Your Life is the result of your thinking

Abraham MaslowAccording 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.”

Ilfracombe
Allen’s Home Town  – Ilfracombe in North Devon.

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.”

“Mors certa, vita incerta”

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

screenshot_20181206-124338~23863023782836244327..jpg

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.

Carpe Diem! What is on the menu for today?

“Let us therefore set out whole-heartedly, leaving aside our many distractions and exert ourselves in this single purpose, before we realize too late the swift and unstoppable flight of time and are left behind. As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flees.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 108.27b–28a

You woke up today, that’s a great thing for starters, many haven’t. Then you went about your business, afterall we have to live and for that, we must work.

But what if there’s more to our days than what we have to do based on what is expected from us?

What if we can turn things around, decide for a change of action, begin doing those things that really inspire us? Things that leave us with a strong sense of fulfillment.

Perhaps some of us have been doing that already. Some few have reached that level but by experience, observation or even by just reading the news and stats, I’ve learned that most of us haven’t. Most still feel trapped.

The good news is, we all can!

This morning when I got up I was faced with three scenarios and I believe we all face them everyday. Which scenario we will chose is up to each one of us:

I would would have woken up with visions of my past. Somehow I feel locked in my memories, old preconceptions and paradigms. I’m unable to make a clear decision on my life, or to know what to do with it. I’m locked in past fears and traumas, filled with regrets and sorrows, many “if-I-onlys…” or “if-life-onlys”… Thoughts occupying my mind. Basically feeling life has dealt me a bad hand.

Or;

I woke up this morning locked in my present, tons or things to do. I’ve got to get going as I’m super busy! Work commitments dominate every aspect of my daily life. This is just business as usual, life as it is and no time or space for anything else. I’ve got to keep going. No time to waste, and that’s the way it is. No, I don’t feel fulfilled, or happy, it feels I just woke up in this gridlock and there’s no way out, I’ve got bills to pay and so on, I’m playing the catch-up game. Get up, grab a latte on the go and get to work. Isn’t the way things are or should be? Aren’t we all locked up in this present rat race?!

Or;

I could have woken up with the visions of the future I want to create, and the place I want to be. Knowing that each decision I make today will bring me closer or further away from that future. When I look back to my past I seek to understand it and learn from it, not to relive it. I’m grateful that despite the hardships, trials and tribulations, through fires and storms, hurts and disappointments; I have made it to where I’m and I believe that I can learn from the past, change in the present moment and move towards the future I envision.

This morning we have all woken up with this three scenarios and the decision is ours how we live our lives.

Life is indeed fleeting and we will never be able to have back the time we lost. Seneca admonishes us to make the most of it, make this day our own! This is the best day of my life because today I can decide to change, I can take control of my thoughts, attitudes, my life actions and fulfill my destiny.

Today we can leave aside all the other distractions and set our minds, energy and focus to embrace the future we dream of. So, what is going to be? What is in the menu today for you?

Evaluate your work…

…after all, being busy doesn’t mean being productive…

“Evaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where accomplishing it will take you, if you don’t have a good answer, then stop” _ Ryan Holiday

Let the results of your hard work speak for themselves. If you change your activity-driven day to a purpose-driven one you will most definitely see greater results.

Ask yourself why, start there then gradually evaluate your daily activities and where your energy is spent. One thing is certain, wherever you focus your energy and time, there your life will flow also, in that very same direction. It can’t be in any other way – the results of your work are the product of the activities you spend your day on. So, focus on things you really believe are the right ones for you, on those tasks you believe will help you to achieve you life-given dreams.

Stop stacking shelves! All routine work/job are being gradually taken by AI machines or robots, mechanical or intellectual, they will be gone soon… No time to waist on them.

What will bring you joy?! What work will make you fill fulfilled? STOP AND EVALUATE! Nobody gets tired from working, we get exhausted from meaningless work, from the things we do, yet we see no purpose in them.

It takes courage to change, think of it as creative changes. You can use the creative wells inside of you. We all have it, even though we do not see it, it might be capped or buried but it is there. so dig it up and let it flow. Use your creative power as an agent for changes in your life!

If you see yourself too busy and unfulfilled #stop and ask yourself #why you do the things you do the way you do them. How could you be doing them differently? Or, how could you change your work?

Do not take on one step further without stopping and evaluating! Changes happens in one single moment… When we make a decision

Time is so prescious to get waisted on activities that brings us no joy or fulfilment.

We live most of our lives in the working environment, our lives are spent in working activities, so let’s make it worthwhile.

As Seneca have told us – Good work nourishes the noble mind!

Our minds are the commanding centre of our beings, a bad one will not make us happy or heathy, think about it…

On the future of work…