Liberation: A Spiritual Hypothesis

I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well.

The first extreme has people waiting, even wishing, for death, and in doing so, they fail to take anything meaningful from life. Life is suffering, seems to be the message, and you just have to wait it out, and be an okay person in the meantime. It may be positive to encourage people to do good, but this is more or a sticks and carrots, heaven or hell sort of incentive: be good or you will be damned for eternity. It is more of a functional religion, keeping people relatively peaceful and placated while they pass their miserable existence.

Instead of working on spiritual awakening adherents are worried about where their next meal is coming from, or what disease will kill them if they aren’t murdered first.

The second extreme shows up in advanced societies where the standard of living has reached a certain point. Ironically, this might be the point to thank God, Allah, or Gaia, but instead people forget, or are distracted by their earthly concerns. People have responsibilities, jobs, hobbies, and toys which take up most of their time. Then, if they ever need a “deeper” distraction, there is politics, and a culture that keeps them in the rat race. Religion becomes an appointment on Sunday morning, or as necessary to keeping up with the neighbors as the new car. Spirituality is hardly a thought on the mind.

Instead of striving for a perfect soul, people strive for more money, more power, and higher social status.

The Problem: Overwhelming Earthly Concerns

The problem is that people are too worried about their earthly concerns either out of necessity of survival, or out of distraction by unimportant goals.

When people are hungry, they will do crazy things for survival. In actual poverty, it is all but impossible to focus the mind on anything but somehow figuring out how to live through the next day: what you will eat, where you will sleep. There can hardly be a long term strategy for life, let alone trying to figure out the afterlife. People need a certain standard of living in order to seriously explore and engage in spirituality and religion.

When a culture elevates unimportant goals that have no end and are impossible to achieve, people never conclude their attempts to gain whatever they are striving for. If someone wants power, there will be no point where they sigh in satisfied relief and say, “I did it”. There is no end to who can have the best car, best house, or best looks. These are earthly goals with fleeting fulfillment. They will always leave something to be desired, even if you “win” at certain points. People cannot pursue truly religious goals if they are working 60 hour weeks to have the newest everything, or shallowly trying to keep face with their peers. People cannot be spiritual if they fill that void with elections, gadgets, or alcohol.

The Solution: Liberation

Earthly goals are not necessarily a bad thing. We are on this earth for some reason, so it makes sense to accomplish tangible earth things. And as I’ve mentioned, a certain level of disregard for earthly things like food and shelter can be just as spiritually distracting as pop culture.

What I propose is a two part solution for the individual, as for society, as each are a reflection of the other. Life should be lived in two phases; an earthly phase of real world accomplishment, and a spiritual phase of religious learning, soul searching, and acquiring inner peace. The two phases need not be purely separated necessarily, as each person’s journey will be unique. But generally speaking, first liberate your earthly self, then liberate your soul, eternal energy, or mind.

Liberation has just one tenet, and it is the golden rule found in many major religions and spiritual teachings. Treat others as you wish to be treated (unless you’re a masochist). Simply put, initiate no harm to others. Never be the aggressor.

Phase One: Liberate Your Earthy Self

Society: By truly accepting and adhering to the only tenet of liberation, you will set in motion the societal change which will bolster phase two. Liberation does not require social acceptance to work, but as I’ve said, society mirrors the individual, and vice versa. The more individuals who liberate themselves, the greater their reflection on society will be, thus creating more individual liberation. The growth of liberation could therefore be exponential which will assist the masses in their spiritual awakening–though any one individual can liberate themselves with or without the greater society.

For some it will be easier to liberate the earthly self than others, based on the luck of the circumstances they were born into. In a sense, these individuals have a greater responsibility to liberate themselves. The goal is to eventually raise the standard of living for every individual on earth to the point where they no longer need to worry about necessities, and can therefore follow liberation to a spiritual awakening.

There is no requirement on any individual following liberation to give their wealth away, or necessarily help others–though it is usually a good idea to do so. Rather what follows from personal liberation is advancement and wealth which raises the standard of living for all. When every individual is responsible for their actions, they will reap the rewards and suffer the consequences. This is liberation, and it can only be accomplished by individuals, not by edict.

Currently smart mobile devices in Africa are revolutionizing how money changes hands, so that people can produce and trade for the goods they need to survive, without worrying about getting robbed of all their earnings. Only because someone earlier, on a different continent, accomplished their goal of creating a smartphone, can essentially all of humanity currently use the devices to their individual benefit. The same has been the case with most inventions and technology throughout history; that it proliferates after initially only being available to a few. Therefore simply by liberating themselves, free people will create and trade, which will inevitably spread the wealth they create to the masses.

Charity can be a very useful tool, but it should never be required: forcing charitable contributions would break the only tenet of liberation. Therefore adherents to liberation who believe in charity must effectively convince others of their cause, or set the example in using charity effectively to advance the cause of liberation, and therefore the cause of humanity.

Eventually, as liberation philosophy progresses, the standard of living will be high enough so that no individual needs to worry about survival, and can therefore pursue a fulfilling earthly goal absent any financial and material considerations.

Individuals: Liberation of the earthly self will come in many forms, as we are vastly different individuals with different interests and goals. Keep in mind that unlike the corrupting goals mentioned earlier which cannot be accomplished or executed (i.e. more power, more wealth, “the best” clothes or gadgets), the goals set forth in phase one of liberation must be attainable, with a specific end.

“Become rich,” would not be a good goal, because it is not well defined what rich means, and could always lead to wanting more. “Building a million dollar company,” would be a better goal, because it has a finite ending. Still though, if you want a million dollar company so that you can buy a nice car, this is a fleeting goal. If you want a million dollar company because you believe in the product or service you are selling, this is a meaningful goal.

Really you want your goals for liberating yourself to reflect what you will need for a high enough standard of living to successfully complete phase two–though as liberation progresses and the standard of living rises, this will be of less concern. But you also want your phase one goals to be about the accomplishment in itself, and not necessarily for what you can do with the fruits of the accomplishment. Do what makes you feel most free, as long as it does not harm anyone.

For example, my phase one goal might be a self sufficient homestead. This will give me a place to live during phase two, for little cost, while giving me the opportunity to produce passive income, which makes me feel more secure if I were to need money in a pinch. A homestead would also put me in an environment that feels natural to me where I can truly be myself, and live happily and healthily. I want the life that the homestead can give me, but the homestead itself also makes me happy.

Currently phase one can still be rather stressful, as it is hard enough saving for retirement, let alone somehow shaping your life to perfectly suit you in phase two, where you ideally do not need to work, and can devote yourself to spirituality. But having specific tangible goals can help. Most people go through life being prescribed their goals: a mortgage, a good job, a nice car, etc. But many of the things we waste our money, and therefore our time and labor on, do not contribute to long term happiness or spiritual growth.

For someone who craves security, phase two might not start until retirement, when enough has been saved to live comfortably. For the adventurous sort, phase two might start at age 25 after they have saved up enough for a van to travel the country. Some might feel truly themselves at work, and therefore can move onto phase two while still happily employed. Cut whatever societal chains which keep you in slavery.

The point of phase one is to use the material earthly world to accomplish something that is freeing in and of itself, but that will also help you remain free in stage two. This need not necessarily be wealth either; mentally speaking, having helped orphans or provided food for the homeless might be the only accomplishment necessary to move onto phase two. Having created a successful business might be less about if it made you wealthy, and more about the confidence in your own abilities the experience gave you. Perhaps skills you gain in phase one will make you more liberated for whatever path you choose to follow in stage two.

And those who feel they cannot do what they wish to do because of the current unjust power structure must find ways to peacefully undermine those forces. If you are adhering to the one tenet, the golden rule that you will not initiate harm on anyone, then you are doing nothing wrong. You are morally superior to those who wish to curtail your peaceful activities, and should find solace and accomplishment in subverting them. Their failure to enslave is your liberation.

We all have different comfort levels with risk, and different desires, which is why it is impossible to prescribe a specific phase one path for everyone. In that sense, the spiritual journey starts in phase one with trying to figure out what earthly goals are calling you, and what will truly free you. But just make sure phase one accomplishments are not something you must suffer through. Accomplishment is not always fun, but it should be a rewarding, liberating, process.

Phase Two: Liberate Your Eternal Being

Society: It is true that some who are not adherents to liberation will attempt to harm you. These are the same entities which keep those with a high standard of living focused on shallow earthly desires like possessions and power. When people are afraid to lose their possessions, and competing for power, they accept violations of the golden rule based on the belief that it will help their earthly self. It is a sad irony that the earthly individual would have a higher standard of living if everyone adhered to the tenet of liberation, and would therefore have the chance to focus truly on more than the earthly self.

But remember, there is hope! As more people participate in phase one of liberation, the more society will reflect the philosophy, and therefore attacks on liberated individuals will wane. This means the power structure will erode and crumble, leaving no method of manipulating the masses towards materialistic goals, and aggression.

As society begins to follow the golden rule, the one tenet of liberation, it will add yet another level of security to be able to live out phase two in peace. Rejection of harming, threatening, and forcing others will grow with liberation, and soon the tiny minority who have always initiated and wielded violence will disperse in fear of the liberated masses. Liberation in both phases one and two helps to subvert the unjust and evil power these individuals currently exercise. Of course hope is not lost for those who currently do evil; they may yet repent, and liberate themselves as well.

Everyone within phase two will have already completed their earthly goals of liberation, showing the younger generations that it can be done, and encouraging them to do whatever necessary to liberate themselves. The “authorities” and their coercion will soon become an afterthought, a small hurdle before they become extinct. If living the liberated peaceful life you want to live is rebellion of the system, then let’s all be rebels. Help those who may be in harm’s way, simply because they are rightfully liberating themselves.

Individuals: People have surely been reaching phase two of liberation since the dawn of time, without labeling it as such, and have practiced the philosophy without society’s acceptance or approval. It simply takes a person who can rise above the judgement of their peers. Compete with yourself to become happier every day, to get one step closer to ultimate liberation of the soul.

Liberation is an umbrella philosophy which encourages individuals to find their spiritual way by considering numerous possibilities. A person may well decide that the religion they grew up with is the best fit for them, but they should not do this without first exploring various religions and spiritual teachings. What most people will probably find is that melding different religious philosophies gives a deeper spiritual awareness.

If you want to truly know as much as possible about a historical event, you can’t just read one account and assume it to be fact. The best way to understand history is to triangulate the perspectives of various historians, first hand documents, science surrounding artifacts, and events leading up to, and coming after the historical event. The search for truth in liberating the spirit, mind, or soul should be similar, in that you come at the issue of the afterlife, being, or ultimate truth from multiple angles.

For some this will mean travelling the world to immerse themselves in every religious tradition they can find. For others it might mean becoming more involved in their local church they have always belonged to, and reaching out to other individuals, in order to learn. Some may look for spiritual answers in science, history, or mathematics. Others may look for spiritual guidance from hallucinogens–though a word of caution is in order that drugs should never be used to permanently attain a higher spiritual level, but rather give one an example for a useful mindset for looking at humanity and spirituality.

The goal is that after years of study, exploration, critical thought, meditation, and whatever else it takes, an individual arrives at a religious or spiritual philosophy that works for them to happily complete their life cycle. Some may settle on a specific religion, others a melded philosophy of spirituality and religions. Some may follow their own unique path, or start traditions that help them and their friends find peace. One person may believe that we reincarnate until we live the perfect life, and find ultimate peace within. Another may conclude that we are all higher beings in a complex simulation that is testing our fortitude in a material world.

Some may decide when all is said and done that this is simply a material world without a higher anything; but that too is fine, as long as it brings the individual what they need. Liberation is still a philosophy that encourages a happy, fruitful human existence, so even if one is an atheist after stage two, they should be able to look back at their life with satisfaction, knowing that they accomplished a meaningful goal, and followed their desires without harming others, enjoying what life has to offer, and always striving for the deepest truth possible.

Liberation encourages living a fruitful life, striving for higher meaning, and passing on in peace, liberated.

Synergy

Don’t misconstrue the two phases to mean you cannot be religious, or explore spirituality in phase one. Pursue the ultimate knowledge whenever you get the urge and have the time! My only point in breaking liberation into two phases is that you do not need to forgo the material world in order to properly experience spiritual growth. We are here on this earth for a reason, and only by experiencing what earth has to offer can we grow from that experience.

In general, spirituality and religion is less on the mind when young and full of energy. Harness this energy, and pursue those earthly goals, as long as they are not ultimately destructive. Chances are your early earthly experiences will greatly set the tone for your later spiritual journey. But the phases are just one way of thinking about liberation, and could conceivably (and certainly will at points) be mixed up, reversed, mingled, and intertwined.

The main thing to take away is that liberation is absolutely crucial to a healthy earthly existence, and completely necessary for any considerations of an eternal soul or being. Your human body must be used for what is was intended, and that is to live a fruitful life on earth free to do anything that does not hurt others. And your soul must be explored for what is was intended, and the journey to spiritual liberation will be an exciting one.

Think of the young in poverty, with no opportunity to make something of their lives, which skews the perspective on what may lie beyond. Think of the youth in advanced society, with no direction, no desire, and no motivation. They are pushed this way and that by the power structure, used as pawns, and left empty and bitter by the coercion they feel dictating their every move.

This will end with liberation. Individuals will reclaim their youth for the exciting, invigorating journey of creation and accomplishment it was always meant to be! No more dead end jobs, no more broken promises, smashed dreams, or stolen opportunities. When we liberate ourselves, there is no height to which individuals cannot take this world.

Think of the elderly in poverty, waiting to die to stop burdening their families who already have so little. Think of the elderly with high living standards, waiting to die because they don’t know what else to do, and have forgotten what it means to have otherworldly goals.

This will be no more in liberation. Under liberation the seasoned, the accomplished, will reclaim their position as spiritual elders whose purpose is to guide the younger generations in their life phases with knowledge, experience and example. There will be no end of life regrets, but instead the dying will pass on satisfied, surrounded by those they love, knowing that whoever is left behind will have an equally glorious life.

The whole will become greater than the sum of its parts. Society will see a spiritual awakening brought on by individuals who decide to liberate themselves. It requires no evangelizing, as simply seeing free people stokes the desire to become liberated. It is a movement that has already begun, and cannot be stopped. Already individuals are living the lives they want to live, regardless of what the sick sad system has to say. These individuals will become the spiritual leaders of the next great awakening on earth. The spiritual renaissance is upon us.

Start Today

Begin pursuing phase one of liberation today. You might already know what that is: the business you want to start, the skill you want to gain, the group you want to help, the book you want to write, or whatever else will make you independent and fruitful. You want to be in control of your own destiny, and let go of the things you cannot control.

Liberate yourself! Let go of the fear the controllers of society shove down your throat. Become as free as possible; in doing so not only will your own life be drastically improved, but your positive energy will infect those around you. Let go of the burdens society has foisted upon you without your consent. Take control of your life and set it up the way you want it.

Liberate your soul! Dissolve the distractions and take a journey with your spirit. Become more connected with others, with yourself, and with a higher realm. Seek ultimate truth, being honest with yourself, and those around you.

Join me, in liberation!

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Creating Worlds in Ourselves

Suppose we are really all just one being, as various religions have suggested. Perhaps we all reconnect when we die, and live blissfully as one. In fact, what if we, as one, only split ourselves into billions of different people in order to improve ourselves. Perhaps we will never become one again unless we all learn to love ourselves and one another.

Because that is what we all struggle to do, isn’t it? Finally be happy with ourselves, and be happy in our own company. We seek out others to fulfill us, and they can help because we are all just different pieces of a larger whole. But they can also be a detriment to self love because we all have flaws and some play out more in certain ways in certain people.

I think many things mirror each other, and most thing are replicated on a smaller and larger scale. In that way, doesn’t it make sense that we would emulate the larger in what we replicate as smaller? What I mean is, if the larger “one being” created the microcosm of earth to grow itself, as a game of sorts, it would make sense that there is the same desire in each of us.

Creating Worlds

We do this through movies, games, books, and dreams. And the worlds we create in dreams are especially interesting to me; I have been thinking about that a lot lately.

It is hard to do, but very possible to lucid dream. That means be aware that you are dreaming, and therefore control what happens in the dream. Personally, I rarely become aware that I am dreaming, and have even said in a dream, “I know I am not dreaming”. But there are a handful of times I remember becoming aware that I was dreaming, but still not really committing to that fact in order to shape the dream.

Once, relatively recently, I realized I was in a dream, and took the opportunity to fly. I always loved flying dreams, and though I had tried in a previous lucid dream to fly, it hadn’t worked. This time it did, and though at first it was touch and go, I managed to take off and fly some laps around a rocky island with a church on it.

Anyway back to the point; dreams are creations by our brains that may be used for organizing thought, planning, experimenting, or running tests. There are certain things about our unconscious that we can gather from dreams.

Now suppose that life was very similar to a dream, in that our greater consciousness was organizing its thoughts, or discovering something about itself through living a life. The dream of life would just be a way to organize that exercise. The world we live in could be a workshop for the larger being to recgonize and address its inner demons.

Help Yourself

I think many of us have the tendency to think others need more work than ourselves, I have certainly been victim to this train of thought. But probably the most important part of becoming a stronger whole is to start with yourself. We can’t become perfect, but once we are sufficiently happy with ourselves, trustworthy, and good, it will be easier to emanate those positive vibes in order to help others.

If we all stemmed from one being, it says to me that the one being was not totally comfortable with being alone. So that being created many different beings, but since they are all really just one, we each feel the same loneliness at the core. Other people can be a welcome distraction, but at the center of it all, we need to be happy when we are alone, and love our own company.

We can still find things that we love in other people that we may lack ourselves, but should not process this with envy or self loathing. Instead realize what it is you love about others, and take it all in. When the universe comes to a close, we may all end up as one being again, and at that point we will be a happy one, not lonely, and loving of ourselves, having gone through this exercise we call life.

A Day Mirrors a Life: Use This Life for a Better “Tomorrow”

Many things mirror each other. A brain cell looks curiously similar to the universe, and atoms look like they belong magnified floating in space alongside solar systems. So wouldn’t it make sense if other things mirrored large events on a small scale?

I am talking about a day. We wake up groggy, sometimes forgetting where we are or what we have to do, confused by our fleeting dreams. But energy soon returns, we gain focus, and set out with purpose to conquer the day’s activities. Sometimes it is a good day, sometimes bad, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting! Hopefully we don’t waste too much time, but still have fun! It is good to accomplish some goals, but not be too stressed out or uptight. You have to enjoy the present, but not to the extent that it makes tomorrow harder. And then each night we start to grow tired again, we realize there is only so much more we can do with the time we have, and eventually we go to sleep.

In a life, we are born confused and crying. There is no recollection before birth, except for a few special people here and there that seem to remember details of a past life. As our lives go on, we grow, gain focus on what we want to do with that life. We have ups and downs, as every life has, and some lives could be categorized as overall good, or overall bad, overall mundane, or overall stimulating. We have goals large and small that we attempt to accomplish, and some people get caught up in planning for the future without really enjoying the moments of their lives. Others fulfill momentary hedonistic urges, which puts their future happiness in jeopardy. In the end it comes to a close, the sun begins to set, and our energy fades. We die and go to sleep.

But when we sleep we wake again. And where we wake up depends entirely on where we went to sleep the night before. The obstacles facing us the next day could have been increased by the previous days activities, or eased. Sometimes we wake up hungover, and what we did yesterday makes the entire new day more difficult. Sometimes we drank a glass of water before bed, said our prayers or meditated, and wake up refreshed, ready to start the day off with an energizing run, or watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead attempts to help people transition from earth to the in-between and then back to earth again, unless ultimate enlightenment is achieved. What you do in one life effects where you will start the next life. I don’t personally know what type of life will put you where, but using the microcosm of a day, I think it is a safe bet to say living a good day makes a better tomorrow that much more likely. Therefore living a better life will make the next life that much better.

In a lifetime, I would imagine the ultimate goal is to die happy, surrounded by those you love, at peace. This could be compared to ultimate enlightenment. Did you improve others’ lives? Did you help create and grow healthy humans who will radiate their energy positively towards others? Did you bring people joy, help people grow, and increase the combined positive energy of the world or environment you inhabited?

Tibetan Buddhism even suggests practicing the transition from the earth self to the in between self by attempting to remain cognizant while falling asleep, and lucid while dreaming. This mirrors what will happen when we die, so it is a way to practice. It is a way to carry all the positive energy from one life into the next, the way we are able (though we don’t always do it) to carry positive energy from one day to the next.

And this all means we should live each day like a mini lifetime. After all, each day, all combined, is what will make up our life. Each atom, all combined, is what makes up the universe. Perhaps each lifetime, all combined, will determine the ultimate health and state of our souls.

Perpetual Energy Loops and Fire Beams: Feeding Off Others’ Energy Without Stealing It

Think of every person as a perpetual energy machine. Imagine a ring of energy inside each of us, and if the flow is not broken, the loop persists indefinitely. The unbroken ring of energy is the state of being happy, whole, complete, satisfied, and at peace. We each have ultimate control over our own perpetual energy ring.

What leads to all the social problems in the world, is the breaking of that perpetual ring of energy in order to either give some of yours, or take some from another. If you break your energy loop to dish out energy, you will eventually need to break someone else’s loop and take energy from them. If you take someone’s energy, thus damaging their perpetual loop, they will eventually have to steal energy from someone else’s perpetual energy machine. It is a domino effect of negatively affecting others’ energy.

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This rudimentary diagram depicts the perpetual energy cycles being broken. Notice the center man is giving energy to one, and taking energy from another. None of the loops can thus be completed, meaning no fire beam of energy off which all could feed emanates above.

This absolutely does not mean we cannot help other people out. But there is a very specific way we need to handle interacting with others in order to preserve our own perpetual energy creation, because otherwise our imbalance will turn into someone else’s imbalance. Imagine a beam of fire that shoots up above your perpetual energy loop. It only does so when your loop is in tact. This energy, others can feed off of without leaving you any less.

This rudimentary diagram depicts three individuals with complete energy loops, not giving energy to, or taking energy from another. Because of there complete loops without theft or self deprivation, they are able to create a fire beam of energy, which can be linked to grow with each complete person, with an in tact loop of energy.

This rudimentary diagram depicts three individuals with complete energy loops, not giving energy to, or taking energy from another. Because of their complete loops without theft or self deprivation, they are able to create a fire beam of energy, which can be linked to grow with each complete person, who has an in tact loop of energy.

Jumpstarting a car takes power from the good battery, and transfers it into the bad battery, decreasing each battery’s overall share of energy (until they are recharged). Combining two candle flames makes the single flame twice as large.

Example: Your friends want to go out to a bar, but you are not really feeling it. If you go out anyway, but are bitter that your friends “forced” you out, you allowed them to steal your energy, and are now reciprocating the theft by bringing down the mood at the bar, or tucking away the resentment for future theft. Either way, you have allowed your energy to be thrown off, and will seek to make up for that (probably subconsciously). If you roll your eyes at the conversations at the bar, you are stealing your friend’s energy that they were putting into the story, because you feel they stole your energy by “making” you go out. Their energy is now lessened, because they are insecure about the story, or confused about or dwelling on why their friend is mad at them.

The actual decision to go out or not will not effect your ring of energy, but rather how you react to it. Perhaps staying in would have elicited a negative reaction from your friends, which also has the potential to disrupt your energy level, and make you want to steal their energy the next time they don’t want to go out when it is your idea.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and energy theft for energy theft makes the whole world bereft.

So the way to deal instead is to maintain your own energy loop. If what you truly want to do is stay home, you have got to make that decision, and then not allow your friends to get at your energy loop. You have to make the decision, and then be done, instead of worrying about your friends’ reactions. You cannot control others, and seeking to control them is a form of energy theft as well, even if derived from true concern. If you text them nervously hoping to abridge any dissatisfaction with your decision, your insecurity is voluntarily handing over energy from your loop. If you text them out of the pure desire to wish them a fun night, you have instead allowed them to feed off of your fire, without disrupting your energy loop.

But perhaps it is your friend’s birthday, and it would actually be in poor taste to just be like, “meh, I feel like staying in.” This all depends on how you handle the obligation. If you go out bitterly, you will steal energy. But if you look inside, balance your energy loop, and realize that sometimes what having friends is about is doing something for them even when you don’t necessarily want to, you can keep your loop in tact. You will actually be happy when you go out, because your friend is happy, because you are not making snarky comments out of bitterness, nor sullenly dwelling on the other things your would rather be doing.

You make the best out of it, realizing you were not forced into the situation, but rather forced to make a choice involving the situation. This then grows your fire beam that extends upward from your energy loop, and allows your friend the opportunity to grow theirs even more, because they do not have to seek energy to steal, since your never broke their energy loop to begin with. You can now both combine your resulting beams, which doubles both of your beam energy, instead of spreading the loop energy, and thus decreasing each individual’s energy in the loop.

Balance

We are in fact thrown into situations which are troublesome, so how do we make sure these situations do not throw off our own energy loops? This involves recognizing what you can and cannot control. Risky behavior of your friends might make you nervous, but attempting to control that behavior can lead to the stealing of their energy, or the giving of your own. Your nervousness at their actions is taking your energy. Your insistence on the way they act is stealing their energy. Do not control, and do not allow yourself to be controlled. Sometimes, walking away is the only way to preserve your own energy ring, as well as stop yourself from throwing off another’s energy loop. But strike a balance: walking away must be of pure intentions, and not aimed at influencing the behavior of your friends.

But what if what I really want to do is run naked through the streets? We can recognize consequences, and adjust our behavior rationally without throwing off our energy loops. Recognize that it is aggravating that we are in a sense beholden to society, but do not take it out on society. Do not get bent out of shape, and angry, because then society has stolen your energy. Instead, internalize the balancing of your own energy, and accept that not everything is in our control. Our own actions are still in our control however, and we can still do what we want, but we cannot force others around us to react in a particular way.

All Boiled Down

In essence, we must analyze our intentions, and stop ourselves when we are at risk of becoming energy vampires. Will what I am saying or doing actually increase the happiness of me and others? Is this just a shallow attempt to make myself feel better at the expense of others? Will this theft of their energy require them to make up for what I have taken, by victimizing another?

We all know when we are trying to negatively affect a person, even if we think it is justified. But we must also realize that their negativity will likewise affect others, whether it is due to a bad mood, insecurity, or the blatant transferal of your negative energy which was directed at them, then being directed at others.

We must also analyze our intentions, and stop ourselves if we are at risk of becoming a victim of energy theft. Is the energy you are giving away disrupting your own, or simply feeding the other? Does the energy the other gets take from your own loop, or simply use the excess fire your loop has created in order to invigorate their own loop? Will the energy you give turn to bitterness, resentment, or anger, causing the de facto theft of others’ (perhaps not easily identified victims) energy because of your negative feelings?

We are able to tell the difference between pure intentions of giving to others for the sake of giving, versus feeling forced into a scenario, or playing martyr. If you view what you have given as a sacrifice, this will most likely throw off your energy loop. If you view what you are giving as a gift, this will most likely keep your energy loop in tact, and grow the fire beam which is built on the perpetual energy loop.

When we all have in tact energy loops, not stealing from others, nor allowing ourselves to be stolen from, the fire beams of energy will combine exponentially to form a peaceful loving existence. The magnitude of these beams we cannot yet imagine, but have felt when in the presence of pure intentioned individuals with the security to emanate fire beams that combine energy with others’ beams, without leaving any less in their beam.

Making “Normal” the New “Awesome”

Sunday was a beautiful day outside. I slept a little late, I spent some time on the porch, and made plans to go for a hike with a couple of friends.

We went for the hike up to the top of Peppercorn Hill with a nice view, checked out a little cave in the woods, and went back to my friend’s house. His family had just finished cleaning the pool (good timing) so we went for a swim, caught up with his dad and bros, and threw the frisbee around. Finally we finished with some deliciously grilled cheeseburgers.

And that day felt normal. I was happy the whole time, in a good mood, having fun. When it was drawing to a close, my friend’s brother said, “I am officially considering this the first summer fun day,” or something to that effect, which probably sounded less cheesy.

So that was when I thought back on the day, and was like, wow, this was an awesome day! Nothing went wrong, I did some of my favorite activities with friends, and it was all around a fun, essentially prototype kind of day.

It felt like a normal day. How lucky am I that a day like that is normal for me? I could think of a few things that would have made it even better, and I can think of a million things that would have made it a lot worse. So why do I just consider that a normal day?

I decided, why not re-label normal, awesome? Instead of essentially taking a normal day for granted, I could appreciate an awesome day, and have gratitude that something so perfect can seem normal to me.

That’s what I was doing when I started this blog, but it is so easy to fall back into a mundane attitude. I even had a couple of restarts, that never seemed to stick as much as that initial push that sparked this site.

PorcFest is only a month away, so it is tempting to wait and recapture those sentiments once at the event that makes me feel like my true self. But that is a cop-out! I need to kick it into gear, and re-label every normal day awesome.

That way, a “bad day” can become a “normal day”, and I have effectively dragged my median mood towards the “awesome” side!

Sometimes Posts are Better as a Series

I will be on vacation this week, on a cruise with no internet, so I won’t be posting. I have, therefore, assembled some suggested reading from past posts.

Do you like the weird philosophical posts about what life is, who we are as individuals, and what happens next? Read the following posts as a series:

What if Life is Just our Souls Playing Video Games?

Sleeping and Dreaming: Does this fit with my Souls Playing Video Games Theory?

Humanity is a Puzzle, and We Are the Pieces.

What if we only Age Because We Expect to Age?

Cherish Your Time as an Individual.

Do you like the encouraging self help style posts that energize you to do what you love, and never give up on your dreams, or being happy?

The Legend of (Your Name Here).

Don’t Be Scared into the Status Quo: Ordering off the Menu versus Building Your Own Life.

Breaking the Cycle: From Ideas to Action.

Addicted to Happiness: The Brain is Your Dopamine Dealer.

Do it for the Perspective: Money Isn’t the Only Valuable.

Enjoy! You will all hear from me again soon!

Humanity is a Puzzle, and We are the Pieces

In my humble opinion, a good analogy to describe humanity is a puzzle. When put together, a puzzle becomes one; it forms an image that cannot be gathered from any individual piece of the puzzle. The end goal of course is to have one complete puzzle, but what makes it a puzzle? If it were a photograph or a painting, it would be one cohesive entity. The unique thing about a puzzle is that it is made up of individual pieces that must fit together in order to form the larger image.

And that makes us, each individual, a puzzle piece. As pieces, we are not whole when the puzzle lies apart, deconstructed. We desire to fit in seamlessly with the pieces around us. But we need not host the entire image, we are only each a small piece that makes up the entire image. Do not confuse being an individual piece, however, with being expendable.

You see, every puzzle piece is unique. No other piece can take its place and still form the proper larger image. A puzzle is incomplete if even one of the pieces is lost or destroyed. This makes the individual pieces as important as the larger image. The larger image cannot exist without the individuals that make it up.

The reason I am explaining this is that some seem to view individuals as unimportant and worthless. I wholeheartedly disagree. Without individuals, there is no humanity, so how can you say that the pieces which make up the whole are unimportant? What many mean is that any one piece is not important for the larger structure to come together.

Again, I disagree. Something will be missing in the larger picture if we do not treat each individual as the important, unique puzzle piece they are. We are all connected, or at least the potential for us to all be connected exists. As individual puzzle pieces, our ultimate desire is to become one.

This is akin to what many religions believe happens after death. The reason we cannot imagine paradise, heaven, or perpetual bliss is because we are coming from the perspective of a puzzle piece, and the ultimate reward is to exist as a puzzle, all put together with no missing pieces.

I see this as the source of hate, jealousy, fear, regret, doubt, and insecurity. We are uncomfortable existing as puzzle pieces when we know our ultimate and complete state is as one puzzle. But we are comforted when we connect to other puzzle pieces around us. It feels right to love. It feels right to be connected to those people around you with whom you fit.

We desire to be part of a group, but the group needs the right pieces in order to exist. The parts must not be random, there are specific pieces that fit into other pieces. This is what our lives are about, understanding our own shape as a puzzle piece so that we may find the pieces with which we seemlessly fit, doing our part to complete the puzzle, and become whole.

And when you are a part of a group, a loving family, a tight knit cluster of friends, you feel a glimpse of that joy that comes from being whole. Of course the entire puzzle may not be constructed, but we relax and feel in control when our own section starts to form. And darkness overcomes us when we try to force two pieces to fit together, when they are not meant to.

So remember, do not destroy or damage other pieces, as the whole picture will then be unable to come together. Each puzzle piece is important, including yourself. Connect with those that you fit with, but do not force a connection when it is wrong. In time you will all be one, but the puzzle must be naturally constructed.

And when all the pieces fall tightly into place and we exist as a puzzle, as one, we will all forget what it felt like to be a piece of a puzzle, and live on endlessly as one, unfathomably content because we are complete.

Addicted to Happiness: The Brain is Your Dopamine Dealer

I decided to see if there was any science behind the fact that I love vacations (I know, who doesn’t?) and it seems to alter my brain activity. What I found suggests that, like many other enjoyable things, more dopamine is released when you are on vacation enjoying yourself. You see, I may actually be addicted to vacationing.

In the past, dopamine rewarded humans by being released to promote survival. Psychology Today uses an example of a berry patch being found, which promoted survival for primitive humans. So the next time they saw a berry patch, or something that last time led to a berry patch, dopamine is released. This ensures the brain is rewarding things that will help you survive.

But it is not always like that these days, probably because it is so easy to survive. An alcoholic gets a dose of dopamine when he sees a bar, and a doctor when he finishes a surgery. I get a dose of dopamine when I explore a new city. But if I always went to the same city, my brain would not release as much dopamine, so I would need to find a new place to explore in order to get the old “high”.

I made this from Caribbean shells that I picked up in February on my cruise, and first vacation of the year. I attached them to a piece of palm bark from Georgia on my way home from my last vacation of the year. Even though I can't always be on vacation, I can bring back the memories and feelings when I see my little creation.

I made this from Caribbean shells that I picked up in February on my cruise, the first vacation this year. I attached them to a piece of palm bark from Georgia that I found on my way home from my last vacation of the year. Even though I can’t always be on vacation, I can bring back the memories and feelings when I see my little creation.

This is the same thing that happens with setting, working towards, and accomplishing goals. Each of these things encourages your brain to release dopamine, thus helping you on your way to “survival”. When I talk about this small goal/ large goal paradigm to promote happiness, this is the scientific explanation behind it.

Everything that makes your brain release dopamine will inevitably get old, or run its course, which is why you need to always have different types of goals you are working towards and accomplishing. Once you accomplish a goal though, your brain is going to want another. Otherwise, the absence of dopamine will make you feel sad. That is why it is important to diversify your goals, and your hobbies.

Work goals should not be your only source of dopamine, because then you might not be happy when you are at home. And hobbies cannot be your only source of dopamine, because then you will become irritated in other settings. The Psychology Today article points out that we need to make peace with our “unhappy” brain chemicals in order to reap the full benefits of the “happy” chemicals like dopamine.

Eventually your brain will be rewired to the point where it knows it can survive the unhappy chemicals. It is like replacing instant gratification with long term rewards. If you can wait it out, and weather the boring or unhappy times, the dopamine reward in your brain will be that much better when it comes.

If the chemistry behind your feelings interests you, check out the Psychology Today article. It also talks about the other “happy chemicals” that course through your brain. If dopamine equals success, serotonin equals importance, oxytocin trust, and endorphins “brief euphoria that masks physical pain”.

They are all released by our brains to promote survival, though congruent with my theory, our brain is essentially still serving cave man needs. That is why it is important and beneficial to understand our brains, so that we can usher them into the modern era, and make them work for us, instead of being a slave to our brain chemicals.

Do It For The Perspective: Money Isn’t the Only Valuable

I’m back! As in, vacation me which is my natural state of happy existence. Even my cousin could tell the change in tone from when I started this blog in July, and as of late. But there is something about getting out there, seeing new things, and talking to new people that breaks down this mundane and lethargic shell. The shell that says it is not that important to enjoy every minute of life, the shell that convinces us money is more important than living life to the fullest.

[By the way I’m going to mix in pictures of Barrow throughout this post for no apparent reason other than it makes me happy.]

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Being a relatively responsible person, I was a bit stressed about money before this trip. And it helped that I spent about $70 fewer dollars on gas on the way down. But really at the end of the day, I know I am not going to go into crippling debt. So why would I let a few hundred dollars make or break a vacation?

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So of course my advice to you all is go do it. Whatever it may be for you. Catch up with college friends, family members; this week will hopefully be full of that (as long as you don’t get snowed in). The more often I change my scenery, the easier it is for me to understand that it is far more important to live than exist. But it is a good thing I planned this trip far off, because when I am out of real-me-mode, it does seem a lot easier and cheaper to just stay home. If I had waited until last week to make a decision on this trip, I probably wouldn’t have taken it. Kind of like my New York City trip, where I was on the edge until the night before: “It is going to be such a hassle!”

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Yea, you know what, it is a hassle. And everything in the world is a cost benefit balance. The benefits of enjoying myself and growing as a person far outweigh the monetary, time, and energy costs of taking these trips. I don’t see the family that is down here super often, so having the chance to connect over the last few days (and the next) has been amazing. What if I had forgone this trip, and not spent time with my relatives, reconnecting, and getting to know each other more? Well maybe it wouldn’t have been so noticeable on the outside, but really it would be another crack in the pillar of happiness. Instead, I threw down some mortar, and popped another block on top of that pillar.

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Perspective is valuable.

In a material society it is hard to place value on things that you can’t hold in your hand, or buy for $300. But maybe we should stop thinking of our lives as separated: the family self, the friend self, the work self. Maybe it is time to think of skills and knowledge as something that will make us whole. Life experiences should grow you as a person, not separate you into different people. It could help to think less of, “How will this increase my earning potential?” or “Is this the most I could gain during my only 6 hours off this week?”

I used to only read non-fiction political books. I wanted to go into politics (what was wrong with me?!) so I didn’t want to waste my time reading non-fiction. This is especially ironic since I am now writing fiction books; turns out all that fiction wasn’t a waste of time! But even if I didn’t want to write, it would not have been a waste of my time. That is because A, it was enjoyable, and enjoying your time is not a waste, and B, perspective!

How can you think you know what is up with the world if you have only viewed it from one angle? How can you think you know yourself if you have only viewed you from one angle. I’m finding I like vacation me best. I’m more positive and I have more fun. It is a struggle to keep that attitude while not on vacation, but at least I have a marker, a goal. When do you like yourself the most? That is the real you. You do you.

Perspective makes you less judgmental.

Yesterday I stopped by an outdoor bar on the Gulf of Mexico. I ordered a Yuengling which just so happened to help strike up a conversation with the grey goateed man with a Harley hat named Eric sitting next to me. He was from Philadelphia, where one of the breweries is based, and my bartender was asking me if I noticed a difference between southern and northern Yuengling because of the different brewing locations (I didn’t).

So anyway we get to talking and he is telling me about all the redneck guys in the area. Sure, there was some poking fun at them, but the crux of the story was that they were some of the nicest guys he has met. One big burly man walked up to Eric while Eric was with his friends. “Is that Eric?” The friends tensed up, was trouble brewing? “JOE!!” Yells Eric and jumps to his feet to give Joe a big bear hug, because that is how they greet each other whenever they cross paths.

At a local bar Eric once walked in, and some ZZ Top looking fellas said (or maybe it was their beer that said it), “Who’s this f**ing guy?” Eric just laughed, “How you doing boys”, and bought them each a round of beer ($2.50 for a PBR, not bad). The rest of the night, they were like old friends. Now THAT is how to diffuse a situation. Eric had perspective, and was not going to be brought down. Turns out he was a Sociology major, just like me.

Perspective makes you less stressed out.

It could be so much worse. I could have been left alone from 15 up raising a younger sibling while Dad just dropped off groceries once a week. Maybe that is why he can’t read so well. I could be called weekly by a parent’s neighbors to come round them up. Maybe that is where his stress comes from. Those are real people I met: awesome people who are productive, nice, and don’t complain.

I’m not immune, I still complain. But the more perspective you get, the more pathetic you feel for complaining that you had to wait 30 minutes to get picked up from CCD (you like the plug Mom and Dad?). Oh right, and I have a Mom and Dad who care enough to encourage me with what I want to do (even though it doesn’t make me money yet), and read my work. Thanks 🙂

I could break down on the drive home halfway back. But you know what? I wouldn’t be alone. Yea, physically I would. But it would not rest solely on my shoulders to get me out of there, and that is priceless. How can I be stressed out when I think of the worst that could happen, and it really isn’t that bad.

I’m happy, I’m grateful, I’m energetic, and I want you all to be too! I love positive people. Be positive. It is not always a competition, you can encourage others without feeling less about yourself. Do what you love, when possible don’t stress. Set goals, big and small. But most important, don’t just exist, live.

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Breaking the Cycle: From Ideas to Action

Yesterday I talked about the plethora of options we have in life, and the vast opportunities available for personal gain and fulfillment. But in some sense, it was mostly a theoretical post. Although I gave you my experiences on how I am “breaking the cycle”, there was not much in the way of how others can break the cycle.

Here was a comment from that post:

I think your next post should be “How to break the cycle”. You may have already discussed this in an earlier post with a link to a TED talk, but I think a lot of people end up at a job they hate out of lack of direction or necessity to pay the bills and then wake up one day and they have been there for 5, 10, 20 years and at that point they have invested (or feel that they have invested) too much time to walk away. How do you decide today is the day I am done? Also, how do you harvest your talents for monetary gain? I do not plan to work for my company forever, but I think the scary part can come when you are unable to recognize that you either have talents, or that your talents are valuable to yourself or others. If you do not see value in your own skills or the things you enjoy, then how will you ever market yourself to get a paycheck out of them? Essentially, the scariness factor in leaving your job would directly correlate to your level of self-confidence.

Now, part of the problem is that, like I am talking about, there are countless avenues to follow in life, so there is no one answer on how to break away from the rat race and daily grind. But I think we can all take small steps as part of a bigger goal. While it might work for some people to up and quit their jobs on a whim, most people need some kind of security or back-up plan.

Figuring Out An Alternative

The first problem might be that you don’t know of any way to monetize your passions, or don’t know which passions to try to monetize. This is where you need to do some brainstorming. Write a list of all the businesses you would want to start, if money was not an option. Write a list of all the jobs you would want, if you had the skills and training. Make a list of all your skills, from excel worksheets to gardening, from cleaning toilets to running.

Rate the skills from 1-10 on how much you enjoy doing each one, or rate them in order from most to least enjoyable. Rate the jobs and business lists with 1-10 based on which one you would enjoy the most, and which ones would be the easiest to land. Maybe even group some together if one would be a step to another; example: you want to be a nurse, but you need to go to school first, however you could immediately get a job at a nursing home, which you would find more rewarding than your current job.

You may have a skill you want to focus on, but that itself cannot earn you money. Example: you love to paint or knit, but cannot realistically make a living selling the things you paint or knit. But you could teach others how to paint or knit, or perhaps run one of those bar painting classes. You may never be a pro-tennis player, but could you teach others how to play tennis?

Perhaps you cannot realistically quit your job until you find something to replace it with equal income. You might need to work on something at night or on weekends. The time spent training, studying, building, planning is an investment, and like any investment it can pay off or not. Sometimes it is straightforward like taking night classes to earn a specific degree or certification. Sometimes it is more about building a clientele, or  gaining exposure, or putting together a website.

Plan it out. If you earn the degree, what is the next step to getting the job? If you finish the website, what is the next step to gaining traffic? If you acquire clients, can you fulfill their needs in your free time, and can you sustain them or are they limited time customers? Will your business spread by word of mouth, or do you need another method?

The more planning you do the more confident and comfortable you will be in leaving your job. If you fall short on your planning, it might mean you need to spend more time getting prepared before you can move onto the next step. But usually the planning stages are fun and can invigorate you to make the change quicker. If the planning stages are not exciting, it may be a sign that the end result would not be exciting either.

Planning the Move

I think people in the position of hating their job or being stuck in a rut need to assess what they want and need. If you quit your job, run out of money in two weeks, and start sinking into debt, that is not a long term solution and any momentary happiness will quickly wane.

But if you have a dream already, if you are set in the change you want to make, if you know what you want you just can’t pull the trigger: set a plan in motion to nudge you towards action.

Maybe you know that you need a certain amount of money to live, and a certain amount to start your new venture, whatever that may be. You could save up enough for 4 months before quitting, attempt turning your passion into an income full time for at least 3 months, then reassess to see if you can continue at the same rate, or need to make extra money on the side.

Or you could figure out your actual expenses, strictly budget yourself, and take up a lower paying, but more rewarding job (or at least less time consuming). While doing this job, exploring your interests and honing your skills, you can be planning for your next step. Are you working at the type of store you want to open? Are you gaining skills that will help you start a blog on a certain subject? Are you networking with people in your field to find the next opportunity? Or are you building your future in the newly acquired free time?

Not ready to make the decision on a whim? Set a date in the distance, possibly adding some checkpoints along the way. Set savings goals so that you have more freedom from bills. Keep a jar and put money in it every time you decide not to get a coffee or fast food. Decide at what dollar amount you will leave your current job.

What’s the Worst that could happen?

The not so easy part to answer is if you do not believe in yourself. It is easy for me to say, go out and do it, but I don’t know you. But chances are, if you are not confident, you are underestimating yourself.

Bertrand Russel said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts”. Honestly, it is good to have doubts. It shows you are assessing things properly: weighing the risks and rewards. It is not, however, good to let those doubts rule you. They have their place, but it is a support role, not a central piece.

It may help to write down your doubts, and follow them to their logical conclusion. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen. I decided to start this blog in July. What is the worst that could happen? No one reads it, or people read it and criticize it. The worst outcome is losing time writing (not that bad since it is still good practice), and the $8 per year for the domain name.

But don’t just be negative, write down the best case scenario as well. My blog takes off, millions of people read it, and I become the millionaire voice of a generation. See, things can only get so bad, but the possible benefits are practically limitless. It may be less likely to end that well, but since the possible negative is negligible, there is really no point in not trying.

Obviously some things will have more negatives, and it is up to you to honestly assess what outcome is most likely. But base your assessment on something, not just “everything goes wrong for me”. Worst case scenario for starting a running shoe store for me would be going into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and possible bankruptcy. But is that likely if I do my homework in the first place?

If I look into the area I want to start a store: how much rent will cost, what the population is like, if it is a rich or poor area, will the bank give me a loan, and can I recapture any capital if things go south? You may find the worst case scenario is unlikely to happen. While even if things do not end up ideal, perhaps vendors will take back their product for a refund, or perhaps the type of loan can be restructured.

It is useful to realize the full repercussions of what could happen. But those possible negatives should not paralyze you. The worst case scenario should be incentive to make sure you pick a good area, do your homework, and run a tight ship.

While there are always unforeseen circumstances and hurdles, you are not helpless; your life is not completely out of your control. You can affect what happens to you, your business, your ideas, and your life.

It may all be a dream right now, but just because your grand plan will take 5 or 10 years to come to fruition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it. In fact start now, and in 10 years you will be happy you did. Otherwise you might look back ten years from now and say, wow, I could have earned a degree by now, I could have saved up $100,000 by now, or I could be quitting today to start my own business. But I didn’t start making moves because ten years seemed so far away; almost unattainable.

It is daunting to look ahead with no light at the end of the tunnel. But if not now, then when?

Write a letter to your future self, and seal it with the date you want to read it on. Tell yourself your goals. Capture your enthusiasm and chastise your future self if they lose faith; congratulate your future self if they have made progress. Maybe even respond to the letter, setting more goals, probably shifting the game plan, and seal them up again. This might just be a fun activity for self improvement even if it is not career related or life changing.

Putting My Ideas into Action

Let me end by relating this back to me, because I’m not a success story, I am trying to carve out my niche in this world as well.

I want to publish a book. Well really I want to publish multiple books, and have planned out a whole series that takes place in the same universe. Last January, I had an outline and 0 words. Today I have finished the first draft of 63,000 words that my family and friends are now editing.

Worst case scenario is I wasted a lot of time. But even if this book is not published, I have gained so much writing experience. Now I am ready to start writing another book from the same series, and I get pangs of anxiety since even if I start today, it will be at least March before I am finished. Well if I wait until March I will have nothing and be in the same position as I am now. And if I hadn’t started writing the first one in January, I would still be going back and forth, unsure if I want to possibly waste all that time.

But I pulled the trigger back in January to start, and now have a story, and 63,000 words that I have crafted together to form a novel. I remember when I hit 1,000 words, and 10,000 words, and 30,000 words and thinking about how much further I had to go. It would be easy to have a half finished book on my google drive that every time I go to work on I convince myself not to waste my time, since there is so far to go. But I didn’t do that, and I can now say with certainty that I can write a full length book, thus encouraging me that much more for the next one.

Action begets action. You may not be ready to quit your job, but you can take out a notebook and make the first move.