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I Was Wrong About Thinking Big

Otoro, fatty bluefin tuna sashimi for Chef Rick Bayless
Fatty bluefin tuna amuse bouche for Chef Rick Bayless before I transitioned to sustainable sushi.

Thinking about how things could be better, and imagining a world that was more ideal doesn't mean I think big. I thought that because I think broadly about tasks/jobs (like making sushi) and the implications of doing them made me a big thinker.

The problem with eating/making sushi is that it's bad for the environment because popular species of fish commonly served in restaurants are overfished, and there is tremendous waste in the supply chain.

The seafood industry as a whole is a broken system whose waste and carbon footprint are criminal. For example, a bluefin tuna which is an endangered species offers the prized cuts of akami, chu toro, and otoro. Some of the best bluefin is caught off the coast of Massachusetts, then shipped to Japan where it is auctioned. Sometimes that fish is purchased at auction from American buyers. That means, an endangered species that is caught in MA could literally get shipped around the world, just to find its way to your plate. A round trip flight from NYC to Tokyo emits about 6 tonnes of C02.

This is insane.

Global warming is real. Apex predators (like bluefin tuna) are essential for the health of the ocean's ecosystem. Yet we are willing to jeopardize the health of the planet and next generation of humans for some sushi?

Bluefin isn't the only species that gets this special treatment. Unagi or river eel (also an endangered species) are caught in Maine as little babies called elvers, then shipped to Japan where they are fattened up, killed and BBQ'd. Once they are cooked, they are frozen and shipped back to America. I'd say 99% of restaurants in America purchase this frozen pre-cooked eel to sell you at their restaurant as if they had cooked it themself.

Crab is caught in America then sent to China to have the meat picked by people who are paid next to nothing. The meat is then packaged and shipped back to America and sold as "sustainable crab meat". How the hell is that sustainable?

Striped Bass Tartare.
"Swamp Thing", a special I made at my very short lived sustainable sushi restaurant, Pursue.

Being the big thinker that I am (or thought I was) I worked to create sustainable sushi concepts to build awareness and a viable option for people who want to eat sushi and not destroy the planet or eat endangered species.

I can't believe that catching, selling, buying, and eating endangered species of sea creatures is legal. The word sushi translates to "vinegared rice", so any topping (animal or plant) on rice seasoned with vinegar is called sushi. I wonder how people would react if I opened a sushi shop that specialized in panda meat.

That was a super long winded example of thinking big, but it's only one of a handful of things I think big about. I believed I could change the sushi industry. I failed, but doing > not doing right?

Looking back, the majority of my thoughts are actually very small minded. The scope of what I think is possible/doable on a more day to day basis is very limited. In Dr. Schwartz's book The Magic of Thinking Big he implores his audience to think big about everything. He gave one example that really opened my eyes to see how narrow my thoughts have been.

He asked a group of people if they thought prisons could be eliminated within 30 years (or at least something to that effect. The book is in the other room and I'm not about to get up to find the exact words.). Everyone in the audience thought the idea was ridiculous. They said it wasn't possible, that things would turn to chaos. They questioned the Dr. if he would just let rapists and murders roam free. Stuff like that.

He then said something like ...let's imagine that it was possible; how would you eliminate the need for prisons? The audience paused, and then started to consider how an impossible idea could be accomplished. They started blurting out suggestions and soon had a large list of ways they could work to improve society and eliminate the need for prisons.

Thinking big means to believe that things are possible. Dr. David says you should think big about everything. Most people, like me, default to "no".

"Can we do it this way?"

"Can we change this?"

"Can we..."

"No. It's not possible."

"No, because it's too hard."

"No, it's too expensive."

I want to practice thinking big by asking myself, "what if I could?"

"How could we do it?"

"What if it were possible?"

The point of the book is to train your mind because whenever it is that you come across in life you have a choice. Either you can think about why it can't be done, or how it can be. Those choices become habitual, and big thinkers figure out ways to solve problems while small thinkers focus their energy on telling you why something can't be done.

The voice in my head has been focused primarily on why things can't be done. I have focused for so many years on reason why I struggle, why I fail, why I'm not successful. I've got that excusitis.

This all goes back to those labels doctors have given me. They legitimized my unsuccessfulness. It's 'cause I struggle with depression, anxiety, ADD, or whatever. Those are the reasons why I can't get ahead.

I think that's stupid.

Recalling my past is something I need to stop doing in order to become healthy because my memory bank is filled primarily with negative things. I haven't stored many good memories, and last night I couldn't sleep much because I was trying to recall them. I could only find enough to fill one hand.

That's pretty messed up.

I'm 36 years old and I've got like, 5 good memories. That voice in my head has been constructing a really terrible image of who I am, and over the years, he's convinced me that that is who I am.

It's common knowledge that there is no cure for depression or anxiety. Doctors have treatments for them, but they cannot cure you of these mental health ailments. Thinking big means thinking that things that are possible. So let's try that.

What if I could cure myself of the diagnoses that have hindered my success?

How would I do it?

First I'd tell myself that I'm not different from anyone else. Depression and anxiety are things all humans experience. Some people, like me, are quick to use those labels when I feel those feelings to justify my lack of action.


I didn't help out in my community garden last weekend because I was feeling a little weird. It felt terrible because I wanted to participate, I was invited to participate, and chose not to participate. I told myself that I couldn't participate with the group because I was too nervous to meet my neighbors due to my anxiety. Then I beat myself up about how I let down the two people who invited me to participate and feel uncomfortable approaching them because I flaked. I've gone back and forth in my head a bunch of times how I would explain to them that I was too anxious to participate and that I've been struggling for the past two weeks with depression.

So, a way for me to cure depression and anxiety is to not give those words any power, and to replace them with positive words and actions instead of leaning on them as excuses for not doing. I'm sick of justifying my inaction with these two labels.

I've never been depressed or anxious while exercising. I'm not sure it's possible. So, I will do that more. Action cures depression. Action cures anxiety.

Lastly, 'cause this post is getting way too long, I wonder what my life would look like if I never said I was depressed or anxious ever again. Instead, what if those words were replaced with activities and positivity. People who are happy, say they're happy. Happy people don't spend all their time talking about how sad they are. If they did, they'd be depressed. So, if I want to be happy, I should probably start talking and thinking more about happiness.

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