A Brain Hack That Will Change Your Perspective On Life (part 1)

“The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come,” says Joseph Campbell, famous teacher of mythology.  He is referring to the ancient symbolism of snakes shedding their skin as a metaphor for inner growth and shedding away old habits or ways. He goes on to say, “if you want resurrection, you must have crucifixion…We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

In my previous blog, “Transformation”, I wrote about how I learned at a young age that making millions of dollars doesn’t exactly equate to my overall happiness. Personally, I believe there are three types of lifestyles that equate to different levels of happiness- pleasure, purpose, and pride. Yes, pride can equate to happiness! Although, we are taught to believe wealth is success, most times this mindset can weigh us down (unknowingly)  and ultimately cost us to our joy. Sure, financial freedom is a blessing, but it doesn’t guarantee that I will be a million times happier than a homeless man on the street. Pretty extreme scenario, right? In fact, I’ve known some people who find ways to happiness through other ways without money.  The happiest, most joyful people I have ever met do have ambition and pride (which ultimately leads to wealth), but also love God and live for something bigger than themselves.

homless man.jpg

So what is true happiness? Did making millions of dollars bring joy? How do you break free from a dull life?  Or from a meaningless life? How can you be happier being at service for something other than yourself, when you don't actually feel what the recipient feels? This famous yoga teacher I worked with from India, ends class with a four-minute meditation that includes laughter and words of gratitude. When I first did it I felt like I was with the walking dead, as people were talking to themselves like zombies. Turns out, he understands that making the decision to laugh and acknowledge your value convinces your brain that you are indeed happy and blessed. He's teaching me ways to live a more pleasurable life.

Have you ever thought that a poor man who connects with God is happier than the professionals who walk past him with their fancy clothes and nice cars?  Let’s use another example. Compare a well-respected millionaire with 3 jobs, a 10 acre house, and a beautiful wife to a park ranger who loves nature (and everything it provides), stands up for causes throughout the community, indulges in God on weekends, but lives alone in a cheap RV.  Who do you think is happier? You can definitely make the case for the guy with the beautiful wife, but I’m willing to bet all my money on the park ranger because he’s conquered the biggest fear of them all: the fear of his peers and what they think. The ranger is doing only what brings himself pleasure and not what will make other people think a certain way of him. Without going too far into details, this is an extreme case of pride vs. purpose (as both may be happy in different ways). In short, if you can manage to blend your lifestyle goals with mindful pleasure, intuitive purpose, and some ambitious pride, you've found your pot of gold. Can I get an amen!? Hahaha.

Comparison is a thief of joy. To become a world class athlete, it took many hours vigorous training, unexpected sacrifices, and lots of maturation. Yes, these sacrifices paid off (in ways many I couldn't imagine), but was it at the expense of my joy, laughter, and inner growth? Without going into details, it sure was, until I decided to shed the old skin and embrace the new. I had to stop comparing my career to the kids who committed to Kentucky and eventually got drafted ahead of me, or the teammate who always came into the locker room with the wildest lifestyle stories, or even the $600,000 Bugatti that teammates parked next to me everyday before practice. Like my favorite artist J Cole would sing, “Ain't no such thing as a life that's better than yours, because there's real beauty in the struggle.” If my journey hasn't taught me anything, it's showed me that it's impossible to embrace how special you are, while wishing to be like another. Be confident in your strengths, admit your weaknesses, but understand that comparison is a battle you can never win. In short, focus on your value because comparison is an act against self (which ultimately reduces happiness and productivity).

To Be Continued......