Note from Steve: There are three primary subjects you'll find me writing about:
1. The articles tagged as "life strategy" provide big picture principles you can apply to your life, no matter who you are - daily habits to upgrade your mental performance, interpersonal relationship strategies, and various other things I learn as a result of reading, experimenting, and spending time with people smarter than me.
2. It's probably self-evident what the "strength training" articles are about, so I won't go into detail there.
3. But some of you may wonder what the "life's bigger picture" articles encompass, and why I'm choosing to write about such things. Below I've provided what I hope you'll find to be a clear answer to that question.
Thinking Big Picture
Many of us pride ourselves in thinking "big picture" in order to strategize and succeed within the realms of business, athletics, personal relationships.
But if we are truly honest with ourselves, what could be more big picture than life itself? What could be more big picture, and therefore more important, than the questions of what the world is for, what is wrong with it (if anything), and what is our purpose, if we even have one?
Many individuals tend to shy away from discussing these topics, for two reasons. First, these questions are often viewed as unwelcome smelling salts: they wake us up from the perpetual state of "work and play" we immerse ourselves in. We prefer to remain in the familiar activities of work, email, Instagram, and Google, rather than be reminded of our mortality and face the question of what is really the reason, or the ultimate purpose, for doing the things that we do?
Second, our answers to these questions involve extremely personal and deep-seated beliefs about the nature of things. This is as true for the secular skeptic as it is for the religious fanatic. As a result, people can find it difficult to have objective discussions without becoming hostile, or uncomfortable at best.
However, I think it's possible to have straightforward dialogues in an understanding and loving manner, in order to learn from one another and learn more about the world. And if I may be so bold, sweeping the big questions under the rug and pretending they don't matter, is ultimately not a very rational way to live.
Why Does It Matter?
In his wonderful book, A Brief History of Thought, the French philosopher, Luc Ferry, discusses wise men of antiquity who asserted that we not think about death, the meaning of life, or other heavy topics, because life is ultimately meaningless and when we die we won't be around to worry about such matters, so instead we should simply "eat, drink, and be merry."
Ferry responds by saying that line of reasoning is "too brutal to be honest." In other words: no one really believes, deep down in their hearts, that life is truly meaningless and that death is a pointless problem to worry about. Humans can't live without the conviction that some things are more worth doing than others, or knowing there is a purpose to their lives. In fact, humans are completely distinct from animals in that we're the only creatures aware of our limits (i.e. knowing someday we and our loved ones will die), and thus "cannot prevent himself from thinking about this absurd state of affairs." Hence the necessity of philosophy and the reason why so many religions have been birthed over time.
This may sound morbid, but it doesn't need to be. Ferry (who's an atheist) argues - and I agree with him - that we do need to have an answer to the big questions, in order to live well, freely, and capable of joy.
A Little History
For most of my life, I've been a Christian. That being said, I've always enjoyed my conversations with people of different belief systems.
And as far as secular doubters and skeptics are concerned, I'm continually grateful for the logical arguments and questions they bring to the table. I deeply value the perspectives of those with a scientific mindset - there is much to be learned from science, and we'd be remiss to ignore what it teaches us about the world and the humble approach to learning and curiosity that it fosters.
Over the past couple years, I went through a number of personal experiences that caused me to vigorously question everything I've believed for so long. I seriously doubted everything I thought to be true about Jesus and the Bible. This lead me to examine the claims of Christianity with a fresh lens and with a greater level of inspection. I also continued to dialogue with my nonbelieving friends, in order to maintain a blend of varying perspectives.
This experience gave me a much deeper understanding and appreciation for what goes on in the mind of the honest skeptic, as I "became one" myself. I felt what it was like to doubt, and to even be enraged by some of the claims of Jesus. And although I emerged from the experience with a richer and more thorough understanding of Jesus and the genuine message of the gospel, and discovered just how intellectually credible it is, I still have doubts on a regular basis. But doubt, as I've learned, isn't necessarily a bad thing: while there's certainly danger in being an interminable skeptic, doubt can play a major role in learning more about your personal web of beliefs, along with the world as a whole.
Who Are These Particular Writings For?
Three different types of people:
Maria Popova, when asked for advice on keeping a blog, she responded, "the counterintuitive, but necessary thing to keep in mind when creating something meaningful and fulfilling, is to write for yourself, and to write about what enthuses you rather than what you think others necessarily want to hear.....if you try to write for an 'audience,' and try to predict what others want to hear and pretzel yourself to fit those expectations, then you've lost the long game....you'll begin to begrudge your work and become embittered by it, and there's really nothing less pleasurable than reading embittered writing."
Similarly, Seth Godin said to "write about what gets you out of bed in the morning....if you're blogging to generate a full-time income, then you don't have a passion, you have a job."
So, I hope you won't fault me for writing about what truly interests and excites me :)
2. Fellow doubters and skeptics.
I've grown increasingly less credulous over the years, and therefore have become much more appreciative and empathetic of those who lean toward skepticism and feel there isn't enough evidence to believe things we can't prove empirically. So, some of these writings will be geared toward:
a) people who may consider themselves secular or skeptical, but have an interest in exploring things of a spiritual nature.
b) those who consider themselves Christian, but have begun to doubt their beliefs. As I've opened up about my personal doubts over the last couple years, I've met an increasing number of people in the church (and those who have left the church) who say, "Hey, me too. I doubt as well but have never really felt had someone I could talk to about it."
To an extent, we're all doubters and skeptics - it's just the degree and target of the skepticism that varies from person to person.
3. Other Christians
After all, I am a Christian, and will soon be serving as a lay elder in my local church. So some of these writings are a way for me to share ideas with those in my church and with other Christians around the world.
Just as fitness professionals write to fitness professionals, and business folks write to other business people, and sports fanatics write to other sports fans, I'm doing the same thing with these particular writings.
Hopefully the information above provided clarity as to why I'm including such topics on this site.
I realize that by doing so, I'm muddying the waters a bit, whereas conventional business wisdom would tell me to just pick one topic and make that my "niche," per se. But I'm not writing to make a living: I'm simply writing to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) about the things I'm passionate about, and to (hopefully) develop a community of people who enjoy learning and sharing ideas back and forth.
I'm currently part of a book club with people of various belief systems, and I have enjoyed that so much that I decided to try and recreate that atmosphere, but on a larger scale, through the wonderful realm of technology.
I realize that subjects of this nature are not going to resonate with everybody. If that's you, no harm no foul, and if you just want to read the writings on general life strategy and strength training, then please feel free.
I don't have all the answers. In fact, I still have loads to learn. I'm just sharing what I've learned thus far, and I gladly welcome anyone who wants to share in the journey.