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How to Live and Not Merely Exist

How to Live and Not Merely Exist
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Existence is confusing, but it’s pretty easy if you think about it. You don’t have to do anything—you already exist through circumstances outside of your control. Everything you do from this point forward is for your own benefit. With any luck, somebody along your path in life taught you to consider the benefit of others as well, but I’ve met enough people to understand that’s an optional feature in humans.

So if nobody knows why we’re here, how we got here, or anything else about life, why aren’t we all out there exploring and living it?

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fried-chicken

    What’s the Matter? Are Ya Chicken?

    It sounds unbelievable, but a lot of people float through life merely existing. It’s easy to dismiss these people as drug addicts or worse, but the fact of the matter is they’re human beings, and they’re everywhere. These people were made to feel small in their lives. They were told not to believe in themselves so often that they started to believe it; they slid through life until settling in a dead-end job as a cubicle monkey with neither status nor esteem attached to their name.

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    If you want to experience life for what it is, watch a movie: see how things aren’t going the way the main character wants them to? See how they’re scared or upset in some way and decide to stand in the face of fear to accomplish something? Why are you backing down from your boss if you truly believe you’re somebody special in life? Do you think Neo discovered The Matrix because he was too scared to take the right pill? Face reality: you’re going to die someday—we all do. You can either face it standing up, sitting down, bending over, or standing up. The choice is yours and yours alone.

    Do More Than You Say

    I hate repetition unless it’s something I truly enjoy. I could spend every day sipping cocktails and smoking bowls and blunts with my girlfriend. We could relax by the pool, kick it, and enjoy each other’s physical and spiritual presence every day without tire. Other than exceptions that are close to the heart, I hate having to repeat myself. It’s annoying when people don’t understand what you’re saying so you have to keep rewording it over and over until they get the idea. It’s so repetitive having to repeat myself because people weren’t paying attention the first time.

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    This goes with every situation in life: think about how much you start to loathe looking at someone’s Facebook page when all they do is complain about their lives or continuously talk about the same things over and over. If that’s the impression someone’s giving you, surely you’re giving that impression to someone else. If the world revolved around you, you’d have a lot more FB friends than you do, turbo, so slow down and think about this for a minute… if the internet is made of people, and social media is made of society, then maybe it’s possible nobody cares what I ate tonight for dinner or what species of parasite made a home in my woman’s uterus online any more than they are when I bring it up at a party.

    Take the hint: stop talking about what you’re going to do or what you did. Don’t fret about the past or future unless it’s with someone you care about (and even then, only during special times set up for such discussions). Other than that, focus on what’s happening in front of you right here and now. You don’t need to take a picture of your meal for it to taste good, and it’s not going to taste any better based on how many online “likes” it gets. Enjoy your dinner for yourself, and in the journey of doing so, you will have learned to live and not merely exist.

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    Want to learn more about life? Check out: Life Lessons From a Dying Man…

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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