Wide mouths, narrow minds

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle

If you don’t ever read, watch, or do anything that challenges you or makes you uncomfortable, you aren’t growing, you’re simply maintaining the status quo.

If all you do is surround yourself with people that think, look, and act exactly like you do, you’re willfully putting limits on what you are capable of learning, experiencing, and seeing in the world.

If you live in such a way that it inconveniences others who cross your path or condemns those who think or act differently than you do, this isn’t “living life to the fullest”, meeting one’s fullest potential, or adding value to the world.

Quite the contrary. It’s exemplifying ignorance & intolerance and stunting one’s growth.

Minds are like parachutes. They serve their purpose best when they’re open and being used.

“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.” — E.B. White



Motivation & achievement

It has been said that discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. But knowing what you truly want and why you want it can be as important as the discipline necessary to attain it.

Without a genuine internal desire to accomplish a very specific “something”, it can not only be difficult to do what is necessary meet a goal, it can be difficult to simply find the motivation to get started.

While motivation from external sources such as inspirational quotes, self-help books, or motivational speakers may temporarily set fire to our desire to achieve, these fires are often quick to burn out.

Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

This is a clever saying, but it’s more of a crutch for motivation than an elegant long-lasting solution.

As I’ve said before…

You can read a million motivational sayings to pump yourself up — or echo them to others until you’re blue in the face — but that won’t change anything unless you take action and consistently change your behavior.”

This isn’t to say there is anything wrong with using external motivation as a tool. It works. But the size of the self-help industry is an indication that external motivation doesn’t last.

When one’s motivation is dependent on external sources, the moment those sources are absent is the moment one’s motivation begins to fade. This is because motivation is a state of mind.

And if a particular state of one’s mind is dependent on the availability of things it doesn’t always have control over, it can be difficult to attain the state of mind associated with those things when they’re unavailable.

This is why it’s important to learn how to develop the mental discipline necessary to be one’s own source of motivation.

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” — Stephen R. Covey

When one is able to motivate themselves, they light a kind of fire that can burn indefinitely. And for these kinds of fires to be set alight, one must know what they want and why they want it — even if what one wants is to simply to seek pleasure from something or the satisfaction of accomplishment.

It has been said that 90 percent of success is showing up. I disagree.

I’d say, the largest contributor to success is knowing exactly what you want. The next largest is having the proper motivation to achieve it. And the remaining amount, roughly 20 percent, is doing what is necessary to get results.

(This also complements The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule) which states that, in most endeavors, roughly 20% of the work produces 80% of the results.)

Along the way to achieving whatever it is you desire, make sure your mindset is conducive to creating positive thought processes that reinforce your efforts.

Because until one changes the way they think, they will continue to follow familiar patterns in life. An example of this is when people start new endeavors with enthusiasm (or make New Year’s resolutions), but then fail to find the motivation necessary to follow through after obstacles arise.

The fire you light within yourself must not only burn hot enough to stay alight during turbulent times, it mustn’t be dependent on things you have no control over.

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” — Les Brown

Create and maintain your own motivation by having a clear understanding of what you want and why you want it and then reinforce your positive thought process to achieve it until it becomes not just a habit, but a way of life.

“Everything you want should be yours: the type of work you want; the relationships you need; the social, mental, and aesthetic stimulation that will make you happy and fulfilled; the money you require for the lifestyle that is appropriate to you; and any requirement that you may (or may not) have for achievement or service to others. If you don’t aim for it all, you’ll never get it all. To aim for it requires that you know what you want.” — Richard Koch





There is a big difference between saying or doing something kind because you feel it is expected of you out of politeness and saying or doing something kind because you truly mean it.

When your true intention is kindness, don’t just go through the motions. Be kind like you mean it.

Even with simple social standards like saying “Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re welcome”.

“Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re welcome” are magic words, but they lose much of their power when expressed as a reflexive gesture as opposed to being communicated with sincerity.

Know that people can not only hear the difference when you speak with or without sincerity, they can feel it. So if you’re going to take the time to express things like “Thank you” and “You’re welcome — and you truly mean it — don’t just say the words without putting some thought & feeling behind them.

Take the time to express kindness like you mean it by speaking your words clearly and sincerely. Use your eyes, your voice, your body language, and your actions to reinforce those words.

For example, it’s not “Yup.” that follows “Thank you.” It’s “You’re welcome.”

It should be obvious, but “Yup” and “You’re welcome” do not even come close to meaning the same thing.

You might be surprised as how much of a difference it makes when it’s completely obvious to others that you mean what you say.

It feels better for everyone because it is better for everyone.

Sincerity is huge.



Q&A : 150425

Asker: Hey Zero! I have a question. How do you, as a writer, artist, etc… Build up the courage/motivation/ have the discipline to keep on a task and complete the important ones?

Well, discipline is simply choosing between what you want NOW and what you want MOST. So it’s a matter of making sure you know what you’re priorities are and what’s most important to you.

Based on your priorities, you can then make a list of things you need to do in order to accomplish your goals — whatever they may be.

And remind yourself throughout the day, is this the most important thing I could be doing right now to push me towards my goals? If it’s nowhere near the top of your list for things you can do in that moment, you may want to reconsider.

Because if you don’t work on things that move you towards your goal, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever attain it.

So just make sure you know what you want and are taking steps to get there.

Asker: I currently attend college…and I am finding that I lack the discipline/motivation to do some work. Basically, I find myself in a pickle (aka I am lazy)…I have a “I don’t care” attitude towards a decent amount of issues…

Here’s a harsh fact of life: The universe doesn’t care if you don’t care. The universe is neutral. The universe is content to let you drift through life, accomplishing nothing. It doesn’t matter what you’re “excuses” may be, you won’t get special treatment.

A wise person once said, “The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work.”

There really isn’t any way around that. If you want “luck” or want opportunities in your life, you need to take action and do something. You need the be the person that takes responsibility of your life. You need to be the hero of your own life story. Because there isn’t anyone else out there who is going to do it for you.

Being “lazy” and not caring is a dead-end street. You know this, or you wouldn’t have written. And the fact is, everyone is lazy at one time or another — so it’s normal. But if you really want to change and push forward, you need to find some motivation to do it.

The thing about motivation is that no one can really motivate you but YOU. I can provide you with some ideas and tell you to go for it, but whatever it is that sustains you through the difficulties you encounter in life has to come from you.

Asker: …I would like to do great in my classes, but I just don’t quite have the drive to do so.

Well, you’re not going to do great in your classes until you make your classes a priority.

Everything in your life right now is a result of your priorities. If you change your priorities to reflect the things that are TRULY of most importance to you, then your whole life will change.

Many people resist that because they don’t want to work (hard). But if you want to do well, then you need to do the things necessary to do well. Read, study, do your homework. Put in the time.

If you don’t do those things, you will not do well _by choice_. You choose to do something else rather than focus on your studies. And for that, you will have to deal with the consequences.

So yeah, please, focus on your studies (more).

Asker: …I would like it if I could get into the professional gaming industry, or at the very least, be able to attend tournaments, build my talent/skill for [game], win, and move to higher places. Now, the real issues that comes with this is that in order to make a living, I would have to qualify for being a top player years down the road, in order to win tournaments and make a profit from it. Now, this goal isn’t extremely realistic unless I dedicate my life towards it…

No, it’s not “realistic” (and what I’m doing with my life isn’t realistic either), but it’s not impossible. But you said it yourself, “unless I dedicate my life towards it”. And THAT takes a huge amount of discipline and commitment. And I say, if you want it, go for it. But if you don’t already have discipline and commitment in your life, dedicating your life towards something doesn’t necessarily give you that discipline or commitment.

Discipline and commitment are something you should work on every day. They are skills you can develop. And those skills can then be used for a whole variety of things. They will help open up your life.

Asker: …If I want to refocus reality here, I could always learn programming/gain my degree in computer science and potentially work for Capcom…I personally am skilled when it comes to finding solutions to others computer issues, so this would fit a more realistic style, but gaining the motivation to raise my math knowledge for Computer Engineering, Network Administration, Software Programming, etc… is my problem in the end.

Whatever you want to do, you need to find something that someone will pay you for. If you want to chase your dreams — whatever they may be — those dreams need to provide a way for you to survive. But whatever you decide to pursue, the benefit of pursuing something that truly interests you is that it seems less like work and more like play.

So yes, find something you want to do that you also feel you are suited for — or can become suited for by developing your skills.

It sounds to me a little like you aren’t quite sure what you want to commit to, so that’s difficult. I get it. But in the meantime, exercising your ability to have discipline and show commitment to things will make you much more capable of handling the things that the rest of your life has to throw your way.

So if you can find the discipline to do better in your classes, do better in your classes.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking that playing games for 48 hours straight is discipline. It’s not the same thing.

Asker: It also doesn’t help that I have a redundant teacher/who is also not concise either with the problems that matter most.

No, that doesn’t help. But another fact of life is that life isn’t fair nor convenient at all times. Sometimes people or teachers suck. And that’s where it’s YOUR job to suck it up and make the most of what’s available. Even if that means having to do the best you can with a bad teacher. That’s your opportunity to learn from the experience and become a better, stronger person in the process.

Asker: but my attitude towards the matter at hand doesn’t help either. I can’t always rely on others, and if I can muster up the strength and can complete tasks/study on my own, I can do whatever I set my mind to.

Yup. Exactly right. You know this stuff.

Life is tough. No one can look out for your own best interest as much as you can. you might get hit by a bus tomorrow. You might not.

You can try to get away with doing the least amount possible in life, but you’ll only get as much as you give (or less). If you put in little effort, you’ll get back very little. If you put in more effort, you’ll get more out of it.

Discipline isn’t something you find as much as something you recognize you already have within you. It’s not something you can go and buy. Just like six pack abs… they are not in THE product. They are already in you. It’s you that has to do the work to reveal them.

The same thing with discipline. DO the work. Make a commitment. Believe you can do it. And do it.

I hope this helps a little.

To Do List


To Do List:

  • * Be kind
  • * Smile sincerely & generously
  • * Give without expectation
  • * Observe without judging
  • * Encourage others
  • * Clean up your own messes
  • * Look for ways to make a positive difference
  • * Appreciate without comparing
  • * See mistakes as learning experiences
  • * Live with intention
  • * Be the change you wish to see


Originally published on: Mar 6, 2012 @ 6:02

More to life

More to life

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” — Henry David Thoreau

There’s more to life than this.

Most people miss it.

It has nothing to do with one’s age, one’s career, or the status of one’s bank account.

It has nothing to do with one’s extracurricular activities, how extensively one has traveled, or how much one has accomplished in life.

It has to do with where we focus our attention. It has to do with our level of awareness and the myriad of moments of we let pass us by simply because we don’t tune in.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” — Thich Nhat Hanh (Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life)

We pay attention to the clock. We pay attention to the TV. We pay attention to our phones.

All the while time passes.

Few people ever actively take the time to just stop. To listen. To feel. To breathe. To use the full extent of their senses. And be aware of and fully immersed in the experience of life.

Because it’s a beautiful thing. And powerful.

“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” — Amit Ray

Just taking a moment to connect with the world around you in an intimate way is enough to help provide new insights, a new perspective, and to actively experience the interconnectedness of all things.

It’s enough to realize that we are all playing background characters in each other’s lives — and if we wish, we can not only choose to play a larger role in those lives, we can choose what kind of impact we have.

That we can have a positive impact on someone’s day. That we can make a difference.

That there’s more to life than what most choose to see.

Remind yourself every now and then to take a moment — it doesn’t take long — to just stop and truly immerse yourself in life experience. Breathe slowly. Use all of your senses. And try to see the things that have escaped you because you weren’t paying attention.

Because there’s more to life — and it can be amazing to experience — but it isn’t coming to a TV, phone or computer screen near you.

But you’ll miss it if you’re not paying attention and fully immersed in it.

So stop. Listen. Feel. Breathe.

And be mindful.

“To go beyond ordinary thought is to truly understand. If you just stay with your usual understanding of things, you will be like the frog that only swims in his small pond. Staying just within your little territory, you will never know anything about the larger world in which you live. You have to jump into the ocean. Then you can understand your small world for what it is.” — Dainin Katagiri (You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight)




Fancy suits and hundred dollar haircuts

But would they listen to you, follow you, and respect what you have to say if you weren’t wearing a suit, if you didn’t hold a fancy title, if you didn’t look successful in the conventional materialistic fashion or consistently boast of your numerous accolades & accomplishments?

That’s what I want to know of every modern day “motivational speaker”.

Because, to me, so much of the thoughts & lessons motivational speakers share these days appear to simply be taken from other motivational speakers and not actually from the struggle of life experience.

This is like having the answer to advanced math problems without doing the work.

Anyone can do it.

  • 1. Buy a fancy suit.
  • 2. Look “successful”.
  • 3. Repeat the same things everyone else is saying.

I want to see the process that led to the insights and the answers.

No fancy suits or hundred dollar haircuts required.

Be a voice, not an echo.”


Overcoming overwhelmed

Overcoming overwhelmed

Whenever you feel overwhelmed and doubt your strength, resolve, or ability to survive a hardship or overcome a challenge in life, take a moment to remember how many challenges you’ve already faced on your journey and how far you’ve come.

Remember that stress is caused by trying to have power over things that are beyond your control.

Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t do.

And breathe.

Every obstacle we encounter and learn from helps provide us with the knowledge & strength necessary to handle whatever comes next.

In the same way we don’t build muscles if we don’t use them, we don’t develop the strength to overcome obstacles in our comfort zone.

As such, encountering and working through problems is an essential part of life.

It’s not that we should wish to eliminate all challenges from our lives, but instead focus on developing the strength, discipline, and attitude necessary to effectively deal with each & every one that we encounter.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” — Carlos Castaneda


If you want to be happy


“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” — Groucho Marx

Imagine how hard it would be for someone to be happy if they spent their time:

  • Focused on their faults, failures & shortcomings (imagined or not).
  • Focused on feeling miserable.
  • Dreading the future.
  • Consuming garbage and then feeling bad about it (or as a result of it).
  • Isolating themselves from others.
  • Focused on what they’ve lost or lack in life.
  • Constantly comparing themselves to those who are more fortunate than they are.
  • Unable to accept themselves for who they are.
  • Unable to see their value as a person.
  • Lacking any sense of purpose.
  • Always assuming the worst outcome for any situation.
  • Being cynical of others’ motives without justification.
  • Making excuses or blaming others for bad behavior.
  • Acting rudely or without regard to others.
  • Refusing to try new things or adapt to new situations or environments.
  • Letting what other people say or think impact their sense of self-worth.

And yet people do this. They consistently do the things that we associate with unhappiness and then wonder why happiness escapes them.

If you want to be happy, don’t make a habit of doing what unhappy people do.

If you want to be happy, it’s important to take steps to do what you might expect happy people would do:

  • Focus on making the most of what you have.
  • Focus on what you’re grateful for.
  • Focus on building and furthering relationships.
  • Focus on accepting yourself for the work-in-progress that you are.
  • Focus on the now — this moment — and make it the best it can be. Let the future take care of itself.
  • Focus on improvement, not perfection.
  • Focus on truly knowing who you are, what your values are, what you stand for, and the type of person you ultimately want to be.
  • Focus not on your mistakes, but on the lessons you learn from them.
  • Have a purpose. Stand for something. Find something to be passionate about.
  • Focus on not letting people control your feelings or emotions.
  • Focus on taking responsibility for your life and not blaming others for your well-being.
  • Don’t live in fear other people’s thoughts or opinions.
  • Focus on solutions, not problems.
  • Do more of the things that make you happy.
  • Show compassion & value the well-being of others.
  • Act with generosity & maintain an abundance mindset.
  • Try new things. Learn new skills. Adapt. Say yes to opportunities.

But also remember, it’s ok not to be happy. It’s ok to have negative emotions. It’s ok to make mistakes. These are an essential part of life and how we learn. But it’s important to not let these things hold us back or lock us into a cycle of self-pity.

Instead, we can use negative emotions and feelings of discontent as the motivation to initiate positive changes in our lives.

The more you release yourself from the negatives in your life and let go of the things that are holding you back from being happy, the more you free yourself to adopt a lifestyle that creates an environment that allows for, nurtures, and sustains happiness.

Refuse to emotionally succumb to the negative events around you and tap your mental toughness to thrive in any environment. The good guy doesn’t always win and justice doesn’t always prevail, but where you direct your mental energy will always determine your attitude and it will always be controlled by you.” — Steve Siebold