Comfortable Discomfort

The first noble truth cuts right to the core: life is suffering. While the next three explain the journey to acceptance and freedom, returning to accepting the first step is almost hard-coded into our DNA.

Sadly, our immediate evolution (tracked though the pursuit and dependence on technology) hasn’t made this any easier – we all rely, and are almost chained to – our smartphones, and the services they deliver.

Sure, the strongest among us are able to moderate our consumption, but since there’s near total social acceptance of phone use, we are all armed with devices that allow us to not only escape the world around us, but escape ourselves, and our discomfort – and that only makes it easier to scroll endlessly when everyone around you is doing the same, similar to mass disobedience, although it’s mass acceptance.

There are plenty of apps that help you monitor your usage, and the inclusion of parental tools to control and limit our children’s consumption are but a glaring product of how alluring and addictive these devices can be. Using these tools to control time spent on “unhealthy” activities and apps are one thing for those of us too young to know any better, but actually teaching our children (and our selves!) moderation leads to far healthier individuals.

Over half a year ago I removed myself from nearly every social media platform. I maintain a basic Facebook account (where I’ve unfollowed every single person – Sorry Mom) and keep solely to administrate a few business pages. The biggest struggle was the habit of using and browsing instant gratification apps – Instagram, Twitter, etc. Even now, I still occasionally find myself wanting to share a personal triumph, or depend on the world for sympathy when I’m suffering.

Yet ownership of these ups and downs leads to the next stage – indifference. These feelings come and go, in and out, like the breath, and are as dependable as such. Savoring them in the moment, equally, allows us to see the joy in despair, and the underlying sadness below the elation

If any part of this post has struck a chord within you, and you’re eager to start uninstalling apps, canceling accounts, or smashing your phone.. don’t.

Take it slow, try installing some new apps.. Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer. All of these have free content, trial sessions, and guided meditations. Ways to stay plugged in, but to unplug, unwind. They’ll teach you how to take a break from yourself, your habits, and eventually, you’ll learn how to sit with your discomfort, and even find some comfort there.

Discomfort of Self

I’m finding the early hours of the morning quite fruitful for philosophical thought. What once would have been the frantic scribbling of an idea in a notebook with bleary squinting eyes in the darkness (only to be proven unreadable, unremarkable, or forgotten come morning light) as once again driven me to put on the kettle, make another cup of mint tea, and to pull my laptop out

The importance, or the value, of this blog has stymied me for years, as my own self worth and drive to pursue general “betterment” has waxed and waned. As I look back through old posts, I recall that sudden bursts of creativity, and post regularity usually follow some particular “a-ha!” moment where I feel obligated to share my general successes or musings by writing on the wall of the internet (perhaps this has become my bathroom wall?) I also see a trend in the spaces where I don’t share, a few weeks here and there, a month or two.. sometimes over a year. These are spaces where my pursuit of something “better” has been engulfed by the chore of simple existence. It doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom – these periods are no stranger to the ebb and flow of happiness vs despair.. yet I still clearly admit that I don’t tend to share when I’m feeling down.

When I look at what’s already out there, others sharing their stories or thoughts, every piece tends to offer at least a glimmer of hope – people share their triumphs, providing a bastion of safety in a maelstrom of uncertainty. Life already gets you down, who wants to curl up with a mug of tea and read about someone else’s problems?

Yet what if having to strength to share my despair provides a common ground for inter-connectivity between everyone who comes across it? While a theme of hope can be inspiring, it can also lead nowhere – reading about how to improve your life doesn’t actually create tangible success: that still rests with the person holding the book. They still need to put in the effort to inspire and fuel their own change. What if it’s ok to read that life can be what seems like an endless struggle, that not only are you always walking uphill, but any pause to catch your breath results in the inevitable slide back down the slope?

Reading about despair and a lack of  direction serves as a starting point for growth without any preconceived notions about what that might look like. Sometimes just getting out of bed is enough of a triumph that it should be as equally celebrated as winning the Nobel prize – It’s definitely more self fulfilling and should be treated as such.

The first of the Four Noble Truths 

” … is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; … “

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, “Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion”

teaches us that to become free of suffering we must embrace it. “Passing through it’s gate” implies that the identification and following acceptance of pain leads to it’s cessation. What’s great about this is that the shoshin, or beginner’s mind, is always easy to return to. It’s always easy to begin, and pain only serves as a constant reminder that we’re at the start.

And sometimes that’s enough.

Embrace vs Escape

It’s 5:30 in the morning.

I’ve been awake since 4, but it took me half an hour to convince myself that it was ok to get out of bed this early.

We live our lives under the scrutiny of ourselves, but we wriggle out from this culpability, offloading this responsibility to others: to conforming to societal expectations. We yearn to escape ourselves.


What’s especially interesting about this situation is that very few people actually give a damn about what we do, say, or are, and in that small percentage of people who do have something to say about our choices, even fewer should actually count – yet we often put so much stock in their opinions.

Let’s say I wrap my legs underneath myself, sitting cross legged on a park bench in the sun, close my eyes, and start to concentrate on my breath. As I sit there, deepening into my practice, separating myself from my physical existence, I hear two people walk by, talking about some random aspect of their lives. Yet as they pass by, they stop talking, and one of them lets out a little laugh. Immediately I’m torn away from my meditation: I start to wonder if they were laughing at me for my behavior, for something that is seen as “alternative” to societal norms in public in my area of the world. Yet what infuriates me the most is not wondering what they think about me and what I was doing – no, instead I am frustrated that I let it actually effect me so drastically.

This sort of “expectation” follows us from day to day, and affects some more than others. If you suffer with anxiety, this sort of struggle can be amplified 10 fold – yet we all feel its weight in some circumstance or another.

The path away from this burden is in embracing ourselves – self acceptance leads to inner confidence, which can be incredibly empowering. It’s a perspective shift that’s so subtle, but also quite difficult, as it requires taking responsibility for our own agency instead of placing it in the hands of every stranger we meet. Sounds hilarious right? But we do it every day.

Learning to own yourself starts with your self. If you want to get up at 4am, own it. If you want to meditate on a bench in the sunshine, own it (although it’s currently -11°C where I live, so you might want to wait a few months)

The TL;DR is to connect to the passion that drives your actions and desires. That in turn will fuel your inner convictions and help you be more authentic to the one person that actually matters – you.


From a young age, we learn that want is a powerful force. Grabbing for toys, apple slices, candy… We get in touch with instant gratification long before we can ever understand how delaying our desires, or redirecting them, can often lead to much healthier, multifacted goals – priorities can be optimized and refocused!

But no matter how hard we try, no matter how we live our lives, it’s difficult to escape that primal feeling of want. as we get older, our desires become more diverse as well.. the smattering of chocolate bars throughout the week, the moccafrappuchinos that punctuate our day, the extra slice of pie after a satisfying meal are but taken for granted. They’re replaced by yearning for a bigger, thinner television, a faster car.. the list goes on. pushing the envelope. There’s balance in availability – how common it is, how many places it’s available, and the cost.. We often lust after things that are on the outside edge of our means.

Often this balances a further argument between perceived value vs personal connection – buying a Louis Vuitton bag because it’s a well recognized status symbol – the logo on the fabric carries a certain level of jealousy or respect from others that share in it’s value or desire. Sure, this won’t resonate with everyone, but that’s not the point. It creates a shared connection with those in that desired peer group who also hold it in high regard. This applies to fashion, cars, technology… Because often those same people – those with a real passion for various “things” tend to socialize with others who have that same desire. It’s a way for humans to externalize a shared connection with others.

Now don’t think that I’m standing on a soapbox, shaking my fist at the sky, ruing all the people who enjoy standing in a parking lot, the hoods of their Subaru’s open, drooling over each other’s cold air intakes – there’s value and genuine satisfaction in a shared hobby – but it should be approached with some sensibility and mindful engagement.


No, it’s not the Delorean.

Recently I came across a pickup truck that check all my boxes, so to speak. It’s the truck that Marty lusted after in the original Back To The Future movie, and has quite a cult following in regards to dependability, even over 30 years later. Probably why it is listed at $8,500. This truck is on the other side of the country, and had me daydreaming about flying out and driving it home.

Let’s think about this. We need to ask ourselves a few key questions:

  1. Why do I want this?
  2. Do I *need* this in any fashion? Why?
  3. Once I have this, what will change versus now, when I don’t have this?
  4. What feeling does this “thing” inspire?
  5. Is there any way to get this same sort of feeling without spending time, money, and stress in the process of acquiring of this “thing”?

The 4th (and perhaps the fifth) are the real keys to this line of reasoning, because they encapsulate the primary takeaway in this situation – a situation where I *don’t* get the thing, but still feel the satisfaction I’d have if I did.

A couple years ago I started working on a simple worksheet entitled “Simple Things: A Roadmap to Success”, and it’s got a couple columns labelled “Things that Make Me Feel Good/Bad” – I mention that some of the things that make me feel good, like watching clouds and drinking a hot cup of ginger tea, that I often forget about when I’m feeling bad. Note that it can take months of awareness and self honesty to fill out more than a few lines – and that’s ok! Don’t write anything that doesn’t instantly spring to mind, it won’t be genuine and won’t carry the gravitas you need this list to embody.

I’ll write up a full post on the entire worksheet, but since I mention it in the accompanying video below, I wanted to share it with you now, so you can get a head start on reading it, should it resonate with you – I’d also love to get some feedback on it, it’s something I’d like to work on, to expand on.

So, to wrap up, it’s ok to want things, it’s also ok to get things.. but understand what drives that want, and be honest with yourself as to the motivation behind it.. Often you’ll find that a nice warm hug gives you the same good feelings as sliding behind the wheel of a 30 year old pickup truck.

Perception of Perfection

The world has always been temporary, our time here is but a blink of the eye – yet our society has only amplified the effect. We’re looking to replace our existing items, relationships, jobs with those that appear better. We’ve been served up a platter of apps, powered by the internet, to give into those basal desires.

Don’t like your car? Find a better one online! Don’t like your job? Apply to dozens with the click of a button! Don’t like your relationship? Swipe your way to a new one!!

Yet we’re all looking for the perfect situation – something that is perceived as having immense value, but available with the minimal amount of commitment, money, or effort.

Striving for that perfection is an endless pursuit.. No matter how shiny and new something is at first, time only serves to dull it’s patina; even if it’s something that doesn’t lose it’s value – potentially even getting MORE valuable with each sweep of the clock hands, it’s often equally easy to start to take it for granted. and seek out something new, strange and different.


This applies to the ideal self as well. We often identify with the future self, hold them in such high esteem, that we life in that dream, eschewing the now to exist in this fantasy.

Now, if you want it, if you want anything, it’s possible. You just have to understand that it takes effort. And boatloads of it. You need to make compromises, sacrifices, and get back up over and over again each time obstacles in your path knock you off your feet.

Furthermore, the thing that we want so badly, the person who’s life, who’s relationship, who’s job, we desperately want to emulate.. It’s rarely all it seems, we never see the backstage, the flipside of the positive. Even products we see advertised rarely give us lasting satisfaction.. the reality, the flaws behind the curtain become all too real once we’ve finally attained what we yearn for.. And this only serves to disappoint, to act as a springboard towards the next fixation.

Here’s the takeaway. You’ll never be your future self, it’s always in the future, out of reach. Look at yourself in the mirror right now, and smile – who you are, right now, is your optimal self – you can’t be anyone other than who you are right now. Understand that your flaws are just as important as your strengths, and they make you who you are.

Life is difficult. We’re all struggling with something, and it’s just as important to us as it is different to what someone else is grappling with. Instead of seeing the flaws, the imperfect facets, look for the good – in yourself, and in others.

You never reach the destination. You’re always traveling, so get comfortable with the now – it’s all you’ve got.

Time, Money, and (in)dependence

Money and time create an interesting interplay. Although time is the only resource that we have in finite supply, we tend to invest a significant amount of it in frivolous pursuits – most bizarre since we also don’t know how much of it we have left! We can’t log into our life and check how much we have remaining.

Not only is this an unknown balance, but there’s equal constraints on how many hours a day we can healthily invest and balance between work, rest, play, sleep.. Prioritizing what we choose to spend our time on has immense impact on our quality of the life we lead. If we shirk sleep, exercise, and healthy head space in order to increase the time we log in other pursuits, the balance slowly teeters and creates instability.


Whenever I’m looking at starting a new project, I burn energy and time in the passion that fuels the idea. Since I’m only human, like the rest of us, I always get excited about sharing this growth with those around me. I want to get others involved not only so that I can create a more cohesive result, but I want to ensure that when I’m burning out a bit, the aspects of fear and failure can be shouldered by others.. Someone else who’s equally committed to success is an invaluable ally in assisting on a project.. Because suddenly there’s extra hours available to further the direction without need to unbalance personal investment.

But what if they aren’t interested? Or worse, what if they initially express interest, but then fail carry their own weight – not being accountable in following up with their promises? Then their involvement flips from being an asset to an anchor.

This is one of the reasons why the concept of money exists. As a universal concept, it creates value through time/effort – effectively providing transactional incentive that makes up for the lack of passion. But it doesn’t replace it all together, and no amount of money can make up for genuine interest and engagement. But if you’re in the market of creating content, products, or even a new business – then you won’t have much money of your own to put into it, and here’s where the challenge lies – do you  look for people to help out, donating their precious time for free, who are satisfied by being co-creators? Or do you toss a bit of money their way and see what percolates?

I personally struggle a little with overcoming fear and failure, so try to infect others with my passions – and when it doesn’t work, it feels like the idea can quickly get forgotten on the backburner. Looking for alternative solutions that don’t involve spending cash – such as hosting a cowork space from my home, create solutions that endeavor to keep the pot where it belongs – heating up to a boil at the forefront of my attention.

Everyday Is A Gift

Every single day that passes is a unique series of moments, that will never repeat, ever again, in the entirety of time. Sounds pretty overwhelming, can you feel that pressure building in your solar plexus? Now fill that space in your chest with a deep breath, and release it slowly, and attach all that stress to the air leaving your body…


– by Phạm Hữu Dư

There’s no pressure to be anyone you have to be other than who you are, right now. There’s no reason to do anything other than accept yourself, as in order to exist within this very moment, we need to be at peace with everything exactly as it is. Anything that distracts us from that feeling actually takes effort to maintain. If you surrender to the moment, fully, you’ll feel buoyant, yet anchored, in each moment. That giddiness is the elation of living authentically in each now as it passes onto the next.

We’ve all heard the age old mantra that everyday is a gift, and that each day we have the opportunity to begin anew. There’s only one thing about this that I’m not such a fan of, and that’s treating each day as a separate “existence”. Sure, it gives us the excuse, the power, to reinvent ourselves as we wake with the rising sun, but what about those days where we open our eyes feeling tired, sad, or hungover? Those days where the very act of getting our weary bones unfolded and out of bed is a near insurmountable chore? Are we to struggle haphazardly throughout the day, waiting for the promise of beginning anew tomorrow?

Here’s the thing – it never comes, and as much as the promise of renewal gives us hope, it equally dashes the existence of the dreary hum-drum days that often, realistically, populate the majority of our lives.

So what if each moment is treated as a new day? Each breath, each heartbeat, each “now” is an excuse to exist authentically in the now? This new perspective teaches that sort of mindfulness where even the most mundane day can be as beautiful as the sunny, warm, lazy ones at the beach?

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a personal day, but instead of dwelling in the guilt accompanied by not spending it as we should, instead we should simply bask in it’s unique existence, as we only get to experience a limited number of them in this precious gift called life – by adjusting our perspective, we suddenly change how we see everything – and that small shift is the most precious thing we have to appreciate, not just every day.. but every single moment.





I always abhor those articles that extol various life “hacks” that preach small effort techniques delivering huge results.

So it’s with trepidation that I share this advice with you, as it carries a similar message.. but it’s by no means a shortcut. It’s more a method to refocus your perspective on everything you do, which produces the result of keeping you in a mindful state.

Think about everything you do on a daily basis. No, not the tasks, work, or the “big picture” stuff: instead, I’m talking about the little things that fill in the gaps. When you’re walking, place each foot with deliberation, when you put a carton of juice away in the fridge, slot it into it’s place mindfully, don’t just drop it into place.


Tightrope walking is a great example to apply to deliberate activity: each step is done with careful placement and purpose: balance!

The easiest task to try this activity is with the way that I got into meditation in the first place: washing the dishes (which is now one of my favorite activities). Pick up each plate carefully, slide it into the water with care. Each careful swipe with the sponge or cloth should be deliberate and done with attention to detail, with purpose. This behavior translates into rinsing, and placing each item into the rack. At first, all this effort will feel unnatural, perhaps even mentally taxing.. But as it becomes a measured, practiced effort, you’ll fall into a rhythm. You’ll start to appreciate the feel of the hot water on your hands, the suds running off the plate, the rainbows dancing in the soap bubbles, the lemony scent of the water.. This is what it is to be present in the moment, each moment.

As you start to understand the calm that these moments hold, you’ll catch yourself applying this same behavior to other banal tasks.. Each step you take, every keyboard key you type, the notes in the music that fill your ears: every activity will anchor you in each moment as it comes and goes.

It’s important not to let this active deliberation stress you out. It should use minimal effort. If you’re doing multiple things at once, let your attention drift from one activity to the next, taking delight in each as you dwell in it.

Mindfulness is not a chore, it’s a simple process of living purposefully. Not only will this sort of mindset improve your mood, but it will also create a sense of confidence, of conscious existence in the world that surrounds you.

Winding Up

When I talk to most people; friends and strangers alike, mornings are often a shared bone of contention  – It’s common to grumble and complain, and since it’s a common phenomenon, something to share with others in its distaste.

It’s easy to get into the habit of hiding under the covers, waiting until the last possible second before rushing through a shower, a hastily swallowed breakfast, then rushing out of the house to miss the bus or to waste more time trying to get the car started.

This process sets the tone for the whole day: arriving to work flustered, taking up to an hour to become focused. An attitude of always lagging behind that’s near inescapable. It doesn’t stop once we’re home either: often worrying about what we didn’t get done, and trying to shoehorn in as much relaxation as we can, going to bed way past our bedtime, or unable to sleep due to an inability to put our phones down.


What if you could recapture your day, frame it in a positive light? Wind it up at your own pace?

There’s only so many hours of daylight, but chances are you are not using them all to the fullest. Waking up earlier gives you the flexibility and room to enjoy your morning. Get up, stretch for half an hour while you make a nice pot of tea or coffee. Sit on your mat and meditate, or in the rocking chair on the porch, hugging the mug in your hands and watching the sun rise.. A relaxed cadence sets your pace where instead of being behind, you’re ahead of your schedule, getting the chores, work, and tasks you need to on your own time.

Try just going to bed 10 minutes earlier, and waking up 10 earlier than you normally do. Then every week, wind it back another 10. 3 months from now you will have reclaimed 2 full hours of the day. It will take a few weeks not only to add sufficient time to your day to reap the rewards, but also to experiment with what sort of things you want to add to your new morning routine. Enjoy the process and set an unhurried pace.  What’s equally appealing about this process is that you’ll end up in bed much earlier, but you’ll find it much easier to wind down in the evenings after work – your quality of life will be better, you’ll leave more stress behind, and it will leave you relaxed.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

I’m driving to see a client this morning, and I’m bubbling along happily in the right hand lane. Around me are other commuters, drivers – all of us travelers, but most are rushing around me, impatient to get to their destinations.


I can’t assume, but I can only guess they are all running late, or otherwise just eager to be somewhere else than they already were.  Completely oblivious that their current presence in the now is inescapable – another great comparison to how many of us lead our lives. But this post isn’t just about the analogy to slow down and enjoy your life. I could wax philosophical about enjoying the cool breeze from your open window, the panoramic view of the clouds, the sun peeking out from behind a skyscraper..

But I’d rather be far more direct, simple, for you see, this post is one of those extremely rare ones where I’m urging you to do the bare minimum.

Go the speed limit. Do not exceed it. If you need to make it easier on yourself, or you have a lead foot, use cruise control (for most cars the minimum for this is 60kph). As you drive, pay attention to your breath, to the periphery of your vision – live in this space.

Listen to music if you wish, but my caveat here is that you must dance, sing along, and bounce to the beat. Enjoy your life, enjoy the now – it’s the only one you have.

As a caveat, I will admit I do enjoy driving in sports cars, even as a passenger, and I would be a hypocrite to say that it isn’t fun to drive a little fast (keep it safe folks!). But in those situations, driving is part of the experience – a Sunday ride on my motorcycle through a set of the local twisties or taking the top down on the convertible for a weekend away in wine country is completely acceptable and understandable. Here, the car and the company is integral to many as part in parcel with the destination – just be wary not to make it a habit in daily life.