My cat is sick

I’m not sure which is worse—death that you know is coming or death that happens suddenly.

For my seven-year-old cat Simon, it was the latter. He was perfectly fine when I left for work that morning. When I got home, he didn’t come out to greet me like he normally did. I went into my bedroom and saw a lump underneath my covers. This was nothing unusual—Simon liked to burrow under the sheets to take naps. But when he didn’t react to my presence, I knew he was gone.

His death crushed me. He and I were of similar temperaments, which increased our bond and created a kind of understanding between us. He was my constant companion through all the ups and downs. It was ages before I stopped breaking out into spontaneous fits of crying.

Nine years later, my new cat Jaxon (pictured) has taken sick. The short version is that I took him to the emergency vet because he can’t keep down food or water. Bloodwork plus an ultrasound showed that he either has cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. It will take a biopsy to determine which.

If it’s cancer, he won’t have much time left, even with treatment. I’m trying to prepare myself for a post-Jaxon world, but I have no idea how to do that. In a weird sense, part of me thinks he’s dead already. This has the effect of causing every additional day with him to feel like a bonus.

Maybe that’s how we should treat everything in our lives. Even the most solid, dependable elements of our existence can be taken away in a flash. When that happens, our mental models for how we make sense of the world no longer work. We have no choice but to adapt to the new way of things.

For now, I just want my little buddy to get better.

The Simple Trick to Make Your Dreams Come True

And it doesn't involve clickbait headlines!

I recently discovered a simple productivity hack that’s help me beat procrastination.

I’m already angry that I wasted time clicking on this.

I’ve previously written about how to organize your life to ensure that you address every one of your goals. But if it has a weakness, it’s that some of your goals get buried so far down your list that by the time you get to them, you’re too exhausted to address them. Sure, you get to them sometimes, but all too often you end up skipping over them. I get it, it’s frustrating as hell. You feel lazy or inadequate when you can’t address all the items on what seems to you to be a simple list.

Did you call me lazy?!

But fear not, for there is a simple modification you can make to your daily routine in order to maximize your productivity.

Does it involve not reading anymore of your dumb-as-hell posts?

It involves you declaring a single priority you want to focus on that day. This should be decided either in the morning or the night before. You’ve probably heard variations of this a dozen times before, though usually the advice is to list three things you want to accomplish that day. Three is a little too ambitious for me. While I know I will accomplish at least that many things overall, having three specific things in mind just brings me back to where I was before: feeling overwhelmed.

By focusing on just one thing, you greatly increase the probability of you accomplishing it.

But how does that work in practice?

Suppose writing is on your daily list of activities, but it’s far down your list. Maybe after laundry, paying bills, and feeding the llama. If you declare writing to be your one priority for the day, then you are telling yourself that you will address that priority as soon as is feasible. 

So for example, if writing for 30 minutes is my priority for the day, then I will do so as soon as I can as opposed to waiting until I get to that item on my ordered list. So that might look like me writing during my lunch break, or as soon as I get home while I still have energy.

Now it’s time to get off the internet and time to start prioritizing!


Why Your Anxiety Can Make You a Better Person

We generally believe that having anxiety is bad, but the truth is more complicated.

We often feel that social anxiety is somehow a defect of character, or the result of a malfunctioning brain. This is a perfectly reasonably conclusion when you consider the negative effects it can have on our lives. Left unmanaged, it can cripple our ability to interact with others and reach our full potential.

None of this is news to me.

There is another side to all of this. It has been shown that socially anxious people also tend to exhibit high levels of empathy. And if you’ve seen the news lately (or at any time, really) you know that the world’s supply of empathy is lower than California’s water levels.

How long did you work on that joke? Whatever the answer is, it wasn’t long enough.

The truth is that the world needs socially anxious people. In a group setting, they’re the first ones to notice when someone is uncomfortable or otherwise not having a good time. They’re also more likely to consider how their actions will affect others. The trick is to not let your social anxiety become so overwhelming that you can’t function in groups in the first place.

Empathy is great and all, but isn’t there such a thing as having too much empathy?

Absolutely there is. People who have an overdeveloped sense of empathy often find themselves experiencing the emotions of others whether they choose to or not. The effect is stronger if the person you are empathizing with is a relative or close companion. This can lead you to feel that whatever is happening to them is also happening to you, and you can consequently fall into the trap of trying to fix whatever problem they are experiencing in order to sooth your own emotions.

Instead of going down this path, try to take a step back and have a more objective view of your friend’s situation. What advice would a neutral observer give this person? This approach will benefit your friend more in the long run, because the drowning can’t save the drowning.