this is water

The Glad Stork – Comic Creator

By day, The Glad Stork works at a soul-crushing corporate job and is an Adjunct IT Professor; by night, he makes comics about parenting, life, and cubicles at TheGladStork.com. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

This Is Water. Sometimes life is tough and it seems like everyone is in your way. This is actually your “default” way of thinking–that the world revolves around you. Get out of your default setting. “This Is Water” is a commencement address given by the late great David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005. I make a point to reread this at least once a year.

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed.David Cain writes Raptitude, one of my favorite sources for insight on mindfulness, happiness, and living a good life. This is one of my favorite Raptitude articles. It is a refreshing take on the close knit relationship between the indentured servitude of the 9-5 and our consumerist culture.

Your Money Or Your Life. A dollar spent is a portion of your life spent earning that dollar that you’ll never get back. Spend wisely on the things that matter most to you. Stop thinking of money as something that is used to buy stuff, and instead think of it as something that is used to buy your own time. Your Money Or Your Life should be required reading for all high school kids.

Good things to watch.

23 ½ Hours. Laughter is the best medicine? Wrong. It’s actually a walk. Stay active. Stay healthy. Stay happy.

Everything is amazing and nobody’s happy or Hilarious” on Netflix (28 minutes in). Louis CK says, “We live in an amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots.” Watch him discuss the insane contradiction between our bad attitudes and the amazingness of everything around us.

Marc Maron’s Interview with Robin Williams. This interview is audio only, so I’m cheating the system here. I’m not normally affected by celebrity deaths, but this one got to me. I’ve been watching a lot of Robin Williams interviews, as if to tell myself to face the emotions and let them wash over me and use it to understand the hard times others are going through and to get through my own hard times. I’d recommend the full interview, or skip to 55:34 when Robin discusses the gratitude-driven thought process that got him through the first time he considered suicide.

Good things to use.

Affirmations. If you use computers, you have to change your password frequently. If you’re a functioning adult, you desire positive change in your life. Combine these two seemingly unrelated life aspects to naturally begin using affirmations. Affirmations are the closest thing to real magic I’ve ever seen.

The Circle of Control. I was at a Fourth of July parade with my older brother when we passed a ‘roided out guy in a cutoff t-shirt that said “USA… Back-to-Back World War Champs”. My brother was filled with rage. “What an asshole. Treating death and destruction like a sporting event.” I agree; that guy’s an asshole. But letting an asshole ruin your day is a waste of a day. Instead fill your Circle of Concern with your Circle of Control–devoting time, energy, and thoughts only to the things that you can affect.

Stoicism. Many of the above Good Things are ways of thinking that fall in line with a Stoicism “Life Philosophy”. There was a time when philosophy focused less on answering the unanswerable and more on how to live a purposeful and good life. This book is a very accessible introduction to “The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy”.

Connect with the The Glad Stork on Twitter, @TheGladStork or Facebook.

Chris and Jon – Podcasters

Chris Stemp and Jon Rojas are the co-hosts of the Smart People Podcast, where they interview the people smarter than you and I.  Guests include Tony Schwartz, Dr. Paul Ruggieri, and Dan Pink among others.  These are Chris and Jon’s good things.

Good things to read.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. You know how it’s always hard to answer when people ask, “What’s your favorite book”? Well for me it’s easy. Flow blew my mind the first time I read it, and the fifth time I read it. By now my copy of the book is just a lot of highlighted pages. – Chris

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver. A book about probability and statistics does not sound very exciting, but think again. The fact that Nate Silver accurately predicted the last few elections is enough to get you intrigued. You’ll quickly realize that it’s both fun and educational. – Jon

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. Within 10 pages, this book changed the way I viewed the world around me. The idea that plants can use us in the same way we can use them is mind bending. This book goes far beyond plants and makes you think more deeply about human desire. – Chris

Good things to watch.

This is Water by David Foster Wallace. A simple video that shows we should care, be curious, and be compassionate. Stop reading this and go watch it. NOW. – Jon

Kittens.  No joke, watch kittens. On-line, in your house, on TV – anywhere. They instantly lighten my mood and remind me to not take life so seriously. – Chris

Feel For Me,  Live, by Foy Vance. Only the live version will do…sadly. The emotion that comes out during this song when he performs live is incredible. Don’t be scared to sing along, you’ll find you are much more in tune with the world when you’re done belting it out! – Chris

Good things to use.

Headlamp. The versatility of a headlamp is under appreciated. You can use it walking your dog at night, reading in a tent, searching in the attic, etc. But be sure to get one with good reviews – with headlamps, quality matters! – Chris

Lift (iOS app).  Everyone could use a little help making better habits and Lift is the perfect app to help. Lift helps track your daily habits and sends you reminders when you haven’t completed them. Other Lift users can provide comments and encouragement. What’s better than that?!? – Jon

Aeropress.  I love coffee. I REALLY LOVE coffee. Nothing makes me happier in the morning than waking up, grinding coffee beans, and making a fresh cup of coffee. It takes a little longer than a coffee maker, but it’s completely worth it. – Jon

Connect with the guys on Twitter, Chris @ChrisStemp and Jon @JonRojas.  You can also follow the show at @SmartPeoplePod.

Jeremey DuVall – Trainer, Publisher, Helper

Jeremey DuVall is a former personal trainer turned writer and digital publishing guy. He spends his time helping bloggers produce amazing content and contributing to a variety of health and fitness publications. He’s also really great at high fives. He blogs regularly at JeremeyDuvall.com.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Yes, before there was a movie, there was a book, and in my opinion, it’s much better than the motion picture. Although it can be difficult after having the stage set by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, try forgetting everything you know about Fight Club and read the book with an open mind. Palahniuk’s writing is unusually entertaining, and the characters will keep you reading page after page. Be sure to read the afterword and find out that many of the events (like peeing in the soup as a waiter) are actually based on real-life events.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is just a great story from start to finish — plain and simple. Combine the interesting adventure with real life lessons, and you have one hell of a book.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve read all of Gladwell’s books, but this is by far my favorite. Far too often, I think we look at the success of others with contempt and envy. Outliers presents success in a very different light. While you’re reading, go ahead and pick up Tipping Point and Blink; you won’t regret it.

Good things to watch.

New Girl. By the time Tuesday arrives, everyone is usually in need of a great laugh. For my fiancee and I, New Girl provides just that. The situations the characters get themselves into are likely reminiscent of your own life. Plus, everyone knows a real-life Schmidt. Two things I’ve taken away from the show:

  1. Everyone should play True American at least once in their life.
  2. The Douchebag Jar needs to be utilized in most places.

This is Water. This commencement speech by David Foster Wallace has gone all kinds of viral. It’s certainly worth 8-9 minutes of your life. After watching, you will view the world through a different lens.

Your Own Presentation. Whether it’s giving a presentation or interviewing for a new job, getting an outsider’s perspective on your presenting style can make a world of difference. I was lucky to have several interviews critiqued when I was starting to apply for jobs. The feedback I was given made a huge difference in my confidence in front of others.

Good things to use.

Noise-Canceling Headphones. I work best when I’m isolated in my own environment. To stay focused and avoid outside distractions, I use a pair of Able Planet headphones. Put those on, and it’s like the entire world disappears around you. Seriously, someone could be screaming right next to me, and I wouldn’t hear it. For those that don’t like working to music, I occasionally use Coffitivity to give me some ambient background noise, or I play something more mellow like Acoustic Alchemy.

A Standing Desk of Some Sort. Coming from a personal training background, I’m used to constantly moving throughout the day. Since I began working at my computer more and more, I had to rely on a standing desk otherwise I would go absolutely crazy. Sitting, in general, isn’t great for your posture. Plus, you’ll likely be more awake and concentrated with a standing desk. Currently, I use a ledge in my apartment when I want to stand, but I’m looking for the ideal standing/sitting combo desk (likely going to build one). If you have to sit all day, invest in a laptop stand and use a wireless keyboard and mouse so you can avoid staring down while you work.

A Timer. Ever wonder how you finish the day with half of your to-do list unchecked? Probably by wasting time on Facebook or browsing the internet. Using a timer can help you best allocate your time and also plan intermittent rest breaks to recharge. I use Timebar because it sits in the menu bar at the top of my screen so I can see how much time I have left before the buzzer. If you find yourself constantly checking out your friend’s pics on Facebook, consider using SelfControl, a free app that both acts as a timer and a buddy that blocks any URL you want (like Facebook.com).

Connect with Jeremey on Twitter, @JeremeyD.