"To spend the full force of our energies advancing toward a Personal Freedom – the genuine life full of vibrancy and meaning – this shall be our aim."
I was wishing upon a star last night – the first star I saw in the deep blue sky. Do you know what I wished for? Maybe it’s the same as what you wish for; happiness for my family and friends – to live a meaningful life filled with great contribution and joy. I started wondering how do I teach them how to best achieve that. And it occurred to me that Brendon Burchard has summarized it nicely in his book The Motivation Manifesto. Instead of wishing for happiness, this book teaches us how to make it happen.
Do you want to live your best life; to make your greatest contribution to the world and experience the greatest joy possible? I sure do and I love books that offer me wisdom to make it happen.
While Brendon admits the work is hard and will require new levels of presence and control, he makes it easier by outlining nine declarations to make. Below are just three of the GEMs I took away. There are lots more.
9 declarations to personal freedom
"Without a vibrant awareness, we cannot connect with others or ourselves, nor can we meet the demands of the hour with grace."
Brendon exposes the truth. Too often we live randomly and accept mediocrity, keeping ourselves down. Without setting clear intentions and standards, we may miss the chance to achieve personal freedom. He says the quest for freedom is our main motivation in life. He is not referring just to political or religious freedom, but rather the freedom to express our true selves and pursue our dreams without restriction. The nine declarations to achieve this each have their own chapter. Here’s a summary:
- Meet life with full presence and power. Too often we are lost in the abyss or unawareness and miss the energy and blessings around us.
- Reclaim your agenda. A life of greater joy, power and satisfaction awaits those who design their days.
- Defeat your demons. We can become slaves to fear if we don’t know and manage our demons of doubt and delay.
- Advance with abandon. Remember we are the sum of action not just our intentions. We must not lose the urgency of the moment.
- Practice joy and gratitude. We must reexamine the attention we give to our attitude toward life and rekindle the magic in everyday moments.
- Do not break integrity. We must stay true and strong against temptation.
- Amplify love. The ultimate act of courage is when we stand emotionally open and give our hearts without expectation of reciprocity or fear of hurt.
- Inspire greatness. We can and must do better. Mediocrity and narcissism must not replace virtue, progress and selflessness.
- Slow time. Life is meant to be a growing mosaic of long, meaningful moments. Are you capturing them all or rushing to the next one?
Inspire greatness with 9 virtues
"This is what a virtuous world requires: candid people willing to hold high standards for themselves and others."
What are the virtues that create truly great people? Brendon outlines nine (I think he likes the number nine!) virtues for greatness that we must exemplify in ourselves and expect in those we care about:
- Honesty. We must be uncompromising with truth and expect the same from others.
- Responsibility. When we favor ease over duty, we begin a path to suffering.
- Intelligence. We must learn, explore, think critically and grow in wisdom and help others to do the same.
- Excellence. We must strive for the highest levels in everything we do.
- Courage. We must not let words substitute for effort.
- Respect for others. We must show tremendous respect to those we want to inspire and ask them to give the same respect back.
- Vigilance. We must focus on the things that matter and know what we’re doing, where we must do better and identify what stands in our way.
- Service. We must direct our talent, energy and knowledge to making a difference on one another’s lives.
- Unity. We must have and inspire in others tendencies toward tolerance, bonding and community.
The power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates it!
"Life can lose its vibrant aura and charm if we do not bend the energy of our minds toward positive engagement and appreciation…"
Everyone wants a vibrant and happy life. What do you think are the first steps to achieving it? Brendon suggests it is a simple formula but not always simple to maintain. Those who are joyous are simply more conscious and consistent in their attempts to sense and generate joy and gratitude.
Joyous people realize that life is a trying and exciting adventure. It is not the destination that matters as much as the passion and freedom felt along the way.
Joyous people are full of gratitude. Brendon reminds us that we may be suffering from a “sunburn on the soul – an excessive exposure to abundance that has led to indolence, greed, narcissism and entitlement.” When we remove ourselves from the incessant quest for getting more to the quest to give more, we free ourselves from the vanities of our abundant life and experience more joy.
Perhaps the question is not “Am I happy?” but rather “Am I generating happiness?” He makes an analogy to a power plant to bring this point home. The power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates it!
It may be hard to admit that if we are not happy it may just be that we don’t try hard or often enough.
Children are naturally joyous so let’s look at their habits. Curiosity, lack of expectations, pleasure in small things, engagement in the moment all add up to joy. What if we did these things? What if we were disciplined enough that they became our practice and art of living. Could it change our joy? You bet!
What would happen if you reminded yourself that your emotional state is a choice, merely a selection from the large buffet of feelings available at any moment? Which question do you think happy people ask themselves several times a day?
a) On a scale of 1 to 10, how much joy and gratitude am I experiencing in this moment?
b) On a scale of 1 to 10, how much joy and gratitude am I bringing to this moment?
Happy people use the second option. Note the importance of the word “bringing” instead of “experiencing”. There is power in that wording.
So my wish upon the star might have been better restated to how can I bring meaning, contribution and joy to my life and the lives of those I love. Brendon’s book is a great step forward in figuring that out. What one declaration will you make to create more joy in your life?