Cheerful Choice

I choose to perceive existence as a benevolent experience.
I choose to envision a delightful path created just for me.
I choose to enjoy and appreciate this path I travel.
I choose to feel protected and nurtured along the way.
I choose to recognize resources as gifts given generously.
I choose to see life as a source of love and fulfillment.

Finding Success

Hard-work? Determination? Smarts? Luck? Or perhaps a variety of factors? What is it that determines whether we achieve “success” in the world? I’ve been researching the answer to this question for a while now. I’ve watched videos of prominent people talking about it. I’ve listened to speeches and interviews. I’ve read books on the subject. I’ve even attempted to peer into the lives of the successful. And the most striking thing about success, is the lack of a practical path. There is no physical pathway that leads to success. The overall summation of my research is that material success is based on the immaterial, the spiritual.

In my own life for instance, I noticed that I was not spiritual or successful. In practical terms, success is not something that can be chased directly, there are too many external circumstances that require synchronization. So the only solution for someone like me, is to pursue spirituality. And through spirituality, the pathway to success becomes available — or at least that’s my theory.

Spirituality, as used here, means a belief in a world that is not physical. Existence is not a series of interstellar accidents, but a dream. And importantly, it’s a lucid dream that can be influenced. Success, as used here, means achieving satisfaction with our place in the world, performing our desired role, and having fulfilling relationships with others. Just collecting possessions or achieving a particular goal does not equal success, as we can observe the suffering of those with only superficial success.

The spiritual path is one we can step on at anytime. We need nothing but the thoughts within our head. It’s a matter of filtering these thoughts through a particular perspective. And in this instance, it’s believing that dreams do come true. To believe this, we must dismantle the concrete world we built, the one sitting on a foundation of lack and limitation. We must replace it with a new and wondrous world built atop a foundation of infinite possibilities and hopefulness. In short, it’s trading pessimism for optimism.

Party Time

When I was in school, one of my biggest worries was being called-on by the teacher. I was always one of the quietest students in class — and I preferred to keep it that way. I’ll pay attention, do the work, take the tests — but otherwise leave me alone. I much prefer passive-observation to audience-participation.

I suppose I’ve always felt like a spectator that fears he’ll be called upon to contribute. “Excuse me, sir! Yes you!” Gah…. And some people think they’re doing you a favor by being inclusive. Umm, NO THANKS! I suppose that’s a primary reason I tend to remain isolated, I don’t want outsiders encroaching on my personal space.

If I analyze it though, I can’t immediately recall any incidents where being called-on was brutally unpleasant. I guess it was mostly the annoyance of having my quietude interrupted. I think this probably lends evidence to the idea that I tend to take life way too seriously. How dare you disturb my stillness! No ripples!

But I think it also has to do with my intense focus. I can’t task-switch very efficiently, so if I’m focused on observing the circumstances of my surroundings, I’m doing that and only that. I do one thing at a time and only one thing. I can’t effectively examine and engage — that’s two things!

I suppose I must learn to appreciate the intrusions. After-all, no one likes to be invisible all of the time — not even me. And here’s life trying to include me in the fun but I’m too untrusting of its intentions. “No! You’re just trying to scare me, or hurt me, or make me look like an idiot!” Or I feel as though I’m not good enough to keep up. “No, I’m too awkward at that, you guys go ahead….”

Hmm those definitely sound like lame excuses. If life really wanted to hurt me, things could be a lot worse — and there’s really no place to hide. And not-trying tends to receive harsher judgement than trying-and-failing. I guess I shouldn’t be so suspicious and close-minded when it comes to life’s little stimuli.

I suppose life is like a big party with a generous host trying to make sure everyone’s entertained. And periodically throughout the evening there’ll be party games where everyone’s expected to join in. I should try to be a gracious and appreciative guest rather than a grump that feels victimized for being invited. I should lower my guard and resign myself to having fun. Yay…!?

Magical Mountain

“Unleash your power! Let go Jean! Jean let go!” — Professor X

Within the human narrative, there is a common theme of pent-up power. Crushed beneath a giant, energy of the seemingly weak finally surges, building until unleashing as a shockwave of supremacy. The so-called mighty fall at the hands of the formerly meek — after all, was it not said: they shall inherit the earth?

Themes such as this litter our landscape. So tell me again how random this world is? No, it’s as scripted as a book. Just don’t look too closely or you’ll spoil the surprises. It’s a funny thing to consider of course — yet, where would we wander without pre-cut paths? We’d be hacking through thick brush, lost while banging into trees.

It’s a comforting thought you see. They that mourn shall be comforted. Those seeking righteousness shall be satisfied. The merciful shall obtain mercy. What we seek, we shall find. It’s all there, written in plain sight for us to see. But the unrelenting captivation of daily life holds our attention too closely to consider the actuality of our situation.

But when we just keep staring, severing connections to the scenes, constraining ourselves to see only the pixels, we can perceive it — the fiction before us. And by understanding this artificiality, our power flows. “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Virtual Drama

Picture it, Madison Square Garden, sometime in the 80s. Before a capacity crowd, Hulk Hogan, the World Wrestling Federation Champion of the World was down and out, seemingly lifeless. The referee picked up his limp hand and dropped it, checking for consciousness. The arm just flopped down to the mat. The ref tried again, the arm fell again. The ref tried once more, but this time the arm stayed in the air, this time there was a visible vibration in that 24-inch python. Not only was there life left in that body, but the energy flowing from thousands of Hulkamaniacs coursed through its veins.

Now on his feet, the Hulkster let loose the pythons. His opponent was dumbstruck, Hogan was relentless, a swing into the ropes, a clothesline, another trip across the ring, a boot to the chest, a body slam, a suplex, pandemonium had broken loose, the crowd was on their feet. And with his opponent down, Hogan climbed to the top rope… and jumped… BOOM a flying leg drop! One! Two! Three! Ding! Ding! Ding! The match was over. The Hulkster put his hand to his ear as the crowd shouted their praise. The ring-announcer then proclaimed, “And still Champion of the World… Hulk Hogan!”

We must drill it in, that life’s purpose is to present a compelling narrative. We’re here to be captivated, entertained by a story. Every epic tale features the protagonist toiling toward his goal. Every video-game throws obstacles in the character’s path. We’re supposed to believe the main-character might lose. We’re supposed to say “Oh no! He might not make it! Nooo!”

Look closely and we can observe this obvious pattern repeated endlessly. The most exhilarating situation we can experience in life is wavering on the edge of victory. Will we make it!? Oh no, knocked down again! Ha, we’re up! This time we’ll do it! Boom! And we’re down again! Wait, we’re up! But this time it’s different! And maybe this time it is.

Talent Search

I define one’s talent as: that which you can do a lot of and not be bored. It’s true that we can improve at things over time with practice — yet what will we dedicate our time to, but something that remains eternally interesting. So the thing we can most improve on, and master, is something we can keep doing without irritation.

Additionally, such talents aren’t likely to be highly cerebral activities in the sense that we have to methodically think each step through. Instead, these talents just flow out naturally with a sense of ease and eventual mastery. Plus there’s likely to be a sense of amusement, because we’ll readily do what’s enjoyable.

For example, I enjoy tools (hammers, saws, pliers, etc.) and have an above average amount of them, yet in all these years I can’t say I’ve ever really developed a mastery for using them. So when projects turn out mediocrely, I get a bit frustrated and glad when the job’s done, and I put the tools away to hibernate until next time inspiration strikes and I forget my previous frustrations.

So for me, I think working with tools is a tangential hobby, not a talent. I have to methodically think through each step and I get frustrated by obstacles. When searching for talent, look for what energizes and emanates effortlessly. It’s not necessarily what we’re initially good at, but what entertains and excites despite obstacles.