Way of the peaceful warrior by Dan Millman definitely has a Zen feel to it. If you want to know how to live a happy life.. read this book (or at least watch the movie) and live by it. It’s filled with knowledge and deep insights. The book is about a young man named Dan who is a very competitive and ambitious gymnast. He trains very hard and all he wants is to win. One night while wandering about, he meets an old wise man named Socrates. Dan becomes his student and his life is forever changed. The old man challenges him in interesting ways and opens his mind into a whole new way of thinking and being.
“Life has three rules: Paradox, Humor, and Change.
Paradox: Life is a mystery; don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.
Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all measure.
Change: Know that nothing ever stays the same.”
1 – Act, don’t react
“A warrior acts; only a fool reacts.”
Instead of reacting on an impulse, learn to harness the power of your response. We all run into tough circumstances and seemingly difficult people. We must become aware of our thoughts, emotions, and irritations, and then react wisely. You are in control of your reactions, not anyone else. How you react shapes your entire life.
2 – Every moment is special and unique
One thing that has always bothered me is when people tell me they are bored. How could you possibly be bored living and existing in such an wonderful world at such a remarkable time?? There’s never ‘nothing going on’ as it’s said in the book. Every moment is amazing, filled with mystery and wonder. Existing in itself is mind blowing when you sit down and reflect on it. Slow down and take in every moment for it’s only ever going to happen once.
Remember when you were a kid and you were amazed by everything? Everything was amazing. Somehow, along the way, we lose that. We get caught up in life and in trying to get a good job and get a nice house. So, be like a kid again. Find wonder in every aspect of life.
3 – You are not your thoughts
“That’s exactly what it is, Dan – a thought – no more real than the shadow of a shadow. Consciousness is not In the body; the body is In Consciousness. And you Are that Consciousness – no the phantom mind that troubles you so. You are the body, but you are everything else, too. That is what your visions revealed to you. Only the mind resists change. When you relax mindless into the body, you are happy and content and free, sensing no separation. Immortality is Already yours, but not in the same way you imagined or hope for. You have been immortal since before you were born and will be long after the body dissolves. The body is in Consciousness; never born; never dies; only changes. The mind – your ego, personal beliefs, history, and identity – is all that ends at death. And who needs it?” Socrates leaned back into his chair.
“I’m not sure all of that sank in.”
“Of course not.” He laughed. “Words mean little unless you realize the truth of it yourself. And when you do, you’ll be free at last.”
Powerful. You are not your thoughts. Do not let your thoughts run your life. Observe your thoughts and you will soon realize that if you are able to observe your thoughts, then you can’t possibly be your thoughts. You are something higher. Get to the next level beyond just thoughts. Separate yourself from your thoughts simply by observing them. It’s perfectly fine to think about your thoughts and reflect on them, just don’t blindly run on them. Most things we think about are completely useless. Think of them like clouds floating by. When a thought you don’t like runs through your mind, just say, “hey, thanks for your input brain”, and move on.
4 – Enjoy the journey
“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.”
“Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”
Most people are going through life trying to reach some kind of destination. If I can make X amount of money or get that promotion or get that fame, then I will be happy and my life will be how I want it. This, however, is not true. It’s just a story you are telling yourself in your mind. Your life is the journey, not the destination that you have made up in your mind. If you focus on what’s out there in the future, your life will pass you by. As they say, stop and smell the flowers. Take the time to stop and appreciate the complexity and beauty in life. The video below (made by South Park creators) is a must watch.
5 – Be your own voice
“Everyone tells you what’s good for you. They don’t want you to find your own answers. They want you to believe theirs.”
“Everything you’ll ever need to know is within you; the secrets of the universe are imprinted on the cells of your body.”
You are the master of your fate, captain of your soul. You are in control of your life… don’t give that power to someone else. Follow your heart, your intuition, and don’t let outside forces dictate your life. Focus on the things that you can control and make your life how you want it to be. You may not be in control of certain outside influences, but you are 100% in control of how you react to them. Master yourself.
When you have important decisions to make, sit quietly and reflect on it without distractions. All the answers you will ever need are within yourself. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself.
6 – Forget the limitations the past has set for you
Don’t believe all of the limitations others have placed on you (whoever they may be – media, family, etc). Past experiences shape our limitations if you let them. get rid of that old mentality. There is nothing saying that you can’t change and be someone different right now. The past is only a shadow in your mind.
7 – We only have the present moment
“Where are you? Here
What time is it? Now
What are you? This moment.”
“. . . Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.”
All we have is the now. Don’t worry about the future or regret the past. You are only ever here and now. Reflect on that and let it sink in until it’s internalized. You are not in the many places your mind carries you away to (studies show we spend 50% of our time wandering in our mind). Living in the ever-unfolding moment makes you much more aware of life and all that is happening. Pay attention to what you’re focusing on and when you’re drifting away to past events or future visions. That’s all most people do. Make it a habit to focus on the moment you’re in right now.
Savor and enjoy the moment. Read the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle if you haven’t. Experience one thing at a time, fully. When you are having that cup of coffee, let yourself become immersed in that activity. That’s how you should live your life. It’s much more fulfilling and full of quality moments. Multitasking and being constantly distracted (look at that squirrel), is no way to live.
8 – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (or what we think are mistakes)
“It’s better to make a mistake with the full force of your being than to timidly avoid mistakes with a trembling spirit. Responsibility means recognizing both pleasure and price, action and consequence, then making a choice.”
Be decisive. If you want to go for something, then go for it without the fear of making a mistake. Don’t let the fear monger stop you from acting. Planning is obviously important because we want to make the best decision with the information we have, but don’t get paralysis by analysis. You will never have enough information to make the best decision, so go with what you have and be decisive. Act.
My philosophy – There are no mistakes. Everything is a learning/growing opportunity. Don’t fear or resist it; allow it to be. I have said it many times…there are no failures in life. Focus on what you can learn from everything instead of viewing each thing as good/bad, win/loss, or success/failure. Every path is the right path.
9 – There really is nothing to fear
Fear takes you out of the present moment and out of a state of peace. Be in the present moment as much as possible. It’s understandable that we fear things sometimes because that’s just how our brains have developed throughout our evolution. Fear doesn’t serve the same purpose as it once did. If you fail at something, you’re probably not going to die, so stop being scared of silly things. In the end, we all die, so what is there to fear? We’re all going to the same place. Enjoy life and don’t let fear hold you back. Would you rather be on your death bed thinking about all the things you didn’t do or would you rather be thinking about all the chances you took and obstacles you overcame?
10 – Take responsibility for your life
“It is better for you to take responsibility for your life as it is, instead of blaming others, or circumstances, for your predicament. As your eyes open, you’ll see that your state of health, happiness, and every circumstance of your life has been, in large part, arranged by you – consciously or unconsciously.”
Wow, I love that. Take responsibility for everything that happens in your life. Focus on what you can control and accept what’s outside of your control. You truly do become more aware when you take responsibility and stop the blame game. Once you become aware, changes begin to occur.
11 – Everything has a purpose
Everything has a purpose. It is up to you to find it. Behind all of your so called failures and bad experiences is a purpose. We are all part of something bigger, like cogs in a machine. We are just a tiny part in this machine and are not be aware of how it all works. Look back at a past event that have turned out to benefit you in some way. At the time, you thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen, but it helped you in some way. The next time life doesn’t go the way you want it, keep that in mind. You may not understand why it’s happening, but just allow it and accept it. Embrace it. Investigate why it happened and find out what you can learn from the experience.
Find your life purpose and do that. A warrior does what they love. A warrior does the thing they are put here to do. Devote your life to a higher purpose: service to others.
12 – Don’t waste your life away
“Wake up! If you knew for certain that you had a terminal illness – if you had precious little time left to make use of your life and consider who you are, you’d not waste time on self-indulgence or fear, lethargy or ambition.”
Tell yourself you only have one year left to live. What would you do? You wouldn’t waste your time on trivialities, that’s for sure! You would do something meaningful. Treat every new day as a gift. When you look at it like that, you will value your time a lot more. Make use of your time to the best of your ability.
13 – Allow your emotions to come and go
“You don’t need to control emotion,” he said. “Emotions are natural, like passing weather. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes sorrow or anger. Emotions are not the problem. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action.”
Embrace your emotions and allow them to be. Do not allow yourself to be controlled by your emotions. This is done by changing your relationship with them. Channel that emotional energy into something constructive. To make this easier, observe and pay attention to your emotions. And be aware, that just like thoughts, you are not your emotions. You are much, much more than that.
14 – Be happy now and accept what comes your way
“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!”
“Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”
There is nothing stopping you from being happy right now. Happiness is a mental construct, so why do people feel the need to look outside themselves for happiness? It’s not based on assets, achievement, or anything outside of yourself. Let go of all the concerns and troubling thoughts playing in your mind and just be. As Tony Horton says, do your best and forget the rest! I love the end of the quote. You are much more than just your body, brain, and spirit (or whatever). You are a piece of the entire universe. You are the universe. You may have heard, but every atom inside of your body was once part of a star. How mind blowing is that??
15 – Be willing to let things go
“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”
Everything is always changing. Things come and go. Accept that and your life will flow with the universe.
16 – We literally know nothing
“Where are you?”
“What do you mean, where am I?”
“Where Are you?” he repeated softly.
“Where is here?”
“In this office, in this gas station!” I was getting impatient with this game.
“Where is this gas station?”
“Where is Berkeley?”
“Where is California?”
“In the United States?”
“On a landmass, one of the continents in the Western Hemisphere. Socrates, I…”
“Where are the continents?
I sighed. “On the earth. Are we done yet?”
“Where is the earth?”
“In the solar system, third planet from the sun. The sun is a small star in the Milky Way galaxy, all right?”
“Where is the Milky Way?”
“Oh, brother, ” I sighed impatiently, rolling my eyes. “In the universe.” I sat back and crossed my arms with finality.
“And where,” Socrates smiled, “is the universe?”
“The universe is well, there are theories about how it’s shaped…”
“That’s not what I asked. Where is it?”
“I don’t know – how can I answer that?”
“That is the point. You cannot answer it, and you never will. There is no knowing about it. You are ignorant of where the universe is, and thus, where you are. In fact, you have no knowledge of where anything is or of what anything is or how is came to be. Life is a mystery.”
“My ignorance is based on this understanding. Your understanding is based on ignorance. This is why I am a humorous fool, and you are a serious jackass.”
“The world’s a puzzle; no need to make sense out of it.”
Life is a mystery! Nobody really knows anything when you really think about it. Our universe could be a brain cell inside of some alien being for all I know. Be a humorous fool!
17 – Be grateful for what you already have
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
A common theme in most of my posts because it’s so powerful. If you know this, great, but if you don’t practice it, it’s useless. Take the time to practice this exercise for a few minutes a day. Start small – what are three things you’re grateful for right now?