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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

How to turn a handicap into an advantage

“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

Some people have no choice but to try harder than others because they’re handicapped.

So the shorter basketball player develops quickness and anticipation in order to compensate for a lack of height.

A dyslexic student practices harder than anyone else to read and write — in doing so, they unlock a new way to play with prose. Maybe they even become a poet or build a media empire, like Richard Branson.

A disability can be a gift in disguise

In working harder to overcompensate for these perceived disadvantages, one begins to see that what makes them successful is exactly the thing that causes them so much struggle.

As the author Bernard Malamud once said, “if you haven’t struggled you haven’t yet lived.”

Embracing the dialectic of a beautiful struggle is what underdogs do. They have no choice but to cope with their weaknesses and find other ways to win.

The following formula helps explain the phenomenon of beating adversity:

Handicap + Struggles + Diligence + Overcompensation + Creativity + Innovation = Success

With the right mindset and effort, a handicap can outweigh its inherent limitations.

Categories
Tech

The dopamine surge

A gif of woman swinging below clouds

Dopamine is a superpower. Our brain hunts it down with the expectation of feeding it with some type of satisfaction, be it coffee or social media.

But our anticipation often exceeds reality. The coffee aroma smells better than the grounded beans actually taste. We only go on vacation with the promise of taking photos and sharing them on Instagram. Looking forward to these experiences energize us but fade just as quickly once we realize them.

Our neurons swim in desire, all the while ignoring the risks for drowning in it. Like a magnet, we are drawn to the pleasures of stimulants and irreality.

There’s no stopping us from swinging into the emotional rollercoaster, only to find that the high is not permanent like a tattoo. We can only rent moods and activities for so long.

gif by percolategalactic

Categories
Books Psychology

The link between imagination and anxiety

Anxiety GIF
Cover for book Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety

“Anxiety is the price we pay for an ability to imagine the future. That’s what anxiety is, an imagination of a future that hasn’t happened yet, but that you are concerned with, worried about, dreading, and so on.”

Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety

art by @aishwaryasadasivan

Categories
Daily Prompts Life & Philosophy Poetry

The effect of expectation

The placebo creates a ceremony of expectation. It builds off novelty and reinvigorates confidence in the possibility of recovery.

We all fall victim to the soft mental implantation of a placebo, the oldest medicine in the world. One simple belief kickstarts a chemical revolution. But in reality, the answer just needed to be poked from dormancy.

Reawakened, the inner narrative thrives on hedonic editing.

We certify the belief in our internal storage. Over time, it gains credibility and records the transaction on the human block chain of the genetic code. Truth happens to the idea

If at first, we expect, then we can succeed. It is faith that moves mountains.

Categories
Books Culture Psychology Science

Michael Pollan goes tripping on psychedelics for his new book

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s the short and sweet dietary advice offered by journalist Michael Pollan. But after writing Cooked, now he’s back with a new challenge: psychedelics.

Pollan’s autobiography on his first-hand experience with LSD and mushrooms are sure to interest people once more. He tells the Financial Times:

“There is a reason this book came into my life at this time,” he says. The author was turning 60, and felt the need to break mental habits, to “shake up the snow globe”: “taking the drugs and writing the book came from the same impulse: to try something new”.

Despite one bad experience smoking venom of the Sonoran Desert Frog, most of his trips were like enhanced meditations.

The highlight was going through “ego-dissolution”. Ego is, in many ways, the villain of Pollan’s book — a vigilant, tyrannical force that gets things done and looks after one’s interests, but is fearful and prevents “a fusion of the personal self into a larger whole”. As he writes in How to Change Your Mind, on mushrooms Pollan felt “a merging with other people, with nature . . . I realised that the ground of your ego is not the only ground on which you can stand. And that was a mind-blowing idea.” Channelling Aldous Huxley, he felt that “a door . . . opened for me on to a realm of human experience that for 60 years had been closed”.

In addition to seeking his own personal ‘reboot,’ Pollan’s other ambition was to shake up the stigma around psychedelic therapy and microdosing popularized in Silicon Valley. Keep in mind that Steve Jobs said that taking LSD was one of the “two or three most important things” he did in life.

While Pollan is not advocating for the legalization of LDS and other potent drugs, his experience suggests that their mental benefits are worthy of more research.

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Uncategorized

There are two types of progress:

  • Progress you can make toward an end-goal such as a project with a final completion date
  • Progress you can make against an ailment like OCD which you can never fully defeat

Progress is just as good as perfection. In fact, no one ever achieves perfection. They just achieve more and more exactitude.

“I listened, I was aware of my success, but I never stopped trying to get better.” – Michael Jordan

Imperfection is the game of acceptance. If people are flawless, they won’t feel the need to overcompensate for their flaws which is really the catalyst that makes them great in the first place.

Perfection is boring. Imperfections make life more interesting and ambitious. Life should be a beautiful struggle.