My new book is out today on Amazon, but what use is it?
What can it do for you?
Why would you read it?
Have you ever postponed and delayed something?
Like that conversation that needs to happen?
or that email you need to send?
or putting your hand up to ask that question?
or starting that new project?
or learning a new skill?
or starting that new diet/exercise regime?
With so many things you convince yourself that now isn’t the right moment, not yet. Wait and see, first … right?
Life is determined by a your attitude to it. Not by the things that happen, but your attitude to the things that happen.
This is a fundamental law of life, one that we’re really not taught, or taught that well because so few people actually truly live from a hugely positive attitude.
But it’s a choice which changes everything.
I don’t know anyone who isn’t afraid of anything. And if they say they aren’t, then well, they are either enlightened, or lying. There is a difference, of course, between being lost in fear, and feeling fear, "but doing it anyway."
The fact is fear is a huge and unwelcome part of many people’s lives. Mine too.
Or it used to be.
That voice, the one that beats you down. The voice of criticism, doubt, out-and-out violence. The one that means you waste so much time revisiting and rehashing so much.
If you’re anything like me, if you could you would cut it out. Trouble is … you can’t. A big part of your mission here on earth is to come to terms with the voice.
The voice may never go away, but the great news is: It doesn’t need to.
I’m not a big fan of the words “mentally strong.”
Mental strength or toughness can seem like brutishness, and pushing, and force, a lack of sensitivity, and other such things … or at least that’s what I tried to be when I thought of it.
Instead, I’ve come to realise - to steal from the Chinese philosophers - you want to be like water.
“You said 100% commitment brings you things quickly and easily, right? I’m now thinking 'I should give up sugar 100%' but I don't really want to live without it and am a big believer in moderation. Have I got hold of the complete wrong end of the stick? But where does doing things in moderation come in with doing everything 100%?”
And so I answered …
98% committed to something seems pretty good. Right? Mostly committed is better than not, we think.
The fact is, you can’t be 98% committed. You can’t even be 99.999% committed. It’s like saying you’re 99.999% married, or 99.999% pregnant. You either are, or you aren’t.
Commitment works at 100%. Then everything is simple. It’s either a yes/no decision based on that.
Death can be inspiring. You see, people at the end of their lives often – not always, but indeed often – have a lot of insight into how they would live if they had their time again.
They have a clarity and perspective about what is truly important and what is merely urgent that many of us don't have when we're slap bang in the middle of the managed chaos of our to-do lists.
Perhaps ... with the wrong attitude it is. But I'd say it’s more than just a virtue in life. It’s a necessity.
Why? Because things rarely unfold the way you want them to, do they? Because to become something, anything, it always takes time. Hence – unless you love being stressed and overwhelmed – the importance of patience.
I’m not violent you say … and yet: Do you know what one of the most violent things you can actually do is?
Try to be someone that you’re not.
Do you know what one of the greatest realisations that you can ever come to is?
That you are enough, just as you are.
The enemy, if there is such a thing (which I talked a little about on Friday), is the more or less constant and continual judgement, comparison, evaluation of ourselves by ourselves.
It is the constant and continual self-management, self-appraisal and attempting to validate and secure a certain standing in the eyes of the rest of the world.
It is the constant and continual struggle to live up to certain unconscious ideas and expectations and standards, all soaked in from such an early age that they seem like “this is what is natural, this is the rules, this is the way you live life."
What say you?
How much time do you spend thinking about who you are and what other people think of you? About who you are and how you’re doing in the world?
And then the whole commercial world reflects that back to us: “Buy this and be happy, be fulfilled!”, “Achieve this and find purpose!”, “Have this lifestyle and find your identity!”
What a relief, what a revolution then to realise that there is no “natural” way of living, no “truth” … it’s all just a commonly held belief of what a good life looks like … of what a good person should do and be.
It’s all a belief that, when you see it within yourself, you can take or leave. Go with it, or create your own.
But you have to see it’s the blindly fighting to live up to these expectations that keeps you away from peace and contentment, that keeps you stressed, that keeps you away from realising who you really are beyond your job, your possessions, your hobbies, your thoughts.
It’s the very thing that stops you fully living … because you’re always waiting to become.
You are enough, exactly as you are, warts and all.
What this world needs is people who are 100% ok in their own skin. And this doesn’t mean you give up goals and standards, but you do so with self-awareness, and a lightness of touch.
When you're 100% okay with who you are, you still grow – but not because you need to, but because you wantto. And grow all the more faster you do. (Yoda coming in, sorry.)
Some (some!) of the benefits of being this are contentment, peace, gratitude, honesty, acceptance, allowing, understanding … and being these things means you allow everyone else around to relax, to stop trying to be something they’re not too.
You can start to finally have a dialogue, a connection, true communication with others.
Being okay in your own skin. It’s one of the greatest things you can do for world peace, for the peace of your family.
A bold move though, nonetheless it’s super rewarding: a revolutionary act that takes place within and has resounding influence in the world.
PS.Practice meditation. I’d say learn the Bright Path Ishayas’ Ascension because it’s awesome. But whatever you do, do something.
It is the one thing that rapidly helps you relax in your own skin.
PPS.I have a free guide, it's all the ways I could think of to get less stressed, be more Alive, and make more of an impact on the world.To get a copy, head this way:
Who do you respect and admire?Alive or long gone, family or fictitious, neighbour or Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson … (it's okay, guilty secrets are fine with me. Embrace them, celebrate them!)
Who would you love to have as an aunty or uncle, just living around the corner so you could pop by and soak in their wisdom, their presence, as you're together in the kitchen peeling potatoes, drinking tea?
All of these people, everyone you respect and admire, was born with strengths. But all of them, every single one of them, were never born complete. They all had challenges, weaknesses, fears, troubles.
Perhaps that’s what made them the people you admire today – the fact that in many cases life wasn’t easy for them, that they had to work to overcome.
Regardless of the events of anyone’s life, a truth not so universally acknowledged is ... that no one is born finished.
If you’re interested in making a difference in someone else’s life, perhaps on a world scale, perhaps for your family and work mates and neighbours … if you’re interested in being worthy of respect and admiration, I think there are two very useful questions to keep alive in your life.
Two questions to revisit from time to time, to gauge a sense of how “well” you’re living life, are, number one:
“How can I do this better?”
Everyone can do everything better. Being open to seeing how you can be better means you get shown.
However, it takes a huge slice of humility. You’re never as good as your ego thinks you are. The more you know, the more you realise you’re just beginning and how much there is to learn … ha!
The second is:
“How can I enjoy this more?”
Seriousness of any kind is always a great sign you’re attached to a certain outcome, you’re fixed on being right, you’re a little bit stuck, you’re self-absorbed.
You can be involved in the most serious thing in the world, but having a light heart makes all the difference. To you, your ability to cope and to achieve, to everyone around you.
Seriousness is never a great idea.
Two questions then, combined with the ability to be present and live fully in this moment in time, in the same location as your body, means life becomes something wonderful.
It means your life not only becomes satisfying and fulfilling and alive to you, but is a gift to everyone else. A gift.
How wonderful is that?
PS. There is no finish line.
Isn’t that great? You will never get to “done.” You are not a pot-roast (or a roast potato if you’re vegan).
You are a constant work in progress. If you are willing, there can be a constant discovery of more. If you assume this attitude every single situation and person becomes a chance to see more, to be more.
With this attitude, there are no mistakes, there is no wrong. Then anything is always a case for you of, “OK - what do I want to do with this?”
And that attitude is amazing, inspiring, unstoppable.
PPS.If you're interested in these musings - some would say ramblings - coming directly to your email, here's a link to sign up:
Wouldn't it be great to be able to choose yourself an honorary uncle or auntie? You'd be able to pop over and hang out and soak in their wisdom and life experience. Get advice, hear stories, ask questions. Learn and laugh, all at the same time.
Two uncles I would have chosen would be Iggy Pop and the recently deceased Anthony Bourdain.
I love these two gentlemen for the lives they have lived, because they seem to have taken life choices less made – and I recently read a great interview with the both of them.
Here it is, if you’re interested: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/iggy-pop-anthony-bourdain-interview
They’re asking each other about contentment versus drive.
Both are in a place where they no longer need to work for money, and they’re talking about why they keep doing what they’re doing, as opposed to retiring to a sunny locale and “waiting to die.”
Have a read, but contentment vs drive used to be a big personal question for me, and one I now get asked a lot (funny that!)
Contentment and drive are seen to be an either/or thing in our society.
"If I’m content then that means I won’t be able to do the things I want to do, I’ll lose my ‘edge’” …
“If I chase the things I want to do then stress and a lack of contentment will be a necessary by-product …”
But what if … ?
(Again, always the what if!)
But what if both fed each other?
Because they do. Just because everyone lives like they don’t, it doesn’t make it true.
Contentment alone doesn’t make for an enjoyable life. Sure, sitting around on your bottom is great, especially when you’ve been working hard. In fact it makes it all the more enjoyable.
But as a 24/7-365 strategy? Not that exciting.
Drive makes a life exciting. Goals - done the right way - mean you feel alive. People are never happier when they feel like they’re improving and getting somewhere.
However, you need to be totally present and appreciative too with all this – otherwise you get stressed and overwhelmed and pressured and negative and live so far in the future you can’t see anything else. You get discontent when your focus stays on what you don’t have.
In getting anything, you also need to know when to rest, how to switch off the mind.
Furthermore, knowing how to attend to all the aspects of your life, not just one or two, is important – at least to me.
So many people solely focus on work and forget their health and relationships. Or focus on family alone, and not on what makes them alive.
You’ll see it taken to extremes in the (very cool) Netflix doc the Defiant Ones, about Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre. It’s about these amazing, talented music guys who are genius. It’s not a big part of the documentary, but it’s clear in several bits that they are so focussed on their work they spend a big chunk of their lives tuning everything and everyone else completely out.
Reading Lance Armstrong’s books even before the details of his drugs scandal broke was the same. It was obvious he would be a nightmare to try and have a relationship with, even just to be around, unless you bought solely into his super-focused and narrow vision of life.
I wonder if that sole dedication, focus and sacrifice is worth it?
Would you pay that price? To be a genius in one sphere of life but have everything else be neglected?
I’m not sure I would. But I’m happy with “good enough,” that idea that balance and good enough everywhere is way better than perfectionism in a small somewhere.
Anyhoo – I’m rambling now. What I’m trying to say is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Drive and contentment, focus and calm, peace and performance can all be yours.
You don’t need to make peace and performance and either/or situation, even if you choose to narrow your focus and be a world champion.
Go well! Arjuna
PS. Do you know what Iggy Pop answered when Anthony Bourdain asked him what thrills him, after a life of adventure?
“Being loved and actually appreciating the people that are giving that to me”, replied Iggy. Awesome.
I called my six-month programme of helping you transform your relationship with your mind and all aspects of your life “200%” because that’s what it gives you.
100% inner contentment, calm, happiness and focus leads to 100% of the rewards of life.
If you’re interested, drop me a line and I’ll let you know all the details.
I see a business recently introduced a four day work week (for five day's pay) across the board for all their employees. Before the six-month trial, just over 50% said they were balancing work and life demands. During the 4 day work week it jumped up to 78%. Stress dropped, commitment and productivity increased.
It’s kinda obvious though, isn’t it?
Less time at work means you can do the things you want to do at home. Being paid to work five days when you work four means the financials are the same, you just have more space.
The question that came for me is, “Would you work less for less stress and way better work-life balance but also less money??”
Would you quit that job in the city with the hour commute each way for a lesser paid job that meant when you got home you could actually see your kids rather than them be in bed, asleep?
Would you refuse to answer emails and work calls outside of business hours so you could fully and completely be with your family and loved ones in the evenings, as opposed to constantly being at work even when you’re at home?
What's your "Would you?" ... ?
The next question then is, when is it going to stop?
So many people I know talk about when, as in I’ll do something different “when and then” … when I pay off my debts then …, when I get that promotion then …, when I then I … humans in general live a life of when.
Tomorrow never comes does it? Your goal posts always shift. Which means “then” never happens. Sometimes you have to make when and then now … if you truly want it to happen.
I have no easy answers on this one, no simple follow your heart advice. I know what it’s like to have to work to get cash to pay the bills and then get back to work again because the bills aren’t stopping.
But I also know what it’s like to feel I have to work a job and/or conform to a particular working culture because there are no other options – when in reality, there are plenty of options, I’m just too scared to take them.
I also know contentment and space and peace and enjoyment and balance is worth more than any money.
Changing your life situations is sometimes necessary, but also changing your attitude is just the ticket.
Being present, not focusing on all the things you have to do and getting overwhelmed, is key. Stopping to smell the roses and appreciating all the things you do have instead of constantly chasing the next thing is also a huge part of it.
Working out what is truly important to you – to you – what you’re prepared to do and not do, is another chunk of it. Then you know when it’s time to say NO to one thing so you can say YES to everything else.
So often it appears as if there is no alternative. ut there always is. There always is. It’s just that it’s sometimes unknown – and that can be a little scary. Jumping in a taking a small step into the unknown is worth everything though. And you can always go back!
Go well! Arjuna
PS. I guess what I’m saying is examining your life, your attitudes, your ways of doing things is such a great idea. Taking time, regularly, to see if your life is happening the way you want it to is super valuable.
No one wants to be caught on a hamster wheel, but if you live unconsciously that certainly seems to happen, and quickly.
So stop – take stock. Talk about these things with your loved ones. It might be the most important change you make, and let me know how it goes for you.
My six month coaching transformation programme “200% of life” is starting up.
If you want to transform your relationship with your mind and all aspects of your life, to have focus, fun and freedom (and never again bewildered, miserable and stuck) then this is for you.
Get in touch and I’ll give you more details!
If you’re at all interested in the goings on of a tiny nation at the bottom of the world called New Zealand, like I am, you will know that the Prime Minister gave birth recently. How she runs a country and looks after a baby I know not. My hat is well and truly doffed to her. She must have some kind of superpower that I don’t possess. And a husband that is well and truly “in” and helping out.
I read an interview with said husband, a bloke (don't worry – all men in NZ are “blokes”) whose face in pictures is something to behold as he hobnobs with world leaders. He’s like a kid who expects to be discovered at any moment and kicked out, crossed with sheer awe how he managed to gain entrance in the first place. Then there’s the one where he’s with the rest of the leaders’ significant others, a man in a sea of women. Wonderful.
He was talking about favourite pieces of parenting advice... now, mine is don’t listen to any advice (which, ironically, is superb advice), but second best came from this interview.
Apparently while hobnobbing with the Obamas, Barack told him his secret to parenting (and presumably running a country?) is to not panic, and it’s ok to make mistakes.
Isn’t that cool?
The fact is, and this coincides nicely with an article in the paper the other morning …
… that talks about the rise of perfectionism and the crushing pressure it puts an increasing number of people under.
To me? Perhaps it's more to it than this, I am no psychologist (I can barely spell the word), but perfectionism is just another aspect of being afraid of making mistakes, afraid of failure.
A healthy concern for not messing up is a good thing me thinks … But if you, like me, have experienced being terrified of making any decision in case it’s the “wrong” one, or falling on my face in front of an audience of people, you will realise how de-habilitating being scared of mistakes is.
You’d rather hide and do nothing than put yourself in the way of “wrong” or “failure.”
But that’s not a life is it? I’ve learnt you have to get comfortable with the fact that you will make mistakes. In doing anything, you will mess up.
Here’s where YOUR choice comes in:
You can have the attitude that a mistake is further evidence of the end of the world, of your failure and your uselessness … or you can use it as a platform to get better, to improve, to learn from.
One is a downward spiralling mess of an attitude, the other gives you peace now, and firm ground for the future.
How do you change your attitude? Just through practice and presence. Through being aware of your mind and how it will always throw up these perfectionisms and expectations and ideas and insistences and shoulds.
When you are aware of them you have choice, you can ignore them and do something different. But being aware of them is a most excellent thing. You may not like that, I understand that, but without awareness it’s like trying to play tennis against an invisible opponent … almost impossible.
Through awareness you get to see your opponent and learn their wiley ways. A great thing – I get this might not be a comfortable thing, especially if your habit is to try and hide in some aspects of your life.
Knowing your own mind and being able to direct it where you wish is the key to a peaceful and effective life. Closing your eyes and being able to develop freedom of choice is essential.
Meditation then is one of the most important things you can regularly do. You’re not dropping out, you’re actually tuning in to the fullest degree.
Go well! Arjuna
PS. My new baby, a six month mind transformation programme (which I don’t have a name for yet) is due to be launched in the near future.
To be honest, I’m still sorting out details.
But it involves working closely with me over a long period of time and discovering how to transcend the limitations and judgements of your mind.
I went with six months because alongside guidance from me, time spent at the “coal face” practicing awareness and choice is essential. I wish I could give you a magic pill, but I can’t (and even those have un-wanted side effects). I can guide you, but you have to do the simple, and enjoyable, “work.”
If you’re interested?
Just hit reply and I’ll let you know all the details as soon as possible.
What ho! How’s things? Apologies for being missing in action recently. Sumati, Bubs and I went away for a week to an island off the west of Scotland called Arran. I thought I’d tee’ed up some emails to go out to you automatically, but looks like I didn’t. Sorry about that.
I tell you something – they have flies over there that bite so hard it hurts. My right arm is still sore and mega-itchy from a gang of flies that mugged me halfway up a mountain. But that’s the only thing that I have to complain about, what with all the sunshine, excellent food, amazing scenery and peoples.
One thing going on holiday does for me is gives me a sense of what’s important. Sure, I come back to an email inbox full to over-flowing, jobs to-do coming out me ears, but going away always gives me a sense of space.
Opening the newspaper and it’s the same madness and chaos that I left. Same stuff, different date. Same problems and challenges too. The thing that is so clear, and something I was talking about with a bunch of people in a video last night, is that the solution to all chaos, all struggle and problems, lies between your own ears.
Someone said that they feel that their mind is one of their biggest hindrances.
The fact is your mind is your ONLY hindrance. The game you play - the inner game - against negativity, limitation, judgement and whatever else is the only game in town. Master that, and you master all problems and stress.
Which is good news! Because you can’t always change the outside world. But you most certainly can learn to change your mind.
Alright? It all starts within. Peace or suffering? Within you. Change your mind, change your life. And good news indeed that is.
Go well, Arjuna
PS. I’m starting an endeavour, one that will not be for everyone - that’s for sure. It’s for the few select people who truly want to master their minds and transform their lives. It’s not a casual course by any means: the programme that we’ll go through is one-on-one and will last six months. It will involve you practicing meditation eyes closed and open every single day. It will be truly transformational.
If you’re interested? Send me an email (just hit reply) and we can talk more about it.
I want to tell you about three lines of words that I hold in great esteem:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. __________
You master those three things and life is sorted for you. Truly. I think serenity, acceptance, courage is pretty self-explanatory, so lets talk wisdom.
Wisdom is learning from your mistakes, and everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes aren’t the deal, it’s always what you do with them.
But the lesser known - and probably more powerful - source of wisdom comes the ability to tune into this moment in time and see what it needs. Seeing what it needs you do or don’t do, as the case maybe.
In helping others, for example, sometimes they need a fish, sometimes they need you to teach them how to fish.
Being present with expectations, prepared, if necessary, to jettison any plans means you can meet the need of this moment in time.
It also means you get to live the life you were born to live, and not the life you think you should live.
Do you see the difference?
You become a source of your own wisdom and guidance. You make take inspiration and guidance from outside sources, true, but you become the expert in your own life.
Instead of waiting for permission for example, you get down and get going on that thing.
Instead of finding out what the right thing is, you learn to know that for yourself.
It’s kind of the part of growing up that we’re not taught - instead often clinging to the apron of someone else’s opinion.
And I don’t mean that in an insulting way, not at all, but stepping up and stepping free means a lot for your life, it really does.
Become the expert of your own life, get super good at being present and wise. It is the best thing you can do for yourself, and everyone around you.
Promise! And what have you got to lose?
Go well, Arjuna
PS. Here’s how to make wisdom part of every single moment. A simple, idea packed free guide: https://mailchi.mp/60dbe4ffeccf/freedom-from-thinking-so-much