Lessons Learned from The Path Less Traveled Volume 1 by Zero Dean

You are not a book (and why that matters)

If a stranger came up to you on the street and called you a book, would it ruin your day? Probably not.

What if a friend called you a book? Would THAT ruin your day? Probably not.

Would the fact that someone called you a book actually make you a book? Unless that person is a wizard, then no.

So now that we are both certain that you know you are not a book, if someone did call you a book, would you feel the need to go to great lengths to “defend your honor” by explaining to that person — and others — why you are, in fact, not a book? Probably not.

If this isn’t beginning to sink in yet, just realize that I’m using the word “book” (which you know you are not), but it could be any other word.

So the next time someone decides to label you as something you know you are not, think “I am not a book”, and then react (or don’t react) accordingly.

I mean, if you’re not a book, you’re not a book.


You are not a book (and why that matters).

Never underestimate the power of a single act of kindness


Never underestimate the power of a single act of kindness to make a significant difference in someone’s life. A single act of kindness may just be the added lift that someone needs to go from falling to flying.



Nature abhors a vacuum.

According to the laws of nature and physics, empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural. Wherever there is a void, the universe seeks to fill it.

Turns out Aristotle was primarily right when he said  “Nature abhors a vacuum”.

This expression popped into my head as I wrapped up my cardio session at the gym earlier — and was included in my E is for endorphins post on facebook.

There are two times of day when seemingly random things just “pop into my head”. The first is immediately after waking up (sometimes those thoughts are great — and sometimes, ummmm, yeah!).

And the second most often time this happens, is while I’m at the gym — usually doing cardio (that’s my “meditation time”, which I’ve mentioned in posts like this one).

Although my post to Facebook earlier was intended to be light and fun, I’ve been chewing on it ever since. I know I’ve heard this “nature abhors a vacuum” expression before, but I wasn’t sure where it came from, so I looked it up — and that’s how this post got started.

At least that’s how I initially thought it got started. But then I looked back at something else I posted earlier in the day — a quote by Charles Burke about “Giving thanks” — and realized it felt familiar. While he doesn’t explicitly say the words, Burke’s quote includes this phrase:

“When you give thanks — real, soul-lifting, jubilant thanks — for things you don’t have yet, nature rushes in to fill that vacuum.”

It’s pretty clear my brain was making connections between this quote and Aristotle’s before I was even aware of it. (And I’ve written before about how the subconscious mind will often do this.)

So I was thinking, perhaps there really is some science behind the universe’s general tendency to fill voids — and maybe there’s a way for us to use this to our advantage?

A universal “loophole”, if you will…

I’ve heard it said before that:

“If you want something in your life, acting like you already have it is one of the most immediate ways to get it”.

So perhaps Charles Burke is onto something — what would (or could) happen if one was to be grateful for things one didn’t yet have?

Since it has also been said that our brainwaves turn thoughts into matter, could it not be the case that by acting (thinking) as if we already have what we want, the universe will “see” that void (if one exists) and seek to fill it?


Or maybe this is just some self-help silliness.

But still…

If being truly grateful makes you feel better about life anyway, perhaps that’s even more reason to practice gratitude.

It’s certainly worth trying. Isn’t it?

[jbox color=”gray” icon=”http://zerodean.com/images/quote-icon.png”]Dear Universe!

  • I am grateful that things just keep getting better and better!
  • And for being healthy (and injury free) enough to run my first marathon in 2013!
  • And for overwhelming abundance!
  • And for the amazing people in my life!
  • And for awesome travel opportunities!
  • And for finally meeting (and entering into a relationship with) the woman of my dreams! ;)

And, oh heck, why not — for having the opportunity to finally meet Will Smith — because Will Smith is awesome.[/jbox]

Holy crackers — showing gratitude is fun. :) Who knew!?


See also my follow-up to this post: “Setting the table of your life.”

Life is short, but its yours.

Life is short. Be responsible and respectful of others and treat yourself and others well, but don’t let anyone discourage you from having fun and going after whatever it is that fills you with joy. It’s your life. Live it.

It’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” — Alan Watts



Be the person you want to be remembered as.


“Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person we become.” — Jim Rohn

Be the person you want to be remembered as.

“When it’s all over, you’re remembered for what you did, not what you said you were going to do.” — Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls



The awesome power of asking yourself good questions.

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” — Leo Babauta

In yesterday’s post I talked about how changing “If only” statements into “How can I” questions creates a much more positive mindset that leaves one’s subconscious mind free to search for solutions (instead of creating a mental roadblock).

The manner is which one talks to one’s self is not only important in maintaining a positive attitude, when used correctly, it becomes a powerful tool. For example, how one forms questions they ask themselves can have a serious impact on the answers one gets in return. One of the reasons for this is because your subconscious mind doesn’t care what you ask. And it will automatically try to find that answer to your question. This is great. But because your subconscious mind is a bit like a robot, it also doesn’t care if the answer it provides you is (or isn’t) in your own best interest.

Whatever you choose to ask yourself, your subconscious mind will diligently seek an answer to your question. But because your subconscious mind is a bit like a robot, it also doesn’t care if the answer it provides you is (or isn’t) in your own best interest.

So if you ask it a question in the form of a negative, the answer you get will also be in the form of a negative…

Here are some extremes…

  • Why can’t I attract the love of my life?
  • Why can’t I stay in a long-term relationship?
  • Why don’t people think I’m funny?
  • Why don’t more people like me?

— and your subconscious mind will answer, “You can’t [do these things] because….”

Because you asked in the form of a negative, the answer you get back is also in the form of a negative.

If you like to beat yourself up or feel drained or powerless in the world, this is a great way to do it. (I don’t suggest that.)

Don’t be fooled, your question doesn’t have to have a “can’t” or a “don’t” in it to be negative.

For example:

  • Why am I always getting things wrong? (You are always getting things wrong because…)
  • Why do I keep falling for girls/guys that are bad for me? (You keep falling for people who are bad for you because…)
  • Heck, I even did it in a blog post: “Why am I not a better person?” (You are not a better person because…)

So if you want to avoid beating yourself up, pay closer attention to your thought process and take charge of it whenever you have a tendency to form a thought in the negative form vs. the positive. (You may recall that this is #1 of 12 ways to find encouragement, “train or retrain your brain”).

So when you are talking to yourself, always remember to ask yourself empowering questions in the form of a positive:

  • How can I improve areas in my life and get more things right? (You can improve areas in your life by…)
  • What can I do more of (or less of) to attract the love of my life? (You can attract the love of your life by…)
  • How do I attract the right girl/guy for me?
  • How can I be wicked funny like that Zero Dean fellow?
  • How can I become more likable like that dear, dear, friend of mine, Zero Dean?
  • What is Zero Dean’s phone number, because I feel like… whoops! Sorry.

Do you see the difference? Or more importantly, do you feel the difference?


“If only” is a roadblock on the highway of life.

A few words about “IF ONLY”…


  • If only — IT was easier.
  • If only — THEY were…

If you can’t control something, then focus on what you can control (which is how you think about it)


  • If only — I was stronger.
  • If only — I was more…

Adding the “*I*” is a step in the right direction because then you’re focusing on something you can control, but it’s still not a very effective way to approach a problem.

The issue still lies with “If only”. Ditch it.

You can ditch “If only” by asking yourself a question…

“How can I…?

Now you are not only putting yourself back in control, asking this question implies there is an answer to it.

And the fact that you are now thinking about a problem as if there is an answer to it provides you with a huge benefit — and that is it allows your subconscious mind to begin looking for a solution for you rather than be stuck with the belief that there isn’t one.

Come on, even Captain Jack Sparrow knows this…

“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” — Captain Jack Sparrow

When you approach a problem in a way that implies you are powerless to address it, you create a mental roadblock and leave very little room for problem solving. When you approach a problem in a way that implies there is a solution to it, you open up a world of possibilities.

“If only” is a roadblock on the highway of life. “How can I…” is a roadblock breaker.

Use as needed.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” — Bruce Lee

Likability. Being liked and unliked.

Being liked.

While some people are naturally more likable than others, it is a fact of life that no matter how nice, how giving, or how generous you are, not everyone who crosses your path is going to like you.

Not being liked by every single person on the planet is normal. Some people will just naturally “get you”, others won’t.

That’s life. And it’s a good thing, too!

If we were all the same and liked all the same things, we’d never have our beliefs or values challenged. We’d be unthinking automatons (robots) and life would be boring! Contrast in life is a good thing. And it is our differences that make us great and help us to grow.

It may help to remember that some of the most loved people in history actually made history because they were bold and they often thought or acted contrary to popular belief at the time. They had more than their fair share of critics.

If you want to self-actualize (reach your fullest potential), then you must learn to accept yourself for who you are & who you want to be and take personal responsibility for your life and how you feel.

And along the way to self-actualization, you must be prepared to be unpopular. Don’t leave your sense of worth and well-being in the hands of others.

Those who achieve greatness in life don’t let others dictate how they feel about themselves — and neither should you.

When you truly know who you are — and who you are in the process of becoming — you will no longer live in fear of what people say or think about you.

So if you’re doing the best you can, and you still have your critics, remember to put your focus on where it belongs — on your greater mission and on the people who want you in their life, not on those who don’t.

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Tease

Likability and Success

So if you’re not supposed to worry about whether everyone likes you or not, what’s the big deal about being likable at all?

Well, being likable, connecting with others, and forming relationships — whether it’s with an individual or an audience — can be (and often is) an integral part of being successful in life.

And being liked (or unliked) can (and often does) have a direct impact on your health, your wealth, your general level of happiness, and how effective you are at achieving goals.

This is — in part — because your potential is enhanced by the people in your life who find you likable enough that they are willing to take action at your request — or on your behalf — or provide you with assistance in times of need.

While it is impossible to be liked by all, the keys to being likable are traits that can have long-lasting positive effects on your life, your personal and business endeavors, and your relationships.

So while being liked by all should not be a focus in your life, increasing your likability can have a dramatic and positive effect on what you want to accomplish.

Seinfeld: How can anyone not like you (link to video)

A few keys to likability

  • Having personal integrity
  • Being open and able to communicate effectively with others
  • Having a positive mental attitude
  • Projecting self-confidence (but not arrogance)
  • Having the capacity to connect with others in a meaningful way
  • Being comfortable with yourself
  • The ability to empathize with and see things from others’ points of view
  • Being non-judgmental
  • Allowing one’s self to be vulnerable
  • Using positive body language

Additional Resources:



“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” — Zig Ziglar

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations



I don’t like pop-ups. But the fact is, they get people’s attention. And here’s the deal, I want your email address. But rather than put a form here that 99.9% of people ignore, I want to provide you with a link that tells you exactly why I want your email address.

I promise it’s not a waste of your time. But if you suspect it is, I get it. (I’ve been tricked before, too).