🔸 Factfulness tells the story of the secret, silent miracle of human progress
🔸 Journalists are in the business of attracting readers with simple and dramatic stories
🔸 Our worldview has become skewed, a poor representation of what the world is really like
🔸 Many believe that people around the planet are worse off than they were before
🔸 In fact, people everywhere are richer, safer and living longer
🔸 Middle and high income countries currently account for 91% of humanity
🔸 Just 200 years ago, 85% of the world was mired in poverty
🔸 "Mega-misconceptions" deeply mess up our understanding of the world
🔸 For example, that the East and the West are fundamentally different
🔸 In 1965, 125 countries fell into the "developing" category which today, contains only 13
🔸 On average, all 30 year old women have spent 9 years in school, only 1 year less than men
🔸 Overexposure to bad news gives the impression that things are becoming worse
🔸 The death rate today due to natural disaster is only 25% of what it was 100 years ago
🔸 The world's population is close to hitting it's peak, not continually going up, up, up
🔸 Crime is down, and 80% of the world's children have some form of basic health care
🔸 Gain multiple perspectives to avoid overgeneralisation about other cultures
🔸 It's shortsighted to blame one individual or even one group for the source of a problem
🔸 Facts and accuracy should be honoured in all areas of life including education and business
🔸 Teach children how to recognise overdramatic news, encourage them not to feel too anxious
🔸 Thoughts of the future or the past prevent us from living our actual lives in the present
🔸 Whatever you are doing, be fully conscious and mindful of it
🔸 Mindfulness means focussed on the present moment, restful but fully alert
🔸 Breathing in a mindful manner can help connect your consciousness to the present moment
🔸 Beginners Exercise: Lie down and take 10-20 mindful breaths, as needed
🔸 Devote one whole day per week, the same day each week, to mindfulness
🔸 On this day, take slow, deliberate breaths upon waking
🔸 When carrying out tasks on this day, concentrate with calmness and serenity
🔸 Enter into the spirit of your tasks without reluctance or irritation, minimise talking
🔸 Do some gardening perhaps, or take a bath and in the evening, do something enjoyable
🔸 Mindfulness helps develop an awareness of the interdependence of things
🔸 See how breath and mind are connected, see that you are part of a greater whole
🔸 Seeing interdependence helps break down barriers that narrow our world
🔸 Recognise all thoughts and feelings in a spirit of welcoming acceptance
🔸 Treat all feelings equally, with gentleness and respect, they are part of you, all is sacred
🔸 To overcome fear of death, see that you are your life and your death simultaneously
"It was maybe my most meaningful gig ever. Sharing ‘how we work’ with a troop of 9-year old Girl Scouts.
I asked so many questions.
What do they know about their thoughts, feelings, and why they do the things they do?
Where do feelings come from?
How do they know things? Not the things they learn in school, but things that can’t be taught? Where do they look for answers and wisdom? Where do new ideas come from?
They were eager to share.
They told me how feelings come from annoying little brothers, friends on the playground, pets and forgotten homework. Things, people and homework make them feel the way they do.
Feelings change when they do something to cheer themselves up, they said. When they watch Harry Potter, eat a cookie, or pet their dog, they cheer up. How else?
One girl told me about her anger issues, which she inherited from her aunt who has the same problem. A 40-year old mom’s voice came out this tiny 9-year old mouth. Oh yeah, and she’s an emotional eater too, also like her aunt.
The moms in the back of the room—the Girl Scouts’ teachers of ‘how we work’—nodded in agreement with everything the girls shared.
But something felt different in these girls compared to the adults I talk with every day.
It was almost as if they were telling me the “right” (wrong!) answers, but they weren’t so sure. They had evidence to back up what they said, but they weren’t as convinced as their parents and grandparents.
I sensed an openness. Some suspicion. We went there.
We talked about how thoughts show up within them, feel solid and real, and then “pop”. Like bubbles.
They loved talking about bubbles. “Oh yeah, like how a big bubble looks like a thing, but then you touch it and it’s gone!”
Exactly. And feelings come from bubbles too, not from brothers, homework, or pets. Feelings are bubbles. They feel so solid and then pop all by themselves.
Bubbles everywhere! they chanted. Life is like bubbles! We don’t have to take the bubbles so seriously. They don’t mean anything about us, really.
(I swear to God I saw one of the moms in the back of the room reverse age about 10 years. Really? she pulled me aside to ask afterward, or was this just a story for the kids’ sake? Really and truly it works that way?)
So what’s there beneath the bubbles? You know that feeling you feel when you’re cozy in your bed, about to fall asleep, not a lot of bubbles around?
They knew. That’s always there, I told them. That’s where solutions and new ideas come from. That peaceful feeling is always there; it’s just covered by bubbles sometimes.
One girl talked about how good she felt after she cried a lot. Did that have something to do with what I was saying?
They closed their eyes and put their hands on their hearts. We were quiet for a bit. See, it’s right there, always. So close, always!
“Is that why we’re not supposed to have so much technology, so we don’t forget about that?”
Something like that, I said. I told them they didn’t have to look to the bubbles for answers or solutions or new ideas. They could look to the quiet instead. The quiet is super smart. It’s like their magical superpower.
(That triggered a Harry Potter tangent, but I got us back).
And that was that.
On the way out, I told the girl with anger and emotional eating issues that she’s just feeling bubbles. It might seem scary, but it’s not so serious. She smirked as if to say “I had a feeling that was the case”.
I heard one of the girls ask my daughter Willow, “Do you guys talk about bubbles at your house?” Willow said yes. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she looked kind of proud.
Her friend said, “That’s cool. I’m going to tell my mom about bubbles when I get home.”
Yup. That was pretty much my most favourite, meaningful gig ever."
Dr. Amy Johnson is coach, social psychologist and author.
Imagine you're surfing and you see a large, dark shadow moving slowly under the surface of the water... and then you see... a fin! What do you experience? A sense of terror; your heart starts racing, your breathing quickens, you feel panicked!
Your brilliant brain is bringing your attention to the present moment, preparing you to fight, freeze or flee from the impending danger.
But then, how do you feel a moment later when you see... it's only a dolphin...? Ahhhh...! Phew!
A person experiencing anxiety or a panic attack will experience similar, terrifying symptoms.
But what if "treating" anxiety and panic attacks is similar to treating the terrifying symptoms that arise when we think we've seen a shark, when in actuality, all we've seen is a harmless dolphin?
You see, our uncomfortable feelings are always the result of the energy generated by our transient, fear-based thoughts, (a.k.a our survival instinct) not the "shark" directly (remember, it wasn't actually a shark! We just thought it was!) Anxiety is a side effect, a burst of thought energy that occurs when we engage with, and believe, that our feelings are telling us about a real danger. But we're actually experiencing our fear-based survival instinct; uncomfortable transient feelings from made-up stories. They're fiction, they're fake news! They're a dolphin!
We can experience anxious feelings when we're 10 minutes late for a meeting! Or the in-laws are coming for dinner and we haven't cleaned the bathroom! It can be extremely helpful to really know, to see, to insightfully realise that our uncomfortable feelings are the result of these unhelpful, unreliable thoughts passing through us. They're trying to protect us (thank-you brain!) But they're not actually us. We are the observer, the experiencer, consciousness...
It may seem trivial on the surface, but this insight is exactly what can take us out of depression and anxiety: when we stop taking our own thoughts so seriously, when we see them for the "dolphin" that they are, the torment can settle. When we simply let them pass through our mind, we begin to feel our original, natural state bubble up, the state we were born with: innate mental health. Calmness, inner strength, lightness, clarity, simplicity, confidence, security and joy...
These uncomfortable feelings are a tap on the shoulder to come to the present moment, but not because theres' a clear and present danger. Rather, your brilliant brain is alerting you to the fact that you're innocently hanging around in your thoughts and uncomfortable feelings unnecessarily, not the real world around you, which is safe.
Kinda like surfing... and seeing a shadow... experiencing the initial shock... but then knowing for certain... it's not a shark.... it's only a dolphin. Phew! I'm actually... OK...
This review is written in response to, "Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?" by Johann Hari, printed in The Guardian on 7th January 2018.
In this article, Johann Hari comes close to discovering the cause of depression (and anxiety, anger, etc.) but unfortunately... no cigar. Yes, external circumstances are involved, as triggers. But triggers, as the word indicates, trigger another crucial factor: the energy generated by our survival-instinct, showing up in our body in response to transient, often undetectable THOUGHTS.
What if our connections aren't lost? What if we just THINK they are?
The above article states that in the '70s, as a result of the release of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), "All over the world, (doctors) were being encouraged to tell patients that depression is, in fact, just the result of a spontaneous chemical imbalance in your brain".
The key word here is "spontaneous". The spontaneity-factor is due to the rapid, almost-instant message received by the brain as a direct result of a thought ABOUT the external circumstance. The external person/event innocently triggers a thought (sourced from the conditioned 'Lizard'/survival memory-bank), which spontaneously produces the chemical, which spontaneously produces the feeling in the body. This feeling then leads to behaviours (staying in bed, becoming isolated, more unhelpful thinking), which then cumulatively lead to results (lack of connection, more unhelpful thinking, job loss, even suicide).
This is why medication works initially, for some, not all. Yes, a chemical imbalance is produced by out-of-control, unchecked thought energy, but medication deals with the chemicals, not the thoughts. Over time, the brain finds a way to allow the thoughts (survival-instinct message) through, circumventing the medication. The message is: "Come to the present moment! Something has happened, you might need to fight or flee, something has to change, or you'll die!" But in modern times, even when there is NO actual immediate danger, these uncomfortable feelings are sending the simple message: "Careful! You're thinking something that might be unhelpful!"
Back in the '70s, Sydney Banks, a 9th-grade-educated welder born in Scotland, identified "Thought" as the "missing link" between external circumstances and feelings. Hari's article unwittingly provides three clear examples of this truth:
1) Hari declares, "We need to feel we have a secure future (to be happy.") However, there are people WITHOUT a secure future who feel happy nonetheless. Rather than thinking about an uncertain future, they have accrued different thoughts, for example, "I am free to adjust to whatever the future brings", or, "Security is an illusion: non-one knows what tomorrow may bring, so I must focus on making the most of today!" If a secure future were necessary for happiness and wellbeing, then EVERYONE would need a secure future to feel happy, and NO ONE with a (supposed) secure future would feel unhappy at any time, both of which are untrue.
2) Hari goes on to say, "Humans have an innate need to feel that what we are doing, day-to-day, is meaningful. When you are controlled, you can’t create meaning out of your work." If that were true, 100% of people who are controlled in their work would not be able to find meaning in their work and would subsequently feel depressed. But this obviously isn't true. People who are "controlled" can have thoughts based on meaning, or gratitude, or any number of positive affects and will feel happy whilst undertaking supposed "meaningless" work. And people with seemingly total control over their work environment would be happy 100% of the time. Clearly, this isn't the case either.
3) Professor John Cacioppo of Chicago University taught Hari that, "Being acutely lonely is as stressful as being punched in the face by a stranger – and massively increases your risk of depression." Chances are, you actually know someone who lives alone who is content, if not happy! Why? Because they have different thinking about being alone, resulting in a different experience. Similarly, if it were the "aloneness" directly causing the stress and depression, they would be stressed and/or depressed 100% of the time, because the aloneness would be true 100% of the time. Consider this: how are they feeling when they're not thinking about it?!
When we (innocently) attribute our feelings to an external circumstance or person's behaviour, it follows that we will look for an external cure: medication, a new job, moving house, etc. We would be seeking to change a virtually uncontrollable world, eventually feeling exhausted and powerless. But we are miraculous, perfectly-designed creatures! It doesn't make sense that our wellbeing is dependent on the oft impossible task of aligning countless, uncontrollable ducks!
Even more importantly, the problem isn't lost connections, it's a failure to see that we are all already connected. As John Donne famously expressed,"No man is an island". He didn't say, "Man feels unhappy when he's isolated from others". He said no man IS an island. We haven't lost our connections. With the innocent, yet powerful, rise of the ego and the idea of self, we've developed the belief that we ARE an island and forgotten that we're not.
So, how are we connected exactly?
- By our common humanity. We are all human beings.
- By our shared experience of being different to everyone else. We are each experiencing the world from our own unique perspective.
- By our shared history. Our ancestors influenced each other on countless levels, both good and bad.
- By our physical environment. Especially now that we are a global community, we are all living in the same "jungle".
- By the air we breath - think about it! My last breath could be part of your next!
- On a scientific level, atoms are 99% space... and we are made up of atoms... hence, we are are 99% space! If we are the atoms and the space they are made of, where exactly does one person end and another begin?
- Lastly and most importantly IMHO, we are connected by our conscious awareness. We are all conscious, we all aware, of each other and of this beautiful world around us. Our behaviour directly changes the experience of those around us. We are all in it together.
If we think that we are are an island, that we are isolated, alone, we will feel the feelings associated with that thought. But when we really see that we are already connected on so many levels, like anything learned (or remembered!) by our brain, it will inform our behaviour and our experience of the world will automatically change.
As Hari mentioned, the United Nations is right: "The biased and selective use of research outcomes must be abandoned." Additionally, "Finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place" is useful, but not the complete picture. Rather than focusing more on “power imbalances” as the UN suggests, we each need to gather evidence of the role that our own innocent, subconscious thinking plays in our experience of life "in the moment". We need to "see" the reality of our shared experience.
When we see our connection to those around us, including family, neighbours and our community, (both local and global) our fear-based survival-instinct can be safely relegated to our subconscious where it belongs. As a result, anger, blame, sadness and fear are reduced and creativity, cooperation, joy, peace and love, our "true nature" (have you hung out with a one-year-old lately?) are increased.
We can use our feelings as the message for which they were intended: to come to the present moment. In the words of Leo Tolstoy, "Now is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power." Only in this moment, free of fear and full of love, can we choose what's truly best for our survival.
Lastly, importantly and urgently, we need to educate our children in this truth. With this simple, logical, fundamental understanding, humans can feel connected no matter what their circumstances and create the life and future they desire, by creatively responding to the actual present moment, rather than reacting to the unhelpful, repetitive, conditioned thinking generated by their survival instinct.
The future of our species might very well depend on it.
When we say ‘growth’ in the context of human beings, we are normally referring to some kind of internal growth. It goes by many names: emotional maturity, self-actualization, personal development, reaching ones full potential, enlightenment. Whatever words we use to describe it, it is something we cherish and desire for ourselves.
Early on in our marriage my wife Linda experienced this. Linda took a sudden and dramatic jump in how she lived her life and saw the world. She was more patient, more appreciative and more fun to be around. She seemed wiser. Fewer things bothered her.
Linda could have looked at me, the same old un-evolved, less-developed George, and decided she had outgrown me. Instead her growth allowed her to see our relationship in a new light, a better light. In her eyes I looked like a better husband than I did before. It was as if I had evolved along with her. She saw more assets in me and less problems. She was more patient with my shortcomings. Did she grow annoyed and impatient that I didn’t “rise to the occasion”? Absolutely not. She was happier and more fulfilled in and out of our relationship.
Was it difficult for me to be with someone who was excelling at life so much better than myself? That was a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want a more compassionate, more loving, more patient, more fun spouse? Let’s face it, people have affairs to get a better partner, and I got a new partner without leaving home!
Personal growth makes a person a better person. Better people make for better relationships. Every time a person experiences growth they are bringing those newfound benefits into their relationship.
How did this myth about personal growth being a threat to marriages come about? Well, sometimes people do drift apart as they go about their lives. However, the reason they drift apart has nothing to do with changes in their interests, personalities, pursuits, or even the amount of time they spend together. The truth is that couples drift apart because they get mentally distracted. They allow thoughts about new endeavours to fill their minds, leaving less room for connection.
When two people are together, but each is distracted by their own thinking, they won’t feel connected. Here is a metaphor: Airplane lavatories have a “Vacant/Occupied” dial to indicate availability. In a manner of speaking our minds have a somewhat similar setting: “vacant” when we are free for connection with others, and “occupied” when we are preoccupied with our own thoughts on other matters.
Even if two people are very busy, they will have a satisfying and worthwhile relationship if they can set their setting to “vacant” when they spend time together.
Sometimes I hear the argument that a couple can be too different to be able to connect to each other. I do not see this to be the case. Travellers who go to a foreign country will often come back raving about the people they met and connected with. They will say how close they felt to the residents, even if they did not have a shared language to communicate with. If this is possible, then no amount of varied personalities or interests can come into conflict with a couple’s ability to connect with each other.
When people don’t understand closeness and how to achieve it, they blame drifting apart on the reduced time spent together due to them becoming more involved in personal interests. They say things like, “We drifted apart because he became obsessed with golf and I started spending more time with my friends.” They don’t realise that the time they did spend together could have nourished them if their minds had been available for intimacy and connection.
Couples tend to believe that the amount of time spent together directly affects the quality of the interaction. In truth, it doesn’t take much time together to satisfy human beings. Just fifteen minutes of closeness does a lot for relationships. Everything that makes relationships worthwhile–comfort, reassurance, companionship, enjoyment—are all there for a couple when their minds are free and the natural connection between them can be experienced.
When people experience personal growth, they find that their minds are freer and more open to connection. They see beauty in other people. It is easier for them to overlook what were previously viewed as “difficult behaviours”. Instead they see the beauty and the innocence underneath those behaviours. All of these improvements enhance relationships. All of these improvements buffer any kind of perceived challenges, incompatibility of interests, or “difficult” personality traits.
Growth makes us more accepting of incompatibilities, makes us more resourceful in addressing difficult life situations, and allows us to see beyond petty problems, to the goodness and beauty that lies within us and our partners. That is the stuff of better relationships.
Here is the rest of Linda and my story: After Linda “outgrew” me, it didn’t take long for me to say, “I’ll have what she’s having.” In a few short months her growth rubbed off on me. I grew in ways, too. I learned things about myself and about how people work. This changed how I saw the world. I became more lighthearted, like Linda. I felt wiser. I felt more mature. Linda and I experienced more closeness and more fun. We did not need to “work” on our relationship. Now it’s now been forty years since things changed for us. It all began when Linda suddenly “outgrew” me, and it saved our marriage.
Old habits and addictions can be changed without the effort of willpower, but rather, with the power of insight...
This is a common chain of events, can you relate?
1. You're travelling along during the day, you're feeling OK…
2. You experience something unpleasant, a trigger. Or maybe it's 5pm, also known as "wine o'clock!” Or, it's been such-and-such minutes since your last cigarette.
3. A stressful/angry/anxious/sad thought automatically pops into your head, or you crave something and simultaneously...
4. You feel stressed/angry/anxious, sad. You feel uncomfortable. You experience a craving, you decide you need something to feel better.
5. What happens next? You think: I need a drink, to have a cigarette, or to yell, bash, cry, tear your hair out, perhaps hide in your bedroom, or go shopping, place a bet, look at porn, play a video game, eat a tub of ice-cream etc. etc.
6. You choose your preferred coping mechanism (above) to relieve this temporary uncomfortable feeling. You feel better now... ahhhh!
7. You have successfully (albeit innocently) trained your brain to associate relief from a temporary, uncomfortable thought/feeling with your behaviour of choice, creating a habit or an addiction.
8. It's easy to believe that the relief is coming from the external coping mechanism itself; it happens almost instantly. But you actually feel relief because at the exact same time as you satisfy your craving, you are no longer experiencing that original uncomfortable thought/feeling/craving.
So here is an alternative chain of events:
1. You're travelling along during the day, feeling OK...
2. You experience something unpleasant, a trigger. Or maybe it's 5pm, also known as "wine o'clock!” Or, it's been such-and-such minutes since your last cigarette.
3. A stressful/angry/anxious/sad thought automatically pops into your head, or you crave something and simultaneously...
4. You feel stressed/angry/anxious, sad. You feel uncomfortable. You experience a craving.
5. Alternative choice: You realise you can observe the transient, uncomfortable feeling. You acknowledge that you are having this feeling as a result of a temporary thought, seeing it for what it is. You allow both the thought and the feeling to pass by, like clouds. Behind the clouds, YOU are the sky, constant, calm, you are the observer... you are OK.
6. You feel relief not because you have fed your addiction, but because you are no longer experiencing the original uncomfortable thought/feeling! It has passed!
7. Congratulations! You are successfully retraining your brain to dismiss your automatic, unhelpful thoughts and habits and calmly assess what can be done next. Over time, your brain will understand that these unhelpful thoughts and habits are no longer important to you and they will arise less and less often.
In summary, the urge is created by passing thought. You can quell the urge by repeating your preferred unhelpful coping mechanism, or by seeing it's transient nature, allowing the thought and it's associated craving to pass and finding something else to do.
This is not fighting addiction with the effort of willpower. This is beating addiction with the power of insight.
You don't have to let your habitual mind destroy your precious Life...
If you're experiencing struggle, focusing on the negative or what's wrong with everything that happens around you...
those thoughts are just habitual thinking arising within the mind.
It’s just your mind verbalising your PAST relationship to the world.
Your mind is trying to protect you, sifting through your history, attempting to prevent future suffering.
But that wisdom is now stored away, ready to be used in a future "present moment".
Habitual thinking tells you about how you related to people and events in the past, but it tells you nothing about the person you can be in the future.
What's going to happen next is unknown, unwritten.
What happened in the past no longer exists. It's not the past any more.
What defines you right now is how you are relating to right now.
How you are relating to right now is conditioning and creating your future.
Your state of mind creates your reality.
You are not your past.
You don’t have to think what you are thinking now.
You always have the opportunity right now to re-write your future.
You are the script writer.
With a new approach, your Life can head in a new direction.
Habit will keep you in a tight little box and say...
I'm not good enough. I can't do it. Others can, but I can't.
Don’t believe this.
It is a lie.
Know that you can dismiss the old writer of your scripts.
Because Universal Wisdom is always on hand, supplying your next best step.
And don't forget to treat yourself with kindness.
We berate ourselves and somehow think it's okay.
That kind of habitual thinking is (obviously) negative.
So how will it affect the creation of your future?
Life is challenging and it can be frustrating.
But seeing that your feelings are the direct result of passing thoughts can be helpful.
They alert you... you have started overthinking, stopped trusting.
There's only right now and how you're relating to right now.
All you need to do is show up... and respond.
THAT'S what shapes your future.
Cultivating gratitude will be a given ... you are playing the Game of Life in an amazing world gifted to you by nature and the sweat and toil of countless ancestors...
We are all connected. We are all conscious of the one world and of each other.
You can't be grateful and negative at the same time.
Gratitude and positivity can arise spontaneously...
and you'll be better at the Game of Life.
Yes, “The Force” helps Jedi warriors conquer intergalactic enemies...
But the Force is also beating your heart, breathing your lungs, and running every biological system in your body.
When you notice feelings commonly known as “nerves” or “anxiety”, it’s this same energy, working to keep you alive! You can trust this system which has grown you each and every day of your life.
And The Force supplies you with ideas 24/7 so you can always ask, "What could I do to look after myself today? What could I do to look after someone I love? What could I do to enjoy myself? What could I do to contribute to my community? What could I do to preserve our precious environment?" Answers will come…
May the Force be with you!
Anxiety is so very normal. Everyone on the planet feels anxiety, including the Dalai Lama!
You see, feelings of anxiety are connected to our ancient “survival instinct”. Since the development of language, this fear-based, energetic impulse transforms itself into judgemental, fearful thoughts passing through our minds, sometimes identifiable, often invisible.
These thoughts are generated by our genetics, beliefs and conditioning and are always DIRECTLY creating our feelings in the moment (as opposed to circumstances in the outside world, which we’ve been innocently led to believe). Our brain is attempting to predict what MIGHT happen based on everything it already knows about the world. This innocent thought/feeling process hinders clear thinking and our ability to respond consciously to the present moment based on what’s actually happening and what we want to create.
This ancient biological system was handy when we were vulnerable animals in the wild. Nowadays? Unless you’re actually in mortal danger, the thoughts and feelings generated by our personal, habitual thinking are pretty much “FALSE ALARMS” and can be dismissed. Donald Trump would call them "fake news"! Don't worry... if real danger crosses your path, you'll be moving before you've even realised.
What next you ask? Well, given that you are part of nature and there’s an intelligent energy “growing” you (think: wounds turning into scars, acorns growing into oak trees, caterpillars transforming into butterflies) you can replace your worries (thoughts/feelings) with TRUST. Trust that whatever you need to know will be supplied to you by this universal, intelligent energy, in each and every moment. You can also trust that whatever happens, you’ll be able to handle it, just like you’ve handled everything else in your presumably-chaotic life so far!
Hint: Concentrate on the feeling... how do you feel when you see that the same energy that created the entire universe is growing you, the best it can, moment-by-moment, and your conditioned, personal thoughts and feelings are essentially false and irrelevant?