for ourselves and those we interact with.

We Tend to Want More than we Need

we need to want less in life in order to become a person of value
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In this modern world and time through which we live, we tend to be drawn into a over-abundant mindset. While we should be abundant in our thinking, we need to ensure that is is not in a materialistic manner. Part of the human experience is waking up to the fact that we are not our materialist selves. Discovering ourselves requires that we address this key aspect in life.

There is a distinct difference between thinking with Abundance and constant want and desire for materialistic gains. Society has trained us to believe we need all the latest gadgets, trinkets, and doodads that we MUST have to show that we are successful.

When we can successfully deprogram ourselves of the materialism belief system that we think defines us, we take one step closer towards self-actualization. We begin to ask ourselves if our things if life don’t define us, then what does?

Attaining Self-Actualization

Understanding Self-Actualization to become a person of value
Where do you sit within this diagram?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a great reference tool to assess where each of us sit in our own lives. In order to become a person of value instead of a person of success, we have to understand our human psyche.

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you have the first two rungs of the ladder met. We first have the innate response of ensuring we have food, water, a place to sleep, along with safety. Once we check off those aspects of life, we look for belonging and feelings of accomplishment. Most of us want to feel we are part of something greater. We want and crave recognition and acceptance.

Where we often trip ourselves up is in this middle of the pyramid. We listen to the ego and chase after the materialistic gains that we think define us. We are not these things, but we often believe they define our self-worth:

  • The money we make in life
  • Our title and career labels
  • The house or apartment that we live within
  • What type of car we drive
  • All the toys and latest gadgets of life

However none of these define us. This is where a fundamental shift in our mindset makes a great difference for us. Realizing that when we become a person of value in service for others; that is when we begin to obtain more real abundance in life.

Generating the Necessary Mindset Shift

shift your mindset to become a person of value
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To become a person of value instead of always chasing down success, we begin with how we better serve others.

As long as you are a person that has the base essentials of life met, you can begin to define your self-worth through what you bring to others in your life. Meaning, how do you better serve those you come into contact with in your life? Here are some ways to frame this up for everyday living:

  • How can you make even the smallest interactions better? I.e. smiling at people, holding doors for them, and random acts of kindness.
  • As you learn and grow, how are you sharing that learning and knowledge that may better serve others in their lives?
  • If monetary means allow, how can you provide for other people in need without depleting your own resources?
  • What are you really good at doing? We each have a super power that can be used for good in the world. Define yours and bring it to others every day.

This “value” that you begin to generate every day for others in your life begins to define you. It will become your success. You will begin to embody the abundance that the universe will draw back into your life. It is through this Law of Attraction that the universe begins to put back into your life what you are giving out.

Always remember that as you become a person of value, you are defining your currency. Through defining your currency as a person of value and giving that currency to others in life, you become successful. That is the the proper mindset we need to set in motion for the betterment of ourselves and those around us.

Implement this mindset shift in life and watch the powerful and positive transformation occur around you…

young man in sleepwear suffering from headache in morning

Staying Present Through Pain and Suffering

I love life. The learnings and lessons I’ve experienced continue to have profound and forever lasting effects on me. We all are undoubtably forced to experience the highs, lows, twists, and turns of the game we play called “life.” Some of these lessons leave imprints of loving memories while others force us to our knees in agony and heartache. This life is lived in a world through which the Principle of Polarity is absolute. Regardless of whether we desire it, we always live through moments that are inspirational as well as full of heartache. It is easy to enjoy the good times, but we never want to embrace the more challenging times. However, staying present through pain and suffering is a necessary and an important aspect for becoming our best selves.

Embracing the Heartache

disappointed black woman crying and touching head in pain
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I’m not sure about you, but I’ve mostly been the type of person that pushes negative thoughts from my mind. Even as I see life running its course, I push the finality of the end of life as far away from me as possible. Recently I was forced to face another loss in my life. Every ounce of my being wanted to resists and run from the pain I was feeling. I faced extreme temptation to make the moment more about me rather than the reality of the situation. After all, I wasn’t dying, but a part of my life that I loved was.

I believe we have come to live these physical lives for all the benefits and challenges that come with them. We can better ourselves through facing the heartache and loss head on. There is a lot to gain when it comes from tackling the reality of life directly. Here are just a few:

  • The benefit of support for others around us. It would be easy to run, but staying present can provide the support for others around you that you love.
  • You learn a lot about your ability to cope. If we don’t face our worst moments of life we lose the ability to build up strength for our futures.
  • Others are watching. We have the ability to make others in our lives better by how we face our unique challenges in our own lives.

Growing and Rising Above the Pain

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Perhaps it is because I’m a forever optimist and I never want to address the negative aspects of life. Regardless of our how strong our positive intentions are in life, we are going to face the stark reality of life. Here, in the physical world, all of us will experience this over and over whether we ask for it or not. Trying to push it away and running from it will likely only create more pain and suffering for us.

The last time I had suffered loss in my life was five years ago. While I was there supporting my wife through our loss of a loved one, I only really showed up the final day.

Staying present through pain and suffering means being there through the entire experience. Thankfully, I have the ability to put my life on pause if need be to step away and be supportive where necessary.

While this recent experience was gut-wrenchingly painful to watch, I showed up in every way possible to be with my wife and support her through it. Through the daily heartache that lasted about a week, my wife and I grew stronger together. Each of us, together, drew closer. She saw my commitment and was so thankful that I stood with her through it rather than pressing on in my business and work.

I could have pushed the pain away and only dealt with it on it’s final day, but by staying present through pain and suffering we became unified and united.

Presence Builds Character

look yourself in the mirror. Reflect on your character
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While no one on earth enjoys life’s more challenging moments, the challenges we face don’t only build character, they define it. Grief can change your personality. As described by Gabrielle Applebury:

“Grief can change your personality on a temporary or more permanent basis based on various factors including how profound the loss was, your internal coping skills, your support system, your general temperament, your general stress tolerance, and your outlook on life. Grief can alter your thoughts and emotional process, as well as your behaviors. Keep in mind that your personality develops based on both environmental and genetic factors, meaning that it is malleable and able to change due to circumstances and experiences.”

By staying present through pain and suffering we experience the totality of life. The heartache is difficult, but the moments of joy through life with the ones we love is called further into our line of sight. It helps us be more “aware” so that we don’t let those joyous moments in life wisp away too suddenly.

Upon the passing of our third family pet, a good friend of mine reminded me that, “brining a pet into your life is a ‘Mitzvah.’ A powerful good deed that ripples through your life.” This was in response to my questioning of why my wife and I continue to bring the eventual pain of the passing of our beloved fury friends into our lives.

The good times far outweigh the more painful ones – and thus staying present, even through the eventual pain and suffering, will help us see and appreciate more of life.

photo of people near wooden table

There is no “I” in “DREAM”

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts recently while traveling to a mastermind retreat. The podcast is hosted by Alex Sanfilippo and is centered around creating a brand. In one of his podcast episodes, the phrase, “There is no “I” in “dream” was brought up. I absolutely loved this concept. While this message seems simplistic enough, I thought I would try and elaborate a bit more on its truth.

We have to Lead before we Achieve

A man feeling great about attaining goals and dreams
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As I reflect back on my life, what becomes ever more clear is that “I get” when “I give.” Now, that said, the giving has to come from a place in the heart that is genuine and without reciprocation. What I mean by this is simply doing right by others out of pure compassion, understanding, empathy, and love.

The universal constant in my life has proven this to be true. When we come to the table with the right intention of truly giving and serving, our world of potentiality really opens up. We get back more than we often give – at least that has been the case in my life.

When I say we “have to lead,” I’m not talking specifically about needing to be in positions of leadership. Rather, what I am saying is we have to think of others before we think of ourselves. As long as we have what we truly need in life, we need not seek over-abundance. When we lead our lives in this manner, we receive MORE in return.

It also need not be about only giving in forms of charity. Instead, it is more about leading with your thoughts more for service and how you help raise up and support the people around you. This can be done in any of the below following ways:

  • Offer support and be a good sounding board when needed
  • Provide random acts of kindness
  • Give people more compliments over criticisms
  • Begin your goals with how it improves the lives of others over yourself
  • Live the “Golden Rule” – doing unto others as you want for yourself

Begin with “Why” over “What” or “How”

Begin with the why over the what or the how
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When we are seeking how to achieve our dreams and goals, we must begin with the end in mind. Why are we aiming to achieve what we want? This is the underlining starting point.

When our objectives are completely about us and how we attain more without regard to the impact on others, goals are harder to achieve. It’s not impossible to obtain goals that are “self-centered.” However we are far more likely to see long term benefit when the main goals are focused on what we give to each other by attaining our goals.

Take health goals for example. Most people would likely see that attaining good physical and mental health is solely the benefit of the individual. In actuality when we achieve overall good health and wellness we are then able to better serve our purpose to the world. Without good mental and physical health we will never be our best selves, limiting our potentials.

Too often we begin with “what” we want to do or “how” we are going to do it. Beginning with “the why” is crucial for the purpose. “WHY” do we want what we want? The ego will often spill over into our thoughts with its own desires and needs. It tries to help us with this instinctive process as its only trying to improve our living situation. What the ego can’t see however is that we will benefit far more through the proper intention.

Nearly all dreams and goals can be thought of this way. It does require some mental reconditioning, but we can rewire our thinking so that we’re always in the right frame of mind when it comes to our goals.

Life need not be all about You

brown wooden cubes
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When it comes to understanding the concept of “there is no “I” in “Dream,” – it simply comes down to realizing what we do can’t always be about us.

I’ll never suggest that as caring individuals we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. We do need to keep our guard up enough to not fall victim to ill intent. However, with enough of the right intention, it is my belief that the Law of Attraction will guide us.

When we put out the right intentions we are going to receive those same intentions back into our lives. Once we climb Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to a high enough point of perspective, we have a choice to make.

Once we have the basic physiological, safety, and connection – we then decide if we are going to make life more about ourselves or the betterment of society.

There is nothing wrong with improving oneself. But that should be our main focus. The only competition we truly need is internally against ourselves rather than outdoing our peers and neighbors.

It is at this point that complete self-actualization occurs and we begin to think about leaving our legacy. Our dreams can become more about improving ourselves along with those around us. We come to understand that there is no “I” in “Dream.”

How do you feel about this perspective? Please feel free to leave a comment or speak to any life experiences that you would like to share. I’m always looking to engage in more thought provoking conversations…

woman holding fan of us dollar bills

Five Ways to Invest in Yourself for Long-Term Gains

How often do we look at ourselves as personal investments that can yield high dividends and returns? Most of society likes to wager bets on external facing prospects that don’t always produce returns. Personally, I would rather place my bets on me. Predicting and measuring my daily ROI is far easier when I have control over the environment. Here are five ways to invest in yourself for long-term gains.

#1 – Consume & Learn while on the Go

person using smartphone for audio learning and investing in their growth while traveling in car
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We have information at our fingertips. We live in an age where we can learn about everything and anything our hearts desire. There are countless apps, podcasts, and audio books that we can listen to in order to develop the mindset and habits of a life-long learner.

Whether we are driving to work, taking a walk on our lunch break, or hopping a flight – we have our trusty smart devices along for the trip. Rather than drifting away to the tunes of your favorite band or artist, try finding something you want to learn or understand more on.

Apps like Blinkist make consuming audio of books easy. You get the key points of any non-fiction book from twenty-seven different categories. Certainly we know of Audible and other book reading apps that can read our favorite books to us.

Find your favorite podcasts that help you discover new perspectives and ideas to listen to during your workouts. What better way to habit stack than getting in a great workout and learn while you invest in yourself both mentally and physically.

For all the challenges technology can sometimes bestow upon us, let’s leverage it for personal gains that further our learning. It can make us better leaders, mothers, fathers, and overall the best human beings we can be.

#2 – Join a Mastermind Group

group of people studying together
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Learning within a community can lead us to some of the most beneficial and productive insights we can gain. Mastermind groups are not that new, although there are still many people that haven’t yet heard of them.

The purpose of a mastermind group or community is to bring people together for group learning and accountability. When we are a part of a community, we gain the benefit of having others to bounce ideas in front of and gain new perspectives. Often times, there are members of the mastermind that have faced similar challenges that you may be up against in which they can offer valuable advice.

There is also the network effect that comes from masterminds as well. When it comes to investing in yourself, it becomes critical to have a network of people you trust to provide valuable connections to other avenues you may need. For example, if you are looking to venture into entrepreneurial aspects, you may need advice from others that are entrepreneurs that can provide invaluable advice.

When you find the right mastermind group of people, you are going to grow, learn, develop, and become more successful. This is due to the compound effect of having others learning along with you. You will be challenged, held accountable, serve others, and also become a better individual and human being.

#3 – Leaders are Avid Readers – So actually READ!

woman sitting near stacks of books and reading
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Whether we are trying to become better human beings, leaders, mothers, fathers, or simply aiming to pass time – there is little argument against reading to help aid our cause.

Too often we get caught up in leadership books and while they are good, they aren’t the only reading we should be consuming. I believe in life-long learning. If you want to invest in yourself, few things take place of reading books. Even though we have technology and audio versions of books, each of us should have our own personal list of growth reading that we are absorbing.

There are many science backed studies that prove actual reading increases intelligence and vocabulary. Most people that claim to not have time to read just need to reassess their day. Chances are the opportunities exist, but we aren’t prioritizing our growth. If you want to invest in yourself, make reading a priority. Find what you like and what to learn about – and read!

#4 – Take Advantage of Online Learning

person writing on notebook and learning online
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Online webinars, workshops, and educational courses are great resources to invest in yourself. Never see learning as complete after school.

I see education as indoctrination. Some of it is necessary for basic life skills. However, successful learning is self-driven. How do you feel when you are researching info you want versus being told you have to? When we are self-driven, we are more motivated to learn.

One of the best online learning workshops I’ve come across is Akimbo. I learned of it through Seth Godin’s podcast of the same name. Akimbo is a small team of learning professionals that is actively creating a future of learning. They aim to generate a chance for people all over the world to enroll in a journey that opens doors at the same time it transforms.

There are many other online workshops and seminars like Akimbo. I have no affiliation with them specifically, but I am a very big fan of Seth Godin’s work.

Find the online learning workshop that resonates with you and do your own homework. Often times you can join for free for a period of time to see if it’s a good fit.

Remember, learning is a choice. It shouldn’t end after any level of education; unless we choose to let it end.

#5 – Teach what You Learn

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Studies prove over and over that after we learn, the best way to retain that information is to teach it back. Not only do we solidify it for ourselves, but then we spread the wealth.

There is also a feeling of self worth that we generate when we share with others. Whether it is sharing with your family or those you work with, teaching back what you learn is a great way to invest in yourself and others.

When we share our learnings it also helps us become better presenters. Perhaps it is presenting verbally with just one person. Maybe it is in front of a group. Or perhaps it might be in recorded content such as a podcast.

Part of the reason I generated the “Ungraduated Living & Learning Podcast” was for my own ability to cement what I am learning and share it with others. It is also why I have generated this website and blog. I am very serious when it comes to always learning. For me to be at my best, I am sharing what I learn with others that may have similar interests.

No matter how you choose to invest in yourself – I hope these five tips help you.

Please feel free to join in the conversation and share other tips and personal investment learning strategies that have worked for you. Let’s continue to learning journey together.

woman holding broken mirror

Breaking Free of Ego – The Voice Inside Your Head

What is that voice inside our heads? Is it our consciousness? How about our thoughts? Maybe it is responsible to play the devils advocate game with us? The human psyche can be a very peculiar thing. As humans have gained the ability to think and act independently over time, we have developed a self-identifying mechanism known as the ego. The ego has benefits, but also can be very crippling. Breaking free of Ego – the voice inside your head, can be a tall order. However, once able to see it for what it is, our world of limitations turn into super highways of open potential and possibility.

What is the Ego?

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Our egos help define our character. It generates our personality. Without some ego, we would all be rather robotic in nature.

Most people when they hear the word ego envision the pompous, outspoken, overly-confident, rich person that can’t help throwing around their opinion. While this is part of the definition, it goes well beyond that often misunderstood interpretation.

The ego also impacts the quiet, bashful, recluse kind of individuals as well. It comprises our fears, insecurities, limiting beliefs, and self-doubts.

Everyone is impacted differently through their ego. As we grow up, we begin to believe certain stories about ourselves. These stories can come from our parents, friends, social culture, and surrounding environments. The ego begins to develop a sense “of self” through our life experiences. Before too long and often at a young age, we begin to form our personalities alongside the development of our egos.

For many, we begin to unknowingly identify with our ego. A type of entrapment often happens and we wake up at some point in our lives believing whatever it is that the voice inside our head tells us.

How the Ego uses Guilt to Hold us Back

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A Course in Miracles” has become one of my greatest learning assets on what ego is and how breaking free of ego is so important in our lives. The Course teaches about our separation and splintering off from our higher power. Like our soul and spirt connects to this higher power, so does the ego connect with the physical world in which we live. ACIM, as it is known, teaches about our separation from our higher power and the guilt that the ego identifies with it.

To think and align with guilt is to fear punishment. The ego believes in and aligns with division since we splintered off from our Source. What we accept into our own minds begins to generate our realities. When thinking in a guilty manner, it automatically generates a feeling of fear. As many have come to understand – fear is one of the most crippling of all emotions we experience in life.

Choosing to live our lives through our empowered spirit and connection to our higher selves is how we overcome this feeling of guilt. When we choose to see in alignment with the ego, we are identifying with the physical realm and aligning with separation. In reality, we are always connected to our Source. Through using our spirit to allow our higher selves to live with us while in the physical world, we are choosing not to see ourselves as separate.

Many of us have become disillusioned in the belief that we are separate from our Source and that fuels the ego. Thus unconsciously, our guilt rises and begins to side more with the physical reality we see in front of us, rather than the empowering life-force we are still connected with.

We are not Our Thoughts, Mind, or Ego

I believe part of our journey in life is to discover who and what we really are.

While our ego is attached to this physical life we are living, we must discover that we are not our hierarchy, wealth, physical looks, among many other things.

Eckhart Tolle and his incredibly enlightening book “The Power of Now,” dictates the point of identification quite well. He explains the following:

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Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgements, and definitions that blocks all true relationship.

Eckhart Tolle

It is through this “screen of thought” he describes that creates the “illusion” of separateness. We begin to believe that there is a “You” and a totally separate “other being.” Through this illusion we then can no longer see that we are really “one with all that is.”

Freeing Yourself from the Ego & Mind

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We all hear the voice inside our head – that doesn’t make us crazy. That voice or ego we have is always commenting on what comes up in our minds. It makes judgements, comparisons, complaints, likes, and dislikes. This is not something that will likely change. However, we can gain some level of “impartialness” to that thought. Here are some ways that we can begin breaking free of ego and mindless chatter:

  • Pay attention to repetitive patterns of thought
  • Do not judge or condemn the thoughts you have
  • Listen to the thought impartially
  • Begin to “watch” and “listen” to the voice – become the observer of it
  • Do not think along with it – simply observe it without judgment

Playing the “watcher” of your ego and mind helps bring you more towards consciousness and becoming ever more present. This is how we begin to disengage from the mindless chatter. Therefore the involuntary mind chatter begins to lessen.

As Eckhart Tolle teaches, “Instead of watching the thinker, you can also create a gap in the mind stream by directing the focus of your attention into “The Now.” Each time we create a gap in the mindless wonderment of our thought stream, our consciousness grows ever more aware and powerful.

If the ego were to have its way, it would forever keep us living in the past and future. Stuck in our blunders and mistakes and forever fearful of how those errors will craft our misfortune of our futures.

Our liberation away from the mindless chatter and fear generation of the ego, is generated as we focus evermore intently into present moment awareness. “Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought.”

We can begin to see that we are no longer “the emotions” of our lives, rather we are the watcher or observing presence.

It takes some practice, but with enough effort we can learn to see ourselves as never separate from our higher Source. We can “watch” our egoic mind and bring ourselves ever more into present moment awareness and happiness.

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