It’s Okay For Stars To Be Dark

Setting consistent and realistic goals is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. Life doesn’t happen on its own, and sitting idle is generally not an option in this world.

But how grandiose do those goals have to be? I’ve previously written about HOW you should set your goals (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). But these goals should be something you set for yourself and not the world around you.

Sometimes, we work tirelessly to achieve grand things in our lives. We work hard to grow and rise within our employment, obtain and develop a home that accommodates our needs and fill it with possessions.

For example, even though you work for a specific company you may not expect to eventually become CEO. Maybe that’s a goal you’ve set, but it may not be what will eventually happen.

So what about a simpler life? A simpler goal? I had the benefit of having a supportive family who didn’t care what I did so long as I gave it my best. My mother always used to say, “I don’t care if you’re rich or if you mop floors. But if you mop floors, they’d better be the cleanest floors in the world…”

The lesson here is quite simple. It’s not what you do so much as how you do it. Are you an employee? Best the best employee you can possibly be and work as hard as you can. Are you an employer? Then run your company with veracity and morals and treat your staff as though they are your partners. Setting personal goals related to your health and fitness? Meet those goals head on and act as though your life depends on it. Because at the very least, your WAY of life will…

It’s okay to try and be a rock star, but remember that some stars shine darker than others. This doesn’t mean they don’t have their place in the sky. ☯

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Peace And Quiet Often Becomes Peace OR Quiet…

Years ago, I had an image in my mind of the ideal scenery. A string of rocky mountains, surrounded by greenery and a crystal clear lake sitting at its base. A crisp, spring morning where there is still dew on the grass and some wildlife running to and fro.

I would emerge from a small wood cabin onto a plain deck, coffee in hand and the vapour of my breath misting away in the morning air. Perhaps a small wood fire crackling in a small fire pit just off the deck, no other sound can be heard except the occasional hawk swooping down to catch a fish from the lake.

No noise, no interruptions and simply the silence of nature… Sounds nice, right? Considering the landscape and setting, the odds are good that there would be no internet and maybe even no electricity. Nothing but the peace of nature and the quiet of solitude.

This is often the image I’ve used while meditating. I find the image and the thought of this description has lent a certain level of focus. Some folks are fortunate enough to visit this image as a reality. Certainly, one can go camping or rent a cabin and this would allow you to experience the peace I’m describing.

This is one of the factors often missing from modern life. You don’t need to become a monk and live in a monastery to get this level of peace and quiet. But if you stop to think about it, even when things are “quiet”, there’s still a great deal of noise happening around you. The sound of your home (furnace, A/C, electronics or machinery), children, vehicles travelling in the distance, the sound of airplanes… Most of these are common background noise, especially if you live in a city.

Take some time to find your quiet place. If you aren’t in a position to go somewhere that allows it to happen naturally, train and develop yourself accordingly so that your mind and meditation allows you some sanctuary from the daily grind of constant white noise. A little peace and quiet goes a long way towards improving one’s health. ☯

It’s Difficult To Find A Balance

We often try to find that easy balance in life. Get a job, find someone and get married, have children and build a family… Sometimes, it’s easy to keep our heads down and just follow the status quo.

Despite the expectations that life and society have for us, it’s often extremely difficult to strike a balance, especially in today’s world. Constant health and financial difficulty can take its toll on a person and make life more difficult than necessary.

Survival is the most primal of human instincts, and very few people (unless affected by some other issue) will simply sit back and let the proverbial house of cards crumble. And survival truly is a motherf&*ker… Our will to keep on fighting often outweighs our common sense.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with life. But as long as you keep pushing through it and fighting your best effort, you’ll always be able to add another card to the house; making it stronger and more stable. ☯

A Little Perspective And Motivation Go A Long Way…

When people make goals, they usually include winning. This also usually means coming in first place in whatever one does. But as I’ve often said, life rarely cares about our plans and won’t allow for first place victories in most instances.

In fact, if you look up the definition for most synonymous words, such as victory, triumph and winning, you’ll notice that none of them say ANYTHING about coming in first. They are simply defined as accomplishments or achievements with certain goals you may have set for yourself.

We don’t always fully appreciate what we achieve. Most of the time, we become disappointed at the prospect of coming in second or third. Look at the image I’ve included in this post… Notice how the child in third place seems happiest? Why do you think that is? Why wouldn’t the child in first place be as exuberant? You would think the kid in first place would be happier.

Perhaps the child in third place understands that victory isn’t an absolute and that you can win without being in first place. This a bit like what I’ve written about previously, in regards to the fact that sometimes the only way to win is to lose. Or maybe the kid in third place is just weird like I was…

Focus on the goal, not on the multiple tasks required to reach that goal. And always remember that sometimes, being happy with what you get is a better alternative than beating yourself up for not getting the gold medal. ☯

We All Wear Masks…

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our skin.” – André Berthiaume

Who are you? Do you know for certain? We go through life wearing masks that are expected of us. We wear costumes. Don’t believe me? Think about it… Regardless of what job you do, you generally wear a costume. Either a uniform, or even a shirt and tie… One way or another, we alter our appearance and usually our identities in order to conform to the outside world.

Even when we have the job of our dreams or our choice career, who we are “out there” is never the same as who we are at home. And why is that? Is it because we’re afraid of what others would think of us? Are we afraid of showing the world who we truly are? Or perhaps our jobs simply don’t allow us to wear our favourite sweat pants and batman shirt at work…

Everyone has their own unique way of facing the world, but it’s often been said that as a people, we wear three masks. The first mask is the one that everyone sees. This is the one that people recognize us as. As a general rule, it is the most artificial and the one that has the most layers. We usually try and adapt to what’s in front of us; work, social gatherings and interactions.

The second mask is the one we wear around close friends and family. Yes, it is true that we wear a mask and adapt ourselves even when dealing with friends and family. Although not QUITE as complex or complicated, it still tends to hide the very essence of who we truly are. think back to meeting your in-laws, and how you tried to be “on your best behaviour.”

The third mask is the real you. The one you never show to anyone else. Or at the very least, to an extremely select few. This is where you break out the sweatpants and the binge watching Friends on Netflix kind of thing. The one with the fewest layers and the one that leaves you exposed the most.

The question is: who do you show your third mask to? Do you have that person in your life? Most importantly, do you lift that third mask and expose yourself completely? If you have that person in your life, you are truly rich and blessed.

Be mindful of the masks you wear. We live in a society of conformity and sometimes we have to adapt. That goes without saying. But while you’re busy adapting, be mindful of how well you wear those masks. As Patrick Rothfuss once wrote, “We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.” Be sure to be true to yourself. Don’t let the mask become who your are. ☯

The Cover Of A Book Doesn’t Tell Its Story…

I’ve been studying Buddhism in some way, shape or form since the mid-1990’s. I’ve learned a number of fascinating things, and not all of them theological. I’ve sometimes been asked why I don’t look like I’m Buddhist. And I find myself asking, what exactly does a Buddhist look like?

I’ve had some people who believe that it’s all shaved heads and constant humming and meditating. Although that is a part of it, for some sects, it isn’t all of it. Although I believe in trying to live a minimalist lifestyle and I do meditate frequently, I am much like anyone else.

I am a complex and complicated person and I am subject to all the same difficulties and emotions that everyone else may experience. A friend reminded me today that it’s normal to feel anger and frustration, so long as I don’t live within those emotions and allow them to take control over my life.

I think that this is the same with anyone’s faith or beliefs. Although we may have grown up with them, had them taught to us or discovered them later in life, it makes them no less important. But much like any other faith, it doesn’t mean I’m bound by every stipulation of the faith I study.

It’s reminiscent of how some Catholic sects believe in attending mass on Sundays and avoiding meat on Fridays, but it sure didn’t stop members of my family from sleeping in on Sundays. And it sure didn’t stop my grandmother from enjoying a barbecued steak on Fridays. But it makes her no less Catholic.

Your faith and your beliefs are part of who you are, but don’t let yourself get bogged down by specifics. Sometimes you have to simply, as they say, go with the flow and let it happen. Having faith is sometimes just knowing you’re faithful. ☯

As The World Turns…

The world is an ever-changing organism. We often don’t see the world in its entirety as a living thing, but it really is. I often get a laugh out of people who say “some things never change…” Despite this perspective, everything can and in fact, does change.

I was out running errands this afternoon. As I exited one of the businesses, I saw a man walking towards his car. I saw him look down at the ground and squint a little before shrugging his shoulders and carrying on.

As I walked passed the spot where the man looked down, I saw a dime on the ground. That’s it. A dime. I knelt down and picked up the dime and added it to my pocket change. Money is money, right? But it made me wonder why someone would simply shrug off money, despite its denomination. Was it not worth the man’s time? Was it “too small” an amount?

It got me to thinking about the value of money and how things have evolved since my childhood. As a child, I remember my father always checking the change slot in pay phones for returned coins that people may have overlooked. He always said that even a penny counts fro something, especially once you accumulate enough of them.

We live in a society that is centred on the accumulation of wealth and possessions. But truly, it’s amazing how little one can live with and still be happy. Some people believe that less belongings means less problems. Less attachment means less anxiety and stress. Maybe it’s true. Who am I to say?

But I think it speaks volumes that we have evolved to the state where we ignore money on the ground, simply because it’s so small an amount. Sure, I’ve become like a lot of adults who compare their youths to current standards. When I was a teenager, I could grab the latest Superman coming book, along with a bag of chips and a diet soda for less than five dollars. Depending on where I would shop, I’d be lucky to get JUST the coming book for that same amount today.

The lesson here is that you should value what you have, as the increasing cost of life makes EVERYTHING more valuable. Although one shouldn’t centre one’s life on the acquisition of belongings, recognizing the importance of what you have outweighs the cost of said item. ☯