Happy Thanksgiving

I can’t think of a holiday I enjoy more than Thanksgiving.  Sure, it’s an eating orgy, and everything we eat can be considered comfort food, from stuffing, to mashed potatoes, to turkey, roasts, corn casseroles, etc.  There is no salad and no soup on Thanksgiving.  It’s a waste of stomach space.  I don’t even drink beer, which I love, because I don’t want to use any stomach real estate for that.  People come home for Thanksgiving.  No one wants to be away from their family on this holiday.  That’s why it’s the most travelled holiday.  All these reasons on their own would make this anyone’s favorite holiday.  But for me it’s not the main reason.

I was shopping in Costco two days before the holiday and met a fellow Dunkin Donut franchisee shopping there for Thanksgiving.  Being that he is a Muslim I was surprised at first that he celebrates the holiday.  He told me he has 45 people coming to his house and his shopping cart proved it.  The fact that we both celebrated Thanksgiving made me feel good inside.  During these times of terrorism fears, and the terrorism being so based on Western vs. Middle Eastern differences it gave me a good feeling to know that we had this in common.  I love universal concepts.  Things that show our similarities.

There is a universally good feeling on this day.  No one is excluded from giving thanks.  It’s not religious based at all.  Of course if you look on Facebook you will see pictures of Jesus giving thanks, but this holiday is not exclusive to Christians.  It’s more spiritual than Christmas because even in our consumerist society we don’t really have anything commercial tied to Thanksgiving except for food.  (Of course, the lack of consumerism for even a few days explodes into Black Friday the very next day) Everyone is included for Thanksgiving.  Deepak Chopra says that gratitude is the gateway to your true self which is where your perfection lies.  That’s why I try to celebrate Thanksgiving every day.


Looking at Life Backwards; Do people really want to be happy?

I find that many people look at life backwards.  With the choices that people are always in a position to make, they seem to choose the opposite of what will make them happy.  It’s a habit which they can’t help.  They have been trained to be unhappy.

I think the main reason why people act this way is that they don’t think of what they have but of what they want or what they think is missing in their lives.  Also people don’t tend to think of the moment they are in, but the future they desire.  These two things are tied together.  If you mostly think of the future then you cannot enjoy the present and what you have in the present.  The future is full of our desires.  So when we don’t live in the moment we cannot appreciate what we have.  Why do we do this?  Why do we only think of what we want, and rarely appreciate what we have?  I believe the reason is because we gravitate towards unhappiness.  Crazy as it seems deep down inside, our egos rather be unhappy.  We think we strive for happiness but when we look at it closely it doesn’t really look that way.  If happiness=appreciation, and unhappiness=wanting what we don’t have, then you would imagine we would be more appreciative and less desirous.  Well one reason why we’d rather be unhappy, I believe, is because our ego likes unhappiness.  When we are unhappy we get more attention from others.  “Why are you so sad?”  “What’s wrong?” “Can I do something for you?”  On the other hand how many people are jealous of those who are happy?  If most people are unhappy, then it stands to reason that they will envy those that are happy.  Who gives attention to a happy person?  It’s a rare friend who truly feels and shows joy for us being happy.  It doesn’t sound very nice, but I believe there is much truth in this.

When I say happy, I mean happy in the moment.  Our culture (which created our egos) thinks that we need to plan everything we do.  To make sure everything we do works out right, is done correctly, and is maximized.  To do that we need to think in terms of the future and we do that all the time.  I’ll be happy if I get my bonus.  I’ll be happy if my daughter gets accepted to the college of her choice.  I’ll be happy when I meet the man of my dreams.  Don Miguel Ruiz says that one of the Four Agreements you should make with yourself is to “Do your best.”  If you always do your best then you don’t need to think anything more about the future.  Just set your intention towards what you want, and get on the path to that goal, and do your best.  You don’t need to obsess over your goal.  Obsession doesn’t accomplish anything but waste energy and give us bad emotional feelings. You cannot do anything more than setting the goal and doing your best.  The rest of the time your thoughts can be “in the moment”,  enjoying and appreciating what you have, reflecting love towards everything in your life, and just being at peace.  That is happiness.  And that leads me to the next part of happiness.  Our culture believes that happiness comes from outside of us.  Possessions will make me happy.   Meeting the right person will make me happy.  If my children or my partner is happy I will be happy.  I think that is an insane belief.  If only that which is outside ourselves will make us happy, then losing any of those things can make us unhappy.  We would be in a position where anything outside ourselves can be lost or taken away.  However, if we can find happiness within ourselves, dependent on no one or no thing, then we can always be happy.  And that is the way it was meant to be.  Why would the universe want it any other way?  Healthy newborns are born happy.  Before socialization, unless they are hungry or in pain children are almost always happy.

So I feel that if we live in the moment, appreciate all that we have, and set an intention for all we want then we will be happy and at peace.  It has been good direction for me to follow.  My happiness in life started at the point I stopped looking at life backwards.  And a funny thing happened.  I started to receive more of those outside things like financial success, familial success, and personal, and consistent peace.


There are so many shapes and sizes of religions.  From all the many Christian religions, to Judaism, to Moslem religions, and beyond they all have something in common.  Most important for me to have understood is that they believe that happiness, and all goodness comes from outside of ourselves.  It comes from God.  From praying to God, from acknowledging God, from the interactions between us and God’s messengers on earth (such as priests, rabbis,imans etc) and from following the tenets of God.  For me that was the first clue that religion did not have the answers.  It is just so logical to me to believe that happiness comes from within each of us individually, without any help from anything or anyone other than the awareness within ourselves that this is true.    If I believe in a certain religion, and I have faith that this religion is correct than that intrinsically means that I am separate from any “non-believers”.   It creates a division between people and that leads to competition, alienation, and as we are seeing now the aggressive behaviors between the different groups and their beliefs.  Certainly we all “know” that we are all of the same beginning, and universally we are all the same.  Our differences were taught to us.  We were domesticated from the first second we were born, and it continues to this day.  Who believes that babies are born with hate, anger, jealousy, desire for fancy things, or desire to have more toys than all the other babies?

Humans are born all the same.

Great ancient sages such as Buddha, and Lao Tze understood this and said that to get out of this domestication “fog” you need to find your true self, and they discovered this can be achieved through meditation.  That’s it!  That is the basis of their “religions”.  No need for rules that need to be followed for the sake of feeling spiritual, and no need for the concepts of heaven and hell, golden chalices, fancy cathedrals and synagogues, building funds, the purchasing of tickets to be able to attend and pray, picking a man to make all decisions for hundreds of  millions of others (the pope),  and no need to be “ the right religion, which makes us separate from all others.

I believe that we all live in a fog, having lost the understanding of who we are.  We have been domesticated by all our cultural foundations such as family, government,  religions,  teachers,  advertising, and all the  controlling structures of our society.  The domestication started in the beginning and continues today.  The common thread throughout the continuum of humanity is religion.  It has always been the major influence to people and yet it just doesn’t work or make any sense.  It just is a mechanism to control us.

We don’t need religion to make us moral.  There are natural rules such as the universal good of not hurting others, and the positive vibes created by spreading love that give us everything we need. The world for the most part has got it wrong.  I believe that we can get it right eventually, and that takes developing awareness one person at a time.  I am starting with myself.

These are my thoughts on religion.

Fathers Day 2015

Dear Dad

Happy Father Day.

I know it’s been a while.  It’s been over 5 years since you left.  I have not visited you since you died.  I always had ambivalent feelings about our relationship when you were here and so I never really felt the urge to go to the cemetery.  I would say that I never really think about you but then I realize that it’s not true.

Every day when I look in the mirror I see your face and that reminds me of what you looked like.

Every time I speak to my kids I hear your voice, not mine, so that reminds me of how you sounded.

Every time I feel like I am going to over react to some stressful situation, I think of the story of the man and the jack, and so I calm down.

Every time someone tells me that I am a laid back guy I think of you and thank you for that.

I guess in many ways while we didn’t communicate so well, and lost so much that we could have had, there is so much that still remains of you.

Thank you Dad.   I love you.   Alan



I believe that we are connected to the universe in many ways.  The universe (all that is) communicates with us.  To understand that communication we need to get past our ego (mind) and stop its incessant chatter.    I do this with meditation.  So if we learn to quiet our mind how do we know when the universe is communicating with us?  I feel signals and I call those signals intuition.  We can all identify with our intuition, that feeling we get once in a while about things.  I know that intuition is usually over shadowed by my ego.  The voice in my head does not want me to live in the moment and to be clear about things.  My ego has its own needs.

I get these internal cues once in a while.  if we just pay attention, our intuition tells us what to do.   When something feels right it is the universe behind us telling us that we should go forward.  When something doesn’t feel right and I get that nagging feeling that it is wrong, then it is a warning from the energies of the universe telling me to reconsider.  I remember so many errors I made in my life.  Those times I felt the foreboding feeling to not go forward and both times my ego stepped in and pushed me in the direction which turned out to be the wrong direction.  First, when I bought stores many years ago in NJ I just knew that it was a mistake.  I even drove the area and felt it was wrong and had specific reasons why it was wrong, but my ego wanted to feel it was moving forward towards success and had strong “wishful thinking” about a success in that venture.  Wishful thinking is the ego pushing its weight around.  I opened two locations and suffered for a few years before I got out of a bad situation.    My calculating mind gave me so many reasons to go forward and buy the stores.  My ego used calculations to convince me, and used my goals and dreams against me and my better judgement, and so I didn’t make the right decision.  I “knew” it was wrong and yet so much ego reasoning gave me confidence to go on against that “knowing” that I was making a mistake.

The other time that this happened I was in a relationship.  Actually this happened many times in the same relationship.  Each time I knew it was a mistake to be with my partner, and yet each time my ego took over and “forced” me into a bad decision.  When we first broke up it was me that made the decision.  I knew that she and I should not be together but I got lonely and very insecure and that insecurity was certainly ego driven.  My mind told me that the pain of insecurity would go away if we got back together.  It seemed like a no brainer at the time to just get back together and feel better for the moment.  But at the same time there were subtle cues, just “knowing” that it was a wrong decision but the need for short term gain was strong and so we got back together.  Then a few years later I had clarity for just a moment and tried to end the relationship.    Her emotional reaction and my ego clouded my intuition once again. I “knew” it was a mistake but did not follow my deepest feelings.

We are part of the universe.  Our true self is connected as is all living things.  We live with a cloud around us (our ego) which keeps us from seeing this.  Yet, once in a while when things are just right we get a glimpse of reality, not the cloud but what is real.  Our intuition is part of what is real, and my goal is to be able to see this more clearly as the fog of my ego dissipates.

Who am I, or Not?

Who am I, or not?  That is the first question I asked myself on my journey to discovering awareness.

So I’m in the shower, and it’s a place that I do my best thinking.  I know why that happens, like I know why almost everything happens to me.

I thought of this in the shower because I love taking a shower so much.  I love taking a shower so much because it is warm in the shower, and my house is so cold (thanks honey) all the time that it’s a kind of temperate refuge for me.  When we do something we love, whatever that is, (even taking a shower) we are clear from the distractions of our mind.  We think clearly.  We..think…clearly.  You see, the incessant voice in our head, which some call our mind is NOT US talking.  It is not us?  When I first heard that I laughed.  What do you mean it is not us?  It sounds like me, it is inside me, no one hears it but me.

But it’s not the real us.  It’s not the higher form of who we actually are.  The voice is our doubts, fears, anxieties and/or competitive needs.  It’s an entity that tries to keep us separate from everyone else.  It’s why we feel the need to be better than everyone else.  Why we are always right and everyone is wrong.  Why our religion is better.  It’s why we value competition so much. Basically it’s our ego telling us whatever “it” needs to do to thrive, and the thriving of our ego is counterproductive to our happiness.  Our ego has an “us and them” mentality.  If we are separate from everyone in all things then the ego thrives.  If we believe in universal love, and full equality for all then the ego dies.  War dies, and hate dies.  Our ego is only from us and our world, living in us, but not actually who we are.

What child is born with hate and fear?    Our ego is the creation of all our time in this world, from the moment we were born until right now.  Our ego is the construct of what we were taught directly, as in lessons by parents, teachers, and people of influence in our lives, and what we were taught by innuendo, such as the disapproving glance our moms gave us, or the subtle snicker our friends reflected towards us, or the memory of a very distant trauma that is relived over and over.   But for sure, it is not the real us.  We think we are our mind (ego, voice in the head) and so we “act” as if this is true and react to what the voice tells us.    Our mind only speaks of the past or the future, and never of the moment.  We worry about the future, and we lament the past.  Happiness, and the richness of life comes not from the past or the future but from enjoying every moment as it happens.   Only when we are “in the moment”, when we are doing something we enjoy, are absorbed by happiness, and comfort can we for just a few minutes quiet the inane voice in our head.

So in answer to this so very important question, Who am I?, I must say that it is very simple.  I am Alan.  I am a father, son, husband, friend…. I am love.  In today’s world it is easier to describe who and what I am not.  I am not fear and all that fear brings, such as hate, separation, envy, and anger.  I am not the voice in my head.  I am part of this universe, sending out as much positive energy as I can, and receiving it back from the universe in equal measure.  I am joy, happiness, and bliss.  Through meditation I found my connection to our universe, and do not identify with anything which separates me from all people and all living things, such as competition, religion, or personal philosophy.  In return I receive “help” in my life from the universe, in the form of positive energy and signals in the form of my intuition.  It is certainly available to all of us.  You just need to see that it’s there.   To be aware that it’s there.

Fear vs. Love

There are only two perspectives from which we can live our lives. That’s the proverbial “where are you coming from”. You are either reflecting fear or reflecting love. Hate, anxiety, worry, anger, resentment, guilt, competition, worthlessness and every other negative feeling in our lives come from fear. Everything good comes from love.

Yes, it is that simple.

So why do we make the choices we make? Why doesn’t everyone live their lives from a perspective of love? I believe that we’ve been programmed to react with fear and doubt about ourselves. Our reactions to life have become automatic. We, as humans have a very unique ability. We can relive a traumatic event in our lives over and over again. We can make a mistake, or have something bad happen to us one time and pay the price forever. We will relive the emotional reaction we had in the past over and over again, as if what happened many years ago is happening right now. I call that the “emotional switch”. Just as we don’t think of breathing, and it just happens, so this switch goes off and our emotional reaction from some negative past experience flows into our body, and we relive it. My wife might say or do something that reminds me of some negativity from a past relationship and I feel the unhappiness, or fear, or anger that I felt in the past. Of course what is happening in this moment is not what happened in the past, but it set off an emotional switch and my reaction is from the past even though it feels real in this moment. It’s so automatic and so subtle that I will suffer today because of something that happened in the past and never even be aware of the connection between past and present. Unfortunately the feeling might not be subtle, but just as intense as it was in the past.

This happens almost every time we feel a negative emotion.

We as humans are living in the past or living in the future but always living in fear.
“If you are depressed, you are in living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”- Lao Tzu

It would certainly be “better” for us if we lived from the perspective of love instead of fear. Instead of worrying about the past or the future we can just live in the moment. Almost universally the moment of now is always good. The now moment is nothing more than “it just is.” Shit we worry about didn’t happen yet, and might not happen. Stuff from the past that bothers us is way behind us.

The love I am talking about is just feeling a positive connection with everything and a positive reaction to things happening around you. If someone is acting badly towards you try to understand it is not you that deserves this action, but just something in their life. Don Miguel Ruiz, in the Four Agreements, says that we all live in our own dream. Our realities are all different. That’s why we should not take anything personally. (One of the Four Agreements) Let people play out their own actions and not allow their actions and feelings to become our own. The emotional switch will go off. It always does and we might strike back, act out, feel badly, or act from fear, but if we realize where they are coming from is not where we are coming from we can react from the perspective of love, and not fear. We can let them be and not internalize whatever it is that they are going through. We can feel compassion for them. That is love. That is beauty. That is our choice, and it is a reflection of our perspective of love and not fear.

For me, understanding this is what awareness is all about. We live automatic lives. Things mostly happen automatically. We eat without thinking, react without thinking, feel emotions without thinking, and suffer without thinking. The drive towards being aware in my life is very powerful. The concept is so simplistic and yet the benefits to me on a moment to moment basis have been amazing. I am happier, calmer, more understanding and more loving. It was a gift given to me, and as difficult as it might be it’s a gift I would like to pass on.