My Personal Development Project: Move a Mile a Day

My Personal Development Project: Move a Mile a Day

If you see my Instagram, you would notice that I'm running at least 1 mile every morning.

About a year ago I made the conscious decision to make running a part of my life, the reason being I want to live a long and healthy life. In the beginning, the times when I ran were sporadic. I basically ran only when I felt like it. Sometimes I even took weeks off. 

To become more consistent I joined a running club. This really helped my consistency and endurance. We ran on Mondays and Thursdays, but when it came to the rest of the week, I didn't always run. Again, only when I felt like it.

While that certainly was an improvement, I wasn't running as often as I would have liked to. I think if I truly want to become a lifelong runner, I need to turn running into a subconscious habit. This is why I've decided to take on this personal development project. The challenge is to move at least 1 mile every day for the next 30 days. 

Now, one mile may not seem like much for someone like me, but that's by design.

This isn't about the distance or the speed. Running 1 mile may be easy. Staying consistent is the hard part. It means I have to do it even on my worst days. 

By making it an easier distance, I'm also removing almost every possible excuse. There's almost no reason why I couldn't go through 9 minutes of discomfort every day. If I made the challenge 3 miles I would be more likely to resist even getting out there, and that doesn't help me. Besides, what I've found is that once I'm out there, I'm likely to push myself beyond 1 mile just to make my day's exercise more impactful.

Another reason is that I currently have an injured knee which is in the process of healing. Right now I can't run more than three miles without devolving into a limp. Even though I'm taking on this challenge, I'm also committed on allowing my knee to heal. It may mean that if it starts hurting too much, I will walk that day. Either way, at least one mile will get done. I'll even crawl if I have to.

In order to make this challenge more real, I decided to document it on Instagram. If you want to witness my journey, you can go ahead and follow me there. It'll give me more reason to not give up and you'll get slight doses of inspiration. At least I know I get inspired when I see other people's hustle.  

If I'm successful maybe this will turn into a yearlong challenge, or maybe I'll go crazy and make it lifelong!

Maybe I'll be like this man who ran every day for 45 years:


Featured image by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

Effortlessly Listen to YouTube Videos in Podcast Form

Effortlessly Listen to YouTube Videos in Podcast Form

Have you ever wanted to listen to an awesome conference talk from YouTube but needed the freedom to leave your computer desk? One obvious solution you have is to play the video on your phone, but then you run into the annoyance of carrying around a phone with the screen turned on - not only do you have to be careful to not accidentally touch the screen, but it also drains your battery life. 

Needless to say, this was a constant problem of mine. For some reason, I'm always drawn to audio-centric YouTube videos. If only such videos were in podcast form - life would be much simpler.

Take Be. Busta for example, a YouTube channel about horror stories that doesn't put the visual aspect to much use. This channel would be better served as a podcast, in my opinion. Well, now I don't have to nag the creator into making it available in podcast form because I've found the perfect solution for myself:

That solution is podsync.net

With this free tool I'm able to turn any YouTube channel or list into a podcast. 

So how does it work?

The way Podsync works is surprisingly simple. All you have to do is copy and paste the page of the YouTube channel of your choice. Make sure it's the page that has all of the uploads, otherwise it wont work. Once you enter the YouTube url, you will get back a different url. Then, in your podcast app, go to where it says "add podcast manually" and paste that url. Click subscribe and that's it! Now every time there's a new upload on the channel, you will recieve it on your podcast app too.

The coolest thing about this tool is the ability to have your own playlist as a podcast. This is done the same way. Once you have that playlist on your podcast app, you can instantly send any video to that app just by adding it to the playlist. Check out the gif below to see how easy it is:

Now, when I stream the "podcast episode" it automatically starts to play the video. In order to play only the audio, I have to click "done" and then the play button. At that point it gives me the playback option of video or audio. Once I click audio, it's just like listening to a podcast. I use a podcast app called Downcast, so I'm not sure how different things are with other apps. I do know that this tool is not supported on Overcast. 

I think this is an awesome little hack. It sure has streamlined my ability to consume content that I care about.

If you find Podsync helpful too, you might want to consider supporting the creator on Patreon


Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Why I’m So Interested In Unschooling Even Though I Don’t Have Kids

I love learning about unschooling. I love writing and reading about it. Just in case you didn't know, I'm a single 24-year-old male with currently no desire of having children. So why the heck would I be interested in that? Well, there's a few reasons.

(If you're not familiar, you can read my last post to learn what unschooling means to me)

1) For Self-Knowledge

I think learning about this parenting philosophy is a very effective form of self-therapy because it provides a rational lens through which I can analyze my childhood. 

When I'm reading a book related to peaceful parenting or unschooling, I'm basically reverse engineering myself. Think of it like fixing a poorly built IKEA table. The first thing you would do is look at the instructions to see the correct way of building it. Then you compare that to the way it was actually built. Once you find what was done incorrectly, you can disassemble it and rebuild it properly. 

That's exactly what I'm doing with myself. Peaceful parenting books are the instructions for how to build a mentally strong and happy me. With this information, I know what I need to undo so that I can rebuild myself properly. 

Going through this disassembling and rebuilding process has not been easy. In fact, it can be extremely painful. After all, it can be profoundly jarring to discover just how much I was damaged by my schools and the people who loved me the most.

But, as Nathaniel Branden wrote, "fear and pain should be treated as signals not to close our eyes but to open them wider."

This gets me to the next reason for why I do this.

2) It Allows Me To Properly Mourn

Looking back at my childhood through an analytical lens - thinking and writing about it while simultaneously reading about how I may have been mistreated - has brought about deep sorrow.

Reading books about peaceful parenting is like laying a magnifying glass to your past. It can help you see better but it also has the effect of burning you. For me, it has brought about strong feelings of anger, frustration and sadness. Sometimes it gets to the point where I have to take a break from it.

Ultimately, I think conjuring up these emotions is good, if not necessary. First of all, it's important to understand that those feelings were not created. Rather, they were already in me and I was just bringing them up to the surface. 

One of the many benefits of feeling these emotions is that it helps me restore empathy for myself and what I went through. It helps me understand that it was not me who was broken but rather the world around me. I think this mourning process is necessary in order to love myself once again, or any other person for that matter. 

Another great benefit is that I can use this anguish as fuel to improve myself or the lives of others. 

3) I Want To Inform Parents And Help Children 

As I learn more and more about how to fix myself, I feel the need to pass this information on so that parents could stop making the same mistakes over and over again. I want to prevent as many kids as possible from having to endure the 15,000-hour infliction of schooling. I really don't want for kids to grow up and have to go through the same disassembling and rebuilding process that I'm going through. Or worse, I don't want them to grow up not knowing how they were damaged and then inflict the same damage on their kids!

When it comes to how we treat children, I believe that we have so much to improve on. I believe that much of what we think is an unfortunate but natural part of the human experience could be significantly reduced (or even eradicated) if only schooling and non-peaceful parenting stopped perpetuating it. I don't think life has to be as harsh, boring, and depressing as most schools and parents make it out to be. 

As Alice Miller wrote:

We don't yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people. 

4) It Could Come In Handy

I think this knowledge can be very important whenever I interact with children, even if they are not my own.

I really admire children and am deeply intrigued by them, but I'm not entirely sure I will ever have any. Why? For starters, I still have a long, long road to healing and I don't know if I'll ever be done with it. If I don't do that then I'll run the danger of inflicting the same trauma that was done to me. 

Then I'd have to find the right partner, someone who is strong enough to raise children with the principles of unschooling. 

One thing that I know for sure is that, whether I ever have kids or not, the seemingly never ending cycle of authoritarianism will stop with me.

Peaceful Parenting And Unschooling

Since I'm so interested in peaceful parenting and unschooling, I thought I should take the time to think about it and write down what those terms mean to me. Sometimes I interchange the two which may cause some confusion, but that's because I do take them to mean the same thing. I'll explain.

Peaceful Parenting

On the surface, peaceful parenting may seem like it's just about refraining to physically harm children, but it actually goes beyond that. Peaceful parenting is about respecting a child's dignity and sense of self. This means treating them without judging, shaming, bribing, intimidating or any other form of coercion.

Instead of looking at the parent/child relationship as a struggle for power, peaceful parenting allows us to look at it as two individuals who can work together to get their needs met. Now, usually when I say this I get the response that I advocate being a submissive parent. But that's not the case.

For an excellent explanation for how peaceful parenting works I recommend you watch the video below. I time-stamped the relevant part, but if you have the time I highly recommend watching the whole thing!

Unschooling

The central part about unschooling is to refrain from sending your children to school against their will. It is different from traditional homeschooling in that there is no enforced curriculum by the parent. Instead, it's the child who makes the decision on what he/she wants to learn. While unschooling, it is the job of the parent to pay close attention to the child's interests and to facilitate their learning experience with emotional support and resources. 

Unschooling recognizes that schools in general damage the child's natural creativity and love for learning about the world.

Why They're The Same

Just like peaceful parenting, unschooling comes with the recognition that children are their own individuals who deserve just as much respect as any other person. You can't have unschooling without peaceful parenting. 

The reason why I think of those two terms as the same thing is because unschooling is basically peaceful parenting taken to its logical conclusion. Afer all, I don't consider it peaceful to force a kid to go to school and learn things that he is not interested in.

I know there are conscious peaceful parents out there who still send their kids to school against their will, but I think they are being inconsistent with their philosophy. Maybe they fear that their child will not learn important things, or maybe they don't have the necessary time and resources required. If it's the former I'd encourage them to take a look at the thousands of now adults who were unschooled who managed to do just fine in the real world. If it's the latter, it's perfectly understandable. As long as they recognize the inconsistency and try to mitigate the negative effects of compulsory schooling. 

“I Don’t Know Why, But”

Not knowing things is perfectly normal. In fact, every human will inevitably go through life not knowing even a fraction of all there is to know. Publicly admitting what you don't know is often the first step of learning. It's commendable, but not all of the time. Sometimes admitting ignorance is not so praiseworthy.

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Being Mindful Of The Alternatives To Social Media

Being Mindful Of The Alternatives To Social Media

Many times, I find myself not knowing what to do with myself. I'm talking about those little moments of "free time" when I have no particular obligation or personal commitment.

Today I was going through that and, in that moment, my hand instinctively went to the letter R followed by the Enter button of my keyboard, which took me to Reddit. This mindless impulse has happened many times before. The sad thing is that after looking through the site I usually end up with a deep feeling of dissatisfaction.

Whether it's checking Reddit, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube it only turns out to be worth it about 10% of the time.  Sometimes I even find something that makes me feel angry or sad which is even worse. 

This needs to stop. Logically speaking, I should replace checking on social media with activities that are way more likely to be worthwhile. Doing this will make me mentally healthier and more valuable in general. 

A good way to make this change is to already have clear alternatives in mind or, better yet, have them written down so that, whenever I have the impulse to go on social media, I can instead look at an actual list. Because one of the biggest reasons for why I go on social media all the time is because I'm not fully mindful of the alternatives. So today I created that list.

This list of mine is made up of positive and fun things that I could do instead of checking social media. In my opinion, the more options I have the better, since that way I'm more likely to find something I'm in the mood for.

  • Walk my dogs - because in their eyes you can never do enough of that
  • Watch a movie
  • Go for a run
  • Play basketball
  • Read a chapter of Tribe Of Mentors
  • Read an article that I have saved on my Kindle
  • Read a chapter of a novel
  • Listen to a podcast - if you feel up to it, you can do it while running or walking the dogs!
  • Write a thank you letter
  • Call a friend
  • Talk to a stranger - I know you won't do it but hey, the option's always there
  • Answer some questions on Quora
  • Start or continue a post for my blog
  • Think of how I can improve this list (should I have more productive things or just more options?)

Side note: while I do think there's a place for social media, I think it's best used only when I have a deliberate reason. That way there's a pretty good chance it'll be worth it.

False Statements That You Should Pretend Are True

Even if they are technichally not true since they are absolutes, sometimes believing in these things can have huge benefits:

You are responsible for everything that happens to you.

This belief puts you in the driver's seat of your own life. It makes you look for what you could have done better so that you can improve next time. You see this mentality in a lot of great basketball players - even if the team loses the game because another player missed a simple shot, they don't blame it on them. Instead they say "it's on me, I could have done something." I think that's a sign of a great leader. 

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Believing in this makes it almost infinitely more likely that you'll be able to achieve your goals. Even if you end up failing, you will still get somewhere. As the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

In the end, everything will turn out fine.

This gives you the confidence to take risks.

What’s The Deal With Ayn Rand?

What’s The Deal With Ayn Rand?

One time when I was in college, one of my philosophy professors made the point that there aren't any famous women philosophers. She challenged us to name one, so I immediately blurted out "what about Ayn Rand?"  To that, she made an annoyed face and responded with "well, she doesn't count." I don't remember her exact explanation for why she didn't count but I know it was something along the lines of her "being crazy."

This is not the only time I've noticed this contempt for Ayn Rand and her philosophy.

Just yesterday I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls where an Ayn Rand reference came up. Rory, who is known as a very smart and driven girl, praises The Fountainhead, explaining that she was 10 when she first fell in love with it. Then the other character condemns Rand.

after I watched the show, I listened to a podcast called Gilmore Guys. It's a podcast where two guys and a guest break down each episode. It makes my experience of watching the show much more fun. Anyway, in the break-down of this particular episode, they were "disappointed" by Rory's love of Rand's work. They didn't explain why though, I assume because they thought the reason was self-evident.

I don't understand this. 

So many great people love her books. Just like Rory, I've heard many stories of people reading her work when they were young and it being a huge positive influence in their lives. They talk about her as if she was the catalyst to their success.

This leads me to think that there's something very valuable to be gleaned from her books, but apparently most people don't see this. I think that they are so focused on what they don't like about her that they don't see the hidden treasure. And after so many testimonials like the one below I'm convinced that there is a treasure. That is why I'm determined to eventually read her novels.

Though I've never read her work, I know I've been indirectly influenced by her, since the people that influenced me say that they've been influenced by her. What I do know about her is that she likes the free market, individualism, and personal responsibility, so she's alright in my book.

I've never heard of a person being driven to become successful and take control of their own lives because they read Karl Marx or Bernie Sanders or any other collectivist. If anything, I think those kinds of public figures discourage people. After all, their philosophy stands on the idea that the power to better your life is outside of you rather than within.

Shyness Is A Result Of Trauma

Shyness Is A Result Of Trauma

"I'm shy at first, but once we get to know each other I can be very outgoing."

When people describe themselves, I hear that sentiment quite often. A long time ago I was someone who may have said such a thing thinking it was just a part of my personality. Now I see the tragic implications of those words. 

To understand the implications let's first define what it means to be shy. I'm defining shyness as being fearful of expressing yourself around others. This does not include introverts, provided that they aren't timid or nervous when they are with company. Introverts can be shy but not all are.

I happen to be both - for the most part, I like to be alone, but when I'm with others fear does prevent me from expressing myself properly. Because of this fear I have held back many laughs, smiles, dances, singalongs etc. Basically everything that makes life worth living.

In short, I have refrained from expressing myself in those ways for fear of facing punishment.

So where does this fear come from? I believe that shy people were once sensitive children who developed this fear as a result of past traumatic occurrences. I mention sensitivity because it seems to be a big differentiating factor. It explains why things which left lasting scars for me, my brothers were able to take in stride, as they were relatively more outgoing. 

Though shy people may not have a present reason to be timid, they once did. Shy people were once in an environment where, to some degree or another, it was dangerous to be fully themselves. This danger can come in many ways and from many people including parents, siblings, teachers or school bullies. 

Perhaps, like me, these shy people had their curiosity squashed, their propensity for being playful and loud tamed, their feelings exploited, or their unique quirks ridiculed. Whatever it was, I guarantee that they had an expression that was natural to them that others around them didn't like and so, much like a nail that sticks out, they got the hammer. 

Pretty soon they learned that not all of who they are is accepted, so they start to suppress their true selves in order to survive. But the problem never stops there; this self-censorship is then internalized. It stays with them as they grow, even when there's no possibility of retaliation. What was once a necessary adjustment in response to their environment has now turned into unresolved trauma.

Now you understand why I think this is tragic. It's almost even more tragic that there are people out there who think shyness is just part of their natural personality rather than a result of the trauma-inducing environment around them. Without this knowledge, they have little chance of ever reversing it.

I remember being outgoing and carefree once. I believe basically every person was born that way. It is not until they get tested, silenced, controlled, humiliated, scorned, or beaten that they become anxious and reserved. One of my goals in life is to reconnect with who I was before that happened.

My Favorite Album (Currently)

Listening to music is something I rarely have done ever since I discovered podcasts. As a result you may find that my music taste is of someone who got stuck in 2012 (the year when I basically stopped listening to new music).

Every once in a while, though, new music slips into my ears, and that is what happened with Maria Mena's album from 2015 called Growing Pains

I discovered this artist through her hit single I Don't Want To See You With Her. Maria's ability to be vulnerable by writing very personal lyrics combined with her voice got me hooked, so I knew I had to hear more.

With all of her insights and wisdom on relationships, listening to this album is almost like therapy. Speaking of which, I wouldn't be surprised if Maria has been through a few sessions herself as her album is filled with honesty and self-awareness. 

Though it's the most simple, my favorite song from the album is Where I Come From. It's a song where she expresses that she doesn't want to repeat her parent's mistakes.

I wish I could find more self-aware artists like Maria Mena.

Listen to the whole incredible album here.