Happiness First Then Everything Else

Happiness First Then Everything Else

by Steve Pavlina

If you accept a job, a relationship, or a lifestyle that you merely tolerate — but don’t appreciate — you’re putting other concerns ahead of your own happiness.

Social conditioning may have convinced you that sacrificing your happiness to maintain a certain bank balance, to send timely payments to corporations to which you’re indebted, or to pay for someone else’s needs and expenses is the proper way to live. Perhaps your parents played a role in this conditioning as well, teaching you the importance of being responsible and holding down stable employment.

If you do these things well, then according to this conditioning, you are successful. You’re doing what’s expected of you, and no one could fault you for that.

But sooner or later you’ll come to realize that successfully paying the bills and satisfying other people’s needs, while depriving yourself of a happy life you’re truly passionate about, is no success at all. In fact, it is complete and utter failure.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, then you’ve terribly misunderstood the game of life.

While you may have been convinced that these duties are important, the truth is that they’re of no particular importance to people with high self-esteem and a positive sense of self-worth. Such people do not care how much money you make, what kind of provider you are, or how long you’ve been married to the same person. They’re much more curious about something else: how you feel about yourself and the path you’re walking.

I have many friends who earn very little money, can’t or won’t hold down stable jobs, and have constantly churning relationship lives. And yet, if they are happy with themselves, I typically find them fascinating and valuable people to have in my life.

I also have friends who’ve been blessed by tremendous financial success, with brilliant, decades-spanning careers and deeply loving, committed relationships. If they too are happy with themselves, I find them just as fascinating and rewarding to connect with.

When, however, I connect with people who are responsibly doing their duty, but who haven’t yet cultivated a life of happiness, I can’t help but notice the sallow desperation in their eyes, the numbness with which they speak, and the damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t game of self-deception they play each day. They feel trapped and lost to the point where they label feelings like depression and frustration with words like “fine” and “okay.”

If you find yourself in such a situation, there is a way out, and it begins with finally acknowledging the truth to yourself and diving into the dark places where you think it may lead. Accept your situation as it is, and most importantly, accept how you feel about it. The reality is that the darkness you fear is really nothing to fear at all. Yes, you may face some challenges, but that is how you’ll grow.

Do you love and appreciate your work? Do you love and appreciate your relationships? Do you love and appreciate your lifestyle? What is the truth?

You cannot get unstuck so long as you remain in perpetual denial. No external rescue will appear. But there is indeed a path to freedom, and it lies on the other side of denial and self-deception — on the side of truth and acceptance.

What does happiness look like? Happiness is waking up feeling optimistic and expectant about the day you get to live. Happiness makes it hard to stay in bed once you awaken. A rich day full of new experiences and creative expression awaits you. It is an exciting thing to behold. Happiness is the stillness that exists within energy and movement.

When you are happy, you can still pay your bills on time, but you’ll make better choices about what bills are worth incurring. Some of your current bills and expenses might never have been created, had you been living a happy and inspired life to begin with.

When you are happy, you can still support others if you wish, but this will be done because you truly want to do it, not because you feel obligated to do so.

When you are happy, you can still enjoy a stable career, but you’ll produce significantly more value in less time because happiness inspires creativity and action, and creative action is a wellspring of opportunity — a wellspring which can, if so desired, produce abundant income for you.

Rest assured, your world will not explode simply because you’ve decided to make your own happiness a real priority. More likely, the response from the universe will be akin to a sighing, What took you so long?

When I’ve made decisions that were aligned with my own happiness first, I’ve heard the occasional (sometimes frequent) outcries of those objecting to my choices, but these objections invariably came from those who weren’t happy with their own choices. My decision was a painful reminder of that, and hence I can understand, empathize with, and forgive the momentary insanity on their part — the insanity which presumes that their wallowing in unhappiness could possibly persuade me to join them under any circumstances.

But far worse than the vocal objections of others are the simulated objections that exist only within your mind — the simulated fear of disapproval.

In all honesty which is more important to you: the approval of others, or your own happiness?

If you aren’t happy, you don’t approve of yourself, and hence no one of consequence can approve of you anyway. They will recognize plain as day that your priorities have produced a dismal and wretched failure of a life. If you place approval above your own happiness, you ultimately end up with neither. You’ll be unhappy, and you cannot expect anyone to truly approve of you for that. Whatever approval you do receive will be as fake as the contentment you pretend to harbor.

The approval of others is inconsequential, but if you successfully create a happy life for yourself, you will have your own self-approval, and that is worth something. This self-approval will in turn appear to unlock the approval mechanisms of the universe itself, and it will flood your reality with plenty of validating evidence. When your happiness becomes a true priority, you’ll soon notice a conspiracy of ridiculous abundance, including happy relationships with other happy and attractive people, strong motivation to express yourself creatively, and a lifestyle that yanks you out of bed with a “Wow!”

Don’t Pay Your Bills

Don’t Pay Your Bills

by Steve Pavlina

What if you really want to quit your job and go independent, but you’re worried about paying your bills?

Today I’m able to enjoy the best of both worlds. My bills are easily paid from my passive income streams, and I get to do work I love and enjoy tremendous freedom. But when I was first starting out, it was often an either-or situation. Sometimes I had to not pay credit card bills, legal bills, utilities, rent, etc. Many times I just didn’t have the money.

Obviously not paying bills creates consequences. My credit rating was trashed for many years. I had to sell off a bunch of my stuff for food money. I lost my office. I got kicked out of my apartment. I had to declare bankruptcy. But I wasn’t willing to get a job to remedy any of that. Better to lose an apartment than check into a cage.

I never stiffed individuals, but I certainly stiffed some corporations. They took a risk on me and lost. It was their risk to take. I doubt any corporate employees lost sleep over my unpaid accounts.

Eventually I learned what I needed to learn. But in the beginning, I was too inexperienced to earn enough money without a job to cover my bills. I picked the wrong strategies for earning income and got dismal results. So I didn’t pay all my bills, and I accepted the consequences of that.

A bill is just a number. It has no meaning other than what you assign to it. You may determine that not paying a bill is a deplorable act of dishonor. To me it’s simply a learning experience — a lesson. It’s a small oops.

If my bills ever get in the way of my path of growth, the bills lose.

Do you know how many bills I didn’t pay in order to pursue the path I’m on? Dozens, maybe hundreds if you include all the late notices. At least $150,000 of bills were never paid. That was many years ago, long before I started blogging, and of course I had to deal with some consequences.

Negative consequences can be great teachers, but don’t assume that they’re punishments that must be avoided at all costs.

Not paying a bill gets you a slap on the wrist. My wrists have been slapped many times. Wrist slaps are nothing to be afraid of. You get used to them. If you’re committed to a path of growth, expect your wrists to be slapped many times.

Most of the time when I didn’t pay a bill, the first wrist slap came in the form of an overdue notice. Ouch! Those RED ALL CAPS LETTERS make me quake in fear. Or I could just toss it in the trash and go on about my day.

Sometimes I’d get phone calls from collection agencies… up to 10 of those per day. A good solution there is to not pay the phone bill too. :)

Initially I truly did find these consequences stressful. But when it became such a flood because I was so ridiculously in debt that it just didn’t matter anymore, I discovered a newfound freedom on the other side. I stopped worrying and just accepted the consequences for what they were. The fear was much worse than the reality. I realized that my overdue accounts were being processed by a corporate machine. And the psychology employed to try to get me to pay was all based on fear, shame, and guilt. Collection agents would try to make me feel like a loser for not paying. Once I realized what they were doing, I stopped letting them treat me that way, and the debt collectors became much less powerful. Sure they could mess up my credit rating, but they couldn’t make me miserable or worried or stressed without my permission.

Eventually the whole thing became like a game to me. All this fuss over a number in a database? When collection agents would call, I’d ask them about their personal lives, or I’d come up with silly answers to “When can you make a payment?” When I got kicked out of my apartment, I moved to a much cheaper one. When I didn’t have much furniture, I used a large cardboard box as a table. I realized that my stuff was vulnerable to loss, but my attitude didn’t have to be so weak and timid, despite my screwed up financial situation.

This was an amazing time of growth for me. I learned to be a lot less attached to money and possessions. I learned to stand up for myself and my right to make mistakes without being treated like a loser for screwing up. Those lessons have stayed with me ever since. Now that I do have some money flowing through my life, I don’t fear losing it. Money has no power over me like it once did. I’m not afraid of going broke again.

Earning money also became much easier. Since I was already broke, I decided to focus on doing what I enjoyed, expressing my creativity, and making a contribution without worrying about how much I’d earn. Ironically, that’s exactly the kind of attitude that can generate abundant income. Every year since then has been financially abundant (almost 15 years now). Go figure.

One reason employee culture often leads people to be so afraid of wrist slaps is that such cultures are often fear driven. That’s how people are kept in line and conditioned to do work they’d rather not do. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to have interesting connections with long-term employees because so many of them are afraid of their own shadow. It’s like talking to someone via one of those prison visitation phones. Some are scared of being reprimanded for placing the wrong type of item on their desks. Last year I wrote up a mock version of such a conversation in an attempt to point out just how absurd the employee mindset sounds to an independent.

My independent friends never seem to ask, “But how will I pay my bills?” My independent friends know that if they can’t pay their bills, the bills won’t be paid, they’ll deal with the consequences, and life will go on just fine. But my employee-minded friends have often been conditioned to believe that not paying a bill is the worst sin imaginable — a massive failure to be avoided at all costs.

Am I suggesting that you become wildly irresponsible and spend money like a crazy person? Not at all. But don’t be so afraid of betting on yourself and taking some risk. You’re going to lose some of those bets. That’s okay. Just dust yourself off, and try again. How else are you going to learn if you don’t make the attempt? And you get more than one attempt — a LOT more!

So the answer to the question “What if I quit my job and can’t pay my bills?” is pretty straightforward. If you can’t pay your bills, don’t pay them. Rest assured that if you don’t pay some bills, the universe will not actually explode.

Is this against the rules? Yes, it’s against the rules.

If you don’t pay your bills, it obviously means that you’re a dishonorable, rotten scoundrel, and you’re surely going to hell. But I’ll be rotting there right along with you, in that extra toasty domain of hell reserved for rule breakers. You should be able to find me if you look for the bonfire of overdue notices, with a bunch of crazy folks dancing around it in celebration of their freedom. The rising smoke from our bonfire will probably annoy all the obedient collection agents playing their harps in heaven, and whatever RED LETTER NOTICES they send us in response can be used to keep the fire going. ;)

P.S. Thank you, WordPress, for including bubble-help with the names of the colors over the color squares. It makes it possible for a color blind person like me to know which color in the palette is actually red. :)

Never Put Profits First

Never Put Profits First

by Steve Pavlina

Most ideas I learned from business books were useless. The rest were downright harmful. Intuition and experimentation have been the best guides.

The #1 assumption business books tend to make is that the purpose of running a business is to earn and increase profits. Some books really hammer on this point, as if you’re an idiot for disagreeing. I found my decisions and results to be the most idiotic when I bought into that model.

I just thumbed through such a book yesterday that someone had sent me in the mail. That book is now in the recycle bin. It will serve a greater purpose as a cardboard box, which is far healthier for all of us than letting someone else read it.

As soon as you walk into the office of a business that puts profits first, you can smell the oppression. It’s almost unfathomable that human beings would accept such a lack of freedom. I dread walking into places where everyone behaves like zombies. The vibe is so disgustingly creepy. No wonder the cartels have such a thriving business. I’d probably drug myself daily too if I had to spend years of my life in a cubicle.

Profits-first is a great mindset if you want to destroy your health, self-esteem, motivation, and relationships. I’d never want to work in such a place, nor would I ever want to subject others to such an environment. People deserve much better than to be treated like cogs in service of a machine.

There are much more empowering priorities for a business. Surely you can come up with something more exciting than, let’s make a bigger number than we did last year.

I rather like this one:

The purpose of business is to empower people to express and share their creativity, for the highest good of all.

It’s nonsense to believe that you can’t have a sustainable business if you don’t put profits first. In my experience it’s much easier to achieve sustainability if you refuse to demean yourself with a money-first attitude.

Instead of putting money first, put creative challenges first. Put growth experiences first. Put fun first. Put the opportunity to work with cool people first. Put contribution first.

I love running my business — so much — because I don’t put money first. Money is a consideration of course, but the bottom line is at the bottom for a reason, right where it belongs.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for nearly 20 years straight now. The years when I put money first were by far the most stressful and miserable ones. The years when I set out to express my creativity, improve my relationships, dive into fun co-creative projects, make a contribution, give more, stretch myself, and so on, were the years when I was the happiest and most fulfilled.

This longer time perspective helps me see that if I create stressful and miserable years for myself, it will eventually add up to decades of such memories, which means that in my older years, I’m going to feel awfully bitter about how I’ve lived. Fortunately I was able to nip that in the bud before I went too far down that path, so now the opposite is happening. I’m getting happier as I get older because I’m stacking up year after year of positive memories. Regardless of how much money I make or don’t make, I remember the fun projects, the creative flow, the intimate friendships, the collaborations, the heartfelt hugs, the people I helped, and so on. I don’t remember what my bank balance looked like.

Generating income from your creativity is great. Let it be part of the challenge. But don’t make money the central purpose of your work. Don’t do things just for money that you wouldn’t otherwise be inspired to do. It’s better to stick to your path with a heart, even if it means getting kicked out of your home because you can’t pay the rent. I’m speaking from experience since I did that once. At the time it was stressful of course, but as a memory it’s something I’m rather proud of, and as a story it helps encourage others not to settle for zombie-hood.

Follow your path with a heart, especially in business. Do real work that you find dignified and fulfilling, and you’ll end each year with a feeling of deep satisfaction, regardless of how much money you make. If you trust your intuition, act on inspiration, and take the time to build experience and positive relationships, you’ll find a path to sustainability sooner or later.

Cause-Effect vs. Intention-Manifestation

Cause-Effect vs. Intention-Manifestation

by Steve Pavlina

One of the key models for goal achievement is that of cause and effect. This model says that your goal is an effect to be achieved, and your task is to identify and then create the cause that will produce the desired effect, thereby achieving your goal.

Sounds simple enough, right?

However, the main problem with this model is that nearly everyone seriously misunderstands it. And that misunderstanding comes from not knowing what a “cause” really is.

You might assume that the cause of an effect would be a series of physical and mental actions leading up to that effect. Action-reaction. If your goal is to make dinner, then you might think the cause would be the series of preparation steps.

To an outside observer, that certainly appears to be the case. The scientific method would suggest that this is how things work, based on a purely objective observation.

However, within your own consciousness, you know that the series of action steps is not the real cause. The actions are themselves an effect, aren’t they?

What’s the real cause? The real cause is the decision you made to create that effect in the first place. That’s the moment you said to yourself, “Let it be” or “make it so.” At some point you decided to make dinner. That decision may have been subconscious, but it was still a decision. Without that decision the dinner would never manifest. That decision ultimately caused the whole series of actions and finally the manifestation of your dinner.

Where does that decision arise from? It might arise from your subconscious, or in the case of conscious decisions, it arises from your consciousness. Ultimately your consciousness is the greater power, as it can override subconscious choices once it becomes aware of them.

Missing this very simple distinction has contributed to quite a number of failed goals.

If you want to achieve a goal you’ve set, the most crucial part is to DECIDE to manifest it. It doesn’t matter if you feel it’s outside your control to do so. It doesn’t matter if you can’t yet see how you’ll get from A to B. Most of those resources will come online AFTER you’ve made the decision, not before.

If you don’t understand this simple step, then you will waste a lot of time. Step 1 is to decide. Not to ruminate or to ponder or to ask around and see whether or not you can do it. If you want to start your own business, then decide to make it so. If you want to be married and have a family, then decide to attract a mate. If you want to change careers, then decide to do so.

It blows my mind that people think that something else has to come before the decision. People waste months trying to figure out, “Is this goal possible?” And this makes a lot of sense to do so if you’re at a certain level of consciousness. But all you’re really doing is creating delay, and you’ll simply manifest evidence to suggest that the goal is both possible and not possible. You think doubt in your head, you find doubt in the world.

Time and again I’ve seen evidence that not only people, but the universe itself, can sense a lack of commitment to a goal. Have you ever heard someone tell you about a goal of theirs, and you can just sense how wishy-washy and uncertain they are about it? They say things like, “Well, I’m going to try this and see how it goes. Hopefully it will work out OK.” Is that evidence that a clear decision has been made? Not remotely. Are you going to help this person? Probably not — who wants to waste their time on someone who isn’t committed?

But what happens when you sense total certainty in the other person? Will you help them if they ask for it? You’re far more likely to help a committed person because you can tell they’re eventually going to succeed anyway, and you want to be part of that success. You even feel more energized and motivated yourself to contribute to the success of people who are very clearly committed to a goal that resonates with you and which is genuinely for the greatest good of all.

Don’t you think this process works the same way within your own mind? If your consciousness is divided against itself, do you think it will commit all its internal resources to your goal? Will your subconscious give you all the energy and creativity it possibly could, or will it hold back? Think of your subconscious mind as a multi-tasking computer processor. What percentage of resources will it devote to a task that you’ve told it to execute with the words, “Run this for a little bit and see if it works, but quickly dump it if it seems too difficult”? Now what if you gave that CPU a process labeled, “Run this now”?

The universe itself works on the same principle. Think of it as the superconscious mind. When you’ve made a clear, committed decision, it will open the universal floodgates, bringing you all the resources you need, sometimes in seemingly mysterious or impossible ways.

Whenever you want to set a new goal for yourself, start by setting it. Take the time to become clear about what you want, but then just declare it.

Say to the universe, “Here is the goal. Make it so.”

Do not ask the universe for what you want. Declare it. Don’t ask. This is very similar to prayer, but you are not praying FOR what you want. You are praying WHAT you want. You are simply saying, “Here it is. Make it so.” It is like planting a seed in the ground. You do not say to the ground, “Here is the seed. Please, can you make it grow?” You simply plant the seed, and it will grow as a natural consequence of your planting and tending to it. It is the same with your intentions. Simply plant them. There’s no need to beg.

Intend that your goal manifest in such a manner that is for the greatest good of all. This is very important, as intentions that are created out of fear or a sense of lack will backfire. You may get what you want, but it will yield a bitter aftertaste. Or you may get the exact opposite of what you want. But intentions that are genuinely made for your own good and the greatest good of all will tend to manifest in a positive way.

After I declare my intention, I wait for the resources and synchronicities to arrive. Usually they begin to manifest in 24-48 hours, sometimes sooner. Sometimes these synchronicities appear to be the result of subconscious action. I just happen to notice things that may have been there all along, but now I see them in a new light, and they become resources for me that I never noticed until after I declared my intention. But many times it’s nearly impossible to explain such synchronicities as the result of my own subconscious action, even if I step back and try to look at them purely objectively. Sometimes they come in such unusual avalanches that I can only explain them as the result of superconscious action. On some level the universe itself is aware of my intention and is doing its part to help manifest it. I also find that the more inviting I am of these synchronicities, the more easily they flow. Right now I typically experience about 10 per week on average, and I think that’s because I have many different intentions in the process of manifesting, so there’s a constant flow of resources coming to me.

The mental and physical planning and action steps come later. That’s how I organize the resources that have arrived. Once enough resources have come to me, I can begin to see how they all fit together to achieve the goal. But if the path seems too complicated or difficult and I don’t like what I see, I put out some new intentions to make it the way I want it to be. I declare, “Let it be simpler.” I again wait for the synchronicities to arrive, and a simpler approach becomes clear. Usually for an approach to be simpler, it means I have to get past some personal block within me. I have to grow on some level in order to be able to take advantage of a simpler solution. Or perhaps I have to learn a new skill first. So while it might be simpler, it might also be harder on a personal level. For example, by putting out the intention to do more to help people, I had to develop my communication skills. That makes the goal easier to achieve, but it’s more work up front.

It took me a number of years to be able to trust this approach before I could begin to use it as my default manner of goal achievement. I have to be open to achieving goals in unusual ways sometimes. I get what I intend, but not always what I expect. So when the synchronicities begin dropping me clues, I do not always understand how they’ll be part of the path to the goal. But invariably there’s an intelligence at work, and if I trust it, it will work just fine. Usually it will bring me new information first, so I can raise my own awareness and knowledge to the level required to achieve the goal.

For example, if you declare your goal to become wealthier, within a few days you might see all sorts of synchronicities related to spirituality. They may seem to have nothing to do with wealth whatsoever. So you figure it’s just a coincidence, and the approach isn’t working. But the approach is sound, and it is working. Most likely it’s a signal that the path to wealth first requires you to improve your consciousness. This is especially true if your intention was for the highest good of all. If you become wealthy before your energy and consciousness have reached a certain level, then greater material wealth may only feed your problems — your goal cannot yet manifest for the greatest good of all. But if you first learn to use your energy and consciousness positively, then the greater resources that wealth provides you will be a positive manifestation instead of a negative one.

In truth this is a simple and direct process. But our minds are so cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam of social conditioning that we have a hard time thinking on this level. We get so attached to seeing our goals manifest a certain way because that’s how they manifest in TV shows or in movies. Or maybe that’s how our parents or friends did it. But this attachment to a particular “how” blocks us from allowing our goals to manifest far more easily. If we could loosen up a bit on the “how” and just learn to allow the manifestation to occur in its own perfect way, goal achievement would be far easier.

So often I see people sabotage their own goals because they do not understand the power of intention. Realize that EVERY thought is truly an intention. Every thought. So most people manifest a cluttered mish-mash of conflict in their lives because their thoughts are in conflict. They simultaneously set a goal and then unset it. “I want to start my own business.” “I wonder if it will work.” “I wonder if I’ll succeed.” “Maybe this won’t work.” “Maybe John is right, and this is a mistake.” “No, I’m pretty sure it will work just fine.”

If you are trying to achieve goals on the level of action-reaction, meaning that you’re purely focused on the action steps, while at the higher level of intention-manifestation, you’re putting out conflicting thoughts, then you’re sabotaging yourself. If you go on a diet and exercise like crazy, while all the while thinking, “I’m fat. This is hopeless. This is taking too long,” then your higher level intentions will override your actions, and negative or incongruent results will follow.

If you want to achieve a goal, you must clear out all the “hopefully” and “maybe” and “can’t” nonsense from your consciousness. You cannot allow yourself the luxury of a negative thought, and that is an intention to manifest what you don’t want. This takes practice of course, but it is the essential art of learning to use your consciousness to create what you want. When you are congruent in your thoughts, your goal will manifest with ease. But when you are incongruent in your thoughts, you will manifest conflict and obstacles. As within, so without.

Why is it you’re able to do this? Because you have that power. Not believing in yourself simply means you’re using your own power against yourself. You’re like a god saying, “Let me be powerless,” and you don’t even realize it. If you think/intend weakness, you manifest weakness. If you project your power outside yourself and onto the external world, you lose your power.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to do this. It is a natural human ability. But it takes practice to develop your consciousness to the level where you can apply it and especially to learn to trust it.

What happens if you decide to manifest a really, really big goal, one that seems physically impossible? The process will still work. It’s just that there will be a lot more steps, and you may be led through various synchronicities for years before you’ve reached the point where your ultimate goal can manifest. It might take longer than your human lifetime if the goal is so big. But you will certainly make progress if you use this approach.

So what is your goal? Say it out loud right now, and let it be for the greatest good of all. Then say to the universe, “Make it so.” Wait for the synchronicities and unusual coincidences to arrive. Follow them where they want to lead you, even if it seems strange at first. Allow your goal to manifest.

What you Focus on Expands

Steve Pavlina writes about…

What you Focus on Expands

I don’t think joining others in their suffering is a necessary aspect of empathy. I find caring and compassion to be very positive feelings.

If I see someone in emotional pain, I also see that within them is a seed of joy that they’ve simply lost touch with. I can understand why they’re feeling bad (empathy), but that doesn’t mean I have to feel bad with them (sympathy with the lower self). Instead I’d rather feel good as I watch that seed of growth within them expanding through the contrast they’re experiencing (sympathy with the higher self).

This doesn’t mean being heartless. It means using the heart a little more accurately — to connect with a person’s inner strength instead of their temporary projections of weakness.

Feeling bad that people are suffering isn’t much of a remedy. For some it can be part of a process of healing, but the feeling bad part isn’t a necessary component (unless you believe it is and therefore make it so).

If people insist on suffering by resisting expansions in certain directions, allow them to do so. All suffering is temporary and will eventually end, not because those particular expansions cease but because people will eventually change how they relate to such expansions. This shift frees up trapped energy, thereby making new expansions possible.

The best thing you can do with your energy is to focus it where you’d like to see further expansion. Personally I’m not that interested in increasing the amount of suffering in the world, so I largely ignore it. I’m much more interested in expanding other aspects of life such as creativity, abundance, playfulness, a sense of purpose, fascinating technology, openness, honesty, courage, expressions of affection (hugs, cuddling), lucid dreaming, traveling, and of course hot sex with Canadians.

If you choose to participate in the expansion of suffering, you’re free to do so, and no one will stop you. Lots of people seem to find it interesting enough to dedicate a significant part of their lives to it. Just as there are people who can’t fathom how I could ignore suffering, I find it ludicrous that so many are able to ignore Canada.

While some may convince themselves that it’s a good idea to pay more attention to suffering, I shall continue to focus my attention upon the expansion of yumminess, and I’ll leave the committed sufferers to their own preferences. If you think it’s better to focus on suffering, I suggest you welcome the frustration I cause you as part of the expansion of suffering that you’re inviting. Happy to help out!

If on the other hand you wish to help me co-create the further expansion of yumminess, then let’s pour our collective energy into what we want to see more of in the world, and withdraw our attention from what doesn’t inspire us.

What inspires you? What would you like to increase and expand in this reality?

The New and Improved Map of Conscious Growth

A seriously funny article by guru Steve Pavlina.

The New and Improved Map of Conscious Growth

I’m happy to announce that after years of hard work, I’m finally ready to share my new and improved map of conscious growth. This map works for individuals as well as for families, communities, countries, and the entire planet.

You may have seen other maps of conscious growth such as those from David Hawkins, Ken Wilber, or the Scientologists. I’ve studied all of their maps in detail, but I always felt something was missing from them. So I put a lot of effort into going deeper into this subject than I believe anyone else has ever done before, and eventually I came up with something that — I believe — will render all other maps of conscious growth obsolete.

So… drumroll please… here is the new and improved map of conscious growth, from the lowest level of consciousness to highest level of enlightenment:

  1. Complete idiots
  2. Catholics
  3. Meat eaters
  4. Skeptics
  5. Late sleepers
  6. Broke people
  7. Cubicle workers
  8. Facebook addicts
  9. Stalkers
  10. Married people
  11. LOAers *
  12. Left-handers **
  13. Computer game developers
  14. Polyamorous BDSMers
  15. Personal growth bloggers
  16. Canadians

* An LOAer is a person who subscribes to the Law of Attraction. They see 11s everywhere.

** You must be left-handed to progress to Tier 12 and beyond. Right-handedness implies excessive conformity. Ambidexterity means you’re indecisive. And not having hands implies clumsiness.

The worst place to get stuck is Tier 6 since those people have a hard time affording my workshops. In order for them to stop being broke, they need to find a tolerable cubicle. From there they can develop an addiction to social media, which will in turn help them develop good stalking skills.

Most likely you have a long way to go. Be patient with yourself. Conscious growth is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve been working on this path for more than two decades, and I’m still not at the top level, although I’m having a lot of sex with someone who is. That does seem to help. It really is blissful to be so close to enlightenment.

Have you noticed that each time someone creates a linear map of consciousness (i.e. a series of defined tiers that you can progress through), they almost always put themselves on the 2nd or 3rd rung from the top, with the top tier being the idealized version of their values? Are their values universal? Of course not.

On someone else’s map, this same nearly enlightened person could be slotted anywhere, often somewhere in the middle. On my new and improved map, most of them haven’t even made it past level 3.

There is no universal, tiered, linear map of conscious growth. There is simply expansion, with no direction being more or less enlightened than any other. This is true not only for individuals but for societies as well.

If you wish to become your own guru, then feel free to construct your own tiered map of consciousness. It’s a lot of work to be sure, but I think you’ll find as I did that it’s truly a labor of love. Make the top tier a clone of your values. If you want to feign some humility (which I recommend), put yourself on the 2nd or 3rd rung from the top. Just make sure you’re in the top quarter no matter what, or you won’t get as much sex as other gurus, and you may someday find yourself backsliding to Tier 10.

How to Build a Stronger Ego

Another brilliant contribution of intelligent thought to our global consciousness by my unofficila guru, Steve Pavlina.

How to Build a Stronger Ego

There’s a notion that’s been spread around the spiritual side of the self-help field that suggests one of our primary aims in life should be ego-less enlightenment, a state where we achieve near-perfect inner peace, where we’re one with everything but attached to nothing, and where nothing in the physical world can knock us off balance.

This creates some personal challenges for me because whenever I write about anything remotely spiritual in nature (and sometimes even when I don’t), some readers assume I’m one of the guys promoting this same sort of ideal. Then they question why my behavior doesn’t seem consistent with it.

My behavior isn’t consistent with the pursuit of ego-less enlightenment because I have no interest in that path. If other people find value in it, that’s their choice, but I find other paths of development to be much more practical and fulfilling, both for myself and for others I’ve observed over the years.

Do you really want to kill your ego?

Do you even want to weaken it?

In this case I’m using the word ego to refer to your physical world identity, mainly your personality and sense of self. I’m not referring to ego in the sense of being arrogant, such as when people say, “So-and-so has a big ego.”

Many spiritual seekers claim it’s wise to weaken the ego as much as possible. The ones who really go all out with this idea give away all their possessions, shave their heads, and spend their days meditating and doing chores, striving to burn away any last bits of attachment to their previous identities.

But most people who claim to pursue this path have mixed feelings about it, so they hold themselves in a state of limbo. They can’t get themselves to progress on the ego-empowering path, so they don’t take strong steps to advance in their careers or make much more money — that would be too ego-based for their spiritual beliefs. On the other hand, they can’t get themselves to relinquish all attachment to their identities and their stuff, so they strive to get by with a sense of minimalism. But they’re never really satisfied living in this halfway space, so quite often their “spiritual practice” devolves into attacking others they believe are more ego-based than they are. It temporarily makes them feel better about themselves.

Often the people stuck in this middle place maintain careers with pseudo-spiritual associations such as being a healer, massage therapist, yoga instructor, tarot card reader, astrologer, etc., but the one thing they usually have in common is that they’re borderline broke most of the time.

This is a very half-assed approach to enlightenment. From what I’ve observed in those who attempt it, it just doesn’t work. It leads to long-term stagnation. You can find whole communities of bloggers like this, and they seem to spend much of their time writing posts that express frustration and judgment at everything they dislike about the world. Meanwhile, they do nothing tangible to make the world any better.

You may want to question whether or not you really want to weaken your ego. Is that truly a wise idea? Sure it’s a popular piece of religious dogma, but is it really how you want to live? Does it even make sense?

Building a stronger ego

Instead of weakening your ego, let me suggest an alternative approach that works really well for me, one that will allow you to avoid stagnation… not to mention bitter blogger syndrome.

Build an even stronger ego.

Your ego is your character, an important part of your human avatar. If you try to weaken your ego, you’re simply weakening your character. Do you really want to devolve into a sidelined NPC (non-player character)? Or would you rather build out a really strong character with well-defined attributes?

How does it serve you — or anyone else — to play the game of life with a weak character? Are you really doing much good by checking out from life and cocooning yourself in a mini-monastery?

Instead of trying to weaken your ego, consider what good you might achieve with it instead. How would you like to develop your character during your time here on earth?

Let me offer you some ideas to get you thinking…

Character-building ideas

Honesty – See how honest and open you can make your character. Be honest in your dealings with others. Stop pretending and hiding who you are. Share yourself openly with the world.

Courage – Continually push yourself to face your fears instead of shrinking from them. This will give your character more options.

Exploration – Experiment. Learn by trial and error. Step into the unknown and learn by doing. Develop an ego that loves to dive in and explore new things.

Service – Tune your ego in the direction of serving others, such that the stronger your ego becomes, the more you push yourself to help people. Make service to others part of your identity.

Acceptance – When you accept yourself as having a strong ego, you’ll be more willing to accept other strong people into your life as well instead of feeling you need to attack the strong in order to justify your own weakness.

Discipline – Develop an ego that identifies itself with good habits like regular exercise and solid productivity.

Connection – Develop your social skills, so you can connect with others easily. Learn how to surround your ego with social support that helps to refine your positive character qualities while chipping away at your unwanted attributes.

Notice that since these are character qualities, they can’t be taken away from you. You may lose your possessions, job, relationships, etc., but your character qualities are yours to keep.

Intelligence, not enlightenment

My gold standard for conscious living isn’t enlightenment. It’s intelligence.

In this case I define intelligent living as having three main components:

1) Developing a progressively more accurate model of reality and living in accordance with it.

If you’re living intelligently, then as a general rule, you should find that life becomes progressively easier and your results get measurably better as your mental model of reality gradually becomes more accurate.

When you encounter a spiritual teacher who can’t pay his/her electric bill, I’d say something is off.

2) Deliberately engineering your social environment to actively support you in fulfilling your desires.

We humans are very social creatures. Your environment plays a huge role in your development. Unfortunately most of us find ourselves with rather unsupportive social circles when we try to stretch and grow. We have the power to change that, however. We can drop the connections that don’t support our continued development and invite new connections that do. This is a significant growth accelerator.

It isn’t intelligent to remain stuck with an unsupportive social circle. Place your loyalty not with your pity posse but with your highest vision of yourself, and surround yourself with people who can help you support that vision. The first step is to say no to connections with those people who reject your vision. Hang out with people who will help you develop a strong, positive, service-oriented ego, not a frustrated one.

Don’t become obsessed with trying to transcend your feelings towards people who consistently bring you down. Just drop the nay-sayers and move on. Saying “I’m done with you” once can be more effective than having to say “I forgive you” a dozen more times. This creates the space where new connections can come into your life, the kind that will have you saying, “Thank you so much!” dozens of times instead.

When you’re living intelligently, you won’t settle for social connections that drain you. You’ll consciously build ample social support and resources for pursuing your goals and fulfilling your desires. You will notice that over time, your life becomes increasingly abundant.

3) Getting stronger.

Intelligence seeks its own improvement.

If you’re on a path of intelligent living, you should find your character growing increasingly capable. You should see yourself progressively building courage and overcoming more and more fears such as fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and fear of success. You’ll learn to stop giving your power away and take your foot off the brake pedal.

Engage with life

Checking out from life and trying to pursue ego-less enlightenment may be popular in certain spiritual circles, but it’s not a path I recommend, especially after witnessing the long-term results of many of the practitioners, not to mention the behind-the-scenes inconsistencies of certain proponents. It’s a path that can feel comforting at first because it gives you permission to avoid many of your fears instead of facing them. You can shrink away from life instead of boldly pushing yourself. You don’t have to stand out much. You can simply sit still and quiet your mind. There are many benefits to meditation of course, but don’t let the practice turn into escapism.

I think you’ll find it much more beneficial to relate to life on the basis of ego development as opposed to ego destruction.

Ego destruction is slow suicide. It’s yet another version of giving your power away. As long as “become ego-less” remains on your spiritual to-do list, you can use it to distract yourself from facing the real life challenges that scare you… like stretching yourself to go out and make a real difference in the world instead of escaping into the land of make-believe enlightenment.

Having a strong ego is not in conflict with inner peace. Inner peace doesn’t mean being passive. You can be quite active and engaged with life and still feel very peaceful and centered on your path.

Part of the reason ego-less living has so many people pushing it is that it’s a control strategy. People with strong egos are harder to control. If a religious leader wants to be surrounded by a bunch of loyal followers, it’s much easier to do that while encouraging all the followers to shed their egos. Then standing up to the leader can be called out as an act of ego and therefore something that the culture itself will repress, thereby keeping the leader in charge. However, this structure stunts the leader’s growth as well if the leader must pretend to be upholding the same ego-less standard that’s being preached to the followers.

Own your character

Again, having a strong ego doesn’t mean putting yourself above others. But it’s perfectly fine to take complete ownership of your character and express your pleasure with what you’ve developed so far. That’s much better than being secretly ashamed of your character, isn’t it?

There are limitless ways to grow your character, and where you take your character’s development is for you to decide. But when you catch yourself criticizing others for the choices they’ve made, consider that perhaps you’re giving your power away to them because you aren’t satisfied with the character development choices you’ve been making. Stop fussing over other people’s egos, and direct your attention back on your own to see where you need to improve.

When done consciously it can be fun to develop your character. You can shop from a vast menu of new skills to learn and character attributes to develop. Do you want to build a character who’s very brave? Very physical? Very social? Very musical? The choice is yours. You can even dress up your avatar with a little extra bling if you’d like.

When I blogged about fashion a few months ago, I saw comments from a few people on Twitter and Facebook to the effect of, Well, Steve… this is a rather ego-driven pursuit. And I thought, Well of course it is! Is that supposed to be a bad thing???

I’ve been writing this post from my hotel room in Puerto Rico. I’m here for a weeklong leadership retreat for the Transformational Leadership Council. When I got in late last night, I exchanged hugs with about a dozen TLC members in the lobby. Several of them gushed over how much they liked my new hair. By making a small change to my avatar, it created a fun shift in the way people relate to me, even people who already know me. But prior to making this change, I was one of those guys who could criticize others for fussing over their appearance. It took me a while to realize that I was giving my power away to others so as to avoid taking full ownership of my own avatar’s appearance.

It’s very easy to give our power away and use it to feed criticism of others. It’s much more challenging — but a lot more beneficial — to channel our power into creating what we desire, including the myriad ways we can develop our characters’ potential.

Are you taking full ownership of your character? Where do you catch yourself criticizing others for being too ego-driven? What does that say about the character attributes you’ve been refusing to develop in yourself? Are you bothered by people who are super confident, very focused, very attractive, financially abundant, successful in relationships, super healthy, etc? Stop giving your power away to other people’s egos, and reclaim 100% responsibility for developing those aspects of your own character. It will take time to be sure, but you won’t get there faster by succumbing to denial.

Even though your truest identity is the consciousness behind your ego and not the ego itself, that doesn’t invalidate the reasons for building a strong and capable ego as your primary means of interacting with the physical world. An underdeveloped ego won’t do your consciousness much good anyway; a weak ego will only limit the range of experiences that are possible for you, thereby stunting your conscious growth. So don’t be so quick to buy into the notion that ego-less enlightenment is an intelligent spiritual ideal. Consider that building a stronger ego may be the more intelligent, heart-centered choice for you.

Becoming the person you were meant to be

Another great piece of genius by Steve Pavlina

Becoming the person you were meant to be

Are you normal?

I’m certainly not normal.  I was born blond-haired, blue-eyed, and colorblind.  So not only do I look different – I also see differently than “normal” people.  To make matters worse, I’m left-handed… just a cesspool of recessive genes.  Over time my lack of normalcy only grew worse when I started noticing other differences and making choices of my own.

Eventually I realized that “normal” was only a concept in my own mind.  In fact, my “normal” wasn’t the same as someone else’s normal.  Even my “normal” was unique.  And in fact it was just a way of limiting myself, a concept rooted in fear to begin with.

Realize that you are not like anyone else on earth.  No one on this planet is exactly the same as you are, even if you have a twin.  It’s not even close.  Your individual collection of experiences makes you unique.

Yet what do most people do with this uniqueness?  They try to forget it.  They cling to the pack, thinking that need to be like everyone else.  They strive for normalcy, to be similar to everyone else.

This is pure folly, since normalcy doesn’t exist except as an imaginary concept.  Have you ever met a 100% normal person?  Are you normal?  Or is there anything unique about you that separates you from the pack?

Throw out dumb labels

“Normal” isn’t a label worthy of your pursuit.  It’s worthless.  Perhaps you’re worried that if you’re too different, you’ll be ostracized.  That’s true.  You will be ostracized by other fear-driven normality seekers, but their acceptance is basically worthless anyway.  On the bright side, when they kick you out, the ever-growing high awareness community will welcome you with open arms.  Plus it’s a lot of fun to go back and tease the normality seekers afterwards.

“Abnormal” or “different” aren’t labels you should pursue either though.  In this case you aim for the opposite of normal out of an egoic drive to find a sense of uniqueness.  But the person you were meant to be doesn’t lie anywhere on the linear spectrum from normal to different.  Comparing yourself to others isn’t going to help you.  What you need is a way to compare yourself to yourself.

Get to know your higher self

The best way I’ve discovered to become the person I’m meant to be is to first go and meet that person.  You can do this too, and it’s not even that difficult.  You can do it in your imagination.  See My Favorite Meditation for details.  Basically you just visualize yourself going to a room, meeting your future self, and having a conversation with him/her.  It’s a very enlightening experience.

When I did this meditation in my early 20s and met my future self in my imagination, one of the first things I noticed about him was that he was completely free of fear.  He was amused by all the fear I seemed to have in me, and he would even tease me about it.  If I had a problem or concern, he’d recommend a very bold and direct solution, but it often required a great deal of courage to implement.  He was brutally honest and direct, never playing games or doing anything manipulative.  I always knew where I stood with him.  He always held me to a higher standard than I did.

I could see that his courage gave him a tremendous sense of inner peace.  But I didn’t understand how I could reach that level myself.  It took me many years to find out what his source of courage was.  His courage came about because he saw reality a certain way – a way in which it didn’t make any sense to be afraid.  It’s not that he was overcoming his fear or facing his fear.  He just wasn’t experiencing any fear at all.  He saw fear as nothing but an illusion, so it was pointless to be afraid.  So fearlessness might be a better description than courage.

But he wasn’t a perfect success – in fact, he experienced more failure than I did.  He had his own problems to handle, but he would handle them by diving in and taking action.  He’d never hesitate or worry about the outcome.  To him life was about action, results, experience, learning, and growth.  Fear just wasn’t part of the equation.

One way of looking at this meditation is that my subconscious created this imaginary person as a projection of who it felt I could become – an idealized version of me.  But perhaps on some level, this person actually exists.  How this model came about, however, isn’t as important to me as how it enables me to grow.

Become your higher self

When you meet your higher self and get to know him/her, it gives you a model for your own growth.  It’s a way of comparing yourself to yourself.  You don’t need to worry about labels like “normal” that are based on comparing yourself to others.  You’re presented with a vision that is uniquely you, one that you can actually achieve.

Year after year as I continued doing this meditation, it gave me a powerful path for personal growth.  By comparing my present self to my future self, I could always see what I needed to do to take the next step.  My future self became the vision of where I wanted to go.  He was the person I was becoming.

My future self also had the solution to all my growth problems because he’d already solved them.  I never had the problem of not knowing what to do.  The challenge was always in getting myself to do it.

Eventually this vision become so strong that I felt the presence of my higher self even outside of my meditations.  He was a part of my consciousness that I could tap into whenever I wanted, like accessing a living memory.  Some people would define this imaginary person as a spirit guide.  It certainly felt like that at times.

After a number of years, I felt a fusing of that higher self with my present self… to the point where the two became indistinguishable.  I actually became the person I first envisioned in my 20s.  It took more than a decade to reach this point though.  And now I have another projection of a new higher self, one that is more expansive and which is helping to guide me through the next steps on this incredible journey through life.  Whereas my original higher self served the purpose of helping me let go of fear, there’s a new higher self forming that seems to be here to help me learn to develop greater compassion, especially as a balance to courage.

Coming full circle

The irony is that by pursuing your own uniqueness, you’re likely to feel a lot more normal.  You’ll be able to connect with people from your own inner strength instead of your fear.  You will own yourself, knowing who you are and who you’re meant to be.  The judgements of others, whether positive or negative, won’t knock you off course.

A strong connection to other people lies within you already.  Your connection to your higher self is your connection to others, one that is always on and simply needs to be noticed.  This connection is very different than third-dimensional connections based on ego and attachment.  At this level you connect with others through their higher selves too.  And this often has the effect of waking them up.  Plus it’s a lot of fun to connect with people this way.  It’s how people should connect.  You simply bypass people’s fears and labels and talk to them as free spirits.

High awareness people do this very naturally.  Labels and titles are irrelevant.  Two high awareness people can meet for the first time, and inside of a few minutes, they’re discussing things like mission, purpose, and the meaning of life.  It makes no difference if one person is wearing a suit and the other is wearing ripped jeans and a t-shirt.  They’ll barely even notice.  Communication is high on content because such people speak as if talking directly to each other’s souls.

On the other hand, when two low awareness people meet, communication is shallow and timid.  Each person feels out the other instead of communicating their true selves.  They aren’t even in touch with their true selves because they identify with their egos.  Egoic communication is competitive and fearful.  People play silly games with each other in a vain attempt to protect themselves from potential rejection.

Conscious relationships

I remember shortly after I met Erin in 1994, we were talking on the phone one day, and I said to her, “Erin, I like you a lot, and I’d like to us to be boyfriend-girlfriend if you’d like that too.”  She said yes, and we’ve been together almost 12 years now.

This might not seem like a big deal, but consider that this conversation happened before our first real date.  Erin and I had only known each other for a few weeks and were just friends.  In fact, I was dating someone else at the time we met.  So it was a fairly bold thing to say, but it certainly moved things along quickly, since a few months later we moved in together.  We could have played games with each other and dated for a long time, but it was easier and faster to just see if we both felt the same.  This worked because Erin and I were both the kinds of people who didn’t need to play games with each other.

I’m often amazed at the silly machinations people go through when they’re interested in beginning a relationship with someone.  Fear causes people to miss all sorts of opportunities and overcomplicate things to the point of being ridiculous.  Imagine how simple relationships would be if fear were removed from the picture.  If you like someone, just go tell them and ask if they feel the same.   How simple is that?  In a matter of minutes, you’re able to move on one way or the other.  When you move beyond fear, your accuracy will increase as well, so you won’t even ask the question except when you know you’re going to get a yes.  If you get a no, it just means you misread the other person, but that really isn’t a big deal.  Getting rejected unblocks your energy and frees it up to attract someone else.

Awareness makes life easier

As you consciously strive to become the person you were meant to be, life becomes much easier.  Actually it would be more accurate to say that life is just as hard, but your capacity for handling it grows to the point where life seems to get easier.  You’re stronger, so the weight feels lighter.

What’s your vision of your higher self?  If you want to become this person, take some time to get to know him/her in your imagination.  Allow this vision to inspire you and to guide you.  Visualize the type of person you always wanted to be, and then hold that vision until you’ve become its physical embodiment.

Visualisation Meditation Exercise

This post by Erin Pavlina

Visualisation Meditation Exercise

It’s a visualization / meditation exercise for communicating with your subconscious mind (or your higher self, spiritual guides, a higher power, etc.). Feel free to adapt the paradigm she uses to fit into your current belief system. She taught me this about 11 years ago, and I’ve been practicing it ever since.

Go To Your Room

Wouldn’t it be great if your subconscious mind could leave you messages the same way someone might leave you a message on voicemail?  How valuable would it be to receive a direct message from your subconscious or higher self?  What if you could not only get a message but have a back-and-forth conversation with your subconscious mind?

When I was a teenager a friend of mine taught me a method for doing just that.  I’d like to share it with you and see if you find it as amazing and valuable as I do.  It’s a method I still practice today when I want to receive a direct message from my higher self.  Here’s what you do:

You can do this lying down or in a comfortable chair.  I usually do it at night before I go to sleep since I know I won’t be interrupted, and it also helps prepare me for sleep and interesting dreams.

Close your eyes and relax.  Imagine you are walking into an elevator and the doors close.  You are on the 21st floor, and you are on your way down.  See the numbered display above the elevator doors, and notice that the light for the 21st floor is lit.  Now you are going down the elevator, and you see the light for the 20th floor turn on.  Breathe deeply in between floors.  Next you see “19″ and so on.  Feel the motion of the elevator as you go down, see the numbered lights counting down, and count them in your mind as you breathe deeply once or twice in between floors.  When you reach the first floor, the doors open.  Step out.

Now you see a staircase, going down.  There are exactly 21 steps.  Imagine yourself walking down the staircase, but pause for a moment on each step, and take a deep breath before stepping down to the next one.  Count in your mind, and really feel yourself walking down the stairs.  When you reach “1″ you are at the bottom of the staircase.

Now you see a door that is slightly ajar.  You walk up to it, open it, and see a brightly lit corridor with dozens of closed doors along the way.  A guardian is standing there, and you ask him or her to be led to “your room.”  Imagine you are being led down the corridor to your room.  Open the door.

What you see inside as you step into your room is entirely up to you and your imagination.  Explore the room and take note of what you see in there.  Is it cluttered or neat?  Is it sterile or cozy?  Does it look futuristic or antiquated?  Is there furniture or is it bare?  Whatever you see is fine.  Just take note of it.

Find a place to sit down and ask to speak to your subconscious, or your higher self, or even your spirit guides.  See who shows up.  Have a conversation with them and ask them what they want you to know.  Then listen.  When you are through, thank them and exit your room.  Be sure to close the door.  Back track your way to the staircase and climb it, counting up from 1 to 21.  Then step into the elevator and do the same, count up from 1 to 21 and step out.  You’re done.

Now that is the setup.  Later you can go back to your room any time and talk to whomever you find there.

Then experiment!  When I go to my room, there is a chalkboard.  And on that chalkboard is always a written message from my higher self.  Perhaps in your room there is an answering machine, and you simply need to press play to hear the message.  Or perhaps when you enter your room a phone is ringing, and you answer it and hear your message on the other end.  Come up with a way for your subconscious or higher self to leave you messages that you can check when you don’t want to have a lengthy conversation.

You can use this method to get clarity on a problem by asking a specific question, then going into your room and seeing your answer on the chalkboard, or dry erase board, or hear it on your spiritual answering machine.  Or you can use this method to have a long talk with your higher self or subconscious mind.

I’ve even gone so far as to lay down on the couch in my “room” and proceed to mentally enter another elevator and go down another 21 floors, then 21 steps, then into another corridor with another room!  Talk about a trip!  You could also try asking the corridor guardian to be taken to someone else’s room (perhaps a spouse or family member) and meet their higher self!  See what happens and what their room looks like to you.

You can redecorate or make other changes to your room.  If it’s cluttered, clean it up!  You might find that your life is getting “cleaned up” by doing this.  I’ve also done a room addition on mine so that now there is a cozy, comfortable bedroom for me to sleep in when I don’t feel like going all the way back up the stairs and elevator. :)

The insights on this journey are invaluable.  And the dreams you’ll have after doing this exercise may be a little more clear than usual.  Pay attention to them and what they might be trying to tell you.  And the next time you’re feeling unsettled or unclear about something in your life, just go to your room!

My favourite meditation

Steve Pavlina’s Favourite Meditation

Here’s a simple but powerful meditation exercise you may enjoy. Teaching you the basics of meditation is beyond the scope of this blog entry (maybe someone can post a comment with a link to a meditation primer for those who’ve never done it), but if you’re already familiar with it, I think you’ll find this one interesting and valuable.

I didn’t learn this particular meditation from anyone else — it’s just something I made up at one point and have been doing for around 10 years now.

First I get myself totally relaxed and into a peaceful state. Then I imagine a special room in my mind which has two chairs facing each other. I sit in one chair, and in the chair opposite me, I visualize my future self five years from now. He appears as the ideal “me” I’m striving to become. He’s physically fit, strong, brave, confident, driven, passionate, enthusiastic, etc. We have a conversation for 5-10 minutes where I ask him questions, and he willingly answers them. He usually looks at me almost with a sense of nostalgia and compassion, since he knows where I am right now as well as the challenges I’m dealing with, challenges he’s long since overcome.

Eventually my future self leaves. Then I get up and take his seat, and my past self from five years ago enters the room and takes the first seat. So now I’m the future self (Steve 2005) looking back on my past self (Steve 2000). I take a moment to remember what my life was like exactly five years ago, so I can recall what that past Steve is experiencing. Now he’s asking me questions about his future (my present), and I’m providing the answers. I’m often amazed to look back and see just how trivially easy his challenges seem to me today, even though I remember that they appeared much grander when I was in his shoes. I take the time to reassure Steve 2000 that everything turns out well for Steve 2005. I also let him know what things I haven’t yet solved that I’m still working on.

Then I do one more step and fast-forward time by five years. So now I’m Steve 2010, and I’m facing Steve 2005. I’m looking back on my present situation from the future — from a vantage point where I’ve already solved my biggest challenges. Now I see my Steve 2005 asking the same questions I was previously asking Steve 2010, and I’m able to answer them with confidence and certainty.

Then I imagine all three of us in the room together (Steve 2000, Steve 2005, Steve 2010), and I visualize all three of our bodies becoming translucent. We walk into each other and blend into one being in a flash of light. When this happens I’m often overwhelmed by a release of emotion — the feeling is somewhat different each time I experience it. We become an integrated whole, a single being who exists outside of time but has been splintered in order to experience the sensation of growth and change.

As I slowly bring myself out of this meditation, I feel very peaceful and calm. But the most important benefit is a feeling of oneness, a sense that I’m more than just a physical being moving forward through time. I feel like an integrated being who exists at all times but is merely focusing his consciousness on a particular time in order to experience it more fully. When I’m in this state of mind, I see the present moment as something contained within my being instead of the more common perception of being a person contained within the reality of the present moment. This has the effect of melting present-moment concerns and replacing them with a feeling of expansiveness and transcendence. My new perception causes my present-reality problems to shrink, which makes them far easier to resolve, sometimes almost trivially easy.

I encourage you to try this meditation at least once to see if you find it as beneficial as I do.