Gray, gray, and more gray

The cubicle.  It’s what this blog is about, but I haven’t really talked about it yet.

My cube has gray walls, gray drawers, gray cabinets, a gray desk, and is on top of gray carpet.  I don’t think I’ve ever typed gray that many times.  Much less all in one sentence.

It’s pretty bland and boring.  I swear the walls get a little bit closer every day.

Why do I put up with this?  Why has this become the standard?  I think the office designers or “ergonomics engineers” or whatever you call them figured out what color will demoralize people the most.  Maybe they figure that the longer you stare at a gray wall the better chance you’ll give up on life and learn to love long hours of meaningless work.

There must be a place that makes and sells the cubicles.  I wonder if there is a giant warehouse full of different types and colors of cubicles, but my company picked out gray just for fun.  Or are there no other colors?  Who decided that blue would be terrible?  I mean, I’m not saying they need to be neon pink, but anything besides gray would be nice.

I don’t know.  I don’t get it.

So what can we do?  I know I need to decorate my cube more.  I need to get some color up on the walls.  Maybe some nature pictures or something.

I have a calendar with nature pictures.  That’s a pretty good start.  I need to find some more.  I could probably even put up some bright colored paper to get away from the gray.  I can’t do much about the desk, carpet, drawers, or cabinets, but at least I can cover the walls.

It’s hard because I also like to be pretty minimalist.  It helps me focus and get things done without being distracted.  I tend to keep my desk clear of anything I’m not using at the time.  I don’t have much work related stuff pinned to the walls either.

I’m not sure how to balance the minimalist look with some color to liven it up.  Any ideas?
Maybe I’ll look for some good sized nature and landscape type pictures.  That way I’ll only have a few up, but they’ll cover most of the walls.

What color is your cube?  Any good decoration ideas?

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On lack of reward

Every day thousands of people get up, get ready, and head in to the office.  Movies and television show the office as being just a part of life.  We are told from childhood to go to college so we can get a good job.  Since when is working in an office a “good” job?

For me, the biggest reason that I don’t like working in an office is that I do not see the end results of my work.  I work hard on something all day and all week long, but I can’t really quantify it.  As humans, we want to create something or help someone or at least feel like we worked hard.

A construction worker can look at a house he/she built and feel proud that he/she completed something.  A cook can see a happy person eating his/her food.  Even a janitor can see the clean floor after he/she mops it.  In an office, we finish our work, hand it to our boss, and usually don’t even know where it goes.  Even if we do, seeing a piece of paper with numbers on it is hardly satisfying.

We work to bring home a paycheck.  We take that paycheck and use it to pay for our home, our food, our debt, etc.  I guess money is our reward.  That’s nice, but it still feels like there should be more to life.

I think about the people who came before us.  They built buildings, invented cars, and created our entire way of life.  They built cities and countries.  It’s because of them that we are even here today.

I work in an office and make reports.  I report on something that someone else does.  There won’t be a kid who looks back in 100 years and things, “wow those are some great reports”.

I recently went to Mount Rushmore.  Hundreds of people went to work to carve some faces in a mountain.  This thing is huge.  It took years to create, but it’s still there.  Imagine how you would feel having worked on that.  At the end, you could look up and think, “I helped build that”.

I think we have the innate desire to create something.  Maybe we just want to be remembered.  Or maybe need to feel like we are making a difference in the world.  Personally, I want to help people.  I want to know that what I did that day made a difference.

Working in an office doesn’t give me that feeling.  I spend most of my time putting together reports about someone else’s work.

When I was in high school, I worked at a sandwich shop.  It wasn’t brain surgery and it didn’t pay much more than minimum wage, but every time I made someone’s food, I was helping them and making a difference.  Sure if I didn’t do it, someone else would, but it felt good.

It’s something to know that a real person is going to enjoy and be satisfied because of your work.  At least it makes me feel good to see the smile on their faces when they get their lunch.

What do you think?  Is working in an office rewarding?  Do you feel like you’re making a difference?  If so, what’s your job?  I’d like to know.

Self Experiment

Try things out for yourself.  There are a million experts out there who want to tell you what to do.  The only way to really know if something works for you is to try it.  That’s how I lost weight.  I tried all kinds of diets, but nothing worked.  A couple of years ago, I started eating a “paleo” type diet.  See that story here.

In this post on Sweets in the office I mentioned that I’ve basically given up all grains and sugars.  I also said that I’m not here to debate types of diet.  Well I somewhat take that back.

Giving up all modern processed foods and eating a “paleo” type diet that is based primarily on meat and vegetables will help you lose weight.  It is amazing, especially for someone who works in an office and is sedentary most of the time.

You might not believe me.  You might think I’m completely crazy.  Fine, I don’t care.  Stop trying to convince me I’m wrong until you try it for yourself.

I’m not going to give you a bunch of reasons to live this way.  There are plenty of websites out there that can do all of that for you.  There is more than enough information out there.
I have two reasons for you to at least try eating this way:

I effortlessly lost over 30 pounds and easily kept it off.  I had no bad reactions or instant heart attacks.  I feel healthier than I ever have before.

And

Recently, I’ve been traveling a lot.  I’ve been in and out of town and haven’t been able to follow it very well.  I’ve been eating more of a standard American diet on and off for the past couple of months.  Guess what, I’ve gained back about ten pounds. 

I know I can get rid of this again, but it’s ridiculous.  It just goes to show how terrible processed food is for you.

It’s sad that from the beginning we’re taught that you need to get a massive amount of your daily food from grains.  We’re told so many things about what is “healthy”.  You can’t watch TV without seeing how some processed food full of sugar is full of “healthy whole grains”.

It’s terrible.  I work in a downtown area that has plenty of take out lunch places, but there are almost zero places to get a meal made out of non-processed junk food.  Your best option is to get a wimpy salad covered in a sugary dressing.

Yet I see hundreds of overweight people every day eating their “diet” foods.  They get their low fat mayo on wheat bread sandwiches.  They complain constantly about being hungry, but can never actually lose any weight.

People will claim “everything in moderation”, that doesn’t work unless you want to be moderately obese.

I’m done ranting about this.  I’m just tired of seeing people who are overweight and clueless about how to do anything about it because of what TV tells them.

And please, try it first if you want to disagree with me and tell me I’m an idiot for eating meat.  Self experiment a bit before you just believe your television.  You won’t know what works for you until you try it.

7 rules for a happy life

You only get one chance

Regardless of your religion or lack of religion, I think we can all agree that you only get one chance at life.  When you die, you’re dead.  Maybe you believe in reincarnation, but even then, it wouldn’t be “you” it would be a new reincarnation of yourself.  Or maybe you believe in an afterlife.  Even then, you only get one life here on Earth.  Maybe you don’t believe in anything.  It doesn’t matter.

No matter what you believe in, you will die at some point.  Your life will be over and you can’t go back and do it again.  So spend your time doing things that make you happy.  This is my number one priority.

We need to do whatever it is that makes us happy.  Life is too short and death is too final to spend time doing things we don’t like.

This doesn’t necessarily mean quit your job and be a bum.  That probably wouldn’t make you happy.  Unfortunately, we need to have jobs to make enough money to do the things that we want to do.

Whatever it is that you want to do, make sure it makes you happy.  If you love working in a cubicle, that’s great.  If you hate it, make sure that you are doing something else that you love on the side.  Maybe you are just doing it so you can afford your true passions.  That’s fine too.  Just make sure that you are doing the things that make you happy.

7 rules for a happy life

Do stuff – This one is self explanatory.  Do whatever it is that makes you happy.  Stop doing things that make you unhappy.  This is the number one rule to live by.

It doesn’t matter what it is.  Maybe you want to travel the world.  Maybe you want to raise a family.  Maybe you want to read comic books all day.  It doesn’t matter, just do it.  It is way easier to look back on life and say, “jeez I wish I wouldn’t have done that” than it is to say, “jeez I wish I would have done that”.

You won’t regret your actions nearly as much as you will regret your inaction.

Stay healthy – Eat well.  Stop smoking.  Sit as little as possible.  Exercise.  Don’t drink too much or do a lot of drugs.  Staying healthy may not guarantee that you’ll live a longer and happier life, but it will certainly help.

Being healthy may make the difference between living to 70 and living to 100.  It might keep you walking till the end too.  It will also make your life easier and better.  You won’t spend as much time in hospitals and being sick.  You’ll avoid taking lots of medications.

Don’t waste your money – Just about everything costs money.  You have to work for that money to buy things.  We need to stop spending money on things we don’t need.

Spend your money on what makes you happy.  Personally, I like to travel.  I rarely buy myself new clothes and electronics because I want to put more money toward travel.

You aren’t a billionaire.  You can’t have everything in life.  Make some decisions on what to spend your money on.  Plus you can work less if you spend less.

Don’t get into debt – This goes along with not wasting your money.  I wanted to do separate section for it though.  Not only is this a waste of money every month, but it makes you very unhappy.  Debt weighs on your mind constantly and will drive you crazy.

Sometimes debt is needed like in buying a house, but most of the time it can be avoided.  The less money you owe, the less you have to make.  The less money you have to make, the less you have to work.

Debt is worse than wasting your money.  At least if you blow all of your money, you’re only back to zero.  If you get into debt, you’re negative and have to work just to pay it back.

Stand up for yourself – If you hate your job, do something about it.  Work it out with your boss or quit.  Don’t let your family, friends, or significant other walk all over you.  Don’t let people hurt you.

The idea here is to stop putting up with things you don’t like.  You might think that it’s “noble” or “honorable” to bite the bullet and put up with something your whole life.  It’s not.  In the end you die and nobody will remember you in 100 years.  So who cares?  Stop putting up with garbage.

Try new things – Travel.  Try new food.  Go skydiving.  Dance.  Try new things.  Never decide that you won’t like something before you’ve even tried it.  I’ve seen too many people do this.

You can’t know what you like until you try it.  Also, stop reading about it and listening to the opinions of others.  Try it out for yourself and make your own opinion.

Stop caring about what others think – This is the most important thing on the list.  Don’t do anything to impress anyone else.  Do things only for yourself.

It may sound selfish, but it’s not.  We get at most about 100 years in life.  In the end, the only thing that matters is that we’re happy.  So be selfish.  Do things that make you happy.  Obviously, don’t do things that hurt others or make others unhappy.

Really most people don’t even care what you do.  Everyone is so caught up in their own lives that they don’t even notice.  So stop worrying about what others will think about you.  Just do what you enjoy and be happy.