Category Archives: Authenticity

Sometimes, Having ADHD Really Sucks

There are times when having ADHD really is a blessing. For whatever reason, when we were born our wiring was different. The advantages of this wiring is that we tend to exhibit a higher degree of creativity and dimensional thinking, among other traits.

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I like to think that mankind would never have progressed without people whose wiring was different. ADHDers are risk takers, adventurers, explorers, inventors, creators. We will walk into the unknown places and dive into the world of shadows.

While this insatiable hunger for novelty has led to incredible cultural progress, the dark secret is that we must walk into the line of fire because our brains need the stimuli.

Let’s face it, boredom feels like a kind of slow and torturous death. Routine, structure, linear systems and thinking…these are the bane of existence for an ADHDer. And yet, to make our way in this world, we need to manufacture a way to build structure.

This process is maddening. For most normies keeping a calendar or mowing through a list of priorities, balancing a checkbook, remembering to walk the dog, or keeping a closet orderly are fairly simple and easy tasks. Not for the ADHDer. Activities like these are as difficult as crossing the Pacific Ocean in a row boat.

Undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD is really messy. And, it really sucks. The longer it goes unrecognized and not addressed, the worse it gets, the crazier we feel, the weirder people think we are.

We screw up relationships, lose jobs, isolate, get depressed, live a life of not so quiet desperation.  Statistically we know that these things are true. If we continue to be round pegs trying to fit into square holes the frustration and dissatisfaction will continue to grow.

So what can we do? How can we put this mad life to an end and begin living a life that we love? I think there are four important things we have to do to set the stage for living a satisfying, soul quenching life.

Don’t fear a diagnosis. Embrace it. The moment you accept that you have a neuro-biological medical disorder called ADHD, the better off you will be. There is a reason why you act impulsively, forget stuff, and have difficulty keeping your desk organized. Embracing the diagnosis brings relief and clarity, opening the door to a new possibility for a satisfying, authentic life.

Take care of your brain. That is, do what you can do to improve brain function. Take your meds, vitamins and supplements. Eat healthy foods and cut the junk.  Exercise. Meditate, Take breaks, especially after a period of intense mental activity. Reduce bad stress. Quit worrying. Seek forgiveness.

Practice spirituality. A spiritual connection is essential. This connection helps us to get out of our heads, focus on a purpose bigger than ourselves, see to the needs of others, fill the emptiness inside of us, provide  sustenance to our souls.  Whatever your spiritual connection might be, practice it daily. The spiritual connection can help bring sanity to what might seem a crazy life, can create grace and mercy where there was once admonishment and self-destructive negativity, cover us in love rather than blame.

Take directed action daily. Have a goal and work toward it. Do at least one thing each day that brings you closer to this goal. Something you may have to do is take a look at what you are doing. Are you in a job that takes best advantage of your skills and natural talents? Are you in a mutually supportive relationship? Take a look at the life you’re currently living – is it authentic? What doesn’t fit? Will you make the changes you need to have the life you love? Directed action every day will take you deeper into what strengths you need to nurture, and what things you need to let fall away.

None of these things are easy, but, you are an amazing creation of God. You have everything you need right now to succeed. Get real and get help. Having ADHD doesn’t have to suck.

Loving the Life You Live

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

MasqueHmm. In a recent survey by British phone maker, HTC, 75% of people  said they make their lives seem more exciting (than what’s real) on social media.

That probably isn’t too astounding to believe. It’s been drilled into our heads to not trust what we read on the internet, right? A little embellishment is okay, isn’t it? We expect that, don’t we?

What about this: according to the Society of Human Resource Managers, 53% of resumes have a falsification. Mix into this the fact that worldwide twice as many hate their jobs compared to those who like what they are doing.

How about this: GlobalWebIndex reported that 42% of those using Tinder (an online dating site) were married.

There’s so much more. There is a study or survey on everything.  A lot of it isn’t promising.

Why not? Why aren’t we loving the lives we lead?

Generally speaking we all have something in our lives that is satisfying. Some more than others. And life satisfaction isn’t really tied to money. Granted, having enough than not enough contributes to overall satisfaction, but only fractionally (Gallup reported that of those making $125,000 or more only 60% were satisfied). In employee surveys financial compensation is typically way down on the list of why someone is happy in their jobs.

Early in my career I had worked hard in creating a merger between the organization I led and another local entity. It took over a year to navigate the deal – but once it was consummated, I was named the executive director for the new organization, doubling my salary. And the moment it happened I could feel the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I knew this wasn’t going to be the right fit. I endured for two years, finally resigning. I began living a life meant for someone else – I was bored, dissatisfied, and cranky.

Thoreau said that most men live lives of quiet desperation. That’s the thing, isn’t it? All too often adversity happens. We make choices in response to that adversity. Suddenly, 20 years later, we’ve lived that life of quiet desperation. Maybe we’re satisfied with certain things – but overall there is a lot of things we would change.

We don’t get do-overs, though, do we? Or…do we?

In doing research I have scanned many many prescriptions for living a life we love. Common themes emerged – some obvious, some surprising. Shockingly, there were a few no-brainers that didn’t make anybody’s list. Maybe I was shocked because the omitted items were things my grandmother, Babe, taught me.

The most basic thing we need to grasp is that loving the life we live is proportional to the positivity of our attitude about life. To that end, here are the pillar concepts:

Live for today, in the moment. Some call this “being present”, Life is lived in a never-ending state of NOW. Life happens NOW, in the moment. Jesus said don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow – there is enough to think about today. Grandma Babe said to take time to smell the flowers (and you may as well pick a few while you’re standing in her garden).

Being PresentBe grateful. Cultivate in your heart a feeling of generalized gratitude by daily considering those specific things in your life for which you can give thanks. In fact, do this: when you wake up in the morning, immediately give thanks that you are alive and breathing. Give thanks for having shelter, food and the other stuff inside your walls. Give thanks for all the people who love you – and whom you love. Do that daily. The gratitude mind-set will seep in. Babe would say, “Be happy you were born in America and not (fill in the fascist country of your choice)”.

Be true to yourself. Sometimes it is hard to drill down through all the ideas about life you’ve adopted based upon reactive choices, or by being influenced by people close to you. But, the treasures are there. You can hear them whispering at the edges of your consciousness. Sometimes they shout at us. Either way, you know. The truth – your truth – is there, in your heart. I’ve written an entire section on this subject in my book, Blazing into the Creative Wilderness. The basic is something my grandmother told me, “Follow your heart. The rest isn’t really worth your time.”

Give. Human beings, at our core, tend to be selfish. We’re focused on our survival. But, there is also this little bit of magic in us that let’s us see others, too.  We begin by giving to those around us, the people we love. For most of us, we receive love in return.  As we grow and gain experience, we learn that the more we give, the more we receive. It isn’t always reciprocal with everyone, but the scales balance eventually. There is an ebb and flow. Babe was a giver. More than anything else, she gave love. Even now, many years after she passed away, she’s still giving to me, and her memory continues to wrap me in her warmth.

Love. It’s simple to say and hard to do. Love isn’t an emotion – it is a choice. It encompasses giving, forgiving, listening, receiving, and so many other things. Grandma was married to my grandfather, Herb, for 55 years. It wasn’t always easy. They survived the depression, world wars, and so many other adversities. But, they had love. Love for each other, for their children, for their community.

Laugh. As Babe told me, it was the secret to being married to the same human being for 55 years.

Love God. Jesus gave two great commandments to His disciples that sum it all up: Love God with all your mind and your heart, and love others as you love yourself. Pretty simple. Despite the secular humanism and relativism that pervades modern culture, by and large the most successful and happiest people believe in God, or at least a universal power that was far greater than themselves. What’s interesting to me is that each of the pillar concepts in this list describe some aspect of our limited understanding of God.

300px-Hands_of_God_and_AdamObviously there are many other things to consider, nuances, things specific to your situation. But, by focusing on these pillars you’ll be well on your way to loving the life you live. Don’t take my word for it – trust Grandma Babe.

 

The Value of Plan B

plan-763855_1920The creative process is messy.

The journey you will take toward giving authentic expression to your creative voice is rarely a straight line. You may begin at Point A, completely miss Point B, and end up at point D. The road will be filled with potholes, pit stops and occasional smooth pavement. There will always be bumps.

One of the most influential people in my life is a man named Richard King. When I was in high school, and had just discovered the freedom that writing could bring, Richard encouraged me. It meant something coming from Richard because he had creative chops of his own.

A singer/songwriter with an amazing voice, Richard wrote songs for numerous country music stars during the 1970’s, including Mel Tillis and Roy Clark. Richard also appeared on stage in Las Vegas. It was a rocky road, though. As Richard would tell it, “I had terrible stage fright – it would take a lot of whiskey to give my performance courage.”

That path was unsustainable, so his creative expression took another form. Besides music, Richard also had a gift for designing and crafting very high end pieces of jewelry. Each original piece was a work of art – and he made his living making custom rings for many years in his Northern California studio.

The music industry is a tough business. Richard had the stuff to be a star – but it was messy and extracted a price he no longer wanted to pay as a performer. His Plan B, though, not only made for a nice living, but still fulfilled the creative expression his soul needed.

And he never gave up music. In fact, he had a small recording studio in his home. He even occasionally played local gigs for charity.

Richard always had – and still has – a certain star power, It just wasn’t on the road he originally set upon.

You see it in most creative types – a diversity of interests and talents. Jessica Simpson designs clothes. Ice-T is a rapper turned actor. Stephen King plays guitar in a band. NFL star Vernon Davis is also a gifted visual artist.

Sometimes Plan A and Plan B run side-by-side. Sometimes they merge. Sometimes Plan B becomes Plan A or Plan C.

The secret is to be open to new ideas, new thought, new action. Richard’s path was his own and chosen with conscious intent.  It was authentic, allowing him true expression.

There was tremendous value in his Plan B – and there will be value in yours. Plan B doesn’t mean forsaking a dream – it could mean writing novels instead of screenplays, or painting murals instead of portraits. It could also mean directing plays instead of playing the lead. Whatever it is, if chosen with integrity it is the right and true choice for you.

Success & the Law of Attraction: The Missing Link

When The Secret exploded into our popular culture, the Law of Attraction was suddenly everywhere. Even Oprah weighed in.

There was nothing new about the Law of Attraction. This wisdom has been around for thousands of years. “As a man thinketh, so he is” comes to mind. We really do create our own reality because everything begins with a thought.  If we think negative thoughts, the world will seem dreary, lonely and everyone will call you Eeyore.

On the other hand, if our thoughts are positive, we will have a tendency to attract positive things into our lives. In fact, through the science of positive psychology it is proven that those with sunny dispositions tend to have happier, more prInspiredLightningoductive lives.

However…many who have attempted to implement the Law of Attraction have been sorely disappointed when the man/woman of their dreams remains in silent slumber, their checking account still comes up short at the end of the month, and their best vacation option is a long weekend at the Motel 6 in Bakersfield (that’s right, “Sun, Fun. Stay, Play!).

What the purveyors of the Law of Attraction didn’t tell you is that there is a part 2 to making this concept work. Yes, you need to see it and believe it, up your ante on vibration, and open your mind to the possibility of new possibilities. After all, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve.” Thank you Napoleon Hill. This is truth.

What is also true is that you can’t just stop at naming and claiming. There is some work involved. Here are the three things you need to do after you send your request to the great distribution center of the universe.

Gain knowledge. So you want to be an internet gazillionaire? Terrific! After you put in your request, start learning how online commerce works. Sign up for Wealthy Affiliate, read Online Marketing for Dummies, find yourself a hungry Millennial who can show you the ropes.  Whatever it is your heart desires, you best be learning how it works, discover the nuances, and learn the dance you’ll have to do to manifest your dreams.

Gain skill. As you add knowledge, put the knowledge to use. This is the action part. To be an internet gazillionaire you will need a website. You will need to be a marketer. You’ll probably need to write copy and do design work. You’ll need to Like, Tweet and Post. In other words, you’ll need to work. If the work follows your dream, it won’t feel like work at all. Hopefully it will be a joyful exercise in fulfilling your deepest desires.

Get connected. Internet gazillionaires don’t live in a vacuum. They aren’t shacked up at a cabin in the woods or live in a silent monastery somewhere in the Italian Alps. They are connected to people. Key people. They have a community. Find yours. This is actually the scary part for a lot of people. We’re afraid that we won’t measure up, won’t be accepted, won’t be taken seriously. We fear rejection. Keep this in mind: everybody experiences this in one way or another…so, if everyone experiences this, we’re all equal! Reach out to a potential mentor. Ask questions, As you receive, be willing to give. Be reciprocal. Pretty soon you’ll attract your community.

In my book, Blazing into the Creative Wilderness, I go into each of these three areas. Check it out if you want more detail.

Whatever you do, don’t just focus on part one of the Law of Attraction. Make the elements of part two a daily ritual. Within time you’ll be living the life you love.

 

Living to Work, or Working to Live?

It’s so strange…

In survey after survey the findings are eerily the same: most American workers don’t like their jobs. In a 2014 survey prepared by The Conference Board, and reported by Forbes, only a little more than half of the people working actually like what they are doing.

They live to work. The job is a paycheck.

There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. In fact, so many consider themselves lucky to have a job at all. I know many who were devastated by the Great Recession, some of whom were out of work for many, many months (some, years). They feel fortunate they have the job they are in now. But, two things can be equally true – they may feel fortunate, but they also would rather be doing something else. Something that fulfills them authentically.

What is it for you?

It’s said that Carl Jung (the anti-Freud) thought it was most fortuitous when one of his patients had lost his job. That’s when the real work could be done. What would be possible if you did the work before that happened? What if you started right where you are today?

Given the landscape today, with uncertainty being the only thing that is certain, most agree that we should all have a back-up plan. For many that plan includes having a gig on the side.

Some people invent things. Others write for blogs. I imagine that some still sell Amway and Herbalife. Some study to get their real estate license, others go back to school.

All of that is cool. Deciding to create a separate gig is part and parcel with the journey toward the authentic life – the life you love to live.

For me it is writing. I’ve always written – even in the jobs I didn’t like all that much. Writing has always been at the core of what I do. And now, with Blazing Mind, I write about the things I care most about – helping others realize their potential, encouraging them to grab their brass ring, follow their bliss.

For me ( and thousands of others, it seems), I discovered a community called Wealthy Affiliate. My objective is to establish Blazing Mind as a brand that people will trust. To do that I needed the knowledge and tools to accomplish this goal. I’ve found that at Wealthy Affiliate.

It’s like a university where one can learn just about everything there is to know about online marketing. The trainings are complete and diverse. What I didn’t expect is the supportive community – you’re never on your own.

And it’s free to join.

At no cost you can receive the basics. If you want to pay a little you get a lot more. If a part of your dreams is to establish an online business, I recommend Wealthy Affiliate.

But, whatever it is that’s whispering in your ear, whether it’s something that has taken silent residence in your soul since you were a child, or it’s something that caught your interest last weekend – whatever it is – you owe it to yourself to investigate and take action.

If you’re tired of living just to work, if you’re a part of that 53% hating what they are doing – take the first step toward your dream today. Maybe you’ll strike gold, maybe you’ll just gain more knowledge. Either way, you won’t regret taking that step.

Just like drawing a paycheck, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

Is a Spiritual Connection Really Needed?

Does leading an authentic life really require a spiritual connection?

If you are a seeker like me, you’ve pretty much witnessed that every teacher, guru, New Age purveyor and/or life coach has connected authenticity with spirituality. Are they right? Is this a necessity?

There are many that shudder and cringe at the mere mention of “spirituality”. What’s interesting to me is that in conversations I’ve had with friends from differing backgrounds, all too often atheists and Born Agains often have the same reaction to the modern use of the word “spirituality”.

The Godless ones believe we’re just skin and bones with a brain, the ultimate creation of evolution. There is no higher power or spirit beyond self that’s running things. My Born Again friends believe the modern definition of spirituality is much too broad and all-inclusive, a direct contradiction to their “turn or burn” ethos.

Hmm. Where does that leave us?

Most of the successful people I have known did, indeed, believe in some kind of higher power. The attitudes I illustrated above are extreme ends of the spectrum. Most of us dwell somewhere in the middle – and our relationship with spirituality is as complex as it is individual.

Whether it is an all-knowing celestial benefactor, walking on the water messiah, or a pantheon of gods playing dice with our souls, the common theme I have seen is that there is agreement that there is something bigger than ourselves.

And at the core of this belief is a shared experience of morality. From this I find the next agreement: The authentic life is inherently moral.

I think it is best said that, while we are all so different, we share basic agreements about morality. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Definitely don’t commit murder or commit otherwise senseless violence. Respect another’s property and relationships.

We all pretty much agree on these things. But, beyond the rightness or wrongness of things, there is one practical thing to consider: lying, cheating and stealing simply don’t work.

Sure, anyone can get away with this type of behavior for a while. But, when it is discovered there will be wreckage and chaos and hurt. Separation will occur until the amends are made, a new pattern of behavior is established, and forgiveness is offered. Even then trust may be hard to re-establish.

I have a friend that runs an alcohol and drug treatment facility. He has told me that the main cause of addiction and the horrible wreckage it inflicts is all due to a “spiritual break”. It’s a loss of internal integrity, seeking meaning through artificial means. A facsimilie for real life.

From what I’ve seen and experienced, an authentic life does require a belief in something bigger than ourselves – in fact, I think it requires a commitment to this higher calling. It’s been proven time and again that when we place our focus on helping others get what they want and need, our needs typically are well met. This principle is basic to business success. It’s also true in one-to-one relationships.

So, maybe one definition of spirituality as it applies to authentic living is our connection to that which is larger than us – an unseen energy that we can nevertheless feel in our hearts.

Therefore, authenticity seems to require getting over ourselves, This is a simplistic answer. Throughout this site there are different ways to explore the complexities of leading an authentic, fulfilling life. But, maybe we can agree that having a calling bigger than ourselves is valuable and important.

Does that mean having purely personal goals are inconsistent with leading an authentic life? Of course not. In fact, they are essential! In the next post I’ll explore why this is so.

The Inner Oracle

Know thyself.

This ancient advice is at the heart of every sacred belief system known to man. Knowing thyself – self-truth. This is the basis, the deep-rooted foundation of living an authentic life.

So, the first agreement must be this: know your own mind. Know your own heart. Know the content of your soul.

It’s a simple and profound truth: accept yourself.

And yet, how many people do you know that lead lives of self-delusion? Or, they’re stuck in jobsmarriagesrelationshipslives they don’t love? Maybe you’re in that space, too? Lord knows I’ve been there. In fact, I think most move in and out of authentic living. We’re constantly searching, seeking, surviving. Maybe we get caught up in other people’s dreams for our lives. Parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, friends, pastors, gurus…a lot of people thin they know what and how our lives should be. I’ve been there, too. We all have.

I can think of two profound times when I said “yes” and “I do” when I should never have uttered those words. In fact, I recall knowing that those decisions were completely wrong for me…and yet I went ahead anyway. In both scenarios I was ripping off others and myself. I was never “all-in”. I did a good job of making the most of both situations, but there was a lack of integrity at the core – and neither lasted. Both were based on “should”.

I should want this job. I should want this relationship…

Second agreement: There are no shoulds in an authentic life.

Survival is fraught with the word should. We do things because we think that’s our only choice. We get stuck in a job we hate because the rent has got to be paid. We stay in bad marriages because we don’t want to be lonely or give up security or we’ll hurt the kids, or whatever the excuse is. Those are big things, but survival is dripping with myriad small situations in which we don’t tell the truth in order to simply get along. The little lies mount and gather a kind of heavy gravity that pulls our souls into the basement. Pretty soon we’re stuck down there with all the ghosts of lives we never led.

It takes courage to say “no” to survival, and “yes” to an authentic life. It takes courage to leave your job to start a business. It takes monumental courage to transform a marriage. It even takes courage to say “no” to hanging out with relatives you don’t really want to be around during the holidays. It takes courage to say “yes” to carving out 20 minutes a day to meditate, write or do something you enjoy – especially when you have a husband/wife/SO/kids clamoring for the undivided attention you normally provide at their demand. It takes courage to upset the apple cart.

Third rule: Authenticity requires saying “no” to survival and “yes” to life.

This is a start. Maybe I’m going down the wrong track here, but it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong. Next post I’ll go deeper into this. I think the surface has only been scratched.

The Authentic Life…?

In doing research for my next book, I started seeing a trend. The “authentic life” is the buzz in the self-help world.

Seems like every life coach, meditation expert, creative consultant and self-help blogger is writing about the need to live authentically. I’m not immune, either. Heck, in the sub-title of my book I claim that if one follows what I’ve presented, an authentic life can be had. I stick by that claim…

But, I began wondering, what does having an authentic life actually mean?

Most of the stuff I read was either framed in the context of religion/spirituality, or via some type of new age belief system. Of course, this got my mind going…what if one wasn’t religious or particularly spiritual? In fact, does morality even come into play when considering “the authentic life”?

For example, I would argue that Donald Trump has led an extraordinarily authentic life and he doesn’t strike me as being exceptionally spiritual (I could be wrong, of course). Just seems like Trump is who Trump is, makes no bones or pretense about it. Of course, that authenticity is already being tested in this political season. Guess we all have our trials.

Then I started thinking about other folk, people who were really coming from left field – like Salvador Dali or Ayn Rand. Both led colorful, push-the-envelope lives that can only be described as authentic. Dali was, well, Dali. And Rand invented Objectivism. Neither was particularly spiritual (Dali was an agnostic and Rand an atheist). Would their lives fit into the current ethos?

So, maybe I’m missing something. Seems like “the authentic life” has nothing to do with morality or right and wrong. I mean, couldn’t a criminal lead an authentic life? Maybe not one that you or I would live, but…

Or, maybe we define having an authentic life based upon a set of agreed upon principles and ideas. I’ll go there next post in my quest to define exactly what is meant by having an authentic life.