Posts categorized "Brainstorming"

It's a question of questions

The questions we ask ourselves are everything. You will never find the right answers if you are asking the wrong questions.

Pay attention to the questions you have running through your mind. How are you framing your personal dilemmas? Are you asking yourself what you have to do today or what you want to do today? Are you asking yourself how you can hold onto your job or are you asking yourself how you can triple your income and work just a few hours a day? Are you asking how you can make a terrible relationship last forever or are you asking how you can be happy in love?

Behind every question running through your head is a set of assumptions. If you remove the assumptions, you might free yourself up to ask better questions.  When you ask better questions, you might get better answers. When you act on those better answers, your life might get better because you direct your action in ways that might deliver better results.

What are your biggest questions? Are those questions really inevitable? Might there be other, more profound questions that could replace them? Can you ask better questions by removing a few assumptions? This could be your breakthrough. 

 

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Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

To love an ego

It is easy to love a person, but hard to love an ego. Ego is the enemy of love.

The ego is prideful and makes demands. To love someone with your ego means to expect your partner to serve that ego. It is to care less about who your partner truly is or what she feels and to care more about what she is or isn't doing to meet your expectations. You will demand, threaten, you will manipulate, you will do anything at all to get what you think you need from your partner. Unfortunately, your partner will never fully satisfy you because the ego is always greedy for more. You believe that you are great, that you are worth it, and you deserve exactly what you imagine you deserve from your partner. It is selfish and ugly.

To be in-love with an ego-driven partner is to slowly come to the understanding that it is only your good behavior that is loved (not you). You come to discover that you don't matter; rather, what matters is the role that you play. It doesn't matter to your ego-driven partner what you feel, what you think, or who you are. If you do or express something that threatens or fails to serve your partner's ego, you are swiftly met with disapproval or anger. What matters to your ego-driven partner is only what you do to serve that ego. To dedicate yourself to an ego-driven partner is to feel constantly frustrated, afraid, misunderstood, unloved and lonely.

Still, even if you express these feelings, the ego-driven partner is unwilling to change. The ego doesn't listen. It doesn't learn. The ego justifies everything. It threatens, manipulates, and resorts to hostility and violence. When out of control, the ego is willing to destroy anything to get what it thinks it needs. As a result, to love an ego-driven partner is bad for your well-being. You begin to believe that you are not worthy of love unless you meet your partner's expectations. You feel as though something is wrong with you. You find yourself hiding your true self, lying, or even cheating when the despair becomes too much.

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To love without ego is to love your partner unconditionally and to completely accept who she is. It is to understand that her feelings are not a threat to you. The things she likes, the things she does for herself, the decisions she makes about the relationship, none of it is against you because it isn't about you. It is about her. Don't take it personally.

To love without ego is to fully experience the bliss that true love brings. It is to know and understand a person deeply, to have complete trust because there is no reason to lie. It is to know another person as well as you know yourself (neither of which are possible with ego). It is to feel the lightness of freedom even as you are committed. May you discover the joy and bliss of loving without ego. 

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Bernie Sanders, the conclusion of the Democratic Primaries, and what to do next #differentfuture

Bernie Sanders has now finally been over-run by the Democratic party, the corporate media, by the full strength of the establishment. I’m thinking about the millions of people who placed so much hope in him, in this movement, this message. Millions of people made contributions, spread the word, and turned-up for enormous rallies just like millions of beautiful and inspiring young children.

Like a small child asking a parent whether it would be ok to stay home from school, they politely asked the all-powerful establishment whether it would be ok if we could please stop funneling all our money to the top .01%, if we could please have healthcare, please have an education without going broke, and to please stop unjust imprisonment. How did the all-powerful establishment respond? Like a strict, stubborn father reacting to a small child’s request. The answer was short, clear, and unmistakable. The answer was “no”. The entire process was controlled by rigged specific rules (super-delegates, closed primaries, etc.), media bias (very little coverage for Bernie), and in the end they called the primary a day before the huge California primary.

The truth is, even if Bernie had managed to become President, there is very little that he could have accomplished within the rigged political system where essentially every congressman and senator is bought and paid for by their corporate, billionaire overlords. Bernie was not just on our side, he was directly opposed to their side. Bernie did win a victory, though his victory was symbolic. He exposed so much and taught us so much. But the truth is that essentially none of his proposals would have become law.

What if, rather than asking the establishment to please change, we acted not as children asking for permission but as adults making our own decisions? When we ask a corrupt political system to change, when we ask our employers for a raise, and when we live by the rules of conventional wisdom that everyone seems to agree with, we are living as helpless, obedient children. Like a child who is told to go to bed and doesn’t want to, we obey in action even if we occasionally dissent by grumbling about how unfair it is.

If we are going to live in a better, freer, more fair world, we will need to become adults and stop asking for permission. We will need to become our own ruling elite. We need to create systems and structures to depend upon that are not designed to exploit us. The systems we depend upon today are designed to exploit us by a ruling elite who grows wealthier and more powerful each day though the exploitation of our hard work, our intelligence, our time, and our talent.

I see a different future, where we move away from the structures and institutions that enslave us and we create structures and institutions that free us. It is a simple switch, really, and we don’t even need to win an election or ask permission. We just need to live differently and to create systems that support that way of life. My idea for just such a system is presented in this free, 25-page eBook.

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

What do other people think?

The vast majority of people share precisely the same value system. It is a simple system of belief that is called what do other people think. People may call themselves Christians or Muslims, they may proclaim to be Liberal or Conservative, married or single, they may select one career or another, or they may dress differently from each other, but they are all exactly the same because their lives are controlled by a shared belief system. It is a belief system that requires everyone to project a carefully-crafted, false image of themselves to the world. It demands that we seek approval. It requires us to fit-in. It insists that we must try to be normal. We must belong to some group of people who accept us.

The problem is that the things we are expected to project are not real or meaningful things. What we project on Facebook, or in public, or in everything most of us do is just an image. None of it is real because none of it reflects the way we actually feel inside, the things we really want to do, and what we really think. The value system of what do other people think leaves us feeling trapped and lonely because so much of what we are, how we feel, even what we do in secret, is considered inexpressible. 

Followers of what do other people think are violently intolerant of anyone who chooses not to live according to this value system. If anyone in this big world of ours decides to live openly in freedom, they face the full wrath of family, friends, teachers, lovers, bosses, colleagues, and probably even the post-lady. Let us remember that these followers of what do other people think have spent a lifetime sacrificing everything for this. They have gone to church when they would rather have been making love. They have sat quietly at the dinner table when they would rather have said how they really feel. They have sacrificed their entire lives carefully crafting an image to friends, family, and to the public. This is very hard work. This is the world's dream of hell and the religion of what do other people think is how we are domesticated into it. From childhood this is what is expected of us because, we are told, everyone does it.

Now let's imagine someone comes along and says, "Well, I know this is how things have been done for 2,000 years, but it doesn't work for me." Do you think that a person listening to this...someone who has sacrificed everything for the religion of what do other people think...is he or she going to be tolerant and accepting of this person? No. If he were to accept someone who rejects the value system of what do other people think, then his entire identity and belief system will shatter. He cannot allow this to happen, and so the automatic response is to shun, to shame, to ridicule, to punish, to gossip, and to do anything and everything in an attempt to make the person once again care about the religion of what do other people think.

I believe in a different value system. Mine is based on love, acceptance, and freedom. I believe that we should all live according to who we actually are, deep inside. We should all feel free to express that which makes us unique. Our uniqueness is the meaning of your lives. To let it shine is to fulfill your destiny on this planet. Total faith in love is the only path toward happiness and everything good. It cannot be sacrificed for any consideration of what do other people think. I find it quite ironic that the value system of practicing love, acceptance, and freedom despite what other people think is perhaps the most violently hated thing in this world. But I understand the reasons for this and I accept with love anyone who decides to shun, shame, or gossip.

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (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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Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (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.

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Russell Brand ending The Trews & quitting social media (makes perfect sense)

I'm not surprised by Russell Brand's decision to step away from the hamster wheel of media spin cycles. Though he is perhaps the most gifted media personality of our generation, even he cannot accomplish anything of value by taking part in the corporate propaganda machine.

What can possibly be accomplished by analyzing and arguing with pundits whose job it is to distract us and to draw us into a fictitious world where they set the agenda and they control the debate? What Russell has proven is that, even if we make the most rational, persuasive arguments in the most entertaining way, nothing can be accomplished by debating, critiquing, or pleading with an establishment that will not change.

This must have been an excruciatingly painful decision for Russell, yet he seems optimistic because he knows that he is on the path of truth. As he steps away from the hamster wheel of the corporate media and politics, in this video he also makes mention of an area where change is still possible.  

If we want revolution, it will never be enough to simply talk about truth. It will not be enough to protest or to otherwise plead with power. For real change to happen, we don't even need their permission. 

What is the change we are talking about? Aren't we talking about living differently...what we actually do, who we actually know, how we actually make a living? So, it seems to me, that the first step toward revolution is to completely ignore corporate media and to shut out today's rigged sport of politics. We need to stop complaining, stop paying attention to our corporate masters, and start living. Maybe you won't be famous or popular for it, but maybe that's kind of the point.

You can live differently now. Make a plan to leave your job by thinking about what you're good at. Start a business or become a contractor. Meet like-minded people and work together in innovative ways. Seek new relationships that allow you the space to pursue your dreams and fantasies. Open your heart and mind to real people. Love. Explore. Laugh. Stay up all night. Work together to make a living when you finally wake up. 

Let's take it further. Why not create an Internet economy that connects people more efficiently than today's corporate-controlled economy? Why not conduct transactions using our own virtual currency? We can use our skills to serve the needs of each other rather than only the needs of corporations. I have come up with the design for exactly this type of system and I wish there was a way for me to contact Russell to talk with him about it. Maybe now that he has stopped distracting himself with all of the corporate garbage, he will be able to focus his energies on real revolution. That's what I think he's talking about and I applaud this brave decision.

We don't have to wait to live the revolution. We don't have to ask anyone for permission. We don't need 1 million Facebook followers to do it. What we do need to do is change some habits, drop the fame-seeking ego, and start living. We won't fit-in and we won't be recognized for it, but in my experience it doesn't really matter when you are fully-alive and free. 

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Life without anger

Anger is what you feel when something is said or done that directly opposes something you strongly believe in. Anger is nature's way of alerting you that you are incompatible with a person or situation. The extent to which you feel angry about a person or situation is the degree to which you are incompatible.

This explains the observation that, the more religious, nationalistic, or dogmatic a person is, the more angry that person tends to be. The more strongly you believe in something, the more often something is said or done that directly opposes your beliefs. So the more open-minded a person tends to be, the less angry he or she generally is. We all have our own set of beliefs and we all hold some things sacred, but the difference is that the open-minded person shows respect and tolerance; thus allowing room for others to live according to their own beliefs.

This way of understanding anger also explains why it is generally a bad idea to preach, to judge, or even to offer advice to others. The way to avoid anger in your life is to express your own convictions as your own, and allow others the space to do the same. Through tolerance and open-mindedness, even two people who hold conflicting beliefs or opinions can achieve compatibility. They can experience the beauty of life without anger.

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Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Chasing dreams (and failing)

Long before YouTube, Facebook, and even before blogging, I dreamed of becoming famous. I remember my 13-year-old self, practicing basketball every day after school inside my grandparent’s barn. My parents taught me that I could become anything I wanted to be with hard work, dedication, and belief in a dream. My dream was to play in the NBA. Basketball ignited me with optimism and passion. It set me on an ambitious course that could not be contained within the limits of my hometown.

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Of course I failed. I never played one minute in the NBA and, despite endless hours of blood, sweat, and tears, I was only able to climb as far Division II college ball. By my estimation, at least 5,000 hours of my youth was spent on a basketball court. While my friends were playing video games after school, or partying on Friday nights, I was on the basketball court pushing myself a bit further.

One might say that I wasted my time, but I don’t think so. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the leather roll off my sweaty fingers upon the release of a 3-point shot with perfect form. I will never forget the chills in my spine as I would watch the ball swish through the net. I remember the thrill of bursting onto the court for warm-ups into the roar of an appreciative high school basketball crowd. I remember how ecstatic I felt after every victory and how frustrated I felt after each defeat. Despite the hard times, basketball made me feel fully-alive.

The value of a dream is not the outcome, but the process. Any dream worth chasing is a dream that inspires a better now.

My dream to play in the NBA eventually faded, but I have continued to dream. After finishing university, I decided to write a novel. The writing and editing process took about one year (after work in the evenings and on weekends). It was nothing other than the dream of becoming a famous novelist that pushed me forward, day-after-day. Of course my novel ended up failing commercially, but I look back on the project as a success. The story was based on my life, so the writing process forced me to explain myself from an outsider's perspective. Through this process, I came away understanding myself perhaps only as a writer can. Though I had failed to reach an audience, the outcome left me with no regrets because I had grown.

These days, through the immediacy and accessibility of social media and reality TV, we all want to be famous. Everyone seems to be going viral. I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes I feel like something is wrong with me because I can’t seem to reach a large audience. I recognize that this is entirely vain, self-centered, and unhealthy…but nonetheless this is how I have felt. I don’t think my feelings are uncommon. We want to be famous, and we want it now!

As a writer and musician, I am grateful that it has become so much easier to reach an audience. But what has web 2.0 done to the process of dreaming, achieving, and creating? When everything is immediately measured in likes and clicks, when everything can be instantly torn apart with cruel, thoughtless, and anonymous comments; then where is the magic in creating and becoming? How much inspiration is sucked into web marketing, social media strategy, and email marketing? How damaging is it that so much time is spent not on creating or becoming, but on looking for quick fame and immediate feedback?

I fear that social media is destroying the inherent value that can be found in the process of creating and becoming. 

I’m old enough to remember life before computers and cell phones. What I remember is that the moment inherently mattered. I remember feeling totally alive in an experience even though my friends did not immediately know what I was thinking or doing. Moments mattered simply because they happened. Experiences were meant to be shared only with the people who were there. Ideas and stories were discussed only with people who might actually relate. Back then, if you attempted to share travel pictures with friends, you were met with either open resistance or polite tolerance for a few minutes. But it felt like our lives mattered even without likes, comments, or shares.

I don’t know whether it is possible to recapture what was lost, but I want to try. For too long, I have foolishly focused too much time, money and energy on trying to make the Abscondo band famous. Now I have stopped all self-promotion and image-crafting. In the past few months, have had wonderful experiences and posted none of it on Facebook. I have written songs meant only for me to play, by myself, in my room. I have started writing a book just for the purpose of forming new thoughts. I'm mountain-biking again. I am studying the Slovak language again. I am focusing on my real life and my real relationships. Life is better.

You don't need an audience to live fully.

What matters is not the image we project, but the inherent value of each experience, each relationship, and each creation. You don’t need an audience for your life to matter. Take your time becoming the best version of you that you can be, and do so without the pressure of success and fame. 

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Cosmoprof Bologna - 100,000 people looking for beauty in all the wrong places

Today I am among 100,000 people at the cosmetic industry trade show called Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna, Italy. We walk endless miles with aching feet, stopping only to shout politely at each other to negotiate over the roaring sound of spectacle. We’ve come to this place to profit from the business of making a woman beautiful. But what is it that makes a woman beautiful?

I’m sitting on a dirty floor in my expensive suite. On my lap is a notebook and in my hands is a pencil. I close my eyes to feel my nerves pulsate in an uncomfortable way. Music thumps behind me as hundreds pass me by. Strangers from around the world sit near me, eat pizza, and talk in languages I do not understand. We lean our backs against an advertisement. Already 3 people have taken photos of us, though I’m not exactly sure whether they are curious about us or the sign behind us. My emotions are numb but my mind seems clear for a moment. So quite inappropriately, I write.

Why have we come here? What are we trying to decipher on this signage and in these slogans? What do we hope to discover in these algae creams, perfumes, gels, fake nails, and mud treatments? What are we suffering to sell? What are our customers suffering to buy and laboring to use? We want to be beautiful! We want a better life! We believe we will find it in a product when, in truth, it can only be found in each other. When we think back on our lives, we must have learned that true beauty and genuine happiness can only come from each other.

A woman might spend her fortune and squander her time seeking beauty; yet none of it matters if she is not alive inside, if she is incapable of smiling, or if she is unwilling to listen or care. Beyond this, a woman is most beautiful when she is in love. A woman’s natural beauty effortlessly shines when she is open to love, seeking love, experiencing love, and giving her love to another. When I look at a woman, I perceive something beyond the surface. I know that her beauty cannot be purchased and does not come from her beauty rituals. The truest beauty can only come to her through the love of another person.

100,000 people share this crowded place; yet we have never felt lonelier. We have never been further away from filling that void inside of us. No product will ever provide us with what we are truly seeking. Whatever it is that we are missing; it can only actually be given by another person. If we are going to find true happiness, we need a people economy. The product economy isn’t going to work. Time to go to my next meeting. 

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Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).