How this One Piece of Mama’s Advice can Change Your Life when Applied Fully

Remember when Mama said, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

You listened and you’ve done Mama proud.

You’ve minded your p’s and q’s. Dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. You’ve chosen words that have killed with kindness. You’ve been polite to a fault. And when you’ve struggled with something nice to say, you’ve said nothing.

There is however, one important point that I must draw your attention to. You forgot that mama’s sage advice also applies to the things you tell yourself. To the inner chatter. The ever present self-talk. Which if we are being totally honest, could do with an overhaul.

Communication in a relationship is extremely important because it dictates whether a relationship flourishes or flounders. No relationship in the world is more important than the one you have with yourself.

You are always talking to yourself. Sending yourself little messages throughout your day. If you could replace yourself with your best friend or a cherished loved one, would the words that comprise the body of your message build or break that relationship?

How you talk to yourself affects how you feel and act and this invariably affects the quality of your life.

“You become the architect and creator of the emotions you later experience through self-talk. Emotions do not come as the result of an observation or an experience but rather as the result of the things we say to ourselves about those situations. Thus, two people can have the same experience or observe the same event and come away with very different emotions.” ~ Marilyn Sorensen, Ph.D

Not only do you have to watch the words you use in conversation with yourself, but also the words you attach to your experiences because as Tony Robbins said, “the words that we attach to our experience become our experience.”

You are a creature of habit. Your habits help you get through your day. If every activity you encountered had to be faced anew, nothing would get done. It is for this reason that even though the English language contains some 500,000 words, the average person’s working vocabulary consists of only about 2,000 words.

Those 2,000 words form your habitual vocabulary. And out of your habitual vocabulary, you describe the various experiences you encounter using the same words. Over and over again. Unconsciously. Disregarding the experience’s intensity or lack thereof.

If the words you have attached to an encountered problem are daunting in nature like devastating or impossible then the solutions you are looking for must be equally so. Nobody is equipped to come up with those kinds of the solutions on a regular basis.

On the other hand, if the words you have attached to the problem convey hope and possibility like temporary inconvenience or minor hiccup, then mentally, a solution will always be within arms reach

Mastering your words and becoming cognizant of whether they are ‘useful’ or ‘not useful,’ ‘habitual’ or ‘transformational’ is crucial for your success.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Kathryn Stockett and your Mama said so. You are not a punching bag. For others or yourself. You deserve to hear words steeped in kindness from the outside and from the inside. And since you have no control over the external, you must take charge of the internal.

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Recognize

Find Your Lighthouse so You can Ignore the Sea

Life has its Lighthouse, in each fleeting stage,
In youth, in manhood, and in hoary age…
In age illum’d with philosophic flame,
From Reason’s Lighthouse still we steer the same;
Calm and serene our vessels onward glide,
And share the comforts of a middle tide;
Till, the last squall by fate’s own edict blown,
Death wrecks our vessels on a coast unknown.

~John William Smith~

The Lighthouse

A lighthouse. A tower. Always placed up high. In an important or dangerous place. Always equipped with a light that shines brightly. Its main purpose. Navigational assistance. The lighthouse is the traffic sign of the sea.

In life, when we get lost it’s not the lack of knowledge of where we are that presents the challenge but a loss of sight of where one was going and ultimately one’s loss of their sense of purpose, that opens the door for despair. For when we always have sight of our purpose, we know our current situation is only temporary.

As much as we try, and superficially succeed, to cast blame upon our circumstances, our decisions have gotten as to where we are or don’t want to be. Driving every action is a decision powered by an acknowledged or unacknowledged purpose.

Your purpose is your traffic sign on the high seas of life. Your ‘why’ guiding you forward. When you get lost, find yourself off track, your purpose brings you home. Your purpose is what allows you to say, I AM NOT LOST.

The Lighthouse Keeper

“Never judge a man’s actions until you know his motives.” ~Unknown

Your purpose is your lighthouse. You are the lighthouse keeper. You are the person responsible for tending and caring for your lighthouse.

You are the person responsible for ensuring that your lighthouse can propel you past exhaustion. Inspire you from the depths of despair. Give you a reason that keeps doubt a spectator and not an active participant.

You are the person responsible, for when your sea of dreams start to multiple and conflict, to provide signage that will give you clarity and guide you to the dream you must focus on now and the one that you must allow to wait or kick to the curb.

You are the person who must craft a lighthouse that keeps you focused on great and not distracted or settled by good.

You are the person that must ensure that your lighthouse keeps your feet firmly planted in the present while your mind grinds away on creating your future. Whose lighthouse must allow for the organization of thought around that which is unknown with the sole aim of making it no longer so.

When you delegate the responsibility of tending and caring for your lighthouse. You get lost more often than you should and stay lost longer than is beneficial. You lose momentum and flow. You end up at destinations that will always be unrecognizable. That bring you zero comfort.

How You Find Your Lighthouse

“He who has a why can endure any how.” ~Frederick Nietzsche

Mark Manson, NYTimes bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck offers this advice.

“Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.

So ask yourself, if someone put a gun to your head and forced you to leave your house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you choose to occupy yourself? And no, you can’t just go sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook. You probably already do that. Let’s pretend there are no useless websites, no video games, no TV. You have to be outside of the house all day every day until it’s time to go to bed — where would you go and what would you do?”

Others may be counting on you but even more important. You are counting on YOU. When you’re powered by a clear purpose, there is little you cannot do. When you’re powered by a clear purpose, you can ignore the sea.

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Recognize

I know You Are but What/Who Am I

Strategy. A plan. A tool of action. Designed to set the groundwork for the achievement of a desired goal.

Is strategy why winners win and losers lose? Is a great strategy all that has been standing in the way of you making a dent in the win column?

Benjamin Hardy, in this post, says our work is a reflection of us. He adds that, if one is not getting the results that they’re looking for, they should stop looking for better strategies and instead, look inside.

This makes perfect sense when you become aware that in the pursuit of that which you desire, you are the common denominator.

The pressure to act. To strike while the proverbial iron is hot, is voracious in its pursuit of us. Causing us to deem worthless the pursuit of self-awareness.

The painful result. We begin to act against our true nature. We become out of sync with how we speak, think and feel. This is critical for how we speak, think and feel influences how we act. Our actions determine our rewards.

Too often, we do things for the wrong reasons then prostrate ourselves at the altar of strategy in hope that it will be our saving grace.

You can adopt every lifehack and productivity tip that has been unearthed. You can absorb every self-help book, post or thought out there. You can mimic the strategies of all of life’s greatest achievers. It will all amount to waste if you lack the requisite knowledge of self.

The work, therefore, must be done to answer the question – Who Am I.

“As long as our habit patterns are hidden backstage, they will remain unchanged. As soon as we bring them up onto the stage of our mind and shine the spotlight of awareness on them, they will inevitably change.”~ Jan Chozen Bays

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How to Grant Calm Permission to Find You in the Midst of Chaos

“The music is between the notes, not in the notes.” ~ Robert Fripp

Imagine for a moment that you are listening to your favorite song. Imagine that song being sung with no pauses. If the song is an instrumental piece, imagine it being played with no rests.

The sound you would experience would undoubtedly be, a brutal assault on your ears.

Imagine listening to your favorite speaker. Imagine them speaking with no pauses. Just rambling on from word to word. Sentence to sentence.

Their intended meaning would be undecipherable.

Imagine yourself as a driver attempting to get from point A to B. Imagine doing so without letting your foot off the accelerator. Without heeding any traffic lights or signals.

The result would be sheer pandemonium and destruction. Not just to you but also to those around you.

When faced with chaos, most people are hard-pressed not to act. In the majority of chaotic situations though, action should first give way to pause. As Victor Frankl is quoted as saying “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When we choose instead to pause, we take back the power that chaos has attempted to seize and thereby grant calm, permission to find us.

A pause allows us to assign deeper and more conscious meaning to all next actions. To respond thoughtfully and with compassion as opposed to merely reacting.

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?” ~Lao Tzu

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10 Quotes to Remind you that Solitude is a Journey You must Undertake

What is it about being alone that freaks people out? Has noise become so soothing that we can’t live without it? Is the thought of having to endure one’s own company so fear inducing that it must be avoided at all costs?

We are by nature, social creatures. We crave interaction and connection. Without it, we are undeniably incomplete. Even the most solitary of us, at one point or another, has sort out contact.

Though we are social beings, we have a limited mental bandwidth. There’s only so much that we can handle at any given time. Our senses are being overwhelmed with information. Our identities are constantly fighting against external modification. There is only one remedy. Solitude.

Solitude should never be confused for loneliness.

Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. Loneliness is commonly defined as the feeling created by the discrepancy between one’s existing and desired social relationships. Loneliness drives people to seek connection to compensate for empty areas within themselves.

Solitude is a purely positive state.  It allows us to stand still and engage with our true self. Solitude restores, reignites and builds. It’s a springboard to greater self-awareness, greater creativity, fresh insights, and new growth.

In a world determined to craft your identity for you, solitude is an act of rebellion. An act of rebellion we must all embrace.

Here are ten quotes to remind you that solitude is a journey you must undertake.

| It is necessary for a man to go away by himself, to sit on a rock and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” ~Carl Sandburg 

| It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

| I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity. ~Albert Einstein

| Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines. ~Paul Brunton

| It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jon

| Without great solitude no serious work is possible. ~Pablo Picasso

| Children love to be alone because alone is where they know themselves, and where they dream. ~Roger Rosenblatt

| A little while alone in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you. ~Rumi

| The person who has not learned to be happy and content while completely alone for an hour a day, or a week has missed life’s greatest serenity. ~H. Clay Tate

Solitude can be frightening because it invites us to meet a stranger we think we may not want to know – ourselves. ~Melvyn Kinder

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Travel Light so You can Travel Far

In a child’s mind, the bogeyman tends to live in two places in their bedroom. In the closet or under the bed. My guy, a troll inspired slimy pile of yuck, lived under the bed. This thinking was exacerbated by the fact that in our house, under the bed was prime storage real estate.

Tender aged I made myself a vow. Nothing would ever be stored under any bed in my house. I’d like to believe that the seed of minimalism was planted then.

The other day my aunt gave me a gift. The gift is coming up on its twentieth anniversary this May. The gift – a copy of my college graduation program of events. An event she had attended and proudly indicated so on the cover.

The gift is no more. Simply because it brought me no value. This might sound harsh to some but everything I bring into my life must be questioned. It must have a purpose. It must add value.

What brings me more value is a picture I have of that day. A picture that is framed and displayed for all to see. She is in that picture.

What is Minimalism

… “It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.” ~Leo Babauta

… “The ability or practice of traveling light so you can travel far.” ~ Roe@Brownkids

… “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus 

… “Keeping what you need as opposed to what you want.

Why Minimalism

|“Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.” ~Tom Robbins

Humans, in all their pursuits, crave one thing. A better lifestyle. A lifestyle unanimously described as one in which happiness, fulfillment, and freedom take center court. Ownership affects lifestyle. Your lifestyle determines the degree to which happiness, fulfillment, and freedom will be experienced.

We Are All Minimalists

We may not be active participants, but at one time or another, we have all looked at an item in our possession. Deemed it to hold no value. And thrown it out.

This post calls on you to become more conscious of that action. Of what drove you to the point and what guided you through. I’ll hedge my bets on the reason being – you were in pursuit of freedom.

Minimalism is not a one-and-done act but a habit. A habit of eliminating what is not useful. For what is not useful, when held on too, becomes clutter.

Clutter is the antithesis of freedom.

A virus is a harmful or corrupting influence. Clutter is a virus. A virus that can effect a harmful mental, physical and emotional toll. So take some time and look at what you own.

Is it time to let some things go? Is time, not to create more space, but to own less crap? Is it time to start feeding your freedom and not restocking your prison?

Should you embark on this journey, please remember that there is no magic number.  Also, the number cannot be assigned to you. “The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence.” ~Duane Elgin

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Two Four Letter Words You Need To Differentiate

What are you plagued by? I can’t or I won’t.

I can’t get out of bed or I won’t get out of bed.

I can’t walk a mile or I won’t walk a mile.

I can’t win this race or I won’t win this race.

There is a difference.

“I can’t” stems from a lack of skill. An expression of inability, incapacity, or impossibility.

“I won’t” stems from a lack of will. A deliberate choice not to act.

“I can’t” is rooted in helplessness.

“I won’t” is rooted in responsibility.

Non-achievers use the word “can’tto make excuses. Especially when what we have to face is courting our fears, rattling or comfort zone or calling for a sacrifice that we are unwilling to endure.

Achievers use the word “can’t as a signal that a skill gap exists. The gap is an obstacle in their path that must be bridged.

With every “I can’t” we sell ourselves short. We create a habit of negative thinking and failure. Straddling ourselves with “I can’t” ensures that our success will be doomed before it gets a chance to start.

The words you choose can determine your success. Be conscious of the one’s you chose.

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What you Claim Ownership of Reveals What you Value

When was the last time you took a rental car to the car wash? The odds favor a response of zero. Why? There is zero pride of ownership.

When instant cake mix was first marketed in the 1950’s it was even easier to use than it is today. Mothers and homemakers alike were not enthused. Sales were a non-starter.

What was the problem? By making it so incredibly simple, mothers and homemakers alike lost their pride of ownership. Made from scratch was a big deal. To fix this, the company had to make the cakes less easy to make. Giving the bakers something they could claim as their own.

Effectual ownership is rooted in honesty. Honesty is a crucial first step to personal growth because it allows you to acknowledge that “Everything you have in your life is what you want.” [Benjamin P. Hardy]

Those extra pounds you’re carrying. That dishonest relationship you’re keeping. That habit you just can’t seem to quit. That dismal paycheck. That paralyzing fear you’re holding on to. That skill you cry about lacking. All those things you’re whining about. Make no mistake. You have them because they are what you want.

Take a moment and let that sink in.

Donald-Glover-Sudden-Realization-Gif-On-Community.gif

Thomas Jefferson said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” This quote has been repeated feverishly and passionately with an extreme focus being placed solely on action.

Action is important for nothing can be achieved without it, however;

… Action without ownership will have you moving one step in 20 directions when what you need to do is take 20 steps in one direction.

… Action without ownership has a temporary lifespan as it relies on willpower and desire as a motor. Both always short in supply.

… Action without ownership will give in and give up when the going gets tough.

… Action without ownership leaves your destiny up to the will of the gods, mere circumstance or even worse, in the hands of others.

Ownership is inherently motivating. This life is yours. Your responsibility. Its ownership should never be outsourced as that’s a surefire way to lose sight of your true north.

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SNAP OUT OF IT! Your life is not Supposed to be like the Stories you Read

We are story junkies. Who can blame us. Just for starters, great stories inspire and motivate. Teach and persuade. Entertain and distract. The greater the story, the greater the emotion expressed.

Our proclivity for great stories though comes with a warning from Kurt Vonnegut. A story-teller whose creative vehicle was writing. His career spanned over 50-years, and at one of his talks, he said, “People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.

He uses the story of a little girl who lost her mother to illustrate his point.

The death of her mother and the introduction of a stepmother and two stepsisters who treat her unkindly cause her to experience the lowest of lows. A ball is announced. She is not invited. Still feeling low.

giphyA fairy godmother steps in for the rescue. She gets a dress and a coach and off to the ball she goes where she dances with a prince. What a high.

Midnight strikes. She has to leave the ball. Back to her miserable life. The high dissipates. But all is not lost. She has a glorious memory. (It will be used to measures the worthiness of other events. Just watch)

Short story even shorter. Shoe. Prince. Happily ever after. Highs through the roof. This is the life.

You know this story. It’s the greatest rags to riches story out there. It and many others that have been based (loosely or otherwise) around it are almost always guaranteed to be box office gold. We just can’t stop sucking this stuff up.

The Source of the Drama

Vonnegut concludes that  “because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

If your life is not composed of high highs and low lows, relax. You are not getting the short end of the stick. For the majority of us, life is not overly fantastic or overly drastic. We are doing just fine if not better than what social media would have you believe.

Your life is not a fairytale. Your life is not supposed to be like the stories you read.  If it was you would be a pill popping, barely functioning member of society. Trying hard but constantly failing to cope with the constant emotional swings.

You would also be a card carrying member of the drama creating society and our job in return would be to avoid you like the bubonic plague. You don’t want this. You should never want this. You’re a social creature. You need us.

If you read something great, be informed by it. Never allow yourself to be consumed by it.

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Suffering is Optional

I have a friend. She had a guy in her life. He did this, that and the other. He caused her pain. She was hell bound on finding out why. Answers were not forthcoming.

She refused to accept this. Pain was allowed to fester. Suffering emerged from its wound. It took a firm foothold. She lost sight of her future. So I asked her a question – what if the answers never come?

There is a Buddhist teaching that says that when you get hurt, say, by an arrow, that is pain. The arrow hitting your arm causes pain. There is, however, a second arrow. Your reaction. Your reaction to the arrow and consequently to the pain. The getting angry. The planning revenge. That goes beyond pain. That is suffering.

Sakyong Mipham in The Myth of Permanence says “We suffer because we are projecting the myth of permanence upon a situation that is actually conditioned, selfless, and constantly changing.”

Most of us have it engraved in our minds that there should always be an answer. An explanation for every hurt. There isn’t. This should not cause you to worry for nothing is permanent.

Pain in inevitable. Suffering is a choice. A choice mistakenly worn like a badge of honor. Suffering does not grant legitimacy. Suffering prevents you from moving on. From growing. From learning. From healing. From winning.

Pain can sure take you to hell but suffering is what keeps you there. Suffering allows for a repeat performance of what caused the original pain. The creation of a vicious circle.

Pain is inevitable. Pain is simply a reaction. Suffering, on the other hand, is completely up to you.

“Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t “should’ve” done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!” – Steve Maraboli

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