Squaring the Hole — How to Think Longterm in Life’s Fragility

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.”

Tyler, The Creator

I write a lot about daily habits. Doing something daily or consistently allows you to take advantage of the compounding benefit of time. We divide a year into 365 days (or 366 days on a leap year). 10 to 30 minutes of practice times 365 days = 3650 to 10950 minutes of practice. An hour is double that. As you can see, a little time invested can go a long way.

But what about if tomorrow doesn’t come? As Logic says in his song Fade Away, “Everybody gonna die, gonna go one day, maybe it’ll happen on a Monday. Driving to work and get hit by a Hyundai, f* it, let it all go one day.” Tomorrow, For all we know we could get hit by a Hyundai, of all things, and never get our chance to do and be all that we want to be.

It’s hard to say where life will take you. Usually where you would never expect, and yet somehow makes since when you back on things and line up the pieces. Most of it is out of our control. The more we can learn to accept that, roll with it and find opportunities no matter what comes our way, the happier and better off we will be.

Our thoughts and decisions are in our control. And while we can’t control everything that goes on outside of our own minds and actions, how we think and what we do place a big part in how our lives shape up.

There’s a lot of things I’d like to accomplish and experience in life. But having a vision or dream for your life doesn’t assure that it will happen. Having a dream is the first step. And making it happen is the second step. But somewhere in that undisclosed middle, a lot can happen.

1. We let fear control us.

“The whole point is to live life and be – to use all the colors in the crayon box.”

RuPaul

We act out of fear. We breathe and sweat fear and failure. We do the wrong thing for the right reasons or the right thing for the wrong reasons. We avoid our dreams because there’s “always tomorrow” or because there’s always something that seems to get in the way.

2. We live by other people’s dreams instead of our own.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.”

Benjamin Franklin

We live a shadow dream, as Steven Pressfield calls it in Turn Pro. It looks similar to what we want, but in reality, we’re just avoiding what we really want to do out of fear or embarrassment or not being good enough or any number of other things we convince ourselves of — all with thoughts that are supposed to be in our control.

3. Or we even chase after our dreams so hard and far that we forget to be present and enjoy our lives in the process.

“Confine yourself to the present.”

Marcus Aurelius

We get everything we want, but forget to spend time with the people we love and forget to enjoy the process towards success while we are building it. Or worse — we don’t get what we want, and we still miss out on the time and experience spent with our love ones.

But luckily, all there’s are in our domain of control — our thoughts and our actions. We can learn and train ourselves not to act out of fear, but out of abundance and beginner’s mind.

There’s room in life to enjoy the present, while also preparing and building for the future.

By living life to the fullest each day.
By taking things as they are, not as they could or should be.
By not letting fear win.
By choosing our own path.
By not letting our dreams consume us.
And by living a little when we remember too.

“What really matters is what you do with what you have.”

H. G. Wells

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #872

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Coronavirus Resources

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

I’m not the type of person that gets caught up in fearing things that are outside of my control. Perhaps that comes from the chronic neck issue I’ve been renting a room with the past 8 years. There’s not a lot of things that phases me, and it takes a mountain of effort to get under my skin.

That being said, a global virus we are currently dealing with isn’t about me. It’s about all of us. I likely won’t be harmed by it if I get it. But that’s potentially not true for the elderly or less healthy individuals. A lot of people will try to capitalize on the crisis. A lot will panic buy lots of toilet paper. A lot of people will be misinformed, but you don’t have to be.

It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s hype out there. Here’s a great list of resources from top-notch doctors and experienced experts to help you navigate the truth from hype, and stay in control in a world where very little is in our control:

Peter Attia:

#97 – Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D.: COVID-19: transmissibility, vaccines, risk reduction, and treatment – Peter Attia

#98 – Peter Attia, M.D. and Paul Grewal, M.D.: Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ – Peter Attia

Dr. Weil:

COVID-19: What You Should Know About Coronavirus | Andrew Weil, M.D.

Dr. Andrew Weil – Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention tactics…

Tim Ferriss:

Tyler Cowen on Rationality, COVID-19, Talismans, and Life on the Margins (#413) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Jack Kornfield — How to Find Peace Amidst COVID-19, How to Cultivate Calm in Chaos (#414) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss


STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #870

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Informed vs. Ignored

Part of our circumstances is other people’s mistakes. This is particularly tough when they’re mistakes from people we admire and love. Intentional or not, you were hurt by someone else’s lack.

This too is part of our story. And out of our control.

Can you change what happened to you? No.

Can you do your best to make it better for yourself and others going forward? Absolutely.

Should you forgive them? Maybe. It depends on the situation. I’d like to be forgiven when I make stupid mistakes. We’re all human after all.

Better that than bottling everything up or ignoring what you don’t want to see. We can’t control everything that comes our way, but how we react is in our control, and that’s on us.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #853

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Negativity Attracts Negativity

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”

Elbert Hubbard

I’ve had my fair share of negative moments. The last decade of my life has been buttered with various difficulties. Health, finances, friendships, betrayal. It’s easy to fall into a negative lull. But one thing you learn quickly (if you’re paying close attention) about being negative is it doesn’t get you anywhere. Feeling negative doesn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t solve your problems. In fact, it doesn’t help you at all. 

All negativity is good for is keeping you exactly where you don’t want to be.

What does negativity get you?

More opportunities?

More friends?

More success?

More like opportunities you don’t want. And negative friends that keep you in a negative bubble.

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Let’s look at negativity’s counterpart: positivity. I think people bristle at the idea of positivity because they assume that being positive or optimistic means expecting everything to work out in your favor. But expecting everything to go your way is an unrealistic ego-driven way to live. Of course things won’t go our way. That’s where being positive comes in handy. The value of positivity is when things inevitably don’t work out the way we want. Positivity is a reliable tool for when life beats you up and steals your lunch money.

This bad thing happened. What’s something I can look forward to? What can I do better next time? What’s something good that can come from this.

Good things that come from struggles and unfortunate circumstances are the worst best lessons we can have. *Worst* because if we could change the past we’d likely go back and make sure they don’t happen. *Best* because they are life-altering. They change our life’s trajectory and story. In my case, a chronic injury helped me become interested in health, medicine, and wellness.

Positivity also attracts luck. And abundance. And don’t forget opportunities. There’s a lot of upside to living positivity, but I can’t say the same about being negative.

Related:

“Negativity is the enemy of creativity.”

David Lynch

“The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous.”

David Icke

“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

Kobe Bryant

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #852

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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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Creativity & Ambition

Whenever I go to a concert or festival, I can’t help but feel that I’m on the wrong side of the stage. If you see me there, I’m the weird guy (no, not that weird guy, he’s on another level) who occasionally becomes very still and stops bobbing and dancing. It’s likely because I’m watching what the guitarist or keyboardist hands are doing. I’m picking apart the drums and synths. I’m admiring the singer’s vocal palette and the band’s synchronicity. I’m still enjoying the show, but I’m enjoying it in a different way through an artist’s perspective. If you play an instrument, you’ll likely be able to relate.

I feel the same way when seeing superb broadway or watch a film, or admire good art or outfit, or underline a great word or turn of phrase in a book. I enjoy creativity at a deep level and want to go deeper still. I can see a fuzzy outline of tendrils where different creative and mental outlets weave and interconnect. It’s like discovering a language you aren’t familiar with but have moments of clarity when words of striking similarity to your native tongue pop out and identify themselves to you.

If there’s a Grand Unified Theory of the Universe, surely there’s also a Grand Unified Theory of Creativity.

(Yeah Josh, It’s called Math 🤓 you dumb dumb.)

But what makes someone creative?

Is it a feeling? Is it in our DNA? Is it the act of creating?

What separates those that do versus those that don’t? What’s the difference between a musician who makes it to the stage and a musician who creates at home?

Not that being on a stage is everything. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with only enjoying your art alone. But there is a certain special something — certain gumption — I admire for the creatives and dreamers who put themselves out there. No, I don’t mean starting an Instagram account and slapping a logo together in Canva.

I’m talking about the folks you put in the work. The ones that get down to brass tax and put in the time and effort to pursue their creativity. The ones who go out and build a business around a product or service that means something to them and provides meaning to others. The dancers, writers, poets, bodybuilders, athletes or designers who wake up early and begin their practice.

The word Ambition comes to mind. As does belief. You have to believe in yourself, at least enough to have the courage to try and the courage to breathe out the fear and walk out on the ‘stage’.

And the antithetical ego comes to mind as well. All artists who put themselves out there in some way shape or form think they are unique and have something to offer the world. Including myself! What kind of ego do you need to have a daily blogging practice as well as another dozen practices? (A BIG kahuna.)

But at the same time, at its core, creativity has to come from a place of love. Or at least a desire to be better, to do better. I would continue to play music even if I didn’t make a dime on it. I’d continue to write and practice the craft of writing because I love it for what it is and what it gives me. An outlet. A brush to paint with. A song to sing. A beat to dance. A comic to doodle.

Not because I can create, but because I can’t not do it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #825

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Related:

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

Oscar Wilde

“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius

Channeling Pain

Moments of crisis are good for creativity if you can find a way to channel it. One look at an emotionally striking painting or one listen to a sad and heavy song will show you the power of channeling pain through creativity.

The problems and painful experiences we go through can create something positive and impactful.

We’re already there, deep in the rawness of what we are feeling, now all we need to do is express it in as a creative outlet.

And it doesn’t always have to be a painting or a song.

It could be designing a product or service that solves a personal pain-point that could help others.

It could be writing an insightful book you needed to read, but couldn’t find it.

It could be running and training for a marathon.

It could be sculpting an abstract world out of Popsicle sticks.

Art is not just canvas and paint. It’s imagination and expression.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #798

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Wind in the Sail

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

December always puts me in a reflective mood. Blame it on the cozy weather, nostalgic music or the New Year’s hustle and bustle, I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about the ups and downs of this past year.

Honestly, this year been one of the hardest I’ve been through. I’ve worked a ton this year, but don’t have much to show for it. I spent a lot of time co-running at a start-up, working long hours, underpaid, undervalued and thinking I was an owner but in reality, was anything but. The founder said I had equity, but unfortunately, He was omitting the truth and never actually (intended to) give me ownership. Amor Fati. His loss.

I’ve had good opportunities, but I’ve also been coming into December with financial flubs (mostly from short term problems and emergencies I wasn’t able to resolve immediately) and feelings of bitterness I’m trying to shake off like a bad taste.

There are some great things happening in my life right now, but (why is there a but) honestly I feel a little like the wind has been let out of my sails. Meaning, I don’t feel as confident in myself and my dreams lately. Perhaps I just need to rest more and recover.

Perhaps we all need to rest a little more than we do.

I’m stressed, but I don’t feel stuck. Change meets us right away and adds up each day that passes. Life is to short to get stuck feeling stuck.

New work opportunities. New friends and deep connections with old friends. New confidence.

Here are a few ways we can add more wind to our sails:

Get out of your element:

  • Go to different spaces
  • Try new activities and hobbies
  • Grab a friend and go dancing

Play like a kid:

  • Do something you loved to do as a kid
  • Go outside and make up an imaginary game to play
  • Go do something nourishing for the hell of it.

Sleep and Move MF:

I don’t think we were made to sit and look at a screen all day.

  • Make time for making things with your hands
  • Make time for nature
  • Make time for conversations with friends

Eat as well as you can:

  • Eat something more than just pizza and pasta for Josh’s sakes.
  • Cook a healthy meal, salmon or lots of veggies
  • Try fasting in between all the feasting

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #766


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