Finding Your True Purpose

I believe that as a collective and as individuals in this collective today find ourselves in a place unseen in modern human history.  Stress, anxiety, rage, anger, fear, depression, hatred, distrust, resignation, selfishness on an individual level are more prevalent than ever. 

The energetic vibration these emotions emit are very, very low and can quite literally be as contagious as a virus.  We are seeing the result of this, even though we cannot see it being transmitted.

Shootings keep hitting new records daily.  Lootings.  We see innocent individuals pushed in front of subway trains for no logical reason.  We see alt-right hate groups using this energy for intimidation and to sow the seeds of divisiveness.  Road rage is the norm. 

It is possible, more often than not, to feel the stress and anger as you drive anymore.  You see it.  But more importantly, you feel it.  When this happens, the energetic frequencies we emit are being collected and amplified by the collective.

This has a very real and very terrible impact on both each other but the world in which we live.  Climate change is real, however, the environmental calamities that are now daily are fueled by this negative energy.  Like California wildfires that are fueled by strong winds. 

Coups are happening in Asia and Africa, tsunamis, hurricanes, and glaciers the size of Delaware are falling off continental ice shelves. Missile tests are ramping up in North Korea.  Syria.  Iran.  Troops are massing in eastern Europe.  Clouds of war are gathering on that eastern horizon.  China continues to ethnically cleanse Wieger populations unabated. The energy this all emits is energetically the same as assaults on the U.S. capital and drug cartel murders in northern Mexico.  There is little to no difference.  Imagine all this as a cacophony of energetic noise amplifying and echoing in hard-surface room.  At some point, it becomes unbearable.

You See, Everything is in Fact, Tied Together

 Have we reached a tipping point, individually and collectively?  We cannot say but it feels like we are close.  Can we walk back from the brink we now stand near?

That is always possible, but it begins with each of us.  Me.  You.  We have to work on ourselves first.  When we raise our energy, we improve our own realities.  When we do that, we improve our collective energies.  Like attracts like.  The energy of love and compassion can cancel out the energetic pollution we are living in today.

Where Do You Find Yourself Right Now?

Is it right?  Is it what suits you? 

Or does something seem a little off.  Lacking.  Do you feel a tinge of sadness or possibly, resignation that subtly passes by your consciousness from time to time?

You have heard the old axiom, ‘Change is the only constant.’  That is true well beyond what you might believe. 

This Is In Part, A Personal Story

There are things in my life which have come into focus.  Vestiges of a previous reality, a previous set of patterns, habits, beliefs, and activities that no longer serve me, nor suit me.  They are the remnants of the false life with false goals and a false façade. 

For an extended period of time, I chose to each day get up and put on the clothes of another person, pursue the career of another, attempt to solve problems I was not suited to solve. 

The consequences of this was an accumulation of…plaque. A veneer put down layer by layer which kept me trapped in that reality and conforming to the standards which it imposed. 

As I delved into an inner journey of discovery, I began to see differently.  As the sun climbs above the horizon and the dark slowly retreats from the pink and orange light of pre-dawn, the actions of my false life took shape in the form they were, rather than as they had appeared in the past.  What I thought was my path, as the clear light began to shine was no path at all.  It was instead a bramble of thorns and thickets, clawing and tearing at me at each step.  Holding me back from walking with ease. 

Maybe you have been here.  Maybe you are here.  Maybe you ask yourself, “why is this so hard?  Why do I constantly feel like I am running in sand?  Why do I no longer feel happy?  Why am I-exhausted?”

And, if you really listened, you would hear from deep down inside you the silent whisper from your heart.  “This isn’t for you.  You are in the wrong place.”

But often, as in my case, that silent whisper is lost in the noise of the mind which loudly declares the foolishness of listening to a whisper, after all, it isn’t real. 

Your mind cajoles you.  It activates the movie studio in your head and goes into production mode.  Soon you are deluged with short films of the dire circumstances which will most certainly unfold if you don’t be a good solder and stay the course. The uncertainty of change is far worse that the discomfort of today’s reality.  You have responsibilities.  An income.  A reputation.  If you do something foolish and change course, you may lose all of that and here is what that looks like.  Cue the visualizations and scenarios of your worst dreams.  Your stomach cramps at the thought of it.

When this happens, you go back to sleep.  Back on auto pilot.  Back to the pattern of yesterday, which becomes a dirty smudge bleeds into today and then tomorrow.

The whisper is gone and with that, your mind shuts the door to your heart.  Your mind, your ego has control, and it does not like change.

What if you listened to that whisper?  What if you followed the sound to its source, so that it became louder and louder?  What is the worst thing that would happen?  Would you have to move?  Downsize your house?  Let go of the lease on the BMW?  Would your spouse think less of you?  If you made a change, would colleagues stop calling you?  Would any of this really matter?

When you wake up and apply intention without applying any importance to it but instead allowing it to simply be, it becomes impossible to delude yourself into believing that these patterns serve you well or are at least are ok.  You will see where you find yourself and what you are doing for what it is.

You can choose to either shrug your shoulders and continue to act out the robotic actions of the play you are acting in, which is not your true path, or you can instead, drop the script, remove the costume and step off the stage.

Ponder this.  Why do you think that following your heart, changing direction, leads to dire circumstances?  Sure, things get messy before they get clean.  The best moments in our lives are not the passive, safe and predictable times.  The best moments usually occur when a person’s mind and body are stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.  The way out is not where the pressure is.  The way out is where the pressure is not. 

When you put one foot out on that new path, do it with intention yet don’t give it too much importance.  Rather, understand what is occurring is natural.  You are beginning to align with higher frequency energy.  You are beginning to walk with the wind instead of against it.

As you reflect on all of this, what is the energy you feel?   Close your eyes and put this to your heart. 

Don’t think.  Feel. 

What Patterns Are Running In Your Life? Do They Suit or Serve You?

The key to not getting lost or reverting is as simple as listening to the whisper of your heart.  Do not give anything too much importance, remain awake and intentional.

With this said, you have a heart and a mind.  They are a collective.  Do not listen to one and ignore the other.  Don’t simply trade your heart for your mind.  Find the places they agree and fall into alignment.  The heart is the what, the mind is the how.

Once you locate your heart’s whisper, allow your mind to re-engage and observe the whisper and what it is imparting.  Do not let it judge.  Just observe.  The heart’s skill is in the what.  The mind’s skill is in the how.  Do not allow your mind to dictate the what.  Only provide the illustration on the how. 

Allow your heart and mind to work together.  You will know when this happens.  You will feel it and slowly your energy will shift to higher levels.  After a time, your reality will begin to shift.  It will not change right away.  You cannot control when it will, as it will do so on its own accord.  The laws and actions of the energetic universe go far beyond what we can comprehend or understand that even attempting is a fool’s errand.  Just know that when it feels right, it likely is right.

Importance

If you give anything too much importance, you will upset the energetic balance you’ve put in motion.

Do not give anything too much importance.  Explore whatever it is you are dealing with, feel it, understand it, work with it, respond to it, but let the importance go.

Wake Up

This one is simple. See things as they are not as you want them to be.  Do not go onto autopilot.  Do not zone out.  Be present.  Move beyond your mind and feel.  Taste.  Smell. Hear.  Feel your clothes on your arms.  Be aware of the baseball cap on your head.  Feel the impact of your stride.  Feel the road vibration moving through your car and you.  Hear the sounds you’ve ignored before, a breeze moving through the pine trees nearby.  Find your energy meridian.  Search for this energy moving through your body.  Breathe.  Hear it.  Feel it.  Wake up.

Intention

Have a purpose.  Why do you want to walk a new path?  What do you seek that serves you and suits you?  What do you want?  What does the thing you want look like?  What does it feel like?  Sound like?  Envision both the destination and the journey.  Know what the journey feels like.  What does the path look like?  What are the signs you see that change is afoot?  Give gratitude knowing this evolution is at play.  Give the gratitude you would give if it were fully manifested.  Each step of the journey large and small is manifesting so the gratitude you give is not for what’s to come, it is for what is already underway.

You have to choose this.  If you want it.  You want to have to wake up and see the world, yourself and how you are connected as they are, not as you believe it to be as part of the day dream most of us live within.

You do not have to change to raise your energy and find your true path and purpose. 

The big lie is for things to get better, you have to change.  No.  You just have to change what’s around you and what you choose to do with it.  You are part of nature and are no different than the eagle or magnificent waterfall.  The universe and the intelligent force behind it is in all of us, everything.  Those things were made with intention and their own form of perfection.  Why are you any different?  Do you really think you were made imperfect and without purpose on purpose?

You Can Impact The World Beyond Own Reality

There is perhaps another critical reason to consider a new approach to living. 

Ever say to yourself sometime in the past, “I want to change the world.”

This is your chance.

The world to stay is in a profoundly unstable place.  The energy we as a global society are now emanating is likely lower as a collective than perhaps at any previous time in the last 50 years. 

Couple this with the damage we have done and continue to wreak on our planet, it too finds itself in growing duress. 

Can Mother Nature take care of herself?  Yes.  Will that happen at our expense as a species?  No way to tell.  However, we cannot and should not be so insular in our approach to assume we as humans are exempt from paying even steeper prices than of late. 

Personal improvement is directly tied to societal improvement.  Meditation, balance, harmony and well-being, can be a cure for our personal, societal and even many of our environmental ills.

Figure Out How Meditation Can Work For You And Do It Often

Meditation, is a practice of clearing out the daily mental garbage to boost your mental health. Simply put, think about quieting your mind from the constant chatter it generates. 

Studies actually prove the existence of a ripple effect of peace in the surrounding environment when a group meditates together. This ripple effect is what I am talking about. It is very real.  Books such as Power versus Force by Dr. David R. Hawking and many others meticulously document these realities.  I recall a conversation with Bhanu Narasimhan, who travels around the globe to conduct meditation retreats and teacher training, about this ripple effect.

She says, “It is not about individuality or even certain sections of society. It is all about recognizing that we are all connected and part of one universal being. We all are governed by vibrations.

A happy person can make us happy and an unhappy person spreads unhappiness. When glaciers melt due to global warming the water levels rise around the planet. Global warming is such a glaring reminder that we cannot isolate ourselves.”

Embrace The Ripple Effect Of Energy

Certain sound waves can cancel out others.  This is how noise cancellation headphones work.  Energy works the same way.  At the most elementary level, the gist is that positive energy can cancel out negative. 

The Russian scientist, Dr. Konstantin Korotkov, a professor of physics at St. Petersburg State Technical University explains how you can influence the world around you with your mind in ways that are nearly identical to what is outlined in texts such as Power versus Force.

According to the superstring theory in physics, waves of vibration flow from everything in the universe, affecting the collective consciousness of others. Groups can enliven that field.

Group meditation can be similar to a tug of war. You are all pulling on the same side, a certain synergy of energy is created, and a common goal is achieved. It is the same when you meditate together: the collective consciousness raises, and it acts like the ‘rising tide that raises all boats.’

Think about the impact that you can have in doing this.

But What Happens When Many Start To Wake Up And Do This?

These studies have shown extremely positive social, political and economic results correlated to synchronized group meditations.

For instance, an experiment conducted during the Lebanon war in the 1980s showed that when 1,000 people in Jerusalem meditated on world peace, war deaths in Lebanon went down by over 75%. Not only did war deaths go down, but crime and other destructive happenings also went down on the days the group meditated.  This is one of hundreds of such examples.

You can choose to brush all this aside or dispel it as rubbish if you like, just as the Inquisition did when confronted with the concept that the earth was not flat, nor was it the center of the universe but instead orbited around the sun. 

What we believe to be true is often based on such infinitesimally small amounts of information or worse, a complete lack of information which is instead supplanted with bias. 

To dismiss the possibility of these improvements using concepts and tools available which are found on this pathway, would be akin to rejecting the notion that Vitamin D does not exist simply because it carried through the invisible rays of energy which originate from the sun.

Where Do We Start?

First, each of us must find the peace-synchrony ourselves.  Then and only then, spread it.

If we are not in balance and harmony ourselves, it is impossible for us to project balance and harmony any more than a person caught in a fit of rage can simultaneously be loving to himself or others.

So, take a step to change by following this simple set of guidelines. 

You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

The Power in Purpose

What would you do if you were on top of your game, successful in achieving the results you wanted with your career, considered an industry leader, doing all the right things and secure in your life then in a matter of hours it all comes to an abrupt and unexpected halt.

What if everything you had worked so hard went away in an instant? Your savings. Your reputation. Your friends. Your direction. Would you collapse? Would you implode?

Think about this for a moment. What would you do?

Sometimes you have to go through the worst experiences of your life to get to the best, but along the way you have to grow. You have to trust in yourself and your place in the universe. You have to believe that you have not yet tapped into your reason for being-your purpose. However, getting there isn’t all that easy. However, it is possible.

That is what Episode 4 is all about. Finding Your True Purpose.

Starting Over.

I had this blog post written and deleted all of it but the introduction, which is above. 1,178 words. Three hours of work.

Why did I do this?

It was well written and compelling.

The problem is it was all bullshit. So I started over. There was nothing wrong with the content. Actually had I published it, it may have been helpful to quite a few. The issue was it was disingenuous. Finding true purpose in life is like trying to find your way in the dark. I wasn’t there yet myself and writing like I was wasn’t what I wanted to publish.

As the Field Guide for The Chosen Path, my job isn’t to be a teacher, it is to be a guide. That’s it.

My path in many respect has been a lot like Tom’s. With very important exception.

Tom knew what his purpose was and his path to that illuminated. Mine has been a bit more murky. There was no real defined ‘moment’ for me or so I thought. Maybe you can identify with that. Something in my life has been off. Perhaps recognizing that something was off was my ‘moment’. I don’t know.

Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes

I started to live someone else’s life a long time ago. I was taught that being creative was a weakness, so I put it in a drawer. Being an entrepreneur, a tech start up CEO was a strength, so that is what I did. It wasn’t who I was, I was marginal at it and I hated it. I just wouldn’t admit to myself that I was wearing someone else’s clothes. I was living essentially a lie because it wasn’t who I really was. It was instead a costume I put on.

Realizing and more importantly accepting this was a turning point. Not only was I on the wrong path, I was on the wrong side of the mountain. I had never given myself permission to embrace what felt right and choose that path. That is, until I finally woke up and gave myself that permission.

Keep in mind, only you hold this power. Thinking that others hold this power over you is an illusion. Ignore what you see and think and follow your heart. I had to learn that.

I had won a global award for innovation. I held 10 patents. So what? Today, I couldn’t tell you where this plaque is and I don’t care.

Siri says turn left

The best way to describe it is like this. Imagine you are in a city you don’t live in but have visited several times before, and are navigating to a destination in a rental car. You’ve punched the coordinates in and are getting the instructions, but you think you recognize a landmark and ignore the directions. You get irritated with the instructions to make a U-Turn and turn navigation off. Instead, you follow what you think is right. Because you are convinced you are right until you come to your senses and admit you have no bloody idea where you are.

Only when you admit to yourself you are hopelessly lost that you turn the navigation back on and follow the instructions. When you do this, you admit to yourself you are lost and you cede control and await your instructions which will get you on the right path.

Anything Resonating?

Hopefully, at least one person will relate to this. If this is you, read on.

At some point, I realized that who I was wasn’t who I was. I was on the wrong path. I was lost. So I decided to take off the ego, the trappings and beliefs that I had donned myself with that were not mine and set them down. Then I sat down on the path, closed my eyes and listened for something. I knew I’d recognize it when I heard it. I was listening for a sign from the universe about which direction to head.

This is the hard part. Really hard. Stop listening to your mind and start listening to your heart. Your mind doesn’t want to lose control so it won’t shut up. It will throw the kitchen sink at you. Be sure of that but eventually it starts to quiet. Long enough for you to hear what you’ve been listening for. Mind you, when you get up and start to walk a different direction, your mind won’t stay silent. Prepare for plenty of sneak attacks.

The odd thing is your mind isn’t concerned with your happiness or well being. It is only concerned with maintaining control and remaining entrenched in the patterns that are familiar. Change is bad for the mind, even is change is the right thing for the soul.

Read that again.

So, if you are on a new path or even if you have sat down and are listening for new directions, do not give up. Do not go back, no matter how hard or scary it is right now. Forge ahead.

Some of you may think this is all stupid new-age stuff. That’s fine. We all choose our own paths. Just remember that what we physically see is an infinitesimally small portion of reality. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there or accessible. There are better alternatives out there for each of us. We simply need to recognize that and to choose different.

Finding Purpose.

Finding my true purpose began with taking off everything I was wearing that didn’t belong to me. It continued with sitting down and listening (both figuratively and literally). The last year has been tumultuous to say the least. Because it has filled with change. However, I know I am on the path where my purpose lies, because I see signs of it nearby all around me.

Look for the Signs.

Toxic people will leave your life. The universe doesn’t want them there. Their energy doesn’t resonate with your new path.

The right people miraculously show back up because their energy does resonate. These people will play a role in your new journey and you finding your purpose. Know that to be true.

The headwinds you have been fighting externally will lessen or go away (this does not mean you don’t create your own in your head, you will. Just recognize it and cede control back to the universe. You are not in charge. All you get to do is chose and then act.)

Synchronicities start to happen.

Signs of your purpose will start to appear. Look for them. They will not be obvious.

Follow Your Signs and Your Purpose Will Appear.

Another word picture for you…Think of this this process like walking through the woods where you find yourself hopelessly lost. What do you do once you realize you are for-real-lost?

First you sit down and calm yourself. Shut your mind off. Listen.

You hear water nearby. Getting up, you find a brook flowing down hill. You follow it to a larger stream, which runs through a valley. You follow the flow of the water. Listening again, you hear off in the far distance, faint as hell, the rumble of a semi using its engine brake. It is so far off you almost missed it. But you didn’t. You heard it.

Follow the river to where you heard the engine. You are closer and hear another. That truck is on a road, which leads to civilization. You are still in the woods, but you have direction. You have signs you have recognized. You are no longer lost.

So if you feel out of sorts, perhaps you are on the wrong path. Find a new direction by following your heart. Be vigilant for the signs your purpose has left for you. You will find your way home and home is where you will find your purpose waiting.

In Order to Improve Your Life, Learn to be Kind to Yourself First.

Honestly, this is something that I struggle with daily, which seems sort of ridiculous. Of course we should all be kind to ourselves! The problem is that most of the time we treat ourselves like shit and then we treat others like shit because that is all we are conditioned to do.

Often this takes the form of simple neglect.

Step One in self kindness. Recognize why you are not being kind.

Anxiety is the physical manifestation of worry and, worry is the collaboration between your conscious mind and your ego. These two work together like the writers and cast of SNL.

I’m not talking about your personality ego but rather the one that drives that part of you. This deeper part of the brain doesn’t discern between the encroachment of a new clan who might steal your food and sack your small cluster of Yurts that your clan staked out by a lush river bank and your new boss. The ego is blind to that difference. The nuances of the world 10,000 years ago and now are lost on it. It doesn’t care. New is uncomfortable. New can be dangerous and its job is to keep you alive. End of story.

So, it just pulls the danger lever whenever it senses something it doesn’t recognize and that generates a feeling of un-comfort which starts the chemical factory up. The conscious brain takes this cue to create worry and then it starts painting pictures around a worry storyline which it understands. The interesting thing is your brain only knows how to create stories in the future.

In other words, they are not happening to you. You as your conscious self get tricked into thinking these future skits are in fact a reality coming towards you like a freight train.

Cue the anxiety.

Our conscious mind is self aware and wants at all costs to avoid danger, calamity, maladies and above all, pain.

We as humans are set up for pattern recognition and we like familiar patterns, no matter how uncomfortable they might be. So your repetitive behavior of creating dire future circumstances and the manufacture of sustained levels of adrenaline and cortisol are not healthy but they are familiar.

As worry becomes anxiety, it dumps cortisol into the body. Chronic anxiety creates a dependance on cortisol. When that level is only enough to stave off the with drawl effects, the body doesn’t get its fix, so ups the ante and dials up the level of anxiety. The brain goes into overdrive painting new pictures and fabricating new stories of dire events to keep the flow going. Boom. More cortisol.

And so goes a chronic, un-virtuous cycle that generates all sorts of collateral damage. You give up working out, you drink more, you retreat into mindless tv binge watching in order to escape. Your physical health deterioration starts to catch up with your mental health deterioration.

Or, perhaps you go the other way. You dive into training, you sign up for races, you obsess about performance metrics and the like. You become an obsessed fanatic about running or CrossFit or whatever.

Either way, when you look into the mirror, what you see isn’t reality. It is a fictitious image of yourself that is the byproduct of all the negative collateral damage you do to yourself because whatever you do isn’t good enough. Because it doesn’t fix the feeling. That’s the insidious link between the chemical and the mental.

I don’t want to trivialize or suggest that there is a simple fix to some of these issues for many or it is universally as simple as this. For some it is surely not. For many of us, it is.

Rather than espouse where the dividing line is, I will leave that up to you. I simply want to share my personal approach in the hopes it helps just one person break the cycle.

Step Two of being kind to yourself. Know you have the power of choice.

Know that you have a choice. Therein lies the power. You can choose to be kind to yourself. You want to raise your energetic frequency. There are a couple of very good books on this topic. The Science of Can and Can’t by Chiara Marletto, Feeling Good by Dr. David D. Burns and Power versus Force by Dr. David R. Hawkins are go-to reads on Audible. Also good are:

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Creation Frequency by Mike Murphy

Letting Go by Dr. David D. Burns

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza

The common theme amongst these tomes and many others is that everything is energy and energetic frequencies seek out and align with energetic frequencies that are in harmony and that more often than not, we down-regulate our energetic frequencies without even being aware it is occurring.

Quite literally, you attract what you are signaling. You attract it externally but also internally. Negative thoughts and emotions amplify and seek to crowd higher energy thoughts and emotions out.

“Today is going to suck.”

Which leads to…

“What do you have to be happy about?”

Which leads to…

“I will never be as good as I once was.”

Which leads to…

“My life is a wreck. I have never made the money I want to make. I’ve fallen short in every aspect of who I am. How am I going to pay a vacation when I can’t even afford to give my family the comforts they deserve. I have to get away. I am miserable. I want a good vacation but will never be able to have it.”

As this fills your mental room, it sucks all the oxygen out for higher thoughts and emotions. In this skit, you are the victim. You are oppressed. You are cheated. You wallow in the delicious self pity. That is your cycle and that is the pattern your body and brain feel safe it.

Step Three of being kind to yourself. Recognize what you are telling yourself is utter and complete bullshit.

Change the paradigm. Give yourself a little kindness. Then a little more. Mel Robbins talks about giving yourself a high five. Is this stupid? Is it anymore stupid than giving yourself some slack and a little kindness? Here is how to start the reversal of fortunes.

Step Four of being kind to yourself. Change the pattern.

To do this, you have to start by telling yourself it is ok to feel anxious or upset. This is the first step in giving yourself some kindness and a very important one.

Acknowledge your own personal reality. “I recognize that I feel out of sorts, let down, scared and frustrated right now.”

Then tell yourself that you control the “why”. This is the ‘why you feel this way‘. Take away its power. Tell yourself that you choose to let go of the negativity and literally visualize either it passing you by or you walking away from it. I touched on doing this in the first Field Guide Blog here. Use whatever works for you. Mine is visualization.

Start your reversal of fortune

Replace the empty spot inside you, where ever you feel it…your chest, stomach, or head. (Note where this is…Likely it corresponds with one of your Chakras which are located along the energy pathways in your body and where you feel it is where it gets stored and builds up, so know this and work to purge it using this same technique over time).

Keep in mind this empty spot where the negativity recently vacated will not remain empty long. Nature abhors a vacuum. It is like a hole in wet sand on the beach, so fill it quickly with simple gratitude. Find something to be grateful for in your life. Maybe be grateful to have fresh air to breathe of food in your refrigerator. Maybe be grateful for the cup of coffee or tea you have or the fact the sun is shining…or be appreciative of hearing a simple bird chirp.

Then be present in that gratitude. Visualize it. Immerse yourself in it right now for as long as you need until you feel stillness and your mind quiets. Give it a chance to set roots.

Build on this

Once this is done, choose your intention for the rest of the day. Surround gratitude more gratitude. Start with the mundane and small and build on it. Visualize your energetic frequency raising in amplitude. Then take a few deep breaths and smile to yourself. You’ve now begun the process of breaking the un-virtuous cycle of negativity. But like muscle memory, you have to repeat it in order to set a new habit. If you don’t, you will revert. Then rinse and repeat tomorrow. If you fall down, get back up and start over. It’s ok.

The Fourth Step in Self Kindness

Give it away. Find a way to be kind to someone. Do it and don’t expect anything in return. The ironic thing is what you get in return will be well beyond what you expect. The first thing is greater self peace and clarity of the true reality, not the one you have manufactured in your head. The second thing you will get is a change in circumstance. You won’t win the lottery most likely but you will begin to change the trajectory of your reality by thinking different and then feeling different.

You Can Choose to Do Whatever You Want

You have the ability to choose, which means you hold the power.

Viktor E. Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning summed it up well. “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.”

Change your trajectory, your reality and your path by simply giving yourself a little kindness today. As Chris Tanner said in Episode 3 of the TCP podcast, “it isn’t really that hard. You just have to have the courage and the belief that you can in fact choose.

1 critical thing to know about improving your life. Now.

Meditate to re-enforce better habits

What is the difference between making intentional choices and automatic choices?  A lot.  On the surface, how you go about choosing between two things can often look identical.  You make a choice. Whether you think about it for a day, an hour or a nano-second, it is still a choice. Black or white. One or the other. Right?

No. Choices are instead a stream of interconnected events.

A handful of BBQ chips over an apple.  But why did you choose the chips? 

BBQ chips
Bad habits compound over time to become bad patterns that can easily trap

I don’t know, I wanted some BBQ chips. I popped a handful in my mouth and ate them.  It’s over.  Why are we talking about this?

Because, ultimately if you want to improve your life, this seemingly trivial choice is important well beyond BBQ chips, which are horribly bad for you by the way.  In life, is how you choose important to what comes next?

Yes. Very much so.

What exactly is an intentional choice?

Good question. Think of it simply. What does this choice lead to? Or instead, what ‘bucket’ does this action or choice go into? If you imagine having a number of ‘buckets’ in your life that behaviors and activities can fit into this will help. 

Here are some simple examples. Use this as a template. Spend 30 minutes thinking about this and list some buckets that are important to you. Go back and revisit these later. Feel free to modify them and keep it simple.

When creating buckets try to include buckets for work, play, physical health, mental health, emotional health, inter-personal relationships and self-improvement.

  1. Is this good nutrition or calories versus bad nutrition or calories?
  2. Does this activity or choice add to my well-being, reduce anxiety or drama versus takes away from my well being, increase anxiety or fuel possible drama?
  3. Does this activity or choice improve my self value or self worth versus takes away from my self-value or self-worth (this may include how others view you)?

Matter to who?  Matter how?

Let’s explore the chips.  It’s a snack.  Is it instead a choice that re-enforces an existing pattern of behavior? Or instead, is it a choice that helps to establish a new pattern?

What the hell are you talking about?

In life, all we really have in life are choices.  Think about it.  We choose to respond to something and then we choose what to do next.  That’s really it. 

Our life is made up of patterns our brains has logged into its operating system and those patterns run. We respond to them by choosing what’s familiar.   Those familiar choices feel safe and re-enforce the existing pattern.  That safe feeling releases dopamine in the brain, which further re-enforces the existing pattern, whether it is a healthy one or not.

That is why most people live yesterday again today and so on.  They don’t choose to evolve and grow. The engrained patterns keep us going round and round rather than someplace new.

What does this have to do with BBQ chips?

Everything.  You chose the chips and re-enforced a couple of patterns.  One.  Mid-day snacking.  Two.  Unhealthy nutrition. There are probably more, but let’s keep it simple.

Dude.  It’s just a few BBQ chips.

True, but who ate the last bag of them?

Stop it.

Each of those chips was a choice.  When the bag was empty, you chose to add a new bag to the grocery list.  You chose to open that new bag and eat the first one.  It’s now three quarters empty and when it is, what are you going to choose?  Buy another bag. 

So it’s about more than the BBQ.  It’s really about the choice you are making regarding nutrition and beyond that, the choice you are making about wellness and healthy living.  It’s not a priority.  You have intentionally chosen to not prioritize health and wellness by choosing that handful of greasy crap.

You know you are talking to yourself, right?

Right now, yes but hopefully others will read this transcript and it will cause them to think. Make different choices.

The chips were an automatic choice that was part of the larger an intentional choice you made in the past. You made the choice that because you were 30 pounds overweight, getting fit was going to be impossible.

So you chose to give up instead. Cue the BBQ chips.

These patterns are running every day you don’t even recognize it is occurring.

My point is that with your intentional choice of not prioritizing your health, you now run all these patterns that re-enforce not prioritizing your health and until you choose differently you won’t run new patterns. 

Let’s rewind and see how this might play out differently.

Ok, fine but I don’t see how this will change anything though.  Like I said, it was just some chips dude.

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Let’s unpack this.  You are in the pantry and there is the bag of Lays.  You ask yourself, “If I eat the rest of this bag, is it a healthy choice? After all, it’s almost gone. I can’t throw a bag away that isn’t empty? Right?

No.  If I grab an apple instead is that a healthy choice?

But what if I don’t want an entire Apple?  I can have just crumbs in the bottom the the bag.  Boom.  Gone in 1 second.  An apple will take like, what?  Five minutes to eat!

You are rationalizing your existing pattern that is linked to poor health choices and keeps you in a un-virtuous cycle. 

So, cut the apple into slices.  Eat as many or as few as you want.  Put the rest in a baggie and save them for later.  A healthy shack. 

By the way, what are you thinking?

I am wondering how I missed this before.

Things often hide in plain sight. 

You are now overwriting the old pattern with a new one.  Extend it to nutrition and sleep next.  Then move on to your content choices.  Social media too.  Ditch that.  Then check off improving physical fitness.  One step at a time.  Pretty soon, you will have upgraded your brain with a new software program that you will begin to explore further.

The key here is to remember that every choice you make may not be an intentional choice, but every choice is linked to an intentional choice.   Everything is linked together to either re-enforce an existing pattern of thought or behavior to overwrite one.

The chips are just a simple, easy to understand illustration provided in order to understand how what can seem like a trivial snacking behavior is linked to other much bigger behaviors in life.

If you pay attention to the little things and actively choose what is best for you, with a little bit of time, magically your mindset will shift because your patterns shifted.

Life will not just seem different, it will be different.

Texas License Plates and Waffles

perseverance

This is story about self doubt, how it screws with you and how to beat it.

It was an interesting summer. And, reflecting back on it, it wasn’t what it seemed at the time. Few moments in time as they stand alone are what they seem on the surface, If you are paying attention.

What it seemed to be on the surface was a normal summer of family activities and lots and lots of training and more races in a three month time period than I had done cumulatively in the past three years.

I am a slightly above average middle age cyclist who found love for gravel racing. Gravel sits somewhere between road racing and mountain biking. Most of the races are endurance; 100 miles or more and often with total elevation gains of around 10,000 feet in a day. For me, these races are as much about community and perseverance as performance.

The BWR

The last big race of the season was the Belgian Waffle Ride Asheville. The BWR is billed as the hardest one day multi-surface race in the U.S. Whether it is the hardest or one of the hardest isn’t worth arguing, it’s hard.

On the drive from Indiana to North Carolina I was amused to see a constant stream of Texas license plates. I counted 23. For weeks, driving around my home town I would see Texas license plates everywhere. It got to a point that every time I would see one, I would use it as a reminder to be grateful for my life.

I had a string of 36 days of gratitude thoughts in a row up until the day I left, all thanks to cars from the Lone Star state.

Caution. Explicit content.

As I drove, I powered through podcast after podcast and audible books. I dove back into an interview Mel Robbins. She drops a lot of f-bombs. I like her. She talked about being awake and open to looking for hearts. When you become open to this possibility, you will see hearts everywhere. Her point is when this happens, you will believe in the possibility that there is more to the universe that what you think you see…or saw yesterday. So wake up. Go beyond your yesterday. Don’t let your yesterday become your tomorrow. Believe in yourself. Tell your doubt to go screw itself.

Texas license plates. Everywhere. I came to the realization as I passed across the Tennessee/North Carolina border there was a purpose in those plates. That experience began to fit seamlessly into what she was saying.

But why?…

The day of the race came early. I rode from my Air BnB the five miles to the start, leaving just after 4am with all the nutrition I could carry for the day in the pockets sewn into the back of my race jersey.

The day before I had ridden the first 15 miles, encountering what I thought was the first big climb. “Easy,” I thought, recalling that the previous week I had spent four days racing and training in the Green Mountains of Vermont. That along with the summer’s previous races had me ready.

Forget waffles, have a giant helping of terror

The race began in a misty valley as the sun was rising. A moment of fear gripped me that had never manifested at any of the other events. My brain suddenly went into overdrive, “you shouldn’t be here. You can’t do this. You are hopelessly outclassed.” My stomach roiled. I couldn’t catch my breath. Then we rolled out. The terror followed.

The mind is a funny thing. We gravitate towards the negative. We are wired evolutionarily this way. The mind experiences terror and the brain thinks ‘fear’. Fight or flight mechanisms kick in. Cortisol and adrenaline are dumped into the system. Fear originates in the amygdala. The ancient part of the brain. It can’t discern between a bike race or a saber toothed tiger. It’s just fear.

This is no longer fun

Focusing, I rode through it and we got to the first hill, which gave me a boost of confidence and keeping the lurking doubt at bay. The problem is that hill wasn’t the first climb. It wasn’t even its baby brother. At the summit, we turned right and began the two mile grind up across a gravel road strewn with rocks the size of softballs. The grade rose to 13%. In case you were wondering, here’s what that looks like. Hell of a way to start a race. Terror had subsided into anxiety and mild self doubt. “You can’t do this” started to ring in my ears.

Nearing the top of the climb, I experienced a mechanical issue, as I crested the climb, I tried to shift into a lower gear to speed up. Ok, my brain wasn’t working very well at that moment but I had the vague knowledge that something was wrong. I kept pushing the shifter levers, hearing the click which usually accompanied a gear change but nothing. Nada. WTF.

I limped along in my climbing gear getting passed by pretty much everyone that didn’t walk the climb. At mile 16, I got to the first rest and mechanical support stop. I gave my bike to the pro mechanic knowing everything would soon be fixed and I’d be back in the hunt.

No such luck. I had the one part failure they didn’t have a part for. A $1.50 spring in my rear derailleur had broken, which meant no shifting. Ninety miles left to go, nearly 8,000 feet of climbing on gravel roads and on occasion up creek beds. I was toast.

I’ll choose door number three

As the mechanic took my bike off the stand he said, “dude, you have three choices. You can DNF (Did Not Finish), sit here with us and drink beer till we are done or you can DNF, get a ride back with a supply volunteer and drink beer at the finish.”

“What’s my third choice? You said there were three”, I asked.

He turned to look at me, sizing me up. Which is probably why he didn’t offer the third option. Sighing he said, “you can pick a gear and that’s what you got. You can ride the rest of this thing on one gear. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

That is all it took. I looked down, and forced the chain onto the 46 tooth sprocket, hopped on and peddled off. At this point, there was no placing or PR. There was only finishing.

Wanna know a secret? You suck.

This is where the story ceases becoming a biking tale. For the following nine hours, my brain begged to quit. It ordered me to quit. It rationalized. It played games. Quit. Quit. Quit. Quit. Quit. Quit. Quit. It’ll be ok. You tried. You can’t do it.

Each time I heard this, I reached into the Mel Robbins toolbox and counted back from 5. The conscious mind short circuits the sub-conscious when you do this. It takes aware its power. Doubt is just a lower form of fear which originates in the sub-conscious ancient brain.

I began to replace doubt with grit and determination. Each time doubt spoke, I saw an overweight male spectator holding a beer standing on the side of the road yelling ‘Quit’. He began to piss me off, so I lowered my head and ignored him. I sensed his growing frustration. His heckling wasn’t working. Then he disappeared. For the first time in my life, I had not given in to this spectator. He’d been there before in my life. Many times and sooner or later he always had bested me. 5-4-3-2-1. Smile. Not today asshole.

Ignore the spectators

Having perseverance is one thing in life but having belief is another. When you believe with all your heart, mind and soul and you act with that belief, possibilities unfold. The universe conspires to work with you.

With one climb to go, with 10 hours in the rain started. It was torrential. Instead of the usual groan and thought of what else could go wrong, I embraced it. It was. Perfect. Five miles to the finish, I encountered another race who had crashed in the rain. Bleeding and battered, he was struggling. I could see in his eyes he wanted to quit. I asked him how much he believed in himself. Could he divorce himself from the pain for another 30 minutes? What was not quitting worth? Everything it turned out.

Slogging through the rain and the mud, with the sun setting, we crossed the finish line together.

That day I had beaten a previously undefeated foe. My personal nemesis…self-doubt.

Doubt wants to limit you. It wants to hold you back. It wants status-quo. It doesn’t want growth. Doubt doesn’t want you to succeed. That takes away its power.

Doubt is easy to beat. It’s just a spectator to your life heckling you. Ignore him or her and just ride on by.

The Chosen Path is all about finding meaning and lessons in stories and conversations. We will be interviewing epic people, telling epic tales full of powerful and practical lessons to inspire us all.