ARE YOU LIVING SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” - Steve Jobs

photograph: Monica Funes

photograph: Monica Funes

We all want to find our destiny; but how do we know when we have strayed from the true path we are meant to be on?

Each of us is born with our own talents and gifts and strengths—unique energies that need an outlet. What is right for one person will not be right for others. So how do we know if we have lost our way?

Well, apparently, there are some tell-tale signs.

1. We’re a holic.

Are you drinking too much, eating too much, perhaps even training too hard or working too hard? When our lives are out of balance, they veer towards our greatest weakness. If you’re doing anything in excess, then you know you’re off track.

Being a workaholic is a great excuse for most of us; we can tell ourselves we’re getting somewhere but we’re actually keeping ourselves too busy to notice the real issues. It’s a sure sign that we’ve buried ourselves in things that seem important to hide from the things that really are.

2. Everything is going wrong.

It’s a strange thing about life, but when we’re heading in the right direction, we always get the inside track. Everything flows. Life seems so easy.

But step off the path and even the little things will go wrong; we drop our cellphone in the ornamental fountain; the stoplights are always red; we get parking tickets.

Is it just one thing after another? Maybe life is not out to get us.

Perhaps life is trying to warn us.

3. We are always getting sick.

Our body is an extension of our thoughts, especially our subconscious ones. If we’re getting sick all the time, it could be our innermost self trying to tell us that we have lost your way. (This is one of the last signs, so try to catch your thoughts and feelings before they get to your physical cells.)

4. The house is too tidy.

Or maybe just too cluttered. Either way there is no balance; it looks compulsively neat or like the morning after an orgy at a frat house. Extremes are an extremely bad sign. Take a look around. What is your apartment saying to you?

5. We don’t want to think about it.

Because we might not like the answers we come up with. Are we in the right job? Should we leave our current relationship, because it’s not really that fulfilling? If we habitually avoid such questions because they make us feel uncomfortable then we are likely way off track. Most often we are afraid of the answers, because they could lead us to tough choices we don’t want to make.

Why? Well, that’s the sixth sign.

6. We are afraid of being afraid.

We’re afraid to end our current relationship because we think there might not be anything better—even though this one is pretty ordinary; we won’t leave our dead end job to chase down our dream because we’re afraid of failing. It takes real courage to change.

We are all afraid of change, of uncertainty. What if our inner voice asks us to turn our whole life upside down? So we make ourselves as busy as possible, so we never have time on our own when we may have to listen to what our spirit is telling us.

7. We feel comfortable.

Comfort zones are not always pleasant places to be; they are just familiar. Our comfort zone may be a job that pays the bills to keep us in a life that we hate; it may be a relationship that is going nowhere but is too safe to leave; it may be physical place, a hometown that we won’t leave because of family and friends even though our dreams won’t ever happen if we stay.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. If we never feel uncomfortable, that’s not a good sign. Life is a journey, not a destination.

8. We are afraid to let go.

Letting go is the hardest part of moving forward. Barnacles hold on to what is safe and disdain the current; but they never choose where they are going to end up.

The past provides us with excuses for failure, so there is always a powerful incentive to hold on. It can also mean that we may have to forgive someone in order to let go, perhaps even forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But do it for us, not for them.

So if you’ve lost the way, how do you find your way back?

They say the most important thing is not doing, but listening.

Take time out to listen to yourself. Shut down the clutter. The best guide you have is what is inside you. If you have a gnawing feeling in your gut that you have lost your way, listen to it. It doesn’t matter if what it tells you seems illogical, or if other people will disapprove. This is your life, and you’re the only one who knows if you are living it.

Listen to the inner voice, that nagging feeling in your gut that tells you you’re on the wrong path. And when it speaks to you don’t judge, don’t say that’s impossible, don’t say my family will never let me do that — just be curious about what is there.

Ask yourself – are you living the way you choose – or are you living someone else’s life, someone you really don’t know?

As Steve Job says, time is limited. It’s the one thing that doesn’t appreciate over time and the one thing no one is making more of. You don’t have time to wander off into the woods. If you have any of these signs, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to check in with yourself.

And if it means taking a path less traveled by, then do it. It could be what life has been trying to tell you to do all along.

SeizeTheDay(5)

 

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This post originally appeared on LIFEHACK as ’8 Signs you’re not Following your True Path.’

CB Valencia croppedCOLIN FALCONER

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Undress you, and come now to bed

468px-ShakespeareI am currently writing a series about Shakespeare. He drove me crazy at school, so there’s a certain irony to this.

Back then, when I was in my green blazer, it was like someone in 2414 studying the history of hip hop. Yeah, so Jay-Z and someone shot some do-nothing called Tupac.

So where’s the relevance to my life?

Generations of schoolkids hate him, but once Shakespeare was cool. A little known fact: he added around 1500 words and phrases to the English language.

As the average vocabulary has been estimated at around 50,000 words, to have one man, now long dead, accounting for 3% of every word you currently know and understand – well, that’s not bad.

ShakespeareMonument_croppedIt seems that when he was stuck for a word, Will didn’t reach for the thesaurus – there wasn’t one – so he made up his own.

It was like rap, without all the motherfucking swearing. Back in the day, it was so cool to quote Shakespeare that the words slipped into the language as easy as phat, jiggy, bling and twerking

But instead of coming from different sources they came from just one man.

It was like Tarantino alone being responsible for mankini, muffin top, OMG, woot and sexting.

Shakespeare pioneered the art of adding prefixes to common words to make completely new ones: archvillain (Timon of Athens),  dishearten (King Henry V), and uncomfortable (Romeo and Juliet), along with inaudible, indistinguishable, and inauspicious.

He was also first with this: “Madam, undress you and come now to bed.” – The Taming of the Shrew

Now there’s a prefix no guy should be without.

Or he’d add a suffix: men had only been courting women for twenty years before The Merchant of Venice when Shakespeare gave it a name – courtship.

376px-Title_page_William_Shakespeare's_First_Folio_1623He made new adjectives like ‘gloomy’ (Titus Andronicus) from the verb ‘to gloom.’ We don’t gloom anymore but Shakespeare’s word has survived.

Or there’s ‘laughable’  (The Merchant of Venice) from the verb ‘to laugh’;  ‘majestic’  (The Tempest) from ‘majesty’ and ‘lonely’ (Coriolanus) – until Shakespeare people had only ever been alone.

Shakespeare had Latin beaten into him at school, and he used his hard won knowledge to make new words like ‘radiance’, (from radiantem meaning ‘beaming’ – King Lear);  ‘generous’ (from generosus meaning ‘of noble birth’ – first used in Hamlet); frugal (from frugi meaning ‘worthy, honest’ in Much Ado About Nothing) and ‘critical’ (from the Latin ‘criticus’ which referred to a literary critic – in Othello.)

He also plundered Dutch to create the word ‘rant’ (from the Dutch ‘randten’ meaning ‘to talk foolishly’) – ‘I’ll rant as well as thou,’ in Hamlet.

And he used his knowledge of Italian to invent the word ‘zany’ ( from the Italian ‘zani’ which came from ‘Zanni,’ a version of the name Giovanni).

‘Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany’ – Love’s Labour’s Lost

483px-Macbeth_consulting_the_Vision_of_the_Armed_HeadHis unsurpassed powers of imagery gave us ‘hot-blooded’, (King Lear) and cold-blooded, (King John)  as well as ‘barefaced,’ ‘baseless’ and ‘watchdog’.

And none of us hopeless romantics could wear ‘our hearts on our sleeves’ until Iago articulated it in Othello in 1604.

Some other words you might not know originated with Shakespeare:

Alligator

Auspicious

Bedazzled

Belongings

Castigate

Dwindle

Epileptic

Eyeball

Hurry

Multitudinous

Sanctimonious

It’s an extraordinary contribution; but no, contrary to popular belief, he didn’t invent the word: to google.

That was Francis Bacon.

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A GREAT WEEK FOR THE YEAR WE SEIZED THE DAY

This month CoolGus released THE YEAR WE SEIZED THE DAY here in the US and last week it got into the top 100 on Amazon.

It’s a book I co-authored with my great friend, Elizabeth Best, about our journey along the Camino in Spain. It’s my only non fiction book. The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia called it “… a remarkable, painful, illuminating and inspiring book …”

We like to think so.

Here’s an excerpt:

Day 27, Pereje to Alto do Poío

Getting the hell out of Purgatory

SeizeTheDay(5)I don’t want to do this anymore. I could have happily quit on the second day. This journey has not been what I had anticipated. But I made a promise to El, and for reasons of her own, my presence seems to be important to her. We’re the Two Musketeers, all for one and one for both. The one thing that I am sure of is my physical endurance; I can do this now that my feet are healing. If not for anything else but for Eli.

My tenderness for her grows; this long, complicated, blistered, feisty bugger of a woman. I want her to go all the way and I want to be there to see that she does. It has stunned and amazed me that we still have a relationship after my behavior these last few weeks, my outburst in León.

She has seen the very worst of me, and seen me broken. Yet still she seems to see something worthwhile in me, without the mask and the control games. What that is I cannot begin to understand. It is the first time in my life I have let any woman see me defenceless and her acceptance of my failings has changed my view of the world somehow.

We leave Purgatory along the highway, walking cold and stiff like zombies. And here’s a sight first thing in the morning: a man wearing a Petzl headlamp, two ski poles, Raybans, knee-high hiking socks folded twice, fluoro cycle shorts and a backpack the size of a baby’s fist. The Obsessive Compulsive on pilgrimage. I feel shabby and overdone groping along in the dark with my homemade walking stick and a backpack that looks like I have Brazil in it.

The silhouette of the mountains looms from the fog like the interlocking paws of a giant cat. Eli lopes ahead; she has a new walking stick, and she is twisting it from side to side and over her head. She thinks I can’t see her in the dark, but now she stands revealed: Elizabeth Best, at heart, is a frustrated cheerleader.

At first light she stops to lean against a wall and rips off her sock.

Three viruses as yet unknown to medical science spill all over the stone wall.

‘Doesn’t look good, El.’

She pops one of her blisters and we are greeted by my mother’s favourite dessert when I was a kid—custard with raspberry jelly.

‘Think you got a real problem there, Eli.’

‘Fuuuuuck,’ she murmurs, which just about sums it up.

Privately, I still don’t think she’ll make it. Especially now. The closer we get, the more her body protests. The psychological blow may be terminal. It looks so wretched and wrong, I don’t even crack a joke to try to cheer her up. After so many physical setbacks already, I wonder if this might be the last straw.

‘She’ll be right,’ Eli says, splashing on a ridiculous amount of both Betadine and Mercurochrome.

Some pilgrims overtaking us think the Mercurochrome is running blood and pass out on the road. Eli puts her sock back on, flicks the real excess blood on the stone wall until her socks are dryish, and straightens her backpack.

‘Ready Freddy?’ she says with a brave if unconvincing grin.

And we take off back up the mountain.

We start to climb the cobblestoned lanes that look like green tunnels.

Cabbages the size of small trees spill over slate walls, international flags hang above a street redolent with cow dung. A woodshed leans drunkenly against a wall, wooden balconies, minutes from collapsing into the street, sag from stone houses. The rush of a stream drowns out every sound. You can smell river peat and mould and cold. It looks as I imagine it did five hundred years ago, except for the white plastic chairs and the San Miguel umbrella that sits outside a hovel not unlike Shrek’s outhouse.

Around a corner we stumble on an ivy covered cottage with bright pink stucco and brand new aluminum windows. Next door their neighbors live in a barn that almost fell down a hundred years ago.

‘You could make a mint here,’ Eli says, sounding like Bill Hunter in Muriel’s Wedding. ‘Rich Spaniards are buying these places up for weekenders, they’re right on the Camino, and the Camino’s been here a thousand years, it’s not going anywhere, and if a pilgrim dies on your doorstep the value goes through the roof! I reckon you and me should invest in one.’

All the villages smell of manure and shit drips through the streets. We are crowded and shepherded by stone walls, howled at by dogs. Strangers in a ripe land. A woman steps out from behind a pile of cow shit and offers us a steaming pancake, throwing the towel aside from the plate like a conjurer producing a rabbit. A man on a donkey squeezes us against a wall. He has a battery sitting on his lap to power the cattle prod in his right hand. Clouds billow up from the valley to meet us.

And we hear cowbells; we have not heard the sound of cowbells since the Pyrenees. I see a cow licking another cow’s head while she munches contentedly on the grass. I feel a pang of loneliness. This is what I miss about being single again: not just having my head licked, but feeling such affection from someone else that I’d want to lick theirs back.

‘Eli, will you lick my head?’

‘What?’

‘Lick my head. Will you?’

‘Col, you’re scaring me again.’

We come out of a leafy green tunnel at the foot of the mountain, loping up the ascent like mountain goats. It is again a shock to realise how fit we are. We have been walking nearly a month now, and most of these people have been walking just two days.

Suddenly there are signs for Santiago by the side of the road every five hundred metres. Just two hundred and five kilometres left. A long way now from the wooded dales of Roncesvalles. The pilgrims who started in Ponferrada seem to think just getting here is a long way. We lope past them like Ethiopian long distance runners lapping the wild card entry from Papua New Guinea in the Olympics.

The pilgrims are a whole different breed. They are predominantly Spaniards who know the local terrain and have back-up. Some families even hire a bus to take them from village to village so they can get a stamp from the local albergue for their Compostela. They bus most of it. So much for struggle and self reflection.

The guide book told us before we left that you could not be thrown out of an albergue, that no one would ever turn away a pilgrim. ‘They’ were wrong! Hosteleros will dismiss you like you are a homeless walking up to reception at Fox News and asking for small change. Their lips curl, their noses twitch. You’re not Spanish. So you walked six hundred and fifty-odd kilometres to get here? Tell someone who gives a merda.

By the time we leave the pig farm, we are exhausted. The water at Purgatory made me sick and we can barely stand by the time we get to the top of the next mountain. The albergue is full there as well. Full of fucking cyclists, which really rubs salt into the wound. We do what every self respecting Australian would do in an emergency: we go to the bar in the local hotel.

SeizeTheDay(5)

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EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS OR YOUR DREAMS? YOU CHOOSE.

Here’s a question for you: if you had the choice, would you take your dreams – or would you take eight million dollars?

USCurrency_Federal_ReserveThis is how it began: many years ago, a friend of mine, John, started an advertising company from scratch. A month later he came round and asked me if I’d join him. He needed a copywriter. At the time I hadn’t had a thing published – I was young, untried.

‘I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable taking your money,’ I said.

He looked at me as if I’d gone crazy. ‘I said I needed a copywriter,’ he said. ‘I didn’t say I’d PAY you.’

It was too good an offer to refuse.

Our offices were three upstairs room in a dilapidated building that leaked badly in the winter. We once had a piece of the ceiling fall on a client during a presentation.  After that we only pitched when it wasn’t raining.

But John was unbelievable at getting new business and I wasn’t too bad at writing copy and the company took off.  After a while we even started paying ourselves a wage.

But this was John’s dream, not mine. I wanted to be a novelist; I had set my heart on it. About a year and a half later I told John that I was leaving to pursue my dream on the other side of the country.

He generously offered me a partnership in the fledgling outfit if I stayed. ‘You can have forty per cent,’ he said.

I didn’t even hesitate. I said thank you, but no thank you.

Drug_Money_and_weapons_seized_by_the_Mexican_Police_and_the_DEA_2007Many years later, I was on a flight to New York to see my agent and, sleepless over Seattle, I got talking to the guy next to me. We told each other our life stories and he asked me if I ever found out what happened to my friend’s advertising agency.

‘Yeah he sold it 20 years later.’

‘How much for?’

‘Twenty million dollars,’ I said.

He stared at me aghast. ‘That means you would have got … eight million dollars.’

‘And that was just the media arm.’

It was like my mother had just died. He even patted me on the arm. ‘Jeez, I’m sorry,’ he said.

‘What for?’

‘You could be retired and rich.’

Well, yeah, I could be. But here’s the strange thing; I have no regretted that decision. Not once.

Because I got my dream. I’ve published over forty books. I’ve sold novels in more than twenty different languages. I’ve had runaway bestsellers in Australia, Germany and Mexico and Eastern Europe. Research has led me to diving with sharks off Gansbaai, dodging tear gas in La Paz, chasing witches across Mexico, running with bulls in Pamplona.

I’ve had an absolute blast. Regrets? You have to be kidding me.

But have I got eight million dollars? Not even close.

But my friend on the plane couldn’t get over it. He shook his head right the way to the eastern seaboard. ‘Eight million!’

It made me think: if I’d had a crystal ball when John offered me the 40%, if I knew then what I know now … what would I have done? I knew the decision would have still been the same.

Would not have hesitated for a moment.

Done the same thing.

But not everyone sees it that way. A lot of people, like the guy on the plane, hear the story and think I am crazy.

But if I’d stayed, I tell them, I would have had to live in one city. I would have worked for The Man, even though the Man was my mate. I would have given up on my dream.

Yes, I would be retired rich right now, probably sitting on a sun lounger in Fiji drinking something with an umbrella in it. (No, strike that – it would still be a bourbon.)

Yet right now I am enjoying writing more than I have in my whole life. I just signed a contract to work with one of my all time heroes. In July I’m headed to East Africa for research. I’m still having a blast. I actually don’t want it to stop.

But yes, I agree, I am still working.

What would you have done if you had a crystal ball … if you had a choice between eight million dollars and a dream, what do you think you would do?

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Opium, James Clavell, The Godfather

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Tomorrow I’m giving away five copies of LOVE IS DANGEROUS II to 5 of my subscribers.

Are you on the list yet?

LoveIsDangerous_Volume_II

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CB Valencia croppedCOLIN FALCONER

 

 

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WHY STAR WARS IS BAD FOR YOUR KIDS

No, Star Wars is not bad for your kids because (*** spoiler alert ***) they don’t want to believe Daddy could ever turn out to be Darth Vader in disguise.

It’s because of what it tells your little princess – and your little Luke – about gender roles.

Now it seems Hollywood never had this problem 75 years ago. For all the emancipation we’ve had since The Wizard of Oz, movies have been trending down when it comes to encouraging healthy attitudes to manhood – and womanhood.

So what do you think?

If you’re a writer – do any of your books pass the Bechdel test? And if you’re a parent – what did your kid learn from the movie they watched last night?

Don’t miss a post! You can subscribe to my blog at the top of the page.

Even better, make sure you’re on the mailing list for my newsletter!

Just for joining, I’ll send you a copy of my best selling eBook, ‘OPIUM’ !

Opium, James Clavell, The Godfather

Every month I give away free books and let you know about new releases and new offers.

TO SUBSCRIBE, JUST CLICK HERE!

CB Valencia croppedCOLIN FALCONER

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There is no catch like Catch-22

low res image claimed under fair use

low res image claimed under fair use

Heller’s opus Catch-22, is often mentioned in the same breath as Joyce’s Ulysses, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, or Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby.

But unlike those novels it also added a word to the English lexicon – ‘Catch 22′, the law that says you can’t win, no matter what you do.

I was 17 when I first read Catch-22.

My initial reaction was this.

teenager-boy-eyes-moving-animated Continue reading

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WHY KISSING IS GOOD FOR YOU

Kissing is good for you.

785px-Rock_Hudson_-_Julie_AndrewsCould it be true? There’s so many things we love, from chocolate to chips, sirloin to Southern Comfort, that are bad for us.

So can making out … make us healthy?

It seems it can. In fact, a kiss a day will keep the doctor away.

(Unless you’re married to one, that is.)

Here’s 8 reasons why.

1. Kissing is good for your dental hygiene

Even Zombies need love  photo: Kenny Louie

Even Zombies need love
photo: Kenny Louie

This is something your dentist may not have told you, but Continue reading

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HOW TO RAISE A GOOD MAN

One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be.
- Anonymous

photograph: Ben Newton

photograph: Ben Newton

I was recently asked to be godfather to a very special young man; the ritual requires godparents to oversee the lad’s ‘spiritual education.’ Not being a great churchgoer, I thought I’d rather leave him my thoughts on what it takes to be a good man, if not necessarily a religious one.

I just saw a movie with the boy’s mom; it was called The Descendants, starring George Clooney. Afterwards she described the main character as a ‘good man.’ It occurred to me what an undervalued concept that has become in today’s society; men today tend to think of themselves as successful or not successful, sexy or not so much, cool or nerds.

But the term ‘a good man’ – you don’t hear that much.

So what does it mean to be ‘a good man?’ Continue reading

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TIPS FOR A LONG TERM WRITING CAREER

Does writing get any easier after forty books?

You might be surprised at the answer.

This week I talked to Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn about writing historical fiction and tips for a long term writing career.

You can listen to the full podcast at Joanna’s website (and find a lot of other great stuff about writing too) if you click here.

 

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THE GODFATHER GUIDE TO A GOOD AND HAPPY LIFE

godfather, how to live a happy life, mafiaDo you ever feel that you have so many ‘life rules’ thrown at you that you can’t even remember them, let alone make sense of them?

You’re not alone in feeling like that.

The ‘rules of life’ that have stuck most easily with me have come from movies – perhaps because they’re not only visual, they’re visceral.

There is a scene in The Last Samurai where Katsumoto and Algren are about to advance to almost certain death and Katsumoto says: “Do you believe a man can change his destiny?’

Algren answers: ‘I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed to him.’

There’s Buddha right there, a philosophy of life you can live by.

The movie that has provided some of the greatest rules for living well is ‘The Godfather.’ Michael Corleone lived a Shakespearian tragedy. But if he had taken his own good advice and that of his family it might all have been so different …

This is what I learned – the 9 Corleone rules you could build a good and happy life on: Continue reading

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