On Video Games

One Take from the Week #12: On Video Games

I grew up playing video games. It started with Atari, then Intellivision, Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation, and finally X-Box. After almost three decades of playing, I gave it up. I looked at how much time I wasted and all the things I could have done instead. I looked at where I was in life, my shortcomings, and I placed the blame on the video games.

As a reformed gamer, I started to look down on others who played. How could they fall into this trap? Don’t they know they are wasting their time as well? I could understand the lure for the younger generations. All their friends play. To not play would not be normal. But the older people? Would they ever grow up?

Last week, I had a cup of coffee with a former teammate. In time, the conversation turned to video games. Uh-oh, please don’t waste a good opportunity for meaningful conversation on such frivolities. But then my friend caught me completely off guard. He started talking about the community he was building through games. How is this possible? He went on to elaborate how he streams his games online. He answers the questions his viewers ask covering a wide range of topics. These include the games of course, but also on technical setups and general life questions. He admits he is not the best of players, but this does not matter to his audience. They are there for the experience, one in which they pay him a $5/monthly subscription. He said he makes about $300-400 a month for his services.

I was in shock. My views on gaming totally changed. Maybe not enough to start playing myself, but enough to appreciate what he does. How is this any different from some of the coaching I do?


Tonya, my partner at work, and I have been conducting a social media experiment. We are trying to become more influential in our specific niches. We have been doing our research and applying them to our posts. Though the niches are completely different, our strategy is similar. Therefore, when we collaborate, it is to our mutual benefit. This has been an exciting experiment as we are both continually learning and bringing to the table new ideas.

After my conversation with my gamer friend, what Tonya and I are doing is essentially playing a game. Though we are not making money at this, we are no different than the gamer. We are using our platforms to share information. The goal, like the gamer, is to get more subscribers. This goes beyond mere entertainment and into a realm of providing value to our viewers. I guess it turns out, I am still playing games.

Yes, my viewpoint has changed. How is it any different than reading, social media, or any other activity I find enjoyable? Like any other endeavor I engage in, I must consume in moderation. If it is solely for the purpose of entertainment, I am wasting my time. However, if I can use it as a tool for creativity by providing valuable content, then it is a worthwhile pastime.

Feature photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

Traffic, Choices, and Conscience

One Take from the Week #11: Traffic, Choices, and Conscience

I woke up from my little nap to realize we were sitting in traffic. I had a slight urge to use the restroom, and we were at a standstill. Thirty minutes later, we moved about fifty feet. The urge was getting stronger. Being stuck was starting to get frustrating. The exit was less than a mile ahead.

A steady stream of cars was travelling down the shoulder to the right of us. I hate when people do that. But then a thought crossed my mind: What if the people in front of us had no intention of getting of the interstate? If that was the case, then being on the shoulder to get to the exit wasn’t really that bad. I continued to gaze into the side view mirror as the stream of cars continued past us.

“Hey babe, why don’t you pull off onto the shoulder like everyone else,” I asked. Bethany looked at me with a questioning look in her eyes. What I asked was completely against all our traffic etiquette beliefs. The answer was no.

Fifteen minutes later and another twenty-five feet down the road, my patience was wearing thin. Our estimated time of arrival was creeping towards midnight. It was only four in the afternoon. “C’mon, take the shoulder. There’s a break in the traffic coming up,” I said.

She looked at me again, shook her head, and then moved into the shoulder. As we drove, my wife voiced her concerns. She didn’t like the places where the way narrowed. A few cars up ahead of us were trying some half-hearted blocking maneuvers. Bethany’s grip on the steering wheel got tighter. We were so close. And then, traffic stopped. It turns out that all traffic was being diverted to the exit due to the overpass being completely blocked by two wrecked tractor-trailers.

A passenger in a Subaru next to us rolled down his window. We heard him waving his arms and yelling unintelligible words at us. Bethany looked straight ahead. She had her blinders on and wouldn’t give the guy the satisfaction that comes from retaliation. In my mind, I sized him up. Yeah, I thought. I could make him tap out in less than a minute. I dismissed the thought, looked at him, shrugged my shoulders, and offered him some prayer hands with a silent wish for peace.

I tried to talk to Bethany.  No response. She was angry with me. By listening to me, she violated her conscience. I knew in my heart she was right. I led her down a path she did not want to take.

Leo Tolstoy once said we should fear all that is not accepted by our conscience. Bethany’s actions against her conscience scared her. At the time, I didn’t understand it. I was motivated by own selfish actions and a lack of patience. In this case, coercing her into doing something she knew was wrong made me the worst of offenders. Unfortunately, I can’t go back and fix it, but I can do better in the future. Hopefully, I will have the wisdom when confronted with the next obstacle.


Photo by Tan Kaninthanond on Unsplash

Only Doing What They Think Is Right

One Take from the Week #10: Only Doing What They Think Is Right

A note came from Alec’s teacher this week. She wanted to let us know that he was having a hard time with a few of the students. Some of them were bothering him and his attitude was going from pleasant to unpleasant extremely fast. He was not telling the teacher when there was a problem, and he was not dealing with the situation in a proper way. Unable to use his reasoning skills, he was resorting to the use of force to resolve the conflict. At his age, using force is easier than using wisdom to solve the problem. But easy is not the solution and often results in unintended consequences.

My counsel to him was to identify the problem. I asked him, “Is this you or is it them? If it is them, then you need to respond accordingly which is to let the teacher know. If it is you, then you must determine if you need to change. Ideally, these students will be who you are hanging out with for the next nine years of your life. You will be working together in class, playing together in sports, and engaging with each other socially. What can you do to be in harmony with the group?” After our conversation, I joked with Bethany on where he could have gotten these behaviors from. Surely, he must have gotten it from her.

The next day, I was a little mentally bothered at work. One person was getting under my skin. There was a breakdown of communication with another. One of my team members asked me what was wrong. I responded with “nothing.” She knew right away that I wasn’t being truthful. Apparently, I have not yet mastered the ability to mask my facial expressions. The stress I was holding on the inside was manifesting itself outwardly. I told her, “My problems are with my perception. The others are doing what is in their nature. They are doing what they think is right. I need to adjust my emotions accordingly.” It was almost in line with something the philosopher Epictetus would say. As I said it, I had a moment of clarity. How are my problems any different than that of Alec’s?

It turns out he is more like me than I thought. These behaviors didn’t get genetically passed down from his mother. No. Those were the apples he picked up from me. I was quick to give him counsel him on a response that I continue to struggle with. Of course, I will not use force to resolve petty annoyances. But I can do better. I can use more wisdom and less emotion. I can remember these words from Epictetus earlier rather than later:

Whenever anyone criticizes or wrongs you, remember that they are only doing or saying what they think is right. They cannot be guided by your views, but their own…Say to yourself each time, “He did what he believed was right.”

Feature photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Unintentional Consequences of Delaying Your Dreams

One Take from the Week #9: Unintentional Consequences of Delaying Your Dreams

Ever since childhood, Carl was a dreamer. When he was a child, he watched a movie that left a lasting impression on him. The world was much bigger than he realized. Beyond his little neighborhood was a vast unknown waiting to be explored. That day, Carl made up his mind. He was going to be an adventurer and travel to the far reaches of the world.

That was Carl’s dream, but he did something different. He did what he was expected to do. He didn’t have the money to follow his dreams, so he got a job. He met someone with a similar dream, and they got married. To save up enough money to go on their adventures, his wife got a job.

They had a plan. It was a good plan. In fact, it was the logical plan that responsible people are encouraged to make. But in the movie Up, we realize that plans are only plans and have no guarantees. Carl and Ellie continued to dream and to work as they got older. Ellie ended up dying and they never got to go on their adventure together.


Carl’s story reminds me of Jack. Jack owned a construction and built houses all over town. Like Carl, he also dreamed of travelling the world with his wife. One day he was going to slow down and retire. What he didn’t count on was becoming a widower. His loss was devastating, and his quality of life took a dramatic turn for the worse. Eventually, his daughter forced him to move in with her and her family. This didn’t go over well and what ensued was War with Grandpa.

Carl (Up) and Jack (War with Grandpa).

A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

Alan Watts

The lesson could be that wives should never die before their husbands, but it is not. Instead, the lesson is about the unintentional consequences of delaying your dreams. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, let alone another twenty years and a comfortable retirement. If your dreams are nothing more than a fantasy, that is fine. Have your fantasy. But if this dream is important enough, you must start setting it into motion today. Make the plans, lay the groundwork, and attack it with all your being. Don’t let these dreams only be wasted thoughts. Bring them from the world of illusions into reality.


Feature photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash

To Take Your Reading to the Next Level: Use OPIR

One Take from the Week #8: OPIR

I cannot recall how many times I have found myself bogged down in the middle of a book that either lost my interest or was not pertinent to where I was in my life. Unless it is for pleasure (fiction before bed), I generally only read non-fiction. This is for the dual purpose of learning and growing. If I am not getting anything out of the book, then I consider it a waste of time. As William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” My goal is not to have time as something I use the worst.

How can I make the most of my time and prevent a loss of it through wasted reading? I could quit the book like I mentioned in yesterday’s post. This would allow me to discontinue my investment in an underperforming asset. But there is another way. This week I listened to a Living 4D podcast with Paul Check and Ben Greenfield. In this episode, they discussed a method I have heard of from other prolific readers but have never tried personally. It is called OPIR, a way to know what you are reading before you invest (or waste) the time it takes to read the whole thing.

OPIR – Overview, Preview, Inview, Review.

*This strategy was designed to use speed reading techniques to get through business manuals. However, I am not a speed reader. I have tried it and never liked it. It might keep me behind the curve, but I prefer to read at conversational speed. Because I am not a speed reader, the following is my adaptions to the original design.

Overview

  • Start with the cover.
  • Look at the front and the back.
  • Read the information inside the jacket.
  • If you are not familiar with the author, then read the bio.
  • Look at the table of contents. Are you still interested? If yes, then move on to the next step.

Preview

  • Read the foreword and the afterword.
  • Go to each chapter and read the first couple of paragraphs. Skim the rest of the chapter and highlight anything that stands out to you.
  • Is the book worth the investment in time you are about the make? Proceed.

Inview

  • Read the book.
  • Highlight content.
  • Make notes.
  • During the overview and preview, you read the table of contents and glimpsed each chapter. Was there one that you did not find relevant or interesting? Skip it. If at the end, you feel like you missed something, you can always go back to it.

Review

  • Go over your notes and highlights.
  • Take any actionable steps.
  • Hopefully, this book changed your life in some way. The review process is intended to solidify those changes.

Using this process to read a book might cost you a day’s worth of reading. Compare that to a week or a month’s worth wasted in a book that was not beneficial to you. This strategy will improve the value of the content, keep you from wasting your time, and give you a greater ability to retain the information. Give it a try. If you do, I would love to know how it worked out for you. Leave me a note in the comments.

The Mighty Push-Up

One Take from the Week #7: The Mighty Push-Up

Last week, I was asked by a parent of one of my Parkour students if I could design a workout program for his son. Happily, I said yes. Creating a foundation of fitness early in life is an asset you can take with you into your senior years. A key component of fitness is strength. Whether it is lifting heavy weights in the gym or carrying your luggage through the airport, you need strength.

The first item I put on his workout list is the mighty push-up. This exercise is an all-around muscle builder that works the chest, back, arms, core, and even the legs. It is an exercise that requires absolutely no equipment. As simple as the movement is, raising and lowering your body from a plank position, it is remarkable how many people struggle to perform it. My student can get 10-20 at one time. He wants to be able to do more. How can he do it? The easy answer is to keep doing it. The more time your muscles spend under tension, the stronger they will get. Yet if you go crazy and push until your arms fall off, you might decide it is not worth the pain. If you get yourself so sore that you cannot do a push-up for several days, you lose time under tension.

I spoke with a co-worker a couple of days ago about his push-up routine. He told me that he averages about 400 push-ups a day. The day before our conversation, he said he did over 800. 800 is amazing! Even more amazing is that he is almost sixty years-old and has only been doing this for a few weeks. How is this possible?

Well, a few weeks ago, he saw a few other co-workers getting together to do some push-ups. At first, he told himself he was too old to be doing this. But then, he had a second thought. What could be the harm? So, he joined in. He started out doing 20-25 push-ups. The group was doing this in their spare moments on a twelve-hour workday. Their spare time happened to come about twice an hour. Roughly every thirty minutes, he got down and started pushing. To do them took less than thirty seconds. What was the payoff? He said he felt more energetic throughout the day. He had less fatigue and of course, he was getting stronger. For him, this was a real game changer since he stopped going to the gym during Co-vid.

Pavel Tsatsouline is a Russian strength coach known for introducing the west to the kettlebell. He says you must grease the groove to build strength. What does this mean? If my student can do a maximum of twenty push-ups at one time, I want him to do ten. I want him to do half of his maximum, and I want him to do it 5-10 times throughout the day, even more if he has the time. I want him to grease the groove. If he does this, he will build the strength to do more. He will be able to do it without getting sore. He won’t put too much stress on his joints and ligaments, and they too will get stronger.

For my student, this is laying the foundation. Doing push-ups every day is only the beginning. But in recommending this to him, I must consider my own behaviors. Currently, I don’t do push-ups every day. In fact, I only work my chest about 2-3 times a week. For some reason, I fell out of the habit. Well, that needs to end and so today I am putting this back into my daily routine. At home, I will do them every time they cross my mind. Same thing at work where I have plenty of space in my office to do them. And since my office mates already think I have some loose wiring in my head, this will only help to confirm their suspicions. Who know? They may even join me.

Want to join in on the fun? Find out how many you can do at one time. Then, do half of that as many times throughout the day as you can. In time your numbers will go up, your strength will improve, and you will start to notice an improvement in your physique.


Feature photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash

“It’s Monday”

One Take from the Week #6: It’s Monday

I know. Today is Saturday. But for a moment, let us talk about Monday.

I passed by a coworker last week. I asked him how it was going. He looked at me, grimaced, and shrugged his shoulders. “It’s Monday,” he said. Yep, I thought. It was Monday.

3,640

That is how many Mondays you will see in your life if you live seventy years. Granted, most of these you will not remember. Even the ones that came in the current year have already been forgotten. Monday. It is a day like no other. It is the beginning of the week. But for some reason, it is the one most dreaded.

It is viewed as a curse, but shouldn’t it be a blessing. You get to start a new week. For many, there are no more Mondays in their life.

A misfortune or an opportunity. This is all paradigm. You can view your Monday as something you are forced to endure or as a chance to get the week rolling in a positive way.

If you are dreading Monday, you should ask yourself why. Why is your Monday bad? Identify the reasons and see if there is a way to change them. You are going to see this day thousands of times. Is that a thousand times of dread because that would truly be depressing. Instead, make it thousands of blessings, thousands of opportunities. Life is too short to allow over 14% of it to be a “dreaded” Monday.

de-EMF-ication

One Take from the Week #5: de-EMF-ication


Earlier this week, I discussed my sleep issues and the failures that led up to it. That was on a Monday night. Tuesday night’s sleep was so-so. When Wednesday morning came around, I was determined not to repeat those same issues. I woke up at 3:45 in the morning and knocked out 10,000 meters on my rowing machine before going into work. After work, I ate a quick dinner around 5 p.m. and then spent another hour in the gym coaching my son’s parkour class. I had nothing else to eat that evening and minimal fluid intake. I did a little stretching and read for a few minutes (on my iPad but in super-dark mode). By 9 o’clock, the lights went out. I was primed for a good night’s sleep. At 10:30, I was still awake. Ugh!

The next morning, I read an article from the American Sleep Association, Deep Sleep: How to Get More of It. Did you know that the brain operates at less than 1hz while in deep sleep? I didn’t, and at the time of reading it didn’t pay much attention to it. Until…

I listened to a Living 4D podcast with Paul Chek and Nick Pineault (Episode #29: Overcoming EMF Pollution). It was by chance that I chose that episode. What I learned may have changed my life. Here are the highlights from the episode:

  • Water is extremely sensitive to frequency. Our bodies consist of about 60% water with the brain and heart being composed of about 73%.
  • The earth’s natural frequency is 7.83 Hz.
  • 4G cell frequency operates 700-2500 MHz, 1 MHz is a thousand Hz.
  • WI-FI operates at 2.4 or 5 GHz. 1 GHz is a million Hz.
  • 5G cell frequency ranges from 28-39 GHz.
  • Paul Chek has chronic neck pain. This pain was reduced when he turned the wireless off in his house before bed.
  • Another example was given of a client who woke up 3-4 times a night to urinate. When he turned off the WI-FI, he was able to sleep through the night. Remember we are composed of about 70% water.
  • But everybody says that WI-FI and 5G is safe. At least, that is what the research has shown. But according to Nick Pineault, a detailed look at the research shows that it was primarily funded by the big tech companies that had the most to gain from a “safe” test result.

My current sleep issues are:

  • Chronic neck and back pain from a misspent childhood that keeps me awake and uncomfortable.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate.
  • Mental restlessness causing an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

My wife’s issues are:

  • Back pain.
  • Restless Leg.
  • Frequently wakes up.

When I got home that afternoon, I told my wife we are going to try an experiment. I told her we were going to put all our devices on airplane mode and cutoff the WI-FI before bed. Thankfully, she agreed to go along with it. By 8:30 that evening, everything was dark.

The Results:

  • I woke up once around 11 p.m. when I heard a noise outside. It didn’t take long to go back to sleep.
  • When my alarm went off at 3:45 a.m., I felt refreshed. No back or neck pain. No grogginess. No desire to hit the snooze button.
  • Later, I asked my wife how she slept. She said it was good. The only time she woke up was not long after I woke up. She had a hard time going back to sleep. Keep in mind, this was after seven hours of sleep. Other than that, she had no problems.
  • In addition, I noticed a difference in our dogs, especially our eleven-year-old Yorkie. She usually is restless at night and likes to wonder up and down the hall. The clicking of her nails on the floor is usually enough to wake me up. I didn’t notice her get up once. As far as I can tell, she slept through the night. As humans, we tend to ignore outside vibrations and frequencies. I wonder how cell and WI-FI signals affect our pets.

Conclusion

One successful night does not prove to be the best sample size. Were the results skewed based on my optimism? That is hard to tell, but optimism does have an impact. Is this a placebo effect? How will this experiment perform on a stressful night with a full moon? I am not sure, but I can’t wait to find out. Until next time, sweet dreams!


Feature photo by Praveen kumar Mathivanan on Unsplash

One Take from the Week #4: Harder-than-I-Thought New Habit

Art of Manliness #462: How to Tell Better Stories

A few weeks ago, I listened to the above podcast episode interviewing Matthew Dicks, the author of Storyworthy. He is a professional storyteller and gives his advice on how we can learn to tell better stories. This seemed right up my alley of interests, and I was eager to learn what I could.

It all starts with homework. Okay, homework. I can do that. It sounds simple enough. So, what exactly do I need to do? Every night before I go to bed, I need to spend five minutes recapping the most interesting part of my day. This information will go into an Excel file. There is no need for a lot of details, just a few bullet points. Then, on a weekly basis, I can go back pick one and come up with a worthy story. This is the first step and the inspiration behind my new weekend series of posts, “One Take from the Week.”

A new habit that takes five minutes. This is so simple that anybody can do it! Except me. The first week, I completed it a couple of nights, skipped a night, did another night, and skipped a few more. That didn’t go so well. Why? Well, at the end of the night, I am ready to shut down. After a day of working out, reading, writing, coaching, and going to the job that pays the bills, the last thing I want is to do the homework. And it is not about wanting to do the homework, so much as it is about forgetting.

What went wrong? I never set the alarm. Now I have a ton of alarms on my phone for just about everything that needs a reminder. Some of these alarms go off, and I immediately dismiss it. Yes, I know I need to take the dog for walk, coach in an hour, and even get out of the car and start walking to work when it is time to clock-in. Often, another alarm gets lost in the multitude and gets silenced.

But I set the new alarm anyway. Why? Because I must do better. I believe this habit is important, and I really want it in my life.

The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t like to do.

Thomas Edison

Now, what I am not saying is that this will make me successful and you, for not doing this homework, will be a failure. But if this something I want to do and cannot get it done, then I have failed (in this instance). Nathanael Emmons said, “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.” This is a new habit that will serve me well in the future. If, I can develop the discipline to see it through. Five minutes is all it takes to turn off the alarm, stop what I am doing, and think and record something that was impactful during my day. Just five minutes. We need our habit to serve us. We need them to help us optimize our lives. Is there a new habit you are wanting to begin or have recently started? I would love to hear about it and any tricks you used to make it stick.

One Take from the Week #3: Power Nap

“Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two…” -Winnie-the-Pooh.

The beginning of Chapter 9: The Binaural Power Nap in the book Own the Day by Aubrey Marcus (cover photo).

As far as I can remember, my mom was a big nap taker. In the afternoon, at the drop of a hat, she could start dozing wherever she was sitting.* It turns out the apple does not fall far from the tree. For the last ten or so years, this is what I have done every day at lunch right after I ate. Sometimes, I skipped eating altogether and went straight for the nap. For optimal success, I would put in some headphones, turn on either movie scores or a meditation, and get down to some z’s.

This week, I read Aubrey Marcus’s take on the power nap. I got excited when I turned the page and saw the chapter title: The Binaural Power Nap. I do not even remember seeing the word Binaural, only Power Nap. Unfortunately, I was reading as I was eating lunch. I was in a dilemma as to what I should do. I slept. Later that evening, when I had some time, I went back to the book, which in this case, was going back to my studies on optimizing my life.

If you are navigating daily decisions, slipping into beta frequency is the most useful. If you need to surf a big wave or write your novel, alpha frequency is helpful. And if you are trying to rest, theta frequency is most powerful…In plain English, targeting theta and delta waves can help you take your naps to the next level.

-excerpt from Own the Day

I have never been a fan of these binaural soundtracks. Every time I have tried to listen to one those “guaranteed deep sleep with X amount of Hz,” my mind started to run, and I found myself more awake than anything. Wanting to keep an open mind, I decided to try it again on my next lunch break.

The next day, I found a meditation from the Insight Timer app. I ate lunch, put in my headphones, and then hit play on Lucid Dreaming Meditation Music: Powerful Theta Binaural Beats. I had my reservations. Would the music keep me awake? Nope. Before I knew it, I was gone. When the alarm went off on my Fitbit (a nice vibrating alarm that can’t be heard), I woke  up refreshed. Wow! I took out the headphones, signed into my computer, and charged through the rest of the day full of energy.

Last week, I tried it twice, both with outstanding results. I look forward to seeing how long this will be effective. Will it stop working once I get used to it? Can I make this a permanent part of my daily routine? I look forward to finding out. At least I now know I am not alone in this whole nap taking business.


*As stated, this is as far as I can remember. That has been over 40 years ago, and I might be incorrect in my memories. I figured this disclaimer was a safe route because my Mother does read this blog.