The Best Advice of 2017

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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

During the summer, I took a deep dive into the world of self-help/personal development. I read a ton of biographies, listened to hours of podcasts, and watched a bunch of Ted Talks. After immersing myself in the wisdom of the most talented and successful people on the planet I gained ONE major take away. I know, Just one? Yes, just one piece of crucial advice. Here it is:

Start small, be consistent.

At first glance, this advice seems… underwhelming. And yeah, it may not be as sexy as “follow your dreams” or “never give up.” That’s exactly why it is the best advice of 2017. Let me explain. Back in May I just finished reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. While searching for a new book a buddy recommended The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The whole premise of the book is mastering consistency. My favorite line in the book is, “Learn how to do the small things well and eventually you will be trusted to do the big things.”  The Slight Edge helped me realize you cannot achieve success with mastering consistency first. Small wins help us build momentum that propel us to go even further.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, master it – Barry

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2017’s Greatest Hits

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Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

November creeps to an end as December looms over the wintry horizon. In a little over a month, 2017 while be another year in the history books. Now is the perfect time to look back before moving forward. Below is a list of positive things I experienced this year. Listing only positive things was difficult because bad memories stick more. Luckily, life is not a series of unfortunate events. Search hard enough you can find something to be glad for. While making this list I surprised myself with the number of great things that happened this year I forgot about!

Graduated College

Started Grad School

New Tattoo

Road Trip to Rhode Island

Road Trip to Long Island

Service Key Award

Made Raspberry Pi Console

New Car

New Name

New Blog Name

Read 26 Books

Went to March for Science

Relay for Life

Meet the new University President

Hired as a Grad Assistant

Baby sister was born

Moved into a new apartment

Adopted Minimalism

Wrote a post a day for an entire month straight

New blog logos

Donated most of my clothes to charity

Interviewed for a podcast

Started recording audio

Shared great stories

Coffee and Code meetup

Listened to new podcasts

Reconnected with old friends

Made new friends

Learned new skills

Connected with other bloggers

Started exercising regularly

Voluntarily watched a horror movie

Joined BayArt

If you decide to make a 2017’s Great Hits list please link it to this post! I would love to read what others have to be grateful for this year! – Barry

Struggling with Chronic CB

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Ughhhhhh.

That noise perfectly illustrates my life lately. Everything feels so repetitive, mundane, and flat out boring. This plague of Chronic CB (Continual Boredom) I’ve contracted is killing me. Nothing can release me from this dire slump. No cure is within reach.

Stranger Things 2? Nope.

New Car? Yawn.

New Marvel movie? Eh.

My guess is this Chronic CB stems more from my desire for a different environment. I relished my four years of undergrad at Bloomsburg University, but my cabin fever is through the roof! You can only enjoy the same sights for so long! Gray November skies make me yearn more for the sweet Californian sunshine.

Intellectually, I know I should enjoy the present moment. Emotionally, my heart lies somewhere else. What I’m feeling can best be described as what one author calls “the space between stories.” The space between stories signify those transitory phases between big life changes where everything seems to stand still.

Time to enjoy this story until the next chapter begins.

Looking forward to the future – Barry

Concerning the Self

Everyone can benefit from self-centered.

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Not self-centered in the traditional sense of the word, meaning to be selfish and narcissistic. My observation comes from a literal interpretation of being “self-centered”. Splitting the phrase apart leaves the two words “self” and “center”. With this perspective, the term self-centered is redefined to mean “centered in one’s self.”

What exactly does it mean to be centered in one’s self? Like sailboats out at sea all people have an anchor. This anchor serves as the focal point of what defines our individuality. At first glance it feels synonymous with our identity. A true center lives in an internal space within ourselves, devoid of our external identity. In that space we experience the freedom to be our most authentic selves. To be centered outside of one’s self is dangerous. It leads us to be tethered to external forces: objects, habits, people, jobs, etc.

Self-centered = centering myself. Finding the core of who I am and operating from that place.

Struggle

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Everyone struggles from time to time. My current struggle is self-inflicted. Pursing a path of self-improvement creates a widening gap with the people in my current social circle. As I redefine my values, I start notice the strings of certain relationships begin to strain. They long for the person I was, and increasingly feel alienated by the stranger I’m becoming.

Drifting away from relationships is never easy, especially with nostalgia creating a sturdy mental anchor. Strong tides of loneliness hit occasionally. They signal the ushering of a new season. During the worst hurricanes I repeat the following: Focus on the lighthouse and you will escape the fog.

May your ship survive every storm – Barry

Dissecting “Try”

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Picture of Master Yoda

The wise Master Yoda delivered this advice to young Luke Skywalker over 30 years ago. Since then the quote has been recycled a billion times. As a kid I understood it was good advice, but why was it good advice? Don’t you need to “try” before you can “do” anything?

Now examining this quote further reveals a deeper message. To “try” means to put forth effort. To “do” means to put forth effort until you reach a result. Yoda basically says work until you produce something or don’t work at all. It places all the emphasis on execution. He is telling Luke to commit to training until something comes of it.

Wow. So much great wisdom in a memorable and succinct quote. All of us have areas of our life where we need to stop trying and start doing. Put forth that effort until something happens. Be persistent in your pursuits. Transform your trade with ruthless tenacity.

Most importantly remember:

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Barry

Relationship Placeholder

No one would call me a relationship expert. In fact, no one would call me. Despite this, there is one piece of advice of relationship advice I feel confident giving:

Don’t be a placeholder.

Barry, what in the world do you mean?

A placeholder is an object that is occupies a space until something better can replace it. It is a temporary solution. A relationship placeholder is the same thing, but with a person. The relationship is condemned to fail because there is no emotional investment at stake.

I would never be a placeholder for someone else.

Chronic loneliness can drive people into these types of relationships reluctantly. It is easy to justify being in this arrangement too. The three pseudo relationships I’ve fallen into were filled with thoughts like: Maybe this will actually work out, she’ll see how great I am eventually, we’re so good for each other. Although I reassured myself with these thoughts while never fully believing them.

Okayyy, I still don’t see what the big deal is.

A relationship where you serve as a placeholder will erode your self-esteem and self-respect over time. In the beginning every will thing feel fine. You may even think, being a placeholder is better than being alone! The problems won’t arise until your partner stops fulfilling your needs. In my case, it has always led blatant emotional manipulation. If you decided to stick it out like I did you will accumulate resentment, bitterness, low self-worth, anger and eventually loneliness. The loneliness comes when you refuse to be used any longer. Luckily, loneliness is the better option.

Don’t be a placeholder – Barry

The Underlying Layer

Emotional intelligence grants us access to a hidden layer of the world around us. Humans use logic, but are creatures of great emotion. Understanding the role of emotions allows for better navigation through life. This increased awareness comes with side effects also.

Increased Emotional Stimulus

Greater emotional intelligence leads to high sensitivity to the emotional states of others. You will start noticing things that previously went unnoticed. When meeting new people, I immediately get a sense of what their insecurities are. Without thinking I begin dissecting the true nature of people’s relationships. I can see their stored resentments or unfulfilled needs. My personal experiences with codependency have me wired to avoid anyone who exhibits traits of a manipulator. This additional stimulus can be overwhelming at times.

Frustration

The temptation to meddle in the lives of others grows once you exposed to the true nature of human relationships. One can drive themselves crazy watching others fumble with their emotional problems. Just remember that unsolicited interference will not help others. People must struggle before they can learn.

Solution? Acceptance

The only way to tame these side effects is through acceptance. Accept other people for their strengths and struggles. Do not try to force your opinions or good ideas on them. Avoid falling into that “I know what’s best” mindset. Let them be and educate by example.

I love you – Barry

Let’s be real

Alright let’s be real for a sec.

Everyone knows a person that believes we are their best friend. From our perspective, this is an audacious claim. We barely know you and may not like you. A decent person doesn’t say this out loud though. Instead we resort to playing social tango. Our interactions with them feel painfully insincere. We entertain their invitations and tolerate their presence.

Here are my questions:

How do you approach a situation like this in a compassionate way? Is it wrong to misled someone about your feelings toward the relationship? Should we give this person a chance if our dislike comes from superficial reasons?

Any advice is greatly appreciated – Barry

It is My Belief

It is my belief that respect should always override political ideology. Staring at the political spectrum is blinding. What does it mean to be a Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc.? Our concurrent caricatures of these labels are not our own. We have simply inherited someone else’s assessment without question. Taking a step backward reveals that the divide appears smaller from a distance.

It is my belief that discourse and disagreement are necessary for mutual understanding. Acknowledging a conflicting viewpoint will not discredit your own. Dogmatic ideals only narrow the path to an effective solution. Learning to raise an ear instead of raising a voice is one of the most powerful things a person can do.

It is my belief that fairness applies universally. Ignoring a tiny spill of injustice for one opens the floodgates of tyranny to all. Kindness should be our mantra, while contempt is kept at bay. We escape the pains of the past so that we may live better today.

I Know What They Did

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I know what they did.

I know they hurt you. I watched as they belittled and berated you into nothing.

I know they beat you. I cried as they slammed their knuckles into your fragile ribs.

I know they doubt you. I despaired as they imposed dangerous obstacles to defeat you.

Here’s how you strike back.

Remove the “why” and focus on “I”.

 

Why did they hurt me?

No.

How can I stop the hurt?

 

Why did they beat me?

No.

Where do I find the power to stop it?

 

Why did they doubt me?

No.

Why did I doubt me?

Learn to transform external pain into internal gain and begin to Manifest your Joy – Barry

Harness -ING

What do you want to do most? To be an actor, programmer, dancer, writer, teacher, parent, doctor, etc..?

Figured it out? Awesome! The next question typically is:

When do I know I’m really an actor?

Uncertainty claims a lot of lives with this question. Then people quit. Instead of searching for outside validation use this simple tool. Harness the power of ing. Continue reading

I Would Date Me

It’s 5:45am. Swiping back the shower curtain I release a mass of steam into my tiny bathroom. Before drying off I move to the sink to brush my teeth. Something in the mirror above the sink catches my eye.

Damn I look good! Did you lose some weight?

I make a few bicep flexing motions in the bathroom mirror and pose for the audience of one (myself). Indulging in this vanity for longer than I care to admit another thought pops up.

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The bathroom mirror also doubles as a photo studio for Instagram pics

Wow, I would date me. I would totally date me. I feel bad for people that will never get to date me. Oh well.

For the rest of the day my mind generated an extensive list of all my date worthy qualities. This list could encompass another whole blog post so I’ll just name a few. Besides being irresistible, charming, I am young, ambitious, smart, funny, etc. Creating this mental list gave me a better appreciation for myself. What started out as ego stroking turned into an acknowledgement of my self-worth. Now I wake up nearly every day thinking I would date me.

My question to you is this: Would you date you? Single or otherwise, most of your time with is spent with yourself. Acknowledge those great personality traits and work on the not so great ones.

Now if you don’t mind I have a hot date (with myself) – Barry

What love is not.

Love. Arguably the most ambiguous of all abstractions. For centuries human beings have suffered, pondered, and declared their unique perspectives on love. Despite these efforts no universally accepted definition of love exists. I don’t have any idea what love is either. Instead I offer a backwards solution: define with unshakeable certainty what love is not. Continue reading