Life Philosophy: 26 Rules That Inform My Major Decisions

Sunday, June 11th, 2017
Statues of Greek philosophers who know a lot about the benefits of having a life philosophy.

Let The ABC's of My Life Philosophy Move You to Create Your Own

Warning: Essay-length article ahead. If you're busy, bookmark it. There's no pressure to read all of it* at once. Take your time. 🙂

*And/or the links -- which will open in a new tab -- to sources and past content that influenced my reasoning. Feel free to read as much or little of that material as you desire.

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I can't claim to have it all figured out. Who can? Life is a series of situations where we learn through trial-and-error. The more self-aware you become, the shorter your learning curve gets.

I'm not a guru, celebrity, rock star, or famous (not even "Internet famous") person. However, I have followed a code of conduct that made a tangible -- and overwhelmingly positive -- impact in my life.

Failing to follow a life philosophy is like driving while wearing a blind-fold. You might not fall off a cliff, but you will have a difficult time aligning your actions and values, which can only lead to regret and frustration.

These philosophies are grounded in what I learned in thirty years of existence. See them as "rules" or "commandments" that inform my actions and behaviors. It's easier to make wise decisions when you have a compass to guide you.

Don't view this article as a list of rules you should follow for a remarkable life. Instead, consider it a "shove in the right direction" and/or "encouragement to create your own life philosophy." Thanks to Jonathan Goodman for inspiring this thought-exercise & the authors, celebrities, and brilliant minds quoted below who informed my belief system.

There are many aspects to a balanced existence, so I broke my life philosophy down into five categories:

1. Meaning / Purpose / Balance
2. Friendship / Family / Relationships
3. Health / Fitness / Wellness / Self-care
4. Time, Energy, and Money Management
5. Work / Career / Education / Professionalism

Click a topic that sounds neat and you'll be taken straight to that section. Or if you have something resembling an attention span, feel free to read the whole thing (4,092 words). I think most of them are interesting; but I'm biased, so what do I know...? 🙂

1. Meaning / Purpose / Balance


“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

A. Life is a story. Write it.

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

“If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.” – Rick Riordan, "The Lightning Thief"

If your life was a book, would you want to read it? Why or why not?

Answer honestly and rewrite the plot until it's so compelling you'd stay up all night to finish it (even if you had to wake up early the next day).

B. You are the CEO of your life.

“Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” ― Margaret Thatcher

“Let the improvement of yourself keep you so busy that you have no time to criticize others.” ― Roy T. Bennett, "The Light in the Heart"

Most people never comprehend how powerful they really are; instead of embracing their role as CEO, they act like a hapless janitor who reluctantly cleans up messes when they must.

This is no way to live. You are the only person who is responsible for your life situation. If you don't like it, then it's your prerogative to change it. No one is going to fix, heal, or save you. That's all on you.

C. There's more to life than hustle.

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony." ― Thomas Merton

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ― John Lubbock, "The Use Of Life"

I have no tolerance for motivational "gurus" who preach the gospel of relentless hustle. Does success require hard work? Yes. Does that mean you have to sacrifice your health and sanity in the process? No.

When you're lying on your death-bed, you won't regret the money you didn't make or the businesses you didn't start. You'll regret the relationships you neglected, because you were too obsessed with the hustle to care about anybody else.

D. Purpose doesn't have to come from work.

"The purpose of our lives is to be happy." –  Dalai Lama

"Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning."  – Joseph Campbell

Confession: I'm lazy. If money was no object, I wouldn't devote much time to work. Instead, I'd travel the world; disappear on a hiking trail; learn to dance and play the drums; teach myself a new language; and audition for movies.

"Freelance writer" is a huge part of my identity, but it's not the most important thing to me. Deep relationships make me happier than any creative project. Connecting with loved ones brings more joy to my life than "the grind."

Feeling good about your job is nice, but it's naive to believe everyone is meant to "pursue their passion" for a living. Purpose can be found in many places. If your work doesn't fulfill you, find fulfillment elsewhere.

E. You can reinvent yourself whenever you wish.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” ― May Sarton

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Jalaluddin Rumi

My past self would be stunned by the previous point. He put work above all else (and found himself in an extremely lonely place as a consequence).

Identifying with work did not make me happy, so I chose to identify with love instead. I have less time to dedicate to projects, but that's okay. Never trade your peace of mind for the sake of your bottom-line.

The same principle can be applied to a job or business that makes you feel empty. If you have a teaching degree, that doesn't mean you have to be a teacher forever. You can explore a new opportunity at anytime. Don't limit yourself.

2. Friendship / Family / Relationships


“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ― C.G. Jung

F. Love comes first...

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you... I could walk through my garden forever.” ― Alfred Tennyson

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.” ― Thomas Merton, "Love and Living"

What's the point of creating a spectacular life when you don't have anyone to share it with?

We're not meant to walk this world alone. Experiences are always better when we share them with another person. Cherish your relationships, because they cannot be replaced.

G. ...but don't depend on it.

“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love… but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.” – Mandy Hale

“I think it's good for a person to spend time alone. It gives them an opportunity to discover who they are and to figure out why they are always alone.” – Amy Sedaris

No amount of wishing will cause your soul-mate, life partner, Cinderella, or Prince Charming to show up any faster.

Being single isn't "bad." It gives you the opportunity to define who you are. After you spend a few weeks, months, or years working on yourself -- spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally -- it will be easier to attract the "right" person into your life.

H. People aren't checklists.

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” – Jane Austen

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” – Donald Miller, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life”

I used to have a ridiculous list of things I expected from my future partner. "She needs to lift weights, like hiking, love dogs, listen to metal, enjoy philosophical conversations..."

How absurd! My most recent ex only met one-and-a-half of those criteria. (She liked to talk about deep stuff and tolerated hiking, as long as I didn't drag her on a trail so tough it seemed like the Imperial March* should be playing in the background.)

Should you have expectations? Definitely. Is it okay to have preferences? Of course. Does it help to agree on philosophical stuff? Absolutely. But don't get so carried away with your checklist that you chase perfection. That's not a race you'll ever win.

*The menacing music that plays during scenes involving Darth Vader in "Star Wars"

I. Everyone needs connection to be happy.

“No man is an island.” – John Donne

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching – they are your family.” – Jim Butcher

Science says social isolation is one of the top causes of addiction. Based on my personal experience, I believe it's true.

I spent a year in an apartment that felt like a prison cell. I didn't develop relationships with anybody in a new town. Instead of doing something to change the situation, I found comfort in the arms of weed and cigarettes.

These substances did nothing to remove the lack of connection from my life; but they numbed me to the problem, which felt like a solution at the time. It's hard to love an addict, but please do your best. They need your compassion.

J. Bring your conscious presence to the party.

“Be here now.” – Ram Das

“Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn't suck.” – Joss Whedon

The human brain is only capable of concentrating on one task at a time. It boggles my mind that so many clueless employers search for "multitaskers," because decades of research proves multitasking doesn't even exist.

If you're in bed with your lover or at the bar with friends, put your phone away and be present with them. These folks add more value to your life than a silly app. You can catch up on your Facebook feed later. It's not going anywhere.

K. Surround yourself with positive influences.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ― Jim Rohn

“Find someone who has a life that you want and figure out how they got it. Read books, pick your role models wisely. Find out what they did and do it.” ― Lana Del Rey

If you hang out with people who overeat, you'll raise your odds of becoming obese.

If you spend time with people who abuse drugs, you'll increase your chances of becoming an addict.

If you party with people who drink excessively, you'll heighten your risk of becoming an alcoholic.

I'm not suggesting you should cut ties with all of your friends, because they have bad habits.

Everyone has their vices (believe me, I'm no different). Still, you should build connections with positive people who influence you in a good way.

If you want to give up drugs and alcohol, spend time with people who can have fun without a substance.

If you want to excel in your job or business, network with people who are already successful in your field.

If you want to be fit, hang out with people who exercise and eat healthy foods (it's cheaper than you think).

3. Health / Fitness / Wellness / Self-care


“A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement.” ― Jess C. Scott

L. Self-care isn't “selfish."

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you.” – Karl Lagerfeld

It's not self-centered to put yourself first. You'll have an easier time caring for others when your own needs are met.

If I ate fast food and skipped my workout everyday, I'd be moody and lethargic. No one would want to be around me. I'm a better son, friend, and lover when I take care of myself.

The same is true for you. Prove me wrong... I dare you!

M. Exercise doesn't "drain your battery."

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

"Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn't formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them." ― Lee Haney

People complain about being "too tired" to exercise. That's understandable when you're exhausted after a hectic day; but nonetheless, their logic is flawed.

Exercise doesn't cause fatigue. It boosts energy. Nothing energizes me more than a good workout. When I start my day with a walk or sun salutation, it's easier to focus on my work.

The same fact applies to mid-day workouts. After so many hours, my concentration falters. Lifting weights in the afternoon supplies a second wind, which helps me build enough momentum to conquer the rest of my day.

N. No one is "too busy" for health and fitness.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” — Orison Swett Marden

"I don't have the time to exercise or prepare meals." If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I'd be filthy rich.

Sound familiar? Re-word that statement to say, "My well-being isn't a priority," because that's what you really mean.

Don't be mad. I know you're busy. But exercise doesn't have to be a time-consuming event... it could be as simple as taking a brisk walk everyday or buying a cheap set of dumbbells and doing basic strength training exercises at home twice a week.

O. A healthy diet is an amazing insurance policy.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

You can't eat a diet that overwhelmingly consists of sugar and processed carbs without facing consequences later.

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. Obesity, high blood pressure, and uncontrolled diabetes are three of the biggest risk factors influenced by your diet.

"But fruit and vegetables are gross!" False. I used to feel the same way, but have learned to appreciate them. You're just so used to eating junk food they taste bland in comparison.

You won't reach your full potential until you nourish your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to function at peak capacity. As an added bonus, you'll stonewall the Grim Reaper.

P. It's okay to treat yourself every now and then.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.” ― Erma Bombeck

I follow the 80/20 rule. As long as I'm eating a healthy diet 80% of the time, I don't worry about the other 20%. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

My love for pizza is a large part of what motivates me to lift. It's easier to forgive myself for this indulgence when I know those carbs are being used to build muscles.

I'm also a sucker for tacos, chocolate, cheesecake, and tater tots. The idea of eating kale at every meal depresses me. How do vegetarians stay sane? I'd lose my mind within a month.

4. Time, Energy, and Money Management


"There's nothing more dangerous than a resourceful idiot." ― Scott Adams

Q. Energy is a precious resource.

“Concentrate your forces.” – Sun Tzu

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” – Oprah Winfrey

Good luck getting a six pack, soul mate, and six-digit income simultaneously.

If you tackle too many goals at the same time, you'll be too scattered to be effective.

You can only excel in so many areas of life at once. It'd be more efficient to attempt one challenge at a time. After you achieve consistency and see substantial results, tackle another.

R. Don't be a slave to your smartphone.

"Social media has given us this idea that we should all have a posse of friends when in reality, if we have one or two really good friends, we are lucky." ― Brene Brown

"All this technology is destroying our social skills. Not only have we given up on writing letters to each other, we barely even talk to each other. People have become so accustomed to texting that they’re actually startled when the phone rings. It’s like we suddenly all have Batphones. If it rings, there must be danger." ― Ellen DeGeneres

Your phone makes a noise. Do you instinctively reach for it, regardless of what you're doing? If so, you might be a Facebook addict.

I've seen people send texts and answer phone calls while using a urinal. That's a tragic commentary on society. We've become dopamine junkies, who feel like we accomplished something just because someone "liked" a status update.

It's exhausting to keep up with everybody's life on social media. What's the point, anyway? Most people present an idealized version of their world. It's like a magic trick: no matter how impressive it looks, you're being manipulated by smoke and mirrors. Stop scrolling and live your own life. It'll lead to a more fulfilling existence... I promise.

S. Eliminate all distractions without mercy.

“Don't mistake activity with achievement." ― John Wooden

“My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people.” ― Patricia Highsmith

Why bother to consume depressing news stories that will only stress you out?

Have you ever persuaded someone to change their mind in a comment thread?

What's the point of starting a political debate when you have no chance of winning?

Devoting time to this stuff is frivolous, because it doesn't make a significant difference. Channel your energy elsewhere.

T. Money should be renamed “freedom units (FU).”

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” – Oscar Wilde

“Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.” – Will Rogers

There's nothing immoral about pursuing wealth.

Every human being needs money to survive and thrive.

Don't perceive savings as dollars and cents. Instead, call it freedom units (FU).

Being rich gives you the freedom to say, "Fuck you," to a city or town that doesn't feel like "home."

Being rich gives you the freedom to say, "Fuck you," to a boss or manager who doesn't respect you.

Being rich gives you the freedom to say, "Fuck you," to a partner or spouse who treats you like garbage.

Being rich gives you the freedom to be generous, travel without abandon, and do whatever the fuck you want.

U. Time and attention are your most valuable resources.

“Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” – José Ortega y Gasset

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” – Jean de La Bruyère

You can't consume an endless stream of negative news stories and complain when you find yourself in a sour mood. What did you expect to happen? You might as well touch a hot stove and act surprised when it burns your hand.

You're a product of how you invest your time and attention. If it makes you feel sad or crappy, then you probably shouldn't be consuming it.

Replace mindless browsing with focused learning that helps you become a better human.

Substitute channel surfing with active leisure that fulfills you in a more meaningful way.

5. Work / Career / Education / Professionalism


“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” ― Jerome K. Jerome

V. Less thinking, more doing.

“You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.” ― C.G. Jung

“I think and think and think, I've thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.”  ― Jonathan Safran Foer

It's smart to be a critical thinker, but don't use that as an excuse to procrastinate.

No one ever heard of the guy who thought about writing a book. One must write the book before it can be read.

Translate ideas into actions as soon as they enter your consciousness. Otherwise, how will they possibly benefit you?

W. Systems are better than goals.

“Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” ― Albert Einstein

“Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.” ― Gustave Flaubert

Hope is not a strategy. If you want to be successful, you must transform your ambitions into simple actions that can be checked off everyday.

"I want to get my first paying client by the end of this month," is a good goal. However, it'd be even better to follow a system or process that would naturally produce that outcome.

"I will contact at least one potential client everyday this month," is a solid system. If a freelancer followed-through with that task every day, their odds of success would be high.

X. Passion fades. Persistence lasts.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle

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

Don't depend on motivation. It's too unreliable. If I only worked when I "felt like it," I'd be broke and homeless.

The patient guy who shows up everyday (whether he wants to or not) will always beat the passionate guy who isn't very consistent.

Y. Combine your talents in a unique way.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?” ― Benjamin Franklin

“Everyone has talent. What's rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” ― Erica Jong

Scott Adams discusses the concept of talent stacks. The goal is to combine ordinary skills until you end up with something extraordinary.

I'm a superb writer, good actor,* and okay businessman. Freelance writing is a great career choice for me, because it allows me to connect those strengths in a strategic way.

Pitching clients demands me to be skilled at sales (business). Driving traffic to articles requires me to get people's attention (acting). And no one would hire me if I didn't have a proven track record of producing viral content (writing).

*That link goes to the Amazon page for "Before the Fall," which is a fantastic film I acted in.

Z. A big ego is not an asset... it's a liability.

"I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." ― Plato 

"Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy." ― Proverbs 27:6

The ego doesn't care about your personal development. It's more interested in protecting your self-esteem.

You are not a delicate flower. If a harsh truth will make you a better person, then it's in your best interest to hear it (even if that requires your ego to take a hit).

And knock it off with the defense of: "But I was just being myself!" "Be yourself" is only good advice when you have your shit together. If you can't handle constructive criticism, then you'll never evolve into a better version of yourself.

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I’ll Be Happy When…

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

be_happy_when

"I'll be happy when..." is a dangerous statement that often leads to disappointment.

I'll be happy when I get in shape... I'll be happy when I graduate college... I'll be happy when I am financially secure... I'll be happy when I start my own business... I'll be happy when (insert your criteria here).

And then what?

You lose some weight, which is nice at first, but then you start to feel insecure again.

You graduate with honors, which boosts your ego, but then it's a struggle to find work in your field.

You build an emergency savings account, which makes life easier, but then it stops feeling like "enough."

You start a biz, which gives you purpose, but then you don't have any time or energy leftover for anything else.

Humans are terrible at predicting the future. Pinning your happiness to an external outcome is a critical mistake, because there's no guarantee the rewards will be as bountiful (or long lasting) as you imagined.

The Constant Whisper of Discontent

I have a hungry, hungry ego. It's like a perfectionist mother who will never be satisfied by her kid's accomplishments, no matter how impressive they might be.

My ego is the driving force that led me to pursue fitness, get in shape, and become a stay-at-home writer. Have any of these things made me happy? Not really. They improved my quality of life, but that's not "happiness."

I lost 50+ pounds and felt okay about my body for a while (but then I started to feel insecure about a lack of muscle). I loved every second of working from home at first (but then I started to get lonely, because there's no one to talk to).

Do the pros outweigh the cons? Certainly! But it's far from the world of perfection that I had originally imagined. Keep your expectations in check. Achieving a goal is rarely as glamorous or life-changing as you predicted. Do the work with no regard to the outcome. Embrace the process, because that's where the magic really happens.

"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." -Abraham Lincoln

Happiness does not come from external goals or circumstances. Happiness is a product of your internal thoughts. Never say, "I'll be happy when..." again. Replace it with: "I am happy now, because..."

I'm happy now, because I have friends and family who love me. I'm happy now, because I get to chill with my dog while I work. I'm happy now, because every day presents an opportunity to learn and grow. I'm happy now, because I have the freedom to express myself. I'm happy now, because you chose to read this blog (Thank you!). 🙂

I challenge you to make a list of 5-10 things you are happy about now at the beginning or end of every day. If you sustain a gratitude practice for several weeks or months, I bet it will make you feel better about life.

(Prove me wrong. I dare you.)

On Love, Writing, and Hustle

Friday, November 27th, 2015

love writing hustle

My love affair with writing began when I was 18 years old. I took a creative writing class on a whim and was immediately hooked.

My mom is one of the most nostalgic people in the Universe. She has memory books of pictures, play programs (I act in community theatre, too), and stories + articles written during high school and college.

As a teen, I was a devout Jesus freak.

I expressed my faith in editorials RE: Creationism + other hot topics of Christianity in the school paper. I also wrote science fiction stories about strange scenarios like cats collectively revolting and taking over the country (you know, like Planet of the Apes, except with cats... the imagination was strong in this one).

Writing serves several purposes for me (dumb fun included). First and foremost, writing is an emotional outlet. During the winter of last year, my mind was not in a positive place. I lived in an apartment so cramped it felt like a prison cell. My car engine died and I didn't have a roommate, so there was no opportunity to escape.

I remember feeling depressed and binge watching Dexter, Breaking Bad, or Sons of Anarchy for hours at a time.

Dexter is one of my favorite TV shows, because I can relate with having a "dark passenger" (don't worry, mine is wayyyy more boring than his).

My physical body couldn't get away from what it perceived as a "negative" environment and thus my mental body was drawn to escapist entertainment. Do you know the feeling? If so, it's Ok.

After months of twists + turns (but little personal growth or satisfaction), I started a stream-of-conscious journal. Note: I originally read about this reflection exercise in, "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron (click here to see it in action).

If you've seen Mean Girls, imagine a stream-of-conscious journal as the written equivalent of word vomit.

You wake up, roll out of bed, grab a pen + paper, and write down whatever happens to cross your mind (no matter how nasty or negative it might be). Call it a brain dump.

Get the junk out of your system first thing in the morning and it won't bother you as much later. Of course, keeping a journal isn't for everybody, but it never hurts to try.

Self-reflection is often a revealing experience.

You might discover the same anxious thoughts and feelings are triggered by similar situations or circumstances.

Step 1: Be mindful of potential triggers.

Step 2: Prevent, eliminate, or minimize them.

The thoughts, feelings, situations, and circumstances that have a detrimental effect on your mood or mental functioning may be defined as stress sources.

Journaling helped me figure out my biggest stressors. For the curious, here’s the top three:

  1. Environment (crappy apartment)
  2. Location (far away from friends and family)
  3. Money (enough to survive, but I wanted to thrive)

It is nice to "detach from the outcome," and "look on the bright side," but it's also good to be mindful of the perceived burdens that make it so hard to "think positive." How else would you come up with a plan of attack?

I don't mean attack in a, “beat yourself up,” way. It's best to treat yourself with tender compassion. Guilt and shame are unhelpful emotions. They shut down the part of your brain that believes it is capable of change. Talk about counterproductive. Love yourself for who you are (even the messy parts). This is step #1. It cannot be skipped.

Develop an offensive mindset.

Instead of letting problems grow or fester, starve them of resources by attacking the root cause.

My sadness was largely a result of my physical location. Moving was an expensive proposition, but it was the most obvious way to improve my overall quality of life, so I chose to focus my time + energy in that direction.

Remember my Netflix addiction? It took care of itself. In the past, it was easy to procrastinate, because I didn't have a purpose or compelling reason to act. Writing a daily journal helped me remember why I woke up every morning. "Why" is a powerful question to ask. Anytime you feel stuck or trapped, refocus by considering, Why does it matter?

I'm glad I worked hard enough to escape from what I viewed as a poor living situation -- it's easier to get into a good flow of writing (not be distracted) and I can tell the work is coming from a more positive place -- but I’ve realized hustling doesn’t make me happy.

Money can improve your quality of life to the extent that it eliminates or minimizes stressors, but I still felt empty inside.

Wow. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. I devoted so much time to work that I sacrificed love and friendship in the process. Don't misread me. I have a few near and dear friends. I'm connected with lots of great people on Facebook. But let's face the facts. Most of my BFF’s moved many years ago. I'm a bit shy and introverted, so I don't get out a lot, and as a consequence my love life was dormant for more than three years.

It's worth noting my inaction was partly intentional.

For one thing, I believe sexual energy can be directed to creative endeavors like writing Kindle books. For another, I felt really self-conscious about my living situation at the time, so I chose to save money and work on myself in lieu of dating. That said, I have been settled in my new home for three months now (and am 100% over being single), so it seemed like an appropriate time to dive back into dating.

In the past, I have called online dating "ineffective," because I had a few bad experiences that made me feel jaded.

This was mostly self-inflicted. A few months after writing my original profile, I gave it an unbiased second look, and was shocked by the negative comments and egotistical statements that came out of my mouth.

Looking in the mirror is hard, but necessary. Self-awareness influences many aspects of life, especially your ability to connect with others in a deep or meaningful way. After reflection, I rewrote my profile in a more positive tone, and women immediately became more responsive.

Recall I'm an introvert who hates bars and clubs. This =  the #1 reason why I <3 online dating.

OkCupid provides thoughtful personality questions about your kinks, needs, beliefs, desires, turn-offs, and other characteristics. As a result, you get to know another person while chilling at home in your pajamas. Some people feel this removes mystery and excitement, but others (like me) prefer to chat via written word before meeting face-to-face. Physical attraction matters, but I'm all about wit and sass.

My mamaw was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer.

Surgeons removed a cancerous tumor from her brain, but not before the disease spread to other areas of her body. Aggressive medical treatments would only delay the inevitable.

My family is choosing to let go, because we don't want mamaw -- a woman who was like a second mother to me (I rode the bus to her house every day after school as a child) -- to suffer any more than necessary.

Mamaw only has a few days left. I'm not saying this to beg for sympathy. It’s a plain fact. She has not been conscious for a while now, but I remember our last interaction (when she was still awake + aware) like it was yesterday.

A couple of nurses asked me to leave the room to give her privacy, so I went to the hallway, and overheard the following: "You should really meet my grandson. He writes from home, acts in plays, and he's seriously a funny guy... I bet you would like him!"

It was a good sales pitch. She highlighted the benefits of artsy, ambitious, adventurous.

The nurses giggled and made positive comments... maybe because saying: "Sorry ma’am, your grandson sounds too weird and eccentric for my tastes," would have been awkward.

A small part of me wonders if this moment is the exact thing that inspired me to say, "Forget my to-do list*," and concentrate 100% on meeting a compatible + considerate partner or dear one.  If my mamaw had a miraculous recovery that defied modern medicine, I know exactly what I would tell her:

"I got a girlfriend, mamaw, and I'm aware this might be crazy considering we only recently met... but we share a strong bond, spark, attraction, or whatever you want to call it… and we jive on most important life stuff, so I feel great about our odds… and why not trust the Universe for a change? I will always love you. Thanks for taking good care of me and showing me there is more to life than hustle."

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7 Reasons Why You Should Never Start a Yoga Practice

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Yoga sounds awesome. How many activities can you name that have a positive impact on your health, fitness, and stress levels? Even so, yoga isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. I'm not kidding. Here are seven reasons why you seriously shouldn’t start a yoga practice.

start a yoga practice

1. Yoga will tame your ego.

Yogis and yoginis have a calm mind. The ego is the voice inside your head that never stops talking. Yoga allows you to access a quiet place. It will feel lonely at first. Sure, chaotic thoughts are confusing, but at least they keep you company.

2. Yoga will teach you to eat mindfully. 

Yogis and yoginis develop body awareness. They notice how foods influence their mood and energy levels. This knowledge is a curse in disguise. As soon as you realize how much junk food upsets your stomach, you’ll never want to eat a Big Mac again.

3. Yoga will turn you into a goody two shoes.

Yogis and yoginis tend to be upbeat. They don’t gossip. They don’t start rumors. They don’t argue for no good reason. They only speak when they have something nice to say. Your positive vibes will make friends and co-workers wonder what the heck happened to you.

4. Yoga will help you improve poor health habits.

Yogis and yoginis often meditate and keep a journal or diary. Self-reflection is helpful for people with addictive personalities. Reflecting in a journal can uncover triggers that tempt you to drink, gamble, eat candy, smoke cigarettes, or do whatever impulsive thing you like to do. Changing your habits is too hard. Don't bother.

5. Yoga will encourage you to be content with life.

Yogis and yoginis try to look on the bright-side of "bad" situations. They understand life is a roller-coaster including ups, downs, twists, and turns that can rock your emotional being. Yoga teaches you to be less reactive to any stressful situation the Universe throws at you. This can be really hard for control freaks to swallow. Trust me... I know.

6. Yoga will steal time from other pleasant activities.

Yogis and yoginis are devoted to their yoga practice. They have jobs, families, hobbies, and responsibilities just like you. There is no way to dedicate every moment of your day to yoga. Life is busy. Making sacrifices will be necessary. You might have to spend less time watching your favorite sitcom or soap opera (unless you are darn good at multitasking).

7. Yoga will reveal how your environment influences you.

Yogis and yoginis love how mellow they feel following a yoga class. They don’t like drama. It messes up their mojo. The more mindful you become, the more you will realize other people’s energy affects your mood for better or worse. Sound like a nightmare? Sorry, but it’s true. If you’d rather stay ignorant, please don’t start a yoga practice. It’s not worth the risk.

Note: I was being sarcastic.

Starting a yoga practice changed my life in surprising ways.

Some people learn best through humor and reverse psychology, so I chose to be silly.

If this post made you smile, please share on Facebook. You might encourage one of your friends to do yoga.

Want to learn how to start a yoga practice by the end of this week? Click the link in the last sentence to read about my beginner friendly yoga book: "Do Yoga Every Damn Day."

25 Cheap and Healthy Foods You Need to Know

Monday, October 5th, 2015

“I really want to eat healthy, but I’m broke!” Sound familiar? As a former college student and member of Club Broke, I know the feeling. Who says healthy eating has to be expensive? Get fit on your budget with these 25 cheap and healthy foods you need to know. 🙂

cheap and healthy foods

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5 Weird Ways to Sabotage Yourself (#5 Is Ironic)

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Do you feel frustrated because you have ambition, but little to show for it? If so, you might be sabotaging yourself without even realizing it. Read ahead and I will reveal how self sabotage happens.

success

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4 Power Poses for Self Esteem and Body Confidence

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Hi. Please watch the watch the video to learn how power poses can develop self esteem and body confidence (and then read the blog below for examples from pop culture to help you with application). 🙂

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9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Even the hardest days contain lessons that will help you be a better person. Feeling down? Here are nine things to remember on a bad day.

bad day

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9 Surprising Benefits of Being Single

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

I’m convinced most people in long-term relationships are secretly miserable. Sure, it’s nice to have a partner to cuddle with, but relationships can also be inconvenient. If you don’t believe me, consider these surprising benefits of being single.

benefits of being single

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12 Things You Need to Know about Yoga: Benefits, Common Myths, and How to Get Started

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Yoga is a beginner friendly exercise that is scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental health is awesome, but yoga improves your physical fitness too. Practice yoga every day and you'll develop balance, core strength, flexibility, and more. You'll definitely want to take a yoga class after you read this list.

yoga

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5 Fascinating Benefits of Meditation (#3 Will Move You)

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Meditation isn’t reserved for Buddhist monks.

Anyone can benefit from this ancient mindfulness practice.

If you suffer from anxiety or depression, meditation could ease the burdens that trouble you.

If you’re a busy parent, meditation could help you stay calm the next time your child throws a tantrum.

If you’re an ambitious professional, meditation could help you concentrate on delivering quality work that will impress your clients.

Whether you want to meditate for religious reasons, stress management, or productivity enhancement is irrelevant. A moment of silence serves you in so many ways it would be silly not to do it. Check out these fascinating benefits of meditation.

Peace of Mind wooden sign with a beach on background

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15 Things Mindful People Do Differently (Introverts Will Love #10)

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Mindful people don’t worry about a future they can't predict. They live in the present, because that’s where progress happens. Check out these fifteen things mindful people do differently for a healthy and happy life.

mindful people

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Be Successful with the Action Habit (Skip #1 at Your Own Risk)

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Here's how to be more successful in 14 tough (but necessary) steps. Don't be afraid. #7 will make the process of achieving a big goal seem less scary and intimidating. 🙂

be more successful

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You Won’t Believe These Benefits of Yoga (Especially #4)

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Most people connect yoga with flexibility, but there's more to the story. These four benefits of yoga might blow your mind (people with ADD will be happy to see #2).
benefits of yoga

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13 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

What is confidence? Here are my thoughts in the form of a list (#13... wow, what a plot twist).

confident people

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7 Empowering Mantras for Encouragement and Mental Strength

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Mentally strong people weren’t born that way. They probably used to doubt themselves just like you. To develop confidence in yourself, remember these affirmations that will help you be mentally strong (video game fans will love #7).

be mentally strong

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6 Reasons to Try Yoga Today (Who Can Argue with #2?)

Friday, September 18th, 2015

There are many reasons to try yoga

This ancient practice is good for your mind, body, and soul.

You will be more calm and less clumsy (yoga balance balances poses boost coordination + concentration). 

Find out how this small but powerful habit can change your life (and get started today with actionable tips). 🙂

reasons to try yoga

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13 Things You Can Do to Make an Introvert Feel Loved

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Extroverts and introverts have different needs.

Extroverts are social creatures. Introverts most certainly are not.

Extroverts love small talk, but introverts would rather do anything else.

It is important to be aware of these differences so we can treat others with empathy.

If you know an introvert, do these 13 things to make them feel loved (#3 is my favorite).

introvert

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Small Habits That Lead to Massive Success (#5 Is Simple but Profound)

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Success in progressBeing a workaholic might be considered a virtue, but it isn’t necessary.

Why work to exhaustion when you could simply be more efficient with your time?

If you’d like to have more energy for the things that matter, implement these tiny success habits for massive results.

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5 Weird Reasons Why You Are Addicted to Facebook (#3 Explains a Lot)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Hi. My name is Daniel. I am addicted to Facebook. Or I was for a long time anyhow. Now it isn't so bad. Anyhow... (click to read more if you'd like to break your technology addiction like I did).

addicted to facebook

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15 Rants about Addiction Recovery and Other Stuff (an ADD List Post)

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Did you know I am a bit ADD? It's true. This blog is a bit all-over-the-place (and tl;dr) but that's okay. If you're curious and like to read, check out these 15 deep thoughts about addiction recovery and other stuff.

addiction recovery

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5 Super Helpful Health Tips for Busy Women (#1 Will Change How You See Food)

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

womens health tipsBuffy the Vampire Slayer shared this blog on Twitter once.

Ask me to show you a screenshot sometime (was that the least discrete humble brag ever or what?). 😉

Speaking of Buffy, I thought this quote was appropriate...

"There'’s no such thing as a supermom. We just do the best we can." - Sarah Michelle Gellar

If you'd like to be healthy (but are so busy that it's hard to find time for yourself), these women's health tips will provide a gentle shove in the right direction. 🙂  Continue Reading »

My Top 6 Favorite “Star Wars” Quotes and What They Taught Me about Life

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

"Star Wars" is one of my favorite movies in the entire Universe.

Here are my top six fave Star Wars quotes plus what they taught me about life. 🙂

star wars

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CrossFit Pros and Cons: A Fair and Balanced Analysis

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

pros and cons of crossfit

CrossFit – love it or hate it, you can't deny that it's made a huge impact on the fitness industry.

My hope is to offer a fair and balanced look at the "CrossFit pros and cons" to help you decide if this style of training might be for you.

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24 Ways to Be Awesome Every Day (#20 Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I used to be a banker (hated it) Now I'm a freelance writer (love it). 

I used to be crippled by shyness so severe that I couldn't even talk to a female without breaking a sweat; now I am (mostly) comfortable in who I am.

I My life used to be lame, but I've made it awesome (by "awesome," I really mean, "noticeably better," but we all have a tendency to exaggerate, don't we?).

That out of the way, I'd like to share the top twenty-four (!) things I've learned in my life adventure so far. If someone ever asks me how to be awesome, this really big list would be my answer.

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Should You Go to a Gym or Exercise at Home?

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Q: Should I go to a gym or exercise at home? 

A: It depends.

Click ahead and I'll offer two things you should definitely consider before making such an important decision.

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10 Weird Things That Happened When I Tried Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Intermittent fasting (a.k.a. skipping breakfast) is making rounds on the interwebz.

There are potential pitfalls (and surprising perks) you should know before embarking on your own intermittent fasting (IF) adventure.

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Batman Vs Bane: What Would Happen (and a Free Weight Lifting Plan)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

A Guest Post by Dan Trongone 

Ah, Halloween. A time of fantasy when young and old unite to forget their problems, binge on candy, and dress in silly (or slutty) costumes.

Superhero costumes will always stand the test of time for man and young boys. There is something exhilarating about putting on a pair of tights and a cape.

My favorite comic book character, hands down, is Batman. Bats has a Rogues Gallery far more frightening than his comrades in the Justice League.

The Joker? Two-Face? Killer Croc? Yikes.
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Food for Thought: Four Life Lessons I Learned In Restaurants

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Note from Dan: I believe this guest post by my friend Kedric concerning some life lessons he learned in restaurants present some interesting food for thought that you should consider. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

You are what you eat!”

I hear this statement thrown around every time somebody tries to convince a person to swap french fries for a salad.

To a certain extent, it's true, but I’m not here to ramble about how eating fries will make you a blob of adipose tissue (maybe another time).

I bet eating out is an important part of your life. When you eat out, you're not just filling you're body with nutrients and vitamins; you're growing relationships with the people you care about.

In a way, your entire life resembles eating at a restaurant.

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Kaizen: How to Get 1% Better Every Day for a Better Body and Bank Account

Friday, October 19th, 2012

A Guest Post by Tarek Roumie

Unless you are Superman or Wonder Woman, chances are you have something to improve in some aspect of your life.

When first introduced to the term kaizen in “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, I was blown away. 

The term “kaizen” is Japanese for “improvement”. But the deeper meaning of the word refers to constantly thriving to improve in everything we do. Within this lies our eventual success.

Fitness itself is considered self improvement, yet most of us get lost somewhere along the path to our goals and kaizen begins to suffer. 

Let's look at kaizen from another perspective. The game of life. 

Without constantly improving, we end up going nowhere and are stuck fighting the diseases of mediocrity and boredom (Yes, boredom is a disease). 

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