Week 6

I want to include a quick reminder, right up front, in this entry: These weekly summaries are like journal entries and give me a chance to reflect on the successes of the past week as well as areas I need to focus on, for improvement. This summary of the sixth week of 2022 is coming much later than I originally intended, but is still right in its timing. I can hardly believe this, but I am still dealing with some lingering symptoms of my upper respiratory situation. But, the symptoms are much milder than they have been and I feel better than I have since this started several weeks ago.

Looking back on the sixth week, I am feeling a mixture of healthy pride and irritation at myself. In week six, many little things went off the rails and I will need to make a concerted and purposeful effort to get everything back on track. The conscious and purposeful resting of the previous week turned, almost automatically and effortlessly into a week that lacked focus and purpose. I need to be mindful of this and keep it from happening again.

That said, the major stressors at work continued during week six and got worse, which I did not think possible. So maybe the lackluster performance in week six was a reaction (not a proactive response) to those stressors and the increased mental and emotional demands.

Core Focus of the Week: Plus one, plus one, plus one.

During the sixth week, I continued to remind myself that each day is part of a process of making 2022 my best year ever (hat tip, Hal Elrod). It is NOT about perfection. It IS about progress. And it IS about my perception of the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour, and the moment. As I have heard Brian Johnson say, several times, in various Optimize.me pieces, “Plus one, plus one, plus one.” Similarly, another thought I have been keeping in mind is the Buddha’s “drop by drop, the bucket is filled.”

I unconsciously relaxed on my predetermined processes this week, choosing not to try to force anything into a spare moment. Instead, I tried to be more mindful of each choice and WHY I would choose one option over another. And as mentioned before, there were also many times when I did not even make a point to execute a predetermined process step.

I continued working on optimizing my “process step stacking” that I started in the previous week. For example, listening to an Optimize.me content module on Stoicism, Buddhism, and one of the “Conquer” modules (typically anxiety or depression or procrastination) while I am making my first bathroom visit, doing a weigh-in, drinking my 8-ounce water, and making the bed. So far, I am liking the stack. The stack is proving to be very effective and very powerful as part of my morning routine.

Drop by drop, the bucket is filled…” – the Buddha.

This week, I continued working on being mindful of every drop I can add to the bucket, every “plus one” I can add to my best version of myself. Even with a lackluster week, my drop-by-drop helped me be a better version of myself by the end of the week. For example, I still gained nearly two dozen new nuggets of wisdom or perspective tweaks that help me refine my thinking and expand my awareness.

But this year, I am reflecting on results, which is why I am doing these summary posts. If my only two options in this world are to grow or to wither away, I continue to choose to grow. Even if that means I am only growing by a 5-minute walk around my condo, or one new idea, or by two minutes of meditation practice, or by 15 minutes of reading. Especially in light of a lackluster week, I need to remind myself that these are still seeds that will eventually yield a harvest. And I want to immediately recognize that it could be very easy to use this as an excuse to back off from implementing my predetermined processes.

In the sixth week…

  • My bodyweight was essentially consistent all week, which was a bit of a triumph given that my eating was all over the map.
  • I continued to drink more water than I did prior to 2022 and I am resolved to continue adding more throughout the day. But I still need to improve.
  • I made better food choices, in many cases.
  • I continued intentional walking, totaling about 2 hours worth.
  • I added another $10 to my savings balance.
  • I added another $100+ to my investment balance.
  • I applied for a Senior Technical Writer position with Amergint Technologies, answered a screening message, and set up an interview that will happen in the coming week.
  • I continued investigating side hustle ideas, ruling out several more ideas already.
  • I continued to deepen and strengthen my relationship with my wife, including a spontaneous date night at one of our favorite restaurants.
  • I enjoyed a night with my in-laws, including a great meal and some great conversation.
  • I consistently did my Miracle Morning SAVERS each day, and enjoyed Hal’s app for the 30-day challenge.
  • I read from 12 Rules for Life and Illusions and enjoy these books.
  • I continued to engage with high-quality content about Stoicism, Buddhism, and conquering my anxiety, depression, and procrastination, learning about practices that will make me a better version of myself each day.
  • I enjoyed some additional Jim Rohn content, taking advantage of Jim’s proven mindset and philosophy towards life, to begin refining my own philosophy and mindset.
  • I laughed each day, but on reflection, it was not nearly as much because, again, I gave the work stress more attention than I probably should have. And focusing more on the stressful parts of the day took away my enjoyment of the rest of the day.
  • I started learning about other spiritual practices, scratching the surface on Wicca and Paganism.
  • I started going through the content of A Course in Miracles online. This is very interesting reading and seems to be an amalgam of Christian thought, Buddhist thought, and New Age thought, with the conflicts removed.
  • I continued learning about, and learning to practice, Stoic philosophy.
  • I engaged with Psalms, Proverbs, and the Tao Te Ching, filling my mind with ancient, but timeless, wisdom. I missed a couple of days, but otherwise have been on track.
  • I wrapped up the Bite Size Wise podcast episode series on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Continued posting episodes of other type of content and continued making posts on the Facebook page. At the end of week six, I was up to 18 unique listeners. Once I get to 50 unique listeners on Anchor’s count, I can begin to monetize the podcast with host-read ambassador ads, which also means I can offer ad-free episodes and other premium content on a subscription basis. Also launched the Instagram account for this podcast.
  • I released a bonus episode and a second scheduled episode of the Illusions podcast. At the end of week six, I was up to 30-ish downloads and Red Circle was listing the weekly average as 25. Once I get to a weekly average of 500, I can monetize with advertising, which will make it possible to offer ad-free content as part of an exclusive content package. Also launched the Facebook page and Instagram account.
  • I played guitar at church and very much enjoyed the weekend of playing, especially with the group on platform with me.
  • I continued to refine my podcast subscriptions, trying to focus on shows that are edifying in one way or another. I have also come to terms with the idea that I will never be able to listen to every episode I have in my feed (48,000+) but that I will be able to take advantage of many, many good/great pieces of content to spur new ideas and new perspectives.

I simply continue to trust my daily predetermined processes, do periodic check-ins to get feedback, and continue to make gains.

Are You a Weeble?

Have you ever had it happen that all the sudden you start seeing and hearing a word EVERYWHERE. I mean, it’s a word you never really noticed before and then BAM! All the sudden that word is everywhere you turn. It’s like the Universe, or God, or whatever you call the Source or the Greater Than or the Eternal Is, has decided you need to focus on learning something and is trying to get your attention.

For me, most recently, the word is “equanimity,” which means “composure, especially under stress or strain” or “the quality of being calm, especially when under stress.” Another way of looking at it is that you are centered and when something comes along to knock you off center, how quickly you can regain your composure, how quickly you can get centered again.

It makes me think of the old Weeble toys that were huge in the 1970’s when I was a small kid. The commercials used to say that Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.

Weebles wobble.

At the beginning of the year when I first started learning about Stoicism and Buddhism, I bumped into the word “equanimity” for the first time that I can recall. And I basically learned the meaning and said to myself “That’s a cool idea, I should learn to do that more.” Then I did literally nothing to do that more.

And without giving it another thought, a few weeks later, suddenly “equanimity” is EVERYWHERE I look or listen.

I’m a hardheaded guy, but it doesn’t take a ton of bricks falling on me to get my attention. (Or maybe it does.) So OK, Universe / God / Eternal Is / Source / Greater Than, you win!

I will start to act more like a Weeble!

Today, I will make it a point to pay attention to how far off center I get when something doesn’t go according to plan. Today, I’ll start noticing how much and how often those kinds of things knock me off center. Today, I’ll start being more mindful of what things I allow to knock me off center. (Ouch, that one hurt a little as I typed it because it sucks to admit that I am the one who allows myself to get knocked off center for longer than it really takes.)

Starting today, I will begin learning to wobble, but not fall down. As much.

I hope you’ll join me in that learning.

Self or Soul or Spirit

Have you ever tried to explain something to a friend and you just can’t seem to get the point across? You understand it without any trouble at all, intuitively, but your friend just can’t seem to pick up what you’re laying down. Honestly, I find those times to be VERY FRUSTRATING!

Just recently, I was trying to explain how I understand the words “self,” “soul,” or “spirit” to a friend that just never really got it. So I will write this post as a new attempt to explain it to my friend and also to create a little bit of a framework for some of the future posts I have in mind.

Before I get started, though, I want to acknowledge there are likely to be logical threads of reasoning that I have not yet explored. This means I reserve the right to continually refine my understanding of these ideas as I continually test them and think them through.

SELF – I view the “self” as the entire essence of my unique and individual personhood. This is the personhood that reasons and feels emotions and interacts with other “selves” (other people) in the day-to-day. In other words, I see my “self” as a unique and individual entity in this world (or all the other worlds and/or dimensions I could be in). I was given a name at birth, to make it easy for other “selves” to interact with me, or refer to me, but my name is not me.

My name is simply a convenient way for other “selves” to identify me. Some of those other “selves” also refer to me by various nicknames or affectionate titles, such as Papa, Dad, Babe, Sweetheart, etc. And every so often, other “selves” use different names for me (such as “a-hole,” “jerk”, etc) in an effort to degrade my “self,” at the very least in their own mind. But none of these names has any real impact on who my “self” is, moment to moment. As Shakespeare once said, “a rose by any other name….”

SOUL – I view the “soul” as the part of my “self” that includes my semi-eternal divine nature. By semi-eternal, I mean that I believe my “soul” had a specific beginning point within space-time, but will now continue to exist until the end of space-time. Yes, my current understanding is rooted in my very typical Judeo-Christian upbringing, in which I learned that only God is fully eternal (ever existing and unbound by the limits of space and time). I acknowledge and accept that other traditions see all “souls” as fully eternal and also see individual “souls” as parts of the “all” (my term) that have been separated from the “all” for some reason I do not know.

I see my divine nature (also called my “human nature”) as divine because of my typical Judeo-Christian upbringing, in which I learned that I was created in God’s image. But realize, by divine, I do not mean to imply only the “good” side we often associate with the word “divine.” I fully acknowledge that my divine nature (my “human nature”) includes an inclination to sometimes do “bad” things, in my mind or in the world. The ancient Chinese yin-yang symbol depicts this idea – that no person is either fully good or fully evil.

SPIRIT – I view the “spirit” as the driving force, the life force, the force that makes my “self” be alive. I see this as the energy that animates my day-to-day expression of my “self.” And not to get to “woo-woo,” but I see energy (as expressed in human form) as having both a “state” and a “flavor.” This means that my “spirit” also has a state and a flavor, which can vary from moment to moment, depending on many factors.

When I say “state,” I’m thinking of things like high energy, low energy, or something in between. When I say “flavor,” I’m thinking of things like “sad” or “happy.” So, it’s possible for me to be at a high-energy happiness (e.g., elation) or a high-energy sadness (e.g., depression). Or, I might be at a low-energy version such as mildly amused or a little sad. Or, very rarely, I might find myself in a neutral state.

I am sure there are many, many other ways to understand these concepts and use these words. But these are my current understandings of each, and the way I am currently using each. And as I continue to explore my own faith and other faith practices and traditions, I might change – or even abandon – my understanding and use of these words.