It's fair to say people are intrinsically complicated and I acknowledge how I alternate between extreme opposing ends on various spectrums. For example, I can enjoy being materialistic, living in the big city, blowing money, being pompous and living without regard. Then, I'll flip (and hope to stay on this side) to preferring the seclusion of nature, being alone and amongst a close few, disregarding money and the establishment while being introspective, creative and focused on the wellbeing of others.
There are various other examples but the point is, I'm aware of it. It's recognized people have many sides to their identity. We are not a coin, more like a 12 sided die, and each side of a person may be more prominent at certain times than another.
I'm someone who is intensely sexual, communicative, open, strong at reading people and picking up on vibes. It's rare to come across someone else radiating such qualities so passionately and confidently as a major identity component. What is observed when I come across someone containing such? Most of it has to do with two things: the eyes and posture. These two measures say a lot about an individual. I'm not particular on a certain colour and can gather a lot about a person from their eyes.
Given my close proximity to both work and yoga, there still exists numerous times I require a taxi to take me around. These largely include going for drinks with colleagues in downtown TJ, attending yoga Wednesday morning (and soon to be Chinese classes) and visiting other areas of the city. For the most part, the taxi services are pretty solid. They are all over the place, however, sometimes finding an available one is tricky. Here are some tips for taking taxi's around Tianjin:
Over the past year, I've experienced a lot of personal growth. Moving within Toronto and getting new housemates and new friends, to moving around the world, and dramatically shaking up my life, all have contributed to who I am now.
There's been moments where I was confronted and called out to not be as selfish, and in those moments, I swallowed my resistance and admitted it. I noticed an important lesson during this: initially many seek to resist what others are telling them, especially if constructive. We want to save face, protect the image with think we protrude, and the image we think others hold of us, forgetting their filters are different than our own. Embrace who you are, so often, as a society we seem to only desire the positive and actively deny the darkness within.
Darkness and light are two sides of the same coin called your identity. To refuse to acknowledge said inner darkness is active self-denial. The same can be said about life and death, both within, and similarly only one side can be active at a time. Embracing the darkness and death inside allows for better understanding, less self-denial, and a more wholistic appreciation for who you are. How can you work on yourself, if you don't even know your entire self, or, are even aware of your entire self? The good, the wonderful, the bad, the horrible -- explore it all, without darkness there is no light, without death there is no life.
Throughout my self exploration, contemplation, reflection, analysis and experimentation, I've grown in my capability to set definitive standards; something I think many do not have. Now I that have them, it's obvious to put efforts into what I want, what I stand for, who I search for, and equally so, when deciding to stop things. For myself, I value spending time with people who are intense emotionally, conversationally and intellectually. I actively engage people who become comfortable quickly, and are open about their thoughts, feelings and opinions, regardless of others. However, on the flip side, I was/am too overly dismissive of those who aren't as comfortable doing so. I become bored quickly when not very engaged and as such feel there isn't much of an impact made on me.
A new friend, who is as equally intense as I, provided some feedback outlining how my personal growth will come from being more attentive to who those who demonstrate reluctance to open up from the get go. This is true and I will make an effort to do so by asking who, when, where, what and how questions. Not only is using this method good for obtaining a more complete picture of the conversation topic, it allows for a simple yet methodical approach to easing people into higher degrees of self-expression.
There's a fine line between being more attentive with someone who doesn't initially exhibit what I seek, without over committing or building to much expectation they will open to the point I want. This must be balanced to work within the requirements I set for myself and the type of people surrounding me. It's important I allow others to fully emit themselves without creating pre-mature mental images. Each one of us has undergone a lifetime of events which they must process and catalogue for themselves. It's unfair to expect each person to perform within my spectrum of comfort.
Where then is this line? How does one know they're about to breach it? There is no definitive answer. I believe it is about continuing to read body language, making deductions and giving people a chance. The most important component is being grounded in my identity and increasing my acceptance to those whom I make contact with. More than anything, it's about being mindful of what I outline above. Giving the moment a moment to settle and develop will do wonders and, if nothing else, help maintain a slower pace of life, which has proven beneficial.
As discussed last week on my uneventful day trip to Beijing, I shared a story about a tea ceremony experience. Well, last night I while talking with an expat friend, he informed me it's one of the largest scams performed on foreigners! I felt like an idiot, but, was also like, "well, you just have to experience it once to know what it's like and be ready for the next". Thankfully, I wasn't scammed out of a lot (though at the end of the ceremony, the lady asked if I wanted to visit another spot, and I declined, thankfully). My friend told me of someone who was scammed out of 1200¥ ($240) instead I only lost ~$100. Those people went back and threatened to turn them in or be refunded. In my case, I could do this... I'm honestly lazy, and not sure when I'd go to Beijing again. If I visit simply to get the refund, travel costs alone would be roughly 200¥ round trip... so I'd do all that for $60. I could spend the day in Beijing and do some stuff. Perhaps I should get the money back, if nothing else, it would buy me a lot of meals and taxi rides. Yeah, so that was fun. All in all, lesson learned: trust your gut, and bail anytime you feel like it.
Whether by fluke or otherwise, instead of having just Monday and Tuesday off, I also had Wednesday and Thursday off.
Today, after waking up and posting to Instagram, I did some work on the responses I am preparing for a guest post/standardized interview for the Fearless Friday's section of Anna Lundberg's blog. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, Victoria L from Toronto, shared a link with me about her from Business Insider!
Just moments after reading the article, I reached out to Anna and requested to write a guest post on how I dramatically changed my life in just over a month. She replied shortly thereafter granting my request. I think Victoria was a little taken aback at how quickly this all happened.
After doing some quick tidying up, I left to do yoga at the gym... Only to find out the class had the extremely repetitive teacher I discussed in a recent post. At some point within the class, I just let go of being annoyed with it, albeit unintentionally.
I'm having a hard time seeing how good of a teacher this guy really is. One of the dead giveaways, at least to me, is when we do a tree pose. Most teachers instruct students to place the foot tightly on the thigh either above the knee and on the thigh, or below the knee on the calf. This teacher places his foot on his knee himself, then has us push the hip of the leg we are standing on out to the corresponding side!
I know better than to place my foot on my knee, but I'm taken aback he is doing so himself, and instructing others this is ok. I've been told on good authority this can damage the knee joint.
After completing the repetition of various stretches such as standing up and bending over (which is nearly half the class), I head for the showers.
As I'm leaving past the studio to the exit, this girl approaches me and asked to see my tattoos. I show her and we start conversing about what they mean, when and where I got them etc. She's heading to study in Canada starting in January so we chatted about that for a bit as we sat by the entrance to the studio.
I couldn't help but notice several smoking hot girls heading in for the Pilates class. After a few minutes of discussion about the yoga teacher, I asked her if she'd speak with him about adding more poses, making them more challenging, and changing up the routine. Anyways, after a few moments, we observe the Pilates class those girls entered. It looks similar to yoga with a slight twist. She asks if I want to try.
I'd already showered and changed but with nothing else planned for my day off, I figured why not? This is the point of this new life, right? To have the freedom and time to try new things, spend time with people, learn, and develop who I am as a person.
We join the class with roughly 35 minutes remaining. Plenty of time to start sweating again and get my ass kicked by the instructor - who did the same thing in the Body Balance class last week. Having done yoga for the past five months definitely helped, though once we passed the first few poses from when I joined, and moved to the ab workout, I was definitely in over my head. This was the kind of challenge I was seeking.
Here is this 100lbs instructor ploughing through these ab workouts (on the back, legs up type) and not even breaking a sweat! I'm clenching, putting all I have into getting just a few more reps in. I pause for a moment... Nope, she's still going. Damn, I go back at it. A few more. Pause. She's still going!
This girl is giving me a run for my money. I'm mentally trying to estimate how much harder it is for me, given that my legs are longer and thus weigh more, plus because they are longer having them hover above ground makes it that much harder (think of standing at the edge of a short vs longer diving board and the difference in the bow between the two). And, you know, I have bigger bone mass and all this other BS.
Then I recall, I also have more muscle mass given my larger size which would likely overshadow any phantom attempt I made at differing leg size and bone mass as a technicality as to why it's harder for me lol. Long story short, I was self-defeated in my poor justification of not being able to keep up with her. The only answer being to keep going, working out, pushing harder and striving for more results next time.
Going forward, my exercise schedule is the following: Yoga Monday night, yoga and Body Balance Tuesday night, Yoga with expats on Wednesday morning, Yoga and Pilates Thursday at noon, yoga Saturday afternoon (if I can attend an evening class with Sunil I will) and yoga Sunday afternoon.
After yoga and Pilates, I take a few selfies because I'm feeling ripped (see Instagram) and go to pay my phone bill. I've subscribed to a 3gb plan, which costs $40 a month and comes with a few thousand minutes and text... Not like any of those get used, matter, or count as a "feature" in 2016. I blow through my 3gb each month, usually sitting around 6gb... What? I've dropped 40% from 10gb a month in Canada, I practically deserve a metal or badge or something for my sacrifices.
But for the record, China Unicom sells a 6gb plan for $79... In Canada, a comparable 5gb costs $105. Yikes, a 33% premium for 83% of the data. Ok, let's try the next tiered plan (in Canada @ Rogers, I don't count Wind because it's not nation-wide LTE, and you're throttled to a paltry single digit Mbps after 3-4gb -- which is a struggle to consume initially) so, 9gb for $125 vs 11gb of data for $119 at China Unicom, results in a 82% of the data for 5% increase in price at Rogers. Now, if the bandwidth was the same size, I'd pay the extra 5% for the network speed consistency of Rogers in Toronto, but with an 18% decrease in bandwidth, it's hard to justify. *rant over*
Behind the mall/office I work in, Wanda Plaza, there is a food street. I grab a few beers and Snickers from Vanguard (the Wal-mart equivalent), get some fried rice with chicken and pork and sit out in the street patio tables. Weather was a perfect 29°C, with low humidity. Typically I'm not a fan of heat above 23-25 in Toronto because of how humid it is.
Here the heat is dry and I'm comfortable with it going up to ~32°C. I sit at this table, eat my food and peruse Reddit for like 2.5 hours. Because, I can. I don't loose any money by not working Wednesday or today since I'm on salary. And my hours are set so I'm not in that position of being salaried then milked for hours to the bone.
I work like ~12 hours a week tops and make more than I did working 25 or more in Toronto. I seriously am baffled at those of you who still live in North America, work low paying jobs, have no personal life or travel and refuse to move abroad. If you speak English, you qualify to work here! I'll save, the rant, you can read previous posts on that topic lol.
Once I was notified I'd used half a gig on Reddit catching up on news, I wandered around for a bit, went home, did some reading, and started working on this post after napping for a few hours. While in North America I never napped. Perhaps it was because I had such little free time? I find I regularly take naps here, especially on weekends. During Saturday and Sunday, I have to work 3 hours in the morning, with a half hour break in between, then I have four hours off which I go to lunch with colleagues, do yoga, and take a nap, then repeat the same schedule as the morning. Perhaps its the heat which makes me tired. Whatever the reason, having the time to do so without regard is absolutely great!
n the time I have lived in China, nearly 2 months now, I have not yet felt homesick or culture shock. Perhaps it is yet to come. Perhaps I won't have much of either by setting out with the expectation of making this my new home. I think one of the largest reasons though, is the new friends I have made here.
My colleagues are other expats who have come from Australia, the U.K. and Uzbekistan. Other expats I've met are from even more countries. Obviously they all speak English, being teachers. This has really helped with my assimilation. Whether it's in between classes, or at a pub night, having someone who can speak English and share similar stories (having come from the West) is nice.
To my surprise, WeChat has played a large role in mitigating culture shock and any feelings of loneliness one might feel when abroad (which I personally haven't had). I communicate regularly with a surprisingly large number of people on WeChat. From new contacts, to work colleagues to group chats for bars, yoga, and group activities. Several of these groups have over 100 members, with one yoga group having nearly 300 people across Asia. WeChat has played a role in introducing me to new people, getting helpful advice, accessing resources and communicating with my closest friends back home.
When listening to The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, he discussed how often times in chess championships, players would focus on a strategy then get hung up on it once the board changed and it would no longer work. I feel people are often like this. They formulate a plan, and some variable changes the dynamics of it all, and we get stuck saying to ourselves "if only _______ then I could do ____" or something along this line. Josh talks about how dangerous this mentality can be, and the importance of observing when the situation has changed and being ok with the change, adopting it, and developing a new plan. This is exactly how life is.
I dont think I'll go through much culture shock because it seems there isn't much I hold on to about being back in Canada. I think culture shock is simply an individual's inability to adapt to their new environment, and the more capable you are of doing so, the less shock there will be. My circumstance may be different, I don't plan on returning and when heading into this adventure I had a slightly different mindset than someone who was told they will only be staying abroad for a year or two.
These people grasp on to all they can, before moving abroad. Upon arrival they're awaiting their return and constantly measuring everything to their old standard back home instead of adjusting to the new dynamics of their chess board.
In my preparation for moving, I site planning not to return as one of my smartest moves both from a personal management perspective (such as closing accounts with companies, managing expectations with friends and family etc.) and from a psychological perspective.
For someone who expects to return to their country within a set amount of time, they mentally cling to their homeland and as such are blinded to the wonders around them due to their anticipation of going back to their old ways.
Forward motion cannot be made with an anchor to your past from a progress standpoint. There is a difference between jogging and jogging on the spot. Maintaining such an anchor, is jogging on the spot.
Perhaps I will become homesick, experience culture shock, and become overwhelmed. I doubt it, and don't think of it often. Some say there is a cycle whereby the first several months are full of excitement and fun while culture shock happens several months after settling in. To those people I would share the quote on my website homepage: To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
Since I have yet to set up a bank account, I went to go pick up my cash this morning. I'd been contemplating a trip to Beijing for the last few days and decided to take it today.
There wasn't much of an intention for the trip other than to explore and see if I could catch a few decent photos. The high speed train from Tianjin to Beijing costs 54¥ ($11) and takes 30 mins. Upon my arrival, I made my way to Tiananmen Square.
Shortly after exiting the subway station, a lady approached me and we started talking. After about half an hour we headed to a tea market together.
For the next hour or longer, we sat and sampled teas inside this shop while a light tea ceremony was performed. The host made the tea, poured it for us, then we lifted it a certain way: Males lift the sampling cup with three fingers, and curl in the pinky and finger beside it while females keep them sticking out -- similar to how you see high rollers drink liquor on TV shows. You pick it up, examine the colour, smell the aromas then drink it in three sips. The Chinese character (which I cannot recall) has three components to it, thus, the three sips.
There is a massive tea industry. With thousands of types, the age of the tea, how it's been processed, which part of the plant is used, which region it's from, amongst others, are all factored into the price and its quality. Imagine the tasting, elements and culture of wine, whisky or cannabis. Tea is the exact same.
This is where my day took a bit of a turn (my own fault). At this point I was asked if I wanted to purchase any tea. The tea is worth the purchase, can be reused, and some ultra high end teas can costs upwards of 40,000¥ ($8000), for 500 hundred grams of tea! I decided to go with 100 grams of a black tea which I quite enjoyed, forgoing the dried fruit tea I really liked. This "tea" was very sweet by Chinese standards, and not really considered a tea. For my purchase the lady allowed me to have a free portion of any tea, I took the dried fruit, and ate the fruit pieces like candy. The tea can used several times over and cost 200¥. Furthermore, we'd sampled 9 teas at 40¥ a sample (between the two of us) totalling 360¥.
My new friend, said she'd cover the extra 60 and we'd split the 300. For some reason, I kept thinking 300 and thus handed the lady 500 (200 for tea, 300 for samples) who made no haste to offer me change. It wasn't until later I realized this error, whereby I should have paid her only 350!
At this point, my expenditures had been the taxi to the train station, the train fare, lunch, two subway fares and the tea. Throughout the rest of my trip, I purchased another subway fare, a meal from BK, the train fare home, a cab fare from the Tianjin train station back home, and some fried rice once home. All in all, about $180! Pretty pricey for sipping some tea and taking several trains! :/
The set back of the tea was really annoying to me. I walked around for two hours after buying the tea before making my way to the train station. There wasn't much I came across I thought photographic and this added to my disappointment.
It's worth noting, the city has 4G coverage everywhere, it's so nice being able to go in the subway and continue using my phone as if nothing changed. For how developed North America is, one would think this would have been an innovation originating from the West. It seems many things are inverted between these regions: China has massive high speed train networks, and underground 4G but can't clean the water. North America has safe water... Well, except for Flint Michigan, but can't figure out how to put 4G in the subway (underground wifi was a MAJOR announcement with TTC, like nobody had put wifi antennas indoors before). And the train system is North America, particularly in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is a joke (but I hold onto hope -- thank you Hyperloop One)!
The most important lesson learned today was to continue to be extra mindful with cash and until you hand it over, there is always the option of saying no. Additionally, doing a few more moments of research on an area I'd like to visit would have been helpful.
Despite the apparent mishap, I still deem the trip to be a positive learning experience. I have expanded my comfort zone and now have a sense of what to expect for transportation costs and time. Upon my next visit I'll be more scrupulous and have done some prior research, or at least know what I want out of the visit.
I also like the fact there are mountains surrounding Beijing! Next month, I plan to visit one with my colleagues and get a serious hike in! I'll provide details as I receive them!
As mentioned in previous blog posts, I enjoy thought provoking conversation with no clear outcome, and a high degree of abstraction (preferably while under the influence to abandon social constructs and habitual thinking patterns).
Consider the following example:
You're at an unspecified age, your body and mental capacity has deteriorated to the point you must be fully committed to a nursing home, within the next 30 days. At said nursing home, you will lose autonomy of your life: your meds will be administered, you're meals predetermined, someone puts you to bed, changes your clothes and upon being admitted, you'll be confined to a wheelchair.
Would you choose to end your own life before this happens (assuming your affairs are in order, on good terms with your family etc.)?
You can do anything you want, and there no concern about the afterlife, and subsequent various beliefs (or consequences of ending your own life). We are only considering HOW you will die. Money, possessions, people whatever you dream up is available. It could be anything from a time-release instant pain free death pill which activates within X time as you float down a quaint river with your family in a canoe, to being propelled to outer space and once clearing the atmosphere, a randomly selected number (within say 12 hours) starts a countdown to detonate the one-man rocket ship you are on.
Let's make this a little deeper, harder and more philosophical:
I think, one of the scariest views people hold about death, is the uncertainty about when it is coming. Such fear, as buried as it is, has a much more profound impact on our lives than we may like to admit. As the saying goes: Live as if you'll die tomorrow, dream as if you'll live forever. Personally, I believe our death is inside of us as much as our life is. The two are co-dependent. One cannot exist without the other. Therefore, if you are alive, you must equally harbour your death, and as such it must be as prominent as our life force. The Law of Conservation of Energy states energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Is death simply the transfer of our life energy to another host, and death simply the absence of energy (or even electricity)?
Whatever age you are at now, can you imagine pre-determining your own death date and means? I'm not talking about "suicide" in the sense of one not valuing their own life, and death is a means to an end or "escape". I'm talking about having a self-imposed pre-determined date for your exit from (this) life. You choose the date, time, location and circumstance. How does your life change? Your habits? Your values? Stephen Covey writes in his profound book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, on 'beginning with the end in mind'. In the exercise, he has you envision your funeral, and what you want people to say about you, who you want to attend, the legacy you want to leave etc. Take it a step further, why not begin with how your end will end? For the religious and stoics reading this, some would say there is a an existing and predetermined death-date. This should liberate individuals. Live on the edge, for if you die, it was the time you would have died normally, no sense living in fear of when you will die.
Is the uncertainty of ones death not removed if one self-imposes such a date and time? Can one face it more courageously knowing they have orchestrated the circumstance to favour them? If there is a pre-determined death date, and (our) death itself is within us, is it possible for someone to become in-tune with themself significantly enough to know when their death date is? What happens if their really is a pre-determined death date (time, location etc.), and this cannot be changed? Will the circumstances you sought to create simply not work out? What if your death date was meant to be exactly 1 year later?
Is everyone's death apart of a collective death energy, or is the death of each person an individual similar to that of an individual life? I think people consider their own life force as it being individual but death as a single entity which takes life from us. Can a death force be just as individual as ones own life force?
As per one of my original posts on predetermined outcomes and free will, does determining your own death date count as free will? Or was it predetermined to be that way? If so, how is it you can choose a death date and have it be predetermined?
Does predetermining your own death method and date, as outlined above, count as suicide? What benefits/drawbacks are there in terms of "emotional collateral damage" to friends, family and loved ones?
I'd really like to hear your comments, especially if you have done psychedelics and had a near death experience. What was your opinion on death before, during and after the NDE? Has anyone had an NDE without psychedelics and one (or more) with them? If you're willing, please compare and contrast.
Thank you for your patience, Internet access seems to be much better today and I am able to upload the audio, enjoy!
At Sport Fitness, the gym I regularly attend for yoga classes, there are four teachers throughout the week.
Of them, two are ok but have much room for improvement. One of these repeats poses so frequently, by the end of class we've only done a handful. Furthermore, many are repeated each session. This past week, I put a big effort into not becoming annoyed at such repetition, however, when we went from standing straight up, hands extended to bending over touching toes four times in a row for the 3rd week (after a series of other repeated moves), I'd had enough.
My effort to participate and regularly attend yoga is to further develop my skills, flexibility and personal insight. All of these are not being enhanced, challenged or even pushed with this teacher.
The second offers mildly more challenging poses, though the class communal structure, is very loose. By this I mean the teacher spends too much time with each individual who needs support as the rest of us finish the set (counted reps and not held for duration). This results in those who are more developed finishing early and sitting there. The lack of challenging poses makes this class hard to stay engaged in.
The third teacher is pretty good. She offers a variety of moves, keeps the class in alignment and gives the impression she could very easily amp up the poses way beyond many of our skill levels. I respect this about her, and hope she will turn the difficulty dial up just a few notches. Enter Sunil!
Sunil runs a class each Tuesday and Saturday evening. He arrived from India just a few months ago and has been teaching at my gym since my arrival. I would say I'm quite good at reading people, and get very good vibes off Sunil. He is very positive, collected, and insightful. Yoga is deeply personal to him and I feel he has strong mentors. I've found a number of his poses, just a step back from overly challenging. He keeps the class in formation and does a duration count instead of rep count, where he does the counting. He walks around and helps those, including myself, who need support in their pose. Whether it be a major form correction, or as he does with me, a push further ie. I am working on increasing my flexibility within my hamstrings, he'll have us in a pose and I'm working on pushing myself. My legs which are burning like hell, until Sunil comes along and pushes out an extra 15-20% of my stretch! It's fantastic, he is equally good at reading how to push me just to the very brink of my actual limit vs. what I think it to be.
If you follow my social media activity, blog, or personally communicate with me, you'll notice I am no longer as business focused/centric. Though elements still linger, I can appreciate business/economic components of situations. Take this case of yoga teachers for example. With all four yoga teachers, Sunil's class is by far the busiest. Other teachers have classes during the evening at the same time as he, and Sunil only teaches twice a week (as do the others). For those of you doing the math, two teachers have only one evening class, as Friday has no yoga, and the rest of the nights are taken by teachers. Now, Sunil has a jam packed studio each class, every week. His classes are so packed, the students stagger the mats so as not to bump each other when doing poses. The classroom, the size or a large lane swimming pool, is filled, typically 20-30 minutes before class starts! Guessing the number of attendees would be approximately 65+ per class.
In contrast, on other nights, classes are typically no larger than 15 students. Now, simple economics tells me, if there is demand, students will supply themselves/their time to be there. If he and his classes weren't as good as they are, why would people show up for his class specifically? This tells me, what Sunil is doing is top notch, it's working and people are enjoying what he offers. His class holds more regular attendees than the other classes, and people seem to be more engaged. I think this speaks volumes about his skill level, attitude, technique and teaching capabilities.
These are the kinds of teachers I seek to be learning from! As my travels take me around the world, India will no doubt be a great place for delving into yoga much further and refining my practice to new heights.
Whatever your interest, in anything you seek to learn, you must learn from a great teacher. Spare no expense finding people who are where you want to be. We often spend crazy amounts of time and money to look and appear like other people, often those who are merely putting on a facade. We ought to train ourselves to pour the same amount of time and money into learning new skills, habits and techniques from individuals who have mastered them! You owe it to yourself to seek out and become the best version of who you are!
initially I attempted to upload the previous post with the audio file attached. Unfortunately the Internet was being completely stupid last night (I notice both cellular and wifi go down aka wicked slow, simultaneously, which is ultra annoying).
See below low for attached audio file!
The following content could apply to many types of relationships, I'll apply it to romantic ones.
Over the course of the past few years, I've had a number of relationships which weren't overly healthy, were roller coasters and the romantic aspect existed without a pre-established friendship or any prior significant intimate knowledge of the person. Like many relationships, there'd be a few outings which were casual but the underlying component was laced with the intent to develop mutual exclusivity quite soon. This experimental period, I think, is similar to the honeymoon phase. It's filled with excitement, pleasant encounters, and you're both high on endorphins while overlooking potential down falls which may (and likely) develop later on.
Recently, an article surfaced on one of my feeds and I heeded the advice it proposed of having 3 specific criteria for your mate. Read the article here for details: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/psychology-tricks-find-love-ty-tashiro-wishes-2015-12.
After pondering this new information, I realized I wanted three, somewhat broad, requirements which were highly likely to result in people who have similar commonalities. For example, people who frequently attend the gym, usually have certain traits in common. I have narrowed down my three with an optional, highly valued "cherry-on-top" fourth.
1. Intellectual: you must be an abstract thinker, challenges the status quo, have a innovative and creative thought process and questions. Someone who can intellectually stimulate me, particularly on matters of ethics, philosophy and spirituality. Open mindedness is key.
2. Traveller/world citizen: if you cannot travel the world with me, we won't be dating long, or at all, as this is now a major component of my life. Besides, people who travel just have a different perspective on life. Sleeping on mountain tops, doing yoga on the beach and hiking through rain forests changes who you are. I require someone with a fervent sense of wanderlust and adventure.
3. Compatibility on at least 1 scale, but preferably 3 or more: this could be personality type test, TRUE colours test, love languages, zodiac sign, natal report, life path number etc. I pick this because as unique of individuals as we all may be, we fit within set number of characteristics. It is simply the degree of said characteristics which has infinite possibilities. Similar to how there are infinite numbers between 0 and 1 and yet only two positive integers (in this example, the positive integers represent 0,1 as characteristics such as honesty and compassion). Given the parameters of various compatibility tests, this drastically helps reduce potential candidates.
4. We vibe together when under the influence. If you consume psychedelics, and we vibe together, you've hit the jackpot!
I can't stress the importance of knowing what you're looking for in a person. This could be a confidant, partner, or friend. Having clearly defines prerequisites simply makes determining who to make an effort for exponentially easier. For example I'm in yoga today, sweat drenched head to toe, and there is this super hot girl close by. Now, setting aside the fact she [likely] doesn't speak decent English, once I observed she wasn't willing to put in half an effort to fully engage in the class it was apparent I wouldn't pursue anything. What was the point? She wasn't even challenging herself to break a sweat let alone anything more. This class is jam packed each session throughout the week, the room is super hot, and the teacher really pushes us. It would actually take effort, to not make an effort to the point of not sweating. Although not on my list, someone who has a strong yoga practice will carry substantial weight with me. In fact, I often search yoga classes for potentials who may have the aforementioned requirements. After the class finished, I went to the Body Balance class, and behold was another attractive girl (isn't this great?! 😁), who was making an obvious effort to be fully engaged, completed all poses, kept up with the instructor and was sweating as much as I. Unfortunately, she left early, the great thing is I've noticed people who attend these classes, is they usually attend regularly. This girl, being in quite good shape, would likely be at another class and I'd have another chance.
Knowing what you are looking for comes with the following distinct benefits:
1. Knowing what you want makes it easy to identify someone who has what you seek.
2. Knowing what you want makes it easy to identify someone who doesn't have what you seek (Both 1 and 2 allow for quick decisions on why you should or shouldn't pursue someone).
3. Your requirements become talking points. Travelling is an easy example, after introducing myself to someone I can simply ask their experience and willingness to travel. If they aren't willing to do so, they don't make the short list.
4. You're less likely to make unreasonable compromises because you have a specific reason they don't match ie. this person is someone that I will not pursue because she does not intellectually challenge me. It's really easy now without having to contemplate all the false-justifying "buts" we often use to complicate situations.
Having gone through this "filtering" of candidates, you are left with a rather small number of people who remain. This is exactly what you want, because, now you can target your energy on people who are highly likely to align with you and be what you are looking for. It's about quality over quantity.
I've found using such a method really helps weed out the people who take up time in your life unnecessarily, and helps you quickly identify with those who you want in your life. You'll spend less time debating who's worth it and more time developing relationships with those who are.
(Audio file attached)
Going to the gym has been something I know should have been doing for the past decade but have been mostly avoiding it. When I did sign up, I'd go sporadically then stop abruptly. At my previous residence in downtown Toronto, there was a gym included, however I rarely went. Mostly I'd take advantage of the aquatic facilities. Upon starting yoga, I would regularly use the gym area to do so. Similarly, this pattern has continued here in China (simply showing your location doesn't change who are, you must do so yourself). With this gym membership, the weights have only been done a few times and I'm otherwise there usedfor yoga. Now to be honest, the access to yoga classes was the intent of the membership, thus I am using it appropriately. Here are some of my gym observations since starting the membership:
1. The gym location I access is, like many, inside a mall. In Canada, I observed the gyms open quite early (~5am), and often the mall will accommodate this. Here, at least with this location, this is not allowed. Many people are up quite early in my area, so I doubt the gym doesn't open due to a lack of attendance. This beautiful park just on the other side of the freeway close by is FILLED with people each morning who are walking, doing Tai Chi or stretching. I'm talking in the neighbourhood of at least 300+ people, who are there around 6-6:15am! Granted the demographic may be different than those who have gym memberships.
2. This gym - Sport Fitness - allows children to attend! Obviously ones in NA require you to be 18. Admittedly, I haven't seen many kids, except in a few yoga classes and they come to my favourite one which, unfortunately, does draw some attention from the teacher. The reason the class is my favourite is because we are pushed hard, and this drawing of the teachers attention thereby reduces the intensity of the class. Stay tuned for a post about this teacher and why I enjoy his sessions so much.
3. Attending the gym seems to be a status thing over a strong interest in personal health. Don't get me wrong, there are a few health buffs I've seen around. From my limited observation in NA, it seems the majority of gym attendees are in quite good shape, and a small percentage are either new, or there for taking selfies and half-ass workouts. This seems to be the opposite here. I can say this with a little more confidence, as I'm typically at the gym 4-6 times a week for classes, which are held during the busiest times of day. I've seen people chilling in jeans, people just sitting around messaging, people conversing for long periods of time and so on. I'm not judging, simply observing and reporting. And if that's what one wants to do with their time, by all means. I'm curious as to why people would do so at the gym and not at a bar, restaurant or park?
4. Participants, if you could call them that, in group classes such Body Balance, Jumba and Yoga think it's ok to stop in the middle of class to take a phone call, send a voice message over WeChat or text their friends (many times with sounds going off). I've been told they think this is ok because they paid for the membership. If you are in the gym, out of people's way and not disturbing anyone, this is one thing. Being in the middle of a group class, having your alerts go off, and talking are all disrespectful. The Chinese culture is complex, they often talk of being in harmony with each other, and not causing conflict, yet they often do not engage with other Chinese people who are not within their circle of friends and in this case show no respect for people who are taking the class alongside them.
The gym has been a good spot to meet local friends and socialize, alongside pushing my boundaries a little. Last night, I tried a new class called Body Balance. At the beginning I was a bit nervous, having no knowledge of how the class runs, the routine, and of course not speaking Chinese. I was the only male, foreigner, and newbie in the class. But, there was several cute girls there, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try something new, and if I messed up, oh well, it would be an easy platform to talk with them about: "Hi, nice to meet you, as I'm sure you noticed, this is my first time in class and I am still learning. Obviously, you know what's going on and seem to be experienced, perhaps you could go over a few moves with me?!" Talk about smooth transitioning! The gym, and any group activities are easy ways to meet people because you immediately have something in common -- the activity! Besides, girls aren't usually hanging out in the free weights section, that's just a sausage fest over there. Plus, these classes, especially the Body Balance one will definitely whip you into shape! Hit the weights in the morning when nobody else is around playboy; you'll have all the dumbbells to yourself.
For the first few seconds of class, I felt a little out of place. It didn't take long to memorize the Tai Chi moves, but once I got those down, it was as easy to participate as with any other yoga class (both of which are in Chinese and I have no clue what's being said). The awkwardness only lasted a few moments and then subsided. In fact, I didn't really notice it disappearing until a few moments later when I was keeping pace with the instructor! The class was challenging but provided opportunity to push mental and physical limits. Nothing like a room with a bunch of fit hoties in yoga tights to keep your ass motivated! Whatever , your reason or method, try something new, it's better to try and quit then to quit before trying.
It's sad how much we let self-imposed limits control and deter us! Practice putting yourself in new situations and admitting to both yourself and others you are new and inexperienced but willing to try and learn. You'd be surprised at not only how pitiful such fear is but sad to observe the extent to which this controls much of people's lives! Make a decision, right now, to not let this person be you! We feel weak if we are not superior at all we do, this is incorrect! Owning up to something eliminates any weakness and allows you to start without having to worry about what others think because you have admitted you are just starting.
While abroad there are many things you need to learn quickly, and how the locals work with money is a very important one. Here are five tips to help you manage a little easier:
1. Learn the number system in the local language. Pretty near all countries use a numerical system which runs on counts of ten called the decimal system we are all used too. What may be different, is how your destination country counts these ten digits ie. in English we count ten, twenty, thirty... However other languages, such as Chinese, while using the decimal system express it differently in their language ie. ten, two-ten, three-ten. Knowing these differences will help you be able to show the number on your fingers as multiples.
2. Ask other customers the price of something before asking an employee/the owner. The customer has less interest and means to obtain money from you. By asking the cashier, they can simply show on their fingers, a higher number. I've had this happen a couple times when paying for food, granted they only charged me a few extra Yuan (a few Canadian cents to a dollar extra). At this point, there are a few options, you can start a pity fight with a local over a few cents, or pay and help them out a bit. Better to pay it forward. You can also ask for the price, then use an app which converts text via photo to confirm the price. Now if you're straight up being jerked around, obviously refuse. I had a taxi driver say it'd cost me 30¥ instead of ~18¥ for a ride home one night. Just politely say no thanks and move on. It's important to note, many times if you approach a taxi and ask how much it will be. This provided them the opportunity to make up a price. Simply get in the car and express the address of your destination. If they do not turn the meter on, you're not required to pay the fare.
3. Use a photo translation app, preferably one which works offline. This avoids being dependent on widely varying internet connections or restricted services ie. google etc.
4. Negotiate. In many places around the world, prices are negotiable. Always try to get the price lowered, if they want to do business with you, merchants often will. Especially street merchants.
5. Discuss and finalize price before pulling out your money. This way, the seller can't see how much you have and push you upwards if they observe you have many funds. You can use this in the opposing direction and only display a smaller amount of funds; making such an impression of what you have available and negotiate downwards.
To my Canadian friends, it takes about 2 seconds to become used to not having to calculate taxes! Once you're some place which displays prices with taxes included, it's a dream come true!
On May 02 some expats and I travelled to a nearby mountain called Mt. Panshan about 2 hours from Tianjin city. Given my planned travels for next summer, mimicking the backpacking experience in preparation seemed to be a practical exercise (no pun intended).
In my big backpack, the following were packed: pants, long sleeve shirt (as head covering or if it got cold), sweater, 3L of water, apple, banana, orange, two sandwiches, my journal, box of cookies, wallet, sunscreen, toilet paper, lock and cable for my bag, sunglasses and a few other little things. Estimated pack weight -- about 15lbs. Climbing with this weight was not bad at all. In fact, the 4 hours of hiking with this equipment was easier and lighter than carrying my normal backpack with iPad+keyboard, yoga mat, shirt/pants, and 3 pieces of fruit.
Although travelling with colleagues and new friends to the mountain, I ventured off on my own. "Outgoing introvert" would be an appropriate self-describing personality type for me. There personalities thrive being around people, and can do so for long periods of time. Then comes a point where time alone is needed. My own company and the room to think in solitude are refreshing. Such was the intention for this hike. Additionally, when out in Vancouver last summer, I completed the Grouse Grind in approximately 54 minutes, when average times are 1.5 hours. With this mountain being several times smaller, I anticipated a quick hike and wanted to see what the climb time would be like.
This hike itself was much easier on its own, however the weather added an interesting challenge. It became cold early on, started raining, and was really windy. The three combined made the trek across the ridge from the first to the second peak an opportunity for building mental stamina -- which it indeed did.
The following are 11 points I became mindful of which will really help me on subsequent hikes:
1. Clothes: You should have three sets of clothes. The first, you wear and these should be selected based on weather forecasts. The second for adjusting to unforeseen weather/environmental changes. The third set for changing when you finish and need a back up dry set. This time, I wore shorts and t-shirt, however, upon arrival it was cold, windy and started to rain. The long sleeve shirt came in handy quickly. I ended up taking the pants back off because it was getting too hot with them on. A small pair of gloves would have been much appreciated.
2. Act early on observations: Something which became apparent very quickly is to notice and act on your circumstances before they become problems. What do I mean? Act before it's obvious to do something ie. Have a snack BEFORE you are hungry, change your clothes if you start to get cold, not once you've become cold. This requires attention to detail and the capability to not think it will pass or you're ok. This was helpful when wearing the pants I brought and started to sweat in them. Taking them off early meant being able to better regulate my body temperature.
3. Mistakes with clothing: When starting to hike up the hill, I put the long sleeve shirt and pants on over my t-shirt and shorts. Shortly after starting to climb, the pants were taken off and put in my pack. My mistake? Not putting the pants into a plastic bag like my sweater was. The end result? Once the hike was over, I was soaked and cold. I had to keep wearing my shorts because my pants weren't inside a plastic bag and got wet. The second mistake was not taking off the t-shirt when putting on the long sleeve shirt. This would have been an extra layer to wear under the zip up thin sweater I had.
4. Poncho: I bought a poncho, which I was glad for, though purchasing two, the second for my pack, would have been the wiser move. While on the mountain ridge, it was super windy, I guessed wind speeds were reaching 45m/h plus. The poncho did have a few buttons, but being so spread out created a pocket for the wind to catch and noticed many people having wet spots given the blowing wildly and rain getting inside. I put mine on, spun it around and with the buttons on my back, I didn't have to worry about the wind or rain going inside. This did create a problem, but this problem lead to the discovery of a new awesome solution!
5. Head covering: With my poncho on backwards, my new solution created a new problem - no use of the hood! What to do about covering my head?! Luckily, I was able to use a bag holding my little items from my pack (because a separate bag was covering the top of it) on my head! The cherry on top? I always have elastics on my wrist because when you need one they come in SUPER handy! Imagine this, it's a moderate rain, winds are ~45km/h, it's cold and you need a head covering. Put the plastic bag over your head and ears, take the elastic and tie the loose part of the bag in a pony-tail! The bag won't let in any water, but better yet, the plastic is great at reflecting the heat from your head and will actually keep your head warm! Now some studies have debunked estimates of loosing 40-45% of your body heat from your head, and this may be true... But, in any case, your head houses your brain, so, that's kinda important, and when out on a hike, any part of your body being cold sucks. So, just put the damn bag on your head, and keep a few elastics handy. If nothing else, you can find some other use for both of them.
6. Plastic bags and elastics: Having a few of each was essential for nifty little tricks, and will no doubt reveal numerous more. I used my bags for keeping clothes and food dry, easy categorization and un/packing of items from bag and making a cover for the top of my pack. Elastics are also great for sealing items such as opened packages, holding items together like writing utensils, passport and papers etc. A quick note on how to seal your plastic bags with food/clothes inside. Initially, I tied tight knots for mine, however this was a mistake because once the climb was finished, I was cold and too weak to even tear a pack of cookies open let alone the tight knots on the plastic bags (which can be tricky normally). How to avoid such problems: use the elastics to tightly seal the bag, or tie and leave a small handle from completing the know which allows you to tug at the handles of the plastic bag and undo it.
7. Devices: Although I was able to take a few photos, I would have took more had there been a waterproof case on my iPhone. Or I had a GoPro. I'm contemplating both.
8. Pack the right food: I tend to favour bananas, oranges and apples. Bananas are great for keeping energy up, helps to keep you alert and can keep hunger pains at bay. Just be mindful where you pack them as they can get squished. Apples are super easy to pack, lightweight, and apparently provide energy faster and longer than a coffee does. I can back this up, the day I did the Grouse Grind, I only had around 5 hours of sleep and partied a little the night before. I ate a large apple right before starting and was sustained throughout the hike (along side some water and strong mental attitude). I repeated the method of eating the apple before the hike this time, and it worked again. Oranges can be a bit of a pain to peel, and I'm sure there are nutritional benefits, this is not why I like them though. Peeling an orange and taking it apart requires a little focus. This can be a small refreshing change to the brain. The real reason is the juices of an orange are sweet and actually wet. This is great if you have little water left over and want to wet your tongue, or if you get tired of the bland taste of water. Lastly, they provide a sweet liquid without the dehydrating sugars found in energy drinks or sodas. I'll be looking more into nuts and dried fruits for my larger hikes. It's important to eat just before you get hungry, this helps your body and mentality stay maintained instead of loosing focus on your hike because you are hungry. The proactive mindset is just helpful in general.
9. Breathing: Keeping focused on your breathing rate will deliver consistent oxygen to your muscles and help your endurance. A portion of the climb included 740 stairs in increments. I took these stairs 2 at a time, and stuck to a strict, rapid breathing schedule. Each new step I had to start a new breathing cycle (1 inhale and 1 exhale) before the next step. After each set, I took approximately a 30 second breather and deliberately took slow deep breathes, to lower my heart rate. The net result was being able to climb all sets with surprising ease, and only getting sore thigh muscles on the top few stairs of the last few sets. Recovery time also seemed to be significantly shorter as well. Each time I do an exercise, a quote from the movie Never Back Down rings in my mind where the coach tells this hot shot kid "you'll defeat yourself if you don't control your breathing".
10. Control water intake: Having a pack with a bladder pocket is great! Mine holds 3L, and let me tell you, water is HEAVY! It's important to control your intake not only so you do not consume all your water early (which leads to numerous issues later), but drinking too much can lead to feeling bloated, cramps and constantly having to go to the bathroom. By controlling the intake, you stay hydrated and your body will use most of the water resulting in not having to pee as much.
11. Posture and centre of gravity: My developing yoga practice has provided insights I didn't foresee applying to numerous other areas of my life. Posture has been one of the major benefits, and it is equally important, if not more so when hiking. With the added weight of a pack and the incline of the mountain, proper posture is essential! Many people start to bend forward to compensate for the incline, make sure to do so at the hips, while keeping your back straight and leading your body with your heart pressed forward. This reduces sweat build up on your back, removes pressure on the bladder pack, and helps your central nervous system (spine) communicate with your body more effectively. Hiking also requires a lot of core and back strength. Having a strong core is not appropriate only for countering the weight on your back, but also for lowering your centre of gravity! This helps prevent you from loosing balance, and plays a role in creating a strong foundation. Try the following tips to: 1) Flex your abs, 2) When climbing try stepping with the ball of your foot, not the heel 3) Rooting down through your legs and toes (flexing your toes into the ground as if they were fingers grabbing a handful of dirt - visualizing it helps). These tips will provide you a better stance any time they're practiced.
There is talk of doing another climb on the much bigger Mt. Ling near Beijing next month. I will keep you updated as details emerge.
Throughout the past several years, I have been a major fan of waking up early and doing so naturally with the sun. During my time in Toronto, attempted with limited success, and ultimately failed efforts, were made to do this regularly. Progress would abound during summer when it meant getting up around 5:30. Then I would subsequently flutter back into old sleeping habits during winter, when the sun didn't rise until 7:30, or later.
Thankfully, Tianjin is a little further South and gets more sun. It doesn't hurt this results in a fantastic dry heat! Typically in Toronto, I didn't like being outside above 24°C because it is too humid. Here, I've been outside in pants and long sleeve shirt at 30°C and comfortable! Anyways, I digress. As you know I listen to a lot of audio content to learn now instead of solely reading. In the post "Lessons From Negotiations, Audiobooks and Overcoming Fear" (http://www.solotripabroad.com/blog/lessons-from-negotiations-audiobooks-and-overcoming-fear) I wrote of listening to The Tim Ferris Show (a podcast) and the interview of Josh Waitzkin (author of the book: The Art of Learning). Both speakers recommended listeners start journaling, and doing so as early in the morning as possible.
Shortly thereafter, I started. Why not? There is AMPLE free time here given the new job hours (which are ~ 12 hours a week and making the same money as back home), I thought it'd be worth the try.
With my first entry on April 22, I committed to do 15 minutes of writing shortly after waking up. This is usually around 5:45-6, with no alarm. As of this writing (May 03, 2016, Beijing Time), I have missed one day. On average I write about two pages worth of content. Topics could be regarding anything. Josh Waitzkin recommends writing in the morning as this is when people usually have a burst of creativity and aren't bogged down by the wares of the day. He is correct. Entries cover what I dreamed of the previous night, things bothering me, habits I seek to obtain or get rid of, my budgeting progress, what I've been thinking, what I've learned, ideas for these posts and financial action items.
As a result, I really enjoy doing the writing. Capturing my thoughts is very personally rewarding and improves both writing skill and style. Since starting, I've found what I write about in the journal entry seems to be more prominent in my mind if it is something I am working on (such as sticking to a budget), throughout the day. Conversely, thoughts which bothered me now seem to no longer be as forceful. Think of it as a pressure release valve for negative thoughts and a rise in the positive flow valve for thoughts and action items.
This new habit has been fantastic in assisting me to take the appropriate steps to pay off 35% of my debt, of which the remaining pieces are in motion. This is not about capturing the information, so much as it is about writing it down. We've all made numerous entries into Notes on our iPhone, but somehow those don't get accomplished the way they seem to in commercials. The more I write out my plans on paper, the more actions are completed.
This method was used for planning the move to Asia and resulted in 95% of the tasks completed in 30 days vs. my daily to-do list in Notes which rarely gets half way done, let alone completed. Change your verbal and mental wording, from "to-do's" to "actions" or "action items". The brain visualizes them differently and the outcome, is equally reflective. I believe this also gives credence to the notion whereby we rise to the occasion... provided the occasion is big enough to inspire our action.
I challenge you, to write out actions worthy of your inspiration! Make them grand and exciting, it is in this realm you become the person you are truly meant to fulfill. Otherwise, why bother with your efforts in life? If you're life is not exciting to you, I believe you are not living. Truthfully, striving for such grand action can be frightening, but such fright is often hollow, ungrounded, illogical and self-imposed. Buy a small notebook, spend 15 minutes of your day writing out the voice in your head, dream big and change your life!
With a new work schedule, weekends are each Monday and Tuesday, every week. The new consistency is appreciated. On these two days, there is opportunity to explore the city or do activities with other expats. Thus far, only the former has been exercised, while the later will happen later today. Something most desired when making this move was an increased capacity to wander, explore, walk/hike and spend time alone. Exploring thoughts, listening to audiobooks (currently on The Tao Of Seneca, see Resources page for more), seeing new things and just having down time is very relaxing, and provides opportunity for much personal growth.
This nomadic action has been taken a step further. The routine starts with taking a taxi somewhere random within the city, usually with the intent to do yoga. Sometimes it's done immediately upon arrival, if the spot is appropriate, other times, not so. The mat is always brought along given it has multiple uses: yoga, something to lay on for a sleep mid-afternoon or to sit on while eating lunch. During these days off exploration is the focus, both personal and geographical. There is no worry, or consideration, for time or location. Why should there be? How many of you can say you've wandered around, even within your own city; without checking your phone, worrying about time, being mindful of your location, or secluding yourself from the outside world while in the midst of it? It is something everyone should at least attempt. Too many people are oblivious to their distraction because they do not know who they are or what they want in life.
These actions (not keeping time, nor location, and regular exploration) are being practiced so such "skills" may be adequately rehearsed once the upcoming journey to SE Asia next summer commences. This will be alongside rigorous physical training for hiking long distances, weight endurance (carrying backpack over long distances), and mental stamina.
Take some time in your life for planned relaxation and self-reflection, without access to Internet, social media etc. Observe who you are, what you enjoy, what you think about and allow your mind to wander freely, not in judgement of thought but simple observance. Journaling these thoughts will come in handy. Make these notes on paper, with a pen, and not in your phone. The physical aspect of this makes it more meaningful. See the upcoming post on journaling, due out tomorrow.
Once you arrive in China, or spend any significant time with Chinese people, you'll notice they use WeChat -- A LOT! One of the main features used in WeChat is voice messages instead of text. It may have something to do with the keyboard, and having to potentially type more for their characters. It is also much faster to communicate in Chinese verbally than over text.
What about English? In NA, I haven't observed many locals using voice messages for communicating. The first and obvious reason is those in NA may not want others hearing their conversations. True. I think there is a different reason though. After having been around the central area of TJ for several weeks, I've unconsciously observed many people, even young people, tend not to listen to the music with their headphones in -- or at all on their device. I see it on a few people, though I'd say less than 1-4%, at least in my area.
Not having headphones in for music playing contributes largely to why they are so open to using voice messages. The Chinese know they are already under massive surveillance, and with each person having seen it all, maybe they don't mind others hearing about their life?
By not having headphones in all the time, this allows them to send as many voice messages as they want without having their music fade in and out each time they read and reply to a message. This is coupled with how much more frequently the Chinese seem to message people. None, or at least significantly less, of these rules and messaging etiquette on waiting for someone to text you back, and all the stuff Aziz Anzari discusses in shows, seems to apply here. They'll get the hint and stop messaging you if you just stop responding at all for a long period of time, but if your in a conversation and stop responding for a few moments, people will actually text you "hello?! Are you still there?" And having only waited a few minutes! A really nice benefit of this is people tend to respond much quicker -- unlike in NA. It's ironic, people in NA are often on their phone but can also take a long time to respond.
Such rapid messaging also has a downside in that anywhere a person currently occupies they will respond! What do I mean? If you're walking down the stairs of a pedestrian overpass, and someone in front of you gets a message -- they stop dead in their tracks and respond immediately. In yoga classes, I swear a phone goes off at least once every 10 minutes, and people have no problem stopping mid-session to take a phone call or send a voice message while everyone else around continues changing poses (maddening)!
Oddly, and perhaps I just haven't observed close enough yet, but group chats seem to be all in text vs. voice message. Having said this, the major group messages I'm apart of (some of which have nearly 200 members for bars, gyms, classes etc.) are mostly with foreigners. The demographic change may be the cause of the preferred text messages over audio. Or, simply listening to audio from this many people would take a long time and people couldn't skim the conversation. Ie. I can finish a 1.5hour class, check my phone and have 100+ messages unread in a single convo!
I find these little subtleties fascinating! I have another post after this which covers a second one I've recently observed.