Hypothetical Encounter

It’s like she woke up something
inside of me that I never knew I had
something impossible
something so great that it altered my world
a complete flip
levels of strength and love
that I never knew existed
I woke up she woke me up
life before was a dream
this is a fairy tale
this can’t be real

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What Is Worrying You Today?

Money? > Can’t take it to the grave.
Love? > Enjoy it, but we came to this world alone and leave alone.
Power? > Once you have it, you only want more.
Religion? > Invented by man to explain the unexplainable.
Fame? > The grass is always greener… and most people are weary of it once they have it.
Work? > Try something else.
How lost we all are? > Just accept it. Find your own reasons to keep going.
Judgement by others? > People are mostly concerned with themselves.
Pleasure? > Desire and feelings are fleeting.
People? > Check the ego. We are all one, part of something greater than any individual.

The 80/20 Rule

I like to remember the Pareto Principle, AKA the 80/20 rule, when assessing where to spend my time and energy. It is a popular idea in economics and business. Some general cases where it applies:

  • 20% of the input creates 80% of the result.
  • 20% of the workers produce 80% of the result.
  • 20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue.

Source: Better Explained

Applying this principle to other areas, perhaps by focusing efforts on the 20% in any part of our lives:

  • 20% of the people you know may provide 80% of the positive feelings, love and connection.
  • The amount of effort it takes to achieve something may only be 20% of what you think you need to do.
  • 20% of energy in a workout creates 80% of the desired fitness and health.
  • 20% of food consumed creates 80% of desired nutritional benefits.
  • 20% of time spent leads to 80% of results.
  • 80% of happiness is derived from 20% of your activities.

Disclaimer: No scientific basis for the above. I am extrapolating and exploring possibilities which may or may not be true. 

Maybe by aiming for the best 20%, I can create more of my desired outcomes, conserve energy and succeed more in health, love, work and life.

DIY Spirituality

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. – Dalai Lama

Take a “DIY” approach to your spirituality. Don’t settle for pre-packaged ideology, unless it feels right for you. For me, a constantly-developing hybrid model of Buddhism, psychology and philosophy seems to work. (Examples at bottom of this post.)

Spiritual activities grow the sense of interconnectedness between ourselves, other humans and animals, the universe, and a divinity/creator, if you believe in one. Some people derive this sense of oneness from listening to a pastor’s sermon and singing songs at church. For others, yoga, meditation, sex, being immersed in nature, drug use, or a captivating musical performance may bring the same feelings. Find what works for you.

I am cautious of “pre-packaged” spirituality. Some religions come to mind: “Do x, y and z things and receive a bountiful afterlife.” Religion can be spiritually rich, but I think skepticism is healthy when considering religious doctrine.

Develop your spirituality by learning about different ideas, religions, and philosophies. Keep a “DIY” spiritual mindset. By following our own spiritual curiosity, we find activities that help us feel more at ease, connected and alive.

Examples of ideas that help me:
Philosophy // Alan Watts
Religion // Buddhism
Spiritual // Mysticism
Art/Music // Music and Spirituality
Nature // Forest Bathing
Psychology // Carl Jung and The Self

Friend

How long is a friend a friend
when they don’t treat you like one?
Is friendship simply perseverance and forgiveness?
What makes a friend?
Where does friendship end?

A friend is someone who sees the good and the bad
and knows when to let it be known
without bias or selfishness,
simply because they have your best interests in mind.
Someone who sees you over time
and wants you to succeed
in the ways that make you happy.
Who will back you up enough
to ease a situation’s weight,
without disregarding morality or courtesy,
without misleading,
without doing wrong to supposed enemies
or speaking ill of those targets of unease.

How long is a friend a friend?
Until a human decides that humans are not for them.
What makes a friend a friend?
Where does friendship end?

Lover Vs. Beloved

Humans in relationships generally fall into two roles, lover and beloved. In any relationship, love will never be perfectly reciprocated. There is always a person with stronger feelings. So the question is… would you rather be the lover or the beloved?

The beloved tends more often to be the object of the lover’s affection. Both are comfortable with their role, and the relationship thrives. I’ve experienced both sides. Both are possible with the right person.

Love may also be unconcerned with this. Love is not a choice. It seems certain women draw more feelings out of me than others. I don’t choose which ones.

Maybe a good relationship is one where the roles of lover and beloved are constantly changing, keeping each other on their toes.

Mental Travel Prepping

I wrote the below to myself back in January as I was mentally preparing for a solo trip to Australia.

If my mind is right and my actions are focused, I will be ok. Walk the line between action and inaction. Know when to speak up and when to be quiet. Adapt. Interpret carefully and be easy. Smile. Listen as much as possible. Try to understand the people you are unfamiliar with. Don’t endanger yourself. Be cautious. Be slow. Don’t get too drunk. Try to relax. Get cozy in a strange land. Don’t expect too much of yourself. Don’t expect too much of others. Realize you’re human. Don’t expect too much of yourself. Have fun. Remember the universe is all one being, and all of our problems are each other’s problems. We should always try to help. We are all connected to each other. The self is an illusion, we’re all only as good as each other. Laugh a little bit but not too much. Be light on stories unless someone asks you. Try to find your true nature, whatever that is. Be yourself. Learn to surf and ride the fucking wave.

Notes from A Talk By Malcolm Gladwell

Today I attended Malcolm Gladwell‘s talk on May 4th, 2017 in Chicago, IL at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Here are my notes from his talk:

Gladwell begins by mentioning the talk was inspired by “The Whole United States is Southern” by Charles Payne, Professor at the University of Chicago.

Hypothesis: Is how psychology sees the world inherently flawed? Do we sometimes misattribute psychology and use a tool of psychology to solve a problem that isn’t psychological in nature?

  1. Gladwell cites Brown Vs. Topeka Board of Education (Segregated schools case during Civil Rights Movement)
  2. Mention of theory of self-hatred. Study: Students in segregated schools had lower levels of self-hatred vs. integrated? (Misattribution of cause example.)
  3. Brown made a sociological argument against segregation, while the Board of Education made a psychological argument against it. The reasoning for ruling against segregation is made for psychological causes (white southerner view), Gladwell argues it should be for sociological (African Americans seizing control over the institutions that have power over them.)
    • Sociological = systemic
    • Psychological = feelings of the affected people
  4. Gladwell argues the court shifted a their attention from sociological “power” to psychological “feelings”, a strategy/perspective of white southerners on African Americans, civil rights, etc.
  5. Gladwell remarks on the importance of teachers in education, they are rarely considered of in Brown vs. TBOE
  6. He mentions a (Vanderbilt?) study in which high achievement was linked to having a teacher of the same race. They were also less likely to be suspended.
    • Teachers preferentially treat people more like themselves better?
    • “Lincoln 11” Teacher Case. 11 Black teachers were fired after two schools were desegregated and combined. (I couldn’t find the case by Googling, I may have misheard?)
    • From 1954 – 1965: # of African American teachers decreased from 82,000 to 36,000 due to de-segregation of schools.
  7. Gladwell mentions Smith Vs. Allwright case and notes this may have been more of a landmark case for Civil Rights than Brown Vs. TBOE
  8. Overall shifting of discussion from power (sociological view) to  internal view (psychology) prevailed in Brown vs. TBOE and persists today in America (white southerner view)
    • “We’ve abandoned the sociological mindset”…
  9. Correct response to this: “Stop with introspection and hire black teachers.”
  10. Gladwell: Media prefers psychological narratives
    • Media feedback loop: more attention attracted by psychological perspective
  11. Paraphrase: Gladwell in a roundabout way proposes we randomize school choice for students and remove parental choice from schools
  12. Q: How should African American students proceed given these ideas? A: Solution is somewhere between extremes (interpersonal dynamics vs. structures.) Here Gladwell steps back from his main view in the talk and gives some acknowledgement to the importance of psychological experience vs. sociological, systemic environment.

I do not adopt nor disagree with the views expressed in these notes but will definitely contemplate further as the ideas expressed deal with highly sensitive, relevant issues in our society today. I tried to present these notes without bias or error. I have always enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s books and it was fun to listen to him speak. He is the author of Blink, Outliers, The Tipping Point, and David and Goliath, each of which I have read.

10 Minute Poem

Can’t have a rise without a fall.
Can’t have a fall without a spring.
Can’t have a spring without a rest.
Can’t have a rest without a note.
Can’t have a note without a human.
Can’t have a human without love.
Can’t have love without loss.
Can’t have loss without gain.
Can’t have again without having before.
Can’t have before without desire.
Can’t have desire unless we are not attached.
If we are not attached, then we don’t need to “have” anything.