brain shock

Another Netflix episode? Or an hour spent journaling.

Another ten minutes on Instagram? Or time spent doing nothing.

No phone. No input. Simply being. 

Many have written about the power of turning off and physically removing sources of input (i.e., the cellphone).

It is a phenomenal brain charge and a healthy thing to do regularly.

In the material world, when wondering whether to keep or give away a sweater, Marie Kondo asks Does this bring joy?

The same question applies to media and the internet.

Disconnecting creates brain space.

The empty space allows for stillness which counterintuitively floods the brain with creativity.

The effect is similar to taking a cold shower.

Turning on airplane mode and hiding the phone creates space for eureka moments.

Plan de Vida

In South America, plan de vida is similar to the term vocation.

Vocation is the intense feeling of suitability for your career or occupation.

It is the reason why you do what you do.

In Japan, it is also called ikigai. 

I was thinking about these terms this morning as I read Shawn Askinosie’s book Meaningful Work and his reference to Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It got me thinking more about what I am currently doing, what I’ve done and what I am planning to do.

What truly drives you?

This conversation in my head, now written in this blog, starts with an excerpt from Tuesdays With Morrie.

Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

“You’ll notice,” he added, grinning, “there’s nothing in there about a salary.”

“Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t belonging for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”

Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom

Helping others drives me.

To actually propel someone forward, to leave them slightly better than you found them, and to make a small dent in the universe requires showing up daily with generous intent.

This will look different depending on who you are.

Making a dent in the universe doesn’t mean saving the world from the next pandemic. It doesn’t involve curing cancer. And it doesn’t necessarily mean holding the door open for the person behind you.

Helping others is really about an attitude and approach towards life.

It shifts the focus from me to you. 

Metaphorically, it requires stepping out of one’s shoes and swapping with your neighbor. It also doesn’t mean you must keep your neighbor’s shoes. It is more about understanding where the other person is coming from.

And this involves listening deeply. And not waiting to speak when the other person is speaking.

It is about being heard and being seen.

Parents who are actively involved with their kids know this. When you have a kid, you stop looking at the ground in front of you. You shift your eyes to the horizon. You pick your kid up higher above your shoulders so they too can see the view ahead.

Plan de vida, ikigai and vocation.

Whatever you choose to do, whether that be a project, career, or even lifestyle, do so with intent and tact. Think about how you will end or transition the project before you even start it.

That’s all for today.

Thanks for reading,

Cory.

The day I quit the cube farm and became a Fromager

It was my first day in the cube farm.

And it did not last long.

I took one look and thought to myself, I will not last one minute.

I thought of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and Walden by Thoreau.

I thought of scenes from Office Space and Fight Club. Further, I visualized myself melting into a puddle of wax like a candle out of an Indiana Jones movie.

And then I had an epiphany.

I could change my life trajectory in a flash.

I could seize the entrepreneurship lifestyle so many adore and talk about.

It was a wizard-like stroke of insight.

I could become a Fromager, an expert who makes cheese.

https://www.instructables.com/Basic-Steps-of-How-to-Make-Cheese/

What indeed could be better than such an escape?

Visions of sharp, soft, and gooey cheese melted into my brain.

The much sought-after lifestyle of the fromager had never previously crossed my mind.

Oh, mild-cheddar bliss!

The cheese caves. The dark must funk of the fascinating cheese universe. I could not resist the idea.

I promptly walked into my new boss’s office and told him Goodbye.

He could see the sparkle in my eye, his eyebrow slightly raised.

The alarm buzzed.

Startled, I half opened an eye and then realized it was Monday.

All the action happens at 32 degrees.

Focus on systems, not goals. 

Since 2012, when I took a travel writing course, I wanted to write a book. This was my goal.

It is now 2021. The book hasn’t happened. I have pitched this goal. Instead, I made a system.

Why now?

I got so sick of myself not writing. It was too big of a goal to write a book and I felt paralyzed.

Like wanting eight pack abs, one goal for me was to show up and write. This goal wasn’t working. I didn’t have a well-designed system in place. I atrophied.

James Clear, the best-selling author of Atomic Habits, says that massive change occurs over time in small increments.

He tells the story of an ice cube sitting in a warming room.

At 25 degrees, ice is ice. Nothing exciting happens.

At 26 degrees, ice is still ice, yet at the molecular level, things are changing.

At 27 degrees, same story.

At 32 degrees, BOOM! Now we have water.

No one can see the small molecular changes happening in those 7 degrees of change. To the outside observer, it is as if all the change happens instantly.

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

Now I have a system in place. 

It took me a long time with other projects (photography, healthcare drug waste, comic strip, a children’s plush animal for a book) and sunk costs to realize what was and wasn’t working. And that is okay. Those previous experiences are all part of the building process.

I am writing.

The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

It is motivating for me to look back and connect the dots. It is more exciting to imagine and plan for a brighter future. It starts now. When asked, “Are you a writer?” What do you say?

Thanks for reading,

Cory

Wrenching Season

Photo by Tekton on Unsplash

It is that time of year to take the cover off the bike, refresh the fluids, invest in new tires, find that 10mm wrench, and get to work.

There is a thing about wrenching that is very grounding. The physical turn of the wrench, the removal of bolts, schlepping of metal, and replacing gaskets and seals provide endorphins where I find myself returning to it again and again.

Regardless of the project, the wrenching process itself can be illuminating. With the proper diagnostic mindset, you end up finding out more about yourself in the process. The blood, sweat, and profanity of a pinched finger are essential elements.

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Similar to wrenching your machine for improvement, journaling sharpens the mind. It is the process of self-reflection through writing. Similar to fresh oil in a machine, journaling helps clear the mind, improving arterial flow to the brain. The habit of wrenching your mind daily with pencil and paper provides profound creative bursts of insight. At the end of the wrenching session, you may feel as if you have solved all of the world’s problems.