Most of what we learn in school is completely irrelevant and many times actually gets in the way of true growth. The deepest learning comes from trial and error…and I’ve made many, many errors.
I turned 30 over the weekend so I thought I’d share a few lessons I’ve learned along the way, none of which I learned in school.
1.There is no difference, no separation, between the body and the mind. When you truly understand that thoughts are as real as movement or sensation, your reality shifts. Reality, by the way, is hallucinated — it’s a hologram. The Matrix was true.
2. Suffering and pain can be powerful motivators, learn to use them to use as a wake-up call. Suppressing the “bad stuff” with pills or surgery is to cut off part of life itself.
3. Your brain didn’t evolve to keep you happy, it evolved to keep you alive.
4. Chronic stress is toxic. In fact, it is the scourge of the 21st century and is killing us all. Don’t learn to “manage” it; understand it, use it when you need it, but eliminate the rest of it.
5. What happens when we are young, even before conception and birth, programs how we perceive ourselves and the world, deeply influencing our health. It can be undone but it takes intense practice to deny your programming.
6. Awareness is our most important asset. Modern life has settled us into some kind of fugue state but the ability to wake up to our own compulsions, patterns, and issues is true freedom.
7. Most people don’t really care about what I (or anyone else) is doing, they are busy worrying about their own issues and image. So do what you know to be the right thing.
8. People who have been hurt end up hurting others. So don’t be so quick to blame someone without first understanding their history.
9. I don’t think free will exists, but it’s hard not to want it to sometimes.
10. Balance in any given moment is rarely possible for high achievers.But high and low intensity should average out over time. Don’t wait until later to take care of yourself.
11. The strategies we learn to keep us afloat in times of struggle are often our biggest barriers to success later on. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut during school and my training to not ‘rock the boat’. Unlearning this habit has been hard but necessary. “What got you here won’t get you there”.
12. Social media can be a source of inspiration for me; and an even greater source of depression.
13. Being heavily Type A is seriously bad for your health.
14. Repressing your emotions is even worse for your health.
15. Being able to feel true anger is a powerful skill. Most of what we think of as anger (acting out, getting tense, yelling) is actually just fear of anger.
16. Keeping a journal has been the most reliable source of clarity for me. The more notes I take, the happier and clearer I am.
17. Healing yourself is the only way to help others heal. Putting aside my own ego, understanding my own preconceptions and pain has been a difficult but necessary journey and has exponentially grown my ability to help others. And you don't have to be a practitioner to appreciate this. Self-healing is the best way to be a better parent, partner, or coworker as well.
18. Trauma is the underlying cause of much disease and disorder as far ranging as high blood pressure and heart disease to autoimmunity and chronic pain. In fact, I think it has an important role in nearly all chronic illness.
19. Embrace silence and stillness. Some of the greatest moments are the pauses. Meditation is simply capturing the internal silence out of the noise. This should be taught in school — along with real skills like moving, playing, and problem-solving.
20. Each child should be taught what their emotions and feelings mean and how to feel them without judgement or shame. Emotional intelligence is true intelligence.
21. Western conventional medicine is totally screwed up and often makes problems worse.
22. Marriage is awesome. I think everyone should be in a long-term relationship because it is a teacher of presence and selflessness. Don’t settle, but relationships are only great because we make them great.
23. I grew up on a farm. Sometimes I hated it. But now I think everyone should experience it and I miss it dearly.
24. Corporate food will make you sick, fat, and eventually dead. If you didn’t grow it or kill it yourself, start doing that. Or buy it directly from someone who did. If everyone respected their food sources we’d have a much healthier society.
25. If you have something you feel could help another person, you have a responsibility to share it with the world. Who cares if you are dismissed? Most great ideas are lampooned at first. This is something that I struggle with so often. But it’s not about me. If I help one person wake up to their true self, it’s worth the risk of sharing something.
26. The past and the future are phantoms. I have wasted so much time worrying about that which is outside of any possible control — the future and the past. Trust you can handle whatever comes your way when it comes and not a moment sooner.
27. Live by principles, not methods. This is the opposite of what is taught in school and the internet. Understand function over form.
28. Keeping up with egos is soul-suicide. Do what you feel is right in your gut and live with authenticity. After all, you have to live with your choices why not make ones that feel right in your being.
29. It’s better to feel guilty about saying no than resentment for saying yes. Resentment is an insidious form of dis-ease.
30. We are a part of nature and the more we poison and destroy our environment, the more we poison and destroy ourselves. Will we learn before it’s too late?
I’ll end with my favorite quote from Lao Tzu:
“The sage does not collect precious things.
He does not hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.”