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Living a Real Life Newsletter, Issue #001 -- 21 Ways to Improve Your Life Right Now
June 23, 2015

Living a Real Life Newsletter: Issue #1 -- 21 Ways to Improve Your Life Right Now

This is a dirty, sleazy, grimy list. Whether these things will work for you and how well depends on your current situation, your present level of awareness most of all. How and where you apply these matters.

That being said, you can consider this as a sort of reference sheet, or personal development toolkit. If you’re unsure of how to approach a problem in your life you can look back here and see which solution appeals to you most at present.

These aren’t necessarily brainless or easy—in fact, more than a few of them are not. Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Well, I’ll leave that one up to you. Just read, brother.

1. Courage. What scares you most right now? Muscle up and go take it on. If you’ve been struggling with something for a while- particularly a skill- try to put your goals aside for a moment. Forget about how fast or far you can go: instead, just go. Aim to complete your task courageously: be beat-up and able rather than unscathed and unable. Being able to do something is better than holding back until you magically reach perfection.

Courage tends to translate to, though is not quite the same thing as, “massive action.” Courage will likely lead you to take action, but courage-based action tends to be more focused (e.g. on a fear) than taking an overwhelming barrage of all possible actions in the hope of getting a result. But, hey—that sounds like fun too!

2. Listen to your feelings. What feeling has been hiding underneath the surface all day, or even all year? Allow yourself to feel it without judging it, and see what it tells you. You may be surprised, so be open-minded as you do this. Unexpected does not mean incorrect.

3. Talk to your future self. What is your ideal future self like? Fearless? Unconditionally-loving? A genius? What feeling do you get when you connect with this person? It will probably be a warm, loving feeling in your heart. You can ask specific questions or just feel what comes through. Whenever you’re uncertain, ask what your ideal future self would do: after all, she (or he!) is you.

4. Talk to your subselves. Consider different aspects of yourself and imagine them as tiny people running around in your head. You can regard them as the citizens of Yourself (yes, similarly to bacteria) or as the board of directors who run the show that is You. You can divide them up by different emotions, desires, or roles. A subself’s role consists in one straightforward label which implies most of his actions. For instance, a subself called “Scared Child” will represent the part of yourself that fears abandonment and rejection and who wants to be loved and protected.

Subselves aren’t pre-encoded, but you don’t totally conjure them up, either. If you ask, “Who’s in there?” and allow your imagination to go about its business something will probably come up pretty quickly.

It is key to notice which subselves dominate and how certain subselves interact with one another. If there is some sort of Guardian which blocks access to the Scared Child you may have some emotional issues you’ve been denying and need to deal with.

If you’re at the point where you can have organized Board Meetings rather than dysfunctional family gatherings you may want to point out 4-6 key subselves who you will “guide” through discussion as you think through different situations. If you are not at this point, your subselves will promptly show you the issues they’re dealing with and the conflicts raging between one another.

P.S. Don’t worry about this being an exercise in schizophrenia or dissociative disorders: if you did #3 you know it’s perfectly healthy to imagine yourself in the future, even though that person doesn’t exist in physical reality. This simply is a way of organizing yourself into different pieces and then analyzing those pieces.

5. Go exercise—outside! Moving around and getting fresh air can help to clear your mind so that you can assess your situation more accurately. Physically challenging yourself also has a way of downsizing most problems and anxieties or even eliminating them entirely (many UFC fighters are unusually… calm!).

I like to go to in the woods of the local town park and find two steep, dirt hills. I slide down one, grabbing on to trees to balance myself, and I usually land in a stream. I get a running start on the next hill if I can, and I then get down on all fours and climb up the hill as hard and fast as I can, grabbing tree roots and rocks along the way. This is a fast, intense, focused exercise: just a few minutes of this can help me to feel awesome. Plus, it’s fun!

6. Go talk to someone in person, and give them a hug! Perhaps you are feeling disconnected. Connecting with other human beings is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have in this lifetime. Spending some quality time around others will help you to remember and refine your values and can give you some pointers as to why you’re on this planet.

7. Revisit, redefine, or create your life purpose. A strong, meaningful, consciously chosen life purpose is one of the best ways to build and maintain motivation, determine your values, and make decisions quickly and with a clear mind. Your purpose does not consist in what you do with your life, but rather, who you want to and think you should be. “Elevating consciousness” is a purpose, as there are many ways of working toward it: “personal development coach” is one of those ways but it is not the purpose itself.

Your purpose is based on your core beliefs about life. If you believe that life is pointless, then it will logically follow that you have no purpose. If you believe that all humans are connected by one metaphysical entity (perhaps such as consciousness) then it will logically follow that your purpose is to contribute positively to humanity. There are no right or wrong answers here—only what you believe. No one can determine your purpose but you.

It will help to write out a life purpose statement, but remember that the words are only a representation of the purpose and not the purpose itself. Still, every word is worth a goldmine here: make sure you know exactly what each word means for you. Get some help from #2 and #8 and make sure that the words feel right to you: a purpose that does not move you emotionally is not your purpose. Generally, thinking about your purpose will help you feel reassured and inspire you to take action, even if that consists of planning for action.

Remember that your purpose can and will be changed over time. Don’t worry about getting it perfect on the first try: this can be hard work if your head has been filled with plenty of silly beliefs about reality. In addition, what you value will become clearer over time. Just start with what seems right for you to pursue now, even if you aren’t totally sure of whether it will remain correct for the rest of your life.

8. Place your attention in your heart. We humans have such a way of being so locked in our heads so much of the time. We’ll think a problem into the ground, we’ll think in circles, we’ll think about every little thing that can go wrong… Thinking is pretty slow, y’know, compared to feeling. Instead of letting your mind rattle off all of its worries, take a deep breath and move your attention from your head to your heart. Imagine that the entity behind your eyesight (that is, your awareness) takes an elevator down into your heart. You can still see in front of you, but you aren’t as attentive to what is happening-- this is fine. Keep breathing slowly. Your thoughts will slow down and then dissipate. You will calm down. You will be filled with a sense of reassurance and feelings of love.

This is a helpful technique to use when talking to your future self, in #3. This is also useful prior to and during meditation, particularly if you are attempting to help part of your body heal. Place your attention in your heart and, from there, connect with the sick or injured part of yourself. Feel love flow throughout your body.

Don’t worry about this being fluff-filled and hokey: you will feel it happening—you don’t have to conjure up too many images in your mind. This is far superior to visualization by itself—even for goal-setting. When you visualize yourself achieving a goal you have, feel in your heart how you will feel in that moment. Experience that moment now, and it will become far easier for you to start moving toward now.

9. Notice your persistent thoughts. This is similar to #2: which thoughts circulate through your head day after day, and even month after month? They may reflect a desire you should consider following or a situation you have been avoiding. Maybe you keep thinking about your ex-girlfriend because you need to apologize to her so you can both move on. Perhaps on the surface you’d like to think you aren’t interested in that new girl, but your persistent, semi-conscious thoughts about her suggest otherwise.

This one can get interesting. Take a peek at the thoughts which hide under the surface and see what they tell you.

10. Drop out of your routines. Putting some of your life on autopilot can be efficient, but people tend to take this too far. They think the same thoughts everyday, they consume the same media, they use the same scripts to talk to the same people over and over… Today, instead of putting on the same face for your friends and family that you always do, try not to force on a face at all. Ditch TV for the day. Don’t even talk. From this empty space you can get clear on how it feels to do things the way you do everyday. You might find that many of the things you’ve taken for granted are wrong for you. No wonder you’ve been feeling so trapped!

11. New input. This is a continuation of #10. After (or instead of) creating some empty space in your life for a while, you can replace that space with new input. You could make this as easy as shopping at different stores from the usual pit-stops or you can try working on an entirely new skill, such as playing an instrument or studying a martial art. If you usually read fiction, read non-fiction: if you usually read non-fiction, read fiction. Talk to strangers. Visit a new country.

Whatever it may be, new input can help you to…

12. Change perspective. You may not know how to solve your problem—but someone else might. While you can discuss your situation with others you will ultimately gain more from trying on and experiencing different perspectives yourself. Consider demographic information: what would a person who’s younger, differently gendered, and from a different country than you think of your present circumstances? How would the people you most admire handle your situation? How would different religious perspectives size-up the situation? How about your dog? Everyone on Earth collectively? The universe itself?

Get creative here. Consider those perspectives which are most likely to reflect your values. What if you chose to see the world as a simulation? A video game? A grand experiment? A dream? What if you played with the idea that every person is attached to the same consciousness, rather than each to their own? Go down the rabbit hole of your curiosity: you might find a life you have never before imagined.

13. Talk about your situation with others. I mentioned this one in #12, and this is a bit different than #12. #12 is mainly about your subjective experience of different perspectives: here, you consider direct output from different perspectives. Other people can point out aspects of your situation that you haven’t noticed. They can ask you questions you hadn’t considered. They can even hold you accountable for attempting to solve your problem in a certain way. The people you talk to may have faced the same problem as you before, but be careful on this one: the solutions and advice of others may not apply to you.

14. Get Honest. If you prefer, get real. You should be honest in all of these exercises. If you think dishonestly, meaning you lie to yourself (denial); speak dishonestly, meaning you lie to others; and live dishonestly, meaning you behave in ways and entertain beliefs about your life that ultimately cause suffering, you can make no forward progress. If you’ve had a certain thought, then you’ve had a certain thought: don’t deny it. If there is something you can say to someone that will relieve you, then say it. If there is something you’re itching to do, then do it. Be upfront about your desires: if you want something, there’s no need to sneak around to get it (well, unless it’s illegal). If you can’t show to the world who you are, then who are you?

15. Creative Observation. Getting honest (#14) is about noticing and expressing what is true right now. Sometimes people take this too far and make emotionally-charged assumptions based on what they notice. Acknowledging that you have $0.00 in your checking account is an act of honesty: assuming that it will always be that way is not. Instead, it is a disservice to yourself. It is partially dishonest in that it denies the possibility of the situation getting better. Instead, you can make this positive assumption and choose to believe that everything that happens to you takes you a step closer to achieving your goals, even if this isn’t readily apparent. Life has a way of surprising us and taking twists and turns which at first seem bad, but then turn out to be exactly what we needed. More simply put, failure can lead to richer success. Provided you truly want to and believe you can succeed, this is a more honest position than assuming that failure will only equate to more failure.

This does not mean that changing your perspective by itself will produce results. The point is this: by viewing the events of your life as ultimately getting closer to your goals, you can accurately decide, based on where you are currently, the next steps you need to take to achieve those goals. You can find the lessons in your supposed-failures and use those lessons to help you create success.

Creative observation is one way to…

16. Create Your Reality Wisely. You have likely heard that your thoughts create your world. Your feelings, beliefs, actions, and observations create your world as well, but thought is arguably the one you have the most direct control over. Take power over your life by thinking about only that which serves you. Don’t let anything negative in (please note that if you have been long in denial this will keep you in denial, and denial ultimately leads to suffering and stagnation: make sure you do #2 and/or #9 first). If you have a goal you are highly driven to achieve, and you are met with resistance, create the feelings you expect to have at the time of achievement (explained in #8) and say, What are you talking about? It is already done.

If you don’t really care for useless gossip then don’t think about it—and don’t act on it, either. If something feels dirty or soul-sucking to you, avoid it. Stop feeding your useless fears: they have no value to provide to you or anyone else.

Put your attention on creating the reality you want to experience. If you create something negative, regard it as a mistake, see what you can learn from it (e.g. let it clarify your true desires), and move on. There is no need to linger on mistakes.

If you think about a challenge or something negative you may have to face in the near future, you don’t have to deny the possibility per se—just accept that if it shows up you’ll find a way to handle it. If there is a possible situation that makes you feel badly it may serve you to think about it critically rather than shoo it away immediately. Feeling badly is a sign that, somewhere, you are not creating reality wisely: facing up to the possible situation and understanding it more accurately will help you to do this better. Knowing that you will be able to handle any negative situation which may arise will help you to feel more positive.

If it’s here you will do something about it: doing nothing is choosing to ignore it, and that, still, is something. Think of all the supposed adversity you’ve faced in your life and notice that you’ve figured out some way to deal with it. Why would you be unable to do this again? Even if you endured something horrible you’re still here in one piece. Ultimately, you will be okay.

17. Revisit and refine your values. This is similar to #7. Your values and your purpose are certainly related to one another but they are not totally interdependent. While your values can change based on the current focus of your life, your purpose is unlikely to. If you have a career in personal development you may value straightforwardness, introspection, and helping others directly through information and inspiration (e.g. by writing books). If you change to a career in music, those values will be superseded by value on beauty, creativity, and inspiring and entertaining others. You don’t have to lose the original values: they just don’t get emphasized anymore.

Meanwhile, your purpose of doing what makes you feel alive, for instance, may go unchanged. It is only the way you pursue this purpose that changes—not the purpose itself (though that can change as you see fit as well).

18. Throw money at your problems. It had to be said somewhere, didn’t it? You don’t need money to solve your problems, and money by itself won’t solve the problem directly, but cashing-out can certainly be an easy method of troubleshooting. Could you buy a laptop which you will use to make an online business that will help you to earn more money? Could you hire a personal trainer to help you develop the body you’ve always wanted? Could you hire a life coach to help you work through your problems and hold you accountable for solving them? Could you hire a nanny so you have time to sort out your life? Who said money had to be evil?

19. Write. The easiest thing you can do to clear up your thoughts is to write them down. When you leave your thoughts in your head they have a tendency to repeat themselves over and over: somehow it is harder to engage in thorough, efficient reasoning this way. But when you put your thoughts on paper you can see them clearly, and so instead of repeating them you can progress from one to the next swiftly.

Write out your thoughts and feelings—if you’re particularly emotionally-charged you may be able to do this for a while. Unless that method is enough for you on its own, at some point ask questions of what you have written. So if you wrote about how you’re worried about losing your job, you can ask, “Why do I feel this way? Do I really need to? How can I empower myself and feel better?” Roll with the first thoughts that come to mind, and then apply more in-depth thinking as you go on.

Writing has a way of being highly reassuring: it is difficult to leave a writing session with anxiety.

20. Polarize. Should you make money because you’re afraid of suffering if you don’t? Or should you make money by helping people in a way that feels right to you? Whichever you choose, choose one and stick to it. Polarization is a choice to motivate yourself and make decisions based on fear (example 1) or love (example 2). Fear acts to prevent death and suffering of the ego—particularly, of the physical body and the reputation. Fear gets a girlfriend to avoid being alone. Fear eats to prevent starvation. Fear tends to be amoral, choosing whichever solution is likely to be fastest and most effective.

Love, on the other hand, acts to serve the best interest of others. Whereas fear tends to avoid suffering, love tends to move toward what is desired. Love gets a lover to share joy with another person. Love eats so that the container of love- you- can continue serving others. Love sticks to personal values, and these particular values are chosen because they seem aligned with the collective best interest. When a person motivated by loved is wronged by others he tends to choose forgiveness and tries to learn from the situation.

For your first experiment with polarization you don’t have to commit to either pole indefinitely. Instead, choose one form of motivation just for the present task, and see how it feels to you. If it feels ineffective or value-defying, try the other pole on another situation. Don’t be afraid of trying either one: just consider these attempts as experiments. If you decide to commit to either form of motivation down the road you are, at present, figuring out how you can best serve yourself as well as all of humanity (both paths ultimately lead to service and self-care). So, don’t hold back on these experiments!

21. Own your death. If there is one thing you should always remember as you walk this planet it is that, someday, your life will end. You will die. Your body, heart, and mind will function no longer. On this Earth, you shall be no longer.

I know, people don’t like to think about death. Perhaps in your eyes thinking about death is just the right way to feel horrible. But it doesn’t have to be that way— not for long.

You see, if thinking about death makes you feel badly, you probably have not lived your life the way you really want to. You are afraid to die because the story of your life is incomplete. You haven’t put your best effort forth everyday. You haven’t lived according to your values. You haven’t loved and laughed and explored like you know you should.

Take this as a call to start those things. Become the person who will be full and ready to reach their deathbed. Live the life you can look back on one day and smile because you know you did it right. You took chances. You exercised courage. You expressed yourself creatively. You went on adventures of a lifetime. Now, that lifetime can end peacefully.

Remember, also, that you are responsible for your death. Specifically, you and you alone. By whatever means you are to die, only you can determine what sort of life you have lived up until your death and whether you are satisfied with that life. If there is an afterlife whereby consciousness continues, the way that consciousness goes out is up to you. Maybe it won’t be your fault when you die, but whether the life that is ended was a mediocre one is all on you. Choose wisely.

Try one of these whenever you’re feeling stuck, uncertain, or down— or if you feel average and you want to rev things up.

While you can begin implementing any one of these right now they all are meant to contribute to long-term change. In fact, some of these are best attended to over a long period of time, such as working toward your purpose. But, hey: what sort of tools would only create momentary changes, anyway?

Remember that not all solutions work all the time. What worked once in one situation may not work in a later, similar situation. Count on things being different in the future.

Still, don’t get discouraged: there is a solution to EVERY problem (except for a few really weird math problems). The solution may consist in redefining the problem until it is not one at all (that’s #12 for ya). The solution may require you to use a multitude of tools or to come up with new ones entirely. As long as you keep trying and you keep trying different things, you should eventually prevail—even if “prevail” turns out to mean something different than it does to you right now.

Do whatever it takes, my friend. There is a way.

I have written a few articles related to these tools. To see those you can head over to and look up the following (use the Google custom search bar or look through the Archives) or copy and paste the links into the address bar:

Be Yourself Unapologetically: future self--

Shut Up and Take the Journey: heart; owning your death--

How Do You Shine?: heart --

Building Trust with the Universe: purpose; death --

The Search for Meaning: purpose --

Do You Really Have to Do That?: purpose, polarization --

Belief Experimentation: purpose, polarization --

Enemies of Consciousness: polarization --

Belief Experiment #1: Unconditional Safety: polarization; death --

Podcast Episode Three: Thinking Better Thoughts: talk with others; write; new input --

Belief Experiment #6: Courage is the Best Tool: courage --

Belief Experiment #7: I Create Reality: creating reality --

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Thank you! May you live a real life!

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