We all make mistakes.
In fact, life mistakes are inevitable.
Heck, in many cases, they’re even desirable.
After all, we learn from our mistakes when picking up a language – including our native mother tongues.
But some life mistakes are probably avoidable.
Like the 4.1 I’m going to discuss in this post.
They are in no particular order of importance.
But I’ve stuck the one with a tutorial at the end. I believe if you pay that final point the most attention…
… and put its mini-lesson into action…
You will avoid SO much pain and suffering.
I wish I had known about that unique set of strategies anyone can use at least 21 years sooner!
So whether you’re 41 or any other age, let’s dive in with these mistakes life has burned into my memory and that I could have done without.
1. You Cannot Fulfill Anyone Else’s Dreams
(No Matter How Hard You Try)
Maybe it’s all the Romantic poetry I read.
Or maybe it’s just in my genes.
Whatever the reason, I have somehow wound up with a tendency to try and make others happy.
But it’s a trap!
First off, “happy” is mostly meaningless.
There are too many possible definitions. Most of them are far from impressive, let alone correct.
I prefer the Greek term eudaimonia.
Some people translate it as happiness, but it actually refers to “flourishing.”
Already, that sounds better.
Something you can feel, see, embrace.
But even then, you cannot give flourishing to another human being.
The best you can do is reach out and try to connect.
Share with them some of what you know and the story of how you came to understand it.
Yes, there is “hard teaching.”
There is the do-this, do-that of the Memory Palace. Anyone can repeat the process, even if they’re a skeptic at first. (Especially if they’re skeptical.)
Likewise with brain exercises.
But getting people to complete the exercises?
That’s entirely on them.
The best you can do is offer inspiration and encouragement.
And if you love them, let them be.
Our siblings on this long-suffering earth can only do the things they are going to do.
And those of us who have traveled to a particular destination, can only show the way – the way we took, amongst many possible paths.
Though to reach some destinations, there really are only singular and definitive ways to reach the end.
Either way, if student and teacher are lucky enough to meet somewhere on the road, they can break bread.
Maybe sing a song or two together.
Or just hang out on a YouTube Live like this one we did for my birthday:
(If you’re not subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can take care of that here.)
But sooner or later, both will be off again on their individual journeys into the unknown.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
But when you try to tether ships together…
All too often, the ship bows start to knock.
And no two sails interpret the wind quite the same.
How could they?
If something you’ve taught them about sailing helps them correct course to wherever it is they’re trying to navigate, that’s great.
But they ultimately accomplished the task of navigation. From the deck of their own ship.
And there are lots of possible destinations.
We can’t all wind up on the same islands together.
Nor should we.
Anyhow, I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy trying to redirect some of the wind filling my sails to help others.
It never works.
Here’s What Guides You To Success Better
What does work is this:
Sharing the miracle of what one has learned about harnessing the wind’s power.
And respecting what the wind can do.
It sometimes makes sense to help a friend patch up one of their moth-bitten sails.
But you’ve got to make sure you don’t get stranded on their ship. Especially during a storm.
Keep yourself tied to your own mast.
That way you’ll always have a way back to your own ship.
And you reduce the danger that you may be the reason why the ship of your friend has started to go down.
Because the cruel reality is that help can be a hindrance.
Keep your awareness high of that potential problem and you’ll be better off and help save yourself and others from drowning under the weight of wisdom they may neither want nor need.
Is all that too abstract?
But rest assured that the stories lurking behind these images are memories I could do without.
And I think that even without concrete examples, they could help you avoid many disasters too.
2. You Always Have All The Resources You Need
(Even If You Sometimes Fall For The Scarcity Illusion)
Actually, I don’t have any unusual nightmares lurking behind this life principle.
But I’ve seen many people not take action because they believed in scarcity, rather than abundance.
They didn’t have enough money.
They didn’t have enough energy.
They didn’t have enough time.
In every case, I could easily spot why these claims weren’t valid.
And when I opened my mouth about why I thought so… well… see point one above.
It’s very hard to make abundance visible to people convinced that they don’t have enough.
In fact, it may be impossible.
It seems like a universal rule that they have to figure it out for themselves.
I hate cliches – especially when they’re right – but I too have been the horse you could not force to drink.
Not often, but I get it.
I’ve just been blessed not to be duped by the lie of scarcity all that often in my short life.
But I’m aware of its potential for evil.
And the scarcity-mindset truly is evil.
The “Else” Exercise That Erases Scarcity From Your Brain
If you suffer from it, here’s a simple tip Jonathan and I talk about in Branding You Academy:
When you’re asking any of the famous “W” questions (What, Where, When, Who, Why) always add an “else.”
And of course:
Get out a big fat sheet of paper and let it all out.
C.R.E.A.T.E. the way I talk about in this YouTube Live:
Do whatever it takes to squeeze out every possible option.
Whatever it is you want to accomplish, you can find a way.
At the very least, you can find a way to get started.
And there will be magic in the movement.
Action is a special energy.
Without the woo-woo of “the Secret” or “the Law of Attraction,” I can explain why you will start to attract all the resources you will need if you just start moving – and keep moving:
Because movement reveals hidden resources!
And it gives you what Gary Halbert calls a Fighter Pilot Attitude.
The Amazing Self-Help Secret Buried In A Fragment From Kafka
I also think of that story from Kafka.
You know the one (I’ll add a bit of my own flair, if you don’t mind):
The man who always takes the train to the next town for work misses his train.
So he borrows a bike.
When he gets to the next town, he asks an old man to watch over the bike as he goes to work.
Before he leaves, he tells the old man:
“I can’t believe how many more things I noticed about the landscape while riding the bike.”
The old man replies: “Just think how much more you’ll notice if you walk.”
Exactly the same thing will happen to you if you take action.
Instead of sitting on a speeding train of inactivity with your eyes blind to all your options, take another route.
And take that route another way.
You’ll start to notice a whole new world of detail – and possible avenues of action.
And you’ll talk to people you never noticed before.
People who will open you to even more perspectives.
Before you know it, you’ll be walking everywhere – the world will seem too abundant not to take your time and bask in everything it offers.
3. There Is No Such Thing As Free
The Internet is pretty cool. But I’ve been burned by it many times.
It’s like jacking the Gutenberg press directly into a vein.
The only problem is…
No one can consume all that content.
And even if any of us could…
They’d never be able to take action on even a small percentage of that knowledge.
And that’s a real problem.
Thanks to our genetic heritage, we are hunter-gatherers.
And the Internet triggers that ancient need to hunt and gather things that seem valuable to us.
We stock ‘em up and store them for the great famine.
Works great with berries and meat – if you know how to preserve them.
But with knowledge?
We’ve got a world full of people with all the knowledge they’ll ever need at their fingertips.
There’s NOTHING you cannot hoard into your coffers on the Internet for free.
And that’s a real problem for reasons that go far beyond file-sharing and lost revenue for content creators.
It’s a problem for all of humanity because discipline is slipping.
Completion rates are plummeting.
The consequence appears to be a growing elite of action-takers.
This elite wins more and more as an ever-increasing majority of people fall into the munching gears of the machines and algorithms that have turned human attention into a commodity.
People struggle to pay attention on digital devices.
And they’re not processing information the same way.
For this reason, information now costs far more than ever before.
Learning costs you more time and mental energy.
Because it takes longer to consume content when you’re endlessly flipping between 100 tabs and interrupted by dozens of notifications per minute.
And then you have to go over it again because the information is far too quickly – and easily – forgotten.
We’re still learning the lessons we need to learn, but the solution won’t change:
Invest in offline education at least as much as online education.
How To Complete The Quest For Balance Between
Online And Offline Knowledge
Find a balance between the two.
Get and read at least as many print books as digital books.
Attend at least as many live training events as the video courses you complete (assuming you can finish them in a world of digital distractions).
Invest in others by being with others.
That will help you invest in the future.
Sure, it’s grassroots.
Not always as International as the Internet seduces us into wanting.
But we know from basic brain chemistry that we need the chemicals that only being around others create.
And so much of the confidence and self-esteem issues, not to mention the vapid tribalism that seems to be getting worse and worse, is quite obviously tied to how much time we’re spending in online tribes instead of local ones.
4. There Is No Such Thing As Failure
The truth about failure is a hard and contradictory lesson to learn.
Especially when living at the top of your game technically requires you to fail a fair amount.
Or at least…
That’s the way it’s usually framed.
Here’s the truth, however:
No one likes failure and they’re right to try and avoid it.
Failure is painful!
And the typical way people advise us to “hack” failure is, to be frank, totally obnoxious:
“Fail fast. Fail often.”
Uhmmmmmm… No. And A Thousand Times No
I say this with certainty because the best antidote to failure is simple:
Now, I realize that I waxed messianic at the beginning of this post about the serious role mistakes play in our success. I have not forgotten that little speech.
But mistakes aren’t failures.
They’re sign posts that something needs to be changed.
And they are clues regarding what to change and often reveal precisely how to change things.
Especially if you use the “else” exercise I shared above.
But there’s also something else that leaves clues and shows us how to correct things that have gone wrong.
Again, it’s success.
So instead of failing and failing often, how about succeeding and succeeding often for a change.
And to do that, maybe you do have to put yourself in situations where you will “fail” from time to time.
But often enough, with just a bit of research and self-understanding, you can put yourself in contexts bound to give you more “quick victories” more often.
For example, if you know about your sensory preferences and the personal learning hierarchy I teach you how to discover in The Memory Connection, you can “engineer” learning situations in which you’d actually have to try hard to fail.
In brief, we all have at least 6+1 Magnetic Modes. The main 6 look like this:
The 7th is space itself.
The 7th is the Magnetic Mode we use to create and use Memory Palaces.
Do You Know Your Learning Hierarchy?
You Learning Hierarchy is based on knowing whether you are more visual, auditory or kinesthetic concerning a particular topic.
Oh yes, your Learning Hierarchy can change! (It’s sneaky that way!)
But self-understanding is the way you stack the chips in your favor.
Sadly, most people are stacking those chips against themselves.
I’ve done it to myself far too many times.
But here’s the cool thing about getting older and having been fortunate enough to stumble into the art and craft of self-observation:
I feel I’ve managed to get out of the major life ruts we humans tend to fall into…
… just in time to set the stage for a much more enjoyable passage into the next stage of life.
Speaking of self-observation, here’s what I really wish I’d discovered sooner:
4.1 Not Learning To Meditate Sooner Created
Years Of Unnecessary Suffering
Frankly, every minute spent in meditation is the best investment of time and energy in the world.
And I wish I’d taken it more seriously sooner.
I first learned about it in Grade 12 English.
Our teacher took us through a guided meditation out of the blue.
I’m not sure why he didn’t do it at the beginning of every class.
But it made sense to me then and although it would be many years yet before I got into it seriously, the practice made a mark.
However, I’m a skeptic at heart. And I need science that makes sense before I take action on certain things.
And I just didn’t know that a lot of science supports a number of the meditative practices I had dismissed. Like these reports on how to improve concentration and memory Buddha-style.
To be fair, a significant amount of the science I needed to discover wasn’t out there yet.
And the Internet, as dangerous as it can be for taking action, wasn’t around to make it discoverable.
Plus, I was in that deadly hunter-gatherer mode that leads us to “save data for later” in the form of books marks and other dangerous tools of forgetting.
Why There Truly Is Happiness Beyond Thought
And it wasn’t until a friend told me about Happiness Beyond Thought by Gary Weber that I ordered a print copy of the book and gobbled it down in a way that never happens online.
(Thanks to Ben at Project Monkey Mind for the wind I needed in my sails!)
At least for me, it was important to get the physical copy.
Reading it would never have happened online because it’s just too twitchy a space for me to get any reading done.
Anyhow, Weber gave some solid science.
And he explained how research reveals certain yoga moves are more likely to help men for some reason.
Yet, oddly enough, a number of those moves tend to be practiced more often by women.
Meanwhile, men lock themselves into poor results because they tend to be more attracted to the cerebral brain exercise-type meditation.
Lo and behold, I gave some of these more movement based meditations a try.
And before you know it, I was enjoying PNSEs like there’s no tomorrow (Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience).
At first, these experiences scared me.
How I Escaped My “Dark Night Of The Soul”
I guess you could say I had what some people call a “Dark Night Of The Soul.”
It lasted for almost a year.
Across this period of time, I mainly experienced the oneness that the non-dualist Advaita Vedanta-types talk about.
And frankly… I didn’t like it.
For awhile, I couldn’t even understand the point of being alive at all given the conclusions this experience raised in me.
With consistent, persistent practice…
The warm soft glow Gary Weber talks about started to emerge.
It wasn’t like other stories where it just suddenly happens.
It was a soft glowing ember.
I have to keep blowing on it.
But it gets warmer and warmer.
And the more I explore the techniques and add kindling to the ember, the warmer this glow grows.
I almost can’t believe how amazing it all is…
I never want it to end.
And I want the whole world to have this feeling.
So to conclude this long 41st birthday blog post, here’s basically what I’ve been doing to grow this ember.
I have a feeling it will work for you too, even if it takes a while.
How You Can Meditate For Focus, Concentration, Memory & An Incredible Sense Of Well-Being In Just 15 Minutes A Day
1. I start the day with some simple stretching and movement.
I learned a lot of these moves years ago from Scott Sonnen and later in Systema.
2. I do some journaling.
Often I use The Freedom Journal. But I also use a number of different journals at the same time. It helps keep thoughts organized.
The point is to reserve some of your journaling for gratitude and another part for describing what I call the “Perfect Present.”
Basically, you just write out the way you want things to be.
And test your description for honesty by doing it multiple times.
3. I do three kinds of stretches I discovered in Happiness Beyond Thought.
The first just involves touching your toes.
The second is a kind of cow-tow thingy.
The third is like a sun dog yoga stretch
4. Breathing routines
I usually start by breathing in for a count of five, holding for a count of five and then exhaling for a count of five.
I do this until I feel centered.
Then I do this:
Next, I do breath withholding.
This involves breathing in for a count of 5, holding for a count of 16 (or four rounds of Sa Ta Na Ma), then breathing out for a count of eight.
I usually do this twice.
Finally, I will do the same count as before, but this time hold for sixteen with the lungs empty.
5. Number-Skipping with breathing
Next, I practice number-skipping.
I will inhale to the count of one, then breath in but suppress the thought of two, followed by counting the third breath.
This practice amounts in some ways to the “don’t think of a red cat” game. The very question practically forces you to think of a red cat.
And yet… strangely enough, it is possible to “skip” counting numbers by replacing them with the awareness that you are deliberately not counting the number.
So the number is there and it isn’t there.
This exercise is excellent for developing focus, concentrate and presence.
6. Language learning and memory training
We know that language learning helps develop white and grey matter in the brain.
That’s not the reason I do it, but I believe that spending at least a little bit of time every on language learning using memory techniques is part of the sense of well-being I experience.
It’s effortless to do. I talk a lot about it in this live discussion of using The Freedom Journal in combination with the Magnetic Memory Method:
I don’t practice juggling every day, but I find the benefits incredible for developing focus and a feeling of well-being.
And check back here soon. I’m collecting footage for a little documentary about learning to juggle and recite the alphabet backwards. It’s kind of like juggling balls and thoughts at the same time.
And anyone can do it.
Anyone Can Experience Bliss
Well, that’s basically what I’ve done each and every day of my fortieth year.
It’s basically what I plan to do each and every day of my forty-first year too.
I wish I’d been doing it all along.
And I’m not going to fall prey to all of that “no regrets” nonsense.
No, I don’t really regret it…
But by the same token, I really do.
The past really could have been a lot better had I known to do these things sooner.
And if any of these suggestions make sense to you, I suggest taking action on them.
The sooner the better so that you can see what works and dismiss what doesn’t.
Failure to take action and try things is not to know.
Ignorance is most certainly not bliss.
Avoid it like the devil.