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Optimism and Pessimism

People like being around other happy people.  People don’t like being around negative people.  This is because we all seek well being, one where we feel good, feel like we have a purpose, and live meaningful lives.  Happy people, by definition, are successful because they are leading happy lives, and being around happy people increases your chances of being happy.  Being around people laughing increases your chances of laughing, and laughing is good.

Pessimism, as defined on Google is “a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.” Considering all the great there is in the world, and all the progress we’ve made in the last couple hundreds years, the question is why are so many people pessimistic?

I’ve written before about how the media affects the mood and feeling of the people who consume it.  Even though by almost every metric we live in a better, healthier, happier, wealthier world than at any other time in human history, many people think the world is more dangerous and worse than ever before.  This is driven in large part by the news, which in modern day enables worldwide catastrophes to be broadcasted in real time to people all over the world.  This is a new trend, and it wasn’t always possible to see news like it is today.  The media is incentivized to broadcast sad, tragic, graphic, and scary news because scary news captures human attention, and they make money by capturing our attention, not by telling us what we should or need to know about how amazing the world actually is (?).

Without knowing how the media and modern technology works, pessimism makes sense.  It feels like the world could be worse off.  But as I’ve written about before, overcoming our default state – our innate human intuitions – is what leads to us becoming conscious people, and better conscious people.  Knowing that our intuitions can often misguide us is important, and overcoming them can lead us to be more realistic when we realize that our intuitions are misguided.  It enables us to become optimistic when we’d otherwise be pessimistic.

So why be optimistic? To start, being optimistic feels good.  It makes you excited about the future, grateful for the moment, and privileged to exist today. But there are other benefits than just feeling good…
– Optimists are healthier and tend to live longer (?)
– Optimistics are less likely to get sick (?)
– Optimists make better partners (?)
– Optimists are perform better at their jobs (?)
– Optimists get more promotions and job offers (?)
– Optimists handle stress better than pessimists (?)

All of this shouldn’t come as a surprise, if you’re optimistic and you feel good, you’re more likely to take care of yourself, treat others better, be a positive person, and that attracts a better social circle, which is a key indicator and perhaps the most valuable aspect of living a good life (the longest study on happiness at Harvard ranked it as the #1 most important metric).

There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists. Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.
US National Library of Health

And…

Optimists tend to view anything adverse as temporary, specific and external whilst pessimists will view an adverse situation as permanent, pervasive and personal.  These two styles produce very different outcomes.  Source: Psychology Today

What about the unknowns of the world? What about the daunting challenges we face as a society? Should we remain optimistic when things look cloudy? Yes. In situations where we don’t know what an outcome will be or we’re missing too many details to draw a fair conclusion, optimism is almost always better.  This is two-fold – if you’re optimistic and see problems as solvable (Beginning of Infinity), you’re far more likely to solve them than if you see problems as impossible to overcome and give up.  Secondly, optimism has tremendous benefits, so why not side on more beneficial end? Kant had a theory in philosophy: since many philosophical discussions don’t have a “right” answer, he argues to choose the side with most utility. That is to say to choose the most useful side during the unknown. Since so many things in life we don’t know, striving for optimism makes the most rational sense.

You find what you’re looking for.  If you look for all the negatives in the world, you’ll find them.  If you look for all the positives, you’ll find them.  And expectations influence outcomes.  They influence not only your perception, but very likely the outcome because your perceptions affect your actions.  Being optimistic and positive far increases your chances of finding the good in the world, whether it be good people, good places, or just a good feeling.  Optimism is key.

So in todays world what and how much should we be optimist about? The answer….nearly everything.

I recently finished reading Enlightenment Now, which is an excellent book written by the incredible Steven Pinker of Harvard.  He puts forward a sound perspective on science and reason which has created progress.  Progress at what? Progress at maximizing human flourishing, maximizing well being, reducing suffering, all core values of a humanistic view.  It is well worth the time to read, and if for no other reason, it will lead to be more optimistic about the state of the world, even if you already are optimistic.

Subjective Feeling vs Objective Truth

One of the big fallacies I think many people make in modern day is that they take their subjective view of reality and then assume it’s how the rest of the society or the rest of the world is.  For example, imagine you live in a town of 200,000 people and you notice most of your friends are chronically depressed, and a large amount of strangers you meet throughout your town express their concern about depression and how they also feel depressed.  A common conclusion to therefore draw is that society is broken and depression is a major issue.  The fallacy with this is that you’re relying on your intuitions about the state of society and using your subjective experience to therefore conclude that objectively society is broken.  However, you can easily look up various stats and studies to see objectively what the actual state of affairs is, and it is more often than not quite different than you subjectively may feel.  The world is diverse, and we can learn a lot by studying other cultures, places, and people.

This is why a book like Enlightenment Now is well worth your time, because it objectively looks at many aspects of society to see how it is performing, progressing, and changing, regardless of anyones specific subjective feelings. Pinker looks at worldwide data to show how collectively society is improving in almost every metric we care about – human flourishing, well being, reduced suffering, scientific progress, knowledge, education, etc.  The only way to make rational conclusions and decisions about life is to objectively understand what is working and what isn’t, and learn from the studies and data we have at our disposal.  If subjectively things feel pessimistic, a simple environmental change could change ones perspective, and lead to optimism.

How to be more optimistic

Changing from a pessimistic mindset to an optimistic one isn’t easy. Start with these tips:

  • Educate yourself about the problems we face, and the progress we’ve made (Enlightenment Now is a start).
  • Proactively work on solving some of the world’s challenges.  Seeing progress made is important, but actively helping solve the issues we face is more important.
  • Reframe how you define events – try to find the good in every situation, even at difficult moments. Look for the good in the world, not the bad.  Life is all about perspective and you see what you think/believe.
  • Understand that problems are solvable, and for each problem we solve, more will come. Read “Beginning of Infinity”.

  • Meditate, be mindful – focus on the here and now.
  • Notice negative self talk or complaints you make.  Set a timer, and each time you notice yourself complain (or get called out about complaining), reset the timer.   See how many hours you can go.
  • Focus on what you can control in life. Recognize when something isn’t within your control, and avoid letting it affect you (see meditation point above). Read “A Guide to a Good Life” on Stoic philosophy.
  • Pursue self-growth, work on improving everyday.  Small steps each day add up to a lot, it’s compound interest of the mind/body.  Help others, benefit society.  Strive to be better each day and solve the challenges we face as a society.
  • Strive to have positive experiences.  Seek things you enjoy and find joy in others.
  •  Be healthy.  Sleep well, eat well, and stay active.  The better you feel, the more positive outlook you’ll have in life.

Life is a string of the stories we tell ourselves.  It’s better to tell great stories.  Be optimistic.


Other Notes/Links:

Optimists Get Jobs More Easily — and Get Promoted More, Researchers Find

Can Optimism Make a Difference in Your Life?

How Optimism Boosts Productivity and Work-Life Balance

Optimism and your health

Thinking about Work Differently

I grew up rural America, knowing not much more than what I saw and experienced with the people around me. By sheer luck, I gained access to the internet at the age of 9 and my curiosity led me to the world outside of just rural America.  I traded baseball cards online, learned the basics of economics, used my dad’s credit card to open an eBay account, and shared a bank account with my brother.  Through enjoying the hobby of baseball card trading, combined with the power of the internet in connecting people, I learned the basics of money, business, and economics.

As time went on, I went through traditional school as assumed like any other kid from rural America.  Go to school, do well enough to get into college, and graduate and get a good job, meaning a job that pays the bills and interests you.  I didn’t particular enjoy school, though I understood it’s value and had parental pressure to succeed.  Again by sheer luck, I had the mindset that if I’m going to wake bright an early every morning to take a bus to school, spend most of my day at the school, and then bus back, I might as well make it worth it.  As a result, along with parental and sibling pressure, I tried quite hard to do well, meaning get good grades.

Naturally, after graduating high school and following the cultural and societal pressures of Western society, I went to college.  It was fun and challenging and met a lot of great people, but the big downside was the hefty bill it came with.  At the age of 18, it’s very easy to sign a loan for $20,000 with little understanding of what it really is, and with the feeling that it is totally normal.  Don’t get me wrong, having the loan enabled me to attend college and without it I wouldn’t have been able to go.  Because of this fact, most people in the world never get the chance to attend college.  As I write this in 2018, there is $1.48 trillion in student loan debt in the US, held by 44.2 million Americans (?).  Consumer debt is at an all time high, even though the US stock market is at an all time high.  The US government is in debt is over $21 trillion.  Even with the economy soaring over the last few years and wars have winded down, the US government has only gone further into debt.  How is this possible you may ask?

What I’ve seen regarding higher education in America is this: in the past, say 40 years ago, a college education was very valuable, meaning you gained a big advantage on society by having the degree, and at the same time, the cost was relatively cheap.  Fast forward to today, the value of a college education has dropped (meaning it doesn’t give you a big advantage on the rest of the society), and the cost has skyrocketed.  This has resulted in two key general trends: 1) students are graduating after going massively into debt and not being able to get a job (ie. society doesn’t value the degree) and 2) because of this, people begin to question whether going to college is worth it since going into debt and not being able to get a job is risky.

One of the reasons I think we’ve come to this point in history is due to the way we look at work.  Instead of looking at work as getting a nice resume and applying to various companies who like the resume you have, the question should be asked: what can I do to benefit society? What skills do I have or can I acquire which will benefit society? If people asked these questions, and then followed through in acquiring these skills, I’d argue society would not only be better off but far less people would be struggling to find work.

With all of these stats about record high student loan debt, record high credit card debt, record highs in consumer debt, there is perhaps more opportunity than ever to create wealth in the world today.  And not just create wealth, but acquire the skills needed to benefit the world in whatever way you see fit.  I feel for the people who are struggling to find work, but it is important to look at a society more objectively.  As I heard recently, if it feels like the world is fucked up, maybe it’s not the world that’s fucked up but you that’s fucked up.  Not to say there is bad luck, and bad timing which leads to these situations, but the world is what you perceive of it.  To think that the world is awful is purely an illusion in our own heads, as in another’s mind it is absolute bliss.  The key takeaway here is to be careful how to interpret the world, because it becomes your world.  And in times of crisis in life it’s easy to misinterpret the world you’re living in.

There was a guy I came across maybe 4 years ago who just graduated from college and was traveling around Asia building websites on the internet, learning as many skills as possible along the way.  He decided to build a site about connecting digital nomads and finding the best places to live and work in the world.  Today, just a few years later, the site is making $30,000+/month passively.   People pay to use his site because it’s valuable to them – it connects like-minded people traveling outside their home countries. He also decided to build out a single index.php site for people to post remote jobs, and that site at present is making nearly $20,000+/month, again passively.  And this story is becoming a common one. The point of this isn’t to cherry pick a success, but to demonstrate the sheer amount of opportunity and potential in the world today, just on the internet alone.  While so many struggle in the West to get work, others are creating incredible websites, pieces of software, and movements which benefit society, and in turn make a lot of money.

Sure, I’m biased towards the internet as it’s what I’ve spent most of my life studying and working on, but it is something that is available in many places in the world, has more collective human knowledge than human kind has ever seen, and enables anyone in the world interested or motivated enough to acquire skills, create movements, to build things that benefit society, and to share their voices.  The opportunity is without a doubt there, it’s just a matter of seizing it.

The point being is that instead of looking at work as a resume and applying to companies, look at work as acquiring skills and building things that society values.  This way you’re a valuable asset to society and in turn will be rewarded for it.

Don’t Create Goals

People often talk about creating goals as a means of progress. A challenge.  Challenging ourselves to move forward, setting deadlines to avoid taking too much time, and feeling satisfaction of reaching milestones. With each new milestone, another one comes about, a new goal is created.

I long believed in goals.  I enjoyed seeing myself accomplishing goals. It was fulfilling, enlightening, and challenging.  But what I’ve found is that by focusing on the result and not the process, it makes things less sustainable, less fun, and less likely to succeed.  I was focusing on the shiny object at the end, not in the day to day actions and time I spent getting there.  As a result, I’d often fail.

Instead, build processes and systems.  Again, don’t create goals, create systems.

A few examples:

  • Goal may be: Squat 500 lbs
    System: Go to the gym everyday and squat a tiny bit more each day than you did before.
  • Goal may be: Make $10,000/month
    System: Work on improving skills, making connections, and providing more value to society each day.
  • Goal may be: Lose 25 lbs
    System: Improve diet each day and reduce caloric intake, go for a run each day, eat vegetables every meal
  • Goal may be: Read 40 books this year
    System: Focus on reading 30 minutes each day consistently.

The big point here is that a goal is a milestone, but it doesn’t have a strategy of how to reach the goal.  Because big goals are hard to reach, coming up with a strategy can save you time, energy, money, and willpower, and make you far more likely to reach the goal.

A goal without a path to the goal is a goal that is typically not reached.  Systems are daily routines and habits you build which move you in the direction of your goal, which enables you to build habits that last long after you’ve reached your goal.  Remember, for each goal you reach, another goal then awaits.  It is never ending.

In Scott Adams’ book “How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big”, the brilliant Adams talks about systems and processes.  A system or process that steers you in the direction of where you want to go is never ending.  As you continually refine your processes and systems, you build habits, enjoy the journey each day, and inevitably reach the would-be goals.

As the Stoics found out 2,000 years ago, for each thing you think you want, once you get it, you may realize it wasn’t what you wanted/expected, or if it was what you expected, you inevitably get used to it and long for someone more, or something different – a new goal.

Goals focus on the end result.  They say nothing about how to get there.  Systems are the processes that can lead to a result. Fall in love with the process, not the result.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.

If you enjoy this way of thinking, you’ll probably enjoy James Clear’s article Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. 

2017 Year in Review

It’s already that time of the year again where we look back on the last year of our lives and look forward to the next.  It is useful because it allows us to review what we did right, and what we can improve on in the future. You can see my previous years here: 201020112012201320142015, 2016 . Here’s a look back in what I did in 2017.

Summary

  • I rang in the new year in Pai in northern Thailand at a music festival.  After Pai I visited by friend Vy in Chiang Rai for a few days. Later in January attended a small Art Festival on Onnut road.
  • In February I completed a 10 day water fast.
  • In March drove to Cambodia, flew my drone, and attended a wedding in Sa Kaeo.   Also celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Bangkok with some friends.
  • In April celebrated Song Kran Water Festival in Bangkok.  A few days later I flew to Nepal for a month to hike the Himalayas, climbing the Dhaulagiri Circuit, bungee pumping, and paragliding which were all firsts for me.
  • I arrived back into Bangkok from Nepal on May 17th, had a goodbye party for a friend, and a going away party for Kemji and I at Y Spa.
  • In June I headed to Colorado to visit family and friends, went camping near Gunnison at the Kelly campout, attended the Renaissance Festival, and relaxed with family and friends.  In the later part of June my girlfriend Kemji flew to the US to meetup with me.
  • We celebrated July 4th in Lakewood at a relatives house.  On July 6th we drove up to Mt. Evans with my uncle, which is the highest paved road in North America.  In early July we went to a Colorado Rapids game, and a Colorado Rockies game, as well as up to a friends cabin in the mountains for the night.  On July 14th, we flew to Medellin, Colombia to begin our 5 month trip around South America.  We visited Medellin and Cartagena in July (future trip writeup coming).
  • In August we went to Bogota, Colombia and spent several days there exploring, working, and relaxing.  We met a lot of interesting people and had many interesting AirBNB experiences.  In mid-August we flew to Lima, Peru to begin exploring Peru, and to meet with a Peruvian friend Luis who was also there. In the later part of Peru we took a bus south to Ica, explored the sand dunes, then went to Nazca for a night, then took an overnight 18 hour bus ride to Cusco, Peru, arriving at the end of August.
  • In September we did a day trip and climbed Rainbow Mountain at 16,000ft, and visited Machu Picchu via a night in Ollantaytambo.  We ended up spending over 2 weeks in the Cusco area and loved it. In the later half of September we flew north to Iquitos, Peru, the largest city in the world without roads to it, along the Amazon River and Amazon jungle.  It was a fascinating experience spending 2 weeks there and in the jungle.  I did 2 ayuhasca ceremonies.
  • In early October we flew back to Lima and bussed north to Trujuilo, then to Piura, and into Ecuador to Cuenca over the course of several days. We spent several days in Cuenca, and from Cuenca we took a bus to Banos for the hot springs.  From there we bussed to Latacunga for a couple nights to visit the infamous Quilotoa volcano and lake.  It was a fascinating experience. We continued north to Quito, the capital of Ecuador where we explored until the end of October when we flew to Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
  • Early November we spent in Zihuatanejo, and then to Ixtapa nearby for a friends wedding, which was a lot of fun and beautiful.  From there we headed back to Zihuatanejo for another week, then flew east to Cancun.  We immediately headed south to Playa Del Carmen with the idea that we’d explore Cancun later before we fly out of there.  We spent a week in Playa Del Carmen, and did a trip west to Piste to explore Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan archeological sight. We then headed back to Playa Del Carmen in late November.
  • Early December we went to Cancun for a few days, relaxing on the beach and in the pool, getting some work done throughout.  We flew out December 9th to Tampa Bay, Florida to meet my mom and brother to embark on a 7 day cruise back south to Key West, FL > Cozumel, MX> Belize City, Belize > Costa Maya, MX > Tampa Bay, FL.  It was a fun and interesting experience seeing such a massive object moving around the ocean.  We got back to Colorado late on Dec 17th, and celebrated Christmas and New Years with my family in Colorado.

WHAT WENT WELL THIS YEAR?

It was an adventurous year.  About 7 months of the year were spent on the road, starting with a month in Nepal in April/May, a month in the US, and 5 months in South America.  This made routine tough to follow, though I was able to keep my 5 tasks each day for most of it: meditate, read, study Spanish, work, and exercise.  Work-wise, I made a lot of progress and setup quite a few processes, learning a lot along the way.  I spent a lot of time and money learning the modern FB Advertising game, and several sites I’ve had setup for years were expanded.  Health-wise, it was a neutral year.  I feel I’m in better shape than I was a year ago but definitely have a lot of room for improvement here.  Knowledge-wise, I read around 30 books, and have learned a lot this year.  A few of the top books that stick out are: Sapiens, The Beginning of Infinity, Tribes, and Homo Deus.

WHAT DIDN’T GO SO WELL THIS YEAR?

I don’t have a lot of complaints this year.  I felt like this year was overall a huge step forward in my life in all the aspects that I’ve been working on. I can definitely improve my health and routines, but I’m quite satisfied with that considering how sporadic my schedule was in 2017.

WHAT AM I WORKING TOWARD?

Next year I have a few goals: read more pages than I did this year, spend a lot more time working on flexibility and mobility and simply spend more time working on my health. Travel wise, not sure yet, but Australia and Japan are on the radar, as well as perhaps hiking the Colorado Trail. I signed up for a 10 day meditation retreat in late March, 2018 in Thailand which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I also want to do a few more 30 day challenges, firstly being a 30 day vegetarian diet.

ALL TOGETHER

As stated every year, 2017 was the fastest year of my life, and perhaps one of the best.  In all the aspects of my life that I’ve focused on: health, business, knowledge, connection, I’ve made progress.

You can see all of my posts from 2017 herehttp://www.patjk.com/posts/2017/

Thanks for reading. Happy New year, see you in 2018!

Note: You can follow what I’m reading and things I find interesting daily on my G+Twitter and/or Facebook page.

Lost in Thought

In “The Power of Now“, Eckhart Tolle discusses how the present moment is all there is.  And how, fundamentally, time is an illusion.  The past and the present exist only through our thought happening in the present moment.

What is the present moment, the now? It’s often hard to see.  Let’s say you’re sitting at a table having a conversation with your friend, but as your friend is talking you’re gazing off into the distance thinking of something unrelated.  Sure, your present moment is just that, but in a sense it is completely distracted by thought.  Instead of paying full attention and being fully mindful of your friend talking, you’re mind is adrift elsewhere, most likely unaware of it.  As soon as you become aware that you’re drifting off, that is mindfulness, bringing you to the present moment – observing your thoughts as they arise out of consciousness.

The example above is how our minds, more often than not, function – we’re often lost in thought without knowing it.  The idea of mindfulness meditation is 2 fold:

  1.  It gives you a point to focus on, a reference point – the breath for example – so that when your mind is distracted, you actually notice it.  See my post on Mindfulness here.
  2. With practice, you naturally become more mindful of the moment, more present, more in the now. You truly begin to see thoughts as exactly what they are, simply thoughts, nothing else.

So why is being in the now important? Why does it matter? Well, that is all there is.  Like the Stoics came to conclude 2,000 years ago, all there is to being is the now.  Studies also show that being in the now is also the place with the highest wellbeing (Source).  A wandering mind is not a happy mind.

So when one says that most people spend their entire lives lost in thought, it is true.  A thought is just a thought.  It is so obvious that most people don’t know it.  But with mindfulness practice, it becomes obvious.  And when you’re angry, sad, stressed, or anxious, you can stop, become present, and recognize it is simply a temporary sensation (or thought) that will pass, and not react to it.  Or at the very least, if you do react to it, know that you’re reacting to it and ensure you’re mindful of your reaction.  If thoughts get out of control, they cause unnecessary emotions and reactions that cause unnecessary suffering. It happens all the time to most people, unnecessarily.

You can become the observer of thoughts rather than simply laying victim to them which causes unnecessary suffering.  This is the idea behind meditation – simply observing thoughts as they arise out of consciousness, seeing them for exactly what they are, thoughts.

I’d highly recommend reading “The Power of Now” or listening to the audiobook, it is useful to truly becoming a more aware, useful, and joyous person.

2016 Year in Review

It’s already that time of the year again where we look back on the last year of our lives and look forward to the next.  It is useful because it allows us to review what we did right, and what we can improve on in the future. You can see my previous years here: 20102011201220132014, 2015 . Here’s a look back in what I did in 2016.

  • I rang in the new year on Koh Chang in Thailand with some friends (Kemji, Austin, Kate, Josh, Champoo, Beth), a beer cooler, and an amazing beach sunset.
  • In January/February I spent a month in Indonesia firstly in Bali with Kemji and then 3 weeks in more remote Indonesia with my good friend Andrew.
  • In March I went to Samut Prakan to the Mueng Boran Ancient City with Kemji, and also to Hong Kong with a couple friends (Steve and Josh).
  • In April I went to Nan province for Songkran to spend time with Kemji’s family.
  • In May I went to Koh Samed and paraglided for the first time.  At the end of May went wakeboarding with friends in Bangkok.
  • In June I went to the US to visit family and travel with my girlfriend to San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. I also bought a quadcopter drone, which has been fantastic for aerial photography.
  • In July, I road-tripped through Yellowstone to Canada with my friend Richard.
  • In August I went to Sweden and Romania to visit with my old friend Constantin.
  • In September/October I went back to Europe to travel with my brother John and his friends for a couple weeks to Oktoberfest in Munich, then to Prague, and Poland.
  • At the end of October I went to Phuket for celebrate Kemji’s birthday.
  • In November I went to Singapore, and also ran into my old friend Ayan from the Phillipines. At the end of November, we went to Koh Samed again with a few of Kemji’s friends.
  • For New Years this year I’m heading to the northern part of Thailand (Chiang Mai, Pai, and Chiang Rai) with Kemji.

What went well this year?

Health: Aside from all the time I was away from home and out of routine, I’d consider this year one of the best for my health in my life.  I was running or lifting weights 5 days a week, drank less than I had in previous years, slept consistently well, and only got sick once or twice.  Over the last 6 months or so I’ve been really working on my flexibility after being convinced that flexibility is one of the most important aspects of being healthy. I’m also on a 50+ daily meditation streak.  I can say I’m healthier now than I was a year ago.

Knowledge: I read nearly 30 books this year, and listened to countless podcasts.  I’m far more enlightened now than ever before, though it’s only a glimpse of what is to come.  I still find it incredible how much one can take away from reading a single good book. I’ve got into the routine of leaving a review of every book I read along with my takeaways – this provides a good record of my thoughts.

Business: I’ve launched several new projects and scaled out older ones.  I’ve learned quite a few big lessons this year and have increased my skills in various ways. This year has been one of the best I’ve ever had, with lots of lessons learned along the way.

What didn’t go so well this year?

Health: While I have improved my health from the last year and am making progress, I still have a long way to go.  Next year I’ll be drinking a maximum of once per month, and continuing to work on my fitness (endurance, flexibility, strength).

Writing: While I’ve written more this year, I still haven’t made writing a daily routine, which was one of my goals for the year.  I find writing not only brings new ideas into my mind, it forces me to coherently put down thoughts that otherwise may be jumbled in my mind.  It also provides a nice record of my thoughts as I grow older.

Knowledge: I’ve noticed when I travel I lose routine, and one of them is consistent studying/reading.  For example, when studying Thai language this year, if I was on the road I’d miss several days of studying in a row, or perhaps not read for a week.  This is something I need to work on – just because I’m on the road doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put aside time for these tasks.

What am I working toward?

I’ve had quite a few shifts in mindset this year that have influenced how I view life.  Part of this is driven by what I’ve read and learned this year, people I’ve talked to, and experiences I’ve had, and part I think is just myself growing up.  Thoughts are just thoughts, so I’ve began to realize that is just what they are. I’ve also shifted my mindset more toward financial freedom.  While my goal has always been to enjoy each day as much as possible without too much sacrifice, now I have some goals in mind in terms of “how can I become financially independent?” I’ve learned a lot about investing and 2016 was my first year where I actually started to build a portfolio of things that I consider long term investments. I plan to continue this practice into 2017 and beyond.

Health wise I plan to keep meditating daily and improving my practice.  I plan to attend a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat in 2017, though unsure where that will be in the world.  I’m also working towards a free-standing hand stand, which has required me to work on my flexibility a lot, which obviously takes time and can’t be rushed.

Work-wise, I’m always trying to get better with managing time, setting goals and deadlines, working on routine, and balancing my work/hobbies.  It will be a life-long process but I’m quite happy with the rate of improvement.

All Together

Once again, this year was the fastest year of my life. Perhaps every year we get older will perceptually feel faster than the previous, though I’m unsure.  Perhaps it depends on circumstance and mindset, and the future is unpredictable. All I can do is live how I see best using the knowledge, relationships, and circumstances I have. I’ll end this year with my top 5 book recommendations of the year, and my top 5 posts of the year:

Books:

  • Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari
  • The Life You Can Save – Peter Singer
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • World Order – Henry Kissinger
  • Free Will – Sam Harris

Posts:

Thanks for reading. Happy New year, see you in 2017!

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