Stop Reading Books about Heaven

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Photo credit: Thomas Hawk (flickr: thomashawk)

A perhaps apocryphal New Yorker cartoon depicts a man looking confused standing before two doors.  One is labeled “Heaven” and the other is labelled “Books about Heaven”.

When I heard about this comic for the first time, it scared me just a bit– because my first reaction was “Ooh!  Books about heaven!”

There’s something wrong with that reaction.  If heaven is the place of ultimate happiness– the best possible experience you can have– what does it mean that some part of me deep down is more intrigued by words on a page describing this place?

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The Internet is a dangerous place.  It’s especially dangerous for those who want to do things with their life.  You can now pick almost any endeavor or accomplishment and read about it until you die.  Info porn.

You may notice that I’ve encouraged you to stop reading if you’re going to go do something awesome instead.  I stand by that.  The perfect situation: no one reads any of this because they’re too busy accomplishing their pacts with life.

In a way, reading about awesome things is a substitute for experiencing and doing awesome things.  And for me at least, I don’t want it to be that way.  That’s called white-collar failure and it needs to be fought.   Read More

2012: Eurisk

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Photo credit: John A. Ryan (flickr: insightimaging)

As I’ve said before, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.

If you’re going to reform your life, don’t wait until Jan 1 to do it.  People do, and they wonder why they fail year after year.

But in the spirit of looking forward on the next 12 months, I want to share my theme for 2012.

While not quite a goal, it’s a philosophy I want to adopt that encompasses a lot of the work I do on my goals this year.  I tried to find a single word to encapsulate the idea, but as one doesn’t exist, I had to make it up: eurisk.

Allow me to explain.

I got the idea from the word stress.

When people talk about stress, they’re usually talking about a bad thing– the stress of an upcoming violin recital, the stress of parents divorcing.  Psychologists, clever folks that they are, realized this one word stress actually meant two pretty separate things:

  1. Stress that causes us achieve things or perform well, called eustress (or “good stress”)
  2. Stress that doesn’t cause any good things, called distress (or “bad stress”)

When you think about your performance tomorrow and your palms start sweating and you want to throw up, that’s your body diverting what resources it can in the effort to make sure you don’t miss a beat.  And guess what– you’ll practice really hard and then at the concert, you’ll rip out a beautiful Bach partita with ear-melting arpeggios Read More