30-Day Movie Challenge

As a lover of films, this peaked my interest…but I’m not a big Instagram guy; so rather than posting each day, I’ll just take care of all 30 now.

1) The first film you remember watching.
Star Wars Ep. IV

2) A film you like that starts with the first letter of your name.
Dallas Buyers Club

3) A film that has more than five words.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

4) A film with a number in the title.
9

5) A film where a character has a job you want.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (an actor with Brad Pitt as my stunt double)

6) Your favorite animated film.
How to Train Your Dragon

7) A film that you will never get tired of.
The Shawshank Redemption

8) A film where you liked the soundtrack more.
Oblivion

9) A film you hate that everyone else liked.
Avengers: Endgame (time travel is cheating)

10) Your favorite superhero film.
The Dark Knight (or Avengers: Infinity War)

11) A film you like from your least favorite genre.
Failure to Launch

12) A film you hate from your favorite genre.
The Nice Guys

13) A film that puts you in deep thoughts.
District 9

14) A film that gave you depression.
The Big Short

15) A film that makes you feel happy.
Captain Fantastic

16) A film that is personal to you.
The Guardian (the first movie I remember loving as a kid, w/ Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner)

17) Favorite film sequel.
22 Jump Street

18) A film that stars your favorite actor/actress.
There Will Be Blood

19) A film made by your favorite director.
The Wolf of Wall Street

20) A film that changed your life.
Moulin Rouge!

21) A film that you dozed off in.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

22) A film that made you angry.
The Last Airbender

23) A film made by a director that is dead.
2001: A Space Odyssey

24) A film you wish you saw in theaters.
Good Will Hunting

25) A film you like that is not set in the current era.
Amadeus

26) A film you like that is adapted from somewhere.
The Shining

27) A film that is visually striking to you.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

28) A film that made you feel uncomfortable.
Uncut Gems

29) A film that makes you want to fall in love.
Silver Linings Playbook

30) A film with your favorite ending.
The Book of Eli

Fin.

Outside

Yesterday, I prepared a picnic with two of my close friends. We sat out at a local nature park.

It was gorgeous. There were barely any clouds and we sat next to a pond which mirrored the sky and surrounding forrest.

Humans have collectively spent much more time outside than they have inside (over the span of tens of thousands of years). Air conditioning is cool (get it?), but going outside is a natural (get it?) therapeutic.

Go outside.

Solving Problems

Is the best way to make money.

People hate problems. They’re uncomfortable, nagging, and people are willing to pay someone to make them go away.

The more strain a problem puts on someone, the more they’re willing to pay someone to solve it.

Needing a hip replacement is a problem. Needing clean plates is a problem.

Neither one is necessarily better or worse than the other; they’re just different problems…but I’d rather pay someone to replace my hip and wash my own damn dishes.

Limiting Beliefs

For many years, people declared it was physically impossible for a human to run a mile in under 4 minutes.

Then on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister ran it in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

That’s impressive…but what is truly astonishing is that less than two months after that, someone broke Bannister’s record. Then someone broke their record. And so on…

Once someone showed us what was possible, we began doing it.

How many things aren’t we doing or pursuing because we are convinced they’re impossible?

Questions are the Answer

Our brains are wired to forget things.

In Jim Kwik’s book Limitless, he offers the 3 questions to ask in order to remember what you read; but these questions are applicable in everyday life as well:

1) How can I use this?

2) Why must I use this?

3) When will I use this?

Creatures of Habit

Every single thing we do is based on habits.

You can read and internalize these words because at some point, you developed the habit of looking at these 26 symbols and progressively comprehended them.

When your friend calls calls you, you don’t think “Whoa. My phone is making noise. My friend’s name is appearing on my phone. There’s a green and a red button. I will touch the green button to answer this call from my friend…” No. You just answer the damn phone without processing information. That’s because you’ve done it so many times that you’ve now developed a habit.

Have you ever rearranged the apps on your phone? You probably noticed that for the first few days, you naturally touch the areas where your most used apps used to be.

Obviously, receiving a call and reorganizing your phone are a lot easier than developing strong fitness and productivity habits; but our incredible brains provide us with an incomparable opportunity. If we put enough time and effort into something, eventually our brains will start thinking about it less and less. Once the habit is formed, it is no longer something you have to process. It’s just something you do…like being able to read these sentences.

Broken Eggs

What happens when an egg is broken open?

If it’s cracked from the outside, there is death;

But if it’s cracked from the inside, there is life.

A better life comes first from decisions inside.

Teaching Yourself…

…is fucking hard.

Learning is difficult to measure, so it’s tricky to grasp where you stand in the midst of teaching yourself new skills until you can apply them.

This week, I began teaching myself principles of design, various video editing tasks, and chess endgames. Interestingly, I found many lessons which can be carried through all three of these.

The biggest takeaways from this week have been:

• Creating well-defined goals in learning is essential. “What gets measured gets managed.” The goal can’t be “learn more web design…” What do you want to be able to do at the end of today that you couldn’t do yesterday?

• Trying to juggle multiple learning/practice sessions in the span of a few hours is a recipe for chaos and unproductive sloppiness. There was one day where in two hours: I read an article on design theories, edited a section of a YouTube video, brainstormed for a podcast, and went through two online chess lessons…At the end of those two hours, I didn’t feel accomplished; I felt confused. Batching learning into hours of deep, undistracted (no phone) focus is the most effective and satisfying way to develop our knowledge.

• Despite the difficulty, teaching yourself things is incredibly rewarding; and once you sit down for about ten minutes, you get lost in the flow of adventure.

Learn good.

Write This Down

It’s important to answer these questions on paper every so often:

• What are your values? What do you want most out of life and out of yourself? These are the most important things to you.

• What can you do each day to pursue these values? What are you doing do much of or too little of on your pursuit?

The Star of Your Movie

It’s a gift and a curse. You are the star of your movie. Your friends, family, and people you see often are the supporting actors. Everyone else, extras.

But here’s the thing: To everybody else, they’re the star of their movie.

It may sound dark, but no matter how much time and energy someone spends on another, we are each the main character in the movie we are living out. I find this to be quite liberating when we consider how much time we spend concerned over how much others are thinking about us.

These two truths help me in times of insecurity:

1) Nobody is thinking about you more than you are.

2) Everybody is worried about themselves.

Balance

It sounds like an old cliche proverb, but our lives are in constant back and forth:

Ups and downs, highs and lows, darkness and light, yin and yang…

Jordan Peterson identifies it as Chaos vs. Order.

I like to think that the battle is between certainty and uncertainty.

We are confident in our actions; and we have no fucking clue…

2 Big Things

Since I started getting my shit together, the two most powerful shifts in mindset which have allowed me to live a happy and healthy life are:

1) I am not a victim. We all go through shit and that shit varies in size and duration. It makes no sense to compare my shit to someone else’s shit. None of us control our genes or environments we are raised in. If we consistently ask why things are happening to us, we relinquish control and let life toss us around.
”Life is happening for us; not to us.”

2) Learning is growing; not fixed. In the past, if I was bad at something, or if it didn’t come naturally to me, I would say “Oh, I’m just not that person.” I’m not a math guy. I’m an idiot when it comes to business. I’m dumb because I didn’t do well on this test…This is a fixed mindset, and we teach it to kids at an early age. We tell them they are ‘smart’ because they aced a test instead of praising how hard they worked to get that grade. The growth mindset argues that if we simply put in enough time and effort: not only will we improve, but we will get way more satisfaction out of our accomplishments because we learn to love the process of working for things.

Strengthen Your Tribe

I certainly can’t provide an accurate formula for how one rids toxic people from their life. I’ve written about it in the past, but cutting someone out of your life is an incredibly uncomfortable and confusing process.

What I can touch on with more clarity is: the importance of surrounding yourself with friends you admire and people who contribute to your growth as a human being.

I firmly believe that in some way, shape, or form, you should be inspired by your friends. That’s not to say that every single one of them has to have the exact same values as you do; but if they’re not encouraging you to give fire to your own values, this should give you pause.

It can sound incredibly cheesy (especially for a guy [but I think those standards are eroding]), but I want a friend in my tribe:
• to laugh and make me laugh
• who is interested in the world
• who cares about their own improvement
• to give me feedback and hold my feet to the fire
• to help me and ask for my help
• with whom we can share our fears, struggles, and appreciation without judgment

This list makes me sound like a needy bitch, but I’ve been lucky to accumulate a tribe over the years which meets these standards. I live a healthy and fulfilling life and I have my tribe to thank for that.

Sweating and Stretching

Last night, I was doing some evening yoga. Typically, this means following along with a 45-minute YouTube video.

Towards the end of the practice, I had to sit in a wide-legged stance; leaning forward and then to either side to reach for a foot. It was misery. I began sweating, shaking, and found that I became genuinely offended that this flexible bitch would ask me to do such a thing. I just wanted to go back to the poses I was good at.

I immediately caught myself.

Just because someone is asking something of you that you can’t do (or at least can’t do well), doesn’t mean you can’t work to get there. Hell, she can do it.

It also reminded me how easily our egos get fired up. I felt like a boss doing stretches and poses well and moving with the breath; but the second I had to do something I was not adept at, my confidence dropped off and I began to feel angry with the practice.

Stretching is uncomfortable, but it’s the only path to flexibility.

The Good Old Days

In the series finale of The Office, Andy Bernard says “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.”

As time passes by, we look back at a period of our life and revel in how lovely it was. It’s fun to reminisce, but what if we could remain in the ‘good old days?’

Through practices of meditation and gratitude, we can get much better at paying attention to what is around us; and by doing so, it makes it quite difficult to not feel like we’re living in a golden age.

Mondays don’t suck. Rainy days don’t suck. Setbacks don’t suck…

They only suck as much as we allow them to dictate our happiness. All are inevitable. All are opportunities.

We can choose to be in the good old days now; that way we don’t have to wait to look back and appreciate them.

Are People Thinking About You?

We all have embarrassing memories which come to us unannounced; making us visibly and audibly cringe.

But right now, try to vividly remember embarrassing moments other people have had…It’s much harder.

No one thinks about you and your mistakes more than you do. Ease up.

Don’t Text When You’re Horny

You will be tricked into thinking it’s a good idea if you:

• Go to the grocery store when you’re hungry
• Make life decisions when you’re angry or depressed
• Don’t take action when you’re unconfident
• Turn on Netflix when you don’t even know what you want to watch
• Grab your phone for no apparent reason
• Text them when you’re horny

Just don’t do it.

75 HARD

Today, I begin Andy Frisella’s 75-day bootcamp emphatically called “75 Hard.”

The rules are simple, and can never be broken. They must be done 100% each day without exception.

Everyday:

• Stick to a clean diet (no cheat meals, no alcohol)
• Drink a gallon of water
• Two 45-minute workouts (one indoors, one outdoors)
• Read 10 pages of nonfiction
• Take a progress photo

Here we go.

Judged or Ignored

These are really your only two options if you decide to build or pursue anything.

People will judge you if: they don’t like or agree with your work or style; they respect and appreciate your work or style; or they are envious that you have the balls to put yourself out there in the first place.

People will ignore you if: you do nothing out of fear; or you do not work harder to grow and be louder.

– From Seth Godin’s blog.

Why Focus on the Breath?

You may have heard people say something along the lines of “I need to learn how to be more present.” While I understand the sentiment, I think it’s the wrong way to look at things.

You don’t need to be more present; you need to get better at reminding yourself that the present moment is all that exists.

In the middle of trying to focus on something, you may notice that you’ve been distracted; lost in thought and forgetting that you were supposed to be concentrating. However, your minor veering from the task at hand doesn’t mean that task goes away during that time. Just the same: just because you aren’t feeling present right now doesn’t mean the present moment is gone.

This is a beautiful reason why we often focus on the breath in meditation. Like the present moment, it never leaves us. We pay attention to where we feel the breath most, count the inhalations and the exhalations, feel the rising and falling of our chest…Then, inevitably, our minds wonder and we forget we are meditating for however long. Once we are reminded that we are focusing on the breath, we gently come back to it; pleasantly realizing that we were breathing the whole time. It never left us.

Remind yourself.

10 Minutes In

Yesterday, I filmed my next silly sketch video. I had been putting it off for days; writing it in my schedule of things to do, then agreeing that I’d do it the next day.

I tend to put things off which give me anxiety, and I get anxiety when I’m doing something of which I’m incredibly unconfident. I’m not a good filmmaker. I don’t know how to light a shot properly. I’m clueless when it comes to the editing process. Every time I make a video it feels as though I’m stumbling my way through to the end.

However, yesterday, I just said ‘fuck it.’ It was hypocritical of me to avoid the task when I preach constantly for people to just jump in and do things before they’re ready. “Your first anything will be shit…so you might as well just keep making shitty things until you get better.”

On a final note: I’ve found that when you stop thinking and just start something (e.g. writing, practicing an instrument or language, exercising…), after about 10 minutes in, you pick up momentum and enter a sort of flow state. It’s as if Resistance gives up and goes “Fine, I guess we’re doing this.”

It’s way harder to start doing something than it is to keep doing something. I’ll leave you with the brief story of my first Jiu Jitsu lesson:

Coach and I get down on the mat to spar.
Coach pulls me into his guard.

Me: (laughing) “I don’t even know how to start.”
Coach: (calmly) “So just start.”

‘Becoming’ Happy

It’s impossible. One cannot become happy; one can only be happy.

Setting goals and milestones for ourselves is great, and we should do it often, but if we think in terms of conditional happiness, we will never get there.

Conditional happiness = “I’ll be happy when…”

We often find that the joy of achievement lasts only a short time until we crave something new entirely. It’s incredible if someone hits their goal of having $100,000 in their bank account; but once the high of hitting that goal fades, they will then want $200,000, and so on…

Decide to be happy now; then pursue.

A New Way to Look at Discipline

I did a podcast with my best buddy Scott Clampet this week. We discussed his passion for creating music and his process for doing it in a disciplined and productive manner.

The big takeaway for me was how he looks at discipline. We often think of discipline as stuff we have to do everyday because it’s good for us. His take goes a little deeper, and to him, is not nearly as arduous.

By clearly defining his values and why he wants to do the things he wants to do, Scott’s routine isn’t full of tasks he’s forcing himself to do; it’s full of tasks he’s glad he gets to do because he knows they’ll make him a happier person.

Scott sits down each and every day to develop—in some way, shape, or form— his ability to create music. He doesn’t do this because he has to everyday to “strengthen the habit” or because “it’s good for him to be so disciplined.” He does it because he knows that if he were to stop, he would begin to become less happy.

Write down your values, then write down why you want those values to be a part of your life. This will make discipline ten times easier, because then you’re not pushing through pain; you’re fighting to do the things which make you a happier, more fulfilled person.

Knowledge Isn’t Power

…Until you do something with it.

You may have heard the impressive (or patronizing) statistic that CEOs read an average of 52 books each year—a book a week. That’s great, really, but for our own mentality it may mar our perception of what it takes to be successful.

Naturally, you should listen to as many podcasts (like mine), read as many books, and consume as much useful content as you can…but be cautious in getting lost in your consumption.

Read three amazing books on a specific topic you’re interested in, then just dive in. There’s a plethora of valuable information out there, and you’ll get to it eventually; but you don’t need to read a sixth book about filmmaking…just start making some god damn films.

Fear of poor quality holds you back from diving into creating or pursuing whatever it is you have a taste for. One more podcast isn’t going to make you ready. Doing the thing, failing, making mistakes, and improving upon them is the only process in which you can improve.

Use resources to give you a decent starting point, then start before you’re ready.

Here’s a lovely short video of Gary V, articulating this perfectly.

Refreshing

This morning, I cleared my laptop and rebooted it as though I had turned it on for the first time. I was able to log onto my Google Chrome account, and I still have all my old files on an external hard drive (I like using computer terms to make myself sound like I know shit). However, something came over me as I began building up my “new” laptop.

Refreshing something is the perfect word because it feels refreshing and satisfying. It’s as though I relieved my computer of toxins and began a new journey. This may or may not be true, but the feeling of clarity—albeit a possible placebo—is real.

We can often get caught up in pitfalls of desire. Upgrades. The newest this. The newest that. We buy books we don’t read just to buy more books later. Our closets are filled with garments we haven’t worn in months or years…

What if instead of buying or craving new things, we took what we already had and refreshed or explored them?

We could:
• rearrange our room
• pick up that book that’s been sitting on the shelf for years
• ask a relative to tell us a story we’ve never heard
• call someone who isn’t expecting a call from us
• lay down, eyes closed, headphones in, and listen to our favorite album all the way through

Sloppy Sleep Schedules

Last night, I invited several friends to a morning video chat. Half of them said that they would not even be awake until 1 or 2 pm.

I am not one to judge how someone lives their life, but this is clearly not optimal.

If your sleep schedule is fucked up due to this quarantine (or just in general), there are two options to get it back on track:

1) Quick and uncomfortable: Start waking up an hour or two hours earlier each day. You will be exhausted during the day—which will not be fun—but you will look forward to going to bed earlier as well. It will take a few days, and severe discipline; but this is the quickest way to get a stronger sleep schedule.

2) Slow and painless: Each day, wake up 15 to 30 minutes earlier than you did the previous day. This is self-explanatory; it’s the same process as option 1 but at a more gradual rate.

It is difficult to talk about people’s sleep schedules without sounding condescending, but there is a ton of science (science.real) which states that waking up earlier (and not in the middle of the fucking day) leads to increased productivity and happiness overall. Wake up! (Grab a brush and put a little makeup).

Talking Monkeys

“If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.”

-Joe Rogan

Write Everyday

There have been times where I have written several blog posts and then scheduled them out for the following days. While efficient, I much prefer to sit down each morning to write a new one.

I enjoy getting my mind working early in the morning; having to articulate my thoughts onto the keyboard. Aside from that, I have been doing it for so long that it has become a true habit (i.e. something I literally never have to think about doing; I just sit down and start writing).

You do not have to write a daily blog post for the world (who am I kidding, *6 people) to see; but I recommend writing something each day. Get your thoughts down on paper or screen, even if they make no sense. You will be glad to look back and see the stories you told, how your mind worked, and how your writing has improved.

The Perfect Life

Wordsmith prompt #7: If you could go back, what would you like to change about your education?

I do not regret my life. Every decision I have ever made has led me here: a place I am glad to be. However, I would be lying if I said I never imagine going back and redoing high school or college with the mind I have now (the confidence, the wisdom, the sense of direction).

Anyone who knows me is aware of my criticism of college being the norm after high school. I believe that as long as someone is financially literate, has clearly-defined values, attainable goals, and passionate drive to become better and create something, that person can be successful without a college degree.

Without redundantly bashing the idea of college, I must say that I was a terrible student in general. I lacked the grit and discipline required to get work done if I found it uninteresting or useless. This was a huge problem, because I had no idea what I found interesting or useful.

My key concerns during my academic career were: Do people like me? Do people think I am funny? When can I smoke weed and play Call of Duty?

These ideals did little to boost my resume. To answer the prompt’s question, I wish I had a more vivid sense of what it was I wanted out of my life. At the same time, who the hell knows that at age 14?

If I could make changes I would:

• Dive into the study of theatre, acting, and storytelling as young as possible

• Force myself to take financial literacy classes

• Take piano lessons

…But, at the end of the day, making alterations such as these would result in different friends, different experiences, and a different story; and I am quite pleased with my story so far. Plus, the only reason I have the wisdom I have now is because I lived my life the way I did and made the mistakes I made. I doubt anyone would be able to go back in time and simply create the perfect life for themselves.

Check out BestSelf’s array of productivity tools to get you taking action, writing clearly, and trying new things!

Deliberate Practice vs Free-Play

One of the keys to improving in anything is finding the balance between deliberate practice and free-play.

Deliberate practices are the essential, fundamental elements of a given craft or skill. It’s the grunt work. It’s unsexy, and usually incredibly boring. E.g. practicing scales on piano, studying Spanish with flash cards, hitting mitts in boxing, swimming laps…

Free-play is much more loose; the practitioner has the freedom to experiment and have fun. It’s also typically the time in which it’s easier for someone to enter a flow-state (i.e. where one’s body seems to simply be doing the work without them thinking about it). E.g. jamming and improvising on piano, having a conversation in Spanish, sparring, swimming in a lake with your buddies…

The dichotomy between deliberate practice and free-play is not always black and white. How does one deliberately practice reading or conversation? Some practices will require creativity.

Nevertheless, the two need and feed off one another. The sharper one’s fundamentals, the sharper their instincts are during play. Deliberate practice makes free-play stronger and smoother, and vise-versa.

In improving a skill, it is vital to find an effective balance between these two types of training.

Perhaps:
30 minutes of deliberate practice, then 30 minutes of free-play; or

30 minutes of deliberate practice today, then 30 minutes of free-play tomorrow

The key is to not interweave the two. One often practices deliberately for 5 minutes, gets bored, then begins playing freely. This might be more enjoyable, but it hinders growth. One should remain locked in on the task at hand, find a balance which suits them, and rock on.