Blogpost

Using Your Bad for the Good

weightWe’ve all got them.  They lurk around and create mischief in our daily lives but we have trouble letting go of them.  Bad habits.  The things that we realize that we should not do at all or possibly overindulge in them.  There power over us can be based in our childhood, boredom or addiction.  No matter who you are, you’ve probably got a habit, vice, addiction or pattern that is less than favorable.

On the other hand you’ve got those good things that you cannot seem to get yourself to do.  You know it!  If you did that thing, it would help you in either the short or the long term.  Regardless of how much good you know that you’d get from it, you still don’t do it.  Perhaps you make up excuses about time.  Or you tell yourself that next week would be the right time to start or you need some other resource.  Again you’ve set yourself up to not follow through because your reasons are just not strong enough.

If you’re like me and you have this scenario in your life, I’m going to suggest that you use the bad to create the good.  Most recently I’ve been publishing, my blog on a daily basis.  In order to facilitate that happening, I do not eat until I have posted (WARNING: This is not a good course of action for everyone!  Eating disorders are a real thing for millions.  Know yourself and your issues.  Act responsibly!)  For me it is putting my bad habit of overeating against my need to follow through on my positive.  This requires a level of self-control but it is completely doable.

So if you are in need of a positive kick in the butt from yourself, try it.  Don’t use your cellphone until you’ve gone for a walk or run in the morning.  Don’t have that morning cup of coffee until you’ve done the laundry.  The habits don’t even have to be “bad”.  You just need to leverage the things that you do in order to have yourself take action on the things that you would normally skip.  It can be a powerful tool if you’re willing to hold yourself to it.

Have a great day!

Pete

Blogpost

I’m Broken (The Only Mechanic Is Me)

meaningMy first car was a 1977 Chevy Nova!  I inherited it from my great aunt and it was the perfect first car.  It had holes in the floor boards where you could actually see the road below you.  It had an 8 Track tape player in it that never really worked.  It was pale blue and covered with rust spots, as you can tell from the description, I loved it!  There were plenty of reasons to love it that had nothing to do with how looked or how it ran.  And now looking back on it, I understand even better that it was the perfect first car exactly because it was a piece of junk.  At no point did I ever have to worry about messing it up.  I learned how to change the oil, replace the bulbs and change tires on that car.  At no point did I think, “If I mess this up, I’m screwed!”

Fast forward to the present day and I don’t even change my own oil anymore.  Cars have become computers and more complicated, therefore the idea of doing my own maintenance while possible is much easier to outsource.  There are so many things like that today.  Complexity of many systems within our world have changed us from capable amateur mechanics to people in the waiting room in anticipation of someone else fixing our problem.

While this may be helpful or even necessary with many of our possessions, it seems to have become pervasive to the point of a cultural norm.  Day care, personal trainers, landscapers, etc. are all examples of outsourcing things that used to be done by the amateur ‘owner’.  While these services can be helpful and possibly ‘necessary’ in a modern context, there is one thing that we can never turn the complete management over to someone else: your mind.

The best therapist in the land can be employed for multiple hours each day and still, it is on the individual to get their hands dirty and do the work.  No one can change you without your conscious or unconscious consent.  Recognizing this fact, I am amazed at how many brain owners keep waiting for the world or their life to make them happy.  That is like expecting your neighborhood to take care of your lawn without ever communicating with them about it.  And even if you did make that request, I’m sure that you’d get some raised eyebrows or questions like “why is that my responsibility?”  So in this area, we need to realize that that amateur mechanic ethos is absolutely necessary.  Help is not only desirable in most cases, it is necessary but it is on each and every one of us to maintain, diagnose or even overhaul our mind at times.  With the amount of anxiety, depression and other mental concerns that seem to affect most of the population, it is time for all of us to recognize that we are all broken in at least a small way but we are also the mechanic.  Learning about yourself, your habits, fears, triggers and so many other components of your mindset is no longer an option.  Developing the tools to navigate this complex world is not only your job, it’s integral to your survival.  So remember, you’re broken (but so is everyone else) and you’re the mechanic.

Get your hands dirty!

Pete

self-reliance

Prove It!

Geometry was probably one of the easiest classes for me in high school.  Despite its relative ease, I had trouble staying engaged with it.  I found it tedious to give all of the reasons why something was true.  It was usually pretty obvious whether a problem was going to withstand the scrutiny of the different theorems that we were learning at the time.  So it seemed like a relative waste to my teenage self to write out all of the steps in proving or disproving a problem.  Especially when the answers (to the odd problems usually) were in the back of the book.

In our every day lives, there aren’t a lot of ‘proofs’ to be done.  Very few things are black and white.  So regardless of how SURE you are of your argument, there’s someone out there with the exact same information screaming the opposite (just think of our present political situation).  So if we have nothing to prove, maybe the aim should be to improve.

Although there are few cold hard truths that we encounter daily, we do have a sense of who we are personally and what it is that we want for ourselves.  So recognize the fact that you have nothing to prove.  Even if you were to prove something, the circumstances of tomorrow may wipe away the thing that your proved today.  However, each day we have the ability to improve.  In small and subtle ways, it is possible for you to see progress in yourself, your life and your circumstances.  Almost nothing about you is going to stand the test of time like Pythagoras’ Theorem.  That does not mean that your life is meaningless.  You are a sand castle that can be improved and enjoyed for the time that it exists.  Get digging and sculpting because when the tide comes in, you’ll wish that you had!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

Uncategorized

Call Him Double Down

DoubleDownMike – “This is Trent. We call him Double Down.”

Trent. – “Stop right there!  Ladies, don’t you always double down on an 11?”

Lisa – “No matter what. Like splitting aces.”

It’s a smart play to double down on an 11 in Black Jack because your chances of hitting 21 are worth the extra gamble.  On the other hand, it’s foolish to double down on a losing hand.  In cards your chances are based on mathematical probability.  Playing the odds is the name of the game.  Avoid the slim odds!

In our lives, the game is not entirely mathematical.  Decisions are made for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with probability.  Emotion, prior programming and a host of other variables lead to the less than logical decisions that we humans make regularly.  For example I double down on mistakes.  It’s not something I do intentionally.  It happens less today than it did a few years ago but it happens.  Most of the improvement in this area is due to habits and pre-scripting.

Like doubling down on an 11, daily habits that have the greatest possibility of working are key.  Usually these habits are not hard to find.  You know what they are but in the moment people get overwhelmed by emotion and choose the easy/comfortable route.  The path to where you want to go is not hard to find, it’s just hard to follow.  The more times that you follow that path, the easier it becomes to stay on.

Actors can definitely ad-lib their lines but for the most part, they work from a script.  Pre-scripting particularly difficult actions in your mind can be an effective way to get past them with the best results.  Visualizing the event in advance puts you into a proactive state of mind rather than reactive.  It does not resolve the situation in advance but can reduce the amount that emotion carried to it.

So go out into the world and bet on yourself.  Double down on the things that lead you to the life that you want.  Don’t allow yourself to bet on lottery number odds with your life.  Getting what you want is not a matter of luck, it’s a matter of time if you set the game up right!

Pete

 

 

Uncategorized

Don’t Marry Your F#@% Buddy

FBuddyIt’s so obvious on one level.  A spouse is someone that you are supposed to spend most of your days and the rest of your life with.  So choosing a person that offers a one dimensional relationship is absolutely ludicrous.  It would make for a very long and difficult daily road because all of the other areas of your life would suffer.  The sex would be great but what do you do with the other 23 hours 59 minutes of the day?  Most likely that extra time would be spent trying to makeshift a life with someone who should have been a guilty pleasure but has become a daily burden.

This is a description of a very extreme situation that is probably not realistic to most people.  Almost no one marries their “f#@% buddy” because it makes no sense and few of us would make that foolish decision.  The reason is that it is such a big decision that it would usually get sorted out before the cutting of the cake.  Signs would be so obvious that either self-examination or friends would intervene.  But what happens with the small things?  Marriage is a big decision or at least is should be.  The small decisions might be the ones that sneak through almost undetected.

Each of us has them, the guilty pleasures that we love probably more than we should.  Ice cream, chocolate, Youtube,  beer, physical affection and so many more are pleasureful things in their correct amounts.  However when we “marry” them and make them a central part of our existence, they wield an unbalancing power.  Just like the fictitious marriage that seemed so obviously out of place, relationships with items and experiences can create a burden in the other areas of your life.  It’s easier to dismiss because it is not a person that you need to take home with you.  It’s a thing, a moment in time that you deserve and the consequences will be dealt with later.

So now it is up to you!  Are you married to one of your “f#@% buddies”?  Then choose!  You don’t need to break it off completely (unless you want to).  The key is to put this relationship into its proper context.  See it as it really is and not let it take over.  Then you are available to marry the things and experiences that you really want!

Have a great weekend!

Uncategorized

The Habit of Habits

There are many reasons why I’m thankful for having an older brother.  One of the most important is the idea of having a “scout” in front of me.  On many occasions my brother indirectly taught me things that I could and could not get away with.  Also I was introduced to certain things early enough that the pulls of peer pressure made no lasting impression upon me.  For example I couldn’t have been much older than nine or ten when I tried smoking for the first time.  It was such a horrible experience that I didn’t try it again when my friends did in eighth grade.  So I was able to avoid years of a smoking habit through that one bad experience.

Habits are extremely powerful tools that can lift us up or drag us down.  At certain points habits become so ingrained in us that they feel like part of who we are as people.  So the key to habits is to choose ones that drive us forward and eliminate ones that hold us back.  The question is: how do you create/eliminate habits?

Habits are ingrained because there are neural pathways in our brains that act like highways toward that action.   The number of times that we repeat the action only widens the highway.  However, even a highway has to start somewhere.  Habits start with a cue.  Something that triggers it to begin.  The development of the habit needs to be locked in with some sort of reward the first few times that it happens.  This reward reinforces the behavior.  However the reward does not particularly need to be received every time.  Only consistently enough at the beginning to lock in the habit.  Cues and rewards can vary immensely depending on the habit and the individual.

Habit Creation

You can create positive habits by developing cues and rewards for yourself.  Although you may feel like you’re defrauding yourself at the beginning, the alternative is much worse.  It is much better for you to be tricking yourself into a positive habit rather than advertisers or peers tricking you into a negative one.  The key to habit creation is making it into a cycle.  The cue leads to the action and the action gets rewarded.  Therefore our brain will look for the cue again because it knows where this highway ends and it’s a positive place.

Habit Replacement

Habits cannot be completely eliminated but they can be replaced.  The old habit needs to be overwritten with a new one.  Using the same cue to get a different action and a different reward is the process of replacing a habit.  This is a very deliberate process because the identification of the old cue is the first step to replacing the old habit.

Get into the habit of creating your own habits rather than letting them be created for you.

For a deeper discussion on habits, watch this video with Charles Duhigg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voX0gUn_JOI