The Story of Mr. Fear and Mr. Love

The Story of Mr. Fear and Mr. Love

Have you ever heard of the story of Mr. Fear and Mr. Love?

Once upon a time in a small village in South France lived two gentlemen, Mr. Fear and Mr. Love. They were both perceived as relatively smart and had a very similar life by many standards. Physically speaking they also looked very similar and in fact many people mistakenly believe they were brothers. The biggest noticeable difference between them was probably that one loved cheese while the other hated it. (Is it possible for a French not to like cheese?)

More seriously, the real difference between them was that Mr. Love was significantly happier than Mr. Fear. Why was that? I let you guess!

So how were these two gentlemen different? Let’s have a look now.

1a. Mr. Fear was controlled by his fear

Mr. Fear never fully realized that his lack of satisfaction in his life was the result of underlying fears! Never noticing that fear was his biggest enemy, he would use excuses all the time and stay comfortably in his victim mindset making sure that he would never have to face his fears. He enjoyed pitying himself for not being good enough, being too old or not knowing the right people to do what he wanted to do. He could easily have filled a whole book with his never-ending blaming list.

Eventually, he turned himself into a self-help junkie going to many seminars on personal development and investing thousands and thousands of dollars in personal materials. However, that it didn’t work. That’s was simply another distraction to keep him away from his fears and make him feel momentarily good about himself.

1b. Mr. Love faced his fears and outgrew them

Mr. Love realized that when it comes to personal development, one very simply criteria was enough to tell whether he was evolving towards a more fulfilling life: It was whether he was getting rid of his fears or not. Or, to put it in a different way, whether he was getting out of his comfort zone or not.

When he felt a butterfly in his stomach or an uncomfortable feeling while he was about to do something, he knew that he had to do it. He became almost addicted to that feeling as he realized that each time he got out of his comfort zone, his fears weakened and the field of possibilities expanded. What an exhilarating feeling!
He didn’t even need to read personal development books or go to self-help seminars anymore. What he was doing was pure raw personal development work: destroying fear!

2a. Mr. Fear cared too much about his self-image

Mr. Fear was constantly worrying about what other people would think of him and was trying hard to control his self-image. However, he failed to realize that his self-image was largely a creation from people around him who wanted him to be a certain way. He was living up to other people’s expectations not his own. As a result, he often felt like people around him had no clue of who he really was. It is because he wasn’t taking responsibility and being himself.

Even worse than that, in order to be accepted, he was constantly trying to please everyone. His reasoning was that if he did everything other people wanted him to do, they would love him. Wouldn’t they? He was pretending to be nice to everyone, but in reality he was simply afraid of being rejected. His inability to say no was eroding his self-respect and creating resentment towards people who were constantly asking for his help. Deep down, he didn’t feel like he was worthy and was hoping that people around him would tell him that he was. Similar to a drug addict, he needed his regular dose of approval.

He had to admit that he felt quite comfortable acting like a nice guy and pleasing everyone? Was he such a nice guy? Arguably not? Why? He wasn’t pleasing people because he liked them, but out of fear: the fear of being rejected, the fear of not being part of the group. It was nothing more than a selfish act.

2b. Mr. Love was just being himself caring little about his self-image

On the other hand, Mr. Love was doing his best to be honest with everyone he met. He was being himself and weren’t afraid to say no when necessary. His reasoning was very simple: if I don’t want to be liked for someone I’m not, I’d rather be myself. He knew that if he were himself, some people would like him for who he was. He also knew that other people wouldn’t like him. However, that was unavoidable or even necessary.

Rather than pleasing people to keep his self-image under control, his focus was always on doing and saying what was best for them even if it meant being hated from time to time. He realized that in order for him to be himself, he had to let go and to stop trying to control people around him. After all, he couldn’t force people to like him.

3a. Mr. Fear was never good enough

Mr. Fear had a deep feeling of not being good enough. He was constantly comparing himself to others and tended to focus his attention on what he « wasn’t good enough at » making him even more insecure. To overcome this sense of insecurity he was working harder than anyone else trying to gain power and become more popular and chasing one recognition after the other. However, nothing seemed to satisfy him.

3b. Mr. Love never compared himself to others

Mr. Love understood very well the danger of comparing oneself to others. His father taught him early on that he should NEVER compare himself to others. Never! His father simply said to him that since we are all different, comparing oneself to other people wasn’t totally irrelevant. « Son, comparing yourself with other will only bring you pain and sorrow in life. The sooner you will understand that the better». That was his words of wisdom.

4a. Mr. Fear was all about competition

Mr. Fear was a very competitive guy. Well, how does it relate to fear? Why do you think people compete in the first place? To win of course. What do they need to win for? To prove themselves? Why? Because they are afraid that deep inside they are not good enough as they are. That is a fear-based mindset.

4b. Mr. Love was all about cooperation

Mr. Love, him, believed in cooperation over competition. He understood that he couldn’t do anything on himself and that by leveraging other people’s strength and inspiring them to become the best version of themselves, he would get better results and everybody will win. He wasn’t against « friendly » competition but winning wasn’t a concept he liked very much. He believed cooperation was way more powerful than competition and didn’t think that competition could be the solution to the world’s major problems. Not everybody can win but everybody can cooperate.

5a. Mr. Fear’s focus was on getting

As Mr. Fear doesn’t feel good enough, he is constantly trying to get something out of every interaction. A little bit of approval here, some recognition there, some more power over there. How can I get more? He would ask himself. How can I receive so much love, recognition, fame, power and money that I will finally feel good enough?

5b. Mr. Love’s focus was on giving

How can I serve more? How I can help more people? That is what Mr. Love was always focusing on. Mr. Love understood that the first step to receiving was giving. He also noticed that the more he was giving to people and helping them, the more fulfilled he would feel. Each time he thought of a way he could help someone he knew, he would do it. If he had found some information that could help an acquaintance he would happily share it with him/her. His motto wasn’t “I give therefore I shall receive” but “Because I’m giving I’m already receiving”.

How the story ends

Eventually, stress took a toll on Mr. Fear’s health. His doctor told him that he had only 3 months live. In an instant, all Mr. Fear’s trouble about not having enough and not being good enough vanished. It was just irrelevant. He then realized that all his life he has been asking himself the wrong question: It wasn’t “how can I get more so that I can become more?” but “how can I can become myself more so that I will receive more?”

Are you more like Mr. Fear or Mr. Love? What fears are you running away from? In fact, you probably already know what kind of fears you are running away from, but you won’t admit it to yourself would you?
Leave me a comment below and let me know what you fears are.

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The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

Do You Believe in Reincarnation?

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Souls don’t represent all that is pure and good about a body or they wouldn’t be incarnating for personal development. Souls come to Earth to work on their own shortcomings. – Michael Newton

Nobody told me but I’m pretty sure I was Napoleon in a previous life!

What if, it could actually be possible? (though very unlikely)

I should start this article by saying that I’m not a particularly religious person. Neither do I consider myself as superstitious.

At the same time, my personal research lead me to believe in spiritual enlightenment (see my articles on enlightenment) as well as in the existence of a higher consciousness that science has yet to explain. Still, until very recently reincarnation is absolutely not something I was taking seriously, to say the least.

A while ago, when my friend told me he was reading a book on people’s past lives, my reaction was to instantly reject that kind of “new edge woo-woo” thing . In this particular book, the author, a hypnotherapist, argues that people when put into a very deep state of hypnosis are able to recall past lives.

It is only later on, when I came across a book that mentioned the very same author that I decided to have a closer look at reincarnation out of curiosity.

Destiny of souls

The book I’m referring to is Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton. Michael Newton worked on about 7,000 cases. He regressed his patients into past lives and discovered the richness of the life between lives or « spirit world » that he described in length in his book.

It is true that hypnosis is generally not recognized as a scientific proof but I would like to bring to light several interesting points:

  • It was performed on a large scale. Michael Newton hypnotized thousands of people and he is not the only one to perform life between lives hypnosis.
  • Similarities between patients’ stories are striking. Patients’ recalling of their life between lives are very similar from a patient to another. They all mention having a guide, a group of souls they are closely bonded with and a soul mate that often reincarnate with them on earth. They also mention in details the process they go through in the spirit world, from meeting with their guide to choosing their future body to name a few.
  • Making up a story seems unlikely. Patients were able to talk for hours and in great details of the life between lives and each session was recorded. It seems unlikely that they could all be making up a story.
  • There are numerous cases that show that the person the client incarnated in a past life actually existed

I believe that the elements mentioned above appear convincing enough to take the phenomenon of reincarnation more seriously.

To add to these facts I should mention Stevenson’s work on reincarnation. Stevenson was a psychiatrist who worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years. He carefully analyzed many cases of reincarnation among children.

Indeed, in certain cases, it seems to be possible for small children to remember their most recent previous life with a surprising accuracy. However, as they grow older they generally forget everything.

Implications of reincarnation in our lives

If reincarnation were to be real, then it would have huge implications on our life:

  • We would all have a clear purpose. We reincarnated in our present life for a reason. Newton’s patients explained that they chose their present body for a particular reason, that is: to improve a certain aspect of their personality.
  • We would have to be totally responsible for our life. Michael Newton wrote: “Souls voluntarily select less than perfect bodies and difficult lives to address karmic debts or to work on different aspects of a lesson they have had trouble with in the past.” If we did choose our current body to achieve a certain objective in this life, then, no matter how hard our current life is, we know that we chose it and thus need to keep moving forward and improve ourselves.
  • Relying on our intuition would be more important than we think. Once reincarnated, unfortunately, we are unable to remember anything from our previous life except for certain very rare cases. Our intuition may then be crucial to help us stay on track with the real purpose we set to ourselves before entering our current body.
  • There would be no need to be afraid of death. If reincarnation is real, then our soul never die until it is purified. Knowing that can bring us a certain peace of mind!
  • Materialistic things wouldn’t be important. If we reincarnate again and again, it is certainly not to become more and more materialistic each time; it is to become more tolerant, more caring for others and more selfless. Making money or acquiring materialistic things would be even less relevant than we might think.
  • There would be no need for feelings of inferiority or superiority. In the spirit world, souls are divided into different levels but according to clients report, there is no sense of superiority or inferiority. If we are indeed trying to purify our soul there is no need to disrespect or belittle others in our current life as it is unlikely to help us in our quest.

Need for further scientific studies

Reincarnation is certainly hard to believe and raises more questions than it brings answers. However, I believe there are a lot of things that could be done to assess in a more scientific way whether reincarnation might be real or not. It is true that hypnosis might not be recognized as a scientific method but the following studies, if conclusive, would make it hard for “rational” minds to ignore the possible existence of reincarnation.

1.Hypnotize people from the same “soul group” and cross-check their stories. In his book Michael Newton explains that his clients all belongs to a group of about 5 or 6 souls that tend to reincarnate together as friends or members of the same family. Whenever possible, it would be interesting to hypnotize members of the same soul group and cross-check their stories while making sure no information has been shared between them.

2. Hypnotize the same person using different hypnotherapists and cross-check the story. Sessions generally last about 3 or 4 hours and it might be very difficult for patients to give the same amount of details in a different session with another hypnotherapist. For instance, we could imagine a study where a patient would be hypnotized by three different hypnotherapists; no communication would be allowed between them. The following things could be checked:

  • Whether the name of the spiritual guide remains the same
  • Whether the patient’s soul group members are still the same
  • Whether the patient remembers the same past lives

3. Hypnotize the few people who were able to remembered their most recent past life when they were children. We could start with people who were featured in books like “Children Who Remember Previous Lives” by Ian Stevenson.

Of course, a committee of scientists should be in charge of designing and supervising the study to ensure its validity. If the results were highly congruent, even scientists would have to recognize the possibility that reincarnation may actually exist. It is quite surprising that such a study hasn’t be done yet, or if it has, that we haven’t heard about it.

If you know of such kind of studies, please let me know 🙂

What about you? Do you believe in reincarnation? Who do you believe you were in your previous life?
Leave me a comment below to share your thoughts with me.

Recommended readings:
Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Live, Michael Newton
Life Between Lives: Hypnotherapy for Spiritual Regression, Michael Newton (more like a manual for hypnotherapists)
Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness, Chris Carter

Finally, for those who want to learn more about LBL (Life Between Lives) hypnotherapy, become a LBL hypnotherapists themselves or look for LBL therapists in their area, check The Newton Institute’s homepage.
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The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

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#3 What are the Benefits of Spiritual Enlightenment?

What Are the Benefits of Enlightenment?

If you’re lucky and the gods are gracious or if you are gifted with divine grace (use any theological expression you want), you might suddenly understand who “I” is, and you’ll never be the same again, never. Nothing will ever be able to touch you again and no one will ever be able to hurt you again. You will fear no one and you will fear nothing. Isn’t that extraordinary? You’ll live like a king, like a queen. This is what it means to live like royalty. Not rubbish like getting your picture in the newspapers or having a lot of money. That’s a lot of rot. You fear no one because you’re perfectly content to be nobody. You don’t give a damn about success or failure. They mean nothing. Honor, disgrace, they mean nothing either. Isn’t that a wonderful state to be in! – Anthony de Mello

This article is the third article of a series of article about Spiritual Enlightenment. Before reading this article I encourage you to read:

As we have seen previously, spiritual enlightenment requires us to get rid of our ego which is not an easy task to do! Why should you work so hard to drop everything that you believe makes up for your identity? Your ego wants some benefits, it likes rewards and is asking “What’s in it for me?”. See, it is already trying to attach itself to this idea of spiritual enlightenment and create a new identity out of it. It would like to be able to say proudly “I am spiritually enlightened”. Watch out!

Do you want to know what enlightened people look like?

In this article, I would like to give you an overview of some of the benefits of spiritual enlightenment. Just for your information, unfortunately I’m not enlightened and haven’t direct experience of it :-p

A good way to start is to use the analogy previously mentioned of the movie and the light projecting on the screen. Imagine for a moment that you are the light projecting itself on the screen. Can the movie playing on the screen affect you? No, because you are not an actor in the movie, you are the movie! You are the light creating the movie. Everything that happens in the movie cannot affect or change you in any way. I hope this illustration gives you an idea of what it is like to be enlightened.

The End of Separation

I explained previously that enlightenment simply means that you are coming back to your natural state. I also mentioned awareness. So what is this awareness? Different people have different ways to call it. I like the word awareness but some people call it “god” or  “consciousness” for instance. When people wake up, they realize that there is no separation in the world. Behind any single object or living being in the universe, there is this awareness. Awareness is one. Eckhart Tolle says that we are a drop in the ocean and at the same time we are the ocean itself. In reality, separation is created by our mind.

It doesn’t mean that physical objects or people don’t exist. Spiritually enlightened people still see people and objects the way we see them, but they realize and experience, in a way that they all qualify as indescribable, the oneness of Awareness behind everything they see.

All the world as we see it is awareness projecting itself to take the shape of people, things and any other elements that constitute the universe. Doesn’t it remind you of something? Personally, it reminds me of the Big Bang. If you believe the universe was created by a unique source of energy, then enlightenment doesn’t sound such a crazy thing to believe in anymore.

Spiritually Enlightened People Feel Complete

As you know, the ego always wants more and is never satisfied. One of the biggest benefits of being enlightened is that you don’t need anything anymore. You are complete and perfectly content with yourself. One thing that people have to understand is that pretty every much everything we are doing in our life is actually an attempt to reach this level of completeness. All our desires to be successful, to impress people, to be recognized and to be loved come from this underlying feeling of “not being complete”.

Enlightenment is simply the recognition that we are already complete and that we don’t need anything or anyone to make us happy. After all, apart from human being, what else in the universe is unhappy and feels incomplete? As the American spiritual teacher Adyashanti says: “You don’t find oak trees having existential crisis”. If our true essence is awareness and awareness is one, then the idea of incompleteness becomes totally irrelevant.

Spiritually Enlightened People Experience Lasting Happiness

Enlightened people experience lasting happiness. They don’t need to do anything in particular to be fulfilled. Happiness is their natural state. It is also our natural state but we simply don’t realize it because our ego stands in the way. Their happiness has nothing to do with the happiness we usually experience. It is not a happiness that comes from the mind. It is not a happiness that has different degrees like when you say “I’m quite happy” or “I’m really happy”. Its opposite is not sadness. There is no opposite.

Spiritually Enlightened People Are Never Upset

If I’m not a person, but the underlying awareness behind that person, how can you hurt me? If I think myself to be noboby and have no need to prove anything to anyone what can you do to me.? Can four-letter words affect awareness? Can a sword hurts the wind?

However, it doesn’t mean that they will never ever get angry. The spiritual teacher Mooji declares himself that he does sometimes get angry but it never lasts very long. Enlightened people don’t attach themselves to their thoughts and don’t dwell on the past. Thoughts and feelings are just clouds that disappear quickly.

Do enlightened people feel physical pain? Yes, physical pain still exists. However, the mental suffering that accompanies pain disappears. Pain comes and goes and lives no scars. There is no mental sufferings, no identification with pain. What does pain without mental suffering feels like. I don’t know!

Spiritually Enlightened People Love Everyone and Everything

Enlightened people claim they love everyone and everything. How can someone love a criminal for instance? I had a hard time understand that point but it is precisely because I was trying to understand it using my mind.

It is not like they are trying hard to love everyone or pretend to love everyone and everything. Love experienced by people after they wake up is unconditional love. This unconditional love is the by-product of awakening. It unfolds automatically once people experience their true essence and realize that there is no separation in the world. What most of us are calling love is in reality an attachment and a need for someone else, a desire for the other person to make us complete; NOT unconditional love. Here is a great analogy for unconditional love by Anthony de Mello:

Is it possible for the rose to say, “I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad”? Or is it possible for the lamp to say, “I will give my light to the good people in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people”? Or can a tree say, “I’ll give my shade the good people who rest under me, but I will withhold it from the bad”? These are images of what love is about.

Spiritually Enlightened People Experience the End of Time

For the ego to survive, it must make time – past and future – more important than the present moment. The ego cannot tolerate becoming friendly with the present moment, except briefly just after it got what it wanted. But nothing can satisfy the ego for long. As long as it runs your life, there are two ways of being unhappy. Not getting what you want is one. Getting what you want is the other. – Eckhart Tolle

Have you try to experience time directly? You will realize that you can’t! It is impossible for us to experience time directly. When we think about the past or the future it is always in the present moment. Surprisingly, the present moment is timeless!

Like separation, time is also a creation of the mind. To realize our true essence we must focus on the present moment. It is the only thing that is real and thus our only way to enlightenment.

Spiritually Enlightened People Are Fearless

People are not afraid of death, they are afraid of losing their ego. – Osho

Enlightened people are not afraid of death. If we are not the body-mind but just awareness how can we die? As the Indian spiritual teacher Maharaj said “Your idea that you were born and that you will die is absurd – both logic and experience contradict it”. Our identity created by our mind through our thoughts, that is, our ego, dies but not the essence of who we really are. That’s what people realize when they awaken.

These are a few benefits of being enlightened. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Are you ready to trade your ego for these benefits? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts on that.

In the next article we will explain why so few people are enlightened.

Articles in the same series:

#1 What is Spiritual Enlightenment? – Are You Seing Reality as It Is?

#2 What is Spiritual Enlightenment? – What is Preventing You From Seeing Reality?

#4 The Biggest Mystery of All Time – Why so Few People Know About Spiritual Enlightenment

#5 What an Enlightened Being Really Look Like – Debunking the Myth

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The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

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The Power Of Allowing – Stop Trying To Change The Reality And Embrace It

The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm. – Confucius

Are you trying to control the reality? Do you wish things were different?

Stop trying to change the reality and embrace it. Unleash the power of allowing in your life and start becoming more powerful and flexible.

Allow yourself to be as you are. Be more self-compassionate and you will increase your self-esteem.
Embrace your thoughts and emotions, let them flow and discard those you are useless.

See also: Is Meditation For Everyone?

Meditation For Busy People – How To Find Time In Your Schedule To Meditate

Why I Stopped Comparing Myself To Others – And Why You Should Do The Same

 

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How To Take Control Of Your Mind And Unleash Your Potential

In this video I share with you how to take control of your mind and unleash your potential. You are not your mind and you should control it rather than being controlled by it.

Your thoughts are the result of your belief system. Your belief system was consciously but also largely unconsciously created by the way you’ve interpreted your environment as well as what your family, your friends, the society or the media have been telling you. If you don’t like your current belief system who said you shouldn’t change it?

For the new year that is coming why not take the empowering resolution to create a new belief system that really helps you getting the life you desire. There is no need for you to buy into other people’s reality. It’s only there subjective reality, not your reality. Nobody should tell you what is possible and what is not. Choose your reality right now and start taking action!

see also: First Step: Everything Starts With Your Mindset

Second Step: Identify Your Limiting Beliefs – How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs

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My Book Recommendations For Christmas

Book recommendations for Christmas

The end of the year is approaching very fast, and you might already have been thinking about some New Year’s resolutions you would like to make. I decided to include 2 books that will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions in my recommendation list.

1. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Self-knowledge—especially of how we find ourselves in willpower trouble—is the foundation of self-control. Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and is teaching a course entitled “The Science of Willpower” at Stanford University. Her course was so popular that they have to move the room four times to accommodate new enrollment.

The great thing about this book is that it is supported by scientifically based evidence, but as the same time it offers practical exercises that have been refined over time by the hundreds of students who have taken the class and try them out.

This book will help you understand how willpower works and when, how and why you lose control. Just by the fact of being aware of all the traps that lead to willpower failures, you will be able to effectively increase your self-control. Awareness is always the first step before any change. Kelly also gave a great TED Talk entitled “How to make stress your friend” that I strongly recommend you to watch. It might literally help you live longer!

 

2. Superhuman By Habits by Tynan

When people learn that I write every single day, study a foreign language every day, work on my big projects every day, eat healthy every day, work out every other day, and maintain a consistent sleep schedule, they marvel at the deep well of self discipline that I have. In truth, though, it’s all just habits that feel easy. Habits are the closest we can get to having superpowers. Tynan, Superhuman By Habit: A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time

This book teaches you how to effectively create new habits that can be sustained for the rest of your life. The key is to start small and to be consistent. The author introduces many habits and how you can adopt them in your daily life. It includes habits like:

  • Positivity habits
  • Eating healthy food
  • Good sleep
  • Meditation
  • Working out
  • Organization
  • Cleaning

It’s after reading this book that I decided to create chain of habits. Chain of habits are when you have one habit that becomes the trigger for another habit. I was pretty consistent with my habits but I wanted to be even more consistent. Having a trigger for each of my habits allows me to do it more systematically and automatically.

In addition to that, I introduced new daily habits like cleaning 5-10 minutes or drinking green tea every morning.

What about you? What new habits are you going to adopt in 2015?

 

3. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

In the normal, mind-identified or unenlightened state of consciousness, the power and creative potential that lie concealed in the Now are completely obscured by psychological time. You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You can find yourself by coming into the present. Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be. – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

In this book, Eckhart Tolle explains the importance of living in the now. The Now is timeless. In the Now there is no past and no future. When we are present in the Now, we shut off our mind; we stop judging, we stop labeling things, we stop analyzing and we just embrace the reality as it is.

Are you often present or are you always lost in your thoughts? Why not try to increase your time spent in the Now when you are waiting, doing task that require no thinking or walking to the station? After all, Now is the only thing we have.

4. The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman

When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and he feels secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach his highest potential in life. – Gary D. Chapman, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

In this book Gary D. Chapman explains that people have different ways to receive love. When we fail to understand what is our partner’s main way to receive love, our partner might feel unloved no matter how much love we are pouring into the relationship. Finding how your partner likes to receive love can literally transform your relationship.

The five love languages:

  • Words of affirmation (compliments)
  • Quality time spend together
  • Receiving gifts
  • Acts of service (gardening, washing dishes, cleaning the house, preparing dinner…)
  • Physical touch

Do you know what is your partner’s love language? What about your love language?

 

My sincere hope is that you will start 2015 with new habits that will lead to durable positive change in your life without forgetting to love and to live in the now of course 🙂

 

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Myth #2 – I Have No Talent – Do You Need Talent To Be Successful?

Do you need talent to be successful?

I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. – Stephen King

Is Talent Born or Made?

The common reaction that most people have when they look at accomplished sports players, CEOs or chess players is that they are incredibly gifted. But is it true? Is talent a myth? Personally, I have never been a big believer in talent. Talent is overrated. I always thought that many people were using the « I don’t have any talent » leitmotiv the same way they are using the « I’m too old » or « I don’t know the right people ». That is, as an excuse for them not to take action, not to face their insecurity or their fear of failure and move forward.

Believing that you need talent to succeed is dangerous because it is totally disempowering you. You are automatically ruling out any change of success and banishing forever any possibility for ambitious dreams or goals you might have, to come to fruition.  The more ambitious your goals are, the more hard work, self-discipline and willpower will be required. Thus, only people who truly believe that they can achieve their goals will be willing to put in the hard work and have a chance to succeed. That’s why believing you need talent to succeed is a dream killer.

So far, science has not been able to identify any gene that would explain why certain people achieve extraordinary things while others don’t. Our view of talented people is that they don’t need to work as hard as “normal” people and that everything is easier for them because they are “gifted”. However, behind every masterpiece you will find years and years of dedicated hard work and sacrifice. But wait a minute, wasn’t Mozart a genius? He composed music at age five and gave public performances as a pianist and violinist at age eight. How amazing is that? However, Geoff Colvin, in his book “Talent Is Overrated, What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else”, argues that talent might not have played such an important part in Mozart’s success.

Leopold Mozart, his father, was actually a famous composer and performer and was very accomplished as a pedagogue. His books on violin instruction remained influential for decades. So, to begin with, Mozart was living 24/7 with one of the best pedagogue of that time. Leopold stop composing when he began teaching Wolfgang. It shows how much involved he was with his son education. He also polished Wolfgang compositions before anyone could see them. Furthermore the early works of Mozart are regarded are far from being masterpieces and seemed to be the result of imitating and arranging the works of famous composers like Bach rather than real creative works. The first work of Mozart that is regarding today as a masterpiece is his Piano Concert No. 9 composed when he was twenty-one. Knowing he started composing at 3, it means that it took him 18 years of extremely hard work before reaching real mastery. Even if he had talent, talent itself was definitely not enough!

The situation is somewhat similar with Tiger Woods. His father was a golf addict with a passion for teaching. He gave Tiger his first club at the age of seven months. Then, from age four Tiger was trained by professional coaches.

If we had been in the exact same situation who knows what we could have accomplished. A favorable environment (starting early on, having a great teacher or coach…) seems to be way more important than some hypothetic talent. The Polgar sister’s experiment tends to confirm the importance that has the environment on our performance.

The story of the Polgar sisters

“My father believes that innate talent is nothing, that success is 99 percent hard work. I agree with him.” Susan Polgar, Women World Chess Champion from 1996 to 1999.

Lazlo Polgar, a Hungarian educational psychologist didn’t believe in innate talent and made his mind to prove it. He found a woman, a schoolteacher, who agreed to become his wife to help him conduct an experiment. To prove that talent wasn’t innate, when their first daughter turned four, they decided to turn her into an accomplished chess player. They agreed to repeat the experiment with their second and third daughters. All three sisters, as a result of intense work, ended up being one of the best women chess players in the world.

  • Susan Polgar, Women World Chess Champion from 1996 to 1999
  • Sophia Polgar, International Master and Woman Grandmaster. At some point, she ranked as the sixth strongest female player in the world.
  • Judit Polgar, Strongest female chess player in history. She has defeated ten current or former world champions including Garry Kasparov or Magnus Carlsen

(read more about the experiment here)

I believe that emphasizing their talent as the main reason for the success of outstanding performers is showing them a lack of respect. Many people are not fully aware of the incredibly amount of hard work that is required to reach the top in any field. While writing this article I came across an article about Michael Jordan that said that what bothered him is how people tend to underestimate all the hard work he did to become an outstanding player.

Because I speak three languages, Japanese people often said that I’m smart or that I have a gift for languages. However they forget a small detail: the thousands and thousands of hours that I had to study to reach that level. I would study for hours everyday including Christmas, holidays or weekends. The reality is that, some of my classmates who studied Japanese way less than I did are now better than I am. Thus, considering the time I spent studying English and Japanese, to be really honest, my level is rather disappointing. Though some people might learn faster than others, ultimately absolutely everybody can learn any foreign language, be it Chinese, Japanese, Arabic or Russian. It is just a matter of how many hours you spend studying, why you want to learn that specific language (how strong is your why?), but also how consistently and systematically you are studying.

The importance of deliberate practice

It is not so much the amount of time you practice that the way you practice that matters. It doesn’t matter if you play tennis for 30 years, if the only thing you do is playing games with your friends, though it might be enjoyable, your improvement will be very limited. Similarly, if you do more or less the same thing at work every day for 20 years, even though you might be promoted a couple of times, you will operate way below what you are really capable of. After 20 years in the same industry you should truly be an expert in your field. If you are not, you should ask yourself why. Is it because you have no ambition? Is it because you are not excited by your job? Is it because of the fear of not being able to assume more responsibilities? Is it because you are not working on the skills you really need in order to deliver more value to your company and to your customers? Is it because your company is not supportive? What can you do about it?

What makes the real champions stand out is the way they design their practice. Not only would they work harder than most of the people in their field but they would also work methodically through deliberate practice. What is deliberate practice? It is a meticulous training that aims at focusing on the specific skills we need to work on in order to improve our performance. It usually involves a lot a repetitive work, it is generally not fun and it requires a constant feedback and a great mental effort. That’s precisely why most people are not willing to go through that kind of practice with as much enthusiasm as the best performers in their field.

Let’s face it. That’s also why most of us are stuck at our current level in whatever activity we are doing now. Sure, we enjoy very much playing the piano or the guitar, sure we have lots of fun playing soccer or tennis with our friends, but we are not willing to practice thousands and thousands of time the same movement, to run every morning or to work out on a consistent basis. We are not willing to put the tremendous effort that is needed to go the next level. That’s the reality. That’s why we are stuck where we are now. Not because we lack talent.

When I was in Junior high school I was playing table tennis. I trained several times a week and participated in many competitions. However, I couldn’t reach the first or second place in regional competitions that would have qualified me for national competitions. I was training pretty hard but I realize now that I was probably lacking deliberate practice. Sometimes I didn’t want to practice, I just wanted to play table tennis because it was fun.

Each time you are practicing something you should ask yourself:

Am I really working on improving my skills right now or am I just enjoying what am I doing? What am I trying to accomplish now? In what way does it help me improve my performance? By asking yourself those questions you will realize that most of the time you are not really working as hard as you could; you are somewhat pretending. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should not enjoy what you are doing, I’m just saying you should be honest with yourself and be clear on what you want to accomplish.

Examples of deliberate practice

How Benjamin Franklin became a great writer

Writing style: he made brief notes of an article from Spectator, a high quality newspaper, and a few days later he would rewrite the articles based on his notes and compared his version to the original. Then, he would modify his version accordingly.

Poor vocabulary: he rewrote Spectator essays in verse. Later he would rewrite them in prose comparing his writing with the original.

Organization: he summarized each sentence of an article and put them on different piece of papers. Weeks later he tried to rewrite the article in the right order and compared it to the original article.

Those three exercises require a lot of mental effort, are definitely not much fun, focus each on a specific skill and are repeated over a long period of time. What is impressive is that Benjamin Franklin practiced those exercises consistently while working full time in his brother’s printing business. Those exercises would probably still be very effective today, but how many people that you know would be willing to go through that kind of very tedious deliberate practice on a consistent basis? Very few.

If talent is mostly a myth what does it mean for us?

It is true that we might not become the best in the world in what we are doing and most of us don’t even want that and wouldn’t want to pay the price. However, realizing that talent is largely or totally a myth allows us to reconsider our basic assumptions about what we can and cannot do with our life. In addition to that, by understanding how much hard work great performers are doing, we might realize that after all we are not working as hard as we previously thought we were, or that we were giving up on our goals way too easily.

Real improvement comes from deliberate practice, from practicing the same thing again and again, from spending most of our time doing exercises that are tedious and not fun, rather than playing or performing which is generally the fun part. For that reason, only people who truly love what they do can endure such hard and consistent work over an extended period of time.

What about you? Is there any area in your life where you are not improving the way you want? Can you clearly identify what is it that you need to work on? How can you redesign the way you practice by implementing deliberate practice? How much effort are you willing to make to reach your objective? Do you have a strong enough why?

Leave me a comment below 🙂

Suggested reading:

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Geoff Colvin

 

See also: Myth #1 – Human Beings Need to Eat Meat

Myth #3 – Mutual Funds – Are You Investing Your Money Wisely?

Second Step: Identify Your Limiting Beliefs – How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs

The One Factor That Determines Your Life

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Myth #1- Human Beings Need To Eat Meat

Nowadays, despite (or maybe because of) the tremendous flow of information we have access too, many people still believe in myths that have been around for years and years. Because what we believe has a huge impact on the way we behave and on the choice we make in our everyday life, it is important to debunk some myths that might cause us to make wrong choices due to a lack of awareness. Here is one of those myths:

Human Beings Need To Eat Meat

meat

The irony is that many of us still think we must eat animal products in order to have balanced diets and be healthy. We still think heart attacks and high blood pressure are regrettable but more or less inevitable byproducts that come with living well and growing old. We think that the best we can do for heart attacks is to take cholesterol-lowering drugs, and that the best we can do for high blood pressure is take medication to bring it under control. These illnesses have become so much a part of the American scene as to virtually be institutions. We don’t realize to what extent our destinies lie in our own hands, and on our own plates. We don’t realize how powerfully and inexoraby our food choices lead us toward or away from these afflictions. – John Robbins, The Food Revolution

If you were asked whether human beings are carnivores or not, you would probably answer yes, they are. Or at least you would say that human beings are omnivore. However if we take a close look at our anatomy, it is actually similar to the anatomy of herbivores. (for more information see Steve Pavlina’s article Are Humans Carnivores or Herbivores?).

There are usually two main reasons to explain why we are eating meat:

  • Because we like it
  • Because we need meat to stay healthy

However, it is not true to say that we need meat to be healthy. Actually, researches show that vegetarians are healthier and live longer than people who eat meat.

Now some people scoff at vegetarians, but they have only 40 percent of our cancer rate. They outlive us. On average they outlive other men by about six years now. – William Castelli, M.D., Director, Framingham Health Study, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Nowadays, there are many ways we can substitute meat in our diet and I believe there will be more and more coming in the future. Once we realize that the second reason “we need meat to stay healthy” is actually a lie, we are only left with one reason: because we like the taste of meat. Then, the question we should logically ask ourselves is: “Does my love for meat exceed the consequences of eating meat?” It’s a question only you have the answer to.

Here are some consequences you might want to consider:

  • Eating meat has a negative impact on your health. “Researchers have found that the likelihood of a vegetarian reaching the age of 80 is 1.8 times greater than that of the general population – even after adjusting for smoking. And cancer rates for vegetarians are 25 to 50 percent less than those of the general population – even after controlling for smoking, body mass index, and socioeconomic status.” – John Robbins, The Food Revolution
  • Eating meat has a negative impact on the environment. By the way, if you are someone who cares for the environment, stop eating meat is the best thing you can do for the environment. “The FAO concludes that overall, livestock production is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, an planes in the world combined”. – John Robbins, The Food Revolution
  • Billions of animals are killed every year to satisfy consumer’s need. In order to increase productivity and meet consumer’s increasing demand, animals are living under harsher and harsher conditions.

Some people are offended because in some countries there is a custom of eating dog meat. I would say why not? Many people consider pigs smarter than dogs but eating pigs is still considered normal. Why? Because they are not as loyal as dogs? Or because they are not as cute as dogs? Because their meat tastes better? It doesn’t really make sense. (9 Ways Pigs Are Smarter Than Your Honor Student)

Peer Pressure – Everybody Does It

Most of us have been used to eat meat since our childhood and meat has become a part of our daily life. It is very difficult to accept the truth that we actually don’t need to eat meat at all. It is far easier to close our eyes and pretend not to know, or just to refuse to acknowledge the truth and enjoy delicious meat. Even if you believe you should not be eating meat, the peer pressure such as the way your friends, family, colleagues, the society perceive vegetarians, the fact that a large majority of people consume meat or the way being vegetarian could affect your relationships, will definitely give you the excuse you need to close your eyes and ignore the truth while enjoying your steak.

A Little Story Where You Are The Hero

Here is what I’ve been asking myself recently while trying out vegetarianism to see how honest I was with myself:

You are living in a farm where you have access to any kind of food you want. Nobody around you is a meat eater. Knowing that meat is not necessary and a vegetarian diet is healthier, what do you do? Do you go and kill animals yourself to eat their meat just for the taste? If you answer no and you are actually eating meat it means you are

1) An hypocrite not being honest with yourself

2) Lacking courage to face peer pressure and stop eating meat

Whether I like it or not this is the truth. What about you? What is your truth? How would you answer to that question?

After two weeks of vegetarianism I’ve been thinking of what I should do next. Knowing what I’ve just shared with you in that article, my mind is still trying to come up with many reasons why I should keep eating meat. It doesn’t want to see the truth. And it’s much more easier to eat meat in a society where a large majority of the population eat meat. Meat is available everywhere, everybody eats meat and I like it so why not? I’m pretty sure that as you are reading this article, you too are coming with thousand of reasons why eating meat is okay, why what I’m saying in this article is total bullshit. Everybody is eating meat anyway right? So what’s wrong with that?

Now, let’s just now imagine that 99% of the population where vegetarians. What would you do?

What People From the Future could say about us

I sometimes think about what would someone from the future say about us. I won’t be surprised if he said something like “In the 21st century people were savages. They were killing animals by billions while they perfectly knew that they could go without meat, and that it would even be healthier for them. They knew it was an environmental disaster too. It really doesn’t make sense to me why they would do that. They invented all those incredible technologies like the Internet that revolutionized the whole world but they were still acting like savages.”

It might not be a good comparison, but I believe that they could see us as we now see people who were living when the slavery still existed. It is very hard for us to understand how people at that time could tolerate slavery. People were as smart as we are now. It doesn’t make sense. Why would they do that?

Recently, I was happy to find that quotes from Leonardo da Vinci proving that he is as smart as me 🙂

I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men. – Leonardo da Vinci

Everything we do, say or eat as an impact on our environment. Living consciously means increasing our awareness and taking full responsibility for our actions. It is never an easy path and most of us would rather stay in the darkness than accepting the truth. Knowing new things might force us to reconsider our way of living and either make change that we don’t want to make, or not living in accordance with our values by refusing to make those difficult changes. Sometimes not knowing is just easier. What about you? Which pill do you choose? The blue pill or the red pill? Personally, I’m still thinking.

Suggested readings:

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World, John Robbins
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why, Johny Bowden
The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet, Vesanto Melina, Brenda Davis

See also:
Myth #2 – I Have No Talent – Do You Need Talent to Be Successful?

Myth #3 Mutual Funds – Are You Investing Your Money Wisely?