Challenge yourself!

Hi!

It’s good to be here again this week. Last week had it’s up’s and downs like any other week and I grateful I was able to make the best of it. I hope you all had an amazing weekend. I am not one to talk much about my personal life here on my blog; reason being I try not to stray too far away from things I feel can help others in my discussion, however, I feel that every once in a while I can allow my readers into my world just so that we can connect more.

In my previous blogs, A travelers notepad 1&2, I did express some thoughts concerning where my partner and I currently live and the discomfort of having to be in a high consumer based metropolitan city. We have been deliberating on it and we are seriously looking at the options we have and how we can live in a place where we have less of the “city chaos”. As things unfold I’ll definitely keep you all in the loop. Nonetheless, there are other areas of life that we still have to pay attention to regardless of where we live at the moment. There are some of us who are self-motivated and are used to constantly setting new heights to reach and striving to achieve them as best as we can. There are others who need help with motivation and direction and once you point them in the right direction they can manage to get there. Then there are those who are not self-motivated, who refuse to be motivated, who resent being advice and no matter how much you try to point them in the right direction they always go back to their status quo.

I have seen all three and I try as much as I can to be the first to the best of my ability. So while studying these three categories of people there are definitely a lot of factors that come into play as to why they act the way they do. One of these factors is the comfort zone. The comfort zone has destroyed many people faster than pain, wars, adversity, poverty, etc has ever done. The comfort zone is where many people get to in various stages and aspects of their lives and they just feel that they are now entitled to whatever they want or they feel there is not much to do from there. In some cases of successful people who reach stardom in their respective endeavors and then relax in that comfort zone, we can at least take a second to applaud the fact that they actually did reach a commendable height however because they were too result-focused rather than being process-guided they rested too soon on their oars.

The second case is most undesirable. When people reach that plateau in their lives and refuse to climb the next hill or Mountain, then they submit themselves to the wolves of the comfort zone, who come quickly to devour them. Many of you might be already familiar with how the comfort zone can affect goals and aspirations hence I won’t linger much on that aspect, instead I would like us to see how the comfort zone can affect one’s character.  Recently while reading a book on Mindset Psychology by Carol S Dweck Ph.D., she mentions an interesting point about “praising kids” versus praising their efforts. She explains (I am paraphrasing), that when we praise a kid rather than the process that they undertook, we risk putting them in the fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. This is where I want to draw a correlation. Comfort zones are synonymous with fixed status and calculated risk or progress is synonymous with growth.

In my life, I have taken quite a good number of risks and each time I look back, regardless of how the outcome was I feel it was a great learning experience and above all, it took me out of my comfort zone. So I can say when it comes to challenging myself to step out of my physical comfort zone to achieve a goal, I have some experience. Tough as they may have been I somehow or the other was able to go through them. The next stage of my life is where I am currently learning how to apply the same principle to character, emotion, and psychology. In order to achieve something that you never had, one must be ready and willing to do something he has never done. Just as I have been able to achieve physical things that I didn’t have before by doing things I had never done, I am daily learning now in the phase of my life how to achieve certain subtle emotional and psychological growth by doing things I have never done.

When I wanted to get my  Black belt as a Karate Instructor (I was Eighteen years old at the time), I read a lot of books by many Karate grandmasters and in one of those books I think my Matsutastu Oyama (founder of Kyokushinkai Karate), it was mentioned that the biggest opponent we will face in our lives is ourselves. Back then as an Eighteen-year-old, I understood it theoretically and differently. Then my understanding was a little limited to the martial art and I understood it as follows: that in order for me to get better I had to practice often and that practice was essential to me becoming a good fighter and martial artist. Yes, at the time this was true and is true because al I had my mind and focus on was in using the martial art I had learned in the most physical way; competitions. My dad then told me; “if you do not learn to apply these principles of Karate to your life then you may be a good fighter and win medals and certificates (which I did get), but you won’t be able to really fight the real battles of life.

It was at that moment I knew I had to do better. I began to try to go deeper than just the physicals and till this day I can say maybe only now I am beginning to fully grasp the real meaning of one of the principles of Karate; “Karate is NOT practiced only in the Dojo” It is a life long pursuit. So today as I share with you all these insights I do so more from the perspective of one who is challenging himself and trying to grow from that experience while being vulnerable enough to share it with the world at large. I pray this helps someone take on the big step.

Till next week, please read, share and follow for more.

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Our Body as a tool!

Dear readers,

It’s been a pleasure sharing with you all my experiences in the last two weeks and I hope you all are faring well. I must say it is definitely a double pleasure to be here this week sharing with you all yet another blog. As at the time of writing now, I must say my body isn’t in the best state as I am dealing with stuffed nostrils and chest. I don’t know if it is the constant fluctuation in temperature here; some days 35 C (95 F) and some days 5 C (41 F), or if it is the pollen in the air.

Last night was intense as I had to deal with some bodily discomforts while still been active in my regular duties by morning. It is rather interesting; because I am someone who hardly breaks down healthwise. I have been blessed to have a pretty healthy body and coupled with a strict lifestyle that helps me stay away from things that pose health risks. So as they say you don’t know the value of things until you lose them; I can say maybe the Lord is trying to make me remember that I have a lot to be grateful for. Not that I am not grateful generally, however, I guess a little nudge sometimes by our bodies, helps us realize that we are not immortal. That been said I’ll like to share my blog in that direction today. At some point in time, we might have heard statements like; “our body is the Temple of God”, “health is wealth”, etc. We also may be aware of the fact that if there is any tool we can depend on to get us going, it is our body and hence we have a responsibility to take care of it.

More so, this is a real duty we owe ourselves because we are finite representations of the infinite being and thus we have to preserve the image which we have been given in order to carry out our various duties. On a more physical perspective, our body is always trying to communicate with us. Just as a car has signal lights on the dashboard, our body also has signals it gives us whenever it has to tell us something. Mine, for example, has quite a few I’ll like to share. Whenever I am eating and I am at my limit but fail to stop on my own, I’ll have one burp and then a second one telling me “it’s time to stop, there is no more space”. If I refuse to listen and push further because the food is so tasty and I can’t help it, the consequences are usually instantaneous; bloated stomach, abdominal pain, etc. Also whenever I feel certain shirts hug on me too tightly, I know I am gaining some extra pounds I need to shed and my body is telling me to do something about it.

The benefits of keeping our body sound and active cannot be overemphasized and the results we get when we fail to do so can be quite expensive literally. Something as simple as body hygiene if not done properly and regularly can cost us a fortune by the time we have to see a Doctor. So, after all, said and done what can we do to help this “machine of ours” function at its best. First and foremost we need to understand how it functions and then we can know how to make it work better. Just as we won’t pour water into our gas tanks and expect it to run properly we also have to be conscious of what we put into our bodies. Diet! this is a very big one and every day many people are hospitalized from lifestyle diseases, many of which are from eating habits. There was a time when people thought it was “okay” to guzzle down meat as much as they wanted, and yet they were also surprised that they were getting many terminal illnesses. Then by proper scientific research, Doctors have found out that cancer has been traced back to red meat consumption.

This post is not in any way trying to promote a certain diet or make people feel guilty about what they eat, rather I am just trying to share with you all information which I know can save a life. I’ll be selfish to have such information and refuse to share it. Then we have alcohol, cigarettes, unrestricted sexual intercourse (HIV, STD, STI), etc. Now we also have other activities in which we indulge in other than diet that could pose health risks to us. We live in times where technology is the forefront of almost everything we do. So we are constantly trying to “connect” with the world around us through technology. The downside of this is that it has actually caused a lot of “disconnect” because many people become impersonal from long extensive use and then lose interpersonal relationship skills. The heavier side of this is its effect on our health.

For those of us who have office jobs and have to sit behind a computer for long hours every day, we begin to see that after a while, it takes its toll on our eyes. The long stare at the glare has ruined many an eyesight and even though there are screen filters now to help reduce the risk, we cannot ignore the fact that it still has its toll on our eyes too, as we squint trying to see past the dark screen guard. Then we have cell phones that emit so much radiation that cause cancer, and for those of us who like to “bond” with our mobiles at night, we are even at a higher risk. Studies have shown that we are more susceptible to these radiations at later hours when they are at their peak. So what do we do about this?

We try to achieve balance and be equipoised in all our dealings. It is important that we remember that this body is not immortal and has its expiry tag, whether we like it or not. In as much as we want to have a great time while inside of it, we must also remember that any “great time” held at the detriment of our health and sobriety isn’t really worth it. I hope this helps someone out there make some necessary adjustment. Hopefully, I can now take out some time to make sure that my health stays in form.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

A traveler’s notepad II – Part 2

Dear readers,

Welcome to a new week of exciting blogs! I hope you all had an amazing weekend. Last week I shared the first part of this blog, and in case you missed it, please check it out here. I must say I am grateful for the response it got. Today I’ll try to conclude by sharing the remaining part of the journey and my reflections as well. Sit back and let’s cruise again.

So I made it through the fog zone and made a few gas stops ( four to be precise). My partner and I came up with a refueling strategy; whenever we hit half tank we would take the next gas exit to refill. This way we tried to save ourselves the trouble of being on “E(mpty)” and not having a gas station close by. The high way had a good number of gas exits at pretty good intervals still we had a plan and we stuck with it. The scenario played to our advantage however if it was otherwise we would have still been fine. After about 5hours and 45mins of driving it was time to switch places. She had gotten some rest and we had made a few stops, gotten something to drink in between, bathroom breaks, stretches etc.

Reflection: No matter how equipped we may be for an endeavor be it material or spiritual, we have to learn how to pause, reflect, and then proceed. Nowadays even corporate organizations are telling high-level managers to take meditation classes to help them deal with stress. Likewise just as we had to refill the tank with gas, our body also needed to refill with stretches, water and bathroom breaks. The same thing applies to other endeavors, especially spirituality. If we get “lost” in the routine we may become mechanical and the beauty of spirituality is the spontaneity and bliss therein. 

When she got behind the wheels, I felt relieved that I had been able to do my part of the task we had set out to do. I took the time to do my mantra meditation as I wasn’t able to do so while driving and also to eat. (I find it hard to eat and drive and I get sleepy on a full stomach). She is good with speed so I knew she would do good on the time, I tried my best to help her stay up by having conversations deep enough to keep the brain active but not too engrossing to distract her attention. We played lots of music in between and that helped too. This is where it gets interesting. Two hours to our destination we noticed there were only three cars on the road; us and two others. The air was different, the land was green, there were lots of cows grazing as we drove by, we felt this sudden drop in tension and you can say some sort of zen or Shanti(peace). We knew we were far away from the city we live in.

Living in a fast-paced city and one of the highest consumer cities in the states, you don’t know what happens inside your body, mind, and soul until you step out into a more relaxed environment and you suddenly see that the fast pace and traffic jams are killing us in a slow-motion manner.

Reflection: Modern society has come a long way especially with science and technology, however in an attempt to move forward quickly into the “space age or era” it has dropped off many things which could help us when we get there. Fast food, fast cars, fast relationships, fast everything and we wonder why we are dying fast too. Take a look at the longest living animals on this planet, the Tortoise for example that can live up to 120 years, it is one of the slowest moving animals (0.30mph). A horse moves way faster than a tortoise at 55mph (running) but lives 25-30 years. We can always take a note from nature. This is not to say we should literally become sluggish however if we slow our “fast life society down” just a bit, maybe we might see many things that slip by us. 

We spent the last hour of the drive just comparing our home state with where we were as she drove. We began to see how much stress we were under and not even aware of it, the cool breeze blowing from the windows and sunroof of the car seems to ease away the stress of having driven so long. We got to our destination and we were happy to bond with family and friends. We spent the next few days, soaking in as much peace, love, clean air, good food, positive association and nature as we could. Our return trip commenced at the same time 5am, same preparations (enough sleep the night before etc). This time I actually felt well rested before we set out and I took the first leg as usual. At this point, I think it is safe to draw a correlation between my lack of proper rest on our initial trip, to stress hidden in my body and with two to three days of a change in the environment I could rest better.

Reflection: Recently I was watching a video on Instagram by a famous actress and she said I paraphrase ” if you sit in sh*t for too long, you won’t notice the smell anymore”. Similarly, some of us are so “used to stress” that we have adjusted and it seems fine until we actually take a break. This principle holds the same weight for most things in life too; be it a toxic relationship, bad business, unfulfilling job, etc. If you sit in it too long, you won’t notice how detrimental it is to you anymore. So take a leap of faith and JUMP.

On our return trip, I did half the drive and she did the other half. In fact, about three hours out of state we were already stuck in traffic and our ETA gained an additional 40 minutes. We both looked at each other and it all just made sense. The glaring difference when we were two hours to our destination were we felt peace and tranquility and now three hours away from home and we could see the stress build up. The traffic was so bad on the highway that one of the commercial truck drivers, actually parked and came out took a walk down, got back into his truck and we were all still at a standpoint. At this point, I said to her “the irony is we should be happy that we are returning home but the stress is so much that we can’t even feel that sentiment”. We both laughed at the absurdity of what was happening.  The remaining part of our return trip was an eye-opener to the level of stress we were subjected to, just by living where we are now and the beauty of the getaway we just had kept replaying in our minds.

We both agreed we had to do something about it.

Reflection: At the end of the day, we all are responsible for our happiness, and peace of mind. We make choices daily that either promote these or jeopardize them. Let us begin to choose wisely. In the same vein, this material world is a place of birth, disease, old age death, and our original home is with the Supreme Being (or God, for those who follow a particular faith). The goal is to be in a place where we are not limited by time, place, circumstance or our own bodies and the bliss is unlimited. 

For those of you who tuned in to read the conclusion of our trip and reflections, I am most grateful. Your continuous support means a lot to me. The dream is to be able to share more blogs and reflections like this to many more people on a larger scale and reach more people. I know deep down that there are many people who need to connect on a deeper level and I will be more than glad to help facilitate that. Feel free to leave your comments about this blog and share your realizations too.

I really look forward to sharing more with you next week. Till then do read, share and follow for more. If you are worried about missing my publications, then please subscribe to my blog so that you get a notification whenever I publish a post.

 

A Traveller’s notepad II – part 1

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all again today yet another interesting blog. First and foremost I’ll like to apologize for sending in my blog late today, I had a long weekend; tiring but very fulfilling. My partner and I took a long 11-hour drive to go celebrate my spiritual mentor’s birthday. During this long trip, we both did half the drive both ways and as usual, I tried to do some reflection when I was behind the wheels.

I must say I got back barely 3 hours ago, my body is still sore and fatigue is definitely wearing me down, however, I feel I do owe all my readers the responsibility of sending in a blog every week, besides I really want to share how my trip was. In the past I had also shared a travel experience with my realization, please do check it out.

That been said let us delve into my reflections. On our trip out of town, the night before we had done most of our packing and we tried as much as possible to get some good night rest. I must say I woke up feeling as if I wasn’t properly rested but I knew I would have to figure out how to make my body work. We packed all our stuff in the car and we set out, I had volunteered to start the trip for two reasons; I am a morning person so I knew I was at my peek in the morning no matter what and second so that she could get some more rest as I drove, pending when she had to take over. The first 30 minutes was somewhat scattered; we had to get gas, get to the ATM, and it was raining. I got a little cranky but as soon as I got on the high way, things began to settle in. At first, I couldn’t see because it was barely twilight, and the rain wasn’t helping either.

In the first two hours, I was battling sleep. I know at this point some of you might be like “if you felt so tired why drive at all?” I must say I do understand the importance of getting a good night rest before setting out on a long distance journey (and to be fair to myself I did get some sleep, but my body wasn’t rested for some reason). Hence, the sleep was more of a mental thing than an actual need to sleep. I had a gallon of grape juice; sour and cold. Exactly what I needed to keep myself awake. ( I don’t take coffee due to its caffeine content, which is what most people use to stay awake for long drives). Strategically positioning it on the armrest, I took intermittent sips whenever I felt my eyes failing me. This game went on for about an hour or two. After a while, I noticed it wasn’t as efficient as it was when I first started drinking, plus my bowels were full and I needed to stop for a bathroom break. At that moment, out of spontaneity, I sprayed some citrus on my face in the hope that it would keep me up. Lo and behold! it worked.

Reflection: Sometimes in life when we want to undertake an endeavor that is important be it material or spiritual, we may feel like we are not fully equipped. Just as I felt when I woke up even after sleeping the entire night. Nonetheless, we must forge ahead regardless, because as long as there is will, there is always a way. The rain, and stops to fill up our gas tank, the poor visibility, and cranky mood are all like the setback and hurdles we are bound to face in that endeavor. They will surely show up. The sour grape juice that helped me stay awake due to the fact that it was cold and had citrus, is a good example of having a contingency plan for setbacks. These plans should be set up in such a way that they take into consideration the situation and our weakness. 

My weakness at the time was overcoming sleep and the situation at hand required a solution that could help. It is also worthy to note that whenever we set out to do something worthwhile there will be a thousand and one reasons why we shouldn’t do it. However, our “why” must be greater than the situation, if not we won’t be able to forge ahead. We all have to find out what our “why” (reason) is, and then use that as a catalyst in trying times. 

Three hours into the trip I found my self-driving through South Carolina and the fog made visibility almost impossible. the speed limit on the high way was 30mph and most drivers had the caution lights on. I was flabbergasted. How could such a warm state have this much fog? Anyways that was not my problem now, I had to go through it. After about 30 minutes of impaired visibility and driving really slow, we came out of the fog zone and things looked bright again. I picked up some speed and tried to cover for the time lost. Four hours in and I began to tell myself I guess I can make it after all. I only had to put in another hour and 45 minutes before handing over to my partner.

During this fog zone, some things came in handy. I wanted to turn on my headlight but my partner spoke to the contrary, stating that it made visibility worse as it caused glares. I took heed of her advice and turned on the caution signal and drove slowly.

Reflection: In our various quests especially a spiritual quest there will come a time when we may lack a sense of direction as things become “foggy”. It may be fogginess caused by lack of clarity of scriptures, or lack of proper understanding of practices, or a drop in faith etc. We can survive if we take shelter of someone who knows the way; usually a spiritual mentor. The spiritual mentor can show us the way because he has seen the truth and he opens our darken eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. The caution lights to me were the words of advice or “caution” we get from a spiritual mentor who shows us how to navigate our foggy path. 

I have broken this journey into two parts (hopefully) so that it is not too lengthy. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more. Watch out for the continuation. If you are worried about missing it, then please subscribe to my blog so that you get a notification whenever I publish a post.

JUMP!

Dear readers,

It’s a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog this week. I hope you all had an exciting weekend. We are in another week in the month of March and time is ticking! I do not wish to sound like a nagging friend however as I mentioned before, this is more of a reminder for me than it is for my readers. I feel like in order to achieve our goals we need to create a sense of urgency to it. It is now or never. This idea ushers in my line of thoughts for this week.

I once saw a video of popular comedian Steve Harvey, where he had a brief session during an interlude of his TV show, he shares some very inspirational words with his audience. I can only paraphrase his words as I cannot remember verbatim all that he said. Basically, he made an allegory of life as a cliff, that we all are standing by the edge with parachutes on our backs. Now we don’t know if the parachutes work or not and the only way to find out is to JUMP off the cliff. Now many people are scared of jumping because there are many “ifs and buts”. What if I fall? what if the parachute doesn’t open? what if I die? what if I am not even brave enough to make the jump etc? These conversations are what we have going on in our minds and we fail to take necessary actions. I have a blog on internal dialogues where I speak a little more on this subject matter, so I’ll advise my readers to kindly refer to it.

One major factor that inhibits people from jumping off the cliff in the allegory given by Steve Harvey is Fear. Fear is basically ignorance of the unknown. The only way to combat ignorance is by acquiring knowledge. Knowledge helps us to see things as they really are and not as we think or feel they are or should be. By taking the time to get the right type of knowledge we see that we are more equipped to take the jump. Now the beautiful thing about this allegory is that we can apply it to almost any area of our lives. Be it losing weight, going to college, starting a business, getting into a new relationship etc. We need to get the right knowledge and then make the move. The Parachute on our backs are the benefits we get from taking the jump, the rocks at the bottom of the cliff are the setbacks and failures that could occur if we fail at the endeavor.  So what happens is, usually we allow the fear of crashlanding to overcome the beauty of the scenery we get to see when our parachute opens.

We bask so much in that fear of “what if I fall” that we never give ourselves the time to think of “what if I succeed?”. This is where we need to put the work in. First and foremost we need to ask ourselves, what is the best thing that could happen if we succeed? What is the worse thing that could happen if we fail? Do an unbiased assessment of both sides and then get the knowledge required to minimize the failure and also maximize the chances of success. This is the logical and rational thing to do. Now I hear some of you say “what if after doing all my research I am still afraid, then what?” Steve’s speech or talk was more for these type of people. When you have done your research and have your facts in order and yet still feel unsure about the jump, just jump! The only way to see if that parachute will open is to jump and as Steve mentioned often time than not it will.

I have seen this a good number of times in my own life and to be honest it is very scary at first. The mind has a way of telling us so many “stories” that are most times generated from our daily internal dialogue. Also, the idea of jumping goes against two very important factors for most people; “safety and comfort”. No one wants to leave the known for the unknown, no one wants to be in a situation where they have to trust their guts and work to make things happen. Most people get very comfortable with the “known” so much so that they will do anything to stick with it even if it means long term discomfort. There are many examples that come to mind when I think about the word “Jump”, the connotative and denotative means both refer to one thing at least; that we should take a step forward. The step forward isn’t always a straight step, just like in the cliff top allegory. The step could mean a temporary “drop”, however as soon as our parachutes open, the rise is endless.

I remember some years ago when I wanted to make an intercontinental trip and at the time many of my colleagues whom I had graduated with were pursuing practically the same endeavor right after graduation. Deep down inside I knew I wanted to do something different but the “fear” of the unknown kept ringing in my head. I spoke with a friend and asked him what he thought and his answer struck me. He said, “you know what to do deep inside of you, however, you are listening to all the voices in your head and not doing it”. I got my answer. Was it an easy trip? Not really! I ran into quite a good number of oppositions and people telling me it was just crazy, but my guts told me I had to. I stuck with it even when it became harder and told myself each day that there was no turning back. I had to get a lot of information about the country I was planning to visit, flights, accommodation, visas, etc. Trust me, there were days I asked myself “am I doing the right thing?”, “should I stop and return to my comfort zone now?” It was tough and trying, however, with the right mental power you can win and overcome such moments.

It was daunting yet there was no better reward than being air-borne during the flight and saying the two months of hard work I had put in paid off. The truth about “jumping” is that you have to believe in yourself and in whatever you want to do even if no one does. You have to be your own source of encouragement and you have to tell yourself every day that no matter what happens you will keep forging ahead and never make a U-turn. I hope that this piece inspires anyone reading it to take that JUMP of faith. Now in a summary, I must add that with prayers and faith in God (for my readers who at least believe in some sort of Divinity), we will never crash. The God factor always comes in to rescue us, but we have to believe in Him.  I haven’t gone into all the details of my experience of JUMP, but I can tell you one thing for sure, often times it wasn’t solely by my hard work or effort, it was pure GRACE.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Order in chaos!

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another exciting blog today, especially as it is also a new month. We are in the third month of this New Year and just like yesterday, I can vividly remember how we were all excited about how we were starting another Year. Like I mentioned in my blogs earlier this year, every passing day is another day closer to the end of the year. We have already done about 63 days in 365 days, and before you realize, its 100 days. This “countdown” is more of a subtle reminder for me to focus on the things I need to do than it is a nudge at my readers to do same. Definitely, I try my best to motivate people through my blogs and write-ups to give them a sense of direction in what they do, however, my blogs are also my way of speaking to myself.

Sometimes in sharing wisdom with people, you get to share it with yourself. Sometimes preaching to the choir isn’t such a bad idea (the “choir” in this scenario is me), because by doing so, I get to motivate myself to do things I really need to do. A few days back I was speaking with an acquaintance and we were sharing certain thoughts on time and managing it. I had expressed that proper time management to me will be “doing something that is productive, satisfying and fulfilling.” I didn’t even have to ponder a lot and those words sort of blurted out of my mouth. So he asked me to explain what I meant by “productive, satisfying and fulfilling.” It was at that point that I took a minute to reflect on what they meant to me. Then I answered saying that; productive to me was something that added value to others and also gave you a financial support system to the point where you could live off it. I also said satisfying to me will mean being so happy engaging in that activity that I couldn’t wait to get back at it the next day. Finally fulfilling to me was an activity that I knew made a change in the lives of others and gave me peace of mind.

At that moment, these words got us thinking. There is no doubt they had more effect on me after I had gone back home. To be honest, the discussion we had was like a sneak peek into some sort of chaos I was trying to solve. We live in a world that can be chaotic at times, especially if you live in a big city. You have to constantly try to find your balance or center yourself otherwise you just lose it. Inside this “chaos” one has to have a voice that is heard, and everyone is trying to be “heard”, so imagine what this does to the already chaotic situation we have. It is intense and I must say having a regulated spiritual life has helped me remain centered, of this, there is no doubt. Nonetheless, it is still easy to get drowned in the cacophony of voices that are trying to be heard in society. So in the midst of this “chaos” how can we instill order? We cannot instill order throughout the world; because the power to do such a thing isn’t present in just one Man. We can, however, influence people and they can pass on the influence we have had on them.

Mother Theresa, Michael Jackson, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others have shown us how we can strive to make our voices heard in all the noise around us. Pondering on all this, I have been asking myself “what can I do to add value to people’s lives and impact change?” I presented the same question to my acquaintance and he said ” invent something”, we both laughed and I said ” it doesn’t have to be something nouvelle; it just has to solve people’s problems, that’s all. As simple as that sounds, trust me it requires some thinking to be able to come up with a good solution. One may wonder what has creating something or a service that solves people’s problem got to do with chaos. Well, quick example; Facebook! ( I am not saying I also want to make an app or social media, it was the first example that came to mind). It has been reported that 1billion people use Facebook, that is one-seventh of the entire world population. The founder has created a service that has helped people, it has brought some order in the chaos of trying to keep in touch with many people, and definitely, his voice has been heard despite the “chaos”.

I know not everyone is going to be a CEO, or a big social media creator, however, we all can influence the world in our own little way. In a world where there is so much ado about form and less substance, it can be very daunting to try to change the status quo on many things. It is those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world who actually do… nice quote from Rob Siltanen, unfortunately, today we have lots of “crazy people” who are actually bringing about change, and trust me the change they bring is not really sustainable. I guess that’s the riddle we all have to solve to restore order in the chaos. We have to ask ourselves “what kind of change do we want?’ Is it positive, replicable, sustainable and does it bring order to the existing chaos? If we can answer yes to all then we may proceed to give that change a voice amidst the existing cacophony.

I am just one Man trying to make sense of all that is going on, and trying my best to bring about positive change to others. I know that with time I can create a better platform to serve people better until then I humbly crave your indulgence. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

Skill, Talent, or Effort!

Hello readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog this week. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend (I guess it might be difficult if your state has intense winters lol, anyways hang in there. Sunny days are ahead.) There are a few thoughts I feel I should share from the book I am currently reading (Mindset – Carol S. Ph.D.) and even though I am not done yet there is a lot that I have assimilated so far. I guess as I read on I’ll make new discoveries and try to update whatever I am reading now, nonetheless, there is a basic understanding that comes across pretty clear.

There may have been times when we look at ourselves and wish we were some child prodigy who can speak 9 languages, play the piano, solve high-level Mathematics or excel incredibly at some sport. Whenever we see these we all say “they are talented”, and it is more like second nature for them. A couple of weeks back I was reading “How children succeed”, an interesting book that walks us through the psychology of kids and what makes them fail or succeed. In that book, the author speaks of a Lady who is well known for taking kids who were “troubled”, lacked concentration etc, and turning them into Chess champions. For those of you who know about the game of chess, it is one that requires a lot of brain work, concentration, intelligence, and calm. So how did she transform kids who could barely focus in class to national chess champions?

This is where the debate of talent versus effort comes into play? There is no doubt some kids are born with some exceptional abilities, however, this group of people represents a very insignificant percentage of the total population of people on this planet. That been said, the large majority of people who make headway in any endeavor and succeed greatly at it, do so at the price of serious training and commitment; effort. The likes of Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and many others became world-renowned sportsmen after many years of practice and dedication to their craft. In the words of a famous Irish UFC fighter Conor Mcgregor; “this is not about talent but serious hard work…..(I’m paraphrasing). We may be endowed with some exceptional ability and feel we should just rest on our oars and some miracle will automatically happen.

On the other hand, there are those who feel that just because there is some talent then one doesn’t have to submit oneself to the rigor of discipline and effort. This is a big mistake. When we take a look at the lives of great “talented” people like Mozart, we can see that he wasn’t born that way, he got there by long hours of practice. It is said that Mozart practiced so much his hands got deformed. In an interview, Michael Jackson mentioned how his childhood was filled with long hours of rehearsals and practice so much so that he couldn’t remember “playing” or having holidays. Now I do not in any way say that kids should be abused or deprived of their childhood just because we want to transform them into prodigies, however, one thing is certain; in order to achieve a high level of performance in an activity there is no way one can subtract long intense hours of “effort”.

There is a saying that to master anything one has to commit at least 10,000 hours to it, that is about 13.6 months if you do that activity for 24 hours every day. So we can see that to find anyone who gives 24 hours to an activity now is almost impossible, basically because even if you did nothing else, bodily needs like eating and sleeping will steal some hours from that time. Hence one has to do more in order to make up for that time. In other words, practice makes perfect and practice definitely requires a lot of effort. To become an authority in a given field, we have to give it our time and then it becomes our experience. Another interesting observation about putting effort as opposed to depending on talent is that they both create different mindsets in people. When people feel like they succeed because they have some talent usually they fall into the fixed mindset of thinking. People in the fixed mindset are not open to growth and as such, they feel effort has little or no consequence in their activities,

On the other hand, people who put in effort in order to succeed have a growth mindset and believe that with the right amount of training, there is nothing they cannot do. They also know that their level of success in an endeavor is commensurate to the level of effort they put in. These two mindsets are a distinguishing factor when it comes to the subject of talent vs effort. Those with the growth mindset naturally succeed in their endeavors because they are constantly trying to improve themselves and as such, they excel in whatever field they are in. They do not have to strive specifically for success. Those with the fixed mindset measure their activities by how much success it brings them and as such, they are more outcome oriented. They believe that to be considered important then one has to succeed and if one doesn’t succeed then he is nothing. Thus there is a direct correlation between their self-esteem and each endeavor.

If there is a chance of failing, those with the fixed mindset won’t do it, because they fear failure, whereas those with the growth mindset see failure as an opportunity to learn and better themselves. Similarly, as spiritual practitioners, we may find ourselves in one of these two categories. Some of us may be of a fixed mindset when it comes to applying ourselves to a regulated devotional practice, while some may be more of a growth mindset. The problem with those who harbor the fixed mindset in spiritual activities is that they always think they know and when they are faced with a real test, they are usually found wanting. Mindset, skill, and talent are so intricately woven that one affects the other even without us knowing.

I hope that this helps us get a better understanding of how to better harness our talents and how to put in the required effort all with a growth mindset. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

 

Spiritual Credits!

Hello readers,

Happy President’s Day to you all, I hope you all are taking advantage of this holiday to get ready for the week. I know some people still have to work today, however, if you happen to be among the lucky ones who get a day off work then I guess we can discuss something interesting today.

For those who live in the US, the word credit is something we are all familiar with. As a society that is emphasizing less cash, people are encouraged to “build credit”; basically it means to build credibility, or to prove that you are efficient with paying off debts. When you manage a credit card properly you get points from credit bureaus that ascertain how well you manage the cards and your debts. In order to maintain or even have a great credit score, one has to make sure he has a low revolving utilization on his credit cards, pays off debts on time, and makes payments when due. This is a process that one has to go through if one wants to build good credit. Now one may ask why go through all this? Well, there are certain advantages that come with having a good credit score and one is the ability to make purchases that may be difficult to make without cash.

Lenders will feel a lot more comfortable giving you a loan to make a big purchase like a house if they see that you have a proven record of paying debts on time. In our spiritual lives there is also a similar scenario, however, these credits work a little different. While we are here in this world, we engage in many activities. Some are good and some are not so good. When we engage in good deeds we amass pious credits for ourselves and these credits are saved up in our spiritual “credit accounts”. The more pious deed we engage in the more we build our pious credits and the more impious deeds we engage in the more impious credits we engage in. So why does this matter? When we leave this present body at the time of Death, we carry over our pious and impious credits to our next life. Our present life is based on a cumulative of our past lives pious and impious activities. This is where a solid understanding of reincarnation comes in. Even though many people try to negate the credibility of reincarnation, the proof is so evident that ignoring it, is like the ostrich burying its head in sand to avoid a harsh reality.

Spiritual credit is just as important as material credit (if not more important even) because after all said and done, the only thing we are left with at the time of death is the sum total of our activities here in this life. None of our material possessions go with us and often times, they are enjoyed by people who have no clue how much we suffered to amass them. So how does spiritual credit work really? First of all, there are various planetary systems ( higher, middle and lower), Earth is situated in the middle planetary system. The heavenly planets are in the higher planetary system and the hellish planets are in the lower planetary system. Impious deeds result in impious credits that can degrade us to hellish conditions of life (or planets) in another life, while pious deeds can promote us to heavenly planets. Just as one requires a high credit score to purchase a house with a minimum down payment, similarly one requires a high amount of pious deeds to enjoy in certain heavenly planets. The higher the heavenly plane one aspires to go to after death, the higher the pious deeds one may need.

Another way to see this is like a fancy vacation in a five-star hotel on a beautiful island. One can stay in that hotel for as long as one pays for, and the moment one has used up the number of nights paid for, one is asked to leave. Then you go back home, work some more, save up some more and then you decide if you want to visit there again or not. Likewise, when a citizen violates the law of the state, he may be arrested and sentenced to a jail term commensurate to the degree of the infringement committed. When the term is over, he is released back into society. So in our everyday life, we can see a mirror reflection of how the spiritual world works even though it may be represented as a microcosm. Building spiritual credit is simple, as mentioned earlier one just has to perform pious activities. These may include charity, philanthropy, humanitarianism etc. However, the highest form of pious activity one can perform is to engage in the service of God.

Serving God is compared to watering the roots of a plant and automatically the entire tree is nourished. It is also worthy to note that the pious credit that we amass from rendering service to God never depletes, this is because on the path of self-realization and rendering service to God, there is no loss or diminution and a little effort on this path can save one from the greatest type of fear. We spend a lot of time trying to build our material credit but spend very little to no time trying to build our spiritual credit. There are many agencies who claim to be able to fix or repair your material credit score however very few can boast of doing the same to our spiritual credit scores. Human life is meant for inquiries about the self and if we fail to make those inquiries then we are wasting a very valuable gift.

Money, fame, power, prestige and all the fine things of life are great and one can aspire to have them, as long as they serve as a tool to help one serve God better and not for our personal aggrandizement. We should endeavor to build our spiritual credit every day just as we try to build our material credit scores. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

The season of Love

Hello readers!

I hope you all are having a great time, it is always a pleasure to be able to share a new topic every week. I must confess that sometimes even though it may seem as if I have an arsenal of topics just waiting to be written, this is not always true as there are days when I have to dig deep inside me to find something to write about. Some call it writer’s block and yes it is a thing however when I experience this I feel I need to read some more. In other to be able to share from a space of experience, one has to make time to experience such matters.

In about 3 days from now, many of us will be celebrating the famous St. Valentines day. Interestingly this is a day that is celebrated in almost every continent ( at least from my travel experience). It may not be a public holiday or anything but be sure that there will be sales and the general mood is “do something for someone special”. I have written a couple of blogs on Love and you can check them out. Love is one topic that is so powerful and deep that we may never be able to fully grasp its essence in this life and in our human form. For different people, love means different things and the beauty of it is that these things “change” as we evolve in our consciousness and maturity. This period of Valentine is one that many people take the time to show how much they care about people they love. Of course, we may have heard it a good number of times that we shouldn’t wait until it’s Valentine’s day to show love to other people.

Love should be our lifestyle, our speech, our culture, and our religion and then we won’t have to take a day out of 365 days to show how much we love others. How about we express love to others every day and not just one day in a year.  In our own way, we may say we do and to be honest we all express love differently. I have a couple of things that are still puzzling to me and one of them is trying to understand in essence what love really is. Over the years I have done things that felt at the time to be out of love and then years later after reflecting on the entire situation, I ask myself ” was it truly love?” Not from a space of regret or sadness but more from a space of growth. This brings to mind the famous love story of Romeo and Juliet, two lovers from rival families. The Capulets and Montagues didn’t see eye to eye and it was not until the death of their kids did they realize that their animosity was useless. Now as romantic as it may seem, taking ones life isn’t really the best way to prove one’s love to another.

I know many of you may beg to differ and even say that Lord Jesus “died” for the sins of the world and thus dying for someone is the ultimate way to profess love. Well, if we want to be analytical, we have to remember that he was betrayed, exchanged with a criminal, and those who were around him wanted him dead. His mission was to preach the message of God to people, who unfortunately at the time were not receptive and ready for such philosophical discussions about a higher being. His love was shown in how he dealt with the sick, the hungry, the afflicted and those who were rejected by society. Had he not being crucified, one can imagine how much more he would have done. Anyways, the idea is not to make this another religious post but to give us a minute to reflect on what love really means to us.

To some it may mean taking care of our family members (children, spouse, parents), to some, it may mean expressing the erotic part with our partners, to some it means helping those in need, to some, it means being actively involved in community activities, and to others being spiritual or cultivating love of Godhead. We cannot truly cultivate the love of God if we do not love our neighbors. To love the infinite we have to learn how to love the finite selflessly and then we can hope to may someday understand the deeper meaning of love. Love is one feeling that we would forever have to encounter in one form or another and there is no avoiding it as such. Not everyone will express it romantically as society portrays love however even if one is a life long celibate, love of a higher being is the essence of the most disciplined spiritual practices.

Today love has become a business and it is sold and bought, it has become something we can fall into and fall out of as long as it is convenient. Has this new model of love helped us? Well, I guess the answer is evident and there is no need stating the obvious. Recently, I saw a post on social media where someone had mentioned and I paraphrase as I can’t remember verbatim; ” If people were truly as religious as they said they were, there would be no homeless people around or people starving…” The idea is that practically every religion talks about loving your neighbors as yourself, however, we see that that isn’t always the case. People have billions sitting in the banks, while there are many people who can’t even boast of one meal a day. Is this sort of over-accumulation accepted or praised in any religion today? I guess not. So we see that we can’t truly speak of loving our neighbors and being god-like when we won’t try to lend out a hand to those who need help.

I hope we all take some time to really ask ourselves what love truly is and how we can contribute to making this planet a more loving one. Till next week, please do share, read and follow for more.