Archives For Life Fulfillment

If you can read this, you’re part of the select few in the world who was born into a good deal. It means you probably have working electricity and internet, enjoy enough freedom of speech to read crazy blogs, and are allowed opportunities to make money and move ahead in life. You won the birth lottery!

Winning the birth lottery does not guarantee you success or riches, but it does give you a ticket to the dance. If you’re reading this from the US or a western European country, you’re one of the luckier birth lottery winners as you enjoy a higher level of freedom and education than most other countries.

However, there are some clear losers in the birth lottery. If you’re born into a country led by dictators like North Korea, you’re probably on this unlucky list. If you’re born into the poor mountain tribes of Laos, like the beautiful little girl we saw hopping on a river barge with her father to go sell produce, you’re probably also on the losing side. She will hopefully have a great life, but her lack of access to education and basic health care will present some major hurdles.

Most people are born without much of a chance in life to advance beyond basic survival. Nearly half of the world lives in poverty, which means less than $2.5 per day. This is not because they’re savages with lower intellects, but instead they just didn’t win the birth lottery. They were born into countries and conditions where basic survival was the highest aspiration and intellectual enhancement was an afterthought. They definitely didn’t choose this just as I didn’t choose to be born in the US.

Unfortunately, we even have the birth lottery divide within the US. We saw it in New Orleans where a child born into the lower 9th ward (usually minority) is going to have a much harder chance of making it than a child born into a well off family and sent to private school. Is it because the poor kid is dumb and success to him looks like a drug dealer who has a nice car because that’s his only example?

Examples reside along racial boundaries as well as basic socioeconomic differences. I went to a small high school in Oklahoma where roughly 25-35% of the students went to college. I have a friend from the northeast whose class went to college at a ~95% rate and most of them went to Ivy League schools! They were raised from the beginning knowing they were expected to go to college and they were given the support required, but most of the kids in my school weren’t.

You can also look at other minority groups such as Native Americans. I can’t speak with as much experience with the reservations as I’ve only been through them a few times, but many of them live in similar conditions to third world countries. They’re born on the batter’s deck while others are born on second or third base. The birth lottery can be dissected even further by health, natural intelligence and/or ambition, stable family atmospheres or other opportunities.

I can’t stand it when people look down on others who weren’t born into as fortunate circumstance as them. They’ll usually assume all things are equal and say those people are lazy because they didn’t have the drive to go to college or don’t want to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and would rather live off of government assistance. That might be the case for some people, but more often that not, it’s due to the circumstance they were born into.

Believe it or not, this is more than a rant. This is a note to whoever needs it, including myself. The world is not an equal place and as we’ve seen over the last few months, we’re as divided as ever. However, this division should not make us forget that while we might be “created equal”,  we aren’t born equal, and we don’t get to choose where we start. There are longstanding belief systems in place that shape our thoughts and identities. There are socioeconomic barriers in place that mean we all start on different levels.

This also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the opportunities you’re born into. Just because I was born in the US to great parents who raised me well, doesn’t mean I’m moving to Myanmar to live in poverty out of my own guilt. No, it means I need to start at my level and continue to grow, to continue to take advantage of the opportunities offered to me – which as a college educated white male are already many levels higher than others.

Kids watching our "slow boat" pass on the Mekong

Kids watching our “slow boat” pass on the Mekong River in Laos. 

Ayn Rand Inspiration for 2016

December 27, 2015 — 1 Comment

If you’re not familiar with Ayn Rand, I’m writing a post that will come out in a few weeks with my full biased review and explanation of her philosophies. I’ve had quite a cycle starting with an obsession with her philosophies and going “all in” on her objectivism, to then disagreeing with most of her stances, to now being a bit more neutral and pulling some things I like and discarding the rest.

Regardless of my own cyclical thoughts and tendencies, the fact remains there’s a lot of merit in her writing and philosophies and she has some really great quotes. With quotes from Rand’s powerful book Atlas Shrugged, I wish you a prosperous 2016!

I’ll start with my favorite quote of Rand’s that continues to drive my quest for a BREAK FREE lifestyle

“What greater wealth is there than to own your own life and to spend it on growing?”

This really drives my interaction with work and money along with my desire to create a lifestyle where I get to focus on my wife and my visions – and not spend it all working in a job I may not want. However, to get to this point, you have to realize the system we live in and avoid things like this

“A viler evil than to murder a man is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue”

I equate “suicide” in this quote with giving up your life for the profit of someone else. Work is necessary to get to where you want to go:

“there’s no such thing as a lousy job – only lousy men who don’t care to do it”

However, dedicating your entire life to a job you hate because you need to pay the bills on a bunch of crap you don’t need is the suicide. But you can take control of your money and think about how you can pursue the things you want to pursue.

“Thought is a weapon one uses in order to act.  Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice.  Thought sets one’s purpose and the way to reach it”

Think. Act. Make the decision to live the life you want to live. Don’t be another cog in the wheel, unless of course you want to.

“this is what they want of me, this is where they want me – neither living nor dead, neither thinking nor insane, but just a chunk of pulp that screams with fear, to be shaped by them as they please, they who have no shape of their own.”

No matter where you have to start, just start.

“Do not say that you’re afraid to trust your mind because you know so little.  Are you safer in surrendering to mystics and discarding the little that you know?  Live and act within the limit of your knowledge an keep expanding it to the limit of your life.  Accept the fact that your mind is fallible, but becoming mindless will not make you infallible – that an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.”

Know your life is incredibly valuable

“to live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life:  reason – purpose – self-esteem.  Reason, as his only tool of knowledge – purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve – Self-esteem, as his inviolated certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means:  is worthy of living.”

You have the potential

“Every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but it’s only the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he’ll rise.”

And if you haven’t already, find the why

“the desire not to be anything, is the desire not to be”

Because in the end,

“What greater wealth is there than to own your own life and to spend it on growing?”

Ever feel like your job locks you into a prison like environment with rows of cubicles and a boss always hovering around? If that’s the case, then good news, Whole Foods wouldn’t even sell you because you’d be considered a Step 0 in their Animal Welfare Rating! Whole Foods wouldn’t even consider you until you have no cages, no crates and less crowding!

As I was shopping the other day in their overstimulated world of brightly colored vegetables, GMO-free Cheerios and super cool employees, I thought about how relevant the rating scale is for our jobs. Sure, success and pay can’t be measured by their animal welfare rating, but if you’re like me, happiness as measured by freedom, might be. Continue Reading…

Our conversations are only about the necessities of getting through the week:  what we’ll have for dinner, who will feed Lucy (our dog) or what we need to get done on Saturday – the one day we both have off from work. We no longer debate whether Westerners are helping or hurting things in Cambodia through voluntourism, how to solve the Israel/Palestine crisis or discuss the purpose of our lives.

We no longer spend time going on long hikes, enjoy quiet time together or allow ourselves to binge watch a season of The Voice. We no longer have time for each other.

When we traveled the world together for nine months, we evolved our relationship to a level I previously thought unattainable. We went from being best friends who happened to be married, to soul mates who worked in harmony towards collective goals and a common mission. We were traveling the world together and depended on each other to get through it. Continue Reading…

Are We All Programmable?

February 9, 2015 — 1 Comment

The average worker bee’s life is five to seven weeks long. Within this time, they spend around 8 days developing, 12 days working inside the hive, and the remaining 22 days foraging for food and gathering pollen and nectar. Bees are a nearly perfectly efficient system where all members do exactly what they need to ensure the survival of their own species.

If something went wrong with the bee’s programming, they could quickly go extinct because their dependency on the whole group is too great to live individually.

The turn “Programmable” has stuck in my head for over a year now when one of my friend’s co-workers described a suburb north of Dallas as being very programmable. All the kids go to a massive high school and get into a good university, and four years later they’re in the workforce. They do just as their parents did before them and they feed the corporate world with plenty of workers.

Continue Reading…

I found this gem of a post while doing some research for a current post I’m working on. I actually never posted it, but by the references in the post I must have written it in 2011. Just to honor my work, I’m going to post it largely unchanged, and then I’ll write an update and continuation next week. Enjoy 🙂

By 2010 I’d be six years out of college, and I was sure to reside in a downtown high rise overlooking Central Park in New York City.  It would have been a result of my taking the business world by storm, and relentlessly chasing my dreams until I beat them into submission.  Actually, the exact plan was to move to Dallas after college, transfer to New York City, and then off to London.

The plan for success didn’t include what I would actually do, but I think ‘business’ was the common answer.  The answer wasn’t important at that point, but I knew I would be successful and that sounded like an ideal succession of cities to conquer!  This dream of my was formulated well in High School in 1999.  My parents recently reminded me of this and I had to laugh. Continue Reading…

That’s right, you’ll never be the person you wish to be – I’ll bet you money on it.  It may sound a little mean at first, but it’s only reality, right?

You'll Never be the Person You Wish to be

We thought it’d be cool to be a “Yogi”… until we traveled to SE Asia and realized the only people who do yoga are from Western cultures!

In Self Reliance, Emerson wrote, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood shed with them.”

We give up, we settle, and we change.  When I was young, my ambitions were to become President of the United States or at least procure another formidable political position.  As a teenager, my focus went towards the Air Force Academy and flying  jets.  After changing my mind and by not pursuing a path to the Academy, I decided I’d go into the corporate world and someday become a big CEO.

Have I disassembled my bridge to the moon so I could start building my wood shed?  Possibly.  Have I given up the dreams of my youth in pursuit of a more realistic living?  Maybe.  Have I changed since I was a kid?  Definitely.

Continue Reading…

Is Getting Rich the Answer?

February 3, 2014 — 6 Comments

You know what I’m talking about when I say that, right?  We always talk about nice it would be to get rich – then we’d be happy, or then we’d finally do what we want, whether it’s quit the job you hate, travel the world, or pursue what makes you happy.  Getting rich must be the answer.

However, as the old saying goes, wish and one hand poop in the other and see which one gets filled first!

After I sent out the post about how Drake’s rich father handles money, another reader emailed me his story.  Basically, he’s rich now because he recently sold a business for millions, and now he’s trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  Here’s what he said – let’s break down each paragraph:

I have it pretty good and it’s hard to bitch about a job and work environment that you created but it definitely makes me ponder what I would want to do differently next time.  I know these things for certain:  I hate  commuting, but I don’t like  working from home all the time; I hate sitting in front of a computer all day, I like working out at lunch, I like being creative and building a real product, I like selling at first but hate the repetition of doing it over and over again.

Continue Reading…

Hello, Master

January 20, 2014 — 12 Comments
Elephant Village, Laos

Driving my queen around in Laos – she’s not the “Master” I’m referring to though!

After ten months of unpaid leave from my company while we traveled the world, I knew it would be somewhat difficult to go back to my regular job.  We rode elephants in Laos, pet tigers in Thailand, feared for our life in Jordan, and watched the mesmerizing Northern Lights in Iceland.  We pushed ourselves beyond our previous limits when we hiked a mountain in Malaysia and visited 4 tiny villages in the remote mountains of Nepal as we trekked for 65 kilometers over four days.  We saw each other every day, and almost every minute – with the number of times we were apart for more than an hour easily countable on two hands.  We put every ounce of trust and faith in each other’s hands as we set out as a team to explore the world.

Our days were no longer defined by fighting through the week just to have two days to do what we wanted on the weekends – which are usually filled with doing chores we don’t want to do anyway!  Instead, we did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and we were more active than we’d ever been before.  Our time wasn’t filled with lazy days on the beach, but instead of near constant motion of traveling to new cities, finding our home for the next few days, exploring the major sites, and at the same time planning our next destinations. Continue Reading…

Poem: The Story of Time

January 1, 2014 — 4 Comments

The start of the new year made me reflective and poetic.. I hope you enjoy!

When he was young he didn’t know Time
It was something that passed with no meaning to him.
When he met Time, he wondered why Time was so slow
Christmas took so long to arrive, birthdays were too far apart.

As he got older, Time was finally on his side
No more need to count down days
No need to live in the past or the future
Time was there for him, so much so that he took Time for granted.

As he aged, he began to learn the importance of Time
Time was a great healer
Time helped him get over broken hearts
However, Time was starting to move faster
Time started to take a toll on his aging parents.

What happened to his friend, Time?
Time was always in such a hurry to continue
Birthdays came and passed, babies aged to teenagers
Time started taking his family members
How could Time betray him?

He felt like it was just yesterday when Time moved too slow
But now Time couldn’t be stopped
Time was counting down his days.
Soon, his Time was gone.

What can we learn from Time?
Time is slow, but Time is fast
Time is your friend, but Time is your enemy
So treasure your Time, because it’s all you have.

 

The Story of Time - Big Ben

A night shot of Big Ben by Jocelyn