Stories about life - a collection of real people, real challenges. We share many challenges. Read and feel Blessed.

 

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Story 1

 

If You’re Not Worried, You’re Dead

To be alive is to solve problems — both real and imagined

Timothy Kreider

 

Lately one of my favorite leisure activities is to lie awake for several hours worrying about everything that is wrong with my life, which, currently, is almost everything. I like to set aside some time each day for this pastime — from, say, midnight ’til two or three in the morning. I reminisce about things I did in the past that I wish I had not done, and things I did not do that I wish I had. I like to visualize unpleasant things that are going to happen to me in the near and distant future, from having to move at the end of the month to my own death.

 

I happen to be going through an unusually stressful time in my life right now, but I understand that my late-night worrying is a common, even popular hobby. My mother does the same thing. One difference between my mother and me is that she is currently 83, her personal finances have been taken out of her hands, and she lives in an assisted-living facility with a personal aide 12 hours a day, and so has no actual practical problems at all, except for Parkinson’s Disease and old age. Among Parkinson’s symptoms are dementia, delirium, and paranoia, so in lieu of real problems my mom has a lot of imaginary ones, which she worries about incessantly. Lately her idée fixe is that she has made a killing in imaginary investments and is very concerned that unspecified persons are trying to get their hands on this money by dividing our family against one another. I have learned that the one thing you do not do is tell her not to worry about it: this only proves that you are a naïve, gullible pushover and that Mom now has to worry twice as much because you refuse to take this problem seriously.

 

Our big clever brains evolved to preemptively imagine problems that might arise and try to solve them as a survival strategy, so that is what we do, restlessly, vigilantly, even in the absence of any immediate threats. If you’re like me, you have a mental checklist — maybe even, if you’re more organized than me, a written one — of all your problems, ranked by severity/urgency, from getting a new glasses case to how to dispose of your own corpse. (In a Do-It-Yourself Guide to Antidepression in her ‘zine Doris, Cindy Crabbe advised making a physical list of your worries so that, as soon as the cycle of worry begins, you can refer to the list to remind yourself that you’ve already worried about those things — you’ve got it covered, so go to sleep.) And somewhere in the back of your mind is the unexamined assumption that eventually you will, one by one, solve all of the problems on this list and then, at last, once your shit has been gotten together and things successfully gotten atop of, you will have no more problems, your life will finally be in order, and you will at last be able to stop worrying and be happy.

 

In reality my actual strategy is to address these problems from the bottom of the list up, so that I am, e.g., very preoccupied with trying to eliminate the cryptic extra $9.00 monthly charge on my phone bill while not dealing with the fact that my septic system needs to be replaced at a cost of $10,000. Lately, as my problems have become more serious and pressing, my approach is even less constructive: I prevent myself from thinking about any aspect of my life at all by distracting or anesthetizing myself every second of the day until the moment I go to bed, when my earnest, helpful brain, with the alacrity of a student reminding the teacher she forgot to assign homework, presents me with the complete list for my consideration.

There is currently much to worry about. I suppose if we had a national to-do list magneted to the fridge of state, it would read something like:

  • elect grownup
  • campaign finance reform ( + end gerrymandering, electoral college[?])
  • health care (???)
  • guns
  • mass incarceration/educational apartheid
  • CLIMATE CHANGE :(

As with personal to-do lists, I’m probably forgetting something important. (Plus the spouses in our unhappy national marriage have different lists whose chores and errands cancel ours out.) These larger worries also carry the corollary delusion that, once we fix this quick checklist of issues, we’ll be able to relax a little, have a well-deserved beer, and go back to doing whatever it was we used to do before it felt necessary to monitor the news every hour to make sure America still existed.

 

Hope — like faith, like love — is an emotion felt most keenly in its absence.

I lived through the administration of Dick Cheney, when we hastily repealed a lot of the Bill of Rights and first invaded Afghanistan (a losing proposition since Alexander), and then Iraq (for reasons that were, as was obvious to everyone except Hilary Clinton and the national press, totally made up).

 

I spent most of that decade as a political cartoonist, drawing caricatures of that comic duo George and Mr. Cheney and going to rallies and marches to protest those wars, all of which accomplished nothing. It was a horrible time — talking sense was treason, truth passé, compassion faggy. And yet it was also, in a way, exhilarating: there was a desperate giddiness to it, like uncontrollable laughter at a funeral. I remember one of the songs I listened to on repeat to keep my spirits from withering in that time was “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen: Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine / And all this darkness past. That promised light was never brighter than when it still lay in the distant future, when it had to be imagined. Hope — like faith, like love — is an emotion felt most keenly in its absence.

 

Our current era of darkness really isn’t as bad as that one, in some ways — Donald Trump is admirably squeamish about armed conflict, and so far his body count is relatively low — but in other ways it’s worse, because it feels as if the entire government is in collusion, as if the institutions of democracy have failed.

I’m not pretending that any of us are enjoying these years — I cannot wait for the first full day that passes without mention of our mercurial toddler-king, when we are spared the sight and sound of his bawling maw — but I do think we’ll probably bore our children and grandchildren telling stories about them: how bad it was, the smirking bigotry, the strutting stupidity, the lies, the nonstop open shameless lies, oh you kids don’t even know.

 

Robert Stone writes about the “dreadful nostalgia” that inevitably crept into conversations about Vietnam among people who’d been there; Michael Herr ends his nightmarish memoir of that war, Dispatches, with the benediction, “yes, never mind, there were some nice [days], too.” Lots of soldiers have trouble readjusting from the sharp-edged hyperreality of war to the duller, fuzzier existence of civilian life. I secretly prefer crises to the tedious slog and ubiquitous bullshit of everyday life, because at such times things at least feel briefly real; life shows its true face. Nobody talks about this now, but the weeks after 9/11 were, in a way, a beautiful time to be in New York: people’s subway faces were torn off, their bare emotions flinching at the air; they were reminded that they were alive.

 

I’m not saying that none of our current worries matter, or that we shouldn’t try to solve our problems. Even my own problems, which are 100% luxury problems, are real and pressing. And most people’s problems are a lot more urgent than mine, lower on the Maslovian pyramid: they’re worried about their health, their kids, how to pay the bills.

 

I can hardly bear to think about how infuriatingly unnecessary most of our present problems are, how obviously soluble, how maddeningly possible utopia is. I long to live in a functional country like New Zealand or Norway, where you don’t need to worry about going broke if you get sick or your kid getting shot during Phonics. This seems hopelessly utopian, even though it matter-of-factly exists right this minute about a four-hour drive from where I’m writing this. I just want better problems.

 

But problem-solving isn’t the same as worry; in fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. But let’s not imagine that what we want is to have no more problems. This notion that we’ll ever be able to cross everything off the checklist and crumple it up is a delusion. Not only will it never happen; we wouldn’t be able to stand it for long if it did. Being freed — or deprived — of all worries is not some idyllic, porch-swing retirement, and we all know it, whatever we may try to tell our elderly parents: it’s an insult and a prison sentence, a vacuous, cushy hell. These years of late-night worry, mind-killing stress, excruciating decision-making and multiple-front crises: these are the good years, the ones we’ll remember, because there are still problems to solve, choices to make, a future to dread.

 

In the absence of any reasonable object of worry, our brains invent hypothetical or wholly imaginary ones.

 

My girlfriend, who is presently obsessed with a video game, just this moment said, in a voice of steely resolve: “I’m going to beat this game so that I will never have to play it again.” This is the essential fallacy of worry: that it is goal-oriented, and that the goal is to eliminate the causes of worry so that we never need worry again. But worry — like any institution — does not want to obviate itself. My girlfriend is not playing this game so that she never need play the game again; she is playing the game because she enjoys the game, even if that enjoyment takes the form of endless frustration. Everyone thinks that what they want is to win, but no one wants the game to be over.

 

We don’t love to worry, but solving problems is what our brains are designed to do, and we love to do what we’re made for, the way our bodies love to run, or sleep, or fuck. In the absence of any reasonable object of worry, our brains invent hypothetical or wholly imaginary ones. Which is why my mom’s brain is now frantically counterplotting against nonexistent plotters. I have a friend who used to suffer from insomnia during particularly stressful periods of her job. It took some time and experience to accept that this stress did not mean that things were going catastrophically wrong at work, or that she was incompetent or about to get fired: her job was just inherently stressful. She doesn’t love the stress, but she does love the job, of which the stress is an inextricable part. We don’t love our worries, but worry is a part of our lives; to paraphrase Santayana, only the dead have seen the end of worry. I once read a book by a mortician, whose advice to people who wanted to micromanage their own funerary arrangements was: Kick back. It’s not your problem anymore. Let someone else worry about it for once. You’re done.

 

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Story 2

 

I’m a Little Too Fat, a Little Too Giving. I Think I Know Why.

Using the hunger I experienced as a kid to teach mine the power of generosity

 

Kristine Levine
I was five years old when my mom took off with me to the coast. She said she needed a do-over. We were starting fresh, with no belongings, no toys, no furniture. She said we had empty hands so that we could catch new blessings.
We also had empty pockets, and she had no job. She’d drank our whole life away, and the booze had left us washed up in a tiny beach town called Rockaway, Oregon. She was hoping the ocean would catch her tears and loosen her chains.

 

My mother loves the ocean. She is more herself when it is nearby. She believes that it sees and knows, that it moves and feels. It inspires her wonder and fear. She revels in the uncertainty that it could become angry at any moment and take lives at its will. To my mother, the ocean is God.

“Don’t you ever take it for granted, Krissy,” she would say to me. “When you look at that ocean, remember there’s always something bigger than you. Respect her.”

 

Summer had just ended, and the quaint coastal town had begun to fold up. We found a small cottage—really a motel room with a kitchenette. We never said it was our home; to us, it was just “Number Six.” My mother paid the first month’s rent, enrolled me in kindergarten a block away, and bought us a sack of potatoes and some ketchup. And we began our new life.

 

“If I were a thief, I would go over there and steal those rotten cabbages for you. But I am not a thief.”

 

I don’t remember being excited about school. It seemed so frivolous, and I thought I should be getting a job. “I could get a paper route,” I told my mother one night as we walked back to Number Six from the pay phone, where she’d called my dad, begging him to send the $75 child support check. He promised he’d send it as soon as possible, but I knew the potatoes were running low.

 

My mother looked for work, but the car we’d used to get to the town had broken down, and there were only two or three restaurants within walking distance of Number Six. She didn’t want to get a job in a bar because she was trying earnestly to stop drinking.

 

Maybe two weeks passed and still no child support check—no money at all. I sat at the kitchen table one night, watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news with his objectivity and journalistic integrity. He said something like, “Here is the news at this suppertime.” I remember this because I was so surprised by it. His words were otherwise so dry, so metered, but his mention of it being dinnertime was almost friendly. I wondered if he could see us; how did he know it was time to eat?

My mother was staring out the window with her back to me. I said to her, “Well? He’s right. It is dinnertime. Right, Mom?” I thought I was being clever in catching Cronkite’s sincerity.

 

She let out a sigh. Without turning around she said, “Do you see that out there? Those people have let their garden grow over. The cabbages have gone to seed now. They’d never know or care if I just snuck over and took one for you.”

 

The quivering in her voice scared me. She turned to me and wiped her eyes. With a look so cool I thought she might have been mad at me, she said, “If I were a thief, I would go over there and steal those rotten cabbages for you. But I am not a thief.”

 

Without another word, she passed me and walked out the front door of Number Six. She left it open, and I followed her. She walked down five cottages and knocked on the door to Number One—a larger cottage, where an old man and woman lived. Even though they were our neighbors, we had no idea who they were. The old lady opened the door, and I wove around my mother so I could see inside.

“This is my daughter, Kristine,” my mother stated. “We have no food. She’s had nothing to eat but potatoes for a month, and now we don’t even have any of those left. I don’t care about myself, but could you please give her something to eat?”

 

The old woman was short and fat with dark skin and black hair twisting around her head. Her name was Anita Vanover. Her husband was a tall white man who was just called Van. I could see into their cottage; the table was set, and Anita and Van were obviously just sitting down to eat. The smells coming from inside made me drool.

 

I don’t remember Anita saying anything to my mother or even asking her husband first if she could give us something, but I remember her packing up her table: the pot roast, the carrots, the gravy, the potatoes. She handed it all to my mother.

 

It turned out that the couple had friends who owned one of the restaurants where my mom had tried to get a job. Anita talked to them, and they hired her. Anita and Van became my caretakers in the evening.

 

They saved my mother and me.

 

At that moment, though, I don’t think Anita and Van thought they were saving lives or forever changing the path of a child. I think they thought they were doing what they were supposed to do when a woman with a little girl comes to the door and says she needs to eat. What more needs to be said or done? They probably figured that it’s just food.

 

When you give the best you have to someone in need, it translates into something much deeper to the receiver. It means that they are worthy.

 

Anita gave so effortlessly and so quickly that I doubt she ever thought about it again. But that one moment taught me a lesson about giving that I have never forgotten. There came a day 30 years later, when I passed that lesson on to my own children.

 

My daughter’s school had a food drive, and she was excited to collect food for it. Even at 10 years old, she had a strong sense of community. She wanted to be either a police officer so she could help people or an astronaut so she could protect the planet from wayward asteroids. We had to keep her from watching the news because it moved her to the point of tears. Her heart would break for the human condition.

 

She went to our pantry and started bagging up the canned and dry goods. All the while, she talked. “Oh, I’ll put in the green beans, I don’t like those… I’ll save the Kraft macaroni and cheese. We can give them some no-name brand.” And I realized that my daughter—as generous and good as she already was—knew nothing about giving. I felt like I had taught her nothing.

 

She didn’t know about Anita and Van. She didn’t know about Number Six. She didn’t know that she could see the face of a hungry child if she looked long enough at her own mother.

 

So I told her. I told her that my kindergarten teacher thought I was “retarded” because I was so hungry that I didn’t perform well in school and was always slower than the rest of the class. I told her that Anita could have just gone to her cupboard and made me a peanut butter sandwich, and my mother and I would have been so grateful. But she didn’t. She gave the best she had.

The biggest problem with poverty is the shame that comes with it. When you give the best you have to someone in need, it translates into something much deeper to the receiver. It means they are worthy.

 

If it’s not good enough for you, it’s not good enough for those in need either. Giving the best you have does more than feed an empty belly—it feeds the soul.


Donate to your local food bank today, and give them the best you can.

 

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Story 3

 

10 Simple Rules for the Best Life Ever

     Your roadmap to a more meaningful life

John P. Weiss

When he first visited the asylum for the mentally disabled, Jean Vanier was overwhelmed by the filth and overcrowding. It was inhuman.

 

The year was 1964 and Vanier, a French-Canadian philosopher/theologian who had served in the Navy, was still figuring out his path in life.

 

One of the residents in the asylum asked Vanier if he would be his friend. What happened next defined Vanier’s life work, and set an example for the rest of us who want more meaning in our lives.

 

Vanier invited the resident and another disabled man to live with him in a modest house in Trosly-Breuil, France. It was here that Vanier fed and washed the disabled men. Others would come, and Vanier named his care home “L’Arche” after Noah’s Ark.

 

“We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” -Jean Vanier

 

Vanier’s model of care grew into L’Arche International, serving in thirty-eight countries and five continents, with over 10,000 members (with and without disabilities).

 

The light that is shining in them

 

When I was a police chief in California, our agency used to participate in the annual Special Olympics summer games. My lieutenant and I, in our formal uniforms, would drive an hour to the host city.

We attended planning meetings and a luncheon, but the best part was interacting with the athletes before the games. We’d play catch or kick a soccer ball around. It was a lot of fun. The enthusiasm, affection, and charm of the athletes were infectious.

 

There were no pretensions, mind games or duplicity. The athletes were the embodiment of love and authenticity. All they wanted was for us to treat them like everybody else.

 

“We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.” -Jean Vanier, From Brokenness To Community

 

The athletes didn’t want any special accommodations. They simply wanted to compete, have fun, laugh, and share their joy for life with us. I learned a lot from them about being in the moment, and that happiness can be found in everyday living.

 

As Jean Vanier once told a Wall Street Journal writer:

 

“The great thing about people with intellectual disabilities is that they’re not people who discuss philosophy. What they want is fun and laughter, to do things together and fool around, and laughter is the heart of community.”

Vanier went on to state:

“What I’m trying to live and trying to say is that people with disabilities are important — in themselves but also they have a message to give to humanity.”

The late Jean Vanier and friends, from his website.

My sister, who is a kind-hearted soul, used to work with intellectually and developmentally disabled children. I remember visiting her once at work and seeing the affectionate way the children interacted with her.

 

It was moving. Even now, it makes me wish that everyone could possess the same authenticity, affection, and joy for everyday life that these young, intellectually disabled children display.

 

Presence to others

 

As we age, we lose a great deal of our childhood innocence. Our curiosity and imaginations succumb to adolescence, hormones and the complexities of adulthood.

 

We become concerned about our appearance, popularity, and success. We compete in the workplace and learn that communication involves what we say versus what we really mean. We worry about things like status and social rank.

 

We try to create a safe little world for ourselves, devoid of risk and averse to vulnerability. Only, over time, we’re still not happy.

 

“He who clutches desperately to security, to everyday habits, work, organization, friends, family, no longer lives. More than security, life needs adventure, risk, dynamic activity, self-giving, presence to others.” — Jean Vanier, Tears of Silence

 

In order to achieve the best life ever, we need to get out of our own way. Let go of our petty insecurities, accept our strengths and weaknesses, and rediscover the joy found in being present and helping others.

 

10 simple rules for the best life ever

 

Thankfully, Jean Vanier left us a roadmap for how to live a better life. How to capture some of the joy that he experienced every day caring for his friends at L’Arche. They are ten simple rules. Follow them to help you live the best life ever.

  1. Accept the reality of your body. As Vanier noted, we are born in weakness and die in weakness. There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve your body and health, but learn to accept yourself as you are. There are so many more important things to focus on, like being present and helping others, which enrich us far beyond our physical appearance.
  2. Talk about your emotions and difficulties. We tend to have difficulty expressing our emotions, yet they drive so much of what we do. Worse, we compensate with drugs and alcohol to mask our feelings of not being successful. Talking about how we feel, honestly, can free us.
  3. Don’t be afraid of not being successful. We erroneously equate being loved with being successful, but as Vanier said, “You are beautiful as you are.” The true measure of a person is not defined by the size of his/her bank account. It’s defined by their emotional bank account. How kind they are. How they treat others. We might envy Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth, but admire people like Mother Teresa more.
 

4. In a relationship, take the time to ask: “How are you?” You’re married to your spouse, not success. Yes, work is important to provide for our families. But being there for our families is even more important. Take the time to check in. Ask how your spouse and kids are doing. They’ll remember your thoughtfulness and love much more than your career success.

 

5. Stop looking at your phone. Be present! The digital age has brought us instant communication, but are we really talking to one another?

 

6. Ask people: “What is your story?” Everyone has a story if you’re willing to listen. Stop trying to change other people and truly meet them. Just because they don’t share your views doesn’t mean they don’t have their own stories, experiences, and wisdom. Learn their story, and stop judging.

 

7. Be aware of your own story. You are just as precious as every other human being. Appreciate your own uniqueness and talents.

 

8. Stop prejudice: meet people.  Jean Vanier spoke of the “tyranny of culture.” My group. My party. My culture. Yes, be proud of who you are and your culture, but not at the expense of others. Become a member of humanity. It just might transform you.

 

9. Listen to your deepest desire and follow it. Unlike animals, humans beings have moral and spiritual needs. Beyond eating, procreating and existing, we search for the infinite. The reason why we are here. All of us have an inner voice that guides us. Our hearts often tell us when we are off course. Learn to trust your heart.

 

10. Remember that you will die one day. Jean Vanier noted that “We’re all here, but we are just local people. Passengers on a journey. We get on and off the train and the world will continue.” Facing our mortality can help guide our actions today. It can reshape the kind of person we want to be.

 

Your moral purpose

 

The wisdom of aging is that many of the things we thought were so important, like our looks, wealth or status, really aren’t important. What matters more is our character. How we treat others.

 

There is much more to the world than money, competition, and material pleasures. While there’s nothing wrong with having ambition and becoming successful, the trick is to never lose sight of your moral purpose.

 

The minute you trade your kindness and humanity to make a buck or get ahead in life, you really end up shortchanging yourself. In the twilight of your life, the sweetness of ill-begotten success succumbs to a kind of bitterness.

 

Jean Vanier passed away recently in his 90th year. He was truly a saint on earth. Thankfully, he left much wisdom for us to learn from. In a 2015 interview he shared the following:

 

“Try and find somebody who is lonely. And when you go to see them, they will see you as the messiah. Go and visit a little old lady who has no friends or family. Bring her flowers. People say, ‘But that’s nothing.’ It is nothing — but it’s also everything.”

(Originally published at JohnPWeiss.com)

 

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint landscapes, and write about life. Thanks for reading!

 

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Story 4

 

If You Don’t Know What You Want, This Is For You

Sah Kilic

“A hiker wearing a backpack, standing on a hill looking out at the mountains and clouds during sunrise” by Aneta Ivanova on Unsplash
 

You’re in the middle of your journey. Whatever that may be; a career, school, parenthood, travel, business, a new goal, a new relationship. You’re in the midst of dozens of journeys it seems, yet you’re unsure about something. You’ve hit a dead end, you’re in a pit of uncertainty, hell you don’t even think that this is the thing. The big thing. The thing you want.

 

A lot of the time you feel like you’re just floating, trying to make sense of it all. It seems that you haven’t even begun your journey.

 

“I don’t know what I want to do.”

“I don’t know what I want for a career.”

“I don’t know if I want this person.”

“I don’t know what I want.” Period.

 

When you have an endless sea of decisions, a few things happen. You feel anxious, directionless, and feel an overwhelming sense of agitation and restlessness. Why? Because you know there is so much to do, so many possibilities yet you do nothing or very little. But why?

 

Let’s be clear on this logic.

You try to optimise a decision so deeply,
You try to think about every possible outcome,
You spend weeks, months, years thinking about the right choice,
Only to not make a decision and postpone your journey that little bit longer,
Because heavens forbid it turns out to be the wrong decision.

 

You’ve heard it time and time again that it’s ok to fail yet you don’t seem to put it in action. It’s because you don’t know what you want right?

 

Wrong, it’s because you want a lot of things, and you don’t like choosing.

 

Time spent doing one thing is taking away from potential time doing another thing that you might like better, right? You just want the best for you. I get it. We only have one life, we want to optimise this life, but let me rip off that band-aid. This is flawed logic and will only make you miserable after 5, 10, 20 years of waiting or deciding.

 

If you’re not busy doing, you’ll never figure it out.

 

Don’t treat your life like a formula you have to spend 10 years writing, only to maybe have the next finite amount of time slightly better off.

 

This is misguided. Life is meant to be an experience. Not something to be optimised by thinking 24/7 while on autopilot for the next 10 years. You’ll figure out what you want by trying different things, by simple problem solving, by the process of elimination — not a formula.

 

The best thing about this is that you’ll look back on those decision you actually made, and realise that they were what made the adventure possible, they made you feel fulfilled, overjoyed, maybe uncomfortable or even sad at times… but that’s what a journey is meant to be.

 

But I realise it’s hard to start. It’s hard to change the routine and it’s hard to break free. No amount of motivation will help unless there’s something practical to do. So here is a place to start.


If you were paying attention, you may have realised that all the self doubt and uncertainty I speak of can be traced back to some subtle ways of thinking about things. One of which consists of self talk that starts something like “I don’t know..” This, I’ve found is a horrible focal point, one that I like to overwrite when I can. Here’s how.

 

Get out a pen and paper, start a new document, begin writing.

 

What I know for certain.

 

Don’t focus on what you don’t know. Focus on what you do know.

This doesn’t mean not to go learn new things, this doesn’t mean to stick to the known not taking any risk. This means focus on what you know for certain about your goals, aspirations, and interests.

What I know for certain.

  1. I know for certain that I want to travel to many different countries
  2. I know for certain that I want to start a a business
  3. I know for certain that I don’t see a future with my partner
  4. I know for certain x, y or z

It could be anything. And it more often than not, will be broad.

 

This may seem simple, but you’ve in effect cut out all the self made barriers to your decision and simplified it. You’ve turned questions like, “I don’t know which country to go to”, “I don’t know how long I should stay there”, “I don’t know when to go or who to go with” etc. to a certainty. You’ve taken them and made them a known. Not by answering the question, but by changing the context.

I know for certain that I want to travel.

 

That’s it.

 

Everything else is almost negligible now. It doesn’t matter if you go to Germany or Spain. You will be following that direction that you’ve outlined for yourself. And like we mentioned before, this is all about trying things and not analysing yourself into inaction. The key is to ask yourself if the action you’re taking is aligned with what you know for certain.

This works for everything.

 

Going ahead and starting a business regardless of whether you fail or not, will still put you on the right path as long as starting a business is something you know you want to do. You’ll realise really quickly if it’s the right type of business, leave that realisation for later. Because by then you will know for certain whether or not it’s right for you. If you don’t start, you never will.

 

Focus on what you know for certain, and you’ll be inadvertently writing a story on how you eventually figured out what you wanted. An amazing story to tell at that, twists and turns, great times and times of trial. One dragon short of a real world fantasy.


Thanks for making it to the end :)

If you liked this article, I’ve got a few very practical reads for you. One about putting yourself in a box and one about productivity.

I’ve also go this newsletter that you might be into. I send a tiny email every few weekends (if that) with some useful or cool stuff I’ve found/made. Don’t worry, I hate spam as much as you. Feel free to subscribe.

Sah out.

 

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Story 5

 

5 Signs You Are Wasting Your Life

 
Megan Holstein

Life is precious and we only get one shot at it. Nevertheless, a lot of people spend their life merely passing the time rather than making the most of the short time they have left.

 

Young people are especially guilty of this — we are in the springtime of our lives. If ever there was a time to plant a tree, it’s now. Yet most of us don’t do that. Young people spend their time partying, eating junk food, and taking vacations rather than reading, building new skill sets, building healthy habits, and investing in themselves.

 

Are you merely passing the time instead of making the most of your one life? Here are some ways to tell.

 

1. You don’t get out of bed quickly upon waking.

If you spend a half hour to an hour poking around on your phone before getting out of bed, you are not making the most of your life.

People who have a driving purpose in their life don’t spend time lounging around on their phone in bed. Waking up is no big deal, just the start of another random day. To someone with a purpose, waking up every morning is a refreshing welcome to another day of hard yet meaningful work.

 

2. You spend more than an hour or two a day on aimless activities.

Some activities are inherently aimless, done only because they are pleasing in the moment. Some activities like this are:

  • spending time on social media
  • watching TV or movies
  • playing video games

In small doses, no more than an hour or two a day, these kinds of activities can be an important part of decompressing. Any more than that, though, and you’re going beyond ‘decompressing’ into ‘wasting your life.’ People with a purpose don’t spend too long doing these sorts of things because they are aware that every hour sucked away by aimless activities is another hour they will never get back. It’s not that they try not to spend so much time doing these things — the thought of wasting that much time makes them sick. People with a purpose wouldn’t waste their time this way even if they could.

 

3. You don’t feel ready for bed at the end of each day

People whose days are filled with purposeful activities feel tired at the end of the day. Whether it’s mental work or physical work, purposeful activity uses up all your energy and leaves you ready to go to bed each day.

When you aren’t making the most of your life, on the other hand, you aren’t tired at the end of the day. You are, quite literally, not making the most of your energy.

 

4. You spend more of your time planning than doing

If you spend more of your time daydreaming, planning, or thinking about the future than you do working to bring about that future, you are are not making the most of your life.

People who make something of themselves don’t sit around daydreaming about what the future may be like. People who make something of themselves pick a goal for the future and then work hard to make that goal happen. Someone who spends all their time daydreaming is not someone who spends all their time doing.

Think about professional weightlifters. They spend a little bit of their time researching how to lift weights more effectively, and a lot of their time lifting weights.

 

5. You worry what others think of you

High achievers are too busy getting things done to worry what others think of them. High achievers may worry about what people who matter think of them, but they don’t worry about what their friends, family, or pop culture thinks. They are too busy getting things done.

If you routinely worry about what your friends, family, peers, or pop culture thinks of you, you may be letting your life slip by. Instead of doing what others approve of, find a guiding purpose that you can be true to even when the world turns against you.

 

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Story 6

 

 

Do You Make This Mistake In Conversations?

           How to Improve Your Discourse

 
Years ago I suffered an exercise-related injury. My doctor referred me to a physical therapist. On my first appointment, the physical therapist welcomed me and introduced himself as Michael. He patiently asked questions about my injury, listened intently, and explained what we would work on.

For several weeks, Michael helped me recover from my injury. As much as I appreciated his professional help, what I enjoyed more was his conversational style. He was easy to talk to and a superb listener. He asked a lot of questions and was interested in my answers. There was no competition. I felt like it was important for him to learn more about me. When my physical rehabilitation ended, I missed the weekly conversations with Michael.

 

My doctor (when I lived in California) was another person whose conversations I always enjoyed. We occasionally met for lunch and he always asked questions and showed interest in what I had to say. He listened well and was able to share his own stories and insights in a noncompetitive, flowing manner. We tended to talk about ideas more than everyday stuff, and I came away enriched by our conversations.

 

The poor quality of conversations today

What I seem to notice, increasingly, is the poor quality of conversations today. Perhaps the ubiquity of social media, texting and digital communication has made us all impatient, distracted, rude conversationalists. We tend to talk at one another rather than with one another.

Just the other day, I was enjoying a latte in Starbucks, sketching in my journal.

 

I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation next to me between two women. I don’t know their names, so we’ll call them Carole and Linda. It went something like this:

 

Carole: “So, how’s your daughter Jennifer doing?”

Linda: “Oh, she’s doing fine. We got her a tutor for math, ’cause she’s been struggling a little bit. Oh, and she’s trying out for the girl’s basketball team, so we’ll see.”

Carole: “Our Joseph is still on the varsity football team. We went to his game last Friday night. It was terrific. Look, let me show you (pulling out her phone and scrolling through pictures of the game). See, here he is making a touchdown. Oh, and he’s still eyeing Stanford University. It’s more expensive than the state university, but George and I know it will open doors for him. Joseph might even get a football scholarship. We’re working on that.”

Linda: “Well that’s great. Oh hey, did I mention that Bob and I are thinking about going to Hawaii this summer? We haven’t had a vacation in a while, so we’re pretty…”

Carole (interrupting): “Oh, George and I went to Hawaii last year! Remember, I showed you pictures. We rented this amazing guest house right on the beach. Now that George got a promotion at work, we’re talking about going to Italy this summer. Don’t get me wrong, Hawaii was fun, but there’s just something about Europe that’s exciting. We were going to do one of those tour groups but decided to explore on our own. Like we did when we went to Scotland last year. Did I ever tell you what happened when we visited Edinburgh?”

 

It went on like that. Carole monopolized the conversation, often interrupting Linda to talk about herself and her family. Worse, Carole kept “one-upping” Linda. Whatever Linda had to say, Carole would counter with something better. The more I eavesdropped (I shouldn’t have but they were loud) the more annoyed I became with Carole.

 

“There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse.”-John Locke

 

Competition disguised as conversation

How people converse tells you a lot about them. Egocentric people like everything to be about them, so they steer conversations back to their favorite topic: themselves. Shy, reserved people tend to listen more, but also fail to jump in and share. As a result, they get steamrolled in conversations.

Boisterous, overconfident people think they know everything and interrupt frequently to share their “brilliance.” Insecure people sometimes play the “one-upmanship” game, needing to go one better than whatever your accomplishment or success might have been.

 

Then there is the substance of conversations. It’s natural to begin conversations with standard pleasantries and superficial chit chat. The best conversations move past this, delving into a deeper back and forth. Perhaps sharing with one another about recent struggles or successes. Concerns and dreams. Each listening intently, not monopolizing the discussion, and contributing equally.

Or, the discussion forays into the realm of ideas. Things learned from books or lessons derived from a meaningful movie. These types of conversations are far more enriching than superficial gossip.

 

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

 

A lot of conversations become competitions disguised as conversations. Each person is not really listening. They’re formulating and preparing their next thought and readying to interrupt. Neither is really learning anything from the other. It’s an awkward dance of egos.

 

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” -Simon Sinek

 

Even worse are the conversation hogs who hold you hostage with their long stories, recounting every mundane detail. Their stories frame themselves as heroes, brilliantly outsmarting everyone else and winning the day.

 

Or they devolve into a long rant, bitching and complaining about real or imagined slights. People who hold court over others might think they have a rapt audience, but they don’t. Their audience can’t wait for the pain to end.

 

I’m currently reading Tara Westover’s amazing memoir, “Educated.” Microsoft founder Bill Gates interviewed Tara Westover. On his website, GatesNotes.com, Gates describes the book as follows:

“Tara was raised in a Mormon survivalist home in rural Idaho. Her dad had very non-mainstream views about the government. He believed doomsday was coming, and that the family should interact with the health and education systems as little as possible. As a result, she didn’t step foot in a classroom until she was 17, and major medical crises went untreated (her mother suffered a brain injury in a car accident and never fully recovered).”

Watch the way Bill Gates talks with Tara Westover in the below discussion about her book. While this is more of an interview than a strict conversation, Gates displays all the earmarks of a wonderful conversationalist. He asks brief questions. He nods affirmatively and listens intently. Gates is a brilliant man, but he has no need to pontificate, lecture or tell long-winded stories. He is truly interested in what Tara Westover has to say.

 

Do more listening than talking

 

My wife took me to a beautiful winery once along the northern coast of California. We attended a special dinner and were seated with several other couples. The conversation was polite, as we all remarked on the beauty of our surroundings. But then a woman in the group made an overtly political comment, and in my youthful impetuousness, I couldn’t let it go.

 

Soon the woman and I were engaged in a heated political discussion. The woman’s date was older than her. A distinguished gentleman with white hair and an impeccable suit, he seemed bemused by our debate. He had listened quietly for quite some time. At some point, someone asked his opinion.

He leaned forward, and with a smile and twinkle in his eye, started to share an interesting story from history. It related to our political debate indirectly but took on its own form. The gentleman weaved a short story around it. About hope, loss, and how fruitless some of our battles are. It was brilliant. Elegant. Above the fray.

 

My wife missed it, having abandoned the table with another woman. My debate partner and I had been disarmed and shut down by this wise, articulate gentleman. I learned a lesson that night about humility.

 

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”-Bernard Baruch

 

Here’s the bottom line. We all do it. We all get caught up in ourselves from time to time. We want to be the center of attention. Our egos get the best of us. But the problem is, doing so often makes us utter bores.

The mistake we make in conversations is making it all about us.

 

People love a great listener. There’s a sense of validation when someone listens closely to what you have to say, nods affirmatively, and paraphrases back to you parts of what you said. When we discipline ourselves to stop steering the conversation back to ourselves, something amazing happens. People start to open up to us. They begin to trust us more. They go home after the conversation and tell others what a brilliant conversationalist you are.

 

Tips for better conversations

What follows are some helpful guidelines to improve your conversations. Learn and employ these tips, and watch what happens. You may find people seeking you out more for coffee, lunch or just to talk. People will start speaking highly of you, as someone who really listens and converses well.

Stop trying to be right

What is it with our need to be right all the time? It gets in the way of understanding others. Instead of trying to win a debate, how about trying to better understand where the other person is coming from?

Ask deeper questions, like, “Tell me why you believe that. I’d like to understand better.” Even if you disagree, you might gain valuable insights. Everyone has their beliefs and stories. If you’re always trying to slam them with your rehearsed talking points, then you’re not really conversing. You’re just feeding your ego.

 

There’s an old saying that sums up the importance of listening:

“God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. So you listen twice as much as you talk.”

 

If you’re talking, then you’re missing an opportunity to learn from others. Even people we dislike or disagree with may have wisdom to share. What kind of arrogance assures us that we have all the answers and everyone else is wrong? Learn to listen more.

 

Stop hogging the conversation

Perhaps you are a clever person and have tons of wisdom to impart. Maybe you possess a slew of personal stories about your successes and brilliant escapades. Guess what, most people aren’t all that interested. They may feign interest, but chances are they aren’t.

 

Yes, there are exceptions to this. If you are a paid speaker, people are probably there to learn from you. Or maybe you’re a soldier home from deployment, and your family can’t wait to hear about your tour of service. But for the rest of the time, at coffee or dinner with friends, don’t inflict long, uninvited stories about yourself on others.

 

My Dad was a Type A personality, which means he was impatient and authoritative. It caused him to have a heart attack, and he received counseling on how to better manage his Type A impatience. He once told me the following advice:

 

In the middle of a story you’re telling friends at dinner, excuse yourself to use the restroom. When you come back and sit down, wait and see if anyone asks you to resume your story. Don’t be upset if they don’t. Our every day, personal stories are not always fascinating to others.”

 

Stop the one-upmanship

Some people just have to do you one better. Mention your promotion at work, and they’ll have to tell you about theirs, and why it’s more remarkable. Talk about how proud you are of your kid, and they’ll mention something better about their kid. It’s a twisted kind of insecurity. Like they have to compete with you.

 

We see this too with intellectual snobbery. The academic who has to correct others, and proceed with a mini-lecture on a particular topic. To most people, this kind of behavior looks like you’re wearing a signboard that says, “I’m totally insecure.”

 

Ask questions

The famous attorney Gerry Spence once wrote a book about winning arguments. It was an unconventional book, and different from the usual texts on logic and debate. In one part of the book, he talked about the uncommon knowledge found in others. The wisdom of truck drivers and janitors that cannot be found in books.

If we are to learn more about people and life, we should view each person as an exquisite interview opportunity. Like you, they have their own experiences and stories to tell. Why rehash your life story when you can learn from others? Learn to ask more questions.

 

“The size of our universe shrinks considerably when we place ourselves at the center. And the people who are most focused on themselves are the least satisfied in life.” -Joshua Becker

 

Embrace active listening

If you really want to blow people away as a conversationalist, don’t just listen attentively. Learn to paraphrase back what they said. Here’s an example:

 

“So that’s how come I’m so excited, Steve. I studied for months, took the sign language exam, and passed the first time with 100%! Now I can apply for that new job and if I get it, I’ll get a raise!”

“Wow, congrats Beth. It’s not easy to study sign language for months and ace the exam! When will you apply for that better paying job?”

 

In the above example, Steve clearly paid attention to Beth, and then paraphrased back the main parts of her story. This validates what she’s saying and feeling. She will remember and appreciate Steve’s interest a lot more than if he had turned the conversation into a story about his own work or job successes.

 

Give reciprocity

We all have times when we just have to tell our story. Maybe something exciting happened at work, or we’re still raving about a great movie we saw. Everyone has the need to share their experiences and stories. The trick is to learn to give and take. Learn the art of reciprocity. Don’t make it all about you. When you finish your story, say, “Enough about me, what’s new with you?”

 

Conversations are not competitions. They’re a chance to connect, laugh, cry and learn from others. Steer clear of mundane stories. Follow the tips outlined above, don’t make it all about you, and soon everyone will be saying what a remarkable conversationalist you are. But the best part is that you’ll start connecting on a deeper level, learn new things, and find greater joy in the conversations you have.

 

Originally published at https://johnpweiss.com.

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint, and write about life. Get my free, weekly newsletter here.

 

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Story 7

 

My Message To Those Who Are Struggling

Struggle Gym Motivation - Unbroken
 

Up until four years ago, I lived my life in a constant struggle. I still do, except now I see the beauty and gift that comes from the art of the struggle. We’re all struggling in some way because we’re all part of the same flawed human species.

 

The most common email I get from fans is “How do I overcome X struggle?” In one short blog post, I’m going to talk in detail about the subject. I’m going to give you the advice I would give my own children if I had any.

 

In a way, this blog post is not just a message to those of you who are struggling, but it’s also a message to my former self.

 

It’s the advice I wish I had when I went through so many dark times. It’s the advice I wish I had when my whole world collapsed, and the point of life seemed meaningless.

We all feel like this at one point in our life. Going through struggle is not about suffering, it’s about overcoming adversity. The aim is not to avoid but embrace. Come on a journey with me to your deepest, darkest place and let’s see if we can find the light again in your life.

 

Here are my top 5 tips to those who are struggling:

 

1. Become more

When my life took a nasty turn for the worse, one thing saved me: the realization that I had to become more. Once you acknowledge where you are at, and decide to become more, little changes start to occur inside of you.

For me, I was struggling because I hadn’t become a person worth knowing. I let every vice, bad habit and temptation take over my life.

“The devil was knocking at my door, and I kept letting him in rather than tell him to F%$# off” – Tim Denning

Late nights were common at this stage of my life, and I made fun of everyone I came into contact with to cover up my own insecurities. Most of all, I made fun of people in love. This was the very thing at the time that I was incapable of getting anywhere near.

Becoming Free From StruggleWhat I lacked, I chose to highlight and shame in others. My potty mouth was out of control, I honked my horn at anyone not doing 100 miles an hour, and I was rude to anyone who made less money than my overpaid salary. These are things I’m not proud of, but today I stand here ready to say I was wrong.

For those of you struggling, what you need to do is become more. You need to be able to pick up on your flaws like I just did and then work on them. You need to be committed to become more in society and hold yourself to a higher standard.

You are capable of so much, and you can bring about phenomenal change in this world if you just let go. Let go of your fear, how you’re perceived by others, your fake ass social media lifestyle, your too cool for school image, and anything else that is not serving you.

Let go of the past and choose to become more.

 

2. Do more

We’re all pretty lazy when it comes down to it. If you’re struggling, it’s because you need to do more than you’re currently doing. But doing more of the wrong kind of activity will only see you suffer more. You need to do more of the good stuff like:

– Making people smile for no good reason

– Helping people who are in need or stuck in life

– Giving that extra 10% that nobody is willing to give

– Starting that business that you’ve been putting off

– Doing more of what you love so you can live life at its best

– Loving someone other than yourself

– Allowing yourself to fall in love if you haven’t already

 

3. Travel more

Last year was a bloody tough year for me. Everything that could go wrong in my personal life did. How did I overcome this major struggle? I got on as many planes as I could. For a guy that used to be scared of flying, this was an achievement I was proud of.

 

When I arrived in places like the USA, I saw people who were struggling even more than I was. I saw people In San Francisco who were not only poor, but who had also lost their minds and just wanted to die. I saw the other side of humanity that Instagram selfies almost always miss.

 

Walking through the jungle travel

Travelling made me more compassionate, and opened my eyes to the world beyond my perfect home country Australia. Initially, I had a ridiculous, unlikely plan to possibly escape Australia and move to San Francisco. I thought I could be Mark Zuckerberg and become one of those cool tech entrepreneurs that drove a Toyota Prius.

 

By the time I got home, I was even more in love with Australia than I had ever been before. I stopped taking for granted all those beautiful rivers, mountains, rainforests and parks that I’d become accustomed to. My mind expanded, and I was never going to be the same again.

 

Do you care about my stupid travel adventures? Definitely not. I told you all of this because if you’re struggling, you need to travel more.

 

Get out of the mother’s womb that is your hometown, pack your suitcase, and escape.

 

Don’t escape life, escape temporarily while you find yourself again.

You’re not lost forever because of your struggles: you’re lost during a brief moment in time. You need to find yourself again, and travel is part of that process.

 

4. Be happy with now

There’s a lot of pressure on us from society to live according to some prehistoric timeline. You’re born, then you finish school, then you get a college degree, then you get married, then you have kids, then you retire, and then you die.

 

“The trouble with living to society’s plan is that you keep fast-tracking to the future”

 

The problem is that your future is not guaranteed. All that you’re guaranteed of is this current breath. Accumulating milestones is a pointless quest if you don’t love right now.

 

As bad as things may be, you could be dead or in hospital. You could have sight but no vision. You could be living in a third world country and getting tortured or raped every day. Life’s not that bad, and you can be happy again, no matter what your circumstances are.

 

I’m not saying to forget about the milestones like marriage and kids, but what I am asking you to do is have faith that they will happen when the time’s right.

 

I’m asking you to be mindful and appreciate the things you already have.

 

Stacking possessions will not make you happy. Stacking experiences, combined with finding who you are, will. Changing the world, giving to others and loving everybody will make you fulfilled (the ultimate form of happiness).

 

These things will allow you to win the quest you’ve been sent to Planet Earth to win. We can all conquer and triumph at this quest, as long as we believe we have the capacity to do so.

 

5. Struggle together

Alone we are small. Together we are united and capable of doing anything. Who are you surrounded by? Who’s has your back? If you’re struggling, then the answer is probably no one or very few people. To come back from adversity, you have to bring others in to assist you.

No one’s going to do this for free, though. You have to give before you can attract the right people. If we look at a company like Amazon, there’s no way it could have ever existed without lots of people working together for a common cause. There’s no billion-dollar company with one employee.

You’re struggling, in part, because you haven’t got a foundation of people underneath you to hold up the structure that is you.

“With all the I’s and selfies in the world, we’ve forgotten about the us’s and we’s. We have forgotten about why we need a tribe around us”

To rise up from your struggles you require a magnet-like attraction to phenomenal human beings who can change the way you think. You need people in your life who are going to hold you accountable and be there when the inevitable fires of your life begin to rage.

No fire lasts forever, and that’s the same with your struggle. The goal is not to avoid struggle, but to bring others into the fight and win a united battle. You’re capable of so much more than the current standards you are living too. If all I manage to do is get you to acknowledge the struggle, and agree not to dismiss it, then I’ve won.

Repeat after me:

“I can change the world”

“Struggle equals growth”

“Pain is temporary”

“We’re in this together”

“I must form the habit of giving”

“I’ll have faith from now on”

 

 

Where to from here?

 

Throw away your pity pants and decide that tomorrow’s going to be different because you’re in control. Accept the struggle and reframe it in your mind as the best thing that could have ever happened to you.

 

The Struggle Continues

When I went through this process four years ago, I committed to changing my entire environment. I read books I had never read (I’d never really read a book since primary school), I sought out the top performers in their field, I went to seminars, I changed my diet, and most of all I decided not to be mediocre. I told myself that

 

“I CAN CHANGE THE WORLD AND HERE I AM.”

 

The process was hard, and I did seek professional help initially. Struggle is hard, but so is life. What’s freaking awesome, though, is when you overcome it. When you get to the top of the mountain and realize there’s another one that’s just as hard to climb and it’s even higher.

It’s that never-ending pursuit of success that keeps us alive and makes us human. That’s enough for today my young student. Now it’s time to take action, go out into the world and try this stuff out. Believe in yourself!

 

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Story 8

 

Do These Things Before Going to Bed and You’ll Wake up Energized for Tomorrow

Your day really starts the night before.

Tim Denning

The time before bed is sacred. What you do before bed determines how well you sleep and whether you will wake up the next day energized.

 

I often thought that morning routines were key until I realized that a morning routine is useless if you wake up tired and lifeless.

 

It’s hard to get out of bed and start your day with a bang if you haven’t slept well and set your day up the night before.

 

Your day starts the night before.

 

Experiment with doing these things before going to bed:


Empty your cup

 

The day causes our cup (mind) to overflow with thoughts, ideas, concerns and stories that repeat themselves over and over.

 

Empty your cup before you go to bed. Let it all spill out so that your cup won’t continue overflowing all through the night and stop you sleeping.

Try these:

  • Write down your thoughts before bed
  • Talk about your day with your partner
  • Watch a mind-numbing show

That last one is my favorite. I often watch a TV show called “Grand Designs” before bed because its simplicity allows me to escape my thoughts and concentrate on the physical structure of a house. I will never be a builder and have no intention of building a house or renovating.

 

The TV show has no meaning to me, there is nothing for me to learn, and I have no interest in the subject whatsoever. This complete disconnect helps to empty my cup.

 

Many of my friends cite mind-numbing TV shows as being helpful for them emptying their owns cups before bed. Try it for yourself.

 

Chill

To prepare for bed, you’ve got to chill out a little. Take a load off, relax, sit on the couch, lie on the floor, sit up in bed, or find your own way to relax.

 

Part of calming down before bed is getting yourself in a relaxing state of mind. We all have an activity that we find relaxing. Insert that activity right before bed.

 

Have a warm shower

 

A shower before bed is an excellent way to relax. There is a lot of mumbo jumbo about your body temperature before bed and while there’s probably some truth to it, the relaxing benefits of a shower can be underestimated.

 

If you really are worried about the body temperature before bed debate, you can make the shower a warm one rather than a cold one. What matters is that time alone with water pouring down all over your body. The sound and motion of the water has a meditative effect that is hard to explain.

 

Stop eating at 8 PM

 

Eating right before bed is a bad idea. Your body needs time to rest and that includes your stomach.

One way I have found to increase my energy levels has been to insert a period of fasting into my day. I stop eating at 8 PM each night and don’t start eating until around 7 AM the next day. This gives my body plenty of time to do its thing and not be bombarded by never-ending calories that it has to work overtime to process.

 

Try giving your body a rest and not having a late-night snack.

 

Spend time with your partner

 

Time with your partner (or your housemates/family if you don’t have a partner) is a way to experience human connection before bed.

 

We spend so much of our day in front of a phone or computer that we can easily forget that there are these things called human beings that exist too. Asking about someone’s day helps take the focus off your own and that is another way to empty all the thoughts out of your mind.

 

Try reconnecting with a human before bed.

 

Let your worries rest

 

Going to bed with a head full of worries will not help you sleep.

 

Worry keeps us awake and lets our minds keep ticking. You can’t fix your worries in your sleep. Accepting your worries and letting them rest until tomorrow without the need to come up with action plans is a helpful thought to ponder.

 

Before bed, the aim is to get out of problem-solving mode and into resting mode.

 

Contemplate what you have achieved

 

I find contemplating what I have achieved helps me to switch off.

 

When you think about what you have achieved, you feel a sense of pride and it puts your day in context. It makes the struggles you endure worth it and that thought is a calming one before bed.

We achieve so much each day and that might help you get ready for tomorrow.

 

Avoid social media right before bed

 

Now I am guilty of this one. Being on LinkedIn late at night is tempting for me. But it doesn’t help me sleep.

 

All it takes is a stray comment or the need to compare my results to someone else’s, and my sleep is disturbed. There’s always one more thing to do when it comes to social media — another post, another comment to leave, another writer to study, another fun fact, another opportunity.

 

Social media before bed makes your mind go a million miles per hour and that is the enemy of rest.

 

Social media triggers thoughts and plants a huge volume of information in our brain at a rapid pace. This is not good for rest.

 

Finish up social media early if you can, so that you can focus on relaxing and getting ready for tomorrow.

 

There is always time for social media tomorrow. It’s not going anywhere.

 

Be appreciative for one thing

 

You don’t have to get all spiritual and shit and be all #humble.

 

Appreciating one thing helps you to realize how much you already have. Every day, you get one gift of something going right amongst all the stuff that goes wrong. This gift is a good focus point to reflect on and be at peace with.

 

 

Did the car start? Did someone hold the door open? Did the customer do what you wanted them to do? Did you get to read that book?

 

There are plenty of things that went right today and remembering one of them will help you prepare for tomorrow and wake up energized.

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Story 9

 

 

How to Activate Extreme Self-Confidence and Destroy Chronic Anxiety and Fear

Anthony Moore

When I was growing up, I had virtually no self-confidence.

 

A chronic stutter had convinced me to keep my mouth shut; better not speak at all than speak and get laughed at.

 

Heavy pornography usage had eroded my ability to connect with people; I would frequently make huge conversational gaffs when I’d try to hold a conversation. “Look out, huge butt coming through!” I cackled stupidly as a girl I liked walked past me to her seat during a football game.

 

Do you ever just want to go back in time and…repeatedly smack your face with your shoe?

 

Most people don’t have high self-confidence. A life lived for others and no real effort to improve has left them wildly insecure, full of self-doubt and confusion.

 

The solution is confidence and self-belief. But these aren’t innate gifts, as most people might think. Motivational speaker David Schwartz once wrote:

 

“All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. Those people you know who radiate confidence, who have conquered worry, have acquired their confidence, every bit of it.”

 

If you want to activate extreme self-confidence and finally eliminate chronic worry and anxiety, you need to build it yourself.

 

Here’s how.

 

Trade Your Mediocre Behaviors For Those of Successful People

 

“The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.” -Darren Hardy

 

Most people constantly practice mediocre, substandard routines and behaviors.

 

There is a distinct difference between how successful and unsuccessful people operate. They think, speak, and carry themselves very differently.

 

Successful people with high self-confidence weren’t just born that way — they became that way. NYT Best-Selling author Grant Cardone once said,

 

Success is not something that happens to you, it’s something that happens because of you and the actions you take.

 

Success and self-confidence must be grown, nurtured, and trained. Anyone from any background, regardless of upbringing/social class/ability can cultivate this skill.

 

It requires deliberate and intentional training, though. Like any skill, it’s grown over time. Those who put in the work, get the results.

 

To produce extraordinary results, you don’t need an unlimited budget; you just need a better tool kit.” -Tim Ferriss

 

If you want to have the type of confidence, focus, and charisma that enables you to achieve your ideal lifestyle, you need to model your behavior on others who’ve already succeeded.

 

Want 100% financial independence? Find a mentor who’s already done it.

 

Want to own your business? There are dozens of incredible people who teach how to do it online, for free.

 

Want a strong, healthy body? I think you see where I’m going with this.

 

Trade in your outdated and unhelpful actions with the actions a successful person would do.

There are people, right now, living the life you want. Read their stuff. Buy their courses. Follow their instructions.

 

If you want a different life, you need to do things differently.

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone

 

 

Act While You Feel Fear

“Act while you feel fear rather than waiting until you feel unafraid.” -David Richo, How to Be An Adult

The world’s top salespeople still dread picking up their phone sometimes.

 

The world’s most accomplished athletes still get nerves before big games. Bill Russell, one of the greatest players in NBA history (winner of 11 championships in 13 years) often vomited before big games due to nerves and anxiety.

 

When asked about how he felt when he released a movie, legendary film director Martin Scorcese made this remark:

 

“If you don’t get physically ill seeing your first rough cut, something is wrong.”

The world’s top performers act while they are afraid.

 

Don’t wait until the fear is gone. Act while you feel fear.

 

I remember being in love with this cute girl in middle school. I barely spoke a word to her in class. I was terrified of rejection, of stuttering over my words if I revealed my feelings.

 

On the last day of school, I was determined to tell her. I can still remember how profoundly terrified I was as I walked up to her group of friends (why are girls always surrounded by an army of friends!) and I nervously asked if I could speak with her alone.

 

I told her I liked her, and asked if she’d be my girlfriend.

 

She said yes. I think we awkwardly hugged, and that was it.

 

The ending isn’t important (we didn’t speak to each other all vacation, and then she broke up with me through her friends when school started, OK?).

 

But if I had waited until I didn’t feel afraid? I would have never talked to her. I would have regretted it for years.

 

Author Mark Manson once joked, “How do you get rid of ‘runner’s block?’ You go for a f*cking run.

If you’re scared of something, the easiest way to gain confidence is, well…just do it.

There are some phenomenal writers and authors out there that we’ve never heard of — they’re too scared to publish. As writer Jon Westenberg once wrote: “You just have to outrun everyone who doesn’t have the guts to publish their work.”

 

Act while you feel fear. Even if you get unceremoniously dumped, you’ll feel better and better.

 

Seek Problems, Don’t Avoid Them

 

“One of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people look for problems to resolve, whereas the latter make every attempt to avoid them.” -Grant Cardone

 

What happens when you avoid problems?

 

You develop a bad reputation for dumping your work onto somebody else. Your personal integrity is chipped away. Fear and anxiety begin brewing; “Will this come back to haunt me later?” you wonder. Your peace of mind is lost.

 

But what happens when you decide to seek problems?

 

You become someone with the sterling reputation of a “problem-solver.” You attract respect and admiration. “The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers,” Adam Grant wrote in his book, Give and Take. You become someone people trust. Help naturally flows to problem-solvers — even if you don’t succeed!

 

The reason most people struggle with self-confidence is because they’ve proven to themselves over and over that they “can’t do it.” They’ve tried eating healthier, exercising, being more productive, drinking less, but nothing seems to work.

 

If you were a business, would a customer trust you’d follow through on your word?

 

The answer is no for more people. To remedy this, you need to start building trust in yourself again. Your word must be your bond. If you say you’ll do something, that means something.

 

So seek problems out. Give yourself some reps. Failure doesn’t matter; Seth Godin once said, “If I fail more times than you, I win.”

 

What matters is the practice. This builds up your self-confidence and self-trust.

 
 
Most People Aren’t Self-Confident — So Don’t Do What Most People Do!

“When they zig, you should zag, and you’ll win every time.” -Ramit Sethi, NYT Best-Selling author and entrepreneur

 

Most people aren’t full of confidence or self-belief.

 

Quite the opposite, in fact. Most people are insanely insecure. They are heavily preoccupied in what others think of them. They act to please others, and their primary motivations are “keeping up” and “looking cool.”

 

Whenever I fall into the rhythms that are common or “popular,” I start to feel that fear and anxiety again. Things like:

  • I need to keep up an image on social media
  • I need to make sure I have a cool-enough answer at my high school reunion for, “So what have you been up to?”
  • I need a better haircut so people will admire me fondly

It’s all a game. None of it matters. It only leaves you feeling more insecure.

So if most people are insecure, scared, anxious, and fragile…

 

Don’t do what other people do!

 

If you keep living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have,” wrote prolific motivational speaker Jim Rohn. If you want a different life, you need to do things differently.

 

If you want to eliminate your anxiety and fear, then don’t look for answers from what author Hal Elrod calls the “Mediocre Majority.” They’re just as lost as you are, even if they’re great at pretending they aren’t.

 

When most people zig one way, you should zag the other way.

 

Choose your role models carefully. Those with the loudest voices rarely offer the wisest insights. In my years in 12-step programs for recovery, getting a “sponsor” (a guide for the difficult path ahead) is crucial. The best advice given to me about choosing a sponsor was to just find someone who has what you want.

 

Do you want the same insecure, boisterous, superficial life most people have? Or do you want the real thing, full of quiet self-confidence and an inner pride?

 

Then find someone who has what you want, and ignore the rest.

 

What Doesn’t Add to Your Healing Subtracts From It

 

“If your lifestyle does not add to your healing, it will subtract from it.” -Benjamin Foley

Is your lifestyle full of positive, supportive, healing influences?

 

Or is it full of garbage that drags you down and prevents you from growing?

Most people have several negative influences in their life that are dragging them down. “All around you is an environment that is trying to pull you down to Second-Class Street,” author David Schwartz once said.

 

These influences — environment, people, media, behaviors — prevent you from evolving into better versions of yourself. It’s your responsibility to cut them from your life.

 

If it’s not helping you, it’s likely hurting you.

 

“You cannot hang around negative people and expect a positive result.” -Darren Hardy

 

Strangely, most people try to fill their life with all sorts of “things” to remove the fear. But for the most part, more things means more anxiety. It’s more upkeep, more debt, and more things draining your attention.

 

As my friend Niklas Goeke once wrote, “minimalism will not make you happier.” But less stuff is almost always better.

 

I gave away most of my clothes. I don’t buy “trinkets” or “doo-dads,” things that have no real value.

 

Prolific blogger James Altucher claims he only owns “15 things,” ensuring his mind is focuses and unencumbered.

 

“I wonder what it is that the more we have, the more we become prisoners at the thought of losing it, rather than setting us free.” -Nirmalya Kumar

 
 

In Conclusion

Most people struggle with big levels of anxiety and fear. It’s uncommon to see high levels of self-confidence; people notice the person who is secure and comfortable in their own skin.

 

You can be that person. Even if you’re not there yet, start by modeling your behaviors around people who already have what you want.

 

Act while you still feel the fear; it’s not going away, so act anyway. Trust me — you’ll feel better after.

 

Seek problems out. Start proving to yourself you can handle problems and you won’t back down.

Remember — most people are full of tremendous anxiety and self-doubt; don’t do what most people do!

If you want to activate extreme self-confidence and eliminate anxiety and fear, then start living a new life with new behaviors that will make that possible.

 

Ready to Level-Up?

If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.

Click here to get the checklist now!

 

 

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Story 10

 

I Stopped Drinking, Then Realized My Whole Life Was A Lie

Untangled Blonde
 

Pretending to have your shit together is a lot like baking your own birthday cake and eating it alone. A lot of effort that ultimately ends up leaving you feeling worse about yourself than when you started.

 

When my life was a train-wreck all my energy went into my appearances. Well, all the energy that wasn’t spent procuring drugs and getting shitfaced, that is. My idea of “self-care” consisted of never running out of lipgloss and keeping my manicure and lashes on point 24/7. Cute dresses and shoes were a must, and I never left the house without my handy makeup bag or hair straightener in tow.

 

I was a complete mess, but as long as I didn’t look like one it didn’t matter.

 

But like that nail polish you keep painting over in a lazy attempt to avoid a fresh pedicure, you can only hide the real issues for so long. And just like the 4th coat of polish, by the time I realized I could no longer cover my problems the damage had long been done.

 

The crazy thing is, faking “normal” actually worked wonders for a while. On the surface I was #lvingmybestlife, but just beneath was a world of trouble just waiting to explode.+

 

Tapped Out

 

Have you ever noticed how the last ¼ of anything runs out the fastest? A tank of gas, an eight ball of cocaine, a cell phone battery — you name it. It’s a fact of life: once you have less than a quarter left of any of these things, you may as well be out.

 

As my addictions progressed, my capacity to handle the problems that came along with them began plummeting at a rapid rate. My life was spiraling out of control and before I knew it I was completely depleted. I barely had the energy to brush my hair, let alone even THINK about handing the real issues.

I had been neglecting myself for so long that I didn’t see the warning signs until they hit me square in the face. Here I was, thinking I was this cool shiny Porsche cruising down the freeway with enough gas to get by, when in reality I was a beat up lemon who was lucky to have even made it this far unscathed.

I had long been tapped out emotionally and mentally, but now my outsides reflected what I had so carefully kept hidden all these years.

 

I was naked and exposed for the world to see, and I was left with no other choice but to confront the mess I had made head-on.

 

I had years of repressed emotions, trauma wounds, and unresolved mental health issues staring me right in the face, and for the first time in my life I was too exhausted to do anything but surrender.

 

I had been so focused on tricking the world that I didn’t realize the only fool I was tricking was myself.

 

Facing the Mess of My Life

 

In a strange way, “rock bottom” brought with it a sense of relief. The charade was up and it was time to face my demons. And as with a lot of daunting tasks, dreading it turned out to be exponentially worse than actually getting started.

 

Something funny happens when you surrender to your truth.

 

When you no longer have a secret to keep or an addiction to hide, weight lifts off your shoulders and pieces of your life begin effortlessly falling into place.

 

I had no idea how difficult I had been making life for myself until I stopped drinking. This misguided attempt to sneak past the tough stuff had unknowingly left me trudging through mud, and it wasn’t until I became honest with myself about all the inner work I had ahead of me that I finally gained the strength to persevere.

 

I was starting to realize that neglecting myself all these years was having a much bigger impact on my life than I ever could have imagined. I was fine with ruining my own life, but once I took a step back, I could clearly see that my lack of self care had been hurting others too.

 

At work, I had turned into a complete mess. I was perpetually late, in a perpetually bad mood, and frankly; perpetually inappropriate. I was the queen of squeaking by with the bare minimum. No one could rely on me anymore to do important tasks, and e-mails would go unanswered more often than not because I was too “busy” to care.

 

Looking back now, it is obvious that my drinking was hurting more than just me, but because no one actually said something, I thought they were none the wiser.

 

I was a crappy girlfriend too. I was convinced that my only job was to show up and look pretty for the nice dinners and trips my boyfriend constantly planned for us. All I cared about was how things looked from the outside. My self-worth was measured solely on my appearance, and as long as I looked “fine” and my boyfriend and I “looked” like a perfect couple, that was all that mattered in my life.

 

My 1st Crack at Self-Love

 

Not drinking gave me the clarity to make shifts in my mindset that would have taken me years to figure out. It illuminated the fact that not only did I not give a shit about myself, but I clearly didn’t give a shit about how others treated me either.

 

I began focusing on what I had only paid lip service to in the past — my mental health, creativity, body, self-love.

 

I was becoming a person I didn’t even recognize, and I was really growing to like her.

 

Where before, sipping a mug of tea while writing in a gratitude journal sounded like bullshit psychobabble I couldn’t get behind, it suddenly became the thing I craved the most to get me through the day.

I was starting to realize that enjoying the “little things” in life is really just code for “enjoying quiet moments with yourself.” No wonder this advice was terrifying when I was an addict — I hated everything about myself. Why the hell would I want a cup of tea with that bitch?

 

But I was learning to love myself and things were changing fast.

 

Sobering Truth

 

The moment I quit drinking was also the moment I woke up to reality in my relationship. I was living in a bubble of lies and denial, and as much as I conveniently ignored my own shitty behavior, I was also unable to register the shitty behavior I was allowing from others as well.

 

Without drugs and alcohol to hide behind, nothing made sense anymore.

 

I knew that I had been disrespecting myself with substance abuse, but now I could see that I had unknowingly given my boyfriend a free pass to disrespect me too.

 

My self love and self worth had been non-existent up until this point, and so were my boundaries with others. Now that things were starting to shift within me, it was affecting my outside world in ways I never could have imagined.

 

I was no longer tolerating abuse from myself, so why the fuck would I tolerate it from others? I was scared to set boundaries before because I didn’t feel like I deserved them, but now the rules had changed.

 

I was not going to accept anything less than what I was now able to give myself.

 

New Love, New Chapter

 

I am learning skills at 31 that are forcing me to reevaluate everything in my life, from my own mistakes to the way I interact with the world. It’s uncomfortable at times to be so vulnerable with myself and others, but for the first time in my life I feel worthy enough to have these emotions.

 

While on the surface this story is about drugs and alcohol, the lesson is much bigger. I’m realizing that the way I treat myself is the way the world will treat me. And that is exactly what this journey is really all about.

 

I’m done putting limitations on myself. I am ready to hold myself to higher standards and eager to give this life the respect it deserves. I am embarking on a new chapter in my life.

 

I am done standing in my own way.

 

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Story 11

 

How To Avoid The Renaissance Man Trap

This Is the Problem With Being a Jack of All Trades

John P. Weiss

When I was a boy my mother enrolled me in classical piano lessons. Every Friday after school Mom dropped me off at the home of my piano teacher, Irma Hincenbergs.

Mrs. Hincenbergs was a Latvian refugee who lived in a beautiful Victorian house in downtown Los Gatos, California.

 

On the wall beside Mrs. Hincenbergs’ grand piano were several pencil drawings of famous composers, including Chopin and Beethoven. I often admired the drawings as I butchered my way through Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”

 

Mrs. Hincenbergs knew that I loved to draw cartoons. Every Friday after my lesson she presented me with a stack of editorial cartoons cut out of her daily newspapers. She was a kind and thoughtful woman.

 

Despite my grumbling about lost Friday afternoons, I grew to appreciate classical piano. It created the foundation for my later experiences playing keyboards and singing in both high school and college rock bands.

I didn’t realize at the time how much my interactions with Mrs. Hincenbergs were shaping my creative predilections for music, drawing and cartooning. Further, I had no inkling of how much these diverse interests would complicate my life.

 

The Leonardo da Vinci curse

 

Leonardo da Vinci was a remarkable polymath. Painter, sculptor, anatomist, architect. Talk about a multi-talented individual! He was born in the right era, as the Renaissance rewarded such men of varied talents and dimensions. But would Leonardo have fared well today?

 

According to author Leonardo Lospennato, who wrote “The Da Vinci Curse- Life Design for People With Too Many Interests and Talents,” Leonardo da Vinci might have struggled in our modern age. Why? Because our knowledge base has increased exponentially from the days of the Renaissance.

 

In this age of vast information, a multi-faceted guy like Leonardo da Vinci would have a field day indulging his many interests. However, he may have struggled to make a good living due to all his intellectual curiosities.

 

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” — Leonardo da Vinci

 

Increasingly, we rely on specialists rather than generalists. For example, you wouldn’t use a general practitioner for open-heart surgery. You’d seek out a cardiac surgeon. Similarly, most college students today declare a major to ensure a solid career path.

 

Depth versus knowledge

 

As a teenager, I juggled many creative pursuits. I played the piano and sang. I liked to paint and draw. I became a cartoonist for my high school newspaper. I enjoyed writing short stories. Beyond these creative hobbies, I also played chess, competitive tennis and studied martial arts.

I became what the author Leonardo Lospennato calls a “Da Vinci person.” Da Vinci people dabble in many areas. They tend to jump around from field to field, acquiring a lot of knowledge but not necessarily a lot of depth. Jack of all trades, but master of none.

 

“The jack-of-all-trades is seldom good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” — Napoleon Hill

 

Friends often referred to me as the “Renaissance man” because of all my creative pursuits. The problem was, I wasn’t progressing very fast in any of my interests. I was spread too thin and had fallen into the Renaissance man trap.

 

The book “The Da Vinci Curse,” recommends finding a single pursuit that is “complex” enough to integrate many of your talents. One way to figure this out is by using a pre-selection strategy. Examine your creative interests and look for three criteria:

 

1. Is it fun?

2. Do you have a talent for it?

3. Can you earn money doing it?

 

A lot of artists and creative people dabble in many areas but never achieve mastery in any one of them. They become frustrated because they aren’t getting anywhere.

This was my story for a long time. Only when I gave up all the hobbies and focused exclusively on my artwork and writing did I see progress.

 

The power of simplifying

 

Simplicity played a big part in helping me avoid the Renaissance man trap. Early in my law enforcement career, I was dabbling in several hobbies, from music and martial arts to writing and cartooning. With a family and full-time job, I often grew frustrated trying to squeeze my hobbies into very little free time.

 

I asked myself which hobbies I enjoyed the most and had a talent for. The answer was my cartooning. I was a decent martial artist and musician, but my cartooning was already at a professional level.

 

“Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.” — Henry David Thoreau

 

So, I quit training in jujitsu (despite being a brown belt on the cusp of my black belt). I also gave up my dream of forming another rock band. I was content to play the piano and sing at home. I put these pursuits on the back-burner and focused intently on my cartooning.

 

Guess what happened? My cartooning blossomed. I ended up moonlighting as a staff editorial cartoonist for both my city and county newspapers. I began selling my work and found deeper creative satisfaction. All because I simplified and set aside the other hobbies.

 

In recent years, I stepped away from editorial cartooning to focus on my writing. I studied with a top blogger, hired a copywriter to coach me, and set a regular writing schedule.

 

As a result, I now have thousands of newsletter subscribers and over 37K followers. I draw cartoons for my articles, but it was the intense focus on improving my writing that made the difference.

 

Jack of all trades, master of none

 

There are exceptions and anomalies to every rule. For example, consider the case of Jacob M. Appel. Here’s how Wikipedia describes him:

 

“Jacob M. Appel (born February 21, 1973) is an American author, poet, bioethicist, physician, lawyer and social critic. He is best known for his short stories, his work as a playwright, and his writing in the fields of reproductive ethics, organ donation, neuroethics and euthanasia. Appel’s novel The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012. He is Director of Ethics Education in Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Appel is the subject of the 2019 documentary film Jacob by director Jon Stahl.”

 

Talk about a renaissance man! I watched the documentary film about Jacob and was fascinated by the scope of this man’s interests and accomplishments. And yet, before the documentary, I had never heard of him.

 

Despite his many degrees and accomplishments, I ended the documentary wondering if perhaps Jacob Appel spread himself too thin? What if he had narrowed his focus, putting more energy into the passion he most enjoyed?

 

One person in the documentary said that Jacob most wanted to be a playwright. Interestingly, Jacob gives his plays away for free on his website. Had Jacob devoted more focus to his plays, maybe his work would have been on Broadway?

 

The website lifehacker.com ran an article titled “Knowing a Little of Everything is Often Better Than Having One Expert Skill.” The article notes:

 

“Creativity often requires drawing analogies between one body of knowledge and another. Pablo Picasso merged Western art techniques with elements of African art. He was struck by the way African artists combined multiple perspectives into a single work, and that helped lead to the development of cubism. Similarly, great scientists often draw parallels between different areas to create new ideas. In the history of science, Johannes Kepler struggled to understand how the planets could move around the sun, and drew on his knowledge of light and magnetism to try to understand the force that moved the planets.”

 

No doubt reading widely and acquiring diverse knowledge can broaden your perspectives, enrich your life and quite possibly improve your work and creativity.

 

But if every pursuit of yours is given equal time, then you run the risk of falling into the Renaissance man trap. You risk becoming a jack of all trades, master of none.

 

Focusing primarily on one area of expertise will enable you to acquire greater depth and ability. It will keep you out of the Renaissance man trap. However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon your intellectual curiosity.

 

Read broadly and feed your mind. Synthesize ideas, borrow what works, and funnel the best of what you learn into your one, primary pursuit. Yes, you can try and fuel all your passions and creative projects, but doing so will slow the development of your primary pursuit.

 

Routines trump goals

 

The late author David Wallace Foster wrote:

 

“Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it.”

 

Our interest in many passions often sabotages our achievement in any one of them. It’s not easy to give things up that we enjoy. It was difficult for me to walk away from the martial arts and performing in rock bands. But as a result, my artwork and writing took off.

 

Another reason my writing and artwork succeeded is because I set up regular habits and routines.

 

Blogger James Clear has written that routines trump goals. You may have the goal of becoming a top artist, but it’s the routines and habits you adopt that will ultimately matter most.

Let go or scale back the hobbies and passions you’re less talented with. Set up a regular schedule and focus on deep work in the passion you love most.

 

Put as much time into that passion as you can and you’ll avoid the Renaissance man trap, quickly hone your skills, and achieve greater joy and success.

(Adapted from and originally published at FineArtViews.com)

 

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint, and write about life. Get on my free email list here for the latest cartoons and writing.

 

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Story 12