Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

Hey everyone,

Just a quick update. I plant to begin updating on a more regular basis again as quickly as possible (this week). I have gone through some changes in my personal life and a few other things have happened (none of which I particularly want to discuss on an open forum) and they sort of dis-railed the train I had going here. I am now, however, reinvigorated to provide the same sorts of commentary and information that you have known me to post in the past.

So please check back sometime this week for my true welcome back post.

Thanks for sticking with me everyone,

Alex

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Difficulty of Kindness

There is something to be said about being kind to those around us. Everyone has experienced a time when their friend or loved one has done something that could be perceived as a slight. Then the inevitable response to that perceived slight will be anger or sarcasm. The correct response would be to just let it go or not say anything at all.

This concept is almost cliché. Everyone preaches being kind. Everyone says kindness is the best thing you can possible give to another. But really, it isn't always as easy as it is made out to be. Kindness is a hard thing to continually offer. Especially in the face of all the negativity that we all see every single say. Though it isn't easy, it isn't as hard as it seems. It can all start with just turning one negative comment or thought into one positive one. Continue that trend and eventually you will be the kind person that you want to be and everyone will love you for it.

Everyone says these things, but not everyone puts it into action. It is a hard thing to let go of your anger or to actively avoid making snide or hurtful remarks sometimes, especially if it has become commonplace. All I ask is that, at least for today, take a break. Stop and think about everything you are going to say. If it isn't positive, just don't say it. In all honesty, this is mostly an issue of self discipline. It is always easier to say something critical than to offer praise, but that does not mean it is the best course of action. Being kind of not easy, but it is forever rewarding.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Avoiding Information Overload

Have you ever searched for some information on a topic you wanted to learn and become frozen when you see the sheer amount of information that pops up? This happens to everyone. If you are one of those people, like me, who play videogames from time to time, then you could probably relate this feeling to when you are attempting to character build in an RPG. It just becomes a question of what the best path to take or the best path to learn is. I have been there. Everyone has been there. Luckily for us, the solution is rather simple.

The first thing that you need to do is relax. If you get stressed out about choices, like I do, this could be the most difficult step. Just relax. Take things one step at a time. What, exactly, are you trying to learn about? Whatever it is, the best place to begin would probably be Wikipedia, rather than Google. Why is that, you may ask. The answer is simple: A Wikipedia article is going to be a good general overview of a topic and it will help you determine how you should be utilize Google for further searching.

The second thing you should do is start your actual search. Usually, when I am trying to avoid information overload, I start with Wikipedia. On Wikipedia, I will find the general article on the topic that I am trying to research. From there, I am able to determine two things: whether there is a need for more research and what direction that research will need to take. So, depending on the answers to those two questions, I will know what I need to do. If further research is required, I will have very likely narrowed my topic. If I find that, upon searching for my now narrowed topic, I am still getting lost when I run a search, I repeat the process.

A general tip that I can offer is to ignore forums. If you are unfamiliar with forums, and they pop up in your search results, ignore them. For those who are unfamiliar with a topic, forum results can very easily take you off track or provide you with misinformation (due to forum members posting incorrect information, or because the topic is being misunderstood by the person searching). This is nothing against forums, I just find that they can very easily throw information at you that seems applicable but is actually very wrong.


 Information overload is something that is becoming more and more commonplace given all of the various sources of information that we all have at our disposal. This is both a good and a bad thing. If someone is well versed in the best methods of researching, this information can be a boon. If someone is not used to it, however, it can become very difficult to get the information that they are looking for simply because of all of the choices that they have to make.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Being Happy and Productive

Recently, I have noticed a slightly disturbing trend when it comes to productivity. It seems as though when you look for websites or on forums for productivity information, they tend to make you feel bad and motivated at the same time. Let me explain exactly what I mean. You will go to your favorite forum or blog and start reading about ways that you can become more productive. Then, inevitably, you may post a comment or ask a question about habits you have or how you can do something. Then, also inevitably, someone will chastise you for something.

In a number of places (almost all of them, in fact) you can find great advice on how to be more productive or get more accomplished. The problem is, they make it seem as though you need to be productive twenty four hours a day or your life is a bust. More than once I have seen people suggest that watching television or playing videogames is a waste and will destroy productivity. I would put this idea forth: why are those things inherently destroying productivity? Let's say you have a stable relationship, lots of friends, and a good job. You love to watch TV and you love to play videogames. You are happy, but you think you should be more productive. So you go onto the forums or sites and read. A lot of what you find will tell you what a waste of time TV and videogames are. It will tell you to be productive. Try to find ways to make money. Go spend money with your friends ("be more social"). Write. Do anything. Just don't play videogames or watch TV. So you start to wonder: "Am I doing it wrong? Whats wrong with me?"

My question is this: What is wrong with videogames and TV? Why can't you be productive and still have those things in your life? I think you can. If you enjoy them, then don't stop. Don't let others tell you how to live your own life. Take productivity advice with your own life in mind. Take little steps to be more productive and, when you have reached a point where you are content, stop. Nothing is wrong with doing things you enjoy while you are trying to be productive. Everything is good in moderation.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

That Good Clean Feeling

You know that vague (but good) feeling that you get when the area around you is clean? The same kind of vague but good feeling you get after you wash your car or take a shower? That's a real feeling. I like that feeling. I think everyone probably does. So how do we capture that feeling and hold onto it throughout the day? I have a few things that I do on a regular basis with the end goal of doing just that; capturing that feeling. I want to share those things with all of you so that you, too, can have that feeling throughout your day.

  • Just clean something – This is the easiest way, in my opinion. Everyone has something around the house that needs to be cleaned. Don't put it off, just do it.
  • Landscape the yard – This can be as easy as picking some weeds out of the garden bed. Just getting something done outside will make you feel relatively good (not to mention all of the benefits provided by getting some sunlight).
  • Dust – It's ubiquitous. Just wipe some of it off if you spot it.
  • Polish or stain – Rub some furniture polish on your furniture if it is starting to look dull. Polish off that silver you keep for show in the cabinets.
  • Little things – I am lumping a lot into this category. It's just those little things you can do. Pick up a stray hair you spot on the table. Spray off your desk with some cleaner. Things like that. Little things you can do throughout the day that don't take much time.


  In truth, it doesn't necessarily matter exactly what it is that you do. The idea is that you do something. You will quickly find that even doing minor things can trigger that feeling and the best motivation, really, is momentum. You can start out doing one thing and before you know it you will have done the entire house. It's almost cliché. Everyone says to clean everything, as if the act of cleaning itself is what is going to give you the motivation to do something. Or they act as if having a clean area is necessary for productivity. These things may be true but, if so, they are only indirectly true. The feelings that are associated with cleaning are likely what the goal is when cleaning is suggested to begin with.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Going Slowly



There is something to be said for doing things slowly. It may seem, at least initially, that with some things (particularly with what most people would consider mundane tasks) it is better to do them quickly and to get them out of the way. I don't think so. I think that there is something to be said for taking your time. Experiencing all of the feelings that may be associated with a particular act. In a way, perfecting things, even mundane tasks, will lead to them becoming faster and more enjoyable over time. And if the goal of life isn't to enjoy ourselves while we are on the ride, then maybe I don't know what life is about at all.

I read a while back that some of our ideas of what it meant to be a stoic, to the stoics, was very different than the idea that most of us have about them in the present day. I have to say that this entire idea intrigued me. It calls back to a lot of what I have read about Buddhist and Zen practices; living in the moment, trying to focus on exactly what you are doing and not what is happening in the future or in the past. The idea that the stoics had was to focus on experiencing things in the present, because you may never experience them again.
Imagine, if you will, what that glass of water you had earlier would have been like if you had, in your mind, the idea that you may never have another glass of water for the rest of your life. How would it have tasted? How large or small would the sips have been? All of these things may have been different. Conscious. It is this type of thinking that can help to bring us to a greater enjoyment of the present. Not held back by the past and not pushed down by the future. Just living in the present. There isn't anything wrong with this.

I think that society places a bit too much emphasis on thinking and planning for the future constantly. It is to the point where a lot of people, even those well prepared, feel as though they are being weighed down by the pressure of making all of the right decisions and subsequently beating themselves up about everything if anything doesn't go the right way. The idea is not to stop planning or thinking. The idea is to have goals and to work toward them by deciding what to do now. Too much planning and thinking is just as bad as no planning at all. So the next time you decide to set a goal like cleaning up your house, just do something to get doing and focus on that. Go do the dishes. Focus on getting them as clean as possible. Focus on how it feels. If you find your mind drifting, just let the thoughts pass on by and go back to thinking about what you are doing. This will help build discipline and will, ultimately, help you become a more focus driven person.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Simple Introduction


Have you ever wondered what a life would be like in which you weren't constantly focusing on what to do next? A life in which the ultimate goal was simply to enjoy today and not have to worry about what was going to happen tomorrow?

Millions of people wonder the same thing. This is not some mysterious dream that cannot be reached. In fact, thousands of people just like you or I have already accomplished that very thing. The issue is not whether or not a dream like that can become a reality, the issue is where to begin making that dream come true.

There are already hundreds of sites out there that purport to do this very thing. Am I competing with them by hosting another blog like this? Maybe. But really I think we are all in the business of trying to promote a more competent and happy society by helping people improve their lives one day at a time. 
That is one of the reasons why I decided to start this. I just like to help people. It makes me feel good on the inside. A lot of people scoff when they read something like that and think that I am being self-righteous. That's okay. It doesn't bother me if people want to think something like that. Negativity is one of those things that I have taken great lengths to remove from my life, and I will probably wax about that fact to no end eventually...but not today.

Today, mostly, is just me introducing myself to the world and letting people know what to expect. The goal, I guess, when it all comes down to it...is to just live simply for today.