We Need Better Stories

Long ago the course of history changed, it happened after someone said, “god is dead.” To this day we still believe that ‘god is dead’, but rather than trying to resolve the problem we have fallen deeper into the void. This isn’t to say we should fill our lives with stories about gods or ghosts, but we need to fill them with something.

When we think of stories we often think of entertainment and for the most part that is what they are. Especially when the stories come from books, movies, TV or video games. At times these stories are great, they give us thoughts to chew on. They give us something without inundating us with too many facts, making them easier to consume. Books are often split between fiction and nonfiction, which is to say, fiction is the original form.

Stories can be helpful when they introduce us to things that we haven’t thought or seen before. Stories can inspire and motivate us, they give us guidance to help us live better lives. On the other hand, they can be cautionary, they can warn us about what to avoid and where we should not try to go.

A great story about success can help us follow our dreams, by showing us a way that has worked. A story about failure that destroyed someone’s life, can help us avoid a similar fate.

We shouldn’t expect stories to be the all and end all of everything, but they should at least be a part of our lives. We need stories and we should seek them out if they are missing from our lives. For a society as a whole, good stories help us collectively live better lives, unfortunately, without them the opposite becomes true.

If we look at the world around us these days, it is easy to get caught up in all that is wrong. It’s easy to watch the news and think that things are terribly wrong and will only get worse. This may be true, but I propose that the real problem isn’t what’s happening in the world, but instead what is happening in our heads. Our minds are in disarray because we don’t have enough great stories to guide us.

Our problems have complicated roots, but if we want to work towards solutions we need to start telling better stories. We need stories to inspire, guide and help us see the light in the darkness around us. We need stories that are easy to follow, have interesting plots, and most importantly we need stories that have a point. Too many stories these days are empty or so long that the point goes missing.

To save the world, we need to make it a better place and to do that we need to fill in the parts that are missing. We need stories that make sense and help us see a better possible world, from there our collective actions, will follow. What is missing, and what will make us great again is better stories.

be amazing

Why is it Important to be Amazing?

We live in dark times, an age where what is right and wrong is no longer clear, a time when the values of our society seem misdirected at rewarding the worst of us rather than the best. We live in times where a crazy man from TV can raise to the highest position of power in the western world with empty words and not so subtle hate.

What else can we expect, what other options are there? As a culture, we’ve lost sight of what is good. Even worse, we’ve stopped rewarding good, ensuring it doesn’t continue. This isn’t something we can blame anyone specifically, we can’t point a finger and expect any serious change. The problems of today are systematic, and they are for all of us the same.

What if this is where we are supposed to be? What if, instead of this being a fluke, it is where we have been pointing our aim at? This isn’t a crazy man with a gun, it’s a culture aiming at destructive goals. We wanted this to happen, we all asked to be rich, famous and loud. This is not random, we’ve all been asking for it.

If we look at it from this perspective, as a cultural phenomenon of misaligned goals and poor judgment, then the solution is a change from within. We can’t expect our leaders to take us there, they’ve already proven that they are unable or unwilling to do what is right. No change can come from them, they are set in their ways.

Being amazing is doing the right thing, making good choices and doing what is necessary to make your life and the lives of the people around you better. By shopping locally and making better food choices you are working towards a better environment. By making smart choices about the things you buy, you are helping yourself and the economy by not creating more toxic debt. When you avoid things that you don’t need, you create less waste. When you read books you learn about the world and make better choices.

The best part about being amazing is that it is contagious. When people see you setting a good example they follow your lead. The goal, beyond being amazing is to help the people around you be more amazing too. By doing the right thing, you reward doing the right thing. When we work towards making ourselves better, others follow, and they set an example for the people around them.

We are at a tipping point, things have tipped in this direction and are already getting ready to tip in the other direction. When things are ‘bad’ people get ready for things to turn good. Sometimes we just need to be nudged or inspired, and that inspiration comes from the people around us. The more amazing people we see, the more willing we will be to try to be amazing ourselves.

Don’t be tricked, this isn’t a quick fix, it is a slow process, one that starts with you. Remember, it’s not about getting our leaders to make the right choices, they will follow our lead when we choose to do the right thing.

To make the world more amazing, you need to start with yourself, the world will follow.

fast foot vs homemade

Skip the Soylent, Make a Meal Instead

We live in a world of modern technologies that try to make our lives easier. We can order liquid meal replacements online, or log on to services that connect us with a restaurant and delivery person to bring food to our doorstep. On the surface these seem like noble causes, solutions to our time limitation problems and a way to make our lives easier and less complicated.

The intention of these technologies is to make things easier, but is that really the case? Are our lives really getting easier if we become dependent on someone or something for our most basic food requirements? There is value in occasional convenience, you don’t want to make every meal, you don’t have the time. But how often is too often? How much does it take before it becomes a problem?

The alternative is taking the responsibility upon yourself and making your own meals. This means you need to know how to make food, but that is something you can learn. It also means you need to go to the grocery store and buy ingredients, which might be scary. You are going to need time to make your meals at first, it will be slow, but with practice, it gets easier. All in all, time is the biggest challenge, you need to be willing to use that limited resource.

But think about the benefits, when you make your own meals you are saving money, rather than paying a chief, tip, delivery fee and markup, you only pay for the ingredients. Next, rather than being in a black box relationship with food, not knowing what you are eating, you know exactly what you are consuming. Further, you may have already formed a negative relationship with food, in that you are accustomed to poor quality junk food.

On the other hand, as you learn to cook you gain an important skill, you gain independence and you get the satisfaction of an accomplishment – learning to cook and being self-sufficient. In addition, you will always know what you are eating because you made it yourself. The quality at first, at least in the sense of taste might not match, but in time will improve and may become better than what you buy. Likewise, by seeing what you are eating, you become inspired to make better choices about your diet going forward. Finally, think about the money, how much would you save in a year, if every meal costs a fraction of what it used to?

This is the alternative, you can save money, know what you are eating, learn a skill, find some purpose and be more connected to what you eat. But in order to do this, you need to be willing to do the more difficult thing, you need to be willing to accept the responsibility of your consumption. Is it really any worse, it certainly doesn’t seem that way, if anything it is magnitudes better. Your health, wallet, habits and sense of self-worth will all benefit from this choice.

Don’t take this the wrong way, there are certainly times to go out for dinner, spend time with friends and build relationships. But for all the other times, which is most of the time, making your own meals will be the better more healthy option. Next time you get tempted to order delivery or drink a meal, consider the alternative, consider the possibility of making your own food. Sure it will a little inconvenient, but in the long term, it will be worth it in so many ways.

Go forward and make your life more difficult, it is worth it.

Aim To Be Amazing Rather Than Looking Successful

Often when we think about success, we have in our mind a very specific type of person. Someone who has achieved great things often has something to show for it, not always the things that we might expect, but there are typical success signals we tend to look for.

There are some idioms we use at times “dress the part” and “dress for success.” With both of these ideas the key factor has to do with one’s appearance, and this is something we tend to judge people on. On the surface, we would like to say that we value someone’s character or the things they have done. But usually, it would be too time-consuming for us to do a full assessment, so instead we do a quick look over for success signals.

Some of these success signals have to do with the way that people look. Surface appearance are the most important factor when making a quick surface judgment. These include the way one dresses, the car they drive, the home they live in and sometimes their job. These things are at times easy to judge, if you see someone on the street the first two may be easy to spot.

In some cases it may be true, nice clothes and a title do have something important to say about a person. We can also be sure that some occupations really are a signal of value, though that would be a debatable list of jobs. It could also be necessary that one dresses a certain way because of their job. This could be because of the people they interact with, or from an arbitrary business requirement.

With this idea in mind, it’s important to say, that this isn’t the type of success we should be aiming for. Instead, we should aim to be amazing, amazing at the things we do, the lives we live and the people we are. It might seem counter-intuitive to think we can focus on a new set of goals, but at least we won’t need to “fake it till we make it.”

Being amazing has to do with the people we are and the values we have. Being amazing, in part is as simple as reading books, taking walks and maintaining a healthy diet. With practice, it can get more robust, including considerations for purchases and consequences of them. With knowledge, we can make better choices. Moving forward, you could work on improving yourself, ensuring that you are working towards a set of goals that you’ve defined. Rather than looking rich and successful, you might find more satisfaction in finding someone to start a family with.

Rather than sticking to the superficial goals of the past, we should aim for goals that we can achieve, and goals that will make the world a better place. This may seem like a promise that can’t be kept, but it is not. There are a whole bunch of things you can do that will help you be an amazing person. That said, you might also need to realize that being successful isn’t necessarily being amazing, maybe being amazing is more important than being successful.

A Brain Trust | Copyright 2017