05 May 2017

[The Strenuous Life] The Strenuous Life

TLDR: This post is about a new self-improvement platform I’m beta testing called ‘The Strenuous Life’; if that is of no interest to you, then what do you think of this?. The bottom line is that you can safely ignore posts with [The Strenuous Life] prefixed to the title, unless you want a glimpse into some of the stuff I’m learning in my spare time.
“Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is a need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character – the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak ofa man’s force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor.” - Theodore Roosevelt (Citizenship in a Republic)
I made my first (cringe-inducing) post on this blog a little under seven years ago. I probably could not have fully expressed my reasons at the time, but the creation of a new blog was just a minor component of a larger effort of self-improvement that began when I graduated high school.

PICTURED: Awkward Chubby Nerd

Don’t get me wrong – I actually had a great time being an awkward chubby nerd, and I spent many an enjoyable afternoon playing Halo 2, Magic, and/or Dungeons and Dragons instead of doing whatever it was the cool kids did
 (Drinking? Going to pep rallies? Hanging out at the pep rally drinking and singing show tunes?).

PICTURED: Cool Kids, probably

But I certainly wasn’t living my best of all possible lives – and I knew it. The main reason I was so eager to graduate early was because going to university represented an opportunity to re-invent myself, and start becoming the man I wanted to be.

PICTURED: The Man I Want to Be

I discovered the Art of Manliness blog soon after I arrived at uni, and have been following it ever since. It provides consistently high quality content on a wide range of topics, which almost always correlates well with my own self-improvement goals. Recently Brett McKay, the founder of AoM, launched a new project called ‘The Strenuous Life’; it’s a sort of a self-paced online gamified Scouts program for adults, complete with physical badges available for completing various requirements. This is definitely my bag, so I was thrilled to be one of the 150 accepted into the beta testing “Red Team” for the last couple months.

The badges cover a huge range of skills/topics - from ‘Sharpshooter’ to ‘Orator’ to ‘Kiss the Chef’ - and have all sorts of requirements - including reading (‘Read “Citizenship in a Republic”'), writing (‘Describe the different types of motorcycle’), and physical effort (‘Walk 50 mi. in 24 hours’). There are also daily check-ins for exercise and good-deed-doing, and weekly challenges (‘Take a 5’ cold shower every day’). The format is going to change somewhat before it goes live, so I won’t go into any more detail until I see the final form, but I can say that as it currently exists (1) I find it extremely motivating, and (2) I endorse it completely for anyone seeking broad-based self-improvement.

Now, I’ve been working through a few of these badges in my pomodoro breaks and have decided that the most efficient/self-motivating way to do the writing tasks is to structure them as blog posts. While my blog posts are frequently rambling self-indulgent drivel written primarily for my own amusement, usually they are at least original rambling self-indulgent drivel. Those that will be going up with [The Strenuous Life] tag are most often going to be a summary of information easily obtainable from other sources, so may be of even less interest than my typical fare. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Stay tuned for the next Strenuous Life post, where I attempt to learn all about motorcycles (for the ‘Easy Rider’ badge).

“I live The Strenuous Life.
I train for harmony in body, mind, and soul.
I am strong to be useful.
I choose action over abstraction.
I do hard things.
I live The Strenuous Life.”