Livin’ Deeply

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It’s a simple thing to want lots of things in life. Blame it on our consumer-oriented culture, but most of us want lots of shiny new toys, clothes, and experiences. It doesn’t help that we can with a few taps and scrolls see what everyone else has (and what we don’t have).

I’m no different. I like nice things. My tastes are a disadvantage as much as they are a benefit. I might even be slightly worse than most because I have so many interests and hobbies (more interests equals more expensive tastes).

It’s simple to want many things. It’s complicated to want few.

One way you could describe minimalism as choosing quality over quantity and choosing priority over options. Quality over quantity makes since. By investing in nicer made things, you get more enjoyment and longevity out of your purchases. I think priority over options is something that’s often overlooked. Everything we buy has not only a price tag (i.e. $15 for a book, $60 for stretchy jeans) but also a mental tag—every item we own takes up space in our minds, just as much as our physical spaces. Space where our dreams and ideals for our purchases live.

Think about it like this

One item = at least one to-do.
Two items = at least two to-dos.

At least if you’re planning on using it/them. If you were to look around your house right now, how many things would you find that you want to do but haven’t, or haven’t in a while? Unread stack of books… Stack of dusty CDs you never look at… A travel magazine of places you’d like to (hopefully) visit someday… Racks of clothes that don’t fit anymore…

All of these things take hold in our minds and can, not always but can, weigh us down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to sell all your belongings. All I’m suggesting is to prioritize what matters to you and think about removing (even if temporary) the things that don’t matter.

I like to put my money where my joy is. I really enjoy making things, so a lot of my purchases are around tools and resources that help me do so.

I think Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, has said it best—

“I always encourage people to spend extravagantly on the things they love, as long as they cut costs mercilessly on the things they don’t. Ask yourself: What do you love spending money on? Not just “like,” but love.”

To live deeply, we must live intentionally. We have to choose what kind of rich life we want to have, and prioritize our spending and time around that.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #995

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Thinking for Yourself

“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”

Albert Einstein

Toothpaste — as we know it today — is a relatively modern invention. Marketed toothpaste products only became popular around WWI. Before that, you had tooth powder, usually homemade chalk, salt, charcoal or baking-soda mix. And before that Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Iraqi’s and the Japanese all had their own variations of powders. I’m sure if you knew your way around the forests or had your own garden you likely chewed on some mint leaves or neem-tree twigs now and then. But for the most part, I’m guessing beyond the lucky knowledgable few, bad teeth were a part of life. (Depending on where you lived and what your diet consisted of.)

First off: Gross.

Second: Interesting.

Of course, people weren’t exactly chugging soda and pounding processed sweets. (Sugar was only introduced to western Europeans in the 11th century.) So I imagine cavities weren’t as easy to come by as it is today, but still.

What’s interesting to me is it’s never something I really thought about, but now that I know it’s hard not to think about it. Was Alexander the Great toothless? Did Leonardo da Vinci have bad teeth? Did Amerigo Vespucci travel to the New World with a set of chompers that looked like a craggy coast?

Did anyone care? There were no cameras. Glass mirrors weren’t invented until 1835. I suppose people did what they could, dealt with a bad tooth when they had too, and considered it a fact of life.

What’s really eye-opening is when you think about what we for granted or consider normal today.

What are things we assume are facts of life, but only our current reality?

What do we consider normal that could be improved? What are problems so normal everyone assumes they also have and also will be there?

Ideas build on top of ideas that have come before.

But ideas also come from thinking outside of what’s normal.

I think it’s safe to say to never assume anything.

Thinking for yourself requires you to test all assumptions. Is up really up? Is down below us or above? What if up is both down and up at the same time?

By the time we come into our own, we are taught a lot of facts about the world we live in. Our family, friends, culture, and environment all have an influence on us. This influence is not inherently good nor bad. In some ways, it’s both. We take on the ideas of others. We take on the beliefs of others. We are shaped by what happens to us. Again, none of this is necessarily bad.

But if we want to be our own person. We need to start thinking and feeling our way through life for ourselves. Thinking for yourself is choosing to believe what you believe because you decide to believe it. It’s choosing to intention to think things through. It’s working out conclusions, It’s deriving equations and looking at the source material for yourself, instead of just memorizing the facts. It’s a curiosity for the world and for who you are.

This is the path of great thinkers.

Learning to think for ourselves is the beginning of exceptional work.

Bad teeth or clean.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #867

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Refocus

“Focus on what you have.”

Suze Orman

What are you doing today?

No, not the pile of todos and chores.
No, not the things you want or would rather be doing.

Your priority.
Your urgency.
Your attention.

Today is fleeting. There is no sense in trying to juggle a hundred things all at the same time. Focus in. Turn your attention to what matters and what lies in front of you. Of course, the day will likely run away from you and you’ll get lost in a distraction or a conversation you didn’t expect. That’s part of your story too. Enjoy the unexpected and uncontrollable nature of life. And focus back into what matters. There is no focus, just refocus.

…Man, someone must have hit me with the mediation stick because that was deep. Did I ruin the moment? … I think I ruined the moment. 😜

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #832

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Be Intentional

How do you become a writer?
A designer?

Musician, Dancer, Speaker?
A better friend, connector, brother/sister?

How do I align my words with my actions?

Show up.

Even if you don’t want too (especially if you don’t want to) Because when you show up you’re telling the world — and more importantly yourself — that you are serious.

Sometimes I write a motivational blog post like this and feel like I’m just reiterating ideas with different words. Same message, different day. But really I’m reminding myself of my values and why it’s important to live intentionally.

Do you ever catch yourself scrolling through Instagram or the web while you’re surrounded by friends or family? I could be right next to them, yet a million miles away. It’s easy to notice this pattern once someone tells you, If fact, you’ll probably start seeing it everywhere now. Parents ‘playing’ with their kids, while they’re on their phone, Couples on their devices at dinner, and on and on. The technology itself isn’t bad (in fact it’s incredible we’ve come so far!) it just depends on the context. And being a design and developer, I know most apps are created to be as addicting as possible. That way you’ll keep using it.

Are you using it, or is it using you?

One principle of a Renaissance Life is living intentionally.

Living intentionally means giving all of your attention on what you’re focusing on. 

It means having plans for what is important to you and giving your time and attention to them every day. Intentionality is the opposite of phoning i­t­ in. It’s being active in your decisions vs. being passive. It’s knowing your macro while narrowing in on the micro (which will lead to the macro).

What does this look like?

Intentionally friendships are based on respect, deep connections, and care.

An intentional relationship is knowing your person and his or her needs. It’s being spontaneous and affectionate with all of your beings. 

Intentional work is knowing when you’re doing too much, knowing when to say yes and no, and caring for your customers, clients, and employees as if they were you.

The more intentionally we are, the more happier and capable we will be.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“The quality of your commitments will determine the course of your life.”Ralph Marston

An Intentional Life: Zen Habits