Meditations

From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius:

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Man, I find this to be powerful.

I at one point had this up in my room.

Everything in your past is now over. You have no control over it. Reflect. Learn your lessons. Remove any guilt. Forgive yourself.

You can wake up every morning a new man.

You can improve today.

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21 Ways to Be Soft

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Find what works for you. Here’s your guide.

1. Don’t put in the necessary work in order to separate yourself from the crowd. Not seeing immediate results? Just quit.

2. Be easily influenced and stick with those beliefs. Don’t question the status quo.

3. Be scared of the darkness and unknown. Turn on your nightlight. Stay inside. It’s too scary out there.

4. Lose perspective and forget how much better you have it than your ancestors…even your parents. Life is so hard! There is just too much to worry about.

5. Allow fear to have control over you. I can’t go and talk to her. What if she says no? What if she makes fun of me? What if I get embarrassed in front of my friends? We don’t want you to risk that. That may hurt your ego.

6. Doubt and negativity fills your mind. Just distract yourself. It will go away for a little. No need to pay attention to your Movie Screen.

7. Expect handouts. The world owes you something.

8. Avoid seeking help. You’ve got this! Why would you trust anyone else’s advice? Do it all yourself.

9. Have little patience with things. Immediate gratification is so much better. You need that dopamine.

10. Settle for mediocrity. Paving your own path sounds dangerous.

11. Constantly give in to distractions. What’s new on Facebook? – last login 2 minutes ago

12. Never fail. Don’t even think about that word. Avoid any situation where this may result.

13. No need to exercise now. You can do that tomorrow…

14. Debt becomes a significant part of your life. You need more things! More schooling. A better house. Some extra clothes. You need to impress some people.

15. Let others choose your path. This makes things easy. You don’t have to make any decisions for yourself.

16. Don’t use your pain and failures as fuel. Just let it brew inside. It will never get out.

17. Always be moving fast. You smell one rose, you’ve smelled them all.

18. Follow your mind over your heart at all times. I once heard this quote “the first principle is to not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Really? You’re too smart for that to apply to you, right. Don’t listen to them.

19. Complain about your current circumstances. There’s nothing you can do. Tell everyone how bad you have it and at least get some sympathy.

20. Move away from creating change. That’s too risky. Only deal with it when it’s forced upon you.

21. Don’t take the last shot. Always avoid putting your ass on the line. This way you never face the consequences. If something goes wrong, it’s on them.

All of this comes down to choice. Join the majority and be soft.

Or…

2/19 Good Reads

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Google’s Ray Kurzweil predicts how the world will change

If you don’t know who Ray Kurzweil is, he is the director of engineering at Google. He’s known as a futurist and is a big advocate of life extension and singularity. He has successfully predicted many crazy things that have found their way into our social norm. I would trust this man over many, as he is actively shaping these futuristic technologies in the maybe the most innovative company in the world.

One prediction – By 2020, we will have click and print designer clothes at home with 3D printing…

There’s more.

Smarter Than Smart

Who’s smarter?

Smart Version 1: Know the answer to question X.

Smart Version 2: Know how to find the answer to question X.

In this post, you find out. It’s time to start questioning what “smart” means.

Intelligence is becoming more and more overrated.

These 11 Charts Show Everything That’s Wrong With The Modern Diet

Here is some good info that challenges how many people view a healthy diet.

My personal takeaway – eat less sugary foods.

We all knew this already, but consistent reminders are good.

Potential Tactics for Defeating Cancer — A Toolkit in 1,000 Words

A few of my thoughts:

  • We need to start looking into the effects of glucose and insulin reduction when it comes to growth of cancer cells.
  • We’ve known how to kill cancer cells for a long time now. The struggle is how to isolate killing the cancer cells and not good cells as well.
  • I believe chemo and radiation are not the most effective measures we know of in order to kill cancer cells. I think these treatments are the most effective ways to make money. However, if put in a situation to choose which route to go, I’m still not sure how I would handle it.
  • I’ve read recently that grape seed extract is effective at inhibiting growth of cancer cells. You know what else has been linked to slowing cancer growth, THC.

The Barbell Strategy

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Recent grads and fellow people in your 20’s, this post is directed at you. We all need a wake up call. This existing employment structure is beginning to crumble and many of us are blindly putting all our eggs in one basket. Technology is taking jobs away from us left and right. It’s getting risky…no matter what you decide to do with your career. Sure, there is plenty of advice out there, but I’ve weeded through enough of that to last a lifetime. My conclusion – 99% is bullshit. So guess what I did? I made a decision to follow my own advice. And to tell if it is right or wrong would be ignorant of me. I just want you to start questioning a few things.

So let’s explore some options.

To play it safe or to go for it? Or both?

Let’s first talk about what playing it safe looks like.

You look on Careerbuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, Craigslist, and maybe go to some career fairs in search of a job.

You heavily rely on your resume, which is most likely filled with a bunch of big, meaningless words and a lot of non-relevant experience. Maybe you’re even lucky enough to know someone within a company who hooks you up with an interview. This will get you in the door somewhere.

You dress up like someone important. Suit. Tie. Shiny Shoes. Maybe a briefcase.

You sit in a small room, where someone asks questions when most are just looking to see if they like you or not.

You go after the highest paying job offer – assuming you get an offer.

You maybe get a cubicle and put your 8 hours in.

You get your paycheck. Pay off your debt. Pay off the essentials. You spend the rest on going out on weekends, putting some away in your 401k and maybe even saving for a nice house.

Your spare time after work consists of mostly watching tv or browsing the internet for hours.

Then you repeat.

Now don’t get me wrong, money is a hugely important aspect of our society. I love money. I want more of it. That is why I decided to work an 8-4 job. I now have the freedom to live on my own, eat healthy, exercise, have a car, and have a little extra spend how I like. This is where I want to hit on. This disposable income is what can make or break your future.

This is where I’m at. I’m working my day job to pay the bills and working on my startup on the side. This is The Barbell Strategy in the works.

The Barbell Strategy is a commonly used bond-trading strategy, but like anything, it can be applied in many different forms. A traditional example would be to put 90% of your assets in a very safe investment and 10% into a RISKY (probably lose time, money, etc) low-downside, high-upside investment. By low-downside I mean you will lose a minimal amount of time, money, etc in the grand scheme of things. By high-upside I mean there is a great potential for monetary or other valuable benefits.

In my case, I am applying this to my working life. I have my safe job that provides me with the money and benefits I need, while at the same time, I’m working passionately on a side project. I am dedicating a decent portion of my side income and spare time into this. It’s something I believe in. It’s giving me a purpose. It is calculated risk-taking.

There are a great amount of benefits associate with this strategy:

  • If my side project does not work, I lose very little money in the grand scheme of things.
  • I am developing skills on the side that no one else is.
  • My mind is becoming sharper.
  • It is teaching me the value of patience.
  • There is a high upside of my side project.
  • I am still making a steady living and don’t have to necessarily worry about money.

Going all-in on a startup idea out of college is a bold move…one too risky for me. I’ve been through the hardships of a first-time startup. You think you know what you’re doing, but reality eventually wakes you up. There are so many unforseen variables in play. It’s just too risky for my liking. My advice is make that move once you begin to see good results ($) and have reason to see it in the future.

For now, The Barbell Strategy is my best risk-taking option. It may be yours as well. Maybe you don’t want to put in the time to start a side project like me, but try to find a hobby or skill that you are 100% drawn to. It can be something as simple as drawing or reading. Remember: think low downside and high upside. Do this on the side.

Your future-self will thank you.

If you want more info about The Barbell Strategy, follow Nassim Taleb’s work.

Note to 20-Year-Old Self

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So things are going well, right. You’re in college. You’re meeting new lifelong friends. You don’t have many responsibilities. You’re free.

But with this freedom and free time comes a lot of decision-making.

You’re off to a good start in few areas. You began reading books, which will come in handy in many future situations, as well as put you on a good course to discover your creativity. But this is not the end-all be-all. It’s nice to have some confidence from reading a few psychology, success, and business books. But there are many people currently around you that instinctively have this knowledge without having to read this material. Continue reading books and articles that interest you. That challenges your existing opinions on issues. That leads to self-improvement. That opens your mind. By doing so, you will head in the right direction.

Your exercising habits are improving as well. It’s great you love to play basketball and hit the gym quite often. These will continue to put you on a course of discipline and being healthy. You’re still considered obese by health standards, but this will continue to improve if you keep this up and continue your education about healthy eating. Oh, quick tip. You have to really question modern advice. There is a lot of bad advice out there. Find trustworthy sources and test their ideas on yourself. Only then will you know what works for you personally.

I’m glad you’re having a good time with your friends. Some of these relationships you started will last for years, if not the rest of your life. Don’t take this time for granted. I would also say to be careful who you choose to spend your time with. Remember: You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

I have to warn you about something though. You need a little help in this area. You’ve been taking the safe route a little too often. I notice you wait around for things to come to you. It’s almost as if think the universe owes you something. Now don’t get me wrong, you are a nice kid and you’ve starting improving yourself in some aspects of your life, but the world demands more than that. If there is one thing the universe requires in order for it to give something back, that would be you putting positive energy into the world. Focus on overcoming the habit you have developed of being passive in situations when you know you should take action. Do whatever it takes to pound this into your head. This is crucial.

In a similar topic, let’s talk about fear. I know you have found yourself in many situations that make you nervous. But you have to realize…this is normal. It’s better to attack this by paying attention to what type of situations cause this response, along with how you usually handle yourself. Energy can be transformed. Work on transforming your fear and inexperience into a positive by creating challenges for yourself and taking things less seriously. You have a long way to go. Take more calculated risks than what makes you feel comfortable.

You still have a lot to learn, Greg. Your path will not be how you anticipate it now. But that’s okay. Enjoy the highs and lows. There will be a lot of them. But don’t get too high or too low, as the opposite will find its way into your life quicker than you expect. Life is a journey that no one will be able to truly explain to you, even though many will say they have found the answer. Decide to learn on your own through your experiences. So make sure to have fun, spend a lot of time discovering yourself, and spread positivity around as much as possible.

In closing, all I have to say is:

Enjoy the ride my friend

A Run to the Gym

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Last night I laid in my bed in silence and let my mind wander.

I was jumping from thought to thought. Seeing colors. Seeing shapes…

Then an old man made his way center stage. I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be me in the future? Me in a past life? Or maybe a total stranger.

Who knows?

But this man was laying on his death bed and somehow I entered his mind. He was thinking to himself – what I would give to just get up and walk out of here one more time. I could sense his pain. I could feel it. He was so determined to get up, but he couldn’t. Time took its course on him and there was nothing he could do. His physical capabilities were gone. I just wanted to help him.

Then all of a sudden the focus went back on me. Immediately after experiencing these feelings, I realized I’m once again taking things for granted.

I have a loving, supporting family.

I have great friends.

I can support myself.

I can get up and run.

So today, on a 10 degree day in St. Louis, I decided to ditch my car and take a jog to the gym. I want to take advantage of what I have now. You know that quote “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone?” My experiences show this is true. I want to make gratefulness a habit in my life. This betters my perspective and will help me live every day more fully.

I did that today.