It’s hard enough to endure bad luck with poise and grace, but it’s another thing entirely to actually enjoy it– to find the good in it.
But that’s exactly what great men and women are able to do:
At age 67, Thomas edison returned home one evening from another day at the laboratory. Shortly after dinner, a man came rushing into his house with urgent news: A fire had broken out at Edison’s research and production campus a few miles away.
Fire engines from eight nearby towns rushed to the scene, but they could not contain the blaze. Fueled by the strange chemicals in the various buildings, green and yellow flames shot up six and seven stories, threatening to destroy the entire empire Edison had spent his life building.
Edison calmly but quickly made his way to the fire, through the now hundreds of onlookers and devastated employees, looking for his son. “Go get your mother and all her friends,” he told his son with childlike excitement. “They’ll never see a fire like this again.”
Don’t worry, Edison calmed him. “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”
That’s a pretty amazing reaction. But when you think about it, there really was no other response.
What should Edison have done? Wept? Gotten angry? Quit and gone home? What, exactly, would that have accomplished?
To do great things, we need to be able to endure tragedy and setbacks. We’ve got to love what we do and all that it entails, good and bad. We have to learn to find joy in every single thing that happens.
I am extremely cognizant of my attachment to devices and how I interact with them. After experimenting with a few hacks, I have been able to significantly reduce my usage with small, simple changes to my behavior.
I believe the iPhone is an incredible tool that makes our lives much easier. I would never want to give it up, but there is no question it’s addictive. The first change I implemented was putting my phone away while around other people. I wanted to be more present in my social interactions and this helped tremendously.
A few months back, I deactivated the notifications, sounds, and badges for most of my apps. It made an immediate and drastic difference in the frequency with which I reached for my phone. Then, on a whim, I set my phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode and noticed that I was far more focussed and productive. I typically keep my phone on silent and out of sight, but with the constant buzz of text messages or phone calls, I frequently felt distracted.
The Harvard Business Review reports that Just Hearing Your Phone Buzz Hurts Your Productivity. Many people don’t realize there is any benefit to switching from vibrate to totally silent. A new piece of research, “The Attentional Cost of Receiving a Cell Phone Notification,” reports that the reverberations of new notifications can distract us, even when we don’t look over to see what they are. It found that just being aware of an alert can hurt people’s performance on an attention-demanding task.
Psychic Capital: Tech and Silicon Valley Turn to Mystics for Advice is mostly a mediocre read, which highlights some tragic truths about San Francisco and Tech. I don’t think anyone needs a psychic to point this stuff out though.
Entering into tech requires people to either amp up their spirituality or to disconnect it and turn away altogether.
Also, by continually referring to the use of psychics, astrology, and numerology as “spirituality,” it perpetuates a hocus-pocus misconception of the term.
Tech companies, with their foosball tables and climbing walls, enable a prolonged adolescence that, in turn, pushes employees to seek spiritual fulfillment in drugs … or Burning Man … or SoulCycle … or psychics.
I’d argue that those activities are actually spiritual avoidance.
The irony is that the same free-spirited culture that inspired tech to experiment with spirituality is also threatening that spirituality’s existence in San Francisco.
Again, really flippant use of the word spirituality.
If the billionaire meek haven’t inherited the earth yet, they’ve certainly inherited San Francisco, along with its spectacular crash-and-burn destiny.
Sleep is the topic du jour.
The New Yorker takes an in-depth look sleep in this three-part series which covers falling sleep (Why Can’t We Fall Asleep), dreaming (The Work We Do While We Sleep), and wakefulness (The Waking Dead).
Also, check out this crazy, firsthand account of How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body from The Atlantic.
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
- Major update: he’s still missing and now there is an actual CAT DETECTIVE on his case. I sort of love and loathe that this profession is real and I really hope she tracks him down. We learned (from a neighbor, not the detective) that he has gone into their house and stretched out on the couch like he owned the place. He entered through a cat door and the cats who lived there just sat there looking at him like WTF. Another neighbor found his collar caught on a rock. Feeling hopeful!
- I hiked 11+ miles through Muir Woods & Mount Tam today. Walking through a forest might be the most immediate and effective therapy I’ve ever experienced. I’m feeling so much better. I’m sure there are plenty of John Muir or Thoreau quotes that articulate this more eloquently but for now you get my stream of consciousness. I will do a full write-up with pictures and references to scientific studies and inspirational wilderness quotes tomorrow-ish.
- New Horizons completed its flyby of Pluto today and I’m looking forward to seeing the images. In particular, the high-resolution color images that will be released a few months from now.
- The New Yorker has an incredibly well-written, engaging, and informative piece called “The Really Big One” in this weeks issue. Its making the rounds on social media and it’s clear from many of the comments that people aren’t actually reading it. I think you should actually read it. I found it fascinating and terrifying. I will not be moving to Portland.
- The Peanut Butter Company in NYC makes really delicious Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter.
- I love my friends and feel really lucky to be surrounded by people who inspire and support me in ways I never thought possible.
I’m really sad tonight. My cat, Major, has been missing since Friday. If you’re inclined, please send prayers and/or positive vibes for his safe return.
I’ve experienced similar positive benefits by making this one simple change.
In addition, even having a phone in view hurts our relationships — whether you check it or not.