“Bad” kids

They haven’t failed us. We have failed them.

Time and time again, I witness the transformation of teens after just two short months when they are given a safe space to be. It’s not rocket science but when someone believes in us and sees our potential, we can’t help but want to step up.

“Worry no more. There’s an open door for you.” – Amos Lee

Vain

No one thinks that brushing one’s teeth is vain. It’s just good hygiene. Most agree that braces would also be an acceptable thing to do in our culture today. Some people think elective surgery is vain unless someone is recovering from breast cancer. Yet, working out isn’t seen as vain unless you are building your muscles excessively large. Then again, if you are an athlete, culturally speaking, you get a pass.

Vain has funky standards. An invisible line we draw. And yet…

Vanity is something that happens in our heads. If we do something to feed our obsessive high opinion of ourselves, clearly that is vain. We assume people are vain because of the story we are telling ourselves. Because we can never actually know what is going in, what the voice in their head is saying.

All we know is what we assume.

Keystone habits

It’s the first domino to drop that leads to a whole slew of other habits.

It’s setting the alarm every morning at 6 am to start your run.

It’s sitting down every day at sunset to write a blog.

Habits are built on top of other habits. It’s worth examining which habits trigger a bunch more desired behavior and then figuring out how to turn up the dials.

When decisions feel heavy

The more limited your choices are, the more critical they become. Because an error feels more devastating when you look around and your back is against the wall.

Alas, your choices are limited by the boundaries based on the conditions we are in.

No one will argue that making three dollars a day limits much of what someone can do with their time and resources. By contrast, if you are watching Netflix one hour per day, you have more choices than you think the conditions allow.

Whether you are mindful or not, time is being consumed. It may be easier to start when you are further along in your journey. But that’s probably a lie you’re telling yourself too. Simply begin. Make a difficult choice that you have been delaying. Go for it and see what happens next.

Destructive feedback loops

It is said that Darius the Great charged one of his servants to repeat to him multiple times a day, “Master, remember the Athenians.”

A constant reminder of his enemies.

I’m afraid social media gives us the same reminders.

Categories within categories

We use big, broad strokes to put people, ideas and things into categories.

Black/white, gay/straight, rich/poor, disabled/able-bodied.

Yet, any category can be broken down further.

Immigrant, cisgender, bankrupt.

Keep going…

60% African/40% European, celibate, parapelgic, diabetic, IQ of 145.

Every label is used to define what we think is “normal.” Except there is no normal. Attributes are relative and not absolute.

By “normalizing” everything and everyone, we avoid using brainpower to evaluate. Instead, we make snap judgments of how we interpret the world around us.

Indeed, labels influence our judgment and how we decide who gets the benefit of the doubt. Inevitably fueling context. Our culture for too long has thrown people into categories and has treated them less than equal. Perhaps, it’s possible then, with enough attention, we can zero in these categories further and we will no longer overgeneralize large segments of the population based on what we see.

To label is to distinguish it from something else. Think about it.

Becoming

All that it takes to become a guitarist is to start making music.

It’s the same in every category.

Start doing the work and you are now that thing you want to be.

Do it every day and you are on your way to mastering your tools of choice.

Limits are exaggerated

Perhaps the greatest trap we fall into with the categories we create is the lack of resources.

Ironic if you think about it.

We are so rigid in creating so few categories of how we make sense of the world that we are then surprised when we lump everything into them then look around and see so few options left.

The world has so many possibilities. Unlimited. Our brains work overtime to simplify it.

Guitar playing

I’ve started playing guitar again. It’s been ten years.

No dreams of being a rock star or making money with it.

I’m playing for the joy of it.

We do all sorts of things for joy. But somehow as we get older we quit doing new things because of all the time spent failing at the beginning.

Don’t rush the journey

I watch one sports team–the Phoenix Suns. I’ve been watching for as long as I can remember. They also have never won a championship. Last season they came within two games of winning it all.

Here’s the thing: You can’t rush the experience. I didn’t sign up to watch a team that has a long history of winning titles. I signed up for a novel, not a short story.

There’s a metaphor here:

Are you rushing to get things done or are you trying to get to the good part?

Are you trying to ease the tension or increase it?