Archive for August, 2011

How long did it take you to buy your lunch?

I don’t mean how long did it take you to walk or drive to a restaurant, wait in line, pay, eat, and come back to work.  I mean how much time did you spend working to pay for that $10 lunch you just ate?

Say you make $50,000 a year.  After tax that might be $37,500.  If you work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year that’s 2,080 hours year.  (I know this leaves out vacation and holidays, but I’m just estimating here anyway.

So, $37,500 divided by 2,080 hours is about $18 an hour after tax.  It takes you 1/18th or about 3.3 minutes to make $1 at your job.

That coffee you had this morning costs you 6 minutes.  You might spend 55 hours of every month working to pay your mortgage.  That new dress would be 5.5 hours.  If you buy a $20,000 car it will cost you about 1,000 hours of your life.  More if you take out a loan to buy it and pay interest.

Most of us don’t really get paid by the hour any more, but for some reason we’re still expected to stay in the office for 40 plus hours a week.  I was thinking about how much time I spend in the office the other day and how that related to the amount of money we make.

So, I did the math.  I figured out how much time I have to spend in my cubicle for one dollar based on a 40 hour work week.  It takes me about 3 minutes of cubicle time to make one dollar.

It can be pretty staggering to look at something in a store or online that I want to buy and think about how long it would take me to make enough money to afford it.  It’s even worse when you think about how much time you spend working just to afford the basics like rent, food, electricity, and heat.

Transportation is even worse.  Say you spend $50 on gas getting to and from work every week.  That’s about 2.5 hours a week spent working.  Then maybe $100 on car insurance in a month.  That’s another hour a week.  And don’t forget the $200 monthly car payment for another 2.5 hours a week.  That ends up being about 6 hours a week you spend at your desk working just so that you can spend 5 hours that week sitting in traffic waiting to get to and from work.

It can be depressing to think about this, but it really helps me keep my unnecessary spending to a minimum.  Sitting in a cubicle all day is obviously not something that I get very excited about so when I go to buy something I don’t need, I can think “wow, that cost me x number of minutes to buy that”.

Figure out your own number.  Write it down or save it in your phone.  Next time you go to buy that new TV or car figure out just what you are giving up to get it.

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Mindfulness

I tend to over think things.  It’s not even just over thinking; it’s constantly being in my head.  I’ve realized that on a normal day, I’m always running a million thoughts through my head.  I’m thinking about what I did earlier and what I’m going to do in the future.  Then I think of a million different ways things could have happened or different scenarios.
I come up with new ideas and rehash old ones constantly.  I get frustrated and annoyed by things that haven’t happened yet and probably never will happen.

Sometimes when I know that I have to do something unpleasant in the future, I dwell on it for days and days.  I can’t really help this.  I get stuck in a never ending stream of thoughts almost every day.

I’ve realized that this is a problem.  I’m missing out on my life.  I’m never living in the moment.  I don’t enjoy the things I’m doing because I’m constantly thinking about what to do next or how I could have done something differently.

It’s very strange and I didn’t notice it until recently.  I used to just think that’s how it was.  Now I’ve realize that I spend more time thinking about things than actually experiencing life.

I was on vacation one time in the mountains and taking in a great view after climbing up to the top of the peak.  I thought to myself, “Wow this is cool, I’ll definitely have to come back here some time.”  How weird is this?  I have to mentally be thinking about some future date where I’ll come back here.  Yet, I wasn’t even thinking about how much I enjoyed being there at the time.

Another thing I do when on vacation is try to cram a ton of stuff in so that I have can tell other people about all of the stuff I did on my trip. Why do I do this?  Nobody really cares what I do on my trip.  I should only be doing things because I enjoy them.  Not so that I can tell somebody about it.

These kinds of things happen to me daily.  I have trouble staying focused on a conversation with someone because I’m always thinking of what I should say next.  I’m not paying attention to them fully because I’m thinking of something else.  Then I wonder why I don’t keep friends for very long.

This makes it hard to focus at work too.  Especially when the work is boring and tedious.  I can’t focus on what I’m doing because I have a thousand other thoughts running around in my head.

I’m not really sure how to fix this.  I can get out of my head at times when I’m doing something that requires a lot of focus.  Things that require hand eye coordination like playing video games and sports help to shut up my mind.  I can get into something for hours and be completely focused on it.  I think it’s because it requires a lot of concentration, so I have no option but to block out all of the other thoughts.

I’m not totally sure how to fix this or at least make it better.  I’ve been working on it though.  It helps to remind myself to stop thinking about other things.  I try to picture all of my thoughts flying out of my head and turn my attention completely to my surroundings.  I almost think of life like a video game.  I try to consciously focus on my movements and what others are saying and doing.

It’s hard and I have to be very conscious of what’s going on around me.  My thoughts still come back from time to time, but I’m working to let them go.  It helps me to really pay attention to the lyrics when I listen to music and to really follow what someone is saying in a conversation.

Another thing that helps is to realize that no amount of thinking will change anything.  No matter how much I dwell on the terrible thing I have to do next week will make it go away.  It doesn’t matter if I beat myself up for a bad decision, I can’t change it.

There is definitely an upside to using your mind to come up with new ideas, but dwelling on things that don’t matter will just drive you crazy.  Your life is the things you do, not the things you think of.  You can spend hours running thoughts through your head, but it won’t get you anywhere.

We all die and the more time we spend not experience life the shorter our lives will seem.

I need to stop thinking about things and so do you.  I need to learn to enjoy life more.  I need to stop and smell the roses.  Who cares about yesterday or tomorrow?  Today is all that matters.

Is anybody else like this or am I just completely crazy?  How can I get out of my head?

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How to cure swamp ass

I get hot all the time.  It could be the dead of winter, but I’m still hot.  It probably has to do with wearing dress pants and a button up shirt most days.  I walk or ride my bike to work and am usually sweating by the time I get to work.  Then it’s just stuffy enough in the office to keep me sweaty all day.

It doesn’t help that I sit most of the day.  The chair doesn’t breathe and my pants seem to form a sauna.

I’ve always suffered from “swamp ass”.  I’ve tried everything.  Here are a few things I’ve done to stop it.

A cold burst – End your shower with a cold burst.  A lot of times I get out of a hot shower and am actually sweating.  It seems like I can never stop sweating in the morning if I do this.  I love hot showers, but have to have a cold burst at the end to cool off.  Then I dry off and stay dry.  Which leads me to…

Start dry – After showering in the morning, make sure that you’re completely dried off down there.  Use a blow dryer if you have to.  This makes a huge difference.  If you start the day damp, then throw on some stuffy pants, you’ll never get dry on your own.  Then once you’re dry apply…

Gold Bond – Gold Bond is basically baby powder for adults.  It has menthol in it and feels like sitting on a block of ice.  Make sure you’re dry when you sprinkle some on though or else you’ll have a mess.  Gold Bond is best used with…

Moisture wicking underwear – Get the good kind.  I always grew up wearing regular boxers.  They’d bunch up and be a sweaty mess.  Then someone told me about moisture wicking boxer briefs.  I tried them out and never went back.  They keep you cool, reduce chafing, and are very comfortable.  All of these things work, but are nothing compared to having…

A fan – This is by far the best way to keep cool all day and avoid swamp ass.  I bought a small desk fan the other day and it’s amazing.  Everybody should have one of these at their desks.  The thing was six bucks, but has completely changed my life.  There’s just something about having a constant breeze on me that makes a huge difference.  It keeps me cool and keeps the air from feeling stuffy.

Any other ideas?

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Stuff

What would you do if you had to leave tomorrow with nothing but what you could carry?  Would you load up a suitcase full of pictures and clothes?  Would you stuff as many books as you could possibly manage into a box and lug it on your shoulders?  Would you bring the bare essentials of a few toiletries, a change of clothes, and a hard drive with all of your pictures?

We seem to collect so much stuff in our lives, but what do we really need?  When I go on vacation I try to bring as little as possible.  When I’m there, I realize that I don’t miss anything that I left at home and could probably do without half of the things I brought along.

We don’t really need all of the things sitting in our closets, cabinets, boxes, and cars.  You could lose everything you owned tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter.  You would get over it.  Sure you’d be sad about a few sentimental items.  You’d miss your favorite shirt and pictures of your kids, but you’d go on.

If we don’t need any of this stuff, then why do we spend our whole lives collecting it?  Why do we spend thousands of dollars a year on homes with extra closets, basements, and attics to store things that we don’t even look at?

Why do people get angry when they lose things?  What does it matter?

The only thing that matters in your life is your experiences.  What you do today is all that matters.  If you enjoy yourself and are happy then you are on the right track.  Why would you keep doing it if you hated what you were doing?  Why do we sit in cubicles in stuffy offices so that we can make enough money to buy things?

Then we buy things and have nowhere to put them, so we need to buy a house to store our stuff.  But the house you can afford is way out in the suburbs because you need that third bedroom and the two car garage to store your stuff.  So now you need to buy a car to drive yourself from your suburban home to your job.

Well that car costs money, the house costs money, and all that stuff costs money.  It costs so much, in fact, that you need to work harder to find a better job so that you can afford it more easily.

So now you are already working a job in a cubicle that you don’t like, but are sucking up to a boss that annoys you so that you can get a promotion to pay for all of the stuff that you couldn’t really afford in the first place.

All the while, you still have to make your mortgage payments and your car payments.  Not to mention those student loan payments because you had to get that good education so that you could get that “good” job in the first place.

All of these things keep weighing on us as time goes on.  The debt never quite seems to go away.  Yet, the house keeps getting smaller as you keep filling it up with more stuff.

Somewhere along the way you maybe get married and have kids.  With the extra people and all of that stuff, you’re completely out of space and have to buy a bigger house.  You still haven’t paid off the first one, but manage to sell it at a small profit.  You put that profit into the new house, but it still has a pretty big mortgage payment.  The problem is that you had to move farther out into the suburbs to find a bigger house that you could afford, so you might as well buy a new car that gets better gas mileage.  Oh and don’t forget the second car or minivan to take care of those kids.

Now you’ve just spent thousands more dollars moving all of your stuff into the new house and on down payments and of course new furniture because you need something nice for the new place.
Well now you’re really strapped for money, but luckily all of that hard work paid off and you’ve become a manager with a higher paycheck.  Unfortunately, now you’re even more busy and don’t get to see your kids as much because you’re working till eight every night, but at least you can afford to buy them new toys and send them to that expensive after school program.

But it doesn’t end there.  Those toys take up space.  They’re just more stuff.  You keep acquiring more of that stuff.  It’ll eventually lead to another house, maybe another promotion, and don’t forget saving for college.

Everything keeps piling up.  Eventually you’re making three times more than what you were when you were making when you started out.  If you’re lucky that is.  But for some reason, you aren’t saving any of it.  You always seem to be running paycheck to paycheck.

Your kids eventually graduate and leave for college or a job.  Then you finally decide that it’s time to downsize your lifestyle.  You move into a smaller house and get the smaller car.  You sell some of your stuff, but it still clutters up your home.  You want to travel more, but now you’re always busy with meetings because of your high paying job.

All of this keeps going on.  It’s an endless cycle of making more money so you can spend more and more.  Eventually you retire and things are okay.  Maybe you even pay off your mortgage and own your home.  All that hard work finally paid off now you want to travel, but now your health is going.  All of that stress from the job has given you heart issues.  Maybe your wife or husband is suffering from cancer.

You finally have all the time in the world to travel, but you’re both sick and don’t want to leave the house any more.  You get better, your wife beats cancer, but now you’re in your 70s and are too tired to go anywhere.  All the while your kids visit less and less.  Your friends are starting to die off.  Maybe you even lose your spouse.

Your house is still full of all of the stuff you’ve collected over the years.  You have a basement and attic full of boxes of things you don’t even remember.  Your kids grumble about who will have to clean it up when you die.  You sit in your house all day waiting for one of your kids or grandkids to visit.  You make sure your stuff is organized and clean so that anybody who visits will be impressed with your tidy home.

Then you really get sick.  This time it’s for real.  You lay there in the hospital with a nurse whose name you can’t remember.  Your stuff is so far away from you.  You don’t even remember 1/10th of it all.  Maybe you do remember that you never saw the Great Wall of China or rode the Tube in London.

Maybe you even have some consciousness in the end and realize that you worked so hard your entire life to buy all of that stuff, but in the end it’s all just sitting in your house while you drift away in some hospital bed while your kids cry in the next room.  You realize that you didn’t spend half of the time doing what you wanted to do because of all that stuff.

Then you die.  The funeral is nice with lots of flowers.  Most of the young kids don’t even know what’s going on.  A few weeks later your kids take a few things from your house for sentimental reasons.  They need to add to their stockpile of stuff.

Then they sell the rest of it or donate it to good will.  They’ll probably just throw half of your stuff away.  All of the stuff that you worked so hard to accumulate will be gone.  You don’t get to take it with you.  And the worst part is that it takes the most precious thing away from you.

Time.

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Who cares?

I’m back.  I get really busy around quarter end at work and haven’t had much time to work on posts, but I’m back now and have plenty of ideas to keep working on.

And now onto the post:

100 years from now you will be dead.  Unless there is some great scientific invention to prolong it, your life will be over.  You may have lots of kids and an extended family, but most of them won’t even remember you.  Do you know much about your great grandparents?

After another 100 years no one who ever met you will be alive.  Maybe someone will find some pictures of you or read about you if you’re famous.  Even most famous people won’t be remembered.

Really the only way anybody will remember you is if you somehow make it into a history book.  You’d have to be pretty accomplished to do that.  Even most of the people who are in books are unknown.  Can you even name all of the presidents or leaders of your country?

Pretty bleak huh?  I wrote the other day about lack of reward and wanting to accomplish something with your life.  I’ve been thinking about it and realize that that doesn’t even matter.  Who cares what you accomplish?

Nobody, nobody cares about you or me or anybody.  The only person you need to make happy is yourself.  If you want to build a building or write a book or sit on your butt all day, do it.  But do it for yourself.  Stop worrying about what your parents or girlfriend or husband or kids or friends will think.  What they think doesn’t matter.

So do whatever it is you want to do, but do it for yourself.  You might hate working in a cubicle, but if it pays for you to have fun and be happy in life, keep doing it.  In the end it doesn’t matter.

If you aren’t getting anything out of your job, then quit.  Go do something else. Nobody is going to kill you for quitting your job.

Nobody is going to hate you either.  Obviously, you need to feed and provide shelter for yourself and your family, but they’re not going to die if you take a lower paying job or want to travel for awhile.

Anyone who gives you an attitude about living the life you want to live isn’t worth your time.  It’s not your job to make others happy.  It’s your job to be happy, take care of yourself, and take care of your immediate family.  There’s a million ways to do that, so don’t limit yourself to one.

Who cares what people think?  Who cares what you do with your life?  Who cares how you dress?  Who cares how you eat?  Who cares what car you drive?

Nobody but you.

Make yourself happy first.  Life is too short to spend trying to make others happy.

In the end, you will die.  Nobody will care whether you worked hard to move up to be president of your company or sat around eating Cheetos all day.  It makes no difference, just enjoy your life.

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