Finding Content in a World of Hype

  In the July/August 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine the lead story’s topic is how Steve Jobs led Apple Computers to enormous success. Author Farhad Manjoo distilled the principal actions he took into seven maxims, one of those being the cliché “everything is marketing”.

 That phrase stuck like a commercial jingle and pushed a new level of awareness rudely into my face. Driving from work the road side signs pulled at me as the radio extolled the tasty virtues of Burger Kings new ‘Bourbon Burger’. At home the newspaper pushed its slanted perspectives at me like my mother in law trying to sneakily manipulate me into agreeing with some sort of uber family nonsense. The TV literally sang and danced about the products that would certainly turn my life into a show tune, filled with improbably attractive, sexually suggestive (and a bit on the thin side) love interests. My computer home page offered no relief as it simmered and bubbled with pop up windows and embedded ads, even my cyber-social network Facebook was awash with ads and suggestions. Yuk.

 Because of that cliché I realized that part of my mind has automatically been occupied avoiding these seductive messages and has been on an unconscious quest for content: A battle to keep my mind my own and filled with the real stuff of life, not the suggestive fluff that’s constantly shoveled at us. Most of us do this ‘hype filtering’ quite consciously in our work or with the special interests we have. I write frequently on the subject of dealing with manipulative people (Two Legged Snakes) and their techniques and I glean the fact from the fluff aggressively in that realm. But what I’m talking about in this blog is a quieter, more subtle war. I believe many of us use our Reticular Activating System, (the part of our brain that determines what we need to be aware of), to determine what might lead to connections that are likely to be content rich. Like an immune system that works to keep out the hype this ‘programming’ looks for friends who are genuine and interesting, songs that have guts and books that tell the truth. Articles, movies, TV shows and social groups are sought that are honest and intelligent and leave you glad you spent the time with them. Perhaps that’s what a lot of us are ‘hunting and gathering’ these days: Content; reality, quality, truthfulness and humanity.

  I’m optimistic that I’m not alone when it comes to this quest for authenticity. Currently my favorite TV shows is Lie to Me, where Tim Roth deftly portrays an eccentric psychologist who is expert in determining who is telling the truth. It’s a very content heavy show that delves into many of the dilemmas we all face, from managing our relationships to finding our best individual paths and so forth. While it’s far from perfect and occasionally dips into the typical story line topics and devices of the day, generally there’s a lot more depth and honesty than you get from most programs and it’s growing and very dedicated audience is perhaps proof that many of us are on a similar hunt for content and are fighting the good fight against the fluff majore.
 
Slack/2011
 
 
Are You Post Sheep?
 A while back I responded to a blog about manipulation in film by Mihai Stoian, (
http://www.mihaistoian.net/hollywood-manipulates-through-movies). He made some good points so I added my voice to the discussion, supporting identifying manipulations and being aware of them as a good and often pleasant way to avoid their influence. Mihai replied in a very gracious manner and implied that most people need more protection than simple awareness and self analysis, without some other source to lead them, life would be too much. It seems to me that this perspective views most people as sheep that need to be told what to do.

 The Bible contains many analogies regarding Shepard’s and their flocks that make the same implication; people aren’t smart enough to think for themselves. Well, I don’t agree, I think that most people have the ability to think for themselves. To get good at it we all need to work at it and we’ll need some education about thinking logically and not being tricked by simple forms of manipulative argument. We also need to be honest with ourselves and it’s of course wise to seek the council of respected others but I believe most of us are capable of making good decisions on our own. Sure they’ll be mistakes but that’s how we learn. Miles Davis (American Musician 1926-91) says it best: “Do not fear mistakes … there are none”.  

 Perhaps in the past, for society to survive we did need to do a Shepard / flock thing. We may have done ourselves in if we hadn’t. However now it seems the leadership caste (& I’m not talking about the Obama administration) has become the child that needs leading and we need to think for ourselves at a more complete level than ever before.

 Every generation has its challenges and perhaps one of ours is to assert ourselves as thinking, aware individuals. Whether it’s a political party, a gang of skinhead punk’s with white laces on their boot’s or a revered leader, do you need to follow a doctrine, group or charismatic individual ….. or are you post sheep?
 
Slack/2011
 
 
                    
 I assume pretty much all of us want to enjoy and be satisfied with our lives as much of the time as we reasonably can. I know I do. And I’m not talking about the blissed-out pretend happiness exhibited by culty religious types, I’m talking about realistic, real world satisfaction with our lives in the endless variety of shapes and sizes and colors they come in. If we’re really going to do that it’s important that we attend to something many don’t consider; maximizing the operations of our own software … our belief systems.

 Renowned Psychologist and Philosopher Carl Jung said “It all depends on how we look at things and not what they really are in themselves”. He’s not the first to express such a sentiment and he won’t be the last. The brilliant novelist Kurt Vonnegut’s book Cat’s Cradle took a longer approach to the powerful perspective that the value of a belief systems lies in what happens as a result of it. And we don’t have to choose one from a pull down menu or a list of some sort; we have the right to create our own. How we answer questions such as; “what is the purpose of life?” and “am I living well?” have a huge impact on the quality of our experience, as well as the choices we make.

 As children we pick up our belief systems from what we see around us, what we’re taught and what we experience. Many accept this first iteration of philosophical perspective as who they are and identify so heavily with this initial software that it becomes their self-definition. When that’s the case the result is usually a person who is dissatisfied with their life. Some pretend and put on a happy face but I’ve never met a happy, well-adjusted person who is still rolling on their initial experience.

 A large factor determining whether our software works well or not is how it causes us to see ourselves. What we’re taught we are is often inaccurate and negative and this will cause a multitude of problems if it’s not corrected. If we don’t have a reasonable way to put ourselves in a positive light, issues will be afoot! How many people do you know who think they’re ugly when they’re obviously not or stupid when they’re clearly not, etc.? How does this miss-perception affect them? An extreme example is found in the eating disorder anorexia where people think they’re fat when they’re not, usually due to a lot of body image criticism endured early on. Resultantly they starve themselves trying to be thin, sometimes to death. Mega-talented singer Karen Carpenter was a tragic example.

 So what about you? Do you have beliefs about yourself that might not be true? How many perspectives about the world and/or your place in it could be false? Do your beliefs about the purpose of life comfort you or depress you? Ironically the beliefs we hold with the most passion are often the most off base.

 If we’re taught something with great intensity when we’re young, the belief tends to be wrapped in powerful defensive emotions.  It’s usually the fear based and full of baloney belief systems that are taught in such a manner, such as racism and homophobia. When this software is confronted a powerful emotional reaction is common … but that doesn’t make these beliefs any less baloney. When you’re examining your personal algorithms pay special attention to the ‘hot button’ issues as they often need the most work.

 We humans tend to feel first and then use our rational powers to justify our emotion based opinions and beliefs. To get past this default setting all that’s needed is the knowledge that our emotions and brains can and will lie to us! Just because you feel something or think something doesn’t mean it’s so. It wasn’t that long ago that we practiced human sacrifice trying to appease Gods and alter physical circumstances. Now we know that to be ridiculous but the ‘not so ancients’ emotions and beliefs told them it made sense and was a good way to go.

 When I was a kid I remember a bloom of ‘Question Authority’ bumper stickers. I whole-heartedly agree with its sentiment but think the addition of ‘… & Your Own Beliefs’ is a better sound bite. 

 The majority of us are born into the family religion (or other belief system) and default to that. As we mature we tend to practice an abridged form of this system, modifying it to fit our circumstances and lifestyle. There’s usually not a lot of questioning of the beliefs inherent in the ‘adopted and modified’ system. I guess this could be seen as upholding a positive tradition on one end of the spectrum and blind acceptance that could have nasty consequences on the other. If this ‘adopted and modified’ system really fits for you great! If it doesn’t you have right to choose for yourself what to believe. It’s a mammoth question because your satisfaction with life and your level of happiness depends on it. Be wary of false experts, there’s no shortage of proselytizers who will show you ‘the way’. But it won’t be your way it’ll be theirs and it’s going to cost a bunch, and it’s only likely to work for a short time.

 What makes a good belief? It is a personal question but I’ve got a few guide-line questions that are helpful when it’s time to shift into self-examination mode:

- Does the belief promote happiness (for you, those around you and the world in general)?      - Does the belief promote love // a positive energy?

- Does the belief promote growth, productivity and contribution?

- Does the belief promote peace and serenity?

- Is this belief truthful as far as I can reasonably tell?

 It’s easy to see that I want my belief structure to honestly promote happiness, positive energy, growth, productivity, contribution and serenity. What are the qualities you’d like to bring out in your life? It’s easy to modify those questions to emphasize what’s important to you. For example, if you have kids, questioning a possible software perspective might include, “Does this belief promote the well-being, health and development of my children?”  Having a belief system that supports what’s important to you will make it much more likely you’ll be more happy and satisfied with your life.

‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is a cliché I like a lot but I’ve seen it used to hold onto beliefs that were up to no good. ‘If it ain’t runnin’ as good as it could then take the time to look under the hood’ is a cliché that’s a lot better. It does take effort and some courage to develop your own software but I’m sure you’ll find the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Slack/2011

 
 
With the celebration of the holidays and the beginning of the New Year, forgiveness feels like a good topic. I can’t think of a better time to clear the decks of the old and negative and make way for the new and hopefully positive. The type of forgiveness I’m talking about is the punctuation where we mark the end of an emotional cycle with a person or event that was painful to us. If we genuinely forgive, we’re done with any ill-will associated with that person or event. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re open to further interactions with the person or that we’re happy the event happened, we’re simply over needing to process it and don’t bear any malice against those involved. Are there any skeletons in your closet that need forgiving or processing of some kind?
 

  Our busy, busy busyness and tendency to repress the unpleasant can make sweeping things under the carpet quite tempting. Even fairly large occurrences of pain can be excused away and ignored, creating a chain not unlike the one Marley used to scare Scrooge on Christmas Eve, except this one we carry on a day to day basis. Unprocessed emotions are weight and forgiveness can’t be attained until they’re acknowledged and dealt with. I had a patient who came to see me because of her chronic alcoholism. She was 63, her skin was a bright cirrhotic yellow and she had been drinking hard for over four decades. During our first session I noticed a twitch when I mentioned her Father. In subsequent sessions I continued to pursue possible troubles in this relationship. She tried to blow it off and pretend everything was fine but finally broke down and cried the type of cry that can only be cried after years of repression. Her Dad had died some 40 years before and she had never discussed the matter to any depth with anyone. She’d blamed herself for his death for all those years, though there was no logical way to conclude she was in any way responsible. After she opened up it didn’t take long for massive improvement to occur. She stopped drinking, her skin returned to a normal color and I hear through the occasional call that she continues to thrive some eight years on.  

  Often it seems the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. In an odd way it’s seductive; if we’re to blame we can pretend that we had the power to prevent what hurt us from happening and pretend that we’re more in control and less vulnerable than we really are.  

  Rather the opposite of that dynamic is trying to jump prematurely to forgiveness without going through the cycle of emotions we need to experience to process whatever loss, betrayal or unfairness that has come to us. True enough, painful emotional experiences are no fun to work through but I’ve never found a short-cut that worked long-term. In our varying ways we need to go through the processing laps of denial – bargaining – anger – depression and acceptance until we’re done and can genuinely move on to forgiveness. 
 

  Certainly life is at times most unfair, and any of us can find ourselves angry with God or whatever higher power we hold. When my wife Ellie was dying of cancer I was so enraged that such a good person was allowed to suffer so horribly, that passing a church steeple would often ignite an intense stream of curses and obscene gestures. As time passed I realized that it wasn’t God I was angry at; I don’t believe God had a sponsoring role in her disease, I just needed to be mad at something. Years after she died and my grief subsided, who did I have to forgive to punctuate the end of this loss? It may sound a bit loony but I forgave life for being life. Sometimes wonderful things happen to us that aren’t our doing and other times unbelievably horrible circumstances happen to us or our loved ones that are in no discernable way cultivated or deserved. My anger wasn’t going to protect me from future tragedies but it absolutely could taint or disperse the positive aspects of my life. Forgiveness was the door to go through to move on without the past making each step heavier and harder and keeping my eyes looking down rather than looking up to see what was in front of me and beyond. 
 

  We all experience rough times and I’m don’t think I’ve had it tougher than the next guy. What I am saying is that this may be a good space to look at what you’re carrying around. It might be a good time to let it go and move on to forgiveness. Untended, emotional scaring can weigh us down and lead to a depressing, negative view of life. In one of the therapy groups I ran we had an end of year ceremony that focused on forgiveness. Each person would write down who or what they were ready to forgive on a small piece of paper. We all talked about each one and then, if it seemed like the person was really ready to forgive, the paper was put into a brass metal bowl where it was burned. It’s was a nice way to punctuate the past and move into the New Year with as little unnecessary baggage as possible. 

                                                            Hope Y’all Have a Great 2011!

Slack/2010 
 
 
  The Holiday Plague of Two Legged Snakes    

 Nothing seems to bring out deceivers, manipulators and outright thieves like the holidays. The trust, goodwill and increased spending whips many a Two Legged Snake into frenzy. Robberies both of homes and businesses peak this time of year, so it’s important to keep the alarms on and beware of suspicious activity. Thieves will often ‘case’ (research) their potential victims by going door to door selling gutter cleaning or tree services, etc. Even if they do perform the service watch out, particularly if they seem interested in what’s in your house, (for example their eye’s dart in when you talk to them at the front door). Write down the license numbers of their vehicles and don’t let them in on your travel plans. If they seem really snaky give your neighbors and the local constabulary a call so they’re on alert. 

 We spend a lot of time with socializing during the holidays and most of us are going to have to deal with some snaky family or friends. It’s wise to be prepared; think about who’ll do what and have a plan. If your Mom is prone to playing guilt trips become adept at changing the subject or having to leave to take a call on your cell phone when she starts in. Do you have a cousin who tries to get you to validate her negative opinions about her brother? Be mentally practiced at telling her you understand how she feels and then excuse yourself firmly and politely, and walk away from the alliance making. If you’ve an uncle or co-worker who always has their hand out for a loan (and the likelihood of your ever being paid back is close to nil), practice the art of saying “No”. Sure, it’s a lot easier said than done but practice makes perfect. Don’t let your holiday spirit talk you into being an easy mark. If you keep getting pushed, don’t be afraid of a possible loud, dramatic scene; keep with your “No” in a clear, calm voice and walk away if you have to. You’re not being rude, the boundary pushing pest is. It’s also important to not let yourself be bullied into explaining ‘why’. It’s your decision and that’s good enough, explaining just opens the door to argument. I know I’m encouraging a focus on the basics here, but that’s what these situations call for. Like football coach extraordinaire Vince Lombardi said “without the basics you’ve got nothing to build on and nowhere to go”. 

 If you’re single the holidays hold another potential pitfall: The Holiday Hook-up. Two Legged Snakes who’re focused on romantic conquest know this can be a tough time for single people and they become much more aggressive as a result. Keep a relaxed, slow pace with any new romance that blossoms this time of year, particularly if he or she comes on fast and seems too good to be true. It may seem churlish but ask around, do a bit of background checking on your new love interest … what you find out, good or bad, could be the best present you get this year.
 

                                                                          Happy Holidays!
 
Slack/2010
 
 
The Elephant in the Living Room 

 In the early 1990’s an alcoholism recovery hospital ran a series of TV commercials where a normal family was going about their daily business with one unusual facet; there was a huge elephant in the house that everyone was ignoring. Of course the elephant represented the obvious but denied problem of alcoholism. We have a similar situation in America right now albeit on a much larger scale; without the education to discern honest endeavor from bombast, vast numbers of people are easily guided into supporting practices that threaten not only a sensible way of life but the physical well being of our planet. Simply said, too many Americans are easy to dupe. 

 How can we expect a voting population who doesn’t know the first thing about sophistry or techniques of manipulation to see through rhetoric slingers like the Tea Party, Fox News and the like?  

                                            We can’t!
 

 It’s painfully obvious that many Americans desperately need to be educated as to the ways of those who work to manipulate them, but how do we get it done? Like driving and sexual prowess most people are pretty prideful about their abilities when it comes to who to trust, so it’s doubtful a direct approach is going to do much. I’ve written a fun and informative book on the basics titled Two Legged Snakes: Understanding and Handling Manipulative People to contribute to overcoming this problembut the book sales and radio shows I’ve been able to generate are attacking an oceanic size problem with a paper cup. Like a Chihuahua trying to direct a stampeding herd of wildebeests. 
 

 A logical long term step towards resolving this problem is to make a class such as ‘Participating in the American Political Process’ a requirement in High School. The types of manipulation that are currently the most problematic are very simple and could easily be taught to anyone who’s capable of driving a car. Speaking of cars, we require drivers to obtain a drivers license and periodically renew it, what about a voting license? A 20 question, multiple choice test could filter out voters who don’t know the first thing about methods of manipulation and are thus vulnerable to being duped by the nefarious. A simple booklet could be used to explain the basics & the test could be taken as many times as needed so any sincere voter could vote. A compulsory $2 ‘voter education’ tax could be added to our yearly filings to pay for it, easier said than done but possible.  

 Any solution to this problem is going to be difficult to implement but if it’s not confronted and we just complain about ‘dumb voters’, the foxes will continue to have too much access to the chicken coop. And that will certainly end up stepping on the toe’s of our right to the pursuit of happiness, and perhaps life and liberty as well.

Slack/2010


 
 
  Each of us has a particular style of speaking. Not just our language, accent and word choice but our tones, tone emphasis, cadence and dynamic (volume & intensity) range. If we listen for all these factors when trying to understand another’s statements the communication becomes more than simple text, it becomes a music with rhythms, melodies and time signatures (cadence and speed). 

 People who would manipulate us have a particular type of music in their language that if we discern, we can see as a warning flag and possibly avoid a painful consequence. Most manipulators first work to gain their victims trust so they can exert influence over their decisions and choices. To get their potential victim to feel ‘in sync’ with them (and thus liable to trust) they will not only mimic tastes, values and perspectives but also facets of speech such as cadence or dynamic range, etc. If the manipulator sounds like the person they’re working on, they’re more likely to be trusted by the person unaware. 

 For those of us who are aware, we have the opportunity not only to just observe but to throw out ‘false positives’ and see if they reveal a snaky ‘tell’ by being followed. For example if we exhibit a strong interest in animal welfare and our possibly manipulative person also ‘reveals’ a similar interest, a ‘building trust by matching’ dynamic may be afoot. Similarly, if we use hesitations (pausing for a second or two in the middle of a sentence) or make our main points with a staccato (sharp, almost jarring) style and we notice a bit of those unusual traits cropping up in a possible manipulator’s language, a subtle yet potentially destructive person may be showing themselves. Particularly if the effect is predominate. Snakes like to work quickly and will sometimes ‘ham it up’ in an attempt to speed the trust process. Thankfully that just makes them easier to see. 

 I worked ‘in house’ helping drug addicts overcome their addictions for years, and that afforded me the opportunity to see this effect over and over again. During the early part of their stay many patients would desperately argue that they needed this or that medication for a plethora of rationale (drug seeking behavior). Their perspectives and vocal music would shift to match mine (and the other councilors) at an almost unbelievable pace while they were trying to get what they wanted. The psychopathy temporarily caused by their withdrawal / addiction provided a resplendent example of why it’s important to listen to the music. Whether it’s subtle or screaming, it has a lot to say.

 
 
Risk Takers and Manipulators 

 Do you enjoy life? Do you try to live each day to its fullest? Would you rather take a few risks and get the most out of life or play it safe and not hurt? If you’re a ‘live life to the fullest’ sort of person I applaud you and hope your happiness is great and your troubles few, but be observant, manipulative people keep their eyes open for those who aren’t afraid to take a chance.

Those of us who live ‘large’ will move pretty quickly in our professions, our relationships and our recreational activities. This tendency to go fast gives Two Legged Snakes (my term for manipulative people) a big advantage because that’s how they like to work; move quickly so their snaky deeds are done before they get discovered. Many a financial deal has become a disaster because too much was risked in a decision that was made too quickly for the snaky scheme to be revealed. 

 Besides finance, romance is the next life area where fast movers get hit hard. Even if your feelings say ‘full steam ahead, nothing bad could happen because this feeling is too good’, don’t move quickly with decisions that can have lasting consequences (like marriage or signing something). Take your time and savor the love you’re lucky to enjoy, if it’s the real, long lasting type it feels like, it’ll still be there next year. It’s a particularly bad sign if you’re getting a lot of encouragement from you lover to move fast or up the pace. Don’t do it, it’s your choice, the more pressure you get the more likely your dealing with a manipulator.  

 Lord knows I certainly don’t want to slow anyone down and I’m not one to encourage a fear based perspective, this is just a word to the wise that at times, fast movement can attract some unwanted and dangerous snaky attention. This is one of the reasons the music and entertainment industries have a lot of snaky people in them. Manipulators populate these industries because they are a prime target population to exploit; fast moving risk takers! Thankfully, if we are aware of this dynamic we can avoid snaky games and pay attention to the risks, and fun, at hand. At times we may slow down a bit, but that’s a lot better than a rag doll, lawn dart, Two Legged Snake disaster! 

Slack/2010

 
 
 
Watching the Watcher

 Manipulative people, or Two Legged Snakes (as I like to call them), if they are of the intelligent variety are watching you to see what sort or ‘trust cues’ are important to you in determining who you let your walls down for.

 For example, if you’re on a date with a potentially manipulative person (TLS) and he observes you smiling approvingly at a father interacting positively with his young child the TLS may make a point of being kind to children as a way to gain your trust. 

 If you’re a ‘look a person in the eyes when you talk to them, firm handshake, straight shooting type’ a bright TLS will pick up on this immediately and will ironically give you this no BS behavior in spades. 

 Taking your time is a great defense against this type of manipulator because the manipulative person’s inconsistency and insincerity will surface fairly quickly to an observant eye. Also, watch out for a change in behavior after your display of a trust cue. Keeping in mind the first example, if your date soon after observing your approving smile found some way to be helpful to a child you’ve most likely uncovered a TLS, simply by watching the watcher.

Slack/2010
 
 
 

 Traditions

 Traditions happen on a lot of levels. There are holidays & habit pattern traditions, unconscious behavior and social standard traditions, knee jerk reactions and thought pattern traditions. Traditions aren’t limited to the context of celebrations and holidays and they are things we tend to accept without question.  

 On a societal level many of our celebration traditions stretch back to pagan times but are now defined as Christian holidays. Before Christmas was Christmas it was the celebration for the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven. Easter was the celebration of the pagan god, Ishtar and Halloween finds it’s origins in the Celtic festival of Samhain. These holidays and other social traditions such as birthday’s, weddings, baptisms, etc., serve to help keep us focused on what’s generally important and gives us the opportunity to strengthen our social bonds. In short they add meaning and structure to our lives and strengthen our social systems. And they change to keep pace with the world. The observation of the Sabbath, a once important Jewish tradition, has decreased steadily as work and family concerns became more important than strictly adhering to church doctrine. Similarly, a recent study by the British government found that two years ago parents considered the tradition of an annual break away with their children a necessity. Now largely due to economic concerns, it is regarded as something they can live without, a clear case of the tradition changing to fit a changing world.

 On a personal level we develop our traditions from social experience and observation. If we observe our parents being contentious and in conflict constantly we could develop the personal tradition of being too aggressive as well. Perhaps we’d go the opposite route and develop a passivity designed to avoid conflict at any cost. Which ever direction we choose our first tradition ‘set’ is a reaction to our experience and sometimes that’s great and sometimes it’s not. How often do you question the traditions you participate in? Did you really want to fly to San Diego to spend Christmas with your brother’s family …. for the eighth year in a row? Do you really think its right to put up with the horrible things your Grandmother say’s because it’s your families’ tradition to put up with anything from the matriarch? What do you put up with in the name of tradition? Do you need to?

 Obviously all traditions are not negative. Treating others as you’d like to be treated, getting together with family & friends to celebrate a holiday or a birthday or whatever can be wonderful and contribute very positively to our human experience. 

 Many of our personal traditions operate below the level of our awareness. Perhaps your unaware of a tendency to self deprecate when you meet someone new. Maybe your eyes tend to linger a bit too long when an attractive stranger enters the room. One of my old traditions was to be too passive and quiet when I really wanted to speak up, and then get really mad and explode. I thought that was just how I was, my ‘natural self’. When I finally realized I had a choice and that I didn’t have to behave on automatic, it wasn’t that hard to get into the new tradition of speaking up earlier and avoiding the explosions. 

What I’m getting at here is that some traditions both personal and societal, are positive and should be kept and those that don’t work need to be modified or perhaps abandoned altogether …. and that’s OK, it’s a natural part of our evolution. 

 It’s our right to choose but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stray from the path most traveled. In the context of family changing traditions can be about as much fun as a badger in your pants, particularly if the family in question is strict and/or patriarchal. For all its bluster, stiffness and resistance strict traditionalism simply doesn’t make sense. As times and circumstances change, our lives become different and some of the old traditions can’t possibly make sense anymore. Because IBM stock was a wise investment in the 70’s doesn’t make it so today. If sever traditionalists follow their ‘no change’ dogma completely shouldn’t we all be following the first patriarch from the earliest days of human society? Why would change between then and now be OK, but no further? 

The more aware we are of our personal traditions and the social traditions that surround us the more freedom we have to create our lives as best we can, particularly if we give ourselves the permission to choose how we actualize those traditions. Change undoubtedly takes effort and trial & error to find what works best given current circumstances. While it may not be easy, that freedom sounds a lot better to me than a life limited by fear and unawareness. 

We could also use some new traditions that could help our world function better. How would our society be effected if the super successful and wealthy followed Warren Buffet’s example and engaged in a tradition of changing their focus from supporting their personal businesses and endeavors to trying to help correct world problems such as poverty and hunger, when they hit a certain ‘max out’ wealth level?  

What new traditions can you come up with to make your life and this world a better place to live?

Slack/2010