Tag Archives: Thought

A Thinking Lesson From Jerry Seinfeld

campfire-stories

People tell stories. What do we want them to say?

Throughout most of my relationship that ended in divorce, I would try to win every fight.

Because winning is good, right?

Wrong.

Fighting with someone you love is always a zero-sum game. It’s strange that I would fight most often with the person I loved the most, shared a house and bedroom with, and planned to live with forever.

I must be stupid.

Why is winning a fight with my spouse that can’t POSSIBLY make my life better no matter the outcome be more important to me than keeping the peace and being kind?

Even if I was right. And I was sometimes.

What good can come from it?

Comic legend Jerry Seinfeld has a project called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

I watched my first episode yesterday. Liked it.

It was Jerry and Sarah Jessica Parker driving around in a classic Ford woody station wagon Parker had bought recently.

The entire episode is full of stories and banter between the two. (Every episode is like that with someone new.)

Jerry likes to drink a lot of coffee, so at one point during the segment, they stop at a diner.

The two multi-millionaires have a funny exchange about who is going to pay their $37 bill.

Jerry asks how much she would tip.

Sarah does some quick math to calculate the tip: She would leave $10. A respectable 27 percent.

Clearly not enough for Jerry, though.

They have some more back and forth, and Sarah says: “$20? Should we leave $20?”

A nice tip. That would be more than 50 percent.

She looks down and sees the tip Jerry leaves, and she makes an impressed face. She says something to the effect of: “Wow. Really? That much??”

And Jerry just looks at her across the diner booth. Then says this:

“That waitress is going to tell everyone she knows that she waited on Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Jessica Parker. Every person she tells will ask: ‘How big of a tip did they leave you?’

“What story do you want her to tell them?”

What story do we want people to tell?

Isn’t that all we really have?

The stories our children and friends and neighbors and family tell about us?

In business, it’s the stories our employers and co-workers and clients and customers tell about us.

Sure, Jerry’s rich. So he can afford to tip 100 percent or 500 percent or much, much more.

But EVERYONE can suck it up and help their friends move furniture even when they don’t feel like it.

EVERYONE can volunteer to help out a local charity or at one of their child’s school functions.

EVERYONE can forfeit something they want to do in order to make someone they love happy by doing what they’d prefer.

Everyone can give more than they take.

And then when we’re gone some day, maybe someone will see a photo.

“That’s my dad,” my son might say. “He was one of the good guys.

“At the funeral, everyone said he was kind and funny and generous. They must have known him because that’s the guy I knew, too.

“Kind. Funny. Generous. That was my father. And that’s how I want to be, too.”

If I die today, not everyone will be able to say that about me. I’m not always kind or funny or generous.

Sometimes I’m a total dick. But I don’t want to be. Not ever.

And I hope the next time I’m faced with a choice, I choose the thing that will make me a reflection of that desired narrative.

What story do we want people to tell?

And then maybe I’ll leave a bigger tip.

Be more generous with my time.

Live more kindly and courageously.

Because that’d make for a pretty good story.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Who Am I?

man in maskI glanced at the calendar.

The year is more than halfway over. That was fast.

Maybe my life is, too. I’m 35. Many men die before turning 70.

Uh-oh.

I look in the mirror.

Who are you?

I don’t know anymore. But I want to. Need to.

I think we go through a bit of an identity crisis after divorce. Maybe not everyone. Maybe just me.

For so long, I was Matt—husband, newspaper reporter, fun guy.

Then I was Matt—husband, dad, fun guy.

Now? Part-time father. Wannabe writer who doesn’t write.

The most-important lesson I learned in a decade of newspaper reporting—bar none—was that if you want to find answers, you need to ask the right questions.

I Am My Mother

My mom is the oldest of eight children—the first four of which were born in four consecutive years. Eighteen years separate my mom from her youngest sister, who is just four years older than me.

What does that do to a person? When they spend their entire childhood expected to help with all of the younger kids, and getting less than a year of undivided attention from their parents?

She grew up in a small farm town in Ohio. Less than 5,000 people. Everyone knew everyone. People have stopped me on the town streets to ask me which family member I belong to because my facial features resemble my uncles’.

Maybe that’s why mom moved far away after graduating high school. Escape.

About 500 miles from home.

That’s where she met my dad.

I Am My Father

My dad is the oldest of four children.

His father was an alcoholic and I think his mom was, too. She died just before I was born.

When my dad and his siblings were children, their mom started sleeping with the neighbor guy and their dad started sleeping with that guy’s wife. The two women switched houses and married one another’s husbands.

My dad once spent a night in jail after riding a wheelie on a motorcycle through his city’s downtown.

He’s a high school dropout who smoked a lot of pot, and drank and partied often. He joined the U.S. Navy as a teenager and traveled the world for four years.

Mom left him when I was 4. Probably because he smoked a lot of pot, and drank and partied often.

Are We Our Parents?

I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with both of your parents together. I vaguely remember one Christmas with mom and dad. And I remember the day of my parents’ custody hearing which would determine which parent I was going to live with nine months out of the year 500 miles away from the other.

Maybe when you live with both of your parents at the same time and observe them, it’s easier to identify the bits of you that come from your mom versus the other parts that make you like your dad.

My mother was a domineering wife and overprotective parent that had me craving freedom in ways that always had me at friends’ houses. It caused hurt feelings for my mom because I would avoid bringing friends around. Mom didn’t know who I was.

My father (and the closest thing to a hero I ever had) spoiled me because he only saw me two and a half months out of the year and seemed to walk on water because he was the dad I was constantly being deprived of seeing, even though that’s unfair to my mom and a romanticized version of the truth.

Mom remarried right away and committed to making my entire childhood the best and safest and most-nurturing she could. She’s a deeply religious woman, and her only priority is that I get to heaven after I die.

Dad filed for bankruptcy after my mom left and took me far away to Ohio. He kept partying and grinding at work.

Today, my mom is on her third marriage and struggles financially.

My father eventually bought the company he worked for and is now a well-deserving member of the 1%.

He was committed to helping me become the smartest, most-financially successful adult I could be.

Both of my parents are kind and decent people.

Both would go to the ends of the Earth for me.

Both, in very different ways, are great examples of what it means to love.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

I don’t have brothers and sisters like my mom and dad.

I am—biologically—an only child, with two stepsisters about my age and a half-sister born when I was in high school. I love all three. But we have very non-traditional sibling relationships.

And I don’t really know what that means. I don’t know what that makes me.

Want good answers? Ask good questions.

Who am I?

I don’t know.

Single? Divorced? Father? Who makes bad decisions?

Aren’t we whoever we choose to be?

Yes.

Who do I choose to be?

Someone kind. Someone fun. A good father. A writer.

Aren’t we defined by what we do?

Yeah.

Am I kind?

I really do try.

Am I fun?

I really do try.

Am I a good father?

I really do try.

Am I a writer?

*shrug*

Today, I am.

*Publish*

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Phantom Traffic Jams

Traffic jam

You’re cruising down the highway, getting where you want to be.

Out of nowhere, you’re hitting your brakes.

Then, you’re completely stopped.

Sonofabitch.

You mutter a few bad words. Maybe you call or text someone to tell them you’ll be running late. Maybe your gas tank isn’t as full as you wish it was. Maybe one of your passengers has to pee. Maybe you do.

Or maybe you put a smile on your face. Maybe you grin and bear it.

I can’t control traffic. I can only control me.

Or maybe you lose your shit because you’re a person like me and are always in a hurry to get out of the car. Maybe you get irrationally upset when things annoy you while you’re behind the wheel and you turn into the ugliest version of yourself.

What the-!?!?

Usually, I mutter a bunch of horrible things that make Jesus and all of my dead relatives sad, and then I calm down and remember that I can only control me.

Eventually traffic gets moving again.

You’re super-curious.

What could have caused this massive traffic jam I’ve been stuck in for a half hour?

Eventually, you’re travelling at normal cruising speeds. There was no accident. No obstacle. No construction. No nothing.

A phantom traffic jam.

Weird.

The Power of One

Just one asshole.

That’s all it takes to cause a phantom traffic jam.

I have two routes to choose from every morning when I drive to work. One is highway. One is back roads.

A train crossing was flashing red lights at me this morning, so I turned onto the highway.

Traffic was horrible. Three lanes of horrible.

Some mornings, everything is fine. Many others are just like this. The results are generally the same on this stretch of road.

Phantom traffic jams.

I was in one this morning.

Just a bunch of drivers heading to work. Many people merging onto the highway, and pulling off on their various exits.

While we’re all human and mistake-prone, motor vehicle operation brings out the worst of humankind. And when there are a bunch of drivers travelling 70 miles per hour throughout three lanes of traffic, it only takes one mouth breather to slam on his brakes because he was texting and driving, or some attuned driver braking or swerving to avoid the girl furiously applying her makeup while talking on the phone to one of her friends while merging into highway traffic with a baby in the backseat.

“Horn (an MIT computer scientist) says it’s like a wave flowing backwards,” said NPR science correspondent Joe Palca in a radio interview that you can read here discussing phantom traffic jams. “People who study this talk about chaotic systems and positive feedback, but the practical consequences are that the amount of drivers having to slow down increases the further back you are from the original incident.”

Just one asshole.

Causing hundreds of drivers to make Jesus and their dead relatives sad.

It only takes one.

“Hey Matt! Who Gives a Shit?”

That’s a fair question.

Everything’s a metaphor with me these days. Even phantom traffic jams.

Because it only takes one incident (and that incident may have been an innocent mistake) to cause a huge chain of misery for a bunch of other people.

There’s no way to prevent these from happening. Because the world will always have selfish people taking and taking and taking, or some normal person accidentally getting it wrong.

The world will always have people who don’t care as much as others about doing the right thing.

Men who cheat and lie and abuse women are always going to “ruin it” for the rest of us.

Women who gold dig, use sex as a weapon, and abuse men are always going to “ruin it” for the women trying to do the right thing.

Naughty kids are always going to “ruin it” for the less-naughty kids.

Almost every crappy rule in the world is in place because of those select few who abused the freedom and privilege once afforded them.

Sometimes our spouses make thoughtless mistakes. Our children are clueless. Our friends are busy just like us.

We all accidentally annoy one another. Causing phantom traffic jams. Because we weren’t paying close enough attention.

We can choose to scream a bunch of obscenities and act like assholes. I’ll probably do that for at least a few seconds.

Or we can choose to be in control and make good choices.

Patience will get us through the incident at the exact same speed as if we act like assholes. And if we’re extra astute, we can choose a detour. A different route to get us where we need to be.

The road less traveled.

We can even do one better.

We can be part of the solution.

Paying attention. Keeping an appropriate distance away from the person in front of us. Keeping an eye on the person behind us.

Doing our little part to help ease the congestion by doing all the little things thoughtfully and conscientiously.

Being the change.

Making it just a little bit better for others and ourselves.

Until we’re all smooth sailing again.

Tagged , , , , , ,

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

You have a couple choices. I hope you'll make the correct one.

You have a couple choices. I hope you’ll make the correct one.

She’s going to leave you.

And even if she doesn’t, she’s going to want to. She’s going to fantasize about your best friend. Or her friend’s husband. Or her co-worker who pays attention to her. Or the guy who smiled at her at Starbucks. Or the UPS man. Or me.

A 5’9” guy with a kid who got dumped this year and cries a little more than he should. She fantasizes about THAT guy.

That’s how shitty you are.

She won’t even be able to help herself.

Despite what a total self-absorbed prick you are, she still loves you and wants YOU to be the one who makes her feel good.

But you don’t.

You make her feel like shit. When she tries to talk to you, you tell her the things she thinks and feels are stupid.

When she asks you nicely to do something simple for her, you refuse.

When she asks you nicely to not do something anymore, you do it anyway.

You make her feel bad when you put your immediate wants ahead of the needs of your relationship or family.

When you don’t tell her she looks good. When you don’t tell her she makes you feel good. When you don’t show her that you want her.

That situation is unsustainable. And she’s going to leave you.

Or she’s going to sleep with someone else. And then leave you.

Don’t shake your head no. You’re in denial.

I’m right.

She will. Or she’ll really, really want to which I submit is equally bad.

Then you’re going to get divorced. Because a human being can only take so much, and sooner or later, the misery of divorce is going to seem like a lesser pain than the misery of living with you.

That one’s going to sting.

And then you’re going to be alone and your life is going to be shitty. And one day you’re going to have a really rough morning with your kids. And then the day care lady is going to come over and pick up your son and he isn’t going to want to leave you because he knows he’s not going to see you for three days and he’s going to cry as the day care lady peels him off of your leg so that he’s not late for school and you’re not late for work. And he’s going to scream “Daddy! Daddy!” as he gets carried away sobbing and you can’t help him because you can’t even help yourself.

And then you’re going to cry in your kitchen and call your ex-wife names between the sobs.

But really?

It’s going to be your fucking fault. Because you brought this on yourself.

Don’t ever forget it.

…..

Shameless Self-Promotion Note About My Coaching Services

I started coaching in 2019. Clients and I work collaboratively through current and past relationship stuff in order to improve existing relationships or to prepare for future ones. Other clients are trying to find themselves after divorce or a painful breakup. We talk by phone or video conference. People like it. Or at least they fake it really well by continuing to schedule future coaching calls and give me more money. If you’re going through something and think I might be able to help, it’s really easy to find out for sure. Learn More Here.

…..

When Two Become One

When you’re a kid, your parents are the most-important figures in your life. You can barely imagine life without them.

But you grow. Mature. Gain independence.

Then you meet someone. Someone you decide is going to replace your parents as the central figure in your life. They become the most-important thing.

But now, you don’t always treat her that way. It’s because you’re a shitty husband. Don’t worry. It’s not just you. Most of us are.

You see, I know you’re not a bad person. I’m not either.

You don’t have to be a bad person to be a shitty husband. The shitty-husband badge isn’t only reserved for assholes.

By assholes, I mean guys who cheat, guys who are physically or mentally abusive, guys who drink excessively or do drugs, guys who go out every night leaving their wives to fend for themselves or to care for children alone.

You might even be nice like me. Kind. Empathetic. Caring.

But there’s a demon inside you that you can’t quite fight off. The sex isn’t quite as stimulating as it used to be. You probably think it’s her fault.

Because she used to really get your blood pumping. Back when she wanted you. Needed you. You didn’t have to ask. You could see the need. Feel the need. And you loved it. Because we all have a little Alpha in us.

And now she doesn’t make you feel wanted. She doesn’t make you feel needed.

It’s not because she doesn’t want to. She wants to. It’s an involuntary sort-of apathy she feels now. Because you robbed her of the passion she once had for you. And she resents you for it.

This isn’t the life she’d hoped for. The one you’d promised her curled up in the sheets and one another on a Saturday morning when you were young and nothing else mattered.

She can’t want you now. Because the fire’s gone. Extinguished.

And the pain and frustration of that realization is almost unbearable for her. That you don’t love her anymore. That you don’t want her anymore. That she matters so little to you now that your job, or your friends, or your video games, or your drinking, or your golfing, or your TV watching, or whatever, has taken priority over her. You’re the person she chose over her parents. The person she trusted with the rest of her life.

Because you’d rather play Call of Duty or watch reruns on the couch, than tell your wife she looks sexy, than clean up the kitchen for her, than spend a couple hours making her climax over and over again.

Right now, maybe you’re nodding your head.

“Yeah, Matt. I would rather do something for myself.”

  1. You’ll regret thinking that.
  2. You deserve what’s coming.

What Divorce is Like

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, divorce and marital separation are the second- and third-most-stressful things that can happen to us in our entire lives, behind only the death of a spouse. But if she had died rather than leave you, you’d at least sleep at night dreaming of the good times together, rather than thinking about the new guy sticking his penis inside your wife and imagining how much happier she is now.

Do you like stress?

Divorce is bad.

Worse than I thought. And I’m relatively smart.

Especially if you’re a dad.

When you’re a divorced dad, no childless woman wants you. It’s hard enough being a parent when you love the child more than all other things on Earth. Imagine having to be a parent when you don’t love the child that much. And you’re asking her to do that after someone who lived with you for a long time, intentionally had children with you, then decided life without you was more attractive than life with you.

So, hope you wanted more kids. Because if you want to date someone, that’s what you’re looking at.

Good luck with that.

When you’re divorced, you have less money than you used to, so you can’t even afford to distract yourself from how shitty your life is now with small pockets of fun. You have to stay home where no one comes to visit you because all of your friends liked it better when you were with your wife, and none of your couples friends want to hang out on the weekend with the sad, single guy.

When you’re divorced, your kids are sad, and it’s mostly your fault.

When you’re divorced, the ONLY thing about your life that doesn’t change is all of the things you do now that push her away.

But once she’s left you, you’re not going to want to do those things anymore. Because the things you thought were bringing you happiness ended up bringing you the most misery you’ve ever felt.

When you’re divorced, everything is three times as hard, because you’re only half of yourself, and no one’s there to help.

If you do get divorced, I hope you have your family nearby. That will help. But if you’re honest with them, and if they’re honest with you, everyone’s going to be disappointed in you and miss when you were still a couple. They might even say so. That will make you feel bad and you’ll want to see your family less.

What to Do if You Want to Get a Divorce

You think it might be cool? You think it’s going to be a bunch of sex with hot strangers and parties and football with the boys?

Maybe it will. Maybe you really will like the single life better.

No one to tell you you’re making them feel bad. No one to interrupt you watching Thursday Night Football. No one to tell you you can’t order pizza from your favorite place. No one to nag you about your laundry or bathroom habits.

It will be just like high school or college again! Freedom!

You’re wrong. But you’re a guy. So you’re not going to listen to me anyway.

If you want to get a divorce, just go ahead and keep doing what you’re doing. Watching Bones reruns. Playing video games. Ignoring her.

But here’s the thing: I know you don’t really want to get divorced.

If you did, you’d have already filed.

You want to stay married. I’d like to help.

What to Do if You Want to Stay Married

First, evaluate your wife’s state of being.

If she’s acting scared and needy and clingy or nagging and begging for attention, that’s a GOOD thing. That means she hasn’t reached the apathetic stage yet where she’s highly likely to sleep with other men, leave you, or both.

If she’s acting like a different person. Quiet. Reserved. Doesn’t “bother” you as much about the stuff that troubles her, I’ve got bad news, man. It’s not because it’s no longer bothering her or that she’s turned a corner and understands you more now.

It’s because she doesn’t give a shit about you, she’s learning to do everything by herself as she prepares for her life as a single, divorced woman, and she might be having sex with someone else. If she’s not, she’s strongly entertaining the idea.

She’d rather pleasure herself while thinking about your friend or her co-worker or some blogger she’s never met than have you touch her.

Chew on that for a minute.

She needs to feel something. And every night you choose TV, beer, video games, whatever, over her. She’s given you a million and a half chances. And you just keep doing the wrong thing.

It’s not okay for her to go have sex with someone else. It’s not. I’m not defending her.

But it does make sense, right? When you process it in that non-emotional, logical brain of yours?

The thing we all crave the most is happiness. You make her sad. If you didn’t have children, money, real estate and family ties, she’d already be gone.

I can’t promise that if you do any of these things, she’ll forgive you. But I do promise you’ll give yourself a fighting chance to keep your marriage and family intact.

  1. Do not say anything negative toward her for an entire day. Once you pull that off, go an entire week. If you can do it for an entire week, you can do it forever. Say kind things. Not mean things. Every day. When you mess up, apologize. Twice.
  2. Hug her daily. Mean it. While you’re hugging her, ask this question: “What can I do for you to make your day better?” You’re going to want her to say have sex with her. But she’s not going to. She’s going to want you to clean the kitchen, bathe the kids and walk the dog. She’s going to want you to do those things so that she has time to do two loads of laundry AND maybe take a bath or whatever she likes to do when she has a precious few minutes to herself. Ask that question every day with love and sincerity. Do whatever she asks to the best of your ability, without complaining about it. Do that enough times, and she’s going to want you to have sex with her. And it’s going to feel like it used to. Yay you. You’re making progress.
  3. Flirt with her. Not pervy-douchebag flirt, either, unless she takes it to the dirty place herself. Send her a nice text once or twice a day: “Thinking about you. Please let me know what I can do to make your day better,” and later “I can’t wait to see you later. I hope you know how loved and wanted you are.”
  4. Kiss her. The really nice kind. The first-date kind. Don’t try to have sex with her. Do this three or four times per week. If she makes you have sex with her one of those times, it’s okay.
  5. Take one of her “jobs” away from her. The one she likes the least. You know how she always does laundry and you always mow the lawn? How she always does the dishes and you always take out the trash? Take one of those off her plate. Ask her which one. And take it. And work your ass off to do a good job. You’ll learn to respect how challenging her life is, how amazing she is at multi-tasking and time-management, and you’ll get another taste of how much shittier your life would be as a single guy doing all of this alone. Why should you take one of her jobs away? Because she does more than you do. And if you want a successful marriage, you have to give more than you take. You give her support. She gets more time to relax and feel good about her life. You get a happy wife who wants to have sex with you. The good kind of sex. Everyone wins.
  6. If you’re not exercising, start. You don’t have to be Adonis. You just have to not be a fat slob. You might be surprised how far 50 pushups, 50 sit-ups and 60 seconds in the plank position can take you right when you wake up, and right before bed. We’re talking 10-15 minutes a day, tops.
  7. Learn about your wife. Two parts. First, read a book about why women do what they do. There are several. You’ve probably heard of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I personally prefer How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. It’s a book that will gain fast credibility with you because the authors clearly understand why you do and feel many of the things you do. You’ll appreciate that they “get” you. And then you’ll believe them when they tell you why your wife does and feels the things she does. And if you have an empathetic bone in your body, you’ll instantly feel terrible for all of the pain you’ve caused the person you love over the years, and you’ll learn how to communicate in healthy ways. You’ll learn why you have the same fights over and over and over again about the exact same things. It’s NOT just you! It’s every couple. Everyone has the same natural instincts and tendencies and defense mechanisms that cause conflict in our human relationships. And once you learn what those are, you can navigate those waters. The “mystery” of women that you hear other guys talk about. It’s not a mystery. She REALLY IS different than you. Don’t treat her like a man. Second, learn about your wife like you did when you first started dating. Because she’s not the same person she used to be. She’s matured. Maybe she’s a mother now. Maybe she doesn’t like the missionary position as much as used to. She has different hopes and dreams than she used to. And if you help her achieve them? You can have a truly happy life and marriage. And that’s what I want for you. And for her. And for your children. And for your friends. And for your extended family.

Or you can just get divorced like me.

You can spend Christmas Day alone. You can never have sex. You can never have anyone there to listen to how hard your day was. You can do all of your laundry alone. The house is REALLY quiet when you’re folding laundry alone. You can pay all the bills yourself. Hope you’re good at managing time and money. You can watch movies and television shows alone. You can never see all of your old couples friends. You can clean the kitchen and bathrooms alone. Or you can let them get disgusting as a daily reminder of just how far you’ve fallen.

Please fight for your life and family.

Like a warrior.

She’s worth it.

And so are you.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Writing Itch and a Love Song for One

I've got the itch.

I’ve got the itch.

I woke up today and thought to myself for the first time in my entire life: I can write a book.

I’m not saying anyone will read it.

I’m not saying it will be good.

I’m not saying I have any good ideas. I don’t.

However, I can write a book.

I believe that because of what I’ve been able to do here. It’s a productivity thing. I’ve been averaging north of 1,000 words a day for close to a half year. You can fill a couple books with that many words.

There are people in this world—amazing, creative people—who splatter good ideas all over the place. These are how successful businesses are made. How great movies and television shows are made. How the most delicious food is made. And how the best books are written.

They start with ideas.

And that’s kind of a problem, because…

I Never Have Good Ideas

Case in point: My 10-year career as a newspaper reporter prior to my layoff in late 2009.

I could write a decent story when news was happening. Piece of cake. Event X happens. I write about it.

Same’s true of this blog, really. Some life event happens. I write about it.

Easy. Don’t have to think about it. Just tell you what happened and how I feel about it.

With the news, I just had to tell you what happened.

But some days, I had to come up with “enterprise” stories. That means, I have to dig. Find an angle on some random thing and manufacture a good story out of it. Those were my most-challenging days.

The same is true here with my daily blogging efforts. If I don’t have something specific to report on, I have to come up with some enterprise idea. I try to resort to what’s top of mind, when in doubt. To document the journey as best I can. And this is what I’m thinking about.

I Want to Love Myself Again

I stood in the shower first thing this morning. Hot water stinging my neck.

I thought about something I read before bed last night about how a man changed his life by making “I love myself” a personal mantra. By truly learning to love himself again after the rigors of adult life had stolen his innocence.

And then I got to thinking about how shitty I feel sometimes. About how I felt awesome as a kid. Every day. Even with my parents divorced. Even being alone a lot.

I felt great. I was sad when people died. I was sad when one of my best friends moved away. I was sad when I had to say goodbye to my dad after summer and winter visits. But I was also resilient. Bounced back quick.

I smiled. I was positive. I was kind. I was friendly. I loved.

I loved my family. I loved my friends. I loved myself.

Then adulthood hits. Christmas stops being magical. No one cares about your birthday. You lose touch with all your friends. You don’t go to huge parties with a hundred people anymore. You don’t get the same attention from the opposite sex that you used to. Your hopes and dreams begin to die as you watch other people achieve things and wonder what they have that you don’t.

You make bad choices.

The sins pile up.

Your insides get poisoned.

And then you frown a little more. You laugh a little less.

You darken. On the inside.

I’ve spent most of my adulthood believing this phenomenon happens because we have the wool pulled over our eyes as children. We’re innocent. We don’t know how ugly the world can be. Most of us—the really fortunate ones—don’t experience extreme tragedy and hardship as children. Those moments tend not to arise until we’re wading through adulthood. We thought we’d have life figured out once we got here.

Then we arrived. And we feel less ready than ever. Less confident than ever. More unsure than ever.

The clock ticks a little bit louder now.

Tick, tick, tick.

The bottom of the hourglass constantly filling, reminding us that time isn’t on our side.

Then we feel sad.

Angry.

Depressed.

Lonely.

Unfulfilled.

We search for meaning.

Believers ask: Why me, God?

Some believers stop believing because of this. Why have you forsaken me? I guess you’re not really there at all.

Non-believers say: I told you so. Nothing matters.

Some of us die hopeless and alone.

But not all of us.

Because maybe I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. Maybe the wool wasn’t pulled over my eyes.

Maybe I just really loved myself as a child. Respected myself. Took care of myself.

I chose good over bad. I was physically fit. I got plenty of sleep.

I had friends. I felt purpose going to school. I had goals and hopes and dreams.

But mostly, I had love.

Meant to Be More

I think I stopped loving myself after my layoff.

When I would lay around all day, unshaven in sweats and a t-shirt watching TV with my two-year-old son at home while my wife went to work.

It was a new kind of worthlessness.

I don’t remember how long my wife put up with me, but I should be grateful for whatever amount of time she did.

How could I expect her to love and respect me when I didn’t even love and respect myself?

I came close to getting it back.

In 2011, I started eating right and working out every day. I lost 30 pounds and became physically stronger than I’d ever been before. People would always compliment me when they saw me. That’s always an amazing feeling.

My confidence soared.

I was offered and accepted a job in June 2011, right around my son’s third birthday. I was now making significantly more money than I’d ever made before, plus I had income from my freelance writing business.

I thought I’d finally beat back my demons at that point. Everything felt really good. Back on track.

And then in October, just a few months later, the bottom fell out again when my father-in-law died suddenly. We had dinner with him. He was the same amazing guy and grandfather he always was. Then we left. And got a phone call the next night.

Then my life spiraled out of control.

I lost everything that mattered to me when my wife walked out the door on April 1 of this year.

I fell hard. And I’m still on the floor. I just fake not being there sometimes.

And I was reading that book last night before falling asleep. I love myself. I love myself. I love myself, the guy repeated over and over and over again.

He faked it for a while.

But then the message finally started to sink in.

I love myself.

He started to believe it, because we can trick our brains.

I love myself.

Then he started living like he loved himself.

Took care of his body. Took care of his mind. Took care of his soul.

Because he loved himself. Genuinely.

And then everything changed.

He felt happy again. That really pure happiness we feel as children. Not fake happy. Not drunk happy. Not drugs happy. Not sex happy. Not money happy.

Real happy. And then all the other pieces of his life fell into place, too.

This idea makes sense to me. You say we can’t go back? We can’t have what we lost?

Maybe we can. I’ve never bothered to ask. I’ve never bothered to try.

What if life didn’t ruin us? What if we just stopped loving ourselves the way we did when innocence was all we knew?

And what if starting again is how we get to where we want to go?

Can’t hurt to try.

It’s okay if it feels corny. It’s okay if it feels fake. It’s okay if we don’t believe it.

Because if we just say it enough times, we’ll start to believe it: I love myself.

An Idea Machine

That’s what I want to be. A guy who has ideas. So I can write something that matters.

And to have ideas, I need energy. And to have energy, I need to feel good. And to feel good, I need to love myself.

I like the hot shower first thing in the morning. Some of my best thinking happens there.

I want to work out. I want to look and feel good.

I want to be good even when no one’s watching.

I want to be a better friend, father, son, grandson.

I want to be financially responsible.

And then.

I want to write a book.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. For many years, my ultimate fantasy was to sit in a movie theater watching a film based on something I’d written.

As I aged, becoming more interested in the things that make human beings do human-being things, I began to gravitate more toward non-fiction.

I like simple stories. Few characters. Emotional heartache. Forbidden lust. Poisoned hearts. Ruined lives. Healing and forgiveness. Redemption. Or stories of greed. Deceit. Or simple comedy.

I like complex stories. An EMP attack. The world goes dark. Society breaks down. It’s everyone for themselves. What’s a husband, wife and two kids to do? When the cops don’t come. When there’s no more grocery store. Or pharmacy. Or hospital. Or military defense. Or anything.

I like ongoing stories. Like great television shows or novels with reoccurring characters.

I like books that offer solutions to problems. Books that help human beings become better versions of themselves.

I need to pick one and try. Because I finally believe I can do it. And that’s a big step.

But first I need energy.

Physical fitness. Spiritual wellness. Reduced stress.

And I’ll get that by treating myself with the love and respect I feel for those who matter most.

I love myself.

I want to take risks.

Take my shot.

Choose myself.

Because I miss that happy kid from all my old photos.

And I intend to find him.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Watch For Falling Prices, Vol. 2

I feel good today. Because Walmart screwed up. Twice.

I feel good today. Because Walmart screwed up. Twice.

A few days ago, I found a brown package tucked behind a planter on my front porch.

I smiled.

Could it be one of those two books I ordered from Walmart?

I had received an email from them informing me that my orders had been cancelled the day after taking advantage of price glitches on their website to order $50 worth of books for about $11, including a small shipping charge. So I guess they screwed up twice. Yay me.

I had made the joke in the first post that I was going to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers—which I’ve never read—and use its contents to propel me to unimaginable success as I continue to move forward in my personal and professional life.

I wrote this:

“I’ll pick up the package. I’ll smile. Hell yeah, I’ll think. I just got a good deal.

Then, you know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to read Gladwell’s Outliers. Then I’m going to spend 10,000 hours doing something.

And a decade from now?

I’m going to be so rad at something, you’re not even going to be able to recognize me.

I’ll be tall and rich and smart and funny and getting laid and happy. Everyone’s going to be like: “Hey Matt! You’re so amazing and happy and sexually active! How ever did you pull off this magnificent life!?!?”

And I’ll say: “Walmart.com, baby. A glitch in The Matrix. I seized opportunity.”

They won’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

But you will.

Carpe Diem.”

So, I picked up that package. I smiled. I opened it.

And sure enough, it was Outliers. And I thought to myself: Hell yeah. I just got a good deal. Because I try hard to keep my promises.

And then I got excited.

Because I’m going to be so freaking tall and rich and sexually active now.

The world is mine.

10,000 Hours

There are many nuanced, well-researched and brilliant observations made by Gladwell in this book (Which I haven’t started reading yet. I’m afraid of the growth spurt and having to buy all new clothes).

But the one most people seem to focus on is the idea that to master something, we need to spend 10,000 hours doing it.

All the greats do.

Musicians.

Painters.

Athletes.

Chefs.

Adult film actors.

Teachers.

Writers.

And I wondered: How close am I to putting in my 10,000 hours?

So, I began a crude analysis based on lots and lots of possibly incorrect guesswork.

It looked like this.

1. I’ve been writing quasi-professionally or professionally for 15 years.

2. In those 15 years, I have:

Written and edited news stories.

Written and edited shitty poetry.

Written and edited marketing materials, including email, brochures, web copy, advertisements and video scripts.

Written and edited blog posts—both corporately, and here.

3. From age 19-21, during my college years, including countless hours in the college newspaper’s newsroom and my summer and winter break internships, I estimate spending about 1.5 hours per day writing. For three years. That’s 1,643 hours.

4. From age 22-34, during my professional career, including even more hours in daily newspaper and weekly business publication newsrooms, operating my own freelance copywriting business, working in internet marketing in my current job, and all of my private writing including what I do here, I estimate an average of 2 hours per day writing. For 12 years. That’s 8,760 hours.

5. If my math is correct, and I have no reason to think it’s not damn close, that’s 10,403 hours.

6. Holy shit. I’m an expert.

The Definition of Success

My mom always defined success as getting paid to do something you love.

And I do.

In the grand scheme of writers, I’m probably even paid well.

But I want more. Because I’m selfish and greedy and want to go on vacations and have an in-ground swimming pool and maybe even a really fast car I don’t drive very often.

Also, I wouldn’t mind having financial security for my son.

Okay, fine. And maybe I would try to do a little good with it when I wasn’t busy sipping fine tequila by my pool while writing books people actually wanted to read.

And while I appreciate what my mother is saying, I can’t agree. I won’t agree. Because I don’t feel successful.

I feel grateful. But not successful.

My dad probably defines success more in financial terms.

He makes a lot of money now after pulling himself out of poverty and making a good career move in his late 30s. He reminds me all the time that we were all just as happy back when we were clipping coupons, driving shitty cars, and living in mega-humble conditions along a Mississippi River tributary. And he’s right. We were very happy despite the absence of money.

I know that money will not make me happy. I still want some. But I know there are wealthy people who are miserable. Money does not fill the voids in their minds, hearts and souls.

That can only come from love. And spiritual balance. And good health. And family and friends. And gratitude. And generosity.

Merriam-Webster defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,” and “the correct or desired result of an attempt.”

I think I like that second definition best.

Because that’s what I always want to happen—no matter what we’re talking about. The correct thing. Whatever’s best.

That’s my desired result.

Since the day I decided to pursue writing people have asked me what my goals were.

It’s so easy to say you want to have a novel published. And I always have. That was always my canned response.

But that’s bullshit. Because I can write a terrible book tomorrow, self-publish it, and fire it out to the world in hopes that a sucker or two reads a third of it.

Writers don’t want to write books.

Writers want to be read.

And I remember always saying that, too.

If just one person reads something I wrote and likes it. If just one person reads something I wrote and feels better. If just one person reads something I wrote and it compels them to be better, stronger, wiser, braver.

Then I’ll have done something. I’ll have been successful.

I’ve put in my 10,000 hours. Paid my dues. And I’ll continue to pay them because I have a love affair with the keyboard.

Think about all of the things in your life you’ve put 10,000 hours into.

There’s something.

Thinking. Loving. Tasting. Caring. Feeling. Praying. Hoping.

You’re a master of something.

Just like that guy over there. Just like this lady over here. Just like me.

It took a Walmart pricing glitch to see it.

But I’m just a little bit taller today.

And so are you.

Let’s go dunk on somebody. And be awesome.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maybe I’m Dumb

What if the creator of this meme... meant to misspell "paid"?

What if the creator of this meme… meant to misspell “paid”?

I move the mouse to the Publish button and click.

Sometimes, my stomach hurts right then.

It hurt when I published the virginity post. It hurts whenever I admit to crying. It hurt when I told you I’m a liar.

Other times, I think I nailed it.

I liked my underdog post. I liked my Sure, Marriage Sucks; But Does it Have To? post. I liked my post about The Secret.

When I’m in love with a music album, I almost never agree with the singles the artists choose to release.

My favorite movies often don’t jibe with public opinion.

I don’t particularly enjoy Pablo Picasso’s work. But several of his paintings have sold for more than $100 million each.

Freshly Pressed

Yay me?

I don’t know.

A WordPress editor emailed me a couple days ago, notifying me that my Clean Copy post had been chosen as an Editors’ Pick for Freshly Pressed.

I have no idea what kind of traffic that will generate. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot.

But I do know how I feel about that Clean Copy post.

I think it’s a big, fat wanker festival.

I want to tell stories here. I want to explain to you who I am and why. I want to talk about my failings as a husband and father and human being so that others might benefit in some way by avoiding my sins.

I want to make you feel something, when possible. And God-willing, entertain you.

All the while, my neurosis remains. And more and more, I was seeing my mistakes and typos, and realizing that people were seeing them, each time thinking: What a suck-ass writer this guy is!

My old classmates see it and think: That’s why he was a B student!

My friends see it and think: That’s the Matt I know!

And strangers see it and think: What a stupid turd. Why would I read something this clown wrote ever again?

So, I felt the need to defend myself. I thought that maybe by telling you that I write this stuff in about an hour over my lunch period at work all while trying not to let co-workers see what I’m doing for fear of having to disclose my personal writing to them, that you might forgive my mistakes. That you might think I’m not a moron.

But what does any of that matter?

If you’re going to build a car, build one that doesn’t break.

If you’re going to make a sandwich, make it taste good.

If you’re going to write with the intention of sharing it with others? Make sure your shit is buttoned up. Not your shirt. Your shit.

It’s not that hard for me to take a little extra time to make sure you’re not reading stuff my kindergartener could write. (Just kidding. I’m soooo much better at writing than my five-year-old. We have contests and I always win and then I eat his cookies.)

A portion of everything I just typed is true.

First Impressions Matter

Right?

I think they do.

Who am I?

I’m a divorced guy working my shit out. Trying to raise a son. Trying to grow as a human being. Flailing about and being kind of a dork along the way.

Need proof?

Because I let my laundry pile up like an asshole, I didn’t have a lot of my preferred clothes available to wear this morning.

So today, I’m wearing pleated khaki pants and a shirt that’s too large and not cut properly so it blouses out a little at my waist. I look like a total dick.

I don’t really give a shit when I look like a dick at work. I don’t look unprofessional. I just look like I don’t have any fashion sense. Which may or may not be true.

The reason this matters is because a friend of mine really wants me to come to this business networking event after work today.

I have too many chores to do, but the main reason I didn’t want to go is because of my outfit.

For real. Like the time I almost didn’t go out because of that cut on my face.

So you know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to leave work early today. And I’m going to drive to my house. And I’m going to change my outfit before driving downtown for this networking event.

To quote myself: I may have serious issues.

The Real-Time Blogger

As I type, my post went live on Freshly Pressed. They update it on the hour. And they did so at 1 p.m. EST.

UGH.

This is EXACTLY like this bullshit outfit I’m wearing.

I’m really not an asshole everybody! I know how to dress myself! I just don’t respect my co-workers enough to dress nice for them on a regular basis!

I feel like I need to apologize for what is one of my least-favorite posts—and that it kind of misrepresents the types of stories I prefer to tell.

But that raises the question I started with: What if I’m the idiot with bad taste?

What if my high opinion of my opinions is totally unwarranted?

What if everything that looks white is black, and everything that looks black is white?

What if Conspiracy Keanu really isn’t as hilarious as I think it is?

I just picked up a handful of new followers. Within a few paragraphs here. Whoa.

All these new eyeballs and brains. Watching. Judging. Evaluating whether I warrant their precious time.

It’s a new thing to worry about, everyone. A new thing to trigger my neurosis.

You know what, though?

I don’t really think I have bad taste.

I think maybe these WordPress editors just make mistakes like the rest of us. Like when I let typos slip.

They’re only human, after all.

And I understand how debilitating that ailment can be.

If there’s one thing in this world I’m sure of? It’s that I recognize awesomeness when I see it.

It’s the Good Shit.

And this is good shit. This opportunity to connect with more people.

To exchange ideas.

To grow together.

To make this entire brutal exercise worth the effort.

Not the writing.

The living.

Tagged , , , , ,

Clean Copy

littlethings-614x300

“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

Because I’m me, stressing about what I’m going to write here has become close to a daily occurrence.

I just stand in the shower trying to think of different ideas.

Another Open Letter to Shitty Husbands? We’re about due.

Some random, embarrassing story from my past? Those are always fun.

Today? I have to apologize to you for all of the typos and poorly constructed sentences you come across here.

They embarrass me. And I’m sorry.

Virtually everything you read from me is my first draft. Sometimes I write from home. You get a cleaner product when I do.

But most of the time? I’m writing this at my desk at work. Squeezing two hours worth of work into one.

The results are poorly edited, hastily thrown together thoughts and words.

And because I’m hyper-sensitive to what people think of me, I wanted to try to explain why it happens.

I do my best to round up the typos and misspellings, but they inevitably slip through when I first hit ‘Publish.’ If you subscribe via email, that’s the version you get. The very first, shitty one with all the misspellings before I find them and fix them online.

The beauty of the Internet is that I can fix an error anytime I find one. It always hurt more when a mistake was printed in a newspaper story. That just stays there. A non-curable blemish. Of course, at the paper, I always had three, four or five sets of eyeballs on my work, so mistakes rarely were published.

Here? This? It’s just me. Just little old me brainstorming in real-time and hitting that Publish button before I have time to talk myself out of it.

But I need you to know that I care about this from a quality standpoint. That I pride myself on giving you predominantly mistake-free copy, because I know how amateur and non-credible the alternative feels.

But when I proofread my own work, my brain automatically inserts what I meant to write, so a lot of times I don’t immediately see the mistakes others do.

This fact of life means if you’re reading this in your email inbox or are among the first to see whatever I’ve posted next, you end up stumbling on my mistakes.

There were a lot of them in yesterday’s post before I fixed them. And I’m sorry. You deserve better.

Pride in my Work

Everyone wants to be good at something.

I’m not really good at anything.

I’m one of those jack-of-all-trade, master-of-none types.

I’m pretty terrible at some things, I guess. I’m not a good dancer. I’m a wretched singer. I’m a terrible bowler.

But I’m average to decent at the vast majority of things I do.

However, I’m not really great at anything.

Except maybe proofreading and editing. I might be “great” at that. I use the term great loosely here. There are editors out there who are true masters. They’re the ones that turn average writing like this into money-making publishing gold.

I’m not like them.

But in the grand scheme of people? I’m a strong proofreader and a decent editor. I pay attention to detail.

And I take pride in that. Being among the best at something. Even if it isn’t a particularly valuable skill. It’s my skill. It’s what I do.

I know the difference between ‘compliment’ and ‘complement.’

I notice when people spell advisor with an ‘e.’ Adviser is a perfectly acceptable word, too.

And a million other totally anal-retentive things I won’t bore you with.

Typos Ruin Everything

Usually it’s a missing word. The word “to” or “of.” Sometimes I’ll replace “it” with “if” because the T and F keys are next to one another.

Whatever mistake I make, I’m mortified when I find it. The worst one was on one of my busiest-ever traffic days.

At the urging of others, I shared this blog with some people I know in real life via Facebook. A handful of people that aren’t connected to my ex-wife.

The very first post they would have seen is my Hey Parents, You’re Doing It Wrong post. Just a few paragraphs in, I wrote the word “anecdote” when I had meant to say “antidote.” I didn’t notice it for a couple days. Ugh.

Everyone must have thought I was a stupid moron.

That kind of stuff pains me.

Because I do care about the little things. Because I think the little things are important.

The little things are the difference between As and Bs in school.

The little things over an entire career are the difference between a large retirement account and living off government aid.

The little things are the difference between successful marriages and failed ones.

The greatest advertising campaign in the world is shit if a typo slips through.

The Pulitzer Prize is not awarded to mistake-filled copy.

The bookstores don’t make a habit of displaying novels and self-help books and biographies full of spelling errors and horrible writing.

The Lessons of Editing

Editing is the worst. Writers don’t like to do it.

Yet, all the greats will tell you how important it is.

In cinema, they give Academy Awards for it.

It’s hard. It’s time-consuming.

It requires patience. Thoroughness. And always attention to those little things.

My life’s that way, too.

And I wonder if I wasn’t just rushing through, trying to squeeze in as much crap as possible all the time, how much higher the quality might be.

What if I mastered something?

Got in phenomenal physical condition?

Poured every ounce of energy I could into being the best father I could be?

What if I got financially disciplined?

Never let my laundry pile up?

Never let the kitchen floor get dirty?

Maximized my spiritual potential?

I think a lot of what ails me would go away. If I could just muster up the patience and discipline necessary to comb through the details of my life like I would a proofreading assignment.

And clean them up. Taking pride in it along the way.

Maybe everybody could do that.

Maybe we could all do bigger things if we spend more time focusing on the little things.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

How to Succeed at Anything

Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" is more about Body, than Mind and Spirit. But it's still what I think of in my head when I think about this stuff. Stop looking at his penis.

Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” is more about Body, than Mind and Spirit. But it’s still what I think of in my head when I think about this stuff. Stop looking at his penis.

It’s not easy.

But it is simple.

If you want to succeed—in anything, whether it be love, or work, or sports, or academics, or building bridges, or telling jokes, or solving crossword puzzles—you need only do three things. Just three.

The three steps to success:

1. Attempt

2. Observe

3. Repeat

One of the world’s smartest content marketers wrote that in a blog post yesterday. I’ve spent the past 24 hours thinking about it when I wasn’t too busy thinking about football, or sex, or food, or how bad my iron shots were on the golf course yesterday.

Brian Clark is the author. He founded Copyblogger, and if writing is your thing, you may want to give them a visit even if you’re not looking to sell anything. There’s a lot of good writing and good-writing tips to be found there.

Clark writes: “Here’s the truth. You’ll never be truly ready, because the process doesn’t start until you start.

“Successful people start before they feel ready. And the only way to absolutely, positively know if your [whatever you’re working on] rocks is to put it out there.”

Attempt

He’s saying: Try.

Just try!

If you’re anything like me, there are a million things you never try. You’re scared. Not like little-kid-sees-monster-in-closet scared. But general human fear.

Of failure. Of rejection. Of humiliation.

I spent all 12 years with my ex wife avoiding snow skiing. I don’t particularly like snow.

Yeah, I live in Ohio. On purpose. (If you haven’t heard, I make bad decisions.)

But more importantly?

1. I’m afraid to try things in front of other people that I’m pretty sure I’m going to suck at.

I can’t begin to tell you how true AND debilitating this can be. I don’t do much dancing because of this insecurity. I know that when I go snow skiing, I’m going to fall getting off the ski lift at the top of the run. Everyone will laugh at me and I won’t be able to quickly ski away because I’ll just fall down again. And then they’ll all laugh some more.

2. I procrastinate.

My best friend from childhood is my son’s godfather. He handled all of the legal work for my recent marital dissolution. Free, of course. He’s the best. I think of him as family. I’ve known him since I was 6. Because one of the things I’m good at is writing website copy for businesses, I told him in April—in APRIL—that I would rewrite his law firm’s website copy and optimize it for search engines. I’m not even halfway done yet. Five months. I’m a bad person.

Don’t be like me.

Be brave. Seek adventure. Try new things.

Otherwise you’re just going to get old and sad and eat at the Golden Corral a lot and get diabetes and die after a doctor does a shitty job amputating the lower half of your fat leg you weren’t exercising. And then whoever’s left to collect the money from the medical malpractice suit will go on a bunch of adventures while worms eat your body.

The difference between true failure and just another leg on the journey to success are steps two and three.

Observe

Our lives are the sum of our choices.

How have these choices contributed to where I am now?

Mentally, I feel best when I’m reading regularly. When I’m getting decent sleep. When I’m mentally sharp at work, and on top of my chores at home, and when I’m thinking ahead as it pertains to my son’s and household’s needs.

Physically, I feel best when I’m eating well. When I’m exercising daily. When I’m connected physically, emotionally and spiritually with someone between the sheets.

Spiritually, I feel best when I’m doing things I think are right and when I’m avoiding things I think are wrong. I feel good when I volunteer. I feel bad when I don’t make time for prayer or church. I feel good when I’m giving. I feel bad when I’m taking.

Mind. Body. Spirit.

This begs the question:

Why would we make choices that make our lives worse?

I’m about halfway through my 35th year of being alive. I have a really nice data sample now of what the expected results of a particular action might be. And STILL I do retarded shit. Still.

One might conclude the human race is doomed. Or we can just limit it to me—a bad-decision-making self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think we need to think more about the choices we make that keep us from succeeding in whatever we set out to do. And make better choices today. Different choices. Then observe those results.

If you like what you see?…

Repeat

I understand what Brian Clark is saying here: Do shit. See what happens. If the results are good, repeat. If the results are bad, try something else. It’s the most rudimentary form of the scientific method.

Clark says it with a little more grace and professionalism. He writes: “The difference between true failure and just another leg on the journey to success are steps two and three.

“Pay careful attention to what happens when you try, figure out why, and carry on with a smarter perspective.”

I do believe in outside influences and extenuating circumstances.

But I also support the notion that we are often our own worst enemy. That our biggest roadblock to success in our various endeavors is something seemingly harmless.

Inertia.

History’s greatest minds taught us what inertia is. Newton. Aristotle. Copernicus. Galileo. Einstein.

But their focus was on the physical, observable world around us.

I believe inertia also affects us on a metaphysical level.

We get so comfortable with ourselves and our routines and our habits, that our fear and resistance to change overpowers the logical parts of our brains which tell us that change will improve things.

Two things tend to help you overcome inertia in your daily life.

1. Something awful happening.

2. Choosing yourself. Choosing to be the best version of you that you can possibly be.

Too often in my life, I’ve let something awful happening to me be the catalyst for positive change. Too often, I’ve had to learn lessons the hard way.

It’s the curse of procrastination. The consequence of self-doubt, fear and resistance to change.

And I’d like to do things the right way in this next chapter of my life. To choose myself. To do the right thing because it’s the right thing, then reap the many life rewards that come along with that.

A sharper mind. A harder body. A healthier soul.

It doesn’t take some cosmic or magical event to experience these things.

It just takes a little self-awareness.

And the courage to choose yourself.

To choose today to do one little thing differently. To do it better. To give just a little more.

To win. At everything.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: