What are you doing right now?

The subtle murmur of conversation wafts through the Starbucks as I ponder what to write. A fishbowl full of crushed beans whirs a few yards away, dispersing a faint “roasty” smell throughout the shop. Outside people walk back and forth along a snow lined sidewalk, their breath creating micro clouds that quickly vanish in the frigid air. Life is good.

Take some time and soak in where you are right now. How are you feeling? Smells? Noises? Anything catching your eye? It’s fun to stop and enjoy the moment.

Don’t become over-focused on what you’re about to do or what you have done. It’s no fun.

5 things I’ve learned at 25

In light of now being a quarter of a century old, I thought I’d share some lessons learned along the crazy, bumpy, and invigorating ride of life.

1. Learn to say no

This is a hard one for me. As someone who likes to please others, I tend to want to say yes to every invite thrown my way. I’ve learned that it’s just not possible to do that and be consistent with the people that mean the most to me. Learn to say yes to the important things and people in your life, and realize that it’s OK to sacrifice some ground in other areas.

2. Try something new

This is a typical one, but in all reality, the times I’ve tried new things have been quite enlightening and worthwhile. I’m not saying travel to Thailand and shake hands with a monk dwelling in a cave on the side of some snowy cliff. That’s just too far. But try to get out of your comfort zone. Do something that stretches you. We live in a world that continually seeks comfort. It’s time to swim against the flow and try something uncomfortable. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Strike up a conversation with someone on the bus next to you who seems lonely. Those things really count. You’ll feel better for it too.

3. Break some rules

For real. Some of you won’t be happy hearing this, but you can’t live by the book all the time. I’ve seen people that have, and they tend to live cut and dry lifestyles. It’s no fun. Do something on the edge. Once a year my brother and I sneak under a fence into a “no trespassing” area near town (no details) and bring a laptop loaded with a new movie we haven’t seen. We’ll chill and watch the movie out on a beautiful overlook where we shouldn’t be. But let me tell you, those are some of the most crucial times of bonding I’ve had with my brother.

4. Learn to give

Yes. My friends, most of you have been given extraordinary opportunities that so many people in this world would do anything for. Don’t take that for granted. Living in Kenya showed me circumstances in which people can survive and yet emanate a surprising happiness. You’ve heard it said, but I’ll say it again. The love of wealth will not bring you happiness. Learn to give some of what you’ve been given away while you’re younger, and you’ll thank yourself for it when you get older.

5. Learn to be yourself

This is a tough one to swallow for me. The above phrase is a staple in many self help books, discussed in many groups, and constitutes quite a bit of inspirational media, so it must be easy, right? Wrong. I still tend to fall into the trap of agreeing with everything people say, regardless of opinion. I’m continuing to learn that it’s OK to disagree with people and leave it at that. For example, I am a Christian, and hold certain values and ideas for a way of living that I believe works. This rubs many people the wrong way, but that’s all right.

So there you have it. The five things I’ve learned at 25. Thanks for reading, and I hope you got something out of this. If you want to add what you’ve learned or continue the conversation, please comment with your thoughts.

Much love, Jay.

Patience

Right now I’m in Denver, waiting in line to submit plans for my company. As I write this post, the cluster of tired civilians accumulates like sand in an hourglass, while one person sits behind a granite desk attempting to handle the influx.

Have you ever been to the DMV? This situation mirrors its painful slowness. It may be hours before my name is called, so I’ve set up a make shift cot to get some shuteye in the meantime. When the sloths from Zootopia are finally ready my misery will cease.

Im being cynical, and in reality the wait is a good practice in patience. If your occupation demands waiting, find a way to be productive or creative while you wait. Patience is indeed a virtue.

Review – Black Mirror

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Our “Black Bathroom Mirror”. Please don’t make that a show title.

If some of you have recently seen people walking around in a trance as if pondering life’s deepest questions, it’s probably because they just finished an episode of Black Mirror, and thus, are doing just that.

I was exposed (for better or for worse) to this show about two weeks ago on a ski trip. It was late, about 12 AM, but we decided to throw on an episode anyways before hitting the hay.

Black Mirror (BM) almost always begins innocently, with well rounded normalcy in the lives of  each character. As you continue watching, you’ll start to realize every episode features some aspect of technology blown way out of proportion. Whether it’s a device implanted under your skin that captures every memory you’ve ever had, or being able to rate those around you based on interaction, BM delves into the shadow cast by technology. And it’s strangely intriguing.

The episode finished, and each of us realized we were in the fetal position sporting a thousand yard stare. The show isn’t for the faint of heart.

Anyways, if you like sci-fi but wonder what could potentially happen if technology “took over the world” this show is for you. Just make sure your mind is ready for the inception roller coaster*.

(*Note, some episodes, in my opinion are much better than others. If you’re trying it out for the first time, try USS Callister, Nosedive, or overly risque Hang the DJ. Those are my top picks).

Cultivating Connections

I recently attained a new job at a company I’ve always wanted to work for (VERY exciting). They’ve got great people and wonderful opportunities to impact the surrounding community.

With this new transition came a desire to update my Linkedin account and reach out to some old acquaintances. As I was going through people to reach out to, my thoughts drifted to memories we’ve shared years back. I have had some good times with some good people growing up, and I don’t want to lose that in this new professional context.

Lesson learned: Don’t connect with people simply to make your profile look better. Connect with them because they have made a difference in your life or have shared quality experiences with you. Connect with people for who they are, not what they bring to the table.