Philosophy is Phun

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Philosophy is Phun Post # 61 – Controlling your mindset (5/23/13)

After finishing the second year of my college career I’ve learned so much about myself. As I grow older I begin to better understand who I am as a person. I’ve become more cognizant of where I am in life right now and where I want to go in the future. The most important thing I’ve learned though is how much our mindsets control our abilities. When I mean mindset I mean the mood and mental attitude you have at any given moment. The importance of this is that it almost 100% determines how you act or react to whatever situation you are in. If are in a crappy mood, your patience greatly diminishes and you are much more likely to lash out on the next person who comes up to you. On the flip side, if you are happy you are more resistant to anything negative that could possibly happen.

Emotions and moods are for the most part hardwired into us and usually naturally occur through our subconscious. How we feel when introduced to stimuli, and more importantly how we react, are determined in part from our personality. Everyone has a different personality so everyone will feel differently when put in similar situations. Learning about myself has allowed me to notice and understand how I feel in a certain scenario. For instance, if I get a bad grade in a class I used to just assume that I was dumb. Now that I’m aware of my reaction to that circumstance, I can change my behavior for future occurrences so the next time I get a bad grade I no longer get pissed off at myself but I try to understand what I did wrong and make improvements for the next time. Life is a huge set of trial and errors and making the necessary adjustments will allow you to achieve your goals easier.

Now just imagine if you could control exactly how you feel whenever you want. If you could make yourself motivated whenever you wanted to, imagine how much more work you could get done. You would actually want to do your homework, study for a test, go to the gym, or whatever it may be. All of us have the capabilities to accomplish our dreams but there are usually many obstacles in our path. But if we could change our mindset from being scared or paralyzed and turn those into the strength and courage to overcome these obstacles, what we can achieve is almost limitless. The problem is though that for some people it seems impossible. Those with short tempers appear to automatically blow up when anything goes wrong, pessimists may seem doomed and forever be stuck with a bleak future, and some people just feel too lazy to get off the couch.

While your personality and who you are as a person may be defined and almost impossible to change, you will always have a choice in how you see the world. What I mean by this is that your perspective is so vital in controlling how you will feel when faced with a situation. It takes discipline to control your perspective in a way where you can positively impact your mindset. Like how I changed the way I saw my bad grades, this technique can be applied to pretty much everything. The problem is there is no one set method of doing this because everyone is a distinct individual with their own unique life. No one person will experience things the same way another will and because of this it is so vital to truly understand yourself as a person. If you start to realize and understand your automatic reactions you are on the right path to manipulating these mindsets into a more productive and efficient thought process. Once you change your thoughts and views, the necessary actions will soon follow.

Philosophy is Phun Post # 60 Part 2 – Becoming Famous (5/23/13)

This is the second part of the philosophy post focusing on becoming famous. Being famous doesn’t always go hand in hand with being rich as many people who are rich may not be famous and it’s also possible to be famous and not rich. When we think of being famous, we usually think about popularity and how that relates to celebrities. In relation to my last post about getting rich by creating an innovative product or service, if it doesn’t have a warm reception with consumers, then it will fail regardless. Think of it in the case of a singer.  In essence, being a singer and getting fans is the same as getting customers. You get fans that are willing to come to your shows and buy your music on the sole basis that they love your product which is your songs. If you can’t get the necessary amount of customers and fans then you will not be very successful so in some aspects and depending on what your market is, becoming famous is a very important part of becoming rich.

Nowadays, we have very awesome technology at our disposal that makes it easier than ever to get our names out there. It’s called social media and it manifests itself in a variety of shapes and forms online through sites like Facebook and Twitter.  The evolution of the internet has made it the go to source for information and news discovery. Back in the day, word of mouth, billboards, TV, etc were the key tools to marketers in order to gain exposure of their products. Advertisements are the major form of becoming famous in the eyes of the public. The way that fame and popularity builds is by giving yourself, your brand, your product, etc as much visibility with the public masses as possible. Fame is built by getting large amounts of people to be able to recognize your product or service and engrain it in their memory. Things like jingles and logos play a huge role in this facet of marketing by making it easy to remember said products or services. Social media gives companies the ability to connect directly to those who enjoy their product or service allowing them greater ability to control the image of their brand and tailor it to an audience that it appeals to most. For instance, there are many automobile companies on twitter that target their efforts towards the gear heads who love cars.

There are those who believe that just by getting your name out there, you can get famous. The problem is that there’s so much out there that it’s almost impossible to get any traction or popularity within a market. No matter the industry, there is usually a giant behemoth that almost has a monopoly on that industry. In the technology sector it is companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple that run everything and usually run all other smaller competitors out of the market. It’s because they’ve gained enough exposure and popularity early on to keep them rooted and establish dominance that so far has stood the test of time. Mom and pop shops have almost been eliminated from existence because of the likes of Walmart and Target.

There are those exceptions to the rule however. Every once in a while you see a something special that seeps through the cracks of normality. Whether it’s something awful like Rebecca Black’s Friday or something amazing like the “hide yo kids, hide yo wife” guy, there are these special gems out in the world that become virally popular. Viral things are great ways to get publicity and often spawn trends like dances with the Jerk or addicting games like Angry Birds and Temple Run. It’s often tough to synthetically create a successful viral marketing campaign as it seems almost random what becomes spread virally. How exactly did everyone come to know that Rebecca Black made what could be said the worst song in the world? Many companies have been attempting to answer that question using complex algorithms and analytics to judge what exactly will become the next big thing and there is a lot of money out there for someone who figures out the best way to make something become viral. The one downside of viral content and marketing is that it is usually short lived as many consumers keep looking for the next national phenomena. The Harlem Shake was popular for about a week and then when someone made another video after that short time period they were behind the times.

Ultimately fame amounts to what the consumer sees and thinks of. This is why those who become famous do so by appealing to their target market. If whatever you’re selling falls in line with your customers’ interests, the customers will probably like you more and if you can garner large amounts of populations to feel the same way you can reach mainstream status. Justin Bieber captured the hearts of millions teenage and preteen girls and that’s why he’s everywhere now. The basic formula for fame is finding a group of people and appeal to what they like. The larger the group of people the more famous you will be. That is way easier said than done however, as getting the opportunity to be in front of such a large audience is a tough job. Make sure you don’t get lost in the abyss of cute animals videos and maybe that video of your cat playing the piano will be the next big thing.

Philosophy is Phun Post # 60 Part 1 – Becoming Rich (5/23/13)

As a little kid we all had dreams of becoming rich and famous like the celebrities we grew up idolizing. We wanted to be in their shoes because they seemed to have everything that we could possibly ever want. As a kid, it is almost a need for us to feel wanted. We want others to accept and appreciate us and if we’re rich and famous then those who want and desire you is exponentially increased. This will be a two part philosophy post and on the first one I want to specifically relate to the aspect of being rich.

A good place to start when talking about becoming rich is to talk about what exactly is rich. When we think of rich we normally think of having boatloads of cash on hand and never having to worry about how we’ll make ends meet. We can buy anything our heart desires. I don’t necessarily know how much I agree with the “money makes the world go round” ideology but it’s impossible to deny how much of an impact money plays on our lives. Without the right amount of money it can be impossible to accomplish your dreams. Money buys resources that are necessary to further yourself and get yourself closer to completing your goals. Things like a college education can only be achieved by having the right amount of funds available at your disposal and if people can’t get them then it puts limitations on what they can accomplish.

The amount of money we each have isn’t necessarily completely under our own control. Those lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth are able to be gifted with wealth at birth. They usually are well off and don’t need to worry about where their next meal is coming from or how they’re going to make a living. Most people aren’t able to be born into this kind of life so in order to become rich you must endure a journey to acquiring wealth.

There are realistically many ways one can become rich but some are harder to reach than others but I am going to focus on two main ways to becoming rich in today’s society. The most obvious way would be to create something brand new and original that will blow everyone away. It should ideally be something that nobody has ever seen before and fulfills a need in their life. It should fill a void that hasn’t been there before and it will ultimately make their life easier. Whether it’s reducing the amount of time it takes for a person to commute to their job, shoelaces that never come undone, new music, or something that just evokes happiness, there are many ways that a normal human’s life can be made better by something another person creates. The second main way is to innovate an already existing product, idea, or service in order to make it better. Whether it’s cheaper, more powerful, faster, etc, nothing is perfect so there is a multitude of ways to improve something. For instance, TVs keep getting bigger and bigger and our phones keep getting more and more powerful.

 Innovation directly correlates to money. The more innovative you can be the more money that you will probably receive. The United States became a world power through scientific and technological advancements and that gave rise to a lot of rich people. The evolution of the computer and the internet and those who were involved in it experienced great fortunes and are now very rich. Just look at Bill Gates and what became of Steve Jobs. They both revolutionized the technology industries and the way that we live and both of their companies, Microsoft and Apple, are juggernauts. This doesn’t happen just in the realm of consumer electronics however. You can see in almost every industry, those who can remain ahead of the curve and consistently create the next big thing, whether it be the iPhone or the next great car, will usually be rewarded greatly.

There is a catch though, as it usually takes a lot of money to create these brand new innovative products or services. In today’s business world, many average people with a great idea need to find venture capital funding in order to help them make said ideas come to fruition. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of money to get a website running or to make a shoe and because of that most people need some assistance to get financing. With that there is a cost however, as many investors will take some part of equity in your company or get some type of royalty off of whatever you sell. Don’t fret however as if your product or service finds success in the market then you will still be making a profit and on your way to becoming rich. In order to make lots of revenue you need to have reliable customers which relates to popularity and fame which I will discuss in the next post. Hope you enjoyed reading.

Philosophy is Phun Post # 59 – Commonalities (12/12/11)

To put it bluntly, commonalities are essentially the similarities between two or more people. It is something that we all share in common and is usually a characteristic or feature that we have. In essence, every single person on this planet shares a commonality with one another and that is that we are all human. It is a unique bond that groups us together that distinguishes us from other creatures of this earth like animals and plants. It plays a huge role in creating classifications that separates objects and beings apart from one another. This can have many different uses that I will describe in this post.

One of the main things that commonalities and similarities are useful for is to build networks. If you think about it, since the beginning of time humans have been forming networks with one another based off commonalities. All cultures are formed on the basis of some type of common value or beliefs. It is very useful because is organizes and unites people together under certain values and principles. No matter what your beliefs are, out of the almost 7 billion people on the planet, there is bound to be at least one who shares a common view and perspective as you. Religion is a great example of this. It has united people since the beginning of recorded history. Once a group of people start becoming established based off a set of commonalities, they form civilizations that feed off these principles and put them to practice.

The one problem that is associated with similarities is the fact that not everyone else shares the same values and principles that you do. This has caused many conflicts over the years as almost every war has been started because of conflicts of interest between two different groups of people. Each set of belief systems have different moral guidelines and rules that they abide by as a basis for being a member of that particular group. Because not every group is dictated by the same rules, if any rules seem to hinder another set of rules from existing and being practiced there will be problems associated with it. Whether it is beliefs on how resources to use or what God to praise, history has been riddled with such campaigns to show that one specific group is better than another or at the very least, that one group’s ideals will be carried out over another’s. World War II was started on the basis that Hitler believed that anyone who shared blonde hair and blue eyes in common were genetically superior to everyone else so that justified his belief that everyone else deserved to be wiped out and his people were entitled to world domination.

This brings me to my next point about discrimination because of differences. Since not everyone shares the same set of common beliefs, there used to be a huge resistance to diversity. Whether it was the Crusades, Jim Crow laws, or another other example you could cite from the history books, if you were different in any shape or form from the established authoritative group, you usually were in trouble. Segregation, genocides, and slavery all resulted from being different than those who were in charge and had the power. If you don’t possess a commonality with those who are in control, you were usually at the very least ostracized from their organized body and would lose any benefits associated with being a part of that group. If you weren’t the right race, religion, gender, or another other distinguishing factor, you would be severely limited on the opportunities available to you in life and most likely be stuck with a life of hardships and barriers.

Luckily, as society becomes more advanced and civilized, these distinctions that once separated are now viewed as vital. Society is placing a bigger importance on the commonality that I mentioned in the beginning, we are all humans and all deserve to be treated as such. Diversity is now advertised at all colleges and it is something that administrators strive to achieve and maintain. We have realized that despite our commonalities, it is through our differences that we gain strength. Everyone has a different perspective and story to share that provides vital insight to our knowledge of the universe. The spread of silk from Asia gave rise to better forms of clothing and the proliferation of the internet has only connected us even more. I personally would hate to live in a society where everyone was just like me. It is really eye opening and reveals new ways of looking at life that can provide me with valuable acumen that I can directly apply to my life. Each individual is unique in their own way and through that we all share a common bond. Crazy huh?

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 58 – Evolution of a College Student (12/4/11)

                As I get closer to the end of my first semester as a freshman here at the University of Maryland, I have realized a lot about my life has changed to an extreme degree, that being an understatement. I no longer have my mom as my alarm clock and instead of my mom and dad I have Andrew and Kyle, my two roommates. I don’t have home cooked meals but now I have dining halls. In high school there was a recognizable small niche community while now I am one in a crowd of 38,000 people. With these changes, I have had to transition into a completely new way of life. For those of you reading right now that have yet become a student of a university, nothing that I can say can truly prepare you for the change of pace associated with being a college kid. It is truly one of the biggest examples of things you must experience first-hand in order to truly understand. While after reading this, you may think that college is a scary time and I won’t lie to you and pretend that it isn’t. It all depends on how you transition into your new lifestyle and that will determine how much you are able to enjoy it and how much success you will have as well. By the end of this semester I can proudly say that I have established this university as my new home and have made many new friends and adjusted my habits to hopefully ensure that I will have success in my remaining years of college.

                In order to have these changes in my life, I must also go through the transition period where I adapt from the old to the new. Adapting is a necessary and vital skill to have in order to be a successful person in life. You don’t need such a blatant example like going to college to know that every day we are faced with situations that require us to adapt and change. It could be anything from adjusting your plan to your entire philosophy and perspective on life. Sometimes these changes are voluntary and others are forced but regardless, making a transition will almost always yield positive results in the long term. It is necessary to assimilate into whatever culture or society you associate with in order to fit in and be afforded opportunities. If you are completely too stubborn to change at all, time will pass you by and you will be stuck with old ways of thinking that may no longer be applicable to the current situation at hand. With this being said, it is still important to retain some of your original ideals and values. These are what make you who you are as an individual and if you lose focus on them then you can really harm your own well being and cause confusion and identity problems. Keeping reminders and memories of where you have come from is a great way to exhibit everything you have accomplished so far in life and will allow you to look forward and focus on achieving so much more.

                As I mentioned, fitting in and getting comfortable are the main reasons why you want to make a transition as smooth as possible and why you ultimately modify your actions or thinking. It is natural to not enjoy the feeling of anxiety and restlessness accompanied by being outside your comfort zone so we attempt to make a place feel like home. This is why many dorm rooms are decorated with posters from home or interests that you have in order to increase this home feeling. It is vital that we in some shape or form get this homey feeling because without it, our productivity and efficiency will most likely be hindered. Most people can’t get work done let alone function without feeling comfortable in their current environment. While there are those people who are exceptions to the rule and feed off the adrenaline that uncomfortable situations give them, for the most part I believe people would rather live in an environment that makes them feel safe and secure rather than scared and vulnerable.

                This transitionary period can vary in duration depending on who you are. Everybody has different comfort zones and their ability to adjust these boundaries of comfortability will directly correlate to how quickly a person will be done transitioning. Going back to the college example, the quicker you can make new friends, get used to your classes, and deal with being completely responsible for yourself, the quicker you will be able to feel at home. I have made this university my home and if you keep yourself open-minded, transitions present an opportunity to try new things and are necessary for growth and advancement.

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 57 – Sacrifice (12/4/11)

With Thanksgiving’s passing, it is important to realize how fortunate we are and we need to make sure we pass on this blessing by sacrificing for others. I have in the past done a video on sacrifices where Tommy and I discussed the decision making process in regards to sacrifices. I ultimately believe the concept of altruism is nonexistent. I believe that every action is motivated with some sense of selfishness because every action you take has a direct implication on your life and well being. While you can say that sacrificing your time to help out someone else, you are still getting something out of that. You are bettering your relationship with that individual you sacrificed for because they respect you for being there to support them. They could also potentially owe you a favor or you are returning the favor for a past deed. Regardless of the scenario, you can almost always find something that you will benefit from if you sacrifice something else. That being said, sacrificing for others is an important part of life because you are helping others achieve success and opportunities that they probably wouldn’t be given otherwise.

This brings me to another point about opportunity costs. As I mentioned in the podcast a long time ago, sacrifices are essentially opportunity costs because you are giving up one thing in favor of another. There isn’t enough time in the day to be able to do everything that you could possibly want to do regardless of if you were to sacrifice or not. Sacrifices also don’t have to just be done externally onto other individuals. In fact, most of your sacrifices in life will be done to better yourself in some form. Think about it this way, there are different priorities and goals that we all have in life and depending on their importance, we will most likely give up or make adjustments that will allow us to better complete said goals. I get the feeling that most of the times sacrifice gets a negative connotation because when you hear the word sacrifice, most people automatically assume you must give up something you enjoy to make way for something that is important but may not necessarily make you happy. This is a reasonable assumption however because why would you be doing something unenjoyable in the first place way before it came time to give it up as a part of a sacrifice. The example I used in the podcast before was giving up videogames in order to study or do homework. You sacrifice the entertainment that videogames provide you in order to become better educated and better prepared for your next exam and thus a better grade.

It doesn’t always have to be like this scenario (what many people would call a win-lose situation) and there can be possible benefits for making a sacrifice that are unforeseen. There are literally unlimited amount of events that sacrifices are applicable to but one sacrifice you could think of that provides win-win benefits is breaking a drug addiction. While you may think initially that the withdrawal side effects of ending an addiction are a negative, you save your health, time, money, and relationships in the long run that continuing to do drugs would have never afforded you.

This brings me to my next point about the difference between long term and short term implications and consequences of a sacrifice. The results of a particular sacrifice may never be seen for years to come while in other situations you can potentially see immediate results. I believe that the quicker you can visibly and clearly see the difference that your sacrifice is making, the more likely you will be willing to make that sacrifice, depending on the benefits of course. We live in an age where immediate satisfaction has become a necessity with the proliferation of things like the internet. We need to see the effects of what we’re doing right here and right now or else we get antsy and impatient. If we can’t see the results of the sacrifices we’ve made within a short duration of time, people can get the feeling that their sacrifice is useless and they could potentially be giving up something they really enjoy for no reason at all. This is why many people can’t finish diets. They give up tasty but fatty foods in order to get a healthier palette but it takes a while to lose weight and get in shape so in the short term they perceive themselves as only giving up something they cherish while getting nothing in return. I ultimately believe that sacrifices are a necessity in life because they allow us to prioritize our actions and goals more effectively through a focused lens and really allows us to direct our lives down the most desirable path.

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 56 – Exams (11/21/11)

As college finals start to roll around in the next couple weeks I wanted to dedicate this next post to the exams in our lives. We all know what exams are but to define it I would say that exams are the tests that are utilized to determine the amount of knowledge or skills you have acquired through learning on a particular subject.

If you have ever gone through the educational system you have no doubt been tested in some shape or form. These tests supposedly used to measure your intelligence on certain material to make sure that you know what the Board of Education has determined you need to know to be successful in the working world and life in general. The way that these educational institutions have put an incentive to make sure we perform to the best of our abilities is through grades. These grades play such an influential role in determining what you can achieve in the future. If you don’t do well in high school then you won’t get into a good college and then you can pretty much count your chances of having a good life goodbye is essentially what we were taught when we grow up.

This is true to an extent. While you shouldn’t necessarily blow off your grades in an attempt to always get 4.0’s I have definitely felt there were times when I worked harder than necessary and I could have achieved sufficient if not the exact same grade. This is where artful strategies come into play. Life is a game and you need to know how to play in order to be successful. You can think of exams as milestone markers to test what you know or you can do to see what you’ve accomplished so far but you need to know how to budget your time and effort effectively in order to be as successful as possible. Studying and reviewing is a vital part in being successful on your exams but you need to budget your time with other activities in order to maximize your chances of success.

The idea of an exam is not exclusive to school however, and can be applied to almost all facets of life. Life will inevitably throw difficult obstacles at you which can be thought of as tests. You ultimately everyday are applying your knowledge and what you’ve learned to the world and if you know your stuff you will prosper.

With each test you face in life you need to approach it with a specific tactic. Like I mentioned earlier, Life is a game and with each game you play there is a different strategy you need to take. You wouldn’t play a game of Monopoly the same way you would play a game of chess. They have different rules that you need to play by and there’s no way you could even pose a threat to your opponent if you attempt to checkmate Mr. Moneybags. This is why you need to make sure that you do enough research ahead of time (or studying in the case of classes) to be successful for when it is actually time to be tested.

Even after we graduate from school and never have to take another math or history class again, we will still continue to be tested until the day that we die.  In our jobs, we will be given tasks that need to get completed with a certain budget and a deadline. The great thing about tests though is that they give us an opportunity to demonstrate our aptitude for whatever area the test focuses on. We can showcase our abilities and each test ultimately has a final goal that will be achieved if you perform well on the test. There is almost always a benefit associated with doing well on an exam whether it is a good grade in school or get a promotion for doing a great job on an assignment your boss gave to you. Tests can be nerve-wracking, especially if you aren’t prepared for them, but if you manage to succeed on a test then there is no doubt you are on the right track to succeeding in life.

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 55 – Holidays (11/19/11)

Earlier this week I got an email from one of the Vice Presidents here at the University of Maryland about the traditional University Holiday Card and it made me start to think about how important holidays are to not only the America public but to the whole world as well. This is the special time of the year where everyone comes together to take time to celebrate family, friendships, and life as a whole. I personally love this time of the year because it brings people together and there is a certain feeling in the air. It first starts with Thanksgiving that was originally started to celebrate a great harvest of the fall and to hold a feast for everything that it has produced. As time has progressed, it has given us the opportunity to show our love and proves that family and friends are of great importance in a healthy live, just as much as a great food is. As we all get busy with school and work, it is really easy to forget what it really important in your life. Coming next week when we all have the opportunity to go home I hope that you all will show your family and friends just how important they are in your lives.

But that is just the start of the holiday season! Once the end of October and Halloween comes around you can almost feel a different vibe in the air. There are so many emotions attached to this time of the year. Just like Thanksgiving represents a strong communal bond, the holiday season only accentuates this after November ends too. Whether you’re watching the 25 Days of Christmas on ABC Family or hear some holiday music blaring, you can feel the holiday spirit in the air. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Christmahanakwanzika, we all can agree that December is a very special month. Everyone is happy and it provides college kids the opportunity to head home and relive parts of their life that used to seem like distant memories. Unless you are Mr. Scrooge, it is obvious how much more friendly everyone is because that is a huge side effect of the holidays.

Holidays in modern society have come to mean a lot of different things and have changed from their original purposes. One of the biggest things that have become attached with the holiday season today is materialism. Black Friday is one of the biggest days for retailers and most stores often open at 4 a.m. with tons of promotional deals encouraging consumers to make the treks to their local shopping malls. Capitalism and commercialism really benefit from the holiday season, probably something that jolly ol’ St. Nick didn’t intend to happen.

If you didn’t get that reference that I made then you probably don’t know the origins of popular holiday traditions. Most people have completely forgotten the religious aspects of the holiday season. I’m not going to even pretend to you that I know beyond the basics. Just google Christmas origins and you’ll find out so many things that you had no idea were even true. It is important to find out the roots of these traditions that are so deeply rooted in modern society because they played a role in making Santa Claus the plump man with the beard he is today.

As the end of December comes around, New Year’s wraps up the holiday season. New Year’s essentially marks a brand new beginning. Besides the obvious fact that it is a brand new year, it holds with it the idea that you are given a clean slate to make your life the way you want to. You approach the coming year with personal goals and resolutions that you want to carry out that will better your life. Whether it’s losing weight, making new friends, or something entirely different, it is a common tradition to enter the new year with a purpose of improving your current lifestyle.

I think an overarching commonality that connects all of these holidays is celebration. As a college, student partying is important to relieve stress but the holidays provide an opportunity to party with purpose. We celebrate our families, our health and wealth, and overall, our life. Not many people are as blessed as we are so holidays represent a chance for us to say thanks and really appreciate all that is afforded to us.

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 54 – Strangers (11/7/11)

                   Hey guys! If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, I have uploaded two new podcasts on the so go watch them! This post is dedicated to a recent thought I had about how everyone is in some way connected to one another even if they don’t realize it. We have probably all heard about the Six Degrees of Separation theory where everyone can be connected to anyone else in the world through a maximum of 6 people (i.e. you know someone who knows someone who knows someone etc). I saw this one documentary that put this theory to the test. The filmmakers dropped off a package at a random village in Africa and told the person that they have 6 degrees of separation (i.e. six people) to get it to another random person in New York City. Obviously the villager didn’t know the person but they did know someone who would come through the village dropping off supplies who was from America. The next time the villager saw the American, he gave the package to the guy who then proceed to bring it back to America and then somehow it eventually ended up to the person it was supposed to. Now with globalization increasing at a rapid rate thanks to technologies like social networks, it becomes even easier to expand you network to encompass people from all around the world.

                  Bringing up the social network concept, sites like Facebook have completely changed what we consider to be a “friend” and who is a stranger. I feel like Facebook has turned the term friends to essentially mean that if you make eye contact with someone you automatically become Facebook friends. I think this applies to everyone because I believe that if you have over 500 “friends” on Facebook one of them is bound to be a stranger to you. I guess since I have been talking about them for a while, it is pretty important to get a general definition of what a stranger is. According to Google, a stranger is defined as “a person who does not know, or is not known in, a particular place or community.” This lack of knowledge is essential what makes the difference between friendship and being strangers. It is a pretty basic idea but it defines all relationships in our lives. In order to have a relationship with someone it requires past experiences or memories of those experiences and some knowledge of that individual. It helps you form an identity with that individual allowing you to recognize them from a crowd and creates distinctions that set them apart from everyone else. If you’ve been hanging out with a friend for a while you will be able to tell things like how they talk, how they walk, what type of humor they have, and other factors that make friendship so special.

                 Another important topic is the scenarios that we get put into with other people that allow us to potentially make acquaintances with those people who would otherwise remain strangers forever. Whether it is a class in school, a brand new job, or a random occurrence these events lay the foundation for developing new relationships that would never exist without them. This goes back to my very first philosophy podcast where I talk about the chance vs. fate debate. Is it strictly by chance that you will one day be in the right place at the right time to start a relationship with a person? Is it really like the movies where you save the person of your dreams from almost getting hit by a car and then you are soon married after that? If that’s the case do you have to thank that driver for almost running over your future spouse or is it just dumb luck that you were close enough to rescue them. Another perspective you could have on this situation was that you and your future spouse were meant for each other since the beginning of time and it is all part of some master plan of life that you were going to save them. Is it possible to control who is a stranger in your life or is it just meant to be? There are also all those what if questions like you could say to yourself “what if I decided to take a different road that day then I may have never met my wife.” I don’t think we will ever know the answer to that but I don’t think you have to wait for someone to almost get hit with a car to start talking to them. I believe it is ultimately up to you who is a stranger in your life regardless of whether it was meant to be or not.

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 53 – Productivity (11/2/11)

                I recently went to a workshop on how to become the most efficient person that you could be. It was a great experience because it taught me some very important things about how to manage your time productively. Time is the most value currency in our lifetimes. You have heard the expression time is money and I just want to restate how much of an understatement that really is. Benjamin Franklin was even quoted as saying “Time is the stuff life is made of.” The man who gave this workshop on efficiency, named Joel Oppenheimer, really opened my eyes on just how valuable time really is. He talked to us about how time is such a unique resource in the fact that it can’t be accumulated, stored, or replaced. It is always being spent at a constant rate of 60 seconds per minute and everything that you do or could hope to achieve has a certain cost of time.

                It is common knowledge that life isn’t fair and every human isn’t born on an equal playing field. For a financial standpoint, some people are born with a silver spoon while others are born with just the clothes on their backs (i.e. nothing). Similarly, not everyone is given the same amount of time here on earth. That’s the problem with time; we never know when it is going to end. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you get everything that you want to get done within the unpredictable amount of time allotted to you. In order to do this you need to know exactly what you want to achieve. This leads me to my next point about goal setting. One of the greatest tips Joel told me was to write my goals down. He presented us some statistics from a study that discovered everyday people like you and I would only follow through with their New Year’s resolution at a rate of 4% while those who recorded their resolutions into a journal would have a completion rate of 49%.

                It isn’t just good enough to have a goal though, as you must also develop S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timing. Specific is pretty self-explanatory. Your goals need to be explicitly clear so that you obviously know what you are aiming for. Measurable factors into your goals by making sure that you can clearly see the progress you’ve made so far and can see at the end of the goal how you have improved or reached that goal in a particular way. Action-Oriented refers to including verbs into the wording of your goals to make sure that you actually complete tasks to accomplish your goals. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. You also need to be realistic when constructing your goals to make sure that your goals are attainable within a reasonable amount of time and effort. Finally and most importantly is timing. You need to make sure that your goals have deadlines in order to push you towards completing them. Goals without deadlines are essentially just dreams with no hope of actually making them a reality.

                 Now that you’ve made your S.M.A.R.T. goals it is important to prioritize the goals you’ve made. After going to this talk I have started constructing lists of goals that I would like to achieve every week starting Monday morning. Some of my goals have continued to appear over multiple weeks because they are important to me and I really hope I achieve them someday. For instance, my ultimate goal in life is to make my own design consulting firm and innovation incubator. I may not have the resources or connections to do such a thing yet but it remains one of my ultimate goals and that doesn’t mean that I can’t do things every week to make my goal more achievable. For instance, I have started to create business plans and will soon try to find funding for my company. Of course goals will vary from person to person but this is where you must decide for yourself what you consider important and what you want to achieve in your own life. Some goals, like my company, are long term but others can be accomplished in one day. Priorities are very important because they allow you to make sure you are spending your limited resources like time and money on things that will help you reach your goals based on order of importance. The ultimate reason why we have goals is to make ourselves happy because it feels good when we get something that matters to us done. Using the 24 hours we have each day, you need to make sure you budget your time and money effective in order to be more productive. The more productive you are the more you can get done thus the happier you will be.

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 52 – Values (10/23/11)

Hey guys! Now that the podcast has been up and running for the second week in a row and we are getting back into the swing of things I decided to bring back the blog too. The schedule for this new philosophy content will be on a weekly basis. Tommy and I will be recording a new episode of the podcast every Friday which will be uploaded during the weekend. During each weekend as well I will be typing up a blog post just like this one. I will also be actively trying to aggregate content on my Human Powered Podcasts site and build it into a media network. My next step is to culminate all the great philosophical content on the web from other bloggers and podcasters and showcase it on my site. I’ll keep you guys posted on how that effort is going.

What I wanted to talk about this week were the inherent values that we all have. This will relate pretty closely with the most recent podcast I did with Tommy but more in depth with my personal values and what I’ve taken from them. I went to a meeting for the Terrapin Leadership Institute and it was very informative and helped me realize a couple things. They made us do an exercise where they gave us a list of words for values and we had to pick our top ten and then gradually reduce the list until we got one final value. In retrospect the list was restricting because there are essentially countless values that one could have and there are more values than words used to describe them. There were a few that did resonate with me though when I was looking at list and these words included Achievement, Challenge, Creativity, Optimism, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Growth, Pioneer Spirit, Recognition, and Success.

Something that I noticed about these words is that they are completely open for interpretation. As with many things in our world, everything is relative to a degree and so is the way that we interpret words. We each have a different perspective on what counts for success or what is considered a challenge so even if two people were to have the same values they would no doubt have different ideas or views on what they mean exactly. These values also don’t have a permanent definition. For me the word successful has a different meaning depending on the situation it is applied to. If I’m in class, being successful means doing well on the exam or getting my homework done. If I’m playing in a soccer game being successful could mean making a good pass, scoring a goal, or ultimately winning the game.

I think it is very important to try and assess what your own personal values are as well. If you have an idea of what you cherish in the world it will definitely help you know what you need to do in order to reach happiness. You’re probably thinking “Oh I know what my values are. It’s easy!” Well I said the exact same thing when we were being briefed on the activity at the Leadership meeting and then I drew a blank. If I didn’t have the list to look at I definitely wouldn’t be able to come up with a comprehensive list of my own. I definitely recommend you do some introspection and try to find out what really makes you tick and what you are really passionate about. If you can do that, you are more likely able to reach your values and by doing so you can find ways to make your life happier. Because pioneer spirit was one of my important values, I know that if I act as a trailblazer and take the initiative in the events of my life I will more likely be happier than if I just sit back and watch life pass me by. Plain and simple, if you know your values, you have the ability to make your life better.

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