Why we all need some challenge in our lives

It's easy to fantasize about a life without any type of worry or struggle. Our popular conception of heaven is a place in the clouds filled with angels lying around, with no one doing anything other than the possible strumming of a harp. And our lives are filled with so much stress and worry -- the complete absence of any challenge can seem like a dream come true.

But the reality is that we are not built spiritually or psychologically to have a life without any type of challenge, where our needs are met instantly, at every moment. People who are rich and powerful enough to get anything they want with a snap at their fingers are inevitably shallow, tyrannical people. Why should anyone aspire to that?

We all know this. It is common sense. So we must take this logic one step further and realize that what gives life its true meaning is not aspiring to some illusory state of never-ending comfort. What gives life its true meaning is living a life filled with purpose and intention, and those things are only derived from a life that has some challenge to it.

An easy, comfortable life is something we all sometimes wish for, but such a life ends up being rather boring, unfulfilling, and ultimately unsatisfying.

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At this moment in history, the greatest challenge to which we can all dedicate ourselves is the cultivation of those qualities that will help build peace and environmental sustainability. These are the things the world urgently needs at this time -- something more urgent than the development of any technology. 

And the best way we can all aid in that effort is to take the time to discover our Life's Work -- the reason why we are here at this time. 

If we can align with that master purpose, life has a way of falling into place, and we quickly discover that the qualities we wish to explore and cultivate on our own are the exact qualities that the world needs from us at this time. Each of us can lay our own brick in the grand cathedral of a world at better peace with itself. This is the reason we are here.

Victory on the inside

The world needs more heroes. But in today's world, the great battles for our heroes will not be on a battle field. The hero's victories will be on the inside, not the outside.

What do I mean by this?

In ancient myths, heroes battled demons that roamed the land, terrorizing innocent people. The hero would kill the demon and bring peace. 

If only it was this easy today. But today there are no more demons on the outside. The demons are on the inside. They reside in all of us.

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These demons are our fears, our anxieties, our dark sides. We all have those things.

For most of us today, we live in an uneasy tension with this darker and more demonic side of our personalities. When they arise and cause us damage and harm, we turn to distractions or numbing agents. But we never really address the fact that we live with these things, dealing with them daily. They are there, like an occupying force. And we are never really fully in charge of our consciousness. 

The heroes of today are those who understand that to change the world, you have to change yourself. And changing yourself requires confronting your dark side, your demons, your fears your anxieties -- battling those things, and ultimately emerging victorious over them.

Thus, the great heroic battles must take place on the inside, in our inner consciousness, not in the outside world.

What are the tools of the heroes of today? The tools are ancient ones: meditation, discipline, and courage. And of these three, courage is the most important. A person with courage will develop meditation and discipline. But without courage, one does not have the strength to really tackle demons.

The inner demons we all must confront -- they have tools though, as well. Today's world provides them with ample allies. Think of all the distractions that exist today in the forms of technology and social media. Think of all the groupthink and conformity that is foisted on thinking people in the form of nationalism, racism, sexism; any -ism, really. Think of all the numbing agents that people can now rely on to avoid having to deal with their inner demons: mass media, drugs, alcohol. The demons have never had it easier. 

But the strength of our inner demons is an illusion. It always has been, and it always will be. 

The world needs more heroes. Find the courage to become a hero. In later posts, I will detail out the modern hero's journey that is open to all people who wish to change the world. Keep checking back for more updates.

Want to change the world? Change yourself

The world we see today, with all its problems and all its joys, is a reflection of humanity's inner's state.

The things that are good and beautiful were built by people who were motivated by good and beautiful intentions. And the things that are causing havoc and destruction were set in motion by human minds that were in a similar state of turmoil.

I write a lot on this website about the dire state of humanity and the world. These are dangerous times. That much is certain. But my warnings here should not overshadow the fact that the world is also a beautiful place, with a beautiful future -- a future that can be built by all of us, if we are able to get our collective acts together. A Golden Age is possible, if humanity wills it.

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The insight that the outer world reflects the state of our collective inner realities provides all of us with a very simple formula: if we want to change the world, the most effective way to do that is to change ourselves. 

When we are at peace with ourselves, and in a state of inner harmony, the things we produce in this world will reflect that peace. Our work and our relationships will start to harmonize and become a thing of beauty. The bad things in our lives will naturally fall away. And we will start to build and attract people, things, and experiences that reflect the peace that we have cultivated on the inside.

Does this mean that our lives will be easy and comfortable? Hardly. Life is filled with a great number of challenges. There will be pain, suffering, disappointment, and heartbreak in our lives, regardless of our inner state. But what will change is our ability to deal with such challenges. And as we cultivate a peace and strong presence inside, life's challenges present themselves almost as deep opportunities for greater transformation.

The seed of intention is what creates the fruit of results. Where the intention is pure, and when it comes from a place of perfect understanding, the results are equally as pure and perfect. This is what those of us who are cultivating our Life's Work should aspire to: pure and perfect intention, founded in pure and perfect inner peace. It is a very high and exacting standard, perhaps an impossible standard. But it is the only real way to change the world.

Keep checking back here for further thoughts on cultivating this inner peace, building a true Life's Work, and changing the world.

The challenge of thinking for yourself

People who take the time to think for themselves and to question majority thinking and the status quo are generally shunned. This has been true throughout history. And it is true today.

Don't think for a second that technology or the internet has changed this reality. Corporate control over technology has, in many ways, made it even easier for powerful interests to flood and control the way we all think through various forms of propaganda. 

You should think about human thinking and consciousness like a wave. Majority, "groupthink" thinking is a wavelength that most people sync with, unconsciously, without thinking. They hand over their ability to critically think to the easy conformity that comes with having other people think for them. They become little more than automatons, taking orders from others, loving and hating as commanded. They are sheep.

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When you start to uncover your Life's Work, and to explore what it is you are here to do, you will inevitably discover that your passions, interests, and life goals may put you out of sync with the way that the rest of the world thinks and operates. The wavelength of your consciousness will literally uncouple itself from the majority, groupthink wavelength that dominates and controls most people. You will literally start to march to a different tune. 

This decoupling process, and ignition of your own capacity to think for yourself, and to create and determine your own destiny, is a wonderful thing. It is like a second birthing process. You will discover that there are parts of your brain that will start to work for the first time, providing you access to previously undiscovered mental capacities for deduction, logic, creative thinking and intuition. The power of the mind will unlock.

And you will also discover that by thinking for yourself, you will become a threat and danger to a lot of other people. The forces of domination and control that populate our societies cannot stand deviation or free thinking -- it threatens their power. The more people who free themselves from conformity, who start to ask questions, who start to build peace and environmental sustainability through the cultivation of their Life's Work: these people are all threats.

If you want to measure the threat of any given idea to those in power, look to see how the powerful react to any specific form of non-violent dissent. Look to see how they disparage, ridicule, and castigate those using non-violent activism. The greater the intolerance for any form of peaceful dissent, the greater the ability of that dissent to subvert and challenge those with power. 

One of the many fears that people have when they start to cultivate their Life's Work is the fear of non-conformity. They are afraid that by being different, and by doing different things, they will be subject to exclusion and harassment because they are not conforming to the status quo. This is a very legitimate fear, and it is a fear that ultimately needs to be addressed by those who walk their own paths. It is one of the challenges that goes hand-in-hand with walking the path of a Life's Work. 

In later blogs, I'll discuss how people can effectively learn to deal and manage the many challenges that come through cultivating a Life's Work. Check back for further updates.

Imagining a Golden Age: dialogue amongst nations

I want to imagine a Golden Age. And I want other people to imagine a Golden Age, too.

We live in a time where there is little imagination about how the world might be a better place.

Our government officials, corporate CEOs, spiritual leaders and mass media have largely failed to imagine and describe to other people what a better world looks like.

So instead, we are all caught in terrifying visions of doom and catastrophe. The world slouches towards environmental ruin, runaway climate change, and a neo-feudal future where human rights are a thing of the past, and the masses are controlled by a small elite through behavioral technologies, open and blatant propaganda, and demonization of others.

We see this future ahead of us, being built for us, being imposed on us -- and we don't know how to fight because we can't imagine anything else.

So let's put those ugly visions aside. Instead, let's imagine what a Golden Age would look like. I want to do that on this website and my hope is that over time, people will start thinking and talking about a true Golden Age. 

Here is one important component of my imagined Golden Age: in the Golden Age, countries will resolve disputes with dialogue, not with war. 

Sound unrealistic? This was actually the vision of many dedicated people in the 20th Century, who created an important international legal infrastructure to accomplish just this -- one that still exists, waiting to be used.

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In 1899, every major world power (including the United States) signed the Hague Convention of 1899, which created the Permanent Court of Arbitration to help countries solve their disputes through dialogue. The Hague Convention treaty was expanded and reaffirmed in 1907.

In 1928, the United States and France co-sponsored the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty which created a legally binding obligation for countries to resolve their disputes using dialogue and "pacific means." The United States is still a signatory to the Pact.

In 1945, the countries of the world entered into the United Nations Charter, which requires member countries to "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." 

In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg passed judgment on German leaders for waging wars of aggression in Europe. The Tribunal declared that waging aggressive wars was the "supreme international crime" and condemned those leaders to death.

There is wide consensus amongst international lawyers and scholars today that the waging of aggressive war remains a heinous international crime and that countries are bound to resolve their disputes through dialogue.

In many ways, the hard work to create a world where countries resolve their disputes peacefully is already done. 

So what remains to be done?

  • We must all have the will and the courage to call on our leaders to honor these obligations. 
  • We must all have the insight to avoid falling under the spell of propaganda and demonization that government officials often resort to, in order to justify a war against other countries.
  • We must all support the efforts of those who are building peace, and denounce the efforts of those calling for unjust and unlawful wars.

Dialogue amongst nations is not just a dream. It is actually the law. With just a little effort, it could be a reality, and play an important part in the Golden Age.

I'll keep writing more here about my imagined Golden Age. Keep checking back to see how I imagine what a Golden Age could look like.

Where have all the good leaders gone?

I write a lot about the political, social and environmental crises of the day, and how each of us can respond to those crises in our own personal and unique way by discovering and creating our Life's Work.

But there is one crisis in particular that underscores the urgency of why each of us has to embark on our own personal journeys of discovery into our Life's Work.

And that is the global crisis in leadership.

Where have all the good leaders gone?

It seems that it is increasingly difficult to identify those people with the traits that help bring success to teams, companies, communities, and countries.

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Anyone can learn to be a good leader. But becoming a good leader means incorporating leadership skills as part of one's Life Work. And it means accepting that leadership is never about benefits -- leadership is about sacrifice, and responsibility. 

I call this "the leader is always last" philosophy. A leader should be the hardest working person on the team, having a mastery over all of the tasks of an organization, from effective boardroom skills to how the trash gets taken out at night. 

A leader should make sure that their employees eat before they do; that they are the ones ultimately responsible if a project is not completed on time; that they are the public face of an organization, and they must comport their public behavior to the highest ethical standards, or else the entire organization will suffer.

Good leaders are empathic and kind. But they should also inspire discipline and respect. 

We live in an age where people aspire to positions of leadership because they want to satisfy their egos. This is the "I am always first" philosophy. This is a terrible philosophy, that is causing a lot of destruction to the planet. 

For people who aspire to leadership as part of their Life's Work, they should understand and realize that the path of effective, world-changing leadership is a path of sacrifice, struggle and pain. It is not a path for the weak. It will bring bruises, blood and tears. And it will require, eventually, a confrontation and a reckoning with those leaders who are in it for themselves. 

The world is too precious to be left in the hands of the selfish. Where are all the good leaders? They are in each of us. Who will answer the call to lead as the last?