The Cost of Lying to Yourself

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard Feynman

The biggest lies are the ones we believe about ourselves.

Who you are and who you want to be aren’t the same.

You don’t have to fake it to be who you want to be. You need to start acting how you want to be, and slowly stretch your life towards that reality.

For example, think of how we can easily wash over or even boast about our lives and how we feel to others, yet the opposite is true.

“Oh hey! How are you?”

(Everything sucks) “I’m great, you doing well?”

“Yeah! things are good.” (I hate my job. My back is killing me.)

I don’t necessarily see this as lying to others. Technically yes, but these kinds of opposing inner thoughts and outer dialogue are more like a protective mechanism. Whether or not you think this is an example of lying to others, it is an example of how we lie to ourselves.

The cost of lying to ourselves is staying stuck—right where we don’t want to be.

We hold in pain and anger so we don’t have to explain how we got here and protect ourselves from looking stupid. But by brushing off how we feel to others—especially people who are close—we do a disservice to ourselves. We’re avoiding our problems by pretending like things are normal.

Think about, how many people have you actually confided in with your problems and goals? Does anyone actually know what you are going through?

Maybe that’s why no one seems to not care to help you. Because they don’t know.

How does that help you be the person you want to be?

We can begin removing these barriers that are holding us back in three stages:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Assessment
  3. Action

Acceptance

Acceptance isn’t about giving up to your situations, it’s taking a bow and respecting the good, the bad, and the fugly of your life.

Accept things as they are. Accept who you are. Accept the moment, so that you can move beyond it.

Assessment

Assessment is about turning over every rock, shining a light into every dusty cobweb filled corner, and looking head-on at the things you’ve been avoiding.

Things like looking at where your money is going and how much debt you owe. And journaling about what values and principles you’ve been living by. And assessing where you’re time is going. Comb through every aspect of your current life and see how it relates to the life you want to have.

It isn’t fun, but it can often be a relief, because at least now you know and have something specific to work towards, versus a mystery blob of problems and fears.

Action

After accepting where you are and looking at the state of things, the last step is to take immediate action.

Make a list, prioritize that list, then focus on knocking out one thing at a time.

The key is building up momentum. The more momentum we have, the easier it is to keep stepping forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1075

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Embrace Uncertainty

“You create your life, and you can recreate it, too. In times of economic downturn and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to look deep inside yourself to fathom the sort of life you really want to lead and the talents and passions that can make that possible.” — Sir Ken Robinson

Pain is an interesting sensation. It hurts, obviously. Even small pains can sting—like burning your hand on a hot pan on the stove, or whacking your funny bone while closing the bathroom door. Sometimes pain lingers, and we are left to pick up the pieces while also continuing to preserve in the face of a feeling that doesn’t know when to leave. But despite the discomfort, pain also is a signal.

A sign that something needs to change. Or a moment of healing. Or a lesson and story that enables us to grow.

Not that I’d wish pain on anyone of course. Nor is all pain an “opportunity” or a good thing. Caveat caveat. But when we are personally facing pain, we have to do something with it. If not healing then what? If not a chance to change or help others change then we just what? Give up? No. It won’t be an overnight change, but gradually we will move forward, day by day until we find a way to use the pain.

One flavor of pain is uncertainty. We try to avoid uncertainty. But forcing uncertainty to be certain is like wearing a two-sizes too small sweater—half of you is still cold, you’re still stressed and uncomfortable and everyone is in on the joke but you.

2020 has been anything but certain. Personally and culturally. But if you’re reading this, you’re still alive. And if you’re still alive there are endless opportunities you can take.

Recently I was not chosen for a job opportunity. I had three rounds of solid interviews and ultimately someone else was chosen. I asked for feedback, but there wasn’t really any. There was no reason I wasn’t chosen—I just wasn’t. There was only room for one. Their intuition choose someone else. Good. I’m happy for that other person. The company is great, so I’m happy for them as well. Again, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. Now I can focus on them.

There’s very little in life that is truly certain. And many things we deem as certain, such as our career or direction in life, are only certain at a surface level. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Once you realize that the unexpected is normal, then you have room to embrace all aspects of life and let go of the outcomes.

There’s a difference between external and internal certainty. Just because the world is shaky doesn’t mean we have to be.

Are we focused on our personal essentials? Eating clean. Moving and exercising. Surrounding ourselves with good books and good friends. Meditating. Sleeping well.

Are we making intentional decisions? Choosing work because we want to be, not because the money is good. Hanging out with friends that lift us up instead of tearing us down. Standing for our values.

Are we prioritizing what matters to us?

Part of being a creative person is turning uncertainty into something new and different.

Original ideas are built from uncertain outcomes. We can stack the decks in our favor, but it still takes a leap of boldness to pursue a dream.

Ironically embracing uncertainty makes everything certain.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1061

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Get to the Heart of It

I’ve been dealing with sleep issues for the last couple of years. I can fall asleep like the best ‘em them. But my quality of sleep hasn’t been great. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. My best guess is allergies, not breathing well at night.

The reason I’m telling you this is I made a mistake. A simple mistake, but one easily made. Instead of focusing on the main issue—my quality of sleep— I tried to optimize everything else around it.

My sleep hygiene is on point. Cold room temperature, bed, blackout shades, Magnesium citrate, air filter—the works. But as nice and beneficial as those are, it doesn’t address the underlying problem. Instead of optimizing everything to death first, I should get an at-home sleep study and figure out what the real issue is so I can focus on solving it.

When you’re dealing with a problem—be it health, work, relationships— take a moment to think of the underlying issues that are bothering you.

Optimizations all the minute details won’t necessarily move the needle.

Save yourself some time and get to the heart of things, instead of tiptoeing around it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1043

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee .

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

Subscribe: Renaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Doing What’s Necessary

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

Like many of us today, I’ve been having to make a lot of decisions out of necessity. Health, work, community, institutions, goals… everything is changing quickly.

In some ways, this can make you feel small like you’re compromising and giving up a little of who you are because of the realities you face. No, that isn’t precisely true. When we make decisions out of necessity, we aren’t giving ourselves away, we are holding on tightly to expectations and wants. Our expectations take hold of the reins and say “why me?”

We feel compromised because we refuse to give up our expectations of how our lives should look.

But when we let all of that go, we free ourselves up to move forward.

We aren’t suffering, we’re doing what’s necessary. We may not like it, but at least we are making moves that can lead us to better decisions.

There are three main types of decisions available to us. We can make decisions out of

  • Joy
  • Necessity
  • Or Pain

Joyful decisions are always the happiest because we’re doing them because we want to and we find them fulfilling. Accepting our dream college or dream job. Finding your partner. Building a successful business. Working on your health. Spending your money wisely. Anything that brings Joy into the world.

Necessary Decisions can be tough, but they are usually the most rewarding. This is where we take punches but get grow from the experience. They are sometimes even more rewarding that Joyful decisions because they can make us strong and capable when we lean into them and learn to be uncomfortable. Doing what’s necessary feels like a hard day’s work that fun enough feels good and gives you quality nights of sleep. Whereas Joyful decisions are not always appreciated until much later and can be easily taken for granted if we are paying close enough.

Painful decisions are the worst and should be avoided when possible. This is where hard and painful lessons live. This is where we are so stressed we aren’t pausing to think things through. So we end up making a bad decision or a decision that doesn’t align with us. It’s when we are given the choice between A and B, and forget that we don’t have to choose either because we can do C instead. Or D.

The best thing to do about a painful decision is to step away from the immediacy and intensity and find a calm(er) place to figure out how to rework the problem until it becomes a necessary decision instead.

When left with two bad decisions, come up with a better option. And if that doesn’t work choose neither. Especially if both options are trying to coerce you into something you aren’t. And if nothing works then do what’s necessary and keep an eye out for a better opportunity comes along.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1039

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Creative Crisis

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winston Churchill

Pressure, responsibilities, and pain can ignite your creative fire. Of course, first, you need to have a creative outlet or two (or three) so that you have something to direct the pain through. All Pain goes somewhere. Sometimes it quickly leaves our mouths through anger and snide comment. Pain can also be let out gently through conversation with a close friend or therapist. The worst kind of pain takes root inside us, and cause damage on the inside.

I find it better to direct pain to create things or move them with muscles. Music, writing, and exercise are some of the habits I use to channel things I’m struggling with or experiencing (Not all bad! Any emotion can become beautiful art.)

It’s not just the pain itself. My goal isn’t to shout from the rooftops just to shout. There are timeless lessons in the mistakes and problems we face.

Too much pain, however, and you’ll dampen your creative fire. No pain and you’re a kid who thinks she/he is invincible. Too much pain and you’re a sad old man yelling at neighbors to get off your lawn. Balance is the key (in all things, really).

How much balance will likely be different for each of us. I suspect this can also be trained like a muscle, but it would be most unpleasant and perhaps unnecessary. A little heartache might make you a better artist. Too much heartache and your art won’t be the only thing you wish would bleed.

Of course, I would never wish or intentionally cause pain towards myself or others, but better to use it when it comes, rather than to let it sit and fester.

If you don’t know where to start, reconnect with your inner childlike spirit. What did you enjoy doing when we’re younger (before the world got in the way)?

Start there. There’s wisdom in being childish (…sometimes. Nobody likes an adult baby).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1027

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

No Alternatives

“When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.”

David Bowie

Have you ever noticed yourself only changing when you absolutely have to?

It’s a bad habit most adopt when life pummels you with hard punches and you’re left dizzy and unsure of what to do next.

Until our backs are against the wall, we’d rather be unhappy and keep things exactly as they are, rather than deal with the unknown.

The argument makes a lot of sense to me. Change isn’t always easy. We may be uncomfortable with ourselves and-or our lives, but at least we know that. There’s plenty of things worse than being uncomfortable.

I don’t think that’s the true reason. My guess is we don’t change because we don’t realize we need too.

Our unhappiness becomes our new normal.

It’s like walking on hot pavement or sand that’s been baking in the sun. At first it’s uncomfortably hot, but if we keeping walking on it our feet get used to the heat and what was once unbearable becomes bearable. From an outsiders perspective, it looks like hot sand, but to us, it’s just another day in ‘paradise’.

We become so used to things we dislike about ourselves or our lives that we no longer are aware of it. We become stuck because we don’t see that we should change. And if someone or something brings our problems to bare we make every excuse in the book and convince ourselves change is impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, we want to change, but we also don’t want to change.

We don’t want things to get worse.

But’s what’s worse than feeling stuck? What’s worse than fearing failure? What’s worse than living a life true to yourself? Not much.

Change starts with observing yourself and your life and becoming aware of what needs to improve. Instead of glossing things over, we need to look at them in daylight, as if we were helping a friend.

After knowing what needs to be changed, next comes prioritizing tasks that will make the deepest impact. And when we are ready to change, we start small and deliberate—one spoonful of the elephant one bite at a time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1025

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

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

Zig Ziglar

Does thinking you are lucky make you lucky?

Does having a bit of bad luck increase your chances of more bad luck?

Probably. If you think you’ve got bad luck, then you’ll be more likely to notice little misfortunes and frustration throughout the day. And the more you notice them, the more you’ll reinforce the idea that your luck is terrible.

The connection point here is thinking. We think something is true, and therefore we believe its true and seek experiences to back it up. In psychology, this is called Attentional Bias “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.“ (Hamlet)

When you think you have bad luck, you blind yourself from seeing the alternatives. Such as just happened to have parked your car under a tree where birds like to poop. Or simply forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day because it wasn’t by the door, instead of thinking the heavens are out to get you.

And it’s not just about luck—all emotions, desires, and thoughts reinforce us one way or another.

Our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. We aren’t our thoughts, but the thoughts we allow in the front door of our mind change and influence us.

As the Buddha once said “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” And Marcus Aurelius, “Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.”

Thoughts translate to believes translate to actions translate to reality.

This isn’t one-to-one. There’s magic lost in translation.

Thinking “let there be ice cream!” won’t magically make a cone of ice cream pop into my hand. But it will get me thinking about ice cream. Chocolate… Cookie dough… Pistachio… Ice cream. Ice cream. Ice cream. And suddenly I’ll have an urge to go find some ice cream.

Outcomes are rarely assured. But stacking the deck in your favor (and removing the negative outcomes) makes them more likely.

When a negative/unhelpful thought creeps into your head, replace it with a positive/helpful one instead.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1017

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Analysis Paralysis

“Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.”

Blaise Pascal

Momentum requires movement. Think of a fire—a spark is nothing and everything. A spark can keep you warm, it can take out a house, a forest, even cities. It doesn’t take much, but a little is enough.

The hardest parts are:

  1. Starting
  2. Restarting (another form of starting)

Starting something new can feel like quicksand, particularly when we are scared or worried. But once you get moving, fear turns into excitement. Water starts to flow. Ideas pour out. Dust and cobwebs start to clear. Muscles warm up in anticipation.

Restarting is similar to starting, but harder. Whenever you stop doing something, like a diet or journaling, or an online design course, not only you lose momentum, you also add weight to your shoulders. How many times have you thought of the past when things about your life— your health, happiness, finances—were better? We pine after the “good old days” and whenever we attempt to restart our habits we fail because we put too much pressure on ourselves.

The key to starting is starting fresh. Don’t focus on what you had and what you’ve lost. Focus on what you can do right now and the potential of where you can be once you begin again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1004

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Creativity and Chaos

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”Carl Jung

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”Bob Dylan

I wonder how many songs or other forms of art will be created from the strange times of staying at home because of the 2020 Pandemic? Leon Bridges and John Mayer’s Inside Friend. Jaden’s Cabin Fever. Little Things. Exile.

I feel oddly peaceful today, despite the chaos happening in the world and the personal anxieties surrounding me. Perhaps God is shining a little ray of hope on me. Perhaps its because I’m not letting my thoughts control me today.

Looping negative or discouraging thoughts in my head is far from helpful, and adds more weight to my troubles. Despite knowing this intellectually, it’s still difficult to keep my mind running away from itself.

Presence helps. I’m walking underneath an extremely large and old tree, watching the lights sparkle through the shadows of its leaves. I wish I knew what type of tree it was. By focusing on what’s around me, I can lose all sense of my self-centered problems.

Creating helps. I feel ten times better when I push past resistance and prioritize creativity first and put in the work on my passions. Depending on the day, I might only get a chance to write in the last thirty minutes to an hour before bed. But when I actively take the time to write early in the day, lifts my mood and energy. “Actively” being the keyword here. It is almost tragic how much effort it takes to get around to working on the things you truly wish to work on. Secret dreams. Side projects. But when you finally do it’s like a weight has lifted. Why am I not doing more of this? It still takes energy, there’s still a sense of fatigue at the end of the day, but its a calming fatigue. A daily well-lived.

Taking breaks helps. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t robots. It’s not smart trying to compete with a computer. Computers never sleep, never get hangry, and never get bored. But they do crash every so often 😉 We, on the other hand, have human needs, but we also have a greater advantage of being more creative and thinking.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1002

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Chase Your Interests

Here’s a surefire way to feel unfulfilled and miserable:

Do things you dislike/don’t want because other people tell you too.

I’m not talking about the little things—like taking out the trash or unloading the dishwasher. Little things like this keep us humble. No, I’m talking about the big things, like what school you want to go to, what you want to do for a living, or where you want to live.

Opinions can be helpful, but if they go against what you feel is right, then they’re actually hurtful instead. Making a decision because it’s “the right move”, “the smart thing to do”, “most economical” or “the safe choice” is a terrible thing to base a decision on. Anything we do, no matter how safe it may seem, has the chance to fail. The only thing certain is nothing is certain.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to make decisions out of fear and fear alone. When I’m scared, I’m rarely in a clear and rational headspace, am I’m usually ignoring what I feel as well.

Does this opportunity make me feel joy and excitement? Does this get me jazzed at the possibilities?

If it doesn’t, take some more time to think and journal it over. I’ve learned the hard way that making decisions that’s rational but ultimate against what’s right for me will ultimately come back to haunt me in weird emotional ways.

For example, taking a job for the shear money alone (even though you have no interest in taking it) might solve your immediate needs but strange problems and unlucky circumstances will start popping up. You’re listening to your mind, but you are ignoring your heart.

Emotional / Heart problems manifest in odd ways —

Your immune system won’t be as strong and you randomly start catching colds more often. Or you wake up feeling tired and don’t understand why. Or you wind up spending all of your free time too exhausted to do much of anything besides eat, watch tv and play video games. Nothing is inherently wrong with any of those things. I love watching new enthralling shows (like Dark on Netflix). However, what’s wrong is masking how your feeling—i.e. dissatisfaction with your career or current group of friends—by veggie tailing out and avoiding having to change.

But what happens if you don’t change?

Things won’t stay the same—things will get worse, meaning you’ll feel worse and not know why. You’ll keep digging yourself in a hole of dissatisfaction, listening and valuing everyone but yourself.

Enough is enough.

Chase your interests instead. Don’t compromise on your values. If you end up being wrong, then apologize and change. But better to be wrong than to dislike your life.

What do you enjoy doing more than anything?

What skills/hobbies have been tickling you in the periphery? What do you want to try?

Forget whatever one else wants for your life. Who do you want to be?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #960

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a coffee ☕️ or a new plant. 🌱

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify