Dean Clough

October 17, 2022

Portico Darwin: More Dr. Phil (Darwin)


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Happy Monday.  Let me start your week with a suggestion, in case you're still deciding what to do this Fall.

You're welcome, and with that out of the way . . .

I was humbled (it's true) by the feedback I got regarding my post on gratitude, and the story behind it. 

That blog, the one about lowering my news and social media intake, and today's are 3 legs to a new stool, upon which I'm trying to base my retirement.  Did I just write that?

Because I'm actually being serious.  Yes, again.

In addition to being more grateful and moderating my media intake, I'd also like to tame the voice in my head.  No, we don't need restraints or a rubber room quite yet.  The concept was discussed on this In Plain English podcast, which featured the author of a book called "Chatter", Ethan Kross.  

The podcast is entitled "Why the Voice Inside Your Head Can Sound Like a Jerk."  Bingo.  

It's that voice inside many of us that does the second guessing.  The grinding on things in the past.  Holding on to anger.  And my fave:  wondering about what's going to happen next, known by some as "anxiety".
True story:  this hit its peak for me during our recent trip to Italy and Austria.  I would work myself up into a literal lather (Arthur calls it "sweating like Sinatra"), anxious about where and how we clear customs, where and how we board our plane or train, where and how we store our luggage on the train, etc.  And are we taking a cab or an Uber from the airport?  What if there's not one there?!

So when I got back, I found and bought a small book (while looking at "Chatter") on Amazon.  It has 5,000 5 star reviews, and is #134 (!) among all of the books there.  The book is called "Stop Overthinking", by Nick Trenton. 

Here are my takeaways.  Warning:  this drivel might not be any better than my old Trump diatribes.  But maybe this is more productive?

When Stress Occurs
The author claims that when confronting a stressful situation - like the "first class" train compartment I wrote about recently - one should use the 4 "A's"

  1. Avoid - can you simply not deal with it at all? (go to a different car?)
  2. Alter - can you tweak the situation so it's better? (put on noise-canceling headphones?)
  3. Accept - if the stress isn't going away (imagine what Innsbruck will be like in 45 minutes?)
  4. Adapt - "make lemonade from lemons" - (look out the window at the gorgeous scenery?)

When Panic Occurs
Frankly, my airport and train meltdowns were more akin to panic attacks, vs. simply being stressed.  My mind starts rolling, I imagine all kinds of scenarios and off I go.  I liken it to a flywheel. 

But here's a great technique from the book to short-circuit the whole thing.  It's about remembering your 5 senses:

Notice 5 things you can see . . . 4 things you can touch . . . 3 things you can smell . . . 2 things you can hear . . . and 1 thing you can taste.  Panic gone in about 30 seconds.

If that's too complicated, the book has an easier technique, for less intense moments.  Simply replace what's in your mind with a vision of one of your favorite places, when you've been at your happiest.  Something like this.
The Calm Manifesto
The book's overall approach is encapsulated by the author in what he calls The Calm Manifesto.  It's about placing your focus on . . .

  • what you can control, vs. what you can't control;
  • what you can do, vs. what you can't do;
  • what you do have, vs. what you don't have; and
  • what you need, vs. what you want.

Hokey?  You betcha.  I don't give a darn' tootin'. 

And oversharing?  Probably - but I'm trying to be more grateful, more selective in my media consumption, and less anxious.  Is there a fucking problem? 

If so, please:  let me call someone for you.
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OMFG it's a good thing I've been working on my mental game, because the newswire-like Hunter Deuce sent in a SHOCKING story.

I came across this article and Albany was named New York State's best city to live in (and 21st best overall in the US):

Albany Ranked Best Place to Live in NY

But in the interest of being "Fair & Balanced" I give you "The Simpsons" and their opposing viewpoint on upstate NY. 

This is one of Hunter's finest offerings.  I don't know which is funnier:  the concept of Albany being the 21st best place in the US to live, or The Simpsons video.  Because that Simpsons video is pretty f'ing funny.  And JFC there are 21 better places to live in SF alone vs. Albany!

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


Of course:  it's "The Tourist", by Radiohead.  What else could it be?

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.