Tag Archives: life

Using Chess To Learn About Yourself

Art imitates life. We all know this, especially if you are creative in any way. You’ll experience something, be it a cascading waterfall silhouetted by a sunset or two dogs chasing a ball and their owner’s attention, and you’ll be inspired to take action. Maybe you sketch an image or write a poem or construct a story. However you do it, the process is the same: experience something, get inspired, create something.

The same is true in reverse. Life imitates art. You see a painting, watch a movie, read a poem and something clicks. You get a fresh new perspective. Maybe you get inspired enough to take action, to do things different, or maybe you just sit back and think new, deeper thoughts. In either case, the very way you see reality has changed. Shift your perceptions and what you perceive shifts as well.

I find this interesting, as I’m a chess player. Chess is a game, but it has artistic qualities. Moreover, it’s a thinking game. It’s a direct portal into your own mind. If art imitates life, then chess definitely imitates life as well.

It’s not called the Royal Game for nothing.

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An Education Powered by French Fries

When you think ‘student diet,’ the first thing you think of is pizza, followed by beer, pop, kraft dinner, ramen noodles and fast food, including fries. In a very real sense, then, most students are powered by junk food, and french fries play their part. Hey, potatoes are a vegetable, right?

It’s also apparently a pin-up model.

When you read the title of this article, then, you likely think exactly that: a student living off junk food, powered by cholesterol, salt and vinegar coursing through the veins. In fact, though, the situation was the opposite: I did not eat a single french fry during my five years of university education, and there’s a very simple reason for that.

I owned my own french fry truck. Continue reading

Fake It ‘Till You Make It

If you ever meet me in person, you’ll likely think the following pretty quickly: I’m very positive. And I am. You might think other things as well. I’m pretty tall, pretty thin, pretty quiet. I listen far more than I talk. I have a slow but constantly growing smile. If you pay attention, you might notice my subtle humour. Maybe you’ll even notice how good looking I am!

Pre August Haircut

That would involve you being blind, or obscenely drunk. Or both.

Mostly, though, people notice how positive I am. People regularly call me the most positive person they know, and many others have commented that they appreciate my up-beat personality. My closest friends and family have used me as a pillar of strength, someone who can prop them up when they are feeling low. My happiness can be infectious, or so I’m told.

But here’s the thing: though I appear positive, I’m not always positive on the inside. Sometimes, I’m not even close. Continue reading

Figuring Out My Life Goals

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

On Being a Martial Arts Instructor

I am a martial arts instructor. That’s what I do. I teach martial arts, mostly to children but adults as well. I also lead fitness classes, leadership training and other related skills, but by and large, I am an instructor. As far as jobs go, this one’s pretty cool, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s great, it really is.

I spend most of my day moving around: punching, kicking, running, jumping. I’m not stuck behind a desk for hours at a time. I get to punch and kick things, and I show others how to punch and kick better. Some martial arts drills look like games, and that’s basically what they are, big fun games. The martial arts are fun, and teaching it is fun. In some ways I have the best job in the world.

Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side. There’s a lot to my job that people don’t see, and it isn’t always fun and games. Continue reading

Living With Raynaud’s Syndrome

I hate winter. I think I’ve established that by now. I also thought it was over. We’re in April now, spring should have officially started, and for a few days that’s exactly what it looked like. It rained every day, but that’s okay, because we all now April showers bring May flowers. Except this week it snowed. A lot. As in, we have more snow now than we had on Christmas. Just shoot me now. Why won’t winter end?

April flurries bring my fury?

I might need to explain the above caption. If you’re not from a snow-riddled place like Canada, you may have never heard of ‘flurries’ before. No, I’m not talking about that ice-cream product from McDonald’s. A flurry is a snowstorm, bigger than regular snow but not as big as a blizzard. We’ve had flurries so for in April. Plural. And with it the associated drop in temperature, and this triggered something I didn’t think would happen again this year.

You see, I have Raynaud’s syndrome. Continue reading

I’m a Terrible Liar

“Honesty is the best policy.” We’ve all heard this before. It’s something our mothers said all the time. Nobody likes a flatter, or at least an obvious one. If you look at the traits people want in a partner, honesty is one of the biggest ones. Everyone wants to hear the truth … at least in theory.

Those Russians have some good proverbs.

In practice, we often face the exact opposite situation. The truth can hurt people. If someone asks, “Do you like my new haircut?” and you think it’s hideous, what do you say? If you tell the truth, you can wound that person, potentially even ruining a friendship. Is a little white lie that much of a problem? Does it really matter? Is the truth more important than a person’s sense of self-worth?

I find these questions interesting, partly because lying is so foreign to me. You see, I almost never lie because I’m a terrible liar. Continue reading

Changing My Life, One Habit at a Time

There are good habits and there are bad habits. By and large, we spend too much time focusing on bad habits. “If only I didn’t do X,” we think, “I would be so much better off!” Maybe it’s over-eating or smoking or watching too much TV, whatever. We spend a lot of time focusing on what we don’t want, on what is holding us back.

A dog not eating food? I smell photoshopped!

Often, when you try to change this behaviour, you find it really tough. Bad habits are hard to break, and brute willpower only gets you so far. There is an alternative, though. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, focus on what you do want. Create good habits. Instead of lamenting on what you should not be doing, do thing you should be doing. This change in approach has, literally, changed my life over the last two months. Continue reading

Rob Ford and the Sanctity of Life

On March 22, 2016, Rob Ford died. He was the former mayor of a Canadian city, and he died of cancer. He was 46. By itself, this doesn’t seem that interesting. I mean, yes, dying young is always regrettable, but he was a relatively minor politician. You wouldn’t expect this to be a huge story, and yet it was.

RIP

Looking deeper, you might recognize Ford’s name and face, even if you aren’t from Canada. For a while, he was regularly mocked by the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and the rest of the late-night comedians. Ford was a walking caricature, extreme in both actions and belief, and he became infamous for smoking crack. Most Torontonians despised the man and his policies, and I rarely if ever heard anyone say anything positive about him.

And now he is dead, and everything has changed. Continue reading

The Trade-off Between Quality, Time and Money

In videogames, it’s common to face certain trade-offs. For instance, you’ll have to chose between having a strong physical character or a magical character. Strength or magic, you can’t have both. More accurately, you can’t excel at both. You are either mediocre at both or you master one at the expense of the other. Some game have a ‘right’ answer, an optimal playstyle, but often it’s just a matter of choice. Which do you prefer, muscles or mana?

In life, there is a similar trade-off in most things we do, though instead of strength or magic it involves quality, time and money. You can define two of these. That is, you can chose a thing’s quality, or how good it is, you can chose the time, or how fast it is, and you can chose money, how much you want to spend … but you can’t pick all three at once. That’s the trade-off.

It even has its own little graphic! The title says graphic design, but it applies to most of life.

Some examples will make it clear. Continue reading