You Are Not Broken

There are whole industries built around the idea that you are broken. I’m not sure how it happened, but for some reason we are taught that we need to better ourselves. That somehow we are born broken and that we are in a constant state of needing improvement.

I would like to argue the opposite.

I believe we are perfect the day we are born. It is our programming from day one that teaches us to forget that we are perfect — thus beginning the cycle of never feeling good enough.

As adults, it is not our job to improve ourselves, rather it should be our position to remove all of the noise and the muck from our eyes and see that we are exactly who we are and who we were ever meant to become.

In our innate human “perfect-ness” we will naturally seek out meaning, purpose and new skills. This is after all, what separates us as animals. We are conscious of our meaning and purpose in life. It is our nature to question, and this questioning is not us improving ourselves, but finding a way to be more in tune with ourselves.

This morning as I thought about the idea behind this post, I looked out of my window in Brooklyn and I saw Canadian geese flying in their signature “V” formation. They don’t think about flying in this formation, they just do it.

We cannot decide to improve ourselves, just like the geese cannot decide to fly when the seasons change. They just do. We are no different than the geese, the mountains, the lakes, the canyons or the oceans — we are part of the same. We are part of this universe and we are no more broken than the sea.

My challenge to you is to strip away everything you have ever been taught in school or any programming you may have received from parents, friends, teachers, clergy or otherwise. Find the person you were born to be. Follow your intuition and know that you are already everything you will ever be.

Just be.

You can now let yourself off the hook. You don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself to improve. You can give yourself permission now to be everythingyou ever wanted to be.

You are not broken.

Self-improvement is a myth.

The self is broken, but the Self is already perfect in every way.

Decide to live, accordingly.

The Beauty of Melancholy

We like to pretend that all we ever feel is rainbows and sunshine. We act as if the balance of good doesn’t exist — as if we could know what happiness was without the lack of it.

But why is there a stigma around something we all feel? Why do we feel the need to portray happiness and joy every moment, while we bottle up the strong and cathartic powers of melancholy?

It’s okay to feel sadness. Chances are that we naturally feel sad, lonely or melancholy a good 30–40% of the time.

That’s a lot of time spent pretending and not letting natural emotion flow.

It seems like it would be more healthy to acknowledge the feeling. To marinate in it, feel its honesty and channel it to be our teacher, our muse and our confidant.

Some of the best writing, films and art come from a place of melancholy. Maybe because it is an outlet from not being able to express that emotion, but to suppress it only leads to melancholy becoming a problem.

Those that are honest about it, use it as a force.

There is beauty in melancholy. There is beauty in balance.

The Patterns of What You Want

The universe is made up of pattern. Everything from the milky way down to the sunflower is created from and is contained in a pattern. It’s just how this universe works.

Patterns also apply to the lens in which we see the world around us. They shape the habits we form that, are either in favor of what we want, or they serve as the crutch that keeps us away from what we want.

The difference lies in us first being conscious of our personal patterns and how we purposely apply the patterns that will serve us.

If we have a negative thought pattern that keeps us from believing we can accomplish something great, and we reinforce that with a negative pattern of eating junk food when we feel down on ourselves, it becomes easy to see how negative patterns can exponentially change our course.

If our pattern is to hear something that isn’t favorable and think, “what is the lesson I’m meant to learn here?” and immediately put into action a solution to change it, then we can see how our the positive reaction patterns can serve us.

Small changes lead to exponential differences and pattern recognition is the beginning of change for the better. Understanding those patterns and creating better habits based on healthy patterns will make certain you achieve what you set your intention on.

Are your patterns inline with the life you want?

Self-Control Through Hierarchy of Thought

Our inability to act can many times be attributed to having too many conflicting thoughts or congestion of thoughts. Some people are able to act and ship on a regular basis simply because they have a more simple mind or approach to life.

But what about the rest of us? What about those that think so much of what they do?

We care. We care so much that we often over-think our projects and products to the point of paralysis.

The cure for this is the discipline of seeing our own patterns of thinking and classifying them into a hierarchy of importance.

All of our thoughts do not carry the same weight. Some of them are passing and ridiculous thoughts that stretch our imagination of what is possible. They are meant to be an instant dream to test against our idea and then to be let go.

Other ideas are so similar to one another that they should be categorized and written out so that they can be combined and simplified.

There are also ideas that can be simply taken out of our minds and thrown out, or if they’re important but not important enough for our time and energy, then they should be categorized for delegation.

Then there are the ideas that rise to the top. The ideas that are left in the pan after sifting the impurities away.

These are the ideas we need as much as air and they are to be acted on.

These ideas are then meant to be identified and given all of our thought. They are to be given a hierarchy and put into a numbered list to be done sequentially.

This is the work of a disciplined thinker. This is the work of finding simplicity from complexity and then acting.

Our best work will come from the execution and shipping of our best ideas, but they need the hierarchy of importance first.

Ideas are Lightning, Thoughts are Killers

Ideas come to us from nowhere. They may have an origin in our past experience or they may be inspired by something that we see. Some people believe they are divine and others would say we’ve just stumbled upon old ideas disguised as a new unique pattern.

These ideas are the lifeblood of the creative person (which is all of us). When an idea or inspiration strikes, it’s time to act immediately – to grab every ounce of that inspiration and do something amazing with it.

Then something happens.

We confuse ideas with thoughts. You see, ideas and thougths are disguised as being the same thing, but the reality is, the differences are literally life threatening.

Ideas are lightning. Thoughts are killers.

Behind every doubt, bad relationship, daddy issue, unfinished book, or bedridden depression, are thoughts. Thoughts that run through our minds, whirling around until they finally become a story or a film that plays on repeat.

You’re in the shower and the best plot to a story you could possibly ever dream up hits you. What do you do? You get excited. The characters are growing and building. The storyline twists are making your blood rush to your head. The ideas are the best you’ve ever had or possibly ever will.

Then you have thoughts.

Why would anyone read a book I wrote? I’m nobody. Stephen King or James Patterson have probably already written this book or threw the idea away because it was a dead end.

But how do you know no one would love your book? How do you know you aren’t the next, better version of J.K. Rowling? You’ve never written a book!

If you’re depressed because your work is unrewarding, you think your parents don’t understand you or your husband doesn’t treat you well – the chances are it’s because your thoughts have become a lifelong story by now.

Maybe your thoughts have held you back in a compromised job. Maybe the film in your head has villianized your parents while it’s actually you that has never taken the time to understand them. Maybe, just maybe, your spouse has no clue what the film in your head looks like because they’ve never seen it.

These thoughts and stories are never real. They’re only in your head. If you’re not careful, they will destroy your relationships, lead to illness and leave you with tons of regret once you’re old and everyone – every idea – is gone.

Remember to ride your ideas to happiness, but if you ever feel like something is wrong in your life, look for the thought behind it.

Ideas are lightning. Thoughts are killers.

The Power of Exponential Loss

When was the last time you were able to sit and have absolutely nothing to do? I think we’re all realizing that we’re too busy, but why are we so busy?

I believe the battle lies in the power of exponential loss.

If we agreed to send shorter emails, we would get shorter emails back. If we agreed to shorten meetings, Parkinson’s Law would kick in and we would finish those meetings in less time (and honestly be a lot less bored).

If we limited the amount of time we allowed ourselves for inspiration, ideation and surfing the web, we could add more time to quality production and focus would make us better at leveraging our time.

In the car manufacturing industry they call this lean manufacturing. Individuals will calculate every bit of material waste and time waste, because waste is money.

Our time is our most valuable currency yet we don’t look to areas where we could waste less.

That’s the power of exponential loss.

If you find yourself only really working about two hours a day productively, it’s impossible to have anything of value at the end of the month.

Guard your time with your life, because that’s exactly what it is.

Don’t Fear the Mysterious

The power of science fiction or the imagination of someone like Stephen Hawking is in bridging the gap between what science has already discovered and what it will eventually discover.

No matter how insane a movie like Star Wars or Ex-Machina may seem in reality, there is some validity to its possibility based on the fact that the human mind was capable of imaging it.

Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

The mysterious is real or else we could not imagine it. If you feel inspired or your intuition is pulling you into a direction without logic, feel safe going into it. It will become logic once it is found to be true. You don’t need it to be true yet.

Tesla was seen as a madman for playing with electricity until his electricity powered cities. Mark Zuckerberg was undoubtedly seen as pompous believing he could connect the world from an app built for college students.

The truth is, your inclination to explore the mysterious is only mysterious until there’s proof for everyone else to believe in it. You don’t need that kind of permission to explore what your naturally drawn to.

Whether you feel your intuition pulling you towards any psychic development or you believe you can create an app that prints pizza, don’t fear the mysterious.

In the long run you may end up better off because you spent time there.

Get Paid for Playing

I was listening to a lecture by Alan Watts last week and something he said struck me.

I’ve always wondered how a teacher or philosopher would have a good shot at making a living doing what they love. I have a sense that most people feel this way about the things they truly care about – the things they would do if money didn’t matter.

Watts chuckled in his signature laugh and simply stated, “I get paid for playing, which I guess, is the goal of any educated man.”

“Getting paid to play” is exactly at the heart of what I want for people. Now, play is by no means void of work here, but when you’re doing the work that is in harmony with who you are, it feels like play.

As you go through life as I am having to go through life, with all of the risk, sacrifice and joys that come with the hard work of discovering your stride, remember this short mantra from Watts. It’s a simple phrase that can serve as a simple, clear and direct reminder of where to aim.

“Get paid for playing”.

Children as Advisors

One of the things we all found fascinating when iPads first hit the market, was that they were so simple that infants could use them. Children became the new litmus test of simplicity in interface design.

(They were so simple, that older individuals were actually confused because they weren’t complex.)

The other day, I was helping a six-year-old write a story about a sleepover she had. Her style was very simple. “My name is…”, “my friend picked me up at…”, “we did this…”.

I explained, “maybe you want to add a time-of-day when your friend picked you up so that you can help the reader’s imagination establish a setting?”. Nope, not having it.

Through this process it helped me see writing again at the most basic structure.

We often ask our peers and colleagues their opinion on what we design, build or write. Many times, it gets more complex the more help we solicit – especially if it becomes design by committee.

Next time you design an interface or write copy for a site or post, ask a group of children. I’m not saying that it will result in your final product, but it will certainly keep you in check from a “simplicity of use” and “clarity of communication” perspective.

Children make great advisors.

Life Before Industry

What was life ever like before 1920?

We take the last decade, with all of it’s clothes, cars, homes, credit cards and restaurants, totally for granted.

What would happen if technology made it so that we once again lived like it was 1920?

What would our lives be like if industry as we know it collapsed and we were forced to change the way we work because there ceased to be any jobs to maintain the consumerist lifestyle?

What would happen if we truly had to think about every individual thing we owned? What if we went back to living in small homes and without the six-figure job to support our many habits.

Well, we might be finding out.

The economies of the world do not show much promise and pressure from the EU is mounting in countries like England. The job market is slowly shifting and technology sits in the hands of only a few companies.

Now this isn’t to be a post of doom. I like to think of it as a post of light.

The coming transition will be painful, but it might actually force us to take our lives back.

Or, we could choose to take them back now.

A simple life of few material possessions, low overhead and no debt is a life with freedom.

Freedom to chose, freedom of work, freedom of time.

It might not be a bad idea to stop and be honest with ourselves about where things are going, and start shedding the unnecessary waste, possessions and work hours.

Maybe we don’t have to wait to be forced to scale back.

Maybe we could beat the curve.

We forget that this way of life was designed to keep us working in factories and that we’ve been programmed to buy things that we don’t need in order to keep it all working.

That cycle is likely to stop – and very sudden.

We might just be going back to life before industry.

Doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, really.