What is the Value of Friendship?

28 04 2009
The Chinese symbol for "Friendship"

The Chinese symbol for "Friendship"

 

What do you value about your friends and the time you spend with them? Is your emotional experience enhanced by their presence? Do you learn from them, teach them? Is friendship some kind of innate need that we should all see as vital?

Tell us what the value of friendship is to you.

 

The floor is open,

Lend us your thoughts by commenting below:





Record the “Keepers!”

26 04 2009
Trap all those poignant ideas you want to keep

Trap all those poignant ideas you want to keep

 

      Haven’t you made a point to remember something, and maybe you wrote it on a sticky note or the back of a receipt – but lost it.

      Maybe you read something and knew that you wanted that bit of knowledge, or that fact, or phrase – but the mental “want” didn’t translate to recording it?

      Here I’m going to go into a practice that I just began a few months ago for myself. I call it “Recording the Keepers.”

——-

      I recently began learning in a whole bunch of new realms, including personal finance and marketing, and at the same time I’m going to be graduating from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Kinesiology (the study of human movement).

      I began thinking to myself “how am I going to keep track of all of this?” I knew that there were many facets of my education that I wanted to be able to retain forever – useful information about exercise regimens, treating injuries, understanding IRAs, et cetera.

      So, I started ARCHIVES on my mac book. I have one with all the poignant kinesiology information I always want to be able to reference, one for personal finance knowledge, one about sales and marketing, and today I just started one for cooking! (I have been “culinarily dabbling” recently)

       These lists will always be developing, some facts will change and new important information will be added.

      This gives me reference to core information in designated documents, so I won’t have to search the Internet for 30 minutes trying to find the American College of Sports Medicine’s flexibility recommendations.

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       The awesome part of this practical tip, is that you can record “keepers” in any area of life. Plus, recording things again, and typing / writing them out will further ingrain them into your head.

      Maybe you could record gardening information so you don’t have to flip throug your books every year.

      Maybe you could record some magic moments you have with friends or relatives – little memories you want to have for a lifetime.

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      Find some areas where you’d want to record keepers and start a log, computer is good so is paper. I prefer computer myself because I take my laptop everywhere anyway, but you do what would be best for you – you might have a lot of fun picking out a nice spiral bound notebook.

      Everyone can probably think of at least one area in their life where they have information that they’d like to record and have on hand. If this is something that resonates with you, identify a good one, and record a bit today.





I’ll Sleep When I Die (update 1)

26 04 2009
A "bed"? I wouldn't know how to use one of those things.

A "bed"? I wouldn't know how to use one of those things.

 

      I’ve always had a slight aversion to slumber. I wouldn’t call myself type – A, I’m not a stressed out fellow, but I like doing things, I like striving towards my meaningful objectives.

      Recently I’ve had more exciting, meaningful objectives than ever. After waking up a few VERY early morning to teach private Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons, I discovered that I could run a whole day on 2 hours of sleep no problem.

      Then I realized that I could sleep for only 4 hours after sleeping for only 2 hours the night before.

      Then I got to the point I am now, where I sleep somewhere around 5 horus per night, and I love it.

      As a disclaimer, you may have you get yourself PUMPED on some very compelling objectives in order to do this, but I found that its actually quite easy. Now I get to stay up SUPER late and study philosophy, work on inquiry, sing karaoke at the bar, or type up exciting new blog stuff!

      Honestly I feel like my ability to write isn’t all that hindered by my lack of “recommened” sleep hours. I also don’t feel less efficacious in exercising. I’m not even drinking coffee daily.

——-

      Hey, this Living Experiment might crash and burn, but I’m going a couple weeks now and feeling strong!

      Ironically enough I’m actually about to write my to-do list for tomorrow and pass out. I promise I won’t sleep for muct more than 5 hours, though.





Forming Concrete Habits

26 04 2009

concrete

 

      Have you ever made a point to alter a behavior or a habit, but found yourself forgetting about it? Maybe once in a while you say to yourself “I don’t think this is doing me any good, I’ve got to stop doing this” or “I should replace this with something else.”

      Its a bit of a shame that these points sometimes don’t sink in, and we do not hone ourselves to what we see as best (or as I might say when I’m feeling philosophical: “what we deem to be highest”).

      *Forge a Concrete List of Habits*

      Hear me out here, this sounds so simple but it was profound and enriching in my life. I’m going to let you in on my life a bit and go into some of the examples I have in my list:

      1) Find certain habits that you simply don’t want to continue, and make a point not to do them anymore.

      In my life, this involved:

  • Not taking long showers – I used to hang out in the shower for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Sure it was momentarily pleasureable, but it was a waste of water and a waste of time. Now I’m in and out in 5 minutes of less – significant change.
  • Not juggling numerous tasks – I used to be writing inquiry, checking email, looking at other blog posts, and texting friends at the same time. Woo hoo multitasking! Not really. Now I focus on a single task and designate a certain amount of time to it exclusively, and I consequently make better progress faster.
  • Not eating sweets – I’m no junk food junkie, and I consider myself to be in very good physical condition. However, as a general principal, I want to eat that which is nutrient-dense – foods that I know I will be comfortable eating for a lifetime. Its not like I turn down a slice of birthday cake, but otherwise I don’t touch sweets and junk, and I’m pumped about having these adaptive diet habits.

      2) Next, come to understand some habits that you do every now and again that you’d like to continue, or habits that you want to start.

      Here’s a glance at some of my own “do’s”:

  • Appreciate 3 positive things about my day before sleep – This habit was something that I did on and off, and decided to make a pattern in my life. I review 3 great things that happened in my day (could be new info learned, a fun moment with friends, an breakthrough in my comfort zone), and then visualize some future goals.
  • Wake up with the alarm – I used to be a bit of a snooze button guy, and I used to be a late sleeper. Now I wake up with ideas on how to have an awesome day and progress with my most meaningful objectives, and I literally can’t help myself from leaping our of bed.
  • Protect my possessions – I used to leave my car keys in the car, and leave my iPod in there. I used to bring my wallet with me and feel fine with leaving it somewhere for a little while. Niave. After experiencing the consequences of theft, I now always lock my car and always ensure that my wallet and valuables are safe.

      It is important to note that these new habits needn’t necessarily be framed in the negative or the positive (my “don’t take long showers” could be replaced with “take short, efficient showers”), its really just about what is most compelling for you.

        This simple idea changed my life. It is empowering to define a habit, make note of it, and completely align with it because you know its best. So often we make note of these behaviours but do nothing about it in terms of real change in action and thought – in the way we go about living.

      *Ideas on Designing Your List*

      Now on to some practical advice on coming to create your own inspiring, beneficial habit list:

       Understand your values – This is a prerequisite to forming compelling changes for your future behavior. If you are unaware of what holds meaning for you, then you will not be driven to alter or create any habit.

      For instance, I value my day to day emotional experience, and I value the ability to take an adaptive perspective and appreciate the fulness of life. This strongly compels me to review 3 positive things about my day before going to bed.

      Run behavior checks – Right now you might be thinking “I honestly can’t think of any habits I want to change or create.” I thought that as well. Review your actions throughout the day and see if they are in line – or at times directly against – your highest values, that which you live by.

      For instance, while in the shower one day, I wondered why I had been there for 25 minutes. I came to understand that the pleasure of warmth was not worth the waste of water and productivity that short showers would provide. I value my environment, and I value my productivity – so my behavior check helped my make a new habit!

——-

      With these ideas I am confident that you can compose a Habit List. You might not make it too long at first, focus on a few key distinctions, a few diferent ways to respond to the same old scenario that will in fact be better for you overall.

      In time, some of these habits won’t even need to be reviewed because they will be integrated smoothly, and you will have molded your responsive behavior – so you’ll be ready to create some more habits!





“What Used to Be” – The Pain of Loss with Boethius

26 04 2009

      Boethius’s Consolidations of Philosophy might not be as famous as Plato’s Republic or Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Despite its being forgotten from the classroom (especially in comparison with the other “big names”), this work is considered to be quite influential, and it serves as a direct application of the philosophical process to human life.

      Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius himself – born around 480 AD – was a consul to the  kingdom of the Ostrogoths. As the son of a consul, with both popes and Roman emperors in his heritage, young Boethius was privileged to attain a formal education in Greek – possibly in Alexandria. Working to a position of vast governmental significance under Theodoric, Boethius was unfortunately accused of treason for a cause that is not known.

      After his arrest, Boethius was sent away to Pavia, where he would wait for his own death without any of the fruits of his life’s labor, or the pleasures he has become accustomed. During this wait, he wrote Consolations of Philosophy – where he writes the book as in interesting dialogue between himself and the physical, female embodiment of philosophy itself.

      In these dialogues, Boethius explores the ideas of fate, the nature of happiness, and God. Lady Philosophy attempts to reveal to Boethius that his happiness needn’t depend upon fortune and external events, but that – given his understanding of philosophy – it should reside under his command.

      These reflections are poignant, and directly relevant to the most important issues Boethius must have been juggling with as he waited for his execution in prison. A particular quote resonates well with Boethius’s fall from remarkably good fortune to remarkably bad, and it brings a fascinating issue to the table:

 

“For in every ill-turn of fortune the most unhappy sort of unfortunate man is the one who has been happy”

 

      Ah, isn’t it so. Most people can immediately find a situation in their own life to tie in with this quote as soon as it is read. Can you?

      Here Boethius expresses an idea to the colloquial phrase “we don’t know what we’ve got ’til its gone.” The insight here is that all of our conditions are filtered through our perspective, and if our conditions are relatively worse than they were before, we’re often going to feel it.

      It is commonly said that the poor and wakes up poor every morning and is barely troubled, while if the rich man woke up poor he would be tremendously troubled. We become accustomed to and potentially identifies with certain conveniences, certain pleasures, and certain privileges.

      Once these are removed, our focus is not on what is left – on what is present – but on what was, and is now lost. Our daily lives may become filled with ideas of what we once had in similar circumstances, but no longer have. This focus on loss and the past continues, and so we suffer.

      The good news is (there’s good news?!), this suffering is completely dependant on the objects of our perception. Our sense of self may have been attached to those things or circumstances which good fortune had brought us. Our continued focus on them in their absence will bring about a sinking feeling.

     Think about something simple, like an iPod and a laptop computer. I didn’t have either of these two items a few years ago. If I woke up tomorrow and my macbook/iPod were gone, I would – to be honest – at least feel an initial pang of pain.

      These objects have become such an easy way for me to store and record important information, they aide in my ability to study and grow. If I never owned these objects, then waking up without them would likely not bring down my emotional state.

      Taking the insight of Boethius into account, we might make note of those things and situations which we genuinely appreciate. We might also understand that our continued focus on that which is lost will only bring about feelings associated with loss – and that overcoming this aspect of our condition implies control of our focus.

      Just from reading this blog post, it might be hard to immediately apply these ideas to a situation as serious as that of Boethius. However, if in the near future you only have to deal with a missing iPod and not your impending doom, you might be able to put your conscious perspective to work.





Defeating “Student Syndrome” for Productivity

26 04 2009

women

 

      Last week we took a look at Parkinson’s Law, now we can turn our focus to another potential hindrance to our productivity – “Student Syndrome”.

      The good news is, with the understanding of these human tendencies comes a degree of freedom from them. When you come to see the effects of this “syndrome” on your life – you’ll probably want to understand this one well.

 

  • Student Syndrome – 

“We tend to only apply ourselves when we believe we have to.”

 

      This tendency is closely related to procrastination, but not synonymous. Procrastination deals with a series of habits and ways of avoidance, “Student Syndrome” is just one.

      How can we deal with this tendency and keep it from holding us back in important areas of our lives? It may not matter that we did our middle school geography project the night before, but continuing that habit forward isn’t likely to be the most direct route to our productivity.

——-

       Before understanding methods of dealing with “SS” (notice the abbreviation, I’m keeping you on your toes here), it will serve us to understand its origins:

      Reserving Energy– This may be argued to be part of our innate programming. We’d rather expend less energy if at all possible. As we know, this will often come back to bit us. It is much easier to come up with a happy little mental picture of us accomplishing the task in the future than it is to get it done now!

      Pain and Pleasure– Arguably the basis of any decision, this facet of “SS”‘s function is important to understand. Right now we do not accomplish a certain task because we associate more pleasure to NOT doing it, than to doing it. Alternatively, might we associate more pain to doing it, than to NOT doing it. It boils down to the fact that we do what we believe will be pleasurable – and we often neglect a long-term view.

——-

      Dealing with “SS” – like genuinely dealing with any challenge in our own conditioning – involves grabbing life by the horns.

      I do NOT aim to regurgitate traditional “procrastination buster” information here, though I have nothing against it. Ideas such as chucking large tasks into manageable smaller ones or writing definite to-do lists are not useless pieces of information, but you’ve heard it before.

      Here are some things that I find particularly useful for overcoming our habit of only applying ourselves when we feel as though we must:

      Unexciting Tasks First– I like this rule, I like it a lot. Here’s how it goes. If you have 10 tasks you want to accomplish in a given day, chase down the one’s you aren’t as excited about first.

      If you plan to work on some writing, visit a friend, do some research in an area of interest, and do the dishes – you’re likely to go to bed with a pile of dirty dishes in the sink if you don’t make a point to do them first. You will find reasons to drag out other tasks forever.

      Instead, understand that the dishes are a necessary task, and use the other exciting tasks as leverage to do the less exciting tasks swiftly and effectively. Don’t wait until the plates are growing mushrooms the size of a cocktail umbrella.

      Exemplify Excellence : Its almost ironic how effective we can be in the last minutes of accomplishing something. The thing is, it was not the external world that brought out our efficacy, it was our perception of what needed to be done.

      Make a habit of diving into your tasks at your best at all times. Take the time to look at yourself while working on any task – a homework assignment, house cleaning, studying, et cetera – and compare your efficacy to when you are at your absolute best.

      When you forgot about the test until the night before, you aren’t half studying, half surfing youtube. You’re (bleep)ing studying. Hopefully you’re taking notes, reviewing important chapters, and diving into the information. What if you studied like this all the time? That would be what I call ‘exemplifying excellence’.

——-

       Implement these ideas the next time you feel like you’re putting something off or vaguely puttering with it when you could be getting things done big time.





Why do we have children?

25 04 2009

42-15273780

What motivates us to want to bring a child into the world? Do we see them as carrying on our last name and the heritage of our family or culture? Do we yearn for them to stand for the causes we stand for when we die? Do we yearn to have a child of our own our of some kind of instinct?

You might want to ask your parents on this one.

 

 

 

The floor is open:

Juggle your ideas by commenting below: