I had an almost surreal moment the other day. I was at work, teaching karate. It was a slow night, as many summers are. Worse, it’s been really hot, so even fewer students have been showing up. Perfectly understandable, mind you. I didn’t want to running and sparring in that heat either. Anyway, near the end of class I made eye-contact with a mother in the viewing area, and she waved me over.
We had more than enough instructors present, so I walked closer. She immediately looked embarrassed. “I wanted to apologize for my behaviour the other day,” she said. I just stared at her blankly. “I was having a bad day, plus it’s been so hot, and then a big plan fell through. I was feeling terrible, and you just happened to be the first person in my crosshairs. I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve to be chewed out.”
Thankfully she didn’t drop these eyes on me.
I nodded once. “Yeah, no problem,” I said. It certainly helped that I had no idea what she was talking about.
We had our annual show last night. It was great. I am a martial arts instructor, and two weeks ago we finished this year’s blackbelt testing. The test itself spans six hours over two days, and it’s preceded by four months of the most intense training these students have ever faced. The highlight, though, happens two weeks after that final test. We put on a grand show featuring all the new blackbelts, letting them show off and celebrate their accomplishments.
It’s also a chance to get on stage and take a group photo, similar to a championship team.
We rent the high school’s auditorium and take it over for the night. It’s a live show, complete with lights, sound and all the action we can fit in 90 minutes. It also means, though, there are potentially 300 people sitting in the audience, watching, the spotlight square on you, and most of these students have never felt such pressure.
As the audience started filtering in, you could feel the apprehension building with some of the students. I made a joke, trying to lighten the mood, and when one lady saw my smiling, unconcerned face and asked, “Do you ever get nervous?”
I’m a fan of goals. They give you direction: they tell you where you are going, and you know exactly when you get there. Those are powerful things. That said, unlike some people, I don’t set many goals. I don’t have a 100-page bucket list. I could probably write all my goals, absolutely all of them, on a single piece of paper.
See? One single page.
Is this the right way to do it? It’s hard to say. It certainly feels the most natural for me. Having too few goals means you risk not doing enough, while having too many can spread you too thin. Heck, at the beginning of the year I set 12 goals of varying importance, only twelve, and those drained me within a week. I operate far better on fewer but more important goals than many superfluous ones. Continue reading →
Anyone who has ever watched Disney’s Aladdin has dreamed about finding a magic lamp of his or hers own. What could you do with three wishes? It could be anything you wanted, and so the question becomes simple: what do you want?
Also, there’s a good chance you’ve had ‘A Whole New World’ stuck in your head at some point. Probably right now, in fact.
This question is actually deeper than it first appears. Many people don’t know what they want. Some people are so bad at making decisions that they can’t even decide what to have for lunch. Not me. I’m planning ahead. If I ever find a magic lamp, I’m wasting no time on my three wishes. I’ll have them all figured out, exactly. Well, maybe. Let’s brainstorm at least, shall we? Continue reading →
In everyday life, we use the word ‘obsession’ rather loosely. When we say someone is obsessed with something, we generally mean they have a very high interest in something and spend much of their free time on it. We generally do not mean that they are under mental compulsion and are unable to do anything else.
When it comes to chess, at times I was very close to this actual definition of obsession.
I consider this image really clever.
It didn’t happen right away. Though I learned chess at the age of six, I didn’t get fully into it until the age of 10 or so. I was getting pretty good, considering I only played once a month or so, but I couldn’t beat my grandfather. I got close a few times, but more likely I was simply losing slower. I was putting up resistance, not fighting back. I wanted to change that. Continue reading →
I’m not saying I’m cheap, but I’m really good at saving money. It’s basically intuitive at this point, an instinct. In most situations involving money, I automatically, without thought, find the least expensive way to do things. On the whole, this is a good thing; certainly better than wasting money needlessly. However, it also has a rather serious downside.
Perhaps the best example happened back at high school. I drank a lot of pop, at least one a day. If I didn’t bring one from home, I’d have to buy one. There were several vending machines, offering a bottle for $1.50-$2.00, depending on what you wanted. Alternatively, I could walk downtown to Dollarama and pick up a bottle for only $1.00. It’s literally half the cost, so it’s a no-brainer, right?
No brain required, or so I and this image suggests.
Yes, I saved money, but what about time? It took roughly 15min to walk there, plus 15min back. That’s half an hour. To save one dollar, I am spending 30min of my own time. Which is more valuable, do you think? It gets worst, as one time I walked from the library to Dollarama, taking an hour total to make my purchase. I spent an hour to save a dollar. That’s ridiculous. Continue reading →
That said, having a powerful imagination can also be a bad thing. As always, moderation is the key to all things. Having no imagination is terrible; having 100% imagination at all times every day is also terrible, just for different reasons. You need to find the happy medium. I realized this last night, more or less, as I struggled to fall asleep for the six-thousandth time in my life. Continue reading →
I like being right. Who doesn’t, right? It’s a good, empowering feeling. Whether it’s something simple, like predicting the Superbowl winner, or something big, like deciding on what career to go in, everyone wants to be right. I mean, no one goes out consciously to do something wrong, right?
Unfortunately, there are degrees of rightness for most things. It’s a sliding scale, like a percentage. You can be mostly right, or half-right, or 75% right. You can be wrong about all the little details but still get the big picture correct, and the opposite is also true.
Wow, this may be the most philosophy-thing I’ve seen since leaving university.
In addition to being right, this also relates to being good at something. Take writing. You can be a good writer, or you can be good at certain types of writing, say fiction but not academic essays. You might rate yourself as in the top 70% of all writers, and that’s a fine thing.
Unfortunately, I and many other people view that 70% as not an accomplishment but a failure. It’s be the best or be a bust. Continue reading →
When you hear your phone ring, what do you do? You answer it, most likely. Maybe you check the caller ID first. If it’s someone you don’t feel like speaking with, maybe you’ll let it go to voicemail. In any other case, though, you simply pick up the phone and answer it. It seems like a simple question, really.
It’s not so simple for me.
When the phone rings, I completely tense up, every muscle rigid. My chest tightens, my breathing becomes shallow and rapid. My mind shuts off. I completely freeze. This doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, no force in heaven or on earth can move me. You could offer me a lifetime of riches to answer that phone, and I couldn’t do it. I’d want to, obviously, but I couldn’t do it.
Something rather terrible has happened the last three days. Well, maybe terrible is an exaggeration. It’s not as if anyone died or had any health complications. In fact, not a heck of a lot has happened, but that’s exactly the problem. For three days I’ve done not a heck of a lot. I’ve went to work … and that’s it. I have done nothing else.
If I had mad photoshop skills, I’d change that to 24 hours.
I have goals. I was super excited to start 2016 and to start realizing them. For the first five days or so, I absolutely rocked them. I did everything I wanted to and then some. Then I had a busy day at work and seemingly lost any sense of motivation or desire. I have been ‘relaxing’ for three days. Nothing wrong with taking some time to yourself, but 72 hours is a little excessive. I need to get back on track … but I seemingly have to force myself. I have lost all motivation, somehow. Continue reading →