Not everybody’s succeeding for the weekend, how to join them

Friday, 22 July, 2016

Since it’s almost the weekend, I’m wondering what I can do to lower my game. As it happens, there is rather a lot. All I have to do is take a leaf or two from the book of an unsuccessful person. And if you can’t make a success of your weekend, what can you make a success of?

Here are a few suggestions for stuffing up the weekend, based on what the unsuccessful do:

  • They don’t have a plan
  • They let technology take over
  • They don’t enjoy themselves
  • They sleep the entire time
  • They laze around and regret it

If that’s not enough, find more ideas here.

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How much eye contact is too much eye contact?

Thursday, 21 July, 2016

3.3 seconds, that’s the maximum amount of time you should make eye contact with someone you’ve just met, elsewise you run the risk of making them feel uncomfortable, or put off.

Eyes meeting can lead to moments of raw emotions and autonomic physiological responses. But any deviation of what is considered normal can signal a problem: Short eye contact may lead people to perceive someone as less confident and untrustworthy. Avoiding it altogether has been suggested to be a symptom of autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. A long gaze, on the other hand, can easily make both parties uncomfortable.

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Travellers tales from the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

Monday, 18 July, 2016

Recently Jan Chipchase spent five weeks travelling through central Asia, including the sparsely populated Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. It seems one can learn much about life, and the world, while in the area:

Everything is fine, until that exact moment when it’s obviously not. It is easy to massively over/under estimate risk based on current contextual conditions. Historical data provides some perspective, but it usually comes down to your ability to read undercurrents, which in turn comes down to having built a sufficiently trusted relationship with people within those currents.

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Did you know, no one actually knows why we like music?

Friday, 15 July, 2016

While there are plenty of ideas as to why we enjoy music, and listening to it, scientists cannot put their finger on precisely why is this so.

Today’s scientists have their own explanations. Maybe it’s the structure of the inner ear, or the neat ratios of frequencies in harmonious chords. Or maybe dissonant chords sound dissonant because of something called roughness: If you were to simultaneously play two notes right next to each other on a piano – a C and a C-sharp, say – their sound waves would clash in a jarring, unpleasant way.

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Quietly as you go, making an argument for silence

Wednesday, 13 July, 2016

The value of silence in maintaining our health and well being seems to be much underestimated. On the other hand, the harm, and discomfort even, that excess noise can occasion, is likewise miscalculated.

Dislike of noise has produced some of history’s most eager advocates of silence, as Schwartz explains in his book Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond. In 1859, the British nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale wrote, “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well.” Every careless clatter or banal bit of banter, Nightingale argued, can be a source of alarm, distress, and loss of sleep for recovering patients. She even quoted a lecture that identified “sudden noises” as a cause of death among sick children.

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You will marry the wrong person, so you might as well go for it

Wednesday, 13 July, 2016

Well forget being able to align the stars, and waltz off into the sunset with the one and only true love of your life… no matter what you do, you will marry the wrong person, says London based philosopher and television presenter, Alain de Botton. Oh, joy.

The primary error of our passion lies in overlooking a central fact about people in general, not merely the example we are proposing to marry, but the species as a whole: that everyone has something very substantially wrong with them and that no one can fully understand or sympathise with anyone else.

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For medicinal purposes, the case for more tree lined streets

Monday, 11 July, 2016

Hospital patients who can see a tree from their room, tend to be discharged sooner than those who might be looking at a brick wall through the window. What’s intriguing though is a finding that trees planted along roadways, rather than in the backyards of houses, or parks, increase the sense of well being among people walking passed them.

The health benefits stem almost entirely from trees planted along streets and in front yards, where many people walk past them; trees in back yards and parks don’t seem to matter as much in the analysis. It could be that roadside trees have a bigger impact on air quality along sidewalks, or that leafy avenues encourage people to walk more. But Berman is also interested in a possibility that harks back to Ulrich’s hospital-window finding: perhaps it is enough simply to look at a tree.

The message is simple. Plant more trees.

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The three things you need for a successful life

Thursday, 7 July, 2016

Take risks, work hard, and get lucky. And you too will succeed in life, says US venture capitalist Fred Wilson.

Everyone gets lucky breaks in their life. I can’t tell you when your lucky breaks will come. But I can tell you that they will come. You must be able to see them for what they are, you must be in a position to act on them, and you must not miss them. Pay attention, look carefully, and be prepared for your lucky breaks.

Much of getting lucky, as it were, depends on being able to recognise lucky breaks when they come along, and seize, or run with them. That can be a manifestation of good luck in itself.

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Multitasking, not the best way to take on numerous tasks

Wednesday, 6 July, 2016

I think it’s been known for some time now that trying to do a couple of things at once, or multitask, is a fanciful notion. We can only ever do one thing at a time.

Attempting to complete several tasks in rapid succession, or having a couple of things on the boil at the same time – what we really mean when we talk about multitasking – however is no less exhausting than actual multitasking would be, if it were possible.

When we attempt to multitask, we don’t actually do more than one activity at once, but quickly switch between them. And this switching is exhausting. It uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, running down the same fuel that’s needed to focus on a task.

So, do one thing at a time. But what thing first? That is the question.

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Sometimes I love to hate not going with the flow

Wednesday, 29 June, 2016

What is it you loathe, or have no time for, that other people can’t stop raving about?

Somewhere around the 500th headline I read in praise of Hamilton, the universally acclaimed Broadway musical due in Europe next year, I was struck by a deflating thought: I’ll probably never see it. Not just because it’s virtually impossible to get a ticket, but because so many people – people whose tastes I trust – have raved about it that I now regard the prospect with annoyance.

I’m yet to see an episode of Game of Thrones, even though I stumble across at least one news article on the series each day. It makes me wonder, what can put some people off something, that just about everyone else likes though?

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