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A few of the most important things I’ve learned in the past year are:

1. Cultivate a relationship where all feelings can be expressed openly, especially if they’re tough to hear.

2. Make your appreciation clear frequently by both your words and your actions.

3. Be respectful in disagreements by clearly stating that you are feeling like you might say things you don’t mean and by establishing appropriate ground rules. For us, it’s that neither of us are allowed to hang up, leave, or ask the other person to leave out of anger.

4. Don’t be afraid to walk away, and allow things to simmer down.

5. It’s basic but fundamental: listening, perspective-taking, and compromise are crucial.

Growing comfortable with silence will make you a better person.

It conveys a sense of sureness.

And it makes the words you finally choose to speak have more weight.

They say more than hello in the morning.

They:

  • Deliver cookies when something happens;
  • Ask you how your day was; and
  • See if you need help with anything.

Small acts of kindness in our immediate communities contribute greatly to long-term happiness.

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.