A Trip to the DMV

Discomfort hung heavily in the air as I quickly found my seat against the back wall of the large and very open room. A slew of people sat in silence, eagerly, yet patiently waiting for their name to be called to end their misery.
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“This is a great people-watching spot.” I thought as I glanced to my right. An attractive 20-something woman was sitting there looking slightly perturbed, very likely due to the elderly lady seated next to her who was coughing every minute or so. “I don’t have a cold, just a chronic cough” she insisted. I held back a chuckle.
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To my left, a mother and 3 daughters, one of whom was there to get her first “official” license.
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A solid 90% of the occupants of this tortuously silent building were 60+. “What a true representation of Maine” I responded to that observation.

I shot my gaze forward, to the two very chatty ladies running the show. They seemed to be getting the job done fast enough. “Just call my name” I thought.

An acquaintance of mine walked in and sat next to me, making it a bit more comfortable having a familiar face in the sea of strangers around me. After a polite greeting and an exchange of “How have you been?” ‘s, we too sat in silence.

It wasn’t too long after that a guy walks in the room and finds a seat next to us. It was then that he did the unthinkable, something you should never do in a group of silent strangers. He opened his mouth… and spoke. He kept trying to converse with my buddy, but he wouldn’t have it. He quickly whipped out his phone and played a few levels of Candy Crush. “Smart thinking my friend, smart thinking.” I smiled.
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One half hour goes by, not a minute where the elderly woman on my right hasn’t gifted us with tiny molecules of mucus and possible disease and the man to my left hasn’t let out a very dramatic sigh and/or words in hopes of a conversation.

I’m a very patient person and certainly not violent, but after a period of time I was beginning to get quite restless. I really wanted to look that guy in the face and ask why, at his age, he hasn’t learned the gift of silence and politeness. Adult ADHD? I dont know, I just couldn’t stand hearing his sighs of negativity.

The young guy who signed up just before me was called, and my eyes lit up. I turn to my buddy and tell him, “We’re up next.” He looked quite relieved as well, presumably knowing that he wouldn’t have to sit next to Negative Newman for much longer.

One of the boss ladies stood up. “This is it, Jake.” my buddy says.
“Let’s hope so.”
“3..2..1” he starts counting down. I found it hilarious. After a flip of a page, the lady says George? No one stood up. Anna? Again, not a stand was taken.
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Jake?

As I stood up triumphantly, “Sweet Victory” started playing as I begin walking up to the boss lady in slow motion, while looking Jack Reacher cool in my leather jacket. The elderly people clapped and cried, my buddy rooted me on as I stopped at the attractive, now disease-ridden young lady, stood her up, swept her off her feet and planted a kiss right on her.

I finish my renewal in no more than 5 minutes, now sporting a brand new, much less murdery picture of myself. As I walk out the door, I nod to my buddy, about to head up for his turn to get out of there.

Even in situations like sitting at the DMV, it’s important to look around you and enjoy yourself. Unless of course you are Negative Newton. Please go home Negative Newton before I verbally abuse you.

And in the words of my DMV buddy, “Slow and Steady wins the race.”
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The Meaning of TPoB

Here we are on Day 3 of The Daily Post’s “Zero to Hero” challenge and today’s goal is to post about the topic that was on your mind when you originally created your account and made the commitment to blog.
zero-to-heroThe Back Story
I have already mentioned how important it is to me to write down my thoughts, so it may not come as a surprise to you that that is a major reason I decided to start blogging. In the past, I have had strong feelings about certain things, wrote them down on a scrap piece of paper and that was the end of it. I have periodically attempted to keep a journal but it never took long for me to come to the conclusion that it was pointless to keep all of these thoughts to myself. I began finding myself writing like I was speaking to other people and not to myself. Sure, you can interpret that as being self-absorbed but I view it as a need to connect with people.
Why “The Pursuit of Betterment”?
Honestly, when it hit me to create a WordPress account, I was listening to Kid Cudi and had just finished “Pursuit of Happiness” Combining the title with one of my goals in life, to better myself in at least one way each and every day, I came up with TPoB. Simple I know, but I loved it and it stuck instantly. I have had a strong belief for about a year now that the best way to find out what you are supposed to do with your life is to not only identify your passions, but combine them in a way that allows them to build off from one another. In my case, I love music, writing and people. What better way to combine these than to start a blog?
downloadWhat it Means to You
As much or as little as you want it to. I’m looking to increase my skills in writing and if along the way I pick up some new like-minded friends, fantastic! I strongly believe that empowering others is a sure-fire way to empower yourself and seeing other people smile, especially because of me, puts a smile right back on my face.
3What You Can Expect
As the weeks go by, I am perfecting the flow of this blog and making all operations run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. On my journeys around the site and as I teach myself the ins and outs of blogging, you will see this site become more and more “official” and consistent. I strive to make this experience as enjoyable as possible and I feel that if you are taking the time to stop in on a relatively constant basis, I should put in the work to please you to the best of my ability. I’m very open to suggestions, so if you ever feel like tossing a tip my way, check out the “Contact Me” page to get in touch with me and to shoot me some knowledge.

A deep thank you from the bottom of my heart to not only my new fans but the ones who have supported me from Day 1 in my journey to better myself and to get others thinking about what matters. 

Social Technology: Part 4 – The Future

Let me begin tonight’s post by saying, if you haven’t read Part 1, 2 or 3, please do so before continuing!

In previous posts of this series, I have talked an awful lot about social technology in relation to current generations and past generations, but I have yet to touch upon the potential future if trends continue. After researching the topic, it is clear to me that while social technology does a lot of good, it is also causing some very negative effects on us as a society. If trends continue, one can only wonder what the future will hold…

Your grandchildren Michael and Andrea are sitting in their iChairs when all of a sudden Andrea experiences some discomfort in her lower back.
“Siri” she says in an agitated manner, “set firmness to 75”
“Acknowledged” The chair adjusts in 3 seconds.
“This iChair takes way too long to adjust, Michael. You should have told Mom to buy me the iChairS for Christmas.” Michael rolls his eyes. He is using his new Google Glass 3 to search for new hiking gear.
“What do you think about these?” Michael asks Andrea as he jerks his head suddenly in Andreas direction, prompting his view to show up on Andrea’s screen.
” Those look great, but have pretty bad reviews, how about these?” Andrea repeats the motion.
“Guess I’ll try them both. Send both. Confirm”
30 minutes later, a thud is heard at the doorstep as Michael’s package has arrived thanks to Amazon Prime Air.
“About freaking time. I just about keeled over with boredom from waiting so long!” Michael whined. He proceeded to try on both pairs of boots, decided on one, and sent the other pair back with the Amazon drone.

Back away slowly kids
Back away slowly kids

This is a very realistic scenario! This technology will make comfort and purchases easier than ever to manage and take hardly any time at all… but the children of that generation will never know what it is like to have to wait 2-5 days (or more) for a package to arrive at your doorstep. This is an inevitable occurrence among all generations though, so it’s up to us to instill modesty into our children and keep them humble by remembering the past.

Nope, not scary or anything
Nope, not scary or anything

I would not be surprised if “hanging out” with friends will eventually turn into teens on video chats like Google Hangout in their rooms all day. Physical Interactivity will become a thing of the past, or at least you will begin to see much less of it! With all of this ease-of-use technology being released in the coming years, the humans from Wall-E come to mind.

Let's not let it get THIS bad, eh?
Let’s not let it get THIS bad, eh?

No one wants a robot apocalypse. There would be all kinds of violence and shooting and death and…okay that sounds kind of cool, but let’s keep hoping for our apocalypse to come with zombies and not machines. Zombies are much easier to kill. But then again….

Brilliant
Brilliant

This has been a very fun series to conceptualize! What are your thought on the future and what it may hold for us and our children?

Letter from the Editor 01/03/14

Buenas Noches, Pursuiters!

Today has been a fantastic and progressive day for me both personally and with this blog. I am actively taking part in The Daily Post‘s “Zero to Hero” challenge and today I reformatted my “About” page and created a “Contact Me” page , so I am feeling really good about that!

My very good friend from college, Brittany, just started her own blog here on WordPress titled “Standing Inside the Fire“, and let me tell you her first post is amazing! But don’t just take my word for it, check it out!

I have also made the decision to stop posting every weekday and instead focus on weekly/biweekly articles. The way I have it set up now, I’m focusing on quantity over quality. In my mindset of being dedicated to bringing you a fresh post every weekday, I have been neglecting to bring strong and consistent posts. In order for me to do my very best for you, I need to be taking more time to refine my posts and feel proud of each and every one before I hit that publish button. You will still see smaller posts here and there, but the larger, more in-depth articles are going to be coming once or twice a week. Please bear with me as I perfect the flow of the blog to bring you posts at maximum quality, consistency and efficiency.

I want nothing more than for this blog to be the absolute best it can be, for your sake and for mine. Thank you for being a part of this.

Jake

Social Technology: Part 3 – A Deeper Look

Good evening Pursuiters! Before I start with the next entry in the Social Technology series, I’d like to take the time and ask your opinion on my approach to this blog. Check out the fanpage on Facebook for more information.

Tonight’s post is the third addition to the series, A Deeper Look. In Part 1, some cons of social technology were mentioned. In Part 2, the potential of it, as well as the importance of networking were mentioned. Now it’s time to take a step back and combine both the pros and the cons and take a look at the social life of the past to put it all in perspective, as well as some more effects to consider.

After I got home from work tonight, I sat down in the living room and struck up a conversation with my Mom about social technology and asked her what it was like when she was a child when she wanted to hang out with friends. What she said completely validated a thought I had earlier, and that was that when our parents were children, they had to have a lot more planning than we did. (and certainly more than the kids ten years younger than us do!) They didn’t have cell phones, computers or any other source of instant communication that we grew up with. Can you imagine having to call up a friend on their home phone? Or calling up your girlfriend praying to God that her Dad doesn’t pick up? These are just a few of the problems that we did not have to deal with!
guy-yelling-on-phone2My Mom is currently attending college for Education and in the conversation we were having she went on to say how surprised she was that her classmates will do their schoolwork the day it is due. Now, this didn’t surprise me at all, as I was hugely guilty of this too. I brought up that it’s not procrastination that has increased, it’s the availability of resources, allowing procrastination to thrive and tempt people more than ever. It’s so easy to half-ass an essay now that we all have laptops glued to our bodies practically 24/7 and can type much faster than most people could ever dream of writing.
laptops-for-studentsI also did a little bit of research and came across this article that brought up some fantastic points:
There are (at least) 4 negative side effects of technology
1) Elevated Exasperation
2) Deteriorated Patience
3) Declining Writing Skills
4) Lack of Physical Interactivity.

Elevated Exasperation
I chuckled when I read this part of the article, as a few people came to mind immediately. I feel that the media that we have integrated in our lives now greatly increase the stress put upon us because we are constantly engaged in activity. Video games were mentioned in the article and that is a HUGE contributor of stress! It’s something that gamers absolutely hate to hear and they flat out refuse this, but it really is true.. and I can say it because I am one of them! Sure you’re having fun, but inside you are stressing out about being the best, or winning, or being as efficient as possible, so when anything in the real world comes up you tend to get frustrated. (to varying degrees)

I can’t begin to comprehend how many games I’ve gone into where people just can’t take anything casually! I’ve reached the point in my life where when I game, it’s few and far between and it is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people get emotional over something so meaningless. I have been successfully turning away from time-wasters and putting my focus on productive tasks, like this blog which I am really starting to love. I am well aware that productivity is relative, what is meaningless to one holds value to the next, that being said.
16274Deteriorated Patience
Another strong point. Instant gratification is so abundant now, that whenever anyone has to wait for anything they get all whiny! Oh no, my internet page is taking longer than 2 seconds to load. Dude! You were born into a period of time when you, unlike any other generation in existence, have access to an infinite amount of information and you’re complaining about it’s speed while you’re sitting there typing and clicking? Come on, show some gratitude.

This is certainly not limited to the internet. You can see this in action in many situations. You know what’s funny? When the guy behind you in the fast food line honks because he is impatient. Sometimes I just want to roll down my window, look them dead in the eye with a straight face and flip them off. I’d rather not get shot though.
5965876_700bDeclining Writing Skills
This is the only point where I didn’t feel too strongly with. Sure, you got your people who are going to type “u” and other slang words into a messager service, but for the most part I feel like we know the difference between speaking in an educated manner and speaking to our friends. This post also mentions the fact that we do not know how to write in cursive. I don’t know about you, but I learned cursive in fourth grade. I never use it, but I could still write in it if I need to, but come on… who needs to write in cursive anymore, really?
Dumb-Face-Computer-Guy1Lack of Physical Interactivity
This is something I feel strongly about and covered in Part 1, to a much higher degree than I originally planned. Relying on digital means of communication is causing people to completely miss out on things like body language and tone which is a MAJOR part of communication! Unfortunately, this is probably not going to change, and will ultimately get worse…
awkward-friendship-meetingSo what are your thoughts on this piece? Do you agree or disagree with the article and/or my opinion?

Tomorrow will be the final piece of this series, where we will take a look at the possibilities of the world of tomorrow if these trends continue. (Should be fun!)

Social Technology: Part 2 – Networking

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everybody had a fun and safe New Year’s Eve. Tonight I will be continuing my Social Technology series with Part 2 – Networking.15732588-happy-new-year-2014-message-over-black-backgroundNow that we learned some downsides of social technology, let’s take a moment to focus in on the greatness of it. As I mentioned in my previous post, never before has a generation been so connected to one another. Why is it that we all share this common bit of knowledge but so few of us take advantage of this amazing gift? Networking is a major part of life in every aspect, as other people play a humongous part in our day-to-day lives (Whether we want to believe this or not!)
digital-handshakeFacebook is essentially a giant community of people pulled from all areas of the world and from all walks of life, yet the majority of them see it as a mere tool for keeping in touch with friends. It has so much more capability that what we are using it for! You could grow your business, start a cause, or create a community in less than an hour. You can make your voice heard in a way unlike any other mode of communication across the timeline of humanity!
megaphone-guyIt seems to me like a lot of people hold back their thoughts and ideas, passing them off as unimportant and that no one would care. An amazing thing happens when you make yourself heard.. like-minded people attract to you and suddenly you are surrounded by people who understand where you are coming from and who are supportive of your thoughts and ideas. There is nothing more motivational than that! People are too afraid to put value in themselves, or genuinely feel that they are unimportant but those who feel that way should take a step back and re-evaluate the world around them and know that they are important.

bb7Looking at this potential from a business perspective, there is no better way to get a fresh market than by creating a social media profile. It’s insane to think that networking in social media has grown so much in businesses both big and small in less than decade. In fact, there are businesses specifically created to assist companies in branding themselves through sites like Facebook and Twitter. All it takes is a simple “like” or “follow” and one potential customer is going to be looking at your business posts for years to come. The best part? It’s completely free! (Though companies can pay Facebook to sponsor them.
Social-Media-Business-AuditingAll of that aside, social media is always going to be most used as a simple connection between you and the people you care about. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s absolutely incredible how easy it is to send a message to anyone in our lives without worry or hassle and we need to consider ourselves lucky to be born in a time when this kind of communication is available… and remember to never take it for granted!
increases-friendsWhat are your thoughts on social media and how we implement it in our day-to-day lives? Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re thinking!

Social Technology: Part 1

Can you imagine having to wait a day or more to talk to a friend or family member? It’s now easier than ever to strike up a conversation with anyone at any time thanks to modern technology. Social media and cell phones have made it possible to communicate with anyone in an instant and on the surface this seems to be nothing but a good thing, but is it possible that these advances have done more bad than good? Has growing up being constantly connected to everyone around us made us take them for granted?
imagesThe other day I was visiting some friends and during my visit, one of them was sitting down and sending out belated Christmas cards. As she was writing in the addresses for all these people, she questioned why we still write out cards every year. She was saying this sarcastically of course, but it did get me thinking of the value of a meaningful message; One that takes more than ten seconds and requires more effort than a few taps of our thumbs.
drawn_christmas_cardWe still value a nice handwritten note, and why? Because it means whoever wrote it took the time to carefully write out their thoughts the old fashioned way, slow and steady. It means they took the effort of taking their time writing, finding an envelope and stamp, and going out to mail it. To some, this is outdated and pointless, but to anyone that is the least bit sentimental, it means a hell of a lot more than a text or a Facebook message.
letter_writingSpeaking of Facebook, let’s take the focus off from snail mail and onto social media. I’m on Facebook, you’re on Facebook, our grandmothers are on Facebook..hell, more than likely your place of business is on Facebook. It’s everywhere now and it is here to stay. And what’s not to love? It’s a social hub that connects you to everyone and everything that you know and love.. but that is exactly where it is destructive. With our ability to stay in constant communication with other people, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made us taken peoples’ availability for granted and have made conversation much less meaningful. Sometimes I find myself at a loss for words when I run into someone I haven’t seen in awhile because either A) I already know how they’ve been thanks to the internet, or B) We’ve already chatted so much online that now when conversation really matters in person, we have nothing left to say.
169502-1ozloe1387544313They say body language is something like 60-80% of conversation and that’s all lost when we talk to people solely through social media. Like all things, conversing through social media should be in moderation. Don’t forget to spend time in person with people too when you can, and try not to take anyone’s time for granted!

This is one of many segments on social technology I will be writing about this week, so stay tuned for more!

Game-Changing Opportunity

It used to be commonplace for me to get a call on my phone or a message on Facebook from a group of my friends to come over for a game night. We would play a bunch of board games, with some video games thrown in for fun. One of our favorite board games to play was Upwords, a game very similar to Scrabble. One day I laid down a 7 letter word and shouted “Gamechanger!” Ever since, that has been a common word/inside joke that we all say for small moments in our lives that bring change. Gamechangers come in all shapes and sizes, but today I wanted to focus on the major changes in your life that, once they occur, you immediately feel it inside and the choice is yours to make; Will you make a significant change/take a risk in your life and step out of your comfort zone of routine for a chance for yourself to grow?IMG_2648
We have all been in that position before: We get invited to a party with hardly anyone you know; We have the opportunity to change careers to better accommodate our passions; etc.  Some of these situations are more dire and require a faster response, but all are important to the betterment of yourself. Usually, the strongest signal of a major decision is that “gut feeling” you get in the pit of your stomach. Now, this is highly dependent on the situation, but in most cases, go with it! This is a common theme in my posts, but stepping outside your comfort zone is absolutely essential for personal growth.
Comfort-Zone
I have had a handful of opportunities like that in my past where I just instantly became uncomfortable and back then, my automatic response was to hop back in my bubble and turn down everything that came my way. I would find excuses almost as easily as I could tell truths because it was so common in my life. To me, I didn’t have the mentality I do now and I certainly was not thinking on a large-scale, self-growth perspective. It wasn’t until I turned about 19 that I decided to start saying yes and expanding my horizons beyond the small circle of people/places that were familiar to me. This was a fantastic time in my life and I experienced a lot of new things and opened my mind by starting to say yes and agreeing to opportunity.
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It wasn’t long after this time in my life that I stumbled upon my favorite non-relationship quote of all time by Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness; and many people need it solely on these accounts. Broad, Wholesome, Charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” It was no coincidence that this mentality crept into my life at this turning point. The way I interpreted it, the quote works well beyond traveling the world. The people we meet, places we go, things we see, life we experience… all these things can apply to this state of mind.
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Do yourself a favor: Next time you have one of those moments, remind yourself that what you are feeling is a natural resistance to change, but change is exactly what you need to experience your dreams and for your life to fall into place exactly how you want it to. Positive thinking and a confident attitude will help you say yes and to open new doors so you will eventually expand your mind to the point where change is accepted, and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing.

Regrets

What’s up people? I hope everyone had a great Christmas and got to spend a lot of time with friends and family. With 2013 coming to an end, I hope everyone takes the time to identify ways to make 2014 even better. I am bound and determined to make 2014 the best year I’ve ever had. Writing is something that I’ve always loved doing and something I’ve always had a knack for so I am extremely happy I now have this as a medium to both express myself and improve on my passion. I’d also like to take this time to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to check up on my posts. I have heard a lot of positive feedback and it makes me feel fantastic to know how many people are supportive of what I am doing. Together we can ensure 2014 will make The Pursuit of Betterment explode. I’d love to see this get huge!

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking hard about what my next post was going to be about. I had a bunch of concepts floating around in my head, but only one in particular kept popping up and that was the topic of living with regret. On several occasions and among a handful of friends, the conversations we had kept ending up going towards the topic of regret. Whether or not this was a subconscious thing that I did, I’m not sure, but I do have plenty of buddies who aren’t afraid to get real.

I used to be one of those people who attempted to follow the ever popular “no regrets” lifestyle. It was very hard because, though most of my life I have done everything by the book, there have been a handful of choices I have made and actions I have taken that have proven to negatively effect both myself and others around me. Sure, there have been other not-so-bad mistakes that ultimately did not altar my timeline or hurt anyone else that is more than acceptable to shake off, but everyone has those few (or more, for some of us) mistakes that are too heavy to not regret.

Recently I came across an article (or a video, I sadly cannot remember) that very briefly mentioned regret and how you would have to be a jerk to not regret some things. I feel that is definitely true! I’ve hurt people, betrayed their trust and have lost friendships… there’s no way I’m going to just toss those decisions in the “I don’t care, it made me who I am today” bin. While I have already discussed the importance of not dwelling on the past, it’s always beneficial to remember the mistakes you made so that history does not repeat itself.

I feel like many of the people who are living the “no regrets” lifestyle are looking for an excuse for their behavior, rather than standing up, being a good person and admitting fault. It could be that they have never made a mistake of that caliber but we are all human, right? Who am I kidding, we are living in the generation of YOLO (though thankfully, that seems to be fading) where we seem to have skewed the meaning from “live life to it’s fullest” to “Let’s do dumb things because we’re young and we can, and it’s okay because Drake”

Regret is a perfectly natural response to our mistakes in life and no one is immune from it. Be a better person and admit when you do something wrong, and make your decisions wisely, with both yours and others well beings in mind. Opportunities hit you all the time in life, and some are so strong you know they’re life-altering the moment you’re faced with the choice to go through with it or not… but that is tomorrows post.

regret

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas

Hey guys, Merry Christmas Eve Eve! No article tonight, but I wrote a poem to get you thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy :)

It was the night before the night before Christmas
And all through the stores
All the slackers were shopping
For the gifts their kids asked for
WalMart was packed
Target was a mess
Every place that they went
Gave them more and more stress
The best deals were sold out
The TV’s missing too
“Should have shopped on Black Friday”
Were the thoughts of a few
Two fathers were betting
Pitting son against son
To see who would come out
With the last Xbox One
So much hustle and bustle
Not using brains over braun
There would be far less blood
If they had just used Amazon
But maybe that’s what Christmas is about
Who cares what is “right”
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good fight

– Commercialism.

Inspiration. Motivation. Critical Thinking.

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