Today I Begin A New Life (MKE Week 3)

(Inspired by Scroll 1 from Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World)


I Promie

Today I begin a new life.

Today I embrace my new skin.

Today I am born anew …. my birthplace is a vineyard where there is fruit for all.

Today I pluck grapes of wisdom from the tallest and fullest vines in the vineyard… for these were planted by the wisest who have come before me, generation upon generation.

Today I savor the taste of grapes from these vines… and verily I swallow the seed of success buried in each as new life sprouts within me.

The life I have chosen is laden with opportunity and abundance.

In my hands I now hold the maps & charts, which guide me  to shores…  that today are a living, conscious dream I manifest.

I am aligned & in harmony with wisdom and principles which guide me into the sunlight of wealth, position, and happiness far beyond my most extravagant dreams… until even the golden apples in the Garden of Hesperides are my just reward.

Time teaches all things.  Within my allotted time I must practice the art of patience… for nature is patient. To create the olive, king of all trees, a hundred years is required. An onion plant is old in nine weeks. I have lived as an onion plant. It has not pleased me. Now I am the greatest of olive trees and, in truth, I Am my greatest self.

I have the knowledge and the experience to achieve greatness.  I travel my journey unencumbered. Nature already has supplied me with knowledge and instinct far greater than any beast in the forest.

In truth, experience teaches thoroughly her special wisdom…principles endure, and these I now possess.  The laws that lead me to greatness are contained in the words of these scrolls. They teach me success.  Success is  my state of mind.  I reach my goals in life, whatever they may be.

In truth, my success is directly proportional to my habits. Good habits are the key to all my success. Thus, the first law I obey… which precedes all others is:  I form good habits and I Am their master.

I am master to my habits.  My actions are ruled by appetite, passion, love, environment, habit… and the most impactful is habit. Therefore, I am a master to good habits… and I daily prepare new furrows for good seed.

I form good habits and I am their master.

I accomplish this through these scrolls… for each scroll contains a principle which drives the habits which build my success.  It is nature’s laws that only a habit can subdue another habit. So,  I  discipline myself with the first of my new habits:

I read each scroll for thirty days in this prescribed manner, before I proceed to the next scroll.

First, I read the words in silence when I arise. Then, I read the words in silence at 1 PM. Last, I read the words again as part of my bedtime ritual… and most important, on this occasion I read the words aloud.

Everyday I  repeat this procedure, and I continue in like manner for thirty days. Then, I turn to the next scroll and repeat this procedure for another thirty days. I continue in this manner every thirty days as my reading is a habit… and I am the living embodiment of these principles.

Herein lies the hidden secret of my accomplishments… as I repeat the words daily, they are a part of my active mind, but more important, they also seep into my other mind, that mysterious source which never sleeps, which creates my dreams, and often makes me act in ways that are unexpected.

As the words of these scrolls are consumed by my mysterious mind… I awake each morning with a vitality I have never known before.  At sunrise my vigor increases…. my enthusiasm rises… my desire to meet the world with courage soars… and I am happier than I ever believed it possible to be. 

I  choose, in all situations which confront me, to act as I was commanded in the scrolls. These actions and reactions are easy to perform, for any act with practice is easy.

Thus a new and good habit is born… for when an act is easy through constant repetition it is a pleasure to perform… and when it is a pleasure to perform it is my nature to perform it often. When I perform it often it is a habit and I am its master… and since it is a good habit this is my will.

Today I begin a new life.

I make a solemn oath to myself that I nurture, in every moment, my new life’s growth.  I am the guardian at the gate.   I commit to these readings… everyday… no matter what.   I always honor my commitments, and this habit of daily reading from these scrolls is of profound importance to me.  In truth, the  moments spent each day on this habit earn me the happiness and success that are mine.

As I read and re-read the words in these scrolls to follow, I am certain the purest of truth is concentrated here. Thousands of grapes are pressed to fill one jar with wine, and the grapes skin and pulp are tossed to the birds. So it is with these grapes of wisdom from the ages.  Only the pure truth lies distilled in these words. I drink as instructed and savor every drop… and the seed of success I swallow.

Today my new skin is bright, bold & shimmering.  I Am the Golden Child within.   I walk tall among men and they will know me anew… for today I am a new man… with a new life.




The Value of Retraining My Brain (What I Learned MKE Week 2 )

Even though I have over 85 billion neurons constantly connecting & disconnecting in my brain every day, my conscious mind (the part of me that is aware of myself & the choices I make) occurs in a very tiny area of my frontal lobes.  Yet, my thoughts (even a single word) have the power to change the structure & functioning of many other parts of my brain.

My brain creates its own realities.  What I see as ‘reality’ does not really exist outside of my mind’s imagination. It’s a fundamental neurological fact: my senses collect information about the outside world and the brain processes it in ways to enhance my survival & fit my existing mental structures.  What I see is more like a movie that bleeds light waves and inner emotional experiences into a story that is far removed from the reality that actually exists.

Consciousness is created in my brain the moment I wake up & consciously move my body. The pleasure chemical, dopamine, gets released from the motivational center deep in my ancient brain, which stimulates tiny areas in my frontal lobe that makes me aware of the outside world.  If I interpret the sensations to be interesting & pleasurable I seek more…. unpleasant, then the fear & pain centers are triggered and I involuntarily retreat from the world.

Every neuron has qualities of consciousness that we attribute to human beings.   A single neuron can learn & become curious… and as a result grow new connections (axons & dendrites) that allow it to send & receive more information to neighboring cells… it engages with it’s community to create new possibilities & potentials, and improves the function & quality of life for all.  Likewise, it can also be traumatized… causing it to retract its axons & dendrites, become more fearful about the world, and close itself off from communication & possibility.  In a single neuron I begin to understand the nature of motivation & anxiety.

Consciousness, as I experience it in daily living, can only hold about four “chunks” of information in working memory for a brief period of time.  I have the illusion that I am conscious of hundreds of things at one time: colors, things moving around me, awareness of what I am striving to achieve, etc.

However, science confirms I can only be truly aware of a tiny bit of information at a time.  A single word is a “chunk” of information, and it’s almost impossible to remember any sentence that has more than 7-10 words.

Try it right now: see if you can accurately recall a single sentence you’ve just read prior to this one! This has many benefits. For example: you can’t focus on a positive and negative experience or memory at the same time. So if you’re feeling pain, do something pleasurable and the sensation of pain will decrease.

My memories are not real… they are my own creation.  This may seem obvious, but when dealing with negative emotions, fears, worries, and doubts, it’s essential I remember that the feeling has less to do with the present moment than I may think.

My brain has a preference to embed negative memories because an organism needs to respond to future threats faster than its conscious mind can respond. When a real emergency takes place – like someone driving their car into my lane – the consciousness in my frontal lobes is turned down so that my instinctual re-activeness can take evasive action. When people say “everything seemed to slow down,” they were experiencing the slowing of everyday consciousness as a more ancestral form of awareness took over the body’s control.

However, when there is no real threat, my brain still will respond to a negative memory as if it were a threat that was occurring in the present moment.  The more I ruminate on the possibility that something awful may happen, the more my brain releases stress chemicals to prepare my body for the “fight-or-flight” response. But, then my brain sees that there’s no real threat. The result: confusion and the release of more stress neurochemicals. If I don’t interrupt this nasty problem, I’ll damage many parts of my brain. My memories, by the way, are very inaccurate, and each time they are recalled they are slightly changed. Autobiographical memories are particularly prone to this distortion.

I’ve learned a good practice is to develop a 5:1 “Positivity Ratio” if I want to build optimism and resilience to stress.  Neurologically, my right pre-frontal cortex constantly generates a stream of negative thoughts and feelings. My left pre-frontal lobe is more optimistic and is designed to make decisions that improve my success at achieving goals that I desire.

Since consciousness is limited, I have a choice… I can dwell on negativity… or focus on solution-based goals… but I can’t do both at the same time.   Research shows that if the ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts falls below 3:1, my relationships and businesses transactions are most likely to fail. The most successful couples, relationships, groups, and corporations are those where everyone involved generated more than a 5:1
positivity ratio.

Why do I have to consciously create more positive thoughts and feelings?  To overcome my brain’s propensity to turn negative experiences into memories (and thus beliefs & behaviors). The great news… I can easily train my brain to interrupt negativity and generate optimistic thoughts.

My beliefs shape my reality more than my sensations, and they govern nearly every aspect of my life.  My memories form the basis of my habitual behavior and they also form the foundation of my belief systems. A belief is a thought process – an assessment of the world (thoughts) and the value (feelings) placed on a behavior or ideal. The more I repeat a certain thought or feeling, the more “real” that it becomes. Because everything I believe in also has a corresponding non-belief, the brain does something odd. It rejects any information… or anyone… that interferes with that belief.

It’s a natural neurological process and it explains why human beings are so prone to prejudice. The moment we identify ourselves with one group (political, religious, social, or even a sports team) the less respect we show toward people who are members of different groups. I need to remind myself that my labels… my beliefs, my memories, even my
perceptions of the world… are not real. Instead they are arbitrary categories that my brain uses to organize the sensations coming in from an unknown world.

Pleasure is one of the most important sensations for maintaining my physical health, emotional balance, and business success. Compared to other animals, humans are the least sensual mammals on this planet… but when it comes to building self-confidence and self-esteem… I need to nurture myself.

For example… stroking my palms can eliminate performance anxiety… slowly brushing my arms decreases negative emotions… and engaging in pleasant physical activity improves my productivity.  Pleasure releases dopamine… and dopamine motivates me to work harder… so, all I have to do is to slowly stretch my arms, neck and torso two or three times an hour for 10 seconds to reap this benefit.

Daydreaming and mind-wandering are essential for learning and maintaining a healthy brain. Consciousness involves a highly focused and concentrated form of attention, but the neuro-chemicals involved in hard work are quickly expended. If I take a couple of “daydreaming” breaks each hour – just closing my eyes and letting my thoughts and feelings wander to wherever they want to go – I’ll feel completely refreshed after a minute or two.

Daydreaming is an essential process for encoding new information into long-term memory, and it also stimulates the creativity circuits in my frontal lobes.

On the other side of the equation, too much stress disrupts every neural activity in my brain. It can come from intense concentration, worrying, or procrastination. I’ve learned the fastest way to interrupt it is by yawning. It lowers the hyper-activity in frontal lobe functioning.

If I combine yawning with daydreaming, slow stretching, and gentle stroking of my arms and hands, I’ll enter a very deep state of relaxation in 60 seconds or less.  Once in this state… if I continuously repeat a single word that has deep value to me,  I can turn on 1200 stress-reducing genes.

If I visualize my goal with clear images & emotions, it will be easier for my brain to accomplish it.  And if I know what type of long-term work or project would bring me satisfaction, and I commit myself to it, I’ll build a sense of life-satisfaction that will reduce depression and anxiety….which will further propel me towards my goal… and thus create momentum & my results become exponential.

In my business, when I reflect on my inner values several times throughout the day, I eliminate most of my daily stress. When I speak slowly and briefly, I significantly influence more people on my team. And if I recall a pleasant memory, it can generate a “Mona Lisa” smile on my face that instantly triggers neurological trust.

One of the most powerful strategies I’ve come across involves creating a C.R.A.P. Board (which stands for conflicts, resistances, anxieties, and other problems) on which you list all of your weaknesses, worries, and fears. You fill up an entire page, and then you begin to gaze at your list as you focus on your deepest values and recall pleasant and loving memories from the past. In less than ten minutes, your conscious mind disconnects from the emotional memories tied to the words you wrote on your C.R.A.P. Board. Then all you have to do is post it near your workplace. Paradoxically…. don’t throw it away! If you do, your right pre-frontal cortex will start to worry about the things you put on the list!

These simple techniques & the retraining of my brain lead directly to improvements in the quality of my work, the quality of my interpersonal dialogues and the overall quality of my life. They can be used to build cooperation with others and eliminate conflicts before they even begin. They can be used to boost my immune system, helping to fight off disease and literally add additional years to my life.

Perhaps most important, I can use my thoughts to shrink parts of my brain that generate destructive emotions and to strengthen some of the newest evolutionary areas that help me to feel empathy and compassion for others.  I become more generous and less greedy as I learn how to tap into the intuitive wisdom of my brain where problems can be solved with ease. It’s a gentle form of enlightenment which allows me to glimpse a deeper truth about the reality that extends beyond the consciousness of my remarkable imaginative brain!

Have You Seen My Authentic Self? (MKE Week 1)

treasure within“You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You can find yourself by coming into the present.” ~Eckhart Tolle           

It was 3PM on a Wednesday and I had nothing to do.  An empty schedule with limitless potential. 

I was miles from home in the fog of San Francisco. The bustle of traffic reminded me of my hectic life back home, but I wasn’t bothered. I had nowhere to be and nobody to answer to, just like the day before and the next day. I was free.

I brought my favorite travel companion along with me to aid in my journey of self-discovery…. Me.  Not the busy Dad-Husband-Entrepreneur-me.  My true self.

Last year was painful for me. Like many others, I found myself ebbing and flowing with the tide that is the nine-to-five. Living for the weekend so I could escape the grind and live outside the snow globe even if just for a moment.

Life is more than clocking in and out with dead eyes and a slack jaw while counting the milliseconds as they fade toward your Friday night. I’m on this earth to be—not to be someone else for a paycheck.

In recognizing that I needed a vacation, I downed a bottle of wine and booked a two-week trip to my city by the bay. Fourteen days of sweet liberation.

Maybe you can relate to my reality.

Back home, Rebecca in accounting is a constant complainer. She brings you down like an iron pair of boots. You’ve got to grin and bear it because she processes your expense reports and you see her every day. You’ve gotten so adept at feigning interest that you’re losing sight of what’s underneath the mask.

Rebecca gets the sympathy mask. Your boss gets the I’m-passionate-about-my-job mask. Jackie in distribution gets the I-like-politics-because-you-like-politics mask. We wear whichever we have to in order to make things easier. Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best: 

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” ~The Scarlet Letter


Two psychological terms stand out as they relate to being someone you’re not: cognitive dissonance and the act of compartmentalization.

They go together like a cerebral peanut butter and jelly sandwich. To understand our challenges, we must first define them. Enter Merriam-Webster:

Cognitive Dissonance: Psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously

Compartmentalization: Isolation or splitting off of part of the personality or mind with lack of communication and consistency between the parts

When was the last time you spent an entire day doing exactly what you wanted to do? Said exactly what you wanted to say? You have a belief system, a rule set. Stuffing these things in a box and being someone else makes you exactly that. Someone else. This is compartmentalization.

It’s a defense mechanism to combat the cognitive dissonance you feel when you have conflicting personalities—when there’s a difference between who you are and who you become in certain situations.

When faced with a challenging situation, a compartmentalized person has to decide how to act. Quelling the reaction most natural to their authentic self, they respond inauthentically because they’ve developed a completely separate personality.

We must be mindful of who we really are—and we get to decide who that is.

“We are our thoughts” isn’t just Eastern voodoo wisdom. The word “brainwashing” has a negative connotation, so let’s call it brain painting. Painting your mind with things you love is a surefire way to become a happy you. This is nothing more than surrounding yourself with people, books, subjects, and thoughts that make you smile. Be selective and consistent with what you allow in.

It’s important to take time to foster your own well-being in a world that demands so much. Almost two thousand years ago, stoic philosophers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius told us to retire into ourselves. Frequent self-examination has been a practice for thousands of years.

Being comfortable with and conscious of what you find is the definition of knowing who you are. Constantly look within and connect with your mask-less you. We can nurture our inner authenticity by being mindful every day.

  • Meditate. You don’t have to have an Om tattoo and a stick of incense to find a quiet place to look inside. Take a twenty-minute vacation inside your own soul. Be cognizant of what you find.
  • Observe. Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Look at everything around you with child’s eyes. Notice the beauty in the trees or the vastness of space. Be a living part of your surroundings.
  • Create. Doodle something while your coffee brews in the morning. Take a few minutes to write something meaningful. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it comes from your own creativity. Exercise your mind, amigo. You’ll be surprised at how out of shape its gotten.

Traveling solo isn’t an escape. It’s a small opportunity to delete distraction. Lucius Seneca said, “All of your problems are with you.” Running away from them is impossible. But we can, for a time, run away inside our own soul.

I spent my favorite day in San Francisco walking through the residential Noe Valley and Dolores Heights. A simple stroll down sidewalk after sidewalk, without anyone barking orders or my phone buzzing with e-mails. Just me and my smile to enjoy the cool breeze.

It wasn’t so much the city I enjoyed, as it was the chipping away at my mask. Each footstep, a small victory at finding myself underneath it all. I remembered not who I was, but who I am.

Though I’m back to the routine of my everyday life, I’m still the same human I was in San Francisco. Underneath the demands of a challenging career lies the same person that wandered those sidewalks so many weeks ago. A smiling nomad. He who digs coffee shops. The one who loves wine.

We have the tools and presence of mind to make our journey for authenticity a daily practice. Recognizing when we’ve strayed from our true selves is the first step to staying the course. No one can be you better than you can. Look inside, befriend yourself, and be free.