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.

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The day you actually changed

keep-calm-and-make-it-so-1


(30 seconds to read)

“Everyone is crippled in some area, and everyone is somewhere on the path of evolution, some ahead of us and some behind. In the steps we have walked are the old lessons of life, and before us are new teachings.

There is nothing to feel guilty about and nothing to blame. There is no one to hate, but there is that which is better avoided, and such blind alleys will become increasingly apparent.”

The day you awaken is when you see the blind alleys you turn into.

The day you actually change is the day you know you are not that person anymore.

Quote credit: Dr. David Hawkins


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Less observation.

More participation.

The best way to overcome frustration

pouting girl

If you are angry or in pain, separate yourself from anger and pain and watch them. Externalization is the first step to liberation. Step away and look.

The physical events will go on happening, but BY THEMSELVES THEY HAVE NO IMPORTANCE.

It is the mind alone that matters. Whatever happens, you cannot kick and scream in an airline office or in a bank. Society does not allow it. If you do not like their ways, or are not prepared to endure them, don’t fly or carry money. Walk, and if you cannot walk, don’t travel.

If you deal with society you must accept its ways, for its ways are your ways. Your needs and demands have created them. Your desires are so complex and contradictory — no wonder the society you create is also complex and contradictory.

-Nisargadatta Majaraj

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Godfather

I just revisited the movie, The Godfather, and this line shared by Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro coincides with a recent measure I’ve enforced on myself, making myself an offer I can’t refuse. I’ve given myself no choice. I must be present, I must show up, or I fail. More and more people are doing it every year, and it’s happening across the world: We are addressing our primal need for danger and challenge.

Surfing, skiing, mountain biking, mixed martial arts, powerlifting, Crossfitting, entrepreneurship. These require your full attention. Your diligence. And once there, you find yourself in the ecstasy of presence, of productive bliss, of conquering and understanding. Of truth.

And you don’t need to go skydiving to experience this. What I’m talking about is getting focused at your task, like when the coders were “wired in” in the movie The Social Network. It’s called the flow state, as coined by psychologist Csikszentmihalyi from the studies he’s done with people. It’s a primal state of clarity. It’s simply when you flow from decision to decision, without fear, without confusion. You are wired in. You are fully present, and experiencing life.

So one way I put myself on the line is simple, harmless, but highly effective: I set a timer for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes. For each task I have: writing, a work task, reading a chapter, cooking. I click the timer and I go. I am “on the clock.” I don’t have any other options once I click that timer. And it works. There’s no time to think. Your bike crests the hill and gravity grabs you, nature takes hold, and there is no turning back.

The flow state is where we aren’t thinking of any other task but the task at hand. Anxious, fearful, impatient, embarrassed? Then you’re not in flow. Flow means we’re focused, we’re present, and we’re totally invested. There’s no time to worry. You’ve isolated a slice of your life. I’ve given myself a 15 minute mini-life. You see ‘death’ coming up, the end, and there’s no time to procrastinate. No time to think, “maybe this won’t work, maybe this will suck”. You just need to push off down that hill, you need to grab that breaking wave, and go, go, go. There’ll be time to judge yourself after you act.

The cost of not getting into flow? No bliss. Marginal levels of happiness. Imagine crawling when you could be running. Imagine a potted plant on a window sill compared to flourishing in the full sun of a meadow.

Can we soak up all the experience in our life? Can we live it like it’s going to end?

Of course we can. It’s going to end anyway, right?

Because we’ve all been given an offer we can’t refuse: Death.

“We change, but always at a cost: to win this you lose that.”

manwithblinders cartoon

Nick eats eight meals a day. He has little containers of food that he brings to work. He goes to Sam’s Club to buy the big bags of broccoli and diapers.

Kevin takes long bike rides with a group. They stop at a buffet after their rides.

Rick has 2 dogs which he misses every day when he comes to work.

So my story is… these people. Their stories become part of my story. The story of our lives is the background in our lives. The stuff that gets blurred out as we acclimate to the noise or don’t bother to ask.

As we get more focused on getting from point A to point B…apartment to house, house to bigger house, less pay to more pay, this partner to that partner, single to married, searching for the cool place to go and hang…we miss all the infinite points between. Those points are the people, places, and opportunities. They form the canvas of our life. When they’re connected, they become our life drawing.

That’s why when our actions are made without context, without others, without a why, without looking around first, then those actions become indefinite, their borders hazy, and after years of this, our life ceases to be meaningful.

The aim is not make a straight line. The point is not to hit each point, each milestone, checking the box, then seeking the next one. The point is to expand over our canvas, not stay isolated in our office, career, home, or family. The intent is to learn, and absorption doesn’t work unless you’re listening and putting yourself out there.

We do need goals. But what are the goals? Career, personal life, family life…how much effort to spend in each bucket? The tangibles can be met fairly easily, especially here in the US, but what happens when you realize that you’ve lost years of experience, potential friends, lovers, and new places, because your goals became your life, and living the moments fell off the list?

“We change, but always at a cost: to win this you lose that.”
– Geoffrey Wolff

Choose carefully, but just make sure you choose. The tangibles are easy to measure. The intangibles are not. Thing is, we’re here for the intangibles.

“Do you want in?” she asked.

Mr burns

“What’s that?” I said.
“We’re buying powerball tickets.”
“Ah, no thanks,” I told her.
Then I heard some of my co-workers talking about what they’d do if they won the money.
“The first thing I’d do is pay off my house..” one man said. “Then I’d set aside money to pay for my kids’ college, and then..I’d figure out what I really want to do with my life.”
I felt kind of sick to my stomach after hearing this.

In this day and age, having our biological needs met, the things we think we need are now the things we think we need to pay for, which is quite the opposite of the truth.

Career has become a situation of the estranged…a process to acquire money, a separate experience that is not about developing the self, but about developing a portfolio. A job that is donned, like a coat, and then taken off at the end of the day. Or maybe we never take it off, because we’re scared to look at ourselves naked.

We may even enjoy playing that dressup, but we’re tethered to that custume, it has become our birthday suit. We come to embrace our raises instead of our colleagues, and perhaps we only tolerate them because we cannot will ourselves to jump off the safety of this ship. We think we don’t have the strength and the stamina to swim to a place where our career ceases to be work, where we stop working to live and instead start living to work.

But our ability to compromise is powerful. It’s one of our greatest strengths, and maybe also our greatest weakness.

Work hard. Play harder… because without it, work becomes an uninspired trial, waiting for the play of the weekends and vacations. But make work and play inseparable, and you are in the best situation of all, waiting on nothing, and instead living every minute.

It’s hard for people to care about you, if you don’t care about them.

Hello-I-Am-Someone-Who-Can-help

Have you ever fallen into a depressed mood? I have. It’s usually when I’ve stopped being productive. Why should that affect my mood? I think it’s because I’m not providing anything to anyone. A big reason we do stuff is to get recognized for it. A pat on the back. A “That’s awesome! Nice work.” And I think if we don’t get that support, that appreciation, then we get depressed. And there’s no one to blame, most of the time, other than ourselves.

Ask yourself, if no one is caring about you, or maybe they are but not enough… why should they? Ask yourself:

How have I been a contribution today?

If you can’t find much there, then I think it’s time to do something meaningful for someone else. And not so much that it’s the right thing to do, the moral thing, but do it because it’s in your self-interest.

Try it. And if it doesn’t make you happier, then try again. My guess is, that not after too long, you’ll be out of your bad mood. Because how can you pity yourself when someone appreciates what you’re doing for them?

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.

Evolution

stop following me

Let’s EVOLVE…beyond us and them, beyond teams, beyond party.. beyond religion, dogma and nationalism. Adopt abundance not scarcity mindsets. OPEN up…open lines of communication, don’t close them. Don’t assume. Ask, test, share priorities. The risk of murder, starvation, having your village raped and pillaged is practically gone. It’s time to leave the fear behind.

How to meditate with your cat

gado

I sat down to meditate this morning. Soon, Gado came over. (That’s him in the pic.) He sniffed one of my hands, then the other, and then laid out in front of me and slowly shuttered his eyes. He was going to help me meditate. I smiled. Then thought, I think he might be asleep.

But knowing he was there did help me even though he wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t guiding my meditation. He wasn’t even fetching me a towel. But he was still there for me. He made me feel better, and that isn’t something I should dismiss. That foundation of good feeling is what allows me to focus and do what I need to do. He may have no idea what’s going on, but he is helping. And you know what? I’m helping him too. But it’s with something so subtle and simple that I forget. But sometimes we don’t need explanations. We just need to stretch out on the ground by a friend and clear our head.