I couldn't believe that it was already time for dinner. Despite the fact that it was almost one hundred degrees in my RV, the kind of heat that ensures that my shirt is permanently damp, the time had flown by. Four hours had passed since I last consciously checked the time.Still, as hungry as I was, I didn't want to shut the lid on my computer. I sat back and looked at my work. I'd been so entranced by the details of it that I hadn't yet taken a second to see how everything had come together.
I felt amazing. But more than just feeling good, I felt that deep sense of warm satisfaction that few things besides achievement can create. I had spent the past hours fully engaged in the moment, challenging myself and creating something. I could sleep with the knowledge that the day had been used well. I knew that the next morning I'd wake up, remember how much progress I had mode, and could use that momentum to forge ahead.
A few weeks ago I saw Star Trek in the movie theater. I'm not a huge Star Trek fan, and in fact have never actually seen an episode, but I liked the movie. I wasn't bored once, which is a rare movie-going experience for me. I had fun.
The problem, though, is that the fun is fleeting. As soon as I step out of the theater, I may as well have never seen the movie. Remove the excitement and stimulation of the movie, and all of a sudden there's a void to be filled.
"What should we do?"
The answers that come to mind tend to be quick fixes, just as the movie was. Easy come, easy go.
That's just an afternoon, but a lot of people live their lives in a constant state of chasing quick "highs" of fun. Junk Food -> Movie -> Alcohol -> Drugs -> Sex -> Shopping -> Video Games -> TV -> Trash Internet Sites -> Porn..
I'm not saying that all of these things are terrible (some can be great, most can be worthwhile occasionally), but I am saying that if you fill your life primarily with things from this category, you probably won't ever be a happy person. You'll have fun and you'll have happy times, but you won't BE happy.
What's more fun? Manual labor or watching TV? TV. Who's happier at the end of the day: a guy who spent twelve hours restoring his Mustang or a guy who sat on the couch and watched TV all day?
I have a theory that the amount of satisfaction you'll derive from an activity is directly proportional to how engaged in it you are. One year I got back to my dorm on the Sunday after Christmas break. For no real good reason I broke into the mailroom. I used to (and still might) have an obsession with being places I shouldn't be. Not to steal or vandalize, but just to see if I can get in and to see behind the scenes.
Inside the mailroom were boxes and boxes of mail that had accumulated over the holidays. My friend and I, for no reason at all, sorted the mail ourselves. It took over four hours, but the time flew. We tried to memorize people's mailbox numbers, played games to see how fast we could sort the mail, and laughed thinking about what the mail person's reaction might be. It was a boring job, for sure, but we had a great time doing it.
So what does this all mean? Don't spend your time in activities that are structured to avoid boredom.
If your goal is to avoid boredom, you'll achieve it, but that's all you'll get. It's better to spend your time in activities that engage you. If you're in an activity that doesn't engage you, drop it or figure out a way to make it engaging.
A good example? There was a Wendy's on campus with an Indian cashier who took his job seriously. Very seriously. He took pride in being the fastest cashier anyone had ever seen, fully focusing on you as you ordered, slamming the order keys the split second you uttered enough syllables to narrow down exactly what you wanted. He was happy. He was engaged.
P.S. The picture at the top is a Panamanian cowboy we made friends with. If anyone was ever engaged in horse training / riding, it's him.
P.P.S. The title was mainly chosen to freak Annie out. Haha!
A really good post Tynan, thanks.
"I have a theory that the amount of satisfaction you'll derive from an activity is directly proportional to how engaged in it you are."
They call it "Flow", and it's repeatedly been shown that it's highly correlated with life/job satisfaction, along with service.
i had the same sort of experience with one of those scaffolding type things for washing windows. we washed all the windows on the building. quality times. and i definitely agree with wanting to be places you cant/shouldnt.
Very engaging post, Tynan.
I love it.
I love the title by the way, I was shocked thinking that you are actually 'getting engaged'.
The contents of your article speak the truth and yes, it is this kind of approach in writing that makes you beyond engaging in your story telling.
Keep up this awesome writing mojo! :D
Really loving the daily posting! Keep it up!!
Interesting point about the value of time spent in hedonistic pursuits versus invested in creative endeavors. Of course, people need both in their lives. Any thoughts on striking a balance between the two?
What were you creating during those 4 hours? You never said...
The times I feel most engaged are on big programming projects, which is really geeky but true. Actually, it varies...sometimes I'm in a perfect state where tons of progress is being made and everything is working perfectly, and sometimes I can't get the simplest thing to work right. But that's life. Once I'm in that state though it's very worthwhile not to break it...eliminating interruptions really helps with this.
Tynan, I found your site a few months back, I can't remember how, but at the time it was the BTYB site. I wasn't sure what you were about, wasn't quite sure about the pick up artist thing, and wasn't really interested in it. But I've been following for a while and really enjoy your articles these days. They are always thought provoking and engaging, and it's great to read about your lifestyle choices (RV, vegan, traveling, etc) as I think they help a lot of people sort out why and what they are actually doing with their life. Anyway, figured I'd drop a comment and say keep it up! Always a good read.
There was me thinking you was actually engaged and the picture represented what life what be like for you now. You was the horse!
great post man, i have similar views on this aswell. if my room is dirty i get more satisfaction in cleaning it rather then ignoring it and watching TV or surfing the web. at the end fo the day we all have to do what we know is the right thing to do. if a man has no hopes and aspirations and doesnt want to try anything new, then i say fairplay as long as he is happy. but of course humans always have hopes and aspirations so theirs no excuse to sit on your ass eating chips and watching TV all day! each day do something to get closer to your goals.
First, a quick recap of my exposure to Tucker Max. At some point I visited his site, and read all of his stories in one sitting. He writes about his escapades, usually drunken sexual rampages, in such a way that someone who has never had a drink is still engaged. I'd check his blog once in a while when I was bored, but it wasn't until he started writing about the experience of creating a movie that I started reading every post habitually. He did a great job of explaining in layman's terms how a movie is made. Just as I enjoyed his drunken stories as a non-drinker, I enjoyed his posts about film making as a non-film-maker.
Tucker was gracious enough to let me stop by the set while filming, and also to give me tickets to the premiere in SF.
I went to the premiere with no idea what to expect. On one hand I'd read the movie blog, which shared audience reactions and screen testing results. They were overwhelmingly positive. I knew that Tucker was focused solely on making the best movie possible, and was determined enough to push for his vision.
Well then, it's been a couple of weeks since I submitted a proper post here on WPR. I've been engaged in a good bit of travelling and performing as well as various odds and ends of late, but I have now returned to my regular blogging schedule.
In this absence, I've accumulated a good bit of stuff to blog about. I wanted to take some time today to catch everyone up on what I've been doing behind the scenes . . . .
On Mother's Day, I spent the afternoon with my Mom. I cooked a decadent meal comprised of fresh tilapia with rice and fish sauce, and I BAKED A CAKE!!! Well, a pound cake to be specific, but a cake nonetheless.
Not having an original recipe to work from, I used a store-bought mix and my Mom's brand new oven for the first time. (I'm on the hunt for a great pound cake recipe if anyone happens to know where one can be found.)
Here was the final result!!