Categories
Productivity & Work Psychology

The hidden power of music

gif via Astralwerks

Music doesn’t need thought. It is innately powerful in its ability to galvanize emotions.

As Oliver Sacks penned in his book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, “Music is part of being human.” Music is a form of therapy.

Familiar sounds can trigger memory in Alzheimer’s patients to help them feel like their former selves.

“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain…Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.”

Oliver Sacks

Music is also capable of suspending fear, pain, and doubt. Your workout playlist can push you the extra mile. Ambient noise can boost your concentration and thus productivity levels.

In short, music can free your mind so you can do anything from dancing with fear to get stuff done.

“Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation,” wrote Sacks. Like laughter, it is intuited — it needs no further explanation.

There’s something instinctive about music that tugs directly at the heart. It needs little if no processing. As the plants tilt toward the sun, so to do the ears.

“Language is used every day, and easily becomes shopworn, and it takes a poet to recall it to its freshness, its ability to embody eudaimonistic insights in a meaningful way. Music is not as shopworn, and thus may cut straight to the heart.”

Martha Nussbaum
Categories
Arts Productivity & Work Psychology Writing

There is a time for everything

giphy (48)
gif by John Corsi

The time you spend away from your task still qualifies as work. That includes doing the dishes, running errands, and taking care of the kids—whatever responsibilities you think to impede your central occupation contribute to its success.

British novelist Jon McGregor gives a good example of how he manages his writing despite making time for everything from Tweeting to taking care of his children.

“I rarely manage a whole unbroken day at the desk. And it can be frustrating, sometimes. Once or twice a year I manage to get away somewhere and live like a hermit for a week, eating and sleeping next to a desk and talking to no one and getting a lot of work done. Imagine if I could work like that all the time, I think, then. Think how productive I’d be! But if my life was always like that, I suspect I’d have very little to write about.”

Locking yourself away in isolation is a forlorn attempt to escape all that matters. Patterns can backfire, especially when it comes to creativity which thrives on observation and sudden randomness.

There is a time for everything

While productivity can be messy, time away from work is not squandered time. Instead, it is spent accumulating experiences and visualizing how the ideas you’re chewing on will all come to focus when you sit down in and commit to the day ahead.

The discipline of work is just as necessary as the chaotic daily tasks of life. In fact, the best things in life often disrupt it, forcing you to rethink priorities and see how it all connects.

Contrary to popular opinion, busyness is not a badge of honor. Life seeds all the ideas.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

Wants and needs

via reddit

We always want things we don’t have and disregard those same things when we do have them. This is the paradox of desire, which also manifests itself with items we think we need. 

We don’t need anything other than food, water, and some proper rest. Yet we often take these physiological needs for granted. If there were ever a food storage, god forbid we should hoard all the bread and water! Needs are a means of survival. 

Everything else (art, technology, cars, love) are symptoms of social belonging. What makes them feel necessary are mimetic desires and the will to communicate, also essential to survival. If one doesn’t have a smartphone with email, do they even exist? 

The non-essential becomes pervasive through social utility. Being jealous of what other people do or have compels us to conform. Feeling needed, heard, and important is vital to mankind. 

No one is neutral. Most of our choices arise from the productive promise of hope — that is, only after we get something to eat and drink. And maybe a little bit of Wifi too.

Categories
Productivity & Work Psychology

A single holistic view

gif by Mattis Dovier

There’s a private voice and a public voice, things we say internally and keep caged out loud.

The former helps instill the external self, the latter influences our inner narrative.

Somewhere between the middle of our diary and how we act among people represents who we really are.

But there’s a third self that exists on the web.

We live an edited real life in the social media age through our avatars. Yet a curated identity can be an addictive substance, especially when the behavior is oblivious to our staring.

Life, like the weather, is something we can only try to control. At some point we’re forced to ride the wave chance has given us. Adaptability is key, per say.

We should develop our own time recorder, know it and understand it. Because the loveliest people are already at peace with themselves.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

A sober risk to deny reality

When it's all said and done, we will have at least gained the satisfaction of trying. Because we already have everything we need to get going.  #gif #amwriting #coffee
gif by @ethanbarnowsky

Alcohol and coffee are a study in consciousness — they both trigger experiences beyond the normal architecture of aliveness. 

Neither beverage medicates problems away. Rather, they open the door to other choices and chapters in life that we may not have otherwise made. That second beer gives us the courage to ask that girl to dance or that double espresso powers us through a tough or dull assignment. Conversely, both actions could also result in equally damaging results.

Stimulants and depressants aside, we’re better off starting before we’re ready because the tyranny of hesitation thwarts all possibilities. It takes courage to go out of our comfort zone and bomb.

Once stripped of the ideal results, we let go of perfection and embrace the positive psychology behind tiny actions, despite any failure. We quickly realize that reality is too sober and feel compelled to act.

“There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life,” writes Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote.

When it’s all said and done, we will have at least gained the satisfaction of trying. Because we already have everything we need to get going.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Travel

How Japan uses blue LED light panels on station platforms to prevent suicides

Tokyo runs 13 billion passenger trips each year, making its train stations some of the busiest in the world.

Using sound design and various other psychological nudges, rail stations are able to bring some order to the chaos. One of the most effective tactics has been its use of blue LED mood lighting to prevent suicide attempts.

Photo by Allan Richarz/City Lab

Writes Tokyo resident Allan Richarz for Citylab:

According to a study by researchers at the University of Tokyo published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2013, data analyzed over a 10-year period shows an 84 percent decline in the number of suicide attempts at stations where blue lights are installed.

Operating on the theory that exposure to blue light has a calming effect on one’s mood, rail stations in Japan began installing these LED panels as a suicide-prevention measure in 2009. They are strategically located at the ends of each platform—typically the most-isolated and least-trafficked area, and accordingly, the point from which most platform jumps occur. Some stations, such as Shin-Koiwa Station in Tokyo, bolster their LED regime with colored roof panels, allowing blue-tinted sunlight to filter down on to platforms.

Whether it comes to the iPhone or infrastructure, Richarz’s piece is yet another reminder of how everyday design can impact our lives.