Enlightened Conflict

the false comparison trap

May 30th, 2017




“As with events, so it is with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water.”



Ralph Waldo Emerson




“The sphinx must solve her own riddle.

If the whole of history is in one man, it is all explained from individual experience.”



Ralph Waldo Emerson




“Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things.”



Bruce McTague






life explained tat awkward moment birth deathWe LOVE using the past to try and explain shit. Past people, past events, past words and past … well … everything.

When we are faced with something new, or someone new, we immediately start sifting through the scrap heap of the past to start creating some semblance of a jig saw puzzle to explain what we are facing.


There are a number of problems with doing this.


The biggest is that scraps are scraps. Oh. And the scraps used to reside in a completely different context <which is impossible to recreate>.


And, yet, we continue to try.

The problem is that in doing so we elect to not judge the present on the merits of the present. We decline to judge a person as they are, the circumstances as they are and the decisions on the merits of what it is. We do this with everyone and everything … how money is spent, decisions we need to make, new people we have met and even leaders. We do it all partially well intended <we want to make sure we make a fair assessment of hat we are seeing & hearing> and partially because simply examining something and stating “this is good” or “this is bad” <or acceptable or unacceptable> seems … well … flimsy.


Comparisons tend to make things look more solid.  And, yet, we tend to absolutely suck at creating the proper comparisons.


And, that happens for a variety of reasons – also some well-intended and some not so well intended.


I will start with the well intended.


As Emerson once wrote: “our being is descending into us from know not whence.” And we struggle with that truth. It makes us uncomfortable … uhm … no … REALLY uncomfortable.

If we don’t know where things descend from then we begin to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find comparisons to do so. this all comes at the expense of judging what is, the beings and such, on the merits of what exists. And this is where the shit hits the fan. We either dip into our own memories or a slew of people start telling us what memories to take a look at <the latter is part of the not so well intended>.




Here is an unfortunate fact … our memories, which is how we tend to judge and create mental comparisons, are constructive and reconstructive




“Many people believe that memory works like a recording device.

pico memory key thumb drive

…….. our memory chip ……..

You just record the information, then you call it up and play it back when you want to answer questions or identify images. But decades of work in psychology has shown that this just isn’t true.

Our memories are constructive.

They’re reconstructive.

Memory works a little bit more like a Wikipedia page: You can go in there and change it, but so can other people. “


Elizabeth Loftus




“You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we’re ready to see it.”



(via 1112pm)




We desperately want to define things through comparison and continuously ask the universe for signs to show us what we want.


We desperately do so because in the absence of some comparison we would then have to judge what is on the merits of what exists — the good, the bad and the indifferent .


That doesn’t mean a shitload of people around you aren’t gonna try and affect how you will build your comparisons and encourage you to compare in some fairly creative <sometimes absurd> ways.


What do I mean?


I go back to the psychologist Ebbinghaus who studied memory construction <his published essay Über das Gedächtness in 1885> where he realized that memory and recall of continuous passages of prose or verse would be affected differentially by people’s experiences and prior knowledge.

Memory is a snare, pure and simple; it alters, it subtly rearranges the past to fit the present.


Mario Vargas Llosa



What that actually means is that the memory you tap into to create the my-worst-enemy-is-my-memory-projectcomparisons you seek are slightly mangled by yourself <in how you remember it> and can be manipulated by devious not so well intended people around you.


The Constructive and reconstructive nature of memory:


  • Memories are distributed; not unitary


  • “remembering” involves retrieving and reassembling


  • memories can be revised over time


  • Reconstruction is filling in “missing details” on the basis of logic, assumptions, what “must have been the case”


  • More common reasons for forgetting: Lack appropriate retrieval cue = something you attach to a memory, can use to recover it>


  • Reliable retrieval cues are key to access <and multiple retrieval cues are best>


  • Existence of older memories blocks access to newer ones



If only we could pull out our brain and use only our own eyes.

But, not surprisingly, this is the exact same issue new ideas, “white space” theories, fresh thinking, true <not made up> disruptive people & things face.


All tat said. I will point out that something doesn’t have to be truly new to face false comparison challenges … it can simply be a new person in an existing role or a common problem or question just in a different time.


Suffice it to say anything new, or any change, is being asked to be defined by the past. And there will never be a lack of people stepping up and suggesting they can define something through a variety of comparisons <many of which you spend more time trying to fend off than is worth the time>.

explain with rational mind

This is a mistake. This is a fundamental error we make. It assumes what is can somehow be extrapolated by something by what was <the past>. In reality, as I have noted numerous times, I cannot exactly extrapolate the past because I cannot exactly replicate the past … which means <in harsh terms> there is nothing there and nothing from nothing is … uhm … nothing.


Most comparisons end up meaning nothing <although they look like something>.


This means most comparisons we create are just plain and simple false comparisons.


Without trying to be flippant with regard to what I believe is a fairly standard operating procedure for people … we need to stop. Stop false comparisons.

It is a trap.

And a dangerous trap.


Comparisons normalize that which should not be normalized … just as comparisons can de-normalize that which should be normalized.

False comparisons wielded by the devious can construct almost any “normal” you could desire <even if it is hollow & not really normal>.




In today’s world there does seem like there is a lot of crazy shit happening. And in our desire to veer away from the “crazy shit” feeling we seek some comparisons to normalize the situation <thereby calming the ‘crazy shit feeling>.


Just a couple of notes of warning on that.


<a> Finding comparisons, if done well, you can actually be convinced there really isn’t crazy shit happening even though there is truly some crazy shit easter crazy kidshappening.


As a corollary to <a>,


<b> if there is truly some crazy shit happening there will be no shortage of people ponying up false comparisons trying to convince you that there is no crazy shit happening <and some of them will be quite effective>.


The only reason I point out the warning is that there really is some crazy shit happening and we need to stop finding comparisons to make today, and some people, look a little less crazy than it really is.


There you go.


I will end where I began … “Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things <and people>.”

We should invest the energy judging what is, people, ideas and things, based on their present merits not some false comparisons from the past.


how beautiful it is to let things go

September 22nd, 2016



“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”




(via ginger-and-preppy)





“You can’t be who you’re going to be and who you used to be at the same time …”



TD Jakes





Today is the first day of Fall.


first day of fall 2016 google

……………………………. first day of fall 2016 google ……………….



It is kind of a reminder to everyone that everything is temporary.


On another note.

I do also sometimes find it slightly strange that death and dying can contain so much beauty.





I kind of find it nice that Life, in the form of seasons, forces us to let go of things. And while we even go kicking and screaming with regard to seasons Life ignores us … moves on … lets go of the last season … offers us a new season … and once we get over it … we are once again shown how beautiful it can be to let shit go.


I kind of find it nice that Life, in the form of seasons, forces us to distinguish what often looks the same from one day to the next. as we keep our heads down to the Life grindstone and each day dawns without any major incident, other than  the same aggravating everyday incidents which inevitably occur, Life ignores our obliviousness … moves on … let’s go of another season … offers a new season … and we get over the fact we actually have to lift our heads up and pay attention for a little but … we are once again shown how beautiful it is to let some shit go.



“Between the end of that strange summer and the approach of winter, my life went on without change. Each day would dawn without incident and end as it had begun. It rained a lot in September. October had several warm, sweaty days. Aside from the weather, there was hardly anything to distinguish one day from the next.”

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle



I kind of find it nice that Life, in the form of seasons, forces us to think a little bit about who we want to be … who we are … and provides some real life aspects to show us how difficult it is to be who you used to be and who you are going to be at the exact same time.




letters to myself note to future selfI am not a huge Fall person. I am more of a spring person. Heck. I have even suggested we move New Year’s Day to the 1st day of spring  because I think it would make new year’s less depressing and more hopeful.


But I admit that Fall, even more so than Spring, forces us to face our feelings, thoughts, doubts, dreams and fears with a fairly discerning eye. An eye that views ‘what could be’ with a little more sense of urgency.




Falling leaves can do that to you.


Better seems a little bit harder.


Better seems to have more of a deadline.


I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”.

I think we all know what a better world really looks like.

I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.


And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams.


Maybe it is within Fall that we are able to see that new realities can lead to needed life changes.


Maybe it is Fall that reminds us even in times of ‘things slipping away’ you can still find abundance.


Maybe it is Fall that reminds us that Life is a healthy mix of duality … life & death and the ebb & flow of growth and regress.


Maybe Fall reminds those who have a view that a happy and fulfilling life should consist only of highs <or maybe better said … a significantly higher % of highs than lows> and that a positive life should consist only of certainty <shelving fear and doubt to be successful> that happiness & fulfillment also embraces the ebbs in seasons as well as the flows of seasons. autumn-second-spring


Maybe Fall reminds us that no matter how you plan your day, year, or life, it will have times of … the best, the worst, wisdom, foolishness, belief, incredulity, light, darkness, hope, despair, everything and nothing.


Maybe Fall simply reminds us that time goes on, things come & go and we always have an opportunity to begin again … arise anew after the Fall as it were.


Maybe Fall exists just to remind us to think a little.

contextual contextual contextual

May 10th, 2015


we are mosaics

“Most men are individuals no longer so far as their business, its activities, or its moralities are concerned.

They are not units but fractions.”


Woodrow Wilson







In business and in Life …  people like consistency.


We actually like rules.



And we really <really> like some guidelines for how to do things, what to say and when things should be done.





And … we love, yes, LOVE to look to the past for answers or the ‘formula for what to do or how to act.”






That sneaky ‘learn from the past or be doomed to repeat mistakes’ advice.



True … but not true.



What makes it not true?true not true








Future truths, or solutions, only partially reside in the past. The other part lives in the present … and what is swirling around that moment.



Which brings me back to the opening quote.



We like to see things as units and yet they are simply fractions.



Some people stand on fractions and act like they are whole solid foundations.


Be wary of those people.




They are not really seeking truth … just answers … okay … well … maybe just an answer.






“Fear not the path of Truth for the lack of People walking on it.”





Robert F. Kennedy





I admit … the trouble we constantly run into is … well … context.


We are always contextual … mosaics of the moment … and this is troubling for those seeking simple answers.


And, frankly, most of us would love a simple answer now & then <if not all the time>.


But some people thrive on simplicity and black & white.



Please do not read into what I just wrote that these people live a colorless life.


Everyone has color and everyone certainly has pieces of light within and without.





“We are mosaics.



Pieces of light, love, history, stars … glued together with magic and music and words. “


Anita Krizzan






All I am suggesting is that magic, or the contextual aspects, in Life creates a certain intangible aspect to everyday situations. And while this intangible thing is a nagging aspect in common everyday life & business … at critical points, let’s call them ‘semi-critical moments or junctures’, the contextual intangible aspect is nerve wracking.


Nerve wracking because we want a simple solution in semi-critical moments.


And context demands some complexity. It demands looking at fractions and not the whole.



This means we constantly struggle with the fact <the Truth as it were> we, as individuals, businesses, countries and societies, are simply fractions and not the unit.



I would also suggest decisions, business & in life, are simply fractions and not a self-sustaining unit.



And, yet, we try and make most of our decisions as if everything is aligned and unmoving … kind of like taking a snapshot and taking action.



Uh oh.



wide open spaces far to goThis means, contextually, whatever action or decision you take or make will be relevant to what was … not what is.





“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.


That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”



Milton Friedman





In closing out this thought I would like to point out that this thought, while it seems like a stronger Life thought, is maybe even more importantly a business thought.



Far far too often in business we ignore the fact each decision is contextual seeking comfort in “let’s look to the past for the answer.”



I admit I find it slightly odd because in today’s business world every single mistake or hiccup/interruption in the status quo is labeled a crisis … and crises tend to produce real change.



On the other hand … maybe that is my explanation to the oddity.



Because they really aren’t true crisis we tend to depend on the ideas lying around.



And the most typical ideas lying around are “what can we learn from the past.”



If you ever wonder why great decision makers should be paid some inordinate amount of money … reread this. Great decision makers see the past, the present & the future and envision the mosaic better than most of us <certainly I>.



They understand the situation is simply a fraction of what is.



see what we look for


This should also help explain why so many people make incredibly bad decisions.




Every moment, every situation, every success and every failure … is contextual.



In fact … contextual exists in almost every situation in such a wide vivid mosaic perspective that … well … ‘learning from the past’ almost seems like an inordinate waste of time.

the gap between event and truth (or the big squeeze)

August 30th, 2014

dream seeking sky



“If a man shall begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.”


Francis Bacon


“I don’t rule out anything.”






Yikes is all I can say when thinking about the gap between when an event happens … and the inevitable truth comes out.


In fact … I would suggest that in between is simply the ‘big squeeze’ where you & I <and, unfortunately,  truth gets squeezed>.




In today’s news and social technology … world events, facts, speculation and truth become so blurred it is not only difficult to know what is going on … it is difficult to know what did go on.



The trouble is that facts get dribbled out like scarce drops of water and each get analyzed as if they were each an ocean of facts <when it is one drop of information and a gazillion drops of speculation>.



A story unfolds slowly … never fast enough for anyone … and if you don’t pay attention ‘your’ story may be three or four editions behind <yet … that is what you believe>.



On a side note … unfortunately this also seem to happen far too often in the business world.







So … what can we believe?



What is “true” or “valid” or “reliable” information?









These words are all slightly different. And, unfortunately, those differences create entirely different worlds of meaning.



In fact … those words inevitably intrude nevetween the event and truth. They intrude between reality and perceptions and, ultimately, understanding.



All the while the confusion upsets the majority.



“There is much contradictory news, I really don’t know what to believe.”




Excessive alarm, fueled by misleading news reports, leads to knee-jerk responses that are not necessarily for the best.



It is another fact that theories grow without facts.



And then scraps of information beget even more theories.



And initial theories are revised with new information.


And in the end theories are actually created by selective use of some scraps of information.


The main ingredient for rumor generation and transmission is uncertainty.
It is within the lack f full information … some of which is called a ‘mystery’ or ‘crisis’ which permits everyone to play detective and theorist for a day.



So much uncertainty also creates opportunities for people with existing agendas to dwell on their favorite themes <take a moment and think about this in business … that ambitious fool in the cubicle across the floor seeking an opportunity to move ahead in the wretched in between of the event and final truth … sigh>.




All that said … as events happen and information unfolds I realized that a guy named Alain Badiou has provided some good thoughts about what happens between the event and truth.time what matters





“…. truth enters into the world for Badiou not as a state but as a process, or more specifically as four processes: love, politics, art and science.

He claims that truth itself is almost impossible to recognise as truth, but it can become briefly discernable for a passing moment in what he calls an event.

The event is a rupture in the current circumstances caused by an awareness of what is missing from those circumstances. The event is a glimpse of the void inherent to any given state.

Having experienced such an event, a subject is created who has a chance to affect the world by remaining faithful to the event of truth they have encountered.


Alain Badiou




It is maddening … but he is correct.




An event is being defined by love <people who are hurt or benefit from>, politics <those with an agenda>, art <I will loosely use this as journalism … but in today’s social world … let’s call it ambient journalism or amateur storytelling> and science <the endless array of experts who cite research and science>.




We are barraged from all sides by these four things.



I will call this the big squeeze.



We get squeezed as truth is validated by the traditional aspects in which truth is arrived at:



–        Anecdotes: Powerful compelling narrative examples of phenomena from world of experience that might embody a principle. Ideas correspond to real world events.period end-of-story_design

–        Statistics: Could that observation of a phenomenon be in error? Statistics reveals patterns and tests validity of generalizations –For example, if a finding was made by chance.

–        Explanatory power: Utility of an idea in helping integrate a larger array of ideas in a coherent way.

choice sometimes one










Those three things imply ‘time.’


As in a reasonable amount of time to have these things unfold.




Its trouble because while media endlessly states with sincerity … “of course it is premature to draw conclusions” they immediately veer into theory, hypothesis and speculation.





Second guessing decisions and actions as well as guessing <or speculating> on conclusions all the while establishing the outer limits of what is only frustrated guesswork but is truly the outer limits of the boundaries squeezing us.





“In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions.

But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right.

That’s why we have investigations.

That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.

That’s why we have courts.

And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.”


President Barak Obama





Most of us want to know when there is an event … but we want to know truth.



And, yet, the world around us is squeezing us on all 4 sides with images and words.




The ‘gap’ between the event and truth actually becomes the crisis … not the event itself <and if any word is being overused these days it is certainly ‘crisis’>.




Truth is never <or let’s say … very very rarely> a static state.



If it were than an event would have a predetermined truth.




Badiou sees knowledge as ultimately fragile and subject to change.







As an event occurs truth is created.




Which means we should look to science as to how we should assess information in the gap … as we are getting squeezed:




–         VALIDITY of data refers to its accuracy and specificity, as well as its applicability to the question being asked.


–        RELIABILITY refers to data’s precision, consistency, and appropriate resolution



As we transfer information we learn about an event into our pea-like brains and start thinking about it … we are right to question and test our perceptions — to establish the validity and reliability of our experiences and the beliefs they engender.

gg preventative unlocking identity



We are all concerned about what is true and what is not — with what is real.


Memory and imagination are strong sources of imagery.




But our struggle is to discern our internal instincts <thoughts we naturally gravitate to> from the external opinions mixed with true knowledge or we are hopelessly confused.






Scientists are awesome at actually discerning.


As they explore the boundaries of what is ‘known’ they are especially wary.


They are often confronted with information for which there is little or no precedent to guide their judgment about the meaning of their data.




Politicians and journalists suck at this.



Politicians and journalists have a common interest in crises. When there’s a crisis, people buy newspapers and turn on the news to learn how politicians and leaders will fix the crisis.




In addition … crises give politicians <and people with some agenda … in general> more power.



And maybe that is where the big squeeze, the gap between the event and the truth, really gets us.




We seem to be a society fond of creating a sense of crisis all the time … and only some of the time, now and then, the truth comes out.




Many philosophers have expounded on the difference between knowledge and truth but not many have invested a lot of energy <and thinking> of how a sense of crisis affects how we absorb knowledge and arrive at truth.








Not everything is a crisis.



It can be a tragic event … it could be a tragedy of errors … it could simply be an unfortunate confluence of unintended consequences … but most events are not crises.




This is true in every day Life as well as in business.




But regardless of an events ‘label’ I can almost guarantee we will be squeezed by a combination of what I stated earlier … Badiou suggests Truth is not a state but a process, or more specifically as four processes: love, politics, art and science.



truth quest

When an event happens we will be squeezed in the gap between the event and truth by the 4 things I listed above.



How much you care.


How much society cares <politics>.


How much art cares <because they create the imagery>.


How much science cares <because they create the facts>.






We just need to try and not be suffocated by all that caring until the truth is aired.



the one meant for us

July 19th, 2013


“… the one that is meant for us is going to be the hardest to get, the hardest to understand, the hardest to keep, and the hardest to accept.love is not easy
Love wasn’t made to be easy; otherwise we wouldn’t end up with the right person.
We would end up with the first one who comes along.  By struggling we single out the wrong ones and realize who really is the one.”
 – p. wage


I have no idea who “P. Wage” is other than she is a youngish girl writing & posting stuff on tumblr.

And I have no reason for posting this other than the fact I read it, thought it was pretty insightful from a tween girl and … well … I liked it.


Well written.

Well thought out.

And a good thought.



These young people.

They can remind us old folk of some pretty important thoughts on occasion.


Love wasn’t made to be easy.



Smart kid.


navel gazing (and grass)

July 3rd, 2013


“When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.”  – Albert Einsteinnavel gazing



This is about self-reflection or, in non-technical terms, navel gazing.

I began with a quote from Al because, in general, Al <which is what he was called by his closest nerd friends> was a pretty sharp guy <with bad hair>.

And while I have never seen his navel I would imagine that on the occasion he actually did gaze at it … that even he reflected for a moment or so … but not too long into the navel fixation … he then decided that maybe there were bigger and better things to think about.

And went out and did it.


Everyone needs periods of self-reflection and evaluation. It helps understanding better who you are, where you want to be, what you want to do and all that <important> garbage. It is healthy to take some time to think things over with the intent to better understand yourself and see things clearer.

Someone said ‘an unexamined life is not worth living and an unexplored life is not worth examining.’

A trite thought but … well … wherever you go … there you are.


The key word in all of this is “some” <time>.

Not gobs <of time> just some <time>.


Wherever you are … the odds are that when you do some navel gazing … inevitably you think about someone else’s navel <and wonder> … okay … okay … it would be weird to think about and compare with someone else’s navel … so let’s make it grass.

As in green grass. You inevitably wonder about someone else’s grass. And inevitably that somewhere you are gazing at something that may appear to be greener grass.

And that is where navel gazing can get you in some trouble.


life is comedy or tragedy“There is nothing in the world sadder than green green grass on an autumn afternoon. A tree, crops in the field, animals … everything else alive knows this is the season to prepare for the worst. But grass? Hoping against hope that the sunshine won’t ever go away. Or maybe too dumb to realize what is coming. “– inspector O


Greener grass is tantalizing.

And maybe we dwell upon green grass too dumb to realize it is autumn and what is coming.

Or maybe it is that we are the dumb ones.


So navel gaze personally at some peril.

That green grass is always around you … and it is tempting to think it is greener than yours <or there is more of it or it lasts longer or … or … or …> but in the end … it is some one else’s grass. Just like it is someone else’s navel.

My point?


You have what you have.


You are where you are.


You can reflect as much as you want about what you have and where you are but there are bigger and better things out there to be pondering <trust me … and Al … on this>.


Beyond personal stuff … how about business?


The grass is greener thing takes on an entirely different <and absurd> hue. navel gazing greener_grass_750In fact … this may be one of the biggest issues affecting slowed growth/progress impediment facing businesses today. While some leaders focus too far inside their business cocooning themselves from the reality <saying ‘we is what we is’ at the expense of some common sense>. Far more leaders peer enviously into other’s yards gazing at their green grass <or what they perceive as green grass>.

And here is where it gets slightly absurd.

In personal life it is about that green patch. The waving blades of grass.

In business … it is not only about the green grass … they are envious of the grass <of which the cell configuration of each individual blade of grass may come under scrutiny>, the fertilizer, the landscaping, the maintenance schedule, the landscaper/maintenance people themselves … heck … even the ground it is in <the geography in other words>.

And, because it is business, someone can even get hired to grade the greenness of other people’s grass against your own <typically with some awesome computer generated colored graphs and charts>.

So it isn’t as simple as the green grass … it is all aspects .


Talk about not keeping things in perspective. It makes my head hurt even thinking about this topic <and it is actually physically painful if you experience it in real business situations>.

Business or personal … we tend to lose perspective <despite the objective to gain perspective – ouch>.

And another thing is about keeping things in perspective … how you use your time & energy.

We can all be prone to spending far too much time dicking around thinking about grass whether it be green, growing, dying or simply a random tuft of grass in a desert.


Research certainly suggests that it might be prudent to avoid excessive self-reflection or at least the wrong sort of reflection. Some research has shown that nearly 45% of respondents in the more wealthy nations globally seem to dread the holidays … at times when you take stock of your life and reflect.

How crazy is that?

In our quest to improve we even fuck up our free time because instead f relaxing we self reflect, become dissatisfied, grumpy … and depressed.

What’s up with that?

We get all caught up with excessive inwardness or self-centeredness and unrealistic expectations. Navel Gazing 31 daysAnd, inevitably, we seek blame … the innate inadequacies of life driven by some comparison with other seemingly lucky or more fortunate or smarter or harder working or ‘whatever’ individuals.

Some self-help guy called it our ‘false self.’


“Nothing is more discontented than our lower nature, the false self. It is always unhappy with one thing or another. If there is one weed in the field of roses, you can bet that is what it will see. Since it has no real life of its own, it must endlessly create stimulating thoughts and feelings of one kind or another in order to give it the sensation of being alive.

Like Sisyphus condemned in Hades to a life of endlessly pushing up a rock uphill, only to have it roll down again, the false self must spin its life tales over and over again. It is desperately afraid of not having the next thing to do.” – guy Finley <self help wackjob … although I do like the Sisyphus reference … adds some credibility>



I am not sure I am buying everything he is selling … but … I do believe there is a fine line in being in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction <those words – which I love – were actually stated by then-CEO of J. Walter Thompson in the 1950’s … ‘we are a company in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction’> and simply being discontent for the sake of being discontent.

It is a fine line because while no one should desire being stagnant they should also never be obsessive with movement. What I mean by that is not all movement is created equal. Moving simply to move, or show movement, is wasted energy.

Push versus pull.

Active versus passive.

Pick your poison. It is a fine line.



This grass is always greener on the other side thing.

It is an illusion.

navle gazing The Grass Is Greener On The other sideAnd not because we should all be “grateful for what you have” but rather because … well … grass is typically grass and as with all grass … from a distance it can look awesome but up close it kind of <typically> looks an awful like the same stuff under your feet.

Here is something to ponder … something which I believe <unfortunately> is a Life truth … the grass will always be greener on the other side <at least in our minds>.


You will never … okay … very rarely … arrive at a point where you will believe you are entirely happy with everything in your life or believe that your grass is just perfect the way it is.


Or it is probably more likely that in our contemporary view of the nonstop quest for Life perfection <ongoing self-development> our grass will never be as green as we want it to be?

That is truly a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.

In addition.

That is self-reflection passing into self-improvement sinking into the forever unending spiral of desire to be better <and have something better>.

And in this never ending quest to be more than we are today … our tomorrows become hopelessly entangled in the infinite challenge of being more than what we are today.


Sounds painful.


Sounds simple though.

Because it seems that all navel gazing does … is highlight what you already know and feel … and what you want <in terms of improvement or ‘bettering’>.

You want to improve something … and you also discover <in those moments> it will never be done.

It is a never ending quest.


That makes navel gazing tricky.

Maybe because it is also a microcosm of the contradiction of life.

Planned versus carefree.

Perfection versus beautiful imperfections.

And how all of those things are often defined in the eyes of the beholder.


It all really comes down to a good intention … a desire for things, particular something as important as our Life, to be perfect … or as perfect … as it can be.

And in our quest for that perfection we chafe against our desire for some aspects of carefree freedom … the sometimes whimsical things we want to do … as well as the natural ebbs and flows of life.


Control versus uncontrollable.

Chaos versus planned.


Perhaps we are the ultimate perfectionists, radically aiming for the ever elusive perfection in life <and therefore I assume happiness?> and in doing so justifying the behavior by suggesting we are never accepting mediocrity in its place.

This reminds me to say ‘perfection is shit.’

Anyway … this ideal of perfectionism <or seeking a perfect life> creates an odd contradiction to most people’s desire to be unrestrained carefree folk.


We are even perfectionists about being carefree.

This is the ultimate in planned spontaneity.


We even plan our free time.

And it all sounds painful.

Especially if you invest time navel gazing <because this means your navel is always in conflict with itself>.


I often believe the infamous “what would you do in life if you did not need to work for money?” question is a good one to navel gaze over at some point … but too often we simply discard it <for a good reason … you do have to make some money at some point in life> and for a bad reason <in our pragmatically driven world people drop the thought into ‘dreaming’ which implies unrealistic and unattainable>. But it is a worthwhile question regardless.


I imagine in my own pea like brain that part of the issue with navel gazing is the concept of relative life truths.

Relative because … what is truth to one person may not be true to another.

Life is messy.

We are on a perpetual journey of improvement <until we die which simply means we ran out of time>.

What I mean: Time <our body’s time> is not infinite … yet improvement <our self improvement> is infinite.


Life is a contradiction … one big massive unfathomable bottomless well of contradictions.



And navels are a personal thing <lint and all> not to be compared with others.

I often wonder if navel gazing really can lead to happiness <in business or in Life>. Because as soon as you sort one area of life out … there seems to be something else to work on.

It is a perpetual quest driven by perpetual dissatisfaction <driven by desire for self improvement>.

I imagine if you can maintain a healthy perspective … some sense that you are controlling this messy Life we live in … you can avoid the green grass gazing <and desire for someone else’s grass> and find some solace in some small victories <which are nice feelings and in general feed happiness>.

And while I may be cynical about navel gazing … everyone should go ahead and take a moment <or two> to look.

But keep it simple.

And don’t focus on dissatisfaction but rather the Big 3:


“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”– Joseph Addisonnavel gazing chapter



Doing, loving & hope.

One could do worse than focusing on these three things.



The bottom line from Bruce.


Hope is awesome.

Perfection is shit.

Life is gloriously messy.

There are always bigger and better things to think about than yourself.

Here’s to those who find some green grass lurking in your navel.

Enlightened Conflict