The Greatest Gift You Can Give

Hey everyone,

Means a lot to me that you could take the time out of your busy life to read my stream of consciousness. I know I took time away from mine, which is difficult. What with all the endless scrolling and being on time consuming (and often empty) apps on my phone. It was a difficult choice but alas, I choose to be creative rather than consumptive. Wait a long way of saying: thank you for your time and attention (I’m working on my long-windedness ;p).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about social media and how I use it. I find myself troubled by it to be completely honest. It seems there is something very strange taking place in our society in terms of our communication and attention. Are we losing it? Are we forgetting it? Are we evolving? Are we devolving? What is happening?

Yes, this is actually how my mind works. Be thankful it isn’t yours.

The recent pandemic certainly has not helped with this. Being pressured to stay in doors and avoid social gathers (for good reason) has resulted in us looking for connection elsewhere. Human beings are not solitary creatures, we are pack animals by nature. Tens of thousands of years ago, we survived as tribes and today we still require others or a sense of having others to survive. Tom Hanks in Castaway is a perfect example of this, with creating a friend out of a random beach volleyball. So just like a hairy Tom Hanks and our great-great-great ancestors, we too need to feel connected and in the absence of real and close social-interactions, we are finding this through our technology and in particular: social media.

What are the problems you may ask? Well, for starters, I really question how real any of what we see on Social Media is. Are the things we “post” accurate depictions of who we are? Some may say things like, ‘yes, this is me’ or ‘this is me being vulnerable!’. But for whom? Ourselves? Our family? Our friends? Or even more uniquely, our followers?

I find the concept of followers very interesting. What exactly are followers? Are they friends? Or are they something entirely unique? It seems that followers are similar to whatever it was celebrities used to have. I guess you could call them fans but now we call them followers. Or certainly people that are interested in you and what you “stand for”. But what do you stand for? What do I stand for?

I’m not exactly sure.

Herein lies the problem. Or what I think could be the problem. We are confusing our identities between our waking real-world lives and whatever it is that we are presenting through our social media accounts. I think there is something uniquely dangerous happening here, in terms of, where is the line? Who are we really or what are we becoming.

Let’s not circle the drain here. I say this because, really, I’m concerned about what I am becoming. Why else would I bring it up? I see that I am distracted by the buzzes, the beeps, the icons that take me away from what really matters: my time and what I want to be doing with it.

There is an interesting phenomenon that I have noticed in my own life. I always am chasing the moment that just passed. I love my life. I am truly blessed. But it’s almost like I don’t fully enjoy the nectar of life that is available in the moment. I am always just a fraction of something distracted. And when this happens, you miss things. You take them for granted thinking that it will be like this forever. But the reality is, it won’t. All things shall pass and all things are impermanent.

So what is the solution? I say, make the choice of which world you want to live in: the digital one or the real one. You can’t live in both simultaneously. You just can’t. One is the Matrix where things are controlled by insidious robots called Algorithms that want to drain you of your most precious resources: time and attention. They do this by distracting you with extensions based on whatever it is you seem to be interested in. The other is the real word, where you spend time and give attention towards people that you actually know, where you can hopefully be who you really are. People that you swear you think are driving you absolutely insane one moment and have you laughing uncontrollably the next. Family. Friends. People where you can speak and be heard. The choice is yours, you can alternate if you want to. But like anything, you can’t do both at the same time effectively.

Have you ever tried having a meaningful conversation with your partner while writing a diatribe against someone who made an inflammatory comment towards Beyond Meat Burgers? Probably not, but you probably have tried something similar. And my guess is that it didn’t go very well. You can only do one thing well at a time, human beings are not effective multi-taskers. Similarly, you can only live in one of these worlds, effectively, at a time.

Both take up the same resources: time and attention. And while I am not saying that you need to be a luddite and smash your internet router, I am suggesting that we need to be a little bit more present around the organic people in our lives that actually matter. And really, what I am saying is that I need to be more present around my family. Mark my words, in a world where distractions are infinite, the greatest gift you can give anyone is your time and attention.

Thank you for reading.

Robert Grant

People Do Not Change…

Unless They Want to Change

This is an important rule in life. Remember it.

I know I haven’t written a blog post in a while and that is due in large part to focusing on further developing our podcast. However, my wonderful daughter woke up early this morning (loudly) and after cajoling her back to sleep, I decided it would be a great time to work on an article (thanks Sophia). Today’s article is about a very simple rule that will bring you a lot more freedom in your life. The rule goes as follows: people do not change, unless they want to change.

Remember Newton’s Laws of Motion? (I don’t, in fact, I had to Google it before continuing any further). In 1687, Isaac Newton (then not yet referred to as “Sir” until he was knighted in 1705, thanks Google) proposed his three laws of motion in his ground breaking work the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. His theories on motion, which eventually became laws (the highest order of the Scientific Method), revolutionized the way we see the world today. Well, some of us anyways (I won’t drop any specific names but they see the world as non-spherical).

Thanks for inventing gravity, bro!

Now, obviously, I haven’t read his book but from what I gather it can be summarized as didactically exploring the three different Laws of Motion. The three laws are as follows: #1 “without resistance: objects in motion, stay in motion”; #2 “the greater the force, the greater the acceleration”; and #3 “for every action, there is a reaction”.  I am no physics teacher (so definitely don’t quote me on the 2nd law) but for the purposes of this article we are going to extrapolate the theories of momentum and motion into human behaviour. That is that people who act a certain way are not going to change unless they either A) have to or B) want to. No amount of wishful thinking or mindforcework is going to make a person change. You can encourage change, you can even be the model of said changes but in the end: the individual is the ultimate decider, the force and the accelerator, of change in their life.

I have heard it said that a majority of the world’s mental frustration and angst is based upon trying to control things that are simply out of their control. When I work with children (and clients of all ages for that matter), I always tell them that the only person they can control is themselves. Not nature. Not animals (especially not cats). And not others. So stop trying. If there is a behavior that you do not like about someone, you have choices to make. You can either tell them about it and hope they decide to change their behavior or you stop worrying about it altogether. Notice how both of these choices are under your control.

If you have a friend who is chronologically challenged (they are late for everything, and I’m not talking 15 minutes here, I mean an hour) and/or has extremely poor communication skills (perhaps they were raised by Carthusian monks on a lifelong monastic silence) and it drives you bonkers. Stop. Reflect. Is any of this behavior yours to control? No. It isn’t. So stop trying. These people will not change unless they have to or want to. Now, that is not to say that you say nothing or do nothing with this sheepish individual. Again, go back to your self-agency. You can make choices for yourself. Ask yourself: what do I want? If you want your friend to improve on quality x,y, or z, then tell them. But do not text them. We shirk from conflict enough as it is these days and texting, being the new form of human communication that it is (even angry letters sent from Popes and contemporaries of the Middle Ages typically took time to put a level of thought into their diatribes), is simply not an effective method of having a constructive discussion. If you want people to change, you need to tell them and then they can decided whether or not they want to.

The other version of change is when people have to. But really, nobody has to do anything if they don’t want something of it. Take for example the case of the “hopeless alcoholic” (I borrow this character  from Bill W’s Alcoholic Anonymous) who can’t stop drinking. Indeed, the compulsive drinking of this reprobate seems to suggest that they are afflicted with something not dissimilar from a disease. It is killing them yet they cannot stop. They are addicted. They are powerless to the drink. Yet we hear of so many people with similar tales of addiction that are able to successfully become sober and remain that way the rest of their lives. But how? Because they want to. They want to be clean. For their families, their friends, themselves. They are proud of their success and their choices (and damn proud they should be). Even if an individual is arrested and told that they can’t, say, have a drink. They still could do it. But if they look at themselves and realize: I am not proud of the fact that I physically assaulted a newspaper box and soiled myself at a bus stop, I need to get myself together here. That is not them having to do anything, that is them wanting to do something. They want to change themselves. These are lasting changes. Not when the wife says do this or I’ll leave. Not when the police say do this or you’re going to prison. Only when the individual says, I need to do this for [insert reason, clause, ultimatum here].

I could write a lot more on this. I have decided that I will and put them into a book to be lost in the oversaturated market that is self-help books. But that is enough for right now. If you like this, then comment on it and ask for more. Share it with your friends. Print it. Frame it. Or burn it. Whatever you do, realize it is your choice. Realize that no one has control over you. That you are the most important voice and decider in your life. That is not to say you should be a selfish individual but rather that you do things because you want to. Not because you feel like you have to. If someone really cares about you, they will want you to do what you want to do. They will not pressure you, they will encourage you. So make good choices and remember that you can’t control anyone, so stop trying to force it. People do not change, unless they want to.

R.G.

Image taken from: https://en.dopl3r.com/memes/dank/how-people-fixed-lightbulbs-before-isaac-newton-invented-gravity/792013