The Missing Ingredient

For a while I got the sense that something felt wrong. My commitment to embracing self-discipline remained rock solid. Besides the occasional cheat day my health was on point. Fortunate worked hard to keep skewing things positively in my favor – to the point where I started to think Lady Luck had a crush on me! If things are great why is there a thought gently nagging in the background of mind? What could I possibly be missing?

After two months of mulling it over I figured it out! The Missing Ingredient: FUN.

The most obvious things usually get overlooked. Somewhere along the way I forgot I that I’m allowed to have fun. It sounds stupid in it’s simplicity, but I think I feel into the trap of believing that being a real “adult” meant taking things seriously. Super seriously. Then I thought

“Like, seriously?”

Seriousness not a sustainable long-term strategy. To constantly approach things from a space of seriousness puts a limiter on the amount of joy one can feel. My mind’s default operating system is one of deep analysis of stringent rationalized thought. Running on this mode takes a huge power load so I’ve learned to let my mind unwind and embrace absurdity. We need to allow space for fun, creative, and uplifting thoughts. I borrowed Tim Ferriss’s question, “How can I make this more fun?” to spice up otherwise boring activities. It doesn’t require all that much extra effort either. Simple examples:

  • Jam some tunes and dance while you do house chores
  • Play with new words, phrases and emojis when you communicate
  • Occasionally indulge in “childish” interests or hobbies
  • Experiment with new foods/restaurants

Here’s my recipe:

Take a pound of Life

Grab a hand full of fun

Sharply flick the wrist…

“BAM!” – Now ya livin’!!

BAM

*recipe trademarked by Barry Crocker*

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Pro tip of the day: Don’t watch scary movies if you live alone.

Barry, what the heck do you mean? Why would I ever do that to myself?

Okay fair point. I suppose this post is more a reminder for myself than general advice.

I L-O-V-E going to the movie theater. Being able to kick back in a reclining seat in a pitch-black room while facing a gigantic screen gives me a cool wave of catharsis. Sure, Netflix is nice, but it will never truly compare to the traditional theater experience. To support my love affair with movie going I signed up for Movie Pass. The gist of the service is members pay a flat rate of $10 per month and the service allows them to watch one unique movie per day everyday of that month. It enables movie loving fans to enjoy a ton of films without losing a ton of funds. Pretty awesome right??!! It’s essentially the Gold Ticket for cinema junkies like myself.

Within 15 minutes of receiving my Movie Pass card in the mail I was at the down the local AMC theater watching Deadpool 2. I might have an issue. Then I got a clever idea: What if I watched every single movie that comes out this summer?

My batting percentage isn’t 100% but I’ve been ripping through movies. My hot streak includes:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Life of the Party
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Deadpool 2
  • Rampage
  • Hereditary

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Keep in mind that I don’t bother to watch trailers anymore so I took a real gamble watching Hereditary without any prior knowledge. Wanna hear something fun? It was a horror movie! My natural inclination is to avoid horror movies, but this one was actually good so no complaints here!

Truth be told I wasn’t terribly scared while watching the movie. The problem arose when I return to my apartment alone….

I jiggled my keys into the lock and suddenly froze.

What if there’s someone in there already?

Shit don’t be paranoid just go in, I’m sure no one is in there.

But how do you know? They could be standing REALLY still.

My adrenaline glands started juicing up my veins as the thought sunk in further. I put my ear to the outside of my apartment door for a second. Goddamnit! Why I am suddenly afraid, just go in! I unlocked the door and quickly flicked on the lights, half expecting to see an pale apparition of some sort waiting for me. My blood pressure began returning to a state of calm.

Whpew! Nothing here, but you know the killer usually likes to toy with his victims first………

Fuck! Your right! My eyes darted around the living for any signs of secret invasion. I opened up all the drawers then closets, cabinets, shower curtain and checked under the bed – twice!

Okay Coolio, I’m just being a freak right now. I slumped down onto the couch and began scrolling through Tinder.

Hmmmmmmmm

Can I help you with something?

Nope. We feel pretty safe right now, right?

Yep! No thanks to you I might add.

Okay I may have gone a teeny bit over board…

Leave me alone, trying to find a Tinderalla here man.

Fair fair, we just haven’t considered one thing.

Oh jeez, what now?!

HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

The sad part is I jumped as I was writing this. Don’t watch scary movies if you leave alone – Barry

*

Featured Image: Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

Hereditary Image: A24PalmStar MediaWindy Hill Pictures

Why Everything We Do Matters

The philosopher in me comes out at the strangest times. Like, for example, while drunkenly slouched next to an air conditioner in my aunt’s apartment during a family party a few weeks ago. My subconscious finally arrived at a conclusion for my burning question, “Does anything we do actual matter?” After weeks of simmering in my mental Crockpot the answer arrived on a cool silver platter. Turns out I just needed to splash a few drips of Heineken before it was ready to consume. I won’t retype my entire conclusion here. Instead I’ll share my inebriated wisdom from its primary source: a screenshot of the enlightening drunk text.

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May wisdom find you always – Barry

Ghosting: Side Effects

Ghosting is a strange phenomenon born out of our technology based culture. For some it is an innocuous act of disappearance, for others it is a degrading sign of disrespect. I’ll come clean – I have ghosted two people before. Both times I genuinely believed it was the only viable option. No communication allows for a cleaner split. I slept with a clear coconscious for years until recently. Ironic that the term is called “ghosting” – the two connections I digitally severed reemerged in haunting dreams.

Drinking a bottle 20 proof hindsight has me rethinking my decision to ghost. Was the situation really so bad? Could those relationships have been salvaged over time? Did immaturity get the best of me? How has this person coped knowing I just vanished entirely from their lives? The frustrating thing is I can never ask outright. At most I can unblock, observe, and wish them well. These former connections remain a permanent smudge on my brain’s back window.  At the end of day I don’t regret it though. I used ghosting to gain emotional sobriety while stuck in a toxic environment. Past pains inform the present so I’ll probably never ghost anyone ever again.

Guess I’ll just continue living with ghosts. – Barry

*Photo by Pathum Danthanarayana on Unsplash *

The Idea Broker

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Writer’s block is that terrible creeping feeling you get in the back of your throat. The suffocation starts slow until finally your ideas perish. For months I suffered through this condition. The thought of a keyboard induced a hair tingling extra sensory sense of nausea. It was like being told to voluntarily walk the plank. Why would I ever submit myself to such madness? Here’s the other thing. Going for long periods of time without builds up an accumulated feeling of shame.

“Whatever happened to that blog of yours?”

“Are you still writing?”

Yes, well sort of….

I’ve been experimenting with prose on my mental typewriter. I’ve reading books and jotting down notes, that’s technically writing too. I suppose that’s not what you mean. You want to read what my mind conjures to me in fits of brilliance. The trouble with that is I do not permanently own a brilliant mind. At most I rent it for special occasions – at a premium might I add. So what’s the next best thing?

Promote yourself to role of an Idea Broker. Stock brokers buy and sell stocks with the knowledge that not every one will be a winner. Treat your ideas the same way. A poor idea expressed is better than a good one left to wilt. For ideas are beautifully fickle things. They temporarily possess us then flutter onto the next person until finally realized through creation.

Seth Godin said it best, “If you want to be a good writer my first question is this, ‘Where is your bad writing?’’

Until next time – Barry

Mission Statement

My Mission – To inoculate myself from Weakness. To forge a personality, mind, body and soul immune to Weakness.

Secondary Mission – Spread the vaccine to Weakness for those looking for the cure.

What is Weakness? – Weakness is any mindset, belief, force, person, place, or thing which prevents an individual from living a fully expressive and authentic life. It is anything that waters down the zesty flavor of the human condition.

What is not my Mission? – To propagate a formula which promises “perfection”. My life will serve as a blueprint for others, a recipe where the ingredients can be tailored for individual preferences. My mission is NOT altruistic. It is completely and entirely selfish. If my selfish actions breed altruistic consequences I will treat it as a benign coincidence.

Background – I spent the first eighteen years of my life living beneath my potential because I was convinced I wasn’t good enough. One-day out of the blue Courage seized me to commit a small act of personal defiance. That teeny act of defiance became the first insult in the war against Weakness. We’ve been engaged in battle every day since then.

Until next time – Barry

Two Tenets of my Philosophy

There are two core tenets of my personal philosophy. I like to think of them as “bedrock beliefs” simply because they are so ingrained into my psyche.

Belief One: There are things I give a shit about and things I don’t give a shit about.

On the surface this appears to be dangerously similar to puberty fueled teen apathy. It’s not. Lend me your imagination for a moment. In my mind are two humongous ice buckets. In black sharpie someone with sloppy handwriting wrote “Give a Shit” and on the other bucket well… the guy didn’t even bother to label that one. These buckets represent attention and focus. At any one point in time there are a million people trying to convince you to care about all sorts of things from shoe lace shortages, bee hive costumes, and any random castophre on reported nightly news. Even the most compassionate of us cannot care about it all. My approach? Pick a few to care deeply about and let everyone else do the same. Someone will find those missing shoe laces eventually.

Belief Two: ALL things are temporary.

Yes ALL things. Even you reading this right now. When expressed this belief tends to cause controversy, I get things like “so what’s the point?” or “that’s just an excuse not to care about anything”. These responses fail to capture what I’m thinking because they operate on the assumption that permeance makes something valuable. It’s actually the complete opposite. Any student in exposed to basic Economics understands the principle of Scarcity. Limited resources remain valuable due to their rarity. Our false sense of perpetuity leads us to take the most valuable things for granted. My mindset is this: If I understand that all things are temporary and, thus always susceptible to loss, I will take greater measures to enjoy it while it’s currently available. Contrasting this outlook with false permeance shows that I care deeply because I always anticipate loss in the near future.

What are your two core beliefs?? – Barry

Pervasive Shallowness

One of the issues blocking our efforts to achieve meaningful human connection is shallowness. In this case “shallowness” can be defined as the opposite of depth or authenticity. This shallowness can be found in our lazy use of automatic social scripts (ie. “How are you?”), superficial conversational matter, and fruitless gossip. How did we end up in this place of Pervasive Shallowness? Better still, where is our Emotional Depth? I have a theory about it’s displacement: it’s being repressed.
Why connect with a person when you can connect to the Internet? After all the device is called an iPhone – emphasis on the “I” not on You. Who are “You” anyway? Wait don’t tell me.
*Tap*Tap*
Your Insta says you Vacationed in Bali for two weeks last summer and have a loving fiancee of 3 years. Your dog, Fido the poodle, has 600 Likes OMG! Wow you have an awesome life!
Wait what? The screen failed to mention your parents getting separated after 30 years of marriage.
Hm? You didn’t share a video of the time your supervisor relentless berated you until you felt less than human.
Huh? The family doctor diagnosed you as pre-diabetic?
These hypothetical scenarios represent a distressing reality. A reality we’ve willingly traded for unlimited access to distraction. Some where deep inside all of is a rich well of human experience begging to released. That yearning soul will remained trapped if there is not an ear to listen. We must make it our mission to listen.
Barry

Writing is thinking

Occasionally I’ll hear something that penetrates my soul deeply. While listening to an Impact Theory podcast I latched on to the idea that writing is thinking. In the literal sense writing is thinking. Therefore, writing actually improves thinking. The process of writing forces one to take an amorphous cloud of ideas and shape it in a sensible way. Maybe not sensible, but certainly understandable.

I can’t explain why I felt the need to avoid writing lately. Maybe I am scared to see what I really think? Maybe I feel that there is no point to writing anymore? Maybe I feel I genuinely have nothing interesting to say? I reject the excuse of not having time. There is always time.

Ever since adopting this new identity I have rapidly collided with many new ideas. In fact, you could say I’ve become an idea fiend, manically hunting for my next “fix”. The thing is once you discover how amazing /crazy/interesting the world is it becomes hard not to look for more evidence of it. Reading nonfiction gifted me an appreciated for the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction”. In many ways truth is stranger than fiction simply because it is true. Reflecting on my own life reveals a series of strange real events which sound completely fictional. Knowing this compels me to seek out other people’s strange but true stories.

So ultimately what am I trying to say? Well……nothing. I’m just writing and thinking.

Till next time – Barry

Do algorithms cause insanity?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

This weekend I caught myself in a depressing feedback loop. It was the typical stinging self-abusive talk of “You’ll never be good enough” “Why are you so lazy” and so on. Eventually I snapped myself out with a proverbial “Knock it off!” Hopefully I’m not the only who argues with themselves… Anyways once my mental battleground cleared an interesting thought swooped in:

Is insanity really doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? OR is insanity really thinking the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

In the second question the word “doing” is replaced with “thinking”. This a small albeit important distinction. Our actions are preceded by our thoughts. Following this logic different thinking should lead to different actions. Hence an insane person is incapable of thinking anything new. That explanation may be over kill, but I want to be really clear before moving on.

What does an overdone cliché and thinking have to do with algorithms?

A lot actually.

Algorithms are codes designed to follow a set of rules. Programmers deploy software algorithms virtually everywhere to simplify our lives. Here I’m using the word “algorithm” to describe predictive software commonly used by social media. For example, one day you randomly watch a bunch of Fly Fishing videos and now Facebook Ads starts displaying Discount Fly Fishing rods. Facebook uses techno-wizardry along with algorithms to snoop on you. This information is then used to curate content to your personal preferences. For those well informed internet dwellers this isn’t new information. The media has been blaring the alarm on how these technologies will led to the “ruin of society” since 2016.

Put the apocalyptic/dystopia hyperbole aside for moment. Consider the following: If algorithms guarantee you are only exposed to the same ideas, doesn’t that make you insane by default? Do you want to live a limited life? Life’s highest pleasures are often found in discovery. Discovery is not possible within the familiar. New ideas expand the breadth of our personal universe.

Fight the algorithms. Don’t be insane – Barry

When we go to Mars

Thanks to my boi Elon Musk traveling to the Planet Mars within my lifetime is a real possibility. That’s so wild.

*Disclaimer: I do not have a personal relationship with Elon Musk*

So, what will humans do when we get to Mars? First things first: Dictatorship. Don’t worry! My strong leadership will help us survive the perils of living on another planet. To prove my competence I already created a Mars colony name: New Terra. As in New Earth, but wayyy cooler. Now that I have your confidence let’s talk about survival stuff.

How we survive

Before humans can thrive we must survive. In establishing a base our first priority is to fulfill essential needs: Food, Shelter, Water. Luckily for all you colonists I packed a bunch of IKEA furniture onto the shuttle so we are covered for shelter. Unfortunately for the first 20 years or so on the Red Giant we’ll need to eat Ramen Noodles…. Dibs on shrimp flavor!

You: Ramen Noodles! WHAT?

Don’t worry! I packed cup-o-noodles too! Last we need to solve that pesky water issue. Hmmmm. Well Mars has ice caps right? We can just melt those. Like we do on Earth. Problem solved.

What will we do?

After surviving initial contact we’ll need something to occupy our time. Internet seems out of the question from a practical stand point. Here are my proposals for Martian Recreation:

  • Mars Bingo
  • Mars Monopoly
  • Mixed Martian Arts

Not a whole lot of variety at first. Most of the time will be spent staying alive.

One last thing

Traveling to Mars is literally going to the New World—Chris Columbus got nothing on us.

See ya in space – Barry

Does anything we do matter?

How can anyone with a basic working knowledge of astrophysics say yes? In the cosmic perspective of events us humans are tiny creatures toiling around on a tiny rock in the Milky Way. It’s strange.

I gobbled up Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry last week and now I suffer the consequences. Toward the conclusion of the book Tyson encourages readers to adopt the “cosmic perspective.” Basically, when we measure our personal problems against the cosmic drama of the universe they become insignificant. Less than insignificant.

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Dwelling on this fact can easily deteriorate into a full blown existential crisis. On the other end of the spectrum the cosmic perspective is incredibly liberating. Even if I don’t actuate my dreams the world will carry on. As humans we get to play a supporting role on the grand stage of the universe.

In that I find something beautiful. – Barry

The Motivation Mugs Experiment

A few weeks ago I started this crazy experiment called Motivation Mugs. Like all experiments it started with a question; “Why isn’t this a thing already?”

Seriously though. I love coffee mugs and while browsing Amazon a few weeks ago I failed to find one that suited me. I was looking for something with a pleasing yet empowering message. Naturally I typed in “motivation mugs” and nothing came up. OKAY, maybe a few things came up but they weren’t what I invisioned. Soo on a whim I decided to make my own Motivation Mugs!

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So far it’s been pretty fun, but I would really apperciate feedback on the Motivation Mugs website . It’s super rough right now so I apperciate any and all feedback/constructive criticism. Specifically in layout, content, vibe, pricing – literally anything that could be helpful. Don’t be afraid to be super honest either.

Looking forward to hearing from you all soon! – Barry

Identity

I am used to rejection. Especially in the dating arena. Growing up people thought I was weird (I was). Kid Me enjoyed talking to myself out loud and indulging in beautiful fantasies. A solid 15% of my attention span continues to fuel these vivid daydreams. It’s strange, but I can semi-honestly say that rejection feels comfortable at this point. Semi-honestly because that teeny stinging pinprick of pain still snips at me. It goes away pretty fast though.

My rejection immunity serves a powerful function in my identity. I love to see myself in the image of an Outlier. Over maybe a Visionary? Actually, Titan may be more accurate. My young psyche fully latched onto the idea society’s most admired people often started as rejects. Maybe one day I would be fortunate to join their ranks. The thought of being mentioned in the same breath as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, President Lincoln, Elon Musk or any other celebrity electrified my soul.

Over time Conformity began her steady courtship of my heart. The first visit was Freshman year of college. She came bearing gifts of love, acceptance, and romance. I brushed off her advances, but she was ever persistent. I didn’t welcome Conformity into my life until she showed me the False Mirror. The False Mirror showed me all the ways in which my life was wrong. The dirty reflections revealed a deeply inadequate individual. Next, she weighted me on The Invisible Scale. She placed the burden of society’s expectations on the left plate and my fragile dreams on the right one. The results were obvious: I didn’t measure up.

That person accepted Conformity with open arms, never questioning the validity of the tests given, or asking why the test mattered in the first place. That person was not me. I am the Outlier. Reflecting on that period of insincerity scares the shit out of me. I started asking uncomfortable questions:

When did I decide to betray a crucial part of identity?

Why was it so easy abandon my true self?

Who am I now?

20/20 hindsight shows all the tiny allowances that lead me down that road. Growth, and subsequently, change are huge factors to living fully. Try something new, date outside your “type”, learn new skills! It’s fine if you do not aspire to be an Outlier, Visionary or Titan. BUT occasionally it might be a good idea to stop and ask,

Is this really me? – Barry

Mentors in Hiding

There is immense value in having a mentor. A mentor serves as a coach, friend, teacher and motivator. Recently someone asked, “Hey Barry who is your mentor?” I looked at the questioner with a wide stupefied gaze. Mentor? I don’t have a mentor. So I told them I was temporarily without a mentor. Days after the conversation the question lingered. Where can I find a mentor?

Well I have fantastic news! Are you excited?! There are mentors everywhere. Right now the smartass reading this and looking underneath his sofa is thinking,

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“I don’t see a mentor here Barry…”

Okay so maybe not literally everywhere, but all around us. A mentor doesn’t not have to be constrained a living breathing human. We can find mentorship in books, movies, videogames, art, and sometimes even ourselves. Here’s a great example:

In 9th grade I stumbled upon an anime called Fairy Tail. This cartoon is basically about a group of misfit magic users who come together and form a family like bond. To this day my favorite character in the show is Gajeel. No more what challenge Fairy Tail faced you could rely on Gajeel since he is a tough, no-bs guy that NEVER backed down even when obviously outmatched by an enemy. Watching Gajeel’s boldness at a time where felt pathetic and wimpy empowered me to copy find those traits in myself. Years later while in college I got the same tattoo as Gajeel has in the show for self-reinforcement.

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Of course, the 9th grade kid me didn’t realize this. I just wanted to watch an awesome show. The lesson is if you’re willing look past the surface of entertainment you can find real insight. This not me encouraging you to binge watch 12 hours of TV. Instead of blindly consuming ask yourself, “what about this character resonates with me?”

Is it Superman’s pledge to uphold truth, justice, and the American way?

Is it Jon Snow’s commitment to his cause despite constant resistance?

Is it Kermit the Frog’s ability to be in dank memes?

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“I take mentoring very seriously”

Diversifying your portfolio of mentors is important too. Fantasy/fiction teaches great lessons through metaphor and biographies/non-fiction show how people overcame real life challenges. Earlier I wrote that sometimes mentors can come from within. What I mean is leveraging the power of questions to push yourself in a positive direction. For me this is asking,

“What would the absolute best version of myself do about this?”

If you’re totally honest, this usually produces a good answer. Go fourth and scour the planet in search of a mentor.

May the force be with you – Barry