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9 Reasons Why Backpacking is the Perfect Way to Find Yourself

9 Reasons Why Backpacking is the Perfect Way to Find Yourself

When most people think about finding themselves, they imagine sitting in a therapist’s office, exploring their childhood and discussing their feelings. But there are other ways to find yourself, and one of the best is through backpacking. Here’s how it can help:

It encourages you to be present.

Backpacking requires your full attention. You must be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your footing, so you don’t trip and fall. This forces you to live in the present moment, which can be a great way to find yourself.

It helps you appreciate nature.

When you’re out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to appreciate the beauty around you. Seeing firsthand how beautiful and vast the world is can help put your problems into perspective and give you a greater appreciation for life.

It allows you to disconnect from technology.

In today’s world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in technology and forget about the world around you. But when you’re backpacking, there’s no cell service or Wi-Fi, which gives you the perfect opportunity to disconnect from your phone and social media and focus on the present moment.

It gives you time to think.

You have a lot of time to think when you’re out on the trail. This can be an excellent opportunity to reflect on your life and figure out what you want most out of it. You can also use this time to brainstorm ideas and devise solutions to problems you’ve been having.

It helps you meet new people.

Backpacking is a great way to meet new people. When you’re out on the trail, you’ll meet other hikers looking for the same thing: an escape from the everyday grind. You can bond over your shared love of nature and adventure, and you may even make some lifelong friends.

It allows you to reset.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out in our fast-paced world. But when you’re backpacking, you can forget your worries and focus on enjoying yourself. This can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated like you’ve hit the reset button on your life.

It teaches you about yourself.

Backpacking can teach you a lot about yourself. You’ll learn how to push yourself physically and mentally when you’re out on the trail. You’ll also find out what you’re capable of and your limits. And as you overcome obstacles and reach your goals, you’ll gain confidence and learn more about who you are.

It helps you appreciate the little things in life.

When you’re backpacking, you must carry everything you need on your back, which means you can only bring the essentials. This forces you to think about what’s important to you and helps you appreciate the little things in life.

It gives you a sense of accomplishment.

When you finish a backpacking trip, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. You’ll be proud of yourself for pushing your limits and reaching your goals. And you’ll have memories and stories to last a lifetime.

Backpacking can be a fantastic way to find yourself. It encourages you to be present, appreciate nature, disconnect from technology, and think about what you want most out of life. It also allows you to meet new people, reset, and learn about yourself. If you’re looking for a way to explore who you are, backpacking may be perfect.

10 Essentials for a Backpacking Trip

10 Essentials for a Backpacking Trip

When it comes to packing for a backpacking trip, the options can seem endless. But a few pieces of gear are essential for any trip, regardless of when or where you’re going. Here is a list of the essentials, along with some tips on choosing the right gear for your needs.

1. Backpack: 

You’ll need a backpack to carry all your gear. But there are a few things to consider when choosing a pack. First, think about the size. You want something big enough to hold everything you need but not so big that it’s cumbersome to carry. Second, consider the features. Look for a pack with plenty of pockets and compartments for organizing your gear and straps and loops for attaching gear to the outside of the pack. And finally, make sure the pack is comfortable to wear – look for one with adjustable straps and a padded back panel.

2. Sleeping bag: 

A good sleeping bag is another essential piece of gear. When choosing a sleeping bag, you’ll need to consider the temperature range you’ll be camping in. Sleeping bags are typically rated for specific temperature ranges, so choose one that’s appropriate for the conditions you’ll be facing. You’ll also want to think about the weight and size of the sleeping bag. If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight bag that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a warmer bag that takes up more space.

3. Tent: 

A tent is another essential piece of gear for any backpacking trip. When choosing a tent, you’ll need to consider the size (how many people will be sleeping in it?) and the weight and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight tent that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a bigger tent that provides more space and comfort.

4. Sleeping pad:

A sleeping pad is an essential piece of gear for two reasons. First, it provides insulation between you and the ground, which helps to keep you warm at night. Second, it adds padding and comfort, which can make all the difference after a long day on the trail. When choosing a sleeping pad, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight pad that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a bigger pad that provides more comfort.

5. Stove: 

If you’re planning on cooking your meals on the trail, you’ll need a stove. When choosing a stove, you’ll need to consider the fuel it uses (propane, butane, white gas, etc.), as well as the weight and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight stove that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a more powerful stove with more features.

6. Water filter: 

A water filter is an essential piece of gear for any backpacking trip. It allows you to safely drink water from streams, lakes, and other natural sources. When choosing a water filter, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight filter that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a bigger filter that’s more powerful and has more features.

7. First-aid kit: 

A first-aid kit is an essential piece of gear for any backpacking trip. It allows you to treat minor injuries and ailments on the trail. When choosing a first-aid kit, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight kit that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a more extensive kit with more items.

8. Navigation tools: 

Navigation tools (such as a map and compass) are essential for any backpacking trip. They allow you to find your way in the wilderness and ensure you don’t get lost. When choosing navigation tools, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose lightweight tools that pack down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for bigger tools that have more features.

9. Clothing: 

The type of clothing you bring on your backpacking trip will depend on the climate and the time of year. In general, you should bring comfortable, durable, and easy to layer clothing. When choosing clothing for your trip, you’ll need to consider the weight, packed size, and climate. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose lightweight clothing that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for more comfortable and durable clothing.

10. Miscellaneous items: 

There are a few other miscellaneous items you might want to bring on your backpacking trip. These include sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a headlamp. When choosing various items for your journey, you’ll need to consider the weight and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose lightweight items that pack down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for more comfortable items with more features.

As you can see, when choosing gear for a backpacking trip, there are many factors to consider. But by choosing the right equipment, you’ll make your trip more enjoyable and safer. So don’t be afraid to choose the right gear – it will be worth it in the end. And if you have any questions or need help choosing gear, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help!

Building a culture of command

In any organization, the ability to command and lead is essential for success. But creating a culture of commanders within an organization can be difficult, especially if the company is large and decentralized. A strong command culture starts at the top, with a clear and concise vision from the CEO and leadership team. From there, it must be communicated effectively to all company members, down to the lowest levels. Everyone will be working towards the same goals and achieving great things.

What is a culture of command?

A culture of command is a term used to describe an organization where everyone is clear on their role and responsibilities and is working together towards a common goal. It’s essential to ensure that everyone in the company is on the same page and aligned with its vision.

A strong command culture starts at the top, with a clear and concise vision from the CEO and leadership team. This vision must be communicated to all employees, and everyone must buy into it. Leadership must lead by example and be held accountable for their actions. Being held responsible sets a clear example to the organization of what behaviors will or will not be tolerated. Leaders cannot allow the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality to infiltrate the organization.

When everyone in the organization is working towards the same goal, it creates a sense of unity and purpose. This can be a powerful motivating force for employees. It can also help create a more positive work environment, as employees feel like they are part of something larger than themselves.

Build the Culture of Command

A culture of command takes time to develop, but it is essential for any organization that wants to succeed. Leadership must be committed to building this culture from the ground up and setting the tone for the organization. With a strong vision and leadership team in place, an organization can begin to build a culture of command that will help them achieve its goals.

Let Go.

The first step in building a culture of command is letting go. The C-level executives must be able to let go of control. There are numerous layers of organizational hierarchy in place for a reason. Use it to your advantage. Businesses fail when decision-making ability is removed from mid-level management teams. The executives at the top need to trust their employees to make the right decisions.

Empower your employees by giving them the ability to make decisions. Allow for creativity and risk-taking. Encourage out-of-the-box thinking. You will breed a culture of leaders who are not afraid to take risks and innovate when you do this.

Communicate

The second phase of building a culture of command begins with communication. Leadership teams cannot work in silos. Each section of an organization must be aware of what other sections are working on. Daily meetings of team leaders may seem mundane. However, the insight and experience gained by the collective group are invaluable.

During these meetings, everyone must be allowed to share their ideas openly. Leadership must be willing to listen to new and different perspectives. By embracing change and encouraging creativity, an organization can foster a culture of innovation. This is essential for any organization that wants to stay ahead of the curve.

Encouraging creativity does not mean that leadership should allow chaos to reign. There must still be structure and order within the organization. However, by being open to new ideas and ways of doing things, an organization can tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience that they may not have had access to before.

Realize the Potential

Allowing employees to own their work can have a number of benefits for an organization. When employees feel like they are part of the team and that their input is valued, they are more likely to be productive and take pride in their work.

Giving employees ownership also allows them to take risks and be creative. This can lead to new and innovative ideas that can help the organization move forward. When employees feel like they are a part of the decision-making process, they are more likely to be invested in the outcome.

Finally, allowing employees to own their work helps to create a sense of community and teamwork. When everyone feels like they are working together towards a common goal, it can help to improve morale and foster a positive work environment.

Are we on the same page?

The impact of vision cannot be understated. When we communicate to our entire workforce the vision of the organization, we keep everyone in tune with the expectations of progress. A vision should be laid out to where you see the organization in the long term. Not specifically how to get there, but the clear direction of what the outcome should be.

If you’re building a house, the elements that you want in the house should be included in the vision—the number of rooms, rough layout, size, pool, etcetera. Let the management teams, now commanders, decide how to get there. Allow creativity to foster in the environment. Continue to communicate your vision for the organization. Keep everyone locked on the outcome and push the organization forward.

Conclusion

An organization cannot achieve success without a strong leadership team in place. This is especially true when it comes to creating and fostering a culture of innovation. In order for an organization to move forward, the executives at the top must be able to let go of control and trust their employees to make the right decisions. Communication is key, and leaders must be willing to listen to new perspectives in order to foster creativity within the workforce. Allowing employees to own their work helps create a sense of community and teamwork, which can improve morale and productivity. By realizing the potential that a culture of commanders can have, an organization can tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience that they may not have had access to before.

On Self-Improvement

It has been said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Many people would agree that self-improvement is one key to a good life. But what does it mean to improve oneself? And how should one go about it? And, how do we do it without falling trap of a hokey salesperson marketing their product as self-improvement? These are some of the questions that philosophers have wrestled with for centuries.

There are many different ways to improve oneself. One can work on their physical health, economic status, or relationships with others, but, at its core, self-improvement is a process of becoming a better thinker. To improve as a thinker, one must become more introspective and reflective. They must be able to examine their thoughts and actions and see where they can improve. This is not an easy task, as it requires a great deal of honesty and humility. But, if one can do it, they will find that their life will become much more fulfilling.

There are many resources available to help one become a better thinker. There are books, courses, and workshops on critical thinking, logic, and argumentation. These can all be helpful in learning how to examine one’s thoughts more critically. However, some of the most valuable resources for self-improvement are found within oneself. One of the best ways to improve as a thinker is simply to think about things more deeply. When faced with a problem or challenge, take the time to really consider all of the possible solutions. Weigh the pros and cons of each option, and try to come up with the best possible solution. This may seem like a lot of work, but it is well worth the effort.

President John Kennedy took the time to ponder why Khrushchev decided to place missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy likely avoided an incredibly deadly nuclear war by taking the time to improve his thought pattern and delaying the natural tendency to react.

Sometimes, self-improvement starts with a pause.

What does it look like?

When you think about improving yourself, what does that look like in your mind? If you’re anything like most people, you probably think about making some physical change, such as going to the gym more or eating healthier. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s all you focus on, you’re missing out on a lot of other potential areas for self-improvement.

We are more than just our bodies; we are also our minds and hearts. If we want to be truly well-rounded individuals, we need to take care of all three parts of ourselves. Focusing too much on the physical aspects of improvement can lead to neglecting the mental and emotional aspects of our lives.

That means finding ways to challenge and stimulate our minds so that we can continue to learn and grow. It means taking care of our emotional health so that we can be happy and fulfilled. And it means taking care of our physical health so that we can be strong and active.

Mental Resilience

Improvement of the heart and mind is incredibly important to become mentally resilient. A lot of people think that being mentally tough means never experiencing negative emotions, but that’s not the case. Mental toughness doesn’t mean you’re immune to hardship; it just means you have the ability to keep going even when things are tough.

That might mean taking on a new project at work or learning a new skill. It could also mean facing your fears and doing things even though they make you feel anxious or scared. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll become stronger and more resilient.

It’s also important to take care of your emotional health. This means making sure you have a good support system and taking time for yourself when you need it. It might mean reaching out to a friend or family member when you’re feeling down or taking a break from work to relax and recharge.

There is no one “right” way to improve oneself. What works for one person may not work for another. The important thing is to find what works for you and to stick with it.

Starting small is a key to making improvements work. In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear suggests combining new habits with existing habits to increase the likelihood of developing new habits. If reading more is your version of self-improvement, start by placing a book on the couch next to your TV remote. Having the book out and near something you are used to reaching for creates a habit of being able to grab the book and read a page or two prior to turning on the television. Small steps lead to great improvements throughout our lives. It is never too late to get yourself where you want to be.

On Goal Setting

Most people think of goal setting as a way to make themselves feel better about the past through achievements, but it is so much more. When we set goals, we acknowledge we are not where we want to be in life. That is a hard pill to swallow. It takes guts to say, “I want more.” And it takes an immense amount of courage to take the steps necessary to reach those goals.

When we set goals, we acknowledge that we are capable of so much more than we currently are. We are admitting that we have the potential to grow and improve. This is a mighty mindset to have. When we believe in our own potential, anything becomes possible.

Reaching our goals requires us to step outside of our comfort zones. It means taking risks and facing challenges head-on. It means embracing the unknown and trusting that we will figure it out along the way.

The process of goal setting is not about making ourselves feel good at the moment. It’s about committing to ourselves to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. It’s about taking our dreams and turning them into reality.

Goal setting can be used to create a better future for ourselves and our loved ones. It can also help us find direction in life when we feel lost or stuck.

Are we lost, or are we stuck?

Being stuck implies that we have a defeatist attitude. It caters to the notion that I cannot improve my situation no matter what I do. Immanuel Kant would say that this results from our cognitive faculties being in a rut.

Kant believed that we can break out of these ruts by using our reason. Reason, for Kant, is the faculty that allows us to think for ourselves. It is the ability to question why we believe what we do and think critically about our world.

When we set goals, we use our reason to create a plan for ourselves. We are taking control of our lives and charting a course for success. This empowering process can help us achieve anything we set our minds to.

We are not stuck. Stuck is infinite. We are lost.

Acknowledge it. Grow from it.

Being even 1 degree off from where we start equals thousands of miles of separation at the end. That is how we got here. Now, we need a little more guidance.

The first step is admitting that we don’t have all the answers. This can be a difficult thing to do, but it is essential if we want to grow and improve our lives. Once we admit that we don’t know everything, we open ourselves to new possibilities. We become willing to learn and experiment. We become open to change.

We evaluate the difference between where we are and where we want to be. That is the gap where genuine improvement lies. Do you want to be an expert? Why haven’t you taken the class, gotten the certification, or marketed yourself as such?

Lack of goals.

Goals aren’t the ‘shoot for the moon’ approach. Goals are rungs of a ladder. Each step closer to where you thought or wanted to be by this point in your life.

Goal setting is not about making ourselves feel good at the moment. It’s about committing to ourselves to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. It’s about taking our dreams and turning them into reality. When we set goals, we admit that we have the potential to grow and improve. This is a mighty mindset to have. Reaching our goals requires us to step outside of our comfort zones and embrace the unknown. The goal-setting process is not easy, but it is worth it!

Mentally Recharging

It’s easy to become bogged down by the routines of daily life. We all have the good and bad habits that we fall back on without even thinking about it. But sometimes, it’s essential to take a step back and mentally reset yourself. This can be done in several ways, but the most effective is often to change your environment. If you can get away from your normal surroundings and spend some time in a new place, you can open yourself up to new possibilities and see things in a different light. This can help you break out of any ruts you may have fallen into and start fresh.

In a recent survey, hundreds of high-performing upper management personnel were surveyed. The results were astounding. To stay mentally sharp, the high performers overwhelmingly chose activities that included an element of solitude.

Whether knowingly or not, the findings are consistent with zen philosophy. The goal of zen is to achieve a state of mind called “mushin,” which can be translated as “no mind.” This state is characterized by complete focus and concentration on the present moment. To achieve mushin, zen practitioners engage in activities that require complete focus and attention, such as meditation.

While the survey did not specifically ask about meditation, it’s clear that the respondents who reported the most significant mental productivity were those who had found a way to balance social and solitary activity in their lives.

Respondents reported participating in activities such as motorcycling, fly-fishing, and listening to music through headphones: no work e-mails, no phone calls, just themselves.

The key is to find an activity that allows you to focus entirely on the present moment without distractions. This could be anything from painting to hiking to playing a musical instrument. The important thing is that it’s something you enjoy and can do regularly.

Mentally disconnecting is often underrated. It can be so important to take some time for yourself, just step away from everything and relax. This can be especially beneficial if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

It’s also important to remember that mentally disconnecting doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. You can spend time with friends or family or simply enjoy peace and quiet. Whatever you do, make sure to take some time for yourself every day. The point is to find a way to disconnect from the stressors of life.

There are a lot of benefits to mentally disconnecting. For one, it can help reduce stress levels. It can also give you some much-needed time to reflect on your life and figure out what’s important to you. Additionally, it can help boost your mood and improve your overall outlook on life.

Mentally recharging allows us to hit the reset button and start fresh. It’s an integral part of maintaining our mental health and well-being. Maintaining our mental health and well-being allows us to continue to be there for other people. Whether we are first responders, parents, friends, etc., we need to be able to maintain ourselves and guide others where we can.

Student Loan Economics

Student Loan Economics

Usually, I don’t write blog posts that could be construed as supporting or being critical of political parties or politicians. However, I think it’s important to talk about the issue of student loan forgiveness. The Biden administration’s recent announcement of up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness has divided the nation. Some people believe this is a significant step forward and will help many struggling Americans to pay off their student loans. Others think that this is another example of the government giving handouts to people who didn’t work hard enough to earn their degrees or as an act of buying votes.

There are valid points on both sides of the argument. However, I want to focus on the economics of student loan forgiveness and the odd timing of the announcement.

Economics of a Functioning Society

To keep things simple, let’s look at healthcare. We all know that health care costs are soaring. The rising healthcare costs have made it nearly impossible for lower-income households to obtain adequate care under the current system. We don’t discuss nearly enough how those rising costs affect society as a whole.

Rising healthcare costs don’t just make it difficult for people to afford health care. They also make it difficult for businesses to afford to offer health insurance to their employees.

Supply and Demand of Healthcare

The typical fix for the rising healthcare costs is to give more free or subsidized access to lower-income earners. This helps to ameliorate the effects on society but does little to fix the healthcare system itself.

The number of providers limits the healthcare system itself. Given the length of schooling and economic barriers to attending education, the system has an excess demand. The system was not created to handle the number of people trying to use it.

This is where student loan forgiveness comes in.

If we re-think the healthcare model of dumping money into the demand side (ultimately driving up prices for all users) and focus on the supply side, we might be able to achieve something. By increasing providers, increasing medical facilities, and reducing barriers to becoming a healthcare provider, we would allow the market to correct itself.

The economics of a functioning society is tricky, but at their heart, they are about creating an environment where people can prosper.

Forgiving student loan debt would be a way to increase the number of healthcare providers and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.

The same argument could be made for pilots. This year (2022), Travelers have been bombarded with cancellations of flights leaving passengers stranded or vacations canceled.

The problem is a lack of pilots. Many people are critical of the airlines calling on them to hire more pilots. But it isn’t that simple. Becoming an airline pilot is a long and arduous process requiring time and money.

Pilot training is expensive.

Again, student loan forgiveness could be a way to increase the number of pilots and reduce the overall cost of travel.

The same argument can be made for other professions in high demand but with high entry barriers.

Economics of Student Debt

Proponents of student loan forgiveness argue that it will stimulate the economy by freeing up money for people to spend on other things. This is based on the theory of Keynesian economics, which says that consumer spending is the key driver of economic growth. By forgiving $10,000 in student loans, the thinking goes, borrowers will have more money to spend on other things, which will spur economic growth.

Critics of this argument point out that the vast majority of people with student loans are not in a position to make significant purchases like a house or a car. In addition, the money that would be freed up by loan forgiveness is not likely to be spent immediately, but would instead be saved or used to pay down other debts.

There is some evidence to support both sides of this argument. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that people with student debt are more likely to delay major life milestones like buying a house or getting married. On the other hand, another study found that people who had their student loans forgiven were more likely to start businesses and increase their spending.

The jury is still out on whether student loan forgiveness will positively or negatively affect the economy. However, some other interesting aspects of this situation are worth considering.

Odd Timing

The timing of the announcement is curious. The same day the announcement was made, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made a speech highlighting the need to keep interest rates high. The rationale was to curb inflation. Hence the odd timing. Suppose excess cash in an economy is driving up inflation. In that case, the Federal Reserve’s move to increase interest rates is a move to slow spending and reduce the amount of money in an economy. So, on the one hand, the government is announcing a policy to put more cash in Americans’ hands via student loan forgiveness. On the other hand, the Federal Reserve is trying to take away some of that cash by increasing interest rates.

The opposing financial policies could have interesting implications. If the Fed’s policy successfully slows economic growth, it could offset any stimulus effect of the student loan forgiveness. On the other hand, if the Fed’s policy fails and inflation does pick up, the extra cash from loan forgiveness could exacerbate the problem.

The announcement’s timing comes less than three months before the midterm elections. Some have accused the administration of trying to buy votes with this policy. It’s impossible to know the motivations behind the timing of the announcement. However, it is worth noting that this is not the first time a significant policy announcement has been made close to an election.

Final Thought

Student loan forgiveness is a complicated issue with pros and cons on both sides of the argument. However, some other interesting aspects of this situation are worth considering. The announcement timing is curious, to say the least, and could have negative implications for the economy if it is unsuccessful. Additionally, the policy may be an attempt by the administration to buy votes before the midterm elections. Despite these potential issues, student loan forgiveness could have a positive effect on the economy if it is implemented correctly.

Either way, I think it’s time we re-examine society’s goals. If we genuinely want affordable healthcare, let’s look at the supply side and invest there. Putting more strain on a broken system is unlikely to be a successful long-term solution.

Why Panera’s Subscription Didn’t Work For Me

What a great business plan it should have been. Offer a subscription for a good that typically is marked up at 80% as a national average. People would pay the subscription fee, get to the coffee shop, and casually pick up breakfast or a bagel or some other idea while they are already there. Genius.

The backstory

Panera had been advertising its coffee service with a campaign that seemed to attack competitors. Specifically Starbucks and other specialty coffee shops. The ads ran as a series of people tired of waiting in line behind individuals ordering complex drinks. The ads targeted your average coffee drinker. Someone like myself. There is no need for sweeteners, cream, sugar, whip cream, skinny, no-fat, whatever the case. I just want to quickly grab my coffee and kindly exit, or better yet, drive off.

Then, Panera introduced its unlimited coffee subscription plan. Every two hours, you could get a fresh cup of coffee for a monthly fee. Originally priced at $8.99, the math worked out to about 4 cups of coffee. It made sense to me. There was a Panera on my way to work, and I worked an average of 20-days per month in the office. A coffee each day on my way in was well worth the subscription fee.

Things went wrong

At first, the subscription service worked well. I never had to wait for my coffee since it was always freshly brewed and ready to go, and I could enjoy a cup no matter what time of day it was. No more long lines or waiting for my drink; all I had to do was show my type in my phone number, and then my coffee would be ready instantly.

Then, as the pandemic restriction lifted, more people started showing up at the coffee shop.

Remember, Panera had the advertisement about just wanting the coffee.

Things go wrong because the food ordering at Panera is painfully slow, especially if you’re the person that is second in line. Even more frustrating, Panera was on my way to work meant that I was typically time-crunched.

Knowing how slow the process was, If I saw one car in the drive-through, I would bypass Panera altogether. I got stuck behind someone in the drive-through line one too many times. The waiting, just for one simple cup of coffee, seemed foolish.

I’ll go inside

The same thing occurred there for me. Unfortunately, I would seem to always get behind someone in line who wanted to stare at the menu with no situational awareness that people were waiting behind them.

It seemed that nothing I could do quickly got me a simple cup of coffee.

Solution

I get that people are drawn to a restaurant for simple pleasures, such as coffee, and may want an occasional sandwich. However, we should encourage Panera to have a separate pull-off area for people waiting on food orders. Or not allow food orders at the drive-through window.

Perhaps we could someday get a coffee and express lane for beverage service only.

That would relieve some congestion, and I’d gladly pay a slightly higher subscription fee for that convenience.

But until then, I have unsubscribed from Panera’s unlimited coffee service. I still brew my coffee and take it to work with me every day. Occasionally, if there are no cars in the drive-through, I’ll swing through a Panera.

Unfortunately, the lack of convenience in a busy world has prevented me from enjoying another subscription service.

On Evaluating Progress

In ancient Greek philosophy, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a story that describes people who are chained inside a cave and can only see shadows cast on the wall. The shadows represent what they perceive as reality. These people tell each other that these shadows are real things. They believe in them more than anything else. Those outside of the cave, who have seen reality with their own eyes, know better and try to convince those chained inside to come out into the light and see how wrong they are about what is true and what isn’t. But this doesn’t work because those inside don’t want to leave their comfortable place where they feel secure. After all, “they know” everything there is to know while believing nothing could be better than what they have.

The problem with this story is that it’s not just a story. It’s an allegory for the human condition. We are all like the people in the cave, perceiving shadows on the wall and believing them to be reality. And, just like the people in the cave, we don’t want to leave our comfort zone because we’re afraid of what we might find out.

What is real?

The only way to break out of this cycle is to challenge our beliefs and ideas about what is real and what isn’t. We need to be willing to question everything we think we know and be open to the possibility that we could be wrong. Only then can we start to see reality for what it is.

We can question what we think we know by examining our proclamations and asking ourselves if they stand up to scrutiny. If you think back to five years ago, there is a chance that the thoughts and beliefs you held then are no longer valid. You have progressed.

We see this routinely when we think back to our twenties or even teen years. We say things like, “I wish I would have known then what I know now.” We are not the same people we were then. We have a different perspective now.

We change as we experience more of life. Our perspectives change as we learn new information and grow in our understanding. This is progress.

It can be difficult to evaluate our progress because it’s not always easy to see how far we’ve come. We may not realize how much we’ve changed until we look back on our old beliefs and ideas and see how different they are from our current ones. But it’s important to try to do this to see just how much progress we’ve made and how much further we still have to go.

We have a habit as a species of evaluating ourselves from where we think we should be. When we think in this manner, we are thinking from the end backward. Memento Mori, which means “remember you will die” in Latin, is a way of thinking that can help us remember our mortality and appreciate the time we have been given.

It allows us to see that each day is a gift and not a right. It’s a reminder that our time is limited, and we need to make the most of it. It helps us focus on what’s important and not get caught up in things that don’t matter.

Most importantly, in the context of evaluating our progress, it eliminates us from thinking about how much further we have to go. While reading this, you could die from an aneurism where you think your endpoint should suddenly become irrelevant.

Instead, evaluate yourself on how far you have come. Not compared to anyone else. Not compared to where you think you should be. But, actual evidence is proof of the gap between where you started and where you are now.

This is progress. And, it’s the only thing that matters.

If you feel stuck or like you’re not making the progress you want to be, take a step back and look at how far you’ve come. You’ll be surprised by just how much progress you have made. And once you see it, you can use it as motivation to keep going.

On Favorite Days and Challenges

I’m sure many things made up your favorite day from the past week, but I’ll bet one of them was an activity that stuck out above the rest. Think about what activities come to mind when thinking back on a great time in the past week.

Your favorite activity from the past week was probably something that challenged you and made you feel good. Maybe you rode your bike for the first time in years or cooked a complicated recipe from scratch. Whatever it was, it gave you a sense of accomplishment and made you feel good about yourself. And that’s precisely what we need to do more to improve ourselves.

We need to be challenged.

Too often, we get stuck In the game of complacency. We sit around waiting for things to happen to us rather than actively pursuing the life we want to live. We become content with just getting by, and our days start to blur together into one big, indistinguishable mass. But if we’re going to live our best lives truly, we need to find ways to regularly push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we need to put ourselves in danger or do something that makes us unhappy. But it does mean that we should challenge ourselves intellectually, physically, and emotionally on a regular basis. By doing so, we keep ourselves sharp and prevent ourselves from becoming stagnant.

As Marcus Aurelius pointed out, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” In other words, it’s far better to challenge ourselves and fail than it is to play it safe and never truly experience life.

When was the last time you felt happy?

Ask yourself an honest question. When was the last time you felt happy?

Chances are, it was during some period of growth. The combination of humility and eagerness to learn allowed you to accomplish something great, and in the process, you found joy.

Humility is needed to acknowledge we are still a work in progress. Eagerness to learn is needed to improve upon our position continually. The key is not to dwell or obsess about becoming happy. Arthur Schopenhauer said it best:

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”

Focus on the process, not the result.

The problem with constantly seeking out new challenges is that we can become so focused on the outcome that we forget to enjoy the journey. We get so caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the view along the way. We become fixated on summiting the mountain instead of enjoying the climb.

It’s important to remember that life is a journey, not a destination. The goal is to enjoy the ride, not just arrive at the finish line. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Our natural tendency is to focus on what lies ahead, which can often lead to anxiety and stress.

It’s not about winning or losing.

In our culture, we tend to see life as a competition. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others and striving to be the best. We keep score of our successes and failures, and we define ourselves by our victories and defeats.

But what if we stopped seeing life as a competition? What if we stopped trying to win or lose and just focused on enjoying the game? Would we be happier? Would we be less stressed? I think the answer is yes.

Growth is not a straight line. It’s full of zig-zags and starts and stops. But if we want to experience true happiness, we need to be okay with embracing the chaos.