“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
I have blogged for about two years now. I have listed tons of timeless quotes.
Today I’d like to share the ten of the tips that have resonated most with me. Ten of my favourites. The quotes I often return to, in many cases just about every week.
1. Woody Allen on showing up.
“Eighty percent of success is showing up”
One of the biggest and simplest things you can do to ensure more success in your life – whether it is in your social life, your career or with your health – is simply to show up more. If you want to improve your health then one of the most important and effective things you can do is just to show up at the gym every time you should be there.
The weather might be bad, you might not feel like going and you find yourself having all these other things you just must do. If you still go, if you show up at the gym when motivation is low you will improve a whole lot faster than if you just stayed at home relaxing on the sofa.
I think this applies to most areas of life. If you write or paint more, every day perhaps, you will improve quickly. If you get out more you can meet more new friends. If you go on more dates your chances of meeting someone special increases. In a way success is quite a bit about numbers. The really successful people have often tried and failed a lot more than the average person.
2. Nike on self-discipline.
“Just do it!”
Quite a while back I sat around and thought about Nike’s old catchphrase that seems to pop up from time to time. I thought: “Well, that’s easy to say, but it’s not so easy to just do”. So I concluded that it was just another catchphrase that people throw out because well, they have to say something.
Now I can see that there is actually some really useful advice in that catchphrase. So what changed? Well, I guess I figured out that you can’t really sit and think yourself out of something. And I figured out that I was thinking way too much. And that I identified closely with what I thought and felt.
This tip is connected to the previous one. People often have a hard time with showing up consistently. Why? Because of inner resistance and bad habits (such as over thinking things). Sometimes you can motivate yourself out of such a negative headspace by, for example, reviewing why you want to show up (improve your health, earn more money etc).
Sometimes that won’t work though. And it’s those times that can send people spiralling into negative spirals going downwards or positive spirals going upwards. Because some people will stay at home when they encounter the resistance. And some will just go and do what they want to do anyway, despite that their mind and emotions might be saying “no, no, no!”
Don’t trust your thoughts or feelings too much or take them too seriously. You may want change in your life. But your mind may want homeostasis (everything to remain stable). And so there is a conflict. And so there is an inner resistance to change.
And so you don’t want to get stuck in over thinking things or thinking that your thoughts or emotions are in complete control of what you do. You want to stop listening to what they are saying – or screaming – and go and do whatever it is that you deep down want to do.
3. Helen Keller on fear.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
You cannot sit on your hands and take it easy and hope to get things done. At least not the things you really want to get done (which often may be the things you fear doing).
Why do people sit on their hands and get comfortable in their ease and quiet though? Well, one big reason is because they think they are safe there. But the truth is what Keller says; safety is mostly a superstition. It is created in your mind to make you feel safe. But there is no safety out there really. It is all uncertain and unknown.
- You may get laid off.
- Someone may break up with you and leave.
- Illness will probably strike.
- Death will certainly strike in your surroundings and at some point come to visit you too.
- Who knows what will happen an hour from now?
This superstition of safety is not just something negative. It’s also created by your mind so you can function in life. No point in going all paranoid about what could happen a minute from now day in and day out. But there is also not that much point in clinging to an illusion of safety. So you need to find balance where you don’t obsessed by the uncertainty but also recognize that it is there and live accordingly.
When you stop clinging to your safety life also becomes a whole lot more exciting and interesting. You are no longer as confined by an illusion and realize that you set your limits for what you can do and to a large extent create your own freedom in the world. You are no longer building walls to keep yourself safe as those walls wouldn’t protect you anyway. You can instead start your own daring adventure. Perhaps slowly at first, but still.
4. Kahlil Gibran on sorrow and joy.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Your pain and sorrow is often in retrospect a gift. It makes you stronger. More empathic and understanding. It helps you out in some way and guides you. You can always look back it when you feel down and be happy that you aren’t in that place anymore.
And it’s often in the sorrow that we later on create our strengths. Many very fit people started on that path because they had hit a big low point health wise. And many great speakers or just very social people may have been being deathly shy at a young age. It’s to a large extent all that emotional leverage and all those painful emotions that at least initially give people a great motivation to change their lives in a radical way.
Your sorrow expands the spectrum of human experience, understanding and emotions for you. You become more grateful because of your sorrow. The sorrow carves deeper. And the deeper it carves, the more joy you will also be able to contain. The sad times make the happy times even sweeter.
5. Bruce Lee on not dividing.
“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”
This is a very useful and powerful thought. It is also one that obviously is hard to live by. Why? I believe it’s because the ego loves to divide and find ways to “add more” to itself. It wants to feel better – or worse – than someone else. Or more clever. Or prettier. Or less cool. Or wiser. It’s one big game of comparison.
How can you overcome this way of thinking and feeling?
To me it seems to boil down to not identifying so much with your thoughts or feelings. That doesn’t mean that you stop thinking or feeling. It just means that you realize – and remember in your everyday life – that the thoughts and emotions are just things flowing through you.
You are not them though.
You are the consciousness observing them.
When you realize and remember this it enables you to control the thoughts and feelings instead of the other way around. It also enables you to not take your thoughts too seriously and actually laugh at them or ignore them when you feel that your ego is acting out.
When you are not being so identified these things you become more inclined to include things, thoughts and people instead of excluding them. This creates a lot of inner and outer freedom and stillness. Instead of fear, a need to divide your world and a search for conflicts.
It simply makes you a cooler person. smiley
To learn more about this – and also make it easier to apply many of the tips in this article – I would recommend Eckhart Tolle’s books.
6. Mark Twain on approving of yourself.
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
If you don’t approve of yourself, of your behaviour and actions then you’ll probably walk around most of the day with a sort of uncomfortable feeling. If you, on the other hand, approve of yourself then you tend to become relaxed and gain inner freedom to do more of what you really want.
This can, in a related way, be a big obstacle in personal growth. You may have all the right tools to grow in some way but you feel an inner resistance. You can’t get there.
What you may be bumping into there are success barriers. You are putting up barriers in your own mind of what you may or may not deserve. Or barriers that tell you what you are capable of. They might tell you that you aren’t really that kind of person that could this thing that you’re attempting.
Or if you make some headway in the direction you want to go you may start to sabotage for yourself. To keep yourself in a place that is familiar for you.
So you need give yourself approval and allow yourself to be who you want to be. Not look for the approval from others. But from yourself. To dissolve that inner barrier or let go of that self-sabotaging tendency.
To kick ass in whatever you want to do you need to feel and think that you deep down deserve it. Otherwise you’ll just pull yourself back into the same mediocre or worse place where you started sooner or later.
7. Epictetus on how you choose your emotions.
“It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.”
What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. There may be a “normal” or a common way to react to different things. But that mostly just all it is. You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to pretty much everything. You don’t have to freak out, overreact of even react in a negative way. Perhaps not every time or instantly. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction just goes off. Or an old thought habit kicks in.
But as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.
8. Samuel Beckett on failure.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
An easy and relaxed attitude towards failure. An attitude that says that failure is as just about as normal as cooking your food or brushing your teeth. I remind myself of this one when I have failed or made a mistake. Or the fear of failure pops up. It pulls out all the drama one might associate with failure. And makes it easier and less burdensome to take action.
9. Henry Ford on believing that you can.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
The funny thing is that it’s hard to see how much your beliefs control your performance and how you see your world when you are used at looking at things from just one perspective.
When you think you can do something instead of not your perception of that thing changes. And your perception of yourself too. Without those changed perspectives it will be hard to find the courage, motivation, enthusiasm and whatever else you may need.
So to really change your life you may need to take a leap of faith in regards to how you view everything. No one can really give you proof that can convince you to change perspective (because you will just see the proof through your old perspective anyway and dismiss it). You have to try the perspective out for yourself and just see what happens. And here tip #2 becomes very useful once again. Because you may have to just do things even though you are fearful or feel an inner resistance to get the new experience that can support the belief you are trying out.
Another powerful factor with beliefs is self-fulfilling prophecies. And this is connected with tip #6.
If you think you’ll fail you are likely to hold you self back or even trip yourself up (sometimes unconsciously). If you on the other hand think you can do something your mind will start to find solutions and focus on fixing things instead of whining about them. From all of the stimuli around you things, solutions and opportunities will just start to pop up. Without that focus on the right thing, on your ability to do, your mind may not find the resources and solutions that are needed.
10. Kristen Zambucka on reality and changing your world.
“Though I might travel afar, I will meet only what I carry with me, for every
man is a mirror. We see only ourselves reflected in those around us.
Their attitudes and actions are only a reflection of our own.
The whole world and its condition has its counter parts within us all.
Turn the gaze inward. Correct yourself and your world will change.”
This is perhaps my favourite quote so far. I like it because it reminds me that even though there is big, big world out there with many possibilities and people in the end big change in your life comes down to you changing yourself.
It’s very easy to get stuck in thinking that your perspective, the lens through which you view reality is reality itself. But you can’t really see reality. You can only see it filtered through the lens. And the lens is you.
Changing, for example, a very negative attitude to a very positive one changes how you view yourself and your entire world. But as I mentioned in the previous tip, it’s very hard to convince anyone of this. You just have to choose to try another perspective and just use it for a month or so. Even though homeostasis may want to draw you back to the comfortable stability of your old viewpoint. Which may cause you to rationalize that this positive attitude stuff is uncool or cheesy.
Truth is life will never be as in your dreams if you don’t change and correct yourself. No one is coming to save you. No book or personal development guru, not your parents, no knight/lady in white armour. Yes, people around you can of course be a big help.
But as an adult in this world it is time to grow up and save yourself. Not just because it is the right thing to do. But also because it is what actually works.