My favorite book by Jon Kabat-Zinn is “Wherever You Go There You Are.” That’s why I was looking forward to reading “Full Catastrophe Living” when I saw that it was available at the library. When I picked up the book at the front counter, I flipped through it while the librarian was processing the borrow.
Flipping through “Full Catastrophe Living,” I could tell that it was very different from WYGTYA. This book was written like a manual. Encouraging chapter titles, but you could immediately tell this was a different breed of book. This was an authoritative manual on how to deal with stress.
Let’s start with the fact that stress is inevitable:
“The concept of stress says that, in one way or another, we are continually faced with the necessity of adapting to all the various pressures we experience in life.” – Kabat-Zinn
So how do we begin to deal with it?
“The very first and most important step in breaking free from a lifetime of stress reactivity is to be mindful of what is actually happening while it is happening.” – Kabat-Zinn
What’s the next step?
“There is an art of facing difficulties in ways that lead to effective solutions and to inner peace and harmony. When we are able to mobilize our inner resources to face our problems artfully, we find we are usually able to orient ourselves in such a way that we can use the pressure of the problem itself to propel us through it, just as a sailor can position a sail to make the best use of the pressure of the wind to propel the boat.” – Kabat-Zinn
By facing the difficulty head-on, we move on more easily.
“You move on. The next moment will have less carryover from the preceding ones because you faced them and dealt with them when they came up. Responding mindfully to stress from moment to moment will minimize the tension that we allow to build up inside of us, thereby reducing our need to cope with the discomfort that accompanies internalized tension.” – Kabat-Zinn
What else causes stress?
“Feeling threatened can easily lead to feelings of anger and hostility and from there to outright aggressive behavior, driven by deep instincts to protect your position and maintain your sense of things being under control.” – Kabat-Zinn
So of course this is leading to mindfulness. What exactly happens when we apply mindfulness to a stressful situation?
“When you bring awareness to stressful moments, you might see more clearly how your own unbalanced view could be contributing to an inappropriate overreaction on your part, one that is out of proportion to what the actual circumstances warrant.” – Kabat-Zinn
Notice that even feelings have a beginning and an end.
“If you can be mindful at such times, if you are watching carefully, you will also notice that even these recurring images, thoughts, and feelings have a beginning and an end, that they are like waves that rise up in the mind and then subside.” – Kabat-Zinn
So all of this comes to the final point:
“Practice not-doing and everything will fall into place – Lao Tzu
Take some time to think about nothing. Take some time to do nothing. Take some time to sit around and just do nothing. Does this sound familiar? That’s exactly what meditation is – time to think about nothing, do nothing, to just sit around doing “not-doing.”
Finally I’ll end with this quote from the book. It’s my hope that by reading this blog post you’ve learned why it’s so important to do nothing. To actively pursue doing nothing. Contact me if this post had an impact on you. How do you practice not doing?
“Inner peace exists outside of time. If you commit yourself to spending some time each day in inner stillness, even if it is for two minutes, or five or ten, for those moments you are stepping out of the flow of time altogether.” – Kabat-Zinn
I finished reading Clive Thompson’s “Smarter Than You Think” about 2 weeks ago. The topics have had time to stew. Now it’s time to put these thoughts down in a blog post. Here we go!
There is no question that technology is changing the world. Marc Andreessen famously said, “Software is eating the world.”
Thompson takes it a step further. Not only is software eating the world, it’s eating us, masticating us, and pooping us out changed for better or for worse. It all depends on how you see the world.
“Smarter Than You Think” contains stories that show that the contest between humans and computers has been settled. When IBM’s Deep Blue beat Kasparov, it signaled the end of human intelligence and the ascendance of the T-1000.
Read a bit further and Thompson makes his real point. In a battle of intellect between humans and computers, the computer will always win. However, team up the computer and the human and they beat computers!
Here is a procedure for pairing humans and computers to win the game of life in 2019:
“The one thing that both apocalyptics and utopians understand and agree upon is that every new technology pushes us toward new forms of behavior while nudging us away from older, familiar ones.” – Thompson
What happens when we get nudged too far from what we’re used to?
“Any economist will tell you that when you suddenly increase the availability of a resources people do more things with it, which also means they do increasingly unpredictable things.” – Thompson
What will we do with the power that we have harnessed from computers? What happens when our iPhones do more than just storing our images? What do we do with all these digital memories?
“The real power of digital memories will be to trigger our human ones.” – Thompson
Then what happens when we’re overwhelmed with too many digital memories?
“Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, the author of ‘Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age’, says we’ll need to engineer more artificial forgetting into our lives. He argues our life traces would consist only of the stuff we’ve actively decided ought to stick around a day, a week, forever.” – Thompson
Contemplation is required to order this new chaos.
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – Thompson
Then we share it with the world.
“One of the unspoken cardinal rules of online expression is be more interesting – the sort of social pressure toward wit and engagement that propelled coffeehouse conversations in Europe in the nineteenth century.” – Thompson
And people comment.
“People walk around with tons of information and wisdom in their heads but with few outlets to show it off. When you see someone asking a question on a subject you know about, it catalyzes your desire to speak up.” – Thompson
And that commenting adds up to more commenting.
“Academic research into question-answering sites has found that answering begets answering: people who respond to questions are likely to stick around for months and and answer even more.” – Thompson
But never be negative in your responses.
“Negative comments create a loop: they poison the atmosphere, chasing off productive posters.” – Thompson
Why do you need to participate in your own evolution in this digital life? Why don’t we level up each other to make it easier?
“The fun in a game isn’t in having mastered it. It’s in the process of mastery – of figuring out the invisible dynamics behind how the thing works, revealing its secrets.” – Thompson
Thought the internet would save you from having to network in the real world? Think again!
“Reaping the cognitive benefits of the Internet often requires social work. This distresses anyone for whom social work is a chore or seems beneath them.” – Thompson
Above all be authentic:
“It’s about authenticity and bringing new information into the network. Those are the people whose message actually spreads. Quality, delightfully, seems to matter.” – Thompson
Above all be visible:
“To make social change begin to snowball, we need to make our thoughts visible. When members of society think in public and keep in ambient contact with one another, it creates a new environment – where we’re increasingly aware of what changes might be possible.” – Thompson
Above all, participate!
“Evidence suggests that the more socially active people are online, the more civically active they are offline, too.” – Thompson
I hope this blog helped you more clearly envision the changing world we are living in. By writing, sharing, and pairing with your computer I hope you more clearly see how to evolve by spreading your thoughts and participating with others to reap the benefits of the network. I hope that these posts allow you to see your evolving position in the world. I hope the coming changes provide you with great riches and good health.
If this post clarified things for you, please contact me!