I Feel Just Like a Political Refugee

Danny

Have you ever casually read through a Facebook political argument thread?  If you have you might recognize it as minutes of your life that you’ll never be able to claim back.  People arguing with zero intentions of having their minds changed with their only intention of internet yelling louder than their adversary.

And of course we know that no one ever wins an internet political argument until the mud slinging begins.  It’s like watching children argue in the sandbox.

The political environment in the United States is fairly simple.  If you support Donald Trump you’re an ignorant, back-woods racist.  And if you are a supporter of the left then you are a closed minded, child-killing, socialist.  Politics in the U.S. is quite polarizing and at the same time maddening.  And I hate it.

I don’t identify with the left because they seem to be a party who only accepts you IF you believe exactly as they believe and then tow the party line regardless.  And I don’t identify with the right these days for many of the same reasons.  I feel as though I am a political refugee without a home.

On the surface the sides seem to be dug in.  The left refuses to budge.  The right refuses to budge.  And those in the middle are stuck, left to choose between two polar opposites.  And choosing is like being asked which you prefer, to drink a cup of vomit or eat a bugger sandwich.  I wish there was an option in the middle.  A candidate who was a bit socially conscious, yet fiscally responsible.

I absolutely, positively hate politics.

Danny

Is Sugar Really That Dangerous?

DannyI was reading an article the other day about sugar on Huffpost (you can read the article here) and I had an epiphany.  There are a lot of facts about sugar that are alarming, especially considering that food manufacturers put it in a lot of our foods.

The simple truth is that sugar might be the most deadly substance on the planet.  And even if that statement is a bit overstated, it isn’t far off.

And because of this I have decided to spend the next week or 2 weaning myself off of all sugar.  I’m not saying I’ll never eat sugar again.  I’m saying that I need to be cognizant of the dangers of sugar and then use that awareness to make better food choices.

Danny

We Believe Different Things and That’s Okay

DannyI’m sure at this point you’ve seen the interview videos held on college campuses around the United States.  I’ve watched several of them today as I took advantage of a rainy day.  In these videos a guy or lady walks around college campuses asking students about their political views and then asks them to give specifics to back their belief system.  Rarely can the students provide substance to defend their beliefs.

One particular video grabbed my attention for 2 primary reasons.  First, because of the number of college students who seem to be espousing socialist views.  Secondly, because many who were interviewed believe that free speech only applies to those expressing views that aligned with their own.  And differing views should be considered “hate” speech.

I don’t agree with many people who are extremists, but I do believe they have the right to express their views.  And sometimes it is painful to let someone speak, especially if their views are racial, anti-religion, pro-life/pro-abortion, etc.  Opposing views should not automatically be classified as “hate” speech and it alarmed me to listen to student after student express this world-view.

And quite a few agreed with amending the Constitution to limit citizens’ right to free speech!

But when asked WHY the Constitution should be amended they were not able to provide a single valid reason why.  Eventually they fell back on their belief that “hate speech” should be restricted.

I don’t believe this is a view I’ll be adopting any time soon.

Danny

Not All People Are A** Holes…

DannyThere are these moments when people do things around me that appear on the surface to reinforce the perception that most people are self-centered, self-focused, selfish and all the other “self” prefixed words.  My usual reaction is to point out that society is going down the toilet or that people are such a** holes these days.

I do believe that social media has changed us.  It has changed how people interact with the world around them.  The most interesting change, in my opinion, is the selfie.  Stop for a moment and imagine how you might have viewed someone 15 years ago who used their camera to take pictures of themselves.  We would have thought “how vain do you have to be?”, but in today’s world the selfie is completely acceptable.

On the surface society would appear to be spinning in the toilet bowl.  People do appear to be more self-focused.  People do appear to be less interested in helping others.

But all of these perceptions are superficial.  When I stop and think about humanity in general, I believe that most people are good.  I believe most people have good intentions.  I also believe most people care about others and are considerate.

It’s easy to be influenced by social media and the inundation of news to believe that the entire world sucks.  And I’ll admit I have fallen victim (at times) to this false narrative.

The truth is there are a lot of good people who are trying their best to make it through a hard life and a tough world.

Danny

I Have Become Judgmental & Negative the Last Few Years

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Danny

I have become judgmental & negative the last few years.

In part because I find many people in today’s world to be self-absorbed and inconsiderate which has created in me a default mechanism to “everyone around me sucks”. But there are good people in the world so I am on a new mission in life to be a better version of myself.

Less judgmental mainly.

I am working to give people the benefit of the doubt and remind myself of 2 key facts…1. I am not without my own faults (those who work with me will attest that I’m not the easiest person to be around sometimes. Don’t believe them, then ask Evelina.) and 2. I don’t know what others are going through at the moment I’m judging them.

#2 is really important for me to remember because I don’t really know what others are going through and being kind could help them in ways I’ll never know.

 

Danny

Is It Imperative To Live An Inspired Life?

Danny

Is It Imperative To Me To Live An Inspired Life?

In 2014 I began this journey on Dream Big Dream Often.  I didn’t have many goals when I first started, other than taking over the world!  Seriously, all I wanted to do was build a platform that would allow me to purge my soul and mind.  I was curious as to how many people might relate or hold valuable the beliefs that I held as critical for my life.

Along the way this blog has taken a life of its own.  People from all over the world read my scribbles and I am still awestruck by the fact that hundreds of thousands of visitors find my site each year.  Who would have ever thought a guy living in North Carolina could reach so many people!

The main purpose of me running Dream Big has been to inspire others.  To lead by example and try to express to my readers that life might be tough, but humans are tougher.  If we aspire to inspire we can do amazing things.

I believe it is so important to live an intentional life.  At my core I must know that I’m making a difference.  I must know that I am seeking to add value to the world around me.  I must know that there are people out there who read something I’ve written and say “If this idiot can do it, then I can do it!”.

I have my own opinion on living an inspired life.  A few of the things I believe encapsulate this are:

  1. A deliberate focus on helping others.
  2. A willingness to put the needs of the team above the needs of self.
  3. A willingness to step out of the comfort zone and do something meaningful and long-lasting.
  4. The courage to stand on principles and have an opinion.

Of all my thoughts on inspiration these are the ones that I believe help drive me.

I’m curious to know if you think it is important to live an inspired life?  And what other factors might you add to my short list?

Danny

It’s Sad, But I Think Technology Is Making Us Lazy

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Danny

It’s Sad, But I Think Technology Is Making Us Lazy

This past week I sat in a sub shop eating my veggie sandwich and watching people.  There was a gentleman sitting in the corner of the restaurant on his mobile device.  Another gentleman sat in the opposite corner on his mobile device.  A couple sat behind me and barely said 2 words to each other as they scanned their mobile devices.  And each of the employees had their mobile devices out on the counter or within reach.

This phenomenon has revealed itself time-and-time again.  Ask someone to do simple math without their device and they are stumped.  Ask someone to spell without spell check and look at their face…”receipt” or “reciept”?   Google tells us when to use “accept” versus “except”.  Google gives us the answer to “Who was that guy that starred in that movie that time when I was eight?”

Are we evolving or are we devolving because of technology?  One of the simple criteria I use in making decisions is “does it make me better?”.  Sometimes I debate in my mind and wonder if technology is making us better.  I’m not sure where I stand on this point, but I definitely think technology is making us lazier.

Kids gaming inside for hours and having to be coerced into playing outside and then having to ask “What do I do now?” is a problem.  Spending countless hours per day staring at a computer screen has been proven to cause irreversible damage.  Mobile device addiction is a real thing.  Social media addiction is causing depression rates to soar to an all-time high in young people.

Are we better?

Then I look at the impact technology has had on the practice of medicine and I can say without hesitation we are better.  Technology has made the automobile more reliable and we are moving to a more eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.  Air travel is safer than ever.  And in a weird way technology has made war safer.  Technology has connected the world in ways humanity never imagined.

And just when you think things are getting good…

…the smart phone enters the picture and begins to create isolation and separation.  People just love these devices and I’m a huge fan of my iPhone!  I can check the weather, watch YouTube videos, play games, etc.  It is a distraction from standing in line or waiting on a friend to show up to an appointment.

I don’t know if we are better off now than 100 years ago, but I am grateful that the chances of me dying from influenza are slim.  So maybe in some ways we are better off, but in other ways we are worse off?

Danny

Working Through Cycles of Personal Growth

Like An Anchor

We often think of growth as happening one direction. Growing things expand and get older, they don’t shrink or get younger. If something is not moving forward, then it’s not growing.

But maybe that’s not always the case, especially when we’re talking about personal growth journeys. Growth like this doesn’t happen all at once or in a steady direction. Sometimes, a thing that you thought you dealt with will come back and needs to be worked through again. You often have to keep going back over the same ground in order to make progress.

This isn’t failure to grow. But it might look like it depending on our perspective. If we’re the type of person who wants to get everything right the first time, then it can be discouraging when we find ourselves having to deal with something we thought we’d already worked through. We might even decided that since…

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It’s Not That I Hate People, I Just Prefer To Be Alone

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Danny

It’s Not That I Hate People, I Just Prefer To Be Alone

I am melancholy by nature.  Lately I have been a bit more melancholy than usual due to some heavy issues going on in my life.  I’ve taken a step back from blogging every day.  I’ve taken a step back from a lot of things.  I’ve spent more time in introspection than usual over the last few weeks.

Websters defines melancholy as “a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.”  I think many who know me might be surprised to hear me describe myself as such because typically I have always been the life of the party; I’ve always been “fun Danny”.  The interesting thing is I’ve always felt like I had to be “on” and I really don’t like that feeling.  I’ve always been outgoing, but I’ve always felt like an introvert.  It’s a strange dynamic and a stressful place to live.

As many of you know I live by a rigid set of rules.  For instance, I don’t read fiction, ever, I don’t listen to music with much vocals, I do not own a television, I wake up 3 hours prior to my work day beginning, etc.  My rules serve some important functions, but the problem with my rules is they create a tremendous amount of rigidity in relationships.  This happens because I put my expectations on others who think differently, act differently and see the world from a different perspective.  Others have a different definition of success and they have different goals.

Nonetheless my rules impact my view of people which makes me want to spend a lot of time alone.  Other than Evelina I prefer to be alone, inside and away from the world.  The perfect day for me is to sit at home with a good book or my tablet to watch Youtube videos about ancient Egypt or Bigfoot/cryptozoology.  It’s not that I hate people, but I just prefer to be alone.  People complicate things and get in my way of doing things exactly the way I want them done in the time frame I want them completed.

When you combine my view of people with my melancholy nature it creates the image that I’m negative.  Or at least that’s how I think some people take me or understand my actions.

Maybe I am negative.  Maybe not.  As long as people leave me alone I’ll be just fine.

Danny

I’m Not Sure What I Believe About God

Danny

I’m Not Sure What I Believe About God

When I was a young boy we went to church on a regular basis: every Wednesday night, every Sunday and every Sunday night.  I had a great youth group to be a part of and we were all pretty good friends.  God and Jesus weren’t really pushed down our throats, but the church was a Bible teaching church and believed that life, Earth were all created by God in 7 days, Adam and Eve were the first humans and if you didn’t confess Jesus then you would go to hell.  I think these beliefs are fairly typical of most Christian churches.

When I left for college many of these ideologies were challenged and I abandoned most of these beliefs.  At this point it has been proven that our planet and universe have been around for more than five thousand years, humans evolved from a primitive form of proto hominins who had limited faculties and it is highly unlikely that the world was created in 7 days.

I look at some of my early beliefs much in the same way humans once believed the Earth was flat.  Or that people who suffered from seizures were possessed by demons.  Or that witches in Salem existed resulting in thousands of innocent women being brutally murdered.

As I have interacted with people from around the globe and met people from all religions my eyes have been opened to the fact that the world is an enormous place with people who hold differing world-views.  My views have been influenced by many people and have become an amalgamation of my experiences.

As the title reflects, I’m not sure what I believe about “God”.  I do believe there is a higher power in this world, I just don’t know what it, he, she is exactly.  I’m fairly certain God isn’t a person.  It is easy for mankind to view a deity in our form as it is the only form we know.   Maybe God takes on a human form?  I don’t know.

I am always put off when someone pretends to know or believe as definitive fact something that humans cannot possibly know.  I have no idea if aliens helped build the pyramids, but I doubt it happened.  I don’t have any insight as to Nessie being a real creature living in a lake, but I have my doubts.  And I will never state as fact what happens when we die because I have no clue, nor does anyone else.  As it stands, we are all guessing.

And we guess about a lot of stuff, but I’m satisfied not knowing.  It actually feeds my curiosity and that makes life that much more interesting.  Not knowing sometimes is most of the fun.  It forces me to dig for information.  It challenges me to expand my mind.  Not knowing allows me to use my imagination.  Not knowing makes anything possible which is exciting and scary all at the same time.

So, what is “God”?  I have no idea and I’m okay with not knowing.

Danny