Most People Don’t Know What’s Going On Most of the Time

When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world. I certainly knew that I didn’t have control over it but, I knew the people who did. Grown ups.

Grown ups had everything figured out. They chose what we ate, they knew where to get the food from and they had these things called jobs where they got together and talked about adult things like how to run the world.

Obviously, I wasn’t quite on the money. I never stated any of these things but they were beliefs I had.

Aside – It’s funny how when you look back at your childhood you can verbalise and identify beliefs and attitudes that you held but never would have been able to express as a child.

Now that I’m older I have begun to understand how damn complicated this whole life business is. I have discovered that there are no black and white issues and that everything is a shade of grey. Endless, innumerable shades of grey. Life is complex, mind-bogglingly complex.

Imagine all the experiences you’ve had in your life time and all the experiences yet to come. All the happiness, sadness, anger, birthdays, moments of inner peace, memories, friends, teachers, parents and meals that you’ve had. If your life was a novel imagine the depth of the narrative that is your life. All those moments where you’ve felt afraid or seen a glint of excitement, attraction or something unrecognisable in someone’s eyes.

Your life, if written as a novel and in its entirety would be a far more detailed and rich story than any novel ever written.

Hold this image in your mind of the lengthy tome detailing all that you’ve experienced.

Multiply it by 7,000,000,000.

You can’t. It’s impossible to imagine such a large number.

Each of these tomes represents the experiences of a person currently living on Earth.

The amount of sights, smells, sounds, tastes, feelings and emotions humanity has collectively experienced is ridiculous. Purely, inexplicably sizable in volume that I don’t even dare to attempt to explain it.

And my figure only encapsulates humans who are currently alive. If all historical people experiences were included this would widen the scope of experience greatly.

If you met someone who had experienced the seemingly meagre percentage of 0.0001% of all human experience they would be hailed as a God. Their wisdom and understanding would be so far beyond that of anyone alive.

Perhaps Jesus before he came to Earth was bored and tired of chilling and milling about wherever he and God reside. Imagine God’s off making floods and generally running the Earth (with mixed success) and Jesus, having been sitting around since the beginning of Eternity is sick of his dad going off and leaving him without even a simple village to watch over.

So Jesus is just wandering around the house looking for something when he stumbles upon a ginormous room full of those incredibly detailed tomes I mentioned earlier.

He begins to read. Days, months, years pass and he keeps reading these stories. His understanding of human beings growing stronger and stronger each day. Soon, he is immensely wise and if anyone were to speak with him (who wasn’t the creator of the Earth themselves) they would be scared stiff and in awe of him.

One day God comes home from a tough day at work and he trips over one of the inconveniently large tomes Jesus has been reading.

God has stubbed his toe quite badly and shouts “Jesus! Would for the love of yours truly would you stop leaving these books around the house. In fact, I’m sick of you bumming around the house all the time so I’m sending you to Earth,”

“Why are you so cross at me all the time?” said Jesus.

“Oh, I’m not cross, you’ll know all about it when I’m CROSS with you,” said God.

And puff in a cloud of smoke Jesus was sent down to Earth.

Now, I’m not the Pope, nor a biblical scholar (I wish I was it’d help me impress the chicks) so I don’t believe this is precisely how it went down. The point is that if you managed to experience only a minute proportion of the entire human experience you would be very wise, perhaps even wiser than Jesus.

The thing is, no one has. Everyone just has their own life experience and tidbits of exposure to the experiences of the people around them. No one has really seen it all, not even close. Sure, adults are experienced relative to children but relative to humanity’s collective they haven’t seen anything.

Life is complex, mind-bogglingly complex

 

 

 

 

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Why Your Life Is Shaped By Frameworks

Over the past year I’ve come to realise the importance of frameworks and routines. What’s the difference?

  • Routines are a set of actions that are habitual and occur repetitively on a regular basis and is composed of physical tasks (includes things like teeth brushing, sleep time, exercise time, making food etc. )
  • Frameworks are mental constraints and guidelines to help shape thoughts, emotions and by extension actions. Frameworks are a tool used by the brain to create meaning and direction from the activities that life involves.

A great example of a framework would be Christianity. Christians use the lens and paradigm of Christianity to make sense of the world, find meaning and to influence their actions. As humans, we like meaning and a sense of purpose in our lives and Christianity does a good job of instilling that in its adherents.

Christianity provides a moral code and a clear view of the world that gives people meaning. It helps people to answer a number of questions they have about life, the universe and everything.

From the relatively minute “What should I do on Sunday morning?”

To the more existential “What is the meaning of life? What happens after death? Why are we here? How did we get here? Why should I help other people?”

The Church provides answers and people like that.

People can become Christians and dedicate themselves to leading a life they believe will get them into heaven. It provides them with not only hope but with a purpose and motivation.

Whenever a tough decision comes up they are guided by their faith and can answer in a way that rings true to the teaching of their faith. They can ask themselves WWJD (What would Jesus do?) and act accordingly.

Compared to atheists, theists are provided with a framework and structure in which to live their lives. The challenge for atheists is to generate their own meaning, purpose and motivation. Alternatively, they can adhere to a secular organisation which provides the framework with which they agree with and can live by.

I think there would even be a sizable proportion of people who if truly pressed don’t believe in God but like the teachings of Christianity and therefore are Christians. Atheists (at least the online variety) are often quite obsessed about whether or not God exists. I feel that for some Christians whether or not God exists is almost secondary to the teachings of the Church. These people really like the framework and ideas of charity, forgiveness and peace that it provides.

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Routines, on the other hand, are more the logistical tasks that are undertaken habitually. Routines are often developed and maintained because of the framework. For instance, a Christian family may have the routine and habit of praying before dinner each night. If it wasn’t for their Christian framework they wouldn’t include this act at dinnertime. We can therefore say that the Christian framework influences their routines.

Routines mean to me a logistical way of shaping the days of your life. In each day, week, month, year and life there is a finite amount of time available and yet an infinite amount of activities to undertake. Most of them are meaningless and we don’t have any reason to engage in them. Lying on your laundry floor holding your feet up in the air naked except for your feet on which you are wearing one sports shoe and a flipper for instance.

We, as individuals, must make constant decisions. Decisions about how to allocate our resources of time, effort and money. For instance, you could stop reading this article, yell “FIRE IN THE HOLE” and proceed to throw your computer out the nearest available window if you wished. You have the option to do this (amongst trillions of other things) available to you at all times.

Lesson:

Your framework for life is important because it influences your routines, determines what you value and spend your time trying to achieve. It will impact greatly on what you choose to do with your life and it gives you a damn good reason not to throw your monitor out the window no matter how many fires are in the hole.

Why Not Make Success Your Default Option?

Failure

Failure is always an option and is often the default option. If you want to succeed

Why not make success your default option?

Well perhaps like me you enjoy the idea of partaking in a  A David vs Goliath, underdog, Rocky Balboa kind of struggle.

For instance, if you’re trying to eat healthily and your cupboard is full of chips, crackers and chocolate from before you started your diet it feels like a heroic effort not to eat any when you were at home all day. So at the end of the day you feel as if you overcame a big struggle and proceed to pat yourself heartily on the back.

Why not make achievement as natural and easy as possible?

What if you had thrown away the unhealthy food instead?

Maybe you wouldn’t have felt so accomplished but who cares you got the same result and it was easier.

You’re also less likely to relapse into bad habits later on when your willpower fails you (and trust me it will).

Make good and desirable behaviour the default thing to do. 

Humans enjoy doing what is easiest and it takes an arduous, conscious effort to do otherwise (as I’m sure you’ve noticed).

What do I mean by the default option?

I mean the option in which if you were faced with the situation 100 times you would do 90 times or more.

Let me explain a little bit more about the default option.

Remember when your alarm clock used to go off on a school day

What was your default option?

Perhaps you think it is snoozing and staying under the covers. I don’t believe that it was.

You’re options are

1. Stay in bed all day or

2. Getting up and going to school

Staying in bed sounds easy but there is hidden effort required in it. For example, if you stay in bed you’ll have to tell your parents why you’re not getting up (Should you pretend to be sick?) Maybe they’ll drag you to the doctors. You’ll have to provide a note explaining to the school why you missed a day and you will have fallen behind in the classwork which means you’ll have to put in more effort catching up.

Or you can simply go to school.

If you lived in an environment where absenteeism was questioned I think it is likely that you would have made the decision to go to school almost every day. It might not have been fun dragging yourself out of bed but you got to school and in refection it wasn’t all that bad.

Compare this with the plight of the college student.

(Note: not actually a plight but it’s a nice word to use)

The college student has awoken in bed and groans as he checks the time and realises it’s time to get up.

The same two options

1. Stay in bed

2. Get up and go to classes

No longer living at home the college students no parental repercussions if he doesn’t get up. He has lectures in big rooms with lots of people and not only is his presence not essential, it isn’t even noticed. There are no penalties for not turning up and no one will ask him where he was if he doesn’t show. Furthermore, all he has to do to catch up is to watch the lecture video online.

In this situation staying in bed is an easier option and may become the default option. Without the elements that motivated him to get up in  high school he may default to his body’s urges (an experience I’m sure you’re familiar with)

What has happened to our dear student?

Has he suddenly lost all his will power?

Not really, the situation around him has just changed.

The world creates many situations which coerce you into a certain behaviour so why don’t you be proactive and develop situations which foster the desired behaviour in yourself?

If you want to exercise more why not join a sporting team which will require you to train and play every week. Or organise a walking/work out/ running buddy so that you are motivated not to let them down.

When you’re stomach’s grumbling and you head over to the fridge hungry you don’t particularly care what you eat. If there’s cake there, you’ll eat it. If there’s some healthy rice, pasta or salad dish there you’ll eat it. Make sure you have healthy food there so you’ll be forced to eat well.

You could do this by

  • Removing unhealthy food from the pantry
  • Learn some easy to make recipes that you can make when you’re hungry
  • Cook healthy meals in bulk at the start of the week and grab one if you’re feeling hungry

Make healthy the default option.

And so my lesson for today which I hope is obvious throughout the article is as follows

Lesson: Develop systems where your default and easiest behaviour is the most desirable one

 

The Secret About Fat Kids and Cake

Imagine that you’re in Year 5 at school and you’ve got a bit of baby fat. Well that’s being a bit kind, you’re terribly overweight. The other children would taunt and call you morbidly obese, if they knew what those words meant.

You’re in HPE (or gym class if you’re American) and everyone is taking turns to do a number of compulsory physical fitness tests. One of the tests measures how many chin ups you can do. The thin metal bar hangs high on the wall and a student hangs from the bar. His knuckles white with exertion when suddenly he begins to move upwards as if God has reached down and pulled his head upwards. Perhaps God is squeezing the head a little too hard because his face is turning red and he is gasping desperately. Choking, choking, choking, until his chin scraps over the bar and then he slumps back down as if someone just turned the gravity thermostat up.

You swallow involuntarily as you stand in line, all too aware of how frumpy and chubby your sports clothes look. You’re anxious. Trying not to freak out as the line slowly moves forward as the teacher calls out the next person’s name. Soon you’re at the front. Gulp.

The teacher looks down at his clipboard and calls out your name. Your arms are jittery and you feel weak with anxiety. Swallowing nervously you approach the bar. Man, why do they make you go through this humiliation?

Your hands grasp the bar and you kick off the ground to get a boost. Oh god. Gravity is so strong. You sink straight back down, unable to get even an inch of upwards motion. How did Jimmy the skinny kid who picks on you manage to do four?

Ashamed you turn away from the bar, unable to look your teacher in the eye. As you slink off to the next station you think to yourself

I am NEVER going to try that again.

Lesson

  • People have a tendency to avoid activities that they are not good at
  • However, the only way you can turn an activity that you are weak at into a strength is by doing it
  • You must overcome the natural tendency to avoid ‘hard’ activities

Quick Question.

Over the next 5 years who is more likely to do more chinups? Jimmy or our protagonist?

I would say Jimmy.

Unfortunately for our protagonist his negative association with the activity means that not only is he less able in Year 5 but he will improve less than Jimmy.

It’s what I like to call a negative spiral or as I like to call it The Fat Kid and Cake Tragedy.

It works as follows

1. Kid is slightly overweight and feels bad about it so he eats cake to make himself feel better (emotional eating)

2. He puts on weight because of all the cake he’s eaten

3. He now feels even worse about himself and gets picked on even more for being fat

4. He eats more cake because he’s facing greater stress and bullying

5. He puts on even more weight

6. And so on and so forth…

It’s a tragic downward spiral.

Downward Spiral

Compare this with what happens to Jimmy

1. Does well at the chin up test in class and feels good about it

2. Likes to show off his chin up abilities and does chinups whenever possible and likes to play around on the monkey bars

3. As a result he gets better at chinups and gets the endorphin rush of exercise

4. He does them often and it becomes a habit of his. Perhaps he even branches out into other exercises.

5. By the time he reaches high school he is quite strong and is encouraged to join a sporting team (wrestling, football, rugby etc)

6. As part of his training for his sport he undertakes resistance training and becomes stronger and fitter

This is the Glorious Spiral of Ascension

I like that name because it sounds grand and is fun to say.

Jimmy already was at a higher level in Year 5 but now he’s been walking up a mountain to reach the summit while our protagonist has been walking down a ramp into the depths of the basement.

Here’s the exciting part though. What if someone had whispered in our protagonists ear and guided him onto the Glorious Spiral of Ascension?

What if, like Jimmy, our protagonist started to exercise frequently and changed his behaviour in a positive way?

What if he had a friend, uncle, coach who was able to inspire him and work with him to make these positive changes in his life?

What if his spiral looked like this instead

1. Kid is slightly overweight and feels bad about it and his friend notices this and suggests that they start working out together

2. They start working out together and they both get stronger and become closer friends in the process

3. As he becomes fitter and stronger he starts to feel more confident about himself

4. Because he’s a more confident and strong figure no one picks on him anymore

5. As he goes through his teenage years he loses a lot of the weight he had as he grows taller

My question to you dear reader is this

What tragid downward spirals are you on?

And how can you change them to Glorious Spirals of Ascension?

How To Fail Epically #5 – Start Tomorrow

This is a guide on how NOT to train to complete 100 crunches consecutively; however, the secret advice and tips within are SO BAD that it can teach you to fail at everything fitness-wise and beyond!

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Procrastinate

Alrighty, so let’s recap on our lessons so far.

Wow, powerful stuff.

Now that we’ve set very high expectations on ourself and have decided that we will only accept the best we can begin to contemplate beginning.

Looking at that daunting list makes me a bit queasy inside. I’m going to be honest dear reader, I’m kind of freaking out

What happens if I start training today and it’s not a perfect session?

What happens if I get half way through my workout and I can’t hack the pain and pressure of it?

Won’t I look stupid doing my obscure exercises I found on the internet at the gym?

Can people tell that I haven’t been here before?

What if my program isn’t actually effective?

What if it’s a complete waste of time?

What if I give up and I’m a massive loser?

AHHHHHH!

Screw it, I’ll start tomorrow. And this panic attack leads me nicely into the lesson.

If you don’t try today then you can’t fail today so when you start tomorrow you won’t have the negativity of today’s failure hanging over your head.

I mean you could start today but, today is Sunday and you really should start a program in time with the work week so it’s more consistent. So start tomorrow. Actually, Monday’s are generally pretty hard at work so perhaps even try starting on Tuesday.

If it’s December wait until January to start because you will be inspired by the New Year to really change the way you train. If you’re on holidays begin once you go back to school or work. If you’re at work begin your program once you’re on holidays and have more time. As Oscar Wilde said (he sure did said a lot of witty things didn’t he?)

“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do – the day after.”

Look, let’s be honest here. Thinking about training and pursuing your goals makes you all anxious and uncomfortable in your stomach area. It’s a nasty feeling. It just doesn’t feel right to start today when you feel all sickly and yucky about it. There is always more time and I’m sure you’ll feel much more comfortable about it tomorrow.

Maybe you get that anxious feeling for other things like when you think about

  • Finishing your assignments and doing homework
  • Doing odd jobs around the house (how’s that broken lightbulb and mowing going?)
  • Learning to cook (when exactly were you going to get the ingredients you need)
  • Calling your parents
  • Buying birthday or Christmas presents
  • Writing your resume
  • Asking that girl/boy out that you know
  • Or something not on this list (close your eyes and clear your mind and it will come to you shortly)

Now, I was going to start my own training program in time with me putting out these 5 tips so that I could journal my progression in the posts. Yet, for some strange reason I didn’t actually get around to it. I might do it in my next post.

Err…actually maybe not, I’ve got other things to distract myself with and I don’t really feel like doing it right now (I’m feeling all anxious and whatnot).

Anywho, without further ado you have graduated from the University of Epic Fail.

Dear Reader, I hereby grant you permission to go forth out into the world and using these tips I have given you, achieve sweet, sweet bugger all.

Good luck my friend

Oops, I couldn't find an appropriate image. I'll put one up tomorrow

Oops, I couldn’t find an appropriate image. I’ll put one up tomorrow

How To Fail Epically #4 – Make It a Herculean Effort To Get Started

This is a guide on how NOT to train to complete 100 crunches consecutively; however, the secret advice and tips within are SO BAD that it can teach you to fail at everything fitness-wise and beyond!

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Tip Number #4 Make It A Herculean Effort To Get Started

Arnie

Why are you admiring my abs when you need to get to ze choppa

This is a serious undertaking and it will be a long, tough journey to fitness and becoming incredibly buff (Think Arnie Big).

Professionals, like Arnie, don’t make do with mediocre equipment or mediocre exercises. They know that

Mediocre workout = Mediocre results

They don’t accept ‘good’ or ‘basic’ training plans they 

Only Accept The BEST

They only use heavily researched, minutely fine tuned programs to achieve MAXIMUM results. You’re like John West Tuna

Only the Best will do.

Never compromise, never surrender. If you only have two hours to work out and it takes you two and a half to get in a full session. DON’T WORK OUT. Go big or go home is your motto. In fact, go big or don’t even bother leaving home is where it’s at.

Now you could do crunches at home but is that the option that will get MAXIMUM RESULTS?

Is that would a true champion would do?

How are you going to achieve Max Results without the equipment gyms have?

Simple Answer: You can’t, so sign up for a gym.

No, I don’t mean the local, slightly old gym that’s a two minute walk from your house (only accept the best remember) I mean the professional one that power-lifters use that’s a 15 minute drive and never has parking available. You know the one?

Accepting the best isn’t just limited to the equipment. You’re going to need the best, top of the line workout gear.

Don’t know why you should wear flat shoes to the gym?

Add that to your research list and to your shopping list.

You also need to find the ultimate training program and perfect exercise selection. You could just work on your abs doing crunches but there are hundreds of other ab exercises you could be doing and you need to find the best ones.

In fact a lot of exercises that work other parts of your body also target the abs. These exercises are more functional and help you develop abdominal strength doing movements you will do in real life (unlike crunches).

The best workout won’t just target one muscle but the whole body. After thoroughly researching, you might want to include squats, bench press or deadlifts. Before you start working out you’re going to need to develop the Ultimate Training Plan by answering the following questions

  • Do you squat to parallel or until your butt touches the ground?
  • Should you use a high bar or low bar position during the squat?
  • Will you use dumbbells or barbells on the bench press?
  • Free weights or machines?
  • Body weight resistance or weighted resistance?
  • How many sets is best?
  • How many reps are best?
  • What is the best technique possible?
  • What are the best supplements available?
  • When is the best time to eat for muscle gain?
  • What is the best diet to maximise strength gains?
  • How much proteins, fats and carbs?
  • What is the most effective warm up?
  • Should you stretch?

Maybe this seems excessive and you’re thinking “Well my friend Dave works out regularly. Why don’t I just ask him to teach me?”

Well is Dave the best in the world?

if Yes, excellent take his advice

If No, disregard his advice as he isn’t the best. Only accept the best.

If you ain’t first (read: best) you’re last.