Sunday, October 26, 2014

Change Your Thoughts

Photography by Dustin Watchman -

             Who and what you surround yourself is truly what defines you. I can't express this enough. This doesn't always mean it has to be negative though. In short, surround yourself with people that you wish to be like. Now, the other side of that coin is that if you are striving to become that somebody, why would that special somebody want to hang out with you? There must be a beneficial gain for both of you to create a relationship with each other. An example is that if you want to be a millionaire then you should hang out with millionaires to learn from them. Second though, you need to find out the answer to the question of, "Why would that millionaire want to hang out with you?" So sometimes, you have to go to option number two in life, and surround yourself with the books that they write instead! Many successful people have clearly stated that they spend a lot of time reading, and therefore so should you! I purposely surround myself with motivational quotes and posters at my work desk, next to my work area at home, and with friends that are just as motivational. These are constant daily reminders to be positive and productive in everything I do. To many people will live their lives surrounded by watching the news ( highly negative ) and always being around people that often complain about problems, with no possible solutions ever given. Day in and day out people are surrounded by negativity and don't give a second thought about how to change that.
           Currently, I am re-reading this incredible book. It has so much information, and highlighter marks from me, that I need to read it again just to wrap my head around all the great information. That, and it's a reminder to stay on my goal orientated path. Anyone that seriously wants to work less or at least work more efficiently needs to read this book. I used to read books from certain authors about how to be successful, but all the hype built up during the book was quickly diminished when you finished it and there weren't any real solutions on how to accomplish anything. This book does the exact opposite. It is filled with solutions, answers, guidance, and you won't be disappointed at all. Believe me, I am the worst salesman when it comes to 99% of materialistic goods because I don't think people need most of them, but this book is a must read because it is practical for you to live a better life than you are now. If you spend your days reading gossip tabloids, newspapers, or online news you may find yourself uninspired in life. Find something inspiring to read!

         I have actually been accused in the past that my life might not be as awesome as I portray it to be on Facebook, my blog, or other internet locales, but you can go to sleep tonight knowing that I really am excited about my life every single day, and I am willing to show you why! Life really doesn't have to be difficult. With only a few small changes in your lifestyle you can see dramatic changes in your happiness as well. We all are constantly bombarded with these before and after pictures of people who have transformed their unfit bodies into great physical shape, but what's a healthy body without a healthy mind? If you absolutely hated the year it took you to loose all the weight, do you think it is going to stay off? Are you going to continue to hate your fitness program for your entire life? I say you should work on the mind first, and the body will follow. Start by surrounding yourself with positive thoughts, people, books, and anything that makes you mentally happy. That is the first step in the long road to perpetual happiness. Believe me, at times I do get bored, too. When that happens I decide what to do, and I go do it. It's that simple. There are entire weekends that I do nothing but sleep, but it's okay because it's what I wanted to do. Time spent doing what you want to do is not time wasted. I have weekends where I do nothing but sleep because then I have weekends that I take road trips across the foreign country I am in exploring new places and seeing new things. Then the next weekend it may be off on a plane to another country simply to do an extreme hike, such as Mount Hua Shin in China. The point is that your life is up to you. You have only one life to live and if you do it right, then one is all you'll need. Take control of your life and you will never regret it.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The magic key to happiness? Choice.

Whether we have been asked this question of what we would like to someday be, or not, it is usually a passing thought for many of us well up into our adulthood. The world puts such a heavy emphasis on figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life by the time you are 18, so then you can begin your college years of accumulating debt to become what you believe you want to be at an inexperienced age. Often the reasoning of becoming doctors and lawyers is because they are high paying jobs and always in demand. Shouldn't the reason be because they are positions in society that can help others in times of need? They can help right the wrongs of the world? Wouldn't that be a more humanitarian answer to why you choose to pursue such a profession? John Lennon stated that he wanted to be "happy", and that is a direct reflection of most of the world. Teachers want to be happy. Volunteers, Doctors, and Lawyers too. Even religious zealots and terrorists want to be happy. I will admit they have a different idea of how to achieve happiness, but in the end they are still fighting for something they believe in because this idea they believe in makes them happy. We all fight for our happiness is some way or another. My answer to finding happiness is simple. The answer is having choices.
Choices are around you every single second of the day. You have simple choices that you make every single split second of your hectic days. These are choices that are, more often that not, done by autopilot on your brain. The choices that lead to happiness are larger choices. They are the choices that we consciously have to make to stay on track to having perpetual happiness throughout our life journey. I really started to understand the freedom and happiness that comes with choices when I lived in the United Arab Emirates and Bangkok, Thailand. Many universities that have international faculty will provide transportation to and from the university since foreigners will need to go through a process to obtain a license and vehicle legally in a foreign country. Many times due to personal financial difficulties some faculty simply cannot afford a personal vehicle. I was asked in each county on two individual times why I was using the provided transportation when I had my own personal transportation. It didn't seem strange to me at all, but when I looked at it from their point of view it became more obvious. The person who was forced to take the public transportation because they couldn't afford their own vehicle couldn't understand why I would still take the public transportation at times when I had my own vehicle. They had no choice but to take the provided transportation and they yearned for the choice to be able to take their own vehicle, if only they could afford it. Since I had the choice of which transportation to take, it didn't bother me to take the provided transportation on days that I was tired, the van schedule matched my personal schedule, or when I simply didn't feel like dealing with traffic. So ultimately having the choice of which transportation to take led to a greater happiness. 

Choices are different for everyone, but ultimately I think we can agree that money can buy choices. I have been traveling extensively since 2007, and having money has led to many doors of opportunity to open up for me to make a choice on which one to enter. Don't get me wrong, I worked normal jobs like everyone else, but I made the choice to work jobs that allowed me 2-3 months off a year to travel. I also made the choice to have jobs that pay enough income in the 9-10 months of working to enjoy that much time off. If your job is not in line with your personal goals outside of the job then you may consider making a change. My jobs were no longer in line with how I wanted to travel, so most of you know I made the change to where I get paid to travel, explore new countries, and meet people, rather than having to pay myself to do these things. I jumped the fence and now I enjoy receiving the money to follow my dreams rather than paying to follow them. Another financial choice is to not waste money every weekend and living paycheck to paycheck, but rather to live simply in daily life to create savings for the big purchases such as plane tickets, hostels, and global activities in any given foreign country. People that want that designer handbag or sunglasses are often unaware that for the same cost or less you could have a week vacation in a foreign land creating memories that will enrich you and make you become a better person. Again, having the choice of things to do with a lump sum of money is more important that overpriced Mochas every morning before work.
The third choice you may also have to lend towards your happiness is the choice to be sensitive about what matters. My first day in a new class I was teaching I asked my Russian student if he would be upset at me if I said something bad about his mom. Of course his immediate answer was a resounding YES! I asked him to hear me out though. The conversation went something like this:

Dustin: Would you be mad at me if I said something bad about your mom?
Russian student: Yes!
Dustin: Do I know your mom?
Russian student: No.
Dustin: So why would I want to say something bad about your mom?
Russian student: I dunno, maybe to make me mad.
Dustin: Exactly, my intent would be to make you mad, but you have the choice to let me win or not.
Russian student: But if you say anything about my mom I would be mad.
Dustin: What does what I say matter if I have never met your mother, or know anything about her?
Russian student: I don't let anyone talk about my mom.
Dustin: So knowing that I would say something like that only to make you mad, you are willing to give up your happiness and let me win, although I know nothing about your mother and my words don't hold any value because of that?
Russian student: *has to now think if his happiness is worth giving up now that he understands the situation more.......

The way you react to everything in life that is thrown at you on a daily basis is up to you. You can choose to be happy and realize that it is your choice to care about what actually matters. If Miley Cyrus is a bit to racy in her video, I can guarantee you this is not worth losing your happiness over. Change the station, problem solved. This is definitely a topic not worth being sensitive over.  If someone uses the incorrect grammatical use of the word to, too, or two on their internet post, I can also tell you that it is, in fact, not the end of the world. It doesn't really actually matter if they misspelled a word here and there. As long as you get the message they tried to portray then that is what matters. Sensitivity should be used in a productive matter of changing the world for the better.
To determine what matters and what you should actually care about, throw out the microscope and take out the telescope. Some people choose to get so angry about such small issues every day to the point that it effects their health. Are you mad the Starbuck's employee spelled your name wrong on your coffee? Are you mad that the person in the lane next to you is cutting you off and you have made it your daily goal to just not let them in because they didn't use their blinker soon enough? Now, take a step back and look at the world as a whole. What you should choose to worry about is the segregation of the human species based on job titles, nationalities, and borders. How is it that we have enough food to feed the world, yet people starve daily because they can't afford the food we are selling. Is money more important than life? These are things to worry about. Why is it the war machine of America continues to rage on like it has for over 200 years of America's existence and we act like this is just the way the world works. I can tell you first hand that wherever I travel that people don't want war. People don't want hate crimes. They want acceptance of their ideas and to have the freedom to live how they want within their own beliefs on a wide range of topics. So now you have the choice to decide how to do this. I totally get it that the easier solution is to get mad and correct the Starbucks employee on the spelling of your name every single day you go there, but really the world needs each and every on of us to lend a hand in tackling the global issues. I say start with yourself. Be the change you want to see. You want the terrorist to understand your struggles in life, then understand theirs. We are all fighting for something in one way or another. Some shoot with heavy weaponry while others kill with heavy words. The choice is yours. How do we make a change in our world?
So, in the end, the choice is yours to maintaining your happiness. Live your life so you have more and more choices available to you. The more choices you have as solutions to any problems will allow you to never stop moving forward. Whenever a problem presents itself, choose the best solutions that you have created for yourself and go with it. If it doesn't work out, then make the next choice and try again. Life is as simple as that.

Monday, June 9, 2014

SUCCESS: Redefined

 WHO you are is more important than WHAT you are.

A life worth living is a life that is lived by your own rules. We are raised with advice and guidance from our parents, but there is also much to be learned simply throwing yourself out of your own comfort zone .
This is where you find who you really are, not what society says you are.

From a very early age we are always asked, "WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?" This seems like such an innocent enough question, and more often than not we receive some very colorful answers ranging from an astronaut, a doctor, a veterinarian, to an actor, sports star, or singer! From a young age we are taught that certain jobs are considered more successful than others as well as certain job titles hold more value in society than others, and in these titles you will find yourself as a person.

The problem with this ideology is that you find self worth and value in yourself based on societal views of what "success" is. It is obvious that a 5 year old doesn't know enough of their likes and dislikes to decide what they want to spend a good portion of their life workin as, but that's the beauty of a child's innocence. They are creative and still know that they can truly be anything they want in life. This is a trait that many adults seem to forget over time. Even when a child turns 18 and is ready to go off to college to earn that degree towards their dream job they are still generally unaware of what they want to spend that much time of their lives doing, yet they choose a degree path and head down that road with little practical knowledge of the outcome.

Now, if we instead asked the question, "WHO do you want to be when you grow up?", it would warrant much more authentic answers. I think most would agree that we want to be happy. We want to be part of something greater than ourselves and give back to humanity. We want to just be an overall good person. Now, how can we accomplish these things? First off, think about the lifestyle you want to have. Then figure out the time frame you want to achieve those goals in. Now look for any type of job that will fulfill the financial requirements to achieve your goal in the proper time frame. You will realize that having a fancy job title is meaningless when you aren't able to leave that title behind to persue your own goals of travel, health, education, or the endless persuit of self developent. You may feel important within your office, but when you step outside the rest of the world doesn't care if you're a manager or not. They care if you are a good person.

Let me give you two extreme examples of success. You can decide what is success truly, and which person you'd rather be.

Some would say this type of person is successful. A person that works 40+ hours a week often with much more overtime. Their health declines in direct relation to the hours spent at their work increasing. They have a fancy title at their job, they have a good size home, new cars, maybe some toys like a motocycle or jet skii's, and they even have a few name brand clothing and jewelry items to show off to everyone that they can afford these things because of all the hours put in at work in their nicely titled position. They are living the good life full of material possessions. Their entire life socially and financially revolves around maintaining that job. If the job is lost, their world crumbles.

Some would say this type of person is successful. A person may work 40 hours a week, or maybe sometimes more or sometimes less depending on their current goals of what next adventure they are trying to finance. They are generally in overall good health because the next adventure often requires some minimal level of fitness, because the great world that lies beyond their doorstep is full of hills, oceans, mountains, and trails to enjoy. They own very little belongings because not much is needed when you are traveling the world in search of adventure. Jet skii's can be rented to cruise the beaches of Thailand, as well as ATV's are much cheaper to rent to explore the rainforests of Costa Rica. The costs of a daily Starbucks coffee is saved and used towards their next airline ticket for this type of person. This type of person may rarely work a full time job, but stretches their part time money to constantly be learning about themselves through interaction in unfamiliar situations all around the world. They may have even saved up enough money to put a down payment on a home to rent out while they explore. This person also doesn't worry about the small things that create drama in a stagnant lifestyle, because they are never in one place long enough to allow drama in their lives. To this person a fancy job title is nothing of a status symbol or validation of self. They don't care what kind of work they do, as long as it allows them to invest for their future all the while continuing on in their accomplishment of their personal goals. They heavily concentrate on doing what's right and treating people of all cultures with mutual respect as human beings. They may even have authority issues because they truly know that a title doesn't give you respect. Being a respectful person gains you respect.

So, what defines "success" to you?

I decided at a young age that I didn't care what job I did, I just knew what sortof lifestyle I wanted to have. I have no problem cleaning up a homeless man that crapped himself just to get a free shower (true story) if it means I get to live in Hawaii. I have no problem being a dishwasher in a restaurant if it buys my airplane ticket to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos for a three month stint volunteering and vacationing in exotic locations (true story, as well). I also had no problem being a CEO by starting my own startup company and charity (yet again, true story). So in the end, the question was not WHAT did I want to be when I grew up, but instead it was WHO did I want to be. I wanted to be a good person. I wanted to spread love around the world. I wanted to make a difference in others lives. I've worked in film and television, restaurants, teaching, videography, security, military, hospitals, catering, bartending, and many other fields of work that simply got me to my next goal. Titles are meaningless, but being a good person is what matters.

When you die, do you want to be remembered as a manager, or do you want to be remembered as a good person that contributed to humanity and made a positive difference in others lives?

The choice is yours.