Urban stimulants

Photo by Wells Baum (Grand Central Station)
Photo by Wells Baum (Grand Central Station)

There’s a compelling story everywhere you go. But some places (e.g. New York) are more content rich than others.

All you need to do is walk a few blocks and observe with the cerebration of your senses.

The graffiti scrawled on the outside of million dollar apartments, the street smoke billowing out from the sewers, the smell of hot dogs and nuts from the street vendors, the sound of delivery trucks running through potholes, and the scratch you get from someone’s suitcase as they rush by you.

Everything is attractive, a potential a souvenir of the present moment.

New York manufactures an excess of content and inspiration, much like the Internet. Such hyperactivity is overwhelming and hard to parse — some thrive on The City's ubiquitous stimulus, others feel compelled to escape to Florida to refuel.

External provocation is integral to any environment. After all, that's why we travel — to be astounded by newness.

If boredom is your enemy, seeking interesting places with variable rewards may be your calling. But that last thing you want is to get abused by the infinite. It's better to scroll with intention to coalesce out of the void of 24/7 distraction.

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How to close the gap between near and far

How to close the gap between near and far

The basis for life is all interpretation, an internal chatter that either zaps positive momentum or dwells on negativity and drains the well.

For starters, your attitude should weave together what optimizes you rather than what conflicts with the experience of inner freedom. For example, instead of looking at your day job as a means of necessary survival, try to find how it bends toward your expectations.

You should never feel like you have to do anything. Rather, you should feel lucky enough that you get to do it.

Even more, have something to look forward to even if it's an exaggerated goal. Moon shots will push you to find the right focus.

The law of magnetism attaches near and far more often than you think.

gif via @abjahanbin

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‘To be or not to be. That’s not really a question’

'To be or not to be. That’s not really a question'

“To be or not to be. That’s not really a question,” quipped film director Jean-Luc Godard back to Shakespeare's most famous line.

To be is rather a false start. We think that success breeds confidence, but it's actually the little lessons along the way that build up our future.

Struggle makes us human

Similarly, it is our impairments that deem to weaken us that actually but end up making us stronger. As we overcompensate for our flaws, we excel in creating our own unique survival methods that are almost impossible to replicate.

Humans thrive in their own slow march, detached from the cult of action and the tyranny of business and competition. True progress embraces the route of the tortoise, slow and perceptive, inching forward and sometimes backward, bit by bit.

Said Malcolm Gladwell: “A lot of what is beautiful and powerful in the world arises out of adversity. We benefit from those kind of things,” but “we wouldn’t wish them on each other.”

We are all underdogs in something, a compromise that gets us out of bed in the morning and back to work.

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If you’re struggling to get started, do it badly

Perfection is the antithesis of inspiration — it prevents you from getting started.

The trick to getting going is to do it badly. That's right: Be intentionally messy.

Producing crap isn’t the end-goal. The point of taking small actions is to create enough momentum to feel like we’re winning.

What sustains persistence are small improvements. You’re looking to go from one pushup a day to two the next week. You’re trying to walk five thousand steps a day before graduating to six thousand.

You’ll need to write one-hundred words day after day before developing the muscle to get down two-hundred words on a consistent basis. By the way, there is no such thing as writer's block!

Do small things to get started — no matter how poorly — to avoid second-guessing yourself and to prime the motivational pump.

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The big picture view

An animation of girl lying down dreaming in the sand

Everything is a work in progress. From your health to relationships, to making art, the finish line remains elusive because we're always preserving the status quo or making things better. Even democracy is a work in progress.

En Media Res — That's Latin for being in the middle of the action. If inertia is the enemy of action, then we can't afford to sit the good life out.

What's your modus operandi? What're your criteria for a successful future? Is there an ethos you're trying to build for yourself over the next few years?

To stay on track, you need to set goals. Not the ones that invoke jealousy, make you unhappy, enforce you to keep up with others. Chase goals that inspire a way of life, benefit those around you, help develop a sense of purpose, and inspire you to say hell yes despite the burn!

Live by choice, not by chance. Taking control allows one to stay connected to the big picture view. Hold on to your ideas and ideals on how the experience should be and never be afraid to see it through.

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How to keep the good, going

A gif of dog moving head in circles

What goes up must come down. Complacency eventually turns into panic. Once the stream of contentedness kicks in, progress stymies. The will to compete and improve wanes. Expectations which set the tone of achievement, fall at the wayside.

Motivation is a wonder drug. As Brian Eno said, “Everything good comes from enthusiasm.” The urge to improve and inject meaning onto the world protects against a mediocre existence. Once we feel inspired, the tendency is to do as much as we can for as long as we can.

To keep it going, we have to protect against two things: burnout and lost excitement. Overburdening the nervous system with the next-task is a precondition for indifference. If we want the care to go on, we require sanity checks like rest, disconnection, and breaking patterns.

Once the spirit dips and the automaton sets in, a recharge is mandatory. To prevent spinning out of control, we seek to re-energize by inciting alertness. Once we notice that was there was there all along, salient for human eyes, we realize we’re on the road to recovery.

The dip is a sign to move on, to start again before we’re ready. The thrill of beginning again and riding the wave of opportunity keeps the good going. Long-term accomplishment is never luck but the result of the flame of hard work.

gif by @sherchle

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In the search of greatness

In the forthcoming documentary In Search of Greatness, director Gabe Polsky takes us through the athletic genius of athletes like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Serena Williams to explain what sets them apart from the rest. Find out more on the documentary here. #sports #gif
via Reddit

Great athletes break the mold. They're not just gifted. They get creative in the arena, using their intuition and imagination to do things never seen before on stage. The same genius can be said for select actors, musicians, scientists, thinkers and the like.

In the fortchoming documentary In Search of Greatness, director Gabe Polsky takes us through the athletic genius of athletes like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Serena Williams to explain what sets them apart from the rest. Find out more on the documentary here.

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