Self-improvement

Sorry for posting so late in the day, friends. I hope I haven’t lost your trust much.

I got caught up with living, and I completely forgot to write!

I want to share something a bit more personal with you: the things that I’m working on to be a better person right now. I’m sharing it because I’d like for you to know more about me. But if you find them inspiring, that’s great! I have a note pinned to the home screen of my Android phone to remind me regularly of the habits I’m trying to adjust.

All of them need work, but I can tell I’m getting better at them a little bit each and every day.

They are:

  • No social media (Reddit, YouTube, and Facebook) – This is one that I am not even close to ironing out, but it’s something worth striving for. And I can tell I’ve gotten much better.
  • Be patient, no frustration – There’s almost never any reason to get frustrated or angry. This is something I’ve nearly completed. I slip up once every three months or so. I quickly catch myself, though, and take a step back.
  • Talk little about yourself, be positive – I think a lot of folks have a tendency to talk about themselves or talk about negative things. They say what they don’t like and criticize others. Talking less about yourself makes you a more interesting person to others and being positive is just a good thing to do. It makes for a happier life.
  • No meat – I’m a vegetarian. I choose to not eat meat because it’s better for my health and the planet. Also, so many animals get treated poorly, and it’s hard to be a mindful consumer by avoiding purchasing from unethical farmers. But I do eat fish occasionally, particularly on days when I haven’t been able to get enough protein consumption.
  • Listen actively – This goes along with talking little about myself. So often we listen to respond. By keeping an open mind and avoiding asking ourselves what we’ll say next while someone is talking, we’re enabled to connect more deeply.
  • Be confident, don’t care – I have a tendency to care too much about what others think. I think the coolest people and the best leaders are folks who are just themselves.
  • Everyone is hungry for hope and encouragement – This isn’t a habit, but it’s in the note. I list it to have a regular reminder that, despite the cynicism I might feel sometimes about the world, everyone is just getting by and is imperfect. It also reminds me of the importance of creating art that feeds that need instead of contributes to the starvation.
  • Get feedback – Asking for feedback from people you trust can be tough. It might cause you to hear some uncomfortable things. But frequent feedback (particularly of the bold sort) is necessary to live a well informed, good life.
  • Meet people where they’re at – I have a tendency to go off the deep end with folks. While chatting with acquaintances I might start talking about intrinsic goals, dreams, and philosophy. I have to remind myself that a lot of people don’t like talking about that stuff, so before I get into a deep conversation, I should try to see where they’re at in their life.
  • Self-care – Enough said. My happiness needs to come before all else. I regularly ask myself, “What does a perfect day look like?” And I try to do the activities I describe in the response to that question as often as possible.

There are other parts of my life I’m working on besides what’s listed. For example, striving for creative and territorial thinking over competitive and hierarchical thinking; being more romantic, friendly, and kind; and taking myself less seriously.

I probably shouldn’t be doing so much, but for some reason, I’m not satisfied doing less.

 

Western Civilization

Western Civilizations, 2009 – Brian Dettmer

It’s all fun and games,
Until someone grows up
Then come the anxiety, neurosis,
Man’s rivalries
We crave love.
Escape the pain
Through video games, drugs, and the LA dynasty;
It starts to feel like it’s not enough.
Hype beasts and iconography give rise
To champagne idolatry
Try to stay tough.

Self-will and good books
Overcome our Byzantine ivory
Scared they won’t accept us.

Those authorities, so sure,
Standing upon divers of mighty degrees –
Lending credibility
Ego fuels the corrupt.
The devil’s a good effigy to enforce our morality
Muster the force to speak up.

Or bury our greed and deplete our license with lies
It’s fine. It’s all right.
True, most of us just get by,
Craving comfort and love.

Art serves to shine a light on humankind;
It can unite or divide, destroy or inspire
Hacks trade what’s right to serve their own devices

There’s a thin line between connection and good service
When you’ve ignored the voice in your heart
And live in comfort despite those hurting,
Ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”

Yesterday, I wrote about how it’s hard to be reminded too much about the dangers of comparing ourselves and measuring our self-worth based on what we see on social media profiles.

Today, I’d like to build on that idea by additionally stating two things. The first is we are often interacting with someone’s front and, second, the people we see in the media usually aren’t real.

These masks and actors (who are often faked with plastic surgery and good publicists) can make us feel like who we are and what we have aren’t good enough. This is particularly dangerous for romantic relationships.

We might get caught up in the idea that someone out there will be perfect if only we’ll wait just a bit longer. Or, worse, we leave what we have when what we had actually was a really good thing.

The fact is no one is flawless. And even if you meet that dream person, it’s unlikely you’ll be complementary outside of your fantasies.

So I encourage you to be open to possibilities, and ultimately find someone who makes you a better version of yourself.

It seems like we used to do a lot more talking about how the grass only seems greener on the other side.

Maybe it’s overplayed.

But social media has made it so easy to compare yourself to others that it’s worth regular reminders.

Your self-worth, social standing, and reputation is absolutely unrelated to the amount of likes you get.

Spend your mental energy cultivating meaningful relationships.

It’ll pay much greater dividends in the long-term.

Search for different or competing perspectives.

It’s the only way you’ll grow, the only way you’ll learn.

The most innovative organizations strive for people to challenge the status quo.

Be the best. Seek conflict.

Columbia University has launched a program called the Open Syllabus Project that analyzed 6,000,000 college syllabi in the world to see what the most assigned books are.

They recently came out with an interactive visualization of it. Check out Open Culture to learn more.

The list is great because it opens a world for discovering books that experts have decided are worth exploring to ensure a well-informed citizenry.

Here are the top 10:

1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk

2. A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker

3. Calculus by James Stewart

4. Human Anatomy and Physiology by Elaine Nicpon Marieb

5. Republic by Plato

6. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

7. A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker

8. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

9. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

10. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

In 2009, two brothers – Dave and Mike Radparvar – sat on the steps of Union Square in New York City and wrote the following manifesto. They had just quit their jobs and decided they would venture into the fashion industry with zero experience, and they felt they needed a guiding light.

Today, their company Holstee shares a similar mission to my own, namely bringing more meaning and inspiration into people’s lives.

Holstee Manifesto

Here’s the plain text:

“This is your life.  Do what you love, and do it often.  If you don’t like your job, quit.  If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.  If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.  Stop over analyzing, life is simple.  All emotions are beautiful.  When you eat, appreciate every last bite.  Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.  Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.  Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.  Some opportunities only come once, seize them.  Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.  Life is short.  Live your dream and share your passion.”

And if you prefer it in video format, here that is as well: The Holstee Manifesto: Lifecycle Video.