Comfort is an impermanent state of mind that humans love to call home.
What’s funny is that the longer we box ourselves into this mental house we refuse to leave, the more uncomfortable it gets.
The only path to true comfort is by reaching the level of mind that is comfortable with the inevitable discomfort that life presents.
The problem is this:
When people are faced with discomfort, their automatic reaction is to flee, not fight.
We may not flee from the physical situation, but we attempt to run toward the mental comfort of a past experience. Our mind wants to move even when we are still.
This creates tension, and unless that tension is resolved it stays around longer than it should.
The result of this problem is distraction, feeling “lost,” and getting stuck in a rut.
We don’t know what to pursue next, because we lack the clarity that discomfort provides with time.
When we are in this “lost” or chaotic state of mind, it’s impossible to see beyond the initial problem.
Why? Because it’s begging to be solved.
The mind determines how we interact with reality.
The mind houses perspective houses perception houses behavior.
From the top down, most people hold a narrow perspective that leads to a negative perception of a situation which dictates their mindless behavior.
The goal is to move through life with artfulness and grace.
That is, to be at one with the present moment regardless of how the mind wants to interpret the difficulty of the situation.
- Broaden your perspective by approaching life with an open mind
- Gain the power to accept situations as they are
- Reap the joy that comes from progress
You come to the realization that you’ve been sold a lie.
The conventional path is not the path to the good life.
To do this well, there are a few things you need to understand.
The 3 Perspectives
The space between expectation and reality creates tension that causes pain.
I love philosophy, but realized fast that theory has to meet practice.
Knowledge must be brushed up against reality, in more ways than one, to determine its validity.
A philosopher can intellectualize all day, but can they run a business?
How do they react when they lose $100,000?
What about when you start writing content, gain a follower, but lose 5 more?
Can they create, keep, and nurture a relationship?
Or are they just guessing about how to create a good one and promoting it as “the best path” to those that learn from them?
What about when their dog dies? How about their parents?
Actions must align with words.
An overweight health expert is a clear example of someone that is difficult to trust, but anyone can hide behind an anonymous online profile.
The best philosophy is that which is grounded in reality, and that is individual.
I want to give 3 perspectives to help you realize the importance of reducing the space between expectation and reality, concept and experience, and what is and what isn’t.
Expectation VS Reality
Expectations are beliefs, and our beliefs are often unconscious and conditioned into our mind as we go about life.
An expectation is a projection into the future.
It is the assumption that something “should” or “will” happen.
Western children are often told they “should” become a doctor, engineer, or some other high-paying job title.
Kids are told they “will” go to Church on Sunday, and they believe it.
Expectations narrow your mind toward a predictable future and prevent us from opening your mind to potential futures.
From this narrow-minded state, our perspective is limited.
Since our perspective is limited, so is our perception of the situation.
With an inaccurate perception, we often make choices that are inconducive to our ideal future.
And choices are important, they create your future one brick at a time.
Let’s look at the example of hot weather and a sauna.
When people think about going out in hot weather, they complain, because their expectation narrows their mind on a negative outcome.
When people think about going to the sauna, it is intentional. Usually in alignment with a meaningful outcome.
The reality of the situation is the same, but the expectation is different, and that causes pain in the former situation.
In a more practical situation, let’s look at someone with a lot of responsibility that wants to start a business.
- They see others with little responsibility flexing their business success within 6-12 months.
- They hold that expectation in your mind without context for their situation.
- They conceptualize why they can’t do the same and how life is unfair (because they have a job, kids, and a spouse).
They fail to face reality.
And the reality is that they did not hop on the opportunity to build a business when they had less responsibilities, and that’s fine. There’s no changing it, and the sooner you accept reality for what it is, the sooner you’ll be able to start making progress.
Because once they do accept reality, they can approach that goal from a new lens, a more sustainable one.
They can search for aligned mentors, education, and strategies that will result in the same success, but on a longer time scale.
The only other option is to become a slave to your expectations and never reach that goal, going about life knowing it’s possible, but complaining that you aren’t able to achieve the same thing.
Concept VS Experience
Concepts can only be created from experience.
The prime example of this misunderstanding is that of God, The Universe, or whatever you want to call the higher power.
Religious people attach to the concept of God but fail to realize that it is an experience. The concept is simply a symbolic representation of that experience.
The difference is knowing and understanding.
Concepts allow you to know, experience allows you to understand.
Knowledge is a layer on top of reality, understanding is an inherent aspect of human consciousness.
One an outward construction, the other an inward truth.
Concept is the guide that must brush up against reality to be experienced.
Reality is experience, and that’s all there is, if you’re paying attention.
People love to conceptualize because they can do so without moving forward in the world to solve problems (internal and external) that result in a less superficial and reactively emotional experience.
What Is VS What Isn’t
“It is what it is” is the most profound statement you will hear in your life, but few people realize the depth behind it.
Making a distinction between “what is” and “what isn’t” is a great way to close the space between expectations and reality, as well as concept and experience.
The present moment, what’s right in front of you, is “what is.”
The difficulty of the barbell in your hand is reality. The expectation that it should be easy is not.
The struggle of building a name for yourself is the experience. The concept of a fulfilling lifestyle in your mind isn’t.
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Now, I’m not saying that expectations, concepts, and “what isn’t” are bad.
The main problem are the negative expectations, the concepts that “know” and prevent you from action, and an inability to be at one with “what is.”
With all of these perspectives, the point is this:
When life is difficult, overwhelming, or you feel that dreaded sense of despair about your future, there is a dissonance between expectation and reality.
The beliefs, ideas, or thoughts in your head do not match the present moment that is unfolding in front of you.
And because you give them too much attention, they take priority over and mask your sensory perceptions.
In another word, you can clean your room, and you can clean it well, even if you don’t feel like cleaning it.
Feel free to exchange “clean your room” with any given activity.
Levels Of Mind
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. – Albert Einstein
Problems are encoded in the system and few people can see them for what they are.
Problems are what spark the gap between expectation and reality, and only once you can close that gap does that problem become effortless to solve.
But, in order to solve that problem and close that gap, you must reach a new level of mind.
We will define “mind” as how you interact with reality.
Mind, in this sense, is perspective.
Think of perspective as a field that holds all expectations, beliefs, ideas, skills, experience, potentialities, and the rest.
The broader this perspective becomes, the more you increase your level of mind, and the more difficult it is to latch on to one expectation, belief, skill, etc.
With each problem you solve, the perceived difficulty of life goes down, and your level of mind goes up.
The degree of problems you face is a prime indicator of the stage of personal development you are in.
And the degree of problems you can solve is the degree of problems you can solve for another.
Meaning, the more you develop yourself, by taking on an ever-increasing level of challenge, the more experience you gain.
The challenges you face will you require to close the gap between expectation and reality many times, and each time you do, you will be presented with a lesson.
This experience can be transferred into business, as products solve problems, so the higher your experience, the more profitable your business becomes.
There must be a balance, as you would not try to climb Mount Everest when you can’t even sustain a habit of 10K steps a day.
Live At Your Edge – The Way To Mental Mastery
As you open yourself to living at your edge, your deepest purpose will slowly begin to make itself known. In the meantime, you will experience layer after layer of purposes, each one getting closer and closer to the fullness of your deepest purpose. – David Deida
To reach new levels of mind, you have to encounter problems.
You can’t sit around, wasting away, doing the same thing over and over without regard for personal evolution.
You must live at the edge of skill and challenge.
As you solve problems, you increase your level of mind.
In order to solve problems, you must increase your level of skill.
1) Pursue A Challenging Goal
This is a lesson in almost every single one of my newsletters.
You need a goal that you are working towards every. single. day.
One that will lead to your ideal future, even if you don’t know what that future is.
I can assume that it involves a healthy body, abundant bank account, and thriving relationships (with peace of mind being the byproduct of pursuing those goals, not necessarily achieving them).
This goal will be achieved, and you will have to set a new one (that may not be clear for a while) in order to prevent and dig yourself out of subsequent ruts.
2) Remain Conscious Of The Present Moment Difficulty
What judgments, connotations, and words do you associate with the words “struggle,” “difficulty,” or “hard?”
Do they lead to compulsive thoughts about a stressful future?
Maybe they lead to a memory of a past mistake… one that causes fear to the point of inaction?
Or maybe a mixture of both, leaving you in a vortex of anxiety?
Again, these are but expectations, concepts, and “what isn’ts” that you hold in your mind.
They are not reality, and reality includes struggle, difficulty, and hardness. You can’t escape them. And this requires radical acceptance of the present moment.
3) Hit The Critical Point Of The Perception Threshold
If you have writer’s block…
If you’re 30 minutes into a 5k run…
If you’re on your last rep of a 365lb squat…
If you’re hesitant to post your first piece of content…
If you’re 45 minutes into a meditation session and your mind is begging you to check your notifications…
Thoughts and emotions will flood your mind, and “the only way out is through.”
You must train your pain tolerance because the magic happens when you stick it out for just enough time to hit “the runner’s high” in any situation.
The Perception Threshold is the critical point after a period of struggle where what was once difficult becomes effortless due to a shift in how you perceive the situation.
Expectations collapse into reality.
Concepts collapse into experience.
What isn’t collapses into what is.
This may take 5 minutes, it may take 1 hour, and with problems that aren’t immediately solvable, it may take years.
Chaos is a prerequisite to clarity, and clarity is the most potent fuel in this world.
4) Reach A New Level Of Mind
Crossing The Perception Threshold forces you to zoom out to a higher level of mind, or more holistic perspective beyond the narrow state you were in.
From this level, you can accurately perceive your prior problem and see it for what it is.
Not performing the last rep – that leads to the most gains – becomes “I’m being a little b*tch, push through.”
Not posting your first piece of content becomes, “If I don’t do this, it becomes habit, and I’ll be stuck in my current situation for life, which is the opposite of what I want.”
Deep satisfaction is the result.
What Happened This Week
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