Better yet, what is the meaning of YOUR life?
It almost ruined my life.
Wait, before you think, oh it’s just Cannabis, it’s not that harmful, it’s not that addictive, read this.
I treat addiction for a living and what I have learned is that addiction is universal, no matter the substance.
Cannabis almost ruined my life, derailed my dreams and destroyed my family. Under the influence I risked immense physical harm.
Today I’m sober, it’s a daily struggle, but life has gotten exponentially better since I quit, here is why…
My dear daughters,
Afraid of loss afraid of gain
Don’t lose yourself don’t lose the game
Do you wait for life to show you gains
Do you blame life for being the same
Life comes with loss and comes with gain
It’s only worth your time
If you save these lessons in your brain
Remember the past, what life has taught you
Live in the moment, the beauty, what’s true
Hope for tomorrow and patiently wait
For life will surprise and show you your fate
As I watch you grow I realize the beauty of your developing mind. Your fascination with the common rivals that of an alien discovering the human race. The slightest artifact can hold your attention, captivate your imagination and deserve a safe location in your tote bag. An irrelevant piece of glass covered in dirt becomes a wondrous treasure found in the yard. In your opinion, every earthworm deserves a name. As far as you are concerned the weather forecast doesn’t matter, only whether or not you are dancing in the rain. Adding rainwater to dirt makes clay to mold in your hands. Money holds no regard, for the only thing you would buy is what is already free, your imagination. You absorb stories made up on the spot. You crave the surprise held tight in my fist. You desire the feeling of wind in your hair. When you become part of a pendulum swinging from a tree, the shrieks and shrills of swinging higher is a pleasure to share.
A time will come when the magic may fade. There comes a shift from leaving your world of imagination to reality. The world of endless pleasures and self driven discovery of treasures will become a world filled with goals and tasks, deadlines and pseudonyms. You will be told to shape up or slip out, sit right and act right, adhere to the rules and obey the facts. To question is to hinder the ideal of the establishment.
As you grow and learn, these fantasies and ideas start to dissolve. They get lost in the humdrum of life. You will face a constant battle to follow your nose or to put it to the grindstone for another. Your work becomes less driven by intrinsic discovery but instead external reward. The feeling of freedom will fade into the past.
When you are faced with life pressuring you, even gripping you at the throat, demanding your time, remember the days you were young. Remember those times your activities consumed you, when you were in full engagement and following your curiosity gave you happiness.
Learn again to live in the moment, rediscover the happiness of your childhood delight, explore the world around you as if it was new to you and ever-changing, and don’t forget to make those moments count. Savor those special moments. Take in the beauty of each moment. If you are in awe at a sunset, a sprouting plant, a child’s innocence, capture the moment in your phone and your memory. Moments shared. Moments documented in history. You still have to take the time to study, read and research, but even that can be rewarding. If you are studying or researching your passion, those moments spent cruising the information highway will give intrinsic value.
This is what is meant by; If you love the work you do it won’t seem like work at all. Too many people today find that they don’t enjoy the kind of work that they do. There are many reasons, but among them is the perceived need to earn a paycheck. If you derive happiness from spending money, well, in that case it seems fair. Hate what you do in order to get paid so that you can enjoy spending that hard-earned income. This is fine but you will miss out on so much more value in life. Life happens for us not to us. Unfortunately the happiness derived from spending money is short-lived, that is why you quickly move on to the next purchase. Have you ever notice a child plays with their birthday gift a few seconds?
We do not live to work or work to live. Instead, I think it may be much more fruitful to get paid to live. If your life and what you love to do comes with the benefit of a paycheck, so much more the better. Compared to the person who hates work to get paid to be happy to spend, instead, love to work and make money at the same time.
Finding value in your work will give a much more long-lasting happiness. This is the difference between intrinsic reward and extrinsic reward. Intrinsic is long-lasting, it provides meaning to you and to others. Extrinsic reward is short-lived, it provides false motivation, it encourages enslavement. Slave after that which you enjoy to do and in turn you will provide meaning to life.
So figure out how you can get paid for what you love to do. Once you figure this puzzle out, the rest will be history. Over are the days of slaving after a paycheck. Welcome new days, the new you, who can’t wait to get out of bed to start your work, because your work is just that rewarding.
Work = meaning = happiness
It’s okay to try several different jobs in a lifetime, after all, how would you know what you would enjoy if you don’t try it. Start by thinking what it is that you enjoy to do, and how you can incorporate this activity in such a way to bring meaning to others. It is through this meaning, that others will end up paying you to continue to provide more meaning.
The word “roof”
I used to pronounce “rooooophh.” The way english speaking people pronounce it. Or so I thought. Until I moved to the U.S. Here I was told it is pronounced “ruff” the way a dog might say it.
“Mirror” I used to call it a “mirror.” You know. M.I.R.R.O.R. Only to one day be corrected in calling it the right way. A “mierrorrr.” Sort of the way a cat might say it. Meaowrrorrr. I was so confused.
But, I adapted.
When I joined the army. I learned the way to pronounce, “drinkin” “swimmin” “divin” “runnin” no need to add the “g.” Forget that useless son of a “b.”
The army taught me the beauty. The art of “cussin” you see. Missing the “g” is no big deal. Missing the “g” is like a missing an 11th toe. Never needed it. Will not implement it. That’s the way of the army.
Cursing was new too. Have you ever tried to curse every other word of every other sentence of every other thought of every other interaction. Wait a minute I thought.
I don’t curse as much in my thoughts. Why curse when I speak?
The army ended. The cursing ended. The smoking ended. A new me started
That’s the way life goes. From a “cuss”, to a fuss, to a life lived long and loved
Keep on keepin on, times of longing gone, forget forlorn, times of promise to come.
There was lucky Luke, a loathsome lone outlaw, he gained fame for his six shootin game. He was feared in the west and anyone knew best, don’t mess with Luke, let him ride.
For luck was on his side.
With a six shooter pistol before the rooster crows, he would knock of ten. A lucky bullet shot one, two, three in a row, and then,
the crowds would erupt at his display, with luck on his side Luke saved another day.
“Leave luke alone, leave luck on his side. Live long live well, let lucky luke ride.” they would cheer.
How much of success depends on luck? Is there a way to make more luck? What is luck and where can it be found? Do you need luck to answer that last question?
Many failed startups will argue that the one thing they were missing was luck.
Many bronze medalists will argue they weren’t lucky enough to have the right genes.
Many B-students will proclaim the lack of luck of not having good parents therefore good teachers therefore a good education.
We speak of luck helping many successful startups like twitter, paypal, uber and airbnb.
Is this true? Can it really be that Michael Jordan simply had the luck of exceptional genes, specifically aligned with the times and the Bulls to produce the greatest basketball player known to man?
It may be so, but this type of thinking may kill motivation. If success depends on what genes you are born with, and you think you didn’t get those genes, then why try to become successful? If all you need is luck, then what is the point of working towards a goal? If you don’t strike it lucky you might as well give up right now. Wouldn’t it be better to just sit and wait patiently for luck to find you?
I’ve mentioned before that we may be different from animals in that we are capable of abstract thought as well as capable of creating new ideas. We can create tools and objects with our hands. So, can we create luck?
Luck is an abstract idea, therefore is possible to imagine in our minds. It would be hard to prove outside of our thoughts. It may not be very easy to create with our hands, create in a chemistry lab or in a workshop, so maybe we will try a different approach.
Maybe it is possible to find luck. A famous historical figure would argue “I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
Maybe not “create” luck, but instead search for it. The fun is in the search. You won’t know what luck you are searching for until it finds you. The luck game is based on odds. What are your odds of striking it lucky? Of landing in that right spot at the right time to hit the jackpot? If you are sitting on your couch all day, chances are you might not find that perfect moment where everything is aligned. Your chances are low, the odds are against you.
Now what if you deny yourself the pleasure of sitting on a soft sofa with soft soothing tunes coming through a network of speakers? What if instead, you get up, search, find an opportunity and get after it. In which scenario would you increase your odds of striking it lucky, of finding that golden opportunity?
That’s what is meant by the “goldmine is between your ears.” The amount of luck you gain depends on what you set your mind to.
Let me put it this way. You may be able to increase your chances of getting lucky if you expend more energy in seeking your goal. The harder you work and the more time you put in, the greater your odds of striking it lucky.
We don’t know how much luck played a role in every famous success story but they do share one thing in common. One thing that invariable plays an integral part in the equation of success.
Every underdog movie shows this sequence,
“Cue the montage music!”
The hero of the story gets defeated on their path. It leads them to start working harder than ever. Rocky would wake up every morning before sunrise and get out and start running. A montage of training clips flash by to the beat of an inspiring minor chord progression. The film director zooms in on the straining face of Stallone. A macro lens spies a bead of sweat emerging from his anger and rolls down his forehead in a slowmotion bliss. The third Act begins with the hero facing his opponent with confidence, built on endless practice.
The moment of glory, the moment of joy, that second been forged, by work and work, work employed.
Michael Jordan even admits that his luck came from endless practice. He said that early in his career, after every game he played, he would remember several mistakes he made. Then, instead of going out to celebrate, he would head to the gym, practice those moves or free throws over and over and over. The next morning he would come in early and do the same before practice. That was putting his heart and soul into what he loved. That was him ensuring he would find “luck” in the future of becoming the greatest ballplayer of his day. Watch the video below and tell me this. Were each of those points he scored due to luck?
“To air is not human” – go to 13:49
Back to Lucky Luke.
The bandits loathed his luck. They envied his hand. There was only one way they could make a stand. They once heard a rumor that luck sits in the soul. They had to strike there in order to gain full control. In a devious plan to give reprimand. Held him down, they sliced off his hand. In a foul swoop a dried clover, his six shooting days were over.
You see, the misconception lies in the perception of where luck comes from. Are some people just favored by the gods? Are some just born lucky, to strike it at every turn? We tend to jump to conclusions without the background story. We invoke magical thinking to answer questions about where success comes from. We fail to see the progression that lead up to that grand success.
Every success story shares the same thing, the hero started somewhere, had a dream, then started working diligently towards it, practicing endless hours.
There was a time when Usain Bolt was just learning to walk.
That is the hard part though. How do you get yourself to work ten thousand hours toward achieving that ultimate level?
The trick is to focus on the journey, to focus on the habits you have to form to ensure you have no choice but to reach your goal. Let me give you an example.
If you are trying to lose weight, stop trying to set a huge goal. Don’t say “I want to lose fifty pounds.” Instead, ask yourself, how will I lose one pound? Make it a small goal. Chances are, if you can lose one pound, you may be able to lose two. If you can lose two, you can lose three and before you know it, fifty! Ah, but wait a minute, not so easy.
How do you lose just one pound? Start with just an ounce.
Try this. It is better to try and fail, than try at all. So try the first thing that comes to mind, just one thing, thought of it yet? Now, execute. Do that one thing with all your effort. Give up drinking soda for example. Completely give up soda and see what will happen. Weigh yourself Monday, no sodas through Sunday and weigh yourself again. See if you’ve lost an ounce, maybe a pound?
Studies have shown that by drinking just water for one week straight will result in weight loss. I can positively tell you that extra weight will be history, evaporated into thin air.
Keep it going my friend.
Finding the method to loose weight does not depend on being lucky, it simply means you searched until you found it.
Luke secretly knew that the key to success
was not in luck or those who are blessed
forged in steel he made a new hand
trigger and all ready to take a stand
Knocked off 10,000 cans
Practiced like a man possessed
with his new hand by his side
Diligence as a guide
Revenge like a wild fire
Lucky Luke shall ride
Rare moments occur around us all the time. I consider these lucky moments, to witness that perfect mix of luck and chance.
You have to look for these moments. We dream of the last second three pointer to fall through the hoop and save the entire season, but we have to be realistic. Think of it this way, you are lucky to be alive, what are the odds that your exact DNA makeup has ever existed before, almost zero right. You have never existed before. You are the only you. How lucky is that? So every moment you encounter is unique to you. By searching you will find more of these moments.
When I garden and I dig up some earth worms I would call the kids over to come look. There’s that magical moment when they realize they are holding an earthworm in their hand. You can see the joy in their eyes, the curiosity overflowing. I feel lucky to be alive to witness such a perfect moment.
The other day I happen to discover a birds nest with little babies inside, I was able to get some video of it, what a moment.
So in the famous words of a legend gone old, “do you feel lucky punk?”
Yesterday I posed a question on what is the difference between humans and animals? It seems as though animals act based on a prewritten script, a blueprint of instructions. Their instincts determine their every move. Humans on the other hand seem to have a choice of how to react. Some may say that we are “determined” to act in a certain way exactly like animals do, but some may say there is something in us, somewhere in our human brain that can think, weigh the odds and make a choice. I mentioned that, as we lead our lives we are constantly acted on by external forces. The course your life takes directly depends on how much you push back, im talking about another force, one from an internal origin.
Watching my kids grow has been a pure delight. There is a moment, around one year old, that your child will suddenly make their first choice. I think this is the moment your baby becomes a toddler. “Toddler” say it with me, it has a little playful sound to it, makes your tongue dance in your mouth. They come with many surprises at this age.
You see, a little baby depends on their parents for everything. When they get hungry, they cry. The parent will come rushing in with a bottle to save the day. They soil their diaper. The parents look at each other, the first one to give in rushes in to save the day and so on.
Then comes that magical moment. Around one year old you may place a good nutritious variety of food in front of your darling baby. She will pick up a few pieces of food and suddenly, without warning, toss them to the floor. What just happened? You turn your attention to them, scoop a spoonful of food and aim for their mouth. Their response, “neh” and turn their head at the last second just in time for the spoon to come crashing into their cheek. More food on the floor. This also happens to be the dog’s favorite day in child development. So where did this sudden choice come from?
Let me explain.
As we grow, we come to this realization, that we have a choice in what we eat, what we do and how we react. A toddler keeps growing and learning about choices, they learn what they like and what they don’t. Many times it may seem absurd what they choose to do, but hey, even if they are eating off the floor, at least they are eating, right? It is the parents duty to help guide their child to discover new truths of life, like broccoli really isn’t that bad, or they can slide down the slide on their own. They also learn that crying for everything is not the best reaction but instead to ask for help.
I’m struggling with my three year old right now, trying to teach her to ask for a snack instead of cry for a snack. When she stubs her toe or gets a scratch to wait instead of crying, wait, waaaait, and the pain will eventually go away. Crying is the response a baby shows to feeling discomfort. It is in learning how to better deal with discomfort that they grow.
I tell this to my patients as well. Especially someone trying to lose weight or kick a habit. There is no magic pill or exercise, to lose weight you just have to push against the discomfort of feeling hungry. To stop smoking cigarettes you have to push against the discomfort of withdrawal. To get that gym body you have to face the discomfort of going there in the first place.
Our path in life may only depend on these two forces. External forces and your internal force. External is what happens to you, internal is what you make happen. For example, if you walk outside and suddenly it rains. The rain is the external force. You may decide to go back in the house and get an umbrella or risk a few drops and dash like a madman to the car. That is the internal force that helps determine your response to the rain, how you choose to react.
External forces are out of our control. The weather, what happens in the news, the driver that ignores the red light and crashes into another. Some of us are very preoccupied of what may happen in the future. We check the weather report, we try to predict the stock market, we try to imagine what will happen if we say this or that to her or him. Some of us just take one day, one moment at a time. I’m not the one to say which is better but I embrace these changes instead of grubble.
If it’s sunny out I run outside and enjoy the heat on my skin. If it’s rainy and stormy I run outside and enjoy running against the resistance of the wind and the sting of the rain drops.
Depending on what you believe, these external forces may just be random occurrences in our lives. Internal force is within our control. So ask yourself, would you rather be concerned with what is in your control or what is outside of your control? We decide how we react to external forces, the decisions we make, the actions we take, the mood we exhibit.
There is a flaw in the argument though.
How much of what we do is taught to us by our surroundings and circumstances? How much of how we react to external stimuli are simply prewritten by our previous experience? It is hard to say. Some of us believe that our decisions are in our own hands, some are okay accepting the fact that we are predetermined. Some like to think that these forces are subject to the metaphysical or religious but that’s another discussion.
The argument of determinism takes a different stand. It assumes that we are no different from animals, that we simply react based on a prewritten script, that our actions are merely determined by our genes and previous experience. Determinism goes as far as stripping away our free will.
If we cannot choose to act a certain way but instead the choice is made for us by our god or our genes we must therefore have no free will to choose to make a decision. What? So both religion and Darwin had it wrong?
This is an important issue in the legal system. The question of criminal responsibility routinely creeps up in the judicial system. It is the goal of a lawyer to prove their client’s actions were due to external forces. When I was in Afghanistan I caught wind of a famous court case where two F 16 fighter pilots had their sentence of manslaughter reduced on the defence that their actions were influenced by “go pills.” They were taking prescription amphetamines offered by the Air Force at the time which was a routine practice for pilots to help them stay alert on long missions. An unfortunate incident happened where they dropped a bomb on friendly forces killing several. Amphetamines blamed for Friendly Fire.
Despite the flaws in the legal system we have to remember that external forces may just be out of our control. Once we accept that we can start clearing those anxieties from our daily lives. Try giving up checking the weather, checking the news or trying to predict others’ behavior.
Look back at your life and try to see what forces have acted on you and how you chose to respond. Which of your actions then led to good things and which led to bad? Now that you have that separated in your mind, try and think, were all those actions, with good or bad outcomes, made entirely by you? Were you ultimately the one that chose to stop trying diets or stop working out or working on your relationship or working for the sake of working?
So what if another person’s decision directly affects your life?
If your boss demands you to do something, if a parent restricts their child or a Jewish man is held captive by the Nazis, it means that their life circumstance was determined by someone else’s decision, right? Consider this, from the worker or child or Jew’s perspective they were merely acted on by an external force. The choice they have is in how they will react to their suppressor.
The amazing story of Viktor Frankl illustrates this beautifully. He was an Austrian Neurologist, Psychologist and Holocaust survivor. As a concentration camp inmate he discovered these truths about our lives. He said that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in a any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Man’s Search For Meaning
So hopefully we are a little closer to understanding ourselves, maybe you are just as confused as I am, but it’s worth a try to see life this way, to take responsibility for our past actions and consider the effects of our future decisions.
With that I leave you to watch Star Wars and really think what is this force within you.
The force is strong with this one.