Hashtag heaven

Luxury today and tomorrow will be defined by the ability to disconnect, to live a secret life where there’s no need to stay constantly connected for the sole purpose of a future job or fear of missing out.

Social media is a poor insurance policy. Except disconnecting is not the goal — moderation is.

An excess of anything will make you sick, your eyes roll and stomach turn. The culprits: beer, candy, coffee, tv, and screen opiates.

Drunk and unconscious, the dopamine on loop — you aren’t meant to pursue hedonism all the time. You need time to restore some willpower.

The connective power of the internet is uncanny. Mobile tech is too good to be true. But we don’t need to be a millionaire to stem its negative impact.

The key to unlocking hashtag heaven is to take a deliberate break every once in a while. Leave your phone behind or you’ll unconsciously use it.

Instead, grab a leash and take your thoughts for a walk. That’s wellness that works.

‘Short sleep predicts a shorter life’

I never sleep/because sleep is the cousin of death.

Nas, ‘New York State of Mind’

Everyone knows sleep is critical few people prioritize it. Some folks think it’s a badge of honor to get five hours a night. But your brain literally eats itself when you don’t sleep. 

Sleep is a ‘non-negotiable biological necessity.’

And why not get a few extra 💤? We’re all geniuses when we dream.

Nectar Summer Sale

Why sitting is bad for you, animated

Sitting is the new smoking. While that claim may be a bit exaggerated, it is an effective reminder to remind ourselves to take our body for a walk.

The more than 360 joints inside our bodies are also ample evidence that we are built to stand up and move. And while more offices are including stand up desks and other mobility devices, the sedentary lifestyle still dominates.

Sitting for long periods of time reduces overall blood flow, particularly the oxygen that gets pushed via bloodstream through the lungs to the brain.

So, set yourself a reminder to get up every half hour and move around. But beware of text neck.

How taking an afternoon ‘nappuccino’ increases productivity ☕💤

person holding pink ceramic mug

Like most people, my brain starts to fizzle out between 2 and 3pm. According to science, this isn’t due to a lunch hangover but rather a part of our circadian rhythm.

To preempt the inevitable afternoon slothfulness, author Dan Pink proposes to take a nappuccino. He recommends that before you take your 20-minute nap (science shows that more than 20 minutes can make you feel drowsier), you should drink a cup of coffee.

Writes Pink in his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing:

The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about 25 minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.

The pre-nap caffeination will give you an extra boost when you wake up. Your brain will be sharper and more focused. You’ll also receive all the benefits of a nap: lower blood pressure and a stronger heart.

You can read more about the nappuccino productivity hack here.

Yet more evidence that standing at work is better for you than sitting

work standing up, standing desk, diy standing desk, work standing desk, productivity desk setup, standing desk adjustable, #productivity #lifehack #workmode

recent study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University validates standing desks.

Not only is standing better for your health, it also strengthens your focus. This is because the stress of holding your posture improves selective attention.

The Stroop effect

The researchers had university students alternate between standing and sitting while testing their reaction time to a task of naming a color. The words printed behind the color either matched or conflicted the one in text (e.g., the word “blue” printed in red ink instead of blue ink).

Participants seemed to process congruent data — when the word and print color matched — at the same speed, or slightly slower, when they were sitting compared to when they were standing. But they processed incongruent data – when the word and print color did not match — more quickly when they were on their feet.

The study demonstrates that not all multitasking crimps productivity. In fact, overcompensating for the added stress on your feet sharpens your focus. As someone who just bought a standing desk myself (I highly recommend the Spark desk by Ergodriven for anyone starting out), I believe the studies to be true.

By engaging with my body, standing improves the selectivity of attention. I also use an anti-fatigue mat (check out the Topo by Ergodriven) to mix up my stances to avoid getting achy or tired.

Nevertheless, this latest study suggests that researchers consider other postures than sitting as part of their cognitive testing.

Alien Hand Syndrome

giphy
via NPR

What if you woke up one day and had a brand new second hand that moved on its own?

This is what happened to Karen after she had brain surgery to help cure her epilepsy. After her operation, her left hand immediately took on a life of its own. For starters, it immediately began to unbutton her shirt on the hospital bed while the surgeon pleaded her to stop.

After she went home the hand started to do other things like slapping her, which reminded me of the self-beating Jim Carrey famously gives himself in the movie Liar Liar.

What caused her alien hand syndrome?

Apparently, the surgery had to split her brain and removed her Corpus callosum, which ties the left and right brain hemisphere together. Basically, the operation caused the opposing sides of her brain to switch roles.

Fortunately, Karen has come to appreciate the moral authority her left hand tries to impose on her decision-making. Any time she tries to smoke, for example, her left hand puts the cigarette out and even flicks the ashes around.

Karen’s come to appreciate the magic discipline of her hand. However, she still gets in a smoke or two. “I understand you want me to quit,” she tells her hand, “but cut the crap!”

‘Grab a leash and take your thoughts for a walk.’

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Said Henry David Thoreau, “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”

Walking boosts creativity.

If you ever get stuck in a creative rut, science shows that you should go for a stroll to get your endorphins moving.

As learning scientist Marily Oppezzo notes in her TED presentation below, walking generates twice the ideas. Even if you walk and then sit, your mind will continue to generate novelty.

But you can’t just walk forever, nor should you run. You should discuss your ideas out loud; the good ones will stick around. If you really want to remember everything discussed, record the thinking session on your phone.

So, how do you walk and brainstorm?

Says Oppezzo:

  1. Pick a problem/topic for brainstorm
  2. Walk at a comfortable pace WHILE you are brainstorming
  3. Generate as many ideas a you can
  4. Speak and record your ideas
  5. Cap your time

The chair-based lifestyle is not only killing us, but it’s also stifling good ideas. Go for a walk to freshen up your pattern of thinking.

Why we need sleep 😴

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“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”

That revolutionary new treatment is sleep. Even jellyfish get sluggish when they don’t get enough.

Looking forward to reading this: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Read The Guardian’s review.

6 tips for a healthy life

gif by Amro Arida

105-year-old Japanese doctor Shigeaki Hinohara shared his six tips for a healthy life before he passed away in July.

‘6 tips for a healthy life’ (in summary):

  1. Retire late (very late)
  2. Watch your weight
  3. Have fun
  4. Share what you know
  5. Don’t worry about material possessions
  6. Take the stairs

In other words, keep your brain active and the curiosity engine running, don’t eat crap or in excess, relax and let go, educate and inspire, try to be minimalist, and move around often.

The mind is the kite and the heart is the string. The body and mind work in symphony. Practice what you preach.


‘Sitting is the new smoking’ 

via giphy

On the contrary, sitting is not the modern plague. It’s just the scary metaphor health practitioners use to remind us to get up and move every once in a while. They recommend standing up 5-10 minutes for every 45 minutes we’re sedentary.

The tagline caught on because doctors grew concerned that people weren’t active enough, even kids. Instead of shooting hoops, children were playing NBA 2k inside while their parents slaved away answering work emails on their digital devices. Everyone was gaining weight and increasing their chances of diabetes and heart disease.

While it’s true “the design of the human being is to be a mobile entity,” marketers sell fear.  Did you know that taking ‘10,000 steps’ was just a sales gimmick created in Japan?

A watchmaker named Yamasa Tokei originally trotted out the 10,000 steps thing in 1965. He made and sold a pedometer he called Manpo-Kei, which when repeated out loud mimics the rhythm of a walk. In Japanese this translates into “10,000 step meter.” Ads for Tokei’s device said, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”

Like everything else in life, sitting is about balance. We sit to focus and meditate. We stand to manage emails and other routine tasks. Buy a standing desk if it helps or stack some books on top of each other and make your own. Walking meetings are also known to help jog the brain. Make what you want on the campaign for movement, but be careful to align sitting with smoking when the former is a more of a preference and the latter is a proven killer. Coffee, anyone?

Why life hacks are a more efficient way of cheating

creatures of habit
Creatures of habit

Hacking diets, hacking sleep, hacking homework, hacking workouts, hacking language learning. Despite being a shortcut, life hacks work because they still require effort–they are the perfect placebo.

Fortunately, we live in a digital age where apps help us develop strong habits. We can learn French more efficiently in 5-minutes on Duolingo a day than paying for a 45-minute class. The 7-minute daily workout is scientifically proven to strengthen our core muscles. Simplifying learning and exercise not only save time, but they also produce real results.

As imperfect humans, we seek guides to life that sustain encouragement and don’t take a full-time commitment– we strive for good enough. Yes, we can just as easily avoid effort by medicating our problems away–taking an Adderall to get to work, drinking a Coffiest instead of eating breakfast and drinking coffee, or skipping the gym to get weight loss surgery. But those are shortcuts that force an unnatural behavior. What we long for is a system of practices that lead to natural results.

The reason we yield to bad habits is that we either can’t control our resistance or don’t care enough to find an alternative. The trick, therefore, is getting started, making small successful actions like doing one push-up until we can do five. Once we get started, according to the Zeigarnik effect, we’re less likely to give up. Life hacks not only kickstart positive habits; they help them stick around. The only way to reap the rewards it to do the work.

Gardening the brain with a good night’s rest

sleeping brain
Sleep refreshes the brain

Your brain works like a dishwasher when you sleep, cleaning out the dirty information and tidying up the important stuff. You can also think of the sleeping mind as working as a garden, growing “synaptic connections between neurons” so neurotransmitters can pass through.

“Your brain cleans itself out when you sleep—your brain cells shrinking by up to 60% to create space for your glial gardeners to come in take away the waste and prune the synapses.”

Sleeping permits the glial gardeners, also called “microglial cells,” to sweep through your brain and make space for learning new information. A well-rested brain is like walking gracefully through the park. On the other hand, a tired brain leaves it cloudy.

“Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a machete. Its overgrown, slow going, exhausting.”

The brain also recycles synaptic connections during sleep. Thinking about positive things throughout the day will help keep those thoughts top of mind. Meanwhile, harping on jealousy or hatred will make the brain cling to unwanted trash.

“To take advantage of your brain’s natural gardening system, simply think about the things that are important to you. Your gardeners will strengthen those connections and prune the ones that you care about less. It’s how you help the garden of your brain flower.”

You are what you think about all day, which gets reinforced during sleep. Be mindful of the memories you want to keep and forget the rest, letting the brain delete the crap.

Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button—Here’s How To Use It

Ways to cope with OCD

ways to cope with ocd, ways cope ocd, overcoming ocd

I wrote a book when I was 25 about ways to cope with OCD. I put the details of my experience with OCD up on Amazon and promoted it quietly, unsure what future employer and online people would think about me if they saw it.

PS: If you want a free copy, you can download it on my website here. A donation in return is welcome.

I published it to help other people suffering from OCD. Surprisingly, I saw good feedback and sold some which inspired me to write other books of interest about creativity and technology–also core topics of this blog.

I’m 32 now and have thought about writing an updated version of my OCD book. A lot of the core tenets remain, the most fundamental being that ‘thoughts are just thoughts,’ but more importantly to accept the condition for what it is.

The brains of OCD people are wired differently. Our anxiety writes its own Hollywood script. The disorder skews perspective, which can help when it comes to looking at things differently and making stuff.

Having OCD is a blessing and a curse. There are days when I wish I could just think like a normal person, especially when I get trapped in ridiculous thoughts. There are times when I get stuck in the perfectionist treadmill and just want to quit entirely. But mindfulness teaches you how to embrace these complexities.

OCD can help you tolerate ambiguity because it senses the dialectic, helping sufferers rise above the concept of sidedness altogether. OCD makes people more emphatic. The author Bernard Malamud once said, “if you haven’t suffered, you haven’t yet lived.”

Suffering gives you skills to cope–it puts the bones in the goose–by overcompensating for your handicap, you excel.

“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.” – Malcolm Gladwell

OCD is all about being conscious of your condition, accepting its doubts, while still having the ability to move forward. Winston Churchill suffered from OCD. His self-talk, “Keep Calm and Carry On” may have saved himself and Britain. But for every Churchill, there’s a Howard Hughes, who’s OCD got the best of him.

Coping with OCD is a daily challenge. And while it’s annoying and pervasive, it makes life more interesting.

#metoo

Digitizing Health

Have you been to the hospital recently? They want to digitize your health. They want to make your history searchable and easily shareable. Even Apple wants you to create a medical ID.

Converting your health into an app saves countless hours of paperwork. It can even save lives, crawling back into your history, and your family’s history, to prevent or slow down illnesses. But an abundance of health data can also sensationalize the facts.

Doctors are already handing out Ritalin like candy. Imagine all the other medicine they’ll give away to preempt or control made-up illnesses.

Cloud-based health data is big business with huge benefits. But beware doctors selling fictitious bugs.