Why do you?

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/11/why-do-you-do-what-you-dont-love/

Theoretically, if you know what you love, then every time you make a decision you’ll have a pretty damn clear idea if it’s taking you closer or further away from what you love. You’ll know the right thing to do. So self-love is a moral issue. It consists of doing the right thing, and nothing else.

~ David Cain

Ouch.

If you put it that way, that would me that all of my problems are my responsibility. There is, after all, nothing in my power beyond my reasoned choices.

Nothing.

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Keeping a notebook

(Part 73 of 73 in My Journey)

https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/11/19/joan-didion-on-keeping-a-notebook/

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.

~ Joan Didion

I have no idea who my 16-or-so-year-old self was. I recently found myself telling a long sequence of stories from that era. Who was that person? What were they thinking? …I have no idea.

And I don’t mean that looking at the facts, things don’t make sense. As in, “why would someone do that, in that situation.”

I mean: I have no recollection of what it felt like to be that person. That person—those experiences—don’t even feel real. It’s like there’s not even the least certainty that those memories aren’t just something loaded into my brain before it was booted up a few years ago.

Going back ten years—maaaybe 15 at most—I feel like that is still me. It’s like there’s a horizon and once an experience disappears over the horizon, all that’s left is a story.

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Taking an “anti-” stance is not a solution

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/01/how-to-make-trillions-of-dollars/

Even from a seemingly unempowered starting point — a budget apartment in some forgettable corner of a society that has been designed to make you sick and impotent — these traits will do more for you than any “Anti” stance you can think of. Hating the system is a favorite American pastime. It feels good, is difficult to stop once you start, and gets you precisely nowhere, not unlike eating Doritos. This is not us against them, it’s us for us.

~ David Cain

I don’t know about you. But it is definitely “me against me.” Not in the sense, “I need to conquer myself,” but in the sense, “I need to stop defeating myself.” What’s that old adage? …be kind for everyone you encounter is fighting a great battle? I need to learn that lesson, and I need to remember that the person I most often encounter is me.

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The frickin’ best sports writer on the planet

https://www.gapingvoid.com/content/uploads/assets/Moveable_Type/archives/001070.html

You get the job because you walk into the editor’s office and go, “Hi, I’m the best frickin’ sports writer on the planet.” And somehow the editor can tell you aren’t lying, either.

~ Jason Korman

It’s critical that you realize this works. It’s even more critical that you notice the “aren’t lying” caveat.

I’ve never liked the mantra, “fake it ’til you make it.” Don’t fake it! Just start working and start asking questions.

My favorite question is, “what would world-class look like?”

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Parkour floor

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/01/a-day-in-the-future/

We forget that what we have is more than what we need. Obscenely more. I know it may sound perverse, but here in the future people often feel like they need more than they have.

~ David Cain

There’s a sense of accomplishment in being prepared to sleep on the floor when traveling. There’s a sense of freedom in being able to carry a small backpack and live comfortably. I always knew this was at least partly due to knowing that I was prepared enough for important contingencies and free enough to roll with whatever comes up during the day.

But now I see that there’s a second dimension to why I enjoy it: The self-imposed hardship. Sometimes the floor is cold and drafty, sometimes there’s a cat (I’m allergic to cats), sometimes everyone stays up very late (I usually turn in around 9:30), sometimes I miss a meal, sometimes I don’t sleep much if there’s too much light, sometimes it’s noisy, … and so on. Still, I am invariably in a better mood than usual the morning after each of these choose-your-own-adventures-gone-bad. Cold, stiff, sneezy, tired … sure. But in a good mood. Well, that’s very interesting, now isn’t it?

I’m not making a call for you to take up Parkour-flooring. I’m only pointing out that when I occassionally reset my callibration by intentionally taking on some suffering, I’m invariably happier after.

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The devil always gets his due

https://www.gapingvoid.com/content/uploads/assets/Moveable_Type/archives/001117.html

Anyone can be an idealist. Anyone can be a cynic. The hard part lies somewhere in the middle i.e. being human.

~ Jason Korman

I’ve recently been on a run with posts about “balance” simply because that’s what I’m struggling with most these days. Confirmation bias then ensures I’m seeing things “about” balance everywhere.

realist: n., optimist with experience.

I’m not going to say the best place to be is always in the middle of a given spectrum. Actually, it’s not even perfectly clear to me that “idealist” and “cynic” are opposite ends of a spectrum; but I’ll run with that assumption for today. So given that acting from an entirely idealistic or cynical position is going to end badly… what can I take from that?

I think it’s pretty simple: Strive for the best, and plan for the worst. Running with that idea, I’ve been returning to my old, first step of my current journey: Self-awareness.

“Look, you’re freaking out. Simple fact.”

“Is this really the end of the world?”

“Is this maybe too far toward the cynical end of the spectrum?”

“Could I maybe do with a little less drama?”

“What if I turned around and looked back at what I’ve accomplished?”

“Would that at least bring me a little peace?”

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Deliberate way of living

http://zenhabits.net/deliberate/

Set intentions at the start. When you start your day, or any meaningful activity, check in with yourself and ask what your intentions are for the day or that activity. Do you want to be more present? Do you want to move your mission forward? Do you want to be compassionate with your loved ones? Do you want to practice with discomfort and not run to comfort? Set an intention (or three) and try to hold that intention as you move through the day or that meaningful activity.

~ Leo Babata

Long ago—maybe ten years?—this idea of setting intentions made a huge impact on my life. I’ve talked about first learning the twin skills of self-awareness and self-assessment as the first steps on my journey. Once I began developing those skills, I was able to begin setting intentions and that lead to the long period of growth I’ve recently been experiencing.

But there’s a problem, or at least there’s a problem for me. Once I started down the road of setting intentions I’ve fallen prey to a vicious cycle. Practicing continuous improvement by setting intentions and assessing progress makes me focus forward, treating my intentions at targets before me. I used to think the “focus forward” part of that was a good thing. After all, it clearly has led me on a long journey of improvement.

I set good intentions which force me out into my un-comfort zones and it turns out that I usually don’t quite reach the goals. If I do reach a goal, then I realize I could have set a better goal by stretching for a farther intention. In that way, every assessment ends up reporting that I fell short, didn’t make it, didn’t live up, didn’t achieve, didn’t succeed, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t… and that leads to a dark place.

Recently I’ve been more intentional about what intentions I set.

(That’s a red flag right there; I’m still intentions based.)

None the less, I’ve been trying to set easier-to-achieve intentions so that I can check off more wins. I find this very hard to do since it feels like artificially lowering the bar so I can cheer-lead myself away from the dark place. Worse, this is still looking forward and assessing progress made towards goals.

I wonder what would happen if I could manage to turn around, make progress towards the goals, (they now being behind me,) while staring back at the INSANE MOUNTAIN OF AMAZING THINGS I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED?

Maybe I should try that for a while?

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One who acts naturally

One who tries to stand on tiptoe cannot stand still. One who stretches his legs too far cannot walk. One who advertises himself too much is ignored. One who is too insistent on his own view finds few to agree with him. One who claims too much credit does not get even what he deserves. One who is too proud is soon humiliated. These are condemned as extremes of greediness and self-destructive activity. Therefore, one who acts naturally avoids such extremems.

~ the Book of Tao

Ten-years and About that “diet”…

(Part 72 of 73 in My Journey)

Recently a friend of mine emailed me and asked, “Hey Craig, tell me about that diet you went on a few years ago.” He was referring to what I did from ~2008 to ~2016—the photos above were taken in 2008 and 2016. Below is my response and this just happens to all coincide with the “ten year challenge” currently all over social media.


I did a few things. Each of these took a few months of trying/fiddling until they felt comfortable.

I tried to avoid refined carbs like the plague; I tried to eliminate all added sugar, all refined grain (bread, pasta, etc), and even eliminated granola which was a go-to breakfast staple (with plain yogurt). What really happened was that it forced me to become aware of the carbohydrates I was eating. I still ate pasta and bread and even sweets, but by focusing on, “I am the type of person who eats fish, meat and veggies,” I was able to shift my diet significantly. I started to make choices such as, “if I’m going to eat pasta, I’m not eating shitty pasta, I’m going to my favorite Italian restaurant so I really enjoy it.” I did not count calories. This was not fun as I [in my opinion] was addicted to the blood sugar spikes from eating a lot of carbohydrates. Shifting my dietary balance had the effect of changing my energy metabolism; it caused changes in my liver function and cellular mitochondria performance.

After many months of that, I next worked on my addiction to eating. I started intermittent fasting. (Without consulting my doctor I just jumped all in.) I did (and still do, many years later) “16/8” intermittent fasting; meaning I’m fasting 16 hours-a-day, and permit myself an 8-hour “feeding window.” (Aside: What I now call ‘normal human eating.’) The way I like to do this is to aim for consuming no food after about 7:30pm. That makes it easy to have a normal dinner, including social eating which is super important to me. Then I basically don’t eat breakfast. Around 11:30, (16 hours after 7:30 the previous day,) I have my break-fast while everyone else is calling it “lunch.” Most people never notice I’m doing this. I could talk for hours about intermittent fasting. BE CAREFUL with this; you can faint, or have low-blood sugar problems depending on how wacked your metabolism is.

It’s important to note that I did the above things separately, one after the other. My reading indicated that reducing carbohydrate intake would force my cells to up-regulate all the cellular processes for burning fat—my own pre-installed fat. So my “lower carbohydrates” work was in preparation for the intermittent fasting work. If I was planning to not eat for 16 hours, my body will have to switch to mobilizing the fat from fat cells; the liver has to be able to put glucose into my blood stream from stored-like-a-battery glycogen in the liver, and from glucose created chemically from other substrates. Those in particular were cellular processes that I was hardly using for decades, when I was always-eating and eating lots of carbohydrates.

So the big picture for me was to change my energy metabolism—to recover my [natural, normal, hey humans are awesome] ability to run on various fuels, (be that carbohydrates, protein, or fat I put in my face, or the pre-installed fat.) I did that by first reducing carbohydrates, and then starting to fast.

I’ve written some of my thoughts up on my web site, but it’s all scattered about. Let me know if you want more information on any of the above and I can give you more and point you to specific resources. If you want to learn more, start with my health or self-improvement tags.

All that said…

I’M INSANELY HAPPY I DID ALL THE ABOVE.

I can train like a machine all morning, not having eaten—in fact, if I eat I feel worse when I try to work hard. I’m considering using longer fasts (days, even up to a week) because there are long-term benefits seen in some studies; fast for a week, have improved blood markers for months. But this is definitely out in the land of, “I’m experimenting on myself.” (If you want to learn about long-term fasts, check out Peter Atia’s podcast, The Nothing Burger, it’s a long discussion of a one-week long fast he did with insane amounts of medical science.)

Finally—this is subtle but important—I did not intentionally increase my physical activity. It was not, “I’m exercising to get in shape.” My activity level spontaneously went up in response to feeling better. “I feel like running 2 miles,” is a thought I now have [sometimes] and now I can go run just for fun. It’s a virtuous cycle though; I feel better, I feel like more activity, I feel more better, I feel like more activity, …

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