Slow Motion to Fast Forward Ratio

July 20, 2006

I recently saw the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler. Although it wasn’t a great movie, it did get me to think more about what happens when you make your life about goals.

Sandler’s character (Michael Newman) is given a remote control that allows him to control not his television, but his actual life. He can use the remote to fast forward his life past the parts he doesn’t like, rewind his life to re-live (but not change) past events, and he can run his life in slow motion.

It turns out that Newman’s favorite is the fast forward button. As I watch, he fast forwards past his morning commute and skips past arguments with his wife to the point in time where they make up. He fast forwards past any cold or illness straight to recovery, and skips through the tedious parts at work to get directly to his next promotion. I’m watching this thinking, “Cool. I could really use one of these gizmos.”

But there’s a catch.

When Newman arrives at the time of his promotion, he discovers he’s still not happy. So he fast forwards again. Next thing you know, his life is whizzing by him. Of course, there is the ONE scene in the movie where he uses the slow motion button – when driving past an attractive, scantily dressed woman, who is …well, ah, jogging.

So I am watching this, and I start to wonder how I would use that remote control.

Goal-Free Living is about being present. Savoring the moment. Having the life you want now. If you had a remote control like in the movie Click, how often would you hit the fast forward button? Run your life in slow motion? Or hit rewind, and relive your past?

According to my goalaholic survey of over 1,000 individuals, 61% of the population finds themselves saying, “I will be happy when…” Their happiness awaits them in the future. I wonder how many of these people, if given such a remote control, would use the fast forward button to get to that point when they think they will be happier.

How satisfied are you with your life? One measure of success might be your “slow motion to fast forward ratio.” How much of your day would you run in slow motion? 5 minutes? 1 hour? 3 hours? 24 hours? Never? How much of your day would want to fast forward past? 2 hours? 8 hours (your workday)? 24 hours (skip the day altogether)? The higher the ratio between slo mo and fast forward, the higher the satisfaction with your life. So what’s your ratio? What percentage of the time do you savor the moment versus how often do you want to fast forward your life? Increasing your ratio can be as simple as increasing your level of appreciation for your life the way it is now, rather than believing that it can only get better.

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Goal-Free Living Video

July 19, 2006

I recently gave a speech at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, hosted by the Creative Education Foundation. Today’s blog entry is a brief clip from that speech. This is, in my opinion, one of the funniest stories from the book. It is about “Becoming a People Magnet”.

Press the “play” button above. Or, to download the video, right-click here and “Save Target As.” Then play the video from the saved location.

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Creative Military Ideas

July 16, 2006

A while back I read a document which was released by the US military under the Freedom of Information act. Regardless what you may think of the Department of Defense, this confidential document contains some interesting ideas . During a brainstorming session back in 1994, the Air Force requested $7.5 million to fund non-lethal chemical weapons research. Some of the most creative ideas were:

  • Using chemicals that could be sprayed on enemy positions to attract stinging and biting bugs, rodents and larger animals.
  • Another idea involved creating severe and lasting halitosis to help sniff out fighters trying to blend in with civilians.
  • The most creative idea, and one immediately rejected, was the creation of a strong aphrodisiac – especially one that would cause homosexual behavior. The idea was to affect human behavior in a way that would adversely impact discipline and morale within the enemy units.

Creative ideas that aren’t implemented do not add value. My hunch is, these added little value in the long run. Do you have any other examples of wildly creative ideas?

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Falling on Purpose

July 8, 2006

Last week at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, I met Anthony Hyatt, a violinist and creativity facilitator. He is also an instructor at the Arts for the Aging, Inc. (AFTA) organization where he teaches senior citizens to dance and move. He shared with me an interesting story which helps to illustrate one of the more powerful secrets of Goal-Free Living, “remain detached”… by not trying.

Anthony explained that a major concern for the elderly is falling down, a concern so significant that it can be a life or death issue. According to Anthony, falling down is the leading cause of death in older people. If they should fall and break a bone, they will be hospitalized. There, they often contract a secondary infection or incur other more serious complications. The elderly know this risk and therefore are afraid of falling.

What do they do to address their fear? Anthony shared that they try especially hard not to fall. Ironically, trying not to fall makes them more likely to fall.

Then, by accident, he discovered something very powerful. When he gets people to fall on purpose and roll on the floor, they become more comfortable with the idea of falling. They realize that they could indeed fall without any serious repercussions. When they lost this fear, they stopped trying not to fall. The result? They stopped falling! As counter-intuitive as it sounds, he says it works.

Homer Simpson, that great cartoon character, once said, “The first step to failure is trying.” Although he is known to be a buffoon, maybe this once he was correct. When we try particularly hard to accomplish OR prevent something (like not falling), quite often we create what we don’t want.

P.S. My apologies for all of the double negatives. Although I tried hard not to have any, I couldn’t not use them :-)

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The Relativity of Time

July 5, 2006

Albert Einstein once said, “When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours.” This is relativity. What if you could change your perception of time?

Here’s an interesting experiment to try when the opportunity arises.

You and a passenger are in a car driving to a meeting or event. Maybe you are running a bit late. As you zip down the highway at 60 miles an hour, you suddenly hit a major traffic jam. When this happens, do the following: check the time on your clock and reset your trip odometer. Then continue through the traffic. When you come out the other side and are back up to highway speeds, check the trip odometer and the clock.

Then calculate the amount time lost in the traffic. To do this, take the number of minutes elapsed and subtract the number of miles traveled. So if 10 minutes elapsed and you drove 3 miles, you will have lost 7 minutes (approximately).

Then ask your passenger, “How much time do you think we lost in that traffic jam?”

I have done this many times and have found that people often guess as much as 3 times the actual time. If 7 minutes were lost, the passenger may guess 20 minutes. Try it.

Recently I flew out of the Orlando, Florida airport. The line through security seemed to go on forever. It went all the way down one corridor, wrapped around another, and then snaked back again. It was long! People were moaning and groaning. People were getting stressed and aggravated, even though they were assured they would make their flight.

Instead of focusing on the length of the line, I chose to turn the event into a game. I kept track of how long it took to get all the way through security. I also listened to the various conversations complaining about the lines.

How long did it take for this line to go all the way through security? Only 15 minutes! I’ve waited longer for a burger in a fast food restaurant. I find it interesting that many of the people who complained about the 15 minute wait at the airport, would have been thrilled to find a 15 minute wait at Disney World’s Space Mountain.

If you have an expectation (goal?) to travel through a line quickly, you tend to focus on the negatives. In doing this, time drags on and the experience is not pleasant. However, if you treat the experience as a game, time passes quickly and you are less stressed. Even better, if you take the time to speak with others who are also waiting, you may make some new contacts. And if the need arises and you require help from a customer service agent, you are more likely to get assistance if you are pleasant.

Time is relative. Rather than worrying about the future and being miserable, be present to the moment and enjoy it.

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Sobering Statistics About The Book Industry

July 3, 2006

I recently attended the Book Expo of America (BEA) — the annual convention of the book industry. Thousands of new books are on display by hundreds of publishers. As an author, it is daunting to see how many new titles are released each year. In fact, I was given a few statistics that you may find interesting (and shocking).

  • Each year, there are 172,000 new books published in the United States.
  • Of the 172,000, only 1,000 books sell more than 50,000 copies in retail channels
  • Less than 25,000 sell more than 5,000 copies
  • 93% of books published (160,000) sell less than 1,000 copies
  • According to one source, there are also over 200,000 books published in the United Kingdom each year. That’s nearly 400,000 books published each year in just the US and the UK.
  • Sobering statistics for anyone who is (or wants to be) an author.

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