Reading Books

My former Amway sponsor said if you don’t read books you might as well be illiterate. I responded by saying I would still need to read restaurant menus, but I get his point. I don’t believe that people who read abundantly are more intelligent because it depends greatly on what you read and how you process the information. Finishing a large catalogue of books from the teenage vampire genre doesn’t make you an intellectual.

In the past couple of years I have been trying to make it a habit to read more and I have been failing at it for the most part. In a book that I have been slowly reading over the past few months it suggested that when it comes to progress anything is better than nothing, just don’t give up. So I made a promise to read at least 2 pages a day no matter what. I’ve been failing even at that but I never mentally called it quits.

I’m on a quest towards self-improvement and progress. For $20 or free you can get a lifetime of information from people who are smarter, more educated and more experienced than you are. All you have to do to absorb their powers is to read what they wrote.

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I don’t know if I’d recommend any of the books I’m reading to many people. Marilyn Manson’s book is the most entertaining…surprise surprise. The other 3 books have good information but can be boring too. Reading internet articles seems to be more practical. I believe books have to be a certain number of pages so that the publisher or whoever can justify a higher cost, and in return you get a bunch of filler pages and paragraphs.

If you want to improve in a particular area in your life, reading the appropriate books is a must. If you’re not seeking out information to improve in a particular subject it means you’re not interested in improving or you think you know it all.

If I was a parent I would be reading books on parenting, children, social sciences or at least a stripper’s autobiography for lessons on what not to do. There’s books to help you with your career but a good sign that you don’t like your job is if you have no interest in doing it better. Who wants to read books on something they hate doing? If you’re not interested in seeking information on raising a better child then maybe you don’t really want to be a good parent?

Today I read 20 pages. I deserve a cookie.

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Forced Discipline

Like many others in this world I have difficulty doing things that I don’t fully believe I have to do which is why most people have Santa Claus bellies and are not very good at anything.

It’s common for prison inmates to become quite muscular because there’s nothing to do in prison besides lift weights. Just within this last hour I came up with the idea of chaining myself near the piano with only a couple of books within arms reach. If I don’t feel like practicing piano then my only alternative would be reading or push-ups. This only works if I throw away the key so I’d have to strategize a way for someone to release me before I shit my pants. I suppose a bucket nearby would handle that issue. It could all end badly so it would be best if I had bolt cutters beside me in case an extreme situation arises like arson or a passing ice cream truck. There really isn’t any excuse not to go through with all of this other than it just seems very unconventional.

Winning Matters

Not knowing or avoiding the laws of life landed me in Nowheresville by the time I was 30 years of age. Life is a competition. If you’re not competing then you’re not playing. If you’re not playing then you’re just watching other people score(I stole that line from a TV show).

The name of the game is being better than others because that’s the difference between feeling good and feeling like a loser. A few try to win but most play not to lose. The common mindset is to tell yourself that you don’t want to win so that you don’t feel so badly about yourself for chickening out. Spectators in the arena criticize the competitors but also secretly envy them.

People feeling inferior about their lives while in my presence should have been my goal in life. It may be lonely at the top but sheep get slaughtered, they just don’t see it coming. This all sounds slightly primitive and unevolved but to believe otherwise is pretending we’re fundamentally different than our recent ancestors. The game changes but the rules stay the same.

 

 

Land of Opportunity

At my first job at a big-box retail store we had a 19-year-old Pakistani immigrant working the auto parts counter. His English was good enough and his auto parts knowledge was good enough only because you didn’t have to know anything about cars. He was enrolled in university at the same time going for his engineering degree.

Just over half a decade later he’s working at Blackberry making use of his university degree. Fast forward another 10 years he has his MBA and now working for another big corporation with some fancy title. I don’t think he’s earning minimum wage.

A lad from Mexico from the same store with similar beginnings also had a similar trajectory as my Pakistani ex-colleague. I’ll bet the both of them did better than any of us Canadian-born schmucks working at that store. We had every edge on them on paper. Comfort often breeds weakness.

Perhaps in the West we’re surprisingly melancholic because we often don’t capitalize on what is available to us. Centuries ago the great explorers jumped on a ship to seek out faraway undiscovered land without GPS, internet or multi-vitamins unknowing of the many horrific surprises that awaited them. We can attempt almost anything we wish, fail, not get scurvy and then have the opportunity to try again. Instead we often seek out what’s barely good enough thinking the comfort and mediocre cultural milestones will glide us joyfully through life. If you don’t dream at least a little bit then you might end up living a nightmare.

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Student

So far I’m as studious a piano student as one would predict judging from my past. In high school I was a C student at best. No one is going to yell at me now though because the only person who would gets paid $50 an hour not to. Included in that $50 is the service of restraining her internal thoughts. I’ll be dead and $3000 richer before he can play a song.

“I have no discipline,” I told her. Like many others I’m a seeker of low-class pleasures like sugar, jpegs, nap time. It’s a recipe for not getting as much out of life as possible. When they speak about me they might say I’m “good” at something but it’s really only relative to the people they associate with. If you’re not good enough to make money from something then you probably suck at it. Someone paying you to stop doing something doesn’t count.

With 30 years of teaching experience she can sniff out my practice regimen with great accuracy.

“You practice something for a while and then you stop.”

“You’re probably practicing the night before or the morning of.”

The sad part is that most of my minimal motivation comes from knowing that I have to face her every week. I can’t go in without at least some improvement.

She says 30 minutes a day is decent practice time. Two 30 minute sessions is even better. In theory I should be able to do this. I want to so I’m going to try.

 

The Losing Choice

When it comes to getting stuff done the host of the podcast said he just does it like it’s not an option. He doesn’t give himself a choice.

“It’s like brushing my teeth. I don’t just decide one day that I don’t want to brush my teeth.”

For most people brushing their teeth isn’t much of an option in the morning but a ton of people don’t do it at night. The consequence if you don’t brush your teeth in the morning is that people will smell your bad breath and from then on label you as the bad breath monster. During sleep hours though the bad breath monster doesn’t breathe fire in anyone’s face. Sure, there might be gingivitis and cavities but that’s down the road. It’s all about the short-term consequences.

However, if brushing your teeth took 15 minutes then many more people would not do it in the morning either. Chewing gum would then be in the pockets of every person. It’s always a question of effort vs reward. In that world people would point and say, “you see that guy? He brushes his teeth….EVERY DAY.”

When we don’t want to do something we bargain with ourselves. Bargaining usually means telling ourselves we’ll do something later or making up our own science. Potatoes have vitamin C, therefore french fries are good for you. If you bargain long enough the costs rise due to inflation and then you have to pay more.

Getting started is the hardest part. Your brain just wants you to save calories to save yourself for more dire situations. Subliminally it’s congratulating you on the 1000 calories you just put in yourself. Look how fat you are. You’re beautiful. You don’t need to change a thing..muah muah. Life has always favoured those who are better than most others. Being better often takes work. During your waking hours what are you working on?

It’s almost 1 PM. I’m going to go brush my teeth now.

 

 

Caloric Miser

For most people it seems that nothing gets done unless there are consequences. I spent many years trudging my unmotivated carcass for 8 hours a day at jobs I disliked doing. Even if I didn’t care much of getting fired the idea of going through that process was enough for me to carry on. Rather than have to sit in the hot seat it seemed easier to just continue on the escalator of misery.

The human mind is always calculating equations figuring out if it’s worth it or not for you to waste calories. It doesn’t know that calories are plentiful. It’s operating from a world 100,000 years ago when you would be desperate enough to drink a squirrel’s blood.

While you brush your teeth and notice your dirty bathroom sink your brain tries to tell you that it’s not dirty enough for you to waste 5 calories on. It won’t easily withdraw 5 calories until your sink is so gross you can no longer respect yourself or until you expect company over.

To get things done you need to get in the way of your brain. You need to remind yourself that it will only take 2 minutes to clean the bathroom sink. You used to spend 9 hours a day being occupied with far more laborious work…so what’s 2 minutes of light scrubbing? Then you close by threatening to call yourself a loser. That’s what I call Art of the Deal.