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Week of September 5th, 2013

What Are You Doing to Create a Golden Age?

Dear Readers:

I suspect that none of us has the capacity to foretell the future of the human race. No one -- not psychics, not doomsayers, not intelligent optimists, indigenous shamans, no one.

There is a strong case to be made that this is the worst of times, and an equally strong case that this is the best of times; a strong case that everything will collapse into a miserable dystopia and a strong case that we are on the verge of a golden age.

It?s impossible to know in any "objective way" which is "truer." Anyone who asserts they do know is just cherry-picking evidence that rationalizes their emotional bent. The variables are chaotic and abundant and beyond our ken.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to create a golden age.

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My most recent book is
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It's also available here.

Here's an excerpt:


DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: Can you tell me why my trivial prayers are often answered (please don't let the light turn red, please let there be enough milk for one cup of coffee, etc.), but never my big life-changing prayers (please send me a soul mate, please help me make money at what I love to do)? Are God's priorities screwed up, or is it me? - Dumb Luck Collector

Dear DLC: There's an old fairy tale in which two old folks are given three wishes by a magic dwarf, but impulsively waste them on the first silly whims that pop into their heads. I'll tell you what I would have told them: Proceed on the assumption that only a few of your fervent prayers will be granted. Don't use them up on pleas for convenience when you're tired, cranky, or desperate. A Tibetan proverb says, "The person who gets stuck on petty happiness will not attain great happiness."


DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: You must be kidding with your Pollyanna crap. Either that or you're lying to get gullible people to love you and give you money.

The truth is, life is not in the least bit kind. It's a brutal struggle for survival -- at best. We are, sadly, animals who are stuck being conscious of our own mortality, forever stalked by death, and trying to avoid both that knowledge and the inevitable appearance of the grim reaper. Wake up and see the sickness and misery that life on this planet really is. - Your Good Cheer Makes Me Puke

Dear Puker: It's true that the Beauty and Truth Lab errs on the side of optimism, but only because so many so-called experts and leaders err on the side of cynicism. Our calling is to overcompensate for the relentless propaganda that creates the false impression that ugliness rules the world.

By the way, when we urge people to more fully appreciate the multitude of blessings they take for granted, it's not the same as advising them to pretend there's no suffering in the world.


DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: I recently borrowed a copy of your book Pronoia from my local library. I was attracted to the idea of scribbling my thoughts and ideas in the book, but I was unsure whether I should commit this act of flagrant vandalism. Then I noticed the book had been borrowed at least a half dozen times prior, but nobody had written anything in it. I was shocked. Clearly they were zombies, or else too (un-pronoiacally?) reverent to the sacred scrolls to tarnish its beauty.

So, my question is: Would you write, scribble, and doodle in a library book? ?Artillery

Dear Artillery: Did you ever hear the CD called The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull? We're listening to it right now.


DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: I was lying in my bed basking in a sunbeam this morning, too comfortable to get up and take my Prozac, when I thought, Hey, what if I'm not, you know, emotionally challenged? What if I'm just lazy? Maybe if I worked harder at cultivating happiness, I'd just sort of outgrow my depression -- you know, render it irrelevant. Do you have an opinion about this theory? - Slothful Slack Seeker

Dear Slothful: We'd have to know more about your personal history to evaluate whether laziness is the cause of your depression. We do know this, though: Many people are extremely lax about their pursuit of happiness. Here's our question to you: What tricks would you have to play on yourself in order to get more aggressive about mastering the art of feeling really good?


DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: It's my goal to become a Texas Congressman 12 years from now and a Senator 20 years from now. I have a lot of original ideas about how to make the world a better place, and I've decided that the best way to make them happen is by becoming a force in national politics. Do you have any advice on how to proceed in a pronoiac manner? - Pragmatic Idealist Who Doesn't Need to Marry a Blond, Blue-Eyed Cheerleader with Six-Pack Abs

Dear Pragmatic Idealist: First, you could obtain a piece of the Burning Bush from the monastery of St. Catherine of Alexandria on Mt. Sinai. Next, acquire a tooth or finger bone of Mary Magdalene from one of her reliquaries in southern France. Bring these sacred objects to the NorthPark Center shopping mall in Dallas during a blow-out sale. While kneeling in front of the ATM near Neiman Marcus, place a shred of the bush under your tongue as you stroke the tooth or finger bone and reverently intone Emily Dickinson's poem "Soul at the White Heat."


DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: During your shows or workshops or rituals or whatever you call them, I have heard you refer to "learning the difference between stupid suffering and smart suffering." I had no idea what you were talking about until recently.

The truth finally hit me the morning after I climbed into bed with my sort of ex-boyfriend. He's pretty good at the sex thing, technically speaking, even though his inability to converse intelligently and honestly about emotions drives me into the ninth level of the abyss.

Afterward, as I got dressed, feeling that bizarre and oh-so-familiar disjunction of having had a physical release but being utterly distraught by the lack of authentic connection between me and the person who helped incite that orgasm, I suddenly thought, "Wow! This is stupid suffering. I've done this and done this and done this to death. Stupid suffering is repeating a lesson I've already learned and been through."

In the next breath I mused, "Maybe smart suffering is what happens when I'm trying something new, taking a good risk, that will teach me tough lessons I didn't even realize I needed to learn."

Thanks to you people for planting the seed in my head, and thanks to me for finally sprouting it. - Smart Sufferer

Dear Smart Sufferer: Don't be too hard on yourself about your "stupid" suffering -- especially in this case. Your stupid suffering was actually pretty smart, since it catalyzed in you an insight about avoiding stupid suffering in the future.

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Some people don't know that I write daily horoscopes, available as text messages sent to your cell or smart phone.

They're shorter than the weekly 'scopes, but on the other hand they're more frequent -- every day of the week.

My weekly horoscopes are free, but the dailies cost about 67 cents a day if you sign up for a subscription.

If you think you might enjoy getting regular bursts of inspiration from me to illuminate your adventures, check them out.

Go to
Register or log in. On the new page, click on "Subscribe / Renew" under "Daily Text Message Horoscopes" in the right-hand column.

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