Why “Let Go” Is Terrible Advice (& what you should do instead)

Have you ever been trying to solve a problem for hours, only for the solution to come to you the minute you decide to give up?

Have you ever wanted something so badly, only to have it spontaneously come to you as soon as you stop wanting it?

This is what economist John Kay calls obliquity – achieving goals by aiming away from them. 

But why does this happen?

Well for one, while most people think of human beings as things, it’s more accurate to look at us as systems. For example, microorganisms outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 – though they only make up around 1-3 percent of our body weight. Each of these microorganisms has its own goals, as does each human cell, and each system that these cells form. Circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, reproductive systems and so on, all have one or more drives (and these are only the systems that we’ve discovered, or feel are worth labelling). 

Any “thing” that happens in your experience – like letting go – is not an isolated event. It’s just the part of the system that you’re paying attention to. John Donne said, “No man is an Island.” And he was right. Unless of course, that island contains a complex ecosystem with multiple agents and influences. 

We can’t let go of our beliefs any more than clouds “let go” of rain. The reality is that if letting go was really something you could do; you’d just let go of your problems right now and wash your hands of them forever. 

But that’s not what happens. Instead, your mind clings onto the problem for as long as it can. You believe that you want to let go, and it feels like you’re trying to, but day-after-day you find yourself clinging to the same old problems. 

Then finally, out of nowhere, there is a moment of relief – and we call this “letting go.” 

Sometimes this relief is a partial realisation which whispers, “well this is way more complicated than I can get my head around, so I should just take a step back and relax.”

Other times it might be an overwhelming realisation which screams “none of this is up to you, there’s nothing you can do.”

But here’s the kicker.

The reason we hold onto habits is that the system of “you” still believes that it’s worth it to do so. Even if you “feel” like you want to let go, and you “try” to let go. 

You didn’t come to let go by becoming the best letting-goerer (google it). Letting go was a result of the network of thoughts, perceptions, feelings and beliefs, concluding that letting go (or giving up) was the right option. 

As long as that network is still convinced that it is in the best interest of the system, you’ll hold on. 

Surrender isn’t something you do, it’s a by-product of seeing that a belief you held is false and harmful. This can take time, physical addictions are examples of situations where we can logically understand that something is harmful, but unconsciously, somatically, neurochemically – there is still an investment in the addiction. 

A lot of goals in personal development (and under the guise of spiritual development), are actually a by-product of seeing the falsehood in long-held beliefs. 

Compassion, for example, is what naturally results when we see that we’re not as separate as we once believed. Our separation and boundaries are purely conceptual, and an experience of sharing pain or pleasure with someone can make this very clear. Real compassion is spontaneous action that is free from any self-service. Being compassionate so you feel better, or as a form of virtue signalling is not compassion. 

Acceptance isn’t taking a deep breath and saying, “I’m ok with this.” Then white-knuckling your way through the day. That’s simply pretending to accept. Real acceptance is the immediate coming to terms with the inescapability what’s happening right now. Whether you’re sick or in pain or just mildly uncomfortable, it’s already happening and it’s already here.

Peace of mind isn’t a result of attempting to force thoughts out of your mind. It’s what happens when the brain-body-mind system sees that thoughts are causing more harm than good, and there is more to be gained by giving thoughts less attention.  

Happiness isn’t what happens when you get what you want. It’s what happens when there is an absence of interest or investment in the stories of your suffering which frees up energy that is used to engage in life.

So, where does that leave you?

Well, for one, I would recommend that you don’t beat yourself up for still having thoughts, beliefs and emotions that you would prefer to let go of. Instead, I’d suggest that you recognise that “it is what it is” and there’s nothing we can do about the fact they’re already here. This is clearly easier said than done – particularly with deep attachments.

I would also suggest that you don’t try to force yourself to let go. That will cause frustration. Instead, try and see why it doesn’t make any sense to keep holding on. 

Maybe you’re worried about a comment a friend made about you behind your back. Instead of thinking “I wish I could STOP worrying about this.” Try taking a measured, stoic approach and see how it goes. “Why is this silly to keep holding onto?” “What do I get from holding onto this day after day?” “Can I really be sure that this is what they think of me?”

In short, don’t let go. Just see what subtle belief is benefiting from “holding on” – and challenge it relentlessly. Patience is useful because you can’t force yourself to let go of a strong habit overnight. Oftentimes they take a bit more time to unravel.

For more about questioning unhelpful beliefs, check out the following posts: 

21 Viktor Frankl Quotes on the Meaning of Life, Love, and Suffering

Viktor Frankl Quotes

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” – Erich Fromm

When we intuit authority or truth to someone else’s words of wisdom, we could say that we are instinctively judging them on three things.

Firstly, the validity of their experience. We need to know that they have firsthand experience with the peaks and troughs of life, that they haven’t been sheltered from either the extreme good or bad sides of human nature. We also consider the context within which their ideas are being expressed, and try to gauge if they’re still relevant for us.

Secondly, we look at their motives. What do they stand to gain from the wisdom that is being shared? Is there a monetary incentive? Do they have a heavy cultural or experiential bias in favour of the view that they’re sharing?

Finally, we consider their history and relationship with suffering. Suffering is the common thread which ties together any searches for meaning and resulting wisdom. The seeking in and of itself to be said to a universal reaction to the tension of human existence.

When we consider these three criteria, Viktor Frankl is one man who manages to tick all boxes.

An Austrian Psychotherapist, Frankl was the found of logotherapy, a method of existential analysis that placed meaning and suffering as the cornerstone around which much psychological dysfunction could be assessed and treated.

Frankl’s ideas can be summarised in three points:

  1. Our primary motivation is our will to find meaning in life
  2. Meaning can be found in any circumstances when we give ourselves over to something greater than our self, whether that is a cause or another person
  3. We always have the freedom to find meaning, even in the face of unchangeable suffering

However, Frankl’s psychoanalytic views were not merely theory. In fact, they were practical in every sense, as in 1944 he was sent to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, and forced to explore his beliefs right down to their core.

A combination of luck and will allowed him to survive the experience, and he went on to write his seminal work ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ which has sold over 10 million copies and been translated into 24 languages.

When we look at his life in context, Frankl’s ideas emerge from a compelling experience, his motives are pure – he originally intended to publish the book anonymously – and his relationship with suffering unquestionable. To that end, the wisdom he offers transcends his time, and his books are incredibly valuable.

I STRONGLY recommend you watch this short video before reading the quotes, it will give you a richer understand of the context in which his profound words emerged!

So, without further ado, here are 35 quotes by Viktor Frankl on meaning, living, love, suffering, and compassion. This includes excerpts from his books Man’s Search For Meaning, Man’s Ultimate Search For Meaning, and The Doctor and the Soul.

Viktor Frankl Quotes On Meaning

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct.”

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

“The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualisation is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualisation is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”

Though he underwent horrific life circumstances, Frankl’s drive to find meaning was insatiable. He was a firm believer in the ability for human beings to act with a degree of dignity regardless of their circumstances.

Viktor Frankl Quotes On Living

“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent.”

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”

“We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents…sometimes the ‘unfinished’ are among the most beautiful symphonies.” 

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

 “The consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot be shaken by camp life. But how many free men, let alone prisoners, possess it?”

“I do not forget any good deed done to me and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”

Frankl’s commitment to personal responsibility and commitment to a higher cause was profound, and reflects an attitude of a lot of existential thinkers. Though a scientist, he deeply valued the spiritual nature of life, and took to it with a gratitude and a humor that we often find in eastern traditions.

Viktor Frankl Quotes On Love

“For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

“Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self.”

“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is able to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized.”

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“I do not forget any good deed done to me and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”

“I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.”

Frankl’s belief in the importance of love was a result of the unbelievable sustenance that his own love for his wife gave him during his time in Auschwitz. He saw love as a key ingredient that fuelled meaning, and found in his own experience that it made him more resilient than he could have imagined.

Viktor Frankl Quotes On Suffering

“To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

“It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.”

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.”

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”

“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.”

“To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”

“What is to give light must endure burning.”

Suffering, life love, was to Frankl another aspect of the human condition that was both fundamental and infinitely flexible. He noticed not only how far suffering could go, but also how human beings could respond to it and what could be learned from it.

Viktor Frankl Quotes On Compassion

“Today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in doing so blurs the decisive difference being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness. If one is not cognizant of this difference and holds that an individual’s value stems only from his present usefulness, then, believe me, one owes it only to personal inconsistency not to plead for euthanasia along the lines of Hitler’s program, that is to say, ‘mercy’ killing of all those who have lost their social usefulness, be it because of old age, incurable illness, mental deterioration, or whatever handicap they may suffer.”

“No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honest whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.”

“Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.”

“If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if we overestimate him…we promote him to what he really can be.”

Reading Frankl’s words, you understand that he was a deeply compassionate person. He was able to express sympathy for not only his fellow prisoners of war, but also his captors. This echoes ideas that have been explored in religions all around the world, particularly long-term meditators in the East, and is a direct result of his contact with such extreme aspects of human nature.

If you enjoyed this article or have any questions, please leave a comment in the comments section below or send me an email at ben@projectmonkeymind.com, I’d love to hear from you!

How To Get Something Off Your Mind (10 Life-Changing Psychological Hacks!)

How To Get Something Off Your Mind

Have you ever had an itch that you just can’t seem to scratch?

Maybe it’s just out of reach, maybe your hands were tied behind your back, or maybe you did scratch it, but it just kept on coming back.

In the beginning it’s just uncomfortable, but after a while, it’s almost like a form of torture.

But this itch doesn’t need to be physical. Sometimes it’s psychological. This discomfort is the same feeling we get when we can’t get something off our mind. When no matter how much we try to avoid it, this thought just keeps on popping up and playing itself over and over again.

Whether we’re thinking about someone we used to know, a future event we’re worried about, or an imaginary argument with a coworker, as time goes on this thing on our mind starts to bring us a lot of discomfort.

At a certain point, what we want is to be done with it. To let it go and bring our attention to something else. 

To understand how to get something off your mind, you need to understand how the mind works. Although it’s an incredibly complex piece of machinery, there are certain general attitudes that the mind seems to follow, which we can use as principles to guide our behaviour. We could even think about these attitudes as different goals or personalities. 

woman stressed can't stop thoughts

The mind is:

A problem-solving machine. Because evolution has allowed us to develop a mind for problem-solving, it always wants a new idea to ‘figure out.’ Where there are no problems it will create one. 

An addict. The mind finds what it likes and it sticks to it. Worries are addictive because they give the mind something to chew on. 

A fake scientist. The mind likes to believe it uses flawless logic to study the world. At the same time, it will often act in incredibly irrational and unscientific ways (like creating fake scenarios and playing them on loop for hours). You can use this to your advantage though. By proving the mind wrong, it will lose momentary interest.

A reflection of the body. The mind follows the body. Quite simply, when you are sick and in pain, you don’t have the same thoughts you have when you’re healthy. 

A reflection of emotions. Emotions may be considered psychological, but they happen in the body first and foremost. Over 130 studies have shown that even intentionally changing your facial expressions – such as smiling – can change the thoughts you have.

Not reality. The mind likes to draw maps of reality. When we forget that our thoughts are just interpretations of reality, we can get caught in mind traps that are hard to get out of. 

So, now that you have some idea of how the mind tends to function, you have some context for the ways to stop thinking about something. Once you test these out you’ll see that some of them are more difficult to begin with but more effective in the long term. 

woman can't get something of her mind

10 ways to get something off your mind

#10. Challenge the thought with a reframe

This method is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and the work of David Burns. In CBT, it’s common that you’re asked to identify the thought as a distortion and reframe it as something more appropriate (and realistic).

For example, take the thought “I’ll never be able to write a book .”

This is an example of polarised thinking (also known as black-and-white thinking). It could be reframed as “I don’t feel I can write a book now, but maybe in the future, I’ll be more confident in my writing.”  

To understand cognitive distortions in more detail, check out this article

#9. Replace it with something more exciting

The mind loves novelty and drama. If you have something that you can’t take your mind off, it’s basically your brain’s way of choosing the most interesting channel on the internal TV. If you can find something that’s a bigger, better, more exciting and hopefully healthier way for your mind to play with, then try and focus on that. That’s why it is good to find a hobby, hobbies keep us engaged and leave less space for us to learn how to stop caring so much about things that aren’t that important.

#8. Convince your mind that you’re bored of it.

This is very hard to do, but if you can master the art of indifference, you’ll be free from a lot of stress. One way to do that is to look at the thought until it simply becomes boring, though for people with serious anxiety, this is very challenging. Another is to recall the thought that’s stressing you, and to intentionally feel a sense of boredom when you do so. This will condition your mind to associate boredom with the thought and through time it will be given less energy.

#7. Move towards it

Similar to the point above, this is difficult. However, it’s useful to consider that it’s actually the avoidance of a thought that makes the mind say “oh this must be interesting if I’m using all this effort to avoid it.” When the thought is looked at honestly, such as in therapy or while journaling, the mind labels that story complete and boring, and moves onto something else.

#6. Challenge it

This isn’t always a long term solution, nor is it effective in the midst of very strong feelings. However, proving to your mind why something is wrong is one way to lessen its grip over you. For example, if you’re worried about someone having judged you for something you said or did, you can slowly and logically look at the situation. Are they really judging me? Isn’t it more likely that they’re actually indifferent? What would actually happen if I said the wrong thing? Have situations like this been forgotten in the past?

can't get something off his mind

#5. Make it worse

To make something worse requires a little bit of skill. First, you need to be reasonable. If you’re having suicidal thoughts or anything that puts you in danger, you don’t want to make it worse. Second, you need to be able to focus on the feeling of discomfort associated with the thought. If you can’t stop thinking about what someone texted you, you can focus on this sensation – maybe butterflies in your stomach – and try to enhance it. You’ll see that in doing so your resistance to the thought seems to drop away, and although it may not be a nice experience, you’re not in danger like your mind would have you believe. 

#4. Love it unconditionally

To love something unconditionally is to appreciate it exactly as it is. Again, this is not easy. But where you can find compassion for your thoughts and feelings, you can find love. You might not like your thoughts, but you can be sure they’re your brain’s way of trying to protect you. 

#3. Get into the body

If you don’t believe that the body governs the mind, try this. Think of a worry, something that feels heavy, something that won’t go away. Now go and exhaust your body – even just 10 minutes quick running on a treadmill will do. When your legs start burning, or you start to get out of breath, try to think about your worry. 

#2. Slow your breathing down

In meditation and yoga, the breath is fundamental. Breathe is the root of life, and the way we breathe influences the entire nervous system, as well as the body, emotions and thoughts. Slow, deep breathing will slow the mind and create calm thoughts, quick, unbalanced breathing, will signal to your brain that it needs oxygen because it is in danger. There are a ton of other benefits to deep breathing which I’ve covered in detail before.

#1. Do something creative

Most people are familiar with the brain lateralization – the fact we have a right brain and left brain which each perform overlapping but distinct functions. The left side of the brain seems to be more focused on problem-solving, which can lend itself to obsessive thoughts and rumination. The right side of the brain is more open, intuitive and creative. That’s why art can be therapeutic, it gets us into the right side of our brain.

It’s not always easy to get something off your mind. No matter how much will power or focus we have, there are certain psychological tendencies that can keep pulling us back. That’s why these techniques have been designed to go with the flow of the mind, rather than fight against it. 

What experience do you have trying to get something off your mind? Let me know in the comments!

How To Stop Caring (7 Ways To RELAX About Everything)

How To Stop Caring About Everything

Caring too much is draining your energy. 

Maybe you’re an empath and caring comes naturally. Maybe what you care about seems to have some control over you and it’s difficult to let go. Whatever the case, caring too much is no longer serving you, and you want to no longer care.

But how do you do it, how do you not care? 

Well, to start you need to ask some questions of yourself, and the first question to ask is actually pretty obvious.

Why do I care so much?

It’s painful, right? A part of you clearly wants to let go of this worry. You’re tired of thinking about the relationship, the ex, the anxiety over your work, the concerns about what people think about you. But even though you want to stop caring about these things, on some level you’re still chasing them. They’re still occupying too much space in your mind. Draining you, day by day. 

There are a number of reasons you continue to care, but let’s take one from evolutionary psychology; the modular mind.

See, different parts of the brain link together to make up a series of networks. Each of these networks have different drives or goals, also known as different modules. Because the aims of these modules can contradict each other, you end up in self-conflict. 

Take for example the issue of a toxic relationship. Your drive for security (for yourself) can seemingly push you away from your partner, while your drive for care (for the other) can push you towards them. You have a natural empathetic drive to help and protect, and you don’t want to hurt the other person, but by staying in the relationship you’re keeping yourself in a state of insecurity and anxiety. It’s a catch-22. 

When you care too much, it means you have a strong attachment to whatever you are fixating on. Fortunately, our brains are, at least partly, rational. By going through each of our attachments, and the drives that are creating them, we can convince our brains that we don’t actually need to keep caring about the thing that’s troubling us. Less care = less investment, less investment = less energy wasted. When we are drained of energy we feel low, when that feeling becomes persistent, we call that depression.

To truly not care about what people think, you need to go through your worries, one by one. We’re deeply social creatures, so the most intense attachments we have are almost always personal relationships. The stronger we feel for someone and the longer we’ve known them, the more intensely we seem to care, and the more power they seem to have over us. 

As the late great Harvard psychologist turned spiritual giant Ram Dass once said:

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”

Ram Dass

I’ve come up with seven steps to not caring that are based on principles of psychology and neuroscience. It’s good if you can go through these with a pen and paper and take notes on what comes up. If not, just thinking about it or talking about it with someone (or yourself) will also be useful.

girl caring too much

7 Ways To Stop Caring

  1. Recognise that you care. If you don’t even know that you care, it’s pretty hard to stop caring – you’ll simply be in a state of resistance or denial.  
  2. Recognise why you care. There are a whole host of valid reasons why you care and we touched on some of the psychological and biological ones earlier. Try and see how your brain, body and life experiences might be causing you to care too much.
  3. Accept why you care and that you care. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is based on opening up and welcoming unpleasant feelings in order to prevent our minds from becoming fixated. When we avoid the fact that we care, we are actually signalling to our brain that what we (unconsciously) care about is worth the energy invested in avoiding in! 
  4. Identify reasons why it makes more sense not to care. This is where we bring in our rational mind to start to convince the brain that it’s actually more beneficial for us to not invest so much energy in worrying about this thing.
  5. Remind yourself of these reasons frequently. When you’ve gone a long time caring about something, there is a reconditioning that needs to take place in order to reverse the habit.
  6. Condition yourself to relax every time you notice yourself worrying too much. This could actually be number one on this list. Caring about something is largely held in tension in the body. The more you can relax, the less of a grip strong emotions have over you, it’s that simple. 
  7. Practice the art of ‘not caring.’ Not caring isn’t just a vague attitude, it’s actually something we embody with our actions, feelings and eventually our thoughts. Put yourself in situations that show that you don’t care, and sooner or later your mind will follow suit – fake it till you make it.

How To Stop Caring About Someone

This is a real challenge. Other people can often feel like a part of us, so letting them go is like losing a part of ourselves. Something you may want to consider when going through the steps above is to look at what this person represents for you. What need are they fulfilling? Could it be fulfilled in another way? For example, maybe you want to care less about the negative comments your boss makes, but you know she holds power over your income – so there’s a sense of security invested in her.

How To Stop Caring In A Relationship (or about your ex)

A romantic relationship is one of the strongest attachments we have, because it represents so much to our personality, our sense of self and our survival. A big way to break out of the habit of caring for someone is to put yourself in situations where you rely on your independence to solve problems. 

Man can't stop caring about relationship

How To Stop Caring What People Think Of You

Almost everyone is concerned with how they are perceived in social situations, at least to some extent. One way to stop caring what people think of you is to recognise why it’s better to not be so worried about it. A lot of the times our ideas about what people think about us are completely out of line with what they actually think. Also, their ideas (like ours) are constantly changing, so it doesn’t make any sense to try to obsessively manage your social image.

How To Stop Caring About Work

Work, like relationships, represent a lot for many of us. What we do for work is, in some ways, who we are. It’s what we do every day, it’s how many others may judge our success and worth, and it’s how we provide for ourselves and our families. So how to not care about work? First of all, try and be relaxed as possible at work. We naturally get tense in uncomfortable situations and that tricks our minds into caring more than is necessary. Another important thing to consider is to accept that you are emotionally invested in your work, but recognise that it doesn’t define you. Try to look for other ways that some of the needs that are met by our work might be fulfilled with other things in our life. 

Ok, so there you have it, a comprehensive guide that shows you how to stop caring. Mind you, while it is simple, it’s not easy. A large part of stopping the incessant worry is simply practice over and over again. Practicing accepting why you care, that you care, and practice the art of not caring. 

What are you caring too much about? How have you learned to not care? Drop a comment below and let us know, or send me an email at ben@projectmonkeymind.com!

I’m Tired of Everything: 6 Psychological SECRETS To Enjoy Life Again

I’m Tired Of Everything

It was 2011, and I was staring at my bedroom wall. My mind was empty. But not empty in a clear, focused, meditative way. It was just dull. It was like someone had gone into my brain, turned down the colours and muffled the volume a little bit. I was sick and tired of my life and deeply exhausted.

The thought of standing up and going to make lunch was weighing down on me. Literally. The idea itself felt heavy. It physically felt like getting up to prepare some food was going to take all the strength I could muster. All I could think of was how exhausted I was.

“I’m Sick and Tired of Everything in My Life.”

I was tired of my life. Sick and tired of people. Sick of being depressed and constantly feeling tired. Tired of everything.

I picked up the phone to call a psychologist. I couldn’t do this anymore.

It rang once – I quickly hung up.

“I don’t need any help!” I naively told myself. But I did, I definitely did. It was about to be the worst week of my life.

I picked up the phone again, it rang twice – I hung up.

“Sh*t! I need to do this I thought.”

Again I dialled the number. It rang once. Twice. Three times.

“…H-Hello?”

Actually, I’ll come back to that in a second….

Let’s go back. Well, forward I guess. Let’s go forward to what I know now, and back to what I was missing then.

sick-and-tired-quote

I’m Tired of Life

Typically, when we’re tired of everything, it’s not because of one single event. It’s usually the effect of a number of different experiences or situations that tire us out just a little bit. The cumulative weight of each of these saps our energy until we are exhausted. Exhaustion is uncomfortable, and the minds translates this discomfort as “I’m sick of life.” Also, interpersonal relations are a huge emotional investment, which is often why we become so tired of people. This is made worse when it’s hard to explain how we’re feeling when we’re depressed.

To restore balance and overcome our exhaustion we need to make some adjustments in our life. Most of these changes are small, and some, where necessary, are big – and all of them make a difference.

The following 6 suggestions are the most important to consider when you’re sick of life.

What to do when you’re tired of everything?

Tired of this world?

Finding Micro-Meanings

When we get tired of life, one of the mistakes we can make is to compare ourselves to others. It’s easy to look at those who appear motivated and driven, and start to wonder why the same attitude doesn’t come so easily to us. If we take this a step further, we may believe that other people have some huge meaning driving their actions, and even this is exactly where we’re lacking.

Enter the find-your-passion culture.

The last twenty years have seen media and entertainment littered with the message that we all need to find passion and purpose. We need to do something meaningful and leave an imprint on the world.

Not only is this idea unrealistic, but it can create a lot of anxiety. Telling someone they need to find a world-changing passion to get them out of bed in the morning is like telling them they need to drink a $400 bottle of Kona Nigari Water every time they need quench their thirst. Maybe there are a handful of people out there actually doing it, but you’ll get almost the same result by continuously sipping filtered tap water.

So what should you do? Find micro-meanings. This means you find something that is meaningful ‘enough’ to drive you to the action. Nothing more. You don’t need to be driven by a purpose that will hold value over your entire lifetime, you just need something that is worthy enough of taking the first step.

Apply for one new job because there is enough purpose in the potential pay increase to submit the application.
Start a diet for one day because you’re motivated enough to see how it goes.
Go for a ten-minute run today because you’ll feel better after getting outside.

It’s very rare that someone who is successful and driven found a purpose that lit a fire under them overnight. What happens 99% of the time is that these people have built momentum over years and years by continuously focusing on what was right in front of them.

Find a micro-meaning that is enough to take the first step towards building momentum – don’t look for a magic reason to change your situation.

How to get started:

  1. List 5 things you want out of your life right now.
  2. Break them into the smallest possible step you can imagine.
  3. Write down why you would be motivated to do each of these 5 tiny-steps.
  4. Choose one to do immediately.

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Constantly feeling tired?

Replenish Your Energy Levels

We are both physical and mental beings. A lot of the time when we say we are tired of life, we do so with the conviction that it’s impossible to find meaning or purpose in our situation. The reality, on the other hand, may just be that our bodies and brains are simply in need of rest.

There are a number of ways to improve your energy levels. A lot of the time when we get sleepy during the day, it’s because we aren’t respecting our bodies natural rhythms or we are eating the wrong kinds of foods, or more commonly, too much food. Counterintuitively, restricting your diet with intermittent fasting can improve vitality by reducing the amount of energy our digestive system needs to spend.

There are countless ways you can optimise your energy

  • Drink more water
  • Optimise caffeine intake
  • Optimise your sleep
  • Change your diet
  • Practice Intermittent Fasting
  • Take supplements

To look at these in more detail, check out this article on supercharging your energy.

How to get started:

  1. Track your energy level every 3 hours for 3 to 7 days (the longer the better). You can simply write a number out of 10, and if you’d like, 1-2 sentences about how you feel if you’d like.
  2. Pick ONE thing that you could do to replenish your energy levels.
  3. Introduce this new habit and continue to track your energy levels for 7 days.
  4. Watch for a difference, and if you don’t find it helps you can leave it be. Though do your research, some changes may take longer for the benefits to kick in.
  5. Keep trying new things every week and seeing what works best for you.
  6. Only try ONE thing at a time to ensure that you know which change is having a positive impact.

Too Tired To Care?

Emphasise the right Motivation

There’s a good general rule when it comes to what you want in your life. The more an idea is talked about by a mass audience, the more it becomes shrouded in ambiguity and the more we lack a clear definition of what it truly is. The result is that we may end up chasing something that we 1. Don’t understand and 2. Wouldn’t want if we did understand.

Here are some perfect examples:

  • Happiness
  • Wealth
  • Health
  • Enlightenment
  • Motivation

Unless we define these terms clearly, we may not actually know what we want.

To one person happiness means having a stable situation and avoiding excessive negative emotion, to another it means having an abundance of rich experiences, even if that means a lot of stress. To another, health may mean being comfortable with their body image, competing at a high level in their sport, or simply avoiding regular illness.

Case in point – as I write this, the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page for motivation has the following quote “an individual is not motivated by another individual. Motivation comes from within the individual.”

Who is to say that that’s the case? A significant part of our drives as humans are social, and we’re constantly being influenced by one another. It’s clear then that there is already a lot of ambiguity around the idea of motivation.

So let’s define motivation as it relates to being tired of life.

A very simple and clean definition is that motivation is a reason behind your drives and actions. It’s very common for someone to say ‘I’m not motivated” but that’s somewhat of an oxymoron, because, using this definition, to move is to be motivated. Even in the deepest of depressions a part of us still motivated to breathe air and go to the bathroom. You’ve been motivated enough to read this article this far.

So you need to find the reasons behind your actions.

How to get started:

What you really mean when you say “I’m not motivated” is that you’re not driven by what you would like to drive you and in the direction you would like it to drive you.

So what you really want to ask is
What do I want to be motivated to do?
Why do I really want to be motivated to do that? (you may want to ask this question 2 or 3 times to get to the real motivation)
How can I emphasise the reason behind that motivation?

For example.

  1. What do I want to be motivated to do? I want to be motivated to go for runs five days a week.
  2. Why do I really want to be motivated to do that? So I can feel healthy.
  3. Why do I really want to feel healthy? So that I can feel confident at work.
  4. How can I emphasise the reason behind that motivation? Write down five ways in which confidence can improve my life and five ways that I’ve displayed confidence in the past.

Remember that a lot of untangling motivations comes down to clarifying what we want by repeatedly asking questions. We are motivated by dozens or even hundreds of different beliefs or ideas that we have about the world, and once we are more aware of these, we can use them to our advantage.

Understanding how motivation works can be amazingly useful. If you’ve got a minute to spare I highly recommending watching this video by ASAP Science.

Sick of Everything?

Find Perspective

The human brain, in some ways, functions like a camera. We’re constantly needing to zoom in and out, depending on the context, to make sure we get things done. For example, when you’re at work, you need to act in a way that the project you’re working on is the number one priority in your life, otherwise you won’t dedicate the time and energy to it. However, this doesn’t mean it is the number one priority, it doesn’t mean its more important than your family for example.

Imagine a businessman who dedicates a lot of time to his job, to provide for his family. He succeeds and they live a comfortable life. But he’s still so zoomed in on the work, that he’s lost perspective around how important his family is, and he unknowingly starts to neglect them.

Sometimes we simply lose sight of what matters. We focus on our body image because we know it will improve our confidence, but then we improve our body image, become slightly more confident, but continue to be focused on improving how we look.

The same thing happens with worries and concerns we ruminate on.
How much money do I have?
Am I in the right job?
How can I improve my relationship?
Do I feel passionate enough about my life?

These are valid concerns to have in certain moments, but we need to ‘zoom out’ every once in a while and place them in the context of our entire life.

How to get started:

  1. Write down three things that are frustrating you about life right now.
  2. Try to look at things that you’ve focused on for a long time and may have lost perspective over – the more time we spend on something, the more we tend to lose perspective.
  3. Rewrite them from the perspective of 1. Your most negative self and 2. Your most positive self
  4. Realise that you have a choice in what perspective you take on your circumstances

Life is Exhausting

You Must Find Structure!

People rarely understand just how important structure is to energy levels. When we don’t have a solid structure or schedule, it’s hard for our bodies and brains to know when to exert energy and when not to. When you don’t wake up at the same time every day, or you inconsistently take naps during the afternoon, this can be very detrimental to your body’s natural rhythm.

We see this commonly with people who want to retire, but when they do so and their days no longer have structure, they may have an emotional slump.

How to get started:

  1. At the end of each day, write down three things you NEED to do tomorrow.
  2. If you’re not currently employed, these can be absolutely anything, but you need to take them as seriously as you would an important work project.
  3. Split your day into three sections, all focused on these activities. Fill in the gap with smaller activities.

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Tired of People?

Time To Find REAL Love

Finding love doesn’t necessarily mean falling in love in the Disney-esque romantic sense. You don’t want to simply find another attachment. My definition of love is that it covers three things.
Attention: when we love something, we direct our attention towards it and become aware of its subtleties.
Affection: the object of love receives positive emotions from us.
Action: we act in a way that expresses our love.

If you can find a partner that you love, great. But you can also begin to practice loving what you already have in your life; sports, music, relationships, hobbies, foods, movies etc.

For example:

If you love cooking, you will: 1. pay close attention to the ingredients as you prepare a meal, 2. do so with a good attitude, 3. make cooking a priority in your life.

If you love your children, you will: 1. Pay close attention to your children, their likes and dislikes, 2. Express affection towards them, 3. Act in a way that is in their best interest.

Carl Jung said:

“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.”

When we are in love with our work, relationships, or hobbies, we fall into the flow state more naturally and more frequently. In fact, the flow state has been found to be one of the most significant predictors of a happy life.

How to get started:

Finding something to fall in love with is probably the most difficult task on this list. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make it come a little easier.
Be open-minded. When something interests you, give it a try. A lot of the time we don’t realise how much we will enjoy something until we have some experience with it.
Practice concentration meditation. This will help you accumulation new knowledge and skills quicker, and fall into the flow state more consistently.
Commit to something. Some things we don’t like at first simply take time, commit to something for a few weeks and if you don’t like it, try something else.

BONUS: How I Got Over the Worst Week of My Life

So where were we? Oh, that’s right.

“I don’t need any help!” I naively told myself. But I did, I definitely did. It was about to be the worst week of my life.

I picked up the phone again, it rang twice – I hung up.

“Sh*t! I need to do this I thought.”

Again I dialled the number. It rang once. Twice. Three times.

“…H-Hello?” I mustered.

But before anyone could even answer, my pride swiftly returned. I hung up.

“I don’t need ANYONE’S help!” Yes, I did, yes I definitely did.

My parents were going through a separation, I was three years into a degree that I realised I didn’t want, I had an active social life but was feeling incredibly lonely, I had no idea what to do with my life, and persistent injuries were keeping me from exercising.

I didn’t book the appointment with the psychologist that day. But I needed it. A lot was going on in my life at the time. I was barely coping.

And then the straw that broke the camel’s back.

24 hours after I hung up that phone, a friend of mine was in a car crash – and he didn’t make it.

It was a shock to the system that I couldn’t seem to shake. My emotional wellbeing seemed to spiral down. I couldn’t focus at university, I wasn’t hungry, I was exhausted, I was getting headaches and stomach aches, and I was extremely tired of my life. I spent six months I was just going through the motions.

In the end, I did see a psychologist (but that’s a story for another day), and I managed to get enough momentum to pull myself out of that slump.

Here are ways that I took the above ideas to heart:

  • I ate healthily and made myself to go to the gym. (Replenished Energy Levels)
  • If I had interest in anything at all, even for 5 minutes, I read about it. (Micro-meanings)
  • I constantly journaled, looking deeply at what I really wanted out of life. (Right Motivation)
  • I watched lots of documentaries about people who had dealt with hardships and overcome them. (Perspective)
  • I made sure I new overslept or took naps, and allowed myself leisure time every night at the same time. (Structure)

I didn’t find real love in this time, but I read a book by Stephen Batchelor called Buddhism Without Beliefs, which would spark my deep interest in spirituality and completely change the way I saw the world.

These examples may not work for you, but if you can apply these principles to your own life, you’ll be able to find new energy and vitality that can help to turn around feelings of exhaustion and get the necessary momentum to change your life.

39 Jordan Peterson Quotes on Life, Love, Good, and Evil

Jordan Peterson Quotes

There’s something that our culture has largely failed to digest.

It’s a fact that has enormous potential for both your well being as an individual and our good as a society as a whole.

And it’s not that we haven’t noticed it, but it’s certainly something we have yet to truly understand.

That is, the real potential for YouTube to transform the next generation.

See, while two-dimension cultural narratives would say that we, as young people, are simply a bunch of video game playing, funny cat videos watching, silly meme-sharing entertainment-addicts (which we partially are), a look at the facts would differ.

If we follow the rise of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a psychology lecturer out of the University of Toronto, we may see a different story.

Dr. Peterson’s views have been heralded by some as controversial, but I’m not interested in that aspect of his fame. I was drawn to the fact that he went from being a relative unknown lecturer with a few thousand followers to a popular public figure with over a million YouTube followers. And this is all in less than two years.

I attended one of Dr. Peterson’s talks a few months ago, when he was on a book took in Australia, and I was fascinated by two things.

Firstly, this is a man who is giving complex lectures about Carl Jung, the Soviet Union and the nature of truth – and millions are watching. This is high-level academia, and it’s now both accessible and sought after by enough people to fill a small country. It turns out the masses aren’t so simple-minded after all.

Secondly, the audience at the talk was almost overwhelmingly young men, looking for meaning in their lives. Peterson frequently lectures about depression (his family has a long history), and I’m sure many of those in the audience had experiences with mental illness. They were more engaged than I’ve seen in any university lecture, and it seemed his ideas were giving their lives meaning and direction.

There are a lot of things I agree with Dr. Peterson on, and his talks particular around mythology inspired me to read a dozen or so books related to Jungian psychology. One thing I don’t agree with is his (apparent) perspective on meditation, though I think that his stance is probably from a lack of knowledge and experience rather than any ulterior motive.

His words have a certain depth that reveal a deep look into human nature, not in a way dissimilar to that of Viktor Frankl. His perspective has obviously been coloured by his experiences of depression, and it sometimes makes for terrifying reading.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Good and Evil

“I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.”

“You cannot be protected from the things that frighten you and hurt you, but if you identify with the part of your being that is responsible for transformation, then you are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that frighten you.”

“No tree can grow to Heaven,” adds the ever-terrifying Carl Gustav Jung, psychoanalyst extraordinaire, “unless its roots reach down to Hell.”

Having studied Soviet Russia and the evils of communism for many years, Peterson has developed an attitude that some would call hyper-realist. There is however always a spark of optimism, as he emphasise personal autonomy and responsibility, working first on yourself, before trying to save the world.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Truth

“If you don’t say what you think then you kill your unborn self.”

“We have to rediscover the eternal values and then live them out.”

“Without Christianity, and its emphasis on truth at all costs, science would never have come about.”

“That’s another hallmark of truth, is that it snaps things together. People write to me all the time and say it’s as if things were coming together in my mind. It’s like the Platonic idea that all learning was remembering. You have a nature, and when you feel that nature articulated, it’s like the act of snapping the puzzle pieces together.”

“If you don’t stand your ground, then all that happens is people push you backwards.”

“We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world. We must each tell the truth and repair what is in disrepair and break down and recreate what is old and outdated.”

“What path are you on?..Some of you is dark and some of you is light..get rid of the darkness and then you’re on the path of light.. What will happen to you when you’re on the path of light? The best that can happen to you.it might not not be easy…easy and best aren’t the same thing.”

“The truth is something that burns, it burns off deadwood and people don’t like having their deadwood burnt off because they’re 95% deadwood.”

“So, listen, to yourself and to those with whom you are speaking. Your wisdom then consists not of the knowledge you already have, but the continual search for knowledge, which is the highest form of wisdom.”

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Understanding

“What is your friend: the things you know, or the things you don’t know. First of all, there’s a lot more things you don’t know. And second, the things you don’t know is the birthplace of all your new knowledge! So if you make the things you don’t know your friend, rather than the things you know, well then you’re always on a quest in a sense. You’re always looking for new information in the off chance that somebody who doesn’t agree with you will tell you something you couldn’t have figured out on your own! It’s a completely different way of looking at the world. It’s the antithesis of opinionated.”

“Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.”

“When you start to realise how much you of what you’ve constructed of yourself is based on deception and lies, that is a horrifying realisation.”

“We don’t understand the world. I do think the world is more like a musical masterpiece than it is like anything else. And things are oddly connected.”

“If you have a comprehensive explanation for everything then it decreases uncertainty and anxiety and reduces your cognitive load. And if you can use that simplifying algorithm to put yourself on the side of moral virtue then you’re constantly a good person with a minimum of effort.”

Peterson has often said that he is high in trait empathy and openness. This is partially why I am attracted to his ideas, as well as those of Jung, as we share a similar temperament. Looking at what you don’t know is therefore always an opportunity for growth, change, and increased connectedness.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Life

“It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.”

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities.”

“Specify your damn goals because how are you going to hit something if you don’t know what it is?”

“So, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence.”

“You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward. It will instead disappoint and frustrate you and make you anxious and unhappy and hard to get along with (and then resentful, and then vengeful, and then worse).”

“If your life isn’t everything it could be..[stop] wasting all of the opportunities that are in front of you.”

“Life without law remains chaotic, effectively intolerable. Life that is pure law becomes sterile, equally unbearable. The domination of chaos or sterility equally breeds murderous resentment and hatred.”

Peterson’s ideas may be complex, but his advice for life is surprisingly simple; start small and start with yourself, take on as much responsibility you can bear, and aim straight at a goal before being willing to discard it for the next one.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Suffering

“There are many systems of interaction between brain, body and social world that can get caught in positive feedback loops. Depressed people, for example, can start feeling useless and burdensome, as well as grief-stricken and pained. This makes them withdraw from contact with friends and family. Then the withdrawal makes them more lonesome and isolated, and more likely to feel useless and burdensome. Then they withdraw more. In this manner, depression spirals and amplifies.”

“Some people degenerate into the hell of resentment and the hatred of Being, but most refuse to do so, despite their suffering and disappointments and losses and inadequacies and ugliness, and again that is a miracle for those with the eyes to see it.”

“Life is suffering, and suffering can make you resentful, murderous, and then genocidal, if you take it far enough. So you need an antidote to suffering. And maybe you think that you can build walls of luxury around yourself, and that that will protect you from the suffering. Good luck with that.”

“Any perceptible alteration in heart-rate can trigger thoughts both of heart attack and an all-too-public and embarrassing display of post-heart attack distress and suffering (death and social humiliation constituting the two most basic fears).

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Love

“We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself. You should take care of, help and be good to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued.”

“I learned two very important lessons from Carl Jung, the famous Swiss depth psychologist, about “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “loving your neighbour as yourself.” The first lesson was that neither of these statements has anything to do with being nice. The second was that both are equations, rather than injunctions. If I am someone’s friend, family member, or lover, then I am morally obliged to bargain as hard on my own behalf as they are on theirs. If I fail to do so, I will end up a slave, and the other person a tyrant. What good is that? It is much better for any relationship when both partners are strong.”

“Men and women aren’t the same. And they won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be treated fairly.”

It’s normal that we would equate love with respect, and therefore self-love is a natural byproduct of self-respect. To earn self-respect, we must take on responsibility. I would add that love is also related to attention, and therefore to place attention on bettering yourself is an act of self-love.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Responsibility

“The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.”

“It’s in responsibility that most people find the meaning that sustains them through life. It’s not in happiness. It’s not in impulsive pleasure.”

“Consciousness is a mystery that faces the mystery of potential and transforms it into actuality. We do that with every choice we make. Our choices determine the destiny of the world. By making a choice, you alter the structure of reality.”

“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”

“If you fulfill your obligations everyday you don’t need to worry about the future.”

“You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you’re going to take. That’s it.”

“One of the things that the Hindus do in relationship to Kali, is offer sacrifices. So you can say, well why would you offer sacrifices to something you’re afraid of. And it’s because that is what you do, that’s always what you do. You offer up sacrifices to the unknown in the hope that good things will happen to you.

“One example is that you’re worried about your future. Maybe you’re worried about your job, or who you’re going to marry, or your family, there’s a whole category of things to be worried about, so you’re worried about your future. SO what’re you doing in university? And the answer is you’re sacrificing your free time in the present, to the cosmos so to speak, in the hope that if you offer up that sacrifice properly, the future will smile upon you.”

I hope you liked this post. To learn more, check out this list of books Jordan Peterson has recommended on his blog and in his interviews.

62 Self-Discovery Quotes To Help You Find Yourself

We are lost.

Actually, it worse than that.

We are lost inside our own homes.

What do I mean by that?

Well, our home, of course, is the planet earth. Our been lost is the fact that we do not seem to know who we are, nor do we feel at home.

How do I know we are lost? Well take one look at our culture and it becomes self-evident. One example is our obsession with trying to find ourselves.

It’s a strange journey, that of self-discovery. After all, a dog doesn’t ask “how can I find myself?” A lizard doesn’t wonder “why is my purpose on this earth?” A tree doesn’t wonder if the job they’re in is right for them.

Knowing yourself doesn’t mean that you have a perfectly curated 30-second elevator pitch when someone asks you what you do. Nor is it writing the perfectly balanced Instagram bio.  It means there is little conflict between your actions, cognitions and instincts. Knowing yourself is not simply a matter of what you say, it’s a matter of how you move through the world.

However, we are nevertheless modern human beings.

We look at the world through a cognitive filter. So the process of finding ourselves usually starts with a lot of thinking and reflection. Fortunately, if we’re lucky, it usually ends with a lot less of it. When you know who you are, why would you need to spend any time thinking about it?

Whatever the case, this is where many of us are at.

What I’ve composed here are a series of quotes about finding yourself from a wide variety of writers, philosophers, scientists and spiritual teachers.

So without further ado, here are 61 self-discovery quotes to help you find yourself!

Quotes about Finding Yourself!

Finding yourself after a break-up

When people spend months, years and even decades in close proximity, they can become so attached that they develop an identity as a couple as well as individuals. In some cases, the identity as one half of the couple can become so strong, that in the case of a break-up, they feel entirely lost. Everyone has probably been told at some point or another that they’re not ready for a relationship unless they’re already comfortable with themselves. This is good advice because when you’re not grounded in your values and priorities, it’s easy to lose yourself in someone else.

A break up is a good time to reassess these values and priorities, to rethink who you are and what you want to be doing with your life going forward. It’s often hard to see what is often an emotionally difficult experience as an opportunity, however, with the right attitude it can be just that. Though it may require patience, openness and time, many people emerge from breakups and later go on to say that they were the defining moments of their lives, moulding them into the people they are.

“I wasn’t searching for something or someone….I was searching for me.” – Carrie Bradshaw

“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.” – Colleen Hoover

“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.” – Guy Finley

“There was a difference between being stuck and choosing to stay. Between being found and finding yourself.” – Martina Boone

“Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself as its most brilliant.” – Paulo Coelho

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

“One of the best times for figuring out who you are and what you really want out of life? Right after a break-up.” – Mandy Hale

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe

“Don’t worry about finding your soul mate. Find yourself.” – Jason Evert

Find yourself in nature

For thousands of years, people have wondered what it is that is so spectacular about nature. Why does it seem that we so often find something out about ourselves when we spend some time in a forest or at a beach or in the hills? The answer is surprisingly simple, it’s because you ARE nature. Our idea that human beings are separate from nature is just a thought that we have – and even that thought is part of nature too! When we pass the time in nature we are returning to an earlier part of ourselves, it’s like seeing a long lost relative.

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beach of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” – Joseph Campbell

“By discovering nature, you discover yourself.” – Maxime Lagace

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb

“Going to the mountain is going home.” – John Muir

“Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.” – Lao Tzu

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” – Gary Snyder

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” – Henry David Thoreau

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

Finding yourself through meaning and happiness

Happiness and meaning are two of the most often desired aspects of the human condition. The road to finding these existential gifts is not usually very straightforward. This is particularly the case if we don’t know who we are, what we consider important, and what we want out of life. The good news is, everyone has derived some sense of happiness or meaning from their life, however small or fleeting it may have been. These moments of fulfilment are clues that help us paint an accurate picture of ourselves. If, for example, we accumulate material wealth and then realise that we feel unfulfilled, then it’s probably a sign that we are not driven by money or status. On the other hand, maybe we do some volunteer work and we realise that for the next few days there is a vitality that we haven’t seen in awhile, that’s also a sign. It could be a sign that you have a deeper calling to serve others.

“Money isn’t the solution to your problems. It only lets you carry your unhappiness around in style.” – Shannon L. Alder

“If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.” – Rick Riordan

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Albert Einstein

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” – Thomas Merton

“If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.” – James A. Michener

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

“Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.” – Kristin Hannah

Finding yourself through self-discovery

We tend to have a few misconceptions in our culture when it comes to the idea of self-discovery. Firstly, it’s often considered a process that is achieved by accumulation. We accumulate experiences by travelling around the world, ideas by studying a ton of books and wealth by working for what we believe we want. Self-discovery, however, is actually a process of peeling back the layers of our experience. It is something that is deconstructive. This is a journey that happens moment-to-moment, often over the period of a lifetime, by looking directly at how we act and react to the world. Why do I want to go to Peru? Why do I want to study existentialism? Why do I want to build my own business? Diving deep into our motives with these types of questions prevents us from going down roads we need not travel. Self-discovery, however, will only be true if it is done in the spirit of complete honesty, until then, our actions and answers will be tainted by the conditioning of the world around us.

“If you truly want to find yourself don’t seek new answers, seek new questions.” – Ben Fishel, Project Monkey Mind

“The greatest discovery in life is self-discovery. Until you find yourself you will always be someone else. Become yourself.” – Myles Munroe

“The journey toward self-discovery is life’s greatest adventure.” – Arianna Huffington

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison

“To find yourself, think for yourself.” – Socrates

“We shall not cease from exploration, And the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” – Epictetus

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

“Do not wait for the green light. You are the green light.” – Dr Jacinta Mpalyenkana

“If you’re not comfortable enough with yourself or with your own truth when entering a relationship, then you’re not ready for that relationship.” – Steve Maraboli

Finding yourself by accepting yourself

It may seem like a paradox, finding yourself requires that you do some work, and accepting yourself will stop you from doing that work, right? Well, yes and no. What accepting yourself does is that it cuts away the fat from your personality. When you fully accept who you are, you act as you should act, without unnecessary influence from your own insecurities or those of the external world. Accept yourself and you will act from a place of honesty, and from that place, you will see who you really are and what you truly value. This self-acceptance doesn’t always come naturally and is actually difficult for some people. However, this effort requires courage and may be considered the necessary effort on what is actually a more direct path to finding yourself anyway.

“Accepting yourself fully is not an excuse to concede to your vices. It’s a concession to the unavoidable reality of what is, right now. It’s a reason to let go of the weight of unnecessary guilt and use the newly found energy to co-create a better you.” – Ben Fishel, Project Monkey Mind

“You are already that which you seek.” – Ramana Maharshi

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” – May Sarton

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

“I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way.” – Alison Goodman

“The longest journey is the journey inward.” – Dag Hannarskyjojd

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings

“You have no need to travel anywhere. Journey within yourself, enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendour of your own light.” – Rumi

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realising who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

Finding yourself by improving yourself

Though self-acceptance is important, there is also room in our experience for growth and development. When we challenge ourselves we may actually find that our strengths and weaknesses aren’t what we once thought they were. The human body was designed by evolution to be pushed, occasionally to its limits. There is a deep fulfilment and an intimidate self-knowledge that comes with difficult experiences, both self-imposed and presented to us by the universe.

“The key to happiness is really progress and growth and constantly working on yourself and developing something.” – Lewis Howes

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.” – T.D. Jakes

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something that one creates.” – Thomas Szasz

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine

“You’ve got to find yourself first. Everything else will follow.” – Charles de Lint

“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Finding your inner truth

Everyone has their own unique experience of some type of inner truth. But at its core, all this wisdom comes from the same place. Sometimes this voice is so quiet we can barely hear it, at other times it is so clear that we can do nothing but to follow it. When we are able to be led by our inner truth, we may feel more authentic and even joyful. This isn’t always the case, following your truth may also it may also be painful. It is, however, as the late great psychoanalyst Carl Jung said “the privilege of a lifetime.”

“We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” – Jane Austen

“Bliss and joy come in moments of living our highest truth – moments when what we do is consistent with our archetypal depths. It’s when we are most authentic and trusting, and feel that whatever we are doing, which can be quite ordinary, is nonetheless sacred.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen

“Your soul is the place within you that is timeless, ageless, and eternal: it is the ultimate core and essence of who you truly are.” – Mateo Sol

“We anxiously try to rebuild ourselves, instead of deconstructing ourselves and allowing life to build us back up.” – Ben Fishel, Project Monkey Mind

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” – Rumi

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – Carl Jung

What does it mean to find yourself to you? What kinds of experiences have allowed you to find yourself? Let us know in the comments!

Why Do I Have No Friends? (What to do if this is you!)

I know you’ve had the feeling.

You log on to your social media profile and start scrolling through the photos. Dozens upon dozens of momentary glimpses of what someone did on their vacation, the wedding they’ve just been to, or the Project X like weekend they had. And you feel left out.

It starts to dawn on you just how many nights you spend alone, curled up under a blanket watching Netflix. Maybe you wish that people invited you out more often. It could be that you put in more effort in the past but were rebuffed so many times you just gave up. Sometimes it’s been so long since you’ve had a night out with anyone that you don’t think of yourself as having any friends anymore, and you’re wondering what happened.

Why do I have no friends?

There are few topics as tender and painful as loneliness and lack of friendship. In our culture, people use perceived popularity as a yardstick to measure their self-worth. For those of us who have ever pushed away the thought, “I have no friends,” we’ve had to wrestle not just with being alone, but what we think it means or says about us. “Does this mean I’m a bad person?” we might secretly wonder. Other nights, we might lie awake asking, “What did I do to deserve this? How did I end up so alone?”

The first step is to understand that social isolation is not a reflection of your worth as a person. In other words, the reason you don’t have friends isn’t that you’re a bad person or there is something fundamentally wrong with you. There are many good people who end up feeling alone, whether by choice or by circumstance, just as there are many flawed people who make friends easily.

It’s important to realise that appearances are deceiving, and even people with lots of followers on social media spend many nights alone. This doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t work on improving our personality and social skills, but it does mean that we should love and accept ourselves as we are right now. 

The first, and most important thing to figure out when you find yourself lacking a social life is to ask yourself whether you really want one, and if so, to what degree. There is so much pressure in our society to be social that the angst we feel about being alone can have more to do with shame than with how much time we truly want to spend with others. Sometimes all you need to do to cure your loneliness is to give yourself permission to enjoy the distinct pleasures of solitude. If however, we’re suffering from anxiety or depression, it incredibly important to talk about it with whomever we can.

Are you an introvert?

You may be familiar with the idea that people fall into one of two social personality types, “extrovert” or “introvert,” and might have heard the oversimplification that extroverts like being around people while introverts don’t. If you’re an introvert or think you might be one, this might have led to some self-doubt or confusion.

There are many misconceptions about introverts, one of which is that introverts don’t like other people or are socially awkward. This isn’t true. Many introverts are graceful in social situations and enjoy the time they spend with others. What truly sets introverts and extraverts apart is how they respond to being social. Introverts build up energy in solitude and spend it in the social sphere, while extraverts build up energy as they socialise and spend it in solitude. In other words, introverts not only enjoy time alone, they need it.

Think of a toy you had as a kid that ran on batteries. When the batteries were getting low, the toy would slow down and eventually stop working until they were recharged or replaced. Now think of yourself as something that needs recharging. If you’re feeling mentally exhausted, what do you most want to do? The answer will tell you whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert.

If you need to spend time alone reading a book, writing, painting, watching Netflix, or doing some other solitary activity to recharge, you’re most likely an introvert. If so, this might be why you find yourself with few or no friends. This is even truer during stressful times in your life. When your job, your schoolwork, or another often social daytime activity is draining your mental battery all day long, you just might not have it left in you to continue spending energy by going out and spending time with others. This is healthy! You’re prioritising what you need for your day-to-day recovery from the social energy you expend as an introvert.

Other reasons you might have no friends

You’ve moved. Whether you’ve moved several times or for the first time, you’ve probably learned how complicated it can be to maintain friendships across geographic distance and just how hard it is to make new friends. Most people tend to report that it gets even harder as you get older. People settle into established social circles and become less open to reaching out to the new person in town or at work. But don’t despair—it’s not impossible to make new friends at any point in your life.

You have social anxiety. Living with untreated social anxiety disorder puts you on a path to social isolation. Over time, social withdrawal can become the easiest way to cope and that can lead to increased rumination about your situation. This can become a self-defeating cycle in which the very thing that makes you feel safe and comfortable also makes you feel deeply unhappy. When you have social anxiety, you feel pressed to choose solitude even when you are lonely. The pain of loneliness makes it hard to enjoy the safe feeling of being home. The good news is that you can break the cycle. Social anxiety responds well to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), so finding relief is possible if you make the extra effort to see a therapist consistently.

You don’t fit in. While it’s more common to grow up feeling like an outsider in a small town, people who live in a big city can feel this way, too. Local cultures tend to share a common mindset that you might not happen to share. If you find that you never talk about what most interests or inspires you with the people you hang out with, it’s time to start looking for your tribe. You’re probably not as strange as your hometown friends make you think you are. You might not have to move away to meet people who get you, but you have to be willing to move on from old scenes that no longer suit you.

Who ends up alone?

There might be no character modern culture is more confused about than “the loner.” On the one hand, we prize the “rugged individual” and love telling stories about the “lone cowboy” who always wins the day or the solitary genius who always solves the crime. We nurture the myth that our creative heroes are tortured souls who live on the fringes of society and that this is a necessary condition for their art. On the other hand, we vilify loners as untrustworthy people prone to violence, inaccurately associating them with mass shootings and serial murders. The truth is that there are as many different kinds of people who are loners as there are people who are socially engaged.

Sometimes people surprise us with their confessions of aloneness. Selena Gomez and Diane Keaton have said they have no friends, and other celebrities are well known for being loners. When she was a guest on the Dear Sugars podcast, Oprah revealed that she went through periods when she lost many of her relationships and saw these times as essential to her personal growth. She says that her childhood was lonely but that she now thrives in solitude. Many famous writers were loners, as were many scientists and political figures.

Superficial vs. real friendships in the digital age

Let’s go back to that moment when you looked at your social media feed and felt discouraged by how your social life didn’t match up. You felt pained by the fact you don’t spend any time with these people offline. What you might not have considered was that this is something universal rather than something unique to you.

Part of the problem with social media is how much it fosters illusion. We all know that people often represent their lives as being more positive and successful online than they actually are. Social media has also changed the way we experience and understand friendships. It used to be that we only considered those people friends who shared their physical spaces with us and spent time with us in person. Now we feel satisfied that we are “keeping in touch” as long as we are reading one another’s status updates. This illusion sometimes breaks, and people realize they have grown no closer to people they added as friends even after a year of following one another. The truth is, very few of our social connections bloom into close relationships. We all overestimate the number of true friendships other people have.  

Why are friends important?

Human beings are social animals. There is evidence that even our most ancient ancestors cared for the elderly, injured, and unwell. While we can’t know exactly why, it’s likely that the emphasis we place on shared knowledge and cooperation made every member of an early human community valuable. Older or injured members who couldn’t contribute as much physically might have possessed knowledge that was important to the group. It’s also quite possible our ancestors were moved by compassion and feelings of caring, as other mammals appear to have these feelings too. From the beginning, making friends helped us out socially—and made us feel good.

Friendships improve mental and physical health. Research shows people with more friends have a reduced risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease and have fewer cognitive deficits as they age. People with more friends also tend to live longer. Interacting with friends releases endogenous opioids and oxytocin—neurochemicals known to make us feel good. Having friends may be even more important to our well-being as we age than having strong family connections.

Research also shows that quality matters more than quantity when it comes to friendships. Dr. Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford University, has found that the number of friendships our brains can manage is limited by the size of our neocortex. According to Dunbar, our brains can’t track more than 100-200 friendships. Dunbar has also found that the closest 15 relationships we have are the most important for our mental health.

Interpersonal neurobiology, a discipline developed by Dan Siegel and Allan Schore, is based on new discoveries about the brain’s ability to develop new neurons and neurological connections throughout our lives. According to Dr. Siegel’s “Triangle of Well-Being,” our connections with others are essential to forming these new connections and healing the brain. Relationships drove the evolution of our brains and drive their development when we are children—in Dr. Siegel’s words, they “shape our neural architecture”—and are the most immediate route to changing our brains as adults.

How to recover and reconnect

There are two components to recovering from social isolation. The first is healing any mental health conditions or other internal barriers that make it difficult, if not impossible, to do the work of building new friendships. The second is to take the practical steps to build new friendships or rebuild old ones.

Social anxiety responds well to a number of interventions that challenge, redirect, or reframe negative and fearful thoughts. Complementary practices include mindfulness, deep breathing, and behavioural modifications like reducing caffeine use and exercising. Exposure therapy, which involves engaging in anxiety-inducing situations and moving up “the anxiety ladder,” is another common approach. All of these techniques are often employed by therapists who practice CBT, which has been shown to be the most reliable and successful method of treating social anxiety. So even if you are starting to work on your recovery on your own, consider connecting with a therapist as well.

After addressing anxiety or any other obstacles that are holding you back, it’s time to start rebuilding your friendship network. First, establish the right mindset and get organized. Keeping track of the steps you take and following up on them will yield better results than a haphazard and inconsistent approach. Progressing from meeting people to maintaining connections with them has less to do with personal magnetism than with persistence and consistency. There is a reason people talk about keeping a social calendar!

When you’re ready to move from planning to action, the best way to start making connections is to research and attend social activities in your community. You can sign up for workout classes and volunteer at local charities or even sign up for events where you meet each other’s dogs (and each other, of course). Using social media and apps can also lead to meeting people in person—if you take the right follow-up steps and maintain the right mindset. This means saying yes to everything and nurturing any new connections you make.

Do I need friends to be happy?

In some ways, we’re fated to feel lonely at times no matter how many friends we make. After all, it’s rare to find people who understand us, and our attempts to connect can end in disappointment and heartbreak. Losing friendships that we valued and believed would last can make us feel like our efforts are futile. We may even get to the point where we feel tired of everything and we need to search to find meaning and energy again.

Yet we thrive on human connection and never seem capable of giving up on our search for it. Even avowed hermits often spend their lives connecting with people in other ways, like reading or looking at art. For some, this is enough. After all, the very thing that makes it hard to establish deep connections with others is abundantly present in the arts: the capacity to be honest about life’s darker or more uncertain corners.

That’s just it, though—we’re usually wrong about what we think it takes to make friends. You might think, for example, that you’d be more successful socially if you were less awkward and more comfortable with superficial banter. While it’s true that we’re often better at parties when we’re witty and graceful, we’re most likely to make a connection that sticks when we’re able to be vulnerable. There’s nothing like that moment when you tell someone something you’ve been afraid to tell anyone before and that person gets it.

Consider the possibility that the thing you’re most afraid to confess—that you have no friends—is your secret strength. More people than you realise have gone through periods when they had no friends, and everyone knows what it’s like to be lonely.

You might be surprised by how people react when you’re honest about something awkward or painful. Of course, there’s no guarantee others will be as brave as you and confess what makes them vulnerable. The only way to keep being courageous until you meet another brave soul who connects with you is to tend to what is perhaps the most important friendship of all: the one you have with yourself.

25 Carlos Castaneda Quotes To Awaken Your Inner Shaman

Spirituality is universal. It couldn’t be any other way. 

What do I mean by this?

In reality, independent of cognitive labels, there is no split between the physical, psychological or spiritual worlds. When you look in your direct experience, you can never find a line distinguishing them. We only separate these domains for the sake of communication and scientific investigation. 

Why, however, is this important to point out? Well, because religions and belief systems are simply pointers from apparent mental and physical worlds to the spirit world. 

To say that one tradition has the answer is an oxymoron, the answer lies outside of tradition. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that each tradition has its own unique way of explaining things, and different ideas will connect with different people. 

My mother was raised a catholic and my father Jewish. I was raised an atheist – but later turned to Buddhism, before becoming interested in Yoga and Advaita Vedanta in search of something more. Ultimately, however, no teaching was more believable than actual experience. 

Along the way I’ve explored Christian mysticism, Sufism, and even neo-shamanism. One of the most well known neo-shamanistic writers was a Peruvian-American who draws inspiration from the ancient Toltec culture of Hidalgo, Mexico. I have spent years in both Mexico and Peru respectively, and I can tell you that their cultures – both modern and traditional, vary greatly. Make no mistake, he was not born into the tradition he introduced to the world.

Born on Christmas day, 1925, in Cajamarca Peru, Carlos Castaneda went on to study a PhD in anthropology at the University of California Los Angeles. In the early 1960s, his work as an anthropologist took him to Arizona, where he met Don Juan Matus, a shaman who was shrouded in mystery and promise. After a series of initiation ritual of sorts, whereby Castaneda was supposedly introduced to a series of hallucinogens, he returned to Los Angeles and wrote his first book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. 

Published in 1968, the book was well-received by the Californian counterculture of the time, and spurred two further works; A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan (1971) and Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan (1972). Castaneda was reclusive, despite the fact he developed a degree of fame and unintentionally became a figurehead for the new age movement. 

His books have been translated into seventeen languages, and are still well known, now 50 years later. Admittedly though, they have not been without controversy. The three books have been criticised for appropriating the shamanistic cultures from which he drew his ideas. It’s a valid criticism, it should be made clear that his books are one academics modern interpretation of Toltec spirituality. He doesn’t speak for their culture. Also, though Castenada had a PhD in anthropology and his first books were initially taken to be works of non-fiction, they are now largely regarded as works of fiction. 

However, none of this takes away from the value of the ideas presented in his work. 

As you will see below, from wherever you are reading this article, his words often still resonate over half a century after they were written. Ideas will always be just that, ideas. If, however, they can point you towards something important, then they are valid. 

Whenever wisdom is repackaged form the modern age it becomes stripped of some of the authentic culture presented in their original form, and even to some sense diluted. This is clearly what has happened with mindfulness when Jon Kabat-Zinn brought it over from Buddhism to Western Medicine. 

So without further ado, here are;

25 Carlos Castaneda Quotes To Awaken Your Inner Shaman

Death & Spirit

“In a world where death is the hunter, my friend, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.”

“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.”

“We hardly ever realize that we can cut anything out of our lives, anytime, in the blink of an eye.”

“Malicious acts are performed by people for personal gain … Sorcerers, though, have an ulterior purpose for their acts, which has nothing to do with personal gain. The fact that they enjoy their acts does not count as gain. Rather, it is a condition of their character. The average man acts only if there is a chance for profit. Warriors say they act not for profit but for the spirit.”

Many shamanic traditions have a different attitude towards death and spirit than modern culture. Though specific beliefs vary between cultures, there is commonly a ritualistic partaking in some form of acted death – such as psychedelics or long periods dancing or in a fasted state. Like many esoteric traditions, spirit is something that is more fundamental than the body, and therefore the death of the body is not feared, as it is simply a natural process of the essence returning to the earth. Castaneda often talked of ‘The Warrior’ and contrasted this to ‘The Normal Man’ – a warrior is someone who has seen the truth of spirit, and as a result, does not fear death.

Dreaming & Awakening

“Once it has learned to dream the double, the self arrives at this weird crossroad and a moment comes when one realizes that it is the double who dreams the self.”

“Forget the self and you will fear nothing, in whatever level or awareness you find yourself to be.”

“Through dreaming we can perceive other worlds, which we can certainly describe, but we can’t describe what makes us perceive them.”

“The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.”

“What makes us unhappy is to want. Yet if we would learn to cut our wants to nothing, the smallest thing we’d get would be a true gift.”

“Beware of those who weep with realization, for they have realized nothing.”

“There is no beginning, the beginning is only in your thought.”

“Don Juan had always said to me that our great enemy is the fact that we never believe what is happening to us.”

Dreaming and Awakening are often to domains and metaphors that are used to examine the nature of experience and question our assumptions about reality. In 1993 Castaneda wrote a book called The Art of Dreaming, which explained the process of lucid dreaming and its application in spiritual endeavours. Lucid dreaming has been used for thousands of years as a spiritual practice, most notably in Tibetan Dream Yoga. Don Juan Matus’ approach to dreaming, as described by Castaneda, takes the dreamer through 7 gates which are obstacles to pure awareness. 

Intention & Emotion

“To worry is to become accessible, unwittingly accessible. And once you worry you cling to anything out of desperation; and once you cling you are bound to get exhausted or to exhaust whoever or whatever you are clinging to.”

“A warrior takes his lot, whatever it may be, and accepts it in ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as a grounds for regret but as a living challenge.”

“The trick is in what one emphasises. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”

“A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war, wide awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance.”

“Once you decide something put all your petty fears away. Your decision should vanquish them.”

“Think about it: what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.”

“I have no routines or personal history. One day I found out that they were no longer necessary for me and, like drinking, I dropped them. One must have the desire to drop them and then one must proceed harmoniously to chop them off, little by little.”

“…only if they remain totally detached can they have the energy to be free. Theirs is a particular type of detachment which is born not out of fear or indolence, but out of conviction.”

Like many psychological systems throughout human history, Castenada emphasised intention and its impact on our emotions. This intention meant the literal emotional intention, such as trying to think positive thoughts, but it was also a broader way of engaging with life. Notably, he had a very controlled and strict diet and believed that what you eat was a direct reflection of mental content. “Si comes mal, te sientes mal y ves todo mal” he told one reporter – meaning “If you eat bad, you’ll feel bad and see everything negatively.”

Life

“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”

“A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting.”

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”

“The art of a warrior is to balance the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man.”

“You say you need help. Help for what? You have everything needed for the extravagant journey that is your life.”

Life, from Castaneda’s perspective, was something that was both eerily short and vastly expansive. This is because the shaman lives from a place of connectedness with the absolute, and radical honesty with his humanity. The human experience of life is brief and is to be lived as such. Fear is put aside and challenges are confronted head-on, the senses are to be enjoyed but not to the point of hedonism. Level Headedness is what guides the warrior.

How To Stop Being Nervous (3 methods for LASTING calm)

When I first heard what I’m about to share with you – I was shocked.

It didn’t make any sense. Actually, a lot of things human beings do or feel don’t make much sense, but this one took the cake.

A 1973 study at the University of Nebraska asked people to rank their most common fear. And…it wasn’t death. It wasn’t spiders. It wasn’t snakes, or the dentist, or a some sadist combination of all of these.

Actually, it was public speaking. Simply talking in front of a group of people. Something you’ve probably done in some form, your whole life.

But why are people so averse to speaking in public? Why is it the most common fear? Because no one likes to feel nervous.

The etymological root of nervousness is “in the nerves.” Nervousness isn’t something we ‘do’ in the head. It’s not something we can switch on and off with a positive thought. It’s something that happens in the body.

Depending on our psychological make up, it can be caused by seemingly nothing.

Maybe a friend makes a comment that sounds like a criticism, or your boss doesn’t smile back like she usually does. As soon as that feeling or nervous tension is triggered, the monkey mind can spin out of control for hours. Is your friend mad at you? Are you going to get fired? Is your dog sick? Are you sick? Are you going to die? Eventually your nerves calm down and the thoughts subside. But something tells you it’s just a matter of time before there’s something new to worry about.

But why can’t we get over these feelings of nervousness?

You’ve done your research. Maybe you’ve even been to a therapist. Maybe you’re a little anxious, maybe you’re very anxious. The point is, you want to know what you can do to feel better? What can you do to manage this nervousness and not be entirely dependent on medication. Fortunately, there’s good news—there are other ways to feel better. Just because you nervousness is a problem for you now, it doesn’t need to be that way forever.

Why Do We Get Nervous?

Fear is an important survival tool that we inherited from our hunter-gatherer. Importantly, we humans weren’t always the top of the food chain,  we were also, at one point, the hunted.

Historian Yuval Noah Harari explains this in his landmark book, Sapiens;

“This is a key to understanding our history and psychology. Genus Homo’s position in the food chain was, until quite recently, solidly in the middle. For millions of years, humans hunted smaller creatures and gathered what they could, all the while being hunted by larger predators. It was…only in the last 100,000 years – with the rise of Homo sapiens – that man jumped to the top of the food chain….. Most top predators of the planet are majestic creatures. Millions of years of dominion have filled them with self-confidence. Sapiens by contrast is more like a banana republic dictator. Having so recently been one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties over our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous.”

Being a little on edge and ready to jump and run at the first sudden noise helped our early ancestors survive in a dangerous world.

This feeling of being on edge is also known as the stress response. When something nearby threatens us, we are startled into action by the autonomic nervous system, a system that runs down the spine and connects the brain with our internal organs and circulatory system.

The stress response starts in a part of the brain called the amygdala. When we perceive a threat in the environment, the amygdala sends nerve signals to the hypothalamus, which relays the message to the rest of the body through the branch of the autonomic nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system.

The cascade of physical effects this sparks in the body is sometimes the fight-or-flight response. When your sympathetic nervous system is active, you might:

  • Breathe more rapidly
  • Sweat more than usual
  • Feel your heart beating faster
  • Experience an elevated body temperature
  • Become more energetic and start pacing or shaking

We have this system to thank not only for our ability to run from physical danger, but also for our reactions to social threats like blushing when we feel embarrassed. People who are more nervous than others tend to have a more active sympathetic nervous system. While people with post-traumatic stress disorder or panic disorder tend to have a permanently hyper-active sympathetic nervous system, nervous people usually experience symptoms that are on the same spectrum. They may be milder, but steadier—a background hum rather than a sudden crescendo.

Why Am I So Nervous?

Some people who feel nervous all the time have anxiety disorders. They experience a range of symptoms related to anxiety that cause significant distress and interfere with their ability to function in everyday life. Some common anxiety disorders are:

  • Panic disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are now classified differently, but they were originally understood to be anxiety disorders. Each disorder causes different patterns of response to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Some people use the terms “anxious” and “nervous” interchangeably. Generally, however, anxiety refers to something more severe than nervousness. If the reason you’re nervous is that you have an anxiety disorder, genetic factors may be the cause, or you may have experienced one or more traumatic events in your life you haven’t recovered from. In either case, anxiety disorders require treatment to manage and resolve.

If your nervous symptoms are less severe than symptoms of anxiety disorders, but still play a significant role in your life, you may have what psychiatrists used to call a “neurotic” personality type.

Basically, this means you get more stressed out by everyday events than other people do but function relatively normally without treatment. You might worry more, have nervous habits like pacing or babbling nervously when you’re overwhelmed, or constantly play out worst-case scenarios in your mind. The good news when you’re nervous or neurotic is that a lot of the same techniques that help people with anxiety disorders can actually help you thrive.

How to Stop Being Nervous (3 Key Secrets)

Anxiety responses and nervous reactions involve both the body and mind. Sometimes the restless, nervous thoughts seem to come first, and sometimes stress in your body is what clearly triggers your mind to start spinning the wheel of worry. In either case, both physical and mental techniques can help to tame an nervous monkey mind.

Calm Your Body

“The body is nothing but the visible aspect of the soul, and the soul is nothing but the invisible aspect of the body.” – Osho

For people with nervous temperaments, whose genes drive heightened stress responses in their bodies, physical interventions can be the most immediate and effective calming tools.

An old-fashioned way to refer to someone with a nervous disposition is to call them “high-strung.” Think of a thrumming rubber band: it’s vibrating with tension and ready to snap. When you’re wired this way, it can be hard to physically relax, which also keeps your mind spinning. Learning how to calm your body can help you counteract this nervous tension.

Engaging in relaxing physical activities takes your sympathetic nervous system offline and activates its counterpart, the parasympathetic nervous system. That’s the system in your body that helps you relax so you can sleep, digest food, and restore your energy. Physical activities that promote the relaxation response include:

  • Walking
  • Breathing deeply
  • Playing with a pet
  • Spending time in nature
  • Using grounding techniques
  • Doing vigorous aerobic exercise
  • Doing yoga or other stretching exercises
  • Practicing progressive relaxation exercises
  • Enjoying baths or other calming everyday activities
  • Soothing your gut with food, herbs, and supplements

High-energy physical activity revs up your sympathetic nervous system at first but then wears it out so it can rest afterward. The rush of endorphins that follows can be an immediate antidote to anxiety. When high-impact cardio is too much, stretching exercises that relax your muscles can help you release corresponding mental tension. Taking a bath has a similar effect, which you can enhance by surrounding yourself with calming scents. Walking can help you gather your thoughts, and walking in nature has additional anxiety-busting benefits.

One of the simplest ways to be carefree and relax is to sit or lie in place and ground yourself in awareness of your immediate surroundings and sensations. In progressive relaxation exercises, you focus your attention on one part of your body after another, releasing tension as you go. Grounding exercises direct your attention to objects in the room or to other simple features of your environment.

The most timeless way to connect with the present moment is to focus on your breathing. As you place your attention on the sensation of the breath in your belly, your breathing naturally slows down. It can sometimes help to count to a certain number as you breathe in and out. Focus on the sensation of your diaphragm rising and falling as you breathe through your nose.

You Live What You Eat

What you eat and drink has a huge effect on your mental health. You might be aware that caffeine and other stimulants can make you feel nervous and jittery, but that’s only the beginning. Spicy food can also activate the sympathetic nervous system. Foods that are hard to digest or high in fat can make you feel sluggish and confused and make it harder for your brain to focus and let go of negative thoughts. Alcohol might temporarily calm you down but can also cause you to feel more anxious after it wears off than you otherwise would have been.

Digestive problems can trigger anxiety, so eating foods that ease digestion can counteract it. Fermented foods and beverages like pickles, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha can be as soothing to the mind as they are to the gut. In addition to promoting gut health, eating high-fiber foods can combat nervousness by helping you feel full, which kicks the parasympathetic nervous system into action. For people who are sensitive to fermented or high-fiber foods, taking probiotic supplements is another great option.

Many herbs and supplements are well known as anti-anxiety aids. Research shows that adaptogens like rhodiola, tulsi, and ashwagandha help the mind cope with stress. Other studies show that l-theanine, an amino acid found in tea leaves, has anti-stress effects. This means that when you need an energy boost, drinking tea can be a great choice as the calming effects of l-theanine may counteract some of the anxiety-inducing effects of caffeine.

Reprogram Your Mind

Another way to overcome anxiety or nervousness is to tackle your worried thoughts head-on. Whether your anxiety begins in your thoughts or your body, it tends to be your mind that keeps it going. Several activities and cognitive techniques can distract you from your thoughts, change how you interpret them, or deprive them of their power:

  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Being creative
  • Practicing inquiry
  • Distracting yourself
  • Setting calm anchors
  • Engaging in anxious reappraisal
  • Using cognitive behavioural techniques
  • Practicing mindfulness for nervousness
  • Doing exposure therapy for specific situations

Thoughts only have power when you believe in them, and many therapeutic methods for anxiety work by undermining stressful thoughts. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and inquiry techniques like Byron Katie’s Work and The Sedona Method use different strategies, but they all work by disrupting the link between thinking and emotion. In CBT, you uncover the way distorted thoughts drive fear and anxiety. In The Work, you ask whether something you’re thinking is true. In The Sedona Method, you learn how to let feelings go.

Another neat way to counteract anxiety is to trick your brain into thinking you’re excited instead of anxious. This is called anxious reappraisal. Both excitement and anxiety are triggered by the same cues from the sympathetic nervous system. The only difference is that we like how it feels to be excited but don’t like how it feels to be anxious. It’s amazing how different it feels to say, “I’m excited about my interview” instead of “I’m nervous about my interview.”

Another way to trick your brain is to create calm anchors, or physical gestures that evoke soothing memories of how you felt when good things happened to you. This technique helps you reset responses to events or circumstances you experience as negative because of what happened in the past. Similarly, exposure therapy, or reframing and gradually exposing yourself to situations that make you anxious, can help re-wire your brain’s response to anxiety triggers.

There are other ways to deprive your nervous thoughts of their power. In meditation and mindfulness, you learn how to let thoughts come and go without grasping on to them or feeding them. As you stop engaging with your thoughts, they start to slow down. It’s also harder to get hooked by a worried thought when you see it as something your brain is doing rather than a truth you must believe.

Doing something creative can counter anxiety on two different levels. The creative activity can serve as a distraction, but it can also turn negative thoughts and feelings into fuel, transmuting them into beautiful or healing images, music, or stories. In either case, the state of gentle focus and engagement you experience in a creative flow state can take you out of anxious thinking, help you feel in control, and even produce endorphins.

Journaling can induce a flow state, as any form of writing can, but it can also be an excellent problem-solving tool. Writing freely, without concern that anyone will see or judge what you write, can help you organise your thoughts and see them more clearly. As you form thoughts into a linear narrative, you can follow them to a solution or to a new point of view.

Master Your Monkey Mind and Master Your Nervousness

Any of the tools mentioned in this article can help you feel less nervous. Sometimes, however, people find the right approach that always does the trick for them, but this isn’t always what happens. It can feel exhausting when you’re constantly trying new techniques to tame your anxiety.

For a deeper dive into why you might be nervous all the time, check out the Project Monkey Mind Mastery Course. In it, I go over many of the techniques touched on here, and put them under the Monkey Mind framework. You’ll understand how to use the three pillars of self-control, self-knowledge, and self-transcendence to achieve long-lasting calm. With deeper insight into the different aspects of mind, you can change your brain’s patterns on a more fundamental level and enjoy a more lasting peace.

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