Reality is the Sum of Dreams (no really, I’m not being cheesy!)

I found this written in a notebook of mine from fourteen years ago,

Reality is the sum of people’s dreams.  By putting your dreams into the equation, you will increase the value and magnitude of reality.

It sounds fluffy at first, like it needs to be superimposed on a picture of a rainbow.  But there’s nothing far-fetched or silly about it when you think on it.

Every creation in your world, from your iPhone to your T-shirt, to your coffee grounds, to that song on Spotify, is the result of someone’s idea or dream.  There’s a Latin phrase I love,

Agere sequiter credere

It means, roughly, “Action follows belief.”  This isn’t aspirational, it’s a logical necessity, baked into the structure of reality.  My favorite economist, Ludwig von Mises, defines the preconditions for all purposeful action:

  • Discontentment with one’s present state
  • A vision of something better
  • Belief in the ability to get there

Every element of our experience – from norms and traditions, to languages and laws, to eggs and bacon – came about as a result of discontentment, vision (or dream), and belief.  Someone had to dream of crossing an ocean as a precondition to building a ship.  The city your were born in is likely one outgrowth of that dream.

In a very real sense, reality is the sum of people’s dreams.  In a very real sense, when you expand yours, and have the boldness to pursue them, you add them to the sum and expand reality.

My good friend TK Coleman likes to say that reality will expand to accommodate your dreams.  We might also say that reality will expand as a result of them.

When the Answer is in the Question

Advice-seekers sometimes betray answers they already know by the questions they ask.

Quora is a good place to witness this.

A good rule before you ask a question of others is to start with yourself.  Obviously, asking yourself the question you want to ask doesn’t do a lot.  You’ve probably already done it and not found a definite answer.

Instead of asking yourself the question, ask yourself why you’re asking the question.  And be really honest.

Sometimes the true reason you’re asking is to impress someone, or to get attention, or because you want shared responsibility for your choice, or because you already know the answer but you don’t like it so you want to fish for a way out.

Learn why you’re asking the question and you’ll often answer it.

Why Do People Get Bored?

Why do people get bored?  I’m really asking.  That’s not rhetorical.

It cannot be lack of access to interesting ideas.  The world is pregnant with wonder.

It cannot be lack of engaging activities.  There’s an infinite number of things to do at any given moment.

I’ve been bored before.  Not often.  I can’t really understand my own boredom.  How was I bored?  There are so many thoughts to think, questions to ask, skills to practice, jokes to tell.

What’s the fundamental fact that leads to boredom?  Is it fear of newness?  Laziness?

I guess if you get bored, you can spend some time on this question.

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UPDATE: one great answer, emailed to me here.

New Experiment: Book Recommendation Sunday

I’m trying a new thing.

Every Sunday, I’m going to post a book recommendation on the platform Yours.org.

I love exploring new platforms, and the cool thing about Yours is you have to pay to post an article (10 cents in Bitcoin Cash), you have to pay to vote (similar to a “like” on Facebook), and the author can set up a paywall for the content and comments.

Book recommendations are funny things.  The more generously you make them, the less valuable they are to people.

An unsolicited list of good books is likely to get ignored.  A single book maybe a little less so (less cognitive overload).  A recommendation with some context and a review might do a little better.

Actually buying the book for someone might help, but it often backfires…”free” is easy to perceive as “not that valuable”.

What if you had already paid a few cents to get the recommendation?  You’d feel invested.  You’d feel like, since you paid for the rec, it only makes sense to buy the book now, right?  It was worth learning about, so it’s a small step to assume it’s worth reading.

Anyway, we’ll see!

Check out today’s recommendation on Yours.

If nothing else, it’s a good excuse for me to get more people comfortable using cryptocurrency!

Check out Some New Stuff

I love podcasting.  Probably too much.

I’ve got a bi-weekly long format interview podcast on tons of topics, am wrapping up a yearlong once a week 5-10 minute take podcast on career tips, and TK and I are in the middle of season one of the career/life Q&A format “Office Hours” show.

A few new items from this week…

Office Hours

Cohost TK Coleman and I chat about quitting a job and how to get better at sales.

Listen to the episode on iTunesYouTubedirect download and all major podcast platforms.

Topics Discussed:

  • Saying it’s easy raises expectations
  • The challenge of completing something you have the skill to do
  • Measuring value from difficulty
  • Your boss/manager always wants you to succeed
  • Modeling other peoples success
  • Feeling dissatisfied with your current work, vs. feeling excited about new opportunities
  • The value of seemingly
  • If you want to get paid to do something, you’ve got to do things like your getting paid, before your getting paid to do them.

Forward Tilt

A quick thought on the irony that babies don’t take “baby steps”, but big, risky leaps…maybe we should too?

Listen to the episode on iTunesYouTubedirect download and all major podcast platforms.

In this episode:

  • Babies take risks, not guarded steps
  • When you start anything, don’t ease your way in
  • The power of taking big swings
  • We learn by taking “real” baby steps

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

Isaac Morehouse Podcast

In this episode, I interview my 12 year old unschooled son about a random assortment of stuff.

Listen to the episode on SoundCloudiTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher

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:

Your Time is Sacred

There is nothing more unholy than divided time.

A unit of time where you are doing something while wanting to do another; begrudgingly wiling the hours and half-heartedly being pulled along.

It doesn’t matter what the thing is.  It matters that you do it undivided.  If the least bad option is to shovel shit, do it.  But do it wholeheartedly, with single mind, without regret.

You own your time.  Act like it.

You have to decide how to spend it moment by moment.  Do not let yourself be cajoled, guilted, or bullied.  You will end up doing one thing while pretending you have no choice and bitterly wishing you were elsewhere.  Your mind will be in two places, neither of them powerful enough to make a dent.

It’s your time.  No one can use a unit of it but you.

Make your choices clearly and definitely.  Be ready to alter them when information and incentives change.  But never let anyone but you do the choosing and altering.

And own it.  Fully.

When you make the choice, don’t look back and don’t pretend you didn’t.  A unit of time lived in a way you don’t want is a unit of time unlived.  You can’t get it back.  You’re weaker because of it.

Oneness between intention and action creates desired outcomes.

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