April 2024


In network security, a firewall 1 is a device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. The firewall is a first line of defence that establishes a barrier between secured and controlled internal networks that can be trusted and untrusted from outside networks, such as the Internet. Just as a network requires a firewall to determine the inbound and outbound traffic it allows, we must also create mental firewalls for ourselves. We live in a high-paced world where we are constantly bombarded with a deluge of data, and it is somewhat impossible to keep up, let alone turn the data into information.

Chinese writer Lin Yutang observed in The Importance of Living. “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”  The path to becoming a whole individual is a lifelong journey that involves trial and error, making mistakes, stumbling on epiphanies and gaining insights into the journey. Eliminating non-essentials in life is essential for living a life of purpose. We live in a world constantly bombarded with data, noise, shallowness and short-term thinking tools.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emersons

As the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 20 books—three of which have been adapted into Oscar-nominated movies—Michael Lewis is one of the most respected and influential writers of our time. In his “Tell a Great Story” masterclass, he discusses how to create clear, compelling narratives that entertain, engage, and have the power to change lives. He also shares strategies, tips and techniques that hook any audience.

His 2023 release, “Going Infinite,” became an instant bestseller. Beyond his awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism, he’s had wild commercial success for his storytelling prowess. Now he shares how to make any topic interesting—on the page and in life.

Everyone is going through something you know nothing about. It takes someone that is hurt to hurt another person, most hurt is a cry for help by the hurter who is going through pain and the transmission of their pain to other is one of their coping mechanism. It can be very challenging to be at the receiving end of other people’s unhealed traumas. When situations like this occur, as they often will, I try to remember the words of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who quipped in Meditations:

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”

This habit took me a while to figure out, but I am steadily developing a routine around my personal grooming. It is fast becoming one of my favourite daily routines. Grooming (preening) is the art and practice of cleaning and maintaining parts of the body. 1 Like most people, the first thing I do after waking up is brush my teeth and bathe. After which, I cream my body and comb my heart; that was it for me until recently. After getting some results in my fitness regimen routine through habit stacking, I experimented with going deeper into my grooming using the same approach.

My New approach to personal grooming

  • Triggers: Wake up, turn on my Shokz OpenSwim Swimming MP3 – Bone Conduction waterproof MP3 player.
  • Immediately start listening to French language learning materials/podcasts/audiobooks.
  • Personal grooming routine: Brush teeth, bathe, cream body, comb heart.
  • Added grooming routine: Floss teeth, groom beards, shave hair, and apply deodorants plus spray.

Somedays are going to be more challenging than the others. You might be so broke or in debt that checking your bank account has become a chore. You might be feeling shitty because you can’t seem to conquer the addiction or the harmful habit, such as gossiping or complaining about others. You might not like the job you are presently in, or you feel stuck in a toxic relationship. You might be in a codependent relationship wherein you are dependent on others to solve your issues for you. Life can be tricky sometimes; whatever will go wrong will eventually go wrong.

When the going gets tough, we all have a choice to forgive ourselves, bounce bank and keep it moving. Every mess has a message, and everything that might lessen us also has a lesson in it. Whatever you might be going through right now, no matter how tough it seems, you have the agency to turn it around. It is going to be a dog fight, you are going to fall down multiple times, relapse, your emotions are going to get the best of you. You are going to doubt yourself, people are going to doubt you, and the naysayers are going to be loud in your heart, but you have to, at some point, take personal responsibility for your life.

What we often call “overnight success” is a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, roadwork, training, gym reps, swim laps, and relentless pursuit in the dark that just started paying off. Overnight success usually takes ten years or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in a particular field or endeavour. We get rewarded publicly for what we diligently practiced, mastered and refined in the dark. Success is often not a straight path; it takes a lot of focus, dedication, perseverance, self-discipline, consistency, endurance and patience to achieve anything worthwhile. As coach John Wooden once said: “Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best  to become the best that you are capable of  becoming.”

The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family. You will have flat tires called Jobs, but if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perserverance, a driver called Will Power, you will make it to a place called Success. 

Joy (n.) is derived from Old French joie “pleasure, delight, erotic pleasure, bliss, joyfulness” (11c.), from Latin gaudia “expressions of pleasure; sensual delight,” plural of gaudium “joy, inward joy, gladness, delight; source of pleasure or delight,” from gaudere “rejoice,” from PIE root *gau- “to rejoice” (cognates: Greek gaio “I rejoice,” Middle Irish guaire “noble”). Joy is an emotion that we can feel viscerally in our souls when experiencing it. Joy is synonymous with delight, glee, happiness, elation, gladness and peace of mind. We know it when we feel it. You optimize for joy and protect your peace of mind by trusting your joy. Most of us nurture unhealthy relationships and lifestyles just because they are all we’ve ever known or done. When you trust your joy, you gravitate towards what makes you happy and set healthy boundaries for whatever drains your energy.

Lose the battle but win the war.

Play the Long Game (idiom) 1: to plan and do things that will help you to be successful far into the future, rather than only thinking about the present or near future. Life is a marathon that requires playing a long game. Being successful in this game involves starting with the end in mind, knowing your why, and working on your plan. One of the most essential lessons from finishing multiple marathons is that your outcome is somewhat predictable. As the marathon chart below shows, a certain amount of minutes per mile must be run to finish at one’s intended finish time. We play the way we train; if you cannot do it during training, executing it on game day will be hard. When you play the long game, you plan your pace and not go too hard at the start.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” – British Army Colonel T. E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

Dreaming is cheap; almost everyone dreams, but executing the dream is often expensive. Your dreams will only be wishes until you start doing something about it on a daily basis. You don’t have to be great to start, but you must start to be great. We all have greatness in us and have potential energy inherent in us, but we need kinetic energy to bring forth our potential. For most of us, our potential energy gets unused as a result of childhood programming, societal indoctrination, religious dogma and familiar naysayers that disrupt our kinetic energy. There is a price to be paid to achieve your dreams, which involves betting on yourself, showing up daily, having faith and executing relentlessly. Dreams are free, but executing them is expensive. Your dreams are valid, but you must do whatever is necessary to achieve them.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In The Power of One More: The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Success, Entrepreneur and host of the Ed Mylett Show, Ed Mylett, provides a framework for making incremental improvements in our daily lives.  Ed’s father struggled with alcohol addiction, and he had tried many times to quit to no avail. But he eventually gave up drinking when Ed’s mum gave him an ultimatum :

“Either you get sober or lose your family. You won’t get another chance,”

That was the moment he knew he had to change, and he did. He embraced the Alcoholics Anonymous idea of living One More day sober. It became the entire premise of his life, and it is the core idea of “The Power of One More” book.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”― Archilochus

To paraphrase the Greek poet Archilochus, ” We don’t rise to the level of our goals or wishes; we rise to the level of our standards.” Our standard determines what we are willing to tolerate and the expectations we hope to live by. One of the standards I have set for myself in the past 2-3 years is doing the following daily: Meditate, write on this blog and exercise. I have tried to uphold that standard for myself daily, but they have become non-negotiables. It took a while to get to this level of consistency, but everything is possible with determination, persistence and focus. We get what we tolerate in life, and our standards are a benchmark onto which the world will treat us.

Your parents were right “Birds of the same feather flock together”, and “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas”. These are some of the cautious statements parents give to their children on the importance of choosing their friends, relationships and associations. Parents know viscerally because they know in hindsight how the right or wrong association shaped their lives. As the saying goes, “You are the total of the five people you spend the most time with.” You cannot outperform your inner circle as they calibrate your baseline and, ultimately, your threshold. Two of the most crucial relationship decisions we all must make include choosing a life partner and the choice of work. You will spend at least two-thirds of your life with your partner and at work. The company you keep is essential in how far you go in life, so choose wisely.

Noise is an unpleasant sound that is undesired. 1 Noise can also be anything that does not give us the desired sound signal. One must tune out the noise to listen to one’s intuition/gut. The naysayers are often the loudest. They will tell you with certainty why your goals are impossible and call you crazy. It can be tough, as most of the noise comes from people closest to us. Self-doubt will definitely creep in at some point, but you have to trust yourself and the universe. As American film director and screenwriter Steven Spielberg noted in his 2016 Harvard University Commencement Speech 2 “Your Intuition Whispers,” I want to be clear that your intuition is different from your conscience. They work in tandem, but here’s the distinction: Your conscience shouts, ‘here’s what you should do,’ while your intuition whispers, ‘here’s what you could do.’ Listen to that voice that tells you what you could do. Nothing will define your character more than that.

And again, this is why it’s so important to listen to your internal whisper. It’s the same one that compelled Abraham Lincoln and Oskar Schindler to make the correct moral choices. In your defining moments, do not let your morals be swayed by convenience or expediency. Sticking to your character requires a lot of courage. And to be courageous, you’re going to need a lot of support.

 Chinese military strategist and author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu, wrote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” The battle to conquer oneself is a life-long journey, as what got you to become good would not necessarily get you to become great. The key is to lose the battle and win the war. The battle never ends with the vicissitudes, trials, and tribulations of life, but by conquering oneself with self-awareness and self-compassion, the war will be won. As  Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung once said “One who looks outside, dreams. One who looks inside awakens.”

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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