Living (in)Sanely

Theories and Stories about self-improvement, self-development, centered personal and social living via the power of our minds.

2 notes &

The philosophy of Plato and the Meaning of Life

Don’t you love Serendipity? I would, if I only understood what the heck it is. Dictionaries usually give you the weirdest, least specific and ungraspable of definitions they can make.

But even if I don’t know what it means, it might apply to this:

I stopped at Barnes and Noble on my way back home from my sister’s birthday dinner (asian buffet, Hong Kong type), feeling like a disconnected brain floating in the middle of the city’s air, id est: distracted as in really ADD.

Instead of going to my usual design-tech-web-writing magazines I wandered by the Religion section with a conscientious effort to not stop there and passed by the Philosophy section, which not all B & N stores seem to have at an easy location for me to find.

I was hooked by Driving with Plato by Robert Rowland Smith. Gotta tell ya, I love humor, pop science and weird theories as much as I love philosophy.

Well, I didn’t get to any part that explained the relation between Plato and driving, not in a satisfactory way, which makes me think it’s just a literary tool to catch your eye, which in my case worked wonders.

What I did get was some flyby ideas about the meaning of being born, being alive, narrative, and the impossibility of defining a human when you are still midway in a life.

As RRS seems to be, I am unconvinced by empiricism, which assesses that we can not know or define anything based on theories or general rules but by taking into account only the individual experience: How can you know a man is a man? Who can tell? Shouldn’t everyone make this definition in his own life by living it? How can we tell we are humans if there is no general rule of what a human is?

The way of empiricism is the way of complete uncertainty, narcissism, relativism.

But still, as humans in process, we define ourselves through our lives, by the narrative of the life story we write of ourselves, by acting, performing, fighting, loving. This means that Plato was not right either, because we are not just actions of a pure idea, but living creatures building themselves.

We cannot follow empiricism, void of any meaning and definition, or ideal realism, full of ourselves without proof.

Then, how are we to define ourselves? And how to know if this definition which is not pure theory is valid and worthy to give ourselves to others?

Filed under philosophy Plato Life Meaning

4 notes &

Is there a way to complain productively?

I know there is, usually my complaining at restaurants or customer service bars is very polite and gets me a lot of free stuff without even asking.  All I do is present my problems and innocently ask the clerk/server/agent what I am doing wrong. After that they do all that they can or call the manager to see how they can make up.

What I do is a mixture or method acting, psychology and subtle marketing. Talk about living insanely, mixing all those techniques in real life.

But that is not what this post is supposed to be, it’s just a commentary to my comment on Guy Winch’s book on complaining psychology: “The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships, and Enhance Self-Esteem” (amazon.com link here)

He reads his speech on Authors@Google channel on youtube with an european accent, humor and anecdotes. It’s fun and if he didn’t read his speech it would be a whole lot better. The video made me want to read the book. God knows I need it.

You can watch the video here.

The presenter says “if you really want his book”. Haha. Funny. He goes on to say that “if you didn’t get it” which makes me believe that they gave away the book before the conference so it would make sense that someone might “really” want it. The wording still makes for a funny moment if you are sarcastic like me. Sarcastic in a fun way.

Filed under complaining psychology youtube google author conference authors@google

0 notes &

How to survive a family trip in 5 easy steps

These last two weeks have been a jungle of family, endless rides to all errands possible, travels and sitting next to the people I love but sometimes wonder what is it I love about them in the first place.

We went on a trip to Mexico, a christening, California, government offices on both sides of the border, long lines, short lines, small talks, big talks, laughs and fights. Throw in a tantrum or two. There you have it, that’s my July 2011.

As am I living insanely but don’t want to reduce myself to just pure insanity, here are my 5 tips on staying mentally healthy in the throng of too many people, too many places and too many things to do.

Listen. Just shut your mouth and listen. Yes, you want to be understanding and compassionate, lend a helping ear to the socially-thirsty; I just kept my mouth shut to avoid yelling at someone “are you nuts?”. You hear so many things and see so many bad decisions people make in their lives; after all, if you are in a trip that means you didn’t see them often and there is a lot to catch up to; that includes bad/good/average parenting, sexual discoveries (don’t ask) and so so much gossip. So, stay quiet, smile and listen.

Research for your next stand-up comedy routine. If you find yourself uninterested in what others have to say, and sadly everyone has family members who never grew up the let’s-party stage of life, pretend you are getting new characters for impersonations: see how the person talking to you moves, their accent, do they have any ticks, the rhythm of their speech, something unusual in their talk or movement. Try to mirror them slightly. They will think you are being agreeable, you will just amuse yourself. 

Have a light sense of humor. You don’t need to be the life of the party or the next David Letterman. When someone mistakes you for their dumping site of all their life’s problems and misery, think of it as jokes, think of it as a character a comedian is playing and follow along, keep the story flowing, don’t fight it and give it a light nudge of “hey, it could be worse, huh”.

Escape. Take some time for yourself, to take it slow, breath in the sea breeze, the noises of the city, the different colors, take a walk around the block to see the neighborhood or just pretend you are constipated and lock yourself in the bathroom long enough to lower your blood pressure.

Leave big decisions for when you are back home. If you have seen the movie “How to make an american quilt” you will understand this, if not, go rent it and see it. After the melodrama everyone lived in their younger lives, there is a moment when you just take a step back and reconsider, without pressure, what is it that you really want to do. That’s when everything falls in place. Don’t give in to the family pressure to take that job that pays more and leave the one you love, don’t change careers, lovers, cars, and don’t marry your kids. Wait until you are back home and can ponder things thoroughly.

That is it, I will not complicate it anymore for you. It worked for me, I just got the notification of a new job I had been waiting for, the green light for a project I had built slowly and I feel like I can enjoy it.

Enjoy yourself, too.

Filed under how-to family

10 notes &

Dogs walk in the path of zen

We need to exercise. Dogs need exercise. We need to simplify. Dogs live a simple life. It makes sense to go to the shelter and walk dogs.

It’s zen, it’s a lesson on basic needs, on happiness. It’s confucian wisdom in fur.

Here is my story of today.

My mom needed to get some tests done at a clinic that is about one freeway exit away from the Arizona Animal Welfare League shelter. I dropped her at the clinic by 8:30 and headed to the shelter from there.

Most dogs were taken-care-of already, walked, fed, potty-breaked and their dens cleaned. After a few random errands and getting my name tag fixed, I was told that I could just play with the dogs or walk them again if I wanted.

I had walked up and down the A and B lines of crates and seen Ethan, a handsome American Staffordshire Terrier furred in white with a few light-brown patches. I liked at first glance. He saw me walk up to his door with the leash and went from lazy wait to frantic tail wags in a second. I put him on the leash and went to the door.  

He wanted to squeeze through the exit, and I tried the wait command for a while, creating a space between him and the door and not letting him lunge at it. Just negotiating the door was a challenge; he was too excited, too happy, too muscular to be held.

When we finally went through, he ran to the end of the leash, saw a little chihuahua that was carried by another volunteer and barked at them. Talk about a bully. I don’t usually doubt my ability to handle dogs but this time I was overpowered and wondered if I would end up losing him, maybe chasing him down the street with my shoulder disheveled from the pulling, but there was no harness available and, if it wasn’t because I am broke now, I would have bought one from their store.

We walked out, he in the leading position, me in tow. I saw his white fur shine under the clear sky, his pink skin healing from the mange of his stray days, the thick muscles, his graceful paws stomping the asphalt, the beat-up leash tied to the martingale around his neck, which is broader than the thick of my legs.

I saw him a bully, a total bully, powerful, full of preying instincts, a player, a jock, a kid whose body overgrew his mind.

He reminded me of high school jocks, their ill-directed strength focused on preying on the smaller of their peers, prone to take any challenge, eager to play, to compete, a kid inside, an immature brain on top of all sorts of muscles developed at light speed.

He commanded the sidewalk, approaching any vertical creature, poles, bushes, trash cans, to read them and then mark them. I countered his macho walk by threading the leash from the collar, under his arm and then up, so if he pulled, he ended up with the leg lifted and walking three-legged with less traction.

He pulled to the end of the leash and stopped, pulled and stopped, and again. After a few minutes he realized he could not pull anymore. We kept walking and his pent-up energy burned slowly in the back burner of the constant pacing without chances for pee-marking.

We passed by a construction site and he was entertained by the site of the men working, their loud talks, the banging sounds; he lusted after the green lawns in front of office buildings, check on debris left on the sidewalk by yesterday’s wind storm.

His ears rested, folded back on the side of his head, as he heeled next to me, soothed by the exercise, flowing in the zen of his body doing what it was meant to.

We took a few breaks under tree shades, he saw random crows lounging in the lawns and wanted to chased them, follow his hunter instincts, but maybe he guessed it impossible to break free from the leash, turned his head back to me, saw me standing there and looked back at the birds, un moving, muscles relaxing. “Good boy. Let’s go.”

It was close to a hundred degrees out there, his tongued hung from the left of his mouth, the rythmic panting matched the sound of his nails pounding the asphalt on our way back. He sniffed people as we passed them by. He showed no trace of people-aggression, only a little curiosity and then he forgot about them, concentrated on his walk.

As we made our last turn he saw his foster mom waiting for him outside of the shelter and raced to her until the leash cut his run short. He turned to look at me and I ignored him. “Easy”, I told him, and he matched my speed.

The walk was done, the energy burnt, the bully mellowed down to a thirsty boy. He walked away with his foster mom. I guess he forgot about me right there and then. Zen is like that. You live in the present, free from the categories people think you fit: he was no bully anymore, just a dog.

Filed under Dog Zen Exercise

1 note &

To be young and fruitful. These literary agents got very juicy contracts for their writers, debutant novelists.
They were portrayed in Poets & Writers magazine, which I read today. A very interesting read, short, full of wise words. It treats the reader to some ideas on what to bring to the agent, the process of finding a publisher, patience, being open to criticism.
The article also gives the emails and companies these agents are currently working for. “Currently” being the operative word.

To be young and fruitful. These literary agents got very juicy contracts for their writers, debutant novelists.

They were portrayed in Poets & Writers magazine, which I read today. A very interesting read, short, full of wise words. It treats the reader to some ideas on what to bring to the agent, the process of finding a publisher, patience, being open to criticism.

The article also gives the emails and companies these agents are currently working for. “Currently” being the operative word.

Filed under Read

29,077 notes &

Why do I prefer cloudy days?
It might be because they are cooler and the colors around are softer, you can see everything without squinting.
cordisre:

The.Magician (by Chris)

Does anyone else like clouds?

Why do I prefer cloudy days?

It might be because they are cooler and the colors around are softer, you can see everything without squinting.

cordisre:

The.Magician (by Chris)

Does anyone else like clouds?