x helmet solutions

This page is currently under development (i.e. wet paint of ideas/solutions).  Soon this page will feature a video (see script below), pictures (of people wearing helmets) testimonials about wearing a helmet and so forth.  For now, we gather together the thoughts we have (over the years) related to this wonderful solution.

Greg says...."for me The Helment is a wonderful and simple piece to add to our Open Bowl collage.  For me it has been a very useful device in many respects.  First, I use it to help others understand what  "positive deviance" is (unconventional, but better solutions).  Second, it introduces people to a complex subject that is one of the main aims of Our Art: that there are good, nay, even great ideas aplenty, that we will never do (because they don't fit in our lives for personal, cultural or other reasons)...and THAT IS OK!  And third, to demonstrate that most ideas that swirl around us are "HELMET" ideas....ideas that would/could make our lives better but we are not going to do (even though we may say/plan that we really want to)"  And fourth, to demonstrate the limits of reason...and the freedom from the expectation (and resistance to the invitations)  to MAXIMIZE what we do"

Helmet Solutions can be paired with Seatbelt Solutions

(consideration of what can/abletodo.... we do and what we will/havethewill to do)

[most of what we will do (seatbelt) we already know...so lets scan sort select that]

Use Steve's example of drinking behavior.....what will these students do...to help little kids



One of my favorite things about The Hunt is the freedom I feel to choose for myself what to believe and the piece of evidence that I will glue to that belief.  Lately I have been thinking about a freeing thought---we choose to believe what we want to believe.  A proof for me, a reminder that everyone does this, is this little thing I wrote about Crash Helmets.

You buckle up, watch the road, don’t run red lights, and so forth to keep you and your family safe when you drive.  I have one more practice you can add.  It is a simple, affordable and very effective safety practice.  Wear crash helmets when you drive.

Of course, we could find thousands of expert witnesses with PhD’s (auto engineers, risk managers and the like) who will solemnly testify that we and our families would be significantly safer wearing crash helmets when we drive.  But, until everybody else starts wearing helmets---not just professional auto-racers and people with medical needs---neither you, I or our loved ones will be wearing a helmet when we drive our car.

In short, wearing crash helmets is a practice before its time.  Maybe someday everybody will be wearing helmets without shame.  Perhaps we’ll find a way to make invisible helmets, or ones that can be hidden in the dashboard like the big balloons (airbags) we have in our cars.

Until then, we’ll just believe what we believe (that we are being safe enough…as evidenced by what we now do for safety) and take our chances, I guess.

(recent insight…there are many “helmets” in our lives…things we know for certain that would improve our lives…praying every 30 minutes…but we are not going to do them until it is dire)



Mom. I am going to ride my bike with Mike.

{{Pause=1}}Remember to wear your helmet Ike.

{{Pause=1}}Why do I have to wear a helmet, I no like.

{{Pause=1}}Because you might fall and get brain damage, psych.

{{Pause=1}}But mom, my helmet messes my hair, makes it spike.

{{Pause=1}}That is a small price to pay for your safety, Ike.

{{Pause=1}}Mom, did you wear a helmet when you were a tike?

{{Pause=1}}No. Back then parents didn't consider it dire.

{{Pause=1}}To them, it wasn't like you were playing with fire?

{{Pause=1}}Right.  But now it's bright, so very clear, I am not a good mother if you don't wear your helmet dear.

{{Pause=1}}You are such a good mom I should wear two.

{{Pause=1}}Thank you dear, but one will do.  Now shoe, shoe, shoe.

{{Pause=1}}Love you mom.

{{Pause=1}}Love you too.

{{Pause=1}}Hi Andy. 

{{Pause=0.5}}Hi Kate.

{{Pause=1}}Ready to go? 

{{Pause=0.5}}You bet.  Let's go.

{{Pause=1}}Put on this helmet, my mom doesn't want me driving anyone who isn't wearing a car helmet. 

{{Pause=0.5}}No way, really? 

{{Pause=1}}Yes, really.


{{Pause=1}}Because it's safer.

{{Pause=0.5}}You think so?.

{{Pause=1}} Are you crazy?  It's not rocket science. Think about it.  Race-car drivers wear helmets.  Bull riders wear helmets.  Football players wear helmets.  Construction workers wear helmets.  Even Ike is wearing a helmet when he rides his bike.  The logic is plain.  If it makes sense to wear seat belts.  It makes sense to wear car helmets.

{{Pause=0.5}}You have a point.  It does make sense.  And I know it's the truth.  I would be a lot safer wearing a car helmet.   In fact, my dad is an emergency room doctor.  I am sure he would agree that car helmets make good sense.  Still, I am not going to wear one.

{{Pause=1}}Really?  You don't sound like the Andy I know from philosophy class.  The same Andy who says to me.  Kate.  If something is true, logical, good and right.  We should do it.  No fear.  Just do it.  Because it is right.

{{Pause=0.5}}Wow.  That does sound like me.   You have a good memory.

{{Pause=1}}So Andy.  Do you want to wear a helmet, or do you want to change your beliefs?

{{Pause=0.5}}I think I will change my beliefs.  So here's my new philosophy.  If something is true, logical and right.  We should do it.  But only do it if we want to do it, and only when we want to do it, and only how we want to do it.   So, even if something is true and right it may not be important.

{{Pause=1}}Are you saying that it is not important to wear a car helmet, but it is important to wear a seat belt?

{{Pause=0.5}}Good point.  Let me try again.   New belief.   Here it is.  In the end, we all do what we want to do.

{{Pause=1}}We all do what we want to do?  That's your belief?  Forget about good ideas, better ideas and best ideas?

{{Pause=0.5}}No, let's not forget about them.  Let's do all the good, better and best ideas.  But let's do them only when we want to.  How we want to.  For example, maybe I will decide to wear a car helmet ten years from now.  And, I probably will wear it only at night.  But I don't know,.  We'll see.  My point is this.  I want to welcome all good ideas to my door.  But I want to refuse.  Or delay, their entry into my life, for any reason that I might choose, however weak that reason may be.  Case in point.  The reasons I do not wear a car helmet are weak reasons.  But they are my reasons.  And however weak my reaons are they are good enough for me to say no to the helmet. 

{{Pause=1}}But Andy this one is easy, the helmet is right here.  All you have to do is put it on.  You are avoiding the truth.  You are avoiding a good idea.  You are in denial.

{{Pause=0.5}}Yes, I guess I am. 

{{Pause=1}}Well, I for one, am glad that I am not in denial.  Avoiding the truth, living a lie like you.  I have my helmet on.

{{Pause=0.5}}Oh but you are in denial Kate.

{{Pause=1}}How do you figure?

{{Pause=0.5}}Let me ask you this.  Do you plan on wearing your helmet around the mall?

{{Pause=1}}No.  I don't need to.

{{Pause=0.5}}Oh, but Kate, like you said, it's not rocket science.  You know that you would be a  lot safer if you wore your helmet not only in the mall but everwhere you go.  Right?

{{Pause=1}}Well, I suppose so.  But now you are being rediculus.

{{Pause=0.5}}That, is what people say when they are in denial, Kate. 

{{Pause=1}}I am not in denial.

{{Pause=0.5}}Kate, we all are in denial.  For example, though I am not denying the logic of wearing a helmet, I deny the necessity of wearing it.  Even though I know we could get in an accident and a helmet could prevent head injuries, I won't do it.  I deny helmet entry into my car.  I think I am being safe enough by wearing a seat belt. I am sufficient.  Likewise, you, Kate, don't deny the logic of wearing a helmet in the mall.  You just deny the necessity of doing it.  You have decided that you are safe enough walking in the mall, like you always have, without a helmet.  This, even though you know a helmet would add some safety.  Like me, you deny helmet entry.  So you see, we are both in denial.  We are saying a big fat no, to something that makes sense but that we don't want to do.  Which, to me, makes sense.

{{Pause=1}}Good point Andy.  I guess I am in denial.  Kind of.

{{Pause=2}}You know what Kate.  I just thought of this.  The car helmet is just the tip of the iceburg. 

{{Pause=1}}What iceburg?

{{Pause=1}}Think of it Kate.  There are probably an infinite number of ideas like the helmet. 

{{Pause=1}}How's that?

{{Pause=1}}Think of the helmet as a metaphor for the many other reasonable, logical, practical, important and easy-to-do things, things that we choose not to do, for reasons no greater than why we won't wear a helmet when we drive.  Reasons like it's weird, it's inconvinient, it will mess up my hair.  The same kind of reasons people used to give for not wearing seat belts I imagine.  Reasons that now sound silly, unless that is someone like Kate is trying to get you to wear a helmet.

{{Pause=1}}I think I see where you are going Andy.  But give me another example Andy.  Show me how the helmet is a metaphor for other things.

{{Pause=0.5}}Sure.  Think back to the other day when you were telling me that I should heed the advice of experts and start exercising twenty minutes a day.  Think about it this way, you were telling me to, "buckle up."  That is a good idea.  Now I turn to you and I metphorically say, "put on this helmet" Kate by telling you that you should exercise for not twenty but for thirty minutes. 

{{Pause=1}}Ok.  Now I get you.  Andy, I think we have a new language.  This fun.  Let me try it.  So, you tell me to buckle-up by restricting my TV watching to 30 minutes a day and my diet to two thousand calories a day.  But I say, put on your helmet Andy because here comes even a better idea: we should restrict TV watching to 20 minutes a day and caloric intake to one thousand and nine hundred calories a day.

{{Pause=0.5}}You got it.  That's the way Kate.  You just gave me what we could call a helmet solution.  I believe there is a helmet solution to all problems.  This helmet metphor helps me realize that you don't have to be a genious to come up with a better idea than the geniousous in our society.  All you have to do is consider what they are telling us to do as the seatbelt.   Then, all you have to do is look for the helmet solution.  Find one additional step they could take to be safer, better, more moral, etc. and tell them to put on their helmets.

{{Pause=1}}I get it.  I get it.  This is going to be fun.  We are going to be so popular with the self-help crowd with this metaphor. 

{{Pause=0.5}}yea, we'll say to them, in a weepy voice, if it only saves one child.

{{Pause=1}}Andy are you being sarcastic?

{{Pause=0.5}}Your right Kate.  Let me say that better.  In other words, let me put on my helmet.


LOW GLORY: I like finding new, better ways of doing things, even if they are unconventional. Thus, I find it intriguing (about me) that a person (even a thoughtful, caring friend) could approach me with a simple, sound piece of advise and logic--perhaps a practice that I could very easily implement, one that would obviously and significantly benefit myself and my children's well-being---and my response would be, "Naaah...what you say makes sense, but I don't think I'm going to do it."

Here is one example; I have many.

"Hey Greg, if you and your family will wear crash helmets, you guys will significantly reduce your chances of injury and improve your chances of survival in the event of an automobile accident."

Ironically, I would judge other adults who drive without a seatbelt on, and especially those who don't insist their children buckle up, as not being "thoughtful". Still I don't own a single crash helmet.

The lesson here. We might assume that thoughtful people are thoughtful all the time and about most everything. That assumption can be turned on its head.

Mark out a mile, and color a foot of it red. That red patch represents about how much critical thought, discussion and weighing of evidence---of the sort that occurs in the supreme court, university forums and corporate think-tanks---that even the most thoughtful person musters in consciously choosing (let alone implementing their choice) life practices and general beliefs.

Observe a thoughtful person waking up, cooking breakfast. Note, he doesn't follow with exactness the latest research on omelet-making. The technique he uses when he kisses his wife isn't necessarily conforming to some well documented, research-based, best-practice formulation of effective intimacy verified and certified by social workers and psychologists in some double-blind study. At least ninety-nine percent of all the things he does at work have not been confirmed by multiple research studies and supported by a consensus of scientists. Night falls, he brushes his teeth, tucks his kids in bed, prays and sleeps in ways that have not been deduced as preferable by elaborate thoughtful investigations with proofs.

And in the end...this thoughtful person doesn't care, because things are adequate.

Sufficiency rules.

MEDIUM GLORY: The devil uses the 'everybody does it' logic to get us to do (or not do) certain things. I believe God uses the 'everybody does it' logic too. Today he is helping me understand that even the most thoughtful people are, even in some of the most important areas of life, basically just winging it.

He wants me not to despair this, but to celebrate it. He wants me to take permission from this precedent he now lays bare before me, to understand and to preach that we can with surety: loosen up, follow our bliss, our whims, our best guesses (as ill-informed as they may be) in establishing even core life beliefs and practices.

Today Gods wants me to glory in the vast limits of reason. He started revealing this glory to me in my earlier post: "180 Degrees."

HIGH GLORY: My Captain Of The Celestial Voyage is preparing me for battle. The Great and Eternal King now warns me, his warrior, that there will come people who act like they can reason, and will insist we all should reason, the full mile.

He warns me that some persons deliberately, and other persons accidentally, overestimate the realm of reason and thus cause his holy princes and princesses to be distracted from other powerful means of knowing, like the revelations he wants to pour out upon us.

I prophesy that there will be some persons who are able to paint a few more inches of red than the rest of us. I warn that we must not become blind to the stark fact that they, and all of us, travel the long mile...we mostly (99%) walk by faith and not by thick-reasoning and double-blind studies.

Other Prophesy Notes:

-When I do meet these long-red-line persons I need to remember to ask them to show me the peer-reviewed research that justifies their preferred egg-cooking and kissing techniques:). I will ask them if they wear helmets when they drive and other such questions.

-Someone could think that my intent is towards anti-thoughtfulness. It is not. As I testified in my posting, "180-degrees", I love engaging in long arguments, more than most people do. But today I am commanded to testify of the limits of reason. Yes, we should travel the red part of the mile. But we should be wary of overestimating the length to which we can go with our intellect.

-I am grateful that God lets me drive my car around without a crash helmet (even against my better judgment), if it suits me. (Thank you Lord for helping me live not by 'thoughtfulness alone', but more by every word that proceedeth forth from thy throne).

Posted by dr. greg, the guide at 4:01 PM 0 c



Happy Enough

If you wanted to be happier, you probably wouldn't need a self-help book or a list of happiness tips from a magazine; most people can easily come up with ten different things that would make them substantially happier than they are.  The problem (and the good thing) is that you are probably happy enough that you don't have to do the ten things to be ok.

Here's an example.

Crash Test

I am going to tell you about a technique that you can use (like a pill) that will significantly increase your and your family's safety when you drive.  It is quite easy and affordable.  But you will not do it.  Nope, never.  Nor will I.  We will refrain, not because the method won't work (it will) or that is not important (it is), but because it is weird to wear a crash helmet when you drive (let alone insist everyone else in your car wear the same).  The main reason we (and everyone) will give for not wearing a helmet is that we are already being safe enough when we drive (we buckle up, we watch the road, etc.).

So it doesn't matter that we could assemble mountains of evidence and powerful reasons for wearing crash helmets.  And that we could find thousands of expert witnesses with PhD's (auto engineers, risk managers and the like) who will solemnly testify that we and our families would be significantly safer wearing crash helmets when we drive.  That doesn't matter. Why?  Because we don't want to wear crash helmets.  Not until everybody else starts wearing helmets, not just professional auto-racers and people with medical needs, will we be donning helmets.  Then, perhaps, we can start asking about wearing 6-point harnesses too.

In short, we all know things that we can do that will make us healthier, safer and happier.  But usually we won't do these things until it is DIRE.  This is probably just as it should be.  Why fix something when it is not broken?

So now, here is the billion dollar question.  Consider this your own little "Crash Test".  Is it DIRE right now for you (or someone you love) to be healthier, happier and more liked?  If so, proceed,   I have pill for you.  But if not go do something else, something that is DIRE.

The Big Pill Revealed

I call the Big Pill, "Big" because, metaphorically speaking, there are lots of little pills we do and can take to be happy (or happier).  But none are as powerful as the Big Pill.

And what is this pill?  Drum roll please……….

Evidence shows that people who hold pervasive positive [beliefs] about themselves, their abilities, and their future prospects are mentally healthier, happier, and better liked than people who lack such [beliefs]

("The Happiness Hypothesis", p. 68).

That's it.  The Big Pill.  All you need to be mentally healthier, happier and better liked is to hold more positive beliefs about yourself (and while your at it, I'd advise you hold more positive beliefs aboutother people too).

Sounds simple?  It is.  Sounds effective?  It is.  It is as simple and effective as wearing a helmet when you drive.

And here's the cool thing.  I know a way to 'wear' this helmet (take the Big Pill in big doses) without anyone finding out.

I thank Jonathan Haidt, who in his book, "The Happiness Hypothesis" lays down one of the clearest descriptions of my method for swallowing the Big Pill

For many traits, such as leadership, there are so many ways to define it that one is free to pick the criterion that will most flatter oneself.  If I'm confident, I can define leadership as confidence. If I think I'm high on people skills, I can define leadership as the ability to understand and influence people.  When comparing ourselves to others, the general process is this:  Frame the question [consciously,] (unconsciously, automatically) so that the trait in question is related to a self-perceived strength, then go out and look for evidence that you have the strength.  Once you find a piece of evidence, once you have a "makes sense" story, you are done.

"Makes Sense" Story

THE BIG PILL METHOD: "Go out and look for evidence that you have [a] strength.  Once you find a piece of evidence, once you have a "makes sense" story, you are done.

Now that you know what the Big Pill is and how to "take it", let's look at a few examples.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.  A middle-aged husband wants to believe his middle-aged wife is the most beautiful woman in the world.  How might this positive belief about his wife  make him mentally healthier, happier and more liked by his wife?

So what can he do to make it so?  Help this man take the Big Pill.  What does he need to do?  It's no big secret, most happily married husbands can answer this question for you (so can their wives).  Let's go back and modify Jonathan Haidt's quote for guidance here,

For many traits, such as beauty, there are so many ways to define it that one is free to pick the criterion that will most flatter oneself (and one's wife).  If my wife has blue eyes, brown hair and a gorgeous smile, I can define beauty as blue eyes, brown hair and a gorgeous smile.  If I think my wife is a great dresser, I can define beauty as stylish dressing.