On Living Wisely: What are your Core Values?

“From there I’d see all I wanted to see instead of all this misery.” - Ben Westbeech, Welcome

What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? - Richard J. Light, How to Live Wisely (New York Times)

The Core Values Exercise. Pick five words that best describe your core values. How might you deal with a situation where your core values come into conflict with one another?

This is interesting. The Times article doesn’t provide the full list of values from the class and there are a ton of crazy lists that go from twelve terms to over a hundred. In searching, though, I came across this post by Scott Jeffrey who suggests coming up with your own list so, away we go.

After going through a bit of his process, I’ve come to this:

  • I want to be a good citizen of the world. Most essential to this are compassion and kindness.
  • I want to be a loving person. I show this through commitment and thoughtfulness and expect it in return.
  • I want to be thought of as, and surrounded by, smart. I most respect the clever and the creative.
  • I do not like feeling stagnant. Progress and change are my friends. Let’s keep it moving and let’s do it in style.

Most often, my need for progress runs into conflict with thoughtfulness and compassion. Not everyone moves at the same speed as I do, and my natural sensibility is to go quickly towards changing what I see as a bad situation. That’s not always the most compassionate thing.

Others may need to sit with something awhile. The situation might not be changeable. Change doesn’t always mean better. It’s not always my responsibility to Fix-It Felix.

My heart knows this. My head doesn’t get the memo every time.

And it’s actual conflict for me. Maybe my heart doesn’t know it. My chest swells with emotion for things I cannot change but for which my head has come up with solutions. I want things to be right. Or different. Or just in motion.

Keep on movin’. Don’t stop. Like the hands of time.

I know stuck exists, but I don’t believe in it.

I hope that more often than not I let my heart lead with compassion and thoughtfulness—weird that I don’t place thought in my head, right?—and that my personal needs don’t get in the way of being a better citizen, friend, partner, fam.

My regrets in life have come from the times I wasn’t kind, thoughtful, and selfless. I imagine that will still be true whenever I’m taking my last breaths. When I’m there, I hope you will just sit with me in that space for a moment instead of worrying about what we can change to make it better.

I’d value that. 

On Living Wisely: Broad City

“Where are you going with your life? What kind of chances will you take?” - Alice Smith, Cabaret

What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? - Richard J. Light, How to Live Wisely (New York Times)

The Broad vs. Deep Exercise. If you could become extraordinarily good at one thing versus being pretty good at many things, which approach would you choose?

Mastery has never been my thing. I like to find the connections between ideas, disciplines, and activities and follow the thread where ever it may lead picking up the skills necessary to get there along the way.

In role-playing games, I usually select thief or rogue. Quick-witted, agile, clever but not particularly adept at any one thing.

As a child, my father attempted to make me a musician like him. I picked up the piano, the drums, the cello. I didn’t stick with any of them.

In college, I went from political communications to psychology before finally settling on sociology and I think that stuck because it felt like an amalgam of studies I liked. And I still minored in creative writing.

Is my life organized to support my broad interests? Mostly. I live in Los Angeles—a city that has everything if you know where to look. I work on Internet stuffs which allows me to be good at and do a wide variety of things.

But I don’t always take advantage of this. I don’t follow the thread off the computer screen and in to the physical world often enough.

As I age, I need to remind myself to exercise my curiosity like a muscle. Too frequently these days, I let a question go unanswered or trust my assumptions as if I know anything.

You’re a master of nothing, champ. You don’t know shit.

Just enough to get into trouble.

An aside: SnapChat is hard. All 6 of you that consume my snaps know that I’m not producing as much as I suggested I might. I’m working on it. I’m finding it hard to get over myself and just talk to the camera like a video diary or create scenes or not care and post just anything.

I’d love to be just good enough at it to be dangerous.  

On Living Wisely: Finding Meaning in the In-Between Time


“Offer me something inside. A place to go. A place to hide.” - Jessie Ware, Something Inside

What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? - Richard J. Light, How to Live Wisely (New York Times)

Yesterday, I tried to reconcile how I want to be spending my time with how I spend my time. I was unsure, so I spent time SnapChatting my day to see what was going on. I don’t think I did enough talking about what actually happened so tomorrow I’m going to do more explaining. More storytelling.

Today’s exercise, though, asks about how I spend my spare time.

Well, right now, I’m writing. It’s 8:51 P.M. and I’ve watched the premiere of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Good job, kid!) and what I’d rather be doing than anything else is typing words into the white screen that Ulysses provides. I don’t do this enough. 

I wrote on the first night of XOXO:

I’m most human when I’m writing.

That’s true. I also feel most human when I’m reading other people’s words. I do that often. When I take a break from work and grab an iced skinny hazelnut latte at the nearby Starbucks or take lunch by myself, I’m usually spending my time with the writing of others.

I talk a lot and watch a lot of basketball. When I was a kid, Hell, up until my late twenties, I played a lot of basketball. These days, I’m particularly passionate about women’s pro ball. We are season ticket holders for the Los Angeles Sparks. I’ve seen more women’s basketball live than I’ve seen any other sport, by far.

I love television and consume it in large quantities.

So how do I spend my spare time? Writing. Reading. TV. Ball is life.

Now, the way the question is presented in the Times article, the question is meant to help a person focus their college studies. I extrapolate that to presume this is supposed to be a good way to make decisions professionally, but I’m not so sure. What I know is that when I’ve had to write as the primary work product of a job, it’s dimmed my love for writing.

Having worked in/around television for the bulk of my professional career, my love for it only grows when immersed in the process. I like how those donuts get made. I imagine, at some point, I will get back to that.

I do a lot of reading as part of my gig now. Reading. Editing. Massaging copy. I should do more of it. It’s painful but making someone else’s words better whether through soft nudges or complicated surgery is satisfying.

If a professional basketball team came calling for my services in some way, I’d have to consider it but I worry it would tarnish my love of the game. I’m a fan first. Could I still be with a paycheck on the line?

What I didn't mention to this point is that I also enjoy doing things in service of the greater good. I didn’t include it because I don’t do enough of it.

I’m making time for writing and reading and basketball and my eyes glued to the endless hours of great tv, but I haven’t been creating space for making the world a better place.


There it is.

A moment of clarity.  

On Living Wisely: How Do You Spend Your Time?

You told me to take the chance and learn the ways of love.” - DeBarge, All This Love

What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? - Richard J. Light, How to Live Wisely (New York Times)

I’ve come back to this article a few times since dropping it in my Pocket in early August and while these questions are rarely far from top of mind for me, they’ve taken on greater urgency since leaving Portland after XOXO. There, the question is, perhaps, more specific-What does it mean to make good things?—but as Amit Gupta’s talk conveyed, these questions may, ultimately, be one in the same.

The first exercise referenced in Richard J. Light’s essay is:

Make a list of how you want to spend your time. What matters to you? Then make a list of how you actually spent your time, on average, each day over the past week and match the two lists.

Stream of Consciousness Answer:

I want to make good shit every day. I want to spend time coming up with creative ideas and then executing on them. I want to talk about what’s good and why. I want to spend time figuring out why certain things get seen, read, watched and others don’t. I want to work on big ideas. I want to delight and surprise. I want to be clever. I want to waste less time. I want to read more for pleasure. I want to Tumblr. I want to help more people more often. I want to workout. I want to spend time with those I love.

How do I normally spend my time?

  • I dilly-dally on the internet in the mornings.
  • I spend two hours of the day commuting usually listening to podcasts and dilly-dallying on the internet.
  • I spend a lot of time looking at why things are or aren’t working.
  • I spend a lot of time in or preparing for meetings answering other people’s questions
  • I watch a lot of TV.
  • I workout.
  • I twitter.
  • I…

I don’t know. Well, what I do know is I don’t spend enough time being creative and making stuff. I don’t spend enough time talking about what’s good or working on big ideas. I don’t give enough of my time to others in need. At least that’s how it feels.

I want a more accurate view of this, though. This week I’m going to SnapChat my days and document what the hell I’m actually doing.

You can follow me there if you don’t already. And bug me if my story seems a little thin. I haven’t done much SnapChat making so I tend to forget and/or get shy.

Does your every day look like how you envision? 

XOXO Fest 2015: Quotes and Queries

"Was it worth your fam or worth all a the fame? Exchange your personal relationships for personal gains.”—Wale, The Glass Egg

"My desire to do it the way it is being done is." - Heather Armstrong (Dooce)

What do you give up of yourself to make money (on the internet but, really, in any gig)?

Is it worth the trade?

“[W]hat we want to do is make a place where things that we couldn’t have imagined can grow.” - Alex Blumberg (Gimlet Media)
“It’s about culture clash on equal terms. Your adventure being someone else’s disaster.” - Spike Trotman (Iron Circus)
“We are not taking anything from you, because it was never yours to begin with.” - Spike Trotman (Iron Circus)
“Let’s all just take a minute and acknowledge that to a certain extent we are all just posturing when we come together in public to discuss our achievements.So don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re currently being too hard on yourself. And don’t pat yourself on the back either, if you’re super concerned with stacking up accolades. Death is coming for all of us.” - Mallory Ortberg (The Toast)
“We know a couple stories of mostly dudes who are promoted as being these brilliant founders and treated as if they worked alone. And that ain’t how the internet was made. What is best on the internet is what drives us to love technology, to be creative in these ways has very little to do with what makes start-ups really wealthy.” - Anil Dash (Your Internet Dad)
“Don’t be a snowflake in someone’s avalanche.” - Zoë Quinn (Quinnspiracy)
“Design is a value statement. What we build and how we build it says a great deal about what we value and who we are. What we make easy speaks to what we value and what we make difficult speaks to what we reject.” - Eric Meyer (Meyerweb)

Am I conscious of injecting my values of my work? Does my work reflect who I think I am?

“What would you regret? What are three things you’d regret?” - Amit Gupta (@superamit)

You used to be like Pusha T but you’re 40 now and have regrets. What are you going to do about that?

Find my answers and change my life.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.