Surplus

This was inspired once again by Seth Godin’s blog.

If you woke up this morning in a comfy bed wrapped in warm blankets; if stepped out of a hot shower and wiped steam of the mirror to brush your teeth; if you walked into the kitchen and put together a hearty breakfast; if you got if your car and drove to work today you are living in surplus. And that’s not bad, in fact that’s great! I’m not here to make anyone feel bad about that surplus, that privilege. I want to get you to think about what you are doing with it.

Personally I feel guilty cause I often waste it. I waste it on things that are temporary. It’s time to invest that surplus into something that will pay dividends.

 

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/10/what-will-you-do-with-your-surplus.html

Character

The way I see it character as it pertains to individuals is much like characters in fiction. There are static characters and there are dynamic characters. Static characters are don’t change, they are constant. When presented with a situation, task, or problem, they respond predictably throughout the story. Dynamic characters undergo development. They have experiences that change their behavior or motivation, often for the better.

Unlike in fiction, in reality we can choose whether we want to be a static character or a dynamic character. Our character development comes from our choices and our attitudes. We can choose to learn and gain something from our experiences, or we can choose to not to.

Joy vs Happiness

The book I am reading write now is called The Book of Joy. It’s more or less a record of what might be the last conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I’m still in the early stages of the book, but already I feel it has had an impact on me. Just reading about these two men and their own perspectives, their out attitudes, and outlook on life is really inspiring. The wisdom these two holy men exemplify transcends any religion, creed, nationality, or any other construct that divides people, and that was their/ the other’s intention in developing this book and this meeting.

One of the early themes they talk about is the difference between happiness and joy. Essentially they say that happiness is based on something external, why joy is based internally. And while the words may be somewhat arbitrary, I think this is a good distinction, and this is why joy is so important. One of the things it looks like they will talk about in depth, and a common question they received, was how can we be joyful in a world filled with so much suffering. They offered this, and I will probably butcher it, but I will resist going back into the book at this moment, that joy intensifies the human experience. Yes is allow to recognize that which contrasts joy, i.e. suffering, but paves the way for compassion, empathy, etc. In this sense joy, our internal pursuit of contentment counters apathy.

What I like about this book is that both the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop are also well read men who seem to know a lot about current events in science and other disciplines. They can recognize what science has to offer and make no attempt blindly to refute or challenge it.

My reading goal may increase.

Growth

It’s been a while. Have been feeling a bit down/ confused/ frustrated recently for various reasons. It’s nice being at work because I get to take my mind of things, I get to get outside of my head. That’s probably why people who do a lot of volunteer work or do other service oriented things, it helps them not think about their own problems. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Often times our own problems are petty or insignificant anyway.

All that being said I do think it’s important to think about where we as individuals need to grow and figure out how we plan on reforming ourselves. I want to take some time and space to lay out some of my current goals and areas for growth, mostly for myself. Maybe I should post this list some where public so there is some sort of accountability attached to it. As usual fear of vulnerability is what is holding me back.

Anyways here goes;

Goals

Learn Spanish – Right now I’m just using Duolingo, I want at some point start talking to Irene from my work because she mostly speaks Spanish and I feel bad that whenever she is cleaning on floor I am on that I can’t really talk to her. My tangible for this will be to maintain my streak on Duolingo for 1 week.

Study more – I’m going to need to get back into the swing of things in terms of studying since I will be retaking the MCAT next year. I want to try some new strategies and that may include creating my own study resources for others to use. Tangibles to come.

Read more – I have a bunch of books in my Amazon cart that I want to read. Though I also still have some books here at home that I need to check of my list. My tangible goal for now will be to read 20 pages a day. Doesn’t seem like that much, but I wanna start small at first so that I won’t get discouraged. If I feel like I can increase I will.

Write more – Simple, keep writing and posting here.

Run – This one I’m still on the fence about. I miss running and I want to start running in the mornings. My tangible would be to go on a 20 min run every morning, but of all my goals this will probably will be the hardest to fall into.

Less social media – I deleted FB, SC, and IG from my phone so I spend less time mindlessly scrolling. IG now I’m pretty inactive, I will open in in browser once in a while, but for the most part I stay away. FB is a different story, I still comment and stuff pretty frequently. SC reinstalled recently, but I deleted it just now. Once in a while I’ll miss it, but I often realize I don’t really like watching peoples stories and I don’t really need other people to know what I am doing, not that they care that much anyway (similar to my own apathy towards others’ stories).

Less League – Seven years later I am still playing, I enjoy playing but sometimes I play just to maintain my rank or even just cause I’m bored. But what does my rank matter. It doesn’t. I’m never gonna look back and think about my account as one of my crowning achievements and if  I do then I’ve clearly gone wrong somewhere along the way. I’ll probably keep playing till the end of the season, but after the season is over I try to cut back a lot, especially to make more room for studying.

Music – I’ve been wanting to get back into music for a while now. Whether that be picking up piano again or dusting of the ol’ saxophone. But like running, this is a tough one to get going because it’s been a while. Ideally my tangible for this would be 30 mins a day to start.

That’s it for my goals for now. Maybe I’ll share this with my friend and maybe he’ll share his with me and we can keep each other accountable.

Agency

At work the other day there was a dad at the museum with his two boys. The older boy was getting obviously upset over something, though I don’t know what. Dad pulled his son off the side to sit on one of the orange benches. I couldn’t here what he was saying, but I could see from the gesticulations of his tattooed arms and the expression on his bearded face that he was imparting some serious wisdom.

Finally I heard the dad say, “Alright stand up.” His son obeyed with reluctance. “And now I want you to say, ‘Self-control is my middle name!'”

“…self-control is my middle name…”

“Louder! Yell it!”

“Self-control is my middle name!” he repeated in a high-pitched scream, smiling through the dry tears on his face.

“Alright, but this time be serious; say it with confidence, like it’s coming from way deep inside you.”

“SELF-CONTROL IS MY MIDDLE NAME!” he boomed (as much as a 9ish year old could).

They shared a fist bump and a hug and then went off to another part of the museum.

Though I thought this was a little strange, at least it’s positive and sends the kid a good message. Self-control is something we often take for granted. Regardless of circumstance, regardless of what other people may think, regardless of any other external factors, we as individuals can control our response to any given situation. Whatever has led me up to this point now does not matter as much as what I choose to do going forward.

25 September 2017

Haven’t written for a couple days so I thought I should. Don’t really have a topic in mind today, just wanted to write something. It’s weird how our minds can get so fixated on certain things, especially irrational things.

Despite all the thoughts in my ahead, I am not writing much down. A lot of it is that I am trying to kind of filter what I publish for whatever reason. Sleepy.

TIAGF: My sibs, being the youngest, laughs

Showing you care

If you genuinely do, its not hard to do. And yet we often fail to do so, at least I know I do. Just that little bit of extra effort on our part can go a long way in terms of our day to day interactions. It costs us virtually nothing, so why do we so frequently neglect to show we care.

Caring makes us vulnerable and makes us invested; it indicates something about our ideals and our values and ours selves. If we show we care we once we are expected to always care.

It’s easier to be apathetic; you have no commitments, no expectations to uphold.

What’s interesting is that in the cartoons and TV shows I watched growing up, the “cool kids” were always the apathetic ones. They never seemed to care about anything. What’s attractive about apathy is that is also indicates that you don’t care about what other people think, and many people wish they could live like that.

Perhaps we believe their lives are exciting and that they do care about something, but the mundane no longer phases them. Or perhaps this analysis is completely off and this is a topic for a different time. But I think more often then not we do appreciate when someone cares.

Some of the most admired and revered people in history cared deeply about something. I think we are drawn to people with strong motivation and a strong adherence to their ideals and values. And we should, integrity is not an easy thing to maintain all the time.

TIAGF: Consciousness, speech, food

Unedited

Technology has done an interesting thing to us. It has allowed us to finally edit our lives to be suitable for presentation. Before we post that picture or before we send that text, we are able to carefully craft how others will view us.

A lot of technology has allowed us to deny certain parts of ourselves and to highlight others. When I interact with people in person I feel like I am my genuine self. I don’t have time to edit myself in a real-time conversation. When we use technology to edit who we are to other people are we being honest with them and with ourselves?

Yea I know this is kind of a tired topic, but I don’t think it makes it any less valid. Honesty is important, and it’s up to us to decide who is worth it.

TIAGF: My culture, my city, my country

So what, now what

This idea of “What, So What, Now What” has come up for me twice this past week in distinct ways. The first time was like a formal introduction where I heard about it for the first time on the TED Radio Hour on NPR. The podcast was about education and how we may try to rethink school. “So what, now what” was a saying of one of the speakers who reformed a school in an underserved community (I’ll link the whole thing below). The second time, which happened today was more of a tangential encounter.

This morning I participated in an improv class for this Informal Education Certification program I am in.  We did several exercises involving story telling and improvising (obviously). The instructor often would make little asides about how certain exercising or improv concepts connect to real life. One of the big ideas for improv was to always “say yes” to what another person gives you; no matter what direction you had envisioned in your head for the scene and no matter how frustrated you are with someone for not saying what you wanted them to say, you had to accept it and move on. This reminded me of “So what, now what”. Just like in life, things aren’t always going to go how I envision it, the best I can do is accept my current reality and choose what I want to do from there.

This has a lot to do with attitude. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Now what’s happened? So what am I gonna do about it… probably something dumb.

TIATF: My pups, my house, my education

http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/535044918/rethinking-school

Positive deviance

Just finished Better by Atul Gawande. It was a fun read full of some really interesting anecdotes. One of the things Gawande talks about is this idea of positive deviance which basically recognizes that there are uncommon cases of success that can be attributed to certain behaviors. If we want to improve ourselves or our community we should look for those positive deviants and find out what makes them successful. And I use the term “successful” to mean really and type of positive outcome.

If we want to become positive deviants ourselves, we need to do something that no one else is doing, to try a different way of doing things. This reminds me of a quote attributed to Alexander Graham Bell (I did a project on him back in high school), “An inventor looks upon the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world; he is haunted by an idea.”

Growing up I always wanted to be an inventor, then I realized how impractical that was. Though I don’t think any of the great inventors grew up wanting to be inventors, they simply had the mindset that A.G.B. described above. And I believe that’s the case for many contemporary positive deviants; they aren’t satisfied with the status quo, they see an opportunity for change and they make that change. Anyone can be an inventor, anyone can be a positive deviant; what separates the idea from reality is often times effort and tenacity.

TIATF: My job, metabolism, technology