Culture Productivity & Work Tech

‘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?

Productivity & Work Psychology

Why life hacks are a more efficient way of cheating

Why life hacks are a more efficient way of cheating
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 performing 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 is to do the work.

Life & Philosophy Productivity & 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

Creativity Life & Philosophy

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.



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.


Too Much Information

Google provides the information you need right when you need it, for better and for worse.

Googling your symptoms displays what you have and recommends what to take to help treat it. But having instant access to a world of information produces unnecessary anxiety.

How many times have you looked up your symptoms and identified with a disease? We’re convinced that we always have something. This exaggeration creates a fear of imminent risk so urgent we rush to the emergency room to find an solution.

People Google themselves into the hospital even though it’s the last place they want to go. Maybe it’s even beneficial to check in once in a while. But as truth seekers, we risk turning the non-emergency into an emergency. Sometimes the best solution is just time, and maybe a little bit less anxiety.