My Personal Manifesto

I will uphold my values of freedom and independence and strive to create an environment where I have complete autonomy. I will keep things organized. I will make things simple. I will laugh and endeavor to make others laugh with me. I will act with integrity in all my actions, being honest and fair and always trying to do the right thing. I will at all times attempt to use good judgment, common sense, and wisdom. I will remain a life long learner and always seek to broaden my body of knowledge. I will help when I can, however I can. I will be dependable to those who rely on me. I will be authentic and take responsibility for the direction of my own life. I will create my own meaning and purpose. I will seek only internal justification. I will participate and engage with life. I will remind myself that I will die. I will express gratitude for those things that move me. I will never stop asking the big questions. I will let go of the idea that the world needs to be rational. I will be prepared. I will think less and do more. I will do what makes me proud.

Minimalist WebSite/Blog Design

One of my fundamental beliefs about mental health is that “doing” things is better than “thinking”. Creating a website that’s designed with thinking less in mind is a little like sharing a drink with someone and trying to talk them out of being an alcoholic. Incessantly reading other people’s thoughts is one of the hallmarks of an over-thinker. You read and read and read, always in search of a different angle or new answer to questions you’ve been pondering your whole life.

So, I asked myself what types of structural things on websites promote more thinking and how can I change that. Anyone whose ever spent more than 5 minutes on the ol’ interwebs has probably traveled down the rat hole of link surfing. So my first order of business is going to be to limit the number of in-article links. Hopefully you will only follow them if the need is urgent.

It’s also been my experience that the longer a post becomes the more likely it is to contain more than one primary point or idea. When that happens your brain begins to connect more and more ideas with your existing stash of ideas and they have, as James Altucher calls it, idea sex. More ideas are birthed and before long you are thinking too damn much and not doing. So my intent is to make posts as short and concise as possible. I doubt I will be able to prevent your mind from wandering but I don’t want to be an enabler either.

The last piece of the puzzle is a minimalist design and clean user interface. Distractions cause thinking. I will try to provide a clean site with very little in the way of bells and whistles to send that pea brain of yours into stimulative shock.

I’d like for this site to be like a smooth sip of tea, something that coddles the soul. I don’t want it to be jolting like a shot of Jaegermeister. Get the point and move on with your life.

Freedom

Touching and beautifully written.

A Lion Sleeps in the Heart of the Brave

what-cannot-be-said-will-be-wept

And so I keep talking
Until the tears
Stop falling

And so I keep walking
Until the path
Is worn solid

And so I keep looking
Until the hereafter
Reveals peace

And so I keep writing
Until the words
Speak truth

And so I keep fighting
Until my heart
Belongs to me

And so I keep loving
Until my spirit
Is free

View original post

On sexiness and aging

As I get older I see the pain and sadness on the faces of female family and friends as their bodies deteriorate. Taut skin starts to sag. Once smooth faces begin to wrinkle. Hair becomes gray and coarse. Posture suffers. Aches and pains cause a decline in activity.

For better or worse humans are obsessed with outward physical appearance as the only measuring stick of beauty and sexiness. We are conditioned to tie much of our self worth to our outer shell. Females endure this hardship far worse than men because of the historical vestiges of a patriarchal society.

I think there are many men, mostly shallow and insecure in their own right, who will continue to judge all women against an untenable perfection, against the goddess they have in their dreams. One whose only role is to fulfill sexual fantasy.

But that man is not every man.

That view is one of a single dimension. What about those of us who view sexiness in multiple dimensions? The physical and the mental and the personal. Intelligence, humor, courage, independence, self-sufficiency, clarity, curiosity, inner strength, and kindness are some of the important components for me. There are many others. It’s not a checklist. There are any number of combinations that work. But sexy, for me, comes with many of these options – not just one.

Sexiness in my world is not simply about lust in the physical realm. It’s about the respect and admiration of another, secure in her person, and resolute in her spirit. It’s not about what you wear, it’s about how you wear it. An “overweight” woman who walks with her head held high, smiling, with radiant confidence and self-assuredness, on her way to the philosophy section of a book store is far sexier to me than a ditsy 36-24-36 with all the latest medical improvements and runway fashions.

To be clear. I don’t abhor physical beauty (or plastic surgery for that matter). I just think far too much emphasis is placed on it. It is destructive to the psyches of millions. I don’t want a painting on a flat surface. I want a gem with many facets.

Ladies, as you age please know that not all men will be judging you on your body alone. There are those of us who choose to look at many other things. In fact, I believe that as I age, the importance of non-physical traits over physical ones will only grow for me. I am not alone.

Take care of your health, but know that includes all of you, not just the parts we can see. Sexiness emanates from your core, not from your skin.

Update: some people have misunderstood this to mean that physical chemistry is unimportant to me. This would be false. The physical aspect of things is important. It’s just the combination that is most important. I wouldn’t fall in love with the most beautiful woman in the world just because of her looks and I wouldn’t fall in love with another woman who satisfied all the other qualities but that I had no physical attraction to.

Do what makes you feel proud

It seems that most of us spend our entire lives searching for a framework within which to make decisions. What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life? What are my values? What are my goals? Once we’ve settled on answers to those questions we feel as if we can use those as foundational pillars to make decisions moving forward.

Except most of those things are fluid. Your purpose may change many times as you age. There is no inherent meaning of life, other than the meaning you choose give it. Values will change with time as you gather experience, knowledge, and exposure to outside influences. Goals are ephemeral and come and go as they are met or forgotten. Making decisions with these things as your foundation will always be a moving target. It will cause confusion and anxiety.

I settled on a simple heuristic to solve this problem.

Decision: {insert any decision you need to make}

Thought: if I look back at my life at some point in the future, what decision would make me feel proud of my past self?

Action:  Do that.

 

 

This is one of my favorite quotes. That which you seek is usually right under your nose, or in this case, right between your ears.

I wrote about this in more detail in On the search for happiness.

A Ferdydurking Blog

‘The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there’

– Robert M. Pirsig

View original post

Choosing Freedom, Embracing Anxiety

You are trapped between a desire for freedom, independence, and autonomy and the comfort and routine of safety and security. Freedom, by definition, means constant, mindful choosing. Freedom means all your decisions mean something. Freedom comes with responsibility.

The freedom to choose in every moment – how you will react, what you will do, what values you will choose to uphold, how you will think – and the responsibility that entails causes extreme anxiety for most people. When there is no one to blame but yourself…there is no one to blame but yourself. Your mental farm is devoid of scapegoats.

Your alternative is to cede your decision making authority to others. To seek safety and comfort under the veil of someone else’s willingness to embrace freedom. Should they choose incorrectly, it’s not your fault. You can complain and then return safely to the status quo lifestyle you’ve built. You can remain in that job you hate because it’s easier to stick with the same routine, even in misery, than to use your freedom and choose a different path. A path that may come with discomfort and uncertainty. One that could make a meaningful difference in your life or could make it worse. You’d rather not choose and not know than risk anything on the possibility of a brighter future.

In order to truly feel alive you must embrace the anxiety that comes with freedom. Acceptance of the weight of personal responsibility is not easy but, as with exercise, the more you do it, the easier it will become. You will learn to love anxiety because it means you are alive, you are choosing, and you are scared. You will begin to accept the weight of your decisions and lean into them, as a buffalo charges into a storm, rather than run from them and let the world around you decide for you.

In the end, isn’t it better to be alive with anxiety and freedom than to be dead while your alive without them?

 

I know you are but what am I?

I’m a philosopher. I’m a beer drinker. I’m a nudist. No.

I’m a joker. I’m a smoker. I’m a midnight toker. No.

I’m an atheist. I’m a minimalist. I’m an existentialist. No.

I’m Stiffler’s Mom. I’m Ragnar Lothbrok. I’m Carl Spackler. No.

As you read each of those labels you no doubt associated each of them with something from your own experience and knowledge. You’re interpretation of what those labels mean is entirely subjective.

As intelligent as we humans like to think we are, we have an extremely difficult time processing the deluge of sensory information that hits us every second of every day. In order to more efficiently process that information we’ve had to evolve into creatures that categorize things and use “blink” intuition, lest we end up mauled by the oft-cited saber tooth tiger. While this ability generally serves us well in survival it wreaks all sorts of social havoc.

To categorize something or label it is to put it into a group. That group then comes with a ready made list of attributes and descriptors that may or may not be accurate for all members of that group. Your list of attributes for some label may be entirely different from someone else’s.

The use of language in any form by definition has to limit its scope to the use of a word which may or may not be 100% representative of the thing it is being written or spoken about. It is merely an inexact representation based on someone’s experience and processing of that thing. {Poorly written but I will stick with it.}

Therein lies the problem with describing ourselves using labels on a blog, in a resume, or elsewhere. My interpretation of the label may be entirely different from your own. You cannot experience me as a person with all the labels simultaneously. You have to piece together an opinion based on your knowledge of the generally accepted attributes of each of those labels.

Let’s try a little experiment. When I say BEER DRINKER, what image comes to mind? (Please share yours in the comments if you so choose. This could be fun.)

Beer Drinker: That redneck guy who has Pabst Blue Ribbon and Wheaties for breakfast. His favorite thing to say is, “Hey, it’s Natturday! Let’s have a Natty Light.” He’s probably crushed a beer or two on his head…or on his girlfriend’s. All his stories start with, “Ya’ll ain’t gonna believe this shit.”

Beer Drinker: That douchey fellow in Whole Foods, wearing a periwinkle button down,  who hand selects 6 different craft beers to put in his little take home cardboard holder. He makes special trips to buy “Growlers” because the type of beer he likes doesn’t come in a case of bottles or cans. He refers to Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light and all forms of non-craft beer as “that yellow piss.”

Beer Drinker (Me/Mine): I like beer. Mostly I drink whatever is cold and light. I don’t define myself by what type of beer I drink. I just like the taste of some better than others. I don’t harbor ill will towards you for liking something else. Some days I drink craft. Some days I drink Coors Light. I like beer better than wine and spirits though I drink both on occasion. Side note: it only takes a couple of nips of good ole North Georgia moonshine to destroy what’s left of your gut biome (first time I’ve been able to work that into a blog post). If you need that replaced then sip away.

The point I am trying to make is this – if you choose to label yourself or others please understand that those labels come with all sorts of baggage and interpretations. Be careful.  I will leave you with this.

Jeff’s Rules for Labeling Yourself

  • If you can avoid labeling yourself. Do that. Be mysterious.
  • If you can’t spell a label, don’t use it. (Wine connoisseur? Sesquipedalian?) GMAFB.
  • If you don’t like the generally accepted attributes associated with a label, don’t use it.
  • Your opinion of what a label means doesn’t matter. Only everyone else’s. You are only using labels to describe yourself to them – they will interpret.

Now please fill up the comments with funny interpretations of BEER DRINKER.