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Do Hard Stuff

Evolution means change and this process is a fact with or without a belief in God. It is important to constantly evolve both as individuals and as a community. As individuals, this involves doing hard stuff with both the body and the mind on a daily basis. Why does it matter? Because if we don't do hard stuff, we get bored. When we are bored, we become depressed, and this starts with one of the deadly sins - envy. In the modern world, social media has resulted in many, especially the younger generation, becoming jealous of others' supposedly perfect lives, bodies, faces, vacations, etc. This depression and envy is often combined with or followed by anxiety, which involves irritability and that turns into anger. Anger turns us outwards, blaming others for our problems and not taking action to improve ourselves. This is turning us into a society of victims. You are in charge of your life.

Stress is part of life, and stress can be helpful or it can be harmful depending on how you respond to it. There's a reason we have a sympathetic nervous system - it protects us from danger. However, our sympathetics are taking over. The opposite part of our autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetics. Our sympathetics, or our stress response, can be helpful for evolution. Learning how to respond to the sympathetic response, or stress, involves doing hard stuff, which makes stress healthy. Responding to stress by letting thoughts take over makes stress unhealthy.

The approach is turning those stressful thoughts into action. As many of you know, I've been studying the philosophy of Yoga for over 20 years. I even traveled to India by myself in pursuit of the study of Yoga. Patanjali is the author of the book Yoga Sutras, or the thread (suture) of Yoga, the philosophy which joins us with God or, if you prefer, the divine. He defines Yoga as chitta vritti nirodhah, sanskrit for the stilling of the thoughts of the mind. He goes on in the book to define a process which allows this to be accomplished. Without a doubt, the process involves doing hard stuff.

Doing hard stuff with the body involves movement. There is a saying "sedentary is the new smoking". Living a sedentary life will undoubtedly result in poor health. Finding your movement of preference and something you can stick with is crucial. I encourage building muscle. I go to the gym 5-6 days a week and walk at least 10000 steps daily and have been doing this for years. I practice Yoga daily, but asana (the poses) a few times a year, with the exception of downward facing dog, which I do daily. In complete honesty, I'm never excited to go to the gym, but am always happy after. You will never regret exercising.

Progressive overload is a concept in the fitness world that I practice and love. Make your exercises harder as you get in better shape. Examples include climbing hills on foot or on bike, running faster and uphill. Perhaps you can turn your commute into a bike ride. Lift heavier weights as you are able to safely, practice yoga asana and improve your seat (the word "ass" is derived from asana). Use the breath as a guide, so long as you're able to exhale, you're fine and unlikely to get hurt, less a fall occurs. I know lots about falls and have become very good at falling. If you're young enough, I suggest learning how to fall safely. Move every single day. There is one excuse to not move - you're infected by a bacteria/virus/parasite/amoeba, etc. (or maybe you're on a long travel to a far off place). Treat movement as a non-negotiable - like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating, drinking water, etc.

With the mind, evolving or exercising the mind has many options. Just because you're over 25 and your brain has hardened doesn't mean you can't learn new hard stuff. If you're a student studying a hard subject, perhaps you don't need help with this. However, as we enter our careers and our jobs become monotonous, we need something extra. Retirement adds to this challenge, the statistics on death rates shortly after retirement are staggering.

Reading great literature is an option and the works of Thomas Paine and Shakespeare are my personal favorites, although I need lots of assistance understanding Shakespeare. I read medical literature daily, although am disappointed 99% involves pharmaceutical or surgical options. Memorize the countries of the world. Africa presents a special challenge, as does Europe. Memorize the states of the USA and their capital cities. Practice timed math or renew your love and understanding of calculus. Mathematics is the closest thing to perfect that I can think of. Learn a new language with the intention of conversational ability. Study chemistry, biology, physics to learn about how things work. Grow a garden, procure your own food through fishing or hunting animals/mushrooms (careful with the latter!). Learn about the intricacies of animals, plants, fungi. Why does a tree make fruit? Why does a plant have leaves, stems, roots? Why does a frog only have 3 chambers in their hearts while we have 4? Why does a mushroom create fruit, and what is the purpose of the mycelium? Learn or relearn how to play a musical instrument. My personal favorite - get out of the USA and experience other cultures. Another personal favorite is economics - AKA basic human nature and psychology. Free trade amongst humans is our nature (called capitalism by Marx). The USA is not a capitalist country, it is a fascist country. The definition of fascism is when the government is in collusion with big corporations. We are using the word fascist without a definition, in fact, we are using many words in the English language without definition. This is chaos. If you separate yourself from the mainstream narrative, this becomes obvious. Thomas Sowell is one of the great geniuses of our time and his book Basic Economics is a great tool for learning about economics through common sense. If you need to do a project on your home, look up a youtube video on how to do it and do it yourself. Use the internet as a tool to learn, not as a tool to become envious. Memorize phone numbers of those closest to you, when I was a kid I had countless phone numbers memorized because I am Gen X-er. My number as a child was 206-377-6484 (before the 360 was added due to the influx of people moving to the Seattle area because of the monstrosities of Microsoft, Starsucks, Amazon, Adobe, Boeing, and countless others). All in all, there are many ways to exercise the mind. Find your interest, and become an expert.

One of the reasons we are depressed and anxious as a society is we aren't challenging ourselves. People I know, including myself, who are not depressed or anxious, do hard stuff daily. Pain is a part of life, and we all struggle with pain. I have lost some of my closest people and pets in the last decade and am left with very few relatives. But, as it is said, everything is temporary. It is human nature to avoid hard stuff. I visited a Mayan town yesterday where the women would take 3-6 months to make their clothing. We are satisfying our basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing) with money instead of doing it ourselves. My argument is not that this is wrong, but my argument is we need to do hard stuff to make up for this lack of procuring our basic needs. One thing I've noticed in my travels is everyone thinks I'm privileged because I'm American and I feel like I'm walking around with a $ sign on my forehead. I'm Ok with this, but have realized the world has idolized money. Yes, money makes things easier, but money does not create a full life. Doing hard stuff creates a full life, and you don't need money to do hard stuff.

I was watching an extensive interview with Kanye West last night brought to us by Tucker Carlson, a controversial figure created out of thin air through shit talking. I suggest creating opinions by actually listening to a person, not what someone else says about a person or short clips of what a person says. If I were famous, clips of things I say would be used to turn me into a demon too. Kanye is also a controversial figure because the mainstream talking heads say a lot of shit about him and his mental health. Upon watching this interview, I was struck by his kindness, his intelligence, and his careful and thoughtful answers to the questions asked. If you are looking for something to watch that really makes you think, I suggest finding this interview on the internet. Kanye, or Ye, has done a lot of hard stuff in his life. He also has a lot of pain, but is using his pain to procure better things not only for himself but for others.

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