Motivation: Because the Time is Now

If you’re serious about making a change then it’s time to go all out.

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How do you create your wonderful life?

I often see people compromising before they even get started.

It’s terribly sad to me because it’s a self-imposed trap that comes about because we believe we can’t have what it is we really want.

Lean in: this is an illusion. The people you see who are successful…they keep their eye on what it is they desire. They tune into themselves. They ask this important question and they take the answer very seriously.

What do you desire? Keep asking yourself this question, like a mantra: What Do I Desire? What Do I Want For Myself If I Can Have Anything? And when you begin to hear the answer from the deepest part of yourself. Only then, are you ready to move forward. To create the life of your dreams.

Here’s Alan Watts guiding us through this process:

So I always ask the question: What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life? Well it’s so amazing as the result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say ‘Well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers’ But as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way! Another person says ‘Well I’d like to live an out-of-door’s life and ride horses.’ I said ‘You wanna teach in a riding school?’

Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do? When we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do I will say to him ‘You do that! And forget the money!’ Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing you will spend your life completely wasting your time! You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living – that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing! Which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of which you like doing then a long life spent in a miserable way. And after all, if you do really like what you are doing – it doesn’t really matter what it is – you can eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way of becoming the master of something, to be really with it. And then you will be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much, somebody is interested in everything. Anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others who are.

But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow the same track. See, what we are doing is we are bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing. So it’s all retch and no vomit – it never gets there! And so therefore it’s so important to consider this question:

What do I desire?

The Best Pep Talk You’ll Get All Day

This exhortation by Kid President is just the boost you may need.

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Reflecting On Our Future: What Really Lies Ahead

We are living into an extraordinary decade ahead.

Are We On the Verge of Nuclear War with North Korea?
Famine In Somalia!
Protestors Pepper Sprayed By Police!
Syria: A Year of Horror!

News headlines such as these seem to shout out to us every day. But there is something important you need to know about your brain: the way it’s wired makes it natural for us to focus on the negative.

There’s an area of your brain called the amygdala, which plays a primary role in the processing of emotions and motivations…particularly those related to survival. And because of the way the amygdala functions, if we are presented with a dozen news stories, we will preferentially look at the adverse reports. Our mind pays attention to what is likely to be the biggest threat. Combine this with readily accessible sensational news and the result is a biased perspective; we tend to think the world around us is getting worse.

Peter Diamandis suggests that the sense that the world around us is degrading is in part a distortion caused by the amygdala. And while there are many great challenges and scary things happening in our human world…he uses this TED presentation to review some of our real human progress and to highlight the abundant possibilities.

Considering Dr. Peter Diamandis’s background, education, and track record, he is someone to listen to when reflecting on the future of our world. Recognized as a key figure in the development of the personal spaceflight industry, Dismandis is the Founder and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, an educational non-profit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. He is the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University which educates technology world changers in areas such as: AI, Robotics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Medicine, Neuroscience, Networks and Computing Systems, Energy and Environmental Systems, and has earned numerous awards and notable achievements.

So following Diamandis, let’s take a look at human progress over the last 100 years:

  • The average human lifespan has doubled
  • The average per capita income has tripled
  • Childhood mortality has come down a factor of 10
  • We are living during the most peaceful time ever in human history
  • Global literacy has gone from 25% to 80%

We have redefined what poverty is in the United States. Today people who live under the poverty line still have electricity, running water, toilets, refrigerators, and televisions. Thanks to the widespread availability of affordable Gexa Energy plans and other electricity provisions, powering a property is significantly more affordable compared to the past. 88% have mobile phones. 70% have a car and air conditioning.

A huge part of this increase in our human advantages has to do with technology and Moore’s Law, which explains that any tool that becomes an information technology, experiences price and performance doubling every 12 to 24 months. That’s why the cell phone in your pocket is literally a million times cheaper and a thousand times faster and smaller than the supercomputers of the 70s.

Let me break this down further than Diamandis does in this TED video. Gordon Moore, the co-founder and former chairman of Intel, observed in 1965, that the power of computing devices was doubling every two years. Computer chips were becoming smaller and smaller and cost was dropping as a result. He predicted that this would go on indefinitely…nearly 45 years later this theory still holds. It’s an exponential equation (doubling every two years) that applies to all technology and that is why our world is ever changing, ever improving.

10 years ago, a computer that had the same performance of the smartphone in your pocket, would have cost $20,000.

Diamandis explains that if we objectively observe the world we really live in…abundance is inevitable. This abundance he speaks of is not about creating a life of luxury for everyone, but rather, creating a life of possibility.

Energy crisis? Yes we are currently in one. But we are on a planet that is bathed in 5,000 times more energy than we use in a year. 16 terawatts (a unit of power equal to a million megawatts) of energy hit the surface of the planet every 88 minutes from the Sun. It’s not that energy is scarce, instead our problem is about accessibility. The cost of solar generated electricity is 50% less than that of diesel electricity. The cost of solar (based on what the technology is costing us now) dropped 50% last year. MIT just published a study that showed that by the end of this decade, solar power will cost only six cents an hour, this will cause many households and families to switch over to solar energy providers similar to Sandbar Solar & Electric as well as the many others within the industry.

Next, if we have abundant energy, we also have abundant water. Our planet is blue because we live on a water planet. 70% covered in water. Today humans fight over only a half a percent of this water…because 97% of the water is salt water. But we already have access to technology that can solve this problem…Dean Kamen has invented a solution that creates clean water from any source (polluted water, salt water, etc.) This machine, called Slingshot, is about the size of a washer machine and while it’s not currently low in cost… according to Moore’s Law… it soon will be.

Advances such as these are happening in all areas of our world: health care, education, communication, the list goes on.

The biggest force for bringing about a world of abundance is our human population. We just passed the 7 billion mark on earth and we know that the biggest protection against a population explosion is making the world healthy and educated. From the year 2000 to 2011 there was a growth in internet use of 528%. In other words, it went from 350 million users to 2 and a ¼ billion users. Consider what all these different and new minds can bring to table to help solve our world’s problems. We are becoming more connected and this is a good thing.

What encourages us to be confident about the future is that more than ever before, the individual, each and everyone of us, can take on problem solving the challenges we face within our world. The case for optimism is built on the fact that we have the tools of our exponential technology, we have the passion of the DIY inventors, we have the capital of the techno philanthropists, and we have billions of new minds coming online to work with us to solve the grand challenges. We are living into an extraordinary decade ahead.

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Who We Are When We’re Not Addicted

Addiction is the conditioned mind controlling who you are and can look like street-dwelling drug addicts all the way to high-functioning workaholics. And yet addiction in it’s subtler forms is something that all of us face. Unfortunately, addiction is unhealthy, particularly when it’s to something that could potentially kill you, like illegal drugs. No one wants to be an addict, and there’s no reason that someone should suffer through addiction. Luckily, there are sober living centres that you can read more about that are sure to put you on the right track to recovery.

Dr. Gabor Maté, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, takes on the obstacle of addiction which he defines simply as any behavior that follows this process: wanting, craving, temporary relief when you get it, and an inability to give it up despite negative consequences.

So who are we when we are not addicted? It’s who we are in the moments we are not controlled by the wanting, thinking mind. Dr. Maté recalls meeting some indigenous people in Malaysia while walking in the jungle and noticing how they were: absolutely grounded in themselves, present, neither afraid nor aggressive, they seemed to feel safe and rooted in their world. He contrasts this with the neurotic consciousness of our world, where many are troubled and uncomfortable in their own skin. The point is not to idealize indigenous people but to note that it’s possible to be like that. It is not something we are evolving into, but qualities that already exist.

Dr. Maté proposes that not achieving this grounded state is not a personal failure but a cultural one…that it takes vigilance not to be addicted in this society. Vigilance, and perhaps the help and intervention of groups such as Recovery Circle to help steer you to a clearer path. He also observes that the individual degree of wanting is related to how much emptiness that individual experiences which is then related to what occurred early in that individual’s life.

“The heart of addiction is loss and pain. The big loss is not that your mother or father didn’t love you in a complete enough way…the big loss is that you lost the connection to yourself.” Addiction is our response to, and the unsustainable way we attempt to cope with, being disconnected from our essence.

There is hope…on some level nothing is lost…our essence is there to be found if we look. Our problems are simply opportunities to learn and grow. Maté suggests the following qualities are needed to get to the place where we are comfortable in our own skin:

  1. Compassion for the Self. Self love is not necessarily an emotion but rather what we do to support our learning, healing, and care. Work to increase self compassion, self kindness, and self love. Notice the ways you already love yourself. Be open to thinking you are worth it…that you deserve to get back in touch with yourself. This is the quality that gets you the help or support you need to make a change.
  2. Be willing to look at what’s really there. Increase awareness, decrease denial. Have the courage to take an honest look at how things actually are.
  3. Dis-identify with the experience of addiction. Let go of identifying ourselves with the experience. We are not cancer, or diabetes…rather these are ailments some of us experience. There is a value in realizing we can have a different experience in this-now-moment.
  4. Be able to answer the question: What experiences are you creating for yourself that keep you in these addictive patterns?

The healing begins when we ask: How do I reconnect with myself?

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Broken Resolution? Try Something New for 30 Days

When Matt Cutts, the head of the web spam team at Google, realized he was in a rut, he decided to try an experiment to mix his life up a bit. He began trying something new for 30 days at a time. Then he began doing this every 30 days. He’s written about these fun challenges on his blog. And inspires with this TED talk:

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Be Inspired by the Spirit of the Holiday Season

The following is taken from an article from The Good News Network, whose mission it is to provide a “Daily Dose of News to Enthuse.” The Good News Network® is a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive compelling news stories from around the globe. Daily stories will confirm what we already believe: good news itself is not in short supply; the advertising of it is.

“In place of a holiday party, computer technology company NVIDIA conducted one of Silicon Valley’s largest-ever employee volunteer events, with 1,500 employees and family members gathering to bolster a local farm’s ability to continue providing students and families with access to fresh local produce.

NVIDIA’s annual holiday initiative called Project Inspire began on December 9 and in two days transformed Full Circle Farm’s operations, building structures to enable it to become financially self-sustaining and to expand its ability to provide nutrition education to students and families in Silicon Valley.

An estimated $380,000 was donated in material and labor to the 11-acre Sunnyvale, Calif. community farm, tripling the number of individuals it can serve.

Project Inspire has contributed about $1.7 million in grants and volunteer hours over five years to the Silicon Valley community.”

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Happy Thanksgiving! May You Enjoy the Experience of Gratefulness…

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Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials.

This piece includes his short film on Gratitude and Happiness.

As a visual artist, Louie has created some of the most iconic and memorable film moments of our time. He is an innovator in the world of time-lapse, nature, aerial and “slice-of-life” photography – the only cinematographer in the world who has literally been shooting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week continuously for more than 30 years.

Helping Us Realize Untapped Possibility

Watching and being with Benjamin Zander in his Ted talk is nothing short of a delight. He is simply someone who immediately engages his audience. He has this to say about being a visionary leader: “It is one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realizing whatever he is dreaming. [In contrast, can you] imagine if Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream…but I’m not sure they’ll be up for it…?”

“My job is to awaken possibility in other people. And I know that I’m doing it when people’s eyes begin shining. Now if people’s eyes are not shining I ask myself, ‘Who am I being, that their eyes are not shining?” Who are we being, to cause the results all around us?

He goes on to stress the importance of how and what we communicate, through a pointed story of someone he knew who survived Auschwitz. She was 15, when on the train to Auschwitz with her younger brother, she noticed he had lost his shoes and harshly chided him, as an older sister is want to do. That was the last time she saw him. Later when she was set free, having lost her whole family, she said, “I walked out of Auschwitz into life and I made a vow. My vow was that I will never say something that couldn’t stand as the last thing I’d ever say.”

Zander would be an inspiring presenter regardless of topic…but here, he is inviting us to engage and experience something that has the power to move us through the nuances of our emotional terrain. Here, he is presenting in a fresh, playful way, an artistic medium that is sometimes considered inaccessible: classical music.

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I am grateful that Benjamin Zander is with us contributing to our world. On his website he shares how his father summed up his work, which captures an overarching aspect of Zander’s mission: “The best review I ever got was not from a music critic, but from my father. He was 94 years old at the time and completely blind. He attended a Master Class I gave in London and sat there in his wheelchair for about three hours. When it was over, I went to speak with him. He lifted up his finger in his characteristic way and said, “I see that you are actually a member of the healing profession.” It seemed to me the highest accolade.”

If you’re interested in more from this exemplar, Benjamin and his wife Rosamund (a coach and counselor specializing in leadership and relationships) have written a book called The Art of Possibility which helps people learn, through a set of breakthrough practices, how to live lives that reveal inspiration, creativity, and possibility.

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You Can Create a Positive Ripple Effect

An inspiring talk by about an average person making a difference. May you find the courage and audacity to connect with and soften those around you. Now imagine taking it step further, and like Mary Anderson, making it a habit.

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