More to Lose vs. Nothing to Lose

“You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be.”

Chuck Palahniuk

The thing about accumulating nice things and expensive tastes is that we have more to lose.

One bad house fire and everything we own turns into firewood. One unfortunately accurate tornado will take everything you own with it. A downturn of the market, or a new technology could make our jobs disappear. Of course, we shouldn’t spend our days worrying about natural disasters and others things that aren’t in our control. The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca once taught, “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” Worry sucks the energy out of our ability to do anything about it. Disasters may come, and all we can do is prepare for risks, prepare for the worst and put the worry away so we can go on with our lives.

Our stuff is so much more than just things too. It’s our memories, our expectations and ideals. It’s our desire to change and be better. Which is fantastic and beautiful, but can also hold us back if we aren’t paying attention.

And that’s the hardest part about losing nice things, we aren’t prepared to let them go.

Not letting things go is another form of worry. It holds us back from doing what we really want to do in life.

I recently read a short Zen Buddhist story about a guy named Badhiya (no idea how to pronounce his name. Bad-hi-ya?). He was a governor of a province wealth beyond imagine — soldiers at his command, money and power —but his friend persuaded him to leave it all behind and was ordained as a monk, with nothing but a mat, one bowl and three robes to his name.

One night Badhiya was meditating at the foot of a tree. Suddenly he uttered, the words, “Oh my happiness, oh my happiness.” It happened that another monk was sitting nearby. The other monk thought that Badhiya regretted having abandoned his position as governor.” The monk reported this to Buddha, thinking Badhiya has a problem, so the Buddha sent his attendant to invite Badhiya to come by. In front of a group of monks Buddha said, “Badhiya, is it true that last night during sitting meditation you pronounced two time the sentence, ‘Oh my happiness, oh my happiness’?” Badhiya said, “Yes, noble teacher, I did pronounce that sentence twice.”
“Could you explain to us why you have pronounced these three words during the night?” the Buddha asked. Badhiya said, “Dear teacher, when I was a governor my palace was guarded by hundreds of soldiers. But I was still very afraid. I was afraid robbers would come and kill me or at least take away all my valuables. So day and night I lived in fear. But last night I realized that now I have nothing to lose. I was sitting out in the forest at the foot of a tree, and never in my life have I felt so safe. Nobody wants to kill me anymore because I have no power, no wealth, and no jewels for anyone to take. I have nothing. Yet I finally have everything. I am touching such a great happiness and freedom. That is why I have pronounced the words, ‘Oh my happiness, oh my happiness.’ If I have disturbed someone, I am sorry.”

By having everything, he was afraid of losing it all. But by having nothing he was free.

Now, I’m not advocating for us to get rid of everything that we own and not enjoy the fruits of our luck and opportunity. I’m just suggesting that it’s unwise to be reliant and beholden to what we own and what tastes we build.

Here’s an example: Can you go even a day without coffee? I couldn’t. A few years ago, I even went on a trip to Thailand and brought mostly coffee supplies with me! I had the works: an electric kettle, a french press… you name it. I wasn’t always into coffee, but now all of a sudden I couldn’t live without it. Until last year. Last year I went off coffee for a full year.

I think it’s healthy to live without the unnecessary things we think we need to be normal and happy. What do you think you can’t live without? Nice clothes? Spotify and Netflix? Expensive wine or cocktails? None of these things are bad per se, but if they are controlling you, especially in negative ways, then they might be.

I still enjoy coffee and tea. I’m not going to forgo drinking it. I love the ritual of making it in the morning and sipping it slowly while reading. But I know now I can stop when I want to and I’ll keep testing what’s good and not good for me for the rest of my life. It reminds me of a quote from Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”

Action Step: What nice but unessential things can you practice living without?

The reason we might have more to lose is because we can end up letting our things own us.

Can we have nice underwear and a new iPhone while also having a ‘nothing to lose ‘ mindset?

Yes, but it requires thoughtful ongoing work. If we can take care of the abundance of things we have around us, while not being afraid to lose them, we can not let the unimportant things hold us back and keep us from living the life and impact we dream of achieving.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #722


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“Do What I Don’t”

“You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.”

John Steinbeck

Advice is a tricky business. Unless you can back up your advice with personal experience, hardly anyone will listen to you.

It sucks because their advice might be sound but because it’s not backed by anything, we won’t take it. Because what if it’s bad advice?

Armchair quarterbacking doesn’t inspire anyone. Well, not with positivity anyway. It might inspire you to do the opposite of what the person is saying.

Even if you are older, or in a position of higher authority, if you’re talk doesn’t match your walk, people will notice and won’t do it.

“The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If I were to pin it down to one reason why, I’d say it’s because advice that’s given without experience to back it up feels hollow and judgmental.

Humans have been giving each other unwanted advice to each other for millennia. The hunter-gather takes one look at his buddies fire and says ‘you should build a fire over here instead of there, bro’.

The bible has some similar insights on this: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. … Why do you look at the speck of dust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Sometimes, we’re the ones doing the armchair life coaching. We’re giving all this great advice but not taking it ourselves. Crap. (…you hypocrite!) The only way to resolve this is to heed our own advice. Giving advice means taking advice yourself.

Unless you can back up your advice with personal experience, no one is going to listen.

To be in a position to help others, you have to align your worlds with your actions. Back your advice with gold.

In essence, to change others, you have to be will and able to change yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #717


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Nothing Endures but Change

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

Unfortunately-fortunately, the change that endures isn’t always the change that we want. Sometimes change means ‘fewer clients’ and periods of financial angst and shower-crying sessions. Sometimes change means some fool not paying attention and slamming into the back of your car while you are running late.

And other times, changes looks like buying a dog, a new season of your favorite show, a new Drake album, dyeing our hair pink or moving to a new city.

Yet, when change enviable knocks on our door, we don’t always know if its good or bad. And as time goes on, change changes on us. (The nerve of it.)

It’s easy to desire change we think benefits us, and hard to accept change we think harms us, but it’s not always so cut and dry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to turn every negative into a positive. Some moments in our lives really do suck. Health issues that don’t go away… Someone taking advantage of us …
And yet, even when the nonsense stuff happens to us, we still need to find a way to resolve it and move past it.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can do the best we can do to seek the change that creates abundance in our lives, and learn to be steadfast when change pushes us around.

When I think back on my life so far, it’s often the short term, immediate pain, setbacks, failures and negative events that have blossomed into long term benefits and drivers. As painful as they may be in the moment, setbacks can change us for the better if we let them. It wasn’t long into my health and renaissance journey that I injured my neck in a bad way. It wasn’t the start of my health journey, but it was the catalyst that made me seek out health and wellness even more.

Change shows us what we have been neglecting. It shows us what’s important and what matters to us.

An injury that changes your trajectory in life.

A critique that drives you to get better.

A failure that forces you to start over.

I don’t wish ill of anyone, but I do hope you experience wonderful change in your life.

Life without change would become stagnant. Change, even the negative kind, can be a force we can use to create a positive impact on our lives.

“Nothing endures but change.”

Heraclitus

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #713


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Don’t Defeat Yourself

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.”

Peter Diamandis

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried? There’s many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is our mind.

Our mind is the foundation to any challenge or problem we face. Face off any two equally skilled athletes yet opposing mindsets — one who believes they can win and one who doesn’t or who has uncertainty — and the stronger, more open mind will always win.

Mindset a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if its because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our thoughts and self-defeating chatter is not a usual dinner topic in our society because our mind and our thoughts are not something others can hear.

Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or hot isn’t the best way to live. But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?

We are hostile to ourselves, especially when our outside world (be it work, family, finances, stress, etc) is baring down on us in times of failure and difficulty.

When we are feeling low, our negative self-defeating mind doesn’t pull any punches.

There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remember that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are the easiest person to defeat with our own mind if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.

One thing no one teaches us is that mindset is a skill to be practiced.

I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observe and listen to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABC’s and 123’s before we can write and read.

But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel peaks our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.

It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…

So what can we do to cultivate our mind?

We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.

We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.

We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.

We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.

We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.

Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts. Thoughts beget actions beget habits beget results.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

Buddha

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Henry Ford

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #712


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Simplicity in Character

“Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

🎶 And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand

Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied 🎶

Simple Man, Gary Rossington / Ron Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd

What do we truly need in this life? Air, water, nutrition, sleep, movement, and a functioning body, allow us the ability to live. Remove any one of these and we don’t survive for long.

Everything beyond this essential needs is extra. Sure, we can get less polluted air, cleaner water, better nutrition and sleep, optimal movement and body, but these are luxuries. We don’t get to choose where we are born, or what kind of circumstances we are born into. We tend to forget how lucky we’ve got it, in the midst of all the daily wants and desires we all face. (I use the word ‘face’ here intentionally. Not only do we face our own desires and ambitions, we also face the desires of others.)

It’s comforting to remember this on hard, stressful days. It’s particularly when you come home from a stressful work day, or get mentally hurt (on purpose or not) by someone —

You don’t need that job.You don’t have to be friends with people who hurt you or negatively influence you. At the end of the day, you’ll still survive if you decide to let go of something that’s not doing you any favors or lifting you up.

We all want more for our lives, but more is not worth diminishing our character.

Of course, living isn’t the same thing as being ALIVE.

I experience the world through my own eyes and shoes, but I’m certainly not the center of the universe. We are surrounded by other living beings like ourselves, who also want to thrive.

What do we truly need in this life to thrive?

+ A healthy body, mind and spirit.

+ A community of friends and family who mutually what each other to thrive in life.

+ Self-confidence and worth.

+ Humility for what we have (and don’t have).

+ Mind-full thoughts and intent.

+ Love and compassion.

+ Believe in something greater than just ourselves.

+ Purpose behind our steps and challenges to strive for.

+ Desire for wisdom and understanding.

+ Strong moral fiber and code.

+ Balance between satisfaction and pursuit.

+ Strength for the circumstances in front of us.

+ Work that excites our imagination and curiosity.

+ Wealth, time and energy to give to what we love

+ A chance to be bold and put a dent in what we can.

The details will look different for each of us, but our pictures looks similar.

Once we’ve got our bases covered, our goals is not only to cultivate our character to open up ourselves to pursuing a life of meaning. And helping and lift up others to do the same.

‘Thriving’ is a verb. Think of them each like a plant in a garden. To have these things, we must go after them and cultivate them.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #711


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Questions for Important Decisions:

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Important decisions usually don’t come with a whole lot of time to think about them. Going with our gut is always the better move, but knowing what your gut is saying is not always easy. The mind gets in the way.

It takes true courage to say no to a great opportunity. Every opportunity we have the chance to take is always a mix of hard work, timing and chance. Take two opportunities, but in an equal amount of hard work, and one will fail because of chance and the other will success because of chance. That’s why it’s important to follow our instincts. We might fail, but at least we followed who we are. Failure hones instinct just as sharp (if not more so) than success does.

Here are some questions we can ask to prompt an gosh darn honest response from ourselves:

Would I want to do this if it started tomorrow?


Does this align with my values and dreams?


Does this benefit everyone, or is this one sided?


If money needs were met, would I say yes to this?


If I say yes, what other things do I have to say no now? (Or what am I giving up by saying yes and is it worth it?)


Would my childhood self be proud if I did this?


Does this give me what I need, while also tickle my curiosity?


Take one or two you find useful. Or let these spark your own questions.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #708


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A Good Companion

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

They say a dog is a humans best friend. Being an owner of a dog, I completely agree. It’s hard to get a more loyal and happy companion than a your little furry friend 🐶.

However, I find it a little sad though. Because you would think, of all the people who would we our best friend, it would be ourselves. Shouldn’t we be our own best friend. Who is in better alignment with our dreams, thoughts, feelings, and emotions than ourselves? Shouldn’t we have the most sympathy and loyalty to ourselves?

And yet, we are usually our own worst critic. We don’t believe in our abilities. We think we can change, but never actually do. We hate who we are. We wear ourselves out with negativity, worry, regret, indecision and fear. And we even tend to go behind our own back without knowing!

How can we resolve this?

How do we become our own best friend?

First, we must learn who we are. It’s difficult to like someone who you don’t know anything about.

To do that, we have to be alone with ourselves.

Nature helps. Go be on the water or out in the woods. Rent a kayak, go for a hike or take a walk in the park. Motion helps too. A silent car ride on your way to work, or a road trip to the next town over. A morning bike ride or run. Do what you have to do to get yourself alone without technology or others.

Breathe. Be weird for a moment. Ask yourself questions. Listen for answers. Care about who you are. How would a friend treat you? What would a dog do? (W.W.D.D.?)

Second, we must learn to keep our past in the past. The past can cut us up daily. Maybe you’re not proud of a decision or moment in your past. Maybe a regret haunts you to this day. And, most of all, maybe you’re mad or resentful or envious about decisions someone else made to you or for you. How often do you let the past – something out of our control – rule over your day? One bad egg shouldn’t ruin the bunch. A head in the past has no bite in the present and no ambition for the future. Let. It. Go. Light a prayer lantern. Do a seance. Dance naked under the moon (please don’t do this). But serious, seek advice, seek council, find help. Let go of who you were, so you can be who are are.

Seek out ways to let go of your ghosts. They’ve gotten you this far, but you don’t need them any longer.

List out all the benefits you can think of for a difficult moment in your past has helped you. List all the downsides of it not happening.

Third, we also must learn who we want to be, and let go of any shortcomings or flaws we have and struggle with on our way towards our ideal self.

The goal is to be okay with who we are and what we’ve got to work with, while at the same time continuously pursuing a better version of our selfs.

I know, It’s a weird balance. There’s a lot of pitfalls that can get us stuck. The key is understanding that the ideal self is the goal, but never the end goal. The point isn’t to make our best self the end all be all. The point is to try with all of our might. The value is in the act of pursuit, not reaching a moment. The top of the mountain is fleeting. The top of the second mountain isn’t any more satisfying. The joy comes from the climb up. The pursuit of meaning is what matters.

If we can master these three things, AND have a dog — we’ll practically be unstoppable*.

(* until we die anyway)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #707


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Don’t Stop

“Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

Leonardo da Vinci

There’s an expression, ‘two steps forward, one step back’, that’s difficult to feel the depths of until you’ve felt the frustration being one step back.

Some days my goals feel like a plane strapped to my shoulders and I’m shoving with all my might to make a few steps forward.

It’s worth asking yourself, when you are metaphorically (or physically) pulling, lifting and otherwise maneuvering a heavy object, whether or not you actually want too in the first place.

Not every goal we have is our own. Some come from our culture, like buying a new car. Some come from our parents or our childhood, like meeting an expectation that they never could themselves. And some even come from other people, who pitch their goals so well you want in too. Not only if these are bad. Inspiration can lead us to new directions and a life we never dreamed of. But we need to make sure it’s something we want for ourselves (and ultimately the world) too.

Pulling a goal is hard; Pulling one you don’t even like is worse. Because what if you succeed and don’t like where you end up?

Pulling a goal that yours though is worth every drop of blood, tears and sweat though.

Any doubt in yourself and you stop moving. Negative thoughts are always try to get in the way. If it’s your goal – truly your goal – then it’s worth it. The only way forward is to not stop. If we stop, we rust. An inch one day. Nothing the next. A slight turn that felt impossible. A step backwards the next. Every effort counts. It all adds up to your story and your impact on my story.

The people who make it furthest in life with their dreams and pursuits are the ones who don’t stop. (Or maybe the ones too dumb to stop. :P)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #705


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One Kick, Ten Thousand Times

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Bruce Lee

It takes an enormous amount of effort to reach mastery. In order to get there, we must come attack it from all sides and every nook and cranny (You know, I have no idea what a cranny is… a cranky granny?).

Not all of us have the luxury to hone our crafts all day. (If you do, cherish it, don’t waste it.) Some of us have full-time jobs, and other responsibilities to do that can easily get in the way of our passions and goals. But all is not lost. We may not be able to practice ’10,000 kicks’ at once, but we can practice a 1+ kicks consistently overtime.

All we need to do is cultivate a daily practice.

A daily practice can fit into even the busiest schedule. We could bookend our days with a morning practice or evening practice. (Or, if we’re feeling crazy, a morning and evening practice.) How many little moments of time do we waste on any given day? If our practice is portable — for example a daily writing practice — we can fit it into the pockets of our day where we aren’t doing anything. Instead of worrying about being late on our way to work, we can focus our energy elsewhere on our practice. Instead of fuming with rage at the stupidity of the person in front of us trying to self-checkout at the grocery store, we can let it go and think about our practice. Even non-mobile practices have mobile components we can mentally noodle on. Maybe we can’t practice yoga in line at the DMV, but we can mentally go through our practice, or memorize a few Sanskrit words, or watch a YouTube video on a new move we can test out later.

Find the pieces of your craft you can take with you anywhere and practice.

And always bring a notebook with you wherever you go.

One day of playing piano isn’t going to do much for you.
But what about ten days? Hundred days? One thousand days?

The older we get, the quicker time seems to pass. We could complain about that, or we could use it to our advantage.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #697


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Being self-made is overrated

“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.”

Paul Ryan

The problem, or perhaps the privilege, of being born is that we come into this world with a mental blank slate. Sure, we’ve got our innate basic instincts, our DNA and our own unique character traits. But we don’t know what we got ourselves into being by born.

We don’t come out of the womb knowing how to use a spoon, or drive a car, or how to look up questions on Google. Which means every kid born today (just like we did) has to start from scratch to learn the ABC’s of life. With so much going on nowadays, it’s easy for me to forget that in one point in my life I didn’t know how to tie my shoes, and riding a bike was a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

There’s a small bit of pride we should take from coming so far in life. Not that knowing how to use a spoon makes us unique, but our capacity to learn, and learn a lot relatively* quickly is a powerful thing and interesting to think about. (*human to humans anyway. Computers have us beat.)

Knowledge is passed down to new generations through teaching (verbally or written). To make things more complicated, knowledge is not distributed equally. Natural silos obscure and diffuse information from being easily accessed. Why weren’t we all taught how to eat healthy or how to invest in the stock market? Well, because not all of those who came before us (some being our parents) knew how to do those. Some did, some didn’t. (That would be a great one sentence history book of humanity: Some did, some didn’t.)

A wealthy family might know, but perhaps you weren’t born into a wealthy family. Or a grandmother might be able ‘to teach you a thing or two about nutrition’… the problem is she wasn’t your grandma, she was someone else’s. Essentially: We have to RELEARN EVERYTHING for ourselves.

There’s great value for learning and doing things yourself. Initiative is hard to teach. You’ve gotta want the vision for your life so badly that you’d give all your time, energy and attention towards achieving it.

Being self-made is rewarding, but it’s also lonely. It gives you creativity, clever thinking skills and resiliency, but without friends to share it with, what’s the point? I think we can have it both ways. We can pursue the things we love, be independent while also be willing to work better with others.

Be self-made, together.

We can go much further with like minded individuals who got our backs and want us to succeed then we can go it alone.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #691


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