Very thought provoking post by Leo over on ZenHabits – He talks about the urge for self-improvement and how that can quickly run our lives.  He questions the need to improve and wonders if it is actually a statement of our inadequacy.

I won’t go into the article too much here, except to say that I am guilty of having the urge, of seeking improvement.  I think that is why this post of his struck a chord with me.

My favorite quote from the article:

Realize that you are already perfect. You are there. You can breathe a sigh of relief.

He suggests that we find contentment in where we are now.  Find yourself adequate, perfect as you are.  Quit worrying and be happy.

I like his statement and I like the tone of the post.   I appreciate his calling out a whole industry that is built around feeding peoples need to improve, in finding the next ‘thing’ that will make be better.

However, he presents it as a one or the other argument.  I wonder if he is drawing too thick of a line between the two – Either/Or vs Both.

I think a balance between the two places – improvement and contentment is the right place for me.  I can be happy and content with where I am now in all facets of my life.  And at the same time, I can try to improve in areas that that can be improved in.  I believe that you can be happy with where you are now in something and yet at the same time, strive to change that area.  The strive to change doesn’t equal unhappiness…

In fact, learning new things, trying new things, striving to make changes and see if they resonate with me is one thing that makes me happy.  Content even.  It’s not a contest, it’s a necessary part of an exciting life.

What about you?  Are you on the self-improvement side, the contentment side, or ????

Christmas Shopping

We did our annual Christmas Shopping for our immediate family this last weekend.  Kids buy presents for the rest of the family, strict $5 per person limit.  Actually, $5 per person total spent is the goal, not just a limit.  It is not allowed to buy a pack of gum and keep the change…  (It’s been asked before)

With three kids buying presents for each other and Mom and Dad, it’s $20 per kid.  I’d have to say it is my favorite shopping trip of the year.  Totally worth the $60.  In fact, probably the best $60 we spend on Christmas each year.  Fun, educational, family time, and several teaching moments rolled into an afternoon.

To see what each child thinks is a good present for their brother/sister and for Mom is great!  They are innovative and imaginative – sometimes even more than I am.  They really do have fun finding treasures for the family.

We have fun dividing up the kids between Dawn and I and we head off into the store.  We’ve done Target the last two years, and this year we decided to give Fred Meyer a shot.  It was a great choice with plenty of options in our price range.

Since Dawn and I aren’t buying, we get to advise, motivate, and calculate for the kids.  We try to teach them about shopping, “If you buy that for him also, you’ll be over the limit.  Is THAT the present you really want to give ?”   We throw out ideas for them to build on if they get stuck, but basically we try to stay out of the way and make this event for them.

The kids also wrap their presents and put them under the tree – that is a huge part of the experience.  I’m always amazed at the amount of tape that can fit around a gift!

In the car on the way home, Ryan said that doing the family shopping was his favorite part of Christmas – he knew that Christmas day was almost here, and he couldn’t wait to watch us open the gifts.

What sort of special family traditions do you treasure each year?


Netflix – turn the lights out already?

Interesting read on The Motley Fool about Netflix today.  It talks about another pending blow to Netflix and its future growth – bandwidth throttling concerns.  Seems like most American’s get their internet from the local cable company.  These cable companies are rapidly transitioning to primarily useful for delivering the internet and less so for the traditional TV and phone (which never really caught on) services.

The fear is that someone, somewhere soon will start to either limit or charge extra for high data downloads.  Like the data downloads that streaming movies on Netflix uses.  Therefore, Netflix is in potential trouble of losing customers if we can’t stream all episodes of Mad Men 24 hours a day.

Got me thinking, why do we even have Netflix?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a long time subscriber and plan to be for some time into the future.  But Netflix is a middle, middle-man that is solving a problem that shouldn’t exist.  Netflix doesn’t make the movies, they don’t host the movies, they don’t provide the bandwidth into your home, they don’t even make a device that ‘shows’ the movies.

Just what do they do then?

They are a simple, elegant method of connecting users with entertainment.  I applaud what they have done and what they are continuing to do to bring me movies and TV Shows.  They make the discovery of new shows super easy.  I love saving shows to my watch list to remind me of the things I want to see in the future.  I am loyal to them because they have a positive impact on my life.  I don’t know or care who makes the movies I watch, but I know Netflix and care about Netflix.

So why are they even around?

Isn’t the ‘Internet Revolution’ all about cutting out the middle man?  Aren’t we supposed to be getting to know the content creators in a close, personal relationship now?  Isn’t Brand Loyalty supposed to be the end all of all marketing?  Why is my loyalty to a middle middle-man then?

The studios have so far, completely missed the opportunity to make me  a customer of their brand.  I completely don’t care a whit about which studio makes the next Bond movie.  I know the Bond name, not the studio name.  Other than Pixar, I can’t name a studio that means anything to me.  They don’t have a brand.  I could care less about which one makes the next blockbuster that I want to see.

I think Netflix will weather the storm around bandwidth throttling just fine.  As the article points out, they deal with that issue already in Canada.  They would handle it in the US also.

If the studios ever pulled their heads out and got with it, Netflix would be in trouble.  That is one of the worlds largest “IF” statements, however.  They just don’t seem to understand the way the market is moving.  They can’t keep the anchor down and expect the world to come to them.

What do think?  Do you have any loyalty to a movie studio?  Do you know of any?  What about Netflix?