Posts categorized "Love"

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.

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:

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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?

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).

Radical love

"At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love."

- Che Guevara

Che

Romantic love makes each breath lighter, each smile more infectious, and each of life's burdens more effortless to carry. True love brings with it an honest faith in the possibility of never-ending happiness. It offers the refreshment of a deep well of bliss that renews us daily like the coolest water on a hottest day. Love provides the excitement of a new life filled with infinite possibilities and freedoms.   

The way we love is the way we live. Most of us have known love, but it seems we don't know how to love. We expect our lovers to prove their love as though it needs any proof at all. We so naively try to possess each other as though it were possible to put our feelings in a box. To possess is to murder love with rules, conditions, compromises, duties, and sacrifices. Remember those feelings which made love worthwhile to begin with? Those feelings are the opposite of what it feels like to be possessed. There is a better way.

To be radical is to fundamentally question even the most widely-held beliefs. To love radically is to figure out how love works for you, how love works in your relationships, and to live according to your own conclusions regardless of what anybody else does.

For me, a life without deep feelings of love is no life at all. So, in my world, there is no reason to limit or control love. I wouldn't ask anyone to apologize for having loved. I will not ask anyone to prove love through sacrifice because the noblest actions flow naturally and effortless from love, itself. I will never try to cage love because, in my experience, it does not tend to fly away if you don't drive it away.

To live a life of love, I think it is necessary to be brave enough and strong enough to hold love above any occasional feelings of insecurity, fear, and jealousy. These feelings can be discussed, dealt with, and put aside. We can let these petty emotions be fleeting so that love, itself, is not!

 

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

When nothing is forbidden

After much contemplation, a man comes to his wife to ask her about something he badly wants.

Man: "Honey, can I ask you about something?"

Wife: "Sure, what is it dear?"

Man: "Well, would it be OK with you if I...."

Wife: "Absolutely not, I forbid you! I'm so insulted that you would even want to do this. How can you even ask me if this is OK? Respect me!"

Man: "Sorry, you're right. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

Life goes on, but that thing he so badly wanted did not magically disappear because it has been forbidden. The man knows who he is and knows what he wants. His feelings cannot be changed. So, after some time, the man comes back to his wife and tries this conversation again.

Man: "Honey, I know how you feel about this, but I have decided that I don't care what you think...I want you to know that it means a lot to me and I'm gonna do this anyway!"

Wife: "What? You inconsiderate, selfish bastard. Now you're not even asking me how I feel? You don't care about my feelings at all! You completely take me for granted!"

Man: "Sorry, you're right. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Forget about what I said. I'll try to be more sensitive."

After a few days of arguments, life goes on again. Still, that thing he so badly wanted only intensifies. He loves his wife dearly and wants her to be happy, so he decides to hide it from his wife. He creates never-ending web of lies to cover everything up.

Deception causes a great deal of distance between the couple. For some time, our couple goes on with the routines of life, but they have stopped sharing their feelings, stopped communicating, and have stopped feeling as close to each other has they once had. This goes on until, one day, the wife discovers the deception. Her reaction is something like this:

Wife: "Not only are you a selfish, inconsiderate bastard who does whatever you want, you are also a liar. How can you lie to the person in the world who is closest to you? I told you that what you did is clearly not OK with me, and yet you completely disrespected me. I don't think you even love me anymore. Maybe we should get a divorce."

How might have this story gone differently if the initial conversation would have gone as follows?

Man: "Honey, can I ask you about something?"

Wife: "Sure, what is it dear?"

Man: "Well, would it be OK with you if I...."

Wife: "Wow, OK. That's a bit of a shock to me. To be honest, you should know that it bothers me. We should talk about it so that I better understand it. I respect you and I will never forbid you from anything at all. Our relationship is based on honesty, trust, sensitivity and open communication. I know you love me and I will try to understand this from your perspective. If this is something you really want, let's figure out a way."

Man: "Wow, I feel so close to you and love you so much. It is incredible how we can talk about anything. It means so much to me that you respect who I am, that you respect my needs. You know that I will always be honest with you, I will always respect your feelings in everything I do, and this goes both ways. I will never forbid you from anything either."

Nobody has the right to forbid another person from anything. Only by forbidding nothing can you expect the honesty and sensitivity you deserve. If you love someone, respect their own needs and decisions.

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

The 10 rules of a perfect relationship

Life may be short, but it is too long to commit to somebody who isn't perfect for you. If you are with somebody, then obviously you are attracted to each other and you enjoy each other's company. But you're probably also asking yourself whether your current partner is "the one". How can you know for sure?

No relationship is perfect, but none of us should settle for something that doesn't come at least close. So what would a perfect relationship look like? Here are my 10 rules of the perfect relationship:  

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1) Get crazy with sex.

As many people who exist on this planet, that's how many variations there are to sexual desires and tastes. There is no normal. So, if you love and accept someone fully (see rule 5), then nothing is out-of-bounds. When two people get together, the sex life they create is something that is completely unique to these two genetic mutations clashing together in their primal, irrational passions. If you aren't compatible sexually, get ready for a lot of pain and misery. Unfulfilled sexual desires lead to cheating (at worst) or feelings of resentment and withdrawal from the relationship (at best).

Sex is a really big deal for most of us. While it is impossible to meet someone with exactly the same sexual desires and tastes, you do need to be with a person who gets you, accepts you, and embraces your sexuality (and vice versa). Let each other play and explore. As Dan Savage says, be GGG (good in bed, game for anything, and giving). With this foundation, you might figure it out. Without this foundation, you'll feel stuck and frustrated. Create a space where both of you can be totally honest about sex (yes, even the craziest, most absurd thoughts and ideas). Go for it...together. If you can give your partner everything, you'll never lose that person. So why draw lines in the sand when it is so much more fun to play in the sand? 

2) Grow together.

This is the measure of any relationship (not just sexual or romantic). If a relationship doesn't encourage individual growth, then it runs against nature and it is harmful. The point of our lives is to become the best we can be as individuals. If you aren't growing, you're stuck. When you're stuck, you're wasting your life. Go forward together. Get rid of any friction that is only caused by selfishness, controlling behavior, or jealousy.

3) Make each other happy.

If you apply the other 9 rules, this one happens automatically. This is a rule only because it should be a litmus test. Are you happy?

4) Be nice to each other all the time.

No swearing. No yelling. No accusations. No bossing each other around. No scolding. No ridicule about anything. Treat your partner like you did on the first date (or first chat?)...you know, back when you were trying to seduce each other.

5) Offer each other unconditional love and acceptance.

There is no need to negotiate anything if you offer each other everything. Anything less than unconditional love and acceptance is something less than love. If you don't love every single thing about the person, then why exactly do you claim to love the person? Can you love half of a person, or does love require the love of a whole person? Do you love only your imaginary idea of the person, or the real person? Love is unconditional. 

6) Make it safe to communicate about anything and everything without consequence.

If it is expressed, then obviously your partner feels that it was important enough to say. If you get angry and cannot accept what your partner is telling you, then you are rejecting your partner. How can you ask each other to spend each day together for the rest of your lives if you are willing to fundamentally reject each other? Conversation has to be safe. Action requires consent, but any thought that can possibly be expressed by the person you love is a thought that you need to accept and even embrace.

7) Don't cheat and deceive. you only cheat yourself.

The most direct path toward getting what you want, even when your partner forbids it (which should basically never happen) is to cheat. I don't need to explain how cheating destroys everything. The biggest problem with deception is your own feeling of isolation. You will experience that thing you want, and then you will suffer excruciating loneliness.

If you get caught deceiving, you will break everything. Without basic trust, what do you have? Even if you manage to get away with a deception, you will isolate yourself because you can't talk about what you are going through with the closest person in the world to you. So if you feel strongly enough about something that you are considering deception or cheating, then you need to take a risk and talk with your partner. If this ends the relationship, then it is for the best.  

8) Become business partners and partners-in-crime.

If you have created an emotional foundation with the previous 7 rules, now you need to think of each other not just as friends and lovers, but as business partners. Sharing a life together is a business relationship on top of everything else. So deal with financial realities together. Grow your bank account and wealth as you grow your love.

9) Set each other free.

Time spent with your partner should be the experience of freedom. While the rest of the world may not understand you, others may ask of you what you're not prepared to give, they may punish you for being who you are, and may tell you that you are unreasonable...your partner is that one place you go to be free. Don't set rules because you "can't deal" with something. If you "can't deal", then you can't be in a relationship. So communicate. Learn to accept. Take pleasure in your partner's happiness. If you allow your partner to be free, you are allowing your partner the chance to be everything he or she was meant to be and was meant to experience. Watching your partner experience freedom is the same thing as watching your love and attraction grow.

10) Take on the world together.

Anyone who is against either of you is against both of you. Fuck 'em. Take each other's side no matter what.

If there are any rules that you think I left out, please post a comment!

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

Can love set you free?

To be alone is to be free. Does falling in love mean losing that freedom, or can love set you free?

Why, when a relationship is based on love, should it require any rules or conditions at all? Why must lovers, life partners, spouses attempt to control each other? Is love, itself, not the controlling force and the glue that holds two otherwise free and independent people together? Does something else really need to be negotiated beyond that?  

It is possible for love to come with no rules or conditions.  Love is two people accepting each other to the extent that they are one. To become one is to trust that anything the other person does, says, thinks, or wants cannot possibly be meant to betray that love. To question this is to question your love, itself.  Without the burden of rules or conditions, betrayal and disappointment is impossible. Everything has already been accepted and forgiven, unconditionally, through love. This unconditional love is the only form of true love. Anything less fails to live up to love's potential.

Nobody has any right to create rules for anybody else. The moment something is forbidden and threats are made, then honesty and openness cease to exist about that topic. By the very act of attempting to control another person, you eliminate the possibility of open communication and you will always have the question in your mind about what is really going on.  You are no longer connected to the person, no longer one, in that space and about that topic. This is why rules, conditions, and controlling behavior destroys love.
 
The worth of a relationship can only be judged by what you have between you and the other person. What do you feel? What do you share? Are you happy? Do you feel crazy in love? Do you trust that he or she wants what is best for you? Are you on the same side? Those are the only questions that matter. When those things are right, nothing can threaten the relationship. If those things are broken, no rule or condition can be imposed to fix it.
 
This, what I'm describing, is not how people actually do love in today's world. Far from it, the vast majority behaves as though love is something that can be argued, negotiated, possessed, and controlled. What starts as something pure, beautiful, and freeing in the first stages of a relationship ends up becoming a series of ugly fights that flow from the deep, growing resentment. Resentment is the direct result of being controlled and restricted. But, as soon as a relationship becomes "serious", most people start changing it from something free and beautiful into something that makes us feel alone and trapped. We do it by trying to control each other.
 
Love should be a place that feels infinitely better than being alone in our freedom. Love is being even more free together with someone than you are free alone. Love is adding possibilities, not removing them. Love cannot be threatened by anything external because nothing is stronger. So there's nothing to worry about and nothing, at all, that needs to be controlled, restricted, or limited.
Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).