deepak chopra and vanilla ice walk into a bar…

We’ve all got problems. I’ve got a handful, Jay Z has 99 and even former Disney star Ariana Grande, although claiming to have one less without (him), still has a numerable amount.

Now although American rock band Devo suggest that we aggressively whip a problem when it comes along – whip it real good – I’d prefer the gentler and more measured advice of one Robert Matthew Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice: stop, collaborate and listen.


verb: come to an end

Pause. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Try and bring a stop to your current thoughts, actions and/or behaviours.

Deepak Chopra has a great little strategy to help you to do this; ask yourself two questions:

1. Am I aware? Can you see yourself thinking the negative thoughts, feeling the road rage, the guilt, the anger, the nerves? Yes? Good. This means that you have now temporarily stepped out of that situation and are now, instead, an observer of yourself in that situation.

2. What am I aware of? Once you’ve come to an awareness of the thoughts, actions and/or behaviours, get very specific about what it is you’re actually noticing. For example, if I’ve acknowledged that I am in fact aware of my present road rage moment, I may start to take note of physical things like clenched fists, furrowed eyebrows, racing heart, flushed face. Don’t make judgements about anything you’re noticing; simply observe.

This process may not alleviate the problem entirely but just by stepping out of yourself for a moment, you can begin to see the situation with some clarity and objectivity. This is then a great basis for the next step.


verb: work jointly on an activity.

Now that you’ve come to see yourself as an observer of your thoughts, actions and/or behaviours, call on some of your buddies for inspiration and assistance. Who might these buddies, these ‘collaborators’, be exactly? Well to give you an example, my Collaboration List includes God, the Universe, Abraham Hicks, Oprah, Byron Katie, Celine Dion, To Kill A Mockingbird, Joel Osteen, Bishop TD Jakes, my best friend, my siblings, bikram yoga, John Mayer, YouTube, nature.

These may be ‘brain’ resources as my friend Jess calls them, or ‘heart’ resources, or ‘body’ resources but no matter how you classify them, they are your go-to advice-bearers in problem times (this blog perhaps might be a combination brain/heart resource – cheeky plug). Get to know your collaborators well so that you can call on them whenever the need arises. Sometimes, you may need matter-of-fact advice, other times, more spiritual and existential. Sometimes you may need this advice to come in the form of a video, other times a simple quote. You work it out.

Note: experiment with as many collaborators as you can and you’ll soon notice those that work for you and those that are actually working against you. For example, chatting to your best friend about so and so may just be a cheeky way for you to justify and perpetuate your current shitty state. You want to be sure to surround yourself with collaborators that help you come out of your negativity, not delve deeper into it.

And why collaborate? Because, bless you, we can’t do this alone.


verb: give one’s attention to a sound

You have claimed ownership over your situation, you have called on all the human and superhuman resources to assist you, and now comes the time to sit back…and listen. Put. The Collaboration List. Down. You’ve collected all the advice you can and now comes the part that Colin Craven calls ‘magic’; the part where the only effort required on your part is waiting silently and listening, like a bird hunter, for that chirp of wisdom. Keep an ear and an eye and a nose out for the signs around you, for the coincidences, for the little clues hidden in nature, on the side of the road, in a song. These signs that Oprah calls ‘whispers’, are there to guide you into a more peaceful state of mind. Trust that you’ve done all you can and hand it over.

It is only in the silence that the answers can be heard.

What I most regularly type into YouTube:

  • Abraham Hicks on loneliness/guilt/pressure/dating
  • Oprah Super Soul Sunday
  • Bishop TD Jakes on timing/rejection/preparation/goodbyes

What I commonly type into Google:

  • Quotes on love/courage/freedom/creativity
  • Stories of inspiration/hope
  • Why is Vanilla’s hair so tall?

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