Recently I attended a seminar by Klemmer & Associates called Personal Mastery where I had the opportunity to explore many of the belief systems I held in my head. My approach was not to accomplish anything in particular, but to be open and available to allowing my mind to be changed. With that mindset, Klemmer put me through a clinic that fundamentally altered my thought patterns and the feelings I associate with that which is not connected. Here are some of my realizations that I feel may help those who want to have more emotional health.
I was once (and on many levels, still am) obsessed with Fight Club. The David Fincher movie is phenomenal, and I cannot suggest you read Chuck Palahniuk’s book enough. The counter-cultural tones that this story took on resonates strongly with my being. This seminar helped me fine tune that connection and comprehend why I related so strongly. I have the tendency to take an approach to life that relies upon the appreciation of others. There is a voice that tells me to go after accomplishment x because that defines success. Once I achieved x, that voice was right there to tell me to go after y. But what if my true self is uninterested in the alphabet of accomplishments? What if my true self felt more satisfaction with accomplishing that which society doesn’t necessarily categorize as success? I learned that although I may have needed to obtain x and y for my wellbeing, I am not defined by it. I am able to see decisions I make through my very own lens by understanding who I am and what I want more clearly.
“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Truer words of wisdom have seldom been spoken. It seems trivial, and I don’t really mean to wax poetic, but the reality of life is that time continues on while we are trying to ‘figure our shit out’. I propose that our shit is already figured out. We have figured it out long ago, and we have made our decisions based on what we have figured out. If you aren’t satisfied, you need to consider what it is that you figured out long ago that took you to this point. The decisions we make are guided by our underlying purpose which we live by. I have thought a lot about what my purpose is that drives my decisions in life forward. Here’s what I came up with: My purpose is to evoke a shared perspective that brings forward positive change in the world. All that I do is revolving around those words. Sometimes are harder than others to tie my actions to that principle, but I’m committed to a lifetime of practice in it.
Often times I look at what I do and who I am, thinking, ‘why am I not doing more?’ It’s like I have an expectation of myself that I am not meeting although I am accomplishing everything that I seek. What is the reason for this disconnect? The problem is not me, the problem is my mindset. My limiting belief system that told me if I were going to be great, I would have done it by now was weighing me down. That internal dialogue held me back from contributing all that I had to contribute to the world. It had me pulling away from situations that challenge me and kept me down that path most traveled. If I want to live my purpose and be a great person, I am going to have to make different decisions about what exactly I do and how I think. There is no ceiling on the growth of humanity, compassion, or care. So, why put a limit on my expectations when I approach any opportunity? I have changed my mentality around the possibilities of my growth in order to attain greater results given the same opportunities that I’ve had before.
I am a firm believer in extreme empowerment on many levels of personal growth. What I mean by that is simple: you have the ability to change almost every aspect about your life. I am constantly revising the way I think, eat, and live in order to better suit my happiness. With this concept comes a constant internal revision process and continuous challenges to change. Fortunately, there are a magnitude of tools and principles to employ that naturally brings about a constant flow towards being happy.
I recently returned from Burning Man which taught me more than I could ever begin to describe. Within the context of personal empowerment, I learned about my significant ability to accomplish goals and impact others. Everyone has a personal modus operandi which they employ to move forward in life. Take a long look at what you do to get to the end of any task, cut out the fat, and streamline your thinking/doing process. I also realized how significant other actors can be in my outcomes. It dawned on me how impactful a gift could be, and what significant alteration a single interaction with someone can have on a life. Approach others as if they held the key to happiness. Treat your relationships as sacred and use them as a platform to lift your spirit and your capabilities.
Change should be considered a certainty along with death and taxes. It’s here and will continue to come regardless of resistance. It’s vital to embrace and direct change to the best of your ability in order to generate the results you ultimately desire. There are always challenges and obstacles that arise throughout life which must be overcome. Take a long look at the changes occurring now, changes that are likely to come, and potential changes we have no control over. Analyze those changes and decipher what kind of impact they will have on your life. Having a better understanding of these changes can assist your decision making skills and put you on the path to maximum happiness.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
One of the most vital pieces of information I have acquired is that I know close to nothing. Once I was able to hold this in my mind, I was able to learn exponentially more and get far more help than overestimating my knowledge. Simply acknowledging that I have a very specific skillset and background empowered both my ability to contribute to those around my and their ability to contribute to me. Never again will I hesitate to ask questions or say that I don’t understand. Information is power and to obtain either requires an openness to that which you do not know and cannot control.
There are currently a magnitude of different life aspects I have applied my new way of thinking to. My new approach has led me down avenues I never before thought possible. I have made staggering progress in achieving my goals and dreams which I can easily see and articulate. Constant personal revision for an improved pathway to happiness is vital for my way of living. Incorporating this thought provocation and purpose driven approach has set me up to enjoy each day more than the last. If any of this rings true or sounds bogus, message me and let me know how you feel!
The last two weeks I spent 12 hours per day with the same group of people chanting and yelling. Each of us began as complete strangers which rapidly changed given the duration of the time we spent together. There was nothing truly significant about this particular group of people that made them behave the way they did. Granted, some general stereotypes can be applied anywhere you look. What was significant was the attitudes that were on display towards one another.
WCMS is a credit union education program that promotes the movement’s values. Anyone can put on a class and fill it with useful information (which they did an excellent job at). What WCMS excelled at was promoting a positive learning environment. They set expectations that were intangible which students were generally expected to live up to. This is really difficult to do and even more difficult to describe, but it was the cornerstone of the entire program.
We learned early that there were many people who were very involved in the school. Of all those people, not one contributed a negative look or word to one another. Classes threw events that were geared towards inclusion and participation. Being part of a team is a daunting task. It’s important that the expectation of non-judgmental inclusion and participation without risk of reprimanding or embarrassment is set early. Without that, there really won’t be a great team atmosphere where members are willing to contribute their all.
There are many ways to generate that environment. The desired result is pretty simple: be nice. Everyone has a workplace horror story of having to collaborate with the office asshole. If we want to pull the most out of each employee, we can’t allow an overly harsh or terse communicator to pull down the moral of individuals. We need an accepting and open environment where our people are willing to take risks on behalf of the company without fear of any form. Allowing fear to seep into a culture spells disaster for innovation and growth.
The idea of having the expectation to be overtly nice and courteous is a base requirement. Don’t make excuses for those who inject fear to your organization. We need all people on the payroll to be as happy as possible to maximize productivity. Accept people for who they are, make it known that everyone is expected to accept their peers for who they are, and structure your environment to promote pleasantly courteous attitudes. The age of the temper tantrum or whip cracking is well over. Move into the current era of work places where your people can’t wait to get there every day.
I have always thought differently. I remember, in high school, I had a fantastic social studies teacher Mr. Combs. In his class we were learning about political beliefs, what they were, how to define our own, and most importantly why we thought that way. He would separate the room into left or right and allow a brief debate about why each side felt the way they did. I found myself standing alone in many instances. Today, I don’t stand alone. I do stand apart.
Stereotypes and structure are not insurmountable aspects in any way shape or form. In developing a relationship with my girlfriend, I disrupted the preconceived ideas about what a relationship should be early on. If she wanted to be a part of my non-traditional lifestyle, she would have to be part of my non-traditional way of thinking. In having a radically honest conversation about what I was looking for in a relationship we became spiritually intertwined in a way.
Radical honesty is one tool I use to raise questions about what we do and why we do it. In my girlfriend’s situation, I was looking to find out whether she was or is capable of being stronger than me. Simply because society has shaped our thought patterns to think of women as less physically or emotionally sturdy than men doesn’t make it so. Fortunately, she is a stronger person than I could ever dream of becoming. It took raising the question for both of us to realize what the full potential was that lay before us.
“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” – Albert Einstein
This principle of questioning the norm can be applied to all kinds of situations (not just relationships). It should have been applied sooner in the slave trade. We don’t challenge enough when it comes to LGBT rights and inherent prejudice build into our public social structure. Companies play follow the leader rather than taking the initiative to lead themselves. In the corporate world, were afraid to stick out like a sore thumb. However, it is usually the outliers who are capable of the greatest growth and reward.
Change is resisted by most. We are, after all, creatures of habit. The only way I am able to learn and grow as a citizen of the world is to undergo change. Understanding for our fellow citizens is not an inherent quality. We need to step out of our comfort zone to be able to empathize with all walks of life. Don’t be afraid to think or act differently. Change, uncertainty and growth is what the human experience is all about.
Staying motivated through everyday life can be difficult at times. We all start out with the best of intentions and, slowly but surely, we lose steam. Luckily, there is always a way to keep yourself moving in the right direction. Through some mental gymnastics we can continue on a path of growth towards success in every aspect of our life.
My first tool that I use to maintain my motivation in photography (or other facets) is to eliminate the noise around me. There are a lot of unnecessary contributors to our stress and fatigue that take energy away from our passion. Get rid of them. Easier said than done, granted, but aggressively eliminating the parts of life that don’t contribute to happiness as much as its replacement will improve life’s quality. Take the difficult steps of dropping the parts that aren’t as beneficial as they once were or as they should be.
Second, refuse to compromise on what adds happiness to your life. Whether you began photography (or whatever else) for practicality or for fun, it should contribute to your overall mood in a positive way. Be unwilling to give up the dopamine boost for anything less satisfying. Now and then we need to make sacrifices, but overall allow your passion to reign supreme over all else.
“The Way To Get Started Is To Quit Talking And Begin Doing.” -Walt Disney
Third, change individual aspects of your photography (or whatever else you’re doing). Keep things fresh! If you usually just take pictures of landscapes, go out on a street photography shoot. Schedule a portrait session with a friend. Change anything and everything about your hobby to keep yourself interested, learning, and growing. The world and its people are forever constantly changing; you have to change what you do to keep up.
Motivation can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but it can also be a catalyst to success and happiness. Find what creates happiness inside you and do more of it. Eliminate the rest. Constantly strive for that happiness and don’t compromise if you don’t have to. Seek out change to reestablish your passion. Go out and do things differently in order to maintain a positive projection of happiness.