Happy New Year here from Puerto Rico! It’s been a bit rainy, but I’m still in shorts and able to get to the beach once a week. I often lose perspective of the good qualities of wherever I’m living, but it’s easy to be appreciative being able to lay on the beach in January.
Christmas was enjoyable in Michigan. Even though I grew up in Michigan, and went to college there, I’m starting to get close to having more of my life spent outside of the state than in. Things have changed and modernized a lot, and I’ve hardly been to any of the posh suburbs as I spent my early years broke. Instead of just staying in our small town and going to the movie theater, my family and I actually did a coffee tour in Royal Oak and Birmingham, two of the nicest cities in the state only 30 minutes away from my hometown.
I went completely overboard and split 5 almond milk lattes with my sister in the same day so we could do a proper comparison. I am better (or is it worse of me?) about only doing a few sips and dumping it if it’s not good on the big tour days. The top two places, Atomic Coffee and The Office, were on par with the best coffee I’ve had anywhere. Atomic Coffee also had an amazing interior. I realized one of my favorite parts of hipster coffee scene is the interior design. There’s a certain point at the top where the best roasts are equally good for me (although this bar is very high), but once this is satisfied I love reading or talking in a beautiful environment.
The CrossFit gym I went to on Christmas Eve was also very impressive. 6,000 square feet, excellent coaching, and probably a third of the people were sporting six packs. In my mind no matter how out of shape I temporarily get I’m ahead of the people I grew up with, but I was inspired to see so many people staying ripped during a Michigan winter. You’re bundled up for half of the year, and I assumed everyone was mostly drunk during that period, but apparently that’s not the case.
My lifestyle that I enjoy is very transportable now. Michigan has always been my point of contrast for “no matter how expensive/nerdy/hot/etc. It is here, at least I don’t live in Michigan”. I was so happy to see that they have everything I like now, except for of course warm weather. I do like to get outdoors regularly, and I don’t know how I would get around that one there.
Another huge change this trip was I made a slightly conscious, slightly automatic (are my meditation sessions doing something?) habit of not being critical. Not of my relatives, of Michigan, etc. I have a tendency to want to hear the gossip, especially when it involves my extended family, and participate in it. I also realized I have a high tolerance for dark humor, and can joke around to the point that it can depress my family a bit. Instead of joking around about family that is struggling with various problems, I tried to be empathetic. I also didn’t tease my Mom, or try to influence any of my other family to do whatever it is they know they should be doing, but aren’t. I just tried to be present, positive, and understanding. This made the experience so much more enjoyable for me, and I assume them as well. Even if we can handle making fun of each other, and prodding one another to reach our goals, we have such little time together each year that I found it more enjoyable just to be happy and accepting.
After reading “Designing Your Life” I came to an initial approach to how I want my current life to be. It’s very similar to how I was doing things before, but more intentional. I also was able to let go of a lot of fear about things I’m “missing out on”, as well as justify things I was doing sporadically (writing, studying computer science) that didn’t make sense with a mythical one thing I’m focused on. Everything is very integrated now, even though some things have longer term payoffs, or are just for mental happiness and clarity.
I thought all of my self improvement work was good for the foreseeable future, but was coming across multiple people gushing about a book that I had randomly bought a few months ago called “Atomic Habits”. Since I already owned it, I decided to read a chapter or two, and have been really happy that I did. I actually read a tiny bit of the book at the time that I bought “Designing Your Life”, but it seemed inferior to me. The reason now is that it makes sense as a sequel to that book, only read in that order. “Designing Your Life” is the WHY/WHAT question, and “Atomic Habits” is the answer to HOW.
It’s been a little annoying with the holidays, New Years day being on a Tuesday, and me subsequently getting a bit sick as I couldn’t handle going from Michigan weather to Puerto Rico plus having 5 drinks and staying up late, but I’m very excited to give all of these ideas a try. Part of the reason I’m even blogging mid-week is I’m trying to “habit stack” meditation with writing.
My hope for 2019 is that I can improve incrementally in my relationships, health, finances, quantitative finance skills, meditation, and writing abilities. That and have fun in the process of course. It would also be nice if I could speak more Spanish. Even though every Uber driver thinks I’m a tourist, I’m closing in on a year here in Puerto Rico. I have the time, and the infrastructure is getting setup, so now it’s just a matter of me training myself like a German Shepard to jump on whatever task is next.
Wishing you all a great start to 2019!