KEW Episode 66: Clarity

Remember that time when everything seemed perfectly clear?

Yeah, me neither.

But once in awhile things DO seem clear. And it feels good. There’s no doubt (Episode 28) and things just make sense. Though these moments are fleeting, I think we can learn to maximize the amount of clarity we see in our lives.

And by clarity I mean more the ABSENCE of stuff rather than the PRESENCE of something. Clarity, to me, is really just a lack of noice. A lack of disturbance. A lack of . . . . . conflict.

So, yeah, clarity is PEACE.

But it’s also a feeling. An emotional state, if you will, where the calmness takes over and we are filled with confidence and knowing. And how do we know if we really know what we think we know? Clarity.

But in my life, and maybe in yours, and certainly in many peoples’, there is a distinct LACK of clarity. In truth, life is more like a game of telephone where whatever messages we receive from the world are many times adulterated so what we hear is wrong. Even if the game is only played by two people

I seriously wonder how any conversation between any two people ever results in both parties simultaneously being understood and understanding. It’s amazing we can understand each other given our propensity to interpret each other, insert our subjective biases, to be poor communicators, to define words differently, and any other of a multitude of elements that complicate communication among humans.

But, generally, we can actually talk to each other. My use of the term CLARITY is simply to suggest that we could be much better at it. And that’s what I talk about in this video.

Podcast audio direct download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/9311320-kew-episode-66-clarity.mp3?download=true

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YouTube video here at the Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom channel: https://youtu.be/E8qwKh22g5U

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[Please note, this episode has no video associated with it as I was unable to process my video files. So the YouTube episode is just audio this week. I apologize, and thank you for your patience.]

In the meantime, enjoy the preview video below!

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 48: Unlearning

Many KEW episodes and posts refer to things I learned in the past that maybe don’t help us any more, are outdated, or were simply wrong to begin with. From thinking Competition actually regulates our markets (Episode 6), wondering how Old Beliefs (Episode 9) hold us back, to the idea that we all feel different, but that actually makes us the same (Episode 21). Under all of this there is a theme of having to learn new things.

But before we can learn new things, we have to Unlearn the old things. And this may seem like a silly thing to say, but it is often a critical step that can prevent us from growing. See, these old beliefs, the old ideas, the old information that is stored in our biological hard drive gets in the way of new learning.

It’s almost like your old ways resist the new ways. Like a stodgy old neighbor that wants you to stay off his lawn, our old strategies, the old knowledge, the past approaches to life stand in our way of the new. Until we address what we were wrong about, it’s hard to be right.

Or, in a better way, until we shed the old information and address why it doesn’t serve us we can’t possibly hope to truly understand and integrate the new.

This Episode originally aired in May of this year, or about six months ago. You can find the entire post here with links to the full podcast and YouTube episode. Note the second sentence is the Title of this weeks upcoming episode. At least my ideas are consistent:)

KEW Episode 65: How Do We Know if We Really Know What We Think We Know?

To some, this is a ridiculous question steeped in pointless naval gazing. To others, it’s a comedic take on people who ask the ‘big questions’. To others this is a reasonable assessment of what we want to understand. To me, it’s all three at the same time. And maybe that’s the point.

And like most rhetorical questions, I don’t really want to KNOW if I really know what I think I know. Rather, I’m curious about how this questions makes one think a few steps ahead. It’s not about what we know. It’s about the idea that we think we know in the first place. Like, what makes us think we are so awesome that we can understand the very nature of a thing? What makes us think we are so special? Why are we the only living thing on the planet that can ‘know’? Or is that even a logical thought in the first place?

So, yeah, wondering whether we can even really know things is interesting in and of itself. Perhaps even more interesting than the simple question of whether we are right or wrong. Because that’s the nature of knowing, I think. Knowing implies we are correct. And like my buddy Paul Gadola says, we all think we are correct. So knowing is a bit biased to say the least. We ALL think we know. And we often disagree. And modernity has brought, if nothing else, an ever increasing number of potential explanations to things which means the options of knowing what is right are becoming more and more infinite.

In other words, knowing, or being right, is increasingly more impossible. And, more importantly, does it even matter? If there are ‘subjective truths’ (which I believe are really subjective realities, and not truths at all) then REALLY what does it matter? Can’t we all be right? Doesn’t everyone get a trophy?

What follows, then, is my curiosity in the knowing itself. Not whether or not I know. And how did I arrive at that knowing? One of the major assumptions of the Are vs Should Problem is that much of what we think and believe was simply inherited, so why do we connect so much of our identity with this inherited ‘knowledge’?

Moreover, isn’t it the capacity to think we know stuff far more interesting than actually knowing the stuff? Were the ancient Greeks correct to ‘know thyself’? Isn’t that the first step, anyway? How can we know ANYTHING without first understanding how we would even begin to know in the first place?

Podcast audio download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/9261427-kew-episode-65-how-do-we-know-if-we-really-know-what-we-think-we-know.mp3?download=true

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YouTube video link here: https://youtu.be/9qGAvcDwg6M

Here are two links to the Toltec and Taoist ideas of ‘not doing’ and ‘non thinking’:

Preview video below:

KEW Episode 64: The Forest for the Trees

I’m using the Forest for the Trees metaphor to suggest that humans have become exceptionally myopic. The only reason I know what myopic means is because after defending my Master’s Thesis a professor proclaimed that I was very myopic – meaning I had a terribly narrow view of the question I had asked and answered. I thought I was being pretty broad and was a bit hurt by his statement, but I also understood his point. I could have taken a ‘bigger picture’ approach, but by the time I realized that I was too far along to expand my view.

Anyway, I realized recently that myopia was again affecting my life.

During the decade I spent in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I didn’t really change. And I knew I wasn’t changing, but couldn’t understand why. Sure, I learned a lot, but my problems stayed the same. At some point I realized that I understood what I was doing, and how to fix it, but only in an analytical way. My mind understood the logic, but my behaviors, attitudes, and habits weren’t changing.

I was still anxious although I understood how irrational many of my fears were.

I still believed I wasn’t good enough despite understanding where those beliefs came from.

I was still angry about many things, though I knew that energy didn’t solve any problems.

I understood why I was the way I was, but I’ll be damned if I learned anything about changing.

Until I realized I was looking at the trees.

In my metaphor, and maybe in yours, my logical, analytical brain was a tree. And it’s all I saw.

Recently, I came to understand I was not only a physical body and an analytical mind, but also an emotional and feeling body with equivalent mental and spiritual elements.

And my anxiety, depression, feeling not good enough, and angry parts were spread across all of these different trees – and together formed my forest.

In order to heal, I had to form a real forest, and not just a bunch of trees.

Paul Gadola calls this Integrity – and I needed some.

A stand of trees does not a forest make. They must integrate. Together. With all parts having meaning. And seeing and feeling each other.

In the context of the Are vs. Should Problem, the analytical mind and the physical body are where a lot of the Shoulds are aimed. The Shoulds bully us into forgetting about the Ares, which lie within our other parts. Our Ares are whole. We used to be whole. We are becoming quite splintered. Myopia is stealing our wholeness.

But we can get it back. We can resist.

Download podcast audio here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/9221504-kew-episode-64-the-forest-for-the-trees.mp3?download=true

or subscribe to Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, etc.

Youtube video here: https://youtu.be/a08lb5Wol_M

Preview KEW Episode 64: The Forest for the Trees

I love the ‘forest for the trees’ metaphor because it describes a fundamental facet of human nature.

Most of the time we tend to be myopic, only seeing what is right in front of us. For whatever reasons, our species is great at believing what our eyes see. Our ‘field of view’ seems to be ‘all there is’.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of ‘myself’, my ‘self’, the ‘real me’, whatever, as being a combination of my eyes and brain.

Like when I meditate, I close my eyes but still think of ‘me’ as being my brain and my eyes. And I guess the rest of me is just the rest of me.

Despite having four other completely developed and incredible senses, we default to our eyesight as telling us what the world is.

And, even further, we tend to believe the world is only what is within our field of view. Or right in front of us.

So, yeah, a lot of the time I’m not really aware of the forest because I believe the handful of trees in front of me is all there is.

To see the world more completely I try to be aware of my other senses and the other parts of the world that exist whether I see them or not:)

More this Friday. Thanks for following, subscribing, and commenting! Help me keep this a discourse by sharing your thoughts however you feel comfortable doing so.

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 47: Changing Behavior Changes Beliefs

For years I was stuck trying to THINK my way into changing my behaviors, beliefs, habits, actions.

Not that I was all that bad or needed massive changes, but there were things I wanted to be different.

I would get anxious a lot.

I would get defensive sometimes.

I would say no to social invitations.

I would be afraid to try some new things.

You know, just some things I wanted to change. So, I would say things like, ‘next time I’m going to remind myself to do that differently’.

But I wouldn’t. Or, I would remember to remind myself, but be so overwhelmed I would end up doing the same things.

I would end up doing the same things. Out of habit.

And to change habits, we have to change our brains. It’s funny, but we can’t think our way into changing our brains.

We can’t change our brains WITH our brains.

We change the way we think by changing what we do.

Original post with full audio and video links: https://chrisburcher.com/2021/05/07/kew-episode-47-changing-behavior-changes-beliefs/

KEW Episode 60: The Are vs Should Problem – Jobs and Careers

When I was a teenager I realized I would be working for the rest of my life. This hit me like a ton of bricks. This realization LITERALLY left me feeling like I had fallen out of a tree and couldn’t catch my breath. Though I’d experienced physical pain by this point in my life, fully coming to understand that I was going to have to spend a significant part of my life doing things I didn’t want to do was disturbing.

And it wasn’t so much that I had to WORK. I didn’t mind working. I had my first job at 13 and was gainfully employed when I had this epiphany about work. It was more that a big chunk of MY TIME was spoken for.

I felt like I was seeing my future, and part of it was already planned out. It wasn’t so much about the WORK thing, it was the CHOICE thing. My future was, at least in part, not my CHOICE. And I don’t know why this created so much dissonance. But this was a true blindside. I didn’t see it coming. I felt like I lost my whimsy.

And so that is, in huge part, what led me to explore the Are vs. Should Problem. Why do we struggle between the person we ARE and the person we feel like we SHOULD BE? A big part of this SHOULD is related to having to work and to have a career. A huge part of our youth is being on a path that gets us to that point successfully and to a greater extent than our parents or grandparents. From early on we are chugging along a course related to some place we will be in the future that will steal our time.

And the best we can hope for is to love the career so we are not wasting our time. To sort of ‘double up’ and get paid AND find pleasure in our job.

Well, how many of us got there? How many of us arrived at the place where we can’t BELIEVE we’re getting paid to do what we love? How many of us LOVED spending all that time studying, and interviewing, and kissing up, and missing out. . . . How fun was that?

Sure, some people do find a path they enjoy and a career that fulfills them. But most of us don’t. And this investigation intends to figure out why it happened and how we can change it.

Full podcast episode download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/9074066-kew-episode-60-the-are-vs-should-problem-jobs-and-careers.mp3?download=true

Or please subscribe and review on your favorite podcast app.

Full Youtube video here: https://youtu.be/fyQyDC7FXUo

Preview KEW Episode 59: Are vs Should Challenges

In this Episode I want to take a minute and acknowledge a few things. First, that not everyone has the luxury of pondering the Are vs. Should Problem. In even bringing it up I am letting my white privilege show. I grew up with enough food, enough safety, enough clean water, and enough love to meet my basic human needs. As a result I have LUXURY time to gaze at my naval and ask questions like, ‘Who Am I‘, ‘Who’s Right?’, or ‘Who Tells My Story?”. To hundreds of millions of people, these types of questions are ridiculous and privileged. I just wanted to take a second and point that out – in case it isn’t obvious already.

Secondly, a lot of us are so stuck in our ‘Should’ that we never realize anything is wrong. Many of us accept our anxiety, depression, angst, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness as elements of ‘being human’ that we can’t do anything about. Many of us aren’t lucky enough to ever wonder ‘Who Am I’ or ‘Where did I go wrong?”. Of course some people couldn’t care less about these types of questions, but I wonder why some of us are lucky enough to be curious about it and others are doomed mediocrity or apathy.

This week I talk a little bit about why we struggle with healing and suggest that recognizing the Are vs. Should Problem is key to improving our lives. Though it isn’t easy, it can be fairly simple.

Full Episode, audio and video, coming here this Friday.

Preview KEW Episode 58: Fix the Broken System

Twenty years of training and working as an Ecologist and Evolutionary Biologist means I see everything as a system of interacting parts. I really can’t see the trees for the forest. When I look at a part, I see the system to which it belongs. It’s a curse.

An example is when I worked for a state environmental agency. I absolutely needed my manager to explain to me how my position fit in to the larger system (the agency). I needed to understand how the system worked, at least on a cursory level, to really understand what my job was. Even at one of my first jobs delivering pizza, it wasn’t until I had participated in the whole life cycle of phone order to ticket to cooking to delivery to balancing the drawer at the end of the night that the whole thing made sense and that I had a sense of purpose.

In the context of the Are vs. Should problem, the ‘system’ (and this could be many things, but here I mean American capitalism as an example) is waaaay to skewed toward the Should to the point that the Ares are steadily losing value. In this scenario, it becomes extra difficult to develop our Ares when the deck is stacked against it.

But more than that, the global system leaves too many people unable to even ponder the Are vs Should Problem. If you don’t have enough food, shelter, and medicine to keep you safe and healthy, you have no need to ponder life’s more philosophical problems. You care not for the Should nor the Are, as you are too busy trying not to die. This, I suggest, is a problem with the system that can potentially be solved by getting everyone more in their Are.

In other words, we need to look upstream at how the larger system works, and how it impedes our progress, to make it possible for us to change.

Full Episode this Friday right here at KEW http://www.chrisburcher.com

FLASHBACK! KEW Curiosity Interview Series 4: David McRaney of ‘You Are Not So Smart’

Man, that’s the best snippet up there. Watch it if you didn’t. It will tell you all you need to know about the type of guy David McRaney is.

I’m still not sure how this happened, but David McRaney agreed to talk with me about Curiosity, and here’s over an hour of his unique viewpoints. I still refer back to several things he said during this interview. David is the host of an awesomely educational (if not humbling) Podcast called ‘You Are Not So Smart‘, author of several books, and apparently plotting a new video format project. In all of his work, he removes the veils of error that encumber us bumbling humans.

And that’s not to say that David is pretentious or ‘holier than thou’. Quite the contrary. Though Mr. McRaney does point out the many fallacies and errors that humans make every day, he doesn’t blame us for not knowing better. Rather, David is a journalist who insists on helping us become more aware of ourselves. . . and each other.

David’s work, if I can be so bold to say, aims at making us better. By pointing out our faults he is not trying to sting, he is trying to induce growth. And, dare I say it, CURIOSITY.

David is also a really cool (and rare) combination of trained journalist (the old school kind who uses words like ‘beat’) and self educated psychologist. He is THE most thorough researcher I have ever met, and I was a scientist for 20 years.

So, yeah, I believe him when he says he has never been bored.

He also shares how the term ‘angst’ came to be.

This interview is full of wisdom. I hope you enjoy listening to David McRaney.

Link to original post with full audio and video links here: https://chrisburcher.com/2021/03/19/kew-curiosity-interview-series-4-david-mcraney-of-you-are-not-so-smart/