#1 Reason why everyone should have a blog

Icarus

… is not because your life is of particular importance to any one or several persons.

Don’t get me wrong,  you might have a very interesting life, and your niche as a anti-violence martial artist/trilingualsea-farer/bartending vegan vampire could most certainly draw the crowds. Or your expertise in ancient lemur mating rituals could tell an internet nomad exactly what he wants to know.

But that’s not why you should get a host and start bangin’ away on that keyboard.

The real reason? Because blogging is exercise for your brain like weight lifting and running is for your body.

Think about it – you don’t get fit by sitting on your butt, right? Yes, you can lose weight by consuming below your basal metabolic rate, and yes, you get healthy by eating the right kinds of foods.

But those methods don’t get you fit – they don’t prepare you for a test of endurance or strength. They don’t increase your chances of escaping a thief or moving a couch by yourself.

(Forgive the lengthy metaphor, but) Your brain works the same way. If you stop learning, stop asking questions, stop analyzing, it’s the equivalent of sitting on a couch and staring at the wall.

And it gets worse when we talk about “nutrition” of the brain. While the internet is awesome for stimulating your thoughts and creativity, it’s hard to weed out the junk food as well: “processed” or (as Austin Light puts it) regurgitated material that does the heavy thinking for us, or information “empty” of correct facts and interpretations.

Blogging keeps you searching for content, looking for something to write about, to think about, to create an angle uncommon or unheard of.

And your blog should be for you, for your cognitive and creative development, for your personal gain. Everything else should be extra. Think of it as a free gym membership for your brain: it’s not a “should” but a “get to”. It’s a challenge that brings a reward like no other.

Blog on, my friends.

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Slacking

I’ve totally been slacking on my Google Reader and blogging goals – what’s the point of having them if I refuse to look at them sometime during the month?!

The reason I bring this up is that I just began to go through the piles of posts and articles I have saved that I want to read. Apparently, I’ve used up ALL of the space on my hard drive and can’t save anything else until I clear some of it out. Who’d have thought that I’d be a packrat even in the digital world?

But really, this goes along with what I’ve been thinking about lately: how incredibly difficult, time consuming but incredibly satisfactory it is to know things. I’m talking about everything here, whether you’re in college or a new place or sitting with a stranger at the airport. I have no other reason to consume media save to sate my personal greed for knowledge.

Is this an ok way to live?

Minimalist Pursuit

Perhaps I’ve been largely offline for too many years, but this minimalism movement caught me off guard the first few times I was looking for interesting bloggers.

Wasn’t minimalism simply a style of art, a way to excuse my apartment’s lack of furniture, an Ikea room model pact?

The more I looked into it, the more I read on it (there is no lack of minimalist literature out there, ironically!) the I realized that it wasn’t only about physical things, wasn’t limited to your physical possessions, your lifestyle or even your furniture arrangement.

Minimalism is a mindset, and I only truly realized this just the other day.

I’m reading a wonderful book by Mars Hill pastor Rob Bell, entitled Velvet Elvis. I’ve gotten a ton out of it (I’m an obsessive notetaker) but this insight was truly life-changing:

“Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God has made you to be.”

To me, there is nothing more minimalistic than this.

Whether you believe in God or not (call it destiny, realism, the real person you were born as) just think about it: Is there anything as simple, as incredibly minimalistic and so absolutely crucial to our existence?

Maybe I’m looking too much into this, but just imagine if you only had one goal in life, one sole passion that led to infinite destinations, manifested in countless other passions that you didn’t have to search for but were carefully fitted perfectly to you by the one who made you?

I’d like to say that this works in conjunction with (rather than against) the what Jeffrey Tang calls ‘self-reliance minimalism’. While his is a more secular view, I couldn’t agree more with his philosophy: I am not only sufficient as a person, but there’s no one in the world (myself included!) I have to prove it to.

It’s the out existence distilled into the smallest possible form, the critical mass for a theory of the purpose of life.

Anything less and it wouldn’t encompass the magnitude of the charge. Anything more would distract from the essentials.

What would life look like if your only goal was to live as you – you as an individual, as a single human being, with absolutely unique passions and gifts and choices – were meant to?

Inaugural November Goal Meet-up

First time to the meetup – hey everyone and thanks for visiting!

November Goals

  1. Train four times a week (like I paid for!)
  2. Volunteer once this month (start off slow)
  3. Apply for one scholarship a day
  4. Keep up with my google reader (don’t let them pile up)
  5. Blog twice a week
  6. Send in one piece a week (I don’t care where, just submit!)

 

Since this is my first meet up, I don’t have October goals to look back on, but here’s a few off the top of my head:

  1. Find martial arts gym and go to it yay Boxx Warriors Muay Thai!
  2. Get up on time (failed… miserably)
  3. Get info for volunteering
  4. Work with publications at the high school
  5. Finish Catch 22

 

Wow – I haven’t sat down to simply write up what I plan to do in a month in a very long time! I used to do it more often – sometimes daily, actually! Be it self improvement, personal goals or career milestones, I’ve always liked to keep track of where I want to go, how I got there and when I arrived. Yes, I was that yuppie student with checkboxes next to absolutely everything in her planner.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves checking things off lists, but I think I’ve overdone it at times. It’s those feelings of invincibility, of accomplishment – the almost tangible load lifting off my shoulders, removing itself from my mental tornado of ideas and reminders.

But I had to stop, for that part of my life, anyway.

I realized I was basing my self-worth too closely on whether those boxes got checked off or not. It was like I was only somebody if I got to the end of my (sometimes impossible) list – if I didn’t, I was scum.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. We’re pressured to produce something, to accomplish something – be it writing a paper or coming up with a bombshell marketing idea – in order to feel good about ourselves. And quite frankly, it’s hard for us to think in any other currency – what other yardstick do we have?

So why I participating in this month’s meet up? Self hatred? Addiction to negativity? Simple love of misery-wallowing?

I guess the only way I can put it is that I can’t beat myself up about not getting temporary goals done, simply because the primary reason I want to work on myself is so I can improve the world around me.

So what other yardstick do we have? The one examining how we helped each other, improved our environment, left the world better than how we found it.

For me, I better myself with the aim of bettering my chances of bettering my surroundings. (Chew on that for a minute!)

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”   -Pericles

Rest

Something that has been going through my head recently popped up on one of my favorite Ning networks, 20 Something Bloggers:

“I love way too many things.”

You may laugh at it’s simplicity, but there is no other way to say it. It’s not that we have too much on our plates, but we want to have too much on our plates.

Why, you ask?

It makes us feel productive.

As backwards as it sounds, we feel like we’re wasting our time if we’re not running around, crazily writing this and filming that and talking to this person for that project and scheduling that appointment there before we have to go to that function and…

… And the list goes on.

Why can’t we bite of simply what we can chew? Why are we so driven to succeed? Is success ever really attainable?

And I’m not saying we shouldn’t push ourselves – we absolutely should. That’s the only way we realize our potential, know ourselves, improve ourselves. But we need a break, and we need to to be ok with that.

Why are we so uncomfortable with down time? Why must we always be doing something?

Why can’t we let life happen, instead of trying to force it?

Rest is a crucial part of training, not the abselce of it.

Authenticity

I’m sick of being preached at. I’m sick of reading posts about how I can take my blog to the next level, sick of hearing the top 5 best uses for social media or the 6 types of blog posts. I don’t want to listen to more suggestions about “having the best life now”, don’t want to put up with more promises for writing/designing/advertising/blogging success.

I’m just sick of it.

What I’m coming to learn is that there are no shortcuts. The difference between soaking and doing is cavernous. We know when someone lives out their words by reading between the lines, know if they’re just regurgitating popular subjects and pretending to have it all together.

There’s only so much you can do by reading and soaking up tips and information. Jumping from plan to plan (like I have) will NOT work – how can it, when you give it a day before the next “big idea” comes along?

What’s hard is that we know this is how we work. (Or at least I do). Why do we keep falling for their marketing ploys?

We keep hoping there’s some quick fix, some miniscule piece we’re missing. As soon as we correct it, everything will fall into place – life will be good.

Right?

We CAN have it all – just get out your calendar

We have all the methods – the self-help literature, the free ebooks, the insightful advice from professionals and ameuteurs alike – but what I keep hearing is that we don’t know what to go after (Newsweek “we can do anything so what do we do”, GET MORE)

Why is it so hard to decide what we want? (And saying “Everything!” does not count) When we have a car, know what road to take and can drive, why is the first step – that of picking a destination – often the first and only obstacle we reach?

Because we can have it all.

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait… what?” Let me explain.

We’ve been told we can have it all, we’ve seen examples of people who seem to have it all, and most of us believe we can at least come close to having it all. The result? We go after it all at the same time or freeze up because we feel like the one we choose first will be designated more important than the others.

What we (I say ‘we’ because I’ll be the first to admit that I often take on WAY more than I can safely chew) need to do is choose something and stick with it. This means giving each endeavor the attention and consistency it needs to succeed. This means not “squeezing it in” between everything else you’re doing and coninually working on it.

Give your project a chance to succeed.

Nothing is enjoyable and fun and charismatic all the time. (Hence the whole “work-life balance” fad we’ve been seeing in the blogs recently) and, unfortunately, young people have a reputation for dropping projects and responsibilities when the going gets less interesting, let alone tough.

Dory has it right: Just keep swimming.