Chip Is Alive!, Issue 5
Welcome to Issue 5 of Chip Is Alive!, where we examine thought-provoking life strategies and issues which may or may not be of interest to you. Chip Is Alive! is inspired by Chip Vivant, the app who thinks he's alive and wants to be your friend and help you in ways that other productivity apps can't. You can meet Chip at www.empathynow.com.
If you've missed a newsletter, click here for the newsletter archive. To unsubscribe, use the link at the bottom of this email.
In this issue, we'll:
- finish our discussion topic from two weeks ago: Following Your Passion: A Counterpoint
- provide a teaser about learning foreign languages
- revisit Chip's To-Do functions
Enjoy. Feedback always welcome.
Conclusion: Following Your Passion: A Counterpoint
Two weeks ago, I brought up a popular theme among life coaches and self-help experts: following your passion. I touched on this briefly last week, where I mentioned the PBS Video Half the Sky and how two successful mentors, Nancy Colasurdo and Marie Forleo, encouraged me to watch it in order to get an answer to my question.
I received a number of great and thought-provoking responses which I'll share here. (This newsletter is a bit longer this week, but well-worth the read.)
Nancy Colasurdo wrote:
If you have a passion for something and you go where it naturally takes you via The Universal Flow, you will be tapping into a major creative and energetic source for your work. This, in turn, will lift you and the significant people in your life, but it will also ripple out to help those who may not have been uplifted if not for your message/work. This has a spiritual component, but it is very much about basics like momentum, focus, being open and listening carefully to your gut. When those things happen -- and I don't believe anyone is there 100 percent of the time -- it does begin to FEEL like magic because there's an alignment of self happening that can be heady.
Those who are suffering in some of the circumstances you describe, well, unfortunately not all of them will be saved or healed. But many will because of those who paid attention to their gifts and recognized they could be of value in not just their own lives but in the world. It can have the heft of the Clinton Global Initiative or it can be Oprah Winfrey opening a school in Africa, but it can also be one person hearing a message (perhaps designed by you?) in the one moment they needed it that helps turn their life around.
Truly, though, I see this principle as applying on a continuum and extending well beyond our human understanding.
Rebecca Hulse wrote:
Every person has a unique set of talents, experience and knowledge only given to them and to me if you chose to use that for something that you are deeply passionate about.
I have 10 years education and experience in personal development including goals, the law of attraction, clearing blockages, visualization and the power of your though and action that I channel into creating empowered women who love their life and want to share with the world their own greatness. - That is what pays translating your message, love and passion into service and love to other people.
Then money is only an exchange of energy and you are being paid what you are worth.
Indrani E. wrote:
I for one truly, truly believe in having a deep, deep intention and realizing or materializing that wish, thought or dream.... I have a notebook on my end table where I make two lists. One is more or less a daily Thank You God or in my case, Thank You Pa list, where I make a list of all the daily blessings that I experience. The other is the Wish list, where I list all my deep, deep wishes. Amazingly, every one of the wishes have come true and keep coming. My conviction is that if you have a deep, I mean deep wish and you are capable of visualizing and believing that it will materialize, it will come true, even if it takes time for it to happen....
Craig S. wrote:
I have just one thing to say:
(Editor's Note: This article is written by Cal Newport, the same author I linked to in the original newsletter who advocated choosing a target lifestyle, identifying finding a job which supports that lifestyle, then cultivating a sought-after skill for that job.)
I've been slightly irritated by all this "passion" stuff over the years. Maybe I'll just never be "fulfilled." Or maybe... to quote that sage Buckaroo Banzai - "wherever you go - there you are."
(Editor's Note: Love that movie!)
Teresa M. wrote:
I was reading your last 2 newsletters and I know you've been talking about following your passion for a long time. What is not clear to me is what the ultimate goal about following your passion is? Is it being happy, rich, what is it that makes you think so much about following your passion? You probably told me and I forgot.
I'm guessing that you're just trying to be happy ultimately. That's what we all want to be, don't we?
This made me think about ACT, Act and commitment therapy. ACT is aimed at dealing with unhappiness. Why am I saying this if you don't need therapy? Well, I think we all do need therapy some time in our life and really ACT is something we can all practice every day to improve our lives. One thing I learnt from ACT was that there's a lot of struggle involved in pursuing happiness, or avoiding unhappiness, and that removing the struggle is part of the solution. Another keyword is acceptance. Acceptance isn't giving up but just accept that life is what it is and find the beauty in it or come to peace with it.
Also ACT teaches you to find your values and then live according to your values. So if you value being a good parent then you'll do what you need to do to spend time with your kids, educate them, and so on. The trick is to find out what your values are. Not your goals but your values.
There're a couple of easy to read books The happiness trap by Russ Harris, an Australian, and Get out of your mind and into your life by Steven Hayes, an American. Both worth reading as they will teach you a lot about yourself.
I just thought I'd contribute another perspective about the idea of following your passion.
Also I wanted to add that I've always found there's a lot of myth in the following your passion thing. For some reason we love fairy tale stories: the Steve Jobs story, the Bill Gates story, and so on. But being one of those people is just as difficult as winning the lottery. I truly think they just hit the jackpot themselves. I think that their life stories are explained by the chaos theory in some way. It doesn't mean you need to stop doing what you believe in, please do, you'll be happier if you do. But if you don't get to be a lottery winner don't think you are a failure. Failure is overrated. LOL. And apparently so is success. Look at Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, and a very long etc.
You might be wondering what I make of all of this. Even if you don't, I'll tell you anyway:
- I don't know whether God or the Universal Flow exists and I don't really see that it matters. From the way that I hear that the Universal Flow works, if you play by the rules, you get rewarded, so whether I believe in it or not is a moot point. (Correct me if I'm wrong about this.)
- If you have a passion about something, there's nothing wrong in following it. Whether it blossoms into a fun hobby, a full-blown career or fizzles out, at least you'll have had fun doing it if you detach yourself from the outcome. Most prominent life coaches, mentors and gurus who believe in the Universal Flow concur that detaching yourself from the outcome of your actions is of paramount importance. You can control your actions, but the Universe decides the outcome.
- In doing all of this, it's important to avoid overextending yourself and burning out, especially if you have a job or situation which consumes a lot of your time and which you find unfulfilling. Wikipedia has a good article on burnout. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't mastered these principles yet.
- Be open to the fact that Life is filled with constant traps and landmines are far as your decisions are concerned. One bad decision can waste weeks, months and years of your life, and the number of Life Units we possess is more limited than most of us realize. The notion of Steve Job's saying no to 1000 things resonates with me not only as far as career decisions, but also life choices are concerned.
- Be open to the fact that your interpretation of things might be dead wrong. People, especially religious and deeply spiritual people, tend to ascribe a meaning and reason to events which might not exist, especially since Nancy said "I see this principle as applying on a continuum and extending well beyond our human understanding." The Universe, the World, and its interdependencies are so complex and unfathomable that even if there were an explanation, I'm pretty sure it's beyond my mortal grasp of it. (One of my favorite books is Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan, which explains that the entire purpose of human civilization was to produce a replacement part for a space robot stranded on Titan.)
- Finally, I strongly agree with Teresa that the stories about successful people we see in the media can be a double-edged sword. They can inspire us or make us miserable and crazy because they hyperfocus and amplify the successes of one person, ignoring all the countless failures of others less fortunate. This is where training oneself to detach from the outcome can spare us the potential insanity.
That's my $0.02 worth.
Next Week: Learning a Foreign Language
One of the example To-Dos I use frequently is that of learning a foreign language. I've mastered many languages in my lifetime: I speak English (my native tongue), French and Dutch fluently and can get by well enough in Spanish and German to understand most of what I hear and express most anything I want to say. I didn't start speaking anything other than English before I was 18, so I reject the notion that you need to start as a child. (Both French and Dutch people ask if I'm of French and Dutch origin; I'm not saying this to brag, but to establish myself as an authority on this subject. (I actually published last week's newsletter while I was in Ecuador, where I got to speak a lot of Spanish.))
Next week, I'll share my thoughts as to how I succeeded (and am continuing to succeed, thanks to my new buddy Chip) in this endeavor. Since I rather enjoyed printing other people's responses here, feel free to share your experiences with me concerning this for inclusion here.
Chip's Tips: To-Dos Revisited
Someone sent in an enhancement request saying that it would be nice if one could skip or defer a To-Do. Since this functionality is already there, I thought it would be worth rehashing it from our first newsletter.
When you sign up for a free account at www.empathynow.com, you'll get a unique email address that you can use to send and receive email messages to Chip. You then go to your Dashboard, navigate to your To-Dos, then tell Chip about the life goals you want to accomplish, as well as how Chip can help you carve out the small chunks of time you need to realize these goals. Let's look at an example: suppose that on weekdays, sometime between 7 and 10pm in the evening, you want to spend fifteen minutes learning Spanish. You tell Chip this in the To-Dos section, then Chip picks a random time within this period and surprises you by asking if you have 15 minutes to devote to Spanish. You can either accept or decline. To decline, tell Chip something like "skip today" or "wait 40 minutes". (He thinks he's alive, so you have some flexibility as to how you talk to him.) To tell Chip you're starting your task, say "start" and he'll give you words of encouragement. To tell Chip you're done, say "done" and he'll give you words of praise. For people like me, this is so much more motivational, personable and meaningful than a sterile, passive To-Do app where I have to click on boring checkboxes and buttons.
Chip works via email, but most cellphones do email too, so you can carry Chip around in your pocket. To find out what your phone's email address is, send a text message to an email address of yours, then check that email and use the sender email address that you see. For an iPhone, for example, your email address is something like firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you didn't know that trick, you're welcome :) .)
-  Wikipedia: Burnout
-  Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success
-  Wikipedia: The Sirens of Titan