Present an alternate story

Over the years I have spoken to many parents in tears about the difficult situation their child is in. And I always remind them that there is another story to tell here. One about hope. We all need to be reminded, especially when we are struggling with tunnel vision, that the universe doesn’t go out of its way to play out the worst-case scenarios we have envisioned. Things are usually not as bad as we think they are. We are usually emotionally tired and need to step back to clearly see the road ahead and not just the speed bump we hit.

In control or feel in control?

People feel powerful telling others what to do. Like the bad boss asking their staff to come in on a Saturday to work on TPS Reports. We do this because we feel in control. But we are not actually in control of anything. The Earth is spinning at about 1,000 miles per hour, how much power do we really have?

The answer to me is less than we think but more than we realize. The less in control we feel the more we pretend to exercise it.

Pattern recognition

We are very good at recognizing the road we take to work each day. Behaviors are much easier to identify since we see them.

However…

We are not so good at recognizing our own thought patterns. They can be hypnotic to the point where we daydream. “Wait did I just pass through a red light?” We don’t seem to have any control over them. (Don’t think of an elephant.) They are a force that is constant. So incessant that at times we have to just tune it out.

Thoughts are indeed random. One moment you are thinking about the task at hand and the next you are thinking about what is for dinner tonight. Unlike a city block that rarely changes, the landscape of our thoughts is always altering. When we learn we also evolve. We can recognize the behaviors of others and ourselves when we learn to see the world through a different lens.

Perhaps it is a foolish pursuit to find a pattern in something so spontaneous. Like most things, if we want to see where these thoughts take us we must first be mindful of what is happening.

The bottom line: thoughts are static. The noise in all our heads will often get in the way of the things we want to accomplish. We must recognize…

Everyone’s noise is different.

The world’s most unrewarding games

Chasing a digital number on a screen.

Market share.

Status.

Popularity.

Thumb’s ups.

Sponsorships.

A letter grade.

A number on a scale.

Title.

Most of these games we play because they are extremely easy to measure. When they go up, we usually are not satisfied because the number can always be “better.”

Numbers are a unit of measure to tell a story. Not a measure of happiness.

It feels oh-so industrial to quantify happiness into metrics that can be analyzed.

Following the follower

Most of us are following someone. Our parents, a boss or mentor, a hero, a celebrity, or the many others that have walked the path before us. Yet, we don’t even realize it because the path is so new to us.

The person you are following is likely following someone else and it may take you to places you don’t actually want to go.

Think about it.

Fairy tales and the world around us

Most of us eventually figure out that Santa Clause is not real. We do this by slowly putting together the pieces of how it would be impossible to travel the world and serve every child. We deduce that it just isn’t possible. We can’t find him, therefore, he must not be real. Yet, those who continue to believe still haven’t seen the real Santa. They are chasing a feeling.

That feeling of belief is important to all of us. To believe in a better world is a feeling. To believe in community, equality, civility, connection–all feelings of beliefs–since we can’t touch it or see it.

Believing can sometimes ignore the facts. While important, however, we can’t ignore what the data is saying when it contradicts our belief system. That intersection of tension is a hurdle to overcome because often they are not compatible with each other. Yet, our beliefs inform so much of the decisions we make to build the world as we see it.

Getting creative

What is that? What does it mean to be creative?

To me, it is a process of putting pen to paper. In other words, doing the work. Not sitting around, hemming and hawing. Not bargaining with the lizard brain to get in the mood.

It is simply working. And when it is over, then we say, “That was creative.” Not before.

Dropping the ball

We notice when someone misses a deadline or is late for an appointment. We create social contracts, invisible agreements with only our word that we will deliver.

What we don’t see is what is happening behind the scenes.

Someone working multiple jobs to get ahead, relationship struggles, debt, opportunity, belief in oneself–we only assume.

My theory is we assume the worst out of people when it is more inconvenient on our part. Meaning it is easy to be compassionate towards others when it doesn’t directly affect us. Much harder to give the benefit of the doubt to someone when we feel the discomfort of someone dropping the ball.

Planting seeds

When we plant a seed, we have to nurture it for it to grow. And over time, with some luck, you get a tree. A tree that you may never get to enjoy. That to me is against so much of our natural instincts. To do something in the long run that has nothing to do with me.

There’s nothing more satisfying in my opinion. Doing something that goes unnoticed by the masses but perhaps changes the course for the few who choose to pay attention to what is happening.

Dreams and desires

They are not always in sync. Desires get in the way of our dreams all the time. We envision how the world and ourselves should look. And the conflict gets worse when we feel further from our dreams from where we started. Marshmallows are everywhere and how we are able to deal with that tension of denying something now for something better tomorrow is indeed one of the challenges of our times.