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Life

Ego, What is it Good For?

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“War (What is it Good For?)” was a famous anti-war song during the Vietnam War era. Originally written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for The Temptations, it was first a hit for Edwin Starr. It was made even for famous when it was covered by Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock in 1969 (image above).

The first verse …

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, why’all

This song and these lyrics came to mind recently after I expressed to a friend that it seems as if there’s a daily war between Ego and Soul — both internally and externally. This got me thinking about Ego and it’s purpose.

What is the Ego good for? Well not “absolutely nothing”. Ego has a specific purpose. As I posted the other day in one of my musings, the Ego wants us to be safe, not happy. It is an extension of the evolution of humans and our remarkable tenacity. It is designed to protect us. It craves form, identity, a role. I often refer to my Ego as a “herd dog” because it just needs something to do, something to protect, something to give it purpose.

It appears that the Ego has at least four specific purposes in helping us function and survive as humans.

  • Cataloging — The Ego has an enormous database and details-obsessed memory. The Ego helps our brain catalog experiences, sensory input, interactions. We quickly refer to these files in unexpected moments or dangerous (perceived or otherwise) situations. As an evolutionary tool, the Ego helped catalog what to eat, where to find food, what animals and plants are dangerous, where to find shelter — and most importantly to survival of the species, who to reproduce with. The main issue we have today with the cataloging feature of the Ego is our strong tendency to mis-remember things — that manifest in over 300 biases. We have also over-saturated and over-stimulated the cataloging function which causes our mind to go in to reactive state (another survival mechanism). In short, cataloging makes us stop thinking and only react — i.e. road rage.
  • Compartmentalization — The Ego is excellent at shutting down, walling off and otherwise protecting the core self from outside danger. Compartmentalization is a feature designed to help us survive severe trauma and protects us through horrific situations and condition. It makes us efficient and deadly fighters, productive workers and even contributes to the role of parenting. The main issue with this feature for many of us is that most compartmentalizing is unnecessary. For example, “leave work at work and home at home”. It most certainly doesn’t work that way unless in a truly high pressure, dangerous job. Yet many people build these false walls between their professional and personal lives. This split life can cause a deep disconnect from meaning; leading to depression, anxiety, addiction.
  • Comparison — All comparison is of the Ego — something to remember the next time you hear “should / shouldn’t” chatter in your head. As the only creatures with true Free Will, comparison is a necessary element for maintaining and using our power of choice. We can’t remember everything and we can’t choose everything. So we have to create a decision-making hierarchy — which runs on comparison. In addition, comparison was a necessary element for survival — for ourselves, our families and our communities. If you had more than me (food, weapons, status), the comparison drove me to achieve and acquire. Often by going to war with you! The issue with comparison today is that it is hugely manipulated by social pressure — especially in advertising and marketing. It is an extension of the “Keep up with the Jones’s” syndrome that grew out of the post-World War II expansion of the middle class and suburbia. Unless you are in a true survival situation, comparison will just make you work hard for things you really don’t need or want.
  • Competition — This one is essentially a composite of the above three but bears mentioning separately. The Ego wants to win. Its in its programming. Winning is an evolutionary trait that gives the Ego a sense of achievement and the identity of “winner”. People will say “I’m not very competitive”. If you have an Ego, you are competitive — just in different ways. Competition permeates all hierarchal systems — which pretty much includes every living thing. The hierarchy creates status, opportunities for power and wealth, tribal dominance and clear difference between “winners” and “losers”. As a libertarian-in-all-things and a free speech, free market advocate, I have no issue with competition. I do have an issue with the Ego’s tendency to use competition to hurt others, mis-use authority and fuel a if-you-are-not-cheating-you-are-not-trying culture in business and sports. My reminder to myself is: compete for what matters.

Ultimately, our Ego and Soul are intended to live in harmony. One needs the other. The Ego is needed for survival and the Soul is needed for happiness.But for similar reasons as to why we have a civilian commander-in-chief, the Ego makes a great employee but a terrible boss (unless you are in an actual life-threatening situation, then let the Ego do it’s thing so you don’t die!).

 

Things I No Longer Do

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This is tofu disguised as bacon. What’s more pretentious than that?!

The past 4+ years have all been about change. Massive changes. Tiny changes. Entering this new era of me has been a painful and mighty challenge. Each change turned the wheel of evolution; revealing new things and leaving some things behind. And there’s been so much new that I haven’t spent much time on thinking, habits, etc that I used to have; things I used to do.

After some examination, I found a few things I no longer do. All of which defined- in many ways — the last era of me. Some were personality based or motivating forces. Others were about survival and a craving for identity. Whatever the reason, I simple don’t do them any more. I’ve outgrown them — emotionally and spiritually.

  • Posturing — I had a boss in the early 2000s that once told me, “Justin, you’re always working an angle.” That was true. I did want something from most people. Whether it was making a sale, validating my existence, affirming my value. I didn’t have the confidence to just be — I had to go get these things from other people. My posturing was a combination of flattery, insincere sincerity, self-deprecation and outright lying. I called it being “relatable” — when really it was about survival-based manipulation. I was using my God-given ability to connect with people for my own gain.
    No more. Sure, the old triggers and responses are still there. But each time I feel that urge to posture, I remind myself that I don’t have to be anything for anyone. And also, you can’t love people and also use them.
  • Pretense — I had a vivid and lively imagination as a child. One that got me through violence, boredom, loneliness. But it wasn’t until I was in my mid teens that I learned to pretend. I pretended to be confident. I pretended like I had my life in order. And back to posturing, I would pretend like I liked you if I thought you could do something for me. The more I pretended, the larger my imposter syndrome would grow. Because I was an imposter. I was pretending to be happy. Pretending to be successful. I was good at pretending — especially when social media came around. I had a good sense of image and perception — and how to pretend in order to build the image I wanted everyone to see. No more. I am me. No acting. No pretending. Which, deliciously, has brought back my childhood ability to imagine and think creatively. I will extend a few minutes of grace to a situation — but if it’s not for me, I give myself permission to simply leave rather than pretend to be there. This includes many social settings, small talk, closed society gossip.
  • Primal Dominance — I was a dichotomy. In many ways, I was a wuss. In other ways, I wanted to drink from the skulls of my enemies. Especially intellectually. I wanted to intellectually dominate you. To show you who was smarter. The same boss told me “You are way too quick to show people how smart you are.” I was always insecure about my not having a college education, so if I came across someone with a lot of schooling — especially from a prestigious university- I would preen and proclaim that my “street” education was much more useful. I was also insecure about my perceived lack of athletic ability. So I would show off how smart I was on sports, working out, physical challenges to overcompensate for my lack of worth in these areas. No more. Sure, there’s a time for decisive leadership. I still consider myself an Alpha but a secure, awake, contemplative one.

When these three things fell away, I noticed additional changes. I no longer give advice. This is a fairly new epiphany, but most advice I was giving was related to one, some or all three of the above. My advice was all of the ego — even if well intentioned and typically factually correct. Secondly, I no longer identify with any groups. I am a human man, that by citizenship, is an American. That’s it. When I removed posturing, pretense and primal dominance from my behavior, I no longer NEEDED to be in a group. Finally, I have learned joy. The joy of genuineness. The joy of discipline. The joy of suffering. The joy of empathy. I have learned that when you connect to the soul and its creator, your primary emotion is joy. And joy doesn’t need to posture, pretend or dominate. Joy just is.

80% of Freedom is Internal

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Nelson Mandela’s cell

I believe the natural state of all humans is freedom. Anything less than freedom is on the spectrum of tyranny. I also have come to learn that 80% of freedom is internal. Whether it be a person, a family, a business, a community, a state, a nation, a global movement. Which leaves 20% as external conditions or circumstances.

While there are certainly more free societies, the government does not extend freedom. Because it can’t give what’s not its to give. It can protect the structure of freedom but is far more inclined to restrict freedom.

Religious doctrine also doesn’t extend freedom. It too is far more likely to restrict freedom. The freedom that Jesus (and others) spoke of was not a dispensation. It was a re-awakening of understanding the freedom we already contain within us.

A career rarely leads to freedom. The term “wage slaves” is painfully true. Consumerism and comparison also saddle us with soul crushing obligations and attachments. Which makes sense … you can’t purchase freedom.

I arrive at this 80/20 ratio through my own experiences but also studying the lives of others — especially those that have endured great suffering. Many survivors of suffering report a deep sense of freedom. A sense of meaning that extends far beyond the mind’s coping mechanisms. Noted psychiatrist, author and Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl said, “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

In any situation, no matter how dire, we control our behavior, our language (inner and outer) and our responses. The level of sovereignty in these three areas is essential to re-claim inner freedom. To achieve inner freedom (which is actually re-discovering what’s already there) takes a series of courageous and often sacrificial acts.

  • Re-claim your identity. Our ego’s need for identity and form creates deeply unhealthy attachments. Most common is an attachment to the identity of “victim”. As I shared recently, victimhood is the easiest cult to join and the most difficult to want to leave. Martyrdom is also an identity that our egos love to attach to. But you are not your circumstances, your conditions, your experiences. You are you. You are the you in you that infinitely powerful.
  • Change your narrative. Our words form our realities. If we are using negative language, then our reality will become bleak. This doesn’t mean to be delusional or naive. It means that we must measure every word we use — first in our heads, then out of our mouths. When you begin to speak encouraging, positive, affirming words, the narrative changes. This may have zero impact on outside conditions, but you will still re-awaken freedom within.
  • Listen to the right voices. The voice of the soul is never wrong. It can’t be killed, squelched, muted. But it can be drowned out by darker voices. Our ego contains a dark shadow of self-loathing, blame, self-accusation. This same voice also breeds resentment. Which inevitably leads to violence. Nelson Mandela on his long awaited release from prison: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
  • Practice radical acceptance. There is a freedom and clarity that comes from fully accepting current circumstances or conditions. Without this acceptance, we remain in a comparative, should/shouldn’t mindset that creates false hope, expectations and assumptions. Freedom and truth go hand in hand. So lying to yourself about the reality of the circumstances actually contributes to your suffering. It’s also important to radically accept our feelings about a negative situation. It’s a fine line. We want to acknowledge these feelings as a form of truth — but we don’t want the negative ones to define our mindset and behavior. A common phrase in the military is “embrace the suck”. This exemplifies the radical acceptance of both conditions and the feelings we have about them.

I will close with this thought …

The best and highest another person can do for you is to change the 20% — liberate you from circumstances. No other human can give you the 80% of freedom that is inward. Only you can do that.

You Are Here to Create

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We all start out as followers. Out of necessity for our survival and then for our identity, religious and political beliefs, career and to participate in society. Many of us stay in the role of follower — just with a different rank or slot on the hierarchy. Think a CEO is all powerful? Unless a CEO is the majority shareholder, even he/she is a follower.

I am more convinced than ever that being a follower was intended to be a temporary state of being. Books like “Iron John”“Wild at Heart” and “12 Rules for Life” emphasize the psychology and mythology behind the evolution of being; of the rites of passage of maturity.

Many a grown up hasn’t actually grown up. They are just aging followers — or as I say in my book “Human Bacon” about many Gen X and Boomer men, “they got old without every growing up”. I have some compassion for why this is. When you apply hard work with a clear role, you produce a lifestyle. This lifestyle is funded and sustained by being a good follower. Rocking the boat, speaking the truth, asking for what you want, etc are all a threat to the follower’s life. Thoreau said it more eloquently … “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

Here’s the truth, however …

You are here to create.

The timing of moving from follower to creator is different for everyone. I have seen toddlers that are all about creation and have little interest in following. But I’ve also seen the transition from follower to creator happen with the elderly. The point is the same: there will come a time in life when you will be called to move from follower to creator. This calling could come in many forms. It could be a whisper in your soul. It could be a catastrophic event. It could be a spiritual awakening.

Most ignore this call. Repeatedly. And maybe it goes away and you remain a follower the rest of your life. Again, I have compassion for those that choose (and it is a choice) to ignore the calling. It’s terrifying. It often requires a massive change in how you do things. Answering the call to create can separate you from family. It can end marriages. It can end careers. Being called to create threatens everything your ego created around your identity, value and status.

If you choose to answer the call, know this: your way of creating will be unique and different from anyone else. All creative endeavors advance humanity and put a dent in the universe. But yours will be especially yours and no one else’s.

What you are here to create can be found at the convergence of three things:

  1. Your Mission. The thing you are here to do that only you can do.
  2. Your Beliefs. Not your adopted beliefs but the intrinsic beliefs that are part of your being.
  3. Your Talents. The combination of your natural gifts and learned skills.

Where these converge an artisan will be found. The artisan in you may not be recognized by others. But you recognize it. It was you as a young child. Before you became a full-time follower. When you lived by imagination. When you made art without fear of rejection. When you ran with the wind in your hair.

The (re)emergence and (re)acceptance of this artisan will bring with it fresh eyes. It will make your soul more nuanced. You will be sensitive about wasting time, shallow conversations, pretense, the trivial. You will see people differently — including even seeing their hidden artist that’s dormant and trapped beneath their follower persona. It will help you re-discover your inherent human super powers: choice, perspective, action, intuition, awareness — and creative energy.

When you embrace your becoming a creator, you will find that your creative purpose becomes an organizing principle in the chaos of the world. It will change your relationship with time and resources. It will become the most important and sacred part of being. And many of those that saw you as merely a follower will fall away. As will every aspect of the follower’s life you once led.

If you are still at the following stage, that’s ok. I encourage you to listen to the voice of your soul. It is never wrong.

If you are now a creator, what are you creating? I truly want to know.

What the Hell does “Let Go” Mean?

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Credit: Ronald Binge

You know if a phrase starts to appear on Instagram feeds, casual conversations and as coffee shop/Christian bookstore/strip mall yoga studio chotchkies, it’s become a cliche. Such is the the case with the now reduced-to-pablum phrase of “let go”. “Let go” has joined the ranks of “everything happens for a reason”, “YOLO!” and “follow your arrow”.

“Let go” is often well intended but poor advice (as most advice is) that encourages the recipient to suppress emotions and experiences — all in the name of “moving forward”. But you can’t let go of memories. Our brain doesn’t work that way. You can’t let go of feelings. Our heart doesn’t work that way.

Of course, I get the intention of “letting go”. We shouldn’t hold on to things. It’s part of being human. But “letting go” has also contributed to the mis-understood concept of non-attachment. Non-attachment is also humanly impossible. Like wearing wool socks through a sticker patch and not picking up stickers. We attach to people, ideas, things, beliefs, symbols. (The solution is aware attachment — but that’s a different post).

So what the hell does “let go” actually mean?

Let’s introduce a metaphor that will help explain a healthy, realistic type of letting go …

The physical world is made up of solids, gases and liquids. Metaphorically, universal truths are solids. Everything produced by the ego is gaseous. And feelings are fluid. In their liquid state, feelings follow the same laws of fluidity as in nature. When held on to, water becomes first still, then stagnant, then toxic. Feelings are the same way. They are meant to pass through; to flow. But we hold on to them (that whole attachment thing, again).

Let’s examine this further with common emotions and feelings …

When suppressed or contained:

  • Anger becomes resentment. And by my observations and internal wars, resentment is the most destructive of human emotions.
  • Desire becomes destruction which becomes shame or regret.
  • Hate becomes apathy which becomes violence.
  • Pride becomes loathing which becomes arrogance.
  • Envy, fueled by comparison, becomes greed.
  • Worry starts off as control and becomes anxiety.
  • Loneliness begets isolation which begets madness (and extremism).
  • Boredom produces numbness which then leads to the death of joy.

Even positive feelings are meant to pass on through …

  • Happiness trapped in a holding tank becomes lost expectations.
  • Reverence retained becomes idol worship (and when given a business model becomes a literal or figurative religion).
  • Gratefulness gathered becomes unworthiness.
  • And love (not Love, that’s different) can become obsession.

So a much more accurate use of “letting go” is this …

Feel it all.

But don’t hold on to the feeling.

Let go of the holding on to the feeling.

If it’s a negative feeling, it will pass. If it’s a positive feeling, another one will soon come.

10 Signs You Might be an Extremist

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Extremism is the single biggest threat to liberty. As 10,000 years of history indicates, this is not a new concept. What is new are the types of extremism. Regardless of their source, extreme views and extreme behaviors rise from the dark parts of humanity to produce the Herods, the Hitlers, the Stalins, the Maos of the world.

Extremism exists in every society in a variety of ways. But for the sake of this post, I’m focusing on extremism in America. Extremism in the US can be loosely divided into two groups:

  • The Far Right- Primarily comprised of “religious right” evangelical groups and Republican loyalists. It also has its own fringe — the alt-right as an example.
  • The Far Left- Primarily comprised of the secular left and “social justice warriors”. They, too, have a fringe — Antifa, militant fill-in-the-label etc.

Although worthy of deeper examination, the purpose of this post is to explore the mindset of extremists. Put in very simple psychological terms, extremism appears to be a type of mental illness. When you consider such conditions as cognitive dissonance, group polarization, paranoia et al, the profile of mental illness emerges.

It’s been said that if you know you’re crazy, then you’re not actually crazy. In that spirit, here are 10 signs that you might be an extremist:

  1. You are disconnected from humanity. This starts with disconnection from your own sense of self and your own value. For if you are disconnected from your own humanity, then its quite impossible to be connected to the humanity of others. This is most manifested in isolation, joining closed groups and committing acts of violence.
  2. You live in a closed society. Closed societies are the stagnate ponds of humanity. They sit closed off from the rest of society and become corrupt. A closed society could be a family, a community, a religious sect, a political group. But they also exist in more large scale cultures such as academic institutions, corporations and non-profits. If everyone around you looks like you, talks like you and thinks like you, you are in a closed society.
  3. Your knowledge is static. When your knowledge set doesn’t grow or evolve, you become highly attached to the structure of what you already know. And new information and ideas are seen as a threat. Most common in academic models, religious dogma and ideology (which the very definition is that you think your ideas are more right than every one else’s). This is also why extremists have their own language separate from reason, logic or science.
  4. You are obsessed with image. Osama Bin Laden would watch hours of recorded news shows and rant to others about how he was portrayed. Despots erect giant shrines and statues to themselves. This also includes an obsession with appearance: dress codes, approved language (political correctness), unwritten rules of conduct amongst members of a group.
  5. You have no sense of humor. Or more accurately, you are part of a group that has an approved sense of humor. As such, there are only forced smiles and fake laughs.
  6. You’ve become what you hate. The Law of the Seed is quite evident in extremism- if you plant hate, you grow hate. Very much related to this is condemnation by comparison, shaming those that leave your group and behavior that is radically misaligned with what you say you believe.
  7. You are wildly inconsistent with your moral code. This is similar to #6 but is more related to the dissonance between assumed beliefs and actual behaviors. You especially see this in extremist religious groups — like the befuddling fawning endorsement of Trump by the evangelical right and Islamic terrorists’ prolific consumption of pornography.
  8. You’re reaaaaaaly in to conspiracy theories. It would be quite convenient to believe that your life sucks because some outside force is stacking the deck against you. You wouldn’t have to own your own life or your behavior. After all, you are a victim and victimhood is the easiest cult to get in to and the most difficult to get out of. This is quite common in the political arena. Remember Hillary Clinton’s “vast rightwing conspiracy” comment? Or the far right’s obsession with Obama’s birth certificate?
  9. You are incapable of seeing the merits of opposing ideas. Mark Twain once opined “The only cure for narrowness is travel”. That’s the thing about extreme ideas. They don’t stay that way if you get out and see the world and talk to people with a curious mind. That’s why most extremists stay in closed societies. It makes them feel safe and gives them a sense of belonging.
  10. You don’t know you are an extremist. Which means if you are reading this and you are outraged, offended or otherwise in a tizzy then … well, you know the Foxworthy bit.

Thoughts on Anxiety

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The title of this post is intentionally ironic. Considering that thinking is exactly what causes anxiety. None the less, this is an important topic because anxiety effects roughly 40 million Americans over 18.

I am one of them. I didn’t know what to call it until later in life, but I’ve dealt with anxiety as far back as I can remember. Varying from gripping panic to the constant hum of unease, anxiety has been a frequent visitor. I remember having panic attacks so severe that I would pass out. I’m certain that my anxiety comes from being born into a situation that constantly immersed me in hyper-threat alert mode.

So I don’t arrive at these thoughts on anxiety lightly and without experience. I have been my own lab, my own research project, my own source of empirical data. To be clear, these thoughts are what have been of help to me and those I coach and mentor. They may not work for you. I am not a therapist, psychologist or any other sort of mental health professional.

  • Anxiety is yours. You own it. And if you begin thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility to fix it, you become its slave.
  • No one or no thing actually causes anxiety. Anxiety is entirely an inside game; a construct of the mind/ego. As I overheard recently, “the ego believes all of its stories”.
  • Anxiety is trying to protect you. It comes from thousands (maybe millions) of years of evolutionary biology to protect, to survive. But it doesn’t mean something is actually wrong. True danger triggers several responses, but anxiety isn’t one of them.
  • You are not your anxiety. In Internal Family System (IFS) behavioral theory, anxiety is a “part” that your psyche created to protect your core self. As I mentioned above, this is why it is trying to protect you. I call this part of me “The Parameter Dog”. On occasion, it still barks at perceived threats — but mostly he just works (once understood, anxiety becomes a fairly decent motivator) or rests like any herding animal.
  • Anxiety’s only cure is action. You can’t think your way out of anxiety. That’s why when dealing with anxiety or apanic attack, you’ve got to move. This includes sitting/standing up straight with your shoulders back and your breath even. Or push ups. Or a punching bag. Just move.
  • Anxiety comes from the same part of the brain as addiction. So anxiety can fairly easily trigger addictive behavior — especially an addiction to coping mechanisms. This could be relatively benign coping mechanisms like NetFlix binging. Or highly destructive and corrosive mechanisms like drug abuse, excessive consumption of pornography, excessive shopping, excessive eating… to name just a few business models that rely on anxiety.
  • Anxiety is heavily influenced by our attachment style. This includes the spiritual aspects of attachment that were taught by Jesus and Buddha as well as the emerging psychological science of attachment. In essence, we have a pre-disposition to either anxious, avoidant or healthy attachment styles. Anxiety plays a major role in the lives of anxious and avoidant attachment styles. If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend this book.
  • Remember this mantra: Ownership > Anxiety. This loops back to my first thought I shared. You don’t choose anxiety but you do choose how you react to it. Own that you have anxiety. Own your current reaction to it. Own the action you want to take. Own the search for the root cause. Own how it effects how others interact with you.

If you deal with anxiety or love someone that does, I hope these thoughts are helpful. And if you have your own tips and hacks for anxiety, please share them in the comments.

My Appearance on Defining Audacity Podcast Episode #134

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One of the highlights of 2018! I’ve been a fan of Drew and his podcast for a year or so. It was such an honor to be invited on and participate in this new series he’s created. This is the first time I’ve told more details of my story to a broader audience. It was fun, terrifying and cathartic. And Drew made it all even more awesome with his infectious energy. Thats also to Scott and Gabe for the photos and behind the scenes support!

Listen here:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/livethelistproject/aug-22-defining-audacity

 

Being in a Doing World

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For me, the gravitational pull of the extrinsic and external is my greatest source of anxiety. This sense of detachment from my inner self produces a sense of untetheredness. It makes me overly-sensitive, over-reactive. In this state, I tend to modify myself in order to get acceptance. I pursue what I think will make me happy — forgetting that I’m already happy.

In simple but true terms, “doing” is extrinsic and “being” is intrinsic. Doing is an external activity. Being is an internal state of consciousness.

Similar to the war on self-worth (a future topic), the pull of the extrinsic manifests in several ways in my life. Maybe some of these will resonate with your own experience.

  • I often find myself trying to see how others see me. This puts me in the doing mode of creating an image. I want others to see me as successful, attractive, confident, enlightened. So my energy is focused on doing whatever is necessary to create this image. To be intrinsic is to be your true self in any situation or any condition. There is no doing here. Just a sense of being; of connectedness to your own self-worth. This intrinsic place is fleeting for me.
  • I frequently attach way too much value to to my to-do list. It literally has the word “do” in it! While certainly things need to get done, I must be cautious of the highly addictive solidity of task. The mind loves the sense of meaning and value of getting things done. This is the essence of what it means to be a workaholic. There will always be something on the to-do list. But to combat it’s narcotic effect, I also need a “To-Be” list. This would include things like being connected to God, being compassionate towards others, being open to adventure. The list is endless.
  • I know I’m in a high state of extrinsic doing when I am worrying about what other people are doing. The irony is rich. I am making my doing about what other people are doing. In this place lies obsession, lust, resentment, judgement. It is a detachment from the humanity of others because doing detaches me from my own humanity. There is a place for being when it comes to others. This would include observation, curiosity, connecting. Being is looking beneath the surface of the behavior of others to understand and listen to their souls.

Like almost everything in life, the solution is awareness. And awareness comes from asking good questions. Like …

Am I grounded in my soul or grasping for attention?

Am I loving people where they are or judging them from afar?

Am I seeking the root or chasing the fruit?

Can I look into someones eyes — including my own?

Doing is ultimately self-absorption. This is sometimes necessary at a survival level. That’s why its gravitational pull is so strong. But there’s no growth here. The to-do list just changes.

Being is ultimately self-worthiness. It’s the surety of knowing that you are connected to permanent things like love, truth, goodness, creativity. Our soul is wired to need these things. And this is most certainly where growth is. The to-be list just expands.

 

My Book List – Updated 8/20/19

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I get a ton of requests for my reading list. So here it is! I’ve started with what I’ve read so far in 2018. These are roughly in the order of which I read them. I then will update previous readings by category as time allows.

A note: all links go to Amazon, but please support a local bookstore if you can. I also didn’t include most of the fiction books I’ve read.

What I’ve Read in 2018

“Turning Pro” – Steven Pressfield

“For One More Day” – Mitch Albom

“Shoe Dog” – Phil Knight

“The Barbarian Way” – Erwin Raphael McManus

“Ideas, Influence and Income” – Tanya Hall

“The Power of TED” – David Emerald

“Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions” – Richard Erdoes

“The Artisan Soul” – Erwin Raphael McManus

“Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual” – Jocko Willink

“The Heart of the Enlightened” – Anthony De Mello

“The War of Art” – Steven Pressfield

“12 Rules for Life” – Dr. Jordan B Peterson

“Iron John” – Robert Bly

“The Pilgrimage” – Paulo Coelho 

“Hardwiring Happiness” – Rick Hanson

“Steppenwolf” – Herman Hesse

“Conversations with God” – Neale Donald Walsch 

“The Tao Te Ching” – Lao Tzu

“Love YourSelf Like Your Life Depends On It” – Kamal Ravikant

“Wild at Heart” – John Eldredge

“The Devil and Miss Prym” – Paulo Coelho

“The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” – Vishen Lakhiani

“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

“Ownership” – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

“The Witch of Portobello” – Paulo Coelho

“I Heart Creativity” – Courtney Feider

“Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” – Kamal Ravikant 

“Feeling is the Secret” – Neville Goddard

“Tao Te Ching” – Lao Tzu

“The Gnostic Gospels” – Elaine Pagels

“The Daily Stoic” – Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman

“Dinner with Buddha” – Roland Merullo

“Essentialism” – Greg McKeown

“Beyond Belief” – Elaine Pagels

“Attached.” – Amir Levine & Rachel Heller

“Breakfast with Buddha – Roland Merullo

“Living Buddha, Living Christ” – Thich Naht Hanh

“Loving What Is” – Byron Katie

“Christian Mystics” – Matthew Fox

“Tribe” – Sebastian Junger

“The Celestine Prophecy” – James Redfield

“Leadership and Self Deception” – The Arbinger Institute 

 

Previous Readings by Category

Personal Growth / Psychology 

“Unbeatable Mind” – Mark Divine

“Grit” – Angela Duckworth

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” – Mark Manson

“The Ego is the Enemy” – Ryan Holiday

“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” – Donald Miller

“The Go-Giver” – Bob Burg

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Stephen Covey

“Notes to Myself” – Hugh Prather

“The Power of Habit” – Charles Duhigg

“Believe It and Behave It” – Kate Harvie

“Phil the Logger” – Brandon Wright

“The Noticer” – Andy Andrews

Business/Entrepreneurism 

“Heretics to Heroes” – Cort Dial

“Start with Why” – Simon Sinek

“Tribal Leadership” – Dave Logan et al

“Play Bigger” – Al Ramadan et al.

“Traction” – Gino Wickman

“American Icon” – Bryce Hoffman

“Red Teaming” – Bryce Hoffman

“Pyromarketing” – Greg Stiesltra 

“Good to Great” – Jim Collins

“Make the Noise Go Away” – Larry Linne

“Made to Stick” – Chip & Dan Heath

“Switch” – Chip & Dan Heath

 

Spiritual/Mystic

“The Book of Joy” – Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams

“The Book of Awakening” – Marc Nepo

“Writing Down Your Soul” – Janet Conner

“Outwitting the Devil” – Napoleon Hill

“Awareness” – Anthony De Mello

“A Hidden Wholeness” – Parker Palmer

“The Power of Now” – Eckhart Tolle

“The Way to Love” – Anthony De Mello

“The Divine Arsonist” – Jacob Nordby

“Prayers of the Cosmos” – Neil Douglas-Klotz

“The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho

“Warrior of the Light” – Paulo Coelho

“The Magician’s Way” – William Whitecloud

“The Last Shaman” – William Whitecloud 

“Siddhartha” – Herman Hesse

“The Four Agreements” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Fifth Agreement” – Don Miguel Ruiz & Don Jose Ruiz

“The Mastery of Love” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Mastery of Self” – don Miguel Ruiz, Jr

“The Art of Stillness” – Pico Iyer

“The Five Levels of Attachment” – don Miguel Ruiz, Jr

“A New Earth” – Eckhart Tolle

“The Fifth Mountain” – Paulo Coelho

Creativity/Innovation

“Blessed are the Weird” – Jacob Nordby

“A Whole New Mind” – Daniel Pink

 

History / Biographies

“In the Garden of Beasts” – Erik Larson

“Education of a Wandering Man” – Louis L’Amour


Other

“Markings” – Dag Hammarskjold

“Manuscript Found in Acra” – Paulo Coelho

“Adultery” – Paulo Coelho

“Letters to a Young Poet” – Rainer Maria Rilke