Are you committed?

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Today’s blog post was snagged from Tim Ferriss’ newsletter. You can find the whole post via this link. But below is the part that stood out and inspired me to share.

Our lives are shaped not by our conditions, but by our decisions. If you look back on the last 5 or 10 years I’d be willing to bet that you can recall a decision or two that has truly changed your life. Maybe it was a decision about where to go to school, what profession to pursue, or who you chose to love or marry. Looking back on it now, can you see how radically different your life would be today if you had made a different decision? These and so many other decisions determine the direction of your life and can change your destiny.

So what’s the biggest decision you can make in your life right now? In the past, I would have told you that what matters most is who you decide to spend your time with, who you decide to love. After all, the company you keep will powerfully shape who you become.

But over the last two years, my thinking has evolved. What I’ve come to realize is that the single most important decision in life is this: Are you committed to being happy, no matter what happens to you?

To put this another way, will you commit to enjoying life not only when everything goes your way but also when everything goes against you, when injustice happens, when someone screws you over, when you lose something or someone you love, or when nobody seems to understand or appreciate you? Unless we make this definitive decision to stop suffering and live in a beautiful state, our survival minds will create suffering whenever our desires, expectations, or preferences are not met. What a waste of so much of our lives!

This is a decision that can change everything in your life, starting today. But it’s not enough just to say that you’d like to make this change or that your preference is to be happy no matter what. You have to own this decision, do whatever it takes to make it happen, and cut off any possibility of turning back. If you want to take the island, you have to burn the boats. You have to decide that you’re 100% responsible for your state of mind and for your experience of this life.

What it really comes down to is drawing a line in the sand today and declaring, “I’m done with suffering. I’m going to live every day to the fullest and find juice in every moment, including the ones I don’t like, BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST TOO SHORT TO SUFFER.”

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Terence McKenna: Face the Answer

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“The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.”

“We are caged by our cultural programming. Culture is a mass hallucination, and when you step outside the mass hallucination you see it for what it’s worth.”

“Culture is not your friend, it’s an impediment to understanding what’s going on. That’s why the words cult and culture have a direct relationship to each other. Culture is an extremely repressive cult that leads to all kinds of humiliation and degradation, and automatic, unquestioned and unthinking behaviour.”

“The cost of sanity, in this society, is a certain level of alienation.”

“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existance is defined in terms of control.”

“Personal empowerment means deconditioning yourself from the values and the programs of the society and putting your own values and programs in place.”

“We are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get this, get that.’ And then you’re a player, but you don’t want to play in the game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

“We have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us – the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.”

“If the words ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.”

“It’s clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it’s not easy.”

“We tend to disempower ourselves. We tend to believe that we don’t matter. And in the act of taking that idea to ourselves we give everything away to somebody else, to something else.”

“If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.”

All quotes by Terence McKenna

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Enough Already

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Note to self.

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Simone de Beauvoir: Reasons for Living

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“The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project.”

“Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.”

“One can not start by saying our earthly destiny has or has not importance, for it depends on us to give it importance.”

“I think that where you go wrong is that you imagine that your reasons for living ought to fall on you, ready-made from heaven, whereas we have to find them for ourselves.”

“If you live long enough, you’ll see that every victory turns into a defeat.”

“Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable. The young know this. Their anxiety as they enter in upon social life matches the anguish of the old as they are excluded from it.”

“I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth – and truth rewarded me.”

“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, and compassion.”

“All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception.”

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”

“All success cloaks a surrender.”

Quotes by Simone de Beauvoir
Illustration by Simon James (of Standard Design)

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Oscar Wilde: Those Who Know

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“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.”

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.”

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

“Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

“There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.”

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”

“The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.”

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

“America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

All quotes by Oscar Wilde

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Michael A. Singer: What If You Knew

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“What if you knew that the next person you’d see would be the last person you would ever see? You’d be right there soaking it in, experiencing it. It wouldn’t matter what they were saying; you’d just enjoy hearing the words because it would be the last conversation you’d ever have. What if you brought that kind of awareness to every conversation? That’s what happens when you’re told that death is around the corner: you change, life doesn’t change.”

“People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision: Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.”

“Spirituality is the commitment to go beyond, no matter what it takes. It’s an infinite journey based upon going beyond yourself every minute of every day for the rest of your life. If you’re truly going beyond, you are always at your limits. You’re never back in the comfort zone. A spiritual being feels as though they are always against that edge, and they are constantly being pushed through it.”

“When you walk through a beautiful botanical garden, you feel open and light. You feel love. You see beauty. You don’t judge the shape and placement of every leaf. The leaves are of all sizes and shapes and they face every-which-way. That’s what makes them beautiful. What if you felt that way about people? What if they didn’t all have to dress the same, believe the same, or behave the same? What if they were like the flowers, and however they happened to be seemed beautiful to you?”

“It is truly a great cosmic paradox that one of the best teachers in all of life turns out to be death. No person or situation could ever teach you as much as death has to teach you. While someone could tell you that you are not your body, death shows you. While someone could remind you of the insignificance of the things that you cling to, death takes them all away in a second. While people can teach you that men and women of all races are equal and that there is no difference between the rich and the poor, death instantly makes us all the same.”

“The only thing you have to know is that opening allows energy in, and closing blocks it out. Now you have to decide whether or not you want this energy. How high do you want to get? How much love do you want to feel? How much enthusiasm do you want to have for the things you do? If enjoying a full life means experiencing high energy, love, and enthusiasm all the time, then don’t ever close.”

“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”

“You will not be able to solve anything outside until you own how the situation affects you inside. Problems are generally not what they appear to be. When you get clear enough, you will realize that the real problem is that there is something inside of you that can have a problem with almost anything. The first step is to deal with that part of you. This involves a change from “outer solution consciousness” to “inner solution consciousness.” You have to break the habit of thinking that the solution to your problems is to rearrange things outside. The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality.”

All quotes by Michael A. Singer

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Nisargadatta Maharaj: The Road is the Goal

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“You will receive everything you need when you stop asking for what you do not need.”

“Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

“A quiet mind is all you need.”

“You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered.”

“The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.”

“I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very
thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become
the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other
focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like.
Love says “I am everything”. Wisdom says “I am nothing”. Between the two,
my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the
subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am
both, and neither, and beyond both.”

All quotes by Nisargadatta Maharaj

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