“Whole Motion” by Derek Beres

I’ve read a couple different places that the most successful people in America read around 60 books per year. It isn’t because they have more free time, it is because they use their time in a way that allows them to consume more. I don’t know if there is a specific direction of causation between success and reading, but I would be willing to bet that they are a feedback loop.

Anyway, I am trying to up my reading and want to read one book per week. That’ll bring me to 52 books, I think the other 8 will come from the Audiobooks I listen to. I may never get caught up on Game of Thrones but maybe I’ll find tools and methods that help create the success I want. As I finish books I plan on writing a brief summary of what I read. Having a blog post in mind helps me really study the material and reviewing it helps me retain the information.

So, my first book is “Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body for Optimal Health” by Derek Beres. I can’t remember if someone recommended this book to me or if it just popped up on my Goodreads feed because it matched my interests, but I’m glad that I got a hold of it. Beres views health and human optimization in a similar way that I do. Our different areas of life cannot be compartmentalized and that healthy practices in one area can positively impact other areas. For example, regular physical exercise can improve cognitive abilities and mental health. Our body is one unit that includes a lot of different parts that depend on each other.

Beres divides his book into three parts: Setting the Stage, Movement, and Mind. In Setting the Stage he runs through his hypothesis, that we are meant to move, change is good, the body and mind are tied together, and that regeneration (rest, stretching, etc) is a necessary and often neglected part of health. To back up his hypothesis, Beres provides just enough scientific research and biology refresher to support his claims without getting overly technical (though he does provide a lot of references for further reading). I actually really appreciated this approach.

In the second section, Movement, Beres starts providing concrete things that we can each do to add more healthy movement to our lives. Nothing in this book requires any special equipment, each physical exercise can be done in the home with body weight. While each of the subsections could be performed in isolation, it is actually beneficial (and one of Beres’ arguments) that health comes from utilizing all the techniques. Nothing in here is magic or a silver bullet. On the contrary, Beres reminds the reader many times that everybody is different, but the variation from each subchapter does work to reinforce healthy habits and provide variety to the workout.

The second section, Mind, moves us into non-exercise related habits. Meditation, healthy eating, flow states, music, community, and technology are all addressed. This section was really beneficial to me and I enjoyed the practical advice that he gave. Some stuff (like eating healthy and meditation) I was familiar with but the benefits of certain types of music and community were kind of new.

Overall, I loved this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in finding some concrete steps to get a little more out of their life. Beres does a great job of providing evidence for his theory and reminding us that we are animals that evolved in a different environment and that by being aware of that and embracing play and nature we can improve our lives. Health isn’t about ripping muscles or fast marathon times, it is about improving the quality and quantity of our time in this beautiful universe.

Got something to say? Wanna buy me a beer? There are many ways you can show support and connect with me! Send me a message anonymously via Sarahah or SurveyMonkey or email me. If you’re interested in a bike adventure I went on you can read my book! And I’m always accepting tips via PayPal or Bitcoin.

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What Kind of Life Employee Will I Be Today?

I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life. I started earning my income around the age of 12 when living in Gresham, Oregon. I delivered newspapers, sold sodas at the local park, worked in my grandfather’s rare coin shop, and mowed lawns. Since then, my “career” has been a bit unconventional (a full list is at the bottom of this post), but I’ve noticed my work style at each place usually fell into one of two categories: run out the clock and create value.

What determines how I approach a job seems to have little to do with the job itself. Take being a grocery clerk, for example. When I was 15 I started working for Safeway as a grocery clerk. I didn’t care about the job and I felt like I was just a cog in the corporate machine. I saw no opportunities to create or add value, so I just did what I was told. I was running out the clock each day.

That experience was very different than my time at the Good Food Store when I was 33. At GFS I was constantly looking for ways to improve the system and make life easier for all of us clerks. I felt like I was part of a family and my supervisors cared about me and would take my recommendations to heart. The social incentives were in place for me to work hard. I felt like being a value creator.

The reasons for my different approach during these jobs are many. Certainly, my age difference and life experiences played a big part, but I think the institutional incentives were a big factor as well.

I write all this because I’ve been thinking about what kind of employee I am within my own life. Are my days spent “running out the clock” until payday, vacation, the holidays, or death? Sadly… sometimes, yes. And on those days I’ve only hurt myself and wasted moments of my life that I’ll never get back.

On my best days, I am a value creator and that value grows exponentially. When I work to improve my skillset for work or read a book on a new subject or go for a run or eat right or write I am adding to my life, but it is more than addition because that growth acts like compounding interest. And, as Einstein might have said, “Compound interests is the most powerful force in the universe”.

Take my crypto investments, for example. Over the last 115 days, my cryptos have earned ~0.67% per day, which seems like nothing. That isn’t even a new penny for every dollar, but over time that daily growth becomes incredible. If that growth rate continues then a $100 investment becomes nearly $150,000 in three years. I don’t know if my financial investments will keep growing at that rate, but I hope my life can.

I don’t know if my financial investments will keep growing at that rate, but I hope my life can. If I can grow as a person by 0.67% per day than my body and mind and life will grow quickly. All it takes is a little time per day, a little focus, and a little perspective… 30 minutes a day or so dedicated to personal growth (and, of course, more time means faster growth). Every action I take plays off other actions I’ve made, exercise clears the mind and improves neurological function, reading books on new subjects increase creative solutions to old problems, writing publicly grows my network, meeting new people provides new opportunities and perspectives, etc. It isn’t necessarily important how I start being constructive each day, maybe it is a run and maybe it is meditation or maybe it is chatting with a friend, the important thing is that I actually start doing it.

I only have one life and I need to decide, am I just running out the clock as entropy takes hold or am I working to make this the best damn life I can?

 

Full List of Jobs (maybe?)

  • Age 15 – Grocery Clerk
  • Age 17 – Papa Murphey’s Pizza Maker
  • Age 18 – Lube Technician at a Honda Dealership
  • Age 18 – Papa John’s Delivery Driver
  • Age 19 – US Army
  • Age 23 – Go-Kart Track Attendant at a NASCAR themed track
  • Age 24 – Security Guard at Strip Mall filled with bars
  • Age 26 – Papa John’s Delivery Driver
  • Age 26 – Student Body Secretary
  • Age 27 – Intern for Economics Department
  • Age 27 – Student Body Vice President
  • Age 28 – Researcher for Non-Profit
  • Age 29 – Operations Manager for Non-Profit
  • Age 31 – Security Operations Manager for Private Security Firm
  • Age 33 – Grocery Clerk
  • Age 34 – Researcher for For-For Profit Organization

Got something to say? Wanna buy me a beer? There are many ways you can show support and connect with me! Send me a message anonymously via Sarahah or SurveyMonkey or email me. If you’re interested in a bike adventure I went on you can read my book! And I’m always accepting tips via PayPal or Bitcoin.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com
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PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
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Good and Bad

Today, I went for a run in the rain and it felt glorious. So much of our life is subject to our own perception. Whether something is “good” or “bad” isn’t an objective truth, it is a matter of how we handle it and perceive it. nearly everything can be a learning experience that helps us grow, and nearly everything can be destructive and make our lives worse.

The rain can strengthen us and help us refocus on the beautiful world around us. We become aware of new sensations and can observe them from a new perspective. Or, we can allow the cold and wet to make us miserable or become an excuse to allow our bodies to weaken. It is all in our heads.

Whether it is money, food, possessions, weather, or relationships, our minds shape our experiences and can find growth in nearly everything. We are not slaves to our emotions or our brains, they are tools that we can shape to our own will by changing our perception and language. It isn’t a crummy day because crummy connotates negativity, it is simply a day with certain physical attributes that we can find the beauty in and opportunities for growth.

Like what I say or have questions/comments? Is what I wrote worth $1 to you? There are many ways you can show support! Send me a message anonymously via Sarahah or SurveyMonkey or email me. If you’re interested in a bike adventure I went on you can read my book! And I’m always accepting tips via PayPal or Bitcoin.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi
PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL

Should We Forget?

Today is September 11th and with the rising of the sun, my Facebook feed starts to swell with nationalistic posts from part of my past and anti-nationalistic posts from another part (and a handful of conspiracy theorists). I’ve talked about my relationship with this day before, and I don’t really see a reason to revisit that. But there is one thing on my mind right now, the unofficial motto of today “Never Forget”. While this is clearly a knock-off (tribute?) to “Never Again*” and the holocaust, it makes me wonder, should we forget?

Memories are valuable, but only if they improve the world by helping us make better decisions. If a memory causes us grief or hatred, then it does not serve a purpose and we should work to overcome it. If a memory traps us in the past then we should work to move beyond it. If a memory builds walls, divides us, dehumanizes others, and makes the world a darker place, then we should forget it. If a memory justifies future atrocities in your mind, then the memory is not a tool for good, but one for evil.

But, if the memory helps inspire goodness in your heart then hold onto it. If thinking about 9/11 makes you think about the bravery of the firefighters who worked tirelessly to help the victims of the attack, then use it to motivate bravery in your life. If the memory reminds you of the way your community came together, despite racial or religious lines, to help each other out with love and comfort and care, then use that event to inspire selflessness in your life. If you can look back on that day and realize that you have followed Christ’s example to love thy enemy and turn the other cheek, if you see that day as a moment of flawed humans who need love and compassion instead of an evil, inhuman “other”, then remember that day.

We must also ask, are there other memories or events that can inspire that kind of motivation without the temptation to hate or dwell on tragedy? Would it not be better to think about the brave women and men who are fighting raging wildfires to protect us in the west? Or the volunteers with the Coast Guard who brave the rough seas to rescue people? We have doctors that cross borders to heal the sick, we have families who risk everything to flee their home countries to make a better life for their children, we have heroes everywhere. Heroism doesn’t require an enemy or evil.

So, what will it take to move on? I wish I had a good answer to that.

What did it take for the US to move beyond the attack on Pearl Harbor? I’m not a historian but, unfortunately, it seems like vengeance worked. We had a feeling of superiority after slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of civilians to feel strong again. We were sucker punched and responded by blowing up the city block that the attacker lived on. I hope that we have moved beyond that, as a culture. I hope revenge isn’t how we move beyond 9/11. I hope we can someday have the same relationship with the Middle East that we have with Japan and that it won’t require more death.

Personally, I think that moving on is actually going to be more difficult in the modern age. We have social networks that overwhelm us and demand our attention, and many of these bubbles have become feedback loops of nativism and militarism. There are people who feel like perpetual victims of the attacks on 9/11, the day isn’t one of remembrance but one of feeling empowered to cause more harm.

I don’t see this kind of behavior from the men and women that actually served in the military though. They may put up a flag or share their story, but there isn’t a violent fetishism to their actions. No, it is my parent’s generation that seems to have difficulty moving on. Soldiers have seen the horrors of war and realize that there is nuance and subtly to world events. Even civilians of my generation understand this because they grew up and were educated in a time when Middle East politics were being studied and discussed. We recognize that 9/11 wasn’t a sucker punch by someone that hated the US for illogical reasons, it was the result of complex geopolitical actions that the US was part of. We share the guilt, and that is difficult for some people to accept.

My parent’s generation seems to see this from a very “black and white” perspective. They experienced the most horrific thing imaginable, someone put their children in danger or killed them. The sin of killing their child is, for many people, unforgivable. Instead of reflecting on Christ’s teachings they spout things like “Kill ’em all, let god sort ’em out”. To them, Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” was right:

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

And if Jesus won’t forgive them then they must be inhuman and unworthy of human forgiveness. But forgiveness isn’t for the person who hurt you, it is for yourself. That is a great irony, by “Never” forgetting or forgiving we only hurt ourselves and our nation. We allow the memories of those events to make our future darker, to prevent love and understanding across nations and religions, to fill our own hearts with hatred and anger and resentment.

So, should we forget? I don’t know, but we should definitely forgive everyone involved, from the United States government to al Queda. All should be forgiven because that is what is necessary to make the future a better place. The past is lost to us, it is beyond our action, but the future can be shaped into a brighter place.

*There is something deeply uncomfortable about the US kind of ripping off the “Never Again” statement. As terrible as the 9/11 attacks were, there is simply no comparison between it and the Holocaust. Besides, “Never Again” is something to be acted upon to better the world and “Never Forget” is simply a mental state. It is a shittier phrase.

Sleep

I can tell the quality of my day by my desires when I lay down to sleep. If I curl up in bed and want to just put on the sleeping meditation track on Headspace then I know it was a productive day. I have no regrets, my mind and body are at ease, I am ready to sleep and wake renewed for the next day. The warmth of bed helps my drift into slumberland and my conscience is clear, and the sleep is good. After eight hours I wake up slightly before my 6 am alarm and I’m ready to tackle the day.

But, if my day was wasted then my nighttime routine is different. I lay in bed and crave a podcast or audiobook instead of meditation and rest. My subconscious recognizes that I wasted the day, that I didn’t live up to my potential. Those missed opportunities drift around my mind and I grasp at any last thing I can to feel productive. Listening to something makes me feel like I am lengthening the day and making the most of it, but what I’m really doing is trying to make up for lost time… an impossible task. On nights like this I wake up throughout the night, sleep is difficult, and I wake without rest.

It becomes a cycle. Good days lead to good nights lead to good mornings. Bad days lead to bad nights lead to bad mornings. Soon, one day becomes one week becomes one month and breaking the cycle becomes more difficult. And before I know it, it has been six weeks since I went to the gym, a month since I study or practiced a foreign language or blogged. But when the cycle reverses itself the momentum is addicting. My good mornings lead to good days and I accomplish all I want and more.

I think tonight will be a good night, the second one in a row. I’ve worked hard, exercised, bonded, produced, and consumed. My mind will rest easy that I had a good day and tomorrow the beautiful cycle will start again.

Last Month

Dear lord, has it really been a month since I blogged? Blargh. This year is going by at a blinding speed and, to be honest, I’m not really proud of my accomplishments. The first half of the year went well, but in the last couple of months, I have had a really hard time getting things going. I’m kind of embarrassed at how this blog has become little more than me struggling to get things started over and over again.

Oh well, every day is new and focusing on the past won’t fix anything. I’m trying to go easy on myself, but I am a bit disappointed in how little I have accomplished. My writing has basically stopped, as have my studies and exercise routine. I continue to be amazed at how hand-in-hand everything seems to go. I seem to operate at 100% or 10%, I either have a full day where I meditate, write, work, study, read, run, lift, etc. or I have an empty day where I get nothing done at all, there seems to be no middle ground. The only thing I was consistent with was answering Sarahah questions because I really enjoy those.

This last month has been particularly difficult, in no small part because of some random life events that happened and I used them as excuses to slack off. I had a work trip to Greenville, my wisdom teeth removed, had a vacation in Charleston, a planned work trip to Orlando, and an upcoming vacation to Lake Tahoe. Yeah, that seems busy but in reality, it only accounts for about 21 days out of 42 days. So, half my time was taken up by events but the other half was my own, and I have done almost nothing. Instead of thinking “man, my time is limited so I better take advantage of it”, I thought “man, what’s the use if I can only get two days of productivity in a row at a time”.

Well, I’m going to try and do better. I have six days until I fly to Lake Tahoe and I’m going to try and improve my productivity. Instead of shooting for a good week or month, I’m going to just try and have a good hour or day. I know that betting on my motivation is not the best option, but I really don’t know what else to do. Most people that seem super productive advise me to set up incentives and systems that will get me what I want, but what if I really don’t seem to want anything? I made a list of “tasks” that I can earn points to buy things I want with, but the list of things I want is so freaking small. I don’t really like going out or playing video games, I don’t want to buy anything and I don’t really get pleasure out of Facebook or other social media (those are more like numbing opioids than pleasure inducing MDMA). Basically, because I’m not at risk of starvation or homelessness I have trouble incentivizing myself. I’m gonna keep trying though, because once you stop trying you might as well bury yourself in a coffin.

I made a list of “tasks” that I can earn points to buy things I want with, but the list of things I want is so freaking small. I don’t really like going out or playing video games, I don’t want to buy anything and I don’t really get pleasure out of Facebook or other social media (those are more like numbing opioids than pleasure inducing MDMA). Basically, because I’m not at risk of starvation or homelessness I have trouble incentivizing myself. I’m gonna keep trying though, because once you stop trying you might as well bury yourself in a coffin.

sarahah

A couple of days ago I set up a sarahah form (https://pneiger.sarahah.com/) for myself to receive feedback from my friends. It is an interesting little service that allows people to leave anonymous messages for you and, like many random websites, I’m sure we will all forget that it existed in the next month or so. It has been kind of fun to receive messages though and I decided I wanted to respond to some of the ones I’ve received here.

So, in no particular order, here are what my friends have to say:

“Are you open to sex with a woman other than your wife?”
Yes, I’m open to it, but it isn’t a guarantee. My partner and I would have to discuss it. We are both comfortable with making out with other people and even some acts generally classified as sex (hand stuff, oral, etc) but actual intercourse hasn’t happened yet. We are open to it, but haven’t crossed that bridge yet. We probably will someday, it is just a matter of the right circumstances presenting themselves. My relationship with my partner is the most important thing to me and a situation that is equitable to both of us (foursome or swapping or something) would be more likely to happen. There is no harm in asking me directly though, and at the very least we can probably make out.

“I am intimidated to talk to you because you seem to be on some other level”
Oh man, please don’t be intimidated to talk to me. I’m kind of a hot mess and I have no idea what I’m doing. I can understand what you mean though, I know a lot of people (including some dear friends) who I feel intimidated by and nervous talking to because they are successful or intelligent or attractive. I see them at their best and compare it to all the internal struggles that I know I deal with. I feel very human and they seem superhumen… but in the end we are all just moist meat-suits wandering around a floating rock for a few seconds before death. So, don’t be intimidated… send me a message, say hello, ask me random questions (and maybe allow me to ask you questions)

“I wonder if you’re as generous in bed as you are in everyday life… I’d be willing to bet you are ;)”
I certainly try to be a generous lover, though part of it is a bit selfish. I absolutely love giving other people pleasure (especially oral). I love experimenting and learning what feels good to a partner and allowing them to relax and let me take control. Maybe it is the Dom side in me, but I like to be able to focus on my partner and make their pleasure my priority. One of the best parts of having had multiple partners is I’ve learned how different people are and how a variety of techniques can be developed to bring joy. I realize I am not the best judge of this though and I might be overstating my position, it would probably be better to talk with my partner or people I’ve hooked up with in the past (do you want a list of references?)

“I would be super curious to have a threesome with you and your partner”
Similar to above, we are definitely open to discussing that. It would depend on the specifics and involve some talking and moving slowly, but if you are serious you should provide a way for us to respond directly to each other. We like new experiences and are endlessly fascinated by bodies and the way they work for different people.

“I really enjoy your spirit and input through social media. You give me hope and make me think about what to strive for. Also, you’re super cute, which is awesome. Keep being you.”
Aww, thanks! I’m glad my presence has been a positive one on your life. I will definitely keep being me. And I appreciate you calling me cute, it is nice to receive compliments like that, I kind of beat myself up about my appearance sometimes and it is nice to hear that I am not hideous, I don’t think we compliment each other enough in this life and I don’t think there is anything wrong with noting when a friend is attractive (as long as you aren’t a creeper about it).

“Miss you!”
Miss you too!

The Magic of Music

The power of music to stir memories in me occasionally catches me off guard. A song can pop up on Spotify and my mind is transported back in time and my imagination swirls around foggy images of the past and potential futures that will never occur (at least not in this reality but almost certainly in a parallel universe). These memories are almost always focused on a person and the relationship I had with them.

Sometimes, the person or relationship was a relatively minor character in my story. For example, anytime I hear “Kryptonite” by Three Doors Down I think of a girl I had a crush on in high school. I don’t remember her name, I may have never known her name, I just know she listened to that song and I found her attractive. I wouldn’t be able to recognize her in a yearbook but she was important. In my mind she is superhuman, she is an archetype for my hormonal love that burned hot, quickly, and often throughout my adolescence. That song brings her to mind and her memory brings me back to my high school worries that I’d never find love or that I’d never be found attractive. It was also a time when I saw beauty in every girl I saw and fantasies of marriage and raising kids with them all bounced around my mind when I should have been paying attention to my teachers.

Sometimes, the person or relationship was an incredibly major part of my life. Whenever I hear a Dropkick Murphy’s song I think of a woman I loved in college. She was my first, real, adult mature love that could have become a lifelong relationship. With the exception of my current partner, my connection to her was stronger than any other and I still love her. A quiet sadness comes around when I think of her because I think about what could have been. We were compatible, the sex was great, and we helped each other grow… but the timing wasn’t right and our lives were on different paths. To stay together would have required compromise which would have lead to resentment and a bitter breakup. Instead, we parted ways and the sadness I sometimes feel always turns into optimism. Our relationship ending was an important lesson to me, that there is no “one and only” and that true love is not reserved for one person. We can love many, be happy with many, and it is better to stay true to who you are than compromise out of fear that you won’t find someone else.

Music is a beautiful art form that swirls inside of me and allows me to think about and digest my own life. It brings about random periods of reflection that likely wouldn’t occur without it. I try to continue to listen to new music and explore new genres, but I also try to stay true to my past and listen to the music that was important during different phases of my life. Whether it is the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks, dc Talk, Green Day, Saves The Day, Flogging Molly, Social Distortion, Flobots, William Elliot Whitmore, Bad Religion, Kid Rock, Kesha, Krewella or the Top Hits from each decade of my life, music is an important part of my existence and my mental health. Without it, I would have a much more difficult time dealing with and healing from my past.

Supporting or Enabling

I’ve been drawn to the field of psychology for most of my adult life. In fact, before stumbling upon a copy of “Freakonomics” my freshman year my plan was to major in psychology. Alas, I ended up majoring in economics instead (I certainly don’t regret that, but it is interesting to think about how my life would have gone if I stuck with my original plan) but I still read books on psychology frequently and ponder the issues of the mind.

Due to some recent reading, I’ve been wondering about where the line is between being a support system for someone and being an enabler for negative behavior. It seems to be such a gray area with no clear answer, but I can’t help but wonder if some people (with the best intentions) end up hurting someone long-term as they attempt to provide short-term support. There are two scenarios that pop into my mind.

The blow off valve
Sometimes, in order to change our lives, we need to face the full consequences of our situation. We need to feel the emotions and direct our desire for change at the actual problem, but when we have a friend that allows us to vent to them it can actually prevent us from taking action. Take, for example, a person who is in a bad relationship. Maybe it isn’t anything abusive but two people really aren’t compatible together long-term and they even recognize it. But, instead of ending the relationship they vent to their supportive friends. This venting literally releases pressure and allows the relationship to continue when it really shouldn’t. Would the friend be making the right choice to withhold support in hopes that without a method of venting the relationship will end as it should?

Minimizing the Situation
We all want to support our friends and tell them that they are loved, but we aren’t really helping them if we aren’t honest with them. If a friend has a behavior that is harming their goals or health then we maybe we shouldn’t be supportive. Telling someone that their drinking, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, weed habit, video game playing, masturbation, constant shopping, etc isn’t a big deal is doing them a disservice if they have expressed a desire to get healthier, stay sober, be thrifty, create art, etc. Support is more than telling someone that everything will be okay or that their behavior isn’t a big deal isn’t being a real friend, even if the action isn’t a big deal when viewed in a vacuum. Sometimes support is less important than accountability.

Anyway, that’s the random shit on my mind as I try to get back into the habit of writing daily. The second situation seems easier to manage than the first, but I don’t necessarily know how to handle either one that well. I try to be a great friend and confidante for the people in my life, but I am worried that maybe I’m doing more harm than good…

Got a question or comment for me? Send your questions or comments anonymously to this form and I’ll address them.  My life is an AMA and no subject is off-limits. I want to know what is going on inside that head of yours. 

Words Shape Mind

Got a question or comment for me? Send your questions or comments anonymously to this form and I’ll address them.  My life is an AMA and no subject is off-limits. I want to know what is going on inside that head of yours. 

Yesterday, I shared a couple images on Instagram of some food I made with a caption about how I saved money by making my own curry instead of going to a restaurant. It was a pretty bland post that I mostly shared to get a little serotonin boost from the likes and to signal the things I’m interested in (vegan food, exercise, home cooking, etc). In response to the post someone made a comment that kind of irked me though. I’m paraphrasing because the comment was deleted, but the person said, “People who eat at restaurants are pussies”.

Yep. That actually really bothered me and I responded with, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t use that word on my posts.” He quickly deleted the post but I wish I would have handled the situation differently. Instead of asking for self-censorship (which I think is valid in some circumstances on a private forum like Facebook) I should have explained why his comment bothered me and turn into a learning experience.

I can’t turn back the clock, but I can use my blog to explain why I don’t like his comment. It really comes down to two primary issues, the first being the word “pussies”. Using a body part that is primarily attributed to a group of people who have been systematically held down in society by men with something negative is problematic. The statement this commenter seems to be making is that eating at restaurants is a sign of weakness and a synonym for weakness is the vagina. Throughout our culture, many derogatory words are associated with females and this is a subtle way to dehumanize women and justify subjugating them.

The second issue I had with the statement is that there is a value judgment to be made about someone for an action that harms nobody (and is, in fact, beneficial to many people). People eat at restaurants for many reasons but I can’t think of one that implies a moral failing. And I’m sure my many friends who currently, or have in the past, work in the restaurant industry would be financially devastated if we started viewing those who patronize restaurants as morally weak.

The words we use matter. Not only because others will make decisions about us and our character based on our words, but because our mind is shaped by language. Our perception of the world is influenced by the words we use, both vocally and in our thoughts. If we view people as “pussies”, “retards”, or “faggots” for doing something differently than us then we are building neuro-pathways that connect people with moral failings. We will start to see women, the handicapped, and the LGBT community as something inhuman, unworthy of respect, or filled with moral weakness simply because of their genetics and not because of their actions.

I think we each have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to closely watch our words and to improve our thoughts. This wisdom has been passed down from before the time of Christ and seems to be universal. We should watch our tongues and be aware of our thoughts, and work hard to improve both and better the worlds. I have failed at this many times in my life, and I am sure I will continue to fail, but simply being aware of my words and the subconscious effect they may have on my mind has been a valuable exercise. And I hope that others will try to be aware as well.