I am inspired and energized by an ex-convict in dreadlocks named Shaka. From constant solitary confinement and other results of trouble in prison to MIT Media Lab fellow, Shaka tells me we CAN plan for the best life we want.
Research shows that empowerment promotes health and lack of power is a broad based risk factor for disease (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10146784). A review of studies finds empowerment to be associated with well-being and health (http://www.altogetherbetter.org.uk/SharedFiles/Download.aspx?pageid=4&mid=112&fileid). If we need an excuse to claim our lives on our terms, these findings provide it
So, today I am sharing Shaka’s self plan to keep moving toward his best life.
Shaka says his best tactics, ones he continues to use today, are:
• Look outside yourself. “Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself clearly. It’s easier to get caught in the emotional side. At those moments, if you look to other people in similar situations and see how they handled it, you can be in a more cerebral state and make more logical decisions.”
• Recognize what’s most important to you. “I put things on a scale in terms of what they mean emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When we react in the moment, it helps to do a comparative analysis in your mind to conclude what are the things that are most valuable. Do I spend that last $100 on what I think I want, or in a way that has value in my life experience?”
• Surround yourself with people who will keep you honest. “This is usually the toughest for most people. We like for people to tell us what we want to hear. I’m afraid of those people. I want to hear what I need to hear from a person whose core values I trust.
“You have to be clear to people about what you want to get out of life and how they can support you in it.”
• Meditate. “I started to seriously meditate around 2000 in solitary confinement. One of the things I love is it made me embrace the negative thoughts. Instead of acting like they don’t exist, recognize they are your thoughts, let them run their cycle, then affirm with positive thoughts. You don’t have to sit on the beach with crossed legs to do it. You can do it while you walk. I have a running narrative in my head that helps me figure out what makes the most sense at the end of the day.”
• Understand your triggers. “In life you will have patterns of negative thinking. If you can recognize that in yourself and how it spirals out of control, you can put yourself back on the path.
“Typically, one thing goes wrong and people start reflecting on everything that goes wrong. It creates a whole cycle, and if you don’t have anything to break out of that, you become a victim of your own thinking.”
• Be mindful of the messages you hear. “We take in so much information in our day-to-day lives. A lot of times, we don’t stop to challenge that information. All of it is some form of messaging. I am conscious of the music I listen to, the people I’m with, what I watch. If you subconsciously listen to music, you may not realize what is feeding into your spirit.”
That is Shaka’s message, to himself and to the world: “No one cares if your mama is on the main strip selling her body right now. No one cares what you have to do to make your life. Take the excuses off the table.”
(citation is http://unstuckcommunity.tumblr.com/post/57791607469/how-to-break-the-negativity-loop-a-true-story-of)