Fun Is Easy, Happiness Is Hard

10443158_788833557827333_4179652623399338578_oExercise is hard. My primary form of exercise – running – is particularly unfathomable to many. Yet when it comes to running long distances, I’m one of those annoying people who “get it”.

You know what I also get? Eating doughnuts. Who doesn’t love doughnuts? Fried dough, delectable vanilla icing, rainbow sprinkles. What’s more, eating doughnuts is a lot more fun than running. No matter how much I engage in both activities, eating doughnuts never fails to out-fun running. But here’s the thing: I eat doughnuts only rarely but I run 30 to 50 miles six or seven days a week. So what gives? Am I preternaturally disciplined? Obsessed with being skinny? Is someone always chasing me?

The answer is that I’m acutely self-aware of what makes me happy as opposed to what merely makes me feel good. Orgasms feel good yet I’ll wager that if I spent my life pursuing them I’d be a less happy person. If engaged in for a prolong period of time, fun things tend to make me miserable. Difficult things, conversely tend to make me happy.

Confusion about the difference between fun and happiness has caused no shortage of pain in people’s lives. A good question to ask yourself before engaging in any activity, from flossing your teeth to going to attending religious services, has been suggested by author Dennis Prager. The question is “How will I feel once I’m done?” Happiness-inducing activities tend to provide good feelings long after the activity has ceased. Merely fun things, however, tend to stop providing pleasure the moment one desists in the activity.

This phenomenon is easy to observe in children. Calling my children inside for dinner, they remain flushed with the joy of having played outside. They exhibit the “glow” I feel after a good run. But if I must inform them that it’s time to stop playing video games or watching Netflix, well, the words “profoundly irritated” best describe them.

We all know that passive entertainment diverts us for a time but leaves us less happy and more irritable. Yet we continue to eat junk food, play video games and watch too much tv instead of doing the hard work of exercising, reaching out to others and creating.

If you want to spend your life having fun then by all means, fill it with fun things. But if you want to spend your life being happy, pursue things that make you happy.

But most importantly, constantly remind yourself of the difference.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch my most recent set at the Comedy & Magic Club.

Stop Pining For A Clinton-Trump Dream Ticket

Change You Can Believe In, Okay?

Look, I get it: the American people face a difficult choice. Now that both parties’ primaries are over and the general election is finally upon us, it seems unfair that we must choose between Clinton or Trump.

But talk about a good problem to have!

Sure, it’d be nice to have a candidate on the ticket who embodied both the unbridled ambition of Clinton and the unmoored political philosophy of Trump – like Joseph Stalin, say. But instead of losing sleep over this decision, be grateful that God has blessed America with such a bountiful general election!

Don’t get me wrong: I’m conflicted just like everybody else. On the one hand, Hillary would be our first woman president. I think we can all agree that the last thing this country needs is another George Washington or Abraham Lincoln: BOR-ing! On the other hand, in Trump we have the kind of candidate who would protect America’s interests as only a true authoritarian can.

I understand why some are losing sleep lose sleep over this election. One minute I’m leaning Hillary: from the reset with Russia, the invasion of Libya and her handling of the difficult situation in Benghazi to the fact that she’s never been indicted, Hillary’s résumé speaks for itself. Talk about an ability to think inside the box! But hen I fluff my pillow and suddenly I’m leaning Trump, who understands that it’s the Constitution that’s obstructionist, not Republicans or Democrats as such.

Like many Americans, I was hoping that once the primaries were over that the choice before us would be a clear one rather than the current embarrassment of riches. The Republican primary showcased its remarkable depth of talented and young politicians, from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker to Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Chris Christie. And while the Democrats’ primary was a cozier affair, who couldn’t help but be impressed by candidates like Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and something called Lincoln Chaffee.

But now we must make the most difficult choice of all: the jingoistic nativism of the unpredictable Trump or the corrupt cronyism of the all-too predictable Hillary. I hear you: 

 Well wish all you want but as Trump would say, it’s time to think white and get real. Maybe when Clinton and Trump debate one candidate will clearly stand out as less cover-your-eyes-awful than the other. But until that happens, I feel like the proverbial donkey who starves to death because it can’t decide which pile of hay to eat from because they both look so appetizing.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or see me perform the Flaming Marshmallow of Mystery on the Late Late Show

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Detects Hillary’s Cackle From Jupiter

All I asked for was a a federal minimum wage with a frickin' laser beam attached to its forehead.

“All I asked for was a college tuition plan with a frickin’ laser beam attached to its forehead.”

The investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices while Secretary of State has finally come to its foregone conclusion. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, as expected, has kept her promise to abide by the recommendation of Bill Clinton the FBI.

FBI Director James Comey, America’s only silk-tie-wearing cop, possesses the risible lack of self-awareness Americans have come to associate with “high-ranking government officials” (formerly public servants). Of his decision not to recommend prosecution he said “This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.”

Similar circumstances.

Clinton, for whom identity politics comes natural, has adeptly exploited Comey’s comments to burnish her credentials as the history-making candidate: the first President of the United States to be denied access to classified materials.

Reduced to plain English, of course, Comey’s message is that Clinton is protected from prosecution by a kind of establishment immunity. Put bluntly, she’s too-connected to indict. The subtext of Comey’s statement could hardly be clearer: while Clinton’s gross negligience does not constitute a criminal act, the prospect of Trump presidency does.

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Clinton, whose incredulity rivals Dr. Evil’s upon learning that a million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, had already issued her go-to, I-regret-the-error-but-it’s-time-to-move-on statement, designed to reassure voters that the awesome power and privileges of the presidency would somehow humble her into greater respect for the law.

Legally in the clear, Ms. Clinton can now focus all her attention on the campaign trail, where she is attempting to energize her base by calling for a ban on gun sales to those who appear on no-call lists.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me perform the Flaming Marshmallow Balance of Mystery on the Late Late Show.

Speakers: Be Quiet But Not Sneaky Quiet

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 2.00.58 PMWhat’s more distracting: a speaker who openly refers to the clipboard in her hand or one who stares long and hard at the top of the podium each time she takes a sip of water? One who furtively glances at his watch to see how he’s doing on time or one who makes no effort to conceal doing so?

Many years ago when I moved into a friend’s house he asked that when arriving home late at night that I be quiet but not “sneaky quiet”. Cautiously turning the key and gently opening the front door; tip-toeing around the house to prevent the floors from creaking: all these things, he explained, are not only more likely to wake him but more likely to terrify him in the middle of the night. The routine sounds of a respectful housemate coming home late, on the other hand, might wake him briefly but would also send him quickly back to sleep.

Much better for all involved to simply be open about it.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me perform a bar trick on the Late Late Show.

 

What A Difference 700 Meters Makes

rudisha, Kiprop

Recall past visits to your local high school running track and ponder the difference that just two laps can make.

Then ask yourself why, for example, does the body of the 800-meter world champion David Rudisha say “athlete” while the body of his fellow Kenyan 1500-meter world champion Asbel Kiprop screams “Somebody feed me”?

How man meters are you from a breakthrough?

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Punishing Loyalty: Rewarding First-Time Customers

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Let’s face it: Nothing says “We value our longtime customers” like making a discount available only to first-time customers. .

Let’s call it the First-Time Flyer approach: instead of encouraging loyalty among customers by rewarding them for it, the First-Time Flyer approach seeks to reward new customers for abandoning one of their competitors.

The mindset which focuses on gaining new customers by imposing costs on long-established ones is widespread.

You call an internet service provider to arrange web access in your new home or apartment. It’s explained to you that as a first-time customer you are eligible for a special discounted rate, one not available to those chumps who have been customers for as long as there’s been an Internet.

The next time you visit your local grocery store, consider the “15 items or less” sign above the check-out. Set aside that it should read “15 items or fewer“: the mindset encapsulated in such signs is crystal clear: “We aim to reward those the most who are profiting us the least”.

Imagine shopping at a grocery store where such signs are replaced with ones which read “Customers Shopping With Us For Three Years Or More”. I’d wager that such a sign would encourage first-time customers to become longtime customers. (I’d also wager that the novelty of such a rewards program would prompt some customers to take pictures of such signs and share them on social media.

Then you’re really in business.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch my most-recent performance at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.

Adding Value

VALUEYou go to a comedy club to see some comedians you’ve never heard of and who ends up doing a set but Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld benefits only little from the set – maybe he’s not getting paid and the short time he spends onstage helps only little to hone his set – but the value he ads to the show and your experience is incalculable.

In the same way, things have tremendous to your clients and others that cost you virtually nothing. A $5 bill left on the nightstand has a lot more value to the woman who cleans your hotel room than what it costs you.

How many ways can you add similar value to your product or service on behalf of your clients?

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me tell jokes about my wife.

In Praise Of Checklists

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Work out your principles during moments of calm so you can refer to them quickly during times of panic. .

I keep a checklist for everything I require for a full show, which covers everything from plastic grocery bags to a marshmallow. Because I know my checklist is comprehensive – created as it was during a period of reflection – it frees my mind to focus on more important things before the show like the specific needs of my client.

Consider the amateur actor who invests so much time “identifying with the character” and “investing emotionally” in the script only to walk onstage only to realize that he hasn’t memorized his lines.

Recently I got to thinking about Gene Krantz, the legendary vest-clad flight director of NASA’s Apollo space program. What a high-pressure job I thought. Imagine being the sole person responsible for green lighting a launch of human beings into space.

But then I got to thinking: Wait a minute: this guy has numerous others in charge of every conceivable aspect of the mission. Responsibility is broken down into incredible detail. Krantz’ job was basically ensuring that the vote is unanimous. He’s just a straw counter!

There’s the guy in charge of the rocket’s hydraulics. The mainframe computer. Even the lowly flight surgeon is on hand to monitor the astronauts’ heart rate. What does that leave for Krantz? Nothing other than the awesome responsibility of saying “You’re go for launch, Apollo”. Put me in a vest and I could do that job.

“Ah!” I hear you say. “But what about when something goes wrong like on Apollo 13?” Are you kidding me? That’s the easiest press conference in the world: you simply gesture to the guy in charge of that aspect of the mission that went to pot and say “Look – he said we were good to go. Now you’ll excuse me – I’m going to get quietly hammered.”

Return to daviddeeble.com or learn about my laugh-out-loud corporate presentation Winning With A Bad Hand.

The Folly Of The Prenuptial Approach

There’s a third way.

Benjamin Franklin famously said that “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail”. It’s worth considering, though, the extent to which people don’t succeed not because they fail to prepare but because they prepare to fail.

Among the unpleasantries of being very wealthy, for example, is the perceived necessity of preparing for marriage and divorce at the same time. It’s difficult to imagine focusing on two different things at once, let alone two diametrically-opposed objectives. I’m no financial advisor so I won’t dispute that a prenup may be a fantastic idea for protecting one’s wealth. It’s hard to argue, though, that it’s similarly effective for a fantastic marriage.

Too often we apply this prenuptial approach to achieving our objectives. Simply stated, much of success depends on where your focus is. A pilot tasked with making an emergency landing focuses not on avoiding bodies of water, power lines and other planes but on just one thing: where they aim to land.

Your hands tend to go where your eyes go and your eyes tend to go where your focus is. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself starring at men and women working along the shoulder of the highway as you drive past.

Did you know that one of the easiest tricks to perform with a shotgun is to shoot out a candle under the darkness of night? The reason is simple: there’s nothing else to see. (This, incidentally, is why it’s so much harder to stay in your lane when driving past highway workers at night: the klieg lights they work under make it very difficult to keep your focus where it should be: on your lane).

The focus necessary to accomplish difficult things is fostered when the stakes are high: when catching a falling baby one generally doesn’t worry about “style points”. Instead, every physiological fiber in your body blocks out that which does not further the task of catching that damn kid. (Keep this in mind when telling a joke).

Basketball (and sport generally) provides numerous examples of how excellence is fostered when your back is to the wall. How many times have you seen someone get off a quick, game-winning 3-pointer while double-teamed? Conversely, it’s the wide-open player who has “time to think about it” who tends to throw up the cover-your-eyes-awful shot that clangs off the side of the backboard.

It’s difficult to imagine applying such a laser-like focus even on something as important as one’s career, and for that we should be grateful: such people are called workaholics. But from time to time it’s worthwhile to consider the extent to which one is assuming a defensive posture, such as taking on a mountain of debt in acquiring an expensive “back-up plan” in the form of a college degree.

When Frank Costanza’s blood pressure was in danger of going up he’d shout “Serenity now!”. When you possess the self-awareness to realize that you’re focused on avoiding failure rather than achieving your objective, step back and consider creating your own mantra to bring back your focus. Mine is “Eyes on the prize”.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury which cost me the coordination in my right arm instigated my journey from conventional- to comedy juggler.

The Price Of Therapeutic Culture

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The only people who don’t experience a degree of stress on a more-or-less constant basis are babies: no meals to prepare, no bills to pay and they nap whenever they like. They don’t even have to read or wipe their butts: it’s all done for them. Babies are basically VIPs  on a junket in the Caribbean.

So it makes sense that we never tell them “You’ve been under a lot of stress,” or YBUALOS. But why do we feel compelled to tell our fellow adults that they’ve been under a lot of stress? Adults have deadlines to meet, cranky spouses to finesse, demanding bosses and crying babies to deal with. Of course they’ve been under a lot of stress lately. You might as well tell them they’ve been living on dry land a lot lately.

When someone tells you you’ve been under a lot of stress lately you can be sure of one thing: you’ve come up short either professionally or personally. YBUALOS is the English language’s go-to palliative, not meant to point out a redundant fact so much as to soothe a bruised ego or a guilty conscience.

You’ve been under a lot of stress lately is a product of soft America’s therapeutic culture. Imagine the embodiment of results-oriented hard America – a soldier – disobeying an order and then being informed by the officer who issued it “You’ve been under a lot of stress lately”.

Don’t get me wrong: when you fall short in life – as we all do from time to time –  I don’t advocate you don a hair shirt and crawl into a hole. But recognize YBUALOS for what it is: an attempt to rationalize failure rather than to recognize it.

Recognizing that you’ve failed is an essential step to achieving success. Absent that, you’ll have to wait until you’re stress-free to try again.

When might that be?

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury that cost me the coordination in my arm turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me professionally.