Loneliness and Solitude

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“When from our better selves we have too long been parted by the hurrying world, and droop. Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, how gracious, how benign is solitude.”

William Wordsworth

We often know what we need, before we think we need it. Let me put that another way. We often know what decision we need to make, way before we decide to take the steps to make it. It’s like our heart (soul/spirit / inner-self ) knows exactly what we need to do instantly, while our outer, overly critical overly thinking self needs to warm up to it.

Sometimes we need space. Sometimes we need connection. Life is a mixture of both.

I have this tendency to check out whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or under the weather. All I want to do is crawl away from all the noise and find somewhere quiet to be with myself. Vegging out is a tempting mistress (and I find myself marathoning random shows more than I care to admit) but what I’m really seeking is a silent place to be alone with myself. I’m not checking out of myself, I’m checking out of the world. I’m checking out of the external and checking into the internal.

So, I’ll avoid responding to texts. I’ll be more reluctant to answer email, and more reclusive to going to events or friendly invitations. Even if it’s something I’d normally love doing, I’ll avoid it. Because what I know I really need is space and breathing room to be alone with myself. (Note: better to let your friends know you need some solitude, versus ignore them for days.)

Ask yourself, when was the last time you were alone with yourself? No phone. No tv. No distractions. Just you and you. (And maybe a notebook and pen.)

Whether we know it or not. We all need solitude. Our best ideas come from giving ourselves space. That’s why all great ideas happen when you are driving alone in your car, going on an early walk, or standing in the shower as the sound of water drowns out the outer world.

There are other occasions, usually, when things are tough or sour, where all we want to avoid people (particularly the prying people closest to us), and yet we know (and try to ignore) we need help and the only way we are gonna get that help is to be around people (again, particularly the prying people closest to us). We don’t want to show that we are hurting. We don’t want to show our weakness. And yet we all know that’s exactly what we need to do.

Better to rip the bandage and reveal our wounds early, otherwise, they might fester and become worse. Sharing our weaknesses and scars is a part of what being a human being is about. I think it’s a component of storytelling that’s built into our DNA. Your story connects to my story and vice versa.

You might not always get the reaction you were hoping, but you at least likely won’t get the reaction you are expecting.

The difference between needing space and needing people is subtle. It takes some time (and a lot of patience) to be able to listen to yourself and figure out which you need. I think what we are seeking is similar — a level of clearheadedness or balance — but what drives each comes from different things. Whatever you think you need, it’s usually the opposite. Unless you are extremely in tune with your emotional wellbeing. If you are like the rest of us emotionally unintelligent work’s in progress(es), there are road signs you can watch out for —

Loneliness. Isolation. Feeling like you need to do and take care of everything yourself. These are signs that you need to be around people. Ideally, people that are smarter than you, care about you, and what to help and see you succeed.

Overwhelm. Overstimulated. Grumpy and feeling like everyone in the world is an idiot or out to get you. These are signs that you need to be alone with yourself. Ideally in nature. Or in a quiet place, you won’t be interrupted.

Ignore these signs at your own peril.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #841

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Stick to You

“The universe is transformation: life is opinion.”

Marcus Aurelius

Forget what everyone else is telling you to do. Do you.

Your gut (instinct) is already telling you what to do. When you feel it pulling you in a certain direction, why is it so hard to listen to it? Because it’s likely going against the grain. Of other people’s expectations. Of other people’s motivations. Maybe they are right (particularly if they are wise and experienced in what they are talking about) or maybe they’re wrong. Sometimes the only way to know is to go with your gut and find out the hard way.

Whenever you feel the urge to lend a hand or help someone, do it.

Whenever you feel called to choose one career decision over another, do it.

Whenever you feel the pull of standing up for your values and principles, do it.

And if all else fails, seek the advice of someone smarter than you.

If we don’t stick to who we are and who we want to be, then who are we?

Somebody else.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #840

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Autopilot Life

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Confucius

We often live life on autopilot. Going where the wind (of others) takes us. I don’t think we have complete control over our lives, but at the very least we can say a prayer to ourselves and put our hands on the wheel.

It’s difficult to see what you are doing wrong, if anything, without proper reflection on what you’re doing.

Just because you’re going in a certain direction doesn’t make it a direction that works out for you.

There is no right or wrong direction per se. It’s more like there is the direction we can choose to take that align better to who we are and what we want out of life versus going against who we are (or who we want to be).

Many mistakes can happen when you go in and wing it. While over-preparation can hurt momentum, it never hurts to be more prepared rather than unprepared and caught off guard. It’s like they say, it’s better to go to a party overdressed (to the nines) than underdressed.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #838

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No More Snoozing

“Those who have compared our life to a dream were right… we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep.”

Michel de Montaigne

“I’ve stopped drinking, but only while I’m asleep.”

George Best

We all have problems in life — eventually. The thing about big problems is that 80% of the time they aren’t that way. I’m not trying to be cynical, honest. I’ve just seen firsthand how easy little problem acorns can grow into giant problem trees. Problems usually start where they are too short to ride the rollercoaster, so to speak.

All of the bigger problems I’m facing — the ones I currently have as of writing this anyway — are the accumulation of little things that have grown over my lifetime. Things like spending too much of my day sitting. Falling prey to a midnight sweet (cooooookies🍪 ) that messes up my sleep quality. Pushing off a silly medical bill, hoping it will go away.

Certain things we can’t control and shouldn’t stress over. If you fall because you’re walking in a dark room with no access to a light source to see, is it really your fault for tripping. But other things like neglect, we can control as long as we stay on top of the little things yet important things in life.

Neglect can come from anywhere. Small bills you weren’t aware of that have been growing over time. Bad habits, like walking a certain way, or abusing a component of your body (like your back, neck or feet), which leads to painful problems down the line. Friends you want to keep in touch with but just never found the time to do so. Neglect usually comes with hard lessons of humility that show us a better way to live.

Humility is one of those friends that tells it like it is. While most people compliment you what a good job you’re doing, humility is backhanding you in the face with things/realties you’re not seeing. But not because Humility is out to get you or wants to see you fail. Humility is there to show you where you had blinders on.

Remember, the biggest problems we face in life are usually not big problems at all — there an amalgamation of tiny subtle problems we didn’t notice or kept hitting the snooze button on.

No more snooze button.

Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean we are handing the problem. When we ignore a problem we’re actually just feeding the monster baby. If we keep ignoring it, soon enough that monster baby isn’t going to be a baby any longer.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #837

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Inner Work

“This is not your responsibility, but it is your problem.”
— Cheryl Strayed

We don’t get to choose what kind of problems we face in life. Big or small. Maybe if we were able to catch the problem* before it bit us in the ⓐss we could have found a way around it. But that type of wishful thinking about making our past flubs and distress better is exactly what leads to more problems in the first place.

My problems are part of my story. Even if I wasn’t the cause of them happening. (‘not my responsibility’) I can try to deny it. I can wish for different problems. I can try to cope it away through over-shopping or over-working. I can blame the world. But they are still my problems and mine to solve. I’m the one suffering because of them.

Our problems are part of our story.

Taking ownership is our responsibility. And how we react to a problem is also our problem too. I think we all know that getting angry or sad or lost in our problems is like us throwing fuel on the fire. It’s hard to enjoy a campfire when it’s catching everything around it on fire too. We have to find to take responsibility for how we react too. Therapy. Creative outlets. Communication. Positive Habits. Small steps towards healing. Whatever moves us to the next leg of our personal hero’s journey.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #834

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*I have been interested lately in figuring out ways to build a more accountable network of friends and community around me so that I can spot potential pitfalls and problems before they accumulating 💩 buckets and tip over. A community of mutually constructive feedback. I’ll write more about this soon.

Meanie Me

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The enemy is the inner me.”

Nick Miller, New Girl

I think deep down there’s a part of me that wants to fail. (And I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment.) Of course, I want to succeed. I want to create meaningful work. I want to experience life to the utmost. I want to make enough money to add fuel to my creativity.

But there’s a part of me that doesn’t. Let’s call him Jerry.

Jerry wants things to stay the same. Jerry is lazy and doesn’t care about the future. All he care’s about is immediate pleasures. Jerry wants his gallon of ice cream. Jerry wants me to fail because Jerry (and all the Jerry’s I’ve run across in life) thinks failure is all I’m good for. But Jerry wants what jerry wants, not what I want.

We often push so hard to be who we want to be. We work late hours. We do what others don’t. All for our inner Jerry’s to grab the wheel and crash the car. It’s not Jerry’s fault. Jerry is Jerry. The fault is my own. We let our inner enemy, our resistance, our past failures, and fears drive us, we are taking our hands off the wheel of our dreams and desires.

  • Anger can get you far, but it won’t make you any happier.
  • Fear can motivate, but it usually just diminishes instead.
  • Failure (and the fear of failure) keeps us locked and stuck in place.
  • Envy separates us from what opportunity and good fortune we have within our own circumstances and journey.
  • Worry and apathy keeps us from being alive.
  • Resentment rots.
  • Anxiety is the embodiment of FOMO and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough.

We are good enough. Maybe we aren’t in an ideal situation we’d like to be, but who really is? We are good enough to use what we have to create something better. And enjoy what we have while also striving for improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #833

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Intent is Powerful…

But not so much if we tell everyone about it. The power doesn’t come from speaking about it. The power comes from the energy (purpose/why/drive/desire) behind it.

When we talk about things we are going to do, we’re setting ourselves up for potential failure.

It’s not that we are lying when we say what our intent is. The problem is just because we say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. Plus there’s a lot of setbacks (usually out of our control) that can distract and get in the way of doing what we say.

Having the public accountability could give us the butt fire we need to follow through, but it could also leave us publicly displaying how bad we are at following through sometimes — even with every intention of doing it well.

Better to let our intention speak through our actions.

Better to only talk about things we are doing or have done.

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”

John Burroughs

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #830

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Your Enthusiasm Is Showing

“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”

Pele

I always enjoyed math in school, but it wasn’t until I explored the subject on my own and discovered all the interesting tidbits and people you don’t hear about in class. You have time to learn how to solve for X, but only had a vague idea who Rene Descartes or Galileo Galilei was (and others like them) and intrigue surrounding their ideas.

To be enthusiastic, you have to take a genuine interest in what you are talking about. On the surface, some things (pick your poison: gardening, construction, Math, geology, DMV’s, etc) can seem boring, but there’s usually a hidden gem or two that allows you to go deeper into the subject and find what’s exciting or unexpected about it.

Enthusiasm is a power resourceful. And when it’s backed by skill, it can dent universes. Even when you can’t back your enthusiasm with skill, it can’t lead you towards gaining skill rapidly and also create the illusion of skill.

Put two people with identical ideas next to each other but one person is enthusiastic and the other is boring and there’s no question which idea stands out more.

Like a moth to a candlelit flame, we are drawn to enthusiastic people.

And like any resource, enthusiasm can be used well or poorly. Enthusiasm can also be used at you to convince you of ideas and perspective, which isn’t necessarily a bad or good thing.

When enthusiasm used for good, it allows us to open up and grow into better people. By surrounding ourselves with enthusiastic people, we can feed off their energy and charm and feel more energized and enthusiastic ourselves. We learn new things, find interesting stories and opportunities.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #829

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Creative Downtime

“I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest – but suffer from a constant strain.”

Henry David Thoreau

One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that I need a healthy amount of downtime (Josh time) during the week. Otherwise, I’ll turn into a Granny Smith apple (aka sour and don’t talk to me vibes). Ideally, I try to have at least an hour each day to myself — but that depends on the week. And if I can, I try to have a full day of creativity where I can focus on personal projects and learning.

The weekend is technically supposed to be our downtime, but since everybody’s off, it’s like nobody’s off. Chores to do, places to be and people to see. But what about us?

Are we giving ourselves what we need to thrive? Are we nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits? Or are we just running from one thing to the next like our hair is on fire, completely putting ourselves last? Are you even giving yourself downtime?

It’s not selfish to put yourself first.

There are a time and place for giving (your time, energy and other resources) to others. But if you’re emotionally and energetically bankrupt from giving too much of yourself, then what good are you to others?

Prioritize downtime for yourself, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Daily walk with your thoughts
  • Journalling
  • Taking a dance class
  • Drawing
  • A hot bath
  • Practicing music
  • Writing
  • Doing something with your hands — pottery, woodwork, origami, etc
  • Exercising
  • Cooking for yourself

Choose something that rejuvenates you. (And ideally, something you don’t do for money).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #827

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Related:

“It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Work on Yourself

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

Malcolm X

It’s quite easy to see the flaws in other people. You have a friend that would be killing it… if only they would put in a little more effort. Or you have a parent who would be so much better off if they would stop worrying all the time about everything. Or you strike up a conversation with a randoe person and notice exactly the things they could improve.

It’s harder to see the flaws in ourselves.

We don’t see ourselves from the outside perspective. We don’t know what we don’t know. What’s easy for you to solve might be difficult for me, because we’ve experienced life in different ways through different experiences.

Although, I think people growing up today with social media might have a better sense of it, but not in a good way. Everything is styled and curated. If something’s wrong, they notice. But they don’t use it to try to improve themselves (or learn to accept their flaws as a part of what makes them who they are). Instead, we see waves of self-loathing and anxiety.

It’s alright to be flawed. No one is flawless, even the people that tell/show us they are. We all have things we are great at and things we need to work on.

One insight I found help on my journey is to think about yourself as a work in progress. If you don’t like something about yourself, then change it. If you want to be better, then be better. You are a blank canvas waiting to be painted and repainted. You can change. And you can change your mind over time too.

And if you want to help others, begin by helping yourself. Take the lead. Live the example first. Don’t just shout advice like you have a clue what you are talking about when you don’t. Give advice on what you do know, or examples of who does.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #823

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Related:

Book: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant