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Dr. Joel Wade

DON’T LET YOUR DREAMS BE A CLOTHES TREE

Have you ever tried to start an exercise program on your own? The world is full of home exercise equipment displayed as modern art forms like Duchamp's  famous and ridiculous "sculpture," Fountain - which is just a urinal turned in a different orientation. Today we have masterpieces such as a treadmill transformed into "Clothes Tree," racks of dumbbells as "End Table," and rowing machine as "hurdle." The abundance of such a range of home art displays is not, sad to say, a phenomenon of mass creative genius. It is a function of the difficulty of focusing one's will consistently in multiple directions. It takes willpower to decide to establish a new habit, and without some kind of support for this new habit - in the form of a clearly defined commitment, some kind of accountability, and incorporation into a daily routine - the dynamic potential of a new, positive habit can become stuck in the regret of an unrealized vision. There are also certainly many home gyms that are used consistently and effectively. There are people who do establish new habits of regular exercise that they stick to on their own. What is the difference?

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ENVY AND THE FIXED TRAIT MINDSET

Envy is passive greed. It is also the result of a particular way of thinking of yourself. Greed as it is commonly used refers to an "excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions." Of course there can be a beneficial effect to a desire for more, when it is channeled through the free market system, where in order to get more yourself, you have to create value for others - as Milton Friedman so brilliantly explains here. Envy is an expression of that same "excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions," but with a difference: the envious person does not believe that he has the ability to earn the things that he desires. Which leaves only one alternative: he must covet what others have attained for themselves.  For very good reason does the 10th Commandment condemn it. Greed and envy are the negative qualities that you can fall into when you allow your Rat Brain to guide you - following your impulses and automatic responses without regard to your consciously chosen principles, values, and priorities. The dysfunctional nature of greed and envy have one thing in common: a fixed trait mindset.

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KNOW WHERE YOU STAND AND STAND THERE

I was, of course, hoping to write a celebratory column today. We are in for some trouble over the next four years, and each of us should be aware of the reality facing us, and accepting of the circumstances. By accepting I do not mean that we like it, or that we make believe that it's just fine. I simply mean that the truth is the truth, and we all function better when we accept this fact of life. In every area of life, there are things we have control over or influence on, and many more things that we do not. I have no control over what a debate moderator does, but I can ridicule the obvious bias; I have no control over how other people vote, but I can know my principles, speak my mind, and seek to build bridges of influence rather than repelling people with ad hominem attacks. Today, so that we can remember our principles, and in so doing become stronger, more resilient, and more effective in maintaining our republic over time, I want to identify several of the principles that Obama has wrong, and that we have right.

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RAT BRAIN

No, this isn't a rant about Joe Biden's intellect. In fact, if not for the nerve-wracking elections coming up next week, I wouldn't be making a political allusion at all. But I do want you to notice, right now, how you feel when you think about the political situation. If you're feeling anxious, and anticipating a great relief if things go our way, that is of course reasonable and logical, given the stakes. But the feeling sense - the sensation in your body of stress and anxiety when you feel the urge to check the polls, or linger too long surfing the web for hopeful news stories; coupled with the anticipation of relief or reward when you find some good news, and a great compulsion to go toward that reward - is your rat brain at work. Here's how you can be in control of your rat brain, rather than it being in control of you.

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TRAINING FOR WHAT YOU WANT

Last week I asked you to define three things: Something you want to stop doing; something you want to start doing - or do more of; and a longer term goal that you want to reach. Today I want to give you the beginning of a training regimen that will strengthen your ability to achieve those three things (also largely courtesy of Kelly McGonigal from her book, The Willpower Instinct). Whenever you strengthen your capacity for willpower in a specific way, you strengthen your capacity for willpower in general. Since there are three different applications of willpower, reflected in three different parts of your brain, let's practice strengthening each of these.

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WHAT DO YOU WANT?

(Note: next week's Teleclass will be closed on Sunday this weekend, sign up now to hold your spot) Sometimes we can have a sense that things aren't working well, or we'd like something to be different in our lives, and we can try to take steps to change.  But without an idea of what isn't working well, what we'd like to have different, or what we would like to change, we can end up wandering aimlessly through life. That's what I'd like to help you to avoid today. There are three questions that I'd like you to consider :

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LOVE AND VISIBLITY

[Note: My morning teleclass is now closed, the evening one is still available; see below.] Years ago, somebody asked Nathaniel Branden how you know when you love somebody. His answer was something to the effect that, "When they enter a room, for you, the room gets a little brighter, like the lights had been turned up a notch."  What is it that makes love matter; that brings that glow, that brightness from another fellow human being? Love is too rich and complex to boil down to some single facet or data point - and I wouldn't want to do it if I could; but one of the elements that goes into feeling love for somebody, is the experience of being seen. It's not easy to achieve, but it's the key to being loved.  Here's how to do it.

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YOUR TIME AND THE CHINESE FINGER PUZZLE

It is a common experience these days to feel that time is short. We are busy, we have important things to do, and not enough hours in the day in which to do them. That we in America now spend the first five or so months of the year to pay for our taxes doesn't help. But living like this becomes something of a Chinese finger puzzle - those gizmos you used to find at fairs where you put your fingers into the ends and then try and pull them out - the contraption tightens as you pull. Our experience of time is somewhat the same. By completely filling our days, our experience can be that we become more anxious, more stressed, and more desperate for time. Here's how to extract your time from the finger puzzle.

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