I was recently chatting with a friend about the current state of the world. In particular, a few specific aspects of modern culture that seem to be particularly noticeable in big cities like ours. People are postponing marriage longer. People are postponing committing to a career longer. And people are postponing moving out of their parents homes longer. At this point it all feels like a pretty normal phenomenon. For the most part, millennials are holding off on the traditional lifestyle our parents grew up with. Despite the fact that this pattern is happening nearly everywhere, there’s still a very powerful and strange pressure to have your life figured out at a really young age. Sorry to the traditional narrative but we are trending in the opposite direction, and that is totally alright.
For myself personally, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to have my shit together. It’s a familiar feeling I’ve had looming over me since the end of high school. Up until just recently, it was constantly jabbing me in the side, trying to convince me to do things I knew did not feel right. It convinced me to try jobs and lifestyles that did not turn me on, and it influenced me to make a lot of decisions based on the expectations of others. The pressure to succeed and progress actually put a significant delay on my headway toward the things I knew I wanted deep down. Giving in to this pressure obstructs the natural and agile flow of our lives along their proper path, and I’m glad I learned this early on. It took me a lot of life experience to realize what this pressure was doing to my success, and my situation changed tremendously when I chose to adopt an alternate perspective.
You don’t need to have your shit figured out. You just need to be doing something.
It’s a really simple concept that carries a powerful message. We all believe we need to have our career solidified, a well established relationship and savings or a home by our mid to late twenties. We’ve been told this our entire lives, and it’s not our fault if we give into this mindset from time to time. With that being said, I believe that expectation is pretty much bullshit. You don’t need to know what will happen ten years from now, and really, you shouldn’t. Anybody who requires that kind of control to be happy is on the wrong path anyway. What you do need is purpose. You need something to work toward because that is what keeps you in gear. It’s what keeps you level headed, and its what keeps you in the present. Purpose gives your actions meaning and it will ensure that you make decisions based on your values, not desires or fears. You do not necessarily need to know where you are going, only that you are going somewhere. Every bit of progress and learning empowers you to do better at the next stage.
As many people have said before, your speed does not matter. Forward is still forward. Accepting and embracing the uncertainty of the process is a skill in and of itself. Uncertainty can be a beautiful thing.
Whether we like it or not, what we experience during childhood plays a massive role in who we become as adults. Our upbringing in and outside the household creates our perception of the world around us, and shapes most of our habits and behaviours. Obviously this happens in school, in organized sports, and on the playground, but most importantly it happens in your household with your family.
I honestly believe I had an awesome childhood. My parents put a huge amount of dedication toward us being able to explore all of our interests and passions (big shout out to mom and dad!), but as a result, the one thing they weren’t able to do was dedicate as much time to themselves. My parents separated while I was in highschool. The one thing my childhood actually didn’t have was a healthy relationship between parents for my siblings and I to learn from and model in our own lives. It’s something that many people understand subconsciously through seeing their parents interact with one another while they grew up, but for children who do not witness this, it can sometimes be difficult to understand and model properly. This does not necessarily mean children of divorce are emotionally fucked up, it just means we have to do the real life learning to figure this out on our own. Learning through experience, observation and conversation. It’s a dynamic we are actively trying to figure out by working to be more self aware, breaking and recreating habits we may have learned as kids. At some point we all have to face the fact that we are a counterpart of our parents, and we are a lot more like them than we may sometimes care to admit.
Right now our world tells us that when we have children, they become the absolute priority. They are to become the end all be all of our time, energy and thoughts. Parents often place their hobbies, social life and even relationship with one another on the back-burner while working to provide for their kids in every way imaginable. They neglect their own emotional and physical well being and it really is quite admirable, though probably not so good for themselves. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what this kind of sacrifice may feel like, but I can certainly speak from the perspective of someone who watched his parents live out this scenario. I believe that at times, modern parents should consider embracing a slightly more selfish outlook than they may want to.
I am not a therapist, a counselor or a psychologist, but I do believe I have read and experienced enough to understand that the best way to lead is by example. The family sphere is no exception. The best way to show your children how to be healthy, happy people in the world and their relationships is to show them. Children absorb what they see between parents while growing up and whether good or bad, often remodel some side of it in their own life. The more I observe the relationships all around me, the more I see this to be true. I understand the feelings and emotions behind it, but I believe the cultural narrative of putting your kids above everything is not as healthy as we all assume. The best thing for your family is for you to be at your very best so that your children can understand how to do the same.
Parent’s, don’t be afraid to put you and your relationship first. It may be the very best thing for everyone, including your children.
I have always had a curious edge to my personality. Though I’ve been affirmed of this since I was a child, it was later on that I truly came to understand the presence of this trait in all areas of my worldview. This idiosyncrasy sat in the driver seat for most of my adult life, steering my world in every which direction, until at a certain point, the path became slightly more clear. My explorative nature fostered a tendency to delay aspects of life that many people deem important, though this same habit provided me with a vibrant form of clarity I may have never found elsewhere.
The self understanding that curiosity has provided for me is truly invaluable.
Taking the time to travel has humbled me. It has forced my mind wide open, throwing me beyond outer reaches of my comfort zone. Pursuing a list of passions has made me realize what personal success means for me in specific, and what genuine dedication feels like. A highly assorted work life has taught me the meaning of hustle, while demonstrating to me which kinds of duties cause me to disengage. It has shown me a new set of interests, skills, and exactly how I can shape a professional life that truly excites me. Dating has taught me which qualities and tendencies I value in others, which I do not, and how I want to act as a partner. It has shown me how to demonstrate strength for the sake of myself, for the sake of another, and how to let go of pieces that may not fit in my puzzle. Each and every one of these lessons has taught me how to move forward with courage and a ‘take action’ mindset on the leading front of my desires. All the while, utilizing careful discernment for when my gut has something important to say.
Experience truly is a moving force.
Quite recently I’ve began to recognize a set of new qualities in myself. I notice that I have come to observe and pilot my actions through new guidelines, ones that lack the ambiguous nature of my old tendencies. I see a path forward and what I would like to create, a vision I previously neglected to consider. I understand what red flags mean, while regarding the green ones with equal importance. Right now, I feel as though I am entering a stage I’ve seen many others arrive at before me, and I’m sure to see many others enter later. A stage I’m choosing to call: the crossroads of everything. It’s the point that lies at the juncture of confusion and certainty, where things suddenly begin to make some sense. I’m about to turn 27 years old, and right now, the world looks like a big ole’ oyster.
“I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.” — Olivia Newton-John
I started writing as a way to add credibility to my resume. Beyond a few published articles, I had no intention of continuing. What I wanted was an interesting work life, and my lack of success in finding this prompted me to search for new, self sufficient methods I could utilize to build my skillset. My first article was simply the result of being struck by a thought while spending time somewhere unfamiliar, and figuring that I may as well try something new and unfamiliar while I was at it. In that moment, the sole purpose of writing was to function as a tool for building myself up. A lot has changed since then.
Although I first started to write over two years ago, it was only recently that I decided to put forth a commitment to regular writing. My writing used to be absolutely sporadic, only occurring when a wave of inspiration came into my reality. Organizing my thoughts was difficult, as I stewed over pieces for ages before they were of any quality worth sharing. One of the biggest changes I have noticed since I first started is the actual improvement of my content. First, my grammatical ability has been amplified, but most noticeable for me is my greater ability to connect and articulate thoughts with increasing accuracy. These are just the ways in which my writing has improved, but there are things outside the act of writing that have improved as a result as well.
Writing is an inherently creative process. What I have learned is that creativity is like a muscle. It starts small, but grows with practice and new challenges. I was recently listening to a podcast with Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell where he states that the best thing for his creativity was having daily deadlines. It forced him to generate ideas and write frequently. This process helped him develop an instinctive ability to brainstorm and in turn, create. Writing often has enhanced my ability to think in new, alternative forms. In an interesting way, expressing my ideas often is actually fuelling my ability to conceive them as well. The “ideas” note in my phone grows daily, far faster than my ability to even produce articles. Adopting the mindset of a content creator has helped me break into projects that are beyond the realm of creative writing alone. It’s exciting. I now work in a creative industry and am now experiencing opportunities to work with creatives and outspoken individuals of all sort. It has become another source of inspiration and is allowing me the chance to get involved in new modes of production I have never experimented with before now.
“Every creative act, however small, enriches our species and the world around us. To find and nurture talent, is to be truly wealthy.” – Stewart Stafford
As a writer, reading and writing go hand in hand. The things I read and the things I listen to are often the source material for new projects. Books and audio content consume a generous amount of my time which, consequently, inspires the bulk of my articles. Writing more has catalyzed me to read and listen more. It’s kind of like a positive feedback loop of new knowledge and (hopefully) greater skill. During university I neglected books and many forms of reading. Endless amounts of school work shaped a personal belief that reading was always and exclusively a chore. After, when outside that learning environment, I found the absence of a learning process instilled within me the urge to find new ones. This spurred me to start writing and reading again, with the amount of reading increasing equal to the amount I started writing. It still amazes me how much my passion for learning has changed since my days as a 16 year old with an unhealthy obsession for snowboarding and nearly nothing else. Reading, writing, and vulnerability are all things I now enjoy and continue to have more and more fun with the deeper I go.
Writing started small for me and has evolved into something entirely different. I write often, I write better, and that’s because I enjoy the process involved. For myself personally, the benefit lies in the opportunity to be a creator. Before I started writing I only consumed. I read, I watched, I listened, and I bought. Everything was taken inward but I had nothing to reflect outward. The new ways of thinking involved in writing regularly stimulates the mind in a unique way that can truly shift our mental schema. I think we live in an era where this is becoming an incredibly valuable ability. Creators innovate. Creators lead, and creators mold their own path in a world where everything seems to be pre-defined and pre-destined for us. I began creating as an early step toward an eventual ability to avoid typical corporate 9-5 life, but many others do the same to thrive in that environment. It all depends what you are looking for.
From the beginning, I began writing to bring value to my situation in whatever way I could. What I didn’t realize was how much value this interest would truly manifest. Creation is an intangible skill that will change your life over time through repetition, through working that creative muscle. It can be as simple as knitting scarves for your friends or cooking new dishes. Finding a way to express yourself outwardly is something that needs to be taken advantage of and not for granted. Becoming a creator will alter and grow your mindset in ways that are difficult to describe, and this is not exclusive to writing or any individual art form for that matter. Any creative interest that brings value to your life is good.
This past year was a huge learning process for me. I realized tons about my personal wants and hopes, my tendencies and habits, and most recently, I believe I finally learned how to take complete ownership for my circumstances. It took quite a while for me to accept this in full, but it is liberating. As an adult, mature masculinity is a quality I want to embody and a self reliant mindset is absolutely necessary in achieving this. I want more responsibility, so I need to first take full responsibility for myself. The good, the great, and the ugly. They say difficult situations are the cause of true learning, and this was certainly the case for myself.
At a certain point this year, I entered a state of confusion. I lost touch with the centered and rational disposition I pride myself on operating from. I was beginning to question my long held plan to migrate west, and instead of responding to this uncertainty with a sense of balance, I was reactive. I changed the way I was approaching relationships I cared about, I changed the way I was approaching my work-life and I changed the way I was thinking about the future. In reality, I was beginning to question my own ability to make the correct decision for myself on a personal level. Looking back on the year, I realize the way this disorientation influenced everything I was doing. I was resisting uncertainty and the thought that just maybe, I should accept the possibility of changing my mind. In the end, I am glad that I did and it is all going to work out much better. That same resistance I was putting out was simply being mirrored back to me in ways I could not necessarily control.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor Frankl
It is sometimes quite amazing how much clarity we can gain when we finally step back and observe a situation from the periphery. This year I took several steps that I have been stalling on for years. I dove into new interests, opened myself up to some new perspectives and in the end, truly learned a lot about my own goals, passions, and how to take advantage of them both. My self awareness grew tenfold and I am truly feeling very centered again. I’m excited for what is next and this time, I will know with certainty how to maintain my composure. This year my resolutions are to take absolute ownership for my situation, learn a shit ton… and do some handstands.
A popular topic I’ve found myself reading up on time and time again is the law of attraction. What exactly is the law of attraction? It is the simple belief that we create our reality through our thoughts. On a subconscious level, visualizations and a host of other practices have the power to literally draw circumstances we desire into existence. It’s a complicated concept to grasp, but I personally know this to be true. This rule explains most of the things I have achieved and paradoxically most of my adversities. I am a firm believer that in most circumstances, we are directly responsible for the conditions in our life. Whether that be the result of our conscious behaviours, or aspects of ourselves that are a little more buried. Although I am an advocate for this mindset, I believe there are a few major misconceptions about this law that mainstream portrayals regularly neglect to reflect upon.
My first objection is that the the law of attraction is centered around what we are gaining. It is typically based upon a complete fixation on what we are receiving alone, and is only taken into consideration when we want something. The thought that manifestation is all about what we are getting at any given time is entirely backwards. One of the most insightful phrases I have heard recently is that “you don’t get in life what you want, but you get a reflection of who you are being”. This statement resonates with me on many levels, and coincidentally explains a lot of my experiences. It may be counter-intuitive to focus on what we are projecting, but this is the true method behind the art of manifesting our hopes and dreams. Whatever we focus on giving off outwardly is what will be reflected back at us. Learning to be happy with our current situation is critical in manifesting more goodness. Positive thoughts cause us to notice positive opportunities, while projecting negativity will result in us only recognizing and thus attracting situations we do not want. This concept applies on a very deep and widespread level. For example, being devious and untrustworthy will only manifest more of the same. Perhaps we will realize and assume that others are capable of acting just as we are, then causing us to sabotage our relationships through fears and undesirable behaviours. This phenomenon occurs in an identical way on the positive side of the spectrum; as we share our time and help others, they will want to return the favour and our relationships will grow. The principle is simple but often overlooked: focus on what we project outward far before focusing on what we will receive.
The second consideration I often see overlooked is the basis of the law of attraction upon true action. Many critics claim the law is pseudoscience because they personally are not seeing any immediate and noteworthy results. They typically create vision boards and reflect daily, and are puzzled when the world does not throw their dreams at them without cause. Aside from the fact that this overly critical mindset inherently repels our desires, the belief that the law of attraction is some mystical phenomenon that magically creates situations from thin air is absolutely wrong. The law of attraction is about awareness of what we are looking for in combination with doing. From this place of understanding our desires and the individual we must be to have them, manifesting is based entirely on the process of taking action. Action and action alone is what will create the circumstances we desire. Nobody who is truly happy or accomplished achieved this from sitting around waiting for the universe to happen to them, they created that reality. The purpose of reflection is to understand what it is that we want, so we can take necessary steps and subconsciously follow the path toward it. The law of attraction is not just an easy way out.
“Imagination is everything, it is the preview of life’s coming attractions” – Albert Einstein
The last and likely most significant aspect of the law of attraction that I believe is misunderstood is the notion of “letting go” or “detaching”. Although in theory this seems easy to understand, I personally find that it is the most difficult part of the law to master and apply in real life. The misunderstanding here is likely caused by the very definitions of the terms used to explain it. Detachment is often viewed as a critical part of the law of attraction. It is explained as the practice of letting go of circumstances in order to draw the possibility closer to our reality. In my mind, a certain aspect of this is inherently the same as simply being complacent. How can we expect to receive what we want if we are entirely detached from the outcome? In actuality, this is not the process this explanation is meant to describe. If you read a little deeper, the notion of detachment does not mean we are to become passive observers of our own existence, avoiding any form of pursuit. It simply means that while we are taking that conscious action that is so necessary, we are detached from the innate human impulse to control how exactly it is that the desired scenario plays out. We are not detaching from our appetite for what we desire, but we are letting go of our pre-picked frameworks for exactly how is it that we expect those things to unfold. This is how we allow circumstances to happen naturally. In the real world we do not get to decide how, why, or in what form our desires will be presented to us. Letting go is not about allowing the docile forces of nature dictate our reality. It is about being okay with how things play out despite the fact that they may not be occurring in a way we have absolute control over. We are not detaching from the results, but detaching from how it is that those results take form. “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”(Carl Jung) is a statement with so much truth behind it. Trying to control reality is a form of resistance that eventually repels goodnesses away.
I can understand why it is that the law of attraction is routinely perceived to be some form of phony wizardry. On a spiritual level it seems a little farfetched, but in actuality it is a very rational philosophy. My main critique of modern spirituality as a whole is that it often takes the power away from us as individuals, placing labels and outcomes on situations that are yet to transpire. In simple terms, the law of attraction is the art of mind mastery, and has a lot less to do with magic than it does about awareness. Thoughts are powerful, but action is critical. The key here is to remain open to the prospect that there is an entire realm of possibility residing inside the subconscious world of the human mind. We are connected to our outcomes in a very powerful way.
I have always contemplated what a healthy balance between time spent focusing on a career and time spent focusing on personal leisure actually looks like. For me, I have always thought this point was further into the leisure side of the equation, and focused most of my time on personal enjoyment and expanding my experiences (not that I plan on stopping). While time invested in this was certainly worthwhile and highly influential in shaping my current worldview, I am beginning to see the viewpoint from the other side of the spectrum as well.
When I was growing up I always enjoyed the challenge of playing organized sports. I was driven by the competition, and strove to constantly develop my abilities. It was an outlet for me, and always gave me something to focus my energy on. While this mindset was great for athletics and definitely provided me with some valuable experiences and skills, for years I struggled to find the same motivation in the adult world. In particular, the world of work. Perhaps it was due to a lack of satisfaction with my previous career path, or perhaps it was that I simply was not ready. Regardless of the source, work I actually enjoyed was something I often feared I would never find.
“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” – Nathan W. Morris
For quite possibly the first time ever, I am feeling really excited about the prospect of taking steps forward in my job. It’s a feeling that is both strange and new for me. I’ve found a field of work I find fun and interesting, and I notice my inner drive re-emerging as a new and creative source. For a long time, I looked down on the thought of dedicating so much of one’s energy toward “career success”. “Success”, I felt, was never the correct term to describe what I wanted. Instead of idolizing business moguls and the wealthy, I have always admired individuals who live their purpose regardless of money. The kind of people who are willing to pack up everything so they can live modest lives in surf and ski towns. These individuals make passion their priority, and from my experience, seem to be the happiest people around. It takes a lot more courage than you may think to ignore every expectation society has for you. In their own way, these people are far more admirable than we ever give them credit.
Deep down, devoting heaps of energy to a career is in direct conflict with many of the values I have always used to define my code of ethics. I’ll be the first to admit that I spent a lot of time doing my own thing and avoiding any form of job commitment due to a subconscious fear of where I might end up. I realize now that fear contributed nothing to my life other than to serve as a convenient excuse to let great opportunities pass me by. Fear does not create safety, it creates complacency. As I get older and more self-aware, I am beginning to understand the reasons behind my actions, including my new interest in making the most of my work. As counter intuitive as it is, my reason for this drive is simple:
Because I don’t ever want a monotonous job. I want work that keeps me on my toes and never feels “normal”.
I don’t give a shit about having a BMW by the time I am thirty. I do however give a shit about how I spend my time, and about having the ability to make decisions for myself and the people in my life based purely on what is the right choice, uninfluenced by external financial factors. I do not define wealth by possessions or big homes, but by experiences and freedom of lifestyle. This is the kind of wealth I truly seek. I am excited about my career because luckily I enjoy my job, but also because I am realizing where I want it to take me.
I give a shit about having an awesome lifestyle, and taking some time to build myself up is what will get me there. Progress is fun.
The human mind is an incredibly complex machine. Compared to our knowledge about the other functions of the human body, we have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to understanding the brain and how the world around us is constantly affecting our thoughts and behaviour. In the prehistoric era, our cognition was a tool for survival. Instinctual responses are dictated by hormones and the evolutionary psychology behind them. Each one has a designated purpose, and we are just beginning to realize the value in understanding these reasons more clearly. Brain chemistry is certainly a relatively obscure topic in the world of personal development, but the value in grasping how these primal processes affect our behaviours in a completely modern world is highly interesting and in fact important.
Dopamine is essentially the reward hormone. It is great for us in a variety of ways, the most basic of which is that it makes us feel good. It is the driving force behind our motivation to do almost everything. We feed ourselves because of dopamine, we socialize because of dopamine and we go after whatever it is that we want because of dopamine as well. It reinforces a positive feedback loop and trains our mind to identify good circumstances from the bad. In this way it is easy to see how valuable this tool was when we were still primates. While this may have been a highly advantageous trait thousands of years ago, there is a dark side to the modern sources and uses of dopamine in our lives. Dopamine is in fact highly addictive. It is the same hormone that triggers impulsive dependency upon drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or anything else. We live in a world where the use of this hormone is significantly less necessary than it was in the past, yet it seems to find a way into our lives through forceful and more frequent means than ever before. We are blasted with dopamine on a daily basis, reinforcing behaviours and thought patterns that, in actuality, may not be the best for us. In essence, we have become too smart and have outwitted the chemicals of our own mind, which struggles when adapting to conditions that were not present in ancestral times.
“A Happiness key: Maintain something to be enthusiastic about. Small/frequent goals = Dopamine hits that propel success.” – Steve Maraboli
The brain loves novelty, which in fact is the main source of this problem. We can achieve novelty at our fingertips, at any moment of any day, so we do. In fact, we cannot help this impulse, and our brain continues to tell us that we shouldn’t stop. Most of us, millennials in particular, are entirely guilty of this, but it really is not our fault. We have been force fed dopamine blasts since before we could even make rational decisions. Many millennials don’t even know what life was like before the emergence of handheld technology. I, for one, feel very fortunate to have grown up at the perfect time to have experienced the era before cell phones. With that being said, understanding how to utilize the behaviour of our mind to our advantage can be a pretty incredible tool. It is an ability that can help us become responsive in our actions, instead of playing the slave to our primal, outdated psychological processes. The research is out. Our prevailing addiction to cell phones and instant stimulation is throwing off our brain chemicals. These habits provide us with a constant series of short highs, resulting in a flat-line that is even lower than normal once our dopamine spikes come to an end. The act of simply checking an app gives us an unnatural boost that we slowly develop a reliance upon to feel good. If this isn’t obvious enough from personal experience, just take Sean Parker, a co-founder of Facebook’s word for it. Sean has come out publicly on multiple occasions to announce the dangerous implications of the feedback loop of social validation that social media is in fact strategically designed to foster.
A topic that is stamped as taboo and avoided in similar discussions is internet porn. The harsh reality is that researchers on the topic struggle to find ANY young men who haven’t had or currently do have a porn habit, so lets not pretend it isn’t a real issue. The extreme boosts of dopamine that this kind of content provides is completely unnatural and throws off the chemical balance of the brain in a scary way. Similar to social media addiction, chronic porn use is now being linked to attention disorders, low motivation, depression, anxiety, and is even being discovered to cause atrophy in certain areas of the brain including the region responsible for self-control. If that isn’t enough to scare us into reconsidering some of our bad habits, I honestly don’t know what would. There is a rapidly growing community of men and women who claim that removing porn from their lifestyle has in fact completely changed their lives, mental state, and relationships with the opposite sex for the better. This is mostly attributed to a rewiring of the mind in a way that it can utilize the surplus dopamine that would have otherwise been depleted.
It’s 2017. We are bombarded by stimulation nearly every minute of the day. Our over consumption of instant gratification and temporary validation is causing a skew in how we perceive a variety of processes that are absolutely long term in nature. Things like satisfaction with our jobs, relationships with others and the formation of lifestyles that we are uniquely happy with. Developing entities in our lives like these requires investment of time and effort, two elements that are critical to forming trust and security with people and circumstances. Regardless of what we would like to believe, all humans are primal creatures at our core. The quick fix may be fast and satisfying for a short period of time, but obviously it is not always good for us. The feedback loops inside our mind are designed to help us, and perhaps the best way to use them as a tool instead of a detriment is to understand how they work. The meta learning of understanding why our minds do what they do can go a long way toward shaping better habits and knowing which ones to avoid. In the end, I love social media and I love smart phones. We are living in the craziest time to be alive and it’s exciting. This technology is certainly able to provide us with some pretty amazing abilities, although I mostly believe in the intended purpose of it all: to connect us. Overindulgence in anything is generally not good for our mind or body, and this certainly applies to technology as well. Instead of being scared by the science on these new and surprising trends, we should embrace this knowledge as a reminder to curb habits that do not serve us any good. To consider waiting until later in the day to check our Facebook notifications instead of doing so the minute we wake up. To focus on person to person interactions instead of prioritizing our online social profiles. To take action, instead of dwelling on our lack of results. Very simple acts like these are known to be the foundation for shaping a new habit. By setting tangible goals for ourselves, we can flip the script on dopamine by using it to our advantage. When we see our end goal in the distance, every step in that direction will become a reward, with a healthy dopamine boost included. Dopamine is the reward hormone after all, and doing this allows us to harness it’s motivating potential. I personally believe that our thoughts are one of the most powerful tools we inherently possess. Understanding the little details of our mind can be a valuable insight when it comes to controlling our behaviours, actions and happiness.
If you don’t master your dopamine, it will become your master.
For anybody who enjoyed this article, I recently recorded a podcast episode on the topic of dopamine, overstimulation and how we can optimize our lifestyle to harness the true power of our minds. You can listen on Soundcloud, Itunes, Spotify, or in the embedded player just below:
For readers who prefer their content via the written word, you can find the transcription of this podcast episode just below:
Hey everyone. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the mindful steward podcast. I haven’t been at this for a little while now. Just been taken a bit of a break to kind of focus on some other projects that I had and I’m excited to get back at it. I have been thinking about it for a while and finally, just randomly deciding to record this little mini episode. I think it’s something that I want to experiment with is just recording little chats with people. This one’s just going to be myself, but it’s going to be just a little topic just to get me back in the swing of things about a topic that I’ve written a lot about on my website and on medium. And it’s just the theme of overstimulation. I think there are a lot of people in our world who are starting to think about this more and more. Uh we live in a society where there’s more stimuli than humans as far as we know, have ever come across before. You know, we see tons of ads every day. We’re on our phones for hours. We look at media constantly. Unless you have maybe a good old fashioned job where you’re working in a forest doing your good, hard day’s work and then you go back into a range where you actually are using technology again. And I’m not bashing that. I think that’s awesome. I remember when I spent a lot of time up North working your mind ends up so clear from being detached from those things, but yeah, unless you’re doing that kind of work, you probably live in a scenario somewhat like myself where I live in a big city and I’m constantly looking at my phone and I work on a computer and unless I take diligent, you know, actions and I’m very careful about what I let into my brain, I guess. There’s a lot of impact that this actually has on our lives that I think a lot of people might not consider. Some of you are maybe just as deep as I am, but I just have a really keen interest in psychology and that’s really what brought me to meditation. And mindfulness in the first place. So I’ve been kind of contemplating having this recorded for a little while now, but I was recently listening to a YouTube video from a guy named Aangel and it’s mostly male oriented content, which I love. I think there’s a lot of a lack of men teaching other men how to be powerful and masculine and you know, a manly way. I think those are really how us guys feel confident and happy and actually progress in a way that makes us feel constructive and you know, confident. So I love his content, but I think if you’re a woman you might not necessarily view it the same way that I do, but regardless he put out similar to maybe what I’m doing now, but it just a little episode talking about how he recently learned the biggest lesson that he’s come across in a long time. And he just mentioned one quote that really kind of struck me and made me want to record this. And it was that basically if you don’t spend enough time alone focusing on yourself and not only yourself, but literally just in solitude, where you can kind of listen to the thoughts in your mind and listen to your intuition and get kind of in touch with that, then probably what you’re doing is just consuming and consuming and consuming content and you know, substances and people who are outside of you. And not only does that just create a habit of craving external things and it craving external validation to kind of fulfill yourself. It actually makes you become a product of your environment because you become shaped by all the things that you are viewing and watching and you become what are the biggest influences in your life. So for everyone who’s watching dramatic, like gossip TV and I don’t know, which is stressful and highly intense, you know, just be aware of like what you’re internalizing with with that, you know I’m not perfect.
So this is like, my content is never to preach. This is just me on my journey of discovering all these things and contemplating all of them. But I think that is such a powerful thought in general. It’s just like, what are you consuming? What, what kind of friendships are you partaking in? Cause you’re, it’s like that old quote from, I can’t even remember who it’s from. It might be Marcus Aurelius or someone along somebody from that time, but that you are basically the culmination of the five to 10 people that you spend the most time with. And it’s a similar notion to that. But I think this thought is just a really cool concept to debate and consider when it comes to all of this new science around literally overstimulation and what it does to the human brain on a physical capacity. So I’m not a scientist here. I have heard this and read this and listen to many audio books that talk about this phenomenon, but in our world, we, you know, we consume Instagram and we consume all these, these platforms and social media platforms. And what we’re not really considering is that on the other end, it over at the Facebook office, I don’t know this for sure, but you know there’s a lot of people that came out of the company saying this, you know, they have a team of psychologists over there devising plans and you know, evil structures of how exactly they’re going to make their buttons look and how they’re going to make this the sound. Um what the sound is going to be when a notification pops up on your screen while you’re on the platform out. Every little thing is like studied and calculated so that it’s more addictive for the human mind. And what that does for the human mind is it gives us these men, these boosts of serotonin and dopamine and in an unnatural way. So what that ends up doing for the human mind is it, it causes it to go out of balance. And this is something that I’m not going to go into the whole porn thing, but let’s be realistic. You know, it’s a topic that a lot of people don’t want to face and look at seriously, cause it’s so taboo. But it’s a huge situation in our society where tons and tons of men are, you know, wasting their masculine energy by just watching porn. And it’s the same thing.
You know, these men get in a mass- well I’m, there are women as well, but they get a massive boost of testosterone. Oh, I mean, I don’t know if it’s a boost of testosterone. I think it’s a use of testosterone, probably not the best to use, but they got a massive boost, like an unnatural boost of, of like brain chemicals that, you know, even oftentimes like normal sex doesn’t even provide that. And what it does is like, it creates an addiction in the brain, just like heroin, just like some really scary substances do.
So yeah, I kinda came across a bunch of men, a bunch of content about men who were, you know, boycotting porn because it was making them feel amazing. They, they basically, you know, if you’re a guy who’s come across this content, you know what I’m talking about, these guys say that they feel like Superman compared to who they used to feel like when they were watching porn. So yeah, I really like dove into that. And then the overstimulation interest kind of has expanded as well. But yeah, I mean we spend a lot of time on social media and what that is doing is it’s causing a lot of things within the human brand as well. You know, the addictions though, the out of balance brain chemicals, you know, healthy, balanced minds in a natural way don’t have mental issues quite the same to the way that we are seeing in society right now. And in particular in the younger individuals who are actually growing up with social media every day, it’s like a really normal thing every hour of their day is spent on or involved in social media or thinking about it. And it’s, I dunno, is it a coincidence that we’re seeing a generation that has the highest rates of anxiety and depression and, and are taking pharmaceuticals at a young age to try and put their brains back in homeostasis or into balance, whatever you, whatever terminology you want to use. To me that’s a really scary thought and yeah, too.
So I’m not gonna dive too much into one particular topic of this, but one of the things that really has kind of really intrigued to me is this concept of hypofrontality. So not only do these platforms really trigger, you know, a adverse side effects mentally, they, and by the way like these are, these things have been researched. I’m not just kind of drawing conclusions. I wish I was sitting here with all the resources I’ve ever came across so that I could reference them for those you know, reference people who need that kind of information. But yeah, like these things like anxiety, depression, ADHD, these things are all being linked back to overstimulation. So they’re being linked directly to porn hours spent on social media. The specifically more addicting social media platforms. And this is due to the phenomenon of hypofrontality partially. What these platforms do and these bursts of brain chemicals and this like need for instant validation that we are trained to require. It’s basically, it’s lowering the strength so of our frontal lobe and hypofrontality is like, you know, your frontal lobe is not as, I wish I knew the brand terminology here as well. Again, I’m not really, this is something I’m just on the fly wanting to talk about, but there’s, there’s a specific terminology. I think it’s that the, the activity in your frontal lobe is much less pronounced. Either that or it’s something along the lines of all a healthy brain has activity kind of sparking all around it. And people who are more addicted to social media or who are overstimulated tend to have more action just in the frontal lobe. I think that might be the case. And so, yeah, I mean it’s, it’s literally training the, the physiology or the, the, you know, the makeup and the way that our brains are structured, the way that we are consuming consuming things in our world.
And so I’ve, I’ve recently really come across, this is literally where my, my giant interest in meditation has emerged. I’ve kind of really realized that through reading I haven’t realized I’ve learned. And now I’m experiencing it firsthand, which is really why I’ve, I’ve dove and dove in for like headfirst. But you know, if you’re a skinny person because you maybe have an exercise a whole lot in your life, and then you start going to the gym and lifting very heavy weights and eating well, your muscles grow. And what those bigger muscles on your arms enable you to do is to lift up heavier objects and to feel less stress and less strain on your joints as you are doing. So meditation, whereas people think of it as just sitting down to distress and to relax. It does do that. It trains you on how to kind of create that state for yourself, which is a good enough thing on its own. But what it does is it is actually strengthening the parts of your mind. It’s strengthening the relaxation centers of your mind. It’s strengthening the empathy and compassion centers of your mind. If you’re doing like an empathy based meditation if you’re visualizing yourself being confident and solid and having all the things that you want while you meditate, it’s strengthening those parts of your brain. It’s actually doing what lifting weights does for the body. If you’re eating well, and I’m assuming, you know, you gotta be consuming the right nutrients, your body, every cell, the cells are literally making themselves up and duplicating based on what you’re eating and putting in it. So of course that there’s a nutritional aspect to this part as well. But within the brain when you have a regular regimen of meditating, it’s not a short term thing. Like I once believed where we basically, you know, meditate to calm down in that moment because we’re stressed out in that moment. It’s the longterm game. Whereas when you can focus on being mindful and if you do it daily I mean, I don’t know how long it actually takes. I personally have been told in the books that I’ve read that you know, ideally you want to do a daily, what is 15 minutes of your life to literally strengthen the parts of your brain that give you the, the things that you want in your life. You know, everything comes from your thoughts, the way that you look at the world. It’s just kind of a notion I’ve really, really thought about recently. But to get back to the point here, meditation, being mindful, you know, taking time to de stimulate yourself. Strength thins up those parts of your brain, you know, they thicken the gray matter within your cortex. So what next time you have a stressful moment. Not only do you have you practiced, de-stressing your brain is more resilient to that stress. Instead of it automatically going, Oh shit, I can’t handle this. It probably is going to take a little more of a relaxed approach where, and just kind of help you out in that situation. So overstimulation in general is something that I think let’s all just be a little bit more conscious of it. But yeah, I mean, it’s not one of those things that is to be shrugged aside. It’s something that is actually impacting us quite a lot. One thing that initially I wanted to record this podcast when Instagram removed the like accounts. So I don’t know if anyone else saw it this way, but this is what some of my favorite kind of psychologist and mindfulness teachers who I follow were basically preaching. Was that okay? Have you noticed that these platforms are starting to be forced to restructure the way that they appear?
To the average user? One thing that one of my friends said to me a few years ago was, you know, he took a break from social media for I think only two or three weeks, and he said it was the best he had felt since registering for Facebook. And it’s this, it’s a common theme. You know, what he said was, you know what, like I read a little bit after that you know, I saw an article in the newspaper, I was reading more, obviously being more productive, came across this cool content and it said it was talking about basically all these psychological things that I just was kind of spewing in a little bit of an unorganized fashion a few minutes ago. But he basically said, yeah, you know, I didn’t really realize like what it, what it does, like why it’s making you feel that way, why you like feel addicted and like you need to check your Facebook feed constantly. But I genuinely think that social media is going to be like what cigarettes were 70 years ago. You know, you would talk to your grandparents and they would say, Hey, of course I smoked, we all smoked. It was fun and it felt good and like we didn’t know that it was bad. Nobody thought that it was bad. Everyone did it. And he just kind of said that spontaneously. I brought it up with him a few months ago. He didn’t even remember saying it, but it stuck in my brain. And that is basically what we’re going through right now. The psychology, the science is coming out about how damaging these these platforms offer our minds, how damaging being overstimulated in general is for our minds. And this is just Instagram trying to cover their ass. If you ask me, they know they just, they’re starting to know that the jig is up. You know, society is catching on. This is one of the awesome things about living in a sharing economy where the internet is unpatrolled. It’s kind of a beautiful thing. You know, the people just can’t get away with things forever. So we know what’s going on now and it’s just kind of a cool thing to think that we don’t have to be the slave to these systems or anything. That might’ve been a little bit of an aggressive way to put it. But you know, being mindful of how much we stimulate ourselves.
It’s been said time and time again that we only have a certain amount of mental capacity in a day. Mental energy to be, to be like utilizing and putting towards things. So there’s a lot of people who have basically tried to create models for living because you know, if you have your models for living set in stone, then it gives you, it then decisions take less energy out of your mind and you can feel calm and relaxed. And this is where a lot of, you know, value systems show up in our society in general. It gives people that ability to be calm and know that they can make decisions on their own and with, with ease. And that’s kind of what I think mindfulness is in its own way. It’s just, okay, take the time for yourself, you know, listen to your own internal dialogue from time to time. If you are someone like me, I love a high paced, fast paced lifestyle, I should say. You know I’m an introverted person. I love my alone time. I love taking those moments for myself and I prioritize that. But not only that, like I live downtown Toronto where I feel like I’m constantly socializing socially, working on projects like this, socially connecting with like minded people very often. And I’m also like very active. I don’t have much time on the side to chill out, but taking 15 minutes twice a day to meditate has literally changed my life out. I don’t think I felt stress in like six months, more than maybe three times. And yeah, I mean I still battle with it. You know, I go on Instagram and I love the visual aspect of it. It really sucks me in, I’m get quite addicted to it to be totally honest. And I’ll just go on a bender for like a week and then fully deactivate it for another week or two or deleted off my phone for weeks at a time. All my friends kind of know this and it’s a classic complaint to me from them when I don’t answer their messages or anything. But yeah, like I just find that I need to do that. It keeps me very sane. It keeps me very, it keeps me much sharper. And I feel a lot better when I don’t even look at that. I feel much more present. And I think that’s really what the whole point of it all is, is to be more present so that we can all enjoy what’s going on in the moment right in front of us and be the best in those moments. Because, you know, we want to be the best for the people around us. We want to make the most impact in our lives so that we can get the most value out of it and be appreciated the most that we can. At least that’s what it is for me. So this is my little rant about overstimulation. I don’t think I’m going to re listen to this again because it’s the first time I’ve spoken on the mic and maybe four months, I’m just going to post it and you can send me a message and let me know what you think of it.
But in the meantime, I’m really putting a lot more focus onto my website. I’m kind of realizing that I’m starting to rank higher and higher with Google and there’s a good opportunity for me there. So some of the writing I’ve been doing I’m planning on revamping that up and I’ve got a whole bunch of people who I really want to interview that I just, I’ve been occupied with other things, not really thinking about it. Now I’m kind of looking at how good of an opportunity this is to have some cool episodes on the podcast. So I’m going to be posting some new guided meditations with Michelle lb and a new ebook. I’m going to be redoing my ebook actually that’s on there. So if you want to get some resources, I had these meditations recorded with my friend max who I had an episode with. He’s a professional producer. They’re honestly super good. So go ahead and sign up for the email newsletter. They’re not up yet, but I’m going to send a wave to everyone who’s on there with the new ones as soon as they are. So don’t rush. No need to rush. But that’s what’s going on. Thanks for checking This episode and I’ll talk to you later.
I started writing in a journal regularly a little over a year ago. Before that time I had read repeatedly about the benefits of documenting one’s thoughts, but I never found enough inspiration to begin. I started journalling as a resource to help keep me sane during a long summer of treeplanting up north. Working in an isolated place for such a timespan nearly drove me insane, and writing about my experiences daily helped me finish the contract.
Nowadays I journal as often as I can. I would like to say I do every day, but it ends up being more like a few times a week. I write for much different reasons than before, but I now truly see the value in doing so. My journal has become the creative grounds where I can reflect, ponder and bounce ideas around in my own head. Reading and writing regularly has contributed to a drastic improvement in my written communication skills, which is now beginning to help me progress in my career as well. The simple act of writing down a thought gives me a chance to contemplate and question it, and decide whether it is even rational. It is a valuable form of self reflection that helps me keep my actions in alignment with my vision, thus creating guidelines for how I want to live. I used to think that living with such defined standards was detrimental to being happy, but I now realize that is wrong. Being aware of personal needs and standards is actually a liberating concept. I believe it helps us become more comfortable with uncertainty and the prospect of making decisions. We are able to remain assured that we know what will be best for us. Having a defined set of values ensures that we base our choices on our own greater source, and not simply on how we feel in any given instance. If we do not define our own boundaries, other people tend to do it for us. We become more susceptible to doing things for external reasons and not for ourselves. For example, as I get older I notice myself becoming picky about who I spend my time with. I have too much going on to waste my most valuable resource in ways I don’t care about. I want to spend my time with people who bring a positive influence to my life so that I can simultaneously focus on my own vision of an ideal lifestyle. Remaining consciously aware of these values helps me prioritize them, and makes it easier to dismiss situations that do not align. Possessing the capacity to say no to the right things at the right time is a highly underrated quality that we should practice often.
The power of self reflection lies in the fact that it allows us to live with intention. When we are well aware of who we are, we automatically make choices that lead to the outcomes we desire. Self reflection constantly reminds us who we are and what we are looking for. This hyper awareness causes us to recognize the subtle opportunities that will help us get to where we want to be. In essence, it is the exact same effect as buying a new car, or even new shoes. As soon as we have the car, we begin to notice other people driving the same one everywhere we go. This is no different with career aspirations, opportunities to learn, and chances to mold a lifestyle you are interested in. When you know what are looking for in life, you will begin to become conscious of each chance presented to you. This is the law of attraction at work. The principle is not that we are physically attracting something to our lives, but that on a subconscious level, we begin to actively seek out that feeling, recognizing when it is within grasp. Writing down our thoughts is a simple but powerful concept. Self reflection causes us to live with pure unwavering intent, and that is where the true power lies.
Living with intention is a key element in the art of manifesting happiness, and it pays in dividends over the long term.
At the age of 26, I’ve literally spent most of my life in school. I went to post secondary for four and a half years, somehow managing to graduate with a decent undergrad despite being an apathetic student the entire time. My issue rested in the fact that right until the very end, school always felt like a chore. I was disengaged and maintained grades just barely high enough to squeeze into the next year of my program. The content I studied rarely captured my quickly departing attention and in general, I was not mature enough at the time to appreciate what I was learning. My interests were in a completely different spectrum and I rarely saw the connect between them and education.
After university I took my sweet time to figure out what exactly I wanted to do next. Unintentionally, I spent a lot of it experimenting and learning more about myself. I tried out a variety of jobs, took some adventures, tried out some new places. All of which played a huge part in developing myself into a more mature and self-aware individual, something I am sure only life experience could provide. One of the epiphanies I ended up having since graduating is that I actually really enjoy learning when I have the ability to choose the content. As a student I was neither engaged or interested enough to appreciate education in the way I do now, and I am sure it would be a very different story were I to ever go back. Pre-graduation, my attention span was very short. I rarely read books for pleasure, never wrote, and generally was too drained from studying or hobbies to dive into learning about any newfound interests. Nowadays, these are all regular habits of mine. I have developed a small obsession with learning as much as I can and I have grown up A LOT.
“Change is the end result of true learning” – Leo Buscaglia
The simple act of learning a new skill creates unique pathways throughout our brain. Over time this makes our mind more efficient and helps it develop into an even more powerful machine. I’ve become a passionate learner. I study all kinds of subjects, from health and mindfulness to marketing and finance. My favourite of which is personal development and self understanding. This industry is often tainted with a perception of being shallow and misleading, but I believe it is one of the most worthwhile topics an individual can study. In my opinion, self awareness is king. It is one of the most valuable sets of skills we can learn. Understanding our personal talents, downfalls, interests and needs is essential for growing as a person. Knowing this information helps us understand and create personal priorities and goals. Self-awareness fosters challenge and has helped me to understand exactly what kinds of mountains I want to climb on a personal level. More than ever, I feel as though I am finally well aware of what I want from life, and how I can get there. I know exactly where I want to be five years from now. Continuous learning is going to play a huge part in the process, both professionally and personally, and I don’t plan on ever stopping. My younger self may have cringed at the thought of this, but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.