Monday, September 24, 2007

Step 2: If You Win the Rat Race, You're Still a Rat

by James Arthur Ray

"The rate of change today is staggering."

"We have an accelerated pace unprecedented in the human race." "The amount of information we have available to us is doubling every year."

Sound familiar?

It should. These ideas have been so hammered into our collective consciousness that they hardly make an impact any more.

Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about it...

About how things aren't the same as they used to be — but they are going really fast. And I don't like how it makes us react: It influences us to think that things outside of us are moving so quickly that we have to race like rats in a maze to keep up.

How fast is fast enough?

The truth is that we have complete control over our own internal rate. Yes, we have to stay abreast of technology if we want to capitalize upon it, and yes, we must keep challenging ourselves to our own personal best. But we don't have to feel as if we're on some treadmill and the dreaded finger of time keeps pressing the "increase speed" button.

The comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be...

In the first e-mail lesson you received, I encouraged you to get out of your comfort zone, and even went so far as to say that it's the most dangerous place to be. You have to swim past the crashing waves trying to pull you back to shore, I wrote. This metaphorical treadmill is just like those waves. We need to move beyond it. Mentally, we need to step off and onto our own path.

The Path of Power is a Warrior's path...

In The Power to Win Weekend, I call this "The Path of Power," where we can stride forward with courage into the unknown, seeking our own personal potential. I refer to people who are on The Path of Power as "Warriors." In this case, I'm using the word not to refer to those who attempt to conquer others, but instead to those who take on the task of mastering themselves...

The most difficult battle you will ever fight...

...challenging themselves to live well and achieve great things despite the cultural conditioning. Each of us can be Warriors who face our fears and go forward despite them.

As this kind of Warrior, the most difficult battle you ever fight is the battle to be unique in a world that will marshal its every force to keep you the same. I hope to arm you for this battle both in these e-lessons and in the future should you choose to join me at a live event.

"One more thing" is never enough...

One of the most seductive ideas is that we can "acquire" happiness through something here on the physical plane. Advertising and our social culture reinforce the idea that our lives are about getting a new car, or an impressive title at work, or making six figures, or having a million-dollar home. There's nothing wrong with pursuing or having those things, but we must realize that they are empty if we don't build our lives on something more grounded and eternal.

The ego will never allow you to be wealthy....

We have to silence that craven voice that nags us, "If I get just this one more thing, then I'll be successful and happy." We all know intellectually that this is false, but most of us still behave as if it's true. We run around pursuing that "one thing" and wonder why we don't feel complete when we get it. Or feel frustrated when it doesn't come to us quickly.

Instead of working on things from the outside in — striving to get that "one thing" to make us feel good inside — we need to work for goodness from the inside out, to know that the source of everything that is good in our lives does not come from somewhere outside ourselves, but instead from within.

If you sit around long enough there will be nothing to sit on...

"Now wait a minute, James," you may be thinking as you read this. "I am not going to sit around and contemplate my navel, believing that good stuff will come my way just because I'm a good person." And you are right. But the distinction is that, ultimately, "good stuff" comes from you — not from the world in which we live.

Our accomplishments are hugely important, and they are gratifying only if we understand that it's not the "thing" itself that is gratifying, but who we became in the process to acquire or achieve it.

Live every day for its own sake.

If you can immerse yourself in living, then you can detach while you are still fully engaged. Sound contradictory? It's not.

You can set goals and work to achieve great things in your life. At the same time, you can live each day for its own sake rather than some future return. You can stop living as if every experience is a means to an end and see that every experience is an end in itself.

Most people live everywhere but the present.

Some of us dwell in the past, reliving good memories or trying to change bad ones. Many more are on that treadmill, running to get to somewhere else. But this kind of living brings limited power and limited joy when compared to what you have when you are fully engaged in what you're doing and being right now.

Hurry is fear.

This racing around to get somewhere else is defended by many as enthusiasm or drive. But hurry is merely fear disguised as passion. Impatience is just the ego struggling for control. Once you recognize and accept this, you can start to change it. Doesn't it feel great when you are inspired and excited about your life and your achievements rather than pressured by your own or others' expectations? It comes down to a basic temporal shift: bringing your focus back to the here and now.

When you start to feel frantic, take a moment to ask yourself...

Am I having fun? Does what I am doing right now bring me joy? Is this an adventure? Am I following my love or my destiny? Am I grateful for the opportunity to do what I am doing now?

If you find yourself answering "no," then you know you are back on the treadmill. Mentally hit the pause button. Step off the treadmill. Consider how you can bring yourself back to the present and enjoy what you are doing.
Observe that you are not totally focused on the task at hand. Observing your lack of "present-ness" (awareness of the present) automatically brings you back.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Simply tuning in to your breathing will lead you back into the present moment.

Shift your focus to your whole body. Don't think about it, though. Feel it. Notice the sensation in your entire body, a part at a time. By bringing your awareness to your body, you can take it away from the future and past, which exist only in the head.

Ask yourself:
How can I place my full attention on right now and enjoy what I am doing for its own sake?
Get out of the rut...

One of the best ways I've found to step off the treadmill is to do something completely different from your usual routine. That's what a vacation is supposed to do, and, in a way, that's what attending The Power to Win Weekend will do as well. You'll return to your daily life a very different person, refreshed, revitalized, recommitted to living at your fullest in every moment and following the destiny of your dreams. And pursuing a destiny you love is nothing like a rat race — instead, it's the most enjoyable journey you could take.

To find out more about The Power to Win, click here.

Your Coach,

James Arthur Ray

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