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I’ve read a lot about love and hate these past few days, as if one is good and the other is bad. Love and hate, however, are two sides of the same coin.
If you hate globalization, you probably love your country. If you love Hillary, you probably hate Trump. If you love love, you probably hate hate.
Hate has a place in this world though. I hate intolerance, you probably won’t judge me for that. I hate unfairness. I also hate when people hate the people who hate the things they love, because that’s intolerance.
We all have different backgrounds that lead us to love and hate different things. I have my opinions on what is good and bad. What I love is good and what I hate is bad.
Are you any different? Is anyone any different?
Stand for what you believe in. Lead by example. But don’t forget to be tolerant, especially of those who believe in different things than yourself.
Be visionary, yet practical,
liberated, yet grounded,
efficient, yet patient,
organized, yet flexible,
confident, yet humble,
curious, yet content,
critical, yet positive.
I use the term cognitive exercise to encompass all activities that “exercise” the brain, including meditation, self-hypnosis, and diary-writing.
The brain is a like a muscle, or a collection of muscles, just like your body. Similarly, you have to train these different muscles with exercise. There are many parallels between physical and cognitive exercise. You have to do it often. You want to hit all the muscles. There are a variety of ways to do it, some will work better for you, others will not. You need to consider your goals and choose the appropriate exercises. There’s a difference between doing it alone and with other people. The list goes on.
I’d like to share with you 100 practical cognitive exercises to strengthen your brain.
Some are quick and easy, some will take a little more time and effort. Some are specifically designed to exercise parts of your brain. Some are things you already do, and for these, just approaching it as a cognitive exercise and tuning into how it effects you amplifies it’s effect. Sounds simple, but it works.
- List out things that help you de-stress.
- Think about what you want your life to look at in 5 to 10 years.
- Think about things you have that others don’t and say thank you.
- Listen to music
- Breathing exercises
- Eat. Are you hungry? Feeding your brain is just as important as using it.
- Eat indulgently. Something that makes you happy. Ignore health.
- Talk to someone you love.
- Talk to a family member (you don’t have to love them).
- Talk to a relative. (not parent, child, or sibling)
- Talk to a semi-close friend.
- Think about how when you’re stressed, it’s a chemical reaction. You can mentally separate the feeling of stress from the problem if you practice this.
- Think about something completely random.
- Watch tv. One that’s familiar, that you used to watch a lot.
- Watch a movie. One with a main character that inspires you.
- Clean your room.
- Organize your closet.
- Clean around the house.
- Draw or paint something.
- Sculpt something.
- Send a thank you letter.
- Take a nap.
- Look at old photos.
- Write down the names of people you love.
- Write an email to yourself one year from now.
- Read your diary, or old social media photos.
- Visit family.
- Take a long bath.
- Create a bucket list.
- Create an anti-bucket list. That’s a list of things you’ve done that would be on your bucket list if you hadn’t.
- Do a body scan. Look it up, it’s a meditation technique.
- Cook food for yourself.
- Take a walk.
- Free write. Don’t stop writing for 5 minutes. Keep moving your hand.
- Write down your favorite dishes.
- Imagine a perfect future.
- Throw things away.
- Buy something for yourself.
- Buy something for someone else.
- People watch. Notice demographics, personality, clothes, mood, emotion.
- Approach and talk to a random stranger.
- Toss a ball with someone.
- Clear your desktop.
- Clear your email.
- Organize old photos.
- Play a board game.
- Organize files on your computer.
- Measure your heart rate.
- Do a color scan. Think “red, red, red…” with your eyes open to notice all red things in sight. Then do orange, yellow, etc.
- Read Wikipedia articles.
- Watch TED videos.
- Learn something new.
- Play a game.
- Wash your car.
- Read a book.
- Hang out with friends.
- Grab a drink with friends.
- Dance with somebody
- Dance by yourself.
- Discuss politics with a friend
- Give to a charity.
- Host a game night.
- Hug someone
- Draw your golden circle (Why, How What).
- Drive a different route to work.
- Eat alone at a restaurant.
- Go on a solo road trip.
- Write down a to-do list.
- Scan book titles you’ve read and think about them.
- Take an artistic picture of something in your house and post it.
- Regularly attend a weekly gathering.
- Write down the names of people who can make you smile.
- Have sex.
- Take a personality test.
- Ask people what they think of you.
- Tell people what you think of them.
- “You are who you’ve met” exercise. Write down a list of all the people who’ve influenced who you are and the most important lesson you’ve learned from them. Include friends, family, and even movie or tv show characters.
- Stare at one thing for a really long time.
- Pick someone and imagine what it’s like to be them.
- Do something for someone.
- Get someone to do something for you.
- Build an IKEA table.
- Build an IKEA table with someone.
- Turn off your phone for a day.
- Go camping.
- Attend a music festival.
- Go to a concert.
- Watch a musical or play.
- Volunteer at an event
- Organize a group dinner or happy hour.
- Do a “silent night”. Only communicate in hand-written notes.
- Cook with someone.
- Reconnect with an old friend.
- Play or learn an instrument.
- Write your own obituary.
- Read about the brain.
- Do something embarrassing.
- Write down your strengths.
- Create a vision board.
As you may know, I like writing down 10 New Year’s Resolutions and posting them on the wall in my bedroom by the door. It’s a constant reminder for myself throughout the year.
This year, I kept my resolutions simple. Less specific means I won’t “finish” anything in particular, but my goal here is “progress, not perfection.” Without further ado, my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions:
- Eat Healthy
- Sleep Well
- Work Hard
- Help People
- Have Fun
If I can do these, life is good. Yeah?
TL;DR – have our kids do it.
Every major problem in the world – hunger, poverty, environment, etc. – is rooted in a complex system of intertwined systems: culture, politics, economics, and so on. I assume there are major problems we have yet to realize (or accept as a society), but let’s focus for now on problems we agree upon. The first step to solving any problem is identifying it, but figuring out how to do that is not my goal here.
Dominant cultures in the world today teach us inadvertently to focus on short-term solutions by identifying and celebrating individuals’ achievements. That’s one of many reasons we have difficulty focusing on the greater good and ask ourselves “what can I get out of this?” Today, there are many people doing good for the world, through both non-profit and for-profit companies. Many of these solutions, while extremely useful for the purpose of collecting data (which is very important), are short-term solutions that often ignore the complexity of the problem.
Major problems rooted in complex systems take time to solve. For example, the abolitionist movement of 1844 can be dated back 150 years to 1688 when four people presented a protest against the institution of slavery to their local Quaker Meeting (it was ignored). Many people would argue that root problems with slavery persist today, in a different form.
The point I’m trying to make here is that it takes generations to solve major problems. It takes time for the desire to solve a problem to reach enough people that we act on it. We are wired to think and feel a certain way, engrained in our minds from decades of programming we call life. A logical explanation is often not enough to make us feel a certain way about something. This is why it takes generations to solve major problems.
We don’t act on what we understand, but what we feel. In order to feel a certain way, we must be exposed to it before we are programmed to feel another way. This is why we need to teach our children about the problems in this world, so not only do they understand it, but they also feel it. Perhaps even our children’s generation won’t reach a tipping point, so we must teach them to teach their children. We won’t solve any major problem in our lifetime, so let’s at least make sure we, as a human race, continue to tackle it, without giving up or forgetting.
Sometimes I get jealous of trees.
Because they never have to ask themselves, where am I going?
They’re in one place, their whole life, and they don’t really have a choice.
So I guess there’s no point in wondering if they’re in the right place.
As far as they’re concerned, it’s the only place.
Maybe I should be glad I have a say in where I’m going to be.
Or do I?
When it comes to life, it’s all about balance. At least that’s what I’ve come to conclude based on my current life experiences. As with anything, it’s subject to change.
For every piece of advice I’ve read or received, I’ve heard the opposite. Given the context, they usually both make sense to me. When a Texan tells me to eat steak, that’s great advice. So is the advice from a vegan yogi not to eat steak.
I’ve noticed that when someone gives advice, they tend to have needed to follow it in the past. People who’ve overworked themselves before tend to talk about the importance of life-work balance. Someone who recently got off the couch to start pursuing their dream will talk about the importance of working hard to get what you want.
Optimism and realism, efficiency and patience, organization and flexibility, confidence and humility, curiosity and content. Those are a just few things I find myself constantly trying to balance.
At the beginning of 2012, I wrote down 10 New Year’s Resolutions and taped it on my wall. At the end of the year, I reviewed my resolutions. I started this process without a specific outcome in mind, but found that I learned a lot about myself, not just from reflecting on my resolutions, but by also taking notice of my reactions as I reflected.
I wrote down 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2013, and here is me reflecting upon them. The one key thing I noticed, is that I seem to be setting goals that are specific to that moment in my life. What I mean is that while I’m trying to better myself, it feels less like an upward motion (which is what I assumed it would be like) and more like a balancing act.
For the purpose of candidness and transparency, this post (and many others) are barely edited. It’s a purposefully different communication method from writing a well thought-out, edited essay. Also, I’m just lazy and would never post anything if I took the time to edit things.
1. Create more art
2. Understand my finances
As embarrassing as it sounds, I had no idea how much money I was spending at the beginning of this year. Over the course of the year, I’ve taken some time to manage my Mint.com account, which alone helped my understand my expenses. In addition, I started using my Simple debit account. I haven’t seen the direct results from this since it’s been less than a month, but I’m proud to say I’m finally enjoying the process of tracking my expenses.
3. Maintain an awesome body
This seems like a rather cocky resolution since I don’t think I have an awesome body, but I see what I was trying to do there. This year, I biked a lot (commuting and running errands), consumed a lot more veggies and fruits (also the occasional juice cleanse), and spent more time doing yoga than I’ve ever spent at a gym in one year. So I’m feeling pretty good about this one.
4. Stress less about small things
Perhaps it’s the yoga, perhaps it’s the meditation, or perhaps it’s being surrounded by amazing friends I call family. I don’t even remember why this was a resolution. I feel pretty much zero stress right now. #WINNING
5. Help 100 entrepreneurs
Thanks to the amazing opportunity Coloft gave me, this one was a breeze. I’ve set up approximately 50 classes this year, averaging approximately 15 or so students, which comes out to well over 100 entrepreneurs I’ve helped, even while taking into account students who’ve attended multiple classes. In addition, I had the honor of teaching the Santa Monica Youth Tech Academy this Summer, mentoring SW Next, guest lecturing at university classes, and I had the time to create a resource guide for entrepreneurs.
6. Make more strangers smile
I can’t say I crushed this one, because I’ll admit: sometimes I’m not in the mood to entertain strangers. I guess that’s okay though. I smile and dance a lot, which I notice is sometimes enough to put a smile on a stranger’s face.
7. Trust myself, my decisions, my path
This is another one that I apparently crushed, because at this moment it seems silly that this was even on my resolution list. I have nothing but faith in myself, my decisions, and my path. I guess it’s a good reminder that sometimes we do question ourselves, but that we also have the ability to bounce back.
8. Thank my friends often
I think I’ve done a good job with this. I feel like I’m constantly having the conversation with my friends about how lucky we are to have each other. I wish I did a better job keeping in touch with friends I don’t see often. I kind of tackled that during Christmas when I made a “Naughty & Nice List” (because all my friends are both naughty and nice. lol), which ended being almost 200 people. I spend most of Christmas day individually texting people, and managed to reach out to 100+ friends on that day alone. Since it wasn’t in any particular order, I definitely missed some people I wish I’d reached out to, it’s better than not reaching out to anybody at all.
9. Do awesome shit
Killed it. I feel like I did nothing but awesome shit this year. Coachella, running a school for tech entrepreneurs, Lightning in a Bottle, teaching high schooler’s entrepreneurship, biking regularly to free pier concerts during the Summer with a big group of friends, throwing awesome house parties w over 100 people, traveling to EDM shows by party bus (at a water park in Arizona, on the beach in Huntington, and on a boat in Newport), starting the local Code for America meetup, organizing Startup Weekends, organizing Civic Hackathons, dancing the night away at Desert Hearts, weekday game nights with friends, pumpkin carving parties, orphan thanksgiving potluck dinner, christmas decorating, and so much more…
10. Dance more
I’m dancing so much, it’s not even funny. Coachella, Wet Electric, Lightning in a Bottle, Nervo, Boatylicious, Swimming with Sharks, Desert Hearts, Chainsmokerz, White Panda, Candyland… and all those small dance sessions with friends. Life’s one big dance party.
Extra Credit: Be happy
Is this even a question? I’m happy as a camel on Wednesdays, everyday of the week.
The book Tuesday’s With Morrie, which I read in middle school, was life changing. It got me to think and talk about all the things that I think now are some of the most important things to think and talk about.
Mitch, in the book, meets with Morrie every Tuesday, and each week they talk about a different topic:
- The World
- Feeling Sorry For Yourself
- Fear of Aging
- How Love Goes On
- Our Culture
How often do you talk about these things? Are these the most important things to talk about?