I Took A Whooping From An Eleven Year Old, And It Won’t Be My Last…

With the game tied up and two points away from being decided, I look at my opponent in front of me and know in myself that it’s game time.

He drives around me, crossing over before scooping the ball through the hoop while going off the opposite foot.

Okay, one more point and my game is over. This is fine though, I’ve been here before.

I pass him the ball for the final, game deciding possession, and he dribbles and crosses over to attempt a similar move- only this time he sneaks around to the other side for a reverse lay-up, gently spinning the ball off the backboard and through the hoop.

Before shock even has time to fully sink in, the loudest squeal of joy can be heard from him as he runs off the backyard court and into the house faster than I can even make words come out of my mouth.

My eleven-year-old little brother Austin just beat me one on one for the first time.

I stand there a moment, wondering how I got myself into this position before walking up to the house to find my brothers animation is somehow filled with more excitement and emotion then when the Warriors won the NBA championship less than a month prior.

As someone that means the world to me, seeing the joy on his face somehow lessens the competitive blow my ego just took, and I sit there and accept his energetic elation without making excuses in front of my bewildered family.

This kid has shown day in and day out uncanny similarities between us, and the gratitude I have for him is immeasurable. While we aren’t identical, looking at him and seeing qualities evident from our brotherhood is something I cherish and hold close to me. I know that through him, I can walk along life beside him and find solace in the fact that I can support him through struggles and challenges I faced at the same ages.

For better or for worse, my brother emulates me and this is something that I will never take lightly. I love the relationship and how complacency is no where to be found, because of how highly improvement is viewed by both of us. Life and growing up brings many mistakes accompanied by lessons, and to be frank, the plentiful mistakes I’ve made have thankfully afforded me with countless lessons- and the age gap between Austin and myself means that I have the luxury of helping him through similar times.

The awareness of this fills me with happiness and relaxes me, while also adding another dimension of fulfilment to my life that helps validate my worth. My internal compassion develops by helping him, because making a habit of putting someone else first is a humbling element of selflessness that can grow into other areas of my life. For as much as I’m helping him, I truly believe he’s helping me. 

I’ve talked a lot about gratitude in previous posts, and how this magnifies when talking about living, breathing, people in your life is immense and should never be taken for granted. Having appreciation for those around you is one of the most important vehicles of your own wellbeing. Assuming someone will be there regardless of what happens is an easy trap to fall into, and in doing so it robs you of truly appreciating them and what they’re worth. Taking time to fully value and appreciate the people around you will ensure that you’re always spreading the compassion you need to the people you need most. While obviously this element of gratitude is consistent with all members of my family, this post is for Austin and this feat he managed on his birthday.

Pretty soon he won’t be proud of beating his big brother in a game of one on one, so maybe I should be the one cherishing the moment!

Congratulations, Austin. I love you buddy.

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What I Saw While Dirtbiking Around the Coast in the Philippines

I was driving a dirt bike up a sandy coastal road in the Philippines when I look over and see a clearing just below, with a cluster of shacks with mud for floors and enough for maybe the basics of living. There’s not a chance that there’s power in the huts, and as I look to the left I see a woman washing what looks like children’s clothes in a basket.

My glance is met with a glowing smile, and a wave.

I kind of feel like a jerk because the amount of concentration and balance needed to manoeuvre the bike through the slippery, sandy, dirt hill is enough to make me sweaty, and because of this I can’t return the gesture.

The wheels I took around the island

Over to the right are kids running around and playing together, and sounds of laughter are heard throughout the little pasture of dwellings.
No phones, no roads, no appliances- all of them living more minimal than most people in North America do when they’re camping.

But no happiness? It’s infectious and found mostly everywhere you look. While riding on past, all I see are people smiling, socializing, and truly seeming to be content with the moment they are in right now.

You might think that this is something atypical, lucky, or even rare- but that’s just not the case over here. While I didn’t have the luxury of time to travel the country entirely, all of the places I did go had the same thing in common.

These people truly epitomize happiness and connectedness. The former concept is joyful, but the way these people value communion and social interaction is admirable. Each individual can attest to the way they feel connected to those around them, and the results are living right in front of you. While a vast majority of people from the Western world would view this minimalist lifestyle as torturous and unpleasant, the people here who are immersed in this way of life are living a life with tremendous gratitude for what they have, and who they have.

In the same way that Western culture has placed an importance on capitalism and making money to be successful, this little region of Pacific culture has cultivated a priority on community. The proof is in our backyard too: Filipino’s have created their own communities and do a pretty good job of orchestrating groups and leagues by which they can all gather together with.

I think it’s amazing. To have a culture so warmly embrace togetherness is inspiring, and the results can speak for themselves. The social structures connecting everyone are found everywhere, and the sense of community is unparalleled in our culture. We live in a world where all of us feel like there’s always something we need to be happy, perpetually seeking the next thing and the next dollar.

“Once I can afford that car, then I’ll definitely be happy.”

This goes on and on forever, steadily keeping pace with you and the next thing you want, only resulting in endless dissatisfaction.

Learning to be happy with what you have, and letting gratitude be at the forefront of your life will pay you the biggest dividends. The Happiness Advantage is an eye-opening book that truly instigated this paradigm shift in me, and the fact that is the one I chose to bring with me to read while travelling through the Philippines is astoundingly coincidental- and to this day, still blows my mind. One of the main themes of this book is the concept that money and success will bring you happiness, when in reality it’s not true. Constant hunger for more stems from this, and happiness will always elude you as you race towards the illusional rainbow.

Instead, the truth is that happiness is what fuels success, and focusing on your own happiness will actually make you more creative, motivated, and energetic.

My belief is that adding gratitude into the equation will compound this even further, because allowing your happiness to rely on what you already have rather than what you want is the key to being in love with the moment and the life you are submersed in.

For me personally, the proof is in the country and culture I was lucky enough to experience overseas. This was the main trait that was consistently found; people wrapped up in gratitude for what they have and the community around them.

Allowing yourself to let your motivation come from happiness rather than “more” is the rewarding experience you deserve, and what ends up happening when you become happier is amazing. Everyone deserves to be more motivated and energetic, and the byproducts of these two qualities will naturally bring you more. There’s nothing wrong with getting more, it’s simply the prioritization of acquiring more that is counter-productive, and will end up making you less happy. This ends up causing a chain reaction, in turn making you less motivated, with less energy, while your creativity dwindles. It’s a vicious cycle, but adjusting this to be centred around happiness allows you to snowball in the direction you want- naturally attracting more and more to you instead.

It starts with the little things; smiling at people, holding the door for someone, or even waving at someone.

Unless you’re biking up a steep hill.

If you’d like to give The Happiness Advantage a read, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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How Having The Wrong Mindset Will Kill You

The human mind is crazy, and the things it’s capable of really blow me away. Having the right mindset when looking at the intimidatingly mountainous task of making something of yourself is everything; failing to do so can keep you stuck standing still. I myself used to be quite the negative guy, justifying my pessimism by attributing it to only being ‘realistic’.

“Being realistic is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity.”

I came across this quote the other day from the legendary Will Smith, long since my favourite celebrity since he showed the world how fresh being a prince in a rich suburb really was. First, I took these words in for what they are and internalized them. Second, I posted about it to contribute to Will Smith Wednesday (it’s a real thing, and I shouldn’t even be surprised that the internet beat me to the punch on this one).

If you follow this stud through out his career, you can see just how relentlessly hard he works in order to get to where he is- and I’ve also always admired how he never hides from his emotions or feelings, regardless of what it might make people think. As being honest and vulnerable with yourself has been a pretty big theme lately, you can see why this is a big deal.

But it made me think about placebo and how well-documented it is about how much tricking the mind can really do. From things such as people feeling stronger and more balanced when they put a rubber band on their wrist, to people literally being exposed to stuff they’re allergic to and feeling nothing because they took a pill to supposedly ‘counteract’ their allergy (when it was nothing but a capsule of sugar).

Seriously, even studies were done on placebo trials with dogs suffering from epilepsy, and found that both control groups of dogs reacted positively to the medication- and again, one group of pills was nothing. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one, but great news for the pups.

So what does that mean for us? When I heard about stuff like this I felt a burning desire to harness this in some way to really maximize what I’m capable of, plus those around me.

If someone came from the future, gave you some irrefutable evidence that they were in fact straight out of the future and McFlyin’ back only to let you know how wildly successful you were about to become in a few years- would you believe them?

This drives me wild. If there was undeniable evidence of something so definite and concrete about how we are going to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted to achieve, you have no other choice but to believe it. Making this change in your mind opens pathways in your head, and your brain sets out to work on routing the journey between where you are, and where you are told you are going.

If this sounds crazy to you- good.

But believe it or not, the visionaries and monumental innovators in this world all started as bright-eyed students of life, planning their moves that would soon change the world. Don’t think for a second that these people did not possess a grande, elaborate visual of what was to come. Thinking and visualizing all of the intricacies and tiny details about what you want out of yourself and your life is the biggest step you can take to start hiking towards that mental picture. From being the CEO of some outlandish company to fully taking control of your own happiness, whatever you want most is yours.

Allowing yourself to see the finished product before you’re done is like building a puzzle and having some of the pieces around the border put together, making it easier because you’re able to visualize the puzzle completed and whole.

Why would your dreams be any different?

Thinking for success is the first step, but it is still nothing without knowing. Converting this belief into a rock-solid knowledge is necessary and removes the doubts in your mind that might end up slowing you down. You need to let your mind know how possible what you’re doing is before you’re able to see solutions and actions to get you closer to your goal. If you think something simply cannot be done, you immediately shut down a huge chunk of your mind’s power generators that can be utilized to produce solutions to obstacles in your way. Your mind will not be creative in seeking out an answer for something you’ve already taped off as impossible. Why would it?

“I can create whatever I want to create.”

Another piece of gold from Will, and I encourage you to check out the engine underneath the hood of the people that inspire you most. Understanding what makes these people tick can shed some light on how you can help yourself improve.

And for placebo- be that friend around everyone that’s always feeding people heaps of positivity. If you’re able to tell people what they’re good at, the simple reality is that they will truly become better at it. I would say to keep things realistic, but studies have even shown how placebos still work even when the group knows they are taking a placebo. This means that even when people know that the medication or aid is completely fake, it still makes them do better than the people without it.  If that doesn’t tell you to always believe in yourself, I don’t know what will.

Now I’ll ask again: if someone all-knowing could tell you how wildly successful and happy you will be in the future, would you believe them?

Why can’t it be you?