Inspiration is pretty useful. With it, we find the right words to write that paper. It can enable us to create great artworks, giving us insights that we could never have thought of on our own. It can spur you to finally take action when you thought you never could. At least, that’s what it does for me.
I don’t know if you believe in this or not, but I feel like the Law of Attraction plays big with inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that it’s like some sort of magic button where you think about what you want and then you instantly get everything you’ve ever wanted. I think we’re all wishing that were the case. But no, the law of attraction can be simplified to “like attracts like”. Meaning, if you have positive thoughts, you’ll attract positive things into your life. Likewise, if you have negative thoughts you will attract negativity into your life.
So how does this play into the whole inspiration game? Inspiration can put you into a “positive” mindset. How I feel this works out, or how it has in my life, is like so:
– I feel inspired
– I’m constantly thinking about my goal (slight exaggeration)
– I take action on ideas that come up while thinking
– Said actions lead to opportunities
– Take action when opportunity arises
– Get closer to goal
In practice, when I was first looking to become self-employed, I wanted to surround myself with people who were where I wanted to be. I wanted to meet other entrepreneurs and business owners and hopefully, find a mentor as well.
I then took action, in the form of going to events and places where I thought I might find such people. In my little mind, that meant getting up early and going to coffee shops, because “successful” people wake up early and go to coffee shops right? At any rate, eventually, I met the owner of the coffee shop I was frequenting and was able to learn from his insight.
I suppose the key here is to take action on your inspiration. That’s the only real way that the law of attraction is going to have any room to work. Taking action allows the inspiration to snowball because you’re giving yourself more and more opportunities to get small wins that will keep you going. If you get inspired, then promptly park yourself in front of a TV or any other weapon of mass distraction, the inspiration will disappear as fast as a box of donuts in a police station.
“But Alex, what about the Law of Attraction? I can think about what I want even if I’m being a potato!”
Yes, you can, for maybe half a second. A distraction is called a distraction because it takes whatever you were focusing on, and directs it to something else. Maybe you were thinking about how to get more gains in the gym, but then you looked down and were suddenly holding a bag of chips and a tub of ice cream (my two favorite snacks- true story). When you lose focus, you lose focus. There’s nothing complicated about it.
Not at all, sort of.
Taking action is super important. But let’s say you were inspired to fly. You wouldn’t just go jump off a cliff right? Practicality is the guiding direction for your inspiration. It’s what tells you to take flying lessons or to go hang gliding instead of jumping off cliffs.
Unfortunately, being too practical is also one of the forces that turns productive people into potatoes. The idea comes in; you get inspired, and then you think.
What if this goes wrong?
What if nobody likes my idea?
What if I’m actually no good at this?
There are a million what if’s you could ask and still find no answer. But they’ll always lead to inaction, which most certainly does not get you closer to your goal.
Even so, a bit of practicality (read: planning) can guide your inspiration to lead you to what you want. Take this scenario:
– Get inspired to become a champion fighter
– Take action by signing up for a local competition
– Get pummeled because you have no experience
– Never fight again
And this nearly same scenario:
– Get inspired to become champion fighter
– Do research, discover that a local gym has a former UFC champion training people
– Go sign up at said gym, express your goals
– Train under person who has done it before you
– Sign up for fight at recommendation of your now-coach UFC friend
– Dominate that fight!
– Compete more and more
– BAM! You’re a champion fighter
Inspiration is like a fire. If you are just starting the fire and throw large logs on it, you’ll just snuff out the fire. But if you build on it, start with smaller twigs and sticks, working your way up, you can end up with a real bonfire that can burn anything.
The one caveat with practicality is letting it keep you from taking action. In short, don’t take so long picking out “the right” sticks that you don’t build a fire at all.
There’s a simple 5-step plan I typically follow when I get inspired to take action. Take them with a grain of salt. Steps may vary from person to person since no two lives are identical.
Some things that may help are daily inspirations and gratitude reminders. Inspiration is notorious for dying out in somewhat a short period. That’s why I always say it’s good to get you to take action, and can push you to follow through with an idea. It’s like a fire, but maybe more like the fire of a match. It burns super bright, and keeps burning until the match burns out. What then right?
Each morning, review your goals. I’m assuming you’ve made your idea into a goal that you want to accomplish. Review it.
Then review what you’re already grateful for. Everyone has something to be grateful for. Even if you don’t immediately feel it, just review a list of three to ten things you’re grateful for. The idea is to get these things into the forefront of your mind. Eventually, you’ll start to appreciate more of what you do have, and not always focus on what you don’t have.
Let inspiration spur you to take action. Be practical with said action and do a little research first. Fuel your inspiration every day with gratitude.
I was talking to a friend about performance and communication. Specifically, performance as it relates to magicians and mentalists. You see, my friend is a professional magician and goes by The Magic Nate.
The great thing about his show is that no matter which routine he’s performing, be it the 10-minute show or the hour and a half long show, he doesn’t utter a single word.
From the stage, that is. The audience can be heard laughing, clapping, gasping and cheering all throughout the performance.
The show is really exciting. Once you see the faces of anyone in the audience, you’d likely agree that his is one of the most captivating shows you could watch.
How is it that in a performance that typically requires so much explanation, instruction following, and audience participation, that he can get by for over an hour without saying anything at all?
In the most basic sense, I’d say it’s body language. But it feels like so much more than that. From his perspective, he’s moving, using facial expressions, interacting with props, etc. But in mine, and in the minds of the audience, we fill in what isn’t being said with what we imagine to be happening, or imagine is being conveyed.
While enjoying the show, the audience is further enraptured and involved in the performance by putting a bit of themselves into the performance. In the lack of words, they can fill in their own story; insert a bit of themselves into a form of entertainment where they’re often only told what to do and what is happening.
I’d almost liken it to reading a book compared to watching a movie.
In both, there is a story playing out in front of you. With the movie, the costume, character appearance, tone of voice, the entire world is laid out for you to see. It’s given to you. With a book, you are given an opportunity to create nearly all of the details.
Many people build a strong and personal connection to well-written literature. They’re transported to another world with characters that can feel as real as your neighbor (assuming of course that you are familiar with your neighbor).
So yeah, Magic Nate has a unique show. While I definitely may have overanalyzed the silent aspect of it, watching the presentation with this in mind may give you a different perspective on the function of speech when conveying an idea.
So there’s a bit of insight into how my brain works at times. You can learn some interesting things from the most unexpected of places. Like gleaning insights on communication from watching a magician communicate with his audience, without language.
Because the things that frustrate us are often outside of our control.
For example, you might get frustrated if:
That’s not to say you should never feel frustrated. But too often we let our [negative] emotions control our actions. The actions that we take then negatively impact our relationships. So you’re unhappy at work, unhappy at home, unhappy with yourself and before you know it the whole world is doing its darnedest to make you miserable.
Here’s the thing though, the world is going to continue doing what it does. People will do what they will, your job will do what’s best for them, friends invite whoever comes to mind, etc. Try as you might, we can’t control anyone other than ourselves. Sure we might have a certain amount of influence, but by and large what nature or the people around us do is ultimately up to them.
I’m assuming there aren’t many of us who have mind-control power or the ability to manipulate the weather.
So what then, do you resign to a life of nihilism because we ultimately have no control over our fate?
Remember, the only person/thing that we do have control over is ourselves. That doesn’t just mean you should tell yourself how to feel at any given moment (though you technically can), it means you can control which actions you do or don’t take, thereby crafting your own course in life.
Sure, luck does play a part in where some people end up, but you can increase your luck exponentially by putting yourself in a position to get lucky. i.e. you are far more likely to “get lucky” and find your soulmate (or a new friend) by putting yourself into social situations compared to sitting at home being a potato. Or say if you apply to 1000 jobs, your odds of getting an interview at your dream job are infinitely greater than applying to just one company.
You see, you can’t control what anyone else does. But you can control what you do, and ultimately control where you end up in life by taking consistent actions in the direction you want to go.
We spend far too much time worrying and complaining about this job not working out, sales not going up or the sky falling when instead we could see what isn’t working, and change our actions.
Your parents/kids never understanding you? Try expressing yourself in a different way! Observe what they do respond to and try that. Maybe they feel like they aren’t being heard or understood so try to understand them first. That’ll probably put them in a more receptive mood. When they do come around, understand that it wasn’t that you controlled their actions. You changed how you approached the situation, and thus created the opportunity for a different outcome.
Nobody likes to hear they’re being controlling. Nobody often feels like they are, and most who are don’t intend to be. I know I didn’t and don’t.
But we do.
Next time you feel something isn’t going your way, step back.
Think about how you might be trying to control the other person or situation and how you are being. Drop your ego, change your plan of action and move forward.
Chairs would be great if they had six legs.
We’ve all had it. That terrible moment where time freezes and the world begins to end as you fall backward into the abysmal floor hundreds of feet below.
That’s what it feels like at least. It feels like there’s nothing below you. You begin falling, and your muscles tense.
Your breath is caught in your chest.
Your mind both races and stops.
And then the extra legs extend and catch you.
Life gets hectic sometimes. Sometimes it feels like we’re falling and don’t know when, or if, it’ll get better. But we’ll be okay.
**photo credit linked in image
My older brother is a life coach. Contentment is a daily topic he goes over with his clients. It seems that in the hustle and bustle of adult-city-slickin’-money-making life, we forget how to enjoy life. People very often find themselves discontent with all of the things they’ve accumulated. They’re left with a feeling of wanting more. So with their wealth of resources (or with their lack of resources), they begin to acquire more and more things to fill that desire.
In relationships, we seek contentment in love and friendship. Unfortunately what often happens, in large part due to miscommunication, we get used to the things we like in others and continually point out the things we don’t. This negative outlook leads to discontentment in the relationship. The focus on what we don’t like eventually brings us to believe we don’t like the other person/people.
With friendships, you feel like you always need to reach out so that you have company. If you don’t initiate the socialization, you won’t go anywhere because no one ever invites you first. It gets tiring, and discontentment with those so-called friends grows.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all relationships. Don’t generalize fellas. But really, you know it happens.
Where there are things that exist, there is the possibility to become displeased with them. True statement.
Where there are things that exist, there is the possibility to enjoy the crap out of it. Also a true statement.
If there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that life is an honest-to-goodness case of ‘what you make of it.’ Easier said than done, of course, so I’ve put together a short list of some ways I’ve gotten around to being content and not wanting that which I feel I don’t have.
Exercise is important. It gets the blood flowing and puts you in a better mood- guy or girl. Something to do with endorphins making you feel like you’re on morphine or whatever.
2. The Double Tap
Whatever it is you think you thought, repeat it out loud. Sometimes what we think doesn’t make any sense, and you won’t get it until you hear it. Maybe repeat it to a person. If they give you a crazy look, perhaps a rethink is in order. Unless you’re repeating to a stranger, they might give you a weird look regardless.
3. No Attachments
Becoming too attached to things, even relationships can be detrimental. For things, having too many creates clutter. A cluttered room creates a cluttered mind. Likewise, a clear room enables a clear mind. Be willing to let go non-essential things, you’ll be better off for it, and more content with what you do have. In relationships, if one is not bettering you as a person, or worse shaping you into a poopy-person, be willing to step away from it. You are the average of the people you spend the most time with, make it worth yours and their time.
4. Bounty Paper Towels
I can’t state enough how important good paper towels are. It’s beyond frustrating when you use low-quality paper, the mess just streaks and the sheet breaks leaving you with a mess of paper and dirty hands. Bounty = great stuff.
5. Opportunity Knocks
Learn to relax a little. Being tense closes you off to opportunities right in front of you. Just chill, be patient and don’t be afraid to try new things.
6. Always Carry a Change of Underwear
This should speak for itself. Dirty underwear is no fun. Especially if you’re having social anxiety and you’ve just $h4T your pants.
7. Be a Hero
Not saying go and stop people getting robbed, but not saying don’t go and stop people from being robbed. Really, though, be a person of integrity. Keep your word, expect the same of others. It’s unfortunate how rare that is these days.
8. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint. Unless it’s a Sprint, Then Sprint.
Words to live by. Whenever you try something new in life, it’s usually going to be a marathon. Working up in your career, starting a new business, creating a loving relationship. Things take time. There are also times when you need to act! When time comes to hustle, you hustle and work. Be the hardest working person in the room, but also understand that things take time.
9. Use Your Thumbs
As a fellow human, I’m assuming you have thumbs. This means you can create and manipulate your environment in the fashion that only us homo-sapiens can. The act of creating, whether it’s an act of kindness, idea, product, art or whathaveyou- can help you to get out of your head. The secret to living is giving – Tony Robins
10. Enjoy The Little Things
There’s a lot to enjoy if you open yourself to be able to enjoy them. This chair I’m sitting on is great. As is the computer I’m typing on. I usually take them for granted, but right now- they’re amazing. That’s all I need.
These are 10 of the things I try to do to live a content life. When things get off center, any or all of these things are good reminders that life’s good.
Also, if you happened to notice that these were taken straight out of the Zombieland movie, then you’ve got a good eye 🙂
I’ve never really enjoyed rushing- moving from one activity to another non-stop. It gets tiring; attention to detail goes down; I begin producing lower quality results.
Out of the past 30 days or so, I’ve now finally managed to force a bit of quiet time on myself. Even if I have a lot of work to do, which seems to be always these days, I’ll pause. 5-minutes of quiet is all it takes, but it allows me to observe the tasks that need doing and then begin to allot time to complete each one.
One. at. a. time.
You see, another side effect of failing to pause is the belief that you can multitask.
You can’t. We have one body, which can perform only one task at a time. Often when people say they can multitask, what they mean is they can spend a little bit of time on multiple things continuously.
Of course, you can do this. The work is often lower quality, but there are unicorns (what I call a person who does something uncommon, or thought of as impossible)
For the rest of us, though, trying to juggle too many things quickly becomes overwhelming. This tendency can come from having many, difficult tasks suddenly thrust upon us. Maybe you take on more responsibility at work. Or maybe your business begins growing, and you need to adapt to the increase in demand. It’s almost always brought on by a sudden increase in something more than that to which we’re accustomed.
For myself, stepping back and understanding that despite my perceived lack of time for reflection and meditation; without those two things, I won’t adequately tackle the work that needs to be completed.
When faced with more work than I’m used to, I need to remind myself that without pause I won’t likely be getting my job done to the best of my ability. I will be faced with more stress, while not sufficiently chipping away at the to-do list. If nothing else, meditating and reflecting will help to maintain an internal equilibrium so I can function like a normal person.
I graduated with a degree in Strategic Communications in University.
It always amazes me how often we fail to listen to others, myself especially. It’s unfortunate that I don’t notice until after the fact, as it usually leads to miscommunication, shortly followed by misunderstandings and conflict both big and small.
I’ve often heard the phrase: “Many people hear, but rarely listen.” – or something like it.
“Hearing” is something you can do passively. Your ears are open, and sounds go in. That doesn’t mean that your brain is tuned in to register what is coming in.
Listening is an active exercise.
To listen you need to be receptive to incoming information. When you hear what is said, you can then take the time to process and understand it. You may even repeat what you believe you’ve heard, to ensure that you accurately understand what was said. The game of telephone* might be far less intriguing if each person did this.
To take it a step further you might even try to understand where the other person is coming from. Why would someone say what they said? Too often we project and assume. We formulate responses based on what we believe was said, often before the other person has even finished speaking. We might be talking, physically making words. But conversing in this way is, in fact, nothing of the sort.
I’d recently begun noticing more and more where I behave this way. Say a person whom I don’t particularly want to be near starts talking. I know that I may want them to go, so all of my responses are tailored so as to subtly (or not so subtly) encourage them to go. Unfortunately, that behavior often carries into conversations with those close to us, with relationship-straining effects.
What I got out of this realization is this: Get out of our your head. Be present with those around you. Be present with yourself. Get out of your own way so you can truly be with those around you. Otherwise even if loved ones surround you, you may still feel alone.
tl:dr: Repeat what others say to ensure understanding rather than assuming. Get out of your head and be present with others.
*Telephone is a game where participants stand side by side. Someone on one of the ends says a phrase, and each person following repeats that phrase. In the end, the person at the end says what he heard, and compares it to the actual phrase spoken by the first person. Very often the phrases are quite different.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the words that we use every day. Most often we speak without too much thought. Others talk to us, and we respond intuitively, often letting lose the first words that come to mind.
One thing that many people don’t think about are the types of vocabulary that they use. I know that I didn’t consider it a factor until relatively recently.
For example, someone with an ‘optimistic’ mindset might use words like “I can”, “It’s okay”, or “There’s always next time”. Whereas someone with a, shall we say, less optimistic mindset might use words such as “It’s too hard,” “The time just wasn’t right”, or “It wasn’t meant to be”.
The difference between the two is that one leaves room for possibility. Te other cleanly shuts it out, albeit in a rather innocuous fashion.
What brought this up was noticing how I approached my business now, versus how I did about a year ago. Sad to say, I’m not currently a millionaire, and have had to get part-time jobs to pay the bills when only a year ago I was fully self-employed and not so subtly telling everyone around me. It was a big deal for me; no one in my family before had done it, so I felt pretty accomplished.
When times got rough, I remember clearly the excuses that I would use to justify what was happening. The words, “The time wasn’t right” still ring in my memory. The time, as it turns out, was never really “right”. Something was always happening that would offset timing. “It’s too hard,” almost became a mantra when a financial hurdle would show up.
I had slowly built up a habit of subterfuge; I’d hit a success and intentionally keep myself from getting too excited so that I’d be “realistic” in my expectations. You never know when something bad could happen.
Well, you never know when something good will happen either. I’m hesitant to say that they’re two sides to the same coin, but it honestly is a bit of a cliche. The coin being life and all the events that happen, and the sides simply being our reactions to them.
And there’s more goodness too. The stupid and not so stupid things we say don’t only affect us. They’re words. Our words consist of our thoughts and feelings, by speaking them you are essentially making them real and measurable.
Because of that, they are then contagious. It’s not that people will only adopt the words we use if they hear them enough, but they can adopt the mindset that comes with them.
What you say can and does impact those around you. You can be realistic, and be upbeat. It’s just as easy to be a dreamer, and also be pessimistic.
I was a pessimistic dreamer, subtly yet swiftly snuffing out dreams with the same vigor it took to dream them up in the first place. That would explain the mixed reactions I’d get from friends and family. People would be inspired by dreams I’d have, and then be sympathetic once they ran dry.
It was a cycle that I never noticed, much less tried to break. Now looking back, I didn’t make a conscious effort to change the words that I’d used. Others around me influenced my internal vocabulary over months of what was a conscious effort to be around people who could affect me in a positive way.
The takeaway from all this? Know that the words you tell yourself, both aloud and in your head voice, can and will impact your quality of life. If there are other people in your life aside from yourself (which there likely are), it can almost certainly affect them as well. So don’t say stupid things.
I don’t swear very often, if at all. I laughed a bit when in The Avengers films, the other super-powered heroes patronize Captain America for pointing out when Tony Stark swears.
Minus the amazing powers, I can relate a bit when I’m around my friends, especially during a game of Cards Against Humanity.
I don’t think swearing is wrong, and won’t think less of anyone for it. I just happened to grow up in an environment that didn’t encourage swearing. I was fascinated by the ways that people could express themselves with a distinct lexicon, that while not complicated, is simply something that would typically take just a bit more effort. The words were satisfying in their eloquence.
While I’m as yet not equipped with a vocabulary that distinguishes itself from everyday speech, it’s something that I aspire to. More so because it’s challenging, and encourages me to think differently than I would otherwise. As a person who writes frequently, it’s also refreshing learning new words every so often.
Like today, the dictionary.com word of the day is “mugwump”. It’s a person who can’t make up their mind on an issue; e.g. someone who can’t take a side.