Dear Internet — Six Things I Admire (and Dislike) About You

(#25 and #26 of 27 — a synthesis of two posts: one was overly ironic, one was overly vague, but both had excellent visuals)

Sandstone-PhotoEssayPepTalk-2

Dear Internet,

We’ve been together in this relationship for quite a while and let’s face it, it’s complicated.

I’m writing this letter to let you know how much appreciate everything you do for me — both the good and the bad — and what I intend to do about it.

1. You provide endless resources and support to my quest of constant learning. Sometimes this is a distraction but mostly it is a good thing. By putting undiscovered worlds of knowledge at my fingertips, you help me think and work like a polymath. As I integrate and extend my central nervous system into you, the extent of my repertoire becomes limited only by my imagination. I want to further improve the quality of my integration with you.

Instant-Learning-Gratification

2. You provide endless streams of inane and meaningless novelty and tempt me constantly with click-bait designed to rob me of my precious time and attention. This is a useless distraction. That said, nobody is immune from stodgy comfortable thinking habit and you offer a source of fresh ideas and perspectives. I will choose to see this aspect of you as just another way to keep myself young in spirit, and to keep my repertoire dynamic and relevant. But I will sip sparingly from your ocean of distracted drivel.

shark jump

3. You enable me to move and sift more quickly through vast amounts of information. In a span of mere minutes, I can go from having understanding to achieving insight, and from achieving insight to unlocking foresight. As I do this however, my mammalian pack rat habits cause me accumulate a cluttered landscape of open browser tabs on my screens and in my subconscious. I become bloated with unresolved notes and suspended ideas. This is not your problem — it’s mine. Every day I’m getting better at managing the vital balance of creative clutter and zen-like simplicity.

fat cat on couch

4. You hamper me with vast amount of misinformation and dubious content. I  can waste hours trying to sort the signal from the noise, and more of than not I just don’t bother trying. I will choose to see this as a reminder and test  to maintain my critical thinking skills, and to guard against the temptation  of lazy thinking. As much as I’ve outsourced parts of my brain to the cloud, I can’t ever delegate my faculty for judgement and discernment.

liar

5. You are on all the time — 24x7x365.25 — and tempt me to be on with you. This pulls me away from being present with the people are important to me, the people who I love. Since that is unacceptable, I’ve already limited how much of my life you get to be a part of. I also ignore you for days at a stretch. In fairness, you do ask me about my friends and loved ones and even provide opportunities for me to interactive with them, but it’s on your terms and in your space. I would trust you more if you encouraged me to spend time with them in the real world. There are parts of you, Internet, that are more aligned with my interests and I will seek to connect with those parts.

maya and kristen dancingI know that we’re both still growing and evolving. Even as I’ve barely scratched the surface of your being, I see how rapidly you are changing. This is a source of inspiration and provides some of the fuel for my own continued development.

Thank you, Internet… and ttyl,

D

Silent inflection point

(#24 of 27, a calendrical inflection point)

Exactly one year ago yesterday was the date of the post I’m revisiting now: “How to Have More Engaging Conference Calls -::- Four Lessons from Morning Radio Shows.” That post provided tips on improving webinars and conference calls by using some of the principles of morning show producers and deejays, the main principle being, “no dead air.”  Keep talking, keep making noise.

Last night a friend asked me for my opinion on silence in a live facilitated conversation setting. They wanted to know “how long is too long,” and how to break the silence of “deal air” once a certain threshold of quiet pause had been reached.  If I said I wasn’t tempted to say nothing until he answered his own question, I would be lying.

Baby Bjorn at Gooseberry Falls Lake Superior

I love silence. I thrive on silence. I come from a long line of “strong silent types,” aka, action-oriented introverts on my dad’s side.

On my mom’s side, not as much… over there it’s more about hyperactive ideation, grandiose visions and massive amounts of detail, all combined together in a warm delicious Toastmaster wrap.

Lately I’ve been anything but silent, playing more to my mitochondrial RNA with day after day of verbose blog posts, ponderings and pronouncements. I’ve been building my writing muscles, for sure, but must admit to looking forward to the rest-and-recover phase of this exercise regimen.

Just a few more days to go.

Turning Pain into Pleasure

(#23 of 27, continuing on the discussion of how optimists and pessimists choose to use their memory and imagination)

A smart optimist knows that it would be a mistake to blithely tell someone who is in a dark place to simply “look on the bright side.”   Glass half empty half full whatever, there is such as thing as reality. The reality is that some people have an experience of pain — past or present — that is coloring their ability to see into the future.

icy trees

With enough tact, class and emotional intelligence, a smart optimist can navigate those situations, demonstrating grace and empathy, with no need to “fix” the other person or “teach” them a “better way to see things.”

But what happens when the smart optimist is feeling the pain themselves?  What happens when “they should know better,” but nevertheless, don’t?    This is where cognitive restructuring comes in.

Cognitive restructuring is the ultimate Jedi mind trick that all smart optimists must be equipped with.  Simply put: cognitive restructuring is a way to turn pain into pleasure. 

All thinking is subject to reframing – it is impossible to think something without somehow giving it meaning and context. Every time we remember something, we reassemble the memory and give it shape, color, flavor, texture.  Same goes for thoughts of the present and imaginings of the future.

Given that there’s no way to avoid reframing, it behooves us to get good at doing it.  Cognitive restructuring is the smart and optimistic way to channel our natural propensity to reframe thoughts.

Once we get good at this skill, we can perform magic. Pain can be transmogrified into pleasure. Humiliation converts into honor. Agony can be made exquisite.

hsbc-ad-pleasure-pain

There is no pain, there’s only the frame.

Timing is anything

(#22 of 27, a collage and re-assembly of elements from a post from last year on the importance of choosing the right timing to make a strong effort, and the importance of a strong effort to making the timing right)

Yesterday I wrote about bluffing, bourbon and brotherly love. Today under the blanket of a blizzard I’ll briefly continue with the love theme, tie it back to the concept of time and add in a dash of mysticism…

Blizzard Window Triptych

Falling in love — love of any kind, being, thing, idea or person — is a conscious effort.*

The exertion of love creates something like a field of gravity or energy. When delivered with just the right amount of effort, it’s a force that seems to slow down time… and bend space.

Blizzard Sliding Door Glare 1

A strong effort driven by love will, all by itself, open up tiny windows of opportunity and turn them into doorways of fortune.

Blizzard Sliding Door Glare

It’s never too late and it’s never too early.  It’s just a matter of focusing the energy into those little blips of timing that keep presenting themselves.  Blip.  There goes one.  Blip. Nearly missed it.

Blizzard Window Horiz Blinds

By seeing the available window and leaping through it, the Wizard arrives precisely when he means to.

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, Fancy Bourbon and Seven Kinds of Love

(#21 of 27, because bourbon is better than wine, and Valentine’s Day only captures a small part of what ‘love’ is)

Every so often, some guys and I hang out, play Texas Hold ‘Em poker and drink lots of bourbon. These are evenings of pure male camaraderie, featuring…

  • sophisticated mental calculations involving card hand probabilities and wager stakes,
  • epic bouts of bluffing and psychological sleight-of-hand,
  • munching of salty crunchy snacks, and
  • discussions on the finer points of high-end bourbon packaging.

Bourbon and Chips

Each time we get together we bond as friends and learn each other’s ideas, opinions, experiences, moods, temperaments, bluffing patterns and of course preferences in distilled grain-based beverages.

There’s a reason people recommend the “guy’s night out” or “girl’s night out” concept: because hanging out with friends is the least complicated type of love.

There are 7 kinds of love

According to Robert Sternberg, there are three main ingredients to love:

  1. Intimacy – attachment, closeness, connectedness and bondedness
  2. Passion – limerence and sexual attraction
  3. Commitment – decisions to remain with another and plan for the future

By combining these factors seven different ways, we get the following types of love:

Combinations of intimacy, passion, commitment
Intimacy Passion Commitment
Nonlove
Liking/friendship x
Infatuated love x
Empty love x
Romantic love x x
Companionate love x x
Fatuous love x x
Consummate love x x x

According to Sternberg’s theory, a loving relationship can grow, shift or shrink within the “space” depicted in the following diagram:

Triangular_Theory_of_Love.svg
It’s an elegant theory that aptly describes many different kinds of loving relationships, as well as the changes that can occur within those relationships over time. The stock love narrative begins with passionate attraction (bottom left corner of triangle), grows into full-fledged romance (left side of triangle) and then from there, a series of increasing commitments pulls the lovers into the center of the diagram. Looking for the idealized arranged marriage scenario? Begin on the lower right corner and work your way around counter-clockwise, hoping for the best. Falling out of love?  That usually means one or two corners got snipped off by the grind of reality and/or poor choices.  And so on and so forth.

But I don’t think that’s the whole picture.

“When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different.”

- George Santayana

Assuming that the love is between two or more people (as opposed to it being between a person and an idea), then there is the possibility — nay, the probability — that the two or more parties are feeling different blends of Colonel Sternberg’s three special spices, at any given time.

So let’s see… there are at least 7 x 7… yep, that makes 49 kinds of love… and most of it is somewhat unrequited.

Unless it’s just good ‘ol poker night with the boys.

Because to paraphrase Santayana, when we agree, we agree for the same reasons.

Bourbon Bottles

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