“Go With the Flow”: Plumbing the Unseen Depths of a Hippie Platitude

“Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”

― Chuang Tzu

“Just, like, go with the flow, dude.”

― Me

A sizable number of humans who hear the phrase, “go with the flow,” probably barely register it or associate it with some reductive hippie philosophy of yesteryear—a philosophy of laziness and complacency that overlooks the complexities and difficulties of day-to-day life.

But I’m here today to stand up for those four words, bro! Because, well, in my experience, they’re actually, like, a spectacularly concise formulation of what I consider to be potent, evergreen, life-reupholstering wisdom. To understand why, we have to take a bit of a detour.

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22 Outstanding Essays I’ve Read on the Internet

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

― Neil Gaiman

As Mr. Gaiman cleverly suggests in the opening quote, the Internet is, like, a super-sea of information, and a whole lot of the information on the web is just . . . noise-content—i.e. irrelevant, undesired, vapid, and/or bite-sized content.

In the past I’ve contrasted online “noise” vs. “meaning,” arguing that creating/sharing more meaningful content—i.e. in-depth, thought-provoking, empathy-conjuring, educational, artistic, and/or humanistically/existentially illuminating stuff—might be an important and worthwhile thing to do.

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In Praise of Idleness: Bertrand Russell on the Virtues of Leisure

“The conception of duty, speaking historically, has been a means used by the holders of power to induce others to live for the interests of their masters rather than for their own.”

― Bertrand Russell

In 1932, the British philosopher Bertrand Russell penned a poignant and paradigm-challenging essay titled “In Praise of Idleness.” In it, Russell critiqued an idea that has always been, like, fundamental to the organization of Western civilization—namely, the idea that work is inherently virtuous and an end in itself.

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25 Profound Quotes That Will Make You Question Everything

“Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I’m guilty, I confess: I love quotes. In our meme-saturated, sound-bite culture, it seems almost sacrilegious for a thinking person to celebrate aphorisms, snippets, and bits of content that can be processed in 30 seconds or less. “Read big, long, heavy books!” I ought to be saying. And I have said that. And if you want book suggestions, the Refine The Mind library is just a click away.

But, yeah, so, well, look: quotes are not a replacement for great long-form essays, world-expanding novels, or incisive non-fictional tomes. They can, however, be pretty damn thought-provoking, jarring, or moment-of-clarity-inducing. And let’s face it: meme-culture isn’t going away, and an unthinkable number of people probably read books’ worth of memes/quotes each year without reading any actual books.

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Kierkegaard + Batman: Bodacious Comic Re-Imagines Father of Existentialism as Dark Knight

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”

― Søren Kierkegaard

For quite some time now I’ve been enjoying and sharing Existential Comics, a webcomic about existentialism and other areas of philosophy. For me, Existential Comics embodies the enormous potential for entertainment and education to meld seamlessly on the Internet.

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6 Destructive Ideas Perpetuated in Western Culture

Since the day you emerged into this bizarre, sparkling universe, you’ve been conditioned to think in certain ways.

And that’s damn wonderful a lot of the time. It’s arguably a blessing that our minds learn to auto-dismiss certain notions—like, say, walking off of that cliff or stabbing Uncle Melvin with a butter knife—and auto-accept others.

But it’s also problematic. Because, well, our minds are gullible—sufficiently gullible, at least, to spend the first decade or seven of our lives unconsciously internalizing the dominant ways of thinking of our culture.

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“Dominator” vs. “Partnership” Cultures: A Profound Re-Telling of Human History

“In sum, the struggle for our future is . . . the struggle between those who cling to patterns of domination and those working for a more equitable partnership world.”

— Riane Eisler

Recently, I’ve written a couple of essays about the present global situation. One of those essays focused on the sociocultural dysfunctions of America and the other elaborated how the 500-year history of Western colonialism and imperialism that birthed our modern world has rendered the “problems of America” inextricable from the problems of the human race.

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Do Something: A Short Diatribe

“Be quiet, play by the rules, stand in line,” the system implicitly tells us.

To hell with that. Break the rules. Open your eyes. Make some noise. Our institutions and sociocultural structures are failing us, and now is the time to take notice. Economic inequality has never been greater. Billions of people are living in poverty, starving, and/or dying of preventable diseases. Hate and misunderstanding abound. Education is broken. Wars rage on. Our air is unclean. Our food is full of chemicals. Environmental crises loom. The list is endless.

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The Intersection of Activism, Art, & Acceptance: An Open Letter to Critics

“Self-censorship is insulting to the self. Timidity is a hopeless way forward.”

― Ai Weiwei

In the wake of publishing my recent piece on the sociocultural dysfunctions of the United States, a few people have criticized me. More specifically, a few Internet-folks have suggested that my emphasis on the need for change in our present global situation is problematic for various reasons.

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A Brief History of the Modern World (Or, How the West Took Over)

The ridiculous story of the bloody and violent process of “globalization” and the empires that birthed our modern world.

Last week, I published an essay called ‘How it Feels to be a Young American in 2014.’ It ended up being the most controversial and heavily discussed piece that has ever appeared on this website. In it, I attempted to articulate the complex and various ways in which the sociocultural structures of the United States tend to do physical (death, disease, imprisonment, etc.) and psychological (cyclic feelings of inadequacy, guilt, anxiety, etc.) violence to the general public.

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