Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lessons from the Pros - tactical baton



Have a look.  This video is from Lahnert Tactical and shows applications of the Bonowi EKA Camlock baton - a great piece of kit from a great maker.  All rights to the video are theirs. Check any and all related laws in your jurisdiction before choosing to carry a tactical baton or other weapon.

The principal in the video is a trainer for law enforcement and elite military in the use of the tactical baton.  There is obvious strong FMA flavor in his movements, and KM students should easily recognize some of the flow.  He applies concepts from Hubud, Sumbrada (5 count), and Doce Pares in his responses, and does so excellently.

Beyond this, some other things to note:

1) FOOTWORK
Look how he uses his footwork to create and keep distance, or to angle off the center line as needed.  Footwork is the cornerstone of effective technique and is just as important with baton/stick/cane as it is with any other weapon.  In the video, the principal either 1) closes to CQC range using the punyo or 2) opens to largo using the tip for striking.  Medium distance is only ever a transition point to 1) or 2).  Note how he uses the tip to push the attacker out into distance as needed.  This is a useful technique.

2) LIVE HAND
Note the use of the left hand for checking, parrying and control.  This "live hand" is a hallmark of good FMA.

3) CENTRIFUGAL FORCE
The stick is a centrifugal force impact weapon, with the centerpoint at the user's shoulder.  Thus, maximum power is derived from impact using the absolute outside of the circle's radius - in this case the tip of the weapon.  This is where acceleration is maximized in the swing and where the most impact force can be generated.

4) LOCKING
For locking, he is careful to use the leverage of the weapon against joints (wrist, elbow and neck). After disrupting the structure, he moves immediately into a finishing technique.  The lock is not the end - it is a transition to the finish, used to disrupt the attacker's structure.  Locking is not attempted until at least one hit has been made to weaken the attacker.

5) CLEARING AND ZONING
In the baton vs baton flow, note how the Principal clears the weapon away.  He zones the opponent's baton offline which opens the center for his own response, while keeping the attacker from recovering.  The initial block is DEFINITIVE, stopping the attacker in place for the follow up.

6) STRIKING TARGETS
When responding, he rarely targets the head or neck of his opponent.  Instead, he focuses attacks on the weapon arm and leg.  Except for a few knee hits, most of his responses are at the upper arm or thigh, where the attacker can be neutralized with only minimal possibility of lethal or permanent injury.  Even when the attacker has a knife, he does not resort to lethal force, which is commendable.  I highly recommend this muscle memory for everyone, law enforcement or not, for both ethical and legal reasons.

7) KEEP GOING
The idea of "one hit, one stop" sounds great on paper, but the best muscle memory is one that keeps us in motion and overwhelming the attacker until the situation is completely under control. Smoothly chaining together a flurry of strikes is a key component of what makes Kali the effective art it is, and drilling for this is very important.

8) VOICE
The Principal uses his voice to ensure the situation is resolved.  Voice is a key part of the psychology of control, and the best timing for this is when the initial adrenaline rush has been disrupted.  Proper use of the "command voice" can minimize having to use additional force to neutralize an attacker and prevent an attacker from continuing after the initial attempt.

What else can you learn from this?
Let me know if you saw something I didn't.

See you at class,

John

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Here Am I

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
-Isaiah 6:8

Those of you who know me know I am not Christian.
However, I have read the Christian Bible more than once cover to cover, and it has a few passages I really like.  The above is one of them.

The last time I heard this verse was in the movie "Fury", where one of the characters reads it from his Bible before they engage in the final battle - a battle from which none of them expect to survive.  It is said in the context of soldiers who have a sacred duty.

I like this verse because it speaks to me about our mission in the martial arts - who and how we aspire to be.  It is not enough to be strong.  It is not enough to have fighting prowess and mastery of weapons and techniques.  As WARRIORS we are called to something more --- we are called to a sacred duty.

The burden falls on us to volunteer in times of need.  Our training develops our warrior spirit and courage so that we will not hesitate when the moment of Truth is upon us.  We will stand tall and face whatever may come; we will defend ourselves and those we love.  We will stand up for the weak and the victims of aggression.  We will face the Bullies.  We will be the ones to be sent.  This is our duty.  Serving others is the essence of compassion.  We must transcend the self in order to truly feel CONNECTED.

Very often, success in life is dependent on raising our hands and volunteering.
It is not enough to be passive and wait for success to happen to you.  It won't.
Love will not find you unless you volunteer to take a chance.  Tell that person how you feel about them.  Only by risking rejection can you aspire to acceptance.

The hardest jobs often deliver the greatest reward, and our leaders appreciate those employees who do not back away from the challenges, but instead seek them out.  Doing this is not about shameless self-promotion.  Instead, it is about the quiet confidence that comes from ability and ambition.  We all want to win, and it is the most fun to win a game that is a real challenge against a worthy adversary.  Sometimes this is a sporting contest.  Sometimes this is a negotiation.  At the end, we want to give 100% and feel respect for our counterpart.  It is because of them that we have had to raise our skills higher and step up to give our best effort.

Our Kali Majapahit training is not just about our body.
Use the training to forge your willpower and determination.
Learn to focus your intensity on achieving your goals.
Build your confidence so you can be the one to step forward.
Believe in yourself and what you can do.

Put up your hand and be picked.  Stand up and let yourself be chosen.  Open your heart and free yourself to be loved.  Become who you are meant to be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jamming

(thanks for the inspiration Jeremy)
Kali is a very special and unique art.  What we aim to achieve is quite different from that of other arts.

We often talk about "FLOW" and this was one of the first concepts Punong Guro Fred Evrard shared with me that intrigued me and helped me get hooked on Kali Majapahit in 2008 - and I am still hooked.

From the beginning, a KM class is unlike a "typical" martial arts class.  We cover at least three different sub-systems in every session, including single or double stick, empty hands and/or knife, boxing or kickboxing.  Adding in warm-ups and stretches, cardio and cool-down makes every class very busy.  Even our two-hour sessions in KM Tokyo just seem to fly by.  Students who come from different backgrounds are challenged by the different skills we train in every class and how fast we change from one to another.
It's not just fun but very exciting.

We drill concepts and example techniques, but there are no Kata (forms) in kali (at least not in Kali Majapahit).  I see a lot of value in form-based styles like karate and kung fu for building discipline and muscle memory, as well as deeping the spiritual connection to the movement - "active meditation".  For some people, the stability and consistency of Kata is especially helpful and precious.  Kata-based arts have been shown to help learning disabled and behaviorally challenged children and adults such as those with autism, Asperger's and ADD/ADHD to help focus and control their bodies.

That being said, FMA in general (and KM in particular) usually avoid static kata training in favor of drills and technical application.  This can be a difficult adjustment initially, but in the long run offers the opportunity to find a new way of expression - JAMMING.

I use the example of jazz music since it seems to best fit the idea of FLOW as we think about it in Kali Majapahit.  Rather than rely on a strict set of technical responses, we train to be fully in the moment and to respond smoothly and effortlessly to whatever intention or action our opponent gives.  Until the situation is resolved, we transition from one distance to another, from one line to another, from one style to another without stopping to think - WE FLOW.

In jazz music, jamming is the same concept.  There is a basic story or beat, above which the musician expresses his or her sound.  The jazz player FLOWS in, around, under and through the baseline, exploring and finding each unique musical moment until the end.  It sounds amazing, but how do you learn o do that??

Drills
Drills, drills, drills.  For musicians it is long hours playing the scales in different keys and other variations on this simple theme.  To play well, we need to have the muscle memory of the basic notes of the instrument, just as we must do with our arms and legs, our elbows, our sticks and blades in FMA.  We drill the basic angles and basic blocks again and again until they become second nature.  We drill our footwork until it is intuitive.  We drill to improve our dexterity and agility.  A good guitarist will have fingered the basic chords tens of thousands of times and need not look that his or her fingers or hands to find the right strings and frets. This is a painful and tedious process, but there is nothing more necessary to jamming than this.  Be patient. Love your callouses.

Combinations and Phrasing
Later, we begin to chain some techniques together.  We add more hits to the drills, or change hand positions. We start to develop some simple multi-hit combinations, but these are generally given to us by our instructor. We start to learn how the body moves and how to "lead" or put techniques where the opponent will be (rather than where they currently are), setting up a series of events that take away the balance and structure and end the encounter.  Our teachers use these combinations to help illustrate the correct concepts and principles of how to move.  We learn about the distances, lines, angles, and how to use our body efficiently in sequence.  We gain experience in the different sub-systems and begin to understand their uniqueness.
This is an intermediate step.

In music, we begin to start playing simple songs, simple melodies, and learning some simple riffs we can use.
We still need to stick to the written pages and focus on drills, but hopefully our fingers begin to move more smoothly, chaining notes together a few at a time with less frequent pauses in between.

Improvisation
Improvising techniques is where we start to really leverage the hard work of beginner and intermediate.
Here we can begin to really problem-solve and explore specific situations and puzzles through more advanced drills.  Rather than being given a technical answer, we can focus on asking the right questions "where can I move?", "what if I did this?", "How can I put the opponent here/there?", "what if I lost my weapon now?", and so on.  Solving these problems is where we branch off from more traditional kata-based arts into the discovery zone that makes Kali so magical.  We are seeking and finding SOLUTIONS.

Secondly, we begin the process of mixing-and-matching between sub-systems that adds uniqueness and color to our developing flow.  We may start using Kali, and then transition to Hakka Kuntao or boxing or Muay Thai, and finish using Dumog (Filipino grappling) or takedowns and throws based on Judo/Jujitsu or Aikido.  Weapon movements begin to feel more similar to each other and we can start to relate one weapon (umbrella) to another (single stick).  The knowledge is finally coming together.

In music, we further embellish songs we have learned, adding in our own riffs and notes, changing the chords and blending the songs together to create a sound we like.  We freely explore the instrument and what it can do without limitation, and start to really revel in the freedom that comes from being able to play without stopping to read each note - making music sound the way we want it to.  We start to write some of our own songs or arrangements of other songs we like.  We are comfortable with our instrument in any style or situation.

Flow and Style
Once we can improvise a bit, the next phase is exploring all the possible combinations and fusion we can find.  This can easily last us the rest of our lives.  Although our kali chessboard is finite, the possible combinations of what we have learned are endless.  Our training has given us sets of techniques, as well as a deep perspective on the human body, different ways of motion, psychology, nutrition and health, spirituality and awareness.  We can begin to respond without stopping to consider beforehand which techniques or sub-systems to use.  Responses start to just HAPPEN and to do so in a way that is consistent with our own individual natures.

The most beautiful jazz improvisation is an unstructured, free-flowing conversation between the musicians.
It's MAGIC.  You really see masters of the craft EXPRESSING themselves through their instruments - 100% here and now in each musical moment.  To me, it is the highest level of musicianship and the most worthy goal of any aspiring player.  It is truly FREE.

The End Result
I encourage all of our students to train with as many different Guros and Kasamas as possible.  Every one of us has gone through the above progression, and learned to leverage all that we know to develop our own flow.  Each instructor knows the same basics and the same techniques, but we all add our unique flavor to our FLOW and seeing us will help you find your own voice one day.  You may never have our flow, but you will definitely have your own, and it will be beautiful and unique to you.

Trust the Training.
Be patient.
Love your callouses.
Never give up.
JAM like a champion.

See you at class.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Flowing the Tree

(thanks for the inspiration Paul M)

It's not my fault.  Really.  My dear friend Paul asked me about Kali Majapahit.  Usually, the first few hours are my most animated explanations, but I could literally go on FOREVER talking about Kali Majapahit, how much I love it, and how unique it is.

To keep other people from falling asleep, I try to explain in a way that will resonate with each person, especially if they are not martial artists.

Paul is a physicist by background, so science/maths is a great medium to try to explain what we do.  Here goes...


When I walked into Kali Majapahit (at that time Ni Tien Martial Arts) in Singapore, I was AMAZED.
Guro Fred moved like no one I had ever seen (and still does).  He was (is) like a predatory jungle cat - graceful, powerful, lethal: 100% martial and 100% art.  However, it wasn't just how he moved, it was also how he spoke.

I remember it like yesterday...  Katulong Guro Vince (at that time not even a Kasama yet, now one of our best and most experienced instructors) punched.  Hard.  Guro Fred slipped outside effortlessly.  Guro Fred was looking at ME the whole time.  He wasn't even looking at the punch. He said "this time I will choose an outside solution."  He spoke not of "techniques" or "katas" but of "solutions".  I was intrigued.

Later, I would discover that we classify solutions by several categorizations.  One is by our position in space relative to our opponent: inside/outside/split.  Also, defining a solution as high line, medium line or low line.  Finally, through our distance: close (corto), medium (medio) or long (largo) distance.  We can also classify solutions by the subsystem we express (or the weapon type we use).  This includes Kali (panantukan/sikaran, dumog), Silat, JKD, Muay Thai, Hakka/kun tao and more.  Regarding weapon types we have single/double stick (impact weapons), edged weapons (long/short/karambit), axe/tomahawk, staff or spear (bankaw), flexible weapons such as sarongs and scarves, and many, many more.

Classifying our solutions creates a framework for learning, much like a chessboard, and so too the combination of solutions are infinite.  All of the above variations give us an endless array of options from which we can express ourselves.

So...what to do??

I added the binomial tree above as one idea to consider.  Each moment in time or action point represents a step in the binomial tree: action/reaction.  Each action opens the door to the next step in the sequence of events from left to right.  At the end, the opponent is incapacitated (hopefully without injury) and the fight is over.  Skill in fighting, using this example, can be defined as:

  • Flowing from left to right seamlessly without stopping, adjusting for each action/reaction by moving to the next stage of the binomial tree without hesitation
  • Choosing the highest percentage movements at each stage of the tree, so that our chance of success gets increasingly larger and our opponent's gets increasingly smaller at each step of the tree until the opponent can no longer continue
  • Limiting the opponent's response at each stage by "feeding" or "drawing" a conditioned and expected response from them which yields the result we want and can exploit

Of course, every fight is unpredictable and there are always unforeseeable elements.  The goal of the training is to develop and enhance the ability to KEEP MOVING, to FLOW with the changes as they happen and be neither constrained nor restricted in our responses.  When we express Kali Majapahit, it should be the truth of our own spirit which shines through --- relaxed; without fear, without panic, without anger - calm, confident. Completely in the moment until the encounter is over and we are safe.

I remain just as fascinated and intrigued by Kali Majapahit today as I was when I started 7 years ago.  I love the art and introducing people to it, because I know they will find a lifetime of exploration and adventure, just as I have.

See you at class.  


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dragons versus Unicorns

Dragons versus unicorns.

No, this is not some episode of Final Fantasy XVIII, Pokemon, Game of Thrones or other TV show/video game.

In this case, I am referring to a situation which often occurs when people begin to discuss religion/spirituality: namely, that each side begins to argue about hypotheses or pedantic minutiae which cannot actually be proved or disproved or which is in fact utterly irrelevant to deriving value from the basic ideas.  Thus, it is the equivalent of two people arguing over which would win a fight: dragon or unicorn, neither of which can actually be proven to even exist outside of the fantasy of imagination (nb: Komodo dragons are only called "dragons" because they are large lizards.  They do not breathe fire and cannot fly, which everybody knows all real dragons can do).

A common one is the Christian "one God versus 3 Gods" question.  In Christianity, God is usually thought of as a singular deity, but also as the Holy Trinity of God the Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit).  Heated arguments happen between various Christian groups about the nature of God in each of these three forms, and whole branches of Christian religions differ based on what specific ideas they espouse.  Sadly, none of these ideas can actually be proved or disproved (at least not by any living human beings that could credibly resolve the argument).

All religions have some symbolism inherent in them as part of their Gnostic traditions.  This includes the Christian cross, the Jewish Star, The Muslim Scimitar, The Buddhist lotus flower and so on.
These symbols are core to those belief systems and an integral part of their worship in sacred ceremonies.  At the same time, to the extent that these distract the believer from gaining the benefit of the belief, I think they are at best misguided and at worst deliberately false and incendiary.  Using the Christian cross as an example, in Catholicism, the cross is always shown as a crucifix with Jesus on it (I assume to emphasize that Jesus suffered and died for our sins). By contrast, in the Lutheran (reform) Christian tradition, the cross is NEVER shown with Jesus on it, presumably to emphasize his arising from the tomb and triumph over death.  Which is correct?  How can we ever know?  While I can accept that there is a certain philosophical merit in discussing these interpretations, is there any practical value to be gained in arguing over them?  Fighting over them?  Killing and dying over them??  I suppose it would be just as nonsensical for two people to come to blows over whether dragons or unicorns are more powerful than the other.

I have yet to find an organized religion that does not include social harmony as one of its core tenets - the responsibility of believers to get along with each other.  For nearly all of them, harming others is allowed only under very specific circumstances, and killing is generally frowned up except in cases where the tribe is under direct attack.  Not signalling out Christians here specifically, but "thou shalt not kill" is a simple 4 word command, pretty clearly spelled out, and not really open to much interpretation. There is no "except..." clause.  Nearly every other religion is the same.

Still, however, man manages to engineer seemingly endless reasons for killing each other, religion being history's greatest excuse to murder people.

Using my example above, it is my sincere hope that Dragon lovers and Unicorn lovers (and all other fantasy fans) can come together and appreciate each others' beliefs, each cheering for their own favorite mythical creature - but not at the expense of another's.  We are all equally entitled to believe in what we want to, so long as it does not harm others.  Respect is key.

Then again, maybe everyone has got more important things to do than argue about imaginary stuff, right?

Martial arts is rife with the same problem.  Many so-called "masters" talk about "Ki" or "Chi" as if it were some mystical magical genie power that makes otherwise superhuman feats possible. Their goal is to appear special and persuade students that they can achieve some voodoo magic through choosing them as a teacher, focusing on esoteric topics at the expense of good, practical training.  The reality is that martial arts training is the most natural training there is, explainable through science (mostly physics, math and some chemistry, with a sprinkle of psychology).  Listening to two masters talk about how many different aura colors there are (which neither one could see) was about as boring as watching paint dry.  Listening to two "grand masters" argue over whose 11th degree black better was more "legitimate" than the others was even worse.

It is time to focus on what brings us together rather than what keeps us apart.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Reflections on My KM Journey

I can still remember giving my very first class (and that student is still training with me - you know who you are!)  I was very scared.  I wondered if I would be good enough, or if I could answer all the questions they would have.  I felt very nervous and I hoped it wouldn't show too much.  It was hard to accept that I would stand out in front of the class and lead them.  I didn't feel ready yet.

At the same time, I was excited for the chance to keep on training.  I LOVED Kali Majapahit (still do!) and wanted nothing more than to just share it with everyone (yup, still do!).  It went OK, not great just OK, but luckily students can be a pretty forgiving lot, and people stuck with me.  I have tried hard to improve since then.  Thanks for staying with me.

5 years (and a few ITA sessions in Singapore) later and we have a GREAT group in Japan.  Not a good group, a GREAT GROUP.  At the core are some students (now Kasamas, mostly) who have trained with me for a few years, as well as a bunch of younger students making their way through the ranks one step at a time.  I love who they are as growing kalista.  I love each new discovery they reach - that moment when things start coming together and it starts to make sense, the puzzle pieces falling into place.

At the same time, I love watching my kasamas teach.  I love when they explain something so perfectly, with energy and passion, hitting all the right key points that make it work.  I can remember when they were first learning it - now they are ready to pass it on.  When my brothers and sisters from overseas come to visit I am proud to show them our Kali Family.  I am proud when we attend seminars together and people comment how good our kalista are, not just as fighters, but as PEOPLE.  We are a family that truly support each other and are there to help each other grow and learn.  I feel so incredibly lucky to have a group like this to call home.

There have been many times when our class was the main thing that kept me going.  Through a lot of tough personal times, Fridays were always "Our Time" to be together and something I looked forward to each week, sometimes the only thing I looked forward to.  As much as I gave to everyone, they gave to me.  They stayed committed to their training, and I knew I couldn't let them down.  I had to give 100% every class because they always deserve my absolute best.  Now we have even grown enough to have classes on Tuesday too, so twice I week I can do what I love most.

Every year brings new developments in Kali Majapahit.  We are doing so much more than we were when I joined.  I love the tradition, and the fellowship of my other instructors around the world, as well as our many brothers and sisters in so many countries.  I wish I could see them all more.  Many of our family have chosen to go beyond just a metaphorical warrior journey and embark on a real "warrior quest" around the world, just like Guro Fred and Guro Lila did so long ago.  I am jealous.  Respect to you for going all-in on your dreams.

When I reflect on my KM Journey, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction. It has been such a tremendous benefit to me and the others in my life.  I am always grateful to my KM Family, especially Guro Fred and Guro Lila, for giving me the keys to make such a happy life for myself, and for creating something so good I have to share it with everyone I can.  Thank you for getting me involved and for keeping me involved.  Thank you for putting together something we can use to make the world a better place.  I truly believe our curriculum is the very best, and has so many fantastic keys to personal development.  I hope everyone can get a chance to try it and see.

To all my brothers and sisters in KM, thank you for being part of this global family.  I hope you will keep spreading the message and keep on going to achieve all the goals you set - every time. Recognize that you are part of something very, very special - something precious.  Treasure it and pass it on to the people you love most.  Make it your own.  Make every class matter.  Keep growing and never stop.  Become an instructor and pass it on.

To my fellow instructors, thanks for inspiring me and for giving 100% inside of class and out just like I do.  We are bound together by our common experience, and you are my heroes.  I can't wait to see you again.  You are always welcome with us in Japan.

Warm regards,

John

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What will I grow up to be Mummy ??????

(thanks for the inspiration Asif Rahman)

"What will I grow up to be Mummy?"

This is a very important question - in fact, it is almost the most important question we can ask.  We live in an age where each generation is being forced to ask (and answer) this question earlier than their parents.  The generally accepted answer to this question (directly or indirectly) is "SUCCESSFUL".


We carefully select the most highly-trained babysitters and give our babies DHA and other supplements to boost brain development, we send our children Montessori and later to elite nursery schools, after school "enrichment" including math, science, art, music (especially piano), and hire expensive tutors to boost their academic performance.  We become smart but we fail to become wise.  We can develop skills, but can we truly be "successful"?  Do we even know what that means?


Television programs, commercials, movies and magazines subconsciously push us to seek unrealistic standards of wealth, power and beauty, and to despair when we don't achieve them. This leads to depression, apathy, and a loss of direction or sense of purpose for many young people.  The emphasis on material, tangible, conspicuous consumption, often at the expense of real defining experiences, encourages us to think that success can be bought and need not necessarily be earned.  Our "successful" parents spent a disproportionate amount of time working, and still less than we do, and less than our children might do (if we are not careful).

Where did we go astray?

I am father to two boys, one already a teenager.

We have been frugal with them, at the same time trying to make sure they did not suffer just to develop "virtue" or "character".  What do I want from them?  What would success for them mean to me (as their father)?  What do I want them to grow up to be??  I have thought about this a lot over the years, and this helped me answer Asif's post when he put it on Facebook.

I want my boys to grow up to be HAPPY.


Not more than this, but also, very importantly, not less than this.


When I say "happy" what do I mean?  Happiness comes in many forms, and I am not simply talking about the delirious, carefree happiness we feel just being silly and laughing for no reason (although sometimes this is essential).  Happiness can also be found by achieving goals we set that we feel are important to us, or also very importantly, by helping others to be safe and happy.  Happiness can come from the satisfaction of investing in ourselves and the people around us, investing in relationships that will stand the test of time and support us when we are in need.  Happiness comes from being confident in ourselves and our abilities, but also from setting our own goals and not just achieving for the sake of other peoples' opinions of us.


happiness comes from learning to listen to the Inner Voice, the voice of our eternal soul, which helps us to discover our purpose in this incarnation, and to continue our spiritual journey - not specific to any "textbook" religion.  Our souls are above that, just as our souls are above seeing each other as flesh and blood (beautiful or ugly, or with different skin color).  The soul sees only the soul - pure and true, all of us on the same journey.  We may go so far as to say we are happiest when our soul is in balance and at peace, following the path it must follow to evolve and progress. 


I intentionally leave some aspects such as career, place of residence, wealth/social status out of my definition.  We have a need for basic comforts, safety and security, and I do not think we all need to be Zen monks (although some of us need to be because our soul tells us so).


While the above are good guidelines, happiness can only come from knowing ourselves fully. That means investing the time in experiences, good and bad, that help us define what is best for us.  We will make mistakes, many mistakes along the way - the key is to stay focused on learning and growing physically, mentally, spiritually.  The sad truth is that we can probably be happier with far less possessions than we have.  Less is truly more, and simplicity has its own reward.


As I mention above, while we should all aspire to be happy and expend our maximum effort to define for ourselves what and how that needs to be, it is equally important to make a promise to ourselves not to settle for anything less than happiness.  Being happy, in the forms I describe above, is enough and we do not need more.  At the same time, far too many people settle for less than happiness.  Less than happiness in their careers, their homes, their partners, their families, their friends.  Accepting less than happiness is a terrible compromise that contributes to our own suffering and that of those around us.  We must start by knowing, truly KNOWING, that we have worth as human beings, and that we DESERVE TO BE HAPPY as we define it.  It is our right as a living creature, no different from that of any other living creature.  It is important to expect the best from ourselves, so that we can develop a habit of excellence in what we do, and allow ourselves the happiness of satisfaction which comes from achieving our best and growing to do and be more than we were.  Please don't settle for less than happiness.  You deserve it.


It is never too late to grow up - especially if you choose to grow up to be happy.