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Many artists, writers, and inventors come up with their best ideas in the morning. Why? Because that’s when the caffeine takes hold.

SuperOptimist findings suggest that moderate consumption (4-5 cups per day) of caffeine is not only preferable to a macchiato-free diet, it’s mandatory if you expect to stay upbeat through the daily perturbations of human existence. You’ll benefit from improved cognitive performance, alertness, and concentration. Moreover, caffeine is an ergogenic aid — a substance that improves exercise capacity. And since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) removed caffeine from its list of banned substances in 2004, you can feel free to push the performance barrier.

How many cups of coffee are “too much”? Nobody knows for sure. Your body is your laboratory; be a self-diagnostician after your next heavy intake and take it from there.

*Lungo: the longer version of the Espresso shot. Lungo translates to ‘long’ in Italian, usually 60ml in total volume. Lungos typically utilise a brew ratio of around 1:3, so if 7 grams of dried coffee was used, this would produce a Lungo weighing approximately 21 grams. To achieve this a Lungo usually has double the amount of water than an Espresso and double the extraction time, approximately 50 to 70 seconds.

The soul. The sole. This is not a coincidence. Almost every major internal organ can be affected by placing direct pressure on certain areas of the feet. Yet we encase our tootsies in leather or nylon, and let them fester in a dark, sweaty place for most of the day.

One of the best natural massages you can give your long-suffering feet is to walk barefoot through grass. Here you’ll find a nonaddictive mood stabilizer called “herbacinium.” Since each foot has thousands of itty-bitty fibrous nerve endings, soaking the herbacinium through your balls, heals, and toes and into the bloodstream can lower your heart rate by up to 14%. So the relaxation isn’t just psychological, it’s also physical.

In addition, by taking off your shoes, your feet can breath. And if they’re breathing, chances are, so are you.

October brings greater awareness of the dark side, with horror films and costumed rituals expressing the madness that lies within.  Yet as grotesque figures lead our public discourse and ghoulish creatures blare at us from screens large and small, we don’t need Halloween to remind us that human existence is one spooky ride.*

Still, this celebration of witches and goblins does offer a timely reminder of a more intimate pursuit: the care and feeding of one’s personal demon.  As opposed to the supernatural characters of mythology or Hollywood’s evildoers, personal demons are our own concoctions, individually generated and having no independent existence outside our own bag of skin.

One’s demon can arrive at any moment, day or night, though being a demon, he often decides to reveal himself at the most inopportune times — particularly the wee hours when one is desperate for rest before facing another day at the grindstone.  So when your demon surfaces, what is the appropriate response? Fear? Anxiety? A sedative?

It’s helpful to understand that most demons simply want attention. Much like a  faithful dog being excited at the prospect of his master returning home, the demon has patiently waited for a quiet moment to say hello. Why shouldn’t he be excited? After being cooped up inside our subconscious during the day, a day we’ve spent performing repetitive tasks, pushing aside our own desire in favor of “doing the right thing”, we’ve given the demon plenty of openings for a conversation.

So let’s say you wake up in a cold sweat and your demon is standing next to the bed, leering down at you. Some would advise you to confront your demon and attack him before he attacks you. Not a good idea. That would only serve to hurt your demon’s feelings. After all, he’s made a perilous journey from the depths of Hades just to see you.  No, this business of “battling your demons” is a falsehood, since it’s the equivalent of fighting yourself.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s more advisable to embrace, not fight, your demon.  This way you can integrate your Jungian shadow with your public face, and ultimately gain strength from the experience. Here are a few suggestions for how to treat your demon the next time he pays a visit:

  1. Greet your demon warmly, like you would an old friend. Remember, your demon is an extension of your personality, and there’s no reason to be frightened of yourself. Really, he’s like a relative, so invite him into your domicile the way you would a brother. Take his cape and top hat and hang them nicely in the closet. Offer him the good chair and let him prop his feet on the coffee table, even if they’re caked with grime.
  2. Ask the demon what’s on his mind. He’ll probably be in a foul mood at first; usually demons arrive in a snit so let him rant for awhile. You may find him lashing out at you regarding your personal failings, or criticizing your latest mistakes at the job or with the family. Don’t take it personally; be patient and remain detached. Eventually he’ll let you get a word in edgewise. Meantime, compliment him on his appearance despite his pale complexion. This should bring color to his cheeks.
  3. Offer your demon sustenance. Something sweet is preferable: cake, pie or ice cream are welcome choices. Note: this is often thought to be the same as giving yourself license to indulge. While it’s true that you get the benefit of a tasty treat, the dessert will also help take the edge off the demon. Make sure you give him extra whipped cream.
  4. While he may ask for it, avoid giving the demon alcohol or narcotics! Demons tend not to react well when mixing chemicals with their volatile personalities. It could cause the demon to lash out and place you in a compromising position. You want to soothe the demon, not trigger him.
  5. Take your shadow self out for a stroll. Demons love to go for walks, especially at night. Where would it like to go? To the casino? The saloon? An all-night bakery? Rather than acquiesce to the demon’s choices, calmly discuss the pros and cons of each location. Meanwhile, just keep walking. Fresh air and exercise will do you both good. Note: if you live in a sketchy neighborhood, one can simply pace slowly around the apartment with the demon, even in circles. Like a pet, they’re just happy to be by your side.
  6. Demons enjoy spirited conversation, not just an internal dialogue. One way to get their full attention to speak out loud to them. If you are out in public, this may appear as if you’ve lost your mind. If you’re bothered by what others may think, simply strap on a Bluetooth headset and you’ll look like every other smartphone junkie in the midst of an “important phone call.”     Ultimately, by showing the demon respect rather than anger, impatience or fear, you’re helping yourself mend fences, soothe your soul, and unify your bifurgated subconscious. Befriend your demon and he will befriend you!

*If you are going out trick-or-treating this year, we suggest avoiding the top four costumes for adults (witch, vampire, zombie, pirate).  Rather, dress as your own personal demon.  It’s more creative, and he’ll credit you for the effort.

 

 

Everyone’s always on the alert for “the next big thing.” Yet a key to staying sane and at peace is to notice and appreciate the little idea. Don’t ignore the fork at the table when you sit down to eat; pick it up and admire the ingenuity it took to craft such a simple, yet perfect, tool.

The same goes for salt and pepper shakers, the butter dish, and the water glass. Once you begin treasuring under-appreciated objects like these, it’s only a matter of time before you think of some simple, yet vital, invention that could be as popular as the fork or salt shaker. Perhaps a combination fork and salt shaker, all in one! The salt-fork? The forshaken? The salforker!

What new object can be made from these common parts?

 

Once you have an interesting idea, don’t forget to patent it. You never know where the future might lead. And that’s one of the first questions Mr. Wonderful asks on Shark Tank.

For example, look at this brand new gizmo that Ford has created for a power-extendable exhaust outlet. An ingenious, yet simple, improvement for off-road vehicles. Further proof that it’s not just the big items that could use a new twist.

In any new or daring task, it’s not a bad idea to charge ahead as fast as possible. Leonardo da Vinci believed that it was essential for artists to work quickly to capture the “first flash of inspiration.” Ralph Waldo Emerson concurred, saying, “In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.”

It is also the advice of the Japanese master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who described the “sekka no atari” — or “lightning strike” — as charging in with strong legs, strong body, and strong arms combined for maximum speed. As he plunged into battle, Musashi had no time for worry, fear, doubt, or regret. He relied on having mushin, or “empty mind,” to detach from whether he’d emerge victorious or chopped in half. Foreseeing the possible outcomes could serve no practical purpose. The truth would be revealed through action. So stop foreseeing and just go, go, go!

NOTE: This secret stands in complete opposition to statements elsewhere on this site. Further proving that contradiction is not feared, but embraced, by the true SuperOptimist who savors a complex universe.

It’s a documented fact that during the seasons known as fall and winter, the decreased amount of sunlight can lead some people to feel down, dopey, and lethargic. It’s called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD. What’s not known to many SAD sufferers is a readily available antidote that can relieve many of their symptoms. And that is to jump out of bed, run out the door, and get some pie.

Eating pie has the unique ability to distract you from the demons of darkness who come knocking at your chamber door. Pie also goes great with coffee, yessir. There are literally hundreds of pies to bake and eat: here’s a short list to get your mouth watering:

Apple pie

Cherry pie

Banana cream pie

Pumpkin Gingersnap pie

Rhubarb Meringue pie

White Russian pie

NOTE: Alternatively, to lift your spirits, you can always take a whole pie and throw it at someone, preferably a politician who’s not telling us the truth or a public figure who is woefully misinformed.

It’s been a week since Mercury went retrograde* and things are all out of whack. At least, that’s what the SuperOptimist keeps hearing from many quarters. Meetings cancelled, elevators stuck, phones malfunctioning, promises broken, limbs broken, blood clots revealed — it seems everyone we know is being affected.

In fact, just trying to type this post, our laptop went on the blink and we had to hit “Restart.”

We have been warned not to take on any new projects, or buy major appliances, or sign contracts…in fact, it’s probably best to just stay indoors with the covers pulled over our heads until the bad juju passes. After all, just look at the people we know who have been felled by the mighty gods of astrology.

This book on astrology is quite intriguing.

But there’s a positive aspect to the zodiac zeitgeist that people fail to take into consideration: Mercury retrograde is a great excuse to not do anything we don’t want to do. We look for this kind of rationale all the time. Now we have one!

We can turn down the cocktail party invitation from that colleague who bores us to tears. We can claim “computer trouble” for continuing to miss the deadlines the boss gave us. While we’re at it, we can postpone doing chores around the house and cancel our plan to wade into weekend traffic to visit the relatives.  It could all go haywire, so better to leave well enough alone.

Probably wise to take to the hammock and stay there.

Understanding that 90% of people on the planet know their astrological signs, and 70% read their horoscopes regularly, there’s a wide berth for saying “Christ I wish I could ______________ , but you know, it’s Mercury Retrograde.”**

(Meanwhile, if some weird shit happens to you during this period, look at it as a positive: this planetary event is drawing attention to some part of your life that you’ve been ignoring. Rather than avoid the issue, embrace the upheaval and see if you don’t come out better for it on the other side.)

Can’t hurt to read this either.

*Every four months or so, the planet Mercury goes into “apparent retrograde motion,” where planets appear to temporarily reverse the direction of their orbit from the point of view of Earth. And yet, since Mercury is 48 million miles away and often obscured by sunlight, no one really sees this occur — even astrologers employing a 3 inch Newtonian reflector telescope with 300 mm focal length lens. 

**This particular cycle ends on October 18th.  So plan accordingly.

Why is it that the girl or boy of our dreams almost never materializes, yet we can always attract somebody who we’re not the slightest bit interested in? Why is it when we’re in a real rush, there’s never a parking spot, but when we’ve got all the time in the world, somebody pulls out right in front of us?

A lesson here? Remove the word “need” from your vocabulary. If you don’t give a monkey’s toss what happens at any given moment, the universe will expand in direct proportion to your disinterest.

Here’s Christopher Walken, admirably demonstrating offhanded insouciance:

EXERCISE: Act completely aloof at your next job interview. Chances are, they’ll make you an offer. Refuse — and they’ll up it to a management position. Shake your head no, and boom! Senior vice presidency. Move towards the door waving goodbye, and they’ll drop to their knees and plead with you to take a seat on the board. Walk out the door without agreeing to their terms and you’ll be 5 times closer to your real goal!

Despite being alive in this very moment, human beings have a tendency to want to “know” the future. Folks imagine a “career track” at work. At home they wonder about the “future of the relationship.” The United States government encourages us to believe in “social security” and legally requires citizens to pay exorbitant taxes so they can invest in the invisible future of 2074 A.D.

The aspiring SuperOptimist can take a lesson from Nobel Prize-winning Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Professor Bohr conducted countless scientific experiments where he would try to guess the real outcome of events imagined beforehand. With the best theoretical models available, he still could not predict the future any better than a drunken tourist at a craps table in Las Vegas. Professor Bohr summed up his career of deep scientific thought by saying: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Bohr proves that no matter how smart you are, you can’t reliably predict 5 days from now, much less 50 years. That’s why the SuperOptimist believes that the “good time” is not in some imagined far distant future, but in every tiny moment of existence at this very moment right now. And now. And now. And…now.

The bosk, or common bush, resembles the human in many ways. It is messy and multi-layered; thick in some areas, patchy in others. But that’s where the similarity ends. While people are apt to complain about the slightest problem, the bosk remains imperturbable in its approach to life.

The bosk lives in concert with its surroundings. It asks nothing of others. It requires no heavy care or maintenance. The bosk is neither envious of its flowering neighbors, nor takes pity on those considered less fortunate. The bosk does not wish to trade its unkempt appearance for that of the manicured hedge, row of daffodils or climbing ivy. The bosk is comfortable in its own skin, no matter how many layers of itchy vines and bushy leaves hide its Jackson Pollock-like skeleton.

The bosk watches bemusedly as bipeds march past, busy with their efforts to landscape every square inch of yard. People like to try controlling nature, but the bosk knows it’s a fool’s errand. Take a lesson from a nearby bosk and relax into your surroundings. You’ll be glad you did.