The Inner Game of Tennis

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Have you guys heard of this book? From the moment I’ve read the description, my intuition told me it’d be a good one. To sum it up, it’s a book about tennis. Specifically, the process going on inside your mind when you engage in the activity. But what’s really deep about it is that there’s a close parallel between that and almost everything else in life.

I’m 1/3rd of the way done with the book. It’s filled to the brim with wisdom and personal anecdotes that resemble things I’ve seen in my life but couldn’t put a finger on.

My purpose for reading it is to better understand interpersonal relationships, communication, and how we learn skills.

I’m not going to tell you that this is for sure going to help me because I have experience with reading things – perhaps never having fully retained them – and relapsing into older behavior patterns or forgetting the lessons entirely. And many times, lessons from books are significant but impractical to implement into day-to-day living. So when I read books like this, I expect to “live” with it for a few weeks or months. That’s a for sure way to tell if it’s making the impact that you need.

A lesson I’m learning

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A lesson I’m learning: it’s better to do something, make a mistake, and learn from it than to overthink something and not do anything at all.

Also, when we do make mistakes: learning not to get too caught up in thinking about it afterwards. It’s very easy for me to do – getting wrapped in in my thoughts – but I’m getting closer to having a better grip and understanding on it. We’re all trying our best, after all.

Internal progress

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Most of the advances we make in our personal development won’t be noticed by others for a long time. Many times, not at all. Most of our changes are subtle. They’re acute. When our character shows, it can be in very particular circumstances. Most of the time, it makes it’s appearance in the face of adversity.

Because when we’re challenged with an obstacle, we’re judged on our ability to acknowledge and respond.

I was in line at a fast food restaurant the other day and the lady taking my order was a little on the slower side and likely had a mental disability. I felt impatient, just like I would when I was younger. I felt very judgemental and I’m a little ashamed to share that. “Why did she take this job? Now I’m going to have to be extra clear in everything I say. Man, this is inconvenient.”

And then I thought about it: if I have to deal with this for a few minutes and I’m frustrated, imagine how it would be to be in her shoes and have to deal with this everyday? If she didn’t have to be like this, I guarantee you she wouldn’t. Oh man, she most likely has suffered a lot just on the miscommunications she’s having in life alone. It doesn’t seem life was fair to her so why am I judging her at all? Surely, I can exercise some semblance of compassion for a fellow human being? All my frustration went away and I noticed the small change in myself. If I could just exercise a little more patience and make her experience better, that’s a good thing in my opinion.

Nobody would notice this difference because they wouldn’t have known about the frustration I previously felt. Some people are even born knowing not to quickly judge others. But I noticed my change. And so the nature of our development isn’t always acknowledged by others and it’s OK because we don’t need the validation: we’ll internally know that we’re making progress for ourselves.

Musical Stamina

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Does anyone else have that? I do. I can listen to music for a good 2-3 hours everyday and feel pumped. After binge-listening to music like that everything still sounds pleasant but, in a way, it feels as if I’ve built up a bit of a tolerance. If I go a day or two without listening to music, it feels like I haven’t heard it in forever. It’s a great feeling. It makes listening to a particular track over and over again very easy.

We sure do have a lot of things about ourselves that we don’t discuss as often as we could. Things that are with us for years and no one talks about until someone does.

I think we should share ourselves more.

On news

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I don’t watch the news. At most, I’ll read headlines from time to time.

You go to the news for a constant stream of negativity just like you go to a water fountain for a constant stream of water. One thing I don’t understand is when people complain about all the bad things on the news. And they always use the phrase “these days.” It’s so generic! You could tune into the news anytime in the last 30+ years and have had your fill on negativity. Things down the street from you. Things half way across the world. Is there something I’m missing?

Most of us probably won’t be using most of that information, either. It’s just filling our head space with things that make us feel bad. And when we feel bad, it often impairs our attitude and how we function in our relationships.

I’m just all around not a big fan of the negativity.

Here’s a thought exercise: what are you going to do about it? Not in a sarcastic way. What actions are you intending to do with the information you’re receiving? The news puts you in a constant state of reacting to things. It happens to all of us. And to paraphrase Zig Ziglar, there’s a difference between reacting and responding. If you go to a hospital and the doctor says your body is reacting to the medication, it’s a bad thing. If the doctor says your body is responding to the medication, it’s very good. In my opinion, we need to respond more, react less. And to do that, we have to choose the things we’re responding to. It probably helps to not overload our brains in the process.

.gif

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I learned *years ago* that it was pronounced “jif” with a “j” sound, like jam. And right now I’m all screwed up. I don’t know whether or not I should pronounce it the way it was intended, or the way the majority of people will think it’s pronounced. Because if I say “jif,” it’s a statement. Someone is bound to not know the pronunciation and I’ll have the job of explaining it. Language conforms to the shape we want. If we call all tissues “Kleenex” then we’ll do exactly that, regardless of how technically wrong it is.

If I say “gif,” like “gift” without the “t,” there might be someone who tries to inform me that it’s actually “jif” and then I’m gonna feel the need to explain that no, I’m not out of the loop. Dale Carnegie would probably say make the other person feel smart for trying to teach you something even if you already know.

And so there is a skirmish between these two pronunciations.

Right now, I’m feeling partial to “jif” but could probably sway either way. I guess the question is, can I really be righteous against the popular pronunciation when it’s so understandable? It reminds me of the weird rules the English language has. Like “Ph” being pronounced like “fff”. Had I been at the meeting, “phone” would be “fone” right now. If the predictable way makes the most sense, why make it more complicated?

Algorithms and people who listen

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Your nose is almost always in your field of view. You tune it out because – of course – actually seeing it is irrelevant for most situations. And you filter almost everything you think is irrelevant even if it’s in front of you playing as an unskippable pre-roll ad on YouTube. Most products in the world will never reach you and for the ones that do, you’re gonna tune a lot of those out, too.

I personally have no need for baby formula or diapers. When I see either, they get tuned out. It’s irrelevant, I’m not likely to buy those products. Now, if I had a baby? Assuming I didn’t already decide on products that seem to work, I’d suddenly be much more receptive. And if a close friend I’m often interacting with has a baby? You see the possibilities. The goal of the advertiser is always finding people interested in buying the product. Now they’re getting much fancier tools to target those demographics.

Different messages for different people. There are lots of ads our friends are seeing that we aren’t. Isn’t that interesting? Companies are targeting your attention with the information they are collecting from you.

I think the time Target figured out that teenage girl was pregnant before her own father did was interesting. It was all based off her purchase history. They knew she was buying products a woman who is pregnant would buy and preemptively sent her coupons in the mail for baby products.

These companies have a message and, through algorithms, they are trying to find the people who will listen.

Bye bye pop

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I’m not a big fan of sweets and I’m not sure if I ever have been. I’ve always gone in the candy isle not being tempted in the least. My favorite cereals growing up (and today) have been arguably the most boring of them: rice krispies (without sugar,) raisin bran (without sugar,) and cheerios (without sugar.) I can’t relate to having a “sweet tooth” and remember a common tv trope being that kids are mindlessly attracted to sugar.

It’s not that I eat super healthy. I don’t. Like, I love chocolate. It’s just one of those things super easy for me to let go of. Like pop/soda. I made the choice to stop drinking pop on a whim months ago and haven’t touched it since – with a few rare exceptions. My thinking was simple: what small change in behavior would lead me to a slightly or much better path further down the line?

Bye bye pop. I don’t miss it much either. At the same time… if water or iced tea – and I love iced tea – is inaccessible, and pop is the only beverage available for miles, I won’t mind drinking a can of pop. Might not finish it though, just out of principle.

Imperfection

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I’m striving to be more open. I’m focusing a lot on how I can be a better person. I’m exceptionally hard on myself when I’m not everything that I imagine and it causes stagnation at times. What am I imagining? It’s just the subtle things. Like instead of posting this and what I’m currently thinking about, posting about something else entirely. Something less at home.

Wanting to appear perfect (or rather, what my vision of perfect looks like) is a problem. It’s not always present, but when it is, it makes me feel less than I really am. And funny enough, things are almost never as bad as our imaginations make us think. I might have to start a morning visualization practice. Honestly, if I could just have my body and brain run like a well oiled machine and have everything run smoothly 100% of the time; I would!

Some important truths: we’re good enough as we are. Most of us have what we need already, we simply need to walk in the direction we wish to go in. The perception other people have of us don’t matter as much as our own perception of ourselves. Attempting to be or appear perfect (in anything) is a harmful practice. Imperfection is more beautiful than perfection.

I think political labels are stupid

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The labels people put on each other in politics seem really stupid. You know the whole “liberal” and “conservative” thing? I’m not convinced it serves a good purpose. At this moment in time, to me, it looks like a bunch of adults name calling. In a way, it only serves to dehumanize the other person. A bunch of assumptions are made and we feel justified in throwing a bunch of insults their way as if we actually know them or their background. Nothing gets done! It only makes them more set in their ways.

And then they congregate around people who think and act just like them. I get it. But at the same time, I think that’s part of how we get large groups of people who actively deny the role science has on our planet.