Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Friends Help Friends With Invisible Aesthetics

Invisible Man Living Statue by Georges "JoJan" JansooneA long while ago I complained about having "Factor X," which was a set of some kind of attributes that I thought had an unfortunate impact on my life, and that I needed to resolve in order to get moving on ahead.

Factor X turned out to be two things: An accent and angry "resting face." I have an accent because my hearing-impairment causes me to interpret phonetics differently, which affects my speech, and for whatever physical reasons I also have an unintentionally mean and intense looking face (or, at least, a lot of people interpret it that way).

Factor X made me fret since I thought that it would be far more a struggle than necessary to maintain good human relationships since a lot of people tend to notice these features and misinterpret them wildly every which way. Some may interpret my accent as a sign of mental disability and underestimate me, or another may interpret it as a sign of intelligence . . . ironically . . . and then get offended, thereon displaying their vocabulary and foreign languages to "get" at me. The intense face, on the other hand, can frighten people into thinking they're about to get into a confrontation, and I've been surprised by all sorts of defensive mannerisms, such as instantaneous yelling, when trying to engage in friendly conversation.

I've come to terms that while I can do some things to treat Factor X, I ought to make peace with it by and large, for the misinterpretations of these features are mistakes belonging to other people, and it's worrying too much about what other people think to dedicate so much attention to solving these. A good life with great friends is still possible regardless, so I oughtn't fret so much.

Anyhow, the one thing I figured out is that Factor X has a much better term available: I would call these Invisible Aesthetics. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Experimental Recipe for Creating Passion

Uh-oh, I have to admit that in my present stage of life, I'm lost as to what to do, or what to dedicate myself to. In trying to choose my next major endeavor, my ideas are rather dry.

These past several years I wanted to become a chef who owned his own restaurant (and beyond), much to the caliber of the still-living legends of Grant Achatz of Charlie Trotter, but such a dream has faded. My interests in the culinary arts will probably remain strong for the rest of my life – for the love of cheese, charcuterie, and pemmican! – so I just no longer have the interest in the particular vein of becoming a chef-owner of a restaurant. I've hit a dead-end since I lacked the knowledge that working one's way up from the dish-pit is a impractical route, for too many employers have the perverse incentive to keep you there, so I'm going to have to pursue my culinary interests and education by another route.

That urges me to reopen the thinking topic as to what the ingredients to passion actually are, that fierce set of emotions that throw you into a career or set of careers your whole life, driving you to work harder and longer than anyone of weaker interest could ever make themselves. Having passion is one of the things that make life worth living, for it consists of deep, rich, and consistent emotions that make life worthwhile, and its experience gives one that sense of certainty that one's chosen pursuits are the right ones to be dedicating time to, other options not worth worrying about.

I think it's a huge fallacy that so many people giving advice on choosing a career focus on cycling through options to choose what's most suitable. It neglects the first essential step of actually enabling one to emotionally experience passion in the first place, thus putting the horse behind the carriage. Without nurturing a emotional capacity that can generate passion, choosing a path in life one can feel certain and fulfilled in is impossible, so any cycling through options is hopeless guesswork.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Usual Birthday Introspection

Ah, so today is my 25th birthday! That means I'm literally a quarter of a century years old now . . . quarter of a century! Multiply by two, and I'm fifty! It's not disturbing to think in that way, but how odd my age looks applying the math like this. 

As always, one's birthday tends to force an introspection about life. I think I know why some people hate their birthdays rather than relish them: It's near unavoidable to thinking about how your life measures up to your standards now that the digits have changed, whether one is reaching important standards up to this point, or is failing to make the grade. Perhaps that's why we have their weird social norm that it's impolite to ask a lady her age; due to that awkward "forced" introspection. 

Picking at myself, I admit my own birthday is lukewarm. I've come a long way, yet there's still further to go. 

Primarily, I need to stop being hard on myself and focus on the steps on the paths I need to take, rather than scolding myself so harshly for my errs.  It disappoints me that I, as an author of a self-improvement blog, can't claim the credit of having an overall set of good habits, to display my array of successes and up my credibility, but that's okay. Self-improvement is a process. I speak from prior successful experience, and submit myself to the process of bringing myself up all over again. 

My particular point of disappointment is that despite having lived in Texas for three years now, I have yet to fully restore the fierce ambition, determination, and emotional healing that I managed in Michigan, before I wore down from the stress of being trapped in an unhealthy familial relationship. Progress has been lumpy, from highs of being a man of indefatigable productivity and intellect, to lows of losing a great job by walking out on it, a very painful incident. Oh! And procrastinating on autodidactism! For three years I have yet to fully rededicate myself to vigorous self-learning. 

Though, not all is lost. Nothing is lost, really. I just needed to learn more about the natures of the difficulties I struggled with, from stress management to dishonest people, and the pain I've endured to now will pay off -- if I exercise my freewill -- in a great wisdom of how to keep up traction in life. No more naivete slapping me in the face like a wet fish. It's been learned how to cope with stress, get bad people out of life, and so on; now's the time to put action into practice, to fully measure as a man. 

How shall I celebrate this day? Well, it's one of those typical days where you've still got your job and other things to tend to, so I suppose I'll do a belated celebration by visiting the arboretum in a few days, something I've been pining for all year! 

More importantly, what do I think my life can amount to from here on, for the rest of the portion of life I have yet to live? Lots, of course; no use in dwelling on the spilled milk of the past. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Praise of "Kids' Stuff"

One of my petty pet peeves are people who will dismiss something, such as an animated movie, because they believe it to be “kids' stuff,” something unbefitting for an adult intellect. They therefore then ignore it and won't partake in it.

This is an unfortunate mistake, for I believe a lot of things deemed kids' stuff is done so for fallacious reasons, and to dismiss them not only deprives one of a potential value that could contribute to the enjoyment of life, but also talks down to the creators who put a lot of thought and work into their creations.

As an example, I submit my own case, where I dismissed Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse comics and later got refuted, much to my pleasure.

Given the sterile image of golly-gee Mickey Mouse, I immediately dismissed the idea of being able to enjoy Mickey Mouse comics, the three-word combination of which sounds silly on its own. His popular image is that of such a goody-two shoes that he seems fit for either greeting cards, toddlers' education programs, and a caricature  to be laughed at.

When I first heard they were taking the effort to reprint the comics created by some guy Floyd Gottfredson, I dismissed it for months. . . but then one day I ran into one of his comic sequences *Island in the Sky*, printed in another comics anthology, and was surprised to be impressed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Momentum Protection

Photo by Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental ProtectionOne of the things I worry about the most is being able to maintain a good set of habits once I do get myself into a mode of quashing my major vices and maintaining consistent progress in any area.

Personally, I don't think achieving success and completing goals are that hard. What's truly hard is setting oneself up in a kind of habitual momentum that presses one towards progress regardless of setbacks and obstacles, and then the task maintaining that momentum. Once that momentum is set, some of the hardest things can become shockingly manageable. 

For instance, intense and slowly completed weight-lifting exercises. (Called “super slow.”) They're incredibly difficult because the slow speed of the individual exercises matched with the discipline of form make this exercise style one of the most uncomfortable styles out there, and on the far end of a set, right when one is running out of strength, a dramatic amount of willpower is needed to maintain the pace and form, to stick it out until the end instead of given into the immense urge to give up. It's very difficult to perform any such workout like this, especially to maintain such incredible exertion it as a consistent habit. 

However, I've noticed that when performing these workouts in a period when I've got good momentum going – when I'm doing well to tend to virtuous habits and avoid my vices – the strength of my character transforms how these workouts feel. On the far end of a set, the most uncomfortable portion, my mind is absent of temptation to give up and my determination to finish with a new record actually goes through the roof, as if to emotionally rebel against the discomfort. In this state of momentum, I have never performed better at such difficult exercise and succeeded so well, all without the support of a trainer, too. 

It's highly desirable, of course, for all of us to maintain this kind of mindset when it comes to approaching the affairs of life, for if we can make a habit of it, then we're pretty much guaranteed to gain success one way or another, for in essence we're making a habit out of chasing and gaining progress without having to exert willpower to push against internal resistance. 

Yet, the thing I fear is how to protect this thing? How do we strengthen ourselves against the unexpected things which may derail us? I myself have suffered multiple times being derailed from periods of ambition from things I couldn't grasp or foresee. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Applicable Significance of *Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde*

One thing I need to start reminding myself more of on a daily basis is the true metaphorical meaning of Steven Louis' tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for it surely applies well to my life right now, though not in the good vs evil way. Though, this is worth explaining in perhaps unanticipated ways.

I think the deeper meaning of this story is at large either too unknown or unacknowledged in today's culture, particularly because people may not have heard of the story from the author's own work. It gets reinterpreted across a vast array of mediums from plays to children's picture books, and some authors even rewrite the story in totality in their own words, further obfuscating its meaning as people may not even remember this story even had an originator. Louis' original writing is well-worth the read for its better understanding of human nature and how it ought to apply to daily living, especially since so many retelling of the story are frankly bastardized.

By and large, most understandings of the story either portray Dr. Jekyll as someone who split himself into good and evil personas, or else had some monster become born out of the potion he drank, but the former is inaccurate and the latter is false. Really, Dr. Jekyll was a man who had irrational desires, and by striving to satisfy those irrational desires without sacrificing his virtues and the good things he's earned, such as his prestige as a doctor or the respect of peers, he does end up sacrificing all that and literally destroying himself in the end.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Watch Your Language

At times I'll come across a thought or idea that I realized was one I held and acted upon in younger years, and with me further into adulthood I'll realize too that I had a wisdom back then in that belief, and that I shouldn't have deviated from it.

In this case, in contemplating my typical conversations I realized that it's probably very impractical for me to divide up my language habits between how I talk to people in real life in contrast to the language I use in my head, on paper, or in this input box right here, which you're reading. One example in isolation, for instance, is that I swear very, very rarely in *any* sort of writing I do . . . so why should I allow it in my head, or in to-face conversations?

There's nothing inherently wrong in dividing up one's language habits mind you; rather, my angle in this case is in consideration of maximizing one's rhetoric habits, or in my case trying to be the best I can be in writing, which is a great hobby and value to me.

The division goes beyond just swears; encompassing things too like slang, general vocabulary, the care in articulation, and so on. The point is, if I want to perfect my own individual voice in writing, one I can truly be satisfied with, then isn't it to my detriment to be so slangish in person and well-spoken on paper? I speak hardly at all the ways I write here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Morning Focus

A tidbit to chew on in regards to concentration.

Before I get to that, though, I’d like to mention that I have a lot of other public writing available on my Facebook page, where I explicitly track my self-improvement goals (other stuff). Follow that if you want to see another subsection of my writing.

Anyhow, it’s already been stated before that I’m quite keen on the benefits of strong concentration. To me, the benefits are just too fundamental and multi-faceted to be neglected, so I urge myself to make a lifelong commitment towards nurturing concentration through means such as minimizing distractions and doing meditation, as it’s a skill necessary for success.

A wrinkle in my life that I’ve been working on ironing out is the nature of my morning routines, for I, admittedly, tend to lollygag and whatnot too much in the morning, making a bad habit out of “playtime” that takes up too much of the day, resulting in late starts and diluted powers. A few days ago I noticed a rather interesting effect in an undeliberate change I made.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homelessness as a Potential Self-improvement Adventure

I find it awkward to talk about my homelessness since after mentioning it once I tend to assume it’s universal knowledge from then on, so it’s a bit weird reopening the topic to explain it to someone unknowing, but I suppose I ought to push through that awkwardness to relay this.

Although it’s not a desirable lifestyle, I do think utilizing homelessness is a valid self-improvement technique, which is essentially why I’m using it right now. I’m not forced into this position; I’m just so desirous to meet some financial goals that I’ve resorted to this to hurry up and get it done post-haste rather than solving my financial ailments at an agonizing pace.

As such, for those who may benefit, I’d like to relay to you what I’ve learned about the practical measures of this lifestyle.

First, why be homeless, and why become homeless voluntarily?