Things that we don’t talk enough about at the dinner table

Science and religion tell the same stories in two different languages.

Science is great at understanding the what and the how while religion is significant in understanding our why. Together, they can help us in our search for truth. Yet, there is so much conflict that arises when someone disagrees with our believe system.


We are afraid of being wrong. That if we are wrong it could shake the very foundation of who we are. So we will dig deeper in our trenches, designate sides and when something conflates with our worldview, we ignore it or mock it.

There is an alternative. I think it is okay to say, “We don’t know the answer, but this is how we best understand our world right now.”

Incompatibility–the stuff we don’t agree with outsiders–is only the tip of the iceberg. What we have in common with each other runs so much deeper than what we can see. It is where dialogue and friendship and connection can start.

It’s not a millennial problem

It is a culture problem.

It is culture that pushes to do things one way or another.

It is cultures that teaches us how to dress, how to act, how to speak.

If someone doesn’t teach us then culture will.

Culture reinforces the status-quo, how to fit in and not stand out.

Culture isn’t going to teach us to reach higher or to leap or to do something bold and daring.

Culture doesn’t teach us to try something new for the first time.

The first to fixing the culture is shedding the labels and biases and prejudices that the culture has taught us to believe.

Do you have the guts to change your mind–to see someone for who they really are?

Professionals and amateurs

Professionals work, regardless if they are in the mood.
Amateurs need motivation to get started.

Professionals say no to jobs that don’t bring them closer to the top.
Amateurs say yes because it was asked of them.

Professionals have guts. Guts to stick with a less desirable job in order to do their art.
Amateurs don’t have it.

Professionals are doing something to make things better.
Amateurs whine, moan and complain about their situation.

Professionals get paid–it is their livelihood.
Amateurs do it for sport.

Professionals finish and then start again.
Amateurs move from one project to the next without shipping.

Professionals work around the clock.
Amateur leave at 5’o clock.

Professionals know that talent is a myth.
Amateurs never recognize they are made of the same stuff as Professionals.

Speaking of which, Professionals develop skills through habit. Habits are learned.
Amateurs look for the short cut.

Professionals don’t believe in writer’s block.
Amateurs make up excuses. (Is talker’s block a thing?)

Professionals make better art and make better art.
Amateurs are discouraged that their best work isn’t good enough.

Professionals learn to dance with the fear because it will never go away.
Amateurs let the amygdala run their life.

Professional recognize that their work isn’t for everybody, it is for somebody.
Amateurs dumb down the work for the masses.

Professional write.
Amateurs tweet.

Professionals are artists.
Amateurs are amateurs.

Professionals start as Amateurs but they evolve.
Amateurs do the same thing they did yesterday.

Professionals challenge the status-quo.
Amateurs wait for step-by-step instructions. They need be told what to do next.

Professionals take responsibility.
Amateurs don’t know how to embrace the failures of their team.

Professionals follow a compass.
Amateurs follow the map.

Professionals figure out how to ship their work.
Amateurs make it 99.9% of the way and quit when it really counts.

What right do we have to be depressed?

With those with access to abundance–technology, food and clean water, a warm bed–how does anyone have the right to be depressed?

And I think the answer lies in the fact that while prosperity can pull us out of poverty, it doesn’t fulfill us.

Because money is a story. It is a number on a screen. It is easy to seduce ourselves into thinking that when the digital number goes up our level of happiness will rise with it.

Because the never-ending cycle of accumulation is actually never-ending.

Because wants can’t replace what we really need.

I think what’s scarce going forward is connection. It is connecting with a product, good, service, cause, or most importantly, another human that we are desperately seeking to make.


Coined by the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger.

It is defined as “being in the world“, being there, existing with one another, awareness. It can’t be evaluated until it’s over.

But it is becoming increasingly difficult to be in the world filled with noise and negative self-talk.

So the alternative I think is to not be in the world but to be of the world.

That space is worth achieving.

The well of excuses

It will never be the perfect time to make a ruckus, you will never have enough money or be in the right mood or feel good enough, there is never enough reassurance, market conditions won’t be perfect and shame and fear will never go away–because the well of excuses will never dry up.

What we need then is to decide. Decide what it is we can change.

At first, you may do it wrong. At least you are doing it. Now that you are doing, you can get better and set new habits.

Despite all the excuses, we do.

No fear

Don’t wait for the moment to come where fear will go away.

Because it is never going to happen.

Better to start. As the tension builds, gradually, we will find the quiet courage and confidence to venture further into the void.

With fear. Never without. (It’s a more accurate t-shirt.)

A blessing in disguise?

Blessings are not hiding in the shadows. They don’t conceal themselves from us.

No, most of the time they’re in plain sight–in the form of opportunities waiting to be seen and to be welcomed.

Too often though we pass them by, lacking the courage to embrace them or worse not feeling we are good enough to deserve them.

Gratitude is a skill. It is a posture. It is in every breath we take. No one is born with gratitude. It is something we develop.

(Just because we can’t see oxygen doesn’t mean it isn’t there.)

“The more pleasure you seek the more unhappy you get”

We are the most in debt, the most obese, the most medicated and the most drugged up adult population in human history.


Because the culture seeks pleasure over happiness. Dr. Robert Lustig has pointed out seven differences between the two:

  1. Pleasure is short-lived.
    Happiness is long-lived.
  2. Pleasure is visceral.
    Happiness is ethereal.
  3. Pleasure is taking.
    Happiness is giving.
  4. Pleasure can be achieved with substances.
    Happiness cannot be achieved with substances.
  5. Pleasure is experienced alone.
    Happiness is experienced in social groups.
  6. The extremes of pleasure all lead to substance or behavioral addiction.
    There is no such thing as being addictive to too much happiness.
  7. Pleasure is dopamine.
    Happiness is serotonin.
    (These are two types of biochemicals / neurotransmitters that the brain makes to communicate between one neuron brain cell and another.)

Pleasure is what our culture is hooked on, always in search for bigger hits:

  • “Would you like fries with that?”
  • “The next big thing is here.”
  • “Open happiness.”

No matter how much we try pleasure is no substitute for happiness. We can’t seduce ourselves to believe happiness can be bought or manufactured.

Connection, love, generosity, contribution, making a difference…these are the things that lead to a life of happiness. Not so much what you get but what you can give.

(Check out the first five minutes of Dr. Robert Lustig’s interview and Simon Sinek’s take on dopamine.)

We can’t stay where we are

We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable.” – White Star Line Vice President P.A.S. Franklin

As news broke that Titanic was in trouble, there were many that refused to believe that it was impossible for a boat with 70,000 tons of steel could ever sink.

Of course, we were wrong. And of course, many died that didn’t need to.

Thomas Andrews, the architect of the Titanic, knew that after four compartments were filled with water the ship would inevitably sink. When he saw five were gone, he didn’t try to bargain or deflect responsibility or even complain about his circumstances. No, he knew he had to make a decision because he couldn’t stay where he was.

Many lives were saved because of Thomas Andrews heroic efforts and many were lost (including his) because of the hubris of man.

Andrews suggested that the Titanic should carry 46 lifeboats but it was rejected. Only 20 were ever put on board. Why? Because if you believed the boat was unsinkable then you wouldn’t need life boats.

There are those out there that refuse to change their minds in the face of truth. On a sinking ship, the status-quo is no longer good enough. We don’t get to choose to stay where we are or keep things the same.