The Responsible Rebel

February 26th, 2015 by Steve Pavlina

When you make a decision that goes against the grain of the prevailing social pressure in your life, such as by quitting your job to start your own business, there’s a tendency to think of yourself as being rebellious, independent, willful, or just plain different. Other people may label you thusly, so you might start applying such labels to yourself as well.

Be careful with this type of thinking though. It could have unwanted side effects if you go too far with it.

If you’re willful and independent, does that mean you always have to work alone? Does that mean you’ll never be a good team player?

If you’re rebellious, does that mean you aren’t very good at disciplining yourself to work? Are you into escapism? Are you irresponsible and unreliable?

Am I rebellious because I started my own business? Because I dropped monogamy and enjoy an open relationship? Because I like to travel a lot? Because I don’t go to church? Because I don’t eat or wear anything that comes from an animal?

Rebellion or Responsibility?

I could frame many of my decisions as acts of rebellion, and sometimes it’s fun to do so, but the downside is that I can end up feeling like a social outcast if I do that too often. Thinking of myself as a rebel also don’t align very well with the truth of why I made certain decisions in the first place.

Another way to frame these same decisions is that I’m being more responsible. I’m honoring and obeying values that are important to me. I’m not actually rebelling against anything. I’m just making more conscientious decisions as I learn and grow.

I could say that I don’t have a regular job because I’m rebelling against having a boss. But it would be more accurate to say that I want to be fully responsible for choosing the work I do and how I do it. I also want to do work that feels meaningful and purpose-driven. I’ve created a sizable body of work as a writer, enough material to fill at least 30 books. Is that rebellion? No, I didn’t just rebel my way into so much creative output. I assumed more responsibility for helping people grow. I listened to people share their challenges. I thought about ways I could contribute. I faced some fears and pushing through limitations that got in the way of contributing. This path might look independent, but it hardly feels rebellious to me.

I could say that I rebelled against monogamy, but that doesn’t feel true either. The truth was that I wanted to experience more growth in this part of my life. I wanted the opportunity to learn faster, to experience more richness in life, and to connect with more people. I saw this path as an intelligent way for me to connect, learn, and grow in my relationship life. It wasn’t an act of rebellion. It was an act of alignment with values like connection, caring, exploration, learning, and growth.

Traveling doesn’t feel like an act of rebellion either. For me it’s yet another way to accelerate growth and learning. It helps me feel more like a citizen of the world. I also do it because I enjoy it. Many of my friends travel much more than I do, so sometimes I feel like a follower who’s playing catch-up. I think it would be irresponsible for someone with my global influence not to spend a significant amount of time traveling.

I did feel rebellious when I was initially shedding my childhood religion during my late teens. But today this aspect of my lifestyle just seems like common sense. Some religious people still feel the need to label me an outcast, sinner, heathen, etc. (based on the occasional emails I get about that), but I just see those labels as projection. They aren’t meaningful to me anymore. My old religion wasn’t aligned with truth, it wasn’t loving enough, and it was disempowering in many ways. Moving on from it was a form of graduation, not rebellion.

What about being vegan? This aspect of my lifestyle seems to be labeled as a rebellious act more often than any other, but for me it’s an assumption of greater responsibility, not some innate desire to be different. Other people often claim to feel the same as I do about the treatment of animals, but their behavior seems highly incongruent with their professed feelings. I feel responsible to align my actions with the reality of what’s happening; I can’t just ignore the facts and pretend that the animals aren’t being hurt. I love animals, so how can I pretend that turning them into consumables is okay? Am I a rebel because I feel disappointed in those who deny responsibility for how the flesh on their dinner plate got there? No, I haven’t been vegan for 18 years to rebel against the status quo. For me this is about doing my best to make responsible and intelligent choices within the context of a deeply conflicted society.

As we move into the development of stronger AI this century, it’s more important than ever that we learn how to accept more responsibility and make more intelligent decisions as individuals. We can predict humanity’s future based on how we treat our animals.

If you dislike the way the world treats you sometimes, you can start by accepting more responsibility for how you treat the other beings of this world, especially those that are weaker than you.

Convention or Cowardice?

Don’t be too surprised if you’re occasionally branded as a rebel when you’re actually assuming more responsibility, exercising greater self-discipline, and becoming more aligned with values such as growth, courage, compassion, and intelligence. If you enjoy the rebel jacket, feel free to wear it now and then. Maybe it suits you. But don’t let the world convince you that you’re a social outcast for making responsible, intelligent, and growth-oriented decisions.

If you want to see positive changes in your life, strive to become more responsible and mature, as opposed to just being different and doing your own thing. Increase the thoughtfulness of your own decisions, and don’t fuss too much over how others might label you.

My perspective is that I’m not going to let the world off so easily. If I get labeled a rebel for assuming more responsibility and for making intelligent and growth-oriented decisions, then couldn’t such labeling be interpreted as a denial of responsibility by others? Those who attempt to paint me as a rebel are simultaneously trying to label themselves as normal, are they not? If they can qualify as normal, then they don’t have to keep learning and growing. They can stagnate. They can settle.

This is pure cowardice, isn’t it?

Such weak-mindedness needn’t define you. You’re capable of making better decisions and taking action. You’re capable of building fresh momentum. Life doesn’t expect or demand perfection from you. But life will not be kind to you if you try to turn your back on your path of growth.

Let’s make the acceptance of greater responsibility a common act, not an exceptional one.

Let’s make the pursuit of growth a well-traveled path.

Let’s deny cowardice the ability to pass for convention.



Steve Recommends
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Site Build It! - Use SBI to start your own money-making website
Lefkoe Method - Permanently eliminate a limiting belief in 20 minutes
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Paraliminals - Condition your mind for positive thinking and success
The Journal - Record your life lessons in a secure private journal
Sedona Method (FREE audios) - Release your blocks in a few minutes
Life on Purpose - A step-by-step process to discover your life purpose

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Project Hugfest

February 24th, 2015 by Steve Pavlina

In the final afternoon of the Conscious Life Workshop in August 2014, I gave the group of 125 attendees a special challenge — to come up with a co-creative project that would provide value to others and that we could all do together in about 90 minutes.

I played facilitator and referee during this time, but the group was responsible for coming up with their own idea and then implementing it. After about 30 minutes of brainstorming and many rounds of voting, they settled on doing a massive hugfest on Fremont Street in Downtown Vegas, which was within easy walking distance from our workshop room at the Golden Nugget. The idea was to film it with our cell phone cameras, and then to edit and share it as a short video to spread some positive ripples with the world.

Once we settled on the idea, people quickly got to work making signs, and within minutes we walked down to Fremont Street and starting sharing hugs with each other and the tourists. It began a little tentatively at first, and as people warmed up, the group energy gradually became more fun — and boisterous. Some of the attendees told me afterwards that it was a very memorable, heart-opening, and beautiful experience for them.

The total time from when we began brainstorming ideas to when we were back in the room after doing the hugfest was only about 75 minutes. That included those 30 minutes of brainstorming, so this whole thing came together very quickly. That’s the beauty of creating with an open heart. When we got back to the room, we spent some time figuring out various other logistical details, such as how to get the video editing done and what to call the project. Eventually we settled on the name Project Hugfest.

Special thanks to Cynthia Lou for creating the Project Hugfest logo… and of course thanks to everyone who participated in making this project such a fun success.

Here’s the video. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share or post it wherever you like, such as on your own website or social media pages.

Why did it take me so long to post this? That’s entirely my fault. I had closed all my social media accounts, including YouTube, in July 2014, a month before the workshop. Once the video was done and edited, anyone from the workshop was free to share and post it however they wanted. I had agreed at the workshop to also create a new YouTube account just to post the video, but when I tried to do that, I found that Google still required me to have an associated Google+ page (which I really didn’t want). When I tried to make a new account, it would automatically recreate my old Google+ page, which then reactivated my previous YouTube channel. I didn’t see a way to make it work with a new account, so I put it on the back burner for a while.

Eventually I gave up and decided to just to re-enable those accounts, so I could finally post this video. Streaming it from my own website just isn’t fast enough for people outside the USA.

I turned off advertising for the video since the intention wasn’t to generate income. The intention was to create something of value and to share it freely with the world.

I’d like to personally dedicate this video (if I may take that liberty) to Daan Buckinx, a young 20-something Belgian who attended some of my workshops in 2009 and 2010. Before Daan passed away from terminal cancer in 2011, he inspired many people, including me, to openly share hugs and affection while we can. The last time I saw Daan, we were walking around downtown Las Vegas, very near to where this video was filmed, and he was giving beautiful heart-centered hugs to the tourists in the area, brightening their day and making them smile… even though he wasn’t feeling his best due to the cancer treatments he was receiving.

I hope Project Hugfest will inspire you to openly share more hugs and affection with the people in your life.

Hugs! :)



Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Site Build It! - Use SBI to start your own money-making website
Lefkoe Method - Permanently eliminate a limiting belief in 20 minutes
Getting Rich with Ebooks - Earn passive income from ebooks
PhotoReading - Read books 3 times faster
Paraliminals - Condition your mind for positive thinking and success
The Journal - Record your life lessons in a secure private journal
Sedona Method (FREE audios) - Release your blocks in a few minutes
Life on Purpose - A step-by-step process to discover your life purpose

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