Exercise in extreme living ~ impersonate who you are not?

Extreme living ~ become a banker?

A few days ago, I suggested an experiment in extreme living: deliberately take a job you hate.  Why not?  Take a job you despise.  Become a banker or a politician.

Why would we want to live extremely?

A young member of the coaching world commented irritably – why would we want to do that?

Yes, indeed, all the the advice of the world of personal leadership is the same.  Be the person you want to be.

We can do what we don’t like because we trust ourselves not to be seduced by it

But the hallmark of someone who is utterly self-confident about their ability to find their purpose and meaning in life is that they can acknowledge what they are not. And they experiment with what they are not without fear that it will take over who they are.

Try this as a weekend exercise in extreme living

First do the simple personality test based on Paulo Coelho’s Virgin, Martyr, Saint or Witch?

Before you click to the other post, here are the three steps.

  1. Which are you: Virgin, Martyr, Saint or Witch?
  2. Which are you definitely not?
  3. Be what you are not for 1 hour this weekend – just one hour.

And if you can’t do one hour, try what you can.  5 minutes?

Grow your ability to live extremely weekend to weekend

Over time, the time that you can be what you are not, should grow longer.   And your assurance about who you are (with all the ridiculousness and humor of who you are will grow).

Once a week ~ impersonate who you are not?

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Be still

Learn to be quiet

Franz Kafka

You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait,
just learn to be quiet, still and solitary.
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Joseph Campbell

We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

The world is a match for us.  We are a match for the world.

It is all about finding the still point in your mind where commitment drops away.

P.S. Thanks to readers picking up the following post and it appearing in my side bar, I went back to what I had written 9 months ago.  This post on action and stillness has many useful links to the psychological and scientific literature.

Distance lends enchantment to the view

Burning out?

Advice from an ‘old hand’ to a ‘new teacher’ whose class got the better of him: in Goodbye Mr Chips, which I watched over the weekend.

“You have some hours before prep starts. Go out. Out there under the sky. Look around. What is the saying? Distance lends enchantment to the view. Go out. Come back refreshed.”

Paulo Coelho offers the same advice. Don’t spend the day looking down. Look to the horizon.

David Whyte has the same advice. Sometimes the answer depends upon a walk around the lake.

Then go out, look out, reach out

Whenever life is bad, look to the horizon. Close your eyes and listen to the furthest sounds that you can hear.

And if you can, do it when you first awake in the morning.  Do it in short 1 minute break at work.  Do it commuting on the way home.

Is that why you pay so much for a house or office with a view?

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“Go get your things. Dreams mean work”

I discovered Paulo Coelho this year. I am amazed I spent this long on this earth without finding his books.

His stories have mystical settings. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept is about a woman and her childhood sweetheart who meet up again in their twenties to make a hard decision: should they get together or should he follow his vocation into a Catholic seminary and a life as charismatic and healer?

All Coelho’s books (I think) have a happy ending, but not a silly ending.   After many trials, the protagonists resolve to take the high road: living in solidarity with this world. These may be mystical stories, but they are neither fantasies nor escapist.

And the trials faced by the characters are never gratuitous. Each in itself offers a perspective on relating to the world and, I think, the tension between commitment and uncertainty.

They are a remarkably “open” read too. He has a light style that draws you into the story. And then releases you from time to time to ponder what he or one of his characters has just said.

Wikipedia describes the book as “a week in the life of someone ordinary to whom something extraordinary happens”. Read it at the end of a long week to ponder extraordinary people who live ordinary lives.

Find your angel

For people with a mystical bent or open mind, Paulo Coelho‘s The Valkryies illustrates Csikszentimihaly‘s notion of negotiating the fit between oneself and the environment. Without spoiling the read, I’ve extracted some passages to show the process of remaining engaged with the world around us while we deal with the immediate pressures of life, of overcoming self-doubt, and then of moving forwards taking our cues from the place we are in. Paulo Coelho also has a blog with a daily message here.

Look to the horizon

“Okay,” . . . : I’m going to tell you what it is I wanted you to notice: All the people who passed by in the street were looking down.” (p. 37)

“All of us create a kind of ‘magic space’ around us. Usually it’s a circle of about fifteen-foot radius, and we pay attention to what goes on within it. It doesn’t matter whether it is people, tables, telephone, or windows; we try to maintain control over that small world that we, ourselves, create.” (p. 38)

Second mind

“Sit down, close your eyes, and I will show you what the second mind is,” . . . (p. 28)

“No, no. I want to know whether you’re thinking about something else. Something beyond your control.” (p. 30)

“A melody,” . . . “I’ve been singing this melody to myself ever since I heard it yesterday on the radio on our way here.” (p. 30)

“That is the second mind,” . . . “It’s your second mind that’s humming the song. It can do that with anything. . . . But the second mind is a tough thing to deal with. It’s a work regardless of whether you want it to be.” (p. 30)

“She had two minds. Functioning at the same time.” (p. 31)

“In order to penetrate the invisible world and develop your powers, you have to live in the present, the here and now. In order to live in the present, you have to control your second mind. And look at the horizon.” (p. 32).

“Gene asked her to concentrate on the melody that she had been humming. . . . Chris concentrated. In a few moments, the melody disappeared. She was now completely alert, listening to Gene’s words.” (p. 33)

“Don’t fight your thoughts. . . . Think about what they want you to think about until they grow tired.” (p. 76)

“Be patient, and listen to everything your second mind has to say. Don’t respond. Don’t argue. It will get tired.” (p. 79).

Channel

“Open the channel. Begin to speak.” (p. 87)

Seeking

“What will vanish is the idea that the mountains I have conquered are too small. I will be able to keep alive my love for what I have accomplished.” (p. 98)

Pact with defeat

“I am talking about your pact with defeat”

“We have a contract, you and I: not to win when victory is possible.”

“I have never made any such pact.”

“Everyone has. At some point in our lives. we all enter in to such agreement. That’s why there is an angel with a burning sword at the gates to paradise. To allow entry only to those who have broken that pact.” (p. 112)

“From the moment that you set foot outside,” . . . “promise, in the name of archangel Michael, never again – never again – will you raise your hand against yourself.”

“You will still have many problems in your life, some of them normal, some of them difficult. But, from now on, only God’s hand will be responsible for everything – you will interfere no more.” (p. 133).

“God has the right to destroy me. I do not.” (p. 135)

“He thought of the books he had written, and he was happy. The year would end without any problems – because the pact had been broken. There was no doubt that problems would arise in his work,in love, and along the path to magic – serious problems or passing problems . . . But from now on, he would battle side by side with his guardian angel.” (pp. 135-136)

Accept forgiveness

“God is love, generosity and forgiveness; if we believe in this, we will never allow our weaknesses to paralyse us.” (p. 245)
“Our defects, our dangerous depths, our suppressed hatreds, our moments of weakness and desperation – all are unimportant. If what we want to do is heal ourselves first, so that then we can go in search of our dreams, we will never reach paradise. If, on the other hand, we accept all that is wrong about us – and despite it, believe that we are deserving of a happy life – then we will have thrown open an immense window that will allow Love to enter. Little by little, our defects will disappear, because one who is happy can look at the world only with love – the force that regenerates everything that exists in the Universe.” (pp. 242-242)

Make a bet

I think I’ll probably be infatuated many more times . . . He felt no guilt about it. Infatuation was a good thing. It gave spice to life, an added to its enjoyment.

But it was different to love. Love was worth everything, and couldn’t be exchanged for anything”. (p. 225)

“Do you remember what you said? You said: “Look around, this is my face. I am the place where you are.” (p. 227)