On breadcrumbs & basket weaving (aka Life Experiment #4)

Young bird

So if you think I haven’t been blog­ging as much: you’re right.

Over the past few weeks, my per­sonal Plan B Nation has become an increas­ingly busy place, and while that’s mainly a very good thing, it’s also entail­ing some read­just­ments and recalibrations.

As you may have read, last month’s Life Exper­i­ment—tak­ing a photo every­day as I learned to use my new dig­i­tal cam­era—came to an abrupt end only days after it began.  I real­ized I sim­ply couldn’t add another thing to my plate. While at first I saw this as a fail­ure (bad!), I ended up real­iz­ing that it was doing what any good exper­i­ment should: Giv­ing me use­ful information.

In that spirit, I’m tak­ing this month’s Life Exper­i­ment in a some­what dif­fer­ent direc­tion. Instead of focus­ing on an activ­ity, I’ll be play­ing with metaphor and shift­ing perspective.

I recently wrote about how I’m try­ing to bring more play­ful­ness into my life—to still get things done but to have more light­ness in the doing.  For much of my foray in Plan B Nation, Get­ting Things Done has felt like accom­plish­ment enough. On some days sim­ply get­ting out of bed felt like a pretty big deal.

But lately, I’ve come to won­der if things have to feel so grim. In par­tic­u­lar, I’ve been think­ing about the role of metaphor. Which brings me to bread­crumbs and bas­ket weav­ing, aka Life Exper­i­ment #4.

On Bread­crumbs …

Instead of march­ing through a to-do list, I’m a bird fol­low­ing bread crumbs.  Bread­crumbs are: Nour­ish­ing.  A bird doesn’t order itself to fol­low a trail of bread­crumbs. That comes nat­u­rally. A trail of bread­crumbs invites you on. You don’t have to think about it.

I’ve been play­ing with this over the past few weeks, and I like how it’s feel­ing.  Look­ing for the next bread­crumb is way bet­ter than push­ing myself to Be More Productive.

and bas­ket weaving

Another big chal­lenge has been feel­ing that I’m mov­ing in too many dif­fer­ent direc­tions. By nature and habit, I go for depth rather than for breadth. I like to focus on one thing, to give it my full attention.

Of course, that isn’t always possible—it isn’t for me right now—so I’ve been mulling over how I can keep doing lots of things but feel a lit­tle less stressed. The answer, at least for now, seems to be bas­ket weaving.

Instead of see­ing life as pulling me in dis­parate con­flict­ing direc­tions, I’m think­ing of my var­i­ous activ­i­ties as strands in a sin­gle  bas­ket. The chal­lenge is weav­ing them together. The chal­lenge is cre­at­ing a whole. What I was view­ing as a source of stress has become a cre­ative project.

Which isn’t to say that I really like being all this busy. I’m hop­ing (expect­ing) that by April’s end, things will have set­tled down. In the mean­time, I plan to do what I can to hold the sit­u­a­tion lightly—to fol­low the trail of bread­crumbs and prac­tice bas­ket weaving.

Note: My inter­est in how metaphor can shape expe­ri­ence was sparked by The Flu­ent Self’s Havi Brooks–if you’re inter­ested in read­ing more, she’s writ­ten loads on the topic.

Basket Weaving

Why follow-through is overrated

trying to look perfect

This month’s Life Exper­i­ment has been a total bust. Except that it’s also been a total suc­cess. Let me explain.

As some read­ers will recall, I began this month with the idea that I would take at least one pho­to­graph each day. I was inter­ested in how this would shift the way I moved through the world and also viewed it as an oppor­tu­nity to learn to use a recently acquired but lan­guish­ing dig­i­tal camera.

All of this made sense in the­ory. In prac­tice? Not so much. Here’s how it played out.

At the end of a har­ried Day 1, I snapped a hasty photo with my iPhone. (Bet­ter than noth­ing, I told myself.)

Day 2, same thing.

By Day 3 or 4, I’d for­got­ten about it. Ditto the days that fol­lowed. Until at some point over the next week I real­ized that this wasn’t happening.

My first reac­tion was to get stressed out over my follow-through fail­ure. What was I going to write this month? What would I say to you readers?

But the more I thought about it, the more I saw another pos­si­bil­ity.  After all, this was billed as an exper­i­ment. No, it hadn’t gone off as planned, but that was entirely dif­fer­ent from say­ing that it had been a total loss. I decided—as an experiment—to adopt a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, to detach the expe­ri­ence from the goal and ask what it had to teach me.

Here’s what I found:

1. I need to recon­nect with my core purpose.

When I embarked on monthly Life Exper­i­ments at the start of 2012, my goal wasn’t to cre­ate yet another to-do list. Rather it was to explore how chang­ing one thing in my life might lead to other unex­pected shifts. Over time, I’ve started to lose track of this, and my “exper­i­ments” have come to feel more and more like 30-day Chal­lenges. Be more pro­duc­tive! Just do it!  That wasn’t what I’d been aim­ing for, but it’s where I ended up. Time for some reflec­tion and retuning.

2. I need to do less, not more.

The rea­son I wasn’t tak­ing pho­tos was very sim­ple. I’m really really busy!  Over the past six months, I’ve gone from strug­gling to fill my days with mean­ing­ful activ­i­ties to a jam-packed sched­ule, with free­lance dead­lines, work­shop facil­i­tat­ing, friends, exer­cise, and life main­te­nance all vying for time. This is in many ways a good thing, but it also has its own chal­lenges, which I need to find ways to address. (Also: I need to take time to appre­ci­ate how far I’ve come!)

3.  I need to do more to infuse my life with playfulness.

I recently wrote about an ah hah recog­ni­tion that I need more play­ful­ness in my life. Dur­ing my time in Plan B Nation, I’ve taken a lot of pride in my abil­ity to sim­ply carry on, to put one foot in front of the other dur­ing hard and uncer­tain times. There have been days—and not a few—when sim­ply get­ting out of bed felt like a real accom­plish­ment. It seemed like enough that I could say, in the words of 12-step pro­grams every­where, that I’d man­aged to “take the next right action.”

But I’ve come to see that, while this approach can be help­ful in times of cri­sis, it’s not (for me) the best approach to life over the long haul. Over the long haul, I want to be happy, not sim­ply to endure. Get­ting things done is cer­tainly part of a happy life, but it’s far from sufficient.

Lan­guage plays a big role here: The more I think about this issue, the more aware I am of how the words I use shape the qual­ity of my daily expe­ri­ence. Tool kit. Task List. March­ing orders. This is the lan­guage of com­mand and con­trol. This is the lan­guage that, all too often, I use when I talk to myself (when issu­ing march­ing orders).

It doesn’t have to be this way.

For exam­ple, instead of “next right action” how about “bread­crumbs”? Think fairy tales, think Hansel and Gre­tel and the trail they left to find their way back home. (Okay, so in the story birds eat the bread, but I still like the metaphor.)

Over the past few years, I’ve thought a lot about what qual­i­ties help us thrive while trav­el­ing Plan B Nation (and other psy­cho­log­i­cally harsh ter­rains), and it seems to me that one of the most impor­tant is the qual­ity of open­ness. By this, I mean the abil­ity to see alter­na­tives and pos­si­bil­ity where we might eas­ily see failure.

In a fea­ture story about famous acci­den­tal dis­cov­er­ies, the Daily Beast recounts how the dis­cov­ery of peni­cillin came about after Scot­tish bac­te­ri­ol­o­gist Andrew Flem­ing noticed that mold had started to grow on some cul­tures he’d left exposed. Years later, he toured a state-of-the-art med­ical lab, far cleaner than the one where his sci­en­tific break­through occurred.

If you had worked here, think of what you could have invented,” his guide remarked.

Fleming’s cool response: “Not penicillin.”

Dazed & Confused in Plan B Nation

268/365 - Default State

In July 2010, amidst con­tin­ued fall-out from the Great Reces­sion, the New York Times pub­lished a front-page story about an unem­ployed col­lege grad­u­ate liv­ing with his par­ents in a Boston sub­urb who’d just turned down a $40,000-a-year job as an insur­ance claims adjustor.

I am absolutely cer­tain that my job hunt will even­tu­ally pay off,” said 24-year-old Scott Nichol­son, a Col­gate Uni­ver­sity hon­ors grad­u­ate with a degree in polit­i­cal sci­ence, explain­ing his deci­sion to hold out for some­thing bet­ter even after two years of fruit­less searching.

The piece quickly became noto­ri­ous, set­ting off a tsunami of online comments—1,487 at last count—the vast major­ity express­ing out­rage at what read­ers per­ceived as an absurd sense of enti­tle­ment enabled by a too-indulgent family.

Turn­ing down a job for $40,000 a year after grad­u­at­ing from a sec­ond tier (at best) school because he is too good for the posi­tion? The kid deserves what­ever hard­ship he endures,” was one typ­i­cally harsh response.

I recently thought back to this article—and the heated debate that ensued—when I got a call from a friend who heads up a big depart­ment of a big orga­ni­za­tion. She’d read some of my posts about the chal­lenges of look­ing for work after the Great Reces­sion and wanted to share her own quite dif­fer­ent perspective.

I can’t give jobs away!” he (or she—I promised anonymity) insisted. “Nobody knows how to work any­more. They’ll say ‘I might have to miss yoga today, and that’s not okay.’”

I have to say I found this fas­ci­nat­ing. And while it was (and is) hard for me to believe that the sit­u­a­tion for employ­ers is really quite so bleak, I did start to notice other signs of sim­i­lar frus­tra­tion. For exam­ple this plain­tive tweet from a local tech entre­pre­neur, for­merly of Microsoft: “Why do so few job appli­cants bother to fol­low up? And some of the best cover let­ters don’t even show up for interviews.”

The more I thought about it, the more con­vinced I became that such behav­iors, along with the result­ing frus­tra­tion, can be traced to a pro­found con­fu­sion about what work is and is not, as well as what it should be—a con­fu­sion now thrown into relief by the stres­sor of hard times.

It’s not news that the so-called millennials—the cohort now enter­ing the workforce—grew up with extra­or­di­nary expec­ta­tions fueled by Baby Boomer par­ents who encour­aged them to dream big. Fur­ther feed­ing such atti­tudes was the Oprah-fication of Amer­i­can pop­u­lar cul­ture along with self-help clas­sics such as Do What You Love and the Money Will Fol­low and the mega-bestseller The Secret, which posits a “law of attrac­tion” that allows each of us to “man­i­fest” our desires. Even the pop­u­lar maxim that “any­one can be pres­i­dent” (never mind the nation’s declin­ing place on social mobil­ity mea­sures) can be traced to this cul­tural strand.

At the same time, our nation is deeply rooted in the Puri­tan work ethic, with its empha­sis on fru­gal­ity, dis­ci­pline, and self-reliance. Such teach­ings have been with us from early days, find­ing expres­sion in the best-selling writ­ings of Ben­jamin Franklin up on through present-day polit­i­cal rhetoric. (Think Mitt Romney’s tire­less if prob­lem­atic claims of being a self-made man.)

Fol­low your dreams, what­ever it takes.  Pay your own way, what­ever it takes.

That mil­len­ni­als are strug­gling should come as no sur­prise, given these exact­ing and often con­flict­ing cul­tural expec­ta­tions. Those of us who came of age in the Boom Years may have man­aged to bridge the two. But when money is scarce and jobs are few (Hello, New Nor­mal!), this is no easy feat.

So what’s a mil­len­nial sup­posed to do? Pre­sented with con­flict­ing absolutes, how are they sup­posed to choose?

This is pre­cisely the sort of dilemma con­sid­ered by Har­vard psy­chol­o­gist Robert Kegan in In Over Our Heads: The Men­tal Demands of Mod­ern Life. As Kegan sees it, we live in an age where demands are many and often at odds, and guide­lines for choos­ing between them are scarce. At the same time, rel­a­tively few of us are suf­fi­ciently grounded in our own beliefs to stand up to social pres­sures and chart an inde­pen­dent course—to be what Kegan calls “self author­ing.” That’s not such a big prob­lem when society’s expec­ta­tions are con­sis­tent. But when a cul­ture makes the sort of con­flict­ing demands that ours rou­tinely does, things can turn ugly very quickly.

Which is where many mil­len­ni­als find them­selves right now: Want­ing to do the Right Thing but with­out a way to decide what that right thing is. Where is the line between self-confidence and enti­tle­ment? Where is the line between admirable risk-taking and fool­ish behav­ior? Where is the line between being respon­si­ble and giv­ing up?

Depend­ing on whom a mil­len­nial asks, they’re likely to get dif­fer­ent answers, and regard­less of which one they choose, they’re likely to find them­selves at odds with some­one whose opin­ion they value. There may not be much that we can do right now to change this cul­tural con­text. What we can do is to acknowl­edge that Scott Nichol­son and other mil­len­ni­als have good rea­son to feel dazed and confused.

 

Edited 3/15/12: Var­i­ous non-substantive revi­sions for style and clarification.

Playtime in Plan B Nation

Girls skipping at an athletics carnival

I launched this blog late last year with the goal of explor­ing strate­gies for deal­ing with the psy­cho­log­i­cal after­math of the Great Recession.

Since then, I’ve cast a pretty wide net, with posts focused on eco­nomic and labor pol­icy as well as per­sonal tac­tics for nav­i­gat­ing Plan B Nation, but in a world where so much is beyond our con­trol, I remain espe­cially intrigued by how we make the most of the lim­ited swath within it.

To that end, I’ve spent count­less hours reflect­ing on what behav­iors and approaches best equip us thrive in these tur­bu­lent times. A recent (and sur­pris­ing) addi­tion to my list: The qual­ity of playfulness.

A big push in this direc­tion came some weeks back when I started read­ing Havi Brooks’ seri­ously play­ful Flu­ent Self blog. And when I say “seri­ously play­ful” that’s exactly what I mean. As I dove into the magic-kingdom secret-language world of The Flu­ent Self, I watched myself soak up play­ful­ness like a parched plant soaks up water.

In par­tic­u­lar, I was drawn to Havi’s explicit atten­tion to the deploy­ment of language—the invent­ing of new words and metaphors to trans­form expe­ri­ence. It’s some­thing I’ve been play­ing (play­ing!) with for the last cou­ple of weeks, and while the whole thing is still a work in progress (game!), it’s been a fas­ci­nat­ing exploration.

Play­ing with lan­guage often seems to help me step back. To detach from what­ever expe­ri­ence I’m hav­ing, and assess it from a dif­fer­ent angle. It stops being The Truth. It becomes Some­thing to Look At. Play­ing with lan­guage can be an act of kind­ness toward myself.

An exam­ple of what I’m talk­ing about:

The other day, I was feel­ing espe­cially oppressed by the run­ning “Project List” I keep on my com­puter. Tak­ing a leaf from Havi’s book, I decided that—just for fun, as an experiment—I’d try call­ing it some­thing else. I jot­ted down my five pri­or­ity items and labeled them “Scruf­fles.” Strange and even kooky as this may sound, I instantly light­ened up. “I need to do my Scruf­fles,” I told myself, and quickly knocked them off.

Sim­i­larly, when I recently found myself brood­ing over some­thing that I’d thought through zil­lions of times before, I coined a new word for the expe­ri­ence: Quan­dri­fi­ca­tion (the prac­tice of pro­lif­er­at­ing quandaries).

As with “Scruf­fles,” this new word also made me smile.  And once I was smil­ing, I began to see dif­fer­ent pos­si­ble ways of being with the under­ly­ing feel­ings.  I didn’t have to keep re-playing my thoughts like a bro­ken vinyl record. I could ask myself “What do I need right now? What would make this better?”

A lot of what I’ve writ­ten about on this blog is famil­iar territory—things that I’ve known in some shape or form seem­ingly for­ever. Prac­tice grat­i­tude and patience. Invest in rela­tion­ships and com­mu­nity life. Con­nect with a sense of pur­pose. Break big goals into the small­est pos­si­ble steps.   It’s not the con­cepts that are new but rather the chal­lenge of weav­ing them into life in Plan B Nation.

But play­ful­ness? I hadn’t really given it much thought. And if I had, I likely would have dis­missed it out of hand. This nose-to-the-grindstone feel­ing of mov­ing stolidly for­ward, isn’t it to be expected? Isn’t that sim­ply part and par­cel of life in Plan B Nation?

I’m begin­ning to think not. At least not most of the time. Yes, play­ful­ness can seem friv­o­lous, an unnec­es­sary add-on. But that’s only until we start to see that it’s absolutely essential.

Why the Internet is like snow

It’s not a Mac. It’s a Lesnowvo ThinkPad.

Sat­ur­day was really busy though I got almost noth­ing done. I did, how­ever, spend a lot of time lost in cyber­space.  If the day passed in a blur, my take-away was clear: The time has come for me to reclaim my so-called (online) life.

But how to go about it?

In the social media cul­ture wars—Face­book, force for good or evil?—I come down unabashedly on the pos­i­tive side. Thanks to the Inter­net, I’ve recon­nected with child­hood friends and made many new ones. I’ve found jobs, kept up with the news, learned where to get my bike repaired, and heard about new nov­els.  Sim­ply put, I can’t imag­ine my time in Plan B Nation with­out the sup­port, good cheer, and humor that I’ve found online.

That being said, there are lim­its. I hit mine last week­end and went look­ing for strategies.

I started with one of my favorite blog­gers, Havi Brooks, who thinks of the Inter­net as a river and has a com­pre­hen­sive tech­nique for man­ag­ing her time there. I liked the idea in the­ory, but it didn’t really speak to me. Then I came upon an image con­jured by R. Tay­lor, who said he finds it use­ful to think of the Inter­net as a mall.

The Inter­net as Mall. Bingo! I felt a click.

It’s said that Eski­mos have hun­dreds of words for snow. In fact, this turns out to be the Inuit equiv­a­lent of an urban myth, but nonethe­less it got me thinking.

There isn’t a sin­gle Inter­net. Rather our Inter­nets are legion.

There’s the infor­ma­tion kiosk-Internet, the water cooler-Internet, the research-library Inter­net, the employ­ment office-Internet, and the linen-and-housewares-store Inter­net, to name just a few that I frequent.

There’s also the Giant Gabfest Party Inter­net, and that, too, has its place.

It hit me that the prob­lem wasn’t inher­ent to any one of these. The prob­lem was in my not being clear on which one I planned to visit. Ditto for what I wanted to accom­plish there and how long I planned to stay.

Over the past two days, I’ve been work­ing on this. Here’s what I’ve been doing (most of the time, any­way): Before I sign on, I ask three ques­tions: Which Inter­net? For what? How long? I jot down the answers. For exam­ple: “Infor­ma­tion kiosk. Find out how to delete track changes com­ments on a Word doc. 5 min­utes.” Or: Water cooler.  Check FB & email. 15 minutes.”

And you know what? Once I have this sort of plan in place, I’m pretty good at stick­ing to it. I don’t drift mind­lessly from email to Face­book to web surf­ing. Instead, I do what I came for, and then I leave.

Build­ing on this, it occurred to me that, if I were plan­ning a trip to the mall, I could use a shop­ping list. In life offline, I don’t drive to the mall to buy printer paper, get home, and then five min­utes later, drive right back to buy cat food. No. I keep a list of what I need to do at the mall, and when I get there, I do all it at once.

So that’s what I’ve started doing for my trips to the Inter­net mall. When I think of an email I need to send or some­thing non-urgent I want to look up (as in: What movie is play­ing this Fri­day at Pop­corn Noir?), it goes on the Inter­net shop­ping list. It can wait for the next sched­uled trip.

Not sur­pris­ingly, plan­ning my Inter­net trips and using my shop­ping list has made me increas­ingly aware of my ten­dency to reflex­ively jump online for no real rea­son except that my mind is wan­der­ing and the Inter­net is there.

When that Go-There-Now impulse kicks up—and I’ve never seen a bet­ter depic­tion of its siren call than this essay in Orion—I’ve found it’s use­ful to have a list of Things To Do Instead.  For exam­ple: Make tea, pick up 10 things, read the news­pa­per and put it out for recy­cling.  Or, to take another tip from Havi: What lit­tle thing can I take care of right now that would make life bet­ter for Slightly-Future-Me?

It’s always struck me as silly to say that the Inter­net is LIKE THIS or Face­book is LIKE THAT—akin to say­ing that the tele­phone is LIKE THIS or hand­writ­ten let­ters (if you remem­ber those) are LIKE THAT.  All of them are just means, ways to con­nect. As it hap­pens, Eski­mos don’t have hun­dreds of words for snow. I, how­ever, could use at least that many for my Internet.

Note:  Have you found help­ful strate­gies for man­ag­ing your time online? If so, please share them below.

In praise of erring

Guiding Light

I was hang­ing out at Sip yes­ter­day, doing my usual thing: Get­ting a lit­tle writ­ing done, drink­ing a lot of coffee.

But as I worked (and sipped) I found myself dis­tracted by two young women a few tables away. It’s not that they were loud, it’s that they were inter­est­ing.  At first, I just thought (as I often do) what a great town this is!  From there, it was a quick leap to “You know what? I’d like to meet them.”

A quick leap in my mind, but an awk­ward one to enact. This is what I thought as I fin­gered two busi­ness cards I’d pulled from my bag and con­tem­plated next steps. For a few min­utes more, I went back and forth. And then: I just did it.

I approached their table, smil­ing. Cau­tious smiles in response. I blath­ered some­thing about how I couldn’t help but overhear—and I knew that this must seem sort of strange—but that they just sounded so inter­est­ing that I’d decided to say Hi!

And you know what? They were lovely. Exactly like they’d sounded.

Not sur­pris­ingly, this being the town that it is, we already shared friends. Kate co-owns the vibrant Imp­ish, a “mis­chie­vously play­ful” Northamp­ton children’s store that I’ve vis­ited with my friend Sarah, whom Kate also knows.  Fran is a for­mer busi­ness law stu­dent of my pro­fes­sor friend Jen­nifer and about to begin a new job on Maine’s  same-sex mar­riage cam­paign. (I knew they were interesting!)

My friend Naomi quotes her mother as say­ing “Always err on the side of gen­eros­ity.” This encounter got me to think­ing how the same could just as well be said about human connection.

There are many times when the “right” course of action isn’t totally clear. If we’re going to over-steer, in which direc­tion should we risk erring?

Always steer­ing towards human con­nec­tion strikes me as a good default rule.  And I say this not just because it sounds good but for very prac­ti­cal reasons.

Look­ing back, I see that, time and again, the choice to con­nect has enriched my life in many and var­i­ous ways. No, not each and every time but more often than you might think.

A cou­ple of recent exam­ples relat­ing to this blog:

After writ­ing about celebrity blog­ger Pene­lope Trunk, I tweeted the post to her on a lark. To my sur­prise (and delight) she read it and left a lovely com­ment, which lifted my spir­its on a day that my spir­its needed lifting.

More recently, I wrote the (tongue-in-cheek) post “I Should Be You” about The Flu­ent Self’s mag­i­cal Havi Brooks, and once again, sent it on with no real expec­ta­tion of response. When she linked to the post, it resulted in my blog’s high­est traffic-ever day—and, in the process, con­nected me with a bunch of really won­der­ful people.

I’ve also gained a lot from being on the other side of the equation–the per­son being con­nected to rather than the con­nec­tor. The fact that I’m liv­ing in this town at all is largely due to the fact that the afore­men­tioned Jen­nifer (my law school class­mate) wrote me a warm con­grat­u­la­tory note after my first novel came out. We’d been friendly but not really “friends” before—and out of touch for years. Today, much of the good in my life can be traced to that out-of-the-blue email.

Another reminder came this week via writer Car­olyn Nash (a pen name), who’d read that I work with fos­ter kids and left a com­ment on my blog offer­ing to send a copy of Rais­ing Abel, her fos­ter care mem­oir. As it hap­pened, I’d already heard about the book on Work­stew and been mean­ing to find it. (“A woman of remark­able resource­ful­ness single-handedly raises a trou­bled child all the way to man­hood in this inti­mate and inspir­ing blog-to-book mem­oir,” is how Kirkus Reviews describes it.)  I told her I was eager to read it. And I’m already writ­ing about it.

Of course, not all attempts to con­nect will yield the hoped-for con­nec­tions. In another life, when I was writ­ing thrillers, I mus­tered up my courage, and placed a call to some­one I’d been friendly with in col­lege, who some­times reviewed books. I caught her at a bad time. She was icy. The call ended quickly. I felt terrible.

Think­ing about this phone call now—still clear in my mind after all this years—it occurs to me that it’s an excel­lent exam­ple of the human “neg­a­tiv­ity bias.”  As described by Buddha’s Brain author Rick Han­son, our brains are “Vel­cro for neg­a­tive expe­ri­ences but Teflon for pos­i­tive ones.” This is because our brains evolved to keep us from get­ting eaten, not with the goal of assur­ing that we live happy and pleas­ant lives. As Han­son sees it, we need to do what we can to push back this tendency.

For me, choos­ing con­nec­tion is one way to do this. Life is full of risks, and the choices we make on any given day won’t always leave us delighted. But by erring on the side of human con­nec­tion, I’m pretty sure we raise our odds.