Free Credit Freeze in the Nick of Time

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I have three credit monitoring services. Yeah, overkill. Though they are all paid services, I did not not pay for them. The first I got as a benefit at work. The second is complimentary from Equifax because my identity was compromised by their massive leak. The third is also complimentary from BestBuy because they screwed up like Equifax.

I’ve had my credit card number stolen three times. No identity theft yet… knock on wood. As a result, I’ve configured all my bank and credit card accounts to text or email me whenever there is a charge/debit or credit over zero cents. If a single penny crosses into or out of my accounts, I want to know about it.

Note: Kudos to Chase Bank for supporting all the above and including the dollar amount in the notification. Other banks aren’t as comprehensive and may not include the amount in the notification, which makes it impossible to tell whether it is a legitimate charge or not.

A few days ago, I learned about the Newegg data breach. Hackers had injected card skimming code into Newegg’s checkout process. The hack was active between August 14 and September 18. I had ordered a graphics card for my nephew on September 5 from Newegg. Darn it.

Yesterday and today, I received a flurry of text messages and emails from my credit monitoring services concerning a credit pull from Capital One Bank. I believe it is a hard credit pull which occurs when a bank is checking credit before making a lending decision. (A soft credit pull is when a hiring company is checking your credit as a background check.) Because there are three credit agencies and I have three credit monitoring services, I received a total of nine alerts.

I called Capital One to inquire as to why they had issued an unauthorized credit pull. The Capital One representative said that they didn’t have any record of such an action and that I do not have an active account with them. So “don’t worry” were his parting words, which didn’t alleviate my concern at all.

Note: I’m not surprised that Capital One didn’t know that they had issued a credit pull. The credit pull could have been issued by a store that is partnered with Capital One, not by Capital One itself. And I doubt a customer service representative would have access to view actions which are not tied to an existing customer account.

Yesterday, I read that thanks to a new federal law, free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts were available starting September 21. All of this (hack, unauthorized pull, and free credit freeze) seemed very coincidental to me. Or the Universe was telling me to do something… which I proceeded to do today.

Initiating a credit freeze with all three credit agencies was not difficult. I just browsed to each of the agencies’ websites and searched for the term “freeze” until I located their credit freeze tool. Below is what to expect when doing a credit freeze at each agency.

Note: Each credit freeze requires a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to be set. Save the PIN because you will need it to unfreeze or temporarily lift the freeze. In addition, TransUnion and Equifax will require you to create an online service account with them.

Experian Credit Freeze

  1. Browse to the Experian website.
  2. Search for “Security Freeze” (in middle of the page) and click on it.
  3. Click on “Add a security freeze” and then “Freeze my own credit file”.
  4. Fill out the form, create your PIN, and submit.

TransUnion Credit Freeze

  1. Browse to the TransUnion website.
  2. Search for “Protected Consumer Freeze” (near bottom of the page) and click on it.
  3. Click on “FREEZE MY CREDIT” and then “Add Freeze” (with subtitle “Online”).
  4. Fill out the form and create a TransUnion service account. You will be logged into your account automatically.
  5. Click on “FREEZE” and input your PIN (6 digits max). You may see “REPLACE LOCK WITH FREEZE” instead if you have a lock on your credit report (see note below for what a lock is).

Note: I erroneously selected TransUnion’s credit lock feature, created a TrueIdentity account, and locked my report first. (TrueIdentity is TransUnion’s free identity protection service; yay, my fourth credit monitoring service!) A lock is the credit agency’s own method of preventing access to your credit report. A freeze does the same but has legal protection from federal law. So if the credit lock is bypassed, the agency is not legally liable. If a credit freeze is bypassed, I suppose the agency will have trouble with the law.

Equifax Credit Freeze

  1. Browse to the Equifax website.
  2. Search for “Place a security freeze on my Equifax credit report” (at bottom of the page) and click on it.
  3. Click on the “GET STARTED” button.
  4. Fill out the form and create a myEquifax service account.
  5. Sign into the myEquifax account using your newly-created credentials.
  6. Click on “Add a Security Freeze” (not 100% certain on this wording) and the PIN will be created for you.

Note: In my case, I got a “Replace Lock with Security Freeze” option because I had earlier locked my report using Equifax’s TrustedID monitoring service.

With the credit freezes in place at all three credit agencies, I can rest a little easier.

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Falling Into Meaning

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For a long time, I have felt a void in my life, a lack of purpose. These past few years, I’ve gone on a journey to understand myself and to explore what could fill that hole.

I guess everyone comes to this existential place sometime in their lives when they ask what is the point of it all? Most shy away and dive back into the distracting busyness of life. Others stop all else and probe, picking at the wound and making it bigger and bigger until they find their answer or fall into deep despair. Probably neither is a healthy approach to take.

Why do I need to figure out the point of it all? Why do I need to figure out my purpose? I think it is an inherent drive to arrive at meaning. A very human need to search for a meaning or reason to be alive… and as a side effect, happiness. All questions eventually end up at this lonely shore, to die or to evolve.

Many minds have explored this question of meaning from ancient times to the present. Great men and women have dug into it and some have come up with their own answers. The answers seem to span two extremes, embracing faith or denial. Embracing the metaphysical or nihilism. I don’t know which approach is correct; they may both be right or both be wrong.

Faith is the belief in something greater than ourselves that knows the purpose of our lives. It is a trust in something metaphysical with powers, abilities, and knowledge beyond our own. Faith can be directed externally or internally.

When you’ve discovered that you cannot come up with the answer yourself, you need to go elsewhere. That elsewhere is usually outside yourself. God. The Universe. Angels. Destiny. Dharma. Religion. They know your purpose. They hold your meaning. You have but to trust and have faith in them.

Or it could be inside yourself. Your eternal soul. Your north star. Your guiding light. The inner pilot that you have to trust knows the way because you don’t. New age gurus espouse this type of belief and faith.

At the opposite end is denial, which is really another form of faith. Faith that there is no purpose and no higher reason for existence. No higher being, inside or outside. Nihilism. Atheism. Belief that we live, we die, and there is nothing that remains of us. No meaning to our lives at all.

I can’t choose one over the other because I can’t know which is the truth. I’m incapable of faith in the one or the other; I want to know for sure. But faith and the metaphysical are beyond my knowing. So, I’m stuck between all purpose and no purpose. A very exposed place to be.

There is a third solution, one that is no solution at all. It is to stop at the precipice between the two faiths, without jumping to either side. It is to exist with not knowing. To hold both possibilities, that there is nothing and that there is everything, as possible. To accept that we ourselves cannot know our purpose. To let go of having to have faith.

I think this may be what the Buddha meant by the middle path. There is no dualism. He had to use extreme non-binary language, that everything is transient, to combat the instinctive human drive towards the permanent. But really, everything is transient and everything is eternal. Which answers nothing at all.

At some point in our lives, we ask the question, what is the meaning of it all? Maybe that is the wrong question to ask. Perhaps we should reverse it. Instead of asking what the meaning of my life is (expecting life to tell me), ask what meaning I can give to my life? What does life expect from me? What does life expect from us all? Perhaps the purpose of our lives is to find meaning for life itself.

Until I know (which may be never), I will force myself to live in that uncertain space between the two faiths. To dwell in the void. To let go of knowing my purpose. To be uncomfortable, unsure, blind to my fate. And yet to strive, to try the best I can, knowing that there may be no reward, no paradise, and no heaven. Hoping maybe that there is something so much better than all that.

Uncertainty colors my life. Unknowing is my core. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is temporary. I have no ground to stand on, I am falling.

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Why You May Not Have A Life Purpose

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Before you were born, your soul contemplated and conferred with other souls to decide the purpose of your life. That purpose then determined the place and family of your birth, what language you spoke, your social class, the societal values taught to you, and your lovers, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. Basically, it determined who you will be. All to steer you towards the greatest chance of accomplishing the reason for your existence.

Or at least that’s what some of the new age gurus speak and write about. I don’t know if it’s true but they sure sound certain. Even assuming the above is accurate, that you have a soul and your soul has a mission for you, there is a wrinkle in the plan: free will.

Free will means that shit happens. We make mistakes or other people make mistakes that mess us up. Even if we knew the plan, we can choose not to follow the plan. And even if we try to, other people and circumstances beyond our control could prevent us. Chaos guarantees that failure is always an option.

Off the top of my head, here are some things that could explain why you may not currently have a life purpose, from best to worst and ending in a crescendo of ambiguity… messy, like most things in life.

Congratulations, You’re Done

You’ve already accomplished your life purpose, so now you got none. Not all life purposes have to be huge, arduous undertakings that take all your energy, time, and life. Some or many could be tiny in scope.

Perhaps your purpose is to be a member of a certain family, be a friend, marry a particular someone, or raise children. Perhaps it’s to become a gardener, scientist, dentist, or beggar. Maybe it’s to be able to eat a full meal each day. Or to experience growing up poor, missing meals.

Or your purpose could be to meet someone at a certain place and time, and to say something that alters the trajectory of that person’s life. It’s a promise your soul made to help another soul accomplish their purpose. You’re a supporting actor and you’ve done a great job with your one line in the play. So now you are free to enjoy your remaining time.

Who knows what your soul was thinking? What lesson that soul was hoping to learn? In either case, you’re already succeeded so relax and enjoy the rest of your life.

Game Over, Human

You messed up. You had a simple task: to help another soul. You were supposed to meet that someone, but you missed them. Or you met them too early or too late. Or you met them but said the wrong thing. In any case, your friend soul was not able to accomplish their purpose, and neither did you. It’s okay, you both can try again during the next go-around. Again, you are now free to enjoy your remaining time on Earth.

You are the leading actor. Your supporting actor met you at the right place and time, said the right thing, but you weren’t at the stage where you could understand so you did not take the necessary course correction. Or your friend soul didn’t meet you at the right place and time and if they did, they said the wrong thing. You both failed to accomplish the mission. Relax and enjoy your time until the next round.

Unexpected shit happened in your childhood and adulthood that threw you off track and reduced the chance of you finding and accomplishing your life purpose to zero. Tough break. On the bright side, you’re on vacation until the next cycle.

Lost in Transition

Finally, you’re stuck and unsure what your life purpose is. You don’t know if you are in the two categories above. You’re not sure if you have succeeded or failed because you don’t know what you were supposed to do.

You spend your time trying to determine what your purpose is. You listen to gurus. Follow your passions to find your purpose, they say. But what if you have no passion or have too many passions, how are you supposed to know?

Maybe you haven’t found your life purpose yet because your life purpose is something that can only be accomplished in your old age. So your best action is to wait until then.

Maybe your life purpose is to endlessly search for your life purpose. And by failing to find one, you would have succeeded. All this uncertainty because your stupid soul decided for some unknown reason that this was a good purpose to try.

It’s a Trap

Since we cannot be sure what our life purpose is, and whether we have succeeded at accomplishing it or not, until our life comes to an end and our souls tally up the outcome, I say screw it. Pick something, call it your life purpose, and call it a day. Maybe you will luck out and pick the right thing. Heck, increase your odds of being right by picking many things.

If your soul exists and it did give you a mission, then I like to think that it also gave you an eternity of second chances to get it right. So just go out and do it. Do anything.

If you hunger for purpose, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Convert Coins Into Gift Card For No Fee With Coinstar

Money No Comments

My niece’s piggy bank, sitting on the shelf, is full and I am afraid it might fall on her. An idea occurs to me. I could convert those coins into dollar coins to reduce the weight. But how do I do that?

I could use the coins to pay for things. The Walmart self-checkout machine takes any coins. Unfortunately, the machine only takes a few coins at a time and there was one time when I jammed it. So I try with my niece’s coins, but it takes forever to feed in 8 dollars worth of pennies, nickels, and dimes. Not great when I’m buying ice cream and there are people waiting.

My sister’s brother-in-law forces his children to help him roll up coins in coin wrappers, which he then deposits at the bank. It sounds like an awful amount of work. Instead, maybe buy the machine that rolls up coins for us? Nah, too expensive.

I recall seeing a kiosk machine at Walmart (and other supermarkets) that takes coins and returns dollar bills, but with a fee deducted. Coinstar is the name. I google Coinstar to find out what the fee would be… 11.9 percent. Ouch. Then I notice that there is no fee when you get an eGift card instead of cash back. Coinstar can dispense gift cards from many stores including Amazon, AMC, Best Buy, and even Southwest.

Note: Not all eGift cards are available on every kiosk. Also, each eGift card requires a minimum amount ($5 for Amazon to $25 for Southwest) and has a maximum limit ($100 for AMC to $1000 for Amazon). So make sure you have enough coins to reach the minimum amount required. The maximum limit can be circumvented by getting more than one gift card.

The Coinstar green and white kiosk machines can be found in varying locations inside and outside of supermarkets, so you will have to look for them. I find one near the entrance at the nearest Walmart. It is too in the open for me. Thankfully, the nearer Albertson’s has one in a secluded corner.

How to use a Coinstar kiosk:

  1. Press the touch screen.
  2. Select “Choose an eGift Card” for the no fee option.
  3. Indicate that you will use Coins (not Bills) for the transaction.
  4. Accept the terms and conditions.
  5. You will hear the coin sorting machinery spin up.
  6. Put the coins on the large tray with the holes and handle. (The holes in the tray are smaller than a dime and are there to get rid of non-coin debris that might mess up the coin sorting machine.)
  7. Pull the handle up and down to slide the coins into the intake on the side.
    • I try not to rush because I don’t want to jam up the machinery.
    • Any coins not recognized will drop into the small tray below the large intake tray. You can try to feed them in again.
    • At the end, I use my hand to push in the last of the coins.
  8. When all the coins are accepted, hit the “I’m done” button on the touch screen.
  9. Confirm that you want the “eGift Card” instead of the “Cash Voucher” (the cash voucher amount displayed is after the 11.9% fee deduction).
  10. The screen will say “Your transaction is complete!”, but the kiosk does not dispense your gift card. Fear not! The kiosk is not broken and you have not lost all your money. The screen lies. Your transaction is not actually complete yet.
  11. Note the “Have you used Coinstar before?” question. Answer yes or no. Either answer will take you to a screen asking you to register. Just skip past the registration screen.
  12. Finally, your transaction will be processed and the eGift card will be printed out of the slot to the immediate bottom-right of the touch screen.

Note: The eGift card is printed on thermal paper so use or record the gift card code before the print fades away (it will last only a few months).

Instructions on my Amazon eGift card tells me to browse to Coinstar Amazon Gift Cards and to input the gift code printed at the top of the paper. I do this immediately when I get home to verify that the gift card is valid. It is and my Amazon gift card balance is increased by the correct amount.

I’m not sure what will happen if your coins don’t reach the minimum amount. I suppose that you could cancel and the Coinstar kiosk would dump your coins back out.

Why are the gift cards free? I am guessing that companies like Amazon are paying Coinstar the fee (likely less than 11.9%) on our behalf. It is a good way to acquire new customers for Amazon. The people with loads of coins are most likely cash-based customers who usually don’t do online shopping. With this method, Amazon and the other online sellers can capture those offline customers.

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Do It Scared

Self No Comments

Note: I no longer use the doitscared.com domain. In November of last year, I received an offer to purchase that domain name. I didn’t have any plans for the domain and have progressed beyond the Do It Scared motto, so I accepted the offer. I still think the message is worthy so have migrated the contents of the old About page to this post.

“Do It Scared” is a way of life that I am trying to adopt 100% of the time. It is a way to overcome the fear that our busy minds keep inventing to keep us safe (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Those fears are outdated vestiges of evolution (fight or flee), they prevent us from living fully, and we no longer need to be driven by them.

Usually if I’m afraid to do something and it’s not an obviously dangerous thing (like jumping out of a plane without a parachute), it is something important that I should do. It is something I care about and am afraid to fail at or be embarrassed by. If I push myself past the fear and do it, I find every time that it is very exciting and rewarding to do.

The more I do things scared, the more comfortable I am with having fears. The first time is the hardest and the most rewarding. The next and next time, it isn’t so bad since I have the “I’ve done it before…” to depend on. Strangely, I am starting to look for things that cause me to be uncertain or anxious (fear in my book) to start doing, because the fear guides me to what is most exciting, challenging, and eventually rewarding to accomplish in my life. I’m getting closer to the point that when my mind starts generating fears, I get a bit excited.

Suggestions to “Do It Scared”:

  • Resolve to do one scary thing per day.
  • Ask forgiveness, not permission.
  • Go for the unrealistic, not the realistic. If it was realistic, everyone else is doing it and what’s exciting/scary about that? And you may find it easier (less competition).
  • Identify uncertainties (aka fear) about starting something and do it. Ignore the rest. If you don’t care about doing it or the outcome, what’s to fear and why even do it?
  • Imagine the worst that could happen and then imagine how you could get out of it. It’s not so bad, right? (If it is so bad that you can’t get out of it, then don’t do it. Or do it crazy scared and who knows? See doing the unrealistic above.)
  • Start doing the things that excite/scare you now. There is never a perfect time to start, so start now.
  • Don’t plan to retire. Do the things you are putting off until retirement now.
  • Don’t wait to reach some monetary goal like becoming a millionaire before sailing around the world. Do you really need a million to do that? You will find that you only need to have much less.

Live your life as fully and as exciting as you wish. Even if something seems scary to start, do it now and do it scared!

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How to Sell a Used Computer Like a Car Salesman

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A normal Craigslist transaction is quick. You establish your interest and confirm the price, place, and time to meet. You meet. The seller hands you the item. If it is electronics, you take a few minutes to test out the functions. You hand over the cash. Shake hands and then leave. 5-10 minutes maximum.

In early May, my sister asked me to buy a desktop computer for her. Her budget was $100, which is
totally doable for a used Core i5 desktop.

I found one, a Dell Optiplex 790 with Core i5, on craigslist advertised for $115. I negotiated it down to $100 by text messages. The ad didn’t say anything about a business so I figured it was a private seller.

The address I was given was mapped to the All Green Recycling Center in Tustin, CA. Some sellers do arrange meetings at their work location so I thought nothing of it. When I showed up, it turned out that the business was selling it.

The sales person who met me in the unoccupied reception area was Maria. She told me that someone showed up 5 minutes before me and purchased the computer I wanted. However, they did have another computer with the same specs, but with a 1TB hard drive instead of a 500GB one. The price was $150.

I told her that $150 was quite a stretch from $100 just for a bigger used hard drive. She said she would talk to her manager and disappeared behind the interior office door. 10 minutes later, she appeared. This initiated the trend where she would claim to need to do something and then disappear for 10-15 minutes at a time. Similar to how car salesmen would disappear for long stretches of time in order to wear the customer down.

Once Maria came back, she said that the lowest price they could do was $130, she paused for a few seconds, and then said $120.

I’m not sure what that was about. Was she trying to anchor me at $130 so $120 would sound like a great deal? Or did her manager tell her to start at $130 and only go down to $120 at the lowest? Was she my best friend or my worst enemy?

All I heard was $120. I told her I didn’t really want the bigger hard drive, but $120 was doable if they would throw in the used wireless card that she had indicated were available in the text messages. She said she would ask her manager and disappeared once more.

10 minutes later, Maria appeared and said that they didn’t have a wireless card. I asked her if they could just change the hard drive to a smaller one. She replied that they didn’t do customization, so changing the hard drive was impossible. That the lowest price was $120 and that was it.

I told her, okay, let’s do it. She disappeared for 15 minutes and came back with the desktop. Then she said the price was $131 with tax. I gave her my credit card and ID and then she disappeared again. 10 minutes passed. I thought, how long does it take to charge a credit card and print a receipt? Was she 3D printing a copy of my credit card?

I had time to think and it occurred to me that I was overpaying. $131 was 30% above my sister’s $100 budget. I could have purchased the same desktop off of eBay for $100-$110 with free shipping, and not have had to deal with this very slow, horrible bait-n-switch experience.

I opened the interior office door, flagged down an employee, and asked him to tell Maria to abort the transaction. We didn’t want to buy after all.

I think Maria’s manager overheard because he came out of his office and asked what was going on. I told him that we had agreed by text on the price of $100, but that when I came, they didn’t have the computer I wanted. Instead they had another computer which was more expensive. And now, I decided not to do the deal after all. The manager was concerned and asked me to confirm twice that an agreement was reached before I showed up. He asked me to wait while he went to find Maria.

Within a couple of minutes, Maria appeared and said that they would swap out the 1TB hard drive for a 500GB drive and charge the originally agreed upon price of $100. Looks like you do do customization, I thought. She gave me my credit card and ID back. She promised it would only take a few minutes to swap the drive (which I doubted) and then took the desktop back in.

By this time, I had been there for almost an hour. I think the slow, horrible service is Maria. I don’t know what her deal is but she seems very incompetent at her job. Awfully slow for no apparent reason that I could see. The other employees seemed more friendly and competent because when they saw me waiting, they all immediately asked if I was being helped.

So I waited 15 minutes and still no Maria. Surely it wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to swap a hard drive; were they also re-installing Windows 10 or something? Finally, another employee came and asked if I was being helped. I told him Maria was helping me, that I had come to buy a computer, and that it had been more than an hour. He looked surprised and said he would find Maria to see what was going on.

A couple of minutes later, Maria appeared with the desktop. Was she just hiding somewhere with the desktop and only came because a coworker found her? Like a golem.

She asked if I got an invoice? Ugh, I told her that I didn’t. I asked her if she had charged my card? She said no. I wanted to ask why she gave me back my credit card and than waited until after the hard drive was swapped before asking if she had given me an invoice. What if I had said yes and left without paying? At this point, I decided that she was not all together there. I asked her if she needed my credit card and ID, she said yes, and I gave them to her.

She left. I waited 10 minutes. Still no sign of Maria. Again, how long does it take to charge and print an invoice? Evidently for Maria, longer than 10 minutes. Finally, she appeared with the invoice.
Thankfully, the torture was over.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t boot up the desktop to test it at the business. However, they did offer a 90 day warranty. When I got to my sister’s, I tested the desktop. It booted up to Windows 10 fine. The only problem was the DVD drive slot wouldn’t eject. Sighed. My sister said she would take it back for a drive replacement or repair. I warned her to avoid Maria; anyone else would be preferable.

That was a horrible experience. My subsequent craigslist transactions have involved filtering out all businesses. Even then, I needed to double-check because some businesses masqueraded as private sellers.

If you want to find out how buying a used computer can be as horrible as buying a used car, look up Maria.

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Secondhand Life

Self No Comments

I Didn’t Mean To Detach Myself

I misunderstood. I thought that detachment meant to detach from my thoughts and feelings. That was wrong. Now, I believe it means to detach from the perceived outcomes of the thoughts and feelings, not the thoughts and feelings themselves. To feel the feeling and think the thought, but not ascribe any importance to the result.

My analogy of having a guest bedroom in my mind and letting my thoughts and feelings stay there until they choose to leave is incorrect. That is not how to welcome guests. As a matter of fact, my thoughts and feelings are not guests at all. They are me. I should celebrate my happy thoughts and feelings. And I should comfort my sad thoughts and feelings. I should welcome them with open arms, merge with them, experience them, and when they have run their course, hug them and bid them farewell.

I’ve kept my thoughts and feelings once removed, separated from my self. Saying I didn’t trust them is tantamount to saying I didn’t accept them as a part of me. As a result, I’ve been half dead because I’ve prevented a major part of myself from living. This is why my numbness exists and where my passions have gone to slumber and die (see Killing My Feelings).

Treating my thoughts and emotions as unwelcome has separated me from life. All that happens out there needs to be experienced as what happens inside me, as the physical sensations and their accompanying thoughts and feelings. After all, my reality is what I create it to be inside me. By denying my thoughts and emotions, I’ve numbed out reality. I’ve only been partially accepting it and as a result, partially living it.

I’ve taken the wrong detour, gone way down a path I didn’t mean to go down, and ended up with a secondhand life.

Single Core Awareness

In an earlier post, Acceptance: I Think And Feel, Therefore Nothing, I talked about how I learned to observe my feelings and thoughts as they came into being. This implied that there was a separate awareness different from whatever was doing the thinking or feeling.

Currently, I believe that there is only one awareness, one stream of consciousness. That awareness first feels or thinks something, and then switches to examine the result of what it was like to feel or think that something (memory and physical sensations). There aren’t two awarenesses, one doing the experiencing and the other observing the first. It’s just one awareness doing the one (experiencing) and then the other (observing the results of the experience). Similar to how old single CPU, single core computers faked multitasking, the focus of awareness shifts so fast that it appears to be simultaneous.

A single awareness makes the gap in stimulus and response possible. Basically, the experience of feeling or thinking is first broken and then the focus moves to examining the resulting physical sensations in the body and the memory of that emotion or thought. If I get upset during a conversation, I stop feeling upset first, observe that my face is flushed, ponder what could be causing the irritation, and then decide whether to continue the conversation or leave. This timeout takes place in a split second and is a learned behavior.

In the past, my negative emotions and thoughts were short-circuited and weren’t allowed to cause bad behavior. The problem is that I was also prematurely aborting positive feelings and thoughts and never switching back from observing them. The positive emotions and thoughts were never allowed to grow to completion. Both intense hatred and passions were not allowed to come into being.

As a result, my experience of life was shortchanged. Instead of living firsthand, I was stepping back and observing myself living. In effect, I was living a secondhand life.

Just Be, Bad or Good

I want to fully experience my thoughts and feelings. To just be them. Good and bad. But I don’t want to act less than my best because of them. Surprising, I think I know how to do that.

The act of thinking and feeling generates judgments (of the persons and event) and expectations (of outcomes), which when acted upon can lead to adverse behaviors. So, I just have to not attach to the judgments and expectations so they won’t affect my behavior, right? I think I can do that with reframing and anti-expectations.

I’ve been training myself to switch back if I slip into observing mode. Once the feeling or thought died or grew as big as I was willing to allow it to, I used the observer mode to detach from any resulting judgments and expectations. This wasn’t easy to learn to do. I expect to spend the rest of my life practicing this. Over time, I’m hoping to train my awareness to experience an emotion or thought to completion before switching focus, instead of bouncing back and forth between the two modes.

I don’t plan to discriminate and to allow only positive emotions and thoughts to grow (while aborting the negative ones). Perversely, as a feeling dominant, I want to experience both the good and bad. Sometimes the bad can turn out to be good in the long run. And sometimes the good can turn out badly at the end. Life is perverse.

Acceptance Always

I’ve been thinking about the thoughts, not thinking the thoughts. I’ve been thinking about feeling the feelings, but not feeling them. There is a better way. It involves embracing thoughts and feelings as my self, giving them energy so that they can come to life and run their course, accepting them, celebrating them, forgiving them, sometimes acting on them and other times not, and then letting them go. To never attach or cling to what they may imply. To explore them without any intention to make them stay. Acceptance is the better way.

It doesn’t mean to act out my thoughts and feelings unless I want to. Just because I’m feeling angry, doesn’t mean I should be breaking things or punching walls. And it especially doesn’t mean mistreating and abusing others, physically or emotionally. It’s okay to feel angry, be angry, but not act angry. (Though in rare cases, it may be okay to act angry.)

If you ever accidentally detach yourself, I hope that my post will help you to find your way back.

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Killing My Feelings

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An old friend tells me that I have changed a lot. That I am extremely calm now; whereas years ago, in discussions, I would easily get emotionally agitated. A neighbor asked me recently if I had always been so serene. This didn’t surprise me too much. I tell my friend that I have worked to control myself so that I wouldn’t react emotionally to things. In the past, I’ve allowed myself to act or react based upon strong negative feelings, which led to results that I regretted very much. Now, I don’t. Unfortunately, I admit, it seems that along with the negative low feelings, I’ve also lost the passionate highs. Now I’m just steady most of the time.

Having also explored personality types, my friend asks if my thinking is now dominant or my feeling still is.  I answer that I believe it is neither.  He looks confused.  I explain that I’ve taught myself not to identify with my thoughts or emotions.  I have them, I just try not to attach to them. Just as thoughts can be misleading or wrong, so can feelings.  That’s why I don’t get emotional much anymore.  But there is a downside, because along with my negative feelings, my positive ones are not as strong as in the past. I am not as passionate about things as I was before.

My friend replies that I have vulcanized myself.   That I have killed my feelings. And that Vulcans show no passion because they aren’t driven by emotions. In a way, he is right (albeit, we are talking about fictional beings). My strategies to avoid identifying with my feelings are accomplished by thinking tools such as forgiveness, acceptance, reframing, and anti-expectations. To not attach to my feelings, I use my self-awareness to pause in the gap between emotional stimulus and response long enough to use the thinking tools above. In the past, I was dominated by my emotions; but now, I use thinking to prevent that domination. I have accidentally vulcanized myself.

Why I Divorced My Feelings

If you are an idealist (which includes INFPs like myself), there is a downside. For most idealists, as we get older, we come to realize that we have fallen far short of reaching our ideals and have failed miserably to meet our own high expectations. We tend to get depressed. Some can get cynical, but most get depressed.

In my early thirties, I started getting brief spells of sadness, which I called low energy states. In that state, I didn’t feel motivated to do anything and had zero excitement for the future; everything seemed grey and meaningless. At first, I thought they were burnt-out episodes due to work, but they were different. At work, I was so busy I didn’t have time to experience the low energy spells. But at home, I had all the time to do so. I came to realize that the low energy states were the result of the disconnect between what my subconscious thought I should be doing (saving the world, helping people) and what I was actually doing (helping a business increase profits). Not that working is bad; after all, it does provide a living for myself and my coworkers. It just wasn’t enough.

I guess one could call it an early mid-life crisis. But instead of buying a red sports car, I turned on myself, ruminating on my thoughts and feelings. No matter how much thinking or explorations of feelings I did, I couldn’t find the cause of the low energy state. And so I went around, in an endless cycle, full of sadness, regret, irritation, and finally, anger. At the end, raging against myself and my condition because I didn’t know where to direct the anger at. In such a state, I was emotionally volatile, behaved badly, and would suddenly lashed out at people. I apologized afterwards but the damage was done.

I Am Not My Thoughts And Feelings

A chance sentence in a book, “I Am Not That Thought”, gave me the answer. If I am not that thought, then I’m also not that feeling because one usually comes with the other. (Thinking couldn’t fix the feelings I had.) If I am not my feelings, then it meant that I didn’t have to act according to my feelings. I didn’t have to react according to, or believe in, the low energy states. I could decide how to act, regardless of my emotions or thoughts.

Of course, the epiphany didn’t immediately change my life and behavior. As with most worthwhile things, it took a lot of work and a lot of failures. It gave me a little wedge which I could begin to try to insert between my feelings and my actions. Most of the time, I failed; but once in a while, I succeeded. And over time (many years), the successes slowly widen the gap between feeling and acting. In that gap, I was the decision maker, not my emotions.

When those feelings of meaninglessness came, I could accept them (in a way, they are true) but stop myself from ruminating on them, which prevented the low energy state. Over time (many more years), not ruminating evolved into not identifying with the feeling. Emotions are like visitors to my house (my mind). I welcome them, give them the spare bedroom for the night, and by morning, they have already left. I don’t attach them to myself. I don’t become them. That would be a silly thing to do.

So now, I try not to identify with any of my thoughts or feelings. I don’t suppress them, but can understand that it may appear that way. I think of thoughts and emotions as kindling. Because I don’t attach to them, put more thought and feeling into them, they don’t grow. Instead they appear and then eventually disappear. In the past, if I have a depressive thought like I’m going to be alone, I would dwell on it, feel pity for myself, think I’ll be alone forever, that there is no one for me, feel sadness, suffer regret for not taking advantage of past opportunities with women, and think I’ll die a lonely death. By identifying with, focusing on, and giving energy to the initial negative feeling or thought, I create these self-reinforcing loops of thoughts and emotions. And the kindling becomes a roaring fire, capable of burning down my house.

If one supposes that the above self-reinforcing loop is the norm, then it would appear that I’m suppressing that loop. However, if one believes it is a choice, then I’m not suppressing, I’m just choosing not to engage the loop.

Growing Passions

The problem is that high passions appear to depend on that same self-reinforcing loop. I have a thought about wind surfing, I think that it would be cool, I imagine sliding across the water, wind and ocean spray on my face, I’m feeling happy, excited. I decide to research a class that I can take. Maybe I consider taking a long vacation to a nice place like Hawaii or southeast Asia where I can take lessons. It would be great, the experience of a lifetime. I’m identifying with it, focusing on it, and growing the ember into a robust fire. If I continue, I can build it eventually into a raging forest fire.

My friend exclaims that he now understands… I am a pseudo-thinker. Being a dominant thinker, he also has the same problem with ruminating on feelings and thoughts, asking himself why he had a particular feeling, and going around in circles. Except, he primarily suffers from a thinking loop, not a feeling loop. He solves the problem by focusing mainly on his business (which is also his purpose) and not giving thought to anything unrelated; he has no energy to spare to ruminate on anything else. And if anything negative comes up, he would ignore it. He would only ruminate on the positive feelings and thoughts he has.

He suggests that I could do the same thing. That I could allow only positive feelings to grow. That I could flame my positive feelings into passions. I tell my friend that his suggestion is worth exploring; though inside, I am uncomfortable with the notion.

Passionless Passion

Not building upon my thoughts and emotions have become a habit. Along with not identifying with negative emotions and thoughts, I also do not identify with positive emotions and thoughts. It seemed simpler to not have to act differently for either. Though it is a habit, it is also a choice, which can be changed. I should be able choose which emotions to identify with. So perhaps, I can bring back my passionate highs by choosing to identify with only the positive thoughts and emotions. But something holds me back from making the change.

Choosing which feelings to identify with feels false to me. Who am I to decide which emotions are negative and which positive? If I stoke the one, why shouldn’t I stoke the other? And is being a pseudo-thinker so bad? I’m not sure. In the present, I enjoy the positive emotions as they occur, without trying to grow them. And I try to appreciate the negative feelings as they occur, without trying to fight them. Are passionate highs something I need? If something is a true passion of mine, do I need to artificially stoke it?

Perhaps, instead of growing passions, I can identify my passions by what I do. I read a lot because I like to read. It’s a quiet passion. I don’t get enflamed with positive feelings as I read or contemplate reading. Some periods of my life, I read a lot. But other periods, I don’t read much at all. I keep returning to it though. Isn’t that a passion without the passionate highs?

During times when I don’t feel like reading often, I imagine that if I try to stoke any urge to read into a bonfire, it may backfire on me. First, forcing myself to feel more intensely sounds like a lot of work, which is unappealing to a lazy person like myself. Second, trying to interfere with the natural lifecycle of my passion seems like a bad thing to do and I imagine, could kill the passion prematurely or permanently.

Serenity Now, Insanity Later

There is something to be said for trying to remain in a state of serenity. I’m finding that my mind is more quiet these days. Perhaps it is normal for humans to have extremes of high and low, and I’m just the odd Vulcan out. Perhaps I should be satisfied with who I am now and quietly enjoy my passions.

Disclaimer: This post makes me out to be a saint, or that I have grown from a self-absorbed child into a sage. I’m not. That is far from reality. I still have trouble controlling my strong negative emotions. More often that I would like, I still react without considering what the best response should be. But I keep trying. I keep reminding myself that it is a process, not an end state. That it must be continually practiced for the rest of my life. After all, I’m just an imperfect human, and will continue to be one until I die.

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You Can Do A Lot In An Hour!

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Years ago, my friend quit his job and decided to take some time off from work. We occasionally hanged out. In the beginning, he mentioned how he was playing tennis in the morning and meeting friends for lunch and dinner. As time went on, he seemed to be less and less busy. A year passed. One day he told me that the major accomplishment of the day was getting his laundry done. He wondered where the time was going.

heinz_doofenshmirtzWhen a major disaster occurs, first responders (firemen, doctors, nurses, volunteers) arrive to help from all over the country, maybe from a different country. They are trained and equipped to help, except their walkie-talkie radios, from different manufacturers, most likely are unable to talk to each other. So someone is assigned the task of being a message dispatcher. He is the man wearing the vest full of different radios. His job is to relay messages from one radio system to another.

A startup I joined, a decade ago, had the goal of replacing that man with an affordable and easy-to-use solution of hardware and software. It was a worthy goal because during an emergency, any delay in communication could cause additional loss of life and property. The faster we worked in the startup, the sooner we could get our product out into the field and the more lives we could potentially save. So we took it from concept to product in less than six months. I remember writing code until 3 am in the morning, driving home, going to sleep, getting up at 8 am, and driving back to work for months on end. I accomplished overnight what others might have taken a week or two to do. I wasn’t tired or sleep deprived. I was driven to wring out as much as I could from each waking hour.

Time seems to expand and contract. For my nonworking friend, time compressed so that his days flew by without much activity. In my startup job, time expanded so that I seemed to be able to do a whole lot in a little time. Alternatively, I could say that my friend’s time expanded to fill his day with laundry and my day compressed along with my day’s work into an hour. It seems that the amount of time required to do a task varies, and if you really want to, you can drastically reduce that time.

In the 2011 movie “In Time”, time is money. The more you earn, the longer you can live. If you spend all your time or run out of time, you die. The rich, with lifespans measuring in centuries or millenniums, had grown accustomed to lives of leisure. The poor worked hard to earn only enough to live another day, and any mishap (like a raise in bus fare) could mean their death.

After the authorities unfairly confiscated everything but two hours of his time, the protagonist escaped and robbed a rich lady of all her time but a day. She despairingly wondered what she was going to do with a day. Surprised, he responded that you can do a lot in a day; he thought he had been generous leaving her with a day. As the movie progressed, the protagonist ended up in increasingly worse situations; he went from having only hours to live, to minutes, and at the end, to seconds. Each time, he persevered and pushed onward. You can do a lot in an hour, in a minute, in a second if you don’t give up.

I Can Do A Lot

The movie reminded me that in the past, I could accomplish so many things in a day because I believed I could. I really can do a lot in an hour! Holding this conviction again has made me much more productive. It helps me to work smarter by looking for a more efficient approach. It forces me to focus on the essential part that needs to be done. It pushes me to think outside the box in coming up with ways to complete the task, even if one of those ways is to eliminate the task itself. It permits me to say no to requests. My time is precious and should not be wasted.

If “work expands to fill the time available for its completion” (paraphrased Parkinson’s law), then work should also contract to fit the time remaining for its completion. Procrastinators instinctively use the latter principle to meet deadlines, though usually with poor results. High performance teams have used the latter principle to focus and work together to pull off the impossible in record times. (Although, there are probably many more teams that have crashed and burned.)

“If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.” – Stock–Sanford corollary to Parkinson’s law

Given a choice, I would want to choose the principle that directs me to do more things in the same or lesser amount of time. I’m not suggesting to rush through and do poor work. I believe that we are capable of doing high quality work in less time that we usually expect to. We just have to believe and push ourselves to. We may just end up surprising ourselves.

Your Money or Your Life

More importantly, the movie gave me a kick-in-the-pants reminder that time is very precious and that earning money costs me time. In the movie, every cost is measured in units of time, specifically your lifespan. A cup of coffee costs 15 minutes of your life. A new laptop could cost half a year. A house, a couple of decades.

Except if I think about it, it’s not just in the movie. It’s the same in real life. If I earn $10/hour and a Starbucks drink costs me $5, then that drink costs me 30 minutes. Is the coffee worth it? Probably not. That $100/month cell phone plan costs 10 hours of life per month, more than an 8 hour work shift. And a $1500 Macbook will cost a hundred fifty hours of life. Actually, everything costs even more because taxes take a chunk of life coming (income tax) and going (sales tax).

“If time is worth more than money, then why do we spend time earning it?” – Lance

The above way of thinking about money was covered in the 1992 book, “Your Money or Your Life”, by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominquez. The book’s most important premise is that money is equal to your life energy, so it behooves you to increase what an hour of your life energy earns and to spend it wisely. Instead of spending it on a Starbucks Frappuccino, you may wish to spend it on a class to acquire a new skill or career. I think that if we can start thinking of costs in terms of life energy (a.k.a. time and effort), folks may be more mindful of how they spend their money.

Awesomely, from a certain viewpoint, earnings from savings and investments (interests, dividends, and capital gains) actually add time to your lifespan. If your investment earns you $500/month, it can be considered as adding 50 hours to your lifespan (if you make $10/hour) each month. Awfully, from that same point of view, the interest you pay on your debt deducts time from your lifespan. Hours, days, months, or years of your life may be needed to service your debts.

False Opportunity Cost

When thinking of whether you should do a task yourself or pay someone to do the task, you might decide to consider what the cost to you is. If you remodel the bathroom yourself, but it would take you 500 hours, then the money equivalent cost to you would be $5000 at $10/hour. If you can hire someone who can do the work for less than $5000, it may be worth it because it ends up being less costly for you.

There is a fallacy in the above calculation if you plan to include your non-money-earning hours. If you plan to remodel the bathroom on your free time, then the cost to you may not be $5000. It may be significantly more or less, depending upon how much you value your free time or the activity you would have spent your free time on instead. If you would have spent your free time watching TV, then maybe your free time is worth only $1/hour and the cost of the work is $500. Can you hire someone to spend 500 hours working for you for $500? Probably not – it’s better for you to do the work yourself. If you plan to spend the free time taking a computer class so you can become a software engineer and earn $50/hour, then the cost to you might really be $25,000. Can you hire someone to do the work for that money or less? I think so.

In Time, We All Die

Generally, people think negatively about time. They think that it can’t be done. That there isn’t enough time to do it. That time is running out. That time is going to kill them in the end (yes it will). I suggest thinking positively. Think about how much we can do in the time given. Even better, how much more we can accomplish.

Act as if you believe that you can do most anything in an hour. Sure, you could end up taking longer than an hour (maybe two hours or two months), but you did accomplish something and maybe even eventually completed the goal. The progress is what counts. Psych and motivate yourself to exert the fullest effort by turning time into an optimistic cheerleader, instead of a pessimistic slave driver.

Remember, you can do a lot in an hour!

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Procrastination is Just a Feeling

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I procrastinated on writing this post about procrastination for half a year. I need help. I wonder why there is no 12 step program for procrastinators. At extreme, it is a mental health issue, right? Society tells us so, teaches us so and shames us so. It’s probably for the best because a procrastinator would rarely make it past step zero, showing up to the meeting.

droopy_dogInstead we procrastinators struggle alone, feeling like failures. Reading books and attending seminars in the hope that someone somewhere has a magic bullet to solve our compulsion to not do things that we need to do. Actually, we most likely read books and attend seminars to avoid doing stuff. Unfortunately, as with every other important problem, there is no magical quick fix.

Note: To me, procrastination can mean two things: delaying doing something until you do it, or delaying until you end up not doing it. Both cause a lot of stress and guilt. The former usually ends in sub-par results. The latter could result in catastrophic endings or be a huge windfall of effort saved.

No Rhyme or Reason

Everyone has their theory about the cause of procrastination and thus what the fix should be. Unfortunately, the causes and fixes are different and sometimes conflicting. I procrastinate because I fear failure. No, it’s because I fear success. I’m afraid to start because it is a huge undertaking. No, I don’t start because it is a small one and thus not worthwhile to do.

Since I could remember, I’ve procrastinated about some things and not others. In school, some subjects I study diligently for and others I would cram the night before an exam. Early at my job, I worked in cycles, months of extreme productivity followed by periods of forcing myself to do the minimum. Liking or hating didn’t seem to be the reason because I procrastinated on subjects I liked and did the work I hated and vice versa. Neither was wanting to please or not please family, friends, classmates, teachers, teammates, and managers. Fear or defiance of the consequences drove me to do or not do. I didn’t know why I was motivated or why I was not.

Just-In-Time Management

I tried time management tools like tracking my minutes or the Pomodoro Technique (which involves breaking work down into 25 minute intervals), but that was more work than just doing the work I was avoiding in the first place. I ended up using prioritized to-do lists and a calendar for meetings and appointments. My to-do lists are text documents that I frequently edit to sort tasks based upon importance and to delete tasks which are done or no longer necessary. When I feel motivated to work, I try to compete as many to-do items as possible.

Over time, I’ve trained myself to take care of the small tasks right away. For small tasks, the burden of having to remember to do them is greater than just doing them. It is a relief to complete them and checked them off in my mind. At work, for medium to big tasks, the angst of feeling like a failure or loser from not doing the task (in the eyes of peers and managers) is greater than just doing the task, so I do it. Outside of work, the medium to big tasks were problematic to do if they didn’t have undesirable consequences like family members being mad or the IRS asking where my tax return was. However, though I will complete the tasks to avoid the consequences, I may still procrastinate until the last moment and endure the stress.

For medium to big tasks that had no external consequences (like writing a novel on the side or learning a new language), my last theory was that I was afraid to start something because of the large time commitment. The solution I came up with was to trick myself by just committing to start for a short period of time, say 15 minutes only. Once I started, I usually ended up spending much more than 15 minutes. I explored this solution in a previous post, Roadblock To Nirvana (see the “A Simple Plan For The Rest Of My Life” and later sections). Unfortunately, some willpower was still necessary to overcome the fact that I knew that I was trying to trick myself into thinking of a large time commitment as a tiny commitment.

In the end, whether I procrastinated or not still depended upon how I was feeling, whether I could motivated myself or not. All the above were compensatory tools, to reduce the occurrence or duration of procrastination, that ended up not working most of the time.

Root of All Procrastination

These past few months, I’ve tried to find the root cause of procrastination. I’ve discovered that there is none. I procrastinate on anything for any number of reasons; from not going to the gym because my stomach felt a little bloated to not wanting to clean the bathroom because hey, it’s not a pleasant thing to do. I’m not motivated to do it so I don’t.

I’ve realized that there is no logical cause and no logical fix. No way to think myself out of this problem. It is because the problem is not thinking, it is feeling. Procrastination is just a feeling. Hey, I just feel like not doing it. As with any feeling, there is no way to reason with it. There may be no obvious cause for a feeling so digging for one would only turn up dead-ends and false positives that might make the situation worse. I can argue with myself about why I should not be having the feeling, but that doesn’t get rid of the feeling. I can override the feeling but eventually my willpower will be exhausted.

The only effective solution is to accept the feeling. To acknowledge that I don’t feel like doing something and then doing that something in spite of it. A small amount of willpower is still necessary, but I’m not fighting the feeling; I’m just letting it occupy the extra guest bedroom in my mind until it decides to leave. In the meantime, I just do what I need to do.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

I still felt that something was missing. We are beings with free will so if I want to procrastinate, why shouldn’t I be able to? If I’m willing to accept the consequences of not doing something, what’s wrong with that? What is so bad about procrastination? From past experience, procrastination has helped me to avoid doing tasks which, at the last minute, turned out to be unnecessary. So there are good things about procrastination.

procrastination_poster

Saying that procrastination is just a feeling is incomplete. To be more accurate, procrastination is just a feeling of not wanting to do something that we have judged should be done. That is the conflict. For whatever reason, we have decided that something needs to be done and because we don’t do it, it remains at the back of our head that we didn’t do what we have committed ourselves to do. We didn’t meet the expectations we had of ourselves.

For me, having an unmet judgement or expectation results in mental baggage. We have failed ourselves and we can’t hide that failure from ourselves. Worse, resentment usually follows the disappointment. Who judged that we should do something? Who decided that we should do something we don’t feel like doing? Procrastination may be our rejection of that judgement. Our rebellious self could be saying, “You think it should be done… well I don’t and I’m going to prove it by not doing it.” Fatally, in the final analysis, the judge is us and we are only rejecting ourselves.

My solution is to remove the judgement and expectation, which would eliminate the resulting resentment and rejection. We should not have to do anything. We can choose to do something for whatever reason. There may be consequences like bad credit if we have late or missing payments. But if the consequences are acceptable, then the choice should exist as it always does. Do I do it now or later or never? Any decision is fine. A decision not to do something is equivalent to deciding to accept the consequences of not doing that something.

Note: See my posts, Who Are We to Blindly Judge? and Expectations Are Bad, M’kay?, for tips on how to avoid making judgements and expectations.

In practice, expect to have feelings of procrastination often. When you can catch yourself feeling them, stop and accept those feelings. Try to realize if you are judging or expecting yourself to do that something. Determine the consequences of not doing. Then make a decision to do or not do. Over time, you will learn to be okay with having the feelings and doing or not doing.

Dark Side of No Stress

I implemented my solution above and ended up doing nothing beyond what is necessary. This is bad. I completed job tasks and other daily living tasks like paying rent. But I didn’t do anything extra that had no consequence, like writing a blog post. Without the self-imposed judgments and expectations driving me to do, I ended up not doing.

While it was peaceful and pleasantly stress-free, this was not the desired end state. The dark side of the solution is not getting much done because I don’t expect myself to do anything. It turns out that setting goals and expecting myself to accomplish those goals are what make life interesting. It’s the drive that pushes me forward, to improve myself, meet interesting people, and experience new wonders.

It’s like when Alice asked the Cheshire Cat which way she should go:

Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
(from Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)

Goals determine which way we should go. Without them, I ended up stuck in the same spot, not forcing myself to take a step in either direction. This state of being is stress-free and stagnant.

On Pain of Doing

Rather than re-introduce my self judgments and expectations and their attendants, stress and guilt, the answer is to make the consequences so undesirable or unpleasant that I would decide to do what I have determined I should do. Or to make the goals so pleasurable and worthwhile that I would want to do them anyhow.

I needed to identify my important goals. Goals that would be painful not to do. The goals that I would regret not pursuing on my deathbed. The goals that if I didn’t make an effort to accomplish would render my life void of meaning. I’m talking about those goals.

I didn’t need to succeed at those goals, I just needed to try my best. They could be one or many. I could do them one at a time or several at once. They just needed my attention and doing.

I’m not sure if the above will work, but at least I’m moving in one direction. Whether it is the right or wrong way, I do not know… I just feel like doing something.

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