Month: October 2013
Scroll down to find out how YOU can make LESS MONEY today in just three easy steps!
Are you still scrolling? Wow. That’s surprising.
I must say, the blogosphere has really changed since I last did it. There are a lot of good ideas with interesting concepts being published on the web. There are also some really bad ones, too (Hot or Not websites, I’m looking at you…). But lately, I’ve been bombarded with an emerging category that is awesome for some and garbage to other. I will subtly name this category of sites:
“Make-more-money-work-less-and-do-it-all-in-your-pajamas-because-you-can” kind of sites.
If that works for you, awesome. Go for it. Relatively speaking, however, that kind of website ploy is not so universally helpful for three reasons:
- Let’s be honest, some people look like trolls in their pajamas (such as yours truly).
- Where’s the fun if you don’t get to wake up before the sun and mumble curse words at your broken coffee maker while trying to get to the office in time? And…
- What happened to a good day’s work?
Man, I’m starting to sound like an old fart.
An emergent trend has begun that tells us, “Work less. Live more.” Now, I’m all for vacations and experiences and growing out my beard whilst traveling across country with my hot wife. I also know that I would feel completely useless if I actually did all of those things. Like I said, I love the idea of not working, it just sounds kinda boring. And what about that feeling of worth? How do we feel we are really helping anybody by working for our retirement? What is this strange feeling I’m feeling towards work?
That strange feeling has a name. It’s called self-efficacy.
A really smart dude by the name of Albert Bandura coined this term. Here’s how I would explain his definition of self-efficacy. You know that feeling you get when you do something and you rock at it and you walk away going, “Man, I kinda kicked butt today,” and then you sleep really well at night? Yeah, that’s self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the feeling of mastery over something. It is the feeling like what you did matter. It is not the feeling of enjoyment over something. You can feel mastery over something and not like it. In fact, you might really hate that thing you are a master over some days. The thing that gives you self-efficacy is not only mastery, but also a sense that what you are doing really matters. It is a sense that tomorrow, someone will wake up a little more at peace because you helped them in some way.
Now that’s a good feeling.
So what happens to that feeling when you no longer have to work? What are you the master over when you choose the easy buck? And who breathes easier tomorrow because of the work you did for them today? It’s a critical question we probably rarely ask, or at least don’t ask enough.
Dorothy Sayers, a good friend of the wickedly smart and funny C.S. Lewis, once wrote an essay on work. In her essay, she ragged on the shoddy work quality of the post-WWII Allied countries who began making cruddy products because they wanted to capitalize on a quicker buck after the war. She said that one who truly pursues the idea of vocation doesn’t just do any kind of work – they do good work done well.
Perhaps what we should be asking isn’t, “Would you like to work less and earn more?” That’s what the Allies said after WWII and it produced cruddy work for a while. Perhaps what we should be asking is, “Would you like to earn less but serve more?” If you say “yes,” then it really doesn’t matter where you work. It matters how you work. If you want to work less and serve more, you are in the perfect position to wake up tomorrow and know that the work you did today helped someone else breath easier.
And that feels pretty nice.
I tack on a post-script thought for us bloggers, artists, and content creators. John Green from the VlogBrothers on YouTube had a great video about making money on the web and I link it here for you to enjoy. He asks what the real motivation of making money is in regards to ads. I’ve been to a number of blogs lately interested in making money through the use of ads, services, products, etc. Heck, I sell stuff on here. But perhaps we should take a step back from time to time and ask why we want that money. Is it to get paid producing quality content or is it about producing quality content and hopefully getting paid? The way you answer that matters a lot. I won’t condemn any money-making practices here; I may utilize one of them one day. Hopefully, though, this video will provide some inspiring, self-reflective thoughts. No matter what, friends, may we do good work and do good work done well.
“Alright, everybody, let’s get intentional and focused with our ludonarrative dissonance using the frustration-aggression theory and careful, calculated, responsible actions…”
…is an example of a sentence I would construct using words I just learned. But it’s also the main point to this blog: let’s all get aggressive.
Understand that I am all about world peace. I’m all about solving problems of homelessness, starvation, world hunger, human rights, and so on. But perhaps lately we’ve gotten a little soft in areas we shouldn’t and hard on topics that don’t matter, like why some believe Miley Cyrus is the Pied Piper of today’s youth. Compare her videos to issues like injustice for racial minorities in our court systems and, well, it kind of feels like a waste of a good argument.
You see, many groups believe that fighting is a bad thing. They are the kind of groups that say, “Don’t fight. If you want to fight, either take up kickboxing or download some Yani and chill out.” Fighting sucks, there’s no question there, but it’s not quite avoidable. Fighting is inevitable. So, if we gotta do it, let’s do it right.
A really smart guy by the name of Leonard Berkowitz started a conversation about aggression in the 70’s that began to shed some light on how to fight. His “revised frustration-aggression theory” said this: We get frustrated. Then we get angry. Our anger leads to aggression.
Frustration –> Anger –> Aggression
Where does our frustration come from? It comes from a gap between what we expect and what we attain. When we don’t get what we expect, we get grumpy. Our grumpy becomes “hacked off.” When we get “hacked off,” heads roll.
Our movies, stories, and games have reflected this process for centuries. Remember in Hamlet when everybody died trying to fight for the throne (using buckets-o-blood in the process)? Remember when the Judeo-Christian God burned to death the whole city of Sodom after they refused to stop being so trashy? Remember when Don Vito Corleone had that horse head tossed in that guy’s bed? Or remember when in the 60’s the U.S. loaded up a boat full of soldiers and sailed on down to Cuba only to get caught with their pants around their ankles?
Yeah, those times involved people getting hacked and heads rolling.
Aggression is, in itself, not a bad thing. It has been used to do some powerful things for the right reasons. Ask Dietrich Bohnhoeffer who tried to kill Hitler in order to stop the injustice done to Jews. Ask “The Tank Man” who stopped four Chinese tanks in Tianabmen Square by standing in their way. Or ask Martin Luther King Jr. about the nonviolent protests that stood up to racial inequality. These stories are examples of people still being aggressive, yet these people did so in a radically helpful way. These stories share these two things in common:
1) The leaders were in control of their actions and understood their reason for acting.
2) Their reason for acting was to stand up against injustice.
Perhaps what we need is not a world of nonaggressive people. Perhaps what we need is a world of carefully aggressive people who stand up against injustice. Aggression can be so very useful if we understand it in this way:
Injustice frustrates me. This frustration makes me angry. I want to stop injustice.
And we can indeed stop injustice if we make a stand. Understand the frustration-aggression theory, we start channeling our aggression by changing our expectations. We should expect people who are different than us to have rights, freedoms, and justice. When they are not offered those things, we are in the right spot to get upset about the right things. It also starts with the small actions such as, “It isn’t fair for my child to make fun of your child; my child is going to be disciplined.” We then move on to the big things: “It is about time we stop discrimination against minority classes and we start letting them have the chance to be a part of this society; I am going to stand up to social injustice.” Anger and aggression is good, when it is controlled and directed towards the right things.
Now if only I can justify cussing at that person who cuts me off in traffic…
“Oh dear God, my family.”
How many times has this or something like it been your description of your family? Dysfunctional. Confusing. Psychotic. Loud. Insane. Crazy. Someone once told me that Dr. Carl Whitaker, family counseling theorist, once said, “The craziest thing to do is be a part of a family.”
Well said, old guy.
Why are we so crazy? Perhaps it has something to do with being forced to live with certain people for the rest of your life. There is this strange thing that exists, a thing we can neither feel nor touch, that webs family members together no matter where they exist in the world. We cannot cut our ties with family, no matter how hard we try. Families consist of pesky little people who are always budding up in your business or psyche somehow, someway. They are the cause of so many headaches and problems. As any good therapist would put it, “Every problem is because of mom’s nagging or dad’s ignorance – which one do you want to blame today?”
Since we can’t shake them, we just have to learn to live with them in our lives. Some do this smoother than others but every family on earth is cluttered with disastrous parenting, annoying children, frustrating teenagers, and that crazy aunt or uncle that everyone suspects might be a “closet-crazy.” We’ve all got our less-than-pristine versions of ourselves stowed away in some embarrassing family story, a story sure to be retold at Christmas. Yet, year after year, we walk into the same trap: we go back to family! Are we crazy? What’s wrong with us!? Go back to family? – those people are nuts!
But there must be something that makes us want to go back. Perhaps the reason we love our family lies in these stories:
From PrettySmartBlog: “Last night I meant to post about the Dad and Daughter who sat at the bar in Starbucks. There was just something really… beautiful about it, as simple as it was. She was sipping cocoa and doing homework. He was drinking something, no doubt, stronger than cocoa and helping. She couldn’t have been more than 9 and they both smiled and laughed as they got through her work together.”
From blogger Jess Gardner on her blog, Diary of an Englishman: “This is Daymon [picture]. He is my little brother. And also a complete stud…He’s been doing cross country this year and with a new coach and a freshman that is nearly as fast as him, it has been quite the experience. He’s done brilliant though and today placed 13th at districts! Daymon, you’re just the coolest.”
From blogger Art Edison, blogger of Edison Leatherworks: “Sometime a few hours after Emily [my daughter] was born, I remember talking to my dad on the phone. The only description that I was able to give him after well over a day with no sleep was that she had 10 fingers and 10 toes. I’m sure that I also told him that she was beautiful.”
You see, within their description of family lies a moment of beauty and of pride. They see past the dysfunction within their family (and it is most surely there) and find a beautiful gem that they are proud of. They are proud of their daughter, doing homework in a Starbucks. They are proud of their brother for winning a race. They are proud of the 20 digits on their newborn’s appendages. They are proud of the beautiful things within their family. The dysfunction just doesn’t matter.
Dysfunction comes with the territory of being in a family. Being in a family does not mean we ever get to ask for no dysfunction. That’s just unrealistic! Sometimes, living cohesively means deliberately looking at the beautiful things in your family and being proud of those things rather than complaining about the dysfunction. If we mean to live cohesively as families, and if we mean to overcome the dysfunction that comes with being in a family, we must look at something other than dysfunction. The more dysfunction we look at, the more dysfunction we will get. The more we look at something to be proud of in our families, the more pride we will feel.
I’m proud of my family’s heritage. I’m proud of the value we place on working hard. I’m proud of the high commitment my family has for one another. Are we kind of a mess? Sure. But who isn’t?
What about you? What are you proud of?
This story (above) is for those families with fears – meaning all of us.
The wisdom some children unwittingly possess is scary, especially when you are on the receiving end of some of that wisdom! This story entitled “Everyday Superhero,” written by fellow blogger akbutler, is a beautiful story about how children can impact our lives in just a few short words. The lesson to take away, for me, is this: do not neglect the words of a kid. As simple-spoken as they may be, children understand our adult world better than we adults do, sometimes. Oh, and let’s not forget to confront our fears. “Wal-mart, here I come!”
It was just an ordinary conversation.
Howie and I were in the car. It was just the two of us, on our way home from working at the sensory gym. As is our usual routine, Tim picked up the other two boys and took them home for dinner and Howie stayed with me to finish his homework and play.
While driving, I started talking about the new skating rink that opened up in our town and asked him if he thought he’d like to take lessons.
“Oh yes!” he said excitedly.
“They have special lesson times set aside for kids with sensory issues. Do you think you’d like that?”
We haven’t had the whole “autism” talk yet. Or the partial talk. Or whatever it will end up being. For now, we’re at “sensory issues”. Because for Howie, that’s the most tangible and easiest for him to understand, both…
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