Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
In this first of ten Curiosity interviews I introduce you to Paul Gadola. As I told Paul a few days ago, he is someone who has climbed the mountain, attainted Wisdom, and come back down the mountain to share the Wisdom with us. He has not only put a lot of energy into figuring some things out, he is putting a lot of energy into explaining what he has learned. Chief among his tenets is to Love yourself first. I think you get a pretty good glimpse at that person in the hour that we talked.
I’m proud to share this experience with you, and grateful to have come to know Paul as a colleague and buddy. We talk about Curiosity, but also about self discipline, integrity, and Love. If I never shared this interview with the world I would still be a better person for having experienced it. I truly hope you take the time to watch and to listen to what Paul shares. There is much to learn and more to think about.
I am also fortunate to be reading a draft of book Paul is working on. I will be sure to keep you posted as that evolves.
As we pursue the “Are vs. Should Problem” and examine our personal inventory, I want to describe two main ways we can understand our selves and the realities we live in.
First, there is the measurable world. The ‘Hard’ world where science reigns supreme. Things are measurable, quantifiable, and therefore fit into the well oiled scientific machinery. Problems stemming from economics, medicine, and food supply are easily boiled down into testable hypotheses and theories used to derive definitive results. Other minds have described hard problems as being those containing subjects comprised of matter (as opposed to ideas, for example).
Is the economy going to tank? Well, the data on this and that support a trajectory that suggests no.
Will this medicine prevent a global pandemic? It is 98% effective at preventing disease and 90% of the population is vaccinated so yes!
Is this years corn crop enough to supply North America for the winter? Yes, ten billion metric tonnes of corn will feed 200 million people (I completely made up those numbers, but you get the point)
So science is pretty darned good at answering certain questions. About things that we can OBSERVE and MEASURE.
EVERYTHING ELSE is a ‘SOFT’ problem defined by a soft reality. EVERYTHING ELSE.
My point in this episode is that VERY FEW items in our personal inventory are going to fit into the HARD reality. And, unfortunately, scientists (and other professionals who get paid to think) spend most of their time on HARD problems because, well, because they have to. The hard tools don’t work as well on the soft realities. BUT THEY CAN WORK!
And so, as part of our assessment of our personal inventory, as part of the process of weeding out the needs, the wants, and the don’t-really-need-so-muches, we have to develop a new skill set.
One way to understand the soft problems, is simply to borrow the scientific tools used for hard problems. Einstein, and others, called these ‘thought experiments’. There’s no reason we can’t follow the scientific approach to ask questions about soft realities, we just can’t draw the same conclusions because not everything can be boiled down to numbers.
And that may be another way to understand the difference. Hard reality problems can be boiled down to a set of numbers that represent the reality: The average person has 10,000 thoughts a day. Whereas the soft reality problem can’t be measured like that: The average person worries about death and being unloved as they age. Worry, fear, sadness. How do you measure those things? And, if you could, why would you? What we want and need with soft problems is simply a better understanding of the realities across people. Science isn’t a good tool to go about understanding this. Our minds, however, are excellent tools to solve these problems – we just have to normalize this however we can once we find a system that works.
And, really, we probably have lots of Unscientific approaches that work – we just treat them differently from science because, well, they aren’t science. Next week I’ll go in to a bit more detail with examples.
As I navigate through the ‘Are vs. Should’ Problem‘ I see an initial split as we start to unpack our personal inventories. If we first have to lay out all the elements of our lives for inspection and understanding, it becomes obvious that there are (at least) two types of elements to consider. I’m calling these ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ elements, and they are defined within their respective realities. I’m not trying to make this esoteric or overly complicated, it really isn’t.
In short, ‘hard’ realities are measurable things composed of matter that can be studied by science. Things like foods we like, things we find beautiful, our favorite color, types of people we’re attracted to, jobs we’d like to do. Compared to ‘soft’ realities that are less . . . definable. Less measurable. More foggy. These things include our feelings about religion, whether we think abortion should be legal, how we feel about anarchy. . . . how one defines beauty (as opposed to things we find beautiful). And so on.
In short, I want to begin the process of understanding our personal inventories by introducing the idea that there are (at least) two ways of looking at our personality traits defined by these two ‘worlds’. I’m sure other authors and thinkers have defined these things differently, and I beg you to educate me, but this is the idea I’ll ponder this week as we move toward redefining ourselves.
I am learning that our brain, mind, head, is not who we ARE. We are not the VOICE in our heads, we are the one LISTENING to the voice in our heads. What we call ‘our head’ is largely our analytical mind, and it’s just a part of the larger ‘us’ or ‘self’.
Yeah, that’s a lot to ingest. And it’s a lot for me to type out and mean. It’s a compilation of things I’ve learned over the last decade. In traditional talk therapy. Through the myriad self help, neuroscience, and personal growth books I’ve read. And, more recently, through some somatic healing work I’ve been doing. But the more I learn, the more I realize – at the VERY LEAST – our ‘head’ is only one part of us.
I think many of us have lived the majority of our lives in our heads. And it makes sense. Our heads communicate in the same language we speak. Our heads offer us company and advice. Our heads seem like ‘us’. And, I guess, they are. But our head does not have to be our boss. In fact, our head doesn’t always have the right answers. Our head isn’t always the best source of advice. Our head is comprised of multiple parts that might actually be less helpful as advisors than our body, our heart, or ‘gut’. Certainly, it is worth getting to know the multiple parts that comprise our selves, and ‘getting out of our heads’ is an entry point to that pathway.
Getting out of our heads can begin by simply not listening to the voices that arise there. Meditation is a great method to learn how to not listen. Rather than reinventing the wheel, following a meditation plan to stop the ‘monkey mind’, ‘self talk’, ‘chatter’, and other noise that goes on in our heads is an excellent primer on this process.
And once you can stop listening to your analytical mind, the doors open up to listen to all the other parts of you. For me, the discovery that I am more than just my analytical mind has been absolutely life changing. It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced. It’s why I tried psychedelic drugs in my youth. It’s what I have longed for my whole life – and it was there all along. Now that I have learned to listen to my body instead of my mind, I have truly started to change.
On our journey to define the ARE vs SHOULD problem (Episode 50), we must first define the ‘existing conditions’. Like many scientific endeavors (and I’m NOT saying this is a scientific endeavor, rather, that I will take a scientific APPROACH), the Are vs Should investigation needs to know where it’s coming from to understand where it’s going.
And, really, the personal inventory is just that – it defines where we are at the beginning of our adventure. Doesn’t every good movie do the same thing? Isn’t this really just a classic ‘set the scene’ device we use to tell stories and keep them interesting?
And so on the path to personal growth and figuring out the Are vs. Should problem, we will first lay everything out on the table and start from there. Carlos Castaneda, in the books he wrote about Don Juan Matus, talked a lot about the table, and the tonal, as being the field of the ‘known’ or the ‘earthly’ possessions humans carry around with them.
But the personal inventory is about much more than just physical objects. It’s the feelings we have, the people we know, the relationships we build, the cars we drive, the foods we eat, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum.
Truly, the personal inventory is the story of everything that has happened to us in our lives up to the point at which we build the personal inventory. And, yes, it’s a huge job and no, I don’t expect you to nail every last thing.
The idea is that, if someone asked you about the ‘basics’ of the inventory: your likes, dislikes, wants, needs, desires, values, etc. you’d probably be able to come up with a handful of things quickly. And you might even think that those things ‘pretty much’ described who you are. And that’s the problem. We don’t see ourselves as being all that complex. Or maybe not AS complex as we truly are.
We are ourselves and our experiences. So TIME is a huge factor here. Our personal inventory is also our personal HISTORY. Much of the personal inventory is things we haven’t done, or thought about, in a long time. It’s our past and our present. It’s who we ARE and who we WERE. It’s physical and it’s metaphysical.
And, again, the idea is not to be complete nor obsessive. The idea is to think about this as much as we can, to establish a ‘who am I’ table full of things, and then to move forward.
Building your personal inventory can be fun. You will be surprised how interesting you are if you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and tolerate the pain of a thorough investigation of your self.
And, truly, if you don’t put forth an earnest effort (and you must define what that is for yourself), you will not make much progress on the Are vs. Should problem. The more you reveal about yourself, the more material you will have to work with.
While I’m not entirely sure what will come next, it will very likely focus on an ASSESSMENT of the personal inventory to think about where and how these pieces of you came to be. And whether they need to stay. Or go. And whether there are things missing that you wish were there. Please comment below with thoughts you might have about what comes next. More next week in Episode 52.
The concept of a personal inventory is common to many therapy, personal growth, and coaching approaches. Essentially, before you can implement a change, you have to know WHAT you’re changing. So the personal inventory is all your STUFF.
And so on. You get the picture. But what many of us DON’T GET is how complex this can be. We are a LOT more complicated than we think.
And before we can pursue the ARE vs. SHOULD problem (Episode 50), we have to know what (WHO) we’re dealing with (Episode 49: Who Are You?). The process of laying out your personal inventory is the first step.
Please subscribe to my YouTube channel or Podcast if you want to follow the development of the ARE vs. SHOULD problem. And more importantly, comment below if you have input, criticism, or insight.
“I meant no harm I most truly did not, but I had to grow bigger so bigger I got. I biggered my factory, I biggered my roads, I biggered the wagons, I biggered the loads, of the Thneeds I shipped out I was shipping them forth from the South, to the East, to the West. To the North, I went right on biggering selling more thneeds. And I biggered my money which everyone needs.” ― Dr Seuss, from the Lorax
A key tenet in what I think is wrong with the world is the obsession with growth. This quote from the Lorax, and pretty much the whole book, gets at this sentiment. Where did we learn that growth is essential? Or that growth is infinite? Or that NOT growing = death?
Was it in economics courses in school? Maybe. That’s what I assume, but I can’t say I remember (I got a D in college economics anyway, so . . . )
Was it from our parents? Our first jobs?
I guess it doesn’t matter, but suffice it to say the concept of growth being a healthy and necessary thing is something many of us learned somewhere, somehow.
But if we look more closely, I think it’s just incorrect. And that’s what this episode is about.
Here’s the original post with links to the audio and YouTube. Please subscribe and peruse the back catalog of my other 50 Episodes and interviews!
This episode is a milestone for several reasons. One, it’s the 50th episode and, for a weekly podcast that means it has been about a year, which is also a not insignificant milestone. For a one-man-band hobby podcaster, that’s a pretty good run. When I started KEW I wasn’t sure where I was going or what I was trying to accomplish over the long term.
And, really, I began asking myself that question around Episode 41 when I announced the ‘state of the podcast’, which was mostly about changing up a few mechanical aspects like social media and shortening the episodes from an hour or more to around 20 minutes.
Prior to that I was on a roll of episodes that reflected my personal growth (Ep. 33: Soul, Ep. 34 Self, Ep. 36: Narcissism and Codependency) and things I have learned in counseling, therapy, and coaching.
The rest of the Episodes tended to address concepts I have thought about for years or longer. I learned a lot by sitting down and talking these concepts through in podcast form.
Then I did an interview series about Curiosity that gave me some experience networking and interviewing but also expounded on a key element of what KEW was all about. And I didn’t realize this when I started.
In fact, I didn’t now much when I started, but I did know I wanted to develop some cohesion across my varied thoughts. I wanted to find a theme in this work that could be organized into some sort of cohesive document, series, or work. I wanted to find the patterns in my ideas and figure out how to put them all together to be presented as an integrated whole.
And Episode 50 seemed like the right time to so.
I have spent the past few weeks figuring out what this integrative device would be and I have found a place to start.
The reason I was compelled to do this podcast/blog/vlog is to address a single theme:
The human condition is a struggle between who we ARE and who we think we SHOULD BE
Though I’m sure this isn’t entirely universal, it’s close enough for me. And it IS me. And I want to share my thoughts about the WHAT, WHY, and HOW of this struggle with the world. Because I bring a unique perspective, and I will argue that UNIQUENESS is supposed to be expressed.
SO, inherent to my argument, basically Episode 50 forward, is me expressing my unique offering to the world about what, why, and how we deal with this struggle. The ‘Are vs. Should’ Problem, if you will.
And I will do this in real time.
I have a rough ‘table of contents’ for two products. One about the What and the Why, and one about the How. Basically, I will develop, in conjunction with weekly podcast topics, this table of contents into two cohesive manuscripts to be released at some later date. The first will explain WHAT *I* think this dilemma IS and WHY *I* think this struggle exists. In the second book I will share HOW *I* think we can deal with or address this struggle.
These works will build upon my SCIENCE knowledge and PERSONAL GROWTH experience. My credentials or credibility, if you will. It’s what I have, after all. And who I am. And that’s all I got.
So Episode 50 explains all that in a bit more detail
In this ‘milestone’ Episode I’ll summarize a new direction for KEW. After 50 Episodes and 10 Curiosity interviews I have compiled, assessed, and researched most of the ideas, concepts, and thoughts swimming around in my head. I’ve discussed these ideas in real-time podcast format and learned a lot in the process. I appreciate you coming along with me on this journey.
Now that I’ve thought through most of what I needed to think through, I’ll spend the next 10-50 episodes narrowing down a more focused topic. I have realized that the message under my curiosity is fairly singular. It comes down to one phenomenon. Something I think may be fairly universal. Something it seems many humans suffer from. And I will start with one question:
Do you struggle between being the person you ARE and the person you think you SHOULD BE?
If you understand this question, or are at least curious about it, the next phase of KEW will be right up your alley. If you don’t understand this question you may be interested to pay attention anyway. If you are someone who ignores one or the other of these two ‘persons’, I may want to interview you.
From this basic question about the human condition I will develop a thesis.
In this episode I moved closer to figuring out the basic set of issues one needs to address when seeking enlightenment, personal growth, self help, or similar human growth efforts. Along with identifying values, identifying beliefs (limiting and otherwise), and getting to know ‘who you are’ I think understand HOW we believe is important.
In recording this episode, I realized that faith and trust are critical terms to understand. Like DOUBT, we define faith and trust along continua of intensity. In the end, I think trust is something we have for individual people, and faith is something we have in concepts or systems. But each of these terms can vary depending on what the faith or trust is IN.
For example, we have FAITH that we will arrive safely at our destination whenever we drive our cars. We TRUST in other drivers that they won’t cross over the centerline and hit us head on. We have a HUGE degree of FAITH in this whole driving SYSTEM to the point where we are more afraid of being eaten by a shark at the beach or being bitten by a snake than we are of being in a car accident – and the statistics and probability suggest quite the opposite.
And what’s more revealing is how much FAITH and TRUST we put in to things without realizing we’re doing it. For example, SCIENCE, which we often consider to be the antithesis of faith or trust, necessarily contains a HUGE element of FAITH in the acceptance of and belief in scientific results. Another example of the strangeness of these concepts is how we conclude that because the sun has risen every day for millennia that it will 100% rise again tomorrow.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this discussion about how we place our personal power into people, ideas, concepts, and systems and how this relates to what we VALUE and BELIEVE.
Here’s the link to the original post with links to podcast audio and YouTube video. Please subscribe to the Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom podcast on your favorite app or my YouTube channel (or both!).