Finding Your Way - Through Your Why

Category: self-improvement Page 1 of 3

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The Benefits of the Stoic Mind

The benefits of the stoic mind are relevant perhaps now more than ever. Even though the teachings and philosophical views go back to around the 3rd century BC, the learnings may be even more practical today. Our lives are full of social, political, career, personal and media driven distractions. It is often hard to center oneself on what is necessary to focus on let alone deal with the challenges that the modern life is placing in front of us.

Here is an old story that helps frame up the teaching of stoicism quite well:

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is angry, jealous, greedy, resentful, lies and and has a big ego. The other is Good. It is full of joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

Which wolf are you feeding?

Introduction to Stoicism

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Let’s shed some light on the belief system that Stoicism operates within.

In the most simplistic terminology, Stoicism was designed to help people live their best lives possible.

Stoicism is a life philosophy that centers around positive emotions. The goal becomes reducing negative emotions and helping individuals to develop virtues of character.

Stoicism provides a framework for living a life well-lived. It teaches what is truly important in life. In addition, it also centers on providing tactics to bring more positive outcomes into our circle of influence.

Stoicism was created to be understandable, actionable, and practical. Practicing Stoicism doesn’t require learning an entirely new philosophical methodology or meditating for hours a day. Instead, it offers an immediate, useful and seamless way to find tranquility and improve one’s attitude, behaviors, and overall state of mind. It is a life practice that not only can improve our way of living, but also help us discover our purpose.

The Foundation of Stoicism

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Stoicism was an attractive school of thought during the 3rd century BC because it provided compelling answers to anxiety, stress, fear, and troubling questions to life at the time. The Stoics offered an operating system that dealt with the trials of the human condition that are quite relevant today.

The teachings largely center around pulling into the front and center of one’s mind more positive behavior. Thus, that focus resulted in a more positive mindset. All of this focus was targeted to avoid the negative focus and negative outcomes of life.

A handful of thinkers helped to form the Stoic philosophy:

  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  • Zeno of Citium
  • Epictetus

Our ancestors have taught us the benefits of the stoic mind. They have helped us pave our way to understanding life so that we can attain the most positive outcomes we desire.

The Four Habits of The Stoic Mind

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  • Accept What is only True

We often can get caught up into gossip. It is a human condition that we must resist. The reason being is, more often than not, gossip drives negativity in our lives. When you hear gossip, ask yourself where it is coming from? Does the affirming party truly have proof of this gossip? Ask them if they have proof. If they do not, then kindly ask them not to tell you or do not reciprocate.

  • Work For the Common Good

Do right by others. Be a good humble individual. Give more compliments than complaints. By being an overall kind, empathetic, loving individual, you will attract more of those traits into your life through giving them off.

  • Match Our Needs and Wants with what is in Our Control

Life is neither good nor bad; it is the space for both good and bad.

Seneca

Think of life as a hand of cards. You didn’t control the hand you were first dealt. However, you do control how you play that hand. Essentially, even with a more difficult draw of the cards, we can win. Conversely, with a great hand we can overestimate our good fortune and still lose. The situation we are dealt in life is mostly neutral. It is the actions we take after the hand is dealt that matters.

  • Embrace what Nature has in Store for Us

O world, I am in tune with every note of thy great harmony. For me nothing is early, nothing late if it be timely for thee. O Nature, all that thy seasons yield is fruit for me.

Marcus Aurelius

Let us work to control only our direct surroundings. Even those at times we can’t fully control. Bringing fear and anxitey into our lives over issues we aren’t generating isn’t healthy. What we do control is how we respond. We always have the power of “choice.” Place our focus there.

Taking Action

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Putting into practice the benefits of the stoic mind can help change our lives for the better. It does require some action and effort around mindset.

Take one of the four mentioned habits of the stoic mind and put it into place immediately in your life. You’ll see instant benefit if you adhere to the practice daily.

Once you gain the benefits of others, work the other mindsets into your daily life as you are able. Pause and reflect on what is happening in your life. With the benefits of the stoic mind fully employed, you will find your life with:

  • less anxiety
  • lower stress
  • better health & wellness
  • more focus and mental fortitude
  • more meaning and happiness

What benefits have you had from practicing more of a “Stoic Mindset?” However we are living now in these challenging times of change, we stand to benefit even more through practicing the Stoic teachings.

I’d love to hear from here from you! Feel free to post a comment or engage in the conversation.

accomplishment action adventure challenge

Living as your Authentic Self

I’ve always liked to believe I’m living life as my authentic self. However, for most of my life I have often thought about how others view me. It used to be something that I put a great deal of precedence behind. Having lived in the corporate eye for the majority of my adult life, I’ve always been wary of what others think of me. I’ve had to ensure that the corporate view aligns with the “real me” as much as possible. We often reserve our views from the public eye and hold back the “real self” in order to please others. However, living life as our authentic selves first, helps us align to our life purpose.

What do You Stand for?

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Deciding what you stand for should align with your purpose and mission. Have you thought about your personal mission in life? Many of us have passions, and these ultimately can align with our mission in life.

One of my methods for deciding one’s purpose in life is to use the following formula:

  • What the world needs
  • Heed your talents
  • Your passions in life

I call this the WHY model. Beginning with WHY is vital over the HOW or the WHAT. The “why” is what defines us. To start to think about your purpose or mission, begin with what you think others in this world need help with. This is “what the world needs.”

Next, we call into play what your talents are. “Heeding your talents” brings to the forefront where your strengths are. What do other people come to you for? What support do you find yourself giving in everyday life? These are likely your natural talents.

Lastly we look at your passions. While our passions don’t always lead us to our purpose, it is a good indicator of where to begin our “search for meaning.” This is how we begin to ensure we are living as our authentic self.

Living with Purpose

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I have defined my purpose statement as:

“Empower and inspire others to find their purpose in life through helping them deprogram their outdated education and indoctrinations, so they can achieve greater levels of meaning, happiness, and overall success.”

This purpose statement is in my phone, printed in my home office, and put in the forefront of my mind to remind me of WHY I do what I do. It helps me make decisions, prioritize my work, and even align goals in my personal life.

Once we have efficiently aligned on our purpose, our daily mission becomes more clear. Thus, it helps more align how you can begin living as your authentic self.

Fulfilling your Mission Breeds Confidence

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Once we have affirmed our reason for being, we are more aptly able to live in truth and honesty. What does this mean? I’ll give just a few examples in my own life:

Despite how others may view me in the corporate space, I have grown more comfortable in my skin with my views. As I am working to generate a platform and community, many of the corporate people I am working with are hearing of my endeavors. It can be a little uncomfortable at first as my personal and life views gain recognition from my peers.

However living as your authentic self has ways to re-affirm if you are on the right path. Many of the corporate people that have discovered my work continuously reaffirm my goals and aspirations with continual accolades and affirmations.

This helps grow the confidence level and in my own belief, is the universe helping solidify in me that I am on the right path. There are some amazing benefits to living a purposeful life as well. All of this helps us live and fulfill our purpose with more confidence.

Looking Past Your Inner Critic

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The final part of living as your authentic self has to do with seeing past the inner-critic. This is the part of us that is always questioning how others view us through their own eyes.

Once we have affirmed that the universe is on our side, we need not worry about that inner critic in our heads. As long as we are living with authenticity and integrity, we can say our mind and live to our guidelines.

I’m not sure about you, but this has been one of my biggest hurdles as of late. I know that I’ll never compromise myself morally, legally, or within current social issues. However, the views I have in my life are largely not discussed in the corporate arena. I don’t make it a point to bring these views up in my corporate position, but if someone asks my opinion, I’m not very hesitant to give my view. I’m always cautious to mention my views are my opinions and also my truths through my life experiences.

I know that part of who I am as an individual and living through my purpose, means I have to authentically give my perspectives. How can we live our purpose and mission if we hold back on enlightening conversations with others?

In the end, this is how you can take steps that lead you closer to living as your authentic self.

If you’re at all in the same camp with me here, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment or engage in the conversation with any struggles or success stories you’ve had in your life.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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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Five Books that Impacted my Self Development the Most

What is the difference between education and learning? Education is the process of being told what one needs to learn through the perspectives of society. Learning can be self-directed and often driven through the ambitions of the individual. It is often far more beneficial to the growth of the individual that they are empowered to seek learning and knowledge into aspects of life that most interest them. That was certainly the case in my life. I didn’t enjoy being “educated” in school. I much prefer to seek out information in life that intrigues me. There are certain aspects of life we need base education in, but I would much rather seek the learning that inspires and motivates me. With that in mind, here are the five books that impacted my self development the most in my life.

The Law of Attraction – How Life Works

In 2006 I came across the now renowned and infamous book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. In this book the author speaks to her discovery of how the non-physical aspect of life works in conjunction to our thoughts.

Deep within I could feel this truth. At the time I was 26 years old and had begun successfully putting my life in order.

It was through the realization that our thoughts are connected energetically through our physical reality that hit home to me. The mind is truly more powerful than given credit for. It isn’t just responsible for intellectual intelligence and the functions of our body, it also acts as like a software program for the hardware of our lives. What we think and believe, eventually manifests itself into existence over time. Sometimes faster and othertimes times longer, but without a doubt we are programming our realities through each thought.

The Law of Attraction is real in my life and I’ve witnessed its authenticity so many times. As I often say, your truth will come through your own experiences.

Belief of a Higher Power – Or Not?

Shortly after discovering “The Secret” I began wondering more about the significance of a higher power. Does God exist? If so, what exactly is God’s purpose?

Did God just create us and then take a back seat in our lives, or is God more active in our everyday lives?

These are questions that we likely may not be able to 100% answer, but the point in asking them in my opinion is necessary.

In the book “Is Belief in God, Good, Bad, or Irrelevant?” – the lead singer Gregg Graffin, of Bad Religion, and his friend Preston Jones debate the terms of “God” and other religious aspects of life, their relevancy, and other big questions that many people ask.

This was one of the books that impacted my self development the most because it put into focus front and center, that our belief system doesn’t necessary matter. It opened my perspective to “Naturalism” and wanting to know more about “Universal Law.”

Non-Believer to Believer

Reading “Is Belief in God Good, Bad, or Irrelevant?” led me to “Proof of Heaven” from Eben Alexander.

The author is a neurosurgeon that was an atheist until he had a near death experience during a coma and bout with Meningitis.

While in his coma, he remembered specific awe-inspiring details of being reunited with his sister in the afterlife.

Eben Alexander awoke from his medically induced coma with a brand new “truth.” He had experienced the very real aspect of his spirt or consciousness leaving his body for a period of time. This differed in specific ways from a dream.

Because of this book, I began wanting to understand more about the non-physical aspects of life. What is the spirit? What is consciousness? Do either of these exist once the physical body ceases to exist? These are questions that demand more exploration.

Out of Body Experiences – Not a Myth

What Eben Alexander was experiencing during his coma was and OBE or “out of body experience.” People that have “near death” experiences often experience OBE’s. However, they are still very much alive, just not always in the physical sense. It is beginning to become more clear, that when the body dies, life continues. Just not in the way we are accustomed to.

In “Journeys Out of the Body,” Robert Monroe tells the story of his experiences of being able to “view” life while not “in” his body. Bare with me here…

This is not a new concept. During the Cold War, the CIA recruited “Mind Readers” to spy on the Soviets. The CIA declassified 12 million pages of records. The reveal from the CIA speaks to previously unknown details about a program, which eventually became known as Project Star Gate. The program was shut down in 1995. But the study revealed how psychics known as “remote viewers” took part in a variety of operations, from locating terrorists to helping free hostages.

This book led me to study how we get our minds and bodies into a meditative state that allows the consciousness to “experience” life in real time outside of the body. Through these practices, I have been able to discover the very real truth that our life extends beyond the physical realm we see each day.

Being Healthy in the Here and Now

Although there is much more to life than just the physical, we still need to tend to “our capsules” we refer to as bodies. Of all the books that impacted my self development, this one made the most impact in my health.

In “Super Human,” David Asprey brings attention to how important healthy functioning mitochondria are in our bodies. All the physical aspects of our bodies rely on healthy cells.

For all the attention we place on the outside image of our body, we neglect the internal workings. Much of the degeneration that occurs as we age is due to the cellular breakdown we endure. However, there are many natural supplements that aid our different cells in slowing the break down that occurs as our bodies get older.

When we learn how to supplement and eat a more balanced diet, we can begin to “age backwards” or slow the aging process. David has a life goal of living to be 160! In this book, he speaks to the many different tactics that can be put into place in practical ways.

With proper health, supplements, and modern science, the only thing that keeps us from living vibrantly past 100 is typically our belief and mindset.

Let Your Intuition Guide You

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We each are walking our own path and journey in life. The books that impacted my self development might not be the ones that you need the most to impact yours. The key in our individual journey’s are to pause and reflect with our intuition. Where does your intrigue lead you? What topics in life inspire you to learn more about?

So many people are simply “moving through” life. They often don’t pause to discover needed personal awakenings. When you do pause and generate the questions you seek, pay attention to what life puts in front of you. That is how it has worked for me. One discovery leads to the next, and then the next, and before you know it you’re well on your way to finding your specific answers.

What has been your path? What self-awakenings and discoveries have you had? Which of these left the biggest lasting impacts in your life?

I’d love to hear from you and your experiences in personal awakenings and self discoveries. All of us walk different paths, but all our paths are unique and beautiful in their own ways.

Let your intuition continue to be your life guide…if you pay attention, you will see it is taking you to the discoveries you need for your own personal awakenings.

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The True Meaning of Sovereignty

The true meaning of Sovereignty is often misunderstood. The meaning of the word comes from Latin origins. Supra– meaning above or not below, and Regnum – meaning “kingdom” or “dominion.” This translates to “not being owned, or not being under rulership of any kingdom or dominion.”

To be a sovereign being literally means to rule your own kingdom. Sovereignty does not come from governments, Kings, Queens, Dictatorships, or other political means. It is granted by the Rights of the Universe or Natural Law to the individual to live as he or she sees best for themselves.

We as humans do have a sovereign right to do what we individually feel best for ourselves without direction from governments or other imposing powers. Governments exist to try and provide natural order, law, and direction for the masses. However, these individuals that make our rules don’t decide our freedom of choice – within reason.

The recent rise and push for globalization, further blends and muddies the waters of sovereign interests and continues to fuel the debate.

Man’s Law Defined

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Man’s law consists of rules that we decide for society. These rules are ever changing and fit the needs of the time. They are largely “made up.” I consider them mostly an illusion or construct through which society functions.

Some of these rules are certainly necessary. We don’t want people texting and driving or running red lights and stop signs. Certainly laws exist for good reason, but they are made up principles from one group that feels they know best.

I believe that most people grow up understanding the difference between right and wrong. In my belief system, human beings are born innately good. This goes contrary to the belief of some that we are born in sin and innately evil or bad. It is largely our surroundings, upbringing, and conditioning that imprint upon us and help cultivate how we will view and live our lives – either for good, or for evil.

Mans Law is “Made Up” through Time

Let’s take prohibition for example. At one point in time a group within the ruling class of the U.S. decided that alcohol was more bad than good. It’s production and sale was outlawed from 1920 – 1933.

At some point in time, another group of rulers and law makers decided it would be better off allowing the sales and manufacturing of alcohol once again.

The previous law was abolished and the sale of alcohol was once again allowed.

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As time continues on, lawmakers decide what they deem best for the public and then the people are typically forced to adopt and live within those rules of operation.

In many ways we have seen similar changes within the cannabis industry. Long looked at as forbidden, states have mostly completely adopted cannabis for medical use and some have made it legal recreationally.

Understandably, these rules and regulations are highly debatable. The principle of sovereignty and the ability to choose for oneself is at the center of the controversy. Mainly because there are possibilities of harming another underneath these substances. If it were simply only about “one human,” and their choice to partake – there would likely be much less debate. The other side of the coin argues alcohol and cannabis, when abused, can cause harm or worse to innocent bystanders extending far beyond just the sovereign being choosing to partake in the substance.

Man’s Law versus Natural Law

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Natural Law is factual within principles of creation while man’s law is left to interpretation and dogmatic constructs of the mind. Natural Law is not left to interpretation – it either “is,” or “is not.” Natural Law is factual everywhere within the known universe – from one side to the other. It is always the same and constant and helps define the meaning of sovereignty in our lives.

We will always reap what we sow. “As above / so below,” as the principle of correspondence points out. Bad deeds done, will result in karmic outputs for those that conduct them. Contrarily, man’s law requires compliance through fear and punishment in failure to comply regardless of our sovereign right of personal choice.

Man’s Law is Fickle

Man’s law changes from city to city, county to county, state to state, country to country. If ever we populate other planets, it will likely change from planet to planet. Natural Law will exist for as long as the universe exists. The principles and facts such as gravity, as just one example, will always be. Whereas man’s law changes with time.

Many other examples of this exist around the globe as to what we accept somewhere, but not elsewhere. We seem to have no idea what is right for ourselves or what the lies at the center of the meaning of sovereignty. Why must we always think we have it figured out and decide what others can and cannot do? While I don’t expect much to change anytime soon – these are always questions worth asking and diving into. Nature and the universe has given us natural laws by which we can live, why must we always look to “man,” to guide us?

Likely because we see ourselves as the greatest power the world has ever known. We understand very little about the universe and the truths that exist within the Principles of Natural Law.

Sovereignty and True “Rights vs Wrongs”

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People like to debate what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the meaning of sovereignty. It could be over anything, (pick any subject). There always seems to be some form of grey area they define based on situations and certain rules. The fact is, Natural Law can very simply define what is a right and what is a wrong – we don’t need man to decide it for us.

A “right,” is anything that a person does to or for themselves that does not inflict a “wrong,” on another. If a person wants to do something that is causing no harm to anyone else, they should be able to do so. This is anything and everything. It does not matter if “man’s law,” decries it or not. Natural law simplyis.”

The concept of morality under the Natural Law theory is not subjective. This means that the definition of what is “right,” and what is “wrong,”is the same for everyone, everywhere. The natural law approach to solving ethical dilemmas begins with the basic belief that everyone has the right to live their life without contradictions to infringing on Natural Law rights of others. Even if that action is something that another person thinks is dangerous for that person to do, it still should be the individual’s sovereign right to do whatever they want to do for themselves. This helps further clarify the meaning of sovereignty.

Allow the Universe to Handle it

If and when a persons’ actions cause inadvertent or purposeful harm to another, the person that made the decision will suffer karmic consequences. These can be in many different forms from mental anguish to physical struggles as well. Natural and Universal Law will always balance through the Principle of Correspondence. We as man do not need to decide that persons fate. Because we don’t understand Universal Law, we feel the need to “punish” the personal that committed the dastardly deed. To us, this is retribution. We don’t realize the Universe will handle it for that person, in this current life or their next.

A wrong is very easily described as any action that inflicts harm upon another individual. It is also the action of taking from another, of which does not belong to them. Even though technically we never actually “own” anything forever, while in our physical bodies, we incorporate items over time and we have rights to these belongings.

Human kind continues to try and set out to define “our laws,” and this is very likely the cause of imbalance we often experience in our lives. Humankind doesn’t seem ready for it today or anytime soon, but it is time we turn the reigns back over to the universe and follow its Law.

This is where we as humankind find our true meaning of Sovereignty…

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The Effects of Excitotoxins on Our Brains

How would you respond if someone told you chemicals you consume are causing physical and mental damage to your brain and body? What if you knew that these chemicals were affecting your children’s nervous systems and emotional development? Would you continue to consume these chemicals if you found they could cause and exacerbate conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Austism, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS? Paying attention to what we put in our bodies is important not only for physical health, but mental health as well. This post will detail the effects of excitotoxins on our brains, and thus the connection and impact to the body.

What we don’t know about Excitotoxins

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Not many people have heard of the term “excitotoxins,” let alone know their effect in our lives. However, most of us have heard the saying “we become what we eat.” Excitotoxins are additives in food and drink such as artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is a taste enhancer that has been added to food in the U.S. since after World War II. Few suspected that “taste additive,” would cause any harm in humans, but by the end of the 1960’s, research data had begun to surface dictating the harm in the human body. Until this time, neuroscientists had believed that glutamate supplied the brain with energy.

Upon the learnings of the harm of MSG, food producers began adding a substance known as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” instead of pure MSG. However this substance is proving to be even more dangerous than MSG, as it contains even more excitotoxins (glutamate, aspartate, and cysteic acid) in addition to added MSG.

A test in 1957, conducted by Lucas and Newhouse, tested MSG on infant mice. When they examined the eye tissue of the mice, they discovered that MSG had destroyed all the nerve cells within the inner layers of the retina. Ten years later, Dr. John W. Olney, a neuroscientist, also discovered that MSG destroyed parts of the brain in the hypothalamus after only a single dose. Despite the discovery, MSG as well as other artificial sweeteners continued to be added to food, cookbooks, and even recipes for baby food.

More and more diseases of the nervous system such as brain damage, seizures, and migraine headaches, are being linked back to excitotoxin build up in the brain.

How Excitotoxins Work

Excitotoxins such as MSG, NatruSweet, and aspartame increase the natural levels of glutamate and aspartate found in our brain and spinal cord. When these levels rise above natural levels, they become deadly toxins to the neurons in our brains and body.

These neurons then become extremely “excited” and if provided in large enough doses, the neurons can degenerate and die.

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As these neurons break down, a destructive chain reaction process begins. Particles, known as “free radicals,” begin to form that damage everything they come in contact with. Our cells and genes within our body begin to be attacked and broken down from these free radicals.

The Effects of Excitotoxins on Babies

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The developing brain is one of the most sensitive and vulnerable of all the organs. While the baby is still in the uterus, it is facing the greatest levels of sensitivity.

The undeveloped enzymes that protect the developing brain are not yet in place while the child is in utero.

Could this be some of the cause of learning disorders such as autism and other psychological problems?

Based on experimental studies in animals, it can be assumed that when pregnant women eat and drink foods such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegatable protein, and other excitotoxins, they are passing potential risk onto the developing brain of their child that can last into its adolescence.

Testing and the FDA Argument

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There are many contradictions in the testing involving of effects of aspartame and other excitotoxins. Before the official approval from the FDA in 1981 to allow aspartame in food and drinks, studies by companies such as NutraSweet aimed to prove there were no considerable harmful effects of aspartame in humans.

One such study conducted by NutraSweet, G.D. Searle, studied the effects in rats. 320 rats were fed a diet containing aspartame and 120 rats were fed a normal diet and used as the control. The results showed 12 of the aspartame fed rats developed brain tumors while none of the control rats did. This represented a 3.75% increase of brain tumors in the rats fed aspartame, which was 25x higher than the incidence of random brain tumors developing in rats. The test divided the rats receiving an aspartame diet into “low dose” and “high dose” groups. In the low dose group, five rats developed brain tumors. In the high dose group seven rats developed brain tumors. This showed the higher the dose of aspartame, the better the chance of brain tumors in rats.

When Dr. John Olney pointed the FDA to the test findings, he was told that the high incidents of tumors in the rats were the results of “spontaneous” development of brain tumors. The same way that humans randomly develop brain tumors.

Dr. Olney reviewed the rate at which rats spontaneously develop brain tumors and found that in seven studies using a total of 59,000 rats, only 0.08% developed brain tumors. The aspartame fed rats had a 47% higher incidence rate.

In 1975, the drug enforcement division of the Bureau of Foods investigated the NutraSweet G.D. Searle subsequent testing. It found “apparent irregularities in data collection and reporting practices.” The director of the FDA at the time stated that they found “sloppy” laboratory techniques and “clerical errors, mixed-up rats, rats not getting the drugs there are supposed to get, pathological specimens lost because of a variety of other errors – all to conspire to obscure positive findings and produce falsely negative results.”

It appears, understandably so, that NutraSweet was desperately working to protect their potential billion dollar payoff and ensure that the FDA gave them positive approval to sell to the market.

While these tests don’t 100% prove that aspartame causes brain tumors in humans, it is interesting to note that from 1973 to 1990 brain tumors in people over the age of six-five have increased 67%.

Conclusion on Excitotoxins

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When MSG and other excitotoxins were first being added to foods for taste enhancements, glutamate receptors in the brain had not been discovered or fully understood. It was not known or understood that side effects could cause the death of brain cells.

Just as the market within the United States was becoming more health conscious, companies like NutraSweet were aiming to bring sugar substitutes into the markets. It was perfect timing. Americans and many others around the world began throwing back sodas they believed to be healthier with sugar substitutes rather than actual sugar. It wasn’t until later in time with more research, the harmful effects of MSG, aspartame, and other excitotoxins began to become known.

We live in a world in which there are so many contradictions and “pay to play” deals. It can often become hard to distinguish fact from fiction and right from wrong.

I have learned one thing in my self-discovery and search for truth and meaning in life – there is often so much more than lies beneath the surface. We need to do our own research and form our own conclusions. Much of the content of this post was pulled from the book “Excitotoxins – The Taste that Kills.” For much more insight, I highly recommend reading the book.

I believe the research shows the effects of excitotoxins on our brains has a far more harmful impact than what most major institutions want us to know.

Feel free to make your own conclusions upon doing your own research.

Please feel free to drop a comment, ask a question, or offer your perspective. There is much to gain from some “healthy” dialog in relation to this topic.

For now, please think twice before you reach for that diet soda or the “Equal” sugar substitute for your coffee. Your brain and your body will thank you in the long run.

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