Tag Archives: Ideas

Beware of Dangerous Ideas – Or Why You Shouldn’t Drop a Grilled Cheese

Last weekend I went to this really interesting seminar. It was vaguely marketed as a personal development seminar, and a friend of mine who went a few years ago had been raving about it for so long that I finally gave in and signed up. I don’t usually sign up for things like this only by a friend’s recommendation, I usually like to do research from several different sources to find out about what I think I might get involved in. Usually seminars like this turn out to be pretty good. I’ve had other friends try and recruit me to sign up for their seminars, or seminars that they have attended and feel some kind of a strange desire to tell people about. Kind of like the idea behind the seminar gets into their head somehow and they feel a need to spread it, like a virus or something.

Like this book I was reading recently about these things called “memes.” Memes are something that was invented by Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist. Actually he didn’t invent them, he coined the term, or thought up the idea, or made it up while he was sitting in his Jacuzzi. The concept behind the idea is that there are these things that are “units of cultural information” that get passed on from person to person. Like the specific directions of how to fold an origami, or how to make a sloe gin fizz. As these units spread from person to person, they become more popular, and pretty soon everybody is folding Japanese paper and drinking English gin. Some of these “units of information” are really popular, and others are not so popular. For example, I think everybody knows about or knows somebody who knows something about the idea of breaking a mirror equals bad luck. Some place in history, you could break a mirror and it wasn’t considered unlucky. Maybe dangerous, if there were a bunch of people walking around barefoot, but not unlucky. Then one day, somebody came up with the idea of breaking a mirror is unlucky. Maybe somebody broke a mirror right before they lost a big bet on a horserace, or somebody was shaving, and slipped and banged their forehead into the mirror just as the giant earthquake hit that reversed the course of the Mississippi River. Whatever it was, somebody (perhaps the mirror breaker himself) assumed the mirror caused the bad luck, he went and told all his friends, and the meme was born.

Some memes of course, never make it past puberty. Like maybe somebody was eating a grilled cheese, and he dropped it on the floor, and then it started to hail unexpectedly. So he went and told all his friends that if you dropped your grilled cheese it will start to hail, and all his friends laughed and said he was crazy, and that particular meme died then and there. Or maybe they all believed him, and then rushed home and dropped grilled cheeses on purpose only to find that it didn’t hail. Or maybe something completely different.

So my friend went to this really crazy seminar, and he seemed to be trying really hard to convince me to go. Like the particular meme of that seminar had a really strong reproductive urge built into it. My friend was a little bit overzealous, as I kept asking him for specific reasons why the seminar was so great, and he just giving me vague reasons. He didn’t become suddenly rich, or lose a bunch of weight, or learn any Jedi magic skills or anything. Maybe they brainwashed him or something. But he did everything else normally, but whenever the topic of that particular seminar came up, he just got this crazy glazed look on his eyes, like those pod people from that old black and white movie, and started telling me I should join. He even said that when you join, you get an advisor, and you are supposed to tell people about the wonderful truth. What really turned me off was when he said that the more seminars you go to, the more you want to go to and recruit more people. I didn’t really hang out with him very much after that, and for a while I kept checking for large pods under my bed at night.

But the recent seminar was different. My friend that convinced me to go didn’t seem to have anything particular invested in me going. She kept saying it was a good seminar, and gave me a bunch of websites for me to check out so I could make my own decision. She was confident that if I did my own research, I would come to the same conclusion that she did. Of course when I Googled the name of the seminar, I found a few sites dedicated to saying it was scam and all that, but there were a lot more of other websites where people were saying that they had achieved good results.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy learning new things and finding ways to make life easier and more rewarding. And it’s really good when you find something like this that can do that. You want to share it with your friends not because you feel some kind of a brainwashed obligation, but because you can really see the value and think your friends might as well. And the best part is that you can trust your friends to make up their own minds, knowing that the best way to maintain a friendship is to share mutual trust and respect.

Creative Ways to Solve Problems

My neighborhood had a sort of a festival this weekend. Something to do with the goddess of spring coming, or something. It is kind of like a carnival in some respects. They have various festivals around, and their a group of food vendors, around twenty or thirty that travel around and land in whatever city happens to be having the festival.  I went with a couple friends. One of my friends’ cousin was working at one of the booths, so we were hanging out talking for a while about this and that. He telling us about the different cities they go to, and how they see the some of the same people in each city. And one of my friends asked him if he ever gets tired of cooking and eating the particular food that they prepare. He said it’s just like any other job, you get used to it. But then he said they are having a problem with this particular city. Some kinds of termites or something. Since they started up, they started seeing little termite like bugs. And that spells bad news for a food stall carnival traveler, because most of stuff is made of wood. He seemed pretty worried, because a business like that, you are pretty close to breaking even most of the time, and you can’t really handle unforeseen problems that crop up from time to time.

Like when my friend found a bunch of plumbing problems under his house. He had a huge tree in the backyard, and the branches were strangling the pipes under the house and messing up the flow. And he got several estimates, and it was going to cost around five thousand dollars. Because he and his wife had spent most of their money buying this house, they didn’t have that kind of cash laying around to fix the problem. Even though it really wasn’t there problem. Or at least it wasn’t there problem before, and when they moved into the house, they just sort of accepted the fact that this problem was there, and decided they would have to figure out a way to deal with it. Problems can be interesting in this regard.

Sometimes when you have a problem, and you try the usual methods, and they don’t work, sometimes you need to think of something else. You need to get creative and think of new ways to get around problems. Because as long as you live and move through life, you are going to encounter problems. People that become really successful in life, (regardless of how you define success,) aren’t the ones that have to deal with the least amount of problems. They are the ones that are able to come up with different solutions for whatever problem they come up against. And really successful people have discovered that problems are really opportunities in disguise. Many people believe the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is how they perceive problems. Successful people see them as ways to learn and improve their skills. Regardless of how big and unsolvable the problem seems, you can always think of new ideas, even come up with ways to use it to your advantage.

So my friend’s wife got on the phone. She called and checked if there was a statute of limitations, or whatever you call it, on buying a house. She was hoping to see if they could figure out way to get the previous owner to pay part of the bill. No dice. Then she had an idea. She checked to see when the tree was planted, and it was planted by the city before the houses were actually built. So she called the city, and sure enough they admitted they were responsible. And the city paid the entire bill. And all it took was a few phone calls.

And the termites turned out to not even be termites. They were a weird strain of ants, really small ants, that  look like termites. And since it was a ‘spring is coming’ festival, they took it as a good sign. Kind of like when the groundhog sees his shadow, or doesn’t see his shadow, or however that rule goes. And because my friends’ booth had the highest concentration of these pretend-termite-ants, it was the most popular for the weekend, and made the most money. He still didn’t give us any free food, though.


Cultivating Ideas can Lead to Greatness

Everywhere you look today you can’t help but find bad news. You’d have to dig pretty deep in order to find something uplifting and inspiring. I don’t know if it’s because there really is a lot of bad things happening, or if reporting bad news is the easiest way to grab your attention in an effort to get you to buy whatever it is that the particular advertisers are trying to get you to buy. They try to get your attention by telling you how bad the economy is so you’ll buy what the advertisers are trying to sell. Somebody is making money. When you think about it, the fact that people go to great lengths to fight for your attention is a supreme compliment. Because your attention is very important resource to advertisers and businesses.

According to most evolutionary biologists, the whole idea of consciousness itself is based on a drive to get resources. Because humans are the most flexible of animals, able to live and flourish under almost any situation and environment, we developed our consciousness many hundreds of thousands if not millions of years ago to  help us to search for resources to use. In the beginning, these resources were simple things, like food and water, and fuel for fire. Later they turned into shelter and animal skins for clothing to keep us warm. And later, we developed complex social skills to be able to exist coherently in larger and larger groups. Finally, a few thousand years after discovering agriculture, humankind began to discover our most precious resource.

Your thoughts. Because, as Napoleon Hill so eloquently drove home in his international best seller, “Think and Grow Rich,” thoughts are things. People had to develop long reaching plans to be able to cultivate large crops and ideas that could feed the multitudes. You had to use your brain for things other than chasing and killing animals for food. You had to build cities, castles, cathedrals. Man learned to create art, and music, and poetry. And the more man created beautiful things with your wonderful human brain, the more society flourished. The thoughts that you think on a daily basis create your reality. When you notice and control your thoughts, you will be able to notice and control your reality. That genius potential of the past that allowed men and women to create magnificent works of art and science and literature, resides in your head. Right here, right now.

And I don’t know if evolutionary biologists ever intend to take their theories to the metaphysical like this, but there it is. Either by design or by creation or by random chance, here you are. With your thoughts that you can learn to control, or let someone else control, whereby you actually give up control. The choice was, is, and always be yours on where to put your attention. On this thought I suggest you begin to notice who is trying to sway your mind. Who is trying to lead your thoughts.

Because in these times of economic crisis, no matter your place in life or your financial level of success or failure, you will never ever lose your most precious resource. Your mind, your thoughts, your imagination, your wonderful creativity with which you can create whatever reality you desire. Now.


Grow and Improve with New Ideas About Yourself

I was sitting in a meeting the other day, and there was one guy that was droning on and on about something. I don’t remember exactly what it was, perhaps a commentary on the life of fruit flies or something else as equally boring.  I started drifting, like you do when you are in middle of something that you can’t exactly escape from, but it just wouldn’t be right to lay your head down and take a nap.

I was reminded of a place I used to work a long time ago, where we were having some product development problems. It was one particular product that the company had been working on for quite some time, and it just wasn’t quite working out. It as a kind of medical device that wasn’t supposed to be a great application that doctors could use during surgery. It was designed, at least in theory, to help the doctors perform the surgery quicker with more efficiency, and to make it easier for the patient to recover after the surgery. Because the patient would recover quicker, it would result in a reduced stay in the hospital, which would mean less money spent by the patients insurance company. All in all a win win win situation. A win for the doctor, a win for the patient, and a win for my company that was developing this product.

The problem was the product itself. it was a great idea, on paper. The problem was finding the right materials to put together in the right proportions to make it work in real life just as well as it worked on paper. No matter what we tried, nothing seemed to work. Hence the meeting. We were talking about another thing to try and see if we could make this work.

Like sometimes when you are in a relationship with somebody, and when you start to see this person, you start to have all these good feelings. Like everything is going to work out ok, and all the problems in your life have disappeared. It’s amazing when that happens. Every time you think of this person, you can’t help but to feel those fantastic feelings. But then sometimes, something happens. Those feelings start to fade, and maybe you realize that you were not really in love with the person, but in love with the idea of being in love. And you are faced with the difficulty of breaking it off with that person, and feeling the respect enough for yourself to say that it’s time to move on, and find somebody that is truly compatible.

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. That’s what can happen you don’t realize that it might be time to move on and try something new. It’s like some people have this huge fear of being able to make a decision. Some people just can’t choose to do this, whatever it is. Because when you really understand something, and choose to do this, you can begin to realize that there is a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

Which is why I think we stayed with that particular medical device longer than we should have. Nobody wanted to admit that it really was a great idea, but only on paper. When the manager of the research department finally made the decision to scrap the project. Most of us were relieved that he’d made that decision. Because once we freed up our energies to create new ideas, and make new things, we were able to sell many more products and great ways to keep people healthy.

And personally, I’m always amazed when I come across couples that are no longer couples, but remain great friends. Because they were smart enough to realize that one of the best ways to respect yourself, is to really get to know the person you are with, not for who you wish they were, but for who they are. That is where true respect and appreciation can come from. And they can free up your energies to find people and ideas you can really grow and improve with.