Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ye Old *Heroes of Capitalism*

Aw man, I can't believe I had forgotten about the blog Heroes of Capitalism for so long! It's been dead for years, but it's archives are full of examples of great men who have moved the world and made it what it is today.

One of my favorite reading hobbies is to read the biographies of great men. For me, there's no greater source of inspiration than to read actual examples that do exist in this world, for it makes fully real just what's possible in this world, and makes you want to chase after it, too. Most surely this blog will serve as decent fodder to help you itch for a biography or two.

My favorite entry is about Jamie Hyneman. The incredible intellectual breadth and depths of the Mythbusters has always impressed me, so I've always been intrigued as to their histories. I'd *really* like to know their learning style.

Don't forget to send me leads on inspirational stuff like this.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Darker Root of Craving Greatness

Now, you know this blog is dedicated to the many aspects of optimizing yourself from many different angles, from specific self-improvement practices to avoiding certain pitfalls, or how to deal with external things such as hostile people. One thing I've seldom shared, however, is the darker aspect to the motivation I have to the subject. As a rule I don't think it's usually well to determine to improve yourself purely to avoid negative consequences, but witnessing and tasting what they're like offers a provocative contrast to drive you from that direction.

The reason why this blog is called *A Giant Doing* is because it focuses on the substance of the good thinking and practices that leads to one becoming a giant in whatever form, and the title is modeled after my favorite quote by Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone: "A giant is as a giant does." In fact, it's my favorite phrase, period.

It resonated deeply with me because the vast majority of the people I stayed around with in my youth were so focused on appearances ("a giant is as [it appears]") that they utterly sacrificed the substance of, well, everything. People were more concerned in casting the right images to other people than of those images actually fitting reality.

For instance, two people may be in a horrible, miserable relationships with each other, but out in public try to present themselves as people who get along and truly value each other. In sight of others they try to make it look like they have a good relationship, when in private it's absolute hell and misery neither of them chooses to quit.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Youthful Idealism, Uninterrupted

One thing I've often mentioned being disappointed in is how I'm not as ambitious or intellectually rigorous as I was during my teenage years, when I was first forming my ideology and intensively honing it. Nowadays I think I'm doing better to actually rekindle that old fire -- and keep it aflame, now that I know what gives rise to it -- and it spawns some thoughts on the phenomenon of youthful idealism.

It's well-known that at certain ages there a screaming intense ambition in youthful people to take ideas incredibly seriously and to work ultra-hard at practicing them properly, an energy level and seriousness that's usually unmatched in the rest of the person's life, and generally out of place with the enthusiasm of the culture as a whole. It's a precious and delightful gift of youth that leads to rapid transformation and development, and, used the right way, can set one up well for life.

Sadly, however, that's also that bit about it wearing out as the person ages, and rather rapidly. They call it a spark since sparks are so fleeting: There's this flash of energy and brightness, which then fades to the typical lethargy and reserve usually seen at large. The most unfortunate thing is that people consider this a fact of aging, that this petering out is inevitable to everyone in some way or another, and that this supremely energetic state of youthful idealism cannot be maintained, making it a temporary state which cannot be used to carry over into the rest of life, for all of life. How sad to think that the gift of youth cannot be kept, and must be depleted before the mid-twenties.

However, I think it's bullcrap. When I introspect on what caused me to originally peter out my own spark I can observe directly responsible situations for dousing the flame, and I also know firsthand -- however tricky and difficult -- that it's possible to get back up into that magical zone, stay there, and take it even further beyond.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Restless Towards Happiness, or Seething Towards Ruin?

Ah yes, I'm still working on establishing that restlessness in me, in which one habituates one's emotions towards being engaged in purposeful activities, which sets you up in a position to always want to be engaged in activities that contribute to your long-term goals, instead of living for time off or weekends.

It's an intriguing and amazing thing that you can change yourself so that discipline practically becomes totally unnecessary in your life. Trying to cut down on confectionery? Engage in the right eating habits for long enough, then it'll actually be hard to indulge in it. Trying to make reading a habit? Work at it long enough and you'll find yourself working harder to make time for internet surfing than to open a book. And so on. If you can set up a positive self-reinforcing cycle in as many areas of your life as possible, then you're practically destined for success. Those that view good practices such as teaching yourself to be too hard, tiring, and disciplined simply haven't tried hard and long enough for their emotions to change and push them towards it.

At the same time, I've come to realize that we're really almost always caught in a self-reinforcing cycle of some kind in life. There's always something we're doing a lot of, some kind of routine we're emotionally attached to that draws us to do it over and over again, continually hardening the cycle through repetition. While it's ideal to set up those cycles in activities and routines that contribute the most to life, such as exercising or work, it's possible (and true for everyone) that those cycles can exist in less than ideal prospects, routines that cause us to stagnate or worse.

Which brings us to the darker side of the equation, which we must be careful to shed light upon let we get caught for years (or a lifetime) in its emotional trappings. The worst cycle is the vicious cycle.

For some reason it's been popping up in my mind as of late those people who intentionally make their trucks and motorcycles outrageously loud, loud enough to vibrate the floor as they drive by. It's not uncommon in my neighborhood for them to drive by late at night. That can't possibly be an accident; they're absolutely doing this on purpose to agitate other people, a kind of "F you!" mentality.

This also reminds me of other people with similar minds. A coworker in a restaurant I used to work with would sing loudly and at length for hours, much to everyone's disapproval and annoyance, and yet still complain about the injustices committed against him. A different guy in that same workplace used to go to distances to bully me and then act infuriated whenever I informed management of his misdoings. These and other people share that common trait where they make a habit out of lashing out at and aggravating people for their own internal frustrations, and yet at the same time they focus only on their own sense of pain and injustice.

These people are caught up in a vicious cycle where their thinking habits are set to focus on painful events and themes that have happened to them in their lifetime, and left unchecked they're frequently in a state of frustration, regularly in temptation to lash out at others to relieve themselves. The relief never comes in any specific action, and all they do is invite endless more frustration upon themselves, for in refusing to recognize they're attacking innocent individuals they always invite the hand of justice upon them. The coworker who sings loudly is perpetually indignant at how little people care about his feelings or income level. The workplace bully is forever seething at people for retaliating against him and never apologizing for imaginary slights.

While these people may seem like a different category of people -- those unintelligent thugs that damage their own lives, and then blame others -- they pose a warning of a risk to all of us. When we're dealing with personal pain it can tempt us to very unhealthy thinking and desired modes of action, and not being aware of the pitfalls can get us stuck in a cycle of self-reinforcing pain, where we give into the temptations out of frustration only to find more and more painful consequences because of it.

Looking at the picture from a different angle, consider the position of a self-destructive family member. A person I know about has lived their life with extreme irrationality, leaving them rife with emotional problems, and yet in the effort to satisfy their emotional cravings from the angle of what the cravings tempt them to, things only get worse. They panic about money issues, which has become an issue due to frequently taking time off from work due to "distraught." They wail about how their adult children won't pay much attention to them, even though they're constantly ignoring their needs and demanding them to comfort them for their own irrational behavior, which has harmed them. They push yet more and more people away by blowing up insignificant issues into conflicts, refusing to communicate rationally, and, most importantly, always caving into their emotions. They're very probably going to die unhappy since they're known for giving in to the temptation to dig the hole deeper (while panicking about how deep the hole is).

The great danger is that emotions can really tie us up here. Our mind may recognize that we shouldn't be doing what we're doing, but our moods and emotions, especially at their extremes, may persuade us into "feeling" a behavior is "practical" and we commit it, only to stir up worse emotions once we witness the consequences or else distort how other people respond to us.

It "feels" practical to sing loudly to show how much we don't care about other people's perceptions, and it's an injustice for other people to get upset, to which we ought to do more singing towards. (Behavior > consequence that upsets them > more of that behavior that caused the consequence to begin with.) It "feels" practical to sabotage and physically threaten that person that has been "unjust," and if he doesn't accept the dealt punishment he deserves more. These people are emotionally inclined to behaviors that worsen their emotional pains, leading them down a bottomless spiral that won't end until they're mentally destroyed, dead, or wake up and get out of it.

It is shockingly amazing how people can lack self-awareness. Yet, it can exist to that extreme. Instead of setting themselves up for happiness they've set themselves up for a life of endless disappointment, ruined relationships, unachieved goals, anger, "injustice." Worse yet, they set themselves up emotionally to crave the behavior that brings about that destruction.

I'm sure there's a middle-ground cycle in which one neither excels nor goes downhill, but I'm not sure how to identify it as anything other than a sense of perpetual discomfort, knowing you're not doing the best and at the same time you have uncomfortable vices, leading to a shaky mode of switching between virtue and vice to strike a balance. But overall, we want this cycle to go to the extremes, to the positive direction.

So what to do if we may face the consequence of being extreme in the other direction, of constantly desiring to do things that are harmful to us? Well, that's too multifaceted for one article. Generalized, it's about controlling the causes of your emotions and controlling your behavior as a corollary in the best way possible. To that, all I can say is examine my article in all the books I recommend for mental health and see which ones suit you best.

Realize, regardless, that combating the sordid extreme will take effort no matter what, that no matter which practices you adopt to make it as easy as possible there's always going to be an element of difficulty in it. Don't do endless researching in hopes for that one method that will make it as easy as possible; uncomfortable exertion is required no matter what.

Also, the first step is always to understand how our behaviors and thinking bring about the end results of our lives, and that external circumstances actually play a minuscule role: It's more important how we react to outside circumstances. The people stuck in extremes such as that singer and bully ignore the fact they're acting out against people ignorant of and uninvolved in their problems, so they're continuously attacking people with these feelings that they're somehow a part of this painful theme of their lives, which does nothing but make for a self-fulfilling prophecy for them to continue staying angry about.

It's always hard to move from vice to having a life filled with success-making habits and attitudes, but once you get to that spot, become a puritan about potential pitfalls, and know how to navigate the obstacles (such as other people), and you could be set for life.

Before then, however, forming habits requires much conscious efforts, and the willingness to fight the urges of those already existing.   

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who Do You Give the House Keys of Your Soul To?

I am increasingly intrigued with my metaphor of concentration as like building a shelter. It's interesting what thoughts can occur to us in a microsecond and nonetheless leave us thinking for hours. The whole building analogy may be an unintentionally accurate way to display the way the mind works.
Created by Linuxerist at Wikipedia Commons
While I've still got a long ways to go in practicing Immersive Concentration my hopes for it are going up. It shows more and more promise, and in thinking about its potential logic it makes more and more sense. Let's back up a bit and examine why.

Basically, there are two sections of your mind: Your conscious mind and your subconscious. Your conscious mind is your immediate awareness, the thoughts you're having right now and what you're current observing, and your subconscious consists of your internal programming. The subconscious gets programmed by the kind of thoughts you have, and that in response generate your emotions and habitual responses to certain things in immeasurable speed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Leaning On What's Always There, Your Own Power

Some off the cuff thoughts on power, personal power. These are the times that try me, and last night I've had some particular thoughts on how I'm maintaining my own individual power.

As much as I wish things would get better, wishing doesn't make it so. My car has an interesting penchant of developing significant mechanical problems at the worst time problem – a very precise correlation – and now it's developed a coolant problem that prevents me from even driving to the plasma donation place. Luckily I can walk to my highest paying job, but in examining a turbulent schedule, I've quickly learned how risky it is to depend on other people, as my hours appear to be on a roller coaster. Plus, I can't even get to my second job right now.

The most difficult element, honestly, is not the problems themselves, but the utter loneliness in them. It reminds me of when I first left my hotel job back in December of last year: It was excruciatingly painful, and the center point of that pain was that I lost a dozen or more friendships in one fell swoop. I had no committed a huge injustice to be exactly deserving of that, but to receive it anyways was an incredible shock, and it feels like losing in that game of trust where you're supposed to fall back into somebody's arms, to instead land on a bed of little rocks. No serious injuries, but a big shock when you aren't prepared for it.

I do not exempt myself from morally judging myself, and do not consider these external circumstances happening outside of my power. Some of it is poor luck, perhaps, but in scrutinizing myself I see my own hand – lack of hand, precisely – in letting the weeds grow. In getting such a painful shock I've been doing an awful lot of waiting for other people. Not necessarily to cure my problems for me, but at least to offer some encouragement. That's the biggest spiritual hunger: To at least to recognized as a value, and to be given a pat on the back.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Does Immersive, Purposeful Concentration Lead to Transformation?

I'm contemplating what may be an important cognitive hypothesis: Immersing yourself in frequent, long-sustained bouts of concentration in purposeful activities may the deepest, most effective, most important way to change yourself in the most substantial manner.

My current obsession, natch, is with Robert Greene's Mastery, and part of it reminded me of my old days when I first dropped out of college to become an autodidact. A question that never occurred to me to ask before is: How did I change so rapidly within a short few weeks? At start my emotions were weak and my concentration was a wreck, and in just a month or so, perhaps less, I got myself to the point that I wanted to study all the time and was extremely passionate about pressing myself in all manners of self-improvement. It wasn't just youthful idealism; some sort of process was there.

In thinking of it, concentration seems to be the fundamental factor. From the start of that venture my goal was to literally try and study all day, most everyday, from waking to sleeping, or else to always keep myself involved in some sort of self-improvement. It was very rigorous and intensive. When I first began I couldn't concentrate for more than twenty minutes, but within a few weeks I could get myself up to endless hours.

I think the effect of this concentration is that it gave me absolute control over my subconscious, and by being able to alter its contents at will I was infinitely empowered to bring forth the best premises possible. I wanted to study all the time, was serious in cooking practice, disciplined in my diet, always simmering some ideas in my mind, and so forth.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Restlessness a Cornerstone Trait

On a regular basis, whether in starting or going through a self-improvement venture, it always strikes me as to how my mindset changes during and after the process, making it astoundingly clear what great powers are so quickly in reach, yet put off for days, months, years, or an entire lifetime, just because a brief struggle, sometimes that of mere minutes. Highlighting these differences works to motivate me well in thinking how petty my resistance is, in that so rapidly I could be on the highway to my optimal self instead of trudging around in the ditch as I am now.

Last time, for instance, I mentioned that establishing certain fundamental skills can sometimes literally take only a few minutes. When my ability to focus was a wreck it took an aggravating effort to sit down and concentrate for a scant twenty minutes, and the end of the effort actually left me with a headache and exhaustion. It was disheartening. However, upon sleeping I awoke to find myself with new powers: I could concentrate much more easily and for far longer, and if I allowed myself to hit the wall again the new powers I woke up with would be further increased.

What's so interesting about this is that countless people are likely giving up on cultivating the fundamental cognitive skill of concentration, going an entire lifetime without a strong sense of it, which can damage them everywhere from their intelligence to their financial well-being. (If you can't remove your focus on internet surfing, you can't focus on making and saving money.) Yet, what does it take to get the ball rolling, to make a huge leap in progress and make the process tons easier? A sincere attempt of about twenty to thirty minutes, and it's that twenty to thirty minutes that many people evade for a lifetime.

In other words, any suffering we have to go through to improve ourselves is ultimately short-lived, and evidence of this can be seen in many spots, such as how a brutal twenty minute workout can vastly improve your health in such a brief time frame. That intense discomfort, however, frightens us, pushes us off track, tempts us to procrastination . . . and it's all so silly since the discomfort is so short-lived.

The new thing making me feel stronger in the face of self-improvement is the great emotional picture painted of masters in Robert Greene's book Mastery, which I just finished. (And am totally blown away by. It may be one of the best books I've ever read in my life.) Reading the brief biographical details reminded me of my period of life when I first dropped out of college to become an autodidact, and the peculiar mindset I managed to establish.

Improving myself to develop scholarly and studious habits were agonizing during those first few weeks. As mentioned above, simple things such as concentrating were exceedingly difficult, and it disheartened me that while I had the lofty goal of studying literally all day, I couldn't exercise my mind for more than twenty minutes at start. Though, of course, as explained, challenging myself led to quick improvements that put me on a course of rapid progress.

The most interesting thing that resulted of this after a few weeks is that eventually my emotions started shifting in a vast ways. While my mind utterly bucked at first at being commanded to study grammar, I eventually developed a craving for my studies, felt bored and pained by my previous distractions, and my brain literally felt like an empty stomach that needed to be fed. My thinking habits drastically changed where, more and more, I had to intensify my mental and intellectual habits to be satisfied, and even little things such as watching my favorite television shows became intense intellectual engagements. If I talked to people who couldn't dig deeply into a particular topic, instead being scatterbrained and frequently shifting, I would literally get a headache and experience dizziness, and would have to shut them out to deeply contemplate what they would refuse to talk about for more than a few seconds.

In summary, after agonizing to make myself do things I judged good for myself, I eventually wanted to do those things, and in a way that was almost impulsive. The desire to read, think, and write was powerful. My mind had to be powerfully churning away at something for me to be content and comfortable, otherwise I would literally experience physical pain. What I once had to push myself to do then became something I simply had to do as if I were possessed by demons, helpful demons casting a siren call towards heaven.

Such momentum is a milestone in one's self-advancement. Once hit, it actually becomes very difficult to engage in vice; the once-temptation turns into resistance. As a health example, it was one nearly impossible for me to eat a full bar of my favorite dark chocolate: I had so strongly habituated the health habit of eating only half and saving the rest that it actually took an effort for me to eat the whole thing at once. I was just so naturally inclined, after practicing and practicing, to do the healthy thing. When this milestone is hit in other or all facets of one's life it's like one's speed towards success is massively accelerated, for the need for discipline practically becomes irrelevant as all your natural desires push you towards the right habits, and it becomes emotionally hard and even painful to dare taste vice.

Accordingly, in addition to how quickly we can begin gelling certain habits as concentration, we ought to use the visual of being magnetically attracted to our new routines, habits, and practices as a motivator to keep in perspective that all the emotional resistance and unhelpful temptations we experience now will soon fall away, and in the new mindset it will actually be very hard to remember the old self we had, where we may have been tempted to habits of idleness and the like. So soon can be made that virtue is all we want.

I thoroughly appreciate Greene's book for reminding me what a powerfully helpful mindset I had established back then. While I'm gradually climbing back up to that, unfortunately I lost that “god mode” because I became immersed in some personal problems with other people at the time, which took years to resolve and from which I'm still recovering.

The additional thing this points out to me is that I was likely overcomplicating things when I laid out such practices as Deliberate Thinking. The notion is general is good on paper, but the practice itself is so astonishingly difficult it's hard not to give up, for it runs against the grain of one's natural thinking habits – in a certain state – so powerfully. The better alternative is to do things such as study, read good books, and lead an intellectually directed life that involves frequent use of concentration, and the natural tendency to Deliberately Think will just come as a consequence. Without forcing yourself to, you'll eventually just want to think all the time, and things such as looking up cat memes on the internet will feel horrifically boring. The grammar book/math article/science journal calls your name.

The requirement of developing this extravagantly helpful restlessness -- this being possessed by demons prodding you, in every strain of your emotions, to be continually immersed in goals – is to concentrate and frequently work on your goals. The more of your daily routine consumed by goal-directed and focused action the better, and entire days – literally entire days – spent in intensely attentive action is ideal. Resistance will be strong at first, but then weaker, and weaker still, and then less than a memory: Then you'll come, in just a matter of weeks, out a brand-new person, with this emotional impetus to continuously and always be immersed in constructive action.

Thus, I shall not give up. I once again will restore restlessness into my character. With that as a cornerstone trait you cannot fail.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

More of the Author's Whereabouts, and Shifting Winds Continued

Hey! I'm still around these parts. My writing habits have dissolved, but neither have my problems as of late. Overall, it remains frustrating to me that approximately a quarter of my 2013 has been spent in this unstable condition, distracting my focus from higher goals just to take care of the basics.

Someday . . . oh someday I promise! . . . I shall return as your regular provider of words, and we shan't be talking about these issues anymore! Yet, for now, the article ideas are continuing to simmer and reduce on the back burner while I tend to other matters, and for now I leave you with yet another update.

It's disappointing, but as of now there still seems to be no definitive end to my difficulties as of present. I really had hoped to be in a new apartment by now and over these big frights, but now it's looking like it may be yet another month until that point is reached, and until then I remain intellectually distracted. People have been very, very good to me -- the people who donated charity, the patient landlord, the polite collectors -- and I feel like a louse to have accepted all this help since I haven't been able to so quickly repay it. I never imagined my life would take the turn of those who report hiding in their room from knocking and demanding landlords, calling for the late rent payment, minus the knocking on my part.

At this point, however, it still remains a matter of time. With my two jobs my income remains far better, and with my new place gradually recognizing my productive worth the hours are steadily increasing. However, the confounding factor is that there remains some scheduling conflicts between the new place and the other job, which prevents me from immediately taking advantage of the higher wages, much to my setback.

Mentally, I've been very strange lately. I don't know why, but all of the sudden I've become more anxious than usual and prone to panic attacks even, along with odd swings to optimism about how I can take care of myself in this condition. Perhaps it's an isolated point of frustration in how my plans have gone awry, and how I feel I've let my helpers down. Meditation has been failing to soothe those moments, and damn Texas climate for making it so hard to take quick ice baths, a great therapeutic comfort.

At this point, homelessness continues to be a worry. While I haven't made arrangements, I can't figure out at this time how I'll be able to transition from this apartment to the next without being homeless for at least two weeks. The late fees incurred at my current apartment are going to gobble up the majority, if not all, of my massive deposit, and -- if I don't get evicted -- I don't see how I'll have the money for rent plus another deposit for the new place, no matter how much cheaper. Though, admittedly, I've been doing much procrastination on actually crunching the financial numbers to be justified in making such a prediction. It's one of those things that could go better than expected.

But even if that does happen, it's not like I'll starve and freeze in this kind of city and climate. This is an area where I definitely need to shift my thinking habits towards that of a man capable of changing and taking care of himself. It's where I allow anxiety to exists that throws my behavior so awry in what is an otherwise tolerable situation.

Oh, won't it be bliss to be in a new apartment with lower rent, having paid off my donors and collected debts, and to once again spend time with you? However harsh, I still find myself appreciative of what a massively helpful learning experience this is all been. My foolishness cost me my hotel job in December due to my own irrational resentment, and now I find myself far more emotionally tolerant to dish-washing positions in having understood just what a hefty role one's attitude plays in getting ahead. Yes, I myself have committed the Vegeta Mistake, and paid for it.

No, it is not desirable, of course, for everyone to go through such painful experiences to learn, but if you're in one you better learn quick and keep clean from then on! And, ah yes, in this free society, be wise and learn from other people's mistakes so that you don't have to commit them yourself.

Beyond these troubles, I continue to be surprised as to how my psychology seems to be changing in terms of my long-range goals. For so many years now it seems that I've wanted to become a chef, but, while certain culinary aspects remained, my daydreams have been changing. Nowadays I visualize myself in a cabin in the mountains -- perhaps in Colorado -- deep into a rural area with lush vegetation surrounding, much of it my own decorative and food horticulture, with me inside the house, twisting sausages in my chutcuterie practices and plenty of PEMMICAN in the cupboard.

Self-employment is becoming more and more appetizing because I'd like the endless time to tend to self-improvement and alone time for recharging, and to get the direct feedback and rewards from costumers themselves without a boss intermediary. Plus, there's that other fantasy of getting trapped in the cabin by snow, it being a peaceful situation since self-employment means no set schedule to be anywhere, and there's all that chucuterie and pemmican to live off of don't forget.

As for the actual self-employment aspect, writing seems to be the key. It's amazing I've gone all these years discounting writing, but it seems I'm making a full-circle back to that consideration. I enjoy it, have been doing it regularly for nearly a decade now, want to get better, and intend it to be a part of my profession even if it isn't directly writing itself. As to what to write about exactly remains a further consideration.

First, of course, I've got to get myself out of the crap I'm in or else those lofty fantasies will remain lofty fantasies. In the immediate term, my goals shall be to get out of this darned expensive apartment into a darn cheaper one, pay off my gracious donors, pay off my overdue debts, and then, most likely, quit one of my jobs so that I can live off basic survival pay while I spend increased free-time in cultivating my self-employment.

To keep myself mentally straight I've got to work far harder, definitely, on habituating better thinking patterns and giving myself something always to concentrate on, otherwise the distractions of anxiety and being aware of my problems throws off near-totally my efforts to heal the situation. Distancing yourself from your problems mentally is the key to healthy focus on constructive remedies.

Once this is all over -- unless I can reestablish a practice in the meantime -- blogging remains sporadic. 'Ve got to tend to the dangers, first.

Sorry, once again.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Is It Ever Too Late?

Ah HA! It has been pestering me for months to find this video. I missed the opportunity to post it when it was still viral, but here it is; a lot of people reported actually shedding tears in watching it.

A man with a damaged spine gives up on physical fitness after war injuries put him on crutches and wheel chairs. Doctors told him he'd never walk again, he believed it, he gave up, and let himself go for fifteen years. That's quite a bit of life to wile away.

Then: He decided to try again. See the results:

As I've said before, this is the kind of stuff and people in life that you really need to pay attention to, for there is no more concrete proof of just what greatness and happiness is possible in this world that those who give full demonstrations. When you keep those demonstrations in mind, it's an immense source of spiritual fuel. You don't need fictional tales of superheroes when you have such real-life embodiments.

Plus, this is further demonstration of some other points. For instance, he let his body go for over fifteen years, and in just a scant ten months regained his ability to walk and lost 100 pounds. That goes to show that, even when we succumb to vice and idleness for decades, intense effort and dedication to lead to impressive and rapid results, if you're serious.

Don't give up on happiness, no matter how old you are. An ideal self . . . could be just around the corner, if you chase it hard enough. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Being a 21st Century Puritan

Truthfully, these past days have been very off and disappointing to me. But, here I am not to complain; rather, to offer a quick lesson derived: When you discover the conditions that give rise to your best moods and optimal performance and the factors that hinder them, it's best to be near-religious in protecting those routines and guarding against the follies.

For me, as of late I've been having lots of problems with caffeine intolerance. You all probably know that I love dark chocolate, and for the time being it seems that my body is developing a sensitivity to it, where I can't eat even a half-bar every day. Even if I eat a half at 8AM it's still going to wreck my sleep that night, and a wrecked sleep really changes the winds of my entire day.

Fasted upon that item, however, then the blood in my head feels cold and refreshing, I'm enthusiastic upon waking, and utterly clear-headed. While I intend to be a chocolate connoisseur all my life, it's something I've got to watch if I want to maximize my cognitive powers as much as I've set myself out to.

The risk in obtaining these healthier states of well-being is that our memories can be altered so that the discomfort of what we resolved to avoid won't feel so real anymore. The leg cramps, depressed moods, and awful sleep of sugar overdose and caffeine sensitivity feel intangible, so in that healthier state it feels okay to indulge a little more in that old habit since, after all, I'm all healed up and more tolerant, right? A little won't hurt.

And then: A little hurts. Quickly there's a habit relapse, along with the leg cramps, depressed moods, and awful sleep. The same logic applies to absolutely any denigrating habit, such as surfing the web. At times when I thought I cleared myself of that habit, it feels "okay" to try out the old habit "for fun" since I won't be prone to cycling in it as I once did . . . which leads back into cycling in it as I once did.

As such, when you've healed yourself of something deleterious to your self-progress, be puritan about protecting those conditions, resolving not to have "just a taste" of habits you've worked so hard to discard. It's Pandora's Box, absolutely.

Though, exact strategies for protecting again relapse aren't clear to me at the moment. For chocolate, for instance, I intend to abstain from it for several day if not weeks to get it out of my system, and then, perhaps, I might write down the days I dare indulge in it. That may seem like overdoing it, but when we're talking about optimal performance for an optimal life of optimal happiness, no measure is too overdone to be worthwhile in that regard.

For now, don't indulge in parts of yourself you're trying to leave behind. Not even a little bit.