Thursday, May 15, 2014

Eckhert Tolle is WRONG! (A lesson in Hope and Dreams)

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Hey Unstoppable One!

It's what finally has given me back my self-confidence, and what has—in the last week—finally delivered me back to my old rockin' and rollin' self. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Here's a quotation for you from Eckert Tolle from his book, "The Power of Now".  He writes, "Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focused on the future, and this continued focus perpetuates your denial of the Now and therefore your unhappiness." 

While there is truth in this, it only tells one half of the story, because the truth is, for most people I know, the cause of unhappiness and depression is a LACK of hope.  Hope is not the cause of depression; it's the solution!

Consider this:

Why does one feel depressed after heartbreak?  Because of the loss of hope that there is a future with that person, or even a future with ANY person.

Why does one feel depressed after a physical injury?  Because of the loss of hope that they can participate in the life they used to lead and/or wanted to one day lead.

Why does one feel depressed if they don't get a job or a gig or a promotion?  Because of the loss of hope that they experience when they envision their future without that career path.

It's the LOSS of hope that causes the sadness.

Consider this quotation:

"The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope."

That's William Shakespeare in Measure for Measure

See, again, hope is really the only thing that keeps most of us going.  In fact, it's lack of hope that drives people to suicide.  If any of you have ever considered suicide (and it's psychologically normal to think about it sometimes, believe it or not), then you know that the only reason you did NOT actually go through with it is because you or someone else showed that there was another way; another path; HOPE!

This is why Samuel Johnson once said that "hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness, of captivity, would, without this comfort, be insupportable."  Insupportable = suicide, you see.  But hope is what allows us to keep going.   
This is why I tend to never EVER deprive someone of hope.  As they saying goes, "It may be all they have."  But more importantly, it may be the only thing keeping them happy; keeping them sane.  Over the last two years, so many people have given me advice about my breakup, and more often than not, it was crude, rude, unhelpful, blunt, and mean.  Basically along the lines of, "GET OVER HER ALREADY!"  But that doesn't help, because it doesn't provide hope in any capacity. 

But two things DID help, and in the last week.

First, my friend Kelsey told me to write to my ex.  Kelsey studies Chinese with me here in Shanghai.  She told me if I care about her so much, to write to her.  My heart jumped at the thought, but I also knew that writing to her telling her I wanted her back wouldn't really make me feel better.  It would just make me more depressed.  But something inside me knew I had to write to her.  But what?  In the end, I did write to her.  And it was unlike any letter I ever wrote to her.  It was an apology, but an apology in which I didn't expect or want anything in return, and that's why it was so different.   The meat of it said, "I feel I need to write to you to help me get over my guilt and sadness.  The guilt in my soul because I now realize I treated the most amazing girl like she was worthless.  The sadness in my heart knowing that you no longer have a place for me in yours."  It was very short.  But so heartfelt and sincere, and I really did feel better after writing it and sending it.  I never heard back, and I didn't expect to.  But I finally felt like that ended the relationship on a positive note, and I felt so much better as a result.  I finally felt free because I said what I needed to say.  (Which totally debunks that stupid 'no contact' rule, fyi)

Second, my friend Ken Bombace.  He was in Iraq with me, and he's on my email list.  He received my last email, and unlike most people who gave me advice on the situation, actually gave me some constructive and helpful advice.  Advice that helped restore my HOPE!  Not hope that she and I will get back together, but hope in MYSELF; hope in my GREATNESS; hope in my future!  Advice that restored my self-confidence.  He wrote, "Monroe, what's going on with this girl?  What do you mean she left you?  She didn't leave you.  She couldn't leave you.  No one can leave Monroe Mann.  Monroe Mann is omnipresent."  And while it didn't hit me immediately, a few days later, I realized how much of an effect that had on me: it helped to reframe the situation totally, and helped me to realize that I'm a really cool guy—something I have lost sight of these past two years. 

These two events really helped me to start to move forward away from the past I had with that girl.  It helped me to forgive myself, and to realize that there is a future for me still.  HOPE.

But that's not the only reasons my HOPE returned.  There's more. 

For the last two years, I've been dealing with a leg injury from Iraq as well.  I had surgery back in NY but even now, two years later, it's still causing problems.  I nearly lost hope that I would be able to run like I used to; dance like I used to.  But just as my hope was about to completely fade away, I decided to put out a request on WeChat (China's version of Facebook, since Facebook is banned) to see if anyone knew a local orthopedist where I could get an MRI.  Low and behold, one of my students here is a medical student at a local medical school.  She took me to her hospital and for $55 US, I got an MRI.  And strangely enough, the doc said there there is no damage at all: to the meniscus; to the tendons; to the muscles.  Everything looks fine.  Then he looked at my legs: he said that my quad muscle on my left leg is smaller than the right and that the pain when running may simply be due to overuse and thus inflamation.  He recommended I stop running for a while and instead get a bicycle and ride a lot to build up the muscles.  And he gave me some other exercises as well.  And huh... talk about giving me a boost of hope!  

Charles Allen wrote, "When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you're slamming the door in the face of God."  And I think that's right.  Because frankly, God can do anything, and stranger things have happened than a leg getting better.  I frankly don't know if my leg is ever going to get better, but ladies and gents, I finally again have HOPE and for the last two weeks, I've been riding my bike hard through the streets of Shanghai for an hour each time, and I can already feel my quad muscles getting stronger.  HOPE.  HOPE.  HOPE.

For "though you lose all hope, there is still hope, and it loves to surprise," says Robert Brault.  And I am surprised to discover that there is still hope!  And it makes me feel so great!

But today is when it all REALLY hit me.  I was telling my friend Kelsey last week how in my 20s, I didn't care about girls, and I was just 100% focused on my career and books and showbiz.  The girl will come, I thought.  Then, in my 30s, after I got back from Iraq, I realized that I had neglected relationships almost my whole life and it forced me to finally go out and try to find a girlfriend.  And I did.  But I lost her.  Kelsey told me to focus on myself and focus on my work, but I told Kelsey that I didn't want to go back to being single and 'focusing on my work' now---it is what I did for the past two decades! 

But today, something hit me as I was tapping away on my laptop: I realized I was having a blast working on my projects!  And I wasn't thinking of any girls!  My PhD research proposal was just approved by the Institutional Review Board at Capella University and I'm about to start researching interview subjects!  Entrepreneur Press requested a book proposal for my new book, "TRUST"!  Ronnie & I just signed a new contract with a new sales agent in Los Angeles for our film, "You Can't Kill Stephen King"--US distribution is finally coming this Halloween!  Things are moving, and it feels fantastic!  And most importantly, I'm having FUN again!  I'm actually ENJOYING all this, and this is the first time in two years that I have felt any joy from any of my artistic projects.  But hallelujah, it came back!

And why?  HOPE.  For a while, I thought my research proposal would never get approved; I thought I would never again get a publisher interested in a book of mine; I thought the movie had run its course; I thought my leg had no hope of recovery; I thought my future was bleak.  But no!  There is hope!  There is hope rekindled! THERE MUST ALWAYS BE HOPE!

"Hope never abandons you, you abandon it." -- George Weinberg

In the end, I realize that it is I who began to give up because I lost my self-confidence and lost my ability to envision a better future.  It is I who began to feel like nothing would change.  And therefore it was only I who could refind that hope.  But here's the key to my having found it again: even when I had grave doubts, I kept going forward.  As Churchill once said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."  And I was going through hell.  For two long years.  And I did go through hell.  And I did keep going.  And I think I am finally starting to come up from hell and see 'earth' again.  And what a breath of fresh air!--which is ironic for me to say because there is little fresh air here in Shanghai, haha.

My point is this: if you are feeling down lately, it very well may be because you have lost HOPE.  You need to figure out what hope exactly you have last (Hope in what?), and you need to figure out in some way how to REGAIN that hope.  You need to make a list of all the things you can do to potentially get some 'good news', and throw yourself into those things that may be able to help you recover that hope.

I am fond of saying that "time heals all wounds, but waiting's a bitch!"  Pretty funny right!   And acccurate! And sure, it could just take 'time', but even that's not the whole truth.  Time itself won't heal all wounds.  Time itself won't bring back the lost hope.  Something has to happen.  Something has to change in your life.  Something has to come into your life, or something has to leave your life.  A major change.  Time itself affords you the chances for these changes to occur.  But sometimes you need to do more than just wait: you need to jump start those changes.  By changing jobs; by changing countries; by changing habits; by going to new places; whatever!  

Our current president remarked: "Hope -- Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead."

A number of my students really love that I'm from the United States.  "America!"  I always ask why, and usually the answer is the same: "You can don anything there!"  And that's true as well.  Clinton remarked: "I still believe in a place called Hope, a place called America."  And truly, I don't think any country resembles HOPE so much as does the USA, where you can do what you want to do and say what you want to say. 

His point and my point? There ARE better days ahead!  REJOICE!  There are better days ahead!  And that is what I completely and totally forgot and failed to see while living in that cloud of sadness and lost hope these last two years.  I used to dream about my amazing life ahead of me, and used to love just living the life I was leading, but somewhere over the past few years, I lost that ability.  But lately (as in the past few days!), it's come back!  And I'm feeling great about my future again!  And it's all because of HOPE.  Hope RESTORED.  Hope REKINDLED.  

And ironically, I sorta feel like I did in my twenties: I've decided I'm just going to focus on my life, and career, and being awesome, trusting that the right girl will come along.  It's weird: I don't even care so much about 'love' anymore.  If you asked me two weeks ago, I would have told you that I don't want to live alone!  That I want someone to love!  Two weeks ago, there is no way I would ever have said that I'm actually okay being single, but... I finally am!  I AM OKAY BEING SINGLE AGAIN!  And that just blows... my... mind... that I just wrote that.  Wow. 

So here are the lessons learned, in summary:

a) Hope prevents depression; it doesn't cause it

b) Don't trample on anyone's hopes just as you don't want people to trample on yours

c) If you're feeling low, consider whether you have experienced a loss of hope somewhere.  If so, try to figure out what things might restore this hope, and take steps to do exactly that.  

d) Most importantly: WHO CARES IF THE HOPE IS AN IMPOSSIBLE HOPE! Remember the 4-minute mile and Roger Bannister?  Physiologists said it was an impossibility and every runner proved these physiologists correct.  Until Roger Bannister, who was determined to prove that the impossible was possible.  And it WAS possible.  Because he had HOPE.  And go figure, as soon as he ran the 4-minute mile, hundreds of other runners soon followed suit because now THEY had hope. 

Please do not give up my friends!  Please keep your crazy wild dreams alive!  Please remember how amazingly awesome you are.  Please don't forget that there is no one on this earth like you.  Please smile--right now--knowing that YOU ROCK!
And remember… MEET YOU AT THE TOP!
Romp on!
No Rules, No Excuses, No Regrets.

Your friend,

Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Time Zen", "Guerrilla Networking", & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Two Months in China!

It's pretty hard for me to believe too: I've been here in China already for almost two months!  CRAZINESS!  
I'm happy to say that any culture shock has worn off, and I'm a 'regular' local now.  I am nearly done with levels 1 and 2 of my Chinese lessons, and in four weeks, I will begin levels 3 and 4.  I can read about 150 characters now, and can write about 75 of those.  In terms of speaking: I actually can manage just fine now in supermarkets, in taxis, when trying on clothes, and in general just walking around.  My strive is to complete level 8 over the next ten months and take and pass the HSK 3 Chinese proficiency exam at the very least, nd best case, to take and pass HSK 4.  If I pass HSK 4, my Chinese level is good enough to attend a university here and/or work in a Chinese business environment.  

In some interesting news, I found out that all of my published books are available on China's Amazon.  It's called  That was a pleasant surprise, particularly because many of my English students have been asking where they can buy my books.  I thought they would have to get them shipped via Amazon from the states, but no!  They are available here apparently.  That's cool.  

I must admit that I do miss home.  It's weird that I am not going to be in New York City this summer.  Not going to be in Maine.  Just here, in Shanghai, in a place that is essentially landlocked because the rivers are unswimmable and even though the ocean is about an hour away, I don't really want to swim in it.  I'm hoping to take a flight to Sanya this summer with a fellow English teacher/SCUBA diver.  It is absolutely gorgeous there.  

I want to actually do traveling here, but as of yet, I haven't been able to find the time to get away.  I have had more important things to do here on my 'weekends' (which are Wednesday and Thursday).  Things like: 

a) my accounting.  It's weird having an account at home in the US and another bank account here.  I am getting paid for some things back home, and it goes into my home account.  Then, I am also getting paid from my work here into my Chinese bank.  Paying bills is interesting because it's essentially like I have two separate lives.  I can't use the home account to pay bills here unless I withdraw cash, which I don't want to do, because the fees are steep.  I also can't use my Chinese paycheck to pay any bills back home because they are not linked in any way.  I could do wire transfers, but again, it's pricey.  So I run my life back home separately from my life here, which is certainly requiring a lot of creativity.  In this sense, I do look forward to my eventual return home: I look forward to returning to just one bank account. And one Quickbooks checking account.  

I bought a bike yesterday.  Sort of like a 'hooray' gift but also doctors orders.   I had an MRI of my left leg again (it only cost $55 US, amazing right?  Makes me reconsider our own medical system indeed.  I'm not a fan of Obamacare, but how awesome that a guy with no insurance can get an MRI for a mere $55 USD?!----though the average income here in China is far less than in the US, so that too much be taken into consideration).  Anyway, my leg.  I have been having trouble running for over a year now, and everyone thought it was a hamstring problem, or maybe something with my meniscus.  The MRI results: both my meniscus and my hamstring are totally fine.  No injuries at all.  So the pain, the doc says, is from overexertion, i.e. because my left quad is much less built up (i.e. atrophied) than my right quad.  So he told me he thinks the pain will go away if I can build up my quad strength.  And so I shall.  I bought the bike (with the help of one of my awesome English students--a medical student who also helped me at the hospital--named Samantha) as a way to build up my quads without running.  It's something I wanted desperately anyway, but didn't feel it was a necessity.  Yesterday, I bought it, and rode it 5 miles back to my apartment, and let me tell you--it was a necessity!  How much fun it was.  I forgot how much I missed my mountain bike back home.  I went to a local bike shop (Giant brand retailer) and found the least expensive one for 600 RMB (RenMinBi).  But it was like a citibike, and had caliper brakes.  Suddenly, this Italian guy and his girlfriend came in, and he bought a fancy new one for 3000 RMB.  I asked what he is doing with his old mountain bike---the one he rode their with.  Selling it!  So I had my first business transaction in Italian.  Just 400 RMB and then I had the bike shop owner (Chinese guy) put on a new rear tire, add a bike pump, do a tune up, and sell me a helmet.  No one wears helmets here, but honestly, I don't care.  I still remember when my dad got hit by a car while on his bike.  His helmet is the only thing that kept him alive: he hit head first.  Besides, I feel cooler with the helmet.  Weird, I know, but I do.  

Today is Thursday.  The last of my days off.  I have Chinese writing class from 9am- 12pm tomorrow morning, and then work from 1 - 9.  The job is becoming a routine now: I no longer have questions about where I need to be or what I need to do.  Well, with one caveat: every month, I get loaned out to a few of the other Wall Street English centers in the city for a day.  It's actually pretty cool, because it means I get to see another part of the city on the company dime, haha.  And with my bike, I can tour the city on my down time much farther than I could on foot and far more efficiently (I can see more) than by subway.  

I lost my iPad the other day.  THAT sucked.  But here's something very interesting I learned.  After a day, I realized I can live without it.  It's something I cherished so much, but when I lost it, I realized I could live without it.  On the other hand, my ex girlfriend Louisa: I didn't cherish her while I had her, but as soon as she was gone, I realized I couldn't live without her.  It's hard to believe that it's been a whole two years since Louisa and I broke up.  Or rather, until I started ignoring her and she broke up with me.  I have tried for two years to show her how much I care about her (even flying to Germany twice) but it didn't work.  Nothing worked.  I thought quitting my law job in NY, traveling Europe for two months, and moving to China would cure my pining for this girl, but it hasn't.  I didn't think it possible that someone could have left such an impression on me that two years later, I a) still haven't met anyone even close to as awesome as she is, and b) still can't get her out of my head.  I am hoping beyond hope that by the end of this summer, or the very least, the end of 2014, I am no longer thinking of her.  But unfortunately, I find it hard to believe I can ever meet anyone as amazing as she was.  She was my dream girl... and I didn't even realize it until she was gone.  Idiotic me.  Sucks, sucks, sucks.

In positive news, I'm excited to report that my business partner Ronnie and I signed a new contract with a new sales agent in Los Angeles for our film, "You Can't Kill Stephen King"   US DISTRIBUTION THIS OCTOBER BABY!   I also signed another contract with Bob Madia to be my co-writer on two new screenplay stories I have developed.  One is called "Fins" and the other is called "L/K/V".  What are they about?  Not a chance will I tell you, haha!  You'll find out when they are on the big screen!

Anyway, I'm gonna go out and ride my bike around a bit.  It's a sunny day today, or at least, as sunny as it can be with so much pollution.  Oh Shanghai, how I love you, haha.

Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at