Fan Or Follower?

fan-or-followerFollowing has a bad connotation. It makes you a follower. Who wants to be a follower?

Consider this. You follow people on social media. You’re their follower.

When they call for your attention, you give it. And we spend a lot of time on social media (the internet). Thus, we spend a lot of time following.

But what are we following? Are we following politics? Fail videos? Cute cats?

If we’re following them, where are they leading us? Are they leading us towards better? Or are they leading us to worse?

By better, I mean feeling, thinking, and acting. After you follow whomever, when you go their direction, does it lead you in a better direction? Having followed them, do you think, feel, and act better?

I’m currently dealing with a host of stressors. Many of these stressors I have little to no influence over. When I ponder them, I tend to spiral down.

And when I can get a respite from my stressors and my stress (myself), it helps. That respite may take the form of music, a podcast, social media, or an interaction. But those same methods of relief can be methods of procrastination.

I can find myself behind on my output and toggling between these methods. That, in and of itself, isn’t a problem. The problem is it’s then when they don’t make me feel better or act better. I’m following…but I’m not liking where I’m going.

When I find myself in a place where I don’t want to be, I know at least one thing. I need to change who or what I’m following. And who I need to follow is always the same.

Whenever our attention is outward for too long, we can be attentive to ourselves. We can’t be following ourselves. That’s when it’s time to tune in and turn in.

As long as I like where I’m at, what I’m doing, and how I’m feeling, it’s a good bet I’m doing a good job of following myself. But the second one those things change. My attention has to change. I have to stop following others, and start following myself. And that kind of following is the best kind of leading.

NO COMPARISON

comparisonquote_blog2We compare and contrast all the time. She has better skin than me. He makes more money than me. Her kids are better behaved.

We’re often warned against comparisons. “Don’t compare your blooper reel to someone else’s highlight reel.” Comparisons lead us to feeling worse and doing worse.

I want to offer a thought experiment…that is either already an actual experiment or someday will be. I hope it gives you some comfort. I hope it reminds you that when it comes to you….there is no comparison.

I have a hypothesis. It’s based on logic and history…long history. We evolved from tribal systems.

Within these tribal systems, people had roles. These roles were integral to the survival (and “thriv-al”) of the tribe. My hypothesis is when people have a role, a necessary role to fill, they compare and contrast themselves to others less so than a place where people have no necessary role to fill.

This leads us to our thought experiment. If you had a role that you could fulfill and that role was necessary to those around you, how would you feel – better or worse – than you do now? And would you compare yourself to others – more or less?

Let’s say you believe that if you had a group to belong to and a necessary role to fill, then your life’s work would be in that direction. But the only constant is change. And groups have changed and are changing as are roles.

No longer do we have just one group to belong to or one role. But groups and roles aren’t the only things changing. The groups and roles are changing because the environment is changing.

The environment is changing largely because of technological innovation. And all these changes, groups, roles, environment, technology, etc., are changing us. That puts the onus on us to change with it.

For some that means catching up. For others, it means helping others to catch up. If you don’t have a group to belong, a role to fill, you have some work to do. That means either changing your self or utilizing / innovating technology, the environment, and others to create a new group(s) and possibly a new role(s). Either work is work for which there is no comparison.

WHEN TO BE MINDFUL

MindfulIn Susan’s excellent book, EMOTIONAL AGILITY, she endorses the practice of mindfulness. She also frames it by its opposite, “mindlessness.” Mindlessness can be a problem.

Like when you walk in a room and forget why you walked in there. Or when I mindlessly put my powdered stevia in my mini fridge (when it goes on my desk). But those types of mindlessness aren’t the only kind that are problematic.

Habits are often described as “mindless.” And that’s exactly how we want them. But there’s a time when being mindless is the last thing we want.

A model I use (that I’ve erroneously attributed to Maslow) is Noel Burch’s Stages of Learning. Mindfulness plays a part in that model. Almost.

The four stages of learning are:
-Unconscious Incompetence
-Conscious Incompetence
-Conscious Competence
-Unconscious Competence

We all want to work our way down the model. We want to be good, competent, without having to be conscious of it…without having to be mindful of it. We want to be mindlessly good…but we don’t want to be at the top of the model.

Whether I’m teaching BioMechanics or BioPsychology, I try to highlight that all things become unconscious. And we want those things that are becoming unconscious to be effective. It’s when we’re ineffective that we want to be mindful.

We need to consciously practice an effective intervention. Eventually, we’ll be unconscious again. And when we’re unconscious, we gain speed.

Speed leads us to greater levels of efficiency. And efficiency is another concern. I not only want to be effective, I want to be efficient.

These wants lead me to be mindful in a specific manner. Around the time I’m performing, mainly before and after (I only want to be mindful during if I become slow or ineffective), I ask myself a few questions. Can I be (mindlessly) more effective? Can I be more efficient? And how?

For everything there is a season. There is a season to be mindless and a season to be mindful. And we don’t want to be in either season for too long.

WRITE WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY

angry_hulk__ai__by_ytflexor-d84fqhlI break articles into serials. Usually weekly serials. Four to five parts or more.

My least favorite time is when one series is ending and I don’t have the foggiest as to what the next will be. It’s at times like these I focus on inputs. I’ll watch documentaries and listen to podcasts. I’m foraging for ideas.

One such idea I use over I got from a podcast was when you’re stuck as to what to write, write what makes you angry. That’s something I usually stay away from. As Banner says, “I’m always angry.”

I usually try to limit my writing to thinking, feeling, and doing better. But in this article, I’m going to talk about the opposite. I’m going to look at fitness, nutrition, psychology, martial arts, politics, science, academics, and who knows what else…that makes me angry.

What characterizes my anger in any area is usually not the merchant of that area. It’s the consumer. It’s no different in fitness.

FITNESS
Consumers are somewhat easy targets for what fitness is selling. And what fitness is selling is “look like this.” Intrinsic to that is, “it’s not ok to look the way you look.”

For so many, the superficial never changes because the depths are never reached. There is no depth in their understanding of fitness. And there is certainly no depth in their understanding of what drives their personal need for fitness, or rather, how they just just want to look better naked. Yes, that makes me angry.

NUTRITION
In much the say way as exercise, nutrition is often relegated to fat loss or muscle gain aka “the way you look.” But even that isn’t what makes me the angriest. There are two things about nutrition as sold sticks out to me.

Again, these things are due to superficial understanding of nutrition. The first is that to be ripped is to be healthy. Having low levels of body fat is the furthest thing from health for the majority of us. And in order to most us to achieve fitness model leanness, we have to take unhealthy measures.

The second thing is that people relate leanness to fitness. Low levels of body fat can correlate to higher levels of speed. They can also correlate to higher levels of endurance…but you can get lean without either. You can be lean without being specifically fit. If you want to be fit, focus on what you do…and not how you look.

SOCIAL MEDIA
At our inaugural BioPsychology course, I asked our students, “How many Psychology books have you read?” I thought the average answer would have been in the 1-5 range. The average was less than 1.

And it’s not that my students were unintelligent. They were likely of above average intelligence. But they were ignorant.

And ignorance is acceptable, but ignorance of ignorance is unacceptable. When I look at my social media feeds, I see people so sure of their opinions, it makes me angry. Their confidence is inverse to their competence.

How can people think well if they don’t know what they’re thinking with? Short answer, they can’t. And the fact they think they’re thinking well, well….makes me angry.

MARTIAL ARTS
Beyond my wife and kids, probably the greatest love of my life is the martial arts. While I could write volumes about what I love about martial arts, this is about what I hate. There’s plenty to hate, too.

What does a Star Trek convention, Comic-Con, and Martial Arts have in common? It’s a lot of people that like playing dress up. Some are playing dress up because it’s easier to pretend to be someone of value rather than becoming someone of value.

And it’s easier pretend they have powers instead of doing the work to actually get what powers they can have. It’s easier to become part of something else than it to become more than what one was before. And easy shouldn’t be what the Martial Arts are about, at all.

POLITICS
For regular readers, you know I’m very libertarian leaning, even minarchist. There’s a good reason for this. It has to do with the science I teach.

BioFeedback teaches people how to follow their own inner compass…to allow their sensations to guide their actions. BioFeedback maximizes localization of power. In doing so, it minimizes centralization of power.

When people allows their sensations to guide their actions, they get more sensitive and more active. When they feel something needs to be done, they do it. When peoples’ actions are guided by something outside of themselves, like a strong central state, it disrupts their motivation…and both activity and sensitivity go down. People can’t sense what needs to be done and can’t do what needs to be done, either…this makes me angry.

SCIENCE
I am a scientist. I say that without irony or grandiosity. But I say in it the same way someone might say, “I’m a Christian.”

Like religion, science is a belief system. Science is a belief in a set of principles and practices. Just as many people say, “I love Christ but hate Christians,” I often feel the same way about other so-called scientists.

I find the minority of scientists perform good science. They overestimate their understanding of other sciences, they poorly design their own experiments, misinterpret their experimental results, they don’t understand the limits of empiricism, under value both anecdotal and outlying evidence, and don’t sufficiently question the premises of their respective science, and more importantly, their own assumptions. Many scientists are giving science a bad name…and that’s something that angers me.

ACADEMIA
I love learning. I love good teachers. But unfortunately learning and good teaching is a rare feature in academics.

In what should be a meritorious environment, upper learning is ruined by those who frame it. What’s behind the facade of college is high school. It’s politics and those who can play it best teach the rest of us.

Education and Knowledge/Wisdom/Intelligence are at cross purposes. It makes sacred profane. This is something that makes me angry.

ANGER
All of these areas that make me angry share one thing in common: they’re all products of human beings. They’re flawed because we’re flawed. It’s the flaws that anger me…especially my own.

Every emotion evolved and remains because it serves a purpose, anger included. Anger likely iterated from the simpler emotion of rage. Rage was the emotion an animal felt when fighting for its life.

For most of us, if we’re angry, it’s not because our life is in imminent danger. There may be an impediment to what we’re trying to accomplish or avoid…and not being able to overcome it or navigate it “makes us angry.”

But us to change the conditions that make us angry, we can’t remain angry. We have to calm down, get our wits about us and take a different tact. And that’s why I so rarely write about what makes me angry. I don’t want to be any more angry than I have to be. I want things to change…for the better….and that’s why I usually don’t write about anger.