Thanks to inexperience with self-hosting and transferring my domain, you might have stumbled onto my old site by mistake. Feel free to see how I take enjoyment out of every moment in my life (most of the time) at the following address:

http://www.alwaysenjoylife.net

Please join me on my new site and tell me how you like the place.

Always Enjoy Life

Zach Ellerbrook

I got this daily e-mail from Hugh MacLeod’s Gapingvoid a while back, and I just wanted to state that I feel grateful to know that I already share some fundamental principles with people who I admire.  Hugh draws art on the backs of business cards, and this one includes a mantra that I’ll provide for those that don’t have the time to click on the link:

“i will experience JOY at least once today. i don’t care what it costs me.”

I know that my mantra is to Always Enjoy Life, but Hugh’s is certainly a good start for those that are new to this active seeking of joy. Come to think of it, there are some days where I need to accept and be satisfied that I at least experienced joy once.

Of course, the power in this statement is the second sentence. There is a lot I will give up to experience joy in life – while being a moral, contributing member to society at the same time.

I’ve given up many “friends” and acquaintances because they bring me down to much, or want me to follow them down a path that I do not want to be a part of.

I’ve given up a lot of time and energy to others because I know that the joy that comes with helping them is more than the “joy” I’ll get from sitting on my butt.

I’ve also given up plenty of pride to let the other person win an argument because sometimes most of the time winning is just not worth the stress.

Life’s just too short to not have at least one enjoyable moment every day.  If you haven’t had one yet, create one, regardless of what it might cost you or who else it might piss off. Give a crap about something or someone besides you. Do something for yourself if you’re burnt out helping others.

Feel free to start at one, but I think it’s possible to experience JOY at least five times a day right off the bat.  Try it. The next thing you know, anything less than enjoyment in every moment of your day will be unacceptable (but there’s always tomorrow).

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook

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I posed a question on my Facebook page the other day. I was thinking out loud (which usually gets me in trouble) about all the people on Facebook and Twitter throwing BP under the bus over this explosion and subsequent oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I only have a small bit of understanding – certainly not enough to make any true comment on the situation. I’m a musician and a writer, not an expert on oil. But I’ll bet that most of the people who are throwing BP under the bus have about the same amount of understanding as I do.

Getting to the point, the underlying thought I came up with all the Facebooking and Twittering was this:

How many of these people drive their cars… A LOT?

I had an idea of something we all could do now about the demand in the U. S. for cheap gasoline, and that was to drop one day per week of driving. I received some challenging comments about driving 6-days a week and the BP situation, so the answer in that area is up in the air, even in my opinion. But I started to take the thought further, on an emotional and stress reducing level.

Can you imagine how much stress would leave your body and mind if you took 24-hours to not drive?

I get such a kick in so many ways out of riding my bicycle to work. I was thinking over my plans and being bummed that I might not be able to this week. But you don’t have to ride a bike to not drive.

I’ll be moving to St. Louis next year and while browsing areas to live, being on the Metrolink line is very important in where my family will choose our next home. You can see so much of an area by train, whether it’s long distance or in town.

You could also choose a day off to not drive and all, and God forbid, you could stay at home and enjoy whatever it is you have there. We always seem to forget that we spend more time at work than at home, yet they say “Home is where the heart is.” The next time you take a day off, try actually taking a day off – from everything.

All this is coming down to is that such a simple idea can turn into yet another source of enjoyment out of life. It tells me that by taking simple steps such as leaving the car in the drive way for one day per week, it is truly possible to enjoy life all the time. I really believe that you can enjoy every moment of life, or I wouldn’t have started this blog. Don’t be over-radical in your life, just drive a little less, and find out what good things can enter into your day.

Always Enjoy Life

Zach Ellerbrook

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I downloaded a bunch of ebooks over the past few weeks. I had been forgetting that there has been some incredible material in the ebook format for some time now, and decided I would just download a whole bunch and start reading. My ebook collection is pretty overwhelming, but Jeff at SleepWarrior got my attention with his 40 Sleep Hacks: The Geeks Guide to Optimizing Sleep.

I’ve managed to cut my nighttime sleep to 6-hours a night, so I can wake up early enough to start the morning in quiet (parents of small children can understand) and to have the time to ride my bike to work. Of course, I would come home exhausted and was terribly ineffective in the afternoon and evening – when I am supposed to be studying for grad school.

The most beneficial chapter from 40 Sleep Hacks was about taking naps. It lead me to realize that I had two major misconceptions on napping that I’m sure some of you might have too. The first one is that there’s some stigma with most of society that believe adult napping is for lazy people. Stop sleeping on the job! Get more sleep at night! The fact is, napping can actually increase productivity, improve stamina, reduce stress, and produce a host of other benefits according to SleepWarrior.

The second misconception I had about napping is that a nap doesn’t have to be an hour long, or even five minutes. The light bulb for me was that you can set your alarm like you would going to bed at night! I know it sounds like a silly realization, but this is why reading is so important. I can just go about my life without realizing little facts that are right in front of my face. This is also a testament to finding some ebooks and reading plenty of them.

20-minutes is the perfect length to take a nap. I actually set my alarm for 30-minutes so I can guarantee 20-minutes of sleep without being late to my next committment. Another great part about the afternoon nap is that I have an excuse to follow it with a mini morning routine which includes the best beverage on earth – coffee. It’s amazing on how relaxed I am after my nap, and drink a relaxing cup of espresso, then just knock out any work I have to do, without the craziness of trying to cram my work into the afternoon. Of course, I also have more energy to study and write the million papers I have to write in the evening, and still be in bed to read by 10pm, asleep by 11, and up at 5am. It truly, truly works this way.

Of course, 40 Sleep Hacks isn’t all about naps. There are also great chapters on sleep such as having a nighttime sleep schedule, diet, and dreaming. I just wanted to tell the world that it’s okay to take a nap, and napping can truly improve your quality of life in many ways. Although the siesta-practicing cultures don’t need to hear this. They have it pretty well figured out.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Give a crap about someone besides yourself. That’s the surest and quickest way to always enjoy life.

The main thing that gives me motivation to enjoy life all the time is my relationship with God, but that relationship has taken 34-years to develop, and only 12 of those years has the relationship been strong and actively cultivated. Traveling a spiritual path is highly recommended, but giving a crap about other people literally produces immediate results.

Quick things that we all (should) know to bring temporary joy would be holding the door open for someone, or helping someone carry something when their hands are too full. I have read plenty of uplifting stories about the first time someone volunteered at the local soup kitchen (or community bicycle shop).  But I have found that the way to really turn temporary feelings of joy into permanent habits is to care about others in my daily activities. Being a husband and father certainly comes to mind. I can quickly up my feelings of self-worth and joy when I actually do things around the house, without my wife nagging telling me to (love you honey!). It’s really exciting when I do work that she usually does.

But putting my wife and kids before my wishes is an obvious place where I can bring joy into my own life. How about a place that isn’t known for having an abundance of joy – say, work?

Yes indeed, there can be much joy for yourself at work… if you actively give a crap about someone besides yourself. There are several things that you can do, you can:

Do your work: I know, right? Maybe just doing your work isn’t the key, but understanding that your work benefits someone. Your customers, your co-workers, or even your boss (I’m biased, I happen to like my boss). Quick tip: Being in a job that’s meaningful to you helps produce joy from doing the work. Just sayin’.

Speak highly of someone: Like many things in this world, gossip and the watercooler can have benefits if used wisely and in moderation. Besides, I don’t care if a million people read this post. If any of you say that you don’t gossip, you are LYING. So since we all gossip, we might as well make it positive, right? On this same note, here’s something that might surprise you, but can bring even more joy to your life.

Speak highly of someone who is usually spoken lowly of: In other words, that guy that always gets “thrown under the bus”? Pick him out from under that bus and see how people react. There is something positive about everybody, and I’ll bet that person has done something that you appreciate, so make sure everyone else knows about it. It might even make everyone feel pretty good.

If you’re still not sure how these tips can help you enjoy life all the time, especially at work, leave a comment or e-mail me and I’ll answer any questions you might have. Of course, if you just ask yourself (or a God of your understanding if you have one), “How can I give a crap about someone besides me today?” You might be surprised at how quickly the right answer comes.

Always Enjoy Life

Zach Ellerbrook

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Laugh at yourself.

I used to take myself so seriously when I was younger. I got so upset over every glass of spilled milk that I wound up not having as fun of a childhood as I could have. When I started laughing at half the stuff I was serious about, I became a much happier person. I started to understand that ‘enjoy’ was an action word.

Once I learned to laugh at my own mistakes, I was able to take others’ in stride. I don’t alienate my co-workers like I used to. I’m a better father. And I’m certainly a better husband when I don’t take our relationship so seriously. It’s true. There’s no danger of us ever splitting apart, so why focus on every little detail making our marriage “right”?

Of course, I would never have had these positive relationships if I hadn’t learned to laugh at myself. The next time you trip over your own two feet, make a joke about it, or turn it into some silly dance as you regain your footing. Make fun of yourself if you spill the coffee in the morning (I like to joke that it might taste better off the counter or floor). You will make mistakes in your life – there’s no sense dwelling on them.

There’s no use crying over spilled milk, so you might as well laugh at it.

A side note: In the past couple days, I’ve had more views on my blog than I ever had, but only one comment. While I am very grateful that so many have read what I have to say, I know that I have plenty of room to improve. You can help me give you a better reading experience if you leave me just a little feedback, so I know what to keep doing and what I can keep out. Id have hope that I’ve proved in this post that I have thick skin, and I am more than willing to hear what you have to say, of course as long as it is constructive and can help me serve you better. Thank you so much.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

I have no idea. That’s what this blog is for.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and dreaming about the direction of this blog, and less writing, which is obviously a problem. Yet thinking and dreaming about how I demand enjoyment out of life has made me look back on my interactions with other people, not close friends, but close acquaintances. I always feel like my attitude and personality puts them off.

I’ve been told I’m too happy. I’m too loud. I’m too sarcastic. I talk too much (I hear that one a lot). Heck, I frequently tell people never to take me seriously – unless I’m being serious.

Not one of those comments have ever made me want to change my personality.

I like my personality, a lot. I know that sounds pretty arrogant. Let’s say that I am so comfortable with my personality that I’m willing to be arrogant about it. I used to have this motto, “Being sad sucks,” like I should never be sad. Being sad may suck at the time, but most of the time there is a experience that comes along with being sad, that makes the emotion very necessary. So I felt that I had to change my motto.

I had quite a life-changing experience when I was 22, and during that experience I came across a quote in something I read: “We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” That’s when it hit me, all of this positive thinking and sarcasm-infected humor was me enjoying life. I also realized that I can get some kind of enjoyment out of every day of my life. I may not like every day, but if I can take something and learn from the days I don’t like, then I feel that I am enjoying my life.

What does this have to do with you? I don’t have the answers, but I do have some life experience, and I would like to pass the lessons I’ve learned to you, the ones that encourage you to always enjoy life.

In short, there are two definite things that sprout a world of demanding enjoyment out of life.

1. Understand that the word ‘enjoy’ is a verb.
2. Make cultivating a SENSE OF HUMOR your #1 priority, all – the – time.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

"Time to Go"

Image: Carlos Porto

I’ve been learning a lot when to pull the trigger on a project; when to go public.

It seems that every book and blog entry I read keeps saying the same thing over and over: The time to launch your idea is now. Not when you have done enough research, not when you perfect your website – NOW. But I kept reading. I kept exploring. I kept… acting like a big chicken.

It’s funny how coming up with a seemingly simple blog idea turned into something so complicated that I waited almost a year between posts. I thought my focus was too narrow, when in fact it was too broad. This is about how I Always Enjoy Life, no matter what.  Truly…

NO MATTER WHAT

I had no idea how much material that covers! I am awake approximately eighteen hours each day, and I demand enjoyment out of every minute (of course I don’t literally enjoy it every minute, but we can talk about that later). That’s a lot to offer.

Here at Always Enjoy Life, you will hear how enjoyable my life can be through marriage, parenting, minimalism, finances, music, education, and if I’m lucky, there will be a post or two on disc golf. I’m sure that a lot of basic principles will emerge such as gratitude, positive thinking, and service to others (yes, actually serving others). I would love to give you a basic blueprint on how I enjoy every minute through all of this so that you can demand more enjoyment out of life as well, but unfortunately I cannot do so in one post. If I can offer one piece of advice right now, it is just to echo what I have been reading the past few months.

The time to launch your idea is now, not later. NOW.

A big thanks goes to Seth GodinLeo Babauta, and graduate school for inspiring me to start writing in the first place. However, another big thank you goes to Everett BogueTammy Strobel, and especially Hugh MacLeod for actually getting me off my butt to put my writing in front of you readers. Now that I have put myself out there for you – feedback is always appreciated.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

It’s “lights out time” for the kids right now.

They’re giggling up a storm when they should be in bed.

Do I make them go to bed, lovingly making sure they get a good night’s sleep so they’re not cranky the next day?

I don’t freakin’ think so. Let them have some fun together.

I’ve been reading a lot of simplicity/minimalism blogs, such as Zen Habits, Becoming Minimalist, and I was just reading a great post about frugal hygiene from Rowdy Kittens.

Want some minimalism/simplicity advice? Listen to kids giggle (LOUDLY) past their bedtime. Life is wonderful.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

This a pre-relaunch post of Always Enjoy Life. More to come soon, perhaps an explanation on the relaunch, perhaps not. We’ll see.

I have been reading an extensive amount of blogs lately.

The honest reason is that I’ve been procrastinating on “getting serious” with my writing, and I have used reading other blogs as an excuse.  It can be intimidating to read many well-written blogs, with hundreds of archived messages, thousands of followers, and look at my own piddily-looking blog with almost a year between posts – the last one about how I’m not even blogging.

Not exactly the best example of demanding enjoyment out of life.

I have recently taken a different tack on my preparations on writing “for real”. It started with Everett Bogue’s series on using minimalism to leave your day job. In it he gives great inspirational and practical suggestions on how to get moving with a plan to prevent work for work’s sake. That’s when I remembered this work of art by Hugh MacLeod:

gaping void wallpaper

My procrastination prevention tool. Sometimes it works.

This is my current desktop. It is motivation for me to stop whining about my overly-busy life (mostly due to a J. O. B.) and break out of it. I am also positive that I can help people demand enjoyment out of life, but that won’t happen while I keep saying I’m not ready or I’m not good enough.

You don’t have to join the minimalist movement to enjoy life (though I’m trying). You don’t have, and maybe shouldn’t, quit your day job to enjoy life (though it sure sounds attractive). All that is required is cultivating an attitude that brings some kind of enjoyment to any life experience.

This may be hard to find at first, but a great example is my 2-year-old popping her head into the bedroom as I am writing this post. I could get annoyed because I have to eat lunch, shave, and get dressed before going to work – or I can just take the 30-second break to take in the joy that this beautiful young lady is so freely giving to me.

Always enjoying life is something that matters, and it’s not easy. That is why I’m here, and that is why I need to get off my butt  and explain how I try to enjoy every moment of my life without exceptions.

Thanks Hugh for the inspiration, and thanks to Tyler for helping me finally get to work.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

I am 1 in a 100 sharing my love of art. What number are you?

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