The Rightful Owner

Are you the job you work at?

Are you the shoes you wear?

Are you the money you earn?

Are you anything and everything but yourself?

If you’re struggling to make sense of who you are, perhaps now is a good time to look around your home at the material items you possess…

The drawer full of expensive jewellery.

The wardrobe full of designer clothes.

The kitchen full of modern appliances.

Now take a long hard look at these things and think back to when you bought them and why.

Once you have done so, ask yourself: ‘Am I the owner of these things or are these things the owner of me?’

Thanks for reading.

Goodbye, Social Media

Yesterday, I roamed the countryside for several hours with the aim of silencing a few voices in my head. The voices that speak to me when I’m alone. The voices that speak to me when I’m in a crowd. The voices that never allow my real inner voice to have its say. These voices, just like the world we live in, can be loud, busy and manipulative. Your mind is born individual, but as your mind matures, it becomes less individual. Your mind struggles to find its own voice due to the thick crowd of other voices that it begins entertaining. ‘Please leave now! You have overstayed your welcome,’ you may tell the crowd of other voices in your head, but similar to any crowd in need of dispersing, it often takes more than a few words to get them to leave.
 
It is clear that we all need a break from time to time: a break from our friends, from our family, from our teachers, from our minds - a break from ourselves. Sometimes we need some time just to be. Time to sit in silence, time to be still. If we don’t allow ourselves the time to rejuvenate, the voices in our heads will continue to talk over us and our physical body will be slow in repairing itself.
 
I am now at the stage where I feel the need to take a short vacation - a vacation to my own personal oasis. For those of you who too have experience in visiting your own personal oasis from time to time, you should know the rules by now… no social media and limited screen time. No if's, and no but's. Therefore, come tomorrow, 30/04/2020, will mark the first day of my seven-day hiatus from social media.
 
The reason why I am taking this break from social media is that I’m very aware of how much time it takes away from other, more important things in my life; time away from my writing; time away from my reading; time away from my meditation; time away from my relationships; time away from myself. I feel that social media acts as an escape platform for who we are and what we’re truly meant to be doing with our lives. Instead of relaxing with our loved ones, we now relax with our mobile devices. When we were young, we clung onto our parents like they were our guardian angels, but as grew older, many of us stepped further away from those people who were bringing us joy and stepped closer towards a piece of plastic with flashing lights and loud noises to bring us joy. Does this sound right to you? The system appears broken to me.
 
Tonight, when you are in the same room as your family or friends, you must ask yourself: ‘Which do I value more: my loved ones or the handheld device that I'm holding in my hand?’
 
Social media has had a large impact on my life: it has helped me to earn a living but at the same time has taken away from me living my life. When I upload videos of me training in the gym to Instagram, as silly as this may sound, I often feel that if I wasn’t to upload the video I wouldn't feel like I have trained at all. This isn't right, and this isn't the way I want to lead my life. Therefore, I must ask myself: ’How much ego is attached to what I’m doing?’
 
Ego is like cancer, and if left untreated, it will spread like wildfire through your entire being.
 
The time that I will be saving from not being on social media over the course of the next seven days, I will spend working on a few other important tasks: editing the remains of my new book: How To Die, Happily; reading a few books; meditating (specifically on death - as there is no better time than now to do so); going on long walks - and overall, providing my mind, body, and soul with the rest they deserve.
 
Perhaps this is a good time for you too, through this pandemic we’re currently facing, to take some time away from social media. Instead of scrolling aimlessly through Instagram, replying to emails, and binge-watching shows on Netflix, you could perform some small but meaningful activities: go for a walk, wash your clothes, clean your house, cook some food, read a good novel, paint a picture, write in your journal, spend quality time with your family - and if you're feeling daring, perhaps begin learning a new language? Take this time to do the things that a human is born to do.
 
As of tonight, my phone, similar to us all right now, will be placed on lockdown - isolated inside a draw, all by itself.
 
Please note: I will be contactable through Facebook messenger and Instagram DM throughout the day to check-in with my friends and family as I'm sure you will all agree that now is not a suitable time to scratch myself completely off the map of life, as doing so would prove wildly irresponsible of me.
 
Lastly, to those of you who take the time to read my articles, I will still be writing and posting them up on my blog every day over the next seven-days during my hiatus from social media.
 
Thanks for reading.

All The Small Things

The shoes you wear, the bag you carry, the car you drive. Soon they won't mean much, soon they won't be enough, soon they will need upgrading.

You shop tirelessly around the clock and spend your money unwisely on meaningless bits of stuff in the hope that one day they will bring you happiness, but are you any happier for having done so? For a short time, perhaps, but as time drifts on, the truth eventually exposes itself. And the result? You are left, once again, feeling hollow inside and in craving of yet another fresh purchase.

You see, whilst the average rampant consumer believes that they want to buy whatever it is they are buying because they “like it,” the truth is a far stretch from that. The reality is that most people don’t want or need the new jacket, the new handbag, the new sofa, the new whatever, they want the feeling that stems from buying it. These people crave fulfilment and order in their life, but the fact of the matter is that the more stuff these people buy the less fulfiled they feel and less order their lives end up having.

Why do you think a family of four needs a three-car garage? It’s because the parents buy the first car which ignites a dopamine infusion - which is equally addictive to heroin - and then they buy a second car and a third car and so on wishing that the temporary novelty they feel will last forever, but it never does. The cycle of consumerism is vicious and unforgiving. And as unfortunate as it is, the fact of the matter is that human beings are programmed to always want more.

‘But I love my car.’ Indeed you might. Though do tell me, how does a man love metal, glass, leather, and tyres? ‘I love how my car makes me feel when I am driving it.’ There you have it: you do not love your car, you love the feeling it provides you. But do be wary of this love, for this love is corrupt, dangerous, and disloyal.

‘But I work so hard, I deserve to buy the things I want.’ And there lies your problem. You are working more, stressing more and living less in order to purchase things that, in good time, end up owning you.

Be careful that you do not become a slave to your ambition only to then become a slave to the material items you have lying around collecting dust in your home - and to your home itself.

To those of you who don't think that there isn’t anything wrong with consumption, I agree with you. Consumption isn’t the problem, compulsive consumption is. Now, this isn’t to say, if you do decide to make a transition over to minimalism that you have to donate, sell, or destroy all of your personal belongings. You don’t. That is no what minimalism is and it’s not what a minimalist does. Minimalism is about living a life of more with less - the more in what you value and the less in what you don’t. 

Soon, you will be nothing and nowhere, the same as everybody else. So, with this in mind, you must ask yourself: ‘What really is important to me?’

Thanks for reading.

The Invisible Killer

"Imagine you were dead now, or had not lived before this moment. Now view the rest of your life as a bonus, and live it as nature directs." - Marcus Aurelias
After all of this nail-biting and head-scratching over this strange and troubling time that we are all currently experiencing, surrounding the pandemic that is Covid-19, thoughts of death have been at the forefront of my mind - as I'm sure it has and continues to be at the forefront of many of yours, too.
 
It is important for us, the humans in the present fight against Coronavirus to be cognisant of the fact that it possesses nothing more than what is already fated to take place.
 
With the death toll rising at an alarming rate due to the spread of this deadly disease over the past several weeks, one thing that has become very clear, to me at least, is that there is nothing to fear. Due to the morbid perception that the subject of mortality holds, many people choose to swiftly brush it under the carpet when it arises in conversation - but in doing so only causes more harm than good, especially for one's soul.
 
Allowing yourself to sow a mere thread of understanding toward death is simply not enough, you must learn to not only understand but to embrace that all lives - be it a short-lived or long-lived life - both eventually end up in the same state.
 
In order to become a student of life, you must first become a student of death.
 
For yourself, for your lover, for your family, for your friends, mortality is inevitable. It is the one thing that we cannot run from, hide from or buy ourselves out of. Billions of people have roamed the Earth before us and billions more will roam the Earth long after we are gone. No man can escape the day of his fate, therefore he should focus on living the life that he currently is, whilst he still can.
 
This is the way of life; this is the way of the world.
 
Whilst we can ponder on what the future brings for us and those close to us, the curiosity that we choose to dress our minds with is nothing more than squandered time. I too have fallen into the trap of yawning countless hours away through fruitless speculation of what the future holds. For years I have spent vital energy and precious time wondering what death is, how it will treat me, when it will greet me, not knowing that I have spent only 28 years alive in this life of mine at present, falling ignorant to the state I owned for so long before I started living.
 
'Go on…’, It is simple: before life, I was not. Now I have life, I am. What comes after I depart this life shall mimic the same situation prior to my birth.
 
'How so?’ Because I have already experienced death - and not through the power of meditative practice or during a deep slumber of some sort - but in its purest form.
 
'When, then?' Before my heart began beating - and long before that.
 
Now, having realised that I have already faced death and lived long before in its company, I am now able to drop all concerns of what is to follow, and instead, focus on living the life I am at present.
 
Thanks for reading.

The Art of Doing Nothing

For as long as I can remember, I have always found great difficulty in finishing projects that I’ve started. And this most recent project of mine, my new book: How To Die, Happily - in which I have been attempting to bring to a conclusion for almost two-years now - owns no exception.

Even now, as I write this article, I am struck with an overwhelming urge to do anything and everything but finish writing it: make a fifth cup of coffee for myself; cook myself a meal; take a much-unneeded nap; watch a program on Netflix; run myself a bath; perform another round of burpees; call a friend for a chat; tidy my room; scroll aimlessly through social media; read a book. The list goes on.

It pains me to say this, but I began writing this article back in November 2019 and I am only getting round to finishing it now, toward the end of March 2020. This is procrastination at its very finest, and I've been injecting myself with heavy dosages of it ever since I was born. We all have experienced procrastination, and many of us continue to experience it on a daily basis - myself included - but very few of us ever get to experience what it feels like to live without it. 

I can only describe the resistance I feel towards completing projects of that similar to lifting a heavy deadlift: if you've already lifted the bar to your knees and your edging on locking it out, why don’t you put in a little extra effort in order to complete the full repetition? I am yet to unearth the correct answer to this question of mine.

But it's not like I don't know what I'm doing - or that in which I'm not doing- because I do. In fact, I'm hyper-aware of it: the more I run from the words that are in need of being written for my new book, the higher chance the words won't ever get written - therefore, my book won't ever get published.

I began writing this book, How To Die, Happily, over twenty-months ago during a time in my life when I was caught up in a severe shit-storm. My business of four-years had just gone under, I had no money in the bank let alone coins in my wallet, and I was in debt by over £40,000. Not ideal. And to make matters worse, I had tarnished a handful of valued relationships with some great people - friends, family, and business partners - all the while having taken out a supercar on finance which was costing me £1,600 per month as well as paying out a further £750 per month for a top-floor apartment that I was living in at the time. Talk about being driven by ego. 

At one stage, I wanted out of life completely. Before going to sleep at night, I wished that my eyes wouldn't open in the morning, and if they did, I wished that they would permanently shut soon after. For weeks, which felt like months, I would wake up in the morning but wouldn't get out of bed for hours at a time. Some days, I would only get up to go to the bathroom before retreating into my den of darkness and despair. I was depressed and going through only what I could describe as the darkest time in my life. I felt like a lost lion cub who had been separated from his pride. One afternoon, I even contemplated stealing from the grocery store just so I could eat something because I had no money to buy food and was too proud to tell my friends and family what was really going on. Fortunately, a saner mind soon prevailed and I started going over my mother's house just so I could eat - though she knew nothing about the severity of my situation back then.

On reflection, since I made the conscious decision to deal with my own struggles alone, It was critical for me that I found a medium to express myself through before matters worsened. I need someone, something, anything to express myself towards; to vent my anger; to show my sadness; to prove my forgiveness for myself.

Shortly after, I discovered writing. Thank God. This is why I simply can not abandon projects such as my new book. I have to give back to the medium of expression that once helped me through the darker times of my life. I must not stop. I must keep going. I must keep writing.

And while the demon of procrastination indeed lives on, I can only hope that he allocates himself a rest day or two once per week.

Thanks for reading.

The Gift of Study

This year, and all of the years ongoing, when a time of celebration nears; a birthday, a wedding, a death, Christmas, New Years - prepare to show your support differently.

Dismiss the material gifts in which we have been brought up to believe to be the most thoughtful of gifts by the giver and the most appreciated of gifts by the receiver, and instead, either deliver the gift of your undivided and uninterrupted presence or bless the individual(s) with the gift of study - may I suggest you do so, specifically, in the form of a physical book - a book that has stood the test of time for almost 2,000 years: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

One of the many astounding aspects of this book - in which is without question the most impactful book on humility, mind management, and lessons on simple living (among many other values) that I have ever read -  is that you can buy it on Amazon for only £6.18 ($7.14). A Starbucks coffee is on the brink of costing more, and that coffee will last you a mere five minutes before it is consumed, whilst this book, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, can be consumed time and time again until the day you depart this life.

This book truly is a testament to how we, the human race, should aspire to live. The way that Marcus Aurelius conducts himself, the morals he held and the virtues he lived with can all be studied and applied to our own lives - supporting us to become the most optimal version of ourselves that we can be, which in turn will support us to live a life worth living for.

Having read this book more times than I can recall, I can honestly say that it has changed my life, and I am certain that it can and will do so for you too - that is, providing you refrain from permitting yourself any excuses in buying yourself a copy of the book shortly after you have finished reading this article.

Again, from this moment onwards, deliver those close to you a better chance of life by no longer burdening them with more material objects than they know what to do with or where to store. Instead, bless them with the gift of being able to study daily life by purchasing a copy of this book, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, for them.

I will conclude this post with one of my many favourite meditations that are included within the writings - his very own personal journaling’s which were never intended for publication - from the great Roman emperor himself, Marcus Aurelius:

"Take a view from above - look at the thousand of flocks and herds, the thousand of human ceremonies, every sort of voyage in storm of calm, the range of creation, combination, and extinction. Consider too the lives once lived by others long before you, the lives that will be lived after you, the lives lived now among foreign tribes; and how many have never even heard your name, how many will very soon forget it, how many may praise you now but quickly turn to blame. Reflect that neither memory nor fame, nor anything else at all, has any importance worth thinking of."

Thanks for reading.

When Death Presses

As I hold this book gently in the palm of my hands (Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss), having thoughtfully read it multiple times from front to back, any fear of death that I may have previously been clutching on to has now drastically diminished - almost completely banished.

There is no need to bite my nails in worry about this or that, him or her, or myself when it comes to knocking on heavens door, for I believe all lives will live on in the eternal form. If ongoing, I did feel the urge bite my nails, I could only hope that I would be doing so in anticipation for what the afterlife is destined to bring; the new colours I will see, the new scents I will smell, the new flavours I will taste, and the new sights and feelings I will experience. 

Remind yourself that you have nothing to fear when departing this life - only those unknown realms of the afterlife to look forward to. We are all soon to experience a new lease of life that we can only dream of at present - for this I am certain.

Now is the time to wave farewell to all of your doubts, concerns, regrets, suspicions, and anxieties. And now is the time to show forgiveness to those who may have done you unfairly in this life.

So, when the door of life closes and the door of death opens, do not put up a fight. Instead, allow yourself to pass through liberally - doing so with grace, confidence and sublime totality.

Step into your new journey of life with a bright smile and a warm heart knowing full-well that the adventure of life may be but a boring one compared to what you are soon to embark on: the adventure of death.

Whenever you feel a sense of unease towards the inevitable, remind yourself: There is life before life; there is life beyond death.

Though my writings on life, death, resurrection and the afterlife have been inspired by books like this, I often sit and wonder how my connection with certain people in life is as magical as they are. “How can some people - certain members of my family, close friends, and those who I would have classed as a stranger yesterday become somebody I would sacrifice my life for today - be bonded by such an instantaneous and electrifying connection?” is the question I often ask myself. “I must have known these people in one of my many possible past lives.” is the answer I often find myself in receiving of. 

Other relationships that I have recently had the pleasure of building almost seem too great of a connection to be real, but they are, and equally as real as the soil beneath our feet and the sky above our head. How can you meet someone today that you are certain you have known for hundreds of years!? So certain that you would place the value of your life upon it. There can only be one explanation: there is more to life than just our physical beings - there is a whole other side to what we think and know about life. Whilst our physical bodies do indeed get buried somewhere along the way, our spirit lives on. I truly do believe that we are forever. We are, in the greater sense of self, immortal.

There is an almighty element of real in what we perceive and have been brought up to believe that is unreal. If there was no reality apart from the life in which we are living now, what does that say about the intelligence of the human race?

Keeping an open mind about life and death - both your own and those close to you - and that which follows (the afterlife) is crucial in helping you to live a life worthy of its meaning.

If you or anybody you know is struggling to come to terms with the reality of mortality, then may I recommend to you three books in which I am certain will support you and those around you throughout the entire experience of death (in preparation, in the event itself, and in the post-management of):

  1. Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss
  2. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander
  3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Lastly, while everybody may die alone, the next step of our journey is far from lonely.

Happy reading - and thanks for reading.

The War Against Materialism

One year ago, I finally won my battle against materialism.

Prior to this well-fought victory, following a few successful years in business, I had become someone that I never thought I would ever become - and someone that I wished I would never become; a greedy and selfish, materialistic and egotistical individual.

Money does not grow on trees, but if it did, I would only hope that the monkeys and the birds of the animal kingdom reached it before we, the human beings, did. Let's face it, a disturbing number of humans are incapable of getting out of bed in the morning, let alone having the responsibility of managing a fat purse pressed upon them. Due to immaturity in spending and inexperience with the rule of money, if each of us were the keeper of our own personal money tree, the world as we know it would be no more - it would swiftly collapse and come crashing down. Those who don't have, or have had little access to money in the past, may find it easy to visualise a life with financial affluence, but what these same people - possibly yourself include? - fail to see is how well or how poorly they may cope when all of the money they have disappears - and their money tree, despite its fictional element, stops blooming with Benjamin's.

Money can make good of a man but money can also blind a man. When one acquires an abundance of financial riches, one must prepare themselves for both the good and the evil that money can deliver; to the individual and the world that governs him. Mentally training oneself for the possibility of that in which one has built (the business), in that in which one has accumulated (the money) and that in which one has acquired as a result of that accumulation of money (the material possessions) to exit one's life as quickly as they entered one's life. Whilst this meditative practice may be far from pleasant to partake in, it is indeed a crucial one for long-term contentment of one's self - not to mention the positive effects that such a practice can have on maintaining the plumpness (healthy financial management) in the purse in which one carries.

Shortly after my business folded - which was a result of a long line of poor decisions, overspending (in both my personal and business life), as well as my overall lack of maturity and experience in the unrelenting world of business - I was driven to make one of the more important decisions of my life: aim to rekindle the business that had recently burnt to a crisp, or to take a different direction and walk on a new path in life - a path which would pave the way to a lifestyle of simplicity; one which would demand less of me yet provide me with so much more.

Unaware at the time, the new path in life in which I was on the cusp of walking on would soon provide me with tremendous peace of mind, stillness, and silence of being - supporting me in avoiding the common traps of life in which so many people self-willingly permit themselves to be governed by; social status, cultural pressures, and abiding by the status quo. 

In the end, after much contemplation and self-examination, despite my final decision appearing weak and cowardly to those around me, I began tying my shoelaces in preparation for walking on the new and unfamiliar path of the unknown as an individual.

Without further thought, I began selling and donating the mass majority of items (physical possessions) that owned me: the designer clothes, the fancy watches, all of the technology gadgets, as well as giving up the keys to the top-floor apartment (which was fit for a family of six) that I resided in - and lastly, watched my once-upon-a-time dream car, the BMW i8, get towed away on a truck by a repossession company. It was a beautiful sight to see.

From this moment on, after ridding myself of all of the non-essentials that my life was once so heavily weighed down by, the internal hollowness I was so longly feeling vanished - and a contented bubble of purity inside me took its place. It was almost if to say, if I can be so daring to do so, that I was reborn and giving, by whom I am unsure, a rarest opportunity to restart my life.

Whenever I bump into somebody that I haven't seen or spoken to in a while, the common question in which they pose usually relates to the car I previously had: "How's the i8 going, Chris?" And following me answering them with the truth, they often respond glumly, in a low and slow tone of voice, dropping their heads almost as if to say they feel sorry for me: "Oh, I'm sorry to hear about that, Chris." Don’t be sorry, because as of now, just one year later, owning as little as 15 items to my name, I am the happiest I have ever been. As content as I am, the word itself does not do any justice for how I truly feel at the base and deeper levels of my being - I am at peace.

Money can buy you a dream car, a big house, a butler and a wardrobe of expensive clothes, but it will not be able to buy happiness. Money can't buy peace.

I wish that more people would go out and make a financial fortune so they can buy everything their heart desires only to then realise that money, and all of the material objects it has the power of buying is not the answer.

And look, I’m not saying I know what the answer to what life is, but I know one thing; I’m living a happy life. And to me, that’s worth more than any amount of money in the world.

The fight with materialism was far from easy, but the victory continues to prove ever sweet.

Thanks for reading.

Knowledge is Worthless

“Knowledge is power,” as the famous quote reads - as if to say acquiring knowledge is the key to creating an extraordinary life for oneself.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but knowledge, if not coupled with its partner in success: application, is as valuable as the piece of shit that is stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

The one-thousand books you’ve read over the last five years, what have you learned from them?

“Lots,” you say.

How much of what you’ve learned from reading those one-thousand books have you applied in your own life?

“Not much,” you reply.

It doesn’t matter how many books you read on self-development if you’re not prepared to develop yourself after reading them. The rest is mental masturbation.

Those who wish to acquire knowledge must also be prepared for the essential task that follows: action.

Remember, all knowledge that is not utilised is dead knowledge.

Now, before I leave you, please allow me to provide you with some sobering advice: you are not paid for what you know but for what you do with which you know.

Thanks for reading.

Serenity

For the most part, all damaging outcomes stem from choosing to lead a busy life.

The multiple sports you play which have resulted in injury.

The affair you’re having which will only end in heartbreak.

The two jobs you work which steals time away from your children.

The three businesses you run which leave you little time for sleep.

The lack of muse. The shortage of stillness. The neglect of number one.

Having recently realised that if I was serious about devoting my life to writing, I had to begin to distance myself from the hustle and bustle in life and take on a more tranquil approach.

A change that was long overdue.

At present, after much practice and perseverance, instead of projecting my thoughts on the past and wondering about what the future holds, the only thought I now possess is of the last paragraph in the book that I’m reading.

Once you inject a reasonable dose of serenity into your life, your day becomes less prone to turbulence. 

It’s a beautiful feeling.

From today, grant yourself permission - and the time - to walk a little slower, read a little more and think a little deeper.

Slowing and turning the volume down on your life doesn’t mean your ambitions become void, doing so provides you with a great opportunity to breathe better, see things differently and to think more clearly about who you are, what you wish to achieve in life, and more importantly, it permits you to be at one with yourself.

True self-development doesn’t take place after reading a book or watching a YouTube video or by attending a seminar of some sort, it blossoms into fruition after having religiously practiced the one activity that many people simply do not have the patience and awareness of self to partake in: sitting alone in a quiet room for hours at a time.

In stillness, in silence, this is where a life worth living can be found.