Overcoming Doubt with Mindfulness

By Andrew Fredette 

You will never create anything of value through doubt.

Ironically the further down a path of creativity or entrepreneurship you go, the more frequently you will have to face doubt. We might as well figure out how to intelligently deal with it.

It’s essential to our happiness that we critically examine our lives to make intelligent choices, but doubt is not critical examination. Doubt is the tendency to second guess, to create illusory obstacles for ourselves. It’s the habitual questioning of your worth, skills, and potential. Critical thinking is objective and clear- it doesn’t start with a negative assumption.

By seeing doubt for what it really is, you can absolutely abandon it. Doubt is a mental parasite you don’t need. It serves no purpose other than creating a personal crisis. An imaginary crisis is very fulfilling for the ego, but utterly useless in all other regards. Doubt and negativity of any form is an indulgence of the ego. Like Krispy Kremes and reality TV, it’s best not to indulge too often.

Abandoning doubt doesn’t mean that you won’t experience it anymore; it means that it no longer informs you. By accurately identifying doubt as a useless mental abstraction, you immediately liberate yourself from the need to respond to it… at least in theory. The actual practice of relinquishing the power of doubt requires mental awareness and ability to identify doubt as it occurs.

Practicing mindfulness is essential for pulling this off (A note from the editor: For an easy-to-read explanation of mindfulness and meditation, check out this article). Unless you are used to objectively examining your mind, it will be difficult to identify doubt without getting caught up in it. A mindful mind will quickly identify the pattern of doubt and ignore it. Untrained minds will get wrapped up in a cascade of negative thoughts. Mindfulness training is the antidote to the monkey mind’s feverish movement.

With this meta-awareness, there’s less inclination to take thoughts too seriously. The value of the pattern of thinking is considered rather than the content of individual thoughts themselves. This larger perspective is empowering and completely changes our relationship with the contents of our minds.

Mindfulness increases mental resilience. It diminishes the negative effects of doubt and makes us more effective people. Like all things, developing the ability to identify and detach yourself from doubt is a practice. It requires time and consistent effort. So while you’re developing your mental superpowers, remember to be gentle with yourself.

Meditation, meditation, meditation. The science of it’s benefits can’t be ignored. It’s a new year and there’s no better time to start a new goal. 10 mins in the morning and 10 mins in the evening will work wonders- especially if you’re on a creative path, or would like to begin one.

TL;DR: Doubt can and should be completely ignored. It is inevitable and a subjective way to look at the world. Practice mindfulness to get mental superpowers.

Andrew is a 27-year old meditation advocate, blogger, and entrepreneur living in Portland, OR. He’s voracious explorer of science, self-improvement, and philosophy. His writing can be found at www.revolutionme.net.

Getting Started with Long-Term Travel

By Shannon Bradford

How many times have you heard a wistful sigh along with “Man, I wish I could travel the world”? If I had a peso (or a boliviano, or a penny, or a rupee) for every time I heard this, I’d be rich in several countries. Several times over.

Usually upon further probing, it becomes evident that some people don’t know what they want out of their travels. They just want to do it. This is a great starting point, but doesn’t get the majority of people very far along the path of accomplishing long-term travel.

So what’s the deal? If you’re reading this and wanting to start long-term traveling but don’t know where to start or even how to go about it, I’m hoping to pose some questions that might get the metaphorical travel ball rolling right toward the airport.

What do you want out of it? Are you looking to travel as a way to have a vacation-like jaunt in an exotic locale, or do you want to sell your house (and maybe the kids) and get the hell out of dodge? Are you interested in dedicating yourself to a specific cause, or do you want to fling yourself into a tiny town somewhere and work as a bartender for the next year? Do you want to say goodbye to everything you’ve ever known, or just take a little break?

There are more ways to long-term travel than you can shake a hiking stick at, and traveling is a great way to pair disparate life goals, as well. Somebody who has always dreamt of starting a non-profit AND zip-lining through the jungle might find a nice little situation in the mountains of Costa Rica with an English Language School. Inclinations toward filming documentaries + a burning desire to travel the Silk Road = one helluva travel project. The list goes on and on.

There’s a lot of ideas that can set our pulse racing, and that’s one of the reasons we have a lifetime on this planet – plenty of time to do all the things! But in the meantime, for this trip, only you will know your personal limits and desires. How important is comfort and security to you? How important is planning and infrastructure? Do you want a goddamned adventure or do you want some pampering out of it?

There are a lot of in-between points too, so ruminate carefully on this one. Taking a hard look at this, and identifying bare-bone goals (versus what sounds enchanting from the pages of a blog or travel magazine), will really begin to help frame your next trip.

How much money do you have or can you get? Finances aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s important to be realistic about what you have in your bank account. Travel eats up money, and a lot of it. Even budget travel, while vastly more economical than typical tourism techniques, is going to eat a hole in your savings.

Furthermore, plenty of twenty-somethings that are considering the leap into the unknown find themselves strapped with student loans and credit card debt. Every situation is unique, so you’ll need to figure out what sort of savings are necessary in order to continue paying loans while traveling. If you have federal student loans, you can talk with them to lower the payment or even defer for a time. The ideal situation would involve zero debt – and therefore zero worries about payments—but long-term travel is still possible even with monthly payments back home. But when this is the case, preparation becomes paramount.

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Complete Immersion: How Learning to Scuba Dive Can Help Your Professional Life

by Nick Waterhouse

On my recent travels through Thailand I promised myself I’de take on a “No Saying No” attitude – but let’s be real – anyone who has been to Thailand is aware that saying “No” is necessary every once in a while (think Bangkok nightlife). Rather, my goal with this ‘try anything’ mindset was to overcome old fears and fight laziness.

Scuba diving was one of those old fears that it was time to face.

The lessons that I learned when becoming a certified diver have stuck with me and have helped me immensely in my personal and professional life. Here are the takeaways:

1) Don’t be afraid of classroom work

No matter what type of scuba certification you are interested in, classroom work is mandatory. At first, I dreaded this section and wanted to skip straight to swimming with whale sharks and starfish. Looking back, I realize how vitally important this classroom work was to my understanding of scuba. It may have even saved my life (more on that later).

As with anything, learning facilitates growth and sometimes a “learn as you go” philosophy is not enough to stay afloat in any endeavor (pun intended). There is a reason why all scuba certification requires this classroom time. It is essential in the learning process.  Being placed in a dedicated learning setting, free of distractions, I was able to quickly understand the technical side of diving before ever entering the water.

In my professional life, there are always new things to learn about industry, market, competitors or technology. This dedicated classroom time reminded me that learning about new things away from my typical work station can be a productive ‘break’ from my workday and can give me that competitive edge. Just like this portion of my scuba learning was done outside of the water and in a classroom, I realized learning should be done away from my desk and in a different, yet comfortable setting.

There are countless reputable (and cheap) videos and tutorials on just about any subject matter imaginable. Before you start that next project, take some time to learn about the subject matter the old-school way. Take notes, ask questions and test yourself. Who knows? This ‘classroom work’ could mean the difference between a failed campaign and that promotion you’ve been wanting.

2) Take things step-by-step

Tackling a new project always seems daunting in the beginning. Surely learning what a ‘BCD’ was and sizing my scuba mask seemed leagues away from swimming with schools of barracuda. To understand how to enjoy being 30ft+ underwater, I was forced to take the learning step-by-step and only focus on the current task at hand. I wasn’t able to start diving until I learned the ins-and-outs of all my equipment. There was a set series of steps that I had to follow in order to reach my end goal. By not being allowed (or allowing myself) to try things out of order, it was much easier to focus and excel in each small step of the process.

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To School or Not To School: A Tale of an Unconventional Path to Higher Education

by Nathan Walworth

For many adolescents in the United States, anything beyond high school may seem like a misconceived dream that inevitably develops into a student-loan nightmare. Save now and refrain from higher education, or get a degree and be enslaved to preemptive debt. The American dream is in quite a pickle.

Through this simple example, one can imagine the psychological trauma inflicted on many young minds across the country. Plus, educational goals inevitably narrow into aspirations to reduce future debt rather than to learn based on passion or values. This is not necessarily a question of good, bad, right, or wrong, but more of an acknowledgement of a subconscious bias towards learning as a direct product of indentured servitude to student-lending institutions.

This is just one version of one example among the countless situations different young Americans are facing. Some kids may not have the option of college. Some simply don’t care… and in a way, why should they?

A kid is a kid.

And as a kid, it is easy to stray from schooling unless education is easily accessible and promises a positive outcome. Great examples of appropriate accessibility of higher education can be found across Europe. If furthering education is your goal, cheaper (and sometimes more beneficial) alternatives to the conventional, American route do exist. I want to present my path as an example for others to see that nontraditional methods to furthering education are accessible… you just need to find them. To no other generation before has the world been so small, so why not see if we can treat it as such?

Like many discoveries, mine happened by accident. I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz pursuing a degree in Marine Biology, and among science majors, it is well known that a mere bachelor’s degree is not enough to make a decent living in our field. I already knew graduate school was necessary for my goals, but alas, the expense of continuing education seemed financially crippling.

During my final year at UC Santa Cruz, I was fortunate enough to study abroad at Lund University in Sweden. Here I learned that, at that time, any person from anywhere in the world could attend Swedish universities… for free! Importantly, before I applied to their Master’s program, I had to check if U.S. institutions would recognize my European degree as an equivalent to theirs. Fortunately, Lund University was more than qualified, ranking higher than most Universities in the U.S. I immediately messaged several of my Santa Cruz science peers of this opportunity and in that following year, several of us ended up attending the same program. And what a year it was.

Some of my most profound lessons came from outside the classroom. Within my department were students from all over the world who, like me, discovered the educational opportunities Sweden offered. Our coffee breaks were filled with philosophical conversations about why different nationalities have a different perception of life, helping teach me to work efficiently and cordially across borders. I had to convey both scientific and social ideas in a way that could be universally understood, irrespective of language and culture. I was able to access parts of my mind that may have remained dormant in the U.S. I emerged with a unique master’s degree virtually free of debt, setting me apart from many in my field.

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