November and I can still work outside. Loving it strong.


Dan’s Facebook Fast

Here is Dan’s experience with a Facebook Fast of sorts, along with interesting statistics:

  • Over 33% of Facebook users report feeling unhappy during their visit (1).
  • Envying Facebook “friends” is the major reason for the unhappiness (1).
  • People who browse but do not actively communicate on Facebook are particularly vulnerable to feeling unhappy (1)(2).
  • The longer the hours spent on Facebook, the higher the likelihood of believing others are happier (2).
  • The more we amass Facebook “friends” we don’t know, the higher the likelihood of believing others are happier (2).
  • The more we interact face to face with friends, the lower the likelihood of believing others are happier (2).
  • Facebook comparison may be especially impactful for women (3)(4)(5)(6).

What I Learned From Dudley and Chris

There are 2 concepts I learned from previous roommates that continue to stick with me.

From Dudley I learned to always leave the bathroom cleaner than you found it. I remember repeatedly seeing him tidying up the bathroom as I’d walk past. Nothing major; it took maybe a few seconds on his way out. But once you start doing it, you realize the impact it has over the longer term. Your bathroom stays in better shape longer. It feels like a nice silent contribution as a guest.

On a deeper level, it’s fulfilling to be leaving places better than you found them. Duds may not know he taught me this, but I’ve carried it with me for years now.

What I learned from Chris was the concept of “snapping into action.”

We’d be lounging around Saturday morning, burning time and avoiding the things that need to get done. Then he’d mumble, “OK, time to snap into action” and start attacking his to do list.

I was always impressed with his ability to transition from lazy to active, so of course needed to try it myself. It’s not perfect, because I’m not always committed to it. But it is a useful tool I still use to try getting myself moving. And either way, I love the idea of giving yourself an anchor for the times you need to snap to it.


I barely check Facebook anymore.

It all started during a recent visit home when I realized the extraordinary heights of my compulsion to check it. During commercials. Riding in the car. Upon waking up. Here I am with precious little family time and I couldn’t pass through a few idle moments without escaping.

And the thing is, the more you check it, the more you’re likely to check it again.It’s a vicious cycle. So if I check it in the morning, I’ll be checking it every hour in the afternoon, and any dull moment by nightfall.

So I decided to Facebook fast for a week.

Removed it from all mobile devices. Committed to avoid checking it on my computer (I should have used SelfControl to remove the element of willpower, but I instead relied on the fact that I’m worth it.)

The first few days were tough.

But slowly, then suddenly, the compulsion drifts away. You forget about it. And you realize the Newsfeed isn’t a place to spend life. Then you notice how draining it was. The constant and perpetual scroll toward the next hit of dopamine.

The fast felt refreshing.

At the end, I left it off my mobile devices, which is big, but I eventually came back to using it on my computer. However, since my Ben Franklin commitment to block my problem websites, I’ve reduced dramatically. My mental health, energy, and sense of presence are better for it.

I think everyone should try it, even for a week.

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“Win or lose, you need to remember who you are,” Nelson said. “And a lot of people go into the Super Bowl saying if you win it’s going to change your life forever. It’s obviously the pinnacle of our job. That’s what you want to do is win a Super Bowl, but if that’s the pinnacle of your life, you’re going to come up short.”

A firm footed philosophy. Just like you’d expect from him.

Unlike many players, I suspect he’ll be plenty happy with life after he retires.


Quitting is Contagious

While recounting his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in his book, Travels, Michael Crighton mentions his belief that quitting is contagious.

It’s the idea that it’s easier to skip the gym on Wednesday after skipping it Monday and Tuesday. And how quitting one pursuit will lead to quitting other pursuits as well.

I believe in this, too. It falls in line with the ideas that everything is a skill, you’re either getting better or worse, and self trust.

I’m struck by how important your self worth and self respect is in all this. Part of the reason I take my goals so seriously is I don’t want to let myself down. When I make a goal, I view that as the most important kind of commitment: one to myself. I don’t want to let myself down because I believe I’m worth it. I’m worth more than whatever distraction, attraction, or impulse might stand momentarily in the way of achieving that desire.

Moving beyond the personal level of the matter, it also sheds light on how you’re influenced by those around you. Are you surrounded by quitters? Or are you surrounded by finishers? Our minds present us enough challenges internally. We could do ourselves a favor by surrounding ourselves externally with folks who support us when we need it, rather than helping usher you off the chosen path.

I like reading everyday because it helps me connect different concepts from different areas of my life. Also, Travels is an awesome book, especially if you enjoy self-reflection.

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Thoughts on Our Neighborhood Cafes

I love how many solid cafes are in my hood. I visit 2 of them almost daily.

They share the same problem: the delicious smell of toasted, delicious bread at lunch time.

This is a direct assault on my “eat no bread” lifestyle attempt. It also directly assaults my hunger levels. You simply can’t sit there smelling that without craving food. So then I get hungry and have to retreat home for lunch.

Wooly Pig also maintains a quality I believed existed, but hadn’t actually experienced in several years. It’s got a community of regulars. You nod and smile to each other. It’s also got groups that roll in to hang out.

It’s a neighborhood node. The local grocer of the 20’s. The soda shop of the 50’s. (Those were the nodes, right?) I’m proud to see nodes yet live.

Golden Bear has bigger table surfaces for working, windows, and outdoor seating. You can sit in the sun. I try to sit outside, but temperatures are beyond my comfort threshold. You can only type for so long with stiffening fingers.

One difference I’ve noticed from New York is cafes here are cool with you hanging around. In fact, they encourage you to park it for hours. it. Electrical outlets are abundant. They happily replenish your tea’s hot water. In NYC, most places offer few outlets, maintain small tables, and want you in and out. I have a fondness for each approach.


I Did Not Know There Were Bison Here

My habit for this month is to write for 10 min each day Monday – Friday.

It’s part of my Personal Power Hour and going well. I haven’t published an article the past few days, but I have been working each day. It’s a longer piece on the Ben Franklin Club we had in NYC.

But today I decided that my intent with the was to publish something each day. To produce words accessible to another human. I’ve maintained a mental block over writing for some time, and this is an initial step toward eliminating that. So Franklin will have to wait. Today I publish.

I’ve found 2 cool things recently.

First, iTunes radio isn’t bad. It’s right there in your iTunes app. Jim Kwik suggested that Baroque era music is the best background music to help you concentrate. So I’m trying it. Pandora could do the same thing, but iTunes seems to have less distracting commercials. You and I could eliminate that conversation by simply paying for Pandora, though.

Second, Mal and I went for a ride yesterday through Golden Gate Park and stumbled on a field with bison. Didn’t expect that. It was fascinating to watch them meander around and reconnect with their massive size. One took a short sand bath. The loudest thought running through my mind was, how do they stay stimulated? Do bison even need to stay stimulated?

I am still enjoying the “honey moon” period of arriving to a new city where you find all new things seem so cool. Colors are brighter. Mundane is novel. It’s like the new environment makes you see and experience life at a higher resolution.

I’d like to continue living with this deep curiosity and excitement. There’s no reason it should stop.



The Implications Of How You Talk About Something

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of leaders and top performers discuss how your thoughts create your reality. You hear it in other incantations as well. The energy and thoughts you put out there come back to you, etc.

I’ve developed an unequivocal belief that this is true.

One of my personal breakthroughs for solidifying this belief stems from a series of college experiences. You’re sharing a beer with  friends. Someone tells a story about a recent poor experience with a guy or girl. Then everyone talks about how, yeah, what a terrible encounter that was. What a weirdo that person was. In order to support our friend, we gang up on that other person.

It took me years to realize much damage this type of conversation inflicted on ourselves. Because the next time I approached a girl, I was worried about turning into her next horror story. I automatically assumed she was going to engage in the same negative storytelling at my expense.

So rather than focus on this opportunity to meet someone new or to take pride in improving my ability to meet new people, I focused on the negative side of it. The worry. What a bummer.

I noticed the other side of this during my daily gratitude journaling. When I focused on the good things that happened each day, I got better at noticing them. I noticed more and more things, finer and finer things. My life filled with more and more positive moments.

For these reasons, I try to be mindful about how I talk about other people and situations. Even if it was a negative experience, there are constructive ways to discuss it. And now I see how the way I discuss it will have implications on my future experiences as well.


What I’ve Observed at Our 3-Way Intersection

There’s a 3-way intersection outside my window, which I watch during my morning Personal Power Hour. Under normal conditions, there’s a comfort in the procession’s rhythm.

But what most interests me right now are the couple things I’ve seen break that steady march.

One of the more astounding things is someone doing a full U Turn while the intersection is busy. Cars. UCSF shuttle buses. Trucks. Young. Old.

All things considered, it normally goes surprisingly smoothly, but I have seen people back up all 3 paths of traffic. Maybe there’s a cultural element I’m missing, but I’m completely astounded by the audacity of the move. You can’t use one of the many driveways in the area? There’s a side street right here with many turn around options. Is the 2 minutes worth the added blood pressure, scorn, and complexity to others?

The other thing I’ve noticed is how many near-ish accidents happen. Most often, this is 2 cars trying to cross the intersection at the same time. OK, it’s busy, people are preoccupied, and with defensive driving this should be easily rectified.

The real issue is often times neither car stops until they get close. Then they also find the time to honk while braking. Then we transition to the Standoff. They both start creeping forward, almost like the person who achieves front position is absolved of responsibility. Meanwhile, everyone else is waiting.

If either person took the responsibility and deferred sooner, then the situation would be avoided.

What I find the most unsettling is how many times this occurs during rush hour and then through out the day. This is just one intersection in the city.