Influence

Mindless wagging of the tongue deters others.

Doubt causes stagnation.

Manipulation brings harm to all.

Misfortune.

It is The Great Man’s quiet power that inspires others.

Be certain that the dream is fulfilled.

Remain faithful to one’s values.

Persevere.

And one’s influence will spread accordingly.

Good fortune.

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The Great Man

The Great Man influences the world by inspiring Superior Men.

Good fortune.

Although, Man should not reject those who are below him, nor neglect those who are on his level.

Balancing these two ideals is what makes The Great Man great.

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The Student and The Teacher

When The Student is resistant, The Teacher waits.

When The Student is receptive, The Teacher teaches.

Even when the good teachings don’t lead The Student to their desired result, The Student who is receptive learns.

The Student who is receptive simply learns what not to do and, in turn, realizes what to do.

Nothing is lost.

The Student who is receptive always learns.

Thus, it is up to The Student to be receptive, so that they may learn, apply what they learn and grow, not The Teacher to teach The Student perfect teachings.

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The Hero and The Sage

The Hero seeks to save the world.

The Sage grows.

The Hero seeks answers.

The Sage understands.

The Hero leads his followers into the unknown.

The Sage is led by the unknown.

The Hero reveals himself to the world.

The Sage sees no need to.

The Hero is vulnerable, yet protected.

The Sage is neither vulnerable, nor protected.

The Hero is limited, but focus on the task at hand.

The Sage is free from entanglements.

The Hero has a villain.

The Sage has no opposition.

The Hero attempts to persuade the world to follow his way.

The Sage inspires others to live their own way.

Both have different goals.

And different obstacles.

Neither one is better than the other.

It is merely a choice as to which role one decides to play, says the Sage.

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The Bowman

The Bowman who does not pick up his bow and arrow does not feel motivated.

The Bowman who does not aim does not see a vision.

The Bowman who does not fire does not act.

All three, good feeling, vision and action, are required to hit the target.

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The Painter And The Swan

A painter was struggling to find inspiration.

The painter wandered around.

Suddenly, a swan appeared.

The painter became the swan.

A painting was created.

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A Critique on Philosophy

Often, I get asked:

What is Philosophy for?

Or I get asked a question that's along these lines. And after much thought, this is what I've come up with.

When looking at all other fields, such as religion, science, psychology, all of these fields help us to deal with ailments of some kind, whether that be sickness, anxiety, melancholy, or even death.

But philosophy doesn't do this.

Philosophy helps us to realize how to best live our lives.

And how philosophy does this isn't by telling us how to live, but by asking questions of us so that we may come to our own realizations as to how to best live our lives.

However, this is also where philosophy can become problematic for many. It is because philosophy asks questions of us that some may become deterred by philosophy, as they would prefer to be supplied with an answer to their problems.

Although, the issue with just being supplied with an answer to their problems is that this doesn't help them to realize what is the best way in which they can live. Doing this simply alleviates their ailments for a while, until they arrive at another problem that they become overwhelmed by.

Now, this doesn't mean that all other fields don't have their benefits. Throughout history, it is clear that all of these other fields have provided value for many people.

But what I believe this critique points out is how philosophy is unique. And that's it. This doesn't mean that philosophy is better than any other field. It is just different to every other field.

And if you find value in coming to your own realizations, then great. And if you don't, then there are plenty of other fields that you can find value in. And really, what this means for you is that you have a choice. It's up to you as to which way you decide to live.

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You Are Complete

Throughout my life, many people have told me that I have a knack for reading people. And I've been told that the reason why I'm good at reading people is because I understand human behavior.

Now, while I might understand human behavior, I don't believe that this is the reason for why I'm good at reading people. I believe the reason for why I'm good at reading people is because I understand language.

Let me give you an example.

Person A says: "I don't have the money."
While Person B says: "I don't have the money yet."

There is a huge difference between what Person A is saying and what Person B is saying. Person A, by saying "I don't have the money," has closed themselves off from receiving the money, while Person B, by saying "I don't have the money yet," is saying that they don't have the money at this moment but is still open to receiving the money with the word "yet." The word "yet" puts a stamp on the current moment and allows for future possibilities. And so, one word makes a huge difference.

But why is this important?

Because what people say is an indicator as to how they think. If someone is complaining, they're probably thinking about all of the problems that they're facing. Whereas, if someone is sharing the things they're grateful for, then they're probably thinking about all of the positive things that are happening in their lives.

And as it says in the Bible:

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" - Proverbs 23:7

And one of the phrases that I hear many people refer to, whether they're consciously or unconsciously aware of this, is that they "need" something.

And for most people, without even realizing it, this can be quite detrimental because to say that you "need" something suggests that you lack something, that you're incomplete and that you won't be complete and won't feel fulfilled unless you have this thing that you believe you need.

They are devaluing themselves into this thing they believe they need, whether that be another person, or a job, or money, or the latest shiny object. And it's because of this one word, this one thought that people can be lead to feel insignificant and depressed.

So, what can one do about this?

I believe the best thing to do is to really break down for yourself the next idea that I'd like to present to you. And that idea is:

You are complete.

You are already complete. And you didn't have to do anything to be complete. You are just complete.

Think of it like this.

If you didn't have your eyes, would there be light?

If you didn't have your ears, would there be sound?

If you didn't have your tongue, would there be flavors?

If you didn't have your nose, would there be scents?

If you didn't have your skin, would you be able to touch surfaces?

Would you be able to experience life if you weren't aware of it?

No, because you evoke life. And the only way that can be the case is if you are this totality that we call life. Hence, you are complete.

And when you really understand this, when you really break this down for yourself, when you question it over and over and over again and really understand this idea, then something amazing happens.

What happens is that instead of believing that you need something in order to be complete, instead of devaluing yourself into this other thing and feeling insignificant and miserable because of it, you'll be complete and just have fun. You'll just enjoy life.

I mean, if you realize that you're complete, then what do you need...? Nothing. You're complete. Why would you need anything?

Now, that doesn't mean that you won't strive for a dream. It just means that you won't devalue yourself into that dream that you believe that you need to live in order to be fulfilled. Instead, you'll be fulfilled and grow towards that dream.

And so, once you really understand this, once you really break this down for yourself and question this idea until you feel it, then you'll understand that life is play. Lila, as the Hindus express it.

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Respect

Each of us experiences life as 'I’, from the first person. From my perspective, I experience life as I. From your perspective, you experience life as I. From another's perspective, they experience life as I. We all experience life as I.

But since each of us experiences life as I, then who is I? If we're all I, then who is I?

Well, it's either that we're all I or that none of us are I. It's either that we're all I, experiencing life subjectively, or that none of us are I, and that I is an illusion.

But for this blog, let's say that we're all I, experiencing life subjectively. What does that tell us?

Well, if we're all I, experiencing life subjectively, then really, every time you interact with someone, you are interacting with I. I is always interacting with I. Or another way to put it, we are always interacting with ourselves.

And really, this is just an incentive to respect each other because how you interact with others comes back on you.

If you treat others poorly, then they'll treat you poorly.

If you treat others well, then they'll treat you well.

We decide the consequences we receive.

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Sowing and Reaping

"Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return" - Galatians 6:7

There are some who constantly complain about their circumstances, so much so that they don't do anything about their circumstances and believe that they're a so-called victim of life. And this attitude only leads to complacency, misery, and apathy.

But what they don't seem to realize is that they're responsible, as one can only ever be responsible. We can't not be responsible because by not being responsible, we're really responsible for not taking responsibility. So, we can only ever be responsible. And by being responsible, they have done what they have done to themselves.

Now, some might have a problem with this, arguing how the economy collapsed, or how they weren't born in a nice family home, or that their religion prevents them from doing what they want to do in life, or something like that. But here is another way to look at it, referencing the above quote:

"What you reap is what you've sown."

The reason why you're living the life that you're living now is because you've done what you've done.

If you're reaping a miserable life, you've sown a miserable life.

If you're reaping a fulfilling life, you've sown a fulfilling life.

It's not about whether you are lucky or not. It's about what you do. It's about what you create.

"Man is nothing other than his own project. He exists only to the extent that he realizes himself, therefore he is nothing more than the sum of his actions, nothing more than his life." -
Jean Paul Satre

And so, anyone who's complaining about their circumstances is putting it on themselves since complaining is what they're doing.

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Silence

What is silence?

The dictionary defines silence as the absence of sound, but how can there be no sound? To experience no sound, would mean to experience something that is not happening. And that's impossible because that's not an experience.

And so, there's no such thing as silence.

The same idea could be said of being and non-being. To experience non-being, would mean to experience something that is not happening. And that too is not an experience.

But why is this important?

Because this can help us to understand what happens to us after we die. Many of us fear that after we die we'll have to undergo an experience where we exist in a sort of dark room, locked away for eternity. But this can't happen because this is not an experience.

And so, when we die, we either fall into nothingness, which we can't experience, and therefore, we have nothing to be worried about, or we are born again and go through the same life or the same sort of life that we are living now.

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Possibility Questions

What I mean by Possibility Questions isn't questions that one could possibly ask themselves, but questions that lead one to think about their possibilities.

See, questions can change the direction of our focus. So, when we continuously ask ourselves questions, such as:

What can I do?
What can I do with no money?
What can I do a broken heart?
What can I do without friends and family?
Where can I go?
How far can I take X?
Why can't I do X?

We gradually begin to think about our possibilities, which can help us to overcome our challenges.

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Social Proof

In psychology, there is this idea called Social Proof, which is the idea that no one knows how to behave, so we just look to others as to how to behave.

And I agree with this idea simply because we don't really know anything, as written in my last blog (Blog: Knowledge) and so, to fit in and get along, what choice do we have but to copy how others behave?

Unfortunately, this can lead to many social problems because if you were born into an environment that didn't encourage you to grow in any way, then negative biases develop and people get trapped in their circumstances, without even realizing that if they worked on themselves they could get out of those circumstances.

And of course, if you were fortunate to be born in an environment that allowed you to grow, then great. Keep growing.

But to me, this is just another incentive to come to your own realizations and grow, regardless of what others are doing.

And also because:

"It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse." - Joseph Campbell.

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Knowledge

"No one knows anything."

There are many defences to this idea, but to keep it simple, I'll just present one of these defences. And here it is:

1) Everything can be questioned.
2) Because everything can be questioned, everything can be refuted.
3) How can we really know anything when everything can be refuted?

And while this might feel demeaning at first, there's a lesson from this and that lesson is that it is because no one knows anything that you should be coming to your own realizations.

See, it's not about what your parents say, nor what your teacher says, nor what some authority figure says, nor is it even about what I say because no one knows any better than you.

It's about the realizations that you come to.

What do you think of X?
What do you think of Y?
Why do you think that of X?
Why do you think that of Y?
And so on?
And so forth?

Everything else is just unconfirmed rumor.

And as you come to your own realizations, you'll grow. And thus, grow your fulfillment.

And really, it's the only way to grow.

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Why do many struggle to give?

Is it because there's no benefit?

This is a misconception.

There's no such thing as something for nothing. Everything is reciprocated in some form or other because everything exists in relationship with everything else.

How can we have front without back? Top without bottom? On without off? Light without darkness? And so on?

A thing requires its opposite in order to distinguish itself. And because of that, everything exists in relationship with everything else and is reciprocated in some form or other.

And so, in that way, what we give comes back to us.

Is it because we're ignorant of the benefits of giving?

Really, we're all ignorant of different things.

For example, I'm unaware of what you're living through because I'm not experiencing life through you're perspective, just as you're unaware of what I'm living through because you're not experiencing life through my perspective. We're all ignorant of other's lives and thus, we're all ignorant.

The trouble is that we don't realize what we're ignorant of simply because we're ignorant of it and this dynamic can cause conflict between us.

However, being ignorant of the benefits of giving shouldn't be an excuse. Ignorance should be an incentive to learn.

And thus, we should learn about the benefits of giving.

Is it because giving takes effort?

We're always exerting effort because we're always doing.

We can't not do something. When we make a decision, we can decide to do something or decide not to do something. But in deciding not to do something, we're deciding. Deciding not to do something is what we're doing.

And so, we're always doing. And we're always exerting effort.

And with this in mind, it becomes about where we'd like to direct our efforts.

If we don't give, what we don't give comes back to us.

But if we give, what we give comes back to us.

Is it because we're afraid to give?

When we give, we do make ourselves vulnerable, opening ourselves up to potentially being rejected.

But it is only in taking this risk that we're able to form honest connections.

For example, think about every friend you've ever had. To begin the friendship, either you or your friend decided to share a name, attention, or share something in order to begin a dialogue that led to the friendship between you and your friend.

Every connection was founded on some form of giving. And in my opinion, this should be yet another incentive to give me.

Or mightn't we not realize why many struggle to give?

There are many possible reasons for why many struggle to give.

But I believe none of these reasons should prevent us from giving because it is by giving that we can form honest connections, reduce ignorance, build trust and care for each other.

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Attracting Success

"Success is something you attract, by becoming an attractive person." - Jim Rohn

Now, while I do agree that success is attracted, I also believe that there's an important realization that is missed with this quote. And that realization is:

We're all constantly attracting.

It's not that some are attractive and others aren't. We're all in a process of attraction.

And why this realization is important is because the realization asks one to be aware of what they're attracting.

If one is miserable, then one is attracting misery.

If one is happy, then one is attracting happiness.

If one is wealthy, then one is attracting wealth.

If one is wise, then one is attracting wisdom.

It's really that simple.

And the reason, I believe, why this happens is because what we attract is also what we elicit.

The best way to understand this is to see yourself as a vehicle for which life passes through. What happens to you is filtered through and projected, forming a constant cycle that shapes your experience.

And therefore, realizing all this simply becomes an incentive to behave in the manner that elicits your personal definition of success so that you can attract your personal definition of success.

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The Mistakes Marketers Make

When was the last time you bought a product or service based on an ad?

I honestly can't remember the last time I bought a product or service based on an ad. Most of the products or services I have bought recently were either recommended to me by a friend, or recommended to me by someone I admire (i.e. authors, influencers, etc), or because I had been buying a particular product or service for so long that I can't remember the initial ad that might have enticed me to buy the product or service.

And yet, we are bombarded by ads everywhere, from our TVs to the internet to posters to the logos on the products themselves, all fighting for our attention.

So, what gives? Why don't we buy more products and services based on ads?

The answer:

It's because there are so many ads that we tune out and don't pay attention to them.

When you watch TV, do you more often than not watch each ad to see what product or service ads have to offer you? Or do you turn to the person next to you and talk to them? Or go to the bathroom? Or do anything else, except watch the ad?

And even though it feels that no one pays attention to our current ads, marketers continue to run ads that only further saturate the marketplace.

Why?

Because of the 0.1 to 3% conversion rate?

Because it's measurable?

Because it's what they're used to?

Because they're afraid to change their marketing strategies?

There are probably many different reasons as to why marketers continue to run ads. But continuing to pay large amounts of money to create ads that almost no one pays attention to is not the smartest way to market your product or service.

So, here are a number strategies that I recommend for any business to earn more money:

1) Give.

To most, this probably seems like a stupid and counterproductive strategy. If you're giving away a product or service, then it seems as if you're just losing your product or service and won't get anything in return.

But most view the idea giving incorrectly.

There is no such thing as something for nothing. So, when we give, we receive.

See, giving doesn't mean we lose what we've given and that's it, forever.

Giving is an investment.

By giving, we begin a relationship between us and the stranger, that allows for the flow of giving and receiving between both parties.

And over time, as this flow of giving and receiving continues, trust is built, encouraging the consumer to buy whatever products or services you have to offer.

2) Improve the product or service.

What is quality?

Quality is such an abstract and relative idea that no one can define.

So, how can we improve a product or service when we can't define what is of quality and what is not of quality?

The answer:

Make the product or service distinct and constantly giving value.

By making the product or service distinct, the product or service stands out from the other products and services and thus, grabs a stranger's attention.

But once the stranger's attention has been caught, the product or service should not only give value to the stranger, so that the stranger opts-in and buys the product or service but should also continue to give value to them to continue the relationship between you and the customer.

And what happens is by making a product or service distinct and constantly giving value, the customer interprets the product or service as quality.

3) Care for your employees.

Whether it is just you in your business, or there are many others under you, caring for everyone in the business helps to sell more products or services that many businesses can't fathom.

And it's obvious why.

When we feel better, we do better.

If all the employees of a business feel bad, then they'll do bad work. But if all the employees of a business feel good, then they'll do good work, and that'll make their customers feel good and allow for a smoother flow of giving and receiving between you and the customer.

It is easy to assume that because the employer is paying the employee to do a job that the employee should be happy. But this is naive.

We're all human. And we all have different requirements to be met.

And because of this, the employer should help every employee to meet their requirements.

If an employee is upset, then help that employee with whatever is making them upset.

If employees are having conflicts with each other, solve the conflicts.

If an employee has unexpected bills to pay because of an accident or something of that nature, then help the employee to pay those bills.

It is not hard to care. It is free to care. And caring will improve any business.

4) Be honest.

With all the coercion going on in the marketplace, in the media, in politics, and in many other areas of life, being honest makes you stand out and allows the business to sustain trust.

Even if you make a mistake, own up to it. It's better than hiding the mistake and then being found out later (which always happens) because that'll destroy all the relationships have been built over time and form a stigma around you that'll make it much more difficult to create trust with strangers.

5) Focus on the tribe.

Because the mentality is to build and sustain trusting relationships, money doesn't need to be spent finding new potential customers.

If you already have the customers that are required to sustain your business, then just care for your customers and they'll sustain your business.

And not only will they sustain your business, but because of the trust that has been built, they'll also vouch for you and build the tribe for you. If this happens, then you'll never have to run an ad ever again.

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Conflict

Yesterday, I received a letter from my neighbor, that explained (and I am paraphrasing) that because of the proximity of our neighbor's bedroom and my kitchen, being right next to each other in the apartment block, and because my neighbor likes to open their window during the summer, that I should stop washing dishes and stop using my blender between the hours of 11 pm and 7:15 am during weekdays and between 11 pm and 8 am during weekends.

Now, there are a number of things to consider with this:
1) I don't wash dishes between those hours.
2) I don't have a blender.
3) My neighbor is probably unaware of points 1) and 2).

But why this letter irked me was because my neighbor had the audacity to write a letter that suggested that I had to do as my neighbor said, that I had to conform to my neighbor's values, as if life were only about my neighbor and not about everyone, and not about working together to help each other out.

And in a way, this is why we have conflict in the world.

When we have many who try to control or manipulate others to conform to their value we get into conflict with each other, especially when many have opposing views.

And what makes this worse is there is no right nor wrong way to live life. The right way and the wrong way to live life can only ever be subjective because life can only be experienced subjectively. So, there isn't a right way nor a wrong way to live life.

And so, we get these conflicts where one tries to control or manipulate others with the belief that they are right and the other is wrong, which doesn't serve either, and only every creates conflict.

We may see this in politics, business, the media, religion, local communities, all walks of life.

But just raising this issue is not enough. There should be a solution to this, otherwise, this blog is just complaining and that doesn't serve anyone either.

So, what can we do about this? What can we do about conflict?

And my answer would be to grow and give.

See, when we grow and give, we're able to inspire those around us to do the same. And as inspiration spreads, we'll make a positive and sustainable impact and nullify all conflict.

It really is that simple.

I can't control how my neighbor behaves. But I am responsible for how I react. And even though I didn't do anything wrong, at least from my point of view, the best solution I could come up with is to help my neighbor realize what is causing the noise that they believe they're hearing and give them advice as to what they could do about it.

This is growing and giving. I'm growing by learning from this experience and I'm giving by giving my neighbor advice and sharing what I've learned from this experience with you.

And my neighbor might not take my advice and continue to blame me for the noise. That's their decision. And that's also their loss because they're closing themselves off to growing and giving, to taking responsibility and growing their fulfillment in their life.

I'm deciding to grow and give.

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What is love?

I have this friend who I met very early on in my Freshman year in college, in the USA, and over the years, she's become one of my closest friends, even to the point where I would call her my sister and she would call me her brother.

And during those years in college, some of my other friends would push me to ask her out. But I never did. And I don't regret that. However, I was curious as to why I never did. She is this fun and loving person and really, there is no good reason for not being with someone who is that great.

Anyway, after college, I came back to Australia and wasn't really in contact with her. We do have social media and email and other ways of communicating, but it's not the same as being with someone face to face. And so, we never really tried to contact each other and kind of moved on.

But then, two years later, I got the opportunity to go back to the USA and managed to see her again. We had dinner together, caught up, went back to her place and watched Netflix. And as we were sitting there, watching episodes of Jessica Jones, a realization came to me. And the realization was that we didn't need to be together. We didn't need anything. We could just be. And really, that's what love is.

It seems that so many of us make love about something, whether we make love about dating, or sex, or marriage, or about having a family, or about having anything else that we might make love about. And in making love about something, we become selfish because we have turned love into needing to get this thing that we make love about. We become selfish because we feel that we need to date, or need to have sex, or need to marry, or need to have a family, or need to do anything else that we might make love about.

But making love about something isn't love.

Love is surrendering to another person.

Love is about letting go and trusting that the other person will hold you up.

Hence the term "Falling in love." We don't "Force love." We don't "Manipulate love." We "Fall in love." It's about the fall. It's about letting go.

And the irony is that once we let go, once we love, love comes back to us.

We decide the consequences that we receive.

And in that way, it is by letting go, by loving, that we can attract another with the same attitude. And that is when magic happens.

My friend and I might never be together. We might be with different people for the rest of our lives. But that is secondary. And what really matters is that we love each other.

What matters is that we love. Everything else is secondary.

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The Art of Asking

One of the many difficulties that I have had in my past was asking for help. And it wasn't really because I felt vulnerable. I'm a pretty sensitive guy and feel vulnerable all the time. I even laugh at how I always feel that I'm on the brink of tears.

Note: I don't believe that being sensitive or feeling vulnerable are negative qualities. I even believe that sensitivity and vulnerability are positive qualities, as explained in the below quote from my favorite movie, Stalker (1979):

"When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win." - Stalker

And I believe that life should be lived to the point of tears, as Albert Camus was once quoted because to live life any other way would be either inhuman, boring or both.

But back to asking for help:

The reason why I used to have trouble asking for help was that I didn't like to bother anyone. I didn't like to feel that I was taking away someone else's time and energy so that they could help me, especially when the very least I could do was learn what to do in order overcome the challenge that I could have asked for help on.

But despite still feeling this way about asking for help, what I have recently realized is that by not asking for help, I am starving the opportunity to really bond with others.

See, when we put ourselves in a vulnerable place, we give others the opportunity to help us and for them to feel appreciated. And by not asking for help, we take that opportunity away from them.

But at the same time, being vulnerable can be difficult for many. Many fear that they might be taken advantage of in some way. And there is always that possibility when we make ourselves vulnerable.

So, how do we know when to ask for help and when not to ask for help?

Well, we can never know the outcome of any decision, so we can never know when to ask for help or when not to ask for help.

But as I continue to defend, how we feel determines how we live. And when we're faced with the choice of whether or not to ask for help, the best we could do is feel which decision will give us the best outcome.

This is very much why asking is an art.

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