Thursday, December 31, 2009

I am Going to Usher in the New Decade with Happiness

This year (and this decade) has been great in a lot of ways. I've been surprised at some of the opportunities and successes that have come my way. But some of these successes have come with a price, especially this year. For instance, this year my level of happiness kind of crashed and burned. Now it's time for me to come around and get it back.

Happiness seems like such an elusive term, but there are some things I can do to ensure my happiness meter goes up. The first key is to not be overly busy. Having so much on my plate this year has frustrated both my ability and desire to serve people. You recall the story of the Good Samaritan? I never used to relate to the passersby in the parable. I used to think, "Who are these guys?? Why don't they just help the poor wounded traveler?" Now, I completely relate to them--they were probably really busy. I sometimes feel like I embody the Levite and priest quite well; wrapped up in my own affairs and not looking outside myself to help others in need. And when I do serve, I often times do it reluctantly--either checking the clock and preoccupied with what I need to do next. So I want to change that this year. I need simplify my life because the very last thing I want is to put a damper on my relationship to people around me.

The next key is to do some things that I don't want to do. This may seem counter-intuitive, but some of my happier moments in life (looking back) has involved me getting outside my comfort zone. I'm beginning to see that there are things that I naturally don't want to do, but when I do them anyways, it makes me happier. For example, if I wake up tired, and it's cold and dark outside, when I push away my natural tendencies and go for a run anyway, I feel great afterwards. But I am not so much referring to overcoming my physical comfort zone. Rather I am referring to my social and spiritual comfort zones. My body doesn't always correctly forecast what I want and need. Sometimes I need to do things that are counter-intuitive in the short-term, but very wise in the long-term.

Finally, there's a scripture in the book of Proverbs:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
I've become quite the independent person. But lately I have realized two things: I cannot do it all, and I don't want to do it all. My goal is to become more dependent on the Lord. I want to enter into more of a partnership with Him, rather than putting all of life's burdens on my shoulders.

So there you have it. 2010 is going to be one fetching good year. Good Samaritan, mind over matter, and Proverbs. Happy New Year's to all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Brief Moment of Fame Following a Tragedy in Orem

Today was an interesting day and now I am famous all across Utah. Here is how it all went down.

My brother Graden came to visit with news that he had caught on camera the entire life cycle of a house catching on fire. While driving along, he saw firetrucks approaching so he pulled off to the side of the road. Then he noticed that the house across the street was smoking. He pulled out his camcorder and started filming. His video caught in high definition flames enveloping the house. It is a really sad story for the family, who lost their house. But Graden was in the right time and the right place to document this happening.

Being the entrepreneur that he is, Graden wanted to see if any of the news stations would like his footage. We started calling and we found instant interest. The news stations had arrived too late to the doused house to record anything interesting. They gladly agreed to accept the high quality video and credit my brother. The file was quite large (500 mb) so I had to work some magic to make it available for download on my server personal server.

A couple hours later, on the 6 o'clock news, KUTV and KSL both showed Graden's video. KUTV properly gave the credit to the video to Graden, but KSL, for some reason, credited the video to me. Later that night, the video was featured on the front page of KSL's website.

It is remarkable that my brother and I shaped the way that news was presented to Utah today. Without Graden's graphic footage and his willingness to share, the story might not have made such headlines. This is the direction that news will go in the future: citizen's media. The masses providing the masses with news. Sure, we will still need aggregators of news, but having a news agency gather all relevant news will soon be a thing of the past. News aggregators will have to inevitably rely on the masses to provide them with news. This will be only easier to accomplish with ubiquity in cell phones, cameras, and internet.

To see the video uncut, check it out on Youtube here. The flames get really big. Also, if you want to see me get credited on KSL for something I did not do, check it out on KSL's website.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas in the USA

I am the oldest in my family, which means that growing up I was a trailblazer. I accomplished some good things and grew in areas that my brothers and sister would later follow. I am pretty sure, however, that my dad is most proud of me for one thing: my ability to sit down and enjoy a football game. Obviously it would be frustrating for an avid football fan such as my dad to have kids that don't share in his football appreciation. But my dad has told me on many occasions that is precisely his situation: kids for the most part who are apathetic to football. This may seem strange, but the ability to like watching football is something that my dad never fails to praise me on.

On that note, I was watching the last part of the Army v. Navy game last night. Navy, coming as little surprise, won the game. Following the post-game celebrations, Navy's coach was interviewed about what this game meant to him. He actually became really emotional at that point. He was proud of the players for both schools. He added that many of them would be sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight in wars and risk their lives. He downplayed his victory that day as "only a football game." Then the interview concluded. It was a sobering response, and a topic that I probably don't think enough about! We have such brave men and women who are protecting our country. They are amazing and I hope that they feel it.

This Christmas season, many thousands of troops are overseas and unable to spend time with their family and friends. I ran across a great idea that Xerox is sponsoring. It's called You create a card on this website and Xerox will actually print out and send the card to someone in the armed forces. Making the card can literally take 10 seconds and will most likely lift someone's spirits to know that the sacrifices they are going through are not going unnoticed.

Hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!