Lane Sawyer🌹


Humanist, vegan, minimalist, programmer, collector of labels.

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One Simple Thing: Do Something Radical

Have you ever done something radical?

And no, I don’t mean hanging ten with Michelangelo, stuffing pizza in your face while you fight off Shredder’s minions (although that would be a wonderfully radical experience).

I mean something out of the ordinary.

Something unique.

I’m not saying you need to go discover a new brand new human experience, like seeing a color no other person has ever seen. It only has to be something unique to you. Your uncommon, radical act could be as simple as eating oatmeal for breakfast when you’ve had nothing but cold cereal for the last decade.

We’re all products of our environment. Everything from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the sports we enjoy is influenced by the people around us. Culture permeates our lives, and few of us stop to think anything of it.

Those of us who do push back against cultural norms often find great joy in doing so. I know I have. Since 2014, I’ve challenged many aspects of how I was raised, with radical shifts in my religious, political, and dietary beliefs being the most prominent.

I’m not here to say that my new beliefs and actions are superior to the old ones, nor am I asking everyone that reads this article to join me by abandoning their religion, voting for Bernie Sanders, and becoming vegan.

The path that has brought me the most happiness in my life surely won’t work for everyone.

But I’ve also experimented with other things, like regular meditation, reading new genres of books, diving into new specialties at work, and making a conscious effort to prefer walking over driving.

Radical acts are radical because they’re life changing, not because they’re huge changes.

Really all I’m asking is:

Do you ever do something new just for the hell of it?

If you don’t regularly step out of your comfort zone, you may be missing out on some of life’s most impactful experiences.

Not every change will become part of your life. You may find out that you really hate biking to work, or that dubstep literally grinds your eardrums into dust. There are many things I’ve tried that never stick around for long (like becoming a morning person — I wrote this particular article at 12:30 AM).

But after every new experience I always come away from it appreciating the knowledge I gained about myself and the world.

The mere act of opening yourself up to radical experiences will enable you to find new joys in life that would otherwise stay hidden away in the fog of inexperience.

I never imagined my life would turn out the way it has, but I love pretty much everything about it. Each day I find myself awestruck at the world around me and wonder how I managed to build such a great life. I’m convinced that had I not begun experimenting with radical changes, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today.

To this day, I continue to experiment with radical changes. During one six year period in 2018, I tried the following:

  • Learned more about user-centered design in order to reinvent myself at work
  • Discovered new tastes in music by getting a Spotify subscription and exploring their vast collection of songs
  • Gained a new appreciation for cauliflower
  • Reduced my stress levels by abstaining from the daily news cycle
  • Picked up a guitar for the first time in years
  • Finally started reading biographies

Every one of those changes started as something radically new to my life.

And yes, learning how to make food using cauliflower isn’t all that intense. But small changes are still radical in a world where routines largely stay the same.

If you’ve never done something radical (or if you have but it’s been a few years) think of something you’ve always wanted to do. Make plans right now to do it. Sign up for that Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. Attend your local town hall meetings. Become intimately familiar with the best arguments of a political issue that you disagree with. Book that trip you’ve always been wanting to take.

It’s okay if you start small. I did. I know how scary it can be to try new things.

But if you don’t take that chance and if you never do something radical, you may be missing out on some of the greatest moments of your life.

Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.

One Simple Thing: Get Rid of Your TV

At some point in the last fifty years the great American pastime pivoted from baseball to television. Ever since Philo Farnsworth invented the television (and gave my home state of Idaho at least one claim to fame outside of potatoes), the TV industry has exploded. Up to 97 percent of U.S. households have a television, and they are all put to use! On average, U.S. adults watch 5 hours of TV every day. That’s 35 hours a week! 🤯

Think of what we could be doing with that time. Developing a hobby, starting a side business, spending time with our families and friends; the possibilities are endless.

Instead, we choose to sit in front of a glowing box, binging on Netflix, sports, and pop culture.

I’m not saying we should ditch television completely. Watching your favorite show is a great way to relax. Giving your brain an occasional break vegging out in front of the TV can be awesome (it's one of my favorite forms of recovery when I've had a particularly bad day), but surely five hours a day is too much.

But the fact that it’s almost socially unfathomable to not own a television should tell you something about how addicted we are to our screens.

Every year, TVs get thinner and sleeker, tantalizing us with extras like 3D, Netflix, and even Facebook. Televisions have become the focal point of our homes. We literally build entire rooms for the express purpose of watching TV.

I ditched my TV back in 2017, and I've never looked back. I still watch an unhealthy amount of Netflix and movies (especially when I'm depressed), but it's all done from my computer screen. That experience isn't ideal, so I watch a lot less Netflix than if I had my 55 inch TV again.

But I'm not going to lie. It was difficult to get rid of the TV.

The first major purchase my (now ex-) wife and I made after graduating from college in 2014 was that 55 inch "flat" screen I mentioned earlier (oh god it was so fat compared to what we now can manufacture in 2019).

I clearly remember the day it arrived. I set up the entertainment center perfectly, with no cords showing. Then we sat down and watched Doctor Who.

I even have the photo to prove it! (Please forgive the potato quality. I hadn't learned how to take good photos yet. It's not even centered! How does that happen!? Plus the focus is all wrong. Ah, the foibles of youth...)

Entertainment center with a TV showing Doctor Who

It was fantastic.

But we had unwittingly invited a time-sucking demon into our home. It took us four years to realize it, but eventually we did.

Once we realized how much our TV controlled our lives, we gave it to my brother and his wife.

Like The Ring, we got someone else to watch the TV so it wouldn’t be our problem anymore. (Sorry, bro! You really should get rid of that thing! 😅)

On top of all the time I've gotten back with less TV viewing, the aesthetic gains are fantastic.

Living in a 500 square foot apartment really limits what I bring into my home and how it can be arraigned. Now that I no longer have a podium built for the express purpose of worshiping a TV, my home actually reflects my values and hobbies.

I'd show a picture, but it's a mess right now!

Again, I'm not saying watching TV is an awful hobby. Just that we do a whole lot of it, to the point where a good chunk of our lives are spent staring at a screen, especially when you throw phones and computers into the mix.

So, are you ready to radically change your life?

Then try ditching your TV.

You don’t have to remove it from your home immediately.

Throw a sheet over it and pretend it’s not there. See how it feels. Pick up a new hobby, like writing about how amazing it is to not have a TV anymore. Grab a drink with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Find an online course to enhance your skills. There are so many things out there you could spend your precious time on this Earth doing that will bring longer lasting joy than a TV show.

I know it’s hard.

I know it’s weird.

Before I got rid of mine, I thought people who didn’t have a television were crazy hippies who didn’t have a life (oh shit am I a crazy hippie now?).

But I was wrong. Getting rid of your TV is the a simple way to start living a new life.

The One Thing: Get rid of Your TV

Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.

One Simple Thing: Delete Games From Your Phone

Go and delete all the games from your phone.

Now, before you close your browser and whip out Candy Crush to spite me, please hear me out.

I used to find myself constantly reaching for my phone to play games when I was standing in line, waiting for the microwave to beep, or any other myriad of situations that left me with a few free moments.

But diving into the digital world meant I was completely engrossed in my phone instead of experiencing my surroundings and being present with friends and family.

Once I realized how much time was slipping away to these pointless games, I deleted them all.

It was tough.

The itch to play didn’t go away for a few weeks, but it did eventually subside. Those games were sucking away my life and providing little value in return.

I’m not saying that all video games are a waste of time (I still play my fair share), but in my experience, the mobile games are not worth your time or attention.

Having games on your phones turns the device into a pacifier, one meant to distract you. Many apps are purposefully designed to keep you in their digital world for as long as possible.

Personally, I prefer to use my phone as a tool to improve my life.

So, once the games are gone, what should you do now?

Look around. Enjoy the present moment.

The One Thing: Delete all the games from your phone.

Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.

One Simple Thing: Put Productive Apps On Your Home Screen

The average person checks their phone 46 times a day, or about every 30 minutes.

Often these checks are habitual responses to notifications, pulling up pointless games to pass the time, or (at least for me) looking up random pieces of trivia to satisfy an intellectual itch.

Forty six glances results in a lot of time spent staring at your phone each day.

Imagine if what you saw each of those times encouraged you to be a better person?

Here's my current homescreen:

My Current Homescreen

All of these apps are ones that I use on a regular basis, and most are ones that enhance my life.

While I don't love having Outlook or Slack on my homescreen, they are work-critical so it's nice to have within reach.

The rest of the apps let me stay organized, learn something new every day, or keep me in touch with friends and family.

The one glaring exception is Twitter. While I'm trying to kick my social media habit by keeping all of those time-sucking apps off of my homescreen and my entire phone if I can manage it (Twitter is just a website shortcut), Twitter earned its place because the impeachment hearings have been so damn interesting lately!

Is this setup perfect? No, absolutely not. But it's what fits my life at the moment.

In comparison, I published a very simlar article to this one back in 2016, and this is what my screen looked like then:

My Homescreen in 2016

There are some major differences, the most obvious being that I've de-Googled my life substantially over the last 3 years.

Only three apps are even still there:

  1. Todoist
  2. Slack
  3. Phone

I imagine in another three years my homescreen will once again change dramatically!

So, during your 34th glance at your homescreen today, take stock in what's there. Do those applications enhance your life? Or do they suck away the precious little time you have on this wonderful blue dot we call Earth?

The One Thing: Reorganize your home screen, filling it with apps that add value to your life.

Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.