Category Archives: Perspectives

Perspectives, thoughts & tools for cultivating Mindfulness

defaulting to stress for “motivation”

A lot of people unfortunately default to relying on stress to motivate themselves. 

The problem with that approach is that it dis-empowers you, because you’re still basically letting yourself get pushed around by whatever you fear. 

On the flipside, when your approach is “Well, I have to do something I don’t particularly enjoy doing but I know it has to get done and so therefore I’m choosing to do it.”, that is taking control.

Of course control doesn’t always mean you’re going to enjoy it – just that you’ve chosen to do it and you’re getting it done. So you get satisfaction, if not always comfort. And that satisfaction is irreplaceable because it contributes to your personal power. 

So every time you decide to do something of your own volition, you’re empowering yourself. Conversely, if you decide to wait till you’re stressed about it and then try to get motivated by stress, well then you’re always working from a position of weakness. 

Unless you’re operating from your position of strength, even if you manage to get the thing done you’re still not satisfied about it, you’re just relieved.  And that’s a sure sign that you are being motivated by stress: when you achieve your objective, you’re just relieved and not satisfied.

Remember that relief does not represent power; only satisfaction represents the power of “meeting a higher standard.”

too hard on yourself?

Many people tell themselves – and enjoy telling others – “I’m too hard on myself, you know, I beat myself up…” 

That’s almost always a false evaluation. Most likely what is actually happening is just that person inappropriately engaging in emotional self-indulgence. 

Actually being too hard on yourself would mean that you are disciplining yourself too strictly, which is not all that common. I’d wager that not a single person who complains ”I’m too hard on myself” is actually disciplining themselves too strictly.

Remember that self-discipline is a means, not a punishment, so use it to live well.

making more confident choices

Obviously, estimating the value of anything you want is a completely subjective matter, because desire is itself subjective. That said, breaking down your motivation into 2 distinct decisions can make it easier for you to choose what you want to do, be or have, more confidently.

Decision #1

Look at WHAT it costs. Does it represent an equitable value equation? Looking at the price of what you want to do, be or have, do you regard that cost as an objectively reasonable exchange for what you’ll get?

Decision #2

Look at HOW you’ll have to pay the price for it. Look at whether or not you are convinced that it is worth you giving up whatever it is going to cost you to pay that price – “Is it worth me giving up 3 annual vacations, a new car, my weekends, my self-respect, 100 hours of my time…?”

desire is not belief

A desire is not – repeat not – even remotely the same thing as a belief

This is a very important distinction to be clear on because people very often default to a strategy of trying to “want it more” in order to accomplish something or achieve a goal. Naturally, this very seldom works.

Why? Because desire – no matter how strong it feels – will never be able to overcome a contradictory belief. The nature of desire is such that it simply has insufficient power to overcome the nature of any belief. It’s not a question of quantity, of having “enough” desire to overcome a belief; life just doesn’t work that way. 

Understand, you can have a desire that is in direct contradiction & contravention to a belief. But you can never overcome a contradictory belief with desire alone.

Example: Let’s say that you feel a strong desire to accomplish a goal, yet you simultaneously hold the contradictory belief that – for whatever reasons – you’ll simply never be powerful enough to accomplish it. In this case, no matter how much you try to strengthen or bolster your desire, you will never accomplish that goal. The only way to make that desire a reality in this case would be for you to change the underlying contradictory belief.

This phenomenon illustrates why a desire is useful only if it is in alignment with your beliefs. And why examining, accurately identifying and understanding your foundational beliefs about yourself and your world is of such critical importance to your success and happiness in life.

Ask yourself if perhaps now would be a good time to make that a priority.

whence cometh courage

It has long been remarked that courage is not absence of fear, but rather mastery of it. Sounds reasonable. But how to begin the process of mastering fear in general?

One useful way to look at it is in terms of accountability.

Set in your mind the decision to hold yourself genuinely accountable for everything you say, think, feel, and do. Try it, and see if you don’t immediately feel that you’ve discovered a hidden wellspring of courage.

choices, choices, choices…..

We’re continually faced with choices, and life being what it is, there will naturally be times when those choices are harder than we’d like to face. 

And when that time comes, many will simply give in to their emotions, let the decision be made for them by circumstances, and then declare that they had “no choice”.

But there’s a problem with that strategy. If you decide that you have “no choice”, you will stop looking for them. And when you stop looking, for all intents & purposes your choices in life will simply cease to exist. 

Well, now you’re in the unenviable position of having made yourself a victim of your own self-fulfilling prophecy. Not good.

Look, the reality is that sometimes there is no really good choice, just a hard one. Take comfort in the fact that our choices reveal to us what we’re really made of. So if you want to live a life that you’re proud of…..well….just suck it up, buttercup.

Take a stand against fear & doubt, make your choices as intelligently & thoughtfully as you can at the time, and stand by them responsibly. And if one doesn’t work out so well, don’t worry, there’s always another one just around the corner for you to do better with.

do you have expectations of yourself?

It is an unfortunately common occurrence to find people who end up disappointed in themselves because they feel that they failed to meet their own expectations. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself. I know I have. 

Fair enough. But consider this carefully: Were they actual expectations in the first place? Or just constructs of wishful thinking

This distinction is important. It’s patently ridiculous to feel disappointed with yourself just because a wish didn’t materialize, right? (And if that seems obvious, it’s because it is…)

So, if you ever find yourself feeling disappointed in yourself because you haven’t met an expectation, it is probably because you never actually set it as a specific expectation of yourself. Yep, it’s that painfully simple.

Because once you actually set a specific expectation in your mind, you’re looking at a goal. And once you’ve set yourself a goal you’re more than likely to achieve it – or at least come close enough to the desired outcome that you can just readjust your expectations for the next one!

Remember: just “having” expectations is more or less wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is the easiest way to find yourself ensconced in the comfortable beanbag chair of self-pity (easy to fall into, tough to get out of).

To err is human. It’s how we learn. So never waste time & energy feeling disappointed in yourself. Just set yourself a specific target, aim, and leap!