Tuesday, August 23, 2016


words are just words, right ? but what does that even mean ? words are hugely important. they convey meaning, ideas, feelings, intentions.. without them, our society would be very different, for better or worse.

one word that i've been scrutinizing for myself is 'SHOULD' . i've become more conscious of it, more aware of how frequently it automatically exits my mouth. someone told me that when we tell ourselves or others that we/they 'should' do something, we are on some level implying shame, trying to shame ourselves or others into behaving more like we think they/we ought to. is this true ? i'm not sure. the hard thing about making or evaluating claims of unconscious intention is that they are more or less unverifiable. I cannot really exclude the possibility that I unconsciously intended something, because it is, by definition, not known to me.

all this to say, i have been engaging this on two levels. i am more aware of my use of this word. when I say it, i hear it. sometimes i catch myself and select a different word or phrase to communicate more or less equal meaning without the 'should' . so far i have found positive results in doing so.
the other thing i'm doing is looking back and examining the things that I always have said that i should be doing , or to a lesser extent, things that I wish i could be doing . there are two major things that immediately jumped out at me, and i have taken action on those items.
i hesitate somewhat to discuss them, because i have a personal prejudice about people bragging or showcasing their positive deeds.
examples of this would be adopting/rescuing a pet and going to the gym. i removed myself from most realms of social media because it was rife with this sort of thing.
is my personal prejudice 'legitimate'? or am i just a judgmental jerk? probably the latter. we all have our pet annoyances, this is one of mine. and i fully accept and acknowledge that it is probably more about my personal insecurities or hangups than others. i'm probably on some level threatened by the dog rescuers and gym goers. the problem is usually me. so instead of lashing out at this sector of the culture, i just quietly and without fanfare exited facebook several years ago. 2012 maybe? 2011? not even sure. is that a humblebrag?

in any case, one of the changes i made involves the food i eat. for quite some time i had been saying that i wanted to return to a way of eating that i once adhered to. but i felt that it was too impractical given that no one around me eats that way. and certainly there was part of me that was reluctant to give up the ephemeral pleasures found in the standard american diet. i will certainly acknowledge that. however, on a deeper level the choices i was making were not consistent with my core values and identity, and this schism was causing me stress. stress, anxiety, tension.. whatever it was, it was present, and it contributed to some overall badness that i am actively trying to purge from my life. the overall badness is weighing me down, and it isn't going away on its own, or with pills, or through any act of external intervention (divine or otherwise).

the other change i've made involves meditation. this is such a charged topic these days i feel. there is a tidal wave of McMindfullness sweeping the nation, and i'm sure people are sick of it. and i'm sure people are sick of being talked down to.
i mention this though because i want to share some of what i have found. and i'll get to that.
but for years, truly YEARS i was constantly telling myself i should meditate. i would feel GUILT for not doing it. i would tell anyone that i was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that if i could just get off my ass and sit on my ass and meditate, everything in my life would measurably improve.
eventually, finally, i just sat down and did it. this year. some time in june of 2016. i don't remember the day, or even the experience. doesn't matter. because nothing happened. but isn't that the point?
slowly but surely i am making some progress though. i don't do it every single day, but i do it most days. the benefits are slow to realize, but I can say, for what it is worth, that i plan to continue this practice indefinitely.

to anyone who wishes to begin such a practice, i want to recommend a few things, because there is a veritable minefield out there of information that is not all equally useful.

these two guided meditations are my favorites so far:
9 minute guided meditation by sam harris
26 minute guided meditation by sam harris

an additional resource that seems to hold a large amount of content, the likes of which i have only begun to explore. it seems useful, and free of pretentious beanbaggery: UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center's free guided meditations

that's all for now. a long list of recommendations is less useful than a short one, i feel. the main point i was trying to make with all of this is really that i am feeling very good about having actually accomplished something that was always within my reach, but i just didn't do it. until i did. then i was glad. the inspiration for this came from The Minimalists podcast, where in one episode they spoke of turning one's "shoulds" into "musts" . that was the tipping point for me. a number of other factors likely coalesced to bring about the conditions where all it took was hearing the right thing at the right time, but i am nonetheless grateful to the Minimalists for that message, and really all of their messages, which have been the catalyst for me making several meaningful changes in my life.

enough of this. i started this post without a clear idea of where it was going, and i've got several things i want to accomplish before leaving for work. thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

origin of the name of the blog

"Being stuck in the cross-fire of polarized attitudes can leave us internally divided on our own values and ethos, wallowing in a mire of cognitive dissonance between our beliefs and actions."

That is from the introduction to the book "Enough" by Patrick Rhone. The introduction was written by James Shelly.

It struck a chord with me, and prompted me to create this blog. I haven't solidified my intentions with this yet, but I know there are some things I want to articulate, if only for myself. If "you" or anyone else finds what follows to be interesting, valuable, or otherwise beneficial, all the better.