Tom Shadyac: Simplicity, Community and Happiness

Today I came across an interview with Tom Shadyac and his movie, I Am. I didn’t expect to have a connection with the director of such classics films (NOT!) as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor.

I have posted the full interview (two parts) at the bottom of the page. It is all good stuff, but If you don’t want to stare at your computer or phone for 30 minutes, I have pulled out the two pieces I like the most.

Tom talks about simplicity, community, wealth and happiness. (5 minutes, 30 seconds)

Tom wraps up the interview nicely with the message of his movie. (1 minutes, 41 seconds)

I haven’t seen I Am, but I plan on watching it soon. I also reserved his book, Life’s Operating Manual: With the Fear and Truth Dialogues, from the library.


Full Interview (1 of 2)

(2 of 2)

Freedom through commitment (less is more)

The following is from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson.


Consumer culture is very good at making us want more, more, more. Underneath all the hype and marketing is the implication that more is always better. I bought into this idea for years. Make more money, visit more countries, have more experiences, be with more women.

But more is not always better. In fact, the opposite is true. We are actually often happier with less. When we’re overloaded with opportunities and options, we suffer from what psychologists refer to as the paradox of choice. Basically, the more options we’re given, the less satisfied we become with whatever we choose, because we’re aware of all the other options we’re potentially forfeiting.

So if you have a choice between two places to live and pick one, you’ll likely feel confident and comfortable that you made the right choice. You’ll be satisfied with your decision.

But if you have a choice among twenty-eight places to live and pick one, the paradox of choice says that you’ll likely spend years agonizing, doubting, and second-guessing yourself, wondering if you really made the “right” choice, and if you’re truly maximizing your own happiness. And this anxiety, this desire for certainty and perfection and success, will make you unhappy.

So what do we do? Well, if you’re like I used to be, you avoid choosing anything at all. You aim to keep your options open as long as possible. You avoid commitment.

But while investing deeply in one person, one place, one job, one activity might deny us the breadth of experience we’d like, pursuing a breadth of experience denies us the opportunity to experience the rewards of depth of experience. There are some experiences that you can have only when you’ve lived in the same place for five years, when you’ve been with the same person for over a decade, when you’ve been working on the same skill or craft for half your lifetime. Now that I’m in my thirties, I can finally recognize that commitment, in its own way, offers a wealth of opportunity and experiences that would otherwise never be available to me, no matter where I went or what I did.

When you’re pursuing a wide breadth of experience, there are diminishing returns to each new adventure, each new person or thing. When you’ve never left your home country, the first country you visit inspires a massive perspective shift, because you have such a narrow experience base to draw on. But when you’ve been to twenty countries, the twenty-first adds little. And when you’ve been to fifty, the fifty-first adds even less.

The same goes for material possessions, money, hobbies, jobs, friends, and romantic/sexual partners—all the lame superficial values people choose for themselves. The older you get, the more experienced you get, the less significantly each new experience affects you. The first time I drank at a party was exciting. The hundredth time was fun. The five hundredth time felt like a normal weekend. And the thousandth time felt boring and unimportant.

The big story for me personally over the past few years has been my ability to open myself up to commitment. I’ve chosen to reject all but the very best people and experiences and values in my life. I shut down all my business projects and decided to focus on writing full-time. Since then, my website has become more popular than I’d ever imagined possible. I’ve committed to one woman for the long haul and, to my surprise, have found this more rewarding than any of the flings, trysts, and one-night stands I had in the past. I’ve committed to a single geographic location and doubled down on the handful of my significant, genuine, healthy friendships.

And what I’ve discovered is something entirely counterintuitive: that there is a freedom and liberation in commitment. I’ve found increased opportunity and upside in rejecting alternatives and distractions in favor of what I’ve chosen to let truly matter to me.

Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you healthy and happy. Commitment makes decision-making easier and removes any fear of missing out; knowing that what you already have is good enough, why would you ever stress about chasing more, more, more again? Commitment allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goals and achieve a greater degree of success than you otherwise would. In this way, the rejection of alternatives liberates us—rejection of what does not align with our most important values, with our chosen metrics, rejection of the constant pursuit of breadth without depth.

Yes, breadth of experience is likely necessary and desirable when you’re young—after all, you have to go out there and discover what seems worth investing yourself in. But depth is where the gold is buried. And you have to stay committed to something and go deep to dig it up. That’s true in relationships, in a career, in building a great lifestyle—in everything.

Living in 420 square feet

September 2016 marks my one years anniversary of living in 420 square feet. I had been dipping my toes into minimalism for some time, but it was a year ago that I dived in, moved out of my posh-ish midtown condo, sold my car, and moved into my current studio in Downtown Atlanta.

pat-up-high-downtown
Patrick explores the new digs from the highest point he can reach

I am happy with the decision I made. Living with less has been an incredible experience. I wish I had chronicled my journey from the start, but here is the timeline in a nutshell.

  • November 2014: I place an offer on a studio in a historic downtown building (William-Oliver Building) with the intention of renting it. It is a short sale, so I am aware that the process could take a few months.
  • June 2015: Seven months of going back and forth with the bank and the deal is done. I now own a piece of Downtown Atlanta.
  • August 2015: I have decided to ramp up my minimalism game and move to the studio. In addition to cutting my living space in half, I decide to list my car for sale on eBay after the move is complete. The big purge begins.
  • September 2015: I move from 900 square feet in midtown to 420 in downtown.
elevators-at-william-oliver
the lobby and elevators at the William Oliver Building
  • October 2015: I am content with my new place. My car is sold. I begin to read more about the minimalist lifestyle.
  • November 2015: I list my midtown condo for sale. I will either sale or rent my midtown space, whichever comes first. I join an Atlanta minimalist group on Facebook.
  • December 2015: My name makes it way to the top of the rental list for the midtown condo. I receive notification from management that final approval should be granted in January. I also decide that my wardrobe could use the minimalist treatment. I opt to store all shirts and wear only 10 v-neck t-shirts in different colors. This will become my uniform.
  • January 2016: I pull my listing for the sale of the midtown unit. The condo is rented by the first tenant that views it.
  • August 2016: As my one year anniversary approaches, I decide to take my philosophy of less stuff, more living to the next level. I start looking at campers and contemplate my journey of traveling across the USA in a tiny RV.
    [Update: In January 2017, I began “My Scotty Adventure” and spent almost four months living in a tiny travel trailer while traveling across the United States.]
me-and-my-uniform
the “uniform” I adopted in December 2015

Life is good.

Saying goodbye (for now) to Facebook

facebook-bullshit

Over the past six months, I have limited my time on Facebook, opting to only post pics through my linked Instagram account.

My initial reason for taking a break from the Book of Face was not to limit the sharing, but instead to help eliminate the amount of useless crap, hateful rhetoric and political bullshit postings. Although most of my “friends” don’t know it, the unfollow button has become my new friend, allow me to ignore about 2/3 of the crew.

I often find myself returning to the time-stealing black hole of a site searching for validation on my photos (“yah… Jeffery approves of my sushi platter” or “woo-hoo… Jessica loves that I am at yet another coffee shop”). After doing so today, I felt the need to share a political posting that appeared at the top of my page.

Enough! The fucktard that is Donald Trump does not deserve to occupy my mind… or my Facebook. Plus… all of this banter about the best candidate only divides us, so I have decided to stop the madness… Facebook deactivated.

2016-07-27 03.41.47 pm

It seems that Facebook doesn’t want to let me go. Imagine that.

I am sure my clusterfuck of a brain, will have a synapse misfire and I will attempt to log back in. To remind myself of the decision to take a break, I also installed the extension Block Site.

2016-07-27 04.18.21 pm

Game on.

UPDATE (8/3/2016): It seems that each site that I have logged in with using Facebook will reactivate my FB account each time I log in. Mark Zuckerberg… you greedy bastard. 😛

Also… I grew tired of the clip-art construction worker scolding me for attempted to log in to Facebook. The BlockSite extension allows you to be redirected to another site. I have chosen Good News Network.