What fear really is…

April 14, 2011


I’ve developed a new relationship to fear.


To understand it, I first had to realize that I am neither my thoughts nor my emotions… If you don’t believe this, just think about when you were 8 years old. Think about your thoughts and emotions back then.  Did they stay the same up until now? No.  That means our identity goes much deeper. I believe our identity is simply our ability to observe, and our ability to take action.  Those are the only two things that have always been present (at an ontological level).


So to truly understand a thought or emotion, we need to separate ourselves from it, and simply observe it, find it interesting, and get curious.  Because why take it seriously if it’s only on its way out?


The second thing I had to understand was that every time I had a fear and faced it, there was some sort of growth that came as a result.  Some might consider this obvious, but the next part was not so obvious…


I’ve found that fear is excitement about something we have judged as harmful to us.


Just think about that for a moment: “Fear is excitement about something we have judged as harmful to us.”


Afraid to quit your job and start a business? It’s because your mind took something that’s very exciting to you, and told you all the reasons you might starve and die and if you do this. Afraid to ask out that girl?  You’re excited at the notion, but your mind has convinced you that the rejection could be completely devastating.


Let me give you the most base example.  My mother does not have a fear about skydiving. But the reason is not courage. The reason is she’s never been skydiving and never wants  to go skydiving. It’s not even on her radar.  Thus she spends absolutely no time being afraid of it.  But people who think about it and get really scared are those would love to do it, but they’re worried they’ll die (or they’re just afraid of fear itself).


Now that I know what fear is, I start to get excited when I feel it, because I know there’s gold there. And as they say, courage is not the lack of fear. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.


It’s my hope that you’ll think of this post the next time you’re afraid, separate your identity from the emotion, and smirk because you know what’s up.  🙂

The Two Kinds of Relationships

March 14, 2011


I’m no relationship expert, but I do see patterns.
In my own life, and my friends’ lives I see two types of romantic relationships:  Growth relationships and partner relationships…


Growth relationship
A growth relationship is anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. It’s exciting, it’s spicy, it’s all kinds of unpredictable. It’s the one that your friends didn’t want to tell you, but they knew it ultimately would not work out.  But you were still drawn to it, like a moth to the flame.  The flame of passion is the draw, but the source is different. We find the person attractive largely because we admire qualities that we actually want for ourselves. But instead, we believe we can simply acquire them in the other. In psychological terms, it’s a positive projection. It’s our own gold hiding in what see in others.  But if we get honest about it, through the relationship we can become the person we actually want to be.


Signs of a growth relationship:
  • Strong highs and lows
  • Desire to analyze the situation constantly, and control the outcome
  • Second guessing the other person
  • Exciting
  • Highly passionate
  • Potential to learn a lot about yourself
  • Triggers all your insecurities and deep fears
  • Makes you question your own instincts
  • Hard to deal with if one person wants it to become a partnership relationship (see below)
Enjoy your time because it will end sooner than you think.  Don’t delay the progress of the relationship. Stay real, don’t shit yourself, and be thankful for all you’re learning. Grow fast because whoever learns those deep lessons first will then lose the attraction for the partner.



Partnership relationship


All relationships involve growth, but in a partnership relationship, the commitment is to the relationship itself, rather than to each of the individuals’ personal growth.  These last from 9 months to a lifetime. The couple feels like a cohesive unit, or best friends. There tends to be less drama, and more stability. Taking out the notion of the “soul mate” one can have many partnership relationships in a lifetime.  A partnership relationship can develop out of a growth relationship, but not vice versa.


Signs of a Partnership relationship
  • Feels like your best friend
  • Immediate comfort
  • Total acceptance
  • Very stable
  • Great for taking on bigger challenges in life (kids, saving the world, etc)
  • Support allows each person to live into their larger purpose
  • Not as exciting as growth relationships
  • Can be unhealthy and co-dependent if the partners are not stable in their individual lives.
  • Tendency to settle into boredom without consciously creating new experiences
Focus on developing the friendship. Constantly build in new experiences. Go to a tantra class.


I’ve had many of both types of relationships, but I have not had this particular distinction until now. I used to think the distinctions were either a) soulmate or b) total friggin confusion.  Neither ended up being particularly healthy.


Seeing relationships in this light, I feel much more prepared, and I have to wonder what would happen if I brought this into the conversation BEFORE starting a relationship rather than only seeing it afterward.


POST NOTE: I’ve shared the concept with a few people who think there could be a larger book out of this. I’d love to get your opinion and especially YOUR STORIES. I think there are more patterns to discover and more wisdom that you may have.


Please let me know what you think in the comments, and if you feel like sharing your own story, email me at [email protected]



Art of the vision board



Why do a vision board? Why do anything? Because it’s fun…. if it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.

One school of thought says to find the images of everything you want and and place it on a board. I think that’s too boring. I like to mix in the process of simply grabbing a ton of magazines, flipping through them and ripping out any image that sticks out… for whatever reason.

The above is what I created.  The below explains what I love about some of the images, once I thought about them…


There’s no one way to do a vision board. In fact, my friend Charles (my co-conspirator/co-founder of The Affinity Lab) has a different take.  Check out his…


Whatever your desires, your goals, the things that keep you up at night, the ideas you want to make real, the irrational hungers, the imaginary friends, the future lovers, and the movie in your mind…

…get it out of your head and into the world.

The two dimensions of time

February 21, 2011


Okay, so here are the two dimensions or distinctions through which I think about time…

Time Expansion / Creation

The quality of our time is the most important factor. To increase the quality, first accept that the past exists as a fiction in your mind based on the stories you have created, and the future does not exist (by definition).  Time spent in these two dimensions is usually time wasted because it is spent disengaged from real time and thus losing it or destroying it.  Thus full presence is the most reliable technique of time expansion. Read The Power of NOW for a fast ramp-up.


Any time that you spend unconscious is time that is being destroyed. The most obvious example is dreaming. Most of us don’t even remember our dreams, but we do it every night. That is a whole world of lost time that you can learn to experience in vivid depth.  See Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.


Time Compression / Elimination

Any experience that involves little learning should be eliminated or destroyed. On a small scale this includes very basic tasks that you could be outsourcing (hiring a cleaner or a chef). Many of these things are cheaper than you imagine. Read Four Hour Work Week for examples.


On a large scale this includes compressing the time for major lessons. For example, what if you could take a 5-year romantic storm  with a lot of hard lessons, and learn them all in less than a year? If you understand this, you get the importance of learning time compression. (On a deeper level it’s about recognizing your own projections in real-time).  Great books for this are A Course in Miracles and Dark Side of the Light Chasers.


These are your two dials.  In any moment, think-  do I want to expand or compress this?

Time is not what it used to be.

February 17, 2011


It’s 4am.
I’ve developed this strange habit of waking up naturally between 2am and 5am… and I love it.  It’s like I’m able to freeze time. No one is emailing or calling. I don’t have to be anywhere.  The world is asleep, and I’m alive. It almost feels like cheating death, it feels that good.


I think a lot about time. It’s the one quantifiable currency we all share. Rich or poor, no one has more than 24 hours in a day… or do they?  Let me tell you – they do.  Time is hardly a constant.  How many times have you felt like a great day passed by in hours, or the opposite: waiting in a boring line that seems to take forever? Time is malleable. In fact, it’s constantly speeding up…


I sat with my grandfather, 88 years old and I asked him about his life. He said it’s all gone by so quickly. The man has seen two world wars, and went from a poor farm in Hungary, to living the good life in West Los Angeles, and all he can think about is how fast it all went by.  I asked my Dad, “Do you feel like time is moving faster?”  “Every year, he said. “Every year it gets faster and faster.”   My friend Craig said, “Everything between graduating college and turning 40 feels like a blur. It all happened so fast.”


It’s tempting to take a “Seize the Day” attitude when faced with the accelerating pace of time. We think about all the trips we’d like to take, and all the things we’d like to do. But death bed realizations are not filled with stories of people who never got to take jungle expeditions to Madagascar.  No, they’re filled with much deeper regrets  – loved ones we never got to know, feelings we never expressed, jobs we stayed in too long. At an even deeper level, we realize that all the feelings of self-hatred, guilt, and judging others was completely in our minds and that every problem problem we believed we had was completely unimportant.


…these are the thoughts we’re faced with when staring into the void of our own demise.


But that’s not where I spend my time.  In my next post I’ll give three distinctions I use to enjoy life, learn in real-time, and cheat death.

Sacrifice to the party gods

January 1, 2011


Call it karma, call it feeling good, call it whatever you want… but it works.

I discovered it one Saturday night when a homeless person asked me for help as my friends and I walked to a night club. I had leftovers from dinner in my hands, and he lit up in gratitude when I handed him the bag. Suddenly I felt a lift in my spirit and I was in a great mood for the rest of the night.

Now, rather than leaving these moments to chance, I make a “sacrifice to the party gods” before the weekend begins.  I like that term because it’s an acknowledgment that not everyone is free, and not everyone can even eat. But rather than feel guilty about it, I turn it into an opportunity to do something.  And call it a placebo if you like (placebos are proven to be quite powerful)…my weekends are much better when I do.

To me, giving is about finding projects that excite me, where I feel like my hard-earned money is making a major difference. Here are the organizations I have chosen:




Charity Water

This is literally saving lives, and 100% of my donation goes directly to the work (because sponsors cover their operation costs).  Every $20 saves a life.  How amazing is that?  I’ve already had one well funded (serving 250 people) by rallying friends and family. Now I auto-donate monthly so it never skips my mind.





Somaly Mam

Human Traffiking and sex slavery is the 3rd most profitable organized crime. It breaks my heart to know these kids are going through it. Oddly enough, it was a song by the New Pornographers (“When I was a baby”) that educated me about all of this.  I also auto-donate here to make sure I don’t forget.



Donors Choose

This site is really cool because you have the power to greenlight projects. It’s entirely focused on under-funded schools. Last time I funded a project the teacher sent me a package with photos and letters from the kids who were thankful for the supplies I bought them.

Try getting into giving as a habit…I find it feels oddly selfish and enjoyable when you do it right.