Leave Hustling for Hustlers

Leave Hustling for Hustlers

You’ve reached a strange point in life when you start bragging about things you shouldn’t. Most people don’t share with glee when they oversleep or overeat.

But drinking too much? Yeah, some people are proud of that.

What about working too hard?

Uh, yeah. Now that you mention it, some people do like to brag about that.

Gotta hustle, gotta hustle, can’t stop hustling…

I fall into this trap sometimes. That’s why I remind myself of the other definitions of hustlers – con artists, prostitutes, thieves and frauds.

Leave the hustling to them, I say. We have too much value to create to hustle.

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Use Insomnia to Your Advantage

Use Insomnia to Your Advantage

I’m not about to downplay insomnia. Not being able to sleep is rough. If affects every part of your body and it degrades your mental performance.

On top of that, it doesn’t feel great.

It’s a good idea to trial techniques to help you get a good night’s sleep. You’ve probably heard all the advice before – adjusting your caffeine intake, no late night meals, avoiding devices with screens, eliminating alcohol…

This should be your priority.

In the meantime, you can use insomnia to your advantage. Think of it as taking sleeplessness out for one last spin.

It’s not hanging around but, before it goes, make it pay you back for what it owes.

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If You’re Going to Be Selfish, Be Really Selfish

If You’re Going to be Selfish, be Really Selfish

Has anyone accused you of being selfish, self-centred or self-absorbed? These insults (and their cousins) hurtle around the human social sphere, spreading to touch every remote corner. Western cultures are less collectivist than most, yet doing your own thing will still attract criticism.

These insults work because there’s a grain of truth to them. It’s a terrible thing and an empty life to focus only on yourself. If you would burn down the world to satisfy a craving, then that’s bad. Don’t do that.

But you wouldn’t do that. The people who would read different sorts of articles.

And because you’re better than that, I’m here to absolve you. You can free yourself of any guilt from being too self-whatever.

In fact, I insist that you become more selfish, self-centred and self-absorbed.

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Think Meditation is Torture? You Might be Right

Think Meditation is Torture? You Might be Right

If you’re unlucky enough to be an Iranian dissident, you probably know about white torture. Also known as sensory deprivation, it’s a nasty piece of work.

You don’t have to cause pain to break someone. All you need are blacked out goggles, noise cancelling headphones and time. Lots of time.

The brain is excellent at extrapolating meaning from snippets of data. A few dimples on bright red flesh makes you think “strawberry”. Two dots and a curve look like a happy face. A brief odour conjures memories, emotions and actions.

But when there’s no data to find meaning in…

Well, that part of you is still active. It still looks for the meaning in data that isn’t there.

Your brain craves novelty, interaction and stimulus. Strip that away and it’s like turning the brain against itself.

You don’t get used to it. Time only makes it worse.

I wouldn’t wish it in my worst enemy, assuming I had one.

I would recommend it as a meditation technique though.

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Mundane Magic and Scientific Sorcery

Mundane Magic and Scientific Sorcery

Neurons do something strange when starved of oxygen. First, they start firing randomly. Then they start to shut down. If they don’t receive precious oh-two soon, they start to die.

This sequence is, of course, an oversimplification. You’ll find counter examples all over the place.

Even so, this sequence explains a lot.

When certain parts of the brain (the temporal lobe and a few others) start misfiring, you receive a flood of memories. This can vary from an unusual montage of random events to full-blown hallucinations.

When the whole brain starts firing randomly, that’s a seizure. But when parts of it spark off for no reason, it can create predictable effects. For example, in the occipital lobe, this can lead to seeing a spinning vortex of light. It’s dark around the edges, probably because peripheral vision shuts down first.

Even your sense of balance can do weird things. The misfires followed by a shutdown can create the sense that every direction is the same.

And if the left brain weakens first (or the right brain starts misfiring more intensely), then you receive an incredible sense of peace, knowledge and connection to the universe. Even as your consciousness fades.

When conditions are right, you get a sense of floating, hallucinations, your life flashing before your eyes and the ‘light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel’ effect.

And there you have it: a plausible, mundane explanation for near death experiences.

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You Are a Limitless Frontier

You Are a Limitless Frontier

Exploration captivates the human psyche. There’s something noble about wandering off into uncharted, untamed land. Many people would risk their lives to be the first to see a new island, a new planet, a new sun in the sky.

Our ancestors were explorers. The ones who preferred to stay put limited themselves to what they had. Their cousins with wanderlust inherited the rest of the Earth.

There’s that saying about how we’re born too late to explore the Earth and too soon to explore the galaxy.

I wonder if that’s true. The Earth still has uncharted territories. Even if we map the surface, that leaves the ocean floor. And under the surface, too.

Also, who says that we won’t get to see the galaxy? Maybe we’re the first folk to live forever. Maybe cheap faster-than-light travel is a decade away.

In any case, it doesn’t matter. If you have the urge to explore, then you have options.

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The Rewards for Living Ethically

The Rewards for Living Ethically

Where does morality come from?

Some people point outside themselves. It comes from a divine creator, they say. Others say that you can calculate and quantify morality from the laws of physics.

I’m not sure about those. Maybe morality is a gift we receive from elsewhere. My theory on its origins is much simpler.

If you were to compare two people in our evolutionary pre-history – one who was ethical, one who was not – you’d notice the answer.

Someone without any morality would steal food when they were hungry. They’d murder their rivals over petty squabbles. They would undermine the group’s politics for any advantage.

If you think someone like this would outcompete an altruist, you’re wrong. It takes a community to survive the wilderness. Exile was a punishment practically equivalent to execution.

In other words, if people don’t like you, you’re doomed.

If you’re a threat to your own tribe, that’s even worse.

Play by the tribe’s rules or pay the price.

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A Different Style of Leadership, Living and Learning

A Different Style of Leadership, Living and Learning

Shamanism is a broad term. It describes religions from Australia to America and everywhere in between. These religions are incredibly diverse, each with its own unique rituals and cultural elements.

They have a lot in common, too. The spiritual leaders have deep connections to nature, their community and themselves.

These people live off the land without much technology. If they have a problem, they need to solve it. They need to make sense of a vast, confusing and challenging world.

It takes a lot of strength to survive without civilisation. Having technology – whether that’s spears or something more advanced – isn’t enough. Being able to communicate, strategise and plan isn’t enough.

You need to learn to think like nature.

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Where Meditation is Controversial

Where Meditation is Controversial

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in favour of meditation. I think it’s wonderful. Is it for everyone? Maybe, maybe not – but this is low hanging fruit for the human race. If most people invested a little bit more into the practice, the results would more than pay for the time.

Not everyone agrees that meditation is worthwhile, though.

There are people who think it doesn’t do anything.

(The science is emphatically against them on this one.)

Then there are those who see it as a bad thing.

(Again, science wants to give them a stern talking to.)

No communities demonstrate the range better than the Abrahamic faiths.

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If You Enjoy Freedom, Then Meditate

If You Enjoy Freedom, Then Meditate

What role does meditation play in Buddhism?

That might seem like a strange question. It plays an important role, certainly. It’s one of the key pillars of the faith.

But what, exactly, does it do?

In Christianity, the purpose of prayer is to connect you with God. Some see it as literally talking to Him, while others see it as opening yourself up to receive what He has to offer.

There are elements of this in Buddhism, sure.

It’s also completely different.

Meditation is nothing short than the pursuit of freedom. I’m writing this a couple of days before the United States celebrates the 4th of July, so maybe freedom is on my mind. I stand by it, though. The practice offers nothing short of total liberation.

Freedom and liberation from what, though?

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