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The Math Of Life - Grasshopper

The "Math of Life" is simple but not always easy.

The late entertainer Jackie Gleason said the trick to life was to be going out when the tide was going out and be coming in when it's coming in.

 

My version of life's math is this: There's a time for addition and a time for subtraction. The Bible and the singing group The Birds put it this way: "A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together." Great advice but to my mind, they have the sequence reversed.

 

The first part of life is about addition; the second part of life is about subtraction. The math is simple but the recognition and execution of this formula is not easy, simply because not letting go is something we have a death grip on.

 

We acquire all sorts of patterns, attitudes and beliefs even before we can say or define those words. For me, the first recognition was my pattern of speech. It was something that was added to me without my permission. It only became a liability when I entered broadcasting because at that time you had to sound like nobody from nowhere. Translation: no accent.

 

My added pattern of speech was now a recognized candidate for subtraction. It took a lot of work but eventually my accent faded.

 

We add all sorts of things. We begin to develop preferences, "attytudes" (as we used to say in Philadelphia) and beliefs that take on a concrete nature. That means they're hard to remove, even harder if we don't recognize we have them. Many of them weigh us down making it hard to move forward.

 

We begin the subtracting process when we recognize these mindsets aren't working for us. We begin to discover that we're not the roles we've added over the years or the descriptions of ourselves that we've acted out. Simply put: "We are not who we think we are." We come to find that we are not our additions.

 

That's when subtraction begins and life gets lighter.

 

Additions are like putting bumper stickers on top of bumper stickers. Subtraction is peeling them off one-by-one until we get down to the bare bumper: the mindset we had before we learned to add.

 

Addition and subtraction are both valuable skills to learn. The key is to recognize when in life the tide has shifted. That's our cue to begin subtracting until we get to our bare essence: Nobody from nowhere. It's a lighter load to carry and life begins to add up.

 

All the best,

John



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