“Drugs are bad.” It’s a common notion that, if you grew up anything like myself, you’ve been told and taught from an early age. It’s a belief that is socialized into us through both societal expectations as well as education, but is it entirely true? In Canada, Marijuana was recently legalized countrywide because of a new-age view of this age-old question. More specifically, because of the reality that society as a whole is beginning to understand that not everything we were once told is necessarily rooted in fact. Fortunately for us, we now have science to back these questions. Canada’s adoption of “the devils lettuce” is, in my eyes, more of a symbolic move than anything else. It’s a sign of both change and progress. A symbol indicating that we, as a collective, are much more willing to consider all of the wild and endless possibilities of our world with an open mind. It’s a sign of the thriving sharing economy in action. The world where we are now able to inform and make decisions for ourselves, though this access to information is something we almost certainly take for granted. We’re entering an era where we are beginning to understand that just maybe, all these things we were once told are finally worth questioning.
As a more accepting view on new substances slowly makes its way into the societal norms of both Canada and many Western American states by way of new Marijuana legislation, so too has a new dialogue on the possible benefits of several other therapeutic, though restricted substances. Though there are several thrown in the mix of this discussion, one that particularly stands out is the use of psilocybin mushrooms as both a tool and treatment mechanism. Over the past half century, mushrooms have come and gone from the arena of mental health. I personally first read about their use in University, when reading an assigned book about the use of guided LSD & Psychedelic therapy to cure alcoholism in the post-war prairies of Canada. Since that time, the speculation of this science has become very solidified. Psilocybin is proving one of the most effective treatment options for addictions and depression to date. It’s a substance that many places, including the state of Oregon, are fast-tracking toward legalization. What else? It’s entirely natural, growing straight from the soil of our earth and is undoubtedly much less damaging for the body than it’s synthetic peers.
Several of my favourite intellectuals, from Andrew Weil to Tim Ferris to Michael Pollan are members of an enormous list of advocates for the use of psilocybin. These individuals preach both the scientific benefits as well as the psychological results from their own personal experiences. Experiences which many of these iconic individuals credit for massive changes in their own lives. For myself personally, I have found this substance to be an incredible tool for both creativity as well as mental clarity. In the past, larger doses helped me understand my automatic tendencies in ways I would almost certainly never perceive without. In term, helping me to adjust and even change them. As I got older, preferring smaller, more minute doses has assisted me in reinforcing entirely new and more productive methods of habitual thought into my regular everyday life. Your thoughts, whether directly or indirectly, certainly do create your reality. The key to experiencing a new reality lies in a new train of thought, and that is what the real benefit here is. A common explanation of the psilocybin experience is that it is able to provide a graduate level education in the obvious. It’s an experience providing a natural ability to tune in to the elements of our lives that tend to reside barely outside our sphere of conscious awareness, our blind spots. There is a simple and obvious reason creative professionals around the world have been micro-dosing and undergoing guided sessions with this special substance for years. It is both a powerful and effective tool for the mind in numerous ways, including a strong ability to promote new connections between relatively unrelated regions of the brain. New connections mean new approaches, which then mean new results.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I personally live in a strange world. One where alcoholism is often glorified on television as well as in person, and the use of natural substances that may actually help people is, for whatever reason, defamed. In particular, substances like psilocybin that are still indirectly defined by their distant connection with a partying hippy movement from over 4 decades prior. We still provide boundless validation to the drunk executive pounding tequila at the work Christmas party and we praise the depressed student who has courageously approached their doctor seeking opioids as a cure for their distress. Yet, we continue to view one of the worlds most ancient and revolutionary cures for the mind as an antagonist. I’m not exactly sure how to view this dilemma. To me, this seems like a classic case of wrongful socialization. Just because our norms have always told us one thing, does not necessarily mean they are rooted in the proper values. Though we are certainly catching up pretty damn fast, we still have a long way to go, and things are definitely still a little tiny bit old fashioned. For the most part, drugs really can be pretty bad, and that includes the legal ones. But that doesn’t mean that the statement is necessarily all-encompassing. We really do live in a pretty special time. Technology, science and our understanding of the human psyche are each at their pinnacle. Not only this, but they are now converging. It’s a point in time when an open mind may be the best asset any individual person can possess. Nowadays change is coming at us with rapid speed, all we have to do is be ready for it.
“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money” – STEVE JOBS
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor a professional researcher on this topic, and in no way am I promoting the use of state altering substances without professional supervision. This article is simply a reflection piece from a guy who is able to regurgitate some of the information and experiences I have collected on the topic of psychedelic therapy.
We place a tremendous amount of trust in our bodies ability to communicate with us. It sends us signals when we experience something good, and obvious indications when something is not. It has the ability to tell us what it needs and when it needs it. Hunger is a reminder, exhaustion is an indication and discomfort is signal. Pleasure, pain and every sensation in between provides a similar function, sending us constant feedback about the physical state of our frame. ‘Listen to your body’ is a statement aforementioned by many due to the truth behind it. Each of us possesses our own unique needs, and nobody can truly understand and communicate these physical assertions better than ourselves.
The presence of this intuitive operating system is a concept we have been taught from day one. We instinctively know which sensations are good and bad, and learn the others early on. These indicators have come to be simple truths in our minds. Realities we trust and rely on. When discussing this incredible function of our bodies, I find it interesting that we often neglect one of the most important elements of what it means to be human; our mind. We listen to our bodies, as though they speak to us in the form of irrefutable truths, though we immediately overlook negative thoughts and emotions as illness, disease, or troubles that we must simply neglect. I for one, believe this to be a completely misguided approach to understanding the power of the human mind and what our thoughts are trying to tell us. Just like the powerful sensations of our body, these emotions are absolutely purposeful, and serve an important function that we rarely consider.
We live in a world where more times that not, medical treatment serves to cure the symptoms of an illness, not the cause. This is especially the case with mental distress. We label each symptom with careful consideration, diagnosing troubles before we even understand what exactly their source is. While this approach may absolve problems for some people, I want to bring attention to an alternate perspective. A perspective that is much less demonizing toward our mind and the way it acts when we are not necessarily in control.
Perhaps this form of emotional feeling is in fact meant to serve the exact same purpose as the physical sensations of our body. Maybe our thoughts and emotions are simply here to indicate something important to us. To signify whether we are making the right choices about our lifestyle, our habits and our priorities. I believe it is quite possible that these feelings are nothing more than natures intelligent way of indicating to us that we are out of alignment, that we are disconnected from critical aspects of our being that we personally require to be at our best. These aspects include: meaningful work, social connection, passion, health, purpose and even nature. Just as our bodies bruise when they experience an injury, our minds experience a similar trauma. It is quite obvious to me that wrongful living certainly does not possess the ability for righteous thought. Instead of demonizing or succumbing to the mental patterns in cycle throughout our mind, we should approach them from a stance of observation. Negative emotions possess an incredible opportunity for awareness. Often times they are the wake up call many of us need, reminding us to prioritize elements of life that truly contribute to our happiness and ignore those that do not. They are a chance to self analyze, to change, to grow beyond our old version into a more self aware upgrade of who we once were.
“You are not the voice in your mind, but the one who is aware of it.” – Eckhart Tolle
What is it that your thoughts are trying to tell you? Are you happy? You must be doing something right. Are you frustrated? Maybe, you require a change of habit. This form of observational consciousness is both a skill and an art. In this way, the initiative of living well and mental mastery are one and the same.
Maybe, just maybe, there is nothing wrong with a negative thought. It was meant to be there, the key is understanding why. It is nothing more than a symptom of your life and the diagnosis is simple; how well are you living?
Insecurities are the weeds in your garden. Until dealt with, they grow, and they grow, until they have taken over the tomatoes and your sunflowers. Their roots dive deep, wrapping tightly around any source that can provide them nurture, however temporary or destructive that source may be. Eventually, that too will run out, and those same roots, now bigger than before, will continue diving until they find their next source of sustenance. Just like the weeds in your garden, every sinister event that has happened on our planet was a result of nothing more than insecurity itself.
Over the past few years I have come to truly appreciate this analogy, applying it to my own life with growing resolve. I’ve self analyzed endlessly, coming to awareness of some of the actions I was doing unconsciously to hold myself back. One of the best things I have done was to truly observe my insecurities, assessing why exactly I experience them. What triggers these emotions, where do they come from, and why I am perpetuating these all too familiar patterns. I, like many others, was the saboteur of my own success, though for years I was completely blind to this reality. I dove head first into the world of self-help content in search of answers to my problems, as if books on their own could help me change my reality.
This is where I possess a great deal of criticism for self help industry as a whole. Books and videos are certainly great in a multitude of ways. Knowledge is invaluable and I have no regrets about what have I learned. The problem is not in the information, but in how we approach it. This content compounds upon itself, until our mind becomes a virtual library of “how to” guides, dictating how we must live. The problem here is the drastic difference from one individual to the next. We all experience life uniquely, and my answer may not necessarily be the right one for you. When insecurity is a part of your world, it becomes the decision maker. It dictates what you are going to do, when you are going to do it, and how. It creates a life that seemingly feels beyond our control. A reality that is guided by needs, wants, and desires, not by principles. “How to” guides turn from advice, into nothing more than a thin external veil. One that is still piloted by the same old problems. The paradox here is indeed quite obvious. How much self help is enough? At which point do we graduate from reading about(and nurturing) our challenges to the subsequent stage, where we simply trust our newfound ability to follow a value set. At which point do we confide in our own competency, and actually begin flexing that muscle?
At a certain point, the only way to foster true growth is to face insecurities head on, observing them for what they are. The notion that old habits die hard holds a lot of truth, but when they do finally die, it’s pretty damn worthwhile. Insecurity is an inevitable aspect of being alive. It is part of the human condition and it will come and go as it pleases. We do not get to decide why it happens, but we can decide how. When we stop providing our insecurities with constant nurture, we give ourselves the chance to call the shots.
I was recently chatting with a friend about the current state of the world. In particular, a few specific aspects of modern culture that seem to be particularly noticeable in big cities like ours. People are postponing marriage longer. People are postponing committing to a career longer. And people are postponing moving out of their parents homes longer. At this point it all feels like a pretty normal phenomenon. For the most part, millennials are holding off on the traditional lifestyle our parents grew up with. Despite the fact that this pattern is happening nearly everywhere, there’s still a very powerful and strange pressure to have your life figured out at a really young age. Sorry to the traditional narrative but we are trending in the opposite direction, and that is totally alright.
For myself personally, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to have my shit together. It’s a familiar feeling I’ve had looming over me since the end of high school. Up until just recently, it was constantly jabbing me in the side, trying to convince me to do things I knew did not feel right. It convinced me to try jobs and lifestyles that did not turn me on, and it influenced me to make a lot of decisions based on the expectations of others. The pressure to succeed and progress actually put a significant delay on my headway toward the things I knew I wanted deep down. Giving in to this pressure obstructs the natural and agile flow of our lives along their proper path, and I’m glad I learned this early on. It took me a lot of life experience to realize what this pressure was doing to my success, and my situation changed tremendously when I chose to adopt an alternate perspective.
You don’t need to have your shit figured out. You just need to be doing something.
It’s a really simple concept that carries a powerful message. We all believe we need to have our career solidified, a well established relationship and savings or a home by our mid to late twenties. We’ve been told this our entire lives, and it’s not our fault if we give into this mindset from time to time. With that being said, I believe that expectation is pretty much bullshit. You don’t need to know what will happen ten years from now, and really, you shouldn’t. Anybody who requires that kind of control to be happy is on the wrong path anyway. What you do need is purpose. You need something to work toward because that is what keeps you in gear. It’s what keeps you level headed, and its what keeps you in the present. Purpose gives your actions meaning and it will ensure that you make decisions based on your values, not desires or fears. You do not necessarily need to know where you are going, only that you are going somewhere. Every bit of progress and learning empowers you to do better at the next stage.
As many people have said before, your speed does not matter. Forward is still forward. Accepting and embracing the uncertainty of the process is a skill in and of itself. Uncertainty can be a beautiful thing.
Whether we like it or not, what we experience during childhood plays a massive role in who we become as adults. Our upbringing in and outside the household creates our perception of the world around us, and shapes most of our habits and behaviours. Obviously this happens in school, in organized sports, and on the playground, but most importantly it happens in your household with your family.
I honestly believe I had an awesome childhood. My parents put a huge amount of dedication toward us being able to explore all of our interests and passions (big shout out to mom and dad!), but as a result, the one thing they weren’t able to do was dedicate as much time to themselves. My parents separated while I was in highschool. The one thing my childhood actually didn’t have was a healthy relationship between parents for my siblings and I to learn from and model in our own lives. It’s something that many people understand subconsciously through seeing their parents interact with one another while they grew up, but for children who do not witness this, it can sometimes be difficult to understand and model properly. This does not necessarily mean children of divorce are emotionally fucked up, it just means we have to do the real life learning to figure this out on our own. Learning through experience, observation and conversation. It’s a dynamic we are actively trying to figure out by working to be more self aware, breaking and recreating habits we may have learned as kids. At some point we all have to face the fact that we are a counterpart of our parents, and we are a lot more like them than we may sometimes care to admit.
Right now our world tells us that when we have children, they become the absolute priority. They are to become the end all be all of our time, energy and thoughts. Parents often place their hobbies, social life and even relationship with one another on the back-burner while working to provide for their kids in every way imaginable. They neglect their own emotional and physical well being and it really is quite admirable, though probably not so good for themselves. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what this kind of sacrifice may feel like, but I can certainly speak from the perspective of someone who watched his parents live out this scenario. I believe that at times, modern parents should consider embracing a slightly more selfish outlook than they may want to.
I am not a therapist, a counselor or a psychologist, but I do believe I have read and experienced enough to understand that the best way to lead is by example. The family sphere is no exception. The best way to show your children how to be healthy, happy people in the world and their relationships is to show them. Children absorb what they see between parents while growing up and whether good or bad, often remodel some side of it in their own life. The more I observe the relationships all around me, the more I see this to be true. I understand the feelings and emotions behind it, but I believe the cultural narrative of putting your kids above everything is not as healthy as we all assume. The best thing for your family is for you to be at your very best so that your children can understand how to do the same.
Parent’s, don’t be afraid to put you and your relationship first. It may be the very best thing for everyone, including your children.
Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend a meet and greet event and have a chat with the CEO of my new workplace. Though he had a lot of really interesting thoughts and concepts to share, one sentiment from his closing speech really caught my attention.
“My biggest advice for you guys is that you can only control the things that are within your influence. The best way to live in your personal and professional life is to leverage those factors as much as you can, but consciously allow the rest to happen as it will. You have to put in an effort, but at a certain point the chips are going to fall where they are going to fall, and the right people and opportunities are going to happen however they are supposed to.”
Though someone residing at the pinnacle of success may have been one of the last people I expected to hear this from, this statement was actually one of the best explanations of a concept I’ve been wanting to verbalize for quite a long time: the balance between consciously creating our reality and allowing circumstances to unfold naturally. Both of which are common lessons of modern spirituality, but where exactly do we draw the line between taking action and stepping back to observe a situation while it turns out exactly how it is meant to?
As modern humans, we falsely believe we are entitled to absolute control over our lives. It is actually quite an unhealthy way to make decisions, and often creates much more friction than ease. As any high achiever will tell you, nothing worth having is easily accomplished. This is simply a truth. Success, appreciation and happiness are things we create and earn, but there has and always will be a special place in the process for the art of allowance. Resisting things we cannot change is much like swimming against the current, and you can bet humans loathe that as much as the fish.
Life is not supposed to be easy, but it is supposed to be simple. We complicate processes that truly are quite basic: great goals are worth the effort, always prioritize the things that bring you happiness and be grateful for almost everything in between. Anything within your control is where conscious creation is at work. Allowance is not about holding back on actions well within your scope of influence, but it is reserved for those that are not. Certain parts of life always have and always will require a certain amount of dedication. If you want to be a CEO, you have to put in the hours. If you want to surf big waves, you better be ready to get your ass kicked by the ocean A LOT. But this does not apply to everything. You can never hustle your way into a friendship, or force someone to appreciate you.
Just as the right occupation will be fun and enjoyable, the right people will be effortless and straightforward to spend time with. Difficult scenarios are not the sign of a natural experience. Be mindful of the resistance you may feel and why you are experiencing it. You will never be able to control how others and situations appear in your world, only how you are approaching them.
Your reality is nothing more than a reflection of who you are being.
I have always had a curious edge to my personality. Though I’ve been affirmed of this since I was a child, it was later on that I truly came to understand the presence of this trait in all areas of my worldview. This idiosyncrasy sat in the driver seat for most of my adult life, steering my world in every which direction, until at a certain point, the path became slightly more clear. My explorative nature fostered a tendency to delay aspects of life that many people deem important, though this same habit provided me with a vibrant form of clarity I may have never found elsewhere.
The self understanding that curiosity has provided for me is truly invaluable.
Taking the time to travel has humbled me. It has forced my mind wide open, throwing me beyond outer reaches of my comfort zone. Pursuing a list of passions has made me realize what personal success means for me in specific, and what genuine dedication feels like. A highly assorted work life has taught me the meaning of hustle, while demonstrating to me which kinds of duties cause me to disengage. It has shown me a new set of interests, skills, and exactly how I can shape a professional life that truly excites me. Dating has taught me which qualities and tendencies I value in others, which I do not, and how I want to act as a partner. It has shown me how to demonstrate strength for the sake of myself, for the sake of another, and how to let go of pieces that may not fit in my puzzle. Each and every one of these lessons has taught me how to move forward with courage and a ‘take action’ mindset on the leading front of my desires. All the while, utilizing careful discernment for when my gut has something important to say.
Experience truly is a moving force.
Quite recently I’ve began to recognize a set of new qualities in myself. I notice that I have come to observe and pilot my actions through new guidelines, ones that lack the ambiguous nature of my old tendencies. I see a path forward and what I would like to create, a vision I previously neglected to consider. I understand what red flags mean, while regarding the green ones with equal importance. Right now, I feel as though I am entering a stage I’ve seen many others arrive at before me, and I’m sure to see many others enter later. A stage I’m choosing to call: the crossroads of everything. It’s the point that lies at the juncture of confusion and certainty, where things suddenly begin to make some sense. I’m about to turn 27 years old, and right now, the world looks like a big ole’ oyster.
“I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.” — Olivia Newton-John
I remember the days when my friends and I would run home from our bus stop to continue chatting on msn. I can recall sitting at my screen, messaging friends and waiting for my crush to sign in so that just maybe, if I felt courageous that day, I could send them a little heart (before it was even called an emoji). Fast forward through myspace and dial up internet to the emergence of Facebook, and the internet was booming. Spending time cruising feeds and profiles was actually a satisfying delight, at least for me. I went online solely because it was super fun, and not for anything else.
I used to log in less than a few times a month. That same action very slowly turned into a weekly, daily, and often times, an hourly habit. When I open Facebook or Instagram now, it certainly does not feel as though it comes from the same desire as it once did. More likely, the action is sparked by a strange craving. An odd desire for validation, relevancy, and stimulation.
I talk about this topic a lot. This ongoing conversation of mine is quite likely due to one fairly simple reason: this trend scares me. I for one, can describe a noted change in the function and patterns of my mind since reaching the point where my technology use could easily be described as ‘chronic’. I am certainly more distractible than I used to be, constantly requiring a noteworthy source of stimulation to feed off. I notice the very real attachment to my phone, opening and closing apps constantly, an action that is often void of any true purpose. Of course, this may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but the trend is very real and I know I am far from the exception. I remember watching a Simon Sinek interview a couple years ago where he mentions that if you are spending time with real people and looking at your phone for no particularly important reason, you are not a technology user, you are a technology addict. I can admit that this action often describes myself, and this is nearly every millennial I know. We are consumed by our technology, and this is not necessarily good.
An interesting yet concerning trend I often consider is the growing propensity for young adults to suffer from depression and anxiety. This tendency seems to coincide quite well with the concurrent emergence of cell phones, social media and the internet. We could simply blame apps and cell phones, but how can we assume that these are really the source of the problem? In actuality, apps are helping us connect more than ever. A common argument is that we are inherently social creatures, and these platforms have created the ability to interact in ways our ancestors couldn’t even think of in dreams. From this perspective, it makes little sense why these apps would be the potential cause of the largest anxiety epidemic in history. On a biological level, our social behaviour is absolutely evolutionary. We require interaction. It makes us healthy, it makes us happy, and it aids our survival. Pack animals need to be able to get a long, and our minds have changed to accommodate this. However, does a text message really satisfy that biological craving for social communication? In my mind, even a phone call is pretty far off from the multi-sensory stimulation of an in person conversation. I’m willing to put money on the fact that the human subconscious would agree.
“Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society, they are a challenge to it.” ― Clay Shirky
Something interesting to consider is the drastic difference in child rearing strategies of parents who work in silicon valley and the world of tech, and parents who work in unrelated industries. Recently, the web has been littered with articles outlining this polarity in parenting styles and why it may be happening. Contrary to popular belief, tech parents are far more restrictive when it comes to their children’s time and exposure to technology than the average family. Consider the fact that this information is trending online only shortly after multiple confessions from ex Facebook executives about the platforms chilling effects on the human dopamine response. Many of these tech moguls are in fact publicly announcing their discontinued use of social media all together. With all this information coming into the public sphere, one must stop and ask the question: what exactly do these people know that we do not? I can tell you one thing for certain; they know a lot more than we do, and they are pretty freaked out.
At which point did our appreciation shift away from momentary presence, toward the endless highlight real of our own individual reality? When did we stop caring about things that actually made a difference? Things like interactions, passions, skills and learning, instead opting to share that third post about our recent snack, or the fifth snapchat of our cat. I think we sometimes forget that there are actual people out there living life so well that you never hear from them. People who don’t feel the need to post, people who don’t feel a desire to share, people who don’t login without a purpose. I’m not talking about the people who have fallen behind, I’m talking about the people who simply have different priorities. To the online world they seem irrelevant, like ghosts who have fallen off the social grid altogether, but to themselves and the people around them, they are vivid, full, and conscious. These are people who look you in the eyes when you speak to them, and listen to your words. These are people enthralled in their reality. These are people who are so unforgivably themselves that they don’t need your “likes” to feel special.
These are people worth appreciating, and this is a lifestyle worth living. It seems to me that right now we have it all backwards.
Over the past couple of years writing has become a place where I can self analyze. It is a hub for contemplation, and has helped me reflect on my hopes, plans, process, and thoughts. So far, this form of reflection has assisted in better self alignment, aiding the process of making decisions based on values, and not simply from how I may feel at any given point in time. I’ve found a lot of benefit from being open with myself through writing, and this act alone has helped to present me with a variety of unexpected opportunities to connect with others in a similar way. Quite likely the most unexpected side effect of my blog has been the outpouring of vulnerability that people in my life tend to reciprocate. The more I have chosen to share my stories, the more others have chosen to share theirs with me. I love having the opportunity to engage in deep and meaningful conversations with people in general, and this has quickly become one of my favourite aspects of my website. Vulnerability truly is infectious. Through all the interpersonal learning I have done in recent years, I can compile the material into one simple fact: that everyone experiences their own form of struggle.
2018 is a pretty crazy time to be alive. We are living at the forefront of technology, families are changing everywhere, and humanity as a whole is attempting to adapt to these changes as fast as we can. In truth, we haven’t caught up to the pace of our own creation. We are simultaneously more connected than ever, while being the most lonely generation in history. Social networks and many of these modern forms of association are methods of connection that lack authenticity. We don’t see the good and the bad, or hear the ups and downs of peoples stories. You know, the real stuff. We see and interact with a groomed image, where even words in messages are censored and managed. It is a trick on our human nature to be social, and leaves our brains craving a strange fix of chemicals that do our mind no good. We are small players in a society wide predicament, and the answer sure seems pretty damn obscure. I do not say this with the intention of cynicism, but to illuminate the reality that mental illness is all around us. This truly is a culture wide phenomenon, and nobody is alone.
I was recently speaking to a friend of mine about this topic while he was filling me in on a story of his own. From his perspective, many people who struggle with personal issues possess a complicated relationship with guilt and shame. They are keenly aware of their misdoings and misguidings, and these two forces create tension in their reality. The important thing to note is the significant difference between these two words. It was understanding this distinction that caused him to take massive action to adjust his mindset and behaviour. Guilt is the belief that we have made a bad choice. It is that sick feeling when we know an action is bad, and it is absolutely natural to experience. Shame on the other hand, is the judgement from these actions that we are simply a bad, troubled or inadequate person. Guilt has the potential to inspire change, learning, apology and forgiveness, while shame will inevitably lead to secrecy and escapism. Whether the escape is a person, a substance, a place or an activity, secrecy and escapism are two acts that simply grow and grow as we continue to indulge. They are self sabotaging forces that only serve to inhibit our growth, locking us in the starting gate of progress.
“YOU CAN’T HEAL WHAT YOU WILL NOT REVEAL” — JAY Z
Over the years, I myself have experienced my own set of challenges and deeply personal struggles. Perhaps they are the result of my parents divorce, perhaps they are from a past relationship or my childhood. Regardless of their source, I can admit that at times I have chosen to handle these issues in negative ways, opting for escapes and expedient solutions that I would later learn to be quite temporary. These crutches have and always will be nothing more than band-aid solutions, expanding the distance between myself and situations I would prefer.
Through conversation, observation and personal experience, I no longer believe the debate is about whether or not all people have their own form of personal issues and challenges. Between the topics of mental and physical health, family dynamics, and living conditions, nearly every individual is impacted in one way or another. We live in an era where this is nothing more than a simple reality. What is up for discussion however, is the approach we choose to utilize as we move forward with our lives. Are we going to be the kind of person who hides under the rock of comfort every time our issues flare up or are we going to make the choice to face them head on, with courage and vulnerability guiding our actions. I know this decision is not always easy, but it is an important one to consider. You are the only person who can take full responsibility for your circumstances. Realizing and acting on this is the true expression of self love.
Disclaimer: I was inspired to write this article after seeing a huge amount of people posting their stories during Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada on January 31st of this year. I wrote this with the simple intention of shining a small light on the fact that mental illness, personal struggle and the like are not rare, unique, or in any way something to be ashamed of. We live in an era of overstimulation and these types of problems are much closer to the mean than to the outliers. In no way am I attempting to take away from the struggles of people with any form of truly debilitating conditions of their own.
I started writing as a way to add credibility to my resume. Beyond a few published articles, I had no intention of continuing. What I wanted was an interesting work life, and my lack of success in finding this prompted me to search for new, self sufficient methods I could utilize to build my skillset. My first article was simply the result of being struck by a thought while spending time somewhere unfamiliar, and figuring that I may as well try something new and unfamiliar while I was at it. In that moment, the sole purpose of writing was to function as a tool for building myself up. A lot has changed since then.
Although I first started to write over two years ago, it was only recently that I decided to put forth a commitment to regular writing. My writing used to be absolutely sporadic, only occurring when a wave of inspiration came into my reality. Organizing my thoughts was difficult, as I stewed over pieces for ages before they were of any quality worth sharing. One of the biggest changes I have noticed since I first started is the actual improvement of my content. First, my grammatical ability has been amplified, but most noticeable for me is my greater ability to connect and articulate thoughts with increasing accuracy. These are just the ways in which my writing has improved, but there are things outside the act of writing that have improved as a result as well.
Writing is an inherently creative process. What I have learned is that creativity is like a muscle. It starts small, but grows with practice and new challenges. I was recently listening to a podcast with Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell where he states that the best thing for his creativity was having daily deadlines. It forced him to generate ideas and write frequently. This process helped him develop an instinctive ability to brainstorm and in turn, create. Writing often has enhanced my ability to think in new, alternative forms. In an interesting way, expressing my ideas often is actually fuelling my ability to conceive them as well. The “ideas” note in my phone grows daily, far faster than my ability to even produce articles. Adopting the mindset of a content creator has helped me break into projects that are beyond the realm of creative writing alone. It’s exciting. I now work in a creative industry and am now experiencing opportunities to work with creatives and outspoken individuals of all sort. It has become another source of inspiration and is allowing me the chance to get involved in new modes of production I have never experimented with before now.
“Every creative act, however small, enriches our species and the world around us. To find and nurture talent, is to be truly wealthy.” – Stewart Stafford
As a writer, reading and writing go hand in hand. The things I read and the things I listen to are often the source material for new projects. Books and audio content consume a generous amount of my time which, consequently, inspires the bulk of my articles. Writing more has catalyzed me to read and listen more. It’s kind of like a positive feedback loop of new knowledge and (hopefully) greater skill. During university I neglected books and many forms of reading. Endless amounts of school work shaped a personal belief that reading was always and exclusively a chore. After, when outside that learning environment, I found the absence of a learning process instilled within me the urge to find new ones. This spurred me to start writing and reading again, with the amount of reading increasing equal to the amount I started writing. It still amazes me how much my passion for learning has changed since my days as a 16 year old with an unhealthy obsession for snowboarding and nearly nothing else. Reading, writing, and vulnerability are all things I now enjoy and continue to have more and more fun with the deeper I go.
Writing started small for me and has evolved into something entirely different. I write often, I write better, and that’s because I enjoy the process involved. For myself personally, the benefit lies in the opportunity to be a creator. Before I started writing I only consumed. I read, I watched, I listened, and I bought. Everything was taken inward but I had nothing to reflect outward. The new ways of thinking involved in writing regularly stimulates the mind in a unique way that can truly shift our mental schema. I think we live in an era where this is becoming an incredibly valuable ability. Creators innovate. Creators lead, and creators mold their own path in a world where everything seems to be pre-defined and pre-destined for us.I began creating as an early step toward an eventual ability to avoid typical corporate 9-5 life, but many others do the same to thrive in that environment. It all depends what you are looking for.
From the beginning, I began writing to bring value to my situation in whatever way I could. What I didn’t realize was how much value this interest would truly manifest. Creation is an intangible skill that will change your life over time through repetition, through working that creative muscle. It can be as simple as knitting scarves for your friends or cooking new dishes. Finding a way to express yourself outwardly is something that needs to be taken advantage of and not for granted. Becoming a creator will alter and grow your mindset in ways that are difficult to describe, and this is not exclusive to writing or any individual art form for that matter. Any creative interest that brings value to your life is good.
A popular topic I’ve found myself reading up on time and time again is the law of attraction. What exactly is the law of attraction? It is the simple belief that we create our reality through our thoughts. On a subconscious level, visualizations and a host of other practices have the power to literally draw circumstances we desire into existence. It’s a complicated concept to grasp, but I personally know this to be true. This rule explains most of the things I have achieved and paradoxically most of my adversities. I am a firm believer that in most circumstances, we are directly responsible for the conditions in our life. Whether that be the result of our conscious behaviours, or aspects of ourselves that are a little more buried. Although I am an advocate for this mindset, I believe there are a few major misconceptions about this law that mainstream portrayals regularly neglect to reflect upon.
My first objection is that the the law of attraction is centered around what we are gaining. It is typically based upon a complete fixation on what we are receiving alone, and is only taken into consideration when we want something. The thought that manifestation is all about what we are getting at any given time is entirely backwards. One of the most insightful phrases I have heard recently is that “you don’t get in life what you want, but you get a reflection of who you are being”. This statement resonates with me on many levels, and coincidentally explains a lot of my experiences. It may be counter-intuitive to focus on what we are projecting, but this is the true method behind the art of manifesting our hopes and dreams. Whatever we focus on giving off outwardly is what will be reflected back at us. Learning to be happy with our current situation is critical in manifesting more goodness. Positive thoughts cause us to notice positive opportunities, while projecting negativity will result in us only recognizing and thus attracting situations we do not want. This concept applies on a very deep and widespread level. For example, being devious and untrustworthy will only manifest more of the same. Perhaps we will realize and assume that others are capable of acting just as we are, then causing us to sabotage our relationships through fears and undesirable behaviours. This phenomenon occurs in an identical way on the positive side of the spectrum; as we share our time and help others, they will want to return the favour and our relationships will grow. The principle is simple but often overlooked: focus on what we project outward far before focusing on what we will receive.
The second consideration I often see overlooked is the basis of the law of attraction upon true action. Many critics claim the law is pseudoscience because they personally are not seeing any immediate and noteworthy results. They typically create vision boards and reflect daily, and are puzzled when the world does not throw their dreams at them without cause. Aside from the fact that this overly critical mindset inherently repels our desires, the belief that the law of attraction is some mystical phenomenon that magically creates situations from thin air is absolutely wrong. The law of attraction is about awareness of what we are looking for in combination with doing. From this place of understanding our desires and the individual we must be to have them, manifesting is based entirely on the process of taking action. Action and action alone is what will create the circumstances we desire. Nobody who is truly happy or accomplished achieved this from sitting around waiting for the universe to happen to them, they created that reality. The purpose of reflection is to understand what it is that we want, so we can take necessary steps and subconsciously follow the path toward it. The law of attraction is not just an easy way out.
“Imagination is everything, it is the preview of life’s coming attractions” – Albert Einstein
The last and likely most significant aspect of the law of attraction that I believe is misunderstood is the notion of “letting go” or “detaching”. Although in theory this seems easy to understand, I personally find that it is the most difficult part of the law to master and apply in real life. The misunderstanding here is likely caused by the very definitions of the terms used to explain it. Detachment is often viewed as a critical part of the law of attraction. It is explained as the practice of letting go of circumstances in order to draw the possibility closer to our reality. In my mind, a certain aspect of this is inherently the same as simply being complacent. How can we expect to receive what we want if we are entirely detached from the outcome? In actuality, this is not the process this explanation is meant to describe. If you read a little deeper, the notion of detachment does not mean we are to become passive observers of our own existence, avoiding any form of pursuit. It simply means that while we are taking that conscious action that is so necessary, we are detached from the innate human impulse to control how exactly it is that the desired scenario plays out. We are not detaching from our appetite for what we desire, but we are letting go of our pre-picked frameworks for exactly how is it that we expect those things to unfold. This is how we allow circumstances to happen naturally. In the real world we do not get to decide how, why, or in what form our desires will be presented to us. Letting go is not about allowing the docile forces of nature dictate our reality. It is about being okay with how things play out despite the fact that they may not be occurring in a way we have absolute control over. We are not detaching from the results, but detaching from how it is that those results take form. “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”(Carl Jung) is a statement with so much truth behind it. Trying to control reality is a form of resistance that eventually repels goodnesses away.
I can understand why it is that the law of attraction is routinely perceived to be some form of phony wizardry. On a spiritual level it seems a little farfetched, but in actuality it is a very rational philosophy. My main critique of modern spirituality as a whole is that it often takes the power away from us as individuals, placing labels and outcomes on situations that are yet to transpire. In simple terms, the law of attraction is the art of mind mastery, and has a lot less to do with magic than it does about awareness. Thoughts are powerful, but action is critical. The key here is to remain open to the prospect that there is an entire realm of possibility residing inside the subconscious world of the human mind. We are connected to our outcomes in a very powerful way.