31.3.10

To Live Like You Were Dying.

I watched The Bucket List this morning.  This is the second time I've seen it.  Yes... I know it's sappy.  Yes... I'm okay with being a softy sometimes.

Anyway, the two main characters of the film embark on a journey of knocking out things they would like to do after hearing they have 6 months left to live.  Through their journey, they end up learning more about themselves and the world around them while providing joy to others in their final months.  The beauty of this story is that they took action and lived it out to the last breath, instead of just doing enough to survive.

I leave you with this...

Are you actively engaged in your own life?  Or doing just enough to survive?

On Why Being Selfish Can Be Selfless.

I finished Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged last night, which is an accomplishment in itself for me.  I have trouble finishing fiction... prefer non-fiction works.  I'll admit it; I enjoyed the book.  That is a statement that would never have come out of my mouth a decade ago.  My grade school English teachers would be proud.

One of the prominent messages I took from the book was that in order to truly benefit others, get past the idea that producing for ourselves is wrong.  In other words, being selfish is selfless.  Rand argues that it is because we have the ability to reward ourselves individually for our endeavors that produces creativity, progress, and, most importantly, action.  All three in turn reward society at large.  It is the idea that being self-serving in general is a sin that stifles us from truly achieving great things.

29.3.10

It's Not About Conformity vs. Non-Conformity...

This is about finding your own path - one you will be satisfied with.

I've seen a lot of lifestyle designer ("copyright") blogs throw around the word non-comformity liberally, and in turn receiving some backlash.  The usual argument goes like this:
"Well... you all are just forming another group... so who's the conformist now?"
Now this argument is based mostly on the view that anyone who strays from the predicated norm automatically judges those who do not share in their ideas.  I will agree that there are a few who spoil it for the rest of us, but many people who live outside of the norm could care less on how the normal live.  The question becomes motivation; am I doing this to be rebellious for its own sake, or am I doing this because I have other callings than what has been presented to me thus far?  Many would agree with the latter.

28.3.10

Why Casual Spectators Should be Ignored...

So I was able to catch a few of the fights from the UFC 111 Pay-per-view event.  Nothing too exciting (besides Frank Mir getting demolished via punches in the first round by Shane Carwin).  I noticed a few things about this event though.

First off, younger and less experienced fighters tend to put on more exciting fights.  They take a lot more risks, and therefore put themselves in dangerous but exciting situations.  Casual fans love this.  

Second, fights that involve seasoned veterans tend to be more calculated.  Thus, fights take more time due to fighters respecting their opponents strengths as well as feeling their strategy out.  The lulls in action sometimes receive boos from the crowd.

26.3.10

Walking.

And now... a haiku:

With legs in motion...
my senses are awakened.
I am in the now.

Ah the pros of being car-free... Have a safe weekend!

25.3.10

"Cheerio!" to the Joneses (Link Love)

If you have been keeping up with me, you probably have figured out that I'm not one to justify my life and happiness based on others' in comparison.  Just a little more inspiration to say good-bye to the Jones family. Turns out that they also have a place in Britain.

24.3.10

Why Learning a New Language is Similar to Dating...

In the beginning... it's new, a little scary, and somewhat frustrating.

Usually you're at a loss for words.

Body language can go a long way.

It's all about confidence.

Past experiences can help/hurt your progress.

23.3.10

Why Care About Age?

I've had a couple long conversations about age in the past week, so it seems valid to address it today. 

Why do we care about age?  It's all based on perceptions of others. 
Age really doesn't matter.  But for some reason we place importance on the number because we are told to.  It is our attempt to quantify (via time) something that is qualitative (life).

Age brings about the "shoulds".  By this age, you should be at this point... you should be able to handle these responsibilities... etc.  Who says you can't take care of that stuff now?  Using specific ages is just lazy thinking.

22.3.10

Depression is a Good Thing.

No... I am not going all "emo" on you guys and gals.

I want to argue that depression should not be feared and is a healthy, normal, natural thing.  In fact, I would say that depression came to be as an evolutionary tactic;  this feeling of emptiness is actually a byproduct of growth and change.   Growth and change, my friends, are good things.

Let's look at one of the quintessential times of change for the human being... what we have come to know as the mid-life crisis.  Usually defined as a phase happening somewhere in your 30s or 40s, a person acknowledges his finite time upon this earth, and is overwhelmed with the thoughts of whether his choices for his life were right or wrong.  He comes to terms with his limits and regrets, and tries to have one last hurrah to justify or make up for all the time he feels he has wasted thus far.  This transition is accompanied with denial and/or sadness.

21.3.10

Are We Truly Free?

And now... a haiku:

Are we truly free...
or living a figment to
feel some form of safe?

Sometimes I wonder...

20.3.10

Delayed Gratification

Life takes self-control.  Seriously.  In an age where we have access to everything via a couple of keystrokes, self-discipline is more important than ever.  You have to have the fortitude to handle what life throws at you, as well as that fire to keep you passionate about what you truly desire.

One aspect of self-control is the idea of delayed gratification.  Yes, you could have pretty much everything you want now (thank you credit cards), but you'll pay for it in spades later on.  And will you appreciate what you've taken, or will the feeling be as fleeting as the whim that brought you to it in the first place?

The great things that we yearn for in life entail some type of struggle that we just can't skip or avoid.  Yet, our society has grown to be one that is impulsive in nature, and it's made many of us less content with our lives.  And that impulsivity has brought about debts to be repaid, causing an even further downward spiral.

19.3.10

Why I Stopped Working with Busy People (Link Love)

I came across this post today and it got me thinking...

Am I using the throw-away claim of being busy too often?

18.3.10

11 Things...

Today I stumbled upon a site called 11 Points.  Each posting is a list of 11 things / observations / ideas / considerations relevant to a chosen topic.  With this new found inspiration, I dare to submit my list of 11 Things that Make Me Happy (in no particular order):
  1. A late night diner trip.
  2. A flirtatious giggle and smile.
  3. Guinness on tap.
  4. Watching someone I'm rooting for succeeding.
  5. Accomplishing precisely what I set out to do.
  6. Hearing that song, to which the immediate reaction is "I haven't heard this in ages!" (bonus points if at a concert).
  7. Taking a risk and hitting big.
  8. A well-deserved high five, usually accompanied with an "Oh hell yes!".
  9. A positive, out-of-the-blue message from a friend.
  10. A well thought-out anything.  Idea.  Perspective.  Argument.  Toast.
  11. Being clutch when the pressure is on.
I'm pretty sure that would make this week one of my happiest, considering I came across everything on this list...

What a St. Patty's Day...

All I can say is... EPIC.

16.3.10

How Much Should I Save? (Link Love)

This is a great post about savings rates and their effects on your ability to quit working.  Just more proof that doing what you want is simple... but not easy.

15.3.10

On Moderation.

I've spent the past few days watching the show Man v. Food on the Travel Channel (I'm not getting paid to promote... I really should find out about that).  If you have never seen it, the host attacks food challenges established by restaurants, usually involving tear-jerking spice or epic quantities fit for King Kong.  He'll eat... eat... and eat some more.  You can see the joy from his first few bites; by the end, his pure hatred for the task at hand shines through his sweat-drenched face.  The reward usually consists of a picture on a Wall of Fame, a t-shirt, and a heart attack before the age of 40.

I can't help it... I'm addicted.  Who doesn't want to see a man chomp down 6 pounds of food within an hour?  It's the American Way.

Last night, I went out for beer and pool.  It was a great time; nothing too crazy, but enjoyable.  If you were to flash back a few years, the story would have probably included bragging about the ridiculous number of shots I tallied, followed by me being a complete mess.  Now this is not to prove that my tolerance has gotten even stronger (in fact... I'm pretty sure I'm a cheap drunk now), but to show that excess is overrated. 

14.3.10

Happy Daylight Savings!

And now... a haiku:

As we spring forward,
one cannot help but to think...
"Am I saving much?"

Enjoy losing an hour...

13.3.10

The Storyteller's Creed

I found this in a book I just so happened to come across in the library today:
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
- Robert Fulghum
And so... I continue on.

12.3.10

What's Success to You? - Part II

This is a continuation from yesterday's post. See Part I.

My own responses to the assignment:

Success, in my own eyes, is living a life of richness in learning and experience, understanding of the world around me, and contribution to the future
  • Richness in learning and experience - I will forever be a student, constantly observing, questioning, and applying what lessons I have gained during my time. (Internal)
  • Understanding of the world around me - I've been brought up to think a specific way and am curious to see the view from perspectives completely different from my own.  I'd like to expand my ability to critically think. (Internal)
  • Contribution to the future - From what I have gained, I want to share with others.  Knowledge, inspiration, wealth... my resources of time and ability are limited, and I must be diligent in my focus to provide. (External... though some may argue Internal)

11.3.10

What's Success to You? - Part I

Homework Assignment. 
  1. I want you to ask yourself this question and write out your definition, including how you will know when you have reached it.
  2. Once finished, take a step back from your writing, and ask why you have chosen to write what you specifically have down.
  3. For those answers, write down if each is truly an external (for anyone other than yourself) or internal (selfishly yours) motivation.  You have to pick one or the other... I will not accept "both" as an answer.
Give it some thought.  There are no wrong answers. Tomorrow I will discuss my own findings.

10.3.10

What Sleep Deprivation does to a Blog.

zsfgvtr

/\

Yes that combination of consonants is a product of my all-nighter of studying and prep work.  Before I do another touch-and-go, I will leave you with a haiku:

Dreams of a coma
delicately dance within
my overtaxed brain.

Must.  Get.  Sleep.

9.3.10

Safety = Avoiding Unnecessary Risks

I sat in on a presentation today about all types of safety techniques.  You could sum up its message with the title of this post.

At the basic level, whenever you work in an inherently dangerous job, "Safety First" is always Rule Numero Uno.  This is to make sure the worker can continue to perform his/her duties for a long period of time.  Things get messy when safety isn't a consideration;  injuries cause missing workers, less work gets done, and money is lost due to medical bills and less output.

We should be applying that same idea to our own lives.  Now I'll be the first to admit that I never want you to live a "safe" life;  it brings this vision of living in a bubble with no challenges or risks so that you can be comfortable.  Being comfortable is overrated.  However, when you do live that awesome lifestyle that you've always dreamed of, I want to stress the idea of avoiding unnecessary risks.

What do I mean by avoiding unnecessary risks in this context?  Don't waste your time, energy, skills, or health on leaps that have nothing to do with what you want out of life. 

8.3.10

A Success Story... Or Why I'll Never Buy Retail Again

American Eagle Cargo Shorts
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) = $36.50
Amount Paid = $4
How did I walk out the door with a fresh new pair of cargo shorts for about a tenth of the suggested price?  I stole them, and left some cash behind out of guilt.

Ok... that's a lie.  I got them at a thrift store.  Half price Mondays.  And you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Some people have problems with secondhand shops, consignments, and thrift stores.  I'll give you some common reasons, and then offer counter-arguments to each.

7.3.10

The Story of the Mexican Fisherman (Link Love)

This is the second time I've come across this tale, and it has become one of my favorites. I'd like to share it with you today. 

The Story of the Mexican Fisherman

Here's to another solid week!

6.3.10

Simplicity.

And now, a haiku:

A simple life is
knowing when to say enough
with all the nonsense.

5.3.10

How Do You Like Them Apples...

Every so often, there's a moment where everything just seems to line up on its own for you.  You make plans to go one way, something goes awry, and you end up being led to a place better than where you intially headed. 

Now, many people that know me will admit that it is hard to describe who I am.  I tend to be a planner.  A strategist.  I embrace knowing that I can control where I will go in my life.  At the same time, I come off as spontaneous.  Roll with the punches.  Drop everything on a dime and head out on a whim.  Dichotomies were never really my bag.

Last night was no exception.  With beer on my mind and no food in my belly, a buddy and I were off.  I was really craving some pub food, so the plan was to hit up a small bar that we had heard about from a co-worker.  After picking up some supplies, we went on a search for said venue.  It took us 10 minutes before we realized we were in the wrong town. 

4.3.10

There Will Be Blood.

Today I went to the hospital for 3 different appointments.  No worries... just had to do some routine maintenance work. 
  1. Learned about the importance of flossing from my dentist.  This is the umpteenth time that I have received this lesson.  It's a habit that always seems to escape me, but this may be when it will finally stick (I tell myself this every time I walk out of the dentist's office).
  2. Got updated on my immunizations.  Eat it, seasonal flu! 
  3. Went to the lab to do a little blood work.  They took what seemed like a lot of blood... 6 vials (insert random comment about vampires).  They're testing my cholesterol levels, so I had to fast for about 10 hours prior.
The reason for telling you all of this is not to bore you with mundane details about my life, but to focus on what I had to "endure" for my last appointment.  Giving up something like eating for almost half of a day sounds drastic (okay... not that drastic), but when you consider how I went about it, it was really easy to do.  My plan was simple;  I would sleep for most of the time and then spend the rest drinking water to quell hunger pangs.  It was a small "sacrifice" for a big return... in this case, a test to help assess my health.

3.3.10

Remasculation of Man: Is It Really Necessary?

It worries me that men are supposedly losing their mojo these days. I was unaware that mine went missing.

Details Magazine published an article this month called The Remasculated Man. In it, the writer talks about the need for men to not just know that they have a pair, but when, where, and how to use it. I'm glad that a men's fashion magazine (you heard me... we're talking 22 full pages of advertisements selling luxury clothing, jewelry, shoes, cologne, and undies to the masses before you even see a hint of actual content) is giving me guidance on being a true man.

What has this world come to? And why do we as a society continue to push men towards becoming this Alpha Male prototype?

Is the American man lacking motivation to find his true self?  Is he missing guidance?  Or are we just fooling ourselves into thinking this way?  I believe it's a mix of all three.

2.3.10

What's Holding You Back.

I came across an article in the March issue of Men's Health last night that really struck a chord with me. In summation, the writer, who interviews people who have "made it" in this world, argues that cynicism is what keeps us from being successful in our lives. To be a truly elite performer, you are required to possess a sincere belief in the cause, your ability, and the venue in which your performance happens. I most certainly agree.

We can complain about how we've been dealt a bad hand in life, how our career is going nowhere, how our relationships aren't what they should be, etc. This world has a lot of ways to break us down, and it's easy to hate her for our circumstances. And why not? The times that sting us the most are the ones where we truly put ourselves out there, completely vulnerable, and get shot down. And it is sure as hell hard to get over.

1.3.10

Multi-tasking: How to Look Busy and Get Nothing Accomplished

Pick a random job posting, and 9 times out of 10 you'll see the "ability to multi-task" as a requisite.  In America, we tend to pride ourselves on how many things we can do in a limited amount of time.  The focus is on quantity, and our validation is based on how much we produce rather than what we actually produce.

What ever happened to a quest for quality?  And I'm not talking the business definition of quality, quality control, etc. but an actual pursuit of providing a complete, wholehearted output that you can stand behind and be proud of.

I've been on both sides of customer service, and have seen my fair share of successes and failures.  The best interactions have happened because a customer service representative literally stopped everything they were doing, gave the customer their complete attention, and focused specifically on the problem at hand.  In essence, they single-tasked.