Healthy is boring

Being healthy is not boring for the one being healthy, but its boring to everyone else looking.  But that’s exactly it, nobody is looking because there is nothing to look at. Healthy does headline the six o’clock news.  There is no drama to draw attention to when you are healthy.

When you are emotionally healthy, you are not causing a scene yelling at others to vent out internal frustrations.  When you are mentally healthy, you are no longer trying to show off how healthy and successful you are to prove yourself to others.  When you are spiritually healthy, what others find as boring is irrelevant to you because your relationship with the Unnamed is so much more profound.

When you outsource your definition of healthy to celebrity magazines and Hollywood stories, others understand the game you are playing (because they’re playing the same game) and they congratulate and scorn you based on this definition.  But the moment you decide for yourself what is healthy, the game changes.  Its not that others do not understand your game, its that they can’t even see it!  The reason healthy is boring is because its completely invisible to those who are unhealthy.  And why would they, you are not trying to prove anything anymore.

Laying bricks and humility

As we go through life, we use the knowledge and wisdom acquired as building blocks for our philosophy palace.  Over time, some bricks we lay become old and faulty under pressure and we replace them with new ones.

But inevitably, the palace we have created in our mind begins to take shape as we continue to stack one brick after the other.

We start to think that we have built the best palace of all palaces.  But we forget that everyone on our street is also working hard to build their palace.  Some are almost done and some are just starting out just as we were many years ago.  Some are using yellow-coloured bricks while others are using magenta and cyan-coloured bricks.

As we accumulate more knowledge throughout life and become more engrained in our ways, let us not forget that we are all on the same path, just at different stages and using slightly different bricks.  Let us stay humble knowing that there is no best palace, only the best palace for each individual builder that is brave enough to start, one brick at a time.

Don’t you dare waste my time

Don’t you dare waste my time, I already know how to do that, and I’m better at it.

We live in a culture that rebukes others for wasting our time for the freedom to waste our own time.

The day I started loving myself

The day I started loving myself was the day I realized these two things:

  1. Everyone is different.  One of the perks of backpacking through five continents is meeting the wide palate of personalities and subjective experiences that colour our world.  Everyone is unique in their own way and any expectation to conform to a certain mold suddenly appeared as arbitrary as the cultures we were born into.  The day I realized that each person was a universe of subjective experiences and motivations was the day I began to accept my own personal identity.
  2. Everyone puts up a front, myself included.  Whether it’s the depressed boy that is the life of the party or the insecure girl that is a self-made million, we all put on masks to help us cope with the external world.  We live in a world where we fake it till we make it but we forget that everyone else is doing the same thing.  The unintended consequence for the neon masks we wear is a perpetual feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy.  The day I realized it’s all a front was the day I stopped being so hard on myself and started to forgive myself.

The day I realized everyone was different and we all put up a front was the day I started my journey of self-love.  I felt the chain of constant comparison loosen its bondage as the only measuring stick for success.  I no longer felt compelled to measure my self-worth based on how closely my life mirrored the ever-escaping image of perfection.  Rather, I started to base a new value in how honestly I can recognize and express my authentic self every single day.

Why the Intangibles Matter

In basketball, there is often talk about the intangibles that a player brings to a team.  The intangibles are the benefits that a player brings to a team but do not directly translate to the stat sheet.  For example, there is no statistic for a player that dives for a loose ball and saves it to her teammate.  There is no measure for a player’s testy defense that causes a turnover.  There’s no statistic for a player that doesn’t block a shot but his mere presence changes the trajectory of a shot to a missed basket.  Or what about the player who doesn’t score a lot but her professionalism and leadership in the locker room elevates the performance of each of her teammates on the court?  These are the intangibles that contribute to success but do not show up on your typical box score.

When I look at my life, I also ask myself what are the intangibles that contribute to my definition of a good life but don’t necessarily translate to a measurable statistic ( e.g. money, number of cars, mortgage, job title).  Often times, these intangibles come at the cost of society’s measurement for success.  For me, a huge intangible is the level of flexibility that my life offers.  Does my job offer me enough flexibility and time to attend to personal hobbies and projects?  Would I feel comfortable quitting this job to explore another job/career if I wanted to?  These are some of the questions that fit my intangibles and I ask as I try to define a good life for myself.

What are the intangibles that contribute to your definition of a good life?

Saving up happiness for old age

I stumbled upon a short fable yesterday that really resonated with me and I think you’ll like as well.  Its called “The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker” and the author is apparently unknown.  I suspect it’s a old story told many times before in many different variations.

The story is about success and what is really important in life.  The story reminded me that the price of success should not be that we don’t get to do what we love to do.  Or rather, the price of success should not be that we delay what we love to do when we are old and retired.  Saving up happiness for old age is a poor investment if you already know what makes you happy!  But I guess sometimes we need to make a few mistakes to realize what really makes us happy.  Anyways, here is the story:

The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker (author unknown)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

Compartmentalization

Compartmentalization is a tool we use everyday.  It organizes complex and oversized items into manageable groups by association.  This increases our sense of control and translates to increased motivation and productivity.

While compartmentalizing works wonders at birds-eye view, it’s a faulty tool the closer you zoom in.  The curse to this gift is that we can oversimplify things.  We can create false assumptions and prejudices because the goals is to fit all items into a certain group.

So take it for what it is.  As with most things in life, compartmentalization is a trade-off.  Wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to set it aside.