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Motivation For Fitness

As a geek, I’m always trying to find a way to get out of doing things that are fitness related in an attempt to do things I find more interesting. To counter this, one of my friends said I should just make the connection between ‘levelling up’ in a game and working out. While this might be a great idea for some, it doesn’t work for me. There is no ‘level up perk’ for me to work out. I don’t suddenly get to eat better food, sleep less or get a 30% chance boost to find change on the sidewalk. It could be argued that I need to just view the ‘perks’ as being fitter, healthier and able to do more, but this isn’t an immediate reward, so I find it hard to work towards it. And something tells me that I’m not the only geek  who thinks about it this way. I know I need some kind of immediate reward.

I think this is linked to how games structure themselves. 5-10 minutes in anything and we are able to slay a couple of monsters or run around the wasteland. Sure we want to play games for longer, but it can alway be argued that games give a false sense of achievement, but I’ll save that as a topic for a much later post. So maybe us geeks need to put in some kind of reward system. I used some applied maths to keep myself interested as well as going to the gym. For example, 1 pull of a bar with 1 weight on it gave me 1 point. 1 pull of 2 weights=2 points, 10 pulls of 20 weights=200 points and so on. For every 100 points I gave myself a ‘life point’, and I’m still trying to sort out some kind of reward structure for what to do with this. It gives me motivation to keep on going, as well as a direct way of seeing an immediate result from my efforts. I figure it can work for other people as well, not just for all those poor people subjected to the Dovakiin’s attempts to learn how to sneak and pickpocket.

Faith As A Usable Resource

I’ve always wondered in faith being a resource. Not wholesale religion as ‘faith’, but personal faith. History is full of heroes who believed strongly enough in something and persevered against seriously skewed odds. Apparently people such as Hercules, Perseus (and more recently), Splinter and Aslan seems to be able to draw from some reservoir of untapped potential that makes them capable of unnatural things. So what is so special about their beliefs?What makes them more able to use faith, or are they simply a product of necessity? Arguably Hercules and Perseus could have been as they were able to slay great monsters and fetch rare objects, but if they hadn’t stepped up, would someone else have attempted to do so? Most likely. So does that mean the term ‘fighting for what you believe in’ merely mean that you were the first to stand up to something? I know a person who believes in the power of his image. They believe in themselves so strongly that they attract other people around them who become attracted to this strength of conviction. Does this make him a hero who fights for what he believes in? Probably not, he gets labelled a ‘Ladies Man’.  Hercules was originally known for his arrogance, Perseus for his skepticism, Splinter for his betrayal and Aslan for his bouts of depression, so ‘perfect people’ are not the blueprint for anything in this context.

Coming at this from another angle, let’s look at ‘Faith As A Resource’ as the use of ‘mana’. Too many games to list use mana as a resource for doing magic or other feats that shouldn’t occur by science. Mana is described ‘the precursor to formal religion’ on Wikipedia. Is this what people draw on to do big things? Science would have found at least signs of something by now if so. I’m sure organised religions may have something to say about that statement, but that’s what I think. We have aura readers, palm readers, tea leaf readers, bone readers and all sorts of fortune tellers. If there was something to find, that line of work would receive a lot more press and a lot more people would be working in that industry, as opposed to being known for being full of charlatans. Maybe there are people out there who can use ‘mana’ or something else that they believe in to do something extraordinary, but I haven’t met or seen them yet, so I remain a skeptic.

On a more science based note, I think that extraordinary feats occur due to mental state. It’s well-known that a smaller guy who is fighting for his life will generally take down a larger opponent (assuming that they have equivalent levels of training or fitness) who has nothing to fight for. Every now and then the papers publish a story of a soldier who took a large amount of wounds and shrugged it off to finish their task. If a person has nothing holding them back, or nothing to lose, then they hold nothing in reserve. Imagine if Hercules or Perseus had heard of a monster and said ‘Nope. That’s too much’. They probably wouldn’t have made it as far as they had, they would have lost a lot of their fame and followers. To people such as them (or at least the type of people they were described as) that would have meant everything to them, so they held nothing back. To die at the hands of a monster was better than to fade into obscurity. So if that’s how some people use their faith, it stands to reason that everybody could manage that so long as they don’t hold back.

So ask yourself, what do you believe in you won’t budge for? Is it your human rights? Is it your human expectations? What couldn’t you stand to lose? If you can base all other things around the protection of that asset, then you should be able to match any of the best.

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Someone Who Says Nothing

I’ve got a friend who is considered to be always talking, but never saying anything that I consider of worth. No matter the situation or the context, he never fails to disappoint when it comes to talking. It may be about something he saw on TV, a philosophical idea he thought up, or the latest idea for a story, book or game that he has dreamt up. However,amongst his friends, he is generally considered as someone who provides ‘background noise’ in any social scenario. Some of the social group consider him a friend, others consider him a tolerable fool, as his ideas are never that well-considered, and anybody playing devils advocate will generally shoot down his concepts quickly. In return, he complains about nobody ever listening to him, and people ignoring what he thinks are good ideas.

I could talk about how it is polite to listen, and he is fulfilling his own social needs, but this post is not about that.

In saying all this, I am not attempting to talk about him a negative fashion, as he is a trustworthy person. I think that he is just not picking his social audiences well enough. Every social group has someone who can constantly talk about things which no member of the group has a large interest in, but they ‘fill the gaps’ in conversation and carry the talk forward through a series of topics. The problem with this is that there are certain people of the group who have an ‘aversion’ (for lack of a better term) to specific topics. I wouldn’t talk to my overly sporty social group about video games or programming language unless I knew they were interested. I wouldn’t talk to my parents (or other people from an older generation) about exploits whilst out on the town, and I wouldn’t talk to a specific member or our social group about how they should arm the police more heavily unless I wanted a fight on my hands. On this note, the individual I spoke about earlier has no issue raising these issues with these social groups, and then reacts in a stunned fashion when people give him negative feedback.

I can’t say for certain where or when he learnt that this was an appropriate display of social skills, as I’ve only known him for a couple of years, but I can also see how our social group exacerbates the situation. Sure, by engaging him on topics of his choice we allow him to express himself, but we also give control of the flow of the conversation to him, as he gets to choose where the conversation goes. By being more proactive in the choice of topics, it would keep him reactive, allowing others to express their opinions about topics before he deigns to change the topic to his choice.

Having said all that, the point to take away from this post is to actively participate in the conversations you are in, otherwise you’ll be forced to sit there, be polite and listen. Whilst I approve of this when dealing with small children, adults are another matter. I’m not saying to go out there and dominate whatever your group talks about, but to be less passive and more assertive. It’ll improve the group dynamic as well as bolstering your confidence. It’d be like if Kaeris started to talk a lot more to Ramos.

Emotions and Productivity

It’s no surprise that emotions are linked to our behaviour and mannerisms. There are countless articles out there on how to manage your emotions and web pages that suggest you need to place yourself in certain states to be able to function optimally. Not to mention text books. To a degree, they are all correct. But there are no surprises in that. But which emotions are linked to certain activities? I work in an office most of the time, and have found that being in a ‘zen’ state most of the time, as is recommended by a lot of these sites/blogs, is actually detrimental to my work. I need to be emotionally engaged with my material, or I’m not going to care about it. If I don’t have any emotions about the person about whom I’m trying to write a report, it’s incredibly difficult. Doing administration work is even more difficult, since the only emotion I get out of that is a sense of completion, which, to be honest, isn’t the greatest motivator.

Regardless of it being a negative (disgust) or a positive (appreciation) emotion linked to the work I’m doing, so long as it’s there I can do something without procrastinating. I tend to think about this in terms of the Magic: The Gathering colour wheel. It makes sense in my mind. For those of you who don’t understand it, don’t worry, I’ll try to make it as open a talk as possible. Just beware though, I tend to avoid referencing specific emotions from here as it is my belief that they are just words or labels that are associated with a physical state of being.

Lets start with Red. If I’m seeing red, that’s a great place for me to be when I’m trying to get a lot of admin work done. I tend to move a lot faster, and since I can be lost in my mind, fuming about one thing or another I’ll get the work done relatively fast. On a more basic level (Red being related to anger, speed and passion), the sympathetic nervous system is activated (fight or flight), so I’m moving fast with a smaller amount of thought. When doing relatively mindless admin work, this is good for me.

Moving on to Blue. I look at this like a zen state. When I’m in meetings or trying to persuade someone, blue is where I want to be. To me, blue embodies the concept of logic, systems and order, in turn avoiding emotions in general. As blue is linked to manipulation and control, in a blue state the world is tabula rasa for my will. Confidence shines through, and hence I’m better able to influence others. The downside to me writing reports when I am in a Blue state is that I tend to ramble on, and put too much detail into everything that I can.

I think “Green” is the best state in which to learn. Whether it’s attending courses, surfing Wikipedia, or in discussion, if I’m in a Green emotional state (no, that doesn’t mean sick) my focus is on my own growth. As it is associated with boundless growth, I am at my most open for learning in this state. It is also the best for me when I have to collaborate on something, as a key part of Green is interdependence.

I try to write reports when I’m in a White state. In a White state I’m generally highly positive and focus on the benefits of the people around me, specifically the person I’m writing a report about. As I want to help either the person or society, my motivation keeps on going as I want to do what is best for people. A White state has me thinking about what would be best for all concerned and how I could actively contribute to that.

Black is less associated with my work, and more associated with me. As the focus of Black is self-interest, this is where I procrastinate, waste time, or shamelessly promote myself. If I notice myself in a Black emotional state, it’s best I try to move into a Blue state or nothing is going to get done and I’m going to start annoying a lot of people. The upside to this though, is that I freshen up my mind for the next piece of work, as I’m certainly taking a break from doing anything when I’m focussed solely on myself, in a hedonistic fashion.

I hope this makes sense to people, it’s just my interpretation of how mood states or emotions can affect or work. I know that moods, emotions and feelings are different things, but I’m sure this will be understood. And for those who don’t get the colour wheel yet, check out


A Talk About ‘Labels’

I find myself frequently labeled by others. Within my workplace, this can be a highly negative concept as labels tend to stick with us. How many of us remember being “labeled” by kids in the playground? Whether it be loser, fat, geek, nerd, bitch or any number of things, to be labeled generally has some form of negative connotation. Or, at least I think we persuade ourselves that it does.

Heaps of other blogs talk about how tired they are with society’s need to label. However, labeling serves a useful purpose in terms of how society operates, and can have a number of other effects on how we see ourselves. We label cars are good or bad in our own minds, and use these labels as shortcuts in our thinking. We label food as delicious or horrible depending upon our tastes. Labeling is here to stay. No amount of social discourse or awareness is going to change that. With each new generation society has to teach another group of people to think. Labeling/stereotyping/grouping serves as a very useful mental shortcut. We learn things as a child, such as green flowery stuff (sometimes called broccoli) is a vile substance to be avoided. So when we are presented with a new “thing” to challenge what we know, we go to our pre-made template of labels. Is whatever that is on our plate green and flowery? Then it must be vile. No need to taste it.

Labeling can be useful, however, both as a mental shortcut and as a driver to identify some guidance for our lives. When we are labeled, someone has identified what they think is a trait in us. It might be that we are tall, short, fat, anorexic, arrogant, weak or nerdy. If, instead of viewing this as an attack on our ego we use it as something to help us develop self-awareness, it loses its sting (mostly). For example, if someone tells me I’m a fat nerd, it means that they perceive me to be overweight and have specialised knowledge in something that they think is not worth knowing. From this I can ask myself if I am overweight, and if so, what do I need to do to fix the problem? What do I know that they don’t, and how can I use this to my advantage? Another example could be if I was told I was good at baking, but useless at cooking (something that is unfortunately true). I know what I could improve on, and I know where I can show off my talents too.

And for the geeks, if my level 32 Rogue (who knows his speciality very well) suddenly multi-classes with a level in, say, Paladin, what happens to his skills then? They become unknown, and it seems like a wasted effort to achieve that improvement. Or for another universe, if an Imperial Space Marine picked up a Tau Pulse Rifle and started calling himself a sniper. He no longer knows his role and his skills suffer despite having them. In terms of the labels associated with those particular skill sets, it seems pointless to attempt to break free of those labels. I guess I’m trying to say that not all labels are bad, as some help us know ourselves

“I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” Ralph, Wreck-It Ralph

An Intro

This is a blog to talk about how a geek learnt how to function at large and learn from other people. Please see the ”About’ section for more info on me and the purpose of this blog, but I’ve never been great at first introductions.