Last week while on vacation, I took on a great challenge. No, I did not jump out of an airplane or swim with sharks. I did something much more difficult—I committed myself to unplugging from all work related matters completely, and sought to be “present” or “in the now” as much as possible.
This task is much harder then it seems, and for the first few days I found myself ensconced in the usual Todd Goldfarb ways of thinking. I was worrying about my clients, anxious about this blog, stressed that I was doing nothing to move myself forward.
Eventually I was able to diffuse these thought patterns using one thing: my awareness.
This is a very powerful practice, and one takes a lot of work and patience. However, if you are really interested in personal growth and want to make transcending changes in your life, constantly being attentive of your thoughts is one of the most revealing exercises you can undertake.
How The Ego Operates
You, me and everyone else has something in us called an “ego” that diverts us from the genuine, true and authentic self
that lies within. We so easily confuse the little voice in our head with the real us, and the ego’s constant stream of thought makes it very difficult to observe it from a different perspective. The illusion of ego is unfortunate because the entity behind it, the authentic you, holds all the cards to living a fulfilling, happy and successful life.
On Sunday night during the Oscars, they showed a short clip of 100 year old George Burns in which he said “when you get to be old enough, you get to be you again”. What George meant is that with age comes perspective, and towards the end of our physical lives the ego comes to accept its demise. The ‘becoming you again’ is a reference to becoming aware of the authentic self, and you will find many older people speak like this.
My question is: Why not work hard NOW to become ‘you again’ while you are still young, active and vibrant?!
Once you start becoming an observer to your ego, you begin to realize how insane it is. It is full of fear, anger, and sadness and creates conflict, uncertainty and doubt. My goal during my vacation was simply to become me again, and I did this by paying close attention to the madness of my thoughts. Once the ‘observer’ within me became clear, the anxiety and stress melted away and my authentic self was given space to manifest!
Awareness is the Universal Answer
The only way to diffuse the ego (or ‘kill’ it) is to shed awareness on the constant stream of thoughts it produces. I can tell you I have been practicing this for years, and it is hard work. Friends and clients constantly say to me: “why should I go through all the difficulty and anguish of becoming aware of my thoughts…I like my life, and I accept the illusion if that’s what it is. I am perfectly content the way I am”!
There are two reasons it is necessary to do the work of separating ego from the real you. One, you must realize that you will never find true contentment and fulfillment in your life if you are run by the thoughts in your head. If the ego is in charge you will be in a constant state of searching, comparing and desiring as opposed to being, accepting and doing.
Second, you must understand that your individual ego contributes greatly to the world around you. Humanity is in a state of relative emergency, if you haven’t noticed. Many of our established “systems” are proving to be unsustainable. This is the result of the collective ego.
Gandhi said “you must be the change you want to see in the world” and what he meant was that each of us must work individually to rid ourselves of self-polluting thoughts if we are to rid the world of war, starvation and slaughter. The underlying meaning here is that our personal growth is a contributing factor to the more global environment.
Intellectual Understanding Verses Experience
If you are reading this article then you are probably familiar with a variety of self-improvement and spiritual guides. Chances are you have a basic understanding of the ego, and how it operates. But one point I will say over and over again on this blog is this: there is a difference in having an intellectual understanding of the way the ego works and actually experiencing it.
Perhaps for this first time in human history, this type of conversation is taking place in the mainstream. Almost everyone I know can speak intelligently about something to do with the ego or global awareness. But how many people actually take the information and use it?
How many of you reading this article are actively increasing your consciousness, and using the books, articles, movies that are out there and doing the necessary work to improve yourself? The number is certainly growing, but if things are to really change on a global scale I believe we need more and more people making the shift from intellectual understanding to experience.
Once you effectively become an observer to your thoughts, you allow the real you to manifest. What is amazing is that once this happens all of the productive and creative ideas you were searching flow naturally. In my case, more than 20 wonderful ideas “came to me” over the course of 7 days I was on vacation through practicing the art of being present.
Some of them were article ideas for this blog, some were fresh ideas that can help me move forward, and others were general insights about the way I view my businesses. All of the things I would have been stressing about were virtually solved by being present. [Of course it is extremely helpful to carry around a notebook or voice recorder to capture the moments when ideas strike, and I highly recommend doing this].
I also feel as though I enjoyed my vacation more than I have vacations in the past. Being present, and purposefully creating the separation between your thoughts and authentic self, is very gratifying.
Remember, focusing on being present allows you to become aware of your typical patterns of thought in a very profound way. “Get off the couch” and make the shift from being an understander to an experiencer…it may be the very thing that saves humanity!
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