Facebook flow

Is fake.

Real flow, first coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is simply where abilities meet challenge. The blissful mental state of being fully immersed where time can feel suspended.

To experience flow, one must concentrate, be in control and emerged in action, lose self-consciousness and time, and finally, receive some kind of intrinsic award.

What we can see now is companies like Facebook working overtime to manufacture flow. It gives us a false sense of total control with what you can click or scroll but in reality you are limited to what Facebook decides to show on your feed. Click bait pulls us in and we lose ourselves and time. Finally, there are awards that feel intrinsic–a shot of dopamine with every thumbs up.

It’s clear, we are no longer the customers of social media. We are their products.

Facebook and other social media outlets are intentionally designed to keep us coming back for more. The thing is true flow cannot be manufactured. You can’t substitute the real thing–the moment of being lost in your art or skiing down a mountain or playing in a symphony.

Facebook flow, on the other hand, distracts us and keeps us from doing work that brings meaning to our lives.

Ants don’t wander aimlessly

Ants achieve much with a small bit of communication. They build hills, find food and protect their queen. They can remind each other that they are not alone, that they have a job to do.

There is just enough communication to keep them from being lost.

Even with a shed of light, ants know what to do next. They don’t wander aimlessly. Neither should you. You can be a wandering generality or a meaningful specific.

Write every day

I don’t receive inspiration and then write.

No, I write and then I receive inspiration.

The Muse doesn’t reward the artist sitting around waiting to be told what to write next.

Artist are explorers, finding a new path through the unknown. From time to time, a shed of light is found in that darkness.

Of course, you’re not very good when you start. Neither was Whitman, Hemingway or King.

The first draft is always terrible. Once you’ve sat down and typed something, now you can go back and make it better.

Putting pen to paper is the first and hardest step to take. One that artists choose to make every day.

But vs and

But creates tension. Not the good kind of tension of putting something together that might not work. No, the kind of tension that excludes and dismisses how others perceive the world.

On the other hand, And brings two separate ideas together equally. And invites a world of possibility and creates opportunity.

“I know you are working late in the evenings but I need help with the kids.”

“I know you are working late in the evenings and I need help with the kids.”

“We need to visit your mother for Christmas but the bills are piling up.”

“We need to visit your mother for Christmas and the bills are piling up.”

“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings but I am under a lot of pressure.”

“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings and I am under a lot of pressure.”

Making the switch from But to And can make a world of difference in bridging the gap of what we say and what we actually mean.

The gift that keeps on giving

For 20 bucks, a book can change someone’s life. What a bargain to have something year around to remind us of who we were and what we have become. If you are looking for last-minute gift ideas that are thoughtful and meaningful, here is a list of…

Books that will get you to think differently: Irresistible, Design of Everyday Things, Misbehaving, Persuadable, Master Switch, Whiplash, Coaching Habit, Illuminate, Do the Work, GEB, Rock Warrior’s Way, Self Reliance, Walden, Debt, Only Investment Guide, Blue Sweater, Linchpin

Books that will make you laugh and cry: Bride Stripped Bare, Little Brother, Windup Girl, Million Miles, On the Road

Books that are essential, ones worth reading and re-reading over and over again: War of Art, Art of Possibility, The Gift, Infinite Game, Your Turn, Start with Why

Ignore loon noises

In Canada, you can find a skittish bird called the loon. The interesting thing about loons is that they will find a mate for life and they only want to be on a lake alone together. If another set of loons shows up, they will leave.

If you were to take a set of speakers and made loon calls with them, eventually the loons occupying the lake will leave in fear of their safety.

Of course, the loons are wrong. There is no real danger.

If you look at human behavior, we often make decisions based on our fears. We don’t see that the loon noises around the corner are fake. We fear the worst that something out there is trying to kill us.

For thousands of years, we had to rely on these instincts. A branch snapping could mean a bear was ready to pounce us. Most of us don’t have to worry about bears chasing us anymore. Yet, we let these fears continue to drive our decision-making every day.

Today, we have metaphorical bears that we continue to worry about–consumer debts, health insurance, mortgage payments. None of these things are deadly. None of them are trying to eat us. Sure, it is stressful. We live in a stressful world. It is stressful to think we are behind in our retirement. And it is stressful to feel that we can never pay off a mountain of debt. It is stressful to think how we are going to help our kids through college.

Except 200 years ago, a drought could mean we were going to starve. And hospitals were not to be found when we were sick or injured. Access to clean water was a chore. So was bathing and washing clothes. It was difficult to keep your house warm in the winter. You only owned one set of clothes and shoes. There was no such thing as the internet.

It is stressful to not have any choices and it is stressful to make choices. We have never had more choices to choose from in the entire history of the world. 

The world will never be completely save for any of us. None of us are going to make it out of here alive. Despite the loon noises, it is the safest it has ever been. We don’t need to carry the same weight our ancestors did. We don’t. It’s a choice.