Each year I prepare a customized card which I create myself and send it to 1,000 of my clients, friends and associates as my reflection and thoughts of the year past, and to give them “En-courage-ment” for the year ahead. The following is my 2022 message.
Accountonus – 2022 Annual Holiday Letter – Do your “Dō”
Dear Clients, Friends, and Associates, 12/31/2022
With the start of every new year, we reflect on the year past, consider the things that need to change in our lives and the goals that we want to set for the coming year. It is quite normal to make a New Year’s Resolution to change our negative patterns so that we can be “Happier” and more “Fulfilled”. However, when pondering our future, how clear is our vision, and through what lens are we viewing life? Am I seeing things as they really are, or am I fooling myself and do I “see the world through rose-colored glasses”?
“If you don’t know where you are going, any Path will take you there.” Having a Virtuous Life Mission and Purpose is essential to building a meaningful life. In Japanese traditional arts, the kanji “Dō” (道) means “Path” or “Way”. The term Budō (武道) is used for Japanese martial arts- Kendō (剣道), Judō (柔道), Karatedō (空手道), Kyudō(弓道), and Aikidō 合氣道. It is through a determined, consistent, and focused study of these arts that one can find “Dō” and attain Peace of Mind and Tranquility within our core spirit so we can see the road ahead clearly and are capable to navigate the rough seas of Life with Compassion, Ethical Discipline, Patience, Consistency, Concentration and Wisdom. It is through the eyes of Loving Kindness that our vision is 20/20.
For me, the guiding light in life has been Budō. Through acetic training of the Mind/Spirit/Character, the Techniques, and the Body (Shin, Gi, Tai – 心技体) we polish ourselves to become strong, Kind, and capable citizens of good character dedicated to a lifetime of service to society. There is a reason God put us here on Earth, and it is our lifelong search to discover “who is the person we are supposed to be” and “what is it that we are supposed to do” to serve this Mission. The “Path” is a physical journey exposing us to many people, places, and things. But most importantly it is a journey within to find our “True Self” and looking honestly in the mirror to polish the diamond in the rough to uncover the brilliant light of Love and Kindness that burns in the heart of all human beings. The “Heart Muscle” is the hardest muscle to build.
It is difficult to see ourselves and to love ourselves as we are, accepting all the bad along with the good. We live in a society where our identity is defined by what others think about us. The tendency is to search for “Happiness” from the “Outside in” and not from the “Inside out”. What can I get to bring Happiness into me? vs. How can I develop Happiness within myself and share it with others? Being constantly worried about our public image, we become brainwashed to feel so desperate to fit in and to be accepted. Our fears, poor self-image, and lack of confidence twists our view of fulfillment and happiness such that we measure who we are by external factors and others’ opinions about us, and not our own view of ourselves from within. We put on appearances and behavior on the outside so that we are not criticized and, like a drug addict needing another “fix”, we constantly hunger to receive praise and validation. Our hearts are like a bucket with a hole at the bottom. No matter how much praise we pour into it, the bucket can never be filled. We allow the external world to measure our self-worth, and we lose our ability to measure our own self-worth by our independent assessment of ourselves. The world needs to change, and we need to find a healthy way to feel comfortable inside or our own skin.
The Dalai Lama wrote:
“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. Peace starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace within ourselves.”
The 5 Hindrances of Strong Likes, Strong Dislikes, Laziness, Restlessness and Doubt stop us from going outside our “Comfort Zones” and expressing our True Self. We become trapped by our own fears and find a safe place to hide rather than to open the door of transformation to an unknown, but potentially brighter future. We all need work to improve ourselves. How do I go about transforming my life and opening the door to go “Outside the Box” to find myself and to find True Happiness and Peace of Mind?
17th Century French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” It is not easy to sit alone when there is so much noise in our heads. I started meditating and doing my Qi Gong exercises 18 years ago, waking early every morning before dawn and being with myself for 1 ½ hours in deep introspection. It is my ritual to start the day by grounding myself in the present moment and to fill my spirit with Loving Kindness. In our fast-paced world, it is easy to become consumed by external factors and corrupted by the mental poisons that we allow to live deep within us. Like a cancer, this darkness can grow and eventually consume our soul, robbing us of our “Happiness”, “Peace of Mind”, and “Freedom from Suffering”.
“The Chatter of the Mind”. We all have a friend who sits on our shoulder with whom we have an ongoing conversation. But this friend is not really our friend. It is the voice in the back of our head that is constantly pulling us down; conditioning us to believe that we are not good enough, not worthy, and cultivating doubt in our mind as to who we really are, who we could become, and to drive us away from the path to true happiness. It is the “Chatter of the Mind” that is constantly beating down on us and if we are not able to control it, it will control us. The normal reaction is to find distractions to keep us away from all this chatter. But as soon as we sit quietly, alone within ourselves, the chatter becomes so loud that we can’t hear ourselves think. The peace that lies deep within us is disrupted, and we become like boats tossed around in a raging sea.
How can we overcome the Chatter of the Mind? Do we push it away? Block it out? It seems like the more I try to avoid it, the louder it gets. The answer is to look at it and to understand it. See what is behind it and look deeper within yourself to find the answer. We all have insecurities, fears, and bad experiences that have left scars. Rather than getting stuck and victimizing ourselves, we can learn from these experiences, and develop wisdom and understanding. We can heal ourselves and in doing so the dark clouds will part. The light within us will shine brighter and the voice on our shoulder becomes quieter and less bothersome.
“Knowing is Doing”. Dreams without goals and taking action are just dreams that will eventually fuel disappointment and despair. Regret comes from the things we dreamed of but did not do. Having courage to pursue our “Dō” and becoming the best version of ourselves to serve our Life Mission is the path to a fulfilling and satisfying life. However, making change happen is not an easy task when the walls of resistance we built over the years have become so thick. To create lasting change the following recommended process:
1. Acknowledge: Get out of “Denial” and admit that something is not working.
2. Accept: Surrender to the fact that change is necessary to grow and evolve.
3. Refrain from justifying, blaming yourself, others, circumstances, etc.: Don’t point the finger. Realize that when you do that 3 fingers are pointing back at you. Take responsibility for the problem. Take responsibility for your life!
4. Correct/Amend: Get out of “Victim Mode” and get into “Solution Mode”. Take action by doing your best with what you have to work with. Change what you can change. Accept what you cannot change. And develop the understanding to be at peace with whatever happens. Doing your best is the best that can be done under the circumstances. If you did your best, you must accept the result of your efforts with dignity and grace and be at Peace. This step requires us to transform Guilt (a mental poison) into Remorse which is solution oriented: “This is what I went through in order to understand and know what I need to do now!” Life will throw us 90% lemons and 10% sugar. The bulk of our life’s work is turning lemons into lemonade. “The Path to Success is through Failure”, and so expect to be knocked down many times on the way up the Mountain of Life. It is not so important how you got knocked down, but it is what you make of it that makes all the difference.
5. Reflect: This last step allows us to remember the process we went through, to save it into our memory, and to be able to call on this wisdom the next time this problem arises again. The more it comes up and we deal with problems this way, the better we get at handling life’s up and downs.
We must be clear about our life mission, and pursue it with all our best intentions, knowing that things will get in the way during this process. However, this should not stop us, and we should keep moving forward as best we can, for the sake of Happiness and Peace of Mind not just ourselves but to wish this loving kindness on all others.
As we look within and deepen our self-awareness, the person that God meant us to be emerges, and we discover the “Real Meaning of Life” and our “Life Mission”. It is at that point that we discover “Dō” (道): our “True-Life Path”, grounded in Love and Compassion, serving a Higher Cause, and striving to become the best version of the person that God meant us to be. Having a meaningful life means having “Dō” and pursuing it by always “Doing our Best”, giving all that we have to give, and “Being All In”.
As you sit quietly reading this letter, I offer these words of comfort and peace from our Loving Kindness Meditation:
May I be safe and protected from inner and outer harm;
May I be truly happy and deeply peaceful;
May I accept myself, my true nature, and my life exactly as it is;
May I be truly the person I was born to be;
May I know the true purpose of my life and align all my thoughts, my words, and my
actions with that purpose;
May I be free from greed and toxic attachments;
May I be free from aversion, avoidance, anger, and hatred;
May I be free from laziness and restlessness;
May I be free from doubt, hesitation and ignorance and all other mental poisons such as jealousy, guilt, fear, and anxiety, as well as disturbing emotions that only bring disappointment and suffering to myself and others, therefore preventing me from seeing things the way they are and keeping me distracted from my true purpose.
May I accept life as it comes, being grounded in Love and Compassion, changing what I can for the better, accepting that which I cannot change, and having the Wisdom to understand the difference.
May I develop myself as a human being of good character, being both strong and kind, and becoming the best version of myself to serve society and make the world a better place.
I promise to pursue this mission for my own Peace of Mind and for the benefit of all society.
As I close out my letter to you, I want to share my thoughts from my recent training. I start each year with Kangeiko. It is a Japanese Martial tradition of sleeping at the dojo and waking up for early morning training before going to work. It is a week-long event which helps me to clear my soul and to start the year with a sharp mind and determined spirit. On the last day, I was awakened in the middle of the night with these words. These kinds of thoughts often come to me this way, and I must write it down before I forget it:
“It takes courage to overcome our fears and awaken the demons within us. It is easier to let the cancer of “Denial” slowly consume us. We must slay these demons in order to find salvation and freedom from the self-imposed prison we built around us to which we ironically hold the key. Life is a battlefield. The weapon to win this battle is our Laser Light Saber of Love and Compassion. Kill Godzilla with Kindness! Let go of the dark clouds that follow you and let the warm sun and blue skies nourish your soul. Become the Lighthouse to guide the young ships lost at sea and enrich their lives with the greatest gift you can offer them, the gift of “En-Courage-ment”. “In-Depend-ence” and being comfortable becoming the person that God meant us to be gives us the Inner Peace and calm waters to see clearly in the midst of the Storm of Life. Be your own person and have the “Courage to be Disliked” (Ichiro Kishimi).
Do your “Dō”(道)!
With my Fondest Aloha,