Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello

Way back in the day, when I used to play guitar at church, I would take the hymns we were practicing and change the music. It's amazing to see how versatile some of these 300 year old lyrics really are. I'd change them up into country, jazz, and rock.  One of my favourites was turning Blessed Assurance into a 90's hip hop rap. Just imagine it.

Anyway, I came across Leo who does something similar with current songs. Here's Adele's Hello. I think it's better than the original.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Truth in Love

I have difficulty sharing the truth in a kind way. My default position tends to be rather blunt. Shotgun honesty. I'm working on it. The first phase of my recovery is just holding my tongue. Sometimes I don't need to correct someone. It just doesn't matter. If there is a major consequence as a result of someone doing something wrong based on a lie I will step in, but those situations are not nearly as common as I used to believe.

My guiding principle to sharing truth is giving everyone the benefit of the doubt that everyone wants to know the truth. Sometimes the truth contradicts what one wants to believe is true or contradicts one's feelings. Those are the areas I'm working at sharing the truth in a more loving manner. I try to treat people as though we are on the same team, with the same goal (the truth), rather than the opposition. The truth doesn't care about your feelings, but I do. I try to put myself in another person's shoes. What would it mean to my paradigm, my world view, my life, if I learned something I held as absolute was completely wrong?

Here's some examples from my life I'm currently mulling over.

A co-worker can't meet the type of guy she wants to end up with. She's fat. She asked what do guys want. The harsh reality is that guys don't want to be with a fat girl. They aren't attractive. If a guy is not attracted to you, you can have all the "personality" in the world and it doesn't matter. That's the truth. Get over it. If she were to lose weight she would have a much larger pool of guys to draw from with lot more quality guys in the pool.

A friend has started a business. It's a recreational business that few would be interested in other than a specific niche. Unfortunately its also quite easy to do at home without having to buy a lot of expensive materials. In my opinion its a very bad business idea. I think it will fold in under a year, after losing a lot of money. However, all our friends are telling him how great it is. I think a true friend should tell him to cut his loses and get out now.

An acquaintance is constantly posting "politically" correct soap box one liners calling on all the social justice warrior talking points. Its annoying seeing her "preach" all her untruths and opinions validating her own sense of virtue and superiority. One of her fake injustices is cultural appropriation. First, that's not a bad thing. Get over it. But secondly, and most hypocritically, she (a Caucasian) went to Africa and adopted a black baby. Let that sink in. If cultural appropriation is "bad" then the absolute worst version of cultural appropriation would be to appropriate a human baby of a different culture and race. This is one of the examples in which I have absolutely no compassion when sharing the truth. I'm patient with stupidity, not those who are proud of it.

If the truth offended you, I'm not sorry about that.

Friday, February 10, 2017

When The Man Comes Around


My friend recently found out her husband is dying. The doctors say he has less than 5 years to live. He could be dead tomorrow. There's no operation and no medication that can stop this. Only a miracle will change the inevitable.

I don't know what it would be like to know how little time you have left on this side of eternity. I'm sure it would make any person re-evaluate their life. We all know we have a limited number of days but we all assume that those days numbers in the tens of thousands. I mentioned in early blog posts about sudden illnesses and deaths that affected people I know much earlier in life than is expected. My cousin lost his wife to ALS. A coworker has learned she has MS. They were both younger than I am. Another coworker lost his daughter to cancer. She wasn't even 10. My parents are currently older than their parents were when they died. No one knows for sure how many days or years they have left. And yet, I would guess that we waste so much of our time on things that don't matter in the larger scheme of things.

My friend is preparing to be a widow in her 30s with 3 kids under the age of 9. Now that the reality of mortality has set in their priorities have changed. Life is not about going to work right now, even though money will be important in the future. They want to spend time together. They want to make videos for their kids to remember their dad.

I'm planning to live beyond 100 years old. How should I prioritize? Do I live like today is the first day of the rest of my life or live like today will be my last? What's the middle ground?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Proverbs XXI

If you're going to fish you need the right bait.
If you're going to hunt you need the right weapon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ads

I'm trying to remove as much advertising from my life as possible. I hate it. I hate being exposed to marketing designed to make me want or buy something. I think I'm good at ignoring the advertising thrust on me but I can't be 100% confident that I'm operating of my own free will. I drive the same car as Tony Stark. Is that a coincidence? There's a lot of interesting research being published over the last 5 years or so regarding the affects of advertising exposure.

First, studies say that the average North American encounters about 5000 ads a day. Some are blatant and others are more subtle. The 30 second commercial is an example of a blatant advertisement. So is a billboard. Brand name labelling on clothes or electronics are more subtle advertisements as well as product placement in movies.  There are are a lot of ads that fall somewhere in between on the marketing spectrum. I know I will never be able to filter them all but I have decided not to knowingly subject myself to all these messages.  

Studies focused on the effects of advertising on children has discovered that the more ads a child is exposed to the more materialistic they tend to be. The more materialistic a child is, the unhappier the child is as well. It is a bit of a chicken/egg problem though. Are unhappy kids seeking out ads to find products to make them happy or does exposure to adds make them want material items which leads to unhappiness when the things don't make them as happy as promised? I'll let you decide.

It has also been observed that people who have viewed food advertisements before meals eat up to 45% more food than those who were not exposed the the advertisements. I think this shows causality and answers the question from the paragraph above.

Studies using multiple test groups have found an interesting link between marketing and emotion. One group was shown two products, stating that one is inferior to the other based on certain reasons. The test group was shown pictures of the inferior product with things people generally associate with pleasant feelings such as sunsets, Christmas, and baby animals while the superior product was displayed with generic items and backgrounds. The second test group was show photos of the items, each displayed with the same generic items and backgrounds. After viewing the pictures both groups were asked to pick the best product. Almost 85% of the people who were shown the positive emotional pictures chose the inferior product, even after being told several minutes earlier why the product was inferior. The generic test group chose the superior product almost 100% of the time. Coca Cola is a master at emotional advertising. Their most memorable adds have no product information at all. They rely almost completely on creating warm fuzzies for the viewers.

Advertising works. And that's why I want out. I want to be free of the undo influence of product peddlers. Previous to this decision I think I managed to keep the influence of advertising to a minimum in my life. I am not a very materialistic person and I don't have a desire for the bigger and better product X. However, I have seen more targeted ads trying to work their way in to my life and I am tired of being on the receiving end. From a technological stand point there is a lot that can be done to keep the ads away. I'm doing what I can on that front.

I will never be 100% free of this Matrix, but I will do what I can to come close. I know I will be happier because of it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Vacation Life

I'm not going on a vacation any time soon.

I don't "need" a vacation any time soon.

I try to live my life like a vacation.

Here's why.

I live in a great city. It's a city that many people come to for a vacation. Once I realized that people spend time and money to come experience what I have access to on a daily basis I started to reevaluate what I consider leisure. The things I want to experience and the things I do for enjoyment are relatively simple and relatively cheap. Drawing upon my previous posts discussing opportunity costs and the law of diminishing returns I concluded that I don't need to work a lot to fund my leisure activities and that spending a lot on a big vacation may not be the best return on investment (happiness). This means I have more free time to do the things I like to do and I don't need to spend a lot to do them. Ultimately, I'm just as happy, if not more happy, doing a lot of smaller enjoyable things throughout the year than a couple big "vacations".

I know a person who works as a nurse. She is also a flight attendant. She works 6 or 7 days a week. She saves up all her money and blows it on 2 vacations every year. She works almost 330 days a year and relaxes the other 35 days. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks this is stupid. We aren't meant to devote ourselves to work. We are to devote ourselves to purpose. I try to work as little as possible. That allows me to devote more time to purposeful things. Don't get me wrong, I think a little rest and relaxation are important, but I don't see the need to do it all at once.

I try to live every day as a vacation.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Less is More

It's Christmas time.  The news just told me the average person in North America will spend $600 on Christmas presents this year. That is actually down 8% from last year. Considering the fact that I'm paying ZERO for Christmas presents, someone out there is buying $1200 to compensate for my lack of Christmas "spirit".



I have written in the past about the law of diminishing returns when accumulating things. Basically owning 100 TVs won't make you 100 times happier than owning one TV. However, owning one tv will probably make you happier than owning none. Somewhere in between you will find a maximum return on investment. I would also suggest that owning 100 TVs would make you less happy than owning one TV. (Search Laffer Curve although it really isn't connected to my theory.) Owning 100 TVs would cost a lot of money. That money could be spent on other things. It takes a lot of space to store 100 TVs. That space costs more money to hold your 100 TVs. Then there's the electricity bill. Simply put, owning 100 TVs is an inconvenience.

TVs aside, everything we own has a similar affect on us. There's a point at which accumulating more does not bring happiness. I think we're beyond that point in North America. There's a very interesting contrast happening in my life right now. I am actively working at reducing the amount of stuff cluttering my life, all the while people around me are actively shopping for more things because its Christmas. I've been giving away a lot of clothes lately. It's ridiculous how much I've accumulated, and I'm actively trying to reduce my consumption.  I have about 20 pairs of shoes. How does that even happen?

In one of my multiple homes I have a room to store my shelves that hold my boxes that house my things. Those things are rarely, if ever, used. I have 3 sombreros. I know Mexicans who don't own 3 sombreros.

I am working to bring more to my life by having less. Less things, more money. Less things, more time. Less things, more happiness.

Solstice


It's my favourite time of the year. The shortest day of the year. Once again, every day for the next 6 months is going to be a little longer, a little brighter, than the day before. We made it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Discomfort Can Lead To Growth


This blog has documented the changes I've gone through over the last 7 years or so. I've grown quite a bit as a person. My world view, how I perceive others, and how I perceive myself has changed drastically. Its been quite interesting to look back at who I was and where I've come from and compare that version of me to who I am now. I think the changes are good. Great even. What I've concluded is that comfort leads to stagnation and deterioration. The best comfort can lead to is the status quo. However, the negative end of the comfort spectrum ends with death of the soul, if not the body.

Growth only comes through the discomfort of trials. When I first started this blog I was deeply dissatisfied with my personal development. I suffered from Social Anxiety, I was incredibly shy and I was/still am an introvert. These obstacles left with me with only 2 options. I could learn to accept this disabling fear and live with it. I could seek out a life of comfort, which would have meant essentially living as a hermit. No friends. No social activities. No interaction with the world outside the necessities of life. I could avoid my fears and live a comfortably pathetic life. Or I could do whatever it took to overcome these obstacles in my life. It was very uncomfortable confronting my fears and putting in the necessary effort to grow beyond my limitations at the time. However, now that I am on the other side I can say with certitude that any discomfort I felt at the time is more than compensated for by the place I am in now.

It frustrates me to see people limiting themselves, seeking out immediate relief from discomfort instead of allowing that discomfort to lead to growth. The guy who climbs a mountain doesn't give up and go home because it got cold out. He puts on another layer and keeps climbing. The band that releases a hit song likely had a lot of flops that preceded it. The lady that loses 100 pounds didn't retreat to the kitchen with a spoon and a bucket of ice cream. It took self control and many uncomfortable trips to the gym. These are all real people I know. They could have retreated to a warm home, a boring profession, or a bakery and found comfort but they didn't. They persevered through their discomfort and changed their circumstances.

There's always two options. Retreat or press on. One is much more comfortable. The other leads to victory. The choice is always yours.