A Beginner’s Guide To Life

A Beginner’s Guide To Life

Since the C2C is not just about writing but about life, I get a lot of questions in my e-mail box about life. These questions usually come from people who I’m going to call “beginning lifer’s,” or people who are starting to realize that life has more problems than the human mind alone can solve.

So, today, I’d like to answer some of these “beginning lifer’s” most pressing questions.

Here we go:

“Hey Ollin. I’m a beginning lifer.” 

That’s awesome. Welcome!

Life can sometimes be a big, complicated mess, and I know that you probably weren’t offered many road maps to deal with it all.

But I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of books, tools, and experts out there who can help you overcome life’s big challenges. I’m one of those helpful guides, but by no means am I the only one. So, don’t just rely on me: make sure to seek out other teachers, mentors, and guides that can help you along the way.

Now, the first thing that you need to know is that you’re not alone. Life’s hard for everyone. Most of us start out just like you: just floating around without much direction–suffering but not knowing why we’re suffering (and sometimes not even knowing that we are suffering in the first place!)

Hopefully this post will give you some direction and start you on your way.

“I think my biggest problem is my mind: I’m often filled with worry, doubt, and negative/self-defeating thoughts. How do I deal with this?”

It’s no surprise why this is such a huge problem: we are taught since childhood that the mind can solve all of our problems, when it can only solve about ¼ of our problems. Our education system only focuses on nourishing and training the mind. So, we are all very skilled on how to work the mind, but we’re not taught how to calm the mind or stop it completely.

The ability to calm the mind (or stop it completely) is not a psychological skill, however. It is a spiritual one.

Don’t let the term “spiritual” throw you: I’m not talking about religion here. I’m talking about the ability to reconnect with the bigger picture. I’m taking about your energy force. Your light—that part of you which relentlessly seeks meaning and purpose.

The only way to reconnect with this part of you (and calm the mind in the process) is to meditate on a regular basis.

Start by going to the park 15 minutes every day. Have no plans or strategies. Simply walk around aimlessly. Try your best to bring your attention to the world around you. Focus on your breath. Try to pay attention to the “space in between the thoughts.”

When you meditate the very first time, you’ll probably feel as if you’ve failed and you’ll want to give up right away. But don’t give up. Know that your mind is very threatened by meditation because it is a practice that doesn’t require the mind’s participation. (In fact, it’s better if the mind stays mostly out of it.) The mind will try to make very logical arguments as to why you shouldn’t mediate. It will tell you that mediation is a waste of time, it’s stupid, it’s silly—or that meditation will never work for you.

If you hear your mind say these things, just be aware of those thoughts—and then just keep on meditating.

After several months, you may start to see results: you’ll feel a little more sane, calm, centered, and at peace. You might even notice that on the days that you don’t meditate you feel stressed, weary, depleted of your energy, worried, or “off-center.” Take notice of this difference.

See this as proof that your mediation routine is working.

For more on this subject, read:

Patience (This post has a great introduction to meditation)

The Key To Finding Peace When You Sit Down To Write

“I have difficulties with overpowering emotions. I often feel sad/angry/depressed/lonely etc., and this gets in my way. What should I do?”

Like I said above, we are often taught how to deal with our minds but very rarely are we taught how to deal with the other parts of ourselves.

We are especially never taught how to deal with our emotions.

Instead, we are told indirectly (or directly) to do the following with our feelings: hold them in, repress them, ignore them, medicate them, lie about them, deny them, drink them away, numb them; escape from them by getting high, wasted, or taking other drugs; assuage them with junk food, merchandise, clothing, or TV/Movie watching; or run away from them by traveling to another city, state, or country.

But what we’re never told to do is to actually feel our feelings. (God forbid that we actually feel what it is to be alive, right?)

But you really need to feel your feelings in order to overcome them.

An easy way to begin is to start writing in a journal on a daily basis. Have yourself unpack your emotions on the page. Then, when you’re sad, let yourself cry. When your angry, punch a pillow (or scream into someone’s shoulder). When you’re frustrated or stressed, go for a jog. You can also express your emotions through art: a song, a poem, a story, a dance, a painting, etc.

Find SOME outlet for the emotion.

Finally: try seeing a therapist. Therapists are professionals who are experts at helping you process your emotions in a healthy and productive way. If strong emotions are a real problem for you, I recommend searching for a therapist in your local area. (If finances are an issue, ask the therapist if they have a sliding scale. Many therapists are willing to negotiate a price depending on your income.)

If you’re offended by my suggesting therapy to you, see this as your mind being threatened once again. Because, once again, the act of processing your emotions is something that does not require the mind’s involvement. (The mind cannot solve a problem only the heart can solve.)

For more on this subject, read:

Dealing With Your Emotions As You Write

11 Ways To Stop Feeling Guilty About Following Your Passion

7 Steps To Finally Recognizing That You Are Worthy

“I often feel sluggish, restless, exhausted, or that I lack focus. How can I remedy this?”

If you feel this way then it may mean that you need to start exercising, eating healthier, and sleeping better.

Once again, we cannot rely on the mind to solve a problem that only the body can solve.

It is relatively easy these days to find articles and books that can teach you how to exercise, eat healthy, and sleep better. Today, all of this information is just a Google search away, and so learning how to take care of our bodies is not so hard to do.

But what is difficult is learning how to MOTIVATE ourselves to take care of our bodies on a daily basis.

I have found that the best way to motivate ourselves is to stop placing the reward for healthy living in the future. Instead, make the reward for healthy living in THE PRESENT: go running today because it makes you feel more energized and focused NOW; eat healthy food today because it makes you feel more stable and clear-headed NOW; sleep better today because it makes you feel more aware and refreshed NOW.

That’s how you motivate yourself to change unhealthy habits into more healthy ones: you make the reward for doing so NOW.

For more on this subject, read:

Writes and Their Bodies

Writers and Their Sleep

Writers and Their Food

“I feel unsupported/isolated/like an outcast. I feel rejected (or betrayed) by society. How do I deal with this issue?”

The idea that you can go through life completely self-sufficient and independent is really a preposterous notion. Because the truth is that all of us rely so much on other people to guide us through life.

So, first of all: get it out of your head that you’re supposed to succeed in this life all on your lonesome. Nothing can be further from the truth.

If you’re struggling with feeling isolated or unsupported, the answer is quite simple: reach out for support.

Try reaching out to family and friends first. But if that doesn’t work, don’t give up: search for a community group or organization that CAN offer you the support you need.

Fostering a sense of community is something you have to actively work at creating—it doesn’t happen out of the blue.

For more on this subject, read:

Why Every Writer Needs Support

6 Steps To Establishing Healthy, Long-Lasting Friendships

6 Strategies To Help Get Your Family On Board With Your Passion

“I want to create a career that I’m passionate about, but I don’t know what my passion is (or I don’t know how to find my passion). Can you help me with this?”

If you don’t know what your passion is, the best way to find it is by going with what moves you the most right now.

That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

Don’t try to look for a more complicated answer to this question, because it’s really not that complicated.

It’s simple and direct:

What moves you the most right now IS your passion.

It’s as simple as that. So just go with it, and see where it takes you.

For more on this subject, read:

What Moves You The Most Right Now? Go With it.

5 Common Myths People Have About Finding Their Passion

How To Build Strong Foundations Underneath Your Dreams

much love,


Is there a life question you have for me that I didn’t address?

What advice would YOU give to a “beginning lifer”? Please share your wisdom with us in the comments below!

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Categories: Writer's Journal