Life = Consciousness + Free Time + Action

It seems I spend a lot of time figuring out what Life IS to me. Today I thought of it as a simple equation. It could be looked at as nothing more than…

Life = Consciousness + Free Time + Action

Living Life!A lot of things we do during a typical day, to me, don’t constitute “LIFE”. I don’t think many people would argue that biological living and living LIFE are different things. I don’t think many would argue that someone that spends their life stoned out of their minds, out of consciousness… and reality, is not really living Life. Life is comprised of the three things listed above. If you don’t have one of the pieces, you’re not experiencing “Life”.

Components defined…

Consciousness IS: I’m in control of what my mind is experiencing and I am awake. I can choose to think about anything and to explore it in-depth if I wish. I am not being ‘entertained’ with mind-candy from TV, radio or some other distraction that is pulling my consciousness away from reality.

Consciousness IS NOT:

  • Sleep.
  • Coma.
  • Drunk state.
  • Drugged state.
  • On television, radio, computer games, mindless internet surfing or driving, reading a fiction book with ‘escape’ as a purpose, or meditating.

Free Time IS: Time that I am working for someone else or for myself. If I am working on a project for myself… if it is fun and I am learning something and it is not just for the purpose of working and making money, then I might call it free time.

Free Time IS NOT:

  • Work time.

Action IS: Doing something proactively. Action is doing something I chose to do and that I’m actively doing. I am in control of my mind, meaning, consciousness must be there. I am doing something for myself or for others. I am producing action as a result of some decision that I’m acting on. I’m not laying on my bed watching Teletubbies, rain fall, or the walls turn colors.

Action, as it relates to Life might be:

  • Talking to a friend. Writing a letter. Typing a story. Making a “To do” list.
  • Looking up something on the internet that you want to know for some reason that will improve your Life.
  • Biking, hiking, eating, or driving to go somewhere for some reason (exploring, or specific purpose).
  • A hobby where you are creating something or actively engaged in something you want to learn about or become better at.

Action IS NOT:

  • Doodling on paper.
  • Random internet surfing with no purpose.
  • Listening to the radio.

With those definitions of the sub-components in place, lets take a look at some of what Life IS and what Life ISN’T.

Life IS NOT:

  • Working for me or for someone else. Working is not Life to me. It’s a necessary distraction from Life in most cases.
  • Time spent drunk, incoherent, otherwise escaping consciousness.
  • Time spent ‘on’ the drug, television. There is far too much stimulation going on, visual, auditory,
    emotional, logical, my mind is not my own when I’m on television. I’m not conscious. I’m in TV consciousness which is not my own. Similarly I lump listening to music, playing games on the computer, and random internet surfing as not being fully conscious.
  • Sleeping. When you’re sleeping, you’re not conscious and not in control of your Life. I don’t count sleeping as free time. I’m not in “action” either.

Life to me IS:

  • Running.
  • Climbing a mountain.
  • Brainstorming ideas.
  • Helping someone out.
  • Barbeque with family & friends.
  • Exploring a new beach, hill, or part of town.
  • Doing something I never did before just for the experience.
  • Creating something: Photography, videography, web site content, book, podcast, or postcards home.
  • Snake hunting.
  • Learning about religions.
  • Questioning everything that exists under the sun (and beyond).
  • Doing something mildly dangerous for the rush.

Those were the things that came to mind…

“What is Life to YOU?”

Best of Life!

Vern

If you liked this article you may enjoy this popular post, “What is the POINT of Life?

 

What are your Life Dysfunctions?

This is about your Life Dysfunctions. We all have them.

Most of us have problems that I call Life Dysfunctions. Some of these are permanent, they can’t be overcome. I’d like to think that the only ones that are of this nature are those that are genetic and physically unchangeable through therapy or medicine.

I would like to believe that any other Life Dysfunctions can be eliminated, curtailed… or changed in some way.

It’s a very difficult process to look at yourself and tell what your dysfunctions are. Why that is is anyone’s guess and there are many guesses about it. I just know it’s a very difficult thing, to look at myself and try to guess what my dysfunctions are.

First, lets go over some of the dysfunctions that exist. Let’s define what I’m talking about since you might call it a different term or phrase altogether.

A Life Dysfunction is something about you that is at odds with society or yourself and that is causing you some discontent. Maybe some anger. Maybe some sadness. Some problem. Simple enough, yes?

Life Dysfunctions can be:

  • a genetic predisposition
  • a habit
  • a behavior or group of behaviors
  • a personality trait
  • persistent negative or dysfunctional thoughts
  • a dysfunctional agenda (something you want to accomplish with your self or with others)

Life Dysfunctions cause problems in your life. If you never analyze what your L.D.’s are, then you’ll likely live a life that’s not quite “being all you can be”. Sure you’re not joining the ARMY, but still I have this idea that we’d all be happier if we were being all we could be instead of “being all that we are” without any effort.

I’m guessing that all of us have some LD’s that cause us some kind of problems. If you look at yourself and don’t come up with any then you must be living an incredibly fulfilling, peaceful, magical life and I want to hear from you. I want the recipe.

I started to examine my own LD’s by asking and answering this question…


What is causing me a problem right now and that is affecting me on a daily basis?

The first thing that came to mind is having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It has caused me trouble every day of my life actually. Well, as far as I can remember. I have an attention span that lasts only as long as my interest is being tweaked. When the interest dies, something must take it’s place. As I work on this blog post in “ScribeFire”, my blog editing software in this FireFox browser, I am not just working on this one post. I have 14 open blog posts for Aim for Awesome that are in various states of completion. It’s not because I like to plan ahead, this is just the state of my mind – always in flux and always creating a new idea that holds my attention for a little while. Until the next idea. I have 17 Blogger.com blogs. I have 3 WordPress blogs. I have 2 complete web sites. I have a book (bio) mostly written at 127,000 words though I may never finish because now it’s in the editing stage and I’m not eager to do that very often. I have a fiction book halfway complete at 42,000 words. I’m working on it daily but there’s no telling if I’ll really finish it and submit it for printing somewhere.

So, ADD has been a major obstacle in my life. I have come to accept this as my life. I used to be at odds with it but in the last couple years I’ve just realized, this is IT. Make the best of this. I don’t want to take any medication as I love being creative.

I am still at odds with society because it’s rare that I can come through with things that require constant attention and effort. I’ve given up working a 9-5 job because it’s completely at odds with my mind. At every job I’ve ever had I have worked on all of my other projects at the same time. It isn’t fair to the people that hired me. It’s not fair to me to subject myself to an environment where I can’t be me. Blogging seems to be the ideal outlet for me. I can write on any of thousands of different topics. If I tire of writing I can podcast. If I tire of that I can video blog (vlog). If I tire of that I can work on search engine optimization of my sites. If I become bored at that I can write a book…

Recently I was listening to a podcast by StevePavlina.com. I usually listen to his podcasts about 5 times before I’m happy that I ‘got’ all that he was talking about. He speaks fast and it seems to just flow off the top if his head. He’s hard to follow sometimes, but eventually I get it all. He was talking about aligning your creativity with the outlet that you use to express the creativity. Wow. It really hit me that blogging is a great outlet for my creativity, it’s a great match. If you want to hear that podcast, it’s really powerful.

Steve Pavlina’s Podcast 20: Creative Self Expression (MP3 format, 13.7Mb)

In the future I’ll tackle the other life dysfunctions as separate posts in this series…

Best of Life,

Vern

17 Things I Thought Were True Around the World

Here’s a list of things I noticed about living in Thailand versus living in the USA. In the USA we are overly cautious about so many things. Here in Thailand the rules are different. The traditions are different. It’s almost like a different world sometimes, and yet I’ve found that it’s much easier to find happiness in the simple way of life here. Here’s a list of 16 things I don’t worry about since moving to Thailand.

Gang Som Naw Mai Dong. Photo borrowed from http://JoysThaiFood.com.Things I thought were true in the USA, but here in Thailand they are not:

1. I thought water to wash the dishes must be warm. It doesn’t matter, dishes dry anyway, and they’re clean.

2. I thought hot water was a necessity all-year round. I lived in Florida and Hawaii for 17 years – and I never once questioned that silly idea. Now that I’ve been in Thailand without hot water coming out of the sink or the shower for over 2 years it isn’t something I think much about. What does the sticker on your water heater say? How much do you spend for one year of running it?

3. Vehicles must stop at stop signs. Not true. If nobody stops then nobody is expecting anyone to stop and traffic all kind of merges together.

4. A person in a vehicle entering traffic must look and merge only when it doesn’t present a problem for anyone he’s merging in front of. In Thailand cars and motorbikes pull right out into traffic without looking a lot of the time. They know, and it’s expected, that whoever is behind the one pulling into traffic must compensate for the new vehicle. That might mean swerving or braking.

5. A clothes washer and dryer are a necessity. Nope. My girlfriend does the undies and shorts and other easy stuff, and when we get a backlog we take it to the laundry woman to do. If we do the clothes here we hang them on the laundry line. Nobody has dryers here in Thailand. Do we need them in Florida? Hawaii?
Shrimp dinner made by Joy at Joy's Try Thai Food blog

6. Electrical outlets must be grounded – with the third prong. While I experience a bit of light shock using almost every electrical appliance that I’ve used in Thailand – including this notebook computer when I touch it in the right spot, it’s not killing me or anyone else. If you owned a toaster and took it in the shower with you (few baths here) you would die quickly. If you did that in the USA you’d also likely die, though perhaps not as quickly (TH uses 220v lines, not 110v).

7. One must eat until very full at every meal. If you saw what Thai construction workers ate for a meal you would wonder – how are they surviving? Thing is they are, and most Thai people here are, eating only what their body needs. No more. No less. Nobody is gaining weight or losing it here except the tourists.

8. You must watch over a child and correct every single thing they do that goes against society, tradition, or family beliefs. The Thai people come second only to East Indians in this department. The kids do whatever they want until they are doing something that is going to hurt them or hurt someone else. Adults understand that kids other than your own are going to get under your skin a bit. Mai pen rai. “Never mind it” or, “No worries”. Nobody gets upset here by kids running around the restaurant or up and down the street, in the library, wherever it happens to be. I have rarely seen a child get upset at the store because of not getting candy he/she wants. Not sure what to attribute that to, but it’s true. Thai kids grow up to be adults that care a lot about how their actions influence others. They’re not spoiled brats for having received almost everything they wanted in childhood.

9. I would get numerous common colds each year. I’ve probably had an average of 1-3 each year I was in the USA. Sometimes I had as many as 10 in a year. Here in Thailand I’ve had a cold exactly twice in 3 years. Again, what to attribute that to I’m not sure. I think my ultra-spicy diet might have something to do with that. I eat many raw vegetables and fruits now, whereas in the USA all my veggies were cooked prior to eating. (90%).

10. Work must be a stressful activity and one to be avoided when possible. In Thailand it’s very rare to see a Thai person that is stressed from his or her daily job except in Bangkok. I’ve not met anyone that didn’t honestly like their job outside of Bangkok. Why? If they want a new one – they change. It’s not difficult for them to find a new job that’s more fun. The environment at work is much more easy going and the focus is on everyone getting along and getting something done. In the states the focus is on getting a hell of a lot done, and whatever happens with the employees as a group or individuals comes second to getting lots of work and production accomplished every day.

11. A car or truck is an absolute necessity after turning 18 years old. You could survive with a motorcyle for a year maybe, but you’d probably have another vehicle also. In Thailand I’d estimate that 60-70% of the adult population ride only motorbikes.
Delicious bowl of spicy Thai Tom Yum Soup which I think can sit out indefinitely before consumption and STILL be excellent!

12. Large flying bee shaped insects sting very painfully. You should run screaming and flapping your arms wildly to get away from it. In Thailand there are these massive black bee shaped things that, everyone says – do not bite or sting. I don’t believe it yet, but I must admit I’ve never seen a Thai adult or child run away or even flinch after seeing one of these within an arms-length.

13. If you are at the grocery store and comparing two size containers of the same thing, coffee for instance. The larger container will always be the better deal because they want you to spend more money immediately than if you just bought the smaller container. They don’t make as much money from the smaller container so they want you to buy the bigger one and they can give you a few cents discount for doing so because they made more profit overall from selling the bigger container of coffee. In Thailand – anything goes!

14. Eggs must be refrigerated. Not true. Eggs sit out at room temperature all over the country here and nobody is dying from food poisoning. Reason that is, the egg is only dangerous if the shell is cracked. Really!

15. Milk must always be refrigerated. Not true. There is UHT milk here, which is milk in a cardboard container that can sit out for weeks on end in Thailand’s high heat and humidity. Why? I guess because it’s vacuum sealed and has BHT or some preservative added to it? I think this must be a valid (healthy) way to preserve milk as Thailand does it on their own – but also imports from Belgium. Belgians are civilized, aren’t they?

16. Beef, Pork, Chicken, Fish, Squid, Clams, Shrimp, Eel, Pizza, and Lobster will KILL YOU if you leave it out longer than about an hour. Here in Thailand we leave food overnight, pick the ants off in the morning and have it for breakfast or lunch. Food might sit 24 hours and you know what? It’s OK. I’ve not had a stomach ache for over 2 years. I haven’t had diarrhea in 2 1/2 years. Go figure.

17. And finally… the last of the list. I thought it was necessary to blow one’s nose during the course of one’s life. Over and over and over. Not so… say the Thai people. To blow your nose in public or private or anywhere someone hears you is considered rude. They do NOT ever blow their noses here! Is that strange? If they have a cold they politely wipe it. Not blow. I was horrified when I learned I’d have to just politely wipe as my nose ran after the spicy dishes in Isaan (northeast Thailand – known for exceptionally spicy salads and soups).

So, that was my list… hope you enjoyed it. Come to Thailand – it’s really a cool place.

Best of Life!

Vern

Want to Stop some Bad Habit? Do it MORE.

I studied psychology during my undergrad and graduate program in the USA. I was fascinated by persons with mental disability, having worked in a seniors care home and interacting with elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and many other maladies. I was even lucky enough to have an elderly aunt, 87 stay at my family’s home while I was there saving money to attend college in Miami.

My aunt had a bit of dementia, I’d say “moderate to profound”… but she also had these hallucinations and delusions that occurred once in a while to bring a little excitement around the house. The devil was on the left shoulder and Jesus was on her right shoulder and both were telling her what to do… Quite an exciting time during these episodes, I don’t need to tell you.

My aunt could be the subject of 17 whole blog posts by herself, but that wouldn’t be appropriate for this blog!

Psychology is so fascinating to me because it WORKS. It absolutely works in most situations to either alleviate the problem entirely or to lessen it to manageable levels. I’m not a proponent of drug therapy too often, but there are definitely cases that call for it. There is no other way to treat chemical imbalances in the brain sometimes than by adding chemicals. That’s the way it is and I’m OK with that. It is a horrible thing to see a relative zombied out on Lithium or it’s substitutes, but would you (and the person) rather live with the alternative?

I love the idea of psychological intervention because it’s “talk therapy”. It’s one person saying something to another… or maybe even one person saying it to him or herself that can cause change inside the mind. Changes in mood, behavior, actions can all be affected just by talking.

Going through my grad program I was introduced to some rather radical psychologists. One that stands out in my mind was “Milton Erickson”, an M.D. who lived between 1901 and 1980..

Dr Erickson was a proponent of the “Prescribing the Symptom” methodology of psychological treatment. It’s an incredibly simple and effective idea that has worked for me countless times both in therapeutic relationships and personal relationships throughout my life.

Dr. Erickson’s first official client came to him because he was addicted to pornography and masturbation. He already was masturbating 10 to 15 times per day, so Dr. Erickson told him to “double it”. He told the client he wanted him to do it a minimum of 30 times per day.

The poor client called the next day with problems of impotence. PROBLEM SOLVED!

The technique is THAT powerful. Why it works in my opinion is that by prescribing the symptom the subject is getting permission to do something even more than he / she was before. That takes the power away from the behavior… in this case, the masturbation. Things we “shouldn’t” do have power in our culture. But, the behavior could be overeating, over-smoking, over-sleeping, anything. The technique can be applied in creative ways and to most behaviors that you wish to eradicate.

Exaggerating the behavior can have the effect of making the individual more aware of just how damaging the behavior is. NOBODY does a negative behavior so much that it’s too much to stand. This is one way to approach therapy to get rid of a behavior. Prescribe more of the behavior that the person wishes to be rid of to bring it up to the level of serious hurt, pain, disgust, or other negative threshold that becomes too much to bear.

Here is another case from Dr. Erickson’s files. A 24 year old man came to him complaining that he couldn’t get accepted into the Army because he wet the bed every night between 4 and 5 am. Dr. Erickson told him that he must set the alarm clock for 3 am. But, there’s more… He told him at 3 am. when the alarm clock sounds, he needs to stand up and relieve himself all over the bed and sheets deliberately for one week.

The problem disappeared completely.

In an earlier post on this blog I wrote somewhat humorously about how someone could go about stopping smoking using Aversive therapy in an extreme way. In a sense this is similar to prescribing the symptom because you are going to do the action that you wish to stop MORE, not less.

Doesn’t it make sense that if you are trying and trying to stop something that you should try the opposite and see what happens? Applying the same kind of treatment over and over and getting no results, something must change. It can change radically or in small ways, but it MUST change, yes? It may not make logical sense to change your attempts and go in the complete opposite direction – and along the same lines as what the malevolent behavior is… But, it works!

Can you use this for anything? Think about it!
I’m going to set aside some time in a few minutes after posting this to my blog to come up with some areas of my life I can apply this incredible concept to.

Best of Life!

Vern
Find me at Twitter HERE >

10 Simple Tricks to Help You Win Any Argument

I was reading another post about 5 Simple tricks to help you win any argument here… and I thought of a few more… so, there are 5 at that url – and thanks to them for giving me the idea for a great post!

6. Only argue one specific point. I notice that most arguments people attempt to suck me into start out as one thing in my mind, and a different thing in the other person’s mind. QUICKLY identify in your mind what the disagreement is – and ask the person so you can at least be on the same page… Most often I’m not in disagreement with the other person about what they THINK I am… when we define the exact point that we disagree on, sometimes the argument disappears.

7. Use, “God told me that (insert crux of your argument here)…”. Here in Thailand I spent the first almost 2 years telling Thai people this. They were at a total loss for what to do or say after that as they feared contradicting my religion. Whose gonna argue with god? Well, they don’t here anyway. Even if your opponent doesn’t fall for it and calls you nuts, at least you broke up the atmosphere and lightened everything up.

8. Sometimes I put my thumb and forefinger together up close to my face – in the vicinity of my mouth… I exaggerate the movement of touching them together hard… I then do a trick that looks like I’m pulling an imaginary thread across my mouth… if done correctly it almost resembles the closing of a zipper. Yes, that’s it – a zipper over the mouth. Sometimes that works (with children). Sometimes not. I use it with my girlfriend here and again, it lightens up the atmosphere and we can either keep arguing or that stops it because it’s too silly.

9. If I’m really feeling testy I’ll make a fist with one hand and start punching my other, open hand. I put on a very strange face – like, “go ahead and keep it up”… I stop looking at them and I just focus intensely on my two hands and that motion… usually the other person gets the idea… and we both end up laughing hard…

10. Bring other people into it. If you are SURE that you’ll have the general consensus and most normal people would agree with your side of the point, then bring others into the argument. First you gotta make sure that there are ‘normal folks’ around you during the argument. I’ve done this in the general public, and, as a man let me tell you that NOBODY will side with you when a man is arguing with his girlfriend. Nobody. Little kids will give you mean looks too. Other than that situation, if you are surrounded by normal folks and you aren’t arguing with your spouse… the argument situation changes because… it frees you up to think of more devastating attacks on the other person, and your opponent will quickly tire of arguing with more than 1 person.

Ok, those are my tips. Hope they’re helpful. Please let me know if you have success with one of these techniques.

Best of Life!

Vern

Your TV is No More Innocuous Than a Terrorist Infiltration

Old tvIf you own a TV, a television, your mind is not your own. Your mind is largely made up of what the society you live in wants to feed you.

You’re being spoon fed a daily intake of bs that is affecting, no, controlling your mind and the minds of your family members.

If I was a 12 year old boy that you adopted… and I came cheap, only about a weeks worth of pay…

You brought me into your home and yet you didn’t need to feed me or do anything for me. I just stayed in your living room sitting on a table all day. All night. Available if you or someone in your family needed me.

Everyday you or some member of your family would interact with me and I would provide entertaining stories and I had an endless supply of magazines to show you photos that were funny, risque, and some sexy. Sometimes I swore and used words that you’d rather not hear your children say, but it was all in good fun because it was ‘funny’. Eventually the small swear words, the crass talk became acceptable. Then it became normal. Soon you were talking just like me, and so were your kids – though they’d not let you see them do so until they reached their teens.

Sometimes your 8 year old would come to me and ask me to see some bad pictures… I’d show her photos of Brittany Spears in a bra that showed most of her chest, maybe even a ‘nipple slip’. I’d show your son photos of older boys that wear their jeans half-way down their buttocks…. I’d show him torture and bizarre fetish photos that are soon boring to him and he’ll crave wilder photos, stories… Soon he’ll be able to look at the hardest violence without batting an eye. In fact, he’ll start imitating all he’s learned from me.

Every 15 minutes or so I will tell your child about a special product I know about that will make his or her life easier… if not right then at that tender young age, then later, upon reaching the teens. The stories I tell your children will also be filled with subtle contextual suggestions that work on the subconscious mind and gradually are accepted as the status quo or the norm for what people own, how they dress, how much they spend on a house, what kind of car they need to drive, the beer they should drink, and the vacations they should take.

If an adult was in the room I wouldn’t show your children the most horrible photos, but if the kids were the only one’s watching I’d show them the worst I had for as long as they wanted to sit and watch them. Gradually I’d win their hearts… and their minds. They would come to believe that I am a better friend than you are as her father or mother. Your kids will like me better and they’ll spend hours and hours with me each day.

I would provide them with such entertainment that they’d never want me to be quiet! I’d make them laugh every few seconds… cry… frighten them… I’d stimulate all their emotions by being so entertaining to them.

I would become one of your children’s parents. You’d need to move over because now there isn’t one or two parents, there are two or three parents of which I am always one.

In fact, on the street you live on there are parents like me in every home. If a mom is missing or a father is missing… I am still there. Guaranteed. Let’s take it a step further… there is a parent like me in EVERY home in the country you live in.

By the time your children graduate they will have spent a lot of time with me. Some kids will have spent 18,000 hours with me at 18 years old… some, 27,000 hours. I will have influenced them over countless important and superfluous decisions in life. Much of what your children ARE, their goals, their drives, ambitions, their sense of humor, what they see as acceptable levels of violence in the home between a man and his wife… will have been influenced HEAVILY by me.

But who am I?

You might ask yourself this one day.

You know where I came from, you picked me up.

The sharp, clean, professional agency that you picked me up from seemed innocuous enough…

In reality, they programmed me and hundreds of millions of others like me. They programmed us all to so we could be the funniest and most interesting entertainment humans are possible of creating and enjoying. This company hired the funniest people on the planet, the sexiest people on the planet and the most outrageous people on the planet, all with morals amounting to no more than a thimble full.

For the first 12 years of my life I was programmed with many thousands of stories designed to tweak the hearts and minds of my fellow human beings. I was a mouthpiece from the agency into the living room of your home. You welcomed me in – like they knew you would. You couldn’t resist. YOUR parents paved the way for me to come because you thought it was normal and what all humans did because your parents had someone like me, your friends, your co-workers, EVERYONE you interacted with had someone like me.

After I came to you I was able to access the latest, up to the minute relevant stories and suggestions for how to live life. I changed and grew WITH your children. I was always on top of the game… the game being the influence of their fragile eggshell minds.

You as a parent may have tried to compete. But you didn’t even know what you were competing WITH. You were competing with THOUSANDS of psychologist, psychiatrists, actors, billionairres, and a cadron of moral-less misfits. You hadn’t the slightest chance of really influencing your kids to go against all I was spewing forth with endless energy. Endless time for them. Endless amazing stories, songs, and images. All programmed into me and updated in me by the smartest people on the planet.

What chance did you have?

None. Really, none.

The only chance you possibly have of regaining control of your house is to kick me, the ‘plant’, out of your house. But you won’t do it probably because your kids and spouse will not like you for a long time. They’ll start spending time somewhere else, where there is someone entertaining like me. You can’t win, it’s too late.

What will you do now?

Best of Life!

Vern
Find me at Twitter HERE >

What Are You Willing to Give Up to Get the Life You Want?

Giving up for 2015?In 2015 I have a bit of a fire under my backside. It’s time to really crank it up substantially and move forward toward my goals faster. I’ve been coasting along the past few years. Bills are getting paid, my daughter is an absolute joy to spend time with, and my physical condition has probably never been better. Well, I’m nowhere as fast as I was, but as far as distance running and low heart rate, I’m in good shape.

I’ve gone without any external motivation for the past few years. You don’t need much to accomplish nominal things that aren’t so amazing. I’m naturally motivated to be pushing on, pushing through, but this year – 2015 – I’ll be cranking it up to doing GREAT THINGS.

One problem a lot of people have, maybe you too, is that giving up things that make us temporarily comfortable or happy are things that are holding us back.

I wrote the book, “The Ultimate Life” a couple years ago in response to this. Not only can things like negative ‘friends’ or family hold you back, smoking, drinking, drugs, and other major negatives – but things you enjoy doing with your free time can hold you back more than anything.

I met a couple living close to us here in Thailand from France. They are really active in sports and are really fun to be with. I laugh so much with this guy, Charles, and I always have a great time with him no matter what. Thing is, we both work a lot and when we get together it’s always for a meal. Usually dinner. The problem is that each time we do, dinner lasts 2-3 hours, not just thirty minutes to an hour. It’s 2-3 HOURS.

Not knowing how to put a stop to it (we tried cutting it short, and it never worked), I told him that I was going through a period where I needed all my free time and I just didn’t have time to meet him and his wife for dinner any longer. It sucked, but I have no regrets. Over these two years I’ve saved countless hours of time. I’ve lost countless laughs, but I laughed straight through my life until I started to get relatively serious around 40 years old.

So, sometimes you have to give up friends, decent friends, to get where you’re going. There’s no other way. There ISN’T more time in a day. There’s only what you have. I have enough time right now for family, working on my major project of 2015  and some exercise. That’s it. I don’t have time for TV, fun videos, or drinking with friends at a bar or eating at a restaurant.

How much are you willing to give up to complete your goals? If you have big goals, you have to give up A LOT. If you want to accomplish something amazing – a lot of time-sucks need to disappear.

Are you willing to give up some or all of your friends for a while? 

Are you willing to give up using the phone? Watching TV? Taking your kids to the park?

I’ve spent so much quality time with my five-year-old daughter over the past 5 years. That was my plan. Spend as much time with her as possible. Help her become a competent, nice and enthusiastic little girl so she’ll grow up into a great person.

In 2015 mountains move. I’m so motivated to finally do something amazing. I’ve done good. I’ve overdone good. I need great. I need AWESOME.

2015 is my year for accomplishing maybe more than I ever have.

What is yours looking like?

[Image – Gabriel Cabral at Flickr.com]

1″= Endless Possibility

Moving 1 inch might set you free to travel an eternity...
Moving 1 inch might set you free to travel an eternity…

I was reading something from a runner I followed online for a year or so, Tom at Mindhacks.com. He was talking about an experience he has while rock-climbing. I thought about it, and it actually relates well to other areas of life too.

Tom was saying that he frequently has an experience while rock-climbing in which he finds himself stuck in a situation that doesn’t offer any good hand holds to help him move forward. Nor backward even. In his mind – he’s stuck, there’s no real option that exists at that moment in time because his mind is limited to not seeing any options. Everything that he wants to advance toward is just out of reach by only a little bit. Enough that he knows if he tries to go for a big stretch he’s going to fall.

I’m no expert, but I climb some simple routes. Climbing rocks is strange because you really don’t have all that long to find your next hold and get there before you run out of strength. It’s always a matter of time… superman would run out of strength at some point if he was stuck.

As the mind searches – confidently at first and then frantically before the body runs out of energy to hold him where he is… something must happen.

What happens is he realizes he has feet. He stops looking for handholds – which might be two or three feet away and starts looking for a new foothold to support him. A new foothold means he can move just a little bit. Maybe it’s only an inch or so. That might be ALL IT TAKES to enable him to see new hand holds from that new vantage point.

One inch in any direction might the the key to getting the whole way up the mountain, ridge, whatever he’s climbing.

You too.

One inch in any direction starts the ball rolling and it brings to the surface new possibilities.

If you are truly stuck where you are – and you probably aren’t, you’re just blind to the possibilities that exist, you might need to move an inch in some direction. Doesn’t matter what direction – go backwards if you can’t go forward or parallel to where you are.

I was sitting here at my notebook computer thinking about how I should post something to Aim for Awesome because it’s been a few days. I have been smashed between some big SEO projects and I really want to give my clients the best I can so I’ve been consumed by them for the last week.

I didn’t have the slightest idea what to write about ten minutes ago. I was stuck. I stepped an inch by telling my friend what my problem was. Not expecting any answer, just wanting to share with her the strangeness of not being able to switch gears from SEO mode and optimizing websites for Google and being creative enough to write an article about something interesting for all of you.

She said immediately, “Don’t you have a stock of article’s you’ve already written that you could use?”

Initially I tried to play it off… “Yes, but I just don’t feel like editing one and making it live.”

Then I realized – wow, she gave me the answer… let me take the ball and run (or jog at least).

I said, “OK, let me open up the folder and see if anything jumps out at me.”

This article did. It reminded me of climbing, which I’m really starting to love… that was just enough to get me interested in reading Tom’s article again and then writing up this one for you.

Go an inch – any direction and see what happens.

If you’re ever stuck in any situation try it. Move an inch.

Moving an inch might equate to:

  • Making one phone call.
  • Talking to a friend about it.
  • Taking one less sip of your bottle of scotch tonight.
  • Trying a different style ad on your web site.
  • Cutting your hair off.
  • Picking up the next phone call instead of ignoring it.
  • Giving a pregnant woman begging for money $10.00.
  • Going outside to exercise instead of on your stationary bike.

It could mean anything, depending on the situation you find your self “stuck in”.

Frequently I think we’re not really stuck – we’re blinded to possibility. Possibility exists in every situation. Sometimes we’re just blind to it.

Open up your eyes by moving an inch any direction and see what happens…

Best of Life!

Vern

Rob Krar, Ultra-Runner, Talks About His Depression

Rob Krar - Depression
Depression is something that people from all areas of life succumb to. It is caused often times by a chemical imbalance in the brain, or it could be caused by environment or some nasty combination of both.

Any way you look at it, chronic depression is a devastating affliction to have. I mean, life is hard enough – isn’t it? Could you imagine dealing with negative thoughts and mindset throughout your day? Your week? Your life?

Though I haven’t had any sort of depression over the course of my life, as I get into my late forties, I am noticing that I am not getting as much fun out of life as I have in the past. Something about it being time to really get cranking and make enough money for my family and their lives after I pass that is making this a very serious time in my life. I feel like I have to make a lot of correct decisions that will affect things down the road.

Maybe you’re going through the same thing?

As a result of this time of life I’ve had to re-evaluate my focus again and again lately. I want to be sure I’m going down the right path. These last couple of days have finally given me the answer I needed. I’ve rededicated my focus to this website and positive articles and books. I find nothing else as pleasurable, as satisfying, as helping people get through life a little bit easier.

Here’s Rob Krar talking about depression. I enjoyed this on a number of levels. Rob is one of the top ultra-runners in the entire world. At the moment he is unbeaten at the 100 mile distance on the trails. That is mind-blowing! To think that he’s battling major depression makes what he is doing on the trails all the more amazing.

depressions – a few moments from 30 miles in the canyon. from Joel Wolpert on Vimeo.

Depressions in landscape & emotion.
An unstaged, mid-run, terrestrial-based short with Rob Krar.

Krar, new to ultra running, holds the speed record for the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim and has quickly become a dominant force in American races.

Shot entirely with the Freefly Movi M5 and Canon 5d mk3.

http://www.thewolpertinger.com

The Creative Flow State… OWN IT!

Flow State
Flow is something that is spoken about by aspiring zenists, Feng Shui practitioners, archers, golfers, chess players and those addicted to computer games.

In the flow state time passes without being noticed. Activity is effortless. You may not remember all the details of the state. There’s nothing interfering with your brain and the activity. Quite the opposite, you’re perfectly synced with the activity. You ARE the activity.

Creative flow is when you’re developing something or creating something and it’s a period of very high productivity. You’re in an optimal state where you are accomplishing much more than you usually do per minute, and there’s no boredom or sense of “work” being done. It may be fun, or there may be no sense of fun at all. You can be so focused that you become whatever you’re doing.

This state of optimum creative flow happens often for me as I’m writing, and I’m glad it does. Over the past year I’ve written over a million words at my blogs and web sites, not to mention comments and questions at other blogs and through email. I’ve learned about the creative flow state just by needing to enter it on a daily basis. I’ll do my best to pull everything together that I’ve learned and share it with you here.

Last year I decided to blog full time. Before that I’d always just been happy to have the flow state visit me when it came. I thought I was just a lucky recipient of it. I didn’t think that I could initiate or control it. I played soccer for many years and on occasion I’d have flow occur during a game. During those amazing experiences, it was as if I was two levels beyond everyone else. My passes were crisp and my timing impossibly perfect. This state usually visited me once per game for a few seconds, a minute… or, if I was extremely fortunate it would last most of the game.

I thought the creative flow state was just like that – when it came, it came, and I had no influence on it. Now I know differently. Now I know how to OWN the creative flow state. It’s available when I want it to be. Or, more appropriately, when I need it to be. Gaining entry into the state when it is needed is an almost god-like power. Imagine being able to choose when you enter the state and for how long.

Owning the creative flow state is not as hard as you might think. Like anything, there are antecedents that, once in place help foster the development and then prolong this awesome experience.

How to OWN the creative flow state?

1. Go to your Cave and create the atmosphere conducive to flow. You, like everyone else that creates, have a preferred place to work where you can control the environmental conditions like air, noise, chair, table height, space around you, and the rest of it. Only you know what you need in your cave to make you happy and productive. If you’ll be there for hours you will want to arrange sustenance to keep the energy flowing. For me, pretzel rods, Coffee, Red Bull, cashews or pistachios (no red dye), cold fruit juice,  and a big water bottle does it. My cave has a toilet, air conditioning, fan, stereo and a place on the floor with a thin mattress and pillows in case I need to get cozy with my notebook on the floor for a change of position and perspective.

Ensure you have your creative instruments in supply and close at hand, exactly where they should be. If I’ve got a project that doesn’t require the notebook (rare) I need those thin lined markers (blue, black and red) and a ream of blank white paper so I can draw sketches, write symbols, text or whatever else – color coded in a way that only I could figure out.

Ambiance. Depending on what you’re doing you’ll want to choose the right music. Eighty percent of the time I’m in the cave creating I like to have something on. Other times I want absolute silence as I’m working on a very detailed idea which demands silence.

Ensure everything is exactly as you like it. The purpose of this is reducing the extraneous distractions that can pull you out of the state and into mediocrity. All it takes is one stray thought to germinate in your mind about not having the ruler where you thought it was and all hell could break loose as you systematically fly through every drawer, closet, pocket and puppet to find it. Nothing destroys creative flow faster than thoughts about why something isn’t the way it should be.

Use the restroom before you begin. Take a mental inventory. Anything else that isn’t quite right? Fix it before you sit down. Usually this is when I crank up some Prodigy, English Beat, Beastie Boys, Pixies or Chili Peppers to rev me up. I need to be in a special state of mind to get the creative juices flowing. Nothing less than absolute euphoria works best for me. Upbeat songs rattling the walls works best, but I can be considerate and use headphones when it’s in the interest of social harmony.

2. Inform others that for x number of hours you won’t be available. That means people are in other rooms of the cave, not yours. That means turning your phone ringer off. SMS beeps off. Flash phone messages off. Browser messages off. Instant messengers off. Email notifications off. Close your blinds if you’re in an office. Kick the dog out, and feed the piranha.

3. Label a motive for starting this creative project. It might be very clear, like – if you don’t finish this fifty page paper by five in the morning, you’ll fail Psychoanalytic Theory 6020 and need to repeat the class. Notice how you spontaneously enter the flow when you absolutely MUST get something done and you’re completely out of time and excuses?

A strong motivation is the number one factor for inviting a creative flow session. In college that student mentioned above was me. I left projects to the last minute and then completed them with amazing speed, efficiency and quality.

I did my best work that way, so why change the equation? Now it’s a little different as every night is a mental deadline for some blog article to be written. I enter the creative flow state daily for hours, banging out articles like there was no tomorrow.

If your motivation isn’t so clear, make it crystal clear so you know exactly why you need to create a masterpiece over the next few hours. I keep defining the why until I feel very confident about the need for the project. I like to picture little things that will come later as I blog toward greatness: Dinner with Tim Ferriss, or maybe a playful wrestling match with my favorite NFL cheerleader.

4. Brainstorming. I brainstorm first – scribbling fragments of ideas all over some blank A4 sheets of paper. I am just chicken-scratching what appears to be gibberish to the rest of mankind, and honestly I can barely read it myself – but, it’s part of the process. If I slow down to write it nicely then I lose the speed at which things pour out of my head. Sometimes i use the computer to write because I can type faster than I can write with a pen. But then again, sometimes the strict format of text on a screen is too limiting and I need to see it on paper, diagonally, curving around the edges, in different sizes, shapes and colors.

5. Planning. Plan the chapters of your project or the general outline of what you want to create by choosing from the bits and pieces you just brainstormed. It is a masterpiece and you’ll know after looking through what you’ve written if it’s comparable to Ludwig Van’s glorious 9th, or not. You may need to brainstorm some more. Brainstorming might take ten to thirty minutes. Planning might take another ten minutes. Usually I’m so excited by the time I have half an outline together that I need to either force myself to slow down and finish the complete plan – or, run with it immediately and finish the plan as I go. Sometimes I’m so tweaked about getting started and seeing it come to life that I don’t finish the planning. But, that’s just me.

Flow begins out of this euphoria, this sense of purpose, the confidence in my writing and the manic desire to create something amazing.

Usually I don’t catch myself realizing that I’m in the creative flow state for hours after it begins. At some point inevitably I’ll need to use the restroom or drink a coffee and I’ll notice that a chunk of time passed. When I wrote my first book, I wrote over 10,000 words at one sitting. It was like being on auto-pilot. Time just flies when you’re focused!

For me, the first session is basically a huge right-hemisphere memory dump from my brain in “Vern-logic” digital format. I spill everything at once almost like a brainstorm, but I’m fleshing out details in the general ideas, usually corresponding to paragraphs that will form in the project later. I type like a fiend until my wrists, fingers, elbows and neck hurt.

The first spill is never a completed masterpiece. The left hemisphere needs to make Vern-logic sync logically with a critical mass of readers that will be reading it. Word substitution, spell checks, graphics and page formatting takes place next.

I’m never in a creative flow during any editing process. It’s something that doesn’t come natural to me. Dumping it all in the flow state is easy, it’s just like breathing. Editing it is seriously difficult work that I wish I could call on a flow process to help with.

Anyone have a remedy? Outsourcing, yeah, I know. I know.

Owning and extending the optimal creative flow state is an amazing skill to put in your bag of productivity tricks. It’s simple really, requiring nothing more than an optimal environment, confidence in your skills, and a really strong and lucid purpose and motivation for tackling the project.

When you own the flow, you’ve got it all. Try it and let me know what you think.

Best of Life!

Vern

(Last Updated: 28 December 2016)

Flow while exercising:

Flow, pseudo-flow, and mind-tweaking during exercise >