“Framework – an essential supporting structure of a building, vehicle, or object”
In my case I would change the word “object” in the above definition to “my life” (e.g., Framework – “an essential supporting structure for my life”). This post is about three frameworks I use to provide a structure to giving my life meaning and definition, and methods to remain resilient and focused. They are analogous to building a supporting structure to keep a building functional, sturdy, and having structural integrity. I prefer the word framework over belief or philosophy, since a framework provides structure.
Why a framework or structure? Well for those that have lived a fair amount of life, comes the realization that life can be difficult and challenging at times. It is during these times that having a supporting structure helps us to weather these storms, just like strong foundations can provide the support for a building experiencing significant storms or natural disasters. Our beliefs can help to deal with these times, but a framework gives us a structure to resort to, so that we have things to do in chaotic times.
I am not suggesting that the 3 frameworks I use should be your frameworks, but that you should have frameworks to be resilient when facing difficult times. I hope that at least the discussion here results in you considering what your support structure looks like. Does your support provide structure, a framework, provide you with beliefs, philosophy, AND steps to take? It is the last item that I found missing and critical to helping with my resilience and focus.
FRAMEWORK # 1. STOICISM
A philosophy designed to make us more resilient, happier, more virtuous and more wise–and as a result, better people, better parents and better professionals.HTTPS://DAILYSTOIC.COM/WHAT-IS-STOICISM-A-DEFINITION-3-STOIC-EXERCISES-TO-GET-YOU-STARTED/
A brief introduction from the resource noted above. “Stoicism is a tool in the pursuit of self-mastery, perseverance, and wisdom: something one uses to live a great life, rather than some esoteric field of academic inquiry. Certainly, many of history’s great minds not only understood Stoicism for what it truly is, they sought it out: George Washington, Walt Whitman, Frederick the Great, Eugène Delacroix, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, Matthew Arnold, Ambrose Bierce, Theodore Roosevelt, William Alexander Percy, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Each read, studied, quoted, or admired the Stoics. The ancient Stoics themselves were no slouches. The names you encounter on this site in our daily email meditations—Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca—belonged to, respectively, a Roman emperor, a former slave who triumphed to become an influential lecturer and friend of the emperor Hadrian, and a famous playwright and political adviser.”
View the following video which will be debriefed in short below.
Mantra # 1. Amor Fate – Love Fate. The Practice of Loving Everything That Happens – not just accepting it, not just tolerating it, but leaning into it.
When you are stuck in traffic, criticized on Twitter or by your boss, experience a financial loss, or even the death of a loved one, you recite “Amor Fate“, that I will be better for this happening to me. It serves as a reminder that life happens, you do not control what happens to you or around you, and that life can be very challenging at times. As you look back at the challenges you have had in the past, you realize that you have made it through these challenges, and may even be a better and/or stronger person as a result. You take what you can from these experiences. You use it as fuel. You become improved by it. It turns the bad things in life into good things.
My teenage years and young adult life was challenging, incredibly challenging, experiencing high levels of abuse and trauma as a child, struggling in personal relationships, losing my mother at age 14, acting out in anger and frustration, and so on. It was easy to claim that I was a victim, but this did not resolve my own issues, it only justified them. The pain and suffering I experienced for years, decades, after this traumatic period, was intense. My brother committed suicide from his own exposure to these times. I thought about ending my own life at times. I share this with the hope that you may realize that you can overcome your challenges too!!
Through counseling & therapy, with a major emphasis on my personal growth, I began to self-correct my life, along with my self-esteem and worth. I made a conscious choice to be a “victim no more” and to take charge of my life. This attitude, which was under my control to follow or not, was the basis for my recovery, resilience, inner strength, belief system, etc. Years later I realized the positives that came from a very troubled past, yes that is correct, positives from such negativity. It helped me to become the person I am today, along with my ability, and desire, to help others who had gone through similar experiences in their own life. I had achieved Amore Fate!
Mantra # 2. Memento Mori – Remember You Will Die. “You go through Shit. You go through Trouble.” It is the way of life. Someone cheats on you, betrays you, steals from you, lies to you, gets what you deserved, backstabs you, criticizes you, berates you. You feel a wide range of negative emotions and may even use these experiences to shape the beliefs of who and what you are (e.g., unworthy, fearful, angry, depressed, etc.). Or, you learn to respond with something like, “Life is short, I am going to die, so why should I take any of this seriously, let it weigh on you, create further stress, or even hold on to it. When you become rich and famous, achieve a million Instagram followers, get nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, get a call from the President, you remember that you can’t take any of this with you, just as the billions of others who had great experiences who are now dead, just as you will be. Say to the good and bad things in life that we will die, so that the good things will be accepted without arrogance, and to let the bad things go so not to let them get the better of you.
The mantra, Memento Mori, reminds us that we will grow old and die. That we will be just another marker in a cemetery. As morbid as this may sound, I have found that it brings much greater meaning to the moment, no matter what I am experiencing in this moment. I humbly accept the honors, or set aside the accusations, realizing that this will all be a moment we had in this life. It will also be a reminder to appreciate the moments we do have, while we have them. As I am getting older, I am realizing the benefit of this mantra and find myself repeating it more often. It also suggests a key question, is this where I want to be spending my moment?
Mantra # 3. You Control How You Play. “Play” is how you choose to perform, be, or act. No matter what you do, what your level is, how much you earn, whether you are a pro or novice, others will be there to criticize you, to tell you what to do, to bully you, to provide you with excuses, or to pull you down. Often these factors cause us to perform under our potential. We are influenced by what others say and think about us. We cannot control what others say, but what we do have in our control, is how we choose to play, whatever it is we are doing. In the video he shares his example of sharing this message with professional athletes. It is learning how to disregard what others say and making the choice to perform to our full potential. Athletes are bombarded with social media who loves us when we perform well and hates us when we do not. But it should not be what others think that drive our performance. This is the power of this mantra, a reminder that we each control how well we perform.
All you control is how you play, the effort you bring, the decisions you make, the principles by which you operate and that’s ultimately all you can judge yourself on. You don’t control the facts, you don’t control anything but how you played. Focus on what you control and you’ll be happier and have way more energy, have more focus on what is in front of us and accomplish this. Focus on what we are responsible for doing, and do it.
The internal power that is generated by these matras and philosophy is to strengthen our mental conditioning, so that we learn to disregard what others say, and only judge ourselves by our own actions.
FRAMEWORK # 2. GRATITUDE
One of the exercises my therapist gave to me was to begin each day identifying simple things I was thankful for. I had to ask for examples since when she asked me “Michael, what are you thankful for?” I came up blank. I was too angry with my life’s situation to be thankful for anything. She provided me with some examples such as, being thankful to for my health, the ability to use all of my five senses, to breath quality air, sunshine, etc. My first response was that these are too basic )-:
Despite my resistance I began to put it into practice. She suggested that I recite the “basic” things I am grateful for and then consider others. My homework was to come up with at least one new item each day and that I had to share these with her during my session. It was not long before I had a good list of items that I recited each morning. I was starting to realize that no matter how difficult my life was at the time, there is always aspects of my life that I can be grateful for. By identifying and reciting these I could learn how to focus on some positives about my life vs. being consumed by the negatives.
It took a while but I began to feel the benefits. I downloaded a Gratitude app which provided me with a fun way to begin my day. What I was realizing was that focusing on what we are grateful for at the beginning of each day, helps to set a more positive tone for the day, particularly when you are going through a difficult time.
Negativity begets negativity. Misery loves company. This is compounded by the negativity we experience during our day, the commute and traffic, being bombarded by negative news and events on the daily news, etc. The result is that we become more negative ourselves, which results in unhappiness, anger, sadness, depression. The simple act of reminding ourselves what we are thankful for can put a dent in this frustration and unhappiness, and begin to turn around our thoughts.
Our thoughts are like a freight train out of control. They tend to run amuck and focus on what is in our ego. If we have been hurt, our ego is hurt, which will continually remind us with negative and fearful thoughts that seem impossible to sideline. To attempt to stop these thoughts only leads to more frustration since the thoughts become stronger, which is what the ego does. Instead we learn to override these thoughts with more positive thoughts. Repeating this daily, along with meditation, which slows down our thoughts, can generate greater levels of peace that supports more positive thoughts.
I challenge each of you to listen to the following video. The perspective of the wise old man is absolutely amazing. Frankly it has also helped me deal with the fact that I am getting older. Practicing gratitude also aligns well with the principles of Stoicism. They both provide a mental framework for dealing with life’s challenges while maintaining a more positive outlook. I can attest to the increase in my overall happiness which is always welcome and wonderful to feel. Check it out and monitor how you feel while listening. Beware that your ego and thoughts will attempt to remind you of why you should feel angry, hurt, depressed or sad. Your daily practice is how you place greater focus on the positives vs. the negatives.
FRAMEWORK # 3. ABRAHAM HICKS
Based on my deep interest in learning about the meaning of life I discovered beliefs, concepts, philosophies, and more, that challenged the heck out of me. My quest to understand life, death, and what lies beyond has been an integral part of my life since my early thirties. It began as a result of my past trauma and understanding why I had to experience so much pain and suffering. It resulted initially in a decision to hang up a great job in Corporate America for a backpack where I spend the better part of 4 years backpacking and volunteering around the world. I left on what I referred to as a “Modern Day Vision Quest.” Here is a link to a video of one of my online talks which is over 2 hours.
One of the many outcomes from this was opening my mind to new ideas. I realized why these experiences are often referred to as “mind-blowing” because the do blow away preconceived notions, paradigms, and beliefs. The story of Abraham will likely challenge you, but for those with an open mind, along with listening to her talks, may put a dent in your armor. If not, that is okay too since I am not trying to convince you to use this practice. You must find your own way.
The premise, in my own words, is that since we are emotional beings, our ability to raise our level of energy, emotion, and thought, opens the door to manifesting our desires and dreams.
We come to realize that we are our own worst enemy as we focus on the negative, concerns, issues, distractions that only serve to reduce our energy or vibration levels, which prevent us from opening the door so that more positive experiences can lead us to our greatest desires and dreams. She provides a structure using 5 levels which can challenge the heck out of us. Although the idea of manifesting great things sounds awesome, it is the idea of doing the work to remaining positive and feeling good that has been most helpful to me to-date.
I listen and re-listen to Abraham Hicks videos daily to remind and challenge me to find ways to feel better, which is also characteristic of Stoicism and Gratitude.
What helped me to be open to Abraham and other “spiritual” concepts was my Modern Day Vision Quest which confirmed to me that there indeed is meaning to life, and that life continues beyond our death of our physical being. I wish that everyone would make such a quest (not meaning that one has to do what I did), but that we come to understand death and what lies beyond. Some may subscribe to religious beliefs or pursue their own path which is what I did. I had to prove it first before I would accept the notion of life after death. We are a death-averse culture where we choose to avoid the topic of death even though we will all experience it (Memento Mori).
We raise our vibration or energy by focusing on a benign topic. What we come to learn is that negativity begins with a thought that we give more and more focus to, with the result that we feel terrible, angry, upset or depressed. The thought gains our energy and becomes harder and harder to stop. Instead we focus on something that is neutral, such as a color or pencil. We ask ourselves, what do we like about the color yellow or a pencil? This thought is distracting us and results on slowing the momentum of our negative thoughts. A meditation or nap can also be used to work back to a neutral setting. Then we begin to affirm positive aspects of self such as, “I feel frisky”, “I am excitable” and keep saying these to ourselves as we raise our vibration or energy.
She shares several tools that help with this. My favorite visualization relates to the tuner on a radio. The station that we really like to listen to is on a certain frequency, but we find that we have locked in on a frequency that plays depressing music. We visualize changing our frequency to hear more positive thoughts, and then recite these thoughts to ourselves. Repetition is key for any and all of these techniques to be successful. You must commit!
I hope that this discussion inspired you in some small way to find a structure in your life to deal with the challenges that life introduces, and ultimately results in greater levels of happiness and satisfaction. If you are interested in discussing this further or hosting talks on the topics of Personal Growth, Self-Discovery & Enlightenment, contact Michael at email@example.com
Michael is an author, speaker, facilitator and coach on the topics of Personal Growth & Self-Discovery (Check out “Discovering Michael: An Inspirational Guide to Personal Growth & Self-Discovery”) and Leadership (check out my book on Leadership, “Leadership From The Inside Out: Building Your Leadership Foundation” which focuses on the personal growth needed to be an authentic and highly effective leader that accepts the responsibility to lead vs. tell). Visit my website for more information growhumanpotential.com including links to my YouTube Channel, “The Ripple Effect”, Podcasts and more. You can contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org (Note that my website is currently undergoing a transformation and will likely be ready in August, 2023).