Blame.

Life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, but, who’s to blame?

Life doesn’t always go as well as we hope it does. Often, just when things are going smoothly, something will happen to muck it all up. It happens. That’s life. What do we do when things don’t go right, though? Often, we look for the reason it happened, and just as often, we fail to look at ourselves.

How often do you hear people blame some outside force for what happens in their lives? There are small things, like blaming the train or bus for your lateness to work; or blaming the dog for eating your homework. Those are small everyday things, and they generally get put into the category of Excuses. The thing with these is that everybody knows they are excuses. Oh, the train was late? You should’ve caught an earlier one. Your car broke down? Maybe you should’ve maintained it better. People don’t pander to these things.

Why, then, don’t more encompassing things get relegated to the Excuses bin? A common one I hear, often used by awful people about why they’re awful, is their upbringing. People without a father growing up are supposed to be given a hall pass to be lower achievers? Apparently, lacking a father suddenly makes you go out and commit crimes or engage in otherwise illicit behavior. Why is the crime rate higher among people raised by single mothers? Should we lay the blame on women?

Of course not. We’re smarter than that. To whom, then, shall the blame fall? A common one is society, or The System. The system is designed to keep people down, they say. It’s especially designed to keep down those of certain racial backgrounds.

I grew up in that system. Moreover, I grew up in the same household as someone who constantly blames the system. Both of us had no father figure. We had the same mother, who was single and went to work. Both of us had the same level of opportunity. He chose gang life and crime. I, while often invited to take part, did not. He’s been in and out of jail multiple times, and I, despite times of extreme hardship, and opportunity to commit crime, have not.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect. I have anger issues. I used to punch holes in the walls of my home every day. Thing is, I could have blamed a number of outside forces and not helped the problem. I could have blamed…

The System.

Lack of a father figure.

A negative home environment.

Bigotry.

Rich people.

Bullies.

My depression.

My anxiety disorder.

Poverty.

Instead, I paid attention to my triggers, and instead of trying to rid my life of them, I developed resistance to them. I rarely punch walls anymore, or anything, for that matter.

It might sound a little absurd, but most personal problems can be handled that way. It simply takes a little maturity and introspection. Oh, and patience. Tons of patience.

Maybe a little bit of personal responsibility, too.

It’s easy to talk about solutions to problems. It’s far easier to blame something or someone for them. How often did you hear people blame Obama for their financial woes? How often do you hear people blame Trump for random thugs committing violent acts in the name of freedom? How often do you hear people blame every current president for the country getting worse?

Not a single one of them has a real solution though.

Maybe if they worried about themselves instead of everything they can blame, they’d find a solution to their own problems real quick.

Making a better you takes work, and it takes knowing that the current you is not the best one. Aren’t you worth the work?

On Beards

Beards.

Apparently, something we can do in our sleep and without effort, contributes to our manliness. It’s become a meme unto itself. Just google beards, and you’ll see endless graphics on why only real men have beards, and how if your man has a beard but doesn’t know what this car part is, then he’s not a man.

I tend to disagree. These days, when I encounter a stranger with a big, bushy lumberjack-esque beard, he’s starting off in the negatives with me. Now, I realize that right away, half of you out there are getting in a huff, and likely untucking your flannel shirt from your skintight jeans to cool off, but hear me out. There were, are, and always will be, men who are not really men. Just as there are women who are not really women.

The term Beta Male gets thrown around a lot. It’s meant to denote a man who is deeply submissive, particularly to women, and gets offended over things that have no effect on him whatsoever. I still believe in the term, despite its growing unpopularity in today’s society. It describes many postmodern third-wave feminist males perfectly.

Feminized beta males have latched on to beards like third-wave feminists have latched on to armpit hair, as a way to passively gain man points. They still act the same, still carry signs that say HER BODY HER CHOICE at an anti-Trump protest, still tell their gross female friends that their period blood omelet is a-okay, and that they’d love to try some but too bad they’re vegan. They wear flannel shirts because lumberjacks are manly. They do Crossfit because kipping looks like real exercise to them.

They hide behind big, fluffy, unkempt beards in the hopes of fooling the people that see them. In the hopes of fooling young “woke” girls into sleeping with them. A guy used to have to learn to play the guitar and break it out at parties and play Wonderwall to get a girl. Now he just grows a beard.

I used to be a massive beta male. I know what one looks like. I know what it feels like in their skin. I know they think they’re legit. I did, back then. I thought my brother was a sexist pig because he sexualized Chantal Kreviazuk instead of embracing her music. I used to put women on a pedestal.

Side note: You can be a good singer, have a true message, and have a nice ass. Not you, though, J-lo. You just have the nice ass.

I grew up. I realized that my childish thoughts weren’t really in line with living a happy productive life. I’ve found that since then, a lot more people find me easy to get along with as well.

I also still have a beard, but it’s well-groomed and defined. It looks better on me than a bare face, and it shows I can take care of myself beyond the basics.

I’m looking forward to the day when beards are once again not just a fashion statement. When I can look at another man and know he grew one because he genuinely likes it rather than what he thinks it says about him.

In closing, I have a daughter who could fix most basic problems on a car like changing tires, brakes, and lights, when she was three. She also ran my jigsaw when I renovated one of our bathrooms. She doesn’t have a beard. She’s six now, and more manly than half the bearded dudes out there.

Maybe the man makes the man, and nothing more.

You can McFeast in Valhalla

This might be a long one. I’m also trying a new format, where I link to the things I’m referencing.

There’s an ever-growing and obnoxious subgroup of people. They walk around looking tired or stressed, and will tell anyone around them that they only slept two hours last night, or that they didn’t even sleep at all. In a group, they compete over who has worked the most hours on the least sleep. I’ve done it before. I once stayed up for six days straight(working a night shift at a prison). By night four, I was pouring an entire 80 Hour Energy(citrus-y heaven in a bottle) into a Mountain Dew twice a night. The flavor alone could wake the dead. I called my Sergeant at 3 AM on night seven, because I had begun hallucinating. I was seeing cat people wandering the pods. I had been the first book in the Tide Lords series, by Jennifer Fallon, and apparently the slave race in that book had embedded itself in my mind.

I digress. I was running on caffeine, yes, but I was also sustained by the knowledge that others knew the sacrifice I was making of my relationship with sleep. Look what I’m doing for my professional life, at the expense of my health. It’s fairly childish, along the lines of twice-as-much-in-the-same-place, uphill-both-ways. It’s kind of jumped the shark, too. More and more, people are complaining about that person. Not only do they not want to be compared to that person by the company, but they don’t want to deal with that person either.

This Wakeful Warrior tends to survive on caffeine and junk food. They run to McDonald’s or the local gas station, or, if they can’t leave the premises, the vending machines will have to suffice. Rarely do you see this person bring a lunch from home. They’re too busy hustling. While their health declines, though, their profits don’t often go up in a commensurate manner. That’s okay. Sleep is for the weak. They’ll McFeast in Valhalla.

Thing is, balance is what’s necessary. Many millionaires will tell you that they did work harder or longer than the average person, but not by much. Their work/life balance was still in order. Listen to the Dave Ramsey Show long enough, and you’ll find that he talks to a lot of millionaires who made it theirs through consistency, rather than destroying their body or mind for it. People making 60K a year as a couple. Ordinary people.

In Bronnie Ware’s Regrets of the Dying, in which she has spent years speaking to those on their deathbed, it is notable that Working Too Much is second only to Living to the Expectations of Others. Oddly enough, the two go hand in hand.

That guy at the office, talking about how little sleep he’s working on, or how many doubles he’s done this week, seems to be fishing for compliments. Or sympathy. He’s trying to outshine everyone else’s expectations of themselves. He’s trying to outrun the company’s expectations of him. If he were only doing it for himself, he wouldn’t talk about it every day. He’ll be lucky if he gives himself time to regret it.

I’m currently experiencing my own state of cognitive dissonance in the wake of my recent job loss. My wife decided to go out and find herself a job that exactly replaces the wages lost from mine, and it’s a cushy one, too. She decided it was high time that I stayed home and got a few books written while I keep the house up. I want to do that, and plan on taking advantage of it, but the role I’ve played for so long and the expectations of those around me are causing me to be irrational about the situation. I need to stay focused on what’s best in the long run, as my writing will likely yield far more than any job I could get.

In the long run.

Here’s hoping I can find some balance.

For now, I’m signing off.

On Motivation

Most people think they know their motivation. Do you?

What motivates you?

Motivation is not just a buzzword. Your motivation is a deeply personal thing that only you truly know. You might not even know what it is, and this lack of knowledge could be what keeps you from reaching your true potential.

These days, in the United States, it seems like most people are motivated by bills, and keeping up with the joneses. There is such a desire to look successful even when you’re not, that people will work miserable jobs, long hours, and have an overall unfulfilling life.

When these people were in elementary school, and the teacher asked what they want to do, how likely is it that one of them said, ” I want to watch my hours burn away in a mailroom, and then working in front of a fryer, while my friendships erode around me”

More likely they said they want to be a firefighter or a police officer or a doctor. More likely their answers were rooted in the desire to do a job they’d enjoy rather than the desire to pay the bills using the job as a vehicle.

Are you doing what you like right now? If not, are you pointed in that direction?

You ought to be. If you hate your job, your free time ought to be spent finding a new one. A more fulfilling one. Maybe even a career. Your free time could be used to make yourself better for the life you want. School, or online coding classes, anything that will help you become the person you want to be.

I’ve found my motivation. My motivation is joy. Over the next few years, you’ll learn more about me, and you’ll see why it took three decades to figure this out, and why it’s such a revelation to me.

Until then, go seek out your motivation.

Taking Control

Happiness comes to those who control their lives rather than letting their lives control them.

The happiest people I’ve known or seen have been those who took control of their life. They were either born into a family that valued that way of doing things, or they got tired of how life was treating them and decided to take control for themselves. However it happened, it has always ended positively.

One thing that makes these people happy is the paradigm shift from ‘things you have to do’ to ‘things you choose to do’. Joe Rogan, a famous comedian and TV show host, doesn’t have to make a podcast every day. He could easily stop, or drop his production down to once a week, and his fandom would not disappear. His life would not change much at all if he completely stopped doing what he is doing and changed paths. He chooses to do a podcast each and every day though. He’s almost got a thousand up.

There was a time, however, when he had to do things. He had to take a TV or promotional contract, or he’d lose his house.

Most of us are at that point right now. We’re in debt up to our eyeballs, and working just to stay afloat. It’s funny, though, to see that there are people making minimum wage to support their family in the same exact boat as doctors who can’t stop spending money. It’s a distinct lack of control.

Believe it or not, there are people out there making minimum wage who have their lives in order. They choose a simple, no-hassle job and a simple life. They are happy, and in control. I’ve known quite a few. Those who are unhappy and out of control have bought an Escalade when they make less than 2000 a month. The bank who owns the truck is in control.

My wife and I have two vehicles. One is this beat up old Pontiac that is practically falling apart. It has great A/C and comfortable seats, but looks like it got chewed up and spit out. The other is a pretty Volvo with leather seats and a sunroof with okay A/C that was given to us. My wife will drive the Pontiac instead of the Volvo. To her, the Pontiac represents our ability to control our lives. It is something we bought and have paid off. The Pontiac, warts and all, gives her pride. The Volvo, no matter how pretty it is, feels like dead weight to her.

Controlling our lives is not always pretty. It always starts with working harder than those who are not in control. It always starts with risk, fear, hardship and the unknown. Eventually, though, the path we create straightens out. It aligns with us, and points where we want it to.

Are you in control? Are you honing your life to the fine point it needs to be for you?

Two Kinds of People

A tale of two mindsets.

It’s a beautiful sunny day. Big, fluffy white clouds are in the bright blue sky, it’s a comfortable 85 out, and two friends meander down the sidewalk, sharing a laugh about something in their conversation. A beautiful vehicle drives by, and they both stop to silently admire it.

One says, to the air in front of them, “What a beautiful car. One day I’m gonna buy one of those. I’ll work my butt off till I get it.”

The other says, “What a beautiful car. Why should that guy get it and not me? Is he better than me? I deserve that car!”

This duality of viewpoints is common all over this great country of ours. It is easily found on the news, in TV shows, and in politics. You, the reader, and your best friend may even have this duality between you.

While it is great to have differing views in this world, in this case, the one borne on pettiness and jealousy is terribly wasteful. Sadly, this is the one that appears to be gaining ground in our modern age. In 2017, people are inundated with instant gratification. Those who play the long game are becoming fewer, and quieter, while the latter are becoming more vocal and gaining platforms with which to spout their detrimental views to like-minded masses.

This blog is an attempt to bring together those people who value personal responsibility. Each day we will cover something to add to the growing conversation of personal responsibility, providence, and presiding over our flocks with mindfulness.

Until next time, keep honing your life.