How to stop living for society’s cookies and instead live slowly and deliberately on your terms…
Welcome my son
Welcome to the machine
What did you dream?
It’s alright we told you what to dream…
From Pink Floyd “Welcome to the Machine”
Part of living deliberately means you must begin to think differently than most of society.
This (thinking differently) scares most people. Most people stay within their comfort zones…
A simple example:
- Waking up to an alarm clock (bad for your health),
- Going to a job they hate (bad for your health),
- Eating crappy food at lunch, in a hurry to get back to the job they hate (REALLY bad for your health),
- Driving home in traffic (long commutes, bad for your health),
- Returning home, tired, perhaps stressed out (bad for your … you get the idea),
- Eating crappy food again while watching TV and maybe surfing the Internet (bad for…),
- Going to bed late, to wake up again and do it all over (bad for…).
And this doesn’t factor in those people with families to support, with sons and daughters who are screaming for their Mom’s or Dad’s attention.
It doesn’t factor in the illusion that we “must” have “two income families” and let a daycare raise our children (big mistake) in order to survive.
But in the end, society has a cookie for you, if you’re good little boys and girls.
All of the sacrifices you make if you do even a few of the things in the list above, or similar things … and you get a small to medium paycheck.
Then various ripple effects begin to happen in exchange for the “cookie” of a paycheck in this oversimplified example…
You have bills to pay.
You have food to buy.
You have appointments to keep.
You have a smart phone in your hand.
You have urges for “shopping therapy.”
You have stuff to buy (for various purposes).
And on, and on…
Then, how much money do you have left? There is usually stress in the answer to that question. And even if there isn’t … if you make a “middle class” income or better, then stress follows with the ripple effect of “what to do next?”
All because of the cookie that society gives you … the paycheck.
Naturally, there are also other types of “societal cookies”…
- Mass produced for the masses “disposable consumer stuff.”
- Meaningless reality television programs (no, I’m not suggesting you go “anti-TV”v although some have).
- Freebies, giveaways, and other useless garbage.
- Celebrities who make fools of themselves in the name of meaningless “entertainment.”
- Movie companies that keep re-hashing the “same movie” over and over again, and spinning that in such a way you keep buying the ticket.
- News media that is nothing but junk food for the brain (ESPECIALLY when it tries to “help” you live your life).
- Fast food, sodas, candies, cakes, pies, and other sweets that likely create cancer for you later in life, and contribute to most of the obesity in our society now.
- Your front lawn and your back lawn (if they aren’t useful for producing food).
- And on, and on…
You get these “cookies” as a normal part of being a good member of society. In the interest of keeping this blog post from becoming a book, I’m not going to dive into examples (like with the paycheck), but move on to why you need to stop living for these cookies.
Then, we’ll also cover some specific “how-to.”
Why You Need To Stop Living For “The Cookies”…
There is so much that the gift of life has to offer you already, so I would like you to think about exactly why you need more?
What do reality TV shows, freebie giveaways, “mass-produced for the masses” stuff and the like have in common?
Two things, actually:
1. They are disposable, or at least involve the concept of being disposable. This “throwaway mentality” in our culture only exists because we support it as consumers. It’s disturbing if you think about it. And if you’re living to be a consumer, you’re not living as a human being.
2. They are, when you think about it a bit, all mindless … and in some cases, bad for your health.
So here are several reasons why you have to stop living for these (and other) “cookies” that society offers…
- You’re not living for yourself.
- Usually they end up wasting your time and money.
- They usually produce other “feedback loops,” that is, they require you purchase more “stuff,” or an endless loop of other stuff (which also has their own feedback loops) to use them.
- They cause frustration.
- The company that sold them to you does not care about you or your well-being (at all, ever).
- BIG: Any entity, authority, or structure that operates as “the only way to live” or tells you “this is the right way to live” doesn’t intend on letting you think for yourself.
- It’s time for you to start thinking and living for yourself instead.
- It’s time to quit taking handouts from society, to quit wading through the vomit of society’s cookies, and to liberate yourself (and your mind) from the hideous “collective” that society wants to create (and force you to join).
- In short, you’re not truly free until you can disassociate “pleasure” from society’s cookies. You need to associate “pain” with them instead.
- And on, and on…
As you can see by now, I am suggesting a major shift in the way you view society as a whole.
For some of you, it will pass as “Yep, knew that already…” (although I would challenge, then why are you reading this?).
For still some of you, you’re wondering “Why on Earth would I suggest the major shifts that I will suggest in this post?”
Because of one word … indoctrination.
Yes, you’ve been indoctrinated into a way of living that suits the society, culture, and civilization it is suited for. That is not necessarily the way you “must” live.
In future posts, I will return to your individuality, your privacy (something you’re entitled to, not that you should have to fight for), and the lifestyle you think is best for you.
But for this post, it’s time for a little “how-to” to help you on the path to a life that YOU dictate, not some institution, authority, or society … at a pace that you control…
How You Can Start Living For Yourself Instead, Deliberately…
I am not going to dictate that everything I provide in these “how-to” sections will work for every single person at the same level. So, take what you will out of what I am about to outline here.
Let’s get started…
I would like you to consider 3 starting points that pertain to the theme of this post (society’s cookies):
1. I would like you to think about your job (or whatever it is you do for a living).
Do you work a lot of hours per week, because you think you have to? Who invented the 40 hour week anyway?
Do you really “work” for all 40 hours (or more) every single week?
The answers to those questions should tell you a lot about our culture in the United States. Work for work’s sake, the mistrust of workers, and the “slave-ish” mentality. All of it is bad for your health.
Other cultures are much different (which doesn’t mean they are perfect, either, not the point). So, why do you do what you do?
Is it a job you hate?
Leave (on your terms, not mine). You’re throwing your life away (and it’s a short life). Why would you want to keep throwing your life away? If you’re health suffers, will your work life be leveraged to maintain that bad health? (More doctor’s appointments, eating poorly, etc…)
Think about that. Make changes. Live deliberately, on your terms, and quit letting our overzealous, competition-oriented society TELL you how you must work.
On the flip side, there is the accountability for you, too…
You cannot blame your current circumstances wholly on society. Think critically about yourself, are you doing the best job you possibly can? If you need to “put food on the table” are you working on creating the circumstances that will allow that to happen (e.g. managing your money properly, see #2)?
Go to your library, get a card, and read self-help … help yourself to be the best person you can (and most resources at your library are free, which is good). And above all, do what you want to do for “work.”
The questions and the links will help you to form your own “blueprint” here (not direct how-to).
2. I would like you to think about the stuff you own.
Do you own too much? Like most people, you probably do. But I would like you to start thinking about a concept called “minimalism.” Not the “art minimalism,” but the movement based around serious analysis of what you own.
I will include something I’ve written before on this topic:
I’ve been asked… “Joe, what is minimalism to you?”
Here is the beginning of that answer (it’s a DEEP subject)…
It’s a mindset. You begin to think deeply about your life, the impact your life has on others, and how you can contribute. This, in addition to the traditional “less than 100 things” mindset for extreme minimalists (of which, I am not).
It’s a set of guiding beliefs. Minimalism isn’t “something you do,” it’s a lifestyle choice. Much like diets… it won’t work unless you totally commit your entire life to it.
It provides “relief” when you commit to it. You will, no doubt, feel very differently once you commit to the lifestyle choice it represents. I felt relief, because I no longer had to “buy stuff” just to feel good … instead I just felt good because I didn’t have to maintain and worry about stuff.
It’s more than “stuff.” Reducing the number of things you own is only one very small part of minimalism. Minimalism translates into other parts of your life, how you spend money, determining how much you need, reducing your carbon footprint, creativity, the environment and others.
And on, and on.
As you can see from this short post… minimalism is much more than just “living with less than 100 things,” which quite frankly, is an extreme minimalist mindset. I’m not comfortable with that currently.
What I have done is reduce (drastically) the number of items I own, giving away or selling my excess stuff that I felt I had to “keep” at one point… and no longer feel I need.
- I think differently about my impact on the world.
- I think differently about how I interact with others.
- In short… I think the idea of minimalism made me think differently overall.
Could it do the same for you? Who knows?
But I’ve noticed that there are a few misconceptions about minimalism as a lifestyle choice. Most of these misconceptions seem to come from some “rules” about minimalism.
Let’s just clear the deck here … there are NO rules you have to follow when choosing to live as a minimalist. There isn’t a nice little box labeled “minimalism” where you can open the top and discover everything about the topic.
It means different things to different people … because we are all, well, different right?
For example … personally, I do NOT have less than 100 things … and I haven’t (yet) cut the cable, and I DO own a car.
But I do watch very little TV, I only drive where I have to (I ride a bike or walk elsewhere) … and I’ve cut back boxes and boxes of my “stuff” that I don’t use and have given most of it to Goodwill (I probably have less than about 800 things, but still working on it).
I also buy locally grown food from our farmer’s market, eat healthy, walk 3 miles every day with my wife at exercise pace, drink plenty of water etc…
And, I manage my time very well, answer email once or twice a day (if that), don’t have a “smart phone,” enjoy nature… etc…
These are the easiest examples of how there aren’t “rules” I have to follow to follow this lifestyle choice.
You DON’T have to follow any of them.
If you just go through your closet, and pull out 10 things right after reading this post and send them to the Goodwill, and then don’t replace them … then you’ve made a choice like a “minimalist” would.
If you decide to eliminate soda, ice cream, and pie from your diet… you’re well on your way.
But there are NO set guidelines, this is a lifestyle… NOT a rule book.
Labels like “minimalist” mean nothing… your lifestyle choices mean everything (to you and no one else). If there had to be a “rule” to follow, I’d make it that one.
Start today with this website http://mnmlist.com (Leo Babauta on minimalism) and work from there. If you continue exploring, you’ll run into the resources you need to decide. (A good book, and another good
3. I would like you to think about media, marketing, and other influences.
Consumerism, anxiety, the next war that we’re entering … and OMG Ebola!
Where does all of that originate?
The mass media, marketing, and other influences like propaganda. Let’s face it; we live in a society that imposes itself on you.
Whatever is on the news is a crisis or junk food for the brain … so stop watching it. How? Just stop, now.
If you’re addicted to the news, there is a reason, it’s addicting. Stop watching it, cold turkey. The feelings and anxiety will go away after a short time.
And you really won’t miss as much as you think. Replace watching the news with another activity, like reading one of those books from the library.
Or don’t, as I said before, this isn’t about forcing you to do anything. I’ve linked to a PDF in the word “media” that explains “why” to stop.
Marketing and advertising are also imposing (and frankly, interrupting) your life.
So let’s get some things straight:
- No, you’re not going to look like the person in the magazine ad.
- Nope, you’re probably not going to lose as much weight in as short a period of time as that diet or workout infomercial told you.
- If the drug you just saw an ad for was so good, it wouldn’t need to advertise on TV to get attention.
- You will not earn $50,000 in a week, like that other ad you just watched online.
- No, that thing isn’t free (unless you don’t value your time), and you will get marketed to as a result of filling out your personal information so “they” can send it to you (online or offline).
- That social network you just signed up for, and filled out your profile on? Yeah, they offer that for “free” so you’ll give them your personal data and they can tailor advertising to you. How can
you expect to live privately if you keep doing that?
- Those surveys you fill out online? Yep, for marketing purposes. And yes, some of them DO sell your information to other parties. Junk mail anyone?
- Heard of the term “big data”? It’s used to invade your privacy … period. We’re losing more and more of our privacy to these companies every day.
- And on, and on…
Marketing and advertising will only get more and more invasive as digital technologies continue to improve. The good news is … you can do something about it.
Go to http://prism-break.org, a site created in the face of NSA spying that was discovered by Edward Snowden, and use the tools there. There are a ton of them to choose from, but the site does a good job of explaining them.
The “how-to” here in almost all cases is the same … stop paying attention to it.
Think critically before you fill out surveys, “free offers,” trial offers, and call the 800-number for late-night infomercials. The promises are psychologically designed to seem “easy to do,” or like “relief” for your problems.
Don’t fall for it.
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins is a good place to start, to understand the psychology behind the advertising. There are obviously other books on the topic, but this one is the most clearly written that
I have read.
To finish this section, here are 5 things to do instead of consuming media…
1. Read, and actually finish a book this year (or more). Start with something deep and intellectually stimulating (like this for example).
2. Think. Just sit and think for an hour or two. Do nothing else, no distractions. Let your mind roam, but control the urge to do “media” stuff.
3. Write. Write 1500 words, right now. I don’t care what, just write them. Start a blog, and keep doing it, at least once a month (preferably more).
4. Talk to someone, face to face. Remember that? Talking to someone face to face? Yeah, quite a bit of the “real” world passes you by while your distracted with the social anesthetic of the digital world.
5. Connect with someone deeply, face to face. Don’t stop at talking, make one new friend … this year. You can do it. You’re not too shy, you just might not be used to this “developing relationships” thing.
Now, some starting points…
In this post, the theme was “How to stop living for society’s cookies.”
Some starting points for you to continue thinking about (in addition to the how-to provided in the previous section):
Critical thinking. We don’t do enough of it, so I would like you to take one opportunity over the next couple of weeks to think more critically about something.
This could be encountering a dramatic situation at home or work, and stopping yourself before you have a knee-jerk reaction to it. Instead, slow down, breath, and think about your reaction before issuing it.
Ask the most powerful question … “Why?” We’re conditioned from an early age to “just conform”, “just trust the government”, “just get a secure job”, and “just deal with it.” I used to follow that path. In fact, up until 2001, I was drinking ALL the “Kool-Aid” of the typical conditioned lifestyle. More here.
It’s funny how reflexive we are as humans… Someone offers something to you, for “free,” and you take it because “that’s polite.” I’m asking you to consider saying “no.”
In fact, say “no” a LOT more than you do now, to a LOT more things. It’s not rude, and you’re entitled to do it.
Only say “yes” to the things you truly want to do because you think it’s right for you. Forget the company or person doing the offering … YOU are the one with the power of decision, don’t give up that power.
If you do say “Yes,” anything that happens as a result of saying yes (even if you didn’t originally want to) is your responsibility to handle … period.
Again, these are only starting points on this theme, to get your thoughts moving in the right direction, there is much more on this topic (one blog post won’t cover it).
For reading, I will provide recommendations in related to the material covered.
In this issue, the books recommended will follow the idea of getting you to think outside of the common society and culture in which you, I, and everyone else have been indoctrinated.
As always, every recommendation is something I stand behind, and will always be a book I’ve read.
1. Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson
2. Against Civilization by John Zerzan (a collection of essays written by different people)
3. The True Believer by Eric Hoffer (also his book of essays, Between the Devil and the Dragon)
That should get you started (especially #3).
Look, we’re getting close to the end of 2015, and a lot of shit has happened this year. Some very horrible like the Paris attacks, ISIS, the politicization of climate change etc…
But for you, right now, you have a chance to make things very positive. Quit paying attention to the news, get rid of your stuff, and change your circumstances if you’re not living the life you want.
The accountability rests with you. Make 2016 your year, and forget all of the bad stuff that is happening. You can’t control that anyhow.