What do you care about most?
Yesterday evening, I was trying to do a hard thing. I had just come back to my office from getting a glass of water.
I sat down.
I did the hard thing for roughly 1.5 minutes
I loaded up facebook.
My wife walked into my office, knowing I was trying to do a hard thing. “How’s it going?”
“I did about 1.5 minutes of it… and then I loaded up facebook so I could distract myself.”
Seriously and truly, figuring out how to break those patterns throughout the workforce might be the challenge of our generation. There will be some sort of paradigm shift where someone makes a company succeed simply by getting their employees to see how much their self-distracting practices are hurting them.
Sometimes the difference between making it and not making it is simply showing up and doing a thing pretty well, over and over and over again.
I’m in the enviable position of celebrating two Thanksgivings each year. You see, I hail from the Great White North. Growing up in the True North, strong and free, I was spoiled. I didn’t know how spoiled I was, but I was spoiled.
We were always warm. As one who now pays heating bills, I’m acutely aware how spoiled we were. We were always fed. Three boys who could pack it away, by the way. We were happy. Not always — we were kids, after all, but there was much joy in our house growing up. We had the sega master system. Then we had the nintendo entertainment system. We were rich. We were provided for, we laughed a lot, and we were spoiled.
As I turned 10, my parents decided to move our family to Puerto Rico. They sought to serve God and to serve deaf children. My parents did both of those things well. We were always warm in those years, too. The heating bills went down, though. We were fed, we had fun, and God was very kind to us. We met all kinds of great people.
I think the best example of providence in all of that is meeting my wife. A kid from Peterborough, Ontario, had to go to Puerto Rico, to meet a girl from Huntington, WV, who had lived in South Africa and then in Puerto Rico.
That’s flat crazy. I couldn’t be happier to be married to her. In the history of the world, the likelihood of that marriage happening is small. Yet, here I am.
And you know, I’m happy. I’m warm. I’m well-fed. And I pay those bills now. We’re blessed beyond compare.
I have much to be thankful for. I am thankful.
Are you thankful today?
It started on Facebook:
And then I decided to expand the thought
Because I think it’s true. I think we might save civilization if we could band together and say no to click bait-y headlines.
It comes from a lot of reading — reading things that don’t have click bait-y titles. Brain science stuff like Thinking, Fast and Slow, and The Art of Thinking Clearly, and The Organized Mind, and Blink. Combined with productivity stuff that talks about how we focus (like Getting Things Done, and What’s Best Next, and many others)
The conclusion I’m coming to is that by constantly feeding ourselves dumb things with intriguing headlines, we’re creating neural pathways and reinforcing them — and they point to “I like to read dumb things.”
And listen, at my core, I like to read dumb things. But it’s not good for civilization. We need to reach for better, right?
You can tell a lot about people by what they celebrate, what is “famous.” Our cultural celebration of stupidity doesn’t look good on us. What does it say about us that one of the biggest stories of the last week is a basketball player agreeing to a deal and then reneging, and the “hilarious” fall out on twitter? Or that among the presidential candidates for 2016, the ones currently getting the most attention are often political caricatures rather than decent human beings? What does it mean that we’re more interested in celebrity gossip than producing something great?
I know the “save civilization” thing might play a little heavy. Maybe it’s doing exactly what those headlines do.
Or maybe not. Maybe civilization that becomes obsessed with stupidity eventually becomes stupider. If that’s the case — and I very strongly suspect it might be — then it’s no joke.
So, go read something significant. Like What is Code or Understanding the Greek Debt Crisis. Whatever you do, please, if the headline is trying to drag you into reading something dumb, please avoid it. Or else, put some money in the jar.