Reclaim Your Attention & Win Back Your Life

From the earliest ages of childhood our mind adapts a lifelong mandate to explore and catalog every aspect of our immediate environment. We are like sponges that soak up the sensory soup our perceptions feed to our developing brains. It is our mission to learn and to label each and every one of these new experiences. The world around us is a very mysterious place and we need to identify our surroundings in order to find out who we are and add it to the story of our life.

For example, when we taste a new type of fruit we undergo a wonderful process of  defining the experience. We determine if it is sour or sweet, notice the texture and the taste, mind how it feels in our stomach, and eventually become a person who does or doesn’t like said fruit. Depending on if it was really bad we could also evolve into a person who doesn’t even like trying new fruits anymore.

The initial labeling experience is like a meditation as during it’s execution we are very much in the present moment. We are effortlessly letting our attention rest on the smallest of details. I am not hesitant to describe it as akin to an act of love in its purest form.

If we do like the fruit, the next time someone offers us a piece we gladly say yes and gobble it up, this time paying much less attention to the act of eating it and simply carrying on with our lives. This frees up our mind to shift its attention elsewhere and continue in the relentless pursuit of its labeling mandate. Do we like this place? The people? The conversation? The atmosphere?

While we are young and know little about the world our lives are filled with the joys of trying many things for the first time. But as we age, and the amount of variety in our lives dwindles. A larger portion of our lives become pre-labelled with its role in the story of me already set in stone. Ultimately this results in us settling into the mundane routine of existence.

Approaching middle age our mind has done its job extremely well. We have seen many things and labelled them all. We have graduated from high school, got a degree, a job, and a family. We have traveled the world, bought a car, and a home. And along the way our mind has cataloged every one of these events and more. The clothes we like to wear. Our preferred route to and from work. The best TV shows to watch. The food we eat. EVERY. SINGLE. THING.

Because how many times do we do something new anymore?

We have families, careers, mortgages, and endless responsibilities so we stick to the things we know. The same khaki pants and plaid shirt (or is that just me?). We listen to the same hit music radio station. We play hockey with the same people on the same night. We buy the same groceries and order the same pizza every Friday night. We “know” everything about our life and we rarely stray.

So finally our mind can relax, right? Wrong. Don’t be silly. Our mind can’t stop. It is essentially fighting for it’s life and it therefore needs to justify it’s usefulness as much as possible. It’s like a corporation that must strive to increase its profits every year, except the currency of the mind is the influence it has over your life.

So it searches for a new problem. A new mandate. As a result we begin to feel uneasy with our station in life. Have I chosen the right career? Is this the right house? Do I need to lose weight? Anxiety begins to rear its ugly head.

Our anxious thoughts get more intense from there. I don’t feel good, am I going to die? Is this plane going to crash? Are my kids going to get severely ill? Did I lock the door? Let me check for the fifth time…

Many of us become so overwhelmed by this lifelong experience of mind domination that we seek professional help to find out how we can fix it. But in the middle of this mind story writing exercise, and subsequent descent into anxiety and depression, we miss the very essence of living.

It is this essence we vaguely remember from our childhood. We got a taste of it whenever we did something for the first time. During those experiences it emerged quite easily as the mind is forced to become a spectator and not the tour guide. Our attention was not held prisoner by thought, and there was space for our very soul to shine through.

Though it happens more sparingly now as compared to our youth, you have definitely felt it.

Maybe you catch a glimpse of it when you travel to a place you’ve never been. Or when you are setting up the latest piece of tech you purchased at BestBuy. It could be your first meal in a trendy new restaurant. Or your first visit to an IMAX theatre. Maybe it’s the feeling of a new couch in the living room. Or a new car in the driveway. The power of the new experience resides not only in the quality of the experience, but in the very fact that it is new. But we can’t depend on financial expenditures for our only taste of joyful living.

These events act primarily as a pointer towards what could you be yours 100% of the time.

This act of liberating attention is very much a spiritual journey. Enlightenment can be simply described as seeing the world without a story, without the myriad of thought filters and labels that you have constructed through decades of living your life. Finding the newness in every moment is a surefire hack for living a happy life.

To achieve this we must re-assert our role as masters of our own attention. We are not the victims of our thoughts, we have simply adapted to the routine of letting the mind run the show. To counteract this powerful, and often negative, influence on our lives I have outlined 5 steps we can take to reclaim the power of our attention.

  1. Awareness – Become aware that a large part of your life is the mind telling a story about what it thinks it knows. Reading this post could be your first step in this direction. Just examine how much of your life is part of a routine, something you do every day, week, month, or year.
  2. Surrender – Acknowledge that maybe you don’t know everything. Maybe… you don’t know anything. It doesn’t take much digging on the internet to start questioning core beliefs you have always taken for granted. For example: Did you know that if you removed all the space within and between the atoms, the empire state building would be reduced to the size of a grain of rice!
  3. Release Control – Stop trying to control your environment. Everything that has ever happened to you throughout your entire life has been inevitable and couldn’t have happened any other way. You don’t need to treat everything like a problem to solve. This type of acceptance is something that came natural to us as an adolescent but is much more difficult in middle age. Over the years our minds have gained both power and influence. Let everything be as it is. Don’t try to create good feelings or prevent bad ones. Just be with yourself and let it be ok.
  4. Notice Every Detail – Stop the practice of simply glancing at things and moving on. Pause and really take a long look. Let your eyes rest upon the smallest part of an object and recognize it as independent of the whole. Make seeing the minutia a priority in your life. Don’t force it, just relax and let the world reveal itself to you. And if you find yourself in deep fog brought on by intense anxiety or other mind activity, rest your attention on this fog and notice every detail about it that you can.
  5. Adopt a Mantra – Create a sentence that can quickly snap you out of a harmful mind pattern. When I catch myself drifting off lost in a world of thought I simply say “Live in the real world” and practice steps 1 to 4. This often happens in my drive home from work. Once I realize it, at the next stoplight I try rolling down the window, turning off the radio, and spending 30 seconds looking at a small patch of grass on the side of the road.

I hope you take this post to heart and that it helps you live a better quality of life. Especially for those that may be struggling.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com/Ruslan Merzliakov

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The Number One Essential Mindset for Designing the #SmartHome of the Future

I first “Smartened” up my home after I received both the Google Home Mini and Chromecast dongle as gifts this past Christmas. Now, after spending two months using the devices daily it has become crystal clear of where their true benefit lies. And it’s not simply in the novelty of being able to use your voice to control your home.

Anyone who picks up their kids from school knows exactly what happens as soon as you walk in the front door. They transform into Gremlins who act as if they’ve been locked in a metal cage for two weeks. They rip off their snowsuits in nano-seconds, kick their snow covered boots into the living room, race into the kitchen, and climb up on the counter top in search of something, ANYTHING, to eat.

And in the amount of time it takes for this to happen I haven’t even had a chance to put down their backpacks and take off my hat! I am definitely in no position to strut through the house to make sure they don’t fall off the counter and kill themselves, or worse drop a jug of juice on the floor… I kid!

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And now, even with only a partially equipped smart-home, as I walk through the door I can simply say “Ok Google, play Teen Titans on Netflix” and in a matter of moments the next episode is playing and is providing enough of a distraction to keep the minions out of trouble while I situate myself in the kitchen.

Lets face it we are all getting busier with longer workdays, longer commutes, after-school activities, getting to the gym, and doing household chores. We could use any extra time we can find.

And I am a huge believer that optimizing smart home technology is far and away the premiere way to achieve this.

For example, if I am in my car driving home from work with a carload full of stir crazy children I could simply say to my Pixel phone “OK Google, almost home” and it would respond by initiating an incredibly helpful pre-programmed sequence of events. It would go something like this:

This strategy of maximizing all of the possible things that can be done simultaneously is that essential mindset we need to cultivate. You really want to focus on saving your hands for those tasks that absolutely must be done manually.

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Where in your life do you feel the greatest need for the ability to perform a bunch of different tasks all at the same time?

As a starting point let’s envision the smart kitchen of the future and highlight a number of manual tasks that can, and must, be eliminated:

  • Opening and closing the correct section of the refrigerator (the future refrigerator will have several smaller access doors, because opening the whole thing is incredibly wasteful as all of the cold air immediately falls to the floor)
  • Turning on the faucet and filling the sink with soapy water at an exact temperature.
  • Searching and selecting the recipe you are using to make dinner.
  • Turning on the oven and setting the temperature.
  • Turning on and/or adjusting the lighting.

Another huge consideration is the current widely accepted practice of looking at the screen of a small phone, or even a tablet, for your visual information. This requires stopping whatever else you are doing and focusing your eyes on the small print on a tiny screen. This is a huge inconvenience and a major time waster.

A large 4K screen hanging on the kitchen wall with WiFi and one USB port for a dongle is all you really need. And I see this as a vital component of any smart home. It’s large enough that you can read the info on it from pretty much anywhere in the room, and if you don’t want to reference the screen you could always ask your smart speaker to read it aloud. This TV is also connected to your security cameras over the front entrance, and automatically switches to the live feed whenever your smart doorbell rings.

And you definitely want the screen to be 4K so that when it is not in use it can easily pass as a unique piece of art, a piece of art that can be altered daily. The shape of these future TV’s will also be optional (I don’t know why no one has done this yet). Because you want the decorative nature of the device to fit your space.

Now, imagine a scenario where you are having 5 or 6 of you closest friends over for dinner on a Saturday night and you are all hanging around the kitchen island catching up over a few well earned drinks after a tough week at work. As you begin washing up some dishes before supper you mention that you are thinking about moving for a new job opportunity just outside of Toronto.

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You could then ask your smart speaker to show a selection of homes in Oshawa for under $750,000 and display them on your kitchen TV. As you and your friends view each of the options  you may even find a couple that everyone agrees would be a fantastic buy. Then you can ask your Smart Speaker to book a viewing with the agent for next Saturday afternoon. Next your friends all decide to make this a getaway weekend and you are booking hotels and train tickets, all through your smart speaker and TV.

If your initial reaction to our increasingly busy lifestyle is to unplug, just say no, and claw back your time the old fashion way, my hat goes off to you. However, sometimes the momentum of living in the modern world is something we just can’t escape no matter how hard we try. This is where this evolving world of smart technology can help us get our time back, so we can spend it doing the things we enjoy with the people we love.

 

Header: Zhu Difeng/Shutterstock.com

Kids watching TV: Stockfour/Shutterstock.com

Juggling tasks: Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock.com

Friends talking: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

5 Painful Truths We Must Accept About School Shootings To Make #NeverAgain A Reality

Here we are again.

Less than a week after another horrific mass shooting at a school and we have already heard the Celebrity in Chief talk about mental illness as the major contributing factor. And of course he has made no mention about changes on the gun control front, but really is anyone surprised at this point.

The Sandy Hook shooting back in 2012 affected me so much more than any of the other equally tragic predecessors. It was because they were just so young and I had a young daughter not even 7 months old at the time. It was incredibly sad. And it was obvious to anyone watching that President Obama was equally as affected as he set out to make real changes on the heals of such a devastating event.

Still, he couldn’t get it done.

At that moment it became painfully clear to me that there will NEVER be a school shooting painful enough to act as a catalyst for change. At least not at the top level of lawmakers. Admittedly, I am immensely impressed by the high school students who have spoken up in the wake of this most recent tragedy, and even somewhat hopeful of student action planned for April 20th. But still, deep down I know how all of this is going to play out.

If we want these tragedies stop it has to be done at the grassroots. We need to understand the flow of money that directs policy. And to do that we need to understand the psychology of people who buy guns.

And we need to accept the following 5 painful truths.

  1. NRA donations peak after tragedies – When incidents like the ones at Parkhill and Sandy Hook happen gun owners fear they will lose their second amendment rights and race to make more donations. In the end these tragedies empower the NRA to have MORE influence over policy makers.
  2. Beliefs and Values are not going to change – Especially when it’s about such a passionate issue that the vast majority are either strongly for or strongly against. In fact, when our deeply held values are challenged we feel intense fear, and when they are validated we feel pleasure. Passionate activism and protests are NOT GOING TO WORK.
  3. The NRA has MANY sources of income – It’s much more than the donations noted above. Almost half comes from membership fees. Then there is the Ring of Freedom sponsor program that has accounted for as much as $50 million directly from gun manufacturers. Beyond that there is almost $20 million in advertising revenue from their publications. And finally there are some companies that donate a portion of every sale to the NRA.
  4. The NRA has a very powerful ‘WHY’ – The NRA knows why it exists and knows what it is meant to do. Summarized from their by-laws their mission statement is as follows: “To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such Constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms.” They communicate this ‘why’ clearly in everything that they do and thus they have recruited millions of like-minded individuals. These people are passionate and loyal to their cause.
  5. The solution to the gun problem will have nothing to do with guns – Of course, vastly improved gun legislation could have dramatic effect on the amount and types of guns available. This would obviously reduce gun deaths, but you must believe by now that these types of changes aren’t going to happen. The solution lies in finding another way. If we are passionate about anything right now, let it be in finding common ground with those who believe differently than us.

And it starts by asking the right question, framed in the context of having nothing to do with guns directly.

“How do we protect our children?”

EVERYONE wants to protect their kids. There may be vastly different approaches but it can be a powerful source of common ground. And if we take the gun control issue off of the table what could we come up with. On the level of policy the resulting conversation would have to focus on things like poverty, drugs, gangs, mental health, social services, and meaningful employment. On the local level it would be about community, school safety, bullying, and connection.

To fix this we have to focus on issues that bring us together, not ones that drive us apart.

Unfortunately, this approach is all about the long game. This is not a welcome idea for a nation desperate for immediate improvement. As well, most of these issues are not historically strong areas for the republican party.

So what can we do right now?

Right now? We mourn. We rage. We heal. And then we act.

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.com/larry1235

Should you #BoycottPeterRabbit ? We didn’t.

This weekend my wife and I decided that we had hibernated enough this winter and it was time to get the kids (3 and 5 years old) out of the house and do something fun!

Saturday we kicked off our weekend with helmet-less tobogganing over snow jumps, and yesterday we took in the Peter Rabbit movie. I never would have guessed the danger I would be placing my kids in! Well, maybe the tobogganing thing was a little obvious in retrospect, but the controversy surrounding the Peter Rabbit movie certainly wasn’t!

The scene in question has pitted Peter and has gang going up against their newest neighbour, Mr McGregor’s nephew Thomas (I think that’s the relation).  You see, and SPOILER ALERT, the longtime character of Mr. McGregor passed away earlier in the film suffering a heart attack while chasing Peter through his garden for the billionth time. His nephew inherited the place and was planning to tidy it up, sell it, and make a fortune which he would then use to destroy his enemies, or at least make them feel really bad. However, a relationship began with the attractive young female neighbour Bea, played by Rose Byrne. A woman that Peter Rabbit also fancies himself, and hence you have the adversaries.

Well, Peter learns through eavesdropping on a particular conversation that Thomas is allergic to blackberries. So during one of their many altercations in the film he proceeds to fire blackberries into Thomas’s mouth forcing him to use an Epi-Pen to avoid certain death.

To put this into context, there were MANY incidents of violence depicted throughout this film. Thomas was powerfully electrocuted several times, once causing him to fall off a roof. Peter and Thomas kicked and punched and choked each other as often as they could while Bea wasn’t watching. And explosive devices were hurled at the rabbits as the scattered throughout the garden.

Isolating the blackberry incident as boycott worthy seems peculiar to me, because it seemed in line with the tone of the entire film. As well, for your information Peter Rabbit was rated PG and not G, in Ontario at least. This blackberry scene may be the perfect opportunity for parents to provide some guidance if they feel like it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

To be fair, I’ve read some of the comments on Twitter from parents of children with potentially lethal food allergies and I do feel their pain. The fear that at any moment your child’s life could be in fatal danger must be overwhelming. And you can sense that from the intensity of their responses.

But I am still not of the opinion that every movie must be a perfect reflection of an idealized society. When these incidents in movies rear their heads, we deal with them as parents if we think they need to be dealt with. We shouldn’t always take the approach to control the entire environment through some sort of boycott.

And speaking of a boycott, why does it always have to go right to the nth degree? I understand the message that they are trying to get out. I understand the importance of allergies being respected in real life. I think our schools do a great job of educating our students, and the parents, of what is going on in the classroom and what type of food is and isn’t allowed. So yes, go ahead and use the movie to get the message out but there’s no need to cast the film as a villain. It is a story about imperfect characters facing challenging situations.

When thinking of the controversy that has arisen from this movie I was reminded of another kids flick “Smurfs: The Lost Village” where Brainy, Hefty, and Smurfette were being pursued by Gargamel on some sort of magical floating river. Luckily the evil warlock, along with his cat, were knocked off their raft and into the water. However, immediately afterwards he was flailing about in the current claiming that he couldn’t swim. The Smurfs, who were right on the verge of escaping his wrath, decided that they had to go back and save him because that’s the ‘smurfy’ thing to do. So they did, and then they were captured by him…. sigh.

Surely, that scene could have unfolded differently with Gargamel finding his way to shore by grabbing a branch or something. But maybe the producers were ‘smart’ and knew they would be the target of some water safety based boycott unless they saved him.

Regardless, Sony did the right PR thing this morning and released the following statement about the Peter Rabbit fiasco:

“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”

Perhaps in the end, awareness about allergy dangers will be at an all-time high, much more so than if the blackberry incident was cut from the movie to begin with.

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.com/effective stock photos

 

 

Personal Boundaries and the Evolving Workplace

As we witness the almost immeasurable success of the world’s leading tech companies we also observe innovation and experimentation in the design of the modern workplace.

The new style is usually very sleek, and the amenities are plentiful, but dedicated personal space is at a minimum.

The immediate response is to say “So what?”. With all of the evolution in technology that allows us to basically work from anywhere why would we use up so much valuable real estate by giving everyone their own private space.

And there are plenty of people who don’t have dedicated space today. There are people who work construction, load trucks, and work the fast food counter.

But there is another issue in play and that is the loss of personal boundaries. Boundaries are the things that enable us to draw a line between where I end and you begin. And one of the major ways that this is accomplished is through the use of personal space.

Everyone is different. Some people don’t mind not having very much space of their own and the space between their face and the monitor may be enough. Others need more and having four half-walls around them is vital to nurturing their personal identity.

Current office layout strategies don’t really allow for that kind of variability as the amount of office space you have is reflective of your rank within the company. It is seen as a status symbol of sorts.

I suspect that even within these modern workplaces there will be issues with employees well-being directly related to the lack of personal space. Yes having these large open spaces can create a very collaborative environment, but it also may affect the performance and mental health of others.

How about introducing choice into the situation? A choice with minor financial implications. If you require nothing but a chair and a flat surface, and are quite willing to work in a different location everyday, your salary will be X. But if you require 4 half-walls your salary will be (X – $2000). Or if you need a closed in room it will be(X-$4000).

Real estate does cost a corporation money and we want to balance that by giving people the work environment they need. But we don’t want to bribe people into accepting a work space that they really can’t stand.

Thoughts?

 

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.com/g-stockstudio

The Renault Symbioz Autonomous Car

Step one, watch the video below of the incredible Renault Symbioz. This car is what they call a level 4 autonomous vehicle. For perspective the Tesla version is a level 2 and complete automation is level 5.

During the video, Alex the host and man in the “drivers” seat, pays very little attention to the actual driving of the vehicle. It switches lanes, goes through a toll booth, and maintains a speed of 130 kph, all on it’s own. Meanwhile Alex spends a great deal of his time facing backwards talking to his colleagues and the camera, playing with his mobile device, and at one point puts a virtual reality set on his head.

A number of safety precautions were put in place for this demo including a man with a joystick in the passengers seat ready to take over, and another car following them from behind.

The reps from Renault said they expect this type of vehicle to be a production car in 2023, just 5 years. The two main obstacles are affordability and regulations.

One of the main takeaways I had from this video was when Alex said that their 50 km trip felt more like 15. There must be a huge reduction in stress levels because you aren’t always having to make sure you don’t die. When we are behind the wheel in the back of all of our minds we know it could go sideways, literally, at any moment. Having confidence in the vehicles ability to avoid such accidents, likely much more effectively than any human driver, must be very freeing.

When I envision a world full of autonomous cars it is definitely a safer place. I can also see this vast network of autonomous vehicles communicating with each other and using an incredibly complex algorithm to get everyone to their destination in the most efficient way possible. They would also communicate things like road conditions, accidents, and detours, to all other autonomous vehicles.

The only downside is that we would no longer need the clever banter from the radio personalities who cover our morning and afternoon commutes!

Some Facts about the Flu

Every year around this time we are bombarded with news reports about the deadly flu season that’s only going to get worse, how hospitals are struggling to keep up, and that the flu vaccination is only marginally effective.

FLu headlines

The latest report from CTV was that it was under 20% effective.

Of course if you read the story it more accurately means it is only 20% effective at preventing infection of the dominant H3N2 strain, while being 55% effective at preventing infection from the B strain. And beyond that it mentions nothing about how the severity of a flu is dramatically decreased when you have a vaccination.

I make a habit of checking the weekly flu reports put out by the Government of Canada to see exactly how things are looking. Below is my go-to graph comparing this year with previous years. It basically counts hospital visits for influenza like illnesses. The shaded area marks the minimums and maximums for the last 5 years.

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As you can see, this year is only slightly above average.

Another good indicator is counting the number of hospital admissions of people suffering with the flu. Unfortunately they have changed the format that they are using from last year to this year so it’s not as easy a comparison as it could be. Regardless, below you will see the totals from 2017 (top) and from 2018 (bottom).

Hosp 2017

Hospital 2018

You can see very similar numbers for both years.

However, if we also consider that last years vaccination was twice as effective as this years (as noted in the CTV report) then it seems like 2016-17 might have been the more severe year (more people with the flu). The logic being that despite having an effective vaccine we still saw roughly the same number of hospital  admissions as we see this year, over the same time period.

But what if all the scary headlines we were bombarded with this year caused a lot more people to become vaccinated. Meaning even if the effectiveness was under 20%, it still makes a difference if deployed over a large population. Despite my googling talents I couldn’t get this years data yet but year to year the overall vaccination rate ranges between 30 and 35 percent, not enough to make a huge difference in hospital visits.

Vaccination rates

The problem is that you can never keep this type of reporting in check. If the flu season isn’t as bad as reported they can pat themselves on the back for scaring everyone into getting the vaccination and if they were right, well, an “I told you so” is not far behind.

 

Democratization of Energy

This was an interesting Ted talk on how Africa is beginning to solve it’s energy crisis. There are 3 major things that are happening at the same time that makes this possible.

  1. Cost of solar panels has gone down by 95%.
  2. Appliance network has become more efficient, and cheaper.
  3. Cell phone revolution has enabled payment plans for bigger ticket items making them affordable.

 

If such a trend continues and Africa becomes a network of energy that developed from the ground up it represents a democratization of energy. You decide when you use it, how much you use, and if you share it with your neighbours.

In North America we have had an embarrassment of riches and have developed a lifestyle that far exceeds what solar panels can currently give us. However, in many parts of Africa the needs are much more humble. And if you start from the ground up your needs never outgrow your capacity.

Would you have a baby for $50,000?

Well, maybe that’s not exactly how it works.

The idea is from Darrick Hamilton and it is called a baby-bond. Depending on how much money you earn you will receive an influx of cash accessible when the baby turns 18 (from $500 to $50,000). It’s a trust fund for everybody!

But it comes with strings. It must be an asset enhancing venture

  1. Downpayment for home
  2. Capital for business
  3. Debt free college education

Given the average birth rate in the US, this would end up costing around 80 to 90 billion dollars per year, or 2.2% of current annual budget.

The radio podcast presents a number of critiques of the proposal but I would like to offer a few different ones.

Massive influxes of cash like this are likely to be underappreciated.

After graduating from university I spent the first 6 months of my professional life working in Sweden, a country where university education is free. Based on discussions I’ve had, these free post secondary educations are often taken for granted. It is not surprising that people wouldn’t take these opportunities as seriously as they would have if they had fronted the cash themselves. They don’t have anything to lose.

While wealth does create choice, mandating how cash will be spent limits freedom.

It just doesn’t sit well with me when someone gives a ‘gift’ with conditions. I am sure life has more to offer than the options presented above. And this program seems to be a way of streamlining everyone into a small number of categories. Is this $50,000 going to come with more conditions in the future? Maybe it’s not redeemable if I choose a philosophy degree, or I only receive a portion of it. These possibilities weren’t discussed during the interview but when anything like this gets passed into law you can be sure that the politicians would want to maximize their returns, or minimize their losses.

This could result in more children being born

Does this world really need to speed up population growth? Whether it’s a parent who sees opportunities for their children that weren’t there before, or less than scrupulous individuals who have figured a way to scam the money for themselves when their children come of age, this could actually create a minor baby-boom. And then there is always a possibility of a future administration cancelling the program and then placing a huge strain on social programs.

What do you think of the proposal? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of the Hobby

You don’t know why you started doing it.

You don’t really know why you love it so much.

And you certainly aren’t doing it for anyone else.

It is our hobbies that define us more deeply than anything else in our lives. It is what you do with your time when there is no burden of expectation, financial gain, or personal need of an ego boost. It is what we do with the greatest gift of all.

Freedom.

However, slowly but surely there is a growing movement that is hijacking this vital element of our identity. With the evolution of social media and these incredible mobile devices there is a emerging segment of society that believes the best way to take control of our lives is to become an entrepreneur.

Sure it is an easy argument to make. Wouldn’t you prefer to make your living selling your homemade scarves rather than loading boxes on a truck at the local plant? Or how about opening a store to display and sell your handmade jewellery rather than pushing papers in a 10 x 10 cubicle for 40 hours per week.

The answer is not as clear as you think it is.

The problem is that when we turn our hobbies into a business the “why” fundamentally changes, or gets massively overshadowed by the goal of turning a profit. Yes you like making 1 scarf, but do you like making 10,000?

With that kind of success you are forced to partner with a friend who knows how to build and maintain your online store, you have to field dozens of customer complaints daily, there are 50 – 100 employees to manage, and a manufacturing facility to maintain. And yes, you are also likely getting wealthy from it all. But man, what you wouldn’t give to just sit down on a Saturday afternoon and knit a scarf.

But there is no time for that.

You need a new marketing plan for the slower summer season, perhaps you want to infiltrate the southern hemisphere so at least part of your customer base is in winter at all times. Time to book some flights to meet with local distributers in Chile and New Zealand. In order to pay for this expansion you’ve had to give a portion of your company to some investors who are now trying to convince you to change to cheaper material to increase profits. You refuse but they manage to convince your initial partner of the idea and together they force you out.

Don’t get me wrong I think there are many people out there who would be incredibly happy with this kind of lifestyle, but what are the chances it’s the same person who likes to knit scarves while sitting in their rocking chair?

Not everyone in the world is an entrepreneur waiting to happen.

For a long time I thought I was. I looked tediously through my childhood photos, artwork, poetry, projects, sport accomplishments, and so much more. I was desperately looking for that one passion that I could turn into a money maker. I’ve tried writing blogs, posting videos on YouTube, and creating gigs on fiverr. The truth is that I really liked the functionality of each of those platforms but I have always hated the money making aspect.

The shameless self-promotion, the manipulation of video thumbnails to get more clicks, the strategic commenting to get views and follows. I hated it all. I just don’t have it in my blood to go out and grind for growth. Other people do and that’s great, but it is not me.

Since I have come to this realization I have become a lot more satisfied with where I am in life. I really do have things pretty good. My plan right now is to get back to having and developing those hobbies I most enjoy. To pay attention to who I am and what I like and pursue them on a much smaller scale. I simply need to focus on staying healthy, being a good dad/husband, and having a little fun along the way.