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.

My 2016 in review

I sat in my bathtub today reflecting on all the things that happened this year. I was born on February 16, 1994. 2/16/94 and the year 2016? It would be no coincidence that this year would be especially special.

I began my year with a trip to Lake Tahoe with a good group of close friends. We spent our days at a cozy cabin doing snow activities during the day and going out to SnowGlobe at night (rave in the snow!).

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Lake Tahoe, CA. Our cabin! 1/1/16

The next couple of days were spent in the spirit of recovery after a grueling 9 hour drive trip and the accumulation of all the rigorous dancing that had taken place during the nights.

The winter quarter had begun to start, but I was taking this quarter off to go work abroad in Argentina! I had 2 weeks before my trip began, so I spent a week with my roommates and said my farewells to my best buds. I was able to catch my closest friends flaunt their talents in a men’s pageant!

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Irvine, CA. DEM: Gods of Medicine Men’s pageant. 1/11/16

My friends were kind enough to throw me a goodbye dinner! Thanks for buying me dinner My. I would miss them for 2 months, but I found solace in knowing I would see them soon.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I spent my time with my high school friends, I picked up a lost pit-bull puppy on the street, and did some last minute preparation for my first time out of the country in over a decade.

My parents and I arrived at LAX and we said our goodbyes. I was feeling confident and excited for the next 2 months ahead of me. The flight itself was quite rocky with turbulence, and I only had about an hour of shut-eye during the 8 hour flight. I had a whole row to myself which I enjoyed, but I was generally uncomfortable because it had been so long since I last flew. We landed in Lima where I had to wait 6 hours before catching my final plane to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After numerous failed attempts to ask for the WiFi in Spanish(I took 4 years in high-school…), a kind stranger translated for me and we spent some time chatting. She was a resident of Peru, and was headed to LAX where she had a job on a cruise ship. I thanked her for her help and tried to get a couple minutes of sleep before I left the land of the Inca.

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Lima, Peru. Alpaca or Llama? 1/23/16

I boarded my 2nd plane which I mistakenly expected to be the same, but it was a lot more cramped than the previous plane. I was scrunched up in the middle of a family, so I asked if I could be moved. I like my private space. Luckily the plane wasn’t full and they directed me towards the back, where I had another row to myself. Jackpot!

I landed in Buenos Aires around 2PM their time. I remember walking out of the airport and thinking: “Wow it’s humid. This is where I’ll be for the next chapter of my life. My parents, relatives, and friends helped fund my trip so I owe it to them to make the most of this experience.” It was about a 20 minute drive to the residence I would stay at, and it was clear my driver did not want to talk with me. I was spending most of my time gazing out the window in amazement anyway, there was a soccer ball for every patch of grass outside.

Omead was the first one in the Sage Corps group that I would meet. He had arrived a couple of hours earlier, and was drenched in sweat when I first met him. He spent his first few hours running around trying to familiarize himself with the area- I thought that was admirable. I took a quick nap and met two other members of our program: Dylan and Adi. I found reassurance in knowing these were the people I would spend my next 2 months with. The four of us went out for dinner at a terrible pizza restaurant and enjoyed good conversation.

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Plaza Italia, Buenos Aires. The boys of the residencia + Sierra. Missing Charlotte and Olivia. 1/31/16

My winter abroad opened my eyes to see the diversity that existed outside my California comfort zone. I got to experience what it was like to work full-time at a startup.

Our startup, Technorides, was run like a family business. All work would promptly halt at 1PM and everyone would sit and eat together like one big happy family. It was difficult to get accustomed to at first due to the cultural differences and the language barrier, but I felt like one of their own after a couple of days. Unlike everyone else from the Sage Corps team, Adi and I were lucky enough to work for the same company. Our co-workers took us out to dinner in Puerto Madero, a waterfront neighborhood that hosts some of the finest restaurants.

The restaurant we went to was special because it turned into a club after dinner hours were over. Waiters and waitresses would come and move the tables away as they blew fog into the restaurant. A disco ball would emerge from the ceiling and the upbeat music began to complement the flashing lights that followed.

On the first of February, a co-worker invited Adi and I to bring friends to a drum show. La Bomba del Tiempo played at the Konex theater every week, and it was always a filled out crowd.

The boys and I wanted to do something special for Carnival. The city of Gualeguaychú was notorious for it’s 24 hr/day party scene during the 4 or 5 days of Carnival. We took a long bus-ride to the city, but the beaches were a 30 minute drive away. Loads of people were waiting at the bus station trying to find a taxi, but we decided we would find an alternate mode of transportation.

Against everything our mother’s would have told us, we hopped into the back of shoddy pick-up truck and paid the driver a couple of bucks to take us to the beach. Vamos!

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Gualeguaychu, Buenos Aires. En route to the playa! (Spanish for “beach”) 2/10/16

There were a couple of campsites set out for people to stay overnight with already pitched tents, so we decided to try our luck and stay there. We dropped off our things and made our way to the beach.

It was an amazing experience. The beaches were filled to the brim with people and we made our way to the water. I tried my luck with talking to a couple of Argentine beauties. They were laughing at my broken Spanish and tried to teach me the lyrics to a song that seemed to be on repeat. I don’t remember a single word. My buddies joined us and we enjoyed our time in the muddy waters.

The rest of February was packed! I did a graffiti tour with friends, visited El Ateno (Theater turned into a bookstore), my co-workers surprised me for my birthday, first time I did karaoke, saw a professional tango show at a theater, did a boat tour in the Tigre River (most contaminated river in the world!), and saw my first ever Polo game and horse race.

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Palermo, Buenos Aires. Graffiti Tour.   2/13/16

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Calle Rivadavia, Buenos Aires. Random church on the way to work. 2/20/16

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Reconquista, Buenos Aires. Streets outside my workplace. 2/24/16

 

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Rio Tigre, Buenos Aires. Most contaminated river in the world! 2/21/1

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Reconquista, Buenos Aires. Sunset outside worksplace. 3/2/16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In March, I booked a flight to Iguazu Falls, a national park with a stunning view of waterfalls. Before we left, we decided we would stop by Casa Rosada (Argentina’s Presidential Office).

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Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires. Courtyard 3/3/16

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Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires. 3/3/16

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Iguazu Falls, Misiones. Airborn. 3/4/16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Iguazu group checked into the hotel and planned out our trip. We had the option of seeing the falls from both the Argentine and Brazilian side, but we opted to see it from only Argentina’s side. We managed to cross the border to Brazil during our boat tour as well. Getting to the top of the falls was not as draining as I expected. It was a short hike plus a small train ride.

It is often difficult to try to describe the majesty of nature in words. Our group, which I will now refer to as “El Equipo” (Spanish for “the team”), slowly made our way to the main site for viewing the falls. We were crossing bridges where water roared from under. Finally, we got to the main spot.

The thunderous crashing of the millions of gallons of water flowing beneath was an amazing sight to behold and feel. Mist clouds were shot up into the sky due to the strength of the crashing water. I was reduced to feelings of awe and stood gazing into the wonders of the natural beauty before me.

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Iguazu Falls, Misiones. Wow. 3/5/16

“Fuck safety!” That must be what our boat tour guides were thinking when they brought us into the water. About 20 tourists fit into the small motor boats they had in store for us. We were told there was a pleasant surprise towards the end of the boat tour, but were not quite sure what to expected. Our captain steered like a maniac. Think James Bond stealing a speedboat and trying to get away from his enemies. He zig-zagged around rocks and the boat was nearly tipped over because of the angles from which he was moving. I remember thinking this would not be legal back at home because of safety reasons, but it was all the more reason to enjoy the moment. I just hoped I would live to tell my story.

 

We finally arrived at the bottom of the falls. It wasn’t the bottom from the picture above, but it was still a sight to behold. The crazed captain steered near to the bottom of the falls where the water began to crash and swerved out. He told us to snap a couple of pictures and we would head on back. It was very cool to see the falls from the bottom-up. As he slowly drifted back towards the direction in which we came, he turned 180 degrees and went full speed towards the bottom of the waterfall. “That’s it, goodbye world,” I thought. I braced for impact as I saw we would crash into a rock ahead of us. The crazy captain swerved again, but we found ourselves stuck on top of a rock, and the water from atop was crashing down on everyone’s heads. I couldn’t see for a couple of seconds due to the torrent from the waterfall. I could see that we had gone through where the water was falling and into the area behind it. I heard the boat’s engine struggling to free us from the rocks beneath us as we slowly reversed. I was still in one piece.

The crazy bastard laughed and enjoyed his moment. He turned the boat around and then turned it around again. He fooled us a second time!

It was an amazing thrill and I’m grateful to the crazy captain for the experience.

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Iguazu Falls, Misiones. The boys of El Equipo pre-soak. We went straight into the waterfalls seen behind El Equipo. 3/5/16

We spent the rest of the day with a new friend who shared the same room in our hostel. Mariana spoke English, and was on her way to becoming an anesthesiologist! She spoke to me about the wisdom she accumulated in her 26-27 years of living (forgive me if I’m wrong!) and joined El Equipo for dinner. Mariana and I connected through our shared sense of unusual humor. I began to call her “mama” for the remainder of our time together. I admired that she took her only 2 weeks of vacation all year on a solo trip to Iguazu.

After exploring the falls, we wanted to see what else Iguazu had to offer. We took a bus into the city to explore our options and decided on a bike tour.

Thought: I can’t believe how great of a time these months were. My time thus far in Argentina have been filled with so many adventures and interesting people.

Back to the bike tour. Our guide was extremely personable and had an extensive knowledge of the area. He spoke to us about the plants and fungi that grew in the forest around us. After the first initial minutes of biking around the city, we found ourselves in the heart of the forest, where he would tell us about the history, animals we may come across, and the indigenous Guarani people that we would soon interact with.

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Iguazu, Misiones. Armory for a Guarani tribe. There were traps for small mammals like foxes, and spears to the right of the picture. 3/6/16

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Iguazu, Misiones. This clay building is used in religious ceremonies. 3/6/16

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Iguazu, Misiones. A nice vista during the bike tour. 3/6/16

I did not expect the bike tour to be so entertaining! It was extremely difficult to bike uphill, but it was a great exercise. We were able to interact with the indigenous Guarani- who sang us a song, and saw some amazing sights. We kindly tipped our guide, and he joined us for a couple of beers in our hotel. These people are so awesome!

At night, we decided to go back into the city in hopes to find people almost as cool as Mariana and our bike guide. We enjoyed pizza and beer with an Isreali army commander, his girlfriend, and their Argentine friend. He had amazing stories to tell, and answered any questions I asked him. Our trip to Iguazu was spectacular!

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Buenos Aires, Argentina. A Sage Corps meeting taken when I was at home sick. A great group! 3/11/16

My days in Buenos Aires were counting down. In the next few days, my startup took Adi and I out for drinks, and El Equipo went to a Cirque de Soleil show. I had a heart-to-heart with the CEO of my company, and he gave me some advice about my direction in life.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina. Some Irish Pub with my co-workers. I miss you guys! 3/12/16

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Buenos Aires, Argentina. Outside Casa Rosada. The last picture I took in Argentina from my way home from work. 3/17/16

I told my parents I would come a day later than I was. I messaged my older brother to have some sort of fail-safe in case my parents got too anxious. One of my best friends, Daniel- who shares the same name as my brother, picked me up from LAX and drove me back home. I’ll never forget how my dog completely disregarded me and went straight to pounce on my friend instead of his owner. My mom heard me greet her in Korean and initially thought I was my brother’s friend. She took a second glance and screamed in excitement. I love playing jokes on my parents like that. I get my trickster spirit from my dad, who pranks my mother all the time. My parents embraced me gave me a warm welcome. It was good to be home.

I had a weekend to settle in before school started. Most of El Equipo was still in Argentina and were en route to Patagonia, where they would see more of nature’s beauty. I envied them, but I was happy to be home and to see familiar faces.

For one of the classes I enrolled in, we had the option to create a mobile app or writing. Naturally, I wanted to showcase the skills I had learned in Argentina working as an Android Developer, so I chose to do the former. School was back in session, and I made it a point to excel after a long break away.

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Irvine, CA. Clarity App I made that won the Chapman University’s Annual Autism AppJam User’s Choice Award. We were one of 5 teams out of 30 to be awarded. 4/22/16

During this time, I was working 10 hours as an undergrad researcher in UCI’s Donald Bren Hall while juggling school-work. I felt I had attained the skills necessary during my jam-packed time in Argentina, so I was comfortable with juggling work and school.

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Irvine, CA. Random bug testing picture for work at my office. 4/22/16

I had a good routine going on for my Spring quarter. I was doing well in classes, balancing work life, and had been exercising regularly.

Things were going great, but I’d be remiss to not acknowledge a big hurdle of my Spring quarter. I went through a difficult breakup situation, but I am able to see now how it has shaped me into a better man. I had good friends who stuck by me during my time of struggle, but my attitude began to affect my friendships.

It took me some time to repair these relationships with those who were caught in the crossfire of my angry rampage following the breakup. In the end, it was all a learning process, and I am grateful to be in the current situation I am in!

Finals were over, and I was able to score a full-time job at the research lab. My professors took us out on food outings, boat rides, and an invitation to their house when my mentor finished his PhD program.

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Newport Beach, CA. My future place of residence. 8/8/16

I was working 6 hours a day, and as long as I was working my required 30 hours a week, I could take as many days off as I wanted. Working from home was also an option! At one point, I was at Crystal Cove beach every day of the week, and camped in Sequoia for a weekend.

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Sequoia National Park, CA. Nature is the best escape. 8/12/16

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Irvine, CA. Sunny day from the top of my workplace. 8/19/16

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Crystal Cove Beach, Laguna Beach, CA. My own private beach. 8/26/16

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Crystal Cove Beach, Laguna Beach, CA. The loot from spearfishing. We brought the fish back home and ate it. #catchandcook 8/26/16

I decided I wanted to experience newer things before school would start again. The summer had already been productive, but I knew I could do more. I decided I would embrace my American roots and take up arms. Another close friend of mine and I went to a shooting range to test out our skills. Target practice!

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Stanton, CA. FT3 Tactical Shooting range. Derek and I had a competition to see who had better aim. I won as I usually do in competition with him. 9/9/16

Next up was the Mt. Baldy Hike. This was the most difficult hike I’ve ever done in my life! It took us a whopping 8 hours to complete the whole thing! I was the first in my group to reach the top!

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Mount Baldy, CA. The view from up top. 9/10/16

With the Fall quarter approaching, I decided I would pick up another job with Swoopin. I felt I could handle the workload, but I would later find that it would be quite the challenge!

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Corona Del Mar, CA. Sunset 9/15/16

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Fullerton, CA. More sunsets. 9/20/16

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Laguna Hills, CA. Professor’s house in celebration of my mentor’s finished PhD! 10/1/16

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Irvine, CA. Sunset. 10/13/16

It was around November when I realized how great the year has been. I had began making stronger relationships with amazing individuals much like the people I met in Argentina. My new roommates, strangers that I would meet at Starbucks, and old acquaintances that I would become very close with. The school quarter was difficult because of the 2 jobs I took on, as well as the 30-day comfort zone challenge I decided I would do.

At the end of the quarter, I prevailed. I found success in the comfort challenge, and did well enough in my classes. I spent the past few weeks working on this blog, reading more than I’ve ever done, and designing my life the way I want it to be.

Parting words

In the end, 2016 was the year I began chasing the things worth fighting for. I shed off the metaphorical exoskeleton of my past and metamorphosed into a stronger human being. It was the year I took great strides in deciding how I want to live my life. It was the year I grew the most, and I foresee amazing things to happen in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Paul Joon An

 

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Irvine, CA. Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017! 12/8/16

 

 

Merry Christmas

I’m beginning to make the transition from keeping this blog extremely private and turning into something more available to the public. With this new direction in mind, I will put more of an emphasis on revision and quality.

I’ve been using my site as an outlet to express the current headspace I inhabit during my time of writing. I’ve already begun asking my peers to navigate through the page in hopes to get criticism, but I am worried about how this may impact my writings. In the past, I have freely written in solace knowing that I was appealing to an audience of one, but this is no longer the case.

I’ll take note of this now with the hopes that upon re-reading this post in the future, I will find no compromise has happened. If the alternative is to be true, I should use this post as a way to ground myself and reestablish the integrity of my compositions. Now onto the meaty bits.

I began this morning on YouTube, scrolling through a list of recommended videos their algorithm had in place for me. I stumbled upon a reporter satirically bashing on the “Safe Space” idea of Social Justice Warriors. I’ve had a rather stigmatic view on these so-called “warriors,” but I was intrigued to see what their rationalizations might be.

The reporter, Mark Dice, moves to emphasize how the idea of a “safe space” is laughable by noting that the people who get offended by racist jokes don’t know how to have fun. One SJW he interviews mentions that she believes it is okay to allow a consenting father and daughter to engage in sexual activities in her notion of a “safe space.”

I think the basis behind the “social justice warrior” way of thinking is one that is genuine and of kind regard for human beings. However, I also believe that those who get easily offended by crude jokes are generally weak-minded and that those who welcome incest derive from defective morality. I believe the majority of them to occupy the pessimistic philosophy I call the “victim mentality.” This is no good.

As one interviewee points out, context is important when making what could be sexist or racist jokes. At a comedy event, many people may find these things enjoyable. Perhaps a stranger on the street would not appreciate the same jokes.

Having said that, I think people are far too easily offended especially in the US. This may be a direct consequence of our “participation trophy epidemic.” We are raised up believing that everything we do is respected work, and that we are all highly-deserving and capable human beings. While the latter holds true, the former is but a respite in a dog-eat-dog world. Children who grow up with this sort of unnatural protection will have difficulty dealing with the unexpected. In the face of adversity, they will not have the skill-set required to pivot and adjust. They will do anything but thrive in a world where competition is high and greed and power prevail. They will find there are no 2nd or 3rd place trophies in many pursuits of life.

Like the late philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, I wish turmoil and chaos upon those that I care about most! I hope you all dabble in hardships and emerge like a rose that grew from concrete!

 

We learn from our errors. It is human nature to focus on the mistakes we make, and it is quite difficult to focus on our achievements- though this is equally important. I spent 15 minutes today trying to focus on my most memorable memories as a kid until now. I noted that the majority of my memories were ones where either I or someone else had made a mistake- and what I learned from them.

The earliest instance of this was in preschool, when Soo-bin (I hope you’re fine now buddy) wet himself in class. I can put it into words now, so I can reminisce at the powerful embarrassment that overcame him due to the constraint of societal standards that a 5 -year-old should have adhered to. The first rule I learned: one should not wet himself in class for fear of embarrassment and laughter from peers. This was etched into my brain and I’m glad to say I have not succumbed to the same fate Soo-bin had so many years ago.

 

 

Eureka!

I spent the last 20 minutes skimming through most of my blog posts on this site. I’ll write on my reflection having read my previous posts.

The underlying problem I that comes up relates with my incessant self-doubt and monkey mind chatter that discourages progress. Not to worry though, I am optimistic that my daily routines will steadily improve upon this situation.

I’ve been reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss for a couple of days now and ingesting media from entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk. Upon reading the section regarding wealth in Tim’s book, I stumbled upon the importance of playing the “long game.” It is as it sounds: to stop revolving life around immediate and short-term gains and to anticipate the long-term investment. Gary reiterates when he tells young professionals that he thinks their biggest problem is expecting huge returns in small amounts of time.

The parallels between what Tim and Gary had mentioned allow for me to look at my life with gained perspective. Put simply, I realize now that I have had difficulty playing the long-game. Perhaps due to my youthful immaturity, I was incapable of  drawing out how I would reach my long-term goals. My whole life had been revolving around an abundance of small, short-term gains and a negligible amount of things that I cared for in the long-term. I had been wanting instant gratification and mastery over things. These yearnings led to a depression because they were nearly impossible to obtain with the knowledge I had at the time.

Voila, Eureka!

The recurring lesson that has been pounded into my head over my break is this: the value of persistence and hard-work. I’ve been reminded of these important values through means of conversation and reading material. I am confident in my ability to use this knowledge to make abundant and small strides towards my inevitable long-term growth!

Fuel

I’ve been thinking deeply about the current distractions I have in my life. These next 3 weeks will be the longest period of “free-time” that I will have in months. It’s the perfect time period for me to reevaluate the things that matter to me most. Now is the time.

“Why X?” This is the question I’ve been asking myself before I start any task. “Why am I watching netflix?” “Why am I playing the drums?” Perhaps this is the most important question one can ask himself/herself. The answer that frequents my mind is this: “because I fear failure.” This has been a recurring theme in my life. I have found that I am doing many things because I wish the pass the time and ignore the things that are important but also scare me the most. It’s the fear of failure that we all hear so much about. By pushing down things further down the queue of things that need to get done, I can briefly rejoice in short-term satisfaction but face worse consequences in the future. This is not ideal.

I tell myself I am lucky to have been born in the US. To be born in a loving family where I never have to worry about food or shelter. I won the genetic lottery simply by being born human. Why is it not enough? Why can’t I just be content with all that I have and really chill out?

I attribute my excessive introspective tendencies in part due to my past experiments with psychedelics. They have helped me gain newfound perspective in life. The experiences propelled me down this rabbit hole and have instilled within me an insatiable hunger for answers. Some people are content after the first few iterations of asking “why?,” but my threshold continues to grow. It’s a double-edged sword and I haven’t quite figured out how to wield it correctly.

It’s an inherent need for control that we as humans so desperately desire. I need to quell that need through means of mindfulness practices, meditation, routines, and other ways to control the monkey mind. I need to come to terms with the realization that life is chaotic in nature. I can never control everything. I am not and will never be perfect, but that is not to say I cannot achieve mastery in multiple fields of my choosing.

Let’s throw in a little order into the chaos that is life.

It’s time to refuel!

30 Day Challenge

Key Points:

  • “A Comfort Zone Challenge is a planned action to face a fear with the primary goal of overcoming this fear or increasing your courage and confidence. This action includes a calculated risk of negative social evaluation but does not expose you to real danger or long-term negative consequences.”
  • Planned action: don’t run around like a headless chicken trying to make a challenge out of everything.
  • Primary goal: differentiate challenges from just random acts, real-life situations, and pranks.
  • Avoid real danger and long-term negative consequences: don’t mess with the wrong people and avoid places you frequent

The above key points are from http://www.comfortzonecrusher.com

Introduction

Public speaking is the number one fear for most people in the US. We often think about and fear this more than death. Most people in their early adulthood don’t give much thought into their own mortality. Instead, we misalign our fears into things like rejection and embarrassment. My desire to fix this sort of misalignment was the basis for starting my comfort challenge. To step outside the safety of my comforts and to increase the range of quality experiences. It was a necessary step for me to take to increase the quality of my life.

It’s important to note that fear will always exist, but it is to our benefit to face them so that we may challenge ourselves to grow. In hindsight, doing this challenge was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Rejection & Embarrassment

Being sure to maintain eye contact, ask for the phone numbers of at least two (the more you attempt, the less stressful it will be) attractive members of the opposite sex for three days. Girls, this means you’re in the game as well, and it doesn’t matter if you’re 50+. Remember that the real goal is not to get numbers, but to get over the fear of asking, so the outcome is unimportant.

-Tim Ferriss on getting over rejection

During my 4 years in college, I’ve made friends mostly through the following means: mutual friends, classes, or from the dorms. While this is usually the case for most people, this meant that I was missing out on potential relationships with a vast majority of interesting people that I routinely passed by.

The idea of approaching a stranger and trying to strike up conversation terrified me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from strangers. What if he/she says something mean? Then I thought, “I probably would not see him/her again, so why am I making such a big deal out of it?” I began to think logically, and I realized that I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. This first step into getting over my fear of rejection and embarrassment would allow me to unlock greater potential for the future.

The first time I approached a stranger of the opposite sex was admittedly nerve-wracking. It’s interesting to note how simple I think the approach would have been with her male counterpart. I took on Tim Ferriss’ challenge in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” and approached Michelle- an attractive undergrad and aspiring healthcare professional. My anxious tendencies diffused a substantial amount after we shared a couple words. She complimented my bravery and we shared a good laugh about the difficulties of approaching strangers. She gave me her number and we went our separate ways. It was a success.

Disclaimer: I walked around campus for nearly an hour before I put on my big boy pants and approached her.

Towards the end of the challenge, I’ve learned the importance of not caring. Who cares if strangers judge or say mean things? Chances are that I will never see them again. It could also just be that they are having a bad day. We are all prone to having bad days.

This interaction happened before I started my comfort zone challenge, but it was a noteworthy event in my life. It had marked the beginning of my challenge conquest. All these social fears that I had were given healthy introspection and looked at through newly gained perspectives. After my interaction with Michelle, I grew the courage to take selfies with strangers, and my phone-book began to grow quickly with the addition of newly collected phone numbers.

People are cool, I’m pretty cool

Ask yourself, Am I the kind of person I would like to have as a friend?”

-Napoleon Hill

Strangers want to like you. This usually holds true, but there are a handful of people that might think the other way (maybe they are having bad days). Difficult people should not be given an ounce of anger, but instead pity.

I have found that smiling and laughing when talking with strangers helps them feel immensely more comfortable with you. These have to be genuine though! I’m still working on it, but I’ve seen how a genuine smile or laugh can reduce the amount of tension in social interactions. Conversations are more fluid between friends, so it is to our benefit to talk to others as if they are already our friends.

Another important thing to note is to be a person you yourself would want to be friends with. Since I’ve read the above quote by Napoleon Hill, I often ask myself if I am about to do something I would not want a friend of mine to do. It comes from honest introspection, and I have found that there are silly habits of mine that are quite easy to fix by just asking myself that one question.

Side note: No one is perfect.

Over the course of the next 3 weeks, I would approach more strangers, have lengthy (10-120 minute) and enlightening conversations with them, buy them food, fantasize about building a pirate ship/crew, and fall in love with new activities (slacklining) I would have never tried before if I had stayed within the confines of my comfort zone.

Relationships

“Every great athlete, artist and aspiring being has a great team to help them flourish and succeed – personally and professionally. Even the so-called ‘solo star’ has a strong supporting cast helping them shine, thrive and take flight.”

-Rasheed Ogunlaru

How could my general mood not increase after making so many quality friends in such a short period of time? I feel a higher sense of empathy for others and have noticed increased amounts of laughter and fulfillment!

There were two times during my challenge where I had negative feelings overwhelm me. The first was brought on by my insatiable thirst for perfection. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten again about the lessons I had learned from my first existential crisis. I fell into the trap of self-judgment and filled myself with negative ideas. “I’m a failure for x,” where x is anything I may have shortcomings in.

I can’t give enough thanks to Maple- who happened to help me take control of the self-defeating talk. She took the time to read my blog and told me in the nicest way possible way that she thought I should “chill out.” She was critical and honest, yet polite in explaining that she felt I was putting too much stress on myself. This meant to slow things down and take time to gain perspective.

I had forgotten all about the importance of “chilling out.” In order for us to grow, we must on occasion pause and give ourselves room to breath. I had been drowning in my own thoughts and self-doubt. I knew immediately during our conversation that she was right. I needed to slow down and get it right in my head that I am not and will never be perfect. Thank you Maple!

Check out Maple’s blog here!

The second time was during a walk home after a grueling night of late-night studying. Again, I began my crisis by questioning the meaning behind everything I was doing. The self-defeating talk stormed back stronger than before. I caved in to my demons and told myself that I needed to stop relying on anyone for anything. I looked at myself in the mirror and was convinced I was all I ever needed. I opened up Tim Ferriss’ new book with the intention to learn how to do things on my own when it hit me. The very fact that I opened up the book meant I was already looking to rely on someone else’s opinion for advice. That night, I read the foreward for Tim Ferriss’ new book written by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The governator talks about his rise to success (a nebulous term at best). To summarize, he didn’t achieve his heights on his own. He rode on the shoulders of giants and looked to them for inspiration and help. It was a well timed wake-up call that almost instantaneously eradicated my self-defeating talk. I felt like I was being nudged towards the right path again. It was a warm and familiar feeling.

I rationalized that night that it would be cowardly for me to think I could do everything on my life. By doing so, it would mean that I don’t have the capacity to rely on others for help. It would mean that I have a fear of depending on others. To try and achieve everything on my own would be contradictory to all the things I’ve learned from my years on this planet and from my own comfort zone challenge! I am who I am because of all the people who have inspired and influenced me. I will accept the help of others and place trust and hope in those that I come across. I will be mindful of human error, and not judge others too harshly.

Routine

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition”

-W. H. Auden

The comfort challenge turned into a routine of mine. I would spend the last few hours of my nights thinking of what I should do next. Mau(a close friend who did the challenge with me) and I would share the ideas we had on Google Docs. I loved having someone to discuss potential challenges with. When challenges seemed too easy, we would ask each other for advice and keep ourselves in check.

I think one of the greatest values routines give me is the ability to budget my creative thinking. They allow me to predetermine monotonous tasks that I need to get done and spend more time and energy on the more complex tasks at hand.

In summary:

“He or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest but rises the fastest.”

– Brené Brown

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the course of these last 30 days. My biggest takeaway is that nobody is perfect, so we shouldn’t place massive expectations on others. We control the influence we let in, so we must be choosy with the things we are comfortable with. This goes for the people we interact with, the places we visit, the food we eat, etc. While flawed, we are still capable of achieving great heights through hard work and dedication. We can put intelligent systems in place to help us reach our goals.

Introspection can be used as a power tool to reassess the things that matter most. I find that I ask myself the question, “why?” for a huge number of the things I do in life. It’s interesting going deeper into that rabbit hole and figuring out why it is that you do what you do. This can be difficult at times, as a lack of sleep or difficult situations may produce mental fog and a sense of existential anxiety. We should prioritize priming our physical and emotional state so that we place ourselves in situations where we are most likely to succeed.

We should strive to make use of the tools at our disposal. As one of my favorite computer programming professors would say, “if we don’t have the tools we need, we can make them.” We are fortunate to have access to the internet, where we may find mentors who have dealt with similar situations we find ourselves in. We can effectively reduce the amount of stress and potentially save days, months, or years of time with a simple web search. Get outside your comfort zone now!

Today is the day to break free from the prison of the person you know yourself to be and step into a self you have yet to know. Will it be comfortable? No, but do it anyway.

– Debbie Ford

Invincible

I haven’t felt as good as I did today for as long as I can remember. I’m trying to figure out the variables that led to my mood being so uplifted today. Coffee + L-theanine, my interactions with people, food, sleep, etc (all my past experiences, the list can go on  forever).

After studying, I was walking home in what is probably the most windy weather I’ve ever experienced here in Irvine. While the gusts were new, the cold weather was something all too familiar (cold showers). I’m walking back in my t-shirt and jamming to my music. I have this sudden feeling of bad-assery engulf me. I see these giant branches in the road i am walking that have fallen down sometime during the day. I glance up, realizing that these swinging trees could quite literally take my life if their branches gave way.

I decided in my head that these branches would stay strong. They would not dare disturb the presence that walked the ground beneath them.  I relished in the feeling, not questioning it. I was in the moment. I was invincible. I did not fear death, death feared me. I remember thinking that the universe could let me go like this. I could not let it happen. I was playing god. I have too much to accomplish to die so early.

Surely enough, the feeling subsided. I reached home and lay in bed thinking about what the fuck I had just gone through. I started thinking more about death and how we really don’t know when we are going to go. We say these words: “someday, sometime, could, would have, if only, among other things.” We live our lives thinking we are immortal. We may turn to things like religion for a sense of security. After this life, we hope to have more time to be happy and have an unlimited amount of opportunity.

I choose to accept this life I’ve been given as I see it. It’s a blessing and a curse. I see myself as a ticking time-bomb, but I find freedom in this realization. It inspires me to pursue the things greater than my own life. This can come in the form of inspiring and helping others.

It’s my opinion that nothing is eternal. After all, entropy can never be reversed. There is a finite amount of energy in this world. Refer to “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov for an interesting perspective. 

To contemplate on death means to chase the things that excite and fulfill me. To be spontaneous and enjoy life the fullest. To realize that the current amount of energy I now have will dissipate over the years.

I am not invincible, perhaps I someday will be. For now, I’m going to be grateful for the things I have and make the most of the cards I’ve been dealt.

Gratitude Practice

To Sterling, Maggie, Stephen, and Moe, I thoroughly enjoyed slacklining with you fellas today as well as on Wednesday!

I generally like talking with my bro Mau. Always excited to talk about new things with ya bud!

To my actual brother, Daniel. I’ve been talking with you more on a personal level and I’m glad we talk more.

To Maple. We had a great and lengthy conversation yesterday. You are a shining gem! I wanted to make my challenge today to talk with you, but I respect your wanderlust syndrome. I’m glad to have met you, and look forward to more enlightening conversations! If the stars align, I’ll see you sometime in the future. If not, it wasn’t meant to be. No problem.

Writing these feelings of gratitude uplift my mood. I’m going to start my next blog doing it first to see if it will reflect on the actual blog post.

invincible

Reflecting on reflection

It can be a slippery slope sometimes when diving deep into the self and some fields of study. There come times when we search deeply for answers that turn into incessant obsessions. These in turn show us that sometimes the answers aren’t what we expected them to be. Sometimes we find out disturbing parts of ourselves. It’s this fear of self-understanding that limits people’s understanding of themselves. It can be difficult to be honest with yourself at times, especially when you do something that you objectively think is bad. We rarely consider ourselves the “bad guys.” I forget who the following quote was from, but it read something like this. “Think about your actions and try to be someone you yourself would like to spend time with.”

My difficulty has been on focusing on my positive traits. My friends often tell me I should focus on my accomplishments, and practice gratitude. It’s human nature to focus more on the “bad” things that happen, but I need to consistently work on practicing the opposite.

For tomorrow, I will practice gratitude training and implement it as a new habit of mine.

To Maple. If you are reading this, I want to thank you for reading my blog, and taking the time to give me your constructive criticism. I think you have a very reasonable and valid point in telling me that I should “chill out.” I’ve since made it a point of mine to slow down and smell the roses. The difficulty for me lies in acknowledging achieving perfection vs. becoming the best version of myself.

It’s important to note that almost all of the people I deem “successful” seem to have a habit of meditation and reading. I relate our conversation to the benefits of meditation. From meditation, I learned to pause and slow down life- which led to an overall increase in my quality of life (mood, energy).

Perhaps I need to pursue a more rigorous meditation habit. I haven’t had a lengthy habit of meditation for some time.

On another note, I do find value in things like negative-visualization. Often times, I can think deeply on the worst-case scenario, and rationalize to myself that it quite as bad as I had initially thought it to be.

On gratitude:

Today, I’d like to thank my mother for the amount of food she left with me so that I would have to cook less during the toughest days of the quarter. Her unwavering love is something I should think about more and accept better. Thanks mom! I love you! Love you too, Dad and brother, but you guys weren’t on my mind as much as mom today!

I’m thankful to have met Moe and Sterling. I’m thankful for Sterling for sharing with me about his time in Brazil. I’m grateful that Moe was willing to enlighten me about particle physics and that I was able to carry on such a lengthy conversation with a PhD student in physics.

I’m grateful to have had dinner with Bryan and Priscilla. It’s nice to have positive friends around you. A great mood booster!

I’m generally grateful for the friends that I have. My direction in life has allowed for me to meet fascinating people, and it only seems to be getting better. Recently, some names that come to mind are: Mau, Maple, Manida, Moe, (so many Ms), Eric, Sagar, Linda,  Jon, Tristan, and Dakuo.

I consider Mau to be a brother of mine. I haven’t known him for long, but we are honest with each other and have very stimulating conversations.

The same can be said for Maple, she inspires me to be a better version of myself.

Manida helped me realize the importance of being honest with my intentions. She is a breath of fresh air and always has a smile on her face.

Eric and Sagar are my best buds, we’ve been through thick and thin for more than 8 years. Our brotherhood is strong!

I just had boba with her yesterday. Linda is full of aspirations and understands how to achieve them.

Jon is a man on a mission. He’s still figuring things out, but his curiosity will allow for him to experience adventure. Another example of a goal-setter and goal-achiever.

Tristan is very similar to me. So obviously he will achieve the highest of heights. We sometimes start slow and are confused, but once we have a handle on things, we can use our unique perspective to influence others.

Dakuo has been one of the most profound mentors I’ve had. He’s currently doing research with IBM, but he and I have shared many conversations that I constantly reflect on to find guidance. He taught me the importance of paying it forward.

I can’t help but have a smile on after writing something like this. This is a good practice.

 

 

Finishing Strong

It’s Day 22 of the 30 day comfort zone challenge. It’s proven to be difficult to maintain all the new habits I have been trying to incorporate into my life. I remember reading somewhere that you should start with only one or a few small habits at a time. This is good advice. However, I can’t deny the amount of enjoyment and fulfillment I’ve been deriving from doing all these new things. I’m going to write on the things I have learned thus far, and motivate myself to finish these next 8 days in strong fashion.

The first thing that comes to mind is the overall sense of sincerity I am developing in my interactions with others. This is evident in my interactions with new friends and strangers. From meditation, I have learned to pause and think about my reasoning for any actions I may take. I’ve learned the importance of slowing down and smelling the roses; to cherish the people around me and enjoy the opportunities that fall into my radar. From conversations with strangers, I’ve grown to understand the vast possibility of different perspectives. I’ve come to terms with accepting that I am not and never will be perfect, and while there may be no inherent meaning to life, this does not mean I will not enjoy my time here. Quite the contrary, I will live it to its fullest and experience the height of what it has to offer.

I’ve learned to embrace the chaos when it comes. The quote that has been resonating with me lately has been this, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. After all, in life; things happen. We give meaning to these things when we say they are either good or bad.

8 days to go. It’s refreshing to know how much of a positive impact something like this has been for me. It’s a sort of retreat in itself and furthers my understanding of the self. I’ll come out of this a better person, and use my experience to further the quality of my life.

I’m in charge of the direction of my own metamorphosis.

 

Brink of Excellence

I’m sitting here at Starbucks. This is where I am currently physically located. The accumulation of all my life’s experience have brought me here today. Every single breath I have taken in the past, every person I have ever come into contact with, all the thoughts I’ve ever had bring   me here today writing this post.

Almost a full year ago, I was walking the streets of Buenos Aires, on Jorge Luis Borges street and Santa Fe. These thoughts remind me of my trip to Iguazu Falls, where I learned more about Jorge Luis Borges. He was a writer and a poet who imparted his wisdom through his words. El Equipo (The Team) was the name we gave ourselves. We made our way to a Hostel to watch a futbol game there. On the walls were these Borges quotes.

jorgeluis quote 3.jpg

jorge luis borges i amtheriver.jpg.jorgeluis iamall.jpg

To grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.