Stop wasting your time living someone else’s idea of the ideal life.

Zero Dean

Author | Photographer | CG Artist | Filmmaker

Playing the game of life.

Playing the game of life.

Everyday we have an opportunity to make our lives fun or exciting simply by using our imagination or changing how we look at things.

Those who constantly rely on external sources to be entertained or amused are missing out on one of life’s greatest cost-free pleasures.

Not only does relying on external sources create and reinforce the illusion that you need someone or something outside of you to be happy, it distances us from one of the most powerful tools we have:

IMAGINATION.

As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Children who haven’t grown up relying on TV or video games to be amused use their imagination often. A box, a tube, or a stick become can create entire worlds and keep them occupied for hours.

Children instinctively use their imagination throughout their development. Often to their own delight and the delight of those around them. The fact is, most people enjoy watching others, even animals, in the act of play.

Nowadays, it appears more and more adults rely more on being entertained than finding ways to entertain themselves. Even seeking knowledge can be fun (and extremely beneficial), and yet many lose countless hours of their lives watching mindless television. It’s not that there isn’t a place for this, but to do this excessively is to miss out on other more rewarding, and certainly more creative, experiences of life.

One is never too old to play. Those who scoff at the idea fail to realize that play is often associated with one of the primary contributing factors of staying youthful.

As a wise person once said, “You don’t stop doing things because you get old. You get old because you stop doing things.”

Life can be a fun adventure any moment of any day simply by changing how you look at it.

To be a passive player in the game of life is to miss out on many of the amazing experiences life has to offer.

Life can be an adventure, any moment of any day, simply by changing how you look at it. You, above anyone else, is in control of how you see the world and how you live in it.

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With respect, tolerance, and an open mind…

As the media and politicians continue to polarize people, I think it’s important to remember that you don’t have to agree with anyone’s particular point of view or share their politics to get along.

People sometimes forget that some of the best relationships are those in which each person helps the other to broaden their perspective and grow as an individual.

To only interact with and surround yourself with people who agree with you and share your points of view tends to create a very narrow and distorted view of the world.

It has been said you become the average of the five people you interact with most. What kind of picture does that paint if you share exactly the same likes, dislikes, and view of the world?

To simply take offense at something without giving it any thought is to deny yourself an opportunity for growth. Even if that growth simply means reaffirming what you already believe.

To think you have to agree with everything about a person is to deny yourself of some of the best friendships the world has to offer.

To automatically dismiss someone because they are different than you does the same.

I think one of the best gifts anyone can give another person is something that results in the recipient saying, “I’d never thought about it like that before.”

An expanded point of view is a key to many locks you didn’t even know existed.

I certainly don’t expect everyone to always agree with me or see things from my point of view, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

And if we can’t be friends, that doesn’t mean we have to be enemies.

With respect, tolerance, and an open mind, anything is possible.

Your friend (the optimist),

Zero

You can’t measure love

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You can’t measure love. You can’t measure the impact you have on a person’s life. You can’t measure imagination or knowledge or creativity. You can’t measure an instinct or a gut feeling. You can’t measure synchronicity or serendipity. You can’t measure a memory.

You can’t measure some of the most important things that matter most in the world. And yet, this has no impact on the tremendous impact they have on our lives.

Not everything needs to be measured to be valued. And many of the best things can’t be.

How to reduce the size of your problems.

You may think, “If only I reach [this next phase of my life], then I won’t have to deal with these problems.” But the fact is, no matter where you are or how you live your life, you will always be challenged.

Just because you reach a certain level of success doesn’t mean all problems in your life disappear. They don’t. They simply evolve into whatever comes with that phase of your life and lifestyle.

How large or insurmountable the challenges in your life appear is in direct proportion to how well you learned to handle those that you previously encountered.

For example, dropping your ice-cream cone or spilling your milk seems like a serious problem as a child. Not so much to an adult. That’s because you’ve developed the skills necessary to handle such things without falling to pieces.

This can be said for all problems, not just childhood woes. It is through the problems that you overcome in life, that you develop the strength & skills necessary to handle whatever comes next. Contrast in your life is a good thing.

The trick to reducing how much challenges set you back in life is not in magically making them disappear. The trick is to develop the skills & discipline necessary to positively & productively handle whatever challenges come your way.

Complaining about problems — or actively resisting challenges — doesn’t diminish them. It is only through the action of facing them productively that does.

The faster you make that transition and adopt an “I can and will handle this” attitude the smaller your problems appear.

Don’t let what you can’t do stand in the way of what you can do.

Related:

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Be your own champion when no one else will.

You won’t always get the support you want. Your ideas will often be rejected or criticized before they are accepted. Your goals may seem unreasonable or impractical to others.

If this is ever the case, remember this: Sometimes you just have to suck it up and be your own champion when no one else will.

Do this — instead of quitting — and you will accomplish great things. Not because others believe in you, but because you believe in yourself.

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Why “follow your passion” is NOT bad career advice.

I recently read an article on the Huffington Post called, “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Career Advice“.

And while I do agree that “Follow your passion” may be considered “bad career advice” if one chooses to follow it without any bit of common sense — or to follow it without any regard to all the other factors necessary to make a career “successful” — being successful in one’s life can mean any number of different things to different people.

Some people consider their careers successful when they make X amount of money per year. Others measure their success by how many people they are in charge of, or how broad a territory they cover, or how many stores they own. Others aim to leave a legacy behind.

And then there are others still, who consider themselves successful if they are simply able to pursue what they are most passionate about in life while making just enough money to meet their basic needs to afford them the luxury of doing more of what they love.

And as Confucius said, Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Alan Watts poses the question (in this video), “What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?” because to do anything other than that sets you up to, “Spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”

I think he makes a very good point. The alternative to not pursuing your passion is to spend a life following a vicious cycle of doing things you don’t want to do to make a living doing things you don’t want to do.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” — Seth Godin

In his commencement speech at Kenyon College in May 1990, Calvin & Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson, had this to say about careers:

“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.” – Bill Watterson

As such, I don’t think “Follow your passion” is bad career advice at all. And if one is simply looking for a problem with it, as the Huffington Post appears to be, then I would say that problem — if you can call it that — is simply this:

It isn’t complete career advice. It’s only a single step in a larger process.

Step 1, of course, is to discover what it is you are passionate about.

This isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds. There may be many things you like to do, but nothing that you are particularly passionate about. There is a big difference between simply enjoying something and being so into it at times that doing anything else feels like a distraction. Eating, sleeping, bathing? They can wait!

While a rare few know exactly what they want to do from a very early age, most don’t discover the things we are truly passionate about until they stumble upon them. And then, whatever it may be, the process of doing it becomes enthralling.

“Many people fail to find their passion because they either fail to search methodically or search persistently. Some will simply not commit the time and energy to a search that can often be frustrating. In fact, they want their “destiny” to find them; they do not want to find it themselves. You cannot find your passion idly staring into space, hoping for it to appear as a revelation, from one book, article, blog posting or casual conversation.” — Larry Smith

Discovering what you are truly passionate about is important is because people who truly love what they do tend to want to do it to the best of their ability and continually find ways to improve — all the while enjoying the process.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

See also: How will you recognize your passion when you encounter it?

Step 2, after discovering your passion is to pursue that passion and hone your skills. All the while keeping the third step of this process in mind:

Step 3, is to use your passion and skills to create something that others desire and will pay for.

Because unless your passion fulfills a need, you can work night and day and never do enough to generates a sustainable income, let alone a viable career.

A sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for.” – Monique Valcour

This is why it can be to your benefit to not quit your day job (as I did, for example) while you are still in the process of discovering how your passion will generate income.

See also: You might have to look for more than one passion

“Doing what you love is as important as ever, but if you’re going to make a living at it, it helps to find a niche where money flows as a regular consequence of the success of your idea. Loving what you do is almost as important as doing what you love, especially if you need to make a living at it. Go find a job you can commit to, a career or a business you can fall in love with.” — Seth Godin

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neil Gaiman Describe Vision & Brilliance

“If everyone had the luxury to pursue a life of exactly what they love, we would all be ranked as visionary and brilliant. … If you got to spend every day of your life doing what you love, you can’t help but be the best in the world at that. And you get to smile every day for doing so. And you’ll be working at it almost to the exclusion of personal hygiene, and your friends are knocking on your door, saying, “Don’t you need a vacation?!,” and you don’t even know what the word “vacation” means because what you’re doing is what you want to do and a vacation from that is anything but a vacation — that’s the state of mind of somebody who’s doing what others might call visionary and brilliant.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Related:

“You have to be burning with “an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” — Steve Jobs

Article: Why "Follow your passion" is not bad career advice. (click through to read)

You may never know who your actions, words, or creations inspire…

Once upon a time, I used to post things and judge their value by likes and shares. And if something didn’t get many of either, I’d think, “Oh well.”

Then one day I posted something that barely made a blip. But instead of likes or shares, I received an email that said:

“Thank you. I really needed that today.”

And so it has happened in a similar fashion — via email or comments — a number of times since then.

And that’s how I discovered the real value in connecting with people. And it has much less to do with likes and shares than it does with creating meaningful moments in others’ lives, even if only one at a time.

With that in mind, let me offer two thoughts for your consideration:

1. You may never know who your actions, words, or creations inspire, but those who appreciate these things you offer to the world are out there, even if they are not always visible to you.

For every person who takes the time to acknowledge the value in what you have to offer, there will always be others who won’t. The lack of acknowledgement does not make what you offer any less valuable — especially if you already believe in and see the value in it (and it is important that you do).

2. Never hesitate to express thanks — or send a kind word — to those who touch you in a meaningful way — be it through their actions, words, or works of art.

Because you also never know how your own gratitude becomes the fuel that touches and inspires those who touch and inspire you.

If you’re reading this, you have my thanks. It is a pleasure to connect with you, whether we do it often — or make a show of it — or not.

THANK YOU.

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