Don’t worry, you might be happier worrying (a little bit anyway)

Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Everything in moderation, as they say. Including worrying about, things, stuff. I imagine a little worrying might bring previously unforeseen ideas and possibilities to mind. Then there are the potential health benefits from being concerned about your overall well being.

Well, maybe because – sometimes, in small doses – worrying can actually be good for you. In one study, for example, worrying was linked to recovery from trauma and depression, as well as increased “uptake of health-promoting behaviors,” like getting regular cancer screenings or resolving to kick a smoking habit. Others have found that worriers tend to be more successful problem-solvers, higher performers at work and in graduate school, and more proactive and informed when it comes to handling stressful events that life throws their way.

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Joi Murugavell, Sydney based artist and illustrator

Thursday, 20 April, 2017

Artwork by Joi Murugavell

Ever feel compelled to answer a question, because, well, you think you might be running out of time to supple an answer, or say something?

That’s called a tight answer deadline, and the practice has Sydney based artist and illustrator Joi Murugavell wondering if it’s a good idea, considering we’re likely being economical with the truth, in such situations.

That just might be one deadline we need to start missing more often.

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Talent is luck, the important thing in life is courage. Oh, and luck also…

Thursday, 20 April, 2017

This ties in with what I call my pub (or bar) band theory. I’ve seen plenty of great bands performing in a bar. They play well, and their music is fantastic.

Yet somehow they don’t make it big. I know the definition of success varies, but some bands are destined to remain to pub bands, whether they want to, or not.

So what do the groups who make it big, those who score recording deals, and play to packed stadiums across the world, do right?

Two things possibly. They may have connections. Friends in the right place. And they are also, quite likely, lucky. Someone who can make things happens, hears their music, and likes it.

For the most part, creative success has little to do with talent or hard work. Lots of people are talented and hard-working. Talented and hard-working people are nothing special, for better or worse. To be successful, you need more than just talent and hard work. You need luck. Or, even better than luck, you need connections.

Not something that happens to everyone. In the meantime, if you’re short of connections, and luck, keep on keeping on.

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There are ten types of friends, some close, some not so close

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

Just about everything you could possibly want, or need, to know about friends, and friendships. For instance, your acquaintances are spread across four tiers, from closest friends, to strangers, and within that cluster, there are ten types of friends.

Tier 3 friends – your Not Really friends. You might grab a one-on-one drink with one of them when you move to their city, but then it surprises neither of you when five years pass and drink #2 is still yet to happen. Your relationship tends to exist mostly as part of a bigger group or through the occasional Facebook like, and it doesn’t even really stress you out when you hear that one of them made $5 million last year. You may also try to sleep with one of these people at any given time.

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Standing on both sides of the escalator, the revolution is coming?

Monday, 10 April, 2017

The convention of standing on one side of an escalator, and walking, or running, as the case may be, up the other, may be coming to an end. Experts in the movements of people going up escalators found there was less congestion overall, if people stood on both sides.

Consultants at Capgemini Consulting in London explored the efficiency question by timing themselves over several days walking and standing on an escalator at the Green Park station and then using that data in computer models. They found that walking up the escalator took 26 seconds compared with standing, which took 40 seconds. However, “the time in system” – or how long it took to stand in line to reach an escalator then ride it – dropped sharply when everyone stood, according to a blog post by the researchers.

Anyone travelling during the commuter peaks will be familiar with this, a scrum of people, who wish to stand on one side, waiting for everyone to file onto the escalator, while the other side is usually quite empty, save for those running late, making a dash for it.

I saw the practice of having commuters stand on both sides of the escalator being trialled at Holborn, a tube station in London, in the documentary series The Tube: Going Underground. Needless to say, breaking the habits of a lifetime was not easy.

Hapless staff at Holborn even resorted to asking people to be “part of the revolution” in an attempt to have them change their behaviour. Conducting the trial at one station would have been confusing though, as walkers forced to stand would revert to walking at another station.

While possible, effecting such a change across an entire network would be an enormous undertaking. Those who like walking, or running, up one side of the escalator, myself included, whether I’m in in a hurry or not, won’t have to worry for now.

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How complacent are you? Possibly more than you believe

Tuesday, 21 March, 2017

US economist and writer Tyler Cowen contends Americans are becoming ever more settled, and impervious to change. Are you one of them? Or, if you reside outside the US, are you likewise becoming complacent? Take the quiz, and find out.

To score any better than comfortable, which is one step better than a complacent rating, you need, I think, to follow the example of Jordan Peterson:

He’s been a dishwasher, gas jockey, bartender, short-order cook, beekeeper, oil derrick bit re-tipper, plywood mill labourer and railway line worker. He’s taught mythology to lawyers, doctors and businessmen, consulted for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainable Development, helped his clinical clients manage depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia, served as an advisor to senior partners of major Canadian law firms, identified thousands of promising entrepreneurs on six different continents, and lectured extensively in North America and Europe.

In case you end up with the worst possible rating, complacent, Cowen offers a number of suggestions for helping to break out of the mould at the conclusion of the quiz.

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YouTube stardom, it’s not the way you look, it’s the way you talk

Wednesday, 8 March, 2017

If you want to succeed as a YouTube influencer, listen to the way those with large followings speak. In fact, you may have already noticed some similarities in their style. Long story short, it’s all about delivering your message with an “intellectual used-car-salesman voice”, says Julie Beck, writing for The Atlantic.

So it turns out the “YouTube voice” is just a variety of ways of emphasizing words, none of which are actually exclusive to YouTube – people employ these devices in speech all the time. But they generally do it to grab the listener’s attention, and when you’re just talking to a camera without much action, it takes a little more to get, and keep, that attention.

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Simón Prades, Saarbrücken based editorial illustrator

Friday, 17 February, 2017

Illustration by Simon Prades

Simón Prades lives in the German city of Saarbrücken, where he works as an editorial illustrator. Judging by some of his more recent works, he seems interested in what is happening inside people’s heads. This illustration, for instance, was for an article about the minds of evil people.

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It’s crazy but we’re all frightened by the sound of the telephone

Friday, 17 February, 2017

I’m one to avoid telephones if I can, though that can’t be a surprise, but it appears, as with Robert Palmer, I’m not alone. More people, it seems, are shying away from making or taking phone calls, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them though.

Hating the phone doesn’t necessarily mean you have social anxiety – the two often go hand in hand, but some people who are otherwise perfectly fine with social interactions have a deep-seated fear of making or receiving a call. And besides, you’re in good company. There’s not a lot of hard data out there about how many people hate the phone, but research suggests that more are shying away from it.

As a method of communication, it is one of the more invasive. The phone rings, interrupting whatever you’re in the middle of, and you feel an obligation to stop what you’re doing, and take the call. Letters, email, messaging, and texting, all allow you the option to respond later.

But not the phone, or not, at least, back in the day. Today we have the luxury of being able to reject calls, or route them though to voicemail, for people still using voicemail, that is. When it comes to trying to contact someone though, they’re not much more effective.

The person you’re attempting to call is either driving, in a meeting, out of range, or simply isn’t answering. So you reach their voicemail, if they have one. Aside then from emergencies, and situations where you can arrange a time to call someone else, they’re good for nothing.

Short wonder telephones give rise to anxiety.

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Is winning a big prize in the lottery a ticket to happiness?

Monday, 13 February, 2017

This was a point touched on by the protagonists in Richard Linklater’s 2004 film, Before Sunset. Ethan Hawke’s character, Jesse, is discussing with Celine, portrayed by Julie Delpy, the findings of a study that had followed people who had either won the lottery, or become paraplegics.

Two different situations that are very definitely good or bad. In short, after about six months, once used to their new circumstances, study participants felt the same as they had originally. If someone was of a positive disposition, they remained upbeat, even if confined to a wheelchair.

Here, Nashville based art director and animator, Allen Laseter, looks at the question in regards to lottery winners, in this TED-Ed video clip. While individual character is part of the equation, it seems people who spent their winnings on others, rather than themselves, were happier.

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