The Hero

Joseph Campbell studied many heroes throughout world mythologies, spanning all of history, and published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949.  According to his findings heroes from all cultures and times shared the following:

The hero begins by living an ordinary life in the ordinary world.

The hero receives a challenge or call to adventure.

The hero takes on risk to accept the challenge.  If the hero accepts the call to adventure, then he or she must face many trials and challenges.

At one point the hero's challenges seem almost insurmountable and he or she ends up having to rely on help from others or a new source of power.

The hero discovers a secret or gift that will help his beloved people.

The hero must face challenges to deliver the gift to his community.

Will you accept the hero's challenge or will you play it safe?

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
Taking Risk, Blog.

Easy Steps for Making Better Decisions

Decision making can be tricky.  We all make good and bad decisions, but their are tricks to making better decisions. 
  • Get into a positive state - There are many ways to achieve this - listen to music, dance, get out in the sunshine, take a nap.  Do what works for you.  We tend to make better decisions when our mood is good.
  • Grab a snack - Your brain uses a huge amount of glucose when making difficult decisions.  A healthy snack will give it a fresh supply of fuel.
  • Become distracted - A few moments of entertainment or pleasurable distraction will clear the decision from your conscious mind and allow your subconscious mind to work on it.  Your subconscious mind has the power to solve difficult problems if you let it.  With billions and billions of neurons, memories, and observations it is rich with information.
  • Sleep on it - This allows your brain to refuel, to rest, and gives your subconscious free reign.  Many great inventions, songs, and stories have come to the creators in a dream.
  • Pay attention to how you feel about your choices - Think back on your best decisions and put yourself there mentally.  How did your body feel?  Now think of a bad decision and do the same.  Reflect on your current decision, think of each possibility, and pay attention to how your body feels.  Which decision feels best?
Finally, even better than making good decisions is 'making decisions good.'  What's the difference?  The difference is that outcomes are usually a result of a series of decisions that lead to positive results.  Going to Harvard can be a bad decision if you rack up a lot of debt and never use the education.  Dropping out of college can be a great idea if  you do so to start a multi-billion dollar software firm. Make decisions that build upon your previous choices and make them even better.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
Critical Thinking, Blog

Earth Day - Mindful Moment #1

Today, on Earth Day, I would like to start a new series titled 'Mindful Moments'.  If you have read this blog often then you will know that I am not one for writing on a fixed schedule, so the post will not be routine.  Whenever I feel that I have a worthy subject to share on Mindful Moments then I'll share.

I would ask that you take a moment to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about the Earth - your home.  Do you feel a sense of stewardship?  Do you think of it at all?   What are the sources of your thoughts on the Earth?  Are they accurate?  Do they match your core values?  Do your actions reflect your thoughts and values?  If not, what can you do today to align your actions with your beliefs and values?

Please share some of your answers to the questions above in the comments below.  Help this Mindful Moment to be a learning experience for all of us.

In closing I would like to share a post from several months ago about my relationship with my home - Earth.

Do you sometimes feel like an outsider?  Do you feel like a guest imposing on someone else's turf?  I know that I did for many years.  It wasn't a conscious thought; it was something lingering in the background.  I felt that I was different than most of the people around me so I felt out of place.  It was almost like guilt.  One day a realization came to me - this is my world, my earth, my home.  I belong here.

There is a story in Buddhism about Siddhartha Guatama (who became  the historical Buddha) that gives me strength when I feel this sense of not belonging.   While Siddhartha was sitting under the bodhi tree, under an oath to remain until he attained enlightenment, he was approached by Mara ( a demon of worldly ways) and an army of monsters to frighten him away.  Mara questioned Siddhartha and asked "What right do you have here?  This place is mine."  The army of monsters cried out "We are his witness."  Mara asked Siddhartha - "Who will speak for you?"

As a response Siddartha reached out his right hand and touched the earth and the earth itself trembled and roared "I bear you witness."

The very fact that we are here gives us a right to be here.  This is your earth, your home, and it is mine. Don't let the ways of the world cause you fear or shame.  Proudly reach down and touch the earth.  You are home.

Zen Presence - minimalism, simplicity, self improvement, simple living, Zen in modern life.

Life Lessons from Riding a Motorcycle

1.  Take care of your vehicle (body), your life depends on it.

2.  Focus on where you want to go, not on obstacles.  We tend to go in the direction that we're looking.

3.  Get some training.  We should never stop learning.  I once let my motorcycle license lapse and had to re-take the skills test.  I had ridden a motorcycle since I was a teen and didn't think that I needed any training.  After failing the first test I attended a short weekend course that improved my skills and ability dramatically.

4. Respect the situation you are in but remain loose, calm, and focused on the situation. If you let fear overcome you, then your body will tense and you will lose the 'flow' necessary to navigate.  You will also develop severe tunnel vision and may not see the big picture of your surroundings.

5.  Give it a little 'gas' when maneuvering a curve (change) to maintain stability.

6.  Interacting with your surroundings and exposing yourself to the elements changes a boring drive (task, experience,life) to a memorable event.

7.  Get out there and ride.  Enjoy the fresh air and your beautiful surroundings.  Life is short.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Overthinking, Fear, and Paralysis

Are you guilty of overthinking?  Does fear get in your way?  Check out this short video and realize how ridiculous our minds and actions can be.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
Michael Neill, Super Coach, Get What You Want, Life Blog

The Miracle

I vow to transcend fear and awaken to my true nature.

I vow to open to beauty of  the present moment.

I vow to feel compassion for the suffering of others.

I vow to reach out to those around me and not to isolate.

I vow to help others achieve balance and happiness.

I vow to experience the miracle of being truly alive.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Tich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Truly Alive, Blog

Taking Full Responsibility - Change Your Life

Get rid of "should" and "have to".  Do What You Want.

Does that sound like responsible advice?

I'm afraid that's what you must do to take full responsibility for your life.  Notice that I didn't say do what you  feel like doing.  You may not feel like going to the grocery store this afternoon but want to because you want to eat.

This is not just semantics.  Anytime we use the words "should" or "have to" we are shirking responsibility.  We are saying either we have no choice or that we're trying to live up to someone else's idea of what we should do with our lives.  Having no choice is a lie and living to someone else's expectations is a sad mistake.

Look closely at your life.  What pressures do you feel to do something or be somewhere?  Why?  Is it because you want to?  If not, look deeper.

There is nowhere we must be and nothing we must do if we are taking full responsibility for our actions.

If you still feel pressure to do something then at least admit to yourself - I want to do this because I don't have the strength to say no or to let 'so and so' down.  Be honest with yourself and remove your excuses.  You will find your attitude will change drastically and you might even muster the courage to say no a little more often. 

Try a little soul searching to find what you want in life,  then do the things that will bring it about.

Identify the things that you don't want to do and stop doing them.

This is not an exercise for the faint of heart.  Don't even waste your time if you're not willing to go deep and work with it.  .

With a little lot of work and effort in learning to DO WHAT YOU WANT, your life will change dramatically.  I promise you that your life will improve if you work at this.  You will have more energy, more passion, and more peace.  If you want one on one help with changing your life, feel free to contact me at

Using this method and a few of the following ideas can turn your life around:

Instantly Improve Your Life with One Step

Proven Methods to Improve Your Happiness

Learning to Live In the Present Moment

Six Steps for Building Strength

Thoughts + Energy = Your Reality

Because I feel so strongly about this - because I see so many that feel powerless in life - I am asking you to share a link to this article if you like it.  Tweet it, Facebook it, Pin it, email a line,  or all of the above.  This approach has brought so much change, meaning, and peace to my life in such a short amount of time that I want to share it with as many others as I can.  Although I'd rather you link here - steal it if you prefer - just spread the word.

I found this method and other great ideas in Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone's Life by Michael Neill

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Using the Present Moment for Transformation

As discussed a few days ago here, there are very real benefits to being in the present moment.  A feeling of ease will overcome you as stress and worries fade.  I often find life so beautiful that it seems surreal - only because I am not used to experiencing life as it truly is - here and now.

Most of us spend our lives in our heads, thinking of the past or stressing over the future.  The result of our mind darting back and forth from the past to the future is that they tend to look very much alike.  In order to manifest true transformation in your life you must learn to access the power of now.

There is actually a great deal of science behind all of this "being mindful."  In his excellent book, Your Brain at Work , David Rock explains that mindfulness is a whole other way for your brain to experience life than the way most of us spend our lives.  When we are mindful, regions of our brain that normally lie dormant are activated.  Though I highly recommend reading the book, he has written a great introductory article on Psychology Today titled 'The Neuroscience of Mindfulness.'

Presented below are some basic but practical methods for being in the present moment.

1. Observe your mind.  It will flit about, worrying about the future, thinking of the past - watch it passively as an observer.  Let your thoughts come and go, realizing that they are only thoughts and not reality.

2.  Sit and focus on the physical sensations that your body is feeling.  Feel the warmth of the sun or the coolness of the breeze.  Hear the sounds of life around you.  Do not think of yourself as a separate self, but as a part of everything that your senses are experiencing.

3. Perform an activity that requires intense concentration.  Rock climbers, whitewater kayakers, and kitesurfers know what it is like to be present in the moment.  While you don't have to endanger your life to be in the present moment, an activity requiring your full attention will pull you out of your ordinary mode of thinking in the past or future.

As you learn to access the power of the present moment you will realize that the shackles that held you back were only self created mental constructs.  Our minds have a way of shaping our reality.  Accessing the power of life as it exists in the present moment is your path to freedom.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

The difficulty makes it special

I remember the first 13,000 ft mountain I climbed - I can see it vividly in my mind.   I remember the pain of not enough oxygen in each breath.  More than anything I remember the feeling of having done something that I'd never done before.  I'd only recently quit smoking, after years of the bad habit, and I didn't think that I'd ever climb high altitudes - but there I was.

If you want to climb mountains then you have to deal with the terrain - there are no short cuts to the top, but the effort put in makes it special.  This doesn't mean that we should create obstacles, nor do we have to take the hardest route to make the trek worth taking.  The view from the top of a mountain is the same no matter which trail is taken.

Learn to embrace the challenges in your ventures as well as the rewards.  If it were easy or simple then everyone would do it and it would be nothing special.  By learning NOT to attach negative emotions to challenging tasks and obstacles, we can see them more objectively for what they are - a part of the journey.  Be aware of your self talk and the labels that you place on the tasks and events in your life and enjoy the journey.

* Special alert -A give away and an opportunity to help a little girl who was burned on Easter - please visit My Journey to Ithaca

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Thoughts + Energy = Your Experienced Reality

Thoughts come and go.  An average person has over 60,000 of them a day.  They do not all come true, nor are they all experienced equally.  The ones we focus on or give energy to are experienced as our reality.  Is it any wonder that all of the negative things in our lives keep coming up again and again?

The next time you have a negative thought - don't fight it - let it fade and die.

Put your energy and attention to the positive things in your life.  Focus on where you want to go, not the obstacles.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
Manifesting, manisfesation, creating. Blog