Never Enough

Remember when I posted about reading that book about vulnerability? I stopped reading it the next day. Yup. You read that right: It was too much and I gave up.

Well, at least for a little while. I needed time to mull over what I had read and let it sink in. If I want to attain lifelong growth from reading this book, I can’t read it in one sitting and expect my life to change immediately. No, it takes more time than that.

So after that first excursion, I decided that two of the nonfiction books I’m reading this year I’m going to read often in small bursts: First is the Sefer Yetzirah, which I’ve been reading one verse at a time, because unpacking each verse when it’s literally steeped in thousands of years of mystical philosophy demands a slow yet attentive reading schedule, and second is Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. The vulnerability book.

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Dope

I am fond of wit and wordplay, and I find it the greatest irony in the fact that “doping” and “dopamine” are similar only as a matter of coincidence.

I am also a fan of synecdoche, both for its sound and for its meaning and usage: the reversal of a part and its whole. (As a tangential whim, I’ve always wanted to write an adventure novel in which our young protagonists must recover the lost “Synecdo Key” to progress in their journey, but upon finding it, the key is broken, and only a single part remains…but fret not, because it can still unlock the door as though it were whole.)

So, colloquially with a hint of synecdoche, I’d like to talk about a form of dope we all do.

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Role Models and Adversaries

I’ve been down all weekend. Despite some fun outings with friends, an itch in my throat slowly spread until it erupted Sunday into an all-out cold. My plans to do a big weekend social media push for my Kickstarter instead ended up with me napping on the couch.

Now that the school week has begun, it’s time for me to turn my attention back toward willpower in my mindfulness class. Today’s multifaceted prompt begins by asking us to think about our willpower role models. Who inspires us most to meet our goal?

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Bigger Than Me

One of the hidden stress responses Kelly McGonigal talks about in her book The Upside of Stress is the “tend and befriend” response: Stress physiologically compels us to help others and strengthen relationships. We can tap into this stress response, she says, whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed simply by answering one question:

What is my bigger-than-self goal?

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I Want

In Kelly McGonigal’s book The Willpower Instinct, she talks about how tapping into our want power–the drive we have towards the things we desire–can help us draw forth our willpower reserves when we’re feeling low or defeated.

This week also happens to be the longest week of the school year: Over thirty hours of teaching, plus zero prep time while at school. In a typical week I teach only twenty hours and have about ten hours of planning meetings and prep time, so this shift is intense and can be quite exhausting. There’s no better time than right now to find my want power.

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I Will or I Won’t

In an age of primetime scandals and uncertain politics, there are four things I like to watch: fun TV shows like Steven Universe and the Punisher, fun YouTube videos from creators like Lockstin & Gnoggin or Bird Keeper Toby, satirical news commentary from personalities such as Seth Meyers (if only he were single) and John Oliver, and TED Talks.

TED Talks, as it happens, also form the basis of the mindfulness elective I’m currently teaching. Inspired by the works of Kelly McGonigal and Brene Brown especially (my self-help gurus), this course strives to provide my students with a stress mindset intervention as well as strategies they can employ to conquer stress and shame and boost willpower.

Rather than a large number of quizzes and exams, most of the course is driven by self-reflective journals, and throughout this month, I’m committing myself to reflecting on each of these journals alongside my kids. Practice what you preach, right?

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2018 to life

Here’s a fact about gematria, the alphanumeric philosophy that relates words with numbers: In Hebrew, the word “life” and the number 18 are synonymous.

And here’s a random thought: 0, representing nothingness, is like a blank space.

So here’s a play on words: 2018 literally means “to life”!

Okay, okay, you’re right, it should be “two life,” but that’s not as much fun. And it raises significantly many more psychological concerns than “to life,” which is not only reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof, but also a sign that this year is a year for living.

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Redundant Title Concerning Goals

It’s been a long minute since I’ve taken the time to truly think about my goals. For over a year, my life has consisted of headbutting deadlines vying for my attention–child interview report due Monday, grade data analysis due Tuesday, dishes in the sink reaching critical mass and are those leftovers suddenly living?–so much so that it’s seemed like my standard state of mind has been stuck on survival.

You can’t really make progress toward long-term goals if you don’t take time to think about what those goals are, and today I’m determined to do this at least once before my students return, grad school begins again, and I feel stuck in survival mode once more.

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