You have a kind of sick desperation in your laugh

tyler on plane


(20 second read)

“In my experience, meditation makes you 10% happier. That’s an absurdly unscientific estimate, of course. But still, not a bad return on investment. Once you get the hang of it, the practice can create just enough space in your head so that when you get angry, or annoyed, you are less likely to take the bait and act on it.”  -Dan Harris, from 10% Happier.

Happiness is not about being led by anger, or annoyances, or anxiety. Quite the opposite. What’s the opposite? Acceptance, peace, chilling the hell out.

And how about if we focus on being helpful, contributing something meaningful to others? Start there. Add in some meditation, because there’s science behind it.

I think we’ll be fine.

Advertisements

I’m going to my cave and find my power animal

tumblr_lysot4CgqE1qf7853o3_500

I thought the instances on some college campuses to prevent students and professors from speaking certain words or certain ideas was just a fringe thing that was passing. Safe spaces where you didn’t need to face ideas that disturbed you: Today’s version of the New Age therapy from Fight Club.
But after listening to Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University, speak about being brought in front of an inquiry board and made to apologize for offending a student, and his observation that these situations are becoming more prevalent….well,  I think we may have a problem.
Some college leadership is caving in to demands by some students and are putting up obstacles to their education. Why would a professor risk pushing his students to debate radical ideas when he or she could be required to take the time to face some board’s review?
There’s a difference between hate speech directed at a person and describing social behaviors in the course of a classroom discussion.

Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.

Please feel free to pass this along if you think others would enjoy it.

Lose your clothes, find your self

AUNDERWEAR1

My morning started like most others. I woke up, qued up my yoga dvd and quickly sat down to follow the instructor before I got distracted. I finished the session, and by the time I made my food for the day, I was pressed for time, and scuttling about for my socks. After a few minutes, I grew frustrated and stopped looking for the lost blue mate to the one in my hand. I was irritated. I might even say I was suffering. Bourgeoisie suffering.

When I wear pants that sit just right, with a fitted shirt that looks, well, fitted, instead of looking like I’m swimming in it like a small child, I feel good. I’m sure you feel the same when you get something stylish, sexy, and professional. It doesn’t seem right if we don’t look right, and there’s a gigantic market of stores with lines of clothes that are going to make our day. I will feel better in those pants. You will feel better in that dress. And that’s the curious part.

Why do we like dressing well? It would seem it’s for others, to look good. But really, it’s not. We dress a certain way, because it makes us feel good. Not because anyone else is going to give us a high five, or an appreciative nod, or even a compliment (at least from my experiences this is an uncommon event). And if we are dressing fashionably to get some sort of of external recognition, well, it’s still being done so that we will feel good.

You might be saying, “So what, Captain Obvious. Of course we do everything to make ourselves feel good, we don’t do things to make ourselves feel bad.” And you’re right. (Although that argument can be critiqued, given how many people end up in situations of suffering, with all their starting good intentions to be happy.)

My point here is, if we’re dressing a certain way, if we can’t leave the house without matching socks, what else are we prioritizing, more specifically, what else are we de-prioritizing? Time or money spent shopping or picking out clothes or searching for a matching sock is time/money that’s not used doing something for ourselves. I mean, our self, that soul inside, under the layers of the mind that want these clothes, this house, this car, and that perfect dinette set from the Pottery Barn catalog, picked up after perusing so many dinette sets, and asking, “Which one of these defines me as a person?” (Hat tip, Fight Club).

What does your self need? Maybe nothing, and if so, kudos to you, my friend, because you are truly enlightened. You’ve accept the world and all its randomness, and your faulty self, your big ass, big nose, or small boobs. You have gratitude for what you have and a curiosity for what you don’t know. You have friendships that support you and which you give back to, you have creative endeavors that promote you, and a job that stimulates you..and if you don’t, you’re well on your way to those things. Why?

Because you’ve put your self-development over form development. You may very well be looking good, too, fit and dressed to a T, (and truly, I hope you do, because I definitely prefer seeing stylish fit people rather than a swath of blue jeans and obesity when I step outside.) Regardless, you have your priorities in place. You know your personality will trump even the best looking outfit. You know that being confident, making something useful, and showing interest and care to others are much more important than what silly fashion you’ve covered your meatbag with. You know that the finite form is nothing more than a facade, and any happiness it may bring is as fleeting as our short time on this earth…a short time spent worrying about making more money or finding matching socks.

So I picked up that black sock and put it on, staring at my blue one on the left, and the black one on the right. I wiggled my toes and evaluated them, and then I smiled. Maybe I could flip my priorities more towards building my self over my form, and this would be a step in that direction. One comic, vulnerable step toward the organized chaos of happiness.

And the topless writing begins…now.

back

I sit here, typing in front of my computer, sans shirt. Bare, beautiful, and cold. The Midwest has been downright unhealthy chilly the past few weeks. So why am I topless? I thought it was time to get some writing done. I thought it was time to be more productive.

Oftentimes my problem is finding focus, so I thought that it was time for some external motivators. No, not the carrot. But the stick. Sometimes we need it. I know that the best motivation comes from within, but sometimes we need some unpleasant consequences from our environment to help us along. Negative stimuli. And what’s a more natural negative motivator to prevent distraction than the cold? So…

No clothes until I’m done.

Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves. That long journey to that high peak where our goal sits is daunting when we think about it. As the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I was staring at the blank, white page. Unable to take that first step. Nothing. I was obsessed with the peak, imagining the finished product. And I distracted myself. Would it be good? Would it be good enough? I wanted it to be perfect, but there was nothing there yet to perfect!

In the creative arts, we need to let the expression flow, and thinking is counterproductive to opening up our imagination.

I’m cold right now. But I am writing fast. The distraction was part of my problem. The other is my inability to produce things quickly. And in this day and age, well, in any day, efficiency makes you a pro. But especially today, in the midst of a thousand, a million, a billion voices clamoring around you, it’s pretty damn important.

The alternative to efficiency gets you a hobby. And that can be good. But making good art takes time and practice and not only getting people interested, but keeping them interested. And interest in today’s onslaught of data and media is a fleeting commodity. I want to sharpen that saw of skill before I’m too old to enjoy its fruits.

The same distraction from becoming a pro can be at play with an intellectual pursuit. Going to school to get that degree is going to take two, four, maybe six years. Too long a time. I’m too busy. I’m too old. These are distractions. When Raymond told the gun-toting Tyler he didn’t become a veterinarian because it was “Too much school” Tyler’s response was…

raymond

“Would you rather be dead?”

I’d rather just not be cold. So, here I sit, cold, banging out these sentences the fasted I’ve ever typed. And it’s working. Because I’m not distracted by my cat. I’m not falling for that hunger pang and running to the kitchen for “just a quick snack.” I’m not thinking, “Maybe my bathtub needs cleaned?” (I’m sure it does). I’m not worried about whether this will be good. About whether you will like it. I’m only producing.

And when you’re producing, you don’t think about what others want. And you don’t think about yourself. You are in the moment.

When we’re in the moment, we are genuine. We produce the best stuff. The truest stuff. The stuff people will love. Maybe not everyone. Probably not, actually. But who wants to produce the stuff that’s already been done? We’re here to capture people’s interest. And ultimately, we’re here to get some love. And part of being loved is making something other people value.

I hope that some day my writing will be valued by enough people that it makes the world a better place.

A warmer place.
Man, it’s cold.
But I think I’m done. And in record time.
Now, where did I throw my sweatshirt?