Smart Thermostat Wake up

Do you, like me, find it oh-so-hard to get out of a warm bed in the morning? Especially when it is cold outside?

Here’s a simple life hack to make getting up more compelling if you have a Smart Thermostat.

I have a Nest thermostat and instead of letting it determine when temperatures in the house go up and down, I changed it to use a schedule. When I did this I noticed that as it raised the temp in house in the mornings it made my bedroom uncomfortably hot. So hot I wanted to get out of bed.

That’s when it hit me. Use a rise in temperature like an alarm clock. It’s a gradual rise because that’s the way heaters work, but by the time your alarm goes off you’ll be very ready to get out of bed and won’t have the desire to stay in a warm bed away from the cold, cruel world outside.

This works in the Summer too, you just aren’t using the heater, rather you are using less AC in the morning to let your room heat up.



I think about how I’m thinking about what I’m thinking about a lot. I call this meta-thinking and it is the genesis of much of DFL.

That’s a pretty confusing sentence. Let me break it down for you.

Let’s say I want to think about the role of the Federal Reserve in America. Relevant because as I write this, I’m getting ready to go hear a member of the Fed board speak. I may contemplate what the Fed does, its relationship to the government, what people actually know and understand about the Federal Reserve and what it does.

As I contemplate the Fed’s relationship to the government, I may notice that I’m thinking about it in terms of the actual relationships of people on the Fed boards and in government committees. That is one meaning of relationship and it might be the thing I want to think about. Another aspect of relationship is the legal one. The fact that the Fed is a coalition of banks and not a government organization. 

That is two ways of thinking about “relationship between the Fed and the government.”

But what are my feelings about these relationships? What is my bias? What facts do I want to accept because it supports me? What do I want to challenge because I don’t want them to be true?

That’s is thinking about how I’m thinking, not what specifically I’m thinking about.

Meta-thinking and other people’s politics.

I live in the second most conservative city in Texas* but I’ve lived in some pretty liberal cities too and like to think I listen to all sides.**

The thing that amazes me over and over when I listen to strong conservatives and strong liberals is how they think exactly the same.

They obviously don’t believe the same things, or come to the same conclusions, but how they think about issues is exactly the same. If you want to live at an extreme of a belief system, there is a way of thinking that will always get you there.

My son likes to explain it like this, “Republicans think about cops the way Democrats think about unions and vise versa.” The both assume the best and defend everything they do. They concede there are a few bad actors, but the organizations are over all good. You could flip the subjects there too. Republicans think about unions the way Democrats think about cops and vise versa. (This of course is another mental fallacy on our part of generalizing a whole group of people, in this case a political parties.)

The ironic thing is how they condemn their opponents “logic” when they use the exact same process for their conclusions. 

A Lot of Distinctions Are About Meta-Thinking

A lot of the little changes I call Distinctions are actually ways of thinking. Examining your beliefs is thinking about how you think. Attention is about how you think, not what you are thinking about.  The Leadership Mind Traps are about how you think.

Since how you think is probably as important or more important than what you think, changing it will make a huge difference in your life.

How To Meta-Think

Meta-thinking is hard. Not because the process is all that hard, but because it is hard to get inserted into the process.

If I need to think about politics, it is hard to notice how I’m thinking. I’m trying to use all my cerebral energy on the subject, reserving some to notice what I’m doing is difficult.

I think it is easier for some people than others. I’m not sure if this is an inherent difference in the brain, or a learned response. Some people naturally seem to be able to step back from their own process and see it.

For most people you have to do it later. After you’ve thought about something you have to examine how you thought about it. Or you have to “pre-meta-think”, which is preparing yourself for the session of thinking to hopefully avoid your habitual pitfalls.

The best tool for both of these is good questions. Good questions are distinctions for life themselves, and you will find them all over this site.

Now you can’t meta-think everything you do, but you can practice it regularly. As you do, you will create new mental habits that will help you in the long run. You’ll catch yourself doing mental mind traps before you do them. You’ll “naturally” avoid thinking in certain ways.

* A city needs to have a population over 100,000.

** I’m sure at this point you want to know my bias. I consider myself a Libertarian, which means I’m in a weird middle.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash (cropped)


“I Don’t Care” vs “I’m Fine With Either”

If you are in leadership people will bring you choices. Often you won’t have a preference between the options. You’d really prefer the other people decide and get on with it.

For many of us the habitual response is “I don’t care.”

That’s a bad choice. The person brought you this choice for a reason. To them it is important. There are a lot of reasons for this, but saying you don’t care belittles this sense of importance, and by extension the person asking.

Instead answer, “I’m fine with either.”

This says nothing about the importance of the issue or the person bringing it to you. If you want to go a little further you can add “I trust you to decide.” Which explicitly builds up the person asking.

Credit where it is due. I learned this in Toastmasters from my District Director Greg Pick and he learned it from his leadership team of Jamie Pickering and Robi Ley.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Style As Language, Art & Philosophy

Style, in the fashion sense, is going to be a big topic on this blog and you may wonder why.

Because it is a small change that makes a big difference.

It impacts how you think about yourself and very much influences how others think and act toward you.

Style is everything you do to express yourself through how you look. It is different than fashion, which is the ever changing art form of clothing. A great quote that explains the difference is “Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it.”

When you start thinking about style deeply – and that’s how we like to think about things here at DFL – you’ll start finding a number of frameworks to hang those thoughts on. Advocates of caring about your appearance and making intentional decisions about it are going to use these frameworks.

But there are going to be the haters out there. Those that will contend it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter. Those people will use some of these same frameworks when arguing about it, even if they don’t understand them.

Style as Language

“What you wear says something to people even before you open your mouth.”

“Wearing a suit says you are serious.”

“The kind of watch you wear tells people a lot about you.”

One way of looking at style is as communication. How you look says something.

If you are thinking of style as communication, then once you start breaking down how different parts communicate, you are into linguistics. Linguistics is the study of language. It is the deep dive into how words come to mean what they mean and how one word stubley coveys something different from another word that means the same thing.

Style involves understanding a new language. It isn’t a spoken one, but rather one of fabric, color and texture. It must include an understanding of culture and psychology.

Probably the number one thing you need to decide when you are thinking about style as language is, “What do you want to say.”

You need to have an intentional message behind what you wear. Because you are communicating. With no thought you may be communicating, “I’m a slob.”, “My momma dresses me.”, or “I made my last fashion decisions in 1993.”

Style As Art

Why do designer clothes cost so much?

There are some differences between materials and construction that raise the cost, but not to the level of a Christian Louboutin heels in Paris verses Gianni Bini heels at Dillards in Abilene.

If you are a fashion linguist you might say it is because they communicate prestige. The mere act of wearing a pair of $2000+ shoes shows you are rich, and/or famous.

For people who value humility and thrift, this seems wrong. Ostentatious. But let me ask you another question…

Why does a Picasso cost so much?

In this case the cost of materials doesn’t even figure in. No it is because we value the art of Picasso more than other artists.

Some of this is socially constructed, and some of it is personal taste. There are people who don’t particularly like Picasso, but love Salvador Dali.

Here’s the distinction: Fashion is Art.

Looking at clothing through this filter, wanting to break it down and dive deeply into style means treating it like poetry. As an art form that is doing more than just communicating something factual about you. It is trying to invoke a feeling in the viewer.

Art communicates, but that isn’t why it is art. It invokes feeling and frankly great art does something in your brain that is hard to even express.

Style As Philosophy

I just used the word ostentatious. The dictionary definition is: “characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice.”

I also said in contrast “people who value humility and thrift”. Both virtues.

It is hard to talk about fashion without someone bringing up moral arguments. Here’s a quick distinction anytime someone uses the word should, they are saying something about values and not about facts.

“You shouldn’t spend that much money on clothes.”

“You shouldn’t care about how you look.”

“You shouldn’t buy from that company because they exploit their workers.”

“You shouldn’t wear that because it shows too much skin.”

With art you talk about value in terms of how it makes you feel, or a person’s willingness to spend money on it. In philosophy you talk about value in terms of its rightness and wrongness.

Style as philosophy talks about the moral aspects of it.

There are the external moral issues. How is the clothing sourced and made? Are the materials sustainable? Are they made from endangered species? Did an animal die to make them? Were workers paid a fair wage and given good conditions to work in?

Then there are the social moral issues. Does wearing something make you better than other people? Are you showing proper respect when you try to dress better than others? Are you stealing someone else’s culture with what you wear?

Then there are the psychological moral issues. Do you think you are a worse human being without fancy clothes? Is you personal worth determined by how you look? Is your body image defining you in a bad way?

We could go on in this vein – and we will in future distinctions – but you can understand now those questions are looking at style philosophically.

So you may be asking, “Ron, which one is it?”

The answer it is all of them. Life isn’t simple. Concepts aren’t one dimensional. To develop your own personal style, you will have to think in all of these terms. Lucky for you I’ll give your distinctions about style in future posts.

Photo by Andrew Worley on Unsplash


Happy Music Playlist

Wanna start your day right? Create a playlist full of songs that make you happy and want to dance.

I play mine in the shower every morning that I get up after my wife. I’ve also been known to pull it out in the car when I’m feeling down.

Music is all about creating a feeling in the listener. For some reason music is quick and powerful at eliciting these feelings. Maybe because it only uses one sense and is hands free. Maybe there is something about how our brains process sound. Whatever the reason we all know music moves us.

Which songs make you happy is going to be subjective. The point is to make YOUR happy music playlist.

I use Spotify as my music service and if you want to listen to my happy music playlist here it is.

In case you didn’t know, Spotify has a whole section of playlist dedicated to moods. There are a number of playlist with happiness as their theme. But if you are a hardcore metal head, the electronic house music probably isn’t what makes you happy.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash