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Life & Philosophy Psychology Tech

Are we still alive?

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. And we grew hands and fingers that allowed us to manipulate our environment.

But a bigger brain didn’t make us smarter or more conscious than our other animal friends.

Neanderthals had larger brains than humans, as too do dolphins and whales to this day. Despite their cranial superiority, the former died off, homo sapiens thrived, while the fish are confined to the water.

Meanwhile, humans built intricate tools. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”

Given the advancements in technology and artificial intelligence, we may be too smart for our own good. By exploiting tools to think and to operate for us, we’re outsourcing our neurons and developing a kind of robotic consciousness.

Humans have turned into broken machines.

Our jobs make us feel important and shape our identity. What are people going to do when we no longer have to work and have bundles of free time instead?

Some of us may procrastinate and lounge while others will want to play like children with crayons again. We just might art ourselves back into life.

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Productivity & Work Psychology

Thinking less to do more

Rhythm builds thoughtlessness. Work can become more natural out of mechanical motion, a kind of doing without thinking.

Employees can’t make one hundred sandwiches in a couple hours without silencing the monkey mind. The process of unthinking begets a chorus of action.

Similarly, we can’t dribble a basketball nor soccer ball effectively while focusing on the mechanics of the perfect touch. The gears of cognition get in the way of flow. Continued practice helps numb the disease of crippling doubt.

Habits are bicep curls for the brain

Good habits strengthen human software, primarily if we aim to do something consistently.

Like brushing our teeth, it’s the repetitive locomotion that undermines inertia and compels one to keep connecting the chain.

We can get used to being productive if we choose to make practice non-negotiable. All such preparation helps plow the field.

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Psychology Science Video

What your thoughts look like

To be in your own thoughts — language, like headphones, delivers a sense of privacy.

Of course, no thinking is linear. Neurons are always crashing into each other, trying to connect and build new avenues of ideas. The whole of brain waves is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Neurons that fire together, wire together

But knowledge presents a key constraint in the gobbling of information — it requires a dishwasher of synthesis to make even more sense of the apparent world.

What’s most dizzying is experiencing nothing. Whatever your neurons are up to this very moment determines what you do next.

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Business Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology

Finding aim through purpose

Some people need that motivational voltage to get them going.

So they collect positive quotes on Pinterest, post inspirational tidbits on Facebook, and believe — albeit mistakenly — that the law of attraction will get them on the cover of Forbes.

The barest encouragement, even if forcibly imagined, provokes enough optimism to keep the wannabe achiever moving forward.

But an obsession with success may be the biggest handicap.

Humans crave meaning just as much as fame or a paycheck.

We create seeking systems that ensure what we chase fulfills our values.

Instead of going after what other people want, we prioritize a way of life that generates momentum toward the highest resolution.

Avoid following the flock of sheep. Don’t jump through hoops, go around them.

The only way to escape a labyrinth of conformity is not entering it in the first place.

If we can be outside and genuinely enjoy the road, stay outside.

gif by SoulPancake

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology

Enjoy the silence

Silence is the loudest sound — unprovoked, it can screech worse than nails on a chalkboard.

The pursuit of distraction is man’s attempt to escape the cacophony of a deaf monkey mind.

To break from mental prison, we conjure up an oasis of sound: Facebook or TV, dual-screens, infinitely scrolling through feeds and channels without remembering a thing.

The content Ferris wheel never ends. The circus rages on, burning into a dead-end of doldrums.

Perhaps the noiseless, originally our worst fear, is the pocket of sanity we needed all along.

gif by Carolina Costa

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology

Imagination is a mental scratch pad

Imagination is a mental scratch pad, a place to delve into the urges of the non-existent. It is only there can we see what’s more captivating than reality’s everydayness.

Imagination not only protects us from boredom, it also protects us from ourselves. It acts as a neuroprotective stimulus for brain expansion — we are only as good as what we can envision.

Imagination helps us slice through the bedrock of the present. It moves us behind the boundary of facts. It screams yes to life, even when there’s darkness.

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

What is the imagination good for? Absolutely everything.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Relishing the doubt

gif by @raphaellemartin

Enthusiastic in the front, skeptic in the back.

The dialectic of mind enframes the rational man. When we peel off the plastic of certainty, we uncover the beauty of chasing ambiguity.

When we see that the true bearers of consciousness are patterns of continuous variation rather than preprogrammed automata, we relish our idiosyncrasies.

Naïveté is on par with idealism.

What we demand instead is the thrill of belief, vacuuming up all the information around us without pre-consolidating our vision with the cockiness of mastery.

Every single person has their own blend of style, just like the unique acoustic signature of birds. Wonderfully different, in search of random incursions.

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

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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.