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Inside The SuperOptimist Guide to Unconventional Living, you’ll find an eclectic assortment of experiments and activities to help you challenge the steady drip-drip-drip of pre-programmed thought that humans have developed over the eons. 

With estimates now placing 89% of our brain function as habitual reactions to circumstance — checking our phones, working at repetitive tasks, binge-watching television, wearing shoes — The SuperOptimist Guide is designed to upend social constructs that have become calcified in homo sapiens. 

By adopting a practice of “daily self-provocation,” this book encourages the reader to explore big questions, gaze into other dimensions, and seek out new adventures — with positivity, humor and spirit intact. 

Kirkus calls the book “Playfully counterintuitive…At every turn, Whitten and Morton vigorously urge their readers to shake off old habits and embrace new ways of thinking. An idiosyncratic but ultimately uplifting approach to life and all its complications.”

This new volume should appeal to anyone attracted to creative pursuits, philosophical musings, white magic, Zen Buddhism, transcendentalism, left-field thinking, right-brain experiments, or post-humanism. And amusement. That too.

How many times do human beings set themselves up to fail? One universal example is the classic “Change on a Dime” plan. “I’m going to quit smoking today.” “I’m going to lose 25 pounds in a week.” “I’m going to write a best-selling suspense novel, sell it for $300,000, pay off my credit card debt, move the family to a warmer climate, and really start living! By next month!”

Setting unrealistic goals is a sure way to drive yourself into a deep crevice. Rather than look realistically at the situation, we crank ourselves up for a major achievement, step in a pothole right out of the gate, and go back to the “I’m a loser who’s never going to get out of Fayetteville!” whine. Two packs a day and an extra slice of bundt cake follow shortly thereafter.

The SuperOptimist view? Maybe quitting smoking is a noble goal, but if it will cause you to kill your spouse, you should put it on the back burner. Maybe that quart of vanilla fudge nut swirl is what makes a night of insomnia tolerable. Maybe anonymous phone sex works. See where we’re going here?

Rather than set yourself up for complete and utter failure, how about turning the tables on that reluctant inner mountain climber with the rusted set of crampons? Today, set yourself up for major SuperOptimism — by not setting any goals at all! Suddenly, anything you do will seem like an accomplishment. Getting out of bed! Putting the tea kettle on! Picking up the phone when it buzzes!

Who knows, without the pressure of a self-imposed Pike’s Peak, you just might start writing that novel and forget about the long naps and bundt cake for awhile. You never know until you start lowering the bar!

Chart 2: A good day’s work.

 

Opening Day is normally associated with the beginning of the major league baseball season, bringing a sense of hope that at the very least, sub-freezing temperatures are behind us and spring has finally arrived.

But we see no reason why the pastime should only be relegated to balls and strikes. Here are some suggestions for celebrating opening day outside of a ballpark, tavern, or Best Buy electronics store.

Open a window. Not only can open windows boost mood by letting in some fresh air, the very act can be good for the environment. Indoor air pollution has been described by the EPA as a primary environmental health problem. In addition, the American College of Allergists states that 50 percent of all illnesses are caused by polluted indoor air. So grab that sash and fling wide the windows. You’ll be glad you did.

Open a jar of sauerkraut.  In addition to going great on a hot dog (the classic opening day meal of baseball enthusiasts), sauerkraut has amazing health benefits that might actually negate the harmful qualities of the frankfurter.

Open your “third eye.” Known as the ‘Ajna chakra’, the third eye is a source of intuitive wisdom and has the potential to lead you to the highest form of intelligence. Try some third eye meditation, with eyes closed, focused on the area between your two actual eyes. Once you start seeing a bluish-white light, you’re halfway there to healing your chakras and getting in touch with a further dimension of existence.

Open your browser and search for “Smead Jolley”.  There’s nothing more enjoyable than discovering arcane knowledge about some of the more colorful players of yesteryear, Smead being one of them. Jolley was an outfielder in the 1930s who once committed three errors on a single play.* But did Smead let his ineptitude in the field get him down? No! After getting dumped from the majors due to his poor fielding skills, he spent the rest of his career hitting the cover off the ball in the Pacific Coast League.  Back then, the PCL paid their established players in a manner commensurate with the majors, so Smead did okay for himself.  Not only that, he was inducted into the PCL Hall of Fame in 2003.  Oh, and his nickname was “Smudge.” You can’t ask for more from a ballplayer.

*First he let a ball roll through his legs in the outfield. After allowing it to carom off the wall, the ball rolled back between his legs in the opposite direction. When he finally recovered the ball, he heaved it over the third baseman’s head and into the stands. **

**Although the ump took pity on him and only scored it two errors.

 

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd. — Miguel de Cervantes

That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another. — Adlai E. Stevenson

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.  — Steve Jobs

When someone calls you a fool, do you take offense? Or thank them for their perspicacity?

The wise among us realize that our foolish nature is something to be embraced — and as often as possible. The godmother of show business reinvention, Cher, says, “Unless you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”

Elon Musk was thought to be a fool to the 10th power when he began an electric car company from scratch, and a reusable rocket ship company after that. Both agree that you must free the wild child inside you rather than timidly hide beneath a veneer of “respectability” if you want to make your mark.

So the question is, how will you embrace foolishness today? What pranks are you planning to shake up the status quo? What could you do tomorrow, next week, or next month that will have the office, locker room, or family den buzzing with conversation (after the shock wears off)? And is one day really enough to play the fool card, or should we advocate for more time to really explore this vitally important side of life?

At the very least, the United States could follow the example set by the city of Odessa in Ukraine.  Here, the first of April is a holiday, complete with a festival that includes a large parade, free concerts, street fairs and performances. Festival participants dress up in a variety of costumes and walk around the city playing pranks with passersby.*

Based on the ideas generated by the fools among us, one could argue that businesses giving their employees the day off to act foolishly could wind up generating the brainstorms that lead to a better planet for all. (Or a 22% boost in productivity, one of the two.) Let’s try it and see what happens.

*In 18th Century Scotland, they did Odessa one better, as the April Fools tradition was a two-day celebration, starting with “hunting the gowk” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by “Tailie Day,” which involved pranks played on people’s backsides, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. Not that we want to give you any ideas.

 

Jeff Bezos is a failure.

There, we’ve said it. This may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, where the amount of money a person has is the measurement by which people are judged. But anyone building a 411-foot yacht that burns 132 gallons of marine diesel an hour  has obviously got issues (though apparently the environment isn’t one).*

Maybe that’s because poor Jeff and his fellow clueless billionaires don’t have the capacity for healthy introspection. Or the ability to transcend the material world to find even greater happiness within. If only Beezos had turned to omphaloskepsis, he might have saved himself $500 million — and be looked on as a real success.

Omphaloskepsis is another word for navel-gazing.  While this pursuit has gotten a bad rap from the money-changers as a useless waste of time, that is only because they’re not aware of its transcendent power, both as an aid to meditation and a way to contemplate the vast cosmos from which all life is connected.

After all, the navel literally represents the location of one’s birth, since it’s made up of scar tissue from the spot where the umbilical cord was attached. By focusing the attention there, you can experience a rebirth of the spirit as often as you like. For centuries, many seekers of higher truth have practiced gazing at the navel to induce a trance-like state.  The Hesychasts, a sect of “quietists” from c.AD 1050, believed that through deep contemplation of the body, the divine light of God could be seen.

Yoga practitioners know the navel as the site of the nabhi chakra, which they consider a powerful center of the body. It’s also a place to exercise “gut feelings,” like if you’re contemplating building a superyacht in Rotterdam and haven’t given thought to whether it will fit under the Koningshaven Bridge, now considered a national monument.

*”Eieren gooien naar superjacht Jeff Bezos ( Throwing eggs at Jeff Bezos’ superyacht)” is a call to the international egg-tossing community to bombard Bezos’ boat on June 1. More than 20,000 people have signed up to participate thus far.

Optimist Day was yesterday, yesterday being the first Thursday in February. You would think we’d have taken to the streets, tossing confetti and dancing the samba. But we’re not optimists, we’re SuperOptimists. As such, we celebrate our contrarian view of optimism at off-peak times, when there are no lines at our favorite restaurant and a seat available on the M5 bus.

The Friday after Optimist Day is a good time to reflect on the difference between plain old ordinary optimism and our supercharged, quantum state belief system. Herewith, we offer the following explanation, culled from the transmitters’ original manuscript, to clarify what is meant — in broad terms — by SuperOptimism.

In the Figure 1 diagram , you will see the mental states that are commonly experienced by human beings. They range from a state of despair to a state of joy. The “gates” to these opposites, joy and despair, are optimism and pessimism.

Hence, the three working definitions which help us to better understand the significance of placing the word “Super” before the word “Optimist.”

Optimist: One who usually expects a favorable outcome.

Pessimist: One who usually expects a negative outcome.

SuperOptimist: One who has learned the mental discipline to reframe any situation into a favorable outcome.

Therefore, we may extrapolate the following: If the situation is good, the SuperOptimist reframes it as “even better.” If the situation seems bad, negative, gloomy, sad, doomed, or awful, then the SuperOptimist reframes that so-called “bad” situation into one that is just as “good” as a good situation. Or better.

Sometimes it will seem very difficult to reframe an event (parking ticket, bad haircut, influenza, divorce) in a SuperOptimistic way, but fortunately for us, humans are very good at building habits into habitual behavior. Simply stated, if you can make a habit of being a SuperOptimist for 5 minutes today, you can be one for 10 minutes tomorrow, and 20 the next day.

 

 

 

One could argue that Martin Luther King was the most important political activist in modern American history.

He was certainly the most hated man in America during the 1960s, for railing against the inequities suffered by African-Americans at the hands of whites, advocating for a guaranteed basic income for all people (60 years before Andrew Yang) and stumping for a redistribution of wealth (beating Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren to the punch).

In other words, the guy was a stone-cold radical who shook up a country coming out of the “Happy Days” of the 1950s.

So you might think that Martin was a dour sort. After all, when he wasn’t exhorting millions to rise up and claim their share of the American Dream, he was busy protesting the Vietnam War and fighting consumer exploitation by industry.

But did you know, five minutes before James Earl Ray gunned him down, Dr. King was busy having a pillow fight? This according to Andrew Young, who was with him that day in Memphis.

As all SuperOptimists know, it’s important to let off steam by hitting one of your trusted personal advisors with a hammer blow of feathers when they least expect it.

King was also known for laughing at his posse for jumping in front of him in crowds, ostensibly to protect him but, in King’s eyes, more likely trying to get their pictures in the paper.

May we continue to humanize the people we venerate as saints, while not judging their mirthful side as being at odds with the seriousness of their purpose.

 

 

At any given moment, the entire fabric of reality could be perched on your fitful consciousness and the world is only manifest because of you. Since you can’t be certain which moment it is, you are best served by acting as if every moment is that moment of great importance.

Example:

You’re shopping at Costco and bang your cart into a terrorist saboteur disguised as a chubby suburban housewife. You give him a look as if it was his fault you were crowding the aisle. This frightens him into thinking Federal Agents are keeping tabs on his every move and he abandons his plan to blow the place sky-high. You have just saved the world from a terrorist attack by shopping at Costco. You may never know you thwarted a nefarious plot – but when you believe your existence is vital to the planet, even small actions become extra special acts of valor in the bigger scheme of things.

Also, remember what Tolstoy said: “The most important person is the one you are with in this moment.” Given that recent circumstances have many of us spending more time alone, you need to factor yourself into that equation.

Quit vaping. Start making big money in the stock market. Quit dating losers. Start learning how to code.
2022 is here, and with it the pressure to halt all our bad habits, right all our wrongs, improve our posture and lose 15 pounds.
But is attempting the impossible the best way to start the day, much less the decade? We think not. In our view, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ringing in the new year by eating an extra helping of gourmet chocolate while watching reruns of “30 Rock”.  (If that’s what you enjoy doing, of course.)
Here’s the resolution the SuperOptimist always adopts, whether it’s New Year’s Day, Arbor Day, All Saint’s Day, or just another Wednesday: “All is well, life is swell, and I’m good just the way I am.”
By starting the new year accepting every screw-up, flaw, and mistake as the price of being human, you have a 130% better chance of enjoying the first days of the new year.  So ignore all those life coaches with their exhortations to improve everything about yourself.  If they want to drink celery juice and get on the scale five times a day, that’s their problem, not yours!
Remember, the definition of resolution is “the firm decision to do or not do something.” Why not make a firm decision to make no decisions about your future, and enjoy the first month of the year without putting undo pressure on yourself?
By starting 2020 this way, you might find this turns out to be “your year” after all.*
*If you are compelled to figure out how to improve your life in 2022, we suggest looking back on what worked in 2021.  Here’s a short quiz to separate the pluses from the minuses. By doubling down on the good stuff, you’ll assure yourself of more personal victories in the coming year.
MY PERFORMANCE REVIEW 2021
 What was the best thing I experienced in 2021?
 What was a huge waste of my energy?
 What activity gave me the most pleasure?
 What was my bravest failure?
 What can I try that I haven’t?
 What error can I avoid now that I see it?
 What did I fear in 2021 that I survived?
 Did I handle the bad shit well?
 How many times did I feel joy?
 Who did I like hanging out with?
 Who would I prefer never seeing again?
superoptimist half full

While philosophers can spend an eternity wondering whether a glass of water is half empty or half full, the SuperOptimist sees it for what it is — a partially filled glass waiting to be sipped. 7 1/2 glasses more, and he will be well-hydrated for the day. 4 more after that, and he’s super-hydrated!

The philosophy behind the SuperOptimist glass view? If you don’t need to worry about it — then don’t! Let a committee of experts, professors, and doctoral candidates try to answer the unanswerable. Even the best minds can get stumped on the toughest problems, like these:

1. Why are there no words that rhyme with “orange”?

2. What color are things in the dark?

3. If Earth were struck by a giant meteor, who would survive and what would happen to real estate prices?