I have two boys. They are growing up in woman’s world. One in which the shaming of men is normal, but the shaming of women results in outrage. I don’t envy them.
But I can prepare them.
One of the fundamental principles I will teach them is to take what most women say with a grain of salt. That is to say… very, very lightly.
When the girls in my boys classes claim that girls are superior to boys (as inevitably happens) and as this idea gets reinforced in the media, I hope that I have taught my boys to laugh it off. To be independently strong. To tease them back. To not let the empty words get under their skin.
In principle, when women (or the media) are using shaming language and you feel it getting under your skin, you can remind yourself of the absurdity by going through a list like this:
- who built the houses that the girls live in?
- who built the roads that the girls drive to the mall to go shopping at?
- who built the malls that the girls go shopping at?
- who built the technology that powers their iPhones?
- who engineered the airplanes that fly the girls on their vacations to the Bahamas?
- who’s directed pretty much every great movie in the existence of humanity?
- who wrote the software that runs the Internet and Facebook?
- who basically built everything that we depend on on a daily basis?
Call bullshit. And then smile. And then live the life that you want to live.
Laugh at the losers. And be the best that you can be.
I have been building a small farm for the last 2-3 years. Right now I have two beef cows with another on the way. I also have four goats with approximately 6-9 babies on the way. And I have 4 chickens (down from 7) and 5 more on the way.
Here are 10 random things I’ve learned about farming that I didn’t know before starting (note: to learn, sometimes you’ve gotta just start)
1. Chickens prefer to sleep in trees to coops (to bad i didn’t figure this out till i’d built a $300 chicken coop)
2. Chickens need fence higher than 48 inches high to keep them in (unless they are really fat) but…
3. If you truly want to free range your chickens, the best solution may be to just let them roam free but…
4. If you let them roam free, they’ll lay their eggs in secret places and send you on a daily treasure hunt and sadly…
5. Sometimes they’ll get picked off by predators. But you can just plan for this and have extra chickens. Unless you’re a member of PETA and hate the fact that nature is carnivorous.
6. Mama cows are pretty damn fierce 3 days after having a baby. They will charge you. And you better be fast as hell or stay away.
7. Turns out cows can get aggressive when they’re hungry too. In the winter, it’s best to make sure they are eating on hay before entering the pasture.
8. Cows are easier to raise than dogs. So are goats. Goats are easiest of all.
9. The strength of your electrical fence is partly dependent on the amount of electrons the system can pull from the earth and the more damp the earth is, the more electrons you can pull into the system… when there is a drought, it’s a good idea to “water” your grounding rods. You can also tie multiple grounding rods together in serial (crows feet) to pull more electrons from the ground.
10. Most animals are self-maintaining. Your role as a farmer is to play the role of nature (optimize their environment to mimic nature: improve the pasture, automate/optimize the water and food sources)
Bonus: Facts about goats: it’s a myth that they’ll eat anything. They are actually a little picky in their own way. And they’ll definitely only eat organic material. There’s also the common concern that goats escape as often as the sun rises. While this is true if your fencing system has gaps or if they can climb up something and then over the fence, the cool thing is that goats are such awesome animals that they’ll just hang out until they see you and then follow you right back into the pasture. At least my goats do. They’re AWESOME.
I got a few emails about my post Dealing with someone who uses you suggesting that I was advocating avoidance behavior, specifically with this text:
When I feel negative about a social relationship, I nip it in the bud by stepping back, calming myself, considering why I felt the way I did, and then asking myself what I can do to fix the situation. Not what the other person can do. 9 times out of 10, the best policy is to simply stop engaging the other person.
I can see how someone could read this as “avoid conflict” but that’s not what I’m advocating at all. What I am advocating is an approach where each individual takes full responsibility for a situation in which he or she is being used. One early approach which I have advocated on this blog before is to push back and state exactly what you expect of him or her. Pushing back allows you to give the other person a 2nd chance to do appropriate social interaction and hopefully produce a win-win social exchange. If pushing-back fails, or only works temporarily and then reverts back to a state of dis-ease where the other person continues to manipulate you, you should 1) be aware of the pattern 2) not expect the person to change 3) take responsibility for yourself and more often than not 4) exit the social relationship completely (assuming you have options).
Stop being used. Don’t keep giving without getting something fair in return (this principle is like all others… it doesn’t apply to your mother on her deathbed).
There’s a sense in which we all use each other. And if all is fair, there’s nothing wrong with using each other. I use the restaurant cook to prepare my meal. He uses some of the money I give to the restaurant to pay his mortgage. And hopefully we’re both the better off for the transaction.
However, we all know of the cases where we are feeling genuinely used. It’s something in the gut. Something just doesn’t feel right.
When I feel negative about a social relationship, I nip it in the bud by stepping back, calming myself, considering why I felt the way I did, and then asking myself what I can do to fix the situation. Not what the other person can do. 9 times out of 10, the best policy is to simply stop engaging the other person (this is especially true in business where you stop giving the other person your business). A business partner tries to take advantage of you… you cut your ties.
Same goes for relationships (friendships or romantic): if a person consistently treats you poorly, consistently undermines you, consistently takes advantage of you… you have to muster up the courage to cut ties. To move on and spend your time with people who appreciate you. I’m not saying you don’t give people 2nd chances. Not at all. But you definitely don’t give them 10th and 20th chances.
I haven’t interviewed for a job in over a decade now. But as a business owner, I have done lots of interviewing.
Here are the three things I look for in a potential employee:
1) Past evidence of success (skill competency)
2) Enthusiasm / Intense work-ethic
3) Reliability and consistency
So your task when interviewing for a job is to tactfully display these values.
The easiest value to display is #2 because you can do it right then and there. Just don’t be a goofy tryhard. Enthusiasm can be smart and restrained.
Most employers will put a lot of stock in your past experiences to determine #1 and #3. But as long as you haven’t totally screwed up in the past and changed jobs six times in 8 months, you should be ok. A good employer will call your past employers to verify your claims of accomplishment. But most don’t.
What you need to do is sell yourself. Just like in the mating game of relationships, your value as a potential employee is not self-evident. You have to put your best foot forward. Don’t buy the nonsense about “just being yourself” … nope, that’s really bad advice. Especially if you’re prone to self-deprecate. Never willfully reveal any serious weaknesses during an interview. And if pressed for a weakness try to think of something funny to say as a prelude to something very, very minor… “You know, I’ve gotta say it’s Starbucks. I just can’t work without it. [insert polite laughter... not yours though]. In all seriousness, my biggest weakness is that I’m really focused and task oriented which limits my ability to multi-task.” It’s typical for an interviewer to first ask “What’s the greatest asset you’d bring to the company?” and then follow it up with “And what’s your greatest weakness?”)
The key is to err on the side of restrained confidence without grossly overstating your abilities.
Put yourself in their shoes and then confidently and enthusiastically give them what you think they to want hear. Might take some bullshitting to get there.
If you didn’t get enough sleep. Or you’re burnt out. Or you’re in a mental funk. Or a problem seems overwhelming. Stop spinning in circles. Stop dragging your feet through the mud. Take the day off. Get a good night sleep and then wake up renewed and ready to go.
I can’t tell you how often it’s happened that I’ve felt hopeless about some business hurdle, gone to bed, woke up the next day, and found that what felt like an infinite tunnel the day before was really only a 20 minute exercise in mental focus. I just needed the proper mood, attitude and energy level.
Thank god we get a fresh start every new day.
Sometimes when you’re faced with a daunting task the instinct is to put it off until you have enough time and energy to get it all done at once. But I’ve found that the key to achieving big jobs is to break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Perceiving a big task in its entirety can be overwhelming. Breaking it down into smaller parts, and then focusing on just one part at a time is a lot more psychologically palatable.
About a year ago I found myself with a big pile of dirt, trash and wood all mixed together on my property (leftover from house construction). Mentally I just wanted to be able to push a button and get rid of the pile (I would have burnt it all if it wasn’t for the dirt. ). And really, that’s what our mind is always driving towards: the principle of least action. Least amount of energy expenditure for maximum results. But most of the time we can’t just push buttons. We have to break the task down. And it was my dad who reminded me of this principle: he and I were having a conversation about the pile of dirt/wood/trash and he suggested that I take an hour each day until I was done and spend it separating the pile into three piles: dirt, trash, wood. So I started doing that. And the cool thing was that I killed two birds with one stone and enjoyed getting extra sun (vitamin D). Within a few weeks I had the pile separated out. I trashed the trash. Burnt the wood. And spread the dirt. And it was done.
This works with any daunting, multi-step task.
Imagine building a house. You may think it’s beyond you. But in reality, the people who build houses break it all down into small tasks. One step at a time.
The same goes for learning a new skill (i.e. playing an instrument): focus on a few basics until you’ve mastered them. Then learn a few more basics. Learn an easy song. Feel good that you can play a song. But don’t expect to play guitar like Slash on the 2nd attempt.
The same goes for relationships. You’ve got to get out there and experiment. Try things out. One or two things at a time. Build up your confidence. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail.
I don’t know about you, but about 90% of my time in life is spent in an awesome rhythm where things are going incredibly well and I feel like I can just ride the wave forever… it seems so easy. You know… all the habits and activities you’ve incorporated into your life are doing their thing and you say to yourself “damn, i can’t fail.”
And then you hit this nasty funk. The other 10%. Where everything feels like drudgery and hard work. Successes seem hard to come by. And you can’t seem to get yourself back into that rhythm.
You’ve got to break the cycle and rebuild momentum.
Here’s how I deal with it. First, I remind myself how good life is when I’m in that natural rhythm…. things are going along smoothly and life is full of joy and excitement. Then I pivot. I try to think of the easiest thing I can do to get myself back on the right track and regain some momentum. A lot of times that’s just a walk outside in the sun, or a quick workout, or preparing an enjoyable meal. Just do something productive. Something that makes you feel accomplished. Getting momentum back is key. Especially if you can chain a few positive things together.
I consider myself a realistic idealist. I temper my idealism with realism. I know the world can be better, and that there are things that I can change, but I love and honor the world as it is, and don’t try to change the things I can’t.
I’ve found that pure idealists tend to misallocate their energy, worrying about things they can’t control. They are also prone to struggle with depression because, often enough, reality doesn’t fit their expectations. I’ve also found that pure realists are prone to emphasizing the negative. The realist sees the rare baby dying in the burning house, but too often overlooks the daily miracle of new life. The hardcore realist struggles with nihilism and/or cynicism because reality often presents itself as harsh and brutish.
As a realistic idealist, here are ten things I’ve learned about life. Ten rules I try to live by.
1. Listen to your body
In many ways, your mind is a reflection of your body. The state of your body is manifested in the way you feel mentally. Your mind is also a monitoring system for your body and is constantly receiving feedback. Once you start paying attention to the signals your body is sending you, you gain an immense control over your well being. Your body is one of the few things in this world that you have the power to control and the effort you put into caring for your body (through what you eat and what you do) has huge effects. Compare that to the amount of energy you put into global politics and the corresponding (non-existent) effects.
Gain control over your body and your life changes for good. It is the road to joy.
2. Think less
Post-enlightenment we have become mind-centric beings. We self-identify with our minds. And many people live their entire lives in their minds. But the mind is really just a tool for us as beings. Just like the wings of the sparrow. Now imagine if the sparrow was constantly flapping its wings, even when it was sitting in its nest. It would be constantly tired and burnt out. Look around. We are constantly tired and burnt out.
Once you start thinking less, you can start being more fully human. Play. Go on hikes. Create adventures. Laugh. Enjoy the moment you are in.
3. Take smart risks / Avoid stupid risks
Perfectionists make the mistake of never taking risks. And then there are the winner’s of the Darwin Awards. You want to fall somewhere in the middle. Don’t be afraid of failure. But yes, do fear death.
4. Stop following the script
In other words, stop letting other people or entities (corporations, governments) live your life for you. Be intentional. Be an expressive being. Engage the world. Follow your gut. Do things your way.
We live in an adaptive, non-rigid world. There are many unwritten scripts. Why not write yours rather than going through the motions of somebody else’s?
5. Play the percentages
The more you live, the more you learn how patterns work. As a young boy, you may think that there’s only one girl in the world for you. And this idea might freeze you up to not take the risk of letting her know that you like her. But, if you simply had the knowledge that there are hundreds, thousands, probably millions of girls out there who could make you happy… well, you might loosen up a bit and not sweat the consequences.
Same goes for a career. After living a while, I now realize that I had a dozen good options. Reality wasn’t going to implode if I didn’t do things exactly right.
6. Understand how the world works
There is peace to be found in understanding. But you must be willing to not expect anything of the world. You must take it on it’s own terms. As you gain understanding of the world, the burden of saving the world goes away. It is freeing to submit to reality… on its terms.
Be a student of reality. Love it. Love truth. And as they say, the truth will truly set you free.
7. Honor your nature
You are not a blank slate. You are a human being. Learn what it means to be a human being. Embrace your nature. Love your nature. Don’t reinvent the wheel from the ground up. Don’t assume you can eat anything you want. You don’t put dirt into your car’s engine. So stop putting crap into your body.
Learn what brings contentment. Have a real, authentic social life. Stop living through Facebook. Embrace procreation and the regeneration of life. Grow your own food whenever possible. Care for some animals. Invest in your family. Be active. Play.
8. Take yourself less seriously
You aren’t that important. Or special. Or unique. Unless everyone is. In which case you can stop worrying about needing to maintain your specialness.
9. Be spontaneous
Don’t always live through thought and careful calculation. Be smart and safe, but allow yourself to express spontaneously. Whether through art, or whimsical physical activity, or play or sex or whatever. Just let go sometimes and flow and be.
10. Control what you can / Avoid addictions
Stop carrying the world on your shoulders. Stop worrying about the things you can not control. Focus all your energy on yourself and the things you have the power to change or make better. Are you stressed out? Stop worrying about what’s going on in Libya. Stop watching cable news. Say “no” the next time someone asks you for a favor or be part of some committee.
Invest in yourself before you invest in anyone else. You’ll be a better gift to the world and others if you take care of yourself first. So focus on your body. Focus on your immediate environment. Focus on your local community. Focus on your food. Focus on your family (though you may need to give up control here too, as it is not healthy to try to control personalities).
And hey, avoid addictions and all unhealthy dependencies. When you are addicted to anything, you are out of control of the thing you literally have the most control over in this world: yourself. As for unhealthy dependencies, yes, some relationships (even within the family) are unhealthy dependencies. Don’t try to change people though. Love them, support them and when necessary, avoid them for your own sanity.
I made this for lunch today in 10 minutes, straight from the freezer. It was awesome. Plus it’s Primal/Paleo. And cheap!
Total Cost: $3.50
2/3 cups bay scallops
2 cups frozen broccoli pieces
1.5 Tbsp butter
Approximate Macronutrient Profile:
28g of protein
16g of fat (all healthy fat)
16g of carbs (all healthy carbs)