One Plus One Equals Six!

My cousin and I were having a take-away lunch in the park. It was a beautiful day to be relaxing on the bench, listening to birdsong and watching the human birds pass by.

We were talking about some subject, when I said:

“You know cousin, when we are conversing, there are really SIX people involved!”

“Come on, you’re pulling my leg, there’s only TWO of us here.”

“No, I kid you not. There are three people in my mind while we are talking and there are three people in your mind while we are talking.”

“I don’t believe it. Six people, that would be like talking in a crowd!”

“Cousin, relax, I’ll explain. The other day, someone asked me, how they could beat depression. So I gave them some dos and don’ts about beating depression.”

“What are you now, some kind of agony aunt?”

“Be quiet and listen, you might learn something. Okay, when I gave him my advice, I had an IMAGE of myself speaking. That’s one person. I also had an IMAGE of the person that was listening to me. That’s two people. And finally, I had an IMAGE of how the other person was thinking of me. That’s three people in my mind as I was talking.”

My cousin laughed and said:

“What did the IMAGE think of you?”

“In my mind, the IMAGE thought I knew what I was talking about. So, I decided to give him even more advice.”

“Now, lets go into the other person’s mind. He sees an IMAGE of himself listening to me. Then he sees an IMAGE of me talking on and on. Finally, he sees an IMAGE of himself thinking, “This guy must think I’m an idiot. He’s bombarding me with info.”

My cousin broke in:

“So, all the time you’re thinking, you are fabulous, he’s thinking you’re a jerk.”

“That’s right, cousin, you’re getting the hang of this now.”

My cousin smiled.

“Now, the person I was giving my advice to, walks away coldly and I think “How ungrateful.”

“Boy, that’s quite a story.”

“Yes it is, six people in a two way conversation, sort of a “Transaction of Selves”. Words and nonverbals working together.”

My cousin got up, abruptly, and started walking away.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“I don’t mind one on one talking, BUT I HATE CROWDS!”


Help! I’m Stressed Out!

The middle-aged man, that sat next to me on the green padded stools, blurted out:

“I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for a few years.”

I turned to look at this guy carefully. Did I hear him right? Was it time for his medication or mine?

“Are you alright, fella?”

“Yes, don’t worry, I’m harmless, I’m just talking to myself. I’m very stressed out.”

“Oh, I’ve heard that 75% of people have extreme stress at least one day a week. That’s a lot of stress!”

He looked at me with a far away expression.

“Why do we have stress? It seems to always be there in the background.”

He ordered a beer and bought me one also.

“Thanks, for the beer. Yes, with modern life we have a stress epidemic. I think we are stressed out because we live in surroundings that are drastically different from the environment that our brains evolved in.”

“You mean because we now live in crowded cities, have fast vehicles, and lots of electronic gadgets flooding us with info, this creates the problem.”

“Yes, we’re living in an age that our ancestors didn’t have to deal with.”

“You’re right, I always feel like I’m in a fog of uncertainty. I don’t sleep well either. Sometimes I wake up moaning, but really I haven’t been asleep yet.”

“Boy, that sounds serious!”

“You don’t know the half of it. I have money problems, wife problems, work problems, and health problems.”

“That’s a lot of problems, you’re in a bad way!”

What can I do to help this guy, I thought.

He continued:

“On top of everything else, I’m a type “A” personality. I try to do too many things in less and less time. What am I going to do?”

This guy was falling apart at the seams!

“I think you could do with some “self-compassion.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think you’re too hard on yourself. When things go badly, you need to treat yourself in a kind way. Don’t heap so much criticism on yourself.”

“Okay, I’ll try that.”

We both gulped down the rest of our beers and smiled.

“You seem to be pretty calm. But having said that, you seem a little tense now.”

I laughed and said:



Are You In Control, Or Not?

I was watching the news on the TV that was on the watering hole’s wall, next to the oil painting of Aphrodite. When I ordered another beer. The bartender came over and put the beer in front of me and said:

“Hey fella, you haven’t drunk your other beer yet!”

I turned away from the TV and glanced at two steins of beer in front of me.

“So I haven’t, just leave them lined up, I’ll drink them.”

Just then a bearded, old fella slid onto the stool next to me and ordered a beer. He saw the two steins of beer in front of me, and said:

“My, my, you must be thirsty!”

“Yes, I seem to be ordering before finishing my last beer.”

“You’re probably getting subliminal messages, telling you that you are thirsty.”

“What’s this subliminal business all about?” I said, puzzled.

“A subliminal message is a word or phrase that we can’t see, a message that is below our conscious level.”

“You mean to tell me, I can be influenced by something that I am not aware of?”

“That’s right.”

“You mean like the cults do to brainwash people?”

“Yes, it’s also done in advertising and political campaigns.”

“Oh yes, I remember back in the 50’s, there was a fella that flashed messages on a movie screen so fast people couldn’t see them. They were told to eat popcorn and popcorn sales went up. But his experiment was a fraud.”

“Yes, but that started people thinking about subliminal mind control.”

“How do you know so much about it?” I was getting thirsty again!

“Well, I’m a distant relative of that guy in the 50’s!”

“Oh, do you do research too?”

“Yes, I do, I’m developing self-help devices containing subliminal messages to help people lose weight, improve their memory, etc.”

I drank my beers quickly and reordered.

“Remember that local politician that lost the election recently?”

“Yes, for awhile he was popular, but then the people didn’t vote for him.”

“Well, in his TV adverts, I inserted a subliminal message that turned people off of him.”

“Boy, that’s fascinating and weird,” I mumbled.

“I’m thinking about a lie detection device, now.”

“How will that work?”

“Well, let’s say a burglar was caught and you would flash a picture of the house he burgled on a screen for only two milliseconds, that’s 2/1000’s of a second. The burglar wouldn’t see it, but his subconscious would. You then could record the emotional reaction that the picture would produce. A high reaction, and you’ve caught your criminal!”

The bearded chap looked very proud of himself.

“Great stuff, but it makes me feel disconcerted because I would wonder, with all these subliminal messages floating around, if I’m in control or not!”

My stool mate smiled.

“Bartender, I’m thirsty, another beer please.”

At that point, I put my head down on the bar and started to drift away. But before I completely passed out, I heard the bartender tell the bearded chap:

“That device you put onto our TV has really worked. The “you are thirsty” messages have increased sales by 25%!”

Dream Catcher

I was on my philosophizing stool at the watering hole, when a frustrated looking fella jumped up onto the stool next to me.

“What’s wrong, you look worried?”

“Yesterday, my wife bought one of those Red Indian Dream Catchers and hung it up in our bedroom and now I’m remembering all of my dreams!”

“Well, I guess the “Dream Catcher” is doing its job.”

He ordered a margarita and continued:

“This morning, I woke up and told my wife I dreamed a beautiful woman came into the bedroom naked!”

She laughed and said:

“In your dreams, fella.”

I asked her, what she thought it meant.

She said: “You’ll know tonight, darling.”

“Well, my friend, that sounds like you’re in for a good night, don’t worry.”

“But why do we dream?” he asked quizzically.

“Scientists began to know more about dreams back in the early 50’s. They discovered REM, rapid eye movement under closed eyelids, if this was going on, the person was dreaming. When they woke up a person during REM sleep, they remembered what they were dreaming about and could report on it.”

“That’s interesting, but WHY do we quietly go insane with bizarre images and random thoughts, each night?”

“Well, Freud thought it was all to do with sex and aggression, in other words, wish fulfillment. But now, most of that has been refuted.”

“What’s the new thinking, then?”

“Some researchers believe that dreams help solve our problems.”

“Oh, that would be great!”

“Some think it’s just the mind cleaning up the clutter in out brains.”

“Do we dream every night?”

“Apparently yes, because scientists say we have at least one stage of REM sleep per night.”

“Holly Cow! Dreams every night!”

“Some say, dreams are our creative imagination at work.”

“So, if we could remember every dream, it would make us all a Shakespeare!”

I smiled at that remark.

“Where do all these weird dreams come from?”

“Researchers say much of the strangeness of dreams is due to our everyday metaphorical life.”

“Explain that, please.”

“When we say, “we’re down in the dumps”, that means we’re not feeling so good. But when that leaks into our dreams, the brain interprets it literally. So we could dream about standing on a pile of garbage!”

“But I know the difference.”

“Yes, but during sleep, parts of the brain that distinguish between literal and figurative thinking, shut down!”

“So, the woman in my dream was naked, what’s that mean?”

I smiled and said:

“It could be symbolism, that you are unprepared for a challenge. But, the thing is, we are all really strangers to ourselves.”

“Well, I’ll see you. I want to find out what my wife says I’ll find out about the dream, tonight.”

The next day, he dropped into the watering hole and told me that he was lying on the bed, all primed, waiting for his wife. She came in fully clothed and gave him a book entitled:


Forgotten Mantra

I was in my favorite pub, on my favorite green padded stool, at the end of the bar. The bartender started calling my position, Dave’s Corner, probably because I do a lot of philosophizing from that stool.

I was enjoying my cold stein of beer, when a fella with a grumpy expression on his face, jumped onto the stool next to me.

“Bartender, give me a G and T on ice, and make it a double!”

“That sounds ominous,” I said, thinking I might be able to help this chap.

“I’m very unhappy, my life is falling apart and to make matters worse, I’ve forgotten my mantra!”

“Your mantra?”

“Yes, you know, the words or phrase that you repeat to yourself to help you cope with life.”

“Oh, I see, well, tell me what would make you happy?”

“I need a job that I enjoy with more money. I want to get along better with my wife. I need to lose weight, all kinds of things,” he mumbled.

“That’s quite a list. You don’t feel too good about life, do you?”

He ordered another double G and T.

“No, I don’t, life is full of loneliness and misery, suffering and unhappiness, and then, it’s all over very quickly.”

I tried to hold back my laughter, this guy was something else!

“It will surprise you to know that research shows that only 10% of people’s unhappiness is due to the conditions of their lives.”

“I don’t believe that,” he growled.

“Okay, let’s break it down. 10% of unhappiness due to your circumstances. Now we have 90% left. 50% you can’t do much about. It’s your genetic make-up, which is inherited. Everyone has a genetic baseline of happiness. No matter what happens, we usually return to this baseline. If the baseline is high, good for you. But, if it is low, it means we have to work harder at obtaining happiness.”

“Oh, that’s just great, everything is going against me and now I have to work harder!”

“The final 40% of happiness is due to our behavior. We need to be future oriented to a degree, that’s the way life is, you need to plan. But, also, you need intrinsic goals, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, things that give you a basic feeling of contentment and well-being.”

My barstool mate had a quizzical look on his face.

“Someone told me the other day, I was lucky to be miserable! Because life is divided into “The Horrible” and “The Miserable”. The horrible are the terminal cases, blind and deaf people, the crippled and people with dementia who are losing their personalities. How they get through life amazes me. The miserable is everyone else! That’s why I need a mantra!”

“All you need, my friend, is to understand that daily happiness and well-being depends on how we approach life, how we respond to what life brings us. We need a positive attitude.”

A look of contentment passed over his face as he jumped off the stool and said:

“Hey, I’ve remembered my mantra.”

“What is it?”


Mars and Venus

I was sitting on my favorite green padded stool at the end of the bar, sipping my beer and staring a hole through Aphrodite’s oil painting.

When out of the blue a woman slid onto the stool next to me. I wondered what she would philosophize about.

She was a tall, stunning, statuesque, brunette with finely chiseled features. She was wearing a short black jacket over a black dress with the hem a little above the knee and killer heels. I estimated she was in her mid-thirties, she wore no wedding ring. Because I am a writer, I am very observant!

She ordered a frozen, strawberry daiquiri. It took about five minutes before it was delivered to her. It probably had quite a few ingredients.

“My, my, that’s a colorful cocktail?”

“Yes, it’s my favorite.”

“How different women and men are. You have your fancy drink and I have my foamy draft beer.”

She smiled and said:

“I guess that’s why men are from Mars and women from Venus.”

Oh, I had an intelligent one on my hands, I thought.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I goaded her.

“Well, it means we’re different, like different planets. Men from Mars,aggressive, cold, ambitious and full of testosterone. Women from Venus, warm, lovable and agreeable.”

“I guess that means we don’t understand each other.”

“That’s right, men are physically strong and pushy, women are sensitive and loving.”

“Well, I am fairly strong. I can open my own jars.”

She didn’t laugh, but she continued:

“Let me quote you some facts: 9 out of 10 prison inmates are men. There are more homeless men than women. Men are more close minded, more hostile, more narcissistic and more self-indulgent than women.”

“Well, that doesn’t paint a very flattering picture of men, does it?”

“It most certainly doesn’t,” she said, smugly.

“But why, should men be so maladjusted and antisocial?”

“Too much testosterone, it makes men aggressive, dominant, competitive and full of themselves.”

“I guess our punishment for all this, is to die earlier than women, about 5 years earlier or so.”

“Probably,” she said.

I ordered another beer as she kept on and on comparing men and women on their different personalities, different cognitive abilities and so on.

Then, she shut up and quickly left the building.

The bartender came over and said:

“Man, she left in a hurry. What did you say to her?”

“I just told her, she looks extremely gorgeous when her lips are CLOSED!”