April 26, 2009

Happiness: A State of Being

There's a big difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure stems from immediate gratification of something that tends to be superficial (i.e. new clothes, gadgets, a successful hookup, whatever). On the other hand, joy, which I personally prefer any day, comes from a sustained happiness that occurs as a result of a good life -- usually from appreciating little daily happenings that might typically run by you without you taking notice (a good friend, quality weather, the trust and respect of your colleagues).

I don't know if there is an answer to which is better (except I thought I did when I started writing this post), but what I do know is that for more people than not, pleasure is not sustainable. It often leads to lows that might not need to be dealt with if the focus were more on overall happiness (aka joy).

The thing about pleasure is that it's nice, but only in moderation. In excess, it loses its ability to be thoroughly appreciated. Unless you're someone like Tucker Max, chances are, pleasure won't do IT for you (whatever it is) all the time. Funny enough, though, it's what most of us seek more than anything. We want new clothes. We want more girls/boys. We want more skin-deep relationships.

It might be a redirection of focus that could make all the difference. The thought, "Will this actually fulfill me? Will I be joyful after this?" might sway many decisions. It's one of the reasons I practice a primarily raw foods lifestyle. Sure, fries, ice cream, bagels and all that jazz provides me that pleasure, but in the long run, I will be happier with myself if I eat healthier foods.

Consider your lifestyle. Are you seeking pleasure OR are you living joy?

Love you,

April 15, 2009

Stoic Appreciation

Most times, I'm all about experiencing life in abundance -- not in the sense of overindulging, but always believing that the joys of life are infinite. Sometimes, though, I forget these joys. Not that I'm not enjoying them, but I forget to embrace them. I won't smile when the weather's really nice. I won't realize how great it is to be surrounded by so many people and be involved with so many beautiful communities online and in person. Basically, I'll take life for granted.

Shifting back to my continually smiley, overjoyous self isn't as simple as a flick of a switch, though. It might be for some of you, but for others, it might take a more Stoic approach. I often find that to appreciate the little things that go right over our head on a daily basis -- that is, after realizing that I'm totally living sans thanking -- I have to experience the opposite of what I'm used to. I have to take a freezing shower. I have to stop wearing socks around the house. I have to surround myself with less pleasant people (I hate acknowledging it, but I would just interact with some people that don't really help me grow, to say the least).

It's not so much regimental, but whenever I am more conscious of little things I don't appreciate so much, I'll train myself to do so. Today, it was really cold in my house. I was about to get in bed with a sweatshirt and blanket and do my work there. Instead, I walked around my room shirtless, sockless, and with shorts. Some call it stupid and sickness-inducing, I call it appreciation (and I don't really get sick much so whatever).

Now I'm going to take a hot shower and love up every moment of it.

Stay happy, stay real, stay you,

April 12, 2009

One-upping the next man

It's weird that sometimes, the things I think about most are those that I have least to say about, so I don't know how much this will hit home, but hopefully you can resonate with this in the slightest bit:

We have a very natural tendency of comparing ourselves to others in that we need to one-up the next person in most scenarios. It's not easy to get rid of this mentality. If someone's flattering someone else behind their back, people, including myself, will agree and add a small bit about how great that person is, then they'll throw in a quick, subtle word about something they're doing that's great too (which will often be followed up by a downplaying of that great facet of him/herself to seem modest and totally). If that was at all familiar to you (be honest with yourself), realize two things:
  1. That habit will not change any time soon. It's normal, but...
  2. You can start being more cognizant of the habit. Realize when you're doing it. Take note of it.
What will that do for you? Naturally, you'll turn it down. You'll realize that there's little to no beneficial reason to throwing in that bit about yourself because, even when you're trying to add a little bit of cred to your rep, you're not the focus during that portion of the conversation so either your two cents about yourself was overlooked OR it was noticed and the person who noticed is fully aware of why you threw in that comment.

It's not that you're uncomfortable flattering other people. You probably don't have anything against the person that's being talked up at the time. It's probably because you crave that positive reinforcement too. However, the more you're aware of it, the more able you'll be able to embrace the positives of everyone else around you without needing others to acknowledge you so much.

Just a thought. Not sure if it made too much sense, but if you didn't get it, chances are it doesn't apply to you. If you do though, definitely try to be more aware of it. I do it all the time. I would say, "I wish I didn't," but why would you regret anything? I don't like to waste my energy on ish like that :).

Love you,

P.S. Sample dialogue where the above takes place:
1: Yeah, I saw person X at the gym the other day. Did you have any idea they're in such great shape? I had no idea he was so fit!
2: Mmhm, he's in really great shape. He started talking to me about working out a few months back and I gave him some tips about working out and whatever. It's really great that he's doing so well now.

April 9, 2009


I love when people ask questions. So many times, they'll preface it with, "Sorry I'm bothering you, but..." and all I can think is how great it is that they're interested in whatever they're asking about. Most people hear about something, they'll ask one or two questions, hesitate, and then stop asking because they don't want to seem like (1) a nuisance or (2) they're obnoxious and interrogatory.

Now, there are situations when you don't want to ask too much, like if you're talking to a superior (in a formal setting), but conversationally with peers, it's the coolest thing to ask questions. Some people are trained to respond and think, "Why is s/he being so inquisitive/nosy? That's weird." But in situations like that, I think it best to think a little more of yourself than what others are thinking of you.

Curiosity is often regarded as a childlike quality, but really, it's the quality that connects people to their passions. Unless you ask questions, you're never going to know if you're actually into something someone else is doing or not. One of my good friends asks questions like its her job, and she gets that her understanding of something is cursory, at best, if she's not asking. She's one of the most thorough people I know when it comes to her thought process, and I would say a large amount of credit is due to the fact that she's curious.

I don't think curiosity is a quality that just some people have. I think everyone has it; it's just a matter of who is too self-conscious to ask questions versus who doesn't give a shit and just wants to learn. I prefer the latter. I was part of the former group before I got into raw foods, simply thinking that it was a crazy diet that wasn't worth my time. I don't know what sparked my interest, but I finally grew a pair and asked some people some questions, and that started a domino effect that would've never happened otherwise.

Next time someone talks to you about something unfamiliar, ask a few questions. It may or may not be worth your while, but you would never know otherwise.

Love you,

Socrates' bust was kinda ugly, but his method was pretty stellar.

April 6, 2009

Love Your Heart Out

A friend asked me if I loved her once, and I had trouble saying yes because in my head, the only people I loved were my family, my cousins, and a few of my boys that I held close enough to me to call them my brothers.

That was a stupid response. That was a trained response. That was a response that came from thinking that I was supposed to keep my love exclusive.

After some thought and some perspective from various bloggers (a lot of inspiration from Jason Mraz), I'v realized that all you can do is love. Having different magnitudes for how much you like someone and creating a line between "like" and "love" just makes appreciation harder. It makes it harder to connect genuinely. If you keep it at love (not to mention, staying away from "dislike," or "hate"), all you want to do is make the most of your relationships.

I'm slowly becoming a great believer in love. That love that Jason Mraz so effectively describes:

The greatest love imaginable: That Love that dwells inside us all,That Love that makes us so, That Love that makes us all connected whether we believe in it or not.
I'm trying to remind people of that love at the end of my conversations. Whether it be on the phone, on AIM, or in person, it leaves the person thinking - "Wait, did he just say, 'I love you'? Huh. That was kinda nice."

It's weird for me too, but I think it's kinda nice.


A heart? Kind of? It's the thought that counts. I'm trying!


I was talking to a friend of mine tonight about fitness and the more superficial results of it (i.e. defined bod and the like), and naturally, I got into talking about the pleasing consequences of getting back into a 5-/6-day-a-week fitness routine with track and got into the specifics. Then, I started drawing back from the conversation because I took note of the slightly arrogant air I was producing by talking about having a relatively cut figure.

To this, my friend responded: "I feel like we've all trained ourselves to preface everything we say with a disclaimer. Sometimes that's necessary, but I wish it wasn't."

I wrote about this in my moleskine in February and never ended up blogging about it, but true honesty comes in a form without disclaimers. Try to stop justifying yourself before you say things. Try to stop turning back after saying things. These disclaimers we put out there before presenting ourselves are a convenient and unfortunate method we use to to deny ourselves our true selves. In other words, we're lying to ourselves.

The most frequent word used when justifying ourselves is most likely "but." Chill with the but.

But while chillin', stay real,