Dear Me

Colorful VortexI think it is about time that I spoke with my teenage self. I want to let him know what I’ve learned throughout my adult life.

Let’s start with something simple but fundamental: do not be afraid of women. They can be wonderful and mysterious and generous and caring. Even though they intimidate you, it helps to actually talk to them and not take rejection too personally. It’s OK if you’re not their type. There are many women who will want to know you. Eventually, one will love you unconditionally.

Be who you are. Don’t worry that you like poetry more than football. If we all blended in with the crowd, there would be no change in this world. Do not live inside the prejudices of others. Change comes from being different, even if that means being ridiculed. One day you will be the difference that others envy.

Make choices from the infinity of your existence. Don’t live inside a box with a label on it. The labels are put there by others, people who see life through limitations.

Don’t let your ambitions become unrealized dreams. There are many bumps in the road to fulfillment but don’t take those as failure. Failure is giving up. Failure is accepting someone telling you that you’re not good enough. Failure is believing in the doubts and fears of others.

Take risks. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. Later in life you will have responsibilities but now you have none except to yourself. A career is something people talk about to justify a job. Take your passions and make them work for you.

Don’t make enemies. Revenge is like gluttony. It’s satisfying for a moment in time but leaves you feeling ill. Rise above the petty grievances that weigh others down in meaningless pursuits. You are better than that.

Make a difference. It’s not about designer clothes, Swiss watches or German cars. The difference you make is about the people you meet, the positive thoughts that you can infect them with. The progress you make in your life can also be the progress for others. Greatness comes from impact.

Your life ends one minute at a time. Never waste a single moment. Live in the ecstasy of wonder, the joy of discovery. Cancel the dark thoughts with the exhilaration of what is possible. The light shines brightly from within you. Others may try to extinguish it but never dim that light yourself.

You are alive. It is the greatest gift of all.

Live it. Never be forgotten.

And I will never forget you. Because you are me.

The Future is Ours

Crane DawnI was on a flight from Hong Kong to New York recently when I realized something that could change my life forever. How little time we spend actually thinking. I don’t mean worrying about the trivia that fills our minds with useless thoughts every moment of the day. I mean stopping for a considered time to clear our minds of meaningless nonsense and to think about something different, something perhaps bigger than who we are today or the contribution we could make to this life.

And it started me thinking about the ambition of my youth and for a moment I was sad and lost and then I simply thought of something that filled me with an overwhelming sense of exhilaration. The thought that ambition is not over until we choose to give it up. And it is our choice whether we live this life with the thoughts of something bigger or lose ourselves in the everyday minutiae of nothing at all.

By thinking about something – writing a novel, starting a business, a charitable cause or whatever it may be – we have a proven chance of achieving it. But all the time we have meaningless arguments inside our heads, reliving the past or worrying about things we cannot change, we are wasting something vital that could change our lives forever – using our minds to create a beautiful and more enriched future.

So now, I am banishing any thought that has no purpose, the internal nonsense that goes around and around and burns up the most important development of evolution, the ability to think for ourselves.

It has taken six billion years to evolve us to where we are today, with the most developed brain of any species. The limbic brain and the neocortex, 3 lbs of jelly that represents the absolute pinnacle of evolution. We can use it to play Candy Crush all day or change the world we live in. In the end it is down to thought and motivation – and the other great gift we have. The gift of freedom of choice.

Don’t waste it.

I have been writing again after many months of absence and I feel thrilled that once challenged, our minds come forward with a mass of creativity, of invention, of wonder. I’m now half way through writing a new book and I feel more excited than at any time in my life.

Be excited for all that can be rather than worried about all that may be or all that was. We have been gifted the greatest thinking machine of evolution, the human mind. And we need to use it.

The future is waiting to be created. And it is all ours.

Change

115969627Real life is what happens while we console ourselves with hopes and dreams. It’s a bit like staring at a glossy holiday brochure, longing to be on that distant sandy beach. But never taking the trip.

Hopes and dreams without action have an outcome of despair. Loveless relationships, unfulfilled ambitions and soulless lives will eventually leave you only with the emptiness of hope.

To change your life for the better takes action. But most of us continue exactly as we are. For some of us, it’s a fear of change. For others, it’s a fear of losing what we have. And then there is the false belief that we are powerless to change anything. So we do the same things, day in day out, hoping that life will one day get better. But it never does.

If you’ve read the true stories I write, you will know that I grew up with the constant horror of insanity, addiction, poverty and abuse. Combined, they destroyed my childhood and left me as a teenager destitute of positive emotions, utterly incapable of participating normally in the grown-up world.

As a child, I could not take control of my life because others had control. But as I grew into an adult, control passed to me and with it came a burning ambition to have something better. And I realized that if you want things to change, you have to have an element of control. It is impossible to control everything in our lives but that is not the point. With even a small amount of control, you can achieve a positive change. So long as you act. Plans and ambitions can give you a great illusion of progress. Without action, they are dreams that never come true.

I am often asked how I achieved success in my life after growing up with such a dreadful childhood. Why didn’t I simply give up and blame others? My answer is simple: I knew that life could be better. And if you are in the lowest, darkest place, there are so many levels of beauty right above you. Beauty, waiting for you to reach out and touch it.

Actually, we should all live with hopes and dreams. But to fulfill your life, you need action and action means change and for change you need some level of control. The time to start is today. Every day you can change something that improves your life, maybe in a tiny way, maybe in a huge way. Even if you are in a terrible, hopeless place right now, small improvements every day will eventually lead to a transformation.

If we don’t change, we will forever be staring at the same holiday brochure, never making the journey. Waiting for our dreams to come true. But forever trapped in a dark cellar, terrified of what is hiding in the corner.

While right above our heads­ is the light of beauty.

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