Ideas to Live By

Changing your experience of life happens when you recognize that you are operating your own life, that no one is doing it to you or for you, and that your future experience doesn’t have to be the same as your past. This means interrupting your machinery and not allowing your old programming to control your actions and interpretations.

  • Every day is a new day. Every moment is a new moment in which we can re-invent ourselves and our relationships anew.
  • We are born with the ability to express ourselves fully, but as our programming develops we are robbed of it. Take the power back!
  • Fully expressing ourselves requires realizing what’s bothering us and accepting it so that we don’t have to be in denial about it. If we don’t accept responsibility for what bothers us and allow ourselves to express it, it continues to control our behavior and determine our experience of life.
  • By accepting your life as it is at this very moment, even if it is not as you pictured it would or should be, you regain the power to make new choices and create new results.
  • My Goal: Managing my mind instead of my mind managing me.
  • Always work to get back to “beginner’s mind!”

Remember when you were very young and everything was new and amazing and full of surprises? That is “beginner’s mind.”

A “monkey mind” jumps all over the place and is always just the machinery, flitting from thought to thought. Remember, when we see everything through our experience of the past, we’re really not seeing it as it actually is. We’re only seeing what we expect to see and hearing what we expect to hear. We’re not seeing or hearing in the present; we are merely attaching to present events our past pictures of what has happened before.

Because a beginner’s mind isn’t run by the machinery, it is empty of programming and can receive true impressions of the world. When we’ve interrupted our machinery and have a beginner’s mind, we are not attaching pictures from the past to what we are experiencing. We are in the present!

  • When we have judgments of “right” and “wrong,” “good” and “bad,” we are not in the present and not able to connect!

For me, this is a very important and freeing concept. It highlights the fact that when we are labeling “right” and “wrong,” “good” and “bad,” we are interpreting, we are judging, which means we are being controlled by our programming and its interpretations instead of being in the now. When you find yourself applying these judgments to your experience, it’s a sure sign that you need to interrupt your machinery!

  • Pain and suffering are better than being anesthetized. Comfort can only come once we feel our feelings, even the painful ones.

It’s better to feel than not to feel, even if what we are feeling is painful. Remember, pain can be a great motivator to make changes that will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling life! If you find yourself feeling pain and wishing that you were numb, ask yourself what the pain is telling you about your life. What new choice is the pain asking you to make to interrupt your machinery and transform your experience?

  • Fear makes the wolf appear bigger than it is.
  • Many fears never go away. The goal is not to become free from fear, but to identify our fears, accept them, and then not be stopped by them.
  • We’re all afraid of each other, so why be afraid of anyone?
  • When you want to be liked by others, you can’t say “No.” Instead of automatically saying “Yes,” ask yourself, “What would I do if I were not trying to be accepted?”
  • Be like a strong tree in the forest that doesn’t need anyone.
  • I can only change me. I can’t fix or change others; it’s not my responsibility and I can’t do it even if I want to.
  • Feeling guilty comes from holding back instead of expressing ourselves fully.

If we fully express what we feel, we will have no guilt and others will have to make their own decisions about how they are affected by it. It’s no longer our secret and, therefore, we will not be controlled by our shame or fear. Doing this requires taking a risk—the risk of being vulnerable in the moment.

  • I’m fascinated with my insights. So what? My insights don’t do anything. They only mean something if I commit to acting on them.
  • Get clear, choose, take a stand, commit, and don’t sell out.
  • Every night our machinery reboots as we sleep, and in the morning we have to consciously remind ourselves again that the past is in the past and all things are again possible. We must also reboot our commitment to be true to ourselves.
  • Being open to new possibilities is kryptonite to our machinery. Committing to potentiality creates the opportunity to get what we want!
  • A victory for the soul is often experienced as a defeat for the ego.
  • Vitality is a function of participation. The more you participate, the greater is your aliveness, so stop being merely a spectator!
  • When you aren’t participating as a player, then you are the one being played!
  • Resisting saps vitality and causes emotional death.
  • The more you participate in life, the more alive you are.
  • The real joy in life comes from the process, not the result!
  • The “blur” in our lives is a result of not making choices. We get a lot more power by just saying “Yes” or “No.” When we say “Yes” or “No,” the muddle or fog or bind goes away. We need to make choices in order to make a difference.
  • You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Excerpted from My Mind Is Not Always My Friend by Steven J. Fogel (Peppertree Press), pp. 177–180.
© Steven J. Fogel