Friday, July 29, 2016

Surround Yourself With Happiness

'Today is such a beautiful day!' -You, right after you woke up.

What was your first thought once you woke up? I hope it was how much you love yourself and where you are at with your life. I forget where I came across this nugget of knowledge, but I once heard that one way to increase your happiness is to surround yourself with happy people and activities. 'Really, it can be that simple?'  Yeah, it can be that simple. It all comes down to what influences you surround yourself with, how present you are in the moment, and how much you appreciate yourself. Let's start off strong:

Positive Surroundings:

"Is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love that I'm feeling?" Thanks for asking Mr. Marley, I hope it is!  However, one thing I do know is that by listening to your music I become a much more appreciative and selfless person.  It is amazing how much more of a positive person I become when I listen to bright, melodic, and happy music.  Wait a minute, this is also happens not just when I am listening to music, but also when I am looking at art, or watching movies, or hanging out with friends!  You start to act and think like what you surround yourself with.  If that is true, then surrounding yourself with activities and people that have a positive energy will start to ignite the happiness within you.  Do not get me wrong, experiencing sadness, anger, and fear are all perfectly healthy to feel every once in a while.  However, it is up to you to surround yourself with positive activities more often than negative ones!

The biggest hug I have ever received.

Embrace The Present:

"When am I hanging out with this friend again?"
"What time am I going to eat next?"
"What makes ninjas so cool?"

These are the kinds of questions that are always distracting me from living in the present moment.  Often times we live in our thoughts instead of the present situation.  Your mind will distract you from the present by telling you that this activity is boring, interesting, or difficult, etc...  But your mind does not get to control you anymore!  This is where you become aware of these thoughts and bring your attention back to what you are currently doing, feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting.  After becoming aware of these sensations we can learn to appreciate them and be happy that we even get the chance to experience them.  When you see a picture of a Buddha, do you ever think that person is unhappy with their life?  They look way too chilled out for their own good, don't they?  They have learned how to be happy by living in the present moment and not letting extraneous thoughts distract them.  It takes years of observing their thoughts to become that chilled out, but if you can spend more and more of your day becoming aware of this concept, you too can someday be floating on a lotus flower petal.

This store sells one thing: big fluffy clouds.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It:

Wow! We have come so far in our lives and been through so many trials and tribulations which have helped shape and define our awesome character.  But how often do we take precious time out of our day to recognize and appreciate that?  I almost never do!  There is no need to worry though, that can be changed pretty easily.  Let's just take 5 minutes out of our day to meditate and appreciate how lucky we are to be where we are.  It is exciting to be learning new things and coming up with new ambitions in our lives.  Starting to wake up and recognize ourselves for being so bold and adventurous is another great leap we can take in becoming grateful.  We need to learn to love ourselves to the fullest extent, that means in every aspect of our lives, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, funny and awkward.  People do not connect with others who are perfect, they connect with people that they can relate to.  Our imperfections make us relatable!  Let's start to embrace ourselves and accept every part of us for what it is, not what we want it to be.  There is a great book that I would recommend, it is a quick read and we can all learn from it: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant.

That was a lot to take in...  How about we all just chill out and listen to this song:

You can also check out this sweet picture of me and a couple of my Chinese friends:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Learning to Have Trust

How do you start to calm down when you feel anxious or nervous about something in your life?  Do you read a blog, or check the last text you received from someone, or perhaps talk to a family member or friend?  Do you ever journal your thoughts to help you feel more relaxed?  The world works in such strange ways that it can be hard to be vulnerable and put your trust in those people and activities that happen around you.  This is especially difficult when we are always trying to take from the world instead of giving back.  However, it is vital for our health that we continue to put our faith in the way that our lives are unfolding.

Every moment in life is a chance for you to be accepting of yourself and others.  If we are always trying to take from the world instead of giving back to it then we are unable to be happy with the present.  It is so difficult to realize that most of the time we are trying to take from the world instead of giving back to it.  I guess I should speak for myself, but sometimes it is difficult to think about anyone else except myself.  For example, if I am talking to someone, I am already thinking about what I want to say next instead of just listening to what the other person has to say.  With that said, it can be easy to switch from taking to giving!  Just begin paying attention to the people and places that you are interacting with.  Furthermore, being observant of your surroundings can help you focus your mind on the present moment instead of the false thoughts that are creating your self-image.

It is our instinct to live a comfortable life.  Our primitive mind is trained to seek out food, water, shelter, and reproduction.  Once we secure all of these desires, it is our tendency to stay complacent.  But I am here to challenge you to get outside of your comfort zone.  Once you start to become uncomfortable with whatever you find yourself pursuing, it is our habit to stop doing that thing and seek out our basic necessities again.  It is at this point where you need to step up against your primitive brain and tell it to stay calm.  Being in uncomfortable situations is when we grow the most.  All you need to do is TRUST that whatever outcome occurs you will be a better person.  Once you are able to start trusting the world is when you will achieve your most ambitious dreams.

So, when are you going to start challenging yourself and trusting that everything is going to work out?

Take a chill pill!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Busting Through Barriers

How many times have you applied yourself to a certain part of your life only to get stopped in your tracks?  What was it that you were trying to achieve and how did you get stopped?  It may sound backwards, but asking ourselves these types of questions can help us understand what we truly want out of our goals.  Furthermore, it allows us to recognize barriers and then stay motivated instead of getting stopped.  It is time that we acknowledge any barriers in our lives and then bust through them like they never even existed!

For me personally, I have been trying to leave my master's degree in order to find a teaching position in Japan.  I have a particular city in Japan that I know I want to work in and will not settle for a position outside of that area.  While I know this creates tons of barriers, I also know that I will learn a great deal along the path to reaching my goals.  I have already applied to a big ESL company in Japan and was rejected after telling that company that I want to be placed around this specific area.  It took a lot of time to fill out their application and review online what types of interview questions they were going to ask.  However, I recognize that being rejected has refined my dream into something even more precise and attainable than before.  By choosing not to settle I am able to continue to grow and eventually find a position in the location and company that I want to be in.

Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable is a tough thing to do and we should feel proud of ourselves for having the courage to do it.  Never let a road block stop you from achieving your dreams.  If you are brave enough to put yourself out there, then there is no reason that you should not be able to achieve what you want out of that pursuit.  Do not get confused though, I am not saying that you do not need to put any work in to achieve your goals.  You need to put in an incredible amount of work and continuously put yourself out there to be successful in any aspect of your life.

In conclusion:
  1. Write down what your current goals in life are.  Journal that ish.
  2. Actively make yourself vulnerable and apply yourself to those goals.
  3. Do step 2 over and over and over.  Work hard...  Do your job well!
  4. Recognize the various barriers that you will encounter.
  5. Learn everything you can from those barriers.
  6. Repeat from step 1 and use what you learned from your barriers.
These steps will help you soar past the various barriers you come across in your lives.  If they don't then call me out in the comments and I will try to help you out some more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dealing With Negative Thoughts

Do you ever feel that sometimes you are living your life by listening to the stories that are in your head?  Sometimes my mind plays wicked games on itself and creates stories that are not true.  These negative thoughts are addictive!  They make me angry, feel different about my relationships, distract me from the present, obscure the truth, and make me distant from the things in life that actually make me happy.  Well, I have decided to take a stand against these negative thoughts and you should too.  By writing this blog post I am able to further understand what is causing them and why they affect my life so much.

This must have taken the energy of a thousand-suns to hand-make...

First and foremost, it is time to cure my addiction from these thoughts.  Whenever something is going well in my life, my mind tries to play out all the scenarios in which those parts of my life could go wrong.  Those thoughts occur because they are scared of the reality.  I am constantly challenging myself and making sure that I am in difficult situations that I can learn from.  Instead of accepting these new challenges and understanding that everything is going to work out, my mind tries to escape down the easy route by trying to fool me into thinking those opportunities are going poorly, or will not work out.  It is much easier for me to just quit than to persevere through the tough times.  In order to stop letting this negativity affect me, I am going to learn to be observant of all the thoughts that come through my mind.  As soon as I start to wake up from these fictitious stories is when I will take the hint that I need to refocus my thought and energy on the present moment.

This is what challenging yourself and following your dreams feels like, enter the unknown

As soon as I start to become observant and begin differentiating the fictitious thoughts from reality, then I will learn to accept those thoughts for what they are.  It is okay that I have negative thoughts, but I am learning to disassociate myself from them and understand that they are different from the actual reality.  It is important that you do not get angry or sad with yourself for having those thoughts.  The ego will come up with as many fictitious stories as it wants, that is not your fault.  It then becomes our duty to recognize the difference between reality and the stories.

After observing and then accepting the stories that my ego makes up, I will then refocus my attention on the present moment.  By the present moment I mean the objects that I can see, the noises I can hear, the things I can feel, and the tastes that I am experiencing.  Those senses all combine to create the present moment.  The stories in our head do not exist, there is only the present moment that exists.  While it is nice to have good memories, constantly dwelling on the past and future is not the way of the ninja.

So, next time you start to feel anxious, worried, upset, or angry, just ask yourself whether you are living in the present moment, or through the fictitious stories that your ego is creating.

Follow through it one gate at a time

Sunday, July 17, 2016

“It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” -Paulo Coelho

The Importance of Journaling:

So what are some of your dreams?  Big or small, far away or near, new or old?  Are you living for yourself or for another person?  Is your day filled with adventures or are you just going through the motions?  Write down some of your dreams, it does not matter if you write them down in the comments on this blog, on your Google Drive, in a hand-written journal with an old quail's feather... Really, it does not matter, just write them down somewhere.

Having a personal journal is a great way to free your mind from emotional negativity; do not be shy though, write down whatever you are thinking, which could be your ambitions, what you like/dislike, what you did all day, how you get lost in negative thoughts sometimes.  This is your chance to not be shy and be completely vulnerable.  I find it sad that in America we place so much emphasis on physical health and pay almost no attention to emotional health.  It is not uncommon for people to go see a doctor for a yearly physical checkup, but how many people do you know that went to get a mental health checkup?  My guess is not many, if any at all.  I have been through times in my life when I was severely depressed, on the point of committing suicide.  While I take the blame for not reaching out for help sooner, no one ever took the time to just stop and ask me to be vulnerable with my emotions.  Alas!  Without turning this into a sob story, I would just like anyone reading this to realize that you do not need be afraid of being vulnerable!  That is the one mistake I made and I want to never see another person be affected by their thoughts.

Check out how cute the size of a Japanese fire truck is to help lighten up the mood:

Pic taken from:

Jot it Down!

So please, take to the comments, or where you want, and free your mind of all your thoughts.  Be vulnerable, there is no reason for you to worry about what anyone else thinks.  There are so many dreams that we all have but never get to reach just because we are bogged down by our thoughts.  Start your path to having a happy, clear, and enriching life right now.  Just jot it down already!

This buddha is huge, just like your dreams!
 He also is probably way too chilled out for his own good.

My Jots (Pun intended)

One of my dreams is to live in Japan and work alongside the Japanese people.  Traveling for a month in Japan as a tourist has left me with a strong desire to go back and experience the culture by living in it and being an active participant in their way of life.  However, I am faced with push back from some of the members in my family.  It would be nice if they understand my intentions and trusted my decisions.  I guess you cannot please everybody..  I met some wonderful people in Japan, and I wonder if those people are still going to have the same feelings towards me if I return.  There are a couple of opportunities that I could have if I choose to stay in America, but those opportunities are not going to give me the same cultural experience I would get by living in Japan.  I guess growing up and living in one place throughout your whole life leaves you with a desire to search out new experiences.  Anyways, I hope that I can stay strong, trust my gut, and persevere through any criticism.

Monday, July 11, 2016

“Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart.” -Paulo Coelho

It really is that simple.. I should leave the post blank and just let the title stand as is.  The Alchemist is one of those books that I read throughout different stages of my life and have a different perspective every time.  In high school I read it and did not fully understand much of it, then I read it again four years ago during my Sophomore year of college, and now I am currently reading it to help guide me with my confusions.  Santiago the shepherd/merchant/adventurer is such a righteous dude.  Every time he gets distracted, deceived (i before e except after c), or disillusioned he still finds a way to stay positive and make something out of his circumstances.  He is observant about how far he has come along his journey and understands that being submissive to his fears rather than following his dreams is not the path of the ninja!  Even when someone has a lot going for them in their lives it can be tough to be aware of how fortunate they are.  Striving to not be complacent can be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it can help you achieve such great accomplishments.  But on the other hand, it can leave you feeling unappreciative of how far you have made it.  Lately, I have been so eager to learn a new language that I often lose touch with the people and activities that have always been with me.  Check out this art to help you ponder where you are at:

With that said, when pursuing something in life it is best to keep a balance between being immersed in that dream and keeping in touch with the activities and people that have always been there for you in your life.  However, if you are ambitious enough to have a passion and try to pursue that every day, you should feel proud of having that motivation and will power.  If something fills you up with excitement and gives you a healthy energy, then it would be best to continue to seek that out!  The more positive thoughts and energy that we allow ourselves to have the more we learn to be selfless and spread our positivity.  It is easy to let negative thoughts have our time and effort, but accepting those negative thoughts and forgiving yourself will help you focus on the positive thoughts instead of the negative ones.

You can take this last photo or leave it, someone got too worked up over this sculpture.

Taken from:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"This aggression will not stand, man" -The Dude

      During one of the last days that I spent in the best Japanese city, Kanazawa, I visited the D.T. Suzuki Museum.  Mr. Suzuki is a well known philosopher of Zen Buddhism, author, translator, lecturer, and overall humble badass.  He is a true ninja when you get down to the nitty gritty details.  Seeing someone so accomplished yet so grounded with reality can make even the humblest of people question their awesomeness.  He began his study in the big apple of Japan at Tokyo University.  From there he followed his dreams to Illinois where he bunked up at a rich dude's house so he could translate some old texts and teach the rich dude about the root of all evil.  Also upon his journey, he married a beautiful woman who was equally as adept in the art of philosophy.  However, as any true ninja understands, you never talk about another ninja's woman, nor do you look at her when meeting her in person; you should stare directly into the other ninja's eyes for obvious reasons.  Therefore, I will no longer offer any insight into his queen.  As can be seen on Suzuki's Wikipedia page, the person writing the article also understood this basic principal.
      Anyways, now that you understand the history of D.T., this museum was amazing.  The art and philosophy of Zen is fascinating and Western society can learn a lot from sifting through the ancient texts.  There was one quote that stood out to me in this museum: 
"When you are a kid learn to have manners, when you are a young adult learn to control your desires, when you are a middle aged man learn to be just, when you are an old man learn to teach well." --Some Zen Buddhist.
This quote gives people of all ages something to chew on and can be easily applied to anyone's life.  There are times when I often feel overly polite, but then I realize that you can never be too polite.  Furthermore, as a young adult there is constant internal conflict for me to control my desire.  But then I come to the epiphany that there is a smoking hot babe out there waiting for me somewhere and I need to take care of some things first, so it's not hard to control my desires.  Here is a picture I took to help you chill out and realize the meaning of Zen:

      Learning Japanese is fascinating and I am actively pursuing ways to try and get back there so that I may learn from real ninjas what the meaning of life is.  As an aside, samurais are equally as sweet and deserve to be recognized.  Their armor that each of their ladies would make for them was righteous.  America is a great country, but there is a lack of true ninjas that I can relate to.  When I do come across them though, I have a deep respect for their way of life.  Two of my friends are also on this path of awesomeness.  They are older than me but more than willing to give me hints of what it means to be an esteemed figure in a dojo.
      As an Electrical Engineer trying to make my way into Japan while knowing little Japanese, the path is arduous.  However, I am not worried because deep down, when one ninja sees another, they just know.  There is a connection that you cannot describe, but you just know from the friendly tension that you are in the presence of another ninja.  There are multiple ninjas out there who are going to feel this connection and offer me some help on my journey.  As long as you play it cool and respect your elders, the other ninja will be more than willing to help you along your journey.  The key in trying to achieve my goals is to stay persistent when I fail.  Everyone fails and only some people have enough respect for themselves to learn from their failures.  I met with a nice lady at my university in the Japanese Language Department who gave me some pretty simple advice:  when you are trying to obtain a dream of yours, if you stay persistent then the world will work in your favor and figure out a way to make it work out.  Domo arigato seƱorita! What she means has certainly held true for me in my career thus far and I do not see it failing me any time soon.  Just stay motivated and keep trying to reach your dream, even if you fail once or twice.  Failure just helps you put things into perspective and reveals your true intentions.  It is only after failing a couple of times that you can truly appreciate the progress you have made. Ganbatteru my dudes and dudettes!