Thursday, December 8, 2011

What does a "maximized life" mean to you?

A maximized life means something different for everyone.
It is often associated with more; more money, family, health, time, friends, fun, or rest. It can also mean having less; less stress, fear, guilt, and anger. We are all motivated differently. You might desire a sense of accomplishment. Maybe you are just naturally driven to achieve. Perhaps you are tired of being stuck in your current situation and visualize something better. In order to improve, we need an impetus to change. I have twins, a boy and a girl, under two years old. I want to be the best example I can for them. I don't expect to be perfect, but I want to demonstrate the values that are important to me. For this reason, I want to maximize my own life.

Much of the self improvement information used today is based on the principals of Abraham Maslow's, Theory of Human Motivation.

[“What a man can be, he must be.” This forms the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. This level of need pertains to what a person's full potential is and realizing that potential. Maslow describes this desire as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. This is a broad definition of the need for self-actualization, but when applied to individuals the need is specific. For example one individual may have the strong desire to become an ideal parent, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in another it may be expressed in painting, pictures, or inventions. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top. The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called "deficiency needs" or "d-needs": esteem , friendship and love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these "deficiency needs" are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.

Maslow also coined the term Metamotivation to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment. Metamotivated people are driven by B-needs (Being Needs), instead of deficiency needs (D-Needs).]*

It seems fair to say that you are a metamotivated person. You have made choices to allow yourself the opportunity to self actualize. You want to be all you can be. That is why you are here.

There are two measurements of one's success, "quality" and "quantity".
Is it better to have a lot of acquaintances or a few very good friends?
Would you rather have plenty of time to waste or well used quality time?
Do you measure your success by how much you have or the quality of your life?

"The quality of life is determined by it's activities." - Aristotle

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Divine Connection 

We are all unique, but we have far more similarities than differences. Through the Divine we are all connected. is a network of spiritual individuals joining together to support each other and raise social consciousness to help all life on earth. 

I envision a social network designed to help members improve their lives physically, mentally, and spiritually. I believe there are enough good people in the world to create miraculous change, if we work together. A world shift in consciousness is needed to create opportunities from all the crisis we currently face. I am dedicating my life to make that happen, so that my children will live a different reality. 

You have unique talent and perspective. We would like to help you make the most of these assets by sharing them with others. We are building a new social network dedicated to support diversity and build unity. Your help is greatly appreciated. Joining is a free and easy way to show your support. Sharing with friends and family is also helpful. If you really want to make a big difference, get involved, connect with others, and share your story.

If you have a vision to help others, we would love to hear it and give our support. Share links, websites, and information about your business or your passion. Let us know your needs. Perhaps another member will fulfill them. It is all about making connections.

This site has not officially launched yet, but we wanted you to be one of the first to join and share your vision. We will keep you posted on updates and groups as they are added. We want this to be your community and encourage your feedback and suggestions. If you know similar networks we would like to connect with them also. 

Thank you for your participation,
Mark Porteous

"Civilizations should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained." 
W.H. Auden

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to get 'LUCKY'

My son Alexender and my daughter Eden are now six months old. Already my children have inspired many topic ideas about which to write. I am sure much of my writing in the future will be some how related to them. The birth of my twins changed me in many ways. My priorities changed instantly. My perspective also changed.

Having a boy and a girl at the same time also reminded me how fortunate I am. Many people would say I am a lucky guy. What is luck? I am certainly blessed. There are many thoughts about luck. Even people who would say they are not superstitious, have lucky talisman or rituals. Lucky socks, rabbits feet, or kisses for good luck may have no effect, but they are widely accepted as reasonable. Some say we make our own luck. Thomas Jefferson wrote, " I am a great believer in luck, and find the harder I work the more I have of it".

Luck is more about perception than experience. Everyday we drive to work never saying, 'wow I made it, I feel lucky.' If we were pulled from a car after a bad accident we might pause to think, my car is totaled, but I feel lucky to be alive. Finding fortune in a bad situation is a key element to blissful living. If we can learn or grow from what seems to be a bad experience, the good experiences are valued as even greater blessings. Appreciating even the smallest blessings as good fortune, makes the big blessings more meaningful.

Being lucky starts with feeling lucky.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Welcome Alexender and Eden

After six months without a blog update, it is important for my return blog to welcome my children into this world. Alexender (Xen) Mark Porteous and Eden Liora Porteous were born on April 15, 2010. It was the most amazing event of my life. The emotional high was incredible. It has been a fantastic journey already and keeps getting better every day.
Their names are very special. We spent a long time deciding on them. I had been working on a list of my own since I was twelve years old. My first name is Charles, as was my father's first name before he had it changed officially to his childhood nick name Skipp. My grand father and great grand father also had the first name Charles. I was told it was a family tradition that led all the way back to the British thrown. As a young man I used to think about names that went well with Charles. I was excited to pass on the family name. Having a daughter never crossed my mind. My wife was very pleased when my father told me that he had legally changed his and that I should not feel any obligation to name my son Charles. Instead Renee suggested that our son share my middle name, Mark. His first name is our own little twist on Alexander, which means protector. By spelling and pronouncing it AlexEnder, we can abbreviate and call him Xen, a different spelling for an Eastern philosophy of calmness and being in the present moment. Eden is a place of unsurpassed beauty and tranquility. It is a oneness with God and creation. Eden's middle name is Liora. It is Hebrew for God's gift of light to me. I never could have imagined the joy a baby girl would bring.

Many years ago a friend of mine was having his first child. Someone asked why he would want to bring a child into this messed up world. He answered, "I believe my child will make this world a better place". That is what I hope for my children- that the world will be a better place because they were in it. My world is already a better place. I know they will be a positive force of change.

Welcome Eden and Xen. Your daddy loves you. I am so grateful to be blessed with the honor of raising you and filling your hearts with love and joy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crabs-in-a-bucket Theory

The people in our lives reflect who we are. In different phases of life we may attract different types of people. As we grow and evolve as individuals the people in our lives will grow with us, fade away, or hold us back. We can influence others but we can not change them. Change can only came from within. If we make the conscious choice to improve ourselves, we may also have to make choices about the people with whom we associate. This is not always easy. We do not want to leave behind the ones we love. If they are not ready to make the same choice to evolve, we can allow them to keep us from our own goals or we can separate ourselves enough to move toward our personal goals. As we achieve our goals, we can offer encouragement and guidance. In any recovery or self-improvement program it is recommended to separate oneself from the people that you are used to being around, because it is often those people that were involved with the behaviors you are working to overcome. Any successful person will tell you they surround themselves with like minded people. When we are surrounded my positive motivated people, we lift each other up and propel each other forward. Wanting the best for others, attracts people who want the best for us. Operating from a place of limitless possibility, we do not need to compete to be successful. We can rejoice in the success of others.

Our society does not promote the idea of limitless potential. We tend to act from a state of lacking. We are taught to think another person’s success diminishes our own. We measure our level of success or failure by comparison to others. This is the cause of the crab-in-a-bucket theory. The crab-in-a-bucket theory refers to the behavior of crabs when placed inside a bucket. While a single crab may find a way to escape, when several crabs are put in a bucket, none will escape. As one crab claws its way to the top, the others will pull it back down. This is a true phenomenon. Crab mentality is also a metaphor for the human response to self-improvement in others. Often when people see others advancing themselves, they subconsciously reach out to hold them back.

John and Matt had been friends for a long time. They went to bars to drink and pick up women at least a few nights every week. They would laugh about being hung over and calling in sick for work. They did not have meaningful relationships. Women were merely a conquest. Eventually, Matt began to see the harm he was doing to himself; physically, emotionally and spiritually. He was sacrificing so many goals and desires for the same shallow experiences week after week. He decided he wanted to make a change. He told John he did not want to behave like that anymore. Instead of encouraging Matt to better himself, John took it as an insult. He saw nothing wrong with the social rut they had dug for themselves. He was comfortable with the way things were. He did not want change. John tried to drag Matt down any way he could. He even used guilt to try to keep Matt from changing. Subconsciously, he was afraid that if Matt found happiness elsewhere, it would reflect a weakness in him. Instead of seeing an opportunity for personal growth, he chose to hold his friend back.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever been in Matt’s or John’s position? I would love to hear your stories about crabs in a bucket.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Middle Way

While I see the value of being free from attachments, self-denial can become an obsession. Buddha did not achieve enlightenment until he discovered the ‘Middle Way’.

Siddhartha Guatama was born around 563 BC. According to the traditional biography his father was King Suddhodana. After examining the infant, the hermit seer Asita announced that the child would become either a great king or a great holy man. He was given the name Siddhartha, meaning “the one who achieves his aim”. Wanting his son to be a great king, not a holy man, King Suddhodana, shielded his son from religious teachings or knowledge of human suffering. He built three palaces to isolate him from the outside world. When he was 29, he went out to meet his subjects. His father did his best to hide those who were old, sick or suffering. When he saw an old man, his charioteer explained that all people get old. Later he saw a rotting corpse, a diseased man, and an ascetic. When Siddhartha discovered the poverty and disease that existed in the kingdom outside the walls of his palace, he renounced his life of wealth and luxury for one of asceticism. Giving up all his belongings, he turned to begging for alms in the street. In search of enlightenment, he pushed his austerities even further, by practising deprivation of nearly all worldly goods. One day, after nearly starving himself to death, he collapsed in a river while bathing and nearly drowned. After that, he began to reconcider his path. In his quest to give up attachments, he found asceticism had become a crutch and was keeping him from enlightenment just as much as the wealth and materialism from which he had escaped. Upon deep meditation, he discovered what Buddhists now refer to as ‘The Middle Way’; a moderation between self-indulgence and self-mortification.

After 49 days of meditation, at age 35, Guatama attained enlightenment. From that point on he was known as the Buddha or “The Awakened One.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Abstinence of Lent

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Christian holiday of Lent. The purpose of this forty day long event is to prepare, through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial, for the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. These practices, which are intended to encourage spiritual growth, could also be called, meditation, forgiveness, charity, and abstinence. Regardless of religious belief, these disciplines each have obvious merit for enriching one’s soul.

Lent is most commonly known as a time of asceticism. The adjective "ascetic" derives from the ancient Greek term askēsis (practice, training or exercise). Originally associated with any form of disciplined practice, the term ascetic has come to mean anyone who practices a renunciation of worldly pursuits to achieve higher intellectual and spiritual goals. Asceticism is closely related to the Christian concept of chastity and might be said to be the technical implementation of the abstract vows of renunciation. Those who practice ascetic lifestyles do not consider their practices virtuous in themselves but pursue such a lifestyle in order to encourage, or 'prepare the ground' for, mind-body transformation. Some forms of Christianity and the Indian religions teach that salvation and liberation involve a process of mind-body transformation effected by exercising restraint with respect to actions of body, speech, and mind. The founders and earliest practitioners of these religions lived extremely austere lifestyles refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life, but a recognition that spiritual and religious goals are impeded by such indulgence.

In the popular imagination, asceticism may be considered obsessive or even masochistic in nature However, the askēsis enjoined by religion functions in order to bring about greater freedom in various areas of one's life (such as freedom from compulsions and temptations) and greater peacefulness of mind (with a concomitant increase in clarity and power of thought). As with most holidays, Lent is a symbolic gesture. It reminds us of spiritual excercises practiced by the most revered spiritual leaders. Although I do not consider myself a religious person, I am a spiritual person. I embrace any discipline that encourages my own spiritual growth. Letting go of attachments is a personal goal I have set for myself. This does not mean I do not allow myself to enjoy possessions or indulging in pleasure of the flesh, including food and alcohol. It is only the attachment or addiction to these things that I resist. Observing Lent is a good way to address our addictions or attachments and prove to ourselves that our free will is more powerful than our urges. For this reason, I appreciate the value of this religious holiday.