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The Art of Writing Every Day

Writing takes discipline.

I told myself that once I got my new website up and running I would endeavor to write everyday for a week. Just one week Alex you can do it.  (You can do it! You can do it?)

It’s all a matter of finding something to write about. But even with that, it’s a matter of discipline to sit and write. I think that was one of my necessary workable traits. My father always told me that: Discipline. It was easy for him say, he was in the Israeli Navy. In fact he was in a military naval academy from age fifteen until he was drafted into mandatory Isareli service. I think he ate discipline for breakfast and dinner. (Lunch was sliced meats and vegetables.)

But wait… let’s stay focused. Where was I?

Right… writing is discipline. Discipline requires focus.

In a world where we have Internet, Facebook streaming news stories, podcasts I can’t believe there is a day where we don’t learn something new, a day where we don’t hear something that shocks us, annoys us, or better yet impresses us.

But with so much going on around us do you ever find it hard to focus on any one thing? 

Did you know about the Benjamin Franklin Effect?

Benjamin Franklin Effect

I’ve had the luxury of be able to read a lot lately, listen to podcasts and dive deep into some very fascinating topics. It was a function of having the time, and making the time to read and learn. It’s something we often overlook. Recently a friend left his job between moving from California to Toronto and wanted to stay busy on top of the general business of moving countries.

I suggested reading more. There is some startling percentage of adults that do not read after high school, and university. As if all the knowledge that can pick up is found in text books and course syllabi. I’m trying to muffle my laughter. (I learned more outside of school than I ever did in class, and sometimes I find it troubling that so many people focus on formal education. I have generally accepted that we humans are capable of so much if we put our mind to it. I am teaching myself Spanish, taught myself photoshop, bettered myself at food photography and even taught myself to make a wedding bouquet and a boutonniere for my small wedding ceremony.) 

A couple of years ago I made the decision to go back to school for my Masters. It was a promise I made to my mother in her final days, and something I’m very proud of doing. The Masters was in Conflict resolution and Mediation at Tel Aviv University. In it I was fortunate to take a level 101 in psychology that opened my eyes to some really incredible ideas, most notably the cognitive biases and heuristics we develop as humans.

In my days after the Masters I managed to read many books on thinking and happiness including Stumbling on Happiness, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Upside of Irrationality, You Are Now Less Dumb, Drive, Attached, Learned Optimism and Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending.

(I strongly recommend the last four listed.)

All these and about a half dozen books on relationships (many by relationship expert John Gottman)

One of my motivations was trying to have a greater understanding of the relationship I had been in, a clearer understanding of myself, and a fully understanding of how we think about ourselves, and how other people think.

Let me tell you it’s fascinating. I’m sure you already know that we humans, our emotions, what motivates us, drives us, what scares us, what prevents us from growing are all so incredibly intertwined, and very much a common and heavily shared experience. That’s not to say that we all have our own journey,  influences, and experiences. But we aren’t all that different from our deep wants and needs. We aren’t that unique snowflake we sometimes think we are.

While I would loathe to say this but we all respond to love and fear, carry a deep sense of fight or flight in any and all instances. Thousands of years of human evolution and we consistently revert back to very primal responses.

That shouldn’t be an excuse for bad behavior, or a poor moral compass.

I think delving into what makes us happy, figuring out how we think, and what we can do about it are important aspects to being better versions of ourselves. 

Reading was an important personal development for me following my Masters program, because of several personal experiences that changed me (one of which was being in a relationship with someone)  More importantly, I was entering into a time in my life where it wasn’t okay to keep living and reacting the way I was. It was time for really in-depth self reflection, introspection, growth.

They say death and taxes are the only constants in life, but I would include CHANGE.

When my friend said he was a little bored when he wasn’t working and wanted to make the most of his free time I recommended reading not just because it’s a great way to learn new things, but ultimately it makes you smarter, more informed, teaches you knew things to incorporate in your every day life, connects you with your partner, friends and strangers, and fires up your imagination, breathing life into your every day routine.

It allows you to be more interesting while at the same time opens your mind to be more interested. 

You should visit your local library. Or ask a friend to mail you a book. You’d be surprised what someone might send you.  A friend sent me Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont, a beautifully scripted piece on the artistry of writing and filled with lovely nuggets of life advice (thank you Amanda.) It is definitely not a book I would have ever considered.

Perhaps it’s time you picked up that fantasy book that’s so popular (A Song of Ice and Fire), that genre filled with nostalgia you never thought you’d enjoy (Ready Player One), or that Pop Psychology book (You Are Not So Smart) you’ve been eyeing the self-help section.

We could go on living our lives without looking deep within ourselves and understand why we behave and react the way we do. But wouldn’t life be much simpler if we just tried? Or at least more compassionate?

Maybe accepting our shortcomings and working on them requires the greatest discipline of all. 

It’s probably why I’ll stick to writing something new every day this week.

If you are reading this and want me to send you a book, message me or leave a comment.

Alex@ alexk.ca

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