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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Are our personalities constant, or might they change over time?

Tuesday, 28 June, 2016

Does someone’s personality stay the same throughout their life, or does it change over time, on account of changing circumstances, and being exposed to different perspectives?

The beliefs, assumptions, expectations that you’ve gotten from your friends, family, culture – those things, Mischel explains, are the filter through which you see the world. Your mind stands between who you are, your personality and whatever situation you are in. It interprets the world around it, and how it feels about what it sees. And so when the stuff inside the mind changes, the person changes.

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Don’t procrastinate, figure out what troubles you instead

Monday, 27 June, 2016

I always welcome thoughts on the topic of procrastination, since it can be such a – you know – drag on productivity. Rather than being the result of a lack of impetus, or inspiration, procrastination is triggered by the worry, or anxiety, associated with doing something that is seen to be difficult.

Turns out, the real reason people procrastinate is in attempt to avoid the anxiety or worry aroused by a difficult task. Instead of doing the work, we engage in activities aimed at repairing our mood, like taking a nap or eating a snack or checking our inbox or calculating our social media likes.

The challenge then is to somehow see through the hardship of whatever needs doing, and act. That might sometimes be easier to say than do though.

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There’s no accounting for taste, especially our own

Friday, 24 June, 2016

Why do our tastes, or preferences, become our tastes and preferences, why do they change over time, and why do we think we had bad taste in the past, when, say, we look at old photos of ourselves, and cringe at the way we used to dress, or style our hair? The here and now is always the new black, it seems, while the past, was, I don’t know, some other colour.

It is reminiscent of the moment, looking through an old photo album, when you see an earlier picture of yourself and exclaim, “Oh my God, that hair!” Or “Those corduroys!” Just as pictures of ourselves can look jarring because we do not normally see ourselves as others see us, our previous tastes, viewed from “outside”, from the perspective of what looks good now, come as a surprise. Your hairstyle per se was probably not good or bad, simply a reflection of contemporary taste. We say, with condescension, “I can’t believe people actually dressed like that,” without realising we ourselves are currently wearing what will be considered bad taste in the future.

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All you need is talent, but what if you are talentless?

Wednesday, 22 June, 2016

So you’ve come to the frustrating conclusion that you have no talent, and I guess there must be one or two people in that category. What do you do? Josh Spilker, writing for Medium, says there are a few things you can try, if that is indeed the case.

Nothing seems to come easy when other people seem to fly by. You can’t quite do the things you want to do in the way you want to them. You try and nothing seems to work. You thought you wanted to do something one day, only to realize the next day that you didn’t.

I often think if I could manage my time more effectively, I might have a talent. Also, remember what Woody Allen said: Talent is luck. The important thing in life is courage.

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Will deliberate practice make you an expert at anything?

Monday, 20 June, 2016

You can become expert at anything, according to Florida based psychology professor Anders Ericsson, it’s all a matter of practicing some deliberate practice.

In general, according to Ericsson, deliberate practice involves stepping outside your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. While repeating a skill you’ve already mastered might be satisfying, it’s not enough to help you get better. Moreover, simply wanting to improve isn’t enough – people also need well-defined goals and the help of a teacher who makes a plan for achieving them.

It’s not a short cut by any means, and the notion is disputed by other psychologists, who think that more than practice alone is required to become expert at something.

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To take yourself seriously, you mustn’t take yourself too seriously

Friday, 10 June, 2016

Either you’re taking yourself too seriously, or you’re not all. Neither is desirable, so how to find the always elusive happy balance between the two?

I didn’t take myself seriously for a long time. I still struggle with taking myself seriously. I couldn’t even put a finger on what it was I was doing to myself until about a year ago. But finally I realized there’s this thing some people have – this ability to get excited about something they’re doing and go for it with some sort of crazy abandon. This ability to remain focused and stand firm and get on top of a mountain and shout out what they want for all to hear (so to speak).

Therein lies the rub. As I see it anyway. To take yourself seriously, you need to not entirely take yourself seriously. How else can you pursue something with crazy abandon otherwise?

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There are six ingredients in a dream job

Wednesday, 8 June, 2016

There are six ingredients that make up the would-be dream job, according to 80,000 Hours, an organisation that assists people to find work that they feel will make a difference. You might be surprised just how straightforward, in theory at least, the requirements are.

A job that meets your basic needs, like fair pay, short commute and reasonable hours.

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On eye contact with friendly strangers walking along the street

Monday, 6 June, 2016

What to do when you’re approaching someone – along a street, or a long hallway for instance – you know, but don’t really know? How do you conduct yourself until you’re close enough to exchange a greeting? It’s a tough one, but the staff at the New York Magazine are on the case.

It’s not technically a corridor, since it’s bordered on one side by cubicles rather than a wall, but it’s been dubbed the horrordor nonetheless. That’s because when you see someone at the other end of it whom you barely know – and when you’re at work, you’re constantly crossing paths with people you barely know – it’s quite awkward, at least if you’re an awkward person (which I am). For the next 15-20 seconds, you know you’ll be walking toward this person. Do you nod? Smile? Ignore? Some combination of the above? It’s weirdly, deeply unpleasant.

Wouldn’t most people make out they were glancing at Instagram or Snapchat, until the appropriate moment, as a latter day… solution?

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Whatever you do, don’t quit your job to pursue your passion

Wednesday, 1 June, 2016

Everyone’s doing it, and everyone’s killing it… quitting their nine-to-five job, following their dreams, and doing well from it. Or so it seems, because usually it’s only the success stories that we hear. Be careful what you listen to though, writes US graphic designer Janelle Quibuyen.

I don’t want to perpetuate this false narrative of quitting a job because I was brave enough to pursue my passion. I don’t want anyone who works a 9-to-5 to feel like a fool for staying at a stable job, or feel wrong if they actually enjoy it. I want people to know that nearly all the overnight entrepreneur success stories in the spotlight leave out the privilege afforded to them in the first place.

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