Posts in Offbeat Philosophy
How To Discover Your Personal Philosophy in Three Steps

It’s become a bit of a running joke in a group of my friends: hang out with me long enough, especially if you add a few beers into the mix, and I quickly become philosophical. I can’t help it, really. I’ve always been bored to tears by small talk and am often guilty of jumping straight into the deep end of a conversation without letting it properly warm up. While I realize not everyone is like that, I’m occasionally surprised at how many people seem to live their life without any philosophical context. By that I mean a lot of folks seem to be going about their daily motions without thinking too deeply or asking questions about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Will this decision advance me toward my personal goals? Does that action truly align with my values? Will that next tequila shot make me puke in my Uber? (That answer is usually "yes.")

It’s not that we should be overthinking every little detail of our lives or constantly second guessing ourselves. And it's not that we should be living within a strict set of rules. Rules are arbitrary and restrictive and make you feel bad when you break them. There are no rules in life, and it’s exactly this fact that makes having your own personal philosophy so important; since there are no rules, you can do anything you want at any time (yes, there are laws, but laws don't restrict free will, they simply inspire you to choose wisely). That freedom may sound liberating, but it won’t get you anywhere on its own, and what is life if not a fine chance to explore, discover and work out why we're here? If you’ve ever set a goal for yourself or pursued a dream, you know that to accomplish anything you need direction. We can all benefit from having a set of guiding principles which help us make the decisions that will lead us down the path we're aiming for. Nobody can truly control their life, but you can do a damn good job of setting yourself up for success, whatever your definition of "success" is. Every little decision you make can have an effect on that.

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You’re Doing It Wrong: Happiness

Ah, the pursuit if happiness, an American institution so beloved it’s scribbled on a little piece of our country’s history we call the Declaration of Independence. Surely a man from Philadelphia, the very town in which that historic document was signed, would never dare to criticize such a hallowed phrase.

Of course I would, because this is the Internet and I have the power to tell an adoring public my self-important opinions. I’m going to wield that power like crazy right now, because this one’s a doozy: happiness is a lie, and contentment is overrated.

 

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How To Never Be Bored and Always Have Fun

Boredom is a part of life, you might say. You can’t have fun all the time. Sometimes things are slow and there’s nothing you can do about it. Being bored is an unfortunate but inevitable reality.

Except that isn’t exactly true. Boredom left unchecked often means we’re just not trying hard enough. In fact, I’d argue that boredom is not only good, it’s necessary.

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How to Calculate the Exact Worth of Your Time: A Handy Guide

There’s an old adage that time is money, but this is America in the 21st century, so vague-ass statements like that don’t fly anymore. Everything needs to be super-specific now. You can’t just find out how many people are visiting your website, you need to know how long they spent there, what pictures they looked at and what their dog’s name is. No longer can we settle for simply equating time with money, we need to figure out exactly how much money every second of our time is worth so we can bill accordingly. The fact that I’m adding a superfluous sentence to this paragraph has probably slightly enraged someone reading it right now because it just took up a few seconds of their billable time.

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You're Doing It Wrong: Manliness

I remember it like it was yesterday: The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” came on TV, I saw those ladies rocking out and said, matter-of-factly and with all the conviction a 7-year-old can have, “Girls can’t play guitar.” My mom and sister set me straight very quickly, but it’s indicative of something in men that starts in us extremely young and then gets so ingrained that it winds up feeling like an objective truth by the time we’re adults. There are many little slights we men make toward women without thinking twice during our lives, but that’s not what inspired me to write this post. It was actually as I was strolling through the campgrounds of the Coachella music festival, noticing the particularly high population of that certain type of alpha-fratboy that, while luckily posing no real problem in this instance, has an incredible ability to ruin a good thing.

You know what I’m talking about: when an event that's highlighted by camaraderie and celebration turns into an excuse to just party hard, then someone gets a little too drunk, throws a punch, and before you know it cops have flooded the premises and the reveling masses are brought down to an angry, drunken mob level. It’s not the people that ruin these things, mind you, it’s the mentality. The macho-frat-alpha-caveman-douchebag mentality that is far too pervasive amongst the male population (myself included sometimes). And while I recognize that people of all genders, races, shapes, sizes and aromas are perfectly capable of screwing things up for the rest of us, it’s this distinctly macho male tendency that rears its ugly head all-too-often when we use the phrase, “It was all going just fine until…”

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Live Music is my Drug of Choice (The Eternal Pursuit of the Sweet Spot)

Some things are meant to exist in a single moment, then never again. It's easy to forget that in the world of instant gratification, social oversharing and permanent documentation we live in. I'm grateful for the ability to capture memories and chronicle the stories of our lives, and I use it to my advantage daily. But that makes us readily able to forget what doesn't need to be broadcast to a bevy of followers and what should be actually, genuinely over when it's done.

When we recognize those moments, they tend to cause us to pause and soak it all in. That makes us more present and appreciative. They're the moments that make us feel more alive, knowing that we're really, truly experiencing them, often with other people who aregaspin the same room as us. I often have to fight off my own urges in order to experience these moments; I've been jamming with other musicians only to fall into a killer groove, creating a spontaneous burst of euphoria that my less-enlightened instincts want to record and have forever. But reaching for a recording device takes me out of the moment, and once I decided these moments are supposed to exist then and there and should dissolve into the ether after they've passed, they became more meaningful to me. They became a brief high that served as a nice reminder of the impermanence of everything.

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Advice to My 13-Year-Old Self

5 Tips From My 31-Year-Old Self

I once proposed that in addition to Throwback Thursdays and Flashback Fridays, we add Wistful Wednesdays, dedicated to looking back on moments of your life with deep, soul-crushing regret.

I was kidding, of course. I don’t think regret is a very useful tool other than the occasional growth experience, and by that I mean one good, solid moment of regret followed by a hearty helping of lesson-learned and a generous serving of self-forgiveness.

Sometimes, as a direct result of my First World free time, I think about how much cooler, better off, smarter, more confident and interesting I’d be if I were to suddenly transport back to being a teenager with the knowledge and experience I have now. This is usually accompanied by an oddly real anxiety that I might actually magically fly back in time and be forced to relive the most awkward years of my life.

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Art Defined for the Non-Pretentious, Aggressively Realistic, Grounded Human

"Running the ball is a good parallel with art. You put your whole self into it and if you're really good at it, people are moved by it. They admire it and they're awed by it. Who's the best is tough to say. It's like art. It's all a preference. It's what looks good to you."  Barry Sanders

I talk about art a lot in this blog, but it wasn't until fairly recently that I stopped having a genuine aversion to using the word to describe anything other than paintings hung in museums. Every time I heard someone talk about art or being an artist, they just sounded pretentious to me. Stop acting high and mighty, like you're changing the world because being an artist is such an important and interesting thing, I would say to myself regularly in between writing rock songs and blog posts that obviously weren't "high art." The worst was when someone claimed they had created art when it just looked to me like they were being intentionally eccentric or opaque. I just didn't get it, and I distanced myself from the term accordingly.

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A Risky Life

I’ve had many conversations with creative friends regarding the life we have chosen to live, a life that seems unnatural compared to what is widely accepted as “normal” and which provides no shortage of discomfort, uncertainty and risk. The fact is that many people who have the artistic itch willingly and knowingly enter into a life path that causes a great deal of stress. Stress from not knowing when your next paycheck will be. Stress from sickness and injury when you have poor insurance coverage, or none at all. Stress from not feeling capable of leading the life modern society has bred most of us to believe we are supposed to live, or from not even wanting to live that life in the first place and possibly feeling slightly alienated or even ostracized from a social structure that finds that to be odd.

These are not anxieties exclusive to the creative community; they’re shared by many, many people devoted to any number of disciplines around the world. And, as I firmly believe, we are all creative in one way or another. But while I know this applies to many different types, I’m thinking of a very specific kind of person as I write this (because they’re the ones I talk to about these things on a regular basis).

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