Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Jordan Peterson on Leo Tolstoy's Four Ways to deal with Nihilism and Depression

The towering Leo Tolstoy himself began to question the value of human existence. He reasoned in this way: "My position was terrible. I knew that I could find nothing in the way of rational knowledge except a denial of life; and in faith I could find nothing except a denial of reason, and this was even more impossible than a denial of life. According to rational knowledge, it followed that life is evil, and people know it. They do not have to live, yet they have lived and they do live, just as I myself had lived, even though I had known for a long time that life is meaningless and evil." Try as he might, Tolstoy could identify only four means of escaping from such thoughts. One was retreating into childlike ignorance of the problem. Another was pursuing mindless pleasure. The third was "continuing to drag out a life that is evil and meaningless, knowing beforehand that nothing can come of it." He identified that particular form of escape with weakness: "The people in this category know that death is better than life, but they do not have the strength to act ratio­nally and quickly put an end to the delusion by killing themselves. . . ." Only the fourth and final mode of escape involved "strength and energy. It consists of destroying life, once one has realized that life is evil and meaningless." Tolstoy relentlessly followed his thoughts: "Only unusually strong and logically consistent people act in this manner. Having realized all the stupidity of the joke that is being played on us and seeing that the blessings of the dead are greater than those of the living and that it is better not to exist, they act and put an end to this stupid joke; and they use any means of doing it: a rope around the neck, water, a knife in the heart, a train."

-- An excerpt from 12 Rules of Life - An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
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Thursday, 23 November 2017

16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School

 Sometimes I wish that I had known some of things I have learned over the last few years a bit earlier. That perhaps there had been a self-improvement class in school. And in some ways there probably was.

Because some of these 16 things in this article a teacher probably spoke about in class. But I forgot about them or didn’t pay attention.

Some of it would probably not have stuck in my mind anyway. Or just been too far outside my reality at the time for me to accept and use.

But I still think that taking a few hours from all those German language classes and use them for some personal development classes would have been a good idea. Perhaps for just an hour a week in high school. It would probably be useful for many students and on a larger scale quite helpful for society in general.

So here are 16 things I wish they had taught me in school (or I just would like to have known about earlier).

1. The 80/20 rule.

This is one of the best ways to make better use of your time. The 80/20 rule – also known as The Pareto Principle – basically says that 80 percent of the value you will receive will come from 20 percent of your activities.

So a lot of what you do is probably not as useful or even necessary to do as you may think.

You can just drop – or vastly decrease the time you spend on – a whole bunch of things.

And if you do that you will have more time and energy to spend on those things that really brings your value, happiness, fulfilment and so on.

2. Parkinson’s Law.

You can do things quicker than you think. This law says that a task will expand in time and seeming complexity depending on the time you set aside for it. For instance, if you say to yourself that you’ll come up with a solution within a week then the problem will seem to grow more difficult and you’ll spend more and more time trying to come up with a solution.

So focus your time on finding solutions. Then just give yourself an hour (instead of the whole day) or the day (instead of the whole week) to solve the problem. This will force your mind to focus on solutions and action.

The result may not be exactly as perfect as if you had spent a week on the task, but as mentioned in the previous point, 80 percent of the value will come from 20 percent of the activities anyway. Or you may wind up with a better result because you haven’t overcomplicated or overpolished things. This will help you to get things done faster, to improve your ability to focus and give you more free time where you can totally focus on what’s in front of you instead of having some looming task creating stress in the back of your mind.

3. Batching.

Boring or routine tasks can create a lot of procrastination and low-level anxiety. One good way to get these things done quickly is to batch them. This means that you do them all in row. You will be able to do them quicker because there is less start-up time compared to if you spread them out. And when you are batching you become fully engaged in the tasks and more focused.

A batch of things to do in an hour today may look like this: Clean your desk / answer today’s emails / do the dishes / make three calls / write a grocery shopping list for tomorrow.

4. First, give value. Then, get value. Not the other way around.

This is a bit of a counter-intuitive thing. There is often an idea that someone should give us something or do something for us before we give back. The problem is just that a lot of people think that way. And so far less than possible is given either way.

If you want to increase the value you receive (money, love, kindness, opportunities etc.) you have to increase the value you give. Because over time you pretty much get what you give. It would perhaps be nice to get something for nothing. But that seldom happens.

5. Be proactive. Not reactive.

This one ties into the last point. If everyone is reactive then very little will get done. You could sit and wait and hope for someone else to do something. And that happens pretty often, but it can take a lot of time before it happens.

A more useful and beneficial way is to be proactive, to simply be the one to take the first practical action and get the ball rolling. This not only saves you a lot of waiting, but is also more pleasurable since you feel like you have the power over your life. Instead of feeling like you are run by a bunch of random outside forces.

6. Mistakes and failures are good.

When you are young you just try things and fail until you learn. As you grow a bit older, you learn from – for example – school to not make mistakes. And you try less and less things.

This may cause you to stop being proactive and to fall into a habit of being reactive, of waiting for someone else to do something. I mean, what if you actually tried something and failed? Perhaps people would laugh at you?

Perhaps they would. But when you experience that you soon realize that it is seldom the end of the world. And a lot of the time people don’t care that much. They have their own challenges and lives to worry about.

And success in life often comes from not giving up despite mistakes and failure. It comes from being persistent.

When you first learn to ride your bike you may fall over and over. Bruise a knee and cry a bit. But you get up, brush yourself off and get on the saddle again. And eventually you learn how to ride a bike. If you can just reconnect to your 5 year old self and do things that way – instead of giving up after a try/failure or two as grown-ups often do -you would probably experience a lot more interesting things, learn valuable lessons and have quite a bit more success.

7. Don’t beat yourself up.

Why do people give up after just few mistakes or failures? Well, I think one big reason is because they beat themselves up way too much. But it’s a kinda pointless habit. It only creates additional and unnecessary pain inside you and wastes your precious time. It’s best to try to drop this habit as much as you can.

8. Assume rapport.

Meeting new people is fun. But it can also induce nervousness. We all want to make a good first impression and not get stuck in an awkward conversation.

The best way to do this that I have found so far is to assume rapport. This means that you simply pretend that you are meeting one of your best friends. Then you start the interaction in that frame of mind instead of the nervous one.

This works surprisingly well. You can read more about it in How to Have Less Awkward Conversations: Assuming Rapport.

9. Use your reticular activation system to your advantage.

I learned about the organs and the inner workings of the body in class but nobody told me about the reticular activation system. And that’s a shame, because this is one of the most powerful things you can learn about. What this focus system, this R.A.S, in your mind does is to allow you to see in your surroundings what you focus your thoughts on. It pretty much always helps you to find what you are looking for.

So you really need to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. And keep that focus steady.

Setting goals and reviewing them frequently is one way to keep your focus on what’s important and to help you take action that will move your closer to toward where you want to go. Another way is just to use external reminders such as pieces of paper where you can, for instance, write down a few things from this post like “Give value” or “Assume rapport”. And then you can put those pieces of paper on your fridge, bathroom mirror etc.

10. Your attitude changes your reality.

We have all heard that you should keep a positive attitude or perhaps that “you need to change your attitude!”. That is a nice piece of advice I suppose, but without any more reasons to do it is very easy to just brush such suggestions off and continue using your old attitude.

But the thing that I’ve discovered the last few years is that if you change your attitude, you actually change your reality. When you for instance use a positive attitude instead of a negative one you start to see things and viewpoints that were invisible to you before. You may think to yourself “why haven’t I thought about things this way before?”.

When you change your attitude you change what you focus on. And all things in your world can now be seen in a different light.

This is of course very similar to the previous tip but I wanted to give this one some space. Because changing your attitude can create an insane change in your world. It might not look like it if you just think about it though. Pessimism might seem like realism. But that is mostly because your R.A.S is tuned into seeing all the negative things you want to see. And that makes you “right” a lot of the time. And perhaps that is what you want. On the other hand, there are more fun things than being right all the time.

If you try changing your attitude for real – instead of analyzing such a concept in your mind – you’ll be surprised.

You may want to read more about this topic in Take the Positivity Challenge!

11. Gratitude is a simple way to make yourself feel happy.

Sure, I was probably told that I should be grateful. Perhaps because it was the right thing to do or just something I should do. But if someone had said that feeling grateful about things for minute or two is a great way to turn a negative mood into a happy one I would probably have practised gratitude more. It is also a good tool for keeping your attitude up and focusing on the right things. And to make other people happy. Which tends to make you even happier, since emotions are contagious.

12. Don’t compare yourself to others.

The ego wants to compare. It wants to find reasons for you to feel good about yourself (“I’ve got a new bike!”). But by doing that it also becomes very hard to not compare yourself to others who have more than you (“Oh no, Bill has bought an even nicer bike!”). And so you don’t feel so good about yourself once again. If you compare yourself to others you let the world around control how you feel about yourself. It always becomes a rollercoaster of emotions.

A more useful way is to compare yourself to yourself. To look at how far you have come, what you have accomplished and how you have grown. It may not sound like that much fun but in the long run it brings a lot more inner stillness, personal power and positive feelings.

13. 80-90% of what you fear will happen never really come into reality.

This is a big one. Most things you fear will happen never happen. They are just monsters in your own mind. And if they happen then they will most often not be as painful or bad as you expected. Worrying is most often just a waste of time.

This is of course easy to say. But if you remind yourself of how little of what you feared throughout your life that has actually happened you can start to release more and more of that worry from your thoughts.

14. Don’t take things too seriously.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in things. But most of the things you worry about never come into reality. And what may seem like a big problem right now you may not even remember in three years.

Taking yourself, your thoughts and your emotions too seriously often just seems to lead to more unnecessary suffering. So relax a little more and lighten up a bit. It can do wonders for your mood and as an extension of that; your life.

15. Write everything down.

If your memory is anything like mine then it’s like a leaking bucket. Many of your good or great ideas may be lost forever if you don’t make a habit of writing things down. This is also a good way to keep your focus on what you want. Read more about it in Why You Should Write Things Down.

16. There are opportunities in just about every experience.

In pretty much any experience there are always things that you can learn from it and things within the experience that can help you to grow. Negative experiences, mistakes and failure can sometimes be even better than a success because it teaches you something totally new, something that another success could never teach you.

Whenever you have a negative experience ask yourself: where is the opportunity in this? What is good about this situation? One negative experience can – with time – help you create many very positive experiences.

What do you wish someone had told you in school or you had just learned earlier in life?
Source The Positive Blog

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Top 15 Websites to Find Unusual and Interesting Gifts and Purchases

It so happens that finding the right gift for your friends and family becomes a daunting task, we dont know what to get them.We want to surprise them and give them something special.

Here are a few websites which will surely help you finding the right gift:

1. – Your source for cool, fun, useful (and sometimes useless) stuff you can find and buy on the web.

2. – The coolest and geekest products around.

3. – Enter the amount you need to see a list of products that qualify for free shipping from Amazon.

4. – The best stuff on Amazon for under $20.

5. – Curated gifts for every kind of person.

6. – Gifts outside the box for every one of your family members.

7. – Find the coolest, most unique gifts for every occasion.

8. – All the gadgets and handcrafted goods that men want.

9. – A daily update on ideas and products in the intersection of art, design, culture and technology.

10. – A spirit for adventure and a passion for gear.

11. – The leading buyer’s guide for men.

12. – The marketplace for successfully crowdfunded projects.

13. – Find the top ranked items on Amazon.

14. – Find the perfect holiday gift for everyone you love.

15. – Quickly find the best of everything.

16. – Beautifully designed Amazon goods.

17. – A place to alert you of things that were cool twenty years ago that might be cool again.

18. – Search for five star ranked items on Amazon.

19. – Items you only have to buy once because they last a lifetime.

20. – A different way to browse Amazon.

21. – Quality products made to last.

22. – The best gadgets and gear for people who quickly want to know what to get.

23. – Find gifts in your price range.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Social Cognition

Have you heard anyone calling another person an introvert, ambivert or an extrovert? If you have, then there is a chance that maybe you know what these words and then may have wondered in which do you fit. But, if you don't then don't worry amigo, there's always a writer or blogger most probably suffering from writer's block who will help you out. This time it's me, your kinda sarcastic writer, Dexter.

Extroverts are those people who primarily obtain happiness from other people, other than obviously themselves. They tend to enjoy human interactions and are enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and confident. Introverts are those people who are predominantly interested in one's own mental self. They take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. Now, ambiverts are mutually exclusive to the above defined concepts. They have a tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited. Now, since I think I have explained to you about these things, there is one thing that you need to know, and that is, this classification is not a label, it's a spectrum.

To tell you how these terms came into existence, you have to know about a very important term, which is called (drumroll please) Social Cognition. This term defines and explains how people process, store, and apply information about other people and social situations. It focuses on the role of the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses that are in play in social interactions.

The first factor when we talk about Social Cognition or any type of cognition, is attention (Yeah, that song by Charlie Puth). Life has many things happening at the same time, however, we are capable of centering our attention to the stimuli that interest us. Fortunately, we manage to automate certain processes that we have to repeat several times a day, making it easier to focus on other tasks. Attention isn’t about your 15 minutes of fame, it’s about a guided journey that starts with getting noticed, but blossoms into a remarkable ride from there. The degree to which other people divert your attention may depend on your social class, according to new findings. The people who categorize themselves as being in a relatively high social class spend less time looking at passersby compared with those who aren't as well off, a difference that seems to stem from spontaneous processes related to perception and attention. 

Another factor is perception. To know the minds of others, we must attend to and perceive the available cues, whether in their verbal or nonverbal behavior, that contain information about their inner qualities. The field of social cognition emerged from the study of this process of person perception, which focused on the perceiver’s ability to discern others’ states e.g. emotions and traits. Researchers in this tradition have generally assumed that cognitive representations of actors (and of the contexts in which they behave) mediate behavioral responses to the social world. These representations confer meaning onto the sensory input that is received, and in so doing, they potentiate corresponding responses. In short, thinking is for doing. When conceptualized in this way, perception is essentially the interface between the outer and inner worlds.

To survive and thrive in a group, the ability to understand other humans is key. Fewer skills would afford greater advantages than the ability to understand the minds of other group members to understand their intentions e.g., to cooperate or compete, to learn what they know e.g., where threats and opportunities lie, and to manipulate what they believe. Possession of such cognitive skills would greatly benefit the people who inherited these skills and would enjoy similar advantages.

As always, here's a video if you like it in the audio-visual style

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Video:Mesut Ozil shines as Arsenal colors North London red

The matchday 12 ended with a big morale boosting victory for Arsenal at their own home, Emirates as Mesut Ozil stole the show and silenced his haters. Mauricio Pochettino's celebration for his 100th victory as Spurs boss was denied. This was his first loss in a Premier League north London derby as the shift of power has slowly swung away from Arsene Wenger's side. The goalscorers were Shkodran Mustafi, Alexis Sanchez.

The first goal started with a long ball, which was brought under control brilliantly by Alexis Sanchez. His namesake Sanchez dispossesed him with the help of a very good tackle, but referee Mike Dean ruled that foul by the young Tottenham defender in the favour of Arsenal. The ball from the resulting freekick was floated into the penalty area by Mesut Ozil, where the unmarked Mustafi leapt highest  at the far post and steered a fine header across the face of goal and inside the upright.

The bulid up for the second goal was started by Lacazette who got in behind down the right and played the low ball into the Tottenham penalty area, where Sanchez was waiting in acres of space. He made a mess of his first touch, but Lloris remained anchored to his line and allowed the Chilean to recover and rifle the ball between goalkeeper and near post from a ridiculously tight angle. The score was 2-0 in favour of Arsenal and they were in cruise control of the game which everyone expected them to lose.

Arsenal richly deserved that lead needed at the break and had been clearly superior. Spurs will moan about the award of the freekick that led to goal one, and will argue that both goals were very, very close to being offside. But ultimately, Arsenal's big players Sanchez and Ozil turned up, and Tottenham's Eriksen, Alli, a not fully fit Kane had been short of their best.

Tottenham's best chance came in the 56th minute which could have been the referee's  moment who had the option to point to the spot after Kane went down dramatically following Kolasinac's challenge inside the box, but decided to wave the appeal away. Ramsey misjudged a ball played into his path, slipped, and allowed Eriksen to regain possession on the edge of the area. Eventually feeding Kane, the Tottenham striker had sight of goal, but the shot was expertly blocked by Mustafi.

It could have been 3-0 but Lloris saved Tottenham as Ozil danced down the left , and crossed. Sanchez's first touch was poor, but he got it under control and hammered a shot at the near post. Lloris did better here, as he went off the line, narrowed the space and blocked the shot.

All in all it was a good game for Ozil who inspired Arsenal to a much needed win but he should work this hard in every match, not just big ones against Spurs. He had been very impressive today, looked great creatively, while putting in his fair share of the grunt work when it came to tracking back and put various Spurs players under pressure.

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