The Big Picture

Now imagine the pitter patter of little toddler feet bumbling down the hallway. A baby out on a journey! Everything about that journey is glittered by the newness and amazingness of everything around us. This carpet feels funny. That wall makes a sound when I touch it. But that feeling fades with time, unfailingly, as we begin to conquer the tasks that hadn’t once seemed so easy. To maintain that amazement state we crave to conquer more and more difficult tasks. And with time our mind aligns with the way we spend our time, climbing higher on the staircase than ever before or learning how to roll forward on the floor. A wonderful process blossoms as we make our way through a system designed to both challenge and represent our desire to continue learning. But for some reason this blossom’s loss of color begins when we decide in our minds to get a job. What is a job? Is it a socially decided upon way of converting human energy into economic energy? And economic energy for the sake of what? To provide us with more presents? Presents, we all know sometimes, just don’t cut it. What we’ve always been looking for lies behind the only place one would never consider looking for. The place behind the Irises is indicated by the entrance to the now. Only in the now do presents become presence, an all becomes a one.

 

The Mute One and The Deaf One

I honestly can’t tell you how the idea for this blog came to me exactly. It feels like it came from my friend James because we were talking about some deep and interesting things last night, but in reality I can’t say. As soon as the idea came into my head, it felt right. So here it is:

The Mute one and the Deaf one:

For a moment, I’d like you to think about your thoughts. What are they really? Well, we can be sure that sometimes they’re words, sometimes they’re pictures, and sometimes they’re feelings. Well for the sake of this blog, lets think of them just as words. In order for there to be words, there must be a speaker. And in order for there to be one who speaks, there must also be one who listens. Right?

DeafMute

So pretend there are two people in your head, sitting next to each other in equal sized chairs. Only the Deaf one has the ability to talk. So all the “spoken” thoughts you have can be attributed to the deaf one. It does all the talking. The Mute one on the other hand, can’t talk at all. Listening is its greatest skill. As the Deaf one rambles on and on, the Mute one listens intently. So intently in fact that it always hears exactly what the deaf one means, as opposed to what it actually says. “I’m so unhappy right now! I just want this thing I have to do to go away. Ahhhhh!!!!” the Deaf one may say. In which case the Mutes one actually hears, “I am resisting the present situation right now because I’m afraid of uncertainty.” Upon hearing this, it knows that this turmoil could be put to rest if the Deaf one would only embrace uncertainty. For it also knows that only out of uncertainty can creativity thrive. It knows that every painting ever made started with a blank canvas. And yet, there is no way for the Mute one to help the Deaf one. Without the ability to speak, what can there be done?

And so this process goes on, for our entire lives. Then one day, the Deaf one notices the Mute one is there, and voices it, “Wait a minute, you’ve been here all along? You’ve been listening this whole entire time?!? Wow, you must have all the answers to my questions… Do you? Oh gosh I hope you do. I’ve been struggling for so long, everyday in fact. I just want to know the answers to my questions!!! Please can you help me? What do I need to do? Can you answer all my questions for me?” In response, the Mute one smiles from ear to ear, and simply says nothing.

A thick silence lingers, like after a heavy rain. And for the first time the Deaf one stops speaking and starts listening. Being Deaf, how could it ever have thought to listen to silence? But there, in that moment, it finally hears what the Mute one has been saying all along. As if telepathically, the Deaf one all at once understands the answer to all of its questions. The whole time, the one place it never looked was behind the question itself. The way to answer all the unanswerable questions is to never ask the question in the first place. For the first time, they sit in peace, together. Over time, they form a stronger bond, learning to communicate despite their disabilities. Soon they realize they are partners in this life and begin working together. When stress arises, they tackle it together. When negativity creeps in, they work to turn it into positive and therefore neutralize it. And when wonderful, beautiful things happen, together they revel in the silence.

THE TAKEAWAY: I wrote this blog this way to illustrate the relationships between the thoughts we have and how to make sense of them. Everyone thinks differently, but in essence, we all have had the experiences of these internal battles. Often we don’t even recognize that they are happening. And so we have no idea why we feel the way we do. It has been said that traveling can be a catalyst for understanding these battles. “In losing yourself, you find your self.” Well the “self” that you lose is the Deaf one. When we are traveling in a new place, we are in utter awe of everything we see. We can’t apply labels to everything and assume it is something we already know. Everything is so new we are speechless. And so we are forced to listen and observe. This is the “self” that is found. This is the Mute one. However, upon returning from that trip, we often lose sight of what we’ve found. We go back to our routines, complain, and find fault in ourselves and others. The Deaf one turns up the chatter and the more talking we do, the less room there is for listening. We get so caught up in what we’re doing that we forget about  being.

Remember, we are human beings, not human doings.
So be it.

We All Know Nothing is Perfect, but….

You have a project your supposed to do and you spend HOURS AND HOURS on it. You continue to revise, improve, fix, and slave over it. When its “done” you step away and all of a sudden realize 14 other things about it that still need to be fixed. Ever been in this situation? I sure have, and when ever I have been faced with it I usually settle down and remind myself, “Hey, nothings perfect.” Well, that is precisely the wisdom I would like to expand upon today.

If you have the desire to be perfect (or near it) in whatever you do, and you know that nothing is perfect, then why not be nothing? Maybe that seems strange to think about or for some reason it doesn’t click right away. But when you think about it, it is actually quite simple. If you’re anything like me, a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, then its likely that when you set out to accomplish a goal or task, you structure your action so that you can finish as close to “perfect” as possible. So in your mind, you believe that creating a perfect outcome will then project onto who you are. However, if I followed that logic, it would seem that because I am able to write these blogs about complex things, I must be perfect in how I execute them in my life. Well I hate to break it to you, that’s actually dead wrong.

Which leads me to the crux of this topic: That very discrepancy, between the things I write here and how I apply them in my life, is actually a manifestation of the “nothing” mindset. To reiterate, I saw that no matter how well I can put advice into words, I still make those very same mistakes, even after the fact. Earlier in my life, I wanted to be perfect at everything I did – and failed at it relentlessly. In essence, wanting to be perfect is equivalent to living in constant failure. So why not do the opposite? If you want to be ________ (read: nothing) then there is no failure. And if there is no failure then all that remains is success.

eye am nothing

 

THE TAKEAWAY: This may be hard to wrap your head around, and it obviously has been for me since it has taken me my entire life thus far to put into words, let alone practice. But it really is as simple as this: if we view thoughts as tools, then having the thought “I am nothing” can function as a way of creating the resulting mindset of permanent and constant success. Think about the person who runs a dog rehabilitation clinic in a small town and loves every minute of it. They probably don’t have the money to travel freely, drive nice cars, motivate masses of people, or experience success in the traditional sense of the word. And yet, because they realize they don’t have to be any of those things (in other words, nothing) they are free to see themselves in their current situation as successful. Success and failure are really one in the same. Steve Jobs will be viewed of by most as a success for his contributions to the technological world. And yet, he will be view by a lesser number of people as a failure for silent conversations at restaurants – iPhones in hand, or for not taking care of his family (he had a daughter out of wedlock with whom he spent very little time with), and the list could go on forever. So I ask that today, throw out your traditional thoughts about being successful. Stop trying to be something you’re not – in fact, stop trying to be something at all. Try being nothing for a change. After all, you really can’t fail? So what do you have to lose?

 

 

 

Reconcile the Reptile

Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors’ lives were very similar to any other animal. They spent most of their time grazing plains looking for food, hunting game, and watching out for things hunting them. When faced with danger, our natural defense mechanism, the limbic system, would send adrenaline to all the most necessary parts of our body so we could do one thing – STAY ALIVE! Most other living creatures on this planet also have this system. Fittingly, the part of the brain that controls the limbic system is commonly known as the reptilian brain.

Now, think for a second about the last lizard you saw. It was probably sitting on a rock somewhere, eyes wide, unmoving except for its breathing. If you’re anything like me and tried to get closer or even catch it, its likely that it ran away from you before you could even make up your mind to do so. This example highlights two interesting concepts – First, there’s no way to reason with the lizard and tell it you are only going to pet it. It just reacts. Second, the lizard responds so quickly that we hardly even have time to get close to it. This is because the reptilian brain, which we share, is specifically designed to get us moving and save our lives. Nothing else.

What is most interesting about this is that we no longer really “need” this brain to survive. Or at least, not nearly as much as our ancestors did. And yet, its still there in each of us – always watching out for danger, listening for overly loud noises and avoiding cliffs at all costs. Unless we really are in a life threatening situation and need to protect ourselves, the reptilian brain doesn’t have much to do. So instead it helps us to protect other things – children, friends, possessions, ego – from danger. It is responsible for the quick hands that catch your wobbling toddler and reminds you to keep your eyes on your wallet in a dangerous part of town. It’s always there watching out for us, which seems like a great thing. But what many of us often don’t realize is how overprotective it actually is.

Have you ever thought about starting something new, a project or company, only to talk yourself out of it before you start? Right now I’m in the process of building a company from the ground up and let me tell you, this happens almost everyday for me. But recently after watching this TED talk by Seth Godin, I realized that it wasn’t really “me” talking myself out those things. It was the reptilian brain watching out for me – steering me away from potential danger. “No Jeremy, you don’t need to learn how to use that new program. It will probably be too difficult and take too much time.” But, what the reptilian brain calls “danger” is really just risk. And if risk is a situation where it is possible to fail, then the reptilian brain only knows one way to help us – convince us to stop taking risks. For our ancestors, risk meant life or death. Today, risk means success or failure. So what is there to do?

THE TAKEAWAY: At first, I was a little angry at my reptile. I mean, how could it do that to me? Constantly knocking me down when I was so close to succeeding. Encouraging me to stay in my comfort zone where it could keep me safe. Well, now that I’ve wised up a bit, I’m not going to take it anymore. My reptile and I sat down recently to have a little talk, we laid everything out on the table and now, we understand each other quite well. He knows that I only need him to help with matters of life and death and that I can handle something as harmless as a little failure on my own. Have you and your reptile talked lately? If not, maybe it’s time you do. Trust me, in the end it will be less work for him anyway.

Fresh Eyes

Have you ever been digging through your closet and found an old jacket you used to love, only to put in on and instantly remember why you stopped wearing it? In the time that you hadn’t been wearing it you aged, your style changed, and it just didn’t suit you anymore. Well, that is very much how I feel now that I’m back to the same routine. Although this time, its not that the sweater doesn’t fit me, it’s just my style that’s changed.

When I was living in Korea, almost EVERYTHING was different. It was hard to get used to anything really. From the cute little jingle my school used for their bell to the way people cram onto the subway, everything was a chance to change my perceptions and attitudes. Take this situation for instance – where I lived, pretty much everywhere you went was about as crowded as Costco on a Sunday. Now remove the shopping carts and that’s how I felt every time I went grocery shopping or walked through the streets. There were so many times where I got frustrated with a person walking in front of me because they were too slow or taking up too much space. And this frustration turned into anger – anger which had no reason to be there. It was my own doing.

But slowly over time, I got used to it and realized that we were all sharing that space. I wasn’t entitled to any more of it than anyone else. Eventually, I didn’t even get angry anymore, no matter who was in front of me. And now that I’m back home in America, I’ll be honest, I don’t even mind going to Costco on Sunday! But of course, there are still other places I’d prefer to be.  😉

THE TAKEAWAY: Human beings are habit forming creatures. We do this because it helps us to improve ourselves and our surroundings and it helps us learn! But the downside of that is that there may be problems in our life that are a direct result of our routine – and we don’t even know it! I was causing myself stress for absolutely no reason. And it just took stepping outside my comfort zone and breaking my routine to change that. These types of changes allow us to see more clearly what benefits us and what doesn’t. And then, from there, we can choose what we want to keep. Sometimes it just takes a pair of fresh eyes to see what you really want out of life. So go out there and get some for yourself! Happy trails.

Photography by my wonderfully talented girlfriend.

Fall in Love with Yourself

These days you really don’t see too many romantic comedies where the main character has this long drawn out battle with him/herself and at the end of the movie, stands in the middle of a bridge on a rainy day and says, “I love myself!!!” with an orchestra playing climactic music in the background. Maybe it is for this reason that there aren’t many of us who ever really come around to loving ourselves. Recently my brother and I have been discussing a book called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz and we came to a few conclusions I’d like to share here:

1. Virtually every relationship problem is caused by a lack of self love. When we are not in a relationship, we fantasize about finding the person that will one day make us happy because we don’t know how to be happy on our own. Then if we finally do find someone we eventually start to depend on that person to make us happy, but that’s not fair. Our happiness is our own responsibility, no one else’s. As soon as we start to depend on them, we place expectations upon them and set them up for failure. Then, when they finally do fail, we get angry at them, blame them, hurt them, and maybe even end the relationship with them (I know I have done this a few times in my life). And the saddest part of this is, this doesn’t just pertain to romantic relationships, this goes for all types of relationships.

2. The economy doesn’t want your self-love. As sad as it may seem, it is not in the best interest of mainstream media to help you learn to love yourself. The only thing that makes the gears turn in this capitalistic society we have are the dollars and cents that we put into it. If we suddenly all became perfectly content with two different outfits of clothing, a small home, and a garden in our backyard, then the economy would collapse almost immediately. Perhaps this really is why we don’t see any romantic movies about self-love. These days true self-love seems far more rare than its dual counter part.

3. You cannot love another until you love yourself. If you do not love yourself, then how is it possible to expect another person to do that? In essence, you are starting off the relationship with a MAJOR disagreement if you do. I think that this is the reason why true love seems to be so allusive for so many people. If we never learn to consider the concept of self love, then true love seems almost mythical. For me, I had to learn this the hard way. I had to make many mistakes, date the wrong people, hurt others, and learn that I must first love and accept myself before I can accept another. And it’s no coincidence that my soul mate learned to do the same at the same time in her life.

4. You are NOT your mind. You are not the internal monologue in your head. You are not your clothes. You are not your job, your friends, or your political beliefs. For a moment, please look away from your computer screen and consider the question, “Who am I?”

**********

If you started by saying something like, “I am a happy, loving, outgoing, man, friend, construction manager, scientist…” then you were not answering the right question. You were answering the question, “How do I define myself?” And these two questions are very different. When we use certain qualities, roles, or words to describe ourselves, we are limiting ourselves to what we believe those words to mean. For instance, if I say that I am a happy person, then does that mean I am never sad? If I say that I am a man, then am I implying to myself and others that I do not do feminine things? If I say that I am a writer, am I saying that that is the only talent I believe I have? Everyone is different in terms of how they define themselves, and that defining is the problem. The solution to this is not to define ourselves at all. We are nothing and we are everything at the same time. We are many and we are one. We are not our thoughts because we are the producers of those thoughts, we are the window through which they are shown. Ruiz beautifully depicts this point here:

 “You are life itself passing through your body, passing through your mind, passing through your soul. Once you find that out, not with logic, not with the intellect, but because you feel that life,  you find out that you are the force that makes the flowers open and close, makes the humming bird fly from flower to flower. You find out that you are in every tree, every animal, vegetable, rock. You are the force that moves the wind and breathes through your body. The whole universe is a living being that is moved by that force. And that is what you are. You are life.”

THE TAKEAWAY: I wrote this post today because I was sad. When I learned about how simple self love can be, it deeply saddened me to know that so many people live their entire lives without ever truly loving themselves. For most of my life, I disliked so many things about myself that sometimes I would even punish myself. “You don’t deserve a friend like that Jeremy, what are you thinking?” or “You’re probably going to screw this all up Jeremy, you might as well not even try,” are a couple of examples of things I can vividly remember thinking. If you can remember thinking something similar in your lifetime, then it is my sincerest hope that you ask yourself, what have you done for yourself lately? Do you love yourself? Your mind? Your body? If not, then maybe its time to take yourself out on a date and get to know you a little better. As for me, here I am after a long drawn out battle in my life, sitting on a bridge at the climax of my personal romantic comedy, saying (** romantic background music***) “I LOVE ME!!!”


Give That Which You Wish to Receive

Think about this for a second… What is one thing that you give and receive each day, all day, everyday? ***Jeopardy Music*** You guessed it! Air! From the moment we are born we begin the practice of giving and receiving. Then, somewhere down the line, we realize that if we give our favorite toy to the wrong person, we don’t get it back. And since we don’t get it back, we stop giving all together. Then, at some point in our lives we find ourselves asking the question, “How come no one ever helps me out? Why can’t I get a break? Nothing good ever happens to me!”

Well, I think it’s time we change that mindset. Today, I started reading The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler and one of the chapters focused on this very concept. I felt compelled to write about this here because this echoed one of Deepak Chopra’s spiritual laws from his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Give that which you wish to receive. At first when I thought about this it seemed a little crazy. “So you mean, if I want money, I should give all my money away?” Raise your hand if that was your first thought too… Okay, you can put your hand down… People are probably staring at you.

All jokes aside, there is a lot more logic to this spiritual concept than meets the eye. Bad people are often surrounded by bad people, and good by good. People that love money over everything often find themselves with friends who have increasingly expensive cars and possessions. People that give their time to charities and the needy receive some of the greatest joys from the experience. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, those who openly give their money to others will often receive such warm responses that those whom they help often return the gift to them in the form of friends, opportunities, experience, and joy – which are the basic reasons we want to make money anyway… right?

Since I have been here in Korea I have been a living example of this. When I came here I had no foundation of the language, little understanding of the culture, and almost no control over my life. For almost a month I took cold showers because I couldn’t read the buttons that turned the hot water on. With little else to do, I started pouring everything I had into helping everyone I could. Here, English is a commodity, one that is worth a lot of money. But instead of charging others for it, I gave my time to as many people as I could help… for free. In return, they taught me their language. In learning their language, I became a better teacher of English, and so on and so on.

When I first arrived at my school, it was a bleek, negative place. No one wanted to be here. The only thing I knew how to do was to emit as much positivity as I had inside me, and so I did. Soon people started to seem a little happier. My students were laughing more and sleeping less in class. I was getting to know students – receiving notes on my desk.

THE TAKEAWAY: I hope that my experience can serve as proof that anyone can do the same. As impossible as it may seem, whatever you wish to have in your life can be achieved. By giving the very thing that you hope to receive in the future, you are letting those around you, your God, the Universe, and everything in this world know what you want. If you give it, then you certainly deserve to receive it. So, give relentlessly and I assure you, you will live a life that is full.

2012: If the World Ends…

What if this was your last year on Earth?

Maybe your first thoughts involve looting the local Target or going skydiving. Or maybe the thought alone overwhelms you with fear. Either way, there is great value in looking at our lives through from this perspective.

Now of course, until my next birthday (which happens to be 12.21.2012), no one will know for sure if the world isn’t going to end. But in the meantime, why not use this thought to motivate us to do the things that we have always wanted to do. Let it help us get off the couch, walk over to that person we haven’t apologized to in years, and say what needs to be said. Let it motivate us to pursue more intensely than ever a purpose driven life. Honestly… why not?

Now, my personal theory about all the hoopla surrounding this day is not that this day will be the end of the world, but rather, the end of a mindset. This world is far too connected right now for ideas not to spread quickly. Twitter, facebook, wordpress, youtube, and all the social media outlets currently available make the world an open chatroom for conversation. So, I believe that as “Doom’s Day” gets closer, the anxiety associated with such a concept will cause the world to start talking. It will cause everyone to start questioning the things that need to be questioned, and great changes will be made. Those changes will represent the end of the world, the way it is now, and a global paradigm shift toward more positive living.

I know I’m definitely not the only one writing a blog like this right now even, and as the day gets closer there will be more and more. So I felt it pertinent to say that I am going live this year to the fullest, and I hope that you all do the same. In this upcoming year I will be spending eight months of it here in Korea. During that time I will have six months with my girlfriend, whom I have missed dearly. We are going to Thailand together in a few weeks. I plan on speaking Korean somewhat fluently before I return home. I will Skype with my family and friends as much as possible and make sure that those close to my heart know that I love them. I will learn to eliminate stress in my life by rising above the things that have held me down my entire life and live in the now. I will reread all of my old blogs to remember how far I have come in this past year, what I have learned, and what I hope to one day teach others. And above all, I will give love in some way to everyone I meet.

THE TAKEAWAY: It is my sincerest hope that anyone reading this feels challenged to live better right now. Not tomorrow, next week, or at the end of the month… now (there is no such other time). It saddens me to think that so many people go their entire lives without ever considering taking on such a challenge. I mean, I’ve heard something like 90% of New Year’s Resolutions aren’t followed through with.  So why not change the world by changing yourself? Every great movement in history started with a single idea in a single person’s head. So what is yours?
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
       -Steve Jobs

And the world will live as one...

Artwork above by my beautifully talented girlfriend. 

You ALWAYS Have A Choice: Failures and Strikes

The last few days have been a little tough for me. I have been trying to keep in mind the things I have written about, and hold myself to them. But last night, I failed.

I was at a bar with a friend of mine with whom I have become very close, Song Mook. He lived in America for one year during high school, so his English is exceptionally good, and he and I have found that we have a lot in common as far as what we want out of life and the way we view the world. So we have been spending a lot of time together, talking and playing pool at bars in our area, one of which we were at last night. We were sitting at the table talking about random things when he leaned in and said, “Hey, want to practice your Korean?” Immediately I felt something leap in my stomach like a frog that had just been rudely awakened. “Sure…” I answered, inwardly unsure. “I want you to walk over to those people playing pool and tell them we would like to play next game. Here’s how: eegan… tah oom meh… oo dee…” Before he had even finished the sentence, I could hear that voice in my mind telling me I couldn’t do it. It was telling me that they probably wouldn’t understand me, and would laugh at me right away for even trying.

Logically, I knew they wouldn’t do that. I was quite certain of it and, even if they had, should that really matter to me anyway? After a little practice and Song’s encouragement, I got up and walked over to the table. Waiting on the side, my nervousness reached an all time high. I felt like I was at a middle school dance again waiting for one specific girl to catch my eye so I could say that one sentence I was repeating in my head over and over. And yet, in this situation, even though that sentence was in a different language, I was afraid of the very same thing. “What if they laugh at me? What if they don’t understand me and I’m caught off guard? What if.. what if.. what if…” As their game came to an end, and my nervousness overcame me, the moment passed and they asked Song in Korean if we wanted to play next. I was so disappointed in myself.

For the remainder of last night, I stayed focused on two major failures. One, my inability to overcome my nervousness by living in the moment and two, the fact that I lost a perfectly good chance to prove something to myself. And what seemed to compound the feeling, was the fact that I had just written two blogs recently regarding those two specific topics. When I woke up this morning, I called my girlfriend and told her what had happened. And she, ever so eloquently, made everything make sense to me in one swift sentence. “Your failure wasn’t being too nervous and missing the chance to prove something to yourself, your failure was not recognizing how this experience can make you better.” She went on to explain to me that this situation in itself was practice for the future. The disappointment I experienced would simply go toward motivating me not to be so nervous next time and to study harder.

THE TAKEAWAY: Thirty minutes ago when all the dust from this conversation with her settled in my mind, I looked out my window at the sunny sky and realized what I wanted to write about today. We always have a choice. Every pitch life throws at us, we have the decision to swing or not. There is no umpire. No one to tell us we’re about to strike out. No crowd yelling, “HEEYYY BATTA BATTA BATTA!!! HEEYY!!!” We are simply standing there alone, and the choice is always ours. We can choose to look back at all the strikes that have flown by untouched, or we can choose to look forward to the infinite pitches we still have the chance to swing at. So today, I say to you, and to myself, pick a spot out in the stands, point to it, and swing away baby.

Swing, swing away.

Prove Yourself to Yourself First

I remember in elementary school whenever it came time to do a speech, half of the class usually opened with a line like “Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘courage’ as…” As a 9-year-old boy I decided I never wanted to use that introduction in my speeches because it sounded too boring. Luckily though, this is a blog, and not a speech.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘prove’ as a verb meaning to establish the truth or validity of something by presentation of evidence or argument (I hope I got at least a chuckle out of a couple of you there). I wanted to provide this definition here because the wording is very important to the purpose of this blog. As people, when we work out everyday at the gym, or play basketball our entire lives, or study hard at school, or work our butt off at a job to get promoted, we are proving ourselves in some way or another. We are trying to prove to those around us that we are stronger, greater, better, faster, or more intelligent than most. But there’s a critical error here: THE WHO.

Over two months ago I decided I was going to take a beginner Korean class at a nearby university to help jumpstart my learning of the language. So, in the meantime, I put in about 50% effort into learning new words and phrases, and began telling people that I was going to take a class at a nearby university. Over and over again I caught myself saying the very same thing to new people and each additional time something felt strange inside me. I didn’t quite know what it was until my carefully built plan crumbled before my eyes. I found out one week ago that the class was cancelled because there weren’t enough people signed up. My initial reaction was one of despair… but then, it dawned upon me. As I walked to school the next morning, looking up at the bright sky, I realized that I wasn’t taking the class to help me learn Korean; I was taking it to prove to other people that I was learning Korean.

Then I thought of how often in my life I had done things simply to be able to say that I was doing them. It was almost as if the social validation I got from telling people that I was “going to” do those things was enough for me to feel like I had already done it! Then I remembered all the books on my shelf that had bookmarks only 40, 60, or 80 pages in. Then I remembered the piano that sat in my house for years, virtually untouched, and the single complete song I still know how to play. Then my whole life seemed to unravel. All that remained was one, solid and solitary thought:

All I need to do is prove this to myself… after that, it is true. 

It seemed so amazingly simple that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it for my entire life thus far. But now that it’s there, it’s not going away.

THE TAKEAWAY: I think all too often we get caught up thinking that in order for something to be true, those around us have to believe it. And so we walk around as an advertisement for ourselves, selling our qualities and beliefs to those we meet as if it were Black Friday. But in the end, we are never really satisfied. Maybe this is true for you, maybe its not. Nevertheless, it would certainly be beneficial to ask yourself, “What have I proven to myself lately?” Because when all is said and done, only the things that you have proven to yourself will have any real meaning.

Hiro from the show Heroes

Be your own hero.