What if you could Jedi-Mind trick yourself into living a better life and not taking things for granted?
Would you like to bring back that childlike wonder which comes from not knowing everything about the world?
I’m here to tell you, it’s possible.
When I was 6 years old my mother committed suicide.
This left my father to raise me and my 3 year old twin brother/sister on his own. My dad was a Navy man; always in and out for weeks then deploying for months at a time. He needed a caretaker so we went to live with my grandmother.
She was a strict woman who lived through the great depression.
As I grew up she instilled discipline, a ‘never quit‘ work ethic, and appreciation of the smallest things. It’s the appreciation aspect I’m writing about in this piece.
Losing my mother and not having a father around combined with the instruction from my grandmother created a man who has learned to truly immerse in and appreciate each moment.
In 2015 I was introduced to Stoicism and Stoicism introduced me to Negative Visualizations. Negative Visualizations was a mental tool that I’d naturally developed, but learning it had a name enabled me to relay the message a little more clearly to others as well as understanding myself much better.
I’d built a survival mechanism to remove people from my life, just so it wouldn’t hurt as bad as having my mother ripped from me the way she was. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and because of that, I share this “mind-hack” with you.
I start every morning by waking up and taking a moment to think on and inventory my life.
I do this through performing negative visualizations immediately after waking up. I visualize that my wife and kids die on this day. I let the pain fully wash over me, I feel it in my heart, my mind, and my entire ‘self’. Then, I slowly bring them back, I dial my mind in and remind myself that my wife is next to me, breathing softly, beautiful as ever.
I remind myself that my kids are asleep in their beds, innocent, pure, and alive.
I get out of bed, do the morning routine, and before I leave I always tell my wife and kids that I love them, because I do and I’m aware of how lucky I am to still have them in my life.
Kissing your child’s forehead means more when you know it could be the last time.
I appreciate each moment with them more because I’ve made myself feel the pain of losing their presence in my life.
Life is not guaranteed, yet people live as though they have all the time in the world.
In my post Intentional Discomfort I wrote about removing comforts from your life so you truly appreciate them. Warm water, your phone, your bed, etc.
It isn’t practical to ‘remove your wife and kids‘ so you have to do it through a sort of “thought experiment”.
Remove them in your mind, remove their smells, their smiles, their voices and laughs, all of them.
Immerse in the void you create in your heart, soak in the abyss and feel the pain.
Now, bring them back to life.
Tell me that this doesn’t make you smile just a little bit more when you see them. Tell me that it doesn’t make you want to put the phone down and get on the floor with your kid and play.
We’re so caught up in the hustle of modern living that we are getting distracted from what matters most, the time we have with those we love.
This goes beyond family; I perform negative visualizations with every day life. I’ve visualized being doxxed, I’ve visualized getting fired, I’ve visualized crashing my Jeep, etc.
This prepares me for the moment when something does happen I’m not caught off guard, unable to cope or perform.
I’ll have a rough game plan as to what I need to do because I’ve already played it out in my mind.
Don’t get it twisted, I don’t mope around all day thinking of terrible things that could happen. I’ve just recognized that you should periodically immerse in a shitty scenario and ensure you’ve got the fortitude to not only handle it but rather come out on top.
I love my children to death, but if they were to die I’ll know I gave them everything and that I was in all of our moments together.
I’ll go to my deathbed without regret because I make sure I appreciate the moments I have with those I love. I Hang my Polaroids and I prepare myself mentally to react to the chaos that we call life.
The ancient Stoics had it right, if you’d like to read more on Stoicism here are my recommendations:
The Enchiridion: Epictetus (Shortened version of Discourses)
A Guide to the Good Life: William Braxton Irvine
The Obstacle is the Way: Ryan Holiday
I’ve read all of these books and each one has added a new skill to my ‘mental toolbox’.
We need to remind ourselves that we need to be as equally strong in our mind as we are in our body.
Developing this mental strength requires training, and negative visualizations are one such exercise which will lead to a stronger, more fortified masculine mind.
Take Action and Take Care,
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