Two friends celebrated their engagement tonight. The celebrations were a reminder that it’s worthwhile indulging in the happiness of others, on occasion.

Happiness which breeds happiness is a blessing worthy of nourishment and encouragement.

Love develops our capacity for kindness; if we all defaulted to love for one another, the world might prove a less painful place to be.

Are you an aggressive competitor, or do you lash because it makes you feel in control?

Are you ruthless and viscous, or strong and merciful?

Will you fight for others, or for the advancement of your own interests?

Do you want to win, or to see your opponents lose?

Savage ferocity is a choice; often, the wrong one.

It’s easy, in times of great distraction, to lose sight of the things most important to our own personal senses of worth and value; but there are fewer practices more essential than those which make us who we are.

We are what we do. We should do what we want to be.

Until you’ve mastered your craft, you will be prone to regular and potentially costly mistakes.

It is in your opponent’s best interest to force you to make these mistakes as often as possible. They do this by applying pressure.

Pressure comes in many forms. An opponent might pressure you by manipulating your perception of the time you have (or don’t have); by raising the intensity of their own play, demanding your reaction; by raising the stakes of the play, putting more on the line; or by simply apply force through leverage they have over you.

Adapting quickly to pressure is a hallmark of a great competitor; but no-one develops an aptitude for negotiating pressure without being forced into mistakes countless times over.

It’s how those mistakes are processed which separate the good from the great.

Truly great players relish opportunities to grow, seizing them with all the tenacity they can muster.

The pressure, intent and passion for honing and creating pulsates through the veins of every creative mind. Jane Hirshfield painted a picture of what practice look and feels like when she said:

“Violinists practicing scales and dancers repeating the same movements over decades are not simply warming up or mechanically training their muscles. They are learning how to attend unswervingly, moment by moment, to themselves and their art; learning to come into steady presence, free from the distractions of interest or boredom.”

– Jane Hirshfield

The artists life is that of unswerving attendance. Only through genuine prescence can one articluate what it is to be alive. Repetition is not the practice, it is a symptom of dedication and focus; of the resistance of interest or boredom.

It never is. You always have until the last whistle, or the final point.

Even when that final moment doesn’t go your way, even when you lose in the most embarrassing fashion, there is always the next game (for as long as you continue to play).

The game only stops when you do. Stop after a loss, and you lose; persist, and you might just be that little sharper next game.

There’s a game to be played in every lousy job you’ve ever had to do. How quick can you do it? How many can you get done? What’s the most efficient possible iteration of the task?

Games are fun when their challenge is within reach, but isn’t easy. Pulling weeds sucks, but pulling two bags of weeds in under ten minutes could be fun.

What are the three things you’ve put off for too long?

How can you turn them into games?

There are an unfortunane number of people prone to thinking that they are in on something that everyone else is blind to. You’ve met these people; they’re usually quick to tell you what they know and, more importantly, what you don’t. They will immediately trust the word of anyone aligned with their beliefs, but refute every qualification held by anyone with a differing view. The problem with people who are suceptible to this is that, aided by a little fear, they can be convinced of nearly anything—and some falsehoods, once believed too deeply, can be perpetual.

A vulnerable person desperate for status and meaning will clutch onto the closest belief which makes them feel intelligent and in control. For some, that results in turning to faith. Religion offers the vulnerable a socially acceptable way to become ‘enlighened’: believe, and you get to join the we know something you don’t club. In this way, religion is a kind of conspiracy; it binds tightly those who believe and arms them with infallible premises to dispute with those who don’t. Religions, like all organised conspiracies, generate a cognitive bias which cannot be challenged by the logical standards of truth.

“Science adjusts it views based on what’s observed. Belief is the denial of observation, so that faith can be preserved.”

Tim Minchin

Conspiracy is attractive to vulnerable people because it arms them with an illusionary safety net: they are the ones who see and understand, and those who don’t are wrong by default. They never have to risk the embarrasment of being found out or losing an argument; your disbelief of their premise makes you wrong by default. The visciousness of this thinking is that it self perpetuates; feeling like you’re ‘right’ all the time feels good. So good, that just talking about the conspiracy can become its own form of self-gratification.

The sad result is that these people become insufferable to those who don’t share their delusions. The deeper one falls into conspiratorial thinking (which was meant to increase their status and likability by making them feel wise and in control), the further they isolate themselves from anyone outside of their conspiratorial bubble. For some, this works just fine. There are plenty of people who live entire, happy lives within two degrees of separation from someone who attends their church or mosque. But, in times of doubt, it may prove more difficult for those tricked into believing that malevolant reptillian humanoids walk among us to find meaningful engagement and community.

To return to reality, a conspiratorial thinker would have to accept the observations of the experts they have learned to distrust and denounce. If they wished to reclaim their place in the logical world, they would first have to admit to themselves that the ‘special knowledge’ at the root of their illusion of superiority was a lie; that they have been tricked, deceived and likely exploited by people and sources they have grown to love and trust; that the world might not be out to get them in the ways they feel it is; and that much of the fear they have been publicly projecting might actually reside within.

The problem with illusionary knowledge is that it leads to illusionary superiority. The problem with illusionary superiority is that it isolates you from those not under the spell of your brand of conspiracy; and the problem with that isolation is that, in order to give it up, you have to revoke the comfortable, infallible power you’ve grown dependant on weilding.

Tragically, this is often too painful. Its easier to believe that you’re a misunderstood genius than a delusional fool. Instead, they stay stuck in their unpopable bubbles of delusion, frustrated at the world for not understanding.

Never waste your time arguing with someone who has learned to believe in the things which make them feel good, instead of the things which they can prove. Facts won’t persuade someone to give up superiority which is grounded in illusion. Their knowledge and, in fact, their entire conception truth is not governed by logic or reason—their knowledge is governed by their insecurities.

Intelligent people love being wrong; every time it happens, they get wiser. It’s the foolish who can’t bear it; their fragile egos deny their ability to grow.

Anywhere there’s life, there’s dust. It swirls and settles by the same breeze we soak into our lungs.

Life is dirty because it has to be; nothing survives a vaccum.

A conspiracy, by nature, cannot be proved – as soon as it is, it ceases being a conspiracy. Facts, on the other hand, can be proved.

Science, by nature, iterates itself based on what is observed. Conspiracy seeks to provides the comfort of explanation without the heavy weight of the truth.

The truth can be painful, but it is always falsifiable; consiracy is comfortable, but it never is.