The Friday Dose #51

600 Relax and Succeed - Life is a song

Wow, neat stuff in the Dose today. Let’s start off talking about teens. While the brain is always changeable, it’s important to remember that the brain hasn’t even finished building its physical structures until you’re in your mid to late 20’s. And those structures get built by the very experimentation that works fine in a jungle with a tribe, but it can create havoc in a modern teen as they try to accomplish those social experiments within rigid, quasi-Victorian social structures like schools and clocks etc. The very next day another scientist purported to disagree with this, but then he actually spent his entire interview presenting the very same ideas, just in his own way. I’ll admit I’m phrasing this introduction this way because I want to tease any teens that might read it, but hey parents; when you’re talking to a teenager or judging their behaviour, you really do have to remember that you’re literally speaking with someone who’s only got half a brain. 😉 :

The Current on The Teenage Brain

.

I’ve spent my life studying how people store information and ideas in the brain because it’s combinations of those patterns that determine our behaviour and personality. One of the key concerns I’ve had about things like dating sites etc. is that they create a new idea within the framework of dating. There’s always been the saying there’s always more fish in the sea, but that was said if a relationship went bad and the person was single. Now people jump on Match.com or Plenty of Fish like it’s a Kijiji for dating. Don’t like this one, trade it in for that one. And because everyone’s watched edited shows all their life there is this belief that a perfect life is possible. And so people waffle around trying to find the perfect life and in doing so they throw away what are otherwise perfectly good lives. This combines nicely with the posting entitled, Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice, which features an enlightening TED Talk. But before you look at that give this a read and think about sharing it to anyone you know under 30.

This Is How We Date Now

.

I’m not sure how I stumbled onto it, but a while back Lifehack put up a great list of eight things happy people do. If you read my blog nothing on the list will surprise you, but I’m not super big on lists so if you like things presented as concise encapsulations of larger concepts this is a good example. And I’m actually all for it because the shorter something is the more it has to focus on the essence of the subject and that’s the most important part. It’s why poetry is considered writings highest art. Everything is winnowed away but essence. So without further ado, I give you the essence of happiness:

8 Things Happy People Do

.

And let’s close off with some big fun. If you live anywhere north you know the days are short and the weather’s normally cold so let’s brighten winter up with a little fun. I love it when someone comes up with an idea to meld one thing with another in such a way that both things end up better. This is a fantastic idea for a video and I’m glad so many people got to have such a ridiculously good time making it. If you want to cheer yourself up just focus closely on these people’s faces when they figure out what’s going on. It’s just plain fun. Enjoy:

.

.

You have yourself an awesome weekend. And be kind to you.

peace. s

.

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help. Enjoy.

Blinded by Choice

When I divorced seven years ago I expected to be married and having kids within two or three years. I got obsessed with getting remarried but I went on so many bad dates with so many stupid horny guys that I have given up on the idea of being with someone. The challenge now is that I can’t decide what to do with all of this time in my life. Now that I can see all of these non-relationship choices I have I’m overwhelmed by them. I am scared. What if I pick the wrong thing? How do I figure out the right direction for me?

signed,
Blinded by Choice

433 Relax and Succeed - Maybe the journey isn't so much about becomingDear Choice,
(The person who wrote this was very self-conscious about their English and so they asked me to re-write the question, so that’s my phrasing not theirs.)

Okay, so when it comes to your “problem,” I believe this is what the term embarrassment of riches was meant for. I’m very happy to hear that you’ve started to look at what’s there rather than what you perceive as missing. Nothing is ever really missing. We just get attached to certain ideas of permanence and then we act like something is wrong when our ideas don’t align with the ongoing, roiling action-of-being that appears to us as the outside world. In the end nothing is permanent, the only question is, are we present for its transition or some aspect of that transition?

I will not lie: you have every ability to continue returning to that same old bundle of lonely thoughts for the rest of your life if that’s what you choose. You could re-live that identity forever and no one could do anything about your choice of thoughts but you. But you’ve got to ask yourself, why would you choosing those ones? I mean really; that’s worthy of some serious meditation. Because those thoughts hurt. So why choose to think them when they’re so incredibly painful?

433 Relax and Succeed - Find ecstasy within yourselfTo escape this cycle of painful thinking you don’t need a whole new life. You just need to live your current one more consciously. You don’t need some big decision and a grand master-plan for change. You just need to—moment by moment—choose thoughts and experiences that feel good rather than choosing ones that lead you to feel some form of suffering.

All thought-habits are basically addictions so I’m not going to pretend I’m doing anything other than getting you hooked on feeling good, but that’s how we made it here. That’s how mankind and every other animal got the way they are. That’s how the world works. You just move toward what feels good and it all jostles out. It doesn’t need us figuring out some over-arching plan. We just do our bit moment by moment.

Great lives aren’t lives of note. They are lives well lived. If some guy makes all kinds of sacrifices and as a result he wins an Oscar or a Nobel or a Pulitzer or a Tony, you can’t look at him and say, “Oh that guy’s successful. If I would have been as dedicated as him I could have done that.” That may be true. But why would you do that if that’s not what you felt compelled to do?

433 Relax and Succeed - So what if instead of thinking about solving your whole lifeFor all you know that “successful” guy could go home to a marriage that makes him want to club himself to death with his own awards. He could have a debilitating disease. Or a horrible sex life. Or ungrateful children. Or any number of things that would make his life not so impressive to live. It’s not how notable you are that dictates how good your life is. The only measure of a good life is the percentage of moments that were spent at peace or loving, as opposed to how many were spent in torment, or not-loving.

You don’t build a great life by making one that compares well to others. You live a great life by moving boldly and certainly toward your own interests. Don’t waste your precious existence on anything other than discovering all of the wonderful intersections between you and this remarkable world we co-create to live within. And you don’t need a big plan for that.

You just need to be fully in the moment you’re in and choose what feels right for you then. That will still leave you with challenges in life but at least this way you don’t overthink them, and it really is the thinking that’s painful not the living itself so live boldly and have fun.

peace and a big hug. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.