Fear keeps us small.

I will explain what you’re about to see, below.

I’ve always believed that fear keeps us small.  It limits our vision. It keeps our breath shallow.  Rather than allowing us to delve into the moment and appreciate the way the light so elegantly falls onto the scene in front of us, it keeps us fixated on often irrelevant and imagined things.

A big part of my life philosophy is to try and recognize areas of fear in my life and confront them. Whether that be gradually such as correcting my bad posture because of social anxiety, or radically like tackling my fear of skydiving by, well, skydiving!

However, sometimes defense mechanisms built and reinforced over the span of years keep us blind to that which is right in front of us.

I had a healthy reminder of this the other day with singing.

I’ve always liked to sing, but I’ve never felt confident about my singing. Most family and friends have poked fun at my bad singing, which of course never helps.

But then, several days ago, I got a taste of freedom from the singing anxiety prison that I’ve been living in all these years. And it was glorious.

During this moment of absolute freedom, I had two major realizations about myself and singing.

The first was that I was too focused on other people’s reactions while I sang. I gave them the power to accept me or reject me, and I would live with their arbitrary verdict.  Wastefully, I gave all of this conscious energy to monitoring someone’s reaction instead of dedicating my energy to singing, which leads me to the second reason:  I didn’t fully use my diaphragm to support my air flow, which made my singing worse and kind of perpetuated the cycle.

So several nights ago, I was hanging out with my friend Joao, and we were jamming together. Somehow, it was in that moment I realized I needed to conquer my fears, and I cut my ties with my anxiety about singing.  I was finally present. As he strummed his guitar to a reggae beat, I started to sing, and it was beautiful. I’ve never felt so connected to another musician like that before. Everything felt so right about every note we played together. I quickly grabbed a pen and jotted down the words that I felt in that moment.

I now know I can sing. Hell, I know I’m not the best singer, but now I have the confidence to stop worrying about what others are thinking about me and just let it happen.

Below are the lyrics that I wrote:

” Don’t forget that one day you’ll die,

No more time for experience,

I say to you, live in the present,

Life is too short to dwell on resentment,

Stand up,

Stand up tall,

Breathe in,

Breathe it all,

Now is the moment,

Snatch it and hold it,

Stand up,

Don’t wait ’til you’re old and die

Life is good,

Life is bad,

Pass no judgements

There’s fun to be had

Stand up,

Stand up tall,

Breathe in,

Breathe it all,

Now is the moment,

Snatch it and hold it,

Stand up,

Don’t wait ’til you’re old and die.”

Ask yourself today, “What is keeping me small?”

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The Present is Potent

The Present is Potent

The future is far and preoccupying.

The past is futile and perilous.

The Present is Potent.

The present is now.

The present is every contraction of your diaphragm, every oxygen molecule you wheeze for.

Ribs move up. Ribs move down.

It is the stray dog who looks you in the eyes for a trace of compassion.

The present can be cruel and surprising.  It’s the throbbing pain in your knee when, just when you thought you had it figured out, you slipped and busted your ass.

The present is a nascent past and an expired future.

It is all of these things.

And it’s all we have.

Accept your anxieties and the little control you have.

Forget about your mistakes and forgive yourself.

So…

Are you ready to live?

Spongebob Taught Me Spanx Are Evil (A letter to the creator of Spanx)

Dear Sara Blakely,

Let me ask you something: When the Grinch put antlers on his poor dog ‘Max’, did it make him a reindeer?

You’re not the first to inspire people to cut corners on the way to personal responsibility.  All around us we can see a society rife with instant gratification in an attempt to avoid looking inward for the reason for our crappy result.

Have high blood pressure? Don’t stop eating double bacon cheeseburgers.  Just take Lipitor. No one would want you to eat healthily or exercise!

Feeling depressed about the state of your life? Don’t confront your insecurities.  Just take Zoloft.  No one would want you to face your feelings and grow as an individual!

Not getting the grades you wanted in class? Don’t change your study habits.  Just take Adderall.  No one would want you to learn discipline!

Out of shape and want to improve your physical appearance? Don’t change your eating habits or exercise. Just buy some SPANX!

Spanx are “slimming body shapers”. Honestly, if I didn’t get that from your website, I’d probably come up with something along the lines of “With padded material to make your ass look fuller, and elastic everywhere else to cut out your imperfections, Spanx will make you look desirable in no time!”

Your product is all about making people feel shitty about themselves, offering to save them from this newfound problem, all of which culminates in deceiving the observer. The Spongebob episode “Musclebob Spongepants” sums it up pretty well.

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On our perpetual journey throughout life, we encounter obstacles regularly. The order of events is fairly predictable. It goes something like this:

satisfaction —-> obstacle —-> dissatisfaction —> change —-> growth

(rinse and repeat.)

You, Spanky (can I call you that?), pop in between dissatisfaction and change and offer us a detour, right back to satisfaction.  “It’s gonna be OK.” you tell us, offering consolation with your warm soothing voice. “Don’t worry about that scary forest ahead. Come stay at our condo. We have a 50 inch plasma screen and we just ordered some Papa Johns. Stay as long as you’d like.”

We take the offer. Can you blame us?

So we watch some “Keeping up the with the Kardashians”, we play some Grand Theft Auto (who doesn’t love a good hooker killing spree?), and we sink into the big comfortable cushions of your oversized leather couch.  There’s no denying that it feels good to escape the hardship of the cold outside, the biting wind, and most of all, the uncertainty that remained ahead.

But are you really helping us? No. What you’re really doing is enabling inaction.  You’re aiding and abetting stagnancy. You’re keeping people from realizing their potential and the world that lies beyond their insecurities, the world that provides challenges and rewards us when we rise to meet them.

What I forgot to mention is that past that cold, dark, wicked forest that daunted us on our path, lie beautiful fields of yellow tulips, with views of alpine mountains neighboring pristine lakes. The air is fresh. The sun is shining. It’s a place where we are reminded of how fulfilling life can truly be. So, why would you want to keep us from it?

Regardless of my obvious ethical qualms with your product, I can’t help but ask myself why Spanx have become so unequivocally accepted by most of mainstream society. If I created a store called ‘Sox’ to enhance the appearance of men’s packages, would it be equally as successful?

Although it might not be a huge revenue generator, if you really cared about your customers you’d tell them this:

Are you truly dissatisfied with an aspect of your life? Change it, love and be kind to yourself, and don’t dwell on your shortcomings.  No one would want you to stay in the comfort zone.  Wonderful as it may be, nothing grows there.

Sincerely,

Andre

P.S. Oh and btw, apparently SPANX are destroying people’s organs too. Mazel tov!

6 Ways I Fucked Up My Last Relationship

There is a couple of things that all humans have in common.

We all breathe in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide.

We all consume food and water and find a way to return them back to mother nature.

We all want to be happy.

We all fuck up.

Boys and girls, that last one is what I want to speak to you about today.

We as Homo sapiens are bound to make mistakes.  Some are as trivial as going for that piece of pizza even though you’re lactose intolerant, and others are as big as voting for Barack Obama in the 2012 election (I’m guilty too…).  As the friendly title suggests, my most recent major mistake was sabotaging my last relationship.

While I’ll always be immature enough to make mistakes, I’m also mature enough to own up to those mistakes and learn from them (What a balance. I know…). So instead of JUST telling you the 7 ways I screwed up big time, I will share the 7 lessons I learned from my failed relationship.

SPOILER ALERT: I wasn’t the only one to make mistakes.

1) Stop Looking.

stop looking

Hindsight really is 20/20.

I and my significant found each other through online dating. Back then, I thought “Oh! I serendipitously found the love of my life in this marvelous way!” But, looking back at it now I can clearly see that each of us was looking someone to to fill a void in our lives. And well, we found ’em!  Now, all I’m thinking to myself is “Holy shit. I perpetuated a stereotype.”

If you feel the compulsion to look for someone to be in a relationship with, chances are you’re not ready to be in one.  Ask yourself why you feel so uneasy with the thought of being alone.  What emptiness are you trying to fill?

2) Don’t try to change the other person!

I openly admit: this was one of my greatest transgressions.

I tried to change my ex into who I thought she needed to be.  What this did was put me in a parental role in the relationship and created a lot of resentment towards me, with good reason!

Even though I’m sure I was right about some of the stuff that I thought she needed to change (I am sure I was also wrong about plenty), it wasn’t my job to change her. Every person needs to come to their own conclusions about changing themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, you should feel challenged to grow in a healthy relationship, but when it feels like pulling teeth, the red flags should go up.

If there are significant differences between you two, maybe that person really isn’t the one for you.

3) Go with your gut and be honest with yourself.  Don’t rationalize

Up until the last time I tried to get back with my ex girlfriend, I had convinced myself that our former relationship was perfect and that I couldn’t live without her.  It was only when I had lost all hope of getting back together that I was able to be honest with myself about how messed up the relationship really was.

Rationalizing is a defense mechanism that we all do when our subconscious decides that facing the truth would be too painful.  Being honest with yourself at the first signs of trouble in paradise can help save you a lot of emotional hardship later on down the road.

4) Be in the moment and be grateful.

One of the biggest flaws that I brought into the picture was my constant anxiety about the future. It transported me out of the moment and into a far away land where I was immune to the smile, touch, and warmth of my significant other.  Therefore, it might come as no surprise that one of my biggest regrets is that I was largely unavailable to my ex both mentally and emotionally.

As much as I regret it, all I can do now is try my best to be fully appreciative and grateful of the next person I decide to commit to.

5) Don’t be afraid to bring up beef you have with your partner.

Embrace the Beef

Embrace the Beef

There were few arguments in my last relationship.  However, that didn’t mean there weren’t problems.

There were lots of problems.

I thought she was too negative.  She hated that everything had to be my way.

I liked romaine lettuce. She preferred Iceberg.

But despite these issues we had with the other, each of us was too insecure to bring them up and discuss them.  Doing so might piss the other person off and scare them away from the relationship.  And then where would we be without their validation of our self worth!!??

Is there something about your significant other that gets under your skin? Bring it up to them and discuss it. If you can’t, you might be in the wrong relationship for the wrong reasons.

6) Love yourself.

love yourself

I didn’t love myself. I was just hoping that someone would love me to make up for it.  But now I know the truth.

I know that I am the driver of my destiny. I know that if I don’t love myself nobody will. I know that my happiness and fulfillment cannot and will not derive from another person; they must come from within.

Don’t forget: the most important relationship to develop is your relationship with yourself.

________________________

I made a lot of wonderful memories with my ex.  I’ll never forget the good times we shared. Ultimately though, neither of us was ready to unconditionally love the other for the right reasons.

And so, no more romantic relationships for me for a while.  I need to continue growing and discovering who I really am, to make sure I won’t sabotage my future relationships.  I hope this bout of honesty has inspired you to take a closer look at yourself and the relationships in your lives.

Are you sabotaging them?

4 Videos That Will Change Your Life Forever

Can you imagine life without Youtube?

I can’t.

I mean, technically, I can because I was alive before Youtube ever came into existence, but you know what I mean.  It’s become one of those modern-day conveniences I just couldn’t live without.

So today, I will be combining my love for Youtube and self-betterment and presenting you with a list of videos that will change your life forever and help you live a more positive and inspired life.

They certainly have done so for me.

Bookmark this page and watch these videos whenever you are feeling down or helpless.  They will help remind of the potential greatness that you always have access to.

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1. Career – “Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career”

Anyone who has seen the movie “Office Space” will probably agree that the only thing more frightening than the guy with the stapler, is imagining yourself working in such a depressive environment for the rest of your life.

Roughly 30% of your time on earth will be spent working. Why spend such a huge chunk of this time doing something you don’t absolutely love?

Despite the negative vibe the title gives off, this TED talk inspires you to ask yourself some of the most critical questions about your job, your life, and the kind of person you want your grand-kids to see you as.

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2. Relationships – “How to Never Get Hurt in a Relationship”

I have a serious problem with the way romance is depicted in popular culture, where love is confused with insecurity, neediness, and desire.  One of these days I’ll get around to writing a post about it, but until then, this video will drop some enlightenment on yo’ ass.

This video will help you realize that there are two types of relationships in this world:

1) The Coca Cola Relationship – Where you attempt to control the other person for your the sake of your own insecurities (been there, done that.)  This is the type of relationship that will get you hurt.

2) The Water Relationship – This relationship occurs when we allow the other person to be free within the relationship.  We help each other become the greatest version of ourselves.

Check out some of this guy’s other videos.  They’re all pretty amazing.

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3. Getting in Shape – “Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation!”

This video nearly brought me to tears.

I don’t think I can do this video justice with words, so you’ll just have to watch it to see what I mean.

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4. Your Identity -“Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do”

Tony Robbins has been one of the greatest influences in my life.  Watching his videos acted as a huge catalyst in my life when I underwent a series of massive changes about the person I had become, and the way I was living my life four months ago.

What’s the story of your life you’re telling yourself? How are you letting that narrative control your actions in the present?

I’m not the only one he’s helped. His message of the massive potential each of us harbors within has inspired tens of millions all throughout the world.  Hopefully, this video help you as much as it’s helped me throughout my journey of positive growth.

Watching positive and inspiring videos transforms your psychology to make you a more positive and inspired person.  But be careful: once you start going down that road, there’s no coming back :).