How to construct beneficial meaning from ALL life experiences

This is one of the most beneficial commencement speeches there is, providing you with how to construct a life you love, everyday.

The speech was given by David Foster Wallace.

If you would like to just read the Main Ideas from this speech, scroll down to almost the bottom where there is a Main Ideas Section.

Audio & Transcript below.

Enjoy!

 

 

“Greetings, thanks, and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. 

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” 

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. 

The story thing turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. 

The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.

Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course, the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. 

So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think.”

If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. 

But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. 

If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.

Here’s another didactic little story:

There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. 

And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’” 

And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”

It’s easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. 

Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from inside the two guys.

As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice…

Plus, there’s the whole matter of arrogance. 

The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. 

True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. 

But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. 

Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. 

We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. 

But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. 

Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. 

The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. 

Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted”, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. 

Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education–least in my own case–is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.

As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). 

Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. 

Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.”

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in..the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.

That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in day out” really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again.

But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work, you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course, it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. 

And the store is hideously flourescently lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of you graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. 

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. 

Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. 

Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. 

About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way.

‘And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.’

Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest (responds here to an applause) —See this is an example of how NOT to think, though — most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. 

And I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. 

Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. 

Because it’s hard. 

It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness.

Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends on what you want to consider. 

If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. 

But if you really learn how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. 

The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. 

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. 

On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. 

Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along on the fuel of fear and anger and frustration and craving and the worship of self. 

Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and displaying.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. 

The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life before death.

*It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.’

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really is the job of a lifetime. And it commences, now.

I wish you way more than luck.”

 

 

 

Main Ideas

“The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”

“Because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.”

“If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.”

“The exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience.”

“But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.”

“The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties… Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.”

“Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence.”

“Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on.  Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.”

“It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”

“Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education–least in my own case–is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.
As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now).”

“Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.
It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”

“And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.”

“The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop.
Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way.”

“If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.”

“Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.”

“If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable.
But if you really learn how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred.”

“The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.”

“You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.”

“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.”

“Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear.
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings.
They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.”

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race.”

“The capital-T Truth is about life before death.”

The Collapse & Renewal of “The System”

Can you feel it?

The tensions rising along with the sea levels.

Awareness rising in the corruption that has contaminated the entire world from micro to macro levels and everything in between.

I know you can feel it. I can too.

We’re coming to a tipping point in the Systems we’ve built throughout the previous centuries.

These Systems can’t last if we want to last as a human race.

The game of Power, Corruption, and Deception are fading, making way for an up to date and well founded System.

Is it difficult to believe that it’s possible to have Systems built on Trust, Cooperation, Shared Success, and Forgiveness that disciplines with love and does not punish mindlessly?

When a baby is learning to walk and they fall, do you punish them?

Do you tell them “You’re no good. You’re never going to be able to walk. Don’t even try it. Go to your crib.”

Or do you lift them up and encourage them, knowing that they will walk one day.

In life, when we humans are learning to “human,” and we make a mistake we are usually punished for it.

There’s no love in punishment so there’s no real growth. I understand if you believe there is love in punishment because that is what recent generations have been raised to believe. But many many studies show how punishment is not working!

Here is an article from Psychology Today discussing the many ways punishment impacts your child, including how punishment does not teach your child accountability. Also 10 ways to guide children without punishment is included in this article.

Here is a Pinterest page sharing many articles on how to love your kids and others unconditionally as well as how to deal with aggressive or inappropriate behavior in others.

I don’t know the full solution but I do know that discipline with love would help.

Is that hard to do? Absolutely.

And it’s easy to punish.

We all know that beautiful things take time to flourish, such as a flower. It needs cared for and nurtured to grow. If we punish the flower by cutting part of it off it will never be able to blossom into the flower it is meant to become.

Of course there will be resistance and some discomfort against the new System, as there is with all fights for justice, but in the end “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,” as MLK Jr. once said.

They say if it’s not broken don’t fix it…But we’ve got ourselves a broken System.

I do love my country but don’t you also want a better life for future generations of all backgrounds?

Education. Politics. Athletics. Business. Hollywood. And just about all current Systems have some corruption within them.

You can’t blame them though. That’s just how it’s been. 

But it’s a new day. It’s a new era.

The shame blame game will hopefully come to an end and love with discipline can take its place.

No one is perfect, and until we can fully realize that and change how we deal with all our imperfections and how we treat each other, we just won’t last.

Who am I to write this? Just a flawed fellow human on this journey of life, trying to figure it out.

But we adapt. That’s what we do as humans. Look at history.

Shall we adapt once more?

If you believe in a new System you might also like this relative & unique rap song I recorded in the studio called “Cloud 9”

What methods do you believe would contribute to a more stable and just System?

6 Human Needs; Why all people do what they do

3

This post mainly comes from the ideas of the great Tony Robbins while I only add to it.

You are seeking emotions and experiences. After researching experts, I have found that there are six basic, universal needs that drive ALL human behavior. Every human being has these needs, but we each put different VALUE on these needs. Our focus on these needs will determine the direction of our life!  What need will you live for?

The six human needs include:

1) Certainty

2) Significance

3) Variety

4) Love/Connection

5) Growth

6) Contribution

Each of these needs influence every single human being’s life, and by understanding the needs that shape your behavior, you can take control of your life, and create new habits that lead you to the life you’ve been dreaming of living.

What do you think the most addictive thing in the world is???

Find out in a few paragraphs, it’s not what you think.

Before we get more into our human needs, lets look at how DECISIONS shape our destiny, and our decisions of course are intertwined with our needs.

Decision is the ultimate power. Decisions shape destiny.

There are 3 Decisions we are making EVERY moment of our lives:

1) What am I going to focus on?  Focus=feeling.  Past/present/Future…Self or others?

2) What does it(this situation/experience) mean? Is it the end or the beginning?  Are you being punished or rewarded?

3)What are your going to do? Are you going to give up or move forward?

We make these decisions consciously or unconsciously.**

Lance Armstrong for example could have focused on his cancer but he continued to focus on biking and being the best. He continued to win!

Rosa Parks.  Her focus was that she could change the world for her kids or grandkids instead of focusing on what she was told to do.  She wouldn’t go to the back of the bus & she changed the whole world!

Entrepreneur Tony Robbins also has an incredible story.  When he was a eleven years old with a very broke family and no food for Thanksgiving, a stranger came to his house on Thanksgiving to give them a turkey.  Tony’s angry father and himself had VERY different PERSPECTIVES/FOCUSES on this event that went like this:

Tony’s Father: His 3 decisions: Focus was “this is charity” What does it mean “I am worthless” What do I have to do? “Leave my family.” Which he did…

Tony’s focus:  There’s food!  What does it mean? “Strangers care about me and other people.”  What am I going to do?  “I’m going to do something to make a difference.” Six years later he started feeding families when he was 17. Slowly but surely he built a foundation and has fed millions of people all over the world.

Your FOCUS determines much of your life. Try to be intentional and conscious of what you focus on.

& The most addictive thing in the world is….

Most people will guess wrong. The answer is Problems.

**Most people find a way to feel significant by having a significant problem.  Problems are the safest way to connect with others and not be rejected. Problems are the biggest addiction in our culture.

And SiGNIFICANCE is one of the six human needs!!! Think about your life. Do you connect and feel significant through problems? And are you happy with constantly talking about problems or do you want to live a life with less complaining?

***Instead of just looking at peoples’ behaviors, see their attempts to meet their needs.***

A few insights into the 6 human needs:

1) Certainty

  • People like to be certain, to have financial security, to trust people and experiences. But too much certainty makes us bored, so we need some variety.

2) Variety

  • People like good surprises, if it’s a bad surprise they call it a problem.

3) Significance

  • We all need to feel important, special, unique..People do this in so many different ways-tattoos, religion, joining a group..etc..One of the quickest way some people feel significant is through Violence. Violent things happen each day, just watch the news; these people have a striving for significance, as well as some big mental problems..I encourage you to be significant in a positive way.  Join some great groups, read, write, travel.

4) What we really need is Connection & Love

  • Connection and love are like rain to a garden of flowers, they make us grow.  Surround yourself with people who support and love you. I am so thankful for my family because of their love. Also if you are feeling down and depressed, get a pet. Dogs will love you and are always happy to see you.  Cats are different, but they can show love to their owners as well.

Every human finds a way to meet the first 4 needs. What will your FOCUS be to meet these needs???

The next two needs create fulfillment!

5) Growth

If you don’t grow, you die. Relationships, businesses, self, etc.

  • We grow when we have something to give of value. So don’t always be thinking of yourself..I know it’s hard, but try to get out of yourself for awhile & see what you can give to others that can help them. EVERYONE has something great to contribute, but it can be very difficult to find it. Start by donating food or clothes, or doing something small for someone. It feels amazing and will help you grow. It’s funny how a selfless act will ultimately help you too.

6) To Contribute beyond ourselves

  • Growth and Contribution are intertwined. You grow by contributing.  Contribution=growth.

“The secret of living is giving.”

“It’s not about me, it’s about we.” Tony Robbins

People truly get excited to contribute once they experience it and not just talk about it.

We ALL have the same needs, but whatever need leads us will lead us to our destination.

People all try to meet the same needs, but we do it in different ways. A firefighter saves lives for significance while someone else kills a person for significance.

Try to appreciate how people are attempting to meet their needs, explore your decisions, and give.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO FOCUS ON?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

45 Life Lessons

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  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. Save for retirement, starting with your first paycheck.
  9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  12. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  14. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  15. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  16. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  17. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  19. Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  20. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
  21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  23. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  25. Forgive everyone everything.
  26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  27. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  29. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  30. Believe in miracles.
  31. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  32. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  33. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  34. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  35. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  36. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  37. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  40. The best is yet to come.
  41. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  42. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  43. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

These are all so good.  I read this a few times!  Credit to Regina Brett.  Which is your favorite??

Get more free time by using Parkinson’s Law!

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Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted to its completion.

We work on things with a given deadline, but if we have no deadline we will take up all sorts of time wasting it.

Example—Someone who has a leisure day with no deadlines can spend the whole day writing an easy college essay that is due the next day.  This essay should take no more than one hour, but lets see what happens…

The person wakes up slow, makes coffee and eats, showers, and 1-2 hours is gone.  They look at what they have to do for a few minutes then get distracted with social media and surfing the web for an hour.  Decide to watch Netflix for an hour or two, and the day is almost evening..

..They open up their paper and work on it for about 5 minutes before getting distracted and going back to checking out social media.  This cycle continues for hours until they finally begin and finish the paper around midnight.  The paper would have only taken at most an hour to finish, but this person believed they did not need to finish it first thing in the morning so they took all day to do it.  They did not have a specific deadline for the paper!

This is similar to a typical 9-5 workday where many people babble their days away with coworkers in pointless conversation.  There have been studies done about how much people actually work throughout the day at their 9-5 jobs and the average does actual work-related tasks about half of the time.

Useless meetings, lunch and water breaks, surfing the web and other distracting things take them away from “what they should be doing.”  And if their bosses allow it, I would do it too!  If a boss gives an employee a week to do something, that person will take the full week to lazily do that task, when it could be done in a much shorter time if given a shorter deadline. Check cartoon below↓↓↓

Parkinsons2

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”  I can’t say it enough.

By assigning the right amount go time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.

Parkinson’s Law works because people give tasks longer than they really need, for different reasons, because they have an inflated idea of how long the task will take to complete.  **You can’t realize how quickly some tasks can be completed until you test this principle.

Work smarter, not harder…when most people are working harder and not smarter.

A practical way for you to complete goals/tasks faster:

  • Make a list of your tasks for the day, week, month, etc.  and divide them up by the amount of time you think it will take to complete them.  Then write down half of that time that you first gave yourself to complete each task!  Make sure you view your deadlines just as crucial as you would if completing it for a boss.
  • Stop checking your phone and email every 15 minutes and take 45-60 minutes of focused time to only work on your main task.

When you begin applying Parkinson’s Law to your life and your tasks, you will begin to be more productive than you’ve ever imagined.

Please share and comment, letting me know your thoughts and how Parkinson’s Law has helped you!

My 3rd, 4th and 5th Weeks in Denver

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Crazy that I’ve already been in Colorado for a month. Time goes by fast when you’re living life to the fullest! —My car ride seemed like it took a whole month to get here; although it was less than 24 hours. Anyway here is what I have been up to the past few weeks:

During my third week in Denver I moved into my new apartment! No more sleeping on a couch. The hot tub and pool at the apartment complex were some big deciding factors, even though they are being renovated currently and I haven’t used them yet! So I moved all my stuff into the apartment, chatted with the new roommates-they are super chill and awesome. I also went to an orientation for substitute teaching after hours of paperwork to get there. I was outside most of the week really just hanging out with friends and enjoying the week before I started teaching. The weekend was fun, and then I began teaching during my 4th week here.

Monday I taught at a pretty rough school. I have previously been working with juvenile delinquents so I thought that teaching at all these schools would be a breeze…not so much. I taught freshman Biology that Monday and these freshman definitely challenged me and tested my patience but I made it through the day. Tuesday I taught a French middle school class. They were filled with sooo much energy-The classroom got loud, so I got a little loud back. Wednesday was amazing! I worked as a physical education teacher and the school does “team teaching” where some teachers work together for the lessons. This made classes very easy and the day flew by. Thursday as a middle school math teacher was okay; some classes were great and some weren’t. Friday I was a math teacher at the school I was at on Monday so I was ready for chaos, but since it was a different class with different students it wasn’t bad. Only one class was out of pocket. Substitute teachers experience all sorts of interesting situations throughout the day, and I was already beginning to experience these things.  Overall it was a decent first week of teaching.

My 5th week and 2nd week of teaching here…This week was a lot better than last week as far as teaching goes. Monday I taught gym at an Elementary school and it was awesome. I got to play basketball and other sports with the students as we jammed out to music. Tuesday and Wednesday I was a floater. They needed me as a 4th grade teacher on Tuesday-I was not the happiest about this, but I do what they need me to do. The kids were crazy. Wednesday was okay. I taught another loud group of students, but I did get to leave early so that was awesome. I went to a park after school and played some football with a friend. Thursday was the best day of the week for teaching!! I was a high school gym teacher and the students listened and behaved so well. I was at a great school and I got to run and workout with students in each class. The teacher I was subbing for had a prep period at the end of the day so I got to leave a little early again! Good times. Friday was a good day too. I was a math teacher at a pretty good school and some of the kids had really funny jokes. I laughed a lot during the first period class.

A few things I have learned while working with students:  Be patient, listen, and from the start make sure they know what rules and expectations they should follow.

In my free time I have been reading, writing, playing Fifa with friends, going to parks, working out, and I bought a new laptop!

“I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something greater than you, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.”