On Being Alive

Yesterday, I drank a cup of coffee way too light into the evening and found myself a little restless as I was trying to fall asleep. I could feel my heart beating, and it was beating fast and hard. I was just in my bed, wrapped by the darkness of my room, quietly listening to my heart beat. And then I had a thought as I was listening to my heart:

“What if this heart stops beating and I don’t wake up tomorrow?”

Of course that’s a dramatic thought and I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but just observing and listening to my heart beat and knowing that it’s been beating since I was born without missing a BEAT like a true solider..  it made me think about how precious life is. If this heart of mine stops beating, it’s all over. And is tomorrow really guaranteed? It was a beautiful realization I had, and I really felt like it was a blessing to wake up this morning and see the sun shine through my windows.

I was reading the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris yesterday and there was a question posed in the book:

“What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?”

The book interviews a lot of extremely successful people in different fields, so this question was posed to these people to figure out what lead to their success. However, I thought about it and posed it back to myself – what are the choices I’ve made in my past that have lead me exactly at where I am right now? And taking it a step further, what are the choices I CAN and WILL make that will allow me to BECOME the person I will be? When I thought about that, that was an extremely powerful question. Because through the book Conversations with God, there is one concept that keeps repeating itself through the entire series – that life is a process of creation, not a process of discovery.

We’re not here to find something that we’ve been searching for. We’re meant to create whoever we want to be, and we’re creating ourselves in every second of our lives. Literally every choice you make is an expression of who you think you want to be. But the beautiful thing the book mentions is that if you don’t like what you have created, choose something else and create again. It sounds overly simplified, but it’s a fact that we’ve created ourselves to be who we are right now. For most of us, it was probably an unconscious act of creation. But we always have the power to create ourselves and choose again. I think that’s the beautiful thing about life – yes, life is hard and it’s harder for some than it is for others, but each of us is given the power of creation. And creation is not about what you’re doing but it’s about what you’re being while you’re doing. For example, it doesn’t matter that you’re a billionaire CEO if you’re not being happy, fulfilled, inspired, and driven. I think that’s what is meant by creating yourself – not the lifestyle you want or the things you want to have, but the highest state of being and feeling you can achieve in this life. Another beautiful thing is that all of us have different preferences and desires so maybe it IS that having a certain lifestyle and getting a bunch of things will make you reach that state. But it’s never the opposite way around.

Appreciate the fact that your heart is beating right now and even for just today, we can choose to create a beautiful day for ourselves.

“Life doesn’t happen in any other way than that in which we think it will.”

Dancing Between The Extremes

Today I had the humble opportunity to get interviewed for a local newspaper about a new venture I’m starting. I was asked many questions, but one question I was asked was, “What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?” It was strange to be asked that question because that was one of the questions I often pondered about the past few years. But on top of resourcefulness and resiliency, I said a successful entrepreneur is experienced enough to know how to dance between the 2 extremes of optimism and pessimism. What do I mean by that? I mean that ignorant and early “wantrepreneurs” have all of these ideas and think they can be billionaires just by having “the next Facebook.” However what they’ve failed to realize is that they’ve delved into the spectrum of optimism too much and have been blind-sided by the lofty dreams of becoming billionaires and having nice cars and mansions. On the other hand, once first-time entrepreneurs get a taste of “failure” and immediately dive into the deep end of pessimism, they think that their entire world is crumbling before them, and they fail to realize that they have more going for them than they realize.

A successful entrepreneur knows how to elegantly dance between these 2 extremes. Beyond meeting the requirements of having a good idea, assembling a good team and being resilient and resourceful, a good entrepreneur knows how to masterfully dance between the 2 extremes of optimism and pessimism. They know how to keep their head in the clouds but keep their hands on the dirt at the same time. It’s an elegant discipline of knowing how to control your temptations and emotions.

Gratitude

This is just a short thought, but I’ve been re-reading some books on spirituality and living a “good life” and took some golden nuggets from these books that I want to continue using everyday. One of these concepts was on the power of gratitude. I’ve read again and again that gratitude is the most powerful cosmic thought in the Universe, and it’s really impossible to feel bad when feeling grateful. I have so many things in my life to be grateful for, and in my position, I’m aware of it every single moment of every day. But one thought I’ve been having in particular is around how much help we are getting in our lives. Have you realized how much help you’re getting from your friends, family, strangers, co-workers, etc? It’s insane! Many of us like to believe we’re independent and are getting along in life as “lone wolves” but just take a minute to think about all of the help you’re getting in life right now. I wrote down this thought:

Thank you Universe for bringing all of this help my way.

What You Resist, Persists

I opened up one of my favorite books again, Conversations with Godjust to refresh my mind on its contents and do some light reading. I came across some words that really resonated with me:

What you resist persists. That is because, by your continued attention to it in a negative way, you continue to place it there. You cannot resist something that is not there. When you resist something, you place it there. By focusing angry or frustrated energy on it, you actually give it more life.

This is why all great masters have urged us to “resist not evil.” Do not fight that which is opposite to your stated desire or your preferred outcome. Rather, relax into it.

Modification is creation. Resistance is the end of creation. It firmly holds the previous creation in place.

Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more comfortable you will become.”

-Conor McGregor, UFC Champion

Since about 4 weeks ago, I’ve been trying to practice the art of seeking out discomfort. I heard from many different successful people that the feeling of being uncomfortable can be used as a guiding compass to help you identify the direction that you need to be going to become a better version of yourself, reach your goals, etc. Whenever you feel resistance in the mind toward anything, usually it’s your mind’s evolutionary mechanism to keep you safe (i.e. your brain rationalizes that “if you’ve been alive thus far doing what you’re doing, don’t do anything different. Anything risky = a chance of death). The quote that got me most curious about exploring this idea more was something along the lines of:

The thing you least want to do is most likely the thing that you should be doing the most.

And this rang true for me. Haven’t you ever thought “err, I don’t want to be doing this right now..” but in the back of your mind you know you should be doing it? For example, if you’re a startup entrepreneur building a company from the ground up, many of you will probably feel resistance in sending out those cold emails and making those sales calls to build your business. Your initial thought would be “this can probably wait…let me do this other thing in the meantime.” You’re lying to yourself in believing that doing something else would still be “productive” but the action  that makes you the most uncomfortable is most likely the action that will lead you to the most success that you’re looking for.

Another example would be a highschool basketball player that has high dreams of getting a basketball scholarship to go to college and eventually get drafted to the NBA. We all see scenes in the movies where these kids are shooting countless free throws in the middle of the night. But in reality, do all of these kids do practice shots for hours every single night for a year? Probably after 2 weeks straight, their minds tell them that it’s OK to take a day off and mental resistance starts to build up. But to get to NBA level of basketball mastery, you have to break through the barrier of mental resistance. An athletic trainer for the Team USA basketball team shared a story of how he was woken up by Kobe Bryant at 4:15 AM to do some 1-on-1 conditioning work. After training Kobe, the trainer went back to bed and came back to the court at 11AM for team training. He discovered that Kobe had stayed at the court to make 800 shots and never left. It’s ridiculous work ethic, but that’s what it takes for him to be at the level he wants to perform at.

For me, I’m trying to develop a “mental radar” where everytime I feel uncomfortable doing ANYTHING, I try to think about why I feel uncomfortable and then just do it. I feel uncomfortable going to the gym? I go. I feel uncomfortable sitting down for 20 minutes to meditate? I do it. I feel uncomfortable at the thought of developing more code for my business and making some business calls over the weekend? I definitely do it. At this point, it’s almost become like a game to me, and 9 times out of 10, I do realize that the things that I feel resistance toward doing are actually things that deep down I know I should really be doing immediately. I feel like I’m developing another mental muscle, and now it’s almost fun when I feel mental resistance, because I feel like my mind is helping me uncover a piece of gold that could really help me if I do it. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.