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Category: (IPS) INNER PEACE SYMPTOMS

achieving inner peace

PICK YOUR GAME (Another IPS)

PICK YOUR GAME (Another IPS)

ANOTHER IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  An understanding that Life is an opportunity to play.  [What you play (and how and why and when you move) often makes for a lot of difference in the results you get.]

Playing and helping other people play is my greatest “happy.”

I still think that one of the best things I ever did was to choose to look at all of the different aspects of Life-Its-Own-Self as play.

The possibilities inherent in that one excite me.   It sure does keep things cheerful in my world.

DEFINING THE GAME THAT IS LIFE

More than 15-some years ago, I stumbled across a book, FINITE AND INFINITE GAMES:  A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse.

By that time the book was already old news.  It had been published in 1986.

It’s one of those books that you either love or you hate.

I mean, what do you do with a book that starts out with, “There are at least two kinds of games.  One could be called finite, the other, infinite.  A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.

It goes on from there, with concept after concept piled up on top of contradictory concept, simultaneously building up and out and in and down towards the final comment (number 101) on the last page of this slim book, “There is but one infinite game.”

The book contains no actionable steps, no five- or ten- or twelve-step programs…or any steps at all.

There are no exercises, no tips, no shortcut life-hacks.

All it has going for it are musings about life and the ways you can play in it by a guy who is a certified deep thinker who thinks big thoughts.

Carse was Professor of Religion at New York University when he wrote the book.  At the time, he had won the University’s “Great Teacher Award.”  He retired in 1996 after thirty years of teaching religion and as head of the department at the University.

Carse wrote other books as well — such scintillating things as DEATH AND EXISTENCE:  A Conceptual History of Human Mortality, BREAKFAST AT THE VICTORY:  The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience, and THE SILENCE OF GOD:  Meditations on Prayer and several others.  Wo!

(I never did feel the urge to explore the guy’s other books so I can’t tell you much about them.)

You’ll find a lot of great takeaways in Carse’s “Game” book (if you happen to be the sort who gets stuck in head-games and are way into thinking about life and meaning and mana).  It’s one of those books that makes you nod and go yes, yes, yes.

The book is a deep dive into the patterns and templates you can look for as you construct your own life-story.

kaleidoscope
“Kaleidoscope” by Nigel Wade via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
It is a reminder that, at any given time, you are intimately involved in a grand and timeless game and it is you who gets to decide whether you will play the thing as a Finite game or as part of the Infinite one.

THIS THING’S A PLAY-BOOK….

Carse describes the ways of playing used in each kind of game and he delineates the underlying patterns of them as well.  It is a bit like a play-book for Life, I think.

He points out the differences in the moves that players in either game – Finite or Infinite – make and what the results of that way of moving is likely to be.

Carse does tell some good stories along the way.

It is a fascinating study, especially if, like me, you are prone to trying to figure out which of the two basic games the other people wandering through your life have chosen to play.

The thing the book is really good at is helping you to focus on whether you are choosing to play in a Finite game or the Infinite game your own self, and it helps you figure out which moves you need to consider making.

strategy
“Strategy” by tylerhoff via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
Through the years, Carse’s FINITE AND INFINITE GAMES has been the one constant book that sits on my writing desk among a number of changing titles that I have used to help to nudge my thinking in varied and sometimes helpful directions.

It has often been a starting point when I sit down to examine and consider yet another confusing tangled mess that I’ve somehow either wandered into or precipitated as a result of general dumbness.

The book has been most useful at helping me to suss out the options and directions that possess some modicum of grace from the many possible moves that I could take.

highways-crossing
“Highways Crossing” by Michael Theis via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
I confess that I do prefer to be an Infinite Game player.  I especially like the goal of continuing the play.

I am not particularly fond of “winning.”  (Winning usually means the game stops, and then I just have to go find some other game and start all over again.  Pfui!)

However, I also know that often it is necessary to play in the assorted Finite games that occur within the Infinite one because sometimes that’s the only way to get to a place where you can either continue to help keep the play going or expand it in all kinds of more interesting directions.

(For me, the bonus has always been getting some pretty good poems.)

NOT FOR EVERYBODY

I suppose I do also have to point out that if you are not interested in constructing your own life-story or if you are determined to win (or at least not lose) at whatever game you are playing then you will probably find the book a bore.

You’ve already plunked on playing some Finite game or other. You know your playing field.  You’ve got the rules down.  Your goal is to win the game and that is that.  (Good fortune go with you.  See ya!)

If you have not had practice contemplating paradoxes and playing around with metaphors and analogies and do not see the value of that sort of play, the book will not resonate with you.

It’ll join the pile of other woo-woo nonsense and romantic novels in the used book sale down the street.

karims-used-books
“Karim’s Used Books Nehru Place – Delhi” by Alan Morgan [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
If standing in uncertainty gives you the heebie-jeebies, then the thoughts and constructs contained in the book will seem like a major pile of high-browed hoo-hah.

If you have very strong ideas about how the world works that allow no room for wiggling, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to unlock the wonders the book contains.

Instead, you will declare that the assumptions you’ve adopted about the world you see are the only truths for you and you will confidently move forward along the paths they dictate.

And that can be a good thing too.

WHAT THE BOOK IS GOOD FOR

Carse’s book is a magnificent example of a thing that psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg, a noted researcher on the creative process, calls “Janusian thinking.”

The online Wiktionary says the phrase is an adjective that means, “having or relating to the ability to conceive and use multiple antithetical or opposite thoughts simultaneously.”

Rothenberg named it after the Roman god of thresholds and transitions, Janus.  Janus is typically depicted as a guy with two faces each facing in the opposite direction.

Not only does Janus have eyes in the back of his head, he’s got a whole other face.

janus
“Janus” by Mike Scoltock via Flickr [BY-NC 2.0]
Janusian thinking is what you do when you grab two or more contradictory ideas and hold them together in your mind until they stop fighting and start playing nice together.

What you try to do while the ideas are in there duking it out is to look at the captive concepts deeply enough so that you can come up with a third idea that will allow you to unlock the strengths and energies contained in those ideas and combine them in new and novel ways.

Talking about Janusian thinking is not easy, mostly because it is so foundational that it’s like talking about taking your first baby-steps.

baby-steps
“Baby Steps by Kevin Kratka via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
When you were a baby, you tried so very hard to get vertical and to totter forward.

Because you took those brave first steps and kept building up your skill at stepping, all kinds of other interesting things started happening as well.

All of a sudden you could move in all kinds of directions and get into all kinds of mischief.

Janusian thinking’s like those first baby-steps.  Your very first attempts at it are going to feel terribly awkward and clumsy.

Janusian thinking is “counter-intuitive.”  It goes against most people’s automatic gut reactions and often you may not find support for the thoughts you are thinking.

Janusian thinking is also another way of Un-Seeing.

Its function is to take you past your first thoughts and your default settings, your habitual patterns and your carefully built-up life routines.

If you succeed in getting past them, you will reach a space where you can construct new ways of doing and making things.

fluke-story
“Fluke Story (55 Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe Frame Off Restoration)”

While you’re learning to use this particular style of thinking — until you get the hang of deconstructing your deeply held assumptions, looking at things from every angle as the battling ideas wrestle each other into the ground — the whole process is going to be very effortful and it’s likely to feel sl-o-o-w.

This means you are going to feel really, really stupid doing it.

Keep doing it and it does speed up.  You can reach a place where just sticking the contradictory ideas into the ring starts a whole string of new ideas popping up in your head.

fight
“Fight” by MAZA FIGHT JAPAN via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Once you get the hang of deconstructing old preconceptions and letting go of past judgments as well as nurturing a multiplicity of perspectives and learning how to transmute the knowledge you gain from them into new understandings, you’ll be able to choose more effective ways to address whatever situation you might encounter.

That’s just a fancy way of saying you’ll be able to come up with fresh ideas that just might work way better than anything you’ve ever tried has worked before.

(Hey!  You may even be hailed as an innovator-extraordinaire or the next Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet or one of those Nobel Prize winners that Atherton studied or some such thing.)

Janusian thinking is a component of several higher systems of thought-making that have been studied by assorted guys in white lab coats:

  • cognitive thinking – the process by which you transmute the knowledge you get from experience, thought and sensory input and turn it into understandings you can use to solve problems or make stuff
  • design thinking – creative problem-solving that focuses on the people for whom a new product is being created
  • synergistic thinking – a process that blends and balances logical linear thinking and associative non-linear thinking to boost creativity, innovation and Making

It could also be viewed as a simplistic description of the foundations for Taoist and Zen thought processes, for shamanistic or indigenous thought precepts, and for other high-wizard stuff.

Do this and eventually you get to play in Harry-Potter-World…or maybe you’ll get to be the Sorceror’s Apprentice.

the-hat
“the hat” by Camron Flanders via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

AND THEN THERE’S THE DOWNSIDE

The downside of all of the processes that start with Janusian thinking is that they can also multiply the variety, intensity and severity of the mistakes you can make…if they don’t paralyze you with the sheer volume of possibilities.

Sometimes when you are dancing on the edge, you make a mis-step and fall off.  Other times you stand on the edge of chaos and look into the Void and see the Void looking back at you.   (Yeep!)

Those who depend on their world staying concrete and linear and rational won’t go there.  (This thing is not for the faint-hearted nor for those who panic when they are stuck in ambiguity.)

It’s also not for those who are not seriously into examining their underlying motives and intentions.  (Intent gets really important when you play in Harry-Potter-World.)

Janusian thinking is the place where innovative geniuses go. It is also the place where the mad ones stay.

This is the place where the old maps say, “Here there be dragons.”

here-there-be-dragons
“Here there be dragons” by gomagoti via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
And if you choose to go there, it can, as well, make it really hard for you to talk to regular folks who have never left the living room couch.

Those who walk the trails into the Mystic and the serious psychedelic rangers go through initiation rites that require “dying to the world” in some way or other.  So do those whose intense creative, athletic or scientific bent takes them way into the middle of the Zone.

Janusian thinking is exactly like that.

All of the ones who choose to play the Infinite Game are often more than a little strange.

long-road
“La Longue Route” by marcovdz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
If you choose, instead, to become a poet or a storyteller, however, then it can all turn into play.

Good poets and storytellers have no problem talking to people.  It’s what they do.

Here’s a poem about a clash between someone playing a Finite game and another who’s more into the Infinite one….


WRONG MOVIE

There she goes, stomping along strong,

Being Godzilla attacking Tokyo.

(I guess I’ve been cast as Tokyo.)

Hmmm….

 

My job, it says here, is to stand there

Getting pounded and ground down

By big, stomping feet,

And pushed and shoved aside

By strong, powerful shoulders,

Pummeled by massive fists all the while.

I’m supposed to bend and break

Before the temper-tantrum wrath

Of riled-up Biggie.

Uh-huh….

 

My role, it says here, is to quake

As roars and growls fill the air.

I get to dash around in panic

Trying to find a place to hide

My own small self.

Right….

 

Oh, and, it says here,

There’s supposed to be

A lot of bleeding with street-pizza decorations

Strewn about in the general mayhem,

All those slash wounds from gy-normous claws

Having taken their toll.

O-ka-a-a-y…..

 

Gee, it says I’m supposed to weep in despair.

AWWW….

This won’t work.

Sorry, babe.

You need to call Central Casting again.

They sent you the wrong character actor, I think.

 

See, mostly I spend my time playing at being Wind.

I’m not sure this Godzilla movie

Has much use for gentle breezes and sweet, soft zephyrs.

I don’t think it can use snazzy updrafts and down-drafts

And slider-currents that support cunning wings.

There are no sails around here I can fill

To push the story forward.

And I’m pretty sure you won’t like

The hurricanes, the tornadoes and the cyclones

I’ve been developing.

 

Ah, well…

So it goes.

See ya….

By Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “House of the Sun” by David Fulmer via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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OPEN TO SERENDIPITY – Another Inner Peace Symptom

OPEN TO SERENDIPITY – Another Inner Peace Symptom

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that setting goals and self-discipline are important but you need to leave doors and windows open to the unexpected.  [Serendipity and dancing in the Mystery takes you to wonders that all your plans and willful intent would have you ignore….]

Awwww…PFUI!

I am having a problem explaining “serendipity,” I think.

And the Jungian concept of “synchronicity” (which is closely related), is a complex mind-boggling morass of interrelated concepts with weird names that grew out of Carl Gustav Jung’s study of “meaningful coincidences.”

Jung was the early 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who is credited with founding analytical psychology.

(He was also a full-blown mystic and a lot of his musings on the inner workings of the mind and of Life-Its-Own-Self get really “out there.”)

Not a help.

Hmmm….

Maybe I’m approaching this thing wrong.

I’m trying to do the Scholar/pseudo-Scientist thing on it.

Instead of driving myself nuts trying to herd these distinctly counterintuitive, non-linear concepts onto a slide and sticking them under a metaphoric microscope so you can look at them wriggling all around, I’m going to do the Poet on them and try to get them to do a stomp-dance.

leilani-spins
“Leilani Spins” by steve mcnicholas via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND2.0]

LET’S DO THIS….

The thing is, those fifty-dollar words are just names for shiny, startling, free-floating bits in the matrix of what we call “Real”.  These bits tend to land on us when we least expect it.

Some of these surprising bits are joyous and light.  Others can be pretty heavy-duty challenges.

These days we tend to think of serendipity as the happier bits — little surprises that delight us or that answer some need of ours for a thing for which we’ve been intently searching.

One of my favorite definitions of “serendipity” comes from William McKeen, PhD, a journalist and teacher who has written nine books and edited four more.  The definition is also one of the simplest to understand, I think.

He says, “Serendipity is defined as the ability to make fortunate discoveries accidentally.”

McKeen’s job, he says, is trying to make people think.

In an article posted in the New York Times Archives, when he was the Chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Florida, McKeen tells the story of how he challenged the students in his freshman classes at the University by requiring each of them to subscribe to the New York Times Monday through Friday.

He told the students that he expected them to read through the dailies as a matter of routine and to use the things when they did their research rather than just going on-line and sorting through the front-page stuff that’s cherry-picked by assorted editors and other experts for “relevance” or weightiness or whatever.

Ignoring the groans and moans of his students, the professor required them to engage in the messiness of Life-Its-Own-Self, as documented by folks who are paid to go look at the lives around them and turn what they see into stories, day in and day out.

Why?

Because, he said, if you only use the admittedly wonderful variety and diverse resources available to you online, then “you would only find what you are looking for.”

Internet searches tend to be targeted.  You enter some key words into a search engine and you can pretty much find exactly what you are looking for.

Sometimes there are irritating misses if you haven’t gotten your search parameters right, but you can work your way through all the way to your goal pretty quickly.

(In my research for this thing, for example, I learned that “Serendipity” is also a type of nail-polish styling method and got a lot of tips on how to do it myself.  Hmmm.)

This directed searching thing is an excellent tool.  It saves a lot of time.

However, it does come at a cost.

As McKeen puts it, “When you know what you want – or think you do – you lose the adventure of discovery, of finding something for yourself.”

I think you also lose (or never find) your own voice.

Wandering around in the back pages of a good newspaper can be like browsing through the back shelves of an old library or in a good bookstore.  You can find amazing stuff there.

library
“Library” by Emily via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
McKeen contends that it’s the stories buried in the back of the dailies – in the business section, the sports section, the lifestyle sections or the obituary page — that can add nuance and richness, value and content to your stash of factoids that you can dip into to help direct and spur and refine your own thinking and your ways of seeing the world.

I was pleased to note that McKeen’s books include EVERYBODY HAD AN OCEAN:  Music and Mayhem in 1960s Los Angeles (2017), OUTLAW JOURNALIST:  The Life and Times of Hunter Thompson (2008), and TOM WOLFE (1995).  Intriguing topics, all.

SERENDIPITY, INNOVATION AND ALL THAT GOOD STUFF

Here’s a video featuring Jason Silva, my favorite free-style stomp-dancer in the world of ideas.  It was published in 2014 by Shots of Awe and tells us that serendipity results from mashing up a bunch of ideas together and seeing what falls out.

Surprise and startling insights are distinct possibilities when you start mashing stuff together.

Sometimes, as Silva points out so playfully, serendipity involves a moment of insight, the “’aha’ moment” that has since been made popular by communicator-extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey.

You see or experience something that catalyzes an insight which blossoms in your head and helps you find the most elegant answer to a question over which you have been beating that head against a wall.

You pick up a book from the discount table at your neighborhood bookstore and it falls open to a page with a significant passage that changes your perspective on a problem, for instance.

Something your little girl says or a conversation overheard while waiting in line starts a train of thought that leads to your writing a pretty good poem or article or even a novel.

That “aha” moment can spark an innovative idea that propels you forward in a new direction.  You slog along looking for something and you either find just what you needed or you find something better.

aha
“aha” by Tracy via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Many inventions were the result of serendipitous insights.  Things like penicillin, Post-It notes, and the telephone would not exist if the people who developed them hadn’t detoured or made mistakes while pursuing other goals.

In 1928, for example, Alexander Fleming was actively looking for a new antibiotic.  He returned from a vacation and found that penicillin juice left in petri-dishes that should have been washed while he was gone was apparently killing off bacteria.

Alexander Graham Bell’s microphone, first tested in 1876, was a detour that led him to develop his telephone.  At the time Bell thought he was developing a new kind of hearing aid.

Post-It notes were born in 1974 when Arthur Fry figured out that he could use the low-tack pressure sensitive adhesive accidentally developed in 1968 by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver.

Until Fry came up with the idea of using Silver’s glue-that-wouldn’t-stay-stuck as a non-damaging way to hold bookmarks in his hymnal so that he could find the songs he was supposed to be singing as a member of the choir at his church, the not-exactly-glue was an idea that had not worked.

The ever-growing list of these kinds of accidental inventions goes on and on.

SERENDIPITY AND OUR RELATIONSHIPS

Many of us meet our most meaningful relationships – a spouse, friend, business partners, mentors, or life-changing personal connections – from chance encounters.

Often serendipitous events, like running into an old pal with whom you’ve lost touch, can work wonders for your psyche.

Old friends can remind you of dreams you’ve allowed to go dormant.  Sometimes those old dreams get resurrected or revived with good results.

(Either that, or you thank your lucky stars that you gave up on that old thing and are way more appreciative of the life you’ve built instead.)

Sometimes a chance encounter might open doors that were closed to you or help you find a True Companion who wants to join you on your quest.  Sometimes you meet a new person who “gets” you.

In this very short TED talk, “Inviting Serendipity To Your Life”, management consultant and author John Hagel tells the story of how Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired magazine found the CTO of his drone aircraft technology company while participating in an internet forum.

The talk was filmed at TED University in 2011 and published by the TED Archive guys on YouTube in 2018.

AND WHY SHOULD YOU EVEN CARE ABOUT THIS STUFF?

Okay.  Let’s say you are not a researcher, a scholar or an inventor, and you have no ambitions to be an artist, a performer, a writer or an entrepreneur.  Maybe you’re a regular sort of workaday minion, living out your days in the best way you can and not at all unhappy with your lot in life.

Why should you care about this stuff?

Let’s parse this out.

All kinds of studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the way we see the world and how we feel emotionally.

Other studies (and all kinds of wise guys down through the ages) have told us that the way we feel affects how we move in the world which then affects how the world responds to us and so on and so forth.

It does seem to indicate that being open to discovering new ways of thinking could have a very real effect on us and on the life each of us lives.

In this 2016 TEDx Talk, personal development coach and author Paul Hannaman talks about his concept of “Everyday Serendipity” at the TEDx event at the University of Brighton.

Hannaman’s book, THE WISDOM OF GROUNDHOG DAY:  How to Improve Your Life One Day at a Time, is actually a life-action plan based on the “hidden, underlying roadmap to freedom” found in a popular romantic comedy film, Groundhog Day, which was written by screenwriter Danny Rubin.

AND NOW FOR SYNCHRONICITY….

Okay.

That looks like a wrap on “serendipity”.

Now, for a (very) short and probably misguided look at “synchronicity.”

It is interesting to note that while the bit about “serendipity” in the “Best Answer” from the Yahoo Answers online forum archives for a query about “the difference between serendipity and synchronicity” is succinct and pretty much right on, the part about “synchronicity” gets lost in a lot of verbiage that leaves you scratching your head.

I agree with the Yahoo guy’s definition of “serendipity”.  He says it’s “finding something unexpected and useful while searching for something else.”

Then he goes on to say that “synchronicity” is a “word coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung to describe the temporally coincident occurences of acausal events….”  Huh?

Right.

I say that synchronicity is more like strong currents or riptides in the flow of the life-energy around us or like amazing, illogical, sideways quantum leaps of one sort or another that may not always be such delightful and gladsome surprises as the serendipity things, but which do seem to invariably lead to significant changes in our perceptions of the world we live in.

riptide
“Riptide!” By Big Swede Guy via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
They happen.  We cope.

The new ways of seeing that we discover as a result of synchronicity can take us to some other unplanned-for space that’s a decided improvement on where we were.

Those of us with a bent toward the woo-woo like to think that serendipity and synchronicity are evidence of the fact that Life-Its-Own-Self is a grand Mystery of the finest kind.

FINAL THOUGHT

In the words of my favorite poet, Mary Oliver:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Good question, huh?  Maybe serendipity and synchronicity can help you figure out your own answers to it.

Here’s a poem:


THE WORLD (ACCORDING TO YOU)

 What IS that?

The World (according to you)

Comes equipped with a set of rules and regs

That surround you with hurdles built of solid P.C. bricks

Set in a mine-field of P’s and Q’s, I’s to dot and T’s to cross.

 

How do you MOVE in a world like that,

Where, at every misstep on this crooked trail

Of shoulda’s, coulda’s, and might-have-beens

There’s a maze of dead ends and deader conversations?

 

How does it work for you

When you do not dare take your eyes off your feet

Because the ground you’re walking is just studded

With assorted cantrips of “polite” and “correct”?

 

Can you see through the veils of other-people thoughts

That tramp on through your head,

Squelching every impulse to giggle and laugh out loud

At the fables of this silly World?

 

Auwe, my sistah, auwe!

So sad, my braddah….

 

Can you even taste the heady wine

of freedom…of change

That floats through this Universe like a river?

Or does the bitterness in your mouth obscure that joy?

 

Auwe, auwe, auwe….

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Maui” by Dale Cruse via [CC BY 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts

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CHOOSE YOUR DELUSION WELL (Another IPS)

CHOOSE YOUR DELUSION WELL (Another IPS)

Yeah, I know.  It’s what I tell myself all of the time, echoing the I Ching and assorted other wise guys and smarty-pants, ancient and new:  The goal is getting to clarity.

Right.

The problem with that one, of course, is that I’m such a little thing and the Universe is really, REALLY huge.

What are the odds that I’m ever really going to be able to know enough to make sense out of it all?

How likely is it that I’ll be the know-it-all who can suss out the Whopper Mystery and the All of Everything – even with the help of all these electronic devices and beaucoup-pile of databases and stacks of books and that?

Uh….hmmm….

IT’S A DILEMMA, ALL RIGHT.

As far as I can tell there are just two basic stances you can take when you start dancing your Tao Dance.   There are ongoing, long-standing arguments for either one.

  1. Everybody and everything is against you and they’re all out to get you.
  2. The world all around you is conspiring to do you good.

The first stance is so old it has an established name.  It’s called “paranoia.”

paranoia
“Paranoia” by katie weilbacher via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Google will tell you that “paranoia” is a noun that means, “a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system.”

The entry warns that this “may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.”

The second one has a made-up name that’s slowly making its way into dictionaries and such: “pronoia.”

little-hand
“Little hand” by ePi.Longo via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Wikipedia credits a psychologist, Dr. Fred H. Goldner of Queens College in New York City, as the probable official coiner of the name.  The good doctor wrote an article in 1982 that was published in the academic journal Social Problems. 

That article, titled “Pronoia,” detailed a phenomenon that is the positive mirror-image of the more established social delusion we call paranoia.

Goldner said that there are those among us who take the social complexity and ambiguity we encounter in the modern world and rearrange the events and circumstances that we all encounter in our lives into a story of support, connection, and well-wishing.

They carry this story with them and the actions that arise out of it are very different than the ones engendered by the paranoia paradigm.

The ideas in Goldner’s article resonated (and continues to resonate) with a lot of people.

Just six years later, in 1988, author Paulo Coelho came out with a novel, THE ALCHEMIST.  In it the protagonist, a young Andalusian shepherd boy, dreams about traveling in search of an extravagant worldly treasure that will fulfill his every wish.

From his home in Spain, Santiago journeys to the markets of Tangier and across the Egyptian desert and has a bunch of adventures before encountering an old, wise man called “the Alchemist.”

The wise old magic guy encourages the boy on his quest telling the boy, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 

And so Santiago goes on.

Thirty years later, the book is still going strong.

This YouTube video, “Paulo Coelho on Luck, Coincidence and Faith” was published in   2008 by HarperOne (an imprint of HarperCollins) to celebrate the book as a “modern classic.”

At the time, 22 million copies of the book – two million of which were in English — had been sold worldwide.

Nine years later, in 2017, Jubilee published the next YouTube video entitled, “How the Universe Is On Your Side” as part of their Patreon campaign called Dear Humanity.

The idea continues to gain ground, it seems.

MY OWN THINKING

All of this stuff got me thinking about how each of these two seemingly opposing and (equally delusional) systems of thought-constructs might affect the way you walk through the world.

Which point of view colors your days with rainbows and fills it with bouquets of sweet-smelling flowers?

Which one peoples your world with smiles and laughter and kindness all around?

Which filter would be likely to lead you to view the world with brighter eyes and more joy?

We humans are lucky.  We get to choose the glasses we want to wear.  It is, more than anything else, our birthright – just because we’re human.

In my perambulations through the multi-versal Internet, I ran across yet another YouTube video, just published in 2018 by EntertainHumorousVlooper.  It’s called, “When You Want Something All the Universe Conspires in Helping You Achieve It.

So that’s why I came up with this thing:

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an increasing tendency towards radical trust in the Universe.  [It’s a cool thing to feel that there’s a conspiracy afoot to enhance your well-being.  Hawaiians say, “Akua take care.”]

Here’s a poem:


PUNAHELE

 

Punahele, a precious child of the heart…

That’s me, a favored child of the Universe.

(You are one too.)

We are made of the same stuff as

Rainbows and stars and mighty butterfly wings.

For us, the all-there-is

Opens its arms in welcome,

An invitation to dance

In the abundance that is the Universe.

 

Come on…

We can go

Stomping in all the mud puddles

Down some long dirt road…

We can lie quiet on some hillside

Watching the clouds roll by

In a stately dance. 

We can ride the biggest wave,

Fly so high, delve so deep

That we break into another space

That’s every bit as fine as this one.

 

We can turn our hands

To all the tasks the world requires

And at the end of a long day,

We can rest in the peace

That settles over us,

The peace that comes from Done.

 

We can hug and love and fool around all warm,

Holding hands, all of us together

As we walk each other home.

We can brave the deepest shadows,

Spending our light on

Helping each other see the

Sparkles hidden in the deepest depths,

Clambering over crystals grown

Bigger than the oldest trees.

 

We are punahele,

And all of this…

ALL of this

Is our birthright.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Half the Trouble’s In the Asking,” by Thomas Hawk via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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HOW TO COUNTER CHANGE BLINDNESS — Another IPS

HOW TO COUNTER CHANGE BLINDNESS — Another IPS

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing appreciation of process.  [Creativity and change move through every situation you encounter.  Enjoy the ride ’cause there ain’t no going back!]

Change is everywhere.  Everything keeps changing, little by little.  Like a tree growing, it just keeps on.

The thing is you don’t really notice how big that tree is getting until you find an old picture and are amazed at the difference in that tree your father planted in the yard all those years ago.

tree-at-chellow-dean
“Tree at Chellow Dean” by Tim Green via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
This is true of everything and everyone around you.

A day doesn’t seem very long but changes do happen.  Every day, there’s at least a miniscule little difference.

Things grow this way or that as time flows on – a tree, your town, your partner, your kids, your business, or even you.  There is always a little bit of change.

These changes are often so small that they are easily overlooked.

Then, “suddenly”, one day, you notice that everything is different and you are blown away.

And that is how life tends to come at you.

WHAT?  WHEN DID THAT CHANGE?

Consider what has happened in the last year.  What about the last decade?

Take a look at any chunk of time in your life and the bigger the chunk, the more changes you’ll be able to point to.

Researchers have had a field day for decades studying how people tend not to notice change as it’s happening, in the short term and in the long term as well.

They tell us it’s just how humans are hard-wired.

We notice what’s in our world in bits and pieces in a rapid and dynamic way.

We pay attention to the bits that seem to be important to us at that time and then we build constructs and stories out of our initial impressions.

Sometimes, however, our constructs and the stories we’ve built get in the way of actually seeing what’s happening now.

A fun book to read regarding this phenomenon is THE INVISIBLE GORILLA:  And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Daniel Simons and Chris Chabris.  The two authors are the creators of one of psychology’s most famous experiments.

This YouTube video, “The Invisible Gorilla” features Daniel Simons talking about that experiment.  It was published by the Beckman Institute in 2011 and won a regional Emmy award.

As Simons says, the human mind pretty much sees what it expects to see.

We are often blind to change because we are focusing on something else that we feel is important and that needs to be processed and attended to.

Distractions that occur within the same time-frame as the change, the age of an observer, as well as the use of psychoactive drugs also may affect whether we notice some change or other.

HUH?

The guys in the lab coats call this mind-trick “change blindness” and, they say, we are all vulnerable to its effects.  It’s an everyday phenomenon.

Drivers fail to recognize changes in traffic lights.  They miss important signs and signals from other vehicles and from their surroundings.  Sometimes they don’t notice pedestrians or other vehicles in their path.

Accidents happen.

accident-in-egan
“Accident in Egan” by Ruin Raider via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Imagine what would happen if an air traffic controller did not notice some important change on their instruments.  Yipes!

Arguments, misunderstandings and confusion are likely between people who fail to recognize that one or the other of them has changed in some way.

Eyewitness reports about any incident will differ radically from each other and, even worse, may have almost no congruence with what actually happened.

The number of big, smart and successful companies who completely failed to notice that their environment had changed is the stuff of legend.

The “buggy-whip syndrome” takes out those entrepreneurs who fail to notice the rise of some new technology or innovation that makes their product or their way of doing business redundant or obsolete. They bite the dust.

SO WHAT’S YOUR NEXT MOVE?

The researchers do say that knowing about your propensity for change blindness is a help.

They also tell us that what you pay attention to can help you navigate better through this ever-changing world.

They agree that you do have to know what is important to you and keep your eye on that.

Some of them also emphasize the importance of knowing how any major change that may occur will affect these important-to-you things.

That could be an overwhelming task, it seems to me.

warning
Warning” by Chris Tse via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Example.  We’ve all heard about climate change and increasingly erratic weather patterns, but what does that mean to us personally?

  • Do we sell our coastal homes and relocate inland?
  • Do we stay where we are, but invest in retrofits and reinforcements?
  • Do we ignore the warnings and hope for the best?

ARGH!

It can be really hard to wrap your head around many of the major world changes and their possible effects on your life.

The final acts of some of the really big world changes are probably set for tens of thousands of years in the future.

Unless it’s your passion, it may be a bit difficult to work up serious personal concern about them in the here and now.

However, many of the challenges of other lesser changes (like you working in a failing or fading industry or your kids hitting puberty or your aging parent’s need for care) can be foreseen.

You can probably suss out at least some of the effects these changes may have on your life.

You are likely to find examples and models of different ways to deal with these sorts of changes that other people have developed and you may be able to construct specific plans that you can use to deal with them.

Doing this can allow you to gradually implement these plans to good effect.

Some Smarty-Pants advocate having an early warning system in place that alerts you to the need to work out what you can do to preserve the important things in your life before a change that could adversely affect them occurs.

I’ve lived all my life with an early warning system set up by the (American) National Weather Service that alerts us island folk of the approach of tsunamis and hurricanes.

The eerie wailing of that siren system as it is tested every month reminds us that the possibility of disaster is a given.

tsunami-warning-system
“Tsunami Warning Siren” by Wesley Fryer via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
I’m not sure how I feel about having a personal early-warning system which might have the net effect of reminding me that at any time in this era of whirlwind changes my life could possibly turn to drek.

Trying to parse out every marginally likely worst-case scenario and then figuring out possible solutions or game plans for a whole array of these changes is more than a little daunting.

(It also sounds massively time-consuming.)

And then, of course, there is the Mike Tyson admonition: “Everyone thinks they have a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.”  This, too, is a truth.

joe-louis-monument
“Joe Louis Monument” by Amaury Laporte via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

ANOTHER TAKE

This YouTube video, “Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck)” features social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood’s 2013 talk at TEDxUCDavis.

It looks at another way to deal with the events and changes that happen and will continue to happen every day in your world.

Listening to Ledgerwood reminded me that change blindness can also keep us from seeing how the circumstances of our lives have changed for the better.

As she points out, we humans tend to focus on the negatives and gloss over the positive, “good” changes that happen (and keep happening) along with the “bad.”  Many of us are naturals at forecasting worst-case scenarios.

Consciously working on noticing the positives may actually be a better alternative than compulsively planning and preparing for every catastrophe and making an archive of back-up and contingency plans that may never be needed.

You only have so much time in the world.  Do you really want to spend it making plans and preparing yourself for dealing with what might happen if The-Sh*t-Hits-The-Fan?

Some people do.  Perhaps you are one of them.

If not, then focusing on practicing and stretching your ability to stay in Ledgerwood’s “gain frame” might be right for you.

AND ONE MORE

Happiness researcher Shawn Achor is well-known for his advocacy of positive thinking.

One of his books, THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, points out that starting from happiness (rather than using happiness as a reward) actually may work to boost your productivity at work and your overall general sense of well-being.

He also gives practical pointers on how you can rewire your brain so that the happiness that’s already in your life becomes a sustainable, self-renewing thing.

The following YouTube video is a short animated review of the book published in 2016 by Practical Psychology.  It points out some of the book’s highlights.

Here’s a poem….


I AM NOTICING

I am noticing that

I don’t do “love” poems any more.

Not the spooning-mooning kind

‘Bout you and me by the deep blue sea,

Happy, we, in our mutual blindness.

Not the angst-ridden scouring

Of a heart already rubbed raw

By the windblown sands of a broken hourglass.

Not the whining, wailing love-song gone sour,

The cry from a heart lost in the dark.

Not the golden content of love grown old,

Rubbed down by an ocean’s worth of waves and storms

That have smoothed away all the extraneous

Lusts and desires that seemed so important once.

None of that, now.

No more.

 

I’m noticing, too, that

I don’t do protest poems any more.

‘Bout all the darkness in this old world.

No longer do I peer through the gloom

With spinning post-apocalyptic eyes,

Looking for the spark of some other, brighter paradise.

No longer am I pronouncing jeremiads

Excoriating vile evils and dark deeds,

Invoking wrathful deities.

I have stopped using my head as a battering ram,

Beating against the walls of the obtuse,

Trying to fix the unbroken universe.

I am done with that.

Don’t go there any more.

 

The passion still sits, burning in my gut.

I can feel it.

(I’m pleased to report it has not leaked out, that passion,

Like some body fluid running down my leg.)

 

Now, though, it’s some giant burning bird,

Turning raptor eyes on this mirror-world.

Tiger, that old warrior, sleeps soundly,

Sprawled at my feet, snoring.

He’s tired, spent, and worn.

The intensity’s still there, but now it’s coiled around me,

A quiescent Turtle-Snake in cold sleep,

Before the warmth of yet another spring sun touches him.

 

I wonder if I am gaining

That thing the wise guys call “perspective.”

That’s a GOOD thing, right?

It could be that I’m turning jade-hard, jade-strong –

I’ve been ripped out of my earthly womb

Where the rough and raw crystalline me

Grew through the millennia,

And I’ve gone lustrous after being

Shaped and polished by some artisan’s hand.

I sit now, an art object.

 

I am finding it….unsatisfactory, I think.

I would rather be ravaged by starlight

And bruised by butterfly wings.

I would rather be riding my Dragon.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit: “Kapalua, Maui Sunrise” by Mark Cameron via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Thanks for the visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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YOUR WALK TALKS — Another IPS

YOUR WALK TALKS — Another IPS

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing awareness that the only thing that abides is the way you walk.  [How are you walking and how is your walk talking?]

Assorted studies have shown that the way you walk down the street increases your chances of being a victim, a target for challenge, or a welcome addition to a group.

If that’s so, it seems to me, then all of the possible different ways you could walk are likely to evoke responses from the people around you and might even determine how you’ll be treated by them.

STUDYING THE MOVES

This video, “100 Different Ways to Walk,” is actually an “animation reference” put together by stop-motion animator and self-styled video wizard Kevin Parry in 2017 as a way to remind himself of the wide variety of ways a humanoid might walk.

It’s a thing Parry uses to develop the action in his stop-motion animation films.  It can also be a way for you to pay attention to the emotions and reactions different ways of walking might evoke in you.

Check it out and think on how you might react and what you might feel about a person if you happened to see someone walking past you using one of these different ways of moving through the world.

What would you think about this person?  What is your likely reaction to him or her?  Your responses to each of these ways of movement might be surprisingly different.

If you like Parry’s work, you may want to check out his official website.  click-here

My thought is that if the way you move your body can evoke emotions and reactions from other people who are watching what you do, then it’s likely that the way you are moving yourself through your world  – your actions and the ways you deal with others around you, the choices you make and the paths you take – can also cause other people to react to you in very different ways.

YOUR TALK STAYS TALK IF YOU DON’T DO THE WALK

The thing is, as American author, speaker and pastor John C. Maxwell succinctly put it, “Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

“I have to start doing that!”  Oh, yeah.

“I NEED to do that!”  Uh-huh.

You hear that all the time, right?

talking-over-supper
“Talking Over Supper” by John Flannery via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Every time there’s some new study and whenever some new idea or concept starts making the rounds, the noise level gets louder and there’s a flurry of “Me-too, me-too, I’m going to do it!”

What’s your initial reaction to all that?  Maybe you throw a little bit of a cynical grin?  Maybe a little snort or snigger?

I bet you don’t really take all the foo-fah-rah seriously.  You’ve heard it all before, after all.  People tell you what they’re going to do or what they need to do and how they are going to really, really do it…but, then, they never get around to it somehow.

Or maybe they tried something and it didn’t go as they expected.  It was really hard and the results were not what they wanted.  It was disappointing and not at all the thing.

So these folks are going to try this next great thing, and this time….hoo-hoo!  They will do it.  Right.

After a while, the blathering tires out your ears.

In our younger days we might have been surprised and even disappointed by the lack of follow-through.  Eventually it’s very likely that we pretty much stop paying attention to the pronouncements and declarations filling up the airwaves.

Instead, we start paying attention to the way the people doing all that talking are walking.  We give a heck of a lot more credence to the other person’s consistent action over a long period of time.

WASH, RINSE, REPEAT

Fact.  If you change back to your old behaviors every time you hit a speed-bump, nobody is going to believe you want a different world.

Talk is inexpensive.  All of us say things all the time about who we are, what we can do, what we’re going to do and on and on.

Walking is not so easy to fake.

walking
Walking” by oatsy40 via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
If you stay the course (as hard as that is to do) you will gain credibility.  The longer you keep walking towards that goal you say you’re heading towards and the fact that you keep on doing it no matter what is very convincing.

When your words and your actions match each other and they demonstrate who you are, then people will start to believe that what you say really is what you do.

Positive thinker Ralph Marston, who puts together the popular positivity blog, The Daily Motivator, says it well: “What you say can make a big difference, but only if it is fully supported by what you do. Walk your talk, and both your walking and your talking will get great things done.”

This YouTube video, “Why Our Actions Speak Louder than Words” was published in 2016 by biologist-turned-filmmaker Rob Nelson.   It adds another take on the matter.

Rob and his collaborator Jonas Stenstrom, another biologist-cum-filmmaker, put together a channel on YouTube, “52 Things” which is specifically geared towards “making better science storytellers with photo and video.”  They are producing a series of videos to help other science bloggers become better filmmakers.

Check out their Patreon page.  If you’d like to become a patron and support them in this endeavor, click here:

click-here

Here’s a poem:


NOTHING COMING

Hey, Braddah….

I’m sorry to see that I was right.

(I had so hoped I was wrong.)

You’re showin’ you cannot handle

Dealing straight with the trust

You were given.

 

The excuses and rationalizations

Are flying so thick,

I cannot even talk.

I have no advice for you…

No it’s-gonna-be-all-right,

No absolution.

This one’s yours

And you’ll have to fix it –

A D.I.Y. project.

 

You’re feeling guilty.

I can see that,

Uh-huh….

The shaky structure you have built

On this shifting sand of maybes and couldas and shouldas

Is getting washed away,

Undermined by the waves of murky thoughts

Generated by too many issues

That have nothing to do with me.

 

I’m sorry, man.

You’re the one who keeps on digging the hole.

And, for real, I’ve run out of hands to help.

 

Guess you’re gonna have to deal, Braddah-man….

Created by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Haleakala Sunrise by lwtt93 via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and let me know what you think.

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WORRY-BUSTING (Another Inner Peace Symptom)

WORRY-BUSTING (Another Inner Peace Symptom)

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a disinclination to encourage catastrophic thinking and worrying.  [Worst-case scenarios rarely happen.  Allowing yourself to get caught up in mind-loops about them just makes you dizzy and paralyzes you.]

THE HUMAN DIFFERENCE

I am reading a book, BODY INTELLIGENCE:  Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life by the renowned body energy expert and holistic psychologist, Dr. Joseph Cardillo, PhD.  A fascinating read.

It starts from the premise that “you are energy, your world is energy, and everything in your world is energy.”  It goes on from there.

In it, the good doctor combines Western science, technology, psychology, holistic medicine and ancient wisdoms as well as years of experiences and stories to teach you how to tap into your own inherent human energy.  He presents helpful suggestions and strategies that enable you to access this energy and help you live your best life.

One interesting concept Cardillo points out is this:  Unlike other animals, humans have the gift of visualization.  Lucky us.

We humans can imagine events that haven’t happened and we can actually see them in our mind’s eye.  We can build whole worlds in our heads that don’t exist and plop ourselves right inside them.  We can make up epic stories about what can happen to us in these worlds we make up.

The reason you can do this, Carillo explains, is because of your brain’s attention network which relies on information you’ve stored in your memory as well as all the millions of bits of external information that’s available to you and how you gather this information together.

We humans are all so good at doing this that we can trigger very real emotional and physical reactions in ourselves.  Consider this.  In the middle of a strong visualization you can have all kinds of feelings and thoughts about the imagined scenario.  You just naturally consider all kinds of possibilities – some good, others bad.

Because we are such integrated creatures and since our minds affect our bodies as much as our bodies affect our minds, visualization can be a blessing or a curse.

You can ride so high on a tide of bliss that you lose your way, like a balloonist tossed around in high winds.  (Bliss feels really, really good.  Mostly, though, you can’t steer well when your head’s all spacey like that.)

Ideally, if you are able to ride out the less-idyllic aspects of your visualization, you can use the swift kick in the behind that’s the gift that the uneasiness and queasiness we call “worry” carries to sharpen your focus on the situation you’re imagining, to enhance your comprehension of its nuances and ramifications, and to effectively execute actions to overcome assorted real-life challenges that you are likely to face on your way to your envisioned goal.

Alternatively, you might be overwhelmed and drown in the anxieties that arise as a result of your visualization of all of the possible disasters, catastrophes and other worst-case scenarios that your mind can conjure.  This last can cause serious damage to your body and your mind.

worry
“Worry” by Kristian Dela Cour via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

THE DOWNSIDE OF WORRYING

Anxiety, which is a natural consequence of worry, triggers your body’s flight-fight response.  This causes your body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol, which can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel.

Physical reactions (in alphabetical order) could include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Nervous energy
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and twitching

Studies have shown that if the excessive fuel in your blood caused by chronic anxiety and all that outpouring of stress hormones is not used for physical activities, there can be severe consequences.  Muscle tension, premature coronary artery disease, and heart attacks are possible.  Your digestive system gets wonky and your immune system gets compromised.

Not only that, but short-term memory loss is not uncommon.  If the excessive worrying and high anxiety continues, they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

Catastrophic thinking, worrying, and anxiety is not a good alternative.

dont-worry-be-happy
“don’t worry, be happy” by anthony fain via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

BACK-TO-THE PRESENT METHOD

This You-Tube video, “Three Steps to Overcoming Worry” was published in 2014 by depression counselor Doug Bloch who is, himself, prone to anxiety, worry and depression.

Again, here are Bloch’s Big Three:

  • Reel in your mind to the here-and-now, where you are safe.
  • Acknowledge that your catastrophic thoughts are not real.
  • Positive self-talk or action that allows you to focus on the outside world rather than hanging out in your interior spaces help break the hold of a persistent worry.

FIGHT WORRY WITH KNOWLEDGE

Another way to deal with the tendency to catastrophize and worry is to develop mastery.

Joshua Slocum was a solo sailor who set out to sea from Massachusetts in a stubby oyster sloop just shy of 37 feet on April 24, 1895.  He said he was going to circumnavigate the planet by himself in this small sailboat.  Everybody thought he was insane.

In his book about his adventure, SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD, Joshua said, “To know the laws that govern the winds, and to know that you know that you know them, will give an easy mind on your voyage round the world; otherwise you may tremble at the appearance of every cloud.”

The young man giving a review about a book called THE WORST CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK in this You-Tube video published by 190 granary in 2009 obviously agrees that the best strategy is to figure out what you’re going to do ahead of time.

The book was written by Joshua Pivens and David Borgenicht.

TO-WORRY LIST

Everybody has a number of concerns that are important but not in-your-face-urgent.  They’re the stuff you know you need to address at some point when you’ve got some breathing room.

The problem is Urgent has a tendency to overshadow Important – things like de-cluttering your life, developing a saner budget or diet, putting together a will, getting your important files and papers organized or upgrading your education — get buried under more mundane things like “What’s for dinner?” and “What are we going to do about _____________ (fill in the blank with some cliffhanger dilemma).”

Martial artist Jim Brault, author of several books about martial arts mindset including A PATH OF MASTERY:  Lessons on Wing Chun and Life from Sifu Francis Fong, suggests constructing a To-Worry List.

Brault says the reasoning behind constructing a To-Do List is that once you write the thing down on your list, you know you will be coming back to it and you will be addressing it so you don’t have to think about it until it’s time to do the thing.

The To-Worry List is a list of stuff you know you want or need to attend to.  These are things that you know you want to address.

They are important, but they don’t have to be done right away.  They’re the things that nudge and poke at you every once in a while or lie there waiting for you to notice them again and again and again.

The To-Worry List, he says, is a promise to yourself that you really are going to look at each issue again.  Write them down.  Let them sit.  Revisit the list and put in some time considering different approaches.

Make decisions as you figure out what you want to do as the next step to move each one forward.  Do one step and finish that step.  Keep on coming back, making decisions, do another step.

Do that often enough and your mind will begin to believe that it can let go of the worry the issue evokes.

A WORRY-FREE LIFE

My favorite take on this whole thing is this YouTube video, “The 5-Letter Secret to a Worry-Free Life” posted by Goalcast in 2017.

The video features His Grace Gaur Gopal Das, a former software engineer who became a monk, a student of the Vedas and a disciple of Radhanath Swami.

Here’s a poem.


CONTROL

Control…ummm…

What we talkin’ here?

Who is being done to?

By whom?

And who be doin’ the doin’…

Or the not-doin’.

 

Are we talking structural constraints?

Are we talking mile-high walls

And fences with concertina wire on top?

Are we talking moats?

Are we talking dead-ended cul-de-sacs

And mazes filled with man-traps

Built like cockroach motels?

Are we talking barred and shuttered windows?

Are we talking triple-padlocked gates?

Are we talking doors with twenty-seven assorted locks

Plus electronic surveillance connections

And flying spy-drones buzzing ’round?

 

Are we talking border guards and canine patrols –

Or maybe squads of trained jackals and baboons?

Are we talking shackles and chains?

Are we talking those restraining jackets and sticky stuff

They dress you in when you go mad because

There’s no place you can catch your breath

And no place you can stand up straight?

 

Are we talking economic privileges and sanctions…

A whole other can of nasty?

Are we talking societal mores and pronouncements

Set in ersatz-stone

That damn you ’cause you do

And damn you ’cause you don’t,

All of them promulgated by the fearful

Who hope to turn the Mystery into Disneyland –

Oh, of course,

“For our own protection….”

Trying really hard to shrink the infinite

Into comfortable little boxes

Available at Wal-Mart as a set of four for $5.99?

 

Are we talking mind-games?

Are we talking emotional push-buttons and whack’em down hammers

Wielded by little old blue-haired ladies in tennis shoes

And their stiff old Robber Baron honeys –

The Guardians of Propriety – in their bastions of status quo?

Are we talking poisoned slings and arrows

Shot by the stainless-steel cute crowd –

The ones with the amassed “buzz?”

Are we talking bitter, bile-laced flamethrowers

In the hands of the designated Victims of the World,

Who are on some perpetual whine or other

About how it is all Somebody Else’s fault

And how, now, THEY gotta pay?

 

Or maybe we’re talking ’bout

The prove-you-love-me moves,

The expectations and the if-then slides

From the ones in whose hands you have already placed

Your raw and bleeding heart.

 

Gee, wow.

I’m not a fan.

Does it show?

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Maui” by Francois via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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JOURNALIZE YOUR LIFE

JOURNALIZE YOUR LIFE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that “creativity” is not a talent; it is a way of operating. [The coolest thing is anybody can do it.]

I guess it’s a cliché now.  One way to enhance your creativity, they tell us, is to keep a journal.  Snuggle up with your thoughts and illuminate your feelings, write down your dreams and hunches, collect quotes from the famous and the notorious.

Spend time in your own head.  Be your own psychotherapist.  Be your own guru.  At the very least, you can be your own pen-pal.

COMMONPLACE BOOKS

Journalizing your life is part of a long, long tradition.  In Enlightenment-era Europe, during the “Age of Reason” (which most people say runs from around 1685 to 1815), it was all the rage.

The smarty pants and wise guys then all kept what they called “commonplace books.”  These were personalized encyclopedias of quotes as well as thoughts and aspirations and other bits of their own writings that scholars, amateur scientists and aspiring men of letters put together.

commonplace book detail
“Commonplace book detail” by vlasta2 via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Some folks transcribed whole gobs of books they found interesting in their commonplace books.  (One guy cobbled together parts of the Bible that made sense to him, leaving out the parts that didn’t.  This was not well-received in some circles.)

One of the leading lights of the Enlightenment movement was John Locke.  He was a systems guy and from an early age he was busy devising new systems and new ways of looking at things.

Locke developed a version of the commonplace book in 1652 (during his first year at Oxford) that was a cause for excitement among the geeks and nerds of the day.  Locke put together an elaborate system for indexing his commonplace book’s contents which made it easy for him to find passages and ideas that he wanted to revisit, review, and use.  Others followed his example.

JOURNALING TODAY

Nowadays journals come in all shapes and sizes, fancy and plain.  They’re mostly blank books that you fill in your own self.  Some are peppered with other people’s thoughts, all ready for you to use.  They’ve come to be one of the default gifts you want to give to people who are Makers (or who want to be).

You can write in them and you can turn them into sketchbooks or artsy work notepads and such.  You can even turn them into works of art.

The things are ubiquitous.  Everybody gets one at some point or other.  There are magazines, how-to videos, courses and guidebooks for making your own as well.

If you’re not particularly into deep thinking, if writing is boring for you, or if you are insecure about your art skills, receiving one of those things can precipitate a minor crisis of sorts.  (It becomes one more thing to hide under your bed or tuck behind other stuff on the shelves and ignore.)

For the people who have never been able to “finish” one of those ready-made journals, here’s a You-Tube video about WRECK THIS JOURNAL, a book put together by guerilla-artist, author, and illustrator Keri Smith.  It was published in 2012 by Penguin Books as a promotion for her book of that name.

That book took off and is the first of four volumes in a series.

Over the years, Keri Smith has made an astonishing array of books about creativity and getting your art on.  Her books include bestselling concept books like:

For many years she also maintained a popular website, Wish Jar, that is a beautifully constructed on-line journal of sorts.  It doesn’t seem to be very active these days, but the site is lovely to explore anyway.

THE JOY OF DIGITAL ARCHIVING

And that’s the other thing:  Computers can be turned into journaling tools, if that’s your bent.   You, too, can put together a digital archive.

You can fill it with all kinds of stuff:  quotes, research on specific projects, passages transcribed from articles and books, web page clippings, and random discoveries, hunches and intuitions of your own.

Some folks call clunkier, more workaday versions of these things “swipe files.”  (That term gets my back up.  It sounds like an invitation to thievery or something.)

I prefer to think of the things as a stewpot simmering away over a bunson burner or a hot plate. (Or maybe it’s a cute personal crockpot, if you’re not into minimalism.)  You can get some really good writing or art-making “stock” out of that stuff…even from the yawn-inducing junk.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I am a writer and a poet.  For me thoughts and ideas are building blocks and ingredients that can be cooked together in a variety of ways.  The thoughts you add to your archive (whether digital or paper) can add savor and flavor to your own efforts at writing or art.

Even if you fish out all the bits of meat and vegetables in a long-cooking stew, the broth holds the flavor anyhow.

Here’s a poem:


ON READING OLD JOURNALS

So…

This is what they’re for:

I wander through the pages,

Poring over the

Old maps I have drawn of

The counties of my mind.

 

I stop here and there,

Remembering the stances

I have tried that now

Lie crumpled like improbable fashion

Statements that didn’t quite work.

That mix that didn’t match…

 

Ooh!  This one’s embarrassing!

Old revelations sparkle

In the pile of dither

And the tarnished dross of

Plated costume-jewelry thoughts.

 

I see the spirals that I dance,

Around, around, around

And I have to laugh at all

The silly detours and digressions

That lead me straight back to

The core that stands there still,

Waiting….

by Netta Kanoho

Header Photo credit:  “Reflections of Maui” by Mark Faviell via Flickr [CC BY-ND-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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FARM IN THE CITY

FARM IN THE CITY

Japanese farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoda once said, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation of human beings.

THE SEED IS PLANTED

went-to-sleep
“Went to Sleep With 2 Red Pumps, Woke Up With 1” by Ted McGrath via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
In the poorest postal code in Canada, in the city of Vancouver, the old farmer’s vision has come to ground and taken root in a network of four urban farms located on five acres of reclaimed land.  They call it “SOLE Food Street Farms.”

The name is an acronym.  It arose out of a project, “Saving Our Living Environment” (SOLE), by United We Can, a Vancouver non-profit that operates a recycling program and employs street people and people from the neighborhood to clean up streets and alleys.

Until the farms were able to operate independently, they sheltered under the United We Can umbrella.

The project was spearheaded by visionary farmer and food-growing advocate, Michael Ableman (of Foxglove Farm fame), and his collaborator Seann Dory who worked for United We Can.

They put together a project that provides stable jobs and training and development for 25 people, most of whom live in the neighborhood where they work.  Together they have built an oasis of green in the middle of gray and black city hardscape.

DOWN ON THE FARM

This 2013 video, “The Story of Sole Food,” which was produced by Point Blank Creative with the support of Vancity and is available on YouTube, tells the tale:

The farms have succeeded beyond the two founders’ wildest hopes when they began reclaiming their first piece of ground in the parking lot of the Astoria hotel in Strathcona, the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver (right next door to Downtown Eastside, the poorest postal code in all of Canada.)

  • Every year the farms produce over 25 tons of fresh produce that includes tree fruit from a large urban orchard that grows in an abandoned railway yard.
  • The farms supply more than 30 area restaurants and sell at five Vancouver farmer’s markets. They operate a community-supported agriculture program as well.
  • They donate up to $20,000 work of produce every year to community kitchens.
  • Most importantly, they help their urban neighbors reconnect and re-ground themselves in the age-old cycles of life and growing that every farm honors and celebrates.

After the farm project had been going for several years, the MBA program at Queen’s University conducted research into the uber-local farming enterprise.

The guys in the lab coats figured out that for every dollar SOLE Foods spent on employing people who are “hard to employ,” there was a $1.70 combined savings to the person and the legal system, the health care system, the social assistance networks, and the environment through carbon sequestration and energy and transportation benefits.  A good return-on-investment, that.

empowering-people
“Empowering People With Urban Farming” by Province of British Columbia via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

A TRADITION RE-ITERATED

In his book, STREET FARM:  Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier, Ableman details how the dream came together.

The book is a triumphant mash-up of Ableman’s philosophy about farming as a business and a traditional craft with pictures on every page spread (many of them taken by Ableman) documenting the continuing trials and tribulations of trying to build a real farm in the middle of the big city.   The best parts of the book are the stories about the relationships that have developed between the organizers, the farm workers, their clients, and the Downtown Eastside neighborhoods where they work and live.

If you’d like more information about SOLE Food Street Farms, CLICK HERE.

At the time it began, the scale of the farms was, perhaps, unique.  It was urban agriculture, growing food on a for-real farm that was run as a business with a heavy dose of social consciousness added in.  Many of the earlier efforts by assorted city planners and developers in various cities around the world focused on garden-scale projects – urban horticulture rather than agriculture.

It isn’t a new concept, this growing food in the middle of a city.  As cities grew, the food needed to feed the people was grown all around them.  Sumerians, back in 5000 BCE, were famous for the sophisticated irrigated agriculture in and around some of the world’ earliest cities in what is now southern Iraq.

But, these ancient farmers and all of their descendants in the long history of agriculture did not have farms built on top of pavement covering over the contaminated soil between buildings in the remains of demolished factories and other urban ruins. This is what makes these street farms so remarkable.  What makes them even more remarkable are the number of lives they have touched and the ones they have helped to nurture, heal and rebuild.

Michael Abelman says that SOLE Food Street Farms is “based on the belief that the simple act of planting a seed can bring new life to the world.”

[Amen to that one, braddah.]

“Sunrise at Mt. Haleakala” by D. A. Lewis via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a tendency to build bridges between your world and other people’s worlds.  [Foot-traffic on all the bridges you build brings many treasures into your world.]

Here’s a poem:


YOUNG TREE

Young tree in the ground

Started as a seed

Buried in the dark, rich,

Warm earth.

 

Slowly it split apart,

Shoot seeking the light,

Pushing against the cradling earth,

Slowly, slowly.

 

It reaches up into the light,

Day by day by day….

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “The Hidden Radish” by Steph L via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

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SHUSH — Another Inner Peace Symptom

SHUSH — Another Inner Peace Symptom

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a disinclination to endlessly discuss your plans and dreams.  [Every time you talk about a dream, a little bit of the energy powering that dream leaks out.  It’s kind of like letting the air out of a filled balloon to make farting noises.  After a while all the gas is gone and the balloon won’t rise.]

‘Kay.  There you are with this HUGE idea…the Biggest of the Big.  It is definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, going to be a killer!

You just have to share, right?  After all, ideas don’t live in a vacuum.  They need to be watered and fertilized, cultivated and encouraged to grow until hey-ho they bloom!  All of that.

Who better to help you lift that bale and tote that bucket than your nearest and dearest friend or two or ten or, hey…why not hundreds or thousands?

big-day-out
“Big Day Out” by Eva Rinaldi via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

CHAMPION OF THE DREAM

So you pump yourself up and you spread the word.  You are gonna do this and you’re gonna do that and you’re gonna and gonna and gonna….buzzity, buzzity, buzz, buzz, buzz.   It’s all very exciting, that.

You get so into talking about that Dream that you really feel like your words are manifesting the thing out of the ethers.  You are the self-appointed Champion of the Dream.  Yup!  You’re keeping it alive.

champ
“champ” by kurge via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
That gush of words and words and words building the excitement up and up is bringing the Dream that much closer, right?  Ummm…not really.  “The Dream” actually becomes what one group of guys and gals in lab coats call an “identity symbol” in your brain.  Its function is to make your self-image seem real.

Since both actions and talk can create these symbols in your brain, talking satisfies the brain enough that it may “neglect the pursuit of further symbols” (like actually taking action), according to NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer who has been studying this since his now out-of-print 1982 book, SYMBOLIC SELF-COMPLETION.

In a study published in Psychological Science magazine in 2009, the professor and his research team announced that they had figured out that if you tell your goal and the people you tell cheer and celebrate or applaud you as if you actually did something, then your brain will think that you already did it.

The acknowledgement becomes part of your “social reality,” and may actually provide your brain with enough satisfaction that you don’t feel you have to do anything else.(Why would your brain want to bother with doing it for real?  It’s convinced that the thing is done already!  You’ve already won the prize.)

The researchers did find one interesting side effect of this phenomenon.   They say you actually are more likely to go forward with your goal or dream if the people around you ignore you when you tell them what you want to do.

Just because you’re a contrary human being (like the rest of us), when you are ignored, it becomes a part of your determination to “show” all those unappreciative, short-sighted ding-a-lings that you really are capable of doing what you say you want to do.

LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS…TORPEDOS NOT NEEDED

Check out this podcast published by the TEDTalks organization on YouTube featuring dream-building master Derek Sivers, author of ANYTHING YOU WANT:  40 Lessons For a New Kind of Entrepreneur.

In this short talk, he admonishes, “Keep your goals to yourself.

There may also be a number of practical and psychological arguments for keeping mum.

  • If you tell someone your goal, the resulting attention can then increase the pressure on you in a negative way. The pressure to perform is likely to raise your anxiety levels to new heights.

This may not be helpful when the goal requires that you remain calm and composed.  (You may not want an audience or a cheerleading section when you’re taking a driving test for the first time, for example.)

  • Sometimes, when you tell people your goals, they may tend to use the knowledge as a lens for judging your future actions. They see your actions and compare them to what you said were your goals.

This can work out well if you’ve agreed to accept their holding you “accountable” for your goals – if you ask them to support you and help keep you on track.  The thing is, it does depend on how skillful they are at doing that, and whether you are actually good at accepting guidance without balking.

But, if you are prone to resent being “pressured” into doing anything (even if you ask for this help) or if the other person is less than tactful in their approach, any “helpful” commentary might actually feel like an attack or “nagging” to you.  This might cause you to move in a different direction than the one that gets you to your goal.  Not good.

  • Sometimes your idea is just too fragile and new to bear the touch of other people’s minds. Sometimes your dream has to be protected from rough handling and premature dissection. It’s a newborn, after all.  You’re not supposed to play football with it.

A lot of very good ideas have died horrible deaths because other people couldn’t keep their mouths off it.    Often it’s better to wait until your vision has evolved and grown a bit before allowing other people to put in their two cents.  A bit of voluntary, self-induced deafness might also be in order at the beginning.

The Real is:  it’s all a dance and you will react to other people’s reactions.  Sometimes it feels like you’re the little ball zooming around in the pinball machine.

pinball-bumpers
“Pinball Bumpers” by Tom Rolfe via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

FINAL THOUGHTS

The next time you’re tempted to share your latest Big Dream, STOP.

shhhh
“Shhh” by Sonny Abesamis via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Go think about how you can make your Big Dream become real.  Then go try a little something that moves the process forward.  Little step by little step by little step.

Ask questions.  Resolve the problems you encounter along the way and pick other people’s brains about solutions to try.  Think and do, do and think.  Ask for help with the how of it all from people who actually know something about it.

When you have made some substantial progress at learning the basics of a new skill or have made a good start at some life-change, or, better yet, when you have a sort-of-working prototype, that’s when you’ll have something.

Share that…but only in a way that doesn’t cause others to do a victory dance for you.  (You don’t want that brain of yours to get too complacent.)  Then go back to making your dream happen.

Yeah, it’s not so fun, but it does work better.

Here’s a poem:


YEAH, YEAH, YEAH

I’ve heard these promises before, you know.

Oh, yeah…for real…that’s right.

 

Any day now,

Some day soon,

The sun’s gonna shine, shine, shine.

 

And I have waited for that dawning,

Waited for that glow that grows,

Waited…waited…waited.

 

I’ll get right on it.

Yes, I’m gonna do it.

It’s a-comin’, yes it is.

 

But all my waiting with bated breath

Just got me blue in the face,

Anticipation turning to sour disappointment.

Gonna happen,

Yes, indeedy,

Soon now; really, really soon.

 

Braddah-man, lady-sistah,

Your mouth moving but not your hands.

Your feet not walking, you only got plans.

 

No can, li’ dis!

 

The cold wind’s blowing up past my ass,

And I already know the end of this story.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Drifting Away” by Chris Chabot via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for the visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

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