Scott Zarcinas

Motivational Speaker | Author | Doctor

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Forget To-Do Lists: What’s on Your ‘To-Be’ List?

‘To be or not to be: that is the question,’ Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet.

It is still a valid and appropriate statement nearly four hundred years later. In today’s busy world, many people are doing a lot, but they’re not being a lot.

We ‘do’ a lot of stuff. We get out of bed every day, drive the same way to work, do the same job, come home and hope that things will be different tomorrow.

But after so much doing, we can get to a point where we feel stuck in a rut and have no real direction, no real purpose. When we’re always doing and rarely being, life can lose its vitality and meaning.

If this sounds familiar to you and your life situation, there is a way to break this cycle of ‘always doing, always tired, never being who you really want to be’.

The essential thing that will accelerate you to where and who you want to be is to focus on your purpose, your why.

Everybody does something for a reason or a purpose. You go to bed for a purpose. You eat breakfast for a purpose. You go to work for a purpose. You come home for a purpose.

For most people, the primary purpose of doing what they do is to earn money. Money puts food on the table, pays for the kid’s education and yearly holidays, and keeps a roof over the family’s heads.

Yet although the finances are okay, the house might be paid off or near to it, the kids never go to bed hungry, and the overseas holidays are fun, there is often a feeling of incompleteness. There is a kind of emptiness that, no matter how much money is in the bank or has been invested, sits unwell in our stomach like an ulcer.

Although we might be outwardly successful, inwardly it doesn’t feel that way. In fact, it feels kind of rough on the inside.

This happens when we focus on doing rather than being. When we are more of a human doing than a human being, it feels rough. And this is exactly what soul sickness, or soulaemia, feels like in its initial stages.

Unfortunately, to our detriment, we seek solutions or treatment to our soulaemia with more doing. We do more of the same thing, working harder, earning more money, and hope that things will change.

But it doesn’t. Situations don’t change until the person changes. A person’s life doesn’t change until priorities change.

And priorities can only change with a change of focus from doing to being.

I distinctly remember the time when this truth was made abundantly clear to me. I was a junior paediatrician in London rushing down the hospital corridor late for work. I had slept in, not wanting to get up, angry at having to be at work, wanting to be somewhere else, wanting to be something else. I hated my job. I hated my work. I hated being forced to do something I didn’t want to do.

As I ran down the corridor to catch up with the morning ward round, I said to myself, ‘I wish this job would change!’

Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks, motionless in the middle of the corridor, with sudden realisation. The thought I had had was this:

The job is never going to change; it will always be what it is. Only you can change.

From that moment on I worked on the inner change required to make my life better and more fulfilled.

Because I have learned that many people have ‘to-do’ lists, which they happily or unhappily go about filling each day and week, but few people have ‘to-be’ lists.

I wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted to be a lot more than that too. So I collated a list of who and what I wanted to be.

A great activity for you to do now, therefore, is to grab a pen and piece of paper and write down your ‘To-Be’ list.

Write down the first 3 ‘I want to be’ things that come to mind. They will usually be the things that you already have thought about improving yourself, or that others have reminded you to work on. Things like, ‘I want to be…’

  • Kinder
  • Nicer to others
  • More compassionate
  • More considerate
  • A better listener
  • Less self-centred
  • More open to other opinions
  • Less angry and prone to outbursts
  • More generous
  • A better parent/brother/sister

Try to avoid writing down things like, richer, stronger, more powerful, more attractive, more successful, things that are physical and thus more aligned with ‘doing’.

Rather, align your list with things that build character and values.

You’re already good at doing, but this exercise helps you to focus also on being. It will help to bring balance back into your daily life.

Once you’ve written your ‘to-be’ list, pin it to your wall or corkboard as a constant reminder of who you want to be. Then, next to it, write another note to yourself asking, “What have you done today to be who you want to be?”

To be or not to be: that is the question.

Now, who said that? 



Dr. Scott Zarcinas is a motivational mentor, author and doctor who gives you the prescription for your best life. Contact him to speak at your next function or event, or join his Facebook group 'Your Natural State of Being' for great tips and advice on how to overcome soulaemia and make the best of every day. 

The Problem With Humanity: Forgetfulness of Our Natural State of Being


The Problem With Humanity

The history of humanity is scarred with torment and pain.

Suffering is an everyday component of our lives. In our efforts to eradicate the alleged causes of it, such as disease and illness, we have managed to conjure magical medicines and develop tremendous scientific techniques.

In our efforts to accrue greater happiness and freedom, we have managed to build marvelous machines and invent terrific technology.

We have tried in many ways to increase pleasure and limit pain, all to no avail. Hunger and famine are rife throughout the world. Wars and torture continue unabated. Women are still physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Children die in the thousands every day from preventable illnesses and lack of potable water.

Mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction are at pandemic proportions. Due to the over-exploitation of the planet’s resources, the rainforests are dwindling at an alarming rate and the oceans’ fish stocks are threatened with extinction.

Our efforts to build a better world, one in which every man, woman and child can live in peace and harmony, where everyone has equal rights, has shelter from the elements and food to share, have been a failure.

Read more about Your Natural State of Being

Thankfully, this is not necessarily the whole truth. It may seem as if what we have is as good as it gets, but there is a path that will lead us out of the mess we have created.

Although it must be said, the path is not an easy one. It is certainly no quick-fix solution, nor is it pleasant or trouble-free. In fact, to the majority, it will be repugnant. But it is, as it has always been, our only hope.

Like any disease or illness, two requirements must be fulfilled before a cure for humanity’s suffering is even considered a possibility. Firstly, the presence of the illness or disease must be correctly identified and completely accepted before it can be treated: the acknowledgment of suffering is a prerequisite to its cure. Secondly, there must exist the will to eradicate it.

I know of a high-flying friend in the corporate world who refuses to accept the notion that he is suffering. In quiet moments, Peter readily admits to continuing bouts of depression, loneliness, and fatigue, but will then claim that these symptoms are nothing in comparison to the “real” suffering experienced by those living in the Third World.

It is as if the acknowledgment of suffering is a weakness, and weakness is not something the corporate world looks kindly upon. His ego will not even allow him to consider the possibility that mental torment is as valid as physical torture in regards to suffering. Consequently, his attitude of, “Everything’s all right. There’s nothing wrong with me,” leads to the delay of his healing and prolongation of his symptoms. Denial for Peter, like so many others, merely perpetuates the problem.

The second requirement for healing humanity’s problems is desire and intent, or will. Once the presence of suffering has been fully acknowledged, the next step is to develop the will to do something about it.

In the Buddhist tradition, the desire to end human suffering is called compassion and the desire for others to find happiness is called loving-kindness. It is, in fact, no surprise that will is the beating heart of compassion and loving-kindness. Will opens up pathways that were previously hidden. If there is no desire or intent to change our beliefs or points of views, if there is no will to seek beyond the horizon, we won’t even look for alternative paths or routes to lead us out of our suffering.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” as the saying goes.

Taking a medical point of view, a sick patient must develop the will to improve his or her state of health before healing can begin: a patient must want to get better.

This includes agreeing to the type and course of treatment and any other procedures identified by the health professionals, what is known as compliance. Wanting to get better may sound like plain common sense, but it is surprising the number of patients that have a vested interest in remaining unwell and that secretly harbor abhorrence of any treatment that might actually improve their condition.

Pain and suffering to some, is beneficial. It can provide much-needed attention for the lonely. It can provide a sense of bitter joy to those with a masochistic personality, to those that know happiness only through wallowing in misery. Most of all, it can provide a sense of identity, or more precisely, a sense of victim identity to those with a highly developed blame personality.

I know of a man with a particular narcissistic bent who likes nothing more than to regale his guests and fellow bus commuters with stories of malpractice and outrageous indecencies perpetrated by the medical or legal profession. He has become bitter with age, but the last thing he wants is to get better and end his suffering. He has invested so much of himself in his pain that to become pain-free would, in effect, be a loss of identity and that, to him, would be like dying.

In finding a cure (do we dare yet call it salvation?) for the suffering on our planet, therefore, we must identify and acknowledge what the problem facing humanity actually is and then we, as a collective whole, must want to do something about it. We cannot afford to live in denial of our problems, nor can we afford to have a vested interest in maintaining our suffering.

The fate of humanity and the planet is at stake.

*This article is an excerpt from Dr. Scott Zarcinas' book, Your Natural State of Being, and published here with permission from the publisher.



Dr. Scott Zarcinas is a motivational mentor, author and doctor who gives you the prescription for your best life. Contact him to speak at your next function or event, or join his Facebook group 'Your Natural State of Being' for great tips and advice on how to make the best of every day. 


The Banana Trap: How to Escape Your Own Personal Ground Hog Day


Have you ever felt trapped in your own personal Groundhog Day of recurring frustrations and other emotions?

Do you wake up each morning fearing it’s going to be a replay of the days and weeks before?

Do all your efforts to change your situation end with the same result again and again?

The common denominator in all our problems is our self, whether we want to admit it or not. Other people and situations may seem similar in our day-to-day life, and it’s easy to blame them for our woes, but people and events are just moments that pass.

We, however, are the permanent factor in all our experiences.

Fortunately, we can walk or run away from other people and situations that cause us frustration and stress. We can’t, however, run away from ourselves.

Which can be a problem. A big problem.

Especially when we turn to alcohol, gambling, drugs (prescribed or otherwise), and other means of escape, like having an affair, or continual job seeking, or travel just for travel’s sake.

But you can’t run away from yourself.

Your problems always follow you, no matter what new job you’ve just secured, or the new relationship you’ve just begun, or the next holiday destination you’ve just landed.

Every second marriage in Western countries ends in divorce. But it’s actually worse for second and third marriages—60% and 73% end in divorce respectively.

Wherever—or whomever—you run to, you always take your baggage with you.

In the jungles of Africa, legend tells of an ingenious method to catch chimpanzees. In a small cage, hunters secure a banana to one of its bars as bait. The cage itself is also fixed, usually to a branch of a tree, so that it cannot be wrenched loose.

Once set, there is only one way to access the banana: the chimpanzee must place its hand through an opening to grasp the bait. The chimpanzee is free to let go of the banana whenever it realizes it’s fixed and it is just as free to remove its hand from the cage and flee to safety.

Yet the chimpanzee will not let go of the banana, even when the hunters have returned and are poised to bag their prey.

Herein lies the beauty of the banana trap: the chimpanzee has been trapped by nothing other than its own self:

It is a prisoner of its own desire.


Seneca, a Roman poet around the time of Marcus Aurelius, said:

“He who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.”


There is probably an event in your past in which you have hung on to that has caused, and may still be causing, unnecessary stress, frustration, despair, even anger.  

Yet our primate cousins aren’t the only ones to fall victim of The Banana Trap. Probably every human being that has ever lived has, at least once in their life, become trapped in it.

The Banana Trap is nothing less than the physical or psychological experience of stress and suffering caused by our unwillingness to let go of our ‘bananas’.

These ‘bananas’ are the internal and external stressors we hang on to, and they tend to fall into four categories:

  1. Possession
  2. Emotion
  3. Pleasure and Pain
  4. Beliefs and Behaviors

Each ‘banana’ is different and unique to each person because it is based on our:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Personal preferences

What will trap some will not trap another. Here is a list of some common ‘bananas’ that trap us in The Banana Trap:

POSSESSIONS: House & Car, Work & Career, Partners & Children, Jewellery & Art, Money

EMOTIONS: Fear, Anger, Hatred, Pride, Greed

PLEASURE & PAINSex, Sport, Entertainment, Drugs, Illness

BELIEFS & BEHAVIOUR: Religion, Atheism, Socialism, Capitalism, Just Causes

Although it may seem daunting and overwhelming, freedom from The Banana Trap of repetitive emotions is possible.

This is because the one true thing you have control over is the power to choose.

You have the power to choose what you focus on. And what you focus on, you experience.

Focusing, therefore, on your ‘bananas’—Possessions, Emotions, Pleasure and Pain, Beliefs and Behaviors—and then choosing to let go of them, frees you from confining walls of The Banana Trap.

Not only that, it prevents you from returning to your old ways and hanging onto whatever is causing you pain and stress.

It keeps you free for as long as you choose.

That’s your power.

'Remember, the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be is how you think!'


Dr. Scott Zarcinas is a motivational mentor, author and doctor who gives you the prescription for your best life. Contact him to speak at your next function or event, or join his Facebook group 'Your Natural State of Being' for great tips and advice on how to make the best of every day. 




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