Day Forty One: Resolution

Daily Journal:

seneca

“Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.” – Seneca

There isn’t much to report today. I bought a copy of The Art of Living by Bob Proctor as both Kindle and audiobook and listened to some of that while working today. I’m going on two weeks without a cigarette, reaching the unsexy stage where the lungs begin to  clean themselves of the damage from smoking: The Coughing Up Mucus Stage. Lovely.

 

In disappointing news, some goals just haven’t been working out lately. I haven’t written anything as a book draft, only went running once this week, and haven’t spend a few minutes each day looking for work. The honest truth is I’m maxed out. I’ve working 10 hours per day, 5 days a week. I’m getting up at 4:30AM. That is giving me enough time to shower, eat breakfast, and write a blog. Then it’s off to work. I go hiking after work on Tuesday nights and Thursdays are group meditations. I have kids during the weekends. No matter what, the blog gets written every day and I go hiking once per week. The rest I’m just going to keep the goals, and do those things when I have free time, and keep trying to make time for them.

Deng Ming-Dao on Resolution:

Today was a good entry for me. I’m being completely honest in this blog, so I’ll come right out and say it. I have a very big issue of holding grudges for a long time. I’m not a resentful person who holds grudges, in general, but there is a certain process that works every time if you want to get me to hold on to resentment that I can neither or control or let go of for about a decade. It works like this:

  1. Do something to me that is malicious, insulting, mistreating me in some way, or taking from me.
  2. Have no remorse about doing it.
  3. Blame me for your doing it.
  4. Expect that the passing of time will make what you did okay. Expect me to “just get over it”.

Intellectually, I know that resentment and ill will, even righteous indignation, are poisons. They hurt me, not the intended target. I get that. I don’t have a problem with comprehending that idea using reason. I have a problem with letting go of negative feelings when things are left unresolved.

Deng Ming-Dao says “We often let thoughts, regrets, and doubts from past activities carry over into the present. This leads us to conflict. Instead of allowing this to happen, we should act without leaving consequences.”

Daily Stoic: Anger is Bad Fuel

Today, quoting Seneca again, who had much to say on the topic of anger, Ryan Holiday states that anger never solves anything. He mentions the successful who say anger is a powerful fuel in their lives. The desire to “prove them wrong” or “shove it in their faces” is shortsighted, Holiday says, because when the initial anger runs out, more must be generated to keep going, until eventually “the only source left is the anger at oneself”.

FYI: I am now several days behind on my blog posts. The next few blog posts will be more brief as I catch up.

B.G.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Thirty One: Orientation

Daily Journal

This morning, I recorded a 21-minute podcast as a review of the month of January 2017. Topics covered in the podcast:

  • The balance between “Going with the flow & letting life unfold” vs. “Goals”
  • The difficulty of avoiding time management in our society since our jobs swallow up most of our time.
  • Overcoming addictions that take away free time. (Smoking cigarettes, Facebook, cellphone addiction, drinking, snacking, etc.)
  • Successes & failures during January 2017.
  • Goals for February 2017 and beyond.

Deng Ming-Dao on Orientation

Planets orbit the sun.
Forms orbit the mind.

Most of us embody disparate aspects in our personalities; these are our forms, the way we take shape. If we aren’t careful, we can become confused by such complexity. We should not deny any part of ourselves. We should arrange them. All elements are valid — they must simply be placed in the right context.

Those who follow Tao understand that a diverse personality is problematic only if some aspects dominate to the exclusion of the others. This is unbalanced. If there is constant alteration between all aspects, then equilibrium is possible. Like the planets, feelings, instincts, and emotions must be kept in a constantly rotating order. Then all things have their place and the problems of excess are avoided.

Just as the sun is at the center of our solar system, so too must the mind of wisdom be the center of our diverse personalities. If our minds are strong, then the various parts of our lives will be held firmly to their proper courses, and there will be no chance of deviation.

I found this chapter more difficult to understand that other chapters of 365 Tao. I was able to get some insight from a quiltmaker’s blog, oddly enough. It almost sounded like he could be referring to the different roles we play in life. Sometimes I identify as a father, a worker, a writer, a musician, a lover, a reader, a music historian, etc. The trouble comes in when I’m wearing the wrong hat at the wrong time. Jack Kornfield covered this in Chapter 5: The Mysterious Illusion of the Self, in his book The Wise Heart.

I’m also reminded of Ecclesiastes 3 from the Bible (which Pete Seeger wrote into a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, which The Byrds made into a hit song):

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The Daily Stoic: Philosophy as Medicine of the Soul

Today, Ryan Holiday reminds us that although we get busy with work and making money, being creative, and being stimulated, we can drift away from philosophy. When we forget about philosophy, we get stressed and this injures us. We need to have a regimen and practice of philosophy. For me, that’s what this blog is all about. I would recommend to anyone owning a book like 365 Tao, The Daily Stoic, Daily Devotions (for Christians), or some kind of daily app like “Daily Buddha Quotes”. Some kind of philosophy or spirituality  that works for you, to restore you every morning and get you through the day. It’s a good practice.

Tomorrow is February 1st. New challenges:

  • Writing first draft of a book.
  • Couch to 5K running program.
  • 66-Day Challenge to spend 15 minutes per day on employment and money making opportunities.

Peace.
B.G.

 

 

Day Fifteen: Time

What an appropriate topic for today!

I was just thinking about time and time management. In fact, I was stressing out about being behind on my blog posts. I just finished up yesterday’s blog post a few minutes ago, because I had the kids over yesterday and sitting around blogging while the kids run wild in my apartment wasn’t an option. I’m already behind on getting some evening exercise, I have some small household tasks to accomplish, I haven’t eaten dinner yet, and I still need to call my girlfriend tonight.now-clock-1_grande

I’ve been tracking how I use my time for the past couple of days, and how to tweak my time to accomplish the things I want to accomplish this year like:

  • Blogging every day for 365 days.
  • Daily meditation.
  • Exercising at least three times a week, with various 30 day challenges.
  • Reading goals.
  • Writing an ebook.
  • Getting my finances in order, and getting out of debt.
  • Traveling.
  • Learning to be a better cook, and get off fast food and junk food.

What I’m finding is that a huge chunk of my time- surprise!- is eaten up by my job, and getting to and from my job. I work 10 hour days four days a week (in theory), with Wednesdays and Saturdays off. I get Sundays off if I don’t get called in for mandatory overtime. This is interesting because I actually cannot survive on $12 an hour with a 40 hour work week. This week, I will work 60 hours, just for the extra cabbage to pay off my medical bills from early 2016. That’s before I start working on paying off all other debts and getting my credit rating back to the 600s, average credit, where it used to be before baby mama suddenly ran off with her married coworker just over two years ago, right before I lost my job, had a serious injury, and my credit was destroyed and put in the 400s (which was worse than before I repaired my credit last time!)

I would describe my job as a dead end situation.

There are worse jobs, such as the sweat shop in Louisville where I assembled attic ladders for $2 less an hour, with an added 30 minutes of car commute, and only ten minute breaks instead of the usual 15 minute breaks, with a really mean Type A boss whipping us to boost the production numbers, very little time off allowed, and grumpy co-workers.

And then there were the horrible call center jobs I had for 10 years, chained to a phone that rang nonstop  in a cubicle with a computer, while eating bagels and cakes that were brought in almost daily.

I don’t hate my job. In fact, it’s easy work, provides physical exercise with the added boon of  allowing headphones so I can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and recorded lectures to learn from.

But when it’s over for the week, I lose 40-60 hours of my life, and I hopefully have almost enough to cover my expenses until the next payday. I usually phone in excuses and promises to pay every week to somebody.

If you can believe this, I also played in bands for the last 20 years, tying up my weekends too. Sometimes I got paid. Sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I worked 10 hours on Friday, played a gig on Friday night, stayed up all night, and went in for another 10 hours of work on Saturday, using a mixture of coffee during every break supplemented with 5 Hour Energy supplements, which were quite effective.

Somehow, I still used to find the time to get drunk several times a week, stay up late listening to music, engage in arguments and feuds with other people, waste hours on Facebook and text messages, and watch several hours of bad television programming too.

LIFE is really lived in the moments when I don’t have to be at work.

Sometimes when I am ready to experience life during those brief windows of opportunity, I am thwarted by the weather, such as the rain we’ve been getting all week in Kentucky.

Enter a pretty old, tried and true concept in my life for the first time ever.

TIME MANAGEMENT.

I’m experimenting with another old principle, a staple of the Protestant work ethic in America.

Early to bed, early to rise… 

This may seem strange to many people, who keep day timers and have their shit together as much an average adult is expected to, but I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants since high school, with a few false starts and failed attempts at improving my time management. Here I am again.

I’ve been getting up at 5AM since 2017 began (which is only 15 days in, as I type this) and this week, I will bump it to 4:30AM. This allows time for shower, breakfast, morning meditation, starting my blog post for the day, planning and creating my To Do list (which I’ve never used with any regularity until now).

Up until a couple years ago, I would stay awake until after midnight drinking Miller High Life beers while listening to music or internet surfing, until I woke up hungover and running late to my soul crushing call center job the next day. Repeat daily for a decade. Take a vacation or go on tour with my band once in a while, which were the highlights of my life back then.

Tonight, I planned to go through a basic Qigong tutorial video, finish my blogs, and spend an hour on the treadmill while talking to my girlfriend. However, 2 hours have passed while working on blog posts, and I turn in for bed in about an hour. Qigong and treadmill exercise will be migrated to tomorrow’s To Do list now.

Deng Ming-Dao on Time:

Key points:

  • Each day, we face a problem. We must validate our past, face our present, plan for the future.
  • Those who are nostalgic about how great the “good old days” were miss the reality of the present.
  • Those who live only for the present (guilty as charged) “have little regard for precedent or consequence”.
  • Those who who live for some reward in the future strain themselves with too much denial.
  • Understand how the past effects us.
  • Keep the present full of rich, rewarding experiences.
  • Devote some energy each day to building for the future.

My present project is to change the past a bit, or at least, my story about the past, which is a lot of pain, and pleasures pursued to escape from the pain. I used to live in the moment all the time, with some thoughts of future going about six months out, and a far off, far-fetched goal of being a writer/rock star in the future.

Somewhere around 2007 or 2008, I started living in the past with a tragic victim story of all the malicious things people did to screw up my life, and I wasted a lot of mental energy on maintaining grudges and entertaining revenge fantasies. My enemies called what I was doing “hate”, having a different perspective and an alternative story where I was the villain. Sometimes, years later, after some self-introspection, the offenders will apologize for what they did, and empathize and say things like “I don’t blame you for being so pissed off at me after what I did to you.” But until that day comes, you are the asshole in their version of the story, and your anger is the problem, and what they did was justified. It feels good when that day finally comes, but it doesn’t change the fact that you may have wasted years holding a grudge about whatever it was.

My Vipassana instructor referred to my grudge hangup as “righteous indignation.”

I feel pretty sure the thieves who sawed the catalytic converter off my car a few months ago, if caught, would also find a way to blame me for the theft. My fault for parking the car in a dark place without a car alarm, perhaps? Seems to be human nature. My exes blamed their affairs and running off with other men on the idea that I neglected to affair-proof the relationships.

I find you never really learn the actual reasons. You only hear the excuses.

To be fair, I probably provided a lot of excuses for own moral failings, and usually didn’t even know what the real reasons were, due to a complete lack of self awareness. Maybe most people are this way.

So, I need to:

  1. Get out of the past and change my perspective of the past as something to learn from, instead of something to suffer from.
  2. Fill the present with rewarding experiences, which I’ve been doing well at for at least a year, given my circumstances and limitations.
  3. Every day, devote some effort to building the future.
  4. Balance all three as a whole.

The Daily Stoic: Peace is in Staying the Course

Ryan Holiday says:

“In Seneca’s essay on tranquility, he uses the Greek word euthymia, which he defines as believing in yourself and trusting that you are on the right path, and not being in doubt by following the myriad footpaths of those wandering in every direction.’ It is this state of mind, he says that produces tranquility.”

Today’s post reminded me of the 2004 George W. Bush vs. John Kerry U.S. presidential election. You may remember how “stay the course” became a Dubya catch phrase, while John Kerry was accused of “flip flopping”. Here’s a funny attack ad, to refresh your memory.

To paraphrase Ryan Holiday, we should be assured that we are going in right direction (maybe not 100% sure) and we don’t need to compare ourselves to others or “change our mind every three seconds based on new information.”

  1. Identify our path.
  2. Stick to it.
  3. Make adjustments as needed.
  4. Ignore “the distracting sirens who beckon us to turn toward the rocks”.

The greatest temptation I’ve fallen for is taking advice and opinions, of both the asked for and unsolicited kind. Sometimes, you may be hearing sagely advice from the voice of a mentor. Other times:

  • You have any plan, and they will try to shoot it down for you, or explain why it’s a bad idea. Devil’s advocates. Crazymakers.
  • Their advice and opinions serve them very well, but don’t serve you.
  • They have a different goal, and are manipulating you to bend to their will, or serve their own needs instead of yours.

There have been many other “distracting sirens”.

  • My own fear.
  • Partying.
  • Facebook.
  • Television.
  • Depression.
  • Just giving up.

Tomorrow, I will discuss financial goals.

B.G.