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Archive for June, 2012

Upgrade Your Morning Ritual, entry 1

I started writing a piece entitled “Upgrade Your Morning Ritual” when I first started my blog almost a year ago, but as many times as I went back to it, I could never finish.  The reason being, I don’t post any advice that I can’t myself follow most of the time.  After lunch, my day is usually great as I’ve gotten quite good at turning my day around, even if I started off on the wrong foot.  But I often ask myself, “Why can’t I start my day off on the right foot?!”  Upgrading my morning ritual has been an enterprise into which I’ve consistently put effort and at which I’ve consistently failed.  Since I started working, my typical morning has looked something like this:

1. Hit the snooze button until doing so yet another time would make me late for work.

2. Curse myself for not sleeping earlier the night before.

3. Rush through brushing my teeth, showering, and getting dressed.

4. Skip breakfast at home and rush to work.

5. Buy unhealthy fast food next to work and down it in less than 2 minutes (no exaggeration).

6. Feel a little off the entire morning because of my hurried pace.

The only element that I have fairly consistently upgraded is breakfast.  Because my finances have been tight over the past couple of months, I have been making breakfast the night before from leftover groceries.  You might call it a blessing in disguise.  There are so many other things I want to change about my routine, but I realize that transforming myself from night owl into early bird will be more difficult than I had envisioned.  Rather than overhaul my entire morning ritual all at once, which has previously proven futile, I’m going to focus on improving only one thing each week.  So starting tomorrow, I will wake up 5 minutes earlier each day to make my bed.  If an upgrade to your morning ritual is also long overdue, then start this with me and together we can build a better morning brick by brick.

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Ladder to the sky

Every day in the news you hear stories about the sad state of our economy.  Many people need not even turn on their tv or computer to find this out; they live it on a daily basis.  Prolonged unemployment.  Unaffordable healthcare.  An endless barrage of bills and student loan payments.  I hear people now saying that anything below $4.00 per gallon is a good price for gasoline.  Huh?

Even if you are one of the lucky ones, which I consider myself to be, I’m sure you are working harder, more hours, and for less pay than you used to.  You likely know of at least one person who just cannot find a job, especially if you live in California.  I live here now, and I know of several.

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Shooting the ball into the hoop

“I won’t eat it,” I said as I pushed it to the edge of the plate with my fork.

Like most children, I loathed vegetables, especially broccoli. I thought it tasted bitter and the texture of the florets against my tongue felt like I was putting dirt into my mouth. Like most parents, my mom had tried (and failed) to get me to eat it. The battle was a hard-fought one. She assaulted me with her words. She cornered me in my room. She tried getting broccoli into my stomach by camouflaging them with melted-cheese, or stir-frying and cloaking them in oyster sauce. One time she even cut off my access to the dinner table, but as soon as she saw that I wouldn’t hesitate to starve myself, she finally conceded to working around my finicky palate. Yet by the following week, I was eating not only broccoli, but almost any vegetable that she put on my plate.

What had changed?

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A close-up of chess pieces

In any negotiation, the key to getting the best deal is to conceal your neediness. If your counterpart senses any desperation, she will make you pay dearly for it. And why shouldn’t she? You would do the same if the shoe were on the other foot.

First of all, never believe her lies. Am I calling her a liar? Are you a liar for withholding your vulnerability? Don’t concern yourself with such labels. This is strictly business. You’ve both entered into this transaction knowing the other party will act in their own self-interest. Look for patterns in her behavior and watch out for inconsistencies. Do not be fooled by claims of innocence; they will pass between her lips easier than a slice of ripe mango.  You must draw your own conclusions and trust your own judgment.

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My New Favorite Song

Has anyone heard this song?!

Gym Class Heroes (feat. Ryan Tedder) – The Fighter

If you haven’t, go listen to it!  I heard it on the radio today and it is simply amazing.  It is the kind of song that gets me motivated to do the things I know I should do, but don’t feel like doing.  A song that resonates with you can instantly create an emotional high.  And during such a high, you ought to pay attention to what your emotional state becomes associated with.  If not, it will become associated with something automatically–the person you’re with, your environment, a particular object, or even a particular thought.  This is often how couples find “their song.”

That’s all well and good, but if you’re aware of this process, you can take control of it, consciously associating it with a personal goal, for example.  Don’t underestimate how powerful this can be.  For most of my life, I’ve had very poor study habits.  In college, I used to wait until the morning of a midterm or final to tear off the shrinkwrap on my textbook, and begin studying then.  But for my Optometry Admissions Test, I was actually able to prepare a month in advance, putting in 8 hours a day thanks to Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” and Madonna’s “Die Another Day.”  I listened to it almost every 90 minutes of every day during my study sessions.  That may seem a bit excessive, considering how psychotic it made me, but you have to understand: I was really freakin’ lazy!  And that’s what it took to keep my nose to the grindstone.

Anyway, great song!  Go listen to it.  It will make your day.

Love

A. T. Bui

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A bonfire

This post is a continuation of Part I: Inspiration and it is meant to be read in order.

Part II: Ideas

A fire needs not only oxygen to continue burning, but also fuel. Even the most formidable conflagration can be extinguished by a lack of lumber. If you are to take photos, what concepts will you seek to capture? If you wish to make movies, what stories will you tell? If it is songs you desire, what motifs will you compose? Once you feel that inspiration, that urge to create, you will need ideas to fuel your fire. Even a gym rat needs to come up with novel ways to reinvent his routine.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get those creative juices flowing, especially when that sponge between your ears may feel all dried up. Here’s what I do to overcome my own periodic writer’s block:

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