I started meditating regularly at the beginning of 2019. It took some getting used to, but it’s become a part of my daily routine. Taking some time out to be alone with my thoughts has been peaceful, relaxing, and enlightening.
I’ve found it to be especially important given how busy and frantic day to day life has become. We are bombarded incessantly with ads. The news cycle never ends. Our devices make us constantly available. The distraction of the internet is only a click away. Our personal and professional responsibilities are always pulling at us. It makes taking time out for one’s self more important than ever.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a meditation practice but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few suggestions that helped me.
It’s easy to live life looking back and telling ourselves a story that life would be different if ‘this’ or ‘that’ would have happened. Likewise, it’s easy to live life looking into the future and thinking that we’ll be happy when we do ‘this’ or when ‘that’ happens.
I know. I’ve been there – in both places, sometimes at the same time. And what I’ve found is that neither one of those places, ruminating on the past or worrying about the future are fun places to be.
Wouldn’t it be great if life had an easy button? Something you could press when you wanted to take the shortcut to success. Instead of putting in the time and effort to learn, to do the hard work, you could simply wish what you want into existence.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t seem like it from what you see on the internet, but what you read isn’t reality. These stories can generally be broken down into the following categories:
The lies Yes, whether you want to believe it or not, fake news is real. The story of the person who put in the hours is not interesting. People like to hear about the instant rags-to-riches stories. Unfortunately, most of these aren’t real.
The glamorized success story While not a lie, some success stories are made to look like they happened overnight when they were actually years in the making. Following someone who’s plodding along isn’t interesting. What’s interesting is taking years of hard work and boiling down into the 5 minutes of fame YouTube video, which seems to be the limit of our attention span these days.
The long and winding road While not popular, these stories are out there. They’re not fun because it shows that real success takes time, a lot of time. They take work, a lot of work. Not only is the reward worth the effort but so is the journey to get there.
Getting rich quick Rare, but they do exist. They’re like the searching for Moby Dick. You can spend you’re entire life chasing the short path to success and miss out on the rewards that are part of the long journey.
So what’s my point? Life is a journey, and our reward is that journey. Instead of looking for the easy button, life is about putting in the time and effort, learning and growing every day, and committing to the hard work it takes to achieve lasting success. It’s both more rewarding and more fulfilling.
Don’t fall into the trap of searching for the easy button. It’s easy to do, and even if you do find it, you might be surprised that it’s not all that’s it cracked up to be.
It’s interesting to see the path people take developing their skills, interests, and hobbies. I’ll read stories about those who are passionate about something and have focused intently on building a skill since they were little kids. They’ve written books, created television shows, maintain active social media channels, and have loyal fan bases. It seems so simple. Pick something. Focus on it. Become an expert.
I’ve rarely found that to be the case for me. I also doubt that it’s the case for most other people as well.
When I look back on my hobbies, it’s more of a long and winding road than a straight path to success. I find that I tend to dabble in lots of things, working on them here and there. I’ll accumulate knowledge and skill until it reaches a flashpoint. Then, out of nowhere, a spark comes along, and wham! I’m hooked.
Such is the case with how I developed my passion for baking.
I’m a big fan of Rohan’s Learning A Day blog. He does a great job synthesizing complex topics into powerful statements. In this case, his point is that “media companies have somehow convinced us that there are few things that matter more than staying up to date.” We are bombarded by content from emails, news articles, blogs, podcasts, social media, and television. There is so much coming at us that it’s impossible to stay up to date. As he would say, it’s a “fool’s errand.”
Believe me, there was a point in time where I bought into what the media companies were selling. I tried to stay up to date, and I failed. And out of the failure came a valuable lesson. Life is not about the amount of content you consume, it’s about the quality.
Even if you haven’t watched the movie The Social Dilemma, which I would highly recommend by the way, you know that users are being exploited on the internet. It’s no secret that social media, news, and many other types of websites and mobile apps make money selling their users’ data. If we know this, why do we keep giving it to them?
Yes, the website owners, app developers, and software engineers bear a lot of the responsibility, but it’s not all their fault. We, as users, bear a lot of the responsibility by enabling them. So long as we are willing to trade our data for “free” software, the owners and producers will continue exploiting us for their gain. It’s like a person addicted to smoking blaming the cigarette makers for their poor health. Yes, the cigarette makers are responsible. But, if one knows smoking is bad for you, why would one keep doing it?
Giving away our data and engaging in questionable online behaviors are bad for us. It’s time for us to “just say no” and change our internet and overall software habits.
While house cleaning blog topics recently, I stumbled across a few articles lamenting the state of the technology industry. The common theme throughout these articles was how technology companies were exploiting users for their personal gain. You would think that these articles would have been written in the last year or two.
Think again. Many of these articles were at least three or four years old, with a couple written ten years ago.
Where am I going with this? We’ve known about the dangers of the large, powerful technology companies for at least ten years. During that time, nothing has changed. Nothing. If anything the problem is only getting worse.
It’s been said that we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family. For better or worse, we’re stuck with them. In my case, even if I were able to choose my family, I wouldn’t choose any differently. I’d choose the same parents. Every. time. I wouldn’t trade them for any others. Ever.
Each year I like to review my fitness goals for the prior year and set new ones for the upcoming year. Doing these reviews helps to keep me focused and on track. As people like to say, you achieve the results you measure.
My goals for last year were centered around working out, walking, and diet. These have been the areas of focus for the last 3 years, and I plan to continue these into 2021. As you’ll see below, the COVID pandemic impacted my goals for last year, and I’m still figuring out how to adjust my goals for 2021 based on the challenges of the continued lock-downs and closures.
Let’s get into it by looking back on 2020 and then ahead into 2021.