Cultivate Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Cultivate Your Mind, Body, and Soul

I’ve been reflecting lately on this idea of mind, body and soul. If you cringed after reading that first sentence then I apologize. I get it. That phrase just seems to invoke a primal urge to ignore it. Because whenever somebody talks about mind, body, and soul then you can almost feel a pitch for veganism or yoga or something else you have no interest in coming right behind it.

Well, I’m not trying to pitch you anything. But I do think we should all take a moment to understand that we all have a mind, a body, and a soul and that each of these things has needs. And if we’re not meeting those needs then it’s going to cause us to suffer in one way or another.

Think of your mind, body, and soul each as a plant in its own garden. If you devote time and energy to cultivating the plant then it can grow and become what it’s meant to be. But if you ignore it then it will wilt and wither and weeds will take its place.

How well are you tending to your mind, body, and soul? Is it well-cultivated and flourishing or neglected and barely clinging to life?

How well are you tending to your mind, body, and soul? Is it well-cultivated and flourishing or neglected and barely clinging to life?

This is how it unfolds in reality as well. Your body requires nutrition and activity. You need to eat real food, healthy food and you need to exercise. Your body is a biological machine. It reacts to stimuli. If you are sedentary then it doesn’t work optimally. If your diet is processed junk and garbage then the body doesn’t have the ingredients it needs to make itself function properly.

Ever wonder why chronic disease only became common in the last generation? Before that there were no processed foods and people were way more active. Lo and behold, they didn’t get diabetes and heart disease and obesity like so many people do today.

The mind is no different than the body. It responds when you challenge it. This is why you should always be learning, always pursuing something difficult. It keeps the mind sharp and engaged.

Contrary to what many believe the mind wants to solve problems and learn new things and the body wants to work hard. This is the natural way of things. This is what the mind and body did for tens of thousands of generations. Only in the last two generations have we entered a phase of human development where you can allow the mind and body to atrophy and still survive to old age. But just because that’s an option doesn’t make it a good option.

Now the soul is a different story. It’s hard to define and there’s certainly no consensus as to what it is or if it’s even real. But I believe in the soul in my own way. And the soul, to me, is what pulls you towards your calling, towards your life’s work. That thing inside of you, that voice that says, “it’d be awesome if I could make a living doing this.” That’s your soul telling you what you’re supposed to be doing.

But we live in an age where there is a blueprint to living the “right” way. We’re all conformists by nature and it’s hard to forego society’s accepted path and forge your own. But it’s only when you are doing work that’s important to you that your soul can be satisfied. And most of us aren’t even close to pursuing our calling. And so we develop a longing inside of us that we can’t quite define. It just feels like something’s missing. It’s the feeling of a starving soul.

So every so often take a moment to reflect on the needs of your mind, body, and soul and address whether or not you’re meeting those needs. Because if your not then all the prescription meds in the world won’t solve your problems. Only you can cultivate your mind, body, and soul. And no amount of work or effort is too much in this pursuit. It’s the most worthy use of your time possible and the world would be a better place if more of us directed our energies into this self-cultivation.

Welcome to the thinker's apprentice

Welcome to the thinker's apprentice

The Thinker's Apprentice is a podcast dedicated to growth and self-development. 

I know and meet so many people with the desire to learn something new, to accomplish something difficult, to achieve something great, to simply be better, but they never execute. 

Too often (every single time) the resistance exists solely in the mind. I've watched from the sidelines for years before I couldn't stand it anymore. Watching people I care about stagnate started having a negative impact on me.

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Thus, The Thinkers Apprentice was born. The Thinker's Apprentice is my attempt to rectify the aforementioned situation. We all have that voice in the back of our minds that tells us what we could be, what we want to be. Call it our superhero self, our most ideal expression of who we are and what we can be. What keeps us from bringing this version of ourselves into the light? Our current selves.

A snake that can't shed its skin must perish. It's no different with a person. For you to become who you were meant to be requires you to grow as a human. To do this you must shed your current skin.

But I'm here to help. The Thinker's Apprentice Podcast was designed to help you along in this process. Every week we'll dive into an aspect of growth and self-development. I'll explain what it is, why it matters, and how you can exercise it to achieve growth.

To grow requires courage. You must walk to the shore of your comfort zone, jump in a canoe, and start rowing into the open ocean, the unknown. You're embarking on the Hero's Journey. I'll be your compass and together we'll become better.

Welcome to The Thinker's Apprentice.

Treat Life Like a Video Game and Level-Up

Treat Life Like a Video Game and Level-Up

When I talk about growth and try to explain a methodology for achieving growth I find myself referring back to this model time and again because it so easily and thoroughly explains the concepts I’m trying to communicate in a way that most everyone can understand instantly. 

I call it the RPG Model of Growth. 

It's not my invention and I lay no claim to it. It’s simply an effective metaphor that goes as follows:

In a role-playing video game you start the game with an avatar. This avatar is on level 1 and has many attributes such as health, stamina, power, strength, magic, healing, etc…

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In the beginning of the game your avatar is weak and vulnerable. They can’t face the big boss or they’ll be killed instantly. 

But they can fight the underlings and the henchmen and gain experience. The more baddies they fight the more experience they get. Soon your avatar levels up. All their attributes are increased and those baddies aren’t so bad anymore. 

But new baddies show up and they’re harder to beat, but they give you even more experience. 

This cycle goes on and on until you’re finally at the highest levels of the game. Now the enemies you first faced in the beginning of the game run from you and the one’s you faced in the middle of the game are easy to beat. Your attributes are maxed out and your avatar is ready for anything, including the final boss. You defeat him and the game is won. And you defeated him by leveling up.

While real life is somewhat different- unless magic is real and nobody told me yet- it can be treated the same way. 

You are your avatar of life. Your attributes are now things like discipline, belief, fortitude, resilience, grit, stamina, education, self-reliance, intuition, instinct, education, empathy, compassion, etc (you get the point).

These attributes are all at various levels from your experiences in life. But they are not static things. They can be leveled-up when you gain experience. 

Let’s use running as an easy example. If you’ve never run long distance you can consider yourself level zero. You can maybe run a mile or two and you’re winded and fatigued. But you stay consistent and keep doing it. 

After a few weeks you can run three or four miles and running one or two seems easy. Project that a few months and you can run eight miles and a three mile run feels like a rest day. You’re leveling up.

The physical examples are the easiest to explain, but the same model applies to those attributes I mentioned earlier. Your goals are the bosses you want to defeat. Landmarks along the way are the mini-bosses.

You gain experience everyday and make progress towards the finish. Then when the day finally comes your avatar’s stats are maxed out and you slay the boss and save the village- or you crush the interview and land the promotion- or you pound the pavement and finish a marathon. Congratulations, now onto the next boss.

Remember, you can’t beat the game overnight, and nothing worth having comes easy. But with the right mindset and a proper plan you can beat any boss out there.

So treat life like a video game and level-up!

Chapters

Chapters

If you look at your life like a book there are definitive chapters within it. You're born and chapter one begins. Each chapter is your identity in that phase of your life: who you are, what you believe, what's important to you. 

As a youth you are constantly starting new chapters because you're learning and growing everyday. You can't stay a kid forever so you have no choice but to move on. This is the natural way of things: change. Death and rebirth. To grow into a butterfly requires a metamorphosis that closes the chapter of the caterpillar's life. The caterpillar will never be again: death. The butterfly emerges and begins a new life in a new place: rebirth.

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But something happens with people once they become adults; many of them halt this process of continuous change. They settle on a static version of themselves and enter into a phase of decay, unbeknownst to them. I don't know exactly what causes this, but I think it's fear of change, which is synonymous with fear of the unknown. 

As a kid the changes just happen because the body and mind are actively developing and you just have to roll with the punches and weather the storm. As an adult you must make the changes yourself. You must end your own chapters and begin your next ones. And that means having the courage to step out of old habits and into new ones, the courage to say that's not who I am anymore. Fear of change, fear of judgment, fear of failure, they all weigh heavier on us as we age. The stakes seem higher, the consequences more grave. We are accustomed to things the way they are and we think that's good enough.

How often have you seen people miserable in their jobs, but too paralyzed by fear to do anything about it? They can rationalize all the reasons they stay and convince themselves they're making the right choice, but subconsciously they know it's a lie. They suffer every day and that permeates every aspect of their life. They're stuck in a chapter.

To live fully we must embrace change and accept its inevitability. We must be able to take chances and risks in order to grow. We must accept that fear is a natural part of living, but can't be allowed to dictate the terms of our lives. We must have the courage to start new chapters.