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Journal in Public #1 – Life is Not a Video Game

Last night, in the midst of an anxiety episode, I wrote the following text message:

“No more nice days for me. I never do anything right or good enough. Never say the right thing. Can’t take care of myself or anyone else.I make a big deal out of everything. My opinions and expectations are unrealistic. I’m a drain on everyone and everything around me. I add nothing to life or society.”

And that’s truly how I felt when I was writing it. It’s how I feel a lot of the time.

Which brings me to my love of video games.

I’ve been playing video games since I was about six years old. I guess that makes it about thirty years now. Wow.

I’ve always loved adventure and role-playing games. Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda… things like that.

There are a whole lot of reasons why I like playing video games. They’re fun, they’re artistic, they’re cinematic, the good ones tell a great story… Good vs. evil, rescuing a damsel in distress, transforming a character from ordinary to extraordinary.

I could go on.

As I got older, I thought about how no matter what happens in a video game, there’s always a reset button.

Life has no reset button. That’s the fatal flaw in that approach.

Lately, I’ve realized what really attracts me to games, aside from the things I’ve already mentioned.

It’s the constraints.

No matter how open the world of a video game is, there’s still a short list of things you can do. Tasks to accomplish, goals to achieve, areas and worlds to visit, enemies to defeat, items to collect and upgrade, characters to meet… and ultimately, an ending. If you’re lucky, there’s even a map to help you on your way.

Sometimes there’s a TON of stuff to do. Especially in role-playing games. But even then, there is a limit to how much you can do, how much you can accomplish, and how long the game is.

Life isn’t like that, either.

Yes, there are constraints. But a good chunk of those are made up in our own minds or impressed on us by other people.

Whatever the case, it’s very easy to get lost in life. The consequences are grave in that we only get one life, but it doesn’t feel that way.

Life is long. It’s easy to get lost. There are seven billion other people on the planet for you to meet.

And after a certain age, no one tells you what to do anymore. It’s all up to you.

That can be terrifying. It can be frustrating. Depression, anxiety, failure. Success, riches, accomplishments. It’s all out there, and if you live in a free country like I do, it’s mostly there for the taking if you take the right actions to get there.

I’m lost. I’m finding my way, but I need to find myself some constraints before too much longer. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish, and I need to get moving. Gotta make my own map, pick a direction, and go.

Life is long, but it’s not a video game.

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Tuning the Instrument

Sitting down at the keyboard after a long break—or specifically, after a prolonged anxiety attack—feels I imagine the same as Lady Gaga or Guy Fieri feels after a battle with laryngitis. A few keystrokes and she’s back in tune. Away we go!

That’s a lie; it’s takes more than a few keystrokes. Sometimes, it takes a few of these stream-of-consciousness word-vomit sessions. I’m just typing what I’m thinking right now. It forces me to slow down and figure out what I think about things.

Anyway, I digress…

What I was going to say is… The problem is, the minute I sit back down at the keyboard, all I want to do is play the hits. I want to play my favorite video game, maybe of all time, Diablo 2. It’s the thing that feels most comfortable to me. The thing at which I have quite a lot of confidence in myself.

Plus, as I say about certain television shows, ‘it’s a comfort thing.’ I know that game very well, so there is very little chance I’ll be surprised by anything. Really what I mean is, scared by anything. Any surprises that occur would be dopamine-inducing anyway, such as finding a rare item for my character.

What the fuck am I even talking about right now? Why does all this stuff even matter? In this journaling session, I’m doing what I call “shaking off the cobwebs.”

I’m reacquainting myself with my inner voice. I’m practicing slowing my thoughts down to roughly 50 words per minute, which is my typing speed. I don’t know what the speed of thought is, but I know it’s faster than 50 words per minute because I can feel my thoughts slowing down while I’m doing this.

That’s enough for now. I’m exhausted.

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Why is Integrity So Important?

Last time, I talked about my theme for 2020. That thing I was going to weave into everything I do for the year, and without which I would not carry myself.

That thing? Integrity.

Google defines integrity several ways.

noun
noun: integrity

  1. 1.the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”he is known to be a man of integrity”
  2. 2.the state of being whole and undivided.”upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
  3. the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction. “the structural integrity of the novel”
  4. internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data.”integrity checking”

I define it much more simply. Integrity means living in congruence with good, moral honesty among the thoughts, habits, beliefs, and actions that drive me every day.

But why is integrity so important? Why am I putting integrity at the foundation of my new identity?

Several reasons. One, as I looked back at the reality of the last few years for me, I noticed a theme. I made choices that ran contrary to my personal values and the identity I chose for myself. Lacking integrity was a common theme in most of my negative interactions and struggles.

So as I assessed my own life, I made a choice based on both a glaringly-obvious theme. I also chose integrity based on the hypothesis that adding integrity into a lot of past situations would have given me a far more positive outcome.

Reason number two is simple. Humans desire fulfillment.

Living with integrity—that is, keeping alignment among your beliefs and your actions—is the fastest path to fulfillment that I’ve found.

Real Shit: Episode 1

This is the part where you get to see behind the curtain. Where you get to see just how hard this stuff is to put into practice.

Where you get to see how full of shit I might be. What do you think? Let’s find out, shall we? Let’s talk to that negative voice in my head for a few minutes.

Cue negative voice:

This integrity shit is hard! Come on, no one’s looking. Sure, times might be tough and money might be tight, but no one is holding a gun to your head. So you’ve got time to slack off. Why not just wimp out one more time?

It’s what everyone is expecting anyway, because it’s what you’ve always done.

“Be quiet, negative voice,” I say. “You don’t know me anymore.”

And now I’m back to normal. Just that simple shift in perspective is sometimes all it takes to break the negativity and stop the madness.

To my negative voice, I say:

“You know why integrity is so important? Because once you’re labeled as ‘lacking integrity,’ no one cares what you have to say. They don’t even waste their time listening because they won’t believe a word that comes out of your mouth anyway.

“Without integrity, your word means nothing. When you say you’re going to do something, most people quietly assume that you’re lying or that you have the best of intentions but you won’t follow through.

Why? Because based on your past behavior, odds are you’re not going to follow through.

Intentions don’t matter if actions don’t match. And if you don’t have personal integrity driving you to hold yourself to a standard, your actions likely won’t match because the minute things get hard or there’s a minor setback, you’ll quit.

Again, it’s what everyone expects you to do anyway because that’s the pattern of your behavior. They’re not mis-labeling you; you’re just defensive because they’re right and you’re still in denial.

So… Now What?

Now it’s time to change their minds. It’s time to show the world and, most notably, yourself that you’re not that person anymore. You’re changing your identity and your core beliefs. And you’re starting with the belief that personal integrity is at the foundation of a good life.

Simply put, it’s time to say what I mean and mean what I say. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. And if I can’t do it, there had better be a damn good reason.

If I were to get a tattoo right now, tonight, it would say two things: “Have Integrity” and “Don’t Be F*cking Weak.”

I’m attempting to burn these two phrases into my soul. For some people, these things might come easy. Hell, I’m sure there’s a previous version of me that finds strength and integrity easy to come by. But I can’t see that man when I look in the mirror, so it’s hard to know if he was ever there at all.

But that doesn’t matter. Everything before now is in the past. I can choose a new identity and match my behavior, habits, and actions to that new identity.

Let’s see what happens when I do that.

Join me, won’t you?

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Me and You…Tube

I’m starting a YouTube channel and I’m scared out of my mind. I thought I’d write for a while and see what else I think besides, “Holy shit I’m scared!” and, “I hate the way I look on camera.”

Side note: I’m so nervous to unpack my emotions around this subject that I have to force myself to stay in the chair and keep typing.

I want to help people.

Side note #2: I am so foggy and apprehensive about starting on YouTube that I took a two-hour procrastination break to play a video game. Anyway, back to your regular-scheduled blog post.

I want to share knowledge within a group of like-minded people, in hopes that I can help someone. The best place I can think of to do that (besides this blog, which no one is reading at the moment anyway) is through the use of the social media. And even more specifically since the written word seems to be on life support, I want to use YouTube to share my ideas in a way that reaches the masses.

I want to understand human relationships, and especially our relationship with ourselves. Our relationship with the Jiminy Cricket inside us all—our conscience. I want to understand the voice we hear when we sit in silence. When we’re talking to “ourselves.” That’s the Self I’m talking about when I say I want to understand and reconnect with my Self.

But the YouTube channel won’t be just a place where I entertain and work on myself. No, I’m aiming to pull everyone up from the same rock-bottom I’m feeling right now. I want to share ideas and actionable advice so that rock bottom is such a distant memory that it grows cobwebs. And while I’ll be working on myself and my own tools and skills behind the scenes, the main focus of my YouTube channel will be helping my audience.

Blogging is Not Dead

My preferred method of communication is still the written word. Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, and they sell a lot of books and e-books. That means people still read. And as long as people still read, I will still write. Here, there, and everywhere.

Having always considered myself a writer, there’s a danger that technology will leave me and my skills behind. The written word isn’t going anywhere; ultimately it’s our default method of communicating information and ideas throughout much of the media. Digital ink doesn’t dry, and there’s plenty of it. I just wonder how much people will pay attention.

It’s a much safer path for me if I stretch outside my comfort zone with video and perhaps audio.

Clarifying My Message

What exactly is it that I want to say to the world? Perhaps it would be a good idea to iron out my thoughts and feelings before I continue this blog or before I start getting on YouTube.

Next time on the blog, I’ll update you all on my progress with YouTube, and I’ll give you a peek at the manifesto I’m writing.

In fact, here’s a sneak peek right now for those of you who stayed until the end.

My thesis is very simple: You Matter.

See you next time!

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It’s 2020! What is your one word for this year?

As this is the first post for my new blog, let me start by welcoming you! However you found this post, thanks for spending some time here.

A while back, I read Evan Carmichael’s amazing book, “Your One Word.” In it, the thesis is basically this: Using your own self-awareness, your values, your personality, and your interests, choose one word that fits your goals and your message to the world. Then, use that one word in everything you do, as a way to reinforce it within yourself, and to help others.

Evan’s “One Word” is Believe. He uses it in his profiles on various social media sites, in hashtags on Twitter, and many other places. It is his message to the world. He wants us all to believe.

I’ve always hesitated to choose my “one word.” It felt too heavy for me to commit to one thing without some deep soul searching. I’ve spent way more time researching suggestions than I have doing the actual hard work of looking inside myself to find the truth.

Until now.

I realized now that my word—in other words, my mission for myself and my message to the world—can change. If I decide in six months that another mission and message feels more true, I can change my mind.

So, after some reflection and contemplation for many months, my One Word for 2020 is a simple and complex one.

Integrity

Google’s dictionary definition of integrity includes things like moral uprightness, honesty, strong moral principles, and other similar phrases.

The most impactful part of the definition for me, though, is “the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.” I also like, “internal consistency or lack of corruption [in electronic data].”

There are a lot of complicated concepts and ideas around integrity, but for me it is very simple. If I say I’m going to do something, I will do it. But if I can’t or don’t want to, I will be as honest as I can with myself and others as to why.

I want to establish values and a core identity that are consistently congruent with my personality and my actions. I want to be in alignment among my habits, my personality, my desired identity, and my actions. Only then will I get results (goals) that I want and of which I can be proud.

(All of these things listed in the paragraph above could be, and might eventually be, posts of their own. But just know that these are the most important wishes I have for myself right now.)

Using the language from the definitions of integrity, I want to be unified and sound in the construction of my life. My identity, my values, my beliefs, my personality, and my actions need to be in alignment with one another if I want to achieve true and lasting fulfillment.

Building A Foundation

When someone asks us to do something, we have to assess two things: our ability and our willingness. That assessment involves prioritizing, time budgeting, schedule shuffling, and other factors.

The reason I’m choosing Integrity as my one word here at the start of a new year and a new decade is because I needed to have a hard conversation with myself. I’ll spare you the drawn-out details, but I came to the conclusion that I haven’t had much integrity with myself or other people in a long time.

So, one big part of living with integrity will involve being veracious with myself and everyone else. It’s easy to be that brutally honest friend or brother when I know someone wants the naked truth of my opinion. But when it comes to my own skills and abilities, and my willingness to do something, it’s been much easier for me to be a yes (or no) man than to tell the truth.

Yesterday, I would have based my answer on my current mood and stress level. But there are more important factors that don’t get considered in that scenario. Values, beliefs, goals, relationship with the person asking, etc.

So in short, living that way is not advisable, nor has it produced the results I want for my life and my loved ones. I’m declaring that period of my life to be over.

Having integrity with myself and others is at the foundation of what it means to be a good person and a productive human being. Without integrity (and especially personal integrity), nothing else matters.

Fulfillment can be an ever-elusive thing. It could be something you’re chasing for your entire life. But once you achieve true integrity, everything becomes fulfilling because you know you’re doing it for reasons that are Right and Good for you.

What Does This Mean?

Living with integrity can be difficult for some people. It requires high levels of self-awareness, gratitude, clarity, and honesty. Living with integrity will require me to push myself, to ask myself hard questions.

Questions like:

What is the truth? Is this in service of my goals? Do I have the skills and time necessary to complete what’s being asked of me?

Simply put, if I can answer yes to all of those questions, I know that what I’m doing is in alignment with the person I want to be. My goal of living with integrity is really in service of something else within me.

I need to learn to trust myself again. I need to find my place in the world and in the lives of others again.

I need to fan the flames on that little voice inside me who, thanks to Jordan Peterson, now sounds like Jiminy Cricket. I need that little voice to grow and get louder and more confident. I need to strengthen my conscience so that it can drown out the negativity in my mind and in my life.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated.

Now? It’s Your Turn.

What’s your one special and specific word for the new year? What is it that you’ve been avoiding or denying for too long? What’s that hard thing that you need to face about yourself or within yourself?

Find your one word. Do some deep introspection and see what pops out. Try a few on and see how they fit. As I said, I read Evan Carmichael’s book a while ago and I’m just settling on a word that fits now. Trust the process.

Read the book. It will help you understand the meaning and the process better than I’ve laid out here. Plus, Evan seems like a really cool guy and I like to support people like him. You should, too.

So what’s your one word? It can even be a phrase if you can’t think of a single word. (I considered using “personal integrity” as my phrase, but I can work on that at the same time as my integrity with other people, so I ultimately went with the single word.)

Let me know in the comments!

Or, throw this idea out and try on the next one. The beauty of this project is that I’m sharing things that are working for me, in a way that I hope will help other people. But please, don’t take my ideas as law.

Use the ones you like and the ones that feel truest to you. Throw the rest away. I truly want you to take action with these topics and ideas. If they don’t fit for you, don’t try to force them.

We’re all different for a reason, and that means different tactics will work for some than for others.

See you next time!

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

Note: This post marks the birth of my blog. As such, I have left it here and only edited it to add this note.