So, you sit there complaining that nothing good ever happens in your life.
Well, I don’t think it ever will. See, if you want your dreams to come to life you actually have to fight towards it. Just sitting around, complaining about it won’t get you anywhere; except perhaps on your couch, cursing your bad luck and the stars that won’t align to finally give you what you want.
So, do dreams come true in real life?
It’s a rather misunderstood and misinterpreted context that of “dreams come true”; they do, but only if you fight for that. I mean even Cinderella had to go to the ball; otherwise the Prince would have never seen her, right? And really, have you seen a businessman resting, ever? They are constantly on a phone, or in meetings or conferencing while vacationing.
Dreams come at a cost and the question is how willing you are to pay for them.
They require organisation and stability and stubbornness; you won’t just get out of bed one morning and everything will be in place and ready waiting for you – unless you have a ridiculously rich ancestor you didn’t know about and who suddenly died living you as the sole inheritor of his assets.
If you want to see your dreams come true you should be ready to fall again and again, though. It’s going to be a tough and rocky road, that’s why only a few manage to realize their deepest desires. If you really, truly, badly want it you will keep fighting no matter what; if not, you will give up once the difficulties start piling up and it all seems too hard for you to handle.
We never stop to think that nothing comes for free in this life; not even the air you breathe – you brain has to send signals for every organ in your body to properly function. It is a constant try towards what’s good for you. If you give up on it, it will give up on you. If you are no longer willing to fight for it, why should it stay and realize itself for you.
Think of it as a balanced, romantic relationship where one partner give everything to see their other half happy and smiley, but they get nothing in return. How long would they last before feelings of frustration and irritation begin to emerge? That is exactly how dreams work. As long as you try, they will seem and be possible for you to achieve. Once you give up, they will seem like a far away, untouchable thing.
Scary as it might be, working towards your goals and dreams gives you an utter fulfilment once you see them coming to life. You will know that you made it, mainly by yourself. Just stop for a minute and picture yourself, however, you dream of being, think of how much you want it. Now, just imagine how it would feel if this became your reality.
Anything we want as hell, we can do. We just need to fight. If you choose the easy way out and decide to keep it as it is, a dream, then you will never know what it would have happened and you won’t be entitled to say how much you wanted this.
If, on the other hand, you decide to go over and above and fight for it as you would have fought for your life if needed, then you will be able to say you did your best; and by doing your best you will keep getting better and better because you will be pushing your limits.
The best you of right now is not the same as the best you of 10 years from now. We keep evolving, even if we don’t aim for it. It’s the natural flow of things. So, just think of how much better that best you could be if you actually put some effort into it.
Stop calling them dreams; call them goals instead and start working towards that direction. Then sit back and enjoy that dreamy reality you will be living in.
Although it can be a hard pill to swallow, sometimes we need not look any further than our own selves to discover why life isn’t working for us. Want to make things better? The first step is to stop looking at people or circumstances to change, and change yourself. Here’s why.
Sometimes we need some candour to get us through the rough spots in our lives. While compliments and the softer advice of friends to keep our chins up when things get troublesome can serve a purpose – these spoons full of sugar should have some real medicine in them.
All the stuff that’s going well in your life – you get to take credit for it.
That’s right – if you’ve experienced any success, any joy, and even the slightest amount of happiness, it’s all on your shoulders. (Aside from the touch of Grace that helped you get out of your own way to achieve those things.) The flip side of that is while we get to take credit for our successes, we also need to get real and take responsibility for our failures, too.
Truth be told – if you’re going to grow, your going to fuck up. And bad.
It’s Not About Fucking Blame
It isn’t about taking the “blame.” Blame is for the ego. But it is about taking our power back when we assume responsibility for all the circumstances and relationships in our lives.
When we look honestly at what we are doing that is working, and what isn’t, solutions to our problems start to appear. This results from stepping out of denial. Success begins when we forget about what other people are doing, and simply decide how we want to live our lives.
Lighten Up About Your Dark Side
As Lauren Handler Zander, a trainer that teaches her earth-shaking life-tips at places like MIT (and 35 other universities) will tell you, we can all stand to lighten up about our dark sides. This gives us permission to stop lying about ourselves, and to ourselves.
Zander states, “If you’re running late, don’t blame fake traffic!!!” While this specific lie is funny, it becomes a bad joke when we think of all the ways we do lie – which prohibit forward movement.
Hate your job? Stop pretending you love it, and you might come up with a novel solution to transition into the job of your dreams.
Is your relationship a total wreck? Stop pretending that it isn’t, and you can come up with a way to love yourself more, and attract a more appropriate mate.
Put Down the Cookies
By getting real about our weaknesses, we can start to tackle our smaller personal fouls, and “shittier habits” without feeling guilt or shame about them, while finding a sense of humour. Zander calls this “putting down the cookies.” These cookies are just a metaphor for our vices – those things we tell yourself we won’t do, but then do again and again.
Check Your Mind habits
“The amount we edit and manage our bodies — getting dressed, waxing our legs, dying our hair — is massive compared to how much we manage what’s going on in our own heads,” Zander says. “You have no idea how mean people are to themselves.” She says, like many wise folks among us, that self-talk can make or break you.
Have you broken a promise to yourself to love everything about YOU before 8AM? Own that. And then do what you must to change it. When you get out of bed, listen to positive affirmations. Write down positive things in your journal, or keep a list of things to be grateful for – these are all courageous acts of getting real and changing what is going on in your mind more consistently, so that it reflects out into the world as a different experience.
Dysfunctional self-talk keeps us from realizing our dreams. For some of us it’s like a 24-hour Olympic sports commentary on all our faults. While it's good to take ownership of our real faults, most limiting self-talk is ego-based, which means it’s a big fat lie. It’s destructive and totally non-useful.
A one study on self-talk found that the more you talk down to yourself or see the world as one big calamity, the less likely your mind is to roam free and come up with amazing solutions to your current problems. Negative self-talk is like being pinned down in a MMA ring. You can’t move and explore to come up with new ways of thinking and being.
If life is sucking right now – maybe it’s you – but don’t take that as an insult.
This also means that you have the power to make things better. So good in fact, that you get to take credit for the miraculous things that appear when you take 100% responsibility for change.
Excuses are like assholes, everybody has one. But there’s nothing saying you can’t take the necessary steps toward overcoming them.
Excuses are little bastard killjoys that will suck the joy out of your life if you let them. They are psychological hang-ups, tantamount to mental tripwires or psychosomatic speed-bumps. If you allow enough of them to pile up they can turn into a near insurmountable wall that will prevent your comfort zone from stretching into healthier horizons. Such walls are stifling. Deadly even. Deadly to creativity. Deadly to vitality. Deadly to living a life well-lived.
Lest you fall victim to living a life half-lived, it’s paramount that you kill your excuses before they kill your joy. Pick-off those little fuckers with the slingshot of your courage. Line them up. Take aim. Get out of your own way. Risk defeat.
Sometimes overcoming excuses is as simple as gritting your teeth and taking a leap of courage into the unknown. Sometimes it’s more complicated than that. But when it really comes down to it, it’s either overcome your excuses or become overwhelmed by them. Here are a couple ways to kill your excuses before they kill you.
Riskaphobia and the art of self-overcoming
“I prefer a short life with width to a narrow life with length.”
Fighting for the better at risk of the worst is far superior to shirking the better in fear of the worst. Similarly, worst-case scenarios should not be avoided at the expense of healthy progress; healthy progress should be embraced at the risk of worst-case scenarios.
This matters just as much for striving toward enlightenment and utopia as it does for striving toward healthy evolution. The journey is the thing, but the journey must not be risk-averse. Otherwise, the journey becomes stagnation, a stifling comfort zone, a stubborn torpor, and an unproductive inertia.
Otherwise, we don’t get anywhere but where we are: stuck, fixed, and caught up in the daily grind, inflexible. Which is okay if “where we are” is perfect. But since perfection is not possible, we should always be willing to risk upsetting the all-too-precious apple cart of the status quo in order to progressively evolve into a healthier species.
Here’s the thing: Life is risky. A life well lived is riskier still. And a creative life is riskiest of all. But the only reason we’ve made it this far as a species is because a tiny minority of our ancestors were prominent risk-takers. They dared to push the edges of their secure culture despite the insecure status quo.
They embraced adventure despite the adventure-less majority. They overcame their fear despite the fearful mainstream.
How did they do it? They overcame themselves: their fears, their doubts. They overcame both decidaphobia and riskaphobia. They strategically decided to act courageously despite the potential risk.
Had they not creatively adapted to new environments and overcome the vicissitudes of life, our species would have died off long ago. Creativity, adaptability, and self-overcoming all require risk. So we might as well become better risk takers.
We should do this despite the decidaphobia and riskaphobia of the masses. Otherwise, their reticence, their on-the-fence vacillation, their cowardice, will stagnate us all and prevent our species from progressively evolving in a healthier way.
As Alan Watts said, “What one needs in this universe is not certainty but the courage and nerve of the gambler; not fixed conviction but adaptability; not firm ground whereupon to stand but skill in swimming.”
Antifragility and the art of becoming better gamblers
“Success is failure turned inside out.”
Developing the nerve of a gambler is the key to killing the excuses that plague you. Beyond flexibility, beyond robustness, there is concept of Antifragility. Where fragility loses from disorder, and robustness breaks even, antifragility gains. Being antifragile is being a thing that benefits from disorder. A good mythological example is the Hydra. When you cut off one head, two more take its place.
Before rebirth (caterpillar), we are ignorant, co-dependent, and fragile. After rebirth (Phoenix), we are knowledgeable, independent, and robust. After well-practiced multiple rebirths (Hydra), we become wise, interdependent, and antifragile.
The key to adaptability, indeed the key to becoming better gamblers, is to transform our independent inner-Phoenix that is resilient to disorder into an interdependent inner-hydra that gains from disorder.
Because here’s the thing: we will fail. We will fail again and again. We will make excuses. We are fallible and imperfect, after all. We are prone to make mistakes, sometimes even despite our best efforts. So, the question becomes: what can we do about it? Some great advice on the subject: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Seen through the lens of antifragility, mistakes are more like steppingstones, pivot points, and serendipitous improvisation than setbacks or hang-ups. Failure just becomes new information along the path, and it can even be an improvement in the process when it inadvertently diverts us from the typical and leads us into the atypical or even the mystical.
An artist, adventurer, or gambler can easily look back on his/her life’s work and see how mistakes and failure played a critical role in providing steppingstones that helped them climb out of creative ruts, daily grinds, and existential depressions. Whereas excuses were almost always fragile handicaps.
As artists, as gamblers, we need only be courageous and daring enough to fail, and fail quickly, with our next step, and then be double-dog daring enough to fail better with the one after that. It’s all a process. It’s all art. It’s all a gambolling gamble. What matters is how courageous we are with the process. The more daring we are to fail and to improve upon our failures, the more likely we are to live a life of fearlessness, and the less likely we are to live a life half-lived wallowing in excuses.
Our ability to capitalize on mistakes with imaginative improvisation (interdependent antifragile hydra) rather than woe-is-me victimization (codependent fragile caterpillar), makes us more adaptable to the life-death-rebirth process of fearlessness and less likely to grow stagnant, stuck in a rut, and obstructed from expanding ourselves into further self-overcoming.
It’s a matter of living life to the fullest, knowing mistakes will happen; rather than merely existing, fearful of making any mistakes. As Bob Dylan once said, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” Indeed. He not busy transforming through antifragile rebirth is busy dying through fragile stagnation.