The rat race and our search for Happiness

Steve Cutts' video titled "Happiness" is disturbingly accurate portrayal of so many aspects of our daily lives. When I watch this video, I can't help but wonder why we buy into all these promises of happiness, and chase them so relentlessly?

Steve Cutts‘ video titled “Happiness” is disturbingly accurate portrayal of so many aspects of our daily lives. When I watch this video, I can’t help but wonder why we buy into all these promises of happiness, and chase them so relentlessly?

Cutts’ work seems to capture so much of the futility of so much of what we do to achieve happiness in our lives. There is a better way to live our lives. Realising that and shifting our perspective isn’t as easy as it seems, though.

Being a Dad is mostly the stuff you didn’t intend doing

Being a Dad is often the stuff that happens while we are making other plans. I wrote this post for the Harassed Mom blog and thought I'd focus on how fatherhood is often more about our kids' plans than our own.

Laura-Kim has been publishing a series of Father’s Day posts and she asked me to make a contribution so I wrote a post titled “Being a Dad” one afternoon, while I was sitting at a park with our kids.

The thing with “Dad posts”, especially when they are written for a Father’s Day series, is that it is tempting to delve into the profundity of fatherhood. I’ve certainly written those posts before.

Fatherhood is what happens when our kids disrupt our plans

This time around, I wanted to focus on an aspect of fatherhood we often don’t focus on because, well, it’s a little embarrassing. You know that saying that “(l)ife is what happens to us while we are making other plans”?

It occurred to me that much of being a Dad is like that. We have things we want to do, either with our kids or on our own, and those things are often not what our kids want to do.

I thought I had something meaningful, profound even, to share about the magic of being a Dad and then I was interrupted.

I was at the park with my daughter at the time. She asked to push her on the swings and I lost my tenuous link to what I thought would become a deep insight into the source of the magic of fatherhood.

As I pushed her higher and higher (these kids are crazy) I tried to remember where my thought train was derailed and failed. Instead I found myself captivated by the sunlight in my little girl’s hair and I realised that she isn’t such a little girl anymore. When did that happen?

Instead, our kids have a tendency to pull us out of our plans and send us down another path (usually a paved path in a park towards an inadequate hiding place). Sometimes being a Dad is recognising that our kids’ impromptu plans are the more important ones.

With that, here is my post. I hope you enjoy it (I certainly enjoyed writing it):

Being a Dad

When you are finished reading my post, go read the other Dads’ contributions to Laura-Kim’s series:

Time is running out

In the background there is a nagging feeling that time is running out for us. We spend all our time trying to satisfy everyone else's demands and rarely satisfying our own.

I keep thinking about demands on my time and who makes them. Of course those demands usually conflict and I find myself trying to find a way to balance these competing demands and answer the ones that matter most.

When we build our lives around ‘what’s due’ we sacrifice our agency to the priorities and urgencies of everyone else.

Seth Godin’s recent post titled “Missed it by that much” speaks to these kinds of challenges and how we can forget that time is running out for us to do things that matter most.

We sometimes like to think that we control our destinies and decide our fates but how often is that actually the case? We have the illusion of choice within shrinking parameters we don’t create. Where does that leave us? Probably not where we think we are, at all.

Time is running out for you to become the person you’ve decided to be, to make the difference you seek to make, to produce the work you know you’re capable of.

In the background there is a nagging feeling that time is running out for us. We spend all our time trying to satisfy everyone else’s demands (probably motivated by what they want to achieve given the time available to them) and rarely satisfying our own.

That is, assuming we even know what we most want to do with the limited time we have available in this life.

Perhaps, as we get a clearer sense of what we most want to do (even if it is just today, this week or this year) one way to reconcile all these seemingly incompatible tugs is to find work that others need and will compensate us for in ways that we can meet others’ needs.

It sounds a bit obvious but our model for employment tends to emphasize employers’ needs over employees’. The result tends to be a lot of people doing work they don’t particularly enjoy, largely in the hope that they have enough time off to do the things that matter most before they die.

It’s a little crazy, when you think about it. All that time we spend waiting for the few moments we really want to get to and then we are so often too exhausted or frustrated to enjoy them or make them as meaningful as we’d intended.

What might help is if there was a closer collaboration between employers and their employees to find ways employees could draw on their passions and make more distinctive and sustainable contributions. It’s probably a bit of a fantasy because it requires everyone’s expectations to sync and they rarely do.

Conventional wisdom is divided on what to do. Either you need to just find a decent job with a decent salary and live for the weekends (and hope there are more of them than not) or you should pursue your passion and wait for the money to follow.

The first option is pretty depressing, albeit practical. I also wonder how much it tends to shorten lives simply because of the layers and layers of sadness and the growing sense that you are wasting your potential to make a better contribution to this world before you pass on from it.

The second option sounds great. It appeals to our desire to find fulfillment and joy in our day jobs that feeds our souls and make our lives that much more meaningful. The trouble with this approach is that there aren’t any clear guidelines for how to trigger the cashflow and you still have bills to pay, mouths to feed, that sort of thing.

So, that leaves us walking a bit of a metaphorical tight-rope where we seek the answer to the question “What is most meaningful in this life?” while earning a salary; trying to figure out to merge the two and do all the other stuff that counts.

While all of that is happening, time is running out.

Image credit: Foto-Rabe

Jason Fried on “The Managerial Entitlement Complex”

Jason Fried's post titled "The Managerial Entitlement Complex" raises some great questions about our ideas about work, productivity and the compromises we feel we should make.

Jason Fried has a terrific post on Medium titled “The Managerial Entitlement Complex” which touches on something I have been thinking about on and off for a while: our attitude towards work versus “not-work”.

Paying someone a salary doesn’t mean you own them. It means they work for you. During work. Work is not always, work is sometimes. If a manager thinks work is always or whenever they want it to be, they have an entitlement complex.

I responded to Fried’s post with some of my thoughts on this:

Isn’t this idea that work trumps everything else a curious one?

On the one hand it is understandable to think that it does. After all, we need to earn a living and we often need to make personal sacrifices at times.

On the other hand, taking care of ourselves and our families is far more important.

You simply can’t function effectively if you are constantly working and pushing yourself. Humans just don’t work that way.

In addition, you don’t receive extra points for neglecting your family (at least not any points that count in the bigger picture).

So why do we buy into this idea so readily?

This isn’t to say that our jobs may never intrude on our personal lives. As Fried points out:

Are there exceptions? Occasionally, yes. True emergencies or crisis are also exempt, of course, but those should happen once or twice a year, if that. And if they’re happening more frequently, there’s an even deeper problem with the company, the culture, and the quality. More hours ain’t gonna fix that.

It’s worth reading his full post. It isn’t very long.

Source: The Managerial Entitlement Complex

Image credit: Pixabay

There may be extraterrestrial life on Saturn’s moon

Space activist Ariel Waldman pointed out that Saturn's moon, Enceladus, may contain extraterrestrial life in its watery ocean that remains hidden beneath thick ice.

Today’s science geek fuel is an Ars Technica interview with space activist, Ariel Waldman. She argues that we should look for extraterrestrial life on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

Enceladus is Saturn’s 6th largest moon and it’s covered by ice. It turns out that there is a watery ocean under that ice. According to an article in Nature titled “Icy Enceladus hides a watery ocean“:

Planetary scientists have found an ocean buried beneath the south pole of the Saturnian moon Enceladus by studying tiny anomalies in the flybys of the Cassini spacecraft. The discovery, which helps to explain earlier observations of geysers, makes Enceladus only the fourth Solar System body found to have a water ocean — making it a potential cradle for life.

In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spotted a plume of water vapour and ice spraying from the south pole of the 500-kilometre-wide body. The new findings show the likely source of this water: a 10-kilometre-thick layer of liquid — similar to the depth of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in Earth’s oceans — covering much of Enceladus’s southern hemisphere and capped by 30 to 40 kilometres of ice.

If you are a space geek, add the Ars interview to your “Watch Later” list and enjoy at your convenience:

Featured image: Water World, courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

If I could just go back in time and make better decisions …

Ever imagine you could go back in time and make better choices? What if you flipped that around and asked whether you could make better decisions today that you won't wish you could change in the future?

“If I could just go back in time and do that differently …”

If you have ever said those words (or thought them), you probably imagined an alternate timeline when you were able to correct a mistake or make a different decision about something that led to your current situation.

Leaving aside the current reality that time is very much a linear experience in one direction, it is appealing to think we could be living a better life if only we made different choices.

I’ve certainly thought about it. Each time I considered the hypothetical possibility that I could go back in time and change something, I arrived at the same conclusion: I would probably lose the wonderful things I have in my life too.

If I gave a different answer then a relationship would have ended sooner and I wouldn’t have made that [insert adjective here] decision later. Then I could have avoided [insert consequences here] and I would be so much better off now!

Sure, if I had 3 wishes and a genie to grant them I’d probably make a couple changes here and there (I’ve thought about this too!). I doubt they would be as dramatic as you may think.

I’ve come to understand that all my past mistakes also involved a series of decisions that led me to this life with a wonderful wife and children and an opportunity to have the experiences I have today.

More recently, I also realised that this idea that we could make different choices to affect our future lives isn’t just a phenomenon of the past. It is very much part of our present too.

This isn’t quite a “Road Not Taken” realisation. Instead what I realised is that each decision we make could one day become that decision we will wish we could have made differently.

It is easy to wish we could be transported back in time to correct a wrong at some perceived pivotal point in our lives. It is also easy to imagine that, by correcting that wrong and making a different decision, we would place our future selves in a far better position. It’s easy because we know we can’t go back in time.

Unfortunately, that desire to change something we can’t influence also keeps us tied to the past and prevents us from moving forward with the life we have now.

What we can influence, though, is the next decision we make. What if we project ourselves forward a few years and consider what impact a decision may have on our lives? Perhaps we could glimpse a likely future and make a better decision now and save ourselves that future angst.

We all make mistakes. I make mistakes daily. Some are minor, others not so much. Learning from those mistakes is an important step towards greater self-awareness and not repeating them.

I think it is also possible to make better decisions and smaller mistakes with a little imagination and foresight. In the process, perhaps we’ll also find ourselves wondering: “If I could just go back in time and do that differently …” a little less often in the future.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

A brand new ending

You can't change your beginning but you can create your brand new ending to your life. Every choice is a step towards that ending.

Prince Ea published an inspiring video titled “Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives” (YouTube version) which is worth a few minutes of your time. One phrase stands out for me: “A brand new ending”. Regardless of how we began our lives and the challenges we have faced, we can still create our brand new ending.

Image credit: Pixabay

Stress, Diabetes and a fresh perspective on Death

We’re now into March (wow, right?!) and I published some new stuff over the weekend that you might have missed; about work stress, Diabetes and a fresh perspective on Death.

We’re now into March (wow, right?!) and I published some new stuff over the weekend that you might have missed; about work stress, Diabetes and a fresh perspective on Death. I understand, you have weekend stuff to do. Here are a couple things you might be interested in.

My Diabetes recently taught me that work stress can be deadly. I always knew stress was harmful but it was only when I saw that reflected in my blood glucose tests that I realised just how much. Here is a little post about the lessons I learned:

What Diabetes taught me about work stress

imonomy, my employer, moved to new offices recently and I spent a little time capturing little details early one morning. Here is a peek inside our new offices:

A peek inside imonomy’s new Tel Aviv offices

I watched a short video that included a audio track by Alan Watts talking about life and death and part of his narrative really caught my attention and I had to share it:

Everybody is “I” – life, death and being

Have a good week!