Growth, Idealism, Philosophy

Gandhi Nation

Graduate School makes this blog extremely difficult to keep up. Nonetheless, I will try to at least post a thought or two each week. Ya’ know, something to chew on to tide you over until I can start blogging with a bit more abandon.

With that said, I was listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast and the conversation he was having with his guest, a Canadian with a French sounding name Stefan Molyneux, gave me a thought…

There IS no Canada like FRENCH Canada. I've never had this, but I'm highly interested.

There IS no Canada like FRENCH Canada. I’ve never had this (Poutine), but I’m highly interested.

My blog is mostly about self-improvement, but with the angle that enough self-improved individuals can in fact get the world to change into a better place. I call it selfless-self-improvement. 😉 I’m just kidding!

But, in all seriousness.

Gandhi is often paraphrased as saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

[His actual words were: If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.]

Either way, it is an interesting statement, right? It’s the basic idea that fuels this blog.

Well, what if governments ran by those rules? Do they already and it just so happens that the change they want to see is selfish? But, even selfish intentions can benefit everyone. In order to thrive and prosper, the people living in the world must thrive and prosper as well. Economies only work when everyone contributes, not just a select few. So, I again postulate; what if governments applied the rule of inward change for outward progress to themselves?

Just think about it…

I know one thing, nations would be a LOT cuter if they became more Gandhi-esque

Just look at that punim!

Just look at that punim!

Much Love,

-Brandon Holly-

Standard
Growth, Idealism, Life

Pain

A lot of things have happened to me as of late that have caused me discomfort. I personally felt a LOT of pain, but I understand that pain is relative and I refuse to try to quantify it as a lot or a little.

Problems...

Problems…

This is one of the things that have caused me pain as of late. I can’t say a LOT of pain because let’s face it., there are people all over the world who would KILL to have a car to wreck in the first place! My life is not bad. I have nothing to complain about. However, I have always said that emotions are valid.

One look at the twitter @celebscomplain_ and we’re all laughing at how petty and simple the problems of the other half are.

The Miracle of Flight, Apple Products, and Rumors?!? ... Tell me again how hard your life must be...

The Miracle of Flight, Apple Products, and Rumors?!? … Tell me again how hard your life must be…

But, at that moment, their life was hard. Pain is pain. Humans are extremely adaptable. Whether you’re adapting to abject poverty or garish excess, your entire world is filtered through that. Your actions are indicative of it and your life is unfathomable to those who are your other.

The two sides are at odds all of the time.

“Um.. why are you so dirty?” – Because they work in a field for 12 hours a day and the nearest water is an hour away.

“You have NOTHING to whine about!” – Well, they’re actually STILL human and humans feel pain regardless of their socio-economic status (Though I will admit that a step out of a certain limited worldview might be in order)

Now that I feel properly pre-vindicated allow me to go on…

A lot of things piled up on me at once. The accident, a few career issues, plumbing issues, housing issues in general, and the whammy is something personal, but I will say it has to do with losing something you thought you’d always have.

You wouldn't call this little guy pathetic, would you?

You wouldn’t call this little guy pathetic, would you? – THEN DON’T DO IT TO ME! 😉

Anyway, when things stop going your way you begin to feel like a failure. You feel as if you have the opposite of the Midas touch.

Midas: What you touch turns to gold - Negative Midas: What you touch turns to crap - B. Holly - What you touch turns to golden crap...

Midas: What you touch turns to gold – Negative Midas: What you touch turns to crap – B. Holly – What you touch turns to golden crap…

Failure is not an easy feeling. You feel worthless. It makes you feel as if you deserve nothing and that you are just a cancer to everyone else that you’re around. Failure is hard. But, as I said in the previous blog. Failure is necessary. Success is impossible without it. Failure makes you stronger. I wonder if we’ve forgotten that.

And failure… well, it hurts.

It’s hard because people will come after you either way.

Our society is so obsessed with non-failure, that taking risks has become taboo! What?!? Move to New York City or Los Angeles to try and make it?!? Are you out of your mind? Most people fail and come back home. This may be true, but at the same time, if you don’t try you’ll never grow. Why take an AP Algebra class when you can just take the general class and pass? Why should we even bother pushing ourselves?

At the same time, we often look at people who try to better themselves as being full of themselves or we belittle their attempts. Which, by the way, if you find yourself scoffing at someone’s diet/exercise attempts or saying things like, “Ugh, why do you always eat Salad? always Study? always Exercise? always Pray etc…” Just… stop. Why would an attempt to self-improve ever be a bad thing? I’ve done it… you’ve done it… and we all need to cut it out. Don’t try to be better than others. Just be better than you. And CERTAINLY don’t allow your road to success to be making everyone suck a little more than you.

Anyway, taking risks and failing and growing- That’s where our greatness lies! A fellow PCV and a very good friend was interviewed recently and I believe he said it best during an interview with SoCal’s Public Radio station 89.3 KPCC.

“The beauty about games is that they encourage failure. They are predicated on kids trying things and failing and trying something else and trying it again,” he said. “That’s a skill that we need to impart on our kids. This fearlessness in just doing stuff.” – Dan Thalkar

d&b

The only decent picture of us. He’s the bearded not black guy!

I think we can all take a lot from that. We need to impart the spirit of failing and trying again to our kids, yes. But, we also must lead by example. As I mentioned in the blog before this one., failure is necessary for success. However, I left out an important thing we all need to accept. Failure hurts.

Pain equals growth and I refuse to believe my trials and tribulations are anything but small road bumps on my road to self-actualization.

Dan’s Minecraft Blog!

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

Standard
Idealism, Life, Philosophy

Run Away…

Sometimes, it seems like our issues come from nowhere. They’re these gigantic tremors that lay in wait underneath the ground. And, at any given moment they will erupt forth and attempt to drag us down into the pits of despair. We didn’t know this was a big deal to us until something triggered our emotional response. For instance, you’ve told your Significant Other that you don’t care about material things or silly greeting card holidays. You truly believe that until.. “Hm… apparently I do care about V. Day. WHY DIDN’T YOU GET ME A CARD AT LEAST?!?”

Tremors was one of the first movies to kinda freak me out!

YOU COULDN’T SHELL OUT THE CHANGE FOR ONE ROSE?Tremors was one of the first movies to kinda freak me out! 

Sometimes, our issues are right out in the open like a big gross pimple. Whether those be mental issues, social biases, pet peeves. They’re the blighted parts of ourselves  that we can’t seem to hide very effectively.

I'm a closet racist! A raaaacyyyyyst! ;-)

I’m a closet racist! A raaaacyyyyyst! 😉

We have these problems and they manifest themselves any random way they will. Whether it be at bed late at night keeping you from getting any decent sleep or during grandma’s 80th birthday dinner. These things require attention and must be dealt with with tact and understanding. How do we reconcile the beautiful parts of ourselves with the ugly parts?

Yargh!

Um… Maybe some people just don’t. 

How can Brandon the pacifist reconcile himself with Brandon the revenge seeker? And yes, I do say reconcile because I don’t believe Brandon the revenge seeker is evil. I think the way in which he goes about things is wrong, but that is also the part of me that fights for what I believe in. The pacifist Brandon is a little too chill. I need both parts to function as a fully formed human. However, I will not be the most effective person I can be unless both sides are functioning PROPERLY. In other words, the passive pacifist needs to shake hands with the motivated menace to come up with a mutually beneficial way of solving problems.

Life is just a great balancing act.  I’m really trying to find mine. I fail a lot. But, I feel like I win a lot too! 🙂

Keep trying to find yours!

Even when some of us seem to have it all figured out...

Even when some of us seem to have it all figured out…

Much Love,

-Brandon Holly-

Standard
Idealism, Life, Philosophy

How May I Help You?

I enjoy making people happy. There is literally no better feeling in the world than doing something for someone and looking at them sincerely expressing gratitude. I don’t feel like I’m unique. I feel as if most people in the world have good intentions. We don’t typically do things for the sole purpose of upsetting others. I don’t even think that comes from an especially thoughtful place; (even though I DO feel like people are more thoughtful than we give them credit for) rather, it comes from the fact that people tend to use their energy making themselves feel good, rather than actively trying to make you feel bad. But, really think about that the next time someone does something that grinds your gears. Especially if the person is a loved one.

Harold! THIS IS THE LAST TIME I TELL YOU, "THE BEANS GO IN THE LEFT CABINET AND THE SPICES GO IN THE RIGHT!"

Harold! This is the last time I say something, “THE BEANS GO IN THE LEFT CABINET AND THE SPICES GO IN THE RIGHT!”

Before you go punch the lights out of the person who did something that you personally found inconvenient; realize, that it’s highly unlikely they did that just to spite you. We get upset about things because we feel personally wronged. But nine times out of ten, that is not the intention of the other person. And, in fact, if the person knew they could’ve avoided a (in the context of the universe) meaningless argument, they probably just would have done whatever you wanted. Yes, some people are less mindful than others. But, I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt.

This makes me think of something C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that I think rings true whether you’re a Christian or not.

“But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad. The nearest we can get to it is in cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons – either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it – money, or power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much. I do not mean, of course, that the people who do this are not desperately wicked. I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness : you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness.”

Ya Dig?

Ya Dig?

I’m writing this because I felt wronged the other day and truly upset. I fail more often than not, but when I’m upset with someone I try to ask myself why I feel so frustrated. Typically, it’s because they did something that made life SLIGHTLY more difficult. My day was a little less convenient because of whatever thing they did. Now I’m upset. But my annoyance is MY problem not theirs. I’m trying very hard to always keep in mind that nobody can make me feel any certain way. I’m also trying to keep in mind that the things that annoy me on a day to day basis are typically not a big deal.

mountain-or-molehill-350x280

Let’s say someone leaves a piece of paper on my desk at work. I could see an improper response building up. These types of things happen all of the time. We’ve all heard things like, “What? Do you think this is YOUR desk?” or “Oh? So, you’re the only one who needs to use the toaster?” or “Why didn’t you invite me out to lunch or AT LEAST ask me what I wanted?” or “How many times do I have to tell you?” etc. But typically the answers are, “No, I’m sorry I just forgot…” “No, but it’s just taking me a minute. I’m sorry…” “Sorry, I was just hungry and left…” “I don’t know, just please help remind me…” People aren’t out to get you. Yes, some of the things people do happen because they forget that the universe doesn’t revolve around them. At the same time, sometimes we get upset because we feel like WE’RE the center of the universe.

Most of the time... Sorry should cut it.

Most of the time… Sorry should cut it.

Anyway, back to making people happy. I HATE when I do the things that upset people. I am guilty of staying too long in the bathroom, or spilling water on someone’s desk, or leaving my computer cord lying around. But, my desire is just to make people happy.

At the same time, maybe my need to make others happy makes them unhappy. If you’re like me, you try desperately to make everyone feel good, but you can’t. You fail them in some way shape or form and somehow you’ve made everyone upset rather than joyful.Which, in turn, makes you unhappy. And, I guess I’m just not sure what that balance is yet.

How do I go about it? I can’t clone myself (yet), so sometimes I am going to have to sleep or drop obligations, but deciding who has to wait is hard. One of my goals in life is to reduce the amount of suffering people have to feel. I wish to reduce my own suffering of course, but I also want to make YOU joyful as well. When I try too hard to make everyone happy, I end up hurting everyone. I haven’t figured out how to be ok with just not pleasing people sometimes.

Hm… I haven’t quite figured all of this out yet. But, I hope you’re happy today. And if not, maybe this puppy can make you smile.

No Pasa Nada...

No Pasa Nada…

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

Standard
Idealism, Life, Philosophy

Ten Thousand

I think I’ve finally figured it out. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all have too much to lose to be outstanding. I’ve been listening to Macklemore lately and the song 10,000 hours came on. Coincidentally, I currently received the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell from a good friend.

Malcolmore or... Mackle Gladwell... YOU decide!

Malcolmore or… Mackle Gladwell… YOU decide!

Malcolm’s book and Macklemore’s song reference a popular expertise theory that suggests that the greats of our world didn’t become great just because they won some kind of genetic lottery. Rather, they became great as a result of hard work, grit and diligence.

The study suggests that in order to become an expert at something, it takes 10,000 hours of practice. That’s an unusual time statement. It’s annoying. It’s like a mother saying her child is 29 months old… He’s TWO you freak!

Yep, she's only 238 months old! That's why we DIDN'T buy the Chemistry Pop-Up book this year.

Yep, she’s only 238 months old! That’s why we DIDN’T buy the Chemistry Pop-Up book this year.

Anyway, a different study suggests that as numbers become bigger they become less comprehensible. So, I like to break things down. Let’s say that I want to become a great writer. According to the 10,000 hour theory I would have to practice for a little over a year straight. And when I say straight, I mean I would literally need to be writing 24 hours a day. That’s impossible. Let’s break that down a bit more. If I were to divide that time into two years, I’ll be great by just practicing 12 hours a day. Still a bit egregious, eh? Well, let me put it in terms that I can understand.

If I consider the theory to be correct. I am saying that if I were to devote my time to picking up a new skill right this moment and I vowed to practice 2hrs everyday, I would become great after 13.7 years. That’s a long time. That’s quite a commitment. Worth it? Yes. But can most of us do that? No.

My day today: Wake up at 5am, go to work, work till 3pm, need to go to the grocery store to buy food for dinner, cook dinner, mow the yard, exercise, eat dinner, and finally relax at about 8pm when all is said and done. The last thing I want to do is hone my craft at that time. I’m exhausted! Is exhaustion just an excuse? Absolutely, but it’s a valid one.

Then, I imagine how realistically it would be for me to become great when I think of potential children. I don’t have time to become great when I’m feeding my kids. They can’t get neglected just because I have a passion.

Well, I hope someday I will become a great writer. But, until then, I’ll just keep putting my nose to the grindstone when I can and maybe after 15 years I’ll get a call.

The point of this post wasn’t to be pessimistic. Actually, quite the contrary. Knowing that greatness is within my reach makes me just want to practice more! Even if it takes forever, I have to try!

Standard
Idealism, Life

Improving Improv

Hey Kids!

I’m not actually dead.

Not today... death.

Not today… death.

I’ve just been busy.

 

Something that I’ve been troubled about lately, has been my unwillingness to volunteer. I used to volunteer all of the time. Hell, I even gave two years of my life for the sole purpose of volunteering. However, lately I haven’t been giving myself the time.

I write, I read, and I work 40+ hours every week. Not to mention all of the time I spend doing improv and just general relaxation time. But, I still enjoy helping people and it hurts my soul to not be doing that. And I don’t want that to sound pretentious. It reminds me of a blog a fellow RPCV of mine wrote that stuck with me. He spoke of his volunteer service as something that lacks any kind of special altruism.

Oh, you dedicated nearly a third of your twenties to do relief work? You must be SOOO generous...

Oh, you dedicated nearly a third of your twenties to do relief work? You must be SOOO generous…

I agree with his blog for the most part. In the blog he writes of his experience as something that he just happened to be doing. My desire to continue volunteering is something that just happens to be of interest to me. But, that does not make me noble. For instance, saving lives as a doctor would be more noble and helpful. But, I am not inclined to be a doctor any more than some doctors would have been inclined to join the Peace Corps.

With that said, contrary to the tone I started this blog with. I just recently volunteered!

I did an improv presentation and demonstration with about 15 underprivileged kids and nothing in the world can compare to my elation! There is this place called Studio 222 and they do this amazing middle school after school program for kids in the Oklahoma City area. They pick the kids up from school, they feed them, they teach them all types of different art, and then take them home! It’s like latchkey on steroids. The directors and artists that help run the program clearly have a strong beautiful passion for the kids and the kids are absolutely amazing.

Yes, as a matter of fact they ARE cooler than you.

Yes, as a matter of fact they ARE cooler than you.

I, with the help of my good friend Raychel, led a short little presentation concerning improv, what it can do for you (the answer is a LOT), and then had the kids do a few improv exercises.

I was floundering a lot, but with Ray’s help we pulled it off. And apparently the kids loved it! The community atmosphere is addicting and the program’s passion for The Arts is spectacular.

I haven’t had that much fun in a long time and it only strengthens my resolve to become an educator in some way shape or form. It also whet my appetite for more volunteering. It’s strange how wonderful helping other people makes you feel. Seriously, if you are a selfish mother lover. Then you should be volunteering like crazy! It may seem like doing work for other people, but it actually brings YOU more joy. Thus, even the most callous of hearts should be getting their volunteer on!

All of these men should have just volunteered!

All of these men should have just volunteered!

Much Love,

-Brandon Holly-

Standard
Idealism, Life, Philosophy

Give Thanks

So, this week has been Thanksgiving. I should be writing about all of the things that I’m thankful for. The fact that I have a roof over my head, a health plan, food in my stomach, shoes on my feet. I have plenty for which to be thankful. I should be singing praises to G-d and the universe for putting me where it has. I’m a very fortunate man.

My thinking reasonable mind knows that I have nothing to complain about. However, my feelings are different. I’m not saying that my circumstances are the worst by any means. However, I do know that everything is relative. And, comparing everything that has happened this year in relation to the past two and a half years. I’ve come to the realization that- my life blows…

Just replace the books with like… life and you got it.

But no, seriously. This year has had a LOT of satisfying moments and I really am truly thankful for them. But, that does not change the fact that this has also been a particularly difficult year. I am a positive person. I am highly optimistic and we will get to that later. But, I’m about to list off why my life has been absolutely LAME this year.

Top 10 lame things that happened to me this year! In no particular order:

1.) Feeling of loneliness and emptiness due to leaving the Peace Corps and not having a defined “purpose” any more.
2.) Crippling debt
3.) Literally almost dying.
4.) MORE crippling debt. (Go medical bills!)
5.) Crappy cubicle job that felt soul-sucking (but at least it paid well enough)
6.) Losing crappy cubicle job the WEEK I decide to move out on my own.
7.) Nearly going bankrupt and living EXACTLY paycheck to paycheck. (Plasma Centers are great)
8.) Friends going through personal issues.
9.) My family dog whom I loved dearly died.
10.) Learning of some heartbreaking family news.

and 1 to grow on!

11.) Most recently… I’ve been dealing with the death of a good friend’s girlfriend. She was also a friend of mine. Admittedly, not extremely close, but still a friend and still just another dark thing that has happened this year.

And as the resident happy-go-lucky, ever-resilient, optimistic guy… I feel like this most of the time.

Well, ok not quite as emo.

But strangely enough… sometimes I feel like the opposite. B-because I AM optimistic!

Life is fun!

And people want to know how you’re feeling. They want to be supportive. And they WANT to be a shoulder to cry on, but, I’m not crying. Now, I DO have moments of sadness and anger and crippling depression just like each and every one of you.

However, they just don’t tend to last very long. I’ve said the following to friends many times. The way you process pain is no better or worse than the way anyone else does. It’s what you DO about it that really matters. If you’re being destructive or counterproductive to your recovery, that’s different. However, if you naturally just need some alone time, that’s fine. If you naturally need your friends, get ’em! For me, I naturally go to a very dark and sad place for a period of time. (some longer than others) and then… I’m ready! I’m good! I’m happy!

There is just too much good in the world to let things get the best of you. As I’ve said before, you only lose when you give up! And these tough times only make me want to fight harder.

So even though life has been doing this to me…

Life smarts

I know I will make it, that things will get better and eventually after all the beat downs and training, when I’m ready…

I’ll get up again, fight, and WIN!

Life is hard, but… good friends, words of wisdom, and a lot of thanksgiving food fortifies a man and enables him to go on. And THAT ladies and gentlemen is what I’m thankful for this year.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

Standard