Categories
Productivity & Work

Trust the routine

The writer, blogger, or boxer must always keep in training. The artist or athlete can’t wait for the muse to inject them with productivity serum.

Routine is much more compelling than inspiration, which is fickle, comes in flashes, and rarely sticks.

On the flipside of consistency, is also imperfection. The practician not only faces the resistance, they also face human error.

Showing up every day is one thing, doing it again regardless of the results is yet another habit to develop. All that you are is a result of what you have thought.

Error is human. You need some form of struggle to remind you what needs tweaking. However, when the going gets good, you’ll want to maintain it.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to do it all again tomorrow, build off the confidence of yesterday.

I’ll leave you with this advice from thought leader and psychologist Benjamin Hardy.

Get this clear: confidence is a direct reflection of past performance. Hence, yesterday is more important than today. Luckily, today is tomorrow’s yesterday. So, even if your confidence today isn’t optimal, your confidence tomorrow is still within your control.

Benjamin Hardy
Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Doubt your fears

Depower them. Calm them with their own doubt.

Fears are the mind-killer. They taunt the lizard brain into fight or flight. They thrive on ‘what if’ scenarios that haunt the imagination. There are no limits to what the mind can fabricate.

But the head is psychologically safe, physiologically sound.

Fright tries to wrestle with human insecurity and scratch away the varnish of bravery.

Can you endure the storm?

Fears are in their very nature abstract. Face them in their stark simplicity and they lose potency.

Categories
Psychology

Making peace with fear

We can make peace with the anxiety of anticipation. But it’s the hope that kills. What we need to gauge the nerves is preparation.

One way of accomplishing this is through fear-setting, a practice which requires that we envision the worst outcome. By going toward the fear, we undermine its strength and power our resolve. 

The counterintuitive nature of the fear-setting approach is why it works. Using our imagination, we literally live through something before it happens. The mere process of visualization provides action steps that tame the monkey mind. 

Wrote the Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger: “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” At least we have mental exposure to help stem the tide. 

Categories
Psychology

Managing the amygdala, the fear center of the brain


If humans didn’t have an amygdala — the two tiny almond-shaped nuclei in the temporal lobes of the brain — we wouldn’t have any fear. We wouldn’t know how to process risk, thereby letting us go hug a bear or climb the highest cliff.

But we do feel fear and in most cases, we’re smart enough to run away or not do anything as a survival tactic. The problem becomes though when fear has us running away from the very things we wish to accomplish.

As they say, do something enough and the fear dissipates. The habit of practicing public speaking reduces presentation anxiety. Shooting hoops every day will make you more confident at the free throw line come game time.

The obstacle is the way

Risk-taking helps develop courage which helps engender competence. We shouldn’t ever feel fear, but we should be able to manage its impact.

In doing anything more and more, whether it’s through risk-taking, practice, or visualization, we can dull the senses. We can take things on without thinking about them or second-guessing ourselves.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry Psychology

Crossing to safety

gif by Wells Baum

Home is where the heart is, but it is not where we discover what the world is about.

All reality exists in the streets, behind the shadows of a passerby.

What is artificial is the parochial nature of home.

We are blind to what we can’t see, organizing our periphery to notice and absorb what is under our control.

What remains ensconced remains enclosed, behind a wall of shallowness. People often make the mistake of accepting the reality of the world presented.

We flinch at what we don’t know. Little do we know, that discomfort leads us to the other side.

When we strive to get outside the bubble, we may come out changed.

Categories
Arts Books Productivity & Work Quotes

Define your fears instead of your goals

steven pressfield scared work

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

— Steven Pressfield, The War Of Art

Echoing Seth Godin, “Habits are more important than fears.” Or as Tim Ferriss says, “Define your fears instead of your goals.”

Categories
Productivity & Work Psychology

Fear is never as bad as it seems

via giphy

Most fears are irrational.

When we let what we’re scared of drive our decision-making, we seek safety which mostly means inaction. Like algae, we prefer to stay local, isolated from the from the sun that feeds us with its light.

So how can we get where we want to go when a constant state of dread lies in our way?

When stuck in doubt, heed the words of Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger: “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” The amygdala exaggerates our anxieties.

If we’re courageous enough, we’ll say yes and do it anyway.

Fear is both natural and artificial; if used wisely, it can be the impetus for action.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Photography Productivity & Work

Business (un)usual 

vlad-shapochnikov-127780.jpg

Living on the edge is dangerous but that’s exactly why we pursue it: it makes us feel more alive.

Being a thrill-seeker goes beyond Nascar and rock climbing. Anything that fills you with both anxiety confidence can make you feel more alive, like delivering a public speech.

Sometimes it pays off to get out of your comfort zone, at least to remind us that we’re still awake, and can always do more than what we expected.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

Save the worry for later

Instapaper your worries. That is, save them for later. By the time you come back to them, they’ll only be important if they’re still on your mind.

Anxiety is a trigger, one that works to benefit you. You’ll continue to think about the exam if you do nothing about it. Studying builds up your confidence and reduces your nervousness. Nevertheless, some worries are like inbox zero are excessive. Overthinking can often lead to overdoing, which falsely prioritizes unimportant things like answering every email.

Save the worry for later
Allay the fear by doing something about it (image from Thin Slices of Anxiety)

The longer you wait to tackle apprehension, the more anxious you’ll get. In fact, the feeling of procrastination is often worse than doing the actual work. Everything fades away once you get started, paving the way for a clearer future ahead.

Categories
Psychology Science

Rock climber Alex Honnold demonstrates how to dance with fear

The amygdala is the prehistoric part of our brain responsible for controlling fear and pleasure. It tells us when to flee from a dangerous situation such as when we see a lion in the jungle; it also encourages us to seek more of something whether that be social media likes or sex.

But legendary solo rock climber Alex Honnold may be immune to fear. That was the hypothesis until he allowed scientists to take an MRI of his brain to measure his fear levels.

It turns out that Honnold is predisposed to fear just like everybody else, but he has been so accustomed to facing worse case scenarios through visualization and experience, he is not only used to it; he knows what to do when he climbs into perilous situations. He is a so-called a “super sensation seeker,” one that puts fear in its place before it even makes him second guess himself.

“If you don’t have any fear to begin with, there’s a lot less to control.”

It reminded me of a little bit of Michael Jordan; he used to practice so hard that the games were often easier. Furthermore, it is the preparation — both physical and mental — that set up success and make some achievers appear godly.

If you want a brain like Honnold’s, you need be willing to dance with fear again and again. By moving toward your fear, you train your amygdala to be less reactive so you can just execute.

“You may not have the traits of a super sensation seeker, or be able to quench your amygdala on command, but with conscious effort and gradual, repeated exposure to what you fear, any one of us might muster courage that we didn’t know we had.”

Would you think twice?