Unplug Yourself and Bark Back and Find Your Agency

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Unplug Yourself and Bark Back and Find Your Agency

There’s an Anne Lamott quote that says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes—including you.”

And that’s a lovely quote and quite true in so many instances, but also sometimes? Sometimes it can feel next to impossible to unplug.

Sometimes that unplugging has to be a dramatic event where you realize that you have to rescue yourself from the habits that are controlling your life, or the people controlling your life and you have to actually take your own control of your life.

I know! I know! Terrifying.

But the first question is: how do you actually take control over your life?

Over at the greatergood, there are some potential possibilities that we’re going to share here. It’s a great article written by Anthony Rao and Paul Napper back in 2019.

Controlling Stimuli

They write:

“Agency begins with what you let into your mind—meaning what comes in from your environment. If you are lacking agency, it’s likely your attention is being hijacked and you need to figure out how to restore it.”

A phone next to you when you’re reading? It’s probably going to distract you, they say. But walking outside? It lets your brain recharge.

Same thing with email notifications. 

Another thing they suggest is . . .

“Associate Selectively”

They write:

“It’s impossible not to be affected by those around us—it’s easy to “catch” their emotions, for example, and our brains tend to synch up when we associate with other people. That means you should set boundaries with difficult people, disentangle yourself from negative online interactions, and be more conscious of how you might be vulnerable to “groupthink”—pressures to behave or think in ways that are contrary to your values.”

How do you do that when that person is your kid? It’s a good question. But they suggest making sure you have a lot of interactions with people who want to help you cultivate your skills and talents, grow to your potential, and help you with your positive beliefs. Volunteering and just chatting can help.

Move Around

Get up. Off the couch. Off the chair. Stretch. Walk. Dance. As often as possible.


They write: “People with high levels of agency are continually learning more and expanding their capacity to learn by adopting a more open, collaborative approach to everything in life.”

There’s a whole lot more we’ll talk about next week too, but for this week, try this:

  1. Put your phone in another room while you work.
  2. Go outside and walk if you can.
  3. Get up every 40 minutes and move around for five. Set a timer.
  4. Chat with someone positive or sign up to volunteer somewhere.
  5. Sign up for a free class or even listen to a podcast like this. Take some time to learn something.

And think about this:

“You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind,” Anne Lamott says in a TedTalk about being sixty-one. “It’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers.”


Bark. Communicate your needs and sometimes the neighbor will bark back and you’ll feel less lonely.






The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.


AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.

Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

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