“I can’t sleep, cuz my bed’s on fire…” (Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer”)
I’ve been studying happiness just as long as I’ve obsessed on becoming successful in biz…
… and you know what?
The two barely intersect at all.
I wouldn’t want to spend two seconds inside the skin of most of the richest people I know. They’re miserable. They never have enough to fill the bottomless need that fuels their quest for “more”.
But I’m not smug about it.
We all share the same basic malfunctioning default system bug — when we’re sad, we crave happiness…
… and when we’re happy, we’re either unconsciously looking for ways to fuck it up, so we’ll be sad again…
… or we’re terrified that we’re missing something that will take it all away.
Pure happiness is unsustainable. It’s an outlier emotional state, requiring some fairly substantial hormone dumps from glands that simply can’t supply vast amounts.
Zen thinking tries to get us into a more reasonable contented mode.
Moderation is sustainable pretty much forever, with the right mental tools and a little breath training.
But the human brain loathes moderation, and craves excess.
It’s a bug in the system.
I’m leery of anyone who promises too much joy, especially if they’re selling it.
And yet, the suckers line up to quaff the nasty brew in endless lines.
Being human is hard, in this concrete jungle.
But given the choice between wealth and contentment, I’d choose the latter every time.
Now, that is. As a young man, busy chewing up scenery and consumed with lust, I danced near the edges of bliss and despair as much as possible, and sneered at those who would harsh my wild swings.
Life blows by in a blink, folks.
You’ll never quite figure out the meaning.
But it for sure ain’t unbridled wealth.
Beyond accumulating what you can spend in a hot-blooded lifetime, you’re mostly wasting your time.
You disagree, of course…
P.S. That blurry photo up top is me, in my arrogant twenties, mocking death. It was Halloween, somewhere in the murky depths of the seventies.
Fun times. We thought they’d last forever, as life continued to lavish energy, fun and health upon our undeserving heads.
Now, the photo is just a reminder to watch my diet, exercise more, and avoid dying as best I can.
Take care of yourself, you.
“Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange…” (David Bowie)
Let’s have an uncomfortable discussion, what d’ya say?
Let’s talk about the dirtiest word most adults know: Change.
Here’s the thing about change: Learning how to become a functioning adult is hard, as in requiring every shred of skill, talent, brain power and ability you possess.
And when you “arrive” (however you define it — get a job, get hitched, get pregnant, get out of jail, make a fortune, whatever) you’re kind of exhausted from the effort…
… and you really don’t want to go through all that crap again.
And then the world changes around you.
In our lifetime, that change has been dramatic, jarring, frequent and brutal. Very little of what worked for you even 5 years ago is still viable. The music on the radio sounds like static, people stare at you when you dance, and your job can be done faster and better by machines.
You think I’m talking about the generation just ahead of you, don’t you? All those clueless old fucks slowing you down and mucking up the vibe.
But here’s the truth: No matter how hip you are right now…
“What this requires is a really stupid and futile gesture on someone’s part.” (Otter, “Animal House” pre-climactic scene)
Do you ever have the vague feeling that everyone around you is enjoying life more than you…
… or has their act together real tight, while you struggle and wake up in the middle of the night fussing over problems?
This is actually part of our default machinery as humans. Personally, I grew up as a kid believing that everyone was hiding the secrets of a happy life from me… they knew these secrets, and were smug about knowing and enjoying them. While I was left to desperate measures, trying to figure out each fresh pitfall and obstacle on my own.
If I could only catch a clue about what everyone else was thinking as they so smoothly navigated life, the secrets of eternal happiness and contentment would surely bloom for me.
My first big revelation as a teenager arrived like a bolt of lightning: After putting together a few clues…
… I abruptly realized that most people weren’t hiding secret thoughts from me at all.
They actually didn’t have Read more…
“Just take those old records off the shelf, I’ll sit n’ listen to ’em by myself…” (Bob Seger)
At the end of this post, I’ll explain how you can win a bitchin’ prize that will make you the envy of all your friends forever.
First, though — let’s learn something about marketing to humans, whadya say?
Here’s two quick “how to deal with the screaming chaos” tips for everyone in business today who’s just a tad freaked-out at the way things seem to changing so damned FAST:
Screaming Chaos-Dealing Tip #1: If you’re older, you need to cultivate solid relationships with younger folks who can help you understand the Zeitgeist of the dominant culture out there. (Yes, even if you hate it. Especially if you hate it, actually.)
And I’m not talking about having your nephew program your TV remote while you mow the lawn.
Nope. I’m talking about entrepreneur-minded young adults, who just happen to be totally wired into the Grid…
… and can translate current trends while offering you some solid, smart perspective.
Screaming Chaos-Dealing Tip #2: If you’re a young entrepreneur, you need to cultivate relationships with geezers who can give you some perspective on how we GOT to this current state of affairs.
Key thing to remember: Read more…
“… and in the early mornin’ fog, I looked into those Mystic Eyes…” (Van Morrison, with Them, “Mystic Eyes”)
Had a little extended email exchange with our old pal Shawn Casey today.
See, he’s about to turn the Big Five-Oh… and I offered him the same gift that Gary Halbert offered me when I turned 50: An open invitation to hear about all the horrific shit he has to look forward to as his body slams full-force into official middle age.
Halbert used to absolutely delight in detailing for me some of the more evil indignities of waving bye-bye to youth.
Let’s just say your days of indulging in a bar brawl, and sleeping it off so you can do it again the next night, too…
… are over.
(Bonus insight: However, you can still have fun minus the dangerous stunts and life-threatening bravado that used to cap a good night out. Who’d a thought?)
I’m still laughing from that exchange with Shawn.
In truth, if you’re healthy, it ain’t all that big a deal sliding into your fifties. If you’ve spent the last four decades thrashing yourself, then yeah, you may be looking at getting your ticket punched early.
But if you listen to your body, keep the stress under control, get some freakin’ exercise once in a while, and avoid chunking out like Jaba The Hut…
… well, it’s actually kinda nice being a grizzled, older ape.
The real pleasures of life are just as intense… and you’ve pretty much identified which ones you want to focus on. (I spent my youth sampling almost every forbidden fruit in the feast… which I felt was my duty as a buddng writer. Many of those experiences were just downright awful, and yet they’d looked so good from a distance…)
And — even if you dinked around a lot for the bulk of your youth (as I did) (and, boy, was I good at dinking around) — you can’t help but have gathered a ton of experience.
And whatever mangled philosophy of life that got you this far must have something going for it… or you wouldn’t have made it.
Now, the reason I’m writing this post…Read more…