Good Escapism, Bad Escapism

I love escapism.

But there’s a good kind and a bad kind.

The good kind is when you escape from a narrow world into a broader one.  You allow your mind to take you where your body, for whatever reason, cannot go.  You refuse to accept the shackles of external circumstance and exogenous suffering, and you cultivate freedom and adventure in your own heart.

The bad kind is when you escape from the possibility of a broader world into a narrower, “safer” one.  You live in your mind as a way to avoid taking the difficult action your body could.  You refuse to acknowledge that your shackles are the result of internal issues and self-imposed suffering, and you feed delusion and distraction in your heart.

The first kind helps us ascend the pain of this world.

The second kind prevents us from doing the hard work necessary to grow.

Escaping pain outside your domain of control is elevating.  Escaping the pain inherent in self-betterment is debasing.

Easy Answers are Not the Same as Simple Answers

Most of the time, the simplest answer is correct.  No need to overcomplicate, especially when it delays action.

But there’s an internal sleight of hand where “simple” gets swapped with “easy”.

A simple answer is one that doesn’t require mental gymnastics to understand.  An easy answer is one that doesn’t cause discomfort or challenge.

Let’s say you create a product no one buys.  The simple answer is that people don’t value it.  But that’s also a hard answer.  The easy answer is that people are idiots who don’t know good stuff when it smacks the in the face, or that big companies stack the deck in their favor and you can’t possibly compete, or that Facebook’s algorithm is unfairly punishing you, or that if you only had the advantages of others you’d succeed, or…

I’m incredibly bullish on simple answers.  I try to reduce all answers to their simplest form as quickly as possible.  Simple is cold, clarifying, and enables understanding and action.

I’m incredibly wary of easy answers.  Their siren song is powerful, and can lull me into a flabby stupor, mumbling about and blaming all the things that stroke my ego and feed vices like envy and anger.

Easy answers are all around us.  They constitute most of what passes for discussion on social media.  New iPhone price is really high?  Easy.  Greed.  Stock market lagging?  Easy.  Politician you don’t like.  Celebrity tweeted something offensive?  Easy.  They’re a braindead lowlife and you just need to re-enforce your rage with a quick mention.

Not only can easy answers obscure the truth and muddy clear thinking, not only do they feed dangerous and regressive emotions, not only can they create volatile moblike groupthink, they’re also boring.  They tend to lead to less fun, enlightenment, and playful encounter with the ideas and people that populate the world.

What if there’s something more?  What if you weren’t allowed to take the easy route?  What if you had to assume rational choice and charitable interpretation?  What else might be going on?

The world begins to unfold in amazing ways.  New mental models become possible.  Easy answers start to look startlingly complex compared to the simple, but harder to swallow truth.

If it feels easy, time for a gut-check.  Look for simple, not just easy.

The Power of Feeling Good

It’s the small stuff.

I’ve never been good at massive, long-focused, epic tasks.  I’m impatient, bore easily, and prefer ‘done’ to perfect.

I’m restless too, and easily discontented.  I’m a fan of discontentment in general (see here), but in a given day, it’s hard to get as much good work done if you’re unsettled from the word ‘go’.

These traits combine to create a useful pattern.  I need to notch something meaningful off the list to begin a day, but it can’t be too big.  That’s why daily blogging works best when I do it in the morning, before checking my phone or any other major cognitive input.  Just sit down, face the blank screen, and hammer out a post.

Clicking “publish” is like shooting myself out of the gate.

And I’m telling you, this little good feeling – writer’s high I guess – makes a massive difference to the rest of my day.  Massive.

It’s not just writing.  There are several ways to get that small feeling of accomplishment when the day’s starting to suck.  Just getting some work done, anything small and complete-able, pops me out of the doldrums and turns the jets on.

Minds are complex things.  Too complex for their owners sometimes.  We don’t always know how to get to the bottom of our frustrations, anxieties, fears, depression, or listlessness.  The harder the conscious mind tries to unearth its subconscious sibling, the deeper the disconnection from good feelings gets.

Ignoring analysis and getting some tasks done is better for short-term happiness and long-term discovery, nine times out of ten.

If you’re in a funk, forget the big gnarly psychological obstacles and just finish some small work to get that little good feeling.  The rest tends to take care of itself.

133 – Dia De Muertos, Creating Structure as an Unschooler, Superhero Movies, and More with NL Morehouse

The most popular guest in show history is back! NL joins the show to talk about a wide range of topics including celebrating Day of the Dead, unschooling, starting a business, and a lot more.

Topics Discussed:

  • Why did NL decide to celebrate Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)
  • Celebrations from other cultures
  • Why has Marvel been so successful with bringing comic book heroes to movies, when DC hasn’t
  • Pop culture trends
  • Professionals trying to be unprofessional
  • NL’s book
  • Dire perfume names
  • Starting to use Facebook
  • Unschooling & Creating your own structure
  • Starting a sandwich business
  • The biggest differences for in life as a 12-year-old today vs. twenty years ago

Links:

If you are a fan of the show, make sure to leave a review on iTunes.

All episodes of the Isaac Morehouse Podcast are available on SoundCloudiTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher

The Wonder of the Hard Fork

I love Bitcoin and all things crypto/blockchain.

One of the most amazing things is happening before our eyes.  Not just a new form of money, contract, and digital scarcity, but a new process of solving disputes.

Bitcoin split into two different versions back in August, after years of debate between insider experts, outsider novices, businesses, hobbyists, tech-types, ideological types, investor types, and everyone else you can imagine.

From the outside, the fight looked chaotic, confusing, sometimes childish.  The hard fork appeared like the ultimate failure of “civil discourse”.  Good.

A failure for one-size fits all zero-sum decision processes is a win for Bitcoin and the world at large.

Consensus or majority agreement aren’t needed in the market.  Choice and open process are.  They allow the best problem solvers to outlive the less valuable.  No one needs to “win” a debate.  They just need to please customers.

Currently, both forks appear to be viable technologies.  Much is to be determined for their respective futures, but this much is certain: open-source, decentralized blockchain tech and the forking it allows is a massive winner over stupid, corrupt political processes.

I love it.

“The world doesn’t need one more blog/book/podcast”: It’s not for the world, it’s for you…

There has been a trend recently of popular content creators online talking about how there are too many blogs, too many podcasts, and the world doesn’t need more.

Apart from the obvious irony, they miss the most important value creators get from creating content. Sure there is a chance to grow an audience and monetize it, but much more powerful is the learning, signaling, and social capital value that you get from consistently creating content.

Check out the new episode of Forward Tilt now on iTunesYouTubedirect download and all major podcast platforms.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The amount of content on the internet is doubling each year
  • Three values to creating and sharing content online.
  • Creating to learn
  • Creating to signal
  • Creating to build social capital

For a free copy of Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth go to discoverpraxis.com/forwardtilt

How to Play Life with House Money

A Praxis participant recently asked what to do if you feel you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed.

This isn’t the only or full answer, but the first thing that came to mind was this pressure-relieving technique that unleashes “self two” (to borrow from the book The Inner Game of Tennis) to achieve without desperation:

First I make my peace with failure. I envision and accept the worst possible outcome until I feel fine about it.

Then I push myself to achieve the best possible outcome with everything I’ve got, never satisfied.

Feels like playing with house money. I can be relentlessly discontent with anything less than perfection while already having made my peace with failure.

The Best Way to Get a Better Job…

Be the best employee at your current job.

Seriously.

If you half-ass one opportunity, no one will want to hire you for another.

Don’t stress that your current work isn’t your life’s dream.  (Nothing will be, because it shifts and changes all the time).  You won’t get stuck there if you’re so good everyone notices and wants to hire you elsewhere!

Me and TK take on this and a few other career and life questions in today’s episode of Office Hours.

Check it out.

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