Wednesday, December 30, 2020

When Doing Nothing is a Mistake



We can do the right thing, we can do the wrong thing or we can do nothing. In each cases, our decision will have an impact even when that decision is "doing nothing". Doing nothing, in some cases, is the right thing to do but if we do nothing because of fear, or laziness, then that decision can turn into regret with time.

I certainly have a lot of experience with this being a relatively shy person. I can point plenty of times when I've decided to do nothing only to regret those decisions later on. I've lost relationships, career opportunities and potentially life changing experiences over the simple decision of doing nothing.

Doing nothing is comfortable but only in the moment. Since I have a lot of experience with this, I would argue that doing the wrong thing is more favorable than doing nothing because even if you make the wrong decision at least you tried and you've likely learned something valuable in the process - more so than if you had done nothing.

This is for me more so than you - Be more decisive.




Wednesday, December 23, 2020

I'm Not Good at Gossip



It recently dawn on me that I'm not good at the gossip game and often end up putting other people in trouble as a result of that. I'm a good listener which make people open up to me but I know there's going to be trouble as soon as they start saying something like "don't tell this person this but..." The trouble is I often end up telling that other person the very thing that I wasn't supposed to tell them. 

Why do I do this? I do it without realizing, I do it because I forget I'm not supposed to tell this particular thing. 
Now, before you start telling me I'm a bad person, I'm pretty vocal about my hate of gossip, and my complete dis-interest in it, but people choose to confine in me anyway - the risk is their own.

Gossip serves no purpose other than to, perhaps, provide a temporary relief to the person sharing it. The only thing I can think about, when people gossips with me, is what are they saying about me when I'm not around?

I hate gossip and if you choose to gossip with me then you should know that I have this flaw.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Max And Pookie - Life Lessons



Both of my dogs are of the shy type but Max (Black/White - Male) is more outgoing than Pookie(Brown/White - Female) and I've learned a lot by observing them.

When Pookie was young she would pee at the mere sight of a new face. While she's outgrown this, she's still the shy girl and misses out much of the joys of being a dog as a result of it. You'll rarely find her in the main areas of the house as she prefer the peace and quiet of her hideouts - only coming out when she wants attention, food, or to go outside.
Max, while shy, acts more like a normal dog than Pookie does. He always wants to be where the action is at and I would argue that his experience, as a dog, is more enjoyable.

It's not difficult to see the relationship between these two dogs and humans. There are people that tend to prefer solitudes, either because they truly enjoy it or because of shyness, and others that enjoy being where the action is at. Both are going through the same experience of being human but one may be living it a bit more fully than the other. 
Regardless of the type of life that you decide to live it's important to note that life is, painfully, short and will end the same way whether it be in the comfort of your house or on an adventure and, as far as we know, we only get to be human once... make the most of it.

As far as Max & Pookie goes, they're the best dogs in the world and are currently living their elder years. The thought of loosing them is painful to me but also a reminder to make the most out of the time we have left together.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

We Could All Use Diplomacy



Diplomacy is the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way. It's a skill that many, including myself, lack. It's most often associate with politics but it really is a skill everyone should understand and get better at - it's the core of dealing with people.

I've spent a great deal of my 20s focused on self-improvement and, obviously, diplomacy was a subject that came up from time to time. I arrogantly believed that I was a fairly diplomatic person but that was before I started really analyzing my interactions with others. My observations have shown that I apply none of the lessons that I've learned - now that's a shame! 
When I want something from someone I blurred it out, sometime angrily, in order to make my thoughts come across. Sometime, I do get what I want but at what cost? Feelings are hurt, relationships are stained … it's not a pretty sight.

This problem is also something that I've observed in other people. I have nobody in my entourage that I can use as a role model for this skill but I do know where to go to find some - someone in sales! Anyone in sales have to learn how to deal with people if they wish to have any sort of success in selling. Therefor it makes sense that if I want to learn more about diplomacy then I need to get acquainted with a salesman or go back to my self-improvement material that relates to sales. 

"In youth we learn; in age we understand."
-Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

As I'm nearing my mid thirties, I feel I'm long overdue on improving my diplomatic skills. It's also something that I pay more attention to in others. It's time for all of us to be more diplomatic.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Difficulty Reading



My Dad admitted to me that it's very difficult for him to read hence why he rarely does. Few realizes that the brain is a muscle and like all muscle it needs to be exercised in order to grow. Few realizes that some books are easier to read than others and, if you start with a difficult one, it may turn you off from the experience altogether.

When I first started by Self-Improvement journey, roughly 10 years ago, the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen R. Covey, was recommended to me by my mentor. I eagerly bought a copy and started reading it only to realize that I didn't understand a word of it. To me, this book made no sense but that was only because the book was too complicated for my reading comprehension. I shared my concerns with my mentor and he proceeded to suggest a few books that were less complicated. A few years later, I picked Stephen R. Covey's book again and was surprised when I finally understood the message of the book.

I still come across books that I have difficulty reading from time to time but I know enough not to let it turn me off from reading completely. 
If you're 10, 20, 40 pages into a book and still don't understand it may be because your reading comprehension isn't on par with the difficulty of the book. Read books that are not as difficult and, eventually, you'll be able to understand what the book is about.

Reading is important - don't give up on it!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What Can You Do For Your Country

 


"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You..." -John F. Kennedy

Events that transpired in the United States is proof that their Government has become too big and too little is done by the citizen to insure that they're functioning within acceptable limits. It is my personal belief that too much power was given to an individual that shouldn't have it to begin with and when he abused this power not enough was done to stop him.
This problem doesn't fall on the Government as they are only the representation of the people. It falls on the people to insure that their Government is as just as it can be.

If it falls on the people then what can the people do?

  • The People needs to educate themselves and I'm not talking about Degrees or Certifications here. It's all about having an understanding of the economy, laws, politics, philosophy, psychology... it's about understanding that self-improvement goes beyond the realm of a career.
  • Getting involved in politics. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to represent a party but it does mean that you need to pay attention to what they're doing and to voice your concerns when appropriate.
  • Take responsibility. Instead of saying "The Government should do this, or that...." take responsibility over these things and make the change yourself. Sure, Governments can take care of everything but it'll always cost more, not be as effective, as someone from the private sector doing it.
The Governments have been given a free pass long enough. We need to educate yourself and take an active part in politics to insure we're doing things as best as we possibly can.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Thinking Vs Memorizing

I'm currently reading John Stuart Mill's autobiography and was surprise to learn that there was a great deal of his youth spent studying many of the classics. This endeavor was the work of his father who paid special attention to the education of his children. What surprised me the most was the fact that John Stuart Mill's father understood the difference between memorizing facts and thinking - he made a point to focus on the later.

Going through this autobiography has made me realized that a great deal of my own self-education was spent merely memorizing facts (just like I was thought to do in school). In-fact, I was reminded of an event that occurred roughly 10 years ago where one of my friends said to me "everything you know comes from a book - you don't think about anything!" Only in recent years have I begun formulating my own thoughts regarding what I'm learning  and it's made me more picky about what to read, or learn about, next.
Obviously, we all need to start somewhere and when we first start on our self-education journey it's mostly going to be about memorizing, what we consider to be, important facts. What helped me move, slowly, away from memorizing to thinking is writing. When I write about something, it forces me to think about it and, over time, you come to realize that a greater deal of your time is spent thinking about what you've learn than only memorizing it.

The real purpose of self-education is to sharpen your thinking - not memorizing facts. The transition between the two can take some time.



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Financial Stability Highlights



Finances isn't something that is thought, at least not too heavily, in school and many of us only learn about financial principles "the hard way" which moves us away from financial stability. The following highlights are things to help you gain financial stability.
  • Have a budget.
  • Get out of debt.
  • Invest in yourself.
  • Know the difference between Asset/Liability. 
  • Know the difference between TFSA/RRSP.
  • Know what inflation and depreciation is.
  • Know the difference between ETF/Mutual Funds.
  • Have an investment portfolio both with a financial advisor/fiduciary and yourself.
  • Turn a hobby into a side business.
  • Know the difference between Term and Permanent "Critical Illness, Longer Term Disability, Life Insurance" policies.
Each of the above points could of been elaborated, and I've elaborated on a few already in previous post, but you'll get more out of it if you do your own research on them. The following are suggestions of where you can get the information you need:
  • Cashflow Quadrant book by Robert Kiyosaki.
  • Financial Fitness course by Life Leadership.
  • Money Master the Game book by Tony Robbins.
  • Financial Advisor/Fiduciary.
  • Misc. Trusted source online.
Generally speaking, it's best not to ask your entourage for financial advice because chances are that they're broke. Only take information from those that have the results that you want in life.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Learn Through Competition



I've recently started to remember why I'm not a fan of competition as I was involved in something where I was required to compete against other people. There's nothing as frustrating to me as when I give my very best at something and loose - I swear, I feel like hitting things, I get mad...

It's not the competition itself that I don't like but who I become while I compete. You learn a lot about yourself through competition … especially when you loose.

"How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win."
-Gilbert K. Chesterton

My behavior, when I loose, is comparable to a baby that throws a tantrum when he doesn't get what he wants and if I want to leave any sort of a positive mark in this life it's a behavior that I absolutely need to improve on.

"Losing isn't the ending, indeed it's the best beginning towards success..."
-Raima

It is said that George St-Pierre would look for a lost in every win and a win in every lost. After every match he would go over it with his coach to see what he could of done better. Through this method, GSP became one of the best UFC athlete. 
I fully intend to use this method to win at whatever I decide to compete in going forward. If something is worth doing then it's worth doing right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Clever Marketing

Clever marketing is the type of marketing that stick with us long after the campaign as ended. I'm referring here of the marketing campaign of the pasts that were so good that it effectively changed the direction of society in terms of thinking related to the product. The following are examples:

  • Kellogg's breakfast cereal - The cleverness of the marketing campaign of Kellogg's breakfast cereal cannot be overlooked. Not only are they the ones behind putting emphasis on breakfast "being the most important meal of the day" but they also managed to place their product, namely breakfast cereal, at the center of it.
  • Santa Clause - Coca Cola is largely responsible for the image of Santa Clause that we know of today. They did such a good job with it that it often overshadows Jesus Christ on Christmas. 
  • Women Shaving - The perceived "cleanliness" of a woman shaving her legs comes from a marketing campaign of a razor company looking to make more money. 
  • Bacon - Bacon didn't used to be the part of the pig that people wanted to eat but it was made popular in the 90s and is now a highly sought for part of the pig.
The above are but a few products that, through marketing campaigns, effectively change the course of society. Kids are born, never saw the original marketing campaigns, and still learn about these products when speaking to older generations.

The question isn't on whether or not those marketing campaigns are good or bad but to understand them for what they are - a way for companies to make money sometime doing so by changing the current belief system. It is our responsibility to not buy into everything that is sold to us because companies don't always have our best internets in mind.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Stick to What Matters to You


During my last period of self-analysis, I found that I don't stick with things long enough to get good at them. I go from one thing to the next never really achieving mastery in anything.

A few years ago, I really got into drawing as a hobby. I did this for some time but stopped after I hit a plateau and never really got back into it. My sister, on the other hand, stuck with it throughout all these years and is now able to produce work that rivals those of masters and it makes me wonder which heights I could of reached if only I would of stuck with it.
I can recount a few of these activities that I simply dropped after reaching a certain point. Obviously, some of these were waste of time to begin with and there wasn't any real value for me to keep doing them but I do have some regrets.

This becomes a bigger problem the older you get as you come to realize that your time on this Earth is limited and it's therefor important to identify, and stick to, the things that is most important to you. It's not possible to reach mastery in everything therefor it's important to focus on the things that matter most.



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Hedonists Are Selfish




“Pleasure does not bring happiness; it only brings an increasing hunger for more pleasure.”
-Orrin Woodward

This blog is an extension of a blog I've made back in 2017 related to the differences between  Pleasure, Happiness and Joy.

According to Wikipedia, "Hedonism is the view that pleasure is the only intrinsic good and that pain is the only intrinsic bad." Hedonists, or those that follows the Hedonism lifestyle, are likely to be selfish because pleasure seekers are hungry for the things that give them pleasures. Having a hungry mind is like being physically hungry - you can't think clearly until that need is fulfilled. If the mind is busy with fulfilling its own, albeit artificial, need then there's no room to think about anything, or anyone, else.

Pleasure leads to addictions and it's difficult for us to consider this a bad thing because it feels good for us to do "it". Being able to identify, and remove, the things that cloud our minds can go a long way in making us a better, less selfish, person. 

Pleasure/Addiction is what prevent us from truly living a fulfilling life. Don't sacrifice long term fulfillment for short term pleasures.




Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Take Responsibility Over Your Education



A child usually start school at around 4-5 years of age and continues his education until adulthood. After College/University, however, many stop learning somehow thinking that they won't have to learn anything new once they've settled in a career.

This was certainly the path I was going to take having barely read any books in School/College... I was all but done with them until I was approached by a successful business owner who said "You're worth minimum wage from the neck down - it's what you know that will make a difference in how successful you'll be." and then proceeded to mentor me for the next 4-5 years. Needless to say, this encounter changed my life and my perspective on education.

The education system fails because it makes the entire process boring, at least it was to me, and ultimately doesn't instill a desire to learn from the student. Everything is pushed down your throat whether or not you have an interest in the subject and you come to hate the process never knowing that it doesn't have to be like that. 

There's actually a lot to love about learning if you take responsibility over it rather than take in whatever someone else wants you to learn.

I remember an encounter I had with one of my co-worker. He had a look at the book I was currently reading, which was on Philosophy, and asked why I would read something like this considering that it didn't have any, at least not direct, use in I.T. (I work in I.T.). 
My belief is that if you want to "think outside of the box" you actually need to know what's outside of the box. There's definitely value in reading materials from your field of work but don't be afraid to get out of that comfort zone. 

I've recently set myself a goal to learn about, what is widely considered to be, the greatest work of humankind. I have acquired such books as "The Origins of Species" by Charles Darwin (Science), "Human Actions" by Ludwig Von Mises (Economics) and a few books on "Alexander The Great" (History) just to name a few. To me, learning about our greatest achievements is both necessary and inspiring.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Body Positivity But Don't Forget About Your Health




Body positivity is a great movement that helps put light on the issue of unrealistic beauty standards. It's about accepting your body for what it is. However, in the case of being overweight (or under weight), accepting your body and accepting the health issues that may come with it are 2 different things. One can feel beautiful, while not fitting in the unrealistic beauty standards set by various marketing companies, while still looking out for one's Health.

"You can't change what you can tolerate."
-Myles Monroe

Accept yourself for who you are but don't accept your health problem if there's something you can do about them. Doctors are quick to give us drugs for the various ailments when really they should encourage people to make better life choices.

When I first started on my fitness journey, I used to think that having big arms would make me happy. Then I got big arms and it didn't make me happy.  Then I thought that if I had bigger legs then I would be happy but it didn't... it took me a while to realize that being happy isn't tied to how I look in the mirror. There are just as many people slim and depressed than they are people that are overweight and happy. 
I will say this, however, how you feel and what you eat, or do with your body, is directly related. If you don't exercise, and eat like junk, you will be more likely to feel like junk than if you exercise and eat what your body needs.

Feel good about yourself but don't forget about your Health.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

"Ant Farm" theories and Creationism


Man has wondered about his origin for has long as he was able to think for himself. The theories we're going to discuss today were created in ancient Greece at a time when Philosophy and Science was one of the same. In fact, the term "Scientists" was only coined in 1833. In ancient Greece, when a Philosopher thought of a theory he wouldn't necessarily need to prove, via the scientific method, that it made sense before sharing it with the world. A lot of those theories didn't stick but some have and are still with us today even though, from a scientific perspective, they make no sense.

The following are a group of theories that fits well, at least to me, together and have all been created at roughly the same time by Greek Philosophers. In Chronological orders, those are:

  1. The Earth Is Flat - According to Wikipedia, the idea of a flat Earth first originated in the 6th century B.C. by a Philosopher named Pythagoras.
  2. Creationism - According to Wikipedia, the creationist theory originated in the 5th century B.C.
  3. The Earth is at the Center of the Universe - According to Wikipedia this theory is, again, attributed to a Greek Philosopher in the 4th century B.C.
These 3 theories seems to have been created to complement each other and I like to call the combination the "Ant Farm" mindset. An Ant Farm is finite (Earth Is Flat), everything in it has been placed there by someone (Creationism) and it's location is at the center of a kid's room (The Earth is at the Center of the Universe). It make sense for a theory, such as Creationism, to exist in a world where "The Earth is Flat" and "We're at the Center of the Universe" exists but since both those theories have been nullified - why, then, is Creationism still around?

Religion is why Creationism is still around, and thriving, today. There's no doubt in my mind that the book of Genesis is an extension of the Creationism theory as it was widely accepted at the time of Jesus.
A religion is a work of Philosophy and every religion has a story on how everything began. The answer to the questions related to our origins is too important and should be answered with science - not faith. There's no value in keeping debunked theories around. Let's keep what make sense and move away from the things that don't.

Creationism originated from the mind of a Philosopher in Ancient Greece. Why are we still debating whether or not the theory is true considering it didn't even come from "divine origins" or observable evidence? We have to remember that Creationism was created at a time when people would sacrifice animals to Gods, for protection, and act on dreams because they believed it had divine significance. 

These things might of made sense then but it doesn't anymore.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Dwayne Johnson Football Dream



If you know anything about today's movies then you've likely heard about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Before Dwayne Johnson was an actor and wrestler he was someone that wanted to play in the NFL but ultimately failed to do so. Fast forward to 2020 and Dwayne Johnson now owns the XFL - a Football league that, while small, has plenty of potential to grow.

What this tells me is that Dwayne never let go of his original dream of being involved in Football. Sure, he never played professionally but he did some acting related to it and now owns a league. I doubt owning the XFL was part of Dwayne's plan in his youth since the league wasn't around then but when you stick to your goals the world seems to create opportunities for you.
“If you want something you've never had
You must be willing to do something you've never done.”

-Thomas Jefferson
Not many of us have dreams that we work towards and, from those that do, even less continue on after hitting failures. It may have taken Dwayne a few decades to achieve his dream but the important thing is that he did. How many of us can go through decades before eventually getting our dreams? Most of us can't even wait until our food is done in the microwave - let alone wait decades for anything.

Never loose sight of your dreams.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Where's the Valor?



Valor is an incentive most often attributed to military focused societies as it is a quality one gets from exhibiting great courage in battle. 

With the rise of technology one has to wonder where is the Valor today? Our wars haven't stopped but the way we fight has changed. Some people don't even need to be physically present on the battlefield anymore. How can a soldier, who is taught that great deeds on the field of battle brings valor, earn valor when he's placed in a situation where he can't exhibit great courage as he's fighting in-front of a monitor rather than the trenches?
Valor has inspired soldiers for thousands of years but technology seems to have taken it away from them. If valor is no longer attainable for a soldier then what other moral incentive is used to inspire? 

After reading a few books on Alexander The Great, there are plenty of times where valor, or battle recognition, was the sole motivator of the soldiers. After all, the Greeks were military focused. If this is what inspired the soldiers then... what inspires them now?  Is the career soldier more of a job nowadays than anything else? There's definitively still recognition to be found as a soldier but, like most everything else, it changed.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

We Should Be Better Than the Spartans


You can probably tell that I've been reading about Greek history based on my few recent blog posts. Who ever read about Greek history likely learned about the reputation of the Spartans. For those of you who haven't, the Spartans were a Greek military society who's military, and fitness, prowess are forever remembered as being the best of its time.

If I was in charge of a nation I would make it like Sparta - not from a military perspective, as I'm not a man of war and I believe that the only war we should be fighting are the ones found withing ourselves, but from a fitness perspective.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a society largely focused on fitness? It's kind of weird to live in a society that understand the various issues the body can have if it's not treated properly and yet we "fix" those issues via medicine rather than lifestyle changes.
The Spartans didn't know anything about heart diseases, cholesterol and high blood pressure but they understood that being fit meant that they performed better on the battlefield. We know more about fitness, dieting, diseases... than the Spartans did and yet so few seems to be taking advantage of this knowledge. With all the knowledge we have we should be remembered as the fitness civilization in history but there are far more people overweight than people that are fit.

"Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile."
-Abu Bakr

The knowledge to be fit is available to us all but few are consuming it and even fewer are applying it. You don't need to understand everything to get some good results you just need to start. If I had any degree of control over a nation fitness is definitely something that I would promote. Vote for me?


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Alexander's Veteran Soldiers


Last week I talked about Alexander the Great's army containing career/veteran soldiers. What I didn't mention is that some of those soldiers were in their late 60s.

If you were a young 20 some year old fighting a 60 year old I'm pretty sure you would be thinking that this was going to be an easy win. After all, your opponent is old, frail and slow but that's not how I see it. 

Being a soldier is one of the most dangerous career path one can take. Many soldiers, of that time, didn't live to see their 30s and it's, therefore, pretty rare to see someone reach old age.
Sure, an older man may be slower than a young 20 year old but we have to remember that those 60 year old soldiers were not like most 60 year old we see today. Since they spent most of their time on their feet they were in great shape for their age and, perhaps most importantly, their advance age as a soldier meant that they hadn't yet met their match in battle.

If I was a young soldier, at the time of Alexander, I would be scared when faced against a 60 year old veteran soldier. Wouldn't you?



Wednesday, August 19, 2020

If I Could Go Back In Time...


If I had a time machine I would go back to the time of Alexander the Great. More specifically, when Alexander's army faced off Darius' massive army which some historians say was 1 million men strong and contained war animals, such as elephants, among it's ranks.

"An army of sheep, led by a LION is better than an army of LIONS, led by a SHEEP" 
- Alexander The Great

What I find fascinating about this particular battle is we see first hand what a strong leader, with a small army, can do against a weak leader with a large army. Alexander was a young commander that was taught the art of war by his father, King Philip, at a very young age. His army consisted primarily of veteran, career, soldiers.
Darius, on the other hand, was a King that grew up in luxury not knowing much about war. His army consisted of career soldiers as well as blacksmith, shopkeepers, potters ... or any other man that could hold a sword and a shield. His primary strategy was to intimidate the Macedonians by the sheer number of men. This proved futile, however, as the Macedonians knew too well that most men in-front of them were not as battle tested as they were.

What Darius failed to understand is that you're only as strong as your weakest link and the weakest link, in his case, was the men that had no battle experience. Once the battle started, these inexperienced soldiers started to flee which created hysteria among the masses. Many of Darius' men died on the battlefield and many more fled the scene including Darius' himself. The Persian casualties is said to have been in the few hundred of thousands while the Macedonians had only lost a few hundred men. An impressive feat considering the size differences of each armies.

It was a well known fact that Alexander would spare cities that surrendered to him. Needless to say that Alexander's conquest became much easier once the word got out that he had brought down one of the vastest army of the time. After all, if Alexander could defeat an army said to be 1 million men strong how could a city state of a few thousand people expect to stop his advances?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the rise and fall of Alexander's in the book "Alexander the Great" by author Jacob Abbott. The book is considered public domain and is therefor free - you should pick it up!

When/Where would you go if you could go back in time?


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

My Parents Changed the Neighborhood

The Road

"You can only lead by example."
-Frank Langella

My parents have owned the same house for roughly 35 years. It's on the country side and, for a time, it housed a family of 4 alongside a bunch of pets.
For most of those 35 years my parents have mowed the lawn on the side of the road for roughly half a kilometre each side of their property (pictured). For years, my parents were the only ones to do this but recently the neighbors have jumped on the idea.

The benefits are evident:

  • The road looks cleaner.
  • It stops the trees/grass from growing too close to the road.
    • It increases visibility of cars getting in/out of yards.
    • It increases visibility of pets/human/animals that want to cross the road.

When we think about leadership we usually think about business or some big endeavor but it really can be as small as mowing the lawn. My parents didn't ask people to do anything - they lead by example and, eventually, it caught on. As far as I know, this is the only street where people do this and I like that it all started with my parents.

Have you done anything to make your neighborhood better?


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Freedom IS about Wearing a Mask



"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
-Thomas Jefferson

It is natural for us to believe that freedom is the opposite of law. We would think that freedom means that I can do anything that I want but in reality you're only free to do anything that you want for as long as you don't step on someone else's freedom. 
If we were to remove the laws related to how we use the road the end result would be chaos and definitely not freedom. It's illegal to drive at top speed, or while being drunk, because doing so endangers other people - doing so steps on other people's freedom to use the road.
We need a minimum set of rules so that our actions don't negatively impact someone else's freedoms. 

"Every man should be responsible to others, nor should any one be allowed to do just as he pleases; for when absolute freedom is allowed there is nothing to restrain the evil which is inherent in every man."
-From Book VI (chapter 6) of "Politics" book by Aristotle

I can't help but think about the road scenario whenever someone says that being forced to wear a face mask, to slow/stop the spread of Covid-19, goes against their freedom. By not wearing a mask they are making the road less safe for all of us the same way as if we were to remove the laws that pertains to the road. In-fact, a lot of our freedoms are at stake if we don't do our part to stop the spread of the virus. If we can't control the spread of the virus then how long do you think restaurants, bars and other public places will remain open?

It's true that someone can say "I don't care if I get sick" but what about those around that person that don't want to get sick? Why are some people being so selfish about this? Some people changed their minds once they actually got sick. We just can't wait around for them to learn this lesson the hard way. 

It's easier to fight a virus than it is to fight people's arrogance. Those so called "Freedom Fighters" believe that history will remember them has heroes when in fact they will be remembered as one of the reasons why this virus stuck around for so long and why things were shut down longer than it needed to be.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

You're Enough



Does anyone ever feel like they're perfect the way they are? Or are we all feeling inadequate in some way? When will we ever feel like we're enough or just as good as anybody else? Why is it that the perfect picture of ourselves never matches our reality?

"Other people see in us what we see in ourselves." 
-David J. Schwartz

Life insecurities is getting in the way of living to the fullest. To just be and let it be sounds simple but it definitely isn't'. This isn't something that becomes better with age as I've seen many people in the last stages of their lives still not being at peace with themselves. It's something that we first need to identify as a problem and work towards improving.

"The key to winning what you want lies in thinking positively toward yourself. The only real basis other people have for judging your abilities is your actions. And you actions are controlled by your thoughts. You are what you think you are." 
-David J. Schwartz

It's difficult to feel confident when we feel inadequate. What  can we do to work on this? We need to attack this problem on two fronts:

  1. First, and most importantly, we need to think positively towards ourselves. Sure, we may have some bad sides but we also have some good sides. There are good and bad things in all of us - this is what being human is all about.
  2. Second, there are some things about us that we definitely need to change. If we have addictions, for example, it's not enough for us to simply think positively about them - we need to get rid of them altogether.
To recap, think positively about yourself, identify the things that are a nuisance and fix them. Even when we fail to change, just the thought of seeing ourselves as a project to work on is sometime enough to see the better side of us.
It is better for us to identify our own problem than to have others identify them for us. Fixing ourselves is our responsibility - nobody can do that for us.



Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Look Your Best But Don't Overdo It

*David by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

We're a society that's very appreciative of beauty which places a, often unfair, pressure on people to look a certain way. There are some good sides of this as it sometime inspire people to make dietary, or lifestyle, changes in order to bring out, what is widely considered, attractive physical features. This becomes a problem, however, when taken to extremes. Some people don't feel pretty unless they look like they can lift a car.

The pressure to look a certain way can be so great that some people will get all sorts of surgeries to "fix" what they think is wrong with them physically. If you have no reason to get a new nose, other than you think it's too small or big, then why do it? Note that there are no surgeries that will allow us to look 20 years old once we reach the ripe old age of 60. Plastic Surgeons are obviously not against this trend as it allows them to own a few cars and a condo in the Bahamas.

"Exterior beauty without the depth of a kind soul is merely decoration."
-Anne Marie Cummings.

On one side, it's great to live in a society where we have the option to change our physical appearance but I hate the fact that it is so widely used for the wrong reasons. Somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of what true beauty is. It's not about how you look as much as who you are. There are no surgeries available that can fix a broken soul. It is far more pleasant to be at the company of someone with a kind heart than someone with nothing but a pretty face.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Virtue is Happiness



"The highest good was the virtuous life. Virtue alone is happiness, and vice is unhappiness." 
-Take from the introduction, from an unknown author, in the book "Meditation" by Marcus Aurelius.

Inner peace can be easily achieved by those that live a virtuous life. Inner peace is something that we should all work towards as there's no greater joys to be had in this life than to be a peace with it.
When we live a life of vice, or a life that goes against our moral values, it is the vice that is in control and not the other way around. We may think that we have control over our vices but it's an illusion. If you can stop your vice "anytime you want" but don't then you are not in control of it. You only really gain control over it once you accept it as one of your flaws and work towards getting rid of it.

There can be no inner peace if the mind is preoccupied with vice. If there's no peace then there's no happiness. How can you be happy when it is the vice that is in control of your life instead of you?

We don't have to look too deep to find our vices. The difficult part is to see them for what they truly are: an hindrance to our inner peace and happiness. Dedicate your life to being the best version of you that you can be. Start by removing your vices.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Religion and Tyranny



A Tyranny is a nation under a cruel or oppressive form of government. Leaders of such parties often shows a religious side for no other purpose than to better control the populace. Hitler was a tyrant that used religion to convince a nation that the Jews were bad people for their involvement in Jesus' death. If Hitler was, truly, the religious man he professed to be to his people he wouldn't of committed such atrocities.

Religion can be a wonderful thing when it is used for its intended purpose but a really ugly one when used as a mean of control or as a way to meet some selfish, tyrannical, end.

Tyrants using religion as a mean to control the populace isn't a new, nor original, idea. Aristotle said, almost 2500 years ago in his "Politics" book: "...Also he should appear to be particularly earnest in the service of the Gods; for if men think that a ruler is religious and has a reverence for the Gods, they are less afraid of suffering injustice at his hands, and they are less disposed to conspire against him, because they believe him to have the very Gods fighting on his side..."

This was as much of a problem then as it is today.

According to the "planetrulers.com" there are currently 50 dictatorship in the world. Tyranny and dictatorship are interchangeable terms. I don't have data on how many of those dictatorships uses religion as a mean to control but I find it frustrating that there are still so many of these oppressive forms of governments around in this day and age. Don't you find this frustrating?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Best Thing About Me



Even though I work full time, I often go through interview exercises in my head. I do so to prepare for future job search.

One of the questions I ask myself, during these imaginary interviews, is "What is your best quality?" and there's one answer that comes up more so than others which is: I understand the importance of staying humble. 
A person stops learning as soon as he considers himself an expert. Daniel R. Castro, in his book "Hidden Solutions All Around You", said "Don't be blinded by your own expertise." Richard Feynman refers to it as the "ignorance of experts".

I believe strongly in this philosophy because I have seen it first hand. I saw people come to my project being so confident in their abilities that they didn't bother learning the new things to accomplish the task at hand and that ultimately lead to their downfall.
If an expert is not humble then he not only set himself up for failure but he may also come across as arrogant, rather than confident, to his peers.

I believe so strongly in this philosophy that it's been the motto of this site (listen to those with the fruit from the tree) from the very beginning. Be humble my friends and learn until the day you die.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Do You Make Your Bed In the Morning?



There's a video of a military general stressing the importance of making your bed in the morning. This is a discussion I also had with one of my mentors who, coincidentally, had been in the military for 20 years at an earlier time in his life.

One day, I shared with my mentor my dreams of a better future and my mentor said "Those are big plans but are you making your bed in the morning?" to which I replied "That's stupid! What does that have to do with anything?" What he said next was along the lines of what was in the video.
He said that if I ever wished to take care of big things in life then I needed to first take care of the little things and he said that while he doesn't know everything happening in my life he does know that I sleep in a bed and that I should start by accomplishing the little thing, of making my bed, before doing anything else.

I hadn't asked whether or not he was making his bed everyday because I knew he did just by how much attention he paid to the little things in his life - a likely result of his military training.

That discussion happened roughly 6 years ago and I wish I could tell you that I've been doing my bed ever since but on most days I haven't. Recently, the video with the general talking about the important of making your bed has resurfaced in my life and I was reminded of that discussion with my mentor. 

This post is to let you know that I have now committed of making my bed made every morning. Are you with me?


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Listening to Politicians - We are no Longer a Country of Entrepreneurs



Both Canada and the United States were built on the idea that success comes to those that dream. We are Countries that were created with an entrepreneurial spirit but that seems to have faded in the last 50 years.

Politicians spends thousands of dollars to figure out what exactly the mass wants. They do so because they want the bulk of the population to vote for them. What kind of promises do those politician usually make? They talk about raising the tax on the rich, creating more jobs, job security or some new thing that will be "free".
This is telling me that most Canadians and Americans no longer have the entrepreneurial spirit. It was surrendered in favor of job security. People would rather work for someone else's dream than to work on their own. Not only this but people are jealous of those with financial success and, in some cases, want them to pay taxes that are unfair.

The "I want someone else to take care of my future" mentality is making us complacent. We need to come back to our roots and it starts with us learning to think for ourselves.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

It's Easy To Say "Make America Great Again"



"Anyone can steer a ship when the sea is calm."
-Publilius Syrus

It's easy to say "Make America Great Again" when you know you're going to inherit an America that's already great: All you really need to do is to maintain it.
Some things got worse ever since President Trump was elected and I'm sure some things were improved as well but one thing is certain, however, is that things aren't great anymore and everyone is looking at the President to "Make America Great Again" (again?)

America has the most Covid-19 cases, the economy is the worse it's ever been (due to the pandemic), a few weeks ago they were protesting the lock-down (that was silly) and now they are on the brink of a civil war following the death of George Floyd but this new protest, unlike its direct predecessor, is at least justified.

America is going through the perfect storm right now where they have one of the worse crisis ever faced with possibly the worse leadership it ever had.

How to "Make America Great Again"?

In order to turn any failing situation around you need strong leaders that take responsibility for the failures. A President that suggest that we ingest disinfectant to kill the virus isn't the type of leader that can turn around a Country that is on the brink of collapse.
What stand out the most to me is his golf outings. At the time of this writing, President Trump has golfed 254 times, costing Americans 134 millions in the process, during his first term. This is someone trying to get away from his responsibilities and it comes from someone that said he wouldn't have time to golf because he would be too busy working for America ... well it looks like you've found time to play golf after all.
This is also someone who said he was going to hire the best of the best people; most of which are either in jail now or in the process to be.

Hello? Can you please remind me why this guy was voted in? Perhaps America confused Narcism with genius.

Even though I'm not American, I yearned for the day where America will be great again but this ultimately falls on the American people. There's an election coming up soon - you guys know what to do. I don't want another 4 years of a President suggesting we take unproven medicine to fight off a new virus.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Police Brutality Ends Now!



"The greatness of a man is measured by the way he treats the little man. Compassion for the weak is a sign of greatness."
-Myles Munroe

When a person of color, or anyone, is arrested for a pity crime my expectation is that the person will be treated fairly. If you are enforcing the law then your moral compass should be above, not below, average. I understand that you see the worse of our human nature, on a daily basis, and that you are stressed out as a result but you can't turn that into hate for an individual or ethnic group.

This man had committed a crime but he shouldn't of paid for it with his life. He is but one of many that fell from excessive police brutality and this has to stop. The cop responsible for his death is not the problem as much as the result of a much bigger problem that plagues modern society today. 

"Many keen observers and writers have been calling attention to the loss of sense of values that has accompanied the growth of modern technology. They tell us that we have been living under the illusion that more automobiles, labor-saving devices and the like will bring happiness and usher in a better life. Without a strong sense of values and direction, however, the human spirit tends to weaken or deteriorate. Technical devices can liberate man from drudgery and open up new possibilities for cultural development; they can also have a dehumanizing effect and be potentially dangerous if there is no self-discipline and dedication to enduring values."
 -Page 107 of "Living Issues in Philosophy Sixth Edition" book by Harold H. Titus and Marilyn S. Smith

Is technology responsible for all the hate we see in the world today? No, but it does feel like people know more about how to use a computer than how to be nice to one another.

Was the person responsible for George Floyd's death a racist? Would the person doing the crime have died if he was white? I don't know but nobody should be above the law - not even those that enforces it.


 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Don't Believe Everything You See Online



If you're Canadian, then chances are that you've heard about the House Hippo ad that use to be shown on T.V. to remind everyone not to believe everything we see or hear. Is it time to re-run this add to remind us not to believe everything we see on T.V. and, especially, the Internet?

Sacha Noam Baron Cohen, during one of his nomination, said it best:


There have been many conspiracy theories in the wake of the Pandemic and most don't even have facts to back it up. Why is it that some people think that their 10 min Google research is enough to prove, or disprove, something? Why is it that we would rather listen to "Blogger434" than the advice of an expert?
We can, literally, find anything online that supports our beliefs but that doesn't mean that it holds any ground. I can ask Google "is the Earth flat?" and I'm going to find hundred of thousands of sites that supports this idea and, again, it doesn't mean that it's right.

How do we know if this Pandemic is real? 

If you're asking yourself this question then you likely don't believe anything that's in the news right now (and you shouldn't) but do you really think that all Governments have banded together to mess up the economy like this? Do you really think that all the news about doctors and nurses crying are fake? How would it be possible to setup a global phenomenon like this and have everyone on board with it? What use would it have? Do you need to experience these events yourself in order to know they are real?

This isn't my first rant on this subject but I'm constantly reminded, by my Facebook friends, how easy we believe in things that just aren't true. The mere existence of a conspiracy doesn't make it true. It's frustrating to see people I highly respect fall prey to a blogger who's only wish was to gain views in order to boost his revenue. We need to be careful!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Am I a Good Writer?

Writing Journal

 
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." 
-Vince Lombardi

I've been writing for a long time and always thought that if I do it often enough, if I work hard at it, and I give it time ... I would eventually become one of the greats. While I have made improvements over the years I'm surprised at how little of the "best practices" I actually implement in my writing. 
The problem is that I haven't been learning much on the subject of writing itself. I've simply read books, unrelated to writing best practices, and went on to write expecting that I would pick up on things. The irony here is that the motto of this site is to "learn from those that have the fruit on the tree" but I haven't been learning from the writing masters.

Practice what you preach right?

I've implemented some lessons I've learned about paragraphs and sentences in this blog post. Is it better? Is it working? I can't tell! I can't tell because it's difficult to spot our own mistakes. What I need is a writing mentor - someone that can look over my blog post and tell me how I can make it better without loosing the message I'm trying to convey. 

"No! Try Not! Do or do not, there is no try."
-Yoda

When I go to the gym, I have a very specific goal in mind. I know how my end result is going to look like and I notice changes along the way. Improvements, related to writing, seems to be barely noticeable to me. I don't know how I'm doing and I don't know what it takes to get where I want to be with it. Is the desire to be great writer enough to actually be great at it?

If you like my writing - thank you! If you don't then constructive criticism would be appreciated. Either way I'm going to be doing this for as long as my mind is able to formulate thoughts so stick around!


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I Miss the Gym



Those that don't go to the gym, on a regular basis, don't understand the true meaning of "missing the gym". When I share this, with my non-gym friends, they tell things like "well why don't you just workout at home?" or "why don't you just go outside for a walk?". The gym is more than just a place to exercise - it's a sanctuary. It's like a church for millennials; a place where we go to exercise and mingle with people of similar goals. It's a place filled with people that understands the true meaning of discipline and hard work. It's a place to forget about your problems and focus on the moment.
Sure, I do some workouts at home with the tools that I have but it's nowhere near as good as a proper gym. I feel "flabby" in places I wasn't flabby before.

I was recently asked "what is the first thing you're going to do when the quarantine is over?" and the first answer that popped in my head is that I was going to the gym. Assuming I'm still working when the quarantine is over I fully intend on taking a few days off to go workout.

What's is the first thing that you'll be doing after the quarantine is over?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Is the Pandemic Your Financial Wake-Up Call?



I've been fortunate to have gotten my financial "wake-up call" early on in my IT career. For some of you, the Pandemic is your financial wake-up call and it's going to hurt you more than those that were financially stable before this entire mess started out.
I can't stress out enough the importance of living a debt free lifestyle. Having money in the bank gives you choices - debt is financial slavery.

Some of you are protesting the lock-down not because you want to go back to work as much as you need the money to pay off all of your bills.

Now here's the problem: the majority of people is going to loose money because of this pandemic. If you don't have any money then you will be more in debt at the end of this ordeal than you were when it all started.
I have one of the most conservative, minimum risk, financial portfolio that I was able to create and I still am loosing money because I don't understand the investment world enough to take advantage of the changes that are going on. Even some experts investors are loosing money in some areas because previously "safe" investments are no longer safe. Compared to most of us, however, those experts know where to put their money to minimize the lost and, in some cases, make gains out of this change.

In recent weeks, I've seen an increase amount of "sponsored" investment related videos on my Facebook feeds, from people not known in the investment world, promising great gains if you buy their training videos and follow their investment advice. Since we are in unknown waters right now I would advise you to be careful with those that think they can outsmart the investment market. If you are looking for investment ideas then you need to be looking at what the experts, such as Warren Buffet, are doing with their money. They are the ones that knows the game best and have the most chances to take advantage of the change.

Listen to those that have the fruit from the tree.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Don't Inject Disinfectant





I'm not a fan of the American President but I do find the man entertaining. His latest comment about potentially injecting disinfectant to kill the virus, which I'm sure he's going to deny as fake news, is but one of many outrageous claims that no human being should think let alone say.

He repeatedly said, during that interview, that he's not a Doctor. We know you're not a Doctor, Mr. President, so please stop conjuring up cures and suggesting them to those that voted for you without, first, talking to a Doctor. Your voters, Mr. President, believe everything you say so don't say anything that can potentially kill them.
I understand that in politics you sometime make promises that you can't keep but you can't, and I can't believe this has to be said, suggest to your voters that they do something that could potentially kill them because it's your responsibility to insure the security of those people.
A mother will often tell a child not to "drink this or that" because it can kill the child. It is weird to live in a world where a President is suggesting that we consume things that can kill us.

No, Mr. President, you are definitely not a Doctor.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

America - Stop Your Quarantine Protests!



America stop your quarantine protests! Look I get it you have a President that likes to say "Fake News" at what ever facts is thrown at him but you can't just wish a Pandemic away.

Some of you don't believe this is real because you haven't seen it with your own eyes and you don't trust anyone else but yourself. Having this type of mentality during a Pandemic can make you sick or kill you. If you are attending gatherings, and not respecting the lockdown rules, you are not only endangering yourself and your entourage but you're also extending the time it will take for everything to start up again.

America, you're "number 1" in a lot of things and it's great but being the Country with the most cases of Coronavirus is nothing to be proud of. The lockdown isn't an attack on your freedom but an attempt to get rid of a deadly virus.

The Economy is going to change because of this Pandemic. If we remain in lockdown for too long this will obviously have a negative impact on the economy but if we start everything back up again, and everyone gets sick, then this will also negatively impact the Economy. There's no way around it but we need to take the route that has the potential to save the most lives and, at least for now, that's with the lockdown.

Please stay home and only get out when you need to!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Decisions & Success



If you read any self-help book then you've likely heard that you need to have "goals" or be "passionate" in order to be successful. What all this boils down to is that you need to be making decisions and it's the type of decisions that you make that will ultimately determine how successful you'll be.

To have goals means that you've added a direction to your decisions. If you don't have goals then your decisions aren't focused and therefore not as effective.

We are paid based on the value we bring to society and we bring value based on our actions which are initiated by our decision making abilities. The difference between the CEO of a company and the bottom of the barrel employee is in the decision each one is making. One affects the direction of the company, and therefor is of greater value, while the other is to help pave the way to get to that destination.
If you want to be the CEO of a company then you have to set yourself this goal and to focus you decisions towards it.

I have a friend who always wanted to own a restaurant. He started off as a cashier for a fast food chain and worked his way up. He was assistant manager, night manager, day manager and he now oversees the performance of the franchise all over the province.
He was able to make a career out of the fast food industry simply by having a goal. Most people don't have goals which is why most people will remain "cashiers".

Making decisions can be difficult but it's a necessary step to get what you want in this life. Decide on where you want to go and get to it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What's Next?



I, like most people, dream of starting my own business but it's difficult for me to plan for it when I'm busy working. All of my time and energy is focused on my work and I have very little desire left to focus on building a business. I like what I do, I'm good doing it and it's comfortable. It is easier for me to work than it is to start my own business.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
-Alexander Graham Bell

Many have lost their jobs due to this Pandemic/lock-down but there's some good that can come out of this. Now can be a good time to sit down and think about your next big life move. Did you ever want to start your own business? Change careers? Improve upon your existing skills? Use this lock-down as an opportunity to plan your next move. Prepare yourself to hit the ground running when this is all over.

Many of you will simply waste all of this time and wait until it's all over to get back on the same horse you didn't like to be on in the first place. If you have a desire for a better life, after this is all over, then use this time to your advantage.

Fight back! The decision is yours...

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Pandemic is Going to Hurt The Economy



The Lock-down is a necessary evil and it's great that Governments all over the world are providing financial assistance to businesses as well as those that have lost their jobs due to the pandemic/lock-down. We have to remember, however, that nothing coming from the Government is free. In this case, the Government really is just taking money from your left pocket and putting it in your right pocket - eventually we'll have to pay for all of this.

This is going to hurt no matter how we look at it. There's no way we can shut down everything and expect that our normal way of life can be maintained. At one point or another it'll fall apart and the question then will be "what do we do now?"
In the U.S. President Trump is already asking this question. His party is planning on stopping the lock-down, likely partially, in order to not loose out on the economy.

This isn't a question of money as much as it is a question about trying to maintain the type of society we've built up to this point. What should we do when the cure becomes worse than the problem? What should we do when the cure is just as threatening to our way of life than the problem is?

What we should do is choose the lesser of two evils. Right now, the pandemic is the lesser evil hence why we went with the lock-down but the pandemic will not be the lesser evil for ever. What will we do then?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Learning Outside of Careers



The average life expectancy is 75 years old and I don't know about you but life seems to go by faster the older you get. There's more to life than just to live. Knowing this, I would consider it a great shame to die with the only knowledge being that of my chosen career path. There's simply more to life than whatever we are learning in our careers.

It's been said that it takes 10 000 hours to master anything. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant for this discussion. What we need to keep in mine is that we only have a set amount of hours that we can dedicate to our activities as well as our learning endeavors. This means that we won't be able to master everything.
If you're like me, and wish to learn all that you can before dying, then where do you even start? Which book? Which audio? Which video? The answer is quite simple: Get the information directly from the experts.

"Listen to those with the fruit on the tree". -Ripencil.com

You may not be a philosopher but there are many that are/were.
You may not be a economist but there are many that are/were.
You may not be a carpenter but there are many that are/were.
You may not be a mechanic.... (you got the point?)

We're decades into the information age now. This means that the information is out there for who ever wants it. We can pretty much learn everything that we want from the devices we carry in our pockets. There's no excuse so get to it!

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