There’s angst that rises from within, a silent cry. We reach out to our own identities in a busy, loud world that forces us to have, to own, to go, to do, force a smile, fake happiness. It wants our constant unswerving attention; it wants to master us, keeping us distracted, discouraging us from stopping, thinking, reflecting and discovering out who we are. That can only be found reaching within.
We exchange peace and solitude for constant limelight, the social media spotlight. That is killing us; our species is living a severe existential crisis. For most, that angst is kept silence within while striving to ‘get by with a smile.’
When we forget the simple we neglect the essential; we become blind to what is truly beautiful in this world.
Too much social yet not much living. Too much attention-grabbing effort very little delivering value affecting the lives of people in a meaningful way. The numbers battle, we all want a piece of the action, a dive in the money stack, a ride in the Lamborghini, a nightstand with the blonde of the hunk with six-pack with a bright smile.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus have written an amazing book on slowing down and reducing your living so you can live a more fulfilled life – Minimalism: Essential Essays. The essence is to look inside of you and ask the question how much do I really need to be happy?
“Happiness, as far as we are concerned, is achieved through living a meaningful life, a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which we can grow as individuals and contribute to other people in meaningful ways. Growth and contribution: those are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff. This may not sound sexy or marketable or sellable, but it’s the cold truth. Humans are happy if we are growing as individuals and if we are contributing beyond ourselves. Without growth, and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are just slaves to cultural expectations, ensnared by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success.” ― Joshua Fields Millburn, Minimalism: Essential Essays
In Walden, transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau encourages us to pursuit nobility in living a simple life surrounded by nature. He is on a journey towards natures and his own nature. In 2015, I decided to start this journey, the one I’m still on and have not to regretted an inch. When you stop living under the pressure of others, society, family and friends you can finally stop and breathe.
Fact is we have never had so much ‘social’ online time and never felt so much isolated and lonely. We have traded living for existing. What should we do then?
STOP – TURN AROUND – TAKE A BREATH – SMILE INSIDE – BE THANKFUL – JUST BE
In Thoreau’s case, The Minimalists guys and even myself we discovered that going back to nature as well as going back to one’s nature was the key to leave a life of social conformity and embrace a life of true self-reliance and self-actualisation.
20 years ago today I was landing in Manchester to study then moved up to Yorkshire to build and develop partnerships between Brazil and the UK. I had plans to stay for a couple of years max then move over to the continent.
Time flies… As I prepare to finally transition this year I would have never thought or imagined Britain would be coming out of the EU. Who would have thought of that 20 years ago (apart from Mr. Farage and his circus friends 🤡)?
I still remember what the immigration official asked me when interviewing me for the visa: _’Are you sure you want to come to this country? Have you seen the weather outside?’ Yes, it was one of those horrible Mancunian days. I still don’t know if I have ever been sure, to be honest… joking!
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
The weather does play an important role in shaping our mood and emotions when you live in the British Islands, however, it is just one variable in the equation. There’s has been many more factors at play that have shaped who I have become in the past 20 years. I’m so grateful for the number of amazing people the Universe brought into my life. Life is never a straight line and God only knows how hard the journey had been many times (some of my closest friends can testify to that). Nevertheless, I’m blessed with the gift of stubbornness, so I’m still here, pushing forward, enriched by the love and warm welcome I had in the British Islands and purposeful as ever.
I’m indebted to all the friends I got along the way from many different nations from around the world for the loving support, partnership and for believing in me. I love you all and have cherished all these last 20 years. I think I can say without hesitation I’m a proud BBB – Brazilian Born British. I was born in Rio but surely I have got a Yorkshire heart. “I’m chuffed t’bits wi’ that.”
I’m humbled today and have my 💓 filled with gratitude, great ride, amazing folks, deep learning, opportunities for growth, some bad moves and few falls, new starts, few great hits, isn’t what life is all about after all? For the future, while I’m still around, as Mr Young once sang, gonna “Keep on Rockin’ in the free world! 🎤🎸🎶
The key when embracing a new culture is the identification without the loss of your own cultural identity, embrace the new and retain the old, adapt, change but keep true to yourself. Seek to help others along the way and exchange value, as you enrich other you are enriched back.
No man can become rich without himself enriching others
Creed also had a 1999 hit that speaks to me as this is the dream of all of us who wants a better Earth for all to live, those who want to leave a dent in the universe as Jobs once put it.
“Although I would like our world to change It helps me to appreciate Those nights and those dreams But, my friend, I’d sacrifice all those nights If I could make the Earth and my dreams the same The only difference is To let love replace all our hate So let’s go there Let’s make our escape Come on, let’s go there Let’s ask can we stay?” Creed, Higher
John C. Maxwell states that “Nothing sells like confidence”. The ability to connect successfully with others, build rapport, engage in meaningful work with great results and outcomes are directly liked to our sense of self-worth and identity, and this gives us clear purpose and direction.
When we were still young, most of us dreamt of greatness . We dreamt of fame, fortune and stardom. I thought I would be a famous rock star with millions begging to watch me play guitar with my band. what is left from those childhood dreams? What have we grown up to be?
What about you? What was your dream? How did you wanted to change the world or touch people’s lives? Suddenly, reality comes crashing down on us, we then realise that time has passed us by and most of those foolish dreams of youth never came to pass. But were they really foolish? Or an expression of our true self?
Everything moves so fast, in the blink of an eye the world turns, all change, we have grown up, waking up next to a stranger. Another blink of an eye, we have kids, go to work, repeat and repeat, then we retire, we sit on a rocking chair looking at the whole surroundings and ask ourselves, was that it?
From my long curly ‘Slash’ hairdo nothing is left now. What about you? Are you are late for work? Do you hate that job? Feel stuck? what the f#$k has just happened? Well, time just happened!
But that’s not all, we are still here and while we are still breathing we can still change and make a change, we can still dream new dreams and realise new things.
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined, The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Perhaps asking oneself key pertaining existential questions such as who am I? Where am I going? or how can I change my life? could be the starting point of a reflective crossroads that will eventually liberate you. Just breathe for a moment. It reminds me of Tom Hanks final scene in his highly acclaimed movie ‘Cast Away’.
Shouldn’t we stop immediately then, reset, reprogram ourselves and restart? Unfortunately, for most, that is not the case. Life pressures and demands push us to accelerate, never stop, go, go, go… we can’t afford to think, the kids are out there waiting to be fed, the boss is on the phone asking for an update on the latest client project, walk the dog, help the neighbours, meet friends, play with club members, they all want a piece of you, of your time, life happens.
With life kickbacks come disappointments, frustrations, sadness, a sense of low self-esteem that leads to emotional inertia, decision paralysis, and a complete loss of identity. This whole sequence of events derail all our sweet childhood dreams. But many still find that path or redefine what it means to live and rediscover happiness and enjoyment. There are still time to turn around and move towards our true nature.
“Those who wish to be must put aside the alienation Get on with the fascination the real relation The underlying theme…”Limelight, Rush
In losing one true-self and identity, a person tends to turns to distraction, doping themselves with entertainment, food, or anything else that can occupy the empty space within. A quick fix, a distraction and short-lived ‘innocent’ fun become two of the best companion drugs to alleviate the pain and the emptiness. Reality TV for a self-deceptive life. “That is not the life outcome I envisioned” one might think.
Still, it is never too late, one can always turn around and move in a different direction. Although not without personal sacrifices, a strong unswerving will and a deep commitment to cut oneself from anything and anyone that is not going in the new direction of life. That is exactly what the word decision means, to cut oneself from…
The amazing thing is that you can start today, right now. Ryan Holiday in this book ‘The Perennial Seller’ put it simply that the best time for one to have started something would have probably been 5, 10 or 20 years ago, but the second best time is NOW! so now is the only time we have to change, to find oneself.
Growing up as a kid that has always seem to be one of my greatest areas of concern. The future is shaped but the decision we make in our present time. Those decisions are shaped by the state of our minds. Our destiny for better or worse is determined by those choices.
No matter who you are or what you do, where you work, how much money or friends you have, whether you are successful or not, there are three realities affecting us every day – time, our mind and our actions.
We are all engaged in the physical world around us, the first reality we are welcomed in when we are born.
Secondly, as our awarenesses grow as humans we realise we can think and engage with others in this physical world. Our thoughts start then reminding us that we do not only have a conscience but we also have feelings and emotions to deal with. Though we haven’t got a clue how to handle them, we have decisions to make and barely any time given to think about them.
Thirdly, in the world we live in today, we are surrounded by an invisible yet prevailing cloud of information, data and digital technology forcing us to learn fast how to navigate through the challenges presented by this new environment or risk to be left behind.
I’ve diligently set out to explore and research the intersection of those three realities and how they are now and will continue to shape our lives in years and decades to come.
The future is the only destination we have, but we look to the past and learn from our history, our personal stories and narratives, we learn to make decisions in the present that eventually will affect where we will be tomorrow.
I would like to invite you to join me in discovering together what all that means to us. How we can build better relationships, business practices and learning systems to empower people to be and to live their life given dreams. Help business to grow ethically and sustainable, and hopefully to become better human beings.
“…Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.– CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, AS DOC BROWN (Back to the Future)
American Psychologist Rollo May believed depression was the “inability to construct a future”. Depression is rampant in our modern society and a very complex subject to tackle.
Whilst a great portion of what is felt when depressed might be related to physiology and chemicals in our brains, a lot of it is directly associated to the way one thinks of oneself. The way in which I reflect and respond to stimuli and the narratives I construct create my ‘reality’, almost always related to my past life registries and the interpretation of my personal history.
That has a direct effect on the choices I make and the decisions I take for the creation of a better future. This is true for every single human being. Some have managed to rewire their brains retraining their minds whilst the large majority lead as Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “lives of quiet desperation”.
Many people get trapped in an ever-present past reality. Living and reliving an almost unconscious sensory loop, oblivious to the mind trap they find themselves in. Self shortsightedness prevents them from reasoning the meaning and origin of such feelings. Then they go on blaming life, God, family members, past relationships, the world (you name it!) for the state they find themselves in and their shortcomings in life.
They miss the power that exists in the NOW because they just can’t let go of their past traumas, pain, sorrows, fears and frustrations. All those toxic negative experiences caged inside the mind become a constant trap in moving forward towards the desired future.
NOW is all we have to change anything! Don’t let you past negative experience, toxic relationships and traumas dictate how you live, your decisions and how you move on with your life. TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR MIND!
The only power your past has over you is the one you give to it, the meaning it has for you. You don’t have to trip over what is behind if you just leave it behind, for good!
According to Wikipedia James Allen “was British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement.” I read his famous book ‘As a Man Thinketh’ a few years ago, it had a profound impact on my life during a very tough period I was living at the time. I have recently found some of the quotes I wrote from the book and decided to post them here.
Compared to Allen and many who have gone through similar life conditions, truly, I’ve had it easy! His dad was pronounced dead two days after arriving in the US where he was seeking after a better life for his family. Allen, age 15 then, had to stop his studies to work and support his impoverished family.
Another site devoted to Allen’s life mentioned that “James Allen is a literary mystery man. His inspirational writings have influenced millions for good. Yet today he remains almost unknown…… None of his nineteen books give a clue to his life other than to mention his place of residence – Ilfracombe, England. His name cannot be found in a major reference work. Not even the Library of Congress or the British Museum has much to say about him.”
“He never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice.” wrote Mitch Horowitz in his work “James Allen: A Life in Brief”.
Allen’s life was the message, what he had to do was to pack that in writing format and feed it to his readers. And that is where all the power lies. The secret was in the way he lived out his own philosophy, that would empower his thoughts and words on the piece of paper. In orther words, what impact us aren’t when we read his words are not emptied rhetoric but sweat, blood, tears and badassness in face of calamities, challenges and sufferings. Your writing comes alive when it is birth out of the fiery furnace of life torments, words pierce through the flakiness, excuses and comfort of us readers.
From his official webpage we read that “In 1901, when Allen was 37, he wrote his first book, From Poverty to Power. In 1902 he wrote his second book, As a Man Thinketh. Although this would be Allen’s most successful book, it is said that he felt it be unsatisfactory and not worthy of print. It was his wife, Lily, who convinced him to publish it. Allen wrote 19 books in all.”
It is also claimed that Allen sought to live a Tolstoyan life-style, meaning, a life of voluntary poverty, manual labour and ascetic self-discipline. Russia greatest novelist Count Leo Tolstoy apparently had some influence in his life choices, values and virtues.
Below I have copied my favourite passages from his second book ‘As a Man Thinketh’:
“Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.”
“Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”
“O my soul, the time I trust will be, when thou shalt be good, simple, more open and visible, than that body by which it is enclosed.”
“Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life”
“They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pityings, all of which are indications of weakness, which lead, just as surely as deliberately planned sins (though by a different route), to failure, unhappiness , and loss, for weakness cannot persist in a power evolving universe”
“Achievement, of whatever kind, is the crown of effort, the diadem of thought”
“There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice and a man’s worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance”
“Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals ; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditionals, all, heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will, at last, be built”
“Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it”
“You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration”
“The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities”
“Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise without your thoughts, your Vision, your Ideal”
“A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought , and as he develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene”
“The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart— this you will build your life by, this you will become”
in other words, be MONOMANIACAL ABOUT YOUR BEAUTIFUL LIFE OBSESSION!
“The strong, calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character, which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold —yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money seeking looks in comparison with a serene life— a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal Calm”
“Self-control is a strength; right thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”
In Summary, Allen teaches two essential truths – “today we are where our thoughts have taken us, and we are the architects – for better or worse – of our futures.”
The only power we have when change winds blow it is to be found in the choices we make. Which direction to set our sails, which train to board or plane to take, which way to go…what to do.. choices will bring you closer to your dreams or further away…
“…So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us…”
The Latin quote popularised by Dick’s book is one I particularly have close to my heart and thoughts every day. We never know what is out there waiting for us. Our freedom can be taken away, out lifestyle, our loved ones and even our own life. A million things can obliterate our plans and shattered our dreams. Even if some may find reasons to be boastful we must understand that we all have the sword of Damocles dangling over our heads. Whatever you think you have can be taken away.
In one of the oldest written poems known to us, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ is written that “Man is snapped off like a reed in the canebrake! The comely young man, the pretty young woman— All too soon in their prime Death abducts them!”
The Stoics also had that at the heart of their philosophical thinking…
“Keep death and exile before your eyes each day, along with everything that seems terrible—by doing so, you’ll never have a base thought nor will you have excessive desire.” —EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 21
“Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. What’s fated hangs over you. As long as you live and while you can, become good now.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 4.17
In conclusion, to do good and to be good are the only virtues that matter. We must live and celebrate the now, our present. Many of us keep postponing happiness as if that will happen one day in the future when everything will somehow work out. Gratitude today is key to happiness. Being thankful for what we have and who we have in our lives.
In the final scene of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest, the main character Prospero says “And thence retire me to my Milan, where / Every third thought shall be my grave.” It evokes and acknowledges death as a possibility and imminent threat. However, reflecting on our mortality should not leave us in dread, it should rather have the opposite effect. To die while you are alive is the best way to purposely live after all nobody can kill and nothing can affect a dead being. That gives us clarity and motivates us to live a full fearless and purpose-driven life.