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Life & Philosophy

Turning problems into opportunities

Opportunities and problems go together, often masked as one of the same. It’s your perspective that determines how well you exploit this dialectic.

It’s always easier to play the role of a pessimist. Bad thoughts are typically stickier than good ones. Optimism is harder to produce.

However, when you look at your challenges with a pragmatic lens, you realize there’s hope.

There will inevitably be some wins along the way, even if they’re incremental. After all, the Chinese word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

William James

The mind quickly identifies fake and forced positive thoughts. It also catches you from falling into a morass of negativity.

When you run away from a problem because the amygdala has told you to play it safe, you pass the opportunity by.

Dancing with the tension between thought and action motivates the search for solutions. He who hesitates caused by the dizziness of anxiety — a type of failure in advance — is sure to be lost.

Categories
Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology Writing

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

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

Make believe 

The story you tell yourself is just as important as the one you tell others. Ideally, both thoughts and actions align. But cognitive dissonance often pits your beliefs and actions against each other.

To achieve what you want, you need both desire and competence. The challenge for all beginners is a lack of practice and experience. If you can accept failure as part of the experiment while feeling the aura of success — even if it’s the smallest win — you’re more likely to keep doing it.

“The more we do, the more we can do.”

William Hazlitt

Your attitude is an essential part of your motivation. You don’t just fake it until you make it; you fail until you succeed. Failure is really progress in disguise. Your self-beliefs and perspective will predetermine how you’ll act and deal with any setbacks.

Stories encourage dreams until one day they become real.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

William James
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These days I do nothing just as often as I do something. And shockingly, it has made me more productive. I have better ideas, and when I work I am faster and more eloquent, because I have had time to organize my thoughts.

— Jessica Runs, “Why We Need Nomads
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Uncategorized

The Perils of Positive and Negative Thinking

A positive thinker can’t relax because the imagination takes a lot of effort.  A negative thinker can’t relax because listlessness gets nothing gets done at all.

Both action and inaction create frustration.  We either want more or we just want to start.

Both the positive thinker and negative thinker stress about the unforeseeable future.  One is trying to craft it, the other is letting it happen at no avail. 

The positive are more successful because the brain tells them to try more.  Perseverance increases the chances of success.  Negative thinking perpetuates failure because the brain is stuck in pessimism.

Both positive and negative states need to LET GO.  Stop merchandising ideas that don’t exist.  Instead, find something you really like and enjoy doing it, at this moment.  There’s no substitute for being undone in the present.