Great expectations

via giphy

When was the last time the ATM machine gave you incorrect change?

When was the last time a student schooled the teacher?

When was the last time you saw someone using a dumb phone?

For the most part, outliers are rare. The world’s largest samples fall into a center bell curve.

We believe in the consistencies that we see. But it all takes is one weird thing or strange occurrence to change our mind.

It appears that everyone uses Facebook and drinks Coke, until the normal distribution encounters a hiccup.

Advertisements

Pennebaker’s Writing Rules

From journalling to brainstorming to blogging, there’s nothing more magical than getting all notes, ideas, and emotional experiences down on paper. 

In the case of Pennebraker’s Writing Rules, it instructs us to write about our recent or past emotional experiences for twenty minutes a day, for three days straight. 


The practice intends to release us from the prison of negative thoughts. Instead of fighting bad memories, we come to accept them. 

Writing out our anxieties is a tool to cope with their pervasiveness. It opens up the pathway to better accept ourselves.

The image above appears in Susan David’s Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

Nostalgia: what it meant before, after and now

roman-kraft-60298

Nostalgia didn’t always have a positive tone. In fact, before the 20th century, the word was used in the pejorative sense.

Nostalgia in those days was a technical term used and discussed primarily by specialists. In the twentieth century, however, the word has become fully demedic­alized. It now means little more than a sentimental attachment to a lost or past era, a fuzzy feeling about a soft-focus earlier time, and is more often used of an advertising campaign, a film or a memory of childhood than with regard to any strong sense of its etymology, “pain about homecoming”.

Today, people use the word nostalgia to look back on happier times, perhaps a slower one.

Nostalgia seems now to mark out a particular type of attention. If you call something “nostalgic”, you are suggesting that it evokes a memory of a former pleasure, a bitter-sweet recognition of the passing of time, or a sense of a lost era. To be nostalgic oneself is to experience those (possibly quietly melancholic) pleasures. It would be odd, indeed insulting, to describe the return of a concentration camp victim to Auschwitz as nostalgic.

Fantasizing about a simpler, pre-Internet world is a nostalgic reaction to rapid digital change. We’re all stuck in the whirlwind of 24/7 breaking news on social media that makes everything feel so immediate we can’t prioritize the important. 

We can’t even appreciate the moment. The present is quickly consumed and forgotten. The next iteration of nostalgia may become synonymous with experience, a world that was devoid of distorted facts and where events meant something.

Watching watchers

tumblr_inline_opjh57m7691qcq9hm_540.jpg

Even when we’re not watching each other, we’re still paying attention. It’s called ambient awareness, and it happens in real life and on social media.

When two strangers sit together, they immediately make snap observations, not necessarily about the coffee stain on the other person’s shirt or one’s unkempt hair but on each other’s general appearance.

“Although people surreptitiously noticed all kinds of details about each other — clothing, personality, mood — we found that people were convinced that the other person wasn’t watching them much, if at all.”

We are loosely spying on each other because the brain is in constant judgment mode. Even when you think you’re not noticing, you’re noticing. We are all unintended watchers.

Read You’re Too Focused on What You’re Focused On

A museum of self


The Metropolitan Museum only showcases ten percent of its owned pieces at any given time. The rest of the art is stored somewhere else waiting to be picked and featured.

“A physical museum is itself a sort of data set — an aggregation of the micro in order to glimpse the macro.”

We all have a surfeit inventory of things we’d like to show: our talents, our Instagram and SnapChat selfies, our love for others. But they can’t all be on display at once.

Like a museum, we have to curate our display while also growing our collection. The timing, packaging, and place for revealing of our greatest attributes and emotions are stories of their own.

Like museum art pieces, personalities also require curation. It’s impossible to show all your cards at once; pick a few from the archive and make the storytelling as compelling as possible.

Are You Lost In The World Like Me?

giphy (13).gif
gif via Steve Cutts

We reach for the phone to find ourselves. We’d rather outsource our frustration and boredom to a widget than deal with our anxieties directly.

The mobile phone makes it easier to cope (read: ignore) the world going on around us. It’s easy: we just don’t pay attention; plus, we can crush dissent with our own filters. But echo chambers confirm prejudice.

There’s chaos in the cosmos, disorder in peace. If we can’t tolerate ambiguity, then we’ll succumb to the fickleness of weather patterns.

Perhaps the lost are found, the only ones looking up.

Don’t let social media use you

igor-ovsyannykov-248195

Attention is a gift that the social networks want to steal from you. Here’s a simple trick to ward off their magnetism and catch yourself: put the social apps on the fourth home screen.

That’s right: make it harder to access Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest with just a couple taps. The design hurdle allows the mind to pause before engaging into a sinkhole of distraction and emotional envy.

Take back control of your time and don’t let social media use you. Direct its intention by redirecting your attention. Let the story be about your presence.

Loop dreams 💤

cristian-newman-105293 (1)

Dreams are unconstrained remixes of reality. They manufacture light and float with fantasy, all lucid to the sleeper. Anxiety, happiness, emotions — it’s all tangible in a slumber.

We dream when we’re awake too — we just call it using the imagination. Yet, we restrain the material world to a predictable order. We crimp our creativity.

We make better movies when we dream to sleep. Being awake is a boring hallucination.

Read Dreaming Outside Our Heads

Newsletter: Emotional agility

romain-peli-266995.jpg

Web Gems

WHEN IT COMES TO OUR LIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA, ‘THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER STORY’

We usually post things that we wish were, not as they are. Social media presents the best of the best, an online Truman Show that excludes the beautiful struggle in between. At the very least, social media is pseudo-news that often omits context. “There’s always another story,” indeed.

Listen to Hidden Brain: Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

EMOTIONAL AGILITY: GET UNSTUCK 

Our inner dialogue is all over the place. The harder we try to tame the monkey mind, the crazier it gets. But instead of anxiety loop, we can “step back and ask: “Is this useful?”

“During the average day, most of us speak around sixteen thousand words. But our thoughts – our internal voices – produce thousands more.”

Recommended book: Susan David Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

  • Bonus Read: Dutch soccer player Meijer Stad survived Nazi execution with ten bullets in his body.  Read this fascinating story. ⚽ 
  • Video: Watch health psychologist Kelly Mcgonigal explain how to make stress your friend in her Ted Talk.

CHAPPELLE BREAKS DOWN THE MILLENNIAL CONDITION

Have we grown immune to catastrophe?

Perhaps Huxley was right: we’re so inundated with screens and breaking news that we forget to care. The long-term consequences for such insouciance mean that evil can seep through unperturbed.

EXPERTISE MATTERS

“Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge.”

We’re all created equal but we’re not all experts. Experts are the hedgehogs, the servants; they do one thing well. They’re indispensable like doctors. Yet, the internet came along and unleashed a free for all of know-it-alls.

Recommended book: Tom Nichols’s The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters:

GET HAPPY: FOUR WELL-BEING WORKOUTS

Happiness doesn’t come easily to everyone but thankfully there are some exercises. Bicep curl you brain with these mental exercises:

  1. Identify Strengths: “Write down a story about a time when you were at your best.”
  2. Find the good: “Set aside 10 minutes before you go to bed each night to write down three things that went really well that day.”
  3. Make a Gratitude Visit
  4. Reply Constructively

QUOTES I’M CHEWING ON

“The camera is just as capable of lying as the typewriter.” — Bertolt Brecht, War Primer (1955)

“If you suppress the spirit of spontaneity, you will destroy the true democratic spirit of revolution which has to be unpredictable.” — In Our Time Podcast on Rosa Luxemburg

“If I do something what I do not understand, I force myself to think about it in my dream, and thus find a solution.” — Tesla

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

“Some of us are turtles; we crawl and struggle along, and we haven’t maybe figured it out by the time we’re 30. But the turtles have to keep on walking.” — John Goodenough, To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old

“Don’t get caught doing more than you need to but less than you want to.” – Seth Godin


Digging In The Crates

Flako is Dario Rojo Guerra, a Berlin-based producer known for his helter-skelter beats. I first discovered him in 2010 with his jaw-dropping Pharcyde sample on the track ‘Love.’

Now releasing music under his rebranded name Natureboy, Flako has done some reworks most notably with Malian Wassoulou Oumou Sangaré’s track ‘Yere Faga.’

LISTEN

Kara-Lis Coverdale is “one of the most exciting young composers in North America,” proclaims The Guardian. It’s not hard to understand why.

Her new 22-minute track ‘Grafts’ is gorgeous, rolling in hypnotic piano layers and echoes, “never fully coming to a resolution,” as Boomkat describes it, “Lingering on like a slowly dispersing plume of smoke.”

LISTEN

After a long series of original mixtapes, Thrupence has crafted a debut album called Ideas of Aesthetics.  The nine-track album represents a collection of songs he’s produced over the last six years, including two collaborations with his brother Edward on vocals. “It has become a diary of places I’ve lived and people I’ve met over this time,” says the artist.

‘Forest On The Sun’ and ‘Rinse Repeat’ are my two favorite tracks on the album, mixing elements of soft piano and choppy electronic beats that’ll make you nod your head and smile 😉

LISTEN

[mc4wp_form id=”5991970666″]

The best of the best

IRL
Facebook makes you unhappier because it produces envy. We always want in our feeds what we don’t have in real life: a stable relationship, a high-paying job, a weekend vacation in the Caribbean, a beautiful house, a new car, the latest gadgets–the list goes on.

But social media is edited real life. We tend to over-post happiness and under-post negativity. Who’s going to share about their mental illness, a divorce, or a family death? That’s sad stuff, even if Facebook allows you to respond with a weepy face instead of a thumbs up.

We usually post things that we wish were, not as they are. Social media presents the best of the best, an online Truman Show that excludes the beautiful struggle in between. At the very least, social media is pseudo-news that often omits context.

“There’s always another story,” indeed.

Listen to Hidden Brain: Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

Building emotional agility

amanshu-raikwar-236820.jpg
Find the space in between.

“During the average day, most of us speak around sixteen thousand words. But our thoughts – our internal voices – produce thousands more.”

— Susan David, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

They say the quietest people have the loudest minds. But even extroverts have noisy heads.

Our inner dialogue is all over the place. The harder we try to tame the monkey mind, the crazier it gets. But instead of anxiety loop, we can “step back and ask: “Is this useful?”

How we react to our inner-narrative predetermines our well-being. We have to keep our emotions in check. Recounting his time in an extermination camp, Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

We may be naturally fragile. But we can strengthen our emotional agility to withstand our impulses. It’s not about forcing optimism, rather, it’s about dancing with the fear, and maintaining courage and curiosity despite self-doubt. As health psychologist Kelly McGonigal notes in her Ted Talk, the stress of caring can strengthen resilience.

amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”;
amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”;
amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “wells01-20”;
amzn_assoc_search_bar_position = “bottom”;
amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “search”;
amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”;
amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”;
amzn_assoc_region = “US”;
amzn_assoc_title = “Balance your emotions”;
amzn_assoc_default_search_phrase = “susan david”;
amzn_assoc_default_category = “All”;
amzn_assoc_linkid = “1ef01d17c3f4c31d0f00740f0508811c”;

//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Are we still alive?

alex-blajan-105349

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. We had hands that allowed us to manipulate our environment.

A bigger brain doesn’t make you smarter or more conscious. Neanderthals had larger brains than humans, so too do dolphins and whales. But the former died off, and the latter remain confined to 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 developing tools to think and for us, we’re outsourcing our neurons and developing a kind of robotic consciousness.

Humans are turning into broken machines.

Our jobs make us feel important and shape our identity. What are people going to do when they no longer have to work and have bundles of free time? Most of us will procrastinate and lounge while others will want to play like children with crayons again.