Feelings and behavior

Feelings aren’t always logical, but they’re always “true” in the sense that our emotions are whatever they are, for right or wrong reasons.

We can empathize with others by acknowledging that ALL of their feelings are valid, but not all of their behavior is acceptable.

This is not only true and useful in negotiating conversations with children, but also for us children who have lived through a few decades.

Why discipline is the way to freedom

World-renowned former Navy Seal Jocko Willink coined the phrase “discipline equals freedom”.

It seems counter-intuitive that being more stringent leads to liberation.  But financial discipline gives you more money and choices, a disciplined time-management system allows you to be spontaneous and more free with your schedule, and a disciplined nutrition and exercise regimen keeps you free from health issues.

We have adequate control over many of the variables we care about. The amount of freedom we have is simply the result of operational effectiveness of disciplined systems.

Seeing things as “fit”

Is it better to rent or buy?  Start a business or get a job?  The better question is: What’s a better fit for me?

The truth is, your exes may never find anyone better than you.  But they may find someone better for them than you.  The company you applied to may never hire a better candidate than you.  But they may hire someone who is a better fit for that specific role, time, location, salary, interest level, motivation, capability, control of their calendar…

You’ll stop judging so harshly, and will see the abundance of opportunities available to you, when you view life through the lens of “better/worse fit for me” and stop seeing the world as though there’s such thing as universally good or bad, better or worse.



Getting past the race

We teach kids to share toys when they’re not using them, and to applaud their siblings and friends’ achievements.  As adults, we can learn to be genuinely happy for people around us who gain or do things important to them, without fearing invisible adverse affects on us.

Part of maturing means recognizing that others’ progress is not our failure.

It’s so much easier to avoid anxiety about whether you’ll win the race when you realize that you’re not in one.


Conversing and arguing

Conversation that includes disagreement seems to be a lost art. People get emotional when their beliefs are challenged.  This can cause an escalation to personal attacks, which makes us lose sight of the original debate, and the concepts and opinions on which we actually disagree.

There’s an easy way to tell the difference between an argument and a conversation: The point of an argument is to determine WHO is right. Whether or not we agree, the point of a conversation is to try to determine WHAT is right.

Obstacles and how we use them

One strange problem is the irrational human belief that we shouldn’t have any.  Not only “should” we, but it’s almost impossible to make any significant growth without them.  Be grateful for them and use them, don’t curse them.

Ask “What’s great about this?”, “How will I use this?” or “How will I handle this next time?”.  Never ask “Why does this always happen to me?” or similar questions, where even the subliminal answers are destructive.

Ryan Haliday explores this concept in depth in his incredible book: “The Obstacle is the Way” with dozens of examples of those who created amazing lives for themselves and others because of the problems they faced, not in spite of them.

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” – Frank A. Smith



A reason for hope

It’s difficult to perceive progress in ourselves or our community when the most prominent “news” seems to reveal that our health, wealth, our governments, and interpersonal relationships are getting worse.

Violence has been on a continuous decline for 5,000 years.  A mere 200 years ago, 94% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, and now that number is less than 10%. (From Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature).

Zooming out to see the big picture, and consciously monitoring the amount and type of “news” you consume, can help you perceive your own progress.  Perhaps you’ll even be grateful to be living in what is by far the best time in human history for just about every metric that matters.  Lucky us.