Month: September 2007

Discard Your Life And Find The Real You

What is the real you?  What is it that makes up the true you, what belongs to you and only you?  What do you get when you see past the surface, past the anger and fear, “love” and betrayal, hurt, pain, and even agony?  The real you… the deep you, the you that is beyond what the surface you can even imagine.

When you are born, you have no concept of your “self”.  As you grow older, you build up a structure, a belief system, a framework of lenses and mental maps through which you see the world.  You are told, and you believe, that this framework is you.  The framework gets covered with experiences and emotions, and even the spaces between the beams of the support structure get filled up eventually.  You go on about your life with the belief that this giant amalgamation is you.

Everyone else around you believes this, too.  Only what they think of as you isn’t even the structure you have built up… it’s only the surface of that structure, a surface that changes constantly as new experiences, new emotions, and new everything else piles up, sometimes stripping off pieces of the old coverings, but more often simply piling over them, making them part of the inside, and making that structure ever harder to discard.

As you go about, identifying more and more with this framework that you’ve built, some of it intentional construction, most of it not, you build walls, walling off this portion from that portion.  You do this to protect yourself, to keep yourself from getting hurt, but that’s not what they do, it’s only what you fool yourself into believing they do.  Because those walls don’t keep things out, they keep things in.

That’s right… you’re building yourself a prison.  A prison inside a structure that is built of the giant ball of stuff that you call your life.  And you not only build this prison, you voluntarily stick yourself inside of it, trapping yourself in with all the pain and injuries that you have suffered over the years.  And to top it off, the prison that you build, and trap yourself inside, can’t ever even fulfill the purpose for which you supposedly built it… it can’t even keep out new pain!

That’s right… you build up this structure of falsehoods, lies told to yourself, walling yourself in to keep out the pain, and it doesn’t even work.  The walls only function in one direction… they hold things in.  They hold you in… they limit you to far, far below your true abilities.  They keep the pain that you have experienced close to you, so that it can continually injure you and prevent you from healing.  What do you do when the pain builds, when it gets harder and harder to deal with?  You build more walls, and build the walls you have higher!

The walls that you build for yourself are a prison… but they’re also an illusion.  They are part of the framework that you have built up, an integral part as a matter of fact.  But here’s the thing:  that framework isn’t you.

That’s right, all those lenses and perceptions and mental maps, all those experiences and emotions, those hatreds and angers and fears… they aren’t you.  They’re a tiny little pimple that you’ve built up on the surface of the real you.  All that stuff that you’re trying to protect, the part that hurts, the part that knows pain and fear and suffering… that is only the very smallest fraction of you.  It’s like looking at a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, and calling that the ocean.

The real you is vast.  It is deep, and strong, and powerful.  It cannot be hurt by the vagaries of this life, because it is only the tiniest fraction of it that is involved with this life.  Your physical presence, and the structure that you have built up, are merely the tiny portion of it paying attention to what you perceive as your whole life.  And when you identify yourself as that tiny portion, you are giving up the vastness of the real you, like identifying yourself as your pinky.

Your walls you have created are illusions, but they are self-maintained illusions, given the power that you are drawing through your connection to the real you.  Want evidence that what I’m saying is right?  It’s very easy to obtain… all you have to do is let down one, just one, of your walls.  You will immediately feel closer to that vastness that is the real you.  And with each wall that you release, you will find yourself closer to that reality.

When you get close, you may be scared by the openness, the sheer open expanse that you feel  drawing nearer.  After all, for all of your life that you can remember, you have lived inside your walls.  You may never have even had a moment’s clarity, an opening of the mind’s eye to see the vastness around you.  If you HAVE had one of those moments, you may be even more scared, because you have an inkling of what it’s like.

It’s not an empty vastness, though… you aren’t alone.  In fact, when you reach that vastness, you’ll find that you are connected to everyone and everything else, with a deepness of connection that the very word connection doesn’t seem strong enough to convey the reality of what you feel.  You are a part of everything, and everything is a part of you.

It’s sometimes hard to keep this connection to the real you… it’s easy to forget and focus back on the surface structure, identifying with that structure that you’ve built up.  Once you’ve let the feeling go long enough, in fact, it’s hard to remember what it was like… until something triggers it again, and then it all comes rushing back.

There is an old movie called Dune.  They made a newer version of it, too, but I’m talking about the original.  In it, there is a phrase that is repeated a few times:  “The sleeper must awaken.”  I have always identified with this phrase… I’ve always felt like it meant something to me, something more.  I’ve felt like there was something bigger slumbering inside me.

Lately, as I have read, and learned, and written, and looked inside of me, my awareness has gradually expanded, and the phrase has changed, in my mind, to “The sleeper is awakening.”  I felt that bigger thing inside of me stirring from its slumber, starting to uncoil.

Tonight, as I was talking to my wife to help her relax, something clicked.  Sometimes the greatest words of wisdom come when the conscious mind gets the hell out of the way and lets things flow from far deeper inside.  Suddenly, that thing that had slowly been awakening came aware.  The sleeper has awoken.

This connection, this deeper you, is your connection to God, to the awareness that created, and contains, and in a way is, the universe.  But it is being “consciously” (too small a term, I think) aware of that connection, not in some sort of vague “God created the Heavens and the Earth” kind of way.  It is an intimate and strong connection, a direct connection.  It is deep, wordless communication flowing back and forth, much of which, to this point at least, seems to be more of an “I am here” message and an “I know” response flowing from each direction.

This vastness is inside each of us… in fact, it IS each of us.  We are not the limited lives reflected in the world we live in, we are not even the conscious part of our minds… we are far more than that.  But in order to find our true selves, we must first give up the structure that have built up, that we have defined as “us”… and that’s probably the hardest thing in the world to do.  That last wall, the one that separates us from our true selves, the one that is the foundation of support for our whole framework of our lives, is really, really hard to let go.  It is giving up the “you” that you have always known, for a great unknown.

Do not be afraid.  The whole world will change before your eyes, leaving nothing unaltered.  Once you let go of that last wall, and the fear, there will be no doubt, however.

It’s worth it.

Two Ways To Make Yourself Smarter Through Writing

Would you like to both appear, and actually be, smarter?  There are many techniques out there that can help you to learn this or that easier, or improve your memory, but it’s not quite so common to find techniques that allow you to increase your general ability to acquire and apply knowledge across the board.

If you’re looking for such a way, or weren’t particularly looking, but you’re interested now that I caught your attention, continue reading this article.  I have two such methods for you that both involve writing.  Not only will they both help you to acquire, categorize, and interconnect knowledge, but because they involve writing, they will also improve your vocabulary (especially if you make that one of your goals while applying the techniques), which makes you sound (appear) smarter.

Alright, so let’s get started… here is the first way to make yourself smarter:

Write About A Random Topic

Our first technique is to pick, or even better, have someone else pick for you, a random topic and write at least a page about it.  If you want to get the most out of this method, write three to five pages about the topic.  Write it as if you were writing it for someone else to read, not just for yourself, and it’s even better if you do let someone else read it, as they can give you feedback to improve your writing.  It can be whatever kind of writing you want… you can explain the topic, research it, introduce it, write fiction about it… whatever you want, they all work.

It doesn’t really matter whether you know anything about the topic or not.  If you do know something about the topic, then writing will help you to refine your knowledge and make it more concrete and easy to call to your conscious mind.  If you write about a topic that you don’t know much about, you will obviously have to learn something about it in order to write about it.

As you write more about things you know, you are practicing your skills of making information you already have usable and easy to recall.  This makes it easier and easier to do this with any other topics as well… it’s a general skill that you learn, not just applicable to the specific topics that you write about.

When you write about things you don’t know you practice you skills involved in learning, categorizing, and applying new knowledge.  Again, as above, this is a general skill which will improve your ability to do these three things with any new knowledge, not just a specific topic, and not even just when it comes to writing.

So, now on to the second way to make yourself smarter:

Connect Two Unrelated Topics

Our second technique is slightly more complicated, and really puts your mind to work.  It works by picking two apparently unrelated topics, and finding a way to relate them.  This can be anything… you can pick two random nouns from the dictionary, or as above, have someone else pick the two things for you.  In fact, if you’re really feeling adventurous, and wanting to push the envelope on this method, you can use more than two topics… but don’t use too many, or the relations you draw between the topics lose their depth.

As above, this works best if you write it as if you were writing it for someone else, and actually allowing someone else to read it can result in feedback that improves your writing.  It can also be any type of writing you want, but in this method you really need to write more than one page to get the full benefit.  You can use up one page just introducing the two subjects, and you really want to give the connection between them some depth, as this is what makes this technique work.

This second technique teaches you how to see connections between two seemingly unrelated things.  This is vital to pushing your intelligence to higher levels… being able to see the relationships between things where it’s not obvious is what separates the smart people from the average people.  It helps you to see more and more patterns in the world around you, and recognizing these patterns quickly and usefully is what intelligence is all about.  Everything in the world, the universe, is related… there is a pattern that contains any two subjects, and of course there is the pattern that IS the universe.

Your ability and skills in the area of recognizing patterns will be stretched farther (and thus grow more) as the topics you use are less related.  That means that if your two topics are monkeys and bananas, you’re not stretching much, and won’t get much.  If you relate bananas and an allen wrench, that might be a bit more of a stretch, and thus you gain more.

Again, fictional stories also work for training these skills, though you might not get the added benefit of learning more about the topics as you would if you did another form of writing.

Shared Benefits

There’s another useful thing that you can get out of using these techniques… if you have someone else who is reading your results, you are likely to be helping them improve their intelligence, as well.  Their vocabulary should be expanding as yours does, and they, too, get to see connections between things they hadn’t previously recognized as being related.  Their benefits will be smaller than yours, because you are having to find those connections, while they are having them shown to them, but they will still benefit.

Make Either Technique More Effective

There are a few things that can make both techniques more effective.  One of these things is to have someone else suggest your topics.  This keeps you from going easy on yourself when you’re feeling less motivated, and is likely to push you even more outside of your comfort zone.  Another one is to have someone else, or several someone else’s, read your end product.  At least one of these people is likely to be the one who suggested the topics, but it’s always good to include someone else, because they won’t have any preconceptions based on knowing before reading what the topics were.

Another thing that makes both techniques more effective is to do it with a partner and suggest topics to each other, with a set time to finish your writing.  After that time, which should be as short as possible without causing undue stress on either of you, you should give each other what you wrote, read the other person’s writing, and then talk about it.  This gives you added motivation to keep it up, added benefits from reading the other person’s writing, and can make it more fun, as your suggestions for topics can mean something to you, and even if they don’t before you write about them, they may have added meaning for both of you afterwards.


So… there you go.  Want to be smarter, and make it apparent to other people as well?  Practice one, or better yet both, of the techniques above.  Make it work even better by finding a partner, or even a network (ie more than just you and one other person).  Speaking of which, I’m interested in finding a partner or network for doing this myself… anyone interested?

The Truth Behind Falling – And Being – In Love

There is nothing like falling in love.  Your whole self, body, heart, and mind, yearns for the person you are in love with.  You want to be with them all the time, you wonder what they’re doing or what they’re thinking when you are not around them, and the whole world just seems like a better place.  There’s only one problem.

You can’t, and won’t, be falling in love forever.  At some point, if you want to keep the relationship, you have to go from falling in love to being in love.  If you’re already at that point, you might want to read The Secret Killer Of Relationships or The Very SImple Secret To A Happy Marriage.

Falling In Love

Falling in love is the beginning (and can sometimes re-occur later, but I’ll get to that)… it’s that place where the other person, your significant other, can do no wrong.  Everything about them is beautiful, fascinating, and you can’t get enough of them.  Any time your focus is not fully on something specific, your thoughts drift to the newly significant other in your life.

At this point, everything is new… every day together brings new revelations, new learning, which make you feel like you’re getting more and more “inside” the other person.  You let each other in deeper than the surface, and there is always a constant feeling of growing closer, an observable closing of the mental and emotional distance between the two of you.

That is a huge part of the greatness of falling in love… getting closer at a visible rate.  It’s also part of why it can’t last forever.  Eventually you are close enough that even as you grow closer, it’s not as visible, and so it feels like you have stalled, or even like you are growing apart.  When you are (bad, but understandable, analogy coming up) a mile apart, and you get 10% closer, that’s a huge distance.  When you are a foot apart, and you get 10% closer… that’s a lot harder to see.

So does this mean that you have reached that point where you love each other, but you are no longer “in” love?

No…  when you are growing closer at a very visible rate, that’s the “falling” part of falling in love.  When you are already close, and moving closer by inches (or even fractions of an inch, eventually), that’s when it changes to being in love.  It doesn’t mean you’re no longer in love, it just means that seeing results of your efforts, where you see the relationship grow, is not as easy, and so you need to find other sources of motivation as well.

Being In Love

Being in love is where it starts taking conscious involvement to keep the “in love” part without the falling.  Now, instead of falling in love, you need to start being in love.  You will have to go out of your way to keep yourself in your partner’s thoughts (and make sure that they stay in yours!).  If you don’t go out of your way, it won’t mean anything.

What does it mean to “go out of your way”?  Going out of your way can mean different things to different people, but the important thing is that you are devoting the two things that you can’t possibly acquire more of to them.  What two things?  Time and attention… you can’t get more time and you have only a limited amount of attention to invest during the time you do have.  Giving time and attention, therefore, is the universally recognized way to convey someone’s (or something’s) importance to you.

When you are falling in love, and everything is new, it’s easy to devote an enormous amount of attention (and with it time) to your significant other.  New things always have a draw on our attention… it’s part of being human, and part of our survival instinct (you have to determine whether or not something new is a threat, after all).  That’s why it’s also easier to stick with a new diet, or a new workout, or why you may find you love a new dish or a new restaurant.  Once something (or in our case, someone) become familiar, however, it requires a conscious decision to dedicate mental energy (attention) to that thing (or, as I said, person).

When you combine that advantage of newness drawing our attention with the visibly growing closeness of the relationship, it makes giving more attention to the relationship a no-brainer.  It doesn’t require much in the way of conscious effort, because not only is your subconscious driving you to make sure this “new” thing is not a threat, but the rewards are blindingly obvious.

Once you get to the point of obviously diminishing returns, however, you start to notice that the same amount of effort doesn’t move you the same amount closer.  At the same time, the subconscious drive to categorize anything new as “threat” or “non-threat” fades away, leaving you with much less “drive” to devote attention to the relationship.  Other things start to claim your attention, drawing it away from your significant other.

I mentioned earlier that your partner needs you to give two things in order to keep being in love, as opposed to just loving each other (the difference between soul mates and good friends).  One was time, the other attention.  Out of the two of these, time is the easiest to give, attention the most important.

Attention Is Money

Despite the phrase above, attention is far more important than money.  Attention is the currency by which you show how much you value something.  You’ve heard the saying “time is money” but time without attention means nothing.  Whatever it is that you do, it’s highly unlikely that they truly pay you for your time… they really pay for your attention across time.  They pay you to write, to watch a security monitor, to serve burgers… whatever it is, they may pay you for the hours you do it, but if you don’t “do it”, whatever it is, you don’t get paid.

This applies to relationships, too.  Giving time without attention is sort of like leaving a seventeen cent tip at a restaurant… it lets the other person know that you didn’t forget, you just didn’t think they were worthy of more.  It’s insulting, whether done consciously, as with the tip, or subconsciously, as with spending time with your significant other without giving them your full attention.

When you give someone time, without attention, you are telling them that they are low on your priority list.  It doesn’t matter whether you intend for them to be or not… you are showing them, with your actions, that they are.  You can show someone that they have your attention in many ways… communication is an extremely important one, but there is also buying them something (probably the least effective way), making them something (the more it reflects the fact that it is something YOU created, the better), or doing something with them (ie going out to dinner and/or a movie).

All of the ways listed above can show your attention, but if you don’t show your mental involvement, show that you were thinking of them specifically, the value drops.  For instance, when you buy something for your significant other, if you don’t take the time to buy something that they specifically like (for instance buying roses when your wife prefers tulips), it loses some of its value… that doesn’t mean it has no value, just less.  The same goes for making them something… if you don’t show that you were thinking about them when you made it, it loses some value.  If you do something with them, and keep taking phone calls, it takes away some of the value.

Communication is a special case.  By the very act of communicating, you are giving them some fraction of your attention.  Different forms of communication show different amounts of attention, and also show how much of your attention the other person has to different degrees.  Email, for instance, doesn’t require much attention, or show how much attention the other person has, unless it’s a long and involved email, which could STILL have been written across time, and thus be less of your attention.  Instant messaging, on the other hand, still doesn’t require a lot of attention, but shows how much of your attention the other person has a little better, because they can see how long you take to respond.  Voice communication (ie a phone call) is better yet, as it requires more attention, and they can hear in your voice how much of your attention they have.  An in-person meeting provides them with the most attention, and lets them read your body language as well to determine how much of your current attention they have.

The Difference

What it boils down to, then, is that the difference between falling in love and being in love is that you can’t fall forever.  Eventually you have to move from falling in love to being in love, from the easy part to the part which requires your conscious effort.  It IS worth that effort, though… being in love still moves you closer, and still builds your relationship and love higher.  It just exchanges speed for depth… it goes back and fills in all the little chinks that falling in love passed over.

You can also fall in love all over again.  This usually happens when you let your partner slide from your attention for too long, and then something wakes you up to that fact.  All of a sudden what was old and familiar is new and different.  You close the gap that opened up between you, and now have that momentum to keep you going once you move back to being in love once again.

Again, falling in love is absolutely wonderful.  It is an amazing experience, and one you will likely always remember.  Being in love, though, has depth and duration that falling in love is not capable of producing.

Falling in love gets you to the starting line.  Being in love is the rest of the race.  And when you win at being in love, you win big.

How To Reclaim Your Life From Marketers

These days every waking moment is filled with someone trying to get you to do this, or buy that.  They use all kinds of sophisiticated techniques, developed in a lab, tested in focus groups, and spread across the world you live in.  You hear it on the radio when it goes off to wake you up, you see it on the billboards on the way to work, even on bumper stickers on the cars filling the freeway.  Then you get it again when you get home and turn on the TV to relax.

Some of them want you to do something to make them money… that’s probably the most common.  Some of them, however, do it because they think that whatever it is that they want you to do will make you healthier, like the anti-smoking campaigns.  Speaking of which, can’t they hire someone to make ads that aren’t so ineffective that they actually make me want to smoke, just because the ad is so bad (and I’ve never smoked in my life)?  They all have something in common, however… they all want you to align your life with their desires.

They break out all the tools to try to get you to do this.  They use guilt, they use peer pressure, they use sex… oh boy do they ever use sex.  All of it is designed to bypass your conscious mind’s ability to rationally evaluate a proposition.  They don’t want you to actually think about  what it is they’re pushing you to do, they want you to feel like youhave to do it.  If you want to get the hot girl, you have to go buy our product.  If you want your kids to love you, you have to go to our amusement park.  If you don’t want to die young, you have to stop smoking.

That last one at least has the benefit of being likely to be true, though my great-grandfather lived until he was 93 while smoking every day.  But true or not, they are trying to make you alter your life to follow their rules.  Now comes my turn, of course… what amI trying to get you to do?

Nothing… well, to be honest, I want you to subscribe to my website (it’s free!) .  But that’s not the point… I’m not going to try to push you to do it.  What I’m suggesting is that you break away from mindless consumerism (<– buzzwords), and reclaim your life.  Use your mind and actually think about why YOU should do whatever it is that someone is currently trying to get you to do.  Why is it that you, personally, would want to do whatever it is that they are pushing?

Here are five things that you might want to do when you feel like someone is trying to push you into something:

  1. Engage your mind

    The most powerful tool in your arsenal, and what marketers and salesmen try to avoid, your conscious mind is capable of actually making rational decisions and choosing not to buy the new Mega Ultra Thingamabob when you already have the Thingamabob Max, and wouldn’t use any of the features added to the new Mega Ultra, anyway.  Or even worse, to them… you can realize you have no need for a Thingamabob at all.

  2. Discard guilt as a motivator

    Guilt is a terrible motivator, and one abused by some marketers.  One of the worst ways they do this is through making you feel like you’re depriving your children if you don’t go here or buy them that.  If you feel guilty when it comes to your children… spend more time with them!  Buying them things and taking them to places where you still don’t pay attention to them isn’t going to help them.  Marketers also try to work the guilt factor when it comes to your significant other… the answer is still the same:  spend more time with them!  When it comes to guilt about yourself, like fitness/weight loss, just remember… you don’t need to look like or be like everyone else.  If you’re happy the way you are, who are they to tell you that you need to change?

  3. Realize it doesn’t really matter what everyone else is doing

    Why do you care what everyone else is doing?  What difference does it make to you?  Are you that eager to “fit in”, that you would go out of your way to do something just because other people are?  I know the answer for some people is “Yes”, but why?  You are your own person, living your own life, making your own decisions… you are who you choose to be.  Why would you choose to be someone else?

  4. Understand that no matter how many times they imply it, no product gets you hot girls (or sex)

    A HUGE number of products use the allure of sex to get you to do something or buy something.  They do this by showing you hot girls and their product over and over again.  Just remember… it doesn’t matter how many times they show the product with some hot girl… having it won’t get you that girl.  It’s highly unlikely to get you sex, even if you already have a significant other.  Unless, of course, you’re a guy, and you buy your significant other shoes and a purse… there’s something about those things that girls LOVE.

  5. Figure out if YOU really care, and if so, why

    Finally, take a look and see if you really care about what it is they are pushing.  For example, if a marketer is trying to use sex to sell something to you, and you’re already married (hopefully happily), do you really care even if it WOULD get you a hot girl?  You’re already taken, after all.  Do you really care if that new diet pill will make you lose a few pounds?  And I mean YOU… do you care for yourself, not because of the way other people look at you?  Does whatever it is they are trying to get you to do really reflect who you are?

These really apply even to conversation with your friends or coworkers, when they try to get you to do something, not just the now omni-present advertising.  Make your life your own… do things on your own terms, because you WANT to do it.  Reclaim your life and do things that reflect who you are and who you want to be, not what someone else thinks you should be.


The Eyes Of A Photographer

The world around us is filled with beauty.  There is some way to look at anything around you and see beauty in it.  Take, for example, the picture above… it’s a photograph of an ordinary tree with a few small flowers around its base.  You could easily pass by and not even notice it consciously… it is very ordinary.  Looked at from the right angle, though, it can produce a very interesting picture.

Life is like that… you can find beauty in the most ordinary of places.  There is, of course, the beauty of a truly happy smile… no matter whose face it is on.  There is also the passing beauty that arises when one object is perfectly juxtaposed over another, like a palm tree silhouetted against a sunset sky.

Seeing these things, the extraodinary beauty in the common sight, is what it means to have the eyes of a photographer.  You capture the moment, the precise frame, and store it, whether it’s on film, a memory card, or just in your mind.

You can have the eyes of a photographer when it comes to the non-visual parts of life, too.  You can find the beauty in a baby’s laughter, a mischievious glint in a young boy’s eyes, or the way your beloved touches you softly, looking into your eyes.  These are beautiful moments that you can capture, just like a photographer captures a wondrous sight.

You can record them on the film of your mind, to review later, when circumstances warrant.  You can bring them out to share with others, talking about the memories you have captured until the wee hours of the morning.  You can look at them in the quiet of your own mind when you are sad, to remind you of the beauty of life (though sadness can be beautiful, too).  Or you can simply have a quiet moment with your happy memories, reliving some of the best moments.

You don’t have to capture every nuance of the scene in sharp detail… sometimes blurring background elements is part of the beauty of the whole.  Look at the flower in the picture above, for instance… it is out of focus, blurred, but if it weren’t, it would change the whole picture.  It is often more useful to keep the important elements in sharp focus while allowing the rest to blur… it brings even more emphasis to the parts that are in focus, that you want to show.

So… where can you find beauty in the ordinary?  Find something today, whether it’s a picture, a sound, or a memory.  And if you like, you can share it with me… you can find my email by clicking my name at the top of this article.

One Man’s Change – Overcoming Depression

You may want to read A Potentially Fatal Mistake, the article that lead to this one.

When I was younger, I had great self-esteem, but horrible self-worth.  Just because I was confident in my abilities didn’t mean that I thought those abilities made me worth anything.  Other people had worth, and always took precedence over me, because I didn’t have any worth.

This low self-worth lead to me being depressed.  I was depressed to the point where I didn’t really feel emotions, didn’t really care about anything, for years… about 5 – 6years, actually.  Near the end, it was bad enough that I couldn’t sleep more than 45 minutes a night, I thought about dying every day, and finally was ready to go through with it.

I went to the hospital because of the side-effects of such low amounts of sleep (seeing things move when they weren’t, etc.).  While I was there, I finally told someone who could help me about how I felt, and they ended up sending me to another hospital, where they gave me Prozac and a medicine that helped me to sleep.

I was on Prozac for 30 days, and in that time it cleared out the depression enough that I could take a good look at myself and my life for the first time in a LONG time.  I realized that I was keeping myself depressed by my thought patterns… I would dwell on the things that made me feel bad, almost wallowing in the negativeness of it all.

So I made a decision.  I changed my thought patterns… when my thoughts would start to go down that path of negativity, I instantly stopped them.  I’m not saying that this is something that everyone can just instantly change, but that’s what I did.

It worked.  When those 30 days were over, I didn’t suffer from depression any more.  I was cured, and I no longer needed medicine to help me.  Removing the cycle of negative thoughts removed the negative emotion of depression, and freed many of my other emotions, to some degree.

A couple years later, I had depression come back… I had allowed myself to fall back into the cycle of negative thoughts.  Again, I needed a little help to clear my head, so I went to the doctor, told him of my previous experience, and asked for Prozac again.

It was the same story… I took it for 30 days,  and during those 30 days, I really thought about what was going on, and I realized that I had only taken care of half of my problem the first time.  I had dealt with the negative thought cycles, but not the problem behind them, which was my low self-worth.

What I found, with all that thinking, is that I had value intrinsically.  I was worth something because I was a person… it had nothing to do with my intelligence, my looks, what I had or hadn’t done.  I had worth simply because I was a person.

I had felt this way about others all along.  Everyone else had worth, regardless of who they were and what they had done.  Not only that, but they all had equal worth, though some of them had more importance to me, being people I liked or loved or both (yes, you can certainly love someone without liking them).  In other words, the worth had nothing to do with anything specific to the person, it was theirs by virtue of being a person.

And that value was mine, too.  I was also a person, and I also had worth simply because of this.  That revelation, along with fixing my negative thought patterns again, made my changes permanent this time.  Since that time, I have been depressed, yes, but it has lasted, at most, a few hours.

Now, different people may have different reasons for thinking that every person has value.  My “why” is that I believe that all of the universe is a part of God, including each person.  I believe that God’s universal awareness is present in, and perceives through, each person.  So, in essence, any time you deal with any person, you are dealing with God, also.

I think it would be awfully hard to believe in God, and believe you are dealing with Him, even if indirectly, and think that the person that He is in has no worth.  In fact, God’s worth is so overwhelming that any difference in an individual’s worth, if it exists, is insignificant in comparison with the worth that God being present in them adds… so every person is of equal worth.

In case you’re wondering, I am Christian, but I think my understanding and beliefs are considerably different than average… you can feel free to ask about them, if you want.

A Potentially Fatal Mistake

A potentially fatal mistake… scary headline, isn’t it?  It’s the truth though, and I speak of this from personal experience.  There is a mistake being perpetuated throughout the country, but particularly (from what I observe) in the education system that may be preventing us from saving lives.

What is this mistake?  It’s assuming and believing that it is low self-esteem that leads to depression, and that raising self-esteem can get rid of depression.

Low self-esteem doesn’t cause depression… low self-worth does.  And no, they are NOT the same thing.  Meriam-Webster defines self-esteem as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself”.  You can have self-confidence without self-worth… you can believe that you are good at something, without believing that it makes you worth anything.

I speak from personal experience.  I have never had a problem with self-confidence.  I have, and I may sound conceited here, always known that I was smart and at least average in the looks department.  Any mental endeavour tends to come easily for me (except remembering people’s names… one of these days I’m going to get around to fixing that).  So my self-confidence was fine.

The problem is that I didn’t think I was worth anything.  It didn’t matter if I was smart, even if I were a genius, the smartest person in the world, and it wouldn’t have mattered if I was the most handsome man to walk the earth.  I didn’t think that meant anything for me… it contributed nothing to my self-worth.

If you don’t believe that you are worth anything, then you don’t believe that you contribute anything to others, either.  You end up with little or no incentive to do anything, or even to live.  You can have untold amounts of confidence in your abilities, but without a belief that you are worth something, it doesn’t mean anything.

Low self-confidence is a good indicator of low self-worth.  It’s difficult to have anything other than low self-worth if you have no confidence in yourself.  That doesn’t mean that the opposite is true, however… you can’t assume that someone with high self-confidence has good self-worth, also.  That also means that raising someone’s self-esteem, as they put so much emphasis on today, doesn’t necessarily (and really, it’s not even all that LIKELY) raise the real key, their self-worth.

Since the true cause of depression here is low self-worth, not low self-esteem, the emphasis on self-esteem in the education system is misplaced.  What makes it even more misplaced, however, is that you can’t give someone self-esteem… they have to earn it.  And that’s why some people think that it’s self-esteem that’s the issue… what you do that you feel earns you self-esteem can, at the same time, help you to feel you have worth.  If you feel like you are doing something worthy of greater of self-esteem, you may feel that a little bit of that “worthy” rubs off on you.

Mistaking the cause of depression, and the cure, can lead to attempting the wrong treatment.  If you use the wrong treatment, you are unlikely to cure the problem… and with depression, that can be fatal.

By the way, I’m making a request with this article, as an experiment… if you like it please vote for it on Reddit (you can click here), in addition to whatever thing you normally use.

The Difference Between Intelligence And Education

There is much confusion in the world about education and intelligence.  Education is knowledge acquired in formal learning environments, such as school.  Intelligence is that actual ability to learn, to acquire, assimilate, and use new knowledge.

We are taught from the time we first enter school to judge someone’s intelligence by their education and their performance in such formal environments, also known as “book smarts”.  This is taught by words, actions, and attitudes, from both teachers and, later on, other students.  This concept that education equals intelligence is pushed on us so hard that few people ever get totally past it, even as they grow older.

You Can Be Highly Intelligent Without Being Highly Educated

Two of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met did very poorly in school.  One graduated, but just barely, and the other never finished high school.  When it comes to learning anything that they don’t associate with school, they learn fast… much, much faster than normal.

People of well above average intelligence sometimes do poorly in school due to boredom.  They sit there in classes designed for the lowest common denominator which don’t provide enough stimulation for them, so they become bored and stop paying attention.  They are distracted by the smallest things.  People of less intelligence, on the  other hand may have more of their mind occupied by the class, and thus be less prone to boredom.  They are also more likely to be aware that they need to work hard and study in order to do well, where smart people may feel that it’s easy and not study even when they DO need it.

You Can Be Highly Educated Without Being Highly Intelligent

On the other hand, I have met people with advanced degrees, including doctorates, who are of no more than average intelligence.  This is not a bad thing… they have shown that they are willing to put in the time and effort to master something that does not come easy to them.  It does also show, however, that higher education is not proof of higher intelligence.

There are also certainly professions which require extensive training (education), but not extremely high intelligence.  Your average family practictioner, for example, can operate just fine without needing to have a genius IQ.  He is following established procedures, prescribing standard medications for conditions diagnosed by standardized methods.  He needs the education to teach him those standards, but he is not creating the standards, just following them… so having average intelligence is not a big deal at all.


Education is not equal to intelligence, though it is often used as an external measure of it.  Certain types of education can give you a pretty good idea that someone is at least of certain minimum intelligence (you can’t actually be dumb and have an advanced degree in mathematics), but they don’t provide a measure of how far beyond that minimum they are, and a lack of education says absolutely nothing about their intelligence.

And, by the way, neither education nor intelligence prevent you from doing stupid things.  As far as I know, nothing in the world stops that.

8 Ways To Put Procrastination Off Until Tomorrow

Ah yes, the joys of procrastination… putting off all the hard or unpleasant work that you need to get done until later.  Then, when it all piles up until it’s over your head, you feel overwhelmed, wondering how you managed to end up so deep in a mess and how to escape.

Some people seem to have a natural tendency toward procrastination, always putting off until tomorrow what could be done today.  Others don’t seem to have that issue.  They don’t seem to have any problem just getting right to work on something, even when it’s very unpleasant to even think about.  Those of us who fall into the first category can, however, take steps to deal with our “problem”.

So, since you have a tendency to procrastinate (otherwise, why are you reading this article?), why not put it to work against itself?  Here’s some ways you can put off procrastinating until tomorrow.

  1. Write A Daily Task List (DTL)

    This one is relatively obvious, and you’ve probably heard it until you’re sick of it… but any list of ways to help put off procrastination would be incomplete without it.  All this requires is that each night you make a short list of things that need done (or worked on) the next day.  Once you have your list, there are many other things that you can do with it.

  2. Prioritize Your DTL By Importance

    The first thing you can do is prioritize the list you created in #1 by importance.  That way you can be sure that you will at least get the most important things accomplished, and you are likely to find that you get more than the first few things done, because you feel like you’ve gotten the important stuff out of the way and gotten something accomplished for the day.  You may even find yourself on a roll, getting things done left and right.

  3. Prioritize Your DTL By Difficulty

    Your next choice is to prioritize your list by difficulty, putting the most difficult tasks first.  This makes it so that you have the hardest work out of the way early, so that when you are more tired later in the day, you have only the easier tasks left, thus decreasing the chances that you will put a task off until tomorrow because it’s too hard to finish in the time that you have left.  Also, this particular method of prioritizing is even more likely to make you feel like you’re “on a roll” than #2.

  4. Prioritize Your DTL By Unpleasantness

    This may be very heavily related to #3, as difficulty is a major factor in how unpleasant a task is… but it’s not the ONLY factor.  This means of prioritization has the advantage that as you complete your tasks, the remaining tasks are more and more things that you actually want to do, not things that you have to do.  Also, like #3, you’re less likely to have that really unpleasant task at the end of the day that you put off until the next day because you don’t want to start it late.

  5. Reward Yourself When You Complete Tasks Early

    People have known for thousands of years that you train people, including yourself, through rewards and punishment.  You reward behavior which you want to increase, and punish behavior you want to decrease.  Since most procrastination has punishments built right in (like putting off paying your bills… not good for your credit, people come and shut off power, etc.), you are free to concentrate on the rewards side of the equation.  The three easiest ways to do that are trewarding yourself for completing unusually difficult tasks, rewarding yourself for completing a longer-term task early (ie something that you expect to take a week and you finish in three days), and rewarding yourself for completing your DTL.  Don’t make the rewards too easy, or out of proportion, though, or they won’t help you to train yourself… you have to feel like you earned whatever it is.

  6. Post Your DTL Where You Will See It Regularly

    This is especially good if you cross tasks off as you go, since it allows you to see your progress.  It can be motivational to see a list of ten tasks with seven of them already crossed off, especially if it’s still relatively early.  Even if you don’t have anything crossed off yet, having the list in a place where you see it can remind you of what you decided to do for the day if you get distracted.

    Just as a note, the phrasing in that last sentence is important… always look at your list as what you decided to do, not what you “should” do.  What you “should” do takes the element, the feeling, of choice out of it, which can leave you feeling resentful even if you made the list yourself.  It’s a list of tasks that you decided to do, not something forced on you by others.

  7. Be Accountable To Someone Else For Your DTL

    Just about everyone hates to feel stupid in front of someone else.  If you let someone else read your DTL, and share your progress on that list with them at the end of the day, it provides a little more pressure to actually get things done, so that you don’t feel like you have to stand there in front of them and tell them that you screwed around all day and didn’t get anything on your DTL done.  Don’t let doing this make you feel like you have to put more things on your DTL just to impress them, though… the list is still for you, and you don’t want to exhaust yourself trying to impress someone.

    If you’re in a relationship, your significant other is probably a good choice for this.

  8. Do Things Instantly When Possible

    This is really simple, and the thing that has helped me the most with my natural tendency to procrastination.  This is completing tasks as soon as you can when you become aware that they need done.  For example, you can pay your bills as soon as you get them in the mail.  Or you can fix that chair with the wobbly leg NOW instead of waiting until the weekend (by which time you’ve probably become accustomed to procrastinating that task, which makes it easier and easier to continue doing so, while other tasks pile up behind it).

    Your mental list of what needs done (not the same as your DTL) can become overwhelming when things pile up, making you want to hide behind one distraction after another.  Completing tasks as soon as possible after you become aware of them keeps your mental list all cleared out, making you far less likely to feel overwhelmed, helping you to put off procrastinating.

Procrastination tendencies are incurable.  They will be with you for the rest of your life (at least from what I have observed in other, and felt personally).  Using the methods above, however, you can put procrastination off until tomorrow, and get things done today.

The Secret Killer Of Relationships

Some people have a great relationship that lasts all their lives.  Other people never seem to have a relationship that lasts more than a few months.  Somewhere inbetween are the people that have a great relationship that slowly fades away.  What is it that kills this last kind of relationship?

You may have heard of the seven year itch.  It’s a cultural reference to the fact that after a few years, and seven is NOT a magic number, a relationship is no longer as exciting as it once was.  In fact, this can, and does, happen after a few months… but there is another drop in excitement, after this initial one, when you have been together for a few years.  So why does this happen?

The initial drop in excitement, after a few months, is very nearly inevitable… that initial excitement is due, in large part, to the newness of the relationship.  You are discovering all sorts of new things about this person who is so important in your life, thinking about them constantly.  They are never far from your mind.

Once you learn the basics of who they are, which takes a few months usually, the excitement drops.  You can then, if your relationship has decent foundations, maintain the new level of interest and excitement for a few years, at which point you know far more than the basics… in fact, you may feel like you know pretty much everything about your significant other (chances are pretty high that you don’t, but that’s a topic in itself).  So, once you arrive at this point, the excitement level drops again.  That’s when the seven year itch kicks in to high gear.

Both of these drops in excitement have something in common.  Both of them occur when you feel like there isn’t as much left to learn about the person.  This is NOT, however, the actual cause of the drop in excitement (or the drop in closeness that often accompanies the drop in excitement).  It is only a more visible part of a deeper issue.

The real killer of good relationships, and one that often keeps them from cementing in the first place, is your partner dropping out of your conscious awareness.  When you reach that first point, where you feel like you know the basics of who they are, you stop thinking about them quite as much.  You stop thinking, or at least stop thinking it as often, “I wonder what she’d think about this?” or “I wonder what she’s doing right now?”.  Then you hit that second drop when you feel like you know your significant other very well, and you feel like you can actually answer the questions in the previous sentence with a fair degree of certainty.

The killer of good relationships is familiarity.  When something becomes familiar, our conscious mind tends to start handing it off to the subconscious to deal with.  You can choose otherwise, but it has to be an active choice… the default is to pass it on and stop being aware of it.  This includes people and our relationships with them.  When you stop being aware of someone, you stop thinking about them, you stop giving them (and their happiness) your attention, and things deteriorate from there.  And once this happens, you look at your relationship, when it comes to your awareness, and realize how far it is from what it once was.  That makes you want to think about it even less, because it makes you feel bad (sadness, guilt, anger maybe… mental anguish).  So it becomes a vicious cycle that takes a conscious effort to break.

You can recapture the excitement, though, and the depth and closeness of the relationship.  All you have to do is start thinking about her more often (and getting her to think of you!).  There are lots of ways to do this, but the biggest one is to do somethingdifferent.  Something you haven’t done before, or haven’t done for a long time.  Or maybe even something that you have done, but you’ve never done together before.  You can also come up with surprises (little ones… don’t scare the snot out of her) to make her think of you… leaving her a note, making her something, going shopping with her specifically to buy her something (it doesn’t always have to be about you!).  The more unusual, the morenew it is, the more she will think about it, and since it was from (or with) you, the more she will think about you.  And you will obviously be thinking of her, because you’ll be planning out what you can do next.

So… if your relationship isn’t what it once was, don’t give up on it.  Instead, think of things that you can do for your significant other, or better yet, things you can do WITH your significant other.  Go to a new restaurant together, go to the place where you first met, go have a picnic in the park (or on the beach… depending on where you live).  Do something you don’t normally do… and start doing it more often.  But don’t make a habit of it, do it consciously!

Oh, and you might want to read The Very Simple Secret To A Happy Marriage (it applies to any long term relationship, not just marriage).