Posts categorized "Philosophy"

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.  

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).

To live differently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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).

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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Posted by Mark Manney (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. 

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

What is the purpose of your intuition?

To tap into your intuition is to find that perfect balance between thinking and feeling, and then to allow it to carry you.

To allow your intuition to carry you is to stop doing, saying, and thinking what you do not believe and do not feel.

To stop doing, saying, and thinking what you do not believe and do not feel is to make room for nature to guide you.

To make room for nature to guide you is to become all that nature has intended for you.

So, the purpose of your intuition is to allow you to become all that nature has intended for you.

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

Am I a manic depressive, bi-polar freak?

These past few weeks spent traveling and on the beach have given me time to think (probably too much time to think).  I've made some very difficult, painful discoveries about myself and I think that what I have to say might be interesting to others like me.

Some days I find myself in an absolutely exuberant state of inspiration and brilliance.  On those days, everything works -- relationships, creativity, work, and everything else I engage in.  I am full of energy and, when I let that energy shine into the world, life is beautiful.  I hold onto this version of me as my self-identity.  This is the identity that I attempt to project to the world.  But it isn't the full truth about who I am.

The problem is that I am never able to sustain the inspired state of being beyond a few days.  After some time, I find myself burning-out or maybe just becoming too influenced by the depressing state of things in my life or in the world.  I start worrying about money.  I start to feel the burden of my inability to achieve everything I set out to achieve.  I withdraw from relationships, keeping everything inside.  On my worst days, I go through life with a negative attitude and offer those who love me very little emotionally.  I get depressed.

This is my normal cycle.  The only question is how extreme these extremes can become.  Maybe there's something wrong with me, or maybe this is how any creative, experiential person goes through life.  That is what I'm trying to figure out.  Is this simply normal and inevitable for a person like me?  If so, why do we pretend otherwise?

Is it possible for anyone to maintain an inspired, bliss-filled, exuberant state indefinitely?  I don't think so.  If you allow yourself to enter into a state of feeling fully-alive, it is absolutely inevitable that at some point you will come-down.  That feeling of coming-down, when compared with the feeling of being fully-alive, will always feel like depression.

People like me accept the world not as it is; rather, we see it the way we want to see it.  We try to find beauty where we can, we chase moments of bliss where they can be found, and we take risks to achieve our dreams.  To live freely and openly is to inevitably live somewhat recklessly.  We end up facing more judgment, negative consequences, painful failures, and disappointments than most people.  The natural consequence of bringing a flash of inspiration into the world is that "reality" hits back like a cold shower.

The great ideas we chase are often completely rejected or they fail miserably.  The inspired works of art we create are often criticized or, worse yet, ignored.  The relationships in which we invest our energies often fail to meet our needs in return.  On top of that, we all face financial / economic realities, we get older, people around us pass away...life happens.  And, when life does happen, we feel it more severely than most because oftentimes we are coming-down from a state of being that is really fucking great.  We know how great life can be because we touch it, feel it, experience it all the time.  But nothing lasts forever.  It goes in cycles.

My conclusion: all of this is natural and completely unavoidable.  Nobody who attempts to be or do anything extraordinary can experience life any other way.  To avoid these ups and downs is to live in a way that isn't worth living at all.  

Still, there are things we can do to make it better.  I find that, when I am taking care of my health (eating well on the slow-carb diet, exercising, not drinking too much, and getting enough sleep), then my low-points are not as low.  Also, my wife and daughter bring a great deal of stability and contentedness into my life and keep me sane.  My highs and lows simply aren't as extreme because they are put into the context of this amazing, loving relationship and the responsibilities that come with it.  Finally, I find that it is really important to be a generalist; to pursue many different passions and interests at once.  You can't invest all of your hope, dreams, and expectations into one thing or you could crash in a really big way.

In the end, I don't regret how I live or how I am.  I think back on the overwhelming number of experiences I've had and wouldn't change anything.  My somewhat ridiculously high hopes for the future get me out of bed each day.  That said; I also know that it isn't easy to love me, to live with me, or to understand me.  I don't mean to hurt or disappoint anyone.  This is just how I am and, like all of us, I'm doing the best I can.

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