Thursday, April 20, 2017

Intro to Personal Growth

Okay, the goal of the Adventure Life Project, as I have envisioned it, is not to be a complete, over-generalized guide on how to live your life. And my goal certainly was not to make it a self-help guide to success and happiness either. And I can assure you that I am no way an expert on the subject in any way, shape, or form. But what I can tell you is that I have spent the last seven years researching, studying, and applying many of the ideas and theories out there. Some of the stuff is really good, some of it is really just crap, and most of the rest of it is really up to our own judgement.

My goal is to pass along only the information that I believe has stood the test of time, has been rigorously studied, or just makes logical sense.

Wisdom Through The Ages
The truth is that, when it comes to self-improvement, there are very few, if any, new ideas out there. Everything that is being presented today is just a new spin on ideas going back to Jim Rohn, to Earl Nightingale, to Napoleon Hill, to Friedrich Nietzsche, to Benjamin Franklin, to Socrates and even Aristotle. For thousands of years, humans have, pretty much, been seeking the same things in life.

While many of these ideas are worded differently, they all seem traceable to a set core of principles, and these are the things we can put some faith in.

The Basic Human Laws of Nature:
The most important principles, that have been nuanced throughout the ages, can all be organized under the most basic of categories. The reason that these ideas have been worded in so many different ways is that the core ideas can be pretty hard to accept, at first. But when we question why we do certain things that may seem unexplainable, if we drill down deep enough in search of a reason, we will usually end up at on of the following principles:
  • Ultimately, humans will find a way to get what they want in life (otherwise we will get what we think we want, or what we are willing to tolerate).
  • Humans primarily seek happiness in life.
  • Humans will seek control - if not over themselves than the ones around them.
  • Humans seek the path of least resistance.
  • Humans are driven by fear (well, two fears)
    • Fear of dying
    • Fear of being alone (this much more than the former).

Understanding these laws can help explain why we do the things we do, and don't do the things we "should."

Taking Responsibility For Our Lives
We cannot be in control of our lives unless we are willing to take full responsibility for it. Until then we are subject to the control of someone or something else.

“If you don’t take control of your life, someone else will.”

Even if we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation that was not of our making, most likely, we can step back though the series of events that got us to where we are, and find a situation, that if handled differently, would have produced an entirely different outcome.
This is the only way we can avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again. This is the only way we can make constant improvements in our lives. We cannot be afraid to make mistakes and we cannot be afraid to own them when we do.

The cool thing is that people can respect a person who admits their faults and owns up to there mistakes, and if you are around people that can't, then those are people you don't want to be around anyway.

Our Programming
The idea that we have been “programmed” sounds kinda cult-ish and maybe a little dramatic, but really all it means is - we are how we were raised. But the reason it is a kind of programming is because so much of what was put in our brains, was put there long before we can even remember, during a period of exponential growth. When our brains were the most susceptible is when we received the most training. And usually, what was put there by our parents was subsequently reinforced by society.

We will never really know for sure what exactly was put there, so we may never know exactly what to try and pull out. The best we can do is try to recognize the behaviors that we exhibit and try our best to eliminate them, minimize them, or at least learn to deal with them. But acknowledging them is certainly a good first step.

"As children, we didn’t have the opportunity to choose our beliefs, but we agreed with the information that was passed on to us. That’s how we learn as children. Children believe everything that adults say. We agree with them, and our faith is so strong that the belief system controls our whole life. The result is surrender to the beliefs with our agreement. I call this process the domestication of humans." - from The Four Agreements

Our Reprogramming
When we decide to create a new path for ourselves, one that is in tune with what we really want from life, what would bring us the most happiness and true contentment, is when we start to ditch the old programming. The best way to start this process is to get out and start doing things, the things that you didn't believe that you could do, the things that you were told you couldn't do, the things that you were not allowed to do. Get started doing these things and your new path will start to create itself. Live by doing more and more of the things that you want to do, not the things that everyone tells you to do.

Well, there really is no conclusion. To say that that's all there is feels kinda (   empty   ), for there is so much that I could have included in this introduction that its hard for me to say - "stay tuned". So, I would just like to end this with a realization that I came to a couple years ago on this subject, and it really explains why I am included it in the Adventure Life Project.

I was in a book store a while back and I literally looked up and saw an end cap displaying a new self-help book. I read the title, and my first thought was - "yeah, that's a really good topic to approach." And I liked the authors take on the topic, and for a second or two, I even considered taking a look at it. Then I stopped and thought about it for a few more seconds. I thought - "ya know, that topic has been covered pretty extensively, I wonder why we need another book on the subject."

Then I started thinking a little deeper - "Ya know,,, I really think that all the subjects on self-help have been covered pretty extensively. So, what's left?" Then I started thinking even deeper (uh oh). Wow, if there is always a new supply of books coming out about self-improvement, there must be a lot of people still buying them. If there are still so many people buying these self-improvement books, then they must still be in need of self-improvement.

Well, if they are still in need of self-improvement, does that mean that the books don't work? Could the message be wrong, even b.s. I don't think so. The message, in many cases, is spot on. The disconnect is in the motivation to use this information for our own personal gain.

We love to read about what we need to improve. We even read about how to make those improvements. We just have a hard time seeing what needs to be improved within ourselves. And if we are lucky enough to discover what we need to improve, we struggle to find the approach that we are comfortable with. If we are lucky enough to find the right approach, we find it too difficult to even get started. 

The truth is that this is a long process and whatever new path you choose to take, it's not going to appear after reading a book or two. Whatever it is you choose, it will require getting out and doing the work, but it can be a whole lot of fun too.

My hope is that by passing along the things that I have learned on the inside as well as the things I have experienced in the great outdoors, maybe I can encourage others to follow along a similar path. Maybe I can even reduce the learning curve a little bit. And by committing to do this, maybe I can keep myself on this path as well. 

So whether you are here to explore the adventures that await us out there, or if you are here to do some internal exploration, I really look forward to having you on board, because I would really enjoy the company. Just keep in mind that this new path is a long one. In fact it's lifelong! So, let's enjoy every minute of it.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu

Take care and see you out there!
The Four Agreements - by Miguel Ruiz
No Excuses - by Brian Tracy
Nine Things You Simply Must Do - by John Cloud