There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Hollywood mud-sling to get the juices flowing, as the latest Mickey Rourke-Robert De Niro dust-up proves.

Rourke demonstrates his SuperOptimist bonafides by

  1. thinking he’s in the same league as Bobby D. This type of blind self-belief that flies in the face of the facts continues to serve him well.
  2. calling De Niro out for an interview that may not have even taken place, and threatening him with grave embarrassment the next time he sees him. This display of power (albeit one of instagramming, rather than fists flying) was enough to spark a resurgence of interest in the actor, at least for 24 hours.
  3. attempting and succeeding in gaining attention on social media with a story that’s probably not true.
  4. continuing to be recognized by the world of show biz, despite changing his appearance with so much plastic surgery that he’s now basically unrecognizable.

We salute “the Mick” for wrestling another few column inches from the entertainment press, and wish him the best in his quest for respect from Sir Robert.

Another week, another 168 hours stuck in the same confines. And the end is not yet in sight: While hope reigns supreme, some experts believe this period of social distancing will last for months.

A human being can’t be faulted for experiencing a sense of restlessness, even claustrophobia, as one turn of the clock bleeds into the next. So the question becomes, “How can I make this period of sequestration a positive and rewarding experience ?” It’s not unheard of; some people have spent many years in isolation, having chosen that lifestyle.

One way is to step outside yourself and reframe your view of the current situation. Good things have already emerged from this short period in our history — a balm for the environment, reduced commuting time, inventive new ways to cook beans and rice. But perhaps the greatest blessing of all is that this can be the moment where we “go within,” turning our focus from the outside world to the wonderful adventure inside our own heads.

We think you’ll find inspiration in the examples set by some of the world’s foremost thinkers, who embraced solitude as a refreshing change from the frantic pace of the world. We humbly offer this audio recording of a guided meditation and seance performed at SuperOptimist headquarters to help you to embrace the moment at hand and do your best work now.*

 

(pictured above, from left to right: SuperOptimists Freida, Lars, Walter, Angelique, John, Lulu, Nathaniel and Martin)

This is merely a taste of what is out there for you to experience. We encourage you to continue the practice of summoning helpful spirits to your side. You don’t need a room full of friends to make contact; even while keeping your own counsel you can perform the ritual on your own.

And should you be interested in contacting the spirits we’ve befriended, the best way is to read their works. Once they see you delving into their pages, they’re more likely to pay you a personal visit.

 

 

 

Here’s to a memorable week (or eight) of inner travel, illumination and adventure!

*Special thanks to our resident medium, John Burlinson, for performing this valuable service for our readers.

 

Landing on the moon was the height of accomplishment for Apollo 11 astros Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, and we continue to celebrate their feat to this day. But government-sanctioned space pilots are not the only ones with the ability to launch themselves into orbit. With a bit of concentration, you can too!*

All you need do is develop your SuperOptimist Antigravity Practice (S.O.A.P.®). Simply stated, S.O.A.P is the ability to picture the world from above. It can be as simple as gazing down from the ceiling at an event transpiring in the room in which you’re sitting. Or as far-flung as having your gaze come from another galaxy entirely, to render the world as a mere blip in the cosmos.

By looking at existence as if standing on your own private observation deck – one that you can shift to any elevation – you gain an outlook on life that renders any situation manageable. Suddenly, the traffic jam you’re in becomes a curious abstraction, the endless meeting at the office a gathering of tiny heads all nodding in sequence, the blank piece of paper a simple square of white without the power to paralyze.

Consider the photos taken by NASA explorers. From their position high above our planet, it looks as if they’re peering into a microscope that can shrink an entire galaxy to the size of a postcard. This point of view has such a powerful impact on their consciousness that they speak of it expanding their understanding of existence.

But it’s not just astronauts who can develop this ability. Researchers operating in the social sciences term it “self-distancing,” and recommend it as a way to decrease stress and make difficult tasks easier. Just by leaning back in your chair when you’re working on something difficult, you can ease the burden and give yourself more perspective on the situation. Fully activate an abstract view of the problem at hand and your ability to solve it multiplies exponentially.

Now try this practice by imagining yourself far in the distant future, or hovering near the ceiling watching the proceedings below in a detached way, or even entering the body of a different person in your general vicinity. How would you describe this experience?

When stuck in a cubicle, or an airport, or an endless holiday gathering, it’s quite useful to teleport upward and gaze at the situation with aloofness. You can feel the tension disappear, your humor return, and an empathy arise for the people around you who are suffering through another exceedingly dull patch without the benefit of your gravity-defying abilities. Your SuperOptimist Antigravity Practice is an invisible spyglass that offers you perception beyond normal sight.Turn to it often, and enjoy a way of seeing that puts everything – yes, everything – into perspective.

*For complete instructions on venturing into space, we recommend “A Wise Man Taught Me How to Defy Gravity and Now I’ll Teach You.”

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh received acclaim for piloting The Spirit of St. Louis across the ocean — the first non-stop transatlantic flight between New York and Paris.

Yet two weeks before,  French aviators Charles Nungesser and François Coli also attempted the journey in an effort to win the Orteig Prize. Strapped into their byplane L’Oiseau Blanc, they took off from Paris for New York, only to disappear before arrival.  The remains of their plywood and canvas-covered plane have never been officially recovered.

A sad story of failure? The tragedy of a near-miss? On the contrary. To this day, the disappearance of L’Oiseau Blanc is considered one of aviation’s great mysteries.  Creating a great mystery is an amazing accomplishment in anyone’s book, and 80 years later their attempt continues to be the source of investigation and conjecture.

And how many pilots from yesteryear are celebrated with a rooftop restaurant in Paris named after their doomed byplane, featuring a delicious “pâté en croûte” complemented by artichoke and foie gras from Aveyron?  Further proof that bad outcomes do not equate with failure, but lead to fine dining opportunities in the world’s most romantic city.

As the SuperOptimist knows, it’s in the attempt that life is best measured.  All hail Nungresser and Coli, true heroes who tried their best!

New day, old patterns?

If you find yourself making an effort to bust out, yet already backtracking on this promise to yourself, you are not alone.  But rather than being pulled by the forces of same old same old, perhaps it’s time to deprogram yourself once and for all.

“But wait!” you might say. “I’m not part of a cult. Isn’t the term ‘deprogram’ going too far?” We may think we operate on the strength of our own free will, but the truth is, we’re all members of many cults:  The cult of the smartphone, the cult of mindfulness fads, the cult of artesan cheese boards, the cult of “what will my friends think of me if I opt out of all these cults.”

Still questioning your cult status?  Ask yourself, “Is that really me in those retouched Instagram photos, or is it a reflection of belonging to yet another social media cult?”

Here at SuperOptimist Central, we find ourselves similarly brainwashed, most prominently by the cult of Wall Street.  Like Pavlov’s dogs at the sight of a white lab coat, we’ve come to salivate whenever a stock ticker appears in our field of vision, followed by a hit of dopamine when the market is going up.  Of course, we suffer the tug of disappointment when a the numbers are in the red, and a full blown anxiety attack when the losses become precipitous.

We’ve been duped into thinking that our investments are the engine that will provide us the opportunity to one day be “free.”  Yet how much time do we spend being free, as opposed to counting and recounting the amount we need to survive into dementia-land?  You already know the answer.

Still, there’s nothing to be gained by flagellating ourselves; everyone becomes ensnared by the trickery that society imposes. Even the last of the self-sustaining hunter-gatherers, the Bushmen, now face societal pressure to “get with modern life.” Which shows you how insidious the pull of today’s cults can be.

So what can we do about our entrapment? It’s time to deprogram!  While there are experts who can perform interventions to cure you of brainwashing,  here’s a short guide to doing it yourself whenever you’re reaching for the lever in your Skinner box:

  1. Step out of the matrix.  Whether at work, with friends, or in the arms of your family, remember you exist in the middle of a vast scheme that has secretly created all your cravings and desires.  By detaching for a moment, you can see just how nuts the whole kit and kaboodle really is.  This allows you to reassert your power of authority over that next slice of strawberry cheesecake, new car smell, youth-enhancing cream, and mindless responsibility.
  2. Replace materialism with creativity. The best way to get even with cult-like vise grip is to make some art that has nothing to do with success, beautification, or binge-watching.
  3. Seek knowledge from experience, not the internet. All too often when in doubt, we turn to the latest reports, studies, or youtube videos to find out how to handle our problems.  This is another form of cult-like behavior.  Take a walk outside instead.  Instinctively, you know how to handle what you’re facing better than a whole day googling “why do I have body dismorphia when looking at pictures of Olga Sherer.”
  4. Read a good book. Here are some suggestions, but don’t take them. Go to the library and see what your hand touches first.

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” – Ottessa Moshfegh

“Killings” – Calvin Trillin

“Instant Zen” – Thomas Cleary

“Winnie-The-Pooh” – A.A. Milne

There’s lots more ways to deprogram yourself and reboot your internal mainframe.  But at least these can get you started when you find yourself being tickled by the vagaries of societal conditioning.  Here’s to a great year of disentanglement, and the new adventures it brings!

*It’s interesting that “cult” and “culture” sit close to one another in the dictionary.  When you wander into a Chelsea gallery and see a Jeff Koons play-doh sculpture for $20 million, you realize why.  Best not to confuse the two words or else you’ll join the cult of overpriced art owners!

If you find it getting stuffy in your home, office, car or — most especially — cranium, take a cue from Aldous Huxley and open some doors.

Now we don’t advocate taking drugs to break open the head.  Rather, we recommend literally opening the nearest door, walking out of the confines you are currently in and towards a meditation center, nature preserve, or art studio.* All are more genuine ways of breaking through to the other side, without the nasty side effects.

As Aldous said, “The ordinary waking consciousness…is by no means the only form of consciousness, nor in all circumstances the best. Insofar as he transcends his ordinary self and his ordinary mode of awareness, the mystic is able to enlarge his vision, to look more deeply into the unfathomable miracle of existence.”

So open all the doors.  And windows too.  Especially if there’s a nice breeze to be enjoyed.

*Huxley himself began practicing meditation years before he experimented with substances.