Category Archives: Lifestyle

Make Your Own Luck

Luck is such an odd concept. We all think we know what it is but all have very different interpretations of what it actually means. Is luck circumstantial or is it constitutional? Is luck something truly out of our control or something we can manipulate? No matter your beliefs we tend to put ourselves into one of two camps … we either consider ourselves lucky or unlucky.

I used to be in the “unlucky” camp. My life was a shit-storm of nonsense, and every time I turned around I was whacked in the face with some unfortunate turn of event that kept my life spiraling out of control. I remember being so resentful about it and utterly dumbstruck by just how unlucky I always seemed to be. Crap was constantly happening to me, and I could not, for the life of me, figure out why.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was, of course, all my fault. I kept feeding the beast by unknowingly focusing on the bad things. Hell, even when something good did happen to me, I would think to myself; “it’s about damn time!” or think, “well … I’m sure something bad will happen now.”

My shit-show of existence got to a point that one day I simply sat down with a notepad and attempted to fix it all. I began by listing out all the bad things that had happened to me, which was super easy to do. But when I started listing out the good, I had to force myself, truly force myself to do so. This is when I had a moment of clarity. This is where I figured out that my luck … or that me being unlucky … was just my mindset. Why was it so easy to list out the bad things and so difficult to write out the good things? I found that it was my mentality. It was my behavior. It was what I focused on. Being unlucky had become my paradigm … my way of life.

As I was doing this quasi life audit, I realized that when I was “unlucky” I had actually put myself in those positions. When good things had happened to me, I had also put myself in those positions.

I became fascinated by the concept of luck and started to read up on the subject. This is where I found that everyone had a different opinion on the matter, and again, it reinforced my notion that it really is up to you for what you want it to be. You can bend it to your will.  While I was reading a few articles, I stumbled upon this quote that struck me like a bolt of lightning:

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

Indeed.  I decided that I would have to work on building my own luck and that over timeI could swing the paradigm from being unlucky to lucky.

I’ve always liked to be in control of things, which is why I suppose I don’t put much stock in astrology, tarot card readers, psychics, evangelicals, or drunken train hobos. I’ve never liked to rely on other people or the stars to tell me of my destiny. 

 

Over time, I’ve learned that you can turn your luck around and dig yourself out of a hole … that you can truly turn from being unlucky to lucky. I know this because I have done it. And I did it by embracing this mantra: “Make Your Own Luck.” That’s why when I saw this banner from Pointer and Pine I had to have it. I’ve also taken that Thomas Jefferson’s quote to heart.  When you work hard and put yourself in good positions, good things will happen to you.

I have seen a massive difference in my life since embracing this mindset and could kick my own ass for being such a little bitch about “luck” in the past.

I will say, that since this discovery, I no longer have time for people that claim to be unlucky, or for individuals that get pissy at someone else’s good fortune. These are the people that complain constantly about everything under the sun, and not surprisingly, they don’t have a lot going for them. These are also the same people that when you try to help them, they don’t want to hear it. No, they would rather wallow in self-pity. I think these people bother me so much because I was once like them and I don’t want to ever go back to it.

I roll my eyes when someone mentions Mercury being in retrograde (whatever the hell that means) and that the stars are somehow responsible for things being bad or chaotic. I just don’t buy it. Sure, things are going to come off the rails.  Sure,  bad things are going to happen to you. Sure, there will be circumstances that seem unlucky, but when things are not going well, and when bad things are happening,  you fix them. You have put yourself in a different position. You can’t wait for someone to do it for you, and you sure as shit shouldn’t wait until the stars and planets are aligned “correctly.”  You have to take action and get yourself adjusted and in position, for fortuitous things to happen to you.

You make your own luck. Period.

Invisible Counselors

I’ve always been a big fan and follower of The Art of Manliness. Back in 2012, they posted an article called “The Cabinet of Invisible Counselors.” The premise of the article is to create a sort of imaginary team of mentors you can consult with for advice and inspiration throughout one’s life. After reading the article I decided to create my own, and it has really been highly beneficial. (See mine below)

If this sounds a little absurd or even silly, just think about it like this;  the idea around it is to study and emulate great minds of the past and present … as these mentors can be either alive or dead.

Since creating my cabinet of counselors, I have constantly turned to them when I’m unsure of something, when I need inspiration, or need a sort of life reset (something I discuss in my article called Weekend Morning Routine).

Your cabinet can help you steady yourself  when struggling with difficult decisions or going through troubling times.  You can simply ask yourself “What would ____ do?” in a certain situation that can keep you going in the right direction.

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Picking Your Counselors

1. Pick the members of your cabinet.

This is the fun part! You can choose as many people as you’d like to become part of your imaginary team of advisers. As I mentioned, they can be living or dead, real or even fictional … such as Sherlock Holmes. This is for you specifically, no one else, so choose who you really want.

The people on your cabinet don’t have to be perfect; remember, they are human beings too … flaws and all. You can actually take their flaws and use them to your advantage. For example, Hemingway is one of my advisers  and as much as I love his adventurous side and manly prowess, he had a reputation for being sexist and a bit of a womanizer – something that I don’t want to be. So, I use Hemingway for the things I admire, but take heed of his short comings, and remind myself to not be that way.

2. Learn as much about your invisible counselors as possible.

In order for your counselors to best advise you, you will need to study as much about their lives as you can.  Get your hands on as many biographies as you can and try to read all of their work.

I would recommend picking only 4  to 6 advisers … the men or women you admire the most , and really go in-depth with your research. Try to learn their strengths, their weaknesses, what made them successful, study their habits.

3. Consult with your counselors.

Each counselor will have their own unique skill-set, so depending on what is going on in your life, or the type of advice you need, you will want to have different advisers that can help you in various aspects.

Perhaps you will want to work your way through each adviser one month at a time, like I did to start. But the great part about this is, you can take this on however best suits you. Remember, this should be fun, never a chore, and keep in mind that you are utilizing them to help you.

For me, I also use a note pad to jot down quotes or tidbits of information that I can always use for quick reference.

My Invisible Counselors

1. Marcus Aurelius 

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The Emperor’s Handbook is the book I turn to the most. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor and he was the last of the rulers traditionally known as the Five Good Emperors. He was a practitioner of Stoicism, and his personal philosophical writings, which later came to be called Meditations, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy.

In this book, Marcus continuously points out that man lives only for the present, as the past is gone and the future is uncertain. Man, therefore must not live in regrets or overly worry about the future or death.

When I’m angry, when I feel stressed, this is the book I open and read through. His words have a way of putting things in perspective … a way of saying; “Get your head out of your ass.”

2.  Teddy Roosevelt

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Teddy is a man’s man. I turn to him to raise my adventurous spirit. I look at the life he lived and it makes me get off the couch, to quit being lazy … it makes me ask the question; “what have you done today?”

Teddy lead the Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War. He was the Governor of New York, the Vice President under William McKinley and rose to President after McKinley’s assassination. He began construction of the Panama Canal,  won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize and founded the Bull Moose Party.

I read all of this and think; yeah … I need to to do some shit today!

Roosevelt was blind in one eye after a boxing injury in the White House.  He suffered a detached retina in a bout in 1908, and stopped fighting. He switched to jiu-jitsu instead.

Fun Fact: How Teddy Bears Started: While on a hunting trip as President, guides in Mississippi had arranged for Roosevelt to shoot an old bear they had tied to a tree. Roosevelt refused to do so, on sporting grounds. (Instead, he had someone else shoot the bear.) The first part of the incident became a newspaper cartoon, which then inspired a shopkeeper to sell stuffed bears, with Roosevelt’s permission.

3. Thomas Jefferson

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My favorite president, and someone that I also look to to get me motivated to live a full life. A true Renaissance man, TJ had a real thirst for knowledge, and understanding. Not sure if he was ever a master of any one thing … but he tried …  something I can relate to.

Thomas Jefferson really, really liked books. After his retirement, he sold his library of 6,500 volumes to the Library of Congress after it was ransacked by the British. Jefferson needed the cash to pay off debts, but he started buying more books. “I cannot live without books,” he told John Adams.

Jefferson the architect. He designed the rotunda for the University of Virginia, his own home at Monticello, and the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Monticello has some good resources about what he called the “hobby of my old age,” though architecture actually a lifetime pursuit. Monticello and the University of Virginia are on the World Heritage List.

Jefferson the wine snob.  He had two vineyards at Monticello, which he apparently used to experiment with. Acknowledged as a great wine expert of early America, he sought to promote wine as an alternative to whiskey and cider.

Jefferson the agriculturalist. He believed in the United States as an agrarian society, in part, because it would make the nation independent from other nations. Jefferson practiced what he taught: He was one of the first American farmers to employ crop rotation and redesigned the plow to make it more efficient.

Jefferson the paleontologist. He was also obsessed with fossils and was involved in a great debate about the mammoth that became a political cause. Jefferson raised the profile of paleontology as president, and he has a mammoth named after him.

Jefferson the astronomer. Jefferson loved stargazing almost as much as he liked books. He made sure astronomy was taught at the University of Virginia, and he designed what may have been the first observatory in the United States.

Jefferson the writer. He was a prolific writer during his lifetime, with his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom included in his epitaph (instead of his two terms as president). The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress includes about 27,000 documents, including his extensive correspondence with key historical figures.

4. Hunter S. Thompson

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Hunter S. Thompson is my wild card, and probably my first choice for the one person (dead or alive) that I would invite to diner.

He held people accountable, took swine to task, highlighted the absurdity of the 60’s and despised Richard Nixon.

He’s best known for his book Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, but his novel The Rum Diary is the title I have read the most (and typically read once a year).

I own every book this man has written and every biography that has been put out about him. If you are not too familiar with Hunter and his work, go out and get The Great Shark Hunt and Hell’s Angles … but be prepared, you will never be the same again.

Fun Fact:

Bill Murray (who once played Hunter in the film Where the Buffalo Roam) called Johnny Depp (who was playing Hunter in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas at the time in 1998) and told him this:  “Make your next role drastically different from Hunter. Otherwise you’ll find yourself 10 years from now still doing him.”

Indeed … in my opinion, if you watch Fear & Loathing and then watch Pirates of the Caribbean … the mannerisms are VERY similar.

After Hunter’s passing, Depp was responsible for blasting Hunters ashes out of a cannon! You can watch it on Youtube.

Other attendees at this ceremony included John Kerry, Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, Josh Hartnett and Ralph Steadman.

For writing inspiration and to be inspired to live a little on the edge … Hunter is my guy.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is the ones who have gone over.”

 “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

5. Robert Kennedy

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I always preferred Bobby over John F. Kennedy. JFK was the face, but Bobby was the brains. RFK was a complex man, someone who changed his mind on how he viewed things throughout his life and career. He could be loving and at other times crude, and extremely demanding.

He quarreled with Jimmy Hoffa, ran most of JFK’s political campaigns, failed the 3rd grade, hated Lyndon Johnson and many historians credit Bobby for getting us through the Cuban Missile crisis (read 13 Days).

I like Bobby because he was so complex and the epitome of the phrase; work hard, play hard.

6. Ernest Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway, like Teddy Roosevelt, was a man’s man.

Aside from Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is my second most read book.

Hemingway made his first visit to Pamplona, Spain after hearing about it from his literary mentor, Gertrude Stein. The city and the spectacle of bullfighting made such an impression on him that he chose it as the setting for The Sun Also Rises. He attended the Pamplona fiesta a total of nine times and, in 1932, published a non-fiction guidebook about bullfighting called Death in the Afternoon which is also one of my favorite books.

Ernest also lead an eventful life. During WWI, an 18-year-old Hemingway volunteered as a canteen worker and an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross on the Austro-Italian Front. In June 1918, while giving out chocolate and cigarettes to the soldiers, he was wounded by an Austrian mortar shell. He was knocked unconscious and buried in the earth of the dugout. Shrapnel hit him in the right foot, knee, thighs, scalp, and hand. Despite these injuries, when he came to he picked up one of the wounded Italian soldiers and carried him to the first aid station. For his bravery, he was awarded an Italian medal of valor.

During WWII, Hemingway used his fishing boat, the Pilar, to hunt for German U-Boats that had entered Caribbean waters.

While vacationing in Africa, he survived two plane crashes in the span of two days. In one instance, his plane caught fire on the runway. With the plane door jammed closed, he used his head as a battering ram and butted it open.

Hemingways had many short-comings, but he was tough, a romantic and incredible writer… winning the 1954 for his work The Old Man and the Sea.

I hope you enjoyed my list on counselors and really hope you create your own. Love a comment below and let me know who you choose to be your advisors

Thanks for reading!

Weekend Morning Routine

 

What is Your Morning Routine?

 

There are lot of articles and books out there written around morning routines… what people eat, how they mediate, what kind of cryo-therapy they use, yadda, yadda. It all sounds well and good but I have to say…I don’t really have a morning routine throughout the week. Granted, I do the basic things that everyone else does … shower, brush your teeth etc., but I don’t meditate or journal or really do anything “special” during the week.

No, I reserve all of that for the weekend.

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My Weekend Morning Routine

I like to wait and do these types of special self-care actions either on Saturday or Sunday mornings because for me, doing this everyday can get a little overwhelming … even tedious, and I want the process that I talk about below to be fun … something I actually look forward to.

On either Saturday or Sunday morning (just depends on what I have going on), I get up early as if I was going to work (so around 6:30-7am). I either sit on the front porch (if it’s raining) or on the back porch and bring with me a journal, a cigar, a pen, a book to read and a cup of coffee.

I use this time to first reflect on the week before. I look at what I’ve accomplished, and what I’ve failed to do. I assess my work, my diet, and if I accomplish my to-do list. Now, I don’t beat myself up if didn’t knock off everything on my list, or if I had a really shitty week at work, ate poorly or missed a workout. I just use this time to self-correct, and to analyze why I got derailed. I write all of this out in my journal so I can see it plainly in black and white.

Granted, this may sound a little crazy or O.C.D., but I believe you have to hold yourself to high standards and always try to improve. I feel you always need to check yourself, and if you do this every week you can catch destructive habits and behaviors quickly. If I feel a murderous rage two weeks in a row because of bullshit at work, I know that I need to journal about this, and diagnose the real issue behind it. If I’ve gained 5 pounds in the past two weeks, I know I need to take my fat ass to the gym more the upcoming week. If I’m feeling lethargic, I can think about my diet, or maybe my sleep patterns the week before and correct it. The key is doing this each week so things don’t get away from you.

You will be surprised by some patterns that form, and how the same things may keep plaguing you (at least they do for me). We can all fall into bad habits and the longer they go, the harder they are to break … that’s why taking the time to analyze this each week, I feel, is very important.

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The Week Ahead

After I look at the week before, I map out the week ahead. I write out my goals, what I want to do, where I’d like to go, or if there is anything upcoming that I would like to attend. I use this time to think about things I haven’t done before that I would like to try (that could be food, places, events etc). Doing all of  this helps me from feeling stagnant.

People ask me all the time how Jillian and I are able to go do all these fun things we do and well … it’s because we plan it ahead of time … we talk about it … ya know … put some thought in to it.

Lounging at home is easy, and I’m the worst about coming home from work tired, and all I want to do is eat and then bend watch a Netflix show. Don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely amazing sometimes, as it’s nice to just relax, but there is more to this life than the couch and a TV show.

On Saturday or Sunday, while I’m journaling, if I have gone all week without doing anything when I get home other than watching TV, it’s certainly a concern, but if I’ve done nothing but this the past two weeks, I know that I REALLY need to plan something to break that cycle. When I say “plan something”, this doesn’t mean you have to plan a trip overseas or go out and blow tons of cash on something ridiculous. No, it can be as simple as going out to the movies, trying a new restaurant, reading instead of watching TV, start a new hobby (or pick back-up one you have been neglecting). For me, doing these little thing has helped me fight being lethargic and even depression (especially in the winter months).

My Process

As I told you above, I first use my journal to write out my goals, to write down things I want to do and try.

Then, while I drink my coffee and smoke a cigar, I take that time to reflect on the week and think about the type of person I want to be going forward. I do a self assessment and just think. I  also ask myself questions like: Am I doing things that are bettering myself? Am I behaving the way I should be (i.e. … am I acting like a massive asshole-a lot of times the answer is yes!). For me, I have to manage myself … again, I know this may sound odd, but I know myself and I know that I have to be sure I’m doing the things I need to do in order to do well.

After I journal, smoke my cigar and drink my coffee I will then read a book by one of my Invisible Counselors. (Read my article around that if you want the full rundown) but basically I read about someone I admire, someone Id like to model myself after or someone that has attributes that I like or that inspires me. These include people like Richard Francis Burton, Marcus Aurelius, and Teddy Roosevelt. Reading about these people get my adventurous spirit revved up. It motivates me as I see what all these amazing people have accomplished (and here I’ve been watching Game of Thrones all week on the couch).

Again, I do all of this to check myself … to make sure I’m always striving to do more and to be better.

Sometimes this process will take an hour, sometimes two, sometimes longer. If I can, I try not to put a time limit on it. The key is to wake up early to give myself plenty of time to go through this process and still have the whole day ahead of me. I don’t sleep in til noon … hell I don’t even know what that is like anymore.  If I can give any advice to younger people, it would be is to STOP waking up at 11, 12 or 1. It such a waste of a day.

Id love to hear about your morning routines and what you do, so leave a comment below! What I do may sound ridiculous, and may not work for anyone else, but it has sure helped me. Thanks for reading!

Dress Right & Act Like Somebody