Learn To Setting Systems, Not Goals

I thought the below video was great and several years ago I sort of abandoned goal setting and starting the process I call ‘learning to live’, or as the video says “Setting systems”.  As we age we begin to see that life has this sort of pulse feeling to it.  We set a goal and achieve it but soon after we feel empty again.

The idea that I construct is I somehow think that once I arrive at a particular point then I will have made it, then I will feel satisfied, or then I can rest; however, this is one of the greatest lies. The lie persists in our society that it is money or obtaining a particular material wealth. I found myself achieving my personal goals as well as the societal goals; however, I still had this permanent uneasy unsatisfied feeling. Why? (If anyone reading might now think this is about bashing on our current system/culture but I don’t believe so.)

Over the past several years I started to teach myself to enjoy the process. I can set goals but this is merely one aspect of the process; learning how to enjoy where I am now is another; learning how to be ok with this uneasy feeling within is a part; learning how to connect spiritually; learning how to connect culturally. Lastly, and this is for me the most important part, learning that ITS ALL LIFE!

An example in my own life right now is that I’m learning to play the piano.

1) I want to learn how to play and I have an idea of where I’d like to be; this for me is setting the goal.

2) I now set sail on that journey; now I must understand and be OK with exactly where I am in this process. This part is very important to practice. As we practice this step, and this might sound weird, but it get intergraded with our entire being. A flowing with life begins to emerge.

3) There have been days that I don’t want to practice but I do it anyway. This is being ok with feeling uneasy and knowing that these feelings are fleeting.

4) I learn that I never really arrive. It is always a series of journeys. Its a process of learning to be fully in where I am are AND being able to move forward. I begin to see that all these daily practices and daily investments in being is an opportunity for me to finally start living my life and while also moving forward at the same time. I’m learning to understand how to properly and see this friction and move with it, adapt if you will.

5) Some days are good and some aren’t. I see more clearly that it is all life! I move, I practice, I feel, I practice, I enjoy, I practice, I hurt, I practice, I set goals, I practice, I listen, I practice. I see that it has never been me, I practice. I added 5 which might seem off topic but really isn’t. It’s all connected. I’m not just practicing playing the piano when I’m sitting in front of it. Habits don’t really care.

Just learning (my thoughts)

I struggled when I search for meaning outside of whats happening. It is all life and I’ll never arrive. When I forget a host of, usually, negative emotions (self created due to the paradigm I constructed) become present.

My particular path is learning to enjoy all of it as I do not see another way to get satisfaction out of life. When I believe that once I get a particular object and ‘then I’ll be happy’ or ‘then I can rest’ is only a deceit that I use to fool myself. In the past I was unaware of such trickery. I know all things will not create the same feelings and emotions but this is a great source of joy as I can experience them fulling without wishing I was someplace else or holding on; I can strive, journey and accomplish all in a non striving manner, a striving manner that flows, a striving manner that is fluid.

When I see the obversion arriving I must reorientate myself to truth, which is, ‘there is no where to go and there is nothing to do.’

To Know and To Not Do

Yesterday my wife, son and I went downtown to this little art/car show. We invited my mom, and she never declines an opportunity to go, go, go! As we were out my mom was complaining about her knee, and I reminded her, with a smile, that she knew we were going to be out walking around. She said, “I know and I’m sorry for complaining. It’s not really my knee. I’ve just had a bunch of frustrating things on my mind the past week.”

We began talking and my mom was concerned about (I will call this person Ab) Ab and there current situation in life. She said, “I just don’t understand why Ab just can’t get it.”
I then quoted one of my favorite quotes, “To know and to not do is to not really know.” by Stephen Covey.  We then spoke about all various programs they have undergone, counselings, and books read. We chatted for awhile about the different type of knowledge one can posses, and also touched on how Ab’s life has has been in a disarray for some time. It was a nice afternoon.

This morning I was thinking about our conversation, Ab, and the to know and not do quote. I think this quote is correct but I approached it from a different angle. This is the new angle: To know and to not do is to not have developed the habit. This is more of an Aristotelian approach/thought.

We are in an age of information. We can access the most profound wisdom known to mankind. However, this information is actually pointless. This information changes nothing. We merely reflect the habits we cultivate in our life. A lot of the time we let life, people, culture, norms, and our inner impulses cultivate us. We are the pin ball inside the machine destined to get launched by whatever we rub up against. Thus, as time passes, a gap emerges  between what we know and what we do and inverse for those that practice intentionally.

Build new habits. Sounds easy enough. Often we confuse excitement with habit but the moment the newness wears off we are left standing  with all the old urges, impulses, feelings and habits we spent a lifetime cultivating, a lot of the time unknowingly. This new building habits business isn’t as easy as the books like to tell us its. Those of us who have tired to “start anew” know the strength of our old ways.

Solution? I don’t really have one but I can share how I starting practicing mindfulness 3 years ago. How can I remember to be mindful when I’m not mindful, I thought. For my first couple of weeks I tried this mindfulness stuff but I was usually lost for the whole day before I’d remember to be mindful. I wanted to step my game up so I downloaded an application (insight timer) so I could have a reminder bell. For the first year of my practice I set a bell to chime every 10 minutes, I am not laying and I do know this is sort of extreme. 99 percent people thought I was weird, and may people would say things like, “what the hell is that noise?”, “Is that you dinging all the time?” “Oh my god, that is so annoying!”

But, hey, nothing changes if nothing changes. This is what I will continue to say to Ab and the advice I would give to anyone looking to change. There is research, and I know for my practice, that thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges only last 90 seconds (I never timed but I know they arise and fade quickly) if you do not “feed the beast”. So your only 90 seconds away from to reinforcing your new habit and slowly cultivating over the years will change many things.

Below is a book I read about 3 years ago that I really enjoyed. The link is for an amazonsmile which gives a small percentage of the purchase to a charity at no cost to you. In this case it is a local food bank called Harry Chapin Food Bank.

The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner

Poverty Mindset

A couple days ago I read this nice little article by Reynolds Made called the Power of Silence in which  she speaks about the importance of silence in her life and then gives some very piratical ways incorporate some silence in your life.

My post today is regarding a comment that I read that really struck a cord with me and it’s been on my mind since.  It went something like this, “I would like to have some silence in my life but I have two little kids.” I felt a great amount of compassion and understanding because this type of mindset is something we all find ourselves in, albeit to varying degrees.

To me, whenever we are here or in this state we are in a poverty mindset, in that it is disempowering and lacks creativity. What we want is outside our control or, first, in order for us to achieve (anything) our external circumstances must change before we can. If only I had this… then I could be happy; If only I could do this… then I could finally do what I always wanted; if only things were different.. then I could… if only, if only.

In David Deutsch’s book The Beginning of Infinity he say’s problems are inevitable and all problems are soluble given proper knowledge. For me there are several ways to achieve knowledge but it almost always starts with a question, and the way we framed and/or reframe the question becomes very important.

There is one question that I like to ponder when I find myself in a poverty mindset: Well, what can I do? Sometimes the solution is a quick one and other times the solution takes several years to achieve. It all depends on the complexity of the problem, and then I do what is within my control and leave the rest.

Thank you!

Painfully Aware

Today I awoke without a headache! It’s quite a marvelously and I’m so thankful that I don’t have one, well come to think of it I really haven’t had one in years. Just like the The Minimalist article The Worst Christmas Ever about the child that become painfully away of all the presents he/she didn’t get after only after ungifting all their presents, we too are usually only thankful and/or grateful for something after it has been stripped away or shortly after suffering a painful infliction, and this could be physical or mental.

We have so much to be thankful for but sometimes it takes deliberate attention and cultivation to remind ourselves how rich we really are! What are you thankful and or grateful for today?

Thank you!

Where is there to go?

I know this person who is always in a rush at work, day in and day out. I often wonder where she is really trying to go?  I wonder what it is that she is really trying to achieve and if she’s ever really found it? I wonder if she even knows?

I see this person in traffic racing around, day in and day out I see someone else. I often wonder where they are really trying to go? Do they know that it will literally only save them 5 minutes at most, and probably only less than a minute! I wonder if they even know?

I watch this person standing in the grocery line looking angry and impatient. I often wonder where they are really trying to go?  Speeding around the parking lot looking for the best spot; look at all this time they saved! I wonder what they will do with it? I wonder if they even know?

Where is there to go?

The wedding 

This post is not rich in philosophical content or ideas. I believe it is a pretty typical thought process and nothing too noteworthy. However, I believe that it is important to continually define and redefine basic ideas and concepts that I hold. I see things in my life as continually changing and what I struggled with about these questions a few years ago is totally different than what I struggle with today.
As I drive home from Wisconsin to Florida after a fun (my definition of fun below) filled weekend. I reflect upon it and the importance of it in my life. Where and how should I place it?

A very light definition of how I am to finding fun and enjoy ability in context of this post.

What do I mean by fun? Are fun and enjoyable the same? For me when something is fun it falls into a goofing around category in which the cares of life I relinquish. Something the  enjoyable doesn’t quite peak the arousal scale quite as high as something that is fun but it’s a more steady state.

What does it mean to be happy? Is happiness a life lived of virtues? A life lived by principles that supersedes more primitive desires? Is it having fun and doing everything that I please? It almost seems like doing something fun would bring lasting happiness because one is always having fun. But for me this is not been the case. I am prone to panic attacks and because of this I am slightly more sensitive to my inner mental states. Usually after having too much fun I become upset with my behavior. On the other hand, the act of devoting to virtues, letting go of attachments, and living a more principle centered life leaves me more content inside. Life is less fun but more enjoyable. The downside to sacrifice is that I get bored. It’s almost paradoxical because I work on letting go of my attachments but I get bored. What am I still grasping at? What do still have attachment to?

How much balance should I have in my life? How much fun should I allow myself to have? Know thy self. It is a struggle for me because I know the importance of living a virtuous life on an individual, family, community and societal levels and the downfall of societies because of lack of virtues. I most certainly have noticed a huge shift in my behavior, my actions and my thought process which has shifted my perspective, or paradigm, about having fun and the enjoyability of life.

Where do I go from here? I guess nowhere really. I will continue on the path or the Journey of life. Hoping new insights and answers are revealed as I work and play with life.

1″ Deep

An inch deep and a mile wide
Wishing to be
But when I look beneath I see nothing but hollow
It is quite simple but we have forgotten how to be.
We think “being” is doing what we please but that is merely reacting to desires continuously
We walk around so unaware of the implications of the lack of “being aware”
Unaware of our thoughts that we give energy to by festering on. We merely let our mind ramble and wander all day.
We have a prosperity to focus on negative but if we can see the deep inter-connectedness of all phenomenon and we begin to understand all our blessings and we focus on thus.
This gives energy to positive things and they will begin to rise within ourselves, our family, our community…
This is not pride for we can see the downfall of pride if we understand and look deeply.

Life is practice.
Practice fail practice
Practice succeed practice

Why do this? It is my responsibility.

There is no way home home is the way.jpg