Thought to action

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We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
~ Buddha

Have you ever experienced “What was I thinking” moment?

You thought something was a good idea and you signed up for it. After sometime passed, you hardly could believe that you actually thought that was a good idea.

Real example – something I just did last Sunday. When the registration for Jakarta Marathon 2015 opened, I thought it was a good idea to sign up for it and that I will commit to train for it. I ended up not training properly and it turned out to be a slow, arduous and hot marathon. And during the course my mind kept saying, like a broken record “What was I thinking, doing a full marathon in Jakarta? Don’t you know that Jakarta is hot? And air pollution is bad?” and so on. (I did finish it, with a worst marathon timing of 6 hours 22 minutes)

On the other hand, have you ever experienced “Awesome! I’m so happy I thought of it!” moment?

When you have a good idea, and you decided to pursue it, and then the idea manifested into something real, how great the feeling is!

I had this thought when I met this special yoga teacher “I want to learn yoga more than just asana” because he showed that yoga was so much more than asana. I never get to meet that teacher again. After a few years more of joining many variety of yoga styles, I didn’t find the breadth and depth of yoga like that teacher showed, and finally I took a 2 years Diploma of Yoga course from the school where that teacher came from. That course gave me a solid framework to learn more – and since then I met many wonderful teachers whom I always learn something from, and I realized that the key to learning is always come empty and never afraid of asking questions.

So I learned yoga more than just asana, I learned how to instruct a yoga class, and I also aspire to share yoga more than just asana. Now I have people who are looking into doing yoga more than just asana coming to me. I have a weekly meditation group where we practice pranayama, meditation, and discuss yoga-related philosophy.

Some people asked me, how did you make the jump? From a corporate employee to become a yoga instructor & meditation facilitator?

It all started with a thought. And then followed by an action (series of actions – but there’s always the first step).

Often what happens is that the thought is so abstract, humongous, it was overwhelmingly huge, and we don’t know where to start, and the inertia is so strong that it’s easier to just stay where we are.

The key here is to identify an action that we can do to get the ball rolling. To start moving. To beat the inertia.

I learned this from the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, on how to just identify a ‘next action’ item from a project. And project is anything that requires more than just one action to finish. Example: cleaning the bed room is project, because it requires a few steps:

  1. pick things up
  2. wipe all surfaces
  3. mop floor
  4. put things strewn on the bed to its proper place
  5. change bed sheets
  6. etc

When we are not clear of what the next action is, we procrastinate. Yes, that big bad P word. We procrastinate because we thought the situation is not ideal to do something. In the clean bed room example, things are all over the place, so we can’t start doing what’s on our mind when we thought of cleaning (eg sweep the floor). And then we just give up the thought of cleaning the bed room altogether.

The above example is pretty simple, yet this concept can be applied to any projects no matter how big or complex – just divide it into smaller sub-projects, and keep breaking it down until you identify the next actions.

A useful next action list will always start with a verb, and quite specific, example:

  • Call Mom re Dad’s surprise birthday party
  • Look into selling cabinet
  • Buy eggs
  • Read chapter 4 of the text book
  • Email boss re holiday leave
  • Write a draft post before Monday

And so on. Once an action item is done, usually it will generate a new situation/condition/feedback, that will in turn generate more action items. One action followed by another action, that’s how we progress.

So there, everything we do started with a thought, and it’s all within our power to translate the thought to action. A useful skill is knowing if a thought is a data (for reference), a project (with an outcome in mind), an action (do it, or delegate it, or schedule it), or something that you don’t need (trash it).

Up next – from actions to habits.

Image of a Buddha statue at Borobudur Temple – taken by myself November 2014

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Thought to destiny

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This is something I heard in a lecture recently.

Thought drives action.
Action forms habit.
Habit creates character.
Character becomes destiny.
~ Swami Dhanurdhara

So the notion “Change your thoughts, change your destiny” is actually correct, because thought becomes action, action becomes habit, habit becomes character, and character determines destiny. The key here is the process in between thought and destiny: action, habit, and character.

Thoughts are the basic building blocks. Thoughts are always there – it’s as inseparable from the functioning living brain as heartbeats is inseparable from of a living heart. Can we control thoughts? Yes – it is actually one of the few things that we are in control. How to control it? This takes training and practice.

Untrained mind go all over the place and the resulting thoughts are very random. One of the mind’s main function is survival, and thus the untrained mind will go to the default survival mode, where it operates based on external stimuli, and react accordingly to the stimuli. Good stimuli – come closer. Bad stimuli – avoid. Example: apple pie (good) – come closer and eat it. Snake (bad) – avoid (fight or flight). This basic process is key to survival, and our ancestors who could come up with timely appropriate reaction were the ones who survived. This opportunistic and paranoid tendencies were present again in their offsprings (us) –  and the ones who weren’t opportunistic nor paranoid didn’t survive. So we all inherited this attributes. The untrained mind, operating on survival mode, works wonderfully when we were living out there in the wilderness where scarcity of food or becoming food to other animals were live or dead situation. In this modern world, this untrained mind doesn’t work so well.

Thoughts produced by the untrained mind revolves around pseudo-survival situation… and usually it’s in the form of worrying about the future, or evaluating and thinking about the past. Instead of being fully in the present moment, the untrained mind was busy with “What ifs” scenario and keep producing thoughts that are a few steps a head of the current situation.

Can we change how the mind works? Yes. How? We can train it, and we can make sure the mind only take in good stuff.

Just like the body can be trained by exercise, the mind can also be trained. One of the most effective way I know to train the mind is meditation. In meditation, the mind is trained to focus on one thing. The mind is like a projector – and thoughts are frame by frame pictures projected. Meditation is keeping the projected pictures stays the same. It is not about eliminating the picture – as long as the projector is on, there will be pictures; but we train it to project the same pictures again and again.

The projected picture itself is affected by what the mind consumes. If we let bad things come into the ears (eg gossip, negativity) – then the projected pictures could be affected by it. If we selectively only put positive things in, then the projected pictures tend to be more positive as well. So if we want good thoughts, surround ourself with good things. Good music, good books, good people, good art etc.

These two things – training the mind and making sure mind only consume good stuff, is absolutely within our control. We can’t control what happen outside, but we can control our mind, and thus we can control our action towards what happen outside.

Image: Close up of The Thinker by Todd Martin

On running

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Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.
~ Oprah Winfrey

When I just started running, finishing a full marathon the whole 42.195 kilometres, was unthinkable. I started running in 2010, because I had ‘Run a 10K’ on my 43things list. After that first race I was hooked. I met many new runner friends, ran more races, joined a running group, and slowly built up my mileage. In January 2011 I broke my left feet metatarsal (the outermost bone of the feet between the pinky toes & heels). Not because of running, hiking, or anything – but because I fell down the stairs at home. I stopped running for about 3 months – and slowly build it up again. After that I finished my first half marathon at the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon in December 2011. And then I managed to make my husband join a 5K race, and he’s also hooked to running ever since. Running became an activity we do together, and running with someone we love is much more fun.

After finishing a few more half marathons, I decided to do a full marathon. For a runner a full marathon distance is an important milestone. A bragging right. So yes I am a marathoner, albeit a slow one. I finished my first marathon at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014 last November. I wasn’t training properly due to my yoga teaching, training, and travel schedule. I managed to squeeze some long runs, I decided I would just run happy only aiming to finish under 6 hours. And I managed to do it, I finished in 5 hours 47 minutes, so I was quite happy.

Second full marathon is Tokyo Marathon this February. My preparation for the Tokyo Marathon hasn’t been that good either. And I just get back from extended travelling to Dubai & India with only 2 days gap before flying to Tokyo. Anyway again I don’t set time target except that I want to finish under 6 hours, I’m just gonna run happy and finish happy.

Non-runner friends ask me “Aren’t you bored during running?”

Nope, I’m not bored during running. Well at the beginning I did need distractions to run, I had to listen to music during my runs, both on treadmills and outdoors. But as I run more often I actually enjoy running more when I listen to my breath and focus on my body when I run instead of listening to the music. So I don’t listen to music when I run anymore.

When I run with friends, I enjoy the conversations during the run. Talking with someone during runs help me check my effort level too – if I can still speak short sentences that means I’m OK. If I can speak long sentences comfortably that means I’m too slow, and if I’m so breathless that I can’t speak at all that means I’m too fast.

When I run alone, and that’s the case during a race or training in the track, I think of my running like meditation. Sometimes I say the mantra Om silently with each exhale. Sometimes I contemplate during the run. Sometimes I just witness the mind thinking during the run. Sometimes I concentrate on my breath. Sometimes I focus on how my body feels. Sometimes I talk to myself.

I think running plays a role in strengthening my discipline and willpower. Running breaks inertia, reducing tamasic tendency, instilling a ‘go for it, just do it’ attitude. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy, I just do it to get it over and done with. But more often after a few minutes of running I actually enjoy the running itself. The more often I won over the lazy self, the stronger my willpower become.

Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.
~Doris Brown Heritage

Now running has become so much part of me I have to do it, rain or shine. I bring my running clothes and shoes when I’m travelling and try go for short runs, and it’s a good way to check out new places too.

I finished my second full marathon the Tokyo Marathon yesterday, got a new PB (personal best) of 5:31:17. Happy!

Some tips to get started running:

  • run with friends or family – join a running group or get people around you to run together
  • get proper running shoes
  • start slow and build up distance & speed slowly. Most injury happens when we try to do too much too soon
  • besides running do other activities that increase strength & flexibility. Eg yoga, pilates, strength training, etc.
  • stay hydrated – bring water along or bring some money to buy
  • use sports tracking app to track the trainings & keep the motivation up. I use Nike+ app.
  • register yourself to 5K or 10k running race, ideally still 2-3 months away. The race will provide motivation to train

Some running resources:

Related post within this blog:

The value of attention

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Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.
~ Seth Godin

These days, with always-connected gadgets in our hands, we’re overloaded by so many information. Some of them are good, some of them are useful, some of them are beneficial, but a lot of them doesn’t add any value to our life. Our limited span of attention are spread thin, one second we were looking at the computer screen, and then we look at the smartphone screen, and back to the computer screen, which has multiple windows open, and back to the phone again, or the tablet, which also has multiple tabs, and then there’s the TV, and the radio, and don’t forget today’s newspapers or this week’s magazine, not to mention the billboards and banners we passed on the street, and so on and so forth. Never ending stuff all vying for our attention.

Even this blog itself is seeking your attention. Although I only post it on my own social media and don’t actively advertise it, this blog is also fighting to get your attention among the many other things a reader can spend his attention to.

There’s this term “attention economy” used in a 1997 article by Michael H. Goldhaber, here. An articulation of attention economy written in 1971 by Herbert A. Simon (via Wikipedia):

“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it”

Because there are overflowing things that calls for (consumes) our attention, then our attention becomes scarce. And when something is scarce, it becomes valuable. How valuable is it? How much is our attention valued? It depends on what sort of medium that holds our attention. Ironically, the ones who put monetary numbers on the value of attention are, marketeers. Marketeers strive for our attention on behalf of the brands (products/services by corporations) they represent.

I work in marketing, so I know about marketing and brand management quite a bit. I’m speaking from my own experience. Here are some of the phrases used to quantify our attention: eyeballs, exposures, impressions, views, CPM (cost per thousand view), click throughs, engagements, footfall, traffic. Etc. They all are referring to some form of attention from the audience, which brands call ‘target market’. Our attention is sold and bought by someone other than us, which is the marketeer. Somehow someone else, other than us, is making money from our decision on what we are paying attention to. Mark Manson wrote that in the future, our attention will be sold. I think it’s already happening now.

If brands (via marketeers) are willing to spend money to get our valuable attention, then it’s only logical if we put a value on it ourself. But we often take our attention for granted, and gave our attention away so freely, to advertisements, videos, pictures, news, chats, etc. If we value our attention properly, we will only give it to what really matters. To the loved ones, family, friends, people around us. And don’t forget to give attention to our own self, sometimes we’re so busy looking outside that we forgot to pay attention to ourself.

I’m trying to wean down my screen time as well. I mostly don’t watch TV, just a bit here and there when it is on. But I’m guilty of having my eyes glued to computer screen or the phone screen most of the time. Browsing, googling, reading news, checking email, checking the various social media, among many other things. I haven’t found a surefire trick to lessen my screen time except trying to be more mindful about it. I used to fall for those ’12 celebrities picture without make up you won’t recognize!’ headlines, because who doesn’t wanna see Scarlett Johansson looking like an average normal person? It gives a sense of relief that they’re not that flawlessly beautiful after all. With mindfulness we can catch ourself before clicking the link that will eventually lead into more mindless attention sucking stuff. With mindfulness we can, in Rumi’s word, know what to ignore.

The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.
~ Rumi

According to Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999), the way to manage our attention is through meditation, and by focusing to one thing at a time. I do practice meditation, not as often as I would like, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. I also try to incorporate more focus in my daily life, for example focus to the food when I’m eating, and focus to listening to the other person I’m with instead of checking out the phone for new emails, messages, or status updates.

Through meditation and by giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose.
~ Eknath Easwaran

When we understand the value of our attention, we realize that attention is one of the best thing we can give to others. We then appreciate more when someone gives attention to us, and we try to do the same to others.

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
~ Simone Weil

So, if you make it this far, thank you very much for your attention. I sincerely hope you find this post is worth of the attention you gave. I’m not trying to market or sell anything here, and I don’t have any agenda, I’m just sharing my own personal thoughts. If there’s an occasional advertisement below, it’s from wordpress, the free blog platform I’m using, not from me. And it’s up to you to ignore it or to pay attention to it.

Related to this post within this blog:
Where’s the line? – where does marketing ends and lying starts?

Image of dog from freehdw.com

Youniverse

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It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
~Neil deGrasse Tyson

This week’s post is that kind of post that shows the reason why I started blogging. It’s my self-conversation put into written words, because I think better when I write (characteristic of INFP type personality). This post may read random, jumpy, and may not make sense. Continue with your own discretion.

Definition of ‘You’ and ‘Universe’ from dictionary:
You – used to refer to any person or to people in general
Universe – the totality of known or supposed objects and phenomena throughout space; the cosmos; macrocosm

A google search on ‘youniverse’ reveals that there aren’t a fixed definition of it yet. There are some apps and business using it as a brand, trendwatching.com named ‘youniverse’ as a trend, and R.C.W Ettinger published a book titled Youniverse.

My own thought behind ‘youniverse’ is that you, me, us, everyone, and the rest of creation, is the same, coming from the same source, and going back to the same source. There’s a saying “We are all made of stardust” – this goes well with ‘youniverse’.

I’m reminded of this anime Ghost In The Shell (1995). The story is set in the futuristic Japan, where robotics and cyborgs are deeply integrated into human life. The heroine, ‘Major’ Motoko Kusanagi, a squad leader of an all-guy special cyber law enforcement team, has a full cybernetic body except of her brain. Motoko wonders whether her “ghost”, or her soul, is real – whether she still have any humanity left. She thinks perhaps her memories of past human life is artificially generated, and she was never human at all, but purely synthetic.

A dialogue between Motoko and her second-in-command, Batou:
Motoko: “Maybe all full-replacement cyborgs like me start wondering this… that perhaps the real ‘me’ died a long time ago, and I’m a replicant made with a cyborg body and computer brain. Or maybe there never was a real ‘me’ to begin with.”
Batou: “You’ve got real brain matter in that titanium skull of yours. And you get treated like a real person, don’t you?”
Motoko: “Has anyone seen their own brain? My believe in my existence is only based on what my environment tells me.”
Batou: “Don’t you believe in your own ghost?”
Motoko: “And what if a computer brain could generate a ghost and harbor a soul? On what basis then do I believe in myself?”

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Motoko and Batou – Ghost in the Shell (1995)

It’s an interesting anime, makes one think about life and what defines human life. Here it is on youtube. DreamWorks will produce the feature film, scheduled to be released April 2017.

What’s the relation between an anime and the universe?

Like Motoko, along the journey of life, some of us at one point start to ask “Who am I? What am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?” Having these questions, and trying to find the answers, is a blessing in itself – that means we’re starting to see through the dark glass. We’re starting to wake up. The veil is thinning. The fog is less dense. The colorings are diminishing.

Alan Watts (1915-1973) answered these questions in this 4-minute video. See it, listen to what he was saying. Let it sink… and see it again, and again. Once is not enough.

I thought it’s best to put this into Q&A format.

Q: Who am I? or What am I?
A: You’re it. You are the universe. I am that. Tat tvam asi. Aham brahmasmi.

Q: Why am I here?
A: Because you are the universe. You are here to experience yourself.

Q: Where am I going?
A: Nowhere. There’s only here and now. And I just realized that ‘nowhere’ is made of not only ‘no’ and ‘where’ but also ‘now’ and ‘here’. Interesting hey.

Q: If we are the universe, why don’t we feel like we’re the universe?
A: Because we have delusion, like Arjun in Bhagavad Gita. We forgot, we don’t remember. We mistakenly identify ourself with this ‘I’, this body, this mind, and subsequently with the other things the ‘I’ is identified with (species, family, career, roles, gender, nationality, religion, etc). Our vision is covered with the veil of avidya (ignorance). We think we’re separated, while in reality we’re all one. The edges and boundaries (the skin, the ‘I’) are not separator, but rather a medium, a bridge, a connector, an interface between us and the rest of creation. It is this illusion of separateness that stops us from being here and now. It is this illusion of separateness that makes us think there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that feeling of something is missing, and we think we have somewhere to go, something to achieve. And this stops us from being here and now.

Q: Why do we have illusion of separateness in the first place? Why not just stay in the one-ness?
A: In order to experience, there has to be: A. the experiencer, and B. the thing to be experienced. So, there’s the Subject, the experiencer, who experiences, and there’s the Object, the thing to be experienced. What happens is the experiencer is so caught up and busy experiencing that he forgets his true nature, he forgets he is not separate.

Q: Why some experiences are ‘good’, and some experiences are ‘bad’?
A: In order for something to be experienced, there’s gotta be a gradation of different qualities attached to it. This qualities have two far ends, two polarities, like a magnetic field has north and south poles. And here comes duality: yin yang, light dark, hot cold, dry wet, up down, something nothing… it’s the foundation of an experience. Because in order for the Subject to experience light, there has to be darkness, because if it’s all light, without anything other than light to compare it with, the experiencer couldn’t tell that it’s light, there’s no difference, no point of reference. However, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is only our perception. In reality there’s no good and bad; the experience is just is.

Q: Why does the universe wants to experience itself?
A: Universe is playing the eternal game of Hide and Seek with itself. It’s Lila, the divine play.

Q: You’re not making sense.
A: I’m trying my best to put this into words. I’m forever learning and may not be skillful enough yet to write this down. Feel free to accept or reject it.

For the benefit of those who didn’t watch the youtube above, here is Alan Watt’s words. I posted it before here along with a quote by John Hagelin, a particle physicist, and he used scientific terms but the meaning is the same.

You are something the whole universe is doing, the same way as a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.
~Alan Watts

Image from http://www.nasa.gov

Health is wealth

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It is health that is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

It is said that health is the only true wealth. I agree; without health, there’s nothing else. Without health we can’t enjoy anything – the world, the people around us, the food we eat, the nice house we live in, etc. But peculiarly we very often forgot about this, and put health in the backseat.

I’ve been through that. Somehow I placed my health secondary to career. I worked 12 hours a day (sometimes more), didn’t exercise, didn’t eat properly, smoked cigarettes, hunched in front of a screen all day. Gulped coffee to keep me going and pulled all-nighters when needed. My body protested by giving some warning signs. There were the monthly flu, the headaches and lethargy. Fell ill several times, although I didn’t need to be hospitalised, the doctors ordered a few days of complete rest at home.

Thankfully along the way my priorities got sorted out. I must thank yoga for that, it was through yoga that I became more in touch with myself, and started to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It didn’t happen overnight, but the small changes accumulated. Now it’s been years since I fell ill or had the flu. I very rarely have headaches or feeling unwell. I have reasonably good energy level during the day and sleep soundly at night. Not only baseline healthy, I can say now I’m fit as well, I participate in endurance sports for fun.

There are plenty of healthy lifestyle advise out there, there’s no lack of resources to get started. And there’s nothing new really, it’s all common sense. No quick fixes, no magic pills. It boils down to the choices we make everyday. Here’s a list of the small changes towards healthier lifestyle that I did.

  • Reduce sugar intake. The fastest way to do this is by not adding sugar to your tea or coffee (obviously), and give up packaged drinks (soft drinks, bottled juices, anything in tetrapaks, instant 3in1 hot choco, etc). Read the nutrition label and see the sugar content.
  • Eat more naturally. Always choose food that is least processed. Avoid instant & packaged food. Avoid biscuits and snacks. I know sometimes it is not practical, but just do the best we can.
  • Exercise. Find an activity that you like to do, that moves the body in such a way that it raises the heart rate and get some sweat going. For me it’s yoga and running, now I include strength training as well. The key here is finding what we enjoy doing, be it dancing, swimming, basketball, martial arts, whatever. If we enjoy it, we’ll stick with it.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits. Always have some fruits ready at the fridge, bring easy to peel fruits to work (eg bananas, oranges). Order salad if we eat out.
  • Drink enough plain water. I used to keep a 2 litre jug at the desk at work and my target is to finish the water in a day.
  • Savor the food we eat properly. Take time to enjoy the texture and flavor, and chew thoroughly.
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. The body functions better with a routine. Sleep enough that when we wake up in the morning we feel fresh and alert.
  • Drink freshly squeezed lemon water in the morning.
  • Avoid junk food. Try to prepare food at home as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, find a healthier food vendor, take a healthy catering if necessary.
  • Have enough quiet downtime. Journalling, meditate, read, anything that gives the body-mind a break, a quiet time.

Now I’m fine-tuning my food intake by consuming more alkaline and sattvic food. I adapted this from a book that my guru published, The Wellness Sense, a practical guide for physical and emotional health based on Ayurvedic & yogic wisdom. It’s available in ebook format from Amazon.

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This book is not only about food. There is explanation on the body’s constitution (the three doshas), yogic and Ayurvedic cleansing practices, cycle of disease, mental afflictions and detoxification, and much more. Swamiji summarized healthy living in three key points: simplify our life (in all aspects), everything in balance and moderation, and always remember to be grateful for this life we’ve been blessed with.

When we are healthy, we can enjoy life fully, and that’s the whole point of living isn’t it? To enjoy the creation. With a healthy body and mind, we can continue doing what we do best in the best way we can, and continue contributing to others and to the world.

I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.
~ Joyce Meyer

The essence of yoga and all the faiths and traditions is to be easeful in body, peaceful in mind, and useful in life. The aim of yoga is to make the body healthy and the mind tranquil and pure. With a pure mind and a healthy body, you become a useful instrument for God.
~ Sri Swami Satchidananda

Pass it on

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The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; the meaning of life is to give the gift away.
~ David Viscott

Lucky are those who knew their gift from early on, like Mozart, and spent the rest of his lifetime doing it.

Don’t despair – some people discovered it relatively late in their life. Check out this cool infographic about Late Bloomers from fundersandfounders.com.

How to discover our gift?

The philosopher Alan Watts (1915-1973) posed the question “What if money is no object? What do you desire?” to get people to start thinking and finding their gifts. If there’s something you really enjoy doing, so much so that if you don’t have to work for money you’ll be doing that most of the time, be it climbing trees, riding horse, playing musical instrument, painting, making people laugh, etc, there’s a very good chance that the particular activity may be something close to your gift.

Here’s the comic version of the same subject by the talented Gavin Aung Than at zenpencils.com

But what if we don’t have a clue? Years of conditioning by education and society makes us lose touch with ourself. We’re so brainwashed with the mindset of success equals material gain, or status, or fame, and secure future. And thus we run along the familiar rat race, bogged down in the routine: wake up, go to work (more often something we don’t really like doing), go home, sleep, repeat. And so on. Until one day we question – is that all there is? Work for money, and splurge the money for a new gadget/car/home/etc or a 2-weeks lavish vacation to new destination?

Is that all there is? Why spend 50 weeks doing something we don’t like in order to be able to have 2 weeks dream vacation? What if we can do what we like in the 50 weeks, wouldn’t that be better? Of course we still have to pay the bills, so that thing we like to do ideally able to generate us some income. In order to do that we’ll have to be good at it, we have to be expert in it. And to become an expert in something is to spend more time doing it.

If we don’t know what is our gift yet, start with experiencing many things. Not closing door to anything. Take every opportunity to try new things. Meet new people. Learn new skills. Read various books. Travel to new places. If we found something we really like to do, spend more time doing that, so we get better and become good at it. When we are good at something, there’ll be opportunity to give the gift away – to pass it on.

If we try something new and it doesn’t stick, that’s okay. Now we know. And can move on trying other things. The most important thing here is to do something; not just stay in our own comfort zone and moaning that we don’t know what our gifts are.

Often I hear people say “But I’m too old/weak/stiff/etc” or “But I’m not smart/pretty/rich/etc enough”. Or the other one I often hear is “But I don’t have time/money/resources/etc”. Or “But I don’t know anything else besides what I do”. I’m sorry to break this news – if you think that way, then that’s how it’s gonna be. Like Henry Ford said:

Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.

The good news is, if we think we can, somehow there’ll be a way. Universe will arrange something, and it’s up to us to be open enough to grace to notice it, and to take action on it.

Here’s something for new year motivation – from the fine folks at holstee.com

holstee-download-manifesto-white-ipad

Hand & heart image by mylittlebluesky photography