365 Challenge: Day 38 – Passive

Posted on Updated on

Passive: accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance

Passive is a tricky word. We’ve adopted it across so many aspects of our lives. Passive meaning we do not stand up and fight in a war. Passive meaning we prefer to relax and rest more than rush around. Passive meaning we are lost in thought. For today, I plan to focus on my energy level, which means I am much more passive than I am active.

There are lots of people out there who are energized by running around all day, constantly involved in something and unable to sit still. Folks who get up super early (4am?) to find the time to accomplish all their goals. Those who can survive on 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night. And some who must be doing some physical activity throughout most of their day. That is NOT me. But it isn’t all that bad.

I’ve always required 7 to 8 hours of sleep per evening. I can survive on less, even for a few days in a row, but I’m a bit listless and slower than usual. Productivity and quality probably decrease in all that I do, so I know my limits and try to put myself into bed around 10pm each evening, read for 30 to 60 minutes to relax and fall asleep somewhere between 11 and 11:30. I am not a quick sleeper… it takes a while for me to nod off. I’ve never been able to nap. I’m usually awake between 6:30 and 7:30 each morning, without an alarm, as my body says “let’s start the day.”

I’m good with about an hour of exercise each day. I try to walk if I need to handle any errands, or when traveling on my way to/from work where possible. But when I’m done with work or errands, or socializing at meals or events, I am a passive person. I much prefer to be sitting in a chair / couch / bed, where I am reading, writing or watching TV. By no means am I lazy. I certainly go out to do things, take trips, try new opportunities, play with the dog (he likes to run around the apartment in circles… therefore so must I, it seems). Generally, I could sit for 8 to 10 hours keeping myself busy without feeling the need to get outside and go for a jog, run off to the sports center to play tennis or plan a trip to climb some mountain. I’d rather go walk about a museum, drive through and stop at view points, or poke my head in a few stores for an hour and call it quits for the day.

Some of you are thinking… wow, he’s boring. Yes, probably true. But it’s part of who I am. My brain or body don’t need constant physical stimulation, as they’re both content to express creativity and action in my head. When I am flying in an airplane or in a long car ride, even up to 8 or 10 hours, I can go without needing to stop for any sort of break or even getting out of my seat. Part of me thinks it is “mind over matter,” meaning I can tell myself “this is your plan for the next 8 hours… no need to try to change it.” And then I am capable of sticking closely to it. Of course, this isn’t always the case… and sometimes on a weekend when I have no plans on a Saturday or a Sunday, I get a little stir crazy. Then it’s time to take the dog for a walk, find a store to dash into or look for a friend to go out and do something different.

I certainly wonder how these affinities develop in people. Of course DNA and health have a large factor in it, but how much of one’s upbringing defines how passive or active they are in their activities? Is it about availability of money and time? Or is it about how much you’ve been forced to do as a child that determines what you want to do in your future? Do you choose these behaviors yourself or do they develop as a byproduct of those around you?

I am an only child, so I often spent time alone. I had friends and saw them a lot. But rather than go play hoops on the driveway or climb a tree, I stayed in my room to read or watch TV. It may have contributed to me being shy, I’ll acknowledge that part of the impact. I was a really good child, never asking for things or to be entertained, so my parents never felt the need to yell “go outside and play,” just so they had a moment’s peace. They certainly pushed me every so often to be more active and get outside, but only when they thought I was spending too much time shut up in my room.

If I had a child, it would be about balance. I don’t agree with setting up activities all day and evening long for your kids to be busy. Whether it’s 50/50 or 60/40 (either direction), alone time is important to help develop your analytical skills, as well as build your ability to learn things other than what someone else forces you to focus on. I’d limit the amount of reading, TV and computer time, ensuring at least an hour a day was some sort of physical activity. Maybe even an hour a day of some group activity or sport. Weekends would be 1 down day and 1 up day, meaning they’d go to some cultural or community event, but also need to focus on the whole eat/pray/love theme.

When I started this post about 10 minutes ago, I never intended to discuss parenting styles, but I let the words take me where they did today. And if I were to interpret what I’ve written, I’d say perhaps I’m being a little too passive in my own days. I should challenge myself to try something new every month, get out at least once per weekend to some physical activity other than my normal trips to the gym, and I should probably join a group (book club, writer’s group, museum or community thing) to help expand my self-imposed limits.

How often are you out and about versus home and relaxing? Do you find yourself with 15 minutes of free time on a normal day or 3 hours of free time? How do you balance it all? What’s your preference? For those who can’t just sit still, what’s happening in your mind and body when you just need to bounce?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 2 – Honesty

Posted on Updated on

Honesty: free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere

Being honest is almost always the only proper route in life. On rare occasions will I find it acceptable to be less than honest. It’s innate, at least in me, and I think in most people, that the honest response or answer is the first one (s)he thinks of; however, the degree to which they debate following through on the honesty is what differs among us.

I’m sure I was taught as a child that “honesty is the best policy,” whether it was in school or at home. I don’t exactly remember this conversation other than hearing about it in classic 1950s and 1960s TV shows and the occasional movie where someone is trying to coax a child to tell the truth. But even if I weren’t actually taught this message, it seems like the right thing to do. If not, everything would be more like a treacherous game than a way of life. Let’s all play some Game of Thrones today! Russian Roulette is the new mantra. NOT!

I can recall a few moments when I wasn’t 100% honest; told you in my 365 intro I intend to tell both the good and the bad!

  • I know I was obsessed with Legos and took a few home with me from a friend’s house one time. I claimed I didn’t know what happened to them, but I clearly remember thinking “these aren’t mine” when they “fell” into my Lego box. I’m not exactly sure why, other than Legos brought me great pleasure and offered an escape from other things in my life (no, nothing bad… I was just a very shy kid).
  • I’ve told someone (on a few occasions) I’d been dating that I wasn’t attracted to someone else when I knew I was. And yes, in the past, I did cross a line many years ago that I should not have crossed. I was bad. I admit it. But I learned from it and I eventually confessed. You can choose to dislike it or me, and I don’t blame you. But we all live in a glass house at some point, and we’ve all thrown the stones when we knew we shouldn’t.
  • I’ve made up plans when I didn’t feel like going out with someone else. I truly just needed down time… and didn’t want to offend the person or have them think I didn’t like them. They would be persistent if I just said I didn’t “want” to go out.

OK, so none of those are all that bad (e.g. murder, marital affair, bullying). But I had an opportunity to tell the truth, and I chose not to. Sometimes, I’m afraid of hurting another person’s feelings. Sometimes it would lead to a far worse situation to be honest, and it’s easier to just tell the white lie to end the immediate issue. Are these acceptable situations?

For the most part, I think they are. If the truth will hurt someone’s feelings, but the lie will avoid a problem – and it is short-term and not impactful – it may be the best course of action. Why tell a friend their new haircut looks bad when it will be fine in a few days? Perhaps if they are going on a date or a job interview, don’t let them suffer a longer-term impact. Bite the bullet, tell them it’s awful and deal with the short-term impacts.

If you’re thinking about cheating, hmm… that’s a tough one. Do you hide it until you know you want to, or do you risk saying “I thought about Person X” to the person you are dating and have them prematurely leave you? I choose not to answer that question because I think the answer lies in the strength of your relationship; you should be working towards a solidarity that can withstand admitting you find someone else attractive. It’s when you choose to act on it that the line has been crossed. Subjectivity in this level of honesty in the important message.

But on the good side, honesty is really the only way to exist. It’s an example of how to level-set the playing field. When you are dishonest, everything that happens afterwards will immediately be suspect. Take the example of someone who lies on their resume or in an interview to get a job. Perhaps the less qualified candidate will get the job due to this lie. But eventually, it’s a high probability (s)he will be found out and either lose their job or be reprimanded. That addresses the situation for the liar, but what about the person impacted by that lie? (S)he didn’t get the job, which may have been a career changer for the future. Where does that leave him or her? Note: I’m not getting into fate and sometimes it’s necessary to lose one thing to set you on the path to what you are really destined for… that’s another topic! Yikes… these challenges might be harder than I thought. Morality exists everywhere!

And so, when I look at honesty, it’s a scale heavily waited to 99% of the time, i.e. it is required. Dishonesty should only be reserved for those moments when you’ve weighed the options and the impacts of that decision are not harmful to anyone, or are less harmful than the alternative.

That said, many readers are probably thinking “he’s so wrong… you should never lie… what do we tell our children…” You tell them the truth. You provide examples, you teach them about cause and effect, you explain the impacts with either decision. Not when they are 2 or 3 or 4, but when they are mature enough to understand.

That doubly said, I RESPECT those who ALWAYS tell the truth, no matter the impact. Perhaps they are too blunt. Perhaps they are inconsiderate. Perhaps they are rude. But they are honest and you will always know what to expect from them. And being consistent is one of those really extremely important things to be. And that will be tomorrow’s characteristic!

365 Challenge: Day 1 – Dedication

Posted on Updated on

Dedication: an act of commitment to a goal or way of life

Dedication is an important characteristic to achieving success. I want to be successful in all that I choose to do. I have goals and I want to reach them; therefore, dedication is necessary.

In the past, I have been quite dedicated at several of my jobs. I usually worked 60+ hour weeks in order to achieve my goals. Some may say I wasn’t organizing my day properly if I couldn’t achieve everything in a normal 40 hour week. I do not agree with this statement as it is too defined; subjectivity is important to consider each of the levers being pulled that alter the course of my day. It was my choice to work more than necessary as I wanted to continue optimizing and moving towards my end goals.

Could (or should) I have called it quits at 6pm to properly balance my day? Would it have been more advantageous to have a mental break from formal work in order to be more successful the following day? Perhaps…

I lack dedication in some areas of my life. Everything is always in order, as I’m very particular and organized; however, I often find myself devoting more time to some things than others, without a fully balanced equilibrium in place. I want to be healthy, in good shape and fit. So I work out often. But I often eat an entire sleeve of cookies (Girl Scout cookies this week that a nameless someone brought home against my wishes… mmm thin mints… plus the new smores!) in one sitting followed by a bowl of ice cream and several glasses of wine. Do I interpret this as lack of dedication to achieving a goal of becoming more physically fit?

I’m more inclined to say it doesn’t really impact my level of dedication on the whole or average. If it’s important to me, and has a long-lasting impact, I follow through on the dedication. But if it’s minor and has little impact, I’m willing to let it go (unless it also conflicts with another strong belief — like not letting someone down). That said, if I let myself eat the cookies and drink the wine every night, I’d need to change my level of dedication. Or decide I’m dedicated to weight gain. No. Not for me.

So what does this mean to me? I believe in dedication. I respect dedication. I want to be emblematic of dedication unless it is something I should be dedicated to but find myself steering in the wrong direction. Then I allow myself to accept that I am not being dedicated.

Where do I go from here? Perhaps I should only allow myself to stray from dedication when it is a conscious acknowledgement of it happening. Don’t let myself eat the whole sleeve of cookies unless I’ve also worked out that day! Ah success…

Yeah, right, not that simple! 🙂

Dedication is about more than staying focused. It’s about understanding the end goal and directing (or re-directing) the path to get there.  Worry less about the individual cookies and more about the most expedient course to the completion of the goal or task. (Eat the whole box once in a single sitting… you know, so it’s done and gone and no more temptation???)

No. Apply dedication on those things that are important to you. Apply wisdom and knowledge for the rest. Balance my food intake. Allow some cheat nights. Allow some plain old-fashioned healthy nights. Enjoy my food but don’t be gluttonous.

But I should pick something I believe I am strong at when it comes to the use of the word dedication… so that when I say I am dedicated, I am clear on why I am certain (1) I am dedicated and (2) I want to improve my dedication.

My dedication:

  • 365 days of reflection and discovery by choosing characteristics I have or want to have as part of who I am:
    • Accept that on a few occasions I will miss a post, but I will make up for it the next day.
    • Acknowledge that I need to invest value in each post and not let them be trivial.
  • I’ve dedicated myself to reading 78 books this year on Goodreads.
    • I already expect to increase it to 104 (2 per week) in the near future.
    • If I increase it, I must dedicate myself to achieving the new goal.

“Watching a Glass Shatter” – Chapter 2

Posted on Updated on

Chapter 2 “Who is Olivia Glass?” has been released and the widow reacts to her husband’s untimely death prior to sitting for the reading of the will.  What secrets are going to come out?

Summary:  The wealthy Glass family has lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons prepare for the will reading in their own way but Olivia receives a very unexpected confession via a letter from her late husband that will shatter the whole family: one of their 5 boys is not really their biological son. Prior to revealing what Ben put in the letter, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past.  Olivia visits each son with the expectation she will reveal the newly learned family secret while with each son but when she arrives, Olivia learns that her sons have each been keeping a secret from her.

In this family drama, Olivia and her sons are on a quest to determine the course of their life without Ben.  Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life altering.  As she spends time with each son, she gets a clearer picture of what she needs to do. By the final visit, Olivia is ready to move forward but will her family ever be the same?

Chapter 1 – Who was Benjamin Glass?

Chapter 2 – Who was Olivia Glass?