Mental Handcuffs

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”

Marcus Aurelius

“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.”

Swami Vivekananda

One thing meditation, aka intentionally breathing and observing your thoughts, teaches you is that we are not our thoughts.

Thoughts are more like a handbag we carry with us.

In his fantastic book, Solve for Happy, Mo Gawdat writes about how we are the outside observer to our own thoughts. Otherwise, how can we both be our thoughts and listen to our thoughts at the same time? And yet, how often do we let our thoughts get in our way?

In a way, untrained thoughts are amplifiers to our primal fears and feelings.

How many times a day do you mentally scold yourself with remarks like, ‘I suck’, ‘I hate myself’, ‘I’m not good at this’, ‘I’m an idiot’… etc.

Like a sound machine for sleeping, We wash over our minds with negativity and self-loathing and allow our thoughts to control us. Our thoughts subtly (or not so subtly) lead to how we feel and act. And how we act change how we live and the kind of life we are capable of.

Our thoughts are our first line of defense and offense. How we think effects how we act, and how we act again effects how we think, and so on. By learning to train our mind, we can begin to better grip on ourselves, and how we handle ourselves.

So when bad times come, we are mental prepared and trained to handle them, or even thrive in them. And when life is great, we have the mental capacity to keep our ego in check, and keep the boat sailing in the right direction.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #701


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What You Are Like

“Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We strive to create meaningful work.

But our work is only a part of our story.

We also have our live outside of our work. We have friends, family, likes, dislikes, skills, hobbies, characteristics and flaws.

Outside of what you do, the question is do people like you?

I would argue creating amazing work is slightly diminished if people around you think you are a jerk.

You can be a jerk and put out great work, but you being a jerk isn’t a prerequisite.

Anger, negativity, frustration, jealousy, worry… we all feel these emotions a one point or another, but we don’t have to let them control us.

What do people say about us when we aren’t around? How do we want to be remembered when we are gone?

We can be the kind of person who works on his or her character, and not just on our status or bank account. We build character, not to please or appease others, but to be a better version of ourselves.

Character + brilliant work is a powerful combination.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #700 ✨


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The Default Option

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

Chauncey Depew

Decisions are never easy. Even the ones we have certainty and conviction on can still leave us with doubt and uncertain in the back of our mind. ‘Is this a good idea?’ ‘Should I really do this?’ ‘But what if I fail?’ There’s very little certainty in creativity and life.

But there is one thing I’m certain about: The default option is never a great idea.

Defaulting is deciding not to decide. It’s meeting a fork in the road and deciding to do nothing. Sometimes, deciding to do nothing can work out in our favor. Being Switzerland (neutral) and not taking a side in other people’s conflicts has its benefits. However, when it comes to decisions that will personally affect our lives, staying inactive is not a great idea.

Doing nothing is also a decision. It leaves the outcome to chance, or worse — other people’s desire for what our life should be, without considering what we personally want our life to be. There’s little upside to non-decisions in life. The cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action and potential failure.

Do we want to do nothing and get nowhere, or do we want to try something and possibly fail or embarrass ourselves? I think I’d rather embarrass myself than hold myself back from who I am or the dreams I’m pursuing.

Default is an option we can make. The question is do we really want to live our life in default mode?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #699


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Some Strings Attached

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Fight Club

Why is it that the people in this world who have nothing tend to be the most happiest of us all? My guess is that its because the things we own (or things we do) take up space in our lives — physically and emotionally. Or in other words, we are tied down (or lifted) by the stuff and thoughts we have, and the actions we take. Everything around us has strings attached. Monetarily, sure. But also time, location, energy, creativity, flexibility and freedom.

A book is not just bound sheets of paper. It’s someone else’s knowledge, ideas and experiences. It’s a purchase or gift attached with a desire for us to change and be better. It’s our guide. It’s a todo on our massive todo lists. It’s a reminder of who we are, who we aren’t, and who we want to be. It’s all of these things and more. A book on community is our desire to connect with others and find success through those connections. A book on programming is our desire or hope to learn something useful and something that expands our abilities. And that’s just a few books. How many books do we own? How much stuff do we own? How many dreams do we own?

Stuff is fleeting. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things as much as the next guy or gal. I’m just as jazzed about the latest iPhone or Pixel phone as the next nerd across the coffee shop. Of course I want some white Nikes’ and another backpack. But I also know that in a year from now, most of these things will be outdated and worn.

But I’m more interested in the things and habits that will help me grow my creativity and wisdom. And, in so doing, my ability to help others more. The more (or less) things that allows me to be free, the more capable I become.

It’s not what you have or don’t have that matters. It’s what you allow yourself to have influence over you.

What’s having negative influence over you?
What’s having positive influence over you?

Get rid of the former; Cultivate the latter.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #698


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One Kick, Ten Thousand Times

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Bruce Lee

It takes an enormous amount of effort to reach mastery. In order to get there, we must come attack it from all sides and every nook and cranny (You know, I have no idea what a cranny is… a cranky granny?).

Not all of us have the luxury to hone our crafts all day. (If you do, cherish it, don’t waste it.) Some of us have full-time jobs, and other responsibilities to do that can easily get in the way of our passions and goals. But all is not lost. We may not be able to practice ’10,000 kicks’ at once, but we can practice a 1+ kicks consistently overtime.

All we need to do is cultivate a daily practice.

A daily practice can fit into even the busiest schedule. We could bookend our days with a morning practice or evening practice. (Or, if we’re feeling crazy, a morning and evening practice.) How many little moments of time do we waste on any given day? If our practice is portable — for example a daily writing practice — we can fit it into the pockets of our day where we aren’t doing anything. Instead of worrying about being late on our way to work, we can focus our energy elsewhere on our practice. Instead of fuming with rage at the stupidity of the person in front of us trying to self-checkout at the grocery store, we can let it go and think about our practice. Even non-mobile practices have mobile components we can mentally noodle on. Maybe we can’t practice yoga in line at the DMV, but we can mentally go through our practice, or memorize a few Sanskrit words, or watch a YouTube video on a new move we can test out later.

Find the pieces of your craft you can take with you anywhere and practice.

And always bring a notebook with you wherever you go.

One day of playing piano isn’t going to do much for you.
But what about ten days? Hundred days? One thousand days?

The older we get, the quicker time seems to pass. We could complain about that, or we could use it to our advantage.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #697


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Everything Depends on Your Practice

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Creativity (of any kind) is far from a straightforward career in life. The competition is fierce. The doubt is real (even after success). And we never really ‘make it’.

What’s the first thing someone asks an artist after their latest piece, a musician after their latest album drop, an author after a book launch…and so on… ?

So, what’s you’re next thing going to be about.

No — success, financial freedom, impact, and influence are the byproducts of doing great work, over and over again (think years, not days) AND being lucky enough for others to take a chance on checking out your work.

Which makes creativity really really hard to pull off, but worth it in the end because you get to do what you love and eventually find success (or die trying).

But it’s not going to happen on its own.

Our art isn’t going to make itself.
Our community isn’t going to grow without us nurturing it.

Creativity lives and dies by our practice. How frequently, consistently and intentionally we practice is what separates us from the closet creatives or people who only talk about their dreams.

We must cultivate our practice in order to grow our creativity to that next level.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #696


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Why Failure is (Mostly) Good

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

Johnny Cash

Let’s be honest — failure sucks. Most of us would rather eat our right pinky finger than fail.

But failure is also good because it teach us (the hard way) to grow. Everyone loves a good failure to success story, where our hero hits rock bottom and a few montage scenes later finds his or her way back from defeat. But for every success story, how many untold stories of people who failed, hit rock bottom and gave up?

The worst part about failure is that giving up is always on the table. In fact, giving up is the easiest choice. Giving up requires nothing from us. But giving up gives us nothing in return. We love success stories because we see ourselves as the hero in our own story that overcomes adversity and failure. The goal isn’t to fail, but to learn to succeed after we fail.

“Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

Failure is our chance to learn something we didn’t know (our something we were neglecting) and get back up.

Sometimes that requires us to take a break and rest.
— or go back to the drawing board.
— or change our perspective or how we think.
— or become less ego-driven.
— or realign our priorities and/or expectations.

And whatever else we need to do to reset ourselves, find resolve to move forward, and work up the nerve to try again.

Because we know we can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #695


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Roots

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

Robert H. Schuller

Problems feel very… mushy when you are confronted by them. ‘I need to fix my health’, ‘I need to earn more money’, ‘I’m not motivated enough’… 

Without proper consideration and clarity, our problem (and associated thoughts with those problems) can easily derail us by there intangible nature.

That’s why the first course of action when dealing with something is acknowledge that it exists. Once we do that, we can begin to get a grasp of what the problem is and where we can start hacking away at it.

We’ve got to get to the heart of the issue. Where does the problem start? Where are it’s roots? What’s feeding and watering it? 

Often problems arises from little things we neglect and slowly build into bigger things before we know it.

We can’t change the past, but we can hedge and do our part to protect our future. What are the little things you know you are neglecting that need attention right now? What are the little things you might be missing?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #694


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Cred

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

Zig Ziglar

Trust comes from validation.

Creating good ideas comes first. Once you do that, putting your ideas out into world to impact others comes next. But that is easier said than done.

When we want to buy something we go to friend or resource we trust to give a good recommendation.

If you’re looking for a new computer, you’ll reach out to your tech friend or watch your favorite tech YouTuber for some insight into what to buy, or perhaps you’ll go to Wirecutter, The Verge, or Gear Patrol.

It’s the same when we are the ones trying to selling something.

We’ll be able to market much further and faster with great word of month and recommendations from others.

Maybe you’re not selling a product, but the same is true for selling ideas too.

When you put your idea out there, it’s reach lives in dies by its quality. And sometimes quality isn’t enough on its own.

But when you back up your idea with validity, it will have a much further reach.

That’s why when you take a look at the bestselling book lists, the authors have recognizable names and organizations attached to their work. Before they wrote a best seller, they were a SEAL, or are a successful entrepreneur, M.D., PH.D or all the above.

So the question is, how will you validate your work? What can you do to give yourself enough street cred in the industry or skill you are pursuing?

Where do you want to plant your flag?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #693


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Creative Friends Make You More Creative

Let the work of others make you better.

Sure, you could go it alone.

But friends will get you there faster and further.

Surround yourself with the most creative friends you can find. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, and will buy you a drink and give you a warm shoulder when you fail.

Surround yourself with creative ideas from brilliant books, film, art and more too. Great books can be surrogate friends when you need some insightful advice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #692


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