Thursday, January 24, 2013

Questing for Knowledge

So I've found that a lot of times, learning new things is a great way to find inspiration and motivation. I've always been fond of quirky little tidbits of information, whether it be about history, science, nature, you name it. I guess you could say I'm a student of everything. Okay, I really hate math, so you probably won't be seeing me crack open an Algebra book any time soon. My point is, knowledge of the things around us is important to me. The various ways in which we can find them is amazing. 

For the last year or so I've been a subscriber to Vsauce. It's a channel that's all about knowledge. Now the guy that runs it has several channels devoted to fun and interesting things available all across the internet, but his main focus is imparting knowledge. He shows an enthusiasm and thrill for what he's doing that makes learning infectious and fun. Here's an example of his work. 

I seriously could listen to this guy all day long. If my science classes in high school were this interesting I might have become a scientist. My point is, knowledge is a wonderful thing and you never know where you can get it. Keeping an open mind about learning is a great way to expand your mind and invite contemplation about the world around us and existence as a whole. If I'm not learning something new I feel like I'm stagnating. Personal improvement has always been important to me, finding knowledge is a vital key to that improvement, at least in my view. 

Do you hunger for knowledge? At the very least, learning little bits of knowledge will help you out when watching Jeopardy. Seriously, people don't like watching that show with me because I answer way too many of the clues. They think I'm a genius. Well, I'm not, I just pay attention and soak up information like a sponge. What about you?

Questions and Comments are welcome. Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How Do You Deal With The In Between Time?

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

I heard a story once where someone said “Live the dash”. The sentiment here comes from the notion that when you die, your grave stone would say something like 1975-2075. That little dash in the middle encompasses all of your life: every little thing, every big thing, every sadness, every joy, all your relationships and accomplishments, the failures and triumphs, the crushing defeats and the wonderful experiences, all you’ve ever known and all you will ever do. The advice here was to live that dash to its fullest, with the deepest of meanings and the greatest appreciation possible. That’s a pretty nice sentiment isn’t it? But I’m wondering something. Not every moment of your life is a mind-blowing experience of joy, or a heart wrenching assault of painful sorrow. You can’t fill every moment with some really cool experience, it’s just not possible. Even if you tried (which might be cool for a while), you’d be exhausted and need some down time anyway. No, what I’m thinking about is those moments, those days or weeks, even years perhaps where what you want and what you are striving for are still in the distance.

The day-to-day minutiae of your mission might not be exciting, or news worth, hell it might even seem boring. Working hard for a goal at times may seem arduously tedious. So in that situation, how do you relish the time you’re spending when it’s so banal? For me, I’ve noticed that sometimes I’ll daydream of that better day, imagining just when things get better or when I actually do achieve that forthcoming milestone. For example, writing my thesis was in fact the hardest academic endeavor I ever undertook. Let me tell you, I went through so many reviews I thought I was going to go insane. I read and re-read that thing so many times I knew the narrative by heart and could recite it without even reading it. So even though I knew the entire endeavor was worth it, that tedium seemed a bit much to try and appreciate as having great value. Obviously the work was necessary, but it’s hard to live that dash in a situation like that. So I imagined the finished product, the final version of my thesis and how awesome it would be. Doing that got me through. I guess in that case my daydreaming really paid off. Daydreaming can’t always be the answer, but is it realistic to think there’s a simple answer to dealing with tedium and boredom on your way to living the dash? Probably not, and my guess is a lot of trial and error is necessary to find the proper answer.

I do know one thing, concentrating on the negative aspects of your ‘down time’ is never going to help. The one constant in life is change. Regardless of whether or not you want to, you will change, physically, mentally, emotionally; it’s a product of being a living being in a dynamic society. That’s why the dull drums and boring minutiae of life are not things to concentrate on while you are striving toward your goals and living your mission. They won’t last. But they will change, whether you seek it or not. If you can recognize that change fast enough, well, you just might be able to make ‘living the dash’ something someone will want to write about in your obituary. And by the way, it just might make your life’s experience that much more awesome. Who wouldn’t want that?

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are always welcome.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Can We Learn From Silence?

When you remove the noise and chatter of life, when you remove the distractions and supposed responsibilities, when you quiet the hustling cacophony and mind numbing drivel, what do you have?  Turn off the TV, turn off the cell phone, shut the windows, click off the radio and close the door. When you pause from your day-to-day routine and allow the silence to embrace you, let the agitation of everything fall away, let yourself relax and listen to your mind as it unwinds from the unnerving tension you constantly battle. What do you hear?

Can you relax enough to allow your deep inner voice to express itself? So often our ‘responsibilities’ get in the way of our selves. We are more than or jobs, our bills, our possessions. We are our hopes, our dreams, and our passions. Or at least we should be. Some people swear by meditation, others call it prayer; others encapsulate their mental decompression in yoga, or Tai chi. Some people just sleep. It's the release from mental oppression that those people seek, and sometimes find. That release is worth pursuing. But, too often the world demands more than we can give, and like petulant youngsters, we insist on trying to rise to that demand, not realizing that we cast away our true passions for the rat race that is today’s society.

If you were to just listen to your inner voice in that silent void you created, would it speak to you? Would you listen if it did? What if you heard that inner voice tell you a truth you didn’t want to accept or confront, would it then be something you could heed? Distractions have a way of blinding us. They take away the mind’s eye’s ability to see what is truly important. I find myself constantly reminding myself that I am in this journey of life racing only against myself. Yes, I can use others as a guide, role model, inspiration, but I desperately try not to compare myself to others. When I do, invariably I start to feel less successful, less capable, and less able. Although, sometimes I can see just how much better I’ve done than others, and it makes me feel undeservedly superior. Listening to my silent void I constantly hear one very specific thing: You can do better.

I’m not a perfectionist; I’m not a workaholic; I’m not a crazed fanatic. I see others that are so driven by one obsessive goal they forsake almost everything else for their prize. I can’t do that, but I do have goals. I’m on a mission, however. I have dreams; getting published, finding true love, financial independence, freedom to travel, gaining knowledge and enlightenment, but none of them are obsessively dominant. Some might say I’m well rounded. Am I better than those obsessively driven alpha types or are they better than me? When I sit and listen to the silence I don’t hear their voices, I don’t see their dreams, and I don’t feel their passions. I feel mine.

In the end, the silence tells me that I alone exist in my mind. Cognito ergo sum as Rene Descartes would say. That’s the beginning. Fortunately, if you listen to the silence, you might learn what direction to take next. Are you listening?

Picture credit goes to: Blue energy tornado by Juri Hahhalev,

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are welcome?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Attack of the Resolutionists

Every year I hope it doesn’t come. Every year I hope against hope that the inevitable will somehow be avoided and peace will reign. I cross my fingers, watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop and pray that the Resolutionists won’t come, I pray that this year will be the year we are spared their terrible onslaught, but they always come. Once that clock strikes midnight, millions of Americans are infected with the Resolution virus and spawn a mass army of New Year joy fueled “This year I’m going to…” mania. They amass as a unified force to invade the common person’s stomping grounds and take over. 

You’ll notice them immediately. Once normal coworkers or friends will be reading some new book, touting some new diet, packing a strange lunch they must concoct in the break room; they’ll begin telling you all about the virtues and minutia of gym workouts and how amazing it is getting up an hour early to go for a three mile run. You may notice a group of them flocked together to go for a mid day lunch walk while you’re at work. They huddle together while they dominate the sidewalk but charge ahead like brain starving zombies on a quest to find fresh meat. The produce section of supermarkets will appear to have been ransacked leaving nothing but a few bruised gala apples, some smashed grapes and of course the eggplant (does anyone know how to cook them properly). Oddly enough the broccoli is usually the first to be devoured, and if you ask me that’s just fine. Resolutionists deserve that bit of torture ;-)

One place you’ll be able to spot a Resolutionist is at the gym. One of the most frequent accompanying phrases to the “This year I’m going to…” battle cry is “go to the gym more often,” much to my chagrin. See I’ve been a devout weight trainer for years. I do in fact stick with it. So you can imagine my frustration in January and February (sometimes into March for the truly fanatical Resolutionist) when the floor of the gym is inundated with newly christened health nuts bent on questing for a perfect Greek body, but lacking any common sense or any basic knowledge of body building techniques, or basic gym etiquette for that matter. I’ve found it humorous and infuriating all at the same time watching these people struggle at something they’ve ill-prepared themselves for. 

Trust me, at 12:01 am, January 1st, on whatever year it may be saying “This year I’m going to go to the gym more often,” is nowhere near enough prep time to truly set yourself up for success. Off handed motivational decrees usually wind up on the mental rubbish heap specifically because they were rash, off the cuff quips. Yes they may have meant it when they said it, but Resolutionists lack proper motivation, resolve, and persistence. Therein lies their greatest weakness; like the may fly, the Resolutionist has a very short shelf life. By late winter, early spring their mass army has been decimated by pizza, tacos, TV, the couch, and lethargy. Temptation is their mortal enemy, and it destroys every Resolutionist army every year without fail. For the Resolutionist, as initially motivated as they are, simply cannot win. They are destined to lose because in their minds the first failure is their ultimate defeat. They fail, pack it in, and call it a year.

In response to this horrible onslaught we suffer every year, I call on you to rise up, not as a Resolutionist, but as a Healthinista! Devote yourself to overall health, mind, body, soul, perspective. Base your actions on overall life goals, mapped out for the improvement of all aspects of your life, not just some whimsical “This year I’m going to…”decree. Start slow, start right, get informed, and keep at it even if you fail. In fact if you fall off the wagon get right back up. Revel in your own persistence to keep trying even though the first or even tenth time you’re still trying to get it right. Motivate yourself through your failures to try again, Each time. Rise up, take charge of your life and help defeat the mediocre armies of the Resolutionists!

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are always welcome. 

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...