Symmetry

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Check out my new site! All the old blogs are over there, plus the new stuff! It’s a glorious time at themichaelharris.com

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15 Punches In The Face To Help You Keep Your Resolutions

Be sure to check out the text version beneath the video. It’s packed with resourceful links and goodies; so enjoy yourself like you’re having an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. Please share with your compadres if this tickles your fancy and you feel it would benefit their fancy as well.

1.) Stop Overestimating Yourself – Don’t overestimate what you’re capable of when setting your resolutions. Be ambitious with your goals, yes, but be realistic. If you set goals based on the ridiculously egotistical view of yourself you probably have, you’re setting yourself up to miss steps along the way, lose self-esteem, and eventually give up on your resolutions all together.  Don’t be like 95% of our age group. They think they’re incredible but have, in fact, done nothing that even resembles the word incredible at any point in their entire life.

And on that note, read this article: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person. It’s worth reading at least twice, probably more like six times.

2.) Make Little Resolutions – We need little victories to help motivate us as we trek down the long and tiring road toward our bigger victories. Try to set a few smaller resolutions that you can knock out in the first couple months of the year. Maybe they’re stepping stones (such as losing 5 pounds by February on your way to 30 total) or unrelated, smaller resolutions (such as submitting your first article to a major publication). These little wins will act as confidence boosters and propel you forward.

3.) Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail – If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. There seems to be a weird stigma attached to “planning your life out,” as if you’ll become some OCD maniac who never lives in the moment. That’s absurd. Getting organized will enable you to live your life the way you want to live it. It’s like a super power. It’s called control.

Speaking of planning, here’s an excellent tool from Donald Miller for setting goals and setting the stage for your story this next year: http://mysubplot.com Here you can see it in action: http://mysubplot.com/user/donaldmiller

4.) Start Writing Things Down… NowWe learn through experience. When you write things down, you’re making the information your own. You’re creating an experience. Become a person who’s intentional about the knowledge they retain by developing your own personalized note-taking system.

5.) Use Your Smartphone To Get Smarter – Smartphone’s give you infinite information right at your fingertips. This can either create A.) infinite opportunity or B.) infinite distraction.  Opt for option A.

Awesome apps to help with your resolutions: (Drive and Zinio are available on Android and equivalents of the voice memo and podcast apps are as well.)

Click Me!

VOICE MEMOS: I use this more than anything else. I currently have 2.4 DAYS worth of voice memos feeding into my organization system. I listen to them each Saturday, write down a summary of each note, then direct that information to a to-do list or a reference category. This has enabled me to remember, develop, and expand on any information I could possibly use to help myself grow.

google_drive_icon1GOOGLE DRIVE: Your documents are accessible and editable from your Smartphone.

ZINIO: It’s a magazine app that many libraries have subscriptions to. I get 50 brand-new editions for free (library deal) right when they come out. My personal favs are Men’s Fitness, Pro Photographer, Writer, and Esquire. zinio

PODCASTS: These are free! The NPR 7AM News update: Always less than 5 min, keeps me current on global, current affairs. The Quick and Dirty Tips Series: These are a whole array of Podcasts that podcastsrange from public speaking to fitness to grammar to money advice. Plus, they’re always short and punchy. TedTalks – Incredible stuff. Look under most popular to get started.

6.) Read Non-Fiction – Some of my favorites for accomplishing your goals:

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

And get an Audible account. CLICK HERE. Getting a membership to audible is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, plus you can try it for free for a month. They’re not paying me to say that, either. I wish they were. Seriously, I’ve significantly improved in many, many areas of my life because of Audible. Get a membership.

7.) Get A Library Card – This may be your most important resource in achieving your goals and it’s free. If you think you’re awesome but don’t go to the library, you’re not awesome.

8.) Get AccountableInvolve others in your story. Post resolutions to Facebook and Twitter, yes, but more importantly, connect with a friend face-to-face and commit to helping each other when the going gets tough.

9.) Learn To Say No – This is simply a matter of knowing your priorities.

10.) DON’T Live Every Day Like It’s Your Last – When you do this, you’re by definition ignoring your future. Living a story you won’t regret is a balance of responsibility and impulse. If you onlylive while you’re young,” life is going to suck once your parents finally kick you out, you get married, or you have a kid someday.

11.) Become a Masochist – Growth hurts. Whether it’s the pain of your muscles breaking down in a workout, the pain of refusing that cigarette, or the pain of turning down a party invite in favor of studying, improvement rarely feels good in the moment. Finding pleasure when it hurts is key to thinking long-term and getting where you want to go. (BTW, Click here for the EPIC trailer for Vatican Shenanigans, the film the crazy footage of me in the video blog comes from.)

12.) Prioritize – My dad said to me recently, “greatness is a matter of doing one thing extremely well and doing it consistently.

13.) Lose Your Loser friends – Who you hang out with is who you become. If you’re cool wasting copious amount of time watching TV shows or smoking weed, then keep hanging out with your friends that are going nowhere. If you’re not cool with that, however, reduce the time you spend with those friends significantly. Even if hanging with them isn’t necessarily unhealthy, if they don’t spur you on to be better, they’re not that great of a friend. Donald Miller says “almost all problems and successes in life boil down to relationships.Read an excerpt from his book Father Fiction on the importance of intentional relationships here. Once you’ve read that, you’ll know it’s important to…

14.) Be A Copycat – Find people you want to be like and hang out with them. Suddenly, you’ll start becoming the person you want to be like. It’s magical.

15.) Be Excited About Being Wrong – This is one of the most important truths I’ve ever discovered, and it happened because good friends of mine proved me wrong. How meta of me. Read the blog I wrote about it here.

Was this helpful? What have you found are the secrets to keeping your resolutions? I’d love your feedback! Feel free to be just as harsh with me as I was with you, my friends.

HOLY SHIT! — Christianity & Cussing

I do realize that verses like Ephesians 5:4, 4:29, Philippians 4:8 and others have often been use to say that certain words, or “cuss words,” are unbiblical. These verses admonish Christians to avoid “coarse” or “unwholesome” talk. I don’t disagree with that at all. This blog doesn’t aim  to argue FOR unwholesome speech. What it does aim to do, however, is reconsider how we define the term “unwholesome.” When it comes down to it, I think we’ve been alienating people for far too long over something quite trivial. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.

JH coverFINAL

And speaking of curse words, my brother, Jeoff Harris, is releasing a new EP entitled “Curse Words and Nursery Rhymes” this February. If you enjoy the topics we cover on this blog, I’m sure you’ll find his music enticing. He weaves deep, meaningful lyrics into an incredibly produced sound that seems to bounce from rock to pop to just plain groovy on every track. He’s ridiculously talented. It’s a bit frightening, really. Check out his Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/jeoffharris

 

The Joys Of Being Wrong

In light of the recent shooting and the discussions that have erupted as a result, I thought I’d reblog this post. It saddens me that our pride and need to be right can get in the way of such important issues. Whether we’re talking about gun control, violence in the media, or the flaws of our society at large, I think a teachable spirit could go a long way. Most (actually ALL if I’m being honest) of the Facebook debates I’ve read reek of molding, stale, fixed opinions that appear to have never been questioned or thoroughly examined by those who hold them. It’s apparent by most of the comments I read that those doing the commenting didn’t even read the article they’re commenting on, as they rarely address the specific issues the article tackled. We peruse articles online to prove ourselves right, not to see if we ARE right, after all. Considering what’s at stake in this discussion, that’s the height of selfishness.

I’ve certainly not always been this way, but I’m now trying to cultivate an attitude of sincerely desiring to be proven wrong if I am. This isn’t me “giving in.” That mentality is what’s smelling up the political and religious landscapes right now, as politicians and citizens alike stubbornly hold onto ideas that rotted long ago. I, for one, want to contribute to a mentality that values dialogue, not shouting matches or ideological battles which deem soundbites the weapon of choice. I want to put aside my pride and try to come up with real solutions for the epidemic of violence we’re facing. I imagine you want that too. The first step? … I believe it’s finding joy in the potential of being wrong.

TheMichaelHarris

“You’re a child.” I pushed the words out of my mouth. It didn’t feel good. Deep in my stomach I knew I was being defensive. My brother pushed back.

“Why am I a child?” he asked. I didn’t really have an answer. I was just heated by the argument. Literally, heated. My head felt hot. My pulse rate was up.

“You’re just…” I couldn’t think of the words. “I don’t know, man.”

“Seriously?” Jeoffrey shook his head. “Don’t talk to me, man. You’re afraid to be wrong and now you’re insulting me instead of dealing with it.”

Oh, this really sucks. It doesn’t even matter what the argument’s about. I know he’s right. Just hours ago, I sent a letter to a friend regarding the same sort of reaction. We were debating a potentially worldview-altering issue. They’d called names, insulted character, and skirted the actual topic entirely. They were afraid…

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Creating Happiness – Part 2

The 4 Stages of Experience & Getting The Most Out Of The Happiest Moments In Our Lives

Think of the happiest moments in your life. Got a few? Good. Now, what if you capitalized on those moments? What if you sucked the joy out of them and spread that joy like butter across your life?

Well, I think you can. And I think it happens in 4 stages: Anticipation, expression, savoring, and remembering.

Anticipation – Our good times affect us before they even occur. As you plan for a fun event you know will go down

Me headfirst in a sewage lake for a photo scavenger hunt.
I enjoy planning for these as much as the actual events.

in the photo albums, try to find joy in the anticipation. Prepare. Invite people you care about. Make the location memorable. Plan specific activities, such as a white elephant gift exchange or a scavenger hunt. Do your planning with others. Brainstorm with your loved one what you’ll do on your vacation. Search ideas for creative get-togethers online. Talk about how fun it will be on the road trip or how relaxing it will be to have a weekend away. You’ll be a happier person just thinking about it.

Expression (the event itself) – “I can’t wait to come back here someday,” often pops in my mind during wonderful moments. It’s a realization of the fleeting nature of life, but it often keeps me from living in the now. It accelerates the loss of the moment. I think we should work hard to do the opposite. Since we’re talking about the best times of our lives, we should try to elongate them, not shorten them. We can do this in a number of ways. First, acknowledge them. Right in the middle of your happy times, remember to validate their existence. Second, be intentional about positive language. Saying things like “what a beautiful view,” or “I’m so happy to be here with you guys,” will work wonders and cultivate a positive perception. Thirdly, act fun and memorable. Don’t hesitate to encourage those you love. Be spontaneous. Soak up every bit of bliss you can. This is your life, after all!

My dorm-mates and I Sophomore Year At ORU.
I try to savor glorious moments like these.

Savoring – This is easier to do now, in our digital age, than ever before. Snap a photo, freeze that fun memory in time, then flip the camera around for everyone to see and you’re stretching the enjoyment of that moment further into the future. Take lots of photos. Don’t feel vain for enjoying them right away. Don’t feel odd for reminiscing right away, either. As you’re driving away from a breathtaking overlook, talk about how great it was and how it made you feel. Stretch that happiness into the short-term memory of the event. Foster gratitude for that joyful moment right away. Savor the taste of your best times like a dessert you only let yourself eat once in a while.

Remembering – This stage often affects us more than the other three stages combined. I make many of my decisions by considering the potential good memories they will create. I was at a shindig a few months ago where I knew hardly anyone. I found myself thinking, “should I jump up on this table and dance like a chicken? I mean, it’ll be really embarrassing and I don’t really feel like doing it, but the joy I’m bound to feel over the course of my life as I tell this story again and again is probably worth it.”

It’s a weird example, but I did it. And I was right. I’ve told that story numerous times and it did create exponential happiness for me in comparison to how embarrassing it was. We stand to benefit greatly by increasing our intentionality in both creating and reminiscing our good times.

Looking back at strange photos like this makes me a happy camper.

Practical tips for making this happen: Organize your photos and home videos. These days home videos are sprawled across two or three computers like dirty laundry. It’s hard to enjoy them when you can’t even find them. Take a day and organize your memories. Then, remember to reminisce. Have a family home videos night or invite your friends over to look at photos back in the day. Our potential for enjoying our memories in the digital age is limitless. Also, journal. Write down the things a camera can’t capture. How did you feel? What was the weather like? Did you have a crush on someone at the time? One of the best gifts I’ve given to myself is consistent journaling. I read through them periodically and my own life comes alive to me. It’s been incredibly rewarding. And finally, tell stories. Sit around at the Thanksgiving table this Thursday and ask each family member what their favorite holiday memory is. Laugh and share your lives with each other.

It’s the perfect time to try some of these out. With the holiday season about to get in full swing, do your best to get the most out of the happiest moments of your life. Take the happiness you’ve experienced already and use it to make more. Create happiness.

Creating Happiness

The 4 Stages of Experience & Getting The Most Out Of The Happiest Moments In Our Lives – Part 1

I’ve made some fun memories so far this month. I’ve enjoyed time with family, jumped out of a plane, and road-tripped with close friends.

These good times and the way they fit into my life got me thinking about happiness.

When we think about being happy, we typically picture memorable occasions in our lives. The film reel in our mind gets pulled back to the wedding or the graduation or that one road trip, or perhaps something more subdued, like a peaceful drive or a meaningful conversation with a loved one. These snapshots of friends, family, and good times shoot through our brain, often accompanied by a stinging nostalgia.

These are the peaks to our plains of everyday living. They’re the hills to our valleys of sadness. They’re the experiences that bring us the most joy in the most condensed periods of time. They are short bursts of deeper fulfillment than we’re used to. And while it’s true that we can choose to be happy to some degree at almost any stage of life, these are the moments that it comes most naturally.

They can happen at random, but much of the time these peaks are forged by the tectonic plates of our daily choices. We plan for something, experience it, choose to enjoy it when it occurs, then reminisce about it periodically throughout the rest of our lives. There’s a process to making memories. Due to this, happy times don’t just affect us while they’re happening. We feel their impact before and after they occur.

This happens in 4 stages:

  1. Anticipation
  2. Expression (the experience itself)
  3. Savoring
  4. Remembering

Since our good times ripple across our lives through these stages, our approach to them determines how they affect our everyday living and to what degree. In Part 2, which I’ll post tomorrow, I’ll quickly list some practical tips I’ve found for getting the most out of each of these stages. I think it’s worth hashing out a bit. After all, who doesn’t want to get the most out of the happiest moments of their lives?

The Joys Of Being Wrong

“You’re a child.” I pushed the words out of my mouth. It didn’t feel good. Deep in my stomach I knew I was being defensive. My brother pushed back.

“Why am I a child?” he asked. I didn’t really have an answer. I was just heated by the argument. Literally, heated. My head felt hot. My pulse rate was up.

“You’re just…” I couldn’t think of the words. “I don’t know, man.”

“Seriously?” Jeoffrey shook his head. “Don’t talk to me, man. You’re afraid to be wrong and now you’re insulting me instead of dealing with it.”

Snapped this on the Oregon Coast in September. Somehow it’s relevant and encourages reflection.

Oh, this really sucks. It doesn’t even matter what the argument’s about. I know he’s right. Just hours ago, I sent a letter to a friend regarding the same sort of reaction. We were debating a potentially worldview-altering issue. They’d called names, insulted character, and skirted the actual topic entirely. They were afraid and it showed. I called them out in an email as if I was the voice of reason itself. I humbly attempted to shed the light of my glorious wisdom on their defensive reaction.

I am a hypocrite. Now my defensiveness is fueling me. I have no logical grounds here with my brother. Deep down I know it and instead of weighing the validity of my brother’s words, I have snapped back at him to try to hold onto something. It’s just an idea, really, but it is important. It’s a belief I’ve always held or felt I’ve known somehow. It’s something I’ve lived by. Now, all of the sudden, Jeoffrey’s called this into question. He’s willing to listen to my side of things too, but as I form my argument in my mind, as I begin to articulate a defense for something I haven’t truly broken down, I become at least somewhat aware that I am full of crap. I don’t actually have grounds for what I think. I believe it because…[I always have, society tells me to, I grew up this way, it’s what many believe, I don’t know anything else, I’m too proud to concede to my little brother, I’m too proud to concede to anyone, I can’t imagine a worldview without this belief, etc…]

I can’t seem to handle it. I am afraid of his conclusion. I don’t admit the fear, though. Instead, I make the jump that leads to self-deception. I let the fear morph into anger. I call him a child.

But why be afraid of being wrong? When I posted my first video blog, Talking Christianity With My Past Self, I wrote underneath it that, “the first step to making a change in your life is realizing a world exists in the future where you no longer agree with the current version of yourself.” Do I really believe this?

I do. I’m just not acting like it. And now, I think I know the second step to making a change in your life: be excited about the possibility of being wrong.

We are wired to defend what we think. True, knowledge is power, but that knowledge is often scary before we’ve made it our own. As the old adage goes, “we fear what we do not understand.”

This is the reason Galileo said, “you cannot teach a man anything. You can only show him how to find it within himself.” This is excellent communication advice. And for most people, I’ve witnessed this to be true… but I’m tired of being most people.

I don’t need to be afraid of truth. If compelling evidence is presented, if the argument against my current way of thinking makes sense, I now have more to work with. I don’t need to be afraid. If I’m proven wrong, I now have more tools to build my life and my way of thinking. It sounds so obvious now, but realizing I’m wrong is the first step to learning something new and improving my life. If I am wrong about ANYTHING… I should WANT to know it.

I’m sick of my macho, John Wayne-esque defensiveness. Stubbornness is stagnation. I’m ready for re-wiring. I’m ready to avoid getting defensive and emotional when a person presents an idea that threatens my current paradigm. After all, if my paradigm is strong enough to stand, it will. If it’s not, then it’s time for adjustment.

I think I’m just breaking through the surface on this, but as I start to unpack more controversial topics here on the blog, I’d love this to be the bedrock for our discussion. As you read or watch what I post, consider this approach. The possibility of being wrong is the potential for lasting change in your life. It feels scary, but change often does. That’s what makes it exciting. Everything worth doing in life requires risk.

I’ll approach what you say the same way; I promise. As weird as it sounds, I’m actually looking forward to being shown where I’ve missed the mark. I’m pumped about being proven wrong. I have no reason to be defensive. It’s an opportunity for growth.

I already feel lighter.

Jerusalem’s The Capital; This I Know, For The Bible Tells Me So

Well, that settles it then.

Epistemology… And Cards

Click Here For The Unedited Video Where Jared Recites All 156 Cards From Memory