Monday, May 21, 2018

Act with Devotion & Intention, Letting Go of Attachment to Outcome

By Leo Babauta

You’re starting a project or a new exercise plan, and it’s in shaky new territory for you. You feel doubt about whether you can do it, and so you’re tensely doing everything you can to make sure it will turn out the way you hope.

The stress, fear, doubt and tension here all come from an attachment to the outcome, to how things will turn out. We want to lose weight and get fit (the results of the exercise) or be brilliant at our new project and have everyone think we’re wonderful.

But perhaps we could acknowledge that:

  • The outcome isn’t always fully in our control. Sometimes other people get in the way or unintentionally sabotage a project, sometimes things happen that we didn’t expect, sometimes despite our best efforts things just turn out differently than we pictured in our heads. On a training plan, the weather could get worse than we thought, we might come down with a flu for a week, we might get injured or things come up to throw our schedule off.
  • There are multiple outcomes that will be OK, if not great. For example, maybe we won’t get six-pack abs if we do our best with this plan, or maybe we won’t finish the marathon we’re training for … but maybe we’ll get healthier despite not meeting the goal? Maybe we’ll enjoy the exercise, maybe we can meet other people trying to get healthier, and maybe we’ll experience beautiful outdoors that we wouldn’t otherwise get to experience? On our new project, maybe it won’t turn out as well as we hope, but we could still enjoy the process, learn a lot, form good relationships with our team or client, get better at the process itself. The outcome we hope for isn’t the only one we can be happy with, and sometimes the actual outcome will be better than we hoped for, if we’re open to it.
  • Focusing on the outcome is detrimental. It causes us to stress out, to enjoy the process less, sometimes to not even start something because we don’t think we have a chance of getting the desired outcome. We don’t ever write that novel because we think we can’t write a good one. But how do you ever get good at writing a novel if you never attempt it? It also causes us to be disappointed with the outcome when it’s not what we want, to be disappointed in ourselves when we don’t live up to our own expectations, to feel that we’re not enough (or others are not enough).

But what if the outcome matters? You are supposed to hit an objective of X for your work … don’t you need to focus on the outcome? Well, you should do the actions that are most likely going to get you that outcome … plan out the steps, then do the steps … but as you’re doing each of the steps themselves, you don’t have to be attached to the outcome.

Let’s explore that a bit, see how to do it and why it might be helpful.

Letting Go of Attachment to Outcome

Letting go of our attachment to the outcome is freeing. It helps us to be more present with the doing, the being, the act itself, rather than what might come in the future. It can help us have better relationships, because we’re more focused on the people than the goal. It can help us have a better relationship to ourselves, as we focus on our own well-being and contentment, rather than some external source of possible happiness (spoiler: happiness doesn’t come from external things).

What can you focus on instead of outcome? A few good ideas:

  • The intention. I’ve found my intention in doing a task to be much more important than the outcome. It’s what I hope to bring to the task rather than what I hope to get out of it. It’s how I want to show up right now, rather than what I want things to be in the future. Examples: I have an intention to be helpful and loving as I write this post; I intend to be mindful and appreciative of nature as I go out for a walk or run; I intend to be fully present with the person I’m talking to, compassionate and open-hearted with them. I bring this intention and try to let it inform how I work, how I do anything in the world.
  • The effort. Instead of worrying about how things will turn out, pay attention instead to how focused you are on it, how much effort you’re putting into it, how mindful you are as you do it. How much of your heart are you putting into it? How much love and care are you giving it?
  • The process. The outcome is a result of the process — if you’re not getting the outcome you want, focus on improving the process. How much care are you taking as you do it? How can you step up your game? Don’t worry about the outcome as much as you pay attention to how you’re doing things.
  • The moment. What is beautiful about this particular moment, as you do the action? What can you notice? Can you be curious as you do the act, instead of having a fixed mindset? What is there to appreciate about yourself, about the other person, about everything around you, right now?
  • Relationships. Much more important than the outcome is the relationship you have with the people you’re serving and working with, or your relationship with your loved ones. When you’re focused on the outcome, you often disregard the feelings of the people you’re working with, snapping at them when they’re not doing things the way you’d like. Instead, you can focus on your connection with them, on finding ways to make them enjoy the process more, on being loving or compassionate.

Think about how this might change things for you. If you’re working on a shaky new project, you can let go of how you might want things to turn out, and instead focus on how you want to show up, what is beautiful about the moment, having fun with the effort, playing and being curious, being more loving to yourself and others. This transforms every act, every habit, every project, every moment with others.

Do every act out of devotion and love, with letting go of attachment to the outcome.

My Mastery Academy at the World Domination Summit

I’ll be teaching an academy at next month’s World Domination Summit in Portland called “How to Create Mastery” … I’d love for you to join me.

Buy tickets to WDS here, or buy my academy à la carte on this page.

My academy will be from 1:30-4:30 pm on June 28 … here’s more about it:

We would like to pursue our mission, our purpose-filled work … but fear, uncertainty, discomfort, procrastination, distraction and overwhelm get in the way. In this academy, we’ll learn how to stay in the middle of that uncertainty, how to find focus in the middle of that chaos, how to create mastery in the middle of that fear and discomfort.

Leo will lead mindfulness practices and share mastery techniques for retraining the mind’s patterns so that we can push into the discomfort of uncertainty with love, and find mastery of our work so that we can serve those to whom we’re devoted.

You’ll learn:

  • What’s stopping us from finding focus on our mission
  • Mindfulness techniques for finding that focus in uncertainty
  • Mastery techniques for retraining the mind to practice those mindfulness techniques

You can attend my academy separately from WDS by getting a spot here (or buy tickets to the entire WDS event).

Thursday, May 17, 2018

When You Have a Voice Telling You You’re Inadequate

By Leo Babauta

This week I had conversations with a couple of loved ones who struggle with an inner voice that tells them that something is wrong with them. It made me think about many years where I felt this sense of inadequacy, a deep sense of not being worthy. I still struggle with it sometimes.

This is a particularly difficult problem, because it affects everything in our lives. It causes us to struggle with trust and insecurity in our relationships (personal and work). It makes us less happy with ourselves and more likely to catastrophize when something goes wrong.

This last bit makes it hard when we are working on improving our sense of self-worth, but then we mess up and because we have a feeling something is wrong with us, we are harsh on ourselves and our efforts fall apart.

So what can we do when we have this inner critic, this voice inside us that doesn’t seem to feel that we’re worthy?

There’s no magic bullet, but here’s what I’ve found to help.

The Practice of Self-Compassion

The first place to start is with the ancient meditation of compassion and loving-kindness. This is because when we have been beating ourselves up for years, there’s a deep sense of pain and a lack of kindness to ourselves. We need to reverse this, every day.

So the practice is just to take a minute every single morning (or evening), notice your pain, and silently wish for it to end. Wish for your own happiness. Then do the same for people you know.

For example, you might repeat each of these phrases three times, trying to genuinely feel these wishes in your heart:

  1. May there be an end to my suffering.
  2. May I be happy.
  3. (Thinking of someone you care about) May there be an end to their suffering.
  4. (Thinking of someone you care about) May they be happy.

What you’re cultivating is a capacity to care for yourself and others, to be kind, to be friendly and loving. This doesn’t immediately cure everything, but it’s a capacity we don’t often have, and by developing it over time, we are developing a new relationship with ourselves (and with others).

You can apply this anytime you’re having difficulty as well. Just pause when you notice you’re stressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, or hurting. Then wish for an end to your own suffering, and for your own happiness. Several times. With real feeling!

A Mantra to Replace Old Habits

One of the biggest problems here is that we have a story we tell ourselves, in our heads, about ourselves.

It might go something like this: “Gawd, I keep messing this up. What’s wrong with me? I can’t do anything right. I suck, I suck. I wish I wasn’t so terrible.”

Of course, your own story will be different, and you might have several versions of it depending on the situation. But the plain fact is, there’s a story we tell ourselves, and it’s not helpful. It makes us feel bad about ourselves.

If we’re doing this to ourselves, how do we stop? How can we flip the script and learn to be more positive?

First, you need to find some gratitude for your amazingness. There is an inner goodness in yourself that’s there all the time. Check on it now: see if you can notice, in the area where your heart is, not only a pain or stress but also a sense of tenderness. This is your tender heart, your basic goodness that’s there all the time. (It’s OK if you don’t notice it right now, check in several times today and see if you can notice that tenderness.)

This is your good heart, the part of you that loves the world, that wants to offer your incredible love to everyone, that wants to be happy and not hurt. It’s the part that feels hurts so acutely. It’s an amazing quality, and you were born with it.

Find gratitude for this goodness, and for all your other amazing qualities. List the things about yourself that you’re grateful for, instead of focusing on the parts you dislike.

Second, come up with a mantra to replace your unhelpful story. A mantra is something you can say to yourself repeatedly, but especially during times when you need it. It’s a new story, more helpful than the old one. It’s based on this sense of your own inner goodness, the gratitude for the amazing qualities you have.

For example, a mantra might be: “I have an amazing heart, and the world loves me.”

The mantra I’ve been working with is: “The world craves me and my gift.”

It helps, because it shifts how we see the world, shifts how we feel about ourselves. It’s based on this place of gratitude and inner goodness, and it radiates out to everything we do.

Set Yourself a Self-Care Challenge

Taking care of yourself is a loving act, and loving yourself in as many ways as you can is a good tonic for the self-harshness you’ve practiced over the years.

Set a challenge to do something to care for yourself every day for 30 days. That might include:

  • Spending time talking with people you love, who give you love
  • Setting healthy boundaries for yourself — saying no to people, setting limits to how much of yourself and your time that you give, using boundaries to take care of your mental and physical health
  • Do things that make you feel confident, from learning a skill that makes you feel competent to walking into a room with your head held tall, to strolling down the street like a silverback gorilla
  • Get support from others whenever you need it, asking for help, asking for someone to talk to, going to therapy if it helps, joining a support group, etc.
  • Do something that helps you cope with stress — meditate, go for a walk, exercise, do yoga, take a bath, massage your neck and shoulders, do some deep breathing, drink some hot tea

These are just a few ideas, but you get the picture. Taking care of yourself becomes your default mode, and when you are taking care of yourself, you start to feel better about yourself.

With a regular practice of self-compassion, a practice of gratitude towards your amazingness, a mantra that changes how you see yourself, and a regular habit of self-care, you’ll start to soothe the unhelpful inner voices and develop a new loving relationship with yourself.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

D-BAL Review

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Creating the Time to Do What You Love Every Day

By Leo Babauta

Our days are often filled with things we have to do, and things we do to comfort ourselves from the stress and tiredness from doing what we have to do … so we end up putting off what we really want to do.

Think about that for a second: our days are filled with have to do stuff, and comforting stuff. With very little room for things we love to do.

When will we find time to do what we love? When when things calm down, when the visitors leave and the trips we have planned are finished and the holidays are over and this busy project is wrapped up and the kids are grown up and we’re retired? Maybe when we’re dead there will be more time.

There will never be more time. Things are not going to change, get calmer or less busy. There will always be projects, trips, chores, errands, visitors, holidays, illness and death. What we’ve been stuck in for the last few months, the last few years — that’s exactly how life goes.

The challenge isn’t waiting for something to change … it’s making the time no matter what’s going on.

What do you really want to do, that you’ve been putting off? What do you love? What makes you happy, replenishes you, fills you up with joy, helps you fall in love with life? What connects you to the eternal? What is it that you feel you must do because life is too precious not to do it?

Some ideas:

  • Going for a beautiful walk
  • Reading
  • Meditating, doing yoga, journaling, reflecting
  • Hiking, biking, running, climbing, rowing, traipsing about
  • Creating, making, building, crafting, blogging, vlogging, logging, hogging
  • Communing with nature
  • Communing with loved ones
  • Communing with yourself
  • Creating or growing a business, a venture, an organization, a community
  • Making others’ lives better
  • Working on a skill
  • Growing vegetables, cooking, baking, arranging flowers, surfing, singing, drawing, imagining, making others laugh, taking care of animals, helping those in need, reading aloud to kids
  • Loving

So you’ve identified something you love doing, but you’ve been putting it off until the time is right … can you do it today?

What would open up in you if you knew for a certainty you were going to do this thing you love today? Even if only for 30 minutes?

Carve out that time. Do it now! Leo said so. Put it on your calendar, write a love note to yourself so you don’t forget, set a reminder, tell people you’re going to do it. And make. It. Happen.

Cut out some TV time. Cut out some Internet time. Cut out some time you spend on Facebook, messaging, email, chat, chores, shooting the breeze, drinking alcohol, smoking pot, eating snacks, whatever. Find the time, as if it were an imperative from the gods.

Make it something you can’t not do, because it’s so crucial to your life.

Do it every day for the next month, and see what changes. I challenge you to do it.

The May Do-What-You-Love Daily Challenge

If you’d like to join my challenge, you can just tweet that you’re joining the challenge on Twitter (use the #dowhatyoulovedaily hashtag) … or you can join my Sea Change Program and do the challenge with my members.

In May, my Sea Change Program is doing the Do-What-You-Love Daily Challenge … here’s what we’re doing to support each other:

  1. Commit to doing the challenge every day.
  2. Get 2-3 articles on the challenge in your email inbox.
  3. Weekly check-ins on Facebook.
  4. The ability to ask questions, support each other, share inspiration.
  5. A live video webinar by me on the topic, where you can ask questions.

The program is free for a week: Join Sea Change today!

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Prime Male Review

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