The Little Things – An Incomplete List

I’m feeling kind of “bleh” today. I don’t really know why, but there are many suspects. Maybe it is the rainy dreary weather, which means the Oregonian in me is truly gone. Or maybe it is because I ate two cupcakes last night and my body isn’t really used to sugar that doesn’t come straight from a fruit anymore. It is also possible that the relative lack of sleep last night it affecting me. I’ve also been spending too much time on Facebook, which definitely can’t be helping. Who knows, the reason is kind of irrelevant. It is just a fact that I am feeling bleh today and my urge to pick up a beer is pretty high (so far I’ve resisted that urge).

Luckily, I stuck with my daily routine. It was tough sitting down to meditate today, but I did it. I put my Headspace app on and listened to that soothing, guiding Australian accent and it really helped, specifically because I happen to be listening to the “Appreciation” pack. The meditation guide suggested that I focus on the things I appreciate, as normal, but this time he mentioned that I shouldn’t feel bad if the first thing that pops into my head is something small instead of something big. There is nothing wrong with appreciating a cup of coffee instead of your parents from time to time.

That gave me an idea, I wanted to list some of the little things about today that I appreciate. It is a given (or at least should be) that I appreciate my amazing partner, my dog, my family and friends, and living in the 21st Century, but my life is made up of mini-moments that each has something to appreciate. So, here is my incomplete list:

  • A friend of mine sent me some cash unexpectedly but the timing was good
  • The line at the bank was really short today
  • While cycling home from the gym I found my yoga mat that I lost yesterday, it looks like someone moved it safely to the side of the road and it is undamaged.
  • I was smiled at today
  • The machines and weights I wanted at the gym were pretty empty
  • While cycling home a nice driver waved me into to traffic so that I didn’t have to wait
  • I figured out a great coffee mix to enjoy during my morning reading
  • Five of my tomato plants and one of my pepper plants are starting to bear fruit
  • I was invited to meet with the leaders of a local housing organization that I’m trying to get on the board of directors of
  • I found out about a pretty cool ICO opportunity and I had some spare Ethereum to send that way
  • My body is responding really well to my workout plan and I’m almost at my target weight
  • I found a local therapist and a dentist
  • I feel like my Spanish language work is actually paying off
  • I can see two birds in the yard right now
  • I have friends who sell me their art
  • My peace lily has a half dozen beautiful flowers on it
  • I found a cheap flight from Orlando to San Francisco for a trip I’m taking in September
  • I was recently invited to return as a guest to one of my favorite podcasts
  • I’m wearing warm socks that I just got out of the dryer
  • Bananas

In closing, I need to listen to one of my favorite Stoic philosophers, Spose (video and lyrics below)

Look, I don’t have a mansion
I’ve never been to the Hamptons
It’s more likely you’d find me if you came up here and went camping
I got bills stacked like Jenga
Respected less than most singers
But you don’t see me sulk about or wallow in self-doubt and let that linger
Look, I still haven’t been killed
I got pills every time I got ill
I don’t got mils to top cough drops
Or a house in the hills
But I won’t feel sorry for myself
I don’t need anything opulent as long as I got oxygen
(Ya Mean)

[Chorus]
Tonight if you see me knockin’ on wood
That’s just cause I’m doin’ so fucking good
I don’t hate my life, No it’s goin’ alright
That’s why tonight you see me knocking on wood

I got all my limbs
I don’t got cancer, I’m superb
I never got kidnapped on my way to work
Got free education, Bitch I’m learnt!
But some people aren’t so lucky
Knock on wood

I don’t got HD Tv, But I got insulation
I got no Lamborghinis, But I got vaccinations
I got a microwave, I got some pocket change
But even if I didn’t, No complaints

[Chorus]

Peter Sparker back up in this bitch is on
Say free country, I can say what the fuck I want
Shit!
Bitch!
Cunt!
Fuck the government!
Buy my songs!
Some places you say Shit like this and you get your hands cut off

Lucky aren’t we?
All this time to get drunk and party, puke up food while kids are starving
All of Somalia, not one Arby’s
We’re popin’ water bottles, What!
We’re gettin tattooed, What!
Were gettin fat, takin naps, eatin mad food

[Chorus]

Look, I don’t have a mansion
I’ve never been to the Hamptons
It’s more likely you’d find me if you came up here and went camping
I got bills stacked like Jenga
Respected less than most singers
But you don’t see me sulk about or wallow in self-doubt and let that linger
Look, I still haven’t been killed
I got pills every time I got ill
I don’t get mils to top cough drops
Or a house in the hills
But I won’t feel sorry for myself
I don’t need anything opulent as long as I got oxygen
(Sing it!)

I’d love to hear from you… (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH).

Be a Ripple in My Pond

There was a time in my life when I hated how interconnected humans had to be. For me, true strength came from a sort of perverse rugged individuality where emotions were banished and isolation was the ideal. I heard phrases like “no man is an island” and my response was “no, but it would be better if we were”. If each human interaction is a ripple on the pond of life I preferred a still pond or, at the most, one with tiny ripples caused by interactions the size of sand. But, as my life progressed I began to realize that a still pond is a stagnant pond, and stagnation is death. A stagnant pond is one where foul smells emanate off of toxic growth. Isolation is where the worst ideas take root and breed with other bad ideas.

Now, I enjoy the vibrancy of humans (even if my introvert batteries wear out quickly and I’m often exhausted) and I find it beautiful how our different interactions can spread and collide. Instead of seeking sand or stillness in my pond, I seek boulders that cause deep experiences and many rocks scattered around. I want quality and quantity ripples in my life, and seeing those ripples take new forms is a wonder.

Take, for example, my friend Jules (name changed). I met Jules on the two-year bike trip I took when she volunteered to host us via Couchsurfing.com. In the beginning, she was just another random host, we’d stayed with dozens at that point and it was impossible to tell which would be lasting friends and which would be an encounter that faded into the past with little memory of the experience. Sure, we had a good time drinking at a local pub and chatting about life, but my partner had done that with lots of folks over the thousands of miles we cycled. When we left her home I had very little reason to believe that all of our lives would be meaningfully altered by the experience.

Well, Jules kept in touch with us via Facebook and Snapchat sexting, and over the following years, our friendship grew deeper. Then, when she had the time, she went on her own little adventure that had a stop with us in Wilmington. While she stayed with us she found a job with a traveling circus that happened to be in town and she decided to travel with them for a while. That adventure took her across the country and introduced her to new people, one of whom she is now dating and cycling across the country with.

So, simply by opening her door to two random people (and a dog) her life was forever changed, and so was ours. I’m sure we can all look back at minor decisions or lucky chance that shaped our lives and made it more vibrant and beautiful. The random dorm roommate assignment who later introduces you to your spouse. The random military post assignment that brings you to a new state where you find the perfect college. Each experience we share with others vibrates through existence and that vibration stirs the pond to allow for healthy life. We all have a story and those stories are made better (and we are made better people) when our stories interact with each other.

This all reminds me of the words “sonder” from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

sonder

n. the reaization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling dep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Got something to say? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH).

What Needs to be Done

It still amazes me how easily and consistently I ignore advice even when it is repeated from multiple sources over and over again. For example, as I struggle to grow and reach my potential there are two pieces of advice that have come up time and time again in books and conversations: block off time for only your craft and find a mentor.

Yet, I continue to ignore that or procrastinate it or justify not doing it or fill my time with filler work that isn’t truly important. I’ve never been good at taking other people’s advice or learning from their mistakes, I always seem to learn the hard way (cue: dcTalk). Instead of blocking off significant time to write daily I just pump out a blog post and call myself a “writer”. I know I should be spending 4 hours a day staring at a screen, showing up consistently so that the mighty Muses will know where to find me, I know what I should do, I know I have the ability to do it, but yet I neglect it. Part of me is scared… scared the inspiration will never come, scared that art is beyond me, scared that the time will be wasted… so instead I guarantee that inspiration won’t come on my own terms, I stay firmly planted away from frontiers of my own mind and potential, I waste the time myself.

Similarly, I avoid looking for a mentor. Part of it is a genuine ignorance to where to look. How do I find someone to keep me accountable? I’ve never really had mentors in my life. I love my father, he is a great man, but our lives are so different that he can’t really provide guidance. The relationships I’ve had with religious leaders have been primarily harmful to my development and I’ve never been involved in sports. I had an Army sergeant that was a bit of a mentor, as well as a college professor but it would feel so strange to reach out to them and I don’t think they have the skills to help. I guess I could pay for a life coach… but that feels weird in a way, I’m not sure why. Maybe that old adage “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” is true and I’m not ready (but how do I get ready), or maybe that statement is spiritual nonsense.

I wish I could say this blog post is a recommitment to fixing my problems, but it really isn’t. It is simply me doing some introspection and voicing my frustrations. Maybe someone out there has advice? It is rare that I open myself up for advice* in a broad way like this, but feel free to email me (pjneiger@gmail.com) or send a message to my SurveyMonkey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). Blargh.

*I actually loathe people who offer unsolicited advice. It is one of my only pet peeves.

Alcohol – Revisited

Last week I decided to take a week off of drinking. I wasn’t perfect at abstaining for seven days, but I think it was an overall success. I didn’t drink any alcohol Monday-Thursday, shared one beer with my partner on Friday, drank 5 beers during my calorie splurge day on Saturday, and split two beers with my partner on Sunday. Overall, I drank six beers, which is a significant reduction from 21 beers I had the week before. To put that in calorie and financial terms, I spent $30 less on beer and consumed 2,325 calories less. Over a month that would amount to $120 and 9,300 calories, or 1/3 of my rent and 3 lbs. Or, to extrapolate it out even further, if I take that $120 each month and put it into my Wealthfront investment account I’ll have about $1,650, which would basically pay for a big chunk of our honeymoon to Iceland. And, I’ll be about 36lbs lighter… which is actually kind of ridiculous because then I would way 115lbs, which is unhealthy, but you get the point. (Or if I put that money into Ethereum I would be a bazillionaire by August)

Now, I have no intention of abstaining completely from alcohol. I don’t think that is necessary or practical for me, but I do want to continue to trim out “unnecessary” beers.

So, what is “unnecessary”? Basically, the beer that I drink because I’m bored, stressed out, feeling slothful, mindless drinking, or when I’m feeling uncomfortable in a public setting. If I can work towards eliminating that type of drinking then I think it will further my other goals, whether they be my financial, work, physical fitness, mental health, or social goals.

Another way to look at it is to list out the situations where I think having a beer is more appropriate for me. I don’t think it needs to be a special occasion, but I think there should be a reason and I want to consciously ask myself before cracking one open “why am I going to drink this?”

Here is my incomplete list of reasons when I can justify drinking, but I still want to stick to 1-2 total in a day:

  • Splitting a high-quality drink with my partner while watching a movie
  • Out socializing with friends (in moderation)
  • While doing yard work in the hot sun
  • Special occasions like parties or events at the local bottle shop
  • My calorie “cheat day” (I’m on the fence on this one… it may not justify drinking but I am also not going to berate myself if I drink)

Hmm, that’s all I can come up with. That’s a much smaller list than I expected. Oh well, the better I get at drinking in moderation at appropriate times (and maybe getting wasted during super special occasions), the healthier my waistline and my pocketbook will be.

Wanna hear my thoughts on some random controversial subject like abortion? Got a question for me that is too personal to ask directly? Do you just want to tell me that I’m not living life correctly? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) and if you need inspiration check out the previous questions that I’ve answered here and you’ll see that no subject is off limits.

Our Energy Should Be Spent on That Which We Can Change

I had a Facebook friend respond to a post I made about circumcision in a way that I felt warranted a blog post response. This is kind of rare for me because usually Facebook comments are only slightly a step above the comment thread on media websites and very little value comes from engaging people in a public argument.

**Side Note: The person who made the comment is someone that I’ve never met in person. I met them through my brother and playing D&D online. One of the amazing things about D&D, particularly a group that is kind of randomly assembled, is it brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds. My current group is made up of people that range in age by probably 30 years, are different races, genders, birthplaces, and economic backgrounds. It is a melting pot. Anyway, on to the meat of the blog post**

The post that my friend commented on was about circumcision. This isn’t my first time posting about this topic, but it is still one of the topics that seems to bring a lot of disagreement, much to my surprise. I am against circumcision for a variety of reasons, but I realize many people disagree. My friend posted this in response to the topic:

It’s so weird I’ve never heard you once post about how women’s clitorises are being removed completely by a huge portion of the world population primarily in the middle east, yet you won’t stop posting about a little bit of foreskin. Your views seem so intolerant of western culture. I’m not pro-foreskin removal per say but it’s absolutely nothing compared to clitoris removal. I’m not saying you are pro-clitoris removal either, I’m just saying one issue is obviously more pressing.

Okay, whew, there is a lot to unpack here so let’s get started. First, a quick correction: transgender men often have clitorises too, it isn’t just a female body part.

Alright, it shouldn’t be weird that you haven’t seen me post much about female genital mutilation if you understand my personal life philosophy. I have posted about FGM before, but it is true it isn’t as often, that’s because I believe that energy should be used on the things in life that we can actually change. Awareness without action is worthless.

I can’t stop FGM throughout the world because, like the commenter said, it is happening primarily on the other side of the globe. I don’t have many, if any, Facebook friends there and I don’t have the resources to travel there. Basically, to post something about FGM would be nothing but signaling to like-minded people that I agree with them. That has some value in some cases, but not in this case because, again as the commenter said, I am against FGM, for many of the same ethical reasons that I’m against circumcision. We should not prioritize our energy into things based on how evil they are, we should prioritize our energy into things based on how much we can actually affect change. This is the same reason that I would take care of my wife when she has the flu over trying to find someone in Cameroon that has cancer and help treat them. The latter task is nearly impossible and would cost a considerable amount of resources and time, even if I recognize having cancer is worse than having the flu.

I think the world would be a better place if less focus was on “awareness” and more focus was on action. It might feel good to share articles proclaiming your disgust for the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt or the LGBT community in Chechnya, but that does little more than provide signaling to your group that you share their values. That might make for good conversation around the pre-church service coffee table or over avocado toast and mimosas at lunch but it doesn’t help save the lives of those in need.

So yes, I choose to focus on the things that I think can have an impact on the world. I share articles that are applicable to people in my life and I try to present my point of view in a challenging, but loving way. Now, that brings us to the second main point, that I am somehow “intolerant of western culture”. First, a quick correction, circumcision is not part of “western culture”. It might be part of the American and Canadian culture, but the vast majority of “western culture” (however you define that) has low rates of circumcision. In fact, circumcision is primarily done in Africa and the Middle East, so if we are looking at numbers it is primarily part of the Arab culture.

But, that doesn’t address the complaint that intolerant to western culture. The answer to that, like all things, is kind of nuanced. Basically, yes and no. I don’t think I’m intolerant to western culture but I don’t think we shouldn’t criticize the parts of it that are wrong. Society is ever-changing, there is no end to western culture, and the most appropriate people to institute criticisms and change are those within the system.

Americans should be the primary ones to criticize and fight for change within the US.
Christians should be the primary ones to criticize and fight for change within the Church.
Students and teachers should the primary ones to criticize fight for change within the schools.
Police officers should be the primary ones to criticize and fight for change within law enforcement.

Fighting for improvement within your group doesn’t make you a traitor to the group, it makes you a hero. When someone from the outside tells us how to live our lives then we bunker down and fight harder, even if they are right. But if someone within our life tells us ways to improve then we are more willing to listen. Change in society, much like the individual, comes from the inside. It is like Christ said in Matthew 7:5 “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”. We should constantly aim to improve the world in which we live, starting with the spheres of influence in which we are closest to so that we can be an example to other places and provide shelter and strength to those in need.

Wanna hear my thoughts on some random controversial subject like abortion? Got a question for me that is too personal to ask directly? Do you just want to tell me that I’m not living life correctly? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) and if you need inspiration check out the previous questions that I’ve answered here and you’ll see that no subject is off limits.

Divorce Selfies

Yesterday I shared on Facebook an amazing Buzzfeed “article” about Divorce Selfies (also, Bill Murray). Basically, people are getting divorced and taking (mostly) happy pictures of themselves with their ex. There were a few awkward ones where it appears that one party either wasn’t ready for the picture or didn’t really want a divorce. You can’t really tell what’s going on in all of them, a picture may be work a thousand words but those words may not be accurate, but I really love the happy ones.

I think the legal institution of marriage is going to continue to weaken and become more temporary in our world, and that isn’t a bad thing. As a society, we need to recognize that people change and the person we were when we sign a marriage contract (often at a super young age before our brains are fully formed) may not be the same as the person we are 10, 20, or 50 years later. Loyalty to a relationship in which you are no longer happy or no longer helps you grow as a person is not a noble trait. And, as people start to live longer and longer as we inch towards immortality the idea of a committing to an infinite unknown will see ludicrous (check out “The Postmortal” by Drew Magary for a cool dystopian novel that touches on this issue). Additionally, friendship should survive a breakup (as long as nobody was abusive). It is better to end a marriage and remain friends than remain married and end up loathing each other.

I know some people will object to divorce because to them it is a spiritual institution. That is great for those people and a choice they made, but when marriage became a legal institution with benefits that are provided by a secular government the “spiritual” part of it became irrelevant to divorce. I’m not sure how marriage became a legal institution in the United States. I’ve heard all kinds of theories from conservatives wanting to prevent black and white people from marrying each other to the government wanting to discriminate against Mormons to men wanting to be able to legally own women to Christians wanting special treatment under the law, but why it came to be is irrelevant. If something is a legal institution in the United States it is going to expand to include everybody equally (ie Marriage Equality) and people are going to develop a way to alter or leave the contract.

Maybe this should be a lesson to people who want their particular beliefs or institutions to be protected by law. When you get the government involved the incentives may not be what you expect. I think a lot of religious institutions are starting to recognize that, particularly Christianity which has been given special treatment for 200 years. Fox News may claim that there is a “War on Christians” in the United States but that simply isn’t true, the power that Christians hold in this country should never have been concentrated in their hands. They are losing power, yes, but they are losing power they should never have had.

So yes, people are going to get happily divorced and members of the LGBT community will get happily married. Satanists are going to be able to start clubs at high schools and put up monuments on state property as long as Christians can. And as long as city council meetings begin with a prayer then pagans are going to be able to participate. Of course, the simplest solution is to get all religious practices and symbolism completely out of government, but I somehow doubt that will happen any time soon.

Wanna hear my thoughts on some random controversial subject like abortion? Got a question for me that is too personal to ask directly? Do you just want to tell me that I’m not living life correctly? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) and if you need inspiration check out the previous questions that I’ve answered here and you’ll see that no subject is off limits.

Brain Dump

Today was a super busy work day and I had to prioritize that stuff over writing (sad panda). So, despite it being my fast day I haven’t been able to really sit down and do a blog post and my brain is kind of burnt out, but I gotta keep the habit alive and write every day. I’m just going to put some random stuff down that is in my mind instead of something more thought out.

  • The week of abstaining from alcohol is going well. At this point last week I had consumed 9 drinks, which is about half a pound worth of calories or ~$20.
  • Related to above (maybe), my food calorie consumption is down, my exercise routine is up, and I’ve hit all my meditation, reading, and work goals this week
  • I think both sides of the abortion argument should try to understand the other side better
  • One issue voters tend to be shortsighted, lack an understanding of how our federal government works, respond to signals more than substance, and generally make the country worse off
  • I’m so excited that it looks increasingly likely that medicinal MDMA will be a reality in the next 5-10 years
  • I’m increasingly annoyed with people who are wet blankets or like to do “drive by” negative comments on Facebook posts
  • I’m considering shaving my chest hair
  • I’m a little frustrated that my tomato plants aren’t growing that well, maybe I’m not being patient enough or maybe I planted them in a poor place
  • America is going to become increasingly less important on a global stage, both economically and politically, in the next century
  • I’m going to climb a mountain next year
  • I think it is time to start exploring BDSM in a more focused way
  • I’m starting to like my body again, which is kind of nice
  • I’d like to see more nipples on my Snapchat (@pneiger)
  • I wish I was more confident about my fiction writing

Okay, that’s enough brain dump for now.

Wanna hear my thoughts on some random controversial subject like abortion? Got a question for me that is too personal to ask directly? Do you just want to tell me that I’m not living life correctly? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) and if you need inspiration check out the previous questions that I’ve answered here and you’ll see that no subject is off limits.

Alcohol

I’ve decided to take a week off of drinking.

Drinking hasn’t particularly harmed my life recently or anything, though I could certainly go without the extra calories and drain on my finances. I haven’t made poor decisions while drinking, it isn’t hurting my job or my relationships, I haven’t been drinking in excess. But, I’ve noticed something more subtle going on.

I find myself craving it, which is a new experience for me. I’ve never had much of an addictive personality and I’ve been able to stop everything from meat to tobacco to alcohol to video games to masturbation without really much of a struggle. So, this change in my relationship with alcohol kind of terrifies me, and it has been going on for a while.

I’ve spent the last few months trying to justify it away and pretend it “isn’t that bad” (and, on many level, it isn’t that bad). I compared myself to others and said: “See, they have a problem… they are losing relationships and jobs and have liver failure, who am I to complain about a few unexpected cravings?” But that was just an excuse to put off doing what I knew I needed to do. I realize that we should never compare our own mental health to others as a way to put off taking care of ourselves. My PTSD, trichotillomania, stress, financial difficulties, etc. are always “less bad” than someone else’s, but that doesn’t mean I am unworthy of care or should just shut up about it. Self care is the most important thing.

To be honest, I didn’t really realize how bad things were until I started tracking how many drinks I have each day. It is rarely more than 3-4, but when that happens day after day after day I realized something wasn’t really working. I was drinking to relax, drinking to be productive, drinking to deal with stress, drinking mindlessly while watching a movie or playing video games or reading a book. It was almost never just one beer (which is what I would tell myself in the beginning), but one justified two (because 1-2 is a moderate amount, right?) and two justified three.

So, I’m taking a break. I’m not abstaining forever because I don’t think abstinence is the best path to psychological health. I need a healthy relationship with alcohol, not one that demands perfection. Alcohol is a part of our culture and it can be an incredibly beneficial and healthy part of life, but there is danger there (just like there is danger in all things). I need to build up the strength to drink at more appropriate times (and there are MANY appropriate times) and I need to make sure I am the one in control. Cravings will happen, but I want to prove to myself that I am stronger than the cravings.

I guess we will see how it goes, today is the third day of my 7-day (or maybe longer?) break. So far, it hasn’t been too bad, but I almost slipped yesterday and there is always temptation. Maybe I should actually write down what I think are appropriate times and amounts to drink as a thought experiment and then when my break is over I can work on only drinking during those times. Hmm, yeah, I think that is a good next step.

Different Pursuits

It is so easy to judge people and minimize their accomplishments when those accomplishments are different than the ones we pursue. I have looked upon people who are incredibly fit and had a knee-jerk, judgment that they must be dumb or they are wasting their time at the gym. But why do I feel this way? I looked down upon “jocks” when I was in high school because I thought my intellect made me their superior, but classes came easily to me and my spare time was spent playing Star Trek: The Customizable Card Game and eating pizza, while they were putting in hours at the gym, eating healthy food, and likely studying more for class than I ever did. I was an asshole in high school (and, unfortunately, I still am a subconscious asshole from time to time). Getting up every day for years and working out is incredibly mentally tough. Training the body, whether it is for sport or maximizing human potential is an intellectual pursuit that most people can’t handle, I know I sure can’t.

And then, when people show off the abs that they have worked for and sacrificed for they have done there is a twinge of both jealousy and disgust. But would I feel this way if an artist friend showed off their latest painting or if an author advertised a newly completed book that spent years of daily work to accomplish? No, I probably wouldn’t. But for some reason, certain categories of hard work are judged harshly. When I really break it down, every person on this planet is working to do the best they can with the genetics and social status that they were given.

Should my college degree be praised, even though it came easy? Is it hard work and perseverance that we celebrate and, inversely, laziness and sloth that we shun? Or do we simply celebrate those that choose a path that we can relate to instead of putting ourselves in the shoes of others and recognizing when someone has the dedication to a pursuit that they love, that waking up at 6:00am and doing the work that needs to be done (whether that is going for a run, yoga, writing a novel, building a business, studying philosophy, or raising children) is mentally hard.

We all face struggles and we could all use a little more support, and I think it would benefit us all to realize that each person is human and many of the rewards being reaped came from hard work. Whether it is rock hard abs, mastery over a musical instrument, or the creation of a million dollar app. Yes, privilege and genetics and social norms play a part, but so does bunkering down and just doing what needs to be done, and instead of glaring at people who direct their energy in ways we don’t understand we should be rejoicing in the diversity of minds out there. You never know when a bodybuilder or an artist or an entrepreneur is going to inspire a revolution in some other field. Life and knowledge is intertwined, and the best thing we can do is take the gifts we have and pursue what we love.

Wanna hear my thoughts on some random controversial subject like abortion, circumcision, or whether IPAs are good? Got a question for me that is too personal to ask directly? Do you just want to tell me I’m a douchebag? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) and if you need inspiration check out the previous questions that I’ve answered  here  and you’ll see that no subject is off limits.

The One Thing

I am currently reading through “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It isn’t a huge surprise that I’m reading a book like this, I tend to find a lot of value in reading books that try to encourage success and productivity. I’m usually reading something like this in addition to one work of fiction and one work of non-fiction.

Anyway, the basic concept of this book is that you should identify one thing that will make everything else easier or unnecessary and then focus only on accomplishing that one thing. No multi-tasking, no balancing, and no shooting for mediocre targets, instead you focus only on one thing and then move on from that. We each have limited motivation during the day and if we waste it on unimportant things then we won’t accomplish what we want.

Overall, I’ve found it valuable and I’ve cut down my monstrous “to do” list into a few things that must be done. For example, I have three areas of life that I’m focusing on: work, physical health, and mental health. Each area has an activity that I’m focusing on for 66 days (because 66 days is the average time that you must do something daily for it to become a habit), in my case that means going for a run every day, writing a blog post every day, and meditating every day. When I finish the complete 66 days I’ll ask myself what is the next one thing to accomplish my life goals and then focus in on that again. Maybe it’ll be a daily weight lifting or yoga routine for my physical health, or studying a foreign language or musical instrument for my mental health, or writing a novel to advance my work as an author.

Well, in today’s reading I found something the authors said kind of interesting. They said that there is a specific order of life areas that work the best, specifically that focusing on things in this order will maximize results. The order is spiritual life, physical health, personal life, key relationships, job, business, and finances. Basically, if you work on your spiritual life it will make your physical health easier, which will make your personal life easier, etc.

So here are the rough definitions of each life section:

Spiritual Life – How we interact with our community and our relationship with God. I’m an atheist so that last point is moot, but I do find value in the community and certain spiritual practices such as pagan ceremonies.

Physical Health – Exercise, healthy diet, and mental health. My diet and exercise are pretty solid, but there is always room for improvement.

Personal Life – This is personal growth in hobbies and skills and finding time for yourself.

Key Relationships – Pretty self-explanatory, family, friends, partner, etc.

Job – This is the area that focuses on accomplishing what you want to accomplish within your role at work

Business – This is focusing on how to move your business forward

Finances – Increasing net worth, investment cash flow, debt reduction, etc.

I find the order kind of interesting, but it makes sense. I currently don’t break down things in that way, but I think I’m going to next week when I hold a weekly staff meeting with myself and type up the agenda (a tip from “The War of Art”). I’m always looking for new habits and insights and techniques to avoid being stagnant.

Wanna hear my thoughts on some random controversial subject like abortion, circumcision, or whether IPAs are good? Got a question for me that is too personal to ask directly? Do you just want to tell me I’m a douchebag? Send me an anonymous message and I’ll respond on my blog! Just fill out this simple form on SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) and if you need inspiration check out the previous questions that I’ve answered  here  and you’ll see that no subject is off limits.