In terms of experience

Photo by Wells Baum
Photo by Wells Baum

You can study, analyze, and download all the information in the world but it means nothing without action.

The only true hack is the experience. The courage of your convictions, of choosing yourself, helps put the bones in the goose that stockpile many lives.

When you negotiate with your surroundings, it’s easier to treat setbacks as passing clouds. The longer one can reinvent and adapts themselves, the more exciting life’s experiment becomes.

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Religion is an antidote to stress

American neuroendocrinologist and author Robert Sapolsky is a self-proclaimed atheist but he still believes in the health benefits of religion, with an emphasis on its benevolent and social qualities.

When you’re religious you have fewer lifestyle risk factors. The mere ability to perceive causality, reason, benevolence—“Benevolence especially for people like me if I say the right combination of words and fervently believe in it”—that’s wonderfully protective and there’s health benefits to it.

If it is a totally heartless indifferent apathetic universe out there you are far more at risk for all the logical things which is to conclude it is an utterly depressing universe out there.

Rates of depression are much higher among atheists… Go figure.

It feels good to believe

Religion is a useful tool that provides comfort against the unpredictable nature of life. If it works for you, keep practicing it.

 

Running through the Alps

For runner Joe Grant, freedom is the rhythm of effort colliding with focus. The ability to unthink and just do it sets him free.

“When your mind lets go of things and attentiveness is not forced…that’s when you tap into a feeling of freedom.”

It can be challenging to tame the incessant honking from the monkey mind, especially when we’re roaming ahead with no destination in mind.

But we can achieve flow, moving like water over rocks in stride with the magnetic forces of the land.

Andy Warhol: ‘As soon as you stop wanting something you get it’

“At the times in my life when I was feeling the most gregarious and looking for bosom friendships, I couldn’t find any takers, so that exactly when I was alone was when I felt the most like not being alone. The moment I decided I’d rather be alone and not have anyone telling me their problems, everybody I’d never even seen before in my life started running after me to tell me things I’d just decided I didn’t think it was a good idea to hear about. As soon as I became a loner in my own mind, that’s when I got what you might call a ‘following.’ As soon as you stop wanting something you get it. I’ve found that to be absolutely axiomatic.”

‘Trust that your intuition is leading you somewhere.’

The Love Mindset

“A leaf does not resist the breeze. A goose does not resist the urge to fly down south. Is this not happiness? Is this not freedom? To access this incredible state, we need only one thing: Trust. Trust that, when you are not holding yourself together so tightly, you will not fall apart. Trust that it is more important to fulfill your authentic desires than listen to your fears. Trust that your intuition is leading you somewhere. Trust that the flow of life contains you, is bigger than you, and will take care of you—if you let it.”

 
— Vironika Tugaleva, The Love Mindset: An Unconventional Guide to Healing and Happiness

Einstein’s theory of happiness

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Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

In 1922, short off his Nobel prize in physics, Einstein traveled to Tokyo to deliver a 4-hour lecture at the Imperial Palace. But he also left someone an important message on happiness.

Out of tip money at his hotel, Einstein instead gave his Japanese courier a nugget of wisdom:

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

In other words, be a little more tortoise-y and a little less harish. Nearly a century later, Einstein is still reminding us to enjoy life’s process.

Einstein’s Note On Happiness, Given To Bellboy In 1922, Fetches $1.6 Million

We never know where we’re going until we get there

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All photos by Wells Baum

We never know where we’re going until we get there. Sprinkles of clues pique our curiosity along the way, our mind attracted to them like a magnet.

Gathering years, we take in ideas, perspectives, and discover insights. The mind hunts for grains in the obvious, the obscure, both in the environment and in other people’s minds. Gathering string, we lace it through the freedom of trial and error.

Propelled by the unknown road ahead, we keep walking through the maze of uncertainty. Thoughts simmer in the back of our minds.

It is the contradictions that always make the journey more interesting. A hesitant radical, we dissect what’s clear and unclear in unquenchable persistence.

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Seeing non-existent patterns

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Photo by Wells Baum

The forces that bind together meaning aren’t always strong, nor are they credible. Your inner-dialogue is like a bank: the more you put into it, the more it wants to synch patterns between disparate events.

We look at the world through the context of our collected experiences. We choose what sticks around to arm us for the uncertainty that the future brings. Carl Jung once said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” But what if our mind manufactures stories of coincidental events? Imagination tends to hyperbolize reality.

Perhaps there are no gravitational forces; everything is just a game of chance despite our aim to corroborate our beliefs with supposed facts. When we try to find meaning in everything, we often end up with an incomplete picture.

Certainty tries to assert itself as the dream of man. But when we learn to relax our beliefs, we realize that there are only a few items in life that deserve our scarce attention. Everything else should be left to chance.

There’s a still of rhythm to be found in between the cacophony of noises where we decide what we want to hear.

The cost for convenience

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It doesn’t take too much convincing to bend the will of the well-intentioned.

People are fickle. Show them a better deal, and they’ll chase it, jettisoning their commitment to trusted relationships.

Care and experience are the first to go in exchange for convenience. Having your books and groceries delivered to your doorstep saves time, but it also prevents the happy accidents of bumping into a friend at the market or overhearing an interesting chat in the philosophy aisle.

The compromise for conveniency — texting over calling, shopping in your pajamas, etc. — is a loss in real human exchange. It’s easier to tweet when you’re hiding behind a mask.

Be open to change

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You are elastic, not stagnant.

“A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly.”

— André Gide

You may not be a morning person now. But you might be when you have kids.

You may not think of yourself as a meditator, but after listening to Tara Brach, you may become hooked.

You may have loved drinking chocolate milk and eating fruity pebbles as a kid. But do you still consume them as an adult?

You may order an espresso each morning until someone introduces to you the Americano or flat white.

And so forth…


You’re made to change, in small and significant ways. To think who you are today is final is nonsense, an illusion that falsely imagines the end of your own history.

“We all think that who we are now is the finished product: we will be the same in five, 10, 20 years. But, as these psychologists found, this is completely delusional – our preferences and values will be very different already in the not-so-distant future.”

Perhaps instead we should ‘practice becoming,’ as Kurt Vonnegut so wisely encouraged.

Want to be happier and more fulfilled in life? Learn to be open to change

How to practice effectively

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Everything is practice. Practice is everything. “Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement.”

Biologically speaking, practice strengthens the neural tissue, specifically the fatty substance myelin which enhances the runway for brains to communicate effectively with the muscles.

The 10,000-hour rule of deliberate practice doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvement. The training needs to be effective. Below are four tips for ensuring that quality meets quantity.

Tips on how to practice effectively

1 — Focus on the task at hand. Minimize distractions like TV and social media. Put your smartphone on airplane mode or throw your phone into the ocean.

2 — Start out slowly and then increase the speed of repetition. Raising the pace builds up the likeliness of performing the task correctly.

3 — Practice frequently with allotted breaks. Professionals practice 50 – 60 hours per week.

4 — Practice in your brain by reinforcing the skill with your imagination.

We forget the mundane and remember the weird

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We tend to forget the mundane and remain loyal to the weird. What’s uninteresting remains unremembered. What peers into the mind eye’s with a little humor and exaggeration is the stuff that sticks.

Too ordinary becomes unextraordinary, not silly enough to make a significant dent.

Try not thinking about a purple cow, rainbow-striped zebra, or dog driving a pick-up truck. Now try to forget it 😉

You have to fake sleep to get to sleep. See! It’s the weird that binds.

Low brain activities

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  • TV
  • YouTube
  • Social media

People enjoy low brain activities because it gives them the option to unthink. Whether it’s movies or endless Instagram scrolling, the images are there telling us what to think.

Reading or listening to music, on the other hand, may take your mind places. As Ray Bradbury once put it, books create a ‘theater inside your head.’

When you pursue the answers out of passiveness, the mind takes a seat. Idleness is ok in moderation.

No one’s waiting for you to get off the couch and exercise your imagination. The door to exceptional wonder is open at all times.

Look, imagine, and remember

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“In order to think we must speculate with images.” — Aristotle

It’s impossible to remember anything without seeing the image in our head first. With a little effort, we can activate our brains to become conscious recorders.

But the banality of everyday life tends to dull the senses. Blind to routines which automate thinking, we float by the external world without acknowledging its subtleties. Mobile phones further exacerbate attention; some people admit that the addictiveness of the rectangular glow makes walking harder.

We must force ourselves to look for distinctiveness. No one ever forgets a purple cow or rainbow zebra, even if it’s a figment of our imagination.