Posts categorized "Authentic Life"

We will see

It is easy to write a book that espouses the highest ideals. What's more difficult is to take those ideals and to live in the real world, as it actually is, each moment of each day. 

Sometimes it seems that the famous writers, motivational speakers, and spiritual leaders of this world are coasting through life--cushioned from the struggles, challenges, and hardships the rest of us go through. There they stand, comfortable in front of large crowds of people who are faithful enough--or perhaps desperate enough--to pay good money for their transformative presence. Are these famous spiritual or self-help leaders walking the walk, or are they merely earning a living by telling us what we want to believe and what we wish were true? Would their ideals work in their own lives even if there was no paying audience? It is a good question.

Most of us would like to be happier, we desire inner-peace and transformation; but we believe it isn't possible for us--or isn't relevant to us because of the reality of our life circumstances. One may ask, what special skills or talents do I have? How can this type of spiritual wisdom help me find a better job or earn more money? Will an enlightened version of me appeal to my romantic partner, or will I grow old alone in my decaying wisdom? Again, these are valid questions.

While I am espousing a set of spiritual beliefs, I certainly don't earn much money from an audience. I am not writing with the intention of getting rich or famous. I am only writing about how I do live. If these ideas and concepts prove to have any value at all, then they will shine in my real life as I walk my talk.

Who am I? Am I an author? Sort of, but not really. Am I a musician? Sort of , but not really. Am I a sales professional or an entrepreneur? Well, this is how I pay the bills, but does that have anything to do with this? If you end up following my blog or getting in touch with me, then the only thing you will find is a person, just like you, simply trying his best.

I believe in Love. I believe in the power of the now. I believe that it is possible to live entirely outside the ego. I believe that the universe is abundant. I believe that Love is everywhere and that it melts away all resistance. I believe that to be alive is to be giving, and the best way to give is to create. But I also know that I am living in a world in which few other people share these perspectives. Can these truths, can this approach to living actually work in the world we actually live in? We will see what manifests in my now.

In this world, to be normal is to distrust people, to avoid potentially uncomfortable situations, to avoid risk, and perhaps most of all: to fear. Few of us have ever taken big, bold steps outside of what is considered normal. At least I have done that. Most of what I do would be considered crazy and too risky to most people. It isn't that I am trying to prove anything; I am only trying to be me and to live in alignment with what feels right and natural. So far, things seem to be going quite well, but we will see. It isn't that I'm waiting for the future for an answer. The future doesn't exist. Nor does the past. What exists is the constantly present now. That which enters and leaves the now as I live according to this set of spiritual principles? We will see.  

I will not be standing in front of a large crowd telling people what they should do anytime soon. I will simply continue to be honest and to live according to what I believe is right, even if most of it goes directly against what is normal and what all of society believes. 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

How to dream

Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade. 

-Tony Robbins

I would like to share an amazingly powerful and simple way you can achieve your dreams. Spend an hour or two simply writing an essay about your life 10 years from now. Describe everything about your day, from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. Describe your room, your house, the place where you work. Describe how many children you have. Allow yourself to dream by following just one rule: there are no limits. Write as though there are no financial, geographic, or any other kinds of constraints. Think only about what you want, what makes you excited, what would be fun, what would make you feel good. What would your life look like if you could be completely you?

For this exercise, there are no externally-imposed restrictions or restraints preventing you from everything you truly, madly, deeply want. Write about that. You don't have to show it to anyone (unless your partner is extremely like-minded and open-minded). Just write it, save it, and put it away. Now, go on living your life and see what happens in 10 years.

Debbie Millman talks about this on a recent Tim Ferriss Podcast. I have also experienced this in my life.

Back around 1995, when I was still in college, I had a wild, unrealistic fantasy about my life in the future. I was visiting Slovakia, where my wife was from and where her family lives. I loved spending time in Europe and dreamed of living there. I remember one moment, strolling in the city center of Kosice. I pointed at a beautiful building in the old town and said to my wife, "Someday we could live right here. The Internet will be faster, so we could move here and work at home for American companies. All we need is a fast connection and a US phone number. Nobody would even know where we are located."

Hlavna

Here's the spot in Kosice, Slovakia

This wild dream of living in Slovakia was now vivid. I imagined that, in my spare time, I would read in cafes. I would write books. I would play guitar. Maybe I would even start a band, record music, go on tour. All this would be possible if I could find a way to earn a good living while living in Slovakia. I also needed enough spare time, which I figured would be no problem if I could work from home. Back in the days of dial-up Internet, this dream was laughable. We went for ice cream and did not discuss this further.

10 years later, by 2005, my idea was not so crazy anymore. Broadband and VoIP technology had made it possible to do exactly as I had dreamed. That year, we moved to Kosice and took our American income with us. Remarkably, we lived in the exact building I pointed at in 1995.

In the years that followed, my life became exactly as I had imagined. I wrote books. I started a band. I recorded albums. I traveled Europe. I don't remember striving toward any of this. I did not exactly plan it, and I certainly did not force it through any kind of will-power. It was enough only to imagine it vividly and then go on with life.

Here's how it works: when you have a clear vision that excites you, then you make little decisions every day which are compatible with the vision. If you fall in love with a dream, then you avoid making life decisions which may prevent you from living the dream. Slowly, these small decisions start to reveal a realistic path. What was once distant and impossible begins to look sane and likely. It isn't so much about taking a leap; rather, taking tiny steps each day. A decade is a long time. You don't have to strain yourself. Just paint a picture of your future and go on living. But be careful what you wish for, though, because it probably will happen! 

No matter where you are in life or how old you are, just start writing. Today, I wrote about my life again, 10 years from now. Thank you Tim Ferriss and Debbie Millman for the encouragement.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Enlighten Us (documentary about James Arthur Ray)

I have a serious problem with the idea of spending massive amounts of money to sit in a conference room listening to some self-help guru or motivational speaker. I am also allergic to church and despise therapy. Call me crazy, but I try to avoid cults as well.

Here's what I think: if a leader is trying to cultivate followers, what they are actually trying to do is cultivate sheep. 

What is "self-help?" Isn't self-help about enabling and empowering you to become the master of your own life? Aren't you meant to align yourself with the higher truth of the universe so that you might flourish? Is there any way that this can happen if you are willing to become a conformist, a follower, a sheep? Gurus want you to follow them only so that they can take your money. Real transformation, on the other hand, is only possible when you find the courage to not to follow anyone.

The therapist doesn't want to cure the patient because she earns a living from repeat visits. Similarly, the self-help guru, cult leader, or televangelist never delivers the life transformation he promises because he needs followers. Followers = butts in seats = money = the symbols of success = equals more followers and the cycle continues.

If you attend seminars, if you trust a therapist, or if you put your faith in a church, then you are leaning heavily on a faulty crutch rather than taking real steps. By becoming a follower, you have chosen to ignore your inner voice and to ignore the infinite wisdom already inside you. By putting yourself in that room and worshiping your chosen leader, you are dissolving your greatness into a group of fakers while ignoring your power, your divinity, and your creative potential. You are passively submissive to someone who you believe is better than you and, while their empowering language may make you feel good, you are not walking the walk and you are not becoming a master of your own life. Mastery begins only when you stop this cycle.

I believe that a person who is healed, who has actually undergone a transformation, who is connected with the source of creation and who is enjoying the abundance of the universe--that person is going to have a strong reaction against sitting in a cold, dark conference room being worked into a frenzy by a show, a performance that is led by a snake-oil salesman offering only enough nuggets of wisdom to tease the next dollar from your pocket.

If a guru or leader is attempting to build a following, then he or she is a fraud. Watch the film Enlighten Us on Netflix. This must-see documentary is about the rise and fall of James Arthur Ray--a dangerous fraud who cares only about his own success. The man is a psychopath who justifies his destruction by honestly believing he is trying to help people.

The film hits close to home for me because I am something of a self-help author newcomer. But unlike James Arthur Ray and the others, you will never find me in front of an audience giving a performance in order to collect followers. I don't want anybody passively sitting in any audience listening to what I have to say. I want you to read, to step outside of your ego, to open yourself to Love, and then to connect with others who have done the same.

Don't look at any leader for direction or you will become lost. Look inward and then connect with others who are doing the same. You can learn from famous people, but don't follow them. Don't trust me, don't trust anyone--trust truth and know that the best truth sensor is your own intuition. To conform to a group is to kill that intuition, to shut down your inner-voice, and to move away from the possibility of transformation rather than toward it.

Devour books, watch speeches on YouTube, absorb as much wisdom as you possibly can--but evaluate it according to your own, independent, inner-voice and intuition. No supposed leader has the right to ask for your money for the privilege of sitting in a seat, shaking a hand, or becoming a loyal follower. Transformation starts when you begin to respect yourself more than that. I Love you and respect you so much that I wouldn't let you follow me even if you tried to.

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*Photo of James Arthur Ray, a psychopath who people actually have followed.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

False certainty

I have found that most people would rather live in a state of false certainty than accepted reality. The problem with false certainty is that, well, it is false. Your life is an illusion. If you cling to what you want to believe, see only what you want to see, and tell yourself only the stories that you want to hear, then you are cruising through life blindly and certain to fall. Your perceived reality has little in common with actual reality. False certainty may sustain the status quo for a while and may help you cope in the moment, but as a result you make bad decisions, miss opportunities, fail to grow and inevitably experience painful shock and surprise at every turn.

Reality can suck, but the only way you are going to make it suck any less is to embrace it, know it, and change it. If you want any real improvement, truth must be your starting point. Only when you understand your truth can you begin to respond in the ways that you care capable of responding. Here are some strategies to help you start moving in the right direction:

1) Let's start with your relationship realities. Do you embrace honesty and openness in your relationships or do you expect the people in your life to follow your rules and tell you what you want to hear? Encourage the people closest to you to tell you how they really feel about anything and everything. Ask them to be sensitive in their truths, but try to stay strong. Embrace and accept what they are telling you.

Do you really know what your kids are going through? If your normal reaction is outrage, disapproval ,or punishment, then you can be pretty sure that they aren't telling you. Do you know if your spouse is honest and faithful? If you have threatened divorce over non-monogamy and get angry when she expresses her truest, darkest feelings, then your spouse isn't going to tell you what's going on. 

Better to base your relationships on unconditional truth and acceptance and then do your absolute best not to freak out when the truth comes your way. The payoff is the bliss that comes from true closeness and the deeper sense of security that comes from knowing the truth about your relationships. It isn't easy to offer acceptance and unconditional love to the people we love most because sometimes the truth feels threatening. But the truth is the truth and it is better to know it. Besides, anything less than unconditional acceptance is something less than love.

2) Look at your financial realities. How much money do you have? Is your business really profitable? Does your job pay enough to support your lifestyle? How much debt do you actually have? Is it growing or shrinking? 

What are your goals? If you stay on the current path, are you going to do the things that you want to with your life? If not then what, specifically, are you going to do each month to make some progress?

If you are employed, then is your job really as stable and permanent as you like to believe it is? Is it not possible that your CEO is in acquisition negotiations right now and a layoff is coming next month? A job offers false certainty whereas a move to self employment may be scary at first, but ultimately offers a more certain reality that you have some control over.

3) If you are a student, do you know what to expect from your chosen field after graduation? Are you sure that you really want to continue down the current path? If not, make changes. If you are an artist or in any way creative, get honest reactions about your work. Are people loving it? If not, then knowing this is the starting point to getting better.

4) Be honest with yourself. Don't tell yourself that you are any greater or more special than you are. Also, don't believe that you are any less great or special than you are. Accept that which you actually are and start living your truth. Others will adjust.

5) What actually makes you excited? What makes you feel good to be alive and looking forward to a new day? Be honest with yourself and then do that thing. This is what nature wants you to do and there is no guilt or shame in following nature's call. This is your intuition, your calling, your destiny. Stop lying to yourself and accept the truth about what excites you.

Delusion

I hope that this post, in some small way, encourages you to become brave enough to step out of any false certainty in your life so that you may embrace what is, change what you don't like, and become what you are.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

The poly romantic

Nothing is more romantic than polyamory. Love is nothing if not a struggle against the world and no form of love is more a struggle against the world than polyamorous love is.

Romantic love does not ask "what do my parents think?" or "is this normal?". True love seeks no approval on Facebook. Crazy, insane love cares little about practicality because it creates its own refuge in some higher place. When in love, nothing matters more than a single second spent looking deeply into your lover's eye. To be in love is to find endless bliss in a simple greeting and to feel total salvation in a tired conversation at the end of a long day. 

Please don't understand what I am saying as just some sort of lovely, romantic sentiment. I mean this literally, as truth. Real love would never ask to be proven through sacrifice, commitment or will-power. The highest form of romantic love doesn't mind taking a wrecking ball to any aspect of your life. If the force of love destroys anything, then it destroys that which must be destroyed for the purpose of good. After all, love is the highest form of truth and good. How could love destroy good? Love cannot be the cause of something bad and to believe so is to be confused about what love does and what goodness is. Negative consequences in love happens only when faith in that love is abandoned. 

To commit to polyamory is to commit to love's highest ideal. To choose polyamory is to place your total, complete faith in love. It is to live each moment open to the possibility of new love just as you continue to honor lasting love. To commit to polyamory is to face dramatic challenges, changes and consequences because you are filled with the natural strength to shrug off judgment, opinions, threats, and ultimatums. If you are poly, you are a fucking beautiful romantic and I love you for it. To be the truest romantic (to be poly) is to know (not just believe) that love is the answer. To live poly is to walk love's walk.

Poly love is love. Anything else is something less than love. Anything less is an arrangement based on conditions. Love never asks anyone to be less or to love less. I still believe in love.

LOVE

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Why are you doing what you are doing?

In this fascinating presentation called Uncommon Sense, Derek Sivers asks, "Why are you doing what you are doing? Most people don't know. They just tend to go with the flow." Most of us choose what to do with our time based on social norms. We try to convince ourselves that we want what someone else says that we should want (not what we truly want). What do you like? Do you really want to make a lot of money? Or do you want to be famous? Do you want to leave a legacy? Do you want to stay home and raise children? Or do you want freedom? What makes you most excited and happiest?

If you want to actually achieve what you want in life, you have to focus on one area and let the other stuff go. You have to know your real goal and hold yourself accountable to that standard. It isn't going to work to optimize your life for success in all areas, though sometimes success in one area can spill over to others.

What I really want in life is freedom. This is my measure of success and this is what I have optimized for. Sometimes I look at someone else's life and feel like a bit of a failure. One person has the status of a title or position, another person has fame, and so many people who seem to be no more gifted than I am have enormous wealth. But then if I dig a little deeper and think about it a bit further, I don't really want their lives. They don't have the freedom that I do.

Whichever path you choose, people are going to tell you that you are wrong. When I left my corporate job in Seattle to move to Slovakia 10 years ago, people thought I was making a terrible mistake. But I was pulled in this direction because I wanted freedom. Since then, I have directed so much of my time and energy into projects that I choose. I do what excites me. If that means writing a song, I write. If that means spending a month traveling, I travel. If I spend time with my wife and family, I want this to be a choice that was freely made out of the love that I freely give. If I feel like spending time with another beautiful woman who is new in my life, then I also want to be free to do this. None of this means that I am disloyal, unloving, irresponsible, or unsuccessful in other areas. But, whatever success I am able to achieve in other areas tends to flow from my loyalty to that desire to be free. 

My desire for freedom doesn't mean that I don't value money. I do care about money, but only to the extent that it supports greater freedom. My desire not to become dependent upon a sole source of income (i.e. a job) has inspired a successful business. I used to work in business development and sales. I sold enterprise software to large corporations. Over the years, I became rather good at what I do. However, I didn't like having a job because it felt like too much of my behavior was driven by fear. I depended upon a sole employer for all of my income, so even when I was working from home I was worried that my boss would catch me away from my computer. I was worried that I wasn't working hard enough or getting enough results. It was all fear-based and I didn't know how to balance that very rational fear with my desire to record an album, book concerts, travel, or even read a book. Instead, I found myself sitting by my computer even though that is the last thing in the world I wanted to do.

In the summer of 2013, I was spending a week on the beach in Croatia with my family. I didn't have enough vacation time, so I was traveling covertly. With my iPhone nearby, logged onto Skype, checking email, I would run to the hotel room to deal with anything that came up at work. Soaking up the sun, splashing in the waves, I was certainly more free than my colleagues in the office...but still I wasn't free enough because I was scared. On that same beach, my wife and I were both reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. This is a must-read book for anyone who desires freedom. It provides all of the practical advice you need to make more money and achieve more freedom with less work. I remember the exact moment when the idea came to me that would change my life. We were standing in the water and my wife turns to me and says, "Why do you have just one job? You could get 5 or 10 jobs doing what you do and outsource all of the work to India." In less than a second, I turned to her and said, "That's what I will do". The day after returning from the vacation, I put up a website and started an outbound prospecting / lead generation business. In some amazing stroke of coincidence and fate, my boss called that same week to let me know that they were letting me go.

My new venture wasn't easy at first, but I loved the feeling of working for the right reasons. My incentives were pure. At least my fears were based on reality not on the perceptions of a boss. It took a few months to sign the first customer. A few more customers followed a few months later. But there were still problems. I failed to deliver enough results to my first few customers, but I stayed at it. It took about 18 months to start generating a comfortable income. Now, over the past 6 months, I am earning profits of $15,000 to $20,000 per month with 2-3 hours of work per day running successful campaigns for 8 - 10 customers. I have more than doubled my income and achieved greater financial stability while working far less. How exactly did I do it?

Over the years, I have become an expert in how to sell expensive, complex software to executive-level buyers. More specifically, I have become an expert at how to pitch solutions in order to setup introductory calls. I understand the tone and the metrics required to generate a consistent flow of high-quality introductions. So rather than doing all of the work myself, I turned this knowledge into a process that anyone can do. I then outsourced the process to a company in India. I provide all of the instructions to make the campaigns successful. I ask my clients for what I need from them, I write the email messaging, build target account lists, etc. I do only what I need to do and I outsource all of the pieces that are not critical for me to do. This has given me the time and income I needed for greater freedom. I could work 3x harder, bring in 3x more customers, and make 3x more income, but that would mean less freedom. I am happy with how things are because I am running this business to optimize for freedom, not to maximize for profit.

If this is something you would like to do, then ask yourself what expertise do you have? How can you scale your knowledge and wisdom? How can you outsource all of the pieces that can be done by others to free yourself up? How can you further scale the areas where you are uniquely competent or skilled? How can your skills and expertise be an asset that supports your true goal? Why are you not doing this now?  

This year, I have also identified another area of life that has been working against me as a person who wants greater freedom. I have been married to the love of my life since age 18. When I was young, I didn't understand myself the way that I do now. She and I fell in love and so we just naturally entered into a monogamous relationship and eventually got married. Our relationship has been wonderful, healthy, and positive in so many ways. We grew up together, faced all of life's challenges together, and all the while have managed to stay in love and attracted to each other. But in recent years it has become obvious to me that it isn't possible to value freedom and maintain a traditional monogamous relationship. So with great pain and struggle, I have opened things up with her.

I love in a way that doesn't require rules. I know what I feel for my wife and my young daughter. My love is never-ending and unconditional. Wanting them to be happy and comfortable is the same as wanting myself to be happy and comfortable. At the same time, monogamy is not freedom and it doesn't work for me. I have come to discover that I am polyamorous. I value complete honesty and openness. I am capable of loving more than one person. Feelings for one person do not affect feelings for another. I want to be free and I want anybody who I love to also be free. I can deal with jealousy and I want to help my partners do the same. Transitioning my marriage from monogamous to non-monogamous has been a slow, painful, seemingly impossible journey but we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom does not have to mean being alone. Quite the opposite, love can come from multiple people just as income can come from multiple clients.

I have also come to believe that one cannot be free if you do not have a space to call your own. I recently found a small apartment a few minutes walk from my family home. This is where I work, write, make music, and I spend time with anyone who I choose. As the true minimalist I am, it took me just a few hours to get the place setup. I have only the dishes that I need and no more. I have no TV and no decorations. The place is very small and I have only the stuff I absolutely need to support the things that I want to do here. Here's a picture of me in my personal space:

  Newflat2

During stretches of uninterrupted and focused time here, I have become more productive with my work. I have been reading more. I have been working on a book. In just two months have written enough songs for a new album. Yesterday I even setup a basic recording studio so that I can begin recording.

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As part of the sound-proofing, I covered foam panels with my daughter's drawings. In true minimalist style, I also dry laundry in the same room!

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I would recommend to anyone like me, who is primarily driven by a desire for freedom, to find your own space. You don't need to live alone full-time. Sometimes I sleep in my space, sometimes I sleep at my family home. On days that I do sleep in my space, I still wake up early and walk to my family home to make them breakfast. I then take my daughter to school and come back to my personal space to do my stuff. Then, in the afternoon, I spend another few hours with my family, playing with my daughter and talking with my wife. Some nights I stay there, some nights I do something else, some nights I walk to my personal space and sleep there. When my wife is traveling, I spend those days in my family home with my daughter.

I'm not going to pretend that these drastic changes have been easy for my wife, they haven't. But, in many ways, our relationship has improved now that we have become less dependent. We are learning to treat each other with greater respect and to allow each other more freedom. She has begun traveling a lot and spending more time with friends. No matter what happens with us romantically, we are both committed to maintaining the happy, loving family we have created. I have also found that I have been spending far more quality time with my daughter. Now, when I am with my family, I am with my family (not on my computer because my computer stays in my space). My daughter is handling these changes really well and my wife and I are arguing far less than we used to. I recognize that this is a bold, very unconventional move. What I have done doesn't mean that I love my wife any less than I used to. Quite the opposite, for the first time I am loving her openly as the person I truly am. I am setting her free to define how she wants to live her life and to decide how she wants me in her life (or not). She is an amazing woman and I am fully-committed to her and my daughter just as I am optimizing my life for greater freedom. I believe this can work long-term if we approach every day with love and sensitivity.

My life may look strange or chaotic to anyone who values stability, wealth, status, or fame above freedom. To me, all of it makes perfect sense and I wouldn't change a thing. What do you value most and why are you doing what you are doing?

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

To live differently

If you want to end up like your parents, then you should listen to their advice. If you want to be just like your neighbors, friends, or colleagues at work then you should say the things that they agree with do exactly as they do. If you want to live as they do then your path is clear. Follow the same rules, put off the same uncomfortable decisions, avoid the same risks, go for the sure thing even if it isn't what you want. You may think that you are an exception. You may tell yourself that you can do it your way, that your life will not end up like theirs, but the way you spend your time is the way you become. What you do with your days becomes who you are. The path ahead of you is as predictable as the Monday morning alarm clock.

There is no way to have a radically better life without radically different action. Only a radical takes the risks required to break through to something better. If you want something better for your life, then you should question everything (especially the things that everyone agrees on). If you catch yourself seeking approval, ask yourself whether you want to become like the person you seek approval from. In truth, everything you do is your choice. Nobody has to agree with you. Nobody has to understand. You are the only one who needs to be right about who you are and what you want.

To be a radical isn't to be a fool. A fool acts on impulse. He fails to consider the consequences of his actions. He fails to plan and then he fails to execute. A fool has unrealistic dreams and lacks discipline. But a radical sees the world as a clean slate with unlimited possibilities. He understands exactly how things work (if he doesn't, he studies and observes). Only when he is sure, he executes on a realistic plan or a strategy that can actually work. He is honest with himself about what it will take, what it will feel like to work toward the goal, and what reality will look like when it has been achieved. He questions himself each day and changes what isn't working. He shows no concern for the opinions or judgments of others unless they have accomplished what he hopes to accomplish.

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You cannot live differently unless you are free. You cannot be free unless you are radical. People talk of freedom, but so few know what it is. If you have a job, you are not free. If you depend on daddy or on a husband for money (and there are any strings attached), then you are not free. If you are attending university and learning what you are told, you are not free. If you are in a monogamous relationship because your partner is jealous, you are not free. Most people are only free during those brief moments of shame when they are deceptively hiding something. When they are caught, they are punished. This is not freedom. Even a slave has this luxury.

To be free is to be openly in control of your time, openly doing what you choose, and openly navigating your relationships on your terms. If you can find a way to do this without living in poverty and without being alone and isolated, then you have become a master of your own life. If you are capable of loving others fully just as you maintain both your honesty and your freedom, then you have achieved enlightenment. Despite what anybody tells you, all of this is possible.

It takes radical action to be free. People may not understand your choices, but they will envy the result. So forget about seeking their approval now because one day they will come to you for advice.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Your job isn't real. Money isn't real. It is a game.

Business is a game. A job is a game. More to the point: money is a game. None of it is real. The economy is a big game. This is why it is a mistake to define your identity or self-worth in economic terms. You are not your job or career. This game of acquiring money should be played like the game of poker. At work, you aren’t expected to be honest about your beliefs, your feelings, your dreams, or your opinions. If you are ethical, then you are expected to play the game in a way that enables others, who are also playing a game, to win. In doing so, it is up to you to make sure that you also win. If you aren't winning, play the game differently.

I wish that our world was organized in a way that ties human beings together through truth, dignity, fairness, love and kindness. Perhaps we could go back to living in tribes, we could all know each other, accept each other, and work together as part of a caring, nurturing community. But that isn’t the way the world is currently organized. Today, the economic system is a big game that is maintained by ruling elites to control us as they exploit resources for personal gain. Those who see the economic word as reality are those who lose. The true believers are they fully-exploited. Your challenge is to play the game to your benefit while finding space for your real life to flourish.

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Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Self-love with Don Miguel Ruiz

Sometimes a cup of tea with the right person can change your life. A few weeks ago, I met with an acquaintance who I hadn't seen for some time. The conversation became very personal and something I said must have inspired her to recommend a book called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Too often, I have ignored recommendations in conversation. Rather, I pretend that it is possible to remember a name or a title at some point of the future (it usually ends up forgotten). Maybe it was the way she spoke of this book that convinced me, but for whatever reason I wrote it down.

My friend told me how he writes about self-love, that we can't actually look to others or rely on others to love us or make us happy. The place to look for love is within ourselves. To be honest, I didn't believe this premise. Self-love is not something I had ever given any thought to. But I also recognized that I had become too needy about love and have been constantly in-need of attention coming from others. Not only has this led to ridiculous, addictive behaviors like checking messages every 10 minutes, it has also resulted in my tolerating what has oftentimes been an unhealthy relationship with my partner.

The next day, I started researching Don Miguel Ruiz and found out that his most well-known work is called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. The premise of the work is that we all make "agreements" with ourselves (sometimes referred to as narratives or mental models). Many of these agreements come from "the world". These are beliefs and ways of doing things that have come from thousands of years of history and have been passed down by billions of ancestors. The author uses the concept of "the world's agreements" and "hell" interchangeably, and I tend to agree. In other words, if we accept the world's way of doing things and allow ourselves to be "domesticated" to live in accordance with the ways of the world, we are sure to live a personal hell. 

It is up to you whether you want to create a life of happiness or misery, and this depends on the agreements you make with yourself. If you tell yourself that you deserve abuse, you will accept abuse from others. If you define your worth through the opinions of others, you will be disappointed and led astray. 

Indeed, it is the stories we tell ourselves that hold us back from achieving happiness, freedom, success, and love. We can replace those unhealthy agreements with positive ones, and the author takes us through exactly what those positive agreements should be.

The Four Agreements changed my life and helped me through a challenging time. So, just over one week later, I decided to read the book my friend originally recommended, Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship. I have come to believe that this is a must-read for anybody in a relationship or anybody who wants to be in a relationship (in other words, everyone).

He writes “the real mission you have in life is to make yourself happy, and in order to be happy, you have to look at what you believe, the way you judge yourself, the way you victimize yourself”. When we take on guilt and fail to forgive ourselves, there is the potential that others may abuse us. We allow this abuse only because we tell ourselves that we deserve it.

I have done things in the past for which I had not yet forgiven myself. Yet, paradoxically, I have always known that I have done these things not to harm anyone; rather, for the simple reason that I am who I am. I have not always behaved in accordance with the world's rules. I have lived according to my truths, my agreements with myself, my feelings, and my nature. Over the years, I have been convinced to accept the belief that my actions have hurt the person who I love. As a result, I have been unable to forgive myself for this until now and I have allowed myself to be abused because of it.

What I realized now is, as the author writes, "I don't need to hear your cursing all the time. It's not that I am better than you; it's because I love beauty. I love to laugh. I love to have fun; I love to love. It's not that I am selfish, I just don't need a big victim near me. It doesn't mean that I don't love you, but I cannot take responsibility for your dream. If you are in a relationship with me, it will be so hard for your Parasite, because I will not react to your garbage at all." This, as the author points out, is not selfishness. It is self-love. 

This book has changed my life. Before reading Don Miguel Ruiz, I was controlled by fear, driven by guilt, and felt that I deserved garbage in my life for doing nothing other than being who I am. As I have come to forgive myself and accept myself, I am opening myself up to relationships that are built on generosity, freedom, and love.

"If you cannot love your partner the way she is, someone else can love her just as she is. Don't waste your time, and don't waste your partner's time. This is respect."

Forgiveness of the self, forgiveness of the other, and self-love; this is the path toward happiness and love. The love we crave cannot be expected to come from someone else, it must come from within. With self-love and an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness, we can create the most beautiful, healthy, nurturing relationships based on mutual respect and freedom.

Pay attention to recommendations. Read this book. 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

I'm working on a new book

After some time off since completing the Abscondo album, I have recently made a decision about my next project. I have begun steady, focused work on a new book. The working title is:

The Diversified Life: How to end your unhealthy dependence upon one relationship and one job 

The benefits of “diversification” are commonly understood in the world of finance. Quite simply, diversification is the idea that it is risky to put all of your money into one investment. The book applies the concept of diversification to all of life.

Relying on one job as our sole source of income is even riskier than putting all of your money into one stock. Relying on one relationship to provide everything you need emotionally, romantically, intellectually, and sexually is like relying on one book to provide all of your knowledge and wisdom.  

To commit to the Diversified Life is to refuse to be forced into one job, one lover, one hobby, one philosophy, or one of anything. By seeking multiple sources of income at once, by being open to multiple romantic relationships at once, and by trying new hobbies, new art-forms, going to new restaurants, and traveling to new cities, you are opening yourself to so many possibilities of happiness, growth, beauty, knowledge, wisdom and everything positive in life. At the same time, having options means that it is less necessary to accept the negative stuff from anything or anyone.

This is a how-to book containing specific strategies that will help you find freedom and become who you are. I'm excited about my progress on the book and just wanted to let everyone know what I'm up to.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).