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.
That’s because your life philosophy, or to put in layman’s term, the way you see things, your worldview and the values that underpin your choices will become the factors determining whether you will be successful in your endeavours or not.
“Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” Plato
What Plato is saying is that what you do comes from material produced inside your mind, aka your mindset. The combination of those three factors will form your values or your philosophy, that consciously or unconsciously. So calibrating your desires, emotions and building a solid healthy knowledge will increase your chances for better outcomes.
Jim Rohn, throughout his highly successful career as a motivational speaker and life coach, always gave emphasis to developing your life philosophy and inner values. Jim, as well as many before and after him, developed and build their life upon their values and philosophies.
“If you work hard on your job, you make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune. What is the reason for this truth? Success is not something you pursue. Success is something that you attract by becoming an attractive person. The way that you become rich is not by wishing your life were easier, but instead by focusing on making yourself better.” ― Jim Rohn, My Philosophy for Successful Living
James Allen, British philosopher and writer, famous for his inspirational writings, wrote in his book As A Man Thinketh“Men do not attract what they want, but which they are”, in other words, your outcomes are the fruit of who you are inside, of what drives you and your behaviour. All our impulses, perceptions, sensory motivations, impetus or inertia, decisions, choices, fears, etc are born and exist and are shaped by our own philosophy and creates our identity. They are determined by how we see ourselves and the world around us, our values that will guide us to whatever outcome they are set to achieve good or bad.
Most people think they are not in control of that but that is exactly the only thing in the universe we have control over.
“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca
In the age of quantum computing and exponential growth real lasting changes occur at a granular level…or as James Clear puts it, it happens at an atomic level.
I highly recommend James book “Atomic Habits”. I’ve just finished it and will have to start again. So much to take in… James has written from what he has lived and it gives him great authority. He mentioned in the book “to write a great book you have to become the book” he has definitely become the book he wrote.
“We imitate the Habits of the close, the many and the Powerful”
“Action is the only behaviour that produces an outcome.”
“Motion becomes a form of procrastination you have to change something act.”
He mentioned in the book that the 3rd Law of Behavioural Change is making easy to change. I guess many times we complicate and make it hard for us to change and develop new healthy habits. We either want to go full-on, start and then give up later or we keep beating around the bush and never start, we use excuses, procrastination etc.
He also talks about the 2 minutes law. Start something for two minutes and the stop! Keep repeating that. Make it easy for those repetitions to occur. It is all about the reps, not the raps! Well rehearsed words will never drive any change, action will. The most effective type of habit building come from actions and not by learning, it is by the consistent practising that a new habit is formed.
By designing a world around you that makes it is easier to do what is right and not wrong one can see better results. Design your environment to make it easier to keep up with good habits. These habits will eventually grow and develop to become your destiny.
Redesign your life to a point where the actions that matter the most are easier to perform. We will always gravitate towards the action that takes the least amount of effort to perform. This is what we naturally do as humans.
Along the time that creates a pattern in your life that is going to be repeated Time After Time and you might change things. Master the habit of showing up, build up with the 2 minutes rule, make the first action frictionless, make it the first action quick to perform and the rest will follow
We need to learn how to see habits not as a line to cross but as a lifelong development. In that, we shift the focus from acquiring a habit of maintaining the habit.
A habit acquired can be easily lost if not cultivated and maintained. It’s not the achievement of the habit but the cultivation that is key.
An easy allegory for that would be to think of ourselves as a farmer and our lives as the land in which we will plant good habits.
A farmer knows that if he sleeps during the sowing season he will not reap the benefits later on. If he does not cultivate his/her land nothing will grow healthy and strong. Habits are just like that, the fruits of a good farming attitude.
Sow them, water them, work on the land and reap the joys. After, you will have to repeat and keep in doing. Practice for the rest of your life until it becomes your destiny.
“Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts. Soak it then in such trains of thoughts as, for example: Where life is possible at all, a right life is possible.” Marcus Aurelius
That is the only way to change for the better, keep those changes and live a prosperous lifestyle.
Most of us are so busy with the everyday life pursuits that we never stop to think or ask ourselves: “Why am I doing all this?”
That set me off for the rest of my Sunday morning. I normally use my Sunday morning to work on myself, study some area of science, social science and philosophy, learn something new and write about that so I can apply and change.
Today that got me going… Interestingly I had a request for a new LinkedIn connection asking me to add him and also asking to know what was the impact of my work in my current organisation. I do not have much time to this sort of requests, they normally come with an introduction and offer of service (attention management is key here) but today I was in the mood to explore that!
What is my contribution to the world? The institution I work for is nothing but one of the many vehicles I can express myself, add to others and play a part in building a better environment we all want to live. My business, my network of family and friends, my charity work, etc…
I was then taken back in time to a film I watched many years ago and one of my favourite poems of all…
O Me! O Life!
BY WALT WHITMANOh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring, Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish, Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d, Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me, 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.
Source: Leaves of Grass (1892)
in my view…
The power of identity and purpose should guide any life pursuit, find your verse, find yourself!
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”