Tag: inspiration

Are you ready to forgive?

I’ve had some weird experiences in my life – I’ve had some ups and some downs, made a few enemies but even more friends. I’ve been an asshole, and I’ve been assholed against.

And you know what? It all passes.

Forgive and forget.

Life goes on.

The quicker we forgive, the quicker we move on. This forgiveness goes for others, but it certainly goes for ourselves. Sometimes it can be hard to forgive ourselves for things we did in the past, but hating ourselves is not going to solve the problem – only diving deeply into the situation with yourself and anyone afflicted will.

Of course there are some wounds which are deeper than others, and they might take longer to forgive, but we must never lose sight of how powerful forgiveness is.

The longer we hold a grudge, the more we suffer – this goes for ourselves as well as for others.

We must ask of ourselves that we forgive. We must demand it.

Do you have the right stuff?

If you’re a millennial like me, you’ve most likely grown up in a world where our basic needs were cared for.

We didn’t have to hunt our food, and we were pretty certain where our next meals were gonna come from. This has left some (most?) of us with a profound sense of longing and wishing for something more.

Many of us wish that there was somehow more to life than going to work and coming home and watching Netflix. This is not a complaint – it’s an outcry against the hollowness that many of us feel from our daily routines.

The words “There has to be something more than this” echoes in the back of my mind like an almost constant choir of haunting voices.

In my brief career I’ve managed to hold more positions than some people do in a lifetime because of this echo, and I know I’m not alone.

I know that many people feel this emptiness in their hearts and minds, and we all attempt to fill it in different ways – some with social media and TV, others with food and wine and some with exercise. There are people who foster children and yet others fill their hours with work to the exclusion of almost everything else.

When our father’s fathers and their fathers were young men, there was something to fight for.

A country, an ideology, an idea, a belief.

I envy the founding fathers, because they had an idea worth fighting for and an ideology worth dying for. They were willing to sacrifice themselves and die for the freedom we now have.

According to legend, John Adams aspired to be a politician, so that his children might be mathematicians, philosophers and poets.

And here we are.

With all the freedom to become anything that our hearts desire, but that very freedom is crippling.

It is suffocating.

It turns into FOMO.

But don’t get me wrong – I’m not an activist.

I’m not a radical.

What I want is for you to fight for what is yours. I want you to find an occasion to rise to. You have to find a challenge you can meet.

Live up to the ideals that made us who we are.

We must all strive to be better humans. To make a difference. To be bigger than just ourselves. To create something meaningful for others, however small.

That is how we move ourselves and each other forward.

That is how we silence the constant inner chatter.

That is how we show that we are made of the right stuff.

Between a rock and a hard place: why you must indulge your jealousy

Whenever something good happens to other people – especially people we have some sort of relationship to – our immediate reaction is to feel a tinge of hotness in our stomach.

The thought that goes along with it, can range from “oh, shucks I wish it was me” to “how on earth could they promote that motherfucker, he is dumb as a doorknob?!?”

The point is, we all feel jealous from time to time – it’s a very human emotion – and it’s very hard to deal with, truth be told. We’re raised to believe that jealousy is a sin, and that we must avoid it at all costs, but avoiding certain emotions because they’re supposedly not good for us, has all sorts of psychological drawbacks in its own right.

So I’m here to tell you to indulge your jealousy, because in all honesty there are very few people who I genuinely want good things to happen to besides myself.

I don’t think as myself as Satan incarnate, but I am very much human and what I’m getting at, is that being un-jealous is incredibly hard – at least for me – and since you’ve read this far, my guess is you feel the same.

What I want to do is to put the shoe on the other foot, and instead of obsessing over ways not to be jealous, or trying to think of how we can all become better people by wishing well for others, I’m going to encourage you to indulge your jealousy.

It’s okay to not want good things to happen to others.

Feel your anger, your spite and your fury in all it’s magnificence.

But here’s the plot twist: who and what you’re jealous of and why tells you a lot about your deepest, hidden motivations.

I am sorely jealous of most talented non-fiction writers. I’d swap lives with Tim Ferriss, Dan Pink and especially Tim Urban in a heartbeat.

I adore these guys, and I want them to be incredibly successful so that I can continue to enjoy their work, but I also want a career like them.

I’m motivated by the freedom they have, by the creative genius they all possess and I’m jealous of their extraordinary gifts.

Who you’re jealous of, tells the story of your deepest desires, so if you really want to find out what motivates you, find out who makes you the most jealous.

A few things I learned from five years of writing bad rap songs

Things are easy to over complicate. It’s hard to just be in the moment. But when we’re in the moment is when we do our best work. I could easily tell you a story of some famous person who struggled to do his or her best work and then stopped overthinking things and all of the sudden things just clicked.

But that would be too easy.

Too cheap.

So I’m not going to do that.

What I’m going to do instead is to simply tell you my story of writing. I started writing when I was 12, and I was feeling lonely at fat camp. My preferred style of writing was rap music – believe it or not – and as an entirely too white kid from an entirely too white neighborhood, this was a really embarrassing choice. In spite of that I managed to keep it up for the better part of five years, and it taught me a thing or two about myself. One of the things I learned was that I do my very best work when I don’t think too much. I do my best work when I get out of my own way and just go with the flow – literally. If I was an artist I might say something like “I am simply the medium through which the Universe speaks and my main job is to unclog the divine artery.” Thankfully I don’t consider myself enough of an artist to use those words, but you get my drift.

The main point of this post is that we can get a lot of very good work in, if we simply get out of our own way, and this post is a reminder to let your own creativity flow as freely as possible.

Peace.

How You Can Use Fear To Make You Stronger

Ever since I was a kid there have been things which have scared me to no end. The first time I was ever really afraid of dying was when I was 8 years old, playing hockey. I remember it very vividly – I was afraid my hockey stick would break and somehow cause me great injury. Naturally this never happened, because the odds of that ever happening are less than miniscule. It didn’t stop me from being afraid of it however, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been afraid of various events that never transpired.

What I’ve learned from this, is that there are a few ways to handle fear – fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of failure or any number of other fears you might conceive of. You can either succumb to your fears, which means that you let your fears hold you back from doing things, which might be a good idea in the case of crocodile wrestling, but which might not be a good idea, when it comes to asking that girl out. You can also choose to do things in spite of your fear, or you can investigate them and figure out exactly why something scares you, in which case you might learn a thing or two about yourself.

The many faces of fear

All three of these modes of dealing with fear have been useful to me, to some extent – for instance, I was overweight as a child and had to go to fat camp, which has instilled a borderline unhealthy fear of ever becoming overweight again. This, however, has also allowed me to cultivate a few healthy habits in terms of sleep, nutrition and exercise, and has spurred me to educate myself on this subject matter, more than I otherwise would have, and for that reason, I’d argue that this fear has turned out to be a net positive for me.

So fear can actually help you in a variety of ways if you know how to harness it correctly. Fear however, can also be detrimental to your well-being. More than once, I’ve found myself in a rut, because I’ve been afraid of something. For instance, I’ve been afraid to put all my effort into something, because I’ve been afraid of what happened if I failed. The result of this fear is simply that I’ve done work, which has been of poorer quality than I would otherwise have been able to deliver, and there is no benefit to this whatsoever. This is an instance when fear is very clearly and unequivocally holding me back, and I’m sure you can think of instances in your life, when you’ve experienced something similar – because fear is a very human emotion, it happens to the best of us, and the best we can do is simply to recognize it for what it is, and act accordingly.

Action-plan

So what is the best thing we can do, when we recognize that some fear or other is holding us back? One thing I’ve found to be exceptionally helpful is to confront the fear that is impacting my life, and writing down what might happen should it come fruition. For instance, if I put all my effort into my work, and I still fail, I will gain a realistic knowledge of my current skills, and I will obtain an understanding of the areas where I need to improve. As long as I keep in mind that everything in my life is subject to change, and if I apply what I know, I can grow based on the feedback I receive from my work. This is such a powerful strategy, that the very that there is something to be afraid of in this regard seems ludicrous.

When we see fear for what it is – namely a feedback mechanism which allows us to recognize and work on our weaknesses, we become that much stronger, and fear loses its death-grip over us. Keep in mind however, that not all fears are bad, and we must be aware that there are good fears and bad fears. Fears which keep us from acting stupid and fears which keep us from achieving our dreams, and the better we are able to distinguish between the two, the better our lives will be.

 

How Routines Make You Creative

Many well-known creatives including Tim Ferriss, Steven Pressfield and Ed Catmull have spoken highly of the positive influence that routine has on creativity. That is to to say, if you want the highest creative output, you must schedule when you’re going to be creative.

This might strike you as odd and counterintuitive, but the fact of the matter is, that if you want the highest creative output, you must condition your mind, in the same way you’d condition your body to lift heavy weights. What I mean by this is, is that inspiration rarely strikes a random person on the street, who is then possessed to write a masterpiece. Much more often – not to say always – creative output is a result of years of prolonged effort and hard work.

To illustrate this, let me tell you about the time I went to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. There is no doubt that the man is a creative genius, and he has produced a number of masterpieces which are absolutely astonishing. He also started out however, as a terrible painter, who painted some of the most uninspiring pieces I’ve ever seen, like his painting of Potato Eaters:

Image result for van gogh potato eaters

I’m not sure what to say about this painting except for the fact, that it is a far way away from some of his later masterpieces like Starry Night

Image result for van gogh starry night original

What I’m getting at here is that creativity takes time to develop. It doesn’t happen overnight – not even for Van Gogh.

This means that if any of us are going to have a fighting chance at anything close to the creative output of a Van Gogh, we’re going to make a habit of being creative. We’re going to have to routinely exercise our creative muscles. Aristotle rightly phrased that excellence is a habit more than anything, and excellence in creativity is a habit as well. If we have creative aspirations, such as writing, creating a podcast or painting, we must schedule our efforts and optimally exercise our creativity on a daily basis.

Another thing to consider, is that you don’t have to schedule hours and hours of work every day. In fact, I don’t believe that is the best use of your time, because if you do that, then you risk burning out quickly. What has worked for me, is to break creativity – or any other matter really – down into its smallest constituent parts. What this means is that because I want to write, I make a habit to write 300 words every day, which takes around 30 minutes. This habit is small enough to ensure that I continue, and stick to it every day, and it is big enough to ensure that the output is worthwhile. Obviously, there is nothing to say that I am not allowed to write more than 300 words, but 300 words is the minimum.

What I’ve found is that writing this little bit every day is more than manageable. Most days I go over, and I’d say that I usually average between 750-1250 words per day – let’s call it an average of 1000 words per day to ease the math. That’s 365.000 words per year. That’s around four full length non-fiction books, or three very long novels. Now obviously, not every single one of those 365.000 words are going to be superb, top notch quality, but I’d be surprised if at least some of it wasn’t at least halfway decent.

The point here is that all of us can be creative, and produce content for others which is worth consuming, if only we’d make it a habit, and I’d love to know more about you and your creative habits.

What are your thoughts on how to become more creative, create better content and getting into the habit of creativity?

 

 

This too shall pass

Sometimes life gets in our face. Sometimes we have to face up to a challenge not of our own making. Sometimes we have to battle discomfort, disease and adversity. That’s how it goes, and we all have battles to fight from time to time. Your battle might feel insurmountable, but I’m here to tell you that even the hardest battles can be won. Even the hardest opponents can be conquered. But sometimes they can’t. And that’s okay too.

The Stoics have a saying: “Memento Mori” remember that you are mortal. Remember that you will die eventually. This means that there are very few things which we should take gravely serious, and when our time has come, the best thing we can do is to accept it with grace, and become like the ripe olive which drops from the tree after a long and satisfying life in the sun in the words of the great emperor and stoic Marcus Aurelius.

The point of this short essay is simply to remind you that whatever you are facing in the moment, keep in mind that this too shall pass. The very nature of life is transitory – nothing lasts forever. Don’t grasp on to things which are bound to pass or wish for things to pass faster than is their nature. Don’t wish for things to be what they are not.

Let things happen as they must, and be fully in the moment while it lasts. This way you can enjoy the moment, and gain strength for the battles you must face.