‘To be or not to be. That’s not really a question’

'To be or not to be. That’s not really a question'

“To be or not to be. That’s not really a question,” quipped film director Jean-Luc Godard back to Shakespeare's most famous line.

To be is rather a false start. We think that success breeds confidence, but it's actually the little lessons along the way that build up our future.

Struggle makes us human

Similarly, it is our impairments that deem to weaken us that actually but end up making us stronger. As we overcompensate for our flaws, we excel in creating our own unique survival methods that are almost impossible to replicate.

Humans thrive in their own slow march, detached from the cult of action and the tyranny of business and competition. True progress embraces the route of the tortoise, slow and perceptive, inching forward and sometimes backward, bit by bit.

Said Malcolm Gladwell: “A lot of what is beautiful and powerful in the world arises out of adversity. We benefit from those kind of things,” but “we wouldn’t wish them on each other.”

We are all underdogs in something, a compromise that gets us out of bed in the morning and back to work.

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Are you an egg person or an onion person?

A gif of eggs cracked in pain

Introverts are egg people. They’re not hiding anything (per say), they are mostly reserved. And once they start to get comfortable, they are as open and talkative as anybody else. “Don't think of introversion as something that needs to be cured,” writes Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are onion people. They contain so many layers of bombast that it’s hard to know when they are being authentic, showy, or just spewing flotsam. Yet, extroverts are most likely to be leaders because they talk loud and carry a big stick.

George Mason economics professor and Oxford humanities associates Robin Hanson sums up the egg and onion divergence:

I’ve sometimes been tempted to classify people as egg people and onion people. Onion people have layer after layer after layer. You peel it back, and there’s still more layers. You don’t really know what’s underneath. Whereas egg people, there’s a shell, and you get through it, and you see what’s on the inside.

Are ambiverts egg or onion people?

Ambiverts are more like salad people, easy to digest and mix in with all types of other folks and scenarios. They’re adaptable like a chameleon depending on whatever social situation they’re in.

We all contain multitudes. But it is the mouth that separates us apart, with different levels of signaling.

Words are the original memes, for which some things are still best unshared and unsaid. Sometimes silence does all the messy talking, reveals all that needs to be conveyed. As Susan Cain puts it: “We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.”

art via giphy

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How to unthink

How to unthink

Knowledge can be a hindrance. The more we know, the more likely we're to hesitate in times of execution.

So the overthinking basketball player misses a wide-open layup, the tennis player misses an easy return, or the painter or writer can't seem to get their inspiration to convert on a blank canvas.

Stalling is a symptom of facing the resistance. When we try too hard to be perfect, we may do nothing at all.

So how can we stem the tide of excess contemplation?

One of the ways to think less author Flann O'Brien once said was to act “calculatedly stupid” and to enjoy what we're doing. As Vincent Van Gogh put it: “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile.”

We are at our best when we're relaxed and instinctive, free from the chaos of the monkey mind.

Unthinking is the ability to apply years of learning at the crucial moment by removing your thinking self from the equation. Its power is not confined to sport: actors and musicians know about it too, and are apt to say that their best work happens in a kind of trance.

So do the work and let go, let God. Let inspiration be free-floating perspiration.

Read Non cogito, ergo sum

art via giphy

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Write a memoir to make sense of your life

A gif of writing papers

“Why write? To write. To make something.”

Claude Simon

Most people think of writing as a creative outlet. But it's also an instrument for coping.

According to recent studies, writing your own memoir has various psychological benefits. Whether for private eyes or for public viewing, writing extensively about traumatic events helps you break free from the cage of anxiety.

“Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.”

Words can save your life

Making sense of the past not only gives you perspective, it also strengthens your personal operating system by refocusing attention on what matters.

Want to better control your inner-narrative? Consider funneling your thoughts from mind to paper by starting your own memoir.

gif by @soulpancake

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Pursuing boredom for boredom’s sake

A gif of a bored robot thinking

If you can't stand boredom for boredom's sake, take on a mundane task to put your mind in a wandering state.

Doing the dishes, organizing your vinyl collection, mowing the lawn, and taking a shower are all triggers that help release you from the grip of now.

Your brain needs time to chew over all that it absorbs, which it can only do by looking backward and rummaging though experiences, memes, and fleeting thoughts to bring them back alive.

Pursing tedium rewires the unconscious mind and strengthens mental processing. The commonly suppressed emotion of boredom is a gateway to your best thoughts, an incubator of innovation.

“I’m a big believer in boredom. … All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”

Steve Jobs

It is no surprise that eureka moments occur when you suspend the sober thinking robot and let your mind play instead.

Genius strikes when you quell the monkey mind, roaming into a chore with the means to chase something.

gif by @abelmvada


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How design dictates behavior

A gif of eyeballs moving around in trippy, Psychedelic fashion

Left, right, top, and bottom…

Designers make decisions every day that dictate human behavior. The social media notification–in Instagram aesthetics the heart–is what keeps users opening the app more than a dozen times a day.

How many likes did we get on our last post? Any new followers? We crave the variable reward, chasing persistent novelty in the cocoon of candy-colored lights.

Site architecture, like a map, is a mere representation. It's an illustrated abstraction of territory just as skeuomorphism makes an icon for trash look like a garbage can.

Design is everything. The user interface makes no distinction between a screen and reality–it just wants us to stick around and navigate. The distinction between what we see versus the actual pixels creates a fragmented perspective, with a deliberate me and a hooked me.

gif by @sguimaraens

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Thinking through the repetition

Gif of brain bouncing from wall to wall

Doing the dishes, sweeping the leaves, shooting free throws, organizing your records—repetitive tasks can also be mindful experiences.

There’s something about the fluidity of motion that jogs the brain into a presence on par with meditation.

You’d think that boredom would set in and condemn our brains to seek dopamine-hitting pleasures. But some of the most everyday activities, even driving the car, can be therapeutic.

Thinking without thinking is a liberating experience. Unlike the robot, the brain never rests; rather, it is collecting itself in moments of pause to seek understanding and clarity of purpose.

gif by @liannedias

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Evaluating self-growth

A gif or flowers blooming out of a person's head

Resolving a problem creates new challenges, not in the immediate front but in the long-term as we learn new things and the issues become more transparent. 

This is why most people prefer to live in the comfort of the status quo. Why change a lifestyle that throws us off the pedestal of satisfaction?

Life is a mindset of either chasing growth or mediocrity, a liking for variables or a fancy for sameness. The former is not a proposition for manic action, which can also lead to burnout. Similarily, the latter's osbession with habits is not a guarantor of doing nothing.

One can still embrace the power of activity without the backlash of restlessness. To do nothing but reflect in meditation or on the move in a walk in the park opens the floodgates to keen observation and the next revelation.

Art by @Waywardteacup

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