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It’s easy to be annoyed with people when they don’t do what we expected. Today let’s think about the ways in which people could have reacted in unpleasant ways but didn’t. Just like you their willpower is limited and they chose to use some of it to make your day run more smoothly.
How would you handle conflicts if force or threats were no option? We often default to the easiest or most known way to solve problems. What would change if we theoretically excluded these paths?
It’s easy to drown in to-do list items. Do you have a way to acknowledge and monitor your progress towards something?
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
-Maya Angelou (Poet)
I just watched an exceedingly weird movie that made me appreciate how much work it is to deal with things we are not used to. Kudos to all of you who bother to sit through that discomfort sometimes.
Every living being has evolved to thrive under certain environmental conditions and is challenged, once those conditions are not met. That is not just true for different species but even for individuals. So we set up our particular brand of bubble to make sure, that we can operate in the best possible way within that. I do this too by both blocking out information, that is not helpful to what I am trying to achieve and amplifying the things which further my cause. Yet no matter how comfortable it is in this bubble, it is vital, to see beyond it every once in a while. One way I do this is to attend the Zurich Film Festival and watch a shit-ton of documentaries and independent movies. Some of it is sweet, wonderous and encouraging but a big chunk is scary. Seeing what kind of complete nutcase is the most successful US police force trainer is haunting. Being in someone’s shoes who is completely helpless is not pleasant at all. It would be more comfortable within my bubble for sure. Yet here’s the thing: being outside the bubble reminds me of the urgency of what we are trying to achieve: healing and bringing forth a world, that is not so freaked out, that we can never leave our bubbles anymore.
Once upon a time was a professor who wanted to teach his kids about time management. So he took this big jar and placed big stones in it.
“Is it full?” he asked.
“Yes”, the class replied.
Then he took smaller rocks and replayed the whole charade and because this class is somehow very slow they fell for the same trick again and of course he pulled a bag of pebbles and finally some sand in. Moral of the story: start with the big important chunks of your day when planning what to do and get progressively smaller from there. If you stuff in small stuff, the big and more important will not fit any longer.
For me that’s six hours. What is the minimum/normal sleep duration for you? Compare and contrast sleeping your minimum viable sleep and how you feel when you have slept 90 min more than that. Sometimes we don’t even recognize, that we are not fully functional until we notice the difference.
There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.-Salvador Dali
I ran a half-marathon three weeks ago. My body evidently doesn’t care about that one bit because after taking a little break, I got back to running and felt the muscle soreness after 3 fast miles. Now we are very aware of this effect when it comes to things we don’t want: losing muscle, fat creeping back in or starting to forget things. Yet we can use the same logic when it comes to other things: the brain patterns that are destructive but underused diminish in tiny ways every day. So let’s use this naturally occurring change as motivation.
When we get emotional about a situation it’s often because our expectations have been violated. This is perplexing as we are often not aware of the expectations we have. If you fill in the following prompts you will have a better understanding of what you expect:
- XY is their job
- The least they can do is….
- It should be a given that…
- If everyone did XY like that…
- At this price point I expect …
Even if you don’t read all the glossy magazines it’s quite likely that you are aware of some famous actors, musicians and athletes. Even if you never meet them and hardly care, they can become like ghosts in your social circle: a less solid but definitely detectable presence, that lingers sometimes for decades. What I find interesting is how my view of them changes over the years in a way that reveals how I changed over the years. In my very judgmental teens I passionately hated many of them: Britney (oh how I would hit you as often as you liked back then), Justin Timberlake or The Bloodhound Gang (now I get nostalgic :). Later I didn’t necessarily hate celebrities but I underestimated them like Ben Affleck or Matthew McConaughey. And now as I look of many of them, regardless of whether I like them, I find it hard not to respect the continuous work and self-development required to maintain at the top and keep expanding your abilities. What about you?
I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.-Bob Dylan
Make 2016 count.
When taking prescription drugs we know that it is essential to not take ten times more than what the doctor prescribed. We know that dosage kills. Yet when it comes to psychology we often forget this concept of “how much” because we are blinded by a black n’ white discussion of what is right or wrong. Maybe what you tried didn’t work not because it’s useless but because the dosage was wrong.
When we step in to fix something we have to periodically ask ourselves, if we are actually creating the benefit we intended to create. Political correctness was invented with the very noble and kind-hearted desire to stop racism. Unfortunately it has created a climate, where using one incorrect word can have severe consequences like getting fired. So to avoid these consequences people often don’t deeply engage with people from another ethnicity in order to avoid the severe consequences. This creates not less but more racism. So when we help someone or fix something we have to be open to evaluating our efforts.
For some reason I never liked affirmations although lots of people swear they work for them. I started experimenting with them, found some positive effects but couldn’t quite shake the discomfort either. I could never put my finger on it until just now: I don’t like to be told what to think, even if it’s myself whose doing the dictating. Interestingly I might not be the only one: in a study they found that people who took an affirmation such as “I am healthy” and turned it into a question, “Am I healthy?” actually showed more consistent behaviour change. So if like me you struggle with affirmations too, why not include affirmative questions in your day instead?
I was sitting outside Starbucks minding my own business when someone asked me for a favour in Italian. She needed to buy a bus ticket for herself and her mother but the bus company didn’t take cash. If I could buy it on the computer and she’d give me the cash. I always want to help other travellers out but something made me suspicious. So I tentatively started helping her but I felt weird about it. It all went well, they gave me the money and nothing bad happened. Normally helping others makes us feel good. So much so that we even have an intervention called “random acts of kindness”. What makes this feeling impossible is when we distrust the people we are helping. Of course it makes sense not to be completely naive about the world however giving away every opportunity to help someone out (or begrudgingly helping out) might cost us more happiness than it protects us from being harmed.
Today let’s remind ourselves of things we know are both true and reassuring.
Anders Ericsson has been studying peak performance for years. And he is yet to find a world-class author, athlete or musician who can train, practice or perform for more than 4-5 hours per day at their best over a long period of time. Anything beyond this point produces more mistakes, injury or burnout.