Oh, come on

Keeping a blog is sometimes a pain in the rear. I’m posting a new entry so that I can republish and hopefully get my site to index… rrrrrgh

Knowing what to care about and what to pass on

I just finished reading a really interesting book called The Art of Not Giving a F*. Actually, I read a really good summary of it. The main message of the book was pretty simple. Life is full of choices. Some stuff is simply beyond our own control but most of it is stuff we can choose whether or not to care about. If we have set up clear values for our life and priorities for ourselves and let them guide our actions it is easier to control choosing those things we give a you know what about. And the more we choose to exercise this control, the more happiness and freedom we will experience. There are some actionable steps you can take to help with this. This biggest is to avoid blame. We need to take responsibility for our choices and not put that on others. Passing the buck onto someone else can give us a brief sense of relief but it doesn’t last. And it turns out that people get addicted the feeling that creates. Sometimes it is moral superiority and sometimes it is a victim complex. But at the end of the day, if you are going to live the life you want you have to start taking responsibility for your actions.

We try to do it all. So many options surround us all the time and it makes choosing very hard and we spend all our energy on the choices and never actually get anything done. It’s important to find out what is important to us and do that thing if we are going to be truly happy. The rest, well you need to learn to not give a F about it. I want to find my purpose in life. Don’t you?

We spend so much time trying to avoid suffering. Society tells us to do this. But really, it’s not such a great idea. Pain is essential to happiness. Pain shows us what isn’t working. The suffering we experience along the way shows us a better way to be or live. To turn suffering into joy, you have to focus on your purpose. Ask yourself honestly why you do the things you do. By looking closely at those motives it will lead you to your purpose – the thing you really want. Then find the values that help you reach what it is you want. Then when the problems come up, you take responsibility and get them dealt with. You can’t fear failure, either. It’s a very helpful tool for figuring out self-improvement. You don’t have to be right all the time, instead you have to be improving. Embracing uncertainty is the key to this. Reject all the crap you think you know and be ready to change. Challenge your preconceived notions and question everything.

The other thing, and this one struck me, is that we all fear death and coming to terms with that allows us to exist in the moment. We create a conceptual self to keep ourselves alive in the memories of others after we are gone. Its the culmination of all our actions and projects but we need to forget about creating that crazy thing and life in the present. Be happy right now.

Stop Waiting

I’m guilty. Looking and waiting for the next thing that will make me happy. For the weekend, for vacation, for a big change. But happiness doesn’t come in the waiting. Happiness comes when you stop waiting and make the most of what is right now.

I read an interesting and short little essay on this very subject. We all spend time figuring out how to be happy. We ask our friends, “Are you happy?” We think if we can solve our problem, we can finally be happy. But really, the most important question isn’t how to be happy, it is much more fundamental than that. What if, instead, we all asked ourselves how to pay attention to important things?

What if we paid more attention to climate change instead of Kim Kardashian? Or sex trafficking instead of Netflix?

Then we could address these problems with clear leadership and popular support. And if we could solve our most pressing problems, the solutions to the other ones would fall into line.

Sometimes you gotta go with it.

I can’t help myself, got to make a comment about something going on right now with public education in our country. The Education Secretary really frightens me. First it was her lack of credentials to serve in such an important positions. Then there is her ties to private education companies through investments and other arrangements. Then her push to privatize our public schools. I mean, come on, her job is to improve public schools. That’s the whole deal. She’s been around the country touring schools but I bet the majority have been private. That isn’t an exaggeration. We know that school choice is a concept created by big business to make money. They trick you into thinking that schools will improve when everyone has a choice, but actually the choice belongs to the school, not the student. And when you look at the data, private schools fare no better than public schools when all the student factors are part of the weighting. And add to it that a $5,000 voucher to a private school does absolutely no good to a poor family in a “failing” public school if the tuition is $13,000. This is just a boon for private schools because it essentially allows them to lower tuition for the families they already have or are trying to attract. And then take into account that some students are failing because they lack support at home. Those students are not going to find their way into a private school and they will only have a harder time in their current public school as resources are drained away into the private system. And don’t get me started on kids who have learning disabilities or behavior problems. The private schools don’t even have to take them. And if they do, they aren’t held to the same accountability standards as the public schools. So parents of those kids are left to judge the effectiveness of the education their kids are receiving from the very institution that is trying to sell them on it in the first place. And then there is the whole accountability piece. Public schools must make available exactly how they spend the tax dollars they receive. No such requirements from private schools. And public schools have the oversight of publicly elected school boards. Who oversees a private school? It could be anyone.

There are good private schools out there but they simply don’t have the resources to meet the widely varying needs of the different students living in each community. And there are bad ones, too. Just look at the news to see reports of private schools locking their doors in the middle of the year when they can’t pay the bills. Then where do those kids go? That’s right! To the public schools who didn’t get any tax dollars for those kids because it went to some scam or some poorly run private school.

Ok, rant over. But come on, guys. Use your brain. Don’t fall for the tricky slogans developed by big money groups that want to take a piece of the education pie. And don’t fall for people like the one we have now put in charge of the public school system for the entire freaking country.