Archive - May, 2016

Intermediate Stop on My Journey

It has been an enjoyment, albeit a humorous one, to have been reading my old blog posts. My inspiration does not always hit the times when I am free to write, so I have been browsing through my old posts in attempt to find ideas for new writings, or regurgitations of my old ideas in more mature format.

If one point of my blog has been to document my self-development journey, it has at least partially fulfilled that function. In my old posts I might have been still finding my own voice, and perhaps still am, but there was enough of it there to leave a permanent stamp of the mindset, the thought-patterns and emotions that I had at the times I have gone through.

Reading my old posts one sentiment stands out above all – I have come a long way. Long way from the guy who was just struggling through everything, desperately trying to make some money to go to Japan. The guy who was trying to work so hard but getting so little done, yet in the end beating himself. Reading my old posts, I can be proud that I have gotten over those times, to a happier and calmer time.

However I am not particularly filled with pride with the stagnation that has followed since. I feel like sometimes slowing down is appropriate, but stopping for too long just leads to everyone else being far ahead by the time you are ready to move. Then you have some catching up to do.

It has been interesting to reconnect with my old self through my old posts, and to wonder what that kid full of hopes and dreams would have done if he had my resources and situation at his disposal.

Cause back in the early days of the blog, in the early 2013, over three years ago, I had next to nothing. The perception of time here is bizarre too – I have been to over 10 countries since, had multiple failed relationships and other strong experiences, which makes it feel like it was a lifetime ago. On the other hand, though, you think it was 2013 so it was just recently. In this case, three years makes a big difference.

Makes me wonder, what would I have done differently if that guy had gotten access to what I have now. Then again, I needed to go through my journey to get it. I needed to learn to work harder. I needed to let go of attachments. I needed to go through uncomfortable situations to get to the current, calm mindset that I generally have.

But like I said, there is no room for stagnation. That same kid who was far off, much farther off his goals than I am now, set his sights far higher than where I wound up. It is comforting to see that a lot of goals me from three years ago set, I have achieved and that most of the ones I did not achieve turned out to not be so important anyway, but it is not like I am ready to rest on my laurels.

In fact, you never will be, but even if such a time existed I would be nowhere close to it. I still have anxieties, I still have struggles in my everyday life, but also progress has been made. It is funny to read my old posts how happy I was over simple things, how I was painting them to be this huge challenge where in reality they weren’t. But that is an important reminder of where I come from: It was a big deal at the time, it was a big challenge at the time.

For me to be relatively normal today I had to overcome massive resistance in the beginning, such that 95 % of people won’t even ever understand cause they don’t see how simple things had become difficult to me due to mental resistance. It is even hard for me to understand it, despite having lived through it. Like I said, that time feels like a different lifetime and it is hard to access even the memories of that time. Yet, I am not even that far off yet. I could easily slip back there, things have not changed that much.

Which is why this life-situation should be just a temporary, intermediate stop in my life. A plateau from which I can look below to my old life, but where I should just take a breather before gritting my teeth, looking atop of the peak I am going to and then start trodding along the path.

Not Everyone Should Have an Opinion About Everything

I have gotten stuck on some Social Media debates lately. A big mistake always. Really bad for your general happiness levels.

Long things short, what really drives me crazy is that ignorant people have a strong opinion about something they obviously have no real knowledge, first hand or second-hand, about. Just on impression, people have so strong opinion they are willing to stand by it even against all the logical evidence.

Here is the deal – unless you have a lot of experience and knowledge about something, you really should not have an opinion about it. At all. Let alone a strong opinion. I don’t get to have strong opinions of many things as a result of living by this paradigm. But the ones I have actually make sense for the most part and I feel deservedly firm about them.

It can kinda make me a boring conversationalist sometimes, cause for most things, I just don’t have a strong opinion, usually things that I don’t really care about. Thankfully it helps me avoid tedious and fruitless arguments with people and is a good price to pay for retaining my intellectual integrity.

But thing is, why should you have a strong opinion about something you really don’t know anything about? If you have never been in a fight, you should not act like you know how to do it. If you have never been in a gay relationship, you should not have a strong opinion about it. If you have never had an abortion, or understand completely the reasons and methodologies regarding it, you simply have no right to have an opinion. These are not subjects I have been arguing with people about, cause I really don’t have strong opinions about other people’s business, I just mentioned them cause lot of people do have a strong opinion on them even though they definitelys should not.

This is something that really should be taught in schools, cause it would clear a lot of dumb, loud people out of the social media, I mean man can dream that would be the effect anyway?

Whatever the case may be, the current society is ran exactly the opposite way. Places like social media encourage people to speak up even though they don’t know anything about things. It gives them platform to be widely heard and spread their views that might be completely out of touch with reality. This is not a ran against free speech – this is rant against intellectually rotten mindsets that are simply lazy to thoroughly think through their views.

Another form of encouragement for this “having an opinion despite knowing next to nothing” -phenomenon is democracy. How many of us really have a depth of knowledge about politics? How many of us have a depth of knowledge about how things should be run in our country or world in general? How many understand education, global economics, etc etc so deeply that they should have a right to opinion?

Truth is not many, but the whole idea of democracy is that it expects us ALL to have an opinion about it and all of our opinion counts the same towards the ultimate decisions. This is not an anti-democracy rant as such, it is just pointing out a fact how democracy is flawed at its root level. Hence we end up with political candidates that no one seems to want.

Everyone’s opinion does not count the same. If you haven’t at the bare minimum spent a long long time introspecting a matter from multiple different angles, please just shut up already. Your opinion is not worth shit. Even with just introspection, the validity of what you say is limited. As soon as someone with experience on the matter steps into the conversation, anyone who is not ego-invested should realize that their opinion just became second-class.

Once again we ran into the problem that just because you have some experience, you are automatically right. A small sample of experiences does not make you right. It is so common for people to make sweeping conclusions about things just based on one thing. It is just as invalid as just thinking about a matter.

So what is what we want? I don’t want to aggrandise myself, but obviously I think I behave correctly in this matter. I am not saying I am perfect, I probably have un- or subconsciously strong opinions about things I know jack shit of, or about things I think I know a lot but really actually don’t, but I try my best to follow following guidelines:

  • Have a breadth of knowledge on the matter.
  • Have at least some real life experience or observation on it so I see how the ideas work in reality.
  • Carefully weigh the different sides of the matter in my mind over a long course of introspection.
  • Avoid subject matters I do not know anything of.
  • If I do venture to have an opinion about thing I am not so familiar with, admit right away my limited knowledge and not aggressively defend my opinion.
  • Be ready to let go of your opinion if someone shows in clear terms that you are wrong.
  • Learn new stuff.

These are not conscious guidelines that I have had, I just wrote that down first time trying to explain kinda the internal compass I have developed for these things.

There is the old measuring stick about people’s actions that “if everyone did that, then x” that is used mostly in attempt to invalidate some ways of life. I think it is stupid actually, but without digressing from the point I am making, this is one such mindset that if everyone adopted it we would have much less intellectual noise in our lives and more carefully weighed opinions from people who know what they are talking about. To stay true to what I just outlined above, I have to admit I do not know what else would everyone adopting this mindset would cause, but as it would never happen, it does not really matter either. I just think it is an easy way to make your mind a little bit clearer.

In the end though, you are best advised to avoid arguing with people online in the first place – even when you are right, you are gonna have a bad time. In fact, the less regard you have what the people and the society think, the happier you will be in your life.

Always a Way to Improve

I didn’t write a headline for this post, I will just kinda do a stream of consciousness and then just see what comes, then slap the general theme or whatever conclusions I might come to as the headline. So let’s go…

May Madness Challenge is now running on its second week, and so far I have been successful, even if just grazing the bar sometimes with my 50 points a day requirement. It could have been an easier landing to the challenge, though.

First setback obviously has been my erratic sleeping pattern, which makes consistency hard and planning of days tricky. I cannot complain about that too much, though, as that is entirely in my control. Bigger problem has been falling sick in the beginning and in fact I am still having health problems. Nothing severe, just a bit of a fever, but it does make putting in longer work hours bit tougher.

No cutting slack though. I would cut myself some slack if I set a really difficult target like 100 points per day, which gets borderline impossible if you are sick and feeling lethargic, but I precisely set the 50 point daily limit to have some room for manuevering. So no mercy on that. 50 points is not that hard to get, just put in few hours of concentrated work during the day, read a bit and do some other good shit, and you will get there. So I am not doing anything earth shattering here even though I am sick.

It just shows how much of our lives is just up to our decision, though. I am far from my best conditions, yet if I just commit to it, being that productive every day is not that hard. It is not an impressive level anyway, but it will lead to some improvements already in a person’s life, and to point out how rarely I reach even this measly levels, last time I scored 50 points on nine successive days was back in 2013 – unfortunately that is not something I cannot confirm as I lost all my old records expect the top-10 weeks of all time, but given I had scored multiple over 400 point weeks in a row it is likely I also stayed above the 50-point line.

In the end the points itself don’t matter – it is just a tool for measurement, something to show how much a simple decision and emotional leverage to stay disciplined can cause change in your life. My points increased by about 50 % from the average of previous few weeks. Was my life strictly speaking better? No, to be honest not, as I was still adjusting to the new limitations and hence not being as free to go out etc, as well as getting sick, but I got done a lot more than I have been getting done lately. Again, I am still on no impressive level, but you cannot jump from 1 to 100… Or maybe you can, who knows, but point is I am not trying to sell you on some magic pill that changes everything. I am still on the red on most individual things in my tracking spreadsheet – which means I am still not doing enough of almost everything by my own standards.

Few weeks of 400 points got a book done, and few weeks of 300-500 points that the challenge ought to bring would make me get shit done on more acceptable pace.

Thing is, what I am describing here is what the high-achievers will get on their worst weeks.For high-achievers, even when they are taking a break from working, stuff like meditation, reading, social relationships, etc. are such prevalent things in their life, that they would rack them up into the 300s easily every week.

Why is that? Well my first instinct was to phrase it above that it comes naturally to high-achievers, but I am sure that for lot of them it did not come naturally to begin with – but over time it became natural for them. It was all a matter of self-training. They had strong enough motivations to keep enduring in self-discipline for years and years to build habits that naturally support a good life. I have done it in the past too, but I have to admit that lately I have ceased to really actively build positive habits. Why that is would merit a whole another post pondering.

Thing is, always keep moving. You might have been standing still for past two years, and lament how you used to be sprinting ahead of the pack and now struggle to even keep up jogging pace. You gotta build it up again. Or you don’t have to – you can always choose mediocrity. I am not even being sarcastically motivating you with reverse psychology – for some people it really is satisfying choice and they can be happy just chilling their life. Not everyone has to push everything in their life to the max, you can also just chill it to the max and be happy, some people can certainly do that.

For me, the force that set me moving, the dissatisfaction, the knowing that I can do better than this, the need to prove to myself time and time again that I am awesome and can become awesome every day, is now counter-balanced with the force of feeling everything is good and right, chill and satisfactory. The good is the enemy of the best. Breaking the inertia of the chill and having all your basic needs met is a tricky thing, again worthy of a post of its own.

I have struck some chord within myself with this challenge though, cause for all the little nuisances I am still going and seem to have the mindset to keep going until the end. The first week is always the hardest, and with the added difficulty I have been enduring it is unlikely things would get harder – hope I won’t jinx it by saying that. Just goes to show how granted I have been taking my health and my time to not even match what I am now doing while healthy.

So perhaps it all comes back to that old notion about life being short, thing that I have already taken multiple times to reiterate. It is a hard lesson to internalize. Easy to know as a thought, but to internalize so you really have understanding of it is a whole different ballgame. You love someone more when you almost lost them and know deep down you might lose them again. Every moment with them becomes precious. So too becomes life when you fully, deeply realize with every cell of your body that your life might be taken away from you any moment. We all lead a cushy existance that rarely pits us eye to eye with that reality of death, even death of our loved ones does not necessarily be enough to give us that deep understanding.

Thing is, I am about to slip into another monologue that would be worthy of its own post, so I am gonna cut this one here. As expected, this was exactly the kind of post you would think about after I said I will write a stream of consciouness; rambling, lacking focus, just generally all over the place. If there was any thread running through the post, it was that we all have to power to change our lives at any moment and all it takes is to find a way to get over ourselves.

May Madness Challenge

It has been a while I have wanted to put myself under a challenge. I have started and failed some challenges since the major success of Spiral of Awesomeness, but nothing has really concretely even started, which has at times even made me think that the whole model of making challenges for yourself is a bit contrived anyway.

Something about it appeals to me though and it can be hard for me to set my mind correctly to get started on some things if I just think I should do something. I guess I am a guy who reacts well to a set, simple target and working towards it. I don’t know what it is, and ultimately the results have been mixed anyway. Thing is, I am ready to try something again after spending last few months more or less stagnating.

After all, if any challenge can be as big of a success as Spiral of Awesomeness was, it is not just a gradual increase in the quality of my life, but a whole jump to another level. In the end it does not matter why something works, what matters is that I get a psychological leverage over my primitive brains. Competitiveness is one way to do that, as is this challenge mindset.

So with all that in mind, let’s delve right into what I want to do for my May Challenge.

May Madness

It was a long process trying to figure out what kind of a challenge I would set. Spiral of Awesomeness was very structured, and I tend to respond very well to that kind of parameters, because it is very black-and-white, very little thinking involved. However the way my life is at the moment would be at odds with the level of rigidity such challenge would require. I needed something more fluid. I am sure eventually I will try to put more structure back to my life, but I needed more of a challenge that involved mindset rather than specific actions.

In the end the answer came to me from closer than I even thought – my point system, the Universal Awesomeness Score. In short, UAS tries to condense my quality of life/productivity in one number. It does not actually necessarily tell how good my life is, but it does measure well how well I am using my time. If I score high? Might have been a shit day, but I at least put in a lot of effort that day and did things I consider to be valuable to me. So while not perfect, it is a decent yardstick and I did score my highest weeks during Spiral of Awesomeness challenge – and all that effort wound up changing my life. To put it short, I don’t see anyone scoring highly in it for an extended period of time and NOT getting some rewards from their hard effort.

The risk of course is that without clear guideline the daily actions become a bit muddled, but I will try and see what happens. Regardless, it gives me the fluidity to do whatever I want on any given day as long as it is accruing me more points.

The only thing to decide was what is the appropriate difficulty level. My first instinct was 30 points per day, which is something I have been doing fairly consistently over recent weeks. I realized in the end though that it is not much of a challenge. There should be difficulty, so I decided to hike it up to the upper limits of my ability. Scoring 50 points every day is fairly hard and takes lot of discipline and consistency. This year I have scored over fifty only on nine days, so stringing a month of going over it every day is gonna be challenging. However, if I can do it once in a while, I can do it repeatedly. If you can take one step, you can take thousand steps.

50 points a day translates to about 350 points per week. Right from the start this is more than I have scored in any week of the year so far, in fact I have gone over 350 points only 3 times since start of 2014. So it is very challenging, but as said, it is within reason to go for. To further challenge myself, I want to beat my old weekly record from 2013, and take my record to 500s, so one of the weeks of the challenge has to score 500 points for me to consider the challenge a success.

The Parameters in Short

  • Score 50 points every day (midnight to midnight Thai Time)
  • Starts May 3rd, lasts five weeks until June 5th.
  • One of the weeks has to score at least 500 points.

Rewards

Completing the challenge successfully, I will buy myself Muay Thai Pads to assist training. If not, I will not buy them for at least 6 months. This is the perfect kind of reward as it is something that I really do wanna get for myself, but don’t necessarily need so I can forego it in case I fail. This gives a real, tangible outcome for my subconscious to motivate me.