Just Shut Up (Not Like That)

Psychology

Bad writing is written defensively; good writing is a way of making the self as vulnerable as possible. – Toby Litt

I mostly love art for making us realize others have felt our feelings and thought our thoughts, and the illusion of separation is just that: an illusion. We’re not alone. We’re surrounded by people, a lot of who make the thought of being away from humanity look extra sweet and desirable. We’re bombarded with information, most of it makes us want to stick a fork in our eyeballs and hope we die from bleeding. I never feel as powerless as when I watch the news. 

There are good and bad people like there’s information that makes you feel good and information that makes you feel baaaaaaaaaaad, like there’s good art and bad art.

Oscar Wilde said bad art is worse than no art and I don’t agree with him. Maybe he’s twisting and turning in his grave, thinking: I meant you. You represent all that is bad in the art world. I’ll be damned if I let a dead white man who thought laziness was a virtue tell me shit about life or art, though.

Now, what metaphor was I trying to make?

Ah yes. That the good people and the good information (I just mean writing and some extremely powerful, beautiful stories told via design/video I’ve come across lately, ah, and cool studies, but only when their findings match my opinions and worldview, otherwise… good luck Charlie) make it ALL worth it. That art lets us know we’re not alone, even when those people and that content isn’t around to help us smile, breathe, stay afloat. That the illusion of separateness is fueled by people refusing to be vulnerable, almost ruining all art and all people and all things for us. Almost, fuckers.

Consider not getting defensive next time. Yes, I know I just called you a fucker, I meant it lovingly, but that’s besides the point, who caressss? We definitely think others pay way more attention to us (and our negative aspects) than they do. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Consider letting it all show and flow and go. Wow Drake should’ve hired me for his verses. Is it Drake who said I’m just saying you could do better?

I think you could. We all could make the world a nicer, more livable, even (who’d have thought!) truly enjoyable place. Try vulnerability next time. Maybe it’s not your thing and you are actually born to be bitter all your life (nah), but please give it a try. A half-assed try. Something.

Plenty of mistakes? It’s fiiiine. People thinking your vulnerability is a sign of weakness? It’s fiiiiiine. Most people respect vulnerability and people saying what they want/need upfront, but some are too scared living behind walls to appreciate others who are comfortable enough to speak their mind. That’s not your problem. It’s fineeee! Getting to really know yourself is a long, tiring, painful process, but oh so worth it.

I’m just saying, you could* do better

You can*.

I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it

I sure hope you road work ahead? i sure hope it does vines hold my life together did i not mention do.

Clem Onojeghuo

Fuck Your Brutal Honesty

Psychology

Brutal honesty. I always advocate for honesty, and how it’s the best policy. That as long as you’re being respectful, you can do no wrong, no matter how hurtful the thing you’re saying is. However, I don’t think we need to be brutal. Brutality isn’t one of the words that should go hand in hand with honesty or police for that matter.

You can get your point across, truthfully, without being trash about it.

You can be a decent person and show respect, even though you may not like the other person.

You can say “yes” or “no” in a non-demeaning way.

You can tell someone how you feel without hurting their feelings.

You can pause before you speak. Even just a second should be enough reflection time and it will make a difference.

Ask yourself, is this adding to the discussion? Can you say it more clearly, interestingly, humanely?

Keep your brutality, it’s neither needed nor wanted.

P.S. And whoever convinced the world that brutal honesty is a cute personality trait… If I’m being brutally honest, there’s a special place in hell for you.

People in silhouette - Papaioannou Kostas

Friday – Condesending People

Psychology

For a while now, I’ve been blaming insecurities and an unclear sense of self as the root causes for most problematic behaviors. Condescending people are no exception.

condescending: having or showing an attitude of patronizing superiority

Why would someone talk to you like your age is a single-digit number? Granted, some people objectively know more than you in certain areas. However, I’ve noticed those who actually do, are usually humble and simple-minded people, willing to share their knowledge and experience without ever being cocky or patronizing or trying to seem superior.

Condescending people are clueless.

Today Is Not Over – Hers

Psychology

Everything I want to say about today has already been beautifully said. I will never advocate against going through with a project or an idea because “it’s been done before”, but in this instance, my post would just be a lousy replica of her work word by word.

It’s a simple concept that, as someone who sometimes struggles with black-and-white thinking and procrastination, I find extremely helpful: Today is not over yet.

Coffee mug

Alone Time

Psychology

I love spending time alone. Ironically, the past few years I’ve realized making time for alone time (it rhymes!) has tremendously helped in creating loving, meaningful relationships with others.

A benefit of choosing to be alone that I read about at Forbes and found very interesting comes to mind. Alone time helps us overcome the me-vs-them mentality, which is the norm when you’re surrounded by others. They did this, I did that, they think this, I think otherwise. Alone time makes us more empathetic and dissolves that line between us and others. I do believe everything is interconnected, and that in a strange, magic-like way, we’re all one. However, it’s hard to keep that in mind when you can’t choose the people you surround yourself with and they’re, well, shitty people.

I always love people more and feel more capable of seeing things from their point of view when I allow myself some distance.

Time alone improves your creative thinking processes, making you more productive and the end product inherently better. You’re more concentrated, and even though we have enough inner “noise” as is, outside distractions definitely add to that and not allowing them to interrupt our train of thought does make GSD easier and less of a hassle. We need to be more cautious with what we choose to pay attention to, and alone time helps us see clearly what is essential and what isn’t.

Spending time alone strengthens your sense of self and self-confidence. I really love this quote by Imam Sufyan Al Tha:

إذا عرفت نفسك فلا يضرك ما قيل فيك
“If you know yourself, then you’ll not be harmed by what is said about you.”

How beautiful is that?! Also, if you’re aware of your worth (and vices, bullshit, limiting ways), you’re not about to take shit from others.

Plus, I believe people that have an issue with spending time alone, have underlying psychological issues. What fears are you avoiding (or trying to)? What are you so afraid of?

If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company. – Jean-Paul Sartre

Today, I took it a step further. I went to a lovely place near my house and didn’t even take my phone or laptop or a book with me. Just me, no distractions, no interruptions. I mindfully enjoyed my coffee, the sun rays hitting my face, the cars and people passing by. I had such a productive rest of the day, and it’s about to get better.

Give yourself a chance to get to know yourself better, you might be delighted with what you find out.

My TED talk on humanity

Psychology

Have you heard of the Hawthorne Effect?

Simply put, it’s a term referring to how observing a thing changes that thing. Which means studying behavior is meaningless, and all studies monitoring humans can’t be trusted or be referred to.

Also in 2010, an avid lover and connoisseur of the placebo effect, Kaptchuk, told people they were getting placebo treatment instead of the real thing. He informed them about the placebo effect and how a great number (cough 62% cough) of people get objectively better for some reason. They got better.

We’re limitless and the rules don’t apply.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Unsplash photo

My notes- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Psychology

My notes on Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, who says one of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare and if you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results. I had to see for myself.


To disagree with Freud in the 1920s was a bold move. To disagree with Freud in the 1920s was a bold move.

Jung retreated to Bollingen, not to escape his professional life, but instead to advance it.

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

“Although he had many patients who relied on him, Jung was not shy about taking time off.” Deep work, though a burden to prioritize, was crucial for his goal of changing the world.

Dallas Clayton artwork image

10 Hacks That Will Change Your Life (Or Positively Affect It)

Drinks, Gratefulness, Meditation, Psychology
Meditate

You can start with as little as a minute or 10 breaths, then gradually move your way up. Over the years, a great number of studies have shown numerous benefits to meditation: a sense of calmness, better sleep, more self-confidence, less anxiety etc. The best thing about meditation is that all you need is you, no books or retreats or teachers to nourish the most important relationship of your life: the one with your inner self. As Nayyirah Waheed said:

I love myself is the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution. ever.

Drink water

Especially first thing when you wake up. After sleep, we’re all dehydrated and that glass of water may seem meaningless, but it really starts the day on the right foot for your body, mind, digestion… You can flavor it with fruits, lemon, mint or whatever strikes your fancy for some extra tastiness. Yes, I’m one of the people that think water has taste and a great one for that matter. Fight me and my superior taste buds.

Skip breakfast

No matter how much of a breakfast-dreader you might be, you knew that couldn’t be a real hack. Breakfast is important- you know it, I know it, the people at Dunkin Donuts know it… Your brain works better, your body responds faster, you’re prone to make healthier food choices, you won’t have any crashes afterward. Win win win. Extra hack: My friend who works ungodly hours for KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines, makes a batch of pancakes to go through the week, so she has something to look forward to. 10/10 recommended.

Moving

Yes, working out releases endorphins, the happiness hormone, but even just moving around your house/office, or taking a walk outside is enough to trigger a similar response. It’s extremely beneficial to your productivity, mental clarity and mood.

Simple, effective gratefulness method

I’m as wary as the next person when it comes to studies found online, seeing as you’re in the dark about who might have sponsored the research, how scientific the methods used are and whether the actual findings are actually applicable and/or beneficial in real life. However, I’m always on the lookout for claims that certain behaviors will make us lead a happier life. I came across happiness researcher Shawn Achor, who’s worked with Google, large financial companies, conducted studies in Harvard, UPS, etc., aka trustworthy, who shared his findings on 5 non-time-consuming happiness habits.

My favorite was writing down three (different) things you’re grateful for, 21 days in a row. I shared my own three things I’m grateful for a while back. Why it works you’re ~actively~ training your brain to look for positives. You’ll be a ray of sunshine in no time (your friends might get worried at first).

Adjust accordingly
Make a conscious effort to include activities you enjoy in your everyday life. Cliché as it sounds, you do only live once. Rules do not apply if you’re a cat or believe in reincarnation.
Image result for what you like what you don't change accordingly dallas clayton
Compliment others
Kind words cost nothing. Kind words cost nothing. Nothing. This “hack” is low cost- little to no effort/time; high reward- you might put a smile on someone’s face, make them feel more confident, make their day…
More purposefully directed attention
Only a small percentage of our time online is spent mindfully and purposefully. See how checking the news/social media frequently makes you feel and whether it adds any real value to your life. This is an important read.
Say yes/no more often

Advice at its finest. Some quotes I’ve come across often lately:

  1. all advice is a form of nostalgia
  2. all advice is autobiographical

Indian food? Spanish literature? Jazz music? You might be missing out because you refuse to give new things a try. On the other hand, you might be finding yourself agreeing to go to that Jazz club you strongly dislike, for the 3rd weekend in a row, just because you can’t say no to your friends. Boundaries are your friend. While stepping outside your comfort zone is crucial for growth, treat your needs and desires and time and self with the respect they deserve.

Look on the bright side
Is there anything remotely positive about your fucked up situation? Any lesson you’ve learned that you’ll cherish forever? Aren’t you proud of at least one thing you did during the stressful situation? Last night The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/5) was on tv, and I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes that it reminded me of:
“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Stop Doing This to Your Kids

Psychology

Let me start by stating the obvious. I don’t have kids, so not an expert. Not that having a kid makes you an expert, but you know. I’m also not an LFMT or child/adolescent therapist. However, I’ve had interactions with kids and seen them interact with their caretakers and others adults/kids enough times, to notice some patterns and be able to make some generalizations.

Threats

A lot of parents use threats as a way to get their children to “behave”. That’s extremely dangerous for the child’s emotional well-being. “I’ll go and you’ll be alone and the bad monster will come and eat you.” Stop threatening your kids. According to Piaget, known for his pioneering work in child development (as well as waking up every day at 4 am to write at least 4 pages #goals),  kids roughly between the ages 2 and 7 are in the preoperational stage, they’re highly egotistical, it’s all about them. Their needs. Their desires. Piaget also mentioned being unable to see things from others’ points of view as a characteristic of the preoperational stage. I have an issue (as does everyone in the psychology field) with the term normal, but it’ll have to do for now to explain children’s behaviour is perfectly normal (we didn’t spend an entire semester *cough* year *cough* in abnormal psych talking about what even is normal for me to have this conversation again goddamnit.) Threatening them messes up with their self-confidence and sets them up for creating an unhealthy attachment style, which will affect them throughout their entire lives.  Which brings me to…

Conditional love

Children need to feel secure in order to develop a healthy attachment style (attachment styles are très important, this covers all the basics). Children need to know their parents or primary caregivers will be there for them, even if they mess up and do something wrong don’t even get me started on how long we talked about right and wrong. Telling your kids you’ll only love them if they do (or don’t do) x thing might get you what you want, but at what cost?

Non-quality time

Have you heard of love languages? After thirty-five years of pastoring and marriage counseling, Dr. Gary Chapman came up with the concept that has saved and created thousands of thriving marriages and relationships. The book is pretty interesting, and you can take the test online too.

One of the 5 love languages -and my main love language- is quality time.  Unfortunately, more often than I’d like I see parents spending non-quality time with their kids, at a coffee shop, usually, the parent is with a friend, both paying 0 attention to the child, who’s just been given a phone to keep them busy, while they carry on with their conversation. So lovely. No one asks or engages the child in any way. It’s like they’re not there. If the child can form basic sentences, you can -and should- talk to them. I’m reading Mo Costandi’s Neuroplasticity, and this came to mind:

It showed that proper development of the visual cortex is highly dependent upon visual stimulation, and established the critical period- a narrow developmental time window during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to particular environmental stimuli- as a key concept not only in developmental neuroscience but also in psychology.

Please, stimulate your children brains. Include your children. Make them feel seen and valued.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Forced adulthood

A friend of mine, a teenager at the time, had to actually raise her baby sister, a job she miraculously great at, despite being extremely unqualified. Don’t treat children like adults. Let them have a childhood and let them enjoy it, they’ll have plenty of time to be grown. Whereas maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age, and some kids can be mature for their age, they’re still kids nonetheless. Holding them to impossible standards is just setting them up for failure, as well as making sure they will hold themselves to impossible standards when they grow up, then their kids… You can break the cycle. Don’t force children into adulthood.  Which brings me to…

Sexualizing kids

Not necessarily your own, but kids in general. Don’t sexualize them. Please. If you have something to say about a kid wearing something you consider too short or provocative for a kid, firstly, don’t say it and secondly, check yo damn self. Listen to yourself. Let kids be kids and wear whatever the fuck they want. The over-sexualization of little girls is especially used as an excuse to justify predatory behavior and pedophilia. Some time ago, I was walking down the street with some friends, and one of them commented on a girl’s who’d just walked by clothing, something my friend deemed inappropriate for a ~10-year-old. I just said what I wrote above, and she paused for a sec, then said actually you’re right. That felt good, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Each of us can help make the world a kinder, safer place, even if just a little bit.

No apologies

Apology n. the study of apples

Jokes aside, that seems to be most parents’ POV. You have to apologize to your kids, though. You have to validate their feelings and concerns and be fair to them. Create healthy boundaries for children since early on. Be honest and apologize when you should.

Not teaching them about consent

Teach them about consent. Teach them about consent.

kənˈsɛnt
noun
1. permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

Teach them about consent. The sooner, the better.

Not appreciating their brilliance

Kids are fucking amazing.

Not appreciating their parents

Parents, that’s your own damn selves. You truly have the hardest job in the world. Kudos to you badasses.

Disclaimer: I’m aware I’ve probably missed a million things and that I may die laughing at this when I become a parent.

Routine Optimization

Meditation, Psychology

Every time I’m inspired to take on a writing project, be it write x amount of words a day/pitch x publications a day/write every single day, especially that last one, I talk myself out of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done those things, at different times, for extended periods of time too, based on what I had to do or wanted to achieve. I’ve regularly relied on the permanence and continuity of numbers and crossing things off my to-do list to GSD.

I’m proud I’ve built a regular exercise routine, made waking up early a habit, as well as getting enough rest, and peut-être the best thing I’ve ever done for myself: keeping up a daily meditation practice.

Photo by Peter Hershey

I’ve written a bunch about meditation and its benefits (73.2% of the writing community be like), but a piece on meditation misconceptions is the only one that can be found on the interwebs. Only partly my fault, but I’ll make up for it sooner rather than later.

If you’re not familiar with or sold on meditation *yet*, this piece by Mark Manson is simple, concise and will make you want to at least give it a try.

I did and it changed my life, or if that’s too woo-woo for you, it ~positively affected~ my life.

Enough strangers I find trustworthy, esp Austin Kleon- recently discovered and I’m completely IN LOVE with his work already- have me believing writing (and publishing) every day will positively affect my life. This is from Something small, every day:

Every day, no matter what, I make a poem and post it online. Most days they’re mediocre, some days they’re great, and some days they’re awful. (Jerry Garcia: “You go diving for pearls every night but sometimes you end up with clams.”) But it doesn’t matter to me whether the day’s poem was good or not, what matters is that it got done. I did the work. I didn’t break the chain. If I have a shitty day, I go to sleep and know that tomorrow I get to take another whack at it.

What matters is that it got done. I’ve probably mentioned Facebook’s done is better than perfect to everyone I’ve ever met, yet as any creative, I struggle with applying the concept, even though on paper it sounds like #wordstoliveby.

I posted this a few months ago, captioned it with practicing non-attachment, but I can’t say I’m not feeling proud. Insight Timer is my practice facilitator. I’m not saying this is the easy way out, but I’d be lying if I said accountability and being notified of new milestones, and stars (that come in different colors!!!), hasn’t been tremendously helpful and motivating. Why would I want to break that streak?! Non-attachment who?

 

So that’s the plan, tricking my mind the same way about writing for the world, every day. Day 1: check ✓

P.S. I started writing a post scriptum, it started with When I said I talk myself out of it, I meant it, but it became too long for a P.S. so I’ll be making a separate post. Not considered cheating, right?