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Most people choose courage the hard way. Consequently, they choose courage much less often than would otherwise.

Choosing courage occurs as hard because you try to take the courageous action while you're still resisting your fear. I call this the stiff-upper-lip approach to choosing courage.

Resisting fear is automatic, it's a deep-seated addiction that almost all of us have.

When you resist your fear, your fear resists you. You're battling with yourself. As a result, you feel less energy and less confidence. No wonder choosing courage is difficult if you try it while you're still resisting your fear.

That's why I always include an un-resisting fear process as the first step of choosing courage. It's simple and fun and silly:

1) Take several deep breaths and keep it going throughout the whole process.
2) Speak the words, "Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I am so scared that...," adding an ending that expresses what you're currently frightened of, as in "...they will reject me!"
3) Shout this sentence out at least four times (eleven is best), speaking slowly, loudly, and with a silly, wacky voice."

Now notice how your fear either got less or disappeared entirely and how you feel more confident. It's time now to take the action, if any is still needed. This is choosing courage the easy way.

A starting strategy for creating my-now/my-next integrity:

Your my-now is the you that just wants to be comfortable and enjoy now.

Your my-next is the you that wants the future to be good, wants to be happy in the future.

The most fundamental issue for each one of us is how to get these two parts of ourselves on the same page, working together rather than fighting each other. When they work together, you have my-now/my-next integrity.

Here's one strategy that creates a clear starting point for your my-now and your my-next to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement in a given situation:

Often your my-now will not clearly say/know what it wants because it's already hedging its bets on whether or not your my-next would be able to agree. 

Similarly, your my-next will hedge its bets because that part of you “already knows” what your my-now could or could not accept. 

A lot more power and clarity can be gained by the following exercise. 

Your my-now imagines that, somehow, your my-next could be okay with whatever your my-now might want. Inside of this supposition, in the current circumstances, what would your my-now want (for example, pig out in front of the TV)? Get clear about that. Make some notes. 

Then reverse the roles. Your my-next imagines that, somehow, your my-now could support whatever your my-next might want (for example, do a vigorous 20-minute workout on your treadmill). Get clear about that and make some notes. 

This provides an honest and open powerful starting point for your my-now and my-next to come to a more powerful and satisfactory arrangement than when either or both of them are pulling their punches by not saying clearly what each of them really wants.

How we blind ourselves to the costs and then end up feeling that life is hard and unfair:

Every choice has costs and benefits, risks and possibilities, short-term, and long-term, for ourselves and for others.

When making life choices, we often don't stop to consider any or all of these, even for the big choices.

This is most true when we have already decided that something is either good or bad, either right or wrong.

Many think that marriage and having children is good. So we don't examine carefully the costs and risks of marrying and having kids, especially for the long-term.

We think divorce is bad. We don't consider all the benefits and possibilities of getting a divorce.

We think persistence is good. Again, we don't look at the costs and risks of persistence in a given situation.

Believing that quitting (giving up) is bad, we blind ourselves to the benefits and possibilities of giving up in a given circumstance. 

We think that altruism is good. So we don't look clearly at all the costs and risks it can incur. 

We believe that selfishness is bad, so we don't look for all the benefits and possibilities, both for ourselves and for others, that being more selfish could bring. 

To create a better life, a life of ease and joy, with more integrated results, both for yourself and for others, let go of the ideas of good and bad, right and wrong. 

Upgrade them to the ideas of costs and benefits, risks and possibilities, short-term and long-term, both for yourself and for those you care about.

A well-created God can provide a lot of benefits:

She can be your quintessential empathic listener whenever you want to express yourself with complete freedom.

You can know that She always loves and respects you. She never criticizes you no matter what you do or don't do.

If you listen carefully, She may suggest some new perspectives or ideas to try out.

Whenever needed, She encourages you to look for the gifts in whatever happens or has happened in your life.

In contrast, a poorly-created God will be a mixed blessing, at best.

She will blame you if you make any mistakes, if you fail at something, or if you don't do what you said you would do.

She will give you many absolute rules and beliefs to live by that may conflict with your human desires and need, as well as with your sensory-based knowledge.

She will blame you (and even threaten you with hell or some such) if you don't follow these rules and abide by these beliefs.

She will tell you to sacrifice your wants and needs either to Her or to others. She'll blame you if you don't.

Be careful how you create your God.

Do you indulge in subtle paranoia?

Of course, you don't. Or, at least, you think you don't.

A person who is paranoid "knows" their fears are well-grounded. If they see others not be so carefully, they think of them as foolish or not informed.

One expression of subtle paranoia that I notice many foreigners have is their uncomfortableness in communicating (or not communicating) because they don't know the language or are not sure how things are done here.

I've visited hundreds of foreign cities (in over 24 countries) without having a clue at the beginning (or even a single word of the local language). Yes, I've had some adventures, but never any real problems. When I've reached out to the locals, finding someone who could speak a little English, I have always been blessed with their generosity.

I've lived easily in China now for over 18 years knowing just 30 words of Mandarin, with no problems.

How much unnecessary energy do you spend (and lost opportunities that you never consider) because you're being too careful? Live a little (or a lot).

How the poor are as rich as the rich…

Twenty-four hours. Only and just 525,600 minutes per year. Everyone has the same amount of time (as long as you're alive). And, even when you're dead, it's the same amount for everyone too: zero. LOL...

The reason we tend to think that the poor are poorer than the rich is that we measure value by what we can have in our future or we can get done for our future. We can reasonably imagine this because we think our being rich will make us happy in the future, happiness being the ultimate value of anything and everything.

Yes, the value of likely happiness in our future has some importance. But, by far the most valuable measure of our life is our ability to be happy now, our ability to enjoy now and to enjoy whatever processes we've decided to engage with now.

From this measure, the poor person who is enjoying now is richer than the rich person who is not, even if that rich person is anticipating being happy in the future.

In fact, the rich have often created habits where they are tolerating now in order to be rich(er) in the future. Consequently, even when they are rich(er), they're still unhappy because they never learned to be happy now, regardless of whether or not they are rich.

Learn how to create happiness now. When doing this, the future will tend to take care of itself.

A 2.5-hour dental adventure…

It took longer than I anticipated. I could have been upset.

Yet I found that I was able to spend my time in the dental chair feeling adventurous and curious.

I set up a game with the dentist to use my fingers to indicate the level of pain: 1 (for the least), 5 (for "stop!"). I never got above a 2.

I tried to guess exactly what they were doing. One assistant could speak a little English, but I found it more fun to guess than to try to figure out her explanations.

I looked at all the different dental tools and tried to guess their function. I searched to find things in the room that I had not noticed before.

I listened to the sounds and tried to distinguish their meanings and origins.

I noticed the sensations in different parts of my body that I don't normally pay attention to.

I thought about some different nuances of the my-now/my-next dynamic.

All in all, a very memorable 2.5 hours.

The Chinese have a proverb, "Distance creates beauty."

Do you maintain the best distances from the different people in your life? From your spouse, from your girlfriend or boyfriend, from your colleagues, from your boss, from your other friends, from your children, from your parents?

The right distance helps support the best relationships. Too little distance (both physical and otherwise) can create problems. Too much distance can also be problematic.

I have a good friend with whom I visit every two weeks. If we visited much more often than that, it would get boring. If we visited much less often, we would miss out on the excitement of keeping up with what each of us is doing and discovering.

I like to live alone. I enjoy others to visit (at pre-selected times and durations). Keeping the various physical distances from all the different people in my life creates the best relationship with each one of them. Admittedly, I do live with my cat Princess. She and I maintain good boundaries. We get time together (just enough for me). And I always close my bedroom door at night so she doesn't wake me up in the middle of the night when she decides to play.

Choose courage to create and maintain good boundaries and distances with others.

"Pay It Forward," explores an interesting concept of how each of us can impact others in ways that we might never anticipate. Starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment (as a middle school student), the movie starts out to develop this promising idea that could be fun for all of us to play with (how far and deep might we influence the world) . But, in the end, the young boy, having absorbed the hackneyed morality of our society that "doing the right thing" is hard and self-sacrifice is honorable, ends up dying by following these self-immolating ideas.

As such, the movie falls flat on its face by trying to promote an interesting and valuable idea (how each of us can make a difference for others more than we might imagine), by giving us the message that you'd be a fool do try to do so (when the movie kills off the hero).

Most of us still navigate our life with a jumpy compass and a homemade sextant. Consequently, we're running our life ship aground and into dangerous waters quite often.

These obsolete navigation tools most often tell us to both:

1) Sacrifice now for the future and...
2) Sacrifice yourself for others.

Let's move into the new world of life navigation using GPS:

1) Find ways to be happy now and also create a good future; put enjoying the process first and results second and...
2) Find ways for your selfishness and the selfishness of others to compliment each other; remember that your #1 life job is to take care of yourself (short-term and long-term).

Upgrade to life navigation system to GPS!

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