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Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Doubting our own self-doubt

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The only way to allay doubt is to do. We must face our biggest fears. Perhaps the only thing holding back J.K. Rowling from success was her fear of public speaking — she did it anyway.

It’s most often the thing we’re scared of is exactly the thing we should be doing. It takes courage to persist with tension that wants us to simply give up.

Accept doubt for what it is — it’s there to make you practice and force your confidence. It takes some getting used to.

The trick is not to get rid of uncertainty but rather to play with it, to feel its presence, to caper around as we relax into it. The approach is a bit delusional but no more faulty than suffering more in the imagination than in reality.

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Business Culture Photography Social Media

Taste at first sight 👁👀👁

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“The first taste is always with your eyes.”

Everything is contrived, from the glowing burger buns, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, to the juicy fresh meat. Video takes food advertising even further, making it come alive from its static state.

Table top advertising or food marketing is no different than any other product marketing: the illusion never matches with the reality of creating it. In reality, the food has been dressed up and augmented to look fresh and mouth watering like those lobsters in Red Lobster commercials.

Fashion advertising is similar. The model is always more enticing wearing makeup and sporting a six pack. When models make commercials, they never smile. Bad assery sells.

Not surprisingly, food porn and selfies are huge on Instagram too, the people’s marketing platform. A little bit of shoot preparation and filters make both food and faces look better than they actually are.

Today, anyone can use technology to create a Hollywood look. Everyone’s deceiving and buying lies at the same time. We all desire better versions of ourselves, including what appears on our plates.

Learn more

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

TED Talk: Tim Ferriss ‘Fear-setting’

As an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, investor, motivational speaker, and life hacker, Tim Ferriss is a jack of all trades.

Like many of us, he’s obsessed with work and optimizing work habits. But he learned the hard way. A near suicide and a breakup with his girlfriend made him change. Instead of being goal-driven, he played with ‘what ifs’ in what he calls fear-setting.

To much chagrin, he left his business in 2004 to spend a month in London. It turned out all those fears he had – his company would collapse, the IRS would come after him — never happened. The opposite unfolded. He ended up traveling the world for a year where he lived more and worked less. an experience which led him to write his best-selling book The 4-Hour Work Week (Amazon).

At the core of Tim’s life-practice is stoicism, an age-old philosophy that has guided successful leaders from George Washington to Bill Belichick.

So around 300 BC in Athens, someone named Zeno of Citium taught many lectures walking around a painted porch, a “stoa.” That later became “stoicism.” And in the Greco-Roman world, people used stoicism as a comprehensive system for doing many, many things. But for our purposes, chief among them was training yourself to separate what you can control from what you cannot control, and then doing exercises to focus exclusively on the former. This decreases emotional reactivity, which can be a superpower.

There are two quotes Tim always keeps the top of mind in his daily life. The first is that “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality,” wrote the Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger.

The second comes from a modern-day Stoic Jerzy Gregorek “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life,” which became the backbone in his survival as a political refugee and endurance as four-time world champion Olympic weightlifter. 

Fear-setting is a life practice. It takes a lot of nerve to imagine our worst fears and take calculated risks, but the cost of inaction is even worse. Remember things are never as bad as they seem.

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Books Productivity & Work Tech

What do we read next?

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We suffer from the infinity of choice, to what type of books we’re interested in, all the way down to the format we want to read them in.

Amazon’s recommended book algorithms allay the frustration of making decisions by taking into account your past reads and what others have read to suggest what to consume next.

Algorithms (or recipes) therefore resolve two things: Indecision fatigue caused by the avalanche of choice and the wisdom of crowds.

Spotify Discover Weekly works the same way — after it gets to understand your habits and preferences it recommends prebuilt playlists to appease your taste.

Algorithms free up our brain space to do rather than toggle between the options. They are the antidote to the chaotic linear 21st-century feed.

The more time we spend consuming rather than selecting what’s next is time well spent. By outsourcing our digging, we create more time to learn.

Even the proactive tastemaker must yield to the occasional “if and then” statement to build on top of the symphony of algorithms. A remix is not always artistically lesser than its origins.

In an increasingly algorithmic world, there can still be an element of human touch to prove we’re not headed toward complete thoughtlessness after all.

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Arts Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

Admitting that you’re lost

Whether you’re stuck in a labyrinth or looping around the same racetrack, admitting you’re frustrated and lost is at least a starting point. The hard part is developing a plan to do something about it.

If you want to go pro in any profession, you’re going to have to practice your beliefs and take calculated risks to gauge their rigidity. Doing the work removes the cobwebs of uncertainty.

Being lost is not an excuse to stand still unless something requires patience for results. Dance with the fear and see where it takes you.

And don’t forget to stay loose in the process.

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Psychology Tech

Ludic loop

In his blog post on breaking phone addiction, Erik Barker uses a quote from NYU marketing and psychology professor Adam Antler to explain why we keep checking our phones again and again. The process is called a “ludic loop.” #gif #socialmediaaddiction
via Reddit

In his blog post on breaking phone addiction, Erik Barker uses a quote from NYU marketing and psychology professor Adam Antler to explain why we keep checking our phones again and again. The process is called a “ludic loop.”

The “ludic loop” is this idea that when you’re engaged in an addictive experience, like playing slot machines, you get into this lulled state of tranquility where you just keep doing the thing over and over again. It just becomes the comfortable state for you. You don’t stop until you’re shaken out of that state by something.

So how we do we keep ourselves from going down the Facebook and Instagram rabbit hole? We employ a “stopping rule.”

It’s a rule that says at this point it’s time for me to stop. It breaks the reverie and makes you think of something else; it gets you outside of the space you’ve been in. The best thing to do is to use a declarative statement like, “I don’t watch more than two episodes of a show in a row, that’s just not who I am.”

As Barker points, you can also remove the dopamine hitting apps from your phone and replace them with something useful like the Kindle app to encourage more reading. And in the worst case scenario, you can throw your phone into the ocean, or just leave it in an inconvenient place to prevent the urge to take another futile gamble.