instinct

365 Challenge: Day 307 – Instinct

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Instinct: (a) an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli or (b) what your gut says

instinct

There are moments in life when you tell yourself to push beyond the instinctual behavior that generally guides your actions. Sometimes you can accept a different feeling or approach, but not always — and even when you do, you may not fully engage to see a different result. It is when you reflect back on your decisions and determination that you often see how accurate your instincts can be after they’ve been a natural part of who you are for so very many years. But if you choose to always rely on them, you might not ever experience a necessary revelation.

My instincts have been on high alert in regard to several decisions and trust over the last few months. I remind myself each day to take chances. It might pay off. It might not. If I listened to my instincts today (as in this morning, this moment), and followed through on what they tell me, I might be listening to fear rather than opportunity. I doubt I’ll cater to them right now, as I can see why the voice is louder in the current period — and that’s a good thing. Recognizing the parameters under which you originally developed your instincts is necessary before unequivocally accepting them as concrete guides to evaluating your options and making your decisions.

I’m more vague and philosophical than usual today — it’s something I usually contain in my open words; it’s underdeveloped thoughts, musings of a sensitive soul, a way to ponder what comes next. Nothing’s wrong or bad. It’s simply good to think outside the box (or even forget there is a box, if you recall a post from about two weeks ago) at times… there  should be a balance each day to relying on instinct versus random decisions; we must learn to use it wisely and evolve the process we use to achieve each goal.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. 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. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 138 – Reminder

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Reminder: a message or communication designed to ensure that someone remembers something

reminder

I often compare myself to others. It’s part of my intellect, instinct and introversion. No matter the situation, my innate response is to analyze where I fit on the scale among others. Some argue this will only lead to disappointment or frustration. Others believe it’s essential to existing in our society. I see both sides of the struggle and fall somewhere in the middle on the ideal route upon which one should embark; however, life is not a contest. With billions of people on this planet, it’s a certainty that you’ll never know if you truly are the best or at the top of the list. It’s practically a guarantee that someone else out there is just a step beyond where you are, which means you’re probably just trying to compare yourself to the immediate group of people around you. And if you can accept that someone else is better at it, ask yourself why you still feel the need to do the comparison at all?

For me, comparisons aren’t always about deciding when I’m better at something than someone else. It’s about understanding where I fall within the overall range. I find it helpful to know whether I possess more or less skills in a certain area, as it can be a guide post to help me determine whether it’s something I should put added focus towards. For example, if I want to be a bowler, I need to know whether I’m good or not, what my weaknesses are, how to improve in certain areas. That’s a healthy comparison. It’s determining the path to meet your objectives without criticizing yourself for the current state. It’s the process of learning and growing.

I will often compare myself to others strictly for the sense of deciding a bit of my own self-worth. Not in a heavy way where it thoroughly depresses me, but enough to recognize it’s not a good approach. I’ll see pictures of guys in extremely well-fitting suits, highlighting all the reasons I find someone or a certain style attractive. I then wear something I believe is similar, yet it looks very different on me due to either my height or body proportion. I immediately find myself unhappy, and it will even sometimes damper my mood for a good portion of whatever event I’d be going to. A suit changing my entire composure. This is an unhealthy comparison. There’s nothing I can do about some of those situations. Even if I custom-tailored a suit or hired a fitness trainer to change the shape and size of certain body parts, it wouldn’t achieve the exact same look. I’d have to go through surgery to stretch my bones to reach the height I think I need to be able to pull off said look. That’s an example of an unhealthy comparison. How silly is that?

Then there are those in between areas where you are not necessarily on a marathon to be the absolute best at something, rather a smaller race you’ve designed yourself in which there is a specific person as a target. For the creative types, we’re often thinking… Am I a better writer/painter/artist/photographer than “x” ? Do I build characters or capture the perfect amount of light more than “y” ? The goal always changes. Sometimes you’re comparing yourself to a favorite artist you enjoy. Others, it’s a friend or colleague you find competitive. And often it’s someone who’s winning awards or gaining popularity. You ask yourself, “Can I really beat that person?” If managed properly, this can be a healthy comparison, but it’s rare any of us approach it properly. If you are challenging yourself to continue to evolve and improve, it’s healthy. If you are hoping to move your supposed ranking up the scale one peg at a time, knocking down the people around you, it’s probably not healthy.

I’m definitely not an expert or guru in this area. I am competitive. I have a need to be number one at all things I do. I choose to do very few things for this reason, as I certainly can’t be perfect at everything I do. Last night, as I read a few chapters from a book, I kept thinking to myself… “this author develops characters with so much more depth than I do.” When I got back from the gym yesterday, I made a comment to myself about still not eliminating the love-handles. And when I checked the ratings on something that is updated weekly, I had dropped a ranking. Wow… three unhealthy approaches in a row. So I’m not an expert. But I do know how to manage it. It’s a constant reminder to ask myself “what is so important about this supposed competition?” If I don’t have a good answer, then I need to drop the need to compare and replace it with a need to grow.

It comes down to choosing how to spend your time. Ten minutes of complaining that you’re not where you want to be. Fifteen minutes wasted, hoping you can change something that is literally impossible to change. Five minutes of binge-eating cookies that will later add another 20 minutes to the cardio session to drop the 5 pounds you need to lose to fit into the suit you think will make you look the way the model does but will not because you have a different body type which cannot be altered because you’d have to spend thousands to break your bones and add 4 inches to your height so that you can then say “I’m the best.” WTF? That’s “what the fudge” for some of you…

So really, when you find yourself comparing things… make sure you know why. There might be an alternative path to reaching the goal hidden just below that fake goal you think you are really trying to achieve. I’m not trying to look like the model who wore that suit. I’m trying to say “I’m proud of who you are and the efforts you’ve put in.” So I’ll worry less about all those things above and more about building the foundation for the future I plan to have. And in all sincerity, today’s post is not even about me… it’s more about the idea of comparisons and how our minds work. I’m really not in need of a change in approach or a friend to make things seem better. I’m hoping to share some ways that help me get out of the constant comparison rat race. These are simply words that we all need to remember to remind ourselves from time to time.

And that’s what I’m doing today in the 365 Daily Post. Simply reminding us… as that’s what happened during a morning conversation with a very good friend. Thank You, Friend. And I felt the need to pass it on…

Oh, but you will… I make sure of it. I am the best at helping people pass!

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Melanie @ MelToTheAny. We met around 4 to 5 months ago either on Goodreads or WordPress, I don’t remember for sure, as we chat back and forth not only on those sites, but also on Twitter, Instagram, BlogLovin’, and even a few others.  We’re both all over social media, constantly talking about books and commenting on each other’s posts. She also snaps lots of pictures of the books she’s bought, received or reading, and it’s always fun and cute photos with some interesting connection to the story; you can feel her personality shining through, as someone you’d totally love to grab a cup of coffee with, maybe near the beach, and just dish about books, authors and characters. She has really great insight, reads tons of different authors and is someone you would enjoy commenting and chatting with throughout the week on different platforms. If you don’t believe me, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “Hi, I’m Melanie! I have an unhealthy obsession with signed books. There is nothing better than a rainy day filled with coffee and books. I play way too much League of Legends. I am constantly daydreaming of new tattoos. And I think unconditional love is the most powerful force in the world. I’m also terrible at describing myself. The first thing you’re probably wondering is “why Mel To The Any?” Well, the short answer is that that has been my gaming ID on everything since I was in middle school. I’m now in my late twenties and far too lazy to change everything that I’ve accumulated for almost two decades. Also, I like it and that’s enough for me. I’ve been in love with reading my whole life. In 2009 I started my Goodreads account and discovered I loved reviewing books, as well. I don’t consider this a job, it’s just my passion and an amazing hobby that I am very blessed to be able to do.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I 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. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 8 – Considerate

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Considerate: careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others

I am considerate, probably to a fault, in most situations. It’s how I was brought up, instinctual at this point. It isn’t something I have to remind myself to be or do:

  1. Whenever I’m passing through a doorway, I let the other person go first. And on the way out, I turn around to verify there’s no one else before I let go of the door. Who just walks through a door and assumes the next person will catch it? If you don’t, you’re rude.
  2. I always say hello and goodbye when greeting someone. It’s not just the right thing to do, it sets the tone. If you ignore someone, (s)he may get defensive. If you forget, (s)he may think less of you. Why not use a couple of words to make it brighter?
  3. Toilet seat always gets put back down.
  4. I serve someone else before I serve myself.

My momma taught me the right way of doing things. And no, I’m not from the South. Born in Florida, but most folks tell me that doesn’t count.

But it goes beyond the “trivial” things I’ve noted above. I think about how my actions will impact someone else. It doesn’t mean I always choose the right thing, but I definitely make a conscious choice to do the wrong thing rather than it just happening without my oversight and/or control. I always know it’s wrong. Not like something happens and I respond, “oh, I didn’t know that would hurt you.”

It’s important to think about others and not just your own needs, wants and desires. I’m by no means a “goody two-shoes” – sidebar, where did that term come from? Someone please tell me so I don’t have to look it up myself – but I’m definitely only one step removed from that wonderful little shine.

It takes effort for me not to be considerate. I find it hard to believe someone is born or taught to be inconsiderate. Maybe if someone took advantage of you once too often, you might become less than considerate as your general approach. I suppose I could understand that type of learned behavior, but if I realized that about myself, I’d make an effort to course correct it somehow. Not everyone is that lucky though, and I realize so.

People do take advantage of others. Letting someone else keep paying for things. Doing less than your fair share of the effort or work. I couldn’t do that without thinking poorly of myself. I start out with every relationship is 50/50, whether it’s a boss/employee, family, friend or spouse/partner. When you cook, I clean the dishes. When you do the laundry, I fold it. When I repair something, I expect you to clean up the leftover mess.

That said, balance moves from time to time. When one person is super busy, the other can pick up the slack. These are things that should just be normal, natural, you know, consideration being given and applied.

When is it acceptable NOT to be considerate? Ah, tough question. What if someone else doesn’t do their fair share of work, can you really just leave the dishes sitting there for them to do when you know they have to get up early? Do you perhaps be less than honest or lie if someone has a habit of asking too many favors and never returning them? This is probably where I can be less than considerate. I have a bit of a policy such that when you do something hurtful or neglectful or thoughtless to me, I have been known to consider behaving in the same manner. Not always. And not after just one instance. But when I feel like I’m doing more of the work or putting in more of the effort, then I will eventually pull away and let you suffer on your own – assuming it’s not something serious.

Is that the right response? Should we always live that golden rule and not retaliate? It depends… some people learn by observation, some by action and impact. If you’ve told someone what they’re doing is inconsiderate, and they still do it, do you really, really, really have to do the right thing? Whether it’s the right response or not, I tend to think it’s fair to stop doing the right thing for that person on a go-forward basis.

I was tempted to start chatting a bit about phone, email and text message etiquette and consideration, but I think I’ll save that for another whole sub-topic under communication. After all, it’s only fair and considerate that I keep each post focused and of proper length, right?

And in honor of being a good considerate chum, if there’s a characteristic you think I should talk about, please ping me! It’s not only about what I think. 😊

365 Challenge: Day 5 – Shy

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Shy: being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people

Am I shy? My instinct is to say overwhelmingly yes, but I’m more like the 80/20 rule when it comes to being shy. How so, you ask?

Undoubtedly, if I walk into a room where I do not know anyone, I will find the closest empty spot and attempt to blend into the scenery (wearing those plain colors comes in handy, you see, of course)! Strangers are scary. They want you to talk to them. They look at you and probably make up terribly embarrassing things about you. OK, now that’s just silliness.

Yes, I am shy and I do try to blend into the scenery. I worry about others’ perceptions of me, but not enough that I am overly anxious about it. I probably won’t be the person who initiates a conversation if I am completely foreign to the crowd and the gathering’s purpose is not something I am passionate about. For example… if I were to walk into a crowded room of readers, genealogists, writers, grandmothers, etc., I’d feel comfortable and strike up a conversation. But if I walked into a room of people all waiting in line for something, or an auto parts store, or even a train station, I would not want to interact with anyone.

I don’t get obviously nervous, e.g. sweating profusely or babbling. I just pull out my phone or a book and ignore everyone else rather than make an effort to be congenial. If someone attempts conversation with me, it’s a 50/50 shot whether or not I will respond with any sort of non-verbal or verbal invitation to continue to conversation. I won’t be rude, but I’ll use close-ended answers rather than be open-ended in my replies, hopefully politely discouraging further attempts at communication.

That said, if I walk into a room full of people with common interests, I will initiate conversation. And if it’s people I know, I will also converse and enjoy the time. But I’m not entirely comfortable where I let my guard down. I still consciously think about the fact that I’m around more than 1 or 2 people at a single time and need to be acutely aware of everything I say and do.

However, on some rare occasions, when it’s more than just me and 1 or 2 other people, I do find myself quite comfortable around others and willing to talk or engage in some sort of discourse. And when it does, there have been 3 types of scenarios or reactions:

  1. I’ve had a few drinks such that I’m less conscious of my surroundings but not so altered to the point where anyone would think differently. It’s enough to make me what I assume is how everyone else generally feels: Comfortable, unconcerned, open, relaxed…
  2. I’m having a rather confident day where I feel ultra sexy, handsome, smart, cute <<insert adjective related to wherever it is I am>>; as a result, I feel like I’m standing out for positive reasons and others will naturally flock towards me. (No, I don’t think I have self-image issues… it’s more like… “I’m fine with who I am and being average, but today I see a whole lot more.”)
  3. I’m in search of something that I believe I can catch, conquer, amass, learn or get. Perhaps I was in a bar/club and flirting in search of meeting someone. Or maybe I’m trying to show off certain strengths to convince someone to do something my way. It could be that I’m the focal point among people I’m known for a long enough time period where I know they know my flaws and idiosyncrasies, and I don’t mind it being obvious!

I certainly couldn’t claim I’m 100% shy, especially given some of the things I’ve seen myself do over the years. I am fairly strong when it comes to public speaking. I’ve led teams of over 100 people in the corporate world. I’ve flirted and left a bar with someone I barely knew. I’ve been naked (without having any drinks) in front of a few others for a non-sexual purpose. (A dare… don’t ask… it’s enough to admit it).

But my initial reaction to anything I believe will have people I don’t know is generally not a positive one. When friends suggest bringing another friend along, my mind thinks “scary stranger.” When someone talks to me in public, I’m usually highly aware of my surroundings but at the same time, turning off an ability to hear anyone say something. So while I know there are 3 people in one corner and an exit in another and a cashier looking around for the manager, I fail to recognize 1 of those 3 people just said “excuse me, do you know where ‘x’ is?” And when I do, I ALWAYS respond with “I’m sorry, what?” and an expression similar to that of a 3 year-old being forced to eat vegetables.

I am pretty sure my body language gives off the vibe “don’t talk to me” but on the flip side, when I do know you, absolutely no topic is off limits. You want me to reveal a horrible secret about me, sure… I’m honest and blunt about those things. You want to talk about something deep and troubling, OK, happy to cover how it felt to have a kidney stone at 8 years-old screaming “what the hell is coming out of my #$#@.” (I got a puppy out of it because no one believed me when I said I was peeing blood!) I’ve got super high boundaries but they are very easily removed.

So there’s the 20%. A bit disorganized today in my thoughts, but at the same time, I think it probably showcases a lot about who I am.

365 Challenge: For those new to these posts, I’m posting a characteristic I either currently have or I want to have. Check out more here.