The source of gnashing clawing unkindness

“Simple living is arriving at the realisation that you never really own anything at all”

Mr Simple


Watch people chasing. Chasing land, buildings, cars, sex. Even marriage is our attempt to own or control another person (although we definitely don’t like to acknowledge that to ourself!). We are obsessed with chasing and owing. Pushing, striving. Being dishonest, unkind, even evil to own more than our neighbor and to impress our parents. This disingenuous and deceitful pantomime to attain, own and control anything and everything we see before us does not lead to satisfaction. We become bored and we throw it all away eventually or we die with nothing. All that scrambling, clawing and gnashing. It is just a diversion from a fulfilling life.

Become content within yourself. Quell your desire. Own nothing. Control nothing. Let things come and go like a passing rainstorm.

Focus on living well. On rich relations and meaningful moments. On giving. On caring. On becoming a better you that inspires all who come into your presence. By casting off your desire, your ego’s need to control, and open yourself up to the important things in life.

Casting aside desire for the material is like opening the spiritual floodgate to a better experience. You gain the space and time to become more connected and to do what matters.


The magic of melancholy

“Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad” 

Victor Hugo

Because I’ve frequently said that the purpose of life is happiness you might think that I never get glum. Nothing is further from the truth. I enjoy a good melancholy now and again. Everything in life is a duality after all. 

You can’t know day without night,up without down or happy without sad.

But, once you realise that melancholy is the flip side of happiness and that through this experience you are opening yourself to more joy you can come to enjoy sadness in a weird sort of a way.

Toss in the fact that most of the greatest art works, music, poems, novels and creative achievements are the direct result of a melancholic experience!

Without melancholy we wouldn’t know the breadth of our own happiness and we wouldn’t have so many beautiful things in this world to enjoy.

The Inverse in the Universe

“Being called weird is like being called Limited Edition. Meaning you’re something people don’t see that often. Remember that”


In my lifetime I’ve notice that a few inverse relationships hold.

#1: People paid the least care most about their companies. They take corporate credibility seriously and personally. They feel embarrassed when the company messes up. They work diligently to make sure things happen. Contrast that to the Leadership or the Board Members often paid 10 – 100 x the salary of the staff. These folk are usually ho-hum about everything aside from their bonus and often don’t appear to have even a basic grip of what the business actually does, how it runs or why things are done a certain way. They have little more than protected exposure to hand picked customers that give tightly managed feedback. This lets them set stupid directions and sit sipping whiskey dry while their staff bares the brunt.

#2: The less you make the more you save. The tendency when your income tightens is to lock down your expenses. As your income inflates you tend to think a few things here and there won’t matter. Next thing you know its lots of things and financially it does matter.

#3: The best looking people seem to have the least to offer. Being instantly accepted because of superficial beauty often leads to emotional atrophy. The most interesting characters to speak to, the ones that are really rich, complex and intelligent often look a little quirky. I suspect it is because they have never been instantly accepted on their looks alone and it’s caused them to stretch and expand their emotional and intellectual organs to become interesting people.

What inverse relationships have you noticed out there?

Guard your mind against negative programming

“Oh you hate your job? There’s a support group for for that. It’s called everybody!”

Graffiti on a wall

If you had your life to live again I bet you think it would go differently for you. You’d make better choices. You’d start out ahead of the game. Everything would go right. I like to think this way too, but truth is we’re the result of our consciousness, the choices and decisions we make and our emotional reactions to the situations around us. We’re also deliberately molded and shaped by society at large to be passive little worker bees that only live to shop. So chances are our lives would go exactly the same if we got a second shot at it.

Think about it like this. If you are reading this on a computer or an internet capable device then you probably have at leastt 1/2 of your life left. One third at a minimum. All the sunrises that you’ve seen so far don’t have any bearing on what you could do or what you could achieve in your remaining sunsets, but what are the chances that the second half of your life would deviate from the safe and predictable course you re on?

To make a shift you’d need to guard your mind against negative influences. You’d need to get around people that have already achieved the success that you are seeking. You’d need to learn to react differently to situations. You’d need to grow resistant to failure. You’d need to stop wasting your life on the internet, movies, TV, mobile phones or video games. You might need to get over your mental baggage. You may even need to restructure or terminate some of your closest personal relationships

Sure things could go completely differently for you, but you’ll need to kick the ride out of autopilot and take conscious control of your situation. Where this roller-coaster called life takes you in the next decade of your journey is completely up to you.

Smile laugh and keep on trucking

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Sometimes you get treated like shit at work. There doesn’t seem to be any relationship between how much you are paid and how many shit sandwiches your employer serves you. The natural reaction is to become annoyed or angry. Most people have to swallow their pride, calm down and quietly get right back to work. Its hard to find another job and its always better not to do anything rash.

About now you’re probably expecting a story about me telling a former employer to stick it. Sure I’ve done that, but that’s not the message. I try hard to avoid negativity. Negativity is inevitable and without experiencing fear, anger or sadness we could never really know joy, bliss or happiness. That said their is no point courting negativity. The environment we live in will programme our minds unless we consciously do it ourselves.

So when something riles me (usually work politics) instead of flying off the handle I find some distance. I examine my rage from a dispassionate 3rd party perspective. Almost like the anger is happening to someone else. Rage is a blinding emotion so this takes practice and maybe some help to trigger yourself into another reaction to anger.

In my experience I usually laugh. Most situations that enrage me are totally trivial. I don’t really care about the situation. I’m not really personally invested in it say in the same way that I might be if I owned the cafe rather than work in it. Getting some space between yourself and the anger lets you see how silly it all is. You also get the choice of moving on and forgetting it. Living with the moment instead of having your day ruined and then taking it home with you to infect your family that night.

Emotions are like a virus in that they like to leap from person to person and feed off them. I choose to infect people around me with happiness. I’m attracted to joyous people and happy environments. If I find myself in negative spaces I take it as my personal mission to cultivate enthusiasm, lightness and fun. I want to have a positive experience on people around me and I can’t do that if I allow myself to be captivated by purposeless emotional responses like anger.

Anger is our response to either frustration or a personal threat. There is no need to be frustrated. There are infinite means to achieve an objective. Likewise their is no actual danger. No real personal threat. Most workplace threats are benign. The personal threat is mind created and carries no element of physical danger.

So smile, laugh and keep on trucking my friend!

Illusions within the dream of life

“How strange when an illusion dies. It’s as though you’ve lost a child” 
Judy Garland


1. The Illusion Of Free Will

We all imagine ourselves living freely, yet most of the stuff that we do we do not choose it. We do it to avoid consequences rather than doing things purely for joy.

Solution: Do what you love.

2. The Illusion Of Time

We are the only animal to invent time and as a result we suffer the fear of running out of time for our entire adult life.

Solution: Cast off your watch.

3. The Illusion Of Identity

We feel that we have a clear cut identity based on specifically selected and carefully reconstructed memories and experiences. Our identity is just a mind phenomenon. It can’t be located within us. It is just a series of ideas.

Solution: Shed your self-limiting preconception of who you are and what you are capable of achieving.

4. The Illusion Of Separateness

Because we are not rooted like a tree we think we are separate from other people. Really we are like the apples on the tree. We are related to all the other apples through our shared relationship to the tree. And like the apple I guess we die when we are finally picked. The illusion of individuation is so pervasive that we think we can live separated from the natural environment or from each other.

Solution: Act from a perspective of unity.


The Idlers Guide to Unjobbing

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”

George Carlin

  People are either fascinated by my attitude to work or they find it abhorrent. I prefer to spend my time with the first group :). My personal experience has led me to conclude that paid work for big corporations or big government is unfulfilling and pointless. We only do it because we are paid and if we weren’t nobody would volunteer. But, what are the alternatives to the career salary – really? We all must suffer work my lovely Mother tells me. It is just how the world is. Most interesting to me is the observation that almost all of my colleagues, my friends, my family and pretty much every casual acquaintance that I meet moans about how much they hate their boss, their job or their company. The interesting bit is that very few people question the basic assumption that they are trapped in some form of salaried work. Too many people I fear unquestioningly accept that their job = their life. What if they just stopped turning up at their job? Could they find a way to feed their families? Ye Gods how to pay the bills! What might happen in the future without the security of the salary? So generally we don’t question our lot in life. We trudge on in our unhappy morning march to the office. We don’t seek alternatives. We completely ignore more exciting possibilities. I am here to tell you that there are ways to restructure our life and the only way to live contentedly is to align ourselves with  labours of love. Now I am not about to give you an exact guide specifically describing how you will unjob yourself, but I believe that I can share with you a few keys to the locks that bind you in subservience to the petty demands of your corporate overlords. We matriculate to safe, steady jobs because we are afraid and it is the fear created by the company that keeps us there and working hard without much supervision or the need for physical coercion. It is principally our fear of being fired that leads us to meekly suffer the indignities of the career. Our fear of the future is also an unnecessary anchor that ties us down in boring work. Because we are afraid (taught and constantly reminded) it will be better to dip our toes into unjobbing before going cold turkey. Far less of a shock than leaping off the cliff. By that I mean keep your job, but while you are still employed try your hand at every cottage industry that excites you. Make your Grandma’s secret recipe jam and sell it at the craft market on Saturday. If demand exceeds supply quit one day of salaried work to pick, boil and jar. Teach night school to adult learners on topics you are passionate about (playing the guitar, photography for beginners, vegan cookery). Forget whether or not you are qualified to teach. If you love it and spend lots of time doing it you will be an engaging teacher that delivers value to your students.

So Key One: Build up to a river by monetising your passions. Get out of the habit of thinking large single income. Instead think about creating small streams of income that combine to form the river you require. Use your money to create money and turn your mind to finding fun ways to get paid to play. I have found that I don’t care that I get paid below minimum wage teaching children how to surf in summer. I would do it for free. The fact I am paid is all the merrier. For me the test on unjobbing yourself is that you find it hard to decide where your life stops and your work starts. In growing surplus vegetables and seedlings I gain food for my family, a small income from my neighbours and all while enjoying the outdoors, pottering about, and caring for my children. Children love dirty hands!

Key Two: Pick the appropriate financial scale for your ventures Wh atever endeavour you engage in look to thoroughly test it. Test, test, test. Never stop testing it for free (or at very low input cost) before sinking your life savings. In fact I strongly support notable economist E.F Schumacher’s contention that individuals should have the means to create sustainable income on the equivalent of a year’s salary. What that means is that you should only start up your own business (a café, a digital photo printing booth, or a mountain bike guiding company) by spending no more than the take home earnings that you would receive in a single year from your current salary. Any venture bigger than that is beyond your current means and is not worth the risk.

Key Three: Start small and prove to yourself that unjobbing is viable Next point. You don’t need to completely forgo your career. I have enjoyed being part-time while unjobbing. I get a nice salary. I don’t get pulled into most of the corporate bullshit and because I am not a full-timer I seem to have escaped extra duties as I have shown no interest in the dangling carrot (promotion) and the empty promises therein.

Key Four: It is very hard until you right size your desire Be thrifty and minimalistic. Forfeit your material desires. At the core of simple living you must learning to be a peace with yourself. Happiness comes inside out not outside in and that nothing out in the world will compensate. If you really adopt this view then your cost of living and hence the money that you need to find each week is quite manageable.

Key Five: You will work longer and harder for way less money, but trust me it is worth it! No doubt it sounds like I recommend giving up an easy and secure salary to work 12 hours in menial low paid work. Well this is true, but for much of my day my work is my play and my play is my work. For example: Would I get on my mountain bike and drop off some rock for free? Absolutely! The fact that it was captured by a photographer taking shots for a magazine (riding technique article) is just good life management in my opinion. If his images ever sell I will receive a royalty. The other 99% of the riders in the park, many far better looking and more skilled than I, go unpaid for their fun. The difference is that I am inquisitive and I made a few phone calls to mates of mates. Do I make money from this regularly? Well no, but my availability is a big draw card for this cameraman and I guess that my rates are far lower than other non-celebrity professional bike models (if such people exist). I garden and make money. I don’t garden for money. Same thing with my bike. So my advice – start small, ease in gently. Keep your job as you unjob. Look at the things that you love to do and see if you could find a way to be paid for them. Explore your social networks.

Key Six: Agree to offers. Figure out how to do it later. Most of all agree to do things that there is no reasonable basis for you to take on and then learn how to do them later. I meet many people that I am certain are capable of doing any number of things better than me. The difference is that I am out there doing them while they are worried about what people might think of them if they fail.  I fail plenty, but I wake the next morning to new possibilities and a clear conscience. Failure is just learning in drag. As I said your path to unjobbing will be unique. To help in that process of discovery here are some of the things I’ve made money from in the couple of years. Please don’t ask about paying tax! Yet more robbers at our door!

Teaching: Woodwork, Office Suite, Surfing, Basic Bike Mechanics and Skills, Public Health (part of practicum at a med school)

Nature: Vegetables, Fruits, Native bushes, Trees, Plants, Chutney, Jam, Seeds  

Hobby Jobs (employed and self employed): Civil Engineering office based, Cafe Hand, Labourer (carpet laying and electrical work), Handyman (embarrassingly poor one indeed), Child Minder (since I do it for free anyways), Bike Mechanic/Shop Assistant, Graphic Designer, Technical Writer, Bike Courier, Model (of sorts!), Fruit Picker, Holiday Home Cleaner (free long weekend accommodation at holiday destinations – yippee), Landscaping, Planner (Transport), Painter, Gibstoppers assistant, Personal Trainer (run morning boot camps, teach running biomechanics etc).

Investment: Rental Income, Dividends from stock, EFTs, Interest on cash and term deposits. Prior to this small business holdings.

Other stuff: Event Management, Marshaling, Shoe maker (very unprofitable!!), Delivery Driver, Library Labourer/Shelver, Artist (sell at markets), Online Merchant (specialty food items, and unsuccessfully trying to sell upcycled furniture) …quite a bit of other stuff but you get the idea.

Supplementary questions – Aren’t you worried about your retirement years? No I hope to be able to do many of these things well into my golden age and I actually think the risk of losing all income from a salary job source at age 50 (well before planned) is scarier and more likely that not being able to earn like I do. If you can do many things you can always find something. Not true of the micospecialised professional. How do you find the time? Only sleep six hours and sell your television.