Tag Archives: living with Intent

Lifestyle Seachange… do you have what it takes?

It’s that time of year again… people have either booked their holiday or are planning it for next year. The approaching summer seems to be the trigger in people’s minds. They start thinking about what it would be like to be on holidays somewhere, what it would be like to live somewhere else…what it would be like to change their lifestyle completely. The seachange has been in their mind for a while, quietly brewing away… and now suddenly it surfaces. Sometimes it can go on simmering for years, other times it happens very quickly (depending on personality and circumstances). Suddenly people want to know things – how much does it cost to buy a house in Oia, how easy/hard is it, how does one go about it, where does one start?

There could be any number of things that trigger an epiphany. From something as basic as a “birthday”, to a separation, a divorce, a story you read about, a movie you see, a death of someone you know or a dinner you have with a friend who is about to do something considered “radical”. All of the sudden you find yourself in bed wide awake… your mind racing, wondering, roleplaying. Can I, what if, I should’ve, I could’ve… the little voices in your head start to whisper to you… torturing you. The dreamer in you starts to wonder… while the always restrictive, logical “coach” tries to talk some sense into you. Wouldn’t be just wonderful… says the dreamer voice – yeah… but don’t even think about, too many things to take care of here first… says the coach.

Welcome to the mental state I call “threshold”. Although the word is used in many different ways… my definition is derived from aviation. A Qantas pilot once explained to me the more technical details of what “threshold” means during take off and landing…. but the thing that I remember and kept is that “crossing threshold means COMMITMENT”.  Once you have gone over that line, invisible or otherwise, you are “committed”.

So people find themselves awake in bed… lengthy dialogues between the dreamer and the coach taking place, arguments back and forth, considering options, debating, more dreaming, visualizing, wishing and/or planning. Threshold is either crossed or it becomes like a solid granite wall 20 metres thick. My guess is that 1% cross over and “commit”… the rest run head-first into the granite and then either drop dead or walk around in a daze for weeks/months or even years. Crossing threshold… or even approaching at the required speed is not for the faint hearted. As I said to someone who asked me to define threshold… “it is the ultimate bullshit filter”. It’s put up or shut up territory… go big or go home.

So now we’re back to the enquiries…. how much is a house in Oia, can I find a 2/3/4 bedroom on the cliff (for under 300k…. because Greece is in a crisis isn’t it? )….. etc etc etc etc etc etc ad infinatum….

My answer is simple… if you want it, come and get it. The how, where and how much you will find out when you’re here. The only question in your mind should be… is the place worth the effort? and if you don’t know the answer to that by now then get ready to experience what crannium hitting granite feels like !

* * * * * *

Haven’t posted any pictures for a while so here are some of my favorites from the past couple of months… enjoy ; )


below is the view of the old fort from a special place…
the “Summer Lovers” villa

a floating resort leaving at night….

Oia at night…. at least my neighborhood..

dinner at Ammoudi… never fails to impress

and one of my favorite shots of all time in Oia… sail boats just after sunrise
magical sight….

Have a great summer everyone….

ps: don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for daily updates:
https://www.facebook.com/OiaSantorini

M

Exquisite Moments…

To paraphrase an anonymous quote…

We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents.
We do not choose the time of our birth, the country of our birth,
or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing.
We do not, most of us, choose to die;
nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death.
But within this realm of choicelessness….
we do choose how we live.

Long ago I learned that life is not one long “spectacular, glamorous event”… it is not one big party, or living on the crest of a wave. It is not about chasing instant gratification or eternal bliss….

It is about appreciating the special moments… the exquisite moments in life. Sadly… most people are usually too busy chasing the aforementioned to even notice them…let alone truly appreciate them. Yet… these are life’s real treasures. Those moments in time… the exquisite moments !


Beautiful weather, like being in love, is a philosopher’s stone which turns our ordinary days to gold. But not the whole day … For it is never the whole day, never all our life which is transformed in any happiness, but only the exquisite moments.

– Nan Fairbrother

Happy New Year – dream big & obey your dream !

To all readers new and regular…
I wish you a New Year full of health
great adventures
&
the fulfillment of your dreams !

Dream big… and obey your dreams…
don’t let others talk you out of them…
put a start date on your dreams…
don’t let anything stand in your way…

In the words of an old friend…

“when it’s all said and done…
it’s only the great adventures we remember !”

Happy New Year !

 

change me…

The boat is gliding through the sparkling waves…. floating on a blue liquid she knows to be sea water but this is somehow different. The colour is iridescent and the sunlight reflection makes it look like liquid sapphire. The air,  that too feels different… the light is luminous and the afternoon breeze feels like silk running over her skin. She looks up and sees the island approaching. This is not just any island… it’s “the” island. It’s her fantasy island. She has dreamed about this. She has seen all this through her mind’s eye for years. The little white houses on top of the cliff look like sugar cubes and the landscape looks like nothing she has seen before…yet, its everything she has dreamed about. She is seeing Santorini for the first time and yet…in her mind… she has been here so many times before.

The boat begins to enter the narrow pass of water below Oia… entering the mythical Santorini caldera. There is music playing in her mind and the volume is rising as the boat enters this mystical landscape. There are dark, imposing cliffs on both sides and then suddenly she looks up and sees the village of Oia… perched on the cliff edge. It seems surreal. It seems like a dream… like she has jumped into a storybook that she herself has written. Her mind floods with thoughts. She has so much life ahead of her…so much to experience, so much to feel and see. Up until now she has done what she had to do, what was proper… what was expected of her. Now…this landscape suddenly makes her feel strangely and wonderfully free. She feels like a child again… she feels innocent and playful again. She feels alive

She grips the boat rail…closes her eyes while she takes a deep breath and whispers to herself…”change me”.

No…this is not the first page from  a Mills & Boon novel with Fabio on the cover (sudden image flash of him on the roller coaster with a broken nose following a close encounter with a seagull – ridiculous concept). No dear reader…. this is a lot more real. This is a what happens daily to dozens of women (and if you change a couple of the words… it just as easily applies to men), who visit this island.

Few places on earth have the power to mesmerise you from afar… without ever setting foot on them. In most cases once you get there they are a disappointment. Your fantasy is a very powerful dream-machine… one that most “actual” places find it impossible to compete with. Your fantasy is based on your perception of perfection and no place can be perfect. No place can be better than the ultimate paradise you have conjured up in your mind. That is of course as long as your mind can conjure up arguably one of the most incredible visual displays of raw nature on this planet. This is where Santorini is different to most places. As a friend once said to me “it’s the only place I know that’s much better than the postcards”. The difference is that it is impossible for your brain to conjure this landscape up on it’s own. The real will always be better than your imagination… and this is where the magic spell begins. Your eyes capture the images… they send them to your brain, which… after an initial denial period, carefully files the images away…. only to retrieve them regularly when you need to experience “mental escape”. So people dream… often for years. They experience daily life with all it’s ups and downs, the happy times and the sad times. But all the while the images remain… the fantasy is alive deeeeeeep in the brain. Add some frustration because life hasn’t quite worked out according to plan… and you have the perfect mental storm for Santorini-fever. It can sometimes be a life-long craving… other times it becomes an ongoing obsession and other times it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime experience that changes people for ever. More often than not you will find yourself relaxing with a glass of wine over dinner or in conversation… and little movies start playing in your head. Your brain is mining the archives…

I’ve seen millions of people visit here over the years and met many others that visited the island when younger. By far the happiest of these people are those that came here with the ‘right’ attitude, an open mind… a willingness to experience, an anticipation fuelled by their imagination. Like our leading lady at the start of this post…. they looked and whispered “change me”. They opened themselves to the island to weave it’s magic. They tuned their mind to the spiritual presence of this wonder of nature. They were rewarded with wondrous memories and often a life-altering spiritual awakening.

It’s quite amazing what can happen to you if you are open to change… even on a daily basis in your home environment. You can hear spoken words or see an image, listen to a song lyric or read a quote… and suddenly, you are dreaming. If you allow these experiences to change you… chances are they will.

It can be the beginning of something wonderful in your life !

~ ~ ~

In the meantime… here is an image to help your mind drift to my part of the world. It was taken at sunset and it was only much later I realised  how poignant the captured magazine image is for the lifestyle I have chosen. The page was  opened randomly when I decided to take a quick pic… somehow I think the quick pic captured a lot more than a sunset  scene….

PS:  maybe we will continue the adventures of our lady-traveller another time…

;~

Happiness…

– “I just want to be happy

– “With what”?

– “Just…happy!”

hmmmm…. am I missing something? Is happiness something so forehead-slapping obvious that I blinked and missed it? Is this person saying they want to be happy, period?  Happy with everything and everyone in their life…. for ever??? Can anyone seriously have that as a goal in life?

If they do (have that as a goal)… aren’t they building an enormous and very pointy brick against which they will be banging their head for the rest of their lives?

In reality… “I just want to be happy” is a statement made by a person who is more than likely living an unexamined life (read: a person who has not tried to truly understand how life “really” works… how reality behaves all around them… someone who has not seriously attempted to think about the philosophy of life). That’s not meant as derogatory. This ‘state of being’ represents the large majority of people on this planet… it is a simple fact.

The puzzling reality is that a lot of people DO have that as a goal. It is a humble goal… in their way of thinking. They don’t want millions… they don’t want to be movie stars or prime ministers… they just want to be happy. Little do they realise that they would be infinitely better off wishing to be millionaires or movie stars or prime ministers. At least all of those (whilst difficult) are indeed possible.

People always have a puzzled expression on their faces when my reply to their “Are you happy?” question is always “happy with what?”.  They are obviously puzzled that my simple brain can’t fathom their seemingly “simple” question. After all… “happy” is what everyone wants to be… right?

Well… forgive my simple brain but it likes to define things before it starts believing in them and certainly before it accepts them as goals in life. To my way of thinking “happiness”… the one thing that everyone seemingly seeks in life, is one of the worst defined & most vague of concepts ever created by humans. Actually…let me rephrase that. “Being happy” at a given moment in time is very easily defined. “Being happy” in terms of life as a continuum… well that’s where things get murky.

Imagine if someone invited you to come to a football field with the promise to have “fun” by playing a game. You get there only to find there are thousands of other people on the field already. Nobody knows what the game is, nobody knows what the rules are and nobody knows what the expected outcome is. You are just supposed to do it… and have fun “doing” it. Would you willingly join such a game?

If you answered NO yet your goal in life is to just be “happy”, then I ask you this… what’s the difference?

You see… there are certain habits people fall into that almost guarantee their ongoing unhappiness in life. One of those… paradoxically, is expecting to somehow one day be “happy” all the time. The problem is that unless you have a bong permanently attached to your mouth, or you’re taking valium 24/7, or you spend your days looking for the bottom of whiskey bottles… you ain’t never going to be happy “all the time”. It simply doesn’t exist… it doesn’t happen… it CAN’T happen.

This means that these people are chasing a ghost… an impossibility. It means they live in a constant state of disappointment with life because they are NOT happy yet and, as we now know, they never WILL be happy “all the time”. They have fallen into life’s biggest trap.

Others start early on to believe that “money” or a great education is the key to happiness. Or that the “big house” in the “right” suburb/city/country will result in eternal happiness. “If I could just live in ‘………….’, I would be in bliss”.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way. Money does not guarantee happiness, a big house does not guarantee happiness… infact posessions period do not guarantee happiness. They are just manic substitute desires.

A great number of people are so massively confused about what really makes them happy that if they sat down and gave the whole concept some real thinking time they would be shocked at themselves. They would realize they don’t really need most of the things they desire… and they never really needed most of the things they already have. It’s a zero sum game. We con ourselves, quite literally advertise things to our own brain… making ourselves “believe” that we need certain things in order to “be happy”. As long as those things are not in our lives we can not possibly be happy… which in turn means by not being happy we are not working/living/thinking at our full potential. It’s a vicious circle.

So not only people don’t really understand what really makes them happy… they don’t understand the concept itself. They imagine it as a perpetual “state of being”… having reached a certain level of wealth or status or achievement in society/business.

There are of course people who are living on a more self-conscious level… having thought deep and hard about their very existence, their purpose, their happiness and the contribution they can make towards the happiness of others. These are not enlightened people… they are not exotic mystic gurus or Tibetan monks. They are simply people they have realized the importance of questioning and understanding their existence on this planet. They have asked the difficult questions of themselves and of the world they live in. They are living what Socrates called an “examined life”.

My experience, for what it’s worth, leads me to believe that the following are true:

–  Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional

–  Change is inevitable – adapting is optional

–  Stressors (anger) are inevitable – but stress itself is optional

–  Mistakes are inevitable – learning from them is optional

–  Obstacles are inevitable – ways around them are optional

–  Resistance is inevitable – acceptance is optional

–  Ignorance is the default – Knowledge & understanding are optional

–  Existing is the default – a “good life” , a conscious life, living a life of purpose… is very definitely optional

–  Meetings are inevitable – “friends” are optional

–  “Feel good” (read: ‘instant gratification’) is the default – “Discipline” is optional

–  The freeway (common pathway) is the default – walking on virgin snow is highly optional

–  “Ubiquity” is the default – “Individuality” is personal conviction & style… both of which are incredibly optional

– “Yes” is the default – “No” is the discipline (especially to temptations… which are also ubiquitous)

–  A life of fame & fortune is delusional –  a life of dignity & purpose is a personal mission

– “Just enough” is more…

–  You can never fully appreciate your life… until you have pondered the question of death and what it means to you.

–  The world does not belong to those who create/dream/innovate/redefine….. it belongs to those who can execute/act/complete (if you can do both you are unstoppable)

–  Understanding “Time ” and having the “Patience” to make it work for you gives you an almost unfair advantage…

–  Everything in the universe is very finely balanced. Your own balanced life will fit harmoniously into that ecosystem. On the other hand…an unbalanced life is rejected like a bad transplant.

At the end of it all “happiness” is not something mythical or mystical. It’s really something very elegantly simple (as most good things in life tend to be). You can achieve it hourly/daily with very little effort and at no expense. All you have to do is figure out what it is… and all that takes is a little bit of thought…..  ;-)

PS: If you care to discuss further… please leave a comment or email.

 

The little book of pleasure…

It’s 6pm local time on a Friday… after an 80+ hour working week I board my flight home and take my seat by the window. The hostess comes over with the usual “Good evening Mr E… how was your week?” – “Fine thank you”… smiling at her as she hands me my glass of ice water and I hand her my jacket. This is a well rehearsed routine for both of us. With a few exceptions for holidays we have both done this particular flight every week for a very long time. Almost four years in fact. Within a minute or so she is back… excusing herself as she hands me two pillows. I reach down into my trusted old carry-on bag and pull out my favourite travelling companion… place my two small pillows against the plane window and rest my head slowly against them. As the side of my face sinks into the soft pillows I randomly open a page and read the quote on it: ”  Put your lips to an Italian” – Savour a delicious gelato as you melt in the sun… and imagine yourself on Italy’s Amalfi coast on a Sunday !

I put my tiny book away…close my eyes and allow my mind to experience the delightful pleasure of dreaming about lemon gelato whilst on the beach in Positano… at sunset. A smile comes across my face as I gently drift into my own mental bliss.

This is not a scene from a movie or something I dreamed about. This happened for years… and years. The flight I mentioned was one of a few each week… but it was the one I enjoyed the most because it was the last flight home each week. A three hour flight which would’ve been unbearable without my well rehearsed zen routine.

The point here is not to put you off flying… although I would advise you to avoid it like the plague unless it’s taking you on holidays. My point is that although to many it may seem somehow glamorous to be flying a great deal…or simply travelling a lot, I can assure you it’s not fun. Every frequent flyer has his or her own way of coping and trying to make it as bearable and/or comfortable as possible. Some drink (make that a “lot” of them drink), some watch movies, do puzzles, talk to anyone that wants to listen, listen to music, read or pull out some work and try to catch up. On most of my weekly flights “work” was the preference for me… but not on Friday nights. That was my “pleasure flight”… the going home flight – although I have always done the same thing on my way to any situation where I knew there would be confrontation of any kind… be it meetings, negotiations or just ugly scenes for whatever reason. This routine was my way of escaping into my own world… my own mind-scape. No need for expensive gadgets…no need for hoping for a good movie… no need for alcohol or big heavy books. Just my little book of pleasure and my mind.

The point is…it doesn’t take much. There is no need for elaborate rituals, expensive toys or copious amounts of alcohol. All you need to escape into another world of pleasurable thought… is, funny enough, your mind… and a stimulus. For me the stimulus was a ridiculously small book called “the little book of pleasure”… by Paul Wilson. It is about the size of two business cards… small enough to carry anywhere, at any time. In it are about 80 tiny pages with a single thought/quote on each. I have always just randomly opened it and read whatever I landed on… occasionally repeating the process until I landed on something that brought a smile to my face. Then I was off in my own little world.

Let me read you some other quotes from it…

“Give thanks to worms” – wear good quality silk next to your skin and every movement becomes an act of pleasure !

or

“Have your wine salted” – Unwind with a glass of fine wine in a bath of mineral salts… sip the wine as you close your eyes and lose yourself in the bath!

See what I mean? I have been known to be asleep reading that last quote before the plane even takes off. Head on pillows… two second read… eyes close and dreaming begins. That simple !

Needless to say that you don’t need to be flying to do this. You can do it anywhere, anytime. It takes a little discipline to get into the habit of believing that something that simple can work for you… but trust me, your mind is the best gadget ever invented. All it needs is some instructions and the time to produce the most incredibly revitalising thoughts for you. You don’t even need a little book… just the self discipline to be able to think of something that would give you pleasure… and let your mind do the rest. It is the simplest… yet most rewarding skill you can ever develop. Don’t wait for travel… get into the habit of doing it daily at home or even work during your brake. It gives you the freedom to be anyone, feel anything or be anywhere… including Oia ;-)

PS: “The little book of pleasure” is probably out of print now… but I am sure there are thousands of sites on line that would provide the same kind of thing. I’m sure there would be hundreds of little books that have also been published since then. It’s getting into this simple habit that’s the important thing… the things to think about are limitless ;-)

Living with Intent…

It has been said that what separates us the most from our close primate relatives is what is known as “intentionality”. Without getting too much into the use of the term “intentionality” in a number of fields, let’s just say that intentionality is our ability to apply thoughtfulness in action or decision. Our “being” as a result of “intent”.

Keep these words in mind…. “being” as a result of “intent” !

Let us now very briefly examine a famous experiment conducted by John Searle (b. 1932, Denver, CO; Ph.D. philosophy, Oxford; currently Professor of Philosophy, UC Berkeley). The experiment – known as “Chinese Room” – was conducted in 1980 and in very simple terms it goes something like this: there is a man sitting in a room which is empty other than a set of rules which are set out in the classic  “if >> then” fashion. The room has two windows through which messages by another two people are passed through the man in the room. Where it gets interesting is that the two people outside the room are passing messages to each other in Chinese. The man in the room does NOT speak or understand Chinese…he simply follows his “rule book” which tells him when he sees character “X’ he places character “Y” on a piece of paper and so on and so on….. and then passes it through the other window.

Simple… right?

If only. This experiment my dear friends has created such debate in the fields of philosophy, psychology and AI, that we will not even go near it in this little blog at this time. However…. let us simply accept the words of Mr Searle that the man in the Chinese Room lacked “intentionality”. In other words, although he answered messages in Chinese from one person to the other, he himself had no idea what they were saying or what the messages were about. He was simply following his “rule book” and the classic “if >> then” scenario.

Now…. forgive me for oversimplifying what is a truly profound experiment…. but like my interpretation of the lyrics of “Comfortably Numb”, this experiment has always left a very clear impression in my mind in terms of what it really represents. Let’s forget the questions of consciousness and deep AI for now. Let’s focus on the man in the Chinese Room and his “if >> then” rule book. He does things simply because the rules tell him so…. he has no real idea what’s going on around him…. he serves a purpose without questioning….

Does he remind you of anyone?

For years I have asked this question of managers, of staff in large corporations and just people in general. Who does the man in the Chinese room remind you of ?

At times the answer was immediate, other times it wasn’t so obvious to the audience.

Personally I think we have all been the man in the Chinese room. We have all worked to a rule book…. the most common “if >> then” rule being: “If I turn up every day… and I do exactly as I am told… then I get paid on Thursdays”. You can substitute “Thursdays” with any frequency you like…. but the concept stays the same. You turn up, you follow the rules to the letter….then you get paid and you get to play the game again next week. It’s what makes the world go around…. and around.

Only one thing wrong with that picture. What a pathetically sad world this would be if we all did that. If we all just worked like mindless robots…. without any real understanding, or motivation, or creativity, or intentionality. What would this world look like if we all followed that “if >> then” formula?

Sadly my friends I believe an awful lot of people get caught in this trap. They turn up, they have no desire, no motivation, no real understanding, no purpose….no intent. They simply live to get paid… or to just exist. A life without purpose… a life without clear intent.

The good news of course is that it can all be changed in an instant. All it takes is a dream, an idea, a notion, an epiphany and your life has changed. You just need to allow yourself the pleasure of running with the thought in your mind. Trusting your instinct that what you think is right… really is, that it can change your life…. that it can change the lives of many. 

It is amazing how you feel when your life is full of purpose. Full of INTENT. One of the main reasons I wanted to follow the theme of “finding your passion” is exactly that. Finding your passion is finding intent. Finding your passion is “living with intent” !

Another enormous benefit of “living with intent” is that you tend to substitute “impossibility” with “possibility” thinking. The negativity of thinking that everything (or at least most things) are impossible, suddenly is replaced with positive “possibility” thinking. Everything is possible when you have clear intent. Your dream is suddenly a blueprint for your life and your new sense of purpose fills you with energy and excitement. All of the sudden everything feels new, fresh, exciting and yes…. possible, doable, achievable.  It’s like being very much in love… which not surprisingly is exactly what the lovely  Carla Coulson told us she felt when she discovered her passion for photography.

It’s also amazing how infectious your intent can be. People are attracted to people who have clear goals, living with passion and clear intent. You suddenly find all kinds of similarly minded people gravitating towards you, adding to your momentum, just as you are adding to theirs. It becomes a positive forward motion that carries you to places you never thought were possible to reach.

The funniest thing of all? Intent is not conditional, it’s not based on race or ethinicity, it’s not based on education or cultural background, there is no age limit attached and there is no minimum income requirements. It’s simply a matter of choice. Our OWN choice. We can either choose to live with a purpose or we can choose to live like the man in the Chinese Room.

Dream…

Find your passion…

Don’t just live…. “BE” with full intent !

Let’s make this a great week for all of us ;-)

 

 

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Just wanted to wish a speedy recovery to the lovely Lala at My Castle in Spain… get well soon gorgeous girl ;-)

 

Also wanted to thank the lovely Kirsten at Write on Thyme for her mention of this little blog while she’s enjoying San Francisco (one of my fave US cities). Thank you Kirsten…hope you enjoy your visit ;-)