September 2019

Walk Talk #1 – Addiction and Changing Your Environment

Preamble:

– Talking about walking, sometimes walking in the city gets loud
– Walking in nature, it’s more freeing and feels alive
– Having a conversation with yourself, helps you clear your mind
– The gravel under my feet makes the walk seem more real
– Steep, more inclined, some kind of rhyme?
– It is the last day of summer or at least close, it’s warm and feels like summer

Addiction:

– Working from home, less stress, less coffee- Rat Park (call it city in the conversation) was an experiment that looked at addiction. It suggested that addition was a result of the environment rather than the enjoyment of drugs.
– People are overweight, there is an opioid crisis, people are dying of preventable diseases. Could this be about our environment? Could it be a way to deal with the stress?
– Junk environment = junk behaviour = junk addictions

Getting Out of Your Environment:

– Safety Behaviour, drinking water to feel better
– Walking and talking, talking and walking, self-therapy
– Different places mean different states of mind. Different environment means different habits, can we get over addictions this way?
– Act and behave different, a new place frees us to think in a different way, see our problems differently.
– A big way I did this in my life, was by moving to South Korea for a year- Having a ‘new’ life helped me figure out what I needed and wanted to do
– That new view of life gave me direction, lead me to web development and what I currently do in IT.
– The smell of the river gives me nostalgia of Korea, maybe that is inspiring these ideas.

Rounding it up:

– Going back to an old environment, there is a risk of returning to old habits and addictions, but the direction can help with that.
– My time in Korea was some of the most enlightening experiences of my life. Learned about who I was.
– Changing your environment is the best way to get out of habits and addictions.
– A walk helps you forget the world around you, for a bit
– Talking and walking is talk therapy, walk, talk Get things out!

Subway Thoughts

Script:

Welcome to the clown world, this isn’t crypto-fascism!

This is the world as it stands, an insane joke that keeps on happening.

Don’t listen to the noise, it is there to get you looking outside of what you already know to be the truth.

Try not to deceive, because that is the name of the shame.

No matter how the world turns continue to play a fair game.

Say what is going on, tell people what is up, banish all the lies that try to fill us up.

Can you believe what you see with your very own eyes?

It is hard to say, but either way, for what it’s worth, this is the way things have come to define our worth.

Outflow the words, inflow the thoughts. But this isn’t about oughts, but thoughts are a type of ought, so we ought to take ourselves serious and tell the world what we know.

But what is it all about, to shout and telling the truth!

Crisis In Meaning

Script:

There is a genuine crisis of meaning in our world. Examples of this could be the opioid crisis, increase in deaths of despair, Trumpism, Brexit and the rise of extremism.

These are signs of the times, in that people have lost trust in the things they typically used to believe in. Take the mainstream news, it is losing interest and ratings while people flock to alternative sources on the internet.
You can look on youtube, and see the traditional promoted mainstream media content getting little attention. While people like PewDiePie suck up tons of interest and views.

This all comes down to the idea that people no longer believe in the institutions of which they used to rely upon. It used to be a thing where we could believe the TV news, newspaper and politician would tell the truth. But now we have alternative sources telling us different stories that seem as likely to be true.

We have the break down of the Ivy league prestige, where we’ve discovered that they are pay to play credential farms. They are where people who have lots of money send their kids so they can be greeted with open doors and get respectable jobs.

On top of this, the news industry is filled with people coming from these schools. So in a sense, you have a generation of people experiencing a completely different reality, telling everyone else how to think. Many of these people lack the perspective of the ‘every person,’ and they know little about ‘real’ life.

In a way, this is the cracking of the surface of what our parents told us to do. Work hard, get into a good school, get a good job. But in a lot of cases, getting into a good school is fixed, and getting a reasonable education cost so much that you can never live a normal life afterwards. So the question becomes, who does it work for?

In a lot of ways, getting an education was an excellent way to get ahead in life and live a meaningful life. But that seems to be going away, and there are lots of people doubting the value of education these days.

On top of that, there is a rise in part-time, mobile phone related work. In the UK, they have zero-hour contracts; in North America, we have a generation of contractors.

These days, when you go to a restaurant, more people are picking up food to be delivered then there are people eating there.

You could say, people are taking these sorts of jobs for freedom. But I suspect people take these jobs because it is all they can get, or they need the extra money just to keep on living.

In other words, it is not so much that people want these jobs; it is that these are the only types of jobs available.

Then you hear that 14,000 new jobs were created. But I wonder, was that not 7000 people signing up for Uber and Lyft, so two part-time jobs that are one part-time job. That said, it could be even worse, how many of these jobs are food delivery?

This all comes down to a question, of how much meaning we can still get from work? Is work only a pay-check and nothing else? Sure for many people that has always been the case, but it seems to be getting worse.
On top of this, so much of the stuff we used to take for granted is fading way. Few people show up for elections and vote; we have less trust in our governments and money.

You could say people feel that things are good and don’t need to change. Or you could say that people have lost hope in the value of their vote or the people they can vote for. A pillar of western society is fading away without concern.

In many ways, this crisis of meaning is becoming a more significant thing. So much of our lives are missing meaning, or purpose is fading away. We can no longer rely on the lessons from our parents and the ways they did things because that doesn’t work anymore.

What’s funny about all this is that our modern lives have tried to hide the old ways of finding meaning in our lives. For many people, the things we have, the jobs we work, the money we make is what we think should matter.

But, if we look back at some more traditional values. Like finding a partner, starting a family, and keeping in touch with your parents, these things are important but seemingly discouraged. At the same time, those are precisely the types of things that will give our lives more meaning now.

Social media encourages us to ‘talk’ with people online, but what about talking to people in real life? Admittedly, we seem to have more friends, but do we still have real friends? Now, more than ever, loneliness is becoming a problem, yet we are more connected than ever before.

Along with this new technology, has come an emphasis on upgrading our skills and being better employees. But what about doing things that we like but have no economic value? Couldn’t those sorts of things help us live more meaningful lives?

Take drawing a picture, you might not make any money doing it, but you will feel better about flexing your creativity muscles.

In a lot of ways, there are all sorts of things we can do to make our lives more meaningful. In some ways, they might go against the things we think we are supposed to do. But then again, many of those things don’t seem to make sense anymore.

That is what this crisis is all about. It is about searching for things that can make life more meaningful. It is also about adding more meaningful things to our lives. On top of this, we need to put in extra effort to seek meaning, because the world around us, is always telling us that life is meaningless.
This is why I wrote my book, “How to be amazing, a manifesto.” It came out of a feeling of meaninglessness, but it covers 42 ways to make life more meaningful.

It is about finding meaning for yourself and on your own terms. At the same time, it is also about finding meaning in what you are already doing. We often forget, but it is important to know that what we are doing now is meaningful; even if it doesn’t feel that way when you look at the world around you.

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Think For Yourself

Script:

Over the last few days, a couple of interesting things have happened. These events have got me thinking that many people don’t think for themselves, rather they think like other people. But it isn’t even thinking. Instead, they are taking other peoples ready-made ideas.

Before telling these stories, I’d like to say I’m not usually this confrontational. No doubt, I am a contrarian, but I’m not a troll or trouble maker.

To start, a couple of friends were talking about Shopify. Shopify is one of the biggest online store website builders. You pay some money, and they help you set up a website where you can sell you stuff.

While on the topic, someone said, “There was this thing about how Breitbart was using Shopify. People wanted the store shut down. But the CEO of Spotify said, ‘freedom of speech’ and did nothing about it.”

I replied, “That’s great, at least someone is standing up to this BS censorship.”

After saying that, they looked at me like I was crazy and some kind of alt-right nut job. Sensing the tension, I asked, “Have you ever read Breitbart?” The response was silence; they hadn’t been to the site before. But they knew it was bad because someone on the internet said so.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Breitbart is a good source of news or anything like that. I’ve looked at it at some point in the past, but its, not something I read or care about.

Some people will disagree and believe we should police the internet and ideas. But instead, I’d suggest that if you don’t like something, you shouldn’t read it, consume it or give it money.

I know this could become a slippery slope, so let me say that there are things that could be censored, but Breitbart isn’t one of them. If anything it’s stupid, but there is plenty of stupid on the internet.

That said, it isn’t up to me to decide what is good for someone else. But surely, conservative opinions or ideas I disagree with shouldn’t be censored just because.

In another conversation with a family member, we were talking about the situation in Hong Kong. He was saying he read something that said the USA was involved.

I asked him if he thought that was true, he said: “I didn’t think so, because it came from an alt-right website.” I asked, “How did you know it was an alt-right website?” He didn’t have an answer.

No doubt, Hong Kong is a complicated situation, so knowing the truth of that matter is difficult. But does information from an alternative source make that opinion wrong?

Let me hypothesize a little. I suspect that he wasn’t on an alt-right website at all. Instead, it was alternative news. I say this because as we talked, he said, “The USA thing couldn’t be true because I couldn’t find it on the mainstream news.”

This statement is controversial, but it does get to the heart of the issue. People are more willing to accept the idea if it comes from sources they think they should trust like The New York Times, CNN, or the BBC.

These are good sources, as they are very popular and well respected. At the same time, they aren’t always at the cutting edge of ideas, and they have their own biases.

I don’t want to dive into the bias thing, as there are lots of topics that the media won’t or can’t touch for whatever reason. So, when we rely on The New York Times or the BBC for our ideas, there is always a limit on what they are willing to cover.

This brings up the Overton window, which is the range of topics that are acceptable to talk about. Things outside the Overton window, tend to make people upset, so we don’t often hear about them.

On the other side of the coin, the alternative media tends to ignore the Overton window. This means that it is not as limited in what it can cover. Some people may say the information covered in the alternative media is extreme, but I don’t think that is completely true.

My point is that the Overton window sets what people can talk about, but it also limits what people can talk about. In a way, it prevents conversations about topics outside of what is normal.
But in some ways, it could be suggested that those are the things that matter.

In our current political climate, it seems that ideas outside the Overton window are often labelled as fake news. The thing is, this isn’t the case, as there are lots of valid opinions, ideas, and observations that you won’t find in the New York Times.

I was talking to another acquaintance, on the topic of Paw Patrol came up. They said, “From what I’ve read, it is sexist.” I asked, “Have you ever watched it before?” The answer was no.

This is interesting because the type of person who would have a problem with Paw Patrol wouldn’t be your average viewer. They’d likely be some kind of critic on social issues.

Admittedly, of the five main pups, only one is a girl, but I’m not sure they are boys or girls, because they are cartoon dogs. To this point, the humans in the show are obvious in their genders, but they are also a diverse group in general.

In the past, I’ve had similar conversations about Jordon Peterson. Most people tell me he is bad and dangerous, while others have more neutral opinions. But almost always, when someone has a strong negative opinion, they have not seen the source.

Instead, they have almost always read someone else’s opinion. My first response is almost always, “You should watch some of his videos and see what you think.”

The people I’ve had these interactions with are all well educated, and generally successful people. Very few of them think for themselves about things they seemingly had strong opinions about.

In all these cases, the people relied on the options of others rather than going to the source themselves.

I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t trust ‘reliable’ sources. Rather, I’m suggesting we should be open to seeing things for ourselves rather than jumping to conclusions.

Surely some ideas are bad, but if you’ve not heard those ideas than you don’t know how bad or good they are. I’m not saying you should seek out bad ideas, rather if you aren’t interested in ideas, then ignore it. But if you are serious about a topic, then you need to look at the good and bad, you can’t just ignore half of the argument.

I realize the ‘alt-right’ is controversial and Jordan Peterson is sometimes labelled a member. But he isn’t alt-right at all, he is just conservative.

That said, Conservatism isn’t necessarily bad, surely a wide range of perspectives is the best approach to any question. That said, we shouldn’t disregarding ideas simply because of the label someone else has put on it. It is our responsibility to decide for ourselves.

There are a lot of opinions these days, and just as many people telling us what to think. On top of this, the Overton window seems to be narrowing.

This means the range of topics we can talk about seems to be getting smaller. That said, we can learn to combat this problem by being careful not to judge too quickly. Instead of jumping to conclusions based on someone else’s label, dig deeper and think for yourself.

The truth is, it is better to decide for ourselves what we like and ignore the rest. From that position, we can let other people do the same thing.

In the long run, it isn’t a good idea to be ok with banning ideas we dislike. Because the tides may turn one day and our opinions may be the ones that people ban.

The best way to protect yourself against narrow minds and the limits on acceptable ideas is to think for ourselves.

You are always the best judge of what is a good idea for you. So you are also the best judge of what you should avoid and seek out.

Think for yourself and fight against the urge to let other people decide what you should think.

Only you know what is best for yourself.

What Would You Do?

Script

The other day I was talking to one of my coworkers about work. In particular, I asked him what he would do if he didn’t have to work.
His first response was to say that he loved his job; he likes doing it and didn’t even think of what he would do otherwise. Then he said, he like worked, because it was challenging and satisfying and a whole pile of other things.

When I pushed him a little more, “what would you do if you didn’t have to work?” He thought a while then said he didn’t know. Then he told me about how his father retired at 50. Now he spent his life in vacation mode and no longer challenging himself.

The next day, we met again and talked about some other things. Later in the conversation, I brought up the question, “what would you do?” This time he was more honest. He said, “You know, I thought about the question last night, and I couldn’t think of anything.” I tried to comfort him by saying, “You only spent a few minutes thinking about it.”

Whenever I talk about this issue with people, they talk about how good their job is or say they like their position. It is almost like talking about ‘work’ somehow always gets confused with ‘this job.’

For context, my current job is the best job I have ever had. It is very understanding of work-life balance, which is excellent when it comes to picking up my daughter. On top of that, they give more vacation time than most jobs, and the salary is ok. You could say that the work is meaningful, as the organization’s role is to educate and inform the public.

But the problem isn’t the job; the challenge is the idea of work indefinitely. Even the best job takes up most of your time and more or less determines what you can think.

But this isn’t new for jobs, most of our lives we’re told what to think and do. From when we start going to school, to the day we retire, most of our choices are confined by our circumstances. If you aren’t independently wealthy or homeless, then you pretty much have to work. We have little choice about work, yet it is a massive part of our lives.

Once again, this isn’t about a specific job; it is more about the obligations of life in general. While going to school, we taught how to think, then we go to work and we again are told how to think.

This is what it is about; it is tough for us to think on our own, or think about what we want. So much of our lives are about being told how to live and what to do. The real challenge these days would be coming up with some ideas of our own.

Even more, we should strive to figure out what we want for ourselves. We don’t have to stick to what we have been told to want.

Yesterday it was pouring, so I had no choice but to walk in the Path. The Path is an underground set of shops and pathways under the downtown of the city.

When I go down there, I feel like I am in a world of false expectations. It is a definition of success and least in the middle glass business suit way.

It feels like an ideal of the ‘right thing’ to do. It isn’t so much my definition of success, but it would be the general societal definition of success.

It is also an artificially manufactured place, rather than the nature of outside. Put another way, being outside walking, in the city along the same route feels open and free.

It is about putting things in life that are choices, rather than only living the requirements of existence. For me, that is about creating videos like this one, writing books and creating other content.

For you, it will be something different, though it could be the same. In general, we need to take the time to think and reflect on what we want in our lives. It is easy to sit on the sidelines of life and say, “I want a good job, and house, a pension… etc.”

But is that what you want? Or is that what you think you are supposed to want. By no means, am I saying those are bad things to want, security and a place to live are of supreme importance?

At the same time, if we focus too narrowly on the things we are supposed to want, we limit ourselves to finding what we want.

In some ways, that is what life is all about. Finding what we want and trying to get it. We should be careful not to get stuck in the traps and expectations set for us. Instead, we should focus on finding what we want.
But first we need to figure out what we want, and if you are anything like my coworker than that is going to take some time. But once you have an idea, the world is your oyster. From there, you can figure out how to get where you want to go.

So before you get worried about the limits of your life or the ways, you have been trained. Remember, you always have a choice.

The is especially true when it comes to thinking for yourself about what you want to do.

But then again, it seems like the real question is, what would you do?
I want to live a life where I create and live a comfortable life with the belief that I have a positive future ahead.

The second part is universal, but the first part isn’t, that part is up to you.
But first, you must realize you have a choice, then come up with an answer. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there.