I've become obsessed with two ideas in the first half of 2017:
- The idea that you can expand your mind beyond what you thought was capable, and
- The idea that you can alter your reality and perhaps permanently change your view of the world around you
It's possible to achieve both of these simply by intaking new information, having interesting conversations, and engaging in activities that get you out of your comfort zone.
This post is split into sections, with each section representing content I've consumed or experiences I've had in 2017 that have expanded my mind or altered my reality. Click on each word below to jump to that section.
Books are amazing. A friend of mine once brought up a very interesting notion about the role of books in our world. The notion is that if all human beings had a natural way to seamlessly and instantly exchange information with no words, actions, or symbols, then this would be "perfect communication" and books would be largely unnecessary. If to convey a lifetime of memories and lessons took but a mere glance into another person's eyes, biographies and memoirs would have no use. If the most raw and complex of human emotions could be conveyed in less than a second, novels and plays would have no purpose. Nevertheless, this perfect communication does not exist, so books are pretty awesome. Here are some interesting ones I've read in 2017:
Currently Reading: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
- This historical recollection of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago has two sides: the architectural significance of the fair and the serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Martin Scorsese is working on a film depiction of the book with Leonardo DiCaprio as the charismatic murderer.
Everything that Remains by Joshua Fields Milburn with interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus
- This is the third book by The Minimalists, which they refer to as the "why" behind their minimalist lives. In it, they share the personal events that led to abruptly leaving six-figure careers to pursue simpler, more purposeful lives. They've got two other books which I haven't read yet - Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life (the "what") and Essential: Essays by The Minimalists (the "how").
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- I'm still reeling from this spiritual deep dive by modern-day philosopher Tolle. The book focuses on staying in the present moment and ignoring thoughts of the past or future.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
- This 1985 classic is a must-read for dystopian fans. I was a little embarrassed I hadn't read it till this year. Nonetheless, this book's got some strong messages about gender equality and human rights, as well as a page-turning plot line. I love a good revolution. Hulu's currently running a series based on the novel, and the trailer gave me chills.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
- This semi-memoir and first work by bestselling Eggers reads like a David Foster Wallace essay. It is a raw, honest, stream-of-consciousness narrative about being forced into adulthood before you're ready (but are we ever actually ready to "grow up"?). A must-read for any twenty-something confused about the direction of their life.
- These two silly, poignant, heartwarming books take place in Seattle, one of my favorite cities. Both explore the complicated nature of family dynamics and the idea that a single moment can change the course of your life.
Podcasts are my favorite form of entertainment. I love storytelling and the unknown. I love suspense and thrill and shocking plot twists. Most of all, I love hearing the unique creation of another human being. Here's what I've been plugged into so far this year:
- These are must-listens if you like science fiction, conspiracy theories, psychological thrillers, and/or underground mysteries. Both are told in a journalistic, docu-drama style that raise the hairs on your neck and keep you on the edge of your seat.
- These two dope dudes have been spreading the good word of minimalism throughout the 2010's. You may have seen their awesome indie documentary on Netflix, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. They also go on speaking tours and have led up various philanthropic efforts. Their podcast cover the whole spectrum of intentional living in a way that is conversational, entertaining, and soothing to the mind.
Let's Know Things by Colin Wright
- Colin Wright is the OG minimalist digital nomad. He quit his "day job" back in 2009 to become a full-time traveler and has been doing cool shit ever since. He's a blogger, author, publisher, speaker, and, as of about a year ago, a podcaster. I love following his "unconventional" lifestyle and listening to his podcast. If you like to understand the context of breaking news and geek out about current events, this is the podcast for you. He's also got a pretty dope newsletter that accompanies this podcast. Added bonus: he's got a very soothing, borderline sultry, podcasting voice.
Positive Programming is an exercise that trains the subconscious mind to have better mental habits. The idea is that by exposing your mind to empowering, enlightening content, you improve your ability to reject the negative, dysfunctional thoughts that sneak into your mind and cause anxiety and depression. This content comes in many forms - books, speeches, interviews, podcasts, movies, videos. I like to listen to YouTube videos - talks and interviews from a handful of interesting people I follow. I've made a habit of listening to these videos first thing in the morning; as a result, I have felt lighter, less stressed, more grateful, and more in awe of the world around me.
Here are a few videos to get you started:
In the commercial for her athleisure brand Ivy Park, Beyonce poses a pressing question: where is your park? For me, where there is coffee is where my park shall be. There is something about working in a cozy shop, nursing a caffeine buzzzz, surrounded by people quietly working, sipping, glancing. It is the perfect social environment for an ambivert such as myself: completely in my individual head and space but encircled in the animal warmth that is the presence of other humans. I get in this flow state where I feel like I can create anything, envision anything, and time does not pass - it does not exist - and I experience a bliss-like state. Coffee shops are my park. Here are some awesome ones I've visited so far in 2017:
This quote from Cheryl Strayed describes so accurately what I feel when I go hiking:
"It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way."
- Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
I've had some seriously interesting revelations and peaceful experiences while hiking so far this year. I can't wait to see where I find myself over the next few months of summer in Colorado.
Travel is such a gift. It allows you to see cool places, to experience different communities and cultures, and to connect with friends - both old and new. It can also push you out of your comfort zone and reveal things about yourself you never knew. Some of my most memorable experiences from this year so far have been made while traveling.
Weekend in Los Angeles
Las Vegas, TOO LIT
2017 has been pretty damn awesome so far. I hope it has been for you as well. Thanks for reading! Now, let's destroy the rest of this year. Take it easy.