Archive for Personal Development

The Purpose of Life

Maybe there actually is a point to us being here, maybe we do all have some important role to play in the grand scheme of things. Or maybe some people do, and the rest of us are just pawns. Neither one of those seems very appealing. In the first case, having something to work towards without having any idea of the goal is just frustrating. The second.. well, you just end up being a pawn. Who wants that? (ok, maybe some people do.)

I'll admit that at times I like to believe that there's some plan and reason to things, and that things usually work out the way they're supposed to. But, for the sake of this post, I'm going to shun the ideas of fate, destiny, predetermination, and any other words with similar meaning. This is another "path to happiness" type post I guess, and it might just be a rehash of what I've posted before – hopefully not.. but sitting here at work has made me start to rethink what it is I'm "supposed" to be doing.

At first I was thinking the answer was "It's not what I'm 'supposed' to be doing, but what I 'want' to be doing." But that's both right and wrong. I'm supposed to be doing whatever it is that makes me happy, and what I want to be doing plays a big role in that. The problem is, I'm not really sure what it is I want to be doing with my life, or what it is that would truly make me happy. I think a lot of people run into this problem, and I think it's why there's such a large market for self-improvement products. It's much easier to figure out that you don't like what you're currently doing than it is to figure out what you'd like to be doing.

A quick inventory of the things that I like brought up: photography, programming, writing, and a girl that I care so much about. If I could figure out how to bring in those good things into my life, and manage to support myself without having to bring in a job that I dread going to.. that would be my dream life. That would be the thing that makes me happy, and the thing that I'm supposed to do.

I think I just figured out a huge chunk of my life in the last 5 minutes. I can't work here much longer. I have to make the leap and try to build a better life instead of sticking with what's comfortable. I don't know how to break past the fear of facing the unknown though. People do it all the time. You, whoever is reading this, have probably made blind leaps towards your goals at times. How?

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"Law of Attraction" or "Ooooh! Shiny!!"?

The Secret
Imagine if you could have anything you wanted.. without having to do anything. What if all you had to do was think about what you want, and it would happen? Would you write a book about it, and maybe become somewhat successful while letting others in on this big secret that's been kept from you all your life? I wouldn't. I'd be two hours from this place, curled up on the couch with the girl I love. Books, money, fame? Bah. BAH I say.

But, just for the sake of pretending we're still imagining, what if someone were to write this book? What if someone made a video about it? What if bloggers started writing posts about this magical new way to live your life? What if every sentence in this paragraph ended with a question mark?

I'll tell you what would happen – you'd have a lot of people that are looking for something more in their life reading it, hearing about it from their friends. You'd have an epidemic of false hope being spread amongst people that do not need any more "gurus" misleading them.

You would have a sparx that was annoyed by all of it.

The Truth
There's no "quick fix" in life, no "big secret" that's keeping us from being happy.

That being said, I will acknowledge the validity of part of the "law of attraction." It is important and powerful to actively think about your goals. I agree that to get what you want, you need to focus on it. You need to think about it as much as possible, imagine yourself with whatever it is you want and wherever it is you want to be.

I *DO NOT* think that just by thinking about it, that 'the universe' or 'god' or 'purple unicorns' will magically work towards making it happen. To believe anything like that just seems like another way to pass off the responsibility for who/where/what you are. That's not right. If you spend all your time thinking about a goal, YOU will work towards making it happen, YOU will put yourself in situations that will be conducive to your thoughts.

So, this puts me in a position where I'm a bit torn. On the one hand, I think the stuff that is being tossed around about the magical manifestation of thoughts is a bunch of BS. BUT, if it can get people to focus more on what they want, and they start bringing more positive things into their own life, does it really matter what the fairy tale behind the method is? Oh wait, people are making money off of this – yeah, they're evil. That's an easy one.

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Spreading the Plague

I've been accused of single-handedly spreading the plague amongst my place of work. It's an accusation that brings both an odd sense of guilt, and a strange feeling of power and accomplishment. I'm more than willing to accept the blame, knowing deep down that I haven't really done anything wrong, but it's fun to play along. This *IS* a game.. right?

Enter the segue – I've always found the spread of information interesting. The internet is fascinating, the way a single person (such as myself) can put up just about anything, and have it available for the rest of the world. I'm almost obsessive compulsive when it comes to checking the stats for this blog – seeing where people are coming from, what they searched for to get here, their geographic location. But that's all virtual interaction. Diseases are a rare marker of physical social interaction. I think it would be interesting if there were a real-time look at the spread of colds and viruses globally – being able to watch as 1 red dot gets on a plane on the west coast, flies a few hundred miles, and starts creating new red dots.

Imagine if you could spread something like that that didn't cause people to be miserable. What if you could make someone's day better.. maybe spread a little happiness? Imagine the red-dot-disease scenario, but instead with yellow smiley faces popping up all over a map…

I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.
J. D. Salinger

You know what? I think you can. It just takes a little more effort than getting someone (or everyone, in my case) sick. The easiest start is just to smile and be friendly. People react A LOT different when I'm in happy-friendly mode than when I'm in sleepy-depressed mode. And I think that positive reaction sticks around for awhile, sometimes maybe spreading to others. Try it. Try to be positive and cheerful, not to the point where it's sickening, keep it real – and try to get everyone around you to catch it.

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Another Tip on Being Happy

Sometimes you've just gotta grab life by the doorframe.. and then pull yourself up and hang. (Both figuratively and literally.)

sparx hanging from the doorframe

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What Color is Your Umbrella?

Did you mean:
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers?

Here's an interesting exercise that I suggest you try. Pick an ordinary object (or have someone pick one for you) and think about what it means to you. You probably won't come up with much at first, just the ordinary uses for whatever the object is, but don't stop there. Keep thinking, and try to think about how you feel about it, try to think outside the box and be as abstract as you can.

Not having any ideas for what to put in this post, I asked a friend for a topic. My assignment: "you shall post about umbrellas."

Here are a few of the things that I relate to umbrellas:

  1. Stubbornness – There are very few times in my life when I've actually used an umbrella. I'll walk without an umbrella when it's completely pouring rain, because sometimes I'm just to stubborn to admit that I need to use an umbrella. It's almost like I wear the fact that I'm soaking wet as a badge of honor, some sort of odd pride is obtained by doing this.
  2. Protection – This one is a multi-parter. There's the obvious fact that an umbrella acts as protection against rain and sun. Going a bit farther than that, though, is that I'm more than willing to hold an umbrella for someone else, for whatever reason. When that's the case, I'll make sure that they get the complete protection of the umbrella, even if that means exposing myself mostly or completely to the onslaught of rain.
  3. Vacation/Relaxation – It took awhile for this one to pop into my mind, but now I can't get the picture of a chair and umbrella on the beach out of my head. Just being able to chill out and relax surrounded by a flawless beach is so appealing right now.
  4. Spudart – Matt Maldre donated the following quote for this post: "with large umbrellas, come large responbilities." I'm not exactly sure what a "responbilities" is, but I think it might be something that's used to clean umbrellas.
  5. Unexpected weather, and "lost and founds" – today's forecast was clear. A nice day with no rain. I guess the weather didn't listen to the forecast. I was thinking about this post when I saw that it was raining, and decided that I needed to fight my stubbornness. I now have a new umbrella (that I'm "borrowing" from the lost and found) that will live in my car. I used it when I went to lunch, and am a better person for it.

So, there you go. Pick something, anything, and run with it. Post your reactions in the comments here. Need an idea? Shoes. Comment about what your shoes do for you.

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Sunday's Speedlinking – 8/26/07

  1. Learn how to take better pictures at the Nikon Digital Learning Center
  2. KH posted a great video explaining social networking – or you could listen to Chris Pirillo ramble on about social networks for 13 minutes
  3. I've always dreamt of the day when I could ride in a car covered with shattered glass
  4. ABC News doesn't like Dennis Kucinich? (ABC News has updated their page with a new picture since that post)
  5. JohnPlace has created a list of 7 points to focus on to reduce the flow of negative energy into your life

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Important Life Lessons

I've been bombarding myself with information and experiences these last few weeks. And because of that, a lot of information (most of which sounds like good old common-sense stuff) has started to work its way in to my daily life. I've noticed a dramatic improvement in my outlook, my happiness, and my overall well-being.

A lot of it, even though it makes perfect sense, is hard to hold on to 24/7, and I have noticed times where I go against what makes sense and fall back into my old patterns. But change takes time, so I don't let that discourage me at all. I think it's impossible for me to list all of the things that have contributed to the changes that are going on, since I don't think I'm even aware of all of them, but here is a list of a few.

Only you can make yourself happy

People put so much time into working towards that one thing, or that one person that always eludes them, but that they are certain is the key to making themselves happy. I was guilty of this. VERY guilty. Do you want to know what the "ultimate secret to being happy" is? You have to decide that you're going to be happy. Start the day with a smile, get excited by challenges that come up, take charge of how you're feeling and own the day. This one is easy to fall back from, but I can tell you that it gets easier and it gets better once you make the decision to take control of your happiness.

If you've got some happiness going on, share it!

I know I just said that other people can't make you happy, but you have to take that in the context it was presented. If you're miserable, it doesn't matter what comes along, or how happy it makes you feel – that underlying miserableness will destroy it after awhile. But, once you have a solid foundation, that's when the real magic can start to happen. Once you get to that point, if you find someone that makes you happy it's much more likely to be able to work out, and in the process you'll be able to brighten their life. And that's what it's all about, it's no good to just be happy by yourself, to truly reach the next level you need to be able to bring someone else in to share the experience with.

Worrying doesn't do as much good as your instincts seem to think

I was a chronic worrier, and I'm still fighting to overcome this. Worrying is great if you're facing impending danger and need your body to get all chemically imbalanced in order to deal with it. But a lot of the time worrying is just a habitual reaction to a fear that probably doesn't make much sense anymore. Someone tells you that they're afraid of clowns – you might laugh – but if they're going to have a possible run-in with a clown, they might be worrying them self sick. I had way too many "clowns" in my life that I was afraid of, and worrying about facing them didn't do me any good.

Don't screw things up because you're thinking too much

I also had this horrible habit of thinking things out way beyond what was rational. I destroyed a relationship because of this and the worrying (these two go hand in hand to destroy a person.) It got to the point where I was so off the mark, that I started trying to protect myself from something that wasn't even a problem. I was thinking things like "Well, I'm probably just driving her nuts.. so I won't call her. If she doesn't hate me, she'll call." And, let me tell you, that's one of the stupidest things I could have ever convinced myself to think. Like all the others, I'm still trying to fully integrate what I've learned about this into my life, but it's gotten to be much better.

Sometimes life gives you more than one chance to make things right

The biggest regret that I have involves losing the one thing that mattered the most to me. But I think I've been given another chance, a chance to make things right. The difference this time is that I'm more prepared, I know more about myself now, about how I react in certain situations, and I think I can catch myself now before I fall into any self-destructive patterns again. I believe in fate when it's convenient, and think that if something is meant to be, if you're supposed to end up in Place A or have Object B or accomplish Amazing Thing Z, then it'll happen. It might take a few tries, but what is right for you will come into your life when it's the right time.