Life is a lot like gambling: with diminishing risk return over time.

In order to be successful in any one pursuit it takes up time and resources devoted to that pursuit. This of course diminishes time and resources to any other pursuit so one’s life becomes defined by that chosen pursuit. They say if you will be a millionaire you will be so by age 25 as after that the chances diminish enormously statistically.

This is because below the age of 25 it is easier to take a risk and devote all your resources to a singular pursuit. After age 25 people have accumulated more in their life that each thing or part takes time and resources and investment in order to maintain, ie friends and relationships, commitments, and stuff.

It is easier to gamble for successes below age 25 as there is really nothing too loose. After age 25 we tend to have accumulated things, commitments, and relations thus we have more to lose and therefore become rightly so more risk adverse.

People over age 25 who continue to take risks might not be the best people to be in relationship with or be the best at parenting.  Their ability to have balance is counter their ability to take risk  as it is the balance itself that has to be put on the table and gambled to be successful.  Again easier done below age 25 for if you crash:   savings, relationships, time, all is at that point replaceable.

When you read about people who have it all, they gambled and won at a young age or were left with the resources to start with then they scaled back appropriately as they accumulated things of value to them, friends, relations.   They no longer are risking it all. They are focusing on balance.    After kids are grown and one is retired there is another opportunity to risk,  the Grandma Moses phenomena.

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Doing that thing

Every day all day long I see different versions of the same thing: Women who whenever they have a decision to make , make the wrong one by trying to do the right one.

Life is a game and when you try to play it based on the rules you learned growing up it can only work such that you created a life in which it can work. What this means is that the rules are not innate. They are not true in and of themselves no matter what you were told to be true. Therefor you can’t expect anyone else to actually follow those rules as again they are not of some greater truth but solely local and cultural no matter what you were taught to believe.  If you want those rules you learned  as a child actually apply to your life then throughout your life you need to  only introduce people into your life that reflect the same set of rules you believe.  Once you accept this look at those rules and decide if those are the rules  you wish to choose to be the rules of your game. They need not be true they only have to be chosen to be your truth. That is the definition of belief. Remember you can always choose a different set of rules if you find the ones you grew up with to be inadequate to meet the intent or goal of your life.

When you have to find people who reflect whatever given set of rules you choose to subscribe to these mutually accepted rules are definition of culture. Don’t expect anyone to believe or follow them in of itself as again they are not innately true! You have to get good at observing and seeing people for who they really are and how they truly behave without interpretation, excuses, or enabling.  Enabling is when you need these rules and truths to be true so you interpret others behaviors within the scope of your rules, making excuses and covering for them. It can’t work forever because it just isn’t true and this need for a “truth” makes it all about you rather than about reality. In this case  it can’t be mutual or reciprocal as no one is communicating or negotiating the different realities they actually live in.

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The Promise

One of the largest philosophical impediments I find working with people in our culture is the promise. We are taught an expectation of what will be that can be described by redemption, resolution, justice, love, forgiveness, the answer, the secret, all these are manifestations of some perfect utopic future picture that puts us in the position of victim to anything that happens in actual reality.   If what is supposed to be doesn’t happen we are unable to deal with what actually does happen leaving us in angry tantrum or depressive disillusionment.

The promise makes us victims and also allows us to be easily manipulated by anyone who promises to fulfill our expectations. We are unable to check into reality to see if the promised is being delivered. Instead we make excuses for them as we really need what they say to be true.

If you remove the promise or fixed expectation then, reality is what it is. But this “IS” are tools to be used toward Intent; The future to become what it will become.

Politicians are examples of the empty promise. Trump and Bernie Sanders both speak in utopic promising tweets . Living in their reality create victims of which will be angry or disillusioned.

Suicide bombers kill themselves and others based on the Promise. All lies. Manipulated by their religious leader promising utopic redemption, 40 virgins, reward and love in the afterlife.

Another working example is a woman I saw recently: She had been sexually abused as a child. She never told anyone and 30 years later she is paralyzed and angry.  Today in her reality she remains a victim. Her future vision  requires some justice or redemption that in reality will never occur. But she will wait and tantrum until it does. She continually seeks and gives herself up to those who promise justice or redemption and is again and again manipulated and victimized by them.

What she doesn’t realize is today her past experiences even her abuse are tools. Experiences used as tools can be recycled to empower both herself and others. One example would be for her to volunteer thus be a role model in a battered woman’s shelter. Shit makes the best fertilizer if you see it for what it is and for what it can become.

It is her choice. As it is all of ours.

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One great Learning disorder:

There are a zillion variations of speech, language, and processing issues that all get umbrella’d under the diagnosis of adhd (attention deficit disorder) in this country. There are many reasons for this but money is the root cause. Each of these issues can certainly cause a lack of focus and attention but the treatment of each is specific to the balance of underlying issues. In this country they all just get Adderall. As the child grows despite Adderall these underlying issues become more apparent and in some cases Adderall makes them worse. In this country instead of realizing this many kids then get a psychiatric diagnosis on top of the attention deficit diagnosis. The psychiatric medications blunt out the nuances so the child might coast for a long time but we can’t reformat brains. Inevitably the underlying learning disorders will manifest themselves again but there are no available resources for learning issues in adults.
If a person is lucky enough not to be born with any learning, speech, or processing issues to get misdiagnosed in this country. Marijuana use will provide plenty opportunity to start the process for these lucky healthy born kids. Marijuana use in children and young adults causes a multitude of processing, focus, attention and motivational issues. Many of which will be misdiagnosed and treated with Adderall and later be labeled with psychiatric diagnoses. As marijuana use is becoming ubiquitous in teens and young adults no one will get to miss out on the fun and pharmaceutical futures are looking real good.
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Sexual abuse prevention for the tween age by the recognition of coercion:

For many years to educate and arm children against sexual abuse I have used the book A Very Touching Book…for Little People and for Big People  – July, 1983 by Jan Hindman.

In the book Jan points out the traditional good touch and bad touch is to ambiguous and hard for children to understand but secret touch, that in which you aren’t supposed to tell anyone about, is always bad.

This secret touch idea worked fine until a tween presented. According to her mom she was developing rapidly including her breasts and pubic hair and she was very proud of all her new bumps and bits. One day she asked he mom if her best friend, a girl her same age who herself was developing rapidly, could take a shower with her. Up until now, before they had developed, they had done this many times and her mom said she had thought nothing of it. This time mom said no based on their developed bodies. She thought to herself I shouldn’t let her do anything with girls that I wouldn’t let her do with boys. Mom explained to the girls that they did nothing wrong in asking, in fact it’s great they asked but as their bodies have developed it would be socially inappropriate to continue to shower together. As to why, mom explained that kids her age are all at different stages in sexual development. Some, like they were, are just getting used to and exploring their new body and there’s nothing sexual at all about it. Others, the same age, will have sexual feelings and even be masturbating and for them, touch is an entirely different thing. It’s fine if they want to explore and masturbate by themselves privately but it is not ok at this age to explore or touch someone else. Although developmentally normal, it is socially inappropriate and it would most likely rapidly become coercive. Mom was right and it led me to think:

At this age, tween and up, “Secret touch” no longer can work as a gage for what to do or not do. She is already exploring her body and soon she will be masturbating and that isn’t something she will announce to the world. Also tweens and teens are all about secrets. Secrets are wrapped up in their self-identity and friendships. The “anything you can’t shout to the world is wrong” doesn’t work. It is as functional now as good touch bad touch was before.

Instead as a new gauge for behavior I would like to offer Coercion as the litmus test.

There are three basic forms of human manipulation or coercion as described in the book The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure – November 1, 1997 by James Redfield

Redfield calls them control dramas.

1)      The dangling Carrot – I will love you if, I won’t be your friend unless, no one will like you unless, you have to do it to be likable.

2)      Intimidation – do it or else

3)      Guilt – you are making me suffer by not doing.. It’s your fault.

At the age of 12 girls should be able to understand the concept of coercion. I explained it’s a form of bullying.

I explained how fast and easy experimentation can turn into coercion. Especially if one person starts to pull back, change their mind, or say no. The other will cycle through all three to get them to give in and behave inappropriately. It is always inappropriate to allow oneself to be coerced. It is imperative to tell someone or seek help as the consequence will always be worse by allowing oneself to be coerced than the embarrassment of whatever the behavior was that was going on in the first place.

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the real marijuana


for an excellent education on the actual consequences and effects of marijuana check out this video.

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More uninvited advice:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I probably have a big mouth. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

A friend of mine recently conveyed info about a fight between her partner and another friend. I found the exchange interesting and I wanted some perspective on it, so I wrote it up as an anonymous situation with all the names changed and sent it to an advice columnist in a paper which no one who knows her reads. I told my friend that I did it and sent her a copy. She was very upset. I had no idea she would be, but even though there was no exposure involved, she felt as if she’d been betrayed.

I guess I didn’t realize it was a confidence because it wasn’t presented to me as such. Now I wonder if I am some kind of asshole. If I’d done it behind her back, I could understand her reaction. But I think my innocence of intent was expressed by the fact that I was completely open about it. I didn’t go around telling her friends what happened. I’m not the sort to spread rumors or give away secrets. I just sent an anonymous letter to a column her friends would never see.

Now I feel guilty and awful even though I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. At the same time, I know I wouldn’t have been upset by the same thing, under the same circumstances.

Am I just too open? Or am I just a jerk?

A Nonymous


Dear A Nonymous

You are not a jerk you had good intentions. The problem is that advice in any form helps only if the parties involved ask for help- otherwise it is always seen as an invasion of privacy.

Even if you are 100% absolutely correct, that is beside the point. Next time, observe and take notes of their behaviors for yourself and your future self-help book… but don’t send them a copy.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: No one likes to see their personal life displayed on a public page, no matter how much anonymity is involved.

Your intentions may have been in the right place, but your sense of tact was way off. All I can say is that I hope you expressed understanding and that your friendship is solid enough to withstand an oops. Weak friendships have fallen apart over less than this. But deeper understanding between people doesn’t come from constant harmony as much as it does from being tested by the trials of life. That’s how we know who our real friends are. If you’re really friends, you’ll work this out.

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More Advice:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

You say giving advice does not work, people just will not listen. Yet a friend of mine saw a psychic… and her advice changed my friend’s life!

Vincent Price


Dear Vincent,

Yes indeed in a previous blog I explained how advice doesn’t work, people just do not listen. But indeed there are conditions when advice does work. Mostly it boils down to this- if advice is asked for it is sometimes listened to, especially is the advice giver is seen as “The Expert”.  But advice can also work if it is subtly manipulative i.e. you don’t realize you’re being advised.

In all mental health fields they tell you not to give advice. You can listen, encourage, do corrective paraphrasing… but do not tell anyone what they should do. People reject direct advice. However I too have seen a psychic change a person’s life because direct advice is precisely what they gave!

Psychics meet all three conditions. They are sought out as experts, they have great song and dance… and they are masters of subtle manipulation, often through implied fear or threats. There’s enough mystery and superstition around a psychic that a person will hesitate to challenge direct advice from them. This used to be the case for doctors and counselors too but far less so today. However, a good entertainer today can still make a very effective doctor, lawyer, or counselor. The schtick  (gimmick) is the spoon full of sugar that makes the medicine go down.

There even happens to be a whole field called motivational interviewing that is subtly manipulating a person towards positive change. Rather than giving people the answers, it elicits people to ask the right questions.

Thank you for your astute observation.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says- I think it’s far simpler than that. If a person wants to change, they will listen to advice. If they don’t want to change, they won’t.

The problem with offering advice is that it has the accompanying arrogance of assuming the advice giver has the answers. Ha ha.

Advice givers can only quote from history. We can never know how a situation will play out, because we don’t know the potential players and we can’t foresee the random actions of the universe. But we can increase the odds of success with good advice. And that’s worth something.

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Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

When my friends are having problems, it’s easy to see what they ought to do- ditch the cheating boyfriend, stand up to the bully, start working out, get a dog… but when it comes to my own problems everything is murky, and the advice that my clear thinking friends offer seems as if it just isn’t taking everything into consideration.

Why is it that we can be so sensible about other people’s problems, yet be completely incapable of seeing our own? I even had a therapist once who gave great advice, but then got divorced and one of his kids ended up in jail. And he didn’t process it well, either, he was miserable. You would think that with all his training, he would do a little better than the rest of us.

If therapists can’t solve their own problems, how can anyone else? It doesn’t seem like it’s a matter of knowing what to do. It seems more a matter of emotions being stronger and more reflexive than reason or intellect.

Fay Awry


Dear Far,

Advice is a form of storytelling. You project yourself into someone else and their scenario and make up how things will go and thus what they should do. That’s why people most often don’t follow advice. It is your story not there’s. It is far less obvious to do this for oneself and you know it’s bullshit so there’s a lack of conviction you would have when you know what someone else should do.

Why do seemingly smart sensible people make rotten, stupid, nonsensical decisions? They have no personal plan thus no intent. They make decisions based on how they feel and do not evaluate them against an intentional life plan. A life plan or intent allows one to delay gratification thus not make impulsive feel good but real dumb decisions.

Every self-help book helps one to develop their own personal story. I call it intent but The Alchemist just calls it “your personal story”. My current favorite self-help book is :

Generation WTF From “What the %#$@?” to a Wise, Tenacious, and Fearless You Christine B. Whelan

She summarizes and field tests most other self-help books but also looks at it from the point of view that forming your story is no different than starting a not for profit business.  This includes who you pick as a life partner. Never marry someone you wouldn’t pick for a business partner. If you do it will not bode well.

Formulating an intent based on your values and what you hope to achieve or as she states how you want to be remembered. This is quite effective advice. It’s like doing marketing research. What niche do you want to target? You then become your own product. Then you have to seeking out the right manufacturers (people who encourage you and can help) and reevaluate if you’re on target and being effective often.

Having a BUISNESS PLAN OR LIFE PLAN isn’t as random as just plain advice as its better researched and done in a stepwise realistic approach. It also utilizes other people in an efficient and reinforcing way. It is also flexible as it is reevaluated often.

An intentional life might not seem romantic but it isn’t stupid.


Dr. Brilliant Cliché

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Having a 12 year old is like having a bad boss:

“Dad help me make …. No you can’t do it that way.” This kind of ‘help me you can’t help me’ behavior in an adult would be called, “Borderline Personality Disorder.” In a tween to teen it is perfectly normal.

My 12 year old daughter wants to be involved in everything that goes on but holds the opinion it can’t possibly be done the way I want to do it. I just have to be wrong from definitions of words to how to improvise on a recipe i.e. Micromanaging. I have been cooking for over 30 years yet have to acquiesce on how to do a recipe to my 12 year old!

You can only know what you know so whatever is, just IS. This in a 12 year old means a huge sense of Entitlement. Kids don’t think where things like the food on the table or the things in their room come from. They exist and are hers and that is that. You don’t appreciate what are just nature’s givens. Me saying I bought all this for you just doesn’t resonate to a 12 year old. They can’t see anything more than, it’s mine then it’s mine. Why are we talking about this?

Yes indeed the saying a family is a team is true but to a 12 year old this means what’s yours is mine too.

I have to keep reminding myself that although we might run head to head in a power of wills my 12 year old really has no investment whatsoever in whatever it is we are fighting about or whatever annoying behavior she is tenaciously displaying. She lives 100% entirely in the here and now and a huge blow up over something can be no more than in that moment she was just bored and focused on whatever it was. An hour after the tantrum she can be entirely fine with the world and like, Hi dad what you doing? It is my job as the adult to let it go and enjoy this good moment with her.

Sometimes it is hard. With a bad boss I would just quit.

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