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Evidence is overrated: It’s not what you can show, it’s what you know

You can’t prove the existence of a headache, but it still hurts

Some facts can be known, but not shown. Anyone who’s ever followed a court case knows this all too well, but this is also true of everyday life.

If you have a headache, there’s no way you can prove it to me. A headache, by definition, is a subjectively experienced sensation of pain. I can take your word for it that you have one, but I can’t know for sure since I don’t actually feel the pain in YOUR head. Even if your eyes were bloodshot red and tears were pouring out as you clutched a bottle of Tylenol, I could still choose to remain unpersuaded. You might be acting in an overdramatic manner. There are other possible reasons for why you could be exhibiting those symptoms. Who knows for certain?

But here’s the important part; Even though I am capable of remaining skeptical about your alleged headache experience, YOU still have a very good reason for believing it. After all, arguments aside, you have a direct experience of the headache. My skepticism doesn’t undermine the rationality of what you accept as true.

We’ve all been in situations where we knew we knew something, but we just couldn’t explain it. Then we see someone else who’s better at illustrating things come along and makes it as plain as day. Why is that? Because knowing and showing aren’t the same thing.

Knowing versus showing

To know something means you have a personal awareness of it through direct experience.

To show something means you have the ability to offer a presentation that will convince others of what you know.

Knowing is an internal state.

Showing is a skill.

Here’s my two cents on knowing and showing:

The inability to show others what you know does not negate the validity of what you think, feel, and believe.
 

Your life is not a game of show and tell

Some people in this world will try to make you feel as if you’re silly, naive, and uninformed simply because you can’t answer their tough questions or refute their skeptical claims. They don’t feel you have a right to believe what you believe if they are unconvinced by your convictions.

I’m here to say that you don’t owe these people an explanation or proof of any kind.

Your personal philosophy of life is not determined by a jury vote. You get to choose your own way of thinking regardless of anyone else’s opinions. Evidence is important when it comes to finding what resonates with you in your own pursuit of truth, but it is grossly overrated in relationship to other people’s need to approve of what you think.

The quality of your life is not determined by other people’s opinions, but by your opinions. Their opinions have no relevance at all until you form an opinion that it does.

Since the benefits and consequences of your beliefs are most fully experienced by you, then you, and you alone, are the one who needs to be convinced.

Anyone else can have a piece of my two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Perkiness & positivity are two different things

I have a pet peeve.

Well, it’s not really a pet peeve because I find it far more amusing than annoying. So let’s just call it an observation.

Here it is:

Whenever I’m in deep thought, someone always asks me “Is everything okay?”

The positive philosopher and the sad singer

Those who are closest to me know that my one of my most cherished pastimes is the process of wrestling with a challenging philosophical conundrum. I routinely toss around paradoxes and riddles in my head throughout the day to keep myself entertained. If you catch me in the middle of one of these thought experiments, you’d see that my problem-solving game face can be quite intense. These moments, however, are among my times of greatest joy.

But, as much joy as I derive from serious in-depth contemplation, someone always checks in on my emotional health whenever my game face goes on. Here’s the funny thing; I love to sing too. I also walk around singing as much as I walk around thinking. Sometimes I’m in a horrible mood and am singing the saddest of songs, but people usually assume the exact opposite during those moments. “Wow, you’re really happy” a woman said to me, once, as I sadly strolled along singing “One Last Cry” by Brian Mcknight .

There’s no happiness like showbiz happiness

The association of seriousness with sadness and perkiness with positivity is highly understandable. I totally get it.

It does, however,  prompt me to make an important point about optimism and happiness:

When many people think of being positive and happy, they are referring to what I call “showbiz happiness.”

Showbiz happiness is when you walk around with a big grin on your face looking like you’re ready to break out into a tap dance routine or give everyone you see a hug.

There are people who express their happiness in the showbiz way and that’s quite a fine thing. But others question their capacity to be happy and positive because they don’t walk around whistling all the time. There are even some who shy away from any efforts at becoming more positive because they fear it will turn them into a one-dimensional “turn your frown upside down” cheesy clown character who annoys all of their friends.

Well, for all of you who’ve ever wanted to be more optimistic, but feared that positivity wasn’t for you, I’m offering you these two cents:

Being perky and being positive are two different things.

Optimism is diverse and happiness is multi-dimensional

Not all people who are perky are positive. Some of them have just had too much espresso.

Not all people who are positive are perky.

A positive person is simply someone who maintains a commitment to doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt. 

 Some optimist are highly energetic, but some are very laid back, mellow, easy-going people who are at peace with themselves even though they have no interest in giving you a hug.

You don’t have to smile to feel satisfied

A psychological state is different from the facial expressions, tones of voice, and physical mannerisms various people use to express themselves. Words like “happiness” and “positivity”, ultimately refer to psychological states.

You don’t have to fit into a cookie cutter behavorial mold in order to live joyously. You don’t have to become a stereotype. In fact, by making an effort to be more optimistic, you’ll be pleased to find a more full version of your personality available to you.

You have a right to be happy and healthy. The opportunity to develop a positive psychology and live an extraordinary life is a real option for you.

So don’t count yourself out just because you don’t have a perky personality.

At least that’s my two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

P.S.

By the way, for all you perky folks, I’d still appreciate it if you check to make sure I’m okay when you see me looking serious. You never know when I could use an uplifting word of encouragement or, better still, a good laugh.

Do you want to have the last word or the last laugh? Doers and Debaters

In life, there are Doers and Debaters. Doers are people who act on their desires and follow their dreams regardless of what anyone else thinks. They do things that make them happy and they tend to live deeply satisfying lives. Debaters, on the other hand, are people who orient their lives primarily around the activity of scrutinizing and reacting to what Doers do. They don’t necessarily accomplish anything, but they rarely lack an opinion about those who do.

Debaters who appear to be Doers

The line is not easily drawn between the two groups. Some people who appear to be Doers are actually Debaters. They have the outer appearance of being a mover or a shaker and they might actually get a lot of “stuff” done or possibly make large amounts of money, but they are hesitant to move an inch when it comes to doing what they really want to do. While they may stay busy as far a physical activity is concerned, they fear taking the slightest risk in the direction of anything that might dare to make them feel alive. Their true nature as debaters is revealed only when one sees how passionate they are about arguing for their limitations when someone challenges them to be true to themselves.

Doers who appear to be Debaters

Sorting out the Debaters is equally thorny. Some people, like certain political analysts, film critics, and sports commentators, seem to be Debaters because they write and debate a lot about what’s going on in the world. But when you look beyond the surface, you find that they are very enthusiastic and enterprising people who are proactively creating opportunities through their passion for critical thinking and provocative discussion. Their true nature as Doers is revealed when one observes how consistently they show up to their blogs, podcasts, coffee shops, office desks, pulpits, and podiums to do the work that turns them on and makes life worth living.

What am I?

So, you may be asking “Well, am I a doer or a debater?”

In one sense, we’re all Doers. Either we’re doing what we really want to do or we’re doing what we’ve been conditioned to think we have to do. In the sense I’m discussing here, you’re a doer if you’re doing or preparing to do what YOU really want to do.

By the same measure, we’re all Debaters. When the subject of “living your dreams” or “practicing a self-authentic lifestyle” comes up, either we argue for our possibilities or we defend our limitations and excuses. In the sense I’m discussing here, you’re a debater if you’re the person who uses his logic and reasoning skills to keep coming up with really awesome reasons for why you just can’t live the life YOU really want to live.

Are you a doer or a debater?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

 Am I doing that which is consistent with my highest values and excitement or am I doing something less?
 
Am I arguing for my limitations or am I allowing my possibilities?
 
Am I taking the emotional, mental, and physical steps towards expressing MY Authentic Self or am I too busy analyzing someone else’s life and work?
 
Am I living my life to have the last word or am I living my life to have the last laugh?

The choice is yours. Make it count. That’s my two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Don’t be tardy for the party!

“If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself.  Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”  ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

One of my best friends just recently celebrated a birthday. Lots of party goers from all over gathered together to express appreciation for a life passionately lived and much-loved. This makes me think of the words of Mike Murdock who once wrote “Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated.”

Who’s celebrating you?

Although we all cherish moments when cheers are said to our name, not everyone in life feels celebrated. Many feel overlooked, some slighted.

Too often in life we try in vain to win the affection and praise of people whose interest in us may be casual at best.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting others to feel excited about you. But when you look to any particular individual or institution as the source of your validation, you’re always bound to end up disappointed and frustrated.

Party of one

When you recognize your social life to be a mirror of your psychological life, you can begin to create the changes you’re currently hoping others will provide.

Cultivate the habit of falling in love with yourself. Practice the art of emphasizing your own positive aspects. Develop a deep and abiding consciousness of self-respect. Get excited about the “man in the mirror.”

When you choose to be more fascinated with the story of your own life than you are with any tabloid, television drama, or CNN headline, you begin to witness firsthand the…

The power of being your own biggest fan

To the degree you prove willing to celebrate yourself, you will attract people into your experience who will reflect back to you your own self-love.

The Universe will match you up with those who find it easy to see your light and natural to praise it. If you want others to celebrate you, then you have to be willing to throw a party for yourself.

“Don’t be tardy for the party!” Start radically loving yourself right now!!!

That’s today’s two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Sometimes there’s no lesson to learn

Have you ever trusted someone only to have them disappoint you?

Have you ever failed to close on an important business deal?

Have you ever been in the middle of a great day, only to have drama spring up out of nowhere?

Have you ever asked for something and been told “no”?

Have you ever taken a risk and fallen flat on your face?

Have you ever tried ANYTHING that didn’t work?

Do I sound like a commercial that’s getting ready to sell you something for the low low cost of $19.95?

The unanticipated life

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then welcome to life. Life is a place where the unanticipated happens and I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon. Our experience of the unanticipated is not inherently problematic. The good and the bad of it all comes down to how we choose to process the experience. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you’re already familiar with two personal convictions I have:

1) Accepting disempowering beliefs leads to a quality of life that is unhealthy, unproductive, and unfulfilling.

2) Cultivating empowering beliefs leads to a creative, peaceful, and satisfying experience of well-being.

But today, I’d like to deviate a bit from my usual efforts at dismantling negative beliefs and defending empowering ones.

Today’s lesson is a non-lesson

My lesson today is simple:

Sometimes there’s no lesson to be learned.

Not getting what you want doesn’t ALWAYS mean there’s something you need to change or figure out.

Life is a process and everything isn’t meant to work out the first time around. Analyzing a situation or working extra hard isn’t going to change that simple fact.

No amount of therapy, pills, self-help courses, friends, advice, prayers, motivational speeches, sermons, effort, or thought will save you from the risks, mistakes, failures, and so-called “set-backs” that are built into the life experience.

What I didn’t learn from an experiment with failure

Back in college, as part of an ice breaker group routine at a retreat, some friends and I were faced with the difficult task of physically carrying each member of a group to a certain location without anyone’s body touching any of the objects that were deemed “out of bounds.” My friends and I figured out the perfect way to adjust our physicality and maneuver our bodies so we could outwit the rule makers and successfully accomplish the task. Our performance was stunningly excellent. Everyone was impressed with the way we navigated around inconveniently placed obstacles without letting them touch us. Then, at the very end, we failed.

 Because our time hadn’t run out, we still had a chance to start from the beginning and attempt completion. So we all huddled up and went into strategy planning mode. Everyone threw out a few suggestions for what we could do differently. After about 5 minutes of this, one of the group members said “hey, I think our approach was fine. It just didn’t work that time. Maybe we should just get out there and try the exact strategy again. We did and we succeeded.

Here’s the lesson I learned: There was no lesson to be learned from our failure. We had a great plan. It just didn’t work the first time around. That’s simply how life is. 

Maybe you’re doing just fine. Perhaps the only thing you need to do is not stop.

That’s my two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

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