Live well

I’m not an NBA fan; I don’t watch any games, turn on ESPN, follow any players, but the news about Kobe Bryant and his daughter punched me in the heart.

Famous people dying is in the media all of the time. It’s sad, and we can feel some sadness. But often we move on.

The news about Kobe should have done the same for me.

But it didn’t.

It hit me. It lingered. I felt it kick me in the heart, like a full backswing and put-your-body-into-it kind of kick. It was like I lost someone I knew. I was surprised.

Minutes before I saw the news, I indulged myself at a ramen joint I wanted to try out. It didn’t disappoint. Day-long simmering broth, perfectly cooked noodles, and pork-belly sloshed around my belly as I wobbled out the door. It was bliss.

While commuting back home on subway, I opened Instagram and saw a post from Gary Vaynerchuck paying his respects to Kobe as if he died.

And I was like, “Wait, what the?!” It knocked some wind out of me and I found it hard to breathe. I was in disbelief that Kobe could be anywhere near dead. “Not Kobe, too!” I thought.

Quickly I snapped a browser open and started googling and saw the news: “Kobe and his daughter die in helicopter crash, no surviors.”

The happy buzz I had from that heavenly meal started to feel a touch hellish as my stomach churned when I continued to click and scroll, click and scroll, burying myself in the story.

And somehow there were more flashes of memories about this man that I never met, followed, or even cared much about. There I was on the 7 train heading back into Manhattan, moved, caring.

Why was I so emotional?

Maybe it was the tragedy of a great player who died at such a young age with his daughter in tow who had barely even begun living. Maybe it was those Nike ads that talked about his work habit, his mindset, his tenacity, his audaciousness. Maybe it was the fact that two of my friends’ parents died in the same week as Kobe.

There was just too much death swirling around me. One of my friends found out that her mom died abruptly, and my other friend’s father had a long slog with cancer.

And all of that made me think about my father’s death and the fact that we all die. It was overwhelming.

Then, Kobe happened.

I was overwhelmed.

I stopped and reflected on all of this and saw things more clearly.

Even if I wasn’t a fan of the sport, I was a fan of this sportsman.

I just respected him.

I respected the way he carried himself even when people hated him, even when he was getting punished by the media, even when he really screwed up. He had class. He was a winner, even when he lost.

And after losing basketball, he lived his life.

Living life—that’s what I’ve resolved to do. I was spending too much time worrying about death.

We should think about it though. Our mortality is a teacher as the ancients and sages teach.

My father’s death has taught me much: not to take life for granted, not to assume tomorrow is ours, humility (I’m always working on that one), every day is a gift.

Death also forces us to really look at how we live. It makes us want to do better, seek truth, not put up with too much BS, take chances, feel alive.

But worrying about death is dumb.

No one knows when their time will come. So it’s useless to fret about what we can’t do anything about.

What we can do is live as well as we can today. We can love those around us, hug them, encourage them. We can love ourselves.

We can mourn those who’ve passed, remember them, celebrate them, tell their stories.

We can be thankful for what we have, find true meaning, grow.

Sadly, death is inevitable.

But living well is a choice.


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Finding meaning when everything feels meaningless

Sometimes life feels…well—empty—devoid of purpose. It’s easy to feel like a hamster running on a stupid wheel. But that’s wrong.

Life’s not purposeless. And you’re not a hamster.

But I know the feeling of waking up and wondering why you’re even bothering. Why even open your eyes, get out of bed, get ready to go to work, eat, see a friend or two, then do it all over again? I’ve been there.

But, again, you’re not a hamster.

The very fact that you want meaning means something.

You see, desires have an object for that which is desired. If I’m hungry there’s food. If I’m thirsty there’s water. If I’m lustful there is sex.

Inherent in our desires is something that fulfills it.

The same is true with meaning.

All of us have a deep desire to know what we do matters. We want to feel it. We’re famished.

I believe that the greatest meaning is found in Jesus, serving and loving him because he loved me unto death to give me life. So I live to delight him, albeit imperfectly, but that’s my purpose.

But, I get that not all of you are there. That may be a far cry from your worldview. That’s fair. So do this.

Search.

Make that your meaning to look for it.

That’s what I did.

Searching isn’t a guarantee you’ll find it, but it’s a start.

Hunger doesn’t equate to eating. But it would be odd if food didn’t exist in a world where our bodies by nature need it as fuel. That would be absurd.

Meaninglessness is absurd.

Sometimes we hunger for it more than a hot meal. Don’t we?

So know this. Your life has meaning. You just haven’t found it yet.

Seek it out. It’s there to be found.

And it’s more satisfying than the most delicious of fare.


Books on meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning (affiliate) by Victor Frankl is one of the most amazing books I read on meaning. He was a holocaust survivor and wrote about how he found meaning in his suffering. I wrote a post on it.

If you’re interested in Jesus and the meaning he provides, check out C.S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity (affiliate). Lewis breaks down the major tenants of this faith and why he believes them.

Anthony de Mello’s Awareness (affiliate) is also an interesting and eye-opening read. His ideas and the way he conveys them are surprising and fresh. I came across it because it’s one of Tim Ferriss’s top recommended books.

The power of starting

With every second that passes, you are one moment away from changing your life. Really.

That project you always wanted to do, the career path you always wanted to pursue, growing more fit, exercising your faith, becoming a better person are all before you, right now, this instant.

All you have to do is this: Start.

That’s it.

The problem often lies in the belief that starting isn’t enough; we believe we should be finished when we’ve just started. We’re impatient.

But thinking like that will get you nowhere. Because when you begin, you have to accept the fact that you are a beginner. And that’s ok. That’s good.

Being a beginner is key. It’s how you get to the finish line. It’s how you win: one step at a time.

That’s how I lost fifty pounds in my forties: I started by walking in the mall and getting lapped by seventy-year-old grandmas; it was embarrassing, but I began.

That’s how I started my companies: I had no idea what I was doing and just talked to smarter people than me, and an opportunity came along that gave me liftoff.

That’s how I started blogging: I always believed that I was a terrible writer, but I still wanted to say something and began banging away at my keyboard until what I had to say seemed like something worth listening to.

Today, right now, this second is an opportunity for you to grow, get better, succeed. It’s not even about finishing or winning; it’s about progressing.

And before you know it, you will be transformed.

True strength

True strength isn’t about how much weight you can throw around in the gym; rather, it’s about your ability to carry the burdens of others.

It’s certainly not about how many people you can hurt, but it’s about those you can heal.

The strongest of us shouldn’t spend our energy trying to control anyone else but ourselves, mastering our own desires and impulses.

If you are strong, you serve. If you are powerful, you expend it on those who have less power.

Your strength should make others stronger.

One of the smartest things you can do

Getting smarter isn’t about knowing everything, it’s about admitting what you don’t know.

“I don’t know,” is such a simple phrase, but many of us have difficulty saying it to ourselves let alone to others. It makes us feel weak, vulnerable, stupid.

But you’re not. It’s the furthest thing from the truth. Saying “I don’t know” is one of the smartest things you can say, because it’s the beginning of learning. It’s the trailhead to gaining more understanding.

To learn is the only way to get smarter. And to do that, you must admit that you don’t know everything, you must open yourself up to the fact that you’re not as knowledgeable as you want to be.

So the next time you are tempted to act like you know something when you don’t, remember this.

Not knowing isn’t bad; it’s an opportunity.

This is true success

You don’t need a lot of money, have a corner office, be famous, live in a beautiful house, or possess a huge following to be successful. No—you just have to be loved.

I get that you can’t eat love: It doesn’t put food on the table. But, I bet that most of us aren’t starving and partake in three square meals a day, but we still don’t feel as successful as we want to feel.

Here’s the problem.

We believe what society (and social media) pumps into our minds through our eyeballs. Having glamorous homes, people, planes, stuff, lives is what we consider successful. “That’s real success,” we might think to ourselves, as we start to feel depressed. But is it? Is that really “making it”?

I don’t think so. When I make more money, I feel better—for a minute. Then I realize that I don’t make as much as so and so. When I get that bigger home, I realize that my friend has two amazing homes. When I started my company, I read about another person who started ten companies and five of them IPO’d. With each accomplishment, I somehow failed to feel accomplished. Maybe you can relate.

But—when I realize how loved I am, I float. No, actually, I fly, soar. I’m over the moon. No longer am I just some guy eating three square meals a day and still somehow feeling like a loser; I’m a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, friend, child of God. Relationships: They are the stuff of life. It’s living at its best.

If you want to succeed, love.

You are rich

If you can’t enjoy what you have, you’ll never appreciate what you want.

If you learn to feel rich in every moment, getting what you hope for will only make you richer.

Gratitude gives you abundance even when you may have relatively little.

And if you have nothing, you can still be grateful for life.

Even with just that, you have much.

When unlearning is the greatest lesson

Unlearning is sometimes the best learning you can do. For often you limit the understanding of how high you can climb or how far you can go or how great you can become; but those thoughts are often untrue, wrong. Examine them. Dismantle those limiting notions, the dark stories from your childhood, those demeaning words someone spoke to you, that embarrassing thing that happened to you at school, those experiences that shaped you and taught you who you think you are. That—that’s what needs to be unlearned. You are more capable than you know. See yourself anew; and teach yourself to learn beyond what you’ve once thought you knew. Unlearn to learn your greatness.

If you want to soar, do this

Often the best way to rise higher is to go lower.

If you want to feel happier and be lifted up and feel like you’re dancing with the angels, you need to go deeper. You need to dive into what has hurt you and forgive others, yourself and heal.

To soar in your career, you often need to do things that seem underneath you. For instance, to start a business, you’re not only the boss but the janitor, trash-taker-outer, errand-maker, servant. You do what it takes to win, even doing the most menial, lowly jobs to rise.

Humility is required to learn and grow. Like a fifty-year-old who goes back to college, you have to become like a child again; or to learn a new language, you start by speaking like a baby; or to gain expertise, you must be willing to constantly say “I don’t know,” until you get to know little by little and, over time, you grow to know a lot. Learning requires stooping low and fumbling around in the nest before you fly.

Don’t fear to reach new depths.

For, new heights await you.