22 Jan

Life Lessons Online

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I admit it, I’m a self improvement junkie.  Also, a confirmed believer in the silver bullet. A combination, not without its challenges. You see, I’m always looking for that rare melding of a logical process, a significant improvement to some aspect of my life, a short reference time frame, no really weird complex steps and all for under a hundred bucks. That may seem a little rich for a flyer but true fulfillment is priceless.

I’ve been on this journey for a number of years and have watched the formats and the presenters evolve. My first set was a Tony Robbins cassette pack that my office at the time had in their Library. I listened, and wrote and believed that I had the inner power to change my life. At the time I was working as a territory rep for a food wholesaler and grossly underpaid and overworked – at least, if not only,  in my opinion. Tony helped me to become a stockbroker that time. The hook bitten, I was in for life.

There have been many over the years, but the style and focus have taken some definite turns. Along that road I’ve come across some great ideas, some really weird ones and some downright dangerous ones. As most people do with these things, I embrace them wholeheartedly in the beginning, tell everyone I know what a great trip I’m on and then slowly the light fades, my interest wanes and I move onto the next great idea. This leaves me at a crossroads though: if I believe in the goal setters and the power-through-your-weaknesses crowd, I’ve simply given up when the going got tough. If I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and the reason for failure to launch is because I’m not supposed to, then not following through is the right thing to do.

The easy path is the one I want, but like all things, I believe the true path lies somewhere in the middle. Everybody who has a voice to speak, a pen to write  or a blog to publish has something worth saying. I may not agree with them, but it’s important to hear them out, at least as long as the free trial lasts.

There have been a few though that remain favourites, they’re wisdom sound and they’re paths walkable but not easy. The key I’ve found, at least for me, has been to find the writers who believe that simplicity is more effective than complexity, and that the number of problems, steps and potential solutions is a finite one that is preferably under the number 12.

The authors/writers/bloggers who I admire most are the ones who aren’t trying to sell me a one stop solution (maybe an ebook or two, but that’s ok) – they’re not offering to save my soul, make me rich or asking me to convert to anything I’ll regret when I get really old. They’re mostly just trying to make me happy.They each have unique perspectives and a way of looking at the world that resonates deeply with me. It’s like an old school field manual, it doesn’t give you every step along the way, it simply provides you with knowledge you will need in different situations. Your responsibility is to know the material, keep it close and pull it out when you need it.

So with little fanfare and probably an even littler audience, I bring you my list of people who I think are doing their best to offer me a helping hand, improve the world a little bit and make their way with humility, grace and a brilliant vision of their corners of the world. I don’t know any of these people personally, I wish I did, but feel that I have a connection of sorts after spending a lot of time with the products of their minds and hearts.

For the guide to all things mindful, I turn to David Caine at Raptitude.com. He illuminates the way to the present moment in a way that only a boy from Winnipeg could – with honesty, common sense and a daily expanding grasp of what it means to be in the present moment for those of us in the real world. I also must thank him for the post on flotation tanks – I went to my first session the day I read his post and I have to tell you it rocks!

To learn how to eat, to be lean, healthy and to keep it simple, I turn to Mark Sisson at Marksdailyapple.com. His plan is called the Primal Blueprint and it makes eating well a pleasure. He’s sort of a Paleo guy but with his own way of going about it. As he says, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. He writes with passion, walks the walk and actively posts and forums about his thoughts and ideas.

Leo Babuata at Zenhabits.net  is all about mastering change and the habits that are so important to a successful, happy life. This is his most recent post:  The Contentment Habit, read it, it’s brilliant. His Sea Change program rocks, but I must admit I’m a fairly new participant, actually, really new. I’ve always followed from afar but never took the plunge till very recently – I’m a member. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen put his uncopyright details on his site. His ebooks and material are all public domain and he’s comfortable with people doing whatever they want with his work. I now understand that meditation doesn’t have to be pretty, you can fall asleep, you can sit on the floor, sit on a mat or in your car… all that matters is that you do it and do it regularely.

Seth Godin doesn’t need any introductions but his work is fascinating. He takes the things that we see everyday as complex and mysterious, or don’t even notice and then explains them to me in a way that I shake my head and wonder why I didn’t see it myself. He’s the rockstar of marketing, and is worth reading for anyone – a little psychology, a little sociology, a little Madison Ave and a whole lot of seeing the world for what it is and understanding how to teach that in a way that gives you conviction. The only thing I will give you is directions: sethgodin.com.

Marc and Angel Chernoff at Marc and Angel Hack Life come out with some of the best ideas I’ve read on how to walk this path we call life. In their own words they’re, “passionate writers, admirers of the human spirit, and full time students of life”. It’s one of those sites that I find when I’m out of sorts or something is bothering me and I can’t quite articulate it, or they’re latest post in my inbox shows me the way.

It’s not an exhaustive list but where I go when I don’t have the answers to the things that matter most to me; my field manual for work, for peace and for all that confuses me on this path I walk.

-Billy

31 Dec

Reality… really?

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I’ve been doing physics lately, then pondering life. Its a bit like taking a boat out for a spin on a busy lake after watching Master Mariner; leaves you all full of big ideas but ill prepared for the thoughts that run through your head. We are matter,  at least that’s what they tell us. There’s a possibility we might just be a part of the grand illusion, that we don’t really exist outside of our own minds, or even further down the rabbit hole, our minds are simply a virtual creation of another mind, or the virtual creation of yet another virtual mind and so on and so forth.

I watched Particle Fever yesterday, and for those of you who are part of the majority I normally reside with, the Higgs Boson particle was little more than a news flash from some lab in Switzerland. Turns out the Higgs Boson particle is thought to be the glue that holds all other particles (read: the world as we know it) together. The big deal was that physicists could create these collisions between particles in this machine called The Large Hadron Collider. They would send two particles in opposite directions in around the speed of light then,  line them up and smash them together.  This is how you find new particles.

particle-fever-particle-fever-soundsThe particle most in question was the Higgs Boson, called by some the God particle,  it was first theorized by Peter Higgs in 1964. If discovered, the second question crucial to our survival, would be the mass of this particle. If it was 140 GeV or greater, it could be a bad thing as it would support the Multiverse theorists who believe that we live in this global collection of casually connected universes, and that our universe (all universes) are just some random places soon to topple; if it came in at 115 GeV or less, it would support the Supersymmetry crew that believe bosuns and fermions are just two ways of looking at a single unified object (read: life on planet earth is probably safe for awhile and may have been part of something bigger). Wouldn’t you know that it came in at 125 which supports neither. Inconclusive at best and still leaving the door open for either theory to be true. They say that particles know we are observing and act accordingly,  maybe it’s supposed to be a secret. All I know is we’re still here.

So logically, the question I asked myself, is what does this mean for me? Am I part of a collective universe that all has to get along or do I control my reality inside my own head? Is there no physical world; just a series of neurone flashes painting pictures in my brain? Am I part of a continuum like the Borgs, cerebrally connected to all the other folks out there, living our life like some networked video game?  All I really want to know, is what is the best approach to making my dreams come true (sorry Pedro). Is The Secret real? Can I just imagine cheques-in-the-mail and the perfect parking place and it will be so, or must I contend with everybody else’s dreams and desires and claw my way to the place I want to be, or does it ultimately even matter because we’re really just part of a big virtual conspiracy?

This, all because I wanted to inflate (for all you physics geeks) my reading experience . I go to the big book mall to look for the next instalment of my favourite dystopian fantasy trilogy, only to be disappointed by another author’s dalliances into character studies. I start thinking that maybe a little science might be a good thing, I’ve heard lots about quantum mechanics et al, so why not go directly to the source. Before picking up Hawking, Guth or Greene, I decide to start a little lighter and pick up a copy of Amanda Gefter’s Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. I’m really enjoying the book, she’s no lightweight herself but has woven a story amongst the theories to ease the pan. Still,  I spend half the time looking up definitions, then use youtube and TED talks to understand the definitions. You might say, it’s exactly the wrong way to become knowledgeable about a subject as important as the creation of the Universe, but as physics has taught me in this short while, it might be exactly the right approach.

I digress; time to call it a wrap and put this first post to bed. Nothing deep, just a little, why am I here, am I really here and is anybody out there. Nothing too serious.

note: forgive all the cool physics terminology, I’m neither a physicist nor claim to    understand most of it, but it’s a lot of fun trying to use the words in a sentence.

-Billy