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This life is an incredible gift, it is essential to treat each day with reverence. I encourage those around me to discover and orient to their unique gift. Devote themselves to pursue it, sharpen it as a tool, and serve the world. 

However, nothing ever happens outside of the present moment. Your purpose is being lived out while you read this word. The first step is to bring your purpose-driven attention to the present moment. 

If your aspiration is to become an artist, then embrace the act of creating art in the present moment. Alternatively, if your circumstances require you to attend to other responsibilities first, do so with the understanding that each action contributes to your journey towards realizing your aspirations. By tending to our current obligations mindfully, we pave the way for a future where we can pursue our passions more freely.

Making decisions is a potent tool to unburden your mind and relieve the weight on your shoulders. It is also a profound signal to both others and the universe that you are prepared to embrace everything that follows.

The suffix '-cide,' present in words like 'pesticide,' 'homicide,' and even 'DECIDE,' originates from the Latin word '-cida,' meaning "killer," or 'caedere,' meaning "to kill." I like to interpret 'decide' as "to eliminate other options." Killing, the act of taking a life, is one of the most powerful actions one can undertake in the world. When you decide, the universe takes notice; it's a bold proclamation.

No wonder making decisions often feels so daunting. We fear making the wrong choice, eliminating a worthwhile option. Even when our gut and heart strongly indicate the right path, we often get entangled in our minds. We procrastinate, keeping the decision tucked away in our thoughts. Sometimes, it's a decision that gnaws at us.

However, over the years, I've come to realize that the feeling in my stomach and chest is my intuition, and it is infallibly wise.

Here's a quote from "The Alchemist" that resonates with me:

“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

The Alchemist goes on to say:

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”

It's time to make a decision. The suffering caused by worrying about making the wrong choice is far worse than any actual outcome. Embrace it and live the life your heart desires, the life that brings you the most joy.

If you're still not convinced and find yourself hesitant about making a decision, I have a framework that might ease your concerns. I call it "making decisions, one week at a time." When faced with a decision, listen to your heart and choose what feels right—for just one week. Test-drive the decision, and if it doesn't feel right, you can reverse it. It's like having a free return policy.

Costco offers a robust return policy, advertised as a "Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee." Some even say "unlimited returns, no questions asked." This policy not only attracts customers but also eliminates the fear of making impulse purchases. Shoppers no longer worry about making the wrong choice because they can easily return the item, no questions asked.

When we detach finality from a decision, it helps ease our minds.

I learned this lesson from a personal experience. I met my wife, Kim, just a few months before the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. As lockdowns loomed, we were becoming close but were unsure about living together. So, I suggested we rent an Airbnb for a week, with separate beds but under the same roof. She loved the idea. We traveled from San

Diego to St. George, Utah, to stay in a ranch house for a week. We made the decision based on our intuition and what our hearts desired most. The week was filled with ups and downs but also memorable moments, like midday waffle parties and long canal walks. Toward the end of the week, we asked each other if we wanted to continue, and we both said yes. This pattern continued, evolving from one week to two, then a six-month plan, and eventually, a trans-Pacific move leading to a lifelong commitment. I was certain she was the one I wanted to spend more time with, but I wasn't sure about living together. Taking it one week at a time allowed us to say 'yes' at each step of our relationship.

Finding a way to make decisions for a week isn't always obvious. Many decisions come with finality, but creativity can come to the rescue.

One of my clients is currently deciding where to live. He owns houses in three different cities, each with its own benefits. However, he's ready to establish roots and become a part of a community. During our conversation, it became apparent that he was spending most of his time in one of the houses, while the other two felt like a thing of the past. He also seemed more enthusiastic when talking about the one house. I suggested that he decide to call that place "home" for a week. He was to embrace it, observe how his heart and body responded to this decision, and see if it felt right. After a week, when we reconvened, he could choose to stick with it or make adjustments.

He seemed relieved by the idea, grateful for the ability to make a decision without the weight of finality hanging over him.

Life is filled with complex choices and uncertainty. The power of decision-making stands as a beacon of clarity and growth. By embracing the concept of making decisions one week at a time, we free ourselves from the shackles of fear and hesitation. Just like Costco's no-questions-asked return policy, this approach allows us to test-drive our choices, knowing that we can pivot if needed. Ultimately, it's not about making the perfect decision every time; it's about taking bold steps, listening to our hearts, and living life in alignment with our deepest desires.

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Eight years ago, I picked up a book that would leave a lasting impression on me. It was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and as I delved into its pages, I found myself captivated by the story and somewhat envious of the main character. The narrative I remembered was simple: a shepherd meets a wise king who guides him towards his destiny.

In my twenties, I yearned for that kind of guidance, to encounter a mentor who possessed all the answers and could tell me what to do to live my most fulfilling and purposeful life. Little did I know that this book would take on new meaning for me in the years to come.

As I prepared for Mindfulness Month, and exploring the question of "What Is My Dharma?" I decided to revisit The Alchemist. My curiosity was piqued once again, particularly about the secret knowledge the boy gleaned from his guide. This time around, I discovered something different.

Let me frame the story of The Alchemist for you:

In the southern region of Spain, there lived a young boy who chose to become a shepherd because he craved adventure. As a shepherd, he cherished his simple life, spending his days wandering with his sheep, forming a deep connection with them, and even adopting their sleep schedule. He was diligent in caring for his flock, always keenly aware of his surroundings, even identifying signs of water through the types of plants he encountered. At night, he slept under the expansive sky, with only a jacket, a book, and his sheep for company.

This shepherd had a recurring dream, one that portrayed a scene of him discovering treasure buried in the desert. Intrigued by the repetition of this dream, he remained open to finding answers. It was during this time that guides appeared, one of whom took the form of a cloaked king.

Yet, the guidance the king offered wasn't as direct as I had initially remembered. Instead, it was rather vague, but profoundly encouraging. 

He said:

"Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen in their lives."

He continued:

"To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation," 

And shared my favorite line: 

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." 

The king went on to explain that the universe communicates with us through omens. These signs are everywhere and we just need to learn to see them and read them.

As I reflect on this story, I can't help but notice the shepherd's daily practice. He wasn’t caught up with computer work, not constantly checking his phone or snacking on Costco muffins (as I have been lately). He walked, he remained open and aware of his environment, he paid attention to signs and to his dreams. He had a consistent practice that supported his open awareness. 

I now feel deeply committed to living out my dharma and aligning my entire life with that realization. Reading this text again feels like the inspiration I needed to fully devote myself to practice. I am ready to discard habits that distract me from my embodied experience and limit my connection to my path. 

When I look back on moments in my life when I felt deeply connected and open, I realize that certain habits were consistently present. For me, they include sitting in meditation, incorporating cardio through running and swimming, maintaining a regular yoga practice, consuming plenty of vegetables and less meat and sugar, tending fires, and sleeping outdoors. And coincidentally, I have sheep that I get to care for.

I wholeheartedly embrace what the King conveyed to the shepherd and carry it close to my heart. It feels incredibly important right now, as I embark on this journey of rediscovering my dharma.

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