What’s my intention?

What's my intention? Go ahead and ask yourself that question. Be open to the answer.Yeah, ever stop and ask yourself that? Exactly what’s my intention here?

Because lemme tell ya, there was a time where asking myself that question could’ve saved me oceans of pain and struggling.

It’s no secret that my life used to be kind of a mess. I’ve spent years basically jerking around — on both major and minor scales — only to discover things that don’t exactly serve me well.

Not once did I dare to ask myself that question, What’s my intention with this?

And I use the word ‘dare’ deliberately. Because deep down, I knew there was this part of me that needed to hear an answer. Because basically I needed a purpose.

But that part of me was scared, man. Scared of hearing the truth, and scared of change.

So I did my best to treat that pesky question like a distraction, and drowned it in what later turned out to be the real distractions — galore.

 

What's my intention of distracting myself? Only to avoid the bitter taste of waking the Hell up.
Kinda like this, but including alcohol, women, and shame.

The question works on many levels:

Am I out to find flaws here, or am I rather seeking to understand?

Will doing this thing provide me with long-term value, or simply instant gratification?

Am I striving to be the best possible version of myself at all times, or am I settling for something around level ‘acceptable’?

If you keep asking about your deeper intention for every answer you get, they all point towards nothing less than your intention in life itself.

*** SPOILER ***

And waddya know: It’s all about feeling good.

That’s right: Whatever we do, we do it because there are benefits to it. Even if only perceived ones. And even if we undertake strenuous tasks. It’s all about feeling good at the end.

Or, in the case of yours truly anno 2009, feeling good right away.

What's my intention of partying? Well, granted, sometimes, it's simply to have fun.
… And I’m not gonna lie: Those few hours CAN be hella fun.

Because confidence and self-awareness tend to go hand in hand, I’ll safely go all-in and submit that there’s a tendency among people with higher levels of confidence to continually ask themselves what their intentions are in what they’re doing.

And I think it’s fair to say that it’s something we could all benefit from, and that we should all be doing.

Go ahead. Ask yourself, What’s my intention here? Where am I going with this?

While the answer, of course, is ultimately about feeling good, you’ll ideally get some more focus and direction in your life.

Let me know how it works out!

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Raise your awareness, raise your confidence

If you raise your awareness in the critical areas of your life, you clear the path for growth and confidence.In the world of self-development you often hear people like Tony Robbins and Bob Proctor advising you to how to raise your awareness, and talking about how to do it. But why are we so seemingly obsessed with raising our respective awarenesses?

There’s a quote by C.G. Jung that says, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” And I think this holds the key to understanding the purpose.

See, a lot of people — far too many if you ask me — get stuck in life because they tend to focus on the uncontrollable negative circumstances that happened “to” them, rather than becoming aware of what they can do themselves to change those circumstances.

And by the way, I put the word “to” in quotation marks because uncontrollable things don’t happen “to” us. Because there’s nothing inherently personal about accidents and tragedies. Shit happens. It’s simply that kind of planet. If we wanna move on, we just have to deal with it.

And if you’ve decided that you wanna deal with those circumstances instead of letting them get to you, this is where you gotta make the unconscious conscious. This is where you gotta raise your awareness.

If your dream is to make it as a singer, but you sing outta key, you gotta be aware of the pitch of your voice. Unless you wanna end up the next Florence Foster Jenkins — at best.

If you’re unaware of what technical qualifications it takes to get your specific dream job, you’d have to be extremely lucky to somehow acquire those skills AND nail the job interview.

And if you don’t raise your awareness around how you affect other people, chances are you’re not gonna make very many friends.

If you want friends, you better raise your awareness about how you affect other people.
Apart, maybe, from imaginary ones.

I could keep making examples, but you get the point.

If you don’t raise your awareness in those key areas, you’ll get more and more frustrated about stuff happening “to” you, eventually ending up like one of those “excuse-makers”.

You know, the people who will spend more energy letting you know about why they allegedly “can’t” do Y. — Instead of figuring out, for example, how to approach Y by doing X or Z instead.

The sad reality is, though, that if your barrier isn’t within your frame of consciousness you literally can’t overcome said barrier. If you’re not aware of something you’ll be lucky to change it by a fluke, if at all.

If I asked you to give me a quick recap of Ulysses, you’d pretty much need to have actually read Ulysses at some point. Or at least somehow gotten a recap yourself.

And if I asked you to name me the one biggest reason why you’re not working on your dream right now, you’d have to at least give it some thought before answering. You’d have to consult your personal experience to gather mental data.

In other words, you’d have to raise your awareness around it.

Okay, but how does confidence follow from heightened awareness?

Well, I’m not saying that confidence will necessarily follow as a natural consequence thereof. Certain sensitive people might become self-aware about certain unfortunate personal traits and then initially feel embarrassed about them.

When you raise your awareness, you might discover something embarrassing. Don't be discouraged!
Aaaaaawwwwwww…

But the more you’re aware of yourself, the more you have the potential to make lasting change. And you can’t grow into the person who’ll live your dreams if you don’t become aware of what’s holding you back.

And furthermore, higher awareness isn’t necessarily a means to an end; it’s an end in itself.

Like knowledge. Like experience. Hell, like laughter.

So by all means, raise your awareness in those critical areas of your life where you need to change. And, indeed, become aware of where you need to change.

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Do you sometimes confuse pleasure and happiness?

We all confuse pleasure and happiness. Are you doing anything about it?Let’s be honest here: We’re all confusing pleasure and happiness sometimes.

We’ve all found ourselves dicking around on the internet instead of studying.
We’ve all tried ruining our appetite by snacking on junk food instead of at least something healthy.
And maybe we’ve all been in a relationship that we knew was going bad but couldn’t get ourselves to end. Because the comfort, safety, kisses and caressing touches seemed far more appealing than the uncertainties and stigmatizations of being single.

Sure, some are prone to this more than others. But none of us are able to flawlessly distinguish between where one ends and the other takes over.

(Indeed, there probably is no such fine distinction.)

Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, pleasure is an immediate sensation of enjoyment. Often brought on by sensory stimulus, whether eating an entire bag of chips, watching Netflix all day, abusing alcohol, having sex, or gambling. In other words, an externally triggered instant gratification.

Happiness, on the other hand, is purely internal, and cultivated more slowly and meticulously. Happiness stems from a sense of confidence and purpose. — Two things that I’ve found to be related in quite a few ways.

Paradoxically, happiness comes from feeling good about continually doing the things that might not bring you immediate pleasure, but which you know will bring you… Well, happiness!

With happiness being less attainable, it’s no wonder why so many people seem to be virtually chasing one high of pleasure after another.

By the way, in my opinion, there’s nothing necessarily bad about taking one night of decadent partying, comprising alcohol and sex galore, followed by a day of restitution, comprising chips and Netflix galore.

In fact, I deliberately do this every month. Because I’m only human; because I wanna live my one life to the max every once in a while; and because acute pleasure does not in itself rule out long-term happiness.

However, there’s something wrong about chasing instant gratification to an extent where it substitutes any happiness you might’ve had otherwise. And it seems most of us are far too prone to chase pleasure rather than happiness.

It’s not that it’s any surprise. In the words of Tony Schwartz, “enduring happiness often requires delaying gratification”. In other words, choosing happiness over pleasure IS harder for us.

But one thing is that it’s hard for us to deny ourselves pleasure; another is that it’s treacherously easy to get pleasure and happiness mixed up.

In fact, neuroscientists have even mapped out the hedonic brain circuitry — the part of our brain responsible for rewarding pleasure-seeking — speculating on the “potential interaction of hedonics with eudaimonic networks“.

… Meaning, in other words, that the two areas are difficult to distinguish even from a neuroanatomical standpoint.

(So don’t worry!)

Like with the above example of choosing to stay in a stillborn relationship because it feels better, it can also seem better. Of course we know that eating a burger meal instead of salad isn’t exactly healthy. But that’s not the only way we might confuse pleasure and happiness. Far from it.

And what I’ve found is that the lower one’s confidence, the lower one’s level of awareness. And the lower one’s level of awareness, the harder it is to make the crucial distinction between pleasure and happiness. — Necessarily!

It’s true that certain pivotal factors determining our happiness is beyond our control. For example, the global economy might impact certain local conditions adversely. And, by the way, anything else imaginable from civil war to our internet connection going down.

Other factors, we might be able to influence. Some people seem to be genetically more prone to depression than others. For certain ones, it’s probably out of their hands. But for most people by far, the ability to influence one’s attitude towards the world is far greater than one thinks. It’s all a matter of continually improving thereupon.

And then, continuing in this vein, there is a vastness of factors which we THINK should affect our happiness, but really don’t matter. For example, if you’re letting your happiness depend on whether you have holes in your socks, or whether the other supermarket queue is faster, you seriously need to take your idea of happiness into reevaluation.

(And I’m telling myself this just as much as I’m telling you.)

So, then, how do we get better at making a distinction that probably isn’t even there in the first place?

Good question. Like I said, it has much to do with the aforementioned awareness. And awareness, like any other state of mind, can be trained and nurtured.

You might wanna start by doing the following:

Should you find yourself unable to make a choice because you can’t seem to distinguish between pleasure and happiness, ask yourself: Will this bring me short-term pleasure? Or, will this rather bring me long-term happiness?

Keep this in mind from now on. It will get easier over time.
ACTION ITEM:

Cut off as many external sources of pleasure — and, indeed, distraction — as possible. For as long as possible.

Which sources of pleasure and distraction do you have in your life?

Internet? Television? Smartphone? Social media? Junkfood and/or candy? Alcohol? Regular sex?

How many of these do you rely upon for comfort on a daily basis? Are you able to cut them all off? If not, then how many? And which ones?

The only way to find out just how truly happy and stable we are is to abstain. The longer we’re able to feel genuine happiness without the use of external stimulants, the stronger we are.

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Luck has nothing to do with it

Luck has nothing to do with it. High awareness and consistent action, however, does.That’s right: Luck has nothing to do with it, as some allegedly “fortunate” people say. And in this case, “it” doesn’t just mean confidence.

It means life. Life as you’d like it to be. And the life that we see someone leading, when we immediately consider them “lucky”.

See, whenever someone seems to reap all the rewards in life, we tend to think of them as “fortunate” or “lucky”, yeah?

Well, would you believe me if I told you that ascribing “luck” to anyone or anything is potentially harmful to us?

What exactly is luck anyway? Many people would probably define it as something like, “when things coincidentally fall out to your advantage”. But is it really just that?

And more importantly, would we need more than merely coincidence to receive the gifts of life?

(SPOILER ALERT: Yes. Yes it does.)

When Michael Jackson recorded the “Thriller” album, did it sell millions because of “luck”? Or was it because he had spent his entire childhood and adolescence working his derrière off, meticulously honing his craft and gathering a hugely talented team of producers, songwriters and A&R people behind him?

When Steve Jobs released the first iPhone, did it become hugely successful because of “luck”? Or was it because he dared to take chances, push the envelope, fulfil the needs that his customers had — even ones they didn’t realize they had — and amass an army of professional developers and marketers behind him?

Sure, Michael Jackson was probably as close to being the proverbial natural talent as they come. And Steve Jobs, according to many, was a natural visionary who simply thought outside the box and dreamt big.

But what good would that have done them if they hadn’t put in the work, insisted upon their dreams, and kept at it for years and years?

Luck has nothing to do with it because “it”doesn’t happen without taking action.

Here’s another thing:

Have you ever seen “Forrest Gump”? If not, it’s a fine movie, and you should see it at least once.*

Forrest Gump, our titular protagonist, is clearly slow-witted, but likeable. And he somehow manages to walk through life and attract all kinds of success and fortune as he cluelessly goes along. Only he never realizes it. Because success and fortune simply doesn’t resonate with his humble mind.

Let’s pause here for a moment. Now, think about your own life.

Have you ever learned a new word, and then in the following days and weeks you saw and heard that word everywhere?

Or have you ever been unemployed and looked for jobs, and all of a sudden job applications are everywhere?

I know, right?

The key word here is awareness.

Forrest Gump doesn’t consciously experience fame and fortune, because his awareness is on a different level. When we’re consciously aware of something, we’re gonna find it.

Not because there’s more of it, but simply because we’ve become aware of it. Like a hunter who deliberately ignores anything but the potential sights and sounds of his prey.

Luck has nothing to do with it, because what good would all the coincidence in the world do us if we weren’t aware of it?

But wait a minute! What was that thing you said about how ascribing luck to anyone could be “harmful”??

Yeah, see, that’s because it’s something that non-fident people tend to do. Which is rarely beneficial.

It’s when we’re non-fident that we tend to think in terms of “luck” — and “bad luck”. Specifically, we tend to think that other people get all the luck, and that we’re victims of unfortunate circumstances.

This is a conveniently easy way of thinking, because it takes the responsibility for our lives out of our hands. And for the same reason, it’s also a dangerous way of thinking.

But when we allow ourselves to go for the life we want, consistently taking action and raising our awareness will make sure that we get it.

Some people might be born with certain advantages, yes. But imagine how many people never put that advantage to any use. Either because they never see the possibilities and/or because they’re simply too shy to act on it.

And now, think of all the famous media persons who obviously wouldn’t recognize talent even if it came out of nowhere and took away all their limelight.

Think of all the wealthy corporate leaders who got where they are by being uncompromising, cold as ice, playing the game and doing what’s best for the company no matter what.

Think of all the powerful politicians, all the Frank Underwood’s of the world, who got to where they are by lying, manipulating, and probably worse.

Really, luck has nothing to do with it. But being aware of our opportunities, and taking consistent action towards them has everything to do with it.

 

ACTION ITEM:

This week, take up learning something new. Something you’ve been wanting to get into, only you couldn’t find the time (or whatever excuse you made for yourself).

Set aside 1/2 hour every night, monday through friday, for working on that thing only. Nothing else. This means, turn off your phone. No phone; no social media or other distractions. Just you and your new challenge.

Getting into this sort of habit will eventually prove to us that luck has nothing to do with it. — And that practice, consistency, and focus are the keys to accomplishing pretty much anything.

 


* Yes, I know it’s originally a book. So are a lot of great movies.

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