Tag Archives: mind

Incomplete!

IncompleteEach week in fourth grade, we had a folder that contained all of our work.  On Friday, if you had everything done, the word ‘Complete’ was written on your folder and you got to do some craft or game.  If you didn’t have everything done, you received a note of ‘Incomplete’ and you needed to finish your work before getting any free time.  In the entire school year, I think that I was ‘Complete’ only twice.  It took me most of the year to finish my macrame owl due to my limited free time.  I’m quite certain that I only passed fourth grade by the skin of my teeth.  Perhaps I should have (or continue) to feel badly about my incomplete track record or tendency.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t.

Having been raised catholic, part of the prayer for the confession of sins always hit me hardest was be sorry for the things that “I have left undone”.  That’s a long list, even for the most accomplished person in the world.   There are many things that each of us leaves undone everyday.  Should this be a point guilt or shame?  Probably not.  People are not meant to be machines focused on efficiency.  We have choice and can decide what is worth doing.  That discernment of the value in activity should be exercised regularly.

The things that we choose or choose not to do are the elemental level of who we are as people.  None of us is incomplete.  Our choices may not meet with the standards of others but incomplete; NEVER!  You are what you do and the person who must set the standard is YOU.  The world is out there, waiting to see what you’ll do.  Go show it.

Make it a complete day on your terms!

Pete

 

Accidentally Mummifying Yourself

KilimanjaroThe world is filled with things that cut.  Like walking through a patch of thorn bushes with exposed skin, injury is an almost certainty.  In the short term, bandaging the cuts is the right strategy.  In time, the wounds will heal.  If too many cuts pile up, the bandages become wrappings.  You become a mummy.  Movements constrained by the bandages on wounds that never healed.  Avoiding cuts completely is an impossibility but choosing a new path and learning how to wield a machete are both options.  Band aids are not a long term solution, they are a short term fix.  This concept is obvious when thinking about real wounds but with metaphorical wounds, this is a common strategy.

The key has always been preventative medicine/measures.  Solving old problems with solutions that minimize or eradicate the issue is the best way to get better problems.  That is an understanding that everyone needs to have: PROBLEMS AREN’T GOING AWAY!  The most that you can hope for is to have the best problems possible because you’ve solved the old and boring ones.  Why would you choose to flail around in that same old thorn bush when you can figure out how to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

I know that many of you out there are bleeding and it hurts.  My heart goes out to you and I hope that this message will help you move on.  Break free of the thorns and find the path to the mountain where you can see for miles.  It won’t be easy but it may be worth it!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

Small Amoeba Syndrome

The life of the single celled organism, the amoeba, must be tough.  In order to survive, it needs to change its shape in order to “absorb” its food.  It is the ultimate “go-getter” in the microscopic universe.  It’s survival is completely predicated on how much and how often it “puts itself out there”.  A lazy amoeba would be a dead amoeba.

amoebaLiving in the world of higher order organisms, we are not as dependent on stretching ourselves in order to survive.  In fact over the past century we’ve been rewarded for being small amoebas.  Stretching or standing out was discouraged.  Get good grades, get into a good college, do your job and follow the rules.  Being a small amoeba is not as smart as it used to be.  The systems that rewarded the small amoeba are breaking down all over the place and we’re being asked to stretch again.

The opportunities to stretch are all around.  The problem is the same as the amoeba “Am I stretching in a direction that will help me survive?”  The trial an error method is probably a big part of the amoeba’s life and may be required of you.  This is uncomfortable.  The old system was predictable, repeatable and safe.  Even becoming a big amoeba only required adherence to the system that almost told you where to stretch.

The question is not whether the world will require you to stretch or not.  The question is whether you’ll allow yourself to be stretched, pulled apart or reach of your own volition.  Do you believe that you are a small amoeba with very defined limits?  Or are you consistently able to reach out into the void and find what you need and stretch yourself?  You are much less rigid than you think.  Most of your limits are not based on DNA but rather WTT (Willingness To Try).  The old rule book is slowly being torn apart.  You don’t need to go with it.  Reach out into the void and see what you get.  Then do it again!

Keep the Nucleus Strong!

Pete

 

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

 

 

Bock-rottom

bockrottomAbout a year ago, I was having a discussion with a friend and she said she had hit “bock-rottom”.  It was a moment of mental dyslexia.  I really liked the word but wasn’t sure what it should mean.  This morning on my run it became obvious what bock-rottom was.  Rock-bottom is the place lowest point that a person can hit.  “Hitting bock-rottom” is the act of hitting your lowest point, bouncing up and hitting the lowest point again.  It is so disorienting that it mixes up the letters.

Negative circumstances can be so discouraging that they thwart positive action.  Even worse is the discouragement of getting up from poor circumstances only to be knocked down again.  Look at that word again “discourage”.  Break it apart “dis-courage”.  The situation has taken away courage.  The thing is that courage is not created by circumstance, courage is created by people, INSIDE.  It is a choice to be courageous and one that can be made at any time.  Even in the worst of circumstances, courage is possible but are you really at bock-rottom?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re not at bock-rottom.  You’re most likely in the “pit of perception”.  You’ve made the hole that you’re in seem deeper inside your head.  Or you have a negative situation but you’re ignoring all of the positives that are working in your favor.  If you’re reading this, you have advantages that you’re probably ignoring because you’re focused on how bad it is.  You can read, you have internet access, you probably live in the US (but a shout out to my friends in India & Brazil), you have a mind that is searching for answers.  These are all advantages that can be used as weapons in the battle with your poor circumstances.  Complaining, whining and sulking are not going to help you.  Depression is not a strategy!  It’s an emotional state.  Just like a hole, you can climb out of it.

So take a moment to see where you are, since most of us are not truly at bock-rottom.  We’re in a bad spot that we need to get out of.  The fight is yours to make.  Is there any value in giving up?  Don’t surrender to circumstances.  Make your circumstances!  Here’s the theatrical version!

Make today a better day!

Pete

 

Check the Ingredients

IngredientsAt one point in my life, ketchup was not a condiment, it was an ingredient.  Ketchup sandwiches were a staple of my diet.  Any undesirable food such as broccoli could be made digestible with an ample serving of ketchup.  Obviously this is not an ideal system for a balanced diet.  It was more of a survival tactic for an extremely picky eater rather than a conscious decision about eating good food.  Eventually I learned that ketchup was not the answer to all of my food issues.  It wasn’t versatile enough to be an everyday ingredient.

When putting together the ingredients for a great day, it is easy to think of all of the garnishes and forget about the main ingredient.  If asked what are the ingredients to a great day, what would you say?  Sunshine, a beach, friends, family, food, and drink are all things that I typically hear.  People usually don’t lead off with the number one ingredient to every day of their life.  You are the only person that will be there every single moment of every single day of your life.  So shouldn’t you be the first and most important ingredient regardless of all of the garnishes.  No matter the other circumstances that surround you, you should be the ingredient that defines the dish.

JamesEarlJonesDespite the extremely broad reach that the internet gives us, people seem to feel as though they are at the effect of their circumstances.  If circumstances were what made people, then a frail asthmatic doesn’t become a president revered for his adventures.  A stutterer doesn’t become one of the most recognizable voices of his era.  And an actor with a partially paralyzed face doesn’t become the face of multiple film series.  The truth is that we all know that circumstances are only part of the recipe.  It is just easier to use poor circumstances as an excuse for poor results.  Or a lack of resources as a reason for no results.  You may not have everything you need to make today great but you have the most important thing and that is you.  You’re the ingredient that you’ve been waiting for!  If you’ll step up to the challenge and be what today needs.

Go be the best you today!

Pete

 

 

Completely Focused On Being Scattered

In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge famously said that “The business of America is business.”  Almost a full century later, those words are still quoted often enough for it to be recognized.  Since the proliferation of the internet to most households, the pace of information exchange and communication has continued to increase almost exponentially.  The problem is that with so much information flying around, very few people are taking the time to communicate or do anything to the best of their ability.  It seems that with technology as our guide “The business of America is BUSYness.”   There is no soap box under my feet.  I am not chastising, judging or pointing a ridiculing finger.  This post is as much for me as it is for anyone who reads it.

focusDistraction is a way of life in the country at the moment.  Not only is completing tasks without getting distracted difficult but the fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to be an almost pervasive issue.  People have divided their focus between too many activities and are simultaneously getting distracted from them.  It’s a recipe for disaster no matter how you slice it.  No one can be everywhere for everyone every time.  Distraction always comes with a price tag and it is not you who is profiting.  The losses are felt by you, your family, your friends, your colleagues and classmates.  The people who are actually in your life are the ones who are missing out on a key component of their experience and that is you.  All of you, not the partial you that has a technological device in hand “JUST IN CASE!”  The cyborg version of you that cannot let go of the phone, tablet or computer has a distinct weakness, it is never fully present.

So many of our systems are built largely upon attendance but that model is at best flawed and at worst catastrophically broken. Absence, attendance, presence, engagement and immersion are very different levels of an inverted pyramid of human involvement.  While attendance is a nice start, it is just barely above absence and meets only minimum requirements.  Showing up is just not enough.  To really take full advantage of this life that you have been gifted, you must strategically move up the pyramid with the things that you have decided really matter.  And there lies the problem we must DECIDE.  Decide comes from the Latin meaning to cut off.   We must cut off the things that don’t matter in order to preserve the things that do.    Our focus needs to be cut down to that which we value most.

The only person who can win this focus battle for you is you.  Anyone can suggest, plead or punish you to do it but you do not have to comply until you choose.  In the end there are so many companies and individuals who want your focus.  It is your job to divvy it out as you see fit or scatter it without a care.  Where you put your focus determines your life.  If you decide to immerse yourself in Facebook, that is your choice and far be it from me to judge.  As long as it is a decision and not a resignation to the world of distraction.  Choose what you want for yourself before others choose for you.

Pete

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  -Theodore Roosevelt

Temporary Real Estate

RealEstateA plot of sand at the beach, deck chairs at the pool, a spot in line, a seat toward the back of the class and hundreds of other locations are the temporary spots that we mark out for ourselves.  They are important to us only as long as we need them.  Although we know that they are just for now, we defend them and sometimes ruthlessly.  The territoriality of humans and the individually made rules associated with it are complex and seemingly inherent.  We want to have a space to call our own and defend it with fervor.

This phenomena was on full display for me in the past few days when I visited three different amusement parks.  The defensiveness of the space is heightened as the density of people increases.  Also the perceived stakes of the space comes into play heavily.  The value that the individual puts on the space is largely influenced by the scarcity of the “prize” that the space provides.  People waiting in line for entrance into the park are much more defensive than the people in the wave pool waiting to get hit by a wave.  Although it is all temporary, the ownership feels very real.

Ultimately almost all of our space is temporary and will eventually belong to someone else.  Houses, apartments, cars and even our burial plots will eventually belong to another person, creature or to nature itself.  Despite our very temporary hold on these forms of real estate, we spend time protecting and preserving them as if they were indefinite.  There is one place only you will ever own.  Yet many people allow easy access to this space as if it were just a blanket on the beach.

Your mind is your own and will be as long as you defend it.  Like holding your place in line, you need to be aware of those who are trying to sneak in.  Much like the owner of a house who has teenage children, you must be aware of people that you trust having a party at your expense.  No one will care for this space as much as you.  So mark your territory!  Be aware of who is allowed in and who needs to be kept out.  This is your real estate, don’t put it up for auction.

Have a great day!

Pete

The Chewing Tobacco Solution

tobaccoMy cousin who is fifteen years older than me used to go on vacations with my family each summer.  At the time, I was a teenager and he was in his early thirties with a very successful career in retail.  Despite my seemingly inferior station in life, I was able to change his life for the positive with little more than a few words.  I’m hoping that the process can give some hints about making big changes in your life.

It was completely unintentional but it sticks out in my memory as if it were scripted out.  My cousin was and is pretty fanatical about health and fitness.  He would run everyday, do push-ups and sit-ups in order to maintain his chiseled physique.  Despite this relentless pursuit of fitness, he had a habit that seemed out of place to me.  He used chewing tobacco daily.  It wasn’t anything that particularly bothered me.  I had friends who used it.  The thing that felt out of place was that it seemed contrary to all that he valued.  So as we were driving home from North Carolina and he got his spit bottle ready for his next lip full of tobacco, I made the simple statement.  “It seems odd to me that you do that.  You are so healthy in all other parts of your life but you do something that you know is horrible for you.  I just don’t understand.”  That was all that it took.  He didn’t tell me until much later that he had quit using tobacco and that was the reason.

Many of our decisions break down to the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves.  It could be true or it could be bullshit.  The main thing is that the story is effective at moving life forward in a positive manner.  The reason why my simple statement was able to change my cousin so quickly was that it showed an inconsistency in his story about himself.  In that situation, I knew his story about himself and showed him how the tobacco didn’t fit.  People want to stay consistent with the image that they have of themselves.  That’s the entire reason why the term “midlife crisis” exists.  Men (usually) make poor decisions in order to maintain an image that they have of themselves as young, cool, etc.

The first step to changing a behavior in yourself or someone else is to know the person’s story.  What is an identity that they want to uphold at all costs?  Is their family the center of their world?  Do they think of themselves as an athlete?  Do they think of themselves as successful?  Once you know the story, take that thing that needs changing and flip it against their story about themselves.  I keep saying they but I really want you to do this to yourself.  So if your family is extremely important but you are obese, then you actually don’t care about them very much.  If you truly cared, you’d do your best to guarantee that you’ll be around for them.  The combinations of stories and behaviors is infinite.

The key is to find the one that works.  Results are what we are after, not an excuse to feel bad about one’s self.  Your mind can play tricks on you.  It is time for you to play tricks on it to help you get where you want to go.  The possibilities of your tomorrow need to be forged in the thoughts that you have today.

Have a great day!

The Tabernacle

TabernacleIn one of my favorite movies, “Rounders”, there is a character with whom I identify very heavily.  Despite the movie starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, two actors that show up continually in movies that I love, it is a secondary character played by Martin Landau that gets me every time.

For those who have not seen it, a quick synopsis with no spoilers.  Matt Damon plays a talented card player who has sworn off poker after losing big.  He is now in law school and working hard to recover from the loss.  Edward Norton is his best friend who has a troubled past and has just been released from jail.  The movie follows the two friends as they try to pay off old debts, monetary and other.  Martin Landau’s character, Abe Petrovsky, is a law professor who takes a liking to Damon’s character.

Like most characters that enthrall me, it is the reflection of myself in Petrovsky that is engaging.  Earlier in his life, he was disowned by his Jewish family because he did not believe in God.  Law eventually became his religion.  He helps Damon’s character because he feels a form of debt to those who allowed him to be who he was.

Now I am not Jewish and I have no great love for the law.  Catholicism was the chosen religion of my family when I was young.  I attended Sunday school and can recall more biblical text than is probably necessary for someone who is basically agnostic.  Despite my uncertainties about the higher power and all of my reservations about organized religion, there are many things that I carry with me including a sense of duty that springs from that time in my life.

Within most Catholic churches, there is a “box” called the tabernacle that holds the bread wafers and wine that represent the body and blood of Christ.  It is usually given center stage and is ornately decorated.  In this instance, the Catholic church has put emphasis on something that is extremely important to it.  Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, there are things in this world that deserve reverence and special treatment.

In a world where information is everywhere and basically everything is for sale, it is easy to lose sight of the things that are truly important.  Luckily, God, Nature, Infinite Intelligence or whatever other force you might believe in has given us our own “tabernacles” for the truly important things.  Two of your possessions are encased so deliberately that it is difficult not to recognize their importance: your mind and your heart.

In very real terms, you exist within your mind.  Every feeling, sight, smell, taste and memory is housed within the tabernacle of your skull.  This should be a most prized possession.   It should be protected, exercised, challenged and never abused.  It should be fed with ideas and filled with memories that make it want to create more.  The day should never come where it is left to the complete care of someone else.  It is almost all that you have.

Then there is the heart which keeps you alive.  Two hearts exist: the physical heart and the emotional heart.  The physical heart should be cared for and exercised.  Neglecting or abusing it will only end in pain.  The emotional heart is also key to your survival.  Although it also needs protection, it needs to be extended to people without safeguard at times.  It should not stay in the figurative tabernacle at all times.  If it does then it wilts and dies in a way that is more tragic than the stopping of the physical heart.

These are just two of things that we should hold sacred in a world that dismisses most things without a price tag.  In your life, I’m sure that there are others.  You don’t need to put them in an ornate box but rather give them what they deserve from you.

I have been given so many things “and for that I owe.”

Pete