…for the better

My dear Ruthi,

Thank you for that Mark Manson rabbit hole I found myself in today! So good! I think what we’re calling joy, he would call happiness. And he’s written extensively on that. His collection of written work is really quite mind-boggling. And I agree, his stuff always makes me laugh and always has something that resonates.

You illuminated for me the fact his articles are recorded! How have I not noticed that before?! And it’s so weird to hear his voice. It will take some getting used to.

It’s such a great coincidence that his newsletter and Liz’s are both celebrating 1-year this week. My Mondays have been better for their “Mindfuck Monday” (formally “Motherfucking Monday”) and “Magical Monday.” And I’ve been with them both since their inaugural issue.

Another coincidence: his feature article this week has the emotion wheel. That wheel keeps popping up this year and GAH! it bugs me. I really should read up on its purpose and use. It’s a great article on shame. And do you ever read his footnotes? They’re awesome! (You’ll find a great one about Brene Brown and Deepak.)

Again, coincidentally, I landed on one of his ‘joy’ articles in which he indirectly criticizes Tim Ferriss for romanticizing attachment-free mobile living (4-Hour Work Week) and states that Ferriss would never tell about the down sides of this post-modern lifestyle.

And I’m not entirely sure why I’m telling you this… my rabbit hole adventure.

Manson’s (soft) accusation of Ferriss surprises me. I don’t know the “4-hour” Ferriss. My exposure is his book Tools of Titans in which he discloses his own personal experience with mental illness, in particular his chapter titled: “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me).

Now, Manson’s article is dated 2012, and Tools of Titans 2017 in which Ferriss indicates he hit a rough patch in 2013 and that chapter took him years to write. So perhaps pre-2013 Ferriss fits Manson’s point.

But I’ve been thinking about Manson and Ferriss this past week, along with David Cain of Raptitude, and Liz Gilbert and Julia Cameron… I’ve been thinking about these voices, and how I value the knowledge and experience they share. They do so with varying degrees of certitude, and I need to remember that what underlies each of them is that they are sharing from their experience with deep trouble. They are sharing how they cope with the darkness. Some with a “this is how it is” voice, and others with a “maybe this could work for you” voice. But they are all wickedly talented and work on this stuff to this day.

And their message? Do the work! Practice.

Like our text exchange today:

I had Tools of Titans out because Ferriss does morning pages, though admittedly hasn’t read Cameron’s book (he’s very selective with his time). Last week, I shared those pages with my Walking In This World group (another book/course of Julia Cameron’s) to offer an adapted explanation of how the pages could work. And then I sent them to Liz because her “Magical Monday” this week featured an article using Ferriss in a critique of Malcolm Gladwell’s claim it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert.

I have three sections of Ferriss’ book in post-its (with just one highlight here for each just for fun):

  • Crazy (Like Me)
    The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right. – Neil Gaiman
  • Morning Pages
    The process matters more than the product. – Ferriss
  • Mind Training 101: Formal Practice: Attending to the Joy of Loving-Kindness
    We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training. – Archilochus

Ha ha!

Oh, man! I’ve only just started and I really must end. Perhaps I should have ended at the beginning!

I haven’t yet told you about Cain’s article “The Emotion We Don’t Get Enough Of” [Awe].

And how it ties to that damn emotions wheel, and Pixar’s Inside/Out, and this Dreamworx Rise of the Guardians clip that I love on Wonder:

Or my realization today that I noticed a trend. It seems that when I get things done (do the work!), I feel a sense of joy. It feels:


And joy also feels:

Deeply stirring

But when I consider these lists, I realize that joy is also found in many of the opposites of these words.

Which led me to think, I might define joy as:
any change for the better.

When busy becomes slow.
When slow becomes busy.
When alone becomes with company.
When with company becomes alone.
When long becomes short.
When short becomes long.
When white becomes grey becomes green,
becomes gold…

Unfinished and with love,



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