Gratitude

Having gratitude is one of the strongest correlations with happiness.  There is always something more to chase after, but being appreciative for what you have leads to less stress, stronger feelings of contentment and improved wellness.

Today I am thankful that I have my health. I am thankful that, despite everything, I have a career that is rewarding, I’m passionate about, and that most days I enjoy.  Lastly, and most importantly I am thankful for strong relationships and a family that shares in bonds of love.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The “Perfect” Partner

Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance is a pretty good and entertaining read on what it’s like to date in the digital age.  One of the ideas that rung particularly true to me was that online dating, especially in a major city, drives a search for a perfect partner.  There are just so many options that there always seems to be someone better out there than the person you are currently talking to.  Consequently no one takes each other seriously and everyone keeps rushing on to the next person as soon as the first thing emerges about their partner they don’t like.  It also gets to the point where “normal” people just can’t compete.  For instance, out of a 2000+ “matches” I’m going to focus my attention on the top few hundred that grab my eye, typically based on photo attractiveness. There just isn’t time to even consider “average” people who might actually be a really good match for me.

So who do I end up chasing after?  Based on how I’ve recently found myself rapidly scanning through online-dating profiles, I’ve slowly realized I’ve subconsciously created this fictional woman that has my favorite aspects of all the women I’ve ever dated – the “perfect” woman.  And of course perfect does not exist.  Below is how I’ve found myself approach online dating recently:

Autoscreen out: no one with kids, no one taller than me (prefer at least three inches shorter, need to allow for heels), no one overweight, no one much older than me.

Pictures:

First thing- face.  Am I attracted to her face?  Typically involves a lot of makeup.

Breasts- what can I say, I like breasts.  Prefer D-cups, C’s are alright though.  Don’t really care if they’re fake or not.

Fit- prefer muscular and toned over skinny, otherwise good proportions (curves in the right places).

[So a fit girl, likely with a boob job who wears a lot of makeup is basically what I find myself going after first, and there are lots of women who meet that description where I live.  If I see a woman like that, then I’ll probably message her barring no other red flags.  But everything below is also what I’m searching a profile for to identify a “perfect” match for relationship material]

Dress – some pictures of her in clothing in the “flirty-naughty-slutty” spectrum.  I love having a woman who wears attention-getting stuff like short miniskirts and showing some cleavage.  I also like to stand out.  Having at least one classy picture is also good.

Tattoos- yes please.  Particularly thigh tattoos, and piercings too, why not.

Then to move on to the written profile:

Is her profile at least somewhat articulate?

Does she have a legitimate job/career path (can she be self-sufficient?), and does she have her own passions and goals?  Independent goals are compelling.  Also I need my me time, and so my partner is going to have to have a life of her own.

Are there indicators of intelligence?  (what does she read, her education, her hobbies).

Is she hardworking/disciplined?  (fitness, job, hobbies, education?)

Does she have a healthy lifestyle?

Does she like anything metal/goth/punk/alternative/geeky?  Generally things I like so some shared interest is good.

Does she come from a rich background and is spoiled? – that’s bad.  I usually avoid anyone who says one of their hobbies is “dressage”.

Is she going to try to evangelize me to some religion?  Obviously won’t work out.  I don’t care what religion she is, as long as she leaves me out of it.

Does she not drink?  I actually had a girl I dated deliberately not drink around me when she found out about my issues, and I really appreciated it.  I hate to ask for it though, it’s admitting to a weakness.  But if I can find someone who doesn’t drink, bonus.

Lastly anything to think she isn’t trustworthy?  Of course I try to avoid fakes and liars, but usually can’t tell this from a profile though.

So that’s pretty much it.  Oh, and she has to like me, who is on the shorter side, doesn’t drink, and has a career that moves me around the country, not to mention all sorts of other idiosyncrasies and weird tastes.  So yeah, I’m searching for this “perfect” woman, with a bias towards superficial traits and I’m obviously not perfect myself.  That’s why we’re single.

-dmitri

Fear in Politics

The events of the last US election have been on my mind a lot.  Obviously it was very contentious, and it seemed to me to bring out the worst in a lot of people on both sides.

So I get it, blaming people, scapegoating, inciting fear and anger are powerful tools.  Both sides indulged in it, the media clamored to cover it, and we ate it up, often times neglecting discussion on issues of importance.  Our country feels more divided.  People and groups are fearful now who had no cause to be fearful before.  This was one of the most divisive elections in recent memory, but given the success of the tactics, can we expect more of this?  Will this snowball?

These tactics aren’t new, what made this happen so aggressively this time?  Can something be done to prevent it and focus decisions of leadership on a logical discussion of issues?

I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  I have risked my life for that oath and I do love my country.  The tone of this election has made me less excited about continued service, but we don’t run from problems, that’s not what we do in the United States.  If we believe something is dangerous or out of line, then we need to do something about it.

 

-Dmitri

 

 

Passion #5

This is a continuation of one of my experiences with passion.  For earlier parts see here:

https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/passion-1/  https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/passion-2/ https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/passion-3/  https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/passion-4/

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Despite all my attempts, completely putting myself out there I was shot down.  Still, I couldn’t shake this girl out of my heart.  I continued with online dating but nothing significant developed, it seemed no one could make me forget her.  Occasionally I would text her something, sometimes I’d get a curt reply, usually nothing.  I’d check her facebook or her Instagram.  It seemed she would occasionally go into short-lived relationships but nothing was sticking for her either.  Of course I was torturing myself.

Then one day out of the blue she texted me.  We had a quick text conversation, I played it cool for a bit, then asked her out.  She said yes, although before going, she let me know she was leaving for an internship over the summer.   I was fine with that.

We ended up having a really nice dinner, and good conversation.  We shared quite a bit about our pasts, she told me about some of her struggles, which were significant, and I shared my story about alcoholism.  It was good.

I tried asking her out again, but she turned me down, said she didn’t have time before she left.  My heart was somewhat numb by this point and we slowly dropped out of contact.  I tried to move on, but she was on my mind.

I ended up having a relationship over the summer, and I tried sincerely.  But occasionally my mind wandered back to this girl.  Well, obviously that didn’t sit well, and the relationship became just a summer fling.

On and off online dating, yet she still comes to mind.  After the summer was over, I texted her.  We reconnected, met for a hookah date, and now we’re talking again… although she is getting ready to move out of state.

Nothing is ever easy, but I don’t know if I would have it any other way.

~dmitri

Distractions

I’m a big believer in cutting distractions out of your life.  My brain has only so many cells to spend thinking, and I want to maximize the positive impact I can make.  The more it is filled with needless things to worry about, the less resources it can spend on actual useful tasks.  Stephen Covey’s classic book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People touched on this.  He said minimize your span of concern and focus on your span of control.  In doing this, you will find that your span of control will grow because you will have more brain power freed up to do things that are meaningful.

So what are distractions that you can afford to cut out?  Most media is a candidate to cut, including even “news.”  Much of it isn’t particularly relevant to your life.  Some art and culture is enriching, and some news sources may be worthwhile to check occasionally, but for the most part media doesn’t add much value compared to the time it sucks up.  Just think about the time you spend watching TV, playing videogames, social network updates, or surfing the web.  Now think about what else you could do with that time that would be more useful, more enriching, or more fulfilling.  You could take classes in something you enjoy, work on a project you find rewarding, perform volunteer service, pursue a skill that will advance your career, or deepen a close relationship.  Those are worthwhile things.  Binge-watching a season of whatever is the latest netflix craze is not.

What are other things that suck up time?  Here some I can think of:

-Superficial friends/status events (you know the relationships you can count on, focus on those)

-Unnecessarily long commutes because you need to live in a status location or “need your space.”

-Heavy alcohol use.  Drinking buddies doesn’t necessarily equate to a meaningful relationship.

-Dining out frequently.  With travel it actually sucks up more time than cooking for yourself.

Obviously you can’t cut everything out, but there is value in occasionally taking a critical eye towards how you spend your day and seeing what you can change.

-dmitri