Archive for the 'Well-being' Category

Slow Networking

April 18, 2016

You may have heard of movements like slow money and slow food. I’ve started to apply a similar philosophy to networking and communications.

In the past month, I’ve deleted my LinkedIn and AngelList accounts due to their use of dark patterns. I’ve also downgraded from an iPhone to a simpler flip phone. With these changes, I feel less distracted and more able/engaged reading physical books and long-form blogs. At events, there’s no more excuses to be staring down at a smartphone; instead, I’m readjusting to rely on good old-fashioned face time.

At a recent meeting, everyone else brought their laptops and were busily using them during the meeting. I only had a pad of paper and a pen. It didn’t feel like people were present staring at their screens. There was no eye contact at all. What’s the point of having an in person meeting if people are that distracted?

So far, the benefits of disconnecting and slowing down seem to be outweighing the cons. Over the next year, I’m considering deleting my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’m also experimenting with using my own email server and slowly moving off Gmail for privacy reasons.


Decoupling Society

April 8, 2015

Tight Coupling NO

In programming, we have a design principle of loose coupling, opposite of tight coupling where services are highly dependent on one another. Most of the time, tight coupling is bad practice because it reduces flexibility/reusability and increases complexity. We can use the same analogy for society. In the past, we have examples throughout history where things were once tightly coupled and later shifted to a more loosely coupled model like separation of church and state. Presently, in sustainability, I hear that we need to decouple natural resources and environmental degradation from economic growth. First off, there is a word for out-of-control growth. It’s called cancer. There are limits to growth, as Robert Kennedy once said,

“Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

I believe we need to decouple growth from the notion of progress. In the future, I believe we’ll need to decouple many more aspects of society to as we evolve to new levels of collective consciousness:

Decoupling technology from success

Humans have always been fascinated by tools. Sometimes, this leads to overconfidence that human ingenuity and newer technologies can solve the problems of today. In fact, this type of misthinking leads to a dangerous game of “our wits vs their genes” as seen in the rise of antibiotic resistance over the last few decades. Bacteria can replicate itself in under 20 minutes, evolving each time, while human generations span longer than 20 years. What would you rather place a bet on?

A less known phenomenon in economics is called the Jevons paradox. It states that as technology increases, efficiency increases, but then our consumption of the resource increases as well, negating the positive effects of that technology. From Wikipedia, “The Jevons paradox indicates that increased efficiency by itself is unlikely to reduce fuel use, and that sustainable energy policy must rely on other types of government interventions.”


Jevons Paradox

Decoupling work from income

The idea of getting paid to do an unfulfilling and unengaging job seems so Industrial Era factory thinking to me. Our societal systems of neoliberal capitalism and a gridlocked political system that seems more like a plutocracy than a democracy have wrecked havoc on our intrinsic motivations and social human nature. We know what motivates uspurpose, autonomy, and mastery. Why are we living in outdated institutional and societal structures that no longer best serves our needs, and what then can I do? I believe in a world where every human has the basic right to all levels below self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy, including, but not limited to (physiological needs) clean air/water, healthy food, clothing/shelter, (safety) personal/financial security, well-being, insurance/safety net, (love and belonging) family/friends/mentors/colleagues, (esteem) respect, autonomy, and mastery. This unprecedented level of equality would give everyone the real opportunity for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In self-actualization and beyond (self-transcendence, etc) could we truly have enough energy to explore our unique individual and collective purpose, contribution, and gifts. To do so, would require radically changing our economic and political systems, which decoupling work from income for the basic human needs of physiological needs, safety, and love and belonging, would be a good step in that direction.


Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs


April 4, 2015

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh is one of my all time favorite books. It really resonated with me. Undoubtedly, when Tony sent out an internal memo to all Zappos employees about going all-in on holacracy, I was intrigued. He talks about transforming the company from hierarchical structures to a self-management paradigm. One of the resources he mentioned was Reinventing Organizations. I’ve started reading it, and it’s fasinating. The theme of the book is there are emergent ways of working together that create more productive, purposeful, and soulful organizations. The three breakthrough insights are 1) self-management 2) wholeness 3) evolutionary purpose. Again, this way of thinking really resonates with me. In the past, I’ve worked in corporations where many decisions are based on an ego/profit-driven hierarchy paradigm. Complexity gets pushed up, while decisions get pushed down without context or the buy-in of front line stakeholders who deal with the consequences of the decisions day-to-day. This requires each level you go up in the pyramid to have people with higher levels of skill, training, and consciousness to deal with the increased complexity. However, this gets increasingly difficult as the pyramid grows. Too many levels or incompetent middle management and the system starts to break down. Is it a wonder why employee engagement is so low? People don’t scale, but some structures and processes can. I encourage you to check out Reinventing Organizations and let me know what you think.

Here’s a video of a talk by author of Reinventing Organizations:

Future Teachers

February 14, 2014

I was talking with a friend on the topic of education. One problem is that primary education teachers with 15 years experience in the US make an average annual salary of $45,225. When he’s president, he’d pay teachers 3x what they’re making now. Basically, as a society, putting much more value on education. I agreed education has many long-term benefits. This got me thinking. What would future teachers look like and do a hundred years from now?

In the future, I believe we’ll make the transition from a culture that values making a killing living to something more akin to the gift economy. When that happens, teachers will have the opportunity to do what they love and be truly valued for it. They will incite curiosity in young minds to question, learn, and grow. They will guide our culture to explore both intellectually simulating and whole-hearted, purposeful experiences in the beautiful world we live in. They will instill values of earth stewardship, generosity, and well-being. The teachers of the future will be the mentors and elders of our society who have mastered and applied their skillful art of storytelling, play, communication, and all other worldly things. They will be rewarded with trust, gratitude, reciprocation, status, and recognition for the thousand acts of kindness they do, day in, day out. That will be the day when society truly values education and the role of teachers.

What Did We Forget?

January 24, 2014

Gaia, Lee Welles

Last weekend, I participated in part one of a three-part course that teaches about reconnecting with nature, designing ecologically, and following life’s principles. This is a journal entry after that experience.


Saturday morning, I woke up early and started the trek out to western Mass. Already feeling a bit self-conscious driving alone in a fossil-fuel guzzling SUV, I gently put the thought aside and told myself that next time, I’ll try harder to organize a carpool, since at least five other people were coming from the Boston area. Upon arriving at the eco-village where the course took place, I felt a sense of serenity and awe that an intentional community of people could design such beautiful settlements inside and out. Sirius has been around for over 35 years. Most of it has been built slowly and deliberately with over 95% of the wood sourced locally. It took so long to build because each log was meditated with! One of the founding members told us stories of how they communicated with the trees, and the trees being happy to be used as shelter and resources as long as they were respected. Doesn’t that remind you of The Giving Tree?



We started each day around 8am with a skillshare (how a masonry heater works, meditation session) and end class around 5pm. The curriculum was balanced between sitting in a big circle listening/participating, doing group activities, and spending time outdoors. My favorite activity was a naturalist/tracker guest instructor taking us out in the woods and having each of us find a spot, sit there in the snow, and just observe nature. I plan to create a tiny habit of doing sit spot in my background to observe the environment where we’ll be growing food. My favorite thought-provoking talk was by a guy who said that a lot of our problems stems from this perception that we as humans are separate from nature.  Also, when the twenty students introduced ourselves in class, it was surprising that none of us came from a landscaping background. Something else had attracted us to the class. What could it be?


Illusion of Seperation


During a lunch conversation with the instructor, after mentioning how clueless I was on how to incorporate nature into the education of our two young kids and avoiding nature deficit disorder, she recommended Coyote’s Guide, so I’m reading it now. Protip: Buy the digital PDF ($20 vs $100 paperback) and convert it to Kindle version.



It’s fascinating that many indigenous cultures don’t have formal education systems, but rather a culture of mentorship, an invisible school with mentors that playfully guide us to the edges of our comfort zone where deep learning and experiences happen. This guy who lives in the woods teaches about the relationship between us and nature and the cyclical path we walk. Makes me wonder, as the pace of the world gets faster and faster, and we spend all our time in human-created environments, what have we lost along the way? What did we forget?



In other news, I’m planning to attend Charles Eisenstein’s event in Jamaica Plain on Sun 1/26/14 and would love to see you there.

Tiny Habits Update

January 10, 2014

I’ve been doing well forming my meditation tiny habit. Here’s a few screenshots of the Insight Timer stats for the past month.

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At six minutes daily now. Total weekly minutes up and to the right!

2014-01-10 09.06.29

Stats show progress and when to expect next milestone. Helps with tracking/motivation.

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Who isn’t proud of their achievements? #humblebrag

Also, I’ve been successfully blogging and giving something away (using yerdle now too) once a week. This stuff works people.

Doing Less with Less

January 3, 2014

As we begin a new chapter and reflect on the past year, many of us are thinking about resolutions and changing behaviors. We hear the typical, I will go to the gym more, eat healthier, be a better parent/spouse/etc. All of these require having dedicated willpower, forming good habits, and carving out more time from our already busy schedules. This leads doing more (things) with less (time). Eating better by having to-go breakfast while driving to work, exercising more by doing it while working, and spending time with the family while responding to “mission-critical” work emails are all examples of trying to maximize efficiency. Multitasking gives us a false sense of accomplishment.  I propose we try something different. What if we did less with less? What if we reflected deeply on what is truly important to us, prioritized a To Do list A, B, C, and threw out C right away, every time? By slowing down, I believe it’s perfectly okay to accomplish less, and with a more dedicated focus and mindfulness, one may find unexpected results and rewards.


December 27, 2013

Reflecting on 2013, I’m grateful for a lot of things.

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Being happy and healthy
  • Having a roof over our heads
  • Living on a beautiful planet (what a gift!)
  • Eating abundant, nourishing food
  • Growing food
  • Doing meaningful work
  • Learning and growing heart and mind
  • Meeting new people
  • Being married (like a fine wine, it just keeps getting better with time)

Looking forward to a transitional and promising 2014!

Finding Your Ikigai

November 18, 2013

What gets you up in the morning?

From Wikipedia:

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.


Positive psychologist Martin Seligman combines five essential elements for well-being into the PERMA model. PERMA stands for (P) positive emotion (E) engagement (R) positive relationships (M) meaning and (A) accomplishment/achievement. Martin says the pursuit of meaning is the strongest contribution to life satisfaction.


My current pursuit is to optimize for learning. There is no shortage of worldly problems and people working on them. Getting a better understanding of the bigger picture, I can then apply that knowledge into action by designing systems that are not just doing less harm on the world, but regenerating life and energy beyond sustainability. Being part of a story of positivity and creation is much more empowering to me than conservation and efficiency, which is equally important.

If meaningfulness is so fundamental to our well-being, have you consciously created the time and space to contemplate it? What is your Ikigai? Please share in the comments.

Additional resources:

Dan Buettner shares how to live to be 100+ years old and talks about Ikigai around 11:00

Martin Seligman talks positive psychology and about meaning around 15:20 and 19:00

Shawn Achors talks about the happiness advantage

Dan Pink on what motivates us


Happiness Advantage