Coloring book

Like a coloring book, life gives us an outline. Our circumstances and decisions build the outline of what our life looks like. We don’t choose where we are born. We don’t choose our family. We don’t choose our culture.

But it’s our perspectives, emotions and thoughts that determine the colors of what our drawing looks like. We choose what we say. We choose what we do with what we’ve got.

Anger and entitlement paints it red.
Bitterness and pain can paint it black.
Humility and learning to let things go, blue and yellow.

A poorly drawn outline can become beautiful with thoughtful colors. (Happy trees.)

Sometimes red is part of our story. Sometimes red leads us to blue. I don’t think it matters whether we want to color outside the lines or inside instead. What we need to look out for is when our drawing is all one color and out of balance.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #744


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Worth it

Essential should take priority over immediate. And yet, we often allow ourselves and feel driven to do the opposite. There’s many reasons we could point to — we didn’t sleep well last night, we are distracted by pain or distracted by shiny things, etc.

What’s easier: answering a few emails and clearing out your inbox or working on your app?

What’s more appealing: watching Netflix or sweating at the gym?

What’s more exciting: going out for drinks or putting butt in seat and writing?

Essential over immediate.

The essential takes more time, energy and intention. No wonder we struggle to get anything important done! We trade short-term pleasures for long-term success and happiness. Not that we have to give up happiness in the present in order to have it in the future. Rather, happiness comes from the process of spending our time and energy in ways that we love and find meaningful. Even an ounce of effort spent on what we love creates massive returns on the rest of our effort (which we might have to give to our other responsibilities, such as working to afford food for our family).

There’s another big reason that the important things tend to get benched:

The important things become too important. Or in other words, the essential things we want to do are so important that we end up not doing them. We idealize and fantasize them into a undefeatable monster in our minds. We (consciously or subconsciously) delay, avoid, distract, procrastinate and psych ourselves out from doing them. And eventually we end up filling our time and energy with everything BUT the things we want to do.

I’m making it seem clear and cut-and-dry, but it’s usually anything but. In reality the tradeoffs are so subtle. We hardly even notice we are selling ourselves short and are feeding the wrong things. We trade what we really want to do, for second or third-best options because we think that’s all we desire or are capable of doing.

Because what if we fail?
What if we waste all this time and energy for nothing?
What if we succeed and are still unhappy?

Ultimately it comes down to giving yourself some space and asking yourself is it worth it or not.

Is this worth my finite amount of time and energy?
Is this going to add value to my life AND the lives around me?
Is this going to provide me meaning and happiness in the present, regardless if I fail or succeed in the end?

Failing at something you love is better than succeed at something you hate or find mediocre.

Because failure is recoverable. But we can’t get back wasted time on things that don’t matter.

The road to mediocrity is born from hesitation and feeding ‘what you are supposed to do’ instead of what you feel called to do.

What do you feel called to do in this life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #734


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More to Lose vs. Nothing to Lose

“You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be.”

Chuck Palahniuk

The thing about accumulating nice things and expensive tastes is that we have more to lose.

One bad house fire and everything we own turns into firewood. One unfortunately accurate tornado will take everything you own with it. A downturn of the market, or a new technology could make our jobs disappear. Of course, we shouldn’t spend our days worrying about natural disasters and others things that aren’t in our control. The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca once taught, “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” Worry sucks the energy out of our ability to do anything about it. Disasters may come, and all we can do is prepare for risks, prepare for the worst and put the worry away so we can go on with our lives.

Our stuff is so much more than just things too. It’s our memories, our expectations and ideals. It’s our desire to change and be better. Which is fantastic and beautiful, but can also hold us back if we aren’t paying attention.

And that’s the hardest part about losing nice things, we aren’t prepared to let them go.

Not letting things go is another form of worry. It holds us back from doing what we really want to do in life.

I recently read a short Zen Buddhist story about a guy named Badhiya (no idea how to pronounce his name. Bad-hi-ya?). He was a governor of a province wealth beyond imagine — soldiers at his command, money and power —but his friend persuaded him to leave it all behind and was ordained as a monk, with nothing but a mat, one bowl and three robes to his name.

One night Badhiya was meditating at the foot of a tree. Suddenly he uttered, the words, “Oh my happiness, oh my happiness.” It happened that another monk was sitting nearby. The other monk thought that Badhiya regretted having abandoned his position as governor.” The monk reported this to Buddha, thinking Badhiya has a problem, so the Buddha sent his attendant to invite Badhiya to come by. In front of a group of monks Buddha said, “Badhiya, is it true that last night during sitting meditation you pronounced two time the sentence, ‘Oh my happiness, oh my happiness’?” Badhiya said, “Yes, noble teacher, I did pronounce that sentence twice.”
“Could you explain to us why you have pronounced these three words during the night?” the Buddha asked. Badhiya said, “Dear teacher, when I was a governor my palace was guarded by hundreds of soldiers. But I was still very afraid. I was afraid robbers would come and kill me or at least take away all my valuables. So day and night I lived in fear. But last night I realized that now I have nothing to lose. I was sitting out in the forest at the foot of a tree, and never in my life have I felt so safe. Nobody wants to kill me anymore because I have no power, no wealth, and no jewels for anyone to take. I have nothing. Yet I finally have everything. I am touching such a great happiness and freedom. That is why I have pronounced the words, ‘Oh my happiness, oh my happiness.’ If I have disturbed someone, I am sorry.”

By having everything, he was afraid of losing it all. But by having nothing he was free.

Now, I’m not advocating for us to get rid of everything that we own and not enjoy the fruits of our luck and opportunity. I’m just suggesting that it’s unwise to be reliant and beholden to what we own and what tastes we build.

Here’s an example: Can you go even a day without coffee? I couldn’t. A few years ago, I even went on a trip to Thailand and brought mostly coffee supplies with me! I had the works: an electric kettle, a french press… you name it. I wasn’t always into coffee, but now all of a sudden I couldn’t live without it. Until last year. Last year I went off coffee for a full year.

I think it’s healthy to live without the unnecessary things we think we need to be normal and happy. What do you think you can’t live without? Nice clothes? Spotify and Netflix? Expensive wine or cocktails? None of these things are bad per se, but if they are controlling you, especially in negative ways, then they might be.

I still enjoy coffee and tea. I’m not going to forgo drinking it. I love the ritual of making it in the morning and sipping it slowly while reading. But I know now I can stop when I want to and I’ll keep testing what’s good and not good for me for the rest of my life. It reminds me of a quote from Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”

Action Step: What nice but unessential things can you practice living without?

The reason we might have more to lose is because we can end up letting our things own us.

Can we have nice underwear and a new iPhone while also having a ‘nothing to lose ‘ mindset?

Yes, but it requires thoughtful ongoing work. If we can take care of the abundance of things we have around us, while not being afraid to lose them, we can not let the unimportant things hold us back and keep us from living the life and impact we dream of achieving.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #722


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Don’t Defeat Yourself

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.”

Peter Diamandis

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

Marcus Aurelius

How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried? There’s many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is our mind.

Our mind is the foundation to any challenge or problem we face. Face off any two equally skilled athletes yet opposing mindsets — one who believes they can win and one who doesn’t or who has uncertainty — and the stronger, more open mind will always win.

Mindset a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if its because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our thoughts and self-defeating chatter is not a usual dinner topic in our society because our mind and our thoughts are not something others can hear.

Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or hot isn’t the best way to live. But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?

We are hostile to ourselves, especially when our outside world (be it work, family, finances, stress, etc) is baring down on us in times of failure and difficulty.

When we are feeling low, our negative self-defeating mind doesn’t pull any punches.

There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remember that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are the easiest person to defeat with our own mind if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.

One thing no one teaches us is that mindset is a skill to be practiced.

I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observe and listen to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABC’s and 123’s before we can write and read.

But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel peaks our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.

It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…

So what can we do to cultivate our mind?

We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.

We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.

We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.

We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.

We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.

Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts. Thoughts beget actions beget habits beget results.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

Buddha

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Henry Ford

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #712


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A Good Companion

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

They say a dog is a humans best friend. Being an owner of a dog, I completely agree. It’s hard to get a more loyal and happy companion than a your little furry friend 🐶.

However, I find it a little sad though. Because you would think, of all the people who would we our best friend, it would be ourselves. Shouldn’t we be our own best friend. Who is in better alignment with our dreams, thoughts, feelings, and emotions than ourselves? Shouldn’t we have the most sympathy and loyalty to ourselves?

And yet, we are usually our own worst critic. We don’t believe in our abilities. We think we can change, but never actually do. We hate who we are. We wear ourselves out with negativity, worry, regret, indecision and fear. And we even tend to go behind our own back without knowing!

How can we resolve this?

How do we become our own best friend?

First, we must learn who we are. It’s difficult to like someone who you don’t know anything about.

To do that, we have to be alone with ourselves.

Nature helps. Go be on the water or out in the woods. Rent a kayak, go for a hike or take a walk in the park. Motion helps too. A silent car ride on your way to work, or a road trip to the next town over. A morning bike ride or run. Do what you have to do to get yourself alone without technology or others.

Breathe. Be weird for a moment. Ask yourself questions. Listen for answers. Care about who you are. How would a friend treat you? What would a dog do? (W.W.D.D.?)

Second, we must learn to keep our past in the past. The past can cut us up daily. Maybe you’re not proud of a decision or moment in your past. Maybe a regret haunts you to this day. And, most of all, maybe you’re mad or resentful or envious about decisions someone else made to you or for you. How often do you let the past – something out of our control – rule over your day? One bad egg shouldn’t ruin the bunch. A head in the past has no bite in the present and no ambition for the future. Let. It. Go. Light a prayer lantern. Do a seance. Dance naked under the moon (please don’t do this). But serious, seek advice, seek council, find help. Let go of who you were, so you can be who are are.

Seek out ways to let go of your ghosts. They’ve gotten you this far, but you don’t need them any longer.

List out all the benefits you can think of for a difficult moment in your past has helped you. List all the downsides of it not happening.

Third, we also must learn who we want to be, and let go of any shortcomings or flaws we have and struggle with on our way towards our ideal self.

The goal is to be okay with who we are and what we’ve got to work with, while at the same time continuously pursuing a better version of our selfs.

I know, It’s a weird balance. There’s a lot of pitfalls that can get us stuck. The key is understanding that the ideal self is the goal, but never the end goal. The point isn’t to make our best self the end all be all. The point is to try with all of our might. The value is in the act of pursuit, not reaching a moment. The top of the mountain is fleeting. The top of the second mountain isn’t any more satisfying. The joy comes from the climb up. The pursuit of meaning is what matters.

If we can master these three things, AND have a dog — we’ll practically be unstoppable*.

(* until we die anyway)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #707


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Don’t Stop

“Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

Leonardo da Vinci

There’s an expression, ‘two steps forward, one step back’, that’s difficult to feel the depths of until you’ve felt the frustration being one step back.

Some days my goals feel like a plane strapped to my shoulders and I’m shoving with all my might to make a few steps forward.

It’s worth asking yourself, when you are metaphorically (or physically) pulling, lifting and otherwise maneuvering a heavy object, whether or not you actually want too in the first place.

Not every goal we have is our own. Some come from our culture, like buying a new car. Some come from our parents or our childhood, like meeting an expectation that they never could themselves. And some even come from other people, who pitch their goals so well you want in too. Not only if these are bad. Inspiration can lead us to new directions and a life we never dreamed of. But we need to make sure it’s something we want for ourselves (and ultimately the world) too.

Pulling a goal is hard; Pulling one you don’t even like is worse. Because what if you succeed and don’t like where you end up?

Pulling a goal that yours though is worth every drop of blood, tears and sweat though.

Any doubt in yourself and you stop moving. Negative thoughts are always try to get in the way. If it’s your goal – truly your goal – then it’s worth it. The only way forward is to not stop. If we stop, we rust. An inch one day. Nothing the next. A slight turn that felt impossible. A step backwards the next. Every effort counts. It all adds up to your story and your impact on my story.

The people who make it furthest in life with their dreams and pursuits are the ones who don’t stop. (Or maybe the ones too dumb to stop. :P)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #705


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I Need a Tune Up

“Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can’t find who it’s originally attributed to, but there’s a great quote from the show Justified where the protagonist, Rayland, is bringing in a drug dealer or something and says “If you run into an *sshole in the morning, you ran into an *sshole. If you run into *ssholes all day, you’re the *sshole.”

Personally, I’ve noticed that when I’m in a bad or discouraging mood, every little things seems to be against me. I wake up late, feeling tired. Everyone I come into contact is in a bad mood. My car is out of gas. There’s construction and traffic on my way to work. I trip and rip my pants.

The real problem isn’t the traffic, the problem is me. (It’s not you, it’s me.) And more specifically its my mental state.

When I’m feeling great mentally, everything is great! Traffic seems much lighter today than normal! Wow, I’m literally getting all green lights. Who cares that I tripped and ripped my pants. It was time to get new ones anyway.

I wonder if our mindset works on the same wavelength of music frequency.

We tune instruments, such as a guitar or piano, to be in tune to a particular harmony. Does ‘tuning’ our minds to a more optimistic mindset create more harmony in our lives?

It’s more likely that having an optimistic view of our life, in good or bad circumstances, changes how we perceive what happens to us. So when setbacks happen, our optimistic mindset become a mental firewall to self-criticism and despair, which makes us more resilient to negative circumstances.

All when need to do is figure out how to turn the guitar tuning pegs, so to speak, and align our mental strings to the correct note.

First, we must become aware of our mental states. It’s hard to stop being a crabby patty if you don’t know you are acting like one. This requires us to make regular mental pit stops to check in with ourselves and make sure we are acting from the mindset we want to be in. Am I grumpy? Do I feel agitated or annoyed by things that normally aren’t? Am I hangry?

Second, we need to cover our bases. Did I get enough sleep last night? Do I need a nap? When was the last time I took a break? When was the last time I had water or ate something? It’s the little things that we are neglecting that cause us the most trouble.

It’s the little things that we are neglecting that cause us the most trouble.

And lastly, we need to find a way to reset. Easier said than done, but taking time for ourselves helps. Go for a walk. Take a break and pick up a good book. Read a blog post or two. Go play a pickup basketball game with a friend. Run up some hills. Breathe. Do whatever you need to do to reset your mental state.

When we are in tune, and acting from a mental state of possibility and opportunity, life is electric. Setbacks become moments to practice resilience. Failure becomes lessons. And all the good things become joy.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #671

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Mr. Brightside

What good will being pessimistic do for you?

When has being negative ever helped you succeed?

When things suck, look for the good in your situation. There is always a sliver of hope in a sea of despair that when clutched shines out the darkest moments. 

I know it’s hard to be positive when you’re in the middle of things and everything is crumbling around you like a smushed cake donut, but positive is the way out.

Those insufferable optimistic people are usually the happiest and most fulfilled out there afterall.

Like anything else, optimism is a habit. It takes practice. It’s looking at reality and facing it head-on. It’s a genuine smile in the face of your fear. It’s words of encouragement to a friend or colleague when things are dreary. It’s believing in yourself that you can do this, that you can make a difference.

Positivity is a habit we cultivate and grow, not something we are born with.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,
— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” — Joseph Campbell

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” — Zig Ziglar

Reach Out First

Wherever you are in life, whatever your goals are, waiting for a something to happen is a surefire way its never going to come.

Dreams and opportunity work a lot like ordering a pizza — if you don’t call it in and order it, it’s not going to be delivered to you. And they aren’t delivered for free — you have to pay for them in with something (time, energy, sanity etc).

(What a cheesy line josh 🙂

There is no limit to the amount of opportunity that surrounds you. But it’s not going to show up with breadsticks and ranch sauce without you seeking it out.

You have to reach out first.

Ask for help. Work on your art. Practice your pursuits everyday. Learn to be great at what you love to do. Time is just an incubator for your greatest success. Failures become lessons. Priorities reveal themselves.

Complacency is letting life happen at us. Renaissance is relentlessly pursuing life, 110 percent.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Bubbling Resolve

Don’t hesitate.

I️ feel a change coming in my life. A calm before the storm.

How can I️ be ready, yet feel not feel ready at the same time?
Fear, creativity, anxiety, challenge, confidence, workaholicism, boldness are all bundled up, fighting each other for dominance.

I’m not trying to be poetic here, just trying to describe the song being repeated in my mind.

Resolve is bubbling up to the surface, gaining speed, getting louder.

I­t­ says:

“Start living and acting like whoever the hell you want to be.”

Love painting, but hate accounting? Then why are you an accountant? Safe doesn’t mean ALIVE. “When given a choice, take both.” — Peter Diamandis

Last year, I️ gave away all of my time so that I️ could survive. To eat, pay rent, and live, which didn’t give me much time to create and make things for myself. I️ continued to try, but its hard to focus on creativity when you worry about money. But after I️ got my work in better shape, I️ still wasn’t creating, not enough anyway. Even though most of my time was taken up, I️ started a daily blogging challenge. I️ squeezed I­t­ out with the little free time I️ had at night.  This is day 114. But it’s not enough, I️ want to do more, and do it better.

I️ want to be all that I️ can be, no exceptions.
I️ want to create: to sing, speak, write, design, act, connect, dance, instruct, paint, move, build and live a life true to my creative self.

That’s who I️ am. That’s how I️ resolve to live.
Perhaps you want the same.

If so, know this:

You don’t have to be ready to start, you just have to be TRUE.

Be the truest person in the room.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” — Helen Keller

“To make our way, we must have firm resolve, persistence, tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up.” — Ralph Bunche