Struggling with finding happiness in life? Tune out to social media, skip the epitome of incomprehensible psycho-couch-babble and go spend time with a child.

For the last nine months of my life I have been staying in an AirBnB rental in the Maya Riviera of Mexico. It is a worthy setup most preferred and conducive to constantly meeting new and interesting people and personalities. Having a steady supply of fresh people from all over the world ensures there is never a time without someone to serve as a new teacher in my life. Life is a mirror, what we see in others we are ourselves. Sometimes that can be a prickly thorn of annoyance, a lesson on what we need to work on in ourselves, and at others a wondrous gift in disguise. As with living, it is our perspective that counts most.   

There is no doubt you will get knocked down in life, of that you can be assured. The question rather is whether or not you decide to get back up. The rosy glasses through which we choose to view the world ultimately determines the outcome. At each crossroad we face this dilemma as ever present. Otherwise, life is outside of your control – don’t take the drama play too seriously. Like water in a river, learn to go with the flow. How we decide to react to our circumstances sets the path to either suffering or growth. Not many on my journey thus far have willingly chose agony, so there is still hope for those in want.

It is not common but every once and a while an adult is accompanied by a child here at our complex.  One couple, she, Mexican, he, American, stayed here for a short period; only for the female to return later for another stay, but this time she was accompanied by her eight year-old daughter, Ivanka. She settled in as my neighbor and in due time we all became friends. The daughter was extremely timid and guarded at first, taking only but a few requisite princess and tea chat sessions and gifts of sweets to win her over. As her mother was often busy, Ivanka would have no choice but to roam about the courtyard.

Other than your own rug-rats or children of immediate family, whom you are too close to and also a part of their development, it is hard to see every child with “fresh” eyes. There are so many practical lessons missed as a result. How often do you intentionally go out of your way to spend time with adolescents, watching how they maneuver their instantaneous fabricated reality, observing their selfless actions and surprising reactions, conversing with them at their level about things that interest them, or simply being in awe and wonder at their inherent guiltless disposition on seeing the world as one massive funhouse?

Much time outside while having a refreshing tropical fruit juice, meditation or soaking up some sunrays was spent observing Ivanka at play. Without any electronics or applications to steal away her focused attention and stupefy her to the world and nature all about her, I was in utter amazement the creative ways she found to pass time and enjoy her odyssey of perusal. Nothing is off limits! Kids can give rise to their own worlds of boundless radiance as quickly as an adult worries about impending bills or any other pointless trivialities. Kids are busy conquering their latest dream milieu – and its innumerable iterations.   

One evening, as her mom talked on the phone, she occupied herself at the public courtyard table where I was enjoying a cup of newly acquired chai tea shipped from India. She was carrying with her two small dye-cutout red castles, a tiny plastic princess figurine and a large stuffed pink hippo named Oscar. She was in her own little sphere; nothing could take her attention away as she transmogrified herself into the beautifully adorned princess and subsequent scenes played out for my viewing delight. The princess liked to hide inside the castles, when not lazily lounging atop the neck of her best friend for life, Oscar.  

What a wonderful way to experience life, with not a worry in the world –  gratitude for everything – as it is meant to be – as seen through the irreproachable guilt-free eyes of luminous God-like purity. As is with the perfect divine order of the universe, to kids all things in sight are enchantingly inter-connected, infinitely interchangeable: everything is faultlessly synchronistic, according to their juvenile eyes. As adults we lose the ability to perpetuate the allure and excitement, reverence for the wonderment of the omnipresent supernatural, the omnipotent attendance forever surrounding us on this spinning hot rock.

When the myriad priceless royal scenarios ran dry, off she went frolicking in the rain puddles from an earlier downpour. Nothing mattered to her at that time, succumbed by the instantaneous consciousness of excitement and untold astonishment that aimlessly splashing about in water can illicit – she was living unknowingly in the present. She was experiencing her life in the now, without a care for any distractive foreign stimuli. In sports psychology this is referred to as ‘being in the zone.’ Children do not need to practice mindfulness, it comes preternaturally. They can find untold joy in the tedious hum-drum of life.

Soon after my respite, it was time to head off to the corner market to get some sugary foodstuffs for the evening. I asked Ivanka if she wanted to join me. She finds immense happiness in helping assist others in need. I barely had finished my question and she was already bursting with fiery elation. She insisted on unlocking our front gate and opening the heavy metal door for me to exit safely in my wheelchair. Once at the store, she was unwavering about wanting something sweet. She wasted no time in finding the most decadent chocolate and nut ice cream bar in the store – while grinning an ear-to-ear smile to boot.

She was over the moon that her neighbor not only bought her small delights each day but that he also took her to the store and gave her full consideration of choice over which treat(s) she received. As she was always so well behaved, she was never in lack of favor. She was overflowing with gratitude the whole walk home; replete with absolute authentic gratefulness. We give to others in life to bring them a smile but also because it makes us happy, even releasing feel-good chemical hormones in our brain – a type of a ‘mental-gasm.’ The more you assist others in life, the better you feel. Give it a whirl sometime.

Some other days we would just chat about her day or homework or dreams of the future. It goes wholly without saying her biggest dream is to be a princess, living in an enchanting castle.  In the middle of our conversations, as soon as something caught her attention, without haste or hesitation, hurriedly she would run off with a sparkle in her eye – most often to something small an adult would overlook – such as the blossom of a new flower, an unknown bug or an impending rain storm. Nothing is off limits to the imagination of children; mysterious and otherworldly creation is always at the forefront of contingency.

As adults we have lost our effervescent God-innocence, our admiration and fascination at everything our eyes see, the thrill of new smells and adventure of new tastes, the spectacular feeling of living in a world that truly is our playground – we have lost our ability to find pleasure in living life, in appreciating the small things, in not yearning for tomorrow – in our ability to live in the now. We are too busy living in the past (depression) and the future (anxiety). We have been trained like Pavlov’s dog, responding to the bell, under the choking societal confines and rules meant to keep you a caged and obedient robot.

Tat Tvam Asi – “thou art that” in Sanscrit – the relationship between the Absolute and the individual in Hinduism. You are me, and I am you – we are the same, one shared conscious – undefined indescribable mysterious energy: God. We are all in the same boat; when the water rises, all boats rise. Children live their lives God-like, only for the present moment, able to metamorphose no end of marvel and suspend judgment enough to find the divine touch in all things. Buddhists speak on the beginners mind, being a child that knows nothing, seeing the glory of God’s existence and creation enveloping us at all times.

Children are naturally aligned by love; they are born knowing no different. Children are a by-product of what they learn and mimic from parents and peers. Over time this view becomes adulterated with the stresses and responsibilities of living in a vessel – an ethereal body covered in a meat-draped costume, on a hot boulder of magma flying through space; in a life where happiness is incessantly chased but often eluded; in an era with more wealth and access to information in all of history, yet we do all we can to avoid from plumbing the intense chasmic ineradicable depths of our heart and soul to find our “self.”

The mind itself is incapable of answering the bigger esoteric questions of humanity – the riddles of the universe are unanswerable. Dr. Seus considered adults as “outdated children.” Life does not come with an open guide book. If it did, life would be boring: one would never face challenges or obstacles that impel him to find out who he is, essentially what he is made of, or his eventual primary purpose. Neither fruitless exoteric inquiry nor intellect is sufficient; it is only through probing inspection of the heart that one can attain inner peace, contentedness, happiness. Children, with minds still unmolded, innately live thru heart-conscious, spending everyday living by way of perpetual stimuli and emotions, not intellect.

For it is through the profound innocence of solipsism, being the center of the world, that allows for the exploration of the child by dint of interaction with their environment and others, concluding that he is not the world but a part of it – his own little person. Children have no natural inborn prejudices or set ideations of things, people and places – they are pure of heart. This allows them to see others through a prism of love, ultimately teaching them that the world is smiles and laughter. Over time this innocence of sight loses focus to living life and how we perceive it; the mundane daily responsibilities of adulthood.

We are indescribably complex spiritual beings of light, living out this flash of a lifetime in spirit school on earth. We are created in God’s image of pure light, an imperceptible invisible vibration of flawless love, but the farther we suppress the self through the busyness and stresses of everyday life, the multitude of contemptible vices, whether psychological, mental, social, chemical or other, at all times losing sight of the “I” behind the “I,” we corrupt our child’s mind  – which is perfectly illustrated by Sri R. Maharshi’s instruction: “Just Be” –  therefore inflating the egoic conscious, moreover reducing our supernal sub-conscious valve, and to a great extent constricting the consummate symbiosis, the indelible connection to the Absolute source, our higher-self, our not-self, our cosmic-conscious, our super-conscious, God.

The older we get the further removed we are from the feeling of being a child awestruck by our intense surroundings. We no longer see life as simple – we treat it too seriously. We forget that we are all actors in a play of cosmogenic proportions. As you move forward, forging an onerous course on the road less traveled, the eternal quest of illumination of the heart, consider once more being a kid again, finding your inner-child, discovering your inner-Christ, your inner-God-conscious. Finding the child within will evermore reignite your soul and help you find bewilderment in everything you see and experience in life. So what if people think you are strange – the enchanting star-filled possibilities are without limit.

It all starts with being a child. What are you waiting for? Go be a child again. Your Happy Meal awaits!

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BookUnbreakable Mind. (Print, Kindle, Audio)

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Using your Covid-19 time wisely; Hey everyone, look at me: The incessant need to be affirmed on social media.

In the Covid-19 world we currently find ourselves, there has never been a greater need for inter-personal communication. Today’s generation, born into the digital age, lack the ability to communicate with others person-to-person. The fact that social media plays such a big part in so many peoples’ lives only exacerbates the issue on a larger level. As a result of the current international health and economic crisis, social distancing and other counter measures, we find ourselves exceedingly separated from friends and loved ones, increasing isolation and anxiety.

With schedules in disarray, resulting in more time off, the amount of hours per day spent online has increased many-fold. Rather than take that spare time to read a book, take a walk in nature or spend time improving oneself through contemplation, it is wasted on frivolous empty activities, providing no value to our brains and souls. One of the gifts of this international crisis is solitude: time alone to explore within for direction; and to look without, through close friends and family, for answers. The need to fill our schedules with “busy” time pervades our thoughts, however.

Those who are whole and complete, who have done their work AKA “stuff” in life, fought their demons by embarking on a profound journey into the furthest annals of their being, only to find light, are handling this turning point with empathy and compassion. They understand the world is not fair, that they cannot control what happens in life, as that is out of their control, but they can be in control of their emotions – their reaction and attitude to life’s trials and tribulations. They understand the underpinning inter-connected essential elements of community, and the need to protect fellow mankind, regardless the level of their [professed and misguided] patriotism.

For those who are not complete, those who have not embarked on the intolerable voyage to better understand themselves, those still lacking inner content and resolve, they are pining for life to return to yesteryear. Aside from being separated from daily socialization with others, through measures implemented by governments worldwide, by banning people from social events and functions that would otherwise provide much obliged human communication, interaction and touch, whilst others suffer in silence, unable to access social services, there are no outlets for citizens to vent, they do not exist. It is left up to you to explore new ways to find well-being.

What issues and concerns existed prior to the catastrophe have only multiplied exponentially. Social media, normally an outlet for most to keep in touch with family and friends or post about their lives, has turned into the biggest self-psychology self-help platform in the world. Anytime anyone goes on social media they are bombarded with unreliable, poorly sourced information or fake news. Kind of like believing you are Frank Sinatra in your own shower – well, everyone on Facebook, newfound PhDs abound, are experts in everything from epidemiology to financial market fluctuations to political history to quantum physics. Geez, how did I ever go amiss?!

My favorites are the alleged ‘spiritual advisors’ of the Internet. They are in a stratosphere all their own, figuratively and literally. These ass-hats are as in need of therapy as much themselves as those they [attempt to] help, and certainly should not be doling out advice on life to anyone in want.  The Internet is replete with countless throngs of blind sheep searching for their shepherd. And there are no lack of shepherds to boot. Their specialty need of assurance is of an elite class, where few are chosen but many are self-ordained. In other words, the blind leading the blind!

There is nothing better than when one of these self-proclaimed ‘spiritual advisors’ openly advertises her sexuality to sell her message – the antithesis of being spiritual, by placing utter emphasis and excessive value on beauty, the shallow, vain and superficial. Somehow the “message” gets lost in the infinite inappropriate ogling of comments of pathetic men – probably the same group who randomly send gross dick-pics to unsuspecting [and shocked] women. If they were advertising VIP lounge champagne lap dances or comfort-bunny cuddle-services it would make sense. But they are not.

Good luck seeing your way through the labyrinth of personal hypocrisy and self-contradiction.

These same vapid types will also immediately and constantly reply to any comment you make on their narcissistic post, never missing an opportunity to “tag” someone, thus providing the ‘click-whirl,’ immediate gratification and confirmation modern society has come to reward. Whereas, if these ‘spiritual advisors’ had anything “spiritual” to offer, aforementioned notwithstanding, they would not be advertising their bodies and cheapening their message, a byproduct of the ‘hedonic treadmill,’ to solicit “likes” and comments – thus fueling the social media algorithms to the point of manipulating the news feed to keep their post reappearing – so long as they feed the machine.

And for those on the other side of the narcissism coin, those with an insatiable appetite, enough to fill a black hole, in a world where discipline and rigor are foreign, where the cheap and the shallow are de rigueur, whose use of social media as modern self-therapy, with an never-ending thirst for non-self-effacing daily attestation – everything from their new car, who by accident include the [luxury] make, to their kid’s every poop (we all defecate, by the way), to the ever-so-lovely forever updated profile photo, with every self-beautifying angle and trick straight from the photographer’s handbook – you are just as guilty in being abundantly devoid of self-awareness.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

— Aristotle

Let me suggest some other more constructive uses of your ever precious time: Perhaps you could better utilize this donation of newfound wonder, a gift in disguise, rather than spending your days filled with endless social media, by taking some time for silence – a moment to look deep within your inner-being, quiet the busyness of your day, eliminate the time thieves, and explore the cavernous vicissitudes of your soul – discovering who you are, why you are here, and what is your purpose in life. We are here on this earth to find meaning, and it is best found by listening to your heart. Satisfaction and happiness are two sure roads built on the backs of helping others.

Learn to take back control of your life; learn to appreciate the value of silence and introspection; learn the practicality and immense fathomless benefits of inward contemplative reflection.

There is good news: Your feelings of not being whole, not having walked your innermost journey – where your ‘stuff’ is identified and worked through – your emotional state of unease and unhappiness, and your quest to fill a vast bottomless depression has a solution: That time spent on social media, entreating to be affirmed and liked by others, is better spent by directing that same energy inward, by completing the pursuit in life slaying your dragon(s), commencing unraveling the onion called you, gaining a better understanding of the [inner] route to happiness.

We currently live in a culture of personality, where the superficial is elevated to emperor status, where we have replaced virtue with vice and integrity with sub-moral character, where we have elevated actors to hero status – no longer valuing the true heroes in our society: those who look deep within for answers, those who face insurmountable odds, those who play with the cards they are dealt (and do it well), and those who often fall down but get back up, even through affliction, struggle, suffering and disease. These are the heroes we need to reinstate in society.

The burning desire that others find interest in our lives, instead of discovering that same interest in and of ourselves on our own, creates a Jungian self-reflective mirror effect of our own self inadequacies unplumbed in the chasmic cleavage we call our self, perpetuating the inexhaustible cycle of unhappiness. No one can be sure what the results of this worldwide economic and health catastrophe ultimately will be, but rest assured we are experiencing drastic change never seen the likes of history. Change is uncomfortable; it does not come easily.  There is no way around Doing The Dirty Dishes of life; anything of value worth having takes hard work and sacrifice.

Buddhist proverb: No mud; no lotus. (Without dirt and fight there is no flower and beauty.)

You will not find such satisfaction on social media, nor will you find happiness through the need for incessant affirmation. Algorithmic social media feeds – specifically programmed, with psychology and addiction in mind, to show us more of what we want – guaranteeing we continually reinforce our ideas of the world, no matter how skewed or misinformed, always playing out to our own heartfelt capacious self-made and self-fulfilling narrative. Through their continuous psychological manipulation, you are drinking the cool-aid, questioning nothing, and allowing conspiracy theories to take root and gain credibility when false and unsubstantiated.

The irony of it is that these humbugs are going onto social media to tell others how to be whole and complete. Ladies and gentleman and clowns, it is like what is said of being a guru: If one calls oneself a guru, simply be definition they cannot be one. Same goes for those who purport to be self-assured on social media, and can show you how to do so too – they are incapable. A fruit tree that is not healthy cannot bear fruit. Therefore, how can a person who has not walked that path in life inform others how to proceed downward? They cannot. Only you can. And for free.

It is a dichotomous paradox so few can find their way out of yet. And this interminable self-contradiction is only worsened and compounded by those feeding their never contented egos under the guise of spiritual guidance. Time is the only commodity you can never recover, though often we find ourselves unceasingly wasting it, to our own detriment. Only once we face our traumas and make peace with our past can we begin to hope to find happiness and realize it is ours to gain or lose. It certainly will not come through social media affirmation. Look within – where you will find, abound with untold cosmic wanderlust –all that you seek is seeking you.

Quote of the day: “A man has as many social selves as there are distinctive groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups.” — William James

Travel Blog: Click here.

Spiritual Blog: Click here.

Book: Unbreakable Mind. (Print, Kindle, Audio)

Doing The Dirty Dishes Podcast: Watch or listen to episodes and subscribe: SpotifyApple PodcastBuzzsprout.  Also available on Google PodcastiHeartTunein, Amazon Alexa and Stitcher

Doing The Dirty Dishes YouTube channel – watch and subscribe.

Social Media linksTwitterInstagram and Linkedin.

Travel Blog links: Covid-19 stranded in NYC JFK and Maine – also travel stories on Ireland, Spain, SwedenBelgiumIcelandColombia (Espanol version), AmsterdamGermany, New HampshireTN and NYC.

Personal Website link where you can also find my bookphotos of my travels and updates on current projects.  

Thank you for your love and support.