Happy

What makes you happy? You might have a quick answer, as a few obvious things come to mind. Good food, spending time with friends, and so on.

But what about the little things? Maybe we can call these micro-joys (or something like that, still thinking it over…)

What are the tiny things that make your day? I once watched an Australian Shepherd dog for a couple days for someone who was out of town. When she was happy, her entire body would wiggle. It brought a huge smile to my face! (I think that’s why so many people love dogs…is because the littlest things can make them ecstatic, and that positive energy rubs off on us).

So the reason for writing this post is to bring more awareness to my micro-joys. By having a greater understanding of the little things that make me happy, I can make a more focused effort to incorporate these things into my life.

So here’s a rough list, off the top of my head:

  • Petting a cute dog

  • Hanging out in a coffee shop

  • Writing code for interactive applications

  • Coming up with new entrepreneurial ideas

  • Learning something new

  • Going to talks where people share something they’re passionate about

  • Playing games with friends

  • Traveling somewhere new

  • Taking a walk in nature

  • Going to the zoo

  • Going to museums

  • Rooting for a sports team

Shuffle

I think it’s good to shuffle things around…to mix things up.

Why do we cling to routines so stubbornly?

I noticed in college lectures with unassigned seats, how people would inevitably gravitate to the same chairs each class.

We crave predictability. The unknown is frightening to us. Surely there’s an evolutionary reason for this. It’s safer to stick what you know, rather than take an unnecessary risk.

But we should push past this limiting tendency. We should force ourselves to experience new things from time to time.

Travel is a great way to get out of our comfort zones. But even then, some people will only visit tourist traps and the same sites that a million others have been to a million times.

Live it up, mix it up, say yes, blah blah blah.

Discontent

Is it human to be discontent?

It feels like a hallmark of evolution to never be completely satisfied with what you have.

Or to what extent is happiness a cultural construct?

I’ve read studies of people in countries like Nigeria and Thailand, who lack material wealth but seem to live happy lives despite this.

Is happiness even a good thing to pursue?

If I were too happy, maybe I’d become lazy and lose motivation.

I think we need conflict in our lives to overcome. We need something either to strive towards or resist against.

Think about almost every work of fiction.

If there were no conflict, then there would be no story.

Even if there is a lack of external conflict, then a character could still have an internal conflict.

It seems like those with seemingly perfect lives: rich teenagers or celebrities, will tend to create their own drama just for the sake of it.

How much conflict is stirred up just for the sake of it? Just because it gives us something to do, or something to rail against?

These are just some thoughts… a stream-of-consciousness ramble.

I think that in order to have a more well-rounded opinion of happiness and similar topics, I’d need to:

  • Interact with more people and get their perspectives

  • Travel more

  • Have more life experience in general.

It’s easy to get stuck in your own way of thinking if you’re never challenged or exposed to new ideas.

So you need to make a conscious effort to get out of your head and get to know what others are thinking.

When you are exposed to the ideas of others, you’re forced to confront and defend your own beliefs/opinions.

I think that highlights the problem with many high-status individuals: people stop challenging their outlook over time.

Michael Lewis recently mentioned this in an interview. He has written several successful books…and now he’s afraid that his editor or those close to him won’t be honest in telling him if he has a bad idea.

So I think it’s good to remain skeptical of your own thoughts. Skepticism, exposure, and experience…this is the recipe for a more developed outlook on life.

Rich

The comedian Daniel Tosh once had a bit about the whole “Money can’t buy happiness” belief.

He challenged the audience, “have you ever seen a sad person on a WaveRunner?” Money can buy a WaveRunner, and WaveRunners make people happy, so maybe we should question that classic adage.

One issue with money is that I think it breeds jealousy. If you have a lot, then people might feel bad about themselves being around you because they don’t feel much. I know that I’ve felt insecure around successful people, because their success forces me to confront my own shortcomings.

I’d like to be rich, I’d like to have enough money that I could do whatever I wanted. I don’t think I’d live an extremely lavish lifestyle. Maybe I’d buy a Tesla and travel more, that sort of thing.

It would just be nice to have enough money that little things don’t concern you. A raise in rent, a spike in gas prices, a cold-brew coffee on a hot summer day. These expenses can take a toll if you’re living on a budget.

I should see money as a problem to be solved. I shouldn’t be scared of money, I should be strategic. What are my strengths, and how could I use them to get more?

At the same time, I must question: how could the pursuit of wealth affect my relationships and overall well-being?

I could work 80 hours a week and make a lot of cash, but this would not make me happy. I’d have no time to spend doing what I wanted. I’d be tired, stressed out, and overwhelmed.

I wonder how my life would change if I won the lottery. Would I really stop working and just be lazy?

I don’t think so, I think I need the structure and stability of a regular job. I like to feel productive, and to feel like I contribute to something larger than myself.

So these are universal human needs, right? Meaning, relationships, stability…

To what extent can you satisfy your basic needs with money?

It probably won’t take that much. But I’d like to be able to buy the latest gadget or whatever piques my curiosity.

So money equals freedom: freedom to do what you want, when you want to.

But money can also breed problems: jealousy, laziness, indulgence, etc.

In general, like most things in life, I think it’s all about finding a balance.

Community

One recurring topic in my essays is community.

It is something to which I keep returning. But for how much time I spend thinking about it, there is very little in my life.

Maybe that’s why it’s so often on my mind. Our imaginations tend to run rampant for anything we find to be lacking in our lives.

When you seek advice for “finding your tribe”, it is often tinged with frivolous platitudes such as “join a club, find a group, start a meetup…”

Is it really that simple? Maybe it is. Maybe if I spend less time in my mind and more time in the real world, then I’d have more to show for it.

But to my credit, I have attended quite a few gatherings. I’ve volunteered, joined organizations, even started my own club.

Maybe I should focus more on strengthening existing relationships rather than seeking out new ones.

How much quality time do I really spend with my friends, family, and work colleagues?

Sometimes I feel like those close to me could make a better effort as well. But you can only control your actions. And it’s easy to cast blame on others for not keeping in touch or staying close. At the end of the day, I think the lyrics “the love you take is equal to the love you make” rings true.

Thanks Beatles for helping me to internalize that.

Angst

“Every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam".

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Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the vastness of life. I won’t pretend like existential angst is unique to my situation. I think we all catch that fleeting sense of dread from time to time. To cope, I usually drown myself in distractions. Instead of confronting your feelings and learning how to cope, it’s easier to shift your attention to any other topic.

Over the years, I’ve turned to the Stoics, Existentialists, and Self-Help gurus. But maybe nobody has it figured out. Instead of living to search for answers, maybe I should focus more of living for the sake of living.

Learning

“Learning is an active process. We learn by doing…Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.” - Dale Carnegie

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Our world is in a constant state of change. Keeping our skills up to date is an ongoing struggle. The best way to learn, I believe, is to learn by doing.

Reading a textbook or watching a lecture are passive ways of taking in information. When we learn by doing, we are engaged. Learning hands on helps us internalize material. We aren’t just consuming information…we are taking action.

Another key factor is motivation. If we choose to learn by doing, then we will be more motivated. We have the freedom and autonomy to pursue any project we wish. Rather than have a textbook or teacher tell you what to do, you can choose what to work on.

Of course, there is a balance to strike here. You need to maintain an attitude of humility when consuming new information. Maintain a beginner’s mindset. You can’t learn if your mind is closed.

Don’t ignore the experts and what they have to offer. Use their knowledge a guide for reference and direction.

But take control of your education and pursue projects that energize and inspire you. Learning doesn’t have to be a painful, draining task. It should be active, engaging, and hands-on.

Side-Hustle

“Good things happen to those who hustle” - Anais Nin

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A concept called “side-hustle” has recently entered mainstream culture.

What is a side-hustle? It can mean different things to different people, but the general idea is that it involves some form of work outside of your normal job.

It can be a way to supplement your income. It can be a way to find meaning in your work. It can be a way to use your hobbies to turn a profit.

Everyone could benefit from a side-hustle. Traditional jobs seem unfulfilling for the majority of people. A side-hustle gives us the opportunity to have autonomy, passion, and inspiration in our work.

Pillars

 “We can afford to do things that fail, but we can’t afford to do things that if they succeed, they’re small.” - Jeff Bezos

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Jeff Bezos talks about how there are pillars that serve as the foundation for Amazon’s business model.

These include Amazon Prime, Amazon Web Services, and Amazon’s third-party marketplace.

In interviews, Bezos often mentions how long-term thinking was the basis behind many of his decisions. He wanted to bet on things that would not change. People will always want faster shipping times and lower prices, for example.

Amazon’s diversification and focus on the future have made it the most valuable public company in the world.

It makes me wonder how we Bezos’ thinking might translate into our own lives.

What are the pillars on which you build your life?

These could be the hobbies, interests, relationships, jobs, etc. that shape who you are as a person.

The stronger these pillars are, the more stable our foundation will be. And the more diverse these pillars are, the higher the probability is that they would not all crumble together in the face of challenges.

So for a concrete example, think about it like this:

You enjoy writing, podcasting, producing music, cooking, and coding.

Some of these things are hobbies or interests, and others you use in your career.

But these shape your identity. So I think it’s important to define your pillars, and then invest the time and energy to make sure they are strong.

Instead of trying to do everything, focus on these pillars. Take the classes, find the mentors, put in the work.

Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at and what you want to do.

You can take chances on things. You can do things for fun. But if you want to achieve some level of success in certain areas, then define those areas and build your life around them.

Because it’s when your skills get results that you feel proud and confident. So say you have those interests (writing, podcasting, producing music, cooking, and coding). Maybe you get fired from your job as a writer, but you can pivot to a career in coding because that was something you were investing time in on the side.

The general point is that life inevitably has its ups and downs. But the stronger and more diverse our pillars are, the more stable our lives will be.

You have to find that balance between pursuing many things and too few things (diversity). And you have to find the balance between investing some time and not enough time (strength).

So first take inventory: define the pillars in your life. Then strengthen and diversify your pillars to ensure a stable and successful future.

Variety

“Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all its flavor” - William Cowper

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I recently became interested in cooking, after years of takeout food and instant meals.

Perhaps it’s a passing interest…a temporary passion that comes and goes as they so often do in my life.

But something tells me this one might just stick.

After surviving a few underwhelming meals, I’ve gotten into a groove with this intricate art.

I never really appreciated how many elements are involved with what we eat. Herbs, spices, texture, flavor…everything combining in wonderful ways to bring joy and happiness to your taste buds.

Cooking is such an alluring thing to me, because it is a world of infinite possibilities. You could make something completely unique, adding your own personal touch to it.

Every day is an opportunity to create something new.

Being able to cook well feels like it would be a superpower. You can think something up and create it.

Pillars

“It's all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” - Philip Green

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In order to feel stable, we need pillars to support us. These pillars could take many forms, but the most straightforward ones are Friends, Family, Work, and Significant Other.

These pillars aren’t guaranteed at the same time, if at all. We lose family members, friends grow apart, work gets old, and we fight with our romantic partners.

If one or two of these pillars are crumbling, then we still have a solid enough foundation to function. But when all of our relationships are suffering, it can be devastating.

So how do we reinforce these pillars? How do we strengthen the foundation that maintains our sanity? Too often, we neglect these key relationships and suffer the consequences down the line.

Maybe the answer is simple. Make the effort to keep in touch with those who matter to you. Ask how your old friends are doing. Se

One of the most powerful films, It’s a Wonderful Life, does a great job of highlighting the importance of relationships. Towards the end, when the main character faces a crisis, he contemplates suicide to end it all. But his family and friends help come to the rescue and save him from these depths.

When you are kind to others and make the effort to keep up with relationships, you build up good will over the years. Is this selfish? Perhaps. But it seems all relationships have an element of sacrifice. We take time to see others, to hear about their days, to help them out when they need help. Then when it’s your turn to ask for a favor, there will be people around.

It would be a lonely day to wake up and realize you have nobody to turn to.

So be kind to friends, keep in touch with family, treat your partner well, and get to know people at work. Life has it’s ups and downs, but you will stay balanced and maintain stability with you have your relationships in order.

What is life without relationships? Who are we without the people around us? If your relationships aren’t fulfilling your needs, then you either need to create new ones or improve the ones you have. But if you try to navigate life without any relationships, it is a lonely road and you won’t get anywhere.

Flaws

“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” - Augusten Burroughs

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Nobody is perfect. That’s a cliché, but it bears repeating. Whenever we get too hard on ourselves, it’s important to remember this fact.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Things that come easily to some people can be incredibly difficult for others.

But to what extent should we hold ourselves accountable?

For example, if someone is late all of the time…do we consider that trait a flaw to be forgiven? Can the perpetually late person let themselves off the hook and blame it on their nature?

It’s hard to say. On one hand, it seems like we shouldn’t be too tough on ourselves or others if something doesn’t come easily. On the other hand, how can anyone see improvements if we’re always making excuses?

Like almost anything, it’s probably all about striking a balance.

The important thing is to practice compassion when acknowledging the flaws in ourselves and others.

But what about cases where we don’t see people with flaws? When we idolize celebrities or get carried away in love, our rose-colored glasses alter everything in an unrealistic light.

It can be crushing to ‘meet your heroes’ or discover flaws in a partner.

Once again, we just need to keep perspective.

Data

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” - Tim Berners-Lee

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The Data Manifesto:

  1. Everything is data

    • Anything in the world can be measured. From the number of breaths you take to the number of steps you walk to the number of words you speak. Every industry uses data, from healthcare to aviation to retail.

  2. Data is the future

    • Data will only get more and more relevant. The ability to interpret, analyze, and understand data will only grow in importance.

What else should go on this list?

Software

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” - Henry David Thoreau

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Can a career in software development be a noble vocation? I would argue yes, but will admit my bias, as someone working in this industry.

After reading a couple biographical books by medical professionals, it’s hard to deny the incredible impact they can have on the lives of others.

Those in the medical field help keep us healthy, keep us safe, and keep families together. Without nurses, doctors, surgeons, and so on, how would we function as a society?

One thing that struck me in these books, however, was how much subjectivity was involved in decision-making.

For example, if a patient is diagnosed with some affliction, they may receive a wide range of diagnoses from dozens of specialists. It’s amazing how subjective and varying these opinions can be. When peoples’ lives are in jeopardy, how can we allow for such uncertainty?

It seems that many hospitals suffer from a systems issue. There are not enough professionals to help patients, and those working often suffer a grueling schedule that certainly clouds their mind and decision-making abilities. Medical residents in particular can work 15+ hour days without rest. How can anyone function under such conditions.

And this is where software could have an incredible impact on the industry.

Think about the rise of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber. Despite bumps along the way, it’s undoubtable that these services have saved thousands of lives from drunk-drivers. The convenience and reliability of these apps has had a tremendous impact on society.

So where are the similar opportunities in medicine. It’s hard to say for certain, but it seems like there are countless areas that could be improved.

What about an app that automatically alerts nurses when a particular patient needs attention. Or an app that incorporates IBM’s Watson, which can harness the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning to help provide speedy and accurate diagnoses. Or the power of robotics and video streaming, that could allow doctors to remotely navigate dozens of hospitals in the same day.

It seems like the only limits are our imagination. I wish more entrepreneurs and startups would venture into these areas, rather than focus on superficial work in areas such as social media.

So back to the original question: Can software be a noble career path? As noble as that of a doctor?

If you can design a system that makes hospitals 1% more efficient, that could mean saving thousands of lives. More than any individual could.

In my brief experience in and out of hospitals. I’m amazed by how disorganized things can be. You see stressed and overworked doctors and nurses, making high-stakes on-the-fly decisions in the face of extreme pressure and sleep deprivation.

Software can help automate and optimize existing processes. We need to try and eliminate room for human error, and let technology help save us from ourselves.

Some people might argue that there is already a great deal of software in hospitals. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t massive room for improvement. Taxis existed before Uber, so we had the same basic service available for decades. But the ability to push a button and have nearby drivers arrive in minutes it’s an incredible technological achievement.

How can we make similar strides in medicine?

Better

“How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.” - Gretchen Rubin

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It’s important to me that I’m better every day. But what does it mean to be better? It doesn’t have to take the form of some lofty achievement or amazing feat. Instead, it is small actions in or day-to-day lives that compound in value over time.

If I exercised today, then I am better. If I read a few pages of a book today, than I am better.

Is there an objective way to measure these improvements? It’s hard to say, maybe it just depends on the individual.

Seth Godin wrote on the subject:

“Incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation. A figurative drip, drip, drip. Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, building connection, laying track — this subtle but difficult work is how culture changes.”

But this is also tricky territory to traverse. Is reading a few pages of a book really enough to offset an otherwise unproductive day? This opens the door up to a flurry of mental rationalizations.

It’s probably best not to overthink it. The general principle is one that would benefit most people. Small actions can make a big difference in our lives over time.

Negotiating

“To win a negotiation you have to show you're willing to walk away. And the best way to show you're willing to walk away is to walk away.” - Michael Weston

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Be willing to walk away from any negotiation. It is simple advice, overused to the point of meaninglessness. But there is truth in these old aphorisms. They hold up for a reason.

Why is it important to be willing to walk away?

Because if you aren’t, then people will take advantage of you. They will sense your desperation and inability to leave.

We must set boundaries in life. In all our relationships, jobs, and friendships. We must draw a line in the sand and declare what we will not stand for. Be specific.

People don’t respect people without boundaries. Your boundaries are determined by your values - by what you stand for. So if you don’t have boundaries, you must not stand for anything.

Show some respect for yourself by setting boundaries and letting people know that you’re willing to walk away.

Sports

"I feel sorry for people who aren’t sports fans. Know why? When I get up in the morning I have no idea who’s going to win the games that day. None. So I have wonderment every day, “Who’s going to win? What’s going to happen?” - Larry King

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I used to think major league sports were stupid. How could a simple game make grown men and women lose complete control of their emotions? It made no sense to me. But as I get older, I started to develop more sympathy for sports culture.

Eventually, I realized it’s silly to hate something just for the sake of it. Why not try and understand what draws people to sports, and see things from their perspective?

Here is the value I learned to appreciate in sports:

1) Community

Sports bring people from all walks of life together. It doesn't matter what class, race, or creed your belong to. Anyone can share the bond of being a fan of a certain team. It's a beautiful thing to see fans bonding who otherwise would have nothing in common.

2) Stories

We seem to have a natural desire for great storylines. Classic themes such as sacrifice, rebirth, and redemption play themselves out time and time again in sports. One could argue that the story of some team coming together to surmount incredible odds might hold its own with the plots of many classic novels.

3) Distraction

The world is infinitely complex, beyond our comprehension. It gets exhausting trying to grasp the limits of human understanding. But sports help reduce the world down to size. Instead of grappling with our existential angst, we can appreciate the simplicity of a ball, field, and two teams trying to score.

4) Novelty

Every game is an opportunity to be surprised. No outcome is automatically guaranteed. Anything could happen on any given day. That's what makes sports exciting. The occasional upset or underdog story keeps us engaged and entertained when life can otherwise seem monotonous and routine.

5) Catharsis

We all have to deal with stress, pain, and suffering. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like too much to bear, and you just want to scream out. Sports offer a healthy environment and context for people to go crazy. You might see a fan lose it after a bad call, when really they're venting because they just got laid off or a loved one passed away.

And there are probably a million other reasons to appreciate sports, these are just the ones that stood out the most to me.

So the bottom line is this: You don't have to have a cynical view of sports, like I did as a teenager. Don't let stubborn pride keep you from appreciating the positive aspects of this cultural phenomenon. Sports can bring people closer together, and offer some relief and distraction from a stressful world. Sure, it might be silly to let your emotions hang on the whims of a game...but hey - it's something to do!

So allow yourself to have fun and get caught up in a game. Pick a team to follow and cheer for. You might just become a crazy super fan!

Writing

"Good writing is clear thinking made visible." - Bill Wheeler

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It feels like there is a stigma against grown men keeping a journal. The idea of a journal for many people conjures up an image of teenage girls scribbling about their crushes in a diary. 

But this is a silly thought. Writing is a powerful way to communicate, to both yourself and others. Once you put something down on paper (or type it on a computer), it helps to clarify thoughts in your mind. 

I see this process as something like 'digesting your ideas'. Because first you write down what you're thinking, which forces you to articulate it. Then you might read through it again, which means now you're taking in the information as a more neutral observer. You might even read it aloud, which gives you the auditory as well as visual sensory input.

It's amazing how something that bothers you suddenly becomes less daunting once you put it down on paper.  Our minds are very powerful, and we can easily get swept up into negative thoughts.

And when you improve your skills at communicating through writing, it almost feels like a superpower. You can learn how to express exactly what you're thinking, and then the recipient of your writing has no ambiguity to sort through. 

I think it would do many of us (myself included) good to write more letters and fewer texts/emails. There is something personal and thoughtful about putting a pen to paper to try and capture how you feel. Texts and emails are efficient products of the digital age, but there is something lost in their quick and instant nature. Crafting a letter requires slow thinking, choosing your words carefully, and more focus on what you're trying to say.

By no means am I against technology or modern forms of communication. But it's important to recognize the value of this ancient art. Good writing clarifies our thoughts to ourselves, and helps us better communicate with others.

Energy

"What a man can be, he must be. This is what we call self-actualization." - Abraham Maslow

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It's nice when everything is in order. Friendships, romance, work, health, and so on. When life is good in these major areas, you feel balanced and energized. It's easy to get content in this state of calm. It's easy to relax and soak in the peace with satisfaction. But instead, I think we need to use this time to our advantage. 

I feel much more productive when various areas of my life are going well. It's like our lives are a house, and each of those areas (relationships, career, etc.) are columns holding them up. Sometimes a column collapses or needs repair. That makes it hard to focus on getting other things done. A toxic relationship or harmful work environment can cloud your mind and rob your waking hours.

So when things are going well, it's first important to observe that. Then, I think it's vital to act. Take advantage of this time to be as productive as possible. Channel your positive energy into a worthy cause. Life has ups and downs, and your state of mind will inevitably shift. Let the occasional sense of stability be a catalyst for action.

Pain

"I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage." - Fredrich Nietzsche

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Why do we romanticize pain? I suppose the overcoming of suffering is a powerful feeling. We don't value things that come easy to us. It is the things that we have to struggle for that give us the greatest satisfaction.

But what about pain during meditation? I don't understand the point of it. The classic meditation position is to sit cross-legged or in a lotus pose. Avoiding pain in your neck, back, and knees seems nearly impossible. Maybe after a certain amount of meditation, it's not a problem.

That being said, I don't know why some people hold the pain up as a positive thing in this context. I don't think the amount of physical pain you're inflicting on your body will bring you any close to spiritual enlightenment or transcendence. Maybe I'm wrong about that, though. Maybe leaning into your pain brings you closer to the present moment. But I think it's an unnecessary distraction.

This is why I now prefer yoga over sitting meditation. Yoga involves a set of structured stretches, and helps you improve your balance, flexibility, and focus. It's a moving meditation. You twist and pose in various ways that make you feel loose and strong. You are simultaneously focused on your breath and your body. Why wouldn't you choose this form of meditation over sitting in some stiff position? You don't have to be a pain martyr. You can gain the mental benefits of meditation while also contributing to your physical well-being.

But maybe yoga isn't as deeply meditative as traditional meditation. If you're just sitting still, you can focus all of your energy on your breath and the present moment. However, I'd still opt for an alternative to sitting meditation. I would choose flotation tank therapy instead.

In a flotation tank or pod, you can experience the ultimate relaxation. Your body feels weightless, floating in a pool of Epsom salt. With the sensory deprivation aspect, you are free to tune in fully to the present moment.

But part of me wonders if this is too relaxing. I've fallen asleep once before while floating. I don't think we get the full meditation experience if we are too relaxed. So maybe that's the point of sitting meditation. If you're too relaxed, you won't tune in to the present moment. Maybe you need to be borderline uncomfortable to achieve full awareness. 

Anyway, I guess you could always just sit in a comfy upright chair to meditate. Maybe that's the simplest solution. It's more relaxing than sitting cross-legged on the ground, but not so relaxing that you'll fall asleep. Perhaps a rocking chair in the ultimate meditative accessory. Because I find that little bit of movement to be soothing. It's obviously not as much movement as you'll get in a yoga class, but it's a rhythmic motion that can help you feel calm and relaxed. 

Is there an ideal way to meditate? I think it just depends on the person. Or maybe it depends on the day? Maybe we should all have 3-5 ways in which we meditate, and then regularly alternate them in order to get the most well-rounded experience.

I'm probably overthinking this, but here are my thoughts in summation: We can respect and attempt the traditional approach to meditation, but we should also question norms in this area and find whatever method is best suited for ourselves. We can try a wide range of meditation practices and find the best ones to suit us. There are no rules! The common intent is be more attuned to the present, and there are probably a million ways to help you do this. Some of them we probably wouldn't even think of as meditation, like doing a puzzle or going rock-climbing. But it would probably do us some good to expand our perception of what we consider to be meditation..