The truth about white privilege

It seems lately that the term ‘white privilege’ is being thrown around more extensively. Debates, arguments, and discussions from every corner of the country are using this term. But is the thinking behind this term legitimate?

Until recently, I didn’t understand what people meant when they called me “privileged” (I’m Caucasian). I took offense to it, as most do because the meaning is ambiguous. The impression made by the term is insulting. Are they saying I didn’t put in any work for the things I have, or that my parents didn’t work for what they have because of our skin color? That kind of thinking in 21st century America is undeniably racist. We all enjoy the same freedom under the law.

But it turns out, this is not the intended meaning for most people using the term. Instead, what they mean is this: white people enjoy easier access to success and exemption to stereotypes because of their skin color.

In some respects, this is true. There are stereotypes hindering certain ethnicities and minorities from achieving the same things. Black people are drug dealers, Hispanics are illegal immigrants, white people are racist. But we all know these statements can’t be true when used to cover an entire group of people; in fact, when used as a generalization, no stereotype would remain true.

The term ‘white privilege’, far more often than not, is used as a discriminatory term aimed at demeaning people with white skin color, delegitimizing their beliefs and accomplishments, and propping up another skin color in order to compensate for the gap in opportunity. In other words, it is revenge attempting to level the playing field of inequality — which does absolutely nothing. Instead, let’s find the root cause of this inequality.

It’s easy to differentiate opportunity gaps using only skin color, but they extend much further than one physical attribute. In fact, I think the socioeconomic disposition in America is caused by many associated factors.

Here are a few of them that contribute to an opportunity gap.

Education

Straight from the National Center for Education Statistics, here are the high school graduation rates by ethnicity (2014-15 ACGR):

White: 88%

Asian: 90%

Black: 75%

Hispanic: 78%

We see here that Asian Americans are graduating at the highest rate, while African Americans are graduating at a rate of only 3 people for every 4.

Employment

Following are the calculated unemployment rates in America, by ethnicity, straight from an October 6, 2017, news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Asian: 3.7%

Black: 7.0%

White: 3.7%

Hispanic: 5.1%

Average income (2016)

White: $61,349

Black: $38,555

Asian: $80,720

Hispanic: $46,882

By looking at these numbers, it’s clear that education directly correlates with employment and the trend continues with average income. It’s no coincidence that Black and Hispanic Americans have the lowest average income when they also have the lowest high school graduation rate. On the other hand, Asian Americans make almost 20K more per year than the second highest demographic. Why is nobody is calling for awareness to be raised on Asian privilege?

To a large extent, the above factors can be controlled by the individual. For example, a student is responsible for paying attention in school and keeping their grades up, right? They do so in order to eventually get a good job.

But who teaches kids responsibility? Traditionally, these values are taught in the home by the parents.

Percentage of children in one parent households according to the US Kids Count Data Center:

Asians: 14%

Blacks: 55%

Whites: 20%

Data not available for Hispanics

Clearly, broken homes or homes without both parents have an effect on responsibility in school, and thus subsequent graduation rates. I think it’s also important to note how Asian American families, who financially are doing much better than any other ethnicity, are also keeping their families intact 86% of the time.

I could dig even deeper into this issue but in the end, it will always come back to one thing, responsibility of the individual — whether that be the parent, student, or otherwise.

After looking at this data, the verity of this ‘privilege’ idea becomes clear. “White privilege” is nothing more than an excuse used by those(not just minorities or certain ethnic groups) who feel they do not have a competitive advantage in society and want to place the responsibility for that disadvantage on someone else. It’s true that minorities tend to have a more difficult time finding their way through this society, but it’s not impossible. If it were then we wouldn’t have successful people of every race and religion living here, and Asian Americans — as a whole — certainly wouldn’t be doing so well. I’d say if the above statistics began to level out over the top, there would be very little talk of privilege in our society because it all boils down to personal responsibility.

We live in a very competitive society, but the freedom we enjoy comes hand and note with a healthy competition which, in the past, did well to effectively incentivize Americans.  Every person has the opportunity to make their life better than their parents lives — the American Dream!

Perhaps we’ve reached a point in our society where everything is too easy. Maybe everything has become so simple that responsibility is barely required? In this kind of society, claiming one race has privilege over another when the laws explicitly state otherwise is a conceivable response to inequality — but it’s not the correct response and it’s certainly not the American response.

I’d say if the above statistics began to level out over the top, there would be very little talk of privilege in our society. Let’s just go back to emphasizing personal responsibility instead of faultless victimhood. I bet we’d all be much happier.

What are your thoughts on this?

3 practical driving tips to save you money on gas

How far away do you live from your job? Maybe 10 minutes? 30? An hour? If you fall into one of these categories — or if you merely drive a lot — these tips will liberate you from spending precious minutes and dollars at the gas pump.

I’ve collected my own data to compile this list, but I assure that you will come up with the same money saving results if you follow these tips. Make note that the more aware you are as a driver, the better results you will reap from this information

I’ve put these things into practice for years with my own driving and saved hundreds of dollars on gas money.

Have a steady foot

You may not have heard of a steady foot, but how about a lead foot?

A lead foot is not ideal for gas mileage because the throttle is linear. What does that mean? Simply put, the harder you press the gas pedal, the more fuel is sent to the engine and burned up.

You’re never going to see that fuel again.

Being too aggressive with the throttle will only serve to use up your gas as quickly as possible. Instead, be light with the pedal. Never put it all the way to the floor — and if you really want to save gas — don’t even go past halfway.

You might be thinking, “I wish there were some gauge or instrument that helped me out with this”.

Well good news, there is! It’s called the tachometer and it’s the second large gauge next to the speed. Here it is pictured below. Left side with the numbers 1 through 8.

Also called the RPM’s(revolutions per minute x 1000), this gauge basically measures how hard the engine is working. The higher the number displayed on the tachometer, the more fuel is being used to move the car forward.

 

So it’s easy to see how lower RPM’s makes for less fuel consumption. To keep the RPM’s low, work on having an easier application of the throttle — or as I put it before — have a steady foot.

My rule is to always keep the RPM’s below 2000 (or 2). Although I speed up quite slower than everybody around me, I am saving a ton of gas in the long run by doing this every time I start.

Prepare for the hills

For the majority of us, our daily driving doesn’t consist completely of flat road. To be more realistic, we have to throw in some hills, dips, and slopes.

So how do we prepare for this kind of terrain?

Think back to when you were a kid riding your bike down a hill. You could fly down that thing with no effort whatsoever, all the while gaining speed.

Well, it’s the same way in a car. All of th

e energy used to turn the engine is converted to kinetic energy from the wheels while no fuel is being used.

So when you see a hill coming, slowly begin to accelerate enough to compensate for the hill. Don’t exceed 2000 RPM’s, and upon reaching the hill adjust back to nor

mal cruising RPM’s (try to keep these as low as possible — I aim for 1250). Your goal is to have the speed decrease back to whatever your cruising speed was before the hill.

Note: I would not use cruise control unless you are on flat roads. The car’s computer does not anticipate terrain, and therefore cannot adequately prepare for it.

Of course, this will all differ with the size of every hill but if you drive the same route every day you’ll become accustomed to each part of the journey. After you reach the top, you can use the downhill slope to gain speed without using any gas.

Basically, you want to ride it like a rollercoaster while using the gas pedal as little as possible.

Don’t use the brakes so much

On today’s roads, everyone is constantly driving bumper to bumper.

Not only is this dangerous but it wastes a ton of gas as well.

Be the smart driver on the road. Allow for plenty of room between yourself and the guy in front of you. Why?

How many times have you been approaching a stop light and start braking 15 ft before you reach the light? You come to a screeching stop at the line and let out a huge breath of air once you realize you made it. But then 3 seconds later the light turns green and you start going again. There’s a big problem with this.

Your car uses a whole lot more energy to get going from a standstill. So by stopping and starting constantly, you’re essentially throwing away gas.

Instead — as you approach a red light — start coasting so that inertia will begin to slow you down. It will take much longer for you to get to the light, and it’s liable to turn green while you coast towards it. This way you don’t waste the unnecessary gas by starting your car from a stop. Do this continually and it will save you a significant amount of gas money.

 

There are a ton of ways to save money on gas, but these are the most effective in my experience. Put these into use and start using that gas budget on more fun things!

5 pieces of advice for a new college student

College is an awesome time. Your four years (give or take) at school can be the most awarding years of your life if used adeptly. Nearly anyone can make their way through four years of college, but emerging on the other side a transformed person requires far more than the minimum stipulations. As someone who’s been in college for a while, I would like to share my insight into the key principals required for new college students to thrive. If you are in college already, read these tips and brainstorm circumstantial steps you can take to achieve each of them.

1. Go to class

This should be such a no brainer.

But then you find yourself with 20 minutes to make it to your 8 am and a night full of everything except for sleep backing you up. Dilemma right?

Wait. This is college so that means I can just skip class!

Wrong.

Well, not wrong. But not right either.

Not going to class in college is like renting a hotel room and sleeping on the street. I can tell you that one of the biggest regrets any college sophomore will have is skipping too much class.

Is it alright to skip every now and again when it’s absolutely necessary? Of course! Just don’t make a habit of it.

2. Find your zone

I’m tempted to tell you that cutting out all procrastination is the way to go, but if I’m being honest, it depends on who you are. For some, I would say — without a doubt — start your paper today and stop procrastinating.

I myself am one of these people. If I don’t decide to start it right away, the next step my mind will take is deciding not to do it at all.  Further, starting my work the moment I receive it alleviates a lot of stress that can build up quickly.

That is all good advice!

But here is some even better advice. Learn the way in which you as an individual can achieve a high level of focus and be as productive as possible when working.  I know people who save everything until the night before. They take every textbook they own to the library and have a

I know people who save all of their work until the night before. They take every textbook they own to the library and have a 12-hour session of nothing but school work — mostly work that they could’ve done a month ago.

And the thing is, their grades are just as good if not better than the average student.

I am not advocating for this specific type of strategy, but people who do this understand something very crucial when it comes to getting work done.

A person who is extremely focused can always work quicker and demonstrate better quality work than someone who isn’t focused.

Better focus = better productivity.

If a student can find the place/setting/time in which their focus reaches its highest point, they can finish hours of work in a fraction of the time. The kind of person I mentioned above is simply a procrastinator with a meritorious ability to focus. They have no special skills or secret formula. All they know how to do is FOCUS.

This looks different for every person.

  1. Do you enjoy studying at restaurants and coffee shops or do you prefer your own room?
  2. Do you like to pop in headphones while you work or do you need dead silence?
  3. Are you more productive with a pen and paper as supposed to a laptop?
  4. Do you work better with company or alone?

Do some experimenting on your own to find out how your focus is affected by these different factors.

Side note: Don’t use attention-enhancing drugs like Adderall because the side effects could be damaging to your health. In the long run, they just aren’t worth it.

Whether you work best sitting on the floor of your room, in a loud coffee shop, or in the quiet corner of the library, it’s important to find the setting in which your brain can perform to its full capacity.

3. Friends

Be as social as possible your freshman year. Don’t shy away from making friends because sophomore year and on, it becomes much more difficult.

Why?

There are a couple of reasons this happens. When everyone arrives at school at the beginning of freshman year, everybody’s a stranger (with exceptions). Throughout the entirety of this first year, friends groups are forming and cliques are filtering people in and out all the time. And by the beginning of sophomore year, these groups are mostly solidified so from then on, it’s difficult to change them.

Another reason is, if you live in the dorms your first year, everyone is easily accessible and can hang out together all the time. When you live elsewhere, hanging out with a friend isn’t as easy as walking down the hall anymore. We all know that dorm life can be vexatious, but I urge you to take advantage of the social aspect provided while in the dorms.

4. Learn to cook

Don’t know how to cook?

Well you better light up the stove and start learning or you won’t survive the first week. Unless you live in the dorms or are on some meal plan with your school, cooking is an essential skill for college life.

You hear all of these jokes about how college students eat super unhealthy foods like ramen every day.  But the reason for this is often two-fold.

Yes, they don’t have a lot of money to spend on quality food, but their cooking skill only provides them enough ability to boil a cup of water anyway.

No wonder ramen is a daily choice.

Now for the guys out there, just because you’re a guy doesn’t mean you can’t cook well. I am a guy and I can tell you that all it takes is a little practice.

Actually it takes a lot of practice.

For two weeks during my sophomore year of college, I made burgers every single day.

Every. Single. Day.

Why?

Because I cooked a burger worse than Squidward could play the clarinet. My first burger tasted like a piece of cardboard that was stuffed under a dumpster for three days. But I didn’t give up —  in fact, I even did it with steaks too!

Could I have given myself a heart attack doing this?

Possibly. But it was all worth it.

Because now, when I have money for burger patties, I can whip myself up a nice dinner that doesn’t taste half bad and even makes me feel like I’m not roughing it so much.

The power of food is awesome!

5. Make an assignment spreadsheet

This is more of an organizational tip for anyone who has trouble staying caught up in college. For the first year and a half of college, I kept track of all my assignments in my head. It wasn’t that difficult because I only had 4 or 5 classes per semester with maybe 1 or 2 things due each week.

Then a new semester came, and all of the sudden I was bombarded with a surfeit of assignments and due dates like never before. My memory was quickly tested — unnecessarily I might add. I just couldn’t keep up with all the work. It was like the schoolwork elephant (wearing a nice suit and tie of course) stomped on me and stayed there until I convinced him to get off.

Eventually, I decided something needed to be done and so I came up with an easy fix.

SPREADSHEET!

Don’t you love spreadsheets? They are like a rubric for your life.

I split this spreadsheet up into weeks and marked down every assignment I needed to get done during the semester (teachers typically give you a syllabus showing this information). Whenever I sit down to do school work, I pull up that spreadsheet and look at what’s due that week. Once I finish an assignment, I simply delete that row so I only see work I haven’t completed yet.

Whenever I sit down to do school work, I pull up that spreadsheet and look at what’s due that week. Once I finish an assignment, I simply delete that row so I only see work I haven’t completed yet.

Works like a charm.

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7 creative ways to make money on the side

There comes a time, usually at the end of the month, where we could all use a bit more money in our bank account. Earn a few extra bucks each day and by the end of the week, you’ll have enough for a night out with your friends! Alternatively, putting one of these 7 things into practice could be the difference between barely paying the bills and having some money left over.

1. Let your car be an advertisement

How often do you drive every day? If you’re on the road for a substantial amount of time each day, there are companies that will pay you to put advertising on your car. Companies like Carvertise and Pay me for Driving will wrap your car and pay you monthly based on the amount of people they estimate saw your car. I really like this option because it’s completely passive income. I mean you get paid just to drive your car. Nothing about your normal schedule changes, but you earn around $300 more per month!

2. Work for Sykes

Sykes is a chief provider of customer contact management solutions. Basically, they provide customer and technical support for Fortune 500 companies who want to outsource this work. You can take calls and answer questions from the comfort of your couch while getting paid close to $10 an hour!

Their training prepares you adequately for the job and the schedule is flexible. Perfect for earning some money on the side or even for full-time work if you’re willing.

3. Get a notary license

If you aren’t sure what a notary is, here’s a simple clarification. A notary is a person who certifies writings such as deeds, wills, affidavits, and depositions. Essentially, they attest to the authenticity of documents to make them legally legitimate.

This sounds boring. And it sort of is.

Signing documents isn’t the most enjoyable work, so why should you do it?

Well, because a notary public typically charges $10 – $20 per signature. If you want to make some real money with this, you can become a mobile notary. As suggested in the name, a mobile notary is someone who has to make a trip somewhere to sign the papers. Most often this consists of traveling to somebody’s house. Mobile notaries can charge around $40 per signature with $10 extra per additional signature, but I’ve seen some of them charge upwards of $90. You can choose your rate depending on how far you have to drive.

If you want to make some real money with this, you can become a mobile notary. As suggested in the name, a mobile notary is someone who has to make a trip somewhere to sign the papers. Most often this consists of traveling to somebody’s home or place of residence. Mobile notaries can charge around $40 per signature with $10 extra per additional signature, but I’ve seen some of them charge upwards of $90. You can choose your rate depending on how far you have to drive.

 

Each state has different requirements for notaries, so you’ll have to do some quick research on your state.

On the low price end, if you only did 3 or 4 notaries a week, you’re still looking at upwards of $150 for just a few hours of your week.

Building a client list won’t be too difficult either because everyone needs a notary public at some point for something. Market your services to your friends first, and eventually word of mouth will get around enough to bring you a steady stream of work.

4. Sell your services on Fivver

If you’ve never heard of Fivver, you need to go there right now. It’s a freelance website where people can charge for just about anything. Do you have graphic design experience? Are you a programmer? Musician?

Sell your services for $5 a pop on Fivver.

Seriously, you can do just about anything on here and get paid for it. Are you a good listener? I’ve seen psychology students put up listings for a 10-minute conversation about your problems. All they do is listen and give some advice.

Some of the listings get a bit crazy, but with a little creativity, even someone with zero talents can make money with it.

5. Tutor people online

This concept is equally simple as it is contemporary. If you have an academic skill set(science, math, etc) that you think other people will benefit from in a tutoring relationship, go to one of the many tutoring sites on the internet and sign up(see below for good sites). People who need tutoring — in a variety of different subjects — can sign up and find an expert in the corresponding area.

Benefits of tutoring:

  • Working from home
  • choosing your hours
  • choosing your rate(depending on the company you tutor for)
  • helping people!

Do a little research on each of these sites to find out which one is best for the subject you want to tutor!

  1. Tutor.com
  2. Homework Tutoring
  3. Aim-for-A Tutoring
  4. My Tutor 24
  5. Revolution Prep
  6. Tutorvista

6. Answer questions for 1Q

I like this one because you can log onto the mobile app and do it from anywhere. The 1Q app was created in 2015 and put on both the Apple and Google play stores. Businesses use this app for fast market research by submitting questions for you to answer. Every question answered will earn you either 25 or 50 cents — depending on which you choose. I recommend opting for the 25 cent questions as you will get a higher volume of questions and thus more money. Depending on your demographic, you can get enough questions to make 60-100 dollars a month… for only a few minutes every day. It can’t get much easier than that.

Download for Apple

Download for Android

7. work on Amazon Mechanical Turk

I’ve actually used this quite often over the past few years to make some extra spending money. I’ve made upwards of $300 over the past few months. Please note that earnings from Mturk won’t be enough to substitute for normal income, but if you just want some extra spending money for the weekend, this one’s for you.

Mechanical Turk — Mturk for short — is an Amazon company that uses ordinary internet users to test out different programs, interfaces, and websites. It’s similar to 1Q except it includes tasks too! What attracts me to Mturk is the utter simplicity of it. This work consists mostly of easy, seemingly trivial tasks online or answering easy questions on surveys. You need absolutely no training — as long as you can surf the web and use a computer. After signing up, you go to the Hits page and select which tasks you want to do.

Not everyone will be able to succeed with Mturk. It took me some time to figure out how to actually make good money without sacrificing too much time. I plan on creating a separate post to detail exactly how I do it and how you can do the same thing regularly.

Final thought

Think about your average day. How full is your schedule?

It’s likely that an hour or two a day doing nothing. If you’d like some extra spending money, put one of these 7 things into practice instead of putting that time to waste.

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13 most thought-provoking quotes from fictional characters

Sometimes the most relatable characters, the most meaningful lines, and the most eye-opening stories are fictional. The writers of these lines did an incredible job of bringing their stories to life and connecting with their audience through thought-provoking nuggets of wisdom. For each of these, consider what the writer is saying and think about how it can apply to your life.

 

  1. “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”

– Isaac Jaffe, Sports Night

  1. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

– Winnie the Pooh

 

  1. “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life”

– Jean-Luc Picard

 

  1. “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

-Gandalf

 

  1. If you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see.

-Uncle Iroh

 

  1. “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change”. – Aang.

 

  1. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”

A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

 

  1. “You waste time trying to get people to love you, you’ll end up the most popular dead man in town.”

– Ser Bronn of the Blackwater

 

  1. “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me”

– Joshua Graham from Fallout: New Vegas.

 

  1. “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

-Tyrion Lannister

 

  1. “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

-Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight (2008)

 

  1. “There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

– Kvothe in The Wise Man’s Fear

 

  1. “I know what you would say, and it would sound like wisdom but for the warning in my heart.”

-Frodo

Bonus quote for laughs:

  1. “You Miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky – Michael Scott.

What are some other meaningful quotes you know from fictional characters?

10 money saving tips that will change your life

Sometimes, it can be difficult for anyone to handle their money in a responsible manner. Here are some tips to help you on your journey to frugality.

 

 

        1. Due to modern marketing, new and exciting products are constantly battling for our attention. Whenever you feel the urge to purchase a non-necessity, give yourself a couple of days before you buy it. Often times, the impulse will have passed and you’ll be glad to still have the money.
        2. Whenever you’re about to buy something, think about how many hours wages it cost. If the amount of work you put in outweighs the value of the item you’re purchasing, forget it
          .
        3. Be aware of where your money is going. These days everyone is signed up to dozens of subscriptions that charge you monthly. Make sure you are will to be paying for these. Look at your bank statement every once in a while and actually find out where your money goes.
        4. Every payday, take half of what you have left over after paying bills and put it into a savings account. It won’t seem like much at first, but over some time it will grow into a substantial amount.
        5. Only eat out at a restaurant once or twice a week(depending on how much you make). The cost of those meals add up quickly so by cooking your own food more often, you can save this money for other necessities. When you do eat out, get water with your meal and instantly save $2-4.\
        6. This one doesn’t go for everyone. I am not a coffee drinker so I don’t need to worry about this at all. But the majority of my family (and everyone else in America) drinks coffee on the daily. The problem is coffee at star bucks or your other favorite place costs a fortune after you’ve been there a few times. Try buying the coffee beans and making your coffee at home. Not only will you save a ton of time, but your bank account will feel some relief as well.
        7. Use a credit card for everything! It might sound weird but hear me out. Making every purchase with a credit card will help you build credit. As long as you pay it off every month, it won’t really be different from a debit card, except you will earn $100’s in reward cash throughout the year.
        8.  Make a spreadsheet to track everything you spend. Rent, groceries, utilities, misc. At the end of the day or after a night out, enter your expenses real fast before you crash. This way, you will never be surprised when your bank account balance is at 40 cents. (hopefully, you have a plan to get out of that one). There are even some apps that do essentially the same thing and save you time that you’re not logging onto the computer.
        9. Buy things at the end of the month. How many times have you approached the end of the month with an intense worry that you won’t be able to pay the bills? You think “Man, I shouldn’t have spent $500 on that memory foam mattress”. To avoid this, wait until the end of the month before you buy anything extra that you want. This will teach you to be more responsible with the money you make. Plus, getting the necessities paid for first makes you feel more deserving of whatever you want to spend your extra money on.
        10. Final tip: Do not constantly chase everything you want. Look at your parents and/or grandparents. They didn’t start out with a house full of appliances, electronics, and adornment. Learn to accumulate things over time and take your spending step by step. Build your financial future like you would build a house. One day at a time.

 

Which one of these tips will you use to improve your financial life? What are some other tips you have tried that work well?

21 best pieces of advice for a successful life

Through life, we occasionally come in contact with people whose wise words resonate greatly with us. They impact us to live better or different lives and make us into who we will eventually become. Here are 21 pieces of the best advice for a successful life:

      1. Know who your true friends are, look for the ones who say good things behind your back and constructive criticism to your face.
      2. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.
      3. Don’t worry about controlling your emotions. Control your actions. The experience of emotions is outside our control, but our response to them is not.
      4. Be the person you needed in life.
      5. You don’t get paid based on how hard you work. You get paid based on how hard you are to replace.
      6. The only measure of a man that matters is from the eyes up.
      7. Have more than you show, speak less than you know (this one I live by).
      8. No one who is great at something was always great at it.
      9. Anything that annoys you when you’re dating, you’re going to get from both barrels when you’re married.
      10. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today.
      11. In order to get something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
      12. The person in control of any relationship… is the person who cares about it the least.
      13. You can always tell someone to go to hell tomorrow – Warren Buffet.
      14. If you don’t like what you’re doing, do something else.
      15. The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.
      16. If you willingly associate with people of poor character, you deserve what happens next.
      17. Don’t make promises when you’re happy and don’t make decisions when angry.
      18. Stop blaming other people for your problems and take responsibility for yourself.
      19. If someone is trying to bring you down, it only means you are above them.
      20. Never make someone a priority who only makes you an option.
      21. Sometimes the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else.

A number of these have helped me out in my personal life.

Leave a comment and let me know which one was your favorite and why!

Why you need to spend time in nature

I often think about if George Washington were to come back, what would be his thoughts?

I imagine he would come back and say something like this, “Where is everyone? All I see are buildings!?”

You might think that sounds absurd. There are 7 billion people in the world today as opposed to only 1 billion in Washington’s day. What would make him say that?

Perhaps this isn’t a perfect comparison, but the point I am trying to make is this.

These days, far too many people ensconce themselves inside their cozy little homes all day instead of getting out and spending time in nature.

It’s sad really. I strongly accredit this to the rise of depression over the last few decades. Secluding yourself indoors with only virtual access to other people can (and has) contributed to multiple mental disorders in young and old people alike.

So how do we fix this.

Well, I think it’s quite a bit easier than it seems. It’s all about “positive distractions“.

branches, dolmen, nature

How and why this works

Consider a situation where you go through something hard. Perhaps a rude comment someone made or maybe a breakup. Subsequently, you often go into a state of rumination in these situations. Rumination is simply deep and consistent thought about something.

That rumination leads you to thought paths and to conclusions that you should not go. “Maybe we shouldn’t have broken up” or, “I should go beg for my job back”. Deep thought is not erroneous unless it leads us to silly actions.

A study has shown that rumination occurs in the same region of the brain that generates negative emotions. This brain region is called the subgenual prefrontal cortex. Depression can begin to develop in the brain if rumination continues for too long.

So what can stop it according to this study?

A nice walk through the meadow!(or any other uncultivated part of nature)

The study demonstrated how a short walk through a rural area(not urban) can reduce activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, thus calming the brain down and preventing the on-set of depression.

Find the study here.

Snow Capped Mountains Under Blue Sky and White Clouds

Find your fun

You might be thinking, this is easy for someone who lives out in the middle of nowhere! But what about for someone who lives in the city?

Essentially all that is required for this is getting away from all of the negative distractions in a city. The easiest and most effective way to do this, of course, is to leave the city.

So, taking a weekend to travel out into the countryside is just what you need. You can go camping, fishing, hiking, or anything that will help you forget about civilization for a while.

For me, I have come to love camping after going on a few short trips over the course of a couple years. Because I live in one of the largest cities in the world, it was tough in the beginning to organize and plan these weekend endeavors, but after a while, it became easier and even a spur of the moment kind of thing. I might’ve had a tough week at work/school and knew that I needed some time away, so I’d pack a few meals, a tent, a sleeping bag, and head out to one of my favorite spots.

These trips always give me an overwhelming sense of refreshment and energy when I need them most. I can always feel the mental burden being lifted while I relax, even if it’s only for a few hours.

Conclusion

I think we as humans were meant to spend the majority of our time in the world that has been created for us. When we build up our homes to the point where we rarely need to venture outside of them, our dependency on nature takes a substantial hit. Although, not without side effects as we can see from the 60 percent increase in suicide rates in the past 50 years — according to the NY Times.

The countries with the largest increases?

Developing countries.

Places where people are beginning to learn what life is like in a comfortable home — a place where you can seclude yourself from absolutely everything for as long as you want.

Ok, maybe not as long as you want. We have jobs and other things to do outside of the home but you understand what I am asserting here.

Final point: Get outside every now and again.

Outside everything. Your house. Your car. Your city.  Your life.

Enjoy the world that has been made for you and you will reap the benefits.

What are your thoughts about this?

Why you should never be afraid of defeat

Failure.

It’s the ghost that haunts the minds of everyone who has a dream. Before you see it, you don’t even want to believe it can happen. But once you’ve seen it, you only hope that you never have to face it again.

It’s not that way for everybody though. People who learn the importance of their failure learn to overcome it and are no longer afraid of it.

But how is this possible? How can someone defeat their fears? It begins with identifying the fears which raise legitimate concerns, and those that are only distracting us from achieving our goals.

Let me give an example.

Say you are afraid of getting in a car accident. In this case, you wouldn’t take the risk of leaving your seatbelt off just to overcome that fear. That would be reckless (and against the law). This is a loose example, but it gets the point across.

Another fear could be applying for a certain job. Maybe you think you’re not qualified and somebody else would do better in the position. But this fear is simply holding you back from acquiring something you want, something you’ve worked for.

Fear assumptions

For the example above, I would say this.

Have you met all of the candidates? Have you interviewed each one and evaluated them for the qualities the company wants in their employees? Probably not. So just go for it!

This is what I call a fear assumption. It involves accepting the outcome of a certain action before even taking it. We come to conclusions that we couldn’t methodically come to with the information we have. In the end, we are basically claiming to know the future and that is incredibly ignorant.

Opportunity often disguises itself in fear, when in reality there is nothing to be afraid of. Watch out that you don’t make silly fear assumptions, and you will start to find opportunity you had no idea was there.

Progress

I always like to say that if you are afraid to do something — like in the situation I described above — it just might be exactly what you need to do.

Here’s a little bit of truth for you.

Everybody fails. Everybody.

If I speak to someone who says they rarely fail, then I would feel sorry for them.

Because either they are lying or they’re not even trying.

In order to succeed, you must fail — sometimes over and over again. Ask Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Oprah, etc. People who have achieved much success in this world are at the top for a reason.

We may make fun of them or critique them for things that they do, but in the end, they are not much different from you.

Many times the only distinction is the amount of times they have failed. Be real with yourself for a moment. If you had millions of eyes on you 24/7, how hard would it be to live a spotless life?

The point where their life path deviates from your life path is when they are faced with a challenge.

They don’t give into their fear because that would mean compromising the ultimate goal, the prize they have worked for, strived for, and failed for. They realize the real failure happens upon refusing to get up and try again.

It’s a mindset. Every time something goes wrong and defeat is knocking on the door, it’s back to the drawing board. But this time with something more — another piece of the puzzle that will eventually bring them to their goal.

Maybe you decide to go for that job. Completely prepared and more qualified than any other candidate, but you still don’t get the job.

Don’t worry.

You still have a dream and a vision. Other people can’t always see future value in you and that is OK.

But you can. In fact, you are likely the only person in your life that can see yourself 10 years down the line. You could be the next Bill Gates, but nobody else knows it.

Acknowledge failure

I think we can agree that hiding from reality is essentially pointless. Eventually, it will find us and impose on us whatever implications we deserve — good or bad.

It’s similar with defeat. By simply ignoring it, we are doing ourselves no good in the long run. Perhaps it helps us cope with our failure and move on, but if we get nothing out of it then what was the point anyway?

When you learned to ride a bike, you probably fell many times(maybe not). Afterward, you would contemplate trying again — is it worth it? Won’t I just fall yet another time?

Well if you try again without learning a little bit more about how to do it, you’ll surely fall again.

So don’t simply try to forget fear. Use it. Learn from it so you do better the next time around. Harness it to thrust you on into the future you know is inevitable — and one day — you will get there.

 

What do you think about this subject? Have you seen this play out in your own life? Leave your thoughts below.

 

How do you define success?

What is a life that has been completed? What is a future that has been fulfilled? I could sail across the world and see all that has been built. But when my life begins to wither and my legacy start to melt, I wonder as I look to heaven “Will I even last myself”?

I live in America. The land of opportunity and home to the fearless.

Or is it the land of the greedy and home to the narcissist? I think that is for all of us to decide ourselves.

Either way, this is a capitalist society where the ultimate goal, the “American Dream” as we call it is financial prosperity. This society revolves completely around money. We look for any and every way to get it because we love it that much.

But consider this.

Prosperity corrupts good character. The love of money makes a humble person greedy, and the possession of money makes a trustworthy person untrustworthy. Opportunity turns to greed and freedom turns to slavery.

This is the cycle. The sad thing is so many get trapped in it and so little find their way out. Is there even a way out?

Well, allow me to suggest something else.

The American Dream is wrong(or simply misinterpreted). The way we view prosperity is wrong.  Money is not the end goal on the road to success.

No, I believe success to be something very different. Something you cannot hold in your hand or use to get ice cream on a summer afternoon.

The byproducts of success should not be your own satisfaction and prosperity, but the joy and love you show to others. Because if you are truly succeeding, you won’t be the only one impacted.

Do you want to lead a meaningful life? Do you wish to be successful? Well first, you must know how success is measured. It is not calculated by the amount of dollars you give away, or even the amount of hours you spend doing humanitarian work.

No, it is defined by the way you love.

Let me explain.

Love is not the feeling a player has toward his sport. If it were, he would expect no salary.  People who say they love their cars do not really love their cars. Because if it stopped running one day, they would simply find other means of travel.

What is the one thing that doesn’t envy? Love

What is the one thing that expects absolutely nothing in return? Love

What is the one thing that will outlast every single one of us? Love

When a family member gets sick, do you give up on them? Of course not! You join their fight and encourage them until the day their time is up.

That is love.

And what can fill the void that loved one left? Nothing really.

Because love is unique. It provides a satisfaction that nothing else can. Not money. Not fame. Not your legacy.

Imagine this. You have a bag of apples but only one is left. After this, you will never be able to eat anything ever again. You look up and see a man who is alone and obviously hungry, so you decide to approach this man and give him your apple to eat. That is love.

But what makes love different?

It’s simple. Love has an eternal award.

I will leave you with these words.

 One day when you find yourself with one last breath, just a few seconds left, I guarantee your wish won’t be one last dollar to spend. It’ll be one last evening with your family and friends or one more apple to give to that man. Then your fear of death will fade away as you remember the words they used to say, “there is no fear in love, my death won’t be in vain.”