Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog of science and expert backed methods of happiness

Carved wood bird and face mask from Mexico
Bird Mask, painted wood, artist unknown, Guerrero, Mexico. On loan from the collection of Margarita Gordon.

It’s September. Are you feeling the rush of fall productivity, or is the vibe more like panic, your summertime relaxation an already shockingly distant memory?

Enter Eric Barker’s timely post, This Is How To Be Productive Without Being Miserable: 8 Proven Secrets.

If part of your ongoing life work is a direct effort to tweak your “settings”, from simple vows to work smarter not harder and all the way to running neuro-linguistic and other reprogramming techniques on yourself, we cannot recommend enough the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog of science backed techniques of what works.

And, let’s face it, the only way you’ll read it is if you sign up for the newsletter. So just do it, and thank us later. (Unsubscribing is even easier, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Promise.)

Trading cheerful facts for gruesome, unhelpful fiction of how and why we do what we do is a critical first step in any self “improvement” plan.

The quotes are there because here at Happy Sleepy we have witnessed plentifully in our own research and extensive world travels that good and bad are themselves a useless dichotomy and, just as Jesse Pinkman of Breaking Bad learned in group therapy, the game is about self acceptance rather than change.

We would add that compassion and creativity are the true keys to unlocking astonishing powers you ALREADY HAVE. You don’t need more of anything and you do need to read the operating manual, including the fine print, of how to use what you have. So let’s start.

Need a megadose injection of cheerful facts to overwhelm the negative overthinking into silence? Check out the blog’s Best of / Research listing of blog posts organized in useful sections including Productivity, Relationships, Negotiation, and even straight up Success.

Necklaces made from red coral beads and silver crosses, beads, and coins, Mexico.
What if instead of crosses these were keys? Silver and coral necklaces from Oaxaca, dating from the beginning to mid 19th century.

It’s bullshit that this type of info wasn’t part of most of our kindergarten and ongoing curriculum so please make Eric Barker’s excellent – and terse! – writing part of your shovel, broom, and all natural air freshener toolkit. Let’s accept that we’ve been on the wrong path, redirect, and move forward.

Self-acceptance, furthermore, is one of the simplest and most profound political activism moves you can make in your life.

The lies have piled up wide and thick over the millennia of large group living, aka “civilization”. Ignorant and controlling powers would have you believe that you can buy your way out of fear and scrimp your way to a full heart. You can’t. You simply can’t be perfectly happy until everyone is happy.

The impulse for safety through control and exclusion, and the resulting xenophobia of neurotic proportions, destroy everything we love. Meanwhile the simple truth is that fear itself cannot harm you. So why not face our cowardice?

The planet we live on is rich enough to provide many times over what we need to thrive. This is doubly true of our interior and virtual worlds where – let’s face it – most of what we call reality happens.

Yet so many of us live in the cramped shed of the prefrontal cortex while just behind our eyes and below the neck awaits a veritable palace of riches that can be tapped as resources.

We’re talking here about the second brain in your guts, the reflexes of your lizard brain, habits and beliefs, all the societal buttons that are pushed every day in ways we don’t recognize, and the shadow side that will most surely hold your so called conscious decisions and willpower hostage if you ignore its needs and desires.

Let’s take another example post from Eric’s blog and see how facts can help.

The post about the FBI’s Behavioral Change Stairway Model used for hostage negotiation describes the process that is eminently applicable not only to our coworkers, spouses, and children, it is also useful when dealing with our own sense of lack of control in our lives. How many times has a productive plan been hijacked by procrastination, fears, worries?

Let’s reconsider the model of an individual as we have been taught – maybe you are not a single, discreet entity. There is the left brain, the right brains, the ancestral shadow side. That’s at least 3 modes of operation that need to all cooperate to get anything substantial done. Meanwhile, the subconscious rules from “below” with the mightiest grip of all, and if the subconscious is not on board then you simply shall. not. pass. Your will is taken hostage.

There are 5 steps in the FBI’s model that can be applied to get your subconscious to release and indeed support your “rational” decisions, and the first 3 steps are all about empathetic listening.

So – when was the last time you actively listened to your deepest desires, your most long term longings, that thousands and millions years of evolutionary development part of you that looks after your survival? How to do that, you say? Well, Eric’s article outlines 6 techniques for active listening. Why not try them on yourself the next time you can’t get off a screen and onto some neck stretches and bed?

It’s not enough to lock up our monsters, throw away the key, and do our best to ignore the howling from beyond.

We all, individually and as a body politic, need to regularly visit to feed and indeed to take counsel from the deepest, messiest, dankest parts of our being.

It is critical that we substitute what truly works for what we have been taught is “good”.

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This post was written from Tepoztlan, a Pueblo Magico in the state of Morelos, about a 2 hours drive south of Mexico City. The photos were taken by us in the Museo Morelense de Arte Popular in nearby Cuernavaca.

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