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Living Life To It’s Fullest Requires Mindfulness and Presence

Part of getting older now is this odd feeling of “Yep, I’ll never do that thing or this thing again, or ever for that matter.” Door feel like they are closing. And I guess that’s natural. At 46 as of this writing, I’m starting to feel scared that given the path I’m on right now, I’ll regret not doing certain things in my life. I’m not living life to it’s fullest.
When I think of having regrets like that, I say “Holy shit, I do not want to regret anything.” Given that there is still time on the clock, I don’t regret anything really. I own the choices I’ve made in my life and can live with my decisions and actions. It’s the stuff I’ve NOT done that is starting to scare me a bit.
I left home for college, got married, had kids. Lived on both coasts. Got jobs, quit jobs. Went on amazing vacations and more. All good decisions, all Carpe Diem. But it’s the things I haven’t done — the things that have truly scared me that worry me.
Like all of us, my journey has been an interesting one. But it’s not over yet. There is a lot more to do and to experience. As I’ve written on this blog, I’m experimenting and learning as fast as I can — or at least faster than I had been until somewhat recently! I do know that while the path I’m on today is better than it was a few years ago, it’s still not quite right.
But on deeper introspection over the past few days as I’ve been writing this post, I realized that this must be how life works. The figuring it out part is life – the really real actual journey. I feel like I have known this for a while but for some reason it is only now sinking in. If life were a movie (I know, it’s not!) then this would be the montage sequence where I struggle and try and fuck up and learn and grow and figure out which direction to head. My character “arc” would progress and I’d learn something new that would lead to growth and change. I feel as if I have managed to ignore a lot of the growth I should have had the past 20 years and now that I’m cognizant of it, I can pay attention to it and honor it.

So, what does it mean to live life to it’s fullest?

What I’m slowly realizing is that the destination is a by product of all that figuring stuff out — let’s call that part “Living life to it’s fullest.” It requires mindfulness and presence. Both things I struggle with. This is an entirely new way to look life for me and it’s a bit disorienting. But it is exciting and feels positive and good. I’m going with it. Because if I’m on my deathbed with regrets, that would be bad. I’d very much like to avoid that fate.
The art of being grateful

How To Practice Being Grateful For What You Have In Life

I read a lot about being grateful. But when it really comes down to it, how do you practice being grateful for what you have? Waking up grateful for being alive is a useful skill to help you keep perspective and to remind yourself of how lucky you are to be alive. It’s very easy to forget all the blessings in life if you aren’t paying attention. It’s incredible how much work it takes to pay attention isn’t it?

In any case, the art of being grateful is something I’ve been practicing the last few months. I don’t do it everyday in any formal practice. What usually happens if I’m honest is that I have a terrible day and end up in a terrible mood. Something in the back of my head clicks and remind myself to get grateful. If that doesn’t work, and I need a bigger dose of gratitude, I set my phone alarm for 5 minutes and get out a blank piece of paper or open a new Evernote file and spend the time writing down everything I’m grateful for in this life. I start with myself and go from there, outward as far as I can imagine until the timer rings.

According to my Evernote files, the last time I did this was January 2016. Names have been changed or deleted.

How To Practice Being Grateful For What You Have In Life. At least, here’s how I do it.

  • Let’s try this instead. I am so completely grateful for my health. Thank you GOD for me not being physically or mentally ill. Sound mind and body, here here.
  • I am grateful for my wife who appears to be sticking by me! I love her so much.
  • I am grateful for my eldest daughter – my nerdy, amazing, lovely, smart daughter.
  • I am grateful for my youngest daughter and her dancing, creativity, personality and insanity – she’s incredible and lovely and funny.
  • I’m grateful for my dog and his nuttiness. Thank god he didn’t run into the woods this am to get that deer. Yikes!
  • I’m grateful for my mom – she loves me and I love her.
  • I’m grateful for my brother who is a putz but is generous in spirit and a good soul.
  • I’m grateful for my sister whom I love and want nothing more than to find her true self.
  • I’m grateful for my friends – old and new – art, ralph, and potsie and the gang.
  • I’m grateful they made a new Star Wars movie. Yes I am.
  • I am grateful for every breath I take, every move I make. Also, for that song. LOL.
  • I’m grateful for living in America and for being born free.
  • I’m grateful for my dad, may he rest in peace. I miss him so much.
  • I am grateful for my G-Ma and Pa who loved me more than anyone has ever loved me, other than probably my own kids.
  • I’m grateful for the weather, it’s incredible out this winter. Wow. Gonna pay for that eventually.
  • I’m grateful for nature and it’s beauty, and for sunrises and sunsets. I’m grateful to be alive – and I’m grateful that every day I get another chance to figure it all out.

That’s it. What’s interesting is the note I left myself at the end of those bullets…

I feel a lot better. That always helps.
That’s how I practice being grateful for what I have. It definitely helps me and I think it might help you.
You are here.

Is This How Life Is Supposed To Be?

Are we in control or not? Do you believe in destiny, fate or some something else? It led me to ask “Is this how life is supposed to be?”

I was never really sure and there are certainly multiple ways of looking at things. When I was younger I thought I’d grow up and have six-pack abs. Seriously. I never gave a single thought as to how that might happen, just that it would. I’d grow into them I think I told myself.

And now that I’m all grown up, I don’t have six-pack abs. And that is how is is supposed to be. I could change it of course. Lots of crunches, a strict lo-carb diet and a cool song montage and I’d be like a model. And then, armed with that six-pack I could make the same statement about them that I just made about not having them… that it is how it is supposed to be.

Life is strange and wonderful in that way. It reminds me of a quote from the great Buckaroo Banzai

“Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

Is this how life is supposed to be?

Let’s break that movie quote down as it has several key parts. First off is the “Don’t be mean” part. Which is nice, cause really, don’t be mean. Mean people suck.

Then, there are the classic and important words that are relevant to this post.  “No matter where you go, there you are.” I remember hearing that quote when I was a kid seeing that movie and knowing somewhere deep inside me those were classic and important words. And now I’m finally seeing why. Because that’s life in a nice neat nutshell. Very else need be said about where you are supposed to be in life, it’s where you are.

The choices you make determine how and where you’ll end up in this life. Want to be happy, then be happy. Want to be successful, then be successful. Minus a debilitating or chronic issues like depression or autism, it may turn out to be that fucking simple. Wouldn’t that just be a trip? I mean, we make things so hard on ourselves by overthinking things when in reality, we can just decide and then make a real plan to get to where we want to go.

Using that logic, I somehow decided consciously or unconsciously to fall asleep at the wheel of my life. I wondered where I was and why I was so unhappy. Well, my choices dictated that reality. And now, with different choices comes a different life. Let’s see how being awake while choices are made impacts the quality and richness of life shall we?

So again I ask, “Is This How Life Is Supposed To Be?” After all, no matter where you go, there  you are.

The Problem with Hustle

If you listen carefully and look around a bit you’ll see a fairly persistent meme and a collection of entrepreneur’s and bloggers espousing a “hustle” lifestyle. If you haven’t bumped into these people yet, there is a collection of entrepreneurs who are hustling all the time, all day, every day. Bragging on social media about working 120+ hour weeks and starting multiple businesses. They write blogs (like this one but, umm, popular?), books, make Youtube videos, have Instagram and Snapchat followers and generally are always on.

For a long time I admired these people. To be honest, I had no idea if they were actually making money or how they were able to sustain such an intense pace. I felt for a long time that I wanted this lifestyle. I read their books, blogs and learned “Getting Things Done.” I posted photos of my travels and humble-bragged about Platinum Status on some fucking airline and fancy hotel upgrades at some other fucking hotel.

Now, for true entrepreneurs I do believe that the true hustle mentality is the best and likely only way to survive and thrive. I get it. Success is damn hard. I take nothing from those talented and dedicated people. Building a successful business is nothing to take lightly. So if that’s your bag, kudos! Go make a million billion dollars with your trillion Facebook fans and your millions of views on your insightful, or funny, or smart videos. If that’s for you, go get em! But beware the bullshit. And remember that life is short, even if it feels like it may last forever.

My awakening has jolted me in many ways. In particular, it’s helped me realize that part of my being unconscious was falling into what I now call the #hustle fantasy.

Here’s how it worked for me, your mileage may vary. It’s the anti-Hustle:

  1. You are ambitious, smart and like money. Who doesn’t like money, right?
  2. You believe that everyone (you in particular) have the talent and drive to copy whatever flavor of successful, famous business man/woman is out there and make a sack of money.
  3. You  spend your time reading and learning from them but find that when you go to apply the lessons, they either don’t work as expected. Or, you  realize you’ve been RUNNING DOWN THE WRONG FUCKING PATH.
  4. You resist because you know what, money is good. Success is good. And shit, money + success = happiness. right?
  5. You forget who you are and become this other person, working in a job you hate, or a career that is clearly wrong. Shit goes wrong. You fight, or worse, ignore your family. You don’t get rich.
  6. You hit the wall.
  7. You wake up one day and if you are lucky, realize you’ve been asleep, dream-walking through life, doing your finest job at ignoring your true self.
  8. You come to a one of likely many decision points to do something about it. Maybe you do, or maybe you don’t. But don’t lie to yourself as if what’s going on isn’t real. Your misery isn’t going on holiday and you can’t buy a Tesla to make it all feel better. Your kids are grown up and your wife, if she’s still around is a total stranger. Even worse, YOU are a stranger to YOURSELF.

What is happening to me, right now, at this moment is that I’ve decided I’m not going to take this shit anymore. I’m waking up. I’m awake. And I refuse to go back to sleep. I’m not perfect, no way, not even close. Sometimes I’m at dinner and not present with my family – but it’s a bad habit now, and not who I am anymore.

Hustling isn’t the problem

Let me be clear. There is no problem with hustle. If you find your passion, your calling and your dream, hustle is like breathing. It’s why true entrepreneurs soak up 18 hour days and come back for more. But don’t be an idiot. Hustle is also what con-artists do, they hustle you out of your money and your time. And you if this blog post resonates with you I have some good news and some bad news for you.

The bad news is that you may be hustling yourself – conning yourself. Lying to yourself that the money makes it all right. Or the travel benefits. Or the job title. Good luck with that. It’s not real. You’ve been hustled.

The good news is that you can wake the fuck up. But the first step is the hardest. You have to realize you are asleep in the first place.

So are you hustling yourself out of the beautiful life you deserve?

Do Not Stop

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Why Commitment is Art

The volume of posts on this blog have skyrocketed to one per day since I started writing again a few weeks ago. There is a reason. It finally sunk in that commitment is art.

I’ve learned that practicing, or finding your art requires true commitment. The ability to sit down and write every day, to produce something worth reading, something honest and something I can publish is not only critical – it is the actual expression of the art itself. This has been an incredible shift in perspective for me.

I started out fast and wrote 6 or 7 posts right off the bat. But now I’ve hit the wall and ideas that seemed worth writing about now seem too hard, or too simplistic to write. Or if I’m really honest about it, require too much honesty. But under no circumstances, will I allow that to stop me from writing something.

This post is likely one of a few that are simply me sitting down to write. Staring at a blinking cursor, wondering what I’m going to write about. I’m practicing my art by writing this post. Not only am I doing the work, I’m also working out ideas in my own head about myself, my commitment and my passion. I’m searching for answers by writing that I’m searching for answers. Very meta, I know.

But the thing is, I’m feeling down today and don’t want to write. I don’t know if that is because the weather is bad, or because I’m just down about one thing or another. I suspect that being up or down is like the tides. They come in and go out and while you know there is a regular pattern, it’s not totally clear why you can’t change it.

The feeling I have of being down somehow has me frustrated. I keep telling myself to buck up, and then remember my meditation practice of acceptance. So I accept I’m down, sit with it and now, I’m writing about it and believe it or not, actually feeling a little better about things.

The very act of sitting down and writing this is art. It may not be world-changing art, but it is art in the sense that I listened to myself, committed to myself and allowed these thoughts to enter the world. That’s art.

So today’s post is just a bit of blatant encouragement. Don’t stop. Keep at it.