Posts categorized "Happiness"

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.

Abc_gma_harris_091029_ms

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

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

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. 

 

Question

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.

Ego

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).

To love a person more than a story

To truly love a person and to be loved in return. This is the highest form of happiness that I have known in this life. Sometimes I wonder, if we all agree that love is the most wonderful thing and most of us crave true love more than anything else, then what holds us back from finding it? Even when we do stumble upon perfect love in these imperfect lives, then what prevents us from sustaining it over the long-term?

I think that true love is something that happens when two people love each other more than they love the story. Most of us have it the other way around. Even before we meet our true love, we are in love with the fairy-tale of our perfect love story. We might imagine a perfect wedding or we may plan to have two children. We might imagine the right life partner as someone who falls within a certain age range, someone who looks a certain way, is from the same part of the world, or someone who shares the same interests. In this way, we might fall in love with a love story even before we meet. Then, when we meet a real person, we tend to qualify or disqualify them based on whether they can take us down the path of our perfect story. In doing so, we often disqualify people who we might otherwise have fallen madly in love with. Worse yet, we undermine the potential of our relationships because we overlook the infinite possibilities available to us that we haven't previously imagined.

Even if we are lucky enough to find Mr. or Ms. right, even after we have had the perfect wedding and have been fortunate enough to setting into the perfect house, this is when we fall even more madly in love with the story. Now we are collecting pictures and shared memories of perfect vacations and life milestones. Now we have established rituals and routines that slowly become as familiar as the back of our hands. We have rules and expectations of each other, shared friends, and the expectations of our extended families. We have the house, the car, and the image of the happy, photogenic family to uphold. Indeed, we might fall so deeply in love with all of this that we tend to overlook the real person laying next to us in bed every night.

Love Story

But what happens when the person in bed next to you has thoughts and feelings that do not fit with the story you love? What if you have fallen so deeply in love with your story that you have forgottent to love the real person, with real feelings, messy thoughts, unreasonable dreams, and even crazy impulses that you fear might threaten everything? What if you find yourself growing apart in some ways? What if you discover that you are fundamentally different in important ways? Do you love each other more than the story, or do you block each other out to maintain the story? What if your partner doesn't behave in the way that your friends understand and approve of? What if he or she lies to your or cheats? Do you truly try to understand each other, accept the truth of what is, or do you force each other to get back in line so that you might desperately maintain the story you both love? If you love the person, why can't you just accept anything and everything about the person? This doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to feel how you do when your partner does something that hurts you, just that there are ways to express those feelings without hurting each other.

To be in love with a person is to achieve the highest form of happiness that can be found in this world. It is to know and accept someone completely, to share everything openly, to explore and grow together in complete openness and honesty. It is to be in a space where there is no friction, no power struggles, no agendas, no lies, no arguments, and no manipulation. And why do these terrible things happen in a relationship? They happen only because we love a story more than we love a person.

When a couple loves their story more than they love each other, they are willing to sacrifice each other's feelings for the purpose of the story. They don't want to hear about anything that falls outside of the boundaries of the story. They don't want to allow anything that is perceived to threaten the story. They control each other for the purpose of maintaining the story. They fight each other to coerce behaviors that support the story. They argue and debate so that they may convince each other to love the same version of the same story. They leave each other lonely, alienated, and choking in a life that leaves no room to grow, to evolve, and to experience anything that excites them. We tell each other that there are parts of us that are not acceptable. We forbid each other from exploring those parts. We take away each other's freedom to exist in this life for the simple reason that it may threaten a fucking story. So naturally, we begin to resent each other. We keep things from each other. We lie, we deceive. We cheat. Or maybe we just eat or drink ourselves to a slow death.

This is what will happen to you if you are with a person who loves your story more than he or she loves you.

To love a person is bliss. To love a story leaves us lonely and cold. To love a person is to accept and embrace every single thing about that person, unconditionally. It is to give each other so much understanding and acceptance as to feel more free, more yourself together than apart. Nothing is more wonderful in this world than for two people who find a way to give each other the freedom to be who they truly are. Remarkably, when two people love in this way, then the most perfect love story will inevitably flow from that love. It is possible to have your perfect love story, but you have to stop trying to control what that story is going to be. Just let go and try to love a person first. The story will follow and it may be even better than you imagined.  Most of us have this backwards and this is why we are miserable in our relationships. 

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

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).

Century of fakers

Everybody's trying to make us another century of fakers (or so goes the old song by Belle and Sebastian). We live in a world where everything fake is put on display and everything real is kept hidden. Most of us spend these short lives trying our best not to rock the boat. We shamefully hide what we really think, who we truly are, what we really like, what we actually do, and who we truly love. A few of us, either through some amount of bravery or more likely circumstance, find one day that our truths are exposed to the world. When this happens, the fakers around us are repelled into their comfort zones of self-preservation and we are left completely alone.

Do we have to be fakers to be loved and accepted? Do we have to keep our truest selves, our most real feelings, and our sacred relationships hidden from the world in fear? Must the goodness and purity that exists in secrecy always be destroyed in openness? Are the words and ideas shared in our private worlds real, or is realness only to be measured in action?

It's another century of fakers in a world where beauty, love, truth and freedom only seem to flourish when hidden in deception. When tested by reality, it almost always evaporates. How ironic and unacceptable. How sad and unfulfilling. Yet how true.

After a lifetime of faking, I am now living an honest life. The first step for anyone on this journey is self-love. Without it, there is no path forward because the path is lonely. I will continue to believe in love, starting with self-love. I hope to one day find myself on this journey with someone who is on the same path of openness and truth. Until then, I will remain grateful for all of the natural giving I have received and I will continue to love and give freely.  

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

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

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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?

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