Show up with your full self and bring some joy to the room

The most exciting part of poker is anytime someone goes all in. 

This is a type of bet where the player commits his entire stack of chips. Even if it’s not a huge amount of money. Not the point. What matters is the commitment. The courageous, binary decision to jump into this situation unreservedly involved, without equivocation. 

Because in poker, there is no fence. You’re either in or you’re out. It’s a very simple, black and white construct. Or in this case, black in red. 

That’s why people with zero resolution are be infuriating. You know the ones. Wishy washy wimps who couldn’t make a firm decision if they were offered a lifeboat alongside a sinking cruise liner. Makes you want to pull your hair out. 

These people desperately need some upside down ankle shaking. 

And this is more than just everyday indecisiveness, too. What we’re talking about here are people who lack the ability to fully commit. To anything. It’s like they are never fully there, never fully not there, just sort of indifferently floating in the middle somewhere. 

Unfortunately, because life is not a game of poker, there is no binary rule that says they have to decide anything. There is no commitment police to enforce to keep people in line. 

Which means sometimes we almost have to campaign for others to show up completely. 

As if to say to them, hey man, there is a big feast going on here, if you would only show up. 

There is no guarantee that it will work, though. 

People don’t always show up the way we want them to. 

And we have to learn to accept that disappointment. 


Whom do you know that never seems to be all in, or all out, for anything?

Keep the spirits happy, keep the nest safe

Being the arbiter of moral rectitude is very rarely welcomed. 

In fact, it’s usually met with ungenerous opposition. 

Like when you go out to eat with a group of friends or colleagues, and upon ordering something healthy, all the sudden you get the chorus of eye rolls. People joke about how you are make everyone else feel bad. They make passive aggressive and backhanded remarks about your conscious choices. And you feel shamed and bullied for trying to be healthy. 

It’s not hyperbole, it’s biology. It’s a deeply ingrained evolutionarily driven impulse that all people do to protect their tribes. 

And so, when you are the deviant person refusing to conform to the normality of the group, people’s reptilian brains kick into high gear. They perceive you as trying to leave the tribe, and that ancient chorus begins spinning on repeat. 

Keep the spirits happy, keep the nest safe and show allegiance to the chief and the clan. 

Biologists call this the shaming and shunning instinct. It’s an expression of envy and anger. 

In the case of healthy eating or drinking habits, for example, one member has what the others want. 

Discipline. Restraint. Strength. 

Which means the mob needs to take them down for it. 

How dare you make healthy choices in front of us? We are eating friend chicken and drinking whiskey, and that is that. 

Sadly, this instinct starts at a very young age. And it never stops unless we become aware of it. 

Reminds me of middle school. Everyday my brown bag lunch was a turkey on a bagel with pretzels and an apple. Whereas everyone else was eating junk, sugary snacks and other normal food. 

And so, my friends humiliated me. They called me a brown nose goodie two shoes. Because apparently, it was not cool to responsibly pack and bring your own lunch, much less a healthy one. 

The shunning and shame got so bad that eventually I just stopped doing it, and just purchased junk food from the cafeteria machines instead. 

Maybe nobody really wants you to be healthy after all. 


What healthy choices have you been shamed for?

Share the essence of the person who is underneath

During the coronavirus pandemic, nametags started to take on new meaning. 

Particularly in hospitals. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are legally required to keep their distance, interacting with patients only under excessive layers of protective equipment. 

My friends who worked in medicine told me it made them feel deeply disconnected. But certain healthcare workers found clever ways to help patients feel less alone and more joyful. 

Scripps hospital system had a group of respiratory specialists that started wearing nametags with cheerful pictures of themselves on their gowns. Displaying their full names along with reassuring, comforting smiles uplifted sufferers of this horrible virus and made a big difference to scared patients. 

Can you imagine how good that would feel if it were you? 

On both sides of the stethoscope, too. For the patients, the nametags bring ease during a stressful time. The patient care experience is instantly made more human and memorable. 

And as for the healthcare providers, the nametags elevate their sense of pride as an essential worker. It also prevents them from being reduced to a pair of eyes behind layers of gear.

It’s no surprise, then, that hospitals have announced changes to their identification protocols as the coronavirus spreads. Many are now requiring larger, more prominent nametags to be worn at all times. This sticker is to remain visible to patients, guests, and other personnel, rather than just hanging from a belt loop in the background. 

After all, being in the hospital for an unknown virus is scary enough. May as well do what we can to ease the burden. 

One chief of medicine told his local paper that giving patients hope through a friendly face is fifty percent of the battle. If he has someone who loses hope, it doesn’t matter how many medications he gives them, they’re going to go. 

Perhaps nametags are just what the doctor ordered. 

Now, there is no clinical proof that the nametag heals the outcome of someone’s condition, but it certainly helps the experience of treating it. Particularly during this time when people are already starved for connection, this story is a reminder for all of us to not make a tough situation even harder by being anonymous. 

Put yourself and the people around you at ease by visibly articulating your humanity in an uplifting way. 

Wear your nametag. Share the essence of the person who is underneath, and let the healing begin. 


How could you use connection to comfort those who are suffering?

It was abuse, but you thought it was just the way that they loved

According to the national coalition against domestic violence, an average of twenty people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. 

It’s a sad and terrifying reality of modern relationships. 

And the worst part is, abusers are highly skilled at shifting the blame for their toxic behavior. They are experts at finding excuses to dodge any and all responsibility. 

Consider several of the most common abuse justifications. 

It wasn’t that bad. It was stress. It’s because they care so much. It didn’t really have much of an effect. It’s because they want things to get better. It’s just a phase. It hurt, but deep down there is love. It was just a moment of anger. 

Unacceptable, right? 

There is no excuse for abuse, as the activist mantra goes. 

And yet, we justify abusing ourselves every day. In all of those moments when we berate and act unkindly and torture ourselves mentally, the story we tell is no different than the spouse who hits their lover. 

If we don’t beat ourselves up about this behavior, then we will never change it. 

But it’s just another excuse. Shifting the blame. Dodging responsibility. 

If we have any intention of healing, then we have to figure out what story we are telling about the hurt. We have to interrupt the spiral of abuse before it gets out of control. We have to be gentle with the place inside of us that feel so bad. We have to stand with ourselves as a whole human beings, forgiving whatever imperfections we assume make us unlovable and worthless.

 In short, we have to open our hearts to ourselves.

Remember, lying takes skill, but honesty takes courage. 

Trust that telling the truth is the only way to exist in the future. 


Are you bargaining with yourself to hold onto those abusive behaviors that don’t serve you?

Faith wanders and shakes hands with the craziness

Everything seems inevitable and logical in retrospect. 

But for now, reason is being invaded by history. Tumbling down a fantastic realm where logic and reason no longer applied, there seems to be no objective moral framework in the unforgiving chaos of this absurd universe. 

This is difficult for our primitive egos to comprehend. 

Because nobody wants to admit they’ve seen something that their education or experience can’t explain. That cognitive dissonance is simply too disturbing. If we can’t find something black and white to hang our hats on, then our faith will wander and shake hands with craziness until further notice. 

No matter how evolved and savvy and sophisticated we pretend to be, human beings are still superstitious natives who have to chalk everything up to something. And it’s not helping us. 

Cameron once wrote thatfaithis the ability to be where we are and to accept that where we are is where we are supposed to be. 

This definition may not be peaceful, but it can bring us peace. Because if we surrender our need to know how everything works and why everything happens, loving the truth more than the ideal, then we can navigate the chaos with a modicum of grace. 

Remember, even if it hurts when we argue with reality, let us trust that nature knows what it’s doing


Are you blocking reality with the richly textured excuse and explanation that accompanies it?

We must remember that we are okay

We must remember that we are okay. 

Vandijk’s research on calming the emotional storm identifies a subtle phenomenon called an invalidating environment. 

It’s where we are taught that our emotions are wrong inappropriate or not okay. The underlying message is to not feel what we are feeling. 

Like the hyper critical parent who offers an infuriating nonstop commentary on our shortcomings. Or the insensitive teacher who tells us that getting angry is not okay. Or the older sibling who rolls his eyes and berates us any time we try to share an opinion. 

As children, these invalidating environments can cause our feelings to be increasingly foreign and scary and confusing to us. Because we don’t know any better. 

However, as adults, the same invalidation can rear its ugly head once again. Perhaps from a boss, peer, coworker or spouse.

And in that moment, the first thing we must do is remember that we are okay. 

We know that whatever that person is doing to us has probably been done to them. And we trust that whatever bile they are spewing in our mouths is more of a reflection of their insides than our outsides. 

When someone is mean to us, we must remember that we are okay. 

When someone invalidates our perceptions and discounts our being and nullifies our feelings, we must remember that we are okay. 

And when someone refuses to accept our internal experience as valid and understandable, we must remember that we are okay. 


What invalidator lurks in the dark corners of your mind and tells you that you are not enough?

Making decisions is hard, living with them is a harder

My mentor once gave me a priceless piece of business advice. 

Once you’ve sold something, don’t buy it back. Just get your money and walk away. Resist the urge to justify the purchase, over explain the product or excessively thank the customer. Be grateful for the sale and go make another one. 

It’s not only great advice for making sales, but also for making decisions. 

Because for many people, deciding is not actually the hard part. Living with that decision is. 

How many times have you found yourself snared in an endless tangle of anxiety and regret, wondering about marginally better options, unable to give yourself permission to be satisfied with your decision? 

Too many. 

Each time, second guessing yourself into stagnation. 

It’s like my lawyer friend who refuses to make any decision until he has all the facts. It’s exhausting to be around. Especially if our friends are doing something simple like picking a restaurant for dinner. 

Christ on cracker, it’s just pizza, not supreme court case. 

Proving, that making the right choice doesn’t matter as much as making the commitment to choosing. 

Truth is, there is no right choice. It doesn’t exist. It’s a unicorn. Simply making a choice, any choice, even if it’s not perfect, and then following through with absolute commitment, that makes it the right choice. 

Besides, how bad can most pizza really be? 

Seinfeld was right when he said, pizza is like sex, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. 

Remember, making decisions is hard, living with them is a harder. 

Once you’ve sold something, don’t buy it back. 

Just get money and walk away your. 


What decisions are you still not satisfied with?

Spending my life swimming in chemical soup.

Sobriety is less about the act of consumption and more about the command of oneself. 

It’s about the independence from craving. Not allowing things to consume us, so to speak. 

Public health agencies have done a helpful job of reframing the official definition of sobriety. They refer to it as the achievement and maintenance of control over, and equilibrium in, our life in general. 

Interestingly enough, they mention that sobriety is considered to be the natural state of a human being given at a birth. 

And so, what we are talking about here is a return. Not to an unattainable place of perfection, but to an inherent posture of wholeness. It’s who we were before the world told us who we needed to be. 

In the fascinating recoverydevotional about walking in dry places, one sober man made a brilliant observation:

In this frantic seeking, our basic delusion is that substances can satisfy what is really a spiritual need. Instead of realizing that there is a law of diminishing returns in the abuse of such things, we cling to the delusion that just one more will bring the relief and satisfaction we want. 

What consumes you? What destroys your equilibrium? What is the thing that makes you lose command of yourself? 

Of course, there is no need to judge yourself for these things. And there is no need to remove all of these things from your life. 

There is only the invitation to accept that they exist. 

And if sobriety is something that is meaningful you, they are the obstacle that is the way. 


What helps you achieve independence from craving?

Begin the unnecessarily slow moving dipping mechanism

Years ago, a popular national news show wanted to feature me as a human interest story on their upcoming episode about luck. 

They asked if they could follow me around for a day to see how wearing a nametag helped open doors with strangers, create connections and stack the cards in my favor. 

Sounds fun, so let’s do it. 

But when the crew showed up at my apartment, the producer informed me that I would be wearing a hidden camera in the button of my shirt. 

Which sounds glamorous and spy movie like in theory, but it actually made me feel kind of sleazy. Unethical. Asking myself, wait, is this even legal? 

Naturally, the television producers assured me that this was standard journalistic procedure, and that their network uses hidden cameras all the time. Just sign this waiver here and try not to draw any attention to the incredibly obvious beeping battery pack that’s hanging around your waist. 

Long story short, we spent the day walking around, pretending to act normal, hoping strangers would engage with my nametag. 

And can you guess what happened? 

Nothing. Nobody said a word. I was ghost. No odd looks, no random greetings, no questions about my nametag, nothing. 

And as the day progressed, the team from the network grew more and more impatient. Looking at me as if to say, we flew an entire production crew out here just to see your little sticker not work? 

Well, that’s not luck, that’s science. Perhaps you’ve heard of the observer effect, which states that the very act of observation causes changes on the matter being observed. 

And so, my anxious and inauthentic attitude was actually repelling the people around me. 

People responded to my negative energy with less friendliness than normal. 

Proving, that attitude doesn’t perceive reality to be different, it causes it to be different. 

Lesson learned, it’s not the nametag, it’s the heart behind it. 


What are you trading your authenticity for?

Situations where we feel tempted to waste our energy

Recentresearchfrom a federal library found that we are a shockingly wasteful country. 

The study showed that more than sixty percent of the energy that flows through our economy is ultimately wasted. Between fuel inputs such as coal and natural gas, and the end use energy consumption for residential, industrial and transportation purposes, less than half of that fuel was constructively used at the end of the day. 

One data point showed that the hours of energy wasted each month are the equivalent to an electric oven running at three hundred degrees for six full days. 

From an economic perspective, this is a staggering statistic. But it’salso a macrocosm for a human dilemma, which is the mismanagement of our personal energy. 

Imagine all the ways people are uneconomical with their own fuel. 

They waste time in hopeless arguments and projects doomed from the onset. They efficiently do tasks that nobody wants done. They enter into unnecessary obligations that hold no possible benefit for them. They tranquilize themselves in the trivial and get constantly involved in every tiny matter. They torture themselves trying to understand the injustice of every goddamn thing. They knock over everyone in their path politicking and maneuvering their way to some fantasy power position. 

Imagine how many electric ovens could be powered with that amount of energy. 

The question is, how do we remove ourselves from situations where we feel tempted to waste our energy? 

Reacher comes to mind. He recentlyobservedhow certain laws apply when a citizen talks to a federal agent, mostly the ones about saving breath and skipping bullshit. 

If that isn’t the best mantra for personal energy management, who knows what is. 

Look, perfect efficiency is about as possible as unscrambling an egg. But the world already throws enough pain and nonsense at us. Why create unnecessary pressure and stress? 

We must remind ourselves how pointless it is to rage and fight. 

And we must give ourselves permission to opt out of these stupid races that don’t matter or even exist. 


Where are you wasting a great deal of energy that might be more usefully employed?

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