Since it seems unlikely at this point that I will achieve stardom as a professional athlete, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of other avenues to fame. So far, I’ve ruled out supervillain, porn star, politician, and jockey. One option that seems promising, however, is to have something named after me, because then my name will stick around for as long as the thing exists.
I don’t want to get a disease named after me, though. Who wants to be an Alzheimer, a Hashimoto, or a Lou Gehrig? No, thank you. One of the better ways to be an eponym, I’ve decided, is to come up with some kind of useful theory. The Peter Principle (which states that people tend to get promoted beyond their level of competence) is already taken, though. Besides, I would have to share the tremendous riches and recognition that come with inventing such a theory with every other Peter in the world.
However, The Borten Principle almost guarantees a direct association with me, since very few others share my last name. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas, but the rising contender seems to be this one. Let’s say you bought a Powerball ticket. As you know, the biggest increase in your odds of winning at Powerball occurs when you buy one ticket. Before buying one ticket, your odds were zero. There were no odds, really, because you weren’t even in the game. After buying one ticket, your odds skyrocketed to something like 1 in 175 million. A few more tickets would make only the most minuscule difference.
But taking that first step . . . that was everything. It was the biggest hurdle and it made the biggest difference. And that’s what The Borten Lottery Principle states: the decision to act represents both the biggest hurdle and the biggest improvement in return. If this is already an established theory, please just start calling it The Borten Principle anyway.
This month, The Dragontree is focusing on meditation, and I’m introducing this principle because I know people often have the hardest time getting themselves to meditate, despite knowing that it would be good for them. If you’re one of them, and the time commitment or perceived difficulty is daunting, how about just buying a single ticket? Ready? You have time right now for this.
Let’s meditate for a single breath. Don’t do anything special to prepare. Just close your eyes and bring your focus to your breath. Instead of following your own thoughts like you usually do, just “watch” what happens as you inhale and then exhale. Don’t manipulate anything or try to achieve anything. Just pay attention to your breath for one inhale and exhale, and then open your eyes and keep reading. It will take about ten seconds or less. Do it now.
How was it? Horrible? I know, breathing is like fingernails on a chalkboard. But maybe it wasn’t so horrible or difficult. How would you feel about making a commitment to do that about once an hour? That’s all I ask of you, and, if you don’t already have a meditation practice, that’s all I recommend you ask of yourself for now. Even if you decide to do this only once a day, just make it something you know you can succeed at.
Next time, we’ll go a little further. Meanwhile, congratulations on buying that ticket. I have a good feeling about it.
Dr. Peter Borten