Sometimes the strangest things catalyze epiphanies about life. Take the following example I stumbled across on Reddit:
Obviously (I hope it’s obvious!) the picture is meant to be a joke. However, through the laughter a revelation struck me as if David (of David v. Goliath fame) had targeted me for his divine justice.
Silly Benny, what could you possibly learn from such a funny image?
Why, this I can tell you! In short discipline lets me handle more in my life. The latest example would be how I can fit in a 5 day workout schedule while still practicing my saxophone for 3 or 4 days a week, tutoring a high school student in Geo/Trig, and playing video games. (Of course, going to work and such as well)
It works because I am wasting 0 time. That’s not to say every instant is scheduled out down to the last second. In fact, that would be lame. What it means is at any given instant, if I can take a little bit more thought, effort, and perhaps time to do something that pays off ten fold later… I should do it.
The best example I have is putting things back where they belong when I’m done using things. For a lot of people this is common sense but for those of us out there who continue to find themselves in situations where they’re facing a Herculean cleaning effort it’s a very important lesson to learn. It stands as a fine example of how expending more effort than you’d like now will pay off in the future.
Every time I decide in favor of instantaneous comfort I am adding twice the discomfort later when I have to actually take care of it. So every pair of socks that get thrown aside, every winter coat that gets tossed to the ground, every dish that is not put up properly after use… they will cost me in the long run and while the short term benefit makes sense to my mind, applying some mathematical intuition will reveal that in the long term, the average value of the comfort/happiness function will be higher if I put in due effort now.
The human brain’s reward centers are not so keen on that but if you apply discipline to your life, you will develop a habit of increasing your quality of life.
The Ultimate Conclusion: Success is a Habit
Success is a habit and you can build this habit through discipline. When I decrease overall wasted time by making sure I take care of pressing but little things immediately I open up more opportunities myself. On top of that, I will gain time when I can relax without having to either ignore or suppress any task I need to accomplish, and that’s the best kind of relaxation: guilt-free.
Other benefits include all my bills being paid on time, being able to create time to play video games, having time to hang out with friends stress-free, getting more done at work and saving the company money, getting time to read peacefully, and more.
So really, if you think about it, by being disciplined you can get MORE time to relax! Combine this with a much improved perception of your available time (a topic which I cover some in my previous entry) and how you want to spend it and your satisfaction with life will go up dramatically!
I leave you with this related bonus picture (also found on Reddit):
Previously I mentioned a little bit about words and their use and perception. In particular I talked a about “beautiful” and “interesting.” I tried to explain a little bit about why word choice can play an active role last time but it was relegated primarily to the last section because I was discussing another topic. Well, in this post I can finally delve into it.
And So The Rant Begins
The title indicated a rant about video games and it’s because of the connotation that the term “video game” carries with it. Just the idea that this art form is a “game” takes away from the beauty of the craft.
I’ll be the first to admit that for every good game there are 10 “shovel-ware” games that are cranked out simply to make a profit. Furthermore, as budgets continue to grow publishers need to reduce risk so more sequels and spin-offs are allowed instead of new and original ideas.
This is not unheard of in consumable art. Movies are an easy example. For example, the success of the Twilight Saga versus Serenity by Joss Whedon. Which provides a good segue into TV. The Firefly series versus… well most anything that’s running still. In video games an equivalent example would be Psychonauts versus the Madden series.
The difference arises when you add in the games you find on say, the iPhone. This is where “casual” games and “core” games have come from. The differentiation is a sensitive spot for somebody who considers themselves a “hardcore” gamer. For most people, though, they’re all just “video games.” This is where the main difference comes from where there’s a clear difference between YouTube, TV, and the movies in the video world there is no clarity in video games.
It’s likely something that will come with time. After all, TV has been around for decades and it took that time to develop into the popular perception. People have an intuition for what types of shows and movies are supposed to be good and what types are more poignant/thoughtful/interesting. Same with music. This same intuition has not yet developed for video games and for those of us who are aware of it, life is difficult. Our passion is misunderstood.
Though in truth all art faces similar hurdles. Popularity does not imply quality and this holds very true for much on TV, much in theaters, much on the radio, or anything else you can think of. And this touches on another rant altogether – people are idiots. But it’s not their fault! I promise! (This will be explained another time, of course)
Making it Useful
Video games have the unfortunate circumstances of not having another way of referring to them. What else would you call them?
That being said there are a lot of other things in life that DO have multiple ways of looking at them, multiple words that can define them. An example would be “beauty” and “interest”, the subtleties of which I have taken advantage of to provide a framework for understanding the world positively.
One way this can affect your life is the perception of free time. Most people look at free time as time when they are not obligated to do anything. Work, for example. School would be another.
However, I recommend the following perception: ALL time is free. Well, let me clarify: if you are in an exceptional situation, such as if you are a modern human slave or if you are fighting cancer, you probably do not have this luxury. But if you’re reading this blog post I’m quite certain you are not in any such exceptional circumstances. If you REALLY feel like you are… you’re not. (Unless you actually are!)
With that subtlety stated I will now use generalizations that will apply to the target audience.
Every man and woman is freely given all the time they will get in their life. For the first part of your life you do not get much control over how you spend that time. However by the time you hit high school your brain should be at a level where you can understand the path you are following.
School for example. Don’t treat school as something you are forced to do and everything else about your life happens outside of school. That is to say, your free time does not include school. Rather, treat school as something you choose to do with the time you have. There’s a reason why I mentioned high school as the threshold where you can start thinking like this. It’s at this point that you could potentially have the maturity to understand the role that people play in a society with specialized labor and how education plays into it.
I’m not saying you have to enjoy school, but if you give it the proper respect in your life you’ll find that suddenly you have the ability to do more. What I mean is that if you procrastinate less you will end up with more time you can utilize that is not wasted in the elaborate theater of pretending to do something useful instead of doing homework. The other thing is that almost universally if you want to have the ability to enjoy yourself (or at the very least feed yourself) you need a job, which an education comes in handy for. (It’s not the only way, obviously, but it’s so much easier when you have that accomplishment, and even if you think it’s all arbitrary you should be able to acknowledge that)
Another example is a job. Not many people have the luxury of having a job they enjoy and love. Even among the fortunate, I doubt every moment is enjoyable. Treating it as time you have chosen to allocate that way means you are doing your job and not feeling like it’s entirely out of your control. The choice might be from a necessity to procure money for a family, for example, but that is still a choice you’ve made. Making that choice gives you a lot more power over your life than treating it as a burden you are chained to. If you ever decide to quit and find another job, then do it because you’ve considered it seriously and given it the consideration it is due. How will it affect your ability to maintain your quality of life? How will it affect your family? How will it affect your short term and long term goals and dreams?
School and work might be bad examples so let me generalize and see if it works better.
Does that make sense?
Every instant you have choices. Make those choices with all your heart, mind and soul. It sounds tiring at first but pretty soon this will become habit and suddenly you are living the ideal of, “Carpe diem!” If you want to live a leisurely life, live that life because you have chosen to. If you want to live a hedonistic life, do so because it’s your choice. If you want to be serious, make that decision.
There are a lot of things out of your control in this life. Don’t relinquish control of what you do influence by being lazy or uninformed. Learn as much as you can – and I don’t just mean in school. Gain wisdom and apply it so that you can be happy because you get one shot at life.
You get one shot at life, and then you die.
So make every moment count regardless of what your path is. No matter which way you are going, do it well, do it right.
Some people say success is a habit – I’d argue that happiness is a habit also.
Where do words come into play?
Be deliberate in your choice of words and how you perceive the world. If you’re going to call something or someone beautiful, make sure you mean it. If you’re going to communicate to someone, be clear in your message. Understand what you want when you say you want to “live your life.”
Words are little, mundane things I feel like people don’t focus on very much but they can have such a difference if you approach them deliberately. For example, don’t just call the next person you don’t like a “fag”. Do you really mean that? Don’t just call that next girl who is dressed more provocatively than the norm a “slut”. Do you really know that? Don’t just impulse buy something because you “need” it. Did you really?
People are careless about their words everyday, and they are careless about their life every day. I highly recommend being DELIBERATE with your words because starting from there you can ultimately apply the same principles to being DELIBERATE with your life.
BE DELIBERATELY HAPPY!