Hey everyone, Cory here. It’s been a while! I’m not much of an active blogger anymore (though you can still find the occasional inspired caption on my Instagram page) — but I am working on a handful of passion projects, one of which I’m excited to share with the women among you 🙂
Starting in less than 2 weeks, my beloved friend & cofounder and I will be mentoring an exclusive group of no more than 30 women for 6 months of rigorous transparency, self-inquiry, pattern disruption, breakthrough, and friendship. We’re calling it the Living True Mentorship. (Registration closes June 28!)
This mentorship is one program of many-to-come from the two of us. We recently launched our company called The Light Touch, where we’ll offer retreats, programs and coaching with people (not just women) who are ready for an honest, irreverent and no-bullshit approach to spirituality and personal growth.
The Living True Mentorship
From July 1 – January 7, be one of 30 women to align your life, habits, voice, relationships, work, self-image, and connection to source with who you truly are and why you’re here.
Romee and I have been doing this work together for over 7 years—the result is more fun, authenticity, meaning, radical honesty, trust and safety than anything either of us have seen or experienced anywhere else. It’s safe not because we’re careful or validating or politically correct (believe us, we’re not)—but because we’re willing to be wrong and committed to learning, we’re loyal to the truth, we’re loving (not coddling), and we count on each other to do the inner work. We’re inspired to share the deep ins-and-outs of this work with 30 women who read this page and hear an internal “Fuck yes—finally!”
Together we will dig deep, do the nitty gritty work of dropping pretense, getting real about who we are, what we want, and what we’re here to give. Get ready for hard laughs, tough conversations, beautiful breakthroughs, challenging dialogues, and a giant, wholehearted leap in the direction of your self-mastery.
Romee and Cory are the real deal. I’ve worked with both of them individually and also had the pleasure of working with them as a team and I couldn’t be more grateful for their guidance. What sets them apart from 99,99% of teachers, coaches & facilitators is that they are speaking from their own embodied experience, while being precisely tuned to both the individual and the group field they are working with. They set the bar high and they hold you to your highest, but in doing so they come from a place of endless love, acceptance and recognition. As a team they work seamlessly, each with their own unique qualities. I would recommend them to anyone excited & passionate about reaching their divine potential.
You’re doing well; you are relatively content—but you know more is possible. You know in your heart that you’re compromising, appeasing, or living a life based more on momentum than on clear seeing and intentional choice.
You are committed to closing the gap between the life you currently live and the one that is in integrity with your purpose / calling / reason for being / higher self.
You have a spiritual practice but it lacks depth or consistency. You are more of a “personal development shopper” than a pro.
You find yourself indulging in blame, self-pity, gossip, insecurity, or unhelpful mental & emotional patterns even if you know better, and you want to transcend those habits.
You want more balanced, powerful, well-rounded women in your life who are honest, confident, and not easily distracted by trivialities.
You want to do the tough inner work, you want to be challenged and to have your layers of conditioning exposed, but you haven’t yet found an environment you trust to help you with that subtle excavation.
You’re motivated to make the time, you feel inspired, and you’re stable, responsible for your choices, and “coachable” (you’re willing to be wrong, stay in the conversation even if it’s hard, and try on new ideas that challenge your current way of seeing and thinking).
I’m looking forward to seeing some of you in the mentorship and in some of our future programs and offerings. To give you a teaser, one program we’ve been noodling over is a 6-week spirituality course for not-so-spiritual dads 😉
***This Breakthrough Bootcamp has finished. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates about future Bootcamps directly to your email.***
This was a game changer. I would do it 1000 more times. It’s genius.
Just like radio stations, there are parallel versions of you running simultaneously at all times. Ever notice that when you feel bad the thoughts you have access to are doubtful, confused, or—at best—defensive justifications for your stuckness? In these states you don’t feel like yourself. You feel off track. (And don’t get me started about the folks who are always “fine” but are actually just in a rut that has them fooled…we’ll dig deep into that little trap in Bootcamp).
But when you’re lit up and joyful and clear the thoughts you have access to are coherent and constructive and creative. In these states, you feel like yourself. You feel on-track. You’re available to others, you don’t get offended easily, you’re productive, resilient, confident and lighthearted. In these states you’re not concerned about getting fulfilled or reaching your potential because you are already experiencing the version of yourself who is fulfilled and who reaches their potential! You have already turned the dial to that station.
Usually we switch stations randomly or as a result of changing circumstances—but fortunately you can strengthen the muscle of tuning the dial directly. You can master aligning yourself with the version that is truest, freest, wisest, and most generous. You can learn to become yourself.
The caveat is this: it’s not easy with your current momentum. Your current mental and physical environment is designed to support exactly what you currently experience—so trying to have breakthroughs or “figure it out” from where you currently are generally leads to more of the same.
Breaking through not only your accumulated momentum but also your deeper attachments to fitting in, looking good, or appeasing others requires either a lot of focus and will… or a change in environment like Breakthrough Bootcamp.
I am now comfortable being disliked. Boom.
There is, in my opinion, literally nothing better you could do for yourself or humanity than to master the art of becoming yourself—radically and authentically and freely. That’s why I run Breakthrough Bootcamp.
What is Breakthrough Bootcamp?
Breakthrough Bootcamp is a 70-day (August 1 – October 10) immersive course designed to free you from your self-deprecating patterns, align you with who you really are, and build your confidence in your own capacity to break through regardless of your circumstances. Here’s what you can expect:
3 Daily Habits. When you register for Bootcamp, you agree to complete these habits (which will be disclosed after registration) every single day for all 70 days of Bootcamp. These 3 habits are the backbone of Breakthrough Bootcamp. They build momentum physically, mentally, and emotionally.
10 Instructional Units. Every week there will be a new Unit with a new set of teachings. I will lead most units. Three units will be led by TRULY EPIC guest speakers, including public-speaking guru Johanna Walker, and author and founder of iPEC Coaching Bruce D Schneider. As a bonus, you will get to watch recordings of ALL 4 GUEST SESSIONS from the last Bootcamp (two by Bentinho Massaro, one by Anurag Gupta, and one by Annie Hart).
Unlimited private one-on-one coaching with me and my team of new coaches. Each of you will get two 30-minute private coaching calls with me, and unlimited additional coaching calls with the small team of coaches I am personally training.
Access to a private Facebook Group with everyone in your Bootcamp. This Facebook Group will contain all of our content and additional content like articles, group conversations and support, spontaneous Facebook Lives by me, etc. You’ll have access to this group as long as Facebook exists.
This was so refreshing for me as well as deepening. I joined to get clarity on my horizontal path and ended up with a thirst for self and infinity that have shifted so much. This is a very complete program for whoever is really ready to break through, to up their game. You’re cracking the code.
(Subject to change)
Welcome & Overview: How to Succeed at This Program (Thursday, Aug. 1)
The Levels of Energy: Raise Your Own Energy (Thursday, Aug. 8)
Be of Useful Service: Your Responsibility to be Confident and Authentic (Thursday, Aug. 15)
Wrap Up & Content Creation Workshop (Thursday, Oct. 10)
“Today it really clicked for me. I had been holding Cory up, as people often do with teachers, and today that fell away completely. There is no separation anymore, no sense that “Oh Cory can teach because she is qualified, experienced, and skilled and I am not there yet.” No, it is all about commitment to your own alignment and having a growth mindset – both of which I now have. It’s so simple. I see and understand the importance of my own expression and that we all benefit when we share from an aligned state.
Who Breakthrough Bootcamp is (and isn’t) For:
The process that results in a breakthrough can feel intense and confronting. Having a breakthrough necessarily means transcending and making obsolete something you used to identify with or believe in. When something you identify with gets invalidated, it may feel like YOU are getting invalidated. That can feel threatening.
The only way a breakthrough can happen is if you’re intrinsically motivated to get through the threatening phase and realize the truth beyond it. If you’re intrinsically motivated, you’ll lean in, open up, get curious, take on a growth mindset, ask questions until you find clarity, and trust the process. If you’re not intrinsically motivated, you’ll withdraw or pass blame or gossip or find some way to avoid staying in the arena. We’ll spend some time at the beginning of the program calling ourselves out on and exposing our go-to defense mechanisms.
There’s room for healthy skepticism and real conversations in Breakthrough Bootcamp, but I don’t want to waste much of my or the other participants’ time with counterproductive defense strategies like these.
Therefore, I’ll ask you to check with yourself before registering for Breakthrough Bootcamp 2: are you here because you want to be entertained and you think it might be interesting? Or are you here because you want to uplevel, do the work, and align your life with your calling?
Please don’t apply if your full intention isn’t to get your hands dirty, engage in the units, take on the prompts and the teachings, and follow through with the daily habits.
Otherwise, I can’t wait to see you in there.
The results in my outer life toward the end of The Bootcamp, as a result of focusing solely on my inner world, are fucking insane. It’s a whole new world inside and out. So thank you. Keep changing the world. You’re training bulletproof warriors.
Dates: Thursday August 1 – Thursday October 10 (70 days)
Where?: All of Bootcamp happens over Facebook (most coaching calls use Facebook Audio), Zoom (for the group calls), and e-mail.
Cost: $366 per person ($5.23 per day). OR sign up with a friend for $499 TOTAL / $249 each ($3.56 per day). Payment due by midnight MST on Wednesday, July 31st. Nonrefundable.
***This Breakthrough Bootcamp has finished. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates about future Bootcamps directly to your email.***
When you have a breakthrough you transcend an aspect of your unexamined conditioning; you become lucid where you were previously sleepwalking. When you have a breakthrough you see something that you couldn’t see before; your awareness expands to include something that used to be unconscious programming.
As a result you’re different. You have more options. You have more bandwidth for generosity and creativity. You are freer and more confident. You become less of a validation-seeking, roleplaying character and more of a free agent. You become less bound by the fear-based matrix of social acceptability and more empowered to live your best life. Every time you have a breakthrough you cast your vote for humanity’s best case scenario. Your breakthroughs are your service to the world.
I can think of no greater use of my time and energy than to create an infrastructure that causes (or at least encourages) breakthroughs in others. That’s why I designed Breakthrough Bootcamp.
What is Breakthrough Bootcamp?
Breakthrough bootcamp is a 66-day (November 11 – January 15) architecture designed to free you from your own limiting perspectives. Here’s what it includes:
3 Daily Habits. For 66 consecutive days you’ll agree to practice 3 very simple new behaviors. All three combined will usually take less than one hour. I’ll tell you what they are after you register—but I’ve been doing them for the past few months and they’re crucial.
11 Inspirational / Instructional Units.This is the part of the program I’m most excited about! Every 6 days there will be a new unit—11 in total. The units are teachings or lessons that will inspire you and expedite your growth. Most units will include homework. Bentinho Massaro will lead two units. Anurag Gupta will lead one, and Annie Hart will lead one. These people are all influential teachers and breakthrough-causers. I am thrilled that you’ll get access to them too. You can scroll down to see the schedule for all 11 units.
Private 1-on-1 coaching with me. I am committed to every participant’s best case scenario through this program so I will offer ongoing free access to my coaching calendar.
A private Facebook group with all of the participants in this program. We will have live video calls, share our progress, submit homework, and support each other.
You will have access to the content of this program after it ends. Transcending the thick bubble of human conditioning is tough—but programs like these serve as little holes in the fabric of that matrix. Whenever you feel stuck or confused or overwhelmed, you’ll be able to return to this reminder of your true brilliant nature beyond the limitations of our social programming.
Bootcamp Schedule: 11 Units
Welcome + Overview: How to Succeed at this program (Nov. 11)
The 7 Levels of Energy: How to monitor your own alignment (Nov. 17)
Your Calling: Tune out the noise, familiarize yourself with you (Nov. 23)
Guest Lesson by Bentinho Massaro (Nov. 28)
Be of Useful Service: Your responsibility to be authentic (Dec. 4)
Guest Lesson by Anurag Gupta (Dec. 10)
Lighten Up: Practice playfulness, creativity, generosity (Dec. 16)
Guest Lesson by Annie Hart: Come home to your heart (Dec. 22)
Surprise Unit (Dec. 28)
Guest Lesson by Bentinho Massaro #2 (Jan. 3)
The Grand Finale (Jan. 9)
Dates: Sunday November 11, 2018 – Saturday January 15, 2019 (66 days)
[Payment & Registration information removed because this Bootcamp has finished]
I want to share myself as I am instead of the way I think will cause me less hassle later. For the most part the way I write and share now—especially online—is calculated. I have an aversion to drama and I make sure to write and share in a way that limits trolls’ access to me. I’m aware of certain long-term repercussions of saying certain unpopular things and I temper those messages. The way I share—or don’t share—does more to honor my insecurities than my calling.
But what if I knew I was going to die tomorrow? What if I didn’t have to deal with the social repercussions of being totally honest; the dent in my reputation that could result from sharing my perspective fearlessly with no concern about your judgment?
Strangely, as I’ve considered this, I’ve discovered that the less I care about your opinion, the more available I am; and the more I actually care about you. The less interested I am in getting social validation from people, the more able I am to produce something disruptive and transformative for them. The less scared I am of you, the more I can benefit you. And imagining that I’ll die soon is the easiest way I know to generate that courage.
So here’s one such truth:
If I had 24 hours to live, I would make it clear how much I admire Bentinho Massaro, and I would leave in my wake content that helps others see him through my eyes.
I’m not referring to the surface character that distracts so many; the 30-somethings controversial cigar-smoking spiritual teacher, though I adore him too. I would make content about what Bentinho has given his life to; what he represents, and the unparalleled degree to which he has mastered his craft. He doesn’t live for his own comfort or happiness or success or progress: he lives to cause people to wake up and remember what they actually are: source. The Self.
If I had 24 hours to live I would tell people that Bentinho’s teachings are the best on earth; they’re genius and efficient and they will save you years of scattered seeking en route to what you truly seek. Bentinho is a representative of your true self—not his own external agenda. He is patiently, generously giving his all despite the reluctance and skepticism and judgment of so many so that they can remember their true nature, limitless freedom, infinite potential, and timeless perfection.
I had my first experiential glimpse of self realization at the end of one of Bentinho’s 2-week free meditation immersions in 2017. For about 30 minutes I laughed and laughed harder at the familiarity. So obvious, so true. I was myself. Oh right, duh. How could I forget? How sweet that I had been so convinced I was this isolated person on Earth, wandering around working on herself, trying to get somewhere or become something. This realization was truer than anything science could ever prove to me. Truer than gravity or math or my name. It was directly true. Experientially true. It was the first time in my life I’ve felt absolute—not relative—confidence.
Then I looked at Bentinho and I started crying. Tears of overwhelming gratitude. How could someone be so patient? How could someone be so generous? I felt immediately sorry for my skepticism and judgment; for ever thinking he had his own hidden agenda for power or recognition. The only thing he got from that experience was that I woke up to myself. He spent his own money, time, and energy for me to remember me. That is what he lives for. That is what he is.
If I had 24 hours to live I would endorse and defend the meticulous example of his teachings which is his life. I would encourage people to see through their biases and aversion to him; to see what it feels like to trust him despite his paradoxical reputation; to follow him earnestly and I would explain why. I would address the common judgments and reservations and fears people have about him and I would explain how to use those fears not as evidence to support your judgments but as good information you can use to see your own blind spots and make leaps in your own growth. I would teach people how to use his teachings and how not to use his teachings.
I would talk about all the other transformational workshops and spiritual teachings and self-help books and online courses I’ve been through and why they’re useful but incomplete relative to Bentinho’s. I would describe what it’s been like traveling with this guy, working with him, attending dozens of his events, going through years of ups and downs with him, and even leaving and later returning to his teachings. I would describe what it is about him that continues to bring me to tears of gratitude and awe regularly. I would make it abundantly clear that there is nothing to fear—this guy is nothing but pure service, generosity, and brilliantly disruptive teachings.
I would admit that I think this is history in the making—future generations may remember Bentinho like we remember Nisargadatta Maharaj or Gandhi or other culture-defining spiritual leaders. I would explain why that’s not an exaggeration.
I think all this because I’ve spent a lot of time and energy subconsciously trying to disprove him. I wanted to prove that Bentinho was egotistical and immature. I wanted to prove that following a spiritual teacher was a dangerous and imbalanced way to grow. I wanted to prove that I was better off paving my own path. As a result this is something I know with more certainty than almost anything else, and this is what I want to share: following Bentinho (with the right attitude and approach) works.
It’s also worth nothing that I don’t think his teachings are for everyone. So when I say “following Bentinho works” I’m talking to everyone who gets it on an intuitive level even if you don’t get it conceptually. The alternative reality you crave—where people are real and transparent and they take responsibility for themselves; where taboos and identity-proliferation and political correctness are burnt away before they can fester; where limiting beliefs get exposed effortlessly, gently, without significance or tedious processes; where being uncompromisingly authentic isn’t an act of social defiance—it’s expected; where the point of coming together is to untangle ourselves from attachment so we can optimize our wellbeing and service to others—this reality that you seek exists and is available at the highest level right here.
If Bentinho Died
Similarly to if I had 24 hours to live, if Bentinho died I would shift into high gear and admit all of this stuff. Easily.
If Bentinho died I would have no reservations about saying these things—I would describe him exactly as I know him to be. No sugar coating. No warming you guys up like I just did with that soft, relatable introduction. If Bentinho died I would feel immediately that I had failed to tell the truth and fully acknowledge the biggest influence in my life while he was alive.
The truth is that the way I feel about Bentinho’s work feels like purpose. Honor. The reason I’m alive. I can’t help but think of that quote by Oprah:
“there is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It is why you where born and how you become most truly alive”
My calling has a lot to do with helping people understand Bentinho, get over their projections and opinions about following a teacher or his controversial personality, and get serious about doing the work.
What have I learned from Bentinho?
To try to answer this question is silly. I’ve learned thousands of subtle, perfectly-timed lessons from Bentinho. Every single time I’m around him I’m learning. I’ve been humbled countless times just by watching him speak to others; noticing his compassion for people who would irritate me, seeing him transform an impossible dynamic into a breakthrough nobody saw coming, delicately working with someone who seems to make no progress only to discover two months later that for her the impact was paramount. I have several notes in my phone saturated with spontaneous quotes from Bentinho. Here’s a recent one:
“True confidence is open. It’s humility. Insecurity expresses itself as arrogance or stubbornness. Why the fuck are you insecure? Be humble! Insecurity is a separating principle. Everybody else on Earth is worthy but you’re the unique one? You’re the one, special unworthy human who is separate from creation? How arrogant is that?”
So instead of trying to summarize everything I’ve learned, I’ll promise to share more moving forward.
This is the schooling I always wished I had—and I often get inspired to share what I’m learning. But until recently I’ve found reasons to hold back.
Enough of that. Enough arrogance disguised as insecurity. This is what’s true for me. This is what you can expect from me. These teachings are what matter to me most. This is what I love more than anything. This is the work I want to dedicate my life to. This is the path I’m here to support and clarify and promote and share.
I spent last month learning the scariest, most enchanting sport I’ve ever tried: freediving.
Freediving (also called Apnea) is where you go as deep as you can in the water on a single breath. There’s no air tank or special breathing equipment: just a person (usually in a wetsuit, sometimes with goggles, flippers, and a weight belt) swimming vertically toward the bottom of the ocean.
I was scared. People have died doing this. I have a fear of the ocean (my closest near-death experiences have been in water). I have no long-term goals associated with freediving. There’s no real reason for me to do this. I wanted a good excuse not to freedive.
But I was going to Dahab, Egypt—a diving mecca—for a month with a group of friends and most of them were taking the course. We had a group discount. It was now or never. But most importantly, I had just finished reading The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman where I learned about the growth mindset.
The Growth Mindset, as coined by Carol Dweck, describes a refreshing, confronting, and—most importantly—useful attitude for conquering self-limitation. Here’s a snippet from a great overview on brainpickings. (I recommend you click that link and read the whole thing):
“At the heart of what makes the growth mindset so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations—they see themselves as learning…”
“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
After reading The Confidence Code I saw that in some areas of my life, I had a fixed mindset—not a growth mindset, and I was interested to see if I could change that.
Since I discovered this distinction I’ve been able to trace most of my suffering back to having a fixed mindset. Whether I feel anxious or embarrassed or jealous or judgmental or confused—I can reliably identify a conclusion I made somewhere along the way that says: “I don’t have what it takes to deal with this.” Or “I’m never going to get this.” Or “There’s something wrong with me.”
Fortunately, switching mindsets is always available and it works immediately—that’s what I love about it most—it just takes remembering to apply it when you feel resistance; it just takes practice.
I would not have tried freediving if I hadn’t yet learned about the growth mindset—and there’s no chance in hell I would have stuck with it.
I consciously switched over to the growth mindset dozens of times while practicing freediving. But this moment stands out:
It was the end of AIDA 2, the second level of training. Out of our group of around 15 people who started training together, Keilan and I were the only two left. Everyone else either had trouble equalizing (popping) their ears or lost interest or didn’t reach the depth required to move on to the next level.
We were at the Blue Hole (a 400+ foot hole in the ocean right outside of Dahab) and Keilan and I were gearing up to finish the course with Lily—the most hardcore of the instructors, a record-holder, and the manager of the center. This meant we had to complete specific safety dives, prove that we could dive to 16 meters easily (though we were aiming for 20), and not make any big mistakes.
Everyone else was snorkeling, doing chill practice dives or sipping mango juice at the overlooking restaurant. I had anxiety. I was looking for any excuse not to get into the water.
Then Lily pulled me, Keilan and Bentinho aside and asked me what was up. “Do I intimidate you?” I told her yes, she intimidates me. She laughed and reassured me there was no pressure—and told me I didn’t have to complete the course today if I didn’t want to.
Then Keilan made me laugh by calling me a pussy. Then Bentinho said “remember that you’re doing this for yourself.”
Oh right. I’m doing this for myself. The reason I was doing this sport in the first place was to practice the growth mindset; to create a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval; a passion for stretching myself and sticking to it even (or especially) when it’s not going well.This exact moment—the moment where it gets hard and I want to quit—this is the moment to shift my mindset.
I geared up and got in the water, repeating to myself “I don’t want to and I’m going to.”
And then we finished the course.
And then I went on to finish the next level of training, and Keilan quit.
A few months ago I invited people to apply for an 11-day camel trek in Egypt. I had never formally led a group trip before. I had never been to Egypt. And I had never met Georgina, the woman with whom I was organizing this event. I had no clue if people would apply, if we would pull it off, or if it would be successful.
A few days ago I returned home to Colorado after 5 incredible weeks in Egypt—the last week and a half was the camel trek. People applied. We pulled it off. It was successful.
The word “successful” is a low-resolution way to summarize this trip. It was stunning. It was unexpected. It was inspiring. It was filled with lessons and breakthroughs. It was hilarious. It was intense. It was slow and dry and heart-warming.
In order to give you a good hearty feel for this trip, I’ll give you a practical overview and then I’ll summarize my most memorable moments and takeaways (with photos).
The camel trek itself was 7 days. The two days before were for participants to arrive in Dahab, catch up on sleep, enjoy the ocean, and gear up. The two days after we spent relaxing at restaurants, visiting the blue lagoon, snorkeling, and soaking up our last days in paradise.
The 7 trek days in the middle were full-on: no bathrooms, no rest stops, no beds, no tents, no modern comfort—just 9 participants, 8 Bedouins (natives who are more comfortable in the desert than the city), a seasoned guide named Joyce, and 20 camels.
For the most part we just spent time together. We played. We talked some but not much. We climbed rocks, rode camels, walked, laughed with the Bedouins, ate, spent time alone, meditated, reflected, sat around the fire, and appreciated the planet.
Thanks to the simplicity of the trip, reflection and introspection were more productive and powerful than usual. Whenever I felt tension or misalignment I became immediately (and non-urgently) aware of the stuck point. And due to the nature of this trip, I had the spare time and energy and bandwidth to focus on cleaning up whatever was clouding my experience. With less noise and distraction, the relevant lessons were loud and clear.
I should also note that the group of participants was no ordinary bunch. Georgina and I were surprised when Bentinho Massaro and Anurag Gupta applied to join our trip in addition to 5 other terrific guests. The group was awesome.
Here are a few memories, lessons and takeaways that stuck with me:
Memories, Lessons, Takeaways:
Don’t Preach. Be Authentic and Share.
The first night of the trip we were sitting around the fire, laughing and small-talking, and I felt the uncomfortable responsibility to do something; say something; lead; make it intentional; get people talking. I said something like this: “Okay hey guys, welcome, here we are! So I would like to just have everyone go around and say their intention for this trip. Who wants to start?” Crickets.
Finally Ruth spoke up and said “well I want to finish my dinner first but then I can go first.”
Eventually everyone went around and said their intentions but the activity felt dry and heavy. I was uncomfortable the whole time. Bentinho was laughing knowingly. I was eager to go find somewhere to set up my sleeping bag.
The next day I asked Anurag for some coaching around the situation. He was quick:
“Yeah why weren’t you just authentic?”
“Why didn’t you just say what was up for you? Something like ‘Hey guys—I feel some responsibility to get more of an intentional discussion going just to set us up for an awesome trip, but I’m a little nervous and I’ve never done this before. Is that something you guys want too?’”
When he said that I facepalmed. Obviously.
I realized that by trying to direct traffic and make something happen ‘over there’ I wasn’t being responsible at all for the thing I wanted to generate. What makes an intentional dialogue unique is that it’s real and transparent and open. By instructing people to go around the circle and say their intention, I was role-modeling the opposite.
Thinking Is For Doing.
The first few days my thoughts felt disproportionately out of sync with my experience. There were more of them than necessary. There were more thoughts than made sense for what I had to think about each day. I’ve never had that happen before. In my day-to-day life I don’t notice trivial thoughts because there’s lots to do and lots of variety. I get messages and notifications and updates on my phone, I run into people while I’m out. I have to make decisions about what to eat, what to wear, what to do with myself. As a result, my redundant and unnecessary and counterproductive thoughts get camouflaged by all the diversity of experience.
In the desert there’s not much to do. You get on the camel. You ride the camel. You get off the camel. You eat. You pee. You poop. You clean up after yourself. You set up your sleeping bag. You walk around. You look at stuff. You talk to people. You play. You sleep. And everyone else does the same thing. There’s no urgency or pressure or problem solving. There’s not much to think about.
It reminds me of a quote my mom often says: Thinking is for doing. In the desert, thinking for thinking’s sake gets old. In the desert, the only thinking you need to do is the thinking that precedes doing.
On the second or third day I told Musa, one of the Bedouins, that my brain was too fast. He laughed and told me that everyone’s brain is too fast and I needed more time in the desert. A couple days later he followed up and asked how my brain was. I was glad to tell him it had slowed down. By the end of the trip I felt steady and mentally aligned with the circumstances.
Humans are resilient and adaptable.
On the first night we ate Bedouin bread—a delicious stretchy homemade bread they make from scratch and cook on on an upside-down pan over the fire each night. The next morning Allison and I woke up with puffy faces. That’s something both of us expect to happen when we eat too much bread (worth it). That night we ate the same amount of Bedouin bread again, expecting the same symptom. The next morning we both woke up looking normal. Quick adaptation.
Same thing with my sleep. After one day of waking up with the sun I was switched over to a new sleep cycle.
I noticed the same adaptability in lots of areas. After one night we were happy and comfortable sleeping outside on sand and rocks. After a few days we were able to walk or ride camels long distances without getting sore. Even the solitude and the silence was easy to adapt to—by the end of the trek most of us felt like we could go another week or two roughing it in the desert.
I like this lesson because it contradicts a bias I tend to have about us humans: that we’re slow learners, stuck in our ways, and many of us just can’t change. On the contrary, we’re instant learners with a strong capacity to adapt when placed in environments that require adaptation.
This motivates me to be picky about my environment(s) and intentional about what I’m adapting to.
Be Like The Bedouins
If I had to summarize what I learned from the Bedouins in one sentence, I’d say this:
Do less, play, be a good person, pray.
Do less. The Bedouins are minimalists who lack nothing. They use what they need and nothing more, and as a result they seem masterful. They’re precise and tidy and attentive. When they make a fire, they burn exactly as much wood for exactly as much time as is needed to heat the water and cook the food. Then they let it go out. They don’t gather more wood than they need and they don’t burn more wood than is required to heat food.
Play. The Bedouins are funny and playful and chattery. They’re goofballs. One thing Musa kept saying was that they liked us because we joked with them the entire time. We made fun of Ataiwi’s habitual single-cough that produced no mucus. We made fun of our tragic inability to pronounce “bhabecumculco” (definitely not the right spelling) which means “I love you guys.” They made fun of us when we failed over and over to toss bedouin bread. They taught us to play backgammon. We tried to teach them to play a rock-toss game but they turned it into a sprinting-tackle match. The mood was perpetually, authentically light. Even around heavier topics, the Bedouins sustained and shared genuine, contagious joy.
Be a good person. This reputation preceded them. We spent several weeks in Dahab before meeting the Bedouins or beginning the camel trek, so we’d met other Bedouins and heard others describe Bedouins. The Bedouins are good people. Plain and simple. They are lighthearted and honest and generous. They have integrity engrained in their culture and their identities. Before the trek I asked my friend Ammar (a local) if he ever hears Bedouins making fun of western tourists in Arabic. He looked surprised and shook his head. “No. Bedouins are so nice.”
Pray. Every day, five times a day (each on their own, not all together), the Bedouins pray. But they don’t just do a quick prayer before they start eating and continue on—they leave the group, prepare a space, wash themselves, and repeat a physical ritual several times. They are fully present from start to finish. Undistracted and dutiful. Watching them pray was meditative—you can feel the devotion and the honor and the love.
Watching them pray uprooted an assumption I had about religion. My belief before was that Muslims were lost in the religion part of spirituality (the dogma and the judgment and the rules); that they were more radical and therefore less connected to the universal source that is independent from religion. But watching them pray—seeing that their connection was real—made me realize how alike we all are in spirituality. Their prayer is my meditation is an atheist’s intuition. Their connection to Allah is my connection to source is a Christian’s connection to God. I had a bias that stricter religions and belief systems necessarily correlated with a weaker connection to source. What I learned was that someone’s connection to source is not determined by how they got there.
Jump On In.
Toward the end of the trek I felt especially available for people. I felt clear and aligned and happy to share. But whenever we were having group discussions, it was painfully obvious how much more skillful Bentinho and Anurag were at making a difference for others and causing breakthroughs than I was.
At moments when I felt like I had a useful model or strategy or insight for someone, I would stay quiet and observe Bentinho or Anurag jump in. Then I would watch as the entire group up-leveled. Instead of just answering their question or reframing their concern, these guys would do alchemy. That’s really how it felt—what used to be a paradox was now resolved and packaged into something that’s useful for each person in a distinct way. Whenever that happened I was grateful that I hadn’t shared when I felt inclined to share.
I told Anurag this and he retorted: “You think I started out like this? You’re going to suck in the beginning no matter what so jump on in.”
Happy Camel, Happy Trek.
I was paired up with Tunesi. The happiest, strongest, smartest, most affectionate camel of the bunch (in my opinion). Musa (Tunesi’s owner) loves Tunesi and has had him since he was a young camel. You can hear Musa in the background on the video below telling me to “give him more” (cant stop at just half a bottle of water). I think this made a difference—the fact that Tunesi was treated well, had been with the same human for his whole life, and understood his job made for an awesome experience for me. Some of the other camels were just recently traded or purchased from traders and you could tell that they were hesitant or untrusting.
Joyce, our guide and the owner of Desertjoy, runs a foundation dedicated to camel health and happiness. One thing this foundation does is buy camels out of the trade and gives them to Bedouin families so they can get personalized treatment, care and training. This also gives the Bedouins more sustainable income.
By trekking with her and her team of Bedouins we were supporting a bigger mission.
For your pleasure, here is a video of me giving Tunesi some water.
“How do you make sure you surround yourself with the very best people in your life? The ones that push you to be the very best version of yourself?”
My answer: Become a social minimalist.
What is social minimalism?
Perhaps it’s best to start with what social minimalism is not. Social minimalism is not choosing your 5 favorite friends and ditching the rest. Social minimalism is not ignoring everyone until you finally want to hang out. Social minimalism is not trying to have as few friends and social interactions as possible.
None of that.
Social minimalism is the philosophy of minimalism applied to the way you spend time with people.
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
In other words, minimalism is cutting out all your trivial distractions so you can spend your time and energy on the things that matter to you.
It’s a surprisingly comprehensive philosophy: Yes to the things, experiences, thoughts, and decisions that move you toward your goals and give you energy. No to the things, experiences, thoughts, and decisions that do anythingexcept move you toward your goals and give you energy (even if that means keeping you where you’re at).
Do those 46 mediocre, rarely-worn shirts hanging in your closet add value to your life? Or do they clutter your space, consume your bandwidth and distract you from the 8 shirts you love and actually wear?
The more stuff you’re dealing with the less energy you have for each thing, including the stuff that matters to you. The less stuff you’re dealing with the more energy you have for whatever’s left. The more energy you give to things that matter to you and energize you, the more alive and free and awesome you feel.
This is the simplest route to fulfillment I can think of: give most of your energy to whatever matters to you and energizes you.
Now apply this to your social life.
How often do you hang out with people by default? Just because “it’s what we always do”? How often do you say yes to an invite when you feel neutral or even less than neutral about it in that moment? How often do you invite people to chill just because?
These moments are the social equivalent to those 46 mediocre shirts. Except it’s way more than 46. And when one hangout turns out to be surprisingly fun, you use that to justify the dozens of other times you wasted your time.
Your social life could use a clean out and you know it.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris
The social equivalent of that quote is this: spend time with those who move you toward your goals or empower you to accomplish your mission (those who you know to be useful), or those with whom you love spending time (those who make your experience beautiful).
Here’s the caveat—people change all the time. Our moods change, our priorities change, our interests change, our thoughts change. I’m not a proponent of the popular tenets to keep your circle small or cut negative people out of your life — humans change too often for that to be a legitimate solution. It’s unnecessarily drastic. You only resort to cutting someone out of your life when you don’t trust yourself to make positive, discerning decisions in each moment. Otherwise you’d just be honest and choose not to hang out with them every single time you didn’t want to hang out with them. Then, whenever you do feel interested in them and they invite you to something that excites you, you’d go. No major friendship decisions needed.
Instead of eliminating people from your life and only keeping your favorites (like you would with material possessions) think of social minimalism like a brain update; a new mindset. It applies less to who you spend your time with and more to how and when you spend your time with them.
Here are the two criteria you should use to become more of a social minimalist:
When deciding whether or not to spend time with people, at least one of the following must be true in order for it to be a “yes.”
1. It’s relevant. You’re up to something. You’re scheming or building or collaborating or solving a problem. You’re partnering on a project. You’re coordinating your friend’s birthday. You’re watching the big game. You’re meeting up to meditate for half an hour. One of you needs advice and the other has advice to give. There’s a reason to get together. There’s purpose. Spending time together is useful. It’s aligned with what matters to you.
— Or (or better yet, And) —
2. It’s energizing. The thought of getting together is exciting. Tune into this feeling. You know how some invitations feel like an internal mini-victory? Like hell yes perfect timing that’s exactly what I want to do. And other times you only go because you couldn’t come up with a good enough reason why not? (If your first response upon receiving an invitation is to look for a reason why not, it’s not energizing.) It’s energizing if you’re both eager to spend time together. It’s energizing when you find yourself nodding or smiling as you imagine it. There’s a dinner party and you have a good feeling about it. Your hilarious friend invited you to lunch and the thought of sitting across from him laughing is the best thing you can think of. Your group of friends from college is back in town and you cant wait to get together and party like freshman year. There’s someone you’re crushing on and you want to ask them on a date. You know this feeling.
If you make sure to check the box for at least one of those two standards from now on for all social get-togethers, you’ll have the best social life you’ve ever had in 6 months. (That is a totally trivial amount of time— I have no clue— but I’d bet on it if someone wanted to test it.)
Side note: I realize that some relationships are seemingly mandatory or locked in. You’re circumstantially obligated to spend time with someone and it’s not as simple as saying “I’m not feeling it today.” I get it. Think of social minimalism as a muscle to strengthen. This is a skill you are practicing, not an immediate overhaul of everything in your life. The better you get at being socially discerning in other situations, the more insight you’ll have about how to deal with your current situation.
Back to the original question:
“How do you make sure you surround yourself with the very best people in your life? The ones that push you to be the very best version of yourself?”
You surround yourself with the very best people in your life by having a social standard that honors your time, energy, and bandwidth.
You attract the most fulfilling and rewarding relationships into your life (and nurture the ones you already have) by being honest about what matters most to you in each moment, and confidently declining default or suboptimal social options.
It’s not about the people. It’s about getting into alignment with your true self; with your intentions and goals and values. What matters most to you? How can you spend your time in accordance with those priorities?
The more aligned you get with what really matters to you (and the less distracted you are by what doesn’t) the more naturally you will generate an environment that supports your lifestyle. You’ll start to like your friends more and they’ll start to like you more. You’ll develop a better relationship with your own time and bandwidth. You’ll learn to trust yourself to be discerning—so you won’t have to cut people out or make any sweeping decisions as a result of burning out from too much time doing stuff you don’t care about.
And, as a result of this new bar you’ve set for yourself, the new people who make it into your life will be more and more aligned with you. Social minimalism is an upward spiral.
Blame. It’s like jealousy and guilt and regret. We all know it’s worthless and counterproductive and feels terrible but we still indulge.
That’s because we have a spectrum that ranges from blame to responsibility. Let’s call it the Responsibility Spectrum.
At the far left you’ve got stuff you’re certain you’re not responsible for. Your kid punched your other kid in the mouth. There’s a war going on and innocent people are dying. Your uncle verbally abused you and now you have anxiety. Your boss gave you another project after you told her you were swamped.
On the far right there’s stuff only you are responsible for. You went and got yourself a haircut. You intentionally got pregnant. You worked hard, saved up, and bought yourself a Tesla.
Then the entire middle chunk of the spectrum is this subjective mix of blame and responsibility:
You drank too much last night. But your friends were pressuring you. Let’s say 60% your responsibility, 40% theirs.
You’re financially irresponsible. Yeah it’s mostly your responsibility, but your parents were too lenient with you growing up so you never had the chance to learn to be good with your money. We’ll go with 80% your responsibility, 20% theirs.
Your partner isn’t as kind or loving with you as they used to be. This one is messy and hard to figure out who’s responsible for what. So we’ll say 50% 50%.
Then here’s where you get stuck: how do you solve the problem if you’re only partially responsible for it?
That means in order to solve it you require something you have no control over.
How do you overcome your anxiety NOW when the only way for the trauma to go away is if your uncle never verbally abused you in the first place?
How do you become financially responsible NOW when the only way for you to become financially responsible is if you had a different upbringing?
How do you become a more balanced drinker NOW when peer pressure, a variable you can’t control, accounts for 40% of whether or not you drink?
How do you even begin to solve a massive issue like a war killing innocent people if you’re sitting up in the nosebleeds pointing fingers at the bad guys?
How can you grow if you’re holding something you can’t control accountable for something only you can control?
How can you become your best self when you believe that your experience is someone else’s fault?
It’s important to know that it’s also not your fault. It’s not your fault that a war is happening. It’s not your fault that you drank too much. It’s not your fault that you have anxiety as a result of verbal abuse growing up. But it is absolutely your responsibility, starting right now, to create the future you want. And blaming it on anyone, including yourself, goes in the exact opposite direction of that future.
The fastest way to create the future you want is to take 100% responsibility for everything you experience.
In his book Energy Leadership, Bruce D Schneider outlines The 7 Levels of Energy. Think of these levels like paradigms or perspectives or attitudes. Level 1 is the lowest (or worst-feeling) attitude, and level 7 is the highest (or best-feeling) attitude. The higher your level of energy the more aligned and free and creative you are. At higher levels of energy you are more equipped to deal with tough situations. At lower levels of energy, the more self-conscious and depressed and manipulative you are. The lower your level of energy the less equipped you are to deal with tough situations.
To simplify: the better you feel the more able you are to solve problems and contribute to the world. The worse you feel the more you perpetuate problems, manipulate others, and limit your own growth.
Victimization and anger are the lowest and second lowest levels of energy, respectively. This is where blame lives. These low levels are characterized by the belief that the world is happening to you. You are a victim of your circumstances. Bad stuff happened (or is happening) to you and as a result you are worse off than you should be.
In other words if your current negative experience is anything except 100% your responsibility, you can expect to keep suffering and perpetuating whatever problem you think caused your suffering in the first place.
If you’re serious about feeling better, getting more out of yourself and transcending the problem, you’ll convert your blame to responsibility and start improving your attitude. Being responsible and in control of your attitude feels good.
The more you train yourself to automatically take 100% responsibility—especially for the circumstances that are “definitely not your fault”—the more you’ll expedite the process of moving up the levels of energy to perspectives of service and opportunity and creativity and genius. The more often you take 100% responsibility for everything you experience the more part of the solution you’ll be.
To take it on, ditch blame and make this your new mantra:
“I am 100% responsible for everything I experience.”
This is the first chapter from my first ebook, Get Out of Your Way: Make 2017 The Best Year of Your Life.
The guy in the photo is one of my dear friends and someone who has been a relentless stream of support and inspiration, Kwame Apraku.
About a month ago someone very drunk blew up at me. He was furious. He called me all the insulting, belittling, degrading names you can think of. It’s been years since anyone has treated me that way. It was shocking. My heart was beating faster than I was comfortable with. My adrenaline spiked. It was intense.
In most cases I would have defended myself and fought with him. I would have looked for ways to hurt him back. Then I would have ignored him for weeks. No number of apologies would change my mind.
I would be completely focused on defending myself. I would be determined to prove my rightness or my value or my superiority. All of my mental and emotional energy would be hijacked by this trigger until I felt right or justified or good or equal.
I would be offended.
But this time I sat still and listened. I asked him a few followup questions and looked for clarity. At times I closed my eyes, slowed my breath, and noticed my accelerated heartbeat. I was surprised. I was focused. I was even a little concerned for my physical safety once or twice. But I decided not to get offended.
Because I wasn’t lost in the endless, high-maintenance activity of being offended, I was able to do different things with my brain, like investigate the underlying imbalance of the moment.
Because I wasn’t wasting my time and energy being offended, I was able to notice that part of me felt sorry for him. I knew he would regret this moment. I could see that he was hurting. He felt threatened and confused so he became angry. This gave me access to forgiveness.
When I felt myself forgive him, a rush of calm flooded my system. My heart slowed down and my thoughts relaxed.
That freed up even more bandwidth. I started looking for the opportunity:
“What is the most useful way for me to interpret this moment? How is this the best case scenario? If I were looking back on this moment a month from now, proud of how it went, how would I have handled it? What is here for me to learn? What would Albus Dumbledore do?”
Then I found one perspective in which I could even take responsibility for his outburst. This was remarkably freeing. It was actionable. The next day when we spoke, I knew what needed to be clarified. I even apologized for not being clearer sooner. No drama, no grudges, no arguments, no confusion.
And now I feel wiser, clearer, and more aligned than I felt before that situation.
If I had been offended, I might still be ignoring him, resenting him or looking for proof that he’s an asshole with a temper—someone I should never associate with again. I never would have found my center in that situation. I never would have found forgiveness or opportunity or freedom. And I certainly never would have uprooted the source of the breakdown.
If I had been offended, I wouldn’t have overcome the obstacle. I would still be stuck. That trigger would still exist.
Objectively speaking, the insulting things he said to me were offensive. But offensive circumstances do not equal being offended. Not even close.
Offensive circumstances—like all circumstances—are inherently neutral. Empty. Meaningless. Definitionless. Being offended means you’ve chosen a definition, and the definition you’ve chosen hurts. In my humble opinion, being offended lives in the same camp as feeling sorry for yourself. Quit it. Get up. Learn something.
When you’re offended, you’re interpreting an otherwise neutral situation in a way that suggests that you are unworthy or inferior.
When you’re offended, you’re crowdsourcing your self esteem.
When you’re offended, you’re not taking responsibility for your experience.
When you’re offended, you believe that you’re the victim of your circumstances.
When you’re offended, you’re outsourcing your sense of safety, worthiness or wellbeing.
When you’re offended, you’re actively perpetuating the reality of inequality and conflict.
Don’t misunderstand me:
Circumstances can be scary and unjust. But when you’re offended, you’re preventing growth and progress and understanding and transformation. If you’re committed to being right and making someone else wrong, suit yourself. But if you’re serious about changing something, you must stop being offended by it.
Instead, try this:
Sit still and listen. Breathe. Notice your heartbeat.
Forgive them. Even if they really wronged you. Especially if they really wronged you. Think MLKJ. Think Nelson Mandela. Think Victor E Frankl.
Look for the opportunity. What’s here for you to learn?
Take responsibility. Even if it’s undebatably 100% their fault. Reclaim the power of the moment. Take full responsibility. Try this idea before you reject it. It’s radical. It’s hard. And it’s transformative.
Here are 5 Perspectives on Donald Trump as the New President of the United States:
As I go through each of them, notice which perspective aligns most closely with yours. Also, I wrote this essay using a strong left/liberal political bias. The underlying message is nonpartisan and should be relevant no matter what you believe.
This country scares me. I don’t even know who these people are—where did these voters come from? Do I see them on a daily basis? What about all the progress we’ve made? All for nothing? I’m over this. It’s depressing. Real question: what’s the point of voting? Of participating? Of making an effort at all? This makes me feel like my voice is meaningless. Like I have no control. None of us do.
Everything is going to shit. This country is crumbling. I’m disheartened and offended. Where did we go so wrong?
Donald Trump? Are you kidding me? That perverted narcissistic imbecile? I’m humiliated by my own country. I’m disgusted. I’m pissed. It’s sickening. We could have chosen between the first woman president of the United States or this revolting dirtbag and we chose him?
The people who voted for him are wrong and incompetent fools. They’re lost or gullible or ignorant. And to the people who didn’t vote at all or voted independent… where is your brain? This is unjust and unfair. He’s a fraud and a racist and a bigot. He didn’t even win the popular vote. Hell no. It’s not over. Let’s take him down, expose him for what he is, and embarrass whoever voted for him.
This is tough. But this is a democracy. We voted for him. My fellow citizens voted for him. He won as fairly as any other candidate might have won. That’s how this works. Hopefully he’ll relax on some of his more extreme ideas now that he’s not campaigning. Plus it’s only 4 years…
So now what? What is the most useful way for me to spend my time and energy? Certainly not by complaining. I’m not interested in getting lost in the drama of this. I’m not going to be a victim and I’m not going to let myself get worked up. What’s here for me to learn? How can I grow from this? How can we handle this responsibly and productively as a nation?
What an amazing election. So much stirred up emotion; so much unstuck dirt. So much catalyst. People around me are hurting. Others are livid. Others are shocked. Others are silently glad. Others are euphoric. People are coming face-to-face with their own limiting beliefs; their assumptions that their wellbeing depends on the state of our government. This is an important step. People have to see their own limitations in order to transcend them. Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs…
I want to remind people that they are free of their circumstances. I want to remind people that this is perfect in its own bizarre way. I want to support people as they transition from depression and fury to curiosity and excitement. This is an important time to be of service as people all over the world overcome their triggers and disempowering definitions. What is the most impactful way for me to help?
This is exciting. Transformation is happening. It’s ugly but that’s good news. Buckminster Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”What better catalyst than this to expedite the creation of a new model? For those who see beyond the surface appearance, this event marks a step in the direction of a new system based on trust and love and sustainability and transparency and unity and freedom. That’s beautiful.
Plus—what if there is more than meets the eye to Trump? What if there is something for me to learn about conservative politics and people who voted for this guy? What if he could inspire me? What if his election is a perfect opportunity for many of us to open our minds and hearts to something bigger, truer, and more inspiring than our echo chambers? What if just by opening up to something I previously resisted, and looking at it with unbiased eyes, I could be investing in and practicing something far more importann and influential that political ideas?
This isn’t about republicans vs. democrats at all. This is about growth and transformation. It’s about divesting our attention from an external system and our opinions about other people, and investing that energy into our own personal empowerment and alignment and clarity.
This is disruptive—but disruptive is good. Catalysts like these force people to reconsider the way they think and live and relate to the world. Yes, of course there will be short-term repercussions. But long-term, this may be one of the climactic events that represents our collective transition to empowered, conscious creators of the world we truly want.
Here’s how these perspectives work:
Those 5 perspectives are the first 5 of the 7 Levels of Energy outlined in Bruce D. Schneider’s book, Energy Leadership. I only went to 5 because level 6 (flow) and 7 (oneness or “absolute passion”) would not be phased by something like a political election. These levels of energy (or perspectives, or attitudes, or vibrational frequencies) go from lowest to highest— the lower levels correlate literally with lower vibrations, or worse attitudes. Level one (Perspective 1) is the level of victimization. Level two is characterized by anger, three is tolerance, four is service, and five is opportunity.
Each level is a step up from the last. So while anger might not seem productive or useful, it’s better than feeling like a victim. Plus, it’s far easier to improve your energy by moving up through anger, and then through tolerance—than it is to leap directly to service or opportunity.
The lower your level of energy, the worse you feel. The worse you feel, the less capable you are of making decisions. The worse you feel, the less competent you are in general. At lower levels of energy, the thoughts cycling through your mind are self-reinforcing or destructive. When you feel bad, you’re not helping anyone. At low levels of energy, you’re less effective at having the impact you want to have.
The higher your level of energy, the better you feel. The better you feel, the more aligned and energized and clear you are. When you feel clear and confident and aligned, you’re more creative and constructive. You make better, faster decisions. You’re more impactful. The better you feel, the more equipped you are to make a difference in the world.
If you’re angry about the election, you’re in a less powerful position to make a real difference than you would be if you felt enthusiastic and activated.
It’s in everyone’s best interest, especially yours, to raise your energy.
This entire election process, I’ve been back and forth between Perspective 4 (service) and Perspective 5 (opportunity).
I see the tweets and posts and memes and videos that come from Perspective 1 (victimization), 2 (anger), and 3 (tolerance). I understand these perspectives because I’ve had them many times before and, depending on the topic, still do. I see these levels of energy as little seductive emotional traps. Now, I recognize them quickly and use them as reminders to stop externalizing my experience and to consciously choose a level of energy I prefer.
I feel good about this election because I know better than to feel bad about it. I’ve learned to see service and opportunity where I used to see oppression and ignorance.
As a result, I have more mental and emotional bandwidth than many of the people around me have right now. I’m not energetically limited to lamenting or resisting what I don’t like. I have access to insights and possibilities and connections that energize me. I feel creative and free.
All 5 of these perspectives (and higher) are available to you right now. There are only two prerequisites for accessing them:
Know that ALL circumstances are inherently neutral. Everything “out there” is empty and meaningless. The only meaning something has comes from the definition you give to it. The definition or story you have about something comes from and informs how you feel; your attitude; your level of energy. If you insist on the realness of something and refuse to change your definition, you’re depriving yourself and the world from a more enlightened or helpful perspective.
Have a genuine willingness to raise your energy. Once you’re more committed to adding value to the world than you are to wallowing in your own righteousness, try moving up one level. It’s easier than you think.