“If I had a million dollars”

I was recently asked what I would do if I were handed a check and could retire today.

I would spend my time with my family and friends, go on trips, read and write, go skiing, cook dinner, work on Pivot Adventure, solving the problem of teen suicide and perhaps start another nonprofit.

The thing is, I do all those activities already. Sure if I had a few million dollars I might do them more. It was a reminder that you don’t need to be rich to do the things you love. We just think we do.

Obviously, this doesn’t work for everyone. Not everybody comes from a place with this much opportunity. At the same time, there are plenty of studies that show that our level of happiness declines once we hit a certain number.

You cannot price what fills your soul.

Curious and angry

When we are angry, we jump to conclusions. We are assuming that we are right, we are certain and we have lost something that we are entitled to. The amygdala is in the driver’s seat.

On the other hand, when we are curious, we are asking questions and observing. We are admitting that we are in a state of incompetence and trying to understand what is actually happening.

The two are not compatible.

You can’t be curious and angry at the same time.

Can’t and won’t

You are telling me that it is impossible to learn how to code or to learn how to play the guitar?

Of course not. You could learn it if you wanted to. It’s the same with riding a bike, learning how to swim, and driving a car. All skills that need to practice. And with reps, you get better.

How come then we are reluctant to make art? Why won’t we put pen to paper and write something down?

We treat our art as something that only people with talent have. But nothing can be further from the truth.

You could do it only if you wanted.

The greater mistake

Yesterday is gone. It is not coming back. It’s a shame that the system has worked overtime to get you to believe that you are insufficient to even begin. What would be unforgivable, however, is to let the mistakes of the past haunt the opportunities of the future. 

Now that you know better, what now?

8 billion

According to Worldometer, Earth’s population hit 8 billion people today.

That’s a lot of mouths to feed, clothes to make, homes to build, jobs to create…

History has shown equality doesn’t happen by accident. It’s done with intention.

It won’t happen overnight. If we are to solve the problems of the world, it will have to be together.

The magic formula

The magic is there is no magic.

If you want to be a creative or an artist, you simply begin.

We have no guarantee of success or if it will pay the bills.

The only guarantee is that we get to do the work.

With time, if you stay with it, you can get better.

And perhaps, with a bit of luck, you can get your ideas to spread.

Facts and beliefs

We are all entitled to our beliefs. We can choose to believe what we want to believe. We can craft stories and narratives about the world and how we see it. We can have opinions about taste and debate the merits of the policy. It is all subjective.

What we don’t get to choose is the facts.

If Earth’s temperature has risen by 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, that isn’t an opinion that is a fact. Because we have data that supports the statement. We can observe and test it.

Trust the science if it is sound. Otherwise, we are just choosing our own truths instead of finding an objective one.

Trust your neighbors when they tell you the new restaurant down the street is worth a try.

The other side of hard

Everything worth doing is on the other side of hard.

Otherwise, everyone would be a doctor or lawyer.

Everyone would finish boot camp and climb Everest.

But not everyone does.

Because the hard part is what makes anything meaningful and fulfilling.

We can dread the hard part but we can also embrace it too.

When the Resistance shows up, what part of you does too?

Who do you work for?

How many marines wake up in the morning excited to do pushups? Not many. I don’t have a military background but I can imagine that a lot of military personnel who are not exactly friends with their drill sergeants at boot camp. So why do the push-ups if it isn’t for the boss telling you what to do?

I am sure they do it for a lot of reasons:

Duty, discipline, fitness, working as a team, chain of command…there is a deeper reason why we do the things we don’t want to do, even if that thing is good for us in the long run.

So, who do you work for?

Is it for a paycheck?

Is it for the boss or the logo on your polo?

Is it your customers?

Or is it for an important cause?

Replacing habits

You can’t just stop eating french fries and then start eating ice cream. That doesn’t solve the problem. It isn’t enough to stop doing one behavior. You have to replace it with something-substituting the behavior with another, faking it until you make it.

There isn’t a lot of thought put into starting out to become a runner. You put on your shoes and go. It isn’t until you do this for, I don’t know, thirty days or so that you can say you are now a runner. Because you can look at your history with satisfaction.

The point is action is the key to changing behavior. It isn’t what you can’t do, it’s what you now can.