I had to quit biting…

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For the past year, I have been progressing so much in my volunteer work, leadership abilities and work experience. I have said yes to the positions that would help build my resume and have an impact on the community.

This has been all good BUT for the first time, I had to say no to something because I didnt think I could contribute enough time to it… This is a very hard idea to swallow because i’m the type of person to bite off as much as I can and never say no to myself.

To rationalize my first big NO: it was saying no to the Big Brother Big Sister Program where i live. I was intent on becoming a mentor to a youth but I have so much on the go that I couldnt afford over an hour a week… I say to myself that isn’t enough time to be hanging with someone and helping them feel fulfilled…

It’s just strange to have to say no to something that could fundamentally change some little person’s life…

I’ll make up for it in the future but I’ll always wonder about that kid that I just lost the opportunity to mentor…

Rant over.

Motivation

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This is just a quickie post for those of you who don’t want to read a HUGE complicated explanation (like my one on impulse)

Motivation was thought to be a reward-punishment type of system. It was thought that people will accomplish more with higher rewards (like how a horse wants more carrots) or will stop doing badly if they are punished (like an animal being poked with a stick. This was called the carrot-stick system for reasons outlined above.

Well this is not true! The external rewards such as money are actually not in the lead when it comes to making people commit to being more successful and motivated. People need more than money. After a certain amount of money, people lose interest in it by huge proportions! Sure its great to buy a yaght and travel the world but what if it was worth a hugely annoying and painful job?

People DEMAND intrinsic motivation.

We want to feel successful in our own regards for our accomplishments. Money is good but us humans, we want to feel accomplished and satisfied. Its like cooking dinner and not burning everything the 100th time around. Its like running farther than you have ever ran before (even without a competition in the future). Its like figuring out a software problem without being paid for it. (Ask the Linux crew how that feels!!)

Those feelings of accomplishment in our psyche mean much more than a cheque will ever mean. Going to motivation now, this means that we REALLY need to find that feeling within ourselves.

Think of the last few times you felt so accomplished and proud. Its not unlikely that those are more your calling in life and what you should stick to. If something is boring or extremely stressful day in and day out, it might be time for a switch and a look for those juicy, intrinsic rewards.

Find that juicy motivation!

carrotMot

I Was a Fool Thinking I Could Beat Sleep (A Scientific Study?)

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For the last three weeks, I have been very distant from writing and most things intelligible. Why you may ask have I been so out of it?

I found an underground poker game going quite frequently at 4-5 days a week. This by itself doesn’t warrant losing my mind, but when you add school, running and work to the equation, the sector which is sleep tends to be forgotten.

If I’ve learned anything, it is that sleep must never be forgotten.

She is the most beautiful love in our lives, and whether we want her or not, she will be there waiting for us. If you leave her for any long period of time, you will suffer from it as I have. She is there to help so why resist what comes so natural!

I was on a weird sleep schedule to say the least: Sleeping 5 hours at night, a quick 20 min nap at school around 11, and then sleeping 2 hours after school. I thought that  “hey, its almost eight hours still it will be fiiiiiiine” NO, just NO, Erik.

I was hoping that man could conquer sleep and control the time spent in void but for this man, it was not possible. The division of my sleep into thirds was not beneficial at all. The REM cycles were very sporadic and I was not entering a dream state aside from on my 20 minute nap. My actual sleep was being affected by the sleep schedule, who knew that would happen?

The weirdest part is that I got ignorant to the facts of what was going on. I was running on 60% at best all the time and yet, I believed I was maintaining my same levels of awesomeness as before the change. My emotion was becoming nonexistent at times or it was very… grumpy-oriented to say the least, BUT my mind told me that external stimuli were causing the negative emotion or lack thereof. I was literally so over-tired that my brain would reason in completely illogical ways to survive day after day in this new lifestyle.

A very eye-opening experience for me after this two weeks of such difference in personality and temperament. I swear I could feel my IQ raising 20 points on the second day of full rest after ending my horrid pattern! Absolutely mind-blowing that lack of sleep does SO much damage to intelligence. Motivation came back as well to actually push through and do the things I love such as writing this blog post.

If you take anything from this, don’t mess with sleep. She will kick your ass. It is so valuable to the overall well-being of our lives. There are animals that sleep for much longer than 8-9 hours a day anyways so be thankful that we get 16 hours to be awake and alive.

Sleep.

sleepBaby

Choices are Everything

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Choices.

I went to the convenient store to grab a slushie and there was this man practically begging people for smokes. He was willing to give his ID for smokes… He begged me and I rejected.

1) I would never support someone smoking as it goes against my moral code.

2) This guy told me he has a full time job and yet cant get smokes? So either he is a liar or absolutely dreadful with money…

I cant get over this odd situation. People make choices; sometimes they are just bad.

Make good choices and think to yourselves “could I ever become a Macs store beggar from this decision?” Seems like a good start to questioning one’s actions ;)

Be More Intimate

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After looking over several studies stipulating the meaning of life and what is most important, I have found one clear-cut answer.

In Intimacy by Edward Crowther, 90% of terminally ill patients said that intimate relationships were, essentially, the meaning of life. One 50 year old mother of three, terminally ill with incurable cancer put it “You need not wait until you are in my condition to know nothing in life is as important as loving relationships“.

The answer is Intimacy and Connection with other human beings. Aside from the low percentage of damaged souls out there, we know how rewarding intimacy can be. It comes in three forms: Physical, Emotional, and Intellectual.

So if you’re feeling down on your luck, down on your life, down in the dumps, then find someone to hug, find someone to open up your feelings to, or find someone to have a healthy debate with. It will be rewarding to you, I guarantee it.

Don’t hate your life for the greatest tragedy is negativity.

Hug For Life

Can you control your chariot?

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Plato started by depicting every human as a intelligent, reasonable soul that must guide two strong horses. The problem lay in the fact that the horses wish for different things.

The first horse wants quick pleasure, this is where impulse and laziness comes in. This beast only wants the easy route to life every second of every day. The second horse is more powerful seeking a route of hard-work and pressure.

This makes a very difficult goal of balance and direction to achieve for the chariot driver…

Because of our cognitive capacities, it is as we are “divinely mad”. We are animals at the base, yet capable of so much more! This is where the conflict begins.

As the person to guide his chariot, it is up to you to have enough strength to beat the horses, or they will break the chariot.

Can you beat your horses into submission and achieve long-term success?

The God Apollo could tame his beasts and achieve Godliness. Can you?

The God Apollo could tame his beasts and achieve Godliness. Can you?

A Scientific Explanation of Impulse

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Have you ever been on a healthy diet, then been on the couch watching T.V and you suddenly get a craving for chips and you start to seriously contemplate getting said chips? Have you ever set your alarm clock wanting to get up at a decent time, yet when the alarm goes off, you shut it off and sleep just a little longer?

These examples, among uncountable others, operate under a hyperbolic discount function of simple ambivalence. What that means is that you firstly have two choices that are essentially clean-cut. You either get chips or you don’t. You either get up for the day or you sleep. This is simple ambivalence.

The second problem in these situations is the hyperbolic discount rate. We all place value on certain alternatives whether it be eating badly or eating healthy. In the long term, most of us can agree that eating healthy is far more rewarding, yet almost all of us give in to our cravings once and a while. This is because the hyperbolic discounting (getting pleasure from food immediately) becomes more valuable than the overall slowly occurring value of long-term health.

This preference of reversals can be calculated by the discount function below.

Hyperbolic Discount Rate (for the math lovers)

v = V/kD, where V is undiscounted value, k is a constant degree of discounting, and D is the time of Delay.

In situations where k is quite low, preference reversal such as clicking the snooze button, will never occur. Even with Delay being as low as possible (there is no delay), if k is low enough then a person will always choose the higher value route. Consider a person who likes both pill A and pill B (which both create happiness) but pill A is far better than Pill B (which lets say causes intense diarrhea). The person will always seek Pill A even if Pill B is immediately available.

As mentioned above, to regurgitate information, delay, as it lowers, makes the v (overall discounted value) higher. If k ( a difference of opinion between option one and option two where one is valued higher than the other ) isn’t inversely low enough, than preference reversal can occur.

Two paragraphs up I mentioned that clicking the snooze button is a preference reversal over past objective values. Whether a person presses the snooze button is determined on variables (within simple ambivalence) such as how tired they are and how close the alarm clock is to their bed. As a person is already refreshed and wants to get up (k is low), they will not click the snooze button even if it is within reaching distance. Commitments such as moving the alarm clock (increasing Delay to value of Sleep) can help convert the equation so the v is always chosen of the better long-term choice of getting up, in theory. However, if a person is SUPER tired, even if the delay (moving the alarm clock across the room) is high, they may very well still press the snooze and walk back to bed to sleep.

For the chip problem, it operates under the same domain. I love ketchup chips personally and I find it very hard to not cave to my craving of them at least once a week. When it comes time that I have a craving, I always consider a couple things that contribute to the hyperbolic equation. I first consider whether I have been good with my money for the week and whether I deserve it in that regards and how much effort it would take to get the chips (defining k) and how long it would take to finally  be eating the chips. If I have chips at my place already, there is no doubt in my mind that I will eat them as K is high and D is low. If the chips are a block away for 1.50 for a small bag, then I will consider it as k is moderate and D is moderately low. If I think I have been bad with my money (low k) and I shouldn’t go to the convenient store where they have high prices, I always consider going to the actual store to get a big bag for 3.00 which offers much more than double the amount of chips. However, I often never take this route as D is far too high. * This may seem like a lot of mental work but these occurrences are quickly happening within a minute of thinking about it within my mind.

^Considering this example however, most times I will get the bag of chips if the craving is strong enough. I can make many excuses and rationalization to achieve this. Some such rationalizations include “I worked out yesterday” or “I worked an extra hour at work”. It depends on many more variables than just a basic k and D discount rate.

This is where I will lead next into more complex ambivalence where choices, typically the long-term values, are less clearly defined and more difficult to put to a specific value and where making rationalizations can lead to impulsive decisions.

I challenge you: Consider some of these simple ambivalence situations when they occur.  Often times, you will know that the myopic choice is wrong and that you should stick to your long-term goals, yet you wont. However, if you record these occurrences, they may halt your impulsive actions. Recording them is one ‘trick’ to solving this myopic dilemma (which I will discuss in a different post).

Stop to Smell The Roses

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The presence is the essence of all that will ever be. The future is nothing until it becomes the present; that’s when it actually matters.

The days slip by and, although I progress, I’m whipping myself for more and more. It’s as if I try to escape time as a restraint. I am the over-bearing chariot rider who wishes to overwork his horses. The horses can’t seem to please the rider, no matter the speed and strength at which they are developing.

Taking a step back, I’ve adopted the spirit of personal competition; I will only compete with myself, I say. I didn’t lay out the rules for progress or happiness in this internalization of my competition but now I see the balance that must arise from them.

The past is merely a reflection in our mind, and I’ve been using day after day for progress but a true journey of Mastery in any sport will show times of Plateau after Plateau in which no progress is made. I had not realized this and my will was breaking.

I was losing the spirit of Life itself.

If anyone is to take anything, take a breath. Breathe. Our worlds are so vast and yet, so finite. Trying to accomplish so much in as little time as possible may not be the best approach to any world. This time may go quickly but “not stopping to smell the roses” is as much a crime as laziness.

This path of Life can show so many Truths! Breathe and let it in.

Stop and Smell The Roses

Have You Found Your Passion?

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What is passion? From people I have discussed with, we have found that passion is surrounded by a creation of boundless energy. This energy comes from seemingly nowhere, yet it rejuvenates the soul!

We all know that eating, drinking and exercising can promote energy and that these present themselves through the body, but what of passion?

Passion must then come from the mind! I hope you would agree with me when I say that passion is not energy created from the body, but from the mind. This has been talked about in many places online and I believe this as through my personal discoveries.

So I ask you again, what rejuvenates your mind, soul and spirit?

People ALWAYS told me to ‘find my passion’ and I tried very hard to search for it… I would ask them what it should feel like and they wouldn’t be able to articulate it, they would just say “you’ll know”. This was not very helpful but I now understand where they are coming from!

Passion is rejuvenation, yes, you should “know when it happens”, yes, but what does it feel like?

Passion feels like a soul that is complete. When a passion is undertaken, time should not matter. A passion eliminates any other concerns of the mind; it makes stress and worries the ghosts of a distant past.

It’s like riding the biggest wave like a pro; it’s like climbing Mount Everest without exerting any effort; it’s like never studying and getting 100% on everything. It’s the effortless reward.

Finding that energizing activity does not happen overnight, but whether you know it or not, you have probably dived into that great sea of effortless. The trick is to realize you’re swimming and make sure you don’t go back onto dry land, where energy is drained from the soul.

I’ll give you the first time I realized Philosophy was my calling. My friend wanted me to go to the bar with him at 11 PM; I was considering it until I remembered the groups I was going to start in college. I started speaking to myself imagining the questions people would ask me as I was presenting the idea to them about the club (ironically Philosophy club). I decided to tell my friend I wasn’t going to go with him. Instead, I spent TWO HOURS talking to imaginary people about the club and my passion of philosophy. After the two hours, at 1 AM, I was still not tired. I was actually feeling extremely ALIVE. THAT was the moment I realized I had found my Passion.

Can you find your effortless Mount Everest?

It’s in the Stars

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Last night, I was halted in my tracks; I was stopped dead.

It was a typical, cloudy day in Alberta and night was upon me as I went on a sugar-craved Slushie run. After I left the convenient store, I crossed the nearest street and then was on a narrow path back to my house, then I looked up.

Dead center in my view was the big dipper. I stopped thinking. I stopped breathing. There were no clouds blocking those stars. The clouds were blocking out much of the sky and yet I had the perfect view of the dipper.

I was in complete awe of this beauty for many seconds. Something so far away and yet still so beautiful. So perfectly lined up for my appreciation and entertainment.

And I think to myself: How can people look at the stars and still wage war and chaos?

We are part of a gigantic cycle. Everything organic lives and dies. Trillions of cycles constantly fading in and out of existence, and yet only man tries to create his own warped destinies.

I’m all for self-control but how can a human see the stars and not think “I’m part of something much larger than myself” or “Everything is so spectacularly unique, why do I thrust my own ego and pride so greatly?”

The woes of the adult human are great, but in consideration of the universe, we are but a spec of dust. Why spend time concerning ourselves with the evils (ego, control, power, hatred,) when we have been blessed with the opportunity for such powerful happiness?

 

 

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