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“The best version of yourself” | An expose on life

by Stuart Charles Black
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Hi friend and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get started, check out my post, “The 9-5 paradigm”! It’s a little rough around the edges and was my first blog ever here at home studio basics. But it’s still very thought-provoking!

Other than that,

Today I just wanted to come at you all with a little something different this time around. I have been doing a lot of reflection lately, as well as going through quite a bit of change.

I recently moved out of my parent’s house and started fully relying on myself, and it has been quite a challenge and adjustment, to say the least! I have learned so much in such a short time and thought I’d share some knowledge and inspiration for anyone who might need it. A lot of this stuff has been brewing long before I moved out, and I wanted to get it off my chest.

Sometimes all it takes is a positive word or a situation to pick us up out of a foul mood. It also gives us some perspective when we see that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and could always be worse.

Lately, I’ve had to do some serious “pause and reflect.” It’s sort of like cause and effect but not 😛 Every time I start to think negatively about something, I instead pause and give myself some perspective on where I was before, in relation to where I am now. It can be so easy to get caught up in where we want to be, that we don’t realize how far we’ve actually come! Of course, this is only true if you’ve made a conscious effort to improve your life in some way.

Discipline and Habits

Pulling the cat’s tail was a bad habit I had 🙂

One of the most important things I’ve learned thus far is not putting things off until tomorrow. Of course, we can never be perfect, but relying on ourselves for everything forces us to be more disciplined and form better habits. It also inspires you to change the bad ones into good ones!

  • If you’d like a deeper dive into habits, check out this post on my other blog/portfolio site 🙂

I challenge anyone reading this to think of something you do daily that could be considered a bad habit. Tomorrow, instead of getting caught in that cycle, switch it up and either change that habit into a good one or develop a separate good habit.

It takes discipline at first to continue with a good habit, but once you do it enough times, it becomes second nature. Just think about all of your bad habits! You don’t even really think about them in your waking life. They are now part of your sub-conscious, and without realizing it, every day we are constantly giving in to them, repeating the cycle over and over again.

The good news is that you can form this same cycle by doing something as simple as making your bed every morning. Something, ANYTHING positive to start out. I used to never do this. But I made the conscious effort to do it enough times that it’s now become a habit. I don’t think about it at all. I wake up and I do it.

This is a small example, but you can see what I’m getting at. Apply this same principle with cleaning your room, hanging up your clothes, conserving electricity, washing your sheets regularly, vacuuming the floor, doing the dishes as you use them instead of letting them pile up, preparing bulk meals for the week, working out, reading the bible, making a conscious effort to avoid fast food, quitting smoking, etc. The list goes on and on.

Instead of saying “I need to do such and such”, instead say: “I HAVE to do this” You’d be surprised what this one little variant in the sentence can do to your mindset. If you say: “I have to workout today” then you have no choice but to work out. When you say: “I need to work out today” it means nothing. It just means you’re aware of the fact that you’re lazy and nothing more.


When you’re dedicated to something, anything, it shows. You put your heart and soul into it for better or worse. You could be dedicated to something extremely detrimental to your progress! It’s hard to truly be dedicated to something all the time, however. We live in a distracted world. Most of us are more into Facebook and other people’s lives than we are our own path. I was the same way. Getting lots of attention on my posts meant more to me than the post itself at one time. I started getting frustrated that my well-thought-out, relevant posts got no attention, while the senseless and hollow ones were the talk of the town.

So I quit using it. I realized that it’s not other people’s job to prop me up, make me feel good, or somehow validate my life. That may seem obvious to you, but how many egocentric, self-indulgent people do you know on Facebook? Ever seen the profile of the girl with about 500 selfies? I rest my case.

We should always be asking ourselves the question, “Is _____ helping me progress or move forward with my life?” If the answer is no, then drop it. Plain and simple. If the answer is yes, then obviously we want to hold on to that thing.

Instead of being dedicated to social media, or something else that isn’t good for you, I challenge you to instead dedicate yourself to something you love to do or want to learn. Take up a hobby, learn about marketing, hone a craft like music, read some books, read the bible, learn to draw or paint, play a sport, etc. Anything that develops you into a better person.

Dedicate yourself fully to something positive, and reap the rewards.

Perseverance and Consistency

Oddly enough, this is still my Achilles heel, and something that I am working on but have had the most trouble with throughout my life. It’s easy to be consistent at something for a few weeks, maybe even a few months. But to continuously dedicate yourself to it daily over a long period of time is one of the toughest things to conquer.

Inevitably you will face obstacles just when you think it’s smooth sailing. It reminds me of a really good Grateful Dead song called Uncle Johns band.

“Well the first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry any more,
‘Cause when life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.”

This can pretty much sum up how life works. The key (no pun intended) is to keep pushing through and stay positive throughout every moment in which you feel like giving up. It’s also to realize that you will face setbacks but to be strong through them and let those bad experiences and feelings toughen you up a little.

My mom used to read me a book called the Little engine that could. I will never forget the moment he finally made it up the seemingly insurmountable hill. Reading and seeing that left me with an indescribably blissful feeling. Speaking of inspirational books, whatever happened to our youth? 😛

You can do it!

There are days when my confidence skyrockets and I feel like I can do anything, while other days I wonder what the heck I’m doing and why I’m doing it. When inspiration strikes, grab a hold of it for as long as possible because it comes and goes.

There’s no way to be 100% focused 100% of the time. You will have moments when you’re ready to throw in the towel, and call it a day. Just don’t cash it in for good. A great phrase to live by is that nothing good, or worth doing, happens overnight. What separates the success stories from the rest is the fact that those people struggled and failed over and over before they succeeded. And they LOVE to talk about it.

Michael Jordan in an interview was asked what made him so great. “Was it your talent?” they asked. Understandably he got a little irritated and shot back: “No it’s not that, it’s that I never compared myself to anyone else. I tried to be the best version of me that I could be, every day of my life.”

Those aren’t his exact quotes, but close to it. It illustrates my point perfectly. Comparing yourself to others only makes you miserable. Unless you can draw inspiration from those people and not get bitter, envious, or even jealous, then it’s best to forget about them altogether. Be happy for others, but focus on yourself, your passions, talents, and dreams, and the rest will fall into place. I’m not saying shut out people completely though. Have compassion and empathy for others, but realize that you’re the one who has to live with yourself every day. Make that person somebody you can be proud of. Imagine if everyone did that. The world might be a better place!

Solid Snake learns compassion.

“If you want to view, paradise… Simply look around and view it… Anything you want to, do it… Want to change the world? There’s nothing, to it.”

Patience and What goes around comes around

Ahh, patience. That one thing that seemingly no one has. Whenever I tell my Dad to “Have some patience!” he says:

“Sorry I’m not a doctor, I don’t have any patience!”

It can be hard to sit back and wait for something, biding our time. After all, the time we have on earth is limited, so trying to remain calm seems like an exercise in futility. Honestly, you could die tomorrow and that would be the end of it. Still, though, having patience can sometimes be the greatest reward of all.

Have you ever prayed for something, tried your best in all your endeavors, and didn’t see immediate results? Maybe you decided to leave it be for a while and focus on other things. Then later on down the road you finally reaped a reward (or rewards) for all of your hard work and patience?

Maybe you decided to really start going out of your way to help others, and give your time and money when it felt uncomfortable to do so. These are the things that can give us immediate inner strength and comfort, as well as long-term benefits. Giving for the sake of it is the most important thing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t help us out. The more you give, the more you receive.

This is something that I’ve learned over the past year or two. Though I am focused on my goals, the world doesn’t revolve around me. The book of Luke talks about giving more than you feel comfortable with. I challenge anyone reading this to do exactly that next time you come across a stranger in need. Go out of your way to provide them with as much as you can! Even if you don’t believe in God, do it out of a sense of duty, as the great philosopher Immanuel Kant suggests.

The Bottom Line

Work hard, be critical of yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Be the best version of yourself that you can be. Recognize where you were, where you are now, and where you want to be. As long as you’ve progressed in a positive way from the person you were yesterday, 5 years ago, or even 10 years ago, then you’re headed in the right direction. I’ll leave you with an inspirational video that gives me a newfound perspective every time I watch it.

Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech

Well, there are no words left for me to say, that speech pretty much sums it up, guys! I truly hope you took away something from this post. My words were from the heart and had been on my spirit for a long time. Feel free to leave a comment below or just reach out to me in general. I would love to hear from you!

As always…

All the best and God bless,





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Alex October 14, 2015 - 2:44 am

Hello there,

These are some great time for the self employed. I have been my own ‘boss’ for over three years and I have struggled with similar problems. Procrastination has been my biggest issue and is basically due to fear of whatever you need to do. The best way to overcome it is to set a short time limit on the action item and just do it!


Stu October 15, 2015 - 2:50 am

Thanks for the advice Alex! Procrastination can truly be one of life’s biggest hindrances if we let it. I have come a long way, but still so far to go..

Hope to see you again soon my man!


RachelLouise56 December 6, 2015 - 10:10 pm

Great article! I recently moved out myself and it’s the first time living on my own. Discipline is something that comes pretty easy for me, but with the end of the semester coming up, my discipline has declined a little bit, so I’m trying to get back into the swing of being productive every day. Reading your article was very good for me, thanks!

Stu December 8, 2015 - 11:42 pm

Thanks Rachel!

So glad to hear from you again. Do you have any tips on better discipline habits? Although I’ve gotten better, it’s still one of my weaker areas.

Talk soon,


Viljoen December 22, 2015 - 2:09 pm

Hi Stu.

This is a very well written piece about becoming the best you can be. I found that it is very important to measure ourselves against our previous results in order to see whether we have improved or not.

It takes time to grow so the general rule of thumb is to grow 1% each day in any area of your life.

Stu December 29, 2015 - 7:01 pm

Thanks much Viljoen!

I agree with you! Sometimes we can become overwhelmed in trying to do it all at once. I know I am guilty of that, and it can become frustrating at times. One day at a time!!


Paul January 15, 2016 - 2:27 pm

Hi Stu, interesting blog you have there. I like the way that you tell it like you see it. It’s good to see that you are interested in self improvement and I like the way that you promote the idea of people becoming the best version of themselves that they can be rather than trying to be like someone else. I can’t understand why anyone would want to keep up with the Kardashians!

Stu January 16, 2016 - 9:11 pm

Thanks Paul!

I think any habit is reversible, and I’m finding that out first hand in changing some of my old ways. I’m no longer as much a slave to it anymore. With a little willpower and God’s help, anything is achievable. It’s really a matter of seeing a habit through until it becomes routine. Then and only then will it become permanent. Of course, it can be reversed again, but only if you let it.

Thanks for stopping by!


Daniel Lara February 9, 2016 - 3:43 am

Hey, Stu! Great writing and really hit home with me. I have just moved into a new apartment, one that is significantly better than my last place. It is, however, considerably costlier and even though me and my wife can afford it there’s always a little bit of fear that’s involved in such a big decision. It is a great incentive to just be reminded that you should always indeed try to be the best version of yourself, so you can own what you have and what you deserve and not be afraid of the consequences – at least this is the place I am in. Hope that made some sense! Cheers, mate.

Stu February 10, 2016 - 1:39 am

Hey man!

Thanks for your comment. I agree, even now I can afford the apt, but I don’t have a lot of wiggle room. It can be scary at times. Especially because you’re relying on yourself for everything. Literally. It can be a challenge if you’re down, stressed out, or unmotivated. Right now I’m a little of each, and it’s tough on my psyche. Hope you are doing well, and good luck with everything.

Stop back in anytime!


Maciek February 28, 2021 - 7:13 am

Excellent article Stu, I’ve been a fan of your audio blog and videos for a while now, I really appreciate your down to earth approach to things in audio… But I never expected this kind of content! And, even better, this happens *exactly* at a time when I needed to read about this kind of thinking. I’m having a little crisis in motivation. No need to go into details, long story short is that I realized was trying to escape some daily hardships using sound. Which is not bad in itself, of course, but I’m spending too much time looking at reviews of headphones and debating whether I should get my dream headphones (hd650). The thing is though… I already have really nice cans (akgk701) and spending what is not a small sum for me on another pair is really just scratching that gadget itch to have that beautiful new THING… I noticed that the elavated urge to do that comes exactly at the moment of increased difficulty and stress at work and life. I suspect I’m not really looking for a headphone or a better way to listen to music (which I think is a sacred element of life, pardon the pretentious tone :)) but for a way to forget about the *real* problems that require fixing. So it’s a bit of a surprise for me that reading my favorite audiophile blog i came across THIS article where you talk about motivation and reading the Bible (this blew my mind!).

Sorry for the incoherent blabbing. In any case, you just helped me make a decision: enjoy the stuff I already have, focus on MUSIC and not the toys, and forget about new hardware until I get my s*it together. It’s probably the best *sound decision* I’ve made and thanks for helping!

God bless,

Greetings from Poland

Stuart Charles Black March 1, 2021 - 8:59 pm

Thank you so much, man! This means so much to me, especially considering that it’s the very first piece of content I ever wrote on this blog.

And you’re welcome! It’s so interesting that you mention using X to escape from Y.

Whether or not we like to admit it, everyone has something they use to escape. For me, it used to be pornography until I quit cold turkey and haven’t looked back. I still get the urge to watch it (especially during those dark/lazy/bored times). You know what I’m talking about. You just need some sort of fix. A release. That was it for me. I used it to mask other deep-rooted issues I had by watching it pretty much every day. Nowadays I work out and I give this blog, my channel, and my portfolio website everything I have. I spend time with God every morning and I aim to appreciate the opportunities that I’m given.

There’s a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt (IIRC), that’s been helping to keep me grounded lately: “Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are.” It’s such a powerful way of pausing and reflecting on your life in a positive light when you perhaps think you should be somewhere else, or have something you don’t have, or whatever the case may be. As for what I use now to escape? That’s hard to say. I’d like to say nothing, but there’s always something we’re all dealing with internally.

Let’s be realistic, there’s not one person who doesn’t experience the same difficulties as the next guy – even if you seemingly have it all and look the part on the outside! The FOMO (Fear of missing out) phenomenon can and will rear its ugly head on occasion, but the key is how we respond to it. I’m still learning too! Even so, as a reviewer, I don’t really crave new gear as much as I used to for obvious reasons. Once you demo that much stuff, you begin to understand that audio is in large part a scam. Lots of deception, lots of snake oil, etc., etc.

Because of that, I’m pretty much satisfied with what I have and I’m now re-discovering my love for music rather than gear. I would say my desire for new stuff stems from my passion to review and compare things, take photos, do graphic design, etc. All the things that I love. 🙂

Since we’re on the topic of habits, motivation, and whatnot, check out my other blog Painterly Stew. I wrote an article there just recently about the Importance of Healthy Habits that you may find interesting.

Keep in touch, man! I really appreciate your continued support 🙂


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