On Mindset

How you perceive things forms habits that eventually create your very reality. I wrote something like a few years ago. Some time has passed since my last post, and a lot has changed.

I look back on my photos every few months, and I get a vague sense of what each year was like, and where I was mentally. It’s encouraging to see a clear progression, and that as the years go by, I develop a more calloused mind.

At this time, I’m wearing a 3-inch bandage on my left index finger, after a nasty injury at the climbing gym. In the beginning of this year, I dropped a 50lb weight on my finger that was resting on a thin edge, and I had immediately crushed the top of the fingertip, fracturing my finger and nearly severed the first joint of my finger. It’s healing  somewhat well now, but the doctor says amputation is still a possibility. Yikes!

I look back and remember how calm I was when it happened. I looked at my finger and saw that it was extremely malformed. The adrenaline had numbed the pain, and as I was gushing blood onto the canvas, I asked my friends to help me to the bathroom to try and stop the bleeding. A worker was helping me out, and I honestly held myself together better than she did! I thanked her for her help, and she thanked me for being calm and easy to work with.

I went to the ER as I did last year for my appendicitis, and I sat there on the bed. “I’m back.” I thought to myself. I waited for the doctor to see me. I didn’t panic and worry about what might come. I watched the doctor try and sew my fingertip back together. As freakish as it might sound, it was entertaining to watch, and I made it a point to enjoy myself because I wasn’t going anywhere.

My friends told me of Tommy Caldwell, a professional climber who had lost the very same finger I had injured, but had gone and climbed some of the most challenging routes in the world. My climbing career has been on hold many months ago due to my appendicitis, and now again because of my finger! Bummer, but it is what it is!

The climbing gym owner called me today to check in to make sure that I was fine. He told me about people in similar incidents who fall into depressive states stemming from similar injuries. I laughed because I knew that I was so far removed from that reality. I took a step back and realized how thick-skinned I had become over the years. I became more aware of my ability to see clear and steer clearly in what could be a terrible situations to others.

Goggins’ book reiterates the point of callousing your mind. In this golden age of safety and access, I notice that myself and many of my peers have lost that sense of what it was like before. This is why I strive to callous my mind. Because of the what ifs. What do you do when things go south? Do you freeze up in panic, or do you make the most logical decision in quick succession? Mike Tyson has this great quote, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

At the end it comes down to a battle for control. People fear the unknown, and this can be extremely debilitating in the extremes.

Cheers to another year of life, blessings, and gratitude. We don’t know what the future holds, but we still press on, in aggressive pursuit for what we believe is right.

Comfort Challenge: Appendicitis

I spent my 24th birthday in the emergency room, because of a terrible stomach ache had kept me up the entire night. I drove myself to urgent care, and the doctor directed me to the emergency room.

As I was laying down in the waiting room, I was thinking about my list of todos. I was tunnel-visioned on the deadlines I needed to meet, and in a rush to get out of the hospital so I could get some rest so I could continue my routines. I remember thinking, “hurry up and tell me it’s food poisoning, give me whatever I need to take so I can get on my way!”

After my computed tomography (CT) scan, I was directed back to my bed to wait. The doctor came by around a half hour later, and put his hand on my stomach and said that I had appendicitis. My appendix was swollen, but hadn’t quite burst yet, which was a good thing in a bad situation. He told me I needed to have surgery, to notify the people I needed to let know, and assured me that the surgery is relatively simple. He and the nurses also mentioned that there is no well-documented reasoning for why we need our appendix, so I wasn’t missing out on much having it removed. There is also no well-known reason for the cause of appendicitis either. This organ is filled with mystery.

I took a deep breath, and accepted the situation at hand. I was surprised that I wasn’t very afraid. I did a quick study on my phone about the surgery, and was convinced that it wasn’t something to make a big deal about.

What struck me more was the recovery time that I would need. No physical activity for 2-3 weeks, and I would barely be able to move in my first week. My exercise routines subsequently stopped, my appointments with friends were halted, my birthday plans cancelled, and I missed out on a trip to Lake Arrowhead! I remember feeling overwhelmed about this missed time. I would also have to reestablish my habits. I felt like I had just begun to develop good habits too, and then appendicitis struck me! I knew it would affect me for more than the 2-3 weeks, because I would need to put in more time and effort into getting back to normal. It felt like my life was being pushed back a month or more, and it made me uneasy.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t dwell on it much. I remember noting in my head two things:

  1. I knew I had no sleep at night, so I told myself that I’m not thinking straight, so be wary of any negative thoughts that might come around.
  2. This is the reality of my current situation, so I need to bite down on the situation, and make it the most fun, learning experience I can. It was an opportunity to learn about my body and it’s healing process.

I joked with the nurses, asking them to save my appendix and put candles on it to celebrate my birthday. They said they appreciated seeing a young person in their hospital who was in good spirits. I felt in good-care, my Mother knew the supervisor of the hospital, and she had set me up with what seemed to be a luxury hospital room. I had a genuinely fun time in the hospital.

Moments before the surgery, one of the nurses asked if I was scared. I answered with an honest “no.” I was smiling as they pushed me into the operating room and reusing my appendix-birthday joke as often as I could to the new faculty members I would see. I was a little nervous about the surgery, but more anxious about my healing process and how soon I could get back to my routines.

The surgery went well, and I’m sitting here a week later, walking at 80% speed, and in good spirits. At the cost of my appendix, I got a few good jokes, a birthday to remember, and a newfound appreciation for health, family, and friends. I’m reminded that the journey to our goals is not one that is linear. It’s filled with pit-stops, and things that may seem like set-backs at some point in time, but these things eventually turn into things that happened that taught us about “x, y and z”. With the correct mindset, we can turn any situation into a learning experience. The stories we tell ourselves about how we interact with the world and vise-versa quite literally shape the entirety of how we think and act. So next time something “bad” happens to you, try to pause and see how that exact situation helped teach you something positive in some obscure way that took you some time to realize. Continue this thought exercise for years, and I’m convinced that that person will be wealthy, fulfilled, happy, and successful.

What a way to start to my 24th year!

2017: The year that set the bar

I spent this morning listening to Terry Crews on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Terry speaks of his hardships, and the lessons he has learned throughout his life. He speaks of the importance of belief, and how that belief literally shapes who you are and how you mold the world around you. It’s one of the most compelling and inspiring podcasts I’ve listened to all year. Give it a listen here! I’ve found this to be true in my world, and as I look back on all the experiences I have had this year, I feel an excitement rushing within me as I prepare to outdo myself and these experiences in the coming year.

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Irvine, CA Amazing view from on top of the Donald Bren Building. 1/12/17

I had finished my 30 day comfort-zone challenge a few weeks ago, and I was still riding the high of chasing after exploring the things that lay outside my comfort zone. I felt more empathetic towards others, and felt I could easily connect with strangers that I met.

I had been involved with Hack-a-thon’s in the past, but never participated fully in one. Fortunately, the HackUCI team was able to put up a great event that allowed me to both participate and volunteer!

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Irvine, CA Getting our code on. 1/14/17

I came into the event with no team, so I had to improvise. I was nervous at first, but after going around and introducing myself to a few others, I decided who I wanted on my team. It was a pre-made team of 3 friends from high-school, I told them about some of the things I worked on, and they agreed to have me on as their last member.

We decided on an Android App, and things got moving very quickly. We used Trello as a tasking system, and worked on creating a Broadcasting Application using Firebase, Android Studio, SF OpenData API, that allowed users to broadcast their locations to others in the area that were willing to meetup. Unfortunately, we overshot the complexity of our app, so we weren’t able to have a fully working version, but we created a mockup of what it might look like to demo to judges. It was a pleasure working with you guys, Calvin, Ho-Ren, and Jerry.

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Irvine, CA Detour Project @ UCI. 1/27/17

A few weeks later, a non-profit I was working with had our first public event! Wanderlosters set up these big boards on UCI’s campus, and we asked students about their goals, and the expected obstacles between them and their goals. The objective was to help students define these goals, and have breakthroughs in how they might achieve them.

I remember being surprised at how exhausting it was to try and approach so many people and form a connection.

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Irvine, CA Practicing my roundhouse kick. 3/3/17

After taking my first Muay Thai class at UCI, I became obsessed with it. Muay Thai become a huge part of my life. I would go to the gym almost every day to practice what I had learned from class. I would videotape myself and try to correct the errors that I could catch. I spent hours watching coaching videos, and would frequently throw elbows and punches while in the shower, trying to perfect my form. My slow & steady improvements was further proof that I could progress in anything as long as I continued to put in the effort. It’s sometimes difficult to see improvements in other aspects of life, but in Muay Thai, I could tell I was getting better every month. After every few weeks, I would notice that I could create a slightly stronger impact while hitting the bag, or kick a little higher than before. It’s still a big part of my life now, and I believe MMA will stay with me for many more years.

 

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Idyllwild, CA Pulled over on the street to snag this awesome picture. 4/8/17

I don’t remember where our original destination was set for. We had planned to go camping, but the road was very poorly paved and we did not want to risk popping the tires on my friend’s car. We rerouted to go elsewhere and stayed the night. On our way back home, we stopped in Idyllwood, and wandered around the streets in the early hours of the morning.

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Irvine, CA Grabbing a nice meal at the Mesa Commons with one of my best friends.

Anthony taught me a lot about the value of honesty. During the school year, I spent most of my time with him. From spending so much time with him, I got to see that he never knowingly took advantage of anyone, and was always honest with others and himself. I judged him as being honest to a fault, but I now strongly believe that his mindset will set him up for an abundance of success in the long-term.

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Irvine, CA Moments before graduation. 6/18/17

5 years led up to this very moment. I regretted not walking with my friends who graduated last year, but then I realized that I had created a new group of friends who were no lesser. I’m eternally thankful for the experiences I had during my short stay at UCI.

I spent the next month studying for interviews, and trying to figure out the “next move.” I never doubted that my success would come, I just did not know what it might look like. My friends Derek and Gary told me they were planning a trip to Europe, and asked if I wanted to come. Surely I would accept, and thus began an incredible journey.

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Lille, France My study sheet for my stay in France. 7/21/17

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Lille, France Walking the streets of Northern France! 7/19/17

We landed in Paris, and within a few hours took a train to Northern France. I was so stoked to be on the other side of the world. There were so many times during this trip where I questioned how in the hell I had wound up here.

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Lille, France Big clocktower building! 7/20/17

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Lille, France 7/20/17

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Lille, France Architecture admiring as a tourist. 7/20/17

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Lille, France We couldn’t find a public restroom anywhere, so we paid 3 euros to get admission to this nearby zoo where we could use the bathroom. Two birds, one stone. 7/20/17

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Vieux Lille, France Old part of Lille. 7/22/17

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Lille, France Cured meats seem to be a staple all across France. 7/19/17

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Lille, France The day of the forbidden cheese- Maroilles Cheese. 7/22/17

This was the day my entire world flipped. For all my years on this world, I believed myself to be a “cheese fan.” My friends and I walked into this restaurant, and asked the owner to give us whatever he recommends. We had heard of this Maroilles cheese before. It was apparently banned from importing to the US because it was too stinky, but I could not find any news that neither confirmed this or denied it. I believe it to be true. It was the most potent and pungent food I had ever eaten. Looking at these pictures now makes me slightly uncomfortable in remembrance of that dark day.

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Paris, France Voilà! I only had a day to spend in Paris, so I made use of all the sunlight I had. 7/24/17

Paris was probably the most underwhelming city during my trip. It was congested with tourists and poverty. Granted, I was only there for a day, so a future visit is in order.

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Vienna, Austria I asked our taxi driver where we should eat, and he directed us to Figlmüller to try their world famous schnitzel. To be honest, all the different schnitzel I had in Austria and Germany didn’t taste much better than the best country-fried steak/chicken I’ve had. 7/25/17

Derek, Gary and I wandered through the streets of Tuchlauben, stopping for all kinds of foods. A philosophy that I developed through conversations with my close friend Shaun was that food is an experience that should not be taken lightly. It would most likely be years before I am ever back in these streets, so it makes sense for me to splurge on all the delicacies I could get my eyes on.

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Vienna, Austria The view from our Airbnb during sunrise. 7/26/17
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En route to Velden am Wörthersee, Austria The hidden gem of Austria! The views from the train ride there were some of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. 7/26/17

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Velden am Wörthersee, Austria The view from our Hotel. I remember questioning how I ended up with this good fortune. 7/27/17

We only decided to take this trip because Derek had won a package to play at a poker tournament here in Velden. Gary and I killed time at the pool, we played ping-pong along the lake, and explored the rest of this gem of a city. On Derek’s downtime, we rented electric bikes and trespassed into private lakes, and caught some great MPHs while going down hills.

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Velden am Wörthersee, Austria More questioning of my good fortune… Rump steak with wild Chanterelle mushrooms after a lucky night in the casino. 7/28/17

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Velden am Wörthersee, Austria My buddy Andreas, who just recently got married! We played ping-ping, talked about our shared interest in MMA. This cool dude is a MMA/poker journalist in Sweden. 7/30/17

Andreas and Rikard were journalists from Sweden who came to cover Derek’s poker tournament. We dined at a lakeside restaurant to which we arrived by speedboat. It was an incredible energy that these two brought that could light up any conversation. We spent our last days lakeside, shown above.

Onto Germany! I used couchsurfing to see if I could stay somewhere for free. After a few denials, I got to speaking with Kathi, who agreed to let me stay with her. I arrived at our designated meeting spot, alone and somewhat nervous about being kidnapped. My friends jokingly(I think) told me that I was walking into a trap.

Thankfully, she arrived and walked me to her beautiful apartment building. We shared beers together, and she told me of her solo-trips to Asia- where she got around mostly by hitchhiking. She had an amazingly powerful and optimistic way of thinking. She told me of a time when she was in Japan, and staying at a stranger’s house on the floor. Cockroaches were buzzing around her, as she was trying to get some rest. Instead of panicking, she told me that she knew she could only make 2 decisions. She could either get up and leave to go elsewhere, or suck it up and sleep. She chose the latter option, and left with a funny story she could share with others like me! She left me a bottle of water every morning, and kept in touch whenever I was out. She deeply inspired and moved me with her spirit of paying-it-forward.

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Munich, Germany This lovely lady let me stay at her place during my entire stay in Munich! She gave me suggestions on places to visit, and told me crazy stories of her own travels. Amazing woman! 8/1/17

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Munich, Germany Who does this? She told me she spent the morning figuring out what I should do while I was still in bed! So grateful for her. 8/1/17

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Munich, Germany Gary and I met these two guys floating along in a river. They took us to our first beergarden, and told us the characteristics of a “real” beergarden. Hint: Chestnut trees. 8/1/17

Munich was my favorite city of the trip. It was mostly due to the interactions I had with the people there, and very little to do with the amazing sights I saw here.

I woke up early morning to make sure that I would catch my flight. I went out to buy souvenirs and came back in time to pack up and catch my flight to Barcelona. I take out the key from my pocket and try to open the keyhole. I hear a crack. I take out the key, and find that the key had slightly cracked when I had tried to open the door. I didn’t have my phone with me, and Kathi had already left for work. I try not to panic and take a seat in the nearby park, trying to assess my options. It wasn’t anything I needed to involve the police in, and at worst, I would just have to catch the next flight. I tried to give the key another try, but it would not unlock.

Eureka! I figure I might as well try to use my brain to get this door open. I picked up a leaf from the ground and rip into a small piece that just might fit into the cracked part of the key. I fit the leaf-key into the lock and try to turn it over. It worked! I got into the gated part of the community, but I needed to get into the house using the same key. I stuffed more of the leaf into the key and tried it again. Surely enough, the door opened, and I had only lost 10 minutes of my time. What a lucky guy I am!

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Barcelona, Spain Rooftop view from my hostel. 8/5/17

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Barcelona, Spain Spent the day walking around the streets and found this while wandering through a part. 8/3/17

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Barcelona, Spain Wandering through the Gothic Quarter. 8/3/17

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Barcelona, Spain Fun times during a bar crawl with 3 friends I met at the hostel.  8/5/17

In Barcelona, I went on a bar crawl with a French model! I also went to both a gay and nude beach with my buddy Jack, who became my closest friend while I was in Barcelona. I can’t believe these things happened as I sit here writing this. How in the world am I going to beat these experiences in 2018?

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Alameda, CA Trip up to NorCal to visit some of my best friends. 8/19/17

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Big Bear Lake, CA Camping with friends! 8/29/17

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Big Bear Lake, CA We woke up early in the morning to go fishing.  8/29/17

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Cerritos, CA On top of a parking lot admiring clouds. 9/11/17

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Huntington Beach, CA I realized I haven’t been to the beach since I’ve been back from Europe, so I went to the beach! 9/22/17

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Anaheim, CA One of my best friends gets married. Congrats Jason! 9/23/17

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Glendale, CA Visiting college friends! 10/29/17

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Internet, Internet Launching my personal project on Google Play Store. 11/3/17

The project I’ve been working on for months was finally launched! I promised myself I would get a working version out on the Play Store before I started work. I’m proud I was able to achieve this, as it was a testament to the progress I’ve been making. All of life I had difficulty seeing things through, and I was glad to achieve this goal. It would set a strong precedent for the future.

Now I’m employed! I’m happy that my co-workers are all easy to work it, and I know I can learn a lot during my time at Boeing. I’m grateful for this opportunity, and will actively take action to make sure I am an important asset to the Boeing family.

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Huntington Beach, CA Joining the workforce as a full-time employee. 11/10/17

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Sunset Beach, CA Visiting the beach after work! 12/18/17

It’s been difficult to find the strength to be proactive after work, but I’m slowly getting there. My work is only one part of my many-layered life, and I will continue pursuing those other parts in the new year.

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Irvine, CA Spent the day with some old friends I haven’t seen in over a year. KBBQ followed by go-kart racing worked out surprisingly well.

This was our first big reunion between our group of friends. We’ve been together through the ups and downs, and I’m glad we can find the time to hang out as old friends.

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Irvine, CA Amazing group of friends. 12/27/17

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Vroom-Vrooming into the New Year with my new toy!

Every year gets better than the last. Higher highs, and higher lows. I don’t expect this to always hold true, but I’ll accept the blessings as they come to me! Cheers to a new year! I look forward to another year filled with wealth in the form of friendships, travel, good food, health, and career goals!

MMA: The sport of Blood, Sweat, Tears, but more importantly, Honor and Respect

It seems I draw a lot of inspiration to write after watching MMA fights. UFC 217 was yesterday, and it was the most action-packed fight card I’ve seen since I started following combat sports 3 years ago. Three championship belts were on the line, and three new champions were crowned. These new champions were all betting underdogs.

At it’s core, MMA is an art that establishes an emphasis on honor and respect. Rose Namajunas(New Champion) mentioned that yesterday. She was a heavy underdog, and came out with a first round KO against a long-time champion in Joanna Jedrzejczyk. TJ Dillashaw(New Champion) and Cody Garbrandt exchanged so many insults with each other, and have a bad personal history. Still, after Dillashaw KO’d his opponent in the 2nd round, he set his personal differences aside and had nice words to say to a person he genuinely does not like. There are very few exceptions, but most fighters show respect to his/her opponent once that finishing bell rings, no matter how they might personally feel about them. At the end of the day, there is no fight without the opponent, and for that reason alone, you should be compelled to respect him/her.

To be successful, whatever that may mean to you, you must honor both yourself and your opponent. Your opponent might come in the form of a midterm, a job, and so on. It’s imperative to respect the challenges of your situation. I feel I get a better understanding of this as I train, and study MMA.

A fight takes two willing contenders to step into a ring or octagon. These fighters are utterly exposed to show what the accumulation of their past lives has brought into the ring. Georges St. Pierre(New Champion) says a fighter needs to consider three things: their physical well-being, emotional well-being, and mental well-being. If one of these things are not up to par relative to your opponent, you may come in with a serious disadvantage.

GSP and Joanna Jedrzejczyk speak of the challenges of being a champion. The difficulty is in keeping the mindset of a challenger. The challenger often has a more insatiable hunger than the champion who overlooks his/her challengers. GSP stopped fighting 4 years ago, telling his fans that the pressure was too much for him to take. He was constantly on edge, realizing that after every challenger he beat, there was another obsessed challenger with different skillsets in line waiting for his turn at the belt.

The end result is a winner and a loser. On rare occasion there is a draw, but these are usually settled with a rematch sometime in the future. In our world filled with participation trophies in so many shapes and forms, it’s a relief to many to see the near-binary decision-making in sports like cage fighting. These men and women put their lives on the line for entertainment, and so much more. For so many, it’s the only thing they have world-class talent in, and the only way they can make a living.

MMA is a sport that showcases the triumphs and the struggles of our human existence. It reminds us of what life was once like, when the distance between life and death wasn’t so falsely separated as it is now in our culture. It reminds us that there are no such things as immortals. No fighter is invincible, no matter how much the media may try to portray a person. It reminds us that sometimes our best is not enough, but the only way to know is to try anyway to be the best versions of ourselves. There is no alternative. We are all equalized in death, and this should remind us to live our lives honestly and virtuously.

 

New Champion (Georges St. Pierre) and Former Champion (Michael Bisping) show mutual-respect to each other after their fight.

Hard Work is the only Option

The solution to my anxiety issues, and the answer to the tangible results I wish for my future. It’s hard work. To me, this means to practice programming every day, to get in consistent workouts throughout the week, and to nurture existing and new relationships. My desire to make something out of what has been given to me gets me up in the morning. I want to work hard, and try to learn something everyday, because I know my time on this Earth is limited.

I have found that when I am without well thought-out goals, my mind drifts from one subject to another, never spending too much time learning the intricacies of any one subject. I would sometimes think about the meaning of life and existence in general, which I am  now convinced is a silly and lazy pursuit. Time is better spent trying to help others using your unique skill-set.

I’ve been tracking my routine’s consistency with a whiteboard on my wall. It’s been 1.5 months since it’s inception, and I’ve noticed an improvement in my ability to work harder and more efficiently in the three main categories listed: Health, Career, Relationships. I am motivated to push myself in all three aspects partly due to the fear of logging my failure on my board. I’d much rather see check marks denoting success, than the dreaded X’s of failure.

In the past, I would not work as diligently as I do now because I was afraid that there might be a better, more efficient way to deal with a given problem. Instead of beginning to tackle a problem, I would trick myself into inaction for months on end. My quest to optimize myself into a perfect-being consumed me, and instead of making small steps toward progression, I was at an indefinite halt in many areas of my life. I often catch the mental chatter going on in my head now when in the process of decision-making. I notice usually two choices: the lazy answer which relates to instant gratification or a better long-term answer. I’m working on taking on the latter more often.

I don’t regret a single thing about my past either, it shaped me into who I am now. I take note of my past experiences, realize my current situation, and move forward given the opportunities that are available to me. My perception of the world controls the opportunities that I see, so it is in my best interest to nurture that perception through forms of good health, long-term career choices, and fruitful relationships.

Pound for Pound best MMA fighter in the world, arguable greatest of all time beat Anderson Silva’s record for most title defenses (11) tonight at UFC 216: Las Vegas making UFC history. 

 

The Grind

Social media allows for us to share our life’s experiences with others. While there is nothing wrong with showcasing these “defining moments” of our lives on Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms, we should all realize that these snippets are only windows into our lives. We don’t get to see the whole picture, only what the user decides he/she will show.

We often don’t think about or understand the process it took for those pictures to make their way onto our screens. A perfect example would be a video of a large set of dominos falling down. We see the end result, but have very little idea as to how long of a process the set-up took unless we’ve done a similar task.

I refer to these sorts of “setups” as “the grind.” “The grind” involves how you spend your time when you are tired. Do you hang the gloves and call it quits, or do you push on for another round? What about after that round? How do you react in the face of adversity? I think we should never cheat ourselves, and we should constantly be looking to press our limits so that we can grow. (Extreme Example: David Goggins)

Personally, a good example would be during a workout. For me, the biggest challenge I get is when I am trying to do as many push-ups as possible. I’ll get to around the 65-70rep mark, and I notice my mind telling me to quit. “You’re tired Paul, stop!” The voice appears every time. If I ignore this thought,  I noticed that I can consistently push out another ~10 reps. I realized that the only way I could know my limit is to continue on past the doubt until my arms are physically incapable of holding my body up. I don’t stop until my chin hits the floor. This has been my routine. I just need to apply this mindset to other areas of my life now!

With practice and repetition, we can slowly but surely chisel our minds and our bodies into the best versions of ourselves. The grind might include blood, sweat, and tears, but these are necessary. The end result is a thing of beauty.

 

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Embrace the grind 🙂

 

 

Tradeoffs

To be master of one, or jack of all trades? This has been the question I’ve been trying to answer to since the beginning of my undergraduate experience. There are a multitude of things to consider when trying to formulate a response to this question. I look into my past, and try to call upon experiences of timelines where I find myself losing sleep over one or a few important ideas. The first instance of this was during my early middle-school days, where I would skip meals to develop games of my own. That one idea would shift as I grew older- from person-to-person, into a career path. It has always been progress, and I am always at the height of this ever-present progress.

There are very few instances where I am lost in one thing over a long period of time. For many reasons, I have a strong tendency to dip my feet into something and quickly lose interest. I’ve made note of this, and made adjustments to combat this mostly through means of meditation and harvesting ideas from the mentors that I have access to both in-person, and online.

Something I have recently noted is the immense amount of courage it takes to try and develop a small handful of skills and interests in a world full of distraction and a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities.

I’ve been meaning to strongly give definition to these things, but I am currently still in the works of figuring out how many things I can tackle on at a given time. I think this is perfectly good, as I am still in the formative years of my life. I believe I should be exposing myself to as many things I can, so I can decide which of these things I wish to spend the rest of my life with. This list is extremely preliminary, and will be made finer as I develop a stronger understanding of my increasing skillset and interests, but it is my attempt to iron out some constants I wish to see in my future.

  1. Software Engineering. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs with this all-encompassing field of study. I began with this major because many told me it was a “logical” choice, but I have recently developed a higher interest in mastering my skills as a developer. I notice a direct relation between understanding software at a higher level and making logical decisions in my life.
  2. Relationships. I’ve struggled to open up to my peers at an emotional level. I’ve struggled with being the person I think people will accept versus who I really am. Granted, we are all not always the same versions of ourselves, I have since made it a point to be more honest with myself and others. I often dwell on this short, but effective quote by Napoleon Hill that helps me to be the best version of myself. “Ask yourself, Am I the kind of person I would like to have as a friend?” 
  3. Martial Arts. The most recent interest of mine. I’ve been a fan of the UFC for a few years now, and made the choice to take on formal instruction 2 months ago. I have noticed increase in confidence and much-needed humility from Muay Thai. I will continue to pursue Muay Thai and another form of ground fighting martial arts (BJJ) to mesh together a practical combination of self-defense techniques.
  4. Writing/Reading. To give myself the freedom and clarity of expressing emotion through words. To develop my vocabulary so that I don’t fall victim to a swelling discomfort that stems from the inability to express emotions through words. I believe there being a practicality to being able to speak well, so I will look to the skills I develop from reading/writing to translate into my skills as a conversationalist.

A cold shower made me write this

I woke up this morning and immediately dreaded the day ahead of me. I had logged a mere 4 hours of work in the last couple of weeks. I was scared to show my face at work. Granted, I was on break, but today is Thursday, and I still hadn’t stepped foot in work. My boss is Judith Olson, a mentor to Larry Page, co-founder at Google- so I want to make a good impression. He praises her by saying her class was the one that had the most impact on him as a student. I had boarded the train of procrastination, that would cause me unnecessary stress for an extended period of time. I told myself that perhaps I would come in next week, or log my hours over the weekend. Then I remembered I had signed up for a hackathon, which is a 3-day long event over the weekend, so this was not possible.

To my credit, I am glad that I was able to muster up the willpower to get through my morning meditation. After, I lay in bed for half an hour, worrying about all that could go wrong today. It seemed like today had all the signs of a bad day, but I knew that as soon as I acknowledged this, it would most likely be one. In an attempt to stop the negative chatter, I hastened my way into my bathroom. I turned on a nice tune, and immersed myself in the form of a cold shower. New mind chatter: “Fuck fuck fuck. Cold cold cold. LET’S GO! Today is going to be great fucking day!” I present to you the magic of an icy cold shower that has the potential to jolt you with positivity.

I thought about how much that cold shower lifted my spirits. I raced out the shower and spent time cooking a hearty meal that would  help kickstart my day in addition to the cold shower.

I made my way to work after class. I should have been unemployed a month and a half ago, but I was successful in asking for an employment extension, so that I could finish up the work I set out to do. In hindsight, I can give thanks to my effort to ask for an extension, otherwise I would have had no income for quite some time. Well done, Paul. After a good 3 hours of work, I asked to speak with Judy. In my head, I came up with an elaborate speech that would explain my few hours of work. “I was sick, on vacation, blah blah blah.” When I saw her I came to my senses and decided I wouldn’t give her any excuses. No one likes to hear excuses. People also tend to emphasize problems without providing any solutions. This is not ideal.

My employment contract was set to end next week(problem), so I told her I would do everything in my power to finish what I had set out to do. If not, I was going to tell her I would work for free until my job was done (my solution).

She cut me off, laughed and told me not to worry about it. Judy told me I should try and finish my work, but that I could take a couple more weeks if I had to(Judy’s solution). She was so nonchalant about the whole thing and suggested I take extra time. This was something I’ve been worrying about often, for many weeks. I was afraid something bad would happen, and this was due to poor planning. It was a silly fear that dissipated in less than a minute of conversation. It was a moment of weakness that caused my procrastination to create a month of unwanted stress(problem). It wasn’t too much stress, but it definitely occupied an unnecessary amount of headspace.

We often suffer more in imagination, than in reality 

-Seneca

I had been working with her and her husband for over a year, and I had already got much work done. In the past, I spent time with them at their home, they took me out for champagne on a boat, and treated me to fine-dining. It was foolish for me to have the fears I had. This was a mistake that cost me a bit of stress, but something I can learn from. I could have relinquished these fears with an earlier e-mail, or simply put in more work hours.

Procrastination tends to have these sorts of snowball effects. What may initially start as a small issue, might grow exponentially over time. It is in our best interest to handle these things as they come to the best of our ability. To do otherwise would be masochistic.

To fix my issue of procrastination, I’ve turned to using multiple scheduling tools. Recently, a friend of mine recommended Wunderlist, which allows for you to set due dates and reminders with an extremely minimalistic and simplified interface. I have down all the due dates of my projects, midterm and final dates, among other things on Wunderlist. I also use Momentum to list the one big task I wish to accomplish every day, on top of writing it down in my physical notebook. It also offers  a breathtaking view every time I open up a new tab.

It’s the first week of school, and it is good to be reminded again on the importance of timing and preparedness. Let us learn from our mistakes of the past and move forward methodologically. Let us set clear well-defined goals, so that we are not misguided. Let us switch angles in a timely manner, when change is necessary. Let us understand the things we can change, and understand the things outside of our control. Let us not stress about those things outside of our control.

“What gets measured gets managed”

Peter Drucker

Bad Guys

We rarely ever think of ourselves as the “bad guys.” It’s quite easy for us to find the fault in others, and often difficult to paint ourselves with a negative mark. This is where the saying, “ignorance is bliss” may hold true. Some have never even thought that they could be the culprits they themselves so harshly judge. I am here to tell you that you are a bad person (we all are), but not all the time! 🙂

There are many dangers associated with negative introspection. The obvious problem is that we may find ourselves focusing on only the negatives, and fail to realize that our imperfection is our way of life. We are all walking contradictions, and it is our duty to accept our weaknesses and focus on our strengths. It can be the cause of depression and suicidal thoughts, but we must accept that we make mistakes because we are human. This is great. We can learn from them!

The awareness factor is key as it all ties into the Law of Attraction that I wrote about in my previous post. Your reality is a byproduct of your thoughts. Let’s fight our human-nature of focusing on the negatives and focus on positive things. Try practicing gratitude every morning and/or night by wishing happiness for 3 people in your mind.

This is what I believe to be the issue with those who desire a constant stream of happiness. It is a paradoxical way of thinking. Happiness does not exist without sadness. It takes courage to expose oneself to things that may bring great sorrow or ecstatic happiness. The difficulty comes from relishing in these moments of happiness and sorrow. This means to be present and to let out the emotions as they come and not bottle them up for a disaster in the future.

 

“The word happiness would lose meaning if it were not balanced by sadness” 

-Carl Jung

 

Law of Attraction

It was one of the first recurring themes I learned about during the start of my personal development journey nearly two years ago. It was a concept I could understand, but had difficulty understanding it’s presence in my life.

All that has been cleared now, as I have found the more I focused on the things I cared about, the more I found amazing people appear before me.

Without looking up any definitions, I’ll state what I believe to be the Law of Attraction that you may hear about from famous philosophers or writers. I think it is difficult to understand these things when under the context of nebulous terms such as “energy” or “spirit.” I favor simplicity, and like Scott Adams, I believe the best writing is one that is easy to understand and without clutter.

The LoA is a thing that governs all of our actions. It begins with the thought that is placed into our heads. Now thoughts come and go as they please, and other thoughts either nudge us to act on a thought, or to dismiss it until it is gone or comes again. These thoughts that make it through our first line of defense, begin to form into new things called habits. These habits begin to manifest into our lives, and form the basis of what we call reality. I don’t claim this to be my own idea, I know I’ve come upon this sort of definition in some sort of philosophical medium in the past.

With this knowledge, we have developed a heightened sense of awareness. We know that our thoughts govern our realities. The next logical step is to nurture our thoughts so that we pump out higher quality realities. Tony Robbins talks about the importance of priming your state so that you are in peak mental condition to form good thoughts. B.J. Novak considers being in a good mood is the most important part of his creative process. The example of avoiding buying groceries when hungry comes to mind. You are in a lesser state when hungry and sleepy, so you should aim to heighten your state before making decisions.