Philosophies, Productivity

Residing Within the Eye of the Storm

Today’s thought is a simple one, yet un-ignorably powerful:

Peace resides within.

It’s three words, but if we look a little deeper, it is wonderfully revelatory. To begin with, the word “resides” stands out. The suggestion is that peace exists within us already, waiting to calm us and bring us serenity.

The second word that stands out is “peace”. What does this mean for you? Physiologically it means a slower heart-rate, calmer breathing, relaxed muscles, and a still or slow gait and manner. Psychologically it means acceptance of circumstances, calm with the consequences of circumstances, stillness, diligence, and purposefulness of mind. The methods of attaining these states depends entirely on your personal situation and the method of calming and accepting you respond to the most.

The final word is “within”. This word is probably the most powerful because it reframes our concept of where peace comes from. In general we spend a lot of time trying to obtain relaxation through external means or by changing external circumstances. The truth is, if Buddhist monks can find warmth wearing only robes in the frigid mountains, simply through meditation and force of mind, we can find calm in our daily lives by looking inward instead of outward.

Pretty cool right? Three words, such profundity. Work today to find calm within and envision yourself within the calm eye of the storm. Peace is attainable, today, right now.

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Habits, Philosophies, Productivity

Act

Growth. It is what brings forest to being, rockets to space, and love to one another. It’s a powerful, powerful force. But I’m not here to talk about growth. I’m here to talk about its brother: destruction.

Okay, let’s dial back the theatrics a bit. By destruction I do not mean Armageddon, but instead simple failure. Shortcoming, insufficient effort, the lack of success, whatever you want to call it; it’s present and, to be perfectly honest about our condition, it’s here to stay.

The general rule of thumb is to see failure as, well failure. But I propose an alternative perspective. What if we strip the emotional and personal judgment from the term entirely? What if we remove the ego from the process and simply look at failure as, well, failure? What we get, is the very opposite of failure: opportunity. The potential for growth, the antithesis of inadequacy, and the very converse of a closed door.

So let’s take stock of what has happened here: by seeing our actions, not as extensions of our self-worth, but instead as the honest, good-natured efforts of people doing their best in the world, then we really only ever do one of two very positive things. We either grow, or we see potential for growth. That folks, ain’t bad.

So act. If this is our true situation (and it is) then the only negative choice is inaction. The doldrums strand good sailors and inaction stalls growth. In either situation we have the sails, it’s just a matter of putting them to the winds.

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Habits, Philosophies, Productivity

Strengthen Your Core

If you’re reading this today, I have a simple question for you: who are you?

It’s something we think we know. We attach a name and a job and an address to our identity but our principles, loves, passions, cares, and dreams can go completely ignored. These accessories to our lives, the “identifications” of our clothes, location, and career are little more than fruit of a tree and identifying our core values, nurturing that tree, leads to healthier, more bountiful fruit. Fruit of confidence, fulfillment, personal accomplishment, and long-term, sustaining happiness.

So, at least for today, consider your metaphorical tree. What ideals and character traits are important to you and which ones comprise you? What truly makes you, you?

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Philosophies

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this article. It’s a Lifehacker piece about helping those that are grieving. Being someone without any recent deaths or friends with recent deaths, it wasn’t exactly topical but I decided to read on anyway. I didn’t expect to find anything, but what I did find has become profoundly helpful for many people in my life, including myself.

The tip I’m referring to is the phrase, “You don’t have to have the answers right now.” The basic message is that healing will take time, but on another level it makes the suggestion that it is okay to not feel perfect. We spend a lot of time trying to change our emotions. We believe that by focusing on the symptoms of our personal ailments, that we can treat their root cause. But what if the cause is beyond our control, like a physical disease or a stressful time at work? Clearly, acceptance is a more helpful path than rejection of our very natural feelings.

And when I say acceptance, I very explicitly mean acceptance of ourselves. We don’t have to have all the answers right now, we don’t have to feel better right now, and, as a result of this, we do not have to dislike ourselves or our circumstances for making us feel less than perfect. Understand your circumstances and uncover potential solutions if they exist, but above all else, accept yourself.

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Commentary, Philosophies

Do What You Love

I work at a respectable company. I’ll go ahead and skip the details and simply tell you that it is a good job that ensures that my paramour and I do not want for the necessities.

It is a rewarding job, though sometimes quite menial. Each day I show up around 8 AM and perform some technical tasks, some mundane ones, and then get home around 5 PM, much to the joy of a happy puppy and a beautiful girl.

This makes for a rather content existence, but there’s always a persistent feeling of wanting something more at my job. So, in order to remedy this, I took on the responsibility of writing and designing the company community newsletter alongside a couple of my co-workers. This, as it turns out, has been a more significant decision than I had anticipated.

I began editing our first issue one day, determining the layout, setting the typographical elements, etc. when I noticed that I had become quite hungry. I am not one to shy away from food; a hyperactive metabolism necessitates constant consumption or risk of acute discomfort at the lack of food within me. Altogether, this was quite peculiar. Had I really become so consumed with editing this little newsletter that I had not even been aware of one of my more basic needs?

I slept on it and as I put my shoes on to head in the next day, the newsletter the only real task ahead of me, I became aware of an expectancy that I had not experienced before at the prospect of leaving for work. The reality was now pretty plain: this copy-editing and designing was (gasp) fun.

There was an excitement about it. An excitement that, truth be told, we should all have when approaching our most basic endeavors. But the important thing that I wish to convey is this: you should not find ways to come to grips with what you do, but instead do what you love. It is a cliché at best, but it is a very real and important one. When we grow up, the common myth tells us that we must accept our less-than-attractive fate and deal with the banality that is adult life. That is simply not the case.

We now have more tools and opportunities available to us than ever before to make our dreams a reality; the list of valid excuses dwindles by the minute. Unlike in the 80’s when access to sound production meant paying out the ass for studio time and equipment, we now have the technology within our homes to become what we admire. I am not going to give up the stability and happiness of my family for the all-in pursuit of a dream, but I will dedicate what time I have available to the healthy commitment to a craft that brings me great pleasure.

We have needs in our lives, but they extend beyond food, water, and shelter. We need beauty, we need excitement and we need fulfillment. These things are present in the world, we need only to put in the work and find the way to make them present in our everyday lives. Now go get ’em tiger.

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Habits, Philosophies, Productivity

1/4 Cup Change

Pancakes are great. There are many ways to make them, but the same basic recipe remains the same. They taste about the same every time (delicious) and to make things even simpler, the word “pancake” never changes definition, thus averting confusion. They have the same basic toppings, go in the same place after being eaten, and for all these reasons are one of my favorite dishes to make.

Humans are not pancakes.

You see, we come up with recipes for our everyday lives. I, for example, had my productivity tools utterly figured out over the past few months as I established new habits, endeavored to get more done, and did my best to squeeze my hobbies into my life. Things worked like a well-oiled machine, until recently when I realized that a few of my productivity tools were actually preventing me from getting my work done.

I had established my habits, learned my lessons from the process, and was not endeavoring to reshape my life by paring back down to what was essential and necessary. I had changed and my productivity tools had to change with me.

And thus is the greatest challenge of living an active, successful, happy lifestyle: we are not pancakes. We require different ingredients at different times and even the definition of “us” changes constantly throughout our lives. The important thing to remember is that growth is a beautiful thing, and the tools we need to further that growth change.

Be flexible to change and the world will be at your feet. Learn to adapt your recipe and you will become even more awesome than pancakes.

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Habits, Philosophies, Productivity

Spring Cleaning

It’s snowing. Again. It’s always fucking snowing in the state of Iowa. At least, that’s how it feels this year.

So in order to vent my cabin fever, today’s post is about Spring. Spring cleaning to be specific. You see, as of late I have spent a good deal of time trying to get organized, scheduling and rescheduling perceived obligations, and looking for holes in my personality that have led to such a challenging few months.

But the truth is, as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes the problem is not as simple as it appears.

One approach, featured on the Happiness Project blog, approaches the organization problem with a simple strategy: don’t get organized. Don’t keep things around that you don’t need and be honest with yourself. I mean, what are the odds that you’re going to use that five-year-old coupon to El Pollo Loco?

Extend this concept even further into your life. I had to come to grips with the fact that, despite my desire to become fluent in Japanese, my life is simply too cluttered, and my goals simply too divergent from that knowledge for it to be kept around. I do plan to go to Tokyo some day, and at that time the language will be useful and thus, the habit. But in the mean time, it’s much more advantageous to refuse to become organized.

The important thing to remember is priorities. Though certain scholarly pursuits, hobbies, or activities may seem like great fun, keeping clutter around for sentimental reasons is not nearly as rewarding as keeping a clean house and a clean mind.

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