How to Find Peace

What is “happiness”?

It’s a silly word, really. What does it even mean? Anyone can be happy. You just need to win 5 bucks on a scratch-off and you’ll be happy for a few minutes.

Happiness isn’t what people really want. We really want peace. We want to know that everything is going to be OK. We want to know that tomorrow something isn’t going to happen that will make us feel bad.

That’s peace.

Here are a few definitions of peace from Merriam-Webster:

– “a state of tranquility or quiet”
– “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions “
– “Peace.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

It’s easy to be at peace when everything is going great. When we have the money, people, time, and everything we want in life is exactly the way we want, peace is easily attainable.

But that’s rare. Most folks will never experience a time when everything is exactly the way we want it to be. So, we have two choices:

  1. Control the world so it is exactly how we want it to be.
  2. Stop allowing our circumstances to determine how we feel.

Number 1 is pretty futile. It means that we do everything we possibly can to make the world around us act exactly as we want it to so that nothing bad ever happens. But this is how most folks approach the matter. They have the false notion that if we can just have circumstances exactly as we want them, we’ll attain peace. So the pursuit is toward controlling circumstances.

But we all know that’s a futile endeavor.

That leaves us with #2, which is to remain at peace regardless of what happens in the outside world. When you realize that peace is available to you, regardless of your situation or circumstance — all the time, no matter what, you’ve conquered life.

When you find peace internally, the external world no longer controls how you feel. Therefore, you no longer have to proceed through life concerned with how events are going to make you feel.

That’s freedom. That is real, true freedom.

So how do you do this? It’s pretty simple, but it requires unlearning a lifetime of programming. But here are a few tools that will put you on the right path.

1. Regular meditation.
Meditating trains you to find peace and control the thoughts that fly through your head. It doesn’t happen quickly, but with time, it helps you to learn how to access peace anytime, regardless of your external circumstances.

2. Giving up vices.
We constantly turn to vices like alcohol, sex, junk food, TV, Social media, weed, Internet junk food and so on to deal with the external influences of our lives. Pick the one you turn to most and eliminate it for 30 days. This forces you to deal with your emotions in a different way.

3. Be You.
Do what you want to do. It may take some time to unwind your life as it currently is, so you can rebuild it how you want to, but start small. Start by identifying some small thing you can start or stop doing that will make your life closer to how you want it.

This isn’t easy. It’s about retraining yourself to think about life and do things in an entirely different way. But don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all overnight. Just take one step today.

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This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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How to Start Living

As long as I can remember, the most important thing to me has always been to constantly become better. Constantly working to get to the next level, get better at things, discover better ways to think, learn and act. Most of all, I’ve sought to find ways to interact with the world that will make my life more joyous, more meaningful and more peaceful. In a word — happier.

The most important thing I’ve had to figure out (and will always continue to work on) is how to interact with the world around me in a way that allows me to remain at peace — regardless of the circumstances I’m faced with.

I don’t know how to stop wars, mean people, traffic or other things I don’t like. That means only way to truly remain peaceful and happy is to figure out how to interact with the world in a way that doesn’t require the world to be any certain way.

That’s the key — not placing a requirement on your happiness that the world be any certain way. Let’s talk more about that.

Most unhappiness comes from things not being how we want them or how we believe they should be. We believe our happiness is tied to things being some certain way. That is, we believe we need to have certain relationships, amounts of money, jobs, social status, and so on to be happy.

When the world — all that stuff that’s beyond your control — takes those things away, changes them or prevents you from having them, your happiness is affected negatively.

The world simply doesn’t adapt to what you need in order to be happy. So, here’s some things you can do to remain happy and at peace without relying on specific external circumstances.

1. Be OK with uncertainty
Just accept that there are going to be all kinds of things going on in the world that you won’t like. Those things will affect your ability to have circumstances exactly the way you want them. That’s OK. We’re talking about a different way to approach things here that will vastly increase your likelihood of becoming and remaining happy.

2. Give up the idea of good and bad
Good? Bad? What do they even mean? Good and bad are labels we place on things that either are or are not the way we want them to be. Since we can’t control most of what happens, calling them either good or bad only frustrates us.

3. Learn from everything
No matter what it is, view it as “interesting” and see what you can take away from it to become better. Every event has some sort of learning or opportunity that you can take from it. Remember, in #2, we stopped viewing anything as good or bad, so everything is just an event. So, since it’s not good or bad, it’s all just experiences.

This doesn’t mean you don’t get to have goals. It doesn’t mean you can’t strive for things. It just means you have to operate in a world where you only control a small sliver of the bigger picture. That means you have to be really flexible in how you make your big goals happen.

Follow these guidelines to achieve what you want in life and be peaceful while you do it.

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This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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How to Quit Escaping and Start Living

We all do it. Life isn’t how we want it to be, so our answer is to escape. Whether it’s TV, alcohol, drugs, food, sex, vacation or whatever, when we aren’t happy with our life, we escape through these and numerous other methods.

There’s nothing wrong with getting away now and then, but the real tragedy is when life becomes a constant pursuit of escape.

When every day is about getting through the day so you can have a drink… When every week is about getting through the week so you can get to the weekend… When every year is about getting to those wonderful two weeks of vacation…

There comes a point when it’s all about escaping. Your entire focus is on escaping from the only thing you have that really matters — your life.

The scary part is that you reach this point without even knowing what happened. You may not even realize that every second of your life is about escaping from something.

When your whole life has become about escaping, it’s time to make some big changes. Here’s a few things that will help you quit escaping from life and start living it.

1. Remember where happiness comes from
Happiness never comes from external things like money, cars, jobs, houses, or status. They just help us escape. True happiness comes from inside you and you can generate it any time you want. Many brave people have figured out how to generate happiness in the most difficult situations. No matter how difficult your situation is, someone has found a way to be happy in an even harder situation.

2. Cut off one of your escapes.
Start with one. Pick one of the things you frequently use to escape. In all likelihood, you rely on a few of the example escapes listed above. Choose one to eliminate for 30 days. Completely give it up for 30 days. It’s one less escape you have available to you each day.

The something really cool happens. You free up the time you previously spent on that escape. Now you get to do something else with it.

3. Fill that time with something that makes your life better.
When you freed up that time, you created a great opportunity. Don’t blow it. Fill that time with something that makes your life better. Maybe that’s studying about a new topic, doing more of a favorite hobby, spending more time with certain people, etc. The important thing is that you use that time to create a better life for yourself. Use that time to do something that will improve your life in some way.

Life is all we’ve got. Don’t escape from it, live it.

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When Things Don’t Go How You Expect

This may come as a huge surprise to you (probably not), but it is actually quite common here on planet earth for things to not work out exactly as you would like them to. I know. It’s shocking and concerning, but that is indeed how it works.

I doubt any rational adult would argue with that. Then why do we humans (I’m as guilty as anyone) get so surprised and upset when things don’t go how we expect? It’s just like the theoretical concept of “fairness.” We all know it doesn’t exist in the known universe. Yet we get really upset when things aren’t fair. But that’s another topic, let’s get back to things not working out how you expect.

We love control. We love to know exactly how things are going to work out and what will happen after each twist and turn. So, when things don’t go as we expect, we get frustrated, upset, and mad. This constant cycle imprisons you in a life of frustration, upset and anger. Why do we keep this up?

The only alternative is to be constantly aware of the reality that most things aren’t going to turn out how you expect. That doesn’t have to be a sad, depressing idea, it can be empowering if you think of it in the right way.

Think of everything you do as an experiment. When scientists do experiments, like mixing two chemicals to see what happens, they have a theory about what will happen, but they aren’t positive. They do the experiment to find out what will happen when they mix those two chemicals.

Suppose you approached everything in life this way? Imagine if, every time you do something, you approached it as an experiment. Something you are going to try out to see what happens.

Then how would you feel if it didn’t work out the way you expect it to? If you approach it as an experiment, you’ll find the unexpected result to be interesting instead of frustrating.

Instead of being frustrated, you’ll be interested to understand why you got the result you got, which means you’ll dig in and try to understand it better. And therefor you’ll learn from it. This will make your next “experiment” more fruitful because you’ll go into it with more information and a better understanding of the entire situation because you’ve learned from the previous experiment.

This works for everything. It works for asking people out on dates, it works in perfecting a sport or hobby and it works in business. It doesn’t matter what it is, the technique works. And it’s not rocket science.

Imagine how smart, effective, and eventually successful you would quickly become if you used this approach for everything you do in life?

Give it a shot. It’s pretty amazing. Bonus: It eliminates frustration too.

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How to Build Relationships

I don’t think anything in life matters more than the relationships we have with other people. Whether it’s friends, family or business relationships, the people who are there for us and who we are there for are the most important people in our lives.

As you build an authentic business that fits you and your personality, the lines between your business and personal life becomes increasingly blurred. That’s not a bad thing. The alternative is to have a business or a job that’s so unauthentic that you need to “wall it off” from the parts of your life that are important to you.

The best business relationships usually turn into good friendships. This is why it’s a wonderful thing to build strong, mutually beneficial business relationships.

Here’s how:

1. Decide who you want to be in relationship with.
When you work for someone else, you’re basically stuck with the people you work with. You don’t get to decide who you work with and, like it or not, you have to make it work. Starting your own business is a lot of work and if you don’t build relationships with people you like and who you want to do business with, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of entrepreneurship.

Get really clear on the type of people you want to work with. Be totally OK with not having business or other relationships with people you don’t gel with.

2. Get to know them.
Figure these folks out. Get to know them intimately. What’s important to them? What do they really want out of life? Know as much as you can about them. And know how you can help them. Help them.

You can’t expect to get paid for it. At least not right away. But that’s ok; that comes later. And when you’re doing something you love and is genuine to who you are, you won’t mind doing the work and not getting paid for it. Doing work that you don’t get directly paid for is a huge part of entrepreneurship and that’s why it’s critical to be doing something you enjoy and is a fit for you.

3. Let them know what you offer
Now it’s time to be really clear about what you CAN do in exchange for money. Folks tend to fall into two traps here. They either:

a. Try to sell too soon.
This is that guy or gal who forces their products or services on strangers and then wonders why nobody buys. Be sure to do #2 above first.

b. Don’t sell enough.
Many folks fall into the trap of working hard and successfully building relationships, but never go of the sale. Don’t be silly and do this. Be clear about what you offer for money and let folks know you offer it.

If they buy, that’s OK. If they don’t, that’s ok too. Don’t just build relationships because it’s good for business, build them because it’s the most important thing to do in life.

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How to Get Started

Sometimes the hardest thing about achieving any goal in life is simply getting started. Just taking the very first step can be very daunting, confusing and overwhelming.

But the fear and worry that it won’t work out usually stops folks. That’s a very legitimate concern, because the fact is, it’s probably not going to work out how you expect it to. It may not work out at all.

Nobody in the world who’s accomplished anything got it all right on the first try. And that’s not a bad thing; in fact it’s how this world works. You have to do things that don’t work, so you can figure out what does. The only way to figure out what does is to figure out first what doesn’t.

The information you get from taking that first step towards your goal will be extremely valuable, so let’s talk about how to take the first step.

1. Identify your first step

You might think you don’t know what your first step is, but you probably do. You’re probably worried about it not working out and that’s preventing you from taking the step. The exact step you take matters far less than actually taking the step.

We’ve already established that your first step is probably not going to go exactly as you’d like it to. So your best bet is to get it done as quickly as possible, take your learning from it and get on with it!

2. Do that thing

Whatever you identified as your first step — do it. This is pretty simple. There’s not a lot more to say. You have to do it knowing that you’re going to get some surprises, but also recognizing that you’ll learn from it.

3. Learn from it

The value that comes from taking this first step has nothing to do with how well or poorly it works. The value is the lessons you will learn from it. You will learn that next time you need to do it a little differently. Next time you’ll do it harder … or softer. You’ll do it more or you’ll do it less, you’ll use a different technique or you’ll do it with different people. Maybe you’ll make it a different color or a different price or perhaps you’ll discover that you should take a whole different path.

Either way, it’s fine. What you are doing, frustrating as it might seem, is exactly what you need to do right now.

I wish I knew a better way, but unfortunately, in all that we humans have learned, we have not found a way to ensure that your first crack at anything will go exactly as you would like it to. Take that first step so you can get the benefit of the lessons you learn from it as quickly as possible, so you can move on to achieving all your dreams.

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What It Really Takes to Be Successful

Everyone wants to be successful, but many people struggle to reach their goals. We tend to look in the wrong places and seek out the wrong things to help us move toward success.

The most common misconception about becoming successful is that you are lacking external things. You may falsely believe you are missing external things like knowledge, resources or money.

Those things are nice, but they won’t make you successful.

Success demands that you be the best person you can possibly can be. That means forgetting a whole bunch of what you’ve learned so far in your life. Our world is’t designed to help people become successful; it’s designed to help people survive. It doesn’t always succeed in that goal, but largely that’s the intent.

Begin by recognizing that you are one of over 7 billion people on the earth. You have ONE perspective — yours. There are over 7 billion others.

Your perspective (and the other 7 billion) come from your experiences, knowledge and environment. No two of the 7 billion people on this earth have the same perspective. It’s not even possible.

Here are some specific steps to change your perspective so you can be as successful as you want to be.

1. Accept that you might not be right
Start by getting over your ideas of right and wrong, good and bad and so forth. Your perspective is just one of many and it came from your experiences in life.

None of the other ideas or perspectives are better, worse, more right or more wrong than yours. We all think we’re right, but that’s just not how the world works.

Achieving things in this world requires a good understanding of how it actually works. You have to be able to lead people. You can’t do that if you’re stuck in false beliefs that you are right, someone else is wrong, or that the world is as simple as right and wrong.

2. Learn more perspectives
People rarely genuinely disagree. If you name any issue, everyone generally has roughly the same desired outcome. It’s the details that we usually disagree about.

Those different ideas come from our diverse perspectives. We have different ideas, believe different things and sometimes have different agendas. But when we actually listen and understand each other, we gain something much better than just being right, we get a better understanding of the world and our fellow human beings.

When we gain that deeper understanding, we find common ground. It’s from that common ground that we can build new things. We can’t build on our differences, but we can build great things on our shared beliefs.

So go get more different perspectives. These can be found easily in books, documentaries, YouTube videos and many other sources. Learn lots about things that are way different than anything you’ve experienced. It makes you better.

3. Do something different
You can study, learn, understand and so on, but none of it matters until you begin to actually act differently. There’s not much more to say on that. Just act differently and get different results.

Let’s leave right and wrong and myopic perspectives to the politicians while we get back to making the world a better place.

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What to Do When You’re Feeling Down

When you’re working towards a life of fulfillment, you’re going to hit roadblocks. Sometimes things won’t go the way you want them to and you’ll get down.

It happens to everyone. Successful people, however, know how to deal with it. They know how to process the events that happen and the feelings that result in a healthy way so they can get on with things.

Every one of us has our own unique perspective that drives how we see the world. No perspective is right and no perspective is wrong, but they are all very different.

When you look at your own situation, be very aware of the simple fact that you are seeing it through your perspective. And that perspective is only one of a great many that exist.

Since they are all different and none of them are right or wrong, you can simply (but not necessarily easily) find a different one. And since there are an infinite number of different perspectives, you may as well find one that suits you.

Here’s how to change your perspective when you are feeling down.

1. Identify your current perspective
Don’t spend a lot of time on this one. It’s important to understand what your perspective is, but it’s also important not to spend too much time dwelling on it. So, just take a minute and write a bit about your situation and what is bad about it. Just get it down on paper in a paragraph or two.

2. Find a new perspective
Figure out a way that this situation is good. Figure out how it could possibly benefit you. What positive could possibly come of it? What opportunities could arise from it?

Yes, I know this is really hard — especially when you are down. But, it’s critical. This is the moment at which you’ll make a decision that will determine whether you rise to great heights or remain where you are.

So, I’ll give you a few hints.

a) Whatever’s got you down is going to make you stronger. Being successful depends on becoming the best person you can possibly be. And adversity builds you into a stronger person.

b) Loss creates opportunity. Much of what gets folks down is related to loss or disappointment. As difficult as it may be, loss always makes room for new opportunities. So think about the opportunities that could be opening up for you.

You have to get creative with this. It’s never easy, but you can indeed find a new and positive way to view your current situation.

3. Take action
Everyone posts motivational images on Facebook and Pinterest and people like them and share them. That’s all great, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t take action. This is where you have to do something.

Now that you have a new positive perspective, take some action on it. Do something that moves you in the right direction, given your new perspective. I know it’s not easy, but it’s the only way to move forward in the direction you want to go.

Use these steps to get you out of your funk and do the big, great things that will take you to where you want to go.

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What to Do When You Feel Stuck

Often, when you are trying to accomplish something, you get the feeling of being stuck. It’s like you can’t figure out what to do next.

I chose the word “feel” on purpose. You aren’t really stuck, you just feel that way. Folks who accomplish big things learn how to get past these feelings so they can move forward. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

You aren’t really “stuck”, you’re probably just fearful or overwhelmed. You see so many things you must do to accomplish your goal, but you’re not looking at the most important thing: the very next step. Naturally, even when you identify that next step, you are afraid it may not be the right step or that it won’t work out as you’d like it to.

But all you have to focus on is that very next step. You might also be worried that that very next step won’t work; worried that you might fail.

Here’s how to get past the worry and overwhelm that’s causing you to feel stuck.

1. Figure out your next step
You don’t actually have to figure this out; you probably already know what it is. You don’t need a six-month, twelve-month, or five-year plan right now, you just need to know what to do right now. Maybe it’s making a simple phone call, sending an email or buying some tool or supply.

That thing is simple and you know what it is. Forget about all the complexity you are creating and just get clear on what that thing is so you can move on to step two.

2. Do that thing
Now do whatever you decided to do in step one. It is that simple. But you might be thinking it’s not simple. It may seem more complex, but it’s not. You’re hesitating to do that thing because you are worried it’s not the right thing to do. Or maybe you are worried it won’t work out like you want it to. You are worried you will fail.

You may fail. In fact, it’s very likely that it will not work out exactly as you expected it to. That’s OK. People who have already accomplished what you are working to accomplish didn’t have any magical powers, information or anything else that you don’t have.

The thing that made them successful was that when things didn’t go how they expected, they accepted it, learned from it and moved on. Most importantly: They DID the next thing.

3. Learn from that thing
Whatever happened when you took that step happened. Now it’s your task to figure out how to proceed next. This is where you make or break your future.

If it went as you expected, that’s fine. You’ve taken one small step forward. If it didn’t work out as you expected, you are faced with a great opportunity: now you get to learn the lesson you needed to learn and move forward with that new information.

When things go as you expect them to that’s fine, but when they don’t, you get two things that are way better:

A) You get more information about how to proceed next.

B) You get resilience.

Resilience is the most valuable life skill you will ever attain. So, go out and get yourself some of it.

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How to Trust Your Gut

There’s two types of intelligence. First there’s the facts and figures, pros and cons and all the logical stuff that we usually focus on. That’s all pretty straightforward and most folks know how to access it and use it.

The other type is bigger, deeper and much more important. It’s all the knowledge, experience and intelligence you’ve attained throughout your life and it’s not as easy to access. And there is a lot more of it. Some call it intuition, instincts or feelings while others believe it comes from a higher power.

If you want to be the best person you can possibly be, you can’t rely on the facts and figures, you’ve got to use the full intelligence you have available to you.

First off, know what you want out of life. Know who you want to be, what you want to do, who you want to help — know the person you want to be. Don’t worry if you don’t have an exact picture, you don’t need to know all the details. Just understand the major stuff.

This big vision you have for yourself drives everything. When you know what that is, your “gut” will guide you to it. It’s too big and there’s too much involved to use surface facts and figures to get there. That’s why you have to train yourself to understand what your gut is telling you.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Meditate regularly
What does meditation have to do with trusting your gut? It trains you to get calm and find a peaceful place from which you can access this greater level of intelligence. Through regular meditative practice, you’ll be able to instantly calm and center yourself so you can draw upon the infinite wisdom you have access to. Do it every single day for a set period of time. You won’t see results the first time, or maybe not even the 50th time, but you are training yourself to be able to listen to what your gut is telling you.

2. Get quiet and listen
Try this right now. Think of a decision you need to make. Are you contemplating moving to a different city, leaving a relationship, changing jobs? Think of a yes/no question. Nothing complicated. Formulate the question in your head.

Now sit in a quiet place with no distractions. Take a moment to relax and settle into a comfortable position. With the simple question on your mind, slowly inhale, then exhale.

If you were calm and focused, a yes or a no came into your head. If you didn’t catch it, try it again. Keep trying if you didn’t get an answer.

3. Do it
The answer you got will lead you down the path to being the best person you can be. The answer you get won’t always be the one you like or the easiest one, and it may not lead you where you think you are going, but it will always be the one that is the most genuine to who you really are.

This takes practice. It requires a regular meditation practice and you have to be open to receiving (and acting on) answers that you may not understand right away. But then again, becoming your best self isn’t supposed to be easy.

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