Finding Fulfillment Where I Am

There have been many times in my life where I don’t seem to have any desires.  I’ve often mistaken this contentment for laziness or lack of direction.  We live in a society where we’re made to feel like we should always have goals to work toward.  If we’re not getting a promotion at work or trying to get to the next financial level then we’re made to feel bad about ourselves.

I do enjoy having a goal to work toward, but I have been asking myself lately, “what if I’ve already found what I’m looking for and don’t realize it?”  Alan Watts asked the question, “What is it that you want?”  When I ask myself this question, I have to honestly say, “I don’t know.”  Watts’ answer to this is that either I already have it or I don’t know myself.  This really resonates with me.

Four years ago I came to a realization that I don’t know anything.  I started to think, at 14 I thought I knew everything, then at 24 I thought I knew everything, but now, at 34 I don’t know anything.  I haven’t got the world or myself figured out.  At 38 I realize that I probably never will have that figured out.  So Alan Watts was right, I don’t know myself.  He went on to say that you can never really know yourself.

The funny thing is, I think both of his answer apply to me.  I think I already have what I want.  I have a wife who I love more than I ever imagined I could, three beautiful girls who I love, who make me happy and who I am incredibly proud of.  I have a home that I really like.  I couldn’t be happier with my career path.

I may not have things figured out but I seem to have what I want out of life.  So why struggle to obtain what I already have?

Be well. Be Positive.

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What’s Wrong In Self-Help and Law of Attraction

I have been thinking a lot about self-help and most notably the infamous “Law of Attraction”.  As a firm believer of the concept of creating your reality, I think the Law of Attraction has been sold to us as snake out.  And before you start telling me how I’m wrong, let me explain.

I know people who have money under the glass of glass top tables.  They tell me that having the money there will create a mindset in them to attract more money.  This may not be entirely untrue, however, when someone stares at money all day hoping that it’ll just start flowing in, then we have a problem.  I’ve watched videos where there is an overweight, middle-aged man in a cheap suit telling a group of friends that they need to put together a vision board and think about money 24 hours a day.  Nothing against middle-aged guys in cheap suits, I’m 38 and don’t even own a suit but clearly these guys with folding chairs set up in their garage with a cheap chalk board aren’t really manifesting abundance at an alarming rate.

Alan Watts used to propose the question to college students, “What would you like to do if money were no object?”  This would be an incredible question by itself but Watts goes one step deeper by asking “How would you really enjoy spending your life?”  Ok, mind blown until panic sets in.  There are people who actually do what they enjoy doing and don’t worry about the money.  Many end up making the money later.  Ok, so stay with me a moment while I talk about myself.

In 2002 I moved to Florida to study Film and Video production.  I had some of my best friends in life laugh at me and say “What do you think you’re going to do with that education?”.  I wasn’t completely sure.  I knew I loved writing and creating things but I also just like pushing buttons and using expensive equipment.  There’s also a part of me who likes being part of something that millions of people see and enjoy on a daily basis…. entertainment.  I moved, worked very hard in school and started working in television after graduation.  I couldn’t be happier with my choice.  I don’t make a large amount of money doing it.  I sometimes have to borrow money from my parents for things but eventually they get paid back.  I recently decided against pursuing a promotion that would take me in a direction that doesn’t suit me.  After telling my boss that I had decided against taking this position I felt liberated.

I know so many people who feel stuck in their jobs.  I say to them, “but you make so much money!”  They still aren’t happy.  They feel as if they aren’t doing what they love.  I have other friends who are doing what they love and do make plenty of money.  I’m not poor, don’t get me wrong.  The most important thing, however, is that I’m happy.  I spend quality time with my family and they are happy.  Why do I need anything else besides happiness?

So the problem seems to be that many self-help and Law of Attraction teachers are selling you on the idea of material object that cannot make you happy instead of selling you on the idea of happiness first. I will say, however, that most of them do teach gratitude for what you already have.  This is a power mindset which can lead to happiness.

So, if you are not happy with your situation in life, stop pursuing money.  Start pursuing happiness.

Be well. Be positive.

PS – Here is a link to a video where Alan Watts talks about this.

I Feel Like It’s Been Forever…

I feel like I haven’t written in forever.  I’ve been under the weather for the past couple of weeks.  I finally went to the doctor last Thursday and got some antibiotics.  Turns out I had a respiratory infection.

I’ve spent a lot of time in bed and being miserable at work over the past couple of weeks.  But I am doing much better now.  I also don’t feel very rested!  I’ve had a lot of projects to work on around the house.  We canceled our cable TV and I put Roku boxes in the living room and each of our girls’ rooms.  I also finished my wife’s coffee bar which turned out great!

Coffee Bar

I’m thankful for my health.  I have friends who aren’t able to walk much or at all.  I met a homeless man this week who lives in my city, on the street with his two dogs.  He’s a nice guy who lights up the minute you talk to him as a friend.  I’m so very thankful for my home and my family.

This is life and life is good.  Over the past two weeks I’ve been down but not out and I’ve had a lot of time to think about how great my life is.  My anxiety is virtually gone.  At times I start to feel a little anxious and then I start to think about what I’m thankful for and become present and my anxiety just fades off in to oblivion.

I thought this task of confronting my giants would take much longer.  My initial estimate was six months.  Here I am, less than two months in to the year and I’m feeling great.  There is more work to be done, however.  Staying in a positive frame of mind and feeling a higher sense of confidence is the ultimate goal.

I have read three books so far this year.  “Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and “7 Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra.

I’m going to start a new one today.  I have wanted to read a book called “Joy of Living” by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, who is a Buddhist monk who suffered with anxiety for many years.

I also have “Manifesting Your Destiny” by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  I think I’m going to go with this one next.  I’ve wanted to read “Joy of Living” for a long time but I feel like I’d like to shift gears a little and come back to this one later.

So this is where I’m at… this is the “State of Tim” if you will haha!  I’m going to start writing in this blog again too!  I miss writing, it’s very therapeutic and helps me stay focused on my goals.  It’s great to be back.

Be well.  Be positive.

[Book Review] “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

“Power of Now” is my second book of the year.  My goal is 10 books which, for me, is unheard of!  My first was “Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts.

Eckhart Tolle either came from the same school as Alan Watts or was influenced by him in some way.  While there could be pros and cons to reading either book first, I’m glad I read them in the order I did.  Where Alan Watts gave me a great overview of the philosophy behind being present, Tolle put it in layman’s terms and showed me how to apply these concepts to every day life.

The book starts with Tolle telling his story about how he was considered a failure.  He was well-educated but seemingly going nowhere in life.  He was extremely depressed that he hadn’t lived up to his or anyone’s expectations.  Then, one night, he had a moment where he became intensely aware of his self.  He spent the next few years in a state of bliss and studied why this had happened to him.

He then starts showing us how to acquire this type of inner peace for ourselves.  He explains what consciousness is and how the lack of it causes pain in life.  Being present is not an easy thing.  Our mind wants to think about our problems, future and past, and has little need for the present moment.  Tolle stresses that there is no reason to stress about the future because all we will ever have is the now.  Applying this idea in our lives will not be easy because of resistance from the mind but it’ll bring a deep sense of calm to our lives.

In Chapter 2 he talks more about the concept of being conscious.  How living in the now will help you find the true self.  I’ve been applying these concepts for a few weeks now and I feel much more at ease.  My anxiety has subsided and when it does flare up I’m able to catch it and stop myself a lot quicker.

Eckhart Tolle builds on these concepts and shows you how to apply them in nearly every imaginable life situation.  He does so in a question and answer format based on his experience teaching others.  He goes in to a deep explanation about bringing out the positive and love and stopping negativity from our lives.  Tolle clearly has had a lot of experience teaching people because if you do bring your awareness to the present, it clears your head so you can focus your attention on positive things.

Honestly, Tolle could have listed a long list of questions and then pointed to one single answer – “No, be RIGHT NOW!”, but he doesn’t.  Why?  Because there is much more to say about what your mind is trying to do vs what your “self” is trying to do when you become present.

I would, and have, highly recommend this book to anyone.  Since reading it, I’ve noticed how much these principles are needed in our society.  My friends are constantly complaining and worrying about things that have already happened or haven’t happened yet.  It is hard to find anyone who is focused on what is happening right now.

Toward the end of “Power of Now”, Tolle teaches us how to block out negativity from others and how to stay present.  He even offers suggestions for helping others realize the need for consciousness.

Eckhart Tolle has a follow-up called “A New Earth” which I plan on reading at some time this year.  I look forward to reading it but I feel like I’m already seeing a new earth of my own.

If you’ve never read it, please, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.  Read it with an open mind.  If you are religious like me, don’t feel as if anything he says is a threat to your beliefs, but rather a deeper understanding of those beliefs.

Be well, be positive.

Waking Up To A World That Was Always There

A few years ago I was riding my motorcycle.  As I was approaching another road that I would be turning left on to an SUV, without signalling, started changing lanes in to mine.  I hit my brakes and horn and luckily avoided an accident.  As a motorcyclist this is, unfortunately, something that I deal with often.

As I pulled up to the red light, behind the lady who cut me off, I see her throwing her hands up in the air and suddenly rolls down the window.  She started yelling at me, “how am I supposed to know to look out for motorcycles?!”  Baffled, I opened my shield and called back, “the same way you know to look for children and cars.”  She rolled up her window and that was the end of it.

Her reaction shocked me more than anything but I wonder if it really should have.  All too often I also find myself mindlessly going through life reacting and following my routine without thought.

After reading “Wisdom of Insecurity” and currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” has opened my eyes.  I’ve become more mindful and aware of the world around me.  It is a beautiful place.  Even today, it’s 50 degrees (F), a little rainy and there’s no sunshine.  The world doesn’t stop for that.  Nature happens, trees still spread their branches and lift to the sky, the animals go about their daily lives, birds make noises in the trees, the wind rustles leaves and the clouds float quietly past.

There is an amazing world happening all around you right this moment.  You may be in your living room or office or maybe even in a tiny bathroom but it is still there.  Sit quietly for a moment and close your eyes.  Start to hear the room.  Listen for sounds and if there are no sounds then listen to the quiet.  Listen to your breathing for a minute, what does it sound like? Maybe you hear a passing car, a cooling fan from a computer or cable box, maybe you hear your heating/cooling system.

God gave us this world and it is a special place.  We just need to open our eyes and be aware of what’s happening around us.  When you’re in your car driving, don’t just pay attention to the tail lights of the car in front of you, notice the trees you pass, the grass on the side of the road, the sky above you and all that it does.

Have you ever stopped to think about that for a moment?  What does the sky do?  Does it just sit there? No, it changes from day to night and we can see the whole universe laid out before us, there are clouds that pass by, the sun and the moon move throughout the day and night.  Everything is constantly in motion because if it didn’t then life would be dull.  Even take notice of the space between objects.

See beyond yourself.

Be well, be positive

Layering My Journey

Life is a series of moment strung together one by one.  By the time we all go to bed at night we’ve accomplished many different things.  I’m willing to bet that almost all of you wake up, get out of bed, eat at some point, use the restroom and eventually lay back down in bed.

This was a very busy weekend for me.  Friday I sent my kids off to school and had very few plans for the day.  While I was walking home from the bus stop my friend Juan was driving by and asked if I wanted to run up to Wawa (a gas station/sandwich shop nearby) for coffee.  I had coffee waiting for me at home and I had to meet a friend who was coming in from out of town but I accepted his offer anyway.  I hadn’t seen Juan in a while and the 15 minutes it would take to go get coffee (to go) with him would be time well spent.

Normally, I would spend that time looking at the clock and obsessing about getting back in time to meet my other friend.  Instead, I made a calculated decision and decided that I could go and be back on time without worry.  So that’s what I did.  Instead of watching the clock, I enjoyed my time chatting with Juan.

Once I got back, however, I didn’t have time to sit.  I left right away and headed out.  I wrote Friday in my “Traffic And Life” post about how I decided to enjoy my time stuck in traffic instead of worrying about being on time.  In the end, everything was ok.  When it was time for Derek to leave, I made it back to my side of town in time to enjoy lunch with my wife and a friend.  Not only that but there was plenty of time for me to go running before I had to run out to the store to grab some things for dinner (it was pay day!) before my wife and I headed out to see a friend for her birthday.

During this whole busy day, I noticed a lot of down time in between.  Not between every event of the day but it was there.  It got me thinking about my daily routine.  I have more than enough time to write my bog, read… etc.  So I started thinking about what I could add that would enhance my life right now.

In 2009 I got in to meditation.  It worked, and it worked well.  At times, I had never felt better.  Unfortunately, after about 3 months, I started feeling like I was losing my mind so I quit.  I’ve since learned that this is common and that if you can just keep going, things will improve greatly.  20 minutes of my day is all I need to practice meditation so that is what I’m adding.  I’m laying my recovery efforts.  My running is going well, I’ve been reading and following the advice of my books and I’m starting to feel better.  I have days I could be doing yoga but have not yet started because I was getting acclimated to running.  I now feel like I can add that as well.

My giants are not all the same and my journey wont be a single straight line to confront them either.  If I’m going to be successful, I have to immerse myself in this journey and follow many paths at the same time.

My anxiety manifests itself in many different ways and I plan to stand up to it in many different ways.

Be well, be positive.

[Book Review] “Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts

I’ll admit that book reviews are a bit foreign to me so bear with me if it doesn’t look like any other book reviews that you’ve read before.

Wisdom of Insecurity was written in 1951 and with the exception of that fact that cell phones and social media aren’t mentioned, this book could have been written yesterday.  I found pretty much everything in it to still be relevant today.  The forward was written by Deepak Chopra who’s forward was most definitely not in the original printing.

Deepak started out by writing a brief statement of what the book was about and then talked about how this book had a profound influence on him at a pivotal age in his life.  For anyone that knows Deepak Chopra, this is an impressive statement.

So once I started getting in to the book, Watts starts off by talking about science vs religion and the way they always talk about future or past events.  This is a perfect set up for where he starts getting in to the zen philosophy of living life now since you will never live in the future and the past is a fading memory, all you will ever have is the present.

I felt, like Chopra, that this philosophy was very profound.  Taking time to be aware of your surroundings and your immediate sensations is quite calming and almost euphoric at times.

From here, Watts goes deeper.  He describes the idea of being one with the universe and how your mind senses things and that when you are present and feeling these sensations then the objects that are being sensed become you.  For example, when you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin (something I really love), it is you because you are the one that feels it.

In my own life, I try to feel the air, smell the land and see the colors all around me.  It is a beautiful connection that is being made between you and all of God’s creations.  One could argue, as Watts does, that you are connecting with God and becoming closer to him.

With that said, the book ends with him speaking of religious matters.  I know from hearing Alan Watts’ speeches that he is not a fan of Christianity.  I am a Christian, myself, and will avoid getting preachy on this blog but I honestly feel that the tone of the book changed at that point.  Watts has said that we should not use the bible because it attempts to teach us everything about God when we should learn from experience.  He then quotes poets and Buddhist texts.  A double standard in my view but Watts is a wise man and is entitled to his opinions.  It didn’t detract from me enjoying the book, it gave me a different view from someone else.

I highly recommend this book to anyone.  Whether you’re a Christian or and Atheist, I would recommend you read with an open mind, follow some of his advice, and see how it can be applied to your own belief system.  Speaking of belief, Watts also talks about the need to take belief out of the equation and focus more on faith.

I have some other books to read but in December I plan on reading this one again if I reach my goal of 10 books in 2014 before that time.

Next up, “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

Be well, be positive.