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It’s easy

January 20, 2017

It’s easy to condemn others. It’s difficult to go out among them and understand them.

It’s easy to stand in one place. It’s difficult to step out into the world and see the unknown.

It’s easy to lose hope in the world. It’s difficult to go out into the world and give it hope.

On a day like today, let’s pursue what is difficult.

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Before you bend the rules…

January 19, 2017

Before you bend the rules, follow them.

You can’t know the full capacity of your creativity until you understand and embrace your constraints.

Said another way, chronic rule breaking makes you a nuisance. But mindful rule bending, after first understanding the why behind those rules, makes you resourceful.

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In the arena

January 18, 2017

If you’re in a particularly challenging stage in your life and navigating your way towards a difficult goal, you’ll undoubtedly encounter resistance. Whether this resistance comes from enemies, critics, or unsupportive peers, remember that it’s you who’s chosen to take bold steps.

You’re the one in the arena.

Consider the following words from Theodore Roosevelt,

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Strive valiantly, dare greatly, and know victory.

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Stand

January 17, 2017

Stand up for something.

When you stand, those that are seated will see you for who you are. You’ll see out into the multitudes ahead of you, and you’ll discover how large the crowd really is.

When you’re seated, you can’t fall down or rise to your full height. Those around you will block your view.

So stand.

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How to increase your capacity for doing good

January 16, 2017

Open your mind to other perspectives

Everyone has lived a story you’ve never heard. Spend time listening and empathizing with other ways of thinking; you don’t have to abandon your own views and beliefs to accept someone else’s.

Multiply your skills

Improve your writing, learn to code, take a woodworking class, take up public speaking opportunities. Skills such as these not only can improve your career, but also provide new opportunities to donate your time and experience to work that matters.

Get out of debt

Your money’s no good if it’s already spoken for by banks and lenders. Debt constricts our ability to give generously, and with the added stress of debt payments, your focus is easily shifted away from joy and gratitude.

Declutter

Following the tracks of the Minimalist movement, make a decision to minimize the belongings in your life that don’t bring joy or value. Many of us are burdened by too much stuff. Choosing to sell or donate those superfluous belongings lowers stress and may reveal the things that really matter in life. With this realization, gratitude grows, and with gratitude comes an increased desire and capacity for doing good for others.

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Digital decluttering

January 14, 2017

Over the past few years, my wife and I have steadily made our way towards a minimalist lifestyle. We got rid of our second car, paid off all our debt, and downsized our stuff to fill a one-bedroom apartment (a side-effect of moving to a small town in California).

Even after purging much of our stuff, I still feel mentally overwhelmed from time to time. But instead of this feeling coming from an overload of stuff, I’ve realized that most of my frustration stems from an unhealthy relationship with my electronics. My phone is never out of reach, and it’s the first thing I do each morning. I literally adjust my morning vision with the help of my phone screen.

It’s a miserable addiction. Digital overload is a real thing.

Digital Minimalism

I’ve realized the answer to my mental overload may be in taking a minimalist approach with my digital space, or digital minimalism.

Here’s how Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, defines digital minimalism:

Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.

In an effort to define my priorities and use tools that are most valuable to my life, I’ve made the following changes:

  • I took the step of completely deleting my Instagram account, leaving only a single personal social media account—Twitter.
  • I’ll be limiting the Twitter accounts I follow to around 30. Any more than that, and I find myself not reading my timeline at all.
  • I’ll be keeping my LinkedIn account to allow me to vet new candidates for my team and connect with former colleagues.
  • I’m currently at Inbox Zero.

With these steps in place, I’m making my way towards digital minimalism, a natural extension of living a life with less, but better.

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