Big Nose, Not Funny

Big-Nose

I approached the hostess stand at one of my favorite restaurants Friday night.

“How long is the wait?”

“About 30 minutes.”

I mustered a cool countenance.

“Do you even know who I am?”

“Um…no.”

She wasn’t amused.

I gave her my name and waited. The hostess was doing a nice job of working through her list without having to shout the names over the huddled throng. I wondered how she remembered so many people. Then I snuck a glance at her list and discovered her secret. Next to the names she wrote a brief description of the person.

“Cat lover. Sweet,” she jotted down. Sure enough, a few minutes later I saw the hostess summon the party of an older woman wearing a patient smile and a Siamese cat sweater.

“Beard. Mad.” I scanned the room and saw a man with a full facial hair and a menacing glare. Bingo.

This was fun. There was “Huge. Rude.” And “Tattoo. Funky.” I pegged them both. Then “Hot. Blue eyes.”  That wasn’t me.

“Big nose. Not funny.” I looked left. Then right. No luck. My eyes followed the hostess as she wandered through the crowd. When she returned to the hostess stand our eyes met.

“Oh there you are,” she said.

“Me?” I asked, looking around.

“Your table is ready.”

Big nose? Not funny? She was probably right on both counts but it was a setback of sorts for me. After 50 years, I was just starting to come to terms with my nose.

We do it all the time don’t we? We categorize people based on our limited perspective. It’s just easier that way. We take a fleeting encounter and fill in the blanks. I specialize in this. I’m the Burger King of drive-thru judgments.

It’s just not as much fun when we are on the receiving end.

One of my posts from last year generated a number of interesting appraisements. Many are positive. Some, not as much.

My favorite thus far reads: “I hope you enjoy feeling smug and superior. F*** off.”

Various other people have instructed me to watch my tone, get off my high horse, lose the attitude, pound sand and die. I’ve been described as cocky, a weasel, a sham, a dimwit, a prick, dense, an embarrassment-oh and now “not funny”-all of which are fairly apt on a rotating basis. I just hope they don’t tell the whole story.

Of course, this is the frustrating thing about our story. It is always read by someone else. I can say something to you, but I can’t interpret it for you. As much as I want to come across as “hot, blue eyes,” I can’t stop you from thinking “big nose, not funny.”

Everything I do or say is filtered through your lens. Since I’m not sure we even see the color blue the same way, it’s a wonder humans aren’t lost in a constant state of misunderstanding and hurt feelings.

We even do this with people we know well.

It usually comes down to assigning intent to the words and actions of others. The Facebook pictures of your vacation are rubbing my nose in it. Your sympathy e-mail seemed shallow and uncaring. Your failure to remember my birthday was a personal affront.

This is not to say that your interpretation is wrong. Just futile. What good does it do to ascribe malice or ill will to the actions or words of others?  My mom used to always say “take people at face value.” In other words, quit looking for ulterior motives or hidden meaning. If someone pays you a compliment, don’t search for subtext. If they offer you compassion, don’t waste your energy feeling slighted.

You are the only one who can shape the way you interpret the world. So enough fretting over pithy assessments. You’re wasting your time. But if you can’t help yourself, I know a nice little restaurant where you can hostess.

10 Rules for Young Lawyers

baby lawyer

I was honored to have the Texas Bar Journal publish my “10 Rules for Young Lawyers” in the January, 2015 issue.

A link to the actual article can be found by clicking here.

The text of the article appears below:

I was recently updating my State Bar profile when I noticed that my date of admittance was 1988.  I’m not usually one to lament the passage of time but for one reason this acknowledgement stopped me in my tracks-26 years. The next weekend my son and some of his friends were in town. Two of them are going to law school so they asked me what advice I would give to young lawyers. After thinking about it for a while I decided to jot down a few of my “rules.”

  1. Start at the end.

Your career will be over before you know it. What do you want it to look like in 25 years? 35 years? Do you want to be known as a person of integrity, a person who keeps his/her word? A person who follows through? A person who looks out for his/her client’s best interests? Or do you want to be someone who takes shortcuts? Someone who pulls silly stunts? Someone who puts his/her interests above those of the client?

This also applies to every matter you undertake. Figure out the ultimate goal and write it down.

“Settlement or verdict of X.” “Sole managing conservatorship.” “Probation.”

Make certain you have a clearly defined objective. Then make sure every effort is spent working toward that goal.

  1. Preserve your ice sculpture.

I stole this one from a law school classmate. He says he thinks of every case like a brand new ice sculpture just removed from the freezer. Beautiful. Solid. From that point forward it’s going to melt. Your mission is to make certain you get a resolution before it turns to water. This is important for two distinct reasons.

First, you need to work fast. Don’t delay. Don’t hesitate. Don’t waste time or resources.

Second, understand that your case is never as good as it is going to appear when your client comes to your office and tells you his/her story. On that first day you will take your ice sculpture from your client meeting and be proud to show it off. Then another lawyer will come along with a pick and a blow dryer and start chipping away. And an arm will fall off. Or you’ll lose the head. But it’s still your ice sculpture. Strap that sculpture in the front seat, turn the a/c as low as it will go and get to the wedding reception as quick as possible. No detours.

  1. Wait at least 24 hours before sending a letter which begins: “Dear Judge Dumbass.”

When I was a young lawyer I had a contentious case in front of an overbearing Judge. One morning I appeared at a hearing in front of this Judge. He was rude and, in my opinion, flat out wrong when he ruled against my client. I thought he needed to know. I went to my office and dictated a letter which began: “Dear Judge Dumbass.” I gave the letter to my legal assistant to send.

I slept rather fitfully that night and when I arrived at the office the next morning I told my legal assistant I was starting to regret sending the letter. She reached into her desk drawer and pulled out the letter.

She had the sense to save me from my basest instincts. I have appeared in front of this same Judge many times since that day. Some days he is smart; other says he is pretty dense. Either way, he’ll never know what I really think.

  1. It’s not always chess; usually it’s just checkers.

Let’s face it. There’s only so much strategy one can employ. Thankfully, the Rules of Civil Procedure have removed much of the gamesmanship from litigation. In the end, preparation will trump strategy every time. Read the case law. Examine every document. Prepare for the deposition. Be thorough. Be diligent.

  1. Get in the bunker.

What is just one of many files to you is the most important thing in the world to your client. It’s what keeps them up at night. It occupies their every thought. They don’t want just a lawyer. They don’t even want a hero. They want a teammate.

If you take a case your client wants you to climb in the bunker with them. Some of my most grateful clients are those for whom I failed to get a good result. But we fought their fight together-and that made all the difference.

  1. Don’t let your client’s money get mad or stupid.

Here’s the one truth about litigation that lawyers often forget. It’s only about money. Therefore, it typically comes down to a business decision. As a litigator you should frequently assess the cost of your pursuit with the likelihood of your desired result. Caution your client from pursuing an agenda that is born of vindictiveness, revenge or stupidity.

  1. Don’t take it out on the staff- yours, theirs or the court.

Everybody is doing a job. Just because they are not performing to your expectations doesn’t mean they have it in for you. Everyone carries responsibilities, stresses and baggage you know nothing about. Be kind.

  1. Don’t take in stray cats.

My legal assistant has a file cabinet filled with the detritus of “causes” I have chosen to undertake through the years. She calls it the “Stray Kitten” drawer.

Here’s an example. I once represented a client who was about to have his house foreclosed. Unemployed. Terrible credit. But he had two kids living with him so I felt sorry for him. He was extremely late for his first appointment with me, which is usually a harbinger of bad things. When he arrived he convinced me of his good intentions, his hard luck and his extreme need. So I took him in. We successfully postponed the foreclosure but as we tried to work out a deal with the lender the real story emerged. He had made only two payments the previous 18 months. He had been fired from his job for excessive absenteeism. His kids lived with his wife because he had a serious dependency problem. He was a mess. Unfortunately, he was my mess.

He was one in a long line of stray cats I have tried to help. So I have learned a few things about strays. They will cry for attention, fight like hell when cornered and gladly accept your generosity. But stray cats live outside because they choose to. They don’t want to have rules. Unless you are trained to rescue stray cats, leave them alone.

  1. Don’t take everything so personally.

I handled a case one time that was just awful. My client was, well, difficult. The facts were, ahem, unfavorable. My better judgment told me to stay away but I filed the case anyway. The lawyer for the defendant-a grizzled, crusty veteran of the defense bar-called and told me, in no uncertain terms, that my case was a joke. I got my back up and pursued the case longer than I should have, primarily because I was not going to be told what to do by my opponent. Sometimes you have to take off your rose colored glasses and put on your bile-tinted monocle.

  1. Don’t give up.

I am always mystified by lawyers who will work up a case, hire experts, file motions, get to the courthouse steps……and fold. Litigation is a full contact sport. There will be times you think you cannot lose; times you hope you’ll be able to just keep your license; times you’ll want to beat the table; times you’ll want to crawl under it. All of these will usually occur in the same case. Fight through the urge to give up for the wrong reasons. Play to the whistle. Just hanging in can yield positive results.

So there you go. I’ll end with one of the single greatest rules I ever learned. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I won’t be able to share the back story. It is: Know when to shut up.

I’m sure you have some nuggets of wisdom you’d like to share. Let me hear from you.

Magic 8 Ball

magic 8 ball

As a kid I was completely baffled by the transistor radio. I would turn it over and examine each side, much like a chimpanzee might study a locked suitcase or a dog sniffs around to find the beef jerky hidden in your pocket. I played with the dials, maneuvered the antenna, changed the frequency. Try as I might I never understood how a plastic box could capture sound waves traveling invisibly through the atmosphere and turn them into the sweet stylings of The Jackson 5.

I haven’t progressed much since then. I would make an aboriginal tribe look like a team of Microsoft engineers. I don’t know which knobs go with which burner on my stove. Elevators leave me with my mouth agape. Forget the Philae rocket, I can’t even tell you how my seat heater works.

The pace of advancement is staggering. Just yesterday I was made aware of bacon flavored Ritz crackers. Technology has left me gorging in its wake.

My daughter recently found an iPhone app for Algebra. Take a picture of the problem and the answer will appear. In 1980 I used a first generation app to solve algebra problems. I called my app “Paul Hawkins.”

My dad wasn’t much of a high tech guy. I did hear him speak once of checking his Give-A-Shit-O-Meter when I told him I was going to skip college and join a traveling jazz band. Apparently it was running low that day. He also had a fairly reliable “bullshit detector” he used nearly every Sunday morning during my high school years to ferret out my Saturday night meanderings.

 The only invention for which I can take credit is the “Snack Rack (TM).” In college, I duct taped a lucite envelope holder to the dash of my car to hold my Taco Bell burrito while I drove. The cup holder was for my Busch. Everything within reach, nice and tight. I’m not sure why it never caught on stateside but I hear it’s a popular contrivance in El Salvador.

 In spite of my failure to make any meaningful contributions to advances in technology, I am proud of my role as an early adopter. It began in the 1970s when I noticed an ad for Sea Monkeys on the back cover of Boys Life magazine. The ad claimed these creatures were “so eager to please they can even be trained.” I sent in my $1.25 and the package arrived two weeks later. I was so excited to get started I failed to read the instructions, a character flaw that plagues me to this very day. Instead of prepping the water with a salty brine I dumped the entire packet into a cereal bowl. When nothing appeared for three days I gave up and fed the contents to the Oglesby’s dachshund, Puppet.

I went on a bit of a “technology” jag over the next few months. A magic set, a joy buzzer, fake vomit. I even ordered X-Ray Specs which guaranteed the ability to “see through clothing.” The rims were black, the lenses thin, concentric red circles with bold letters at the top which read: “X-RAY VISION.” Needless to say it was difficult to be discrete but somehow I was still able to follow the school secretary, Mrs. White, around -undetected-for about 15 minutes. Granted it was an alpha test but the early results were not promising.

Then came the mother of all technological wonders- the Magic 8 Ball. It arrived in a plain brown package. For about two weeks following its purchase, the Magic 8 Ball sat on my bedside table where it was summoned on a frequent basis. Every day after school I tore upstairs seeking some semblance of certainty in a pre-pubescent world. It usually went like this.

 “Does Lee Stewart like me back?”

 “Very doubtful.”

 “What about Missy Lampkin?”

 “Outlook not so good.”

 This was getting serious.

 “Connie Johnston?”

 “Reply hazy.”

 I was running out of candidates.

 “Karen Munsell?”

 “My sources say yes.”

 Not my first choice but I wasn’t exactly a fourth grade lothario.

 After about two weeks of vague, unsatisfactory clairvoyance the 8 Ball met an ignominious end when my neighbor, Rod Hedges, came over.

 “What is that?” he asked.

 “Magic 8 Ball. It will answer any question. Try it.”

 He shook it vigorously and asked: “Is my brother a dick?”

 “Without a doubt.”

 A percipient start to be sure.

 He shook it again: “Will I have to go to summer school?”

 “Signs point to yes.”

 Magic 8 Ball was two for two.

 Then the killer. Rod asked whether his Dad was ever going to come back home.

He shook and shook with all his might until the white answer pyramid emerged from the inky water.

 “Better not tell you now” came the non-committal reply.

 Knowing the Hedges’ family situation as I did, one could hardly blame Magic 8 Ball for not wanting to get involved. Nonetheless, Rod would brook no more uncertainty.

 “This is a piece of shit” he declared.

 It was hard for me to disagree based on how things were going with Karen Munsell.

 We took Magic 8 Ball to the back alley. Rod had one last question.

 “Does my Dad still love me?”

 I was too naive to look away. Finally came the answer.

 “Yes-definitely.”

 We hit the Magic 8 Ball with rocks until it hemorrhaged purple.

 That day, I learned a lesson about human nature that all the advances in technology will never teach or replace. In the end it’s about love in its ever mutating form.

So go find it.

 And if you don’t like the answer you’re getting, ask a different question.

9 Things You Don’t Always Have to Have

blow out

1. An opinion. We form opinions about everything. People. Food. Countries. Religions. Music. It is human nature. Opinions, by their very nature, involve judgments. The problem with opinions is that we usually form them without being fully armed with the facts. Or we form them based on emotion or a limited perspective. How many times have you made a judgment about someone or something only to later learn that you were wrong?

Having an open mind allows you to reserve judgment. Reserving judgment is liberating. You can establish relationships and open yourself to experiences you might otherwise have prematurely dismissed.

2. A cause. Pink ribbons. Yellow bracelets. Ice buckets. Everywhere you turn someone is promoting a cause. I am not diminishing the importance of these. They give people a sense of community and purpose while raising money for worthy endeavors. 

But how much do you engage in simple acts of charity? Not ones that involve running a 10 k or pouring water on your head. I’m talking about everyday things: encouraging a child, smiling at a stranger, helping a friend. Over the long term, the sum of these incremental kindnesses will far surpass every Saturday morning marathon you ever log.

3A side. We love to choose sides. Israel or Palestine. Pro-life or pro-choice. Democrat or Republican. Typically our stance on something conforms to an overarching agenda or an unexamined, shallow ideology. This is easier than taking time to really understand an issue.

Here’s the problem with tidy one-size-fits-all belief structures. This is a complex world with complex issues. They require empathy, dialogue, patience, even nuance. We cannot settle deep seated problems in 30 second sound bites. We want to see the world in black and white when it rarely is. You don’t have to buy into this idea that you have to pick a side.

4. Agreement. We go crazy trying to convince someone that we are right. We try to persuade people to agree with us because we can’t handle standing alone or in opposition. We seek the comfort of consensus. Not everyone will agree with you. This doesn’t mean they are a bad person. It doesn’t mean they are evil. It doesn’t even mean they are wrong. It’s okay to disagree with someone. You might even be able to stay friends without being in complete agreement with them on major issues. Don’t let your disagreement define your relationship with someone else. Be open to people with a different point of view.

5. Security. You want money in the bank, a career with opportunities, a long term, committed relationship. You want stability and security. Life usually has other plans. The only certainty is uncertainty. You are always just a phone call away from a life altering event. Eventually you will lose a job, or get a bad diagnosis, or get cheated on. Security is a phantom state.

Even in the most secure of times you will have to fight off competitors, work like a dog, and side step con artists. You’ll never be able to let down your guard. That’s just life. It’s exhausting but you’ll be better equipped to face it when you let go of the fleeting illusion of security.

6. A reason. We hate it when we don’t understand the motivations of others. Why did my friend commit suicide? Why do deranged people kill? Why did my boyfriend cheat on me? We demand an explanation. We want to know why. This is human nature. We always feel as though there must be a reason for someone’s actions. Sometimes there isn’t. Or even if there is, it won’t be adequate.

In a similar vein, you don’t always have to have a reason or explanation for your actions. Just because other people expect or want a reason doesn’t make it your obligation to give them one. You may not even have one.

7. A calling. I know a few people who were born to be one thing. A musician, a priest, a doctor. Most of us don’t have the luxury of a “calling.” Still we ask ourselves: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is my calling? Your calling may not be so apparent. You may not even have one. Or it may be one that is not readily apparent. Perhaps it’s being a good mom, or providing a stable work environment for others to thrive, or offering friendship to someone who is lonely.

There’s a misleading notion that if we look hard enough we will find fulfillment. Better yet, if we pray or work hard enough fulfillment will find us. Look, you may not ever find your calling. Or you may recognize it only after it has passed. Let go of this fantasy and your life will be much less frustrating.

8. A plan. Everyone wants you to have a plan. What career will you choose? When will you get married? When will you have kids? Where will you be in 5 years? 10 years? I’m not encouraging you to be a shiftless loser. But you don’t always have to have a plan. Sometimes it’s just as important to not have a plan. This will open you up to more possibilities. Even if you have a plan, you don’t have to strictly adhere to it. Once you have some clarity about what you want, you can formulate a plan. Don’t plan for planning’s sake. Stop and listen first.

9. Outrage. Are you in a frequent state of outrage over something? Congress, The President, Benghazi, spousal abuse, the price of milk, crappy cable service. Getting pissed off is an impotent impulse. It’s an outlet for ineffective people. Outrage is the only response they can draw upon. Do something constructive about the things you can affect. Forget about the things you cannot.

Aiding and Abetting

Raiders 49ers Football

I was feeling a little bloodthirsty the other day when a friend asked me to go watch the Dallas Cowboys. Just what the demons ordered. The opponent was San Francisco and their whiny ass coach Jim Harbaugh. That morning I gargled with warm salt water and did a few exercises for my middle finger. Good to go. 

When we got to the stadium we had to wade through a massive throng of beer soaked patrons who were gunning for some action. It looked like a casting call for Con-Air 2, a regular Murderer’s Row. I tried to maintain a certain decorum until the Cowboys called a play action on third and one from San Francisco’s two yard line. I know what you’re thinking already. Get a rope.  

Truth be told, I gave up on the Cowboys long ago so they don’t really beckon my basest instincts as much anymore. I can still work up a pretty good fervor at the college level. I don’t wish any permanent injury for a particular opponent. A temporary maiming usually sates my bloodlust. 

Watching the Ray Rice video was an eye opener of sorts. It shows Rice and his then fiancé (now wife) on an elevator. The footage is almost palpable. A forceful punch by Rice knocks his fiancé to the ground. It’s disturbing. 

The NFL initially suspended Rice two games for the first video which showed Rice merely dragging his helpless wife by her hair. The NFL knew about the second video of the blow in the elevator but claimed to not have seen it. 

So what did they think it showed? A neutral zone infraction? 

Shortly after the second video was released Rice was indefinitely suspended. This no tolerance policy made one thing about the League crystal clear. When the NFL’s image is about to take a tarnishing, they’ll sacrifice one of their own at the altar of brand management.

 Video replay is an unforgiving bastard with a long memory. For Ray Rice now there’s nowhere to hide. Only in the NFL can a man like Ray Lewis be respected enough to pass judgment on someone else. 

Enough with this bullshit that Roger Goodell is “doing the right thing.” Please. This is the NFL. Violence is not only encouraged, violence is the product. And we are happy to pay billions of dollars every year to feed our voracious appetite for it. 

Do you think for one second that the NFL gives a flying flip about the objectification and or exploitation of women? Look at the sidelines then call me. 

It’s Bread and Circuses, entertainment as appeasement. 

There’s another harsh truth in all of this. We are the unwitting participants-aiders and abettors, accessories before the fact. 

We deify the players. We buy their jerseys. Hell, we want them to hurt someone. We scream for it. Then when they do we conjure up a bullshit helping of false outrage.

Where violence is sacrosanct, violence will flourish. You can go and cheer it all you want. Just do me a favor. When it spills over to society at large, don’t deny you’re an accomplice. We all are.

9 Ways You’re Getting Played

 

IMG_00161. You act out of guilt or false obligation.

So there you are, going to the music festival with your friend Stacy. But you hate music festival. So why are you going? Because you “feel bad.” Or because no one else will go. Or because you think you should. Would it be possible to simply tell Stacy you don’t like dance recitals? Apparently everyone else has.

2. You won’t speak up.

Your roommate never takes out the trash. So you do. Your friend never offers to pay. So you do. Your co-worker takes all the credit. So you don’t. Stop being a doormat. Say something.

3. Your loyalty is a one way street.

You work hard for your employer. You are a trustworthy partner. You are considerate of your boyfriend. Do they reciprocate? If not, move on. Find someone for whom the virtue of loyalty is just as important as it is to you.

4. You don’t ask why.

If you don’t understand why you are being asked to do something at work, what do you do? If you are getting passed over for a promotion, what do you do? If you are being ostracized, what do you do? Here’s a simple suggestion. Ask why. It’s the most powerful and disarming question you can ask.

5. You form opinions (or adopt the opinions of others) without any basis.

I would probably hate that French movie. I would probably hate sky diving. I would probably hate Vietnamese food. I would probably hate that bitch who lives next door. You may be right, but try it anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised.

6. You’re too cool.

Too cool to dance. Too cool to wear a Halloween costume. Too cool to hug your best friend. Too cool to tell someone you love them. Don’t be so self conscious. You know who is really cool? People who don’t give a shit what everyone else thinks about them. And people who aren’t afraid to be a little vulnerable.

7. You’re soooo busy.

You volunteer for the humane society and the food bank. And you’re the room mom. You’re always available. Then you get angry when people don’t appreciate you or people take advantage of you.

What did you think would happen? You created that expectation. I was on a committee at our local University. I faithfully attended every meeting. I was prepared and interested. Another member of the committee showed up about every third time. When he did show up he would waltz into the meeting about ten minutes late, offer a few thoughts and leave. He fostered this notion that we were damn lucky he had the time to show up at all. This gave him an air of distinction and importance. People would hang on his every word. It’s human nature. When you’re always available people will take you for granted.

8. You’re too modest.

We live in a world of blowhards. Look at me! Look at my poem or my dog or my kid’s baseball team! Everyone is screaming so loud it’s almost impossible to discern shit from silver. You want your work to just speak for itself? That ain’t gonna happen. If you’ve done something noteworthy, tell people about it. Then tell them again. Then one more time. But please, only if it’s truly noteworthy. We’re all set with ab selfies and videos of drugged kids coming home from the dentist. (By the way, did I happen to mention my book, now available through Thought Catalog? There’s a link at the bottom of this page.)

9. You don’t exploit your connections.

When I was graduating from college a friend of mine came in and told me he had a job with the Dallas Cowboys. I was stunned. How? He always wanted to work for a sports franchise so he started to ask people he knew whether they had any connections. He kept doing it over and over. He employed the degrees of separation theory. And he kept at it.

Don’t think of yourself as an imposition. Most people would be happy to help you. Even if your connection is remote, ask anyway. Let people know what you are looking for. If you don’t ask them, someone else will.

 

 

 

 

 

The 10 Fears Keeping You Up at Night and How to Conquer Them

Insomnia can damage your health

I’ve been thinking lately about how often my thoughts are dominated by worry. Will I have enough money? What will happen to my kids? Will I be successful? Will I get sick and die? 

I wonder why this is the case. Do you do this as well? Do you ruin your present by fearing your future? 

Why are we constantly unsettled and consumed with worry? 

The purveyors of fear are everywhere. We are surrounded by fear because fear sells. We have a voracious appetite for it. And we don’t just consume fear, we are driven by fear, motivated by fear. 

What if you operated on a higher plane? What if you lived a life based on positive potential rather than loss avoidance? What would happen if you chose to dictate your own course rather than have your course charted for you? 

One way to start would be to take inventory of your fears. If you break them down one by one you will see how irrational they are. 

What are you worried about? I’ll dip into my vast inventory of worry and get us started.

1. Money 

Of course you worry about money. Everyone worries about money. If you are able to read this, you have enough money. Is it as much as you want? It never is. It never will be. 

I have a “love/hate” relationship with money. I hate how much I love it. 

But it’s not the money. Money is just a piece of paper. More than likely it is some numbers on a screen. This fear is directly related to the significance we give money. 

How do we value money? By tying it directly to our self-worth. If we didn’t attach so much significance to it, we wouldn’t worry about it. It would simply be a conduit. A means to an end. 

You have plenty of money. Believe me, there are those with much less who are happy. You just don’t have a proper perspective. 

You know who sits around and counts their money? Scrooge McDuck and Lil’ Wayne. Not you. A. You’re not a rapper or a cartoon character. B. You have a life to lead. 

As the saying goes: If your problems can be solved with money, you don’t have any problems. 

  1. Foreigners 

If you are holding a sign in protest of refugees (especially children) there’s very little I can say to you. This is America for God’s sake. We were built on embracing a stranger, not on xenophobia. When someone needs help, we help. We don’t hide behind some fear based contrivance. Fuck the politics and the cost and the so called “long term consequences” and open your heart, even if just a little. You’ll be surprised at what you learn about others….and yourself. 

  1. Death and Disease

You’re not really afraid of dying. You’re afraid you’re not living the life you’re supposed to live. When you live the life you are excited about, you’ll be too busy to think about anything but living. 

  1. The Future

There’s no such thing. You already know this. It’s illusory. Unfortunately you ignore what you already know because it’s too seductive. It offers the hope of something better than what you have right now. But what you have right now-right this very second-is magic. Look around yourself. If you’re reading this you have freedom to think, to spend your time as you see fit, to be leisurely. So why are you planning for the future? There’s only this moment. And at its very core, it’s great.

  1. Not Finding Love 

I’m about to reveal to you the sure fire way to find true love. Love yourself first. If you don’t love the person you are, no one else will either. Once you feel good and confident about who you are, you will be a magnet for others. I’m not talking about arrogance or conceit. Start with acceptance, grow to like, build to love. Then offer yourself to others. Reach out. 

And another thing: Life is not a popularity contest. You don’t need a thousand friends. One or two really good ones will suffice. Make the first move. 

  1. Not Finding Your Passion 

Screw finding it. The fun is in searching for it. I’m 50  51 and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. 

  1. Commitment and Failure 

Commitment is an important part of your legacy. You can’t build anything of value without it. The corollary fear is failure. But you can’t go into anything with the belief that you’ll fail. You don’t plan for failure. You plan for success. Nothing great was ever built planning for failure or from a belief that you’ll let someone else down. That’s cowardice. That’s not fear. 

Of course, I can’t help you if you have no spine. There’s a difference. At least be honest about it. 

  1. Rejection 

The bad news: Most people won’t like you. The good news: It probably will have little to do with you or your ideas. So the people who you care about who openly reject you? They’re not worth it. Invest in people who invest in you. There may be just one or two and for periods of time it may be only you but that’s enough. 

  1. Religion/God 

If your religion scares you, you’re doing it wrong. If your religion makes you scared of God or other people or other religions, you’ve chosen the wrong religion. Just because your religious beliefs dismiss, or even condemn, the deeply held convictions of others does not mean that those others are evil. When you lie awake at night with worry, your spiritual beliefs should bring you comfort and peace of mind, not guilt and self-hatred.

      10. Bears

Of course you should be afraid of bears. Don’t be a dumb shit. 

 

Start slowly. You don’t have to be fearless. Just fear less. Either your worry will consume you or confronting your worry will.