Why I don’t tell people what to do anymore

Why I don’t tell people what to do anymore

As you know, I ran a personal finance blog for two years. I created the blog for three reasons: (1) to help people with their finances, (2) to reinforce what I was learning, and (3) to make a living from blogging.

At the start of this blog, I absorbed everything I could on personal finance. I read the classics, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, followed up by Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

I read numerous other books in the following months and had a good grasp on personal finance. I gave advice to anyone who was willing to listen to me.

I would also write 2 posts per week about personal finance topics that I conjured up during the slow work day.

Do THIS, not that

In these posts I would pick an area people struggle with. Then I would tell them what to do.

Save 10% of your income. Open an IRA account. Don’t go into debt. You get the idea…

I felt like an authority. I believed as an authority it was up to me to tell people what to do.

It was all out of the goodness of my heart. Honestly. I didn’t think I was better than anyone. But I expressed what I thought people should do.

This began to trickle into my personal life

I would give advice to my girlfriend. “Do this instead.”

I would give advice to my sister. “Why are you doing it that way? Do it this way.”

I would have arguments with family members. I told them why they were wrong and why they should think about a particular situation differently. I’m not proud of those moments.

I had my view of the world and wanted everyone to conform to that view. Not necessarily in a negative way. It was just how I believed the world should be.

This changed last year

A year ago I became interested Buddhist concepts and philosophies. As I was reading, I came across a quote that stuck with me:

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

The Buddha himself essentially told people not to blindly follow what he said. It was his way of saying, try this yourself. If you like it, continue to use it. If not, move on.

And this idea struck a chord. All this time I was telling people what to do, what to think, what to believe.

I had my view of the world and what the right thing to do was. But that wasn’t the right thing to do.

The fault in giving advice

Derek Sivers was interviewed last month on the James Altucher Show. In this podcast, he asked James about how he deals with giving advice.

Derek went on to say that he never knew what to tell someone who came to him seeking advice.

For example, one person wanted to know if they should quit their job to pursue an entrepreneurial venture full-time.

Derek said he wasn’t sure what to tell this person. Should he tell them to quit? Or should he tell them to stick with their current job?

The dilemma caused him to think about the fault in giving advice.

Advice is a double-edged sword

Any advice we give to others is based 100% off our personal life experiences. It’s based off the knowledge and actions we have taken throughout our lives. And it may not always be the best advice.

That’s why it’s not useful to tell someone what to do in their life. Especially if you get into a position where people trust your opinion and will do whatever you tell them.

That’s where I could see Derek’s problem. What if he told them to quit their job and dive in full-time and they failed. Would it be his fault? Not really. But I’m sure he would feel pretty bad.

But what if he told them not to quit, and they never get that fire under their ass to turn their venture into something big. Is that also his fault?

I don’t tell anyone what to do, just what I’ve done

From these experiences, I’ve learned that it’s not my place to tell people what to do.

Even in their articles, I do my best to present to you things that I do that work for me, and encourage you to try them out for yourself. But I refrain from telling you what to do.

And this is where I leave it. “This is what I did in this situation. This is the end result. This is how I feel. Try it out yourself.”

I feel better now, not telling others what to do. I merely make suggestions based off my life experience.

Try this out yourself and see how it makes you feel. If you like it, great! If not, that’s okay too.

Do you ever find yourself telling others what to do? Or do you have others in your life who always seem to have advice for every thing? How does it make you feel?

Your thoughts are like a dog on a leash

Your thoughts are like a dog on a leash

It’s 10:10 pm, and I’m winding down to go to bed. I’ve implemented meditation into my life. You can read more about that here. Or here.

I made a decision to meditate before I go to bed.

Why? I noticed that I sleep better on nights where I meditate right before bed.

Am I supposed­­ to medita­te right before bed? Some experts say no. But I don’t care because I feel better doing it.

A few minutes go by as I’m sitting in my chair, trying to go through my mindfulness meditation routine. I have some light music playing in the background, and I’m really trying to focus on my breath.

“What should I have for breakfast?” pops into my head. Shoot. That brought me out of my focused, peaceful state of conciousness.

I take a few deep breaths and focus on my breath and body.

“How am I going to get all of that stuff done at work tomorrow? There’s no way I can do it. I’m so sick of all this…” Arg! I did it again.

Okay, for real this time. I close my eyes and focus on my breaths. I count to three breaths.

“I forgot to schedule my dentist appointment again! I need to make a note of this.” I grab my phone and make a quick note to remind myself to schedule an appointment tomorrow.

“Well that ruined any chance of meditating tonight.”

How many times has this happened to you?

It seems to be happening to me more often lately than I would like.

I sit down to meditate. Then my thoughts explode.

All of the things that I forget about during the day magically appear in my conscious mind. All those thoughts, worries, stresses, appointments, meetings, and so forth.

You name it, and I’m thinking about it, when I least want to.

What could I do to fix this?

A wise friend once gave me some advice when it comes to meditating. They told me my mind is a dog.

“Okay…what?” I asked.

“Just hear me out,” said wise person.

“Imagine your mind as a dog on a leash. Every time you meditate and have a thought, your mind suddenly wants to chase after it.”

“It’s like when a dog sees a car or a ball or another dog. They start going after it and trying to get it.”

“During the day, your mind is an unleashed dog. It chases whatever it wants and goes wherever it wants.”

“But when you meditate, you want to put the dog on a leash. Put your mind on a leash.”

“Your mind is going to chase thoughts for no reason.”

Like when I started to think about breakfast, work, and appointments for no apparent reason.

“So what you need to do is let your mind pursue those thoughts to an extent. And once they’ve gone too far, pull them back in. Just like you would do to a dog on a leash.”

“It’s okay to let your mind pursue different thoughts to a degree. But if you let them go too far, you are defeating the purpose of the meditation.”

“Let your mind wander very slightly, and once it’s gone far enough, pull it back in.”

My wise friend may also be a little crazy. But he has a good point.

So I’m going to try this out next time I meditate. I’ll let my thoughts go a little bit, but then I will pull them back in. Just like a dog on a leash.

Maybe this analogy will help me focus better with my mindfulness meditation. Or maybe it’s just crazy talk. Whatever the case may be, I’m going to test it out tonight and see how it goes.

How Meditation Improved My Monday

How Meditation Improved My Monday

I couldn’t sleep. I was tossing and turning in bed. I was stressed from work. I was anxious about life.

I called up my girlfriend who was out of town. I talked to her and explained my problem.

She has taken an interest in yoga and meditation recently. She loves doing them and finds that it lifts her spirits.

She suggested I start doing yoga and meditation to help with my anxiety. She sent me a couple of guided meditation videos to help me get started.

“Just give it a chance,” she said.

Naturally I resisted. I knew meditation had many benefits. But for some reason I could never bring myself to do it.

I’ve experimented with meditation in the past. I’ll admit, I liked the way I felt. But for some reason I resisted.

I didn’t think it would help in this situation. Besides, some of those videos were just too far out there. It was too touchy, feely for me. You know, the kind of stuff where you have to “find” yourself.

“I’ll do it later” I said.

“Okay, your loss.”

She was right. It was my loss.

I Finally Had Enough

Last Monday I got home from work feeling exhausted. I had eye strain and a headache thanks to staring at the computer all day long.

My back hurt. I was tired and grumpy. I felt lousy.

“Enough. Let me try meditating” I told myself.

I downloaded the Headspace app from Google Play and got to work.

I did the first 10 minute guided meditation session from the app. Afterwards I felt amazing.

I was relaxed throughout my body. I was awake and alert for the first time that day. I was more aware of my body and mind. I felt more present and in the moment.

My sour mood evaporated. I was no longer grumpy. I felt as if I had woken up from a blissful sleep.

I thought to myself, “I could get used to this!”

Could I Replicate This Feeling?

The next day I meditated during my lunch break. The result was the same.

I felt more productive and focused throughout the afternoon. I was energized, but relaxed, if that makes any sense. And I was more aware and mindful of what was going on.

“Why have I put this off for so long?”

Maybe you’re like me. You’ve put off meditating because it’s too touchy feely, or “woo-woo” type stuff. Trust me when I say, it has completly shifted my thinking.

When you mediate, your analytical, reasoning mind shuts down and you have an increased sense of awareness. This state of mind has been described as “Satori,” “Zanshin,” or “enlightenment” in martial arts.

Meditation Has Powerful Physiological Effects

Studies show that people who meditate recover from stressful situations quicker than those who don’t.

Science shows that skin resistance decreases in states of anxiety and stress, and increases when we are relaxed.

Researchers have found that mediators have a large skin resistance, thus allowing them to recover from stressful situations more quickly and better cope with stress.

Your Brain on Meditation

Your brain has various different brain waves, depending on your situation.

When you meditate, you encourage an increase in alpha brain waves. These wave are conducive to creativity and the assimilation of new concepts.

Some practitioners are able to achieve a more relaxed state of mind, which encourage theta brain waves. These types of brain waves are associated with deeper insights and intuition.

Not only that, but those who practice meditation consistently continue to exhibit alpha and theta brain waves after meditation sessions.

This increases relaxation, creativity, and emotional connection for a time period after meditating.

Getting into the “Right” Brain

We have a tendency to use the left hemisphere of our brains. Practicing meditation allows us to “turn off” this verbal, linear, analytic style of information and processes.

This means we become more right brained. Our sense of time and logic no longer dominate our conscious thoughts when we meditate.

Instead we become more holistic, receptive, and think beyond language and logic.

Meditation and Psychology

Finally, research literature suggests that meditation produces feelings of self-transcendence, increased meaning in the world, and more connection with the world.

Other research shows that people are more confident, have better self-control, more empathy, and become self-actualized during meditation as a result of meditation. Finally, people report a decrease in anger and better ability to control their attention thanks to meditation.

Do You Want to Give Meditation a Shot?

I started off by using the Headspace app. You can also find guided meditation videos on YouTube. Here are a few to get started:

Can’t sleep, Meditation For Insomnia, Guided Voice, Gentle Music For Sleepless Nights, Relaxation

The Five Minute Miracle – Daily Guided Meditation

10 Minute Guided Meditation to ease Anxiety, Worry, and Urgency

The benefits of meditation cannot be denied. I was ignorant and held off meditating for so long. Being a bit of a skeptic (and slightly ignorant), I can say that I was completely wrong. Don’t wait so long like I did, try out meditation for yourself and let me know how it goes.

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