How Minimalist Should I Go?

Minimalism is catching on. People are trying it out. Everyone who does it, loves it.

I’ve been headed in a minimalist direction for a couple years now.

But there is a big question with minimalism that often goes unanswered…Read More

The Most Important Question In The World

I have discovered the single most important question you can ask yourself on a regular basis. It applies to any problem, any situation, any time.

It is that important.

The mysterious question is, as you might suppose, very simple. Read More

4 Ways Children Are Better Than Adults

Isn’t it obvious?  Children are the purest human beings on the planet.

They have had less time to be conditioned by adults who themselves have been conditioned by other adults who have been conditioned… Ad freaking infinitum.

childpaint

According to her calculations, she’s actually better than you in 10 ways.

Someone needs to tell this little girl that it is not appropriate to have paint on your hands in business meetings. Or does she need to ask them why not?

1. Children Embrace Imagination As Adults Pursue “Maturity”

Human psychological maturity is defined as “acting appropriately in context of time and culture.”

Read: conforming to social rules.

But in a life that already has a glaring, unavoidable limit of around 28,726 days, more limits don’t make sense unless they are absolutely necessary. I wholeheartedly recommend that you do limit your consumption of arsenic, cyanide, mercury, Taco Bell, lead, and Actaea pachypoda.

But pure imagination is safe in very large doses, so long as your sense of reality is not lost (see: Inception – a good movie).

Think about the power of imagination. Any situation can be turned into an adventure with adequate imagination. That is exciting.

It is more than a TPS report can ever hope to be.

The worst part is that adults have more brainpower and therefore more imaginative capability than children, and yet most of us decide to suppress such an enjoyable gift of life. Though not all of us. For example, we have some filmmakers and authors that blow us away with their imaginations. These are people that decided to hang on to that childhood magic that isn’t “suitable for adults” (I think of Tim Burton).

It isn’t that children have more imagination than adults, it’s that they’re not yet embarrassed about it.

When you’re sitting on a bench with a friend – bored – why not explore an imaginary story or situation that interests you? Why not act out that story or situation? Why not pretend that you’re someone else for a while? Why not mentally create a new product or creature?

There are a million reasons why not – it’s embarrassing, it would be weird of course, and you might not be very good at it from lack of practice.

And yet…there is one great reason TO do it – it’s fun. Doing everything as a “mature adult” is fine, but it can get rather boring when everything is predictable and ordinary. How can we enjoy a crazy, unrealistic movie one minute and the next minute think someone is acting immature when they pretend their arm is a laser cannon? That’s just how we’ve been conditioned and it isn’t fair to the laser cannon man in all of us.

There is nothing immature about acting out a play in the middle of a mall – people just aren’t used to it. In fact, you’ll find that well-done imaginative work is well-loved by the public.  Consider Improv Everywhere putting on an impromptu rendition of Ghost Busters in the New York Public Library.

It turned a hum-drum library day into an interesting one – smiles were everywhere.

Children start out with a strong appreciation for the imaginative, and that appreciation is gradually beaten down with “reality.”

But that’s just the problem.

Imagination is all about creating a new reality.

2. Children Are More Likely To Have Complete Trust

When we’re born and up until a certain age, we are completely at the mercy of others and are forced to trust them with our lives.

At some point, we strike independence and become more self-reliant – a good thing. However, self-reliance and the required skepticism to make it in this world combine to decrease our willingness and ability to trust trustworthy people with our love and lives. The bond of complete trust is one of the strongest human bonds there is – and many kids have it in spades (or hearts, for the emotional ones out there).

3. Children Don’t Make Assumptions

One of the biggest problems in human relationships that causes arguments is that we all tend to make false assumptions from time to time. You see I’m unemployed and assume I’m lazy. Jane sees a guy with lots of tattoos and thinks she knows why he got them and what type of person he is. When you tell a self-conscious girl she’s beautiful, she assumes you’re mocking her.

Adults can take a face-value comment and twist it into something it is not and was never intended to be.

If I tell a little girl she’s beautiful, she’ll blush or twirl or something cute like that.

And when children look at people, they see….people. They don’t try to define and label people they don’t know because they aren’t so well-acquainted with today’s stereotypes. In this way they are more mature than adults.

Everyone has a story – a unique story – so let’s start acting like children and drop the all-encompassing labels.

4. Children Live Fun, Simple Lives

When you grew up and saw how young and naive you were as a tot, did you also recognize what you lost?

The life of a child is one of fewer responsibilities. When you have fewer responsibilities, what do you end up doing most of the time? You do the things you want to do.

As adults, we have responsibilities because we need to do certain things – but far fewer things than we think. Consider this video about the Mexican fisherman (seen here) who lived the life he wanted to with few demands of his time. To provide food for his family, he went fishing (a retirement activity). He lived the simple life.

Children might have chores here and there, but they are generally provided for and can enjoy playing with other kids and pursuing what they want. That is, kids have fun for a living. They simply do what they want (so long as the parents approve).

Happy childhood

Oh great. This kid thinks swinging is fun? Does she even know she is merely converting potential energy into kinetic energy back into potential energy? It’s weird how she completely ignores the physics involved and just enjoys it. I bet she’ll grow out of it. Most adults know it is incorrect to enjoy swinging this much.

Maybe I included this one because I used to play video games all day as a kid… guilt-free. Now when I play something, I know I have bills to pay, blog posts to write, companies to create, and a wife to find (honey, stop being so elusive). 

So, Adults…

Embrace your inner child and rethink “maturity.”

Tim Ferriss suggested a funny starting point for getting “comfortable” in public in The Four Hour Work Week – lie down on your back on the floor in a public place. When Tim did it and people asked him about it, he told the confused onlookers that he “just felt like resting.” (which they found amusing)

I did it today at the Verizon store to demonstrate the principle to my sister (She snagged a Samsung Charge, which is annoyingly better than my Droid Incredible). I was still treated like a human being afterwards, so it wasn’t devastating like you might think.

And while you’re lying down, you might as well flip over and try out planking. Have fun out there, kids! Adults just play in a bigger sandbox, right?

planking

This…. is planking.

photo credit: boliston 

Change For Life

Your lifestyle in the recent days/weeks/months conveys one of two messages:

1. I am content with my life

2. I want to change or improve my life

So as to avoid meaningless, vague profundity, I will dissect these two options and clarify exactly what I mean. Briefly, number one means a person is doing the same things they’ve always been doing, and they are hopefully happy with the results. Number two is a person who wants more out of life than they are currently getting (and will get) out of the current path.

Most of us fall into the second category, but not all of us live accordingly.

1. I am content with my life

This is not a snapshot of your current situation, finances, social life, contribution to society, etc. That is the shallow way of looking at this statement. The accurate way of looking at this is the current path you are on.

Our lives are like a rolling ball on the ground. Based on our momentum and direction, we can project where we’ll end up in one year, five years, or twenty years. To do this, simply focus on how you currently spend your time and how you act in key areas. With time, observe the results of your lifestyle.

Examples (these are very simple and very important!):

  1. Unhealthy eating habits = unhealthy person
  2. Eating well and exercising = healthy person
  3. Reading great books = very knowledgeable person
  4. Watching the news often = knowing mostly useless information
  5. Putting off dreams = never reaching them
  6. Financial strain = continued financial strain
  7. Being unhappy = remaining unhappy

That’s just to say that unless you do something differently, your current paths will play out as one would expect. The good news is that you can change your current path(s) at any time! Do things differently and experiment with your life.

We get into patterns and routines. Some are good and some are devastating to our well-being. Keep the good ones and target the bad ones to change for life.

Sunset path
Is your current path – the one you’ve been on for the past few weeks – producing now or projecting towards the life results you desire?

Tip: KILL the “someday” thoughts.  They will RUIN your life. The time to act is right now. Of all of your someday ideas over the years, have many ever happened? No, because saying someday means weak conviction.

2. I want to change or improve my life

If you answered no to the boldface question above, you’re in this category. Simply, it means you need to make changes in order to redirect your path. The changes you make should be both large and small. Both in the mind and in your daily actions.

This is an exciting place to be. It represents newer, scarier, more exciting reality that has always seemed out of reach. But it’s only been out of reach because you’ve conceded that. I realized recently that I had thought it “impossible” for me to explore the depths of the deep sea – a completely absurd thought. Of course I could explore it if I became driven to meet that end goal.

If others have done it, why can’t you do it? People that are less talented and intelligent than you are living their dreams because they are driven to do so. They’re willing to take risks repeatedly to see their vision through. They have a vision and pursue it recklessly.

So if you want to change, the first thing you need to do is kill the assumptions that have you gridlocked to a mediocre life. Are you sure that quitting your job would mean absolute and utter disaster? If so, are you so fully content with your job that you’re not even looking at others?

A social conditioning machine exists that seeks to shrink and morph our desires and force conformity upon us. The thing I’m realizing is that those who break free of these actually weak conditioning chains that appear strong are often rewarded abundantly.

Of the people you admire, how many got there taking the conventional path? I don’t know of any. I just see a long string of risky behavior, abundant failure, and ultimately wild success in what they set out to do.

1. Get Rich 2. Live Your Dream Life

“The conventional path” is a broken philosophy of life. It says that we must first get rich in order to live our passions. Smart, thoughtful people will find that there is more than one way to reach a desired end 99.84% of the time. You can likely live your dream life without being rich.

Another problem with conventional systems and paths is this – our desires, personalities, and passions differ greatly and no one path can satisfy all of us. You need to find your path that creates the life you truly desire. Not the path that society says someone in your position should desire.

I listened to the The 4-Hour Workweek audio-book in the past week and it is now my favorite book. The timing in my life was perfect to listen to it. If you’re open to new ideas, the book will open your eyes to the vast possibilities outside of your current job situation (which is not likely your absolute passion).

Affiliate links – no extra cost to you. Instead of Amazon receiving 100% of a purchase, they receive 96% and I receive 4%. I only recommend products that I have used and loved and this is one of them.

In the 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss (author) tells a story about a Harvard MBA on vacation in Mexico. Here is a video I found of this story being read.

[stream provider=youtube flv=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3Dh69gOCr11Y4%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded%23at%3D53 img=x:/img.youtube.com/vi/h69gOCr11Y4/0.jpg embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false /]

As you can see, being rich through sacrificing years of your life isn’t the only way to live the life you want. The Mexican fisherman was living the “retirement” lifestyle of the rich.  The conventional path tells us that we need tons of money first to be able to do whatever we want, but it simply isn’t worth it if you hate the process.

This is where experimenting comes in. Have you tried or even thought about alternatives? Be honest with yourself. What do you really want? People don’t want money, they want what money does for them.  Focus on what you want out of life and find the most enjoyable way to live it out.

Problems and Solutions

1. Temporary change

If you make a change and aren’t thrilled with it, you’ll most likely revert back to your old ways. Get serious and go for something your passionate about. Once you get started, you’ll hang on through the challenging times because you love it. It’s why I’m still blogging after making about $50 in 3-4 months. I don’t do it for the money.

2. Fake change instead of change for life

Sometimes we’ll make changes that seem important on the outside but are pretty meaningless because they are still under the “safe umbrella” of a life we don’t want. If you find yourself taking big risks to live the life you want, you’re probably on the right track.

3. Fear

Fear is rarely valid. I devoted a large chunk of my Stress Management ebook to the topic of fear. In it (as well as Tim in the 4-Hour Workweek), I said that a great way to dissolve fear is to admit it, define it, and calculate the worst case scenario.

When you calculate a fear’s worst case scenario, you set a floor on how bad it can be. This is important because without that floor being set, your mind can blow it out of proportion.

After that, calculate the most likely scenario and the best case scenario. A simple risk analysis of these levels will often lead you to recognize that your fear is simply absurd.

4. Excuses

This is the big one. You probably have a stockpile of excuses ready to unleash on your dreams ranging from children to finances to job security. Excuses are like the number of grains of sand. I can fabricate 4 excuses not to publish this post right now. The excuses are true, but they won’t stop me.

  1. I’ve could have written a better one.
  2. I could edit it to make it better. For example, there is an error in #1.
  3. It isn’t as cohesive as it could be.
  4. I didn’t include much humor in it.

These excuses fall to the one reason to do it – I think it is a good post and that people will gain something from reading it. I aim for perfection, but I don’t adamantly demand it anymore. Very good is… very good.

If you find yourself needing to justify your actions and inactions with excuses, you’re messing up. Badly.

You’ll be dead in 100 years.

Just live. Passionately.

Make mistakes.

Deep Thinking Illuminates The Secrets Of Your Mind

It is interesting how much advice we seek out on a daily basis. We want to know how to be successful. We want to discover the keys to being happy. We want to accomplish our dreams.

The truth is that we already know most of the answers. The catch? They’re buried in the recesses of our mind and we can’t get them unless we’re looking for them. Many people will rely on others to point them out.

This thinking woman seems to be considering sharing this article

Some of this is good, because others can be very insightful and quickly point out something we wouldn’t have noticed for years. But too many humans have come to be completely dependent on the ideas of others, as their own cognitive competency dwindles from lack of use.

A little while ago I wrote about how multi-tasking kills productivity, and in that article I referenced a study that clearly displayed the limits of the human mind. Because we have two frontal lobes (right, left), effective focus is maximized at two things at once (each lobe handles a different task). When a third task is added, the mind “drops” one of the first two. I still strongly prefer one activity, as in that case both lobes work together in order to accomplish the task and it allows for greater depth.

This isn’t exactly the same as life knowledge, but it does carry over.

We all have a sort of “framework” that we understand the world through. This framework of understanding is extremely complicated because of the thousands of variables (i.e. experience and knowledge) that go into forming it. Since our mind can only focus on one or two things at a time, we must intuitively draw missing data from our framework of understanding as we need it.

This being the case, there are always going to be some ideas/concepts on our mind’s backburners – blurry and out of focus. This is different from ignorance, because if we think of them, we can focus on them.

That’s Brilliant! …Even Though I Knew It Already

Can you recall an insightful book or article?

The profound parts – were they completely new untouchable information or something that you already knew deep down or could have figured out yourself?  Most of the brilliant people of today are masters of finding those backburner ideas and illuminating them or combining them with other known ideas. 99% of brilliant ideas that amaze you are not outside of your own cognitive ability.

Hands and puzzle

Do you practice putting ideas together? Two ideas merged together successfully can change the world. Communication and technology combined to give us the internet.

You could come up with the idea for Facebook if you were already thinking along those lines of connecting people through the internet, right? It’s a simple idea that gradually developed more depth as it was developed.

The irony of this is that those who understand this principle and do something about it in daily life are the ones who come up with amazing ideas and live fulfilling lives. Call it what you want, but I call it deep thinking. Deep thinking contains two primary forms – critical and creative thinking. Critical asks, “What can I do better?” Creative asks, “What is possible here?”

The first article I wrote for this site was about deep thinking. It is the basis for everything I write about. I aim to think deeply enough to uncover those valuable ideas that are dormant on our backburners – waiting to be activated. In doing so, I want to create a movement of deep thinkers in a shallow world.

Here is a quote that connects my last post on the supernatural with this post about the problem of “the unthinking masses.”

At this point a suspicion may occur that Supernaturalism first arose from reading into the universe the structure of monarchical societies. But then of course it may with equal reason be suspected that Naturalism has arisen from reading into it the structure of modern democracies. The two suspicions thus cancel out and give us no help in deciding which theory is more likely to be true. They do indeed remind us that Supernaturalism is the characteristic philosophy of a monarchical age and Naturalism of a democratic, in the sense that Supernaturalism, even if false, would have been believed by the great mass of unthinking people four hundred years ago, just as Naturalism, even it false, will be believed by the great mass of unthinking people today.

~ CS Lewis

The problem with shallow thinking is that you only focus on your immediate environment and current desires. There is so much more waiting to be discovered, and it is accessible to you at any time by thinking (at home, on the go, everywhere!). I’ll give you an example of what I mean.

A few days ago, I purchased five dry erase boards with the intention of organizing my entire life in a specific way on them. This is not the type of activity that you just do on a Tuesday when you’re bored. It took significant deep thinking and planning, and that was after I spent a while thinking about  what I wanted to do with my life and how to do it.

As you may have picked up by now, deep thinking only happens intentionally. Even if you love deep thinking, you’re wired to think on the surface as a default. It makes sense for an animal that has no higher desires, but we’re not satisfied with only having food, water, and shelter. We demand more out of life because we can and it is fulfilling on another level.

At the core of deep thinking is asking questions.

What do I want? How can I get it? Why is this this way? What possible solutions are to this problem? Am I going about this the right way? Why is everyone so stressed out?

If you’re wondering where to start, you’ve already begun.