Be Free – Cultivate The Eight Freedoms


It occurs to me that the dominant model of showing up and traveling in life, at least in developed economies, is make something (important) of yourself through acquiring stuff: acquire an education, acquire a car, acquire a house, acquire titles (professor, lawyer, accountant, banker….), acquire a partner, acquire power-position-prestige, and, for women, acquire the look/trappings of youth/beauty.

That is one way to live. I say it is not a great way to live. You don’t have to believe me – look at your own experience, look at others: do you feel alive, are others you come across alive – full of zest / joy?  In the pursuit of making something of themselves / acquiring stuff we become serious – almost always abandoning that which generates joy / zest for living.

What if the essence of freedom is not more?  What if playing BIG involves less – the less that creates the space for freedom and aliveness?  Interested?  If you are then here  is sage advice culled by Stefan Zweig from The Essays by Montaigne:

1 – Be free of vanity and pride.

2 – Be free from belief, disbelief, convictions and parties.

3 – Be free from habit.

4 – Be free from ambition and greed.

5 – Be free from family and surroundings.

6 – Be free from fanaticism.

7 – Be free from fate: be the master of your life.

8 – Be free from death: life depends on the will of others, but death on our own free will.

Consider that if vanity/pride have you then you will dance like a puppet at the hands of the people/situations/contexts that activate vanity/pride. Likewise for ambition, greed and fanaticism.

Consider that habits are drugs that send you to sleep and deaden you making you a member of the walking dead. Consider that family/surroundings can have the same tranquillising / domesticating effect.

Consider that beliefs, disbeliefs, convictions and parties can never incorporate the multi-facetedness and contradictions inherent in human existence.  They strip your ability to meet each challenge / opportunity / context afresh – to think anew, to think originally, to do that which is appropriate to the person / situation / context at hand.

If acquisition hasn’t worked for you and you are up for playing BIG in life then give these eight freedoms the best you have got to give.  Yet give of this best lightly. Do not  approach these eight freedoms through your ingrained, habitual, habit of acquisition.  Tread lightly.

If you are in the process of acquiring stuff to live your dream life then it is highly likely that you will have to walk this path and experience its limitations before you can cultivate/embrace the eight freedoms.  These freedoms rarely appeal to youth and those stuck in youth.  And that is OK.

Whichever path you chose I wish you the very best. Until the next time.

 

 

 

Why We Love You


 

I did not grow up with the experience of feeling loved.  Valued for the opportunity I represented for my parents, yes. Loved for my human being ness (as it was and was not), definitely not.

It is hard to shake off this baggage.  I am now a middle aged man and I still experience great difficulty in accepting-feeling loved.  Which is why the following gift from family touched the deepest part of me and I found myself with tears raining down my cheeks:

why-we-love-you

I got plenty of presents bought from the shops. Some of them even turned out to be useful.  Yet, these words are the present that cannot be bought and show up as priceless.

Play BIG. I invite you to play BIG by doing something similar.  Search inside for the words that express why you love those you love. I find that the simplest words are the best.  Write these words down, so that your words leave footprints in the sand, and hand them over to your loved ones.

Go further, make it a daily practice to reach out and touch a life by sending an SMS that expresses your appreciation for a fellow human being that is part of your life. Words cost so little yet make such an enormous impact. Why? I am not alone, I suspect most of us are just like me – feeling unappreciated, feeling unloved, or finding it hard to love ourselves.

I thank you for your listening, and I ask you to play BIG in your daily living.  Until the next time….

 

Play Big By Accepting Imperfection and Not Complicating It!


First and foremost I thank each and everyone of you that continues to listen to the speaking that occurs, from time to time, on this blog. I wish each of you the very best for this year. You might have noticed that my wishes, your wishes, his/her wishes, make no difference. It is my actions, your actions, his/her actions that will shape our lives and the lives of others.

Action. I have chosen to take more action this year. To play sports more often. To go walking in nature more often. To do that which I have not done more often. To visit places that I have not visited. To speak (through blogging) more often and make that sharing more personal.

What gets in the way of you taking action and playing BIG in life?  I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that I stop myself by failing to accept imperfection and complicating stuff.  I know someone who is so perfectionist that this person does not attempt anything significant. Why attempt anything if you have persuaded yourself that what you have to offer the world is not good enough. Or that you are not ok with good enough, it has to be perfect – nothing less than perfect will do.

Allow me to bring this to life through some examples.

When I first starting speaking (through blogging) I simply spoke: speaking as a form of self-expression, speaking as way of sharing that which I had to share, speaking as a source of contribution to others….  To keep this speaking simple, I simply wrote and published in one go – no spell checking, no editing, just speaking.

Somewhere along the line I start complicating it!  How so?  I complicate it by asking myself if my speaking was worthy of your listening?  I asked myself whether speaking is just a way of feeding my ego?  I asked myself whether I was wasting my time? You may have noticed that I didn’t speak much last year.

Second example, perhaps a better example. This morning I found present within myself an eagerness to speak on my other blog. Usually, I just open up my MacBook and write.  Today, I complicated it. How so? I persuaded myself that I needed to use my laptop riser/stand.  Then it occurred to me that I needed to get hold of the external keyboard. Once I had gotten hold of these I realised that I needed a mouse. By the time I got these piece of equipment together I found that my inner desire to speak had vanished.  That desire had been replaced with a feeling of this is too much effort and I will do it another time.

If you are not taking action / playing BIG then look and see where you may be complicating stuff that really is not complicated.  Simplify to the core, do away with  embellishments.  AND give up your insistence on perfection first time: accept imperfection, act, learn, refuel, iterate and get to excellence or just plain “Good enough!”  You’d be surprised how much impact you can make by going wholeheartedly for “Good enough!”

I thank you for your listening. Until the next time or as the French say “A la prochaine.”

 

What Is The Foundational Practice Of Love?


What Is The Foundational Practice of Love?

In his book, ‘True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart’, Thich Nhat Hanh says that the foundational practice of love is to be there:

“To love, in the context of Buddhism, is above all to be there….. If you are not there how can you love? Being there is very much an art …… bringing your true presence to the here and now. The question that arises is: Do you have the time to love?

What Is The Foundational Practice Of ‘Playing BIG’?

It occurs to me that many of us (including me) misunderstand what it it to ‘Play BIG’ in life. We confuse ‘Playing BIG’ to taking on big projects, going for big outcomes, achieving big wealth/status.

It occurs to me that you/i can ‘Play BIG’ simply by being there. Why do I say this constitutes ‘Playing BIG’?  Here is what Thich Nhat Hanh says: “But being there is not an easy thing.” It takes practice: ongoing practice.

Is being there that important?  Is being there for the people who you/i profess to love that important?  Is being there for those who count on you that important?  I share with you the card I received from my son in relation to Father’s Day:

“Dear Papa,

I am sorry this card is late but now, I feel ready to give it to you. The truth is you’re not a perfect dad by any means but overall you do a good job. You love your family to bits, you do so much for us all, and I for one love you to bits…….. having you at my side when I need you most is a blessing. You are so kind and you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. Thank you for all your hugs, warmth and affection that you have given me. These mean so much to me and make me feel really loved. You help me feel at ease and at peace with myself and your presence is calming.

Also, I hope you know that I look up to you in so many ways. I love the fact you appreciate the simple things in life and are always prepared to count your blessings rather than looking at what you don’t have or what you could have……

Finally, I hope you can believe that you are worthy dad. In my opinion, you are a background person, and so it can be easy to forget that you are there, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t love you or care about you. For me, just you being yourself makes a big difference. Also, remember to inject that random sense of craziness and fun of yours into life!

I guess all I can say is thanks for everything you do for me and just being there for me when I need you the most…… believe in yourself and believe you are a worthy dad.

Love, Marco.”

All I can say is that when times have been the most difficult for my son, and I have not jumped into the ‘fix it’ mode of being-travelling in the world, I have simply been there for my son. To my utter astonishment that has made more of a contribution than if I had turned up and fixed it.

The Art of Asking: asking in a way that creates a wonderful world


When you and I are first given our part on the stage of life, life shows up as wondrous.  We live in possibility. More accurately, we are infinite possibility.  Nothing occurs as unreasonable, unrealistic, naive, silly.  We are not present to criticism. Nor have we suffering rejection. Slowly and surely possibility is driven out of us and its place is taken up with right/wrong, good/wrong, appropriate/not appropriate, success/failure. And our house of being is filled with shame, guilt, duty, obligation..

Today, I’d like to get each and every one of us present to possibility once more.  What is possible in the music business if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and simply ask?  That is the answer that Amanda Palmer shares in this fabulous TED talk. I challenge you not to be touched-moved-inspired-uplifted.

This talk gets me present to that which is much neglected: asking/receiving can be a source of contribution when our asking shows up as giving.  The kind of giving that generates possibility – a possibility that enables connection and mutual contribution – and enables a transformation in our experience of living.

Is it possible that the defining act of leadership is generating possibilities that call to our fellow human beings, engender connection, and create an opening for people to join together and co-create a world that works for us all, none excluded?

Am I willing, are you willing, to put in that which is required to play the game of possibility, transformation & leadership?  What am I pointing at?  The courage to connect with our deepest call, the courage to respond to this call, the courage to be vulnerable – to share that which calls us and ask for our fellow human beings to contribute.

Put differently, are you and I willing to generate the courage to ‘play BIG’ and give up ‘playing small’? To choose to be ‘extraordinary’ and risk criticism, even abuse, rather than stay comfortable (and dead) in the ordinary?

Given ordinary living (‘playing small’) failure is certain – here is the way out of the trap


The predictable future of ‘playing small’ : failure

I came across this fantastic TED talk ‘Why you will fail to have a great career’.  I don’t like the title. It would title it ‘Why you will fail to create and live a great life’.  There is a way out of this trap.  Like Buddha said life is suffering until you get the suffering and the conditions that cause that suffering.  When you get that then you can escape the trap if you wish to.  Back to this fabulous TED talk: I urge you to be compassionate with yourself, watch it attentively.

TED: why you will fail to have a great career

How to break free of the trap, how to ‘play BIG’

There really is no secret to breaking free of the trap other than seeing that trap and getting present to where it will lead.  Just imagine that your mission, the reason you came into this world, was to flower as yourself.  No-one on this Earth was ever like you nor will anyone ever be like you.  You are unique.  You were given the privilege of life to flower.  You went through the motions of life and yet you never flowered as yourself.  You squandered your inheritance.  And on your deathbed, on your last breath, you get present to that.  How does that feel?  Would you wish you had a second chance – to live again and do it right?  Yes?

The access to ‘playing BIG’ is getting present to your passion AND getting present to the cost of not pursuing your passion.  The cost of not pursuing your passion is a ‘passionless’ life.  What shows up in such a life: the lack of joy that is present in your living.  That is the acid test. If in your living, joy is missing, then you are not pursuing your passion.  And slowly this kind of life destroys you from the inside.  Yes, you have security, safety, money, status, comfort, privilege.  The cost: giving away the source of joy which makes life an experience worth repeating again and again.  Enough – at this point you get it or you don’t get it, that is OK.  When you are ready you will get it: I was asleep for about 10 years before I got it, again.

If you took this visualisation seriously, really entered into and played into it full out and your answer is yes then you might want to read the following.  Then memorise it so that you know it by heart.  And recite this to yourself every day: when you wake up, when you go for lunch, when you eat your evening meal, when you go to sleep.  Breathe it, live it.

 

If you want to buy this poster than you can do so by clicking here.

I love you and thank you for your listening.  Whatever life you choose, choose it!