Better loosen up your schedule if you plan on reading this whole blog...
So I haven't written in this for a while because I've had more work than ever before. Grad school is hard, I'm not doing as well as I thought I would be and I'm having to work harder, which will pay off, but I'm still stressed out. I was home in Plymouth for the past 10 days which was really nice, and though I was getting bored at the end, I'm back here and kind of wish I was home again. Seriously, it's lonely here. There really aren't many people around to talk to, and now that I'm done with work I won't have much to do other than study and work out (which I haven't exactly been diligent about lately) until I go home for Christmas. As much as I enjoy the privacy and independence of living alone in a pimped-out apartment, it gets very, very lonely, and I miss having Ethan, Andy, and Mike around to hang out with. I wish they lived down the street or something. It sucks going to bars alone, and since none of the girls in my program are exactly peaking my interest (save for that one uber-hottie, but I don't know her name and a girl that fine has got to have a boyfriend or two...), I don't feel like pursuing anything there. I'm done with work until March, which is both good because I have more time to devote to finals, but also sucks because I won't have any money coming in for a while and I'll get bored easier. I wasn't accomplishing anything meaningful at Tatnuck, but at least it was some kind of movement. (My biggest regret about UMass was not having a part-time job at any point there, I would have had more money and wouldn't have felt lousy about sitting around bored all day, which lead to a boatload of new problems. Hopefully I'll be able to curb my spending and keep busy in other productive ways.)
Anyway, I don't want to complain, things just feel very weird right now. I got back today and I immediately felt homesick. Physically, I just feel different. I'm groggy and my eyes are unfocused, but that could just be from the stress and that fact that I haven't been to the gym in 2 weeks and ate nothing but junk and turkey for the duration of my time home. I haven't found a rhythm for practicing my speech and have had no motivation to even though I haven't been able to get a word out for a few weeks. My breathing is way off and I'm talking too fast, and even though I was home with my family and wanted to be fluent with them, I did not put a full effort in and only practiced once. I have had a really hard time answering the phone lately which is odd, because that's something I can usually do. I let Molly pick the phone up a few times, which I'm not proud of. At Thanksgiving we passed the phone around to talk to my cousin Pam who just had another baby (Colby Griffin Hartman...He's cute, but I guess we're just throwing the name Griffin into first- and middle-name slots now, apparently), and when it was my turn to talk I could barely say anything, and even though it was just my family it was embarrassing. I've been trying to figure out what to do.
One of the things I am mostly interested in right now is the psychology of why people do or do not do anything. If anybody has heard of the success guru/motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, that is what most of his stuff is about, and I've taken to it quite a bit. At the end of last year I was looking on Limewire to find audiobooks to listen to rather than just music all the time, and his name popped up. I had seen his infomercials on late-night TV and he looked wicked corny, and the whole idea self-help looks tailor-made for losers, so I kept it on the DL. But I figured, I've found it for free, a bunch of athletes and business moguls co-sign him, might as well give it a shot. I downloaded all of his programs and listened to them. Each mp3 is about 30 minutes and has lame super-hero-type music at the start, which is just embarrassing to listen to. However, the verdict is, yes, it's corny , too idealistic, and over-the-top, but he also makes a ton of sense about how the mind works and has a lot of effective ways on improving your life, and the guy is incredibly motivating. His biggest points are basic and common-sense, but he puts them in a way that actually makes you believe and apply them. He talks about things like gratitude for what you have, accountability, goal-setting, having a clear idea of what you want, giving to others instead of asking from them, contributing to society, growing and maturing, managing your emotions, positive thinking, continually raising your standards, and finding your purpose. His diet-and-exercise plan is complete bullshit and I haven't had a chance to really apply any of the financial stuff yet, but other than that, I've enjoyed listening to him.
You have to figure most people in life dislike where they are, as shown by obesity, depression, the divorce rate, drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide, and things like that. If you look at the characteristics of the few people who are happy and fulfilled, they live by most of the principles that Tony Robbins talks about. If you don't think that way naturally, he is a great way to start. Sometimes I don't like where I am, though I am getting the ball rolling. I've made some changes since starting to listen to him, though not as many in my behaviors as in the way I think. I've learned to appreciate what I have in the moment rather than always waiting for something good to come along to be happy. Some of the changes I've made include this blog, the future website and podcast, finding the golf course job myself, working on my stuttering, and treating people better. I think my biggest goal is to be a significant voice in the stuttering community, much like Marty was. I want to go to the conferences and have people know who I am and gives keynote speeches and let people know that I am working my ass off to make a difference for other people who stutter. That's why I want my podcast to be as good as possible and why I promote the hell out of these little projects. These are all things I wouldn't have thought to do before. I also have a lot of other smaller goals that I wrote about before, such as learning to play piano (I'm big into Coldplay right now), learning how to work on my car, and giving change to the homeless people in Worcester I see every day. Little things like that add up and make me feel like I'm contributing even if it's on a small scale. My goals list is always changing, but the point is I'm at least thinking in the right direction even if I haven't physically shook the world yet (my book will be good though. Hell, this entry is probably 3 chapters worth).
Anyway, I brought this up because the all-encompassing issue he talks about is that people basically operate based on what gives them pain and what gives them pleasure, and will live their lives accordingly. But pain is more powerful than pleasure, so people will avoid the pain more often than pursue the pleasure. If a person is overweight and wishes they were thinner but does nothing, it's because they associate more pain to actually dieting and exercising than to staying the way they are. They only truly make the change because it hurts more to stay overweight than to lose it. I felt that personally in high school when I finally decided to lose weight after years of wanting to. People procrastinate because it is painful to do their work right away than to do anything else, but the night before the paper is due they realize it will hurt more to not do the work, so they cannot procrastinate any longer, another thing I've felt personally. I will not approach a girl at a bar, because I'd rather go home alone than go through the whole ordeal of possibly being rejected, even though she could end up being my wife and the rejection will only hurt for a few minutes. If you look at situations in your own life, there are probably similarities. I feel like the reason I do not practice my speaking as much as I probably should is because my stuttering does not hurt as much as actually putting forth a full effort. The times I am very diligent about practice are when the thought of stuttering really hurts, such as in class or in the future with a client. I'm going to tie in the the loneliness paragraphs because I spend most of my time here by myself. Since I am alone all the time, there is not often a reason to practice speaking. Sure, I could make times to practice in the real world, and occasionally I do, but it isn't that simple. Everyone knows how important it is to exercise and eat right, but does everyone do it? Of course not. A lot of guys bulk up in the winter and cut down in the summer, because there's no pressure to be really trim in the winter, so we can eat more and pack on more muscle and fat. However once summer arrives it's time to start getting leaner for the beach. It's why girls go nuts to try to lose weight for Spring Break. If you don't, there will be consequences. If you want to really accomplish something there has to be more pain to not doing it than to following through. So by and large, making time to apply practice in the real world will not stick because for me, if it doesn't feel authentic I won't do it. I have a job where my speaking does not matter and once I'm out of work I fly solo for the rest of the day. If I had a job where I needed to deal with people, such as being a salesman where I'm selling something and it's important how I present myself, there is pressure and motivation to speak fluently. I will feel the pressure when I start clinic and I am working with actual clients and want to practice what I preach. Right now I'm comfortable, just like I feel comfortable being a little doughy because it's winter and I'm not going to the beach any time soon. I get little spurts of motivation, but they leave within a few days.
The easy answer would be to find situations where I have no choice but to follow through, such as finding a salesman job, but the golf course job is so conducive to my grad school workload that it's not worth it to rearrange everything. I'm hoping that once I start the podcast, Toastmasters, and the NSA meetings this week that I will feel the pressure again. Being comfortable feels good, but in the grand scheme of your life, you will only be happy if you feel the pressure to move forward. I'm too comfortable...