How do you know what to think? Better yet, how do you know you can trust what you think? Maybe “your own ideologies are beginning to fray at the edges, and you’re not certain which of your own heuristics to follow anymore.” Or maybe I’m thinking way too much for a Monday. If you do find yourself lost in this paragraph, then perhaps it’s better to focus on just being aware. “BE HERE NOW,” a wise old man used to scream at me.

This week, we’re in for big changes on the world scene. Regardless of where your politics lie, we’re potentially in for some interesting times. Of course, there’s an ancient curse, usually attributed to the Chinese even though there is no equivalent phrase in the Chinese language, that says, “may you live in interesting times.”

If I were to ask you to write down for me your recipe for happiness, what would you include on your list?

Every time I sit down in front of this blank screen watching this cursor blink, I start to panic wondering will the ideas flow today? I guess every creative asks themselves this every day. Limbo, Jim Henson’s disembodied puppet has some ideas for you that might help you get through the creative panic.

Here’s a tough question for you: “Is it more moral to overcome temptation for bad acts, or to never be tempted at all?”

My first inclination is to say that it is more moral to overcome temptation because it implies a wilful act. But this only works for me, if it’s true that our basic nature is “sinful.” That is, if no eyeballs are watching us, will we do what’s in our best interest regardless of right or wrong.

If our basic nature is good, then we’d only be executing our basic programming and therefore, not making a true moral choice. For a deeper dive, check out Aristotle and Kant. Aristotle argued: that a truly moral person will wholeheartedly want to do the right thing, and no part of her will be tempted to act immorally. Kant argued: that an action is truly moral only if it is not something you want to do – otherwise, a person is just acting on her own desires, and although the result might be positive, it should not be considered especially moral.

And here’s what Christina Starmans found out about how ordinary people actually reason about morality?

This is turning into Monday Musings. Let me leave you with this, the missing ingredient from you taking action in your own life. If you’re a gamer, you’ll love the solution.

Chow

“Why can’t I do this? I know what I need to do to get in shape, and I just can’t get myself to do it. I’ve yo-yo’d for years.”

Oh how I hear that all the time!

You are not a unique snowflake.

I don’t think there is any magic formula for getting into shape. If there is one it’s this: consistency. Showing up to the gym, to the pool, to the track or wherever – consistently. Even if it’s just for 15 – 20 minutes, that’s better than no minutes. Sure it might take you longer to reach your fitness goals, but eventually you’ll get there if you stay consistent.

weekend

There’s even a case for the weekend warrior.

Oh and if cost and equipment is your problem, here’s a chair workout you can do at home.

You want it and you want it bad. I know you do. So do I. But just because we want something bad enough isn’t enough to get it. I bet you thought I was going to say if you work hard enough you can get what you want, but that’s not always the case either.

Remember that line from Gardens of Stone? “Some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you?”

Fear not though, if you feel your motivation lagging, here are a few things you can do. (Of course, you can always call your friendly neighbourhood coach er umm..me).

Ii it still early enough in the year for me to still be talking about goals? Well in this case, intentions?

What is your creative intention for the year? What is your vision that you won’t sacrifice so easily to the busyness of time; the overwhelm of responsibilities; the distraction of media and the internet?

My creative intention is to write more. Hence, the birth of Tiny Sparks.

Sitting on our shoulders is the most complex object that Mother Nature has created in the known universe. That’s staggering. And yet we know so little about our own minds. But, it’s getting better. Some Harvard researchers have found the source of human consciousness.

And IBM has released the annual five innovations that will change our lives within five years. The medical lab “on a chip” caught my eye.

Raise your hand if this is you:

Since the advent of social media, many people practically live online. Whether at a restaurant, sporting event, family get-together, or vacation, we can see their daily activities.

I know I practically live online. And it’s only going to get worse as gadgets get smaller, faster, and more wearable and maybe even implantable.

So I’m sure you bosses out there are asking this question: Is Social Media Killing Your Workplace’s Productivity?

Are you reading this at work on your mobile right now? Shhh I won’t tell.

I like this tip from Chris Brogan: Never manage time, manage priorities.

And finally,

Here’s a random Friday question: Do you know your own history? Someone once pointed out to me that History is His – (s)tory. The reason I was thinking about that is I was wondering can we really know our own personal history with any degree of accuracy? All we have to construct our past is our memories and the memories of those around us. But you and I both know how unreliable memories are. If we don’t know our history, we’re doomed to repeat it.

Well, that’s something for you to contemplate over your beer this evening.

Until next time,

Clay

“Remember to proceed with self-love and self-acceptance at all times, as this is the only path to real and lasting change” – Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

Will you do as much as it takes, as long as it takes to achieve your ambitions?, asks Danielle LaPorte. Great question and one I ask myself at least several times a day as I strive to carve out my place in the world. Full disclosure here: sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel and just becoming a Homer Simpson – work at a job I hate, eat jelly donuts, and then come home and sit on the couch and watch mindless TV and drink Duff beer.

But I believe in dreams. I believe we have the capacity to make our dreams come true if we have the Will, and If we have the Will, we’ll find a way.  I studied Military History at West Point. One of my favourite generals was Hannibal.  He is considered to be one of the greatest military commanders in history. Well during the Second Punic Wars, his commanders were giving him stick and telling him that it would be impossible to cross the Alps with elephants.  His reply to these naysayers:

“I will either find a way, or make one.”

On tomorrow’s Havana Cafe Sessions podcast, Sarah and I will be talking about some of the books that have shaped our lives.  Here’s a list of 21 books that could get you started. What books would you include on your list?

What’s in between life and death besides going to school, getting a job, a spouse, a house, a car etc and then rinse and repeating each day as you go along until you die? Here are a few things you may have forgotten about life. I’d also add, don’t forget the inner journey. As Henry Miller said: “For there is only one great adventure and that is inward toward the self, and for that, time nor space nor even deeds matter.”

And as my main man Socrates said according to Plato: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

So you want to make a change. Change is hard, or can be hard. On the other hand, as Tony Robbins is fond of saying, change can happen in an instant. But one thing I have found is that sometimes one of the biggest obstacles to making change happen is the people around you, especially those close to you. Not because they don’t like you or want to see you fail, but because they are afraid they’ll have to change too. Without wanting to seem negative, they’ll subtly introduce reasons why you shouldn’t change or how what you want to change is too risky or not the right time. If you want to make lasting change, you’ll have to break through these barriers of negativity.

What is it with our relationship with food?

“One third of the US population is obese, even as 50 million Americans often struggle to find enough to eat. And all that in a country where 40 percent of the food made and purchased each year is thrown away, and in which food needs are expected to more than double over the next few decades.”

They say it takes on average 21 days to create a new habit. I’ve used a few habit trackers like TracknShare, but I like the cleaner interface of HabitMaster. You might find this useful in helping you track the new habits you’re wanting to install in 2017.

I know I said this once already this week, but in case you missed it, I’ll say it again, you are already enough. Any fulfilment you are seeking is right inside of you and always has been. Your job is to reacquaint yourself with yourself. I’ve been doing some of that through mindful meditation and more recently learning about Ken Wilber’s Integral Meditation in which he teaches mindfulness as a path to grow up, wake up, and show up in your life.

And finally,

What’s love got to do with it?

WATCH: The Scientific Reason the ‘Honeymoon Phase’ Goes Away

A little spark of motivation for your day,

Clay

I’ll leave you with this tune:

We’re closing down on the first full week of 2017. Most people have returned back to work. We’re all working on a new set of goals or New Year’s resolutions (hopefully). And already some of you might be finding yourself slipping. In fact, statics say that by the end of next week 46% of us will have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. And come 2018 (I know that seems an age away) only 8% of will have actually achieved what we set out to do. In this video, I offer some tips that might help you stay the course.

Hey, let’s kick this Friday off with a motivational song. Here’s a little history first:

“Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”, commonly known by the title “Wear Sunscreen”, is an essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech by columnist Mary Schmich, originally published in June 1997 in the Chicago Tribune.”

The essay, gives various pieces of advice on how to live a happier life and avoid common frustrations.

Baz Luhrmann turned it into a spoken word piece that was released in 1999 with the title Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).

There’s great advice in the song, however, like the quote says above, it’s probably wasted on the young, but man does it make sense now to me as youth has passed, especially the part about the knees ;-).

Enjoy.

Ok, I’m super ready for 2017. I have my three power words and a handful of goals. I’m set.

How about you?

Also:

in this vlog, I interview the singer/songwriter, Eleanor Brown. She’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign for her next album.

Have a listen to her music:

 

and if you like what your hear, consider help supporting here:

 

 

Are you excited for 2017? I am. On this podcast, I share some thoughts on a couple of techniques for keeping track of your process toward achieving your new goals for the year.

Links:

Optimized – Lifelogging and Quantified Self Improvement App

TracknShare – A Quantified Self Journal

Gym Hero Pro – Fitness Log & Workout Tracker

Moodtrack Diary: Social Mood Tracker & Mood Tracking Journal

My Water Balance: Daily Drink Tracker & Reminder

Only a few days left until the New Year. Are you ready? Have a listen to the latest episode of our podcast for some useful tools and techniques for getting yourself ready to make 2017 one of your best years ever.

Listen:

It’s that time of year again. Time to take five minutes, hours, days… and reassess.

What has happened this year? What have you accomplished? What have you learned? What have you been through? And then, turning to the New Year, what will 2017 bring? What do you want to create this year? What would you change?

In this episode, Sarah and Clay discuss end of year rituals and goals for the New Year. Highlights include:

* Clay’s five step process to Celebrate, Evaluate, Envision, Create, Commit.

* How to look back over the year in a positive, constructive way (even at our mis-steps)

* Setting goals for 2017 and strategies to actually accomplish them

* Warren Buffet’s strategy for setting goals and what NOT to do.

* Sarah’s ritual of choosing an ‘animal’ for the year using Animal medicine cards

Enjoy and looking forward to more great conversations over coffee in the Havana Cafe in 2017!

Scanning down psychotherapist Amy Morin’s list of 13 things mentally strong people don’t do, I notice that for the most part I comply with the list, except for number 13!!

My biggest needs improvement area is patience. If I don’t see immediate results, I have a tendency to abandon the project all together. My logic being that life is too short to wait for anything.

Of course, my lack of patience impacts number 6.

I can be very impulsive at times and instead of taking calculated risks, I rush in where angels fear to tread. I hold onto the belief that whatever happens there will be a way around it or through it.

The draw back to that mentality is sometime one giant leap forward sets me back 10 steps and I end up dealing with things that could have been avoided had I taking time to weigh up the pro’s and con’s of my actions.

Anyway, enough about me. How mentally strong are you? Checkout the list and see. Or read the book.

1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

 

What’s your reason for getting up in the morning?

And as Simon Sinek asks, “Why should anyone care?”

It’s easy to fall into a routine functional life. Get up. Go to work. Come home. Watch TV. Drink a glass a wine. Go to bed. Wake up and do it again. And again. And again. And again If you’re lucky, something different will happen today and for a moment you’ll have a high. The high never lasts and you’re back to the same old same old.

We’ve become, in some sense, the walking dead dragging our assess through the day like zombies or worse like robots executing whatever program we’ve been uploaded with, never questioning our programmer.

To break this cycle, to break the routine, you have to step up, as Robert L. Spencer says, and take responsibility for your life.

“Take responsibility for what you do, feel, think, and say. Take responsibility for all that you perceive and experience. Take responsibility for everything that happens to you, for all aspects of your life, for everything that you witness. This will show you what its like to abandon the position of victim and withdraw from people and events the power to exploit or harm you.”

When you take full responsibility, everything changes.

We fall down at the how.

But tap into your deeper why, and like Viktor Frankl said, your why will empower you to endure any how.

I’m writing this now because the dark days of winter are here. And if you’re prone to dark depression or despair, this time of year can be especially tough.

Tapping into your deeper why is essential.

Being alive is a rare privilege. If you don’t enthuse it with meaning and take responsibility for your time, you are in danger of failing at life.

And that would be a shame.

Here’s my last point, you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain by taking full responsibility for your life – to live it like you want to live it – until your time is done and you can rest in peace.

havana-cover-itunes

Is lying wrong? Is lying always wrong? And how long can we go without telling even a (small) lie?

These are some of the questions Clay and Sarah ask each other and themselves in today’s podcast.

Our discussion includes:

* Is lying fundamentally/morally wrong? Is it wrong because it violates the other person’s autonomy by denying them access to the truth? Or is everything morally relative — lying included?

* The negative impact of lying – stress and cognitive dissonance

* Studies on how often people lie

* The difference between a Liar and a Bullshitter (as argued by Harry Frankfurt in On Bullshit)

* Why we might lie…

* How we might “speak our truth” more often…


What to think more about Lying?? Then for your reading pleasure…

On the potential health, stress and even career implications of lying, check out “Is Lying Bad for Us”, “What Lying Actually Does to Your Brain and Body Every Day” & “The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies”

For the moral implications of lying, “Is lying bad?” And if you really want to go deep into this, the very interesting paper by Harvard Student entitled “What’s Wrong With Lying?”


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