In respect to religion, spirituality, money and ultimately, life's success, what do you think is the answer?

In answer to Quora question "In respect to religion, spirituality, money and ultimately, life's success, what do you think is the answer?"

Thank you for the A2A Jody Sigmund.

I have spent many years pondering exactly this question, and have come to my own conclusions, which may only apply to me, and which certainly continue to evolve...but I will provide a snapshot of where I have arrived so far, and perhaps that will add something to this conversation.

I do not believe "the answer" can be easily simplified. If I did, I might say it was "love" or "*agape*," but that doesn't really explain all the nuances; it requires further elaboration and definition. So instead I will offer what I intuit to be the primary components of "the answer," though they too require additional discussion and, perhaps more importantly, direct experience to completely grok.

- A felt experience of compassionate affection for self, others and everything that is; a love-consciousness that is operationalized in thoughts, emotions and actions from moment-to-moment.

- Developing an inward awareness - a listening from stillness - that cuts through all the noise to the causal essences of things within and without.

- A reflexive humility and acquiescence if will that learns to let go rather than hold on (i.e. the opposite of willfulness), so that joy and contentment are always easily available.

- A holistic, multidimensional understanding of complex dynamics that invites a neutral holding space for reflection and analysis; in other words, a neutral field of consciousness that permits all variables to peacefully coexist (i.e. is "multidialectical"). There is tension in such a space, but it is a tranquil tension.

- An ever increasing detachment from property ownership and acquisitiveness - and even the concepts of property ownership and acquisitiveness.

- A guiding desire to reciprocate the wonderful gift the Universe has granted by actualizing the greatest good for the greatest number for the greatest duration (i.e. pursuing the good of All).

- Harmonized nourishment of all dimensions of being: creative, social, intellectual, physical, sexual, purpose, legacy, identity, community, spirituality, integrity and so on.

All of these involve a level of self-discipline, to be sure, as well as continued vigilance. They are like exercising muscles to become strong - but this strength runs deeper and radiates outwards and, as an unselfconscious consequence, becomes both a potentially blessing and healing, and potentially disruptive and challenging, presence in the lives of everyone around us.

My 2 cents.

Can somebody tell me is it true that every single person in this world has come to fulfill some specific purpose? Or that is only rubbish?

In answer to Quora question "Can somebody tell me is it true that every single person in this world has come to fulfill some specific purpose? Or that is only rubbish?"

Thanks for the A2A. One of the thirteen dimensions in Integral Lifework is called **"Fulfilling Purpose."** It is defined this way:

"Discovering and actuating a satisfying life-purpose that is perfectly matched to our authentic self, and which supports the focus, strength and healthy expression of our personal will."

The reason this is considered a critical consideration for well-being - an area of life that requires attention an nurturing - is because it turns out to be a central question that most people will ask at some point in their life. And it seems to be rather deeply embedded reflex to ask...and keep asking. So much so that people will unconsciously latch onto some sort of meaning or purpose without much consideration if they don't consciously and actively approach the question. They will, for example, get married, have children, purchase a house, pursue a certain career, attend university, volunteer at a charity, get involved in social justice, or join a religion...all because they feel a strong need to engage the world with purpose, and give their own life meaning, but without really thinking about what they are doing, or why, in a carefully considered way.

So, since this pattern of meaning-making is a nearly universal human habit, there have been memes floating around for a long time that claim everyone has a specific purpose that is uniquely their own. Really I think such claims are an intersection between the real drive that most everyone harbors to find meaning in existence, and the realization that it might be good idea to go about finding such meaning in a conscious way, rather than just adopting what advertisements, entertainment media, charismatic leaders or our family tell us is "the answer" - or to reflexively imitate what everyone else around us is doing. At least that is how I interpret such statements.

But to be more precise - and perhaps more helpful - I would rephrase the statement this way: "If we don't attempt to ferret out a meaningful purpose for ourselves in a conscious way, our purpose will likely either be chosen for us by the agendas of others, or we will adopt some convenient substitution that conforms with societal expectations." For me, this reflects the central concern more accurately. Viewed in this light, the sentiment isn't rubbish at all...it's more of a warning and encouragement.

Lastly, I would say the method of "discovering and actuating a satisfying life-purpose" is also important. In Integral Lifework, this is accomplished by carefully looking within ourselves (through meditation and interior attention and reflection), rather than orienting our search to external answers...or waiting for someone else to show us the way.

My 2 cents.

What are the forces that created a society with little to no trust among it's members?

In answer to Quora question "What are the forces that created a society with little to no trust among it's members?"

Great questions and thanks for the A2A. Off the top of my head:

Commercialistic capitalism. This system is built on deception, manipulation, exploitation and theft. It also encourages people to rely on individualistic wage slavery and consumerism to feel "financially secure" in a self-isolating and egotistical way, undermining our reliance on community (i.e. "each other"). It also encourages cut-throat, unethical competitiveness among both workers and consumers. And it replaces mutual trust with contractual and financial obligations that center around protecting private property - and so we are surrounded by boundaries to what other people own, so that all of life orbits around each person's ego-projection "I/Me/Mine."

**Representative democracy.* When you abstract governance from the people, they disengage from each other and from investment in their own political process and oversight of their community. This "delegation" of responsibility and interest in governance tends to undermine collective decision-making and communication in any polity.

Technology. Whether it is technology that allows people to communicate without face-to-fact interaction, or to isolate themselves in their homes (or rooms) to do professional work or watch entertainment, the result is a lessening of human interaction and a perception that "trust" is less necessary in day-to-day life. It insulates us from each other.

What all of these elements share is their inherent disruption of cooperation, bonding and sense of interdependent relationship. They undermine trust because they replace dynamics that require trust with legal contracts, money, convenience, comfort, static role-based relationships (instead of trust-based ones), affluence and technological power. This is why a person feels okay to scream insults from their car at a stranger, or push past someone else to get a better place in line, or self-righteously vote to reduce their tax burden, or be rude to a customer service representative over the phone - because these systems and innovations have distanced them from their fellow human beings, making them feel (falsely) that they do not need to rely upon them.

My 2 cents.

What are the forces that created a society with little to no trust among it's members?

In answer to Quora question "What are the forces that created a society with little to no trust among it's members?"

Great questions and thanks for the A2A. Off the top of my head:

Commercialistic capitalism. This system is built on deception, manipulation, exploitation and theft. It also encourages people to rely on individualistic wage slavery and consumerism to feel "financially secure" in a self-isolating and egotistical way, undermining our reliance on community (i.e. "each other"). It also encourages cut-throat, unethical competitiveness among both workers and consumers. And it replaces mutual trust with contractual and financial obligations that center around protecting private property - and so we are surrounded by boundaries to what other people own, so that all of life orbits around each person's ego-projection "I/Me/Mine."

Representative democracy. When you abstract governance from the people, they disengage from each other and from investment in their own political process and oversight of their community. This "delegation" of responsibility and interest in governance tends to undermine collective decision-making and communication in any polity.

Technology. Whether it is technology that allows people to communicate without face-to-fact interaction, or to isolate themselves in their homes (or rooms) to do professional work or watch entertainment, the result is a lessening of human interaction and a perception that "trust" is less necessary in day-to-day life. It insulates us from each other.

What all of these elements share is their inherent disruption of cooperation, bonding and sense of interdependent relationship. They undermine trust because they replace dynamics that require trust with legal contracts, money, convenience, comfort, static role-based relationships (instead of trust-based ones), affluence and technological power. This is why a person feels okay to scream insults from their car at a stranger, or push past someone else to get a better place in line, or self-righteously vote to reduce their tax burden, or be rude to a customer service representative over the phone - because these systems and innovations have distanced them from their fellow human beings, making them feel (falsely) that they do not need to rely upon them.

My 2 cents.

How can I be more patient?

In answer to Quora question "How can I be more patient?"

Question details: "I get ticked very easily. Although I try a lot to stay calm and ignore the negativity, there are things that just irritate me to the core. There are only a few people who affect me--perhaps only two or three people. They may talk about a topic which I hate, and which I've told them that I hate discussing, yet they still talk about it. Ignoring it becomes impossible, and I get incredibly angry. No matter how much I try to stay calm, my mind starts to work at the fastest speed possible. My head starts hurting and I know at the end, it's me who suffers. I really don't know how to overcome this."


Thanks for the A2A.

First, I think many of the answers given so far could be very helpful - in particular Jacky Dror's. Second, I would say that learning to be patient takes time. A lot of time - this is still something I am working on, and I just passed the 51-year mark. So one of the first areas you will need to practice patience is in learning patience. That said, here is what I would add, not knowing all the details of your situation:

1. Anger responses can be the result of underlying physiological and/or psychological conditions. Hormone imbalances, sleep problems, dietary issues, environmental pollutants or allergens, situational stressors, unresolved trauma, ADHD, chronic depression...any of these could be factors. So consulting with both a doctor and a therapist about diagnostic testing could be very helpful.

2. Anger responses can become a physiological addiction in themselves, where we seek the release of certain hormones, and so unconsciously create situations where this will occur. One way to satisfy the same needs in a healthy way is to engage in daily vigorous exercise. This can interrupt the anger cycles. Of course, we may then become addicted to exercise instead...but that isn't such a bad thing, right?

3. In my practice, called Integral Lifework, anger and impatience can be the result of some area of your being being neglected or undernourished. You might want to take the Integral Lifework Nourishment Assessment (free) to see what areas may be interfering with your well-being and begin to address those.

4. I would also take a look at what you are putting into your body that isn't essential food. Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, simple carbohydrates and even wheat can be frequent culprits in disrupting mood and evoking impatience, frustration and anger. By taking a few months off from consuming these things, you may find your ability to manage emotions greatly improved.

5. It is extremely common for anyone who has had a difficult childhood, or who had neglectful or abusive family relationships, to have trouble managing their emotions. It's almost a guaranteed outcome. And this is where CBT or DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) can be extraordinarily helpful. I'm also a fan of body-centered psychotherapies like Hakomi.

In the meantime, until you can find healthy ways to process the impatience and anger you are feeling, I would encourage you to remove yourself from the situations that trigger this response. Just take a break from them. I'm a huge fan of meditation, and that can also be helpful, but if you keep placing yourself in stressful situations that you know could upset you, the meditation will not have an opportunity to create new supportive patterns and structures in your mind, body and heart.

My 2 cents.

Why is my life so complicated and I never feel fulfilled?

Answer to Quora question: "Why is my life so complicated and I never feel fulfilled?"

Question details: "I've never had close friends, social experiences, very few relationships, no job, and i haven't completed my degree. I feel that i'm unlucky in life, while other people can get away with so much and still be on top. Am i just too nice? Why do i lack direction? Why can't i feel powerful? Any advice?"


A2A. Although I don't know all the details of your situation (which is a requirement for giving any kind of useful advice!), I did read through your question and comments, and my conclusion is that you might do well to alter the way you are viewing yourself - your priorities and your values orientation. Why do luck and success matter to you? Why have you made them so important that you compare the luck and success of others to your own? Why is "feeling powerful" or being "on top" important to you? Why do you believe that "feeling fulfilled" is somehow supposed to be part of your existence? How did you arrive at these conclusions and adopt these values for yourself...?

I think that is where you need to begin: understanding where your assumptions came from, and if they are really a) correct and accurate assumptions, in some absolute sense, b) apply to you, holding to your innermost convictions, and are really what you value most, and c) if it is possible that you have been misled or misinformed. My suspicion is that you have adopted some values and methods of self-evaluation that have arisen from a superficial, commercialistic and celebrity-centric world. Perhaps you have been "sold" a value system that really only benefits very few people with certain skills and aptitudes, and leaves everyone else feeling exactly the way you are feeling. And maybe that value system is actually a lie. A lie that benefits people who would like to exploit you and keep you focused outside of yourself for answers, because that helps them remain "lucky," "on top" and "in power."

And if you have accepted a lie as truth, you will probably always feel the way you are feeling. Until you see through the spectacle and illusion of what a materialistic, individualistic, plutocratic system - a system that thrives on deception and misdirection - has programmed you to believe, you will keep casting about for ways to "be fulfilled" or "powerful" or "on top," and you will keep feeling like a miserable failure. Because that's the way you are supposed to feel if you aren't one of the extremely rare people - perhaps 1% of 1% - who can fulfill all the superficial, vapid, commercially viable but essentially meaningless expectations of modern culture.

So instead, I would encourage you to turn away from mass media, social media, pop culture, advertising and commercial music, TV and film, and instead turn your focus inward. Look inside yourself for what you value most. What is really important to you, deep down? What defines who you actually are, and why you are actually here? Stop paying attention to everything going on outside of you, and turn your attention to what is going on within your heart, mind and soul. Spend time alone in Nature, in meditation, in deep reflection. That is where I believe you will find purpose and fulfillment and belonging - that is where you will find values that enhance your self-concept in constructive ways. And, if you follow through on this inward sensitivity and awareness, and are disciplined about it, well...be prepared to be amazed at what you find. It will probably bring you to tears.

And you will never care about celebrity, luck, power or success in the popular or commercialized sense ever again.

My 2 cents.

How do I find things that I am good at?

Quora answer to "How do I find things that I am good at?"

Thanks for the A2A Marc. There are a lot of different ways to approach this. For example, you could:

1. Do some of the online self-assessments that help people learn more about themselves. One that many people have found useful one is called "Strengthsfinder 2.0."

2. Explore interests and practices that involve on one or more of the thirteen dimensions of self defined in Integral Lifework (https://www.integrallifework.com/).

3. Expose yourself to many different areas of interest: through books, classes, TV shows, YouTube videos, etc.

4. Direct your inquiry inward through mediation and wait patiently for answers to arise (because, eventually, they will).

5. In whatever way possible, spend time actually doing different things out in the world, with other people who have passion in those areas.

Now what is interesting is that being good at something doesn't mean - as is popularly believed - that you will a) enjoy doing that thing, or that b) you will be able to have a career doing that thing. These are misconceptions reinforced by those rare individuals who happen to find something they enjoy, that they are also good at, and which also provides them a means of supporting themselves. But again, this is very rare (as, for example, most actors and musicians can attest to). Also, finding something you enjoy may be more important than finding something you are good at - it is not uncommon to have talents in areas that don't particularly interest us, and in fact that can turn into a kind of trap if you aren't careful. For example, I had a 15 year career in Information Technology because the field came easily to me and it turned out I was quite good at it. But I did not enjoy it very much, and that led to my feeling stressed, exhausted, depleted and increasingly depressed after fifteen years of technogeekery. I had to leave that profession and reboot my life, focusing on what was important to my whole being, not just what I had a "knack" for that made money. And of course the opposite might also be true: you might find you really enjoy something that you aren't particularly gifted at, or which doesn't provide any income. But so what? Isn't your contentment and happiness important?

Lastly I'll bring up the 10,000 hour rule. It has been proposed that it takes most people - even really talented people - something like 10,000 hours to fully develop the skills, habits, confidence and expertise around something they may be very good at. That's a lot of hours, and really it just points us towards a more time-honored principle: that it takes time, discipline, commitment and focus to become really good at something. Again though, I would offer the caveat that enjoyment, happiness, a sense of purpose, and multidimensional self-nourishment (again see Integral Lifework (https://www.integrallifework.com/) to understand what I mean by this) are much more critical to our well-being in the long run - and aren't necessarily related to one's aptitudes, skills or expertise.

My 2 cents.

Is there a limit to how far resourceful parents are justified to help their kids to get ahead of peers?

From Quora answer to "Is there a limit to how far resourceful parents are justified to help their kids to get ahead of peers?"

Question details: While I recognize parents should have the freedom to spend the money they earned on their kids, there seems to be a limit beyond which parental help becomes unjust: parents using personal connections to obtain well-paid and high-profile jobs may be seen as unjust by some. So where is the line?


Thanks for the A2A.

Of course there is a line. Where that line is will be guided by five factors:

1. The moral framework guiding the parent's values and their parenting style.
2. How skillful the parent is at helping their child individuate and become self-sufficient.
3. How much the parent connects their own self-esteem or self-concept with their child's accomplishments, or tries to live vicariously through their child, and consequently limits the child's choices and oppresses their development.
4. The child's natural capacities and desires for independence and self-sufficiency.
5. The child's natural aptitudes and abilities.

We could spend a lot of time discussing each of these points, but in an ideal world the parent would be morally advanced enough to recognize the importance of an "authoritative" parenting style (as opposed to authoritarian, uninvolved or indulgent-permissive parenting styles) where they encourage the child to create their own goals and priorities, and step back to let the child navigate their own path, being supportive but not controlling. In that ideal world the parent would also understand the importance of their child forming an independent identity that is not tied too closely to culture, class, wealth or family ties (this is tied to another form of individuation, in this case a Jungian one). And, in that ideal world, the child will not have mental or physical illnesses or limitations that restrict them, and have ample motivation to become independent, self-directed and whole.

Alas, we don't live in an ideal world. The advantages of such parenting are well-researched and experientially validated...but that doesn't mean a majority of parents aim for this, practice it consistently, or even agree with these conclusions. But even if they DID agree, "the line" would still be all over the place, moving according to variations in each of those five factors. So "the line" will be a very subjective (or intersubjective) thing. The best we can do is educate folks on healthy and skillful parenting - and what the course of healthy a child's development looks and feels like - if they are receptive to it.

A sad reality about human beings that has persisted into the modern world is that ignorance and arrogance combine into an incredibly destructive force. Many people believe they know how best to raise their own children - which is obviously ludicrous, since most people have never had any training or education about parenting, and are either just repeating the mistakes their own parents made, or overreacting to an opposite extreme. It's a very sad state of affairs. So parents can often exercise perpetual incompetence - and horrific emotional, physical, spiritual and sexual abuse - because their "right" to be an incompetent parent has so many cultural and institutional protections.

So, again, the best we can do is educate. To that end I recommend reading up on "separation-individuation" (first proposed by Margaret Mahler) and the four parenting styles referenced above (first proposed by Diana Baumrind), and Jung's musings about individuation as well. There is 50+ years of research supporting the conclusions of Mahler and Baumrind, and if parents could learn about these facts before they even had children - perhaps in high school? - the family relationships might become a lot more compassionate and skillful than they generally are today...and "the line" we've been discussing defined by much clearer and more constructive terms.

My 2 cents.

Being a part of mainstream society makes me unhappy, what can I do to become happy?

In answer to Quora question: "Being a part of mainstream society makes me unhappy, what can I do to become happy?"

Thanks for the A2A. Although you could become a hermit and withdraw from society (I have done this at times, and it can be very nourishing), there are other options:

1. Find people who share your values and create a community for yourself and them. This could mean joining an established organization, or creating one from scratch - the latter is more difficult, but can be very rewarding.

2. Nourish your heart, mind and soul with interactions and media that support your values and aesthetics. In other words, listen to music that inspires you, watch movies that resonate with your perspective, attend cultural events that reflect what you value and esteem. And avoid everything else.

3. Find a vocation that expresses who you are or who you want to be, rather than what society expects of you.

4. Take regular breaks from interacting with others and spend time in Nature, time alone meditating, praying, reading...whatever works for you.

There is also the possibility of "relocation therapy." This doesn't always work, but sometimes it is possible to move to a new place and "find your people," that is, find a place that feels more like home than where you are now. I've done this twice. The first time was a disaster - I felt more alienated and alone than I had before. The second time it worked rather well. Success isn't guaranteed, and we can't just run away from difficult choices or issues we need to face, but sometimes relocating can make a surprising difference because of subtle changes in place, culture, language, shared values, public priorities, etc.

My 2 cents.

How can I make sure that those wrongdoers suffer as much the pain as they inflicted in my life?

In answer to Quora question: "How can I make sure that those wrongdoers suffer as much the pain as they inflicted in my life?"

Question details: I think this would relieve my stress, because such people make me question whether being moral makes one happy and protected against evil or just pure fool who stays moral thinking its the right way but maybe stay so because it's easier and lazier to be good willed than to fight and compete?


A2A. Some thoughts off the top of my head:

1. When a dog is stuck in a painful trap, and its lifelong human friend comes to free it, 9 times out of 10 it will growl and bite that person viciously, because the dog is in pain and doesn't know how else to act. **Are you a dog caught in a painful trap?** If so, what choices did you make that led to this situation?

2. A sociopath is hardwired to "win at all costs." That is a central part of their disorder. They can only see the world through competing, manipulating and deceiving others in order to serve their own agenda at any cost. **Are you a sociopath?**

3. Someone stuck at an early stage of ego development will frame morality through defense of their own ego. They will make everything about championing their ego, so that they feel more secure. Because of this, they always feel they are in competition with others, and that all wrongs against them must be righted. **Are you stuck at an early stage of ego development?**

4. People with narcissistic personality disorder (and borderline personality disorder, though perhaps to a lesser degree) believe they deserve things, that they are special, important and superior - even though they may have done nothing to warrant this self-importance, and may not even be especially talented or bright. This inflated sense of self causes them to expect others to do what the narcissist wants, when they want it, and without question - to the point that a narcissist will become enraged when people won't respond in ways they expect, or won't recognize their importance and power. **Have you been evaluated for narcissistic personality disorder or other personality disorder?**

5. One type of psychopath may envy and resent people around them in a hateful way. They tend to become "injustice collectors" and accrue a long list of things "wrongdoers" have perpetrated against them. They will then use these feelings of self-righteous rage to fuel revenge, executing it without remorse, and without any sense of responsibility for the harm they commit. **Are you this type of psychopath?**

Although I have no idea what all of your reasons for posting this question might be Idella, or how you really feel and think, the question itself may reflect one or more of the conditions listed above. If you honestly feel the way this question sounds - or you think it is a perfectly reasonable and logical question - I urge you to seek professional psychiatric care as soon as you are able. Remember that people suffering from many of the more serious conditions listed above do not see themselves as impaired or unhealthy in any way - but this is also part of the disorder. So again, if the question was sincere, or seems logical to you, or is deeply felt, then please seek help immediately and don't delay.

There is another possibility of course, and I certainly hope this is the case for you, rather than any of the conditions above: People who are ignorant, inexperienced, slow learners or all of these things tend to believe revenge will make them feel better. However, all the research available on "the psychology of retribution" clearly shows that people feel worse when they execute revenge; it keeps the anger fresh and the emotional wounds open and raw, and *makes them more unhappy*. ** If you are ignorant, inexperienced and/or a slow leaner, **then it's time to grow up a bit, gain some wisdom, do some research on "the psychology of retribution," and begin to live your life in a more mature, prosocial manner. You should then quickly see why people learn to "forgive and let go." If you don't experience this "aha" moment...then being ignorant, inexperienced or a slow learner isn't the problem, and you will need to revisit the other conditions listed above with some professional help.

My 2 cents.

Are there any limits on what a client in psychotherapy should share with the treatment professional? Could some content be too disturbing?

In answer to Quora question: "Are there any limits on what a client in psychotherapy should share with the treatment professional? Could some content be too disturbing?"


Question details: Some people might avoid revealing certain things in fear of unknown reactions. What, if anything, is too much to share?


Nothing is "too much." Any professional who chooses to enter into a therapeutic relationship that confronts difficult material - material that may extremely traumatic or uncomfortable for their client - has to have well-developed ways of dealing with that content...no matter how disturbing it may be. The therapist should have the training and confidence to set necessary boundaries with their client - and to continually negotiate, clarify and reinforce those boundaries over time. But again it is the responsibility of the therapist/counselor/coach/practitioner to do this. At the same time, I think it's very helpful for any client to be sensitive to this issue as they enter into a therapeutic relationship...so kudos for that!

In my own coaching work with individuals and couples, I have been subject to all sorts of challenging situations. People have been sexually inappropriate, violently angry, have collapsed onto the floor wailing in grief, became extremely detached or dissociated, threatened to harm themselves or someone else...or me. I had to make a judgement in those situations about whether these reactions were healthy catharsis, unhealthy decompensation, therapeutic resistance or avoidance behaviors, an underlying psychosis...and so forth. In some cases, it became clear that my client needed an intervention (psychological, pharmaceutical, educational, medical, etc.) that I was not qualified to provide, and I would refer them to an appropriate specialist. Sometimes this meant ending our relationship, but that's how it works.

I think what this really points to is an important principle, which is that service providers need to do a much better job of triage and referring to the right specialist, so that people can receive the appropriate help. Our current health system (in the U.S.) is fairly broken in this regard; it does a terrible job of triage for emotional and psychological issues especially (and their underlying physiological causes). Years ago I was a patient advocate and was astounded by the level misdiagnosis and inappropriate or destructive treatment patients received. We have a medical system built on fee-for-service, and that tends to create the wrong kind of incentives for ideal health outcomes. Yes, there are good people doing good work in our system - but the system itself is flawed.

So for now, unfortunately, it falls on clients (or patients, as the case may be) to self-educate, self-advocate, and to large degree find the best resources for help, guidance and treatment without relying on a faulty system to help them do this. For emotional and mental health concerns, that means shopping around for the right kind of therapist - that is, one whose approach works best for a given condition or circumstance, and who is experienced and competent in that approach. In a commercially driven healthcare environment, this can feel like an antagonizing responsibility for the person seeking help...especially if they are in crisis ...but that's where we are right now. In any case, here is a link to something I wrote about finding the right resource: https://www.integrallifework.com/resources/How-to-Select-Mentor-Coach-Therapist.pdf.

My 2 cents.

My mother will die soon. What are the last things I should do with her?

In answer to Quora question: "My mother will die soon. What are the last things I should do with her?"

So many wonderful answers. Here are some small additions:

1) Be brave.

2) Listen from the heart, and be comfortable with silence.

3) Be as willing to receive from her - to let her do things for you, to share herself with you, to bless you with her presence - as you are to give of yourself.

4) Let your love for her radiate out from you without restraint.

5) Be yourself with her - be authentic, honest and open - and allow her to be herself with you.

6) Allow enough space and time for joy and laughter to happen.

7) Let kindness be your guide with everyone in her presence, have patience with those who may not know how to be or what to say, and give others the space and time they need to be with her.

8-) Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. You cannot be strong for her if you do not have compassion for yourself.

9) Consider carefully if there is anything important you wish to share with her or ask her, and find a moment to do that.

10) Apart from that last point, be willing to let her take the lead when she needs to regarding what to do or say.

11) Hold her close while you can, then let her go when you must.

12) Cherish these final memories you will make together.

I wish you all the best.

What did it take for you to truly love yourself?

In answer to Quora question: "What did it take for you to truly love yourself?"

Thank you for the A2A. This is a wonderful question IMO.

There was no single moment for me - this has been an ongoing process over my entire life (I am fifty years old), and I likely have more to learn in this regard. However, there are a number of moments where I seemed to gain a fresh foothold in that process (probably more than I can even recall), but here are a few of the ones that stick out:

1) When I experienced unconditional love from my aunt and uncle. From my mother and father, and their parents, affection and attention were inconsistent, pretty low quality, and usually conditional. But my aunt and uncle seemed to care about me for just being me - they had no expectations, but were kind and patient even when I acted out.

2) When dogs actively and miraculously saved my life in harmful situations a number of times as a young boy.

3) When Ann Zara, my grade school therapist, demonstrated profound compassion and understanding toward me - again without any conditions or expectations.

4) When my foster parents took me in, treated me with kindness, forgave me when I did wrong, and injected so much laughter into our interactions.

5) When I was baptized at age eighteen, not because I wanted to be "saved," but because I wanted to acknowledge the amazing agape that the God of the Christian tradition was offering me, and because my heart soared with gratitude and wonder that, regardless of all the reckless and harmful things I had said or done, I was wrapped in a boundless love that sacrificed itself over and over again so that I could be safe, nourished, and thriving.

6) When I took a year off from sexual gratification and desires at age nineteen, and encountered an intense and enduring compassionate and charitable affection for all people around me as a result. I had never experienced this before, and was surprised that I myself was included in that compassion.

7) When I practiced outreach to homeless people in Seattle in my twenties. This had no other agenda than to relieve their suffering, feed them, provide them shelter, listen to their stories, invite them into my home, and show them they were loved. I will never forget one homeless man who shook my hand when I offered him help and chatted with him for a few minutes. "Thank you," he said, holding onto my hand and looking deeply into my eyes, "for seeing me...for really seeing me." In that moment he was offering me a gift greater than anything a person could give.

8-) When I received some excellent cognitive behavioral therapy in my early thirties that helped me understand the difference between codependent, enmeshed relationships and relationships where each person took responsibility for their own well-being and happiness.

9) When I began meditating regularly and encountering more and more of an interiority full of Light, intrinsic compassion, and letting go for everything...including a "self" that was less and less differentiated from everyone and everything else.

10) When I began teaching meditation classes and seeing that same Light, compassion and letting go blossom in my students.

11) In conjunction with nearly all of these events, my ego played an interesting role. Early in my childhood, it was my ego that defensively asserted itself to show that I could love myself in small and immature ways (i.e. self-preservation). But as I got older, it was the acquiescence of ego that allowed me to love myself...to a degree that I would say that whatever is left of my ego has now become the enemy of love.

There is so much more to this story, but perhaps you can see the patterns here. First, unconditional love was demonstrated to me. Then I experienced that same compassion and caring for others in myself. Then I realized what unhealthy, clingy and conditional love looked and felt like in my relationships. Then I discovered through meditation that I was no different than all those "other" people I cared for...that in essence, I was them. So now, whatever compassion I have for myself is reflected back to me by All that Is, and "loving myself" becomes a humble submission to that unitive apprehension.

I hope this was helpful.

What are some things you do to simplify your life?

In answer to Quora question: "What are some things you do to simplify your life?"

Thanks for the A2A. Love the question! Here are my top 10 thoughts on this:

1) Avoid consuming conspicuously. Instead, buy stuff that lasts, that really improves your quality of life, and that helps you fulfill your purpose on this planet (rather than gratifying an impulsive whim or answering some advertisement's call-to-action).

2) Have regular techno-fasts. By this I mean taking a break from all technology - and especially entertainment and communications technology - for long stretches of time. An hour or more each day. An entire day each week. A weekend every month or two. Along the same lines, narrow your communication methods to just one or two (i.e. email and phone, or texts and Skype, etc.) so that you aren't constantly bouncing between different ones.

3) Get rid of unused crap. Haven't used it in a couple of years? Give it away or throw it away.

4) Meditate regularly. When the muddle settles, the water becomes clear.

5) Operationalize your values. Prioritize your life according to what you think is most important and virtuous, rather than any expectations of society, family or friends that compete with your values. Then have the people who are closest to you remind you of this when you begin to drift.

6) Learn to let go. As an emotional reflex, learn how to let go of grief, stress, rage, jealousy, greed, spite and all other antagonistic, counterproductive emotions, and replace them with compassion.

7) Lower your expectations of yourself, and the expectations others have on you. How long is your MBDN list (Must Be Done Now!)? Stop adding things to it until you've finished the current to-dos. How full is your calendar with events you feel obligated to attend? Cut the number of events in half, and moving forward only say "yes" to half the number you would normally attend. What is your income goal for the next three years? Reduce it by 25%. Do you have more than eight friends you consider close? Figure out which four of them really are. Involved in too many causes or hobbies? Pick your top three of each and focus on those. And so on.

8-) Evaluate if you are being codependent in any of your relationships, and change that. (see Compassion and Codependence)

9) Schedule your priorities rather than prioritizing your schedule. I got this from Stephen Covey's Seven Habits book, I think in the "First Things First" section.

10) Practice unwavering integrity. Let your actions align with your words, your words align with your thoughts and feelings, and your thoughts and feelings align with your beliefs. Take responsibility when this doesn't happen, embrace the consequences, have compassion for yourself, and try harder next time.

My 2 cents.

How do I find my passion?

In answer to the Quora question: "How do I find my passion?"

Thanks for the A2A. I seem to be arriving to this party late, as there are already over 100 answers! However I will add my perspective, though I suspect it may already be represented in the other posts....

1) For a deeper look into your being and to appreciate your personal sense of passion and purpose, practice self-inquiry styles of meditation until you arrive at the answers you seek. Connecting with your innermost Self is going to provide not only insight, but resounding clarity along with the fires of conviction. This process, which involves allowing yourself to be still and to listen carefully with your innermost senses, will likely take a few weeks - if not months - of daily practice to bear fruit.

2) For a more superficial angle on career path issues, I would definitely take the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and do the exercises in the book to see what that has to say. It will provide you with some great insights into your innate strengths.

3) Consider taking the Integral Lifework Nourishment Assessment to see what areas of your life need more attention; once you begin nourishing those areas you may encounter the passion you seek as one of many benefits.

Those are my 2 cents. I hope this was helpful.

How do you stop compulsively using others and lying to yourself?

In answer to Quora question: "How do you stop compulsively using others and lying to yourself?"

Question Details: Deeply entrenched victimization coupled with co-dependency brought upon by a family of enablers has caused me to find myself at 27 years old stuck in patterns of using and manipulating others (despite good intentions) for my own gain as well as projecting a false image of myself to others to deceive them into thinking that I'm a good person. How can I get honest with myself and others and somehow grow past this? I'm also a recovering drug addict with two years of sobriety under my belt, unemployed and living with family. I just want to be healthy, normal, successful and productive.


Not knowing you or the details of your situation means that any thoughts I have on this are going to be general and may miss the mark entirely. However, here are some first impressions:

1) You seem to be self-aware and interested in healing and growth. That means you have a huge head start over someone who might be behaving the same way, but is in denial about their issues or avoiding them.

2) Taking responsibility for your own healing may mean moving past any desire to blame family members or past experiences, and instead embrace forgiveness and radical acceptance (of the past, of your family, and of yourself). Perhaps you've already reached this point intellectually, but if you haven't already done so, you will want to arrive at a deep emotional conviction regarding all of these areas of forgiveness and acceptance as well.

3) Congratulations on your two years of sobriety!

4) It is possible - perhaps even probable - that other factors are in play besides growing up in an incompatible or stressful environment. Seeing a skilled psychotherapist who is an expert in CBT and DBT may help you identify specific patterns or tendencies in your thoughts and emotions that contribute to the choices and behaviors that you have observed in your life. They can then offer you some tools to manage those patterns and tendencies.

5) Definitely consider taking the Nourishment Assessment on my Integral Lifework website (it's free), and see if there are any areas of your life that may be neglected or undernourished. Targeting aspects of our well-being that may have become depleted or rejected can open up new areas of strength, insight and energy to work through the very issues you have described.

In any case one huge positive for you is your age - 27 years young is a great time to take on these kinds of tough, personal issues. I have had clients in their 60s who were just arriving where you seem to be now. So IMO that's an advantage you should celebrate as you pursue this healing path of growth.

I hope this was helpful.

Why is it so difficult to find a loyal friend?

In answer to the Quora question: "Why is it so difficult to find a loyal friend?"

Thanks for the A2A.

I myself have felt this way many times in my life, and there does indeed seem to be little rhyme or reason to the quality of friendships that serendipitously occur in our lives. However, here are some observations from my own experience...

1) First I would consider taking a look at this chart: Integral Lifework Relationship Matrix. It can help categorize the nature of any relationship and refine certain expectations. I've made good use of this in couples coaching and in situations where a client is feeling frustrated that they aren't connecting with the right sort of people or are having trouble navigating friendships, romantic relationships and even work relationships. So perhaps it will be useful!

2) Culture does make a difference, and the region of the country where you live, work and socialize will have a huge impact on the quality of your friendships. I've lived in several places around the U.S., as well as in Germany for a few years, and have travelled extensively. People really are different in different geographical locations, and their expectations of friendship (how quickly they trust, what they are looking for in a friend, how generous they are, etc.) will have a lot to do with the local culture and its traditions. It is true that there may be folks who share our values almost everywhere...if we can find them. But it will be a lot more likely that we connect with potentially deep and lasting friendships that reinforce our values in cultures where a large percentage of the people around us share those values and worldview. And this is of course equally true of our immediate social community - where we work, with whom we recreate, how we engage our interests, and so on. If we are around incompatible sorts of people, we may feel very alone or unable to connect on levels we find most nourishing.

3) Be cautious of high standards. I say this only because I myself have fallen into the trap of expecting too much from my friends. I am slowly learning to apply something I read in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (which I highly recommend reading, btw) years ago: “People exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then, or bear with them.”

4) This fourth point is a little difficult to convey without knowing all the variables of your life experience and your beliefs, so please forgive me if I miss the mark. But there are phases in our lives where we must learn to be less reliant on what we may have experienced in the past as nourishing connections and relationships; where we are "forced to grow" as it were through new or uncomfortable situations. I am not saying this is what you are experiencing now, but only that there are times when previous patterns of relating no longer support or nurture us in the same way, and we must learn new ways of being that entail more personal effort and responsibility on our part - or different skills - than have been required in the past. Just something else to consider.

5) And, lastly, I will share one of many nuggets of wisdom my wife has shared with me. She has a saying that has cheered me up in countless situations where I felt let down by someone: "Happiness is lower expectations."

My 2 cents.

What are the most common life mistakes young people make?

From Quora discussion: "What are the most common life mistakes young people make?"

I am a life coach to adult couples and individual clients, a step-dad to two young adults, a brother to three younger siblings, and, over time, I have been a mentor to a handful of teenagers. Many of my adult coaching clients are working through questions and challenges that are similar to the ones they had back when they were teenagers. But either no one thought to encourage them to seek out professional help back then, or there was some stigma or insecurity about doing so when they were young. And as I interact with young people today, I see the same hesitancy to engage in professional help with psychological, emotional, relational or life management issues. Sometimes this choice seems similar to not wanting to go to the doctor, or not wanting to listen to adult advice, but often it seems more about fearing to face personal struggles, or not wanting to encounter painful self-knowledge. In other words, avoidance. Probably the greatest impact I have had on the young people I have known is encouraging them to seek out a good therapist, coach or mentor in order to overcome these fears and gain important life management skills. In fact, if all young people had such resources available to them when making important decisions, navigating romantic relationships, planning their education and careers, etc., they could gain the tools necessary to help mitigate all the "mistakes" described in the 40+ answers in this thread. Of course, the key is finding a good resource - someone patient, skilled, insightful and well-trained - and, as with any other product or service, that means being a discerning and careful consumer.

How can I train myself to reach a deeper state of meditation faster?

From Quora discussion: "How can I train myself to reach a deeper state of meditation faster?"

Unfortunately there isn't a generic prescription that will help you here, as every person is different. It may be the style of meditation you adopt - rather than the frequency or duration - that will assist you in more readily and consistently accessing the stillness you seek. You can read about a number of different approaches here: Essential Mysticism : T.Collins Logan : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive (I recommend the DjVU version, you will just need to get free DjVu software to read it). The book also touches on some environmental factors that may impact your process. However I would say that "going deeper more quickly" is not always qualitatively better, or desirable, for many reasons. Sometimes it is the very process of taking time that helps introduce different aspects of our being to meditative benefits. Even though I have used psychoactive drugs that "speed up the process," and have even developed binaural entrainment techniques that rapidly induce deeper meditative states, I do not recommend either of these approaches over the long term; they may assist with overcoming initial resistance or structural barriers to meditation for beginners, but I believe they are detrimental to long-term, more mature and nurturing outcomes.

On the other hand, perhaps what you are really looking for is a persisting, beneficial state of consciousness that extends beyond the meditative practice itself? If so, in part that will come about through consistent practice over time, but I also strongly encourage you to consider balancing those efforts with self-care in all dimensions of being as you move forward - you can take a look at the overview here Page on integrallifework.com to get an idea of what I mean. A lopsided emphasis on just one form of nurturing (in this case meditation) can lead to antagonistic or even harmful imbalances over time, and may actually undermine the calm, less reactive states you've come to appreciate. The principle at work here is that, for example, cognitive disciplines and restructuring alone may not penetrate emotional, social, physiological or other structures within and without that are harboring stuck or disruptive patterns and energies. It is a critical error not to consider these other dimensions and how they interact with each other. Lastly, there is also the question of intention. Cultivating a specific flavor of compassionate intention that motivates your practice will shape the ultimate effectiveness of that practice. I discuss this in the Essential Mysticism book referenced above as well.

I hope this was helpful.

How can I train myself to reach a deeper state of meditation faster?

From Quora discussion: "How can I train myself to reach a deeper state of meditation faster?"

Unfortunately there isn't a generic prescription that will help you here, as every person is different. It may be the style of meditation you adopt - rather than the frequency or duration - that will assist you in more readily and consistently accessing the stillness you seek. You can read about a number of different approaches here: Essential Mysticism : T.Collins Logan : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive (I recommend the DjVU version, you will just need to get free DjVu software to read it). The book also touches on some environmental factors that may impact your process. However I would say that "going deeper more quickly" is not always qualitatively better, or desirable, for many reasons. Sometimes it is the very process of taking time that helps introduce different aspects of our being to meditative benefits. Even though I have used psychoactive drugs that "speed up the process," and have even developed binaural entrainment techniques that rapidly induce deeper meditative states, I do not recommend either of these approaches over the long term; they may assist with overcoming initial resistance or structural barriers to meditation for beginners, but I believe they are detrimental to long-term, more mature and nurturing outcomes.

On the other hand, perhaps what you are really looking for is a persisting, beneficial state of consciousness that extends beyond the meditative practice itself? If so, in part that will come about through consistent practice over time, but I also strongly encourage you to consider balancing those efforts with self-care in all dimensions of being as you move forward - you can take a look at the overview here Page on integrallifework.com to get an idea of what I mean. A lopsided emphasis on just one form of nurturing (in this case meditation) can lead to antagonistic or even harmful imbalances over time, and may actually undermine the calm, less reactive states you've come to appreciate. The principle at work here is that, for example, cognitive disciplines and restructuring alone may not penetrate emotional, social, physiological or other structures within and without that are harboring stuck or disruptive patterns and energies. It is a critical error not to consider these other dimensions and how they interact with each other. Lastly, there is also the question of intention. Cultivating a specific flavor of compassionate intention that motivates your practice will shape the ultimate effectiveness of that practice. I discuss this in the Essential Mysticism book referenced above as well.

I hope this was helpful.

Why do people smoke when the risks are so serious?

From Quora answer to "Why do people smoke when the risks are so serious?What can be done to discourage them?"

Thank for the A2A.

Nicotine is incredibly addictive, especially via the delivery mechanisms that tobacco companies have carefully designed to deliver the drug. So once a person gets hooked, it can be extremely challenging to quit. My father tried to quit smoking over and over again for the last fifty years of his life, but he could never quite kick the habit, even though he completely understood the risks. In the end, it helped end his life prematurely, just as he knew it would.

If you look at how other addictive drugs have been developed over time (both legal ones and illegal ones), the driver for that development is the same for all of them: profit. The profit motive is the primary reason that highly addictive drugs and delivery systems have been made so widely available to so many people, consequently ruining so many lives. So I think one aspect of the solution will be to shift our political economy away from an unrestrained corporationist commercialism that spends billions to get people hooked on its products. I address some ways we can begin doing this in my book Political Economy and the Unitive Principle. You can download a free DjVu copy of the book here: Political Economy and the Unitive Principle : T.Collins Logan : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

On the other side of the equation, you will often hear people arguing that there would be no profit in addictive drugs if there weren't such strong demand. This is only partially true, but it still bears consideration. It is only partially true because when vast amounts of money are spent on marketing and ad campaigns to persuade young people that smoking (or drinking, etc.) is cool, sophisticated and socially favorable, then demand is being fabricated or carefully engineered. Someone who has never seen a cigarette or been persuaded (or pressured) to try one will not develop an addiction or contribute to demand for the product. So this is where the "free market" argument becomes pretty specious, especially since until relatively recently, there wasn't even much of an effort at all to counteract these sexy and persuasive corporate campaigns. Even efforts by the FDA, CDC and others to engage people with creative anti-smoking ads can't really compete with the deluge of influence from popular culture (again financed by tobacco companies) that has made smoking seem cool, interesting, sexy and sophisticated.

And yet the "why do people smoke?" question is still important. In my theory of Integral Lifework (see Home - Introduction), I propose thirteen dimensions of essential nourishment that need to flourish for healing, wholeness and personal growth to occur. Whenever one or more of these dimensions is neglected, we will tend to substitute something else to mask or compensate for the underlying nurturing that isn't happening. This substitution can then spiral into thoughts, behaviors and addictions that are self-destructive. So one way to avoid the impulse to smoke would be to make sure all of those dimensions are being cared for. If we have a strong "Supportive Community" that reinforces healthful values, for example, we will feel less swayed by peer pressure from outside of that community to smoke. If we feel fulfilled and vibrant in our dimensions of "Playful Heart," "Fulfilling Purpose," "Healthy Body" and the other areas of our life, we won't feel the same urge to medicate away anxiety or depression with nicotine. In fact my clients have had success in overcoming addictions simply by targeting one or two dimensions that had previously been undernourished for a long time.

So I would approach this difficult challenge from two angles: holistic self-nourishment and transformation of capitalism as we know it. As within, so without.

My 2 cents.