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Daily, snackable writings and podcasts to spur changes in thinking. Why?

If we wish to change the person we find ourselves to be, we must change our thinking.

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RATTLE THE CAGE

March 30th, 2020

 

Everything that drives you is stuck in a cage.  That cage is you.  Every desire, hope, dream, curiosity, ponderance, hypothesis, question and inkling is stuck inside of your mind. 

 

But they all obey a certain law of hunger, that is: if you feed something it grows.  If you starve something, the hunger eventually dies.

 

This applies literally and across the board.  Our well-fed modern society is almost universally ignorant of the fact that physical hunger – that is for food – drastically vanishes after a few days of fasting that are undertaken with a basic mineral supplementation. 

 

This connection between fasting or abstinence and the decline of hunger or desire carries to many other arenas.

 

Children are naturally quite curious, so what happens to all the adults they become?  The curiosity is starved, and eventually, it goes quiet.

 

Hunger goes away if you don’t feed it. Notice how many different areas this applies to: Fasting Goals Addiction Curiosity Relationships Learning.

 

Now think of this in the reverse.  What we feed or don’t feed follows the same pattern of a vicious or virtuous cycle.  What is fed grows and grows the more it’s fed.  We can quite literally see this with obesity or with the extremes of any kind of addiction.  We are prone to notice the negative here.  The extreme examples that are obvious are negative, and the examples of the opposite that are obvious are also likewise negative: curiosity is killed off in most people, and we grow lazy with our learning and relationships.

 

But we can swap the extreme to the positive, by starving those things in us that don’t serve us (i.e. an addiction) and feeding the good, like curiosity.

 

A well fed addiction is like a dangerous animal in a flimsy cage.

 

A well fed curiosity is like an energizer bunny generating power with a running wheel.

 

One can help you keep the lights on.

 

The other might destroy you.

 

This image of the cage is a way of figuring out what is driving you, and what you’d rather have driving you, if you don’t like the answer.

 

A well fed curiosity or habit of learning will wake you up in the morning and get you going on the things that are actually fulfilling.  But if you’ve got other things rattling your cage, how can you expect that the person you’ll be tomorrow or next week or next year will get up and get going at the things that will make life interesting?

 

One further point is to realize that all of these things that drive you, for good or bad are all stuck in the same cage together.  Whatever is weak cowers before the strong which uses it’s strength to horde your attention and get fed first, and most, leaving the neglected to die a little more.

 

Change, involves a difficult and mindful assessment of the situation, and then confronting the fear that some well fed addiction won’t bite you as you push it aside to feed that dying flame of curiosity deep within you.

 


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Podcast Ep. 715: Rattle the Cage

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Tinkered Thinking


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A LUCILIUS PARABLE: GREEN

March 29th, 2020

 

Lucilius was bent forward at his desk, typing furiously in pauses.  Scanning lines of code before typing more.  Then his hands danced in a well practiced rhythm of steps across the keyboard to initiate a program.  It worked, and Lucilius sat back in relief and splendid celebration.  The project was done, complete.  Tomorrow it would go live, but the work was done and now It was time to celebrate. 

 

Lucilius flipped open the door of a mini fridge a pulled out a frosty bottle of champagne.  He took a picture of it and then texted the photo to a bunch of friends.

 

About to open this.  Meet at my place.  It read.

 

It was a short walk home and on the way he picked up more booze.  More champagne and whisky and wine.  When he got to his apartment building there were already a few friends gathered outside waiting for him.  They all cheered when they saw him and Lucilius raised his arms, bottle and bags in hand, taking in the good vibe. 

 

He didn’t even wait to get upstairs as a few more friends whistled from down the street and hurried to join the little crowd.  Lucilius put down the bag of booze and unwound the cork cage on the champagne.  A light shake and the pop sent everyone into a new round of cheers as Lucilius sprayed the wine high, splashing his own face.  He drank some and then handed it off to be passed around as he caught the door from a smiling neighbor leaving the building.  The small band began singing as they followed Lucilius up the stairs where the party grew and raged through the entire night.  They even managed to get a few police officers drunk who had been called to investigate the noise.

 

All in all, it was a spectacular night.

 

The next day, when Lucilius finally made it back to his little office space, he noticed the power cord for his laptop on the ground.  He picked it up and plugged it into his computer, which had died.

 

He powered it back up, and realized only then that he had not backed up any of his work.  But that wasn’t an issue, as Lucilius had built a program to automatically push changes after a certain time interval.  It was no problem. 

 

He logged into the back-up source to retrieve all the work and found that the project was completely gone.  He would later discover that his program that automatically backs up work had been cut short by the laptop’s dying battery between the moment when the original is replaced with the new version of work.  All in all, he now had nothing.

 

 


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Podcast Ep. 714: A Lucilius Parable: Green

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Tinkered Thinking


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UNPRECEDENTED

March 28th, 2020

 

 

The future is unprecedented, by default. 

 

Our normal way of preparing for tomorrow is by looking at yesterday and today and assuming that tomorrow is going to be a simple repetition that involves aspects of the two.   For the majority of tomorrows, this strategy is ok, but as per the future, a tomorrow is going to come along that looks unlike anything in the past that we’ve yet seen.  Many people are cluing into this subtle fact.

 

On aspect of the unprecedented event is that it forces us to set new precedents.  Not only is the novel event a new precedent, but it evokes a new response from us.  This response becomes the new default for this kind of event.

 

Unless, of course, we learn from our original mistake, which was to assume that the future is going to be like the past.  The fact that our response has to change in the first place to some new event should make it obvious that our inability or unwillingness to overreact in the past has left us vulnerable to an unprecedented tomorrow.

 

The lesson is simple: any new precedents we set should be overreactions by design, because we are not simply trying to solve the current problem, we are using the current problem as inspiration to imagine something much more difficult.  If the precedents we set are overreactions to the current issue then we have a chance to be more prepared for the future.

 

This applies to just about every level of systems we can think of.  Whether that be a global response, or a local one, or even on a family level and even on an individual level.

 

Tragedy is possible in each of these arenas.  Our response determines the level of our adaptation, and our ability to adapt is everything.  But there comes a point when the unprecedented is of such a level of impact that no degree of adaptation can get us out of the situation. . .

 

unless of course we had the foresight and the courage to imagine it, and prepare for something that might always remain a fiction.

 

 

 


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Podcast Ep. 713: Unprecedented

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Tinkered Thinking


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DARK SIDE OF SOLITUDE

March 27th, 2020

 

 Solitary confinement is our most severe form of incarceration.  We lock people in a room all alone.  This is apparently worse than being amongst the other people who are also in prison.  And yet, some people, love solitude.

 

The French philosopher Pascal once wrote that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”  There’s certainly a good deal of obvious truth to this statement, but what about the other side of it?  What’s going on with the people who covet and adore their solitude?  Do these people have something figured out?

 

Perhaps, but if a person seeks solitude as voraciously as another eschews it, then there is likely something equally amiss. 

 

Those who do everything in their power to keep from being alone are clearly avoiding that experience of being left alone with their thoughts.  We must ask: is the person seeking solitude avoiding something similar?

 

If the entire world suddenly fell under the spell of Pascal’s wisdom and suddenly sought to spend more and more of their time alone with their own thoughts, it would have huge repercussions.  As a species we are successful, indeed, we are the strangest, most innovative and interesting thing to pop up on this planet because of our ability to cooperate. 

 

Cheetah’s can’t be said to get much done, as they only spend a couple days in company during the whole year.  While we might celebrate the animal as a prime example of solitude, we certainly can’t count on such an animal to get much done in a group activity.

 

If the extrovert – for lack of a better word, is avoiding their own thoughts with gregariousness, then perhaps the introvert is –in part – avoiding the thoughts of others with solitude.

 

We are told not to care about the opinions of others, but when it comes to group settings and collaboration, being able to have a finely tuned idea of what other people are thinking is key.  Our wise adage is at odds with the practice of our progress.  The one who seeks solitude may in fact suffer from the exact inverse of the problem that Pascal points at.  The introvert – in many instances – is likely to be so sensitive to the workings of someone else’s thoughts, or merely even an idea of it, that their usual manner of thought is completely snuffed out.  This is dark side of solitude.  While time alone is replete with benefits that should be explored, it can be a crutch, one used to avoid the balance missing from social situations. 

 

Giving up control can be a relief or a terror depending on the person.  The extrovert who gives up their attention to the group gives up control for some relief here.  Whereas the introvert can suffer from such an admission. 

 

Health, once again resides in a paradox.  Just as we can’t live in the moment at the expense of the future, nor do the opposite by constantly planning for the future while missing the present, we must do both.  The paradox for the lover of solitude is to develop both the ability to maintain solitude in the company of others while being open to relinquishing attention to the minds of others.  This isn’t so much like balancing on a tightrope as it is trying to light an ice cube on fire.  It is a paradox, and both sides of the equation cannot each take half of the spotlight.  Health is a transmission of adaptation, full of gears that all must be kept well oiled so that when the moment arises, we can fall into the right one and be at peace with our circumstances. 

 

 

 


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Podcast Ep. 712: Dark Side of Solitude

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Tinkered Thinking


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SEED OF CURIOSITY

March 26th, 2020

 

Are you ever curious when you are stressed?  The two don’t seem to sound good together.  ‘Desperate to find a solution’ might be the closest thing we experience when stressed.

 

It doesn’t take much experience, thinking or research to realize that prolonged stress severely limits our more creative faculties.  Robert Sapolsky has made a tour de force effort in his books “Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers” and “Behave” to explain the underlying neuroscience of stress and how it inhibits creativity and decision making abilities.

 

We can, on the other hand think of curiosity as having prerequisites, somewhat like a seed.  A seed requires certain conditions to activate.  It needs some moisture, some heat, and after it cracks itself open, it needs some soil, nutrients, and oxygen, and eventually, sunlight.  All told, a seed has quite a few prerequisites that need to be filled before it does it’s trick.

 

Curiosity is no different.  With stress and worry in the picture, curiosity keeps to itself.  With a busy schedule, curiosity stands by, letting you do your thing.  Trauma, tragedy, drama, desperation… all of these keep that shy character out of the picture.

 

Curiosity is like that great teacher, who smiles on our fumbling, but does not instruct.  Who waits patiently, perhaps even forever, without talking loudly, only occasionally pointing at something when we look its way.  It does not lead, but ventures with us, when we make the time.  It’s the teacher that smiles softly, and speaks even softer, speaking only in questions.


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Podcast Ep. 711: Seed of Curiosity

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Tinkered Thinking


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Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.