Posts tagged with: daily life balance

UAC 97 | Practicing The Sabbath

 

In a world that constantly asks us to be on a nonstop grind with work, just where do we place rest? In this episode, Thane Ringler talks about why the need for rest is important and why you need to consider practicing the Sabbath as a non-negotiable. Thane shares his thoughts on balancing your daily life from work to rest and everything in between, and what rest actually looks like. Learn the benefits of a sabbath and how this can help you dig deeper and see your life with a richer and fuller outlook.

Listen to the podcast here:

Rest: Why Practicing The Sabbath Should Be A Non-Negotiable

This is a podcast all about learning how to live a good life. We do that one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time and one year at a time. This is a podcast all about having intention in the tension, a mantra that we follow because life is inevitably filled with tensions that we get to live in the middle of, and that is a part of the journey of life. Thanks for joining us on that journey. We’re excited to be with you. This is going to be a solo episode. I’ll be throwing down some tracks here with you. I’m excited about what we’re going to be talking about.

As an encouragement of the best way to help us out, there are two things that you could quickly do. The first is leaving us a rating and review on iTunes and the second is sharing this episode or any that you were impacted by with several friends in your community. Those are the two simplest and easiest ways to support us, this show, what we’re trying to do and the community that we formed around it. Thank you so much for being with us and helping us in those ways if you can. We appreciate it. I’m going to get to it.

The topic is rest. This is something that I’ve talked to many people about in my life. It’s been an ongoing discussion in many ways that I figured it was high time to have this discussion on the podcast and share a lot of the thoughts that I’ve been processing with others, with God, with myself in my current life and where I find myself in. I’ve been in what I’ve called a season of rest and this is a season where I’m not going out to get more work. I’m not proactively striving, hustling or trying to achieve and accomplish more, but rather I’m actively doing what God brings my way, what he puts on my plate.

It’s been an incredibly humbling season. It’s taught me so much about how I find my identity often and what I achieve, what I accomplish or what I acquire. It’s shown me how little I tangibly or practically trust God to provide as he says he always will. It’s humbling to realize that, but that’s what this has started to reveal to me. I’d love to start by talking about how we’re wired as human beings. Similar to exercising and recovering or being awake and sleeping, life has been intentionally patterned with rhythms, with ebbs and flows that help us maintain some semblance of balance or normalcy in life without it becoming too drab and dull. With sleeping, we see that a third of our lives are spent in recovery mode, or at least that’s the ideal. Eight hours is the average person’s need for sleep. One-third of our lives is spent recovering by sleeping.

Life has been intentionally patterned with rhythms, with ebbs and flows, that help us maintain some semblance of balance or normalcy. Click To Tweet

In the realm of working out, we see that pushing our body’s abilities and limits is helpful, but it’s best done with at least one day of recovery or rest programmed in throughout the week. What’s funny about this is for some reason, we think that this logic or this rationale doesn’t apply to our work in life. How ironic. How funny of us, how irrational of us often. This gets us to culture sway in our lives. It goes back to the power of culture and how we are wired in modern society. We’re wired for a mode of existence based on having more and more of anything and everything.

It’s a consumerist culture and it stems from the industrial age we live in, which produces a mindset that’s based on greed and fear. It’s saying, “I am what I possess, own or acquire.” It’s saying, “I am the sum of my achievements, accomplishments, or net worth.” A lot of this stems from the book I read by Erich Fromm called, To Have or To Be?. He does a beautiful job of depicting this difference between a having mode of existence and a being mode of existence. If you want to read a summation of a lot of what he says, definitely check out the blog post I published on ThaneMarcus.com titled The False Promise Of Modern Society.

One quote I wanted to share was from page seventeen where he says, “The having orientation characteristic of Western industrial society is characterized by greed for money, fame, and power and those things have become the dominant theme for life.” Our greed for money, fame, and power has become the dominant theme for life. That is true if we’re honest with ourselves. Much of our motivations and lives are run by the pursuit of those three things: money, fame and power. Because of this cultural pressure and because of our inward drive to earn and achieve, we have convinced ourselves that the only path forward is the path of 24/7. It’s the nonstop grind, the mad hustle that is our lives.

When we see that results from this are anxiety, depression, burnout, and a total lack of fulfillment or joy in anything that we do. Feel free to raise your hand if you feel me on this one because I know I feel myself on this. It’s something that we all experience. There’s something that is missing and we’ve tried hard to hack our physiological wirings to become superhuman that we’ve lost our ability to simply be human. Fromm likes to quote this guy Albert Schweitzer and he said, “Man has become a superman, but the superman with the superhuman power has not risen to the level of superhuman reason. To the degree to which his power grows, he becomes more and more a poor man. It must shake up our conscience that we become all the more inhuman, the more we grow into superman.” It’s true because when we start becoming superhuman and superman in what we can produce, what we can achieve, what we can accomplish, we start losing more and more our ability to simply be human and what being human means, what our purpose in being human is, and what our role and function in life is.

UAC 97 | Practicing The Sabbath

Living in a place like LA, this is especially true. It’s truer than most places in the world because LA is a hyper-driven, hyper achievement bubble and culture that a lot of metropolitan city centers are. You may not be in a city center or metropolitan place like LA, but it can still be true wherever you’re at, and it is an individualized concept. Living in a place like LA, it is rare to meet other people who have an intentional practice of rest. This goes for both Christians and non-Christians alike. We think that by working nonstop, we will reach our goals and accomplish our mission that much faster, yet we end up hurting our overall well-being and our total production capacity.

As Fromm calls for in his book, “We must put an end to the present situation where a healthy economy is possible only at the price of unhealthy human beings.” The reality of a society filled with unhealthy humans is becoming increasingly apparent. We can all agree with that. We have sacrificed what being a healthy human is for the sake of a healthy economy. As a Christ-follower, the level of importance that this has is increased tenfold when we look at the priority and emphasis that God places on it.

The most overlooked and forgotten of God’s Ten Commandments given to Moses and the people of Israel and Deuteronomy is the fourth commandment that says, “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it Holy unto the Lord.” This is a big deal, not just to us in our physiology, in our psychology, but also to God and His design for us in this world. It’s funny how we compartmentalize and pick and choose what we want to follow in practice and what we don’t and what we’re going to forget about. So much of that is shaped by culture and society around us. What does this mean? What do I do with this? It is up to you and your convictions between you and the Lord and where you’re at in life. I want to share what I’ve been thinking through and what I’ve done.

For me, it has looked like not proactively striving to get more but actively doing whatever he brings in order to build a base foundation of God dependence in my life, not self-dependence. We’re self-dependent as humans and there’s some good in that, for sure. It’s always about balance. We’re a lot less good at depending and relying on God and also understanding that we’re not the center of the universe and understanding that we aren’t the most important people in the world. Understanding that the things that we’re working on that we’re stressed about and we’re anxious about aren’t that important. We aren’t that essential for what we think we’re doing. The Sabbath is such a helpful tool for helping us remember that.

A sabbath is doing things that give life, that give joy, that feels restful. Click To Tweet

I have been dedicating a day each week to the Sabbath. What that looks like is the Sundays which are often thought of as that Sabbath, that day into the Lord. For a lot of people in the church, it isn’t because you serve and you work so much with the church and you’re doing so much that it isn’t an intentional day of rest. God’s design is the Sabbath is an intentional day of rest where it is sacrificed to God, it’s set apart. It’s made Holy to God so that we can return to His design knowing that we’re not ultimately God, and we’re not the ones who create our own destiny. Even though we have a lot of ability to do that, we ultimately don’t make the world go round. It’s a great opportunity to practice that and it takes intention.

Tim Keller on Work and Rest has a great sermon on it. He points out that if we’ve got six days of work and one day of rest, that one day of rest should have that much more intention and effort behind what goes into it than even our days of work because there’s only one of them compared to six of them per week. It is something that we need to take intention into and carry it throughout our practice of it in order to not waste those days but use them well. I have been picking a day during the week. I have to pick it a week in advance because my schedule is all over the place. I look at my schedule, my calendar for the next week and I see which day I can sacrifice to God and then I put Sabbath in big, bold letters in my calendar and set it apart. That means I’m not doing any work on those days. It’s not about the rule, it’s about the heart in it. For me, what that means is I’m not checking any social media. I’m completely off and I’m not doing checking or writing any emails that are work-related or doing anything that’s furthering my career, so to say.

What I am prioritizing is time with Jesus, time with God, time with people, time of rest and time for play and joy. It often will look like a lot of hangs with people, a lot of coffee outings. It will look like a lot of space for time for God’s presence. It will look like a lot of fun things like playing golf with the buddies, or getting a good workout in, or going on a trail run, or being in nature and reading some good books. Doing things that give life, that gives joy, that feel restful, and that will look like different things for different people. That’s why it’s important to be not a legalistic thing, but a freedom thing because it produces that freedom to be our best and true to self.

What I’ve experienced so far is that this practice, it brings more clarity to life, to the decisions I’m making, to what the work is in front of me. It brings more energy. It’s similar to sleeping eight hours. You have the energy for your full capacity and potential. It brings more intention into daily life. When I have a day that’s completely separated from work or anything that I’m trying to accomplish, I get to see what I am trying to accomplish in a better, newer light. It gives me better intention into those daily goals that I’ve laid out in front of me. It also brings more balance as a whole. It is God’s design. He created it this way and we’re going to be most blessed when we follow it. Having one day where we aren’t working will help you be a balanced person even throughout the other six days of working. It brings a better perspective on life and work role. Work isn’t life, work is a part of life and that’s a big difference, but when you work 24/7, work becomes your life and that is an inherently imbalanced place.

Work isn’t life, work is a part of life. Click To Tweet

On a base fundamental level, this practice brings more joy, freedom and trust. It is amazing. It is remarkable how much more joy and how much more freedom I live within daily life when I’m weekly practicing the Sabbath. I have been blown away by this and it does produce much greater trust and dependence on God because you’re physically practicing that each and every week. Some questions to think about the ending is, how can I fully detach from my work and follow God’s design? What does that look like for you? What should that look like for you? The other question is to think about what stands in your way? What is keeping you from setting a day aside for rest, for joy, for presence with people, with God? What are the obstacles that are saying that that’s not good? Beyond that, what is the lie that you believe that keeps you from doing it? There’s always some message that we’re subconsciously following that instructs us of why we aren’t doing it. What is that lie? Following that is, what truth do you need to preach to yourself in order to change your perspective or thought process on rest?

Honestly, the only way that you’re going to believe what I’m saying is by experiencing it, by testing it and seeing if it’s true. “Experience is the most expensive currency in the world.” As Whitney Wolfe Herd said, and it’s true. It comes down to experience, to tasting and seeing if it truly is good. I can guarantee you, you will taste that it is good, but don’t take my word for it, try it out. You have to practice it in order to know it. You have to think about what elements should be present in a Sabbath for you because that will look different for everyone. Whether you’re a person of faith or not, this is an important practice that will amplify your work and your clarity, your presence in life, in all aspects of life.

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The final question is, how can you commit to and follow through with this practice of rest, regardless of the culture around that surrounds you? We’re always going to have opposition, especially when we’re trying to swim upstream by doing something that isn’t popular in the majority. We have to find ways to commit to what we believe in and then stack the deck in our favor in order to help us follow through. That is the goal. I hope you’ve been blessed by this encouragement to prioritize rest. It has amplified all that I’m striving to do and has become a non-negotiable cornerstone habit for my life. This season of rest is building me up and knowing the importance of the experience of this practice and why I’m going to continue to prioritize it throughout my entire life. That is the goal. I hope it does the same for you and let me know. Let me know what your practice of the Sabbath entails or what you’ve experienced from starting to incorporate this into your own life. Send us an email at TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com and we’d love to hear from you on this journey. I hope you have an up and coming week.

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UAC 91 | The Tensions Of Life

 

In this episode, Than Ringler and Adam Setser discuss the tensions of life and the balance between novelty and mundanity within our daily life. Learn what novelty really looks like, and the responsibility brought to each of us through it as Thane and Adam dives into technology and the effects it has on people through advertisements that give a sense of addiction to novel things. Lastly, hear about the intentionality with the novel and mundane, how novelty affects mundanity, and their thoughts on why people should find the beauty in the mundane.

Listen to the podcast here:

Tensions Of Life: Part Two – Novel Vs. Mundane

This is a podcast all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that takes having intention in the tension as my lovely friend Adam Setser coined back in the day. That is our mantra. We do have our own Up and Comers t-shirts and other merch that is available on our website. It’s up top on the header that says Merch. Click that bad boy and get yourself a crew neck sweatshirt, a long sleeve tee, maybe even a tank for summer. If you want to join the fam, that’s probably the best way to do it. It’s going to be live always. You can get it whenever you want, however you want.

This is TheUpAndComersShow.com and there’s a link at the top that says Merch. It takes you to Bonfire.com. What is Bonfire?

Bonfire is who we partnered with for the merch drop.

Is this the same shirt as before?

It’s the same shirt. We’ve got different options and is a different company. There are a few differences. The cool thing is, they’re going to be available anytime and always. We don’t have to go through campaigns anymore. Even though it looks like it is a campaign, it will continue running. Go and get yourself a tee.

$20 for a t-shirt, that’s not bad considering that all the proceeds of these shirts go to homeless kids in Africa.

They go to The Up and Comers Show.

Our margins on these shirts are small.

If you buy a t-shirt, we get $2.

There is such a blessing in novelty because it brings newness to the mundane. Click To Tweet

That’s a 10% margin.

We want you to have something to rep the squad.

We’re trying to build a community. What we’re trying to do here is change the world one t-shirt at a time.

You could help us do that by getting one t-shirt.

As long as you’re not over 3XL, all we have is 3X and you can’t be smaller than extra small.

We do have a new rating and review. To bring us back into the center, Adam, can you read for us this newest five-star review? If you haven’t left us a rating and review, scroll down on your phone, tap that five stars and you’ll be done. A-bomb, hit us.

Interview with Allison Trowbridge, five stars by Teach Kids Art on March 22nd, 2019, “I would give this episode ten stars if I could. I follow a lot of podcasts and this was by far the most interesting guest I’ve ever heard interviewed. In fact, I read this episode twice and so did my husband. Thane did a great job of drawing out fascinating stories from Allie’s childhood memories, college years, anti-trafficking work and ambitious goal to publish a mentoring book for young women while getting her MBA from Oxford. Followers even get a peek into Allie’s exciting new business ventures to be launched. I highly recommend it.” Thanks, Allie’s mom.

UAC 91 | The Tensions Of Life

The Tensions Of Life: There are two ways to analyze the value of something and it’s in the intrinsic value, within the actual thing itself, and then the extrinsic value, which is everyone’s perception of it.

 

If you want yours read on air, drop us a line and maybe you’ll get Adam’s sexy southern voice to give it a little read. We’re going to do a second part of the Tensions of Life series where Adam and I unpack some of the layers of this mantra we created because life has a lot of tension. We’re going to pick a few and unpack them. This is the second part. The tension that I thought would be fun to unpack is the tension between novelty and mundane, meaning something new versus something normal and how that affects us in daily life. This was something that hits close to home for me because I got back from a little family ski trip.

To give a little context on that, I journaled and I realized that in coming back to the normal life, on the day we were leaving, which was Sunday, I found myself retracting into a reflective, quiet and pensive person with my family. I was in a sense getting myself a preservation side of me to kick in to say, “I don’t have too big of a crash after this mountain top high.” Being on the mountain is my favorite place to be. If I could pick one place to go to before I die, it would be snowboarding on mountain. It’s that epic. Because it was such a mountain top high, I knew that coming back to normal life would be a big crash to the valley low.

That Sunday, I didn’t even consciously do this, I was subconsciously getting myself reacclimated to more of a normal life because I knew that the crash was going to come, and it did. Sunday was a downer of a day flying back home and knowing all the things I had to do, the week ahead and how that experience was in the past and not the present. What’s interesting as I journaled about it, I naturally did that without even thinking it. It shows this ebb and flow between novelty and mundane, and it’s something we all experience in daily life. That’s why I thought this was a fitting topic for us to even chat about.

To pose a question to you, Adam, where do you see novelty versus mundane? Where do you see that in daily or weekly life for you? The follow-up question after we talk about that would be, what percentage do you see as a healthy balance in the middle that each should deserve? What amount should each have in daily life? Some people tend to fall much more on the novelty side naturally and some much more on the mundane side naturally. I’d love to hear maybe how you experience these two parallel parts of life.

I don’t know if I have a good grip on this. I have this feeling inside me that goes, “Uh-oh,” when I’m getting off one way or the other a little bit and I’m also biased against one. My wife says that certain guys give her the uh-oh feeling and that I’ll never understand what that means. Let me sally forth here. There are certain guys that have this vibe about them that’s creepy. Even if they’re not creepy, they have the vibe then they’re just as well creepy. Poor guy, he’s not creepy but he looks and sounds like he’s creepy, so he is creepy. The judgment of my wife is universal. If you look creepy or you sound creepy, then you are creepy. Even if you’re not, you have to prove yourself not creepy. The same thing applies to novelty. I don’t have a good nose for what is novel or not necessarily, except to say that I always judge it guilty until proven innocent.

At this point, I’m a little bit of a curmudgeon. If it’s not been here for a hundred years at least and inundated in our society or historically speaking in a way, a hundred years relate long enough, I should say a thousand, then I don’t trust it much. There are things that have to prove themselves innocent. One example of that is advertisements and other social media, anything like that. We think of advertisements as mundane and abnormal. We drive down the road and instead of looking at where we’re going, we spend probably 60% of our time looking at all the billboards and signs. If you were to go down the road and delete every sign that was an ad, there would be no signs. All the signs are ads.

Everything that’s important in life can eventually become mundane. Click To Tweet

As realized that I’m being inundated with advertisements that teaches me in a mundane way, that my purpose on this earth is to buy, consume, and to acquire and achieve and do it through these means. That’s a mundane effect on our minds that is hard to appreciate and yet it is huge in the way it shapes us. If someone were to ask me, “Where do you get your values when it comes to achieving, accomplishing and consuming?” I would go to things of novelty. I would immediately think those have more impact. I would say, “There was this one commercial that everyone laughed at and remembered because it was novel.” I underestimate the power of the mundane and I overestimate the power of the novel when it comes to their effect on me.

There are a lot of different layers to this. One thing you hit on was the difference between having to have something versus being. There’s a great book I’m going to read next that my grandpa recommended called To Have or To Be? by Eric Fromm who is a German psychologist. It was written back probably a hundred years ago. I’m excited to check it out because it talks a lot about this thing. The thing that I’m more referring to that’s a little different than you’re referring to is the routine versus the variants in life.

The way you’re talking about novelty versus mundane is largely talking about what’s modern versus what’s proven over history. There’s some definite value to that. Also, even in your life, you got the RV and the camper and you’re going on these camping trips. It was awesome but part of that is the novelty of it. The newness of having a new adventure, having a new obsession, a thing that you’re into that’s awesome but then that wears off over time, becomes more mundane. That’s some of the tension I’m thinking about as well.

We do face that tension of maybe things souring as they go mundane. Is that what you mean?

Yeah. I’ve got a friend who is an awesome guy here in LA. I see this tension come up a lot in his life. He’s constantly chasing that new thing, whether it be a new movie that came out or a new friend to hang out with, a new coffee shop to go check out. In reality, that’s taking him away from the mundanity of the important work that’s before him. That’s an imbalance. For me, sometimes I’m almost on the opposite side because I try to be to discipline that I don’t allow novelty to come in. I don’t allow myself to watch movies. I love and am entertained by them, but I don’t see the immediate value in it and sometimes I’ll feel shame and guilt afterward for wasting time which isn’t good. That’s not right for me to feel shame and guilt over but I see that tension pop up because I know how addictive my personality can be. That’s one facet the way I experienced it.

The big cities have a lot more problems with this because there’s so much more coming at you all the time by way of ads but also by way of lots of people who are interesting and new and lots of things that are interesting and new. I would counter that about the camper to the fact that it is a little bit novel, but it’s not. It’s what our grandparents did and we’d said it was not cool and we’re doing it again because we see the value and what it brings us. This is a good test case scenario. I didn’t buy a camper because there was a sweet ad that convinced me that camping was the shizz. I bought a camper despite the ads I saw. The ads were either ads for sale of used campers that look terrible or ads that were stories people were giving me about camping. I’m like, “That sounds terrible.”

When I first started, my first biggest fear about camping was the pooh-poohs, which is the sewer hose and you have to dump the tank with the poop in it and there’s a hose that goes through. It’s called the poop hose and it stinks. I wasn’t interested at all in that whole thing and I’m like, “Why would you tow a living facility behind you?” It seems counterintuitive to efficiency. I’m dragging this thing across the world when I could stay in a location that already is built with a house and a room. Logically speaking, I was against it. My point is, my decision for the camper was a decision to refuse the novelty of whatever may be new and go back to the old, and that may be a novel move itself.

UAC 91 | The Tensions Of Life

The Tensions Of Life: We have a need for novelty, or else we’ll get burned out. We need some newness infused here and there to keep us going.

 

What you’re highlighting is that there’s a healthy and unhealthy novelty. It’s still new because it wasn’t a part of your life before.

There’s still value in it. That value will always be there for us. A pure move toward novelty would be that the only value in it is novelty. Let’s agree, there’s a spectrum of novelty and on that spectrum are things way left that are only valuable because they’re novel and there’s a spectrum on the way right of things that are only valuable because they’re mundane. Somewhere in the middle, you have this blend. Maybe that’s a bad spectrum, but either way. Another way to say that, there are probably two ways to analyze the value of something, and it’s in the intrinsic value within the actual thing itself, and then the extrinsic value, which is everyone’s perception of it. That’s what we’re talking about, the extrinsic value of things.

That’s the thing that’s important to highlight because it’s not to say that novelty is a bad thing, it’s a blessing. I got to go on a ski trip and it was such a blessing and was a great change of pace and a great novelty to be able to appreciate. The tension is, there needs to be a healthy balance between the two. That’s one thing I’ve been thinking about, in regard to that balance, do you have any idea from your perspective on what the percentage is? Even the last one, we talked about work and rest. God created in six days and rested one. It’s a six-day of work and a one day of rest ratio that God instituted. As I was thinking about before, I would almost say novelty and mundane are almost similar in a lot of ways. I’m curious what your thoughts are on that.

If I were to judge the camper, for example intrinsically, it is valuable because it provides us rest and recovery. It is extrinsically valuable because it’s different from what we do. There is novelty there, and there probably always will be novelty. It’s built in the novelty because we live in the city, we work in the city, its run and when the weekend comes, woods, stillness, that’ll always be a feeling of novelty.

It wouldn’t be novelty if you guys lived in the RV. That was your home.

Honestly, we talked about it. If we lived in the RV, it wouldn’t be worth it. There is a clear line that if crossed, diminishes the value of the camper because of the diminishing value of the novelty. There are also activities that go along with that. If we worked in the camper and be working not rest. There’s a huge portion of novelty that allows us to unplug and feel rested and recovered. I don’t know the percentage of that.

Creating is the novelty, the cultivating is the mundanity of taking care of what’s been created. Click To Tweet

When I was thinking about coming into this conversation, when I was thinking about this vacation, there is such a blessing in novelty because it brings newness to the mundane. It’s that breakup with the mundanity of daily life or weekly life to where that I’ve gotten space and perspective, I come back with a fresher, newer feel and sense and approach to it that gives me refreshed or renewed energy towards daily life. That’s such a value add for having novelty be a part of your life. That’s also showing a lot of the benefit of this dance between the two. There are a lot of things in daily life that are an unhealthy novelty.

That’s why it’s an important distinction to make between healthy and unhealthy. All of social media can be an unhealthy novelty. It’s, “What is the new picture? What is the new post? What is the new notification?” The alert of something new and that triggers the chemical response in our brains and that becomes addictive. We keep going and going to the well, you have to go more and more to the well to get the same chemical feedback. It becomes a bigger chain and cycle. That’s one of the biggest detriments of the novelty in daily life. Are there any things that come to mind on a daily level or practical level that you see novelty play out for you?

Novelty is extremely easy to jump in and out of. It’s easy to get that dopamine hit from and what we do is we shirk our responsibility oftentimes for novelty. This is huge. If our generation could grasp this, it would change everything. If you look at a group of college students and you say, “Everybody, give me your phones for an hour.” They’re all going to be extremely uncomfortable and some would probably die.

If you let them keep their phones for an hour and say, “Here’s your phone back for an hour. You can’t do anything but sit here,” all of them are going to be on their phones almost the entire time. What they’re going to be doing is, I bet you less than 10% of them will be looking for things that are mundane but intrinsically valuable. Most of them would be looking at things that are intrinsically almost not valuable at all, but extrinsically extremely interesting. That’s Instagram, social media, things like that.

It’s all a stream of novelty that makes us feel we’re important. We’re up to date and we know what’s going on. We’re in the know. We’re the it crowd. We’re important and accepted. For some reason, all of that comes from being up-to-date. When we’re separated from that, we lose the ability to create that sense of being, purpose, focus outside of the dopamine that comes from novelty. My point is, if you strip novelty away, it’s almost like we can’t function outside of it as well.

It seems technology has been a big driver in that. If you rewind the clock a hundred years, the pace of life and the expectations are much slower and the ability that you have to consume things is a lot lower. It’s almost a natural byproduct of where we’re at in modern society. If we aren’t intentional about it, we’re going to end up going astray too far towards novelty whereas before, maybe hundred years ago, but it could be that you went too far on the side of mundanity. You didn’t ever believe in doing anything novel.

UAC 91 | The Tensions Of Life

The Tensions Of Life: The natural end of novelty is that it leads to an addiction that is self-defeating. It creates in you a desire that can’t actually be fulfilled.

 

There are people that way, that live. You know that many people live this way. There are people I know from little town Georgia who think that there are only two languages, English and Spanish. Europe doesn’t exist. Their entire worldview is small and mundane that they don’t get hyped about anything novel at all. Their life is one big, long, boring story and it’s crazy. It’s amazing the differences, you’ve got that on one side and on the other side, you’ve got this guy who’s glued to Instagram and misses everything important that happens right in front of his face.

You made a good point when you said shirking our responsibility. Responsibility is a thing that helps us have a good balance. It helps us not have life be about ourselves, but it does give us the need for both. Responsibility means we have to embrace the mundane because that’s how you get things done, by repetition over time. We also have a need for novelty or else we’ll get burned out because we need some newness infused here and there to keep us going with endurance. Responsibility plays a big part in that.

It’s interesting to me too how people use novelty to start disciplines and then they phase out. Diets are one huge novelty factory. It’s like, “Look at this dude diet.” As all these advertisement around it all looks awesome. Two weeks in, everyone realizes it’s the same thing they’ve ever done, which is tell themselves, “No,” and some other new way. At the end of the day, it is all telling themselves, “No.”

There’s a great quote by CS Lewis, and this is the one that I love repeating. I repeat it a lot because it’s true. He said, “The pleasure of novelty is by its nature, more subject than any other to the law of diminishing returns.” Meaning the more that you get whatever pleasure that novelty brings, the more you need to keep getting that pleasure. It has diminishing returns the more that you get up something. It is like a drug in that sense.

That’s what made me think about is drugs. This takes the conversation in a different direction. Novelty is different than it ever has been and probably will be continuing. What you’re saying is true in the world of pornography. For example, our granddads, maybe not our actual granddads, but that generation, when they looked at pornography, it was in a magazine. It was static and even then a little bit tasteful, not degrading and demeaning. When the internet came along, it changed pornography. Studies on pornography say that when you are looking at internet pornography, it is exponentially times more addictive than static pornography.

They attribute that to novelty. It’s the idea that if you keep flipping through these pictures or these videos, then you’ll see something you hadn’t seen before. That desire hyper routes the brain into all kinds of the world of ecstasy, “Maybe there will be something else I hadn’t seen before.” It’s a trick. At the end of the day, it’s all a lie to your brain. This is the definition of an addiction that your desire for something outweighs the ability for it to even pleasure you. The natural end of novelty is that it leads you to an addiction that is self-defeating because it creates in you a desire that can be fulfilled.

The natural purpose of novelty is to reenergize, to grab our attention again. Click To Tweet

There’s so much evidence of what the effects are happening to society, not only logically with the breakdown of families and the diminishing value in marriage itself, but also in the epidemic rise of ED with the youth or men of this generation. They’ve chemically worn themselves out in that sense, which is crazy and sad.

That’s a good example of novelty taken to the extreme. What would be the tension between that and mundanity? Mundanity in that sphere would be marrying one woman and having sex with one woman for the rest of your life. Everyone would say and guys joke that that’s hell on earth. All the guys on their bachelor party sow the last wild oat they have because, for now and forevermore, I’m being locked up to this one woman. When I was getting married and the process of that, my dad, we had those dad and son conversations. One time I said, “People joke about getting locked up. I feel it’s the opposite.” He said, “It’s the opposite for you.” I’m a Christian. I was raised with Christian virtue. For me, marriage is freedom. It’s setting me free to finally be able to participate in that sector, whereas the world sees it as slavery because they see freedom as novelty and choice.

My dad sees freedom as commitment and mundanity. Those two differing perspectives are antagonistic to each other, and yet if you test each theory historically speaking to say, “Which one leads to the better life?” More inner peace, more fulfillment in that sector. Novelty is extremely a small part. Here’s the thing, it’s still a part because lingerie shops exist for a reason. Your wife needs to dress up sometimes. You need to dress up sometimes. You need to do stuff that’s new and fresh to keep the thing interesting. It is a part even there.

Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom, “That commitment unlocks the novelty that’s best for us, that’s healthy versus the unhealthy novelty.” It’s amazing how freeing and liberating that is. To create something that’s truly worth creating, it has to be created within a structure from which things are created. To make a great painting, it has to be a painting to be a great painting. That’s a structure that you get to create within. Similarly, when the novelty is in the structure of the mundanity and in its rightful place as a part of it not as the thing to pursue, that almost unlocks its best ability to serve the function it should in a lot of ways. That goes out to the quote, “Finding beauty in the mundane.” That’s our ability is to marry these two and say that we can find beauty in the mundanity and also embrace a healthy novelty in our daily life. In that vein of thought, what is finding beauty in the mundane for you? What does that look like in a daily level? What would be practical things that we can practice in our lives in this conversation?

Novelty is there for a reason, it is important. What we should probably say is that everything important in life eventually can become mundane because it’s almost always going to be a practice or discipline or intentional and it’s going to be fun. It is eventually going to get old. Everything ends up getting old. Novelty always helps reinvigorate. The natural purpose of novelty is probably to re-energize, to grab our attention again. If you find yourself burnt out in something but you know it’s important, then sprinkle some novelty in there and let that re-energize you to address the main problem.

UAC 91 | The Tensions Of Life

The Tensions Of Life: Presence means letting go of the past and future completely. This moment right here is all that matters.

 

The main problem is probably that you’ve detached from your why. The good proper use of novelty would be to catch people’s attention, almost rhetoric. Back in the old days of Greek rhetorician, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, these guys started this whole school of rhetoric for their community. They started so the people who were antagonistic towards rhetoric and logic only know rhetoric. Let’s present our arguments ad hoc, A, B, C, D. Rhetoricians, they would say, “Here’s my argument, A, B, C and D.” They’re going to couch it in an appealing, winsome way. The difference is that novelty should be used wisely so that you don’t become rhetoricians who overuse their rhetoric to convince you something that’s false, using power for good that you attach something that’s meaningful.

This came to mind what Andy Crouch talks about in his book, Culture Making. He compares our two creational roles as creators and cultivators of culture. That’s also hitting the same thing. The creating is almost the novelty. The cultivating is the mundanity of taking care of what’s been created. Those are both important because if you don’t take care of what’s been created, it’s going to decay and diminish. It’s not only the creating, which is more the novel, it’s also taking care of what’s already been created and that’s more of the mundane, which is a cool way to think about it too. Beauty in the mundane in daily life, because that’s a great way to unlock it, is like, “How can we find beauty in the mundane so that we don’t have the cheap form of novelty, but we get the richer form of novelty and it’s in the right proportion?”

The answer is two stories. One, my wife and I love Winnie the Pooh, the old original cartoon, and even the movie, Christopher Robin. Have you seen that?

No.

You’ve got to watch this movie. It is good. Did you watch Pooh growing up?

A little bit.

I can do the Pooh exercise well. I can do the whole Pooh thing. In the morning, he gets up and he goes, “Up, down, touch the ground.” He spins around, it’s awesome. The new movie is about Christopher Robin losing touch with wonder and his adultness. I thought it was awesome. It’s him losing touch with the novelty. We could replace the word novelty in this instance and in most instances with joy or interest or the perception of a child. What is it that the children see that adults don’t because we’re busy with our responsibilities? Novelty packages up wonder for us and sells it to us even though it’s not real. It’s like an advertisement for wonder. That’s what novelty is, it’s an ad for wonder. We don’t have the wonder. It’s an ad that shows us, “Look at all the wonder that’s intrinsic in this thing.” You’re like, “It’s awesome.” You lose touch with it. It burns out because it’s not real. It’s a momentary glimpse.

This is the thing, every time Winnie the Pooh gets a balloon, it’s like he’s got the balloon for the first time ever. There’s a scene in the movie where he wants the balloon and Christopher Robin is looking at Pooh like he’s a child going, “I have to get you a balloon to make you happy.” He gets him a balloon and they walk through with it. It’s important to Pooh. At one point, they get on the train and it gets caught in the doors as the doors whooshed closed. The train takes off and it gets ripped out of Pooh’s hand, and the balloon is outside trapped away from him now gone forever. Pooh looks at Christopher Robin and goes, “The balloon.”

Christopher Robin looks back at Pooh and he goes, “It’s just a balloon, Pooh.” Pooh goes, “It did make me happy.” It’s a moment where both me and my wife looked at each other and almost teared up and mouths wide open. It hits something deep into us about the value of life and that we as adults lose that wonder. It’s almost like every balloon you get is the first balloon you’ve ever had. That’s how God intended us to be and the fall has ruined it to where novelty is a signpost towards that wonder and it’s ripped off and used wrongly a lot of times, and sometimes it’s used rightly. It’s our duty to reinstill that in the mundane so that every time something happens, it happens as if for the first time.

The second story I’ll end with from my perspective is this quote from GK Chesterton about the way children have an insatiable desire for joy and for repetition. He uses the analogy of how when you make the mistake of pleasing a child, throwing them up and down, scratching their back, whatever it is, you make that mistake because they’re going to keep coming back to you saying, “Do it again.” You throw them up in the air and think it’s fun. After about 50 throws, you’re exhausted and they keep saying, “Do it again.” What is it about children that give them that insatiable desire for joy and insatiable ability to be pleased without it becoming stale? Adultness ruins that.

GK Chesterton used that analogy and said, “What it means to become an adult is that you grow old to the point that you’re older than your father.” God himself is our father and he has that insatiable desire for joy and yet we ourselves have grown older than him and look at him and go, “Why would you make the sun come up every day the same every time?” God is sitting here going, “I love it.” Every day he loves it as much as he did the day before. That was a huge practical takeaway for me when I work, write, make my bed, clean my house, take the camper on a trip, stare at God’s creation, read the Bible, talk to friends, record podcasts. Whatever it is I’m doing, if God’s joy is not in that moment, it’s probably my fault because there’s something in that moment to enjoy and my heart is hard.

Each day is truly new. If we look close enough, there’s always something new to be seen regardless if we’re doing the same thing every day. Every day is different. It takes us looking closer and being more eyes wide open versus shut and processing what’s already been done. We can categorize things as what’s already happened or we can see them with new childlike eyes of wonder and of curiosity saying, “What’s different about what I’m seeing right now?” There is something different.

That’s intentionality. GK Chesterton even uses as an example, when you see a robin in the world, the gift that God gave us as humans is naming. We can take a thing and name it and forevermore have the name of what it is. When we name things, we have power over it. When we get power, we feel arrogant. When we feel arrogant, we start to lose touch with even the value of whatever that thing was because now I’m ten times better than that. “I knew that thing was ten years ago before it was even cool.” That’s all arrogance and it kills the joy of the thing itself. Every time you see an apple or a robin that you’ve been programmed to know the name of, don’t accept that the apple is there because it should be there and it’s called an apple, therefore it’s there. Look at it as if that apple came to you from God himself and he made it fresh for you. That bird happened to fly in here so that you could see it and it doesn’t matter what it’s called, that bird right there is real. That intentionality is what focuses your mind.

Novelty is an advertisement for wonder. Click To Tweet

We forget that an apple came from a tree somewhere in the world and someone had to pick it and take it to the store and then deliver it, all these crazy things in one apple. My AC kicked on the air because California is getting hot. The AC is a modern invention that didn’t happen by chance. People had to figure out how to put this thing together to give us cool air that keeps us being able to survive in hot desert places that we never would have lived in before because we didn’t have these things to keep our temperament and climate. You hit the nail on the head, intentionality, which is fitting. It’s funny how he came back to that, we did not plan that. That is the point of having intention in the tension. These tensions are married well when we live a life of intentionality.

A couple of things to end on from a practical standpoint. Some ideas that came to my mind is we can live with intentionality around novelty versus mundane is one. Slowing down in the day to recognize the things that are new, the things that are different, the things that are special and seeing that with childlike curiosity. The second thing is having that contemplative childlike view where that curious childlike view that sees things new and doesn’t categorize them in your mind.

It’s almost a layer of mindfulness that you don’t just live your life. We, Westerners, have thrown off that whole mindfulness thing too much. We need to re-instill that in our lives so that we live with this constant state of mindfulness. It means that your brain isn’t just accepting the next task it’s carrying with it into each task a certain cache, certain storage of items that are vital. Those items are a God consciousness, an acknowledgement of God. Number two, gratitude. If you don’t have gratitude to every moment of your life, you won’t be able to win that battle.

I’ll add three, his presence. Ultimately, it’s presence. How can I be fully in this moment?

What presence means is, you let go of the past completely and you let go the future completely. This moment right here is all that matters and that right there is a tough battle.

The other thing that came to my mind was the interview you did with Brigit Ritchie. She highlighted the fact that for driven people or people that are on the mundanity side, scheduling and prioritizing fun and play in life are vital. Those are such life-giving things that pay dividends in your work, whether you believe it or not. For all the people on that side of the spectrum, be serious about having fun and having play incorporate into your life because it’s important and that is a healthy balance of novelty. At the end of the day, the tagline is finding beauty in the mundane because that is a succinct way of marrying these two and having intentionality in it. We’re going to spend our whole lives figuring out this balance as much as you guys. We’re in this journey together and that’s the point of this show.

Everyone needs to know that what we’re not talking about is a hot beverage you put into a cup that is flavored like a fiction book.

I don’t get it.

Hot beverage you put into a cup flavored like a fiction book, novel tea. I’m working on my dad jokes. My wife says I’m not dad material yet, I’m working on it.

You know we’ve talked too long when the dad joke started coming out. We thank you all for being a part of this family. If you want a t-shirt, definitely grab one and send us a pic. Until next time, A-bomb. It’s been a pleasure. For all you following, we hope you have an up and coming week.

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About Adam Setser

UAC 91 | The Tensions Of LifeVocationally I am a Financial Advisor at The Kerrigan Group, but my background is in divinity. I graduated from The Masters University in Los Angeles with my BA in Biblical Languages, and am on temporary leave from my MA in Theology at SBTS.

I am the collegiate minister at First Baptist Church Valdosta, member of Valdosta Rotary, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, and am part of Leadership Lowndes with the class of 2019.

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