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Life Advice: Listen to your big brother

In the probability of you not having a big brother, you could listen to mine. You are most welcome.

The beginning of Appreciation

Is it me or does it become easier to appreciate your siblings the older that you get? They start seeming more like humans, less like Barbie doll mansion wrecking machines. Do you remember how irritating it used to be when your parents would ask you to watch your brother or sister? Or how useless it was to try and enjoy a game when sibling x would continually get it wrong/cheat/win because they were simply so much better?

It builds character to say the least, whether it builds you into an awesome person or an annoying baby, is up to you I suppose.

Let’s stick to appreciation, especially to all the big brothers out there.

Disclaimer: Sisters are lacking in my life, so I can’t speak for that experience; my outfits have always been exclusive to me. However growing up with brothers, my food and my personal space were shared commodities.

Let’s call them older siblings, send this out to them because its their birthday, or birth week, or actually simply because they were born before us. They did us a favor and started out tripping and falling a few steps ahead of us. They made it easy for us to expect traps, and hopefully learn to not fall in the same way, yet when we did, they had stories to tell and advice to give about that one time a similar thing happened to them.

Ladies and gentlemen! Life is not easy. It is so fun when you get to have an older version of your genes and blood living in a unique manner. I want to obliterate everything deep from the impact of such experience and simply talk about the amount of fun you get to have FOREVER. Especially if your sibling is ultimately and for years to come cooler than you.

I recognize how linear I am drawing life to be. Surely experiences don’t occur on a first come first serve basis; if they had, life experiences would have been fully consumed by now; after tens of millions of human lives on earth. I promise you that is not where I’m going.

Life Advice: the wisdom of the siblings

I actually want to share with you some amazing older brother wisdom; a concept he had taught me over 10 years ago, he was only 22 or so back then, I was 16 years old. I decided to visually depict it today, I brought back “Perception A” from basic memory, and as you can see, very basic. The second perception, he drew in the air for me a few days ago during a conversation that began with Rick and Morty, centered around dramatic life realizations and ended with Rick and Morty.

life paths

If our life was a movie, my brother would have to be the character with the most character development. The above perceptions are simple. They tell you that at some point -perception A- he believed that he had to teach me not to give up. After every crash comes a good climb to the top. He was a step ahead always, so he also felt that a slide was to be expected after every high point. The notion was quite extreme, but helped immensely, during my down phases. I’d stay positive, during my up phases I’d get ready, and stay realistic.

This has been modified today. Life, in hindsight, becomes a process filled with major life events of varying colors-perception B. It stops being a long way up and long crash down; you become smarter, your breaks get better and your wings get bigger.

Having somebody you love and trust tread the life path ahead of you helps. When they are brave, lively and very honest is a plus too. It helps when someone nods back at us and tells us that its all going to be alright even when they aren’t so sure of it either.

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

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Are you a Giver? Read this

This is for the givers, the doers free of charge, the lantern carriers when all are screaming “it’s too dark”. This is for the flame bearers, the fire breathers, and the fearless among the crowd.

Why am I writing about you? Well, because I like to think of myself as one of you, although some might digress, but that is a rant for another day.

So who are the givers?

They give time in the face of abandonment and unavailability, they give money in the face of greed and wealth hoarding, or love in the face of hateful speech and actions, or acceptance in the face of rejection. Are you a serial doer of any of the mentioned actions? Do you do so before you think about the real price of what you are giving? Do you live like this and worry about the returns later or never?

But what happens when you consider the returns today?

What do you do when your bag feels empty? Who gives you time? money? love? acceptance? Do you harbor a slight resentment for yourself or others, and all the seemingly “mindless” actions you have taken to bring yourself to this state of emptiness, of exhaustion of all of your resources? It might feel as though you are wasting your energy, when it seems as though the winners around you are takers. They succeed because they hold on to everything they can carry, and what they drop, well, they have people scurrying behind them picking up after them. Those people stay on top because of people like you, the givers. It is easy to think like this, to want to divert from living such life, because why the hell should you? as simple as that.

The story doesn’t end here you know. The story doesn’t end with you losing all that you have given to all the takers. The story ends where you decide it does, where you let it. See there is an unforeseen power that comes with the ability to give, because we live within a generation that is quite obsessed with having it all. We want the romantic relationship, a one true love story, but we also want the flings, the crazy crushes, the “Netflix and chill”. We want the bountiful success, we want to win but then who learns from winning alone, we have a special interest in the idea of failure and rising up again. We want the beautiful fit bodies, but we also really want to be “Foodies” who eat anything and everything for the sake of our taste buds and that review. We want everything, and really regardless of how contradictory our desires are, we seek it all.

The catch

So giver, where do you fit in this space? Who are you in this world, and what role do you plan on performing? Before you answer, consider 2 main givens:

You are extremely powerful if you are a giver.

You are extremely unaware of your power, if you keep on finding yourself empty, vacant and consumed.

Power is with those who have resources, and in this day and age, time, money, love, and acceptance are resources. People are creating empires out of those, think Gary Veynerchuck, Tony Robbins, Jason Silva, (and yes I realize there are no women in there -I will work on that ASAP, and your recommendations are welcome!) those are just a few people on my personal radar.

You must acknowledge the value of the resources you are offering, and when you do, you must direct them to the right places, projects and people, even and especially at yourself. Be efficient with your power, be smart and do not victimize yourself. Notice the darkness surrounding you, carry your torch high, straighten your back and walk to the forefront. You lead when you are a giver. You guide and empower, you make the first move.

You are the wild card, believe it, own it, and notice how when you take the reigns, the takers follow in your footsteps and not the other way around.

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The Power of Anchoring

Look here,

A ship drops its anchor so that it doesn’t drift away. It sails through waters shallow and deep, through conditions stormy or mellow. It adjusts. A ship’s most important purpose is to sail, not sink. Sounds simpler than it is?

You might think that this is an article about sailing, and you are right, it is. Except, you are the ship in this scenario. Try to entertain the image for a second; hold on to it, I’m going somewhere with this.

Now that the ship metaphor is set, remember Inception? you know, the movie about the double and triple layers of dreams; where nobody knows what’s real? Leonardo DiCaprio? I hope it rings a bell. If you’ve seen the movie, then you surely were left questioning its end. Was he still in limbo, or was that his reality? His totem never came to a halt.

Totems are objects carried by the characters through reality and in their dreams, where a single aspect of the totem (rotation, falling to one side..etc) helps them determine whether the current situation is a dream or reality. Those little objects were important queues to their sanity, to their perception of reality, they determined the kinds of decisions they made.

Can you tell where I’m heading with this?

Introducing the concept of anchoring in your daily life

Fortunately for most, determining the difference between dream and reality is not a major problem, Yet acknowledging the ridiculous levels of stress you have is. Wanting to stop mid day and scream that you profoundly don’t care about most of the things you pretend to pay attention to is not unusual. But, that stress is yours, your thoughts are yours and those experiences are yours to be lived. Still with me? In the chaos of everyday, you deserve a pause, a small time out where you anchor, where you remind yourself of what’s real. Anchoring helps you assess your surroundings, and act accordingly. To panic or not to panic? That is the real question.

How do you anchor?

There are many techniques to help you anchor despite the difficulties. Here are two that I’ve experimented with:

1- Carry your own totem, could be a bracelet, a key chain, a marble…etc anything tiny and portable. The trick is to mentally link that totem with a series of thoughts that center you. Picture this: You are in a stressful situation, you reach into your pocket to find your phone, but your fingers graze the soft surface of the marble. Now there is your queue. That is your anchor. Take a deep breath, don’t say anything, another deep breath, think about anchoring, as though your mind took a break, assess your situation, are my thoughts necessary? are my actions necessary? Do i really need to feel this way right now?

Consider your totem a stop sign asking you to calm down, a sign to straighten up your thoughts. It requires practice, but it is highly beneficial.

2- Physically remove yourself from the situation even if for a few minutes and take deep breaths, with the mental plan of calming down. Take yourself on a visual imaginary journey to a location you love, if only for a few seconds in your mind. I usually take myself into the center of lake Como, in Italy; it always does the trick. Other times I imagine myself seated at the highest top of a snowy mountain but feeling absolutely warm, and distant from every human and place on earth; also does the trick. Our minds can’t tell the difference between a physical and mental vacation, it’s all about conviction and attitude.

Lastly, Why is anchoring important?

In the midst of anger, frustration and hotheadedness you rid yourself of clarity, when you let your intense negative thoughts take over, you become blind, and most of the times you lose. So try identifying the situation and attitude you are having right now. Does it seem too difficult, overwhelming, stressful, dark and ominous? Then there is your queue to anchor. Once you do, your temper goes down, your heart races less and you notice the little clues surrounding you telling you exactly what to do and say.

Anchoring allows you to slow down and let go, it allows you to recalibrate. Think of it as a reloading of energy, reassigning of seats. You are the captain, not the situation. And a captain either sails with her ship or sinks with it.

So learn your anchoring techniques and give yourself a tap on the shoulder for not sinking today.

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The Life Game: Set your build to win

Inspiration found me this morning as I was scrolling through my Facebook homepage. A video posted compares your human life from birth to end to a video game; and goes through the entire logical process in less than four minutes. As an avid gamer myself, it was both ironic and creative to say the least.

The oversimplification made me think about the struggles we go through in order to achieve our goals whatever they might be. I, eventually as anybody would, started thinking about myself and how I manage to balance my life, the things that helped me progress, how I owned my experiences and continue to learn every step of the way. Three major elements keep me in check: practicing mindfulness, dedication to physical fitness and consistency for professional achievement. Yet the thought of attempting to balance mindfulness, physical fitness and professional achievement might induce so much anxiety, that you dismiss the possibility before even trying it. But consider this:

Your life game begins with a standard build, note that I’m dismissing socio-economic status as a start because I am solely talking about “free skills”. Mindfulness, fitness and achievement are unaffected by your external conditions, you could be at top of the ladder or starting from scratch, this should apply to you indiscriminately.

Your standard human build can take you far enough up until the challenges are more complex, and until the challengers facing you have learned new skills and developed their build. Then you will feel stuck, possibly defeated and exhausted by life. While you are still using your basic fight or flight mechanism, others have mastered self-control and tend to stand and fight in situations you would definitely flee, as that is your original coding, undeveloped.

Master the skill of Mindfulness

To learn this skill, you have to recognize that every human’s basic build consists of personal experience; a lived past, a happening present and a subjective perception of a future. You have to acknowledge your past, own your experience, identify the lessons you have to learn, seek help if it proves to be difficult. You have to acknowledge the blessing of being alive, of having breath run through you. Identify with that breath on a daily basis, and practice being in the present moment, thankful and adamant on self-love not selfishness. The future will be taken care of, when you master the other two skills.

Master the skill of physical fitness

To learn this skill, you have to recognize that your average build body, if no disabilities are present, is intended for mobility and functional movement. The less you use it for that purpose, the faster you deteriorate and battle numerous glitches and viruses, and the sooner you lose the game. Start with respecting the functionality of your body, follow a fitness program, the little achievements you make whether touching your toes when you couldn’t or performing a series of back flips on command, all reflect on your overall performance in the life game. You will become stronger and empowered, your build allows you to tackle challenges differently. Little achievement matter just as much as big ones. The flip-side of a series of fails, is the consistency that leads to lessons learned and essentially achievement by virtue of trial and error.

Mastering those skills helps you recharge your spirit and your body. You will recognize your weaknesses and deal with them before it’s too late. You will be ahead in your game.

Mastering the skill of professional achievement

To learn this skill, you must have a clear goal. You have to know why you are in the job and what you plan on achieving by remaining in it for a certain time period. There is no shortage of opportunities, even in today’s economy. Identify where you are on the resourcefulness scale and make your decisions accordingly. Don’t let fear stop you from taking a leap into the next level. But make sure that your boots will jump high enough and your build can stand the impact of a miscalculation.

The life game is different for each and every one of us. We all have the capacity to improve and to develop ourselves in continuously competitive and challenging game play. Stay curious, stay present and improve with every opportunity you get. Keep your head in the game, and believe that winning everyday is actually possible as long as you are in the game.