I’m Not High, I Swear

My Struggle

Eyes, eyes, eyes. It’s allllll in the eyes. As a model, I’ve been learning how to work the eyes. Now this is much harder than I thought and I’ve learned there is an extremely fine line between “smizing” and straight creeping. Furthermore, I’m quickly learning that actors tell stories through their eyes. On another note, if I had a nickel for the amount of times that I’ve been told I look high, I’d have at least $500 dollars (10,000 nickels). Now some of these accusations may have to do with my quarter Japanese squint that seems to come out in the mornings or when I’m sleepy, or maybe I’m supposed to be a gluten-free, vegan warrior. Also, post surfing my eyes can get pretty red from the salt and sunscreen, but there’s been so many times where I’m just having a normal day and people ask me what I’m smoking!

So I’ve been doing some self-reflection lately in an attempt to diagnose my high eye syndrome and I’ve come to a couple conclusions. My issue is that I have a hard time living in the present sometimes. I constantly find myself thinking of student loans, rent, health care, spouse?? kids????, mortgage?????? I hardly ever know when my next paycheck is coming, so that makes things extra interesting. Humans didn’t used to have to plan their lives like today. Back in our hunter gatherer days, we used to just be concerned with getting our daily bread a.k.a. whatever we could find.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” -Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Furthermore, I’ve spent many hours working low-skilled jobs that I do not necessarily enjoy or care to do, and it’s difficult to devote all my energy towards such tasks that I do not want to be doing or do not require my full skill set and attention. Therefore, I somewhat half-ass it and my brain is elsewhere. When my brain is elsewhere, my eyes are not focused and I get accused.

The opposite of high eyes are focused, alive eyes. I propose that voluntarily having your eyes focused may mean you are in a flow state or just great at being in the present. Here’s the definition of flow —“The mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I want to participate in activities daily that will lock me into a flow state. What can I/we do to get there?

Look Inwards First

In what times in your life are your eyes focused? Focused eyes come from numerous situations for people. It’s essential for one to recognize how, when, and where they uniquely achieve such a state and structure their lives so that this state can be achieved often. Just because one finds such a way to structure their life does not mean their life will become easy. Sometimes it’s gonna be tough to wake up and go do what you do. It’s not gonna be a fairy tale every day, but actually getting into the process where you are being pushed, or flowing, or doing that which you love, is where meaning lies, growth occurs, and success may follow. I love baseball and played in college, but there were some days where it was still hard to get out of bed in the morning to go play. Next thing you know, I’d warm up the body and I was lost in the game without knowing it, completely engaged.

Meaning, flow, engagement, and play all seem to relate to a state of having focused eyes. I’d recommend pausing, reflecting on, and maybe even writing down times in which you are completely lost in your tasks at work or in life. Understanding yourself first, before accepting a job that perhaps somebody else was willing upon you is key to finding work that suits your skill set and personality.

Best- selling author, adviser, avid rock-climber, and more Jim Collins encourages businesses and individuals to ask these three questions:

  1. “What are you deeply passionate about?
  2. What are you are genetically encoded for? — what activities do you feel just “made to do”?
  3. What makes economic sense — what can you make a living at?

“Those fortunate enough to find or create a practical intersection of the three circles have the basis for a great work life” — Jim Collins. Finding this intersection sounds like a dream come true to me. It will require time, experience, experiments, and self-reflection. Taking the time to reflect upon your journey is critical. In my life, I’ve been listening to the times I say I have to do such and such as opposed to I want to do or just simply I have. When I say I have to do something it is because somebody else has told me to do something as opposed to me doing it because I want to. I may want to do something for an infinite amount of reasons, but if I’m doing it for reasons that I do not care about or want to do, I don’t think that will contribute to having a great day or my overall well-being. In life there will be plenty of have to’s such as doing taxes or balancing the books as Jim Collins calls it, but the have to’s should not be the majority.

Find that Flow

Now where does one find such a state? Clinical psychologist, professor, and best-selling author Dr. Jordan Peterson argues that meaning, purpose, and flow occur when one is undergoing challenges. Participating in challenging activities, being on the edge of chaos and order, is where meaning lies and flow occurs. The interaction between the exploratory/play systems and the anxiety/pain systems in your brain is where you’ll find your optimal load of stress. This load of stress requires pushing to a level that tests abilities and competence, but not in any way that brings on undue danger. This zone is where meaning lies, growth occurs, AND your eyes are guaranteed to be focused. I’m not saying that focused eyes or pushing yourself everyday to the absolute max is the secret recipe to a “happy, good” life, but it is an essential piece to everybody’s puzzle. Personally, I seem to sleep better at night when I push myself in the day and have meaningful interactions with people.

Examples: 1. I don’t know anything about music, but I don’t think any musicians would find meaning in playing only Mary had a Little Lamb for their entire career. I think they would challenge themselves and continue to grow and learn their craft which is inherently challenging. 2. I live with a bunch of meatheads. These meatheads gradually increase their weights in the gym (depending on what their goals are) and test their limits. They do not gradually lift less weights and do less reps on purpose. There would be no challenge, less sense of achievement, and no great workout high.

Best Practices for Work

If I was an undercover boss and walking around one of my 300 offices, I would want to see people with their eyes focused and engaged. I’d want to see the gears in their brains churning through the look in their eyes. I wouldn’t want to see a bunch of people who look only halfway present, constantly checking their phones, or in a posture that looks completely unproductive. So what could I do, as CEO, to create a work space that inspires flow?

There is no cookie cutter answer that will fly for any and every organization. Organizational Psychology is a puzzle. Every organization has a vastly different puzzle to solve, some more difficult than others. People ultimately are the business, not just the most important part and need to be treated as such. CEO’s, execs, managers, supervisors, etc. need to understand the people to the right and left of them in order to get the most out of them. Getting the most out of them is probably great for the person’s esteem by contributing positively and the positive emotions and state of well being that an employee will have from contributing to the organization’s goals. So best practices? Know thyself, know your employees, encourage self-awareness, and figure out how to structure a day in a way that allows for deep work.

Deep work is almost a meditative state of work. It’s when you are completely lost in your work and flowing. I think the individual and the organization will need to both make efforts that will enable deep work. What clicks for one individual may not for another. Personally, I can’t get a single thing done with a bunch of people talking around me, when music with words is playing, or with notifications popping up on my devices. I’ve also seen people that are so good at multitasking that it seems like they prefer the constant curve balls that gets thrown at them cause it keeps them alive and on their feet. Finding deep work will take the conscious effort effort to block out distractions. A good practice would be keeping a time log of what you spend your day doing. This will provide insight on how you spend your precious hours at work and may reveal areas that need restructuring or improvement.


It’s my goal to be more present in life even in moments such as, cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc. Being present is attractive to other people and it will help with your interactions. Even if your current job or situation isn’t what you want it to be, being present and doing it well could open up new doors. Being in the moment is the way to achieve more flow and possibly a more fulfilled, purposeful life.

It’s also my goal to figure out what I’m deeply passionate about, what I’m genetically encoded for, and make such profitable!

Cool tools to discover more about thyself.

Oo but challenging yourself is so dang hard and takes actual effort! Ugh. Ya it does and it’s incredibly scary testing those uncharted waters. Good Luck!




Occasionally writing, acting, working, modeling, or surfing. Always living. https://linktr.ee/paulkeating paulkeating03@gmail.com

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Paul Keating

Paul Keating

Occasionally writing, acting, working, modeling, or surfing. Always living. https://linktr.ee/paulkeating paulkeating03@gmail.com

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