How I Interned with the best selling author Ryan Holiday

I hadn’t checked out Tattered Cover’s website in literally months when an intuitive thought came to me to check out their website. So I did, and saw that Ryan Holiday was coming for a book signing 2 days from the day I checked the site!!

He was scheduled to do a talk and signing from 7-8pm, the only problem was that I worked until 8pm…

Anyway, I took time to draft up a genuine letter from my heart to give to him if I was able to meet him. I got done with work at 8:00pm on the dot that day, which is normal, and I rushed to my car to drive to the Tattered Cover bookstore. I got there in about 10 minutes and literally ran from my car to the bookstore – since it was downtown I had to park a few blocks away.

After getting into the bookstore I asked a worker if Ryan was still there and they told me yes and pointed to where he was. I excitedly but calmly walked closer to him and got in line to meet him. I had my letter with me and I also picked up one of his books to buy-Ego Is the Enemy, which I highly recommend!

I asked some people in line about the talk Ryan had given for the past hour before meeting him. They didn’t tell me much but I was still excited that I was about to meet him. A few minutes later I was at the front of the line. I gave him my letter, we spoke of the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, he signed my book and we took a picture together. It was surreal in the moment but the moment got even more surreal a few weeks later…

Ken Thompson Ryan Holiday

He read the letter I gave him and emailed me a few weeks after the book signing telling me his company was hiring interns. I had a few tasks to complete for him to see if they wanted to hire me for sure so I did those, which were writing assignments, and he ended up hiring me.

I worked under him for months in which in which I researched and wrote a lottttttt, a lot a lot a lot!!! Haha. I am happy for the challenges he gave me, which I completed, because it has made me a better writer and researcher, but I still have a lot to learn.

We wrote and edited in google docs together and it felt pretty awesome to know that I’m working with Ryan Holiday. I put in my best effort and I think he could see that by the amount of things I completed in the time we worked together. 

Anyway, it was an incredible experience working with Ryan and one of the main messages I am giving you is that a single letter can change your entire life.

Go to the book signing.
Write the letter.
Pursue your dreams.
And work hard when opportunity arises.

30 Essential Messages from Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”


“Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique.”

 

And yes. They wrote a little different in the 1800’s. Many of these quotes I had to read multiple times to truly comprehend.

“Self-Reliance” is a soul touching essay. I continually felt profound connections as I engulfed myself in this essay.

After being so touched by this work I felt the need to share its most essential messages with you.

A few of the many words I would describe this text are: Insightful. Life-Changing. Thought-Provoking. Soul Touching. Truly. Incredible.

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Before diving into all 30 Essential Messages, here is a brief overview of some of the things you will be hearing:

 

9 Overviewing Ideas

(1)-Seeking & Becoming more of your True Self

I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or youIf you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions…”

Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse.”

 

(2)-Following paths that brings you joy in life, trusting it & continuing regardless of numerous failures

“…A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls… 

…He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not `studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances…”

 

(3)-Experiencing Genuine Peace, which does not come from anything outside of you, but begins within

A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it… 

…Nothing can bring you peace but yourself…”

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(4)-Recognizing the facade of societal ways

“…It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it…”

“…This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars.Their every truth is not quite true…”

 

(5)-The people in power hate nonconformity & encourage the general population to oppose those people

“For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

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(6)-Understanding the connectedness & importance of everything; that all things are of equal importance

…Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fulness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being?”

 

(7)-Wherever you go there you are

The soul is no traveller; the wise man stays at home, and when his necessities, his duties, on any occasion call him from his house, or into foreign lands, he is at home still.”

 

(8)-Truth>All

“Henceforward I am the truth’s. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law…

if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.– But so you may give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility…”

coacht.blog Emerson quotes

 

(9)-Life(Your Ego) is Fleeting

This one fact the world hates, that the soul becomes; for that for ever degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to a shame, confounds the saint with the rogue, shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside.”

 

 

30 Essential Messages

The following 30 messages are all significant but I highlighted the elemental concepts in Blue and Bolded succeeding elements. Each message holds high value but I also ordered them beginning with what I believe to be the most moving.

 

#1

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think

…This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness…

…It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it… 

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

 

#2

“Phocion, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Diogenes, are great men, but they leave no class. He who is really of their class will not be called by their name, but will be his own man, and, in his turn, the founder of a sect.”

 

#3

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A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it…

…Nothing can bring you peace but yourself…. 

…Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

 

#4

Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion… 

…This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars.Their every truth is not quite true… 

…Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right.”

 

#5

“But do your work, and I shall know you. Do you work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what a blindman’s-buff is this game of conformity”

 

#6

At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door, and say,–‘Come out unto us.’ But keep thy state; come not into their confusion… 

…The power men possess to annoy me, I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act. What we love that we have, but by desire we bereave ourselves of the love.”

 

#7

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And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust himself for a taskmaster. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight, that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself, that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others!”

 

#8

Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage… 

…He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them.There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike…

…But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future… 

…He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”

 

#9

“The soul raised over passion beholds identity and eternal causation, perceives the self-existence of Truth and Right, and calms itself with knowing that all things go well.

 

#10

If we live truly, we shall see truly. It is as easy for the strong man to be strong, as it is for the weak to be weak… 

…When we have new perception, we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded treasures as old rubbish… 

…When a man lives with God, his voice shall be as sweet as the murmur of the brook and the rustle of the corn.”

 

#11

“For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face.”

This youtube talk, titled Don’t Take Life Too Seriously, by Alan Watts reminded me of the quote above.

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#12

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day…

…—‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

 

#13

“I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency…

…That a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the centre of things. Where he is, there is nature. He measures you, and all men, and all events…

…The man must be so much, that he must make all circumstances indifferent. Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design;–and posterity seem to follow his steps as a train of clients.

 

#14

We pass for what we are. Character teaches above our wills…

…Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment.”

 

#15

“Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already done singly will justify you now.”

 

#16

Insist on yourself; never imitate… 

…Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession… 

…That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him…
 

…No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it…

*Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique.*

The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow…

…Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare… 

…Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. There is at this moment for you an utterance brave and grand as that of the colossal chisel of Phidias, or trowel of the Egyptians, or the pen of Moses, or Dante, but different from all these. Not possibly will the soul all rich, all eloquent, with thousand-cloven tongue, deign to repeat itself; but if you can hear what these patriarchs say, surely you can reply to them in the same pitch of voice; for the ear and the tongue are two organs of one nature. Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart, and thou shalt reproduce the Foreworld again.”

coacht.blog Shakespeare quote Emerson

#17

Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse.”

 

#18

“And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. 

Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long, that they have come to esteem the religious, learned, and civil institutions as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. 

…They measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is… 

…But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, out of new respect for his nature Especially he hates what he has, if he see that it is accidental, — came to him by inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him, has no root in him, and merely lies there, because no revolution or no robber takes it away.”

 

#19

“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life… 

…A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls… 

…He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not `studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances…

…Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him,–and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor, and make his name dear to all history.”

 

#20

“Another sort of false prayers are our regrets. Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will. Regret calamities, if you can thereby help the sufferer; if not, attend your own work, and already the evil begins to be repaired. Our sympathy is just as base. We come to them who weep foolishly, and sit down and cry for company, instead of imparting to them truth and health in rough electric shocks, putting them once more in communication with their own reason

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide: him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our love goes out to him and embraces him, because he did not need it. We solicitously and apologetically caress and celebrate him, because he held on his way and scorned our disapprobation. The gods love him because men hated him. “To the persevering mortal,” said Zoroaster, “the blessed Immortals are swift.”

 

#21

“Henceforward I am the truth’s. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be the chaste husband of one wife,–but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs… 

…I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions… 

…I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly…

…It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.– But so you may give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility… 

Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me, and do the same thing.”

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#22

“The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust. Who is the Trustee?

…What is the aboriginal Self on which a universal reliance may be grounded? What is the nature and power of that science-baffling star, without parallax, without calculable elements, which shoots a ray of beauty even into trivial and impure actions, if the least mark of independence appear? 

…The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct.We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin

…For, the sense of being which in calm hours rises, we know not how, in the soul, is not diverse from things, from space, from light, from time, from man, but one with them, and proceeds obviously from the same source whence their life and being also proceed…

We first share the life by which things exist, and afterwards see them as appearances in nature, and forget that we have shared their cause. Here is the fountain of action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which cannot be denied without impiety and atheism…

…We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams. If we ask whence this comes, if we seek to pry into the soul that causes, all philosophy is at fault. Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm. Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed. My wilful actions and acquisitions are but roving;–the idlest reverie, the faintest native emotion, command my curiosity and respect…

…Thoughtless people contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily; for, they do not distinguish between perception and notion…

They fancy that I choose to see this or that thing. But perception is not whimsical, but fatal. If I see a trait, my children will see it after me, and in course of time, all mankind,–although it may chance that no one has seen it before me. For my perception of it is as much a fact as the sun.”

 

#23

“But the rage of travelling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home… 

We imitate; and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind? 

Our houses are built with foreign taste; our shelves are garnished with foreign ornaments; our opinions, our tastes, our faculties, lean, and follow the Past and the Distant. The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished…

…It was in his own mind that the artist sought his model. It was an application of his own thought to the thing to be done and the conditions to be observed. And why need we copy the Doric or the Gothic model? Beauty, convenience, grandeur of thought, and quaint expression are as near to us as to any, and if the American artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by him, considering the climate, the soil, the length of the day, the wants of the people, the habit and form of the government, he will create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted, and taste and sentiment will be satisfied also.”

 

#24

“In manly hours, we feel that duty is our place. The soul is no traveller; the wise man stays at home, and when his necessities, his duties, on any occasion call him from his house, or into foreign lands, he is at home still, and shall make men sensible by the expression of his countenance, that he goes the missionary of wisdom and virtue, and visits cities and men like a sovereign, and not like an interloper or a valet.”

 

#25

(Although I still love traveling, I think there’s wisdom in this quote below & reminds me of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go, There You Are)

“Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.

 

#26

“The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure, that it is profane to seek to interpose helps. It must be that when God speaketh he should communicate, not one thing, but all things; should fill the world with his voice; should scatter forth light, nature, time, souls, from the centre of the present thought; and new date and new create the whole

…Whenever a mind is simple, and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away,—means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour. All things are made sacred by relation to it,–one as much as another…

All things are dissolved to their centre by their cause, and, in the universal miracle, petty and particular miracles disappear. If, therefore, a man claims to know and speak of God, and carries you backward to the phraseology of some old mouldered nation in another country, in another world, believe him not…

…Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fulness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence, then, this worship of the past? The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and authority of the soul. Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye makes, but the soul is light; where it is, is day; where it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an injury, if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming.”

coacht.blog Emerson Quote Self-Reliance

#27 

“In what prayers do men allow themselves! That which they call a holy office is not so much as brave and manly. Prayer looks abroad and asks for some foreign addition to come through some foreign virtue, and loses itself in endless mazes of natural and supernatural, and mediatorial and miraculous… 

Prayer that craves a particular commodity,–any thing less than all good,–is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg…

…He will then see prayer in all action.The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard throughout nature, though for cheap ends. Caratach, in Fletcher’s Bonduca, when admonished to inquire the mind of the god Audate, replies, — “His hidden meaning lies in our endeavours; Our valors are our best gods.”

 

#28

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loathe to disappoint them.”

 

#29

As great a stake depends on your private act to-day, as followed their public and renowned steps. When private men shall act with original views, the lustre will be transferred from the actions of kings to those of gentlemen.

 

#30

“Life only avails, not the having lived. Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim. This one fact the world hates, that the soul becomes; for that for ever degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to a shame, confounds the saint with the rogue, shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside.”

 

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Here are some considerable(still super incredible) quotes:

 

Considerable Quotes

“His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents.”

Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a nation to-day, next year die, and their experience with them.”

“These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”

It is only as a man puts off all foreign support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail. He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head.”

 

 

For more relative quotes, here are some quotes from Thoreau to ponder.

 

The Myth of Perfection

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As I was reading a book an acquaintance sent me, Clear Quiet Mind, I came across a section in the book from Chapter 7, The Myth of Perfection, that I believe is very helpful for accepting our imperfections and living with peace of mind in a World that is constantly telling us to be “perfect.”

After reading this chapter on the myth of perfection I googled “myth of perfection” and found that many people have written on this subject: The Huffington post, Professors, TEDTalks, etc. It is a popular subject, so it must be important to discuss. 

Here I break down what I find from these multiple sources with practical ways of accepting our imperfections from Clear Quiet Mind, which can help you get past your myth of perfection to living a life with more peace of mind. Enjoy.

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Dictionary definitions of perfect include: “Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”

“Completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.”

Why do so many of us strive for an impossible feat which only leads us to disappointment? Why do we judge others when they make a mistake, but are forgiving for our own faults?

Are your role models perfect? Who are your role models? If they are a superhero from a movie or book, then that’s just not realistic.

A TED Talks speaker, Jim Hill, speaks of his former unrealistic expectations of himself and of others here.

He says, “Ive been wrong about role models all along. They don’t have to be perfect. How could they be perfect? They’re people.”

He goes on to speak about how no one is “perfect” all the time. We’re people. We’re flawed, and that is okay. After someone told him he was a good role model, he thought of all the reasons why he was not a good role model, but he says, “But if I could be a good role model for this slice of time, well then maybe all my role models could be perfect in slices of time.” 

Instead of judging a person off of one bad thing they did, or maybe something they didn’t do, we can look at the slices of their lives that are inspiring to us: A characteristic of theirs, an achievement, an attitude, etc. When we chase perfection in ourselves and in others we only end up beating ourselves up, or others up (verbally usually), because we all fall short.

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I want to be perfect just like you do, so how can we accept this inevitable fact of being imperfect?

Practical techniques from Clear Quiet Mind are next, but one way the speaker Jim helped himself was by practicing recognizing that his friends aren’t perfect, but they are pretty awesome at times, so he looked at the positive traits in them instead of focusing on any negative. He now tries to look at everyday people as role models, none of them are perfect, but they have slices of perfection woven into them. He says that doing this has let him off the hook of perfection.

An incredibly helpful way to release the myth of perfection is to understand that no one is perfect or ever will be, but we can look at the good qualities in others life and look up to those qualities.

Author Kevin Schoeninger also has great ideas and ways on how to handle this myth of perfection. He goes a little deeper on this subject by diving into ways to recognize when we are viewing things from a myth of perfection and then ways to release the myth of perfection.

Remember, we all struggle at times with this myth of perfection. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.

Kevin says things like:

“Do you avoid taking risks in business because you think you might fail?”

“The Myth of Perfection is an invisible line that is impossible to measure up to.”

“When have you done enough? “By what standards can these be judged—and, who says so?”

“Is it really important for you and/or your kids or be busy, productive, and perfect all the time? Does that make for a happy and healthy life?”

“What if these standards of perfectionism are arbitrary, illusory, and moving targets that keep you locked in the stress of never being good enough or worthy enough for what you really want?”

The bottom line is that ‘perfection’ is a myth. What you see when you step back and observe life more objectively is not perfection, but ‘diversity.’ Life is infinitely diverse. Diversity is a rule here on Earth. There are over seven billion different human bodies, sets of skills, habits, lifestyles, preferences, and personalities—and countless other lifeforms, each with their own unique characteristics.”

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3 ways to recognize The Myth of Perfection

(All quoted examples below are from Chapter 7 in Kevin’s Book, Clear Quiet Mind, pages 63-74)

“The myth of perfection needs to be made conscious before you can let it go and choose another outlook. Until you recognize it and can pause it as it arises, you’ll be a slave to its mythical power.”

The first way to let go of any limiting perspective is to recognize what you’re doing, Kevin says.

1) Black and White thinking

Example: “A person is a ‘good person’ or a ‘bad person.’”

“Actions are either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’”

“This just isn’t true. Every person is a diverse mix of different intentions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There are no 100% good or bad people. No one is 100% percent anything.”

“Actions can only be judged in context-yes even the ‘bad ones,’ like stealing, lying, and taking a life(example just below). What if these actions were in the service of a greater good?” 

(Example)—“Would you lie to a Nazi about hiding a Jewish family in your attic? Would you steal their gun if they barged in and were trying to use it? Would you kill them to save innocent lives? Perhaps?”

*”Life presents itself in a rainbow of different colors and shades. Black and white thinking just doesn’t represent Reality. It’s important to view everything, every action, and everyone in their uniqueness within the complex contexts in which they appear.”

2) Always, Never, and Should

“This kind of thinking disregards the truth that all things in this physical world of time and space change and grow. Circumstances change and require different responses. We all change. Life is always changing. Life requires adaptation.”

…“Yet, we tend to label things as if they are unchanging. We say things like, ‘you always…’ and ‘I never…’ to judge others and justify ourselves.”

“‘Should’ is an equally fallible concept. We think that people should follow the rules, until they break them, create something new and amazing, and become famous for it. Then, in retrospect, they were courageous or creative geniuses.”

What if minorities and women never stood up for their rights and just followed the rules? There were laws that women couldn’t vote and that people could own slaves..How unbelievable is that? What good would happen if we didn’t break rules that are meant to be broken?

“We think that people should work until they are 65—yet, we admire those who can retire early. We think that we should long for retirement, yet those who stay engaged and active in purposeful work seem to have the most fulfilling, healthy, and happy lives.”

“Discernments about what is good, right, and valuable can only be made within the ever-changing contexts in which they occur. So, check yourself for the words always, never, and should. See if you can notice the arbitrary standards behind these statements. What if these are unnecessarily stressing you out or creating conflict?”

3) Comparison and Nitpicking

“We are brought up to compare—and this naturally leads to critical judgments if we or others don’t measure up.”

“A current example of this is the notion of ‘political correctness.’ This concept is one of the most arbitrary markers for what is good and bad. Political correctness clearly is about what is most important to the group with which you identify. It has no absolute value on its own.”

“In U.S. politics, as people congregate around ‘whatever Democrats do is bad’ or ‘whatever Republicans do it bad.’ This type of thinking leads to all sorts of contradictory and conflicting judgments…Life doesn’t offer absolute answers”

The bottom line is that people, things, and actions can only be discerned within the complex contexts in which they occur. Quick and easy, black and white judgments are inaccurate to how life actually presents itself. Life is infinitely diverse.

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4 powerful techniques on releasing The Myth of Perfection

1) Notice Exceptions and Alternatives

“Notice exceptions to the rule you’re applying.” Kevin’s idea is that we are around imperfect people all the time, friends, family, etc, but we still love them for who they are.

He says, “For example, do you think so and so is beautiful even though he or she is ‘overweight?’ Can you think of a time when a ‘good person’ had a ‘lapse in judgment?’ Can you remember a time when the point you are now disagreeing with was true?”

“Notice the variety of possible ways you can look at the same situation. By momentarily adopting different points of view, it helps release you from the stress and tyranny of any one perspective.”

“At a minimum, it can lead you to say, ‘Maybe there are a variety of ways of looking at this situation.”

2) Refute Irrational Ideas

Our ideas, our self-talk, whether rational or irrational will impact our emotions, and our emotions motivate our actions. Kevin discusses how the psychologist Albert Ellis wrote about this, identifying common irrational beliefs that “launch us into stressful feelings which result in poor coping behaviors.”

Some of these adapted irrational beliefs include: “I must have love and approval for me to feel good, I must be flawlessly competent, successful, and perfect to deserve good things, My happiness and suffering are entirely dependent upon external events, Anything unknown, uncertain, or potentially dangerous is scary, What happened in the past determines what will happen now.”

There may be truth in some of these ideas for you, but “it’s how you use these ideas against yourself that’s decisive,” Kevin says, “When you attach to them as strong beliefs, they limit how you view yourself and your possibilities.”

“Certainly, you don’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you interpret, relate to, and respond to what happens.

“Ellis discovered that, if you can refute your irrational ideas, you can interrupt the chain of reaction, and create a new outcome. If you reframe your thinking, you will feel and act differently. By doing this, you become stress-resistant and stress-resilient.”

Kevin discusses Ellis’s 5 Steps to Refute Irrational ideas which you can read more about here in Ellis’s ABC Model

3) Ask yourself, ‘Am I Coming from Love or Fear?’

“Anytime you’re feeling critical or judgmental toward yourself or others ask this question: Am I coming from love or fear?”

“The root of the myth of perfection is fear of vulnerability— that ‘I am vulnerable if I’m not perfect.’

“The cure for fear is first identifying your fear and acknowledging it, then deciding if it needs to be acted on or not. This helps respond appropriately to what is happening. Perhaps your fear is alerting you to something that needs to be done? If so, how can you address your fear by taking appropriate action? If not, can you let that fear go?”

Good questions to ask fear: ‘What am I afraid might happen? Is that likely or am I exaggerating that possibility? What actions do I really need to take? Is it possible that nothing needs to be done except letting go of fear and seeing things in a more realistic empowered way?’”

“Once you’ve identified necessary actions or decided that you may be exaggerating risk to protect feelings of vulnerability, you can move toward love.”

“On the love side, you can ask, ‘How can I be more loving and compassionate toward myself and others in this situation? What would ease fear? What would help things work out well for all concerned? How can I initiate or participate in this positive outcome?’”

“In moments of fear and vulnerability, what would someone who loves you unconditionally, exactly as you are, say to you or do? How can you apply this principle to how you relate to yourself and others?”

Love is a response that naturally arises when you see the real needs of yourself and others in any situation. Love desires the best for all concerned. Love is your natural response when you are free from fear. When you love, instead of criticizing and blaming, you can observe and discern what needs to be done.”

4) Observe and Accept What Is Actually Happening

“In moments of challenge, vulnerability, and fear, is it possible to set aside all mental chatter, all stories and judgments, and simply be an objective witness to what is happening? … It is possible with practice to do this, to free your mind.

“Remember your skills of mindfulness, acceptance, and detachment. Is it possible to mindfully observe what is happening, accept it as it is, and let go of judging people and events as good or bad? Is it possible to see others and situations innocently, as if for the first time, without prejudice? —To help do this you might use the First Seat of Consciousness(technique): — Observe the situation from a perspective above and behind your head. Imagine yourself sitting up there, looking down on yourself, others, and the situation as a whole.”

The technique above reminds me of the Stoic technique of “taking a view from above.

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You can imagine being in the sky, on a cloud, looking down at yourself and all of life, which can get you out of your own thoughts.

“I encourage you to try these techniques to release the myth of perfection in situations in which you are harshly judging yourself or others.”

Kevin’s book is very useful in helping people achieve an inner peace through practical techniques. I have underlined almost every single word throughout this book as I read it. As I read the book, part of me wanted the next page to not connect with me so I didn’t have to underline it, but it kept happening!

If you would like the full book you can buy it here from Amazon for $15

5 Life-Changing Takeaways from the Book, “Way Of The Peaceful Warrior”

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives

Book Written By Dan Millman

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Dan signing my Peaceful Warrior book!

Click on Dan’s name above to go to his website & learn more about him. (Also can scroll down to go straight to the 5 life-changing takeaways if you’d like).

Growing wise through personal and spiritual experiences, this story follows a World Champion Gymnast, Dan, who seemed to “have it all” in the eyes of society.  Even though he had everything he desired in the physical realm, he was still not happy.

I think many people can relate to this^.  We get what we think we want and then find out that it doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment. We hear about rich & famous people committing suicide, although many people often desire that famous/rich life. Dan is still alive & well today, but he went through many struggles to be able to live life beyond his ego.

I feel good, sometimes I don’t, ay,” said Drake in his popular song “God’s Plan.”

Everyone feels bad at times, no matter how much ‘success’ they have in this world. And it’s okay to feel bad, even though the media only portrays happy people having a good time. Remember that what you see on tv usually isn’t an accurate example of real life.  You can check out an article I wrote on accepting our feelings by Clicking Here.

Anyway, one night, while Dan was still in college, he went to a gas station after waking up in the middle of the night.  He met a unique old man who he named Socrates later on. (“Socrates” never told Dan his real name).

Socrates became Dan’s guru/mentor/teacher. Helping to enlighten Dan, Socrates teaches him many things throughout the book that ultimately opens Dan’s mind and allows him to awaken; to be happy now without a reason.  Like many people in the World today, Dan was living through his ego before he met Socrates.  He pursued worldly pleasures & accomplishments only to find out that those “fulfilling” moments don’t last.  Led by his teacher, Socrates, Dan is able to experience life beyond his ego, and live in peace.

The “living in peace” phrase just created another thought through me; we always say Rest in Peace when someone dies, but why don’t we ever say Live in Peace when we are living??

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Way of the Peaceful Warrior was one of the first books that had a big impact on my life.  I read it for the first time when I was around the age of 19, and have continued to read it again & again.

After I finished reading this book for the first time it immediately became my favorite book, and remains my favorite to this day. It opened up my mind to new ideas & a different way of viewing & living life. Way of the Peaceful Warrior has helped me live joyfully in the present moment, to be happy now without reason, to focus on things that really matter, to take action instead of dwelling in thought, to live non-judgmentally, & to live life in love.

I do not always remain in this state of bliss, but when I accept my feelings & situations as they are, this brings me peace. I shared this earlier, but click here if you’d like to read an article on this.

The author, Dan Millan, said he wrote this book “to inspire, uplift, and to remind readers of life’s bigger picture & higher promise.”  This book definitely inspired me & gave me more insight into the bigger picture of life.

Live the moment

“Be happy now, without reason, or you’ll never be happy.”

~I truly believe that this book should be read throughout schools all around the world.  The ideas & ways of thinking this book explains could benefit the education system & our future tremendously~

In this post I will summarize some of the main points of the Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I will discuss how I have been using what I’ve learned from this book, will provide you with many of my favorite quotes from the book that relate to each takeaway & I’ve added some thought provoking quotes from the book at the end. Thank you for reading & Enjoy!

**I also want to encourage you to not just read this, but to put these ideas into practice. Ask yourself, “How can I apply this to my life?” These life-changing ideas need to be more than just read. Be patient when practicing these, & continue to remind yourself of these ideas throughout your days for them to become second nature.**

1) BE HAPPY NOW, WITHOUT REASON.

  • Millman’s words helped me see that happiness lies in the journey, not in the destination.  Many people are working at jobs only to make money for retirement.  Retirement does not equal happiness. I have used this knowledge to do more of what I love & to practice being fully present in each moment.  I am able to enjoy the ‘little things’ in life, such as a cup of coffee, a book, playing basketball, teaching, hanging out with family/friends, and the list goes on.

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Why waste half your life doing things you don’t enjoy doing if you have an opportunity to do something you enjoy?

Happiness happens now, in this present moment.  The future never really comes, the future only happens as another present moment.

Here are great quotes from the book that can open your eyes to being happy now, without reason:

* “‘What do I do then, now? Where do I go from here?’ Dan asked Socrates.

‘Who cares?’ He yelled gleefully.  ‘A fool is ‘happy’ when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason.  That’s what makes happiness the ultimate discipline—above all else I have taught you.’”

“Reality never matched their dreams; happiness was just around the corner — a corner they never turned. And the source of it all was the human mind.”

“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!” 

“Sometimes sorrow, sometimes joy. But beneath it all remember the innate perfection of your life unfolding. That is the secret of unreasonable happiness.” 

“You Don’t need a reason to be happy. If you do that reason can be taken away.” 

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“And so I awoke to reality, free of any meaning or any search. What could there possibly be to search for? All of Socrate’s words had come alive with my death. This was the paradox of it all, the humor of it all, and the great change. All searches, all achievements, all goals, were equally enjoyable, and equally unnecessary.” 

“Act happy, be happy, without a reason in the world. Then you can love, and do what you will.”

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

2) You are much more than what you think

&

Live in the Present.

  • Our thoughts limit our experience.  When you can let go of your thoughts, you can be fully alive in the present moment.  The answers you seek lie beyond thought.

“My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours.  What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.”

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“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses” 

^^ I’ve been realizing this more & more lately that we are most alive when we are not dwelling in thoughts.  We can take time to have rational thoughts, but take some time to meditate in nothingness.  Let go of your thoughts by focusing on your external environment.  Tap into your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?  Try to do this for at least a few minutes.

When you are only in your mind, thinking, you are never fully in the present moment. Practice focusing your attention to things outside of you.

* “Satori is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs at the moment when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed; and the emotions are open and free.”

“Remember, every-moment satori.”

“The warrior is Here, Now.”

“You have to ‘lose your mind’ before you can come to your senses.” 

“Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for.  The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”

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“Your business is not to ‘get somewhere’ — it is to be here.

“You have been immortal since before you were born and will be long after the body dissolves. The body is Consciousness; never born; never dies; only changes. The mind — your ego, personal beliefs, history, and identity — is all that ends at death.”

^^This quote reminds me of the philosophy stoicism. I wrote a post about it that you can check out by Clicking Here.

3) Life is much more than what you can think.

  • This book helped me view the external environment without judging it. Instead of looking outside & thinking “Ooo I love or hate this weather. There is a bird & a tree, and wow that car is going really fast,” I practice just looking outside & dwelling on what is, letting thoughts come & then go like passing clouds. I practice not judging things around me, seeing them just as they are, with no thinking needed. I am not like this all the time, but it is good to practice this technique!

“You now see everything through a veil of associations about things, projected over a direct, simple awareness. You’ve ‘seen it all before’; it’s like watching a movie for the twentieth time. You see only memories of things, so you become bored. Boredom, you see, is fundamental non-awareness of life; boredom is awareness, trapped in the mind. You’ll have to lose your mind before you can come to your senses.”

“You’ve become bored to things because they exist only as names to you. The dry concepts of mind obscure your direct perception.”

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“Like most people, you’ve been taught to gather information from outside yourself; from books, magazines, experts.  Like this car, you open up and let the facts pour in.  Sometimes the information is premium and sometimes it’s low octane.  You buy your knowledge at the current market rates, much like you buy gasoline.  Like this gas tank, you are overflowing with preconceptions; full of useless knowledge.  You hold many facts and opinions, yet know little of yourself.  Before you can learn, you’ll have to first empty your tank.

4) Actions are more important than thoughts.

“Your thoughts are like wild monkeys stung by a scorpion.”

Don’t believe everything you think; I have heard this phrase many times & it relates to this idea.

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We can’t always control what we think, but we do have control of our actions.

Yes, try to think positive & focus on the best, but don’t try to force thoughts away. Embrace them; let it come & then let them go like clouds passing by.

“You don’t need to control emotion,” Socrates said. “Emotions are natural, like passing weather. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes sorrow or anger. Emotions are not the problem. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action.”

“Old urges continue to arise, but urges do not matter; only actions do. A warrior is as a warrior does.”

“. . Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.”

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Paying attention is also an action, and one of the most important actions:

“A Zen student asked his roshi the most important element of Zen.  The roshi replied, ‘Attention.’ 

‘Yes, thank you,’ the student replied. ‘But can you tell me the second most important element?’ And the roshi replied, ‘Attention.’”

Practice paying attention.

“Ultimately you will learn to meditate your every action.”

“Use whatever knowledge you have but see its limitations. Knowledge alone does not suffice; it has no heart. No amount of knowledge will nourish or sustain your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or peace. Life requires more than knowledge; it requires intense feeling and constant energy. Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.” 

“Full attention to every moment is my desire and my pleasure. Attention costs no money; your only investment is training.”

5) On Life & Death.

* “Experts devote their life to training. Masters devote their training to life.”

“I’ve tried to show you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is the warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.”

* “Everyone tells you what’s good for you. they don’t want you to find your own answers. they want you to believe theirs.”

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* “‘Why worry? Better to live until you die.  I am a warrior; my way is action,’ Socrates said. ‘I am a teacher, I teach by example.  Someday you too may teach others as I have shown you—then you’ll understand that words are not enough; you too must teach by example, and only what you’ve realized through your own experience.’”

“The World out there, is a school, Dan.  Life is the only real teacher.  It offers many experiences, and if experience alone brought wisdom and fulfillment, then elderly people would all be happy, enlightened masters

..But the lessons of experience are hidden.  I can help you learn from experience to see the world clearly, and clarity is something you desperately need right now.  Your intuition knows this is true, but your mind rebels; you’ve experienced much, but you’ve learned little.”

“Think of death as a transformation — a bit more radical than puberty, but nothing to get particularly upset about.” 

“Death is not sad; the sad thing is that most people don’t really live at all.”

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“Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.”

“You fear death and crave survival. You want Forever, you desire Eternity. In your deluded belief that you are this ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ or ‘soul,’ you find the escape clause in your contract with mortality.” 

“Wake up! If you knew for certain that you had a terminal illness – if you had precious little time left to make use of your life and consider who you are, you’d not waste time on self-indulgence or fear, lethargy or ambition.  You do have a terminal illness – it is death. Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”

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Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed these book notes as much as I enjoyed the book.  I think many people can relate to this incredible story.

Let us be happy now, without reason, and we will live our best life.

You can purchase The Way of the Peaceful Warrior book from Amazon by clicking here if you’d like.

More thought provoking quotes from the book:

* “So I’m a fool, huh?” Says Millman.  Socrates responds with, “We’re all fools together.  It’s just that a few people know it; others don’t.”

“Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change, free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death.  But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

“Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization. And when you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes.” 

“How do you know you haven’t been asleep your whole life?  How do you know you’re not asleep right now?”

“Understanding is the one-dimensional comprehension of the intellect. It leads to knowledge. Realization is three-dimensional — a simultaneous comprehension of head, heart, and instinct. It comes only from direct experience.” 

“Focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new.” 

“Embody what you teach, and teach only what you have embodied.”

“Stress happens when the mind resists what is.”

“There are no ordinary moments!”

*Story about a younger traveler, Milarepa who has been seeking enlightenment everywhere.  He eventually sees an old man carrying a heavy sack down a mountain & thinks the man knows the answer to his question… 

Milarepa says, “‘Old man, please tell me what you know. What is enlightenment?’ The old man smiled at him for a moment, and swung the heavy burden off his shoulders, and stood straight.

‘Yes, I see!’ Cried Milarepa. ‘My everlasting gratitude. But please, one question more. What is after enlightenment?’

Smiling again, the old man picked up the sack once again, slung it over his shoulders, steadied his burden, and continued on his way.”

I had to read this story^ a few times before I understood it. I hope you can see it.

“Life is not suffering; it’s just that you will suffer it, rather than enjoy it, until you let go of your mind’s attachments and just go for the ride freely, no matter what happens.”

“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”

“Reading the future is based on a realistic perception of the present.  Don’t be concerned about seeing the future until you can clearly see the present.”

“Meditating an action is different from doing it. To do, there must be a doer, a self-conscious someone performing.  But when you meditate an action, you’ve already released all thoughts, even the thought of, ‘I.’ There’s no ‘you’ left to do it.  In forgetting yourself, you become what you do, so your action is free, spontaneous, without ambition, inhibition, or fear.’”

“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.”

I hope you enjoyed the quotes as well as the summary! Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice! Start today, ask “How can I apply these ideas to my daily life?” Let these ideas sink in to who you are.

I also recommend reading Dan’s second & third books in the Peaceful Warrior trilogy. (Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior & The Hidden School) which you can purchase from Amazon if you’d like by clicking on their title.

Get the books from a library or buy them; either way it will be worth your while! I read both & thoroughly enjoyed them.

Happy Reading! I wish you well on your journey toward becoming a Peaceful Warrior.

4 Philosophy ideas that can bring you temporary peace

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Disclaimer—This might change your perspective on life. Hopefully for the better. 

The choice is yours.

The 4 philosophy ideas I discuss stem from a philosophy called stoicism.

I wanted to title this post: “Stoicism 101; an old philosophy that can liberate you,” but I’m not sure if many people have heard about stoicism, and I know most people have heard of philosophy.

So what is stoicism? (scroll down to ‘4 Main Points‘ section for just the main points if you’d like).

Stoicism is defined as: “The endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.”

It is being okay with everything that happens & accepting how you feel.  It is focusing on what you can control, and letting go of the rest.  

Stoicism is liberating.

Stoicism can help you: 

  • Become a better person & friend
  • Deal with people & external events appropriately
  • Deal with adversity
  • Maintain a level head through praise & criticism
  • Come to peace with death
  • Overcome destructive emotions, and many more.

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Stoicism is also defined as: “An ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.”

Stoicism helps us accept life as it is.  It helps us get past our labels of “good” & “bad.” Stoicism helps put us in a mindful state of awareness, getting us out of our constantly judging mind, enabling us to experience life fully, non-judgmentally.

In relation to living non-judgmentally, I’ve heard this quote: “What is chaos to the fly is normal to the spider.”

Shakespeare also said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

We know what is good or bad in human terms, but there is a lot more going on in the universe than what we think.

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Think about the millions of galaxies just like this one. Or even think about 10 more. The Universe is vast.

There is so much happening beyond us.

We know that murder is a bad thing, yet cows, chickens and other animal life are murdered daily in our world.  I eat meat so I am not complaining, I am just trying to get us all to think.

Do you think eating dog is bad?

Multiple countries eat dog today, and other countries think that this is very wrong…Here is an article that came out April 3, 2018 that discusses how over 5 million dogs are eaten in Vietnam every year—Click Here For Article.

Is it wrong to kill animals for food? I don’t have that answer.

Maybe hundreds or thousands of years from now, if the human race is still around, they will wonder how we could have eaten the meat of other animals.

Maybe not though as well.

Look back to a few examples from recent centuries, the 1900’s & beyond, to things we look back on in disgust: Open racism, public hangings & no womens’ rights.

These injustices are still happening today in some places.

So this is what philosophy is; thinking. Thinking, learning & then living out the best life from what we know. Philosophy is about questions & perspectives.

Stoicism is not pessimistic, it is optimistic, you just need to see it in the right light.

Before I get to the main points of stoicism, I would like your feedback via email. I am considering writing a short ebook that will discuss stoicism in more detail.  I have about 70 pages of solid notes on the subject, & have read multiple books regarding stoicism, so if you would be interested in reading a short ebook(condensed to about 20 pages) please let me know!

For now, here is a summary of a few main points that stoicism offers & how we can apply them to our lives.

4 Main Points

1~Amor Fati

Which translates to a love of one’s fate•

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German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a big fan of amor fati. 

He is quoted saying, “my formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it, but love it.”

The stoics also had another way of looking at this. They believed in a universal guiding force of the universe. They thought we are like a dog tied to a moving cart, and we have two options: We can try to dig our hind legs in, struggling to control everything, getting dragged & being challenged. Or we can enjoy the ride & live our best lives.

Last quote on Amor Fati:

“Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.” Epictetus (Philosopher & former slave)

Are you loving your fate?  If not, you can with practice, and it will help you live your best life.

2~Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest

Most of us have heard this quote: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

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We have heard it, and might think, “yea that’s good, I should do that.” But we often don’t follow through with this quote.

We need to follow through with action. Make a list of things you can control, and a list of things you can’t control.  Then stop wasting any time on things you cannot control.  This takes time & practice, as I am practicing this myself and am not perfect at it.

I love this idea from Philip Ghezelbash that relates to focusing on the things we can control:

“Do you have a problem in your life?

No? ► Then don’t worry.

Yes? ► Can you do something about it?…

Yes? ► Then don’t worry.

No? ► Then don’t worry.”

I have been practicing this lately when I am stuck in traffic.  There is no reason to get upset in uncontrollable traffic, but many people do & I have too at times.  I’ve been reminding myself that I have no control over the traffic, and this reminder has been bringing me peace of mind.

3~Practice poverty & misfortune

This may sound counterproductive but it can actually help a person grow tremendously.

When we intentionally practice poverty & misfortune a few days each month, we will be more prepared and accepting for when it does come.

“We must learn to disappoint ourselves at leisure before the world ever has a chance to slap us by surprise at a time of its own choosing.” Alain de Botton

Alain goes on to say: “One of the goals of civilization is to instruct us in how to be sad rather than angry. Sadness may not sound very appealing. But it carries – in this context – a huge advantage. It is what allows us to detach our emotional energies from fruitless fury around things that (however bad) we cannot change and that are the fault of no-one in particular and – after a period of mourning – to refocus our efforts in places where our few remaining legitimate hopes and expectations have a realistic chance of success.”

Entrepreneur, practicer of stoicism, and author of a New York Times Best Selling Book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, practices this each month.  See him talk about it by clicking here

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Tim Ferriss

Ferriss talks about how the philosopher Cato, would practice poverty & misfortune:

During Cato’s age, over 2000 years ago, every now and then he would wear clothes that society viewed as humiliating.

Cato did this to train himself to be ashamed of only those things truly worth being ashamed about.

Deep down we know that clothes are nothing to be ashamed of, but many people spend a lot of money to buy brand clothing to impress people they don’t even like.

The philosopher Seneca also practiced this.  In one of his writings he wrote: “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’”

We undervalue what we have, because most likely we’ve always had it…

“Many of your fears are based on undervaluing the things that are easily obtainable.” Tim Ferriss

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Ferriss also practices this by doing fasts, not eating anything for days, & also doing fasts that include only eating rice, or only drinking water.  (If you plan on doing a fast, research it as much as possible beforehand).

This year I have done two 30 hour fasts, and multiple 16-20 hour fasts.

There has been a lot of research done on fasting, and it has many benefits.  This Harvard study explains how fasting can lead to a longer and healthier life: Click Here for the study.

I’ve been practicing this another way without even knowing it:  When I need clothes, I first go to Goodwill or other thrift stores, where I buy great clothes for a cheap price.  I am very glad my mother took us to thrift shops growing up; they really have some amazing gems.  And when I buy clothes that society might think is “poor,” that doesn’t bother me & I’ll still wear it.

Macklemore agrees here in his song Thrift shop(clean version).

He says, “I’m like, ‘yo, that’s 50 dollars for a t-shirt.’ Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition. 50 dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant _____.

I call that getting tricked by the business.”

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Do we care that much about the opinions of others that we will spend enormous amounts of money to impress them?

2000 years ago, former Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius said, “it never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.

Think about what your life would be like without the things you have.  It could happen.  Better to have practiced misfortune so that if it comes to you, you won’t be bothered by it.

Are you practicing poverty & misfortune?  If not, do you think you will?

4~None of what you do lasts

Again, this may sound pessimistic, but it is liberating, and if you are still reading you can sense that practicing stoicism can be liberating.

Marcus Aurelius reminded himself of all the people who have died, whether they had a “great” occupation or a “lowly” one.  He said: “Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend. Think of all the examples. And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.

“No matter how clever or brilliant, none of what we do lasts…It’s good to remember that.” Ryan Holiday

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“If everything is ephemeral, what does matter?  Right now matters.  Being a good person and doing the right thing right now, thats what matters and that’s what was important to the Stoics. Be humble and honest and aware.” Ryan Holiday

If you want to really live your best life, it is important to frequently think of your own mortality. This will help you appreciate each and every moment, and not have such an intense fear of death that most people refuse to think about.

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” Marcus Aurelius

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I hope you enjoyed learning about, or learning more about the wonderful philosophy of stoicism.  There are many more practices involved with stoicism; these were a few key starting points I believe are good to begin with, & they are ones that I am practicing.

If you want to learn more about stoicism, I recommend reading the book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius.  I recently read it & it is now one of my top 3 all-time favorite books.

And as I said, I have many notes on stoicism and am considering writing a short ebook on the subject to discuss it in more details (the ebook would be around 20 pages). If this is something you’d be interested in reading please let me know 🙂

I look forward to hearing from you, & hope you have gained a new perspective through reading this.

Cheers.

“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.” Aurelius

QUESTION YOUR CERTAINTY

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I was listening to famous blogger Mark Manson get interviewed by Marie Forleo Here when he said something that inspired this whole post.  I believe that this idea can help everyone in their daily lives.

  • “The starting point is simple, start asking WHY about everything.”

“What if I’m wrong?”      “What if my assumption is wrong?”

The more I think about this subject, the more I see how IMPORTANT it is to question ourselves.

“Don’t believe everything you think” is a quote that has impacted my life in great ways.

Author Dan Millman wrote that our thoughts are like wild monkeys stung by a scorpion.

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Our minds are running all day; thoughts appear like clouds passing by, some stay longer than others, but some quickly pass by.  So how can you and I let go of these “clouds?”

1) As Manson would say, “There’s no ‘how.’  It’s all in your head.”  There is not much you can do other than try on a new perspective and ask, “What if my assumption isn’t true?” What would that mean?  And then psychically traverse the answer.

  • So write down 5 things in your life that you could potentially be wrong about.  Question those deep assumptions you’ve had about your identity for years.  For example, “I am lazy” I am not an attractive person” “I don’t know how to talk to people” “I won’t ever be happy” “The world is going to shit”

The more emotion you have behind these assumptions, the more important it is to write it down and CHALLENGE IT!

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After you have written down 5 or more assumptions, go through them and write down what it would mean in your life if it were wrong.

It may not be easy but it’s worth it!  Anyway how confident can you be in your own beliefs if you’ve never challenged them?  Try to see the “other side,” and when it does appear more likely and more valid, join that side!

2) THINK THROUGH YOUR THOUGHTS to see if what you’re thinking is irrational or not.

For example:  Say that you get a little nervous to go to the gym or grocery shopping.  But why?  Because you have to step out of your COMFORT ZONE.

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You are comfortable inside your apartment watching TV & the thought of leaving will disrupt your comfort – so you think..

It’s crazy how the mind can trick us to stay exactly where we are.  But if you want to do anything significant or really even just anything, you need to leave your comfort zone.  It’s worth it.  The pain you will feel later on in life due to staying in your comfort zone will be much worse than the temporary discomfort of going for what you want.

-This can relate to asking a girl/guy out.

-Performing at that open mic night you’ve been considering.

-Joining that group you’ve been thinking of joining.

-Anything that has to do with doing what you want.

People are afraid of all sorts of things & that’s okay.  You shouldn’t try to strive to be fearless, you should strive to TAKE ACTION when you are feeling afraid.

I have learned that it’s not about how I think or feel, it’s about what I do!!  

Don’t believe everything you think!  Question your assumptions and thoughts, and start TAKING ACTION!!!

Stop wasting time caring about the wrong things; things that only worry you.  Start caring about things that truly matter to you!

Click the BOOK PICTURE below to buy Mark Manson’s NY Times Best Selling book that can help you do all of the above!

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45 Life Lessons

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  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. Save for retirement, starting with your first paycheck.
  9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  12. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  14. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  15. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  16. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  17. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  19. Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  20. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
  21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  23. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  25. Forgive everyone everything.
  26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  27. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  29. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  30. Believe in miracles.
  31. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  32. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  33. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  34. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  35. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  36. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  37. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  40. The best is yet to come.
  41. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  42. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  43. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

These are all so good.  I read this a few times!  Credit to Regina Brett.  Which is your favorite??