On Flying Solo…

Photo republished courtesy of Dean Petersen ©2018 all rights reserved. Check out his work at: @deanventures

Picture this:

You have a brilliant idea! You’re inspired to do something tangible to bring it to life. You excitedly call someone to bounce the idea, hoping for some cheerleading. They offer you a few “mhm” and “yeah” as you explain what you are setting out to do. You finish speaking and eagerly wait for the response. When it comes, it sounds something like:

“I mean, sure, everyone could do that if they could afford risking the money.”

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?”

“Why do you want to do that? You have it better than all of us! Just be grateful.”

“Well. Sounds interesting. Hopefully you’ll actually stick to it.”

“You don’t need more work!”

“That’s a great idea! I’m going to do it too. No harm in a little competition between friends, right?” Smirk.

“How are you always in dream land? I’m too busy keeping my feet on the ground.”

“Yeah, yeah. You and your big ideas. You’re always lucky, so I don’t need to wish you good luck.”

Sound familiar?

Each of us bears his/her own collection of dismissive, negative, and discouraging statements from friends and family. Over time, we carry more and more of them, and they become grey clouds hanging over our future adventures. Everything from taking a new job to changing up our nutritional menu is contested by people around us. Now, don’t go trying something really crazy, like moving across the world or going back to school to become a doctor.

Eventually, we start to doubt what it is we really want, and what we can really achieve. Whose voice is in your head telling you that “it can’t be done”? 9 times out of 10, it’s somebody else’s.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve learned something extremely valuable which I only put into effect recently. When trying to achieve a goal, there is nothing more powerful than keeping it secret. Being very selective about who we divulge personal information to is fundamental to our success, because we are easily manipulated creatures. No matter your confidence or faith in your idea, it requires protecting while it’s still a budding thought so that you can focus all your efforts on bringing it to life, without risking being swayed by others.

People can be risk averse self-doubters. Often, when standing in front of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, I’ve overheard tourists say things like “it’s impossible!” Even while cranking their necks back 90 degrees to look at the peak of the tallest building in the world, they express disbelief. If people have this reaction to what is already there and has already been achieved, why entrust your dreams to them?

People will tell you to fight for your dreams and be deterred by no-one. They will throw cliche quotes at you like a hail storm. That is, until you have an idea. It is only after the idea is born that the same people who once wrote you soliloquies about reaching for the moon suddenly become doubters.

When you set your mind to something, wisely and carefully select who you let in. If you cannot think of someone who has already proven unfailing confidence and support, someone whose criticism only serves the purpose of elevating, rather than destroying, your ideas – fly solo.

There will come a time when the idea has manifested powerfully enough that you can share it without leaving it vulnerable in destructive hands. Even then, be on guard. Remember that Burj Khalifa has an elevator that swiftly and smoothly moves up 148 floors in 60 seconds without a single hiccup, and that people make it all the way to the top and still don’t have the capacity to believe that it can be real.

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

On Resolving Pain…

My readers know that I am an advocate for making the most of the present moment. I am always writing about the importance of intention and mindfulness when making decisions about how we live, think, speak, and feel. For the most part, I try to live my own life in this way, constantly checking myself in to the present.

The truth is, however, that fully immersing oneself in the present moment does not mean that the past can remain ignored. We are all products of our personal past, and of our ancestral past. Our histories are boundless and they extend well beyond our own life experience. Dissociating from our past can be incredibly dangerous because, one way or another, the pain bubbles back up.

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On the Shoulders of Trees I Stood…

Do you have a favourite tree?

People tend to look at me funny when I ask them this question. Surprisingly, while just about anyone can pick out a favourite flower, I haven’t met too many that have an attachment to a tree.

My memories are full of trees. Perhaps this speaks to my observant nature, but I think there’s a little more to it. For those of us who have lost their motherland, there are few reminders of home around the world, so we rely on the few things that can consistently be found in foreign lands.

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On Intention…

In some Arabic cultures, when someone gets something they have been hoping for, people say: “her intention was pure!” or “he must have pure will!” This signals to a deeply held cultural belief that the pure of heart will always be cared for by God. They do not receive miracles or luck by accident, but rather, due to their own goodness.

Intention isn’t everything… but it certainly plays a big role in shaping the lives we build for ourselves, as it feeds our actions. In pursuit of good friends and fun company, one will find himself out of luck if he himself is neither friendly nor fun. In pursuit of wealth, one will find herself penniless when she exercises greed towards others. In pursuit of love, one stands alone and disheartened if his primary intention is to take from love, and not give back to it.

If we are aware of our negative intentions and recognize the consequences, we can put them in check and gradually practice intentions that are better aligned with the path of happiness. But, if we decide to excuse our negative intentions, we cannot hope that nobody will notice, because they will. We cannot escape our intentions; we might as well plaster neon signs on our foreheads that tell it like it is.

There will always be people out there who are better off, and worse off, than you are. Be genuinely happy for their successes. Be genuinely sad for their pain. Be genuinely afraid for them when they get sick. Be genuinely excited for them when they get that promotion. If you are not genuine, they will be able to tell, and you will have missed the point of this life entirely.

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On Anger…

The great Buddha said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Anger deteriorates the self and destroys the soul. It may happen gradually, over the course of a lifetime, but the effects are permanent and damaging as ever.

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On Cooking What We Eat…

When I think about the good moments I spent with my grandmothers and mom, there is always a string of memories attached to the meals we shared. It’s interesting how common it is for people to associate very good traditional food with their grandmothers and mothers. Everyone seems to be especially nostalgic nowadays, in the prime of fast food and quick bites. Even the healthiest among us are often reaching for a low fat, low carb, high protein packaged donut… that expires in 2025. For lack of a better word… yuck.

The food we eat today endures some major struggles. The meat does not go from the farmer’s hand to the butcher’s to our kitchens anymore. By the time something reaches your dinner table, hundreds of people and machines have touched it, and it has probably travelled a long distance. For the conscientious individuals who care about what they put in their mouths, the last step of the process, cooking, is the first place to start regaining control.

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On Big Breaks…

Have you considered that, like everything else, money is energy? It is said that more money makes a person more of what s/he already is. If you come into significant wealth, you will see your values and thoughts reflected even more powerfully in your actions.

I often hear people say things like: “His nouveau-riche status spoiled him!” Or “She got a taste of money and then went after her siblings for a bigger chunk!” But, if you dig a little deeper, you will discover that he was always a little lazy, and she was always a little selfish.

Money is energy, and it makes you more of what you already are. This is why, before seeking it, we must be intentional about who we choose to be and what we value. Building wealth is not a one-shot deal, even for those who are blessed with a one-shot “win” or gift.

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